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Repost: Interview With Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Part I

Our lovely blogmother, Riverdaughter, has requested that I repost this interview with one of the possible contenders for Hillary Clinton’s Senate Seat, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

Doesn’t this woman seem just an eensy, weensy bit more qualified than Princess Caroline?

You Said It, Sister!
You Said It, Sister!

And speaking of “uneducated old women…” The following is Part I of my email interview with the gracious, intelligent, fiery and fabulous feminist, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, after reading her book: “Rumours of Our Progress Have Been Greatly Exaggerated.” Part II will be posted tomorrow.

MadamaB: Your path to politics was far from direct. Could you share some of that journey?

CM: When I was growing up, I never dreamed of going to Congress. The options for women were very limited. I thought I would be a teacher, librarian or a nurse. Politics wasn’t even a possibility. I can remember reading an interview in Life Magazine with Margaret Chase Smith, Senator from Maine, that illustrates the thinking of women in politics when I was growing up. The interviewer asked Senator Smith what she would do if she woke up in the White House one day. She answered: “I’d apologize to Bess Truman immediately and leave.” It just shows how self-effacing a female politician had to be in those days – the idea that she might want to run for higher office was just too threatening. If you asked Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi what they would do, they’d have a list. It just shows how far we’ve come but, as I show in my book, not enough.

When I left college, I came to New York and became a teacher, teaching English as a second language to immigrant women in upper Manhattan. Within a year after I started, my program lost its funding. I was nominated by my colleagues to lobby the legislature to get the funding restored. I was successful, and my success got me noticed by the Department of Education, which hired me as a lobbyist. I soon realized that you can accomplish a lot more good by working for the legislature, so I became a staffer, first for the New York State Assembly and later for the New York State Senate. While I accomplished a lot as a member of staff, it soon became clear to me that you really have power only when you actually have a seat at the table as the elected official. So I ran for the City Council in 1982.

MadamaB: You have been a Congresswoman in New York since 1992. What prompted you to write this book now?

CM: During the years of Bush I saw a rollback, a stalling of progress on women’s issues, and in many instances an effort to roll back gains we had achieved in the ‘70s. I wanted to bring attention to the problems we continue to face and the danger that we might lose some of the civil rights protections we had struggled so hard to achieve – and more than that, I wanted to get women involved, to give them ideas of how they can work for change in their own communities. I wanted the book to serve as a wake up call, to galvanize women and like-minded men to take action to address some of the problems I talk about in the book.

MadamaB: The candidacy of Senator Hillary Clinton seems to have brought out an awareness that misogyny is far from dead in our society. Yet the press, and many national figures, refuse to admit it exists at all. Is that what inspired the title of your book?

CM: Conventional wisdom about how far women have come far exceeds how far we actually have come. 2008 will go down in history as the year we finally came face to face with the level of misogyny that still persists in American society. While it was awe-inspiring to see Hillary Clinton as a major party candidate, the number of attacks on her for being a woman was simply astonishing. It came from every direction – from the hecklers at rallies who held up signs saying “Iron My Shirt” to the netroots who created a website “Make Me A Sandwich” to the politicians who compared her to the villain in the movie Fatal Attraction and vilified her for not giving up her run for the White House. Most of all, it came from the media who treated us to a nightly attack: Her supporters were called castratos in the eunich chorus; one commentator said she was scary, castrating and that he involuntarily crossed his legs when she came into the room; another said that when she spoke, men heard “Take out the garbage.” If that’s what they thought about someone as accomplished, intelligent and gracious as Hillary Clinton, what must they be thinking of us?

When I started writing the book, some people said that Hillary’s ability to run as a serious candidate would make the book seem out of touch with reality. How could I say that our progress was exaggerated when one woman was Speaker of the House and another could be the Democratic Presidential nominee? Well, not every woman is a Nancy Pelosi or a Hillary Clinton, and most women I meet are struggling because of laws that do not support work/life balance, because they do not have health care, because they’re not paid the same as their male colleagues; or because they’ve spent a lifetime with a wage gap and now have to live in old age on social security and pensions that perpetuate that gap. I wrote the book for all those struggling women – and hopefully to inspire the next Hillary Clinton to throw her hat into the ring and join me in trying to change all that.

MadamaB: Did societal resistance to acknowledging sexism help you decide to make your book so reliant on empirical data?

CM: Sometimes you have to let the numbers make the case for you; otherwise critics dismiss the argument as being merely anecdotal. Anecdotes can illustrate a point, and I tell many individual stories, but the raw numbers make the point incontrovertible.

MadamaB: You begin each chapter with a quote from a famous woman. Ch. 2, “The Imbalance of Power,” begins with Bella Abzug’s statement: “Our struggle today is not to have a female Einstein get appointed as an assistant professor. It is for a woman schlemiel to get as quickly promoted as a male schlemiel.” That seems exactly right to me. Despite the infamous assertions of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, an ordinary woman still has to work twice as hard as a man to get the same job; is that not the case?

CM: Men and women tend to enter the workforce in equal numbers and relatively equal salaries. It’s not until they’re five years out that the disparities start to show up. Furthermore, according to a study I commissioned from the Government Accountability Office, the wage gap hasn’t narrowed a bit over the last twenty years. That fossilized gap isn’t because women lack talent or drive, ambition or experience. The GAO, which is not exactly known for rabblerousing or militancy, suggested that one reason might be discrimination. I asked the Joint Economic Committee, of which I am Vice Chair, to do a study about job loss among women – the study came out after the book was published, so it didn’t make it into the book. We found that women have reached equality in one place – job loss during a recession. While all those magazines were talking about the ‘motherhood movement’ and telling us that modern women were making the choice to stay home with their kids, they were missing the real story. The real story was that although women supply roughly 1/3 of the family income and their earnings were needed, women were staying home because they couldn’t get jobs. There was no ‘choice’ to stay home; they were making the best of a bad situation. The only families whose incomes have risen in recent years are those where both parents are working.

MadamaB: You bring up many ways in which corporations refuse to honor the women who work for them. One point is something I’ve never considered: the inability of women to breast-feed or comfortably express milk at work. Could you discuss that issue a bit?

CM: Experts tell us that breastfeeding provides significant benefits for both mothers and infants. Breastfed children have a lower incidence of sudden infant death syndrome, are less likely to suffer from ear infections and respiratory tract infections, have fewer digestive problems, less juvenile diabetes and may score higher on intelligence tests. Women who have breastfed are less likely to develop ovarian and breast cancer, have less risk of osteoporosis, recover more quickly from childbirth, return more quickly to their pre-pregnancy weight and have less risk of long-term obesity. It’s very hard for a woman to be able to continue to generate milk for her infant if she’s not allowed to express milk at work. So a lot of women either give up breastfeeding or give up returning to work. When women are allowed to express milk, they and their children are healthier. Healthier mothers and children means less absenteeism, which is good for the bottom line. Companies that allow women to express milk benefit from less absenteeism, greater retention of valuable employees and happier workers. It should be a no-brainer. I have a package of legislation that will provide civil rights protection so that women cannot be fired for expressing milk in the work place, provide incentives to companies to build lactation rooms, provide tax deductions for breast pumps similar to those available for other medical equipment and provide government oversight of breast pumps to ensure that they are safe for women to use.

MadamaB: You also mention that even in corporations that have excellent reputations for being woman-friendly, there is still a very large and unaddressed sexual harassment problem. Millions of dollars in lawsuits are paid each year to women who complain of sexual harassment. Why do you think this type of information flies under the radar?

CM: I was shocked to find that more sexual harassment suits were filed in 2006 than in 1992, the year after the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings. It’s clearly still a pervasive problem. While many companies have adopted sexual harassment policies, they do not always take the problem seriously. In the book I tell the story of Elyse who worked at a global shipping company that frequently made the lists of best places for women to work. Even at her company, only about 1 out of every ten women lasts, and one major reason is sexual harassment. When she reported a male colleague for making lewd tongue gestures, her bosses told her they were trying to develop a “team atmosphere” and suggested that she was undermining it. Even repeat offenders aren’t fired at her firm; they’re just transferred to another area. I would suggest that another reason sexual harassment flies under the radar is that settlements often include the requirement that the employee cannot disclose the terms of the settlement. That makes it easy for companies to hide the problem.

MadamaB: It is amazing to me that so many corporations refuse to take steps that will benefit them in the long run – and we as a society refuse to force them to do so. For example, it’s been shown that giving women (and men) a flexible work schedule allows for a better work-life balance, increases productivity and slows down the rate of worker turnover. You and Ted Kennedy have sponsored the Working Families Flexibility Act. Can you describe how that would work, if implemented?

CM: The Working Family Flexibility Act will give working Americans the right to request flexible work options in order to balance the demands of their jobs and home life. Under the bill, an employee may request to modify his or her hours, schedule, or work location; employees and employers will engage in an interactive process to discuss the employee’s needs and how to address them with no or minimal disruption to the employer’s business; employers who deny a request must explain the grounds for the denial; employees who make requests are protected from retaliation. It’s based on a program in England and allows employers and employees to engage in constructive dialogue over modifying where and when employees work so they can find the best solutions to the work-life challenges they face.

To be continued….

79 Responses

  1. Interesting that you chose to do this today – I was having lunch in a restaurant in central NJ today and there were two men – obviously from NY sitting at a table not too far from us – they were talking about the Princess – boy, they obviously didn’t think she was qualified and had some not so nice things to say about Uncle Teddy. Both Andrew Cuomo and Caroline Maloney’s names came up. Clearly this is on a lot of people’s minds.

    Hopefully Gov. Patterson will be mindful of the points you’ve made in this interview! Thanks, Madamab 🙂

  2. I really could see this hard working lady be in Senator Clinton’s senate seat . She would do a great job and be an asset to New York and the country.
    She has a grasp of what needs to be done and a good idea of how to get it done.
    She is one of the women that my tag is about.



  3. Amen, HelenK! She is truly an exceptional public servant.

  4. I see my “frozen mosquito” avatar is back.
    Good I was getting attached to it.



  5. Helenk – It has a mysterious little smile on its face too, which seems very Helen-like!


  6. I like this woman a lot. I think she would make an amazing Senator, but I get the feeling Patteson wants to give the seat to either a dude, or he will be browbeated into giving it to Princess Caroline.
    Kristen Gillibrand would be great too, but I still want FRAN OR HARRIET!!!

  7. I asked for clown avatars, but the anti-clownites at WordPress discriminate.

  8. OMG, get this. In the interview Caroline Kennedy gave to the Daily News, she said “you know” 80 times. In her next interview with the NYT, she said “you know” 130 times! I wonder how the other Senators will react if she does it on the Senate floor?


  9. *pokes LI*

    I have my fingers crossed for the most qualified candidate, whoever that might be.

  10. BB,

    I don’t know, do “you know?”

  11. BB – Wow, that is so much worse than Uh-Bama!

    Has she been taking locution lessons from her kids?

  12. Hey, Little Isis.

  13. Ooooh, we have Regency and Little Isis here?

    Things could start getting hawt!


  14. She’s too qualified, she will show the boys up and we can’t have that.


  15. *snort*

    I’m reading my horoscope for the next 3 months. I’m gonna make money, get a promotion, be accused of sleeping with my boss–oh, and make money. I’ll take it.

  16. Hee, TRK!

    I would love to see her puncturing the bloviating gasbags in the Senate. Congresswoman Maloney is really, REALLY good at making her point.

    In the book, she tells an anecdote about how she wanted to bring attention to the plight of women in Afghanistan. She had a burka with her, and at the last minute, she put it on to give her speech.

    She got what she wanted, and developed a new empathy for the women who have to wear the restrictive, heavy garments every day.

  17. Mad: You’re instigating!

  18. Wow, madamab! Thanks for making us more aware of this woman.

    (And I agree with you regarding the hawtness of Little Isis and Regency being around at the same time.) 🙂

    Looking forward to the next interview.

  19. Reg –

    (bats eyelashes innocently)

  20. I like this woman and think she is really the best choice all the way around. There are other choices that would work, but I think Carolyn Maloney is best. I sure hope Gov. Paterson is considering her.

    Funny, you don’t hear much in the news about her…maybe it’s time for us to start pretending that we’re 800 paid bloggers!

  21. Mad-

    Oh, please, girl. Innocence=/=Madamab.


    I, however, am the epitome of innocence.

  22. Sophie – LOL! Actually, I’ve noticed that some of the local pundits do mention her name.

    BTW – I’ve got three RSVP’s for the NY PUMA gathering so far, not including you and me.

    NY PUMAs – Gathering in NYC on 1/10/09!

    RSVP to madamab at gmail dot com!!!

  23. I wish I was a paid blogger.

  24. Reg – You may be young, but you are NOT innocent. You are bad to the bone – and I love it!


  25. bostonboomer, on December 30th, 2008 at 4:55 pm Said:

    OMG, get this. In the interview Caroline Kennedy gave to the Daily News, she said “you know” 80 times. In her next interview with the NYT, she said “you know” 130 times! I wonder how the other Senators will react if she does it on the Senate floor?
    Only the CSPAN2 watchers would suffer….The Senate chamber is usually deficient in Senators during speeches.

  26. Great, just great. Now we have posters asking for a raise.

  27. The National Women’s Political Caucus, NOW’s Pac, and the Feminist Majority PAC have all endorsed Maloney.

  28. Jmac – Thank you for bringing that up. It’s a very good point and makes for a strong case against the appointment of Caroline Kennedy.

  29. It’s a shame Maloney hasn’t received more media attention. I hope Patterson picks her over Princess Caroline!

  30. Actually, what I really wish is to be a columnist for the NYT’s.

    I would make da big bucks and I would only have to produce about 100 columns a year.

    And as MoDo and Frank Rich demonstrate, there is no such thing as substandard performance.

  31. But myiq – you don’t hate women. How will you ever qualify?

  32. I went to 13 different schools both public and catholic and only graduated high school.
    We had classes on how to give a speech or discuss a subject.
    Both backtrack and ck went to private schools which I guess cost a lot in tuition. Why were they not taught how to speak?
    They should be embarrassed.



  33. The Obama PAC has endorsed Caroline! She will have a direct link to the President – how can NY pass on such an opportunity.

  34. Carolyn Maloney has been the BEST pick all along.

    Read her wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carolyn_Maloney

    and the contrast with the other candidates here:

    Pumas Unleashed..

  35. madamab:

    I thought inane and juvenile was all that was required.

    I can do inane and juvenile.

  36. Good point, myiq. We are overachievers. Just think how much the times could save by hiring us. In fact, we should offer to write for it. We could just call ourselves The Conflucians. We could write one column a day and split a MoDoesque salary between us. The Times would never know which one of us would write from one day to the next. It’s risky and dangerous. Which one of us wants to write up a proposal for them?

  37. Modo only does 2 -3 columns a WEEK, and she gets about 2 months a year for vacation.

  38. I can do inane, juvenile, tasteless, and supercilious.

  39. Bill O’Reilly counted 12 “you knows” from Caroline in 49 seconds.

  40. Bill O can count that high?

  41. I say “you know” a lot. Maybe I could take Ted’s seat when he retires or in some other way moves on.

  42. RD Angie and Madamab this one is a no brainer I remember these interviews from way back…why are we even discussing who is likely to be a better senator? Our Girl Carolyn Mahoney hands down!

    Caroline Kennedy sorry girl you should really maybe start out with your sights a little lower….maybe the state legislature or possibly maybe even a county commissioner.

  43. myiq2xu-the folks at buttburger swear we are all paid bloggers for the republican party!

    I bet RD recent nomination as best liberal blog is really gets their panties in a wad especially the head tool over there Kevin!

  44. madamab Said:
    NY PUMAs – Gathering in NYC on 1/10/09!

    Do we have a place and a time?

  45. How’s this, RD?

    Dear New York Times Editorial Board,

    We, the Conflucians, propose that you give us a weekly column, in which we pledge to pontificate, bloviate, use other multi-syllable words, and push whatever corporate agenda you wish us to push. We will also make sure to ignore any sexism at the paper of record, since as we know, it is more fashionable to become hysterical at the mere mention of skin color than it is to address real social injustices.

    We shall do this for a fraction of the millions you pay that red-headed gossip columnist or that puffed-up drama reviewer, both of whom deserve nothing but unmitigated scorn from writers of our talent and discernment.

    We do not see how you could refuse this offer, since you will not only save the Times millions of dollars, but will also get rid of those two bitter dead-enders you are generously and inexplicably keeping off the welfare rolls.

    Please get back to us ASAP regarding this proposal, as we are being courted by other, equally elitist and useless press outlets.


    The Writers of The Confluence, Best Liberal Blog In The Universe

  46. Great interview, MadamaB. I missed it the first time around. I knew almost nothing about CM before…now I’m off to buy her book.

  47. This woman would be outstanding in that seat. I can see she would carry on in the same spirit and style of Senator Clinton. Even my Obama loving friend Jim thinks she would be a good choice.

  48. Sophie – not yet…waiting for a few more RSVP’s…but one of our PUMAs says she has a good suggestion that has been used before…

  49. that last comment of badtothebone was mine. This computer logs my in automatically under that name unless I remember to change it.

  50. madamab,

    I did not know, or have forgotten you sang Opera. I do too, though I started to late (spending my years in the theater in Musical theater and plays) to really have a serious career. I sang in south florida for a season and I do some community Opera stuff locally.
    I am a mezzo/cont and Verdi’s crazy old lady roles are the one which suit my voice.
    How about you?
    Okay, so this is OT…..

    ps….. here is my blog which RD asked for, but I could not find her email address or a place to contact this blog officially.


  51. Darn wish i lived in new york so I could go to the big puma prowl….

    (fuzzy kicks dust in the air.)

    FYI I still have my “Hillary for President” signs in the window I dont have the heart to take them down…

    that is ok with everyone here?

  52. Gee RD – we have quite a few of us here in NJ – perhaps we can gather here in the Garden State as well.

  53. I am about two hours from NYC. If I can make it for the gathering I would love to. I have not been to NY in over a year and last time I was there was to go to a sheet music store the name of which I can not remember. Damn getting old and senile

  54. well off to do my weekly penance its tuesday so it is steak night with the Obots do you all have any kind words for them?

    They have had a tough week

  55. Joanelle: C’mon over the river! I’ll be coming down by train from the “great” state of CT.

  56. Teresa – you would be most welcome, of course, as would anyone else from out of town!

    I am a very high soprano (think Queen of the Night), but my voice is fairly large. I’m also kind of small for the size of my voice. No one ever quite knew how to cast me, and I didn’t either. So much for my opera career! LOL

    I love the crazy old lady Verdi roles. Verdi is awesome! And I will check out your website.


    Fuzzy – How’s “I Told You So” work for ya?

  57. Madamab: snarkilicious! And much nicer than they deserve. But hardly the kind of thing that would lead them to take us seriously.
    But now that I think of it, the NYT has enough liberals. Or fauxgressives. We should sell ourselves to WaPo instead. It needs some new blood. The op/we page is getting musty.

  58. thanks madamab…..

    that will work fine

    I will also offer them a two week stay athe the Saddleback Baptist Church Aversion Therapy Spa and De-Homosexualizing Center…..Obama Approved so you know its gonna be good!

  59. madamab-and we saw that comming from a mile away-

    poor Caroline didn’t anyone tell her that even with 19 women they Uncle teddy still thinks its the biggest Boys Club in the world

  60. We could teach the Boston Globe a thing or two about the kinds of people it celebrates as “Bostonian of the Year.” We could include some of SOD’s photoshops of the Favreau incident. Personally, I would love to snag an interview with Favreau’s mom.

  61. RD – You think there’s anything we can do to make them take us seriously? You ARE an optimist!


    Just found this, too, via Alegre, from The New York Daily News:

    More Women For Maloney

    This appears to be the source for Jmac’s info above. Very complimentary towards the Congresswoman.

  62. “madamb”
    I’m a “YES” for the gathering.
    Great interview!!
    You & “NOW” endorsed her (& another woman’s group), she is the best choice.

  63. fuzzy,

    Ask your Obot friends about the photo of Obama on the golf course. Also ask why on earth won’t he comment about the middle east mess?


    That outfit is really something! It shows off his chicken legs to good effect.

  64. TPT – Gotcha on the list!

  65. I love your letter, madamab. Let Rich and Modo start blogs and do some real work.

  66. BB – I so love that picture. How in the world could anyone be so in love with such a dork? Of course, I thought the same thing about Bush.

    Gotta run, everyone – see you later!

  67. Um, if that date is weekend after next, I will be painting and laying a floor in my basement or helping my BFF’s parental units move. I’d love to go but I can’t. And the weekend after that, I may be doing a roadtrip to AZ with my brother.

  68. BostonB:

    you are kidding-ROFLMAO-chicken legs indeed!

    Ok world is waiting for Obama’s Opinion?

    Note to World:


    2nd Note to world:

    You assume he has an opinion on anything? or even an opinion you want to hear?

  69. Boston hello thanks I can now leave well armed and ready to eat!

  70. Obama has opinions, it is that he is a uniter and that he will have smarter people advising him, and that God is on his side…

    He has said all these things and it scares NONE of his supporters. Don’t they hear the dubya echoes?

  71. Madamab: what is the alternative to optimism?
    What isn’t impossible must be possible.

  72. bostonboomer, on December 30th, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Didn’t he also go on holiday during the Russia-Georgia crisis?

  73. madamab..

    a while ago I read a site that gave all kinds of voice types that were sort of hy-brids of other things. I seemed to fall in the dramatic/mezzo category. If I could find it I would link it for you, it was actually quite funny as they seemed to be trying to cover every possibility.
    My old voice teacher in Florida, Edy Ruhl, used to tell me this story about Marilyn Horn who he would admonish for not singing the right parts for her voice. She told him it was because those where the roles she could cast in.
    Hey, it’s always a crap shoot in the arts. But if the singing itself gives you joy, as it does me, then the rest of just gravy.

  74. Obama speaks:

    Obama called Burris “a good man and a fine public servant” but said he agrees with Senate Democrats that any choice by Blagojevich isn’t binding because of criminal charges against him.

    “The Senate Democrats made it clear weeks ago that they cannot accept an appointment made by a governor who is accused of selling this very Senate seat. I agree with their decision, and it is extremely disappointing that Governor Blagojevich has chosen to ignore it,” Obama said in a statement.

  75. Jmac — well slap my momma — Obama finds yet something else “extremely disappointing” AARRGGH!! Have I mentioned lately how much I despise this good for nothing empty suit?

    Oh, and sense he obviously took a time out from golfing for this, did he also express how “extremely disappointing” he finds the situation in Israel?

  76. Well, ladies, hold on to your bloomers, Chicago Midway airport to be renamed Barack H. Obama International airport. I guess my WWII father hasn’t died fast enough.

  77. Wow! To be in NYC tomorrow night:


    Bill and Hill are going to be in Times Square ringing in the New Year!

  78. New Thread …

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