Monday, December 3, 2007

Stop the gender insanity!

Hey, did you know that Sen. Hillary Clinton is a woman? Who cares?

Yes, now we've all seen the Mikolajczak comments, but yet, this topic of gender bias keeps being thrown out there: the boys are piling on Hillary, she's being attacked because of her gender - can we really bypass this hurdle?

You know what, I'm going to look like a chauvanistic asshole by saying this: I don't care. I've never looked at Hillary Clinton as a woman, I've looked at her as a politician (which has far more negative connotations than any gender stereotype). Can any of us really say that we thought that Clinton, if elected, would spend her days gardening and putting on makeup? Come on, this is not only a Senator, Yale alum and ambitious politician, but probably the most influencial first lady since Eleanor Roosevelt - does anyone think she's going to get in the Oval Office and start crying?

If you do, please step forward so you can be chastised for your ignorance.

There are concerns about her ability to negotiate in the middle east, but after seeing the ad naseaum rebuttal of "but look at Bhutto, Albright, Merkel, etc." it would be a farce to assume two X chromosomes are going to lead to the downfall of this nation.

So, with opinion piece after opinion piece rebutting this idea of a gender bias and no real legitimate counter-argument, why the hell do people keep bringing this up? AND WHY DO I KEEP PRINTING IT?

I suppose the latter makes sense - if it is really on people's minds, then we should discuss it. However, one thing did strike me, although it's not that surprising - the Clinton topic saw a real surge in opinion pieces from female students on campus - more than I've seen in a while.

And then Kate Maternowski wrote this piece and got me thinking with this part:

At this newspaper, for example, I am the only female columnist on the opinion staff and, admittedly, had to be coaxed into committing to weekly column inches. Indeed the opinion editors here are open to taking on female writers, so my solo presence indicates that other females on campus might share my reluctance.
It would be difficult to dismiss the possibility that the newspaper statistic and this reluctance stem from a tendency in women to not want to put themselves — their opinions — out in the path of potential critique, dissent or attack.

So, when you have a woman that really puts herself out there, in front of the multitude, women may be encouraged, but are they still so reluctant that they only support her candidacy rather than making some arguments on their own behalf?

Obviously, any discussion of women in this respect is going to be a heinous generalization, so I decide not to go any further. Obviously, people like Ms. Maternowski and Suchita Shah counter this idea of female sheepishness in the opinion arena, but I must say that I'd like to see more women sound off in this paper - and on something other than Hillary.

As Maternowski said:

Why would an all-female panel be any less relevant to an issue not related to women? Or, more generally, why do women feel more safe, more confident, more compelled to write and opine primarily about women’s issues, and why is it often expected that women will do just and only that when they indeed choose to be vocal and opinionated?
An individual’s gender is simply not relevant when discussing many of the major political, economic and social issues affecting modern society, and women have as much a stake in the conversation as do men.

Here here. Now I just wish more women would realize the same thing and come write for us. I mean, after all, women are the majority on campus - for them to be relegated to the position of vocal minority is a shame. We've made some leaps forward, but we can always make more strides.

So let's be clear - I welcome the idea of women finally taking the baton and standing up and voicing their opinions, but defending a politician who, I assure you, has no problems with her gender security is a waste of column inches.

So let's stop it, shall we?


Suchita Shah said...

I was feeling the same thing Ms. Maternowski was, about women and the BH opinion pages. Thanks, Smathers, for the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

most of the articles you cited weren't defending clinton, or saying that clinton herself has an issue with her gender, they were discussing gender issues in general, and using clinton as an example.
you see clinton, and think endorsement, etc.
complaining you are over the topic of clinton and gender doesn't make it a non-issue.
anyway, aren't you the one who came up with the topic of "gender and sexuality" or whatever?

Erik Opsal said...

It's hear, hear.

Critical Badger said...

Why do you print it? Because they are, for better or worse, ~750 words of reasonable quality. It's an interesting topic (first serious woman president!) and pretty much every single 40,000 student at this university can form some type of opinion on the subject matter.

What I find interesting in this is that I think the same critique can be applied to debates about Israel on the editorial pages, as several bloggers (namely SV, Matt W, and myself) have pointed out. However, I would argue -- with no data to back this up -- that these critiques of Israel in the campus press have subsided, for a more local-focus. Perhaps it is smart editing, an actual local problem, be it the coal plant or safety, a dying anti-Israel movement on campus, and pressing national concerns.