Clintonian Feminism

Maureen Dowd spake thusly

The Wall Street Journal reported back in March that some women were worried that “the resistance to Senator Clinton may embolden some men to resist women’s efforts to share power with them in business, politics and elsewhere.”

It’s a reasonable fear. Every fizzy triumph of feminism I have covered — Geraldine Ferraro’s selection, the Anita Hill hearings, Hillary’s co-presidency — ended up triggering awful backlashes. In the end, feminism sputtered out as a force.

Hillary has brought back that old feminist religion, at least for now.

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Race & Gender

Maureen Dowd points to a fascinating, -if saddening- case of (overcoming?) race and gender and the consequence of that.

Barack Obama is going to get down if it kills him.

[…] Checking out what the vets were drinking, he announced, “I’m going to have a Bud.” Then, showing he’s a smart guy who can learn and assimilate, he took big swigs from his beer can, a marked improvement on the delicate sip he took at a brewery in Bethlehem, Pa.

Obama is also doing his best to impress hoop-crazed Hoosiers with his passion for basketball. On Thursday night, in shirt and tie, he took on an eighth grader named Aaron at a backyard picnic in Union Mills in an impromptu game of P-I-G. “You know, he’s tough,” Obama laughed about his 14-year-old opponent. “He’s like Hillary Clinton.”

The lioness of Chappaqua is hot on the trail of the Chicago gazelle, eager to gnaw him to pieces, like a harrowing scene out of a George Stubbs painting.

Proclaiming that the upcoming elections in Indiana and North Carolina would be “a game changer,” Hillary and her posse pressed hard on their noble twin themes of emasculation and elitism.

Cherry-bombing the word “pansy” into the discourse, Gov. Mike Easley of North Carolina said Hillary made “Rocky Balboa look like a pansy.”

Paul Gipson, president of a steelworkers local in Portage, Ind., hailed her “testicular fortitude,” before ripping into “Gucci-wearing, latte-drinking, self-centered, egotistical people that have damaged our lifestyle.”

James Carville helpfully told Eleanor Clift of Newsweek that if Hillary gave Obama one of her vehicles of testicular fortitude, “they’d both have two.”

and later

Obama, on the other hand, may seem esoteric, and sometimes looks haughty or put-upon when he should merely offer that ensorcelling smile. But he is very well liked by his Secret Service agents, and shoots hoops with them. And I watched him take the time one night after a long day of campaigning to stand and take individual pictures with a squadron of Dallas motorcycle police officers on the tarmac.

It must be hard for Obama, having applied all his energy over the years to rising above the rough spots in his background, making whites comfortable with him, striving to become the sophisticated, silky political star who looks supremely comfortable in a tux. Now he must go into reverse and stoop to conquer with cornball photo ops.

Democrats campaigning like Republicans

Reading HST’s 1972 campaign notes, I have to think of remarks as in this Dowd column. Here’s Thompson on covering Ed Muskie:

That scene was pure Nixon – so much like a pep rally set at a Young Republican Club that I was reminded of a conversation I’d had earlier with a reporter from Atlanta. “You know,” he said. “It’s taken me half the goddamn day to figure out what it is that bothers me about these people.” He nodded toward a group of clean-cut young Muskie staffers at the other end of the car. “I’ve covered a lot of Democratic campaigns,” he continued. “But I’d never felt out of place before […].”
“I know what you mean,” I said.
“Sure,” he said. “It’s obvious – and I’ve finally figured out why.” He chuckled and looked at the Muskie people again. “You know what it is?” he said. “It’s because these people act like goddamned Republicans! That’s the problem. It took me a while but I finally figured it out.”

from Hunter S. Thompson’s incredible Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72

"McNasty"

Maureen Dowd on McCain

John McCain’s saucy mother says her boy was always a scamp and a hell-raiser. And one of the senator’s great charms is that he wore those appellations proudly.

So it was quite disheartening Thursday to see a McCain spokeswoman telling The Associated Press, in a story about how Cindy McCain helped her husband’s political career bloom with her multimillion-dollar fortune from the family beer business, that the senator is a virtual teetotaler.

“Senator McCain rarely, if ever, drinks alcohol,” Jill Hazelbaker averred.

McCain’s pals know him as a man who enjoys libations of vodka with little green cocktail olives. Over the years, at dinners with reporters, I noted he had the habit of ordering one double vodka and sipping it slowly. And there was that famous Hillary-McCain Estonian drink-off in 2004, when Hillary instigated a vodka shot contest and McCain agreed with alacrity (even though he later offered a sketchy denial).

Maybe now that he’s the presumptive Republican nominee, his campaign wants to put his vices in a vise and sanitize the wild side of the man whose nicknames in high school were “Punk,” “Nasty” and “McNasty.”

*cracking up*

Don’t mention the war!

The wonderful Maureen Dowd last week:

Pressed about race on a Philly radio sports show, where he wanted to talk basketball, he called his grandmother “a typical white person, who, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn’t know, well there’s a reaction that’s in our experiences that won’t go away and can sometimes come out in the wrong way.”

Obama might be right, but he should stay away from the phrase “typical white person” because typically white people don’t like to be reminded of their prejudices. It also undermines Obama’s feel-good appeal in which whites are allowed to transcend race because the candidate himself has transcended race.

Well said.

Election and Feminism IV (rant)

It’s not yet clear which prejudice will infect the presidential contest more — misogyny or racism.

Well. I have written on this topic thrice before. This is a difficult issue. Both the racial as well as the gender divide appear to be at work here and both blacks as well as women have repeatedly complained of expectations of loyalty to Obama/Clinton based on their gender/race. For those weirdos who think like that the situation of black women appeared to be particularly fascinating. CNN reports

Within minutes of posting a story on CNN’s homepage called “Gender or race: Black women voters face tough choices in South Carolina,” readers reacted quickly and angrily.
Readers want media to focus more on the candidates and how they feel about the issues not their gender or race.
Many took umbrage at the story’s suggestion that black women voters face “a unique, and most unexpected dilemma” about voting their race or their gender.
CNN received dozens of e-mails shortly after posting the story, which focuses largely on conversations about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama that a CNN reporter observed at a hair salon in South Carolina whose customers are predominantly African-American.
[…]
An e-mailer named Tiffany responded sarcastically: “Duh, I’m a black woman and here I am at the voting booth. Duh, since I’m illiterate I’ll pull down the lever for someone. Hm… Well, he black so I may vote for him… oh wait she a woman I may vote for her… What Ise gon’ do? Oh lordy!”

For a while it appeared as if voters were divided along two tough lines of bigotry, so that, for instance, analysis seemed to show that whole ethnic or racial groups could be expected to vote for/against Obama because of his race and because of his race only. see for example this early February analysis:

Yesterday’s primary voting laid bare a profound racial and ethnic divide among Democratic voters, with African Americans overwhelmingly preferring Sen. Barack Obama and Latinos largely favoring Sen. Hillary Clinton.

In this discussion Bill Clinton’s infamous remarks fit squarely:

Clinton reminded reporters out of the blue that “Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice, in ’84 and ’88. And he ran a good campaign. And Senator Obama’s run a good campaign here. He’s run a good campaign everywhere.”

This is of course as close to a slur as Clinton could allow himself to get. And everyone noticed the inappropriateness of this remark and of similar remarks, even Internet comedians mostly stayed away from that, unless the souce was downright hostile to Obama’s campaign. Putting down Obama because of his race wasn’t permissible.

However, it seemed easily permissible to riff on Hillary’s gender. Comparing her to Tracy Flick, for example, as in this collage, or discussing endlessly the degree to which Hillary Clinton is feminine enough and whether her tears have won her New Hampshire, and no, it’s not suddenly a better idea just because the Clintons embraced it themselves after winning. In case you’re interested, here‘s a piece that explains the difference between the polls and the surprising outcome.

If this post sounds confused, well, that’s because the whole issue has become really strange. On the one hand the racist hatred that tricks even pollsters and then, on the other hand, stuff like this:

In a webcast, prestidigitator Penn Jillette talks about a joke he has begun telling in his show. He thinks the thunderous reaction it gets from audiences shows that Hillary no longer has a shot.

The joke goes: “Obama is just creaming Hillary. You know, all these primaries, you know. And Hillary says it’s not fair, because they’re being held in February, and February is Black History Month. And unfortunately for Hillary, there’s no White Bitch Month.”

This last quote, as well as the quote at the beginning of this muddled post is taken from an insightful article by Maureen Dowd, which doesn’t answer that question though.

So. Where are we? To clear this up: no, I am not telling people to vote for the person who is most discriminated against. That’s absurd.

No, this is about the astonishing extent to which misogyny has become a part of our culture. Or (to turn again) is it about misogyny? To a certain extent, sure. Many of the journalistic instincts, how to ‘explain’ results best, are more or less sexist and insulting. Yet, as Stanley Fish has pointed out here and here, Hillary Clinton-hating contains elements of sexism but is an all-out attack on her person and that of her husband. So, isn’t it about sexism after all?

I am, again, not so sure. The fact that she has become such a widely hated person has to do with anti-Clintonianism that simmered still in the public. However, that does not explain the vehemence, the furor, which accompagnies these Anti-Clinton attacks these days. It just doesn’t. I say her gender is not the only but it is the central part of Hillary-bashing. And the worst thing about this is the fact that it is not recognized as offensive, especially compared with racism. Dowd relates an interesting anecdote:

Elaine Sirkis, 77, an Obama supporter, confided that she just isn’t sure she’s ready for a woman president. Betty Conway, 83, a Hillary supporter, confided that she just isn’t sure she’s ready for a black president.

As Conway walked away, Sirkis smiled sheepishly. “I’m sorry,” she told Berman sweetly about her friend. “She’s a bigot.”

I am pretty sure that this situation is not reversible. Isn’t that sad? Misogyny is still normal, a smaller offence, good clean fun, as they say. Boys will be boys. Ah doesn’t it make you want to puke?

Not connecting with the Orient?

Hey, maybe it’s my extensive study of Orientalism four months past but does this statement by Marc Foster, the director of the film adaptation of The Kite Runner, in a recent NY Times article, strike anybody else as odd?

The film’s director, Marc Forster, whose credits include “Finding Neverland” (2004), another film starring child actors, said he saw “The Kite Runner” as “giving a voice and a face to people who’ve been voiceless and faceless for the last 30 years.” Striving for authenticity, he said, he chose to make the film in Dari, an Afghan language, and his casting agent, Kate Dowd, held open calls in cities with sizable Afghan communities, including Fremont, Calif., Toronto and The Hague. But to no avail: Mr. Forster said he “just wasn’t connecting with anybody.”

He’s kinda providing his own commentary, isn’t he? I need to read Orientalism again, methinks.