Clinton & sexism

July 2, 2008 at 10:09 am | Posted in Democratic Party Presidential Primary, Hillary Clinton, U.S. Politics | Leave a comment
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In a medium that allows for infinite interpretations of reality, we can’t be surprised that the internet has facilitated some wildly different representations of politicians. At the beginning of the Democratic Primary, Barack Obama was either a wide-eyed, hope-mongering idealist, or a Bambi-esque neophyte without the strength or experience to be President. In turn, Hillary Clinton was either a smart and savvy politician running a flawless campaign or a power-hungry, say-nothing centrist who couldn’t articulate why she wanted to be President.

However diverse these portrayals were and however removed they might have been from reality, it’s important to remember that they weren’t just invented out of thin air; they were constructed by columnists, talking-heads and bloggers who built their own realities based on what they saw of the primary contest.

It’s a shame, then, that part one of Melissa McEwan and Maureen McCluskey’s CiF piece on the ‘destroying’ of Hillary Clinton in the liberal blogosphere doesn’t provide any background to indicate where this loathing came from. Even before her campaign for President, Clinton was never a popular figure: she was a leading member of the uber-centrist DLC, she voted for the war, she took money from special interests and her staff included union-busters and corporate shills. As her campaign began to smell defeat, she then started making statements that seemed unbecoming of a Democrat. She argued only herself and Senator McCain were qualified to become Commander-in-Chief. She fell short of confirming that Obama wasn’t a Muslim. She repeated the right-wing theme that her opponent was an ‘elitist’ – in spite all the years he’d spent working in poor parts of Chicago. Finally, in one of her last arguments about electability, she claimed the nomination should go to her because she won the votes of more white folks.

These actions prompted a smorgasbord of vicious, dehumanising and frequently sexist tit-for-tat responses, and McEwan recorded these diligently during the primary. But by ignoring the fact that genuine grievances existed, McEwan & McCluskey give the impression, whether intentionally or otherwise, that the prime motivation for attacking Clinton was sexism. Instead, I think the prime motivation was the poor conduct of her campaign, which incited a lot of anger and recrimination and all too frequently mutated into sexist attacks.

If I were them, I would’ve argued that even with genuine points of disagreement and disgust with the Clinton campaign, some previously upstanding members of the blogosphere still sank into the swamp of sexism, and that when seemingly decent, progressive people can still do that, there remains a long way to go before gender equality is achieved.

Image by Flickr user sskennel (Creative Commons)

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