Update: 4/18/08 -- Apparently, I'm not the only one taken to task by the "Sisterhood." Female Superdelegates voting for Obama are under fire from feminists who question their loyalty. Nice to know that my vagina and I are in good company, at least. ~C~
I've been getting huge flack from my feminist sistahs about my unwavering support for Barack Obama. Why? they ask in whiny, uncomprehending tones. Why can't I just get on board the Double X Chromosome Love Train and vote for Hillary Clinton? Why do I have to be so hard-edged/headed/hearted about it? Can't I see that I'm doing irreparable damage to the women's movement? Can't I see that this leaning toward a black man is simply a manifestation of my own self-loathing and misogyny?
First off, let me just say that I love my vagina. No, seriously. We have a long, happy relationship that, I believe, has been mutually fulfilling and satisfying. I was raised in a woman's house, headed by a woman, funded by a woman, run by a woman. The house was full of vaginas. Even the cats were female. (We did have a male dog... alas, neutered.) A woman bought my clothes, cooked my dinners, pushed me about school, taught me about politics, schooled me in the art of The Arts. The most coherent two pieces of advice my father ever gave me on my potential or future success was, "Learn typing and shorthand," and "Marry well." My mother, on the other hand, never mentioned that either me or my vagina had any restrictions or encumbrances to my individual success. For all her annoying tendencies and overbearingly narcissistic melodramas, my mother made it clear that the only thing handicapping me was me. If I could remove my own tendencies to self-doubt and procrastination, I could -- and this is a quote, "conquer the world."
So, no. There is no hatred of women in my voting decision. There is no self-loathing or secret chauvinism. I understand where they're coming from, these militant feminist friends of mine. They are anywhere from five to ten years older than I -- raised in the 60s, children of the fifties. They were taught that a woman's place was in the home. They were taught that they're fathers or grandfathers or stepfathers were the kings in the proverbial castle, and their mothers' job was to scrub and cook and make things nice for the king's return from a hard day of hunting dragons.
Even if I knew these women of the fifties, even if I could relate to them and understand their desperation to have a woman -- ANY woman -- in the Oval Office, I couldn't honestly vote for Hillary Clinton in good conscience. I have, in past posts, already brought up the HJR 114 issue (the "yes" vote on using force in Iraq, which led directly to the invasion). And I've brought up other waffling bows to the once-popular right-wing agenda, like a proposed Constitutional amendment banning flag burning (nothing ever made me want to go out and burn a flag right then and there), her siding with banks, credit card companies and finance corporations with a "yes" vote on bankruptcy reform, making it more difficult for people to declare bankruptcy when they get in over their heads, and the very negative campaigning ("It's 3 am...."). I've touched on the people that she has surrounded herself with -- Ickes, Ferraro, Penn (the latter two now gone) -- that make me wonder about her ability to judge character. I've also mentioned my now-faltering affection for her husband, my admiration for whom once bordered on hero-worship.
Still, since these are either transgressions of the past, or relating to people around the senator and not the senator herself, these are not really reasons for not voting for her. I've really tried to keep my mind open, and constantly rethink my position. It all comes to down the question I asked my friend, Julie Daniels, in the car a couple of weekends ago.
"Who the hell is she?"
The truth is, I have no idea. She's smart, she's savvy, she's funny, she's learned. Yet she is, as a human being, a complete enigma to me. Her attempts to show her "softer side" by crying or drumming up manufactured emotion (as she does nearly everytime she launches into any anecdote that begins "when I was a little girl....") leave me puzzled and creeped out. Her attempts to be "one of the common folk" have left me angry and feeling lied to. I have a feeling that, in her regular life, she probably isn't given to emotional displays. She's probably described by those closest to her as "the rock," the "strong one," the "one that held us together." But I'm also pretty sure that camping isn't one of her favorite pastimes. We all have known women like that. We've all been women like that at one time or another. I'm not sure I don't approve of that, especially in a Commander in Chief. I don't need to see Barack Obama's softer side. I don't need to see Hillary Clinton shed a crocodile tear for me. I'm okay with letting them be tough and high-minded at times of emotional upheaval, so I can break down and know I'll be taken care of.
Instead, what we've gotten from Clinton has been play-acting. A Southern accent in the Carolinas, which she never uses anywhere else, a pint of beer with a Crown Royal chaser (Crown Royal? Seriously?), talk of a-huntin and a-shootin' with Pappy on Grampa's back forty, and I'm left to wonder, "Who is this woman, really, and what does she really care about?"
There are (or at least have been in the past) times when I really like Hillary Clinton. I love the idea of her health care plan, actually preferring it to any of the candidates, including Obama's. I like her brains and the way her mind fires lightening fast in the midst of a heated debate. I think she's probably riotously funny behind closed doors. But when it comes to making her my President, until I know the essence of who she is, I can't vote for her.
I think, deep down, what matter to Hillary Clinton most is winning. She wants to be the President of the United States so badly she can taste it, and she doesn't really care who she has to run over or align herself with to get there. She'll say anything, do anything, to get there, run over anybody who gets in her way. That is a kind of hunger that scares me. Dick Cheney had that kind of hunger. Nixon had that kind of hunger.
Tonight, when I go home and curl up on the couch with TIVO to watch the debates (and, yes, TIVO and I are still very much in love), I will be interested to see who shows up to stand behind Hillary Clinton's podium. Will it be the gun-loving, whisky-swilling man's man? Or will it be the tender, crying-on-the-inside kind of clown who just wants to make this country like it was when (sniff, sniff) she was a girl? Or maybe it will be the effete, educated Hillary Clinton, who went to school, studied hard, worked hard and didn't take guff from the boys? (That would actually be my preference, since my gut feeling tells me this is the closest to her true persona.) The suspense is almost too much to bear. My vagina and I can barely contain ourselves.