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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Misogyny: Hard to spell, easy to practice

Misogyny I Won't Miss
By Marie Cocco
Thursday, May 15, 2008; A15

As the Democratic nomination contest slouches toward a close, it's time to take stock of what I will not miss.

I will not miss seeing advertisements for T-shirts that bear the slogan "Bros before Hos." The shirts depict Barack Obama (the Bro) and Hillary Clinton (the Ho) and are widely sold on the Internet.

I will not miss walking past airport concessions selling the Hillary Nutcracker, a device in which a pantsuit-clad Clinton doll opens her legs to reveal stainless-steel thighs that, well, bust nuts. I won't miss television and newspaper stories that make light of the novelty item.

I won't miss episodes like the one in which liberal radio personality Randi Rhodes called Clinton a "big [expletive] whore" and said the same about former vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro. Rhodes was appearing at an event sponsored by a San Francisco radio station, before an audience of appreciative Obama supporters -- one of whom had promoted the evening on the presumptive Democratic nominee's official campaign Web site.

I won't miss Citizens United Not Timid (no acronym, please), an anti-Clinton group founded by Republican guru Roger Stone.

Political discourse will at last be free of jokes like this one, told last week by magician Penn Jillette on MSNBC: "Obama did great in February, and that's because that was Black History Month. And now Hillary's doing much better 'cause it's White Bitch Month, right?" Co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski rebuked Jillette.

I won't miss political commentators (including National Public Radio political editor Ken Rudin and Andrew Sullivan, the columnist and blogger) who compare Clinton to the Glenn Close character in the movie "Fatal Attraction." In the iconic 1987 film, Close played an independent New York woman who has an affair with a married man played by Michael Douglas. When the liaison ends, the jilted woman becomes a deranged, knife-wielding stalker who terrorizes the man's blissful suburban family. Message: Psychopathic home-wrecker, begone.

The airwaves will at last be free of comments that liken Clinton to a "she-devil" (Chris Matthews on MSNBC, who helpfully supplied an on-screen mock-up of Clinton sprouting horns). Or those who offer that she's "looking like everyone's first wife standing outside a probate court" (Mike Barnicle, also on MSNBC).

But perhaps it is not wives who are so very problematic. Maybe it's mothers. Because, after all, Clinton is more like "a scolding mother, talking down to a child" (Jack Cafferty on CNN).

When all other images fail, there is one other I will not miss. That is, the down-to-the-basics, simplest one: "White women are a problem, that's -- you know, we all live with that" (William Kristol of Fox News).

I won't miss reading another treatise by a man or woman, of the left or right, who says that sexism has had not even a teeny-weeny bit of influence on the course of the Democratic campaign. To hint that sexism might possibly have had a minimal role is to play that risible "gender card."

Most of all, I will not miss the silence.

I will not miss the deafening, depressing silence of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean or other leading Democrats, who to my knowledge (with the exception of Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland) haven't publicly uttered a word of outrage at the unrelenting, sex-based hate that has been hurled at a former first lady and two-term senator from New York. Among those holding their tongues are hundreds of Democrats for whom Clinton has campaigned and raised millions of dollars. Don Imus endured more public ire from the political class when he insulted the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

Would the silence prevail if Obama's likeness were put on a tap-dancing doll that was sold at airports? Would the media figures who dole out precious face time to these politicians be such pals if they'd compared Obama with a character in a blaxploitation film? And how would crude references to Obama's sex organs play?

There are many reasons Clinton is losing the nomination contest, some having to do with her strategic mistakes, others with the groundswell for "change." But for all Clinton's political blemishes, the darker stain that has been exposed is the hatred of women that is accepted as a part of our culture.

Marie Cocco is syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group. Her e-mail address is


ROBERTA said...

Wow - that is a powerful piece...and so true....sigh....

Muthah+ said...

It is powerful--but then again, are we surprised. Women may have "come a long way, baby," but it is clear that we ain't there yet!

doug said...

Sorry, but I beg to disagree with the entire article. Hillary lost because she did not run as good a campaingn as Obama. Period. Last year, it was assumed that she would have her coronation in 2008. However, Obama essentially moved to Iowa & campaigned there all winter, as his staff sought out supporters throughout the country. When she did not capture the nomination after 'Super Tuesday," as her campaign has assumed, Obama won eleven (11) straight contests, as her campaign had not done advance planning after super Tuesday.
Imagine if this situation were reversed: if she now had >50% of the elected delegates. Would Obama supporters be playing the 'race' card?
Here is a current artilce dealing with this issue in more detail:

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Sorry, Doug. You missed "the whole point" of the article. It was not about Hillary losing (and, she hasn't lost YET), it's about misogyny. Oh, and what some of us won't miss.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Doug - the last paragraph reads:

"There are many reasons Clinton is losing the nomination contest, some having to do with her strategic mistakes, others with the groundswell for "change." But for all Clinton's political blemishes, the darker stain that has been exposed is the hatred of women that is accepted as a part of our culture."

Jim of L-Town said...

The true irony is that Hillary is failing because she tied her future to a man.
Her biggest claim to fame is that she is married to a popular former President.
That particular fact is so contradictory to the feminist message that it begs the question why any feminist ever stood by her.
Remember her "Stand by Her Man" posture during a time when Bill was playing sexual harassment with an intern in the White House.
The truth is Hillary would never have been the U.S. Senator from New York if she hadn't ridden the coattails of her popular husband into Congress.
The number one item on her resume is: I was married to Bill Clinton. That's a reason to pity her, not vote for her.
All three candidates are judged and mocked on characteristics over which they have no control: Race, gender and age.
As she herself said, if you can't stand the heat...." (Actually it was another great President who said that.)
I will vote for Obama because he can't do any worse than the other two and maybe he will do better.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Huh. Well, as a feminist, but more because I have eyes, it's clear to me that Bill Clinton would not have gotten where he is without Hillary. She's smarter than he is, took the heat for him on his own Health Care Fiasco, and stood on high moral ground when he was in the midst of a scandal. She was his ticket into the White House, his ticket to stay in the White House and his ticket back into the White House.

She may not win the nomination, but she has paved the way for Bill Clinton's legacy as well as for the next woman who will be nominated and elected POTUS.

Anonymous said...

I've been a feminist since I was old enough to read the word (c. age 9, 1971?). "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people". Well, I was female, and that was my expected future, so sign me up! It seemed entirely consistent w/ what another great liberator of the times had said: where one would be judged ONLY for "the content of their character."

And yet NOW, it seems like "feminism" has come to mean "OVERLOOK the flaws in one woman's character---policies, votes, rhetoric, etc---simply BECAUSE she's a woman"!

If feminism has now become merely a "My Hillary, My Self" projection . . . then I'm turning in my card. After all these years. {Sigh}

PatrickB said...

Agreed; I won't miss any of this either.

As long as we're on the subject, though, I also won't miss hearing Hillary talk about how we shouldn't nominate a candidate because he's not getting support among "hard working Americans, white Americans", Bill talk about how Jesse Jackson won South Carolina, too, Geraldine talk about how Obama is fortunate to be black (thanks, Geraldine, for destroying the fond memories), and Hillary bring up Rev. Wright every day for a month.

Paul (A.) said...

Then there is this from Sen. Obama's speech yesterday: Senator Clinton "has shattered myths and broken barriers and changed the America in which my daughters and your daughters will come of age, and for that we are grateful to her."

Frair John said...

I'm not gonna miss the whole damned campain. The class/gender/race/age stuff has been frustrating beyond words.

When I was taking a class on Femenist theology, one of the things I noticed was how conversations tended to break down along lines in class. European, middle class, heterosexual women tended to have very particular ideas. When, say, an African American woman, spoke from a different place or a lesbian had a different perspective these were reativised to the "default" position of the others. The comments from a woman raised in a decidedly middle class background were allways relegated to a lesser place. Lets not even go to where a Gay man's opinions were dumped.

The reason why I brought this up is that I don't think we can deal with any form of prejudice, without nameing and wrestling with all of them at the same time.