“No Uterus, No Opinion.”
This a famous quote of Rachel Green, one of the main characters of the hit sitcom Friends.
In the scene being portrayed, Rachel is with her male friends in the hospital, discussing childbirth. When her friends Joey and Ross offer their humble opinion that epidurals seem to prevent women from feeling contractions, she shoots them down with a cold glare and sassy wave of the finger. Although her antics may just be for laughs, many of the women gathered around their TVs to watch the episode’s original airing would probably agree to her point enthusiastically. In the timeless battle of the sexes, women always like to assert that men aren’t allowed to have an opinion on a range of feminine topics simply because they are not female.
What I find interesting is that many people believe is wrong for a group detached from a social/political issue to be at its helm, leading discussion and passing laws about it. That is why Rachel’s comment resonates with so many women- because they believe men don’t have the right to comment to them about childbirth. Yet if you seek out any topic for debate, whether it be illegal immigration, abortion, unemployment, etc. most often you will see only one group of Americans leading the debate. White, male politicians.
Rhetoric at its most effective form is most likely the rhetoric used in policy making. The discussions taking place on Capitol Hill are the discussions that are slowly but surely forming the latest laws, or reforming old laws. These white male politicians are people we have trusted to make those decisions for us. In the next 50 years it is they who will decide how the issue of gay marriage is handled, how we will alter our border control and immigrant policies, where our armed forces will be most effective. I believe that it is sad to know that most of those people are not gay, do not know any illegal immigrants, and haven’t served in the armed forces. They have developed their own career as one dedicated to making policy for all types of people, without experiencing anything like those people.
It’s safe to say I find that a little ridiculous.
Though we have seen an increase in the number of black and women politicians in the past several years, the demographic for politicians is still overwhelmingly one-sided. I’m not saying that fact is any great fault of their own. I just wish there were a little more diversity. In the ancient Greek city of Athens, the government system took the word Democracy literally. People from all walks of life, from poor and rich backgrounds, united under one roof to discuss their laws as they, the people, would feel the effects of. Though the Athenian government was (frustratingly) all male, they still believed they were giving fair representation. That was thousands of years ago. My question is, today are we giving fair representation? I’d say probably not.
There doesn’t seem to be an easy solution to this problem- as women gain more political standing, hopefully the issue of under representation of women will go away. In an ideal world, I would love to see group of people in Congress or the House representing a minority group, debating their issue firsthand with policy leaders. Imagine the impact of having a gay representative present to Congress why he believes he should be able to marry his partner. Rhetoric in our government system could gain such a personal, poignant, and emotional element.
When or if the day of only white elderly men leading our country will end, I am not sure. I hope within my lifetime there will be progress. But until then, remember. Don’t try to tell a pregnant woman her delivery will be easy. You may just get the Rachel finger.