Senator Clinton and Elder Women
Thursday, 10 January 2008
Senator Clinton's teary choke-up was the major news event of the final hours of campaigning in the New Hampshire primary, given heavy rotation on television news programs. In case you missed it, let’s go to the video tape:
There was a rush of commentary on the possible interpretations:
"It got me," said Jane Harrington, a voter from Newington who came to the session trying to decide between Clinton and Obama, whom she had seen a day before - and really liked. "I wanted to see who the real Hillary was. That was real."
- - Newsweek, 7 January 2008
Ms. Harrington's was a widely-held response, but in the post-primary gabfests on the cable new shows yesterday, a remarkable number of viewers emailed to say they believe Senator Clinton's teariness was a carefully-planned media event to gain the sympathy vote over Barack Obama.
It's not nice to pick on someone when they appear undefended, but I squirmed throughout the video, embarrassed on several levels. Some pundits, citing her tiredness, say Senator Clinton’s choke-up showed the vulnerable, feminine, human side she has been attacked for hiding - or not having - during the past year.
Undoubtedly Senator Clinton, as she herself said in the diner give-and-take, was tired. There’s not a chance I would take on anything that requires as grueling a schedule as a presidential campaign. But the men’s schedules are no less grueling; they were tired too and there was a whiff from Senator Clinton, taking the video as a whole, of asking for extra credit because she's a woman.
If you take the tired explanation seriously, the larger question becomes this: if she is elected president, how will she handle it on the inevitable day when a crisis in the Middle East follows on the heels of a natural disaster in California, the stock market takes a plunge, Congress vetoes a pet piece of legislation and she is wakened in the middle of the night for an emergency meeting in the situation room? The campaign, exhausting as it is, cannot compare to events that need the immediate attention of and decisions from the president that can involve life and death.
So it is a concern that Senator Clinton’s mini melt-down followed in response to an innocuous question about how she "gets out of the house each day" and who does her hair. A further concern, if credit is to be given for being human, is that she remained steadfastly on message, referencing her standard talking point against Barack Obama’s experience, while in a state of high emotion.
It was a watershed-ish moment for me to watch that video, one that will remain with me as the campaign continues, because it further confuses Senator Clinton’s already disconcerting public character.
Meanwhile, surveys and pundits are telling us that older women are voting for Senator Clinton in droves because she is a woman.
“’I told her that my grandmother was the first person in town to vote, and my mother was the second,’ said Mrs. Smith, who was born three months before the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. ‘And I told her I was born before women could vote, and I want to live long enough to see a woman in the White House.’”
- - The New York Times, 27 November 2007
“It seemed like it was always the men,” said the Clinton supporter [68-year-old Pat Slykhuis], “and the women were always put down. “I think it’s going to be wonderful. I want to see history made.”
- - Reuters, 2 January 2008
With so much at stake in this election, voting for Senator Clinton solely on the basis of her gender is not good enough and I am ashamed of women (or men) who would do so, particularly those who are old enough to know better.
As Robert Scheer put it,
“Yes, it is important for the health of our democracy to break barriers that have held back a majority of our citizens, and for that reason it would certainly be an advance to have a black or female president. But that alone is not enough to justify a vote. What we need far more than a change in appearance is one of perspective.”
- - truthdig, 8 January 2008
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lia tells the story of how life imitated art in Nurse in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.]
At 62 I have been a feminist all my life. Having five brothers and enduring the misogynist Catholic Church for 16 years does that to a highly intellectual girl. girl. At 7, I was told that boys are closer to God because they could be priests. I have struggled for 35 years to raise my four brilliant daughters free of sexist stereotypes. Their strength, courage, achievement, dedication,and confidence is awesome to behold. My third daughter, 29-year-old Katherine, blogging at Obsidian Wings, has pioneered discussion of the issues so dear to your heart. Just do a search for Katherine and "Obsidian Wings." She broke the story about extraordinary rendition when she was 25 years old.She decided to blog under her first name so she could be employable as a lawyer. She is writing a book with Jane Mayer on the New Yorker. She contributed substantially to "Guantanomo and the Abuse of Presidential Power." "My oldest turns 35 next year; When I was their age, I was naively certain a woman would be president before the oldest became eligible for the job.
I was absolutely appalled by this post:It would take a book to explain why. I had made assumptions about you that obviously are not valid. I suggest you expand your blog reading this morning to some of the best woman bloggers: Echidne, Hullabaloo, and Shakesville should be added to your google reader this morning. Read Kathe Pollitt and Katerina vanden Heuval at the Nation. Read some of the classics of feminism. I had mistakenly assumed that of woman of my generation would be a feminist.
Obama and Edwards might talk about change, but electing a woman to the presidency would be dramatic change. Clinton deserves the gratitude and admiration of her sisters for never giving up, for breaking the path for future candidates. That a woman is perceived as strong enough to be commander in chief is astonishing progress.
Two year ago a poll of 14 year old girls revealed that 40 percent did not believe there would be a woman president in their lifetime. It is one thing to assure a little girl she can be president, even though America has never elected a woman president. It is quite another thing to show her a picture of Madame President.
As a woman, how can you tolerate Chris Matthew's statement that Hillary only became a senator and a presidential candidate because her husband cheated on her? For 15 years Hillary has been attacked as a frigid robot. The minute she allows herself to be human, she is unfit and dangerous. The hatred and fear of women that is expressed everyday is terrifying.
Clinton did not cry; her voice reflected her trying not to cry. Male candidates are allowed to show emotion and tear up without its being seen as a meltdown that disqualifies them for the presidency. i wish our president, the worst one in American history, could cry about all the soldiers that his policies have killed or maimed for life.I wish he could cry about his dismantling of the constitution. The brouhaha over Hillary's so-called tears indicates that an incredible double standard still exists for Americans. Hillary's getting justifiably pissed off in the debates was seen as equally terrifying.
On TV when male sexists pontificate, women usually try to get a word in, but are ignored. Hillary has never stood that and made sure she make an appropriate response to Obama's and Edward's portraying her as an agent of the status quo. No matter what they do to her, this bitch perseveres. The ageism motivating some attacks on Hillary should disturb you as well, What aren't you appalled?
It is perfectly valid to decide that feminist and family issues are your make-or-break ones and choose your candidate on that basis. Clinton is a brilliant woman who has dedicated her life to public service. She is scary brilliant and has worked incredibly hard. She has probably been savaged more than any woman in American History. You must acknowledge that could never have happened to a male candidate. What she has endured reveals that the patriarchy of the human race has been chipped away but endures.
How dare you attack older women who support Hillary because they want to see the patriarchy further eroded in their lifetime and because Hillary is the best qualified candidate I am ashamed of you and hope you get many outraged comments.I considered unsubscribing from your blog, but decided the better path would be to dialog with you. You owe your readers an apology for this post.
Posted by: Redstocking | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 04:36 AM
I agree with much of what Redstocking says. I won't vote for Obama "just because he's black", nor Clinton "just because she's female"; but, I truly believe that our future will be brighter with the more knowledgeable and experienced person in the White House. (On the Republican side of the aisle, I support the oldest of the viable candidates.)
Tears are no shame!
P.S. Can someone explain to me why Senator Clinton is frequently "Hiliary" while Senator Obama is nearly always "Senator Obama"?
Posted by: Cop Car | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 05:39 AM
I'm with you, Ronni. To vote based on gender or race is exactly what it purports not to be: discrimination, loudly proclaiming that this person is what he is rather than what he does.
To assume that all woman of a certain generational era are feminists is again, stereotyping a vast population.
When we stop seeing people first as black and white, male and female, is when we can claim to be unbiased. Prejudice 'for' is exactly the same as prejudice against.
Posted by: susan | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 05:54 AM
I applaud all the discussion here related to Sen. Clinton, women in politics and this presidential race. There is more to this than Sen. Clinton; the media have done a disservice to women and older women in particular. Mitt Romney cried 5 times in talks over the last 2 weeks. Did you see that anywhere in the news? John Edwards was asked if he ever cried; he thought for a while and said no. I fear that more than anything and I like John Edwards. The true strength and brains behind him is his incredible strong wife Elizabeth.
The most important thing for all of us to remember is that we need to pull together to vote. We need to demonstrate our power: the power of being a strong women with views, and the power of age. Older people rule, its something I have been saying for a while. I am not into titles or labels for people. I appaud Ronni for inspiring this dialogue, even if it means discourse is included. That's what makes the world go round....and again, most importantly, make your vote count, no matter who its for. Also, I encourage people to post on political and media blogs about the sexism in their reporting. No matter what you think of Sen. Clinton, the treatment of her by the press, the constant bringing up of her tears, real or not, is NOT acceptable in this day and age...power to the people...older people, continue to speak out!
Posted by: Nancy B | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 05:54 AM
I would hardly call it a 'mini-meltdown' or even a 'choke-up'. What I saw was a human being experiencing a strong emotion and allowing it to show (rather than repressing it) while at the same time managing to keep it under control and to continue expressing thoughts and feelings without missing a beat. A very good illustration of what Daniel Goleman calls 'emotional intelligence' - a highly desirable quality. A US president with a decent IQ would bring sighs of relief; one with a high EQ as well would be a bonus!
However, I'm just disappointed that what stirred Hillary almost to tears was her passion for her country. Oh, big bloody deal. GWB and his cronies are patriots too. As far as I am concerned, patriotism is a dirty word. It's a narrow-minded, outdated and dangerous concept. What's needed is a candidate moved close to tears by her or his passion not for one country but for our beautiful planet.
I don't care whether the next president is a man, a woman or a big brown dog. I just want to see the White House turn a decent shade of green before the oil and water run out, the climate goes into irreversible meltdown and it is too late to do anything about it. The only candidate who has ever come anywhere near that ideal is Kucinich and he seems to have faded away, like last time. So it probably won't happen. Another million years and Earth will be just dry rocks and sand. And by then it will be too late for tears.
Posted by: Marian Van Eyk McCain | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 06:05 AM
This political race is a mirror of life in the U.S.. Sexism, Racism, Ageism are all rearing their ugly heads in unusual places and intersections in this poltical season. The key is that MOST PEOPLE do not vote for someone just because they are women, African American, Young or Old -- but because their policies, authenticity and personalities best match what we, as individuals, think is best for our country community. I do not think many women support Clinton just because she is a woman, but because her policies,etc. are in harmony with their own AND, IN ADDITION, for many, that she is female. Likewise Blacks will vote for Obama because they believe in his platform and integrity AND he is African American. The Young will lean toward younger candidates because of their youth AND because of the messages. And old Americans will lean toward McCain and older candidates because of policy, experience AND age. This is natural. The danger is when we do not recognize our own sexism, ageism, etc. by supposing that most people are not thoughtful and complex in their choices. Sound bites do not reveal all the reasoning that goes into making a choice. And all of these isms intersect, There is no hierarchy of oppressions. They support one another -- and they will only be defeated together. Respecting one another's decisions and voices is part of that effort.
Posted by: Judith | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 06:45 AM
I'm with you on this, Ronni. It's not about electing the first woman or the first African-American; it's about electing the person to lead us out of this train wreck in which we find ourselves. To my mind, Hillary represents the status quo, and Barack represents inexperience. Status quo is not acceptable to me.
Posted by: AlwaysQuestion | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 07:03 AM
Wow, Ronni. You really hit a nerve. Good for you to inspire the kind of dialog expressed in the thoughtful and well written comments pro and con. While I do not agree with much that has been said I will add that voting for a candidate on a single issue is parochial and foolish. Christian conservatives will vote for a candidate because they are anti-abortion even though that candidate will take the country to an illegal war and kill thousands of people who were already alive.
Voting for a President should be a very serious obligation that takes in the full spectrum of the issues of the country's needs.
I would love to see a woman president before I die, but I won't vote on that issue alone.
Posted by: Darlene | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 07:07 AM
say what?? i'm with redstocking all the way about this post.
Posted by: m.e. | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 07:20 AM
Thanks for posting that video. I'd heard so much about it that I think I got a really overblown picture of what actually was said. I must say that she didn't come across as overly emotional to me at all. If she is elected president of the US, I won't worry that she might let her masculine unemotional mask slip at an inopportune moment, au contraire, I think she would bring a healthy dose of real feeling to the table. Gloria Steinem's Op Ed piece in the NY Times this week really gave me pause for thought as well. I think you should read it if you haven't already.
Leaving race and gender aside I'd have a tough time choosing between Obama and Clinton, in fact other candidates better reflect my own views. Being Canadian I won't have to make that choice, but I think Americans have a wonderful slate of choices this time around.
Posted by: Anne O | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 07:20 AM
Is feminism only about forwarding women's issues or about equality? about seeing people as people? If all voters care about is finally getting 'theirs' then I am more concerned about this country than I have already been. Hillary should not be voted for because she's a woman but if she is the best person for the job. Likewise Obama should be seen as a person, not as a male or a multi-racial person. If their gender or race enters into how they do the job, then it is relevant but not as a blanket let's vote for someone based purely on that.
I think some want payback for the Bush years and they feel Hillary will deliver it. Well payback doesn't ever work well for the one seeking it. If Hillary is seen as best for the job, then that's each person's individual call; but to vote for her based on the fact that her husband was president and people felt sorry for her in regards how he treated her, that doesn't cut it with me.
I am not a Hillary supporter and probably that colors how I see this but it has been most upsetting to me over the last 8 years as I have questioned who are we as a people? Is this the best we can be? Hillary doesn't bring out the best in people on either side if she is seen as worthy simply because of her gender-- or for that matter not worthy.
I think your post on this topic was spot on. It's a valid concern and democrats are not automatically the good guys which you have mentioned many times. Actions determine someone's character.
We need to be voting in November on someone's character and the issues for which they stand. Being a woman isn't enough even if some women have waited a long time for it. The president we have has amassed a lot of powers for a president. Character is going to be a big determiner of whether that gets turned around or the next president milks them for more. It's a big time for making a decision that should be based on our own character and the concern that for whoever we vote that it's the one that is best for the nation and the world-- not just one party or another or one cause.
Posted by: Rain | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 07:46 AM
Why hasn't anyone criticized our Cry Baby in Chief, G.W.Bush? Or his Father, GHWB, whom I saw weep so hard into his hanky that he had to be led away from the microphone. The occasion was the retirement of his son, Jeb, as Governor of Florida.
I remember Ed Muskey's tears and Pat Schroeder's.. For years Ms. Scroeder kept a scrapbook of politicians weeping. She had to give up her collection when it was too heavy to carry..
Hillary's eyes welled up with tears because someone asked her a question that that she considered "caring" and not political. Someone actually seemed interested in her well being for a change.
Ronni, I cannot criticize Hillary for tearing up, I cry at Supermarket openings and I choke up at card tricks, just like a lot of women....
Posted by: | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 08:24 AM
The above comment was from me, Ronni. I didn't sign in properly so my name was omitted.
I didn't want you to think I had sent it anonymously.
Posted by: Nancy | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 08:26 AM
I completely agree with you, Ronni. I am very much a feminist and would like to see a woman president. But, not Hillary. To me she is embedded in the establishment and a tool for corporations. We need real changes, not just a change from male to female.
Thank you for having the gumption to stands on controversial issues.
Posted by: Ramona Moormann | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 08:45 AM
The first I heard about Mrs. Clinton's "breakdown" was on the radio, and throughout the day the talk radio discussions had me thinking she must have had a 10-megaton breakdown, something like that weirdo hysterically defending Britney Spears on TV a while back ("Leave her alone, you bastards!"). Then when I saw the video that evening, it turned out to be nothing like. That's crying? Moist eyes are not exactly bawling. There was a catch in the throat, sure, but if there were tears on the cheeks my HDTV didn't pick them up. It was a very personal moment, and she seemed genuinely sincere about it, expressing her concern for the country. (If she was acting she missed her true calling: she'd make a lot more money--and take a lot less abuse--in Hollywood or on Broadway.)
I haven't committed to a candidate yet, but I fervently, almost desperately want a progressive back in the White House, and in the present era that pretty much limits the field to Democrats for me. Any of the possibilities (including the ones that barely register in the polls) are people I can get excited about, and will give that person my vote and financial support.
But I have a problem where Hillary is concerned (some celebrities in our society are just fated to be identified for life by their first names or nicknames: Tiger, Elvis, The Donald, Emeril ... Hillary; you don't need the last name). It's not her gender, her personality, any of the trivia people usually argue about. I may be alone in this, but for me her biggest problem is ... Bill. Every time I see him campaigning for her on TV, I am reminded of just how much I dislike the guy. I voted for him, sure, and he was a good President, but I never found him at all likable, in fact I thought him a slick, manipulative scumbag who frequently talked out of both sides of his mouth--he defined the expression "flip-flop." If she was just Senator Hillary Rodham, an attractive and extremely bright woman from suburban Chicago, who went to Yale Law then was voted one of America's top 100 lawyers before being elected and then reelected to the Senate ... hey, what's not to like? Yeah, she has a family: I understand her husband's a lawyer too (his name's something different), and they have an adult daughter. But forget all that, let's talk about the important stuff, like her views on the issues.
Unfortunately, for me he keeps getting in the way, and while I'll definitely support her if she gets the nomination, the prospect of Bill being back in the White House, only this time as consigliere rather than capo, definitely curbs my enthusiasm.
Posted by: Deejay | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 09:06 AM
I blog as redstocking on political blogs because my blogging daughter Katherine understandably wants to conceal our relationship. I blog under my maiden name at Matriarch. I concentrate on parenting and grandparenting issuesl, ageism, caregiving, overdiagnosis of young children as mentally ill, my personal journey. Matriarch has lots of pictures.,
Katherine has followed my path as a young woman, but succeeded where I failed. I dropped out of a free-ride Ph.D. program in poiltical science at Stanford because I couldn't bear to be away from my fiance. Of course if I had admitted I would feel that way, I could have gone to Columbia. Then I turned to journalism but lacked the initiative and determinaton she has shown. I failed to follow through on my plans to go to Columbia School of Journalism. Four years after I left Stanford, I dropped out of Columbia Law School in a panic about speaking in a huge classroom. I finally became a social worker and a librarian, but they were far less appropriate fields for me.
Katherine went to Yale, graduated from Harvard law school. If you google search, "Katherine R. Hawkins" you will learn what she has done as a human rights lawyer. Katherine, with her usual wit, has discouraged the family's encouragement to run for president when she comes of age 6 years from now. "A Jewish woman who supports illegal immigration and defends terrorists and is a crybaby would be unstoppable."
If only we could figure out how to run all four collectively:)
Hillary is my age. I worry that women who graduated from college before the start of the second feminist movement have been damaged by the discrimination and hostility they have encountered. They might have to change their principles, come across as strident and bitter, because they might lack the self-confidence to pursue the presidency. My daughters and their friends have abundant confidence , and excell in concealing the iron fist inside a charming, witty, pretty velvet glove.
Posted by: Mary Joan Koch | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 09:11 AM
Ronni's start-off of this conversation was good but annoyed me in its limited scope. So, yes, Redstocking and also Deejay I am with you more because of your depth of thought.
Time Online has just put up an interview with HRC from last evening in which she reflects on what happened in New Hampshire and her view of the "weeping breakdown" (for heaven's sake!) http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1701982,00.html
The way she was headed I am surprised Ronni did not jump right into the other famous anti-woman leadership fear: PMS and the Bomb. Display of emotion is not a prevention to excellent leadership.
I wasn't, and still may not, want to vote for HRC in a primary, although the raising of the Feminist Flag brought me back to feminine attention as Redstocking says. But I am with Deejay that the biggest handicap HRC carries is that social time bomb, her husband, Bill. I believe he is incapable of allowing her to surpass him and that she is still unable to put him in his place and hold him there.
Another four years of that melodrama will be too much. So, the quiet, unknown Obama with the mouthy wife might be the better choice.
And finally, this election could be a real eye and heart opener for this country if those three big prejudices Gender-Race-Age get raked through the fires.
Hope we all grow up some more.
Posted by: Olivia | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 09:44 AM
There is so much to say here -- first, I was annoyed at redstocking for making it personal, for the impression she conveyed that Ronni ought to be "ashamed" for presenting her own assessment, that Ronni for some reason owes her readers an apology for suggesting that the first woman likely to be nominated by a major party might have feet of clay.
Second, it won't do us any good to elect a Democrat as President if we don't also send a clear majority of Democrats to Congress. So the issue of who is going to lead the ticket in the fall probably needs to include that as a consideration. Will the nominee help bring more Democrats into Congress? Now personally I have a few more concerns that neither Obama nor HRC satisfactorily address. What is the surest, fastest path to move our country toward single payer health care? How can we be assured of continuing Social Security entitlements protected against the horrible inflation that the Bush excesses will be bringing down on us? Add those questions to the important ones about how do we reframe our concerns about illegal immigration and successfully encountering terrorism, and how do we end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and how do we keep the lame duck Republicans from spoiling the election by some kind of hideous side-show war with Iran... how do we address all these matters and more in a humane, reasonable, and non-partisan way?
Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich do the best job of addressing these concerns, but neither has a chance. So how, I wonder, can they influence the platform so that whether the candidate is Clinton, Edwards, or Obama my issues remain visible?
Is any of this about feminism? I know that my wife and I discuss HRC a lot in those terms, and while I think that it's sad that the strongest woman candidate ever, and the strongest black candidate ever are not addressing our issues as effectively as I would hope, Beth sent me this link to a Gloria Steinem Op-Ed with the note, "See, great minds think alike, and mine happens to think like Gloria Steinem. Did I ever tell you that I appeared on television with her once?" (Beth led a group in San Francisco in the seventies called "Women Organized for Employment." Steinem spoke for them.) Anyway, the Steinem link frames the Hillary issue in a way similar to redstocking's "with us or against us" position, and I guess I'm moved to comment because it isn't as simple as that to me.
Hillary Rodham Clinton is a practiced politician who understands nuanced expression, and may well have pulled the "vulnerable moment" out of her rhetorical suitcase just when it was needed. Since I couldn't see a tear and I could only intuit the choked-up emotion that the papers and the networks told me I should have seen, I think it was contrived, more of a marketing moment than a deep emotional one. Clinton will be a strong leader if she's elected. I think any of the leading Democrats will be a strong leader. I just hope they lead us where we need to go. I'm quite convinced that none of the Republicans are positioned to improve things for people, but that remains for a different comment.
Posted by: fp | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 11:21 AM
I watched the video with interest because I hadn't seen it and I think "teary choke-up" is a bit over-stated.
People either seem to love or hate Hilary Clinton; I guess I'm smack-dab in the middle. I'm not hugely invested in the Clinton/Obama drama because my state does not hold a primary election; I have no vote as to who makes on the Democratic ticket.
Posted by: Heidi | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 02:46 PM
I hadn't completely decided how I'd vote, but after all the brou haha from Hillary's emotional chokeup, now I KNOW for certain. I will vote for her because she's the most experienced. With only two years of experience under his belt and little record of where he stands on a lot of issues, Obama is the dream democratic candidate for the republican party. If I could be certain he could win, at his relative young age, I might consider voting for him. But it galls me to no end how some guy in the audience a few days prior to the "meltdown" stood up in the audience and held up a sign that read "Iron my Shirt" obviously directed to Hillary. You bet your GD Booty I will vote for Hillary now for sure! As for the man with the Iron sign, he can iron his own darn shirt!
Posted by: Alice | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 04:42 PM
I haven't ironed anything in like 20 years. My clothes don't seem to care much.
Psst, while we're worrying about a few tears, the economy is melting down, as are the ice caps, there's still a war in Iraq and there's no plan to get us off the oil we are all addicted to.
How about the candidates and the media discuss those things, instead of worrying about a few tears and who did or didn't shed them?
C'mon, let's demand they ALL grow up already.
Posted by: donna | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 06:11 PM
I am in agreement with Redstocking.
Hillary is a real woman person. Yes, a woman person. She shows her feelings.
I felt angry as I read your post today. I feel that all women should be proud of her.
Posted by: | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 06:22 PM
I told Ronni she should be ashamed because she said she was ashamed of all the women who voted for Hillary because she was a women. I felt she was insulting thousands of women and calling into question their intelligence when she had no idea what research, study, experience shaped their vote. I never never tell people they should be ashamed. It was early in the morning; I hadn't slept well; and I was shocked by this post. I do think older women need to read younger women's blogs; they are doing splendid work. Best of all, they are often laugh-at-loud funny.
Posted by: Mary Joan Koch | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 06:42 PM
I had read digby for years before I knew she was a woman! digby and the others (echidne, pollit, Katerina, etc) are all good, and i suppose they have a strong stand on feminism, but that's neither here nor there. They are progressive voices taking a stand for populist causes. I don't care who wins the nomination at this point. I'll trust the process. But I think it's really important that we identify issues that MUST be in the Democratic platform so the candidate is committed regardless of current corporate influences and so forth. I hate the idea that feminists may be used as a wedge to divide the party, and that's what I see happening when we hassle about who is the more downtrodden, black men or older white women.
Posted by: fp | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 07:01 PM
One thing for voters to consider is that whoever yelled iron my shirt to Hillary could easily have been a supporter who wanted to build the exact emotional response that happened among so many women. I don't know that the man was but voters need to be careful they pay attention to issues, to the candidate's character, and not allow moments like a candidate tearing up or giving a really good speech, to be deciding events. A lot of what you think is real doesn't turn out that way under closer examination-- for instance Hillary's question and answer sessions primed by people given the questions to ask. This is truly a time of voter beware.
Posted by: Rain | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 07:15 PM
I wish we'd remember it's not a bad thing to hear everyone's honest opinion. That's what makes our country so great,and I recall we are free to give opinion. By the way I'm 61..
So Ronni, hats off to you for starting and saying what's on your mind..certainly made for interesting reading.
My best to you,
Dorothy from grammology
remember to call gram
Posted by: Dorothy Stahlnecker | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 09:29 PM
i certainly self-identify as a post-feminist. i have five daughters who laugh at signs that say "men working". un-prompted. when she was 7, one of my daughters cried angry tears for days when she discovered a woman couldn't be pope, although we have no formal religious affiliations.
i would Never vote for someone based on their gender. THAT IS SEXISM. i don't like her because she's proven herself to be a liar, greedy and a hypocrite. she couldn't give a shit about us.
i was listening to steve gillmor's podcast "the gang" the other morning and i listened to that closeted idiot hugh macleod say (paraphrasing): "a woman can certainly become president. look at what a great leader thatcher was."
to think that a woman can't be a power hungry greedy hypocrite who is in the pocket of the pharmaceutical lobby and will stop at nothing to win is SEXIST. she is no different than the rest of them.
i want someone who is kind. someone who means it. someone who is going to try and stop the insanity. someone who has presence and can fill me with hope. i don't care if it is a man or a woman or what fucking race they are. i want someone that i think will at least try to walk their talk. i know i'm asking too much. i know a politician is a politician. but i am going to vote anyway.
and if anyone doesn't think the "iron my shirt" guy was a plant is seriously deluded IMO.
Posted by: madame l. | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 09:55 PM
I support Ronni's post. I understand equality to mean the right to play in the same game, without the handicap or benefit of race, gender, or creed. It's absolutely biased to declare that Hillary can't be president because she's a woman. But I think it's just as biased to say she should be president because she's a woman. If I expect to be treated as an equal, I can't look at others as less equal because they disagree with me.
Posted by: Travelinoma | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 10:15 PM
My daughter was about four when she asked, "Mommy can girls be a fire person?" I sort of chuckled to myself that she used that term and told her that girls could be anything they wanted to be except a daddy, a brother or an uncle. She ran with that train of thought adding grandpa, nephew, etc., but I think it stuck because she's never let her being a woman stand in her way and I applaud her for that.
As to a woman for president, I am in favor of it but I question whether Hillary is the answer. I haven't decided who I'm supporting yet. I think we need someone who will follow the Constitution and restore sanity here and abroad. I know . . . I'm dreaming. Sigh.
Posted by: Kay Dennison | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 10:27 PM
I have been ambivalent on Hillary, though now I have now decided to work for her and vote for her in the NY primary because I am sure she would be a good president and feminist and family issues are vitally important to me. I felt certain that he Hillary moment was sincere. My late mother would never ever cry in public, but she got a similar crack in her voice when she was fighting tears.
It unnerves me that so many women doubt the reality of HIllary's tears. First she is a robot; then she is a crybaby; then she is auditioning for Medusa or Lady McBeth. Unquestionably Hillary would have been burned as a witch in less enlightened times, but a similar fate would have befallen me. There is much more Joan of Arc than Mary the Virgin Mary in my makeup.
But why would women want to throw wood on the witch's pyre? Does anyone truly believe the next credible women candidate will be treated much better? As the mother of three politically ambitious daughters, now 35, 32, 29, and 25, I want to know.
My five brothers and I are paranoid that my feminist trailblazing mother is planning to come down from heaven and smite any of her six children or 15 grandchildren who don't support HIllary. My mother, a devout though liberated Catolic, died on Good Friday and was waked on Easter Sunday, and believe me, we all kept an apprehensive on the casket.
Posted by: Mary Joan Koch (redstocking) | Friday, 11 January 2008 at 02:30 AM
So, people(women), how many times have you "cried" (that was crying?)while speaking about what is vitally important to you? And you are annoyed with yourself, perhaps, for showing the "weakness," but knowing full well that the display has nothing to do with your ability to make a clear headed decision. And I'm not even for Hillary!!
Posted by: notdotdot | Friday, 11 January 2008 at 07:11 AM
I am 40, and I can't get over this preoccupation from women about Hillary Clinton being President based on feminist reasons. Ridiculous. She doesn't represent the feminist ideal to me at all. She rode on her husband's coattails all the way to the Senate, she has no clue how to handle her own campaign staff...demurely countering the gaffes her campaign makes by saying she didn't know or didn't consent. And she expects to run a country? She can't run her household, her campaign or a country. This nonsense about voting a woman in just because she is a woman shows no thought. We haven't come very far at all if this is the criteria most women are using to vote. Give me a woman who is a good person. I will vote for her...Hillary doesn't fit the bill for me. Independent thinking is much harder then this feminist herd mentality crap that I have heard all of my life. People will use anything to discriminate against you...rise up and be better...not worse, for it.
Posted by: Stacie | Friday, 11 January 2008 at 07:14 AM
When I read this editorial in this morning's Atlanta Journal Constitution I had to agree 100%
Here is the pertinent excerpt. I especially agree with paragraph 3:
Clinton a far cry from weak
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 01/11/08
"Did Hillary Clinton cry, tear up or just get something in her eye during a meet-and-greet with voters in a New Hampshire cafe?
There's been more discussion this week about whether Clinton cried than about her health care plan or her strategy for Iraq. According to the post-mortems of her unexpected New Hampshire victory, Clinton's misty eyes humanized her and caused hundreds of women in New Hampshire to cast their vote for her rather than Barack Obama.
Debate still rages over whether a teardrop actually fell. But if a tear had fallen, does that mean Clinton is unfit for the White House? Given the looming recession, the collapse of the real estate market and the war in Iraq, it's a wonder more Americans aren't weeping."
In writing off Clinton and then crediting her resurgence to tears, pundits underestimated the candidate as well as the voters. It's ridiculous to proclaim that legions of female voters could be swayed by that hint of a tear. After all, Mitt Romney has choked up during the campaign — to no avail.
Perhaps the New Hampshire women who were forecast as Obama voters switched to Clinton after watching her debate the other candidates or answer questions at campaign events. Pundits drubbed most of Clinton's public appearances in New Hampshire, saying she was wonkish and bogged down in detail, while Obama was inspirational."
Maureen Downey, for the editorial board
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 01/11/08
Posted by: Chancy | Friday, 11 January 2008 at 09:42 AM
I tried to post earlier but it somehow didn't get throught. I don't want to write a long post but want to add my support to Ronni's viewpoint. To vote for a candidate simply because she is a female isn't feminism; it's madness. As someone else pointed out Sen. Clinton hardly embodies feminist ideals. She supported the war in Iraq and her health care plan will serve only to further enrich the big pharmaceutical corporations. Sure I'd like to see a woman in the White House, but I'll wait for one who is a true perspective. It's great that some women have several daughters who are all wonderfully accomplished, but to use them to lay a guilt trip on a womans who choose not to support a certain women candidate is -- well, frankly, it's un-sisterly.
Posted by: Audrey Vest | Friday, 11 January 2008 at 12:20 PM
Interesting -- I saw that video a couple of days ago and thought "wow, Clinton's finest moment." I liked her better than I ever had (not much).
Clinton is not my choice; I didn't like her husband's policies much and I see her as stuck in the same paradigm at a moment when we need to move on. I'm represented by two women senators and don't find them much different from previous men senators; they go to DC and become very different from the majority of us.
Posted by: janinsanfran | Friday, 11 January 2008 at 03:57 PM
Interesting post and interesting comments. I appreciate you posting the video of Senator Clinton. I, personally, would hardly call her remarks and demeanor a "melt down". I think it is good to show your feelings when something touches you. We've had plenty of time to see Clinton under pressure; I don't think that would be our problem with her.
I'd like to see the press focus on her plans regarding the economy and foreign policy. Can she fix this mess? How would she go about it? That's what I want to know. Perhaps the media refers to the senator as "Hillary" in order not to confuse voters as to which Clinton they are referring to, but I think it is demeaning that she is only one referred to by her first name. I don't like it. I notice I'm becoming more sympathetic to all the candidates as the pundits get more smug and snide about them.
Posted by: Sharry | Friday, 11 January 2008 at 08:26 PM
Ronni, you never fail to delight me with your posts. You present contrary opinions with decidedly well-presented fact along side your honest opinion.
So here's mine.
Hillary Clinton has proven she is whoever she needs to be at any given moment. I wasn't aware that being the President's wife counted as "experience" in matters of policy, and senate experience is something both clinton and obama both share, so that argument falls short by a longshot. The only reason Hillary doesn't get off the experience horse is because she can't get on the integrity horse.
She sold us down the river once on healthcare, and she would do it again in a heartbeat.
When it comes to healing this nation, I believe Obama stands the best chance of uniting a country that is so vehemently divided it is nearly unrecognizable to me.
Posted by: jeneane sessum | Friday, 11 January 2008 at 10:08 PM
Very interesting post and comments.
Hillary does not get my vote...and it's not because she choked up with emotion. It's because I discovered a few years ago she's much too wishy-washy for this voter.
And what really put her out of the running for me was when I discovered she'd been bought off by the drug companies. No thanks....she's not for me.
Obama has my vote but I also wanted to add....before the tears episode, I was highly concerned with her lack of maintaining her cool during the debates. Her eyes were beyond firey and she was beyond angry during the debate in NH. (during the point where she felt she was being "picked on" by Obama and Edwards) Hey, not a thing wrong with that....but, when the stock market is crashing and those other million things are all going on at the same time, excuse me....but I prefer to have MY President at LEAST showing a bit of control and professionalism to us the people.
Nothing wrong with emotion, no matter the gender...I just prefer a President that's able to keep his/her anger behind closed doors.
Posted by: Terri | Saturday, 12 January 2008 at 10:45 AM
OH AND....PS....since when do ANY of us "owe an apology" to our readers for what we CHOOSE to verbalize about on our own blogs?
The last I checked, that Thought Bill had not been passed.
Posted by: Terri | Saturday, 12 January 2008 at 10:47 AM