Friday, June 13, 2008

Now The New York Times calls attention to media sexism

On the front page of The New York Times this morning is an article on the recent criticism of the sexism in the media coverage of Hillary Clinton during her campaign.

Why is this suddenly a new story only now that she lost the nomination bid and such a criticism has lost all its punch, all of its immediacy, its effect?

I've been tracking the media's sexism since last year. It was last July that the Washington Post ran the "cleavage" story, and back in June Maureen Dowd started dipping her pen in her own self-hating anti-feminist screed: Dowd wrote in June 2007, "And like Tony, Hillary is so power-hungry that she can justify any thuggish means to get the prize." Come on, does any one doubt that any presidential candidate is not "power-hungry"? It's only a problem, for both female and male commentators/columnists, obviously, when that candidate is a woman seeking power, hungrily.

What no-one has mentioned is how the media, from the get-go, prevented Hillary Clinton from capitalizing on the historic nature of her candidacy by focusing on how she was a woman candidate. As soon as she tried to do that, in a speech announcing her candidacy at the historically significant locale of Wellesley, the media was down her throat saying she was "raising the gender card." But at the very same time, Obama was being praised by media commentators for being "post-race", for transcending race. In reality, he was alluding to his race at every chance he got, but he got away with seeming to rise above his race by not mentioning it directly and just alluding to his run being "historic" and referencing slavery and Martin Luther King.

Friday, June 6, 2008

On Todd Purdham's Hatchet Job on Bill Clinton

The recent issue of Vanity Fair features a negative piece on Bill Clinton. First of all, the very fact that Purdham has written this piece as if negative commentary on Bill Clinton sheds light on Hillary Clinton's worth as a presidential candidate reflects the misogyny inherent in the piece and in the media at large.

Why is only Hillary Clinton's spouse delved into with such bilious detail? Only she has been judged as if a word or statement by her husband is ipso facto a word or statement by her, as in that debate in which Obama mentioned a statement Bill Clinton had made in order to criticize Hillary.

Here's a telling quote from the piece, after Purdham questions why Bill Clinton hasn't detailed the names of all the people who have donated to his foundation:

"Clinton is under no legal obligation to disclose such donors—or, for that matter, to disclose much of anything about his personal financial dealings. No one knows the details of the earnings—almost certainly many millions of dollars—that the first President Bush has made from his investment in the Carlyle Group, for example. Gerald Ford quietly raked in big director’s fees from companies such as American Express, and Ronald Reagan briefly scandalized late-80s Washington by taking $2 million for a single speaking trip to Japan. But their wives never ran for president."

That's the justification Purdham offers for giving Bill Clinton harsher treatment, putting his financial dealings under the microscope in a way that President Bush never has been.

Of course their wives never ran for President. Hillary Clinton is the first female presidential candidate! That doesn't explain why Bush and Ford and Reagan were not inspected under the microscope by the media in the way that this piece is excorciating Bill Clinton.

Great Op-Ed by Judith Warner on Misogynistic Treatment of Hillary Clinton

In this well-written piece, Warner compares the fluffy froth of "Sex and the City" with its characters all dressed up in frilly outfits, with the serious pantsuits of Hillary Clinton, and argues t.hat the earnestness of Hillary Clinton is not acceptable in this misogynistic post-feminist age.