On my seventh birthday, August 1st 1980, something extraordinary happened. The first democratically elected female president came to office. She was also Europe’s first female president.
I remember very well the day she was elected, the day everyone went to vote.
I remember standing in the voting booth with my father begging him to “vote for the woman”. Later he repeatedly told me that he wished he had done as I asked and that he was glad she won because even though Iceland was a hopelessly small country it was an important step that a woman was elected president of the country and he was a bit sad that he hadn’t been a part of that.
The Icelandic president doesn’t hold as high an office as the American president. The Icelandic president has limited power and the prime minister and his people are the ones that actually run the country, though the president has certain duties and rights that have proved useful. Since then Iceland has had an openly gay female prime minister. She was the first of a kind in the world and she came to office when the lookout was awfully dire after the financial crisis of 2008.
And these women did a good job. Both of them.
When it comes to politics people have different opinions. It’s inevitable, but that’s the nature of the beast. It’s what rocks the world and often what makes it move forward.
Lately though, it feels as if the world has been going backwards. And now we have this joke of a man running up against the first female presidential candidate in the USA? It’s completely baffling. I always thought that if you even so much as sneezed the wrong way then you couldn’t become a candidate in the USA presidential elections. Apparently I was wrong.
I won’t pretend to know a lot about American politics. I won’t pretend to know exactly what kind of confusion and hardship has let to the fact that this particular man has reached this far. What I do know is that this affects the entire world, our lives and our children’s lives. And that’s not baffling, that’s terrifying! Seeing parts of the political debates of late has been more than confusing. Here you have a man who has nothing truthful to say, trying his best to tower over his opponent, intimidate them to loose focus.
I admire the way she handles herself. The restraint it takes not to kick this man where it hurts has to be great. And THAT’S something I think is a good quality in people in high office. It means they will think first and act later. They won’t just push the red button at the first sight of trouble. He, on the other hand, looks like someone who would push that button just because it looks all red and shiny.
The way he diminishes people, looks down on them and arrogantly thinks it’s ok should be reason enough not to elect him. With all the minority groups he has spat at so far it’s hard to see that he has respect for anyone but himself.
And the way he talks about women?
Even if you think that “locker room talk” is excuse enough it doesn’t end there. Just look at him at the debates? The way he treats his opponents? And the way he speaks about his own daughter?
Nothing can excuse that. Does someone with this lack of sensitivity have what it takes to rule a whole country? Don’t vote for the megalomaniac just because you’re discontent with the way the politicians never seem to get the job done. It’s a difficult job. You might think you could do it better yourself but it isn’t easy trying to compromise, and believe me that job is 90% compromise at the best of times.
At its worst people like Hitler come to power. And anyone who doesn’t quite get how bad that is needs a history lesson quite urgently.
My daughter is 6. Soon to be 7. She doesn’t get to vote obviously. And neither do I, not in these elections. So now I’m standing in that metaphorical voting booth pleading with people to think before they act. Don’t be the person who votes one way because you’re “unsatisfied” with the system only to realise that you’ve gone out of the frying pan and into the fire. Find another way to show discontent.
When I was 6 I didn’t know the opinions of the people running to be the president of Iceland. But I did know that it felt outrageously wrong that a woman had never been president, because I knew for a fact that women are just as competent as men. The idea that they wouldn’t be was just ridiculous. And the woman running looked very competent to my young eyes. Since then I’ve learned some bitter lessons about what it’s like to be a female in a world run by men and my admiration for the women who tread into the world of politics just gets greater and greater.
It’s so easy to put the blame on changes, if things had stayed the same then everything would be alright. It was so much better back then… But it wasn’t. And sometimes the change is just what you need to move forward. Going back to the middle ages, calling women witches (for no apparently good reason at all) and berating them for doing exactly what the men do just shows lack of intelligence. Putting a narcissistic male chauvinist in control has never worked well in the past. Why should that change?
And just for a second imagine what this political shindig would look like if Hillary Clinton was a man, and not a woman. How would you see her then?
August 1st 1980 was a great day for Iceland and for the world. And when we had our openly gay female prime minister she helped to turn tides and pull an almost bankrupt country out of the fire and to a into a better place.
Competence isn’t about gender or sexual orientation or about how loudly you can croak into a microphone. It’s about knowledge, wisdom and knowing when and how best to act. And it’s about having respect for the people you’re serving for, not just those who happen to have a penis and enough money to keep you in supply of good wigs, but everyone else too. Don’t vote for the asshole who would rate your daughter on a scale from 1-10. Don’t vote for the man you wouldn’t trust near your daughter. And if you would trust him near your daughter, then think again and listen to what he says.
That’s not the person you want in charge of anybodies life and that would push the world back. It will certainly pull the great out of America and push it into a territory I don’t think we want to revisit. Ever. Because the way to go isn’t backwards! Learn from the past and move forward. Find a better way to show discontent than ruining what’s been built.
I won’t do what I did when I was 6 and tell you what to do. I just ask you to think for a while, look at your children and try to imagine what message it would send to them if this man is voted for as president?
Because they do take notice and the message we send is important. Don’t send the message that it’s better to put your stakes on a man who is a liar and a has more than dubious ideas about women just because he’s a man and not the woman who is clearly, despite all, a lot better suited for the job at hand.
My daughter will be 7 years in January when the new president of the USA will be put into office. Please don’t make me have to explain to her why this buffoon of a man was put into office, show her that women can do anything men can do if they put their mind to it, because me just repeating the words over and over again isn’t convincing when the signs point to the contrary.
I don’t know why my father didn’t vote “for the woman” back in 1980. I just know that he thought it was important afterwards to make me understand that he thought he’d made a mistake. Thankfully there were enough Icelanders ready to trust her, and rightly so. Don’t make the mistake to think that your vote doesn’t count. It does and your actions echo throughout your children’s lives. Nothing is black and white but what you do is often so much more important than what you say to them.