Friday, July 11, 2008

Should we defend Cindy McCain from sexism? (by Suzie)

          I posted below on a column by Amanda Erickson. She says black feminists are criticizing white feminists for not writing as much about sexism directed at Michelle Obama as they did about Hillary Clinton. 
"Michelle Obama is getting short shrift ... from the mainstream white feminists who were screaming and screaming about Hillary Clinton," said Andrea Plaid, a Brooklyn-based blogger who contributes to Michelle Obama Watch.
          Similarly, Mary C. Curtis takes feminists to task as if all voted for Clinton.  
          Erickson notes that feminist blogs have reported sexism against Obama, as has the National Organization for Women. I’d add the Women’s Media Center, whose founders include Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan, who have been criticized specifically.
           Perhaps sexism against Clinton has been more widely reported because she was a candidate and Obama is a candidate's wife, Erickson says. I’ve never read a political analyst that thought public opinion about a wife could win or lose a presidential race. Gail Collins weighs in on this. 
          Erickson quotes a Clinton supporter saying it’s unfair to expect her supporters to show the same enthusiasm in defending her former opponent and his wife. That leads me to the crux of this post: Should a feminist defend all women against sexism, no matter how she feels about the target? Yes, but we have limited time and energy. That's why I haven’t started a Cindy McCain Watch, and I’ve never posted before on the sexism against her.
         But there is sexism. When people call her a Stepford wife or Barbie, they play into the idea that women are to be judged on looks and demeanor. 
... it is clear that the feminist ideology of some women only extends as far as their favorite candidate. ... Why are so many women standing silent, and worse, abetting the demonization of another woman of substance?
          This quote comes from Tami at Racialicious, criticizing "mainstream feminists" who fail to discuss sexism aimed at Obama. But Republicans might say the same about feminists who don't defend McCain. Read what Susan J. Douglas says.