Gloria Steinem's editorial, Women are Never Front-Runners, in Tuesday's New York Times has left me much to chew on. Like everyone else in this country, I can't quite help getting caught up in election mania, particularly the excitement of having the two front-runners in the Democratic party as a black man and a woman.
My friend Adriana sent the article around as food for thought to a group of some of the smartest women I know - and I found the responses incredibly thoughtful indeed. Below I post Danae's response to the piece. What do you think?
"and because there is still no "right" way to be a woman in public power without being considered a you-know-what."
They used this quote on CNN yesterday, and I found it very interesting. moreover my mom and I had a discussion last night about wardrobes and how Clinton has had to find a balance between being seen as too masculine ( i.e. bitchy and therefore intimidating voters) and being seen as too feminine and pretty (and potentially not be taken seriously). However, I don't think this similar dichotomy doesn't exist for Obama. I distinctly remember at the end of the summer/early fall the debates about him being "too white" to attract the black vote, and god knows if he were more culturally black he would not be nearly as far ahead as he is in this campaign because too many white voters would feel alienated.
"because anything that affects males is seen as more serious than anything that affects "only" the female half of the human race;"
This quote stuck out in particular because I think it is one of the pernicious and invisible ways in which sexism exists. It reminds me of Allende's speech for TED--"for every dollar given to a women's program, 20 are given to a men's program".(I wonder if by men's issues she means general issues that effect men more often, for example organizations promoting heart attack research as opposed to ones promoting prostate cancer research, for instance). I remember being shocked after taking my CPR course to later learn that the symptoms of heart attack they taught us to look out for almost exclusively occur in men. The signs for heart attack in female are entirely different (and I still don't know what they are!). I can't help but imagine that perhaps a similar type of hidden racism exists as well, though. I don't know numbers for healthcare, because it's not an issue that is discussed frequently, but I can certainly say for a fact that in world crises (American lives notwithstanding) European lives are considered by the American public to be more valuable than Asian lives, which are in turn more valuable than African lives (at least in terms of the minimum threshold of deaths required for a story to be "big" news). This, I believe, is entirely based on skincolor and not simply the differences in culture from American culture.
Either way, I'm not sure if I entirely agree with Steinem, although I obviously think it is an important issue to explore. I have been wondering for a while now which of the two candidates (Clinton or Obama) will win out, and I honestly don't know which is a bigger stumbling block for most Americans, race or gender. It will be interesting to see what happens! What an exciting race it is turning out to be!