Friday, May 18, 2007

Gender Politics 101: Or Why Hillary Won't Win

My husband thinks I hate women.

Not only do I hate women,
according to Hubby, but all women hate women. In his view, we double-X
chromosomed creatures arise every morning in our feminine loveliness,
look at ourselves in the mirror and say, "What a beautiful, smart,
wonderful woman I am. I hope my husband's pretty co-worker gets a skin

This, apparently, is the only way Hubby sees fit to
explain my belief that a woman will never be elected president. When I
– and all my girlfriends (I have girlfriends, despite Hubby's
assertion) – say that Hillary won't win, Hubby gets apoplectic and
claims, "You're the one keeping her down.

"If she doesn't win, it's because women hate her," he says. 

is true that women have the capacity to despise other women. We are
also pretty good at excoriating men, not to mention vermin and certain
species of mold. But to say that the only thing keeping a woman from
being elected president is other women completely baffled me.

Brill heard Hubby's theory, she said, "But I'm going to vote for her. I
still don't think she'll win, but I'm going to vote for her anyway."

eyes practically popped out of his skull: "By saying that you don't
think she could win, you're spreading the kind of negativity about her
that will make her not win."

Brill and I blinked at him a few
times, both wondering whether he'd secretly been watching Oprah and was
quoting to us from "The Secret."

My friends tried to explain
it to Hubby, get him to understand that our calling other people sexist
doesn't make us sexist. We just believe that, unconsciously, most male
voters want their presidents to possess certain pendulous organs along
with strong resumes.

Hubby wouldn't hear any of it. The only
thing keeping Hillary – or any woman – from the presidency is the
cattiness of other women.

I had no idea that Hubby had this
view of gender relations. He must think girls' night out is like one
long scene from "Heathers." That the Red Tent got its name from all the
back-stabbing he imagines goes on inside. Women hate women, and our
disbelief in the possibility of a woman getting men to vote for her was
all the proof Hubby needed.

Ha, ha, ha. Isn't Hubby silly? Oh,
wait, what's this? Shortly after Hubby began calling me a sexist,
stories emerged from France's election – the one in which Ségolène
Royal lost.

At the time, I had figured gender had nothing to do
with Royal's defeat. She's a socialist. She was up against a
right-winger. I had figured Nicolas Sarkozy's win was all about
ideology. But in the days following the election, stories were written
with headlines like "Women shun Royal," and "Sarkozy gets the women's

None of the stories suggested that women voted for
Sarkozy because they preferred his policies. Instead, the pieces
focused on how much women really didn't like Royal.

One paper
quoted a female Sarkozy operative saying, "Her 'I'm beautiful, look at
me, I've got four children' might impress a supermarket checkout girl,
but we don't use that card."


The stories left me
wondering: Is Hubby right? Are women the only thing standing in the way
of a female president? Do women hate women?

No. Of course not, Leslie assured me.

Saying that the country is too sexist to vote for a woman doesn't make me a woman-hater.

is basically arguing that we're making things worse via the so-called
soft bigotry of low expectations. Incorrect. We're just commenting on
the current state of the playing field," Leslie reassured me.

Thank you, sister, for helping me through a critical moment of doubt. I
will no longer question whether my fatalistic view of gender politics
is a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy. I will not wonder whether women
inevitably turn on each other. Whether we're our own worst enemies. I
will rest assured in the knowledge that women evaluate each other based
on our qualifications and experience – not on petty jealousies or weird
Darwinian dictates.

But I still kinda hope Hubby's pretty co-worker develops a skin disease.


  1. Sing it sister!
    Just as my dear husband is convinced that deep down everyone is racist, I feel the same about sexism. I also think that while racism is talked about and people know it's wrong and will do things like vote for a person of color just so they can say, "I'm not racist. I voted for Obama/Rodriguez/Chang" they feel no need to do the same for a woman. They may never say it aloud, but in their head and in that booth a lot of people are going to have thoughts like, "Well, we can't have a woman president. Other countries Heads of States won't respect and deal with her. We're progressive, but they're backwards. Of course I'm ready for a woman, but they aren't. Maybe next time."
    Our darling husbands seem to have forgotten that when Bill ran, Hillary had to drop the Rodham from her name and do spin control for suspected untraditional gender views by subjecting herself to a photo shoot of her baking cookies.
    I'm already hearing people say that if she wins maybe Chelsea should take on the duties of First Lady. What? Are they beneath a man?
    I'll even go as far as to say that all the men we know who keep blowing off the women who are telling them these things over and over are kind of sexist too. Trust us, it's not hysterics or our time of the month.