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Can a Woman President be taken seriously?

July 26th, 2007     by Stacey May Fowles     Comments

I have all sorts of raging angry opinions on this one, folks, most of which I expressed loudly last night at the bar so I won’t go into them here. Regardless, I thought I’d share this darling exchange between John McAlperin and Hilary Clinton during CNN/You Tube’s Democratic debate:

McAlperin’s question to Clinton was as follows:

Hello, my name is John McAlperin. I’m a proud member of the United States military and I’m serving overseas. This question is to Senator Hillary Clinton: The Arab states and Muslim nations believe [in] women as being second-class citizens. If you’re president of the United States, how do you feel that you would even be taken seriously by these states in any kind of talks negotiations or any other diplomatic relations?

I feel that’s a legitimate question.

A legitimate question? (cough, cough, sexist, cough, sweeping generalizations about muslims and arabs, cough, cough.) Feministing.com sums up my thoughts on McAlperin’s question perfectly:

Has this guy been living under a rock? Condi Rice and other female Bush administration officials make frequent visits to the Mideast and appear to be taken quite seriously. India just elected a woman president. (There is an) insanely long list of other countries that have had a woman president or prime minister— several of them are Muslim nations.

I think what’s really going on here is John McAlperin might have a problem taking a woman president of the United States seriously.

Clinton’s response?

CLINTON: Thank you, John, and thank you for your service to our country.

You know, when I was first lady, I was privileged to represent our country in 82 countries. I have met with many officials in Arabic and Muslim countries. I have met with kings and presidents and prime ministers and sheiks and tribal leaders.

And certainly, in the last years during my time in the Senate, I have had many high-level meetings with presidents and prime ministers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Pakistan and many other countries.

I believe that there isn’t much doubt in anyone’s mind that I can be taken seriously.

(APPLAUSE)

I believe that other countries have had women presidents and women prime ministers. There are several serving now — in Germany, in Chile, in Liberia and elsewhere — and I have noticed that their compatriots on the world stage certainly take them seriously.

It would be quite appropriate to have a woman president deal with the Arab and Muslim countries on behalf of the United States of America.

(By the way, there were a ton of great questions, including this one from my new personal hero, a reverend in North Carolina asking Senator Edwards why he thought it was okay to use religion to deny gays their full and equal rights. Watch it and know that there is some hope for the world yet.)

Tags: activist report, media savvy

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