One Obama supporter asks him to speak out against misogyny and sexism
by aroundtheblock, Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 09:41:10 PM EDT
My friend Hannah sent me a copy of the email she sent to someone named Tracy, who's in the field for Obama. Here it is, addressed to tracyinthefielf at gmail dot com:
I'm a 51 year old white woman, a mom, a grandmother, a lifelong
feminist and Democrat and a strong Obama supporter. I am however,
horrified by the blatant sexism that is expressed (and tolerated) on Obama's website. Most recently, I've been horrified by the Randi Rhodes performance, the fact that Obama supporters were cheering in the audience as she called Hillary and Ferraro "fucking whores" repeatedly.
My best friend of 30 years is a Hillary supporter and I am sure she will never vote for Obama because of the misogyny of so many of his young followers.
I find this distressing because I fully support Barack, have
contributed regularly to his campaign. But I am very opposed to the sexist comments that so many young supporters make with impunity.
I wrote to Obama, asking him to take a stand against sexist rhetoric and Randi Rhodes in particular, just as McCain did when the person introducing him at an event kept stressing Barack's middle name.
If he doesn't condemn it, it's the same as a tacit vote of approval....or worse, indifference.
If one of Hillary's visible supporters got up and did a stand-up
routine where she called Barack a "fucking n-word"(Hannah wrote whole the offensive slur, but I won't) you can believe
there'd be a firestorm.
If we, as Obama supporters, and Obama himself,don't stand up against comparable women-hating talk, how can we ask
Hillary's supporters to rally around our candidate when he wins the nomination?
I would love to see a dialogue on the Field between the camps, and on our side, some self-awareness and self-critique about the tone and tenor of the comments many of our fellow Obama supporters are regularly spouting.
I'd love to see you start a blog dialogue about these excesses. There are tons of us out here who are not comfortable with letting comments like this slide.Thanks for listening,
I met my oldest friend in 1974 when she was 19 and I was 22 and we were both spiritual seekers and political activists. I'd been to India, she'd lived in ashrams; we both meditated and marched and worked for a better world. We were naïve, not as naïve as some of our peers, however. Hannah had grown up in New Jersey and when she was ten, her father abandoned her family for California in order to become a hippie. I grew up in Texas, along the Louisiana border, and my father suffered the mental and emotional disorders resulting from spending four years in combat in the Pacific theater during WWII and then another two years in some still undisclosed location during the Korean War. In other words, both Hannah and I came from screwed up families and we met at a time and and an age when people bond most closely with their peers.
We both marched against the Viet Nam war, worked for the passage of Roe v Wade, petitioned and demonstrated law enforcement to ensure the use of rape kits in order that more rapists would be convicted. In the 1980s we joined affinity groups to protest nuclear power. We worked together for farm workers' rights and legislation for abused children, and together we facilitated groups for women recovering from domestic abuse.
We have traveled together, helped each other bear children, comforted each other during break ups and divorces, and celebrated births of grandsons, bar mitzvahs and the many ups and downs of life, both big and small, that a long friendship includes.
In the early years Hannah and I lived in the same town, but we've remained committed friends even when our lives have taken us in different directions. When I got married, Hannah made us a beautiful quilt, each stitch hand sewn. And when Hannah came out as a lesbian, I stood by her as some of her immediately family, including her mother, withdrew in disgrace. Hannah met my parents before they died, and I went with her to visit her father during his last week of life. She is godmother to my sons and I am auntie to her two children.
Last year, when they removed a benign tumor from my spine, Hannah left her partner and kids behind and flew to my home to care for me after my surgery. This year, Hannah has undergone two surgeries for breast cancer, and beginning last august, she has endured the most intense series of chemotherapy given. She is now halfway through radiation.
Hannah is an ardent supporter of Obama, and I am perhaps an even more ardent supporter of Hillary Clinton. Hannah's oldest son was in the first Marine Expeditionary Unit sent to Iraq; she sees Obama as the most anti-war candidate. On the other hand, I think Obama is clueless about war--and about leading the country in general. In the beginning it was hard on us, each wanting the other to switch sides. We talk on the phone and email daily, and though we live 2000 miles apart, distance is no big thing when people have been so close for so long.
Because Hannah has been going through horrendous chemo, during which I've been back to help out twice, she's had plenty of time to read and to blog. And she does. She even moderates a quasi official Obama blog. However, it's shocking to me that she reads and blogs several hours a day and then calls me even more enthusiastic about Obama, and very critical of Hillary. In contrast, I read and blog several hours a day and come away even more dedicated and inspired by Hillary and horrified by Obama. Why Hannah isn't mortified by
Jeremiah Wrigh, Rezko, Bill Ayers, Samantha Power, McPeak, Obama's sexist statements, his racial dog whistles, race-baiting, and a race-blaming strategy, the anti-Semites around him, and the anti-gay surrogates in his camp, are unbeknownst to me. Geraldine Farraro spoke a truth about our country when she said, "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman of any color, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept." Clearly Ferraro admits the same was true when she, then a little known congresswoman, was selected as the first and only female vice presidential running mate of Walter Mondale.
I bring these things up to Hannah and she says that it's all negative spin from the Hillary camp, at least that's what her Obama blogs say. And so, because Hannah's more important to me than proving her wrong, we just don't talk about it.
But then the Randi Rhodes fund raising event for Obama happened. What Rhodes said got Hannah's attention, " What a whore Geraldine Ferraro turned out to be. What a whore Geraldine Ferraro is! She's such a fucking whore! I want to see her have to stand beside her husband at one of those mandatory 'I have sinned against you I'm a whore kind of a press conference.' Mr. Ferraro should have to stand next to his whore of a wife... Hillary is a big fucking whore, too." And as her audience of San Francisco Obama supporters laughed hysterically, the dial on the cultural misogyny meter spun out of control. For this, Rhodes was suspended, but we've heard nothing from Obama himself.
Hannah and I talked on the phone about it and I said something along the lines that I thought Obama would just it let float in the ethers as a meme before he denounced it, so the ranting of Rhodes could do its evil work without any effort on his part. I told Hannah that it seems to me that Obama mostly lets his surrogates do the real dirty work for him and then he brushes aside any attempts the media makes to get him to own up to it. That's really how I see it.