Sexist Media Did Not Cost Hillary Rodham Clinton the Democratic Nomination
By Suzanne Reisman on June 15, 2008
BlogHer Original Post
I am a feminist. I have been a feminist for as long as I can remember. If there is anything that I want in this world, it is equality for all (i.e. - feminism = equality.) When I say equality, I mean that every person has the opportunity to become the best person he/she can possibly be. That gender, race, class, and the other human-erected barriers we place on people are eradicated. For example, if a woman is qualified to be president, I do not believe that her gender should prevent that from happening.
That said, I did not vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton in my state primary. The reason I did not do so is because I did not feel she was the best qualified candidate, and I will be damned if I vote for her merely because she is a woman. In fact, voting for a person solely on her sex would be in direct violation of my belief that you should not pick someone just based on genital status alone. (Meaning: if I don't like people who say they would never vote for a woman, I sure as hell better not vote against someone because he happens to be male.) Yet, supporters of HRC seemed to believe that is exactly what I should do. Worse, as a feminist, I was told I owed it to Clinton to vote for her. This is about the most insulting message that could be sent to me.
Now people are insisting that she lost the Democratic nomination because the media is sexist. Yes, the media is very sexist. For example, every time I read an article in the newspaper or see something on TV about infertility, it is ALWAYS about women and why they waited too long to try to have a baby, or are too uptight, or ate the wrong thing for breakfast on Dec. 22, 1982 and thus it is her fault for fucking up her chances to fulfill her feminine need for biological children. Only once did I see a tiny article noting that when treating fertility problems, 40% of issues are in females, 40% are in males, and in 20% of the cases, both have issues. And only once did I see something noting that men's sperm degrades in quality over time, leading to as many birth defects and problems as older women have. That is sexist coverage.
On the other hand, Clinton ran a terrible campaign. Sometimes, she absolutely was covered unfairly by the media, such as when they commented on her cleavage, said she "cackled," or described her as resembling a spurned first wife outside of probate court. However, these incidents, as bad as they are, did not cause HRC to lose the nomination. No, HRC lost the nomination because she alienated voters like me. Voters she should have had locked up, but instead drove away with things like the campaign's offhand slurs against Obama's ethnicity, her stupid moves to pander to every group in the world so that they would like her, and her refusal to acknowledge that she was wrong when she voted for Iraq.
Sadly, her supporters are refusing to acknowledge how poorly she campaigned. They can blame the media all they want. Sometimes, commentary did inflame her mistakes. However, the media was also all over the Wright "issue" and other Obama "flubs." If HRC lost, it is absolutely not because the media "robbed her of any shot" as supporter Allida M. Black of the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers at GW University told the New York Times on Friday. It is because she refused to stand up for anything, refused to take responsibility for her campaign's errors, and refused to be above the board. It is because she could not convince me - a committed, lifelong feminist and progressive who is essentially the spitting image of a stereotypical feminist protesting for reproductive rights with short hair, unshaved legs, and no make up - that she was the best candidate. And this is why she lost. If you can't convince those who should be your core supporters that you are the best candidate, you have a serious problem.
Clinton supporters who are angry about how women are portrayed in the news should be angry. Women generally get the very short end of the stick. But Clinton's coverage is absolutely the wrong issue to go ballistic about. (And really, if we want to look at sexism in the media, let's focus our outrage for Fox's horrifying most recent slur against Michelle Obama.) Let's raise the issue of sexism, work to alleviate the problems that arose, and move on.
Like every feminist, I do very much want to see a woman in the White House soon, and not as the First Lady. Learning from the Clinton campaign mistakes will only make the next female candidate even stronger. I'm looking forward to that.
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