Donald Trump’s warning that Hillary Clinton supporters should not play the “woman card” in this election has been generating a slow burn in my psyche. The real problem is that the “man card” has been played for so many centuries — in businesses, homes, schools, religious institutions and governing bodies — that when we consider a candidate for our highest office, even many women are incapable of judging a female candidate’s qualities without comparing her to all the male-only candidates in America’s 240-year history.
We fail to consider the damage that has been done to the character of our republic by the absence of gender equity in our governance. The “divine right” of monarchs to govern long ago was dismissed and discredited. But the divine right of men alone to govern many religious institutions throughout the world still affects billions of people, even many in our own country. We accept this in our country as a matter of religious freedom, but do we dare analyze the psychological effect this has on voters’ subconscious feeling that there is something that is just not right about electing a woman as president?
Instead of facing these prejudices, we make up all sorts of bogus reasons why it’s just this particular candidate that we are not comfortable with:
She’s too establishment. What could be more establishment than electing another male president? Isn’t 44 in a row glaring enough evidence of gender inequity in our society?
You can’t trust her. Give me a break. We’ve observed this woman for 25 years. What’s not to trust? We’ve observed her as first lady — both for a governor and a president — as a senator, the secretary of state, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a supporter of human rights, a lawyer. She has devoted her life to public service. She sat for hours on end testifying about her personal e-mail system that she used as secretary of state — which, incidentally, was also the practice of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, but you don’t see them testifying about it before congressional committees ad nauseam.
She’s too guarded. You would be a little circumspect about what you said and how you said it, too, if you had suffered 25 years of brutal verbal abuse, lack of respect and outright degradation by the opposing party. If I were she, I’d be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Wouldn’t you prefer a president who thinks about the ramifications of her statements before she speaks, rather than someone who blurts out what is expedient at the moment, then changes his stance, so that you can never rely on what he says?
What about Benghazi? It is unfortunate that four public servants were killed during Arab Spring while Clinton was secretary of state. But nobody blamed President Reagan for the 241 Marines killed in Lebanon on his watch. And what about the thousands of troops and hundreds of thousands of civilians as well as the trillions of wasted dollars spent on President George W. Bush’s unnecessary war in Iraq?
She’s not exciting, it’s the tone of her voice, her pantsuits, etc. Come on, folks. We are interviewing candidates for the most important office in the United States, arguably the most important world leader. We are not interviewing a candidate for “The Bachelorette” or “The Apprentice.” Do you want someone who has traveled to 112 countries, met and established rapport with their leaders, or someone who doesn’t even know the names of these leaders or what country they are from?
I am further appalled at the lack of gender equity in media coverage of the candidates. Even usually well-balanced PBS mostly leads with stories about what’s going on in Trump’s or Bernie Sanders’ campaigns, with hardly a sentence about Clinton’s campaign.
I wonder if anyone is keeping track of the amount of time on all of the news stations that is being spent on each candidate. I observe glaring differences that constitute a subtle but definite indication of preference given to male candidates, in a media establishment that is substantially owned and run by males.
It is high time we stop playing the man card.
Coleen Carlstedt-Johnson is a retired attorney in Brooklyn Park.