by Marcus Sakey
I'm a diehard feminist.
Because that's a trigger-word these days, I guess I better tell you what it means to me. Simply put, it's the belief that men and women should be afforded the same rights and opportunities. Everybody gets an equal shot, everybody gets treated with basic respect and dignity. Period.
What the word does not mean is that men and women are the same, that our differences are something we should ignore. I understand the ideological basis for the argument, the idea that we are people first and gender second, and that acknowledging gender gives rise to hierarchy. But that's rhetoric, and it's crap. We aren't people first. Our identities are inextricably linked to our gender, with all the biological and sociological differences that entails.
And I think that's great.
The reason I bring that up is that I gotta say, I've been startled by the sexism I've witnessed lately. The topic? Sarah Palin, of course.
Sean raised a number of interesting points about her selection as McCain's running mate. I tend to agree with him; I can't imagine why someone who supported Clinton would vote for McCain, and I'm stunned at the suggestion that a significant portion of America is so fevered in their enthusiasm for having a woman in the White House that they will vote for a uterus instead of a policy. To me, that's as sexist as it comes.
Maybe I'm missing something, and if you feel like I am, I hope you'll try to explain it to me. But the idea of voting for someone primarily because of their gender seems the equivalent of being friends with someone because they're black. The idea is offensive. You don't pick your friends by skin color, and you don't pick your leaders by gender.
I have posted before about my frustration with the campaign Clinton ran. But it would never have occurred to me, had she won, to vote for McCain because of his gender. So why is the opposite an okay sentiment?
Hell, why is it even okay to say in public? Imagine the reverse.
And while we're on the topic of sexism, how about the media coverage of Palin? Yeah, I get that she's a little thin on credentials, that there isn't a lot of political backstory to dig into. But is anyone else offended that every news story seems to mention, within the first two paragraphs, that she's a wife and a mother of five?
Should that information be in the story somewhere? I suppose. But stories about Obama don't generally mention his wife and daughters above the fold. More like the last paragraph, which is where that kind of information belongs.
Worse, I've seen a number of opinion pieces that suggest that the fact that she is a mother has some bearing on her job performance. Some think it a positive thing, some a negative. Me, I gotta wonder--when she's on a diplomatic mission to Iran, how do her children come into the equation? And if they do, do Obama's as well? Should we vote based on whose are better dressed, better behaved?
What do you think, folks? Am I crazy to be wound up by all of this? Am I looking at it the wrong way?