Feminism | Posted by Fiona L on 05/30/2012

Why I’m Glad We Don’t Have A Woman President

Believe it or not, observing Obama’s presidency has actually made me glad that we don’t currently have a woman in the highest political office. You’re probably gasping with shock, after reading that sentence—not only am I constantly voicing my opinion that I think we need more women in politics, I basically developed a massive girl-crush on Hillary Clinton during the 2008 election and it’s no secret that I supported her over Obama. But lately, several events have made me question—and I practically cringe even writing this—if 2008 would have been the right time for a woman to step into office.

2012 has in many ways been defined politically by various “women’s issues.” In the past few months alone, there have been contraception hearings, Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a prostitute, various GOP candidates attacked Planned Parenthood, a vaginal probe law was passed in Virginia, and debate about the Senate’s upcoming domestic violence bill began. To my relief, Obama has been nothing short of a feminist idol during these controversies, standing up on behalf of women all over the country. This brings me to why I’m glad we don’t have a woman in office. Many of the issues that will be at the forefront of this election and have characterized the latter half of Obama’s presidency concern women…yet, they haven’t (for the most part) been portrayed by the media as feminist issues.

Aside from Rush Limbaugh’s crazy you’re-a-slut-Sandra-Fluke-because-I-don’t-agree-with-you rant, the word “feminist” has rarely entered the political jargon surrounding these topics, and when it has, it has been used in a generally neutral or positive way. I attribute this partially, if not entirely, to the fact that a man has led many of the fights in the past few months for gender equality—President Obama has created a fine model for a male feminist. My fear is that, had a woman been in office these past few months, her presidency would have been characterized by the feminist causes she would have chosen to support or reject, something that I believe would have led to her presidency being remembered for her gender, solely, rather than her actions.

Furthermore, and I truly hate to say this because I wish it weren’t true, I think some of these issues might not have been taken as seriously because they would have been written off as “feminist issues”—and let’s face it, in the past few years “feminist issues” have not been given much serious attention.

Of course when we do have a woman president, there is a strong chance she too will be involved in political debate over “women’s issues.” In fact, I would hope a woman president might give more attention to such issues.
However, I think it is deeply important that in a time where the word “feminist” is often the f-word, President Obama has shown what it means to tirelessly defend all human’s rights, regardless of gender.

Whether to garner female votes in the upcoming election, or simply because he felt it was right, I think Obama can be credited with making the media take his feminist agenda seriously. And so, with much surprise and some reluctance, I have to say that I think everything may have worked out for the better in 2008, at least in this area. Don’t worry though, I’m still on the hunt for our first Madam President.

Originally posted on Barbara’s Angels

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  • Anna @ at 12:53 pm, May 30th, 2012

    And with the birther movement and the racist right-wing running rampant, Obama’s presidency may be remembered for his skin color rather than his actions.

    Feminism must be intersectional, or it will be bullshit.

  • Dannie @ at 12:32 pm, May 31st, 2012

    See, my dream is to become first female president- has been since age 5 – hopefully it will take less than 30 years to have one, but expect to see me rockin’ up the White House. :)
    Also, so much respect for both Hilary and Obama. They’re just amazing people, and everybody who can, make sure to go out and VOTE!

  • chris @ at 3:10 pm, May 31st, 2012

    I see where you’re coming from. This makes me really sad that we submit to this possibility. I think we can argue that feminism has gone backwards in recent years despite the positive gains by females in recent decades. An excellent recent documentary that illustrates that this is so is probably well known by most people at this blog, which is entitled “Miss Representation”. But I cannot accept that we aren’t ready for a female president and for her to be assertive in championing feminism (as simply defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a movement pushing for equal rights for women and men). We need a woman president soon despite the political risks stated above. A female president now would do much to empower a wounded movement in these times. Yes, she would be wounded in similar ways as Obama has, but the long-term impacts will outweigh the short-term pains.

  • Shu @ at 3:22 pm, May 31st, 2012

    You have a point here, but for the media and the public to realize that feminism is not a bad, man-hating and threatening thing and being feminist isn’t bad either, we have to call an elephant an elephant. Otherwise there will always be this irrational stigma around our movement and the word ‘feminist’ rightfully describing issues in politics etc.

  • Lanie @ at 4:08 pm, May 31st, 2012

    I also have already racked up votes from my fellow classmates, as my dream is to be the first( of hopefully many) female president. I agree that a woman will be remembered by her gender rather than her actions and the same for Obama for his skin color. And i hope Obama is reelected to improve not only womens rights, but homo and bisexual rights. He has already started by allowing gay marrige and defending womens rights. I feel in the past and present, the majority of male politicians have been sexist, mainly because we defended our rights and we proved them wrong.( atleast in my area!)

  • Ashley @ at 9:09 am, June 1st, 2012

    Fantastic article, this is a really intelligent and unbiased interpretation.

  • alex @ at 11:57 pm, June 4th, 2012

    As a feminist, the message behind this really rubs me the wrong way. There are undisputedly many problems with the way women’s voices and issues are represented by the media, and like other female politicians, a female president would be the target of these misrepresentations and misconceptions.
    However, arguing that a male president is necessary in order to ensure feminist issues are taken seriously isn’t going to make significant progress on the larger problems of inequality that hinder women in politics. It’s clear that your intentions in writing this piece were pro-feminist, but this idea just reinforces the patriarchal status quo.

  • Allyssa @ at 9:36 am, June 14th, 2012

    I completely agree unfortunately. Marginalized and oppressed groups can yell and scream all they want but until someone in power is able to convince the rest, we won’t make much progress. Until we have whites speaking about racism, heterosexuals backing up the gay rights movement and men supporting feminism and educating others, we’re all going to struggle. It’s the people with the privilege who have the power.

  • Jen @ at 5:42 pm, August 27th, 2012

    No! You don’t hope for a woman to avoid leadership because she’ll have it tougher. That means giving in! Just as Obama weathered an attack of bs accusing him of being muslim, anti-american, not born in the us, etc… a woman president will have to weather the flak for being called a feminazi or other slur. She’ll have to tough it out, which she’ll be quite capable of if she’s presidential. Don’t underestimate how tough women can be.

  • Why I’m Glad We Don’t Have a Woman President | Us, Women @ at 5:32 pm, September 23rd, 2012

    [...] http://thefbomb.org/2012/05/why-im-glad-we-dont-have-a-woman-president/ [...]

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