the politics of the last few months have certainly opened a spigot on the question of where exactly society stands on gender matters. Weren’t we in what some people have long called a postfeminist era, when we thought the big battles were over, or at least that the combatants had reached some accommodation?
The NYTimes Week in Review has an interesting piece on politics and postfeminism running; well worth reading. Some choice clips:
In an essay she wrote last fall for the new book “30 Ways of Looking at Hillary: Reflections by Women Writers,” the Nation columnist Katha Pollitt declared that the “sulfurous emanations” about Mrs. Clinton made her want to write a check to her campaign, knock on doors, vote for her twice ”” even though she’d probably choose another candidate on policy grounds. “The hysterical insults flung at Hillary Clinton are just a franker, crazier version of the everyday insults ”” shrill, strident, angry, ranting, unattractive ”” that are flung at any vaguely liberal mildly feminist woman who shows a bit of spirit and independence,” she wrote, “who puts herself out in the public realm, who doesn’t fumble and look up coyly from underneath her hair and give her declarative sentences the cadence of a question.”
Chelsea herself apparently appended a note saying that while she did not agree entirely with Ms. Morgan’s point, she was starting to understand what older women were complaining about. “I confess that I did not entirely ‘get it’ until not only guys stood up and shouted, ‘iron my shirts’ but the media reacted with amusement, not outrage,” the note attributed to Ms. Clinton said.
Seriously – people are shouting Hilary Clinton should get back to the kitchen and iron clothes, rather than run for president? And people aren’t outraged by this?!
A contest between a woman and an African-American raises the inevitable question about whether it is harder to overcome racial bias than gender bias. Few claim to know the answer, and many argue it’s too hard to tease out the ways each plays a role. But some also argue that the media is not as quick to recognize misogyny as it is to recognize racism. “The media is on eggshells about race, but has blinders on about sex and gender stereotyping,” said Ms. Goldberg of Columbia.
Kate Michelman, a former president of Naral Pro-Choice America, who is an adviser to Mr. Obama, said in an interview that “racism has risen to a level of social consciousness that sexism has not.”
Of course, it was comedy that crystallized the moment. “Saturday Night Live” mocked reporters falling faint over Mr. Obama (Sample debate question: “Are you mad at me?”) and cutting off Mrs. Clinton for being that irritating bore talking about health care again. Meanwhile, on “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central last week, Samantha Bee played the role of the philandering wife, standing behind a podium contritely acknowledging her offense while her husband stood behind her with the downcast eyes so familiar from Silda Wall Spitzer and the political wives who had come before. It was, of course, preposterous ”” and not just because Ms. Bee’s husband was wearing pearls.