South Carolina Republicans have nominated Nimrata Randhawa, aka Nikki Haley, an Indian-American woman to run for governor. She won after a nasty primary in which opponents accused her of being an "adulterous raghead" who changed her religion (her parents are Sikh; she converted to Christianity at 24) for political purposes. Even so, she's favored to win the November election, running a campaign against good-ole-boy secrecy and corruption in the state.
North Carolina Democrats have nominated Elaine Marshall to run for U.S. Senator. In the unlikely event that she unseats Senator Richard Burr, North Carolina will have two women senators, and a woman governor, Beverly Perdue.In other blows for gender equality, once staunchly male chauvinist Australia has installed a woman as Prime Minister, Julia Eileen Gillard. And in Turkey, Umit Boyner was elected president of the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD).
As someone who can remember the hysterical, apocalyptic debates in the seventies and eighties, I find these changes natural and long overdue. I remember the arguments that "women's liberation" was going to lead to no legal distinctions between the sexes -- men and women would be required to, heaven forbid, share bathrooms, and Title IX of the Education Acts, guaranteeing a girl's right to equal resources in public education, including sports, would inevitably lead to requiring American football coaches to recruit female quarterbacks and ultimately to ANDROGYNY. Horrors.
The world is too large for everyone to fit into the political or cultural strait-jackets we would create for them. Charlotte McPherson in Today's Zaman notes that a lot of Westerners have pre-conceived notions that all Muslim women have bleak and miserable lives. But in her experience, many Muslim women have a strong sense of their own efficacy, are quite content in their religion and in their relationships, and many of them feel sorry for Western women.
A friend writes: "Change continues to come to the American South! The son of one of the best-known defenders of the old racist regime, Strom Thurmond, was overwhelmingly defeated for the Republican nomination for Congress by State Representative Tim Scott, an African-American who won 69% of the vote! And in this overwhelmingly Republican district, Scott is almost certain to win election to Congress.
"One swallow doesn't make a spring and it would be a bit much to say that the Southern GOP is returning to its roots as the party of Lincoln rather than the party of Dixiecrat exiles from the Democratic Party, but it is encouraging."
Just when you think you've got cultural norms pegged and stuck in place and time, they change and you're surprised.