Michigan State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) wrote an op-ed piece that appeared in today's Detroit Free Press. She writes that Senator Rick Jones' (R-Grand Ledge) comparison of a prominent female public relations professional to a "hooker" is one of many incidents of sexism that she's witnessed in Lansing.
As a female legislator, I often speak to groups of women -- from Girl Scouts and graduates to fellow female attorneys and aspiring politicians. I share my personal experiences and discuss the myriad of challenges females face in elected office. But I rarely convey how much chauvinism and sexism still go on in politics today because, quite frankly, I am embarrassed by it. I do not have the heart to tell a classroom full of girls that the same attitudes and animosity they encounter on the playground persist to our highest levels of government.
She spoke to Michigan Radio's Jennifer White on Michigan Radio's All Things Considered about her observations of sexist behavior at the state Capitol. She told White, she had hoped the election of Jennifer Granholm as Governor would have ushered in an era when women in politics would be treated more equally. Instead she says the reverse was the case. She says sexism in Lansing has increased as the number of women in elected office in Lansing has decreased.
Senator Whitmer says the sexism in state government sends a message that Michigan is a backwards state.
In her Detroit Free Press op-ed she writes,
With its "boys will be boys" mentality, the good ol' boys network in Lansing has gotten out of hand and must stop. A strong woman is NOT a bitch. A successful woman is NOT a hooker or a gold-digger. A compassionate woman is NOT overly sensitive and thin-skinned. And a passionate woman is NOT shrill.