June has given way to July and what promises to be a long and hot summer. And I have had the dubious pleasure of watching a brutal, unforgiving presidential primary come to its end. Last time around , I was still a newbie , getting used to life in Amrika. This time I followed the news avidly. My earlier political experience was limited to the two elections that I got to vote in India. Democracy in India is fractured but alive. The multi-party system works overtime: political parties split and are reborn in fresh avatars every day. My induction as such to the two -party world of American politics has not been uplifting.
I make no secret of the fact that I am pro -Hillary. Long before she was senator of New York , I was a fan. I read her books and she seemed to me to be just the kind of person who could become the first female head of state in America , someone detail oriented, with practical solutions for pressing social issues such as healthcare . America for me – when I was growing up in India and feeling the first stirrings of feminism – seemed a distant utopia in which Women’s liberation was not a bad word but a reality. American women that I saw on the soap operas and sundry programs ( that were imported to India thanks to Star TV!)seemed so confident, so sure of themselves and so sexually aware. The women anchors on American TV programs glittered with high polish – all vim and verve. That, I thought, was the place to be if one wanted to be taken seriously as a professional and careerwoman.
This wrenching primary has been a complete eye-opener . This has been a lose-lose primary for the Democratic party as far as I am concerned. What could have been an inspirational primary with the first serious woman contender for President and the first serious multi-racial, person of color as contender for President has dissolved into a mess of identity politics.
The tremendous misogyny and sexism that the so -called Free Press displayed shattered any illusions that I had. And what galls the most is that women journalists were some of the worst offenders. I believe that it was Madeline Albright who said ” There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women “. (Women of slate.com’s XX factor – that means you ! )These women spent the primary wasting their excellent prose and erudite reasoning on discussing whether Clinton’s marriage was real or a sham. Don’t take my word that women journalists contributed to the ongoing sexism – listen to the NY times ombudsman here taking to task a prominent female journalist at his own paper for her unrelenting and sophomoric venom.( link)
Why, I wonder , is all the soul searching and navel-gazing happening now, after the dust has settled? Where was the outrage when my candidate was called the b -word not once, but several times on national television? Where was the outrage when so -called journalists hacks were writing about her cleavage ( the Washington post ) , commenting on “thick angles” ( Carl Bernstein! ) , referring to her as being like ” everyone’s first wife” ( Glen Beck), calling her ” shrill” ( too many to enumerate) , comparing her to Glenn Close’s maniacal character in ” Fatal attraction”? ( No link-love from me in this post – I do not want to send traffic to any of the worst offenders !)
What was the leadership of the Democratic party doing ? The silence was deafening ! And, please do not tell me about the racism – real and imagined – that the presumptive Democratic nominee faced. Racism vs Sexism is not a battle that I either think is legitimate or want to fight. Both are abhorrent. Unfortunately, we live in times when its more acceptable to be sexist than racist. Why , the ratings practically demand it ! Again, don’t take my word for it – take a look at the Media Hall of Shame at NOW. (link)
This was a chance for true change . For anyone who cares deeply about women’s issues to finally feel that there was someone who could lead this country with a true understanding that ” Women’s rights are Human rights” . Instead we are stuck with two less-than-stellar candidates for POTUS . One of whom called his wife the c- word in public, told a filthy offensive and sexist joke about Chelsea Clinton -and is opposed to a woman’s right to choose. The other is no better with his silent acceptance of the “Bros before hos” T-shirts sold at his campaign events , the playing of JayZ’s “I have 99 problems but the bitch isn’t one of them” at his campaign stops, his flipping of the bird, his statements on HRCs “claws” coming out.
I definitely learned something from this primary. I learned that “post-feminist” means its open season on women and that one needs to be wilfully blind to sexism. Indeed, one can contribute to it like the aforementioned women of slate.com did, secure in the knowledge that they were just displaying post-feminism! I also learned that “post-racial” means anyone who disagrees with you is a racist.
This is what the Democratic primary has gifted us : national debate that goes like this:
And come November , those of you who can vote get to choose between the party that has no record on women’s rights and the party that is not above using Roe V Wade to scare women into voting for their nominee. What are we – walking wombs?
Meanwhile the silliness continues with polls about which First Lady is better perceived by a public that seemingly finds cookie recipes of utmost importance. I watch with horror as both Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama attempt to metamorphose into Stepford wives. Pardon me while I gag!
Bitter? Angry ? Hell, yes !