osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

The Ferraro Fandango: When Did Traditional Feminism Get Reduced To Whining?

There is so much about this recent flap around Geraldine Ferraro's comment that Obama owes his success to date as a candidate to being a black man that I don't know where to begin. Which is more offensive, Ferraro's statement that if Obama were only white, or if he were a black woman, he'd never be able to compete with Hilary? Or her subsequent defense of her remarks in which she sounds like a bad version of Laura Ingrham?

Mind, this came in the midst of a lengthy whine off about how the sexist media have had the knives out for Hilary, and concluded with the argument that imagining a candidate can get past partisanship is just plain stupid. Or, as Ferraro explains:
"I was reading an article that said young Republicans are out there campaigning for Obama because they believe he's going to be able to put an end to partisanship," Ferraro said, clearly annoyed. "Dear God! Anyone that has worked in the Congress knows that for over 200 years this country has had partisanship - that's the way our country is."

There are a lot of things that come out of this for me. But it also raises a larger meta-point. When did traditional feminism become about whining rather than about doing? And why the Hell can't these geezers get out of the way of the army of strong progressive women who are ripe to take over the struggle, kick ass and take names?

First, "Earth to Clinton Campaign -- this is why you shouldn't have made such an ass of yourself on the Farrakhan thing. You think the wheel never turns? Idjits." Yet despite the fact that it was Clinton herself that set the bar for outrageously heightened sensitivity on anything that could possibly be considered racist, sexist, antisemtic, or otherwise offensive to core Democratic Party principles -- even calling Obama out in a debate to not merely reject Farrakhan's endorsement but to denounce, abjure, and exorcise it utterly from this plane o existence -- we will see the phalanx of Clinton Cronies denouncing the treatment of Ferraro as yet another sorry example of the media being mean to poor Hilary and women generally.

The Clinton's seem share the trait with George W. Bush of never believing that they are accountable for anything -- even the standards that they themselves create (or, perhaps, especially the standards they themselves create). If you are going to get all shocked and offended wen an Obama senior staffer calls Clinton a "monster," then expect to see the same thing when one of your people calls Obama an affirmative action hire.

This whiny-ness and refusal to take responsibility not just by Clinton, but by her whole frickin' inner circle, is highlighted by Ferraro's subsequent response. She can't even muster an "I'm sorry people took that the wrong way." No, it's the great Liberal conspiracy to keep the white woman down. Or, in Ms. Ferraro's own words:
"Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says let's address reality and the problems we're facing in this world, you're accused of being racist, so you have to shut up," Ferraro said. "Racism works in two different directions. I really think they're attacking me because I'm white. How's that?"

How's that? Not bad if you're Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh. But especially from someone who finds sexism in every negative news story, it's a tad hard to swallow. To then further defend yourself by stating things like "Am I pointing to something that doesn't exist" and to accuse Obama's campaign manager of "knowing damn well that the best thing to do in a situation like this is to come back and hit with race" shows a monumental level of cluelessness and self-indulgence. To then close with an accusation of sexism because "Sexism is a bigger problem...It's OK to be sexist in some people's minds. It's not OK to be racist" ought to win you a prize for something.

Which brings me to my final point. Ferraro's comments would be intolerable if they were outliers. But they aren't. And I'm not talking about the pattern noted by Obama Campaign manager David Axelrod of seeing Clinton surrogates making these snide remarks from the side and while Clinton pretends it has nothing to do with her. I'm talking about the fact that the leaders of the previous generation of feminists seem to have reduced themselves to a bunch of whiners unable to fight for real change.

This post on IntLawGrrls says it better then I ever could about Ferraro. But it's not just her, or just Steinem, or even just the folks around the Clinton campaign. Try to think of the major accomplishments of NOW in the last ten years? What about NARAL? And I can tell you from personal experience that they do not play well with others.

There is a scene in the movie Borat in which he visits the New York HQ of a feminist organization (I cannot remember the which). The women who present themselves for the meeting are all over 50. As they talk, Borat pulls his usual business of saying outrageous things -- in this case that in his country they have proved that women are not as intellectually capable as men and they cannot be treated as equals. The women get all flustered and leave.

The feminists I know would have looked Borat in the eye and said conversationally "Interesting. And yet your country is an ignorant shit pile. Do you think there might be a relationship between your attitudes on women and the fact that your country remains a backwards shit hole?" None of them would have gotten all flustered and retreated muttering to the door -- especially not when standing on their home ground.

Yeah, Borat's fictional humor. But from first hand experience I can tell you it's not that far off.

I have to say that if women really want to have strong women leaders in power, confident capable women who can change the world, they need to vote for Obama. The so-called feminists in Clinton's inner circle need a rest home in Bocca more than they need a tour of duty in the White House.

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