The Secret History of Women in the SenateRoundup
tags: Senate, women
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.
The great potty controversy received news coverage in both the Washington Post and the New York Times, where the female senators were reduced to raving perkily about their new facilities. “We’re even going to have a window,” New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a former governor and foreign policy specialist, was quoted as enthusing.
Yet some indignities have nothing to do with a lack of accommodations....
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