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Saturday, 21 June 2008


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I'm mostly a lurker on here, but your remark that Obama has really touched something that we need right now rang very true. I am a woman, a Ph. D. , and a feminist. There's nothing I would like better than to see a woman in the oval office. I agree that sexism continues to be a major problem. But I did not vote for Hilary Clinton; I voted for Barack Obama. Why?

I believe my country is broken. There is no incentive for our politicians to look any further than the next election cycle, and as a result we are now left with the legacies of that short-sightedntss: a crippling national debt, no plan for addressing our long-term energy needs, and a laughable environmental policy. I won't even go into the damage done to our civil liberties and human rights by the current administration. Most politicians are so caught up in partisanship, grandstanding, and keeping their approval rating and positions in the polls as high as possible that they can't or won't make any real effort to change any of these things.

I hope Obama is different. He seems like he might be. Who knows what he may be like as president, if elected. But I'm certain both John McCain and Hiliary Clinton would provide more of the same if elected president. That's what I voted for when I picked Obama over Clinton- the hope that this time, we might elect someone with the farsightedness to make compromises, to make unpopular decisions, to possibly damage his standing in the polls because it's necessary in order to begin to solve our terrifying problems as a nation. I didn't vote for the black man over the white woman or the white man- I voted for the person who I fervently hope represents our best chance for real change. Maybe he won't turn out to be that man in the end, but for the sake of my children and the future of my country, I hope we get the chance to find out.

Sorry to hijack your comments.


I do agree that misogyny played a factor in Clinton's candidacy, and certainly the sexism against her was more overt than the racism against Obama (which did exist and did play a major role in the campaign, just not as blatantly).

I also agree that we have a long way to go to establish anything approaching gender equity in the halls of power, and that we should work toward that, hard. But I respectfully disagree that feminism means picking the woman because she's a woman. Consider what could be a real possibility in the next decade or two: a progressive/liberal male candidate for president versus a hardcore reactionary female. The male supports equal pay, family leave, and other woman-friendly policies (I would also count reproductive rights as central to that list, though I know many conservatives would not). The female candidate does not. Electing the woman candidate surely would represent a major symbolic step forward in terms of Americans seeing a woman as fit to lead the country. But it would also represent a giant step backward for the rights that millions of women need for their everyday lives.

Obviously the contrast between Obama and Clinton was nowhere near that stark (policy-wise, they are virtually identical). But like May, I believe that Obama represents a step forward for our country. Clinton does too, but in a different way.

marie baguette

Yes, I agree with you, some comments about Hillary were just awful (the recent "obama's baby mama" is just as disgraceful http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/6/13/02320/2993).
And the misogyny did play a part in her failure to secure the nomination. But I was a bit shocked by your post. Do you hire people for your team just because they happen to be women, regardless of their qualification? Would you accept to have the CEO of a big company being succeeded by his own wife? While I am not very much interested in politics and I don't vote (because I am still a French citizen even though I have lived in the US for 10 years), I agree with the other commenters. Obama was the better candidate and he ran a better campaign. In France too Segolene Royal had to fight rampant misogyny, even from her own party. But she lost because she was not as experienced as Sarkozy (Sarkozy too was elected because he was hoped to bring change to the country).


I think the Clinton Dynasty comments do have something to them. I agree that Clinton is a good politician, and has really built a commendable power base since becoming a senator, but I disagree that alllll of that was done simply on merit.

C'mon, Thalia... Bill Clinton, the former president of the United States, had no effect at all on his wife getting elected to the Senate? How many political offices had she held up to that point?


I'd like to address the dynasty issue too. I began the primary season planning to vote for HRC, even though I also greatly admired Obama. My biggest concern with HRC is that it appeared that she had surrounded herself almost solely with people who had played major roles in WJC's administration. From the beginning, I worred that these people were more concerned with simply reversing GWB's policies and reinstituting WJC's policies - sort of a political "we told you so" - rather than moving forward in a meaningful way. Then as her campaign began to show serious signs of poor judgement and "chip on shoulder" syndrome, my support for her candidacy wavered. In my mind, the most important impact of most presidents is in the people they appoint and those who are working behind the scenes in their administrations. Those are typically the same people who are heavily involved in running their campaigns. Again and again, I was impressed by Obama's campaign decisions and dismayed by Clinton's. And so eventually, I made a difficult decision to support Obama.

Another point I'd like to comment on is the racism vs. sexism issue. I think each played a major role in the primary. Racism is in some ways more dangerous when it is less blatantly displayed. I absolutely agree that misogyny was part of the reason HRC is not our candidate, but I actually think racism is a bigger problem in the U.S. today.


I just can't vote for a woman simply because she is a woman when I feel that there is someone who is a better candidate (in this case, someone who seems like he will change things more than she will). To me, this is the exact same thing as a man saying "I'm voting for the man because he's a man." There have been female heads-of-state in many countries, who have proven time and time again that a woman can be an effective leader. I don't feel the need to vote for one to run the U.S. simply to reiterate the point.

I feel that I make a stronger point, and thus make a bigger impression on those who might feel differently, if I can articulately talk about why I chose the candidate that I voted for, rather than just saying "I voted for Hillary because she's a woman and I want to see a woman in office." To say that demeans the whole point of feminism, which is that women should be treated as equals. If I'm speaking to a man who doesn't see women as equals and that's the only argument that I can make as to why I voted for a woman, the only thing he's going to think is something along the lines of "This is why I won't vote for a woman." If I show him that a woman can understand policies and make rational and educated decisions, perhaps I make him think a little more about his standpoint.

If she were the best candidate, I would have been proud to vote for a woman. As it is, I am proud to have voted for a black man and hope that my sons (and maybe daughters someday) will see this strong, black man as proof that it's not the outside of a person that's important. Both misogyny and racism are alive and well in the U.S., there's no doubt about it. The Democratic primaries happened to have two candidates who are helping dispel those beliefs. But only one could be the nominee.


I really appreciate your writing these two posts, T. I personally don't believe that your understanding of the issues in the US election or the tenets of feminism is underinformed or misinformed.

I wish I felt comfortable saying more, but based on the comments on both posts, I really don't. Except that I don't believe that you said anywhere in your post that it's your position that a woman candidate (whether for public office or for a job) should be supported even if UNqualified, and I think that it is unfair for people to misrepresent your words in that way.


I think I understand what you are saying about voting for the female candidate (or supporting females in whatever position they wish to attain) unless there is a clear lack of qualifications/skills/etc. on the part of the female. It's that we have been so immersed in the male "point of view" and judging people by male "standards" that there is a disadvantage for any woman when those are the standards by which we use to judge these women. And perhaps by putting women in more visible places of power and influence, that view can begin changing.

However, I am still uncomfortable with the idea of women voting for women just because of her gender without the kind of thought you and others have put into the situation. There were many reports of women voting for Hillary simply because they wanted to see a woman in the White House before they die and they saw this as their last chance. And that is something many voters do. Pick a single reason to support a candidate despite whatever else the candidate may be. I'm sure Obama's race was the sole reason why such a huge majority of African-Americans voted for him. Decisions such as these are too important to base them on a single aspect of that person.


I'm not a British citizen, and the analogy isn't perfect, but if given the choice, would you vote for Margaret Thatcher even if you totally disagreed with her policies? (and yes I understand that you don't vote for Prime Minister). My point is just that gender alone -- even if all policy issues/things are nearly equal, as they were with Clinton v. Obama -- isn't the deciding factor for many people.


I thought Obama was a better politician. Not that he would necessarily get the job done better, but he seemed to have a lot of "right" answers. But I agree with you that people discriminate without realising it, and some of that discrimination is still directed against women.



Yes, yes, and yes! I totally agree with you. You were able to articulate so many of my vague unsettled feelings about this nomination. I don't even know which one would make the better President, but I was discouraged that it played out in a very predictable way. Black men got the vote before women did...it's no surprise that we'd end up with a black male president before a woman president (if that indeed happens).

People like to think they view candidates objectively, but so much of our decision is made at a visceral level and is influenced by all kinds of things that have little to do with the job at hand. And...like you, I feel an obligation to support women whenever possible. I'm amazed at how people jumped on you for that. Men have been elected and promoted for years based on the advantage of their maleness and even the qualities we use to judge people as "qualified" arose in a male-dominated society. Qualified is a judgement, and I don't believe the "qualifications" we require for positions of power are objective or gender neutral.

So...if a woman is qualified, I will support her even if there is a "more" qualified male, because I am not entirely convinced that more qualified doesn't just mean "more male." And I won't believe "qualified" is a fair assessment until the balance of power, and who determined what qualified means, is more equal.


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