Ready for a woman? Not this year
By Jean Godden
Back in December, I wrote a column asking if we were finally ready to elect a woman. There seemed a good chance. If the Democrats picked a woman candidate, then she would have another shot (post Hillary Clinton) at becoming president of the United States, a female chief of state for the first time in 232 years.
We now have an answer to my "are we ready?" question. The answer, sad for many, is no, not this year, not after 45 guys made the history books. That reality became clear when Elizabeth Warren, the last woman prospect standing, suspended her campaign.
Warren's defeat brought an outpouring of emotion. In Seattle, I saw grieving and outright anger. To some, it was almost as wounding as Clinton's electoral college loss in 2016.
What remains after dashed hopes is the search for a reason. Once there were six serious women contenders on the Democratic debate stage: four senators, a congresswoman and a self-help guru. Why could none make the semi-finals? Instead we find ourselves with two white males (one 77, the other 78) competing for the opportunity to take on another 70-something white male.
Why does our nation have such an unbreakable glass ceiling? What is the reason women in this country have faced a barrier that has not stopped women in other countries? Last checked, 59 nations have either elected or appointed a woman to lead.
Opinion writers have explored the absence of women finalists. Some pundits blame the women candidates themselves. How often have women applicants at all levels heard the response: "You're smart, qualified and talented, but you're just not right for the job."
Others pinpoint the candidates' strategies and missteps. There are several who have blamed the candidates' campaigns, saying their tactics erred, that they targeted the wrong audiences.
The pundits -- a large number are male -- have various explanations, but most avoid using words like misogyny or sexism. The word misogyny is defined as hatred, contempt or prejudice against women and girls, passed to us from Greeks like Aristotle who believed women to be "inferior beings." Misogyny is the law enforcement branch of the patriarchy.
You can hear the slights, listen to the double standards. Elizabeth was accused of being "shrill, strident and condescending." Her voice was derided as "screechy." But, when asked about sexism, Warren said that, even to raise the issue, was to be "a whiner."
For many of her supporters, Warren's loss hurt. She had succeeded in lodging herself in female psyches. She was the woman who clashed with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and earned the accolade: "Nevertheless she persisted." She had been the candidate who took down Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who tried to buy an election. Hers was perhaps the defining moment of the Democratic debates.
In her classy departure Warren left some broken hearts. She said, "I used to hate goodbyes whenever I taught a last class or when we moved to a new city. Those final goodbyes used to wrench my heart." But she also talked about her thoughts of "good friends and good ideas that touched into my heart and were brought forward with me."
Warren pointed out that she's still a senator and means to continue her work. What she leaves behind besides her own determination are the hundreds of young girls she met on selfie lines. She linked little fingers and had each one swear a pinky oath that "running for office is what girls do." We can count on Warren and on those pinky friends who are now and forever part of the resistance.