Sara Whitman

Win or Lose, We Still Have a Long Way, Baby

Filed By Sara Whitman | April 21, 2008 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: Bill Clinton, Democrat primaries, feminism, Hillary Rodham Clinton, HRC, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania primary, sexism

With the PA vote loaming on the horizon, I'm going to resist writing about the Primary race. We'll know enough tomorrow night, and I can wait.

I can't really wait but I have to so instead of getting anxious now, I'm going to wait until about 5pm tomorrow.

I am struck, over and over again, by how gender plays out over, and over again. The way one can talk about a woman, her body, her dress, her voice, her hair, her makeup, is mind blowing to me. I cannot believe it's encouraged.

Often.

I sat in the train station this morning and listened to a woman talk to a group of women friends. My back was to her and I could not see any of them. She commented about an obvious mutual acquaintance of the group's.

She said I was pretty enough to be her friend. Can you believe it?

With only my ears, I imagined a twenty some year old was speaking. When I stood up, I saw a group of forty something year old women.

What?

How is it that we have gone through the struggle for independence and equality, for centuries, and still be our own worst enemies?

I posted the picture yesterday because my friend Donald sent it to me and it did, in fact, look like one of the Christmas drag parties. (He really doesn't look that bad in a dress, though.) The first thought that went through my mind was that I always found the women against abortion were women no one would want to sleep with.

I'm doing it, too.

All in good fun, and that was the intent of the photo. It made me laugh when I opened it. I am not, by any means, the most politically correct person to ever walk the earth. I do, after all, eat meat, wear leather shoes, and quietly believe in investing in the stock market.

But where and how do we draw the line?

Girls have, for the last decade, outperformed boys in school. And yet, when they graduate from college, the real world sets in- all the good grades mean nothing. Women are paid less, over all. African-American men make more than white women.

I guess those 50 extra years of voting rights made some difference.

Seriously, what happens to women after college? Is it the way our educational system is set up? Is it that women are better trained to be factory workers- the current standard of our incredibly outdated system- and then fail later because they are not competing in a factory world?

What about the experience, the socialization in schools, that leaves women at times vicious with each other? I mean... what kind of mess brought us the likes of Ann Coulter?

Mostly, I wonder, why it is that being anti-Obama has garnered me some of the most hateful accusations of being racist, but when I point out the misogynist comments made about Clinton I'm told to get over myself?

That's just the way it is. No harm, no foul.

I wish I had some answers, some studies to point to, or some solutions to offer. I don't. I embrace the girls in my life and encourage them to be stronger, faster, better... I'm not sure that's the right thing to do. I can't imagine changing something without taking it over.

It's playing the boys game by the boys rules. I'm not sure women will ever win in that arena. I'm becoming more and more certain I don't want to win.

I want a new field, a new place, and a new image of success. One that reflects the best of what women can be, as women, not the sum of body parts men find attractive. I have no idea what that looks like but it is something to try and dream of. What a school would look like, a business, a government in a matriarchy, minus all the negatives women carry about themselves.

Regardless of the election results in November, I appreciate Clinton's run for the presidency. Win or lose, she has gone out in the boy's game, the man's world, and balanced gender rules the men she's running against haven't a clue about. She's done it by being stronger, faster and better... and I'm still not sure that's the right thing for women to strive for.

But until we have that new place, the new field, we are only left with the familiar arena. If the girls in my life are ever to be given the tools to create a new image of success? We will have to get past this one first.


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I want a new field, a new place, and a new image of success. One that reflects the best of what women can be, as women, not the sum of body parts men find attractive. I have no idea what that looks like but it is something to try and dream of.

Amen to that, sister!

If you want to know what that space would look like, you should come over to my house on a Sunday night when my book group gets together. It's the most awesome group of ladies, queer and straight. We've got a pretty diverse group of ages. And when we get together to laugh and share a meal, the books take a back seat to the friendship we all share. I'm so blessed to have such amazing womyn in my life!

Clinton on An Iran Attack: 'Obliterate Them'

Hillary Clinton further displayed "tough" talk in an interview airing on Good Morning America Tuesday. ABC News' Chris Cuomo asked Clinton what she would do if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons.

"I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president we will attack Iran," Clinton said. "In the next ten years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them."

I just spent the last three hours talking about gender, gender in education, how we can move forward, positive steps we can take to restructure schools with a tried and true obama supporter- she and I could talk intensely and productively ... but you beloved come out with this crap?

you missed my point completely.

and to be perfectly honest, if Iran bombed Israel- which is the context of the goddamn statement- then yes, I hope we "totally obliterate them."
Sorry, I know two holocaust survivors who will always live in my mind when it comes to Israel.

I may not agree with all of Israel's policies but by god, they have a right to exist.

what would obama do? applaud?

read the post and put down the obamatron koolaid for five minutes. it's about gender.

The current population of Iran is over 70 million people, at least half of whom are female. How is "obliterating" them not a gender issue?

Your candidate of choice suggests retaliatory slaughter on a scale not yet seen on our planet.

In this case I believe it is the character of the candidate and not the gender which is paramount since the female candidate expesses values which are at least as repugnant as any male candidate. I suppose that is some sort of victory for equality - but at what cost?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | April 21, 2008 11:12 PM

Are Gay White Men allowed to play? I have two wonderful, rock ribbed, Hoosier, Republican women who are great friends. One of these ladies (a term they prefer) and I go back to my college days when she was a returning ed student and mom of three. The second, who worked for a major university until retirement, I met when "my special friend," my partner and myself took a group cruise together.

I have come to the painful conclusion that they are (despite being highly educated, financally secure and accomplished people have been brainwashed into assuming that women are underqualfied to be president.

When McCain won the Republican side I sent them an email telling them how glad I was in that among the flock of candidates as among all of the group (of Republican monkeys) McCain's unquestioned service to the country I could respect.

They must have smelled blood in the water. Thought they could send me the group emails that clutter my inbox of hateful Obama and hateful Hillery stuff. Or more likely it is to anny me and play "gotcha" ploitics. Some of this crap even goes to and from a church in their small town. Half of it I don't think that they read all the way through, but forward it through the internet to all on their lists.

Everyone must have read the looney one about Oback being Muslim and their plan for world domination and terrorism. My gentle responce: "Gee, if John McCain has called Obama a great American who are you to differ?"

I love doing that as it is the verbal equivalent of "hoisting someone upon their own petard."

I sent them an email recently saying: OK, So Hypothetically Hillary is gone from the race, toast, never existed. Can you please name for me five women each who you could support as qualified to be president?

Suddenly, I stop getting the emails.

Three days later I send another email to each of them: "OK, I'll give you one, but you can't have her for your list. Elizabeth Dole, Senator from South Carolina and former head of the Red Cross. Executive and legislative experience. Qualified.
(remember, it is not about who I would like, but who is qualified).

Still no responce to this. (Maybe they haven't forgiven me for congradulating them when their congressional district went Democrat in 2006.)

It is more likely that they have never thought about the jerk at the back of a Hillary gathering yelling "iron my shirt" and what that means to them and their gender.

I love these "ladies" and they refer to themselves as my Republican friends and how they love to "stir the pot" with me on things political which I am willing to do. But their failure to find five women they could consider qualfied to be president speaks strongly to the topic you have raised Sara. Thank you for your posting.

The "obliterate" remark raised speaks more to how we communicate politically in this country than to Senator Clinton personally.

Our dialogue and policies are constructed in a masculine tenor, particularly in terms of defense policy.

The expanded Kennedy Doctrine is the basis of her statement. It is fact the policy of the United States is to regard an attack upon an ally as an attack upon the continental US which will be responded to with a massive retaliation.

Feminist Luce Irigaray has argued against this kind of playing on the men's field and in favour of a more uniquely woman-spirited style. American politics, is alas, not ready for this and for now at least, a woman candidate has to prove that she is more manly than the men.

Robert- the answer is Ann Richards, but alas, she is dead. When the discussions get heated amongst my friends about obama/clinton we all pause and raise a toast to Ann Richards.

Of course men- gay, white whatever- can play. We need you to. Nothing wrong with wanting to be called a lady... the spectrum of feminine is long and varied. it is, in fact, a beautiful, powerful thing.

and thank you Maura. that is exactly what is going on.

beloved? you didn't put down the koolaid. it's about gender.

“The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house” Audre Lorde

OK, I'll give you one, but you can't have her for your list. Elizabeth Dole, Senator from South Carolina and former head of the Red Cross. Executive and legislative experience. Qualified. (remember, it is not about who I would like, but who is qualified).

Calling Dole qualified is a stretch. She's actually a Senator here in NC and she's done nothing as far as addressing the needs of her constituents. She's basically an easy vote for which ever way Republicans are voting and not much else.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | April 22, 2008 9:30 AM

Gender, or more accurately screwed up notions about gender, is not the only topic not given the depth of analysis that it should. I am amazed how the issue of race is not being covered even after the amazing speech that Barack gave on the issue.

You can see the candidates appealing to white voters with the cynically outraged comments about working class voters and their "bitterness" over being screwed politically. Clinton and McCain are both appealing to white voters in this way. It is to be expected from McCain. He is a Republican and they have shown no hesitation in dividing the American electorate to gain political power. It is disappointing coming from Clinton who by virtue of her gender should be more aware of how words are used to divide us.

I agree that we have a long way to go before women and men are seen and treated as equal. We also have a long way to go before people of different races are seen as individuals with their own strengths and weaknesses none of which are tied to the color of their skins.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | April 22, 2008 1:05 PM

Sorry I mislaid North from South Carolina, but I am a Chicagoan. I do know that as well, Libby Dole worked in two Republican Administrations before the Red Cross. I felt I had to give my ladies a person who they would think: "Damn, why didn't I think of her!" so that snatching her away from their list consideration could be all the more delicious. This frustration to my victims is profoundly important.

At least Dole is not as repulsive as Jessie Helms, or is it Strom Thurmond? Put a KKK sheet on them and they all look the same!

And Good Night Governor Richards wherever you are.

Well, Sara;
I live in New York with my wife about half of the time, but still spend the other half at the residence that I own in Pennsylvania(she and I like the solitude.)
So today was my primary day, which I had a personal fear of having gone back and forth multiple times.

This article inspired me to sort things out once again, that and Senator Obama's huge and vague equivocation when asked about the impending anti-gay marriage/cu/dp/any relationship amendment, with it's opening "I am opposed to gay marriage"
I voted for Senator Clinton(yes, I know she is only for CU's but she is far less distant from the LGBT community

http://www.washblade.com/print.cfm?content_id=12437

"... Obama speaks movingly of gay equality, and not just before gay audiences. He has raised the issue among white farmers and in black churches, where the message is both unwelcome and needed.
Clinton, by contrast, rarely raises the issue on her own, never does so before unfriendly audiences, and seems reluctant even to say the word “gay.”

Obama “gets it” in a way that no previous candidate for president has. Part of this is generational, but it is nonetheless real.

On commitment: strong advantage to Obama."

Regardless of the election results in November, I appreciate Clinton's run for the presidency. Win or lose, she has gone out in the boy's game, the man's world, and balanced gender rules the men she's running against haven't a clue about. She's done it by being stronger, faster and better... and I'm still not sure that's the right thing for women to strive for.

I'd be honored to be represented by either. They're both mould breakers and should be honored as such. Adding in Hillary's extras as Sara points out, makes me give her extra kudos.

@Sara: Raise one for me next time in memory of Ann

@Beloved: Stay on topic. This post is on gender - not who loves Obama the most.

If you do not think raising questions about a woman candidate adopting the value system of the male death culture to the point of advocating the wholesale annihilation of millions of women and children as well as men is a "gender" issue then I must disagree. If you do not think making a case for a candidate on the basis of her gender at the same time that candidate adopts the worst sort of male Rovian tactics raises conflicts between "feminist" loyalties and progressive values then I am at a loss to understand your priorities. And if you find raising Audre Lorde's reminder on these very points to have nothing to do with a discussion of gender then I submit your definition of a discussion of "gender" in this political campaign is a narrow one indeed.

no, actually, your comments were basically bullshit.
you didn't mention Audre Lorde until late late in you comments.

as my 12 year old says, whatever.