Monday, June 23, 2008


I Portray Both Genders As Equally Weak Due To Feminine Qualities

As most people with a pulse and a functioning brain realized, the portrayal of Hillary Clinton in the media during the primary season was tinged -- no, not tinged, dripping with -- heavily ingrained sexism, from Tucker Carlson describing her constituency as "Vaginal-Americans" to Chris Matthews claiming the only reason she got elected office was because her husband stuck it in an intern. In few places has this been more prevalent, however, than in the columns Maureen Dowd has written for the New York Times. Between associating Clinton's campaign with an outdated, caricatured model of feminism and claiming her discussion of sexism is "depressing" (oh, wait, it's not Dowd, it's "a woman she knows"), diving into the crying hysteria and going so far as to describe Clinton as "the heroine of a Lifetime movie," and claiming Clinton isn't the best "test case" for sexist attacks against powerful women after reciting a long, long list of attacks against Clinton based almost entirely in gender (gee, I wonder what that was for, then), Dowd has done her best to drive an axe into Clinton's back for being, well, a female politician. And trust me, that's just the start of a long list. She'll tell you it's because of the "ickiness" associated with her husband's administration, but please. There are plenty of ways to call a woman unpleasant, disagreeable, and weak-willed without relying on gender stereotypes.

Fortunately, someone at the New York Times finally realized that somewhere along the line, they fucked up. So, now that Dowd's finally called on the carpet, how will she explain herself?

“From the time I began writing about politics,” Dowd said, “I have always played with gender stereotypes and mined them and twisted them to force the reader to be conscious of how differently we view the sexes.” Now, she said, “you are asking me to treat Hillary differently than I’ve treated the male candidates all these years, with kid gloves.”

To Dowd's credit, she has "played with" gender stereotypes as they relate to men as well. And that's about all the credit I'm willing to give her, because when she says "played with," she means "flogged them like a tired cow." Because whenever a Democratic candidate has displeased her, she has been all-too-quick to paint them as weak and inefficient. How? Well, she called John Edwards "the Breck Girl" and called Obama "Obambi." What do you think it all means?

I know Ms. Dowd likes to think of herself as a woman disappointed by the vagaries of modern gender roles and the "failures" of second-wave feminism, but she plays directly into a disgusting, old-fashioned rubric when she thinks you can humiliate a candidate just by painting a vagina on them. It's sexist, it's homophobic, and above all, it's just pathetic.

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