Monday, May 9, 2011

Why I Don't Worry About Sexism Aimed At Hillary Clinton

Yesterday, Jezebel put up a piece about Hillary Clinton and Audrey Thomason, being photoshopped out of the now famous Bin Laden Situation Room photo by the Ultra Orthodox Hasidic newspaper Der Tzitung.

Morning Gloria, the author of the piece in question had this to say:
The religious paper never publishes pictures of women, as they could be considered "sexually suggestive." Apparently the presence of a woman, any woman, being all womanly and sexy all over the United States' counterterrorism efforts was too much for the editors of Der Tzitung to handle.
She later went on to quote Jewish Week's Rabbi Jason Miller. Reading his thoughts, I could not help but wonder why a Jewish woman could not have been found to comment on this erasure?  This naturally caused me to consider why this story has become a bit of an issue in the feminist blogosphere. Okay, I know that Hillary Clinton plays an important role in the American government, but she is not the first woman to do so.

 Janet Reno, the former Attorney General in President Clinton's administration, was consistently debased by suggestions that she was actually a man in drag.  Rush Limbaugh, personally had a field day with former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, by continually suggesting that she was anything but bright. This btw came from a man who didn't finish university. Former Congresswoman and Presidential Candidate in 2004, Cynthia McKinney, has always been portrayed as angry and uncouth by the media however, this was heightened in 2002 when she questioned the intelligence that the Bush administration used to solidify their case for going to war against Iraq.  Crickets chirped louder than the feminist response to the attacks she received. Most recently, Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States, has been subjected to racist attacks, that are far to numerous to count. My point in bringing these women to attention, is to assert that none of them has received any real defense or support from either online feminists, or mainstream feminists.

If someone so much as gives the side eye to Hillary Clinton, one can be certain that it will appear on feminist blogs repeatedly.  Hillary is continually championed and this is deemed a necessary action to help fight sexism.  Even Sarah Palin, who is clearly no friend to progressive women, has been defended by feminists.  I have no worry that when it comes to White, able bodied, class privileged women who appear to be gender conforming, that feminism will rush in with a battle cry of vengeance, against those who would dare challenge their right to participate. My concern is for women that fall outside of this very narrow category.  When I wrote about the overt sexualization of Michelle Obama by Tracy Morgan, I knew that Womanist Musings would be one of the few blogs to do so.  Despite claiming that fighting sexism is a concern of feminists, attacks against Michelle Obama continually get ignored. It is left to women of colour to point out the link between sexism and racism that combine to oppress her.

Hearing about sexism aimed at Hillary Clinton does not rile me up or encourage me to wage battle, because I know that she will be defended ad nauseum -- instead -- it causes me to think about women that are daily being erased while promoting the idea of female unity.  Until feminists can dedicate as much time as they spend defending Hillary Clinton, to women who exist on the margins, I see no reason to feel inspired. This is not to say that the sexism aimed at Clinton is not harmful, but the erasure of the experiences of multitudes of women needs to be recognized, otherwise we are simply continuing the marginalization and oppression of women, based on a desire to uplift a small elite group. How can marginalized women be expected to continually rush to the defense of this small elite, when daily we are erased to promote the idea that we all experience sexism in the same way? This is why you won't see repeated stories about Hillary Clinton on this blog -- someone has to tell our stories.