Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Considering the Roles of Women in Society

Aimee Semple McPherson
It is quite likely that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for the presidency. Whatever your views of her as a person or as a candidate, I think it is appropriate to consider the importance of this moment in American history. While other nations, including Muslim-majority nations (Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia), the Philippines, Germany, Israel, India, Great Britain, just to name a few have had women national leaders, we lag behind on this score. 

I grew up in the Episcopal Church, leaving it for the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel during the latter half of my high school years. The Episcopal Church was a relatively liberal denomination, though with a strong bent toward tradition. Though eleven women were irregularly ordained in 1974, it wasn't until 1976 (after I left the Episcopal Church) that the Episcopal Church decided to open the priesthood officially to women. Now, back the the Foursquare Church. It was founded in the 1920s by Aimee Semple McPherson (a woman). Now Foursquare is a Pentecostal denomination, while theologically more conservative than the Episcopal Church, it is less beholden to tradition, so Aimee claimed that the Spirit called and she answered. She developed a following, and the rest is history. 


Now, I later ended up in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In 2005, at the General Assembly in Portland, Oregon, the Disciples elected the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins as General Minister and President. That made her the first woman to lead a mainline denomination. Several others have since followed, but women still struggle to find places of leadership in the church.

So back to the nomination of Hillary Clinton. I've been pretty quiet on the political front, but I voted for her in the Michigan primary and will vote for her in November (barring something happening in the meantime to change things). I'm sharing this so you will know where I'm coming from. While Hillary definitely has her flaws, she is, in my estimation a very competent leader and has the potential to be a very good President. I shared the information about women religious leaders simply as a reminder that the glass ceiling has been very much in place for a very long time. It is to our detriment that we have so few women in positions of leadership. 

In the current senate there are 20 women senators (out of 100). Sixteen are Democrats and four are Republican. There have been forty-six women who have served in the Senate over the course of the institution's history. That's not very many. As for the House of Representatives, there are 84 women serving out of 435 members. 69 are Democrats; 22 are Republican. Percentage-wise this is just under 20%. Why is it that women either aren't winning or seeking higher office? Would a woman President break the glass ceiling so that women might choose to enter the realm of politics? I don't know that answer to the question. But, would we not be a better nation if there were more women in positions of leadership? 

If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency she will have made history. She would be the second President in a row to set precedent. Now, it's not been easy for President Obama, but then trailblazers rarely have it easy. I know that Aimee Semple McPherson can attest to that fact! 

No comments: