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Posted in: Feminism, Culture Wars & Censorship

Published on Nov 04, 2008 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Jewcy

It's the Agenda, Not the Gender


The lines are way too long where I have to vote. Here's what I'm thinking as I wait.

Where's the coffee and croissants when you really need them?

That's enough small talk.

We need two Presidents: One who will focus exclusively on foreign policies, the other who will be responsible for domestic policies. Each area is so complex and demanding that a single President cannot expertly keep up with both or effectively "balance" the demands of one against the other.

We need our Presidential elections to start and end within six months. And that's being generous.

We need our national candidates to receive free (but equal) access to the airwaves. Paid advertisements and infomercials are obscenely expensive. The money might be better spent on universal health care. Free political advertising is a good idea in general, but even more so when the country is in a deep recession and has mortgaged our children's' and grandchildren's' inheritances.

No Presidential candidate should be allowed to accept any foreign donations. While we live in one world, Americans do not vote in any European or in Middle Eastern election. Their citizens should not be allowed to "vote" with their dollars in our elections.

If we can send human beings to the Moon, when will we, the people, be able to vote securely and accurately at home on our own computers? Or better yet, why not go back to casting pencil-and-paper votes? It might be better to wait a little longer for the count than to face years of lawsuits.

And finally, some feminist thoughts about this moment in history.

Let it be known that I voted for Senator Clinton in the primary and that I dressed up to do so. (Alright, I did not wear a hat or gloves but still, for me, I was super-fashionable.) I felt it was an historic occasion. Yes, I know, she is not as charismatic an orator as Obama is, she comes with "baggage," but she has put in the time, earned our respect, is credible and trustworthy on the issues.

I am not now nor have I ever been an identity feminist. Like men, women have also internalized sexist values and can often be very hard on other women. Gender does not necessarily predict behavior. Just because a candidate is a woman does not mean that she is a feminist; a man may also be a feminist; and finally, a feminist might also betray his or her own principles.

Thus, going beyond gender: It is as important to have someone in the White House who at least says they hold feminist ideals than to have a particular gender in the White House. One's agenda--not their gender-- is what matters. Senators Obama and Biden "talk" feminism. But I don't like the way in which they and the DNC campaigned against Clinton--nor do I like it that Obama did not offer Clinton the Vice-Presidential spot.

From a strictly psychological point of view, just as African-American and bi-racial children, (adults too), will be specially and specifically uplifted by an Obama win, so too would girls and women of all colors have been transformed by the first woman in the White House. Of course, children of both genders and of all colors would be psychologically transformed by seeing either a woman or a person of color in a position of supreme political authority.

Since Clinton won eighteen million votes, I hope that if Obama wins, he offers her a major Cabinet position. She has certainly earned it.

I do not think that I will see an American woman who is also a feminist in the White House in my lifetime. I find this tragic. Clinton, however imperfect, met that description. While it might also be transcendent to have an African-American or bi-racial President, it is tragic that women are still waiting, not only for the Presidency but for so much else as well.


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