By JENNIFER MANDELBLATT
“‘Not to be sexist, but… I can’t vote for the leader of the free world to be a woman, just because — every other position that exists, I think a woman could do well. But, the president? It’s kinda like, I just know that women make rash decisions emotionally — they make very permanent, cemented decisions — and then later, it’s kind of like it didn’t happen, or they didn’t mean for it to happen. And I sure would hate to just set off a nuke. … [Other leaders] will not be able to negotiate the right kinds of foreign policy; the world ain’t ready yet. I think you might be able to get the Lochness Monster elected before you could [elect a woman]. It’s not right, but I’m just saying.’”- T.I.
Don’t tell me that the world isn’t ready for a woman President. You can critique a candidate and her platform, but to make a blanket claim that women won’t be able to handle the position or that women are undeserving of respect is archaic and false. Despite your disclaimer, “not to be sexist,” your words are sexist and based in bias, not fact.
And while I appreciate that you took half a second to tweet your apology and I appreciate that you recognized that your words are wrong, it is not enough. It is not enough to just apologize to the people you offended. You must apologize to the girls and women who heard your words and questioned their own dreams. You must confront the individuals who internalized your words as justification for their own prejudices. You must understand that as a public figure, your words have incredible influence on the way people think and what they believe.
When you say that the Lochness Monster is more likely to be elected President than a woman, you are telling us to not even try. You are telling us that all of the pressures for us to sit quietly and make ourselves shrink are valid. You are saying that the centuries women have dedicated to improving our rights and status were fruitless because the idea of women earning respect as leaders is less realistic than the election of a mythical creature.
When you say that the world isn’t ready for a woman, you discount the achievements of the women who came before us and the women leaders of today. You are rewriting history by pretending that the world isn’t ready because there are and have been women Presidents and Prime Ministers, and so far the earth is still spinning. In fact, the only time nuclear weapons were used was before women were elected or appointed as heads of state. So wouldn’t you consider it to be a gross generalization to say that men are ill-suited for leadership because it was a man who ordered the use of nuclear weapons?
I also hear your concern about women being hormonal and emotional. However, I assure you that our menstrual cycles do not influence our leadership capabilities. In fact, our ability to get dressed and go to work while our uteruses feel like they are exploding shows that we are pretty damn tough. But if you are truly concerned about our hormone levels, why don’t you do something productive and help us fight for access to reproductive health care?
Finally, when you say that the world isn’t ready, you ignore the true purpose of leadership. Leadership is not about waiting for the world to change, it’s about creating a vision for progress and guiding others to help you achieve it. The world may not have been ready for women to vote or for a black man to become President of the United States, but when intelligent and earnest individuals have the opportunity to lead, they compel us to reflect on our misgivings and catch up.
Jennifer Mandelblatt is a junior in the ILR School. Outside of The Daily Sun, Jen will still be found talking about and advocating for the feminist movement. Jen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org