The New Hampshire primaries were held today, and of course, who would make the best president is a frequent topic of discussion here in Chicago. I like both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Probably just as well I don’t have the vote because I’d find it hard to choose.

We watched the debates on Saturday and I was surprised to find that when Clinton got just a bit annoyed, everyone took that as a Really Bad Mistake. But she remained well-spoken, polite and articulate – I really liked her controlled anger. On the other hand, people loved it when she responded all coyly and fake-charmingly to the obnoxious question about what she thought of the objection voters apparently make that she’s not “as likeable” as Obama. “That hurts my feelings,” she said, sweetly cocking her head just a little, flirtatiously playing to the stereotypes of femininity as little girls are taught to do. What a fine moment, the commentators said.

And so although I’m possibly an Obama supporter I found myself pleased that Clinton won in New Hampshire.

Gloria Steinem writes in the New York Times today that gender is still a more discriminatory force in politics than race is: “So why is the sex barrier not taken as seriously as the racial one? The reasons are as pervasive as the air we breathe: because sexism is still confused with nature as racism once was.” She continues:

[W]hat 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 ìplaying the gender cardî when citing the old boysí 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 didnít.

Yes, the argument that it’s time to get rid of the dynasties of US politics is a good one (Bush senior, Bush junior; Clinton the husband, Clinton the wife: it’s more than ridiculous) but the power of finally having a woman president, a role model as powerful as that for the rest of us – that would be an amazing thing for the United States and for the world.

7 thoughts on “gloria steinem: sexism in politics is stronger than racism

  1. Gro

    Yes, interesting election. From Norwegian
    newspapers I get the impression that many people vote for Obama out of tactical reasons.
    The argument seems to be that there are less fuzz around obama than
    hillary, so if he wins, the democrates are more likely to win. Sad
    if her sex is an argument for this tactical thinking.

  2. Mum

    It seems incredible that in more than 200 years of democratic elections in the United States, only one woman, only now, has ever had even a spitting chance of making it to the top job in the oval office. American voters time after time have chosen their leaders from only 50% of the population? Time for a change. Go Hillary! There’ll be plenty of Obamas down the line.

  3. Chuck

    The treatment of Hillary Clinton has been driving me insane. Although I’m more inclined to support Obama, I was also glad to see Clinton win New Hampshire.

    Coincidentally Colbert is playing right now and just showed a montage of like eight (male) pundits all saying that Hillary’s tears “humanized” her. The US media coverage of this election has been irresponsible at best.

  4. Jeff

    A fascinating election in the U.S. Gender seems to be less than a factor in other countries. In Argentina’s recent presidential elections, the top 2 candidates receiving the most votes were both women, and Argentina is still a very sexist country in comparison to the U.S.

  5. Gro

    In Norway we have a lot of female politicians, and no one interpretates that as a
    sign of decline in society/culture values. That a woman i U.S
    still has to fight to be reconized as a person, with personality
    is beyond my understanding.

  6. Mel

    Why am surprised that this presidential campaign underscores that
    sexism is stronger than racism? The response to the constituent who
    asked, “How do we beat the bitch?” to John McCain in So Carolina
    was gales of laughter. A male supporter added he thought they
    were talking about his ex-wife. More laughter. Keep your day job,
    buddy; there’s no room for you in stand-up comedy! McCain responded after laughing, that
    it was a good question. Let me ask this: What if the supporter asked,
    “How to we beat the [n-word]?

    Remember African American men were given the right vote by the 15th Amendment
    in 1870. It was not until 50 years later that the 19th Amendment gave
    all women the right to vote.

    Racism/Sexism/Ageism should never be tolerated!!!

  7. Ron

    African American men were only given the right to vote on paper. If they dared tried to use that “right” they were beaten or worse. The 19th Amendment practically only gave white women the right to vote. It was only in 1965 that African Americans (both men and women) had that chance.

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