When I was young, around 12 or so, I called a car dealership, and, having a high voice at the time, I sounded to the salesman like a woman. I'll never forget just how condescending he became after I said 'hello'. It was 'dear this' and 'dear that', and I think he even spoke slower so I could understand his fancy car talk. It was curious at the time, but I definitely put the pieces together when my Mom told me about sexual harassment stories in the corporate banking world in Florida. It was also around the time of the Anita Hill hearings, so I was somewhat aware of the larger political currents. I have used the words 'bitch' angrily a few times in my life during adolescence, and it sounded like an abuse of power, almost like a hate crime in itself. I don't know why, but that's just how it felt, and I was always deeply ashamed of myself. Being a straight liberal guy, and being subjected to masculine imagery of bloodthirsty soldiers, violent football cops and robbers shows and rapacious and immensely wealthy tycoons as aspirational idols is deeply confusing. It sort of makes you think that your value system is somehow wrong, that you can't attract a girl and be successful unless you adopt one of these weird power positions, that sensitivity or intelligence or creativity isn't strength. In my completely anecdotal mental survey of girls I've dated, it seems true for conservative girls and false for liberal ones (thank you, George Bush, for the resurgence of liberalism).
It's why 'four eyes' in an insult in school and why geek culture and science fiction fans are treated like freaks. I'm obviously generalizing here, but I get why a lot of guys, even liberal guys, would miss the simple frequently overlooked misogyny in our culture. I happen to obsess over it a bit because I'm fascinated with identity politics, but I get why people don't see it.
Still, if you're a male political strategist, wake up. This is a woman's election. People are tired of bullying, war, and marshal glory, and they want a different kind of power, one that isn't full of irresponsible certitude, sleazy salesmanship, and macho fakery that is the hallmark of the current boys club in DC.
And that's why I'm with Garance and Digby on this Hillary Clinton gender card travesty. This country has been dominated by asshole white men for a long time, and if you don't think that Clinton's meek discussion of her gender at an all-female university she attended is a reasonable point of discussion you are not going to like the 2008 elections. Here's Digby.
Every presidential candidate, and most other politicians, since 1980, have been bowing and scraping before this constituency. But for some reason, the hunting trips and codpieces and brush clearing and all that metaphorical crotch measuring isn't considered playing "the gender card." It's just considered the normal political pander to an aggrieved minority vote: the poor white males who've been treated terribly by all those powerful women and minorities and gays. What could be wrong with that?
I'm sorry, but this is truly sexist crap. Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney are out there one upping each other on who will be the most macho sadists among the crowd of warring GOP thugs. Hillary goes to her alma mater and says that her education at the women's college prepared her to do battle with the political boys club and the gasbags' eyes roll back in their heads and they start drooling and whining that she's she's broken the rules.
Well boo fucking hoo. The rules are changing. Get used to it.
Half of this country is female and they've noticed, in case these manly men haven't, that presidential politics is a very exclusive a boys club and we don't find it all that odd to mention it. Certainly, if it's ok for politicians to literally walk around with a codpiece to show their masculine bona fides, I don't think it's out of line for a female candidate to speak to a younger generation of women at her college and take a little bit of pride in the institution and her own accomplishments --- since she does happen to be the first serious female contender for president in the whole history of the country. Excuse me for thinking she has the damned right to do it.
I saw Darcy Burner and Donna Edwards get defeated last cycle because of subtle quasi-sexist slurs. And I'm seeing chuckles on the trail over things like this.
One older man at an event here, the last stop on Hillary Clinton's "Middle Class Express" bus tour, had a bit of beauty advice for the Democratic senator.
Ernest Kellenberger, 84, brought a printout from the Internet with several pictures of ... Paris Hilton.
He said Clinton should copy Hilton's hairstyle, pointing out a picture of the heiress with an upsweep.
He said Clinton having her hair "all hanging down like she just got out of bed" isn't going to work, especially in foreign countries
Playing the gender card? Yeah, it's been done, for every single President in history. I'm going to enjoy watching the male spasms of cowardice unleashed if Clinton wins, as she's sworn in and represents the more than half the population that is interrupted on a regular basis by men. It's probably the only part of the Clinton Presidency that I'll like, but it's not a small deal.
I don't know what kind of post-debate polling is out, but I imagine that the gender gap is just going to get wider after this first episode of woman-bashing, if the polls move at all (which I don't think they will). It's telling that Obama and Edwards and their boys club campaigns would be tone deaf to this and consistently think that the mediasphere, dominated by pundits, is where the primary voters are. Sorry, guys, they aren't paying attention to MSNBC, they are too busy being harassed on the street and condescended to at non-clothing retail outlets. Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus, and pundits are assholes.