Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sexism vs Racism

The other thing I tried to get DR. ELLE to elaborate on in regards to this historic presidential campaign are these so-called feminist Clinton supporters who are charging that sexism is the reason their candidate lost and that many of them will "defect" and vote for John McCain to "show" the Democratic party or teach us all a lesson. Huh?

How is it advancing the feminist cause to put a man in office who will, undoubtedly, place another ultra conservative on the Supreme Court during his time in office. The Supreme Court which is thisclose to repealing Roe v Wade. Isn't reproductive rights CENTRAL to the feminist cause. He is anti- almost everything the feminist cause speaks to, but because the Democrats somehow denied Hillary Clinton the nomination.....they are going to show us their considerable power and vote for John McCain? Because Barack Obama is soooooo different than Hillary? Besides a very slight difference on health care and a bigger difference in ideology on whether or not the POTUS should speak to our enemies, Clinton and Obama agree on about 98% of the issues. So what is the real reason not to vote for Obama in the fall if you are a Democrat or Independent Liberal who believes in Liberal/Democratic causes? Because he was an upstart who "took" her nomination from her? Who is really to blame for that?

Clinton was the de facto/presumed nominee up until January of this year. I was sure she'd win. I was sure no one would vote for Obama. But 18 million people did. The fact is, she had all the advantages when this thing started - 100% name recognition, her husband was a beloved Democratic president, she had the big money donors in her court - she had it all. So to say that she somehow lost because she is female is disingenuous. Were there people out there who would never vote for her simply because she's a woman? OF-COURSE there were. But so too were there those who would never vote for a black man. Was there blatant sexism in the way she was covered by the media. Absolutely. Having CNN commentators actually discuss whether it's okay to call her a bitch is astoundingly sexist and uncalled for. And yes the dumbasses of the world showed up to shout "Iron my shirt" and sell Hillary nutcrackers. But the dumbasses of the world are always going to be there. Did any of that cost her the nomination??? With all the advantages she had the notion doesn't add up.

So now there's this idea that "Bitch is the new Black" (per Tina Fey), in other words, sexism is the new "racism" and sexism is more acceptable than racism in this country today and in this campaign. Elle's already talked about how maddening it is to see it become a competition for who's more maligned and who has it worse. The two are not competing "isms". They both exist and they both are something that is deeply ingrained in this country.

As for this campaign and which has been "worse", for me it comes down to the source of the racism or sexism. In my opinion Clinton, her husband, her surrogates (like Ferraro) and her campaign were openly courting and touting the votes of people ("hard working white Americans)who clearly showed racial resentment (at best) towards Obama and made no efforts to dissuade the ignorance of her constituents who believed Obama wasn't one of them (i.e. "He's not a Muslim.....as far as I know). Where is the honor in that? Of-course she wanted their votes. So did Edwards - but at least publicly he said he wanted not part of people who were voting for him only because he is white and male. Obama, his wife, surrogates and campaign never openly courted the good ole boys by diminishing Clinton as a female. He did question her touted experience as First Lady and what she really did that qualified as experience, and I know that upset many, but I think that's legitimate when your opponent is saying they have experience and you don't. I don't see that as an attack on her for being female. So for me, openly courting and touting the racist vote and playing on fears of "outsiders" is what made racism trump sexism in this race.

Regardless of your opinion on who had it worse in this campaign, the underlying question is, why are these women willing to punish themselves by voting for John McCain to stick it to the media and other idiots who have been blatantly sexist when the candidate left standing in the Democratic party is completely on their side when it comes to the feminist cause? Clearly not all, or even a majority, of Clinton's supporters are saying this, but it's enough that the chatter is being heard, and pretty scary to me.

5 comments:

Mommy to Ander and Wife to Box said...

In the interest of full disclosure, I voted for Clinton in the primary. The deciding factor for me? I thought Obama was too young and needed a few years to peak. (I'm not sure I still think that. I had to cast my vote months ago, and have since been impressed again and again by his maturity.)

But the difference between the two, honestly, was paper-thin. I almost voted for him. I almost voted for her. For him. For her. For him. Finally, and ultimately, I voted for her.

And this time, when I cast my vote, it'll be for him.

But I have (white) family members who won't vote for him, purely due to race. They also wouldn't have voted for her, because of her gender. And they can't believe I go into work everyday and "play" attorney, because I'm a woman. Sigh. But I must say, the racist and the sexist members of my very large family ARE THE SAME PEOPLE. The very same people. It's not, to me, that sexism is the new racism. It's that the mindset and stupidity that fosters one of those situations also fosters the other.

I can't wait until that Tuesday in November. This white, Clinton-supporter will be giddy to become a female, Obama-supporter. The important thing is that I am voting for opportunity, and freedom, and civil rights, and justice, and peace.

I hope (and believe) that Barack Obama can bring us closer to my dream.

Kimberly said...

Mommy to ander...

You're right. Their differences are "paper thin" and it is absolutely legit to prefer one over the other on policy as well as on experience (his resume on the national level is thin - fact). But this notion that he stole the nomination when he won by all the metrics agreed upon before the race started is absurd.

Your point is well taken that the people who exhibit either of the isms are likely to exhibit the other. Discrimination is discrimination. This effort to somehow separate them and have them as competing components is not progressive at all.

Quinn said...

SO much AMEN to this. Both were good candidates. Both were maligned, and both survived. I think despite how ugly this all became, it will provide hope for future elections to see just how possible this all is.

Changeseeker said...

I hate to say it, but given what I know about White folks in this country, it looks to me like same ole racism is the new racism. Those women who are screaming they'll vote for McCain -- knowing what he will do to women's rights in this country -- sound seriously racist. Clinton said and did a number of things during the last several months that alienated me pretty severely. And don't get me wrong. I have a real problem, quite frankly, with some of the things Obama has felt "forced" to do lately, as well. No candidate's going to be perfect. But I still believe that Obama will be the better candidate between the two. He may have to court the good ole boys (both domestic and international), but the vibe I've gotten is that Clinton (woman or not) already IS a good ole boy. Aside from the fact that she's a woman (and believe me, at my age and with my history, I would have loved to see a woman as President that I was pretty sure would operate with a woman's Consciousness), I don't think she'd be radically different from a White male President. Will Obama bring us something new? I don't know. But at least there's the possibility.

JustMe said...

sing it sister! i am so on board with what you've said!

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