The current race for the presidential nomination in the Democratic party pits two individual who are “firsts.” Obama is the first African-American to run for president, and Hillary Clinton is the first woman to run for president. But, it appears that sexism has certainly reared its ugly head.
In Salem, New Hampshire, as Hillary Clinton was about to deliver a statement, a man stood up and yelled “Iron My Shirt.” As he stood, he held a sign with the same wording, and repeated his command over and over. He and another man were removed from the room so that Clinton could continue her presentation.
It seems some males just can’t quite get over the fact that women are just as capable as men when it comes to qualities that are needed in a strong leader. After all, the only presidential yardstick that we, as Americans, have had over the 200+ years of our existence as a country is a male yardstick.
From the doctrine of “coverture” in marriages – where the woman’s person was subsumed in the man’s persona – to the notion that women could be punished and whipped to keep them in line – a notion that was sanctioned by state courts – women have been relegated to an unequal status.
Although the 26th Amendment, ratified on July 1, 1971, lowered the voting age to 18, the last group to obtain the right to vote was women. Through the years, women have been excluded from juries, from corporate offices, from equal pay opportunities, and from professions based on the idea that women were weak and incapable of assuming responsibilty and leadership roles – their place was to tend home and hearth.
While I have over the past few months donated a small amount to the John Edwards’ campaign, I have a certain amount of sympathy for Hillary Clinton. If she gets tired and shows emotion, watchers call her weak. If she shows little or no emotion, watchers call her cold. If she is strong and aggressive, watchers call her a b…. As the first woman to run for president, she is in an enviable yet unenviable position.
But no matter what position she finds herself in, she is the first of our gender to step forward and take the slings and arrows that go with a presidential campaign. She is the first, but if she does not win the nomination or presidency, I am certain she will not be the last.