Great article by Rebecca Traister at Salon.com about sexism lurking behind the shrill Obama support.
Notes and thoughts:
* It’s not Hillary’s “shrillness” that’s discomfiting; it’s the shrillness of boys’ support for Obama & hatred of Hillary. Dana Lossia quoted: “People can always come up with reasons they don’t like the candidate they’re not supporting. … But no one disliked Joe Biden or Chris Dodd as much as they dislike Hillary.”
* It kills me that “Some women apologized for ‘sounding so feminist.'” Fuck that. This is what post-feminism looks like: Women apologize for pointing out sexism. Looks a lot like our colorblind post-racism society. Pointing out a problem causes some white male person discomfort and reminds them of the ugly presence of sexism and racism — in the past, of course, because it doesn’t happen today — and therefore it’s just as bad as sexism and racism themselves. Why it’s almost like we’re asking to be singled out and treated like women and people of color.
* This is a brilliant historical connection that I hadn’t made:
When sexism is acknowledged in this primary campaign, it has been attributed to either Chris Matthews or the conservative, Rush Limbaugh, Iron My Shirt brigade. Little open recognition has been given to the possibility that there might be some gender discomfort behind the army of liberally minded Obama enthusiasts. But progressive politics has not always been female-friendly politics; ’70s feminism was born partly in response to the inequities of the antiwar and civil rights movements. It’s certainly possible that the youthful Obama movement has its own brand of female trouble.
* Becca O’Brien quoted in the article: “O’Brien… noted that it’s ‘very convenient that the same people who have a sense of discomfort with female authority they prefer not to examine’ also object to [Clinton’s] personality and record in specific terms, an antipathy they feel comfortable voicing. ‘What you get … is the energy of the first expressed in words of the second.”
* “‘They’re busy patting themselves on the back for supporting a black man: Aren’t we cool?’ Perhaps it is thanks to the admitted cool factor that among educated liberal voters, the assumption is that you’re for Obama, that he is the more ‘progressive’ choice. Obama loyalty, like white masculinity itself, has become normative -– if you’re not for him, you’d best be prepared to explain your deviation.” Oh, so true.
* I’d heard of the “iron my shirts” signs at Hillary appearances. Mia Bruch in the article describes a cosmetics shop in NYC that sold only one political item: “a huge stack of Hillary nutcrackers”.
* “[A] lightly disguised uneasiness with female power, as well as the “we love women, just not that woman” rhetoric will be familiar to anyone who has paid attention to the reception of the feminist movement. … [Hillary Clinton] has been exactly the kind of woman that feminism made room for: ambitious, ball-busting, high-earning, untrained in the finer arts of hair care, and unwilling to play dumber (or nicer) than she is.” But this is the kind of woman who’s taking jobs from the white men who are so shrilly against Hillary and for Obama. Race and gender complexify all our lives, but ambitious successful women are villified for their very successes.
* The article describes women who know many men who are hostile, hateful, and sexist in their anti-Hillary rhetoric. My own circles are probably largely pro-Obama to the extent that they support political processes. The women can be just as enthusiastic as the men about Obama’s vision, progressive rhetoric, & stated intentions, and just as critical of Clinton’s positions on the Iraq War, cynical or conservative (or both) take on civil liberties and freedom of expression, and political pandering. Politics at their best are passionate, but not ugly, but my partner and I both know men — progressive, liberal, radical, “good guys” — who express a personal level of vitriol and antipathy towards Clinton that is ugly and sexist.
Dudely Obama supporters, are you checking your sexism?