Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Is America Ready for a Female President?

In today’s society, women are considered inadequate to men in almost all leadership aspects of life. Why does it still have to be this way? Why are women expected to be nothing but housemaids and the primary caregiver to kids? Women are intelligent, responsible, and accomplished individuals who are more than capable of holding powerful leadership roles. Other countries such as Brazil and Germany, have women in high leadership positions and it is accepted. Brazil has a woman president, Dilma Rouseff, and Germany has a woman chancellor named Angela Merkel (which can be related to a president). There are many countries that have women in power, but unfortunately, the United States is not one of them. Women in other countries were able to break the barriers, be successful, and hold high positions in their countries while America is still struggling with sexism. According the Jennifer Lawless, “51% of respondents believe that Americans are not ‘ready to elect a woman to high office.’ Nearly 40% of the individuals they surveyed contend that women are discriminated against in all realms of society, including politics”. In my opinion, the percentages are much higher than they should be in this century. America prides itself on being a free country and not biased towards anyone. According to these statistics, Americans are biased and are not ready to have a woman take on the role of president, which is a very unfortunate thing to hear. People already have their minds made up that women “are not capable of running this country” and aren’t as accomplished as men, but how is a woman suppose to prove herself if she is never given the chance? The fact that women are looked down upon so much, it begins to affect some women very negatively. For example, “Women are significantly less likely than men to think that they would win their first campaign. Only 28% of potential female candidates, compared to 39% men, think that an electoral victory would be ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’” (Lawless). In this case, women are starting to doubt themselves because of all the criticism and obstacles they face in every day life. More women need to make a stand and say they will not accept being looked down upon and being considered inadequate to men. Women are capable in other countries, so why not America?

Miss Representation

I watched a documentary called Miss Representation, by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and it was a very inspiring and uplifting video. The video does an excellent job explaining just how women are portrayed in the media and how the media influences people more than one may realize. We think of TV shows and communication outlets, and in reality men control these telecommunication boards , rather than women. Men are controlling what people in the world see and are giving their opinions on controversial topics. So America is really only getting what half the population wants the whole population to see and hear.   These communication outlets infrequently acknowledge the female perspective in a positive manner when describing women’s political views. The video acknowledges how men are ultimately walking all over women and treating them as objects instead of people with good viewpoints. How are women to break out of their “ordinary roles” if society will not let that happen? Katie Couric was a significant contributor in the documentary and she explains how she first began as a newscaster, as it was all male dominated. She felt as though she may not be accepted or heard, because she was one of the very few women reporting the news. She worried about how she presented herself in a way that she was heard and not how she looked.  And in speaking about the news, Sarah Palin and Hilary Clinton were noted examples in the documentary, which described just how poorly women are treated when they were trying to break the social norm, and do something that has never been done before. During the process of running for president, both women were analyzed and critiqued more about how they looked and dressed than their opinions. The worst part about it is that the media made it seem acceptable that women are looked down upon. Why is it that men dominate the media in the first place? Why does society allow men to be the ones who are allowed to state their opinions, talk about the news, and run for president, without being questioned? The documentary sheds new light on the topic and puts snippets of movie, commercial, and news clips together and shows just how sexist this nation really can be. This world needs to learn that men are not superior to women, and women are capable of doing a man’s job. Mothers, and not necessarily fathers, are the ones who do laundry, dishes, clean, work, run the kids around, and help pay the bills. So if women are capable of running a household along with providing for their family, why can they not hold more dominant roles in today’s society? 

Just Another Pretty Face?

During the 2008 presidential election, Hilary Clinton and Sarah Palin were significant female figures. They were from opposing parties, but both faced the same criticisms based on how they dressed, spoke, and their personalities. Lawless explains that the Washington Post hardly discussed the education policy Hilary Clinton promoted, but had no problem discussing the neckline that “sat low on her chest and had a subtle V-shape”. It’s sad to think that the media would rather focus on a “revealing” outfit, when there’s much more important policies that are being discussed. It’s as if women are looked at as sex objects instead of people that have intellectual thoughts and ideas concerning the world. “… literature provides compelling evidence that women are more likely than men to receive media coverage and commentary that is based on their appearance, ‘feminine’ traits, and ability to handle ‘women’s issues’” (Lawless). Our society is so focused on portraying women as sex objects, and critiquing everything they do wrong instead of everything they do right. In the film Miss Representation, males talked about how Sarah Palin was looked at for her looks and that is all men focused on; how good or bad she looked on TV. Everyone looks at women in high-powered positions and labels them as “incapable”. Why? Because this society is so fixated on not changing the social norm and men are too stuck on the idea that men are the smart ones, the ones who take care of the bills, and the ones who are well rounded. Women in power are more threatening to men, and make them feel less masculine. The media will target the way women are dressed, how they spoke, and will more than likely not have very many positive things to say. If they do think they dressed well, it’s because they were considered sexy. Then that will be critiqued as well because then people will say she should have covered up more and been more modest. It’s a lose-lose situation for women in the public eye who are trying to climb the political ladder. 

Has Freedom of Speech Gone too Far?

How are we going to change this sexist view on women in leadership roles? Are women the ones that need to “change” or is it men, or society? I believe it’s a mixture of all three. Society needs to understand that this is not, and should not be a male dominated world. I know when my dad has issues or problems with work; the first person he goes to is my mom. He trusts her opinions and wants an outsider’s perspective, but also a woman’s thoughts. It has always been said that men and women think so differently, so why wouldn’t men want women’s opinions on significant issues? Women most always bring a more sensitive side to most issues than men, and help them consider solutions from a different perspective and men help women consider solutions in different ways. It makes the world more diverse and makes people consider things from different angles. One thing that seems to be a problem is men that have a voice in this society seem to abuse that power and degrade women. For example, Bill Maher (a TV host, comedian, political commentator) gave his opinion when Hilary Clinton became choked up when talking about the experience of running for president. Maher stated, “The first thing a woman does, of course, is cry” (Lawless). A man with his kind of power and voice to people all over the world, is extremely persuading. He openly makes derogatory comments about how women are too emotional, and it can affect people’s thoughts about women in politics. Another man in the media, Rush Limbaugh, has openly stated how he does not support women in leadership roles. Limbaugh had this to say about those who supported Hilary Clinton, You have to understand the mindset of a lot of these feminists and women… These women have paid their dues. They’ve been married two or three times; they’ve had two or three abortions; they’ve done everything that feminism asked them to do” (Bernstein). If we have men in the media that openly say such sexist things, how do we expect society to be more accepting of women in leadership roles? These men are making it an acceptable behavior to say such demeaning things about women. If this is how people want to talk about women in leadership positions, it doesn’t look too promising that women will break through the glass ceiling and become high-powered figures in the world. 

Why Don't We Have a Good Ol' Girl's Club?

An article written by 60 Minutes tells the story of a woman named Patricia Dunn, who was a Hewlett-Packard board director.  She was dealing with a situation where information was being leaked to the media by someone on the board. Patricia Dunn took it upon herself to hire private investigators to figure out who the “snitches” were. She ended up finding out who the man was that leaked information but he had an ally on the board that wanted to quietly brush the whole incident under the rug. Dunn was not going to let that happen. The man who leaked the information resigned, but he and his friend set out to destroy Dunn for ruining a “good man’s reputation”. They were upset she ruined his reputation, but they had no problem trying to ruin her reputation.  They went to law enforcement saying the way she went about getting her information about the leaker was illegal, so she then faced indictment charges. It gets even more interesting that HP made settlements with the man who leaked the information just to get him “off HP’s back” (Schorn). I have never read something and become so disgusted by it until now. This is a prime example of “the good ol’ boy’s club” where men take care of men and show total disregard for women. These were men who were very wealthy and powerful who would do whatever they could to protect one another, but had no problem throwing a woman under the bus. It amazes me how Ms. Dunn was the one doing the right thing for Hewlett-Packard and got rid of the person causing harm within the company, yet she was the one facing indictment. This is an example of women hitting that glass ceiling and unable to do anything about it because men seem to always have more authority than women.  Two men were in powerful positions on a world-renowned company board, and used their power to get what they wanted, at the expense of Patricia Dunn. She was a woman who did the right thing for the HP shareholders which is what a board member is hired to do and ended up paying the ultimate price in the business world – having your reputation tarnished.  Will there ever be a good ol’ girl’s club?