In 1995, superstore Walmart was selling a children’s t-shirt, featuring the girl-power-loving Margaret from Hank Ketcham’s “Dennis the Menace” comic strip,” declaring, “Someday a woman will be PRESIDENT!” However, customers complained that the shirt was “political,” and Walmart quickly pulled the shirt off of its shelves, citing that the shirt is “offensive” and does not cohere with Walmart’s “family values.”
The shirt’s designer, Ann Ruben who was 70 years old at the time, told the press, “Promoting females as leaders is still a very threatening concept in this country.” Soon after she gave another statement to People magazine, saying, “I was never aware that promoting women as leaders flew in the face of family values. It didn’t make any sense.”
This shirt, which was designed to affirm girls’ leadership aspirations, had a special meaning to Ruben. When she was a girl, she was playing with her cousin Irwin when he said, “Annie, you be the secretary, and I’ll be the president.” Reflecting back on the incident she said,
“On Monday, that was fine. On Tuesday, it was still okay. But on Wednesday, I said, ‘It’s my turn to be president.’ ” Irwin scoffed. “Boys are never secretaries,” he said, “and girls are never presidents!”
She threw her secretarial stack of paper in his face.
Ruben dreamed of a world in which a woman could be president, and more poignantly, a world in which a young girl could be president when she played pretend.
In 1995, Hillary Clinton was living in the White House as First Lady. In less than a year’s time, she could be living in the White House again, as President. Clinton’s success in politics continues to chip away at the glass ceiling, proving that women can be equally competent leaders as men.
When Clinton received the official Democratic nomination for the 2016 presidential election, 91 year old Ruben said,
“I’ve been waiting 83 years to see what happened yesterday. This is a wonderful time in our history, and I thank God I’ve lived to see it happen.”
The fight to achieve gender equality in leadership has not ended, but women are making progress. As the struggle to the top continues, more and more Americans are raising their daughters to believe that can be anything, and encouraging their imaginations when they want to be a teacher one day and leader of the free world the next.
Someday a woman will be President, and that someday might be just around the corner.