My 2.5 regular readers have probably realised that as an ex- Australian male now reincarnated with a Swiss nationality, I possess all the attributes necessary to claim a chauvinistic title. Misogynist, macho, arrogantly male and patriarchal. But then I moved to Switzerland nearly 10 years ago and changed my outlook. I became even more misogynist, macho and arrogantly male. It was such a natural progression in such a patriarchal country.
However, within a year of moving her, a woman named Micheline Calmy-Rey was elected to a seat in the Swiss Federal Council. Her election also made her the Swiss Foreign Minister. Within days, I realised that this woman was truly remarkable. Now, eight years later I realise I was wrong. She was not remarkable, she was uniquely the only woman I have ever known who has achieved the difficult balance of power, respect and femininity. She is what the feminists of the seventies were fighting for, but never realising what form it should take.
Micheline Calmy-Rey is a mother, grandmother, negotiator, pacifier, and ultimate politician. She infects you with a sense of pride in being Swiss and conveys the reality in what is meant by what we call in Switzerland, active neutrality. When she smiles, you fall in love. When she frowns and scowls, you listen and respect. When she reasons, you cannot help but understand. When she argues, it is with passion and true belief.
In my mind, the one quality that separates Micheline Calmy-Rey from other women in the world who hold political office, is that she never tries to be equal or better than her male colleagues and counterparts. She remains herself and doesn’t enter any form of competition. She is who she is. Take it or leave it. Truly beautiful and feminine smiles that would woo any man within 100 miles, counterpointed with a hard and politically savvy mind that can argue the most difficult political position with aplomb and conviction.
I have argued that the feminists of the seventies won the battles but lost the war. Their achievements were in many ways pyrich. But in Micheline Calmy-Rey I see what true feminism means and how she should be a role model for women who aspire to change the political realty and climate.
If every country in the world had a Micheline Calmy-Rey as their foreign minister, we would see a remarkable and rapid move forward towards true peace and two sided respectful understanding.
The other remarkable quality about Micheline Calmy-Rey is that I trust her. This makes her absolutely unique as a politician in my eyes.