Monday, February 18, 2008
From The Huff Post:
The Change Candidate Needs to Change His Tone Towards Women
by Karen Stabiner
The first time Hillary Clinton ran a television ad complaining about Barack Obama's unwillingess to debate in Wisconsin, he fired back with an ad of his own about the 18 debates he's already participated in and the two more that are scheduled.
She wouldn't let it go; her subsequent ad speculated on whether he was reluctant because his health insurance care plan wasn't as good as hers.
At a televised campaign stop, someone asked him how he felt about the ad campaign. Obama, grave-faced and sympathetic in tone, opined that when Senator Clinton was 'feeling down,' she went on the attack to make herself feel better; that is, she committed an error in judgment because she was in a bad mood. That was the moment when I, and other women of a certain age, all over the country, winced.
The change candidate had embraced one of the oldest clichés in the book -- that women are held hostage by emotion, that we can't be trusted with the big decisions because, depending on our age, we're either on the rag or having a hot flash. The overtly sexist position used to be that you didn't want to entrust the red phone to a woman because women are unpredictable and irrational; a fit of hormonal pique and kaboom, we all glow in the radioactive dark. The ones who aren't instantly vaporized, that is.
The kinder, gentler version? A soft-spoken observation about what a female candidate does when she's "feeling down," the implication being that Hillary's distress over the delegate count had impaired her judgment, and that someone who loses her way like that is not strong enough to withstand the rigors of the presidency. If you think that I and the indignant gal friends I've polled are overreacting, try the acid test: Imagine any major candidate making that kind of subtle put-down about a man's psychological fortitude. In 1972, Thomas Eagleton had to have shock treatment to get us to raise a national eyebrow about his mental health, ending his brief tenure as George McGovern's running mate. Short of that, we tend to assume that the boys are steady enough to handle the job.
I'm gonna have to respectfully disagree Ms. Stabiner. I think that this is one of the many problems that people see with feminism. This oversensitivity associated with Women's Lib that impairs judgment and has some women jumping to conclusions serves as a repellent to people who are ignorant to the good that feminism has accomplished. As a woman, I know what it's like to be seen as "emotional" and "illogical." As a Black woman, I doubly understand what it means to be robbed of your right to feel as though my sensibilities have been offended (ironically it's expected) and I know what it feels like to be placed in a victimless state when I've been violated.
Yes, I'm an Obama supporter, but I honestly don't feel that his remark was laden with sexism. If it were a man, I believe he would've said the same thing. As a woman of Nigerian descent, my "sexist pig" radar is rather keen. I think the coded language behind Obama's remark is that Hillary's showing desperation. He could've been blunt and said that's she's arrogant, threatened, desperate, and low on campaign funds, but Obama would rather be a gentleman. Even before these ads, Hillary's shown that she's desperate and threatened by him. If you don't believe me, just consider her and Bill's poor execution of Southern Strategy. What a way to take the Black vote for granted.