Election and Feminism II (updated)

Ah. This is the first entry I had written with respect to this topic and I notice I promised to elaborate when more sober. Well, that’s obviously not going to happen tonight, no sir. But I did find a short but interesting and very readable op ed in the NY Times, which I will shamelessly quote the best parts of now, but do please read the whole piece, as the author’s making some more valid points fully worth your attention.

Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life, whether the question is who must be in the kitchen or who could be in the White House. This country is way down the list of countries electing women and, according to one study, it polarizes gender roles more than the average democracy.


So why is the sex barrier not taken as seriously as the racial one? The reasons are as pervasive as the air we breathe: because sexism is still confused with nature as racism once was; because anything that affects males is seen as more serious than anything that affects “only” the female half of the human race; because children are still raised mostly by women (to put it mildly) so men especially tend to feel they are regressing to childhood when dealing with a powerful woman; because racism stereotyped black men as more “masculine” for so long that some white men find their presence to be masculinity-affirming (as long as there aren’t too many of them); and because there is still no “right” way to be a woman in public power without being considered a you-know-what.


But what worries me is that he is seen as unifying by his race while she is seen as divisive by her sex.

What worries me is that she is accused of “playing the gender card” when citing the old boys’ club, while he is seen as unifying by citing civil rights confrontations.

What worries me is that male Iowa voters were seen as gender-free when supporting their own, while female voters were seen as biased if they did and disloyal if they didn’t.

What worries me is that reporters ignore Mr. Obama’s dependence on the old — for instance, the frequent campaign comparisons to John F. Kennedy — while not challenging the slander that her progressive policies are part of the Washington status quo.

You, my dear readers, see me equally worried about these things. Of course, the author’s simplifying the situation, race has played a major role for instance in discussions of Oprah’s involvement in the campaign. But it’s an op-ed, not an academic essay. And broadly speaking, she’s right. And we do have cause for worry.

PS. Fresh off the NYT Caucus blog which I’ve been monitoring tonight while reading and drinking are these oddly fitting statements:

Our colleage, Michael Powell, sends this in from Clinton HQ: “In the end, the tear was almost a galvanizing moment. It shook a couple of voters of their mental fence and solidified others in support of Mrs. Clinton. Elaine Marquis, a receptionist from Manchester, went back and forth, but she was leaning to Mrs. Clinton when that moment came. Someone asked a personal question and the candidates eyes misted. “I think it was absolutely wonderful,” Mrs. Marquis said. “Women finally saw a woman. Perhaps a tough woman but a woman with a gentle heart.”

Jim Neilsen, a 68-year-old retired sociology professor, has been in the Clinton camp for months. He said that voters are finally seeing a woman who has real emotions. “It did not bother me, I loved it,” he said. “I was moved.”

PPS. Even fresher off the same blog, please look at this picture. It could very easily be used as an illustration of the op-ed, couldn’t it?


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