Thursday, November 10, 2005

Always a Woman To Me

Well. Liberia has just elected its first woman president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. This is exciting not only because she's a woman, but also because this is the first election in Liberia after 14 years of civil war. While there are some allegations of fraud from Johnson-Sirleaf's opponent George Weah, the observers who have commented so far are calling it free and fair.

So here's the public service announcement: We Americans like to think we are the most advanced, open-minded, accepting people in the world, and that we have the ability to judge people purely on their accomplishments and qualities, because we believe that men, women, and minorities (as Trent Lott so aptly reminded us) are all equal. Far be it from me to pull the wool from your eyes, but, well, THIS IS NOT TRUE. While we get all titillated about a woman playing a president ON TELEVISION, all around the world women have been elected as national leaders for decades, including places that we might reflexively think of as "less advanced." Here is a partial list of countries who have had female heads of state (for the full list, go here): Great Britain, India, Israel, Pakistan, France, Haiti, Lithuania, Bolivia, Philippines, Panama, and so on. There are over forty of them in all, from every continent except, uh, Antarctica. So what makes you think we're so damn special?

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