Friday, May 9, 2008

Cigars in the Parlour

Normally I try to avoid the regular male vs. female arguments, but this morning's headlines tempted me to think about the virtues of women in the public arena (and the shortcomings of men).  

What struck me this morning was how much ego is driving events in international affairs right now.  From a stubborn junta in Myanmar jamming up aid efforts, to a Zimbawean dictator white-fisting his hold on the country, to violence breaking out among rival Sunni and Shiite groups, I couldn't help but see male aggression as the underlying theme.

Women are often criticized for being too emotional and irrational when it comes to political affairs, particularly affairs that involve military conflict.  But after reflecting on recent headlines, I'm not sure the alternative--ego-driven fortitude--is any better.  Granted, these arguments about who would make better public leaders, men or women, are based on generalizations and stereotypes, which are often wrong to begin with.  Still, the absence of female leaders in international politics and business denies us the opportunity to see how the feminine gender might bring different approaches to what is undeniably a male-dominated arena.

It is for this reason that I have created Cigars in the Parlour, a blog on current events, written by a woman for women to read.  It is my personal conviction that women have a lot to bring to the table when it comes to navigating the issues that dominate our contemporary international and domestic politics and economics.  And it is my hope to see more and more females engaging these issues in their communities and beyond.

My goal is to promote awareness and action.  And my target audience is young women, whether working or staying home.  It bothers me greatly to think that we know more about Angelina and Brad than we do about Hezbollah and Hamas.  It bothers me because I believe women have a lot of creativity, compassion and smarts that could be applied to current affairs if we only took the time to get informed.  Political ambitions are not a requirement.  

I suppose it might seem contradictory that a blog about a housewife lifestyle is promoting female leadership in political and economic arenas.  After all, wouldn't the decision to stay home directly negate a life in public service?  Won't more women staying home mean less women in government, thus maintaining the status quo of the "boys only club"?  I don't believe so.  On the contrary, I actually think the opportunities for action afforded by a "housewife" lifestyle might prepare women for public service.  Even more so, my goal is to see women engaged on all levels, but primarily in communities, in civil society.  I realize female leadership in communities may not make the headlines the way presidents and prime ministers do, but that is a flaw of the media, not of society.  

I have a lot more to say on the topic of female leadership, and on civil society, and thus will be revisiting it often, both on this blog and on Cigars in the Parlour.  For now, click here to read "Ego Stinks."  


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