I opened my inbox this morning to find not one, not two, but three examples of sexism being used against Hillary.
1. (H/T to Shaker John) Fun Sheriff at Lion in Oil posts about an Upper Deck "Presidential Predictors" baseball card featuring Hillary not as a baseball player, but as Morganna the Kissing Bandit, a voluptuous woman known for running out onto the field and kissing players.
Click to see entire card, front and back.
Hillary was cast as Morganna, according to Upper Deck, because they "share a similar life strategy: go after what you want and get it!" Ya know, like planting a kiss on Derek Jeter or becoming president—things like that.
Somewhere along the line, Upper Deck, which was releasing the "Presidential Predictors" cards randomly interspersed among its regular baseball cards, realized this was probably a bad idea and attempted to pull the Hillary/Morganna cards, but, as Fun Sheriff notes, "they couldn't pull them all. At least one made it into the world, and is now being sold on eBay. Just take a look at that card. The … election thus far has been a celebration of change and the breaking down of barriers. Yet we all know that sports is a boys club, and old habits die hard. This card doesn't break down anything."
It does, however, reveal how reluctant some people are to see—and portray—a woman doing "a man's job." There's no reason Hillary couldn't have been a baseball player (have the idiots at Upper Deck never seen A League of Their Own?—we can hold a freaking bat with our weak little girl arms and everything!), except because of someone's limited capacity to envision her as anything but a woman and there are no women players in Major League Baseball.
I guess we ought to just be grateful they cast her as Morganna instead of Marge Schott.
Update: I also meant to note that, because Upper Deck has pulled the Hillary cards, purchasers of the cards just won't get to see Hillary at all, though naturally they will get to "see Barack Obama playing White Sox outfielder Jermaine Dye winning the 2005 World Series MVP and John McCain as Ted Williams." Basically, Upper Deck dealt with their own misogyny by attempting to disappear their target altogether, punishing her for a second time. Nice double-whammy: Most people won't see Hillary's card at all, but the people who do, get to see Hillary demeaned.
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2. (H/T to Tom Watson) Someone speaking about Obama being the underdog, outsider candidate—which, by the way, once someone gets Democratic monument Ted Kennedy's and former nominee John Kerry's endorsements, is a meme that needs to die—says: "You challenge the status quo and suddenly the claws come out." Certainly this was a reference to Hillary, whom the Obama campaign has been long painting (and not without reason) as the establishment candidate. Had the non-sexist equivalent, as pointed out by Homunq here, been used—"You challenge the status quo and suddenly the gloves come off"—there would have been no problem, but "claws come out" is as sure a sexist dog whistle as is catfight.
The big problem is that the someone who said this is Barack Obama.
Says Homunq: "I support you, and I'm a white male. But I do not tolerate coded racism from your opponent, and I do not tolerate coded sexism from you. This is sexist code language, Hillary is the cat. It is subtle and most people will probably say 'awww, he probably didn't mean it that way'. I give you more credit than that, you know exactly how to use your words. Please do not do it again."
You'll be pleased to hear that polls at Daily Kos and FireDogLake have decided this is a non-issue. But, as Homunq notes, Obama is known and celebrated for his amazing use of language, so giving him a pass on this like he didn't know what it meant is just absurd. I give Obama more credit than "not knowing," too.
I also just flatly don't want him to win the nomination this way. I am tired of the oblique references to tea parties and "likeable enough" and the surrogates waxing mendacious about Hillary crying over her appearance and not discouraging prominent student groups called shit like "Obama is a pimp." I thought this campaign is supposed to be about hope and change and transcending the status quo and not playing politics as usual—but relying on misogyny is not hopeful nor original nor in any way new or transcendent. It sucks. And it makes me sad.
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3. (H/T to Shaker Jennifer) MSNBC's David Shuster accuses Hillary of "pimping out" Chelsea. Naturally, it goes without saying, this is a terrible smear against both mother and daughter.
The segment began with Shuster saying, which is not on the video: "There's just something a little bit unseemly to me that Chelsea's out there calling up celebrities, saying support my mom, and she's apparently also calling these super delegates." To which Bill Press replied: "Hey, she's working for her mom. What's unseemly about that? During the last campaign, the Bush twins were out working for their dad. I think it's great, I think she's grown up in a political family—" which is where the video picks up:
PRESS: —she's got politics in her blood, she loves her mom, she thinks she'd make a great president [crosstalk]In one fell swoop, Hillary is cast as a madam who forcibly "pimps out" her own daughter, and Chelsea is cast as a pathetic, vulnerable, and mindless whore who has no control over her own life.
SHUSTER: But doesn't it seem like Chelsea's sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way? [laughter]
PRESS: No! If she didn't want to be there, she wouldn't be there. I mean, give Chelsea a break.
Taylor Marsh notes that mothers and daughters "have been working together for centuries, supporting one another. …I cannot imagine the pride of Chelsea Clinton as she watches her mother compete as the first viable female presidential candidate in United States history. The joy is one thing, but the sheer history of this moment must be an awesome thing to experience as her daughter. Together they must be having the time of their lives."
We don't even have to imagine it. It's evident in this widely-circulated video in which Chelsea says: "I keep thinking I can't, like, be more proud of my mom, but I get more proud of my mom. …I actually lead a pretty private life, but really believe in my mom. I believe that she would be the best president. I couldn't really imagine not trying to do whatever I could to help make her more accessible or make her message more accessible."
Her face beams with pride. Obviously the best response is to shit all over that by implying she's a fucking liar—she must be, in order to describe her as being "pimped out." Unbelievable. Back to Taylor:
Women across this country have had to put up with these over combed, over pressed, over inflated egotistical media preening males for months and months as they pontificate from on high about the presidency, making their money, clucking their teeth, while elbowing the small man in the next cubicle, all to the satisfaction of too many Americans who are in to hunting Clintons for sport.In the same world in which that woman turning sexism on its head is framed as Odd News, and in which that woman is called a bitch to the amusement of the other party's nominee, and is called a she-devil and depicted with horns, and is heckled by jerks demanding she iron their shirts, and is reduced to tea parties and her response to that demeaned as "really be[ing] on edge," and in which she is cast as a feminazi monster, and has her ability to withstand the rigors of the presidency questioned with an unflattering image, and has a nutcracker designed in her image, and finds her moment of candidly expressed emotion turned into a national story using dog-whistles once removed from "hysterical," and is routinely accused of playing a victim and of playing the gender card, often erroneously, and is said to need a copy of The Rules, and is accused of having a career only because her husband cheated on her, and is subjected to the swill of online hate groups with names like "Hillary Clinton: Stop Running for President and Make Me a Sandwich" and "Hillary Clinton Shouldn't Run for President, She Should Just Run the Dishes," and is regularly featured in sexist political cartoons, and is challenged by a 527 calling itself C.U.N.T., and is called the Crybaby-in-Chief if she shows emotion, and can't bloody win no matter what she does, but only in the eyes of misogynist wankers because SHE'S. STILL. HERE.
In what world do we allow political pundits to attack a young woman proudly campaigning for her mother, a woman who is running for president, then let them get away with calling her mother a pimp and the daughter a hooker?
But damn if there aren't plenty of people in this world trying to see that she isn't.
[EMAIL MSNBC: email@example.com to let them know, politely, that perhaps David Shuster needs to STFU.]
UPDATE: (H/T Kevin Hayden in comments) MSNBC's Shuster to Offer On-Air Apology to Clinton:
On Thursday, when Clinton spokesman Phillippe Reines contacted Shuster and told him the comment was offensive, the reporter e-mailed back that he was referring to the fact that Chelsea is making calls to convention superdelegates but refusing to talk to the press.But not clearly enough that Shuster was forced to apologize without Clinton's campaign staff having to call to complain. Her communications director, Howard Wolfson, also had to threaten to refuse future debates on the network to achieve this result.
...Reines was incredulous at the lack of an apology, but Shuster stood his ground.
Until this morning, that is. Shuster plans to apologize tonight on "Tucker," the 6 p.m. show on which he was filling in for host Tucker Carlson yesterday.
"The comment was completely inappropriate, and we have called the Clinton campaign to apologize," network spokesman Jeremy Gaines said today. Phil Griffin, the NBC News executive who runs MSNBC, called Reines, telling him that the comment was clearly wrong.