Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Gloria Steinem

I don't know about you, but she pissed me off. Right at the end of this passage:

So why is the sex barrier not taken as seriously as the racial one? The reasons are as pervasive as the air we breathe: because sexism is still confused with nature as racism once was; because anything that affects males is seen as more serious than anything that affects “only” the female half of the human race; because children are still raised mostly by women (to put it mildly) so men especially tend to feel they are regressing to childhood when dealing with a powerful woman; because racism stereotyped black men as more “masculine” for so long that some white men find their presence to be masculinity-affirming (as long as there aren’t too many of them); and because there is still no “right” way to be a woman in public power without being considered a you-know-what.

I’m not advocating a competition for who has it toughest.

Uh, what were you doing in the previous paragraph, then? Aren't race and sex both still confused with nature by an awful lot of people? Spent any time with poor young black men lately? I have, and they've got it a lot worse than an awful lot of women, which is not to say that an awful lot of women don't have it bad, and not to say that I'm not still a knee-jerk feminist (I know: too many nots lead to knots), but is to say that calling gender over race does not work in this day and age.

For a compelling feminist defense of Hillary, try Katha Pollitt in this month's Elle. For more of the same old-fashioned women-are-always-the-most-wronged white feminism, you're welcome to stick with Steinem. But I'll pass.


the end of motherhood said...

But in the first two paragraphs she said something that is so obviously true that I can't believe it hasn't been said before. If Obama were a woman, there is NO way she would be in the running for Senate, much less for the Presidency.

Anonymous said...

And, if Hillary wasn't married to the former president, she wouldn't be running for president, either. Or alternatively, if she were a black man, she couldn't be where she is today. I found the first two paragraphs just as offensive as the ones Becca cites here.

Of course, a white woman (Steinem, specifically, not women in general) thinks that "gender is the most limiting force in America." She doesn't have to deal with race. Steinem decided to pit race against gender, and we don't want to do that; we just don't. I'm trying hard not to, myself. If I remember correctly, there was fall out on both sides of this equation in the race and gender battles that were fought before my time: NOW ran into significant trouble over not being able to incorporate the needs and ideas of women of color, and the civil rights movements had notorious anti-women aspects. The dispossessed need to work together, not fight each other about who suffers more or deserves more credit or more help.

Anonymous said...

Me again (same anonymous)

Thanks for the Pollit link. I agree that it's a better defense than Steinem's because it doesn't pit one thing against another. I particularly like "If all the castrating bitches voted for Satan’s daughter, . . ." Not quite enough to vote for her in the primary, but if she wins the nomination, I'll certainly be happy to be a castrating bitch who votes for Satan's daughter :-).