Old news I know, but while I was internet surfing recently I came upon some comments about Gloria Steinem’s January New York Times Op-Ed. Apparently a lot of young women are disturbed that Gloria seemingly implied that if young women really “got” what is at stake here they would all support Clinton over Obama. And then I read the craziest opinion (I won’t even link to it it’s so crazy) that Oprah has betrayed the white women who have made her rich and famous by supporting Obama. Finally, I read that a great deal of older women, even republicans, are voting for Clinton because they “want to see a woman president” before they die.
Is it me or has everybody gone insane?
I don’t support Clinton because she’s a woman or because she’s white. Neither my self-esteem nor my belief that women are capable of governing hinges upon seeing a woman in the White House this year. I wore one of those t-shirts as a young girl in the seventies that said, “Anything Boys Can Do, I Can Do Better.” I have forgiven my single working mother for all the times I felt like she put her work before me because I now understand how her dedication paved the way to make it so I don’t have to be as extreme when trying to balance work and child-rearing (though we have a long way to go) - not to mention that I now get how much work it is just to keep a roof over your kid's head all by yourself. I had a father who told me in junior high school not to worry so much about my grades in English and to instead focus on Math and Science because as he said, “you can always get a secretary to write things for you.”
In other words, I don’t blame my general lack of achievement in the world to any sort of oppression or feelings of inadequacy due to having been born without a penis. So I understand where young women are coming from when they wonder what the hell Gloria Steinem is talking about. And at the same time, I totally get what Gloria Steinem is talking about. Ironically, though, if I weren’t a mother, I might not. Young women today don’t have much to complain about in terms of equal opportunity to education and employment. But parenthood changes everything – at least for a while. Even though work places are more flexible and men are more helpful than they were thirty years ago, it is damn hard to simultaneously achieve professionally and take the time required to mother children.
This is not fair, but as I’ve written here numerous times I don’t think of it as only a social construct that can be overcome by convincing dads that it’s okay to wear the Baby Bjorn. As a stay-at-home mom I often felt like I was fading into nothingness here all day being a servant to the never-ending needs of my babies. But as a working mother, I usually feel even worse than that. I feel like I have to miss them when I’m gone, like I have so much work to do to make sure they’re clean and fed and educated and rested when I’m here that I don’t have enough time to enjoy them. And while I need to have a life outside of them I always want to be the one who gets to answer the important questions.
Like the other day J said, “Mama, I want a fur coat.” (We’ve been reading The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe in which there are fur coats.)
PETA sympathizer that I (not really so much) am, I explained that it’s cruel to wear fur coats because we don’t actually need to kill an innocent animal to keep our bodies warm and also that the animals are not treated well while they are alive. He said, “Well, I just mean we should go to the store and buy one, then we didn’t really kill any animals.”
And I had the opportunity to explain that when we reward someone else with money for killing an animal for us, it’s just as bad as if we’d killed the animal ourselves. I am grateful that I was here to answer that, because who knows what the nanny would have said about it.
This is why I support organizations like Moms Rising because raising children comes with its rewards and joys, but the combination of biology with the way our society is designed it is oppressive. But it’s tricky to address because there are so many systemic and personal issues at work there. What mothers really need is a grassroots movement to add more hours to the day – any volunteers?
But wait, I think I was planning to make a point here, oh yeah, about Clinton. I don’t think everyone (or even every woman) has to support Clinton, but I really don’t understand why they don’t. There is not a single politician in the history of U.S. politics who has taken such a relentless and vicious public beating year after year after year. And every day she gets up, holds her head high and works for her constituents. (Yes, I do agree that her Rocky Balboa imagery has been exploited to absurdity lately, but that's politics.)
She seems to understand the difficulty in being a good mother while achieving professional success. She’s not “radical” for sure, but her Senate voting record is reasonably impressive barring the initial vote for the war. Her resilience, tenacity and dedication are unmatched. And she may not have a penis but she has some serious cajones. Not only that but she has a sound economic plan that could actually be implemented. I’m baffled by anyone who doesn’t admire her.
What’s more, if Barack Obama wins the nomination, he is going to be chewed up and spit out so fast, and we’re going to have another four years of “see how much progress we’re making in Iraq” republican propaganda.
Finally, I want to thank Hillary because she sent me a free bumper sticker the other day, and all I had to do was write a short note in support of democracy. You can do it too. If not for Hillary, do it for America – where everyone’s voice matters.
Don’t give up Hillary!