Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Some Thoughts on Women in Politics

On a personal level, the distressing thing to me about the campaign of hate against Hillary is that it appears that the hatred is directed at women in general and is aimed at keeping women down. There is a rising tide of concern among women about this campaign, but it is no longer clear that there will be time to do anything about it before it achieves its dirty end to stop her political ambitions. Here are a few takes on the subject...

Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir rose through party ranks and war, positioning themselves as proto-male leaders. Almost all other female heads of government so far have been related to men of power—granddaughters, daughters, sisters, wives, widows: Gandhi, Bandaranike, Bhutto, Aquino, Chamorro, Wazed, Macapagal-Arroyo, Johnson Sirleaf, Bachelet, Kirchner, and more. Even in our "land of opportunity," it’s mostly the first pathway "in" permitted to women: Reps. Doris Matsui and Mary Bono and Sala Burton; Sen. Jean Carnahan . . . far too many to list here.
- Robin Morgan on the Woman's Media Center

[Hillary] is, to [Republican Hillary-haters], an empty vessel into which they can pour everything they detest about politicians, ambitious women, and an American culture they fear is being wrested from their control.

"Some of it is related to the truth that, as Hillary says, she and Bill Clinton have defeated what she calls the right-wing machine," says Carl Bernstein, author of A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Bernstein... says that the Clintons rudely stirred Republicans from their dream of perpetually occupying the White House, which seemed plausible after the Reagan revolution. Many hold her responsible, first, for beating them with her role in Bill Clinton’s War Room, and then for supporting her wounded husband during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
- Jason Horowitz in GQ Magazine

I first became aware of a Hillary backlash when she began working on the Clinton healthcare plan in 1993. Hard to believe that was 15 years ago, but looking at that plan now, even if you disagree with it, you have to admit it was a bold and pioneering step toward addressing one of the major issues of our time. Almost immediately, the cry of, "Who does she think she is?" went up all across the airwaves.

From then on, the narrative on Hillary Clinton was set. Every misogynistic cliché in the book was applied to her. Some at least bothered to mask this with an ostensible concern about her not having been elected, but that was a thin veil indeed. Of course, her plan was defeated by the Republicans and the health insurance industry, and labeled a failure in the press.

Since then, she has weathered a never-ending tsunami of scrutiny and criticism and hate from every quarter. ...History will record those who smeared her with misogyny as clowns.
- Tommy Christopher, AOL News

Young political Kennedys - Kathleen, Kerry, and Bobby Jr. - all endorsed Hillary. Senator Ted, age 76, endorsed Obama. If the situation were reversed, pundits would snort "See? Ted and establishment types back her, but the forward-looking generation backs him."
- Robin Morgan on the Woman's Media Center

Respected political commentators devote precious network time to deep analyses of her laugh. Everyone blames her for what her husband does or for what he doesn’t do. (This is what the compound "Billary" is all about.) If she answers questions aggressively, she is shrill. If she moderates her tone, she’s just play-acting. If she cries, she’s faking. If she doesn’t, she’s too masculine. If she dresses conservatively, she’s dowdy. If she doesn’t, she’s inappropriately provocative.
- Stanley Fish in the New York Times

This is not "Clinton hating," not "Hillary hating." This is sociopathic woman-hating. If it were about Jews, we would recognize it instantly as anti-Semitic propaganda; if about race, as KKK poison. Hell, PETA would go ballistic if such vomitous spew were directed at animals. Where is our sense of outrage—as citizens, voters, Americans?
- Robin Morgan on the Woman's Media Center

I support Hillary Rodham because she’s the best qualified of all candidates running in both parties. I support her because her progressive politics are as strong as her proven ability to withstand what will be a massive right-wing assault in the general election. I support her because she knows how to get us out of Iraq. I support her because she’s refreshingly thoughtful, and I’m bloodied from eight years of a jolly "uniter" with ejaculatory politics. I needn’t agree with her on every point. I agree with the 97 percent of her positions that are identical with Obama’s—and the few where hers are both more practical and to the left of his (like health care). I support her because she’s already smashed the first-lady stereotype and made history as a fine senator, because I believe she will continue to make history not only as the first US woman president, but as a great US president.

As for the "woman thing"?

Me, I’m voting for Hillary not because she’s a woman - but because I am.
- Robin Morgan on the Woman's Media Center


1 comment:

tom s. said...

Thanks for these posts, and also for the Robin Morgan link - definitely one of my heroes. Obviously I don't get a vote down south but your blogging on the democratic campaign has been great to read. The ways in which feminist perspectives have been dismissed in this campaign have been eye opening.