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Feminism Is Stronger Than One Election

From: Courtney E. Martin To: Tedra Osell; Wendy Shanker The smoke has cleared on Junior Super Tuesday (sounds like some kind of Happy Meal combo) and Hillary is standing proud and tall in her bright red suit, while Obama seems … Read More

By / March 25, 2008

From: Courtney E. Martin

To: Tedra Osell; Wendy Shanker

The smoke has cleared on Junior Super Tuesday (sounds like some kind of Happy Meal combo) and Hillary is standing proud and tall in her bright red suit, while Obama seems to be turning in McCain’s direction, steeling himself for the fight ahead (despite the fact that Hillary really is still in it to win it).

I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, I feel genuinely happy for Hill. It made me sad to think that such an accomplished, powerful woman would get bulldozed out of the race; twelve primary losses in a row had to sting. On the other hand, I’m getting pretty irritated by these primaries and impatient to put our eyes on the prize and make sure McCain and his eerily empty-eyed wife don’t move into the White House next.

Part of my irritation is fueled by the op-ed pages of most major newspapers, where right wing self-hating nuts like Charlotte Allen are manipulating this opportunity to write anti-woman missives. Allen’s piece isn’t even worth disputing, so I’ll just leave it up to the poor reader to check out how surprising it is that Allen apparently hasn’t taken note of any of women’s accomplishments since, well, ever. Interestingly, the Independent Women’s Forum, her buddies, haven’t said a word.

In those same pages was Linda Hirshman’s piece on how women are losing this opportunity to gather together as a voting bloc and swing the election. I like Linda, but I find the idea that all women would somehow cohere in values, opinions, and interests a little second wave essentialism. Linda’s worried that losing this election, and all the fall out among women who have come down on different sides of the primary, will be a fatal blow to feminism. I personally think that feminism is supposed to be about acknowledging the complexity and differences among women, and inspiring them to act on their convictions. Ever notice how no one is asking men why their vote is split among Obama and Clinton?

Like Wendy, I’m fascinated with the intersection of pop culture and politics. The other night NBC’s primary coverage included a long analysis of the influence of Saturday Night Live on Clinton’s successes in Ohio and Texas. I’m glad she took some opportunities—SNL and The Daily Show—to show her playful side. And I think it probably helped her tremendously—far more than another run in with ol’ Tim Russert would have. No doubt part of what has kept some people from voting for Hillary has something to do with that super annoying perception that women aren’t playful or funny (these people just need to meet Wendy Shanker). Using pop culture platforms to change this perception is a strategic move on the part of the otherwise fairly daft Clinton campaign.

And the race and dialogue continues….

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