This Week In Pantsuit Politics: Greece's New Parliament President Stands Up To Sexist Bullies

Zoe Konstantopoulou

Zoe Konstantopoulou

One need only look at the Oval Office to see that when it comes to politics, we've got a bit of a gender discrepancy. In this weekly roundup, we focus on powerful political women in the news who are helping to break the proverbial glass ceiling of policy-making around the world. Politicos, move aside. We bring you . . . politicas. For more on female politicians to watch, click here.

Zoe Konstantopoulou

Yesterday, Konstantopoulou was elected as the second female Greek President of the Parliament ever, and (at age 38) the youngest person to hold the position in history. Oh, and she managed both feats while, how we do we put this . . . crushing it . . . earning a record 235 out of 300 votes.

A member of the progressive Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and prominent human rights lawyer, Konstantopoulou is known for her pull-no-punches attitude and willingness to stand up to opponents. During her inauguration, as one particularly pertinent example, she took on Greece's notoriously troubled political system by saying oh-so-casually: "The parliament can not function as a laundry machine of scandals and graveyard of criminal proceedings.”

In the past, Konstantopoulou has come out swinging against sexism as well. While helping to investigate a string of embarrassing political scandals in the country, she confronted misogynistic attacks, prompting her to muse:

“It was blatantly clear to me that this was a method of attempted moral and mental exhaustion to make me back down, but it was the wrong choice against the wrong person."

That kind of statement makes us thing she's very much the right choice and right person for the influential job she's just been handed. Corrupt sexists: Watch the hell out.

Nicola Sturgeon

We've written about Sturgeon, Scotland's first female prime minister, before. And also before that. And now, we shall write about her yet again. (And maybe again after that; this is not the kind of woman who stops making news headlines.)

This week, Sturgeon gave a rousing interview to The Herald in Scotland about the glass ceiling and how precisely she wants to help other women crack, shatter, and otherwise destroy it. And we quote:

"The responsibility of being First Minister is an enormous one. When you add to that the responsibility of being the first woman to hold the job First Minister then that adds up to a responsibility and privilege that I feel very acutely."


"I hope the example of being a female First Minister is one that can inspire others. I am living proof that it can be done."


"The simple but powerful message I want my tenure as First Minister to send out to every girl, to every woman in this country is if you are good enough and are prepared to work hard enough there's nothing, certainly no glass ceiling that should hold you back from fulfilling your dreams, and if I can send that message and make young girls believe that then I will be very very happy indeed."


"I can look back over the 25 years I've spent in politics and I can see that attitudes have changed remarkably over that period but they need to change even more if future generations of women are not going to face the same hurdles that my generation have done."

She also addressed head-on the media calling her (yes) a "nippy sweetie" for not smiling enough—aka, the most perfectly understandable reason in the world to denounce a woman. Sturgeon's response to the label?

"A strong assertive woman was seen as a nippy sweetie whereas in a man it would've been fantastic, strong leadership. You don't get any credit for trying to be something you're not in this life. What I've learnt from that experience is be yourself. Stand or fall, fail or succeed, hopefully stand and succeed, on your own merits, on who you are."

Nicola Sturgeon, a nippy sweetie? Nah, we'll go with "fantastic, strong leader," thanks.

Hillary Clinton

Meanwhile, Hillary-World was noticeably light on news of substance this week. But in related news, boy was it an entertaining week!

The big to-do is that—in the wake of Rand Paul decrying the dangers of vaccinations—Hills took on anti-vaxxers with this cheeky tweet:

In addition to delivering an effective #zing to a man who could very well face her in the presidential campaign, the tweet warranted an entire (and actually quite interesting) Atlantic piece analyzing how Hillary's grandma chops could serve as a political asset. The article's title? "Hillary Clinton: Grandmother In Chief." But of course.

Meanwhile, over in the category of "damn it's weird to be a woman in politics," a USA Today column posited that men have it really rough now in the Democratic party, because powerful women like Hillary and Nancy Pelosi "are towering and intimidating figures, who have sucked the oxygen out of the spheres they dominate," thus "scaring off serious male challengers." Damn those women with clout, competence and control . . . always frightening the mouse-men away!

In related bogeywoman news, this headline also happened, in the Chicago Tribune: "How Frozen and Hillary Clinton are destroying manly men."

Oh, and Sarah Palin inadvertently raised thousands of dollars for the Hillary campaign.

Ain't politics the best?

Images: Wikimedia Commons

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