Mad Cow Disease
Oh yeah. The new media meme. ''Angry white women'' has replaced the ''soccer mom'' as the new stereotype for female voters. This time though, we're ''angry'' because our girl ''Hillary'' -- not Senator Clinton, ya see, because that would be, like, too dignified and manly -- lost to Barack Obama and doesn't know when to quit or how to get off his stage.
Grasping, overreaching ''bitch.''
Today, one person steps back and takes a rational view. That person is of the female and Democrat persuasion so she's kind of biased and maybe, as a woman, a little hysterical but she's worth reading anyway.
Since it became clear that Hillary Clinton would likely bow out of the race for the Democratic nomination for president, the dominant narrative has been the angry white women who are holding back from Barack Obama. Some even suggest that John McCain can make a major play for these disaffected Clinton supporters. The problem with this narrative is that it is mostly wrong, ignoring history and failing to understand Obama's real challenge among women voters.
No doubt, there are some Clinton supporters who currently find it difficult to contemplate supporting Obama, but most of these women are highly engaged, progressive Democratic voters; it is difficult to imagine them ultimately supporting McCain, who has a career-long, anti-woman record.
In fact, Obama is actually doing better than John Kerry with women voters; Kerry won them by 3 points, and according to polling from Democracy Corps research, Obama is currently winning them by 6 points. Obama's improvement over Kerry comes among college educated and younger women -- the most progressive voters in the electorate.
But golly gee whiz, why should women be angry anyway? Don't we have more rights than men, thanks to feminism? Don't we get allowed to have jobs and bank accounts and the vote now? Aren't we enough of a special interest group? What more do we want?
How about a little fairness in and from the media?
The most traditional location to reach the political establishment, the Washington Post opinion section, is brazenly male-dominated. Seventeen of the 19 columnists are men; only three of the columnists are racial minorities. Guest op-eds could present more voices, but they rarely do. This year, only 12 percent of the Post's guest pieces came from women, according to a May count by ombudsman Deborah Howell. At the New York Times, eight of the ten weekly columnists are men; one is black. (The Times also recently created a bimonthly graphics column, a post filled by a black commentator.) And in an industry review last year, about one out of four columnists were women at the largest syndicates around the country, according to Editor and Publisher. As Times columnist Nick Kristoff lamented last month, even as reporting staffs diversify, white men dominate American punditry "from newspaper columnists to television talking heads."
The disparity is striking on air. Most anchors, producers and writers in television news are women, according to the Radio and Television News Directors Association, yet the vast majority of prime time hosts, who dominate campaign coverage and frame presidential debates, are white men. That includes all the Sunday morning hosts, all the prime time hosts on MSNBC, and all but one of the prime time hosts on CNN and FOX.
More today on media bias from my Star colleague Judy Gerstel here.
Researcher Erika Falk documented what she sees as sexist bias against Hillary Clinton. "She wasn't treated like the typical male candidate," says the communications expert at Johns Hopkins University. Falk analyzed the first month of campaign coverage in the top six circulating American newspapers, including USA Today, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times.
She found that Clinton:
• Was more likely than Obama to have her legislative title dropped and be referred to by her first name or by her gender.
• Was mentioned in just 65 per cent of the number of articles as Obama. Only nine stories mentioned Clinton without mentioning Obama; 38 stories mentioned Obama without Clinton.
• Had fewer paragraphs written about her than Obama did – 631 about her and 934 about him.
• Was less likely to see her name in a headline than Obama: 59 stories had headlines with "Obama" to just 36 with "Clinton."
As former Liberal deputy prime minister Sheila Copps told Judy:
"(Clinton) was supplanted," Copps says, speaking by phone from Mexico. "We were sideswiped on the way to the White House."
Now, citing the "blatant" sexism in the media coverage of Clinton, she says, "What's even sadder is that people can't even see it."
You can lead the chauvinists and the colonialized to the facts but you can't make them think.
Maybe this video from the Women's Media Center will serve:
The “second wave,” dating roughly from Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique -- a polemic of 1963 that wove strands of earlier feminism together with neo-Marxism and neo-Freudianism into a stinging lash -- began with the observation that women remained “subjugated” by false consciousness even after being legally freed, and demanded that the de jure accomplishments of previous generations be consolidated de facto. The target became “patriarchy,” and with this, men qua men. Beneath the radar, the target became women who persisted in behaving like women.
This is the feminism I was raised in, and I remember how slowly its tenets seemed to spread -- though in retrospect it was an historical blink of an eye. The cutting-edge “hippie chicks,” who were my precise contemporaries, sought liberation, but continued to dress and behave in stereotypically feminine ways. Indeed, for many men of my generation, those were the last real girls we ever got to see, and we remember them fondly.
Angry white women? Who us?