Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama's Acceptance Speech

I was really hoping that he'd do something for party unity and say something to the many women who are hurting from sexism in the primaries... at least acknowledge it, perhaps even promise to work to increase representation of women in government.

We're an issue that is not on the radar.



The Mound of Sound said...

Are you that bereft of reason that you cannot grasp that what Barack Obama did tonight powerfully united the Democratic Party? You sound like an agenda-driven extremist. Tonight wasn't about waning on about women's rights - or minority rights or any other rights - it was about taking on John McCain and making the American people optimistic and courageous enough to once again vote out of hope instead of, yet again, voting out of fear.

Relax. Take a deep breath and, finally, appreciate that your own cause was advanced by what happened tonight.

James Bow said...

I do recall acknowledgements of Hillary's campaign and of Bill's support. And I also recall at least a couple of statements about equal pay for work of equal value.

Scott Tribe said...

I get the feeling from reading your posts that there was nothing Obama could have said to make you happy.

Myself, I was in awe of the speech and what he said...which you might expect.. but I've seen lots of commentary elsewhere saying this was the best speech ever made at a US Presidential Convention.

Yappa said...

Hi mound, James and Scott -

Thanks for writing.

I think I was pretty clear that there was one thing I wanted to hear, which was a statement about the representation of women in politics and the need to improve it. I would have liked for him to also say something about sexism in the campaign but this was not really the time to do that (since it could be interpreted as his saying that he won because of it).

This is a huge issue that is renting the party in two after the treatment of women in the primaries. There were gay people looking for him to mention gay rights (and I'm glad he did), poor people looking for statements about anti-poverty, and on and on. Those political speeches are laundry lists of issues.

It's not about the Clintons and it's not about equal pay... it's about the gross under-representation of women in government. It's a huge, important issue and it has taken on timely importance because of the events of the last year.

Think of it from a local perspective... we have never had a female provincial premier in Canada. Do we have any female cabinet ministers now? We have a really low percentage of MPs. Women are simply not adequately represented in either Canada or the US.

This is what makes the sexism in the campaign important. Argue all you want about the various things that caused her defeat, but the sexist treatment of Hillary in the campaign was egregious. A woman running for president was not taken seriously because she's a woman.

I know, Obama got some bad treatment too, but allegations he's a Muslim are not clearly racist. He grew up in a Mulsim country and it's likely that a white candidate in those circumstances would have got the same treatment. There was very little overt ractism - no comparison to the tons of overt sexism.

As Robin Morgan wrote on Feb 2, "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?"

Why do I harp on the issue so much? Sometimes change doesn't happen unless we make it happen. Women have been promised better representation in government for decades (think of all those Liberal commissions and attempts). This primary season was a giant slap in the face to the cause of women in politics and it's important to decry it. If anyone had taken the issue seriously, it wouldn't be dividing the party and there wouldn't be a big chunk of ex-Hillary supporters who don't support Obama.

Anonymous said...

You're right, Yappa, a statement that he understood women's issues and their (lack of) representative in politics would have been nice. However, McCain's choice of a running mate, Sara Palin, disturbs me much more. It is as condescending to women and their issues as this patriarchy gets. To choose a woman with a lifetime membership in the NRA, who is known to hold "very conservative views" (read;:pro-life) who is at the present time herself or her administration under legislative investigation, is not simply just pandering to to the so-called disenfranchised women of Hillary's campaign, it is insulting that his advisors should think this, for sure, would bring them over to embrace a Republican ticket just because he put a woman on it. That to me is more insulting because it implies that women will vote for a woman without thought or any possible contemplation of the consequences of their vote, without any understanding whatsoever of politics.

Thank you Senator McCain for that less than tiny crumb thrown out to the women of the United States!!!!!

Yappa said...

To anonymous at 11:15 -

Hmm... I don't know anything about this Palin woman and I think it's still just a rumor that she'll be his pick for VP, but it won't insult me if he puts a woman on the ticket. I think a woman should be on every ticket, every time - just like Lebanon ensures representation of all its major religions.

It certainly isn't outrageous that he'd choose a right winger. Being so moderate himself he needs to pick a right winger, doesn't he? After all, he's trying to win as a Republican and a big part of the party is very right wing. It's amazing enough that he managed to get them to accept him.

I suspect that if McCain puts a woman on his ticket, Obama will be in trouble. A lot of Democratic women feel they've been slapped in the face and told to go back to the kitchen. We feel disenfrachised: not a part of the party. Unfortunately, the only major politico who decried the sexism was McCain.

It doesn't really matter if we disagree with the policy viewpoints of his VP pick; McCain has a long history as a moderate, and women might very well see that he's not more of the same.

I'm not saying I want him to win: I think his promise to nominate conservative judges is enough to see that his presidency would have terrible consequences. But if he picks a woman for veep, I think he might very well win.

Anonymous said...

Actually, it's no longer a rumour, Yappa. She's on the ticket but do you really contend that any woman will do, even one whose values are skewed. Remember these are often the women who go out of their way to ignore other women's concerns and often join organizations called "Real Women." 'Nuff said?

Yappa said...

Hi anonymous at 2:16 -

Well, I didn't expect to agree with her since she's on the Republican ticket. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Um... doesn't it strike you as a little ironic that you want special treatment regarding the issue of sexism in politics in Obama's speech?

Not trying to be mean or belittling here, but as a feminist myself I am getting frustrated with hearing so much whining about this issue. It's just as sexist to vote for a candidate because they're a woman as it is to vote for one because he's a man. And neither side (or their supporters) deserve special treatment.

Yappa said...

To anonymous at 4:58 -

Who the heck said anything about voting for someone just because she's a woman? That's not my policy at all. I don't always support women - for example, in the last Canadian Liberal leadership race I supported Bob Rae, despite the presence of female candidates. The only reason that I supported Hillary Clinton was that I thought she was the most qualified and would make the best president.

And how in the world can you call it "whining" to stand up for an important principle? Do you think suffragettes were "whiners"? Did you think Martin Luther King was a "whiner"? I can't just stand back after watching the first serious female candidate for president be publicly, repeatedly ridiculed for being female. I'm not going to just turn on the TV and go to sleep.

But thanks for your comment. ;-)

James Bow said...

"we have never had a female provincial premier in Canada"

Not to diminish your point, but Rita Johnston did run British Columbia briefly, and then presided over the collapse of Social Credit as a political force in the province.

Yappa said...

Hi James!

Thanks for the clarification. I wasn't sure how to check the stats on that and I racked my brains but couldn't think of an example.