2008 More on Clinton’s Gender Politics
posted by November 5 at 9:25 AMon
Good Monday morning. I’ve still been unsuccessful in my efforts to grow a vagina, but while I try to meet that very high bar for being allowed to comment on Hillary Clinton and gender, I’ve noticed that a lot people (with vaginas and without) were busy over the weekend dissecting Hillary Clinton’s use of gender in her campaign. And, shockingly, a lot of them said things similar to what I said in that post that caused the vagina challenge to be thrown down on Friday.
Here’s Maureen Dowd on Clinton’s “Gift of Gall”, writing sarcastically:
Girlfriend had a rough week.
First Hillary got brushed back by the boys in the debate. Then some women bemoaned Hillaryland’s “Don’t hit me, I’m a girl” strategy…
She should certainly be allowed to play the gender card two ways, or even triangulate it. As her campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, said after the debate, she is “one strong woman,” who has dwarfed male rivals and shown she’s tough enough to deal with terrorism and play on the world stage. But she can break, just like a little girl, when male chauvinists are rude enough to catch her red-handed being slippery and opportunistic.
Here’s Ben Smith and David Paul Kuhn at The Politico, exploring the various reactions to the Clinton campaign’s use of gender:
The debate is still churning in feminist circles, where some women’s activists said she had every right to invoke sexism and gender stereotypes as a defense on the campaign trail — and predicted that this tactic will prove effective against fellow Democrats and against a Republican, if she is the general election nominee.
“It goes beyond logic — it’s a gut response,” Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, said of the spectacle of Clinton onstage confronting seven male rivals and two male moderators at a debate in Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
Smeal, who has endorsed Clinton, compared the debate scene to the congressional grilling of Anita Hill when she challenged Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court nomination in 1991.
“Every woman — it was just so visceral — that panel was all male,” Smeal recalled. “It didn’t matter almost what was being said. It [was] a visceral gut reaction, and I think that’s what you’re seeing here again.”
Here’s Adam Nagourney and Patrick Healy in this morning’s New York Times with a political memo that asks, “Different Rules When a Rival is a Woman?”:
Mrs. Clinton’s opponents, and some prominent women, countered that Mrs. Clinton was resorting to using her sex as a shield against substantive criticism in a hard-fought race.
“It’s outrageous to suggest that it’s sexist for the other candidates to ask her tough questions or criticize her,” said Kate Michelman, a women’s leader and a supporter of Mr. Edwards. “To call it sexist is to play the gender card. Any claim of sexism is just a distraction from the fact that she did not do well in the debate, that she did not answer important questions on Iraq and Iran.”
And here’s the great Ruth Marcus column that kicked a lot of this off on Friday.
Please. The Philadelphia debate was not exactly a mob moment to trigger the Violence Against Women Act; if anything, this has been an overly (pardon the phrase) gentlemanly campaign to date. Those other guys were beating up on Clinton, if you can call that beating up, because she is the strong front-runner, not because she is a weak woman.
And a candidate as strong as Clinton doesn’t need to play the woman-as-victim card, not even in “the all-boys club of presidential politics,” as Clinton called it in a speech yesterday at her all-women alma mater, Wellesley College. I have a pretty good nose for sexism, and what I detected in the air from Philadelphia was not sexism but the desperation of candidates confronting a front-runner who happens to be a woman.