It’s the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.
It’s a good day to ponder when the United States will catch up with countries like Liberia. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected the 24th President of Liberia, but we are still contemplating the all boys’ club on the Left, while the Right ignites with an anti-feminist, anti-women agenda of people like Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin.
The topic wasn’t even hitting the top ranks of Memeorandum or trending on Twitter this morning, though it is now.
Watching the women of the Middle East rise up and get involved directly in the “Arab Spring,” as some have called it, reveals an exciting time across the globe for women who are stepping forward to fight for their country. These femme freedom fighters are exhilarating to watch, even as they’re being greeted by Egyptian men chanting “A woman’s place is her house.” Blake Hounshell’s tweets today are illustrative of what these brave women are up against. Hearing “we don’t want it secular, egypt is in an islamic country” has got to be devastating and harrowing as men raise their shoes to the women trying to march today. It’s the beginning of a long fight for them.
Sect. Clinton celebrating IWD took questions, with the most obvious one asked yet again at a time when we’re preparing for yet another presidential election without a viable female candidate in sight:
After Clinton’s speech, the women asked questions of Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale, Assistant Secretary of Education Ann Stock and Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills.
One woman from Latin America left the panelists momentarily speechless.
“Do you think now that your country is ready for a woman as a president? I am not sure any of the three of us should answer that,” she said.
Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills said she does not think the U.S. is quite ready to elect a woman as head of state.
“I certainly think it is the case that our country demonstrated ably in the last election that they are more than willing to support women in a leadership role and more than willing to actually see a woman as their leader,” said Mills. “But I think for getting over that final hurdle, I think we are a little bit away.”
Why does Ms. Mills think we’re “a little bit away” from electing a female president? Part of the problem is that not enough women in the United States think it’s important.
In the last election cycle when Hillary Rodham Clinton took center stage, vast swaths of females simply shrugged, including on the Left and in progressive quarters. Called the “vagina vote,” women insisted, some would say rightly, that issues mattered more and allowing for a woman to make similar mistakes as a man on war and peace. Electing her to make a point and move women forward was not thought worth the fight, especially by the younger generation.
Perhaps that was because Hillary Clinton is perceived as a conservative Democrat, which really only applies to foreign policy, except where women’s rights as human rights are concerned. No man comes close to her active belief in women’s importance in diplomacy and foreign policy, their voices making the difference in a country’s stability. Clinton certainly isn’t as conservative as Pres. Obama on domestic issues, far from it. She also would never have served up women like the first female Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi did on health care, as Pelosi’s male counterpart president emboldened the Right through Executive Order. But on the Middle East there is simply no reason to believe Mrs. Clinton would have gone to Cairo or openly laid down a marker on illegal Israeli settlements. As for Afghanistan, she’d never consider what an Obama official said, when fighting for women’s rights in that country were recently reduced to “special interest and pet project… pet rocks in our rucksack.” Unfortunately, that didn’t bother many readers around here either, because only two people bothered to comment on this revelation, with “Sally” the only one to stay on topic. Even considering this site is largely a readership venue this nonchalance was telling, though as I said in the comments, what is more telling is that this story didn’t get any traction at all.
Looking at 2012, Cheryl Mills is certainly correct.
At least the Right has two females who are considering the presidency. It is interesting to note that on the day of the first Republican debate for 2012, Sarah Palin is booked to attend a “military appreciation” event and fundraiser. File it under she’ll do it her way if she does it at all.
When you look at the Left, there is yet to be a woman rise to take on the Democratic boys’ club. Not even the reality that the Democratic Party is carving away court-won rights of women on health care has inspired a woman to take a stand against the misogyny of the Blue Dog Democrats holding sway over too much congressional turf. Not even Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood gave a damn, her organization only stirred when the Right came after their federal funding. Pres. Obama is also not exactly a paragon of leadership on women’s rights, simply doing what most other males would do in his shoes, while selling off women in health care on the wings of an “accomplishment.”
As the Right comes after our freedoms and personal privacy no heroine on the Left has yet to rise up.
Looking to 2016, even as far away as it is, because I don’t find anything for women worth celebrating as 2012 revs up, it’s evident that it’s still very much a man’s world in the United States.
This column has been updated.