A less insane top post than some.
06/13/2008, 7:53 AM #
Sometimes being a feminist is like being a Buddhist (or vegetarian, or pretty much anything that can remotely be contested), you realize that you can't really define who's in and who's out, including yourself. Gender doesn't automatically confer or preclude membership (here I will offer Rimbaud as an example, look it up). Nowadays, I wonder if philosophy and politics do either.
Recently, DC posted some (what I consider) scary, reactionary quotes from supposedly feminist women, who claimed they would not vote at all if not for women (ie, Hillary). To my mind, this kind of backward thinking is exactly the opposite of the kind of cooperative forward thinking that has allowed feminism to survive since Elizabeth Cady Stanton decided what to name herself. After all, it is men who vote to enfranchise women. They can't be all bad.
On the obvious level, refusing to vote (or writing in Hillary's name) translates pretty directly into President McCain, the repeal of Roe, a stranglehold on SCOTUS, the invasion of Iran, and eventually, President Romney (ok, I just scared the crap out of myself). I can't think how this forwards any kind of feminist agenda.
Less obviously, it cheapens the real efforts of the women's movement, just as bra burning did in the 60s, giving morons an icon of feminine irrationality to brandish. The emotional appeal of the refusenik mentality may seem noble, but what it really does is obliterate the voices of a generation of women.
Perhaps I've been asleep this last few months, but when last I looked, it was Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi (ain't she a woman?) working together to keep the Clintons (not just Hillary) at bay; Hillary was defending the exclusion of Florida and Michigan (when she thought she was winning without them), and championing the superdelegates (when she thought they'd rescue her from the hoi polloi because she was more electable). I think Hillary overanalyzed her campaign process and lost the nomination for herself because she underestimated Barack Obama's platform, appeal, and strategy. And because she didn't control her organization properly. Oh, and because she overestimated her appeal with far too many members of her constituency (and their willingness to overlook her neglect). And wait, also because she forgot her winning NY formula: fucking listening to voters and what we want. (Who was it ranting about her warriory right-winginess recently?)
Another failure on Hillary's part (and that of some of her older supporters) is a strange and glaring neglect of women who are not white. Not to say this is total: surely Hillary's excellent health care program would benefit women of color and their families greatly; there are other examples as well. But the starkness of Hillary's "white working class voters" and Bill's "Jesse Jackson won SC in 88" comments had to alienate anyone who was tired of cutting them slack.
The Clintons played hardball and they lost. On her claim of greater electability, an NBC/WSJ poll a week after the nomination shows that Obama leads McCain nationally 47% to 41%. This poll conducted from Friday to Monday, was discussed on Keith Olbermann's Countdown this Wednesday:
41 to 36 among independents, the group McCain said he needs to win. And those blue collar workers, so skeptical about Obama, they are going for him 47 to 42 . Catholics back Obama, 47-40, over McCain. Women, the majority of the country, the group supposedly considered a switch from Clinton to McCain, telling pollsters before Clinton‘s presidential ambitions had even gotten cold, that they prefer Obama over McCain by a margin of 52 to 33 . ...
This polling is done in such a way that it‘s overseen by one Republican and one Democrat. The Republican involved in this looked at the white women number, Obama 46, McCain 39. He said, the Republicans expect to win white men big, and they are leading right now in that. But it is white women who decide the election. His quote was, if a Republican wins among white women, we usually win that election. If this is the number when the wounds over Senator Clinton are so strong and so fresh, what chance does McCain if the those wounds heal or just improve a little bit?
This nomination was Hillary's to lose. She spent the last 8 years putting it together, and for awhile, it looked like she was doing everything right. Her failure isn't that she's a woman in a man's world, it's that she took far too much, and too many of us for granted, couldn't admit her mistakes, and couldn't be flexible in the face of a threat to her power. Isn't that what we're all kind of sick of in Presidential personalities?
As I said in a post below:
Women vote for Obama for all kinds of reasons, but I think most of the voters on the two coasts of any gender or race are voting for him because of what I'll call the Bald Tony factor: they're just voting for the guy who's going to do what they want done, and they're so used to seeing people of every color and background and gender doing competent jobs in any number of roles, that his race isn't really a factor. Just as most women who are willing to put aside his gender because he's saying what they want to hear. What they want to hear is that things will change: not just the end of the Sockpuppet Cowboy, but the return of responsible government. Nobody wants riots in the streets (ok, maybe the ELFs do) but most of us want some very concrete changes in government. Not what Gregor Samsa calls the totem pole issues, but Iraq, public health and safety, that pile of idiots in Homeland Security, the desperately self contradictory insanity stalking SCOTUS, the imperial presidency, congressional wimpitude. Oh, yes, we like our totem poles, but that's not what's got people putting differences aside this year.
I listen to some of the rhetoric of feminists regarding the way Hillary was treated and I'm astonished. Voting Democrat is like an abused woman staying with her abusive spouse? Well, if the alternative political analogy is running to the arms of Ted Bundy, I think I'll take my chances and some boxing lessons.