January 8, 2008

If Barack Obama were a woman, we wouldn't see her as presidential material.

Says Gloria Steinem in a NYT op-ed:
The woman in question became a lawyer after some years as a community organizer, married a corporate lawyer and is the mother of two little girls, ages 9 and 6. Herself the daughter of a white American mother and a black African father — in this race-conscious country, she is considered black — she served as a state legislator for eight years, and became an inspirational voice for national unity.

Be honest: Do you think this is the biography of someone who could be elected to the United States Senate? After less than one term there, do you believe she could be a viable candidate to head the most powerful nation on earth?
Vivid. But on paper, Barack Obama doesn't look like a viable candidate either.

Anyway, Steinem is supporting Hillary Clinton, because, she says, "she has community organizing experience, but she also has more years in the Senate, an unprecedented eight years of on-the-job training in the White House, no masculinity to prove, the potential to tap a huge reservoir of this country’s talent by her example, and now even the courage to break the no-tears rule."

An unprecedented eight years of on-the-job training in the White House?
Ahem... Gloria? Can you say anything about the feminist issues entailed in a woman running for the presidency on her husband's accomplishments? If not, you're speaking as a Clinton partisan and not as someone who wants to seriously engage with feminism.

ADDED: Andrew Sullivan: "Clinton is comfortable aroound this kind of victimology. Obama transcends it."

AND: Ed Morrissey: "Steinem shows everything that's wrong with identity politics. It's crass, it's irrational, it assumes that people should get "turns", and in the end it's anti-democratic. Obama hasn't played that game like Hillary has — and that may be why Obama's beating Hillary like a bongo drum in Iowa and New Hampshire."

53 comments:

George said...

Phyllis Schlafly on the feminist movement.

Meade said...

And how about Monica Lewinsky's on-the-job training in the White House? If Goria Steinem were a real feminist, she would not have let the Clintons get away with that.

SGT Ted said...

Steinams whine piece shows the worst of identity politics and a very immature attitude. There's nothing said about actual QUALIFICATIONS, except possession of a vagina being superior to being black. It's Hillarys! TURN, like we all wait in line for a chance at public office and , once we get close enough it's doled out like a welfare check or food stamps.

AllenS said...

Yesterday--

"be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." -- Martin Luther King

Today--

"be judged by the shape of their genitals, but by the accomplishment of their husband." -- Gloria Stenem

Balfegor said...

"be judged by the shape of their genitals, but by the accomplishment of their husband." -- Gloria Stenem

Well, let's be fair. If Barack Obama were white and had a name like Swithin Lardwell III, it's not like he'd be anywhere in striking distance of the most powerful office on Earth. It's only because he's half African that he has got national attention in the first place. Between Obama and Clinton II, at least Clinton II has an argument she can make to claim she is prepared. Obama has nothing but words and hot air to offer.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I found this piece rather offensive.

But I found K-Lo's reply to it over at National Review to be most amusing: "The Black Man Keeps HILLARY CLINTON Down"

The comments to the Steinem article on the NY Times website are interesting. Many young women think her piece is hokey bs.

Oprah's endorsement of Obama makes Steinem's argument appear, well, racist. Isn't Oprah a woman, too?

AllenS said...

I have a dream...

The year was 1963 and Gloria Steinem was employed as a Playboy Bunny at New York's Playboy Club and serving me a martini.

TMink said...

"no masculinity to prove"

Wow, what a sexist pig statement. Because we all know that all men make bad, aggressive choices in order to "prove our masculinity?"

Seems to me by the same standard none of the male candidates have a period that could lead to WWIII. Not that Hillary! is pre-menopausal or anything.

That is another piggish statement. Why is one acceptable and the other not? Isn't it because people like Steinem have become gender baiters?

Trey

SteveR said...

An unprecedented eight years of on-the-job training in the White House?

Sigh

I can only assume (yeah I know *assume*) that they have tested enough people and found that assertion passes the smell test even though there is no evidence other than the address on her 1040 for eight yesr.

But I repeat myself.

Roger said...

My take: the generation gap is far more evident in the feminist movement than it is anywhere else. Feminists on this blog will, I am sure, enlighten me one way or the other.

Middle Class Guy said...

Gloria Steinem is like Jesse Jackson, an over the hill Sixties activist in search of relevance. No one pays any attention to them any more, except sympathetic editors who print their opinions.

Some people have to realize that we have moved on and are continuing to move on. We cannot be stuck in the Sixties forever.

Middle Class Guy said...

An unprecedented eight years of on-the-job training in the White House?


I guess Hillary is the Democratic Geisha. Trained in tea ceremonies and entertainment.

Michael_H said...

Note to Gloria Steinem:

Iron my shirt.

Thank you, thank you verry much.

Bissage said...

Hillary possesses the courage to break the no-tears rule?

Wow.

Even Gloria Steinem thinks it was an intentional act.

Such courage!

Mortimer Brezny said...

You know, I would like to see more young women involved in politics. But I have a feeling that women like Gloria Steinem keep them out.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Putting aside the ethnic issues.... the reason that Obama is doing so well is that the alternatives (Clinton and Edwards) are even worse.

If the Democrats were to run a more viable, experienced, personable...LESS SLEAZY candidate than the other two, Obama would not be in the top tier.

As to the "race" issue. I chalk it all up to policially indoctrinated white guilt and other ethnic voters who will vote for him solely on the basis of what is on the outside of his skeleton instead of the contents of his brain and character.

It doesn't matter to me since I've decided that if Huckabee is the candidate I will not be voting. I will however (and have been) moving my clients portfolios to defensive positions in expectation of the coming economic melt down when either of these clueless dweebs get control of our lives.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Says Gloria: "What worries me is that some women, perhaps especially younger ones, hope to deny or escape the sexual caste system; thus Iowa women over 50 and 60, who disproportionately supported Senator Clinton, proved once again that women are the one group that grows more radical with age."

Being a woman in that age range, I can say with credentials...Oh Baloney. Women like Gloria have made it just more difficult for the rest of us (women) who have to deal with the real world. The world where men and women are different....physically, emotionally and yes as Larry Summer speculated mentally. So effing what. Not all women are equal either. Militant feminism has been more of a hindrance to me in getting where I am career-wise than anything else.

True, the efforts of the women of my advanced age :-) and generation have leveled the playing field somewhat and have lowered the barriers for the rest of women. However, just because young women don't see the world as a struggle between the sexes, as dinosaurs like Gloria does, doesn't mean that they are living in a state of denial. I rather think it is the Gloria's of the world that are living in a state of denial. The rest of us are dealing with day to day realities.

TMink said...

DBQ wrote: "True, the efforts of the women of my advanced age :-) and generation have leveled the playing field somewhat and have lowered the barriers for the rest of women."

I bet some men helped out in that endeavor too! Otherwise, I agree with your post.

Trey

Palladian said...

"ADDED: Andrew Sullivan: "Clinton is comfortable aroound this kind of victimology. Obama transcends it."

Oh, that's f**king rich, coming from Andy, the screaming queen of "victimology" herself.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Absolutely, Trey. Men and women together change society.

Sane women, have never looked upon men as the enemy to be subjugated. Men and women need each other in sociey and as persons to be balanced and whole. Ying/Yang

This is one of the main reasons for the insane culture in the middle east: their denial of and the suppression of one half of society.

former law student said...

What Steinam is essentially advocating is a Third World style of government where we elect the weeping widow/daughter to her husband's office, like Indira Gandhi or Benazir Bhutto. W.'s term in office shows that nepotism doesn't work; that we are better served by a meritocracy than a rich man's son anointed by the rich man's peers. But it would have been interesting to have elected Jacqueline Bouvier to replace JFK.

sgt. ted is quite right about the Demo belief of "It's Hillarys! TURN" That's exactly what motivated the nomination of an amorphous blob like Al Gore, who, like Hillary, had done little besides vote in the Senate, and kept a chair warm in the White House for eight years.

Crimso said...

"we are better served by a meritocracy"

I'll take a governor over a first term Senator any day. Apparently, if history is any guide, so will the average American.

titusrep said...

That was the first I heard in her editorial that Ted Kennedy is supporting Hilary.

PatCA said...

Wow, Gloria Steinem is still alive?

former law student said...

Wow, Gloria Steinem is still alive?

She's a fishnet-wearing cocktail waitress in a lounge in Sun City, Ariz. No matter how old you get, the legs are the last things to go.

Sean Wisnieski said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JackDRipper said...

Sean Wisnieski said...Simply put, the feminist grievance theater has been nowhere near as effective as the racial one.

See the O.J. Simpson trial for that one. The black females on the jury and in the general society sent their White sisters a clear message on that one. Followed closely by the movie "Waiting to Exhale".

Mortimer Brezny said...Oprah's endorsement of Obama makes Steinem's argument appear, well, racist. Isn't Oprah a woman, too?

Oprah's endorsement of Obama was clearly racist. Again the black female supports the "brother" over the dreaded White woman (ever the threat to steal her man in the imagination of the black female) for reasons of race, i.e. racism.

Steinem supports Hilary because of her sex, i.e. sexism.

But of course this is the "good" kind of racism and sexism. Not the oppressive White male heterosexual kind.

Balfegor said...Well, let's be fair. If Barack Obama were white and had a name like Swithin Lardwell III, it's not like he'd be anywhere in striking distance of the most powerful office on Earth.

Swithin Lardwell III, yes. Or Percival Sweatwater IV, Worthington Smithers II, Elderberry Kensington VII, Whipperwill Thorn III....this is kinda fun.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Be honest: Do you think this is the biography of someone who could be elected to the United States Senate?

Uh, yes!

She's hinging her argument on the proposition that serving in a state senate is inadequate preparation for serving in the U.S. Senate? State senate to U.S. Senate sounds like the most boringly appropriate career transition in the world.

And Gloria Steinem's position is that being "a state legislator for eight years" isn't good enough experience for a U.S. senator, but eight years of being a president's wife is good enough experience to be the president? Why would anyone be convinced by that?

Mortimer Brezny said...

Steinem supports Hilary because of her sex, i.e. sexism.

That isn't really true. Steinem thinks the interests of educated, uppermiddle class white American women are the interests of all women. That's the point. She can't help but be racist, because she doesn't really acknowledge black women as women.

Mortimer Brezny said...

State senate to U.S. Senate sounds like the most boringly appropriate career transition in the world.

Hahaha. I think he also had 13 years, not 8. She lied about his actual state legislative experience.

Mortimer Brezny said...

the dreaded White woman

White people cannot have dreads, only twists. Dreads are a religious hairstyle in a religion that forbids white adherents.

I still find this joke funny.

Kirk Parker said...

DBQ,

"If the Democrats were to run..."

Umm, at this point pre-convention, are the Democrats doing anything? I thought all the candidates were more or less self-selected, until one of them gets the nomination.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trooper York said...

That would be really cool if he dressed as a woman. Sort of like Geraldine. Flip Wilson's Geraldine, not John Zaccaro's Geraldine. Than Gloria would have been proven right when she said "Geraldine will be our first woman President

cokaygne said...

Early on, I supported Hillary because she seemed to have sound instincts. The past couple of weeks have been an eye-opener. There were the sleazy surrogate attacks on Obama, trotting out Bill to tell you how wonderful his wife is (but not young enough and apparently unwilling to give head), then the tears because people refused to annoint her for the good of the country, then the probably staged "iron my shirts" incident. the Steinem piece is over the top. If anyone in the Clinton camp knew this was going to appear (I think they did) they should have stopped her. This is going to kill Hillary in states, like SC, where African-Americans are a big part of the Democratic party. What a pathetic bunch the Clintons are. The only consolation for Hillary is that she can finally dump Bill when this is over - which may be tonight.

JackDRipper said...

Mortimer Brezny said...Steinem thinks the interests of educated, uppermiddle class white American women are the interests of all women. That's the point. She can't help but be racist, because she doesn't really acknowledge black women as women.

Maybe she can't acknowledge black women's racism especially toward White women, or at least their racial animosity.

Considering her best friend is black radical writer bell hooks and that Ms magazine has always had prominent black female voices I don't think your opinion of her is correct.

She does have a class bias but that is mostly toward other White women. No doubt the White feminist contempt for Paula Jones was partly a question of class. Jones was not one of them, a White southern girl not from a good college and politically uninvolved. Plus they liked Clinton.

If Paula Jones had been a black female harassed by a White Republican no doubt the Gloria Steinems of the world would have viewed it differently.

So she can understand black women just fine when it comes to their perceived victimization in a so called "racist, sexist, homophobic" capitalist society. She just has a problem understanding that for black women race trumps gender and Obama is one of "their" people whereas Hilary is a White woman and therefore the "Other".

Mortimer Brezny said...

Considering her best friend is black radical writer bell hooks and that Ms magazine has always had prominent black female voices I don't think your opinion of her is correct.

Bell Hooks is an idiot who is less representative of black women than Oprah. The "prominent" black female voices in Ms are "tokens".

She just has a problem understanding that for black women race trumps gender and Obama is one of "their" people whereas Hilary is a White woman and therefore the "Other".

That obviously isn't true. Black women initially favored Hillary and love the Clintons. You seem on a mission to reduce Obama to his race. But race obviously isn't why people are voting for him. Wake up!

former law student said...

jackdripper touches on a good point much chewed over in the feminist blogosphere: much as they accuse men of not understanding how good they have it ("male privilege"), feminists "of color" point out that white feminists, including Steinem) don't understand how good they have it (white privilege). For example, there is a minor b-sphere uproar over Jessica Valenti's book, which is all about white women, till the very last chapter, into which all women of color are tossed (which is really odd, when, for example, contemporaries of the white suffragettes are discussed). Further, when this book is used as a gender studies textbook (for realz), the professors usually run out of time before they get to non-white women's issues. Notably, even the Amanda Marcottes of the feminist b'sphere don't realize to what extent they're privileged.

To sum up, as jackdripper points out, for white feminists the overriding issue is gender; for women of color the overriding issue is race. And white feminists just don't get it.

JackDRipper said...

Mortimer Brezny said...Bell Hooks is an idiot who is less representative of black women than Oprah. The "prominent" black female voices in Ms are "tokens".

I agree bell hooks (small case please) is an idiot but she is still a black woman raised in the black community who makes race the central issue of her writings. Gloria Steinem is well aware of that.

Marcia Ann Gillespie has served as Editor in Chief of Ms since 1993 and was a contributing editor since 1980. Hardly a "token" black female.

Black women initially favored Hillary and love the Clintons.

When her most prominent mentioned competition were White men.

That was before Jesus 2.0/Sidney Poitier/Harry Belafonte/MLK/Billy Dee Williams showed up with the bouquet of flowers.

TMink said...

I do not agree that Oprah supporting Obama is racist. I think it will be good for the nation when a person of color is president. I will be proud of us.

Not that I think Obama is the right person for the job, I was thinking more along the lines of Dr. C. Rice.

Trey

MarkW said...

Well, let's be fair. If Barack Obama were white and had a name like Swithin Lardwell III, it's not like he'd be anywhere in striking distance of the most powerful office on Earth. It's only because he's half African that he has got national attention in the first place.

Yes, let's be fair -- are Obama's experience and qualifications really inferior to Edwards's? And Obama is clearly a better, more appealing speaker than Edwards and has a message with broader appeal. I'd say that if there were a white Democrat with Obama's personality, skills, and experience, he might well be in the same position.

Revenant said...

Steinem's remark about Hillary's "unprecedented eight years of on-the-job training in the White House" is not just anti-feminist -- it is also completely false. There have been five Presidential candidates who had eight years of White House experience: Al Gore, George H.W. Bush, Richard Nixon, Franklin Roosevelt, and John Adams. One of them (FDR) had actually BEEN President for eight years or more when running in '42 and '44.

Balfegor said...

Yes, let's be fair -- are Obama's experience and qualifications really inferior to Edwards's?

Yes.

Edwards has had a longer career in the Senate and has, at the least, fought a national campaign (the 2004 election). Like Clinton, he has also been a significant participant in the national debate for rather longer than Obama has.

I think it's pretty shocking that he's up there in the top tier, to tell the truth, but in terms of the usual qualifications he does have more than Obama. At the very least, as a former Vice Presidential candidate (like Lieberman in 2004), he naturally falls within the pool of people you would expect to be presidential candidates.

rishigajria said...

George Carlin always joked that feminists took themselves too seriously.
When Bill Maher asked Gloria Steinem about the democrats Iraq vote, she replied that it was because of the legal advice they received.
I think that one statement proved to me that Ms. Steinem is the establishment.

JackDRipper said...

TMink said...I do not agree that Oprah supporting Obama is racist. I think it will be good for the nation when a person of color is president. I will be proud of us.

Oprah's support for Obama is racist and so is yours by definition. Although in your case as a White male White "autoracism" plays a role as well. White people looking to get over there racial shame by finding a Great Black Hope to be proud of should be ashamed of themselves.

There is no such thing as a person of color obviously but if you need a "non-White" candidate to make you proud you have Bill Richardson and his resume to vote for. He's not black enough so he can't play that special role in America but he if the most qualified Democrat candidate and deserves more consideration. Despite his English name he is predominantly Mexican-American.

Not that I think Obama is the right person for the job, I was thinking more along the lines of Dr. C. Rice.

The Reverend Condi Rice Jr was arguably the worst National Security adviser ever, a nothing Sec. of State who got her job because the insecure mommy's boy George Bush likes to surround himself with non-threatening yes women. Your support for Rice is not rational, it's simply based on race and the role of the black in the White American imagination as a Magical Negro come to bring hope, joy, happiness and salvation from sin.

MarkW said...Yes, let's be fair -- are Obama's experience and qualifications really inferior to Edwards's?

But they are no better yet Edwards is not being held up as The Redeemer come to save (White) America of it's Original Sin.

Neither Edwards or Obama are qualified candidates. Romney is. So vote for Romney and get on with it.

TMink said...

JackD, it reads to me like you are hitting me with the race card! When Black Americans succeed, America succeeds. When Hispanic Americans succeed, well you get where this is going.

Slavery and Jim Crow hurt America, it hurt all of us. And success helps America. As for dealing with my racial guilt, I did that 27 years ago being the only white guy in several higher level African America studies classes, so I do not need to feel good about the success of Black American as a way of feeling less guilty.

"There is no such thing as a person of color . . ." now you are just being silly with semantics rather than making a point.

I am familiar with Bill Richardson, and his ethnic background, and I would take some satifaction if he won, but I won't vote for him, I am a conservative, and Mr. Richardson is not!

"Your support for Rice is not rational, it's simply based on race and the role of the black in the White American imagination as a Magical Negro come to bring hope, joy, happiness and salvation from sin."

Sorry about the long quote, but it is fun to see you critique my "lack of rationality" and then go on about a "Magic Negro."

Dude, you wrote a lot about me without knowing me at all! That is not persuasive to me or anyone who has been around longer than you and read my posts over the last couple of years.

Trey - The Magic Christian (appologies to Terry Southern)

Revenant said...

Slavery and Jim Crow hurt America, it hurt all of us.

Speak for yourself. I wasn't alive at the time, and those of my relations who were weren't living in Jim Crow states.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I agree bell hooks (small case please) is an idiot but she is still a black woman raised in the black community who makes race the central issue of her writings. Gloria Steinem is well aware of that.

That is part of what makes Hooks a token.

TMink said...

Rev, take a big picture approach here. Jim Crow damaged the people it repressed and abused, that is obvious. But think about the economic impact of millions of under-employed, uneducated, and emotionally damaged people it created. These folks were not contributing to society like they could because of the discrimination and the resulting problems it caused. How would science be different if there were thousands of black scientists in the bad old days of civil rights? Think of all the missed and wasted opportunities!

I can recall Jim Crow, just barely. I was four and visiting the Louisiana capital in 1964. There was a peculiar sign over the grey water fountain that said WHITE. I remember looking at my parents and saying "But it is grey" in confusion.

I also remember mild race riots in Chattanooga in 1972 as the schools desegregated. Bad stuff. And the impact, when looked at from a bigger perspective, was national and caused problems considerably after the repeal of those non-Constitutional laws and hateful attitudes.

Trey

BlackLavander said...

I really enjoyed reading everyone's opinion about the candidates and their relationship for feminism. However, I wanted to give a different perspective one of a black female. It has been very difficult for me to watch how Barack Obama receives so much national attention. There has been great black females, like Carol Mosley Braun or Barbara Jordon who were very capable of being presidential nominees. Yet, they were overlooked and accused of being unqualified. During the civil rights movements, black women were confined to the office jobs and rarely did they get the opportunity to hold leadership positions. Personally, I am tired of black women being served the scraps let over from the table that black men eat from. I've been accused of being a traitor to my race and unraveling the black community. I'm tired of rallying around the black community for the black man's cause. Barack has reached out for help from rappers who use verbally offensive language about black women. Hey, black women are disposable, so he can get away with the endorsement.

BlackLavander said...

I really enjoyed reading everyone's opinion about the candidates and their relationship for feminism. However, I wanted to give a different perspective one of a black female. It has been very difficult for me to watch how Barack Obama receives so much national attention. There has been great black females, like Carol Mosley Braun or Barbara Jordon who were very capable of being presidential nominees. Yet, they were overlooked and accused of being unqualified. During the civil rights movements, black women were confined to the office jobs and rarely did they get the opportunity to hold leadership positions. Personally, I am tired of black women being served the scraps let over from the table that black men eat from. I've been accused of being a traitor to my race and unraveling the black community. I'm tired of rallying around the black community for the black man's cause. Barack has reached out for help from rappers who use verbally offensive language about black women. Hey, black women are disposable, so he can get away with the endorsement.

Elizabeth said...

Why are votes not going specifically to a skin color and/or sex? One day hopefully we'll have presidents of all races/sexes/religions/creeds but right now we should celebrate having the candidates that we do (who are both qualified and will do a great job in my humble opinion.)

www.obamaisthenewblack.com

LiberalDem said...

What Steinem stated is all true, if you don't believe it, well you are all in denial. If Obama was a black woman he would not be enjoying all the hype. Obama has been senator only 4 years! He even said in 2006, when asked about a 2008 preseidential bid, that he didn't have the experience and that he believed "In knowing what you're doing."