Men behaving badly

Pub date October 23, 2012

The fiasco that was the candidacy of Julian Davis for Supervisor has shed a spotlight on the long simmering sexist underside of progressive San Francisco politics. For years, men have dominated elections and institutions; the lack of women in progressive leadership has been obvious, but too often unaddressed.

San Francisco has a long history of electing women to high office — Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, Louise Renne, Kamala Harris … it’s not as if politics in general is controlled by men. But most of those women have been from the more moderate (in some cases, conservative) side. The elected officials who are leaders in the progressive movement have, for most of the past decade or more, been overwhelmingly male.

And it’s hard to ignore the obvious questions: How could so many progressives get behind a candidate with such a history of poor treatment of women? Why did it take so long for the truth to come out? When did attitudes on the left devolve to the point where groping was considered a minor detail?

More important, where are we going from here? How is the progressive movement going to encourage a new generation of women leaders? How are we going to address the perception, and sometimes the reality, that the politics of the San Francisco left is not a welcoming place for women?

It’s going to take a while to talk all of this out, but this week, we want to start the conversation.

>>A NEW FEMINISM FOR SAN FRANCISCO: Community activists on a guide to compassion, redemption, and accountability

>>THE “HEIGHTENED SENSITIVITY” BLUES: Hey progressives, why don’t you stop being such idiots? (An angertorial)