David Cassidy the Feminist

The retro hit, "I think I Love You," blared from a flat, plasma-screen television at the ultra-modern Wall Street English conversation school. The students had just watched an episode of The Partridge Family entitled "My Son the Feminist." The show features a young David Cassidy who starts dating a young women's rights advocate and gets duped into performing at a feminist rally. The episode was used to launch the day's English discussion on feminism.

Despite the fact that "The Partridge Family" is their basis for learning about American feminism—an odd choice, considering the 'feminists' in the episode are one-dimensional extremists who bulldoze everyone in the name of their agenda—the young professionals were quite candid in their remarks.

“It’s not good for a country to be controlled by a woman,” said 28-year-old Jack, bringing the conversation around to news that Hillary Clinton’s die-hard campaign was coming to an end.

“They can’t make quick decisions,” chimed in the other man at the table, who also went by Jack. “Men and women do everything differently.”

The women at the table took their turns in rebuttal. One of the more vociferous female students referenced Empress Wu Zetian in the Tang Dynasty and her contributions to China as one of the two female emperors in Chinese history. She said we don’t learn enough about Empress Wu because the word is “history,” not “herstory.” My heart leapt with feminist solidarity.

After the Jacks’ comments, though, I felt heartbroken at Clinton’s losing battle for the presidential nomination. These two men, who were otherwise quite friendly, think that women are inherently incapable of running a nation. I wanted to reach for an American counterpoint in the form of a female president to dispel their notions about female leadership, but instead I only felt the pang of coming up empty.

The China Daily, meanwhile, reports that 21 women occupy senior positions in the Chinese government. Out of how many positions, the Daily doesn't say, but both Jacks seem blithely unaware of these advances in female leadership.

Americans could make a well-crafted argument detailing the complex policy issues that kept Clinton from the nomination. But our neighbors watching closely from Beijing see a much simpler story. Like the two Jacks, the U.S. seems to feel that women do not belong in the executive folds of the government.