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tv   Women in Politics and Leadership  CSPAN  April 4, 2015 11:00pm-12:06am EDT

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a better understanding of the current cybersecurity threats that may be used against them. and while we're ultimately trying to keep your information private let's also talked about how we will keep your information secure. let's also talk about how this bill is going to ensure that's the case on the government's end as well. information sharing's covered by the bill and its 100-percent voluntary. no one is forced to share information in any way. the bill requires that a company removes private data before sharing anything with the government. no company is allowed to share data unless it is directly related to the cyber-attack itself. after hundreds of calls with the government, and business immunity and civil liberties , groups, i am confident that senator feinstein, senator mccain, and i have put together a balanced approach that will help your private information
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stay just that way -- private. i am pleased that the senate intelligence committee agreed, and approved the bill by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 14-1. this threat is real, and the increasing number of attacks has a tangible impact on our economy and our national security. today, we have a solution that can minimize the threats to your own personal information, keep the economy strong, and help secure the nation. thank you for listening and god bless. announcer: next, former texas state senator wendy davis talks about women in politics. after that, a forum on immigration policy and students. announcer: on newsmakers, tony
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perkins talks about the indiana and arkansas religious freedom laws and the political reaction. he also talks about the role of conservatives, specifically religious conservatives in the next campaign. announcer: this weekend the c-span city's tour has partnered with cox communications to learn about the life in tulsa oklahoma. phillips 66 with a company he founded north of us here in tulsa. it became the headquarters. today you still see the familiar phillips 66 shield. phillips 66 has become as
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familiar to people out here as a coke bottle. it is iconic in the minds of motorists. he was part of that flamboyant oil fraternity that came out of the early -- or the late 19th century and flourished. these were men macho industry who had amazingly solid egos. they were very sure of themselves greats, but he was human. he was many things, but always first and foremost, an oilman read announcer: what's all of our events from tulsa throughout the day on book tv.
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announcer: texas state senator wendy davis spoke for more than 10 hours in 2013, opposing a texas law on abortion clinics. last fall she was the texas democratic nominee for governor. she lost to greg abbott. she discussed the difficulties faced by her and other women running for political office. this is one hour. [applause] davis: thank you. thank you all. thank you to ethan and camille for putting this together today and all of the work particularly that camille undertook to make sure that we were able to do this, and thank you for being here and giving me the opportunity to speak with you. i have been looking forward to this afternoon. i was delighted to land in sunny california after being in a
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really cold winter in texas. i am here today to address gender, specifically why gender equality is losing ground, and how we can work to reverse that. i am going to ask you to challenge conventional thinking and how we define and talk about gender equality and i will , hopefully help you understand the lens through which i view these issues better. more and more, i am coming to understand and appreciate how each of our individual filters through our life experiences matter in a political framework. i would like to invite us to consider each other's personal perspectives, each other's lenses as we strive to move women's political equality to move forward. but first, let us take a moment to acknowledge some past victories in the women's movement. it can be easy, particularly in an onslaught of negative laws
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-- onslaughts of reproductive rights decisions to forget that on the long road to gender inequality, women have fought for and gained some significant ground. it was less than 100 years ago when women earned the right to vote. 51 years ago when president kennedy signed the equal pay act, only 50 years ago when birth control became legalized only 42 years ago when abortions became legalized, and then-president reagan appointed sandra day o'connor to the supreme court, and only a few years ago when president obama signed the lilly ledbetter equal pay act into law. these are all cause for celebration. when we look around we see there , is so much work to be done. as we watch and we celebrate
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lgbt advances with more and more states moving towards marriage equality, and as we witness divisive and discriminatory policies, like don't ask don't tell being repealed, after years of hard work and effort that is to be celebrated. gender politics seems to be taking a step backwards. women are facing an onslaught of legislation that threatens their reproductive freedoms and access to abortions. we occupy 56% of minimum wage jobs even though we make up only about 49% of the workforce. and governors in states like mine are vetoing fair pay laws if they ever make it to the governor's desk at all. all of this is happening without significant voter backlash, that says we disagree with the direction things are heading. we have to asking ourselves why. i think the answer to that is largely connected to and dictated by our own personal
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experiences and the lens through which we as voters view these issues. my lens was formed. my views were shaped early in my life experiences. in my memoirs, i thought to explain the serious issues that faced me. -- shaped me. not just those that gave me the strength to be a fighter, but to illustrate why these certain issues hit me the been the gut and compelled me to respond in a particular way. i am a living, breathing example of the promise that can be created through gender equalized opportunities. informal as they were, they existed at a time when i needed them. i was 11 when my parents divorced, and my ninth grade educated mother who had never been in a work force before, had to support four children on her own, while my father pursued his dream of creating a nonprofit
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theater. we went from a blue-collar lifestyle into poverty almost overnight. and watching my mother struggle to put food on the table and working in a low wage fast food restaurant job made me want to assure that i would never be left without an education and the means to support myself. and yet, i too, fell into the well of poverty and despair for a time. pregnant at 18 and married for a brief time i was forced to , support might daughter amber and i when i was only 19. i could not see a band in what -- i could not see a bend in what looked like a long and bleak road ahead. my worst nightmare was literally coming true. i was going to the struggle that i watched my mother lived. fear can be a powerful motivator. my fears would be reinforced when i found up that my electricity had been turned off because i could not pay the
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bill, or the embarrassment that i had to suffer when i had to put grocery items back in line because i did not have enough money that week to buy all the food. but i'm here today because policies that support a woman to move from poverty to stability actually do work, and these policies, some formal and some less formal, created ladders for me to move from where i was. one of those was access to affordable community college education with grants and low-cost tuition that made it possible even for me to afford. that ultimately became my gateway from graduating to -- from harvard lawsuit -- harvard law school. without community college there is simply no way that i would be talking to you today. the ladder came in the form of the planned parenthood close to
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my home. for years, as an uninsured woman, that clinic was the only source of care. i received cancer screenings diabetes screenings, my annual well women exam and it also , provided me with the ability to control my reproductive destiny, so that once i placed my foot on the path to higher education, i was able to keep it there. another ladder for me came in the form of affordable child care. that a dear friend of mine provided. we see president talking about childcare as an important issue, and for many women, the inability to afford and find quality child care is keeping them sufficiently at the roadblock to where they are. finally, i was fortunate to work in an office where my employer supported a work schedule that allowed me to go to school in the mornings and two leave
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sometimes earlier in the evenings, flexibility, these workplace policies are so important in making possibilities available for women to improve their lives. those years were a tremendous struggle, and they were filled with fear. but i am grateful for the motivation that that fear provided, and so very grateful for the lens of that struggle provided for me and which i now see the world. i have the flexibility to stand before you because those ladders, those policies are not there for others. affordable college tuition affordable reproductive health care affordable childcare, and , these things are not there as they were once for me. policies to support these ladders, and a great deal to talk about them and moving them forward are still unfortunately
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virtually nonexistent, and instead, we find ourselves fighting old fights, and in many instances, losing ground. why is this happening? quite simply, because support for an agenda that includes these policies has eroded. a negative association has been fostered between the idea of women's advancement and the threat that that movement poses to traditional, patriarchal notions of a woman's place. playing upon these negative associations women's reproductive rights and other issues important to women's inequality has been hijacked by politicians who are using those issues as a wedge, whistling to those who respond favorably to the perceived threats that they hope to engender. for these politicians, positioning against advancement of gender inequality serves as a means to an end. that end being their desire to
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hold onto and to further their political positions, status, and power. provoking favorable voting responses by using women's economy as their foil is much more important to them than any fall out that a leave behind. to explain my point, i will ask you to consider an argument made by a berkeley law professor in his book, "dog whistle politics," and he is speaking tomorrow, and i would invite you to attend because his work is very, very important. professor lopez, in his book invites us how to consider how racial appeal lens into politics, creating its own economic interests in favor of perceived social threats, which are far greater motivators. these reactions, professor lopez asserts, are strategically invited by politicians who employ techniques that play upon
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racial bias, and animus, to get voters to react in a way that is favorable to their desire to obtain or maintain political power. to demonstrate his point professor lopez traces accounts of presidential candidate using racial dog whistling to elicit voter support. candidates like george wallace who was ridiculed as an unrepentant redneck when he was outspoken in verbalizing support for policies defending segregation and extolling the proud anglo-saxon southland. voters did not respond well to his de facto racism. to vote for a candidate with such blatant racial appeal would admit their own racial biases and fears, but wallace learned that if he were more subtle with his messages, he could mobilize
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race-based voting without ever mentioning race at all. he stopped talking about objections to segregation and instead talked about state's writes -- rights to turn against federal authority. does that sound familiar we talk about the federal health care act or immigration? the ability to exercise racially motivated elect oral responses without having to admit to others or to themselves their racial biases or fears. goldwater too talked about freedom of association, nixon employed the politically ambiguous southern view of the south, dog whistles about busing, and reagan describing
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the young buck in the grocery store line buying sirloin steaks with his food stamps, why you were buying hamburger meat with your paycheck. his talk of welfare queens. professor lopez says not to get too smug about this technique, pointing out that president carter used arguments about forced integration and of course, president clinton with his well for -- welfare reform agenda. each of these appeal to white voters whose racial biases whether conscious or unconscious, are being played. importantly, professor lopez points out that this strategic use of race stands out from other forms of racism because the driving force he hind strategic racism is not racial animus for its own sake, but rather, and perhaps a more pernicious, the strategic use of
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race in order to successfully pursue power, money, or status. i found this in my own gubernatorial race last year when my opponent played upon fears regarding an invasion of illegal immigrants into texas openly calling for militarization of texas border communities through support of a national guard presence there, in spite of the fact that these communities are noticeably safe, with el paso having been named for the fourth year in a row the safest large city in the country. married to a latina, greg abbott would typically not fit the idea of someone with racial animus towards latinos, yet he understood how to dog whistle in a way that would appeal to voters who perceive a threat against latino voters.
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in order to gain their boats. -- votes. this use of dog whistling is not limited to provoking and playing upon perceived threat based upon race. this technique is also successfully employed to provoke votes aced on gender biases, and fears. so let's discuss these ideas of gender in that regard. perhaps given the sexualized nature in which will women candidates and women's issues are framed, wolf-whistling rather than dog whistling might be a more apt way to describe the tactic. some of that whistling occurs in blatant ways. for example in my race, my , opponent derided me using photoshopped images in sexually explicit ways to view me as highly sexualized rather than intelligent and competent as a potential state leader. there were also questions raised about my bona fide use of my
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-- motherhood when i went to law school. is that of focusing on my achievements, i was no longer to be applauded for graduating law school with honors while also juggling the responsibilities of caring for my young family, i was to be reviled for not giving my full-time to child rearing. and there were the abortion barbie postings in social media and the abortion barbie posters around los angeles when i attended a fundraiser there, showing my head on top of a barbie doll with a plastic baby taped onto my uterus with a pair of scissors behind me. these images and critiques were meant to invite voters to believe that i should be viewed not as a potential state leader, but as a highly sexualized woman, and one who is a traitor to traditional roles as a woman. this is strategic and flagrant and i am not the first female candidate to experience this and
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i certainly will not need the -- not be the last. the ploy works. so why stop? but these flagrant messages are supported by much more subtle ones meant to provoke gender animus. consider the number of politicians who use abortion as a political bogeyman. certainly, some of this is meant to elicit a response from voters who are motivated by religious or moral ideas about the sanctity of life and their objections to pro-choice candidates on those terms. but there is something much less obvious but no less powerful at play as well. making abortion a central issue in the political arena also plays upon traditional patriarchal notions of a woman's role in society and invites voters to view abortion as an issue that threatens that role. it is arguably understandable to
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see how playing on patriarchal sympathies would provoke favorable voting responses from some men. abortion, and other reproductive rights provide women with the atomic me to remain in and rise -- with the autonomy to remain in and rise within the workplace, creating competition for them and threatening their views for what they believe is appropriate for female-mail roles. this perspective is one that is deeply rooted, whether consciously or unconsciously, in the notion that women ought to serve in traditional roles to . stay-at-home mother. weiss supporter of her hunting , and gathering man. but these threats are not limited by some men. women, too, respond to whistling. that invites them to feel threatened as well. women who fear, whether consciously or unconsciously that their chosen role as a
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stay-at-home wife or mother will be devalued, or these sexually autonomous women would abandon reproductive roles to rise in the workplace or in the political arena. this particular message is meant, of course, to invite people to think about what happens in women's roles if they are able to utilize reproductive autonomy, and it was no accident that a condom ad was created in order to invite and elicit that response. using images such as these, the conservative movement invites that very response, invoking images of strong families and appropriate gender relations. serving as the backdrop to this game are the notions of punishment as well. women who have sex and become impregnated should bear the brunt of their sexuality, they should live with the consequences, politicians who
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employ these tools believe it and appropriate and noble role of women as homemakers and caretakers by inviting a negative response to women in the workforce. they play upon the idea that women should be in motherhood, and this allows women to enjoy sex merely for the sake of pleasure and threatens concepts of traditional family values. in this context, conversations about contraception and abortion become strategic means to an end, provoking threat based responses in voters who resent this intensive disruption to their perceived world order. and the place they hold in it. consider rush limbaugh's portrayal as sandra fluke as a
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slut, and this whistling was one that made people feel that she threatened their patriarchal ideas of a woman as a supportive -- appropriate role. guided by the moral framework that limbaugh and others wanted to impose wolf whistling invites , voters to react in a way that tells them that their implicit fears are at play and are much more important than their other ideas. a sociologist and professor here at uc berkeley has written extensively on this topic, and on abortion politics in particular. she argues that the right to life movement represents an attempt not just to protect the fetus, but to ensure that the family is a higher priority in the career among women, and that women choose to stay home, women
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who choose to stay home, are not relegated to a place lower to women who work outside the home. taking her argument one step further, i believe it is the case that some politicians are using the right to life movement 's implicit messaging of family versus career specifically to provoke voters who wish to guard against that perceived threat. keep in mind that whistler's don't necessarily even have to believe their own message, many of them likely do not, but just as a race based dog whistling is often nothing more than a strategic means to an end, so to is the case of gender-based whistling. tragically though, women's access to reproductive health care gets caught in the crossfire, and in deed, women's health and their very lives become collateral damage to a political scheme. so how do we respond? if my story is any kind of
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example, we would make the argument that is often heard supporting women to economic autonomy is good for the economy. assuring that women have access to education, health care, quality child care, family leave, all of these create an opportunity for women to be more successful, having crated buying -- having increased buying power in the economy and that is good for the economic well-being of all. when we all do better, we all do better argument. and it is a story that i titled you at the beginning of my remarks. but that message is not working with gender-biased voters. why? because it is missing the point. it is not speaking to these particular voting choices. it is a response that has not stopped first to look through the lens from which these voters are making their decisions. just think about the state of affairs that exists due to the 2014 congressional election.
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we now have a house and senate comprised of majority of members who proudly articulate their desire to deregulate big business, to return to a laissez-faire approach that allows major polluters and multibillion-dollar corporations free reign and an even greater , opportunity to grow their wealth disproportionate to most of the country's population leaving the middle class to shoulder more and more of the tax burden. there was a time post-depression, when it would not have been thought possible that americans would vote to slash taxes for the rich, give corporations a tory control on the industry, and financial markets it to aggressively curtail services, but american voters are voting for candidates who pledge openly and proudly to do all of these things. and the answer as to why lies sadly in the fact that an appeal
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has been made to something deeper inside of them. they have allowed fear of societal threats to become the primary motivator at the ballot box. we see this with race. look no further than the current conversation around immigration. we see this with gender. with legislation either passing or percolating in almost every state in this country, and in congress, to roll back women's reproductive rights, and that it employs the use of abortion politics as a messaging means to an end. legitimate arguments about the fact that paths to citizenship to undocumented workers would be good to the economy or that the empowering of women with reproductive a time he could likewise be good for the economy are not getting us very far, as experience has shown us. instead, we have to find a way to defuse the perceived fears that are being manipulated. in the gender arena, we might start by asking ourselves, why
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young women are eschewing the right wing of view and saying that equal pay and reproductive rights will require them to check their femininity at the door? consider the kerfuffle that occurred a couple of months ago in an interview with "red book magazine," the female lead in the popular show "big bang theory," declined to answer if she were a feminist. "is it bad if i say no?" she asked. she said that she enjoys cooking for her husband and it makes her feel like a housewife, which she loves, and she said, "it makes me feel old-fashioned, but i like taking care of my man." sadly, messaging from the far right has convinced her, and many other women convinces her
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that being a feminist makes her lose her femininity. we have to help her and women understand that fighting for women posse quality -- women's equality isn't about telling women about how they have to live, or that they cannot enjoy doing things that are considered traditionally female. it is about having the freedom to consider freely what we want our roles to be. it is about being respected, regardless of what those choices look like. it is about the working woman celebrating and respecting her sister, who made a choice to stay home and care for her children. it is about the stay-at-home mom, cheering on the women who are putting those racks in the glass ceiling. it is about each of us as women and the men who love us caring enough for each other, silencing the noise that attempts to keep us at odds. they relish in the fact that we feel we have to be at odds with
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each other in order to feel less threatened in the choice that we have traditionally and individually made. we have to create an inclusive and shared community that sends a message that we are all in this together. we have to work to minimize or do away with perceived threats that flow from the idea of embracing gender equality. we have to fight for an america where all choices made by women are respected and valued. a "new york times" article ran saying "can wendy davis have it all?" would we ever see this asked with regard to a male candidate. the better question asked by the professor emeritus at princeton asks "can we all have it all?" presenting the idea that when only men consider that they
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consider their role as breadwinner or stay-at-home husbands and fathers, that is when we will obtain true gender equality. she invites us to consider the importance of creating a world that we can equally celebrate in. true gender equality will come when we can take care not to view each other's choices through a pejorative lens. we've got to trade eyeglasses, working to our place free of hostility and fear because we see that we cannot be our best selves without each other's support, and we have to humanize this experience in a way that makes them translatable and relatable. i firmly believe that no one whether they have an "r" or a "d" next to their name, once to see the secondary impacts of the closure of planned parenthood's and the closure of women's clinics.
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in texas alone, an estimated 100 80,000 women lost their access to contraceptive care, not abortion care, and they lost their access to cancer screenings and diabetes screenings, and for most of these women, the only health care that they had ever known. and this happened through a strategic defunding that was aimed at bludgeoning planned parenthood. the far right has done the political calculus. they know that making planned parenthood the bogeyman gets them votes. we have to talk about the human casualty of this fight. about the women who will quite literally lose their lives because of maneuvering the at places politics above people. we cannot refute dog whistling
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by refusing to identify them for what they are. we need to call them out and challenge them. otherwise, we leave gender insinuations unchallenged and let it continue in the background to provoke fear-based voters to respond to those messages. on the very tip top of the texas capital stands a statue. it is not of a cowboy galloping on horseback. it is of a woman, and in her hand, she holds a sword, lowered, and in her left hand, she proudly raises a lone star above her. she is called the goddess of liberty. late at night, you can look up at the goddess of liberty and see her in illuminated high atop the capitol dome. if you look closely during warm december months, you can see the nighthawks diving and swirling around her, their small beaks and flatheads taken advantage of the glowing light surrounding her to hunt for flying insects in the night. through the wind and the rain and the brutal texas heat, the
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goddess of liberty continues to stand. she stands for freedom. wisdom. and justice. she is a symbol of everything that i was fighting for on that day in june of 2013 when i stood for 13 hours. freedom and justice for women and the wisdom of lawmakers to stop making women's body pawns in their political games. appropriately and beautifully, it wasn't me that carried that filibuster successfully over the midnight deadline. it was the thousands of people women and men, who were there, who had their own personal experiences that they wanted to share, who had listened as i read the heart-wrenching stories of so many women and their families on the senate or that day. there they were, and they were demanding to be hard. -- be heard. and when their voices were
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artificially silenced through political and parliamentary the maneuverings that occurred that they, they rose up against that. like the goddess of liberty, with that lone star raised above her head, they stood for something. for themselves and for each other, and for women they have never met nor will ever know. and for at least a moment, they understood and owned that power. that power is in each of us. the power to stand and the power to unite each with each other towards a common cause of seeing and understanding each other bound by our shared human experiences and triumphs and failures and sorrows. i hope that we will own that power and that we will use it to collectively say, we stand for a woman's right to choose freely the path that she will travel. we will fight for the tools that will provide her with that choice. when she does, under that decision for her own body
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whether she will pursue a career at home or in the workplace, we will stand with her in defending her choice. i hope we will use our power to stand arm in arm with our sisters, no matter who they are or the choices we make, because we stand unabashedly and unashamedly for women's equality. and when we do unite and stand together for that cause, we truly will have the power to make it happen. thank you all so very, very much. [applause] host: thank you for that
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and i have the pleasure of immersing myself so very deeply into your memoir over this past week or two, and one of the things that impressed me is to see senator davis today and see her as so buoyant and so confident and seen this strength come through, and yet you said that you grew up painfully shy and very modest, and so i am wondering if you have advice for the audience as to how women who are struggling to find their voice can do so? fmr. sen. davis: i found mine, as i said in my remarks, through my own personal experiences, and everything i fought for in the texas senate was really based on those. i was a champion for public education, i had a much lesser known filibuster fighting to prevent $5.5 billion in cuts to texas schools. i've fought against payday lending because i know that
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people can get caught in a loan that can financially ruin them and of coarse, i fought for women's reproductive baton and be because of my own experiences and the benefits that i received from that kind of care. as we women listen to our own voices and think about how we would use them to speak, i think naturally we will find our way, and we do find our way in doing that taste on the things that we have experienced in our own lives and that has motivated us to stand up and to speak out on them. what i hope that women more and more will do is to own our power to do that and to push against our natural tendencies to be shy or soft-spoken and use those very important voices that we have to move gender equality forward. it sounds like -- host: it sells
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like your voice is found through your heart and through the courage and the passion rises and from there you speak, and that is really a wonderful thing to see. let's talk about power. you said that it has been said that laws are like sausages and it is better not to see them made, and injure memoir, it nicely illustrates some of the. eat dog nature -- some of the dog eat dog nature of politics and give us your gendered you of power, and i am not sure if you are familiar with the book "the athena doctrine," but it reports on a survey done of 60,000 people across the globe representing two thirds of the world's gdp, and what they found is that two thirds of the respondents agreed that the world would be a better place if men thought more like women. [laughter] and i wanted to get your views on this and wonder if you would say that masculine power is different from feminine power and how that plays out in the world of politics?
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fmr. sen. davis: i think we uniquely utilize our skills to use our power in a way that we naturally our comfortable -- naturally our comfortable with. it is difficult i think to say that women have a style that makes their ability to use their power unique, but we do have something very unique, and that is, we bring the perspective of what it is like to be female to the table. and when we believe in ourselves enough to bring these issues forward and to make sure that they are heard in the conversation, it is terribly important. we do need to be a government, whether it is at the local, state, federal level, it is reflective of our population, and unless and until we can elect women to those roles, we are not going to be. i found that i had to be
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particularly scrappy in the texas senate to get my voice heard. i could not rely just on having a softer negotiating style, the female, stereo typical style, i had to be a real fighter in those back rooms and to really push hard for those things that i was really trying to advance. host: so it sound like you had to learn to embrace both your masculine and your feminine aspects of power and to fight the fight as it currently exists and at the same time, remained true to the values that you want to socialize as a whole because of by virtue of the fact of being a woman. so let a senior, obviously, you have been on a wild political bride, and it is -- ride, and it is seemingly of both victory and defeat, and i was wondering if you can reflect on what that might have been and if you have
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any regrets or in general what you have learned that has enabled you to move forward and an act of vision you see for a better future? fmr. sen. davis: i certainly don't regret running for governor in this past year. it was not only a very rewarding personal experience for me, but i felt like it gave me an opportunity to move a conversation, and to make sure that at the very least, i was highlighting things that weren't being heard. this is a both the texas capitol and the governor's mansion in particular. and i know i spoke to a lot of people who feel like their voices have not been represented in the halls of that capital. so i won't ever say that i would regret having done that. i have also learned that there are many things that we do that we fail at when we first tried to it when i ran for office the very first time for city council, i lost. but there is something to be gained in losing. it provides you a's perspective
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-- a perspective to look back on and to say what could i have done differently on? certainly i have felt that measure looking upon my gubernatorial race. there are things i could have done differently. as i mentioned in my remarks, i would call out some of the gender politics that was at play in a much more vocal way than i did. in fact, when i was asked by reporters about some of these things, i was usually demur and try to downplay like i was being treated differently as a female candidate that a male candidate was. but i think when we do that, we give permission for that to be the way that we are treated in the political arena, and just as professor lopez talks about the blatant racial appeals being used, people need to stand up against those. when they see that is at play, they reacted a very unfavorable way to that, and i think helping
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voters see that they are being invited to view women in a way that isn't fairly reflective of who they truly are and their potential as state and local and national leaders if we make that point known, and if we bring people to a point of being present and aware and maybe they are unconsciously reacting to it, i think we could really push back against that. and as a woman candidate, i have learned that it is important to call it out when it is happening. absolutely. host: in your book you describe a parallel between former texas governor and yourself. running for office placed a strain on your marriages that could not be sustained. you stated at its most basic point, referring to your former husband, "our relationship had begun without that power
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differential, and you were struggling to forge your own way for a while." i am wondering, referring back to the earlier point, do you think that women can have it all and do think women should change in the home so that men are more comfortable with women's power? fmr. sen. davis: if i could answer this question and solve this issue, i would be doing the world a great deal of good. [laughter] it is difficult. of course coming you have two professors on your faculty here, and they confronted this issue, and they have been very open in talking about it. it can be very difficult as women are working to find their foothold in careers. only to deal with the way that they are viewed by the outside world and some of the people that they may be working with, but even within their own homes, where their spouses may feel threatened by that.
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and i know that the tension, the pace the pressure of running for office and holding office certainly took its toll on my marriage the same happened for and richards, even though she and her husband have had a very respectful and vibrant partnership for many, many years in the political arena, as i did with my husband, my former husband, and i wish it weren't the case, that the pressure became too much. it tends to be the situation when male candidates are running and when they hold office, there is a much more comfortable role that they have with their spouse and sometimes that exist for women who are pursuing the same passions. host: thank you for being a trailblazer despite the personal costs that you have heard as you have acknowledged. so i wanted to ask you, it's a you described in your book, well
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we know that you have worn a football helmet to literally get tough in the face of opposition during her filibuster you outfitted yourself with a catheter, a back brace, and a very national pair of pink running shoes that increase your endurance and stamina. could you comment more generally about how you take her of yourself, psychologically, spiritually, in this fast-paced world? areata huffington in her book "thrive" talks about well-being and power and material wealth so how do you foster this aspect of yourself? fmr. sen. davis: it is so important and it could be so hard when our schedules demand that we focus our attentions on everything else. but everything else suffers if we don't give that sort of metric that is due attention and care. for me, it comes in the form of running and other forms of exercise that i do, trying to well, sleep is a real challenge but i tried. i tried.
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i think that matters no matter what what -- no matter what we are doing in our lives. we need to exercise and take care of ourselves and we have the ability to keep our engines going so that we can do the things that we really care about. host: do you go so far as to put in your schedule? do you say that you are working out today and it is not negotiable? fmr. sen. davis: i had to literally do that during my campaign, because it can in every hour of your day if you allow it. the person who was head lay my schedule had to make sure that she was giving me the time to be able to do that. host: good, good, good, good. well, i want to ask some questions to the audience, and i think i will go until 5:15, just so everybody knows. my question is what you think you can do where women can
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succeed along with their male counterparts? fmr. sen. davis: first, i want to applaud on what is happening on college campuses around the country, where women and men are really trying to move the issue forward about sexual assault. they are painting and putting a life -- a light on what is going on and shining that light and making sure that we are confronting a reality on what is happening, it is so very, very important. if that is something to any of you are involved in here, my congratulations and my appreciation to you for that work. when we shed light on this issue, and like i said in my remarks, when we humanize them for each other, it really helps to change the conversation. and i have found in my political life that when we meet our opponents in an honest way and
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we talk about things in human terms, and we uncharged the language a bit and we try to relate to each other as one human to another we really can appeal to people in a way that they might initially have their defenses up about. and this issue is no different than that. making sure that women's experiences are being looked at in a very human, real experience , and shedding some understanding of that by virtue of telling our personal stories. this is why i felt that it was important, even in the context of my campaign with a lot of people saying that they didn't understand why i did it, this is why in my book, i told my story about my experience, my personal experience, with a abortion. we have to destigmatize these things. we have to be able to talk about them so we can all relate debtor to what those human experiences
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are and why it is that good reproductive policies are important just as sexual assault protections are important. host: sure, sure, absolutely, we need to allow the issue to see the light of day. so what are the main obstacles for women today, and how big does a role of sexism still play, and how do you combat sexism when it comes to your family, if it does? fmr. sen. davis: interesting and i showed those slides, and that is literally the tip of the iceberg. i know that all women are treated in ways that invite voters to look at them as women and not necessarily as the leaders that we are and have the potential to be. my race was particularly flagrant. i think that when we see hillary clinton talked about as a
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candidate and when we saw her experience, even in her prior presidential race, she has a particular target on her that a lot of men come after. it can be really difficult to read but i feel a responsibility to all of the other women who are considering running for office to show that we can rise above that, as women candidate and as i said earlier, i do think we need to call it out when it is there and bring attention to it and chamber -- and shame those who are doing it, but at the same time we have to show that we can rise above it and move through it, and continue to fight for the things that really matter to us, otherwise, the folks that send those messages when it -- messages win. host: absolutely, and do you think paid maternity leave will be a reality in our lifetime? fmr. sen. davis: i certainly hope so, considering that we are the only industrialized country
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that does not have that, and i tend to be very optimistic about things and wonder that if we continue to fight enough about that, it is going to become a reality. at the very least, it is silently moving forward in the conversation where it is getting a lot more attention than it has in the past, had it is important not only on the maternal side but the paternal side where we can provide for people and a gender equal way and have the ability to have a family and have a career and not compromise either of those by virtue of wanting to have both. host: great, and so you describe several instances in your memoir where you learn that swimming against the tide and been outspoken really goes as unpunished and in the academic world, we call this backlash and often both women and men are subject to it, you talk about this and you talk about the concept of leaning in, where women are being encouraged to do today.
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as important as leaning in is, is important for women to advance their individual agency, and what can we do to foster a greater sense of political -- sense of individual agency? fmr. sen. davis: leaning in is important, and i think we can all feel a relate to having have done that at some point in our lives. it is also important that we don't put that responsibility solely on women to achieve for themselves because that forgives the environment which is forcing women to live in an un-equalized world. we also have to confront workplace policies and legislative policies that either don't exist or do exist in ways that are harmful to women. we have to work to make sure that governmental policies workplace policies, are creating
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the kind of environment that truly is gender equal, and i worry a little bet that if we tell women that this responsibility belongs solely to them, we create a sense that women may have that somehow they are doing something wrong, when there really is a much broader issue at play, and i want us all to be working on those broader things and making sure that we perform -- we reformed things on the policy level in order to create true and gender equal opportunities. host: did you see patricia arquette at the academy awards and hurt concept of equal pay -- and her remarks about equal pay? fmr. sen. davis: i did and when i mentioned that president obama passed the lily ledbetter act it was similar to the view that
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when john f. kennedy pass the equal pay act that it was done, but in my own state i have worked very hard in my last legislative session to get an equal pay bill through the legislative session. it is no easy task, but we did get it through. we were so excited to place the bill on governor perry's desk. governor perry received pressure from companies like kroger and macy's who wanted him to veto that bill, and he vetoed that bill in favor of the pressure that he received. this was happening not just in texas but elsewhere where bills are not even making it, like i said, to the governor's desk. we have got to make our elected leaders feel that they own the same responsibility to us that they feel they own to people who are potentially mega-donors to
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their campaigns or their future campaigns. this is why voter apathy is so upsetting to me. because when we don't vote, we do show people like governor perry that acting in ways like that will go unaccounted, they are not held to account for it. i think that we all ought to own up to our responsibility and make sure that we are using our voices in a way to ensure that we are as powerful as some of these folks that can write the big checks. host: ultimately, politics is powerful but we need to change culture, and see these issues from a moral lead and not a justice lens. so maybe that is the direction we need to go. so how do you determine your political platform and agenda to educate your self -- yourself on the issues? fmr. sen. davis: it really comes
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from within, and as an elected official, i try really hard to keep an open door for people to come in and talk about things that really matter to them. i work on testing the backlog of rape kits in texas and a person coming into my office asking did you know about this, so never underestimate the power that we each have, whether we decide to run for office and do these things, push these policies forward our self -- our self, or trying to move them, we can't know or have been in the shoes of everyone, but if we are thoughtful as elected leaders with someone helps us to risk -- helps us to stand in their shoes, it is very helpful for that. host: who are your role models and heroes and mentors? fmr. sen. davis: certainly, and
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richards, the last female governor and the last democratic governor in texas. she experience certainly her own brand of what it was like to run as a woman in the state of texas. her daughter, cecile richards, who is the head of planned parenthood is very much a role model of mine, and she started an entity in texas, the texas freedom association, the texas freedom network which stands for civil rights and freedom of expression, and that legacy continues after she left, so she certainly made her mark on the world, and it certainly shows that she is unstoppable in the face of criticism -- unflappable in the face of criticism and unflappable in all of the undoing of the fine work that that organization is doing, and she is a role model of how we conduct ourselves as women in
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the state, especially when there is a little but of a back slide from time to time. host: we can see who can embody strength and thick skin, and you wrote in your book about how far you have come in this regard and really not letting the turkeys get you down. [laughter] so your personal story makes the case for public policy that supports women, how do we get men to be the allies in the fight for the fight to further these policies when they don't experience of these things personally? how do we make men care about feminism? fmr. sen. davis: we share our stories, again not to be a broken record, but humanizing these issues just as i come a for example, as a state lawmaker, might not understand how issues are happening in the prison system and the state when people are coming and
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humanizing of those experiences it motivates me to want to the helpful. we have to make sure that we make men our allies in this fight, because we want true gender inequality, and again, as we are invited to consider that jew -- that true gender equality comes when we think about men as well and the choices that they have in front of them, and the fact that they are free to choose as we currently are, men who have daughters tend to really be much more open these to
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>> is to help men and women alike to help people with ours perspective. you embody that very well. what is your political future? [laughter] i have no idea. i am working on creating an advocacy organization for women. i am very passionate about this issue. and certainly it is the case that not being in political office does not mean you have to go on radio silence on things you care about. in fact, not being an office holder anymore or a candidate right now has been freeing. i can say what ever the hell i want to say. [laughter]
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no one is message managing me. i can listen to my heart and the things that matter deeply to me and spend my energies and efforts fighting for those, and that's what i'm going to do. and if that takes me back into the political candidates or officeholder arena great. if it doesn't, i will be fighting in a way that will be effective and make an impact. >> wonderful. i look for to seeing your continued impact grow. i thank you for being here and sharing your story with us. >> thank you. [applause] >> next political commentator , bill whittle discusses how to get a conservative message to young people.


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