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I love stories. I'm the one at social functions with a dozen new anecdotes. But I worry about hogging the conversation. Sometimes I tell myself that I'll be quiet and let others do the talking. But no matter how hard I try, my stories insist on bursting out! Here I can let my stories (the classics that I tell again and again, as well as new ones that unfold along the way) run free. I'm a professional writer and editor, and sole proprietor of The Word Cellar. I write for a variety of publications and clients on everything from green buildings and nuclear reactors to entrepreneurship and the arts. If you need words written, edited, or enlivened, I can help. Contact me.

11.14.2006

More racist or sexist?

Last night James** and I were discussing who would be more likely to get the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2008: Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. We wondered if Americans would be more willing to put the first woman or first non-white in power (Obama's father was a black African and his mother was a white American). I think that Obama has a better shot at it, personally. I just get the sense that sexism will be a bigger hurtle than racism. Besides, I think that Obama is just more likeable than Clinton.

Today I came across a post on the Salon blog called Broadsheet. It explores a Washington Post article by Wallace-Wells that asks, "Is America too Racist for Barack? Too Sexist for Hillary?" Wallace-Wells writes:

While many Americans have a sincere sense of sentimentality and nostalgia for what Clinton may consider outdated gender roles, a much smaller number have that kind of feeling for racial segregation. There is the sense that, by electing a female president, the nation would be meeting a standard set by other liberal democracies; the election of a black man, by contrast, would be a particularly American achievement, an affirmation of American ideals and a celebration of American circumstances.

Later in the article:

Of course, the civil rights and women's rights movements of the 1960s have left vastly different legacies. No political figure would dare deny the saintliness of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.; Betty Friedan's name is a political dirty word. Repression of blacks was the stuff of massive state-leveraged cruelty -- the police dogs and fire hoses -- while repression of women in this country was made of quieter stuff: bras, aprons and constitutional amendments.

Both Broadhseet and the Feministing (another blog credited with tipping off Broadsheet to the story) take great offense at this description. Feministing puts it this way:

While the characterizations of the civil rights and women's movement are both generalized to the umpth degree...bras and aprons?! Bras and aprons?! Seriously?

It's nice to know that a movement that helped women obtain the right to control their own bodies, created a national discourse on domestic violence and rape, and challenged sexual harassment and workplace inequity (just to name a few accomplishments) can be reduced to two words--pieces of clothing, at that!--bras and aprons. Lovely.

While I understand the annoyance with such broad generalizations, I think that Wallace-Wells is expressing a commonly held idea of our national consciousness. Even some people who would agree that preventing domestic violence, rape, and workplace inequity are good moves may not be all that comfortable with the term feminism. The movement has a bad rep of being full of man-hating hardasses. Personally, I think feminism is simply believing that women and men are equals.

But I think that collectively, we're still uncomfortable with women in positions of power. We just don't know what to do with ourselves. We talk about what women politicians are wearing, as if that makes a different to their political plans. When a woman is strong and straightforward, we call her a bitch.

I'm not trying to make the argument that women have it worse than African Americans. It would take a good research study to determine which group encounters more obstacles. (Anybody know of such a study?) I just have a gut feeling that a man -- regardless of his color -- will win out over a woman.

**James thinks that Hillary will get the nomination and take Barack as her running mate, and that they will then become an unstoppable minority team. Interesting theory.

What do you think?

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add to kirtsy | 3:45 PM

6 Comments:

Anonymous Jess said...

i'm not sure i think obama will run in 08, but if he does, he is going to have the advantage of the "oprah" vote. she's been pushing him for president for months and i think she just may have the power to get him nominated and elected regardless of who he runs against.

11/14/2006 4:41 PM  
Anonymous E to vad said...

i did not read this blog, just the part that said "what do you think?" well i think about a lot of things. most recently would be how much i love garlic.

11/15/2006 1:18 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

you're right, jess. it will be an "O" extravaganza: Obama and Oprah!

11/15/2006 1:57 PM  
Anonymous Start with an E then add the vad said...

yes jennifer, jess was right about all that "O" talk...but where do you weigh in on the garlic topic? i think you are avoiding the real issue here.

11/15/2006 3:01 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

one of the cardinal rules of blogging and commenting: stay on topic. garlic, while tasty and good for you, is not related to hillary, obama, or oprah. (although i have a feeling you're going to try to prove that it is...)

11/15/2006 4:50 PM  
Anonymous GARLIC MASTER Evad said...

cardinal rules of blogging??? really...jennifer, who are you dealing with? if you recall I am the King and Pope of myspace which is more than enough credit to know about blogging birds (cardinal rules). and yes I will not just try to prove, but will prove without a doubt that my garlic comment had to do with your blog, not your hillary, obama, and oprah thing. my comment was directed towards the last line of the blog, "what do you think". not "what do you think about hillary, obama, and oprah." so i was still within the relam of your blog. i think that is a clear enough path to garlic talk. but let us ASSume that we were to know that you menat "what do you think about hillary, obama, and oprah"...garlic would still fit in here. how? let us take these one at a time. first and the easiest would be who i like to call The Steadman Scandal aka Oprah. She does diet and in all diets one MUST use garlic. it tastes great and is good for you. TSS is a big lover of the garlic. Next we have this Obama. He just start popping up out of no where. kind of like a tasty gralic treat. its like you are eating some popcorn and BAM! garlic taste. that equals into im watching the news and BAM! Obama is right there making and you get a smile on your face, just like the garlic taste produces. and finally Hillary. She is a Scorpio; scorpios want food bursting with powerful flavors like basil, cinnamon, curry, garlic, and ginger. You can look that one up. That is not from me, its from the stars. So I think I proved my point on how I was correct with what i orginally wrote and was even able to relay it your whole hillary, obama, or oprah thing. THE GARLC HAS SPOKEN!

11/15/2006 6:10 PM  

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