Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Woman president-no thanks.

Like many, the result of the US presidential election was surprising for me. It was not shocking as the contest was very tight, but the result definitely surprised me. Politically, I consider myself an independent; I don't subscribe to any political ideology as I find some good, bad, and terrible points from both sides of the political spectrum. I support some of Mr. Trump's policies, that "locker room talk" was too much for me to take.  He literally sounded like a sexual predator in that video, it was horrifying to watch a presidential nominee talking like that not very long ago. Whether it was locker room talk or not, it displayed a demeaning attitude towards women for sure. Now, I know the difference between the dirty talk and sexual assault. The released conversation was not just a dirty talk; he can do as much dirty talk as he wants, but this sounded like a confession of a sexual assault, and there is a huge difference between these two things. 

The two choices presented by both parties were not perfect, Hillary's CV was much stronger for that job, but just having a strong CV doesn't guarantee you any job, the interview panel should like you and then only the job is guaranteed. Hillary failed to impress the interview panel. There can be several reasons for election defeat, but this election was special and the question is, how much her gender played a role in her defeat? According to some polls and opinions, Americans don't mind having a woman president, but so far this amazing country where women are so talented, qualified, and hard-working, couldn't find a single qualified woman fit for that job. The dearth of such talented women is so bad that this was for the first time some woman made through primaries to get a major political party's nomination. It took more than 200 years to find a black person to lead the country, and no one knows how many years it might take to find a qualified woman to lead this country. 

So, why I think that Hillary's gender played a role in this election? Was she judged with stricter standards just because she was a woman? To understand this, I want readers to imagine a hypothetical scenario, just switch the background or gender of candidates: imagine Hillary as a successful business person with undisclosed tax returns and extremely lavish and flamboyant lifestyle. Imagine release of her "locker room talk" video, where she is bragging about her attempts to sexually harass some man and how she loves kissing young men, grabbing their crotch and she can do whatever she wants because she is rich, powerful, and famous. Do you think she would have had any chance to win an election or even get a nomination? If your answer is "no chance," then you know what I mean when I say that her gender played a major role in her defeat. Yes, emails mattered, FBI directors sudden statement mattered, her image mattered, Bill Clinton mattered, her time in government mattered, but her gender played a BIG role. This is what disappointed me, I was not sad that a Democrat lost or a Republican won, I hardly care about their party affiliation. I was not sad that Hillary lost, as I am not her fan, I was sad that ultimately once again gender bias won.

To explain why this loss was more bothersome, let me give an example of India's parliament election of 2014, there also Mr. Modi, with a questionable attitude towards his own wife won the election with an impressive majority, but his victory was not unexpected as his opponents were really weak. He at least looked like the most competent person among all who were competing for that job. His total disregard towards his wife was not even an issue, no one bothered to think that if a prime minister can treat his wife like this, then what about other citizens? He didn't even bother to give her divorce, just ignored her as if she didn't exist. It showed society's total disregard of women's rights, but I hardly expected that Indian voters will even think about this issue, and as expected they didn't. So, it was not an unexpected result, but I didn't expect something similar to happen here in the USA. I know that resentment against immigrants or minorities is a very strong feeling and I wrote a post regarding this issue just a few days before the election. In that post I mentioned that use of this emotion can result in huge political dividends, it happened in India so there was no reason why it couldn't happen here in the US. I would not have been surprised if Hillary would have lost the election to any other Republican candidate (even a celebrity candidate) on anti-immigration rhetoric, but Mr. Trump's victory even after the release of that video is surprising to me and it puts a question mark in my mind about society's attitude towards women, and I hope I am wrong about this.

Women played a significant role in Mr. Trump's victory. It seems the majority white women voted for him. Obviously, the race was not a factor as both candidates were from the same race. So, most probably, gender might have been the determining factor. The effect of patriarchy is so strong that even women think that men are most suitable for any leadership position. This thinking is inculcated since childhood and each tradition or custom is designed to validate this thinking. It becomes so embedded in our minds that we don't even realize that most of us become proponents of patriarchy. The glass ceiling about which many women leaders talk is not just created by men or patriarchy, but women are equal contributors to make sure that ceiling remains intact. Such incidents have happened many times before and may happen in future also. But that doesn't mean women should stop trying. It is true that it's not easy to break that glass ceiling, but definitely, efforts of all these years made it crack a little, and now it is up to others to break it. It is not going to be easy, but it is possible.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing.]