25 July 2007

Anything You Can Do

Tuesday night while watching the CNN / You Tube debate, we got to see something unusual: A whole slew of men in their perfectly proper business suits on either side of one lady who looked as if she could star in "Pretty In Pink". Now there is a whole lot of buzz about the possibility of the first female president or the first black president or the even more astounding idea of a woman and a black man on the same ticket ... why this is groundbreaking, unique, unheard of ... at least not since 1872 when Victoria Woodhull ran with Frederick Douglas: An advocate of voting rights for women and a former slave. Hillary is only the 26th woman to run for the Presidency

What was more obvious is that in the last 218 years, every single one of the 42 people elected to the Presidency was a white male. Without declaring that I am "hot for Hill", or that "I Got a Crush on Obama", or even if I have made a choice among the remaining messrs Biden, Edwards, or Richardson, I do know that we still live in a very patriarchal society.

The United States is supposed to be the nation that promises equality and opportunity to all yet we still consider the elevation of women to high political office somehow an outre idea .. Is she feminine enough? Is she too feminine? What happens with hotline in the middle of a hot flash? Just to put everyone's mind to rest as to whether or not a woman can handle the job, here are just a few in the last two thousand years who have managed to perform.

Amalasuntha - 526 AD

Today's teenagers love to hear there really was a Queen of the Goths. Amalasuntha was Regent Queen of the Ostrogoths; her murder became the rationale for Justinian's invasion of Italy and defeat of the Goths.

Empress Suiko - 554 to 628 33rd Emporer of Japan

Although the legendary rulers of Japan, before written history, were said to be empresses, Suiko is the first empress in recorded history to rule Japan. During her reign, Buddhism was officially promoted, Chinese and Korean influence increased, and, according to tradition, a 17-article constitution was adopted.

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Eleanor ruled Aquitaine in her own right, and occasionally served as regent for her husbands (first the King of France then the King of England) or sons (kings of England) were out of the country. Eleanor lived into her 80s and has been the subject of several books, plays, and movies.

Isabella, Queen of Castile and Aragon (Spain)

Isabella was queen of Castile in her own right and then Castile and Aragon jointly with her husband, Ferdinand of Aragon. She's famous for supporting Columbus' voyage; she's also credited for her part in expelling the Muslims from Spain, expelling the Jews, instituting the Inquisition in Spain, insisting that the Native Americans be treated as persons, and her patronage of arts and education.

Elizabeth I of England

England has always been well served by her Queens and Queen Elizabeth I of England is one of the most fascinating women of history. Elizabeth I was able to rule when her long-before predecessor, Matilda, had not been able to secure the throne. Was it her personality? Was it that the times had changed, following such personalities as Queen Isabella? “I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too.”

Catherine the Great

During her reign, Catherine modernized and westernized Russia, promoted education, and expanded Russia's borders.

Queen Victoria

Alexandrina Victoria - The longest reigning monarch in British history she was the only child of the fourth son of King George III, and when her uncle William IV died childless in 1837, she became Queen of Great Britain.

Tz'u-hsi (Reign 1861 - 1905)

The last Dowager Empress of China: however you spell her name, she was one of the most powerful women in the world in her own time -- or, perhaps, in all of history.
Empress Cixi. Pearl S. Buck wrote a wonderful historical novel Imperial Woman

That takes care of a few of the hereditary rulers however they came to power, but in addition, almost every other country in the world has had a woman elected as the head of government. Their performance has ranged from bad to wonderful. If for a second you think a woman can't do the job as well as a man, just remember Warren G. Harding who gambled away the White House China.

To Name A Few and a whole lot more on this link.

Indira Gandhi, India, Prime Minister
Golda Meir, Israel, Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher, Great Britain, Prime Minister
Maria da Lourdes Pintasilgo, Portugal, Prime Minister
Lidia Gueiler Tejada, Bolivia, Prime Minister
Vigdís Finnbogadóttír, Iceland, President
Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norway, Prime Minister .
Milka Planinc, Yugoslavia, Prime Minister
Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan, Prime Minister
Kazimiera Danuta Prunskiena, Lithuania, Prime Minister
Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, Nicaragua, Prime Minister
Mary McAleese, Ireland, President
Pamela Gordon, Bermuda, Premier
Jenny Shipley, New Zealand, Prime Minister
Ruth Dreifuss, Switzerland, President
Helen Clark, New Zealand, Prime Minister
Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Latvia, President
Tarja Kaarina Halonen, Finland, President

And just for fun: Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better


Anonymous said...

ah... here it finally is after a 2 day tease.....

and as usual.... a great post.....

yeah..... isn't it ironic..... the great and powerful and oh so modern USA.... so behind the times...

I am starting to warm up to Hillary....

Schmoop said...

I think Hillary is one smart person. You did however,leave out another great leader of the female persuasion...T'Pau, the most respected elder of the Vulcans!!

Durward Discussion said...

Hey Matt,

I also left off Hermione Granger. Couldn't squeeze in everyone.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for this post, Jamie... see I am lurking in the background. Are there any other 'relatives' who have successfully held the office of president? I can think of J & JQ Adams, and the infamous Bush team. I can't help but wonder if Hill would outshine Bill... oh my that would surely be something (giggle)

Durward Discussion said...

The Roosevelts, The Harrisons, Pierce related to the Bush family and that's just off the top of my head. If you include high offices such as VP, Senator, and supreme court, the "Ruling Families" really stand out.

Mo and The Purries said...

Although she's outside of your timeline, Hatshepsut, Egyptian Pharaoh, would be my vote to add on to your outstanding list.

I knew that was the incomparable Bernadette Peters singing in the video, but had no idea it was Tom Wopat, until the end credits.
Thanks for sharing that - made me smile.

In an aside, when I worked backstage on a production of Annie Get Your Gun, this song was cut to less than half its length because the male lead could NOT sing well.
Clearly, our Annie was better than him!

As for the presidential race, I'm not thrilled with any of the front-running candidates either. While I 100% think it's time for a woman President, I just don't know if Hillary is that woman. I'd sooner vote for Nancy Pelosi.
Hell, I'd rather vote for Oprah.

Travis Cody said...

That's a very clever video.

As for a woman as President, I can't possibly imagine that a woman could do any worse than many of the male Presidents we have elected. Conversely, there is no reason a woman couldn't do just as well as our better male leaders.

This whole "Are we ready for..." question just gives people one more feeble excuse not to do their proper diligence, research the issues, and responsibly pick a candidate.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I thought the contrast of her dress/ appearence was a good thing for her. The larger point being that women can be and have been good leaders is another good point.