A seat of our own

A Roman copy of a Greek statue of the goddess Athena, Musée du Louvre.   We could use some of her feminine wisdom right about now.

A Roman copy of a Greek statue of the goddess Athena, Musée du Louvre. We could use some of her feminine wisdom right about now.

With all of the talk about race in the aftermath of two high-profiled cases – one in Ferguson, Mo.; one in New York City – in which grand juries declined to indict police whose actions resulted in the deaths of two black men, few have considered that this may be as much a problem of gender as it is of race.

Looking at the leaders and experts who sat with President Barack Obama recently during a discussion of the explosive events in Ferguson, you saw white faces and black faces. What you didn’t see – or at least what I didn’t see – were many female faces.

Why is that? Studies have shown that female cops are better at diffusing difficult situations without resorting to violence or even one-upmanship. I hate to reduce the world to hormones, but I do think testosterone and the “mine is bigger than yours” mentality it fosters play a crucial role in male police officers’ responses to male suspects. Sure, education, racism, poverty, media stereotypes – these are all factors. But at the end of the day, women are generally – emphasis on the word “generally” – better at dealing with volatile moments.

That doesn’t mean that every incident can be handled with kid gloves. Nor does it suggest that it’s always easy to discern the situation in which force is necessary or the one in which discretion is truly the better part of valor.  

But it does point to the need for women to add their voices to the decision-making process, as Ali Torre observed when I talked to her recently about the Safe at Home Foundation that she and husband, former Yankee manager Joe Torre, founded to end domestic violence.

We need more women. We need more women in the NFL, not only to help the league sort out its domestic violence issues but also to tell young players like Colin Kaepernick, going through a bad stretch, that you don’t shove a cameraman out of the way because you’re having a lousy day at the office. That’s not going to improve your circumstances.  Indeed, culling ill will is one way to cloud them.

We need women, and feminine energy in the Jungian sense of the term, whether it be possessed by men or women, to temper our tinderbox world, much as Athena – Greek goddess of wisdom, arts and crafts and war in a just cause – stayed the hand of Achilles when he lashed out at Agamemnon and threatened to sink the whole Greek enterprise at Troy.

We need women, because we have women. We are more than half of the world’s population. We are the primary breadwinners in the U.S. We dominate U.S. colleges and professional schools.

The most powerful world leader, according to Vanity Fair, isn’t Obama or Russia’s Vladimir “Rootin’ Tootin’” Putin. It’s Germany’s Angela Merkel.

And there’s no doubt in my mind that Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the next president of the United States, because while you can gerrymander a Congressional seat you can’t gerrymander a national election. The Repubs aren’t going to be able to put together a coalition of women, blacks, Hispanics and Asians that can put them over the top.

The 21st century, I always tell the young women I mention, is the century of women. It’s time we make more of our presence felt at the big boys’ table.