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Set against the backdrop of an extraordinarily volatile electorate (which would propel the Gingrich Republican radicals into power by the 1994 midterm elections) Women on the Hill chronicles two years that began in optimism and idealism, but ended in a disconcerting mix of disappoinment and compromise. Bingham transcends partisan politics by focusing on the ways in which politics of gender affect us all. 208 pp. Author tour. Targeted print ads. Online promo. 15,000 print.
Through these four women, former Newsweek White House correspondent Bingham offers a recap of congressional activities in the pivotal years of 1992 to 1994, especially those of freshwomen brought to power after the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings. Although optimism was high at the beginning of the 103rd session, these women faced enormous obstacles in the long-held prejudices of the white-male-dominated power hierarchy. They were ignored, denigrated, and ogled. They were successful in some of their more important initiatives, such as passing the Family and Medical Leave Act, but not in others. Ultimately, the most significant contribution the 103rd Congress made to the political life of this country was in paving the way for a more equitable distribution of power between the sexes. Bingham offers a little background to the limited role of women in Congress over most of the past 100 years. However, many of the more recent events she relates are still fresh in the reader's mind, and she doesn't always add to what newspaper and magazine accounts have already reported. More serious is the fact that at least some of her interviews were confidential. With no attributions, it is difficult to judge, for example, her account of Murray's breast being groped in an elevator by nonagenarian fellow senator Strom Thurmond or her portrayal of Schroeder jealously guarding her hard-won power against the newcomers.
An interesting, occasionally gossipy look behind Congress's closed doors, but hardly authoritative.
|1||The Year of the Woman||28|
|3||The Women's Caucus Convenes||69|
|5||Family and Medical Leave||106|
|7||The Squeaky Wheel||143|
|Notes on Sources||259|