So I watched the third episode of "Commander in Chief," the TV drama about the first female president of the United States, played by Geena Davis. I figured out I should check it out the gender issues since I'm now a feminist blogger. But now I'm hooked just because it is a good drama. Some things about it bother me, however.
The problem is that Geena Davis character is fulfilling all the worst stereotypes of how a woman would make policy. What policy decisions has she made so far? Well, she reorganized the Sixth Fleet and threatened Nigeria with war in order to save a woman from being stoned. And she intentionally and impulsively jeopardized a slew of carefully negotiated trade and economic agreements with the President of Russia by an ill-timed demand that he free dissident journalists in his country. She is fulfilling the stereotype of a woman who acts from nurturing emotionalism rather than a broad view of what is best for the United States. Now, I am passionately in favor human rights and I think presidents should take tough stands on those issues. But I wish we could see more evidence that she is considering the bigger picture, or that she were making other types of policy decisions. (Of course, a trade negotiation wouldn't make good primetime drama, but still the portrayal seems to play into problematic assumptions of how a woman president would conduct herself.)
-- Davis comments that she shouldn't eat too much for breakfast for fear of not fitting into her dress that night. Two minutes later she is expressing (albeit playfully) a concern about her husband spending too much time with the beautiful First Lady of Russia.
-- Davis tells the Senate Majority Leader that she is "not interested in power." Aaaaah! Why do women heroines always have to not be interested in power?