The tale of Elena Kagan's nomination to the highest court of this nation reveals the under belly of prejudice in this country against women. The very fact that Kagan's sexuality is being challenged, or even questioned, is deeply disturbing. How dare they? Are all women of a "certain age" open for suspicion, particularly those that remain unmarried and child free? We as a culture appear to tolerate a Senator jiggling his leg in the airport men's room better then a bold, accomplished woman of 50 years of age. That's quite a statement, and very frightening because it reveals our deep prejudices about women. Could it not be Kagan stayed on the career track, and the proverbial "it" just didn't happen? Instead the media is still reeling with allegations and plain old silliness. Yikes, it is yucky when they think they have to consult stud muffin Elliot Spitzer on the nominee's heterosexuality during their Princeton days. So instead of applauding Elena's accomplishments that are substantial and staying on message, here we are with the mainstream media whispering behind their hands.
Heroically, it may be Obama that finally blasts through a good deal of this rubbish to shatter the prejudices that run rampant in this culture against women. He sure had a front row seat to the slugfest that his competitor Hillary Clinton had to endure, and it was very ugly. The sociological implications are staggering as one looks at the uniquely American Puritanical guilt that may have contributed to his victory. It appears that the American populace could more easily elect a man of color, then a female candidate in 2008. We, as a country, could not leap across the abyss and overcome deep misogyny. But rather we as a society appear to have been propelled by our need to overcome deep racism to elect President Obama. And in this case, the racism fabric is ripping open again as evidenced by the Tea Party activists who even challenge the President's country of birth. Gosh, this is heavy stuff that I often spend my days pondering. Yet as one looks at the factors in play right here and right now, there is a glimpse of deep sociological and cultural change underway for both women and race. And ironically, it is this President who was elected and defeated the first woman candidate who is literally smashing the glass ceiling for women of a certain age, strength and competence at least in politics.
One only has to glance at his inner circle to see he has surrounded himself with strong, opinionated, smart women of a certain age. There are no young damsels here. Competence and experience are valued. He is not intimidated, and is doing more to push the boundaries of true gender equality then others have been able to accomplish in the past. It is these women and their spotlight that can, and is, effecting these long awaited changes. There is no jiggle factor for President Obama. No sir, he is not lured by jiggle, wiggle ala Sarah Palin, but rather competence, strength and tenacity.
You know many years ago, Gloria Steinem may have lied to, or at least misled, women who came of age. She told them that they could have it all, and it was not the right time or maybe it was her hope, wish and dream for it to be true. Our culture has been tough on women, merciless on strong women, and particularly relentless on women of a certain age. Perhaps, it is Obama and his big, bold wife Michelle that will make it possible for girls coming of age today to have the possibility of having it all.
For references, please see my pearltree below. Tell me what you think.