This democratic primary race is telling of these tolerant times: The Wives and I just finished watching an Oprah episode about a woman who came out to her husband that was a lesbian. Years later the husband confessed he was gay, too. While we don't have any gay democratic candidates (yet), we do have a strong black candidate in Barack Obama and a strong woman candidate in Hillary Clinton. It's all gravy.
I was taken aback at this point of progression, when candidates are more than ever judged for their qualifications and character rather than their sex or race, to learn that women are flocking around Gloria Steinem's NY Times op-ed in which she concludes:
"We have to be able to say: I’m supporting her [Hillary] because she’ll be a great president and because she’s a woman.”
So we should choose candidates because of their sex? What the fuck? Hasn't this been what women have been fighting all along?
First off, I'm not going to start about Steinem's irrelevancy in this day and age, and question if this op-ed is only self-serving to reestablish her legitimacy as a feminist. Whoops.
Steinem justifiably makes the case that sex barriers should be taken as seriously as the racial ones, which often receive more attention, but what Steinem fails to realize is that if her statement were flipped to say, "I'm supporting him because he'll make a great president and because he's black," she would ignite a tirade of racial debates and sway voters from focusing on the first half of the statement and what really matters: why he (or she) would make a great president. For whatever reason, the public and media are less inclined to go into such a frenzy over sex, but, nevertheless, Steinem is secularizing voters as a result of her statements.
If anything, this recent spotlight on sex only shows weakness in Hillary. Whereas Obama has somewhat successfully avoided sparking the race and ethnicity debates, we're all talk about Hillary and gender differences right now, which may signify that Hillary's not standing on the legs of her issue stances, and instead relying on what's not between her legs. Clearly, she lost some ground during the nationally televised debates, where the issues were at play, but gained ground back when she showed emotion and cried in New Hampshire a few days ago, helping her win that state after a disappointing loss to Obama in Ohio.
NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd said in her column, "Can Hillary Cry Her Way Back into the White House?" that "At her victory party, Hillary was like the heroine of a Lifetime movie, a woman in peril who manages to triumph. " That's exactly what we don't want in a president, a Lifetime movie character.
Hillary said herself in an Access Hollywood interview, “If you get too emotional, that undercuts you... A man can cry; we know that. Lots of our leaders have cried. But a woman, it’s a different kind of dynamic.” It's a different dynamic when you cry in public, on camera. That's for sure.
We're voting for a Commander-In-Chief here, leader of the world's greatest military. Crying during a primary election doesn't exactly indicate fearless leadership or intimidation against enemies of the United States. I doubt Joan of Arc cried to inspire her French countrymen against the English at the end of the Hundred Years' War.
I'm more inclined to believe op-ed columnist Gail Collins' theory that Hillary got a "Free Pass" for showing emotions this week:
"...Hillary was a stand-in for every woman who’s overdosed on multitasking. They grabbed at the opportunity to have kids/go back to school/start a business/become a lawyer. But there are days when they can’t meet everybody’s needs and the men in their lives — loved ones and otherwise — make them feel like failures or towers of self-involvement. Clinton’s failed attempt to suck it up hit home."
Surely, many women, as described above, will find similarities in Hillary from a personal standpoint, but should those personal similarities take precedence over their political or ideological compatibilities with her? I hope not.
Alright, ladies, you can start bashing me now.