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.

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What do we really want from our female leaders?

Posted in Feminist Theory, Politics, Sexuality by femspotter on July 3, 2008

July 3, 2008

I know that the American national political race is a popularity contest to some extent. But just how much of the process is sexual?

Before she conceded the race, I voted for Hillary Clinton in the New Jersey Democratic primary. I have observed and have commented on some of the nasty things people have had to say about Clinton. I get it. She’s just not as likable as Barack Obama and that translates to her lesser popularity.

Now, I’m not saying that Obama hasn’t been poked fun of during the past many months…but the witch iconography that has been applied to Clinton is pervasive in the political pundit arena, as well as in some of the online chat locations where average men and women, such as myself, visit and babble. Consider the following imagery:

Scary lady who kills dogsPsychedelic Wicked Witch of the West

This type of “humor” is rooted in the fear and dislike Americans collectively feel for strong and confrontational females. Men, in particular, may find Clinton frightening because she threatens to usurp their authority, rendering them castrated, so to speak. Hence, we have these images:

Castrating Clinton as a NutcrackerClinton has your balls on ice!

Whether she’s thought to use her thighs to crack nuts or not, her thighs have become another source for our general dislike of Clinton:

This is hands down the worst thing I have ever seen.

The sign reads: “Hillary Special…Two Fat Thighs with Small Breast and a Left Wing.” So not only has Clinton been compared to a notorious, cackling killer of small animals, she is also compared to a piece of meat; and as such, she doesn’t make the grade. I guess that instead of going to law school, travelling the world, raising a daughter and perfecting her political prowess, she should have been starving herself, getting breast implants and posing for Vogue magazine with Angelina Jolie. That’s really the job of a woman in politics, right? (And while we’re on the subject of Ms. Jolie, do people really believe she’s strong enough to pull off any of the stunts in her new movie Wanted? She looks like vermicelli.)

Clinton’s relationship with her husband is also under intense scrutiny. Take a look at these:

Bill as HillaryHillary whipped Bill

What these prove is that she can’t win either way. If Bill Clinton is seen to have influence over her choices, she ceases to exist entirely. If people perceive that she’s the one in control, she comes off as a dominatrix.

I don’t have these ideas of Clinton and I haven’t considered her likability when choosing her as the next President of the United States. I don’t want to have a beer with the woman, I want her to run a country of potentially 400,000,000 morons who do consider her likability in these terms.

I asked a conservative colleague of mine what he thinks of Clinton. “She’s a liar,” he said. “She tells people what they want to hear. She panders to a specific audience.” These are legitimate complaints. I don’t necessarily agree with him, but he has obviously put some thought into a relevant argument against her electability.

But then he said, “I have absolutely no respect for any woman, including my wife, who catches their partner cheating and stays with them.” Whoa! Hold on! What? He took his argument to the place I am now disputing: a contest of sexual likeability and gender marginilization. If he’s thinking ill of her because she made a decision to forgive, or at least to move on with, a lecherous husband then I cannot support his earlier analysis of her integrity. He’s alligned himself with the Wicked Witch of the West and the Nutcracker theorists and put Hillary in a place of sex and gender based scrutiny. He’s decided to judge her based on her place in a marriage rather than her place in the U.S. Senate.

I probed further. It turns out, this conservative has a longstanding issue with Bill Clinton. “Because of Bill,” he said, “the blow job became very popular with 13-year-old kids. They now think that blow jobs are not sex.”

I want to work with this idea in two ways: 1. Is this really true? and 2. What does this have to do with Hillary?

Our Guys by Bernard Lefkowitz is a journalist’s investigation of a 1989 rape in Glen Ridge, NJ. Several popular atheletes raped a mentally disabled girl in one of their basements. They used a baseball bat and a broom handle, in addition to their dicks, to penetrate the young woman. As it turned out, many of these atheletes were not used to “face-to-face intercourse.” “Sex was something that was done to them, not something they actively participated in. Hand jobs and blow jobs-jobs that girls performed at their bidding. The guys were the formen supervising their work crew.”

Lefkowitz’s analysis of this trend was that the blow job was not something the boys considered to be “sex.” And it wasn’t an act that put pressure on them to perform well. Sexual intercourse is often judged successful if both participants get off. If the girl didn’t get off, the boy would have been said to have failed. But the blow job was just something for girls to perform successfully.

This all happened in 1989 before the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal of 1997, and many people who read the book could identify similar thinking in high schools across the country. I think that Bill Clinton, therefore, did not invent the blow job as a means to avoid intercourse. He just put that concept on television.

And where is Hillary in all of this? She’s not the one with her dick in somebody’s mouth. She’s not the one on her knees under a desk. And she’s not the one watching this unfold on television like an episode of The Jerry Springer Show.

So how does Monica Lewinsky’s job reflect negatively on Hillary Clinton? We American’s have thrown every standard in the book at Clinton and she’s managed to meet or cleanly dodge most of them. She has a bright smile and healthy skin. She looks slender in her trademark pantsuits. She teared up when she got emotional about her wishes and dreams, and slammed her fists down hard when objecting to Obama’s smear tactics in Ohio.

The problem for Clinton is that every time she has changed to fit our fickle standards, we throw another one in her direction. If we tell her to be tough, she is. Then we tell her she’s a “bitch” or a “witch.” Then we turn around and tell her she’s too soft when she cries or publically forgives a cheating spouse. She can’t win.

And she won’t until we decide what we want. Americans can be really picky, it seems.

We’re picky about our Hillary Clintons and not about cheap, plastic footware. I get blisters just thinking about these:

One of my friends told me he thinks people hate Clinton on a case-specific basis. “It’s not every woman,” he said. “It’s this woman.”

So let’s hope that the next woman to run for President doesn’t come with her own Bill.

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