Monday, March 03, 2008

the disney empire and the alienation of hillary clinton

From the time we were young, boys and girls alike are infused with fairy tales. As we all know, the premise of fairy tales revolves around good vs. evil/victory over persecution, and generally portrayed through a victim/heroine/beautiful girl who usually is saved by a hero/bravado/prince after fighting some sort of battle against a villain/evil doer/often a wicked stepmother/witch/and in one case a weird female sea creature.

And intentional or not, this shit is keeping Hillary down.

At the end of the day our country has proved itself more ready to elect a man of color over a woman and whether you like Hillary or not it poses the question: Is misogyny embedded more deeply in our country's foundation than racism?

The subtle and not so subtle mistrust, anger, sexualization, and underestimation of women in our society is indisputable and mainstream media does little to quell the flames with it's advertising and programming and yes, it's political coverage. Portraying Hillary as manly, as emotional, as a bitch are all ways her gender is subtly and not so subtly brought into the equation. Online forums are no better, one of the popular political groups on Facebook is called Hillary Clinton: Stop Running For President and Make Me a Sandwich. We've found all sorts of ways to work Bitch into a statement about Hillary, both from Tina Fey's positive and brilliantly pointed Bitch is the New Black to all of the derogatory statements about why folks can't vote for her, she's too much of a bitch. Now if Obama was getting equal time for being called a Dick that would be one thing, but have you heard anyone say Dick is the new Black? Bringing Dick Back? I'm a Dick and Proud?

Oh wait. Dick's been in charge all along.

Before you call me a man-hater (which I am not) and a Hillary supporter, (which I am still undecided), or worse, that I am making a big deal out of nothing because this isn't about all women, folks just don't like HER; I ask you simply: If Cinderella's nemesis was a wicked Stepfather and she ended up selling the glass slipper on Ebay to pay for a Round The World trip with a couple of girlfriends would we be in this predicament today? And are we willing to keep showing our children that this way of defining women is acceptable?

And will we ever be able to see a woman as Commander in Chief?

This post is cross posted at MOMocrats and speaking of cross posting, I read this post on Friday was was completely overwhelmed by the author's courage as a woman and as a mother. The rest of the Perfect Posts are here and here.

40 comments:

Lawyer Mama said...

I hate that all of our fairy tales involve a passive girl being rescued by a gallant man. I made up my own fairy tale for Hollis where the girl rescues herself and then makes the world a better place.

We need to MAKE that the *new* stereotype.

painted maypole said...

crap. do i have to stop letting MQ watch disney now?

just kidding

great points you make. :)

liv said...

this is just what a client and i were talking about this week...

Jocelyn said...

It's looking iffy for Hillary just now, but I DO think we'll see a female Commander in Chief one day, during our lifetimes. Interestingly, at some point in the last decade, I stopped thinking that mattered--as I don't see that office as particularly something I want my daughter to look up to--I don't want her to use it as any sort of yardstick for anything. Someone is President. Yes. It may or may not be a woman. Yes. On a daily, hourly, basis, I hope the people around my daughter treat her well and give her chances...outside of who's the president. Isn't that an interesting detachment I've had to do in, say, the last eight years?

Pgoodness said...

I think that yes, we will see a woman in charge one day, but honestly, not this year. I think it's a big step that she's gotten as far as she has (sad that it has taken this long for a woman to get this far). Yes, the whole princess thing is out of control, and for that reason I am glad I have boys - it's a lot easier to teach them about equality without the princess thing hanging over my head.
I always wonder how we have such issue with females in power when England has been run by a Queen forever...

selfmademom said...

Great point. Also remember that while I would never say this country isn't deeply racist, we did allow people of color the right to vote 80 years before women. So something's wrong, somewhere. I'm still holding out hope, but I see it vanishing rather swiftly.

Kyla said...

Great post. And selfmademom's comment rings true as well.

Dark Daughta said...

Hey,
I don't support Hilary...or Obama. :) I think they're both charlatans. But I totally hear what you're saying about Hilary. I said to my partner's mother who is seventy and a Black feminist historian, that Hilary is seen as an old white woman, seen as unwomanly, seen as unattractive, she's forced to smile, she's judged by her outfits and her make-up...as a possible charlatan head of your nation, she's completely hobbled by patriarchal relations that hobble wimmin and completely conflict with what a head of state of a warlike nation like amerikkka is supposed to be. She's caught in a fatal contradiction that she cannot win. Even the people who are calling for her to resign in order to play peace keeper in the ranks of the dems. That's definitely them calling on her to fulfill one of the primary roles of woman, which is to smooth over conflicts in family units, not to be part of the conflict. She's being marked down for not acquiescing. She's being unfavourably graded by people who don't have patriarchal analysis. This is aside from the racial dynamics which are also kicking her butt. I don't debate the race stuff or the patriarchal stuff much because I find that people are expecting simple debate. I've been blogging about politricks and con artistry. I've also been blogging about how not important Native peoples and indigenous issues are even as everyone is debating the future of these stolen lands.

crazymumma said...

Glass slippers and Glass ceilings. Both break up easy if you hit em just the right way.

But I feel like the hammering is futile these days because the Dick is big.

Amy Y said...

I think you are quite right, Mama. I think it's easy to say Hillary won't get elected because people don't like her... but the truth is, if a more "likeable" gal were in her spot, it would probably be close to impossible for her to get elected also.

So, so frustrating.

deb said...

I'm reading a good book right now, "Reviving Ophelia" by Mary Pipher about what happens to women in our culture at adolescence. It's worthwhile to read it before your daughter reaches puberty and yes, I know, she's got a few years:)

And I agree with you that misogyny is alive and well in North America, we just like to pretend it isn't. Women in veils and nude women in Playboy are two ends of the same line of thinking that reduce women to sexual objects. We are so much more than just our bodies, we are people. My mother was born into a generation that denied women the right to vote because women were not deemed to be "persons under the law". Things have not changed as much as we like to believe they have.

ewe are here said...

There is something slightly frustrating about all those kindly, benevolent, well-meaning dads in fairy tales, yet absent/dead mommies and/or evil step-mothers alongside them... Not an evil stepfather in the bunch. Or an absent dad. Quite the opposite of many childrens' reality, in fact...

And yes, I think more people will put aside their racism prejudices and vote for Obama rather than put aside their gender preferences in the nomination voting booths.

Personally, i don't like either of them at this point. Richardson appears to have been most aligned with my thoughts on most issues. sigh

meno said...

interesting thing to compare/contrast racism and sexism.

One difference is that sexism is okay (with society) but racism is better hidden.

Magpie said...

Really good post. I think you're spot on. And I think it's a damned shame.

thailandchani said...

My answer to your question? When pigs fly.

cce said...

Yup, I can't argue with you though I wish I could. Well said, Jen.

Deezee said...

I do think Hillary has taken a disproportionate battering, and I'm sure much of it is rooted in this subtle (?) misogyny. (Given that, I do have issues with her that are all about specifics of her politics.) We've come a long way and we have a long way to go.

A lot of assorted press has been discussing this issue. The question is if those who need attitudes shifted are listening. And maybe we all need some attitude adjustments.

As women, we can look at ourselves and the things we praise in each other. Maybe its time we stop greeting each other with, "Gee, you look great!" (Time to de-emphasize appearance; men just don't do this.)

Julie Pippert said...

Great post!

In answer to your question, I sadly say yes.

Joanne did a great job tackling this today too.

Gwen said...

I do think there's a lot of sexism around the issue of Senator Clinton, but it makes it more confusing that she is related to someone else who was already in office. It's hard to know how much of our feelings about her are related to what we know of her past and how much is related to her gender (which brings up the question of whether a relatively unknown and untested female would even have a chance ....).

Kelley said...

Sadly this is very well stated. I have heard more comments about whether or not a woman would be able to "handle" the Presidency than I ever thought that I would. Not - for the most part - in the media, but in quiet, private conversations. Would a woman be too emotional? Would she be unbalanced? Would she be hard enough? Would she be able to make tough decisions about war? Would she manipulate people? ...And many, many more. I keep carefully pointing out that these things could happen to a man just as easily. In fact, a man would probably react with a lot less grace to these queries than Senator Clinton has.

Bon said...

great post, and i say absolutely...Dave & i have been betting for ages (from up here in the safe haven of our northern perch) that our society is still more overtly misogynist than racist when class factors are smoothed over.

yep.

Defiantmuse said...

ah.
and once again you've taken the words right out of my mouth.
I think I've expressed my opinions on Disney's entrenchment in sexism so I'll slide my soapbox under the table and just say, "Word".

flutter said...

You know, it's funny....I have a totally different take on this.

Hillary dropped the Rodham in her name, started just campaigning as Hillary and started crying at the drop of a hat during this election cycle.

What have we never seen before? Katrina, 9-11, her husband's extramartial affair? No public tears. She loses primaries and starts to cry, starts to "soften", starts to use her feminine wiles to bust up the old boy's club.

In entirely the wrong way.

I honestly think this country is ready for any humber of women to be commander in chief. I just don't think it's her.

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

So when are you running for President, my friend?

Mama Drama Jenny, the Bloggess said...

Amen. Jen for President.

First order of business...bringing dick back.

Christine said...

glass slippers pinch my damn toes. give me some running shoes any day.

great post and absolutely on target.

Running on empty

Denguy said...

A woman ran our country once.

I don't think it's an anti-women thing. It's just an anti-Clinton thing. From what I've read, she not the right person for the job.

The other thing about Disney: The villain always has to die. Where's the lesson?

anna said...

"Is misogyny embedded more deeply in our country's foundation than racism?"

Uh, that would be a capitalized and exclamation pointed YES!!!!

QT said...

I will SO vote for whoever is bringing Dick back...

I agree with flutter - some things she has done lately have really surprised me.

blooming desertpea said...

Stingy point! Nope - Woman cannot win because if she doesn't show emotions, she is marked "stiff, cold, hard, emotionless" and if she does, she get's the title "unstable, week, manipulating, you-name-it"!!

Mad Hatter said...

Spot on, Jen. There was an excellent article on this in our National newspaper last week. Sadly the full text is not available online. The sorta link is here:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/Page/document/v5/content/subscribe?user_URL=http://www.theglobeandmail.com%2Fservlet%2Fstory%2FRTGAM.20080226.wltimson26%2FBNStory%2FlifeMain%2F&ord=63289151&brand=theglobeandmail&force_login=true

Oh, The Joys said...

Go, jen!

I like her.

I do think there is something to the arguement that Obama has a better chance to beat McCain.

And from the purely statistical stand point, I want a dem in the White House.

Karen said...

I am really hoping - blindly of course- that this will not be strictly an election between skin color and gender.

I would much rather see Obama than Hilary in leader's seat; though honestly their proposed policies both scare the crap out of me- he just scares me less than she does- and though I declare myself Republican now, I intend to vote independent.

Janet said...

This is the second time in less than 24 hours that I have seen the "misogyny vs. racism" point made. And I don't even live there.

Well said. I don't think you're going to see a female president this time around but I still hold great hope for the future.

Hetha said...

So she and Obama are so similar on paper that the media has to resort to scrutinizing stupid details, like the way Hillary laughs or what she's wearing. I've not seen Obama get the same treatment, not that it would be productive. She's definitely not getting fair treatment.

Wayfarer Scientista said...

I do agree that the sexism runs much deeper and is much more hidden. Incidently, women did not win the right to vote until after the black man. And I do think those fairy tales are part of it.

ms chica said...

There have always been separate rules for men and women. Every woman who has honored separate rules must hold herself partly accountable for the decline.

This post is a well composed call to end complacency.

KC said...

I'm assuming you've seen the Washington Post op ed piece that goes along nicely with your well-taken points here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/29/AR2008022902992_pf.html

Anonymous said...

Thank you, you read my mind. I have had several discussions with my sexist boss about how a strong woman, such as Hillary, is constantly portrayed as a bitch. I forwarded this to him.

Anonymous said...

There is a new Facebook group to counter the sexist anti-Hillary "Hillary Clinton: Stop Running for President and Make Me a Sandwich".
It's "Barack Obama: Stop Running for President and Pick Me some Cotton".
I just joined the racist one in hopes that if enough people do, it will draw attention to the fact that if it's not okay to be racist, it's also not okay to be sexist.