If you haven’t read Gloria Steinem’s piece in the New York Times, go on over there and read it. I’ll be here when you get back.
Okay, seriously, fuck you, Steinem.
Where to start? I pick the end.
What worries me is that some women, perhaps especially younger ones, hope to deny or escape the sexual caste system; thus Iowa women over 50 and 60, who disproportionately supported Senator Clinton, proved once again that women are the one group that grows more radical with age.
Really? That’s how you want to play it? That voting for Clinton, because she’s got a vagina, is radical? Really. What’s radical about how she voted for the Iraq war, a war that has had devastating consequences for women, both Iraqi and American? What’s radical about using your husband’s job as an argument for your job qualifications? Is there something particularly radical about shopping around for a state that will elect you and moving there, rather than running in a state you’re actually from?
Because, I have to tell you, I’m not seeing it. I’m seeing a politician playing politics and I, as a voter, will be voting for the politician I think best able to be president. That might be Clinton; it might not be.
You may ask, can’t I see how groovy it is that Clinton is running for president? Can’t I see how important it is that I, as a woman, recognize this historic event and vote with my cooter, not with my brain?
No, you see, I come from Tennessee, home of Marsha Blackburn and Diane Black, women who are in office and not very devoted to assuring that other women have the same freedoms they enjoy. You see, just because someone has a vagina, it doesn’t make them good people.
Second, and more importantly than your little intergenerational pot-stirring is this:
That’s why the Iowa primary was following our historical pattern of making change. Black men were given the vote a half-century before women of any race were allowed to mark a ballot, and generally have ascended to positions of power, from the military to the boardroom, before any women (with the possible exception of obedient family members in the latter). [Emphasis mine.]
Steinem, again, fuck you. Dirty, dirty, dirty shame on you.
You were born, according to Wikipedia, in 1934, which means you lived through the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Did you, perhaps, as you were penning your little NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL, not reflect back on how, even though black men were ostensibly given the right to vote a half a century before women of any race, black people of all genders were openly and systematically denied that right until half a century after we–you and me, white women–were guaranteed ours?
Did it not once cross your mind the deaths of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner happened in 1964–over four decades after we–you and me, white women–got the right to vote?
Did it never occur to you that black women didn’t, by and large, enjoy the same right to vote our foremothers did? And that you, by framing it as some kind of competition for who has it the worst–black men or “women”–basically just said to every black woman in America, “My experience as a woman is the experience of women in America, not yours.”
I mean, it’s gross that you would, after saying out of your own mouth, that you’re not advocating a competition for who has it the toughest, turn right around and use your column to advocate a competition for who has it the toughest, with Hillary Clinton as the winner, but to just basically erase a whole swatch of history you lived through in order to do it?
Shame on you.
Sincerely, with my whole heart, shame on you.
p.s. For those of you who are still confused about why women of color feminists are often wary of white feminists and tired of giving us the benefit of the doubt when we say thoughtless stuff, it’s because we pull shit like this all the time and have for as long as there’ve been feminists in the United States (see Sojourner Truth telling white feminists that their concerns are not the concerns of all women clear back in 1851). I mean, sincerely, Gloria Steinem has enough power in the world that she can get an editorial in the New York Times that basically rewrites the last hundred and fifty years to make it seem as if women (read: white women) have had a tougher row to hoe than black men and it runs. It runs as if it has meaning and imparts anything useful to the conversation and when people criticize it (Andrew Sullivan, I’m looking at you), they criticize it for being about victim politics.
Okay, yes, but what about the fact that it’s bullshit? It’s a lie about history. That doesn’t alarm anyone?
p.p.s. Also, the implication seems to be that, if we’re electing folks on the criteria of how radically they’ll change American politics, Clinton, because she’s a woman, is more radical than Obama, because he’s a black man, but people, please. Either one is going to be a weird new thing we’ve never seen before–a President who isn’t a white man.
Let’s not underestimate the coolness of this moment–where a woman and a black man are both viable candidates for president.