Sexism Rampant in Democratic Primary

A male reader here at The Dem Daily complained in the comments about the Men for Hillary ad running in our left sidebar. Commenter Lee Church called the ad “sexist,” and bemoaned that he finds “it ironic that a sexist ad calls me a sexist.” In my opinion, Lee Church’s complaint here about the ad is “sexist” and it’s clear that he’s one male not willing to “ditch his sexism.”

After reading Lee Church’s complaint I ran across a piece written in The Stanford Progressive about sexism in the Democratic Primary. The writer, Gilbert Martinez, makes a strong case. Martinez says he “recently attended a social gathering where a discussion of Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was taking place.”

One guy, when probed about the historic nature of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, had a reaction that can be easily summarized as “big freakin’ deal.” For some reason, after this complete dismissal of the historic nature of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, I kept on hearing Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg rapping about how “bitches ain’t shit”.

I never truly understood the offensiveness of that song until I started supporting Senator Clinton for president. Nor did I realize the pervasiveness of the sentiment. The media, and even the Democratic candidates themselves have continually denigrated the work that Hillary Clinton has done. In other words, she “ain’t shit.” And both the media and the Democratic candidates have played to the stereotype of confident, strong women being cold, calculating “bitches.”

Martinez makes a strong case for Hillary and notes that he does not doubt that Obama has “respect for women,” but he said he feels that he has “benefited greatly from the sexist and misogynistic language that Republicans have used to destroy Hillary Clinton.” He also notes that “few Democratic leaders have stood up to the barrage of sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton,” which has been something that many supporting Hillary have noted. And…  

What’s more, many prominent progressives have not only stood silent during these attacks, but have been willing participants in perpetuating these sexist narratives.

Fifteen years after Dr. Dre’s song was first released, it still seems as though “bitches ain’t shit.” I, for one, reject that notion and hope that once the passions of this election subside, we will take the time to confront what has happened and how we have treated a person I consider to be a true American treasure.

My initial reaction to Martinez’s article was the desire to see more men who get it speak out. But sadly, as Martinez and many others have noted sexism is still rampant in the Democratic party and this country.

I have, like so many women in this country watched with a sense of despair and disgust as Clinton’s achievements and hard work has been denigrated. Progress has not been made in this country in regards to women and equal rights as long as this pervades.

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15 Responses to Sexism Rampant in Democratic Primary

  1. Jessica says:

    Misogyny in general, and the irrational sport of Hillary-Hating, specifically, is pretty digusting. What I don’t see, however, is some kind of systematic dismanteling of Hillary Clinton’s credentials based on her gender. Yes, there is a different and sometimes unfair scruntiny because of her gender–things like the nearly crying in New Hampshire and whatnot are dissected to almost no useful end. But she’s certainly on new ground as a prominent and viable female candidate and will have to take some lumps–a task which she and her supporters always say she is up to. And let’s not pretend that being a woman in this race isn’t an advantage to her. If she was “Henry Clinton”–a man with an identical 35 years of experience (substitute 8 years working in the White House for 8 years as First Lady) she would be accomplished, bright and maybe even compelling but she would be unremarkable.

  2. CognitiveDissonance says:

    Jessica, I think you should take your post to its logical conclusion. If a male Hillary would be nothing special, what would a white male senator with barely 2 years in the Senate and no significant accomplishments look like to you? I can guarantee you he wouldn’t even be in the race at this point.

  3. kcowley says:

    CognitiveDissonance, Well put!

  4. Jessica says:

    CognitiveDissonance, the hypothetical candidate to which you refer might have been a candidate I supported in 2004, John Edwards. If he had been able to construct a vast and enthusiastic grassroots organization in 50 states, bring in young voters, independent voters, democrats and republicans, raise unprecedented amounts of money from some large but largely small donors, he would have been at the top of that ticket and probably our president.

  5. Jessica

    Actually you are wrong. John Edwards was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1998.

    He had served almost a full 6 year term when he began fundraising to run for president in January ’03.

    On January 2, 2003, Edwards began fundraising without officially campaigning by forming an exploratory committee. On September 15, 2003, Edwards fulfilled a promise he made a year earlier as a guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to unofficially announce his intention to seek the 2004 Democratic Presidential nomination.

    Clearly, Edwards had served more time in the Senate than Barack Obama has.

  6. Jessica says:

    Pamela, I actually wasn’t trying to draw a literal comparison between John Edwards and Barack Obama but thanks for the correction. My point was, and is, that both candidates were (are) painted as inexperienced and unaccomplished and that had John Edwards been able to do the things I listed in my second post–things Barack Obama has done this year–I believe he would have overcome that talking point and easily become the frontrunner.

  7. debunker says:

    I don’t know which makes me angrier…women who are critical of strong women or men who “won’t vote for a woman”. I’ve asked some men with that mentality…why? They can’t give me an answer…just…”that’s how it is”. I would guess they don’t think a woman is competent for a role of trust & leadership and/or simply, that’s not a woman’s role….which is also related to the man’s ego. A woman President would do wonders in changing some of these old fashioned ideas and opening more doors for all women. Hillary is a fine example of what’s good about women in leadership roles. We need her and every woman on this trail to the White House.

  8. Mark says:

    Hi All: This is Mark from MenforHillary.org (www.HillaryNowObamaLater.org). Interesting that Mr. Church visited The Democratic Daily and complained about my ad that I have been running here for quite some time.

    In a sense, I know I am “preaching to the choir” by advertising here, but I wanted to get the word out, and the best way to spread a fire is to enlist fellow arsonists… I know, bad analogy, but you get my drift. (I hope.) I wouldn’t classify myself as an “over-the-top” activist or blogger.

    Mr. Church, as have a very few others (amazingly enough), misreads the ad — it doesn’t say “elect *a” qualified woman.” It says “Elect qualified women now.” Different pitch, all together. The ad (as ads are wont to be) is provocative, but the point is (as I am sure you all get), examine your biases, and ditch the sexism IF it is there. Otherwise, no worry, be happy. Also, the ad doesn’t say “ditch your sexism now.” So, I am not sure what processing Mr. Church brings to the analysis of the ad or to the comments and replies he has posted at http://www.HillaryNowObamaLater.org, but it is pretty scattered.

    This primary season offers some very challenging choices and decision making processes. If, at a very minimum, you believe (which I don’t) that Obama and Hillary are equally qualified, you get to make what I call a tiebreaker decision based on what “affirmative action” you want to personally take.

    One of the very important things that many of my readers don’t get is that sexism is the current norm. In a sense, we, no matter who we are, are “recovering sexists,” some more recovered than others. This is because of the powerful legacy of centuries of patriarchy and sexism.

    There is no such thing as “reverse-sexism” since that would require, in this instance, men being less powerful, paid less, less represented in the government, etc. There may be instances of what you could call stereotyping men, but it doesn’t rise to the level of woman-targeted sexism, not even close. So, in a sexist atmosphere, the only way to bring about a balance is to exert power to bring the balance about. You can’t just talk about it or think about it, you have to take action.

    Voting is taking one form of action. I believe Hillary is way more qualified than Obama, and has the discipline and the experience I want in a President. However, at a minimum, even if she was only equally qualified, I choose to make my vote count for impacting sexism by voting for a woman to put more women in positions of power. That’s it. I apologize for my personal affirmative activism, but that is my right as a voter.

    With respect to what Jessica stated above “What I don’t see, however, is some kind of systematic dismanteling of Hillary Clinton’s credentials based on her gender. Yes, there is a different and sometimes unfair scruntiny because of her gender–things like the nearly crying in New Hampshire and whatnot are dissected to almost no useful end” I have this comment. (For more comments, visit my blog.)

    Several MSM writers, Dowd, Erbe, and Linsky, to name a few, have said things like, and I quote Linsky at Newsweek — “this campaign will always be remembered for the emergence of the first serious WOMAN candidate for president: Barack Obama.” You can’t dismantle a woman much more than that in terms of suggesting that a man would make a better woman than a woman.

    In fact, if you try to discover Obama’s stand on women’s issues, it is difficult. You have to dig very deep at his campaign website to find anything of substance. He has sold himself as a “civil rights” activist, but he gives only about two sentences to women’s civil rights (it’s apparently all about the pay). He hides it. In fact, as far as I can tell, his campaign has chosen a strategy of silence about sexism in America because, IMHO, they are afraid of “elevating” their opponent. I find it to be a great big hole in the alleged integrity of Obama’s campaign.

    Now, I am starting to rant… sorry. Thank you, Democratic Daily for not thinking the same way that Mr. Church did about my ad.

    Take care, and may the best woman win (pun intended!).

  9. gqmartinez says:

    That Martinez guy is a joker. (Actually, I think I’m pretty cool.)

    I wrote that article in late January and things have only gotten worse (“claws” and “periodically…” anyone?). One thing I didn’t have space to convey, which I’ve been thinking a lot about, is the cross-cultural and transnational ubiquitousness of sexism. I think the US is particularly egregious. We see it with white fundamentalist Christians who’s wives should “submit” to their husbands. (I grew up going to church and that particular line–which wasn’t really mentioned by Jesus or Paul, btw–and it always irked me.) We see it in African-American rap music. (Though, listening to someone like 2Pac describe his respect for women while bringing up some of his degrading lyrics is very revealing.) It’s in my own Hispanic community. It’s everywhere.

    I’m well aware of the fact that women get paid less than men for the same job. i’m well aware, as a scientist, how much longer it takes and harder it is to get grant money if you are a woman. I know all of this. Unfortunately, it took Hillary Clinton to bring the vile, putrid taste to my mouth. It was no longer just a statistic, gross misogyny was revealed in front of my eyes. I infuriated me to see it on such a large scale and in such a publicly accepted manner. That it was and continues to be accepted by so-called progressives and Democratic Party leaders has really shaken me.

    I grew up going to church and consider myself deeply spiritual. My spirituality, however you want to define it, drives most of what I do. But of the many reasons I grew alienated from organized religion because of the sexism and anti-gay bigotry inherent in some of their doctrines (again, not readily attributable to Jesus or Paul). I have a lot of disagreements with main stream progressives, but considered myself one for a while. Now, I feel alienated from that community. I’m also a Democrat who’s been active for the last 5 years or so–helping council races, state legislure races, you name it. But the acceptance by such liberal Democratic lions like Ted Kennedy of the sexism in this race has similarly alienated me from the Democratic Party.

    I chose to be a Democrat because of their decades long fight for equality, tolerance and acceptance. I’m angry that we seem to be giving that up so damn easily.

  10. gqmartinez

    Thanks for chiming in and thanks for the great piece that you wrote that inspired this post. If you are interested, you are welcome to join The Dem Daily and post more here on the subject of your support for HRC and the sexism in our country.

  11. Pingback: Par for the course « Donna Darko

  12. Storm says:

    If not for sexism, Hillary would have been president before Bill Clinton.

  13. Mark says:

    Hi Pamela and Gilbert: I totally think it would be great for Gilbert to write for The Democratic Daily and focus on the effects of sexism in this campaign cycle.

    Of course, maybe Gilbert wants to write about more than that subject — but, Gilbert, your Stanford Progressive article sums up nicely many of the sexist variables that, in a cumulative fashion, have had (and continue to have) a huge negative impact on Hillary’s campaign. IMHO, one result of that huge negative impact can be seen clearly in the male gender gap during this primary season.

    Gilbert, Pamela — keep the light shining on the rampant sexism. It IS a huge factor in what is happening during this election. The more people are aware of it, the more they can examine their own biases and have a choice about fighting it. If you can’t identify it, you can’t fight it or examine it. Awareness is the first step towards change…

    Also, Pamela — please blog as much as you can about the Michigan and Florida votes. I think it is a valid argument that they should just be seated. Howard Dean is an embarrassment AGAIN (and to think, I used to like this guy). To me the best argument for just seating them based on what has already taken place is that those votes are JUST AS VALID as the votes coming out of caucuses.

    The argument is: Activists tend to show up at caucuses (it’s NOT even close to one-person, one-vote for many reasons) and activists showed up at the ‘unauthorized’ primaries). Activists, as you know, don’t toe the DNC line so well. So, significantly, and I would say significantly enough to matter, the voter profile for those who voted in spite of what the DNC authorized is pretty much the same as caucus attendees. Thus, they carry the same level of validity.

    Florida has to be fixed — Republicans took away Florida’s primary validity. You can’t ding Florida Democrats for that. If Florida is going to be fixed, then Michigan has to be fixed. You can’t do one without the other. So, it is going to happen. The question is how. I say, logic says, just certify the Michigan and Florida votes. Give all the uncommitted votes in the Michigan primary to Obama.

  14. Mark

    I’ve been meaning to write more about FL & MI, but haven’t had the time due to business and family stuff and just plain being overwhelmed of late.

    Given that, I’m on my way out the door for some R&R at the beach for the day. You are more than welcome to join and cross post here. If interested, create a login, shoot me an email and I will get you set up.

    The more strong voices we have here for HRC, the better.

  15. I guess I’m going to have to go for a coin flip for position on a joint ticket. Whatever it is, just get it done before they both finish destroying each other.

    Or maybe we just drag the drama out to the Convention and keep the audience mesmerized by every new low in the level of discourse.