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Demeaning Joke Reflects Women’s Struggle in Virginia House

Virginia State Del. Ward L. Armstrong (D) apologized during a House session for remarks made on the House floor and at a party about Del. Jeannemarie Devolites. Armstrong compared Devolites to Monica Lewinsky, and joked about her “coming over to his place.”

Devolites commented, “It whittles away at what all women have achieved down here,” but accepted the apology as “very sincere.” Devolites said, “He’s a good guy …. He did it inadvertently.”

Currently, 22 women serve in the Virginia House of 140 total members. Only 56 women have served in the House since 1924, 23 of whom have been elected in the past decade.

Virginia state Sen. Janet D. Howell (D) said that it is difficult for many women to run because of a common misconception that women cannot raise the money necessary for their campaigns. Howell stated that a woman running in 1991 “was viewed as a disadvantage because [she] couldn’t raise money,” but that “both parties are beginning to realize women make good candidates.”

Sources:

Washington Post - March 7, 1998