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CHAUVINISM BECOMES FUND-RAISING FODDER

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They share the frustrations of many other working women; male colleagues who talk down to them, or make cracks about their looks, or suggest that they use sex appeal to close a deal.

But this group of women--all of them congresswomen--have found a way to capitalize on their brushes with workplace boors: Their stories make great fodder for fund raising.Nine Democratic congresswomen's tales of chauvinism in the U.S. Capitol helped attract and entertain an overwhelmingly female audience at a fund-raiser for Rep. Leslie Byrne, D-Va., Tuesday night.

It followed similar events for Rep. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Rep. Lynn Schenk, D-=Calif., in their districts. And more are planned.

"We as women and memebers of Congress are going to pull together our resources, we're going to work together, and we are going to accomplish our goals." Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard told a lively audience of about 175, who each contributed $40. Some stayed for a $250-per-plate dinner at the hotel in a Washington suburb.

The fund-raiser--billed as "Working Women of Congress Tell All"--included lots of praise for Byrne and for women's roles in passing legislation to provide family medical leave, ban assault weapons and finance women's health research.

But mostly the panel of first-term congresswomen talked about what it's like to be one of only 47 female members of the House (that makes it 89 percent male).

Roybal-Allard recalled being urged to lobby a senior Republican congressman for an important vote. She was told, "All you need to do is look at him with those big brown eyes and I'm sure we'll get the vote."

The audience moaned. How does one respond to such remarks? Roybal=Allard said she greets some unwelcome comments with a biting comeback, but lets others slide if the slight seems unintentional.

Some senior congressmen "are just trying to be courteous and from the generation they're coming from it's the only way they can relate to us." she said. Other remarks "are really intended to be offensive."

"We're constantly having to weigh and determine the reason...why certain comments are being made," she said. "It's not easy."

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, also of California, said she once upbraided a congressman for referring to one of his aides as "the pretty one."