Hillary Clinton finally conceded defeat. No surprise to me. I got it right because I’m a cynic with the simple-minded ability to realize what has been true in this country for a zillion years: Race trumps gender.
Hillary Clinton finally conceded defeat. No surprise to me. I predicted last year – long before Barack Obama’s star took off – that he would beat Clinton in the primaries.
It’s not that I’m a brilliant soothsayer with enough political acumen to outwit all the experts. I’m a run-of-the-mill dope on all things political. I got it right because I’m a cynic with the simple-minded ability to realize what has been true in this country for a zillion years: Race trumps gender.
Mind you, I didn’t support Clinton and I didn’t vote for her. I’m a fiercely nonpartisan advocate for victims of violence which is why I supported Republican Kerry Healey for governor and voted for Democrat Joe Biden in the Massachusetts primary, even after he stepped down. Both candidates have a long record of fighting for victims, especially abused women and children. The other candidates, for the most part, have done a whole lot of nothing.
Still, it was embarrassing to watch the way Clinton was disrespected during the campaign on a near daily basis because she wasn’t acting the way a woman candidate should act.
This has been women’s dilemma since Adam bit the apple.
We’re too virginal, or too vampish; Too strong or too weak; we work outside the home too much or not enough; we’re either too fat or too thin.
When you’re female in this country, there is no “right” way to be and Clinton’s campaign, while historic, proves how far we still have to go.
When she showed emotion, one side of the crowd said she wasn’t strong enough to be president.
When she was tough, the other side called her a “b-tch.” John McCain laughed when an audience member referred to Clinton as the B-word. Obama didn’t laugh, but he didn’t speak out, either – neither did the DNC.
Obama made out well when Clinton was taking her sexist lumps. But his silence made me think about the wimpy guy in high school who stood by and did nothing when his buddy was getting his butt kicked.
It’s women’s fault too, because we barely complained at all.
The core problem is that racism really is verboten while sexism is an acceptable sporting event in American culture. Thus, as social prejudice goes, Obama enjoyed the double benefits of being a Teflon-coated black candidate battling a super-absorbant woman candidate. (These kitchen-ish metaphors are proof that even I can be sexist).
To make matters worse, the media blithely endorsed the race-gender pecking order.
A Google search for the term, “Clinton as feminist” produced 471,000 hits while “Obama as black activist” far fewer – only 421,000 – and Clinton had no Jeremiah Wright to deal with!
The phrase “Clinton’s big butt” showed up in 421,000 Web hits while “Obama’s big ears” came up only 256,000 times.
“Clinton’s laugh” was written about in 1.1 million sites, but “Obama calling reporter sweetie” popped up only 243,000 times.
I suspect part of the problem lies in the fact that black citizens have always been mobilized and ready to declare virtual war on anyone who treats a man unfairly based on race. Women? Not so much, when it comes to unfairness based on gender.
So it’s no surprise that women threatened to do exactly nothing if Clinton didn’t get the nomination even as black activists threatened to protest and abandon the democratic party if Obama was denied the nomination.
If there’s a silver lining in this mess, let it be that women may finally come to understand why protesting politely will never produce gender equality.
Nor will lining up like lemmings behind whoever happens to be the Democrat.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the Republicans are hot to headline the next Gloria Steinem event, but it’s about time women understood the power of political gender. This means working together – even across party lines – to develop the toughness in politics that will light a real fire under their demand for equality; one that won’t be snuffed out by the stranglehold of partisan obedience or culturally imposed acquiescence to an unfair hierarchy of isms.
Here’s one idea: The next time any woman is denied a fair chance to ascend to a position of power in society, we should all burn our bras, become lesbian and stop having sex with men until things get a whole lot better.
Just think what might have happened if women had made such a threat three months ago on behalf of Clinton. Her nomination would have been guaranteed overnight.
Even John McCain would have quit because as old as he is – there are some things men just won’t give up.
Race may trump gender but sex trumps everything!
Wendy Murphy is a leading victims rights advocate and nationally recognized television legal analyst. She is an adjunct professor at New England School of Law and radio talk show host. She can be reached at wmurphy@ faculty.nesl.edu