Thursday, January 10, 2008

Here’s my problem with much of the post-N.H. commentary with regard to the Clinton “victory.” Particularly, with third-wave “feminists” like Gloria Steinem, who wrote in the New York Times the day before the primary a gushing, grotesque article about HRC that made me briefly consider the wisdom of throwing up. (I did not.) Lemme pull it out of the trash bin, just a sec… here we go. January 8: “Women Are Never Front-Runners.”

Right out of the gate Steinem is playing the ‘gender card’ at full tempo, without any shame at all. The biggest illogic of the whole thing is the insinuation that opposing Hillary Clinton means I am opposing the advancement of women in politics. And that’s flat-out absurd. Yes, there is no question that women have it tougher, that they have a higher hurdle in the political arena, and that there are popular stereotypes they have to overcome. But that’s not the point: HRC is not as polarizing, unpopular and shrill and power-mad and self-congratulatory as she is because she’s a woman, but because she’s Hillary Clinton. It is actually, in a way, sexist of Steinem to suggest, ever so implicitly, that Clinton represents all women. No, not all women, but a subset of career-oriented women who are not really that interested in equality but more intent on shaming men into thinking they are automatically “sexist” or “misogynistic” because they oppose individuals like Hillary Clinton. In other words, it is sexist to argue that opposing her candidacy is perforce sexist.

Here’s Steinem: “I’m supporting Senator Clinton because like Senator Obama she has community organizing experience, but she also has more years in the Senate [not if you count Obama’s service as a state senator], an unprecedented eight years of on-the-job training…” Wait, stop, stop right there. On-the-job training? Are you kidding me? She is not getting hired; this is an election, not a job selection process. Steinem concludes that “[w]e”—i.e. women—“have to be able to say: ‘I’m supporting her because she’ll be a great president and because she’s a woman.’” (her emphasis) The first part is dubious at best, and the second is completely patronizing. It’s like saying that I support Joe Lieberman—and I certainly do not, for several reasons—because he’s Jewish. Just ridiculous.

NOTE: It is interesting to take a look at the letters published in Thursday’s Times. The best came from two men and two women writers (because, unlike the Steinem-type feminists I am interested in equality; there was a feminazi forum at my college some time ago, whose breakdown was three women speakers and the token guy).

Daniel Grossman of Clifton, NJ writes, “It is unfortunate that the Clintons continue to resort to this type of manipulation [Hillary had gotten a tad choked up the day before NH]. … Victimhood is not a sufficient criterion for being president.”

Karin Kimbrough adds: “As a black woman and a feminist, I find it depressing to see Gloria Steinem set up this tired, false debate as to whether a black man or a white woman is more disadvantaged in national politics. … My parents (who are Ms. Steinem’s age) vividly recall racism in the Deep South, including barriers to voting as well as the barriers to many other supposedly granted rights like eating in restaurants, staying in hotels and using public facilities. These were all rights white women actively enjoyed.” I’m reminded of the Carlin rant about how feminists like Steinem “don’t give a shit about black women’s problems, they don’t give a shit about Latino women, all they care about is their own reproductive freedom and their pocketbooks.” Then he goes on to agree about their characterization of men as moral monsters and how it’s terrible that women “put on a man-tailored suit with shoulder pads” and “imitate the worst habits of men”—like, tada! Hillary Clinton!

But I digress. Phillip Ruland from Laguna Beach (CA) chips in with the fair-minded sentiment that “such a self-regarding emotional display”—I believe a good paraphrase can be something like “oh, look I’m about to cry, can’t you see how you should agree that I’m entitled to be your leader?”—“is hardly the type of character trait one desires to see in a presidential candidate—man or woman.” And Marilyn Kiss of Staten Island writes that she has been “firmly in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s camp” until she cast a vote in favor of authorization of use of force against Iraq in 2002. “For me,” Ms. Kiss—couldn’t help it, sorry—“international peace trumps national feminism, since it also takes into consideration the lives of women and girls in Baghdad and beyond.” Need I repeat what Carlin said?

Alas, we cannot expect everyone to be levelheaded, male or female. This is Carolyn Kirkland of Fort Worth, Texas, who makes this asinine statement: “Gloria Steinem ... may have ... helped turn an election. I am amazed at how many of my women friends e-mailed her Op-Ed article to their friends because she put into words what so many of us feel in our bones.” Oh, how long, oh Lord, how long?

[Addendum, Jan. 11: in her 1983 book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions Gloria Steinem made the ominous foreshadowing, “One day, an army of gray-haired women may quietly take over the earth” (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, p. 218), er, the Democratic nomination.]

(Photo credit Zombie/AP)

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