I'm ashamed to have to report this to you, but there are very few representations in pop culture of a woman president. And remember: It's 2015. And this is a First World Nation. But now that Hillary Clinton is running for U.S. president, we should start to get psyched about the idea of a woman in the White House. For that, we should look at representations of women taking a seat in the Oval Office.
Sadly, there are very few. Off the top of your head, can you think of pop cultural representations of female presidents? I did this to myself to see what I could come up with, and I thought of three: Selina Meyer from HBO's Veep (who, I love, but isn't exactly an example of a model political leader), Laura Roslin from Battlestar Galactica (who technically ruled the Twelve Colonies, but I say, hey, close enough), and Cherry Jones from 24, who was a legitimately great, virtuous president. But that's it; I'm out.
So to get you stoked about visualizing a woman in the White House, take a look at these seven books, both fiction and nonfiction, that picture women in the presidency and what it would take for one to get there.
Eighteen Acres by Nicolle Wallace
Nicolle Wallace knows a thing or two about working in the White House; she acted as the White House communications director for several years before writing the novel Eighteen Acres — a nod to the insiders' nickname for the White House. Wallace imagines a time as the first female president is running for reelection. The story centers on Charlotte Kramer, the 45th U.S. President and her female chief of staff Melanie Kingston, as they work to get Kramer reelected while dealing with crises at home and abroad. It'll get you excited for a time when women rule the world.
Women of Power by Torild Skard
Maybe the U.S. has never had a female president, but a lot of countries across the world have had women leaders, and Torild Skard brings them all together for this nonfiction account of their rises to power. It also centers on the idea that now, even in the U.S., Hillary Clinton (who is a woman!) is one of the most talked-about and powerful politicians. You'll read about Angela Merkel and leaders in Pakistan, Ireland, Latvia, and other places across the globe and wonder just how this hasn't happened in our home country yet.
Remnants Series by K.A. Applegate
Female presidents are rare in pop culture, so I must give a nod to science fiction, which — bucking the trend — has never shied away from presenting a United States with a woman in charge. K.A. Applegate's Remnants series follows not only the first female, but the first African-American female president of the U.S., Janice Castleman, in a world after an asteroid crashed into Earth. Other examples of women presidents in sci-fi include Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter's Sunstorm, C.L. Moore's Greater Than Gods, Jack McDevitt's Moonfall, and others. Take note, rest of literature.
You've Come a Long Way, Maybe by Leslie Sanchez
The subtitle of CNN political analyst Leslie Sanchez's book is "Sarah, Michelle, Hillary, and the Shaping of the New American Woman." This is definitely one to read before all of the election coverage begins, since it specifically looks into how women are treated during campaigns, specifically Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton — so you know it covers both sides of the political aisle to look at womanhood in the media in general. Trust me, you're going to want to brace yourself for the likely misogyny to rule the airwaves soon.
When Everything Changed by Gail Collins
Gail Collins' book, covering the rise of women's rights from the 1960s on, culminates in Hillary Clinton's historic presidential campaign in 2008. It shows just how many women had to fight and push and speak up for women such as Clinton to be able to take a place in the race to rule the U.S., and although sometimes you'll be angry and frustrated, you'll want to give a round of applause for the women in all areas of work and life who helped us get to this moment. Maybe Collins will even get to update it with Clinton's next run.
Notes from the Cracked Ceiling by Anne E. Kornblut
Note that Kornblut said "cracked" and not "destroyed." Kornblut looks at the rise of American women's rights in an era when misogyny still runs rampant, and exactly what it will take for the United States to see its first female president. Clearly, it's a crucial examination here in 2015 when Clinton is a frontrunner for the seat.
Sisters by Jean H. Baker
It's hard to think about a woman winning the U.S. presidency without thinking about all the women who fought so hard to get women the right to vote. Golly, there are hundreds of excellent books about this topic, but Sisters, which follows Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frances Willard, and Alice Paul, gives a great look at some of the biggest names.