Thursday, June 05, 2008

Happy, but not satisfied.

I completely agree with Matter-Eater Lad's comments here.

However, there is a reason I was torn about which candidate to support when I caucused:

"Prejudice against older women, apparently, is one of the last non-taboo biases. I've been stunned by the extent to which trashing Clinton supporters as washed up old white women is acceptable. A writer whose work I respect submitted a piece addressed to "old white feminists," telling them to get out of Obama's way. I've found my own writing often dismissed not on its merits (or lack thereof) but because as a woman who will turn 50 in September, I'm supposed to be Clinton's demographic. Salon's letters pages, as well as the comments sections around the blogosphere, are studded with dismissive, derisive references to bitter old white women."

I myself have encountered people who never liked Hillary, who thought it was OK in the past to say extremely sexist things about her and especially her appearance, who have been whole-hearted Obama supporters. They may be totally sincere, with no sexist agenda now, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I am *extremely* excited about Barack Obama as a candidate (and I have issues with some of Clinton's recent and not-so-recent campaign strategies), and I did end up caucusing for Obama, but that doesn't mean that this sort of sexism has gone away, or that there aren't whole segments of our society that find it charming to wax nostalgic about days when women had very few choices and very little power. I once got into a heated argument with someone who was somewhat aghast that the struggle of women in this country was in any way being compared to that of African Americans in this country. That person, not wrongly, argued that the direct consequences of slavery have no equal. However, to trivialize the struggle for women's rights in this country and across the world is a mistake, and to try to pretend that sexism isn't present every day is naive. It is not unusual for people who are considered mainstream to talk about how much more wonderful it would be for our families to go back to days when women always stayed home with the kids (not chose to do so, but had to do so, and there is no option for men to stay home for the kids in that scenario), times when women had no options but to go from being protected by their fathers to being protected by their husbands with no way out if something went wrong. What would the reaction be in a similarly-positioned person said something like that about the days when African Americans had to sit at the back of the bus? Racism AND sexism are alive and well in this country, and neither one should be able to be considered acceptable in any way.

I should also add that I do not think that sexism hurt Hillary Clinton more than racism hurt Barack Obama. Both were and are present here.

Edited to add:

Per Matter-Eater Lad's post, I do think one major difference is that women really thought Hillary Clinton could be the nominee and then president, while African-Americans really thought that Barack Obama could never do it. This difference could explain why so many people feel like this nomination was taken away from Hillary while people would not have felt that way if Barack had lost.

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