BY LAUREN FEDEN | SKETCH BY ACE BRADLEY | COLOR EFFECTS BY BAILEY PAUL
“Can a woman be president?” That question has been discussed in every single history class I have ever been in. And every class has come to the consensus that yes, a women could be president but they agree that our society ‘isn’t ready’. I’m not convinced this is the correct answer anymore.
Before applying this to mean the President of the United States, let’s take a look at the leaders that are in our community. Think of some leader you know. What gender are they? What leadership qualities do they possess? And think, do these leadership qualities stem from their gender? The answer to the last question is probably no.
Most of my experience with strong leaders has been with strong female leaders. Out of my four years of high school nearly all of the presidents of clubs I have been a part of have been female. I have had female editors of the magazine and female key club and student council presidents. At statewide student council conferences, I have noticed the presence of female leaders holding offices. There are currently female presidents of student councils at Lincoln Southwest, Millard North, Millard South, Skutt Catholic, Westside and even here at Papillion-La Vista South.
I know that being president of a high school club is nothing like being president of the United States, but the leadership roles equate to each other on their respective levels. In the adult world of the United States, the president is top dog just like in the student council world the state president is top dog.
What does it take to be president? We all know that the President is the head of state, the head of government, has a cabinet full of secretaries and makes lots of important decisions as head of the executive branch. But a strong leader of either sex could definitely handle these responsibilities.
According to Hannah Keator, President of the Student Council at Westside High School, in order to be a strong president, one must be “personable, open-minded and have the ability to direct others.”
Some candidates in the presidential race may not possess all of these qualities. In general, I do not see a quality listed exclusive to one gender. The qualities needed to be president depend upon the individual.
So why on earth has there not been a female head of our fine country? There has to be a reason women have been excluded from the Cool Kids Club for 200 years.
“A woman has yet to become president of the United States because we haven’t completely escaped the patriarchal ideology that founded our nation,” Rachael Packard, president of National Honor Society at Papillion-La Vista South High school, said. “There are plenty of women today running other nations.”
While yes, the legislative make-up still looks a lot like the founding fathers, the founding fathers are not currently alive and perpetuating stereotypes. These issues of race and gender are only still around because there are still people who perpetuate them. 200 years ago the rich, white, educated men had the power to choose whom they wanted in their little lawmaking club. In the 21st century, we should be aware that, though we may have different bodily organs and skin colors, we all matter and are capable of representing groups of people and voting on issues in stuffy little chambers. Several other countries around the world seem to get this better than we Americans do.
Germany, Croatia and Switzerland are among the list of countries led by women today. With a strong female candidate running in each political party, the United States could soon join the list. Both Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton are big names in their respective parties.
Even though we have strong female candidates, this does not mean that our society is treating men and women equally. Donald Trump was able to make horribly sexist comments about Carly Fiorina with little repercussions. Trump actually said, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!” Let me make this clear – those words really came out of his mouth. Trump got away with his comments by later claiming he was describing Fiorina’s “persona”.
Fiorina took the comments in stride and turned them into a series of power statements for her campaign. She responded with, “Ladies, look at this face, and look at all of your faces – the face of leadership.” And also with,“This is the face of a 61 year old woman, I am proud of every year and every wrinkle.”
Comments like these are proof of how it may take more work for women candidates to get the public to take them seriously. They must overcome individual prejudices and two centuries of tradition for the victory. These issues are displayed in the biased media that has had little practice reporting upon female candidates.
Some media outlets have described female candidates’ outfit choices while failing to mention the color of the male candidate’s suits. These small and seemingly insignificant differences in the way men and women are treated can impact how the United States views that candidate. Voters may have a hard time thinking seriously about candidates with fashion run-downs included in the articles about their speeches.
“In order for a woman to get voted into office, I think it starts with each and every one of us. We have to treat men and women with equality all around,” said Alexa Narke, President of Student Council at Skutt Catholic High School.
Is our society ready for a woman president? That is up to you.