I try to avoid politics here because there are plenty of sources out there for political views. But allow me an indulgence, because it bears on what many of the female bloggers in this realm are often faced with. We'll get there in a sec.
Last night I was curious to see how the US president over the last 8 years was going to sum up his terms in office. How would he put a positive spin on 8 years that have been characterized by bad decisions, lack of accountability and deep divisions within the country? I put up with that smarmy smirk for 15 minutes (a personal best) to find out. The answer was trusty old 9/11. The best thing Bush could come up with was "sure, thousands and thousands of civilian lives have been taken since 9/11, but none of them were American!" Well, I feel better.
But what really struck me about the farewell I've been waiting 8 years for was the middle of the speech, when Bush highlighted his “random honorable people of note”. Other than the fallen 9/11 officer who Bush mentioned, four people had been invited to the speech for Bush to pat them on the back for honorable service to the country. There was a charter school principal, the religious owner of a half-way house, a military hero, and the father of a fallen soldier who had petitioned the armed serviced to be allowed to join the army at the age of 64 in order to be a battle medic and up-hold the memory of his son. Fair enough, I can hardly argue whether or not these individuals are worthy of Presidential praise. But the thing that stood out was the fact that not a single woman made the list of presidential honorees. Not one of four.
As a confession, I will readily admit that I might not have thought this was a big deal not so long ago. Is this outward sexism as featured in an after-school special? No. But it may be every bit as important because these types of “oversights” subtly reinforce the idea that men should be recognized for achievements, whereas woman should operate in the background. I have heard (read) similar types of complaints regarding scientific awards, teaching awards and seminar invites in the last couple of months and it all adds up over time. Who are the role models being paraded before us? Who are the people winning the awards? Can anyone really argue that the four men Bush chose to invite to his final speech as President better represent the good in our country than any women candidates out there? My only explanation other than Republican arrogance is that many women were invited, but none wanted to be associated with Bush. Now there’s an honorable stance.