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“The female Amazon warriors were not a myth.” I turned on the TV in time to hear a professor who had unearthed graves of the infamous, fierce tribe described by their arch enemies the ancient Greeks as “man-killers—and man lovers” (according to National Geographic Magazine). Gender does not dictate courage or intelligence. The Amazons ran their own society and fought their own battles. Their descendants can be identified today.
I was raised to be a lady—which I understood to mean the female equivalent of a gentleman, “…a man of honorable and kindly behavior.” In these times when the concept feels tarnished if not discarded, I’ve discovered being a lady means “don’t make waves.” My mother taught me that a lady sits properly, speaks with a soft voice, and has good manners. The unspoken parts of the deal defended by many men and women include being agreeable, attractive (if possible), and knowing one’s place (tending the family and making men feel comfortable).
The Amazon warriors were not concerned with having a ladylike appearance or with following behavioral guidelines set out by men. They fought for their independence on horseback with arrows and daggers. Women have struggled to be treated with respect ever since and probably before. The tales of Amazon warriors inspired modern icons such as Wonder Woman who represent today’s evolving feminine identity.
A popular masculine notion contends that if women are powerful, they make men weak. Fearful men and women want to believe women were meant to be subservient. My husband brought home a bumper sticker that reads, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” He won’t put it on the car, of course, because he says he’d be asking for the car to be “keyed” (scratched with a key) in a future parking lot. He’s probably right. Many men cling to self-satisfying myths. They are the ones who make a face when talk turns to female candidates for national office. They and their female followers were anxious to believe any alleged misdeed of Hillary Clinton, regardless of how unlikely it might have been.
So, should we consider the heretical notion of a female American president? I would say, it’s about time. History offers examples of extraordinary leadership successes such as British Queen Victoria who ruled for 64 tumultuous years. Women are genetically wired for cooperation, inclusion, and communication skills. Most have an innate capacity for empathy. Does that make them weak? It makes them superior at spotting lies—a helpful talent these days.
A woman’s compassion suits a job in which the idea was supposed to be to stand up for the people. She’s culturally accustomed to prioritizing the needs of others, a trait often misread as weakness. Remember the old saying, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”? Women are disinclined to ignore deception and ferocious when their loves are threatened. Professional women know they must work harder and better to be awarded respect commensurate with that given to men.
The disarray of the current American administration has encouraged the appearance of diverse Congressional candidates who were previously deterred by their lack of power. At last we have outspoken representatives from the populace who ran for office to serve their constituency and not to promote themselves or secure a political future. They aren’t afraid to speak out. They have nothing to lose. Women inevitably spend their lives adapting to ever-changing roles. Yes, the new members of Congress are dangerous to the old guard.
Would I vote for a candidate simply because she’s female? No. If I did, I would be no more responsible than those who vote only for men or their party. Women are, indeed, people—some strong, some weak, some wise, some foolish, some honest, some deceptive—in short, with all the qualities and vulnerabilities of men. I vote for the expertise and character of the person. I know we have women who can handle any crisis. As long as we the populace (and the Congress) give them permission to step out of the old mold and into a personage that’s allowed to be honest, intelligent and powerful as well as human, we can anticipate a fresh chapter for the country.