Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Woman of a Certain Age

Judi Dench for President. She wouldn’t take any crap off Putin. Or Bond. Or any of the boys she regularly keeps in their place.

Or Helen Miren.

Or Gloria Steinem.

Maybe we could have a seance and see who Eleanor Roosevelt would favor.

Strong women one and all. 

The question today is this: are we ready to go beyond the strong women of film and the lionesses of feminism and elect a woman as president? 

I hope so. Not just because I think it would be the same kind of breakthrough as was electing a black man, one that offerers a role model to girls and women, one that gets the rest of us used to the idea, but because I think a woman might do a better job than a man. I’m quite certain that Hillary Clinton would do a better job than any of her rivals.

Bernie Sanders has good ideals, but no way to get there. The Republicans, by and large, don’t even have good ideals. It’s hard for me to imagine why any modern, self-respecting woman would vote for any of the current crop of misogynist Republican contenders.

As to Bernie, he’s the Ralph Nader of this go round. He has broader support, but the same flaws. He’s rigid about what he sees as right and wrong. If you don’t agree with him, he doesn’t want to talk to you. He wants to lead a revolution, not a discussion. His revolution isn’t going to happen in our country any time soon. And, as far as he is concerned, neither is a discussion of alternatives.

These things seem so obvious to me that I am struggling to understand why Hillary Clinton isn’t the landslide choice of anyone, man or woman, who wants the country to be the land of opportunity for all, not just the wealthy, but who also understands that the animal spirits of capitalism are why our economy leads the world.

Hillary Clinton takes on her adversaries forthrightly. She scolds when she thinks someone needs it. She fights back aggressively when attacked.

Kind of reminds one of “M.” We all love M. But the Bond films are just movies, and a man is the star. 

We admire the strong women of film. We admire pioneers like Roosevelt and Steinem. Somehow, though, we are having a hard time going from them to a woman president.

We are emotionally conflicted when it comes to women. We admire strong women, but they scare us a little. Most of us have been raised by and around women in more traditional supporting roles. It’s a little weird to think of them leading us the way men have in the past.

Rather than admit that very natural reaction to cultural roles in transition, we come up with excuses in the specific case to put off the day of reckoning. She’s too shrill. She’s too bossy. Sure, a woman would be fine as president, just not her.

Many say that women have had to be tough to get ahead in a man’s world. The implication is that, yes, she’s disagreeable but she had to be. I don’t buy that. I don’t think the women who are rising into leadership roles are any different than the men they are replacing. They are as tough as they need to be. It’s just that we’re not used to seeing that from women.

We need to get used to it. There’s nothing wrong with them. The trouble is in the eye of the beholder.

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