So yesterday I was e-mailing back and forth with an old pal, and she wrote:
I keep waiting for a courageous blogger to point out that Obama has yet to repudiate his surrogate, speaking at an Obama fundraiser, who called Sen. Clinton a “fucking whore.”
Now, I ask you: If a Clinton supporter, at a Clinton fund-raising event, had uttered an insult toward Obama that was the racial equivalent of the sexist slam “fucking whore” — and I think we all know what that would be — I daresay that Clinton, by now, might have distanced herself from the remark. To say the least.
Oh — wait. I forgot. Racism is awful; sexism is OK.
I don’t know about you, but whomever one backs in this race, the sexism that is so acceptable, so widespread, has just sickened me.
Yeah, me too. I’m not emotionally engaged with Hillary, and I think she deserves a certain amount of what’s being dished out. But she has a point. A short and incomplete roundup, from New York magazine, in an essay that unfortunately goes downhill from here:
A greatest-hits selection provides a measure of the misogyny: There’s Republican axman Roger Stone’s anti-Hillary 527 organization, Citizens United Not Timid, or CUNT. And the Facebook group Hillary Clinton: Stop Running for President and Make Me a Sandwich, which has 44,000-plus members. And the “Hillary Nutcracker” with its “stainless-steel thighs.” And Clinton’s Wikipedia page, which, according to The New Republic, is regularly vandalized with bathroom-stall slurs like “slut” and “cuntbag.” And the truly horrible YouTube video of a KFC bucket that reads HILLARY MEAL DEAL: 2 FAT THIGHS, 2 SMALL BREASTS, AND A BUNCH OF LEFT WINGS. And Rush Limbaugh worrying whether the country is ready to watch a woman age in the White House (as though nearly every male politician has not emerged portly, wearied, and a grandfatherly shade of gray). And those two boors who shouted, “Iron my shirts!” from the sidelines in New Hampshire.
That’s the first I’d heard of Citizens United Not Timid, and I get around. It’s a 527 organization, “to educate the American public about what Hillary Clinton really is.” Charming. I grow a little weary of calls for A to denounce B — having the same general views as another does not make me my brother’s keeper — but it’s nice to have groups like this around. With Citizens United Not Timid in the world, I no longer have to listen to right-wing whining about Michael Moore.
But my friend is right. Can you imagine, even for a minute, a 527 called New Information Guaranteed Greatness Elucidating Reality, “to educate the American public about what Barack Obama really is”? If “cunt” is the female equivalent of “nigger,” how often do you hear Obama called the latter? Some dim bulb in Kentucky refers to him as “this boy” and has to apologize within hours. But insulting Hillary with sexist jokes gets you a high-paying job on the network news:
The frat boys at MSNBC portrayed Clinton as a castrating scold, with Tucker Carlson commenting, “Every time I hear Hillary Clinton speak, I involuntarily cross my legs,” and Chris Matthews calling her male endorsers “castratos in the eunuch chorus.” Matthews also dubbed Clinton “the grieving widow of absurdity,” saying, of her presidential candidacy and senatorial seat, “She didn’t win there on her merit. She won because everybody felt, ‘My God, this woman stood up under humiliation.’ ” While that may be partly true—Hillary’s approval ratings soared in the wake of l’affaire Lewinsky—Matthews’s take reduced her universally recognized political successes to rewards for public sympathy, as though Clinton’s intelligence and long record of public service count for nothing. Would a male candidate be viewed so reductively? Many have argued that the media don’t like Clinton simply because they don’t like Clinton—even her devotees will admit she arrives with a complete set of overstuffed baggage—much in the same way they made up their mind about Al Gore back in 2000 and ganged up on him as a prissy, uptight know-it-all. But whatever is behind the vitriol, it has taken crudely sexist forms.
Part of it is human nature. I used to work for a gay man, who could, on occasion, be a real jerk. (He, too, had a problem with strong women. One of the strong women in the newsroom once told me, in a private moment, “I want to grab him and say, ‘I’m not your MOTHER, asshole.'”) I admit, when I was angry with him, I’d sometimes refer to him as a “misogynist fag.” Someone called me on it, and I thought it over and decided I would now refer to him as a misogynist jerk. (Even though I was dancing in gay bars when he was still pretending to be straight.) But you get the idea: It’s easy to express an ugly emotion in ugly language. You’d hope this would only happen in private moments, but then, we can’t all be Chris Matthews.
So here’s my question for the floor today: How comfortable are you with the cracks about Hillary’s fat butt, lesbian vibe and stainless-steel thighs? Whether you support her or not, at what station do you get off the train? (We’ll assume, to all of our credit, that we don’t ride it all the way to Citizens United Not Timid.) Is there room for chivalry in a presidential race? And any other topics you want to bring up.
Me, I gotta go to the gym. I missed three weightlifting classes in the last 10 days, rationalizing that because I was on my bike most of those days, I wouldn’t pay for the skips. Au contraire; my hammies felt like splintery plywood, only less flexible. But before I go, some bloggage:
Inside baseball, but I found Ken Doctor’s suggestions for jazzing up newspaper-corporation boards to be pretty dead-on.
Tbogg got a new puppy. Now he has three basset hounds to walk. Tbogg is insane, but at least his house has extra cuteness.
Finally, a Metafilter post that rounds up pretty much everything you ever wanted to know about wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube men, aka “airdancers.”
Off to stretch the hams.