Now, here's a NYT article the observation that the White House has a boy's club atmosphere:
Does the White House feel like a frat house?
The suspicion flared in recent weeks — and not for the first time — after President Obama was criticized by women’s advocates and liberal bloggers for hosting a high-level basketball game with no female players.
The president, after all, is an unabashed First Guy’s Guy....
He presides over a White House rife with fist-bumping young men who call each other “dude” and testosterone-brimming personalities like Rahm Emanuel, the often-profane chief of staff; Lawrence Summers, the brash economic adviser; and Robert Gibbs, the press secretary, who habitually speaks in sports metaphors....Wow. Incredible. If there is any serious feminism left in this country — by which I mean the kind of feminism we had back before the Clinton presidency — it would ream a man who sought credit for inclusiveness toward women by referring to the fact that he had a wife and daughters in his household.
Mr. Obama, in an interview with NBC on Wednesday, called the beef over basketball “bunk”... “I don’t think it sends any kind of message or signal whatsoever,” said the president, who often points out that he is surrounded by strong females at home (where he is the only non-canine male).
[Senior adviser Valerie] Jarrett similarly rejected the notion that the West Wing had been overrun by Y chromosomes, saying such complaints were “a Washington perception that has nothing to do with the reality on the ground.”The evidence?
She cites the prominent women Mr. Obama has appointed to top positions, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton...Where has she been?
... and six other cabinet-level officials; Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor...She's over there in chambers, and nowhere near the Prez.
... the health care czar, Nancy-Ann DeParle...Why don't we say "czarina"? We've got these new positions and the title you get is male-specific. It's as if were were calling the Secretary of State "Mr. Secretary."
... and the domestic policy adviser, Melody Barnes. According to figures provided by the administration, there is a 50-50 gender split among White House employees.Which makes it all the more striking that the atmosphere reads as so male:
[S]ome high-profile sectors of the White House — economics and national security, for instance — are filled with men and exude an unmistakable male vibe. Mr. Obama’s inner circle includes Mr. Gibbs, Mr. Emanuel and his senior adviser, David Axelrod (“The Boys,” as they are known to some female staff members).Did they share the recipes?
Women in important White House jobs tend to be less visible than their colleagues, even as the administration is trying to elevate their profiles. (In the same week as the basketball game, Anita Dunn, the White House communications director, hosted a group of women reporters for an off-the-record meeting with Ms. Jarrett over chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies.)
There is so much reason to try to create the impression that women are important that the truth of the exclusion of women must be even worse than it appears.
One Democratic media strategist says that while Mr. Obama does place women in important roles, his comfort level with staff members is not always perceived as equal.This is exactly the problem feminists used to focus on.
“There is a sense that Obama has a certain jocular familiarity with the men that he doesn’t have with the women,” said Tracy Sefl, an adviser to Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign who speaks regularly to some female aides in the administration.
Good for Sefl, going public like that and getting named. I would love to eavesdrop on conversations between Sefl and Hillary.
In interviews, five women who work in the White House or advised officials there described the culture with more of a collective eye-roll than any real sense of grievance or discomfort.Well, what the hell happened to real sense? When did feminism lose its critical edge? (Answer: During the Clinton administration.)
One junior aide, who like the other women spoke on the condition of anonymity because of concerns about appearing publicly critical, said that the “sports-fan thing at the White House” could become “annoying” and that her relative indifference to athletics could be mildly alienating.Annoying... mildly alienating.... The spirit of feminism is so diminished these days that women think of their own observations as insignificant and scarcely worth making any fuss about. Compare this to the times of vivid, vital feminism that followed a methodology of elevating and intensifying the importance of these seemingly small observations. Once there was conscience raising. The new methodology of dying feminism deserves to be called consciousness lowering.
And while this is not uncommon in any workplace, sports bonding can afford a point of entree with the boss.Oh, good lord. That this needs to be pointed out again — modestly suggested — shows how far we have sunk. There was once biting criticism of the sexism inherent in workplace sports bonding.
Ben Finkenbinder, a junior press aide and scratch golfer, was recently invited into a foursome with Mr. Obama. (In records kept by Mark Knoller of CBS, the president has played 23 rounds of golf since taking office, none of which have included women, though Mr. Knoller allows that the press office does not always release the names of every player. A White House spokesman, Bill Burton, said Friday that Mr. Obama planned to play this weekend with Ms. Barnes.)Ha. This NYT — NYT — article was already in the works when the White House scrambled to produce a female golfer.
[Some] women in the administration say that any discussion of White House culture should account for how politics has long been dominated by men but is now more inclusive. Ms. Dunn... rejects the notion of a boys’ club. She calls the Obama administration “refreshingly un-self-conscious” about matters of equality, maybe to a point where they neglected the “optics” of the all-male basketball game.Oh?! So maybe it's a little like the post-racial America we were supposed to get — but didn't get — after Obama was elected. It's the post-gender America. No one needs to notice who's male and who's female anymore. So the inner circle is all male? You're not supposed to even see it!
Ms. Dunn said that she recently hosted a baby shower for an administration official and that no men from the office were invited. She is comfortable with that — just as she is fine with never playing basketball with the president.Consciousness lowering — it's so refreshing.
“That is just part of the culture here that I am excluded from,” she said. “And I don’t care.”
Now, if everyone would please dial down all the criticism and let Obama get on with his un-self-conscious guy's guy agenda, it will all work out just fine.
Don't worry your pretty little head.