… we bring you this uncharacteristic entry on politics. Read at your own risk.
As most people know, I don’t like to talk about politics. In fact, the few times I have talked about it on this blog, I think I mention that. In particular, I don’t like to argue politics. If I’m in a particularly agreeable mood, I may be interested in calmly discussing and sharing, but if anyone starts trying to convince me to change my opinion, I no longer want any part of that conversation.
And while we’re on that note, let me state for the record that I am not (consciously, at least) attempting to change anyone’s views today. I’m simply trying to put into words some thoughts that have been roaming about my head for the last few months. If you feel like I’m trying to persuade you of anything, and you are offended by this, then by all means stop reading and let me know what I did wrong, because I certainly don’t want to be thought of in the way that I think of those who try to persuade me of disagreeable things.
That being said, I have a few thoughts on the presidential nominations, race, gender, and the status of those things in America. Added to current events is the fact that I am currently taking “Gender and Culture,” an anthropology course, at Metro State, which has taught me a lot in a short (6 weeks) time.
Back in the beginning of the Democratic race, when it looked like it was close between Hillary and Barack, I said (to at least one other person, I’m quite sure) that Barack would most certainly win, because historically in our country, African Americans make advances before women do. From my limited (albeit recent and probably less limited than the average American’s) history education, I remember that in fighting for suffrage (the right to vote), the 15th Amendment guaranteeing the right to vote regardless of race or color or “condition of servitude” was ratified in 1870 (though not upheld everywhere until the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The 19th Amendment guaranteeing the right of women to vote (or the right to vote regardless of gender) was ratified in 1920 (and from the Wikipedia article, you can read how much more difficult it was to pass that one; and yes, I know that Wikipedia shouldn’t be considered scholarly, but it is a nice succinct and easy to read version of events with little bias). The Civil Rights movement in the 1960s was much more about racial equality than gender equality, with major strides being made towards racial equality in the1960s and early 1970s, and major strides being made towards gender equality in the 1970s and 1980s.
Now, it could be argued that the steps towards gender equality, when eventually made, were more successful than those towards racial equality. I believe that while women still make somewhere in the range of 85-90-cents on the dollar (compared to men), the gap for minorities is much greater. Searching for statistics on this is not easy to do and, well, I’m just lazy at the moment. (This article in the Washington Square lays out some statistics on gender and race-based wage gaps.)
At any rate, I thought it was a pretty safe bet that we’d have an African American president before a female one. And it looks like I was right.
It also looks like, as I suspected, sexism is much more socially acceptable than racism. There was an interesting article in today’s NYTimes about Sexism in the Presidential Campaign Race [link removed]. And, quite frankly, if Katie Couric speaks out about it, that definitely lends some credibility to the argument as far as I’m concerned, because she’s not known for overreacting and being overtly feminist (at least I wouldn’t consider her that way).
And that’s not to say that there weren’t some wholly inappropriate racist remarks against Barack, including the recent “baby mama” issue that’s just, well, rude and wrong. But in my limited interaction with the Democratic nomination race, there was far much more sexism than racism.
Furthermore, I’m pretty sure that the reason Hillary didn’t get the bid has nothing to do with her politics and everything to do with her gender. Here’s the thing: there are lots of people who don’t like Hillary. Why? Because she has some very strong personality traits that are, well, masculine, and people don’t like masculine women. Women don’t, but occasionally tolerate it, and men really don’t. Hillary has traits that, if she were a man, she would be lauded for and admired for and respected for. But, because she’s a woman, it’s distasteful.
Someone (or multiple someones, I don’t remember) that it wasn’t a gender thing, because they’d vote for Condi. Well, politics aside, Condi is much more feminine than Hillary. While being a strong woman, she still comes across as womanly, and she fits in with our idea of how women should act and be. She might crack the mold, but she doesn’t break it.
Is now the appropriate time to bring up the fact that when women were originally fighting for the right to vote, back in the days of the female ideal of being a mother and a wife, people didn’t want women to get involved in politics because it would invariably pollute them with the evils of politics, and women were responsible for bringing up moral, upright children.
I also feel it appropriate to bring up that when women were fighting to work (you know, after WWII during which they went to work because they “had to” and were doing their “American duty” and then found out that they liked it and got a sense of satisfaction from it and wanted to keep doing it), they feared more women in the workplace because if they were exposed to all those men, they would certainly be tempted to have affairs and leave their husbands. But decades (or centuries, whatever) of men having affairs with their secretaries (or just prostitutes) aren’t bad.
See, now, this is where I take a turn from rational and calm exposition and go down Bitter Lane. I’ll try to do a U-turn. My apologies.
I would like to think that this country is ready for an African American president, especially since that means that soon we might be ready for a female president. Back when I was declaring Barack the winner, I also decided that whoever got the Democratic nomination was going to win the election, because considering Bush’s popularity, in addition to the current economic situation and everything else, I just don’t see our country electing another Republican, even one as “middle of the road” as McCain (don’t get me started on him and gender equality, because I’ve already blogged about that and don’t want to go there again).
There are still four-ish months left before we find out if my initial prediction was correct. Is it too late to add that I haven’t explored any of the candidates since my favorite dropped out of the race (John Edwards) and have no idea who I’ll vote for?
If anyone is still reading (my guess is that and might hang on to the end here), feel free to leave comments of a discussionary nature.