The world is changing. The United States has its first African-American president. Technology has taken over the world, simultaneously uniting us and highlighting our differences. Facebook, Disney, and Google are vying for world domination (which actually isn’t that unusual) and Twinkies are now a disgustingly squishy memory of our childhood. But, some things aren’t changing. In fact, some things seem to be almost moving backwards. All my single ladies, and just ladies in general, I’m talking about us.
Women’s rights are being infringed upon and debated across the country. Middle-aged and Gandalf-levels of just plain old rich, white men are trying to define “legitimate rape” and claim we can’t get pregnant when violated because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Thank you, Todd Akin. I understand my body so much better now.
On top of this, the Iowa Supreme Court decided we can be fired for being too attractive, and the Violence Against Women Act, which provides protection to women of domestic abuse and other violent crimes, was allowed to die with the 112th Congress. Add to all of this the debates over contraceptives, abortion, and a woman’s right to equal pay, and it’s a dangerous time to be a woman.
Which leads women to wonder—what if it wasn’t that way? What if we had a woman in the White House, sitting comfortably in the Oval Office, in charge of one of the leading nations on the planet? Would anything change?
I hate to be pessimistic, but no. I don’t think very much would change. Obama becoming President did little to stymie racism. If anything, it made it more apparent. Suddenly, it was acceptable to ask for his birth certificate and make news worthy claims that he was actually a Muslim terrorist. If we can’t blame Cold War Russians and World War II Nazis for the current state of the world, we’ve got to blame someone, right?
Thus, even with a black president, racism still exists. Even with a female president, we’d still need feminism and it’s “radical” assumption that women deserve equal treatment. We’d still have boys saying our place is in the kitchen and that we should only open ours mouths to stick a specific body part in it. Women will still be valued, and simultaneously criticized, for our physical appearances—and nine times out of ten, my hair style and the length of my skirt will matter more than my opinion.
This is not to say a strong female president wouldn’t have some effects. She’d be a guiding light for other women to aspire to. She’d be a force to be reckoned with. She’d also face countries that would criticize her both privately and publicly, declaring that she was unfit to rule simply on the basis of her gender, because society as a whole decided that women aren’t capable of running pretty much anything.
I take offense to this. Women manage to function perfectly well at work and in college, despite the supposed hindrance of being female. If a vacuous Southern cretin like George W. Bush can govern the country, I guarantee a woman could handle it and could probably do so with more dignity and grace.
All of this prejudice actually has a benefit. Whatever woman becomes our first female president, she’ll have to be intelligent, motivating, and exceptional enough to convince the American population she can run a country, even though, with people like Romney and Santorum in the running for president, white, rich men don’t appear to be held to these standards anymore.
If a female president, even a great one, won’t truly change the status quo in this country, then what will? We will. Our generation. And not just the female component. Men, too, must be involved, and that means proving to them that we are not delicate flowers in need of their protection. We’re women. We push life from between our legs. We balance work and classes and clubs all while having cramps that feel like a Prius is twisting its way through our uterus. To be fair, our mood swings are vicious. But our ability to be sexy, brilliant, and strong is even better.
I’m not saying we should ditch the male companion. Just remember to be independent enough to survive without him. Cuddles are awesome. Oppression isn’t.