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Saturday, June 07, 2008

braless bubble-heads

I know you guys are Obama supporters, and I congratulate you - his being the nominee is a great thing for the country. I hope though, that you'll understand that I think it would also have been a great thing if a woman could have been the nominee, and I'm very disappointed. I don't really expect anyone to read this op-ed piece from the New York Times, but it will make me feel better to post it .....

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What Hillary Won
By GAIL COLLINS
Published: June 7, 2008

As the sun was sinking on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, the nation’s wounded feminists were burning up the Internet.

They vowed to write in Hillary’s name on their ballots in November; to wear “NObama” T-shirts all summer; to “de-register” as Democrats. One much-circulated e-mail proposed turning June 3, the day Barack Obama claimed the nomination, as a permanent day of mournful remembrance “like the people in Ireland remember the Famine.”

“The passion is very intense,” said Muriel Fox, a retired public relations executive in New York who was one of the founding members of the National Organization for Women. “It’s very much a feeling that Hillary has not been respected.”

Feel free to make fun of them. The women of Fox’s generation ought to be used to it by now. The movement they started was the first fight for equality in which the opposition deployed ridicule as its most lethal weapon. They won the ban on sex discrimination in employment by letting a conservative congressman propose it as a joke. When they staged their historic march in New York in 1970, they heard themselves described as “braless bubble-heads” by a U.S. senator and were laughed at on the evening news.

They had always seen a woman in the White House as the holy grail. Now their disappointment is compounded by the feeling that Clinton’s candidacy was not even appreciated as a noble try.

“She stayed in and showed she could take it. I feel she’s taken this beating for us — the abuse and the battering and the insults,” said Fox.

I get asked all the time whether I think Hillary lost because sexism is worse than racism in this country. The answer is no. She lost because Obama ran a smarter, better-organized campaign. It’s possible that she would have won if the Democratic Party had more rational primary rules. But Obama didn’t make up the rules, and Clinton had no problem with them until she began to lose.

Here’s where the sexism does come in. If Barack had failed in his attempt to make history by becoming the first African-American presidential nominee, you can bet we’d have treated his defeat with the dignity it deserved. Even if he went over the deep end at the finale and found it hard to get around to a graceful concession.

For a long time, Obama supporters have seen party unity as something that Hillary could provide by capitulating. It also requires the Democrats to acknowledge what she’s achieved. If that makes them feel like wimps, let them take it out on John McCain.

Clinton is very much a product of the generation that accepted a certain amount of humiliation as the price of progress. She wrote in her autobiography that when she ran for president of her high-school class against several boys, one of them told her she was “really stupid” if she thought a girl could be elected president. She lost, and later, the winner asked her to head a committee “which as far as I could tell was expected to do most of the work.” She swallowed hard, accepted and, she admitted, really liked organizing all the school parades and dances and pep rallies.

This is one of the things you have to admire about Hillary Clinton. She still enjoys the work.

Over the past months, Clinton has seemed haunted by the image of the “nice girl” who gives up the fight because she’s afraid the boys will be angry if they don’t get their way. She told people she would never, ever say: “I’m the girl, I give up.” She would never let her daughter, or anybody else’s daughter, think that she quit because things got too tough.

And she never did. Nobody is ever again going to question whether it’s possible for a woman to go toe-to-toe with the toughest male candidate in a race for president of the United States. Or whether a woman could be strong enough to serve as commander in chief.

Her campaign didn’t resolve whether a woman who seems tough enough to run the military can also seem likable enough to get elected. But she helped pave the way. So many battles against prejudice are won when people get used to seeing women and minorities in roles that only white men had held before. By the end of those 54 primaries and caucuses, Hillary had made a woman running for president seem normal.

Her campaign was messy, and it made some fatal tactical errors. But nobody who sent her a donation could accuse her of not giving them their money’s worth.

For all her vaunting ambition, she was never a candidate who ran for president just because it’s the presidency. She thought about winning in terms of the things she could accomplish, and she never forgot the women’s issues she had championed all her life — repair of the social safety net, children’s rights, support for working mothers.

It’s not the same as winning the White House. But it’s a lot.


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16 Comments:

Blogger Cura Animarum said...

From the start both Teamouse and I felt Hillary was the better candidate.

6:24 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Maybe she should run in Canada :)

11:10 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

Crystal, I admire your stance. I was and am for Obama. You probably won't like this, but I am proud of your standing up to your blog bully "friends, who tried to 'assasinate' Clinton. Sure their your friends. Fine. But congradulations still!! Jack

4:51 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

make "they're" your friends. Jack

4:52 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Jack,

Thanks, I think. Actually, what's good about the people who do visit here is that though they may have different views, they semm happy enough to let others think differently, so it's not hard to be oneself.

5:22 PM  
Blogger cowboyangel said...

Crystal,

I know you're disappointed with the results. But Clinton's candidacy really has broken open the doors for women to be serious contenders for the White House. And there are a number of excellent possibilities for the future - I can think of Kathleen Sibelius, Jennifer Granholm, Janet Napolitano, and Claire McCaskill off the top of my head.

To be honest, Hillary Clinton was always going to have a hard time as a candidate being Bill's wife. It was such heavy and unusual baggage for a candidate to carry. I look forward to some of these other women running - I think they'll be formidable candidates without all that history to lug around.

1:04 PM  
Blogger cowboyangel said...

One more thing, and I hope it's not taken wrong. While I think Hillary's candidacy shows how much progress has made made by and for women in our country, I think it's also a sign of progress that so many women in the Democratic primaries (48.2%) felt comfortable enough about themselves that they could choose NOT to vote for Hillary just because she was a woman. My wife, for example, was more concerned about the actual person she voted for rather than scared she would never see a woman president in her lifetime. Young voters, in particular, didn't seem concerned about either gender or race in choosing a candidate. That's a very exciting and powerful sign to me of what we've accomplished in this country in the last 40-50 years. My wife knows there will be a woman president one day, because there are too many good women involved in politics (and the media) now. That says a lot.

1:31 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

William,

I didn't vote for Hillary because she was a woman - I would have voted for Gore instead if he had run. I thought she would make a better president than Obama.

How would it seem if I said the same things about Obama that you said about Hillary, and the same about African-Americans that you said about women? ... I think it's also a sign of progress that so many women in the Democratic primaries (48.2%) felt comfortable enough about themselves that they could choose NOT to vote for Hillary just because she was a woman

The fact that many young women don't think there is any discrimination against women anymore doesn't mean (to me) that they have "grown beyond" worries that belong in the past, but that they are ignorant both of history and the present ways of the world.

Yeah, it's not so bad to be a woman (with money) in the US .... of course you can't walk down a city stree alone and be safe, can't be a Catholic priest, and .... ahem ... can't be president .... but it is not so great in other parts of the world. For instance, in India, the largest growing group of people with AIDs is married women - their husbands get it from prostitutes and then don't tell them or use a condum. Take a look at Amnesty International's page on women's human rights and then forgive me if I don't believe feminism is no longer relevant.

2:12 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Sorry - I didn't mean to sound so upset. The anger is not directed towards you :)

2:14 PM  
Blogger cowboyangel said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:41 PM  
Blogger cowboyangel said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:43 PM  
Blogger cowboyangel said...

You did say I think it would also have been a great thing if a woman could have been the nominee, and I'm very disappointed.

I'm sure you voted for her for various reasons. But I don't think it's fair to imply that NOT voting for Hillary Clinton means that women - or men - don't want to see a woman president or don't care about women's issues. Hillary Clinton doesn't own concern for women.

I brought up the statistic to point out the fact that a lot of women, many of them just as intelligent and concerned as you, didn't vote for her. Voting for Hillary - or not - shouldn't be some litmus test for caring about women's issues. That's an insult to all of the women who didn't vote for her.

And I still think it says good things about our country to be a woman and feel comfortable enough to cast a vote for a man.

5:01 PM  
Blogger cowboyangel said...

How would it seem if I said the same things about Obama that you said about Hillary, and the same about African-Americans that you said about women? ... I think it's also a sign of progress that so many women in the Democratic primaries (48.2%) felt comfortable enough about themselves that they could choose NOT to vote for Hillary just because she was a woman

I wouldn't have a problem with you saying that, no.

5:03 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

I didn't mean all women should feel obligated to vote for a woman any more than all people of one race should feel obligated to vote for the guy who shares their's. But the idea that it doesn't really matter when a woman gets to be president as long as it's someday is just as un-right as saying that about an African-American.

6:47 PM  
Blogger cowboyangel said...

the idea that it doesn't really matter when a woman gets to be president as long as it's someday is just as un-right as saying that about an African-American.

Where did I say that, Crystal? That wasn't my point at all. I was trying to be positive about women in politics right now. Hillary's campaign isn't the end of something but the beginning. She has broken barriers for women. And there are many good women out there who are going to follow in her footsteps in the near future. That's a good thing, isn't it?

My apologies for upsetting you. This wasn't the time for me to be discussing post-identity politics.

I'm sorry you feel sad about about Hillary Clinton not getting nominated. That's all I should've said.

6:15 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

No, it's ok - I'm always up for an argument :) I'm still just in that sour grapes stage right now.

11:05 AM  

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