So today Hillary finally talked sexism to the media. From her Washington Post interview:
"It's been deeply offensive to millions of women," Clinton said. "I believe this campaign has been a groundbreaker in a lot of ways. But it certainly has been challenging given some of the attitudes in the press, and I regret that, because I think it's been really not worthy of the seriousness of the campaign and the historical nature of the two candidacies we have here."
Later, when asked if she thinks this campaign has been racist, she says she does not. And she circles back to the sexism. "The manifestation of some of the sexism that has gone on in this campaign is somehow more respectable, or at least more accepted, and . . . there should be equal rejection of the sexism and the racism when it raises its ugly head," she said. "It does seem as though the press at least is not as bothered by the incredible vitriol that has been engendered by the comments by people who are nothing but misogynists."
As a woman of color, I’ve been thinking about this racism and sexism topic for awhile now, trying to put my thoughts together. To put it plainly, the whole thing pisses me off. For a variety of different reasons:
- The media and some pundits have been ridiculously sexist. All the cleavage, cackle, “OMG what’s Hillary wearing!” comments have no place in politics. I mean, really. I’m not even a Hillary supporter, but that stuff is crazy. I could care less what color suit a candidate wears – it has NOTHING to do with the issues. Stick to the issues, people.
- But the racism vs. sexism debate has GOT to end. It’s not a damn competition, people! I think this storyline has been steered by the media – it’s been like perpetual Spring Break for media pundits. “We can talk race! We can talk sex! Woo hoo!” And yes, let’s talk about it, but it’s not an “either/or” or “sexism vs. racism” debate. There is nuanced racism and sexism running rampant in this society. Let’s talk about that, because they’re both unacceptable. Period.
- I’ve heard many Hillary supporters assert that Clinton is losing because of sexism. That argument doesn’t even make any sense. Perhaps she lost some votes because the voters were sexist. Fine. But that doesn’t negate the fact that she has received the majority of working class male votes, female votes, elderly votes. No, she is losing because her campaign was poorly organized. She’s losing because she went negative too early, and after 8 years of Karl Rove politics, the American people are SICK of that. She’s losing because she entered the race ASSUMING that she was the nominee – completely undermining Obama’s competency and his threat to her success. She is losing because the majority of Americans prefer Obama’s policies, his ideas, and vision for this country – plain and simple.
- And when it comes to racism in this race, she is losing because her campaign fanned the flames. African-Americans support Barack for his policies. Some also support him because he’s a viable Black candidate. But many Black voters also left the Clinton camp because of the crap that’s come out of Hillary’s mouth, and the mouths of people within her campaign. People ask me for evidence all the time. So I’ll just refer you to this wiki, which Jack and Jill Politics has kept as a way to track the race-baiting that has come out of the Clinton campaign (and doesn't include some of the more recent instances, including the "hard working, white voters" comment).
- I do believe point 4, but I do not believe that Obama, his campaign, and the DNC have contributed to the blatant sexism put forth by the media. This is the argument: by not condemning sexism outright, the DNC/Obama campaign has contributed. That’s so crazy. Isn’t it the job of the candidate to point out and condemn vitriol? I mean, Hillary and/or the DNC never condemned the blatant racism Obama faced. Obama did. His campaign addressed the issues outright. And then he proceeded to give his pivotal speech in Philadelphia. It was risky (as some people - e.g Geraldine Ferraro- could say that, by addressing the issues, he was playing the race card… ), but still addressed the problem head-on.
- I also do not believe that Obama is “terribly sexist” (another argument that I’ve heard some women make, e.g. Geraldine Ferraro). And just to note: I acknowledge Obama’s “sweetie” comment. As an outspoken Obama supporter, I’ll say that it made me cringe. I wish he would stop doing this – it’s beneath him. But I’m also glad that he called the reporter directly and apologized. I’m also glad that he has run a POSITIVE campaign. His message is one of hope and change. People have snickered, rolled their eyes, called his words empty – but no one can deny that he’s stayed away from negative, low-class attacks. And a sexist attack would be against all the principles of his campaign. I also look to the females in Obama’s life. These women - his mother, the woman who raised Obama, shaped his life and pushed him to do great things, his wife, Michelle… need I say more, and his two little girls, who he refers to frequently as the reason he’s working to improve this country, are a huge part of his life. In fact, I’d say these women SHAPE his life. They are the cornerstones of his life. Without them, he wouldn’t be where he is today. His mother and his wife are strong, smart and fearless. And I mean, really, Obama married his BOSS – after she finally accepted a date with him, that is. Does that a sexist man make?
- I’ve also heard ramblings that some female Hillary supports will actively campaign against Obama in November because they believe the DNC should be punished for fueling the sexism. These women give us feminists a bad name. One, I disagree with the entire premise of this argument (see point 5). Two… hey ladies – ever think about the person you’ll be campaigning for if you do this? A man who calls his wife a c-nt. In public. A man who once supported a woman’s right to choose in instances of incest, rape and threat to the mother’s life, but now opposes abortion outright. A man who chuckled when asked “How do we beat the b*tch” and replied with “Well, that’s a good question."
I think America is ready for a female president – I think America is ready for any kind of president that will be a strong and inspiring commander-in-chief. And this year, I don’t think Hillary Clinton is the right person for the job. Call me sexist.