February
5th 2008
Senatorella for President

Posted under: American history, Gender, wankers, women's history

New campaign slogan:  She’s got the smarts and the lady parts!

heathers.jpgIt’s caucus day here in my square state.  While I’m out doing my civic duty, here’s an interesting review by Susan Faludi of a new book called Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary:  Reflections by Women Writers, edited by Susan Morrison.  (H/t to the lovely and talented Amanda Marcotte.)  It sounds like the book should be called Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary by a Bunch of Jealous Heathers, plus a sensible essay by Katha Pollitt, although she’s voting for Barack Obama today.  What is it with Baby Boomers and their pathological envy of the Clintons?  I’ve always assumed that there was no small amount of class bias in the embarassingly obvious ressentiment of Maureen Dowd and the Washington establishment crowd.  Who did those hicks from Arkansas think they were, anyway?  (Well, Little Rock via those hick schools Wellesley, Georgetown, and Yale.)  Faludi’s review is a brief but brilliant foray into the gendered nature of Clinton-obsession, the Hillary version.  (Not that my generation should be let off the hook–although it would be nice if someone other than the obtuse Katie Roiphe were invited to comment, she who dismisses rape and Hillary Clinton because no one she knows has been raped or likes Hillary Clinton.  Well, no one I know likes Katie Roiphe, so there.)

The best part of the review is the introduction, where Faludi makes a counterfactual proposition that highlights the trivial issues the writers in this volume use to judge Hillary Clinton.  Faludi writes, “let’s imagine this book’s concept-30 well-known women writers talk about how they ‘feel’ about Hillary Clinton-applied to 30 male writers and a male presidential candidate. Adjusting for gender, the essay titles would now read: ‘Barack’s Underpants,’ ‘Elect Brother Frigidaire,’ ‘Mephistopheles for President,’ ‘The Road to Codpiece-Gate,’ and so on. Inside, we would find ruminations on the male candidate’s doggy looks and flabby pectorals; musings on such ‘revealing’ traits as the candidate’s lack of interest in backyard grilling, industrial arts and pets; and mocking remarks about his lack of popularity with the cool boys on the playground (i.e., the writers and their ‘friends’). We would hear a great deal of speculation about whether the candidate was really manly or just ‘faking it.’ We would hear a great deal about how the candidate made them feel about themselves as men and whether they could see their manhood reflected in the politician’s testosterone displays.” 

Seriously people, get over it:  it’s not about you–not about your unresolved conflict with your mother, not about your discomfort with ambitious middle-aged women (even if you are one too), and not about your need to pretend you know which superior choices the Senator supposedly should have made instead at any point in her well-documented life.  Cowboy up.  Git ‘er done. 

UPDATE:  Ruth Rosen, who will be appearing at the Berkshire Conference in June to speak on the topic of “Changes and Continuities in U.S. American Feminism, 1890-1990,” offers a different opinion in ”Why Would a Feminist Vote for Obama?”

UPDATE II:  Perez Hilton endorses HRC!  (Hillary Rodham Clinton, not the Human Rights Campaign, although I assume he’s probably cool with both HRCs.)

UPDATE III:  Via Feminist Law Professors, here’s a great commentary on the mysterious, inscrutable origins of Hillary hating at Feminist Philosophers.  I think they’ve gotten to the bottom of it!

10 Comments »

10 Responses to “Senatorella for President”

  1. James Stripes on 05 Feb 2008 at 8:45 am #

    I remember the Nineties–those glorious Clinton years–because I had a good job at PRU (Prestige Research U) or MSU (Mediocre State U), depending on where the line is drawn between these two. When Clinton took office I had health insurance through my spouse, but not through my employment as a 2/3 time teaching assistant who was also doing hourly work for a traveling museum exhibition. When he left office, I had recently lost my job as the highest paid Liberal Arts adjunct at my alma mater because the world renowned department head drew a salary too high to permit the funding of temporary faculty, was collecting unemployment, and no longer had health insurance.

    Half-way through the Clinton era, I attended an academic conference in Washington DC, and in my anger at the failures of the administration’s effort to get its health insurance plan through Congress, combined with its war against Big Tobacco (not a bad war if the other priorities are in order), I staged a protest. I lit a cigar and smoked it as I walked around the White House. The streets were deserted on this misty Sunday morning, and no one noticed the protest. Two years later, the nation would learn that cigars have a different symbolic meaning for Bill (and as a reader of Melville I should have been able to figure that one out for myself). In my despair, I turned to Hunter S. Thompson’s Better Than Sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie in which Bill Clinton is described as no more than a bat boy in Nixon’s League of Evil.

    After Bill was elected in 1992, my employer and professor took the office staff of her museum project out to lunch to celebrate. She likened the coming reign to Kennedy’s Camelot, which she was old enough to remember. I was the oldest of the group and was not yet in pre-school when Kennedy had his brains blown out by the most remarkable bullet in U.S. History, and thus much of her enthusiasm was lost on her audience. That part that remained became buried in the successes of Clinton (and later Tony Blair) in getting through programs that had been proposed by Ronald Reagan (and Maggie Thatcher). These New Liberals were not giving us the world we sought.

    I’m trying very hard not to dislike Hillary Clinton and I like her better than her hubby. My animosity stems not from Boomer envy, but from the recognition that real and lasting change in the political landscape of post-Reagan America does not appear likely behind her leadership. My ballot came in the mail yesterday and I have two weeks to decide whether Clinton or Obama gets one more insignificant vote. In 2000, it was easier to get excited about Bill Bradley, but Super Tuesday finished his run.

  2. Historiann on 05 Feb 2008 at 9:00 am #

    James–thanks for your thoughts. I agree that we need “real and lasting change,” but no one has a magic wand for that, and it’s not enough for someone to say he is a change candidate and all of us just need to clap louder. (I don’t actually think Obama believes that either–but I think that rhetoric, however politically useful, paints him into a corner.) Change happens incrementally, and not always consistently in the same direction. Partisanship is icky sometimes, but it’s also terribly necessary to push a change agenda against entrenched Republican interests.

    Good luck to you as you make your decision. I’ll happily fall in line with whomever the eventual nominee is. They’re both quality people, and either one will be a good president, and I hope, a great president.

  3. Notorious Ph.D. on 05 Feb 2008 at 9:37 am #

    Here on Super Tuesday, and I’m still undecided, because my favored candidate dropped out already, and I haven’t yet adjusted.

    I think the focus on gender would only be fair if we focused equally on race. Which we won’t. And, of course, *nobody* is talking about class. Except my candidate who dropped out.

    (And yes: Katie Roiphe is a twit.)

  4. Historiann on 05 Feb 2008 at 9:40 am #

    Notorious: yes, I was an Edwards girl, too…thanks for the backup on Roiphe. Good luck with your decision. Just think: as hard as the choice is, they’re both great candidates that Democrats should be proud of.

  5. Heather Munro Prescott on 05 Feb 2008 at 10:38 am #

    Here’s a link to Robin Morgan’s update to her classic essay “Goodbye to All That” which gives some interesting thoughts on why a candidate’s gender has been talked about more than a candidate’s race:

    http://www.womensmediacenter.com/ex/020108.html

  6. Jeff on 06 Feb 2008 at 4:42 am #

    I think Senator Clinton is a sincere person. I think she wants to change Washington. But so does every candidate! I have been working on Capitol Hill for almost 20 years, and non, I mean non, of the Presidents who promise change ever really accomplish it. So, let’s get past that tired mantra of “change” and talk about policy. Interest v. interest, and Madison said, is what Washington DC is all about and will remain so. Frankly, I don’t want to see Ms. Clinton win. I am tired of the Clinton style of politics. So go Obama! But then, of course, McCain is probably going to win the general election regardless of who the democrates move forward. Either way, I just hope we don’t get a President who entertains himself or herself by being “over friendly” with the White House help, or who can’t speak the English language and tends to invade countries before we have any idea what the end game is.

  7. Historiann on 06 Feb 2008 at 6:02 am #

    Heather–thanks for the great link. And Jeff, thanks for stopping over and commenting. However, I think you’re a little too cynical about change–it’s a hard thing to accomplish, and it happens only incrementally, and not always in the same direction, but it happens and Presidents can direct it. I would say that this country has been changed greatly by George W. Bush–not in any direction I approve of, but his presidency has been a powerful agent of change.

  8. Feminist Law Professors » Blog Archive » Susan Faludi, “Hillary and the Feminine Gaze, Up Close and Personal” on 06 Feb 2008 at 12:29 pm #

    [...] don’t agree with everything Faludi says but I think she’s mostly correct, and so is Historiann (even though the Heathers reference made me flinch – sorry, Historiann!). See also the related post [...]

  9. Professor Zero on 22 Apr 2008 at 4:57 pm #

    I wasn’t old enough to vote but I did walk precincts for Shirley Chisholm in 1972 so Hillary isn’t the first woman presidential candidate I’ve had the chance to support.

    I’m just not into NAFTA, not into the Patriot Act, not into the Iraq war, and Clinton’s record on these things does not reflect my politics.

    I’m also Jewish and not an Israel supporter, so I’m used to
    being called self-hating for what I consider to be objective political views.

    I’m not saying I won’t vote for HRC against McCain. I’m only saying that the reason I was for Kucinich was not because he is a man or because he is white. My favorite candidate now is Cynthia McKinney and she is a woman.

  10. Historiann on 22 Apr 2008 at 5:24 pm #

    Fair enough!

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