Saturday, June 07, 2008

Speaking About Sexism

Gloria Steinem thinks Barack Obama should make the same kind of speech about gender that he did about race and, according to the New York Times, he is considering it.

Not a great idea. That speech was prompted by the Jeremiah Wright uproar and would otherwise not have been made. To suggest that Obama should be as embarrassed about defeating Hillary Clinton as he was by his former pastor's rhetoric is a faulty equivalence.

He was forced to distance himself from Wright because of their past association, but there is a kind of "When did you stop beating your wife?" logic in asking Obama to prove he is not sexist when no fair-minded observer has accused him of such speech or behavior during the long primary contest with Clinton.

Obama can best make peace with Clinton supporters who feel cheated by appealing to them as citizens and Democrats rather than scorned women. Just as he does not "owe" them the choice of Hillary as a running mate, neither does he owe them an apology for being African-American and male.

Anything else would be the worst kind of condescension and sexism.

1 comment:

R. S. Abrinaud said...

I couldn't agree more. As a woman, and a woman of color at that, I have to shake my head at my fellow American sisters because they're missing the point. I chose not to vote for Hillary, not because she's female, but because I frankly don't like her politics. Last I checked, that *is* what an election is about....y'know...politics? Furthermore, I voted for Obama, not because he's also a person of mixed race, but because--gosh darnit--the man makes me want to leap up and start dancing with his radical notion that both political parties could work together, that we could have government by the People again rather than government by the Corporation, that something has to change with health-care in this country and it requires discussion on all sides.

It doesn't matter to me whether the candidates are male, female, Martian, Venusian or otherwise. What I care about is their ability to get the job done and to do it well. Yes, we still have some things to talk about in the public square when it comes to issues of sexism, but to force Obama to make a speech about it now is just absurd. He was the *right* person to make a speech about race. Perhaps Gloria herself needs to make the one about sexism...