Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hillary Clinton and the Sexist Chicken and Egg

The postmortems of Hillary Clinton's Presidential run (Aspazia's is the one that started me on this question, although the folks at Shakesville have been all over this from the start) have all rightly mentioned the blatant and horrible sexism that was directed at her, often from major media figures. Where the racism question was treated in code words, it was shocking to see how open people were in using misogynistic language and images.

There is no doubt that these attacks are due to longstanding, but threatened patriarchal power structures. That said, I know, as someone who was bullied, that the bullies don't pick on you because of the things they pick on you about. First, you are determined to be a target, then they look for the soft spots, the places they can attack that will do the most damage.

The sexism was there and came from a place of threatened male privilege (that's why we heard so little of it when Carol Mosley-Braun ran -- she was seen as having little chance and so was not threatening); but did the sexism start from a place of pure sexism or did it start as Clinton hatred which found its expression naturally in a biased society most easily in sexist terms?

I wonder how much of this misogyny would have come out if it had been a different woman running. Suppose the woman was a Republican, say, Liddy Dole or Lynn Cheney. Do you think that either one of them would have received the same treatment if they had been viable Presidential candidates close to picking up the GOP's nomination?

My guess is that Condoleeza Rice, if she were in the equivalent of Clinton or Obama's position would have received much less of a racist or sexist treatment.