Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Go, Gloria!

From Gloria Steinem's NYT Op-Ed today:

Women Are Never Front-Runners

Why is the sex barrier not taken as seriously as the racial one? The reasons are as pervasive as the air we breathe: because sexism is still confused with nature as racism once was; because anything that affects males is seen as more serious than anything that affects “only” the female half of the human race; because children are still raised mostly by women (to put it mildly) so men especially tend to feel they are regressing to childhood when dealing with a powerful woman; because racism stereotyped black men as more “masculine” for so long that some white men find their presence to be masculinity-affirming (as long as there aren’t too many of them); and because there is still no “right” way to be a woman in public power without being considered a you-know-what.

I’m not advocating a competition for who has it toughest. The caste systems of sex and race are interdependent and can only be uprooted together. That’s why Senators Clinton and Obama have to be careful not to let a healthy debate turn into the kind of hostility that the news media love. Both will need a coalition of outsiders to win a general election. The abolition and suffrage movements progressed when united and were damaged by division; we should remember that.

I’m supporting Senator Clinton because like Senator Obama she has community organizing experience, but she also has more years in the Senate, an unprecedented eight years of on-the-job training in the White House, no masculinity to prove, the potential to tap a huge reservoir of this country’s talent by her example, and now even the courage to break the no-tears rule. I’m not opposing Mr. Obama; if he’s the nominee, I’ll volunteer. Indeed, if you look at votes during their two-year overlap in the Senate, they were the same more than 90 percent of the time.

Besides, to clean up the mess left by President Bush, we may need two terms of President Clinton and two of President Obama.


This country can no longer afford to choose our leaders from a talent pool limited by sex, race, money, powerful fathers and paper degrees. It’s time to take equal pride in breaking all the barriers. We have to be able to say: “I’m supporting her because she’ll be a great president and because she’s a woman.”






Stuart said...

Good words from Ms. Steinem about sexism and racism in relation to the campaign. But as long as I'm contemplating isms: let's see.... Hillary Clinton attempted to tell the glbt community how she was actually defending us by supporting DOMA (at the LOGO debate you attended, Susan+) and Barak Obama couldn't come up with a good reason at that same LOGO debate why civil unions weren't a second class status. Racism, Sexism, and HOMPHOBIA. I remain unimpressed with both of them on glbt issues and I'm tired of holding my nose and voting for Democratic candidates because they are less odious than Republicans. I may have missed the post Susan+, but how can you support either of these candidates when it comes to glbt issues?


Because when I prioritize the issues that I believe are most important in this election I come up with ending the war first and maintaining an independent judiciary second.

At an utterly pragmatic level (and politics is ultimately a business of pragmatism) we need to nominate the candidate who will put an end to preemptive war and torture as options for American foreign policy and to judicial appointments that jeopardize a woman's right to choose, affirmative action and equal protection.

The struggle for marriage equality battle continues and I am confident that, in the end, it will be won. It's not an either/or for me and I am, at this point, enthusiastic about these candidates and hopeful about the future.

Hope that answers the question. Thanks for taking time to write.

RonF said...

We have to be able to say: “I’m supporting her because she’ll be a great president and because she’s a woman.”

Interestingly, I've been on feminist blogs where they've been slicing up Gloria Steinem because of what they see to be her attempt to prioritize sexism over racism. They see both problems as all of a piece and see her comments as a hit job proxy for the Clinton campaign.

Given the definition of sexism as "predjudice or discrimination on the basis of sex", voting for Sen. Clinton on the basis of her sex is sexism itself.