Thursday, June 05, 2008

Not invisible to us

I feel a lot of things about the Democratic primary process. Sadness. Pride. Anger. Relief.

I am in awe of the history we Democrats have made. I voted for Hillary Clinton in my primary. I will vote for Barack Obama in the general election. That will represent two firsts in my voting lifetime: my first vote for a legitimate female presidential candidate and my first vote for a legitimate African-American presidential candidate. Thanks to them, American presidential politics looks a little more like America.

And while the significance of this moment in our nation’s racial reconciliation will be written about in history books from here until eternity, I can’t help but feel a lingering ache about what the history books will no doubt ignore. And what they will ignore is this. Many, many women in America feel hurt by this primary process. We feel berated. We feel marginalized. We feel – as Hillary mentioned in her final primary speech Tuesday – invisible.

And as news of Hillary’s impending concession on Friday makes the rounds, we can’t help but think that many, many men in America are thinking: “Yes, we’re finally rid of that woman!” Or to put their sentiments less charitably (but possibly more accurately): “Thank God, the bitch is gone!”

The misogyny that has existed in this campaign is not a question. There is no, “Was there sexism in the primary process?” That is simply a part of a large chunk of the rhetoric and coverage we were bombarded with every day.

It was there in the depiction of Hillary to every man’s first wife in probate court. It was there in the oh-so-charming Hillary nutcracker. It was there in the she-devil graphics. It was there in the comparisons to Glenn Close’s psychotic stalker in “Fatal Attraction.” It was there in the insistence, for months and months, that she should quit even while she was still winning. (For the masochists among us, relive the greatest “hits” on Shakesville’s excellent 104-part Hillary Sexism Watch series. And then to feel better read Melissa’s terrific “For the Record.”)

She handled all of that with grace and strength, just as Obama handled the racist attacks against him with grace and strengths. I refuse to play the “my otherness is more important than your otherness”-game. No African-American or woman has ever run as the major party candidate in a presidential election, let alone been elected. Yes, both made mistakes and, at times, played the otherness card. Yes, there was mismanagement and missteps in Hillary’s campaign. But no amount of strategizing can overcome a problem that people simply refuse to admit exists.

I feel the media’s coverage and presidential primary became a de facto referendum on the question of whether we still have gender discrimination in this country. And I feel like we lost the argument. It’s not they’re right and we’re wrong. It’s that too many people just didn’t want to hear it. What are you talking about, woman? You’re equal enough, honey. Love the paintsuit, babe.

What I mostly feel tonight is exhausted. I feel emotionally drained and I feel a little ashamed at my relief. Yes, I wanted Hillary to win. But after seeing the bruising, relentless, unabashed negation of the very concept that there might still be sexism in our culture, I’m tired of fighting. I know I shouldn’t feel this defeated by the bludgeoning blowhards who insists it’s our problem, not theirs. But I am.

While emailing back and forth with friends Tuesday about Obama’s clinching the nomination, one mirrored my feelings perfectly. She said at least they won’t have Hillary to kick around anymore. I’m glad she won’t have to face the assault anymore. I’m glad I won’t have to hear it anymore. But I hope that amid her own disappointment she has the time to feel proud of what she has accomplished. Record-breaking turnout. Unprecedented number of votes. Nearly half of all Democrats. She has earned the right to celebrate her successes and thank her supporters. She has earned our respect.

Often, while reading about Hillary’s supporters and successes, I was surprised by my own visceral reaction to each accomplishment. In a way, it felt like Hillary’s success was my success. That her triumph was our triumph. Maybe that highest and hardest glass ceiling she spoke of could finally be shattered. I can’t tell you the number of times I got a lump in my throat thinking both of her supporters born before women even had the chance to vote and the next generation looking to her as an example of the limitless possibilities of our gender. When done right, politics is and will always be deeply personal.

What the history books will probably fail to mention is the incredible impact her candidacy has had on women in this country. While I feel disillusioned and worn out today, I hope that ache soon will be filled with a pride and determination that a woman can and will be president in my lifetime. And when she takes the oath of office, if it’s not Hillary herself, I hope she thanks Hillary for blazing the trail and taking the hits.

I’m proud I got to vote for her. I am proud of her. Thanks, Hillary.

36 comments:

The Gentleman said...

I’ve followed the democratic primaries as much as possible exactly for their historical meaning.
Seeing for the first time a woman, albeit with all her human shortcomings, running consistently for almost a year to be the nominee for the US Presidency felt like being part of history in the making.
Was I surprised to witness all the misogynist attacks throw at her? Not really. Probably because I’m living in one of the most male dominated European countries right now (We don’t have a legislation against sexual harassment in the work place for example…). In Italy women not only are underrepresented in the government and institution but also their almost non-existent as CEO of the major national companies and industries even if all the statistics shows that women are usually better educated and reach university graduation with higher grades than their male counterparts. Still a woman is generally paid 20% less than a men with the same qualification and position.
I live in a country where the first question asked to the new elected president of the major Italian industrial association, a woman for the first time in more than 60 years, was : “How do you think you would manage this new position with your role as a mother?” (and we’re talking about a woman with two MBA and a Ph.D from Harvard that has been managing the family company, a fortune 500 one, for more than 15 years…). Sexism, as much I would like to ignore, is still present every single day. Nevertheless I think that the Hillary candidacy has stirred some new discussion among women everywhere, maybe we settled to much, we lost a little bit of those feminism fire we had few decades ago, and maybe is time to get that fire back.

BTW: Sorry for the rant..:)

Anonymous said...

I could not agree more, Ms. Snarker. For the longest time, I was undecided, but when I finally chose to support Senator Clinton, my support was whole-hearted. I grew shocked and disgusted by the mainstream media's belittling of her accomplishments - and I still am. It's funny - every time I talk to a Hillary supporter, we agree that we are incredibly defensive of this remarkable woman. She has been through so much, and has retained her pride and dignity throughout. Now that it has come to a close, I'm taking a week. One week for me to mourn, to adjust to the idea of Obama as the only candidate, and to remember. To remember how Hillary ran a great campaign, and how there still are people out there who appreciate and respect who she is as a person. And then we'll go back out, campaign for Obama, and win back the White House.

MLC said...

A great post - really beautifully written, thank you for being so articulate and expressing many of the things I am feeling.

Janet

Anonymous said...

I'm not American, but I was all for Hillary, wanting to see her as The Most Powerful Woman on Earth.

I live in Finland and we have female president. I don't remember her gender being used against her during the campaign, not strictly. But there were things people would point out: like she had never been married, but had a daughter.
Also at one time she had worked for a Finnish Sexual Equality organization.

Back to the US(S)A: I have nothing against Obama, but he seems a little... wimpy.

TheWeyrd1 said...

I was a county and congressional district delegate for Hillary Clinton (decided to pass on campaigning to be a state delegate even though I live in Denver...the parking is going to be a nightmare in August). I have to say the caucus process favors grassroots campaigns as Obama's started out. And if anyone even really believes that the Caucus turn out is remotely representative of the voting population, they didn't participate in a caucus. The reality is the turnout is 1/10th and skewed to a grassroots campaign that was able to recruit a fair amount of young people who were willing to sit in a meeting for 2 to 4 hours in the evening. Most people have families and don't have the desire to do so. My caucus had 20 somethings and 50 plus somethings mostly. The 30 to 50 age range was there, just less of them. I suspect that age group was more for Hillary. The states that had primaries had HUGE turnouts of ACTUAL voters voting. Texas is a great example of the difference between primary and caucus turn out. I'll be voting for Obama, but no one should think that he really had the popular vote of the democrats based on all those caucus states...

Carolyn said...

Thanks Dorothy, for all the great Hillary posts. I've been a fan of hers since I had the honor of voting for her in New York. I had the honor of voting for her in my primary. I lament the fact that I am no longer allowed that honor. She has all of the qualities I respect in a leader - courage, vision, grace, intelligence, action, articulation, endless energy, and balls. She's got balls. She is tough as nails and was undaunted no matter what was thrown at her. I respect her so very much. And now, I'm left with a very, very difficult choice. For whom do I vote? I still might write in Hillary's name. She remains my choice for president.

Sue J said...

Spot on post, Dorothy.

I think most women I know were shocked at the blatant misogyny that was rampant throughout the media.

I hope to see a woman president in my lifetime, but I look at Hillary Clinton's resume and think: If she can't elected, good lord, who can?!

Slym said...

"She said at least they won’t have Hillary to kick around anymore. I’m glad she won’t have to face the assault anymore. I’m glad I won’t have to hear it anymore. But I hope that amid her own disappointment she has the time to feel proud of what she has accomplished. Record-breaking turnout. Unprecedented number of votes. Nearly half of all Democrats. She has earned the right to celebrate her successes and thank her supporters. She has earned our respect."

That sums it up quite succintly for me. I feel as if you've reached into my soul and plucked my very thoughts out and posted them here. I share your sentiments exactly. I hope at the end of it all Hillary not even in the slightest doesn't fail to grasp the depth of what she's accomplished personally, on behalf of all americans, on behalf of women as a whole and the standard that she has set within and outside of the USA.

It got so painful and tortuous at times that I just couldn't follow the campaign at all (in as much as I wanted to).

Anonymous said...

Exactly. Thank you for putting it so well.

Emily said...

I've been enjoying your blog for awhile now, and I have to say this is the most beautiful piece to date. I appreciate you so eloquently stating the sentiments that I share. I am so proud of Hillary and all that she as accomplished, and I know her legacy will live on for years. She has so much to be proud of.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Ms. Snarker.

Pyewacket said...

I want to thank you, as well, Ms. Dorothy for this blog entry. I am not loyal to any party and Hillary did not get an automatic pass with me because she is a woman. As someone who lives in what is considered upstate New York (yes, there does exist a state outside of the city lol)...I can tell you for a fact that Hillary worked her butt off to get elected to the Senate. The first election was a chance we gave her, with a heavy dose of skepticism. The second election, now that...that Hillary earned...along with our respect.

So I was in shock for most of this campaign to see the media depicted her in a way that so did not fit with who she is...and to see the New York liberal, conservative and independent votes that got her into the Senate dismissed so easily as being a result of her being a "victim." I think that characterization was as much of an insult to us voters as it was to Senator Clinton.

The only ones I think should be hanging their heads after what went on during the campaign are the media who put forth so much crappola and dared to called it "news."

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

Allow me to chime in and thank you for an insightful post. I too voted for Hillary in my state's primary. I love HRC and though I feel somewhat indifferent toward Obama, I will be voting for him in November. I just have some real concerns about what he's going to do about the economy, but McCain doesn't have the first clue about what do about anything, except the war (we can stay in Iraq forever!), so it's not like there's any other option.

Eleanor said...

You articulated beautifully a lot of my thoughts on the race. Thank you.

aftereleanor.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

well written, well said. While I'm feeling the disappointment for Hillary I will vote for Obama in November. Here's a stunning statistic to contemplate; the next president will most likely chose three Supreme Court judges. Something to keep in mind as you make up your mind in the fall.

debbie millman said...

Bravo, Ms. Snarker, bravo.

Cylinda said...

Just wanted to add my voice to the chorus of well-deserved thank yous present in these comments. Once again you've so eloquently, simply, and beautifully summed up my thoughts and feelings about this whole process. The tears streaming down my face tell me that your words have tapped a well-spring of emotion regarding Hillary and the nomination process that I didn't really know I had.

Thank you for giving voice to the feelings of those among us who can't find a way to do it ourselves.

Anonymous said...

I was proud to vote for Hillary Clinton in my state's primary too. I was just a little too young to vote in the last election, which we all know how that turned out, so the idea of being to vote for a woman, Hillary Clinton no less!, for my first presidential election was thrilling. I would get chills and goosebumps thinking of how great it would be to see her win in the national election (which polls showed she had a lead over McCain nationally that Obama didn't, but too late now).

I feel really disheartened now. I'm not excited about this election at all anymore. I don't like Obama for many reasons - his lackluster support of reproductive freedom and choice, gay rights, and his promise of change but failing to deliver during his campaign. The fact that Donnie McClurkin campaigned for him in South Carolina, just has he had done for George W. Bush in 2004 and 2000, doesn't seem like a change at all to me, especially all the homophobia. Add Rev Wright (who was more than just his minister, but on his CAMPAIGN on one of this Religious Advisory Committees), and just other crap that I can't find the original NYT articles on, and I just can't find myself standing behind him or for him. Has Hillary had a clean campaign? No. But overall I thought she had more integrity.

That and Obama's idea of an energy policy is tripling ethanol production and nuclear energy. WTF.

Thank you for your post. I really love your blog. While there are other blogs written by queer women (although not many), I think yours comes from a place of intellect and heart.

El N said...

My sentiments exactly, thank you.

Amy said...

Thank you for this post. It echoes a lot of what I have felt as well over this primary season. More than anything I think this primary has shed light on the horrible misogyny that still exists within politics. Anyone who thinks that it doesn't exist hasn't been paying attention. I wish Senator Clinton the best -- I'm sure that she still has some amazing years ahead of her.

And for those who are feeling betrayed and distressed over her loss -- please don't allow those emotions to take over at the polls in November. If you think that John McCain is moderate or independent you are dead wrong. Even if it is hard, Democrats must come together and support Obama. If for nothing else, then for the fact that the fate of our Supreme Court will be decided in these next four years. I don't think anyone here would like to see a man who has a 0% rating from NARAL, 0% rating from the ACLU and 33% rating from the HRC to be determining the fate of our Supreme Court for the next several generations -- or the fate of our nation for the next four years. We have to see past our disappointment and do what is best for our country.

jegirl said...

Thank You Dorothy and Thank You Hillary. It was inspiring to watch your campaign - I really felt proud to be a woman. I think the big problem is not the blatant sexist pigs but those men and women who don't realize their own sexism (towards women).

Amanda said...

I couldn't be more proud that the first vote I sent in as a legal adult was for Hillary. And you're right, you couldn't have said it better, a small part of my does hurt, as if I too lost the nomination and a chance to make the world a better place for women. I feel a little bruised...and I don't want this country to forget that either.

Amanda

lopey said...

Thank you Ms. Snarker. It was beautiful and true.

Nelfy said...

wonderful post, very eloquent! I am still a bit sad to see her go, because I believed in her....

CoffeeDog said...

I too will miss Hillary. Thanks for posting your thoughts.

not only but also said...

Great post, Ms S. One observation I'd make is that the majority of women who have broken the political glass ceiling around the world (by being elected to positions of leadership) have tended to come from the conservative side of politics. Perhaps it's a case of being seen to be the ultra-conservative pair of hands (to outweigh the perceived "risk" of voting for a woman). You can see Golda Meir, Indira Ghandi and Margaret Thatcher in this vein. The only exception I can think of is New Zealand's Prime Minister, Helen Clarke. (We've had a few women leading state governments in Australia, but only when replacing the current leader on his resignation/retirement - none has been elected to that position). So perhaps the first female President of the US will be a Republican?

Fire Berry said...

A wonderful post. Thank you so much for articulating what's been on my mind for a week. It breaks my heart -- and ironically, I fear her opponent isn't as much of a man as she is -- and it'll take one, to get this job done.

I'm still sad about it, too.

bellaluna said...

Long Live Hillary! I only hope she still has the strength and fortitude to fight for change in whatever capacity she finds herself in next.

Let's face it ladies, the majority of the world is still not ready for all our fierceness!!! But slowly, little by little...

Love ya Dorothy!!

Tory said...

thanks for articulating what i felt. when i heard the news all i could say was "Obama better win." i am disappointed i will not get the honor to vote for Hillary again yet at the same time i am proud to be voting for another history making candidate in November.

not only but also said...

Hope you don't mind me posting a second comment here Ms D, but I just came across this link from the Women's Media Center. I don't know whether to cry or run around breaking windows.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-IrhRSwF9U&eurl=http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/feature/2008/05/27/sexism_sells/

not only but also said...

sorry - the link cut cut off in the last post: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-IrhRSwF9U&eurl=http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/feature/2008/05/27/sexism_sells/

not only but also said...

Oh I give up!!
Go look for the Women's Media Center on You Tube: "Sexism Sells But We're Not Buying It".

Fanny said...

I'm a French woman, I'm a feminist. I voted for Segolene Royal in the last presidential elections, she was the candidate of the center left party in France.
I supported Barack Obama in the US democrat primaries because I think he represents the biggest rupture with the Past : old traditions, dynastic power.
Just as Royal in France, people in the Us presented him as less competent than their opponent.
I'm glad it did not work out in the US. I think he appears more trustworthy than Hillary.

I hope all democrats won't make the same mistake as French People and will be united to defeat the Republicans in the general elections.

Here's the message Segolene Royal wrote about Barack Obama:

La victoire de Barack Obama

Je suis très heureuse du beau succès de Barak Obama à l'issue des élections primaires démocrates aux Etats-Unis et je tiens à lui adresser mes félicitations les plus chaleureuses. Dès le départ, avant même qu’il ne devienne favori, j’avais soutenu sa candidature Il a fait preuve de courage, de sincérité et d’honnêteté.Pour la gauche américaine, c'est un choix historique que de s’être trouvé un porteur d'espoir. Il a prouvé, durant des Primaires âprement disputées, qu'il incarnait pour son pays un formidable désir de changement et d'avenir. Barack Obama représente l’Amérique d’aujourd’hui et de demain, l’Amérique métissée. Les jeunes, de toutes origines, se sont mobilisés massivement en sa faveur. Quel plus beau symbole de l’espérance que peut représenter un politique de son rang ?

Aux États-Unis, le 4 février dernier, je me suis mêlée à la foule d'un de ses meetings à Boston et j'ai vu la ferveur que suscitait son message auprès d'Américains de tous âges et de toutes origines, fraternellement unis.

De tous les procès instruits contre lui, Barak Obama a su faire une force sans jamais se laisser aller à répondre aux coups bas. Sa campagne populaire et citoyenne, son envie de rassembler, sa capacité à faire bouger les lignes sans sectarisme, sa fermeté sur des valeurs fondamentales ont réconcilié avec la politique beaucoup de ceux qui s'en étaient détournés, à commencer par les plus jeunes.

A l'inverse de tant de responsables politiques qui se disent expérimentés, il a euun jugement lucide sur l'intervention américaine en Irak, et c'est, pour en finir avec les errements des années Bush, un atout de poids.

Je lui souhaite aujourd'hui de trouver, pour l'épauler dans la campagne qui s'ouvre, un Parti soudé à ses côtés. C'est une des conditions de la victoire.

nancy said...

There's a picture of Michelle Obama on the front page of the NY Times this morning and I immediately thought of Hillary for so many reasons, most of which I can't articulate very clearly. It will be very interesting to watch her journey and no doubt she will be compared to Hillary and no doubt she could learn a thing or two from her as well.

Thanks again for this post.

TechGirl said...

Dorothy,

I voted for Hillary in my primary too. I'll be voting for her in the General Election as well. I can't vote for either Obama or McCain.

PUMA! Yep, Party Unity, My A@$. I know if I met with Hillary, she would be the first to say how unwise splitting my vote would be, yet the Democratic Committee isn't thinking about what is best for America. Therefore, it is up to us to say, enough is enough. We are voting for a better America. That's my objective, not DNC's.

http://www.hillaryclintonforum.net/discussion/showthread.php?t=14333

http://riverdaughter.wordpress.com/an-invitation-to-democrats-in-exile/

Anonymous said...

ye..i feel sorry about this issue.
actually, i think it's about who gets the power. so people do whatever they can,that's not surprise at all. how i feel about?
of course negative answer will follow.

hope your wish comes true.