I’ve gone back and forth over who I support in the primaries. I voted for Obama and then spent the next month wishing I’d voted for Clinton (not that it would make a difference in Illinois, but still). Now at the end, I think I made the right choice. I would also classify myself as someone who, as Melissa described, “voted for Obama in the primary, who [has] watched with horror the seething hatred directed at Hillary Clinton just because she is a woman.”
So congratulations to Barack Obama. I’m glad the stupid primaries are over and I am facing the coming months of campaigning with fear and dread and, under it all, a glimmering kernel of hope that all this talk of change is more than rhetoric. Now I am way too cynical to think Obama is going to take office and socialize our health care system, pass the ERA, codify reproductive justice into federal law, grant equal rights under the law to non-hetero couples, and strengthen Title VII or anything. But I’m hoping things will at least be better once he’s in office.
While I was well aware of the historical nature of the campaign, the full weight of it didn’t truly hit me until last night, because I didn’t really allow myself to believe that in this country that I grew up in, this country that I know and love and hate and could not live without, that something like this was possible. We have a black, major-party nominee for president. And if he plays his cards right and voters step up to the plate, he could also become president. There are few black Americans, especially older black Americans, who were idealistic enough to fully believe (and not just hope) that this could happen in their lifetimes without seeing it first with their own eyes. Barack Obama was one of them.
Holy fucking shit people. We have a black, major-party nominee for president. Knowing myself as I do, this probably still won’t totally hit me until I’m doing laundry tomorrow night at which point I will have a tearful, all-to-public realization of the momentousness of the occasion in the damn laundromat.
What I really want to say right now, though, is that I am with Cheryl Lynn when it comes to Michelle Obama: “‘Chelle could call me at two o’clock in the morning and ask me to roll on a bitch and I would calmly pull out my sneakers and Vaseline.”* I am a FAN of Michelle Obama. I am hoping that she becomes friends with Hillary Clinton, learns a few tricks, hits the senate (Come be my senator! I will campaign for you!) and runs for president in 2020.
And I’m so not looking forward to what the media and the Republican party (and some bitter racist Democrats) are going to try to do to this woman from now until November. For shit’s sake, look at just one way so-called “allies” have treated Michelle Obama before now. Two coworkers, when discussing Barack Obama’s campaign around the Illinois primaries made it a point to stress how little they trusted Michelle. When I asked them why, they answered that they thought she was scheming, and that it was her greedy desire for a larger house that forced poor Barack into a potentially shady land deal with Tony Rezko. And I don’t even want to get into what my staunchly democratic grandparents, who have a framed picture of FDR on their wall and who were two of the biggest Hillary Clinton supports on this planet have said about Michelle because it makes me sick to my stomach and more than a little bit depressed. And that’s just a tiny bit of what I, a privileged white woman who has worked hard to limit her exposure to assholes and bigots as much as possible, have experienced first hand.
There’s a storm coming. And it’s going to be ugly.
Michelle Obama seems not to inspire the fealty among mainstream women that Hillary Clinton does. Over at the blog Hillary is 44, which has very vocal about suspected sexism directed at the first viable female candidate for president, a screed was recently posted entitled “God damn Michelle Obama.”
Obama wants his lantern jawed wife to be “off-limits”. Michelle apparently is the only spouse to get such special treatment. It was Michelle of course that debased herself by trying to dredge past right-wing attacks on Bill and Hillary Clinton. It was the Obama campaign that circulated anonymous memos attacking spouse Bill Clinton.
Lantern-jawed? It is sooo feminist to attack a woman based on her appearance. It’s a safe bet that the proud women at Hillary is 44 won’t be speaking out about how press, pundits and even some progressive bloggers have painted Michelle Obama as the stereotypical domineering black woman–a two-fer sexist and racist label.
Tami ends the piece with an admonition that all bloggers who self-identify as feminist MUST HEED if we are going to make any progress toward justice:
Mainstream feminists have been extremely vocal about the gender bias that has dogged Hillary Clinton since she appeared on the national stage. They rightly realized that sexism against the former First Lady and current Senator is just an example of the way society views ALL women. So, why are so many women standing silent, and worse, abetting the demonization of another woman of substance?
Shakesville kept up with the misogynistic attacks on Clinton with the Hillary Sexism Watch. Now, What About Our Daughters is taking it a necessary step further and starting a dedicated blog to monitor the situation:
Volunteer Michelle Media Monitors
This whole infamous tape stuff is just a sliver of what Michelle Obama is going to face in the media. So because I predict getting a flurry of emails from now until November, I am going to be proactive and start a separate Michelle Obama blog to track every article, blog post, youtube clip that pops up and provide you an opportunity to respond. Because if the past is any indicator, the campaign has no problem with her being turned into a verbal punching bag, I DO! IF you want to volunteer and want to post updates on the blog, send an email to the gmail account in the right sidebar. Its going to be a LONG hot SUMMER!
Whether you support her husband or not. Let’s be clear, any and every Black woman that walks in her footsteps can expect the same treatment so we might as well pull a Gandolf, draw a line in the stand and yell “THOU SHALL NOT PASS!” This ain’t about Barack, its about every professional Black woman that has had to smile on the days she didn’t want to for fear of being labeled ANGRY.
So keep your eyes open, and stay loud.
*I’m not entirely sure what the Vaseline is for, but I have some and would totally bring it along if M. Obama asked me to!
ETA: OKAY in the comments, MayDarling kindly explained:
If you’re going “roll on a bitch” ie, fight a girl, you put vaseline on your face so when said bitch tries to scratch you; instead of grabbing onto skin, she gets nails full of grease. Mainly just to keep your pretty face from being scarred from cat-fight scratches.
And, you know, I don’t want to put Vaseline on my face OR fight women so I guess Cheryl Lynn’s metaphor is not entirely apt for me, but the underly sentiment of support still stands.