Regardless of your political leanings the most recent election offers much cause for celebration. For example, in all the 113th Congress will boast at least 19 female senators. That is the most ever in the history of the United States. Also, New Hampshire elected an all female delegation. Both senate and congressional representatives and the Governor are women - another first. It is worth noting that this first is owed, in part, to the large turn-out numbers among women voters. As the poet June Jordan famously said, We are the ones we have been waiting for. Yes, men also voted for these capable women but it was largely women that pushed each of them to victory.
What we as women can take away from their victories is a reminder that in spite of the uproar around reproductive rights or such questions as the role of female leadership in the church, we are putting more hands on deck and setting rather than following a course. In short, we are slowly and surely chipping away at the cultural limits of gender. Women are increasingly embracing the opportunity to craft their roles rather than step into them. This is true even as many women struggle with the notion of having it all. The truth of the matter is that no one can have it all; at least not all at once but that is not necessarily a bad thing.
Why does it matter that so many women were elected? It matters because women are underrepresented in leadership roles. That underrepresentation is not owed to capability but to cultural bias. Too many capable women are held back by cultural values that proscribe roles rather than expand them. As women break away from these confines in greater numbers attitudes about our value and worth will certainly shift.
The first all female delegation gives us new hope of finally crashing through the political glass ceiling. The path to leadership for women is increasingly well tread. The idea of women as multi-faceted human beings, equally capable across settings and arenas is not so foreign or as problematic as it has been. Women are challenging the status quo in ways big and small and in the process creating new opportunities for other women as well as for themselves.
So yes there is much to celebrate coming out of this election much aside from the end of the political ads. We can also celebrate our continuing struggle for equality. We may not be there yet but every step closer counts.