Saturday, February 16, 2008

The War Against Women

This was a sad week for women.

Not only were we treated to an increasing barrage against women in the campaign of hate against Hillary Clinton, but singer k.d. lang also revealed ongoing McCarthy-style blackballing of gay women.

k.d. said in an interview this week that after her song Constant Cravings became a commercial hit a few years ago, she came out as a lesbian and that was the end of her commercial success. She said advertisers instructed radio stations that they didn't want the song played. She never had another hit. k.d. was easy-going about the issue, saying that it was a blessing in disguise because her music never ended up in a car or toothpaste ad. But that's not the point: this is another high profile case of women being put down when they don't follow mainstream images of what women should be - sex objects for men. Had she been better looking or more feminine, she might have gotten away with coming out (gay women being a male fantasy). But mannish, chunky and gay: no way.

On the Hillary front, a tiny wee bit of backlash is starting against misogyny in the Democratic presidential race. Unfortunately, some of it is pretend criticism. Jake Tapper wrote Is Obama using sexist language?, but he doesn't try to make any serious case for his question. He references one rather inoffensive Obama quote ("the claws come out") and then reports on how "female TV reporters" are pushing the issue. The end result of his article is, I think, to dismiss the issue. The hate-filled comments (559 at time of writing) are more revealing than the article.

In Hillary sexism watch, Melissa McEwan documented 62 events from September 2007 to February 12, 2008 that raise questions about the misogyny of the US media. They aren't all examples that I would use, but it's an interesting recap of this troubling campaign.

Erica Jong, who has been plugging away trying to get people to see the war on women that this race has become, this week published Patriarchy:1000, Hillary:0, a summary of some of the misogyny she has witnessed in this campaign.

Jong ends, "I give up." Sometimes I feel that way too. But can we use our frustration? Can women and men who are sickened by what has happened to Hillary (and Geraldine Ferraro and Sheila Copps and others) channel our energy into making our political arena and our society a fairer place for women?


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