An all-women panel has been announced for the next Democratic debate in Georgia on November 20. The debate will include Rachel Maddow, White House correspondents Ashley Parker and Kristen Welker, and NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell as panelists. What an exciting time for us women! We are finally getting a panel. Now that we have one, we can talk about women’s issues! Apparently, we weren’t really allowed to do that too much when there were also men on the panels for the debates: one question, maybe. But a question on abortion and another on women’s access to reproductive health care? Absolutely not. That is too many.
A curious choice is to have this specific debate in Georgia, especially after the "heartbeat law" that would have banned abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy was temporarily blocked. After Democratic nominees like Kamala Harris and Cory Booker commented on how there wasn’t enough of a discussion about women’s issues at any of the past debates, Georgia and an all-female panel were both chosen, perhaps coincidentally.
The #DemDebate was three hours long and not one question about abortion or reproductive rights.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) September 13, 2019
It actually is interesting to have this be considered a big deal. It’s thought of as out of the ordinary to have an all-women panel when there have been so many panels of all men. It goes to show how often women aren’t the majority for anything. According to the Pew Research Center, only 23.4% of the House of Representatives is made up of women, and that’s considered a record high. And late-night talk shows? There are barely any female hosts. And of the male late-night talk show hosts, I’m pretty sure most of them are named Jimmy. This doesn’t mean these male hosts are bad; some of them definitely care about women’s issues, but a female host is going to understand women's issues a little more—a lot more. And yes, these men have wives and daughters and mothers and neighbors who are women and many of their talk show guests are women and one time they said hello to a woman at a grocery store and they know many women. They’re still not women.
Although there are many women in all types of roles in the media and in government that other women can look up to or at least know about, women are not getting the same amount of representation on television and in the media that men have always gotten. We keep questioning why there aren’t many female talk show hosts, and we still hire James Corden. Yes, Carpool Karaoke is very fun, and I loved him in Ocean’s Eight, but there was an opportunity to hire a woman for that hosting role that wasn’t pursued enough by the people in charge. It absolutely could have been hosted by a woman.
Not having enough female late-night talk show hosts and female debate moderators change the way women watch these shows and debates, and they change the mainstream conversations that we're having. Women are missing out on the right way to have conversations about women’s issues when they’re mostly hearing about them from men—which is why it’s so important to have representation for everybody. If it’s just white men in those roles, only the Jimmys will be represented.
Header photo courtesy of MSNBC
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Kerry Cunningham is an editorial intern at BUST. She is a Chicago-raised Pisces who is doing her best and currently lives in New York. If anyone is looking to have a conversation, she is also looking to have one.