Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The smartest girl in the room

For every 'presidential' and 'charismatic' bestowed on Barack Obama, there are 10 adjectives commentators have used to put down the way Hillary Clinton dresses, talks and emotes. Call this what it is – blatant sexism.
Hello, America? Our double standards and unfair treatment of female candidates is blatantly obvious to the rest of the world. The quote above is from the Canadian Globe and Mail. Here's more:
Guess what they call powerful and strong women who support Barack Obama? Obamazons. And what about powerful women who support Hillary Clinton? In Hillaryland, they're probably too damn tired, mystified and disappointed to care all that much about cutesy names.

There are certainly legitimate reasons not to like Ms. Clinton, but that doesn't explain the very different treatment she has received in the media. While grown media men and women have swooned over Mr. Obama, confessing that he is so charismatic he gives them goosebumps, Ms. Clinton has been mocked, trivialized and denigrated in a way that should give every woman pause.

Her laugh is a “cackle.” Her daughter Chelsea is being “pimped out.” She is only there because of her husband. She is “inauthentic” and manipulative, especially that time she cried in New Hampshire (and she didn't actually cry, by the way, even though anti-Clinton forces quickly had T-shirts made that said “Cry Baby” on them.)

When Ms. Clinton wasn't very occasionally showing her soft side, she was characterized as grating and aggressive. When she demonstrated how much she knew about so many issues, she was trying too hard to be “the smartest girl in the room.”

From the Independent UK:
Obama has done himself no good with his occasional forays into sexism, like his fraternity-jock remark at the New Hampshire debate, delivered with a cocky smirk, "You're likeable enough, Hillary," or his observation at Tulane that, "You challenge the status quo, and suddenly the claws come out".
From the Herald (UK):

It remains to be seen how much two other isms, sexism and racism, matter to American voters. Officially, race and gender are irrelevant; unofficially, many believe that each will count for a lot. It would be tragic if these factors, rather than competence and leadership quality, decided one of the most crucial presidential elections in American history.

And one final thought from from the Globe and Mail:

On one particularly bad day, The New York Times's Maureen Dowd weighed in with one comedian's joke about Mr. Obama winning every recent primary: “Hillary says it's not fair, because they're being held in February, and February is Black History Month. And unfortunately for Hillary, there's no White Bitch Month.”

Well, here's a thought: Perhaps every day is white bitch month for powerful women, and every ambitious and successful woman who is honest with herself and others knows this: As she gets up each morning and slaps on her knee-highs and her pantsuit and goes into the office to prove – yet again – that she is the smartest and most capable person there, she too can quickly engender the same kind of hate that Ms. Clinton has put up with on the campaign trail. Just by being herself.


Sara said...

it's okay to call her all those things.

it's okay for him to act that way.

listen, we elected W twice.


competence has nothing to do with it.

Cootamundra W said...

The sexism irritates me. A headline in a newspaper the other day asked why McCain would have an affair if he has such a "looker" of a wife. Is it all about looks and gender?
Am I not a person first? Well just so that people (notice I did not use a gender term) know - I AM A PERSON, with a brain and I am OH SO CAPABLE.

Sue J said...

listen, we elected W twice.

I guess that does say it all, doesn't it?

Jill said...

Excellent summary.

Sue J said...

What really is so wearying to me is that women of our age have grown up with this hope. Even though we haven't seen it, we think maybe it is possible to do anything -- even be president -- if you just worked hard and demonstrated that you are the best qualified. That that is really what matters.

And now I think we're all seeing that it's no different than a generation ago. It's still an old boys' club, and it's still endorsed by the American people.

And yes, I should take a shot for saying the word "hope." Make it a strong one.

Morgan said...

Great Post! Thank you.

Sara - Excellent point.

Sue J said...

Thanks Morgan!

Sue J said...

Thanks Jill!

zelda said...

My 49 year old brother left the dinner table when I said I would vote for Hillary Clinton. "Do you understand why Uncle Russell can't deal with Hillary Clinton?" I asked my 12 year old daughter. "Yes" she replied "It's because she has a vagina."
There's hope. (1 shot).

Sue J said...

I nominate your daughter for president, Zelda!

MLC said...

Nice post -- it does sadden me that we have not come further (poor choice of words perhaps) in our treatment of women. I never expect much from our media.

That said this still remains a historic moment in how far and how close this race is. I want Hillary in the White House.

...then we can call it "Her House" but it seems a few would like to call it the "bitch house" ...I wonder if the doorbell will be too shrill?

...I sell Bitch shirts (really) if anyone would like one go here to purchase

Hey a bitch has to pay her bills and this one will shamelessly promote herself.

BAC said...

Excellent post!


Sue J said...

Hey a bitch has to pay her bills and this one will shamelessly

well, bitch is the new black!

Sue J said...

Thanks BAC!