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August 29, 2008
Hillary’s Discovery: No
Country for Women Leaders
“No way, no how, no McCain!” When Hillary Clinton’s words met with
applause and hollering during her Tuesday night speech to the Democratic
National Convention, there was a proverbial sigh of relief – she is
finally ready to accept the facts. “No hard feelings, Hil,” the crowd
seem to say, “We still love you.”
Not as much as we love Barack Obama though – no yellow pantsuit can
outshine the tall, dark and handsome. Even as Hillary’s shift of focus
gave her supporters permission to finally close the chapter and focus on
the good of the Democratic ticket, the storm of controversy over women
in politics that came and went with the Clinton candidacy is far from
have accepted all the “gender analysis,” choosing to believe that
Democratic women moved away from Clinton and to Obama because of record,
or experience, or the level of trust four-second sound bites can give
us. Is that really what happened, or is it a part politically correct,
part self-image-preserving attempt to ignore the nature of politics?
The system and game of politics are not set up for women. Women know
this, and subconsciously or not, we comply. Yes, there are women in
Congress and one holding on for dear life on the Supreme Court. Every
election cycle you have to put in another token to shut us up, but when
it comes to high stakes, we’ll incapacitate other women for free, often
with pleasure, often without realizing it.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s comments about Obama’s physique as he
spoke to a crowd of hundreds of thousands was not a gaffe. It was a
lucid example of how no matter how powerful, no matter how intelligent,
liberated and worldly, we are still happy to stoop to Sex and the
City-level remarks to unearth what no power suit could hide: We are
afraid of the consequences of power.
The way America (including its women) wants women involved in politics
is blogging about Daddy’s campaign. Meghan McCain’s enlightening
photographs of mom Cindy with a yorkie John cutting a fish fillet will
make you believe in democracy all over again – or posing for gossip
magazines that emphasize your love of a good bargain, not academic
degree a la Michelle Obama.
Traditional roles for women are not disappearing as expectations of
ambition and independence rise. Perhaps because we identify with the
female politicians as women, not as leaders, all stumbles and mistakes
seem to reflect on us. Why risk putting a woman in office if she can set
us back simply by merit of her gender?
No, it is better to let Hillary play the supporting role she has
perfected. Our own Icarus, we appreciate her fall more than how high she
got to soar. But while Hillary was playing second fiddle, she learned
not to identify with any event her gender or her politics may cause. She
has learned that fighting the prejudices and sexism of which even many
of her supporters are guilty is unbecoming for a powerful leader.
© 2008 North Star
Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
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