I am a feminist. I believe in the power of women to change our world to the better. I also believe that we women have to get up every morning and, amongst all the things that we do, we simply have to be indignant and outraged whenever we hear of a woman being abused and raped, or of a child being sold to the sex trade. In fact, and not to keep repeating myself and what millions of women across the globe are saying, these vile acts cannot continue to go on without being severely punished.
How do we do that? The latest effort comes from Angelina Jolie and her efforts to globalize and articulate all our outrage. It is a laudable endeavor!
Electing more and more women, in the political realm especially, will most definitely be another step in the right direction.
But . . . wait . . . what kind of women do we need in order to really effect a cataclysmic change on all levels on our miserable war-mongering planet? Will any woman do; simply because she is female?
Before I try to answer this, I have to tell you of a personal experience that really caused me to think hard and deep about this question.
It was sometime in 1991/92 when the nation’s capital was going haywire with the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas scandal and hearings. That was indeed a burlesque show that set the stage for salacious stories of that sort regarding some of our politicians to begin emerging on the front pages of respectable newspapers and in the news briefs of some of our mainstream media outlets and not to remain tucked away in publications that print stories of UFOs whisking away earthlings and other hard-to-believe sensationalism of that kind. It also set the stage for how the nation during Bill Clinton’s tenure forgot the real dramas, issues and wars going on in the world while focusing only on semen left on a blue dress!
I was attending one of the many planning meetings for “The Dialogue Project Between American Jewish & Palestinian Women” in Washington, DC. Naturally, the topic of Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas came up. The consensus among the women gathered was that Anita was a victim and Clarence was a liar. I was the only one who said that it was too early for me to make a judgment and that taking Anita’s side simply because she was a woman would be compromising my humanity. Later on, and after all the sordid details emerged, feminists stood stalwartly behind Anita, while I still couldn’t understand why she did not simply walk out of that situation then, and why she waited until he was nominated before saying anything publicly. The flimsy excuses she gave did not make any sense to me. After all these years, they still don’t and Thomas was, and remains, a depraved human being.
It was the same repeated scenario with Monica and Bill. Women, overwhelmingly, took Monica’s side – the victim – and condemned Bill as a user, a lecher, an adulterer etc. etc. However, and just in the past few months actually, Monica, in a very well written expose in Vanity Fair magazine said that she wasn’t a victim at all, and that it was a consensual relationship in which she was not Bill’s victim.
Conclusion? If we are to be true to ourselves as human beings, we have to be, we must be, fair and just. We cannot support any woman simply because of our gender. In that same spirit, I cannot support any person or issue simply because of my sex, ethnicity, religion or any of these boxes that we crawl into in an effort to define ourselves. We – men and women – are defined by our character, our behavior, and our convictions and not by any box labeled with our pathetic definitions!
Is Cleopatra, for instance, who slaughtered her family in order to ensure her reign, a role-model for our daughters and granddaughters just because she was a beautiful and powerful woman? And, yes, I know, I know, it was during 69 to 30 BC and the yardsticks were different then. Would you, though, cite her as an example, of a Great Woman, or merely a Great Historical Figure?
Same question regarding (as examples) Catherine de Medici, Queen of France 1519-1589; Isabelle I of Castile 1451-1504; Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel 1898-1978; Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of England who resigned in 1990. Are these women, role-models for feminists, or merely powerful historical figures whose tactics and policies we may, or may not admire? This is an important question, especially now, with rumors of Hillary Clinton possibly running for this nation’s highest office.
I have spoken to many women regarding Hillary. Some support her because they are Democrats and would vote that ticket no matter what. Others have indicated that they would vote for her because she is a woman and it is time for a female president. I guess we’ll all find out in 2016. Meanwhile though, we have seen female presidents and prime ministers in other countries and, frankly, they didn’t do a better job than their male counterparts. So, are we merely looking for more women – more numbers – different gender, same policies? Or, are we looking to give the world a better quality of policy-makers and leaders? Of women who will courageously stand up to war-mongering? Women who realize that rape is one of the main results of wars? Are we looking for women who will vote their conscience and what is the moral and right thing to do, or some more self-serving opportunists? Is the choice between, for instance, a female who is beholden to and at the mercy of greedy lobbyists, or an honest male politician?
Do we want to promote feminism or radicalism?
I want to promote capable, honest, courageous women leaders and definitely not more of the sorry self-serving, war-mongering same old! We all should!