As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote ( which should have happened much earlier) I am glad to exercise the right to my enfranchisement. My pleasure is not unalloyed though. In fact I am seeing exactly how difficult it will be for women to share power in the near future. There is this rise of male dominated authoritarian governments where men stake their claim on power even in their dotage. There is the overly cozy relationship between the right wing and Evangelicals. There is a drumbeat that insists that men have to oversee the sexual and reproductive behavior of women lest they be damned for all time. There is reference to the Biblical role of women as submissive and sidelined into separate religious spaces. Be quiet dear, men are speaking. There is the constant dialogue on the conservative side which bemoans the loss of the traditional family, which means they want women to stop working and stay home and have babies.
The Trump government could not be more of a white male wall of power. That Trump sure does love walls. He has built a wall of men around himself, all sycophants: Barr, Meadows, Mnuchin, McConnell, Pompey and more. He has walled Nancy Pelosi out of the Oval Office and he belittles her constantly. Although she does not take him very seriously, he has half the nation blaming her for things she has absolutely no control over because of the wall Trump has built around Congress. He has even found ways to open up the purse strings that are supposed to be controlled by Congress by stealing from already allocated funds.
We were recently treated to a “press conference” held at Trump’s Bedminster Golf Course in New Jersey with a roomful of empty chairs backed by several rows of golfers, all male standing with their drinks in hand ready to cheer for whatever Trump said regardless of the content. The only women in that room were wives of golfers or young female reporters who Trump tolerated for a few minutes as long as their questions were not “nasty”. As soon as those “nasty” young women injected any doubts about those Executive Orders that were supposed to put the Dems in their place, Trump was out of there.
There are men who are not intimidated by women who want to use their brains to help solve the problems of governing, of creating useful human cultures, of dealing with obvious global trends, but these perhaps evolved men are not winning out over the alpha dogs who are more predatory and rabid. The alpha dog is like a sickness the world must rid itself of before saner minds can prevail. Trump travels in a pack of men who all praise him and tell him they have his back and make fun of men who like to be inclusive. They demonize them in the same ways they demonize women. They undercut their power with derision and political blame games. They seek the cracks in their past that can be publicized to derail them. So, in order to ally themselves with women men risk career-ending negative attacks.
I see that long, loose navy blue suit hanging from that slightly stooped and bigly-stomached body with the crazy long tie moving in the wind from the helicopter blades. I see that same dog, who seems anything but ‘alpha’, in the Oval surrounded by the men who rule our lives right now, all smiling broadly while they shaft America, especially the women. I despair that we will ever be able to overcome male dominance and that government will always favor the needs of men who are able to stockpile enough wealth that their own women don’t have to worry about things like putting meals on the table, what happens if they get sick, what happens if their child gets sick, what to do about child care, how to pay off that college loan, and now what decision to make about schooling in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic.
I know there is an occasional woman who rises to power and often gets soundly derided for it. However, half the world’s population (or more) is female and yet women have nothing like half the power. I’m sure there are people sneering at this right this minute. But having women in government might help us get some of that humanity and civility we are always craving, some honest assessment of what we the people need to live well, and offer some sound ideas about what to do to make life more livable with 9 billion souls due to occupy this small planet. I love having a vote, which even now men are busy trying to suppress. Women are still second class citizens though, and with all these alpha males so large and in charge women stand to face a possible reversal in fortune unless we can turf them out. It may be an impossible task, or it may be as slow as the movement of tectonic plates, or perhaps something earth-shaking will bring down those alpha dogs.