Saturday, July 6, 2013

When Your Kid Believes in a Black President But Not a Female Mayor

Act #187: Get involved with local politics - a commission, a board, city council.  Heck, run for mayor!

My son was born in July of 2007.  Ever since he can really remember, he's had an African-American president.  He doesn't have a clue about the historical significance of the time period in which he was born - to him, Barack Obama isn't "the first black man to become president", he's just the president. Naturally. So it shocked and amazed me greatly the other day, when we saw our small town's mayor, and out of the blue my son declared that only boys could be mayors.  After I swallowed my grave disappointment (discreetly), and ran through a 5-second pondering of the power of media and deeply embedded social messages regarding gender (in my head), I collected myself and asked my son of all of the mayors he knew.  And here's what I learned:

Mayor of Bikini Bottom (Sponge Bob)

Mayor of Crystal Cove (Scooby Doo):


Mayor of the Mushroom Village (Adventure Time):

So I began thinking about local politics and the fact that our hometown has never had a female mayor and only two of the eight city council members are female.  The city administrator and police chief are also male.  Add the fact that the mayors of all of my son's favorite cartoons are males (or at least have male voices - even the mushroom is blue!) it's no wonder this 21st century kid of progressive feminist parents can't even imagine a local leader who is female. 

As of January 2013, of the 1,248 mayors of U.S. cities with populations over 30,000, only 217, or 17.4%, were women.  We fight and bicker to elect someone from our own political parties into office because we think our shared values will be represented, but we don't do the same in order to elect someone whose personal experiences and perspectives would most likely be representative of many of our own - issues that impact women's health, safety, and economic growth.  

And we end up raising boys who can't even imagine us leading in the political arena.  Isn't it time to change the course of our future?  Visit the below sites to get you started on how you can become more involved in politics yourself, or help support other females in political office.  The list is non-partisan.  It's about time Bikini Bottom elects a new mayor.  Hopefully her first item of business will be to change the name of the town.


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