In her world filled with unicorns, ponies and flying Pegasus a 5 year old girl looked up to ask, “A woman running for President?” Had my daughter lived in Pakistan, India, Israel, Germany of Great Britain, her incredulity would have been tempered by the women who served (and serve) those countries as heads of state. But she lives here, in America, where it has yet to be declared “all people are created equal.”
Male supremacy is a narrative across time and space—and the current presidential election has brought this to our attention because of the candidates: the first woman to run for President and a man who embodies male privilege and power—who wields that power against women and men but is learning that there are women, and in particular his tenacious opponent, that will not play by the “rules” of the dominant male culture. Perhaps he will also learn that many men are turned off by that narrative.
Why though, we could ask, is American culture so vulnerable to male supremacy? Hillary Clinton addressed this issue—an issue that needs to be addressed in locker rooms, board rooms, living rooms and bedrooms across our country. And it is, as Ms. Clinton suggests an issue that is promoted, incessantly, by media. It can be argued that Americans are obsessed with media and media is obsessed with looks.
Here is Ms. Clinton’s answer to 15 year-old Brenna Leach’s question on how, as President of the United States, she would help girls understand that they are so much more than just what they look like?
“I am passionate about this too because we know that young women begin to get influenced at earlier and earlier ages by messages from the media. Forget your mind, your heart; care only about what you look like because that’s all we care about. And we have to stand up against that—women and men, mothers and fathers, teachers, everybody.”
The male supremacy narrative is so embedded in our culture that someone like Mr. Trump can be undeniably dense as to the offensive nature of his remarks, remarks aimed at exonerating him from the language about and actions toward women. Perhaps he was groping for an articulate way to defend himself—but he perpetuated just what he was trying to recuse himself of: “Yeah, I’m going to go after you,” he joked to an audience about one of the women accusing him of sexual assault. “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.” Mr. Trump and the male supremacy narrative met their match. Ms. Clinton would not be his first choice either. She also pointed out to him that his words betrayed his defense.
In the eyes of a 5 year old girl watching the debate there was a man being mean and a woman being “thoughtful.” My daughter may not have fairly assessed the vitriol from both sides but amidst unicorns, ponies and Pegasus there emerged for her an image of a “thoughtful” (her word) woman candidate for President. Ms. Clinton is a new precedent for girls, women, boys and men to reconsider what it means to be see all human beings as equals.