The first female congresswoman

Chris Ambidge wrote me a little while back about having come across a photo in the Washington Post (which I can no longer find) of the unveiling of a photo of Shirley Chisholm, described as “marking the 40th anniversary of her swearing in as the first female congresswoman”. Apparently they meant “first black congresswoman” — that is, first Representative (or congressperson) to have been both female and black.

The redundant “first female congresswoman” has some currency in the media, however.

A few examples:

[of Leslie Byrne] The first female congresswoman in the Old Dominion [Virginia], she has struggled in key Congressional and statewide campaigns since then … (link)

Women we should remember are those like Jeanette Rankin, our first female congresswoman who fought for women’s suffrage in Montana and achieved it before the 20th ammendment was passed nationally. (link)

[of Loretta Sanchez] She talks giddily about wanting to be the first female congresswoman in space, among other self-absorbed comments. (link)

Carol Shea Porter, NH’s First Female Congresswoman (link)

The other women honored as Fabulous First this year are: Tammy Baldwin as Wisconsin’s first female congresswoman; … (link)

3 Responses to “The first female congresswoman”

  1. Robbo Says:

    This one drives me up the wall because I’m in the military.
    Why are these are OK: ‘airmen’, ‘seamen’, and ‘midshipmen’; but yet we have ‘servicemen and women’ — which is too cumbersome, so we just use ‘troops’. Can we not get the idea that a ‘chairman’ can be a woman? Or a congressman? What about yeoman or alderman? Truly we can are enlightened enough to accept a historical title to be filled by either gender?

  2. The Ridger Says:

    This reminds me of the character in Andrew Greeley’s books who constantly talks about “porter persons” and “police persons” and “Coast Guard persons” – but ONLY when they’re women.

    I don’t think Greeley is doing anything but accurately capturing people who *think* they’re being “inclusive”.

  3. X-men « Arnold Zwicky’s Blog Says:

    […] By arnoldzwicky Robbo comments on my “first female congresswoman” posting: This one drives me up the wall because I’m in the military. Why are these are OK: ‘airmen’, […]

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