Warning Rant ahead!
Right now, Americans are being very smug. Oh look at us. “We have a White woman and a Black man running for President of the United States”. “Oh look how far we have come”. “Racism is a thing of the past”. “Obama not only has the African-American vote, he is also drawing white men out in their numbers in such non-diverse states like Alaska”. “Sexism is non-existent”. Blah! Blah! Blah!”
Well, hold up America, I beg to differ. Both are very alive and well thank you very much.
The seeds which yield the racist mentality are also fodder for the sexist mentality though the results differ historically and in the manner of oppression. But it is oppression none the less. The problem is with what is considered the “social norm” here in the United States, in western societies, heck in the world thanks to globalization. This “norm” has for centuries been crafted and re-defined by men, white men specifically, and it is with this background that both women and racial minorities suffer oppression.
I was recently asked whether I felt internal conflict as to who to vote for since Clinton shares my alma mater and Obama is well black like I am (that was implied). Of course it didn’t matter to them that I’m not American in the first place. I’m Black in America so it’s all the same.
But that question got me thinking. I recalled Sojourner Truth who once said, “and ain’t I woman?” I mean for goodness sake. The media tells us that women are voting for Clinton and Black people are voting for Obama. We are supposed to understand that woman is synonymous with white woman. The rest of us XX gendered people are essentially sexless and unfeminine. We are unworthy of nationwide news reports when we disappear, get kidnapped, get killed by those who supposedly love us, or when we run away from our own wedding.
This is nothing new mind you. It’s not just this election. Look at the feminist movement. That movement was solely to liberate white women. When by saying “woman” or “feminist” the image conjured is that of a white woman, you know there’s a problem. The issue with the movement is that it fails to account for racism. Their own shortcomings and that of white men as well. By failing to recognize that the fundamental structures of oppression that underlies these “-isms“, the feminist movement undermines itself. But that’s another story.
So fine. Let’s ignore the enigma that is The Black Woman and assume that women (read white women) are voting for Clinton and Blacks (of all genders) are voting for Obama. Where does that leave the White man? The unfortunate white man who for the first time does not have the option of people who look like him to choose between. Well, it appears from recent polls and results of the primaries, they would rather a fellow man than a *itch (doesn’t matter if you choose either W or B to replace that *) in the White House even if SHE is White.
I’m to assume that is no problem. I’m to be happy, as a Black person, that White men prefer Obama to Clinton. I’m to take that to mean racism is dead and gone. I’m to continue to not see that sexism is all around us. R-I-G-H-T!
You know what else is smug. Assuming that Obama automatically has the Black vote. That the Black vote in the first place is a monolith thing. As if all 12% of the Black vote alone can actually put a Black person in the White House. Fine, Obama does seem to be the favourite among Black voters, but would it be too much to assume that is so because he is every bit as qualified, as accomplished, as educated, yes visionary, and inspirational, and gasp articulate as any other candidate if not more. Let’s not forget who currently sleeps in the White House, okay?
I haven’t forgotten circa 2006-2007. It wasn’t that long ago that Mr/Senator Barack Obama wasn’t Black enough for Black America. Let me refresh your memory.
- he’s not a direct descendant of slaves
- he hasn’t had a true African-American experience
- he hasn’t been to jail like all the other Civil Rights leaders
- he doesn’t fit the stereotypical black leader/reverend/ civil rights fighter role
Need I say more?
Combine that with the fact that Black America claims to have already had its first Black president in the form of William Jefferson Clinton. That he came from a poor single parent home, enjoys southern and junk food, plays the saxophone, has unbridled sexuality, cheats on his wife while she stands by his side, and moves his headquarters to Harlem, Black Mecca, is enough to make him down with the people. If Barack Obama had just stayed quiet in the Senate instead of running his mouth with all his inspirational speeches despite his lack of experience, Hilary Clinton would actually have had the Black vote by default.
Forget that Hilary Clinton has actually worked hard to get to where she is at. It may as well have been a political move to stay with her cheating husband all along. Either way, she’s doomed if she does, and doomed if she doesn’t. One day she’s the Ice Queen, the next she’s a weak, manipulative girl. One day, the issue is her cleavage or hairstyle, the next it’s her thick ankles, like ankles have any role to play in determining a person’s leadership role. “Go home and iron my shirt“, really? No one told any of the male candidates to go home and mow the lawn or take out the trash!
Yes! America in 2008. The land of equality. Sexism is a thing of the past and exists only in all those third world and Islāmic countries who have yet to see the light. Poppycock!
Sexism is so deeply ingrained in this society that sometimes even us forward thinking women are perpetrators. The media, both the male and female journalists make fun of Clinton. Am I’m supposed to bite my lip and not comment. No, it’s not nothing. It’s not mountains out of anthills. Why is America, a so-called “civilized” nation so afraid of the possibility of a woman leader?!
On a different note why to this day do women get asked what they plan to do with their names. What’s in a name you say? It’s an identity. It’s my identity. I don’t see anyone rushing to take away a man’s identity. Men aren’t out there grappling about whether they are going to keep their name, hyphenate their name, or gasp take their spouse’s name. So why on earth am I bombarded with questions about what I’m going to do with my name. WHAT DO YOU THINK? My name was given to me at birth and I’m going to die with it thank you very much! My name is just as important to me as a mans is to him.
Alright, off my soapbox and back to the original rant.
It’s nothing new. When confronted by a woman who dares to tread into “their territory”, men do what they do best – belittle the unfortunate woman by reminding everybody about their sex/gender and judging them based on appearances.
Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are viable presidential candidates and it is exciting that either could make history. There’s still the issue of McCain who is also presidential material. It is a shame that Clinton and Obama have decided to run at the same time as one of them must lose.
In parting, don’t vote for Clinton because she’s a woman. Don’t vote for Obama because he’s Black. Vote for either regardless of her gender and his colour. How about that?