Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

16 January 2008

Once more with feeling...

The recent bickering by the Obama & Clinton camps over race was so petty that it bordered on turning people off their historic campaigns. I'm happy that they have called a truce on the MLK Jr. and LBJ thing. BUT I do hope that this does not mean they won't discuss race and gender issues on the campaign trail. Issues where we all know that they most likely agree, yet might have different ways to resolve issues of the feminization of poverty, the lack of black men in college, and immigration reform.

I have a love-dislike relationship with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, but I do believe he got it right yesterday:

That's why the current press focus on the sniping between the campaigns is a dangerous distraction. Candidates are tired; the campaign is close. Advisors argue for going negative; surrogates take cheap shots. Little things get magnified out of proportion, and start rubbing the raw wounds of race and gender.

The problem with this stuff is that it can easily get out of hand, embittering supporters on both sides. We're having a vital competition inside the team about who should be the first-string quarterback. And it's great that the competition is stiff and the competitors all highly skilled. But the battle for position shouldn't be so bitter that it divides the team and makes it impossible for the winner to bring us together to meet the real competition.

I do think that supporters get out of control, but it is up to the candidates to either let them go (Clinton's staffer who suggested that Obama sold drugs) or publicly denounce their statements. I know the temptation of slander in the name of loyalty is high and so easy to fall into, especially when the media asks you leading questions and would rather run with your slur than with anything of substance.

Then we had my crush, Bob Herbert in the NYTimes. Bob, each time I think you've written something that is just the epitome of brilliant, you top yourself:

Little attention is being paid to the toll that misogyny takes on society in general, and women and girls in particular.

Its forms are limitless. Hard-core pornography is a multibillion-dollar business, having spread far beyond the stereotyped raincoat crowd to anyone with a laptop and a password. Crowds of crazed photographers risk life and limb to get shots of Paris Hilton or Britney Spears without their underwear. At New York Jets home games, men regularly gather at Gate D to urge female fans to expose themselves.

In its grimmest aspects, misogyny manifests itself in hideous violence — from brutal beatings and rape to outright torture and murder. Fifteen months ago, a gunman invaded an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania, separated the girls from the boys, and then shot 10 of the girls, killing five.

The cable news channels revel in stories about women (almost always young and attractive) who come to a gruesome end at the hands of violent men. The stories seldom, if ever, raise the issue of misogyny, which permeates not just the crimes themselves, but the coverage as well.

Brava! Brava! Here! Here!

People sometimes ask me (still!) if men can be feminists. Bob is one of the best examples that yes, they can and do it beautifully.

Technorati tags: race, gender, feminism

2 comments:

Excellent ongoing commentary on the Obama/Clinton non-debates. I, too, read the Bob Herbert piece and thought, "Right on!" Every time I read a story about a domestic violence murder or the abysmal treatment of women in the military, I think, "Have we made any progress at all?"

Carole Joffe, author of Doctors of Conscience: the Struggle to Provide Abortion Before and After Roe v. Wade, posted over at the blog I edit, Beacon Broadside, about reproductive rights in the current campaigns. I think that it's useful to remind ourselves that the three Democratic front-runners are all pretty good on issues relating to women's autonomy and privacy, but we should still be sure to keep them on their toes!

Thanks--hope you'll come by and check us out.

Jessica Bennett
Blog Editor, Beacon Broadside

Thanks Jessica. I haven't had time to read the blog, but it looks awesome. Dunno why I was surprised that publishers would have a blog, but d'uh to me.