Saturday, June 07, 2008

Do the right thing

Regular readers know that I have not, as yet, bought into the narrative that Senator Clinton was badly damaged (politically) by a veritable shitstorm of misogyny and sexism, or even that any kind of "storm" actually occurred. But I may be wrong. I am perfectly happy to challenge my beliefs and assumptions on this (or any other) issue, or have them challenged.

Judith Warner has an article up in today’s New York Times which does just that. She details quite a few incidents of sexism that were directed at Senator Hillary Clinton during her campaign and argues that it was a genuine tsunami.

Again, while writing about these issues, I will use standard dictionary definitions. Misogyny is the hatred of women. Sexism is prejudice, discrimination and/or stereotyping of a person or group based on gender.

The biggest obstacle I've had to accepting the tidal wave of misogyny and sexism narrative has been my personal experience, which of course I recognize as somewhat anecdotal. Due to the fact that I rarely watched television news during that period, I never actually saw any of the sexist incidents Warner details. I have received no viral emails. I haven't noticed in the print media or political blogs I read any argument that she should not be president because she is a woman. And no one I have interacted with personally has said anything that could be remotely viewed as sexist or misogynistic.

On the other hand, I personally witnessed an authentic shitload of racialist, and I would argue racist, argument directed at Obama. Much of it came directly from the Clinton campaign. And the mainstream media is unapologetically up to their eyeballs in it.

Again, to the definitions: Racialism is an emphasis on race or racial considerations. It entails a belief in the existence and significance of racial categories. Racism mens race-based prejudice, violence, discrimination, or oppression.

Beginning in South Carolina (seems like so many bad things begin there, eh?), Senator Clinton and her allies went to great length to paint Senator Obama black. That clearly falls within the definition of racialism. Why did she do that? For racist reasons, obviously. She wanted to tap into the racism that is still prevalent in so many parts of the country. Then she began specifically making the argument that people should not vote for him because he is black. That, my friends, is the very definition of racism.

And that was a tipping point for me. Before Ms. Clinton initiated her Klan state strategy, I though she was a good person who would make a good president. But once she revved up the “don’t vote for Obama because he is black” campaign, I realized that she is a deeply damaged megalomaniac who would stop at nothing to achieve her ambition.

Nevertheless, none of that excuses any misogyny or sexism on the part of the mainstream media, or even a single isolated case.

Please excuse the long quotation, but Ms. Warner's argument needs to be heard:

It’s a cultural moment that Andrew Stephen, writing with an outsider’s eye for the British magazine the New Statesman last month, characterized as a time of “gloating, unshackled sexism of the ugliest kind.” A moment in which things like the formation of a Hillary-bashing political action group, “Citizens United Not Timid,” a “South Park” episode featuring a nuclear weapon hidden in Clinton’s vagina, and Internet sales of a Hillary Clinton nutcracker with shark-like teeth between her legs, passed largely without mainstream media notice, largely, perhaps, because some of the key gatekeepers of mainstream opinion were so busy coming up with various iterations of the nutcracker theme themselves. (Tucker Carlson on Hillary: “When she comes on television, I involuntarily cross my legs.” For a good cry, watch this incredible montage from the Women’s Media Center.)

. . . . . . . . . . .

But 16 months of sustained misogyny? Hey — she asked for it. With that voice, (“When Hillary Clinton speaks, men hear, ‘Take out the garbage’ ” Fox News regular Marc Rudov, author of “Under the Clitoral Hood: How to Crank Her Engine Without Cash, Booze, or Jumper Cables,” said in January). With that ambition, and that dogged determination (“like everyone’s first wife standing outside a probate court,” according to MSNBC commentator Mike Barnicle) and, of course, that husband (Chris Matthews: “The reason she’s a U.S. Senator, the reason she’s a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around.”). Clearly, in an age when the dangers and indignities of Driving While Black are well-acknowledged, and properly condemned, Striving While Female – if it goes too far and looks too real — is still held to be a crime.

I don’t think any of that had anything to do with Senator Clinton’s failure to have locked up the nomination at this late stage. I see those as isolated sexist incidents, not remotely comparable to the way we've been thoroughly inundated with racialist tripe by the media and Clinton campaign.

But I agree 100 percent with anyone who recognizes how horrific it is that these sexist creeps are still on television and writing op-eds for big time publications.

The answer, however, is not to do as Senator Clinton urges and blame Senator Obama. The only way to do something about this terrible situation is to boycott and embarrass the companies that sponsor these morons. It’s not enough simply to stop watching. These sexist scumbags are on the air because of their propaganda value, not for their actual ratings.

Wanna put a stop to it? Make it cost their sponsors. Then they won't have any. Then they'll be gone, or at least significantly marginalized.