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Ask Dr. Helen: If Moms Ran the World

Reader Len wonders what life would be like if moms ran the world. So do I.

Dr. Helen,

I watched the Sally Field rant on the internet yesterday and it set my wife and I to talking. Would the world be a better place if the moms were in charge? I have traditionally found the moms to be just as dangerous (and bullying) as the dads. I know a mom who shot another mom at a little league ball game and held off the response team at gunpoint until the wounded mom bled out. The entire time, she was screaming “die you bitch, die”. The crime she committed that warranted her execution? She made fun of the other mom’s kid. That was over 20 years ago.

My wife will not vote for a female politician, ever. She is as kind and as caring an individual as you will ever meet but she is also aware of the evil that can be done by both male and female. Her oldest is a Marine currently stationed in Iraq, so I guess that makes her one of the wonderful mothers Sally was gushing over. As for me personally, I have known too many mothers to think that they could ever peacefully lead the world. What do you think?


Dear Len,

Sally Field and her ilk don’t really mean they want just any mom or woman to run the world, what she really meant when she talked about moms taking over is that leftist women should run the world. Notice that the women who are always talking about how great and different things would be if women were in charge never mention real women leaders like Condi Rice or Margaret Thatcher because they are conservatives. Unlike some leftist women who think that their sex puts them beyond the human traits of aggressiveness and violence, Rice and Thatcher understand that the realities of national security mean that negotiation and “making nice” with the schoolyard bully does not always work.

And are these leftist women really the great humanitarians they imagine themselves to be? To answer that question, let’s turn to Allure magazine. In the latest issue, contributor Judith Newman (who is also a wonderful mom!), tries to do an interview with Britney Spears. Newman keeps getting snubbed by Spears so she writes an article about Britney not showing and contemplates what she would do if she ruled the world like Britney does. In a school girlish tone, Newman states:

What would I do if were 25, world famous, unimaginably wealthy,
and no one could say no to me? Well, first, I’d sleep with Dick Cheney.
(It’s my World. Welcome to it.) I don’t know what it is: the commanding
voice, the crooked smile, the possibility that at any moment he might have
a heart attack and I would save the lives of thousands…whatever it is ,
this would be my priority.

My first thought as I read this passage was that Cheney is probably more man than this lady can handle and she might be the one having a heart attack, but that is another post for another day. My point in sharing this story is that if this “wonderful” mother were in charge, she sees nothing wrong with using passive-aggressive techniques such as having sex with the Vice President in the hopes of killing him. Isn’t using sex this way a bit–well, a lot–icky? And sadistic at the same time? Is this the type of person we want running the country? I hope not.

So if you are asking if female leaders have the capacity to be as dangerous as men, my answer to that is a resounding “yes,” but they might do so in less direct more passive-aggressive ways. In the past, our culture has told girls and women that to be aggressive is to be masculine and has suppressed
violence in women, hence the indirect way of expressing anger as a woman can express anger or violence but do so in a way that makes her out to be a victim. For an example, take a look at the Mary Winkler case.

Some feminists and others will tell you that women do not cause violence and it is the province of men but this is not true. In her book %%AMAZON=0140243887 When She Was Bad: Violent Women and the Myth of Innocence,%% Patricia Pearson asks the question, “What would happen if women felt entitled or compelled to express themselves physically in a public arena, if standing up to fight were not just a manly ideal but a womanly one as well?”

Would they resist the opportunity because they are not inherently aggressive–neither quick to anger, nor desirous of power, nor keen to brandish their own strength? In fact, the capacity of women to use masculine violence emerges very clearly in those societies that sanction its expression. Anthropologist Victoria Burbank has found that women engage publicly in physical aggression in more than eighty contemporary societies around the world, with other women –their rivals for status, dominance, and resources–the most frequent targets.

If moms were in charge of the world and were fighting with other women, this might give a whole new meaning to the Violence Against Women Act….

Finally, let me say that I would and have voted for female political candidates and don’t think twice about it. I think to exclude women based only on sex is not only discriminatory but it does a disservice to the country to discard over 50% of the population–many of whom have the talent and mental fortitude to do political work. But being a good mom qualifies a woman for taking care of her children, it doesn’t give a woman the right to be the leader of the free world. If a woman aspires to that, she needs to have the same qualities of every good leader: an understanding of national security including when and how to use force if necessary, a background in military tactics, and a realistic view of human nature. Without these qualities, “moms being in charge of the world” is just an empty slogan.

What do you think, would the world really be better off if moms ran it?

Or if you have a question you would like answered, please leave it below or email me at [email protected]. Your questions may be edited for length and clarity. Please note that your first name only or no name at all will be used to identify your question-if you want me to use your name, tell me, otherwise you will be referred to by your first name or as “a reader” etc.

Helen Smith is a psychologist specializing in forensic issues in Knoxville, Tennessee and blogs at drhelen.blogspot.com. This advice column is for educational and entertainment purposes only and does not purport to replace therapy or psychological treatment.