If women ruled the world….?

27 Mar

In 2007, the actress Sally Field won an Emmy for her role as mother in the television drama “Brothers and Sisters.” While accepting the award, Field declared: “…let’s face it, if mothers ruled the world, there would be no fucking wars in the first place.”

It’s an interesting provocation, but does such a proclamation have any bearing in the reality of politics, international relations, and gender roles?

Let’s take a look:

Over the course of the past several weeks, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton energetically and relentlessly worked to convince the Obama administration to enter militarily into the current Libyan crisis. Arguably, she was the most vociferous voice behind the change of course: from strong words and threats of embargo, to taking the lead in the United Nations and NATO use of a “no-fly zone” over Libyan territory, and ongoing air attacks.

Such bellicosity is no real surprise when it comes to Hillary Clinton; during her run for Democratic nominee for President in 2008 she spoke frequently of her belief in the use of force against rogue states such as Iran. Clinton’s aura of “hardness” was so emphatic, that her crying while in a New Hampshire primary town meeting was widely viewed as suspect.

The United Kingdom’s first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, was nicknamed the “Iron Lady” during her reign. This prenom was due to her tough anti-Soviet stance, but could also be interpreted via her war to maintain the English colony in the South American Falklands Islands, her rampant austerity measures which led to extremely high unemployment and general disgruntlement, and her tight friendship with Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Benazir Bhutto was Pakistan’s Prime Minister two consecutive times; both times she was eventually ousted due to unceasing corruption charges, controversies, and rumors. While campaigning in Pakistan in 2007, she was assassinated.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the current President of Liberia. She was elected in 2005; her win seen as a symbolic gesture of hope for the country’s emergence after its second civil war. Sirleaf has largely avoided scandal and is generally well-liked, but the country remains mired in poverty and overall structural failure.

Angela Merkel is the current German Chancellor. Known for her mild-mannered approach, vehement support of a successful European Union, intimate friendship with Nicolas Sarkozy, and ambivalence concerning any German involvement international military affairs, she remains a universally well-liked and hard-working head-of-state.

Let’s return to the initial question: Would a world dominated by heads-of-state who are also mothers lead to a more peaceful world?

If conclusions are to be reached via the careers of the women listed above, the answer would be absolutely not. In fact, the politician who is arguably the most well-regarded has never had children in the first place.

What are the assumptions behind the assertion that a mother is more peaceful? Is it because the fact that a woman has given birth and mothered children leads to the notion that she will in turn be more hopeful regarding the future, and therefore work to ensure a peaceful present? Does this assumption imply that a woman who has not borne children will be somehow less capable of envisioning and striving towards a peaceful world?

Admittedly, my examples cannot be considered in a vacuum. The government of Angela Merkel and its decisions are undoubtedly hamstrung through Germany’s history and its unforgettable actions. Ellen Sirleaf Johnson was largely elected because she was seen as a figure of peace in a war-torn country.

That said, what’s Hillary Rodham Clinton’s excuse for her raging warmongering attitude? Is it the only way for a woman to get ahead in politics in the United States?


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