It only took 231 years

Yesterday was certainly a momentous day for America—and American women, in particular. After only 231 years of American democracy, our nation has finally found a woman qualified to rise to the level of power in this country to be sitting only two hearts and their beats away from its Presidency.

(photo credit yahoo/AP)

For many of us who cut our political teeth on the Women’s Movement, it was indeed an exciting, exhilirating and most hopeful occasion. After all, women were never encouraged, trained or expected to seek or achieve levels of power and influence in our corporate boardrooms or state houses. But for many of us, looking at who has been in charge-whether running corporate America or political America, we can only ask: How did we let these greedy incompetents have such power and control for so long and do so much damage to our families, our communities and our nation?
Granted, we have had many great men running our country who were not incompetent or corrupt. Great, compassionate and visionary leaders like Lincoln and FDR, for example, led with distinction and honor, but there have been many periods in our history when the country was shrouded in corruption and disgrace: The Teapot Dome Scandal and Watergate come immediately to mind and the foolish militarism of the past two hundred years also scars our historic landscape.
I can’t help but wonder what our nation would look like if women had had the opportunity to lead and done so in the years past. How would our nation look today? Of course, we’re now 231 years into our grand experiment and the more realistic question is: Will the media and the American people give qualified women the same opportunity to lead as they gave such slack and indulgence to the men who have had the reigns of control for so much of our country’s history? Or is it too tempting to attack and focus on minor issues like hairdos, footware, wardrobe and personal traits so as to demean and marginalize the importance of these women and their work?
It is somewhat stunning that a recent respected poll, found that only 84% of the American people are prepared to vote for a woman to be President. Some actually are surprised that the number is that high……For me and other women who grew up with the belief that we’re just as good and can do just as well if not better in the role as leaders of our communities, states and nation, the only question is why 16% of the people won’t vote for a woman, regardless of her abilities. After all, if you look at who and what has held the controls over the past 6 years, I can’t think of many women who could do any worse. But that, too, demeans the women like Nancy Pelosi who have worked so effectively and tirelessly in the course of her lifetime–as wife, mother, community leader, Congresswoman and now Speaker of the House of Representatives. I say well done, Speaker Pelosi and now that you’ve opened that hallowed door, I expect to see many more qualified, competent women taking charge for the betterment of our nation and future generations.
Women have far too long set the table and served the meal. It is long over-due for us to sit down at the meal and partake of the fruits of our labor. As Bette Midler observed in her memorable performance in the movie, “The Rose”, “What are we ladies? We are waitresses at the banquet of life!”
No more. We offer a different life experience to the discussion—as life-giver, child-rearer, caretaker and mediator among many other life experiences that give us a different perspective and wisdom. It is long overdue that we are embraced and supported by each other and by our male counterparts. I believe Nancy Pelosi will bring that perpective to the halls of government and we will be proud of her effort. Of course, as Germaine Greer noted many years ago, we will know we have reached a level of equality and parity when a woman doesn’t have to be twice as good to get half as far. We’ve earned the right to lead and been handed the gavel. Now let’s keep the momentum going.