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On Selfishness, Silliness, and the Female Vote

Posted by pocochina on June 15, 2008

As Riverdaughter pointed out so clearly, the guilt end of the bullying corralling convincing Clinton supporters into line is predicated on a very basic assumption – women are socialized to put others first, and that’s why they are so confident that their “McCain will do XYZ and it will be ALL YOUR FAULT” will work.  I mean, it must be our fault if something goes wrong.

Female assertiveness is assumed to be a bad thing. Not only is this the central point of much of the primary coverage (or the Obama campaign’s tactics against Clinton), it’s also the way in which the Democratic Party has gained its choke hold on single women’s votes.  Something else is always more important, girls, but in the meantime, LOOK AT THE BIG SCARY REPUBLICAN.  This is particularly the point behind the blog post taken apart so brilliantly here.

It’s also, nauseatingly, the point behind this post. (Disturbingly and surprisingly linked to with approval by Feministing.) I have a lot of problems with the VOTE FOR OBAMA OR ELSE argument, but this one, because it’s written by a liberal woman and apparently approved of by one of the more influential feminist voices on the intertubes, is particularly upsetting. First of all, it’s predicated on the Roe stick, which I find to be reprehensible. Secondly, of course, it relies on the assumption that to vote for a candidate means one approves of all of the policies of that candidate. Clinton supporters, no matter what, are weighing our second, third, and fourth choices, and (unlike many Obama supporters) were already supporting a candidate we acknowledged from the start was less than perfect.  We’re not going to be signing any loyalty oaths in the near future – if we agreed with McCain or Obama  on all of our most important issues, WE’D HAVE VOTED FOR MCCAIN OR OBAMA.  Since we didn’t, it’s pretty clear that we’re going to be compromising regardless – YES even if we vote Green or abstain from the top of the ballot – so this “loyalty oath” crap is trivializing of the complexity of our decisions.  If it were true that a vote for a candidate involved unquestioning endorsement of that candidate, and those poor fools really need such things written out for them, I’m more than willing to write up similarly infuriating loyalty oaths for female, feminist, working-class, rural, sick, older, queer, brown, partisan Democratic, and/or non-Christian Obama supporters. Point being not that those people shouldn’t vote for Obama, but that they are compromising on something that government can or should do for them with their support for him. Oh, and cupcakes, aren’t our Clinton-supporter-stereotypes shifting with the winds! First Clinton’s base was made entirely of geriatric post-sexual DINOs, but now all of a sudden we are fecund young things, whose entire political involvement revolves around our baby-making-parts! We can barely keep them in control!

Most importantly, though, is the snide condescension towards female voters – that women do not understand who we are voting for. I can’t speak to the original author, but I do know that Feministing has earned its place in blogland at least in part based on its righteous fury at the idea that women are silly, irrational actors who should just be patted on the head and told what’s best for us. And yet, here they are, doing just that. Those silly wimminz can’t possibly know what it’s like to have an abortion what John McCain stands for! Here’s a clue – if the media is right, and these women who proudly supported a female feminist candidate so energetically are willing to jump ship from Obama and the Democratic Party to the famously anti-woman McCain, THEN THERE’S SOMETHING SERIOUSLY FUCKED UP GOING ON WITH OBAMA AND/OR THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.  And if these angry women (whether or not they even exist in significant numbers) are so important, THEN OBAMA AND THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY SHOULD DAMNED WELL BE LISTENING.  All the demonization of little old ladies in the world isn’t going to change that; in fact, all it does is locate a convenient scapegoat should the party lose in November – blame those irrational women! – and further excuse the unending trivialization of feminist issues within the party, not to mention absolve the fucked-up nomination process that got us a nominee who may well not have been our strongest GE contender. And it buys into the misogynist media narrative, which (now that the Dragon Lady is safely slayed, of course) even the media, in grudging and IQ-lite forms of course, is willing to admit is bullshit.

Feminist liberals can support Obama, remain in the Democratic party, and still fucking hold both accountable when they show signs of sell-out take women for granted bullshit.  Join in the HRC-voter scapegoating, and you’re (a) pushing us [further, for some women] away and (b) buying into the Blame Women First narrative of, oh, I don’t know, EVERYTHING ELSE that keeps our culture a fucking misogynist patriarchy.  I’m trying to be better than that.  I’d like to think I’m not alone.

Oh.  And no, this post is not an endorsement or criticism of Obama, McCain, McKinney, or abstention.  It’s a criticism of an aspect of electoral politics which is bad for women, and is going to continue to be bad for women as long as we think it’s “funny” and refuse to criticize it.  However, if my smart-ass low-traffic blog is more convincing than your candidate’s millions of dollars and supporters, YOUR CANDIDATE DOESN’T DESERVE TO WIN.

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