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Samantha Bee Interviews Women Leaders Around the World to Show How Far Behind We Are on Cultural Misogyny

The office of the United States presidency colloquially claims the moniker “the leader of the free world,” but actually, the rest of the world has pulled ahead on knocking down at least one major barrier: electing women into their highest office. While pundits here in the States have been arguing for years and years about whether or not women can handle the presidency (eyeroll), countries elsewhere have already been electing women to lead. How has that worked out for them?

Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal took on the task of interviewing women leaders from around the world, asking them about their thoughts on the misogyny that Hillary Clinton has faced throughout her political career, and specifically, asking whether cultural perceptions of women have changed in these countries after women got elected to leadership. Unfortunately, most of the women leaders continued to experience misogynistic attacks even after getting elected by the public, but some of the women noted that perceptions and cultural standards did indeed change for the better.

As Bee points out in the video, it’s also possible that a backlash of misogyny would appear as a result of the United States electing a female president, given that we’ve already seen a significant racist backlash in the wake of President Obama’s terms. However, that backlash has brought necessary conversations to the forefront about entrenched, systemic racism in the US; it does seem more valuable to discuss the problem out in the open rather than pretending it doesn’t exist, because it definitely still does. The same is true for other intersections of structural oppression, which is exactly why our elected officials aren’t more diverse—the barriers to entry are still too high.

The most interesting part of Bee’s video, in my opinion, happens near the end, during the interview with Hilda Heine, the president of the Marshall Islands in Micronesia. According to Heine, her country is much more open-minded and progressive about gender and the idea of having a woman in office. The irony is that the Marshall Islands aren’t part of the Western world—the so-called “free world,” from whence most of the other women in the video hail. I guess the “free world” isn’t actually that free, hm? Maybe we could stand to take a seat on this one and figure out what the heck we’re doing wrong, because it seems like we’re still pretty far behind on this one.

(image via screencap)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).

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