Tuesday, January 08, 2008

on tears and steinem

ed. note: due to the unexpected length of this post/diatribe, i expect no one to make it to the end. i won't be upset if you don't...

i take issue with gloria steinem's op-ed today. let me start out by agreeing with her broadest premise, that women have it tougher than black men. (and i acknowledge that many people would disagree with me here too, not sure there are many right answers where this is concerned, save for that there is discrimination everywhere).

she starts out saying a female version of barack obama would be DOA. and then blames that on the gender factor when, really, it's a solid combination of both. there are plenty of people who discriminate against minorities as are there plenty who discriminate against women. but you put any non-white woman in front of people and the cards are, unfortunately, stacked doubly against her.

she also claims that blacks were allowed to vote "a half-century" before women (1920, 19th Amendment), but having taken a few election law courses focusing on race, i'm shocked at her wanton disregard for our history. i'd like to send her a copy of the 1965 Voting Rights Act because it seems she's never heard of it. (and i could go on for days when it comes to voter disenfranchisement and ex-felon voting rights, all of which attempt to keep blacks from voting still. if anyone has record of maternity bans or somesuch aimed at women, feel free to send it over.)

i argue that clinton fosters some of the sexism that people think she's a victim of. i heard reports that clinton's camp was counting on women voters. why? why should i vote for someone just because she's a woman? i think she should be saying, "if you're only voting for me because i'm a woman, i don't want your vote."

i also take issue with her statement that women grow more radical with age. and this may be small-minded of me, but it's my experience that the older generations (both men and women) are resistant to change, old-fashioned and overly conservative. i think if you look at recent changes in our culture, and test them against the older folks, their views will be outdated. i'd like to see a poll of older folks and their views on gay rights. i think that will show how "in-tune" with societal norms are.

her last sentence kills me: "We have to be able to say: 'I'm supporting her because she'll be a great president and because she's a woman.' " it seems like she wants to have her cake and eat it too. "i don't want gender to matter, i hate that women are discriminated against...BUT i'm going to discriminate against everyone else and vote for her because she's a woman." maybe i'm reading it wrong and i'm being too scalia-like.

hillary isn't my favorite, we all know that. but, as a woman, i certainly understand that she's had a thousand extra hurdles to jump through to get to where she is today. (conversely, you could argue her gender and status as wife to bill is exactly what got her to where she is today, and on an easier path than some other women sans husbands that are former leaders of the free world, but i digress.)

she must appear tough so men will take her seriously. women see toughness and say she's cold and insensitive. then when she tears up and shows real emotion on a rare occasion...you have people making it front page news. she, figuratively at least, just can't win.

judged by her clothes (nobody ever says she's in a suit, it's always a pantsuit, because people need to know whether or not she's wearing a skirt?), people talk about her cleavage, people think she's weak because she stayed with a cheating husband. this is a man's world. and she's fighting that, but the way she's portrayed/perceived is a clear sign that we women are not remotely on equal footing. and we women aren't helping! who the hell was the idiot who started this thing by asking hillary how she manages to "wake up and look so good everyday." yes, i think that if i had a chance to ask a possible future president any question it would be, "what moisturizer do you use?" or "how often do you highlight your hair?" yes, see how intelligent and substantial we women can be? for fucks sake people...

all this still doesn't mean i trust her instincts more than obama's. it doesn't mean i think she's better at uniting people than obama. i tend to agree with ari here. she's capable and she knows the game and she'd be a fine president, but sometimes you've gotta try something new. she has oodles of experience doing what people have been doing for decades and the things we need, she's never done. nor has anyone else for that matter. i think her argument that she's the only one who can do the job right and is ready, is a poor one, even if it's served with a side of salty tears.

i want to elect someone who loves this country so much it brings them to tears. but just as tears don't necessarily mean compassion, lack of tears does not mean that the other candidates care less about fixing the problems driving a stake through what used to be our inalienable rights.

as long as a democrat wins, i'll be okay. and back to steinem, i think many people would agree with me that we can't hand the nomination to someone who can't win and if there is more discrimination against women, it's certainly riskier to put her on the ballot. but there are the doubters, the many millions of them asking, "is america ready to elect a woman or a black man?" thank god for the middle-america whiteness of iowa proving we might be. it's a ridiculous question and i hate the people who say, "i have no problem with it, but i'm sure everyone else does." that kind of negativity is making me batty! "we love obama's ideas, but he'll never get elected." these defeatist doubters are trying to screw up this country's chance for change. boooooo naysayers. boo.

have a little hope. or place a bet on it so that you'll lose some money if you're wrong. there's nothing like forcing hope by putting some money on the line. i've seen kate's husband go crazy over teams he didn't give a crap about because he had a few hundred on their game.

whatever works...

3 people who played with me:

Blogger Cousin said...

I am reminded of John Lennon's song "Woman is [n-word] of the World." In any event, I don't think Clinton has been the recipient of anti-feminism as much as Obama has benefited from reverse-racism -- no white candidate could run on such a blank slate and have his/her record as willfully ignored (at least to this date). In any event, nobody forced Hillary to turn 1,000 to 100,000 in a suspicous insider trading deal, botch health care with a secretive plan, keep her white house records unreleased to this date, and have her operatives engage in dirty campaigning (though not as bad as Obama's homophobic move to court African-American support).

1/08/2008 11:29 AM  
Blogger omar said...

I think the only reason I read this whole thing is because you said I wouldn't. Curse you and your reverse psychology. Stop manipulating me!

1/08/2008 2:02 PM  
Blogger Joel said...

The New York Times decided to cut off commentary on Steinem's article, which was a shame. What Steinem neglected to mention (and what is brought up here) is the sexism that she endorses; that is, you should define yourself and your choices by your gender. Who the fuck - pardon my french - is Gloria Steinem to tell women where to put their vote? And where was feminism when Hillary slyly engaged in some piteous manipulation of her own? Does Hillary shed any tears when car bombs tear people to shreds in Baghdad? I'm just wondering about that one.

1/08/2008 11:04 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home