July 5, 2011
Anyways, now that the presidential campaign season is heating up, all of the endemic sexism is being exposed AGAIN. Not that it wasn't there all along mind you. It's just that at this point in our country's history, something about women being serious candidates for president seems to bring out the worst in us as Americans. The thought of a woman holding all of that power makes otherwise decent people go completely cuckoo.
It's been written about alot, all of the stereotyping-------you know, whore, witch, bitch, ditz, dangerously stupid, etc. It's a big problem, but at least Palin and Bachmann, the current possible and hopeful, have decent strategies for plowing right through it. I don't know if they will ultimately be successful in their missions, but I believe that their strategy of dealing with it head-on is much more effective than Hillary's strategy of ignoring it. That, btw, is not a partisan comment. Hillary courageously dove right in as a real pioneer and the "let the chips fall where they may" strategy was a necessary starting point. Brava to her for her iron will and steely determination!!!!
But in truth, her candidacy exposed alot of ugly stuff that does not appear to be going away. And to the people who continue to say that women will get there "someday," or that this younger generation will make a huge difference, I say maybe. But it is no reason to sit back and just wait it out. As many of us as possible need to continue to speak up LOUDLY against all of the ridiculous sexism we see from day to day. We need to speak up LOUDLY to everyone around us. As Mother Theresa would say, your voice makes a difference---even if it is just to 1 person or two people or ten people. If hundreds of us speak to thousands of us and the message keeps growing, it WILL BE HEARD. One of the goals of getting women parity at the top has to be restoring a sense of shame to being sexist. Last election in 2008, America just wasn't listening to that message as we were on a seeming quest to talk about racism. I'm not arguing about racism here-----it is sexism that is in my sights. And this time around, America may just be more willing to listen to the shame of sexism. Especially with TWO women in the hunt this time.
One of the most rock hard obstacles to getting women elected is the way both parties hold women's interests hostage to their own rhetoric. It's pretty clear how this is done. The Democrats do it by convincing women that they are "the party of women," that they are really out there looking out for our interests which for them is pretty much all about abortion rights. OK, it could be argued that this might be a good woman's issue. HOWEVER, in order to keep the party interested in this issue, we are expected to support all of the other party issues including dissing all of the women on the other side as being stupid, neanderthal, etc. We've heard it all before. If you look at all of the other issues that the Democratic Party is putting forth, how much of it is REALLY in women's best interests if we are expected to be the prime weapon dissing other women if they don't happen to agree with the Democratic Party platform of the moment? We women are being used to divide ourselves, the classic divide-and-conquer wedge issue.
The Republicans do it too, but a little differently. The Republican wedge issue is the buzzword phrase "identity politics" as in we don't believe in them. It's a great wedge issue too and has been for a long time. However, it presents a real problem for women and that is that they aren't allowed to talk about women's issues per se because it is against the Republican party rhetoric. And make no mistake-----whether it is Democratic or Republican rhetoric, men still run things and women still need to play along to get anything.
I believe that we can overcome this kneejerk reaction on both sides. First of all, if we women stand up together and declare that that is not how we are going to play the game, it will end. I don't know why we women aren't doing that, but it might have something to do with centuries and centuries of disempowerment.
Secondly, we must stop seeing women of the other party as the enemy or "the other" or as icky in any way. I get this, believe me!!! After 40 years of being a Democratic Party insider through and through and seeing the people on the Republican side as the enemy, I left the Democrats over the sexism of 2008. I publicly supported the McCain-Palin ticket as a protest and also to vote for a woman for VP. I found myself at the Republican convention that summer face to face with all of the icky people I had been demonizing for 40 years. It was honestly, really creepy at first. Really creepy. It started with seeing former U.S. ambassador to the UN under the Bush administration John Bolton in my hotel lobby (he's much shorter than I thought), and went on to seeing Mitt Romney three feet away from me (tall, handsome, and glamorous), and continued on to speaking with the people in the Ohio delegation that I had worked so hard to defeat for so many years. After feeling slightly nauseated and not really believing that I was THERE in the middle of enemy country, I got over myself and began to see that these people were Americans too just like me. And I began to unspool my prejudices against them and see that some of their ideas weren't so bad. Conversely, I began to see that just because something had "Democratic" next to it, it wasn't always something terrific either.
We women and the men who support us need to deprogram ourselves enough to stop being held hostage by party rhetoric. By being a prisoners of these memes, we are preventing women from getting elected and assuming the proper power we were meant to hold. Think of how fabulous it would be if 50% (+1) of our representatives were women!!!! But that vision is a subject for another day.......
Welcome back to you too!!!!!!! Let's talk about it.........