by Imran Siddiquee
After an opening night that featured over a dozen women on stage, the second day of the Republican National Convention felt like a much less female affair. And not just because there were half as many women speaking.
Two days ago Ann Romney praised the love “only a mother can fathom,” effused about the importance of “working moms” and even said “It’s the mom’s of this nation, single, married, widowed, who really hold the country together.”
Yet, Tuesday’s “I love you women!” speech was all but forgotten on Wednesday night. In fact, none of the speakers on day two of the convention, male or female, directly mentioned the importance of women or mothers – who Mrs. Romney had called “the best of America.” The specific economic challenges of women were also ignored, and – not surprisingly – there was no mention (on either night really) of the abortion debate or equal pay legislation.
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez did speak of facing sexism on her road to success, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sort of implied the same with her inspiring story of overcoming racism.
Yet though Rice’s speech was the highlight of the event thus far (Chris Matthews called it “Presidential,” and I got the sense in the room that the crowd agreed), she made no direct reference to the importance of increasing women’s leadership in America – something which she did eloquently speak of in Miss Representation. This felt like a missed opportunity during a fantastic speech in which Rice drew parallels between her life story and that of America.
There was talk of the American revolution, slavery and September 11th – but none of the women’s movement. (Of course, Rice isn’t the only one who could have said something about women in America. Paul Ryan and former Presidential nominee John McCain didn’t do it either.)
The theme of the night was “we can change it,” and the fact remains that the representation of women in political leadership – particularly within the Republican party, where there has been little progress of late – does need to change.
Attending a Lifetime-sponsored party hosted by Meghan McCain late in the evening, subtitled “Celebrating GOP Women’s Leadership,” felt a bit odd.
For all the rousing appearances from women this week (Which, to be clear, were very significant. Seeing someone like Rice give such an epic speech on national TV was momentous during a male-dominated campaign season), there has been no attempt at the convention to concretely define what exactly the party plans to do for women. There are opportunities tonight to rectify this (Only 4 more women are scheduled to speak, though Former Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, who co-chairs Political Parity, has a starring role at 9 PM), but my guess is that the Republicans will finalize their platform without including any plans for shifting the way our culture values women.
In a country where women make up 51% of the population but only 17% of our Congress, that’s a shame.
Written by Imran Siddiquee at MissRepresentation.org. Follow him on Twitter @imransiddiquee