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“Sexism Still Tolerated In A Way Racism Isn’t”: Why Clinton’s Gender Problem Will Not Be Like Obama’s Race Problem

Here’s an SAT analogy question for you: Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign IS TO race as Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign IS TO _______. If you said “gender,” you’re only half right.

I’ll get to what I mean in a moment, but this is something Isaac Chotiner raises today at The New Republic: in 2016, we’ll get into a similar dynamic we see now, in which “the attacks on Clinton will be seen as sexist by liberals, which in turn will lead to conservatives feeling falsely accused of sexism. You can count on MSNBC, for example, to turn nearly every attack on Clinton into an attack on Republicans for hating women.”

It’s true that there will be an extraordinary amount of sexism directed at Clinton, just as there always has been. But unlike Barack Obama, who spent years planning how to make white people comfortable with his race (which worked for a while, until his victory became a real possibility), Clinton has never tried to make her gender unthreatening. I suppose we could mention the way she stepped back from policy and did more traditional First Lady stuff after the Clinton health care plan failed in 1994, but that was a brief interregnum between times when she in effect told the country that she was going to be just as smart and knowledgeable and ambitious as a man in her position, and if they didn’t like that, then it was their problem and not hers.

The other thing that’s different is the way people, and particularly conservatives, talk about gender versus the way they talk about race. To put it simply, a lot of conservatives are still unashamedly sexist. When MSNBC calls out Rush Limbaugh for saying something sexist about Clinton, he doesn’t try to convince people that it’s a calumnious charge and he is in fact deeply committed to gender equality. He doesn’t much care, and neither do a lot of other people.

To what degree that ends up working in Clinton’s favor politically, we’ll have to see. Race both helped and hurt Obama (researchers are still sorting through which way the scales tipped on net), and on first blush something similar is likely to happen with Clinton: there will be people who won’t vote for a woman, and there will be people excited about voting for the first woman president. There will also be women who are so disgusted by the misogynistic attacks on her that it pushes them toward voting for her.

But there is going to be absolutely no subtlety in the sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton, and the people making them will barely attempt to argue that they aren’t being sexist. Instead of “How dare you call me that!” their response to the accusation will be more along the lines of, “Shut yer trap, girlie!”

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, April 9, 2014

April 13, 2014 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, Racism, Sexism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Anti-Women Republican Women”: Romney’s Female Surrogates Oppose Women’s Rights

Mitt Romney thought he had found the right wedge to drive between President Obama and women: unemployment. On Wednesday morning Romney started the day off with a speech in Hartford, Connecticut, blaming Obama for job losses among women since he took office. Said Romney:

I was disappointed in listening to the President as he’s saying ‘Republicans are waging a war on women.’ The real war on women is being waged by the President’s failed economic policies.… These are just some statistics which show just how severe the war on women has been by virtue of the President’s failed policies. The number of jobs … this is an amazing statistic…the percentage of jobs lost by women in the President’s three years, three and a half years, 92.3 percent of all the jobs lost during the Obama years have been lost by women. 92.3 percent!

This is merely a variation on the same intellectually dishonest nonsense that Republicans have been slinging at Obama for years. There is a lag between when a president takes office and when his policies are imposed, then take effect, and then have measurable results. The job losses during Obama’s first year in office are the result of the economic collapse that began before he was elected. Since then, the private sector has been slowly adding jobs. The public sector, meanwhile, has been shedding jobs because there is also a lag between an economic downturn and the compressed government budgets that force layoffs of civil servants. Also the president cannot pass everything he wants by fiat. Obama and other Democrats have pushed for stimulus measures such as aid to states that would reduce the number of teachers, police officers and so forth getting laid off. That would benefit both citizens who depend on their services and the economy as a whole. Republicans have refused to vote for these bills on the grounds that we cannot afford to add to the national debt to pay for them, and then turned around hypocritically lambasted Obama for the job numbers that are the direct result of Republican policies.

And that is just what Romney is doing on the subject of women’s employment. As Slate’s Matthew Yglesias explains:

Recessions hit male-dominated highly cyclical sectors like construction and manufacturing first. Women tend to disproportionately work in sectors like health care and education that show slow and steady job growth. But those male-dominated cyclical sectors also bounce back relatively quickly. So since the recession started more than a year before Obama’s inauguration, male job losses were close to bottoming out by the time Obama took office and he’s presided over a lot of rebound growth in male employment. Women, by contrast, have been devastated by cascading waves of teacher layoffs.

No wonder New York Times reporters Ashley Parker and Trip Gabriel labeled Romney’s claim “misleading for several reasons.”

Mere intellectual dishonesty is a daily operation for Romney, and it would hardly have caused a mainstream media kerfuffle. But on a conference call Wednesday Romney’s advisers were dumbstruck when asked whether he supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act that Obama signed into law in 2009. Romney can’t credibly present himself as an advocate of women in the workplace if he doesn’t support legislation that would protect them from discrimination. (The law makes it possible for women to sue for being paid less than male colleagues within 180 days of the last, rather than first, paycheck. The Romney campaign later said he would not repeal the law.)

But Republican women seem to think they can do just that. Romney’s campaign spent Wednesday flooding reporters with statements from female Republican politicians attacking Obama’s record on women in the economy. Here’s a sample from a conference all they pulled together on Thursday:

“Women have faced massive job losses under this administration and the policies of this president have failed women voters.” —Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)

“Since President Obama and the Democrats can’t run on the record, which includes the longest streak of high unemployment since the Great Depression, a record increase in the national debt, and near-record gas prices they’re working desperately to change the subject. And that’s why they’ve created this whole ‘war on women’ campaign. It’s really designed to distract women from the real issues…. There’s no ‘war on women’ by the Republicans.” —Representative Cathie McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA)

“The Obama policies have failed. In fact, they’ve made the economy worse, and they’ve made it worse particularly for women.” —Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)

Something is funny about all these Republican women rushing to Romney’s defense. None of them support women’s rights. Ayotte co-sponsored the Blunt-Rubio amendment that would allow employers to refuse to cover any medication, including birth control, which they object to on moral or religious grounds. McMorris-Rodgers and Lummis voted against the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, as did Representative Mary Bono Mack (R-FL), who issued a statement attacking on Romney’s behalf saying, “Women in the Obama economy are facing hardships of historical proportions.” All three congresswomen voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would take other steps to make it easier for women to fight for equal pay, such as prohibiting retaliation by companies against workers who raise wage-parity issues. Just because these politicians are women does not mean they have women’s interests at heart. If they oppose women’s rights to be protected from discrimination in the workplace, then they are hardly credible as critics of the effects of Obama’s policies on women’s economic standing.

And it’s not just at work where Romney’s female surrogates oppose women’s rights. Virginia Delegate Barbara Comstock, who also participated in the Thursday conference call, voted to require women to have an ultrasound prior to an abortion.

The Romney campaign seems to think that merely being a woman makes one qualified to represent all women. As Jessica Valenti notes, this patronizing belief manifests especially in their use of Mitt’s wife Ann as his supposed ambassador to women. But this is only slightly less ludicrous to claim that because a Republican politician with typical anti-women Republican policies happens to have two X chromosomes that she is somehow a spokesperson for women’s political interests.

 

By: Ben Adler, The Nation, April 13, 2012

April 14, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?: Bert and Ernie Getting Married Is a Dumb, Destructive Idea

Some people see politics everywhere,  even where they don’t belong.

Case in point a Chicago-area man who,  according to Washington, D.C. radio station WMAL, has  started an online petition at a website called Change.org seeking to pressure  the people behind the landmark children’s program Sesame Street to “let Ernie & Bert get married.”

As a child—and as a parent—I  watched a lot of Sesame Street.  I’m a big fan of Bert & Ernie and their antics. I can still sing most of  the lyrics to “Rubber Duckie” and “Doin’ the Pigeon” from  memory. They are  funny, engaging characters who demonstrate to children  that people—no matter  how different they might be in temperament,  likes, dislikes and personalities—can still be the best of friends. But  they are also, as apparently has been  lost on some people, Muppets—a  combination marionette and foam rubber puppet  invented decades ago—by the legendary Jim Henson and his wife  Jane.  Muppets are not people, and while they are in many cases gender  specific they,  as the Sesame Workshop felt compelled to point out  Thursday, “Do not have a  sexual orientation.” Nonetheless someone out  there thinks they would be useful  to further a point about sexual  identity.

It’s an idea that’s foolish, and  moreover, culturally destructive  because, if enacted, it would further the end  of childhood innocence in  America. Children are already bombarded, in and out  of school, with  messages and meanings that, in my judgment, are far too  sophisticated  for them to comprehend. Instead, they just confuse and, in some  cases,  scare them—as was the case when, as the Boston Globe reported back in   2009, “an anxious, depressed 17-year-old boy was admitted to the  psychiatric  unit at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.”

“He was refusing to drink water.  Worried about drought related to  climate change, the young man was convinced  that if he drank, millions  of people would die. The Australian doctors wrote  the case up as the  first known instance of climate change delusion,'” the  paper reported.

A 17-year-old man is far more mature  than the average viewer of Sesame    Street.  We have an obligation to protect innocents  and innocence and, in a  sense, childhood itself. Children are treasures,  precious gems that  are our future and should be treated as such, not as targets  for  indoctrination.

By: Peter Roff, U. S. News and World Report, August 12, 2011

August 12, 2011 Posted by | Ideologues, Ideology, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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