Unfortunately, people tend to associate strong women with power in the stereotypical sense: wealth, prestige, exposure. In other words, in order for a woman to be "strong" or taken seriously, she must be in the marketplace. The idea that women hold tremendous power at home is considered a religious or conservative idea. Take a look at this piece:
May 11, 2009 02:40 PM ET
By Bonnie Erbe
I would like to chime in on my colleague Mary Kate Cary's observations on Democratic women outnumbering Republican women in Congress. Hasn't it always been thus? Democratic women in Congress have certainly outnumbered Republican women by margins similar to the one Mary Kate cites since I covered Congress for the now-defunct UPI Radio Network in the late 1980s.
Republican women have achieved some notable political firsts. Maine Republican Margaret Chase Smith spent 24 years in the Senate, starting in 1948, and became the first woman elected to both chambers of Congress.
I think the main reason [Democratic women outnumber Republican women] is that Republican women are generally more traditional than Democratic women, who tend to be more progressive. Therefore, GOP women are more likely to be fulltime homemakers or to work part-time and not to pursue all-consuming careers such as politics. Republican women like former Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio) have even agreed with me in conversation that this is the case.
This does not mean all Democratic women want to run for office or be CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, or that all GOP women want to be homemakers. Certainly not. But the majority fall into those stereotypes and that is the main reason I believe the numbers are skewed in Democrats' favor.
It is true that conservative women -- since they do tend to care for their children themselves and not rely on day care -- do not have as much of an opportunity to be "in the limelight" the way liberal women do. Liberal women who outsource the care of their children to hired help on a full-time basis will obviously have ample time to make a lot of waves in the marketplace. In other words, liberal women trade their power at home for power outside the home.
The truth is, being a strong woman has nothing to do with proving oneself outside the home. To feminists it does, naturally -- but that's because feminists are an inherently insecure bunch. Real strength lies in not having to prove yourself. Real strength lies in the ability to be your own person regardless of what the people around you are doing -- or what they say you should do. Real strong women know themselves well and don't look to the government to be their Sugar Daddy. Real strong women speak their minds and get what they want -- without giving up their femininity.
Gee, sounds a lot like real strong women are conservative.
TOMORROW: Addendum to Saddam Hussein post