The Case for Womanism – Pacific Research Institute

The Case for Womanism

Dee Dee Myers was the first woman to serve as White House Press Secretary and the youngest ever at 31. She served under President Bill Clinton. Now she has taken on a more demanding task in Why Women Should Rule the World, a manifesto for what we might call Womanism.

“If there were more women in positions of power,” Dee Dee writes, “not just in Congress, but across the United States and around the world, lots of things would be better. Not perfect. But better. We’d have more representative government; a stronger economy; and a healthier and more sustainable planet. We’d be better able to resolve conflicts and keep the peace. We’d have stronger families.”

Gosh, Dee Dee, I never realized it was all so simple. I can’t say the author makes the case, but she does let fall some crumbs of enlightenment, not always on purpose.

She cites evidence that women are more nurturing, better at relationships, and so on, then wonders “isn’t it also possible that men are better at, say, math and science?” She doesn’t complete the thought but does examine the case of Larry Summers, no longer president of Harvard simply because he suggested we might examine such a question more closely. Myers seems to have more sympathy for the accusers than Summers, who, she says, “crossed that sometimes-blurry line from inquiry into offence.”

Here we find the predictable argument that women are still paid less than men for doing the same jobs, earn 44 percent less than men, and some 80 cents for every dollar men earn. These are long discredited charges that reflect women’s choices, as Dee Dee acknowledges indirectly. For example, “Balancing big jobs with small children is still a challenge.” Further, “studies show that women often gravitate toward jobs with fewer and more predictable hours.”

Dee Dee concedes that, “As much as I hate to admit it, there is scant evidence that there has ever been a society that was truly matriarchal, where women ruled. What’s more, sex roles have been stunningly consistent across time and culture.” The most interesting book she cites is The Female Brain, by Louann Brizendine, M.D., a serious work I have reviewed in this column. Otherwise Dee Dee is a big name dropper, mostly of women such as Geraldine Ferraro and Dianne Feinstein. Feminist icon Gloria Steinem also gets a workout. To my surprise, the former Clinton press secretary also gets around to Margaret Thatcher, who gave her “a sense of possibility,” within limits.

“True,” she [Margaret Thatcher] was a no-nonsense conservative who believed that responsible individuals were the building blocks of a responsible society, that government should do less so that people could do more, that individual initiative alone could restore the glory of Britain.”

Yes, Dee Dee, Lady Thatcher did believe all that, which is why she was able to turn around a failing nation, something Gloria Steinem has never managed. Margaret Thatcher didn’t believe in parliamentary quotas for women, which Dee Dee appears to support. The author talks about increasing representation of “racial and ideological minorities and women,” but adds that quotas are “legally suspect” in America. She also goes rather easy on Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno, the first and only female to hold that post, and whose record is not what I would call exemplary.

Why Women Should Rule the World could have been titled Why Hillary Clinton Should be President of the United States. This book clearly promotes the former First Lady, Dee Dee’s friend, here described as “the first woman to run a truly serious campaign for president.” The book is also part autobiography and as such a moderately entertaining read. The most fascinating character is not any politician but Dee Dee’s grandmother Bernadette. After her husband died, Bernadette ran a gas-station business, raised five children, and still found time to play the organ at St. Joseph’s Church. Even so, I think Bernadette might have found the author’s thesis a bit simplistic.

“When women rule, we will have changed the very definition of power,” Dee Dee says. “We will have changed the world.” Thankfully, the author is prepared to make some concessions.

“That is not to say,” she explains, “that women should replace men altogether.”

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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