Here's a note that came in on my blog from "Anonymous" today, and my response.
Anonymous: I disagree with your assessment of this election. I think you are really diminishing how much of a threat Hillary is to the male power structure in America. I have never seen the media make the kind of brazen, non-stop sexist attacks against anybody like they have against Hillary. She is a Democratic woman who already knows how the Executive Branch works and that makes her more formidable than her opponent. She won't spend months or even years figuring out how to get things done. And imagine the change in this country if 50% of the population woke up.
And you say that it's not Hillary's gender that might keep her from winning this election, it's her lack of preparation. Nobody can say with any certainty how gender affects people at the ballot box, but Iowa and Mississippi have never elected a female to Congress, despite having populations that are approximately 50 per cent female. Pointing this out does not mean that you consider men the enemy.
I would say that Hillary is supremely prepared when it comes to knowledge of the issues. What she lacks is the ability to communicate like a preacher. I say that not to detract from Obama's ability to articulate a vision for the country, but I question his ability to implement that vision, especially in times as hostile as these. And why is Obama described as a progressive and Hillary as a moderate, when they have the same voting record?
And why do you hold Hillary personally responsible for what Gloria Steinem thinks and says? You conflate the two. Should we hold Obama personally responsible for what you think and say? That would be ridiculous.
And I don't understand this attack on Second Wave feminists. Those women revolutionized women's place in America. As Tina Fey would say, they got things done. Why can't people disagree without completely attacking a movement that has improved the lives of American women? What have Third Wave feminists ever done except criticize Gloria Steinem?
You say that Hillary "may be one of the first [women] with power and access to ignore the criticisms of women of color." Who exactly do you mean when you say women of color? Many non-white women are voting for Hillary in record numbers, in part because they want to elect a female president. Many want universal healthcare, something no other candidate has offered.
The only reason feminism is even in the news again is because Hillary is running for President.
Rebecca Walker: Interesting perspective.
A few thoughts: To think that Obama -- a black, biracial man with an Islamic name and a progressive agenda -- isn't more of a threat to the white male power structure than a liberal white woman married to and facilitated by the white male power structure isn't a clear-eyed assessment of what's really going on. We need a movement that can liberate all, but we have got to be honest about the situation as it stands and that would include being honest about who is a threat to whom.
Which 50 per cent of the population are you referring to? I'm pretty sure many of the 50 about whom you are speaking feel they have already "woken up" and decided to vote for Obama. But never mind that, the suggestion that women are monolithic and asleep and need to "wake up" is part of the problem endemic to Second Wave. A lot of women are already awake and the narrative and symbolism of Second Wave that presumes them to be waiting to be awoken by those more enlightened does not speak to them, hence a crisis point in Feminism.
In terms of Steinem and Clinton, if Obama can be on the hook about his affiliation with Rev. Wright, HRC can take the hit AND the incredible boon of her affiliation with Gloria Steinem, whom I would wager has more power in terms of access and resources than Reverend Wright may ever have.
In terms of Tina Fey. Love her work, but isn't 30 Rock a show about a smart white woman who produces a show about a black man who is both an idiot and a buffoon? Has there ever even been a black woman on 30 Rock? The show may be "ironic," but Jesus, with the talent Fey has, you'd hope she'd do better. Let's say a smart white woman started producing a show called the United States of America. You have to wonder what role black men would play in it. Would an intelligent black woman even get a cameo? Maybe we should talk to Lani Guinier.
In terms of what Third Wave the movement has done -- I can't even imagine how much less Feminism would be in the news without it. I know from the thousands of young women who read my book, To Be Real (and the books of other Third Wave leaders), and written me about it, that a whole lot of the fresh blood in women's organizations is there because of Third Wave's contribution.
In terms of Third Wave the organization -- well, it has dispersed thousands of dollars to young women for empowerment projects nationally. Because of the mandate integrated into its by-laws, the women and transgender youth the organization has supported come from every imaginable racial, cultural, sexual orientation, class and point of ability. And this is especially true in the positions of power -- not just the people who receive the monies, but those giving them out represent the inclusive power not seen organically in Second Wave leadership.
If Hillary does win, it will be an important moment in history. What exactly will a white woman forged in 1970's Feminism do on behalf of black families, for instance. Her husband initiated the welfare reform that put many women of color in dire circumstances. The prison system, where a lot of the partners and sons of those women now dwell, grew at an alarming rate under Bill Clinton. I'd also like to ask the women working in the sweatshops at the Mexican-American border how they were impacted by NAFTA -- also signed in by Bill Clinton. I could go on but I think you get my point.
I think we need to start preparing for what happens when one of them wins. The supporters of each candidate will have a tremendous amount of power, and all voters have legitimate concerns and aspirations that deserve addressing. In this instance, we have two brilliant, committed, historically significant candidates. Which will be the best voice for all Americans moving forward? Answering these questions, in my opinion, is a better place to put our energies now.