If you remember your high school and college history courses, you’ll recall that in the Western world, it took centuries of convincing for women to finally be allowed into politics - as voters. In addition to being an unbearably long process for which enthusiasm constantly vacillated, the consequences for women involved were often humiliating and even deadly.
But finally, of course, we managed to open that long-forbidden door. Within a few decades, women were doing more than voting - putting strong women in high-ranking political office was soon a visible and realistic goal. State offices were easier to win, but women began to step on the national stage when Sirimavo Bandaranaike became Sri Lanka’s (and the world’s) first female prime minister in 1960, followed by Margaret Thatcher’s controversial, ball-busting rein as Great Britain’s first female PM in the 1970s, Geraldine Ferraro’s campaign as the first woman to run for the United States vice presidency in 1984, and Édith Cresson’s election as France’s first female prime minister in 1991, to name only a few.
We joke that, given the chance, women could run the world. But seeing what politics has to offer, at least in the US, I’m beginning to wonder. After all, while male politicos have consistently shown themselves to be creatures driven by power, money, and sex (and hey, who didn’t already have an inkling that might be the case?), in the last few years their female colleagues have radically undermined generations of feminists and equal rights proponents and in the process made the guys who don’t always think with the big head look significantly better as occupants of the Oval Office.
Indeed, it would appear that the new wave of feminism in politics calls for women to fashion themselves after some cross-waving, half-witted, power-suit-wearing Annie Oakley caricature with a good makeup artist. Now riddle me this: why would anyone, man or woman, consider a ridiculous caricature an equal, much less a superior and potential leader?
Honestly, it’s insulting and I’m tired of it.
This is not about my politics, my party, or my ideology. It’s about the fact that I’m a young woman with a brain, a heart, and a desire to see my idea of basic class, intelligence, and decency represented when I turn on the evening news. And by decency, I’m not referring to “family values” or other socio-political issues - because, let’s face it, you can be a good little heterosexual wife with 2.5 kids and still be a classless idiot. I’m talking about the ability to carry oneself with grace and poise, and show compassion and understanding while still making it clear that there’s a backbone of iron supporting that pretty face.
The buck stops with you, ladies. No more winking, no more gun-waving in press conferences (even if it’s pink, Lori Klein!!) or reality shows, no more verbal seizures in the press, no more hate-mongering - no more. You’ve got several generations of women who would LOVE to stand behind you if just one of you could just stop embarrassing us long enough to let us believe in you.
So I’ll say it again, you suit-wearing Annie Oakley wannabes: the buck stops with you - well, if you can keep from shooting it first.