A Teachable Moment: The First Female President (?), If Trump Changed Genders, Hillary’s Woman Problem, Women Remind Your Daughters….

Women winning the right to vote made history on August 26, 1920.  Could it be that we will finally have a female President in the United States?

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Whether you are for Hillary or against her, a win would make history.  But is she the first woman to run for President?  I’ve heard this comment in passing and she is definitely not the first woman to run for President.  Many others have come before her: Victoria Woodhull in 1872,  Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood in 1884 and 1888, Laura Clay in 1920, Margaret Chase Smith in 1964, Charlene Mitchell in 1968, Shirley Chisolm in 1972, Linda Jenness in 1972 , Patsy Takemoto Mink in 1972, Ellen McCormack in 1976 and 1980, Sonia Johnson in 1984, Patricia Schroeder in 1988, Lenora Fulani in 1988 and 1992, Elizabeth Dole in 2000, Carol Moseley Braun in 2004, Michele Bachmann in 2012 and Jill Stein in 2012.  Over the past year we have had Hillary Clinton and of course, Carly Fiorina.  Victoria Woodhull was a true pioneer, running for President nearly 50 years before the 19th amendment even allowed women to vote in presidential elections! Wow.

More than a dozen women have run, the trouble has been nabbing the nomination from one of the major political parties.  Wouldn’t it be nice if gender weren’t a factor in the upcoming election or in any election for that matter?  Unfortunately, it’s not the world we live in.  Wouldn’t it be nice though?

I’ve been a feminist since I was born, hoping to see a day where women and men would truly be on an equal footing in all aspects of life.   There was a great article in today’s NY Times — If Trump Changed Genders (click to read) — aside from being entertaining, it has got a number of great points.  Would anyone give him a second thought — everything he says and does — if he were a woman?  In the article, the Donald becomes “Donna”.  (click for article)

28bruni-master675Ben Wisemen for the NY Times

I had a great conversation over the weekend with my mother who is about to turn 70.  She went to college and graduate school and had a career.  Her mother, my grandmother, supported five children on her own (impressive). I come from a family of strong, progressive, thinking women.  We marveled at how any nationwide dialogue about having a first female president seems to be on a quiet whisper, certainly not receiving the kind of buzz that we would expect this far into the race.  To older feminists and even some my age (late 30’s, early 40’s), this is a big deal, but not necessarily to millennial women and the question is why.  Here’s a great article that takes a look at that question: Hilary’s Woman Problem .  No matter who today’s young generation of women will choose as their candidate of choice, now is a teachable moment for mothers to remind their daughters of the suffragette movement, women’s lib, the fight for Title IX (federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity receiving federal funding), the never-ending fight to break the glass ceiling in the workforce, need to get equal pay and more.  Let’s remind them!  It’s a great moment in time as we watch this election unfold as women and girls to remember where we have come from and where we are going.  Let us not forget!

With regard to the gender question, what if we did switch Trump and Clinton’s genders for a moment?  Let’s imagine Donald Trump as a woman with all he says and does, his education and his platform, and Hillary Clinton’s platform, capabilities, education, resume and demeanor as a man.  Switch the two of them and see who looks like the stronger candidate?  Or, since so many women respond when asked about how gender plays into their choice in the upcoming election (a surprising majority says it doesn’t), let’s assume both candidates are men and judge them accordingly and vote on the merit of their platform, education, experience, polish and dignity as future leader of the most powerful nation on earth.    For the record, I don’t know who I am voting for yet – I will pick the best candidate – I really haven’t decided yet and don’t let this pro-female post fool you into thinking I am definitely voting for Hillary.  I don’t agree with all of her politics, if there were another female candidate more in line with my views I would choose her.  But it sure is time that we have a woman president in the United States. If she wins, it will end a nearly 230-year streak of men leading the United States.  There have been over 70 female prime ministers and presidents in the rest of the world.  Let’s catch up, America!  I have two daughters and hope they will see a female president at some point very soon.  And at the end of the day, the race comes down to two candidates and sometimes we end up picking the lesser of two evils.  It’s rare (if ever) that we actually get the candidate that we want or would create if we could. ~Melissa Hawks

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