Politics and other awkward stuff

A Woman’s Place is in the House. . . The Peoples House.

Forget rocking the cradle. It’s way beyond time that women rocked the system — and the Oval.

Play like a girl. As a challenge to our country, this seems a timely invite to up our game and finally put a homegirl at the helm. Seriously, it’s been three hundred years, people. Don’t you think it’s about time we made there’s a woman in House (the one with the Oval Office) where she belongs? It makes me just a tiny bit outraged that, though women are the other half of the population, they still haven’t been able to sit behind the desk in the Oval. We pride ourselves on being an enlightened country, of having an advanced culture, yet other mainstream countries have boasted women leaders for decades. Where is ours?

Yes, we finally have women candidates but the welcome mat has repeatedly been askew. The ERA, a critical step towards equality, is still waiting, along with a host of other approved bills, to be passed. When it finally does, how much it will erase both the mindset of ingrained patriarchy? Yet, can the reservations about having a woman leader really surpass all that their male counterparts have wrought for decades? In my mind, for one thing the ‘hand that rocks the cradle’ would be less inclined to slam it on the nuclear button. A woman, especially a mom, would be more than hesitant to send their own and other mothers’ sons, as fodder to fight endless, escalating battles.

We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly. Margaret Atwood

Helen of Troy. Indira Gandhi. Golda Meir. Margaret Thatcher. These iron maidens didn’t bring the warm and fuzzy. They brought their A-game, exactly what their countries needed in their time. They led their countries to war within a male hierarchy, conforming to values that allowed them to lead in the first place. Today’s Angela Merkel of Germany, Britain’s Theresa May and the European Union’s Christine Lagarde know how it’s done because they, too, had to overcome gender bias. At times, they had to outmen the men – in heels.

I’d like our country to have the chance, to see for ourselves in this critical moment in time, what America would look like with a woman in charge. It certainly couldn’t do worse than the current appalling incompetence.

More than 50 years ago, tiny Sri Lanka was the first to break the political gender barrier, with India following a few years later. As of November 2019, 15 women leaders serve their countries as president, prime minister or chancellor. Shocker, those countries are thriving — and none of them are in the Americas. Today only 56 of 146 nations have a female head of government. The fact that we still have not reached that point is in itself cause for a collective head scratching!

In business, there are still more leadership seats where the glass ceiling is neatly intact. Apparently, the idea of women as true equals seems as surreal as aliens landing in NYC. While it’s true we are hardly the only place in the world where patriarchy rules, we should be committed to putting equality, in all dimensions, on the menu. Even in my own little world, I saw lines drawn within the advertising agency my husband and I partnered jointly. I created and ran the business, was its creative arm, social media and promotion maven; my husband was the PR counsel. Yet, I had to constantly remind clients, who insisted on talking to ‘the owner’, that I was their person. Even in our less than big business, the ‘boss’ meant male.  

Some leaders are born women. Geraldine Ferraro

If women did man the Oval, perhaps infant mortality wouldn’t number among the highest in the civilized world. Maybe 1% of the population might think twice about wallets equaling finances of 3.6 billion people. A mom Potus might be more concerned about climate change when it could end the world as we know it for our children. And as women, who represent 80% of consumers, a female leader might better address sustainability, food technologies and pharmaceuticals. 

In this land we call home, we have certainly seen much change, although gender stereotypes, repression and omission still exist in spades. Women represent half of law school graduates; but only a third are lawyers, 15% are federal judges or law firm partners. Half of med school graduates are women but only 25% become doctors. Women make up a quarter of the US Congress, ranking us 97th among 193 nations worldwide in the percentage of women in the lower house of Congress. Currently, women comprise 6 of the 50 state governors, 20 of the 100 US Senators, as well as the first woman Speaker of the House. Women vote more than men, which is understandable since we had to fight ferociously for the right men took for granted. More women than ever are participating in the political process, but still the operative word is participating – not leading.

Empowering women can change everything. But first, we need to change minds. No, we are not the weaker sex. We are not run by our hormones nor do we run away from confrontation or difficult decisions. We communicate differently not less effectively. We have more estrogen than testosterone, but that enables us search for solutions first instead of knee jerk physical reactions. Hey, but if you want to talk physical, I dare any man, if indeed it was biologically possible, to go through childbirth. Then we’ll chat about who’s the weaker sex.

Winning the popular vote, Hillary Clinton got closer to the presidency than any other woman in history. The jury is still out on this year’s election. We’ve all heard the running commentary about whether the US is ready for a woman president, yet my answer is always the same ‘When WILL it be?’. Every man on this planet was born of and nurtured by a woman. I think the time has more than come to at least place her at least next to him.

“Men can boast about occupying top slots in history’s long list of conquering maniacs, bloodthirsty tyrants, and genocidal thugs.” said Steven Pinker of Harvard University. “Women have been and will be a pacifying force. Traditional war is a man’s game.” Amen.

I’d like to think if women held an equal share of leadership, she and her international sister leaders would find more creative, persuasive and collaborative ways to solve conflict. Are woman always steady as they go? Nah. We’re human. Sometimes we won’t be on our game (and no, not because of hormones).  Still, domestic pressures, geopolitics, economics, and a million other global issues have existed throughout history. It’s unrealistic to expect either male or female would bring an overnight change.

In the future there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders. Cheryl Sandberg

Trust me, this is not a diatribe about men. I’ve had a dad, a wonderful husband, gave birth to a male I adore and I have 5 little grand men I love to the moon and back. Boys are urged to behave one way and girls another yet stay at home dads can be as nurturing as women, some even more so. Men have invented incredible things; they’ve walked on the moon. I’d never suggest a world without them (well, maybe sometimes). I never claimed the globe would spin perfectly on its axis if women ruled it, but you have to admit it ain’t working well at the moment, right? John Lennon sang ‘Give peace a chance’ and women are way overdue for their chance. Having a chance at anything men have had inborn should never have been a question in the first place.

Would a woman in the White House cause the world to suddenly link arms and sing Kumbaya? I doubt it, though it’s a nice thought. I’m certainly not in government and I’m hardly perfect so I have no expectations that just installing a sister girl in office would transport us to Utopia. I’d like to believe, though, that there might be better, more innate ways of changing war, terrorism and poverty narratives. Certainly all the dudes who’ve ruled the world until now haven’t exactly done a bang up job and at the moment, the bar is so low, my youngest grandboy could limbo through it. 

After 300 years, have women more than earned the right to take a shot, and their rightful place in the best seat in the house. The White House.  

Hell, yeah.

Politics and other awkward stuff

Make America . . .

“America is back”. That was the opening line of a recent commercial, and all I could think was “Really? Where was it?”.

As far as I can tell, America hasn’t taken a trip anywhere, though it has meandered a bit. These last few years, the poor country has been pulled in so many directions, it must feel a little like Gumby. With only days left before the mid-term elections, I have to wonder if America is trying to hide until the worst is over. But then, what is the worst? We’ve certainly seen a whole lot of bad behavior, that’s for sure. If America was a kid, it would have been sent to its room for days. But then, it’s not one kid – it’s millions and where do you send them when they’ve been busy setting little fires everywhere? I’d send them to the voting booth.

America belongs to EVERYONE. Yup, sorry to break it to anyone who thinks only the anointed few get to lay claim, but that’s the truth. Of course, the original inhabitants found out the hard way when new guys (English refugees otherwise known as Pilgrims) pulled up, grabbed the land and all THEY got was a tee shirt and nifty reservations in the middle of nowhere. Didn’t they welcome the Pilgrim dudes, give them corn pudding and help them survive first winters? Sure, but who’s counting. We still make those cheery construction paper feathers to honor them on Thanksgiving, so it’s all good, right?

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it.

Mark Twain

For 241 years, America’s been stepping away, and coming back. We’ve been to war, to the moon and to the polls. We’ve raised the flag, our voices, our fists, and our leaders. We’ve seen the best and the worst of times. We have been and are a great, beautiful land with fierce spirit and big hearts. We fled a monarchy, started a republic, became a democracy and today waffle between them, with some resurgent populism and nationalism thrown in. (we know how well THAT worked out!) Continue reading “Make America . . .”