Thursday, January 10, 2008

A response to Steinem (on Clinton).

Nope, it's not mine. Go here. Excerpts:

"Yesterday morning, Gloria Steinem, influential second-wave feminist, weighed in at the New York Times with an opinion piece titled “Women Are Never Front-Runners”. I guess we can tell where she stands in this debate.

(Incidentally, if women are never front-runners, than how did Clinton get as far as she did on the “inevitable pseudo-incumbent” campaign she’s been running that made her the front-runner for most of last year? I find the headline of this piece to be a wee bit of hyperbole.)"


"Though she writes, 'I’m not advocating a competition for who has it toughest', Steinem opens her article with the observation that 'gender is probably the most restricting force in American life'. She continues by implying that the race barrier has largely been resolved, because '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'."


"Steinem further suggests that negative treatment (or impossible expectations) of Senator Hillary Clinton stem exclusively from a sexism 'as pervasive as the air we breathe'. She notes that a fictional Achola Obama (who, unlike Senator Obama, doesn’t seem to have achieved anything more than state legislator) would not be seen as electable while Senator Barack Obama – by virtue of his gender, says Steinem – is. Not only does this ignore the very 'un-electable Obama' argument that has been a core component of Clinton’s stump speeches, but Steinem carelessly paints all criticisms of Senator Clinton with the same sexist brush. She notes 'Clinton could not have used Mr. Obama’s public style – or Bill Clinton’s either – without being considered too emotional by Washington pundits'. But, Hillary Clinton has tried: notably in Selma, Alabama earlier this year, when Clinton and Obama delivered back-to-back speeches in neighbouring churches. Obama’s speech was generally heralded as rousing and inspiring. Clinton’s was not criticized as being 'too emotional', but too robotic and fake. In fact, I suspect that Clinton can’t get away with Obama’s or Clinton’s style of speaking not because she’s a woman, but because she’s simply not that charismatic a speaker."

Oh, and if you go over to read the whole thing, skip the comment that completely and utterly misses the point...

And while we're at it, check this out: Hillary isn't the first woman to run for President. I can't believe I forgot about Shirley Chisholm (embarrassed).


Jeff in Buenos Aires said...

Maybe someday the U.S. will be like Argentina where the top 2 candidates in the recent presidential election were both women.

But, despite that, Argentina is still an extremely sexist country where women in the workplace are expected to fetch coffee for their bosses and sexual harassment is rampant.

I'm not sure how to reconcile the difference about the lack of sexism in national elections but extreme sexism everywhere else.

Plain(s)feminist said...

Huh. Interesting. This reminds me of how American racism was once described to me in terms of North and South. Whites in the South don't care how close Blacks get as long as they don't get too high; Whites in the North don't care how high Blacks get as long as they don't get too close.