More racist or sexist?
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While many Americans have a sincere sense of sentimentality and nostalgia for what Clinton may consider outdated gender roles, a much smaller number have that kind of feeling for racial segregation.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.
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.
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?