Great, But Not Good Enough

22 11 2008

Have you seen the 1980s movie, Wildcats? I just bought a copy from the garage sale that is our local Circuit City and I was watching it tonight. In one scene, Goldie Hawn has to outlast every single guy in a race in order to be good enough. While it is in fact a work of fiction, it elegantly illustrates the unreasonable standard to which women are being held twenty years later. It isn’t enough that we’re as able as any – we are asked to be better than any other.

The sexism in our culture has become subtle, but distinct nevertheless. Instead of facing outright discrimination by being told a woman “cannot” do a job, we hear that she is not qualified “enough”. The ability to perform a job is the single greatest criteria to which any applicant should be judged. It is unfair to ask that a woman not only be able to do the job, but that she needs to do it better than any man who might want it – ever.

The thing is, if employers wait long enough, eventually will they find someone even more qualified to fill a position than the person they were going to hire. On a long enough time line, if the most qualified applicant is a man, eventually a woman will come along who is even more qualified – and vice versa. If an accomplished woman applies for a job, and no other applicant can boast better qualifications, shouldn’t she get the position? The answer is yes, but an employer can simply decide to continue searching – not just for a better applicant, but for a better applicant who is a man. This is the important distinction, which should not be confused for lowering standards or not choosing the most qualified applicant. What we are seeing is that employers are finding women who could do the job well, and better than any man who has applied, but the employer actually wants to wait to find a man. It is this desire to wait for a man rather than hire the adequately qualified woman that is most concerning, and testifies to the still present sexism in our culture. Just ask Hillary Clinton.

Women do not have higher morals than men, we do not have more intelligence than men, and we do not have better ideas than men. What we do have is high standards, intelligence, and good ideas. It is time, right here, right now, to end the fairy tale standards to which women are being held.


Hillary Clinton: Why She is Uniquely Qualified as Secretary of State

21 11 2008

THANK YOU Jennifer Donahue!

It’s like there is this glossing-over going on, and that somehow HRC is just barely qualified to even be in any elected office, instead of being an international figure and one of the most significant, living or dead, women’s rights leaders.

I know no one likes talking about sexism anymore, because clearly women are allowed to hold the jobs and offices of men, so sexism is over (insert sarcasm here). Though the strategy may take a more subtle tone (“I’ve got nothing against a woman, but She’s not *qualified*” – “Well, she isn’t less qualified…” – “Not good enough!”), it exists in many homes across our nation. Some women are having conversations with their men and discovering they don’t see eye-to-eye afterall. We’ve been resting on our Third Wave laurels, and it’s time to dig in our heels again. Whatever happens with Hillary Rodham Clinton next, the supporters around the world of women’s rights will be watching.
More on Hillary Clinton
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Reconciliation without Truth

21 11 2008

“Why not repeat the truth? Barack Obama’s election was a real breakthrough, without precedent–something he did by himself with the help of a million workers who were not working for Hillary Clinton.”

See, now when I read something like that I feel really pissed. The only reason (ok, the biggest reason) a lot of HRC supporters voted for BHO was because she encouraged it. Clinton asked them to support the Dem nominee and vote BHO – and a lot of supporters did. The vast majority, in fact, of former Hillary supporters swung hard right and voted Obama. This was out of loyalty to Clinton, not Democrats in general. Disregarding that voting block and saying, “Hey, we coulda done it without ya!” seems really stupid. If for no other reason, it fortifies that group of voters into looking for another candidate in 2012 and undermining Obama’s efforts in the years to come. And if he hadn’t needed them, he wouldn’t have bothered recruiting Hillary during the campaign.

The Government in Exile: What Obama Can Do for Women

7 11 2008

“Despite the rise of women as political contenders and voters in the 2008 election season, the U.S. is woefully behind other nations in terms of parity in representation. Over the last decade, the United States has fallen from 47th in the world in women’s political representation to 71st — behind such stalwarts of democracy as Iraq (33rd), Sudan (65th) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (57th). Only weeks ago, Rwanda made global history when it became the first nation electing women to outnumber men in parliament.”

“On the heels of an election that was often touted for its historic significance for women — a constituency that voted 56% in his favor on November 4th — the Obama administration would be wise to build on that momentum by addressing the struggling status for women in the U.S.”

Interesting article.

“What do Undecided Women Want?”

3 11 2008

Let’s ignore the inherent flaw in the question (that “women” all want the same anything – let alone those who are admittedly torn about something.)

“It was really crushing when Hillary lost…I felt like [Obama] could have spoken out and said okay, enough is enough, stop with the sexist comments, the misogyny, but I didn’t hear that from him, but a lot of us did feel that although we were loyal, lifetime Democrats we could not vote for Barack Obama … It’s just the fact that they told a whole segment of American society to go away, we’ll win the election without you… it was just incredibly insulting to so many women in this country….but again, it’s the policies, and that may be why I eventually wind up voting the Democratic ticket in November, but either way I won’t be very happy with my vote. Either way I vote this year it will be with great reluctance and with a lot of sadness.”

Amen, sista.

I have never been undecided about who I want as president, Obama or McCain. For me it has always been Obama. However, who I want to see as president and who I vote for are not necessarily the same.

As far as I’m concerned, I lost this race back in August. Now it’s just choosing between a royal jackass and a spineless jackass. I mean, Obama sounds good – but he ain’t gonna be THAT good. Others like me promised ourselves that we would not vote for the candidate who gutted Hillary’s campaign. If we were to uphold that promise, that would mean voting third party or voting McCain-Palin. One is a vote for progressive ideas, the other is just a protest vote. I’m not voting McCain-Palin. Then again, HRC did practically beg her supporters to vote for Obama. To ignore that call would be a disservice to HRC.

So, you could call me torn about who I will vote for, but I am not torn one bit about who I would rather see as POTUS. And I get that my candidate lost – I do – but that loss and how it came about is exactly what drives this ambivalence. Obviously Obama is closer to Clinton on policy issues. Obviously Palin being anywhere near that much power is a feminist nightmare. It isn’t about who would be the better President – that’s no contest. But if there are no consequences, microscopic as my vote is, for treating an experienced, intelligent, articulate, progressive woman candidate like dirt, then what’s the friggin point?

And it isn’t about calculating either – I understand that every vote counts, and that there is no guarantee that Obama can win without my vote. By the same token, I refuse to take responsibility for 99,999,999 other people’s votes. It is my decision, as their votes are theirs.

I’ll be happy to see a non-white male become POTUS, but don’t pretend like this vote is easy for former Hillary supporters and loyalists. Respect that passion, as I respect Obama supporter passion.

Palin’s Look Is Our Hypocrisy, Not Hers

25 10 2008

Thankfully, Judy Muller has picked up on the hypocrisy of the Palin shopping spree story:

“I remember how shocked I was when I learned that the hair and makeup person who worked for one of network television’s top news anchors was paid a yearly salary of hundreds of thousands of dollars. But there is a reason that particular female anchor looks fabulous, day in and day out. Does it have anything to do with journalism? Of course not. No more than stiletto heels have anything to do with politics. Except that we make it so.”

Absolutely. The scrutiny of Palin’s appearance is excessive and discriminatory. Biden, McCain and Obama are not subjected to the same criticism and the same kind of magnifying glass, which to me makes it clear that the level of opinionated interest is dictated by Palin’s gender, not her policies.

The shame is on those who escalate this conversation to a topic of heavy rotation instead of a passing side story. It should be a topic that remains relatively under the radar instead of making banner headlines.

Bottom line: get real – if you want to dislike the McCain-Palin ticket then pay attention to their policies. If you don’t vote for them then they can’t win. There is absolutely no difference between a vote from someone who really really super duper wants that candidate to win and a vote from someone who is torn about whether or not to vote for that candidate. Don’t mistake moaning and groaning about how ridiculous the candidate is, or his running mate, for the power of a vote.

Talk is cheap – if you really want to make a big deal out of how ridiculous Palin or McCain are, then come up with an argument that will actually convince someone to NOT vote for them. Otherwise you’re just wasting your breath.

Re-Affirmative Action

26 09 2008

“No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.”

In an article in The National Review, conservative columnist Kathleen Parker has called on Sarah Palin to give up her seat at the political table and to drop out of the race. It cites her flawed interviews, panic-driven press moments (what few there have been) and her lack of experience in economic matters, which have become rather important recently, if you hadn’t heard – what with the biggest bank failure in American history this week:

“Quick study or not, she doesn’t know enough about economics and foreign policy to make Americans comfortable with a President Palin should conditions warrant her promotion.”

No sh*t, Sherlock. Congratulations – you’ve just caught up to where the rest of us were a month ago. It only took one Wikipedia article to convey her major strengths and weaknesses, but you just had to rally around the skirt. Did you rally around Palin? No. You rallied around her skirt. Well, for better or worse, she’s your man, so don’t get a jelly belly now. There are plenty of arguments to make for the McCain-Palin ticket. Here’s one: It is monumental that a woman would be in the position to serve in the office of the highest executive – no BS, that’s a really big deal even if it IS only symbolic. Symbols are what inspire the rest of us when we’re just getting to the age of reason. No six, seven, or eight year old will remember the specifics of the McCain-Palin administration. What they will remember is that the vice president was a woman. That she exists in that capacity will prove not that a woman can be a president, but that there is no reason why a woman can’t be a president – a far greater lesson.

Those of us who have already reached the age of reason, however, have facts to contend with. Palin’s views are enough to disqualify her from my short list of feminist leaders, but those views aren’t why some people are calling for her to step down:

“Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.”

What’s worse is that the recommended course of action is fueled by the old “take one for the team” mentality. This is always a convenient line of logic for sexists looking to get rid of a girl on the team. In doing so it totally undermines those qualities for which Palin has be lauded ever since stepping into the national spotlight. Mainly, her toughness and committment to her career:

“Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.”

Oh really?

Tell that to every anti-feminist who has ever criticised women in general because they reportedly lack the capacity to have a family AND a career.

Tell that to every mother who encourages her child to miss school or blow off schoolwork in order to focus on learning a trade because their school districts aren’t worth a damn thing.

Tell that to any mother who is also a stripper, or any other socially queer occupation, in order to make ends meet.

Tell that to any mother who has chosen adoption for her child, not because it was in the best interest of the mother, but because it was in the best interest of the child.

Tell that to those who criticize single mothers who leave their children in early-bird and after-school programs so their kids don’t have to be latchkey kids, coming home to an empty house.

Tell that to those who criticize single mothers with latchkey kids, coming home to an empty house.

Tell that to those employers who reprimand and fire working moms for their lack of punctuality instead of giving them flexible schedules.

Tell that to the critics of mothers who go back to school in order to get a job that pays a salary that could help her child go to college someday, and in the process has little energy to spend with her young child every night.

Tell that to the moms who leave toxic, low paying work environments in order to preserve their self-respect, which her children pick up on, only to be without a job and broke for weeks or months on end.

Tell that to the moms who stay at toxic, low paying work environments in order to gather a paycheck that makes ends meet.

Tell that to the pregnant woman who cannot afford to go to the doctor, but does anyway to ensure her baby’s health, and consequently runs up debt which the state later pays off for her.

Tell that to the mother who cannot afford to go to the doctor for cancer screenings, thereby putting her family in danger of being without a mother.

The fact is, many people criticize mothers who put family first. It is a constant battle to defend one’s choices against one’s critics. The fact remains, they are our choices to make and we do the best we can with the resources available to us.

Sarah Palin has every right to run in this race. We cannot blame her for being elected, because she could not do it without our votes. Anyone can run, not just anyone can win. If you’re really furious at her presence on the ticket, don’t vote for her ticket. It’s as simple as that.

Sarah Palin shouldn’t drop out of the race any more than John McCain should. She is totally wrong for this country’s leadership, but she has every right to run as the Vice Presidential candidate. Sarah Palin may not be a Rhodes Scholar, but she isn’t stupid. She is one of 50 people in the entire United States who was elected to run an entire state. Stupid people are not elected to high executive offices. Sheepish people who do exactly as their told by their backers are elected to high executive offices, but they need a few functioning brain cells. She was elected to city councilwoman, then mayor, and then governor. This woman knows how to schmooze, throw fundraisers, and make promises she’ll never keep.

I’m not saying that she’s done her jobs well, or that she should have been picked as John McCain’s runningmate, but saying she should drop out of the race for the country’s sake because her half of the ticket isn’t polling well is almost as sexist as her getting the on the ticket in the first place. She’s a politician – she has bad days; bad hair days, bad gaffe days, bad speech days, bad interview days, etc. She may be as bad as George W. Bush – or worse. The mistake we made with him, however, was laughing and cringing at his idiotic remarks during his first term in office, dismissing him as stupid. He served two full terms, led our country into two wars without blinking, and took an economy from surplus to debt. In fact, we had so much surplus that what to do with it was a major portion of the presidential debates in 2000:

Interviewer: “Let’s suppose that the projected surpluses in your tax plan fail to materialize in full or in part. What part of your tax package gets dropped first?”

Bush: “I refuse to accept the premise that surpluses are going to decline if I’m the president. I think they’re going to increase, because my plan will increase productivity by cutting marginal rates.”

The signs were there when Bush-Cheney ran in 2000. The signs are there for McCain-Palin in 2008. Asking her to step down because of news media hiccups, even if she is as dumb as she seems, is ridiculous. It’s like if an all male construction crew was forced to hire a champion female bodybuilder with no construction experience, and then a month later fired her because she had no training.

Our country needs an architect, not another construction crew.