by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 13 April 2006)
Last week I received an email from Sean Adams, a frequent letter writer, who pointed out that although several countries around the world are voting women into high (if not the highest) governmental positions, America has yet to vote a woman into the office of President.
Mr. Adams feels this is a double standard by the United States – and quite frankly, I agree. The U.S. loves to talk about women’s issues and encourage other countries to protect women from the many atrocities the gender has suffered (and is still suffering). However, when it comes to electing a woman to lead the country, America is - to some degree - still in the Dark Ages.
While there has been significant progress made for women in the last few decades and a healthy majority of the population view women as intelligent and capable, there is still a sizeable group of Americans who believe a woman should be barefoot and pregnant. Translation: Keep the ignorant woman out of the man’s way while he makes all of the important decisions.
I grew up in this type of environment so I know all too well the means by which this group keeps its women under the masculine thumb. Most of these thinkers are religious people, hence one of my biggest issues with the church. The primary reason for the continued survival of this type of thinking stems from the fact that the dominant religions in the world still practice their archaic belief systems that practically enslave the female gender.
It seems to me that the men alone have not been doing such a good job in these leadership roles. Yet they still refuse to ask for help anymore than they will ask for directions when they are lost. But help is exactly what they need from the women. The good news is that I believe America may very well have a woman for its next president.
Mr. Adams is right that there is a double standard in this regard, but the hypocrisy is not an American issue – it is a man issue. I would venture that the same percentage of men worldwide who resist the notions of feminine leadership probably closely mirror that of American men.
Therefore, the question is how do we help these last few cavemen move beyond their archaic thinking and into the 21st century. The answer is simple – we don’t. This is not the kind of lesson that can be imposed on any culture; it is a matter of allowing them the time to evolve their belief system to catch up with the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, it seems that the men of Guyana are making huge strides in their thinking about women. Just this week a letter to the Editor from Wendell P. George said, “All the women heads of states over the years have shown they were and are quite capable of making decisions that their male counterparts would have shirked.”
It is because of this balanced thinking by men (and women) that Guyana has had a female president while America has yet to rise to this high standard. However, Guyana has a double standard too.
Guyana still has so very far to go when it comes to protecting its women. Just recently, we saw how even the wife of a police officer is not exempt from brutality from her husband. When I think about all of the women who trusted this officer to protect them, it makes me furious to think about what allegedly happened to this lady by a sworn protector of society.
What is the conclusion then? More women need to take their rightful leadership place in society and reject the notions that men are somehow superior to them. Women should not wait for people like that allegedly abusive officer to change, they should make the changes in themselves and if the guy doesn’t like it, then he is history – just like his archaic thinking.