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Ms. Matriarch To Daughter: "When Push Comes To Shove [Why] Can't You Vote For A Woman?"

Illustration for article titled emMs./em Matriarch To Daughter: When Push Comes To Shove [Why] Cant You Vote For A Woman?

Hey guys, guess what we're going to talk about again? Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, race and gender! Today, the issue is brought to us by Ms. co-founder Letty Cottin Pogrebin and her daughter Abigail (pictured), who duke it out over on PBS because Letty can't understand why her daughter is for Obama. To Letty, "the pinnacle defines the possibility," and until a woman is president, young girls will not be able to live without a glass ceiling. She is "hurt" that Abigail won't vote for Hillary, "Because it's kinda like, as a woman, when a woman finally deserves to be where she is, somebody comes in and undercuts her. And it's just like a feeling we've all known, we've all known where you've worked hard at your job, he comes in, young whippersnapper, and you know, he can play golf with everybody and he can kind of charm, and he takes precedence."

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Pogrebin articulates what a lot of old-tyme feminists seem to be feeling, but the most interesting thing about the PBS clip is how all mothers are annoying in the exact same way. Abigail, who somewhat absurdly claims that she has never ever experienced sexism, is very staunchly for Obama despite her mother's protestations. After her mom says she's "hurt" by the fact that Abgail won't, "when push comes to shove...vote for a woman!" Abigail whines back, "I'm not changing my mind, mom. MOMMY!"

Mommy indeed! Gloria Steinem, another co-founder of Ms., was also on the public airwaves, but with NPR. She basically rehashed her now-infamous New York Times op-ed "Women Are Never Front-Runners," but adds that she thinks racism and sexism are deeply intertwined, and that "they can only be uprooted together." She says that "much of the media is ranking [racism and sexism] rather than linking them," but Steinem can't help herself. She then mentions that African-American presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm "thought it was more difficult being a woman in her political life than being an African American, but that can only be judged by the individual."

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I know we've talked a lot about how older women are voting for Hillary on this site because of the good fight they waged against sexism in the 60s and 70s. I don't think that the former indignities they suffered are a valid reason to vote for any candidate, but hearing Abigail Pogrebin say that she has never encountered sexism makes me wonder if we do take the women's rights movement of the 60s and 70s for granted. Letty Pogrebin said on PBS, "Racism is mutable, it can change with class. If you look at Barack Obama or Colin Powell...color drains when class rises. Sexism is immutable. If a man has a sense of what women should be doing, it's really hard to break that up. Even if he has a very accomplished daughter." It's not even a question about what's worse, racism or sexism. It's about acknowledging that sexism still exists. Have we stopped fighting a battle we didn't win?

One Family's Split Decision [PBS, via Feministing]
Gloria Steinem On Gender, Race In Election 2008 [NPR]

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DISCUSSION

stoprobbers
stoprobbers

Pleasure said: I might just as well vote for mccain.

Hey. Hey. Let's all remember that we're talking about a battle between two Democrats, either of whom are vastly better than Old Man McCain. And look, as far as Republicans — especially elected Republicans currently serving in government — go, I like him well enough, and I don't completely distrust him, but Hillary is nothing like McCain, and the fact that she acts, as a politician, in a manner that is conducive to getting things done in our government does not make them equal. Don't kid yourself, Obama accepts plenty of money from people we wouldn't really like, and he smarms and schmoozes as much as she does. That is not the trait of the untrustowrthy, Republican, patrician hierarchy. That is the trait of a politician, and it probably always will be in some incarnation.

Let's all remember that this kind of ridiculous rhetoric about how similar candidates are was how Bush got his upper hand in 2000, and then again 2004 (although Kerry was just such a disaster). Let's all remember how disastrous and painful and humiliating these past eight years were to live through, and let's all remember whose fault that is. The Republicans had their chance, and they blew it. Hillary's not everything I want her to be, but she is so, so, so much better than McCain.

This is a primary race; we're rooting for our favorite candidate. Let's not all forget that we are all voting for one of these people not just because of how they speak, what they look like, or who they are, but because they both, in some way, believe in the same paradigm as we do — a varied and nuanced paradigm. McCain is not our paradigm. And our candidates are not like him. Novemeber is very, very important. Don't start undermining it now.