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Posted in: Feminism, Culture Wars & Censorship

Published on Sep 01, 2008 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

Independent Feminist Commentary on the Presidential Race

Part One


What I have been hearing from feminists is not what either the liberal-Democratic or conservative-Republican media have so far addressed. I am not at liberty to go into details but here's the essence of what I have been told:

The Democratic Party leaders, despite their feminist-friendly agenda, did everything they could to destroy Senator Hillary's candidacy. The fact that she is a standard-bearer for Democratic party values and won eighteen million votes made no difference, not only because she came with "baggage," but also because she is a woman. This is why the "Hillary-ites" are so enraged and distraught. They have seen such behavior before from progressive-radical men and women who have said all the right feminist things (or promised future feminist activism) but who turned out to be no different than anyone else in terms of misogyny.

On the other hand, Senator John's choice of a newcomer and an unknown as his Vice-Presidential pick does not suggest that he understands (as Freud once famously asked) what women or what Hillary's feminist women want. Yes, Governor Sarah seems both charming and attractively "kickass" tough; yes, I am upset by how vicious and sexist the liberal commentators have been about her candidacy–but c'mon: Would Senator John have picked a male candidate with as little experience on the world stage or does he have different and lower standards for women-only?

However, I must give the Republican Presidential candidate credit for picking someone who shares and embodies all the conservative values even though she is a woman. Please contrast this with the aforementioned Democratic behavior which jettisoned a Democratic values standard-bearer, both for President and Vice-President, partly because she is a woman leader.

Yes, many Republicans will vote for Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah just as they would have voted for anyone else, male or female because she is anti-abortion, anti-corruption, outside the Beltway, a hunter, gun-owner and a member of the NRA, in favor of drilling for oil, less government, and who is a "good" (heterosexual and religious) family woman.

Please note: Unlike Michelle Obama who is, no doubt, every bit as attractive and super-competent both at home and at work, Governor Sarah felt perfectly comfortable in presenting herself as both a wife and mother–and as a hard-working professional. True, she is not running for First Lady but paradoxically, it is the Democrats, not the Republicans, who seem to have A Problem with a strong woman, who balances home and career obligations and who is also a leader.

Psycho-analytically, we, the people, reveal a great deal about our relationships to our own mothers in how we view our women leaders. Most of us are still more comfortable in voting for Daddy, not Mommy to govern. We view an all-powerful, benevolent, and distant God as a Daddy-man; retain an infantile and unconscious ambivalence, envy, guilt and rage towards our mothers, all of which mask our fear of a shamed and helpless dependency on and longing for Mommy and which only Catholics have so wisely displaced onto the Virgin Mary.

And then we transfer such ambivalence (subsequently socialized into sexist values) onto other women: Our sisters, the women with and for whom we work–and for whom we vote.

Stay tuned for a continuing independent and non-partisan feminist commentary on this race.


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