Racism in my feminism? You don’t say…
Hillary Clinton: Bow to the man, and take the vice presidency. Let our country heal. You will run in eight years and be unstoppable as a visionary world leader. You must pass through this filter first though: bow to the man.
Now, I’ll bet reading that made you want to reach for a hammer right? You’re thinking “What kind of sexist BS is this?” and possibly questioning my sanity. You’re right. It is sexist and I would sound insane if I were typing something like this with any serious intentions behind it. Of course it would be even more ludicrous if this was actually being widely disseminated and had people agreeing with it, but that’ll never happen right? Right. Except…something like it is being disseminated and people are agreeing with it. The message is a little different though. It actually reads:
“Barack Obama: Bow to the woman, and take the vice presidency. Let our country heal. You will run in eight years and be unstoppable as a visionary world leader. You must pass through this filter first though: bow to the woman.”
and there are people that actually think this racist drivel has some validity. Now, I know at least a few people are thinking “Well it’s Roseanne Barr, who cares what she has to say?” and that’s probably a pretty valid response for most things. But right now she’s actually just voicing the thought a lot of white feminists are harboring as they spout things like “Black men had the vote first” or when they start talking about those pesky brown women putting their skin before their gender and then have the temerity to start trying to chastise us for not operating in sisterhood. She left out the word “white” before woman, but the subtext is there for all the world to see.
Perhaps this is one of those things that hasn’t been made clear in previous years so I’m going to make it clear now. I’m not going to side with a bigot against a black man. I’m not going to side with a bigot against a black woman. In fact? I’m not going to side with a bigot period. SNL had a sketch this week that is (I think) meant to be lampooning Hillary’s desperation, but if you only catch the middle of the sketch? It’s pretty damned racist. And it’s not like this phenomenon is restricted to entertainers. Gloria Steinem, Erica Jong, and Robyn Morgan have also weighed in, and in some really ugly ways all while claiming to be looking out for all women. Meanwhile Hillary’s campaign has given them no reason to stop as she can’t even be bothered to say that these tactics are unacceptable. On the contrary, her official campaign has been busy indulging in similar behavior, and then insisting that Obama is playing the race card when there’s even a hint of protest at the egregious displays of race-baiting. Shockingly, racism is visible well before someone sets a cross on fire in the front yard and claiming to mean no offense while repeatedly using bigotry as a campaign tactic isn’t going to fly.
It’s been very clear throughout this election cycle that racism was going to be a factor even as people swore up and down that sexism was worse than racism. There’s this underlying idea that gender and race can be separated and that when people speak of women that umbrella means that all women (regardless of ethnicity) have the same concerns and so in this election getting to see a woman in power is far more important than any other consideration. Yet when you sit down and look at the history of the feminist movement and the transition to women being in the workplace? You’re primarily talking about white women. WOC were already working. Usually in low paying jobs with no future and only a guarantee of the work being physically and emotionally draining. In fact that transition of white women to the workforce took place in large part because white women were able to hand over the care of their children to poor WOC who were shut out of even pink collar jobs for years after white women were free to pursue the dream of having it all.
That same attitude is still prevalent with so many white feminists who are willing to insist that WOC should support this grand achievement while ignoring the reality that putting a bigot (and before someone fires off an angry comment or email insisting Hillary’s background is proof she isn’t racist, think about that old adage with the ducks) in the White House isn’t exactly in the best interests of WOC. Being a feminist doesn’t make you immune to racism, or classism, or any of the other ‘isms that are so frequently discussed in feminist circles. But, it seems to be one of the few ‘isms that is accepted as long as it’s displayed with a (thin) veneer of being about fighting the patriarchy. Look at the rhetoric from Marion Wagner, a regional director of NOW
“The issue that’s not being talked about in this campaign is the blatant sexism,” Wagner said, her words echoing off the granite walls. “There are some people who promote Barack Obama because they want anybody but a woman. Would they like a white man instead of a black man? Of course. But they’ll take a black man over a woman. I never thought, in 2008, that we’d still be dealing with this.”
who then goes on to say that Obama pulling out Hillary’s chair is evidence of his sexism just to make sure we know she’s not upset that he’s a black candidate. Which would sound great if it weren’t for the part of the article where she (like so many other white feminists) is quick to jump on the bandwagon that a vote for Obama from black women couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the issues. No, it’s all about them choosing race over gender which I guess is an easy assumption to make if you can’t be bothered to listen to black women that aren’t willing to follow your lead. After all, it’s not like they have the capacity or the right to think for themselves. Oh wait…
There’s an ever growing gap in the feminist movement, and I’m sure the argument is going to be made that WOC aren’t willing to do what it takes to bridge the gap while ignoring that the prospect of dealing with the internalized racism of so-called allies just isn’t an attractive proposition. It’s not sisterhood if the movement insists on treating WOC alternately like mules, children, or part of the scenery unless it needs their support. Would I like to see a woman in the White House? Sure. But I’d really like that woman to be someone who doesn’t think she has a right to my vote. Who recognizes me as an intelligent person with valid concerns even if they are different from her concerns. Who can grasp the idea that my skin color and my gender are a part of who I am; but they are not all that I am, and thus listening to what I have to say is necessary and important in order to help me achieve MY goals. I want to vote for a female President because I believe in her, not because she’s Miss Daisy.
Karnythia is a writer, a historian, and occasionally a loud mouth. In between raising hell and raising kids she usually manages to find time to contemplate the meaning of life as a black woman in America.” Her posts on any topic can be found at her Livejournal.
64 thoughts on “Racism in my feminism? You don’t say…”
I have read a lot of (valid) criticism of Hillary and race. There has certainly been plenty of ugliness from her campaign (I’m thinking in particular of the recent circulation of the Obama-in-a-turban picture, and the fear-mongering around that). This stuff is important, and I’m glad to see posts about it.
But what I would really like to know more about (because I’ve honestly seen very little of it) is the flip side of this — Obama and women’s issues. I’m less concerned with whether Obama has testicles or ovaries than I am about his actual policies. After all, Ann Coulter has ovaries. What good has she done?
But I’ve yet to see any substantive discussion of Obama’s policies regarding women’s issues. I’ve seen plenty of criticism about Hillary and race (which, as I said, is important, and I’m glad to see it. The turban picture, and the campaign’s denial of racism afterwards, was really very low…), I’ve seen information on Hillary and gender and information on Obama and race. I have seen almost no discussion of Obama and his actual policies, votes, and concerns about women’s issues. So, does anyone know any useful discussion or site with info on Obama’s actual past behavior w/ regards to women’s issues? Because what little I have seen, in the beginning of the campaigns (last summer, before I got sick of the primaries and stopped paying attention), wasn’t good.
I know that during his stint here in Illinois as a state Senator he was instrumental in expanding state health coverage for women without children. I also know he’s been a huge proponent of cracking down on deadbeat dads, and alleviating the stress on women living in poverty by better subsidization of things like daycare and FMLA. His policies tend to be framed in terms of making things better for everyone and not just focused on women, but I have to say as someone that lived in a state where he played a huge role in our move toward greatly expanded healthcare coverage he’s never been one to ignore the concerns of women.
UGH. All this focus on racist and sexist comments — AND NOT ON THE ISSUES — only confirms to me that we have a lot of problems in this society, and it doesn’t make me feel that optimistic about the upcoming election.
And to add to karynthia’s comment, Obama has also received a 100% approval rating from the most important pro-choice organizations (see dailykos.com’s “25 Reasons to Vote for Barack Obama”), so I certainly consider him a feminist.
I’ve really been enjoying your posts here, Karnythia, and I’m so glad for this one. In response to the first comment, what has Sen. Clinton done (as an elected official) for women? I think the fact of her being a woman is definitely not enough for me to assume that she’s done good things for women (as with the A Coulter reference you cite).
As far as policy goes, I always say if we want to know what the candidates are promising, we should look at their websites and position papers, as well as listen to their campaign speeches and ads.
I’m not a supporter of Hillary Clinton, but as a woman was insulted by her ad in which she was shown working late hours in her office with the intention of saying “I’ve been there too” to women who work long hours or night jobs. Pulling a third shift at the 24 grocery store or nursing home is way different than being a politician or lawyer working a late night.
So much more to say on the actual subject of your post, but I am feeling hot-headed and ineloquent at the moment.
Thanks again for this great post.
Great post Karnythia. As always, eloquent and fabulous.
Ico, you nearly had me choking on this one: “After all, Ann Coulter has ovaries. What good has she done?”
Too too true… :)
To reply to “what has Hillary Clinton done for women?” —
Granted I haven’t really paid much attention to her before the primaries this year, so I’m not as familiar with her past as other people who are older and have followed politics longer. But the fact that she has a high representation of women on her staff is significant (in fact, the women slightly outweigh the men, though only slightly; most other presidential candidate staffs skew heavily male, including Obama’s). When I checked the list of legislation she had sponsored or attempted to sponsor, there was quite a bit of stuff there pertaining to women’s issues — not just choice, but other stuff. And she has consistently addressed issues such as the Supreme Court’s verdict on suing for pay inequity. Even when she was on Walmart’s board (which certainly counts against her, btw), she fought for women’s rights there. I suspect that because she has experienced a lot of sexism directly she’s far more attuned to and committed to battling it than Obama. In a privileged white woman sort of way, unfortunately. But she does address it, at least.
I have never heard Obama raise any women’s issue other than abortion in debates or speeches, or on his website, back when I was checking it out in the summer to try and figure where he stood. I’m glad it sounds like his policies generally benefit women. But I don’t see him addressing sexism directly as Hillary and Edwards did, which is why it concerned me. I am hoping since he has two daughters he will start paying more direct attention to the problems women of all colors face, and talking about them.
But I am glad to hear your take on him, Karynthia. That makes me feel a little bit better about him, though I would still like to hear him sit down and talk about this stuff.
The woman is crazy. Seriously. Nothing boggles my mind more than people like that. It’d be like a gay person supporting homophobic laws (which also happens all too frequently O_o). Sadly she’s far from the only woman about whom I would make that comment…
When I was researching the candidates on their stances on issues, I came across the following website. I found it useful since it sorts by topic, then by candidate. This was just one of the many sites I visited, but helpful nonetheless…..
By the way- I also just googled the candidates names and topics, like LGBTQ or abortion, to find other sites about their stance on issues. Hope this helps….
I’m with Nina.
If the campaign race is going to completely ignore issues (this is just a hypothetical, you understand…) and boil down to “Vote Clinton: She’s a woman!” vs. “Vote Obama: He’s black!”, then I only see 1 way out of the deadlock.
ABW for president.
Oh, and that quote about Ann Coultier? Someone needs to print T-shirts with that on.
An ever growning gap! Its always been apparent!
In the complexity of being a women and being black, too often I am asked to separate my gender from my race.
My retorical question is “why?’ in discussion of Obama’s race do we forget his Mother, a white women who married an African — not an African American man — and then a man of another race.
Race is a cultural reality, and unfortunately in the deep recesses of our minds, we continue to define individuals by race and assumed characteristics.
I’m not a fan of the Clintons because I remember his political and social stance as president. It was recently, he brought up race as a criteria for election.
The populus should read articles and comments written by the Edlemans during the Clinton years!
In reporting on voting projections, where there is a numerically significant African American black population the assumption is they will vote for Obama. There are approximately 26 different Hispanic cultures living in this country, yet they are all classified as one group, who votes for Hillary.
There is a great deal wrong with this picture, generalities, etc.
Classification to group is to predict!
If Obama began talking about black women, wouldn’t you question is responses related to his mother and his wife?
One writer has referred to his daughters within these comments! They hid meanings that separate race and gender!
We separate gender and race without thought!
I have not been a fan of the Billary operation in years, not since his arrogant selfish stupidity paralyzed his tenure in office and left no legacy except a cult of his personality, and nothing at all for progressives to build that bridge into the future.
I thought well enough for Hillary that I was glad she was running for Senator from my state in 2000. But since she became Senator I’ve become progressively more disgusted with her — and with Bill and with Billary, until now I’m actively hostile. The hostility began when it became how she lied to us about using the seat to launch herself for the presidency, and more so with her voting record on Iraq and many other issues.
What she’ll do for women? Drag that arrogant stupid selfish Bill back into the White House to do something equally paralyzing to her presidency, among others.
The just breaking scandal with the governor of our state? Spitzer’s a superdelegate. He’s a big fund-raiser and campaign booster for Hillary. What has he done? Exactly the same thing as Bill.
While she’s prancing about the country talking about how Obama isn’t ready to be POTUS, but he’s ready to be her Vice POTUS — but excuse me? WTF is that????? Other than more of teh stupid that she is showing more of every dayemed day.
Spitzer’s done exactly the same thing as Bill Clinton? I don’t recall any allegations of Clinton paying for sex. Clinton slept around, yes, but that’s not the same thing.
But let’s add that Bill Clinton left more than a cult of personality as his legacy–Clinton, not any Republican, but Clinton, destroyed AFDC and abandoned the promise of the New Deal. Which is why my mother simply could not bring herself to vote for him the second time around. Clinton won not by being liberal, because he wasn’t, but by moving the party to the right. It worked, and he’s still light-years better than Bush, not least because he can put five words together in a row without making some kind of humiliating grammatical error, but also because he actually researched issues and thought about them. Remember, he rode to office on the promise of national health care, and that was blown to shit not by him or Hillary, but by Congress. That should have been his legacy, but he couldn’t make it happen. I wonder if either Hillary or Obama would be able to.
my first time on your site, and it is truly a wonderful find! i have some many thoughts running through my head…the fact that any presidental candidate would suggest that we would vote based on race OR gender is demeaning…as Oprah stated “don’t play me small” we as Black women are so much more than our race or simply our gender it is a complex and complicated combination to be just that a BLACK WOMAN so we have to look at all sides of every story and pick which one will not only work for US but for OUR community!
we don’t have the priviledge to separate the two…
again, wonderful site!
Hillary’s health plan was a disaster of complication and give-aways to the medical insurance industy. Her current plan is the same.
Bill did do the same thing: he was selfish and arrogant and stupid. He knew the rethugs were after him — and after him particularly on this issue of his self-granted sexual license. Spitzer knew the rethugs were after him. But he arrogantly, stupidly and selfishly went ahead with his self-destructive behavior — which destroys far more than just himself. What’s going to happen to the pro-choice program he was pushing for women’s reproductive rights — for just one instance?
“Gloria Steinem, Erica Jong, and Robyn Morgan have also weighed in, and in some really ugly ways all while claiming to be looking out for all women. Meanwhile Hillary’s campaign has given them no reason to stop as she can’t even be bothered to say that these tactics are unacceptable.”
Great post, Karnythia! Can we now add Geraldine Ferraro to that esteemed list? It’s interesting that several leading feminist blogs have been mum on her recent comments concerning Obama, and also on Rosie’s sexism.
Transgressingengineer — thanks for the link. Yes, I visited ontheissues and votesmart in the beginning when I was looking into the three main candidates (and investigating for myself just how scary the Republicans are O_o). Then I googled some specific issues, and that’s how I came across diversity statistics and suchlike. I had no trouble finding info on Hillary and women’s issues — just Obama. That’s why I asked about it.
I even did a direct comparison of their voting record, checking *every* vote, until I got sick of it about halfway through because it was 90% the same… they’re both corporate candidates with serious flaws (for instance they both supported the Patriot Act. Um, yay?), and a lot of their stances/records are identical.
Of course, they’re worlds better than any of the Republicans. ;) Maybe after 2008 a little bit of sanity will return to this country.
1. I’ve lost complete respect for Bill and Hillary from the way she acted in her campaign.
2. The old lady 1970’s feminist movement is not in touch with reality. America is heading for an economic depression and people are losing their homes. They don’t notice that there are families, women and children living in shelters and motels. The dollar is tanking and inflation is taking a bite at the food store. All their Helen Ready “I am woman hear me roar” about the media, Obama, the voting public being sexist towards Hillary is outdated and it doesn’t help stop America going down the drain.
3. Hillary is supported by the drug companies, Health insurance companies etc.. Bill and Hillary brought corporate funding into the DNC.
4. Obama is supported by people that mail their pennies to him and his message is that yes America is in trouble. Washington’s game is for the rich, but he can help America change and Americans take back Washington. Obama reminds Americans that the politics of divide and conquer is how Americans continue to get screwed. Obama is the first politician that I’ve seen in a long time that tells the American people united we can take back Washington but we have to be active. Obama is bringing back the 1960’s.
You forgot the age thing in this election between the baby boomers that were born in 1940 and the baby boomers born from 1960-1964. Obama’s generation think that Hillary and Bill’s generation are the most selfish, hypocritical, and screwed up generation of the 20th century. Lots of 40 year old support Obama.
I feel like telling Hilary, Bill and Gloria Steinman “go away you hippies and build your Woodstock muesuem. It’s my generation’s turn to take over the government.”
One more thing why does Saturday Night Live have a white actor playing Obama? I never watch the show anymore, but couldn’t they find a black actor to play him?
Also Michelle Obama has class, style and taste. She is going to make a great first lady.
You think the media and the voting public being sexist against Hillary is outdated? Seriously? That’s as bad as all the comments about Obama not having to deal with racism! To anyone who’s been remotely following the campaign it’s been clear how incredibly misogynistic and degrading much of the media attention on Hillary has been, from articles in the WaPo about her cleavage to all kinds of sexist remarks by MSNBC (like pimping out Chelsea) to the “iron my shirt” guys from the voting public. Yes the white feminist movement of the older generation is full of racism, and yes it needs replacing. Of course the issues of class privilege, poverty, etc., are hugely important. But that doesn’t negate the reality of the hurdles Hillary Clinton has faced. To deny the reality of the institutionalized sexism that she struggles with on a daily basis is just… Really? Even if you don’t like her. “Outdated”… really?
When (Please take note of my word choice) Obama wins the Dem nomination, he should pick Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate! HA HA…okay I’ll stop. Personally I’m hopping he’ll pick someone like Cornel West or Lani Guinier but that just might be a foolish pipedream on my part. The Ladies over at the “White Noise” blog had an interesting and similar post and I commented there:
So many white women, prominent white women even, seem hell bent on demanding that WOC prove their sisterhood in voting for the (white?) uterus as opposed to voting for that icky old patriarchal (black?) penis! I admit that most times white feminists sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher to me (Mwaaaaw Mwaaaw). But because of the forthcoming election I’ve started listening again and while what I hear angers me I realize that in a historical sense it’s still “same shit, different day”. As a Southern WOC I can’t help thinking all that feminists rhetoric still sounds suspiciously like every “Ms. Anne” I’ve ever known telling me or some other poor, ignorant, non-white soul what to do! And if you don’t do what I say I’ll tell Mr. Charlie and you know what that means [Insert index finger making cutting motion against throat]! I know it’s childish but I’m tempted to vote for Barack just because white woman told me NOT to! Anyway, back to your post…white feminism definitely has a PR/perception problem (The fact that there is still such a thing as “White Feminism” speaks volumes) but I honestly don’t know how to help. When I start thinking we’ve made strides, along comes something like the example I mentioned above to show me just how far we still have to go.
Love your blog! Please keep up the good work. I may not always agree with everything you write but I adore hearing your voice! You really give me hope!
Ferraro has sealed the deal for me. I understand that the media has been sexist towards Clinton, and racist towards Obama. I believe Obama has made a few gendered cracks; I’m not sure I agree with that interpretation in all cases, but OK. But at this point I’m seeing a relentless barrage of strategically-planned and deliberate, blatantly racist attacks from Clinton’s various attack dogs. She’s shunted the worst work onto her white female staffers instead of Bill because maybe she figured a white male couldn’t get away with the same shit and white women could. I don’t know, but this crap has settled the entire contest, for me. I don’t want this woman in office. I don’t want any person who thinks this way and stoops to these kinds of tactics, in office. You’ve made a lot of Clinton having more women in her campaign staff, and have rightly pointed out that campaign staffers often turn into Cabinet members. I don’t want Clinton’s staffers making decisions about this country. She’s picking too many cranky old second-generation feminists like Ferraro who have no problem throwing WoC under the bus. She’s had too many of them show their ass in recent weeks. It’s nice that she’s got lots of women working for her, but I don’t want these women in charge.
At this point, even if Clinton wins the nomination, I don’t think I can vote for her. Between her and McCain we’d have six of one, half dozen of another. I think all the enthusiasm I’ve had for this political contest will fritter away, and I’ll just stay home on Election Day.
Fair enough. I’m pretty disgusted with these second-gen feminists myself, and that Obama-turban pic didn’t help. I’ve also got a lot of problems with Obama (some of which I’ve listed before, so no sense going there really). I don’t particularly like either of them, especially after this campaign season. But I think both of them are worlds better than Bush, and I’m going to be voting for whoever runs in the general election. McCain is… crazy (though thankfully not as scary as 9iu11iani). I’m 100 percent positive that any Democrat is better than any Republican, at least w/ regards to this particular race. (Just think about the Supreme Court…)
But these comments from the Clinton camp are really inexcusable. It needs to stop.
Looking to a brighter future… at some point, all these second gen feminists will die off, no? Along with all those old white men who are so much fun? Maybe then I won’t have to feel embarrassment over the label “feminist.”
I’m 100 percent positive that any Democrat is better than any Republican, at least w/ regards to this particular race. (Just think about the Supreme Court…)
I don’t agree. Until recently I liked McCain; he’s always been the only Republican I might’ve could’ve maybe sorta voted for, simply because he seems to be the only one who’s sane and has some principles. I don’t like him enough to vote for him, and I am pretty much convinced that the Republicans are the party of the Antichrist, but at this point I don’t like Clinton enough to vote for her either. They’re really starting to feel the same to me, and I’m worried that if she gets the job, she’d defend abortion but at the cost of other things I care about to an equal degree, like the last tattered remnants of Affirmative Action. I’m worried she’d continue the policies of her husband (e.g., welfare “reform”, destroying the student financial aid system, allowing credit card companies to set bankruptcy/debt policy), sacrificing the needs of poor people for the interests of big business, and calling this “liberalism”. I have no idea whether Obama would be any better; he’s a little affluent-centric for me too. But at least I don’t know he’ll stab me in the back, whereas I feel no such reassurance about Clinton anymore.
I don’t think McCain has the principles of a dead rhino. He sucked up to Jimmy Swaggart, he sucked up to Bush, he’s a quisling on torture. If he gets the job, he’ll sacrifice all those things and abortion rights too. Fun times for everyone here in early 21st-century US.
You know, Ico, there are plenty of second-wave feminists who aren’t being hateful racists, but they’re not getting the platforms of the others. Probably something to do with being more marginalized the further you get from the dominant discourse.
I used to think McCain was kind of sane… until his “bomb bomb bomb Iran” song and all that stuff about being in Iraq until the end of time. That and LGBT issues put me firmly against the man. The only Republican who seems endurable is Ron Paul.
Ron Paul wants to withdraw from the UN and end federal income tax! That would destroy the social programs and educational funding that sustain this country. He’s also wildly anti-choice, wants to end birthright citizenship and let people opt out of social security, and he puts private property rights ahead of environmentalism.
OK, here’s what I really want to say, Ico. When you talk about a happy thought being that someday “all these” second-wave feminists will die off, you are literally talking about my mother, who not only has not and would not say shit like this, but who brought me up to be an anti-racist feminist and who has continued to learn and read leftist politics to the present day. That’s not OK with me.
I’m not ashamed to call myself a feminist because of Ferrarro et al’s racism any more than I’m ashamed to call myself an anti-racist because of Eldridge Cleaver et al’s sexism. People can do and think great things and still do and think horrible things, and the horrible-ness doesn’t get to own the entire movement.
Yeah… I’m aware Ron Paul is crazy. I just think he’s slightly *less* crazy because he’s not a fear mongering pro-Patriot Act hawk trying to strip away our civil liberties, wiretap the entire nation, continue torture, and kill countless people overseas.
He has some precious moments of absolute weirdness, though. He thinks UNICEF is bad (though only a “little” bad). But he also thinks NAFTA and the WTO are bad. Which is… kinda good, I guess. And canceled out by a lot of his other crazy ideas, including his stance against the separation of church and state (WHAT??? Seriously? That seems contradictory to everything else he believes, but whatever…)
He’d never get support from Congress though. And he’d keep us out of war. So… crazy, but not as toxic, IMO.
You are right, Veronica. I was being a bit flippant and didn’t literally mean that (anymore than I literally believe that all white males of a certain generation are awful — I mean, my father’s a white male of that generation, and a very good man like many others).
The white feminist movement, for all its faults, has advanced a lot of things in the world. And there are plenty of white feminists who have been actively anti-racist and have not spewed out such nonsense. The media gives a voice to those who bring controversy (and racism, and sexism, etc).
If I were being accurate (and not so flippant, which I shouldn’t have been), I would have said that I’m hoping at some point the racist ideology that has dominated a lot of second wave feminism will die. Steinem et al, for all their faults, have made huge strides in our society, and I don’t literally wish any harm on them. Goodness no! I really didn’t mean for what I said to be taken in a serious light. It was just an expression of frustration at the consistently idiotic and racist comments that so many of these prominent voices keep making.
I apologize for offending you.
But I do consider it an embarrassment. Because statements like Ferraro’s et al’s are being presented to mainstream society as What Feminism Is, it *does* matter a great deal to me what these women say. Maybe the horrible-ness *shouldn’t* get to own the entire movement, but the reality is that for many people Ferraro or Steinem define the label “feminism.” In the perception of mainstream society, that’s what white feminism is about. At least until the rest of us can speak up loudly enough to change the dominant discourse.
So, yes, for the time being, I am an embarrassed white feminist.
I appreciate what you’re saying and I agree with you completely–this kind of racist bullshit is a total embarrassment to feminism. And I probably should have known better than to take what was obviously your anger at having such racism spewed in your name as a personal affront–usually I’m much better than that at reading tone. So I’m sorry too, to have blown what you said out of proportion.
And I agree–it matters to me a great deal, as you say, that these public, popular faces of feminism are coming out with this crap when they have had fucking decades to learn better (one has to suspect they’re doing it willfully at this point), because it is exactly why women of color and working-class women are put off by feminism. You’re absolutely right, and I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. I guess all I was saying is that I’m embarrassed by them, but not embarrassed to be what I am, politically. Does that make more sense?
I guess the other thing I want to mention is that I run across too many young white feminists who make the same tired excuses–if this were only a generational thing, how easy it would be to solve. I wish it were.
Grab for my hammer?
Stand up and cheer? Yes!
They might as well put “Step Aside for the White Woman, Darkie” on the bottom of all those Clinton ’08 signs.
I understand completely. And you’re right about the generational thing — FFF, all those flare-ups on Feministing, and stuff like that show that it’s clearly still very much a problem among younger people as well.
It’s the height of hypocrisy, really. For a group that is oppressed (white women) to complain about one type of privilege but blithely oppress another group (PoC). But I see it in other movements, too. My sister, who is a lesbian and active in LGBT stuff, complains not only about the sexism among gay men, but also about the racism in the LGBT movement as a whole — both among gay men and in the lesbian community.
To be perfectly honest, the longer this campaign goes on, the less happy I am with either Democrat. Clinton tolerates racism and itches to prove that she’s as gung-ho for the military as any man, while Obama keeps tossing out sexist dogwhistles and changing his story on party unity. I’m not going to forget that Obama said (months ago) that he couldn’t promise that his supporters would support the Party nominee if he didn’t get the nomination. Now he’s calling for party unity and claiming that Clinton is divisive, as if he thinks my memory is as short as a newsbyte.
As for the VP comment, sheesh, reporters have been badgering both candidates for months about the idea of a “Dream Ticket” with both of them on it. Clinton finally buckled and said she’d like to have Obama as her VP. Obama has all but denied the possibility of asking Clinton to be his VP. And yet people keep trying to claim that this incident shows that she’s racist and he’s not sexist. What is she supposed to do? Say she doesn’t still want to be President?
I think the best ticket is Obama for Pres and Clinton for VP (and Bill for permanent ambassador to Antartica), but if Obama won’t accept that, why should I vote for him? I sure as shit wouldn’t vote for Clinton if she refused to have Obama as her VP.
Why the fuck can’t the Democrats get it together and not make me choose between sexists and racists?
If Obama accepted second fiddle to Clinton at this point, after she’s used racism as a weapon against him, I would lose all respect for both of them (well, for him — I don’t have any for her anymore) and would stay home on Election Day.
If Clinton took second fiddle to Obama, I would worry deeply for Obama. He’s made some sexist statements, yes, but it’s Clinton who’s built racism into a campaign strategy, employing a virtual phalanx of second-wave feminists and her own husband to drop racist bombs that she can’t be linked to. She’s the one who’s shown a greater willingness to use her “ism” to to play hardball. But more importantly, I think she hates him. And I think she’s ruthless enough, Republican enough, that she’d do something deeply unethical to him, if she were forced to get on his ticket as veep. Undermine him, sabotage him, possibly even… well. I shouldn’t go there. But I’d be counting the remaining days of his life, let’s just say.
I don’t think there’s any sexism in Obama refusing to join with Clinton on any sort of “dream ticket”. I think Obama correctly intuits that Dems like me wouldn’t perceive this as a dream ticket at all. I’m angry enough at Clinton that I’m not sure I’ll vote for any ticket she ends up on.
Now, Edwards? I think he’d be a good match for either of them. But preferrably Obama.
Nora, something I’ve been wondering–and it’s completely unproveable one way or another–but part of me wonders if Obama has been able to keep his hands clean, sexist-attack-wise, because the mainstream media was so able and willing to jump in with the misogyny, from the “did boys like you in high school” stuff to the nutcrackers. I almost wonder if Obama didn’t have to use those tactics himself because that discourse was out there in such a major way already. (Of course, nobody has to be racist or sexist–I don’t mean it quite like that.)
It’s moot, of course, and sometimes a person has to sit out an election (I refused to vote for Bob Casey when I was in PA) because both candidates cross a line.
I don’t think Obama’s hands are as clean of sexist campaign strategy as you seem to, since I give him enough credit to believe that he knows what he’s saying, whether he’s talking about Clinton being “periodically moody” or giving women “some control” over their own bodies. Given that, I’d like to see him name a woman as his VP candidate. If he can’t stomach Clinton, how about Lani Guinier? Or Michelle Obama.
Frankly, I’m not too worried about Clinton doing something entirely horrible that results in a politician’s death. If only because you know that, if something happened to Obama, Clinton would be crucified in the media as responsible for it, even if the murderer was wearing a McCain’08 shirt and carrying every piece of Republican propaganda printed in the past decade.
It’s been difficult for me to see equity between the things Obama’s people have said and the things Clinton’s people have said. I don’t know why. Maybe, on some level, I perceive racism as a bigger problem than sexism in this country — yes, I know they intersect and are all part of the same system of control, but it’s still how I tend to feel as a woman of color. Or maybe the problem is that there isn’t equity between the two “isms” in the context of this campaign. Jesse Jr sniping about Clinton’s tears/emotionalism seems far less harmful to me than calls for Michelle Obama to be lynched. Calling her Hillary seems far less problematic to me than using Barack’s middle name to imply that he’s a closet terrorist. The kind of sexism I’ve heard is a nuisance/annoyance. The kind of racism I’ve heard gets people killed.
And yes, you’re right to note that the media has done a lot of the sexist attacking for Obama, if Obama ever intended to go there. I can’t speculate on what he would’ve done; I can only look at what he actually has done. But y’know, the media hasn’t exactly used kid gloves on Obama either. Clinton could’ve sat back and let the media do it for her too. But she didn’t.
I’m probably not going to sit out the election. Now that I’ve had some time to calm down, I’m reminding myself that the Republicans can use the same strategy here — they can sit back and let the Democrats tear each other down, then sweep in and clean up whatever’s left. Clinton seems to be playing right into that strategy, with her insinuations that McCain is a better choice than Obama. This makes me seriously question her judgment… but I still believe she’s better than any Republican at this point. Just barely.
Michelle Obama’s going to be his veep whether it’s official or not. I tend to agree with those who say some of Clinton’s experience as First Lady should be considered; she probably did get a lot of vicarious (as well as direct) exposure to the power and the politics, and she probably did have a lot of influence on the direction of the country — as First Ladies have had throughout time. So Michelle’s a given.
That said, I don’t care whether Obama picks a woman as his VP or not, if he wins the party nom. I would dearly love to see a woman as president someday, but Clinton has reminded me that any woman won’t do.
“But y’know, the media hasn’t exactly used kid gloves on Obama either.”
In the beginning of the campaign I think the media was more willing to attack Obama. But ever since the primary season really got started, the media has been by and large on Obama’s side. Even media pundits themselves have stated as much, with analysts like Mark Halperin marking it down as one of Obama’s biggest advantages against Clinton. There are a few exceptions (like the NYT, which endorsed Clinton), but by and large, especially on television, media personalities are passionately rooting for Obama. MSNBC in particular has been savage in its attacks on Clinton (largely sexist ones), but other networks have joined in as well.
It’s part of my annoyance with this entire primary season. The media has picked their candidate, and are pushing him hard.
Of course–I didn’t mean to imply that what Obama’s people have said about Hillary is equivalent to what Hillary’s have said about him. I was really focusing on the media’s rattling on about how she’s “shrill,” a ball-breaker, unemotional, too emotional, make me a sandwich, iron my shirts, too ambitious (unlike anybody else who runs for president, I guess), cheek-pinching, her laughter, her cleavage, etc.
I don’t know that this is the kind of thing that gets women killed–but I don’t know that it isn’t, either. It’s part of the whole dynamic of patriarchy wherein there are no good choices for women, and I do think that the exclusion of women from positions of power because they’re women does lead to women’s deaths–the mentality that thinks it’s OK to joke about putting an electric collar on Hillary to zap her whenever she laughs shrilly comes directly out of the mentality that thinks that it’s OK to beat a woman when she “provokes” a man.
The Muslim smearing is racist and dangerous, but in these cases I’m not convinced it puts Obama’s life in danger, at least any more than being a black man making a bid for the presidency already does. On the other hand, implying that being Muslim means being a terrorist certainly does lead to other people’s deaths. It’s a mentality issue, just like the other one.
Hmm. I’m pretty sure that I’ve heard each of them talk about how McCain would be an alternative to the other. There’s a way in which my suspicion of Obama is pure cynicism. The very fact that his hands seem so very clean makes me…not believe it. I know that’s not rational. But I just may be a better-the-devil-you-know person.
I do understand sitting it out–though I confess to gladness that you’re leaning toward not sitting it out. There’s a level on which I feel that if the Republicans take this presidential election, it will mean that they can take practically absolute power; if you can fuck up the country to the extent that they have, and still win…jeez.
the media has been by and large on Obama’s side.
I just watched a 10-minute segment on Good Morning America in which they called out two black pundits to label Obama “racist” because he attends a typical black church. A year ago, the same news outlets were slyly insinuating that Obama wasn’t black enough; now he’s too black? And why is Obama expected to speak for every black religious leader in the country? His pastor, Farrakhan… why is he being held responsible for the racial politics of random people who are not part of his campaign? McCain hasn’t been hit nearly as hard over Hagee. I heard about Ron Paul’s Stormfront endorsement via blogs — I still haven’t seen or heard anything about it in the major media. Paul’s ties to white supremacists are far more direct that Obama’s ties to any black hate groups; why wasn’t Paul publicly pilloried?
You consider this kid gloves?
Obama’s life is in danger because he’s black. The crap about him being a Muslim just adds to the threat. But that wasn’t what I was speaking of — I’m talking about how immigrant-baiting, and Muslim-baiting, directly has lead to deaths in this country. We’ve seen it time and again throughout the world, whenever race/ethnicity gets used as a political weapon — attacks against immigrants increase, hate groups flourish, etc. Bringing this crap into the public debate brings out the crazies, and gives them tacit permission to attack.
That said, I take your point about the same sexist mentality underlying abuse against women. You’re right, you’re right. ::sigh:: Still, I’m not sure Hillary’s candidacy, or the kind of sexist snipes against her, have contributed to a recent increase in violence against women. Have you heard anything to that effect? My Google skillz aren’t finding it at the moment, at least. Hillary already had SS protection because she’s a former First Lady; I suspect that if she hadn’t already had it, she might’ve needed that protection early too, like Barack.
I haven’t heard Obama say that McCain would be a better alternative than Clinton; I’ve only heard that from Clinton’s camp. Ditto the headscratchy message that Obama’s not fit to be president, but might be fit to be vice president under Clinton. ::eyeroll::
What scares me about all this is that it feels very much like Republican political tactics — race-baiting, immigrant-baiting, massive attacks of stupid logic. To some degree, there’s no escaping this; the rules of political discourse have been set to this (low) level for the past few years thanks to Reagan and his heirs. But I’ve been seeing Clinton stoop to this level far more than I’ve seen Obama do it, and that makes me worry that she’s no better than a Republican. I can’t help but remember that the previous Clinton presidency did nothing good for people of color, women, or anybody but wealthy white people. If nothing else, Obama is a change from that.
::sigh:: Well, like I said, I’ll probably vote for Clinton, if she gets the nomination. Grudgingly. Unhappily. Fearfully. That’s not the way I want to feel about the candidate I vote for.
I’m confused about something. How is it sexist for Obama, who has more delegates, to refuse to be Clinton’s VP? For Clinton to ask HIM, coupled with that bow to the woman bullshit, makes me feel like her asking him is, if not racist, then just incredibly, stupidly, arrogant.
That is all.
Obama’s life is in danger because he’s black. The crap about him being a Muslim just adds to the threat. But that wasn’t what I was speaking of — I’m talking about how immigrant-baiting, and Muslim-baiting, directly has lead to deaths in this country. We’ve seen it time and again throughout the world, whenever race/ethnicity gets used as a political weapon — attacks against immigrants increase, hate groups flourish, etc. Bringing this crap into the public debate brings out the crazies, and gives them tacit permission to attack.
Nora, I think that I must not be expressing myself very well in this thread, and for that I am sorry, because I agree completely with all of this, and it was what I was trying to say when I wrote “The Muslim smearing is racist and dangerous, but in these cases I’m not convinced it puts Obama’s life in danger, at least any more than being a black man making a bid for the presidency already does. On the other hand, implying that being Muslim means being a terrorist certainly does lead to other people’s deaths. It’s a mentality issue, just like the other one.” But clearly my phrasing wasn’t working well enough to convey what I wanted to, so I do thank you for giving me clearer phrasing. I’m just going to second what you say, then. In fact, I’d second the entire post. And I’ll try to phrase my comments more clearly in future, so that it’s clear when we’re agreeing.
Re: the media, I think Obama’s *definitely* given a lot more flack than either McCain or Ron Paul. Paul has been screwed over by the media in a different way — by being ignored entirely. Rather like Edwards, whom the media happily decided to make irrelevant so they could have their two-person horserace and race v. gender spats (I really hate the media).
McCain is the darling of the media, or so I gathered from the commentary of pundits and at forums like Dailykos and MyDD. He’s the maverick, the comeback kid, the straight-talker, etc. They love him, so it’s no wonder he hasn’t received much criticism.
What I meant was that regarding the Democratic nom, Obama is the favorite. He’s had more press, more positive press, and lots more hype than anybody else on the Dems side, because the media chose to ignore Edwards and attack Hillary. Before New Hampshire, the media was salivating over an Obama victory and delighted in trashing Hillary, or so I understand from the analyses I read about it afterwards, many of which suggest that the media pile-on accounts at least in part for Clinton’s win later. Even as recently as a few days or a week or so ago, Olbermann was trashing Clinton, joining in others who’ve been doing so on his network for weeks.
So against Hillary? I think Obama does get passionate media support. Against McCain? Different story entirely. I think when it comes to facing McCain, the media will pick a different favorite and hit Obama with all kinds of BS.
So I think Obama is getting roughed up a bit now in part because he’s up against McCain, and maybe because the media is just trying to extend the horserace. But I bet once the GE election season comes round, that’s when he’ll really get hammered with all kinds of stuff. Because Hillary won’t be around to trash anymore and maverick McCain will be there for the media to adore.
Re: Clinton asking Obama to be VP
I highly doubt she’s offering the position out of arrogance or any other kind of personal desire whatsoever. At this point, with so much bad blood between them, I doubt either of them want to share a ticket. Rather, she’s caving to overwhelming political pressure. If by some chance she wins the nom, and then *doesn’t* offer him VP, she’ll split the Dem party in two with all Obama’s angry supporters unwilling to follow her into the general election. For any chance of party unity, she *has* to give him the VP slot. Clinton’s not stupid. She knows winning the general in ’08 hinges on party unity against the Republicans. She’ll give him the slot because she’s a pragmatist. And if he wins, her followers will support him because a Dem win in ’08 is FAR more important than a Clinton win. An attitude that I think Obama and his supporters do not share, unfortunately.
She’s not in a position to win the nomination without overturning the will of the people via the superdelegates. So I’d say arrogance plays a huge role. Along with her racism. She seems to think he should step aside for her because somehow she deserves the nomination. Her supporters have made no bones about the “Step aside for the white woman” rhetoric either. If she were so concerned about uniting the party why isn’t she dropping out and offering to be his VP? As for Obama’s supporters and their feelings on the issue? I can’t speak for everybody else, but I know I personally don’t see any benefit in electing someone who I know will not work to benefit me any more than the Republican contender. If she gets the nod it’ll be a case of choosing between two equal levels of evil.
But Ico, that doesn’t make any sense. She’s in second place. There’s not a lot of chance of her suddenly overtaking him (there’s always a possibility, but slim). If she was really caving to pressure, she’d be offering to be HIS VP, not saying “oh, well for unity’s sake maybe you’d better get behind me.” I also think it would be a bad idea for Obama to offer her the VP spot for the reasons Nora outlined. The Clintons don’t play second fiddle to anyone, and i would fear for the political life of anyone who allowed her to be VP.
And I’m not sure if I feel that her followers would support him no matter what but not vice versa. not after some of the seriously racist things I’ve seen come from some of her followers. I mean, YOU may feel that way of course, but I’m not entirely sure if you represent the majority.
“What scares me about all this is that it feels very much like Republican political tactics — race-baiting, immigrant-baiting, massive attacks of stupid logic.”
Should have mentioned in my above post, but this I totally agree with, and it’s one of the things I really despise about the Clinton campaign. Especially the way it has escalated in recent months. I do think that Veronica had a point in that the media did a lot of Obama’s attacking for him (that always helps), but even in the beginning of the campaign, Clinton was willing to pull the “I’m from NY — terrorism” card into debates. It reminded me a lot of Giuliani, the same sort of fear-mongering. I don’t trust her on “The War on Terror” and on foreign policy in general. I don’t know whether I trust Obama either, but except for his Pakistan comment he’s been much more level-headed about this stuff. I’d rather have people acting like sheep herding around abstract concepts of hope then abstract notions of fear.
Oh, I’m sorry, I misunderstood the context of the VP thing. The notion of Clinton taking Obama as VP has been floating around for months, back before he was leading her in the nomination. I think she was asked about it and never affirmed or denied anything, but a lot of pundits said she’d have no choice but to do it.
So I was thinking in terms of a couple months ago. Sorry, should have paid more attention. You’re right — to come out and only declare *now* that she’d take him as VP is rather late, isn’t it? I think it’s a cheap political tactic. “You can have us both! So elect me, dammit!”
But I still think Obama should offer Clinton VP. Because she’d never accept. But the gesture would appease her supporters.
Re: Clinton supporters and Obama, I’m speaking mostly of my experience on DailyKos and MyDD, which admittedly are not exactly representative of your average voter. They’re Democratic progressives, pretty politically active, mostly young, that sort of thing. Dailykos is (or was, when I last checked in a month ago) a stronghold of Obama supporters, while myDD remained a last bastion of Clinton supporters. And I saw many many *many* diaries and comments on Dailykos in which fervent Obama supporters declared they would never, ever vote for Clinton if Obama lost; they’d go Republican. By contrast, I found very few Edwards supporters (a dwindling group at the time) or Clinton supporters who said such things. Obama himself has hinted that his followers wouldn’t necessarily support the nominee if it’s not him, so yes, I think it’s an attitude of Obama supporters more than others.
BTW Nora — didn’t know about Paul’s ties to white supremacist groups. I did know about his sketchy record on LGBT stuff, and assumed he was bad on choice, but didn’t hear about this (to be honest, I didn’t look that closely into Ron Paul because he was never an option, being crazy). Is there a link you could point me to? I have to convey this information to people I know who are supporters of his.
I do think that Obama refusing to consider a woman as VP is a sexist gesture. Just as I think that a white frontrunner refusing to consider his/her black competition for VP would be a racist gesture. Not that this will stop me from voting for either Obama or Clinton in November, if I think my state is close enough for my vote to matter. McCain and the rest of the Rethuglicans scare the piss out of me.
No one has said Obama is refusing to consider a woman. Merely that he’s not (apparently) interested in *this* woman as a possible VP.
I’ve heard Kathleen Sebelius considered as VP for Obama. Not that he himself has said anything regarding VP choices — but supporters and pundits have mentioned her name as a possibility.
Very belated on all of this… long, tiring day at work today, no time for blogging. And very brief to everyone.
Veronica, sorry, I might’ve misunderstood too. You were pretty clear, I see in retrospect, but blogging at 7 a.m. muddles me. =)
Ico, I’m sorry, but I still don’t believe the media has been any easier on Obama than on Clinton. Maybe this is a point-of-view issue; maybe I’m missing the cracks about gender and maybe you’re missing the cracks about race. To me, the shit looks pretty evenly thick for both.
And you bring up Olberman as an example, but I’m not sure of what — a gendered attack? I haven’t seen that. Olbermann seems genuinely concerned that Clinton is fucking up so badly that it’s hurting the entire Democratic cause. His attacks on her aren’t sexist — unless you take the Ferraro tack, and any criticism of Clinton = sexism, no matter how well-founded. He’s also quick to emphasize that he’s not an Obama supporter. His attacks are because she’s bringing teh stupid, and teh stupid will guarantee a Republican win.)
Re: Ron Paul — I think this is a point-of-view difference again; I’m always honestly surprised to run into people these days who didn’t know about RP’s white supremacy links. It’s been all over the liberal blogosphere for months. Daily Kos, the Huffington Post, you name it. You’re right in that RP hasn’t gotten much attention from the mainstream media, but I figured it was because once this crap came out, the media knew he was hopeless. It’s gotten some attention from the mainstream media, mostly conservative channels like MSNBC and Fox that seem overjoyed to see bleeding-heart liberals duped by a guy the Stormfront neonazis love (no link; I won’t link to a Stormfront site. But if you go there, or Google “Ron Paul stormfront”, you’ll see the endorsements of Ron Paul pretty prominently). But even this has gotten nowhere near the kind of play that “Obama’s reverse racist pastor” seems to be getting right now. It’s astounding to me that they media seems to think black churches are worse than skinhead white supremacists who advocate lynching, race war, gay bashing, etc. This is classic media WTFery, and again, soooo not kid gloves.
Also, I don’t think Obama should offer Clinton anything he doesn’t want her to accept. And I for one am afraid that if he offers, she’ll accept, and if she accepts, Obama will end up sleeping with the enemy. (Argh — gendered/sexual insinuation not intended.) Not the kind of unity we need right now.
jsb16, I’m wondering whether you’re raising these strawman arguments on purpose or out of genuine confusion. No one in this thread, or in Obama’s camp that I know of, or anywhere, has said that Obama refuses to consider a woman as VP. If he had, then yes, it would be a sexist gesture. He hasn’t. Bringing this up makes about as much sense as insisting that Barack HUSSEIN Obama (rhymes with Osama) was educated in a madrassa in reading, writing, and rigging suicide bombs, and was Yasser Arafat’s secret black catamite. Why are you saying this?
Honestly I feel as though the media and the white republican men are just working together to get niether candidate elected. With everything that has been set up to say hey if you support Clinton you are rascist and if you support Obama you are sexist. Lets cut the crap and stop giving them what they want. I can see it now a bunch of bigwigs in a room laughing at our stupidity to internally tear down our two candidates. We don’t have to choose race over gender or gender over race. I find it a bit counterproductive not to fight the fight together. Human is human and that should encompass the struggles for class, gender, race, and sexuallity. (Note they are in alphabetical order as to not show bias for one over the other.) Let us not play into this one cause bullshit because that is exactly what will prevent any hope we still have for equality. Do not forget that this country is ran by rich white straight men. I am for a joint ticket now who is on “top” means absolutely nothing to me. Unity is the only way discrimination is going to end. Not just unity in groups of the same oppressed people but unity of ALL oppressed people. While different groups are oppressed for different reasons and in different social structures they are still unjust. For example, if my husband and i walk into a car dealership who do you think they try to sell the car to? Not me! Why because I am a woman and “know nothing about cars”. But who do you think gets pulled over driving with a week old registration and then harrassed? You guessed it he does. Why because he’s black and “he probably has other warrants out from selling drugs because he shouldn’t be able to afford that nice car”. Or take my mother who is gay and has to think before revealing her weekend plans with her coworkers for fear of being fired. So once a again lets not buy into this media/government bullshit and work together for human rights.
jsb16, have you asked him whether or not he’s doing this?
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