In the first few weeks of 2015, we have been reminded of just how far back in time religious extremists would like to set back the progress that humankind has made. Even in celebrating unity against the terrorists who attacked French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish Israeli newspaper published a photo from last weekend’s unity rally in which, as you can see, all of the women who participated in the world leader photo were edited out. In the actual photos, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others locked arms in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, but for readers of HaMevaser, they might as well not have even existed.
The paper’s editor said he didn’t want to tarnish the memory of those killed in the attacks:
“Including a picture of a woman into something so sacred, as far as we are concerned, it can desecrate the memory of the martyrs and not the other way around,” (HaMevaser editor Binyamin Lipkin) said.
If this sounds familiar to Banter readers, it’s because Mike Luciano recently wrote about ultra-Orthodox Jews in the United States who have been delaying flights by refusing to be seated next to women. It’s easy for us to look at such views and feel superior because we see the absurdity in them. Freedom of religion means we must be tolerant of such views to the extent they are personally held, but strenuously oppose their imposition on others. We can take a measure of satisfaction in knowing that in our culture, women matter more than to be erased like that.
It’s 2015, and before we know it, we might elect a woman president. Women in this country still face challenges and disadvantages that men don’t have to worry about, and cultural forces that continue to weigh heavily down on them, but every little girl will soon be able to draw strength from the knowledge that she can become anything she wants to be in America, even president of it. And if a new Pew poll is any indication, chances are her dad could not give less of a shit about that.
When asked, “Do you personally hope the United States will elect a female president in your lifetime, or does that not matter to you?” only 46% of men said they hoped to see a woman president. Wait, did I say 46% of men? I meant 46% of Democratic men. For Republican men, it was 16%, and 30% for all men. My old pal Noah Rothman helpfully points out that this doesn’t mean the guys are against a woman becoming president, just that it doesn’t matter at all to them if that ever happens. I suppose to a dude, that’s good enough.
Actually, it turns out that it’s also enough for lots of women, most of them. Overall, only 46% of the women surveyed by Pew hoped to see a woman elected president in their slightly-longer lifetimes, with 69% of Democratic women caring about the milestone — the only majority to respond to the question in the affirmative.
Remember, now, the choices here were “hope to see a woman elected president in your lifetime” or “doesn’t matter to you.” They weren’t asking if having a woman president was important, or a reason to vote for a woman, or even a good idea, but just whether you hope to ever see one. It would seem unfathomable that anyone with a little girl in their family would not at least hope to see them get the chance to see a woman president, to see the living proof of our country’s promise to its children. Unless you’re a woman and a Democrat, though, chances are great that it just doesn’t matter to you. That’s not nearly as bad as simply erasing women from the world stage, but it ain’t good.