Sunday, June 29, 2008

Does AB Owe That Woman An Apology?

Real Talk.

As a person born with male genitalia, I don't pretend to understand the nuances of sexism in America. Much like those born with white privilege who think racism is a figment of the imagination, being a man often means being completely oblivious to the sorts of things women encounter on the daily this male dominated world.

As I've watched the aftermath of the Democratic nomination fade into the rearview mirror, it's puzzled me that the same question of whether or not That Woman's supporters will fall behind Obama, choose McCain, or not vote at all, persists. Recent polls show Barry with a sizable advantage among women overall, which would seem to indicate that quite a few women have "gotten over it" already.

But of course, there are many who haven't. The venom spewed by some of That Woman's supporters has been downright scary. Who could forget the infamous Harriet Christian outburst? There are still many women's coalitions that are actively planning to boycott at the Democratic National Convention in August. Many pro-That Woman blogs have switched allegiance squarely to McCain.

The Washington Post recently explored the dynamic of female voters who can't get over their recent loss.

While Clinton and Obama are scheduled to campaign together today in the symbolic New Hampshire town of Unity, many in this loose confederation of nonconformists have embraced a mantra that runs counter to the notion of reconciliation: "Party Unity My Ass." They have taken to calling themselves "Pumas" and have adopted as their logo -- on T-shirts and Facebook pages -- the portrait of a snarling cougar. Though not all have the same specific grievances or agree on a course of protest, they are linked by their dissatisfaction with the primary process and its result, and are unpersuaded by the gestures of heroine Hillary.

Several groups are planning marches in Denver, the site of this summer's Democratic National Convention. Others are organizing a Clinton write-in campaign or have switched to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), creating sites to promote his candidacy. Some have more targeted interests, such as establishing an ongoing critique of misogyny in the media, pressing for changes in Democratic National Committee rules on delegate selection, even the ouster of national party chairman Howard Dean. "Howard Dean is running this party like it is a Soviet-style dictatorship," fumed Faith Chatham, a Clinton delegate to the Texas Democratic convention.

In Texas, where the complaints about party leadership have been persistent and noisy, some Clinton stalwarts are trying to mount challenges to the Democratic caucus results. "It ain't over," said Harriet Irby, a longtime Democratic precinct chairwoman in Tarrant County, claiming there were many irregularities and insisting that she will sit out the presidential election if Obama is the nominee, and vote only for down-ballot Democrats this fall.
For the life of me, I haven't been able to fathom why these women don't look at $5/gallon gas, a war killing their sons, the cost of health care, etc., and "just get over it".

After watching this video, though, I think I'm beginning to understand.

I'll freely admit that I watched quite a few of those news shows, and heard quite a few of those comments broadcast in real time. Seldom, if ever, did it occur to me that what was being said might be painfully offensive to many women, just as watching Fox News desecrate the Black church and insult Black America repeatedly has been painful to me.

But watching the montage of sexist remark after sexist remark gives me some small window into how hard it might be for many of That Woman's supporters to "just get over it". If the shoe were on the other foot, I would likely feel the same.[1] I sorta, kinda get it now.

The big problem here is that That Woman's supporters are taking their anger out on Obama, not the culprits themselves (the media). Obama endured months of racially tinged insults that came directly from That Woman, her husband, and many of their direct surrogates. It's all quite thoroughly documented.

The most you could say in inverse is that Obama was off base with that "you're plenty likable Hillary" comment, but that's (in my sexist opinion) peanuts compared to being called a secret Muslim who only benefited from affirmative action, and may be killed at any moment.

Why then, are these women taking their aggression out on a Presidential candidate who shares virtually all the same positions as their fallen candidate of choice, when this candidate hardly did anything personally to offend them? I can't really say, but I'm guessing it's simply easier to take your frustrations out on an inadequate black male than to fight the institutional media bias itself.

Then again, maybe it's just momentary sour grapes.

So, while I think the anger and disillusionment of That Woman's supporters is completely misguided, I do on some abstract testosterone-laiden level understand it a bit better now.

And since I'm trying to turn a page and be more sensitive to "the other half", I guess it's time to bury a hatchet of my own.

She's no longer That Woman. She's back to being Hillary Rodham Clinton again.

Question: Even if their anger is misguided, do you understand or sympathize with Hillary Clinton's supporters? Do you think sexism was as rampant as racism in this year's race for the Democratic nomination?

Hill, Yes! O., No! [Washington Post]

[1] The shoe's not on the other foot (Obama won), but I still do feel the same (that the media and the Clintons treated him like crap), so I hope I didn't undermine my own point.

Bonus: Harriet Christian - Civil Rights Advocate/ Menthol Cigarette Smoker

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