Fierce Women Dish

an artist, a journalist, an activist, a psychologist, a student, and a diva place a cup of nourishment on the table.

Women on the national political stage August 31, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — fiercewomen @ 3:57 pm

From Rosie: 

Let me start by saying that I am a registered independent.  I don’t want anyone to feel they have my vote based on an affiliation I chose when I turned 18, and I don’t want to ever get complacent about my ability to vote. I drove home to South Carolina when I was in college (in North Carolina) so that I could vote in my first election in the fall of 1992.  I cried when I hit submit on the voting machine.  And voting has continued to hold that same magic for me ever since.  When I was a high school United States history teacher, I loved talking about elections and about the movements led by everyday people– to show my students how things are done in this country and what they can do– based on a grand design conceived more than 200 years ago.  In 2000, I stayed up all night long watching the election results come in, states getting called, retracted, Tim Russert holding up a dry erase board that said, Florida, Florida, Florida, watching this all hang in the delicate balance of hanging chads influencing the electoral college (I hate the electoral college but, whatever, we won’t get into that right now), and, then, in the delicate balance of the court system.  I still show up at the precinct every time there is a vote– even if it’s for just one thing– because I find it so important and empowering.  And I still get choked up at the precinct when I hit submit. 


For a political junkie, this election cycle has been particularly thrilling.  And last week’s DNC did not disappoint.  I was especially touched by Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton’s speeches on Monday and Tuesday night.  Each was so profound and, I felt, transcended gender.  It is what this country needs, it is what women need, I thought, for all of us to understand that women can transcend gender– because so few men believe that we can.  We are good at sports, for a woman.  We are good at politics, for a woman.  We are good at business, for a woman.  The “for a woman” tag line undoes me.  And with Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton’s speeches last week– their content, wisdom, conviction, I thought some significant damage might be done to the way some use astericks to discredit or marginalize our worth.  But for whatever steps were taken forward last week, I can’t help but feel like we took several steps backwards on Friday with the selection of Sarah Palin as the Vice Presidential nominee for the Republican party.  While many see her selection as a giant leap forward for women, especially in the GOP, I can’t help but feel patronized.  Not by Palin, mind you.  All she did was pick up her phone last Sunday (just a week ago), and hear John McCain ask her if they could talk about the possibility of being his running mate.  Who wouldn’t say yes to that?  I feel pandered to by McCain and other men like him who read this situation and interpreted it in certain ways.  It is as he might believe that I, and other women, lack the nuance to understand all that is essential to being an effective world leader.  As if I, and other women, am only capable of reacting emotionally to a decision and not intellectually.  As if I, as a woman, only vote on one issue or distinction and not on a whole host of complex considerations of the issues.  As if I, as a woman, might just be shallow enough to be so grateful that there is a female nominee that I would vote just on boob politics. 

What say you about women and politics in light of the events of last week?  What did you think of Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton’s speeches?  What do you think of the nomination of Sarah Palin and her introductory address to the nation?  And as the RNC unfold this coming week, what are your thoughts and observations?


7 Responses to “Women on the national political stage”

  1. Jill Says:

    Rosie, I was totally moved by Michelle and Hillary. These women are smart and real. More power to strong women like Hillary and Michelle, but Sarah just doesn’t cut it. There is no way I want her for President if McCain dies. She is no replacment for Hillary! I’ve already met a women who just thought it was great just because she was a women. It is crazy to think that we just want “boobs” in the White House. Jill

  2. Colleen Says:

    I think Clinton’s run showed men that women are a real political force to be reckoned with. We care about real issues and deserve real respect of the political stage.

    Those who will only vote for Palin because she’s a woman seem no different to me than those who would have voted for Clinton because she was a woman. Why is it more of a big deal when it’s not Hilary getting those votes? Thankfully, I know plenty of women – from all political persuasions – who are not and would never vote based on whether a candidate has ‘boobs’ – I know I wouldn’t because I would not have voted for Clinton had she been the Democratic candidate. I really hope no man out there seriously thinks that today’s women can be manipulated into voting one way based on sex. I know better!

    As for Palin, I’m excited about her nomination. I think she’s an acceptable nominee: she’s a proven reformer, has administrative experience, and is a near wonder-woman (governor AND 5 kids? Many would never attempt either, let alone both). In my opinion, it IS a great step for women.

  3. fiercewomen Says:

    Jill and Colleen,
    Oh, it is your reasoned voices that need to be in focus groups for candidates who are making these decisions– so that they can see nuance and shades of grey and complexity!


  4. fiercewomen Says:

    from Rosie:

    Since the Palin nomination, I’ve heard some women question Palin’s ambition if she’s willing to be Vice President while having an infant at home. I’ve heard various twists on the “women can have it all” theme, including “women can have it all, just not all at once.” The decision any of us would make in that situation doesn’t have to be the decision Palin makes and vice-versa, but these conversations have made me aware of the gender bias that can exist in all of us- me included- still or even despite our best efforts. Sometimes that bias can be perceived as positive- I am voting for her because she’s a woman- and sometimes it can be negative- I am not voting for her because she is a woman. It behooves all of us to interpet Palin not based on her gender but on her politics, ethics, presentation, and actions in a more public sense.

  5. Colleen Says:

    I hate that Palin’s current and future parenting and family decisions are such an issue….this has never been something male candidates have to deal with.

    I agree with you, Rosie, we should make our own decisions concerning Palin based on her politics and public self.

  6. Liz Says:

    Hi. I love your blog. I would like to fashion something like this for my book club and my girlfriends who have moved away to other cities.

    I love that you all are discussing this with such civility. I’m a liberal Democrat, unlikely to ever support a Republican candidate in our current electoral alignment. I voted for Obama in the primary but Hillary Clinton has been my hero since high school, when she made the comment about baking cookies. It was just so honest, and it didn’t seem to be worth all the grief she got for it.

    I was intrigued with the Palin pick, and still am, but quite disappointed in her first speech last Friday. I hated the way she introduced it with talking mostly about her kids and husband and being a hockey mom! I mean I love reading about that kind of stuff from celebrities . . . when Jennifer Garner talks like that I find it charming. But for someone who could be our vice-president, it’s not what I’m looking for. It seems like with that kind of introduction she was just asking us to think about her “boobs only” and inevitable that she would be on the cover of Us Weekly or something like that. When you present yourself politically first and foremost as a mom, then yeah, whether or not you’re a devoted enough mother of a special needs child becomes relevant to the debate.

  7. Big D Says:

    I was brought up to respect the American political process and my role as a citizen. I was told I shouldn’t treat my vote like a club for revenge or a prize in a popularity contest. I have been heartsick to see some old ugly tactics clouding good peoples judgement. When you vote you are asking a person to act in your stead. You hope they will do right by you. My parents taught me that sizing up any person can be a hard thing if they want to be liked. All you really have to go on is what they do, not what they say. In politics and regular life how folks have acted before is probably how they will act again. I am excited to see the women who have made unbelievable strides this year no matter how this turns out. My concern lies in the issues dear to us being pushed aside while we argue about cosmetic insults. My concern is that once this election is over we may have found ourselves in a position where women are weaker. I have seen no talk about equal pay or other women’s rights legislation. I have only heard one speech with snippets repeated regularly. I minded that Palin denigrated public service in that speech, something I am passionate about. The way she talked about Dems I get the impression bipartisanship would be a shaky prospect (Lieberman doesn’t count). This country cannot continue to stand divided, the split is ugly and awful. I don’t hear a call for healing. I want to know what we can do. I wonder why Palin let McCain say she sold that plane on ebay, seems silly but we don’t have much to go on and it’s been proven false. If she is so tough, why can’t she be vetted like everyone else who runs for high office? Instead of getting any answers I just saw they Palin will be on The View and Rachel Ray. I know the other candidates do fluff shows but we have less than 60 days and we know squat.

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