Would Barack Obama prefer to return to the days of yesteryear before women could vote? Looks like it.
Obama signed the guest book at Yad Vashem, writing, “At a time of great peril and promise, war and strife, we are blessed to have such a powerful reminder of man‘s potential for great evil, but also our capacity to rise from tragedy and remake our world.”
Looks to me like women just got excluded from the Obama vision of human action in the world, both good and bad.
In the 18th century, when Thomas Jefferson wrote the words “all men are created equal” and “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” women could not vote and could not give consent. Jefferson did not mean the word “men” to mean “men and women” or “humans”. He meant “men”.
Gender-neutral language has been around for the last 40 years. It is the norm these days for newspapers, law journals, psychology journals, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and countless English grammar texts, including the one I studied from as an undergraduate in 1991. Surely Obama has some basic understanding of the idea.
Use of language that is not gender neutral is associated with promoting sexism in economic issues, like equal pay for equal work. No one disputes the role that sexist language plays in manufacturing consent to gender inequality, in maintaining and strengthening sexist values.
Obama already has enough problems with women defecting from his political party. Why would he appear to ignore the role that such women as Golda Mier, Madeline Albright, Condoleeza Rice, just to name a few well-known ones, have played in the evolving picture that is the Middle East. Why is Obama so ultra cautious not to offend Jewish voters by spending days with his careful reclarificaton of his stand on Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel but so careless with trivializing more than half of American voters?