The Rise of the (Fictional) Female Politician

It’s Time for Reality to Match Our Hollywood Stars

Over the last decade, we’ve seen a rise in strong female politicians and leaders on television. President Laura Roslin in the 2004 remake of Battlestar Galactica comes to mind. Not to mention Leslie Knope of Parks and Rec, as well as a slew of others who are bringing the political savvy and talent of women politicians into the public eye.

With every renewed season, we debunk the myth that women will watch men lead, but men won’t watch women in the leading role. Thanks to writers like Shonda Rhimes making waves, institutions like the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media, and watchdogs like Melissa Silverstein of Women & Hollywood, every network now has its own leading lady.

But if art and reality often mirror one another, our reality isn’t keeping up. Women’s political representation has stagnated around 20% for the last 20 years. Our presidential cabinets became less diverse from Bush Administration to Obama Administration. Lobbyists have just a few women leading the way (Think Susan Molinari of Google). And campaign staff is overwhelming male, even for female candidates.

Yes, we have come a long way. But we’ve got to accelerate the pace. On a Sunday night I can opt for football or dose of girl power with Madame Secretary followed by The Good Wife. But when it comes to actual representation, I don’t have the same ease of options–not just yet anyway.

What I do have is my own network, my social network. And you have yours, too. So let’s use them!

Next time you are binge watching House of Cards, think about the women in your life that could contribute to our democracy. When you are catching up on Scandal, ask yourself, “who is my political gladiator?” Then invite her to run.

Inviting a woman to run is the best way to encourage her to lead. Research shows that when women are asked, they do consider leadership a viable option. And when women run, they win at the same rate as men. Use this handy-dandy tool to invite your friend, your sister, and your fellow moms, to run and lead. Have a little fun with it, too. Create your own meme and personalize your note. You never know, you might be writing to the next Madam Secretary.

Then, consider yourself nominated. What would it take to get you on the local school board or in a county seat? Start with this quiz “Ladies, What TV Political Powerhouse are You?” we just launched on Playbuzz. Then, find the resources you need to make your fictional leader a reality.

Illustrated by Allegra Lockstadt | Originally posted on PollenMidwest.org