Wednesday, February 06, 2008

On qualifications

So the primaries were yesterday, and I was well enough to go out and vote. I didn't vote for Clinton, mostly because of her foreign policy. The last thing this country needs is another warmaker, and she's shown that she doesn't have a strong ideological objection to preemptive war. I couldn't vote for her, but I sure wanted to.

I don't watch TV news, since my attention span can't take a lot of blow-dried people saying the same thing over and over for very long. I get my news from various points on the internet, so I sometimes miss the memes that infect the TV. However, I've picked up the impression that a lot of the talk about why people vote for Clinton has to do with whether or not women are voting for her just because she's a woman (and I guess whether or not men aren't voting for her just because she's not a man, although there is a slight possibility that that question gets asked less often). I think the way the meme goes is that of course people who vote for a woman simply because she's a woman are emotional, irrational and politically ugly people who shouldn't be allowed to vote, because elections should be decided on the issues and not gut reactions. If I were a proper blogger I'd have links to people like Chris Matthews backing up this interpretation of the situation, but sadly I'm not a particularly proper blogger, so if you want that go read Echidne or Shakesville; they know what they're doing.

I'm just going to suggest that maybe voting for a woman just because she's a woman isn't such a bad thing. Being a woman is a singularly different experience than being a man. In every area of life, in everything you do, the expectations people have for you are different, the challenges you face are different, and the shit you have to put up with to get along is much, much different. This is true not because of some biological difference between the sexes but because of the way our society operates. A woman who has risen to Hillary Clinton's position has faced and overcome challenges that a male politician in her position has never encountered in his entire life. Hillary Clinton, simply because she is a woman, is a stronger person than most of the other candidates have to be, and I have immense respect for because of it.

Not only has her rise to power demonstrated greater strength than a similar male rise to power would demonstrate, but because she is a woman she knows what it's like to deal with discrimination. She knows what it's like to be completely and utterly dismissed because of her gender. Like I wrote about a few weeks ago, the only way to really sustain a belief in the reality of discrimination is to be subject to it continually, and honestly there's no way in the world that she will ever be free of the attempts at humiliation. The "iron my shirt," "make me a sandwich," "get back in the kitchen" comments will never end until she stops trying to be a part of public life, and by this point the hate is so ingrained that I expect that the mouth-breathers will continue to insult her until after she's dead. This means that she knows what its like to be powerless, and while not everyone who believes in discrimination champions the down-trodden, the belief itself is a valuable asset for anyone who seeks to lead a country.

Being a woman doesn't make you more qualified to be President than being a man does. But being a politically powerful woman in modern America does, I think, make you more qualified to be President than being a politically powerful man does. It makes me wish she wasn't such a hawk so I could have voted for her with a clear conscience, and honestly, like Melissa at Shakesville, if she does end up the Democratic nominee I will vote for her in November and then cry with joy because I'm just so goddamn happy to have a woman in the running.

Of course, a lot of this applies to Obama as well, although the discrimination he faced/faces is different, and although I don't have the personal connection of sharing the experience of the same kind of discrimination, I'll probably get all misty if I end up voting for him also.

No comments: