It’s hard to fathom someone asking the question: Is America ready for a women president? Yet, it is being asked. Frankly, the question makes me sad, because it points to the fact that my country still doesn’t treat all humans equally.
I grew up in the world of Willa Cather, Mari Sandoz and others who chronicled the stories of the settling of the Plains and of the women who made it happen.
I grew up in a family of multi-generations of strong women, who lived their lives doing whatever needed to be done, including having careers outside the home at times when few women did.
The fact is, however, that even during the time when my great-grandmother, wife and mother of 11, was working outside the home as a nurse, she did not have the right to vote. Women could not vote nor could they hold office until far too late in our nation’s history.
Others were discriminated against as well, treated as far less than equal until decades more had passed. As a “land of the free and home of the brave,” the U.S has not had the best record.
For far too long, elected officials were all white men, many of whom were sadly lacking in leadership ability and yes, intelligence. I think of some governors and Congressmen Mississippi has had. I think of some of the men who have been elected President, and I shudder.
Then I think of Rosa Parks, a black woman, who cleaned house for white families. Treated as a second-class citizen all her life, she still had the courage and willingness to step up and be a leader in a notable cause.
I think of Barbara Jordan, U.S. Representative from Texas, who grew up in the inner city of Houston, went on to law school and was elected to state and national office. Jordan had guts and determination; she had the intelligence and leadership skill required to lead the country away from the brink of impeaching a strong, capable President back to sanity.
I think of Evelyn Gandy, a native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, who, as lieutenant governor, was the first woman to ever hold statewide elected office. Ms. Gandy always worked to inspire other women to run for public office.
I think of my friend, Raylawnie Branch, one of two black students to integrate the University of Southern Mississippi. That took courage. She went on to get nursing certification and rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Air Force before returning home for more education and a second career in teaching nursing.
And still, in 2013 the question of whether or not the country is ready for a woman president is being asked. Why would anyone even ask that?
Part of the problem, of course, is that not enough women have run for public office. Sometimes I think we’re too smart; we decide to just avoid all the costs in money, time and demands on one’s self and family.
Many smart, capable women would rather avoid a world where too many men still have a condescending, patronizing attitude toward them. That’s not hard to understand.
Some among us, however, have stepped up – the Evelyn Gandy’s, the Barbara Jordan’s, the Nancy Pelosi’s and Hilary Clintons. They’ve learned that public office is a hard knock life. They’ve also learned that our states, country and world need them.
Is America ready for a woman president? I say “get ready, America.” You may get it, ready or not.