Female Role Models: They Matter

I admit it. Sometimes I live in a bubble. Sometimes I selectively forget or ignore how much inequality exists in our world.  This is not a good trait of mine. It’s too easy for me to pretend. I shrug it off with an awkward smile when someone exclaims to me “you look so young!” or “you look like a little girl still” even when I am wearing a slacks and a sensible shirt.  I’m told these comments are meant as a compliment, especially after the speaker finds out that I’m nearly 40-years-old; however being told I look like I’m still in high school doesn’t help me to be taken seriously among colleagues who are much more assertive than I.  Being told I look so young is not a compliment.  I constantly work at being less passive, more confident, and I’m still working on it. I’ll always work at it. That will never change how I look though.

This past week a major political party nominated a woman as its presidential candidate for the first time since elections began 227 years ago. This matters.  Nobody should vote for a person (or not vote for a person) based on a candidate’s gender, race, ethnicity, or sexuality.  However, every child who aspires to be president should feel they too can reach their goal if they work hard enough toward it.  Growing up, I never thought about being president.   Girls simply were not presidents; the presidents of the United States were all white men. Then Obama was elected as president. And now Hillary Rodham Clinton is the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party. By having a female presidential candidate, it opens the door for so many others to not just dream, but to realize that they can reach their goals as long as they keep true, work hard, and do not give up or give in to naysayers. I’m not saying that we’ll have, for an example, an Asian American transgender woman running for president in eight or twelve years even, but with each pre-assumption of what a candidate should look like that falls, the more doors open for a range of leaders of tomorrow to emerge.

Am I, by the way, allowed to modify or rather expand upon something I wrote in my previous article about the new Ghostbusters movie?  In it I wrote that “I am a fan of the original movie and I have my concerns just like I do when any movie I have fond memories of is remade.  [My concerns], though, have nothing to do with the casting choices for the lead characters.  I’d feel the same concerns if the cast had consisted of people like Paul Rudd and Seth Rogan.”

_88566096_hi031789832This was only a half-truth. My hopes  for what the all-female cast symbolize and mean to our society was/is far greater of an issue than I emphasized in that first article. How by casting the movie with female leads, rather than male leads, the movie helps to chisel away at the gender divide long upheld in our society.   How by portraying independent, brilliant female characters focusing on a common goal together despite their differences or past conflicts emphasizes girl-power at its core (I also have to admit that I highly appreciated the role reversal of casting a stereotypical dumb blond female secretary role with a male actor).

I saw the movie on its opening weekend. There weren’t many people in the theater to be honest.  Did I walk away thinking I’d just experienced the most life changing movie of my life as a woman? No. No I didn’t. However, had I seen it as a 10-year-old girl for the first time, would I then have looked at those four women and thought – wow they kick ass! Maybe I can be like them one day too?  I think so. I’d like to also think that young girls who see the new Ghostbusters movie, or who see a woman as presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, are inspired to not just dream but to realize they can reach their goals in life just like anyone else.