I recently went through boxes and boxes of my childhood belongings and I found one of my favorite childhood books. It’s called Girls Can Be Anything and it has a picture of this little girl as president of the United States. This book was written 40 years ago exactly. Two years before I was born and sadly it has not come to fruition. We have not had a woman president of the United States. Is this a coincidence? I think not. Half of the country’s population is women. We've had 44 presidents and not one of them has been a woman. We finally got someone of color in office, but women are still lowest on the totem pole.
I recently got back from a trip to Washington, D.C. with my son to give him an education of our country and its history, and I couldn't help but be overtaken by the sexism in the leadership roles of this country. This is a phenomenal country and mankind has contributed so much to it, mankind. But women have too. That has not been demonstrated. Women have not been allowed to rise to leadership roles and be in charge of things in this country, with the exception of a few sprinkled in here or there. They’re still the minority.
I’d like to share the dangers of oppression and sexism, and what we can do to heal this sickness in our society. We were there over the 4th of July to celebrate Independence Day. On this day in 1776 Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and said that “All men are created equal” and he certainly meant all men, and he meant white men at that. It’s ironic that the capitol of our country, which is the symbol of freedom was built using slave labor.
When we went into Madame Tussaud’s wax museum to see all of the 44 presidents, which was phenomenal, at the end we got to a little plaque that said “Could you be the next president?” On that plaque it lists all of the qualifications for the United States president, and I’m going through them saying, “I got that! I can do that. Cool I’m that! I’m over 35.” And then it has a picture cutout with a mirror inside so you can see your face as president of the United States. And what is right below that picture? A man’s tie. A man’s tie! Even my son was appalled.
At the Smithsonian Museum of American History you walk in and you see a display of the women’s suffrage movement where women got the right to vote. Yay, good job for getting that in there. Good job for thinking and believing and knowing that women are actually human and have the right to vote. However the entire rest of the museum is filled with man’s, great, contributions to this country. Phenomenal contributions to this country. Do you know what the only display is of a woman’s contribution, a woman in a high place, what her contribution is to society? It’s the first lady’s dresses. Dresses! I like pretty dresses like the next woman, but what about my brains!? What about my heart? What about my strong work ethic, and what about my ability to understand human behavior, uplift people, and bring them together? Don’t those matter?
Women don’t even have their own name for their gender. We are derivatives and offshoots of men. Wo-Man, Fe-Male. I don’t even have my own last name. I am either the property of my father or the property of my husband. I want to just be Heather.
What is oppression? Oppression is the inhumane treatment of another group of people. This can lead to genocide. Sexism has been around since the beginning of time. It is the inhumane treatment of women. What causes oppression? Two things, ignorance and fear. As my buddy Yoda says, “Fear leads to anger, Anger leads to hate, and Hate leads to suffering.”
In the game of chess the most powerful player on the board is the queen. Make no mistake that both men and women have known this. Therein lies the fear. Whenever we fear someone else’s power we want to keep them down if we feel powerless ourselves. People have felt threatened by women and their power so they've wanted to keep them down.
The problem is, you can never feel better about yourself by putting someone else down. As a woman I can tell you, I don’t want to squash men. I don’t want to overpower men. I don’t want to compete with men. I don’t want to fight with men. I want to work right alongside of men, and I want to shine in all of my glory the same way men shine in theirs. The game is over without the king. We need the king. The king has his unique contribution and the queen has hers. When they work together that is when they shine.
So what is the antidote for oppression? If ignorance and fear cause oppression then education and courage end it. The courage to let someone shine and not be intimidated by them. The courage to know that if someone else is their best it will only elevate you. It won’t bring you down. It will only bring you up, and when we have education and we realize all of the many talents that women as human beings can bring to this country we will be uplifted. We will be united. What will heal the war of the world, the war between men and women, is to come together in love. For men and women to come together in love rather than coming together in a power struggle. We are here to work together, to unite. That’s why God created both of us. God made no mistakes when it created man and woman, created both of us to complement each other and love each other. So, the time is now. There is no other time, and God’s time is right now for this little girl. It’s time for her to become president!
Heather Hans, LCSW, MSW, MBA, CPIC, is a Visionary, Healer & Teacher, and the author of The Heart of Self-Love: How to Radiate with Confidence. It is Heather's firm belief that loving oneself is necessary to have fulfilling relationships and a successful life.