Friday, January 11, 2008

NEWS FLASH: It IS about sexism!

Today's New York Times has this interesting "post-mortem" of the New Hampshire prmary, which indicates somewhat of a "wake up call" to women on the power of sexism: Women’s Support for Clinton Rises

“I do want Hillary Rodham Clinton to take the White House, but until she lost Iowa, I didn’t realize how much, or how much it had to do with her being a woman,” said Allison Smith-Estelle, 37, director of a program against domestic violence in Red Lodge, Mont.

What bothered them as much as the Iowa results, said several dozen women in states with coming primaries, was the gleeful reaction to her defeat and what seemed like unfair jabs in the final moments before the New Hampshire voting.

Michelle Six, 36, a lawyer and John Edwards supporter in Los Angeles, said she was horrified to hear Mr. Obama tell Mrs. Clinton she was “likable enough” in a Democratic debate on Saturday. Ms. Six said she found the line condescending, and an echo of other unkind remarks by other men about women over the years.

Need more? Check out this Truthdig commentary, which includes these fun facts to know and tell about the American media:

Television commentator Chris Matthews suggested last month that prominent male politicians who endorsed Clinton are “castratos in the eunuch chorus.” His MSNBC colleague Tucker Carlson declared that there’s something about Clinton that “feels castrating, overbearing and scary.” Why, Carlson said, “when she comes on television, I involuntarily cross my legs.”


RonF said...

There have been a lot of comments in the press for months - nay, years, that Sen. Clinton has a lot of negatives. It seems that few people feel neutral about her; while lots of people are positive about here, lots of people are negative about here. Her "likableness" has been a major issue for quite some time. On that basis, the comment that she seems "likeable enough", while seemingly condescending, does address an issue specific to Clinton and is not a comment regarding women in general.

One other comment; I find "sexism" defined as "predjudice or discrimination based on sex". On that basis, voting for Sen. Clinton because she is a woman is as sexist as voting against her on that basis.


ronf ... not surprisingly, I disagree. Discrimination is when those with power USE their power to exclude those without power from having any. The white southern hegemony using their power to keep African Americans from the ballot box comes to mind.

DISCERNMENT is making considered choices based on available information -- and I would submit that -- presupposing otherwise equally qualified candidates -- exercising a preferential option for a woman is an act of discernment.

The challenge for many in this particular presidential race is that we're faced with two extraordinarily qualified candidates ... Clinton and Obama ... who both represent the under-represented, who both help break down the barriers of race and gender, who both offer new hope and vision and optimism for the nation.

At this point, my vote goes for the one I believe to be the most qualified to lead this nation at this time in the direction I believe it should go. And that would be Senator Clinton.

RonF said...

I checked a couple of dictionaries and find that they support what I had already thought; discrimination is the process of making a choice, based on the nature or characteristic of the thing or things being chosen among. It has nothing to do with power. Thus, if someone votes either for or against any of the candidates because of their sex, they are discriminating on the basis of sex and are thus exercising sexism.

Now, it's quite true that the consequences of discrimination differ based on the power of the person or group doing the discrimination; and there are rather horrible examples of such consequences in the history of almost every country that has ever existed. America is no exception, although in our case the examples of immoral discrimination are more glaringly at odds with our principles than most. But that's separate from the concept of discrimination itself. And discernment is certainly a valid process to use when deciding whether or how to discriminate based on a particular criterion.

But that doesn't change the fact that, having used the process of discernment to decide whether or how to discriminate, the term discrimination, and the specific descriptors of particular kinds of discrimination such as sexism or racism all fairly describe choices made on that basis, regardless of what kind of power the person making the choice have, even if the consequences of those choices differ.

Discrimination is a scalar quantity, not a vector - the direction affects the result, but not the description or label itself.

RonF said...

For all of you who think that Sens. Obama or Clinton represent change, I propose you research this; what change have they attempted or effected so far in their tenure in government?

RonF said...

Discernment is not the process of making choices. Discernment is the process of discovering, grasping and comprehending information. Making a choice can - no, should be based on discernment, but it is not itself discernment.

RonF said...

Just now, I was copied on an e-mail exchange in my company that illustrates the usage of "discern". We were trying to figure out what computers were affected by a particular process we had run. The question was asked, "Which devices of [a particular group] were affected?" The answer was, "It's not that easy to discern from the information we have."

In other words, he had a difficult time picking out the information he needed. He's not trying to make a change to those devices, he just needs to know which ones they are. After that, he's going to make a choice as to what to do. But first, he has to discern which devices were involved and which were not.


My goodness, Ron ... lot of time on your hands today, eh?

Br. Jack+, LC said...

I agree with ronf. I have had women tell me plainly that they were going to vote for Clinton because she was a woman. Period. That is discrimination. If a man and a woman were going for a job interview and the person was hired based on gender it would be discrimination. The opposite is just as true. What needs to be done is simple: hire the best PERSON for the job -- regardless of gender AND regardless of party.

There are SO many people out there that are tired of the 'Bush/Cheney years' that they are voting Democrat for no other reason than they do not like what has gone on in the last four years. Again, that is discrimination. People need to do their homework and support the person, REGARDLESS of gender or party.

TX WaterBird said...

Jack and ronf - I agree with both of you . . . and I'm FEMALE!!!

Let's vote for the best person. Forget sex, race, and party affiliation. This election should not be about "making a statement". Too much is at stake.

Susan - I'm surprised at your response to ronf's response to your post disagreeing with him. Normally you have a more thoughtful come-back when someone proves you wrong. " . . . lot of time on your hands today, eh?" seems a little lackluster compared to your normal repost. I hope nothing is wrong (other than the other things life seems to throw at us).