Thursday, March 12, 2009

First Female President: Barack Obama

When reflecting on this course, I noted that we subconsciously defined gender to be about women.  This is very similar to the idea behind race, that is, a white person does not have to deal with race, just as men do not have to deal with gender.
Obviously, this makes little sense, as male is a sex just as much as female is.  
And yes, there is a distinct difference between sex and gender, but the concept still applies.
I therefore decided to look at the males in the election, and stumbled on this article in Newsweek.
The author first notes that this is not the first time that a president's values, actions, and persona have emulated a person in a different role or category.  He sites former president Bill Clinton as the "first black president" due to his penchant for playing the saxophone and his display of "almost every trope of blackness"
He goes on to say that Barack Obama seemed to be playing a traditional female role.
Obama doesn't play the sax. But he is pushing against conventional- and political party nominating convention-wisdom in five important ways, with approaches that are usually though of as qualities and values that women bring to organizational life: a commitment to inclusiveness in problem solving, deep optimism, modesty about knowing all the answers, the courage to deliver uncomfortable news, not taking all the work alone, and a willingness to air dry linen.
However, the campaign is over, and the authority with which Obama has taken office has shown that his not one to be trifled with.  Perhaps this has made him appear more masculine, but I believe that it is his willingness to accept these gender stereotypes as part of his own that he has been able to pass the stimulus bill and get a strongly divided congress to agree on so many other matters.
Perhaps America does need a female president, and for right now, his name is Barack Obama

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