Monday, February 11, 2008

Something Else Is Going On

Those who know me know I vote Democrat almost every time. I believe in what the party stands for, even when its leaders take a seat. Like other Democrats, I'm quite pleased to have not one but two extremely strong candidates duking it out for the nomination.

Some readers might vote differently. I happen to think you're sorely misguided and perhaps not paying enough attention to things like, oh say, the weather. But that's not what this post is about.

I've been leaning in the direction of Obama, because I feel that he strikes a similar chord as JFK, because he seems poised to unify people and reach past differences. Only some of that has to do with his qualifications, which are many. Much of it has to do with image, and all that that implies.

Then I read this post.

I don't know the author personally, but he is a friend of a friend, and he is by all accounts a smart, articulate, thoughtful, interesting, and open-minded person. In no way am I trying to castigate the writer of that blog personally. I've also communicated my objections to him personally, so this isn't a sideswipe.

As you can see if you read the comment I left, however, I am very bothered by his sexist metaphor, which implies that standing up for what one believes in is an inherently masculine trait. Oddly enough, hope itself seems to have been appropriated by male language: "Hope Has a Pair," and Hillary's "castration" as a result of not standing firm to her positions.

It echoes the goofy machismo promoted by Bush and his cronies, the "let's done a flight suit and declare a war over!" mentality, the notion that once on a course one should never turn back.

It isn't so much this writer's particular post that gets me. (And I encourage you to read more of his posts, to give the guy a chance.) This is merely one example of something I'm beginning to notice much more often in the Obama camp.

What truly, deeply bothers me is that even here on the left, where I fall into the complacent illusion that people look past the limits of gender, race, physical ability, etc., the assumptions of male dominance are still present. They are a security blanket to so many-- both male and female, but mostly male. These assumptions are so natural that the writer likely didn't even consider what he was doing as the least bit offensive when he wrote it. (Still waiting to hear from him on that.) Promotions, assertions, legislations and more can't seem to shake so many men free from the notion that they are somehow, inherently, indefinably better. It isn't something they'll assert publicly; it's simply a belief they hold so automatically that it comes as a surprise when anyone raises a hand in protest.

(Yes, we all know wonderful men who are exceptions to that rule (Hi, Dad!), but that isn't the point right now.)

I don't want to vote for Hillary because she's a woman anymore than I want to vote for Obama because his father was black. Yet I find myself looking to Hillary much more now, because in the Obama camp I see snags here and there where people vote not out of hope but of fear and distaste.

How often do we fail to hear what she says, because we're unnerved by the fact that a woman is saying it? And how much is that reaction so natural that we fail to recognize it as such?

"I think it's time we had a really tough broad in charge," my father said when we were discussing the candidates over the holidays. At the time, I shrugged and thought, maybe not this tough broad.

Now I am reconsidering. Let Hillary ruffle feathers. Let her infuriate the right, and the left, and the centrists who are made to feel uneasy. I'm abandoning my argument that it's time for a new generation to take the helm of this nation, because now it's time for a brave woman -- yes, both of those words together -- to run the place.

This begs the questions, of course: what part of female anatomy shall stand for chutzpah? Anyone?

4 comments:

del said...

I can't tell you how much it saddens me to see this race brought down to gender & race. That's all people seem able to focus on & the naysayers are going to use it against Hillary & Obama every single chance they get. Ugh.

However, my husband tells me that his barbers & many of the men at the barbershop (where they talk politics all the time) are more than ready to vote for Hillary, should she capture the Democratic nomination. So there IS some hope.

K said...

I say stop reading all the hype by this pundit and that person and follow who YOU think should be in the White House. Remember nobody is perfect, that would make them a god. Look at the human spirit, heart, and mind past male/female or black/white. This country has done this nonsense far too long. In the end it will work out anyway.

Caroline said...

Admittedly, at first I gravitated towards Obama because of how he made me feel: idealistic, hopeful. And I didn't care for Hillary because she seemed like a manipulative politician. And honestly, I still feel the same way about both.

But this is how I'm hoping to vote in the primaries: based on the candidate's stances on the issues. Period. If I end up agreeing more with Obama, so be it. If Hillary and I agree more, she'll get my vote.

Like you said, I don't want to vote for one because we're both female, or the other because he's not white. But I don't want to vote based on their supporters either (I seriously do not like Oprah, but I shouldn't hold her support against Obama).

My problem is that I wish this was a perfect world.

Anonymous said...

Well said...from an observer living afar: Australia!

Cathy, Melbourne
cathyc@pioneerbooks.com.au