well there's nothing much in the news today but dr condoleeza rice. of course a visit from an american secretary of state after so many years would be a huge deal, no matter who it was. but dr rice represents something more. she represents an ethnic minority made good, a black woman overcoming prejudice of various kinds. a woman who coped with structural and institutional systems that have made it difficult for people like her to achieve as she has.
we should celebrate her for her success. not only for what she represents (a woman of colour in power/with power), but also the skills, determination and talent she brings to the job. here is someone i'd like to be proud of, but somehow i'm not.
maybe it's because, in succeeding within that system, she has taken on some of the worst aspects of the system. she hasn't changed anything of note, rather she has moulded herself to fit into what is already there.
i guess i'm thinking back to the arguments of the christian women's temperance movement who argued that giving women the vote would increase the levels of morality (particularly around drinking laws), and were pretty successful with that argument at the time. ok, i see that there are a lot of issues with putting the burden of morality on women. it's totally unfair, leads to all sorts of misogyny. at its worst, that burden leads to women having operations to repair their lost virginity, or to purity balls.
and yet there is part of me that wants the end result of women being part of the political system to actually lead to better outcomes, fairer policies. not just for women, but overall. it should lead to some improvement in the way things are run. otherwise what's the point? if dr rice is going to put in place the same policies and facilitate the same excesses as the existing system does, then what is the point of having women in positions of power. if nothing changes, we may as well just leave it to the men.
i feel towards dr rice much as i do towards margaret thatcher or madeliene allbright (she of the "oh yes, we think the price is worth it" in response to hearing about the half a million iraqi children who died as a result of sanctions in the 1990's). these women are not the reason why i fight for equal opportunity, why i fight for change and the increasing involvement in decision-making.
on the other hand, i guess equality means that women have just as much right to cock-up as men do. they have just as much right to be heartless or corrupt or whatever other qualities bad male leaders have. maybe it's just me who's wrong, in expecting more.