March 29, 2008

This is what we're talking about

From the Wall Street Journal: At the Barricades In the Gender Wars

...Just as Barack Obama's campaign has been empowering for African-Americans, Sen. Clinton's run has inspired women across the country, drawing millions to the polls and putting her in a neck-and-neck battle for the nomination. She has already gone farther than any woman before her -- a source of great pride for her women supporters.

But her campaign has also prompted slurs and inflammatory language that many women thought had been banished from public discourse. Some women worry that regardless of how the election turns out, the resistance to Sen. Clinton may embolden some men to resist women's efforts to share power with them in business, politics and elsewhere.


Katherine Putnam, president of Package Machinery Co., a West Springfield, Mass., equipment manufacturer, recalls that at a lunch she attended recently, a group of male chief executives "started talking about what an awful b---- Hillary was and how they'd never vote for her." She says she kept quiet. "I didn't want to jeopardize my relationship with them," she says. "But their remarks were a clear reminder that although I could sit there eating and drinking with them, and work with them, instinctively their reaction to me isn't positive."
What astonished me when I read this paragraph was the freedom the men felt to say the things they said even as a woman sat with them. She was invisible to them, as far as they were concerned, or such sentiment is so easily accepted, it didn't even cross their minds that they might be offending any woman within earshot.
Jean Yarnal, who has worked in local government for 41 years, says she was unnerved recently when a man she knew came into her office and asked for help with a zoning issue. When talk turned to politics, she says, he denounced Sen. Clinton as a "lesbian" and used several slurs. Ms. Yarnal says she didn't respond, but thought to herself, "That's the last time I do you a favor."

"It's like the feelings against women are getting stronger," says Ms. Yarnal. "It's like men are saying, 'We want to put you women in your place -- watch out, don't go too fast.' "

Charles McCollester, a professor of industrial relations at Indiana University of Pennsylvania who works with union members, says he is ready for a woman president, "just not this woman." He supports Sen. Obama. "Several of my really close female friends feel this is unleashing some kind of antiwoman sentiment. But I don't see it. We love women. I just never cared much for Hillary. She has set out to become as male as all the rest of the boys."
And this is really depressing:
Some young women who support Sen. Obama -- sometimes to the chagrin of their pro-Hillary mothers -- say they too are troubled by the gender gap in the workplace. But many say they don't feel comfortable being called "feminists," and that they look to different role models than Sen. Clinton.

"It isn't easy being a woman in academia," says Amanda Moniz, a 36-year-old Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Michigan. "I want a woman candidate who is strong, but also feminine, and who doesn't feel she has to be tougher than men to succeed," she says. "Although Hillary has achieved a lot on her own, she wouldn't be where she was if not for her husband -- and that isn't an inspiring lesson."

Alexa Steinberg, 25, a graduate student at the University of New Hampshire, says she recognizes "that women only make 78 cents for every male dollar, and there are still hurdles for women that I'll face." She says she thinks it's only a matter of time before she'll be supporting a female candidate for U.S. president -- but it won't be Sen. Clinton. "Politically and personally, she's trying to take on the male persona, and isn't a woman in the way I want a woman candidate to be," she says.
Excuse me while I go bang my head against the wall.

1 comment:

Retired Syd said...

I know what you mean (about banging your head against the wall). For all those men in that article to feel like it's ok to bash Hillary in such ways they would never bash a man--it sucks.

And I do find it VERY disturbing that women are afraid to call themselves feminists. We all want fairness and to be viewed equally as men in the workplace, but god forbid someone should call us a feminist!