What is it going to take to convince voters that a woman can lead this nation? I’ve heard complaints about Hillary Clinton’s character, unfounded suspicions that have survived the scrutiny of a hostile Congress for the last 40 years. I doubt many voters could undergo such scrutiny by their detractors and survive as well. So what’s behind this reluctance to elect a woman?
Certainly, history has shown women can govern — starting as early as Egypt’s Hatshopsut (15th century B. C. ) down to Angela Merkel of modern Germany. Even women in third world countries have been given a turn at leadership. Sri Lanka had its first female prime minister in 1960, with Pakistan and Bangladesh not far behind. (“How they see us,” The Week, August 12, 2016, pg. 17.)
That women have courage isn’t in question. From Britain’s warrior Queen, Boudicia (?-61CE), to France’s Joan of Arc, to Mary Edwards Walker, the only women ever to receive the Medal of Honor, (Click), women have shown their grit. Olympic swimmer, Yusra Mardini, her sister and another woman leaped into the water from a dinghy while crossing with 18 others from Syria to Lesbos when the craft’s motor failed. For three hours they battled a turbulent sea until they reached the shore, bringing everyone to safety. That’s strength as well as courage. (“It wasn’t all bad,” The Week, August 12, pg. 6.)
Despite the lessons of history and daily life, patriarchy is alive and well. As Josephine Tovey observed in The Sydney Morning Herald, “Powerful women have a way of drawing out the sexism that lurks beneath the surface of a supposedly moderate, modern society.” (Excerpted in The Week, August 12, 2016, Pg. 17.) How true. Ask yourself if a woman could have behaved as Donald Trump has behaved and been taken seriously as a potential leader for our country.
My hope is women won’t take Hillary Clinton’s achievement lightly or underestimate her potential to produce change. As the men folks around her have admitted, she’s the most seasoned leader of any that have run for the presidency. For her, there needs to be no learning curve. She will hit the ground running. As Melissa Batchelor Warnke writes, despite those bloody emails, Hillary Clinton has grit, intelligence, and determination and as a woman is now poised to step into a job held by men for more than two centuries. Regardless of how you feel about her, recognize the significance of this moment. ” (“Clinton: Why aren’t more women excited?”, The Week, August, 12, 2016, pg. 19.)