I didn’t vote for the McCain/Palin ticket in part because I don’t think women belong in politics. This isn’t because I take a low view of women or their ability to rule, but because political leadership is not a part of the role for which God created us. Isaiah makes it clear that one sign of God’s displeasure with a nation is when He sets women to rule over them, and I don’t think we need to go looking for that sort of trouble. We seem to find it easily enough without looking.
But I haven’t always felt that way about women holding office.
When I was a kid, we moved very frequently. In my first 5 years of formal education, I attended 6 public schools – one of them three different times. I was always the New Kid.
I was also very tall and mature for my age, and most of the kids seemed to assume that I was older than they were. This caused them to look to me as a natural leader. Though I had no real drive to lead, I didn’t mind taking on the role when it suited my purposes. I was a firstborn, after all.
One example comes readily to mind, and everything I said so far was really only a weak excuse to tell the following story.
In 5th grade, I was once again the new kid in the class. We had moved just one month into the school year, taking me away from the school where I had finished 4th grade, and now I was a month behind everyone else in the awkward process of getting to know each other. To make matters worse, this was a middle school made up of 5th-8th graders with 400 students in all. I had not just one new teacher and class to adjust to, but 8. I had skipped a grade early in my education, and now I wasn’t just the youngest in the class; I was the youngest student in the entire school. Fortunately this wasn’t apparent to those around me.
Because of my size I was never a victim of bullying, but I was painfully shy and slow to make new friends. I hated starting at a new school, and this may have been the first time I didn’t just crumple into a sobbing heap for the entire first day. At least I was getting older. Nevertheless, I took my place at the back of the class and quietly plunged into schoolwork because I certainly wasn’t going to plunge into any social circles.
My first week there, my homeroom teacher announced that since we had all gotten to know each other over the past month, it was time to elect a class president who would represent our group for the rest of the year in the body of the student government. The class president would spend the 5th period of every day in Government Class with the presidents of all the other classes, where they would learn about, well, government.
There was a buzz of excited chatter as the bodies in the room divided and coalesced into two groups: boys on one side, girls on the other. Nobody knew who should be president, but we all wanted to elect someone of the proper gender: our own. Boys wanted to choose a boy, girls wanted to choose a girl.
I sat quietly on the sidelines, listening to the other girls discuss who should be nominated. As I sat, an idea came to my 9yo brain. The teacher had said we could nominate anyone we wanted, and we could each nominate anyone in the class but ourselves.
I spoke up. “Why don’t some of us nominate some boys, and everyone agree to nominate just one girl? Then the boys will all be voting for different people, and the girls will all vote for the same the one. Then a girl will be president.”
My idea was immediately adopted, and the rest of the girls set about deciding exactly which boys and girl to nominate. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but I found myself selected as the girls’ candidate. My best guess is that my great idea and apparent maturity impressed them.
I wasn’t excited about the idea of making a speech in front of the entire class, but my supporters were convinced that I was the right one for the job. I scrabbled out a quick campaign speech and did as I was bid, and so began my last year as class president.
When I told this story to my children, they all roared in laughter and disbelief at the scheme I had pulled off. “Manipulation!” they cried. “Cheating! We can‘t believe you did it!”
I say it’s just politics.