Women's groups should leave driving to Clinton ON POLITICS

Lars-Erik Nelson

December 24, 1992|By Lars-Erik Nelson

WASHINGTON -- Women's activists are seeking jobs in th Clinton administration the old-fashioned way. By nagging.

"Women are waiting," Harriet Woods, who apparently presumes

to speak for all women, told President-elect Bill Clinton in a letter on behalf of the Coalition for Women's Appointments. "They will not be satisfied with two or three out of 14 Cabinet seats."

Women make up 51 percent of the population and 54 percent of registered voters, Ms. Woods said. Her demand: a Clinton administration that consists of 50 percent women.

Anne Bryant, of the American Association of University Women, said women were in fact 53 percent of the population, but she was willing to forgo the extra three percentage points. "We're generous," she said. "We will accept 50 percent of the power."

For Patricia Ireland, head of the National Organization of Women, merely having women in government is not enough. Some of them should be lesbians.

"If we're going to have diversity in the Cabinet, we would like to see people with disabilities, lesbians and gays," she told reporters after a meeting with Clinton transition aides. Ms. Ireland does not insist that the gays and lesbians be "out," i.e., openly acknowledged gays and lesbians, however. They could be secret gays and lesbians in the Cabinet.

But how would we know they're there? How would Mr. Clinton know who the secret homosexuals are so that he could appoint them?

Mr. Clinton blew up at this wheedling Monday, denouncing the "bean counters" of the women's movement for trying to impose quotas on him. He further said their whining had demeaned the two women he had already appointed.

But Mr. Clinton demeaned women himself when his staff let it be known that he was looking at women -- and only women -- for the post of attorney general.

What does that tell his eventual nominee? Not that she was the best qualified lawyer in America -- but that she was the best qualified woman lawyer. She was not required to compete against any men. This is exactly the kind of patronizing condescension that working women have so strenuously fought against.

For all I care, Mr. Clinton could have named nothing but women to his Cabinet. But, on the other hand, why do we need any? What special qualities does being a woman give them?

Whereas once we were supposed to think that women were fully equal to men in all areas of intellect, now some feminists want us to accept what Katha Pollitt acidly describes in the Nation as "the moral superiority of women."

According to this theory, men are innately aggressive and competitive, women cooperate; men are aloof, women nurture; men are rigidly logical, women are closer to nature.

"Women politicians tout their playground-honed negotiating skills, their ego-less devotion to public service, their gender-based commitment to fairness and caring," Ms. Pollitt writes in a wonderful debunking of the new feminist ideology.

But if women are by the innate nature of their sex less aggressive and more cooperative than men, why in the world would we want a woman as attorney general? Fortunately, this stereotype of the cooperative, caring, unaggressive woman is no vTC more valid when proposed by a feminist than it was when it was used by male chauvinists to keep women in their place as cookie-baking homemakers.

Instead of becoming a sex-blind, color-blind society where each individual is judged on his or her merits, these women's activists are promoting a group entitlement. They say they want to break through the "glass ceiling" that gives women some small but limited place in the political hierarchy. In fact, they merely want a higher ceiling -- 50 percent -- as their proper quota.

In their fascination with quotas, the women's activists are practicing sexist bigotry. Name a man to a job and they do not see his qualifications. He may be the most enlightened, educated, experienced, caring, compassionate human being on the face of the Earth. That's not good enough. He's a man.

This may never have been tried in print before, but I now attempt to give them the raspberry they so richly deserve: Thhhhrrrrp.

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