This is a big effing deal

The swearing in of Joe Biden as the 46th president is a huge deal. We can return to more normalcy in governance as he tries to unite us. But, let me set that aside and say the inauguration of Kamala Harris as vice-president is a big effing deal.

Seeing a woman sworn in as vice president is a long time over due for a country that touts democracy. Other democracies have preceded us with a woman being president, prime minister or chancellor. Angela Merkel, Jacinda Arden, Indira Ghandi, Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May all come to mind.

Harris is not just breaking the ceiling as a woman, which is a big effing deal by itself. She is the first African-American, the first Asian-American, and part of the first multiracial couple and family to occupy the home of the vice-president. She is uniquely American, as representative of our melting pot as one can get.

But, as a man, let me attempt to address this walk-in-the-shoes moment and what it means. My wife wore pearl earrings to honor Harris’ alma mater as she watched. And, she was crying after Harris was sworn in. A man does not realize how a woman feels to be treated in an overbearing way. Or, to be condescended to. Or to be belittled. Or, to be sexually harassed or even assaulted.

Sheryl Sandberg wrote the excellent book “Lean in,” which tells women to lean into opportunity or push back. It was and is a great title in that men are very skilled at leaning in. There is a line, I think from this book, that says a man with lesser skill sets will often feel more qualified for a job than a woman with more skill sets.

Then, we must layer into Harris’ make-up the fact she is a multiracial woman of color. In an interview on CBS Sunday Morning, she noted she has been told “no” at every step of the ladder. Then, she smiled and said “I eat ‘no’ for breakfast.” That embodies Sandberg’s theme. Just think of all of the young women and young women of color she will influence going forward. Be a leader, be a scientist, be an engineer, be a doctor….don’t accept no as a reason you cannot.

This is a big effing deal. I wish her, Joe Biden and their families and staffs the greatest of success. We need them to succeed in uniting us.

20 thoughts on “This is a big effing deal

  1. I’ll add a recently re-elected President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan to your list of functional democracies that value competency over gender. And while I’m not necessarily much if a Harris fanatic for reasons entirely unrelated to either her gender or ethnicity, I do wish her well and agree that this is a big deal. Every time Americans are willing to broaden the range of candidates we consider as potential leaders, we also broaden the pool of competent representation from which to choose that leadership. And effectively doubling that resource is a big deal.

    • Well said. And, welcome. The premise you advocate can be found in a tough read called “Half the Sky” by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof. Women hold up half the sky per a Chinese proverb, so treating women and girls like equals is not only the right thing to do (and in some places the humane thing to do), but it doubles a community’s access to intellectual capital and talent. Keith

    • VJ, agreed. I was reminded of Congresswoman Shirley Chisolm and her efforts early on. Here is Wikipedia summary for those who do not know her. Keith

      “Shirley Anita Chisholm (née St. Hill; November 30, 1924 – January 1, 2005) was an American politician, educator, and author. In 1968, she became the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress, representing New York’s 12th congressional district for seven terms from 1969 to 1983. In the 1972 United States presidential election, she became the first African-American candidate for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.”

  2. Words well spoken, my friend! Like your wife, I shed a few tears there, for this moment has been a long time coming … far too long. I’ve always felt that if Hillary Clinton had been a man, the other things that made her unpopular would not have mattered and she would have won by a much wider margin, thus winning the electoral college as well. That ‘glass ceiling’ isn’t easy to break, but hopefully this is only the beginning.

    • Jill, Hillary Clinton was one of the most prepared candidates ever to run for president. She was far from perfect, but the avatar people beat on which used some true criticisms along with a lot of conspiracy BS (that had ben refuted), was what the former president ran against. For example, Trump played up a false piety, but few people knew Clinton got a bible verse and devotion from her minister every morning. And, what boggles the mind is Christians beat on her for standing by her philandering husband, which is what their bible verses say she should have done, only to vote for a philandering, twice divorced, sexual assaulting braggart. Keith

      • PS – This is one reason I find Franklin Graham’s comments about the ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump as akin to Judas, grotesquely hypocritical. Keith

      • Indeed she was, and had she been the one to take the oath of office in 2017, this nation would look much different today than it looks as we speak. Sigh. But alas, she was a woman. I, too, was stunned when she was blamed for her husband’s indiscretions … by the same people who believe a wife should stand by her husband no matter what, even if he beats her or cheats on her. Sigh. This is one screwed up world, my friend. I’m not sure how much more of it I want to put up with.

      • Jill, I guess pointing out the hypocrisies to folks becomes a sport. It does not do much good, but does make us feel better. Keith

  3. I don’t tear up easily, but I did at as Sonya Sotomayor swore in Kamala Harris. And THEN, when Amanda Gorman unleashed her prowess with words and presentation, all the air in my body was sucked out. It was a big effing deal.

    • Linda, her poem was marvelous. The whole thing was well done. Jennifer Lopez blending two songs, Lady Gaga’s anthem and Garth Brooks’ Amazing Grace were great. I also enjoyed the female black fire chief who said and signed the pledge. Keith

  4. I, too, cried when Kamala Harris was sworn in. It was so long past due! I hope it is but a taste of things to come for women. Thanks for the great post!

  5. I agree with the non comprehensibility, because I am and look and sound like a man. I am glad that there is something that opposes the almost universal ME FIRST feeling, with a just disproval of “that’s no job for a woman” and its baser but more accurate expression. Mrs/Miss/Ms President won’t be the end; what will be is a universal awareness of when I or another am using or looking for excuses to give short weight or measure to women, and the general expectation of others to have it as well. (Think of an interview committee talking it over and “I’m not sure… there’s something I can’t exactly say for sure…” but everyone glares at them.)

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