Culture, Identity, Religion

Blogging the Omer, Day 18: Obama girl, not; and I'm waiting for the day when we can stop talking about these kinds of things.

Week Three, Day Four
Netzach of Tiferet
A new Gallup poll shows that Barack Obama would do nearly as well as Hillary Clinton among Jewish voters in November.

According to the poll, Clinton would win 66 percent of the Jewish vote versus 27 percent for John McCain in a general-election matchup. Obama would do nearly as well, winning 61 percent to McCain’s 32 percent.

But, still, I just can’t get all the way on the bandwagon. It’s not that I don’t like Obama, but I’m still not convinced that he’s all so much greater than Hil. but that’s not all of it, really. Rebecca Traister said it very well ( and was referenced in this week’s Nation in an article about how Clinton’s using race really is troubling) some time ago in noting how there’s more than just a whiff of real misogyny in the gleeful bandwagoning of Obama.
I’m not inclined to vote for Clinton just because she’s a woman (nor, I must admit, for Obama because he’s African American; I still mourn for Edwards), but I can’t just quite move on from the underlying weirdness of the way so many of my progressive friends -the male ones mostly- talk about Clinton. Usually it’s not in such stark terms as the crazy righties do, they aren’t buying the Hilary toilet plungers or anything, but there is that underlying discomfort which itself is something that they are uncomfortable with, but instead of addressing that problem, it can be disguised by some genuine problems with her policies and campaign style.
Traister nails a lot of it head on:

O’Brien said, “With straight white male progressive friends, I feel something that makes me viscerally angry and afraid — the viciousness of the rebuttals to the suggestion that [Obama’s and Clinton’s] policies are roughly equal or that Clinton’s have some benefits to them, the outright dismissal of any support of her, the impossibility of having a nuanced conversation … The whole ‘Hillary Clinton is a monster’ theme is so virulent.”
Alex Seggerman, a 24-year-old art history Ph.D. student at Yale and an Obama voter, said, “I don’t think anyone in my peer group, including my parents and my friends, would be comfortable saying, ‘I’m not ready for a woman president.’ They would be ostracized. Saying, ‘She’s had plastic surgery’ or ‘Her attitude is off-putting’ are fine. But these are really expressions of some deeper issues with the fact that she’s a woman.”
…Valenti continued, “Because their friends were not being specifically sexist, or saying something that was tangibly misogynistic, they were having a hard time talking about the sexism of it.” Valenti confirmed that this “Feminine Mystique”-y problem that has no name was familiar to her. “I spoke to a guy friend who said, ‘You’re being ridiculous. I’m not not voting for her because she’s a woman; I’m not voting for her because she’s a bitch!’ He could not see the connection between the two things at all.” Valenti said he explained away his comment by declaring, “I mean ‘a bitch’ in the sense that she’s not good on this or that issue.”

I don’t like the whole oppression olympics. I don’t like it when Jews do it, and I don’t like it among any other groups, either, but I’m definitely not alone in wondering why there’s no real answers -other than the sort of nutty first wave “you must vote with your ovaries”- to how we can end the divide and conquer between the race and gender camps, without having one side or the other have to continue to suffer along with the same old crap.
IN the meantime, since we still live in a world where things like this are firsts, let’s be proud of them.JTA reports on Alysa Stanton-Ogulnick, who reportedly will become the the first black female Reform rabbi next May, when she is ordained at the Cincinnati campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
Glad ta meetcha.

8 thoughts on “Blogging the Omer, Day 18: Obama girl, not; and I'm waiting for the day when we can stop talking about these kinds of things.

  1. I would suggest ending the gender & racial clash by focusing on fighting the larger class struggle.
    It’s a technique the Republicans mastered (cf. Condi Rice, Colin Powell, Libby Dole) as their top 1% waged war on the rest of us.
    The sad fact is that when it came time to run the money primary — the fundraising campaign that probably began the day after the ’06 elections — there was no legitimate progressive voice who could make a strong appeal. Up until Biden found FISA religion, there were no Democrats who made a career of standing up to Bush lies and fighting hard against the Iraq fiasco.
    So who was sexy? Who could make a strong appeal for thousands of dollars?
    The answer was a candidate who could make the donors feel good. As I discovered on election night ’06, Hillary was making women feel good about “making it.” I was horrified that someone could worry about putting a woman in the White House at a time when the Constitution needed to be restored — and when the Republicans had been raising money with the threat of Hillary for years. But the Hillary supporter wasn’t all that worked up about Bush anyway — she apparently got her new from the New York Times, rather than Talking Points Memo or Daily Kos.
    Along comes Obama who offered the same positive buzz to a post-feminist generation. Not only were there policies and positions similar — they were both offering donors a chance to join a history-making, barrier-smashing, bandwagon.
    And the donors bought two candidates who weren’t too upset about torture, weren’t bent out of line by illlegal wiretapping, who weren’t really too concerned about unaccountable defense contractors lining their pockets at the expense of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians.
    So really, is it surprising that a candidate whose ticket to the primary process was paid by people who believed in her personhood rather than any progressive vision was willing to reinforce Republican talking points when she had no other option?
    In an alternate world where Obama was trailing in the polls, would he have resisted the win-at-all-costs advice? Who knows.
    But I do remember my one brush with identity politics. Back in 2000, I was thrilled to have a Shabbat-observing, kosher-keeping candidate who even – get this! — preferred the term “traditional” to “Orthodox.” (My piece for the Forward at the time is here.) By November 06, of course, my pride in Lieberman had turned into deep shame in a landsman gone bad. My prayer is that this year’s Obama girls and boys don’t suffer the same remorse for their political enthusiasms.

  2. IN the meantime, since we still live in a world where things like this are firsts, let’s be proud of them.JTA reports on Alysa Stanton-Ogulnick, who reportedly will become the the first black female Reform rabbi next May, when she is ordained at the Cincinnati campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
    The article says she’ll be the first black female rabbi, period.

  3. OTOH, I’m skeptical of claims like this: i.e. claims about the first women rabbis of X; it’s regularly claimed that HAviva Ner David is the first Orthodox women rabbis (nope) that Ray Frank was the first woman rabbi (wrong – maybe the first one ordained by a modern institution, but hat’s not the same thing), and so on.
    So, for all I know there might well have been among the early women who served their communities as rabbis (and there were several, and who knows, maybe more) one whose skin was quite dark. Although in retrospect, she wouldn’t have been African-American, just African, mostl likely. I don’t care either way, I wish her luck and joy.

  4. you can’t blame obama’s campaign for the sexism in the general world. however, as an obama supporter, i wish he would take a public principled stance against the shit being flung around.
    that being said, his campaign has not even come close to the type of shit hillary’s campaign has been (race baiting).
    in addition, hillary’s campaign has a serious sexism (and racism – yay intersectionalism!) problem itself. when her supporters are declaring that she is the more manly, that she has more ballz, and that makes her qualified to lead, that’s sexism. when her supporter uses a gay slur to promote her toughness, that’s an issue. all this while implicitly and explicitly feminizing and emasculating the black male candidate? nice job promoting racist trends, hillary’s campaign.

  5. Ray Frank was never ordained – she just took some classes at HUC. Anyhow, the broader point is that it’s not the firsts that matter so much as the fact that its happening. So, yay for her!

  6. As a “straight, whiite male progressive”, I would like to take issue with the notion that dislike of Hillary can be blamed on sexism or some variant of identity politics. In my opinion, THE issue in this election is the Iraq war – and Obama opposed it, while Hillary supported it and continues to fudge. In addition, Hillary has – rather ridiculously – threatened Iran with nukes while Obama has called for dialouge. These are more than enough reasons to choose Obama over Hillary.
    I think the depth of the anger against Hillary comes from the feeling that she is trying to palm herself off as a genuine progressive when she is, in fact, a self-serving opportunist. Progressives don’t threaten nuclear war in order to ingratiate themselves with specific voting blocs.

  7. Howie hits it for me. KRG, I hear you, especially on the mourning Edwards (I went to NH for him). My problem with Senator Clinton is that she’s a DLC-er trying to pretend she’s populist and progressive. And now, my problem with her is the way she’s campaigned the last month or so, scorched earth and all. Does it make me a bad feminist for not supporting a woman candidate because I have massive issues with her previous positions (especially her stumping for free trade and the war votes)?

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