It's hard to find the energy to care about Presidents' Day when our current president is on the brink of declaring a national emergency over nothing more than—in the words of the great Kamala Harris—a vanity project. Add to that the fact that both Washington and Lincoln were not exactly upstanding men (and definitely weren't feminists). But hey, at least we some of us get the day off?
Without getting too political on you, when things are particularly bleak, like RIGHT NOW, it's hard to imagine a future where we might have a female president (not to mention a president we actually respect).
In 2003, nearly two decades ago at this point, Seventeen asked readers how they felt about having a woman in office. The results were :(
Only 54% thought they wouldeversee a female president. If this poll was conducted at a retirement community or a nursing home, I'd get it. But we're talking about teen girls, with looooong lives ahead of them, here. And the 3% who don't understand why we would even *want* a woman president? I'm speechless!
I found a quote from an ancient (OK, circa 1980) Seventeen that asked influential people for their predictions of year 2000. Eleanor Smeal, who was at the time the president of the National Organization for Women (and is now, at age 79, president and cofounder of the Feminist Majority Foundation), said, "Women will be in every industry. What we are working for now—the passage of the ERA—will decide if they get equal pay. It's possible we'll have a female president. By year 2000, we will no longer be the silent majority."
Sometimes it feels like nothing has changed since the 80s (or the 70s, or the 60s), but women now work in every industry (except for the President of the United States industry) and it’s totally crazy to imagine anyone being opposed to the Equal Rights Act. Many people were! And they weren't all men! Looking at you, Phyllis Schlafly (who is, yes, dead now. I'd say RIP but).
Fast forward to 2004, just before Obama was elected (a very different time, sigh). Seventeen asked girls what they would do as president.
The answers are smart and thoughtful and ultimately faith-restoring. (They *also* prove that as great as Gen Z is—really great!—they aren’t the first generation of young people to care about issues. Just because the hashtag #woke didn’t exist in the 2000s doesn’t mean we weren’t.)
So instead of spending your Presidents' Day buying stuff you don't need from the endless stream of sales (or in addition to! I'm not your financial planner!), celebrate by giving some of your hard-earned cash to your favorite sane presidential candidate or other politician, or activist, or even nonprofit.
Until next time!