Today’s Primary
Too Old, Too Experienced to Work

Hillary Clinton Feminists

category_bug_politics.gif Can Crabby Old Lady be the only American or, at least, the only American feminist who feels no surprise and no particular gender pride at Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy?

Over the past two years, gallons of ink have been used examining the senator, her campaign and voters’ acceptance of a woman candidate, and it has been obvious with every poll and every primary vote that the gender issue in regard to the presidency is dead. There will be a woman president this year or another, when the majority of voters believe the candidate is the best person for the job.

The zeitgeist of the country has been right for a woman to be president for some time. Building on that, Senator Clinton carefully prepared her way starting on the day of George Bush’s first inauguration. She never intended to be a bona fide representative of New York's interests as Senator Charles Schumer has been. Using her marriage to the most popular Democratic president since John F. Kennedy, she carpetbagged her way into the job and conducted herself in it for seven years as a stepping-stone to a planned presidential run.

Although Crabby didn’t like what Senator Clinton was doing, politics is politics and she isn’t the first to take advantage of a family member's popularity. Robert Kennedy did the same thing in the same state two generations ago. (Crabby Old Lady has never been able to forgive the voters of New York for falling for it – either time.)

Senator Clinton is an old-time, practiced pol, no different from the men in the race. Her campaign is calculated and calibrated depending on daily polls, just like the men. She stretches the truth in attacks on her opponents and runs misleading ads, just like the men. She gets as good as she gives - fairly and otherwise - just like the men. And she has held her own in one of the two top spots throughout the campaign, even making a fairly dramatic comeback last night.

No one can say the Democratic nomination process has not been fair in regard to Mrs. Clinton - as fair, that is, as politics ever is. Yet there is a coterie of certain women who continue to complain and who, Crabby senses, will not be satisfied with anything less than a unanimous anointment of Senator Clinton as Queen of the United States without all this messy bother of an election.

Yesterday in the Washington Post, there was yet another examination of women's support, or lack of it, for Senator Clinton. The title of the piece, “To Women, So Much More Than Just a Candidate”, is misleading as all the people interviewed for the story are professional feminists who, it turns out from the article, are not representative of Crabby, her politics and, most particularly, not her kind of feminism.

The jumping-off point of the story was the dearth of attendees at an Akron, Ohio rally in support of Senator Clinton where half a dozen prominent feminists were scheduled to speak. Not one, in the Post story, gave a reason to vote for Senator Clinton except that she is a woman wronged.

Marion Wagner, a regional director for the National Organization for women, says,

“The issue that’s not being talked about in this campaign is the blatant sexism. 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.”

Actually, Crabby is bleary-eyed from all the talk about sexism in the campaign and that last sentence gives Crabby a creepy feeling of old-style racism, or maybe sexism or both.

Marj Signer, president of NOW's Virginia chapter:

"They try to bury her, to vaporize her. They make her out to be a bimbo. I guess the message is that women are still fair game."

Bimbo? Did Crabby miss that debate? And Senator Clinton has more than held her own in the bury and vaporize sweepstakes on the campaign trail.

Diane Dodge, NOW president in Ohio:

"There are people who say, 'Your battle is over. There's no more sexism anymore,' she said. "Well, at the very least, maybe the whole experience of this campaign will wake those people up."

There is no one to wake up except the feminist leaders who haven't moved beyond 1965. No 21st century feminist believes the battle is over; it's just moved forward from the extreme rhetoric at the beginning of the women's movement, and continues to progress as this campaign proves.

Reporter Eli Saslow continues:

"As Wagner and other NOW executives toured Ohio last week, they repeated a resounding message: Clinton has been mistreated by an opponent who subtly demeans her, by mainstream media that ridicules her, by voters too threatened to vote for a confident woman, by young women who no longer feel the urgency of the women's movement, by African American women for whom race is more important than gender."

Is there anyone these women haven't dissed? If this is the leadership of feminism, Crabby Old Lady is embarrassed to call herself a feminist. Nowhere is there mention of Senator Clinton's strengths, of her positions these women believe are better than Barack Obama's or why she is the best person (person! not woman) to be president. And nowhere an understanding or acknowledgment that politics in the United States is a blood sport and the men, like Senator Clinton herself, will take every advantage they can. Like it or not, it's how the game is played.

The NOW leaders point, according to the reporter, to Senator Obama's pulling out Senator Clinton's chair at debates as evidence of unfairness:

"You can bet that's a calculated move," Wagner said, "and it's absolutely demeaning."

Oh, please. We fought that battle more than forty years ago. Today, it is a polite, social gesture; there is no subtle disrespect it.

"The problem, NOW leaders said," writes the reporter, "is that too many young women [are] turning to Obama because they feel no obligation to vote for a historic first for their gender."

Nor should they. Crabby is with the young women in this argument. Remaining pockets of prejudice aside, this election is not about gender or race or an historic first (although the last item will happen if either Democratic hopeful is elected). It is about digging our country out of the deepest trouble we've known in Crabby's 67 years, and we must choose the candidate we each believe can best do that regardless of gender, race or age.

The only group the NOW leaders did not demean are elders, but the one leader who made Crabby squirm most in this story is a Clinton fundraiser from Cleveland named Lana Moresky, who said,

"I think a lot of women are really in shock about it, and they're going to feel gypped if she loses." [emphasis added]

Where Crabby Old Lady comes from that word, a pejorative for the Romany people, is not used any more than the N word or the K word or all the rest that demean ethnic groups, and Crabby is surprised the Washington Post printed it.

It is hard not to wonder if Senator Clinton's recent slippage in polls and primaries (overcome in yesterday's primaries) was not, in some part, due to feminist supporters like these. If they are the leadership of the feminist cause today, Crabby Old Lady needs to find another way to describe her support of women's rights. In no way do these feminists speak for Crabby.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, David Wolfe is back with another tale from his childhood titled My Errant Behavior as a Grandchild.]

Comments

Nicely said.

In yesterday's comment section, Rain pointed out that people vote for the wrong reasons. To vote for Hillary just because she is a woman is as wrong as Blacks voting for Obama because his skin is the right color.

I have to admit, though, that I cringe when the media refer to Hillary's laugh as a 'cackle' and talk about her cleavage instead of her stand on the issues.

Yes, politics is a blood sport and only the tough could withstand it.

Since the founding of this great country, every generation of little girls has dreamed of the day a woman would have the chance to be its leader. That day has finally come. Look closely. Hillary Clinton has been an open-hearted teenager, a spiritual person, a fine student, a courageous civil rights volunteer, an accomplished attorney, a dedicated wife, a working mother, a respected Senator, an example to young women and a global force for good. She has done all that our society asks of women who want to be taken seriously--now it is time for all of us who have also lived as strong women to celebrate this amazing opportunity to support her as the first woman President.

You may fade a bit of heat from the feminist faithful (or fanatic?!)--which I would have called myself--until the looking at the very issues you have called attention to in this campaign, and found myself cringing. So, Bravo to you, for having the courage to write these words. (Or should I say, Brava? Who knows these days...)

Very well said. I don't think Hillary supporters have anything to complain about either. Call me old-fashioned, but that Obama held her chair for her only shows that his mama raised him right!

I agree completely with your comments and am glad that you posted them.....you never cease to amaze me........

The body parts essential to the next President of the United States of America are: a top class brain, a level head, a listening ear, a compassionate heart, strong guts, a sturdy spine, broad shoulders,capable hands, light feet, clear vision, long sight, a discerning nose and a truthful mouth. Whether all that is bundled with a penis or a vagina is irrelevant.
And the important colour, in these crucial times, is neither white nor black but green, green, green.

I'm too ignorant about feminism to speak to it. But I'll tell you ONE thing. There's nothing I'd rather do than vote for a female POTUS, but I'm afraid it CAN'T be one who voted FOR the attack on / invasion of Iraq. Period.

Where have I been? I didn't ever realize that the word "gypped" related to gypsies.

Learned something today.

What a brilliant bunch of comments. Brava and brave, indeed.

Very well put and I feel exactly the same way. I am in the segment of the population-- old white women-- who are supposed to be her support and I guess in some places that is proving to be true. I wish she would be rated on what she has done herself and some of that is so ugly. She didn't get to this place on her own and anybody who says she did will say in the next sentence that Bill will be there to support her in the job.

The Clinton's last attack ad about the 3 AM call where she is the only one who can help those children stay safe, where at 3 AM, she won't answer the phone until she has on her suit, with make-up and hair done, that ad was so demeaning to women and to the country that it would work and yet Bush tactics once again delivered! What does that mean that it worked? Are people gone nuts? Do they see it as scare tactics when it's on the right but not on the left? That ad should have reminded everyone that when the call came, she answered wrongly with voting to authorize force in Iraq and she had a lot of time to think before she voted on that one. I was afraid her appearances on SNL and Daily Show would help her and they say that ad convinced a lot of people-- yes, I need a woman in there who can get dressed in a nanosecond and answer the phone with the right answer. Too bad those people don't realize it's not Hillary. Frankly she probably assured John McCain's victory with that ad but she didn't care because as it was with Gore and Kerry, all the Clintons care about is their own victories. She is the worst example of a leader but she convinced people with the Bush playbook (another was parsing whether she believed Obama was a Muslim. She knows there are those who believe those stupid emails that float around and she wants their votes).

If she becomes president, which I consider unlikely as I don't believe she can beat McCain, I have fears about what kind of president she will be based on her past behavior. Being a woman doesn't automatically make someone right, skilled, or good. And for any woman who is voting on her based on her being a woman, you haven't yet come a long way, baby! The victory is when we don't see people's color or gender and we vote purely on their stand on issues and their character. The idea that it matters to women that a woman become president is a hollow symbolism. I could rant on but should stop before my blood pressure rises. I went to bed feeling this would be the result. I was hoping I'd be wrong...

Great. You think... therefore what you write keeps me coming back. Thank you.

I wish we could eliminate the word feminist. I am a human being who wishes to be judged on my talents and skills. I happen to be a woman. I happen to be in my sixties; I happen to be white; I am a health care professional.

There is more to this discussion than the candidates names. Strip the names, the color, the gender and look at issues.
The problem here is very simply: the media. To me, it is the media who color this political race (no pun intended) and they have been, almost to a person, sexist, and racist in their discussions as they present these (primarily) Democratic candidates, in stereotypical fashion.

I am not a stereotype. I am a person. I appreciate your comments, especially as they evoke so much incredible "discussion". But I must add that people who align themselves by looking at the candidates in the eyes of PRIDE, pride that their race or gender is finally represented, is understandable. I get it, I understand it, and I do not dismiss it because to do so undermines the respect each of us should have for the other. Yes it is about qualifications and positions. But it is also the interpretation of those in the eyes of the beholder.

Ronni,
Thanks for one of the most perceptive commentaries I've read about the Clinton-Obama race for the Democratic nomination. My fear is that the increasingly nasty fight between the two of them will insure the election of the John McCain. What ammunition both of them are providing for the Republican attack dogs!

Cheers to you Ronni. I an a 79 year-old white woman living in a small town in Michigan and most of the women I know would agree with your words. Unfortunately, because of our senseless primary we were not able to vote for Barack Obama.

I was an active feminist for many years. But I believe some of the women supporting Hillary Clinton (and her) are undercutting some of the good resulting from the women’s movement. Shame on them.

Foremost, I took a pledge to not vote for anyone who voted for the war in Iraq. Almost as alarming, Hillary voted against a Senate amendment that would have banned the use of cluster bombs in civilian areas. Barack Obama voted for it.

To me, Hillary’s character resembles the worst kind of schoolyard bully tactics.

Yes, I would like to see a woman president. Not. Hillary. As the phrase goes, “If Hillary is elected President; we will have a change of parties. If Barack is; we will have a change in America.”

A big change in America is what we need. Listening to her you hear I, I, I, I, I. Listening to Barack you hear we, we, we, we, we. Those words say a lot.

Thank you for your wisdom.


In the late 1970s, Gloria Steinem spoke at my college and said (I'm paraphrasing her): "I wish our movement wasn't called feminism. It should be humanism because the point is that we welcome both men and women and we should all be working together."

I was so impressed with how warm and inclusive Steinem was, and yet the media portrayed her in a much different light. That's when I first understood feminist backlash.

Unfortunately, it's alive and thriving today. All you have to do is follow the media's coverage of Clinton's presidential campaign. I've watched the network news, read newspapers and news magazines, gone to various online sites and blogs--it has been both disappointing and frustrating to see how harshly and unfairly Clinton has been judged.

Anne McCrady's post above does a fine job of encapsulating Clinton's decades of visionary and caring advocacy on behalf of women, minorities, families. Her resiliency during this campaign while her opponent gets the star treatment has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. And to think there are people who would call her "power hungry" and "tenacious" (which to me is code for "bulldog bitch").

I've waited many decades to see the right woman become president. Here we have a brilliant candidate who will be a strong leader and we're still debating the tone in her voice and whether or not she's tough enough to handle terrorist threats. Other countries don't seem to have a problem electing female leaders.

The gender issue in regard to the presidency is far from dead.

Those feminists don't speak for me either Ronni. I am way past any hidden agendas by candidates or otherwise. I want the best person for the job. Period. We deserve that much....and we certainly have earned it these past eight years.

It was said in the Kerry/Bush election, that we were in one of the most important elections of our time. True and even truer today, when we have many serious issues - economy, health care, the cost of war(human and monetary), education (to name a few) - it seems we are caught up in more "smokescreen issues" to avoid talking about the issues.

Roll out later in the campaign and social security will be in the forefront - abortion as will same-sex marriage. More smokescreens.

I listen closely and I haven't heard any answers to my concerns. I've heard a lot of this is what I would do regarding health care - except mandatory isn't working out too well in Mass. by some accounts. Trade agreements if cancelled may help but the jobs lost are lost and won't come back unless pressure and some expense to the corporations that outsource. Has anyone mentioned this?

My state primary is next month - maybe we will still have a campaign running - maybe not. I have been a bit angry that I wasn't able to vote in the beginning. This is another issue that needs to be addressed (same as the electoral college). Perhaps, a national primary day and be done with it. The endless newscasts, articles, buzz, switching of position, saying we didn't say it that we, we were misquoted - too many tv ads - too much of everything.

And the extended process has been draining especially with its drama.

Does this give you an idea that I've moved past the issues Ronnie spoke of. Yes, all I am hoping for is a candidate who will put us back on track - who speaks to the people and understands our needs. Sadly, I don't hear too much of this with Hillary or Obama. For me, the outer issues are a moot point - they are what they are - it is now who they are and what they will do - is what is important. They were the ones who have won "the heat of the primaries". Sadly, it is what it is - we cannot make more of. We can try, only keep in mind it is smoke and mirrors.

Dear Ronni - I know you have a fair sized readership, but this post should appear before as many voters as possible. Your comments are straight out and brilliant, an elder perspective I deeply respect. Thank you for what you do.

Hooray. I can't believe any woman would still think holding a chair was a sign of disrespect. Forty years ago is right. And I didn't think so then, either. Despite the fact that I am a real feminist --a woman who operates successfully in a world of men.

Wow! I believe feminists can be authentic and still hold a variety of feelings, opinions and preferences. The core idea is that women, as men, not be held to one standard of acting,thinking and judging.

I'm ditto-ing Deb's comment, above. And, in my opinion, Hillary Clinton is more qualified than Barack Obama in any number of areas of crucial importance to the presidency. Marian Van Eyck McCain made a comment I can ditto as well.

At one point in my varied career, I worked on the staff of the Deputy Majority Leader of the New York State Senate. That experience -- while not destroying my idealism -- gave me a deep understanding of how the upper levels of politics really work. In my opinion, Hillary is much better prepared to function productively in that kind of ferocious environment. Barack probably will be after a few more challenge-filled years.

Unlike Crabby, I'm still a fire-breathing feminist, and it's time. It's time for a qualified woman to be president.

"There is no one to wake up except the feminist leaders who haven't moved beyond 1965."

AMEN!

Excellent Post and you echo so much of what mulls around in my brain...save one thing.

Pardon me for suggesting it, but being as I have lived in NY,NJ,PA,FL,OK,NM,KS and now TX, I feel I can safely suggest that when you live and breathe and reside on the coasts you can miss some of what is going on in the heads of those in the middle.

I was on the east coast from '91 to '02, in TX since then, and sometimes what I hear discussed here seems so antiquated its hard to take seriously.

In a nutshell: Shocking numbers of people say one thing to pollsters and revert to another way of thinking when the curtain closes on a voting booth. Their opinion is that the reality will be that neither men nor women will support a woman leader because of how "weak" and "emotional" females are.

When I first heard people speaking this way I discounted it as an anomaly. I no longer think so!

I agree with Nancy B: the problem is the media. Reporters and Oprah created the Obama bandwagon. They never fairly reported on John Edwards: According to research collected as part of the politics & media analysis at the Annenberg School, largely directed by Kathleen Hall Jamieson, less attention by the media results in fewer votes. Of course, the equal-time for candidates requirement by the FCC is long gone, though few citizens realize that the corporations that rule the media did away with it when it became too inconvenient for them.

I wonder why no complaints, Crabby, about how Barack has shamelessly used his mere two years in the Senate as a steppingstone? I don't mind Obama holding Hillary's chair, but his dismissal of her charge of plagiarism as "silly -- silly season" is the same way that females have always been dismissed and marginalized as silly, emotional, crazy. I am still exercized about how none of the big-time analysts even noticed that sexist retort.

Senator Clinton "is" smart enough to serve us well.....Every male politician before her has done worse.....She has to play "their game" or never get to first base .....

Great article as always and great comments, all thoughtful and respectful of differences. Here's mine: I want to see A woman president but not just ANY woman president.

Wonderful comments.

It appears though, that if she can't get the nomination democratically, she is willing to steal it from Obama. I see no difference between her and Bush. None.
She is dangerous.

Wouldn't it be marvelous if there were no sexism? Saying it does not exist, doesn't make it vanish.
I'd much rather have a president who can do the job beginning from day one, than one who will require "on the job training."
I'm proud that we have such involvement from so many in this election. But the bottom line in the candidates are basically interviewing for the job. It is up to all of us to look at their qualifications for the job as president before we cast our votes.
To let race, gender or any personal opinions enter into our decision would be so very very wrong. When was the last time any of us were "passed over" because of something like race or gender????

NOW is an out-dated organization that still embraces and encourages the victim mentality. They are irrelevant. Gloria Steinem is also irrelevant. I found it hilarious how she humiliated herself with her recent comments.
If Hillary were to win, we would be back in the 90s again, and Willy Wanker would be back in the White House. No thanks!

I'm still waiting to hear more specifics from the candidates -- lots of time between now and Nov.
My concern is who is going to ask them the hard questions about how they plan to accomplish their goals and insist they provide answers? The Fourth Estate???

Then, I want to hear debate about their solutions with input about what we want 'cause I'm not real happy with some of those solutions.

I'm very tired of the in-fighting and figure the Demos are going to fool around and lose this election if it keeps up.

The Super Delegates are the equivalent of the old "smoke-filled rooms" of conventions past. I didn't like them then, and I don't like them now.

I wrote on BlogHer back when you wrote on the topic of electing a woman president that I could never vote for a woman just because she was a woman and that is still true. I also wrote this country would elect a man of any color before they would elect a woman. I still believe that to be true -- just as candace said -- quite a few states where I've lived where that attitude prevails with many many women and men.

Dear Crabby - all these comments are excellent posts to your super article. For the first time in my 64 years, I actually donated money to a presendential (Hillary's)campaign. As I sit home trying to figure out what I am going to be when I grow up - here is this brilliant woman taking on a role which I truly hope is fulfilled. Thank you all for the enlightenment with your comments and I hope John McCain does not win - enough already with Republicans and he is too old.

All that.

But I'm the same age as Hillary, and I want her elected so people will stop asking me when I plan to retire!

Sexism is nothing compared to growing old.

Thank you! I would now go on this blog every day!
Joker

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