A Not-So-Brief History of Women in Politics

With Kamala Harris on the Democratic presidential ticket, this year could be a turning point for women in American politics. However, Harris is just the most recent in a line of trailblazing women.

1872 – Victoria Woodhull runs for President. Woodhull also created a publication called Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly.

1887 – The first female mayor is elected: Susanna Salter of Argonia, Arkansas.

1916 – Jeannette Pickering-Rankin is the first woman to be elected to congress. 

1920 – White women are granted the right to vote.

1923 – Soledad Chacon, a Latina woman, wins the election to become the Secretary of State in New Mexico.  

1952 – Charlotta Spears-Bass is the first black woman to be nominated for vice president. 

1952 – Asian American women earn the right to vote.

1962 – Patsy Takemoto Mink becomes the first female Asian/Pacific Islander woman to be elected into state senate.

1965 – Native American women earn the right to vote.

1974 – Elaine Noble becomes the first openly queer woman to win in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

1976 – Mary Rose Oakar is the first Arab-American woman elected to senate.

1980 – LaDonna Harris becomes the first indigneous woman nominee for vice president.

1984 – Geraldine Ferraro is Democratic Party’s vice presidential nominee, making her the first female vice-presidential nominee representing a major American political party. 

1985 – Wilma Mankiller becomes the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation.

1992 – Nydia Velasquez becomes the first Puerto Rican woman elected to congress.

2001 – Condelezza Rice becomes the first woman to hold the position of National Security Advisor.

2016 – Hilary Clinton runs for president, before losing to Donald Trump.

2017 – Nikki Haley becomes the first Indian-American woman to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

2020 – Kamala Harris runs for Vice President along with Joe Biden on the Democratic ticket. 

Compiled and written by November Shawler 

Inspired by Hard Work

The students of Jeff High have many inspirational teachers, celebrities and other adults in their life to look up to. This Black History month, Jeff High students talked about the importance of role models, and the people of color who have inspired them.

 Tara Cofie, a former member of student council and debate team, says her mother inspires her most. “She’s a really hard worker, and I respect the things she does for me,” she says. Cofie and her mother were first-generation immigrants to America from Ghana. Her mother encouraged her to do things she liked and that she was good at, “and I guess I thought I was good at arguing with people,” says Cofie. 

Will Loving-Watts, a basketball fan and player, says that Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant inspire him to work hard. Loving-Watts talks about how the persistence and hard work of Bryant and Durant inspired him to do the same. For example, the day before the state championship, he spent three and a half hours at the gym. “When we won, I felt like they would’ve been proud of me.”

Raquel Lopez is a soccer player, member of Jeff ’s Chefs and yearbook co-editor and she says her parents inspire her most. She wants to be a chef when she’s older and says it’s because of her parents. “My parents poured their hearts into every meal they made and you could always tell who made the food,” Lopez says. “Their food made people happy, and it made me want to do the same for other people.”

 Azarian Bacon, a chess team player, says that Mr. Washington and Mr. Willis inspire him most. “The times they’ve been really proud it is when progress is being made, for me it happened at a rapid pace,” Bacon says. “The first time I played chess I hated it. My eighth grade year I signed up for impacts that didn’t have chess, but I was forced to play it anyway,” he says. Bacon thinks Washington and Willis are proud of him and the improvements he’s made while playing on the chess team. 

The importance of seeing yourself in people around can make all the difference. The inspiration provided by teachers, celebrities and even your own parents can inspire you to pursue anything. As Raquel Lopez says, “For people of color, representation is really important to us. It’s really rare to see ourselves portrayed in TV shows and movies correctly. We often look for people who are similar to us for inspiration, because we desperately want someone to relate to.”

Me Oh My! Xe, Xir, Zye!

When you hear “them” what do you think? Most will think that use of “they” means multiple people. There are occasions where this is no longer the case. They is a pronoun used for someone of unspecified gender, or in some cases, someone who doesn’t identify with a gender at all. They/them pronouns are often used when someone is non-binary and/or agender. Being non-binary is when someone identifies out of the male/female dichotomy, in other words, are outside of the binary. While he/him and she/her are specifically gendered to male and female, they/them pronouns are not.

There is a debate brewing in queer and non-queer spaces about pronouns. “How much meaning should we prescribe to them?” “Are he/him lesbians valid?” You hear the murmurs of these questions constantly. 

Pronouns are sensitive, as they relate exactly to identity. The singular they has been around for centuries. The works of William Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift, Jane Austen and William Thackeray all include a singular they. However, now this use of singular they has come into question. Why has this use of singular they become controversial? The Merriam-Webster dictionary provides this answer to the question of if you can use a singular they; “The use of they, their, them, and themselves as pronouns of indefinite gender and indefinite number is well established in speech and writing.”

Then it comes to neo-pronouns. These new pronouns take on lists, the time of creation spanning from the early 1970s to yesterday. Ey/em pronouns were introduced to the queer scene in 1973, as an alternative to binary pronouns, plural, or “object” pronouns (it/its.) The queer disconnect from binary is something inherent and unique to queer spaces: the grotesque, the tacky, the beautiful, all smashed together in a revolution of beauty standards. This is apparent in the strict disregard of binary provided by the nonbinary and trans community, the butch/femme lesbian community, and the other sects of identification language in queer spaces. The pronouns are important as a badge of identity, what you call me will be what I’m most comfortable with.

Likely the reason we come to dispute these occasions of singular they, or the use of new pronouns be because this is a use in the context of queer people, and their refusal of typical gender binary. Even if you don’t want to listen to Shakespeare because language changes over time from his version of English, I pose another question: then why can’t it change now? If people are more comfortable using a different pronounーwhether it be they, he, she, or a newer oneーwhat right do we have to say, “no, this makes you more comfortable in expression, but no.” why should we be able to do that, refuse changing our language to benefit others? A simple switch of pronounsーsomething so easy we do it for dogsーwe can’t do for other people?