Monday, March 5, 2007

Aren't women mainstream?

Considering we've all had a mother who has literally held the power of life and death over each of us, I've been fascinated by the discussion of the 'electability factor' of women for executive positions. Isn't it a little late in the evolution of humankind to be giving this topic so much attention, particularily now? I've been reading a lot of theories, a few in The New Republic today. One article, "Ladies' Choice" by Peter Beinart, cited some surveys Jennifer Lawless conducted at Brown University, where she found that perceptions changed after 9/11. Apparently, 65% of us are unambiguous about the reality that women are as assertive and confrontational as men. when appropriate. (Can you spell a-n-d-r-o-g-y-n-y?) But over a third of Americans still believe that qualities like compassion and compromise are not good qualities for a "war president", a real hoot considering we'd never have been in this horrific quag had we elected a sensible person that demonstrated these qualities in the first place!

In the second place, clearly this 35% doesn't know the women that I know either.

Beinart writes:

"...Here's the problem. The evidence suggests that Americans are slightly less willing to elect women to executive offices than to legislative ones, perhaps because of deep-seated stereotypes about women's leadership abilities. No one knows for sure, since there have been so few serious female presidential candidates, but those stereotypes could be a bigger obstacle when it comes to the highest executive office in the land. And, most worrisome of all, they could be a much bigger obstacle in a time of war..."

Maybe he's partially right. But I think I have my own theory. As long as the media can keep the public entertained and distracted by all the self-perpetuating dramas of "the battle of the sexes" and slap that gender card down every time Hillary gains a little momentum, kaboom! They know that many Americans will stay wrapped around the axal by this bagatelle, while the important issues that clearly need to be front and center, will always be limping behind, forced to the back. I don't know if Senator Clinton will be my choice, but I see that the media has already decided that the gender issue "is" an issue...therefore it probably will be. I'm mad about that.

And I fear this will be true for the rest of our bright Democratic candidates. I'm waiting for the media to really turn up the volume on the "race issue" for Obama. The Baltimore Sun has cast a stone. Let's see...Oh, Ann Coulter has already called John Edwards a "faggot" this week in Washington, to the collective cheers of her conservative comrades. I do wonder how gay Republicans respond to their spokesperson's terminology, as all my gay friends are liberals. She really likes that word I guess, as she's used it for Al Gore, the Clintons, etc. And she just loves cripples, too: Max Cleland, Christopher Reeves . She and Rush Limbaugh should hook up perhaps. Remember his insistence that Michael J. Fox isn't disabled and all that "flopping around" is for show?

If you have a strong stomach, you can read more about Coulter here. But I defend to the death her right to her poison pen! And I'm pretty certain, were she to run for president, no one would ever accuse her of being too soft, or too compassionate, or too wishy-washy.

I'm sure political writers are right to let us read the current thinking of some Americans. I'd just like to maybe see the conversation begin to evolve differently at this point. It's going to be an interesting election. Who will the mainstream media elect; and exactly who, or what, is mainstream this election?


Gary said...

Ah, yes. I live in the State of Enlightenment, otherwise known as Missouri, where the Secretary of State, the State Treasurer, and the State Auditor are all elected officials of the female gender. Add one more to the list -- US Senator Claire McCaskill.

Missouri pursues satori with a number of females in the state legislature as well. Alas, we must admit being hampered only by the fact that one of the four listed above, and some of the legislative representatives, remain in the Bush League, Republicans.

Carter said...

I just found this blog, Shaye, using a link from Gary's, but I'll be back.
I *really* like your politics!