Theravive Home

Therapy News And Blogging

July 10, 2019
by Ruth Gordon, MA, MSW, LCSW

An Old Old Story

July 10, 2019 15:48 by Ruth Gordon, MA, MSW, LCSW  [About the Author]

The conundrum continues… What to do about Women?  Are they electable? Are they shrews (or another word that begins with b and ends with h)? Are they capable of thinking (logically)? When will they have the time? Do they understand the difference between the Federal and State legislatures? And so on and so forth.  In fact, these quandaries have been haunting some United States citizens since before the passage of the 19th amendment onAugust 18, 1920. They rage on today in 2019.  What staying power! 

While it is true that there are differences in the way that male and female brains are wired it is not true that one is superior to the other. Despite scientific proof, there are those here in the 21st century, who believe that it is not possible for woman to assume the duties of the presidency.

Examples of women who have led their countries include:

                        Indira Gandhi-India, 1966

                        Golda Meir-Israel,1969

                        Margaret Thatcher-United Kingdom, 1979

                        Corazon Aquino-Philippines, 1986

                        Agathe Uwilingiyimana-Rwanda, 1993

                        Angela Merkel-Germany, 2005

                        Julia Gillard-Australia , 2010

One might ask, “Are women in the United States less accomplished and knowledgable than women in other parts of the world? Would she struggle to perform the duties she would encounter as President of the United States?”

It is easy to point to the so-called “old boys network”and to accuse them of keeping women in their “place”. That is true, but it is not the entire picture. Research conducted after the 2016 Presidential election has revealed that there are substantial numbers of white women who are not confident that a woman can be a strong, capable head of state.  Why is this?

Pundits and others, in discussing the 2020 election, are fixated on the notion that “electability” is the answers to the Democrats’ wish to regain the White House.  What is known about electability?  Is there consensus on what it is?  If it is true that a woman cannot win critical swing voters or energize the base (whatever that is) — why?

Old assumptions  are hard to shed.  In the late 19th century, many believed that women possessed a gentle temperament while men held logic.  It was deemed an imposition to encourage women to enter the voting booth.  Is this type of reasoning alive and well in the 21st century?

In 1972 Senator Edmund Muskie was the front runner for President in the Democratic Party.  Many thought he was the only person who could beat Nixon (there’s electability again!). Then Ed cried.  Some claimed that the moisture around his eyes was melting snow rather than tears.  Whatever it may have been, his emotional outburst (like a woman) crushed his chance to win the Democratic nomination.  The thought of a President who cried was an anathema.

Pundits have quoted polls that reveal that white women buy into the belief that there is a limited amount of “goods” to go around.  This is especially true of white women who never went to college. According to the reporters this particular group of women feel diminished in the face of women who “break glass ceilings” or receive public accolades.  Many have the idea that they are looked down upon because their achievements are more personal, closer to home.

It is posited that Black, Hispanic, and Asian women do not suffer from the same relatability issues as do women who are Caucasian.  The claim is there is less competition between them.  We are told that they live in a different social strata. These racist beliefs are still alive as is the axiom that women are the weaker sex and good girls don’t get angry. What is now termed “benevolent sexism”was passed along as truth. Those ideas have been handed down since the 1890’s. It has been said that just because someone believes something to be true doesn’t mean that it is.

When women, especially those involved with anything political, speak up with passion and intensity, they are branded as harpies.  It is assumed that they are also bad mothers and wives, less reliable, and too syrupy to handle affairs of state.  Wonder what Cleopatra would have thought about that.

What about the husbands and male partners of women who possess power?  It is often assumed that these gentlemen are weak, inept, ignorant losers.  Tell that to John Legend, George Clooney or Barack Obama.  When individuals are good with themselves they celebrate the achievements of those they love.

It is a part of human nature to pass down wisdom through generations. It may be silent, verbal, or written.  Carl Jung (psychiatrist) believed that the mechanism through which this occurred was what he termed the Collective Unconscious. Put simply, Jung contended that said knowledge was delivered through instinct and archetypes that are common in all members of the same species.

Cultural and religious beliefs are handed down.  For better or worse, the unconscious mind accepts the convictions of its predecessors.  It is if and when an individual begins to question what he/she has learned that change takes place.  This process is both painful and liberating.  This shift is often accompanied by magical thinking.  A good example of magical thinking are superstitions.  Knocking on wood  and avoiding black cats are common examples.  At one point, at one time someone had reason to believe in these myths.  It is when these fables are examined that people hold or discard them.

As more and more women seek to have their voices heard, it makes sense to examine beliefs regarding what they can and cannot do.  It is part of the progression of multiculturalism.  People are divided about uniformity and change.  Change is, however, relentless.  It cannot be prevented.

The internet has changed many situations.  Some time in 1994 Katie Couric asked on the Today show “What is the internet?”. She was not the only one who was asking.

In order to live a life of individuality questions must be raised.  For those that the status quo serves well, these times are, at best, unsettling.  One has a choice here.  As the pendulum swings from era to era, some things will endure. Some will appear to be antiquated.  Whatever one decides, it is considered to be In one’s best interest to examine the genuine self and make decisions accordingly .




“Female Presidential  Candidates Have to Overcome the Sexism — of Other women.” thewashingtionpostcom


Bazelon, E. (11/15/2019) “Why Did College-Educated White Women Vote for Trump?”


Fetters, A.(06/12/2019)  “Turn-0f-the-Century Thinkers Weren’t Sure if Women Could Vote and be Mothers At The Same Time”


Goldman, B. (spring/2017) “How Mens and Women’s Brains Are Different”


Gowland, L.(06/25/2018) “The Unconscious Bias Women Have Against Women”


Khazan, O. (08/03/2017) “Why do Women Bully Each Other at Work?”


Kilgore, E.(04/24/2019) “What do Democrats Mean by Electability?”


Rosen,C. (06/24/2019) “Who Won’t Vote for Women, Exactly”

About the Author

Ruth Gordon Ruth Gordon, MA/MSW/LCSW

I bring with me +30 years of experience as a clinician. My Masters degrees are from: Assumption College, Worcester, MA, Master of Arts in Psychology & Counseling/ and Boston University School of Social Work, Boston, MA, an MSW in Clinical Social Work. This is the 11th year I have written a monthly newsletter that is sent to approximately 500 individuals. The archive can be found on my website,

Office Location:
The OC Building, 11983 Tamiami Trail, N., Naples, FL 34110
Naples, Florida
United States
Phone: 239 293-4314
Contact Ruth Gordon

Professional Website:
Comments are closed