Joe’s Journal

2018 - The year of the woman?

Posted:  Wednesday, December 27, 2017 - 8:30am

Now that the Christmas wrappings have found their way to the dump, and the last of the holiday dinner has been tucked into the fridge, it is time to greet the New Year.

Much of 2018 will likely resemble 2017. The everlasting political wrangling will ramp up as the November elections draw near. We will hold our breath as our leaders try to solve the conflict with no good solution in North Korea.

In recent weeks, we have seen a trend that will likely continue in 2018 and beyond.

In the entertainment world, media scene, politics, and the business world, the rules have clearly changed. Powerful men no longer seem to have a license to impose their sexual impulses on their subordinates and others. The results are playing out on the front pages of our newspapers and TV screens.

But, in 2018, I am watching another trend as women seem to be taking a larger role in our local and national political life.

Something happened the day after the current occupant of the White House took office when thousands of “indivisibles” marched in Washington, D.C. Women soon became involved in local, state and national politics.

There are currently 21 women in the U.S. Senate and 84 in the House. Rutgers researchers say there are now 374 potential women House candidates and 42 for the Senate.

Recently, women senators banded together to force a male senator to resign after he was accused of sexual improprieties.

Here in Maine, we have a tradition of powerful women elected officials starting with senators Margaret Chase Smith, Olympia Snowe, to our sitting Senator Susan Collins, and Rep. Chellie Pingree. Our local representative is Stephanie Hawke.

If the national trend continues, we may see many more women in positions of authority in state and national offices.

What will it mean?

Let me tell you a tale buried in the tattered notebooks from this old newspaperman’s years following cops and courts.

For years, Indianapolis, like a lot of other police departments, had women police officers. They worked as secretaries and occasionally with juveniles.

In 1976, Indy’s Republican Mayor Bill Hudnut suggested the city police should assign women to patrol cars. Soon after, two women lawyers were assigned to prosecute sex crimes.

The old-timers, all men, groused about how they were not tough enough to enforce the law. Wrong. These were the same old-time detectives who would not believe the sex assault claim of a woman unless she had been beaten to a pulp.

They explained that if a woman didn’t resist unwanted advances they were just lying or worse.

When the women became street cops and frontline prosecutors, they listened to the women’s claims, evaluated the situation and best of all, made a decision based on evidence.

If you don’t think that changed, just ask heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson who stood in front of one of those first woman sex crimes prosecutors who had been promoted to the criminal court bench. She sent him away for six years, despite claims the victim was just a “gold digger.”

The women cops and prosecutors showed they were tough and hard workers, and, they succeeded.

Will more women in state and national office make a difference? To quote that American philosopher Homer Simpson: “Duh.” Of course.

Locally, we saw Hawke champion the cause of waitresses and waiters who wanted to keep their tips.

Recently, a group organized by a woman is leading a move to champion the plans of a developer because they believe this change is good for our community.

We now see women in the pulpits of our houses of worship, while others lead our health care facilities as physicians, nurses, and administrators.

I once knew a U.S. Marine three-star general who happened to be a woman. When I did a profile of her, I called the former Commandant of the Marine Corps and asked him why he promoted a woman to the rank of lieutenant general.

He put it this way. “She knows that they made electric lights so she could work all night,” said Gen. Charles C. Krulak.

In the future, I’ll bet our wives, sisters and daughters will no longer accept a subordinate role in our civic and political affairs.

They know the truth of the old saying: “Decisions are made by people who are in the room.”

Women going to the meetings where the decisions are made, they do their homework and know the issues. Don’t be surprised if they are willing to work harder than some of the men.

In 2018, I believe the old saying will now be: “A woman’s place is in the House - and in the Senate.”

Happy New Year to all.