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On politics and misogyny

Now this is a New York Times column that I can heart and appreciate. Bob Herbert has written a great column about politics and misogyny. It was written before the Nevada Primary, so he talks about the “misogyny capital of America” a fair amount. And of course, Clinton won. Ironic? Who knows! Anyway, he has some really good points about misogyny in general. He points out that all of a sudden, when Clinton wins a primary, gender is all the talk in the media…but he’s pretty much asking, “Why haven’t we been talking about this all along? Misogyny is everywhere.”

Its forms are limitless. Hard-core pornography is a multibillion-dollar business, having spread far beyond the stereotyped raincoat crowd to anyone with a laptop and a password. Crowds of crazed photographers risk life and limb to get shots of Paris Hilton or Britney Spears without their underwear. At New York Jets home games, men regularly gather at Gate D to urge female fans to expose themselves.

He says that misogyny is a true pastime for most men. I would have to agree with that. Since it’s not something that is talk about, it’s easy for people to think that men aren’t really being misogynists when their looking and getting off to porn.

Unfortunately, some of these things have become so “normal” in our society that we simply dismiss all of this. And relating this all to politics, he wonders how the candidates feel about this.

To what extent are the candidates of either party concerned about these matters? Do they have any sense of how extensive and debilitating the mistreatment of women and girls really is?

I’m not sure. I doubt the men in the campaign understand, just because they have not personally experienced it. Nonetheless, Bob Herbert obviously understands, and he’s no woman. But many times, women don’t even understand their own mistreatment because this is the misogyny that they’ve grown up with and don’t think anything of it. So I would argue that Hillary would understand more so, because she’s going through it all right now. However, are these presidential candidates going to change things for women and girls and try to help end the misogyny towards them? I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.

Categories: misogyny, politics Tags: ,
  1. rebecca
    January 31, 2008 at 10:56 am

    There were two articles on this subject – the NYT one you cite here, and another posted on Common Dreams by Stephen Zunes, I think.

    Hillary’s not really my candidate, I don’t agree with her take on the war and on healthcare. But I think she is one tough lady. I find myself admiring her a lot, even though I don’t agree with all of her ideas, because I know what she must be going through.

    Perhaps it would surprise some (male, or sequestered, or unemployed) people that women are passed over at work for less qualified men, and also subject to a continual (sometimes belligerent) stream of demeaning and devaluing “popular” images depicting women as vulernable, ridiculous or victims.

    (One that comes to mind is Emenem who had a popular song years ago in which he celebrated “slapping up my bitch”.
    I once had a discussion about this song with one of my best friends, an African-American man. He admired the song, and I asked him if he would enjoy listening to a song where someone was relishing beating up a black man?)

    Although I didn’t agree with his whole article, Zunes made the observation that the difference between Hillary and Obama could be viewed “by women” as an older more experience woman being passed over for a younger less experienced man. And that resentment in women voters could result from this. (Big observation there.)

    I worked as a journalist at a daily paper for three years, and received excellent reviews at the end of each year. When it came time for a promotion, a seat at one of the big desks where I would have the opportunity to write editorials, it was given to a man who had previously worked as a deli sandwich maker!

    At my first and last PR job, I had the privilege of attending a meeting where a man (my superior) put his hand down the pants of a woman (also my superior), pinched her in the butt and made a joke about her.

    I don’t think this is a matter of resentment, as much as it is of being really just out and out pissed off. Either things are really in need of change out here, or I must be lucky or something…

    It takes some serious focus on re-educating yourself as woman to finally come to terms with the reality of this situation. Which is that you, as a woman, are not weak or flawed, but in fact, you are dealing with pervasive, claustrophobic attitudes about women. These are propigated by men, as well as by some women, who are ignorant of the consequences of such attitudes.

  1. January 21, 2008 at 1:42 pm
  2. January 21, 2008 at 2:04 pm

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