Wednesday, June 4, 2008

32 Flavors

I am going to preface this by saying that I think Barack Obama will make a fine POTUS and I am happy to vote for him come November. I will also say that I am appalled by the idiocy of some who say they will vote for McCain because their candidate, i.e. Hilary Clinton, did not win the nomination of the Democratic party.

Now, that said, I will say that this race opened my eyes to the role that gender politics still play in this country. Before the primaries began, I thought it would be much more difficult for rich black man to get elected than for a rich white woman. I thought the country was much more racially biased than gender biased, even though I have had my own personal experiences with sexual harassment and sexual bias in the workplace.

But having heard the attacks on Clinton when she showed emotion after the New Hampshire primary and heard female pundits criticize Hilary for her appearance when they never would say the same things about a male candidate was shocking and frustrating. Of course, in hindsight, I think the media would attack a man for showing any emotion other than anger, too. As a nation, we seem incredibly uncomfortable with any sincere expression of emotion that isn't behind closed doors. But that's another post.

Right now, seeing clearly that we are unwilling to elect a woman and that the media willingly participates in the sexist stereotyping of female candidates (and the wives of male candidates) and that members of the so-called unbiased media hold blatantly misogynistic views, I am disheartened.

Only when it becomes as politically incorrect to label a woman a bitch or criticize gender as it is to focus on skin color, ethnicity, or religion will we be able to elect a woman.

And if you want to argue that it is politically incorrect and unacceptable in the media and our culture to make sexist comments, check out this video put together by the Women's Media Center:


Kel said...

I can remember at the start of the race, the media staked its bet that the voting population would be more ready to accept a 'white' female long before they would accept a 'black' male. Perhaps this was the case in the beginning, but Obama has a spirit that is infectious and did well rallying the people together.

Racial stereotype issues are verbalized and put in the forefront I think that is why we believe they are more dominant that sexist issues. However, most women out there deal with sexist and gender biased issues on a regular basis. It is very much still a problem, it is just a closed mouth problem that the men do not want to realize or accept.

Dawn said...

Kel, I think you have a point. I think a lot of women don't acknowledge or express when they've been sexually harassed or maybe even realize it.

When I first began working, I let a lot of comments pass. I worked for the Atlanta City Council and male council members would comment on my appearance or the appearance of other female employees and I let it slide because I thought I couldn't say anything because I would anger someone and get fired and I couldn't afford to get fired.

And ultimately, I did end up resigning after a male council member made a pass at me. I told my boss who told her boss and a couple of weeks later I was coerced into resigning.

I could have outed him to the press, but I didn't. Maybe I should have. But, I was twenty-two and naive. I thought if I made waves, I'd never find another job, so I kept my mouth shut like a "good girl."

And I think a lot of women do that. When men, especially older, powerful men, make comments about looks or gender or criticize other women, we let it slide because we don't want to lose any advantage we have or get fired because we're "uppity."

Mimi said...

Oh wow. That video was horrifying. Wow.

On a lighter note, I tagged you for a meme over at my place, which will be more fun than all this incredible sexism.

FearandParentinginLasVegas said...

What's most telling to me is that most of the clips are from Fox and MSNBC. While obviously these clips are cherry picked to be the most extreme and shocking comments, I agree there is a media bias against women politicians. As a 15-year PR vet, I can tell you this - the media will cover conflict first. When there is no conflict, they'll focus on the differences and make it into a conflict. HRC and BO were both very solid, positive candidates with very similar platforms. There wasn't enough of a story, so stations like Fox and MSNBC chose to make stories out of gender-related issues. What's most aggravating to me is that the public let them get away with it. There's no way they couldn't get away with racial comments like that.

While I think we've made a lot of progress, we still have a long way to go before a strong, opinionated, and vocal woman can be a catalyst for change without being labeled a pushy, nagging, b***h.

Wendy said...

I agree that the clips on those videos are abhorrent. But I don't believe that Hillary lost because she was a woman. I believe she lost because she ran a bad campaign. She was convinced, and her advisers did nothing to alter her convictions, that she had the nomination locked up and that she could ignore smaller states and caucus states and wrap up the nomination by Super Tuesday by focusing on big states. Obama's campaign, on the other hand, determined from the outset to value every delegate, and by winning a bunch of smaller caucus states early, he was able to build enough momentum to win a delegate lead that carried him to the nomination. If you look at how well Clinton did in the states where she actively and aggressively campaigned, it seems clear to me that if she had employed a different strategy and not blown off smaller states and caucus states, she probably would have won.

Jeremy said...

I'll be blunt: if you were me, what would Barack Obama mean to you?


I want my kids (who-unlike me–can never run for President) to believe in the promise and opportunity this country offers.

We want to believe in something bigger than ourselves. Obama represents that. Hillary...?

Suz said...

There have been several essays by prominent women writers examining what they can tell their daughters about the sexism, nay, misogyny, hurled at Hillary. You can say it's not sexism, it's Hillary, but I suspect a lot of women have encountered similar treatment when they try to "get too big for their britches" as we say in the south.

So, aside from how you feel about Hillary, what does it mean to little girls that she was called "cunt," "bitch," "ho," "wicked witch of the west" and on and on? How is that acceptable treatment of ANYONE? How would you feel if that were your wife? Your mother?

I think the point is not that sexism is the reason Obama barely eked out a victory, it's the realization that this kind of anti-powerful-woman vitriol is just below the surface, and how shocking and appalling thinking women (and hopefully even a few men--hopefully more than just my fiance) find that in 2008.

Dawn said...

Suz, you hit the nail on the head.

It's not that I think Hillary lost because she's a woman. Yes, it's an easy argument to make that she lost because of the particular person she is. However, the treatment she received at the hands of prominent and generally well-regarded (at least most of them haven't lost their jobs yet) talking heads like Chris Matthews, Christopher Hitchens, Bill Mahr, Neil Boortz, Tucker Carlson, and others is ridiculous.

How does her treatment merit hope for millions of little girls who should expect to be able to enter the work force or life in general and be treated as equals to the boys and men they'll encounter and work with.

Jeremy, you are one of the most open-minded, progressive, and dare I say, feminist-minded, men I've ever known. You are not part of the problem. Neither is my husband nor Suzanne's beau. However, there are countless men who degrade women, especially powerful women who threaten them and the power they hold, who are perfectly willing to call any woman who crosses them or encroaches on their little world a bitch, cunt, whore, or as matthews as repeatedly labled Hillary, ambitious. Like that's the worst thing he can think of. An ambitious woman.

God forbid!

That's all I'm saying. Not that Obama's not great! Not that he doesn't offer hope to all of us.

Just that until women can expect the same treatment at the hands of the media and political punditry and the men in all of our lives, we will never see a female POTUS.

Jeremy said...

Here's an interesting take from Paul Begala:

Suz said...

I linked to that Paul Begala blog post on my blog!