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Obama White House Hostile to Women? Don’t just take their word for it

Investigate it.

Today, Politico has an article about how women’s groups are gulping hard and staying on the sidelines, leaving the women in Obama’s White House high and dry:

But even though these groups often jump to respond to claims of sexism — like with the unflattering Newsweek cover of Michele Bachmann last month, for example — they appear to be staying out of this one.

Sam Bennett, president and CEO of the non-partisan Women’s Campaign Forum, said she had never heard any allegations of tough conditions for women in the White House.

“Never once … have I heard anything negative about the Obama administration in regards to its internal treatment of women or is goals,” she said. “I can’t imagine that it would be lost on the Obama administration that it was women, particularly unmarried African-American women, who elected him.”

Julie Burton, of the Women’s Media Center, also passed on the chance to criticize the Obama administration.

“Anita Dunn says she was misquoted, and in any case, only she can characterize her experience in the White House,” she wrote in an email. “I can say that women outside the White House are concerned about administration policy as it affects their lives.”

And Susan B. Anthony List spokeswoman Ciara Matthews declined to comment, saying the issue was outside the scope of their organization.

Well, alright then.  I guess that’s that.  Those female Obama staffers are just making it all up.


Everything can be quantified, ladies.  We have the technology.  The White House has data at its fingertips that can be analyzed.  How long does it take to get your email answered, how many meetings were women invited to, who was left off the group meetings lists, who didn’t return phone calls, who went to lunch with whom, who went on golf outings.  All that information can be pulled from the servers.  Statistical packages can determine if there is a correlation to positions on org charts, locations of offices, office and desk size, or some yet unknown component.  If the meetings were recorded, how many times were women presenters interrupted or talked over them?  Who interrupted them? How many times were they called on to give their expert opinion?  Performance evaluations can be analyzed for words that can indicate if a staffer is being graded on acceptable social behaviors or actual accomplishments.  Get some computational linguists on the case to sift through the words.

If the women of MIT can do this kind of investigation, the White House certainly can.  This isn’t rocket science.

The women’s groups who are shrinking away from what the White House female staffers are saying don’t need to be afraid of their own shadows. All they have to do is demand a rigorous and quantifiable investigation.  Either the evidence is there or it isn’t.  (I’m going to bet that it’s there) If there is a problem, then surely, SURELY, the White House will want to rectify the situation as quickly as possible and set an example for other businesses to do the same.  After all, that kind of sexism costs.  It prevents good ideas from being considered and could lead to detrimental effects for the country.  And if you’re not going to listen to the women experts you appoint, what’s the point of hiring them in the first place?  You’re just costing the country money.

You would think that President Feminist himself would want to clear his name and reputation, what with an election coming up and all that “we need womens’ votes” campaign rhetoric.  After all, the Lily Ledbetter shtick is wearing thin.

But if the White House ignores the request or sweeps it under the rug, or more likely, says that it has more pressing matters to attend to, well, then Barack Obama just might not be Fourth of July, Christmas and Hannukah all rolled up in one after all.

42 Responses

  1. What About Our Daughters has a great post today. I will quote that part which is fantastic advice for Obama’s female codependants.

    Today I invite you to cease your participation in any unilateral social contracts. That means if you are bound, and they are free – sever. If you are giving something and they are giving nothing – sever it. If you mean them no harm and they are behaving with reckless disregard for your health and safety – sever it! If you work to protect them and they work to exploit you, harm you, dispose of your for profit, power or pleasure- sever it!

    • Thanks for the reference. Here’s the link: http://www.whataboutourdaughters.com/

      This is the paragraph before your quote. It seems to apply to most of the world’s citizens.

      When those in power make a determination that my existence is excessive, my survival is optional, and my health and well being are a “luxury”, they have broken any social contract for share protection- unilateral or otherwise.

    • Super! Lambert Strether pushes this idea too in a different way with his question he thinks voters should ask of their leaders: “And we get…..what?” The idea is that politics is a transaction, a contract like you say, and if one side delivers but the other doesn’t, then the first should walk away. We make politics way too complicated for ourselves, and ideas like yours and Lambert’s keep it simple, like it should be.

      • It’s not my idea, it’s Gina’s at What About our Daughters…but yes. The social contract applies in more venues than politics…like, say, in diners, where customers need to behave too. Not paying attention to what you get out of the deal is the ugly side to a politics driven by idealism and self-sacrifice. Idealism is all too ripe for its own kind of corruption.

  2. When Hillary Clinton steps down as SOS, I would really like to see her start, and actively run, a foundation for the identification, training, support and promotion of female politicians. A Hillary Clinton backed female politician would be a “made woman”. I have no illusions that, were she to primary Obama, the MSM and internetz boyz would not, again, pull out all the misogynist stops to keep her scary femaleness out of the White House. But as a developer and positioner of female political talent she’d be unstoppable. Plus, that would be some legacy!

    • Great idea!

    • Hillary already cracked that ceiling in politics. I would rather she leave politics and do the real work of global change with Bill.
      She is the best SOS in memory and she has greater things to do than fight with the Republicans.
      Go Hillary Go Global.

  3. Ben Smith has collected BS sources to support his syncophant’s “nothing to see here”.

    1st source: Women’s Campaign Forum is a group dedicated to helping women run for office. This group relies on access to help them help women and they aren’t going to get access by complaining about the White House. They are not positioning themselves as a women’s rights group.

    2nd source: Susan B. Anthony’s list this is an anti-abortion group. Why would they be worried about obama’s workplace?


    I guess to Ben Smith all womanly sounding groups represent the whole group of all women or something. Man, do your homework!

    He didn’t get comments from Emily’s list (they won’t have anything to say since they need access too) and NOW. Probably NOW will have something to say eventually.

    Oh, but hey, he does say that one “lesser known women’s group” called “The New Agenda”… then he quoted Amy Siskind from an email to him. It was good that he passed throught the quote, she sounds smart.

    • My point still stands. We *can* get to the bottom of this problem because there will be signal in the data if their allegations are true. So, any dude who tells them to suck it up and that they’re imagining it can be shown to be right or (I suspect) very wrong. This s#%^ is so subtle and systemic that guys just assume that there’s nothing there. Ok, let’s dig through the data and find out.
      You can measure anything these days. Why not do it? Where’s the harm?

      • The data is there but nobody wants to look at it.

        I’ve worked in a male dominated profession (IT) and I lived this crap the whole time.

        See that is the beauty of Ben Smith’s nothing to see here article because that is exactly how the game is played. Ask completely the wrong groups what they think and then casually call them “women’s groups” because they are having to do with women even if they aren’t having to do with sexism in the workplace.

        His article is a case in point.

        “Susan agrees that you were overreacting to being asked to demonstrate how your conclusions aren’t stupid in that executive meeting. You should really try to be more logical and not rely on emotion so much if you really want to get ahead in this business.”

        • Sexism in the workplace affects ALL women.

          If NARAL condemned workplace sexism, would you say “That’s none of their business?”

          • Anyone could have an opinion about sexism in the workplace, I don’t even think it is limited to women. It isn’t the opinions of the women’s groups that I am taking issue with.

            Ben Smith is making a point using “women’s groups” without saying what those “women’s groups” stand for. He uses them in a way that leaves the impression they would be the go-to source.

            My made up example is common enough where after a meeting a boss type person lectures a woman who was the recipient of aggresive questioning in a meeting and was upset about it. The boss type person talks to Susan… “Susan” is the token woman asked a question where giving a management-supportive opinion helps her (Susan).

            One of the groups asked needs access to help women get elected and the other is anti-abortion. Ben Smith should have identified who they were.

      • I actually did something like this once upon a raucous committee. I did the old defensive (football) lineman stat of keeping up with tackles (interruptions), sacks (dismissive gestures and expressions), and hurries (talking over) in a battle among several departments over an academic policy. I did this by simply making marks on a legal pad as the offenses occurred. After three meetings, I sent my score to the committee chair who actually responded appropriately. Most of the highest scorers, btw, were male but the person with the highest stat was female — perhaps the exception to the rule. Anyway, the new way that resulted from all this was a more positive and creative work environment where everyone could participate without intimidation.

  4. […] has an excellent post on this. Well, alright then. I guess that’s that. Those female Obama staffers are just making it […]

  5. I got email this morning from Ms. Magazine, which anointed Obama a feminist in its “This is what a feminist looks like” cover during the election fight. Ms. is having an essay contest: to celebrate its forty years in existence. One picks one of the forty covers they’ve chosen and writes 150 words about how it changed one’s life, or whatever. Well of course the President Feminist cover wasn’t one of them but that didn’t stop me. This is what I sent them:

    “Actually I wanted the ‘…What a Feminist Looks Like’ cover showing Barack Obama — funny your team didn’t select it — because it did change a lot of things for me. It certainly changed my attitude toward Ms. Magazine. As a feminist and Women’s Movement activist for over forty years, I always thought Ms. was a bit bland, positioned for the mainstream, but did no harm. Your cover claiming Obama as a feminist did harm, great harm. It may have cost Clinton the election, and it certainly further obfuscated the meaning of the word feminism, playing into patriarchy’s hands. What were you thinking. To many of us who were appalled by this cover, it was a sign that you were thinking: political expediency. How you could have ignored the sexist nastiness of Obama’s people, which he did nothing to halt let alone speak up against, will forever be beyond me.”

  6. of course women groups and those quoted will walk this back….I remember during the Bush 2 years a number of folks spoke truth to power and did a 180 in warp speed. …like the guy who called the Bush 2 white house crew, ” Mayberry Machiavellians ” ….and the next day was seen fervently apologizing and disowning what he said. I guess he was told what further speaking out would mean. He was kind of unrecognizable in demeanor from the statement he made before.There is nothing they won’t do on the way to the trillions

  7. The Obot Dems have really mismanaged relations with women voters. First the stunning unforgettable sexism of the 2008 elections. Then they pulled a few Dem women out of elected office for positions on the Obot team (no doubt so they would have ready scape goats) effectively ruining the farm team for national Democrat women candidates. Then they trot the few Democrat women they still have on board around forcing them to act like trained dogs for the administration which causes them to lose authenticity with women voters, and of course leaving women out of most decision making groups. Seriously I don’t know how anyone could walk this back. But these hosers don’t even realize there is a problem yet! I don’t think anyone stupid enough to create this problem would be smart enough to dig themselves out of it.

  8. Nobody could have predicted…

  9. I guess Anita Dunn is scared of the WH, but she can’t take it back

    In early Obama White House, female staffers felt frozen out

    Dunn says she was quoted out of context and told The Post on Friday that she told Suskind “point blank” that the White House was not a hostile work environment.
    On Monday, Suskind allowed a Post reporter to review a recorded excerpt of the original interview, which took place over the telephone in April. In that conversation, Dunn is heard telling Suskind about a conversation she had with Jarrett.
    “I remember once I told Valerie that, I said if it weren’t for the president, this place would be in court for a hostile workplace,” Dunn is heard telling Suskind. “Because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women.”

    more at link

    • She may be walking it back now, but if she didn’t want it to be known, she wouldn’t have said something in the first place.

    • Just posted this over at Crawdad’s but I find it worth repeating What men’s club?

      Oooh, and don’t you just love the accompanying picture, heh. Only, I don’t think the men portrayed see the irony.

  10. Never has there been one complaint of sexism in the Obama WH. So that immediately disproves any complaints, lol!


  11. well remember Granny.the typical white woman. 🙂

  12. Wow, you have completely missed the point, which is that these complaints are completely verifiable. You can prove whether there is a pattern of discrimination or not. It’s not a simple case of “he said/she said”.

    Nowadays, discrimination leaves digital footprints. If there’s nothing there, great! Obama’s droogs are off the hook. If there is, then he’d better fix it ASAP.

    See how simple it is when you use science to resolve these problems?

    • They would have to want to solve the problem.

      In this case, they will want to put a bandaid on it and say “See ladies, (you sweet things) no problem here!!” They will trot out whatever women they can find and to say there is no problem. Those women will say that too because their jobs will depend on it and for the moment, they will have some access and be in favor with the boy’s club.

      But, yes, if they wanted to find out the data is there. Some things are subtle but the response to requests, meeting invites (and the meetings where they “forgot” somebody and added them at the last minute) and meeting minutes will show at least part of the problem. I’d bet they have most meetings at the White House on film and I’d also bet more than a few policy discussions are happening on the golf course where the women don’t know about the latest decision or angle things are taking.

      • Oh, but the big “tell” is all the pictures of White House strategy rooms and meetings where there are NO WOMEN. None. HRC is in some pictures and there are a couple other women in other pictures – from a cursory look at the web, I suspect even GWB did better.

        Another interesting tell is that there are no minorities in most of those pictures either. There are jobs obama himself hires and it appears that all of those top jobs are white guys.

    • Never has there been one complaint of sexism in the Obama WH. So that immediately disproves any complaints, lol!

      Pretty sure that was meant as snark, RD, at least I hope it was.

      • Damn, my snark detector is on the fritz again. Sorry.
        I guess I’m just so sick of reading denials. These days, it’s so easy to prove or disprove that you’d think the denialists would just STFU before someone calls them on it. You’d think NOW and Emily’s list would be all over this. The silence is deafening.

  13. It looks like Emily’s list has said something, they are working to re-elect Mr. Women’s rights himself! Woot.

    Press release TODAY: emily’s list re-election support

    No press release from NOW since Sept. 12th.

  14. Women were thrown under the bus by the women group industry in ’08…and that continues . .At the start they were about promoting women…now they are about containing them imo and they do a hell of job . Waiting for these groups to do something besides promise to fight in the future , ask for money for the future fight that dsoesn’t happen , seems foolish. They dumped Hillary….why would they stand for others?

  15. paperdoll, did they dump Hillary or did they go ahead and support Obama after the convention? It makes no difference to me since I am opposed to those groups doing anything except supporting women. Why the hell is Emily’s list raising money for Obama? It would be nice if they did a 300,000 fundraiser for Elizabeth Warren, for instance.

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