Monday, June 9, 2008


In Cynthia Tucker's column on 6-4-08, she takes women to task for noting the sexism that pervaded the Democratic primary season. She argues that by doing so, we're "whining" and playing into a culture of victimhood, which diminishes Clinton and ourselves. My local paper even headlines the column with "No Reason to Be Whiny."

Am I alone in seeing the irony? By pointing out what is true, that this primary season, as previously pointed out by former press secretary Dee Dee Meyers in a Vanity Fair blog, shows that racial epithets are not condoned and that sexist ones are tolerated as a matter of course, we're whining?

Cynthia, help me understand this. When we point out blatant double-standards, are we whining? When we notice how often her appearance was noted in the press, are we whining? When we count the number of times, in the mainstream media, the word "bitch" was used, are we whining? Are we retreating to the classic female role of victim? Are we asking to be saved by a big strong man who will make the mean sexist boys and girls stop saying those mean things? I think not.

I think that by writing it off, playing it down, and letting it go AGAIN and AGAIN because that's what nice compliant girls do, we're settling for the most classic female role of all. We'll suffer in silence for something others perceive as a greater good. We'll defer our victories so a man can have a better chance. What is that but claiming the victim role and turning it into a twisted female virtue. Who's a better victim than a female martyr?

Cynthia Tucker's argument is that sexism can't be confronted, because that would be playing the victim. So, rather than do that, she would have us just go be actual victims and for goodness sakes, be quiet about it. Nobody likes a complaining woman, after all.

We can do better than that. I'm nobody's victim, and I'm nobody's guaranteed vote.


Anonymous said...

Interesting. Reminds me of a similar issue that was raised by my gay son in recent months. When he objected to the disparity in the way racism and rascist remarks are handled in our schools vs. the way remarks that degrade people for their sexual orientation, some people seemed to think that he was trying to squelch free speech. I suppose Cynthia could respond to your post by suggesting that an "overly PC" approach to journalism would limit freedom of expression. I, however, agree with your point completely. I believe our journalists, our elected officials and our teachers should all be mindful of the discrimination that still plagues our society and fight against it. And I believe that it is our responsibility, when we see that kind of discrimination, to speak out. When we hear people use words like "bitch" (or "fag") we should be no more tolerant of that than we would be of rascist name-calling. We should support each other when we point it out, not be made to feel that we are overreacting or "whining."

Nina said...

thanks for the comment. This has been such an interesting, if a little depressing, time to step back and view our culture here in the US. Clearly this election is exposing some societal rifts, but not the ones some people expected.

And for the record, I don't recall ever seeing CTucker use the word bitch or write in a manner disparaging to woman. Unlike Maureen Dowd. Unlike Peggy Noonan. Sad