Friday, April 11, 2008

I Wonder What I'm Going to Do?

I don’t know who I’ll vote for.

I don’t know who to vote for.

An issue of Newsweek (March 17, I believe, if you want to go to the library) got me thinking. If I don’t support Hillary, am I a traitor to my sex? Me, a woman who’s never knowingly faced sexism in her education, in her relationships, in her various jobs … could I be a hypocrite if I vote against my gender?

I remember being a preteen who, when asked about her ambitions, would often declare her intention to be the first female President. Nobody ever told me I couldn’t do it—nor did it ever cross my mind that it was a supremely unlikely, overly lofty goal. (Let’s not discuss the fact that I never intended to actually go into politics. I just wanted to be the first something and also be rich, in charge, and famous.) Coming of age in the world of Margaret Thatcher and Sally Ride and Title IX, I got the opportunity to take feminism and the ERA totally for granted.

And now, here we are, being asked to make history.

And I’m almost paralyzed by the responsibility.

I can’t stop thinking that just as much weight will be placed on where I don’t cast my vote as where I do. What does it say if I choose Barack? Does it say I all but agree with the people I’ve heard dissing Hillary for being fake/harsh/cold? What if she has to be all those things to accomplish what she has? If she’s genuine/soft/warm, would she come across as too “girly” to get things done? I know people who really do believe a woman doesn’t belong in the White House. I’m not one, but I’m just not sure yet that I believe this woman does.

But I still can’t stand the unfairness of some of the criticism launched at Hillary. From her pantsuits to her forgiveness (it would seem by the fact that they’re still married) of Bill’s dalliances, Hillary is being attacked as a candidate in a very watercooler-gossip way.

So should I support her because she’s a female and so am I? Do I pitch my tent in her camp to say “Yep, you’re right,” to Tina Fey? To say of course a woman can do this job and do it very, very well?

Is it even possible to just leave gender out of it altogether and not worry about whether or not I’m supporting or subjugating girl power?

I was lucky enough to breathe the same air as both candidates this past weekend. Barack was a rock concert from days before the rally to even now—people ask one another, “Did you go to Barack?” the way one asks, “Did you go to the Rolling Stones?” And goodness me, he was inspiring and exciting and captivating and passionate and articulate. Hillary was a town-hall meeting, just as it was promoted. She detailed policy and then took questions and was thoughtful and precise and calm and good-humored. And goodness me, does she have soft hands. (Yes, that’s my way of saying I shook her hand and exchanged smiles and “thank you for coming”s.)

But Hillary herself pointed out that she’s a woman: she made a joke about how much longer it takes her to get ready every day and shouldn’t she get points for that because John and Barack don’t have to get up as early as she does and she’s just as capable as they are at the end of the day.

So where does that leave me? My mind is all swirled up by wisps of thoughts about identity voting and gender politics and similarities and differences and dynasties and years of service and, oh, if you go read that March issue of Newsweek you’ll understand why I broke out in a cold sweat over it and got up and started writing this wonder in the middle of the night weeks ago and have been adding to it ever since.

I’ve only got seven weeks to decide … any thoughts?


glove said...

Well, I know what I'm going to do, but I can't influence what you're going to do (*coff* Barack *coff*), because that would be wrong (*ahemObamaregghh, ahem*) of me.

I made my choice based partly on the dynasty question - as in, we don't need another. Bush Clinton Bush Clinton. . . I think we need a new name, a new family.

I agree with so much of what you said, though, and I do KNOW that a woman could rock out this job. And I would be excited if Hillary won, simply because she is a woman and I want to be alive when that history is made. I would vote for her in the election. I will not in the primary, however. Well, I probably won't vote for anybody in the primary, as I mentioned to you once already, because I will be stumbling around zombie-like with an 8 pound human attached to my chest, and he will be between 1 day - 3 weeks old, depending on when he chooses to arrive, and I think I can excuse myself from responsible citizenship just this once. Maybe.

Or I may not be able to resist . . .

Wicked M said...

I am going to try and keep this comment shorter than, oh, twenty pages.

This election thrills me for many reasons and it saddens and angers me for others. I know who I am voting for and it is someone that I have long believed is truly capable of leading our country.

I also believe, though, that no matter who gets elected, they will be royally screwed. I mean, we all have to know that whoever gets to the White House is going to spend the entire first four years just trying to clean up the mess that a certain someone (I'm looking at YOU, W) created.

It is exciting that a woman could be elected. It is exciting that a black man could be elected. It is a historic election simply because these two people both truly have a shot at the Presidency.

I hate that people use Hillary's being a woman against her and I hate that people use Obama's name against him. I hate that they question Hillary's tears and I hate that they question Obama's experience.

If you really want to know the truth, I think that what should really happen is that the U.S. should elect two people, MSO Rin and moi, and we will revolutionize things. Rev-o-lution, baby.

super jane said...

please don't hate me when i say that i have always voted republican. this year though is a different story. i've never liked talking politics with folks because it always ends in a massive debate that verges on a full fledged fight. so at the risk of losing friends or family over this, i will say that i don't think i can pull myself to vote for john mccain. i really want to see a stop to this war and the last i heard, he was all for continuing it.

and i know what i just said does not answer rin's question of whether to vote for obama or hillary. and i can't answer it because, quite frankly, i'm completely torn. and at the risk of getting flamed for this, i'm considering not voting at all in the primaries.

whew. there. i said it.

mom, dad, sis (who happens to be a
high school government teacher) you still love me?

glove said...

I love Republicans! I used to be one, til just after college. I am the black sheep in my Republican family, who are frequently tempted to disown me but tolerate my presence because I make good cinnamon rolls from scratch.

This is an interesting election, to say the least, for both sides. I will say this, too - I am excited by all 3 candidates, and would feel better about the state of our country regardless of which of the 3 were elected. I PREFER that my dog wins the fight, of course!

MSO Rin said...

You people are just no help at all. Except for this: I agree with all three of you that we CAN. NOT. have John McCain as President!

I know that if Kat breaks her comment silence (where are you, Kat?), she'll have somethin' to say!

kaycee said...

Woman, Woe Man, Woah---man. She stole my heart and my cat.

That has nothing to do with things, Just like the fact that hill is a female "should" have nothing to do with things. But it does. And I understand why it's a bother to you. I practically minored in woman's studies. A woman needs to get in there for sure. But because Hill is a woman doesn't automatically make her the Right Woman. The right Person.

(I must say though, Rin, that I can't believe you haven't experienced sexism. I can state at least five instances that you probably did. I am glad it didn't phase you though.)

The way I see things is this: What would you say to a male colleague who said something like "I am gonna vote for McCain cause he's the only white man running, and damnit- we need to keep the patriarchy solid." Would that seem a little ridiculous?

Vote with what your heart tells you, and you will avoid any guilty feelings, I promise.

And NO- sorry, Miss G- horrible excuse! the fact that you will have a little one means you Have even MORE reason to vote in the primary!

T Pea said...

What a great topic for the week! Hill was up here last weekend, but it didn't work out for me to go see her. :(

Re: voting in the primaries: I will vote, and I will vote for Barack, but they are so so similar that I will be happy to support either one for the presidency. I do, however, agree with what the others have said -- just because she's a woman doesn't make her worthy of your vote.

What exciting times we have ahead of us!