Madame President, if I may have the floor?

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]

This week’s joke had to do with my ongoing irritation at how women in politics (and, um, everywhere else) often get judged on sartorial aesthetics rather than competency.

FB screenshot 2015-04-07

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. . .


Here goes:

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.

Can we please listen to what a woman says for herself?
Warren has literally said, “No means no” — why is that so hard to hear? (image via)

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.

from the New Yorker via Sociological Images
from the New Yorker via Sociological Images

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.


Maybe even a first-First Husband who also has great fashion sense.

6 thoughts on “Madame President, if I may have the floor?

  1. Yes! Alice. A resounding yes. (I’m originally from the Philippines, which isn’t the most socially progressive place when it comes to women. We’ve had a couple of female presidents already. America, it shouldn’t be taking us this long!)


    1. No, it really REALLY shouldn’t! And I suspect we will have to wait until the 2nd or 3rd (or later, most likely) female president before we are able to elect one that can effectively push a deeply progressive agenda, given how much sexist blowback will inevitably arise. (Thinking of all the racist opposition Obama has encountered.)


  2. I saw this happening and rolled my eyes SO HARD. The VERY FIRST COMMENT! You’re so much more patient than I am. 🙂

    Also, I got the joke, which had more to do with unequal beauty standards than the gender of the presidency. So who’s the humorless one, here?


    1. Haha! It wasn’t so much patience, actually. The person who made that comment is someone with whom I’ve recently reconnected and we’ve had a number of private conversations — enough that he’s earned some goodwill with me, and I’ve seen him respond very respectfully to other pushbacks. So, there’s that angle.

      The other angle? I am actively working to find a third path that works for me — somewhere between totally walking away from conversations (not talking trolls here, obviously) and falling back on that early training of “if a man doesn’t see my POV, then it is my responsibility — always, and always respectfully — to coax, explain, document out the wazoo, and ultimately accept his judgment, even if I have to bite my tongue off in the process.”

      I know you see the problems here from about a gazillion miles away — so do I. That early training though… Especially when it always came with both carrot and stick, it’s a bitch to undo.


  3. And, why should you even have to state that you ‘want more’ of any such diversity…why should any statement such as this or a bazillion others that don’t feature conservative white men have to be questioned, or rebuked, or hated, or argued are taken too seriously, or blah-de-blah-de-blah…

    Why indeed?

    And…I will make this perfectly clear, not for you Alice, but just because it is necessary in the society of which I insinuate exists…this is a rhetorical comment with no need to be answered. I am perfectly clear as to the answer already 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Okay, so I won’t answer your question — I’ll just respond with an equally rhetorical gesture of my own. Consider it a reflection of my feelings about embodying gender norms…

      Liked by 1 person

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