On politics and gender

And why I am voting for Hilary Clinton.
In my African American Women class back in college, my professor told the story of a conversation between Frederick Douglas and Ida B. Wells. Frederick Douglass, you probably know was a well known advocate for African-American rights and social justice. Ida B. Wells had the same mission but also fought for women’s rights and women’s suffrage.

Although Douglass was always a staunch supporter of women’s rights, he is rumored to have once told Wells that they must fight for a man’s right to vote before a womans and that the higher cause was the rights of African American men over women of any race.

I don’t want to demonize this statement into something its not. There are a lot of valid reasons for him to have said this. I understand how hard it is to be an activist and want to see change in all areas and being able to only focus your energy on one.

But there are a few not-so-valid reasons for this sentiment too. And it is the sentiment that still prevails today. Sure, women can be equal as long as men go first.

Today, the world is changing. Rapidly. Benizir Bhutto is an example of that. Think of it–a FEMALE leader in a fundamentalist muslim world. That is an incredible triumph, even in the face of her tragic death.

And here we sit. America. Land of the free. Leader of the world. Where all freedom originates and radiates to the rest of the world. Yeah, not so much. America is being left behind because we refuse to face the fact that we too have become a fundamentalist nation. I wouldn’t even go so far as to call it solely religious fundamentalism. There are a lot of different ways in which America is an extremist.

And yet, here we sit as a first world, developed country to have never put forth a woman as a leader in our top two positions. That is, to put it nicely…embarrassing.

And then of course the questions come:

Don’t you want the right leader, regardless of gender?

Of course, I do. But show me anyone in our political system that is truly the ‘right’ leader. Show me a ratio of good to bad that comes out of the “good ole boy system.” Our system is corrupt and we know that. We need change. But just walking around the halls of Congress declaring that, isn’t going to make it happen. We need a leader who can play the game but has an established agenda of righting this country’s wrongs.

But you don’t want the wrong woman giving the country a bad impression of women as leaders do you?

Could a woman ever really live up to the expectations of this country? Haven’t you seen it already? Hilary is too hard/harsh, Hilary is playing the victim, Hilary isn’t strong enough to lead. There is no right way for a woman to act in this country without someone finding a way to criticize her womanhood. Can you imagine someone questioning Barak’s masculinity every time he opened his mouth? Doesn’t happen. As far as I’m concerned if we can show the world that a woman is capable of being elected, that is as much victory as I’m willing to hope for. I realize that the next four years with Hilary will be hell as she is scrutinized at every step because she is female. It won’t go well. But at least it’ll happen.

But she voted for the war!

Yes she did. She was wrong and I realize that she won’t admit it. She’s a politician, still, after all so why act surprised about that? But the bottom line was that Congress, the United Nations, America and the entire world was LIED to by Bush and his machine. That’s no litmus test to me.

Aren’t you tired of legacy presidencies? Do you really want to go Bush Clinton Bush Clinton? (this is my SO’s view)

This is a valid question. Legacy presidencies are dangerous, even if you agree with the overall ideology. But a legacy is something that is passed from parent to child, not from husband to wife. Clinton has come out against her husband on many issues and aside from basic liberal ideology, I’m not worried that she’s carrying anyone’s agenda but her own.

I actually like every single one of the Democratic candidates. Its a win win situation, really. But for once, I’m not choosing the idealistic candidate. And yes, the fact that a woman is running has helped me to come to that decision, when perhaps I wouldn’t otherwise.

But here’s the reality. Eight years ago, this country elected the most calculating stupid man on the planet. And they elected his calculating cronies who could suck up power like hungry hungry hippos while we were distracted by the idiot in the president suit.

Here’s the kicker though: Four years later, this country RE-elected all of that.

As sad as that makes me for our country, that’s what we’re dealing with here. People want change, yes. And I think a lot of people are going to vote democrat for the first time in their lives this November. But these are still the people who once saw any sense in voting Bush into office, not once but twice.

This is not an argument for electability. I think those people are going to be just as wary about voting in an unknown minority as they are a well-known woman. And I think in either case, most of them will get over it. I’m talking about getting things done once the election is over.

The people who supported and voted Bush into office are still the ones that our next president is going to have to deal with. As much as I would love for Barak to show up to work on his first day and kick out all the lobbyists, all the religious fanatics or change this country’s abject fear of socialized medicine, I just don’t think that’s going to happen.

I could be wrong. And if he wins New Hampshire, he may have the chance to prove me wrong. And I’ll be thrilled if I am.

But for me, the right person for this job at this time is Hilary Clinton. We’ve got to overhaul health care and education. We have to stop the shrinking of the middle class and the marginalization of the poor. We have to end racism in our justice system. We have to change Americans’ earth-destroying lifestyles while maintaining our economy.

And we have to do all this while cleaning up the foreign policy shitstorm that the previous administration has dumped on the world. We have to bring our troops home in a way that minimizes loss of Iraqi life and we have to rebuild relations in the middle-east while putting an end to our greedy, fanatical meddling. We have to rebuild our armed forces to take on the countries that actively threaten us. And we have to be leaders in building a coalition of countries dedicated to bringing the entire continent of Africa out of the vestiges of hunger, violence, disease and corruption.

That’s a tall order. I believe that all the democratic candidates agree that these are our challenges. But Hilary is the leader that I believe can take active steps towards convincing the rest of America that these are our priorities.

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14 Comments

Filed under Feminism, Politics

14 responses to “On politics and gender

  1. loopyloo350

    It would be nice if they held everyone to the same standards!! It seems like no matter what she does, she should have done it differently. You get the impression from the way they all go on and on that if she were a man, she would be fine, but if a woman does whatever, then it is too much or too little. And yet at the same time it is too little, too late. I honestly do not know if i want to vote for Hillary or not, but I get so frustrated listening to some of the comments made about her.

  2. femmeknitzi

    Me too, loopy loo! (that was really fun to say!)

    It will take awhile for people to discover that there’s nothing to fear from a female with power (personal, political or otherwise).

  3. loopyloo350

    Makes me glad I am no longer in the work force, I have seen so many men whose main selling points were that they were good talkers, picked over women who worked their ***** off. The really bad thing is that it was women doing the picking at least part of the time. I have been watching and listening forever it seems like, and I haven’t been that impressed by Obama. I remember JFK, RFK, Martin Luther King and many others along the way. Barack Obama is not either of those. He is a good orator, but maybe I am missing something. He just doesn’t inspire me. Four years ago, I though Edwards was inspiring at times but he seems to have lost some of that fire this time. I do wish Bill would shut up, though. It seems like everytime Hillary gets a few good moments, he steps in and falls all over his feet. I wonder if ,secretly, he doesn’t want her to win.
    On another subject, I envy your knitting. I lost the use of my left hand, I am left-handed, early last year and can no longer knit or crochet. Do you know of any tools that can help?

  4. femmeknitzi

    I have known many female administrators who retire early because they get to a point in their life where they know they will have to fight twice as hard to continue up the ladder and they just don’t have the will to fight anymore. Its very sad.

    And yes, feminism, especially as it relates to the workplace and motherhood, is about convincing everyone, not just men.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your hand! I’ve heard of some looms that you can use to knit–magic loom and what not. I’ve never used them though so I don’t know what motions you make to use them. Or maybe you could take up spinning instead–again, I’ve never done it so I don’t know if you would need to use your left hand a lot–or dying yarn.

    I understand though–I’ve been struggling with carpal tunnel every since I started knitting. So far, sleeping with the brace at night has helped though so I’m lucky that it hasn’t hindered me much.

  5. loopyloo350

    Thanks, I’ll look into the knitting looms. Hadn’t thought of them. The spinning though, that takes control, which I don’t have. Haven’t learned to use my right hand enough yet.

  6. loopyloo350

    P. S. If your Dr. recommends surgery for your Carpal Tunnel, it does work. Unfortunately, if you wait too long, sometimes you risk some nerve damage.

  7. loopyloo350

    Hotline and Huffington Post are both reporting that Hillary is thinking of skipping South Carolina. Hope it is not true. Would be awfully foolish. Wonder who she is listening to, anyway.

  8. But you don’t want the wrong woman giving the country a bad impression of women as leaders do you?

    Is she the ‘right woman’? Well, maybe no-one is the right woman.
    It irks me beyond belief that Hilary can not stand just as Hilary. Instead she is turned into a THING signifying all women. So she has burden of having to prove that women can be a serious Presidential canditate and if she doesn’t become the Dem candidate or isn’t elected to office the naysayers will point and say “See, women can’t cut it.”

  9. femmeknitzi

    That is a MUCH better answer than what I came up with. Bravo!

  10. loopyloo350

    They would rather play their little games of predicting and listen to each other instead of actually getting out there and just listening to actual people before they report. It seems like they would rather stir up controversy. I wish someone would ask all the candidates how they stand on what I read in AlterNet this morning about the Pentagon and Big Pharma coming up with a plan to drug the soldiers so ” they don’t have to face the horrors of war”. I still don’t know who I will support, but this is one they I hope they will come out with a statement saying they will oppose it.

  11. loopyloo350

    Oh yeah, read this comment by Chris Matthews from MSNBC that was also on AlterNet this morning ……….”The reason she’s a U.S. Senator, the reason she’s a candidate for President, the reason she may be a front-runner, is her husband messed around. That’s how she got to be Senator from New York. We keep forgetting it. She didn’t win it on the merits…” this is just so typical and it makes me angry that they thinks it is ok to go on national tv and make such demeaning remarks about someone, anyone. but they wouldn’t do it about a man. I can not hear any man saying “well he only got where he is because his wife cheated on him” , they would be more likely to admire the man because he got where he was in spite of his wife. How ridiculous is that!!!!

  12. femmeknitzi

    Loopy, check out this article: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1702043-1,00.html

    It has an interesting interaction in it between Hillary and Chris Matthews.

    You know, no one gives her credit as being the first First Lady to actually take on a major social issue. I mean, sure, reading is FUNdamental, but Hillary wouldn’t have the fluff. As First Lady she was willing to take risks–particularly risking failure–in order to get something truly impactful done for this country.

    She was a co-President far more than she was a first lady. She has far more merits than Chris has journalistic ethics!!

    And its funny how Matthews forgets what a long shot her New York campaign was. Remember all that talk about how unlikely it was that New Yorkers would elect someone who wasn’t ‘one of them?’ She triumphed and got where she was in Congress because she’s good at what she does!

  13. loopyloo350

    It just makes me angry that so many men have this attitude that everything a woman accomplishes is because of their husbands when most of the time it’s in spite of their husbands. Sorry i am ranting, but this is one of those things that really ticks me off

  14. loopyloo350

    oh, I saw that on MSNBC, they played it over and over the other day, but it didn’t stop him from getting in his digs and I just think they were totally out of line.

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