Jan 222004
Authors: Marika Eve

“Like there was a snowball’s chance in hell.”

This is what a friend of mine told me when I expressed my

disappointment at Carol Moseley Braun’s withdrawal from the race to

the White House. I’d like to tell you that I was shocked at his

comment, but I wasn’t. It’s true and it’s not because she’s not the

most worthy candidate because she is – well, was.

Braun has outstanding experience with judicial and legislative

entities, serving as a U.S. senator, U.S. ambassador and assistant

U.S. attorney. Not that this mattered, most of us took one look at

the African-American female and said in one way or another, “like

there’s a snowball’s chance in hell.”

What’s really sad is that even the most socially conscious of

us, who would love to see this crusader of civil rights behind the

desk of the Oval Office, know that it’s an uphill battle. We are

more likely to throw our weight behind a candidate who may not be

the most qualified than take greater risk of seeing our

constitutional and reproductive rights continue to dwindle under

current political leadership.

It’s the political and social climate of this country that makes

this attitude present even in the most progressive of minds. It

almost feels like we’ve regressed. The last woman to make it this

close to the primaries was Shirley Chisholm more than 30 years ago.

That is shocking.

Women and men have made great strides toward sexual equality in

this country. It’s great that women are getting more recognition in

history books, the workplace and the home, but we forget that the

liberties we enjoy so unconsciously today were fought for and are

still not absolute. Why aren’t women valued as leaders at the

executive branch? Is it really so unrealistic for a woman to be

president of the United States that Hell must freeze over?

A 1999 Gallup poll revealed 92 percent of Americans were

“willing to vote for a qualified woman as president.” Most of us

like to think of ourselves as liberated enough to not let the

sexist notions of yesteryear interfere with our political

decision-making, but perhaps these notions are so etched into our

psyche that we may never really overcome them.

In a survey of 1,500 boys and girls, psychologist Ann Ruben

posed several questions regarding the qualification of “girls” to

be president in 1993. While more girls had thought about being

president than boys, two-thirds of males and one-third of females

surveyed said girls weren’t smart enough. One-fourth of the girls

and one-third of the boys surveyed had also been told that only a

boy could be president of the United States.

Children are receiving messages about who is, and who is not,

fit to be president as early as elementary school. I doubt any

teacher or adult figure in the lives of these children instilled

this message on purpose. It’s the message we receive when women

make up more than half of our population, yet Geraldine Ferraro was

the one and only female VP nominee on a major party ticket, and

that was twenty years ago. When most people think Hell must freeze

over for Carol Moseley Braun to actually have a chance in next

year’s election, no one ever has to say anything for a child to

hear that message. In a country where Wal-Mart banned a T-shirt

depicting Margaret from “Dennis the Menace” that proclaimed,

“Someday a Woman will be President” because it went against their

philosophy of “family values,” the message is loud and clear.

When I was in elementary school, I wanted nothing more than to

grow up to be a singer/lawyer/actress/first woman president of the

United States. My mother thought this was silly not because I was

incapable, but because surely by the time I’d be old enough to run

there would already be a female president. I’m not getting any


Marika is the news director for KCSU.

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