because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pat Schroeder

It was no surprise to a lot of people that Pat Schroeder ran for public office. She had graduated from Harvard Law School. She had worked for Planned Parenthood and the Labor Relations Board. She was an in-your-face woman. So, at thirty-one, she was representing Colorado in the United States House of Representatives. And she sat right there for twenty-three years.

Unapologetically female and a mother, Schroeder took diapers with her onto the Congressional floor and distinguished herself by making bold statements and bold stands on behalf of women. The Military Family Act of 1985 and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, for example, both owed their passing to her push. And she was always fighting the good old boys: undermining the power of committee chairs, questioning Congressional "hideaway" meetings, and challenging unethical traditional practices.

She's the one who called Reagan "the Teflon President." She's the one who talked about all the make-up President Nixon used to wear. And she's the one who told a bunch of Pentagon leaders -- when she was on the House Armed Services Committee -- that if they were women, they'd be pregnant all the time because they never said no.

Needless to say, they were all delighted when she wept in front of a microphone in 1987 as she announced her decision to abandon her run for the Presidency herself. Though, as a woman, she was never allowed to forget her show of emotion afterwards, she only dumped her file of men politicians crying in public when it got too big to keep. Her memoir, published in 1998, was entitled aptly enough 24 Years of Housework...and the Place is Still a Mess. Just imagine what laws might be passed if the female half of the U.S. population was actually represented by in-your-face women like Schroeder.

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