Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sexism to the Right of Me, Sexism to the Left of Me.

It's not only the wingnuts who have trouble with female politicians. Here's the progressive Robert Dreyfuss in the Nation:
Obama's Women Advisers Pushed War Against Libya

So three or four of Obama’s advisers, all women, wanted war against Libya.

We’d like to think that women in power would somehow be less pro-war, but in the Obama administration at least it appears that the bellicosity is worst among Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Power. All three are liberal interventionists, and all three seem to believe that when the United States exercises military force it has some profound, moral, life-saving character to it. Far from it. Unless President Obama’s better instincts manage to reign in his warrior women—and happily, there’s a chance of that—the United States could find itself engaged in open war in Libya, and soon.

Compare that to the National Review's Mark Krikorian, an arch-conservative:
They Know Who Wears the Pants in This Country

Look, I’m a sensitive New Age guy — I cook, I do laundry, I choke up at movies (well, Gladiator, anyway). But does anyone think our enemies abroad are as enlightened as we are about feminism? Steyn is right that the specific lesson they’re learning is that nukes are the best insurance against invasion — but a broader one is that our commander-in-chief is an effete vacillator who is pushed around by his female subordinates. Prof. Althouse notes, “A feminist milestone: Our male President has been pulled into war by 3 women,” and Senator Graham scored points with “I Thank God for Strong Women in the Obama Administration,” but we’re going to pay for this.

Oh my. Two men from the opposite extremes of the American political discourse, and both of them are really bothered by the gender of these advisors! Dreyfuss wants all women to be non-bellicose or if that's not possible then at least he wants Obama to "reign" those bellicose broads in.

Krikorian is much ruder in his sexism. He hints that no proper Islamofascist would ever respect a president who listens to women, that men must be the bosses. But both these gentlemen address the gender of Clinton, Rice and Power. Indeed, both of them focus more on the general class of "women" than on the particular individuals. It's sexism when women are stripped of their individuality in this manner, when they are turned into mere samples of some larger mass of womanhood.

Some days I despair, I do. I don't expect anything better from the Krikorians of this world. But Dreyfuss disappointed me. Or as Katha Pollitt puts it in her response to Dreyfuss:
In any case, the fact that three women argued for it skillfully and won their point is not very interesting. So why stress it, except that it mobilizes a raft of misogynist tropes about castrating females, the dangers of petticoat government and the folly of expecting anything good to come out of gender equality? After all, can you imagine a piece in The Nation titled “Black President Opts for Bombs” or “Qaddafi, a Man, Threatens to Massacre Rebels, Most of Whom Are Also Men”?

Misogyny—it’s the last acceptable prejudice of the left.