Thursday Jul 31 2008
Gender bias still issue in political arena
By: Jerry Waldie Special to The News Messenger
The Washington Times, a conservative newspaper in Washington D.C., recently reported on a public discussion between Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and possible First Lady Michelle Obama, on our nation’s failing economy. But little was written as to the respective views presented by the Governor or Mrs. Obama during their discussion. Instead, the conference was described in the Washington Times as a “girlie show.” And further insight was provided by the Times when it described Mrs. Obama as “baring enviably chic, muscular arms in a sleeveless sheath.” Emily’s List, a liberal women’s political organization, was justifiably disturbed at the overt gender bias exhibited by the Times. “This is what passes for serious journalism these days? Give me a break,” commented their spokesperson, Ellen Malcolm. There is little doubt that describing a public event as serious and prestigious as the one engaged in by Mrs. Obama and Governor Granholm as a “girlie” show is indicative of our need to continue the struggle for gender equality. Unfortunately, our nation’s Founding Fathers neither asked for nor did they accept any assistance from our Founding Mothers other, perhaps, than serving them their hot tea, as they formulated the key documents of our new nation resulting in the Constitution of the United States. Women were not kindly treated in those historical documents. Perhaps the clearest example of the belief held by our Founding Fathers that women were inferior to them, was the fact that they denied women the right to vote, the most important right given in a free society. Nor has our Christian Bible, literally read, displayed much concern with the position of inequality of women as compared to that of men. Similar to the authors of our Constitution, the authors of our Christian Bible were men, not women. And, the Bible teaches that God’s priorities were demonstrated when man was created before woman who was sort of an afterthought when God took one of man’s ribs and created her largely for the comfort of man. Those passages, alone, though there are many more, would seem to confirm that literal Christianity has set forth a clear picture of women being subordinate to men. Until very recent times in American history, women have suffered from deliberate gender bias. Those debilitating views restricted the growth of our society for decades. It has been only in the past few years of our national experience that we have begun to shake off the bondage of gender bias. Some important forward steps in this struggle have been noted quite recently. The glass ceiling that limited so many competent women has clearly, as Hillary Clinton recently described it, been shattered, even if not totally removed. Sojourner Truth, once a slave, and later in life, a prominent and powerful spokesperson for the Abolition Movement, at a convention meeting in the l850s, had spoken on the issue of freeing the slaves. A preacher, present in the audience, challenged Sojourner for such religiously contemptible conduct charging that the teachings of Christ do not permit a woman to engage in such debate. An outraged Sojourner angrily replied. “That little man in black — he says a woman can’t have as much rights as a man because Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Men had nothing to do with Him.” I wish Sojourner Truth had had the opportunity to write a letter to the editor of the Washington Times commenting on their coverage of the “girlie” discussion of Governor Granholm and Michelle Obama. Jerry Waldie is a retired California congressman.