Thursday, January 10, 2008

Gloria, Gloria, Gloria

       I can’t lie. In my heart of contrarian hearts, Dennis Kucinich is my favorite Dem candidate. But I know his run is more about him being the gadfly, injecting and trying to keep certain issues and perspectives on the table rather than actually hoping to capture the White House. I’d be fine with either Barack Obama or John Edwards as the Dem candidate. (To be honest, my current politico crush is on Michelle Obama.) Hillary has always been my hold-my-nose-and-vote choice, the one I’ll go with if that’s who the party chooses. (To be really honest, I wish there were a way to vote a Repub in the White House just to have the political blowback that the next several years are going to bring fall squarely at a Republican’s feet, but that deserved comeuppance would come at too high a price for this country.) Still, my disdain for Hillary peaked two days ago not because of anything she actually said or did (which I admit isn't fair), but because of Gloria Steinem’s eye-poppingly idiotic New York Times Op-Ed piece in which she claimed to not do the very thing she did, which was pit race against gender in the Oppression Olympics and handicap the race in such a way that voting for a Black man becomes a reflexive vote for the status quo, while voting for a white woman who is part and parcel of this country’s political apparatus becomes a radical gesture.
      While Steinem actually does make salient points about the barriers and obstacles that still face white women in the world at large and in the world of politics (and make no mistake, when old-school myopic feminist Glo speaks of “women” she only sees white women and their issues… too bad for you if you’re a femme who inhabits multiple identity slots), her take on race and politics is gallingly and tellingly swiss-cheesed: full of holes. She notes that, “Black men were given the vote a half-century before women of any race were allowed to mark a ballot black men were given the vote…” but quite crucially doesn’t go any further to note that, for the most part, that “gift” was kinda meaningless until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (And the last two presidential election cycles proved how flimsy that gift was for countless black folks, men and women. But why would Glo trouble herself with those messy details?)
      Steinem lays out her thesis pretty plainly, “Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life,” which holds up great if you ignore the shoddy imbalance of funding in the American educational system, the brutal racism that still girds law making and enforcement in this country, the gross inequities in healthcare afforded folks of color versus their white counterparts (not that poor and middle class white folk aren’t doing their part for equality in that arena by graciously getting royally shafted too), the pressing and little reported crisis of affordable housing that is driving black folk out of what were once black enclaves in major urban centers of this country… Not to mention that women of color (and I do mean Latinas, Asian women and the myriad hybrid racial identities that exist, as well as women of African descent) might take issue with such simplistic reducing of their realities.
      Here are two wonderful rebuttals to Steinem’s piece. The first is from the reliably on-point Jeff Chang and the other is from Jennifer Fang. Definitely check them out.

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