Wednesday, December 12, 2007

misogyny and politics: a new taste sensation

I love new experiences. I can't help it, really. It's an asset or a defect, depending on who you ask. I like to try new things, go new places. So I consider myself lucky this election season. Hillary is running for President. Obama is running for president. Romney is running for president. Woman. African American. Mormon. It's exciting, right? Because I'm a woman and a feminist, though, I most gravitate toward what's going on with Hillary and how her being female is impacting the political landscape.

So what is going on out there? Yes, folks. It is a new taste sensation. It's acrid, like a cotton ball wrapped in barbwire. It's misogyny, stripped bare and totally out of the closet. Forget political correctness. Forget that piddly little word "equality." Forget your girlfriends, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers. Hillary is running for president. And it's balls to the wall. And it's Hillary's balls we're after.

Consider this statement, from Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, who recently appeared on PBS with Bill Moyers to talk about what Moyers called "this avalanche of misogyny directed at Hillary Clinton."

"[U]nderlying many of these assertions is the assumption that any woman in power will, by necessity, entail emasculating men . . .

So, why shouldn't you vote for Hillary Clinton? Well, first, she can't be appropriately a woman and be in power. She must be a man. Hence, the site that says Hillary Clinton can't be the first woman president; Hillary Clinton's actually a man. But also explicit statements that suggest castrating, testicles in lockbox. She's going to emasculate men. It's a zero-sum game in which a woman in power necessarily means that men can't be men."

It's Hillary at the center of the bull's-eye: She's attacked for her laugh; she's attacked for wearing a top that's too low-cut; she's attacked for not being able to "handle" her man; she's attacked for being too much like a man. Jamieson later asks whether these types of attacks make women increase their identification with Hillary or not? Do we specifically distance ourselves from a woman who's being attacked, or do we rally and say we will not stand for this, whether we support Hillary's candidacy or not.

It's ironic this week when news is flowing out of Argentina about the election of their first female president. And there's plenty of precedent for female heads of state in countries that don't tout their own enlightenment the way we do. We have an iron grip on that moral ground we're holding onto. And yet we're witnessing a cliche so passe it would make our grandmothers uncomfortable---that a woman is somehow fundamentally flawed or incapable because she's a woman, because she can't use her uterus and her brain.

Let's call it for what it is folks: Woman hating. And it mixes real nice with politics, where everything's a free for all and no low is too low. And so as I sit on the sidelines reveling in the newness of it all, I'm also taking deep breaths and willing myself to get through it, to speak to it, to denounce it as the rot that it is, and to wish that we didn't have to sink to such dastardly places just because a woman is running for president.



Tara said...

Awesome post B! Misogyny yes, however, when I read such quotes,I think it's a clear indication that these insecure men feel threatened and ridiculously SCARED of a woman being in power. Throughout history, the unimaginable, horrible things men have done to women and still do in order to contain us and prevent us from shining in all our wonderful glory is simply a result of FEAR.

I'm grateful for freedom of speech and all the available forums for which people have the opportunity to voice their opinions. Unfortunately, many use them to spread hate and their sick and twisted views that can really get you disgusted and pissed off!

Krista Lyons-Gould and Brooke Warner said...

I couldn't agree more, and thanks for the comment, T. The PBS show was right on because Jamieson speaks to this point, about men feeling scared and threatened. She says that the size of the groups that are posting the most vulgar stuff about Hillary actually has a low membership, but the problem is that it's not just them. They're the most egregious offenders, but you can see it everywhere---in the mainstream media, in the most mainstream places in the blogosphere. It's disturbing.