Fiona’s Blog: Why I’m Glad We Don’t Have a Woman President
Believe it or not, observing Obama’s presidency has actually made me glad that we don’t currently have a woman in the highest political office. You’re probably gasping with shock, after reading that sentence—especially if you’ve been following my blogs for the past two years.
Not only am I constantly voicing my opinion that I think we need more women in politics, I basically developed a massive girl-crush on Hillary Clinton during the 2008 election and it’s no secret that I supported her over Obama. But lately, several events have made me question—and I practically cringe even writing this—if 2008 would have been the right time for a woman to step into office.
2012 has in many ways been defined politically by various “women’s issues.” In the past few months alone, there have been contraception hearings, Rush Limbaugh called Sarah Fluke a prostitute, various GOP candidates attacked Planned Parenthood, a vaginal probe law was passed in Virginia, and debate about the Senate’s upcoming domestic violence bill began. To my relief, Obama has been nothing short of a feminist idol during these controversies, standing up on behalf of women all over the country. This brings me to why I’m glad we don’t have a woman in office.
Many of the issues that will be at the forefront of this election and have characterized the latter half of Obama’s presidency concern women…yet, they haven’t (for the most part) been portrayed by the media as feminist issues.
Aside from Rush Limbaugh’s crazy you’re-a-slut-Sandra-Fluke-because-I-don’t-agree-with-you rant, the word “feminist” has rarely entered the political jargon surrounding these topics, and when it has, it has been used in a generally neutral or positive way. I attribute this partially, if not entirely, to the fact that a man has led many of the fights in the past few months for gender equality—President Obama has created a fine model for a male feminist.
My fear is that, had a woman been in office these past few months, her presidency would have been characterized by the feminist causes she would have chosen to support or reject, something that I believe would have led to her presidency being remembered for her gender, solely, rather than her actions.
Furthermore, and I truly hate to say this because I wish it weren’t true, I think some of these issues might not have been taken as seriously because they would have been written off as “feminist issues”—and let’s face it, in the past few years “feminist issues” have not been given much serious attention.
Of course when we do have a woman president, there is a strong chance she too will be involved in political debate over “women’s issues.” In fact, I would hope a woman president might give more attention to such issues.
However, I think it is deeply important that in a time where the word “feminist” is often the f-word, President Obama has shown what it means to tirelessly defend all human’s rights, regardless of gender.
Whether to garner female votes in the upcoming election, or simply because he felt it was right, I think Obama can be credited with making the media take his feminist agenda seriously this winter. And so, with much surprise and some reluctance, I have to say that I think everything may have worked out for the better in 2008, at least in this area. Don’t worry though, I’m still on the hunt for our first Madam President.
Fiona Lowenstein is a high school senior, weekly guest blogger and Girls Leadership Institute alumna. Read more of her work here.