I am aghast at all the sexist rhetoric about Hillary Clinton. Not because I did not know it exists. Sexism is alive and very well all over the world, including the United States of America. When Hillary is passionate, strong, confident and assertive, she is termed aggressive, too angry, and I can only imagine what else! Not so for the male candidates. After I heard about an incident with Hillary today I passionately and assertively charged into my study to write this down. Signs were held up while she was speaking stating: Stick to ironing. I rather prefer a bumper sticker I have seen lately that states: a woman’s place is in the white house!
I would vote for Hillary in a heart beat. She is intelligent, professional, and has so much political experience. While I watch the struggle and challenges she faces as a woman running this race, my heart reaches out to her and feelings surge for all women to gather together and rise up as one to push her through – our life sister. I ached to see her short show of emotion yesterday dragged across the media over and over again. As if showing emotion is something to be guarded against in this Patriarchal system, where men and women alike wallow and self-destruct. "You see?" I can hear people say. "That’s what happens if you vote for a woman. She will just let her emotions get in the way!"
As if it doesn’t ever happen to all those seemingly rational, dominant men out there!
And so, today I am torn in two. Do I make a stand and vote for Hillary because she is my sister?
Or do I stand firm with Barack Hussein Obama, whom I have chosen even long before he decided to run for president?
For, he speaks a language of hope and reconciliation, and I feel so sure he is exactly what we all need right here and now – not only in America, but throughout the world. He has my birth place Africa in his blood. He models integrity …
… but … More importantly, he has given me the audacity to hope after a long, dark nightmare of political years.
A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Writer’s block (Update)
Update I (see Update II below …):
This morning, I received an e-mail from a friend commenting on this post.
I read your blog and it sums up my feelings of the past week. However, it also points to another frustration- yes, the pinheads with their ‘born to iron’ signs are one thing, but why aren’t all the smart feminists out there supporting Hillary, working for Hillary, voting for Hillary- including you, …, et al? Obama is Obama- yes, he is so full of hope and wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a black president? But just like the first feminists of 1884, must women wait for the ‘black man’ to succeed before a woman can do the same? I said from the get go and I’ll defend it to the end- as a feminist I could not live with myself if I didn’t do everything to help Hillary win the whitehouse. If we miss this opportunity it could be 16 years before it comes around again, if at all. Susan B. Anthony worked from the age of 30 through to age 86 and died before she could legally vote. By 2020 it will be 100 years since American women could vote, would we have seen a woman president by then? Not if we don’t work for it now.
Women Are Never Front-Runners
THE woman in question became a lawyer after some years as a community organizer, married a corporate lawyer and is the mother of two little girls, ages 9 and 6. Herself the daughter of a white American mother and a black African father — in this race-conscious country, she is considered black — she served as a state legislator for eight years, and became an inspirational voice for national unity.
Be honest: Do you think this is the biography of someone who could be elected to the United States Senate? After less than one term there, do you believe she could be a viable candidate to head the most powerful nation on earth?
If you answered no to either question, you’re not alone. Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life, whether the question is who must be in the kitchen or who could be in the White House. This country is way down the list of countries electing women and, according to one study, it polarizes gender roles more than the average democracy.
That’s why the Iowa primary was following our historical pattern of making change. Black men were given the vote a half-century before women of any race were allowed to mark a ballot, and generally have ascended to positions of power, from the military to the boardroom, before any women (with the possible exception of obedient family members in the latter).
If the lawyer described above had been just as charismatic but named, say, Achola Obama instead of Barack Obama, her goose would have been cooked long ago. Indeed, neither she nor Hillary Clinton could have used Mr. Obama’s public style — or Bill Clinton’s either — without being considered too emotional by Washington pundits.
So why is the sex barrier not taken as seriously as the racial one? The reasons are as pervasive as the air we breathe: because sexism is still confused with nature as racism once was; because anything that affects males is seen as more serious than anything that affects “only” the female half of the human race; because children are still raised mostly by women (to put it mildly) so men especially tend to feel they are regressing to childhood when dealing with a powerful woman; because racism stereotyped black men as more “masculine” for so long that some white men find their presence to be masculinity-affirming (as long as there aren’t too many of them); and because there is still no “right” way to be a woman in public power without being considered a you-know-what.
I’m not advocating a competition for who has it toughest. The caste systems of sex and race are interdependent and can only be uprooted together. That’s why Senators Clinton and Obama have to be careful not to let a healthy debate turn into the kind of hostility that the news media love. Both will need a coalition of outsiders to win a general election. The abolition and suffrage movements progressed when united and were damaged by division; we should remember that.
I’m supporting Senator Clinton because like Senator Obama she has community organizing experience, but she also has more years in the Senate, an unprecedented eight years of on-the-job training in the White House, no masculinity to prove, the potential to tap a huge reservoir of this country’s talent by her example, and now even the courage to break the no-tears rule. I’m not opposing Mr. Obama; if he’s the nominee, I’ll volunteer. Indeed, if you look at votes during their two-year overlap in the Senate, they were the same more than 90 percent of the time. Besides, to clean up the mess left by President Bush, we may need two terms of President Clinton and two of President Obama.
But what worries me is that he is seen as unifying by his race while she is seen as divisive by her sex.
What worries me is that she is accused of “playing the gender card” when citing the old boys’ club, while he is seen as unifying by citing civil rights confrontations.
What worries me is that male Iowa voters were seen as gender-free when supporting their own, while female voters were seen as biased if they did and disloyal if they didn’t.
What worries me is that reporters ignore Mr. Obama’s dependence on the old — for instance, the frequent campaign comparisons to John F. Kennedy — while not challenging the slander that her progressive policies are part of the Washington status quo.
What worries me is that some women, perhaps especially younger ones, hope to deny or escape the sexual caste system; thus Iowa women over 50 and 60, who disproportionately supported Senator Clinton, proved once again that women are the one group that grows more radical with age.
This country can no longer afford to choose our leaders from a talent pool limited by sex, race, money, powerful fathers and paper degrees. It’s time to take equal pride in breaking all the barriers. We have to be able to say: “I’m supporting her because she’ll be a great president and because she’s a woman.”
Gloria Steinem is a co-founder of the Women’s Media Center.
Frank Paynter at Listics has this to say:
… a black man or a white woman, has emerged; and, if we are not careful, the question could become a defining dichotomy in the 2008 nomination process. Who benefits from this discussion? Not black people and certainly not women, because there is no clear path to convincement in the debate. It’s not likely that anyone’s mind will be changed. But the discussion itself delegitimizes criticism of Obama’s or Clinton’s policy directions in favor of protecting tender feelings.