Opinion: Argument for the first female president

Elizabeth White, Editor

This summer I spent a lot of my time going door to door canvassing for a presidential campaign – specifically for a female candidate. It was a hard job. I had a lot of doors slammed in my face and heard a lot of painful stories, everything from medical bills piling up from an incurable disease, to the younger generations who are worried about the holes in our ozone layer causing our climate to change, thus changing the future of all the generations to come. But one of the hardest parts about going door to door this summer was hearing people say, “I like her a lot, but I just don’t think this country is ready for a female president.”
A lot of people believed that the 2016 presidential election was proof that we as a country will always refuse to elect a female president, because so many people in our country still don’t feel comfortable with it.
This, to an extent, is a fair statement. There are many people who question the ability of a female leader, or even question if the U.S. will be taken seriously if we are to have a female president. To that I would respond: If we were taken seriously before, after electing Donald Trump, I don’t see how having a female president could damage our reputation any further.
Additionally, there are currently many female leaders of various countries and many are progressing towards a better future. According to a Pew Research study done in 2017, 38% of the world’s nations are governed by women. The study notes one woman in particular, Aung San Suu Kyi, the de-facto leader of Myanmar. Because her immediate family are foreigners, she could not legally hold the title of Myanmar’s president, so she now holds the “newly created position” as “state counsellor” performing the same duties. Aung San Suu Kyi has been an incredible leader, and is a member of the National League for Democracy. Suu Kyi’s father was once the de-facto prime minister, and was assassinated when she was a toddler. She later gained an education at Oxford, and after establishing herself, came home to protest against a tyrant dictator, U Ne Win, who was at the time killing human rights protestors. The military put Suu Kyi on house arrest for protesting in 1989, and agreed to release her if she left the country. She refused, and was put on house arrest for 15 years under a 21-year period.
In 1991 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her “non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.”
After being released due to outside pressures from the United Nations and the United States, Suu Kyi ran for office in 2012. Since obtaining office, she has worked to improve Myanmar’s infrastructure dramatically. Not long ago, genocide was running rampant, and although there are still some remnants of hatred and bias in the country, Myanmar appears to be a very safe place now. And according to the World Bank, Myanmar’s economy grew nearly 7% from 2017-2018. This is just one example of many countries who have been dramatically changed by female leadership.
If a third world country has the audacity to elect a strong, female leader, then why is the United States still standing around twiddling its thumbs? One might say that a true egalitarian point of view wouldn’t demand that sex matters at all. But in cases of power, it does.
When men accused of sexual assault, like Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, have the power to determine what I can and cannot do with my body, that’s when it matters. Women have been absent from many rooms full of people making decisions for a very long time. This is why we still have a wage gap, deal with rape and sexual assault, whether it be our workplaces or our own homes, violence against women, failure to achieve universal childcare and parental leave, and underrepresentation in a multitude of fields. Many people also believe that if the world were run by women, there would be no more war, because realistically, most women in power would be much more likely than men to talk and compromise than to threaten each other with nuclear war.
Saying that you aren’t going to vote for candidates like Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris just because they are women and cannot compete against Trump only gives the patriarch that we’ve lived under for so long that much more power. It’s giving up on a fight that we’ve been fighting since the 1800s when women were thrown into jail or had their children taken away just for demanding the right to vote. Voting for a woman is the least you can do, and having the confidence to tell people, “I , as a woman, deserve to be represented by people in all positions of power,” is what we should be saying instead.
Elizabeth White is a Sierra Nevada College senior.