Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Election 08
For the most part, I am pumped about this primary season. I am loving the activity, the speeches, the frequency of debates and primaries. But, as always, there are a few things I'm not so keen on.

Last night, MSNBC's coverage of the "gender war" was nauseating. Throw stuff at my television nauseating. Let me break this down--(a) it doesn't matter if Hillary's tears were calculated any more than it matters if Edwards' "son of a mill worker" is calculated. The press does not spend half as much time worrying about what the male candidates calculate and don't calculate. But throw a little emotion and some ovaries into the race and all holy hell breaks loose. It reeks of sexism and it certainly showcases the oppression that Clinton still faces. She is damned if she does and damned if she doesn't. She doesn't show enough emotion or she shows too much emotion. Feminists like to call that a double bind. If a person has NO OPTION, they are oppressed. (b) Hillary won a lot of female votes. YES. She also won more registered democrats than Obama and Edwards. But the press doesn't talk about that. Instead, they debate the merits of her tears among female voters. Did her burst of emotion attract some female voters? Sure! Did it attract male voters? Probably! Did her burst of emotion turn off male and female voters? Probably! When the pundits turn all female voters into a monolith, they do them a disservice. Women are no more likely to be fooled by "calculated" campaign techniques than men. Are some women more likely to vote for Clinton because she is a woman? It seems that many over 65 are. But there is no proof that any other female demographic is. It is possible that the people who voted for her like her politics. Or maybe even like her! In fact, it appears that highly educated women are ambivalent about Clinton's sex. One thing is possible--[women?] voters look at how Clinton is being treated (i.e. a man coming to her speech with an "iron my shirt" sign) and are pissed off. When people are pissed off, they vote. Further, why aren't we hearing about the "men showing up for Obama?" Why don't we have a racial breakdown of voters? (It could be, I suppose, that there are no people of color in NH. But I suspect it is deeper than that.) Sexism clothed in political clothing. We need to stop treating female candidates and female voters as novelties. Is Clinton's campaign a huge step for females? Yes. But more importantly it may be a huge step forward for the country. Just as Obama's is. Just as Romney's is.

If Georgia had a primary, I would be voting for Edwards. I'm not a Clinton supporter. Despite having the same sex organs, I don't have the same politics. However, I do have a brain and a conscious...and they are telling the media to shut the hell up. I'm assuming that most of us can recognize that talking about Clinton's clothing, hairstyle, beauty is out of line. Most of us can probably see the amount of times the media uses her first name while using a more official title for the male candidates and shake our head. I'm just hoping that more of us realize other more covert instances of sexism.

On a lighter note...do you think that I only love the idea of caucusing because I don't have to do it? A teeny part of me wished I lived in Iowa so I could go to a town hall meeting and stand in Edwards' corner.

For more Clinton analysis see....
Kos (particularly interesting as Kos is no Clinton lover) and Steinem

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4 Comments:

Blogger bethany said...

I am really annoyed by all the sexist business too, and the fact that people are using the terms "manipulative" and "calculating" as though they only apply to Clinton. Newsflash: all campaigns are calculated. It REALLY bothers me when people accuse her of using the fact that she is a woman (in the tears instance)to get power. Because, you know, nothing wins presidential primaries like femininity?

Blogger kristen said...

I 100% agree. 150% even!

Anonymous Cole said...

Would be really cool to be a women's studies instructor at this moment in time.... Makes the theory impossible to NOT understand/seriously contemplate because it is visible everywhere.

I think there is also a gendered concern about Edwards... what do we do when a potential first lady might be a dead one? What does that do to the president?

Blogger Cagney Gentry said...

I had the same afflicted reaction to the post New Hampshire coverage which didn't talk about politics but more about its perception of what was fitting behavior for a lady--barf.

I am deeply saddened by Edwards falling behind, I really thought he had a chance in Iowa. I feel passionately that he is the best candidate in the race. Here's hoping South Carolina goes our way.

And, I don't quite understand Cole's comment....

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