I wrote a post the other day when Michele Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll that caused quite a stir. Although alot of people agreed with me in concept, I also received vile, vitriolic responses laden with violence, character assassination, and frankly, the worst responses that human beings can conjure up. It was quite a display of the dark side of the human character.
Before we go any further to those of you who haven't read much of my stuff before, please note carefully and absorb what I am about to say-----THIS IS NOT A PIECE ABOUT MICHELE BACHMANN. THIS IS NOT A PIECE SUPPORTING MICHELE BACHMANN. OK? For those of you who viscerally HATE Michele Bachmann, I want to make that perfectly clear. For those of you who strongly disagree with Michele Bachmann, please note one more time---THIS PIECE IS NOT A PIECE IN SUPPORT OF MICHELE BACHMANN. OK everyone? I say this a couple of times because if you're one of those who hate or just don't like Bachmann, I'd still like you to be part of this conversation and not close your mind just yet.
My real point today is I keep asking myself why it is that we demand a level of perfection from our female candidates that we don't demand from the male candidates? We do, IMHO, elect flawed men to office all of the time. We may not like what these men stand for, but there is a level of acceptance about these men that somehow we are able to live with them in office, leading companies, etc. that we don't afford to women. For many, women just have to be, well, perfect in every way or they're not worth anything. I want to take issue with that whole idea today.
First of all, to demand perfection from women is a veiled prejudice. It is sexist. Why you ask? Because if a woman isn't perfect enough then it is too easy for all of us to assume that this poor imperfect specimen of female humanity must really just be a stupid woman. Or worse-----crazy or a slut, whatever. We all know the drill on that score. If the woman isn't perfect, we fall back into one of the most pernicious sexist slurs of all and that is-------any woman, not just THAT woman. That slur is awful because it masks every single stereotype with a false overlay of pseudo broad mindedness. The slur implies that the person saying it would actually vote for a woman, when chances are they wouldn't actually. And we blithely accept such a characterization---any woman just not THAT woman----with some unease inside. That unease is there because we know somehow that the slur is in there, we just can't find it efficiently.
A woman candidate not being "perfect" enough should set off alarm bells for another reason. This reason could have easily been listed in my "Trouble in the Sisterhood" piece. Since women share such a small piece of what I like to call the "power pie" we have to compete with each other unnaturally for what little crumbs we get. That has been true for probably hundreds if not thousands of years. As a result we have become accustomed to learning and tacitly accepting that for a woman to get one of those crumbs on merit she has to be better than the others. She has to be perfect. SO---we women demand that perfection of ourselves, an extremely unhealthy way to live your life. And as a result, we project onto our female candidates this unhealthy and impossible drive for perfection, and when these women don't measure up to this perfection, which they invariably won't, we turn on them. As I said above, we don't make those same presumptions about men. We need to stop making them of the women as well.
The demand for perfection from women needs to become a cultural artifact. It is a drive that destroys lives. It causes endless depression. We humans, as my wonderful husband always reminds me, were not made to be perfect. We are ALL flawed. The most we can demand of ourselves is to keep striving to make ourselves better, to make our strengths stronger and to turn our weaknesses into strengths. That's it. Somehow we accept that better in men. In women, not so much. If the gal isn't already perfect, she's not good enough to assume leadership in any way. And we think we sound tolerant by saying "any woman, not just THAT woman." We don't. We sound sexist.
rank 70th in the world in female representation government. Women only hold 24% of legislative seats, 12% of governorships, 2.7% of CEO positions at Fortune 1000 companies, 20% of senior management positions, and 38% of companies have NO women in senior management positions. We still make 75% of what men make for equal work. You call that progress? I suppose you could if you look at the time when women's percentages were zero. But women's progress has stalled-------we've gotten close to those glass ceilings, but we can't seem to break them. And if we continue to demand perfection from our women candidates, we will never break them.
We just need more women to be elected------everywhere. Even where we don't like what they stand for. One of our commenters, freemenow, made the best analysis when commenting on our Bachmann piece. She said that in the Iowa straw poll, a prolife social conservative was going to win no matter what. And of you're someone who doesn't like prolife social conservatives, fine. But why not a woman? Even in what you don't agree with?
If you examine your soul deeply, you might find the truth, and that is that when it comes to positions you don't agree with and vehemently disapprove of, it is more threatening when a woman holds those positions than a man. It is more threatening because it shows women aren't perfect enough and it makes us all look bad. It's a sorry piece of logic. And it is sexist. Women we disagree with aren't any worse than the men we disagree with. And the sooner we can absorb that idea, the better off we'll be. And that is why I support the notion that we need to just get lots and lots and lots of women elected. We just need to get used to seeing women in power. Once we becoming accustomed to it, our deep fears of women leadership will go away. We fear that which we don't know.
So there, you've gotten to the end of my piece, and I kept my promise. This was not an article about Michele Bachmann! Please comment with YOUR ideas and thoughts--------