Sunday, May 25, 2008

More on pseudo-feminism.

The big topic on Meet the Press today was that Hillary came out and said yes, there is still sexism in the US:

"The idea that we would have a presidential campaign in which so much of what has occurred that has been very sexist would be just shrugged off I think is a very unfortunate commentary about the lack of seriousness that should be applied to any kind of discrimination or prejudice."

And Meet the Press, led by Maureen Dowd, shrugged it off once again.

They're criticizing how Hillary ran her campaign, and okay that's fair. It could be argued that she's losing because she made some bad decisions.

But aside from whether it's the cause of her winning or losing, they're discounting all the sexist things people have said in discussing the idea of women in positions of leadership. Because Hillary's out there on the frontlines, she's a very public target, and it has brought some of these sentiments into the spotlight.

But she can't even talk about it without getting criticized.

Another guest on the show, David Brody (whom I now realize is from the Christian Broadcasting Network, so it makes more sense) said she was being "whiny."

And girls, we all know what word usually follows the word "whiny" when applied to women (!).

How's that for ingrained sexism? Just think about that for a minute. Just the fact that we can all fill in that second word says a helluva lot about our culture.

The very fact that everyone refuses to talk about it, a friend pointed out, just underscores that sexism is still a very controversial topic. Until we can start to talk about it, maybe even joke about it, sexism is not going to go away. When the prevailing sentiment is one of denial, there's not much hope for progress.

One of the main arguments Maureen Dowd used was that white working-class men voted for Hillary rather than Obama. And therefore, she concluded, there is no sexism.

This is just illogical.

This fact alone does not mean that sexism is dead. On the contrary.

Women are sexist too. Just because a man has daughters does not automatically make him sensitive to this issue. Our own grandmothers are sexist, our own parents, our own sisters.

There were 4 women on the panel today, out of 6 panelists (+ Tim Russert makes 7 people).

Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post tried to put a positive spin on disagreeing with Maureen Dowd, but it was just lame. But at least she gets points for trying.

Shame on Doris Kearns Goodwin for not saying anything about this. I guess she doesn't know or care what kinds of things some of us experience on an almost-daily basis? I don't know much about her, but I'm not impressed.

And Gwen Ifill has always been someone I've admired, but not today. Why didn't she say anything? Anything at all?

My favorite part of the show was watching how uncomfortable Jon Meacham looked (editor of Newsweek). I'm sure he can't express any personal endorsements or strong opinions. I don't think you get to do that in his position. He tried to say something, but it was just as lame as what Ruth Marcus said, just wishy-washy and politically correct. So in other words, empty.

We need someone a lot stronger to stand up to Maureen Dowd, and publicly. I'm not sure who would be the appropriate opponent. Right now I'm watching America's Next Top Model and thinking I'd love to see Tyra Banks face off with her.

I see people like Maureen and think, wow, I would love to see them walk around in my shoes for a while. I would love to see Maureen Dowd try it. Maybe I could learn a thing or two; maybe she could too. A Freaky-Friday type trade would be quite interesting. Here's someone who on the one hand has been undermining Hillary's campaign all along, and on the other hand is now saying that Hillary let us down, that she's not a feminist.

Maureen Dowd is not my kind of feminist. And I want to know who elected her our representative? She doesn't speak for me.

I guess my point is, how sad is it when I find a show like America's Next Top Model more feminist-friendly than most of the news media?

And I'm glad that Hillary said something about the sexism. If nothing else, it makes me feel a little better. Even someone as obviously strong and tenacious as Hillary finds it hard not to let it get her down sometimes.

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At 11:05 AM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

In response to the comment I deleted that ranted on and on without apparently having actually read the post, I quote the following from the above post:

aside from whether it's the cause of her winning or losing

At 10:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've also been struck by the sexism, but I've also been struck by how terrible Hillary's campaign is, how sleazy she is, and what a crappy politician she is. And I'm starting to hate Bill too. (and yes I am a mid-career female scientist and I don't want a lecture about voting for her.)

I think part of the issue is that we still seem to default to criticizing women in sexist terms instead of specific terms, probably because femaleness is still a stand-out feature, which is sad. There is plenty to legitimately critize about Hillary... and yet what do we get? Comments about the clothes, the hair, the cleavage, the 'stridency', blah blah. It's really interesting to see which men end up coming out and criticizing her in those (sexist) terms, and how they don't realize that actually they are getting the hackles up of ALL women by that approach, even those of us who don't happen to prefer Hillary. If anything I find it unfortunate that Hillary is, in fact, a pathetic opportunist and against most of what I stand for, on top of making her outrageous comments and refusing to put this 'moving goalposts' campaign to rest.. because what it does it muddy the waters and make it less clear how much is sexism and how much is her. If we had a less distasteful candidate the (inevitable) sexism part would be a lot more cut and dry, and I think it could have provided a better learning experience for this country. As it stands there is always the shadow of hte doubt because of who she is personally.

At 10:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm an Obama supporter, 40-ish female, and I have been appalled by the tone of the coverage that Hilary's campaign has received.

Not having cable myself, I don't see this stuff first hand, I just read about it later. It's one of those tricky things-not anti-woman per se, just anti-Hilary, but using very misogynistic language to vilify her. It's been ugly.

Criticize Hilary on her politics and her policies if you will, but her cackle, her cleavage, and her alleged "pimping"!!!! of her daughter (did I miss something-when did it become OK to say pimping on TV news?) are below the belt and should have inspired some negative reaction by some male and female Dem big wigs. And they do serve to drive home the point that the comfort zone for women politicians behavior is hopelessly narrow. Oh, I know, Edwards got shit for being pretty and getting expensive haircuts, and this may signal a limit to how good looking our male politicians really can be without being called a faggot, but I can see how a lot of the Hilary stuff not focused on anything she said or voted for or proposed is pushing the feminsts' buttons.

And it is a distraction. The Clinton campaign is behaving appallingly and they are gearing for a power grab that could ruin the Dem's chances in what should be a cake-walk election. For that she and they have rightly earned the anger of many Democrats, both voters and party fat cats. But this focus on her cleavage and her pimping makes all Hilary-hatred look misogynistic. And it rallies many women to her defense, causing them to dig in, threaten to vote for McCain (WTF with that!!), and direct their anger at the most likely nominee. I have to say that after Iowa, when I was so happy about Obama, I was bothered by the sheer glee that these cable news blowhards displayed as they wagged their dicks in Hilary's face. It would not have changed my vote, but I'm not all that inspired by identity politics anway. My 60-s feminist aunt and her friends just go apeshit when they hear this. I can't say I blame them, with all they have had to put up with in their lives.

I'd like to think that another woman candidate would not have the Hilary problem. I really would. But I guess it will be a while before we know for sure.

At 11:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate the comments by "anonymous" and "anonymous". I am a professor of feminist and gender studies, and though I didn't follow the early campaign closely, I definitely see several levels of sexism.

I don't, however, think that Maureen Dowd was saying there has been *no* sexism - after listening to her, and re-reading several articles by her, I think she was saying that the sexism out there didn't hurt Hillary. She pointed to the fact that, going in to Iowa, Hillary had twice as many votes and nearly three times as much money as the leading male candidate.

Dowd's point -- which is well taken by this feminist -- is that while she had a lead early on, the more we see of Hillary, the less we like her. At the onset of the primaries, I personally felt that a Hillary/Bill/Wes Clark ticket would be just fine, though I preferred Kucinich, Obama, Edwards, and Richardson, all of whom have better voting records on choice and women's issues.

However, now, after seeing the mudslinging, dirty tricks, and sleeze coming from Hillary, I would be horrified if somehow she became the candidate, and I would actually campaign against her. She is absolutely doing a disservice to feminism. She has confused "sleeze" with feminine power, as she and Bill pull no punches, and please remember that these historically masculine, Karl Rove-style tactics are what got us into our current mess - they will not get us out of our mess as well. Her campaign has definitely been about *her*, not women, and certainly not helping us decide which candidate would be the best public servant in light of the numerous environmental and economic crises we face today.

I do, however, believe that her campaign has helped pave the way for future female candidates. And, one can always hope that Obama fill his cabinet (or even the VP chair) with a strong woman.

At 12:51 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

she was saying that the sexism out there didn't hurt Hillary

First of all, I don't think anyone can say that for sure.

But more importantly, it's hurt THE REST OF US.

the more we see of Hillary, the less we like her

The point is it's not supposed to be about whether we like her or not.

Her campaign has definitely been about *her*, not women

As well it should be! Obama's campaign isn't about black people, is it? It's about HIM.

I preferred Kucinich, Obama, Edwards, and Richardson, all of whom have better voting records on choice and women's issues

I don't think that's quite true. Obama definitely has been voting for parental notification laws. That's voting against choice.

I do, however, believe that her campaign has helped pave the way for future female candidates.

I think that's a cop-out. When are we going to get a female candidate that everybody "LIKES" enough?

When sexism goes away, is my guess. So in other words, not any time soon.

At 8:30 PM, Anonymous JR said...

The claims of sexism are completely baseless. Hillary lost because:

1. As a Clinton she thought she was entitled to the nomination.

2. She initially saw no major threat. Obama was a novelty that would never get out of Iowa. Edwards is too liberal.

3. She assumed she would have the nomination by Super Tuesday and as a result had no campaign plan for the following primaries.

4. She demonstrated poor financial management.

5. Her campaign did not find focus until it was too late.

Let's just face it, she got beat. Someone else wanted it more than she did.

But ladies, don't cry foul because she lost. That just endorses the novelty of a woman running for President. Instead, celebrate her successes, her unbelievable fundraising and her perseverance. The first woman candidate may not reach the office, but there will be more opportunities for women in the future and they will be better candidates.

The fact that we have a minority of global heritage and a woman seriously challenging the established Republican base signifies to me that the doors are wide open for any legitimate candidate to run for higher office and not be excluded because of race or gender. It's not a white guy's game anymore. The increased competition with an open pool will only bring superior candidates.

So ladies, think big picture. Hillary will have her place in American history. She can continue her career as the senior Senator from NY and have impact and influence on American policy. Who knows, there may be something even larger than that, Sec. of State, VP, Justice, who knows. But rest assured that there will be other women, and they will be stronger candidates. The face of American politics is changing and it is changing for the better. I genuinely believe that we are heading toward another American Renaissance. 25 years from now we will look back and realize that it all started with this election.

At 2:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the record, Shirley Chisholm ran in 1972. She is a black woman. She wasn't a "major" candidate, in that she was never a front runner, in fact rarely registered more than a percentage or two, but man, that lady has some dignity. There's an excellent documentary on her historic run, called "Shirley Chishlm '72: Unbought and Unbossed" that I highly recommend.

She never whined.

At 2:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama has "100% pro-choice" rating from Planned Parenthood.


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