Gloria Steinem on the gender divide

Gloria Steinem writes about Clinton and Obama in a New York Times op-ed. Read the whole thing if you can, it’s worth it. She starts by pointing out that a female candidate with Obama’s biography would never have any chance:

Black men were given the vote a half-century before women of any race were allowed to mark a ballot, and generally have ascended to positions of power, from the military to the boardroom, before any women (with the possible exception of obedient family members in the latter).

[…] there is still no “right” way to be a woman in public power without being considered a you-know-what.

[…] what worries me is that he is seen as unifying by his race while she is seen as divisive by her sex.

What worries me is that she is accused of “playing the gender card” when citing the old boys’ club, while he is seen as unifying by citing civil rights confrontations.

What worries me is that male Iowa voters were seen as gender-free when supporting their own, while female voters were seen as biased if they did and disloyal if they didn’t. […]

What worries me is that some women, perhaps especially younger ones, hope to deny or escape the sexual caste system; thus Iowa women over 50 and 60, who disproportionately supported Senator Clinton, proved once again that women are the one group that grows more radical with age.

Oh yes we do.

As if to illustrate the point, the same New York Times follows up with the article Women’s Support for Clinton Rises in Wake of Perceived Sexism. Given that the incidents mentioned in the article are obvious enough (if you’ve missed the most recent one, this Tom Toles cartoon explains it well enough), do we really have to call it “perceived” sexism? Better yet, could we say that women are angered over the sexist treatment of Senator Clinton, but the actual reason why they support her is that they think that she would make a good President?

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4 Comments

Filed under feminism, politics, the glass ceiling

4 responses to “Gloria Steinem on the gender divide

  1. First, I would say that Obama as president is truly a historic moment for not only the US but also for the entire world! A lot of people may actually be stunned by the new developments in US politics. Having said that, I must say that when the election results were announced (projected) by the TV news channels, I did ask myself the question, “IF Hillary had the same resume as Obama, would she have had any chance at all?” And, as if echoing Steinem’s statement in the op-ed piece, I answered to myself, “No!” And, gradually, the world seemed quite depressive again.

  2. On the other hand, Michelle would have been even less likely…

  3. Precisely! And, that makes me quite upset (and amazed) when I read blogs where “feminists” declare that they will not vote for a woman just to see a woman in the White House. What that means is that according to them Hillary is not qualified enough! To me, either those people seem to be having severe delusions about the position of women in American politics or they are living in some Fantasy Land where some woman as “inspirational” as Obama will be elected president in the future just as he was. I actually don’t know what to make of that!

  4. There are several feminist blogs I read that stated their preference for Obama over Hillary, based on their policy positions or their expected governing styles. I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t see why feminists should always vote for the female candidate (Sarah Palin, anyone?). It’s more a question of who will best represent our interests, in addition to doing a good job overall. That’s not necessarily an obvious choice.

    On the other hand, I did think that Hillary was perfectly well qualified, and there’s a good number of blogs (notably, the Kos) that I have avoided precisely because of all the vitriol directed at her.

    I’ve mentioned Michelle because she, like Hillary, is an accomplished professional who could probably run for a political office in her own right. Unfortunately, I don’t expect that this will actually happen.