In his latest Letter to America, Australian Roger Pugh looks at women leaders around the world and the impact they have on politics and policy (and criticism).
I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but women seem to be taking over the world.
Angela Merkel is the established Queen of the EU, Theresa May has become UK Prime Minister, and if the UK Labour Party finally decides it’s still interested in politics, there’s a good chance Angela Eagle will become its leader.
And then there’s Hillary Clinton. Even after her scathing mid-year report from the FBI, it seems she still has a shot of becoming President because, as luck would have it, she’s competing for President against the only person in America who is distrusted more than she is.
Incidentally, it’s not as easy to criticize female political leaders as a male critic. Rarely, if ever, is anyone who is criticizing a male political leader labelled as sexist or misandrist, yet critics of female leaders run the risk of facing an avalanche of abuse, not merely accusing critics of being sexist and misogynist, but politically incorrect as well. Demands for women to be given equal opportunity in politics is certainly not matched by demands for an equal opportunity to criticize them.
The first female Prime Minister in Australia received such strong criticism of her hairstyles, fashion sense, and bottom that criticism of her job performance didn’t attract anything like as much attention. It was only after she made adjustments to her hairstyling and fashion selection that people realized her job performance possibly had a far greater bearing on the fate of the nation and accepted there was nothing life-changing she could do about her bottom.
There is the real prospect, however, that the new wave of women leaders can usher in a kinder, more considerate era in politics where Trumpism is not merely incorrect but improper, and higher standards of both self-control and gun control become possible.
In Australia, we’ve just reelected a political establishment male as Prime Minister, but please don’t conclude we’re behind the times. We’ve tried a female Prime Minister and an anti-political party leader and concluded that, while both showed promise, we need a timeout for a re-think and re-design.
Once you’ve experienced Hillary or Trump as President, chances are you will identify flaws which need to be addressed before you vote for that sort of Presidential model a second time.
It is exciting to consider that women can not only seize an equal opportunity to lead the world, but also to cop the blame for the state it’s in.