Sunday, June 08, 2008

Open Yer Eyes

Digby has this to say about the sexism of the primary campaign:

Clinton's campaign ripped open a hole in our culture and forced us to look inside. And what we found was a simmering cauldron of crude, sophomoric sexism and ugly misogyny that a lot of us knew existed but didn't realize was still so socially acceptable that it could be broadcast on national television and garner nary a complaint from anybody but a few internet scolds like me. It was eye-opening, to say the least.

Eye-opening? Well, not for me. But then I have the stench radar set on a very sensitive level, after all these years of feminaziing. In fact, I could probably give you a pretty predictive list of various public people who don't really care much for women (except perhaps in the sense they care about a nice chicken dinner), and that list includes some people others don't seem to see in that light at all. Yet. But nope, I'm not posting that list, because I'm an Ethical Blogger. Well, semi-ethical, given that I hinted at its existence.

Or perhaps just a quarter-ethical, because I often assume the role of a naive onlooker in my posts. In a sense I AM that naive onlooker, a little pink alien creature just arrived on this earth and truly astonished by the stuff I see. But in another sense I'm weary and cynical. So some of that stance is assumed, not real. But the real stance would get us nowhere, and in any case it, too, is only half-real. (See where weekend posting gets me?)

To return to the topic of sexism in this primary campaign, Howard Dean made a statement about it. Late, true, but at least he made one. Here it is:

Even the Democratic National Committee chairman is avidly trying to make up for accusations that he allowed sexism in the race to pass unchallenged.

"The wounds of sexism need to be the subject of a national discussion," the chairman, Howard Dean, said in an interview. "Many of the most prominent people on TV behaved like middle schoolers" toward Mrs. Clinton.

Now we are gonna have a national discussion of the wounds of sexism? Is Keith Olbermann going to give one of his angry Specials on it? Hee. I'm looking forward to that one.

And what would he say? Hmm. Perhaps something about demon Hillary cheating and exploiting bitter old white women who are too stupid to see that they are being cheated and exploited?

That was really unfair of me, because I put one the common sexist/ageist memes in various blog comments into Keith's mouth. I'm sure he would do nothing of the sort, nevah.

More seriously, it has been fascinating to see the specific forms of misogyny that this campaign has sprouted, most commonly the idea of women who supported Hillary Clinton as old and bitter. Because if they weren't old and bitter they wouldn't have supported her. It's easy.

What will be much harder to explain away is the next stage of misogyny in the presidential campaigning. It will be directed towards the wives of the candidates, and at least in the case of Michelle Obama it will be a mixture of racism and sexism.

My policy has been not to write about the family members of politicians, as long as they have no public roles themselves. This is because I believe that even the families of politicians deserve their privacy, and also because attacks against the spouse or children of a politician are indirect attacks against him (it's mostly "him"), based on the assumption that he "owns" his wife and his children. That goes against my feminist thinking.

But I think I may have to suspend that policy, at least until the elections are over.