Why do we settle for less?


Usually in this column you see ways to take action like how to recycle plastic bags and a list of peace vigils. In this issue of the Women’s Press, I’m asking some simple but tough questions and asking us all to do some reflecting.

I’ve been reminded recently that there can be a lot of disagreement in a group of passionate, committed, intelligent, well-intentioned changemakers with the same vision in mind.

Good examples of this were found at the recent state DFL convention and the endorsement of candidate Al Franken.

Franken has been in the news in recent weeks for a variety of reasons. Most recently, there has been controversy over a 2000 article called Porn-A-Rama he authored in Playboy magazine, followed by revelations that the satirist-turned-candidate had suggested a “Saturday Night Live” skit about drugging a female journalist so she could be raped in a closet.

At the DFL state convention where Franken was endorsed, Congresswoman Betty McCollum, DFL-4th District, was booed because she had objected to Franken’s previous work. When the DFL Feminist Caucus endorsed Franken, its president resigned in protest.

The day before he was endorsed, two active, passionate feminists, Erin Matson and Shannon Drury, published an articulate opinion piece supporting Franken for his “respecting and protecting” women. Shannon Drury is a Minnesota Women’s Press columnist. The essay appeared in the June 6 issue of the Star Tribune.

When the Women’s Press asked women at the convention about how they made their decisions, we heard comments including:

“We have to always be clear never to excuse this [Franken’s behavior]. It was not OK.”

“When do you make decisions by your heart and gut and when do you make decisions based on pragmatic, practical reasons?”

“People make mistakes and they learn and grow. How they will vote on the issues is what I care about.”

“When people say things, we need to hold them accountable, whether it is a public official or Uncle Joe at the Thanksgiving table. “

“There is a lot of unfairness in the world.”

One that particularly resonated with me was: “Are we being too tolerant of what candidates have done in the past or are we being forgiving?” Politics is about coming together, compromising and building on each other’s ideas. But are there compromises that defeat the purpose?

Some big questions for me personally are:

Why do women so often settle for less? How do we settle for more?

Why don’t we feel more outrage about being degraded?

How do we as women pick up our power and use the influence we already have but too often squander?

I’d like to hear your thoughts at magnuson@ womenspress.com.