Slovenia, Nicaragua. Central African Republic, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Bolivia, Cuba.
If you polled every American woman, how many would say they’d rather live in one of the aforementioned countries over the United States? Probably not many, right?
Now ask yourself this: how many women from the countries listed do you think would rather live in the United States? My guess is there would be a significant disparity between the answers to these two questions. There is a fairly simple reason for this, which we will explore later.
First, allow me to provide the context. In their most recent issue, the editors at POLITICO continue to express their utter contempt for the results of the 2016 Presidential election. The cover art is an anonymous woman sitting behind the Resolute Desk, staring out the Oval Office window, and a nameplate engraved with “Madam President” sitting in the foreground.
The artist made enough modifications to this mysterious female POTUS to only vaguely look like Hillary Clinton—the editors clearly still cannot comprehend how Donald Trump, the most unpopular presidential candidate in U.S. history, beat the second most unpopular candidate for President in U.S. history. The cover is captioned with one word: “Soon,” as in “soon enough Hillary Clinton will finally be brought to justice and incarcerated.”
Wait, no. That’s not it.
The cover art provides the façade of an issue almost entirely dedicated to one question: when will the United States finally elect a female President? Soon, apparently. I’m not so sure about that, but that’s a conversation I’m rather uninterested in having. Quite frankly, I care far more about the President possessing conservative principles, a strong demeanor, and a deep understanding of our nation’s founding. Whether or not they have a Y-chromosome is not a chief concern of mine.
The portion of this POLITICO issue that I really want to discuss graced the very last page of the magazine, almost as if they were hiding it. Perhaps the editors were John Lennon and Paul McCartney, while the brainiacs behind this particular page were Ringo Starr—the former proudly displaying the lyrics to a song written by the latter on the refrigerator.
The so-called “Last Word” section of the magazine asks a simple question: “Are American women really better off?”
First of all, the headline is entirely misleading when it comes to the actual data compiled for the various infographics within the piece. They ask if American women are better off than women from other countries, but the statistics are solely devoted to percentages of women in “the highest levels of power in every sector.” They profile four of these sectors: government, military, business, and politics.
It should go without saying that the number of women in leadership roles in such societal institutions does not necessarily dictate the quality of life, equality, and prosperity that average women enjoy in a given country. Yet POLITICO asks its readers if “American women” are “better off” than women from elsewhere around the world. Let’s look at some of the data, shall we?
In the first section, they follow the New York Times’ lead in throwing a figurative bone to the glories of Soviet Communism, noting that the majority of civil servants in Slovenia are women, which is “possibly due to the emphasis on civic participation in the Soviet Union.” In the evil, sexist, capitalistic United States, on the other hand, only 43.2% of civil servants are women and leadership roles are dominated by men.
In the military section, the authors lament that the United States has never had a female Secretary of Defense while Norway has had six! (Allow me to take this time to read about all of the major wars Norway has fought in… okay I’m done). Other countries that currently have a female head of the military: Nicaragua. Central African Republic, Bangladesh, among others.
Even though the U.S. military has a significantly higher percentage of women than Norway’s, there must be some sexist phantom holding all of our male presidents from nominating a woman for Defense Secretary, right? This, of course, ignores the fact that combat experience and lengthy military careers are common prerequisites for Defense Secretaries. Women very rarely serve in combat roles and on average serve for shorter periods of time.
Next, we have the cutthroat, masculine world of business in America, where Patrick Batemans and Gordon Gekkos run rampant. The magazine points out that, while more American women age 25 and up have graduated with bachelor’s degrees and roughly half of the American workforce is female, only 16.4% of seats on boards of the largest publicly traded companies are held by women.
This number could certainly improve as the global average is 18.6%, and it probably will over time. I hope it does. However, there’s obviously zero mention of cultural and natural conditions that lead American women—and women in other countries—to career fields that don’t even have “boards” or to forgo careers entirely to raise families. This, I would argue, is an inherently good thing. But don’t let that ruin the narrative!
Finally, we get to good ‘ole politics. This section is a DOOZY! In their data set, roughly 20% of poll respondents either “agree” or “strongly agree” that, “on the whole, men make better political leaders than women do.” Only 19% of U.S. House Members and 21% of U.S. Senators are women. Wouldn’t women be much better off living in a country where they are represented in 50% (or perhaps more) of legislatures?
Then let POLITICO guide you to your brand new home!
Door #1… Cuba!!! (48.9%)
Door #2… Bolivia!!! (53.1%)
And who could forget Door #3… Rwanda!!! (61.3%)
Those poor souls over at POLITICO lack all awareness when they write, although “their legislative branches are relatively weak,” their legislatures have the highest percentages of women! Ignoring the fact that all three of these countries have quota systems that mandate women have this amount of representation in the legislature, let’s look at the countries themselves. If the title of this study is serious, POLITICO is legitimately asking if American women are really better off than women living under Communist dictator Raúl Castro or women living in war torn Rwanda, where an ACTUAL GENOCIDE occurred less than thirty years ago!
While the United States may fall short in certain statistical areas of female representation in business or politics, our Constitution unequivocally guarantees all women the freedom to live their lives exactly how they see fit. If this means that women pursue boardrooms or congressional offices, great! If it means they postpone their professional lives for the purpose of raising their children to be good people, great!
Women in America are better off than women of most, if not all, other countries for the same reason American men are. We live in the most prosperous country the world has ever known and we are blessed with liberty, endowed by God and secured by our laws and government. We will only be worse off if we lose those blessings.
Cover image, slightly modified, courtesy of politico.com.