By Alyse Kaminski | Staff Columnist
Although we are only two months into 2019, I can already tell you what my wish for 2020 is: for a woman to win the presidential election. I hoped for the same thing in 2016. I wasn’t necessarily hoping for it to be Hillary Clinton, but I wanted the 45th president to be a woman. Early on in my childhood I remember wondering why there haven’t been any female presidents. It didn’t add up in my very young mind that there had been so many male presidents. I wondered what that said about women in America.
It is now 2019 and I am almost 20 years old and I still have not seen a woman be sworn in as the president of the U.S., but I’m not surprised. I think when I was little I had a very idealistic vision of what the world is like, but I’ve since lost that hopefulness. I lost it on election night in 2016 when a misogynistic abuser of women was awarded the highest office in the world. It screamed volumes about the value of women in America.
An election year is almost upon us, and there are a lot of women who have already announced their candidacy. I think a lot of girls out there are anticipating the 46th president to be a woman. I want that more than anything in the world, but I’ve been asking myself this question: Is America ready for a female president?
I would love to say we are, but are we really? Is it even possible today?
I’ve been doing research on statistics about the way Americans feel about women in leadership. According to The Pew Research Center, 72 percent of women, a large majority, say that they feel they need to do more to prove themselves in the political and business world. 48 percent of men agree.
These numbers are not surprising to me. I think when a woman is successful in politics or business everyone acts like it’s some sort of phenomenon. “How does she do it?” they ask. She’s proven herself to the masses; she played the game right. For men, it’s easier. They’re expected to get promotions or hold public office. We’ve essentially expected a man to be president since 1788. That’s a long-standing tradition to end, and we know Americans love tradition.
Pew also reports that only 47 percent of men see a benefit for them when women are leaders. Men fail to see that when a woman takes a responsibility, it can open doors for men, too. They don’t need to bear a burden they otherwise would have, and it could lead to other opportunities for them. If men are already the ones in decision-making positions, it doesn’t look good for women who are going after higher realms when men don’t think they will benefit.
If American men are not willing to see how a female president could make things better for them, then a woman simply will not win this election. If men fail to see the areas in which feminism can improve their quality of life, for example, advocating for paternity leave or highlighting the dangers of toxic masculinity, then a woman will not win this election. Yes, Clinton won the popular vote, but if people vote like they did in 2016, 2020 will be a repeat of history.
I think things are changing little by little. This past Midterm Election gave me hope: The most diverse congress was put in action. I am still left wondering how this presidential election will play out. I really feel like it’s possible for President Trump to win a second term. No one expected him to do it the first time around.
So, back to my original question — Is America ready for a female president? These statistics made me uneasy, in all honesty. It is going to be crucial for men to be able to see a benefit for them if a woman is president. If a female candidate happens to strike some chord with the majority of men, there may be a fair shot. As for now, I’m skeptical if America is ready.
I hope American has seen a Madam President by the time I have my life and career together. I truly believe that it would mean great things for the whole world if the right woman did it. Of course not every woman can be president, but not every man can, either. With that being said, it should not be some overwhelming phenomenon if a woman became president. We are just as qualified or capable as men are to do the job.
If the year 2036 rolls around and there has not been a female president … well, let’s just say you’ll be hearing a lot more from me.