Patricia Nell Warren

Benazir and Hillary

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | December 27, 2007 4:59 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: Benazir Bhutto, Hillary Rodham Clinton

Benazir Bhutto's assassination should be making American voters ask themselves a nightmarish but necessary question. How ready is the United States -- really -- for a woman President? We'd better not be pointing fingers at the neoconservative Islamic element in Pakistan who took Benazir out of politics by killing her. The sad fact is -- our own country is all too vulnerable to successful lobbying by our own neoconservative religious cohorts. I'm talking about the kind of people who read in their Bibles that women should be silent and believe that it's their duty to impose this 2000-year-old teaching in today's political arena.

Because of this negative religious influence in our political history, the United States is glaringly absent from the world list of 46 nations -- from England to India to Senegal and Bermuda -- that have already elevated women to prime minister or President. Forty-six...count 'em. So far, the best we can do is Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State.

Hillary Clinton may or may not be the best woman for President. But the fact is -- after women got the vote in 1920, any one of a number of prominent American women could have put us on that list by serving as chief of state. Starting with Jeannette Rankin and Eleanor Roosevelt, the possibilities go through Madeleine Albright, Shirley Chisholm, Geraldine Ferraro, Ella Grasso, Martha Wright Griffiths, to name a few. But not one of them ever had a snowball's chance in hell of getting nominated, let alone elected. The corrosive anti-female streak in our society manifests itself in many ways, from the political arena to our shocking statistics on domestic battering, sexual assault, serial murders of women, even the bullying of girl students in U.S. high schools.

These grassroots misogynists will have the tantrum of tantrums if Hillary gets the Democratic nomination. Anybody who doubts this should search the Web under "Hillary hate" to bring up dozens of pages of anti-Hillary blogs and websites. The rhetoric there is extremely, embarrassingly ugly. It goes well over the top from the reasoned or even mildly emotional arguments against a candidate's fitness that we would expect to see in any election.

Indeed, there's a lot of hateful anti-Hillary double-think. Example: on the issue of whether Hillary should have taken a public stand on Bill Clinton's philandering. Your typical neo-con male would expect his own wife to "stand by her man" and forgive him if he got caught philandering, yet he blog-beats Hillary because she didn't publicly condemn her own husband when Bill got caught with his pants down. And lurking beneath all the neo-cons' most targeted arguments against Hillary as President is the general conviction that "women are not fit to govern anyway."

If Hillary gets the Democratic nomination, I predict we will see an anti-female hate-fest that will make a lot of us more ashamed to be Americans than we are already.

Copyright (c) 2007 by Patricia Nell Warren. All rights reserved.

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I agree with your final prediction - there'll be a whole lot of misogyny coming out of the right-wing noise machine if Hillary gets the nomination.

I don't agree with the reasoning, that somehow anyone who hates Hillary is doing so simply out of misogyny. She does have a history as an individual, and so does Bill (whose name she can't stop dropping), there were people who hated Bill Clinton who hate her for the same reasons, there are people who hate the DLC/center-right style Democratic politics and see her as this cycle's representative of those politics and hate her because of it, and there are people who take a realization of the place Hillary's politics take us - massive economic inequality - and take it as a reason to hate.

Just sayin' that I think this are a whole lot of reasons people hate her, not just misogyny, and that misogyny didn't just pop out of Jesus' teachings 2K years ago. Honestly, I think that the West's tradition of Rationalism dating all the way back to Plato, most recently manifested in a post-industrial hatred of difference, has a lot more to do with misogyny than anything Jesus said.

I don't think that we really need to be asking if America's ready for a female president. That question always makes me wonder, is there something to be afraid of there? Isn't it just begging for a specific answer and imply that there would be something wrong with a woman president in the first place? I know that's not what you intended with that wording, but I can't but wonder if that's what media blowhards who repeat it ad nauseum mean to imply.

And Albright never could have been president anyway - she's not a native-born American.

And Albright never could have been president anyway - she's not a native-born American.

And that's a damn shame. She'd be a better choice than most we've seen run for the office since she left the State department.

Patricia, how ironic that you posted this. Because last night I was talking to my mom about the same thing. I think that if Hillary or Obama were to get elected, either of them would have assassination attempts on their lives.

When I was in Holland a few weeks ago, everyone kept asking me, "are you voting for Hillary?" Holland hasn't had a male head of state in over 100 years. When the current queen steps down in the near future, her son will be the first king in a very long time. Understandably, the Dutch people I talked to honestly think that having a woman at the helm makes a difference in the types of social policies a country pursues. I think they may be right. Just look at Holland. They have excellent schools, amazing public transportation, everyone has health insurance, they've legalized prostitution . . . the list goes on and on. How can a small country afford such a large social welfare program? Oh yeah . . . they don't spend all their money on the military. Duh! I'm not trying to excuse Holland's colonialist past or make it sound like they don't have problems. But I gotta say . . . they have their priorities in order.

Alex, I agree with what you're saying about Hillary and poverty. But I think that would be the case with anyone who is elected right now. And even though she is one of the hawkiest of the bunch, I'm thinking I may throw my hat in her ring, because I think it's time to have a woman in office. Right now, she's the only woman running. And quite frankly, I think we're WAAAAY overdue for a change in priorities.

The corrosive anti-female streak in our society manifests itself in many ways, from the political arena to our shocking statistics on domestic battering, sexual assault, serial murders of women, even the bullying of girl students in U.S. high schools.

We might add to this list, Patricia, the fact that as the American military increases their enlistments of women into service and even combat, they continue to either respond ineffectively or completely ignore the sexual treatment problems that many of these women encounter ... treatment that ranges from harassment to outright assault and rape. This very male-dominated American institution pioneered racial integration, but is psychologically crippled when it comes to modernizing its sexual policies ... whether we are talking about male/female or straight/gay.

Alex: I'm aware of little if any misogynistic teachings that we have been handed down as quotes from Jesus himself. Increasingly we hear of the possibility that He regarded Mary Magdalene as essentially a "thirteenth disciple" if not His wife --- and there is much extra-Biblical evidence that the male disciples resented her being included in their ministry circles. But as for misogynistic teachings per se, I believe the culprit in Christendom was mostly Saint Paul and a few other apostles --- although the Old Testament is also rife with misogyny.

I'm voting for Hillary in the primary and in November, because she is the best person for the job of President. She is so superior to the rest of the field, it's not even funny.

That being said ...

It's just as much a mistake to promote a woman for office because she's a woman as it is to reject her for the same reason. If Jeannette Rankin or Shirley Chisholm had been President, they would have been awful -- not because they were women, but because they were awful.

This may be good point at which to observe that the world does not revolve around gender politics -- or sexual-orientation politics, for that matter. Every once in a while, I think it would be a good idea for people who spend most of their time focused narrowly upon a cause, like feminism, gay rights, 2nd Amendment issues, etc., to take a day off and live in the world the rest of us spend most of our time in. It might keep them from becoming so wonky. Just look at Andrea Dworkin, Catherine McKinnon -- just look at Mary Daly, for goodness sake. These are permanently tripped out women who ignored their souls' cries for balance a bit too long.

Everyone needs to laugh at themselves, now and again. We are a ridiculous species.