Alexandra Russell: Applauds women who are challenging incumbents

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Applauds women who are challenging incumbents

I appreciate Dave Eisenstadter’s reporting on gender and politics in the state Senate race to replace Stan Rosenberg “Gender & Politics,” June 9-10), and it’s worth digging even further to expose some of the deeper sexism and misogynism that is underneath this race.

Something much larger is happening in our little state and across the country and it’s forcing the bigger question of who gets to run and when. According to wholeads.us, white men comprise just 36 percent of the Massachusetts population yet they hold 68 percent of all state legislative seats. And, the Boston Globe reports, that even in this exciting year, over 100 our state legislators will run unopposed this cycle. Simply put, in order for Beacon Hill to reflect our demography, women must challenge incumbents.

And yet, it’s interesting that often when men challenge other men (a current statewide example is Josh Zakim for secretary of state), there is little talk of these men being opportunistic, unqualified or told to stand by and wait their turn. Men don’t always wait their turn, so why should women? We’re coming off the sidelines and it’s going to be uncomfortable and ruffle some feathers. So be it.

I applaud the women who are challenging sitting Congressional incumbents this cycle and the countless other women taking on sitting Republican and Democratic state legislators. Their candidacies are a needed affront to entrenched power. Win or lose, they are invigorating the debate and courageously claiming long overdue space for women and women of color.

And, wherever we all may land in our now crowded field for the state Senate race, let’s applaud the brave woman who was willing to take a risk to get in the game. For us to progress and reach gender parity, we’re going to have to shake things up and play the game differently.

Given what male leadership is bringing us (especially at the national level), it’s high time to let women take some overdue control. My hunch is that we’ll all be better off for it.

Alexandra Russell