Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Obama wins it, but that's not my biggest disappointment

The airwaves will be full of pontification today, and I don't want to add to the ridiculousness of it all. As a Clinton supporter, of course I am disappointed at the final outcome. But let me tell you what disappoints me most about this entire Democratic primary race.

First and foremost, I am disappointed in many of my fellow Democrats, and with the Democratic leadership. I make no excuses for Hillary Clinton's defeat -- it was a very close contest, and she came close to winning. In the end, counting the Michigan voters, Clinton won the popular vote, with 17,790,119 votes to Obama's 17,495,726. Without the Michigan voters, Obama won the nomination by 0.1 percent. The popular vote is a little tricky to get a true handle on, because some states have not released their final votes tallies. Even with the best estimates, however, Obama won the popular vote by 0.2 percent. In the end, I think Barack Obama had a better marketing team and better fundraisers.

And as Hillary Clinton decides where she goes from here, so do her women supporters. You see, we all got a little beaten up during this race. I thought it would be over by now, but this morning I turned on CNN to get the final numbers, and was subjected to Obama supporter former Congressman Ben "Cooter" Jones. I wouldn't have believed if I had not heard him twice refer to Senator Clinton as "Miss Clinton."

It's the kind of subtle diminishing of our accomplishments that women have endured for our entire lives, and the kind of talk we thought was unacceptable. But in the glow of Obama's victory, not a word was said to 'ol Cooter.

Because it's still o.k. in American society to belittle and make fun of women.

You might say, well Sue J., did you just wake up to this fact? Of course not -- I've spent a lifetime competing with boys, then men. I've heard the comments around the conference room table, in the lunchroom, on the playing field. But where I hadn't heard it before was from my fellow Democrats. And that has been the biggest disappointment of this election, by far.

A while ago there was a story in the news about a man in Georgia selling t-shirts with a picture of Obama looking like the character Curious George. There was -- quite rightly -- public outcry at the racist overtones of the image. That seems to be then end of the t-shirts.

Compare that with the public reaction to the "Hillary Nutcracker." These items were proudly sold in gift shops throughout America. Because it's still o.k. in American society to belittle and make fun of women.

Many feminists have tried to co-op this language and these items, as oppressed groups often do in order to gain some control over their destiny. So, we see women buying the "Nutcracker" and declaring it to be funny. And we see the slogan "Bitch is the new black" arise as we try to take back control of language used to belittle us.

Throughout this campaign, Hillary Clinton has been subjected to (almost) unbelievably sexist comments from all angles. I won't list them all here -- Shakespeare's Sister has done a wonderful job of keeping track of the most egregious examples with the Hillary Sexism Watch, which is currently at 104. So disappointing about many of those examples is the fact that no one in the Democratic party stood up and defended this woman. Especially since the attacks often came from members of the Democratic party itself.

Of course I am proud of this country and our party for electing a man of color as the nominee. But that pride is balanced with the another truth, which -- until this year -- I naively thought was history:

It's still o.k. in American society to belittle and make fun of women.

5 comments:

Cootamundra W said...

Very well said.

Thank you for articulating my views.

Sue J said...

Thanks -- I wrote this pretty quickly, and I'm not sure how "articulate" I really was here. So I'm glad you got my point!

MLC said...

Here, here - I could not have said it better myself. Thank you for expressing how I am feeling about the campaign today.

peace-
janet

FranIAm said...

Great post- you have been to my blog and you know how I feel.

This line in your post really got me as it is part of what really is the saddest truth- "Compare that with the public reaction to the "Hillary Nutcracker." These items were proudly sold in gift shops throughout America. Because it's still o.k. in American society to belittle and make fun of women."

BAC said...

Excellent post!


BAC