The Fem Spot

Hillary Clinton supporters: stupid, or just plain emotional?

Posted in Feminist Theory, Personal Essays, Pop Culture by femspotter on September 4, 2008

September 4, 2008

The question has been asked on television news, commentary programs, talk radio and at the office water cooler. Does John McCain really think women in this country are stupid enough to vote for him just because his running mate is a woman?

When I first heard the news that McCain’s choice was made and freshman Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin was on his ticket, I experienced a burst of excitement. Gloria Steinem had said that men of all races will make history before women, and in this case the history was to be made by Democratic nominee Barack Obama, a black man. He’ll be the first black man to become president. Sorry ladies, you’ll have to wait your turn.

I’m not usually the kind of person who follows authority blindly, but it was the Gloria Steinem who had said it. Men will achieve historic milestones in each category before women. I felt a stab of injustice. I fumed and cried for the 80- and 90-year-old women out there who were hoping to see Hillary Clinton assume the presidency, meaning that herstory had been made when this country elected a woman to our highest executive office.

Sarah Palin. Who is that? I didn’t know her from Eve, but suddenly her name sounded really powerful. Maybe she would prove Steinem wrong and pass an historical landmark before a black man had become either president or vice president. Sarah Palin. How bad could she be?

Obama never told us why he didn’t consider Clinton as his running mate. I had thought her the most logical choice. She came in a close second in the primary. She’d been a gracious loser, throwing her support behind Obama. She has some diehard fans. Shouldn’t these qualities make her the runner up for the job, a heartbeat away from the big button? Hey! I demand to know why she wasn’t even considered!

But it’s not my choice. It’s up to the man who won the primary race. And apparently he doesn’t care if roughly 20 percent of Clinton’s voters have pledged to give their votes to McCain.

And now with this Palin upset… People are asking: Are liberal women stupid enough to vote for McCain/Palin just because Palin is a woman?

It’s the wrong question. The correct question is: Are liberal women angry enough to vote Republican?

I’m not stupid and neither are the ladies from the Rutgers University Women’s Studies department who were quoted in last weekend’s New York Times as saying they would write in Clinton’s name when the time comes. It’s not a rational, intellectual reaction that makes us think of betraying party loyalty, it’s an emotional one.

Several weeks ago, I blogged about crying at work. I got a nasty response from somebody out there in the blogosphere telling me that I must be totally insane to cry over a hurtful, misdirected email – somebody emailed me something negative about me instead of sending it to the appropriate (?) person. I should have posted the comment under the essay…but I had an emotional reaction to it and, just like when I cried at work, I acted hastily. I deleted the comment.

My emotions aren’t wrong or bad, but they often make life a bit difficult. Emotional people are the ones who give you the finger if you cut them off in traffic. Emotional people get scared at scary movies and huddle up to the person in the seat next to them. Emotional people take in stray animals. We donate blood. We’re always available to give you a hug. We’re not terrible people…we’re emotional.

Once I saw a woman weeping on a bench in the New York City subway system. I recognized her as a fellow emoter immediately. I thought that perhaps she’d just lost her 12 year-old Labrador Retriever. Maybe, she’d dropped all of her money irrevocably onto the subway tracks. Could it be that her tears were the result of too small underwear wedging into her ass crack? There was just no way to tell.

I wanted to go over to her and lay a hand on her shoulder. I wanted to tell her that everything was going to be okay. But because she was crying – for whatever reason – I couldn’t do it. Once emotional, always emotional. If she’s a crier, won’t she be a screamer too? This was New York City. If I offered her sympathy, would I be rewarded with a smack?

Emotion can get a bit unruly, but it’s also fleeting. My knee-jerk reaction to Palin’s nomination was enthusiasm. But I’m all for abortion rights, gay marriage and green initiatives. Palin is completely against abortion under any circumstances. She’s absolutely certain that the only viable “marriage” equation consists of one man and one woman. And she thinks global warming is the process by which flight attendants heat meals on an airplane.

I may have considered voting for McCain during the emotional haze that followed the Palin announcement. But when I do think about those issues, among others, I know that I will not vote Republican. That’s not to say that my Obama vote is etched in stone, however. Remember, I’m emotional. If Obama says or does anything disrespectful to Clinton or to female Democrats in the days just before the election, he’s risking another emotional outburst from us scorned women.

We’re not stupid. We’re just emotional. And emotion isn’t bad or wrong, it’s just impulsive.

The right thing would have been to offer assistance to the crying woman in the subway. I should have braved it. The wrong thing would have been to avoid even considering such a gesture.

Smoke, mirrors…and texts

Posted in Politics, Pop Culture by femspotter on August 29, 2008

August 29, 2008

Several weeks ago, my husband excitedly told me that he, J*** M*****, would be the first to know who the (then) presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama would choose as his running mate. J*** had signed up to receive a text message of the news on his cell phone. (The novelty of text messages still has not worn off in our house – I don’t send them myself and was alarmed at how out of touch I must be when my 59-year-old mother sent me one the other day.) Obama was going to make his choice known to the world…but first, he was going to text my husband.

We stared at his phone. When it buzzed, would it tell us that Hillary Clinton was the chosen one, even though she hadn’t been vetted; even though Obama hadn’t mentioned her much in the past few weeks; and even though CNN – otherwise known as BNN (Barack News Network) – had indicated that she was NOT on his short list? Would the text reveal that Clinton would be rewarded for her 18 million primary votes and her unfailing public support of Obama since she conceded the race? We held out a glimmer of hope. After all, why would Obama need to vet Clinton? She was nearly in his place. What more could he possibly need to know about her, about her qualifications?

I had voted for Clinton in the New Jersey primary. I thought her the superior candidate based on experience and her ability to explain things clearly. I did not dislike Obama, but had concerns about his many “present” votes in the Illinois State Senate, for instance. I worry about his lack of decisiveness. Recently, when BNN did back-to-back interviews with Obama and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, the moderator asked both men the same questions and the result was that McCain spit out more answers than did Obama in the allotted time (same for both). Why? McCain uses words like “yes” and “no.” Obama is less direct. He dances around those words.

Needless to say, when the text came at 3 a.m. on Aug. 23, we were very disappointed. It’s not that we don’t respect, or even admire, Senator Joe Biden. But like somebody said on Fox News: Is this Obama’s way of admitting he needs adult supervision in the White House?

Here’s what I think: this is actually Obama’s way of avoiding the revelation that he needs the Clinton voters. I think that he might see that as stooping or pandering. And a man with his ego is never going to admit publically that he needs the help of a lowly woman…other than his wife. Right?

Whoosh! I felt that slap in the face. All of the votes Clinton had received and all of her subsequent cheers and supportive declarations hadn’t ingratiated her in Obama’s good graces. And to add insult to injury, Obama sent his magical text at 3 a.m., the time when Clinton had said she’d be ready to pick up the phone and deal with the country’s needs and Obama would not. So there!

The Obama-Biden ticket was designed to offset attacks from the McCain camp. What do you mean I’m not experienced enough? I’ve got a 36-year United States senator on my team…and he has white hair. What do you mean I don’t have enough foreign policy experience? My vice president is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee?

McCain has made a similar move in selecting Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, but he’s also one-upped the distinguished gentleman from Illinois. Palin offsets McCain’s age and his less-than-conservative ideals by bringing youth, and consequently inexperience, to the ticket. She’s only 44, the youngest of the four candidates, and is in her first term as the head of her state. On the plus side for the “too moderate” McCain are her politics: she’s pro-gun, pro-life and anti-gay. And just like Biden, she has a son enlisted in our armed services. As the mother of five, including one child with Down syndrome, she’s probably capable of keeping McCain in line during the next several months.

But Palin’s real gift is genetic: she’s got the same anatomy as one Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton…and in the wake of Clinton’s snub, Palin’s vagina is more valuable to McCain than any man’s set of balls would be. Let’s face it: you’ve got to be tough in politics, but you’ve also got to be smart and a bit of a show(wo)man. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

The real question now is whether or not angry Clinton supporters, like me and my text-happy hubby, will take the bait. Will we fall hook, line and sinker for McCain’s choice of the former commercial fishing company owner?

I’m at a crossroads.

I was hoping that McCain would pick Mitt Romney, the conservative once caught in liberal’s clothing from Massachusetts. I can’t think of anyone I despise more…except maybe Maureen Dowd (but that’s a blog for another day). He’s pro-choice one day…pro-life the next. He’s credited with creating jobs at Bain, when really, he cut benefits and pay to existing workers in order to do so. And, though this is quite unfair to Romney, I associate him with those brutal weeks I spent during my undergraduate education at Boston University waiting to find out whether Al Gore had beaten George W. Bush in the 2000 Presidential election…even though Romney wasn’t yet the Governor. ARRRGGGHHH!

If McCain had just picked Romney, I could have forgiven Obama…sort of.

I don’t know what to do. As a Clinton supporter, I am really angry at Obama. But am I angry enough to vote against my side of the issues: pro-choice, pro-gay, anti-gun? Do I side with my party or with my sex? Which is worse: being spat upon or being manipulated? I suppose I could just not vote at all…but then I would be giving up the right to complain after the dust settles.

For now, I’ll just sit by the phone and wait for a text message from my soul. Isn’t that how it works?

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