Two years to go until the presidential election, and it boggles my mind how many times I've already seen this sentence: "Is America ready for a woman president?" That's usually followed by some stuff about how much you would like to have a beer with the candidate being a predictor of electability. Maybe this question keeps being written by some of the 79% of Americans who don't have passports, because here's a flash: while Americans perceive this country to be on the cutting edge of, well, everything, the world is already waaayyy ahead of us this time.
While Americans clapped wildly at the last State of the Union address when George Bush said he was making history with these words, "Madame Speaker", it was only American history. Sixty seven years earlier, in 1940, Khertek Anchimaa-Toka was the Head of State of Tannu Tuva, which then joined the Soviet Union in 1944. She continued in various government positions until 1972. No word on how many people wanted to have a vodka with her.
In 2007, a record 13 countries have currently serving, elected female Presidents or Prime Ministers; Ireland, New Zealand, Latvia, Finland, The Philippines, Bangladesh, Mozambique, Iberia, Chile, Jamaica, South Korea, Switzerland, and a Chancellor in Germany. None have renowned ballet companies, or have ever asked neighboring countries if their maps make them look fat. All play some kick-ass soccer.
In 2002, the list was also at a record 13, with Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Panama, Senegal, and Sao Tome and Principe replacing some of the above, with only one of them being flooded by god.
Add to those, these countries, which elected female Presidents as far back as 1980; Iceland, Malta, Nicaragua, and Guyana. American tv shows debuting in 1980 included "Bosom Buddies", where two men played women, "It's a Living", about spunky waitresses with a surprising amount of cleavage for a non-Hooters hotel dining room, and "Too Close For Comfort", about a father who meddled in the lives of his grown daughters, who lived in the apartment downstairs.
Countries with female Prime Ministers, some as far back as 1960 include; Sri Lanka, India, Israel, Central African Republic, United Kingdom, Dominica, Norway, Yugoslavia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Poland, and Turkey. The only power available to American women in the 1960s was Flower Power.
Countries with interim female Presidents as far back as 1953 include; Bolivia, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, East Germany, Liberia, Ecuador, Georgia, and Mongolia (Chairman). In America in 1953, some of the top movies were; "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", "How to Marry a Millionaire", "Calamity Jane", "The Farmer Takes a Wife", and "Peter Pan".
Many of these women were also re-elected, for example in Norway, where the female Prime Minister served from 1981-86, 1989, and 1990-96. For three years running, the United Nations has ranked Norway the number one place in the world to live (based on standard of living, life expectancy, education, democracy, public health). Norway's economy is based on oil and gas, mining, shipbuilding, fishing, paper products. Mary Kay Cosmetics overtook none of those industries.
In Pakistan, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was the first woman to head the government of an Islamic state. She served from 1988-90, and 1993-96. Before being elected, she spent almost six years in prison or under detention for her political activism. She was ousted twice in corruption scandals, which may or may not have been political witch-hunts, but hey, that's as good as the men. Too bad Muslims don't drink, I'd sure like to have a beer with her.
These countries have had acting or interim female Prime Ministers as far back as 1979; Portugal, Lithuania, France, Burundi, Canada, Rwanda, Bulgaria, Guyana, Mongolia, Finland, Peru, Macedonia, and Ukraine. In America in 1979, Bo Derek was elected the country's number one sex symbol for her role in the movie "Ten".
When people write, "Is America ready for a female president?" they need to know how insulting that is to women. These are the doubt planters. Tell 'em to go to hell. They're not asking, they're undermining. If you want to make someone feel unwell, don't say, "You look terrible", because he'll immediately bounce back with, "I feel fine!" But if you ASK, if you say, "Do you feel all right?" the doubt sets right in. "Why? Why do you ask? What's wrong?" That's what they're doing. "Is America READY for a woman president?" "Why? What's going to happen??"
Is America ready? The rest of the world probably reads that and shakes its head in bemusement, or incredulity, plain confusion, or maybe even sadness. Is America ready for sliced bread, covered wagons, indoor plumbing, math, the wheel, air travel, computers? Duh. You're so cute.
A word about the beer thing. I remember the"pundits" saying over and over again during the last presidential election, that everybody wanted to have a beer with George Bush but not John Kerry. Well, they should have had a beer with Bush, and elected John Kerry. How did this suddenly become the benchmark of electability? I don't want a president I'd want to have a beer with. I want someone so busy, brilliant and sterling that I would be terrified to have a beer with her. I want her way too busy, and way too smart and serious for me. I want her having her beers with presidents, prime ministers, scientists, philosophers, and heads of state. But guys, if you can't get past it? Then vote for the woman you'd most like to get drunk.
"True equality will only be achieved when we have mediocre women in high positions" - Unknown