When reached by phone on an early spring morning, state Sen. Katrina Shealy is typically upbeat, asking this reporter in her distinctive Southern drawl, “What’s on your mind?”
After being informed that Free Times is doing an article on women in the South Carolina Legislature, Shealy laughs and quips that, if the article is going to focus on all the women in the Senate, it “probably won’t be a very long story.”
Shealy is the only woman in the S.C. Senate, a chamber that has 46 members. The 60-year-old knocked off longtime incumbent Sen. Jake Knotts in 2012 to claim the District 23 seat.
Shealy says, plainly, that it is “hard to be a woman and be in political office.”
The senator from Lexington was part of an incident recently that showed just how difficult things can be for a woman serving in the Legislature. Upstate Sen. Tom Corbin touched off a media firestorm earlier this year when, while dining out with lawmakers, including Shealy, he reportedly joked that women are “a lesser cut of meat.”
Corbin apologized to Shealy for the remark, and she accepted that apology. Still, the wayward comment was a small example of the guff female legislators still face, even in 2015.
Shealy — who notes she has, for the most part, a good relationship with the men in the Senate — says she didn’t like the fact the Corbin comment was made in public and then spread like wildfire in the media.
“That [comment] really didn’t bother me, other than it went so public and he did it in public,” Shealy says. “It’s like I said, if you keep it in the family it’s all right. But, once you take it out of the family it becomes a problem. But, I get along [with other senators] just like they are family.”