‘Secret history of women in the Senate’ turns out to be pretty lame

‘Secret history of women in the Senate’ turns out to be pretty lame

[Ed. – No way.  Plucky gal-senators have had to chin up and ignore minority status and chauvinism?  Try deploying on an aircraft carrier, cupcakes.]

Kay Hagan just wanted to swim. It was late 2008, and the Democrat was newly arrived on Capitol Hill as North Carolina’s junior senator-elect. But Hagan was told that the Senate pool was males-only. Why? Because some of the male senators liked to swim naked.

It took an intervention by Senator Chuck Schumer, head of the Rules Committee, to put a stop to the practice, but even then “it was a fight,” remembers pollster Celinda Lake, who heard about the incident when the pool revolt was the talk among Washington women.

The pool wasn’t the only Senate facility apparently stuck in the Dark Ages. The restroom closest to the Senate floor that was set aside for women senators had only two stalls. By 2013, with 20 women in the Senate, restroom traffic jams were commonplace, forcing some of the female senators to traipse to a first-floor restroom far from the chamber. Two additional stalls, an extra sink and more storage space were added in the fall of 2013, after several female senators raised the issue publicly. …

Debbie Stabenow, a veteran lawmaker, recalls meeting with a senior agricultural lobbyist several years ago, when she was chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee and shepherding the massive farm bill.

As they were talking in her office, the lobbyist, an older man, reached over and patted her hand. “I know it’s going to be tough,” he assured her, “but you’ll do the best you can.”

“My blood pressure went up about 20 points,” Stabenow remembers, tension rising even now, long after the farm bill made it through to passage.

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