Y’ever go on social media to make what feels like an obvious joke — and get a reaction you were totally unprepared for?
Yeah, me neither. [/sarcasm]
The first response I got was of the “hey hold on a sec! I vote for competence not gender #NothingPersonalAgainstWomen” variety. It was not the only pushback I got that day, either, as I posted more thoughts about what it would mean to have a woman as US president. Suggesting that ‘electing the first woman will be a radical act’ itself seemed perhaps too radical an act on my part, for some.
In retrospect, sure — I probably should have expected this. Even though this was on my private Facebook page, which meant I was only conversing with personal friends. Progressive men whose politics on issues of racial justice, LGBTQ equality, etc., I know and respect. Men who (I have every reason to believe) respect me personally.
Just not so much the person they conjure up in their heads when the only given criteria are “woman” and “politician.”
I’m sure some of you can already see where this is heading. . .
Yes, I want a woman to be president.
And then another and another and another — until it is no longer a matter of great note if a candidate is a man or a woman. I want more women in politics, period. I want women politicians whose politics are radical, progressive, liberal — and also moderate Republican, conservative, Tea Party.
You name it, I want it.
I want to be able to object to Sarah Palin because the policies she espouses are sh!te and not worry about all the sexist backchatter about how some magazine put her in short-shorts on their cover. I want to be able to oppose Michele Bachmann because she’s ill-informed without having to distance myself from people who joke about how “her husband’s a closeted gay doncha know har har.” I want to be able to say, “it’s about goddamn time we elect a woman,” without having to justify it by arguing the finer points of that other woman leader that other country elected that one time and don’t I agree she was awful.
I want to be able to have serious reservations about Hillary Clinton as a candidate without worrying if I’ll have to wait a full generation before another truly viable female Democratic contender comes along.
I want to be able to be thrilled that Elizabeth Warren is kicking ass in the Senate — doing exactly the job she ran to do — without watching people and the media attempt to coerce her into primary’ing as if Warren personally owes it to the country or the party to push Clinton to the left and only another woman can do the job.
Given two equally promising candidates, I am more likely to vote for the woman — because she is qualified AND because I see value in having diverse lawmakers, with diverse life experiences.
AND because going through both life and her career as a woman necessarily endows a politician with different experiences than those of a cis man. (Which is not to say: necessarily better. Or feminist. Or Woman™ in any fictitiously universal way. DIFFERENT.)
AND I make this case for women in politics affirmatively because our culture tends to see women as less qualified, less able, less honest, less everything.
This is not just because I am a woman myself, either. I also want more politicians who are: black, brown, and other POC; genderqueer, trans*, and intersex; lesbian, gay, bi, queer, and asexual; children of undocumented immigrants or undocumented themselves; raised in single parent-homes; from backgrounds that include experiences of poverty, homelessness, and welfare; any and all intersections of the above categories; and MORE.
I want more of all of them.
Because diversity matters. Because politicians decide for all of us, and so should reflect all of us.
I WANT MORE.
Maybe even a first-First Husband who also has great fashion sense.