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Posted at 05:31 PM ET, 11/07/2012

Warren, Heitkamp: Senates full of women?


Heidi Heitkamp, holding up a two-week-old copy of the Fargo Forum on Wednesday. (WILL KINCAID - Associated Press)
And Ms. Smith goes to Washington.

So much for the binders.

So much for the Akins.

So much for the war on women, as Amanda Marcotte noted at Slate.

With Rick Berg conceding to Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, our numbers are swelling. This January, there will be 20 women in the Senate, 16 Democrats and four Republicans.

It’s about time.

Stop the Movement! Declare a truce in the War. Call off the lady-hounds. We are all set!

We are there. We have made it to the promised land that Susan B. Anthony and all those sour-looking ladies who occasionally show up on commemorative coins could only dimly glimpse. We have hit 20, and it’s time to say “when.”

This is much more than the suffragettes dreamed. They saw women get to vote for men. To vote for other women? This seems frankly excessive.

Any more, and we’ll stop being excited to see a woman on the ballot. This will become dull and routine, and “Women Senators” will just be “senators.” Women will stop being lumped together and start being evaluated on their individual merits. They might even run against each other! Who wants that? We must retain the magic, at all costs. Familiarity breeds contempt. Women are a special-interest group who vote in monolithic packs because otherwise they worry that bad things will happen to their rights. And the fewer of them there are in office, the longer they are likely to stay that way.

No no, any more, and we’ll start taking the days when our legislatures don’t try to tamper with our bodies for granted! Stuff and nonsense. After Title IX, Relaxing Without Fear That The Government Wants To Make Deeply Personal Choices For You is one of the few activities men can still enjoy without women showing up and ruining everything.

Next, women are going to start thinking that they compose the majority of the electorate. We’re going to want female CEOs and equal income and “it all,” whatever that is. We might even stop being “women voters” and start being “voters.” That would be much too wild and different.

We should quit, while we’re ahead.

Any more, and the Senate would have to stop and yell at everyone once a month, as opposed to the eight or nine times a month it does now, with a break in the summer.

Progress has been made. This election disproved quite a few ideas from the Traditional Campaign Manual. For instance, when it comes to securing the Women Vote, it is not enough to have your wife yell “I love you, women!” at us, during the convention. Was this ever enough? It was, frankly, uncomfortable for everyone. You never see people shouting, “I am fond of white people!” in the hopes of getting votes.

No, it turns out we prefer a slightly more subtle form of courting, the kind that points out that our innards are not safe so long as Republicans hold office, and that before we look around to the other issues, we must be feminists first. This argument bothers me, but try making the counterargument. It’s hard to get entirely behind someone’s financial policies when he is simultaneously trying to do weird, unpleasant things to your health care because he believes your body is, loosely speaking, a magical spaceship.

So the number is encouraging. One of the surest ways to keep that from happening — or make it as awkward as possible when it does — is to introduce women, whom too many legislators seem to view as some sort of strange, mythical creature, with more in common with the unicorn or the basilisk than the average voter, into the very chambers from which these bewildering regulations so often issue.

It’s easy to see why everyone is so excited. Twenty is a record.

But I look forward to the day that I am not excited to see a woman in the Senate. I look forward to the day when the majority of voters aren’t approached from below the belt first.

The fewer of us in office, the more likely we are to seem like a monolith, the Women Vote, a niche market, best catered to as a group. And a monolith is the last thing we are.

I look forward to the day when a candidate’s gender is barely noteworthy. I look forward to the day when the choice is just between two people.

Now I’m excited by 20 women. But I can’t wait for the day when I’m disappointed by that number.

By  |  05:31 PM ET, 11/07/2012

 
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