POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

Don't try and prove your masculinity...

My friend Tim Dees takes Gloria Steinem to task in one of his excellent Fact of the Day essays.  He also has a good one on "Brooklyn" which is quite humorous.  Check him out at http://www.thefotd.com/

The Steinem piece I have grafted in here below as well.  Just trying to prove my masculinity...Here is Tim's review of the recent NY Times Op Ed.



Amid all the bad things that can be said about this election, there is one good thing that I can say: we have the most diverse presidential field ever, and the candidates are being judged on their merits, not on the color of their skin or their gender.  This isn't a universal truth yet, but Barack Obama's success and Hillary Clinton's relative success indicate that non-white male candidates now have a chance.  This is great news.

It would take a real killjoy to turn this expression of egalitarianism into a platform to tell everyone that they're racist or sexist, but Gloria Steinem had an op-ed piece in the Times today that did just that.  I've never been a fan of the way the Times op-ed page is edited (I use the term loosely), but Steinem's piece is particularly fatuous.

For the full argument, read the article yourself (it's available here), but in short, Steinem states that (a) Barack Obama would never have a shot if he were a woman, and (b) Hillary Clinton is losing the election because she is a woman.

Like all Hillary Clinton supporters, Gloria Steinem believes that the key to being president is experience.  That is certainly true in the insurance industry, but that's really about it.  Abraham Lincoln had minimal experience; Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson each had more experience than half the Democratic field combined.  Americans aren't looking for someone experienced, they're looking for someone they can believe in.

It's this commitment to the message of experience that leaves Steinem confused.  How can Iowans reject the more experienced candidate?  And here Steinem starts kicking in the Freud: "children are still raised mostly by women (to put it mildly) so men especially tend to feel they are regressing to childhood when dealing with a powerful woman."  Gotcha, guys!

When Steinem tries to explain why she supports Clinton, things really fall apart: "I'm supporting Senator Clinton because like Senator Obama she has community organizing experience, but she also has more years in the Senate, an unprecedented eight years of on-the-job training in the White House, no masculinity to prove, the potential to tap a huge reservoir of this country's talent by her example, and now even the courage to break the no-tears rule."  Take a careful look at qualification #4: "no masculinity to prove."  I'm no Barack Obama expert, but I don't picture him as the kind of guy who's always challenging people to arm wrestling matches and accepting dares to drink hot sauce.  What Steinem is saying is that every male is fundamentally deficient, because he feels compelled to prove his masculinity.

But that's not all.  Check out this paragraph:

"What worries me is that some women, perhaps especially younger ones, hope to deny or escape the sexual caste system; thus Iowa women over 50 and 60, who disproportionately supported Senator Clinton, proved once again that women are the one group that grows more radical with age."

Note the massive assumption that a vote for Hillary is a "radical" vote.  I can't honestly say why voting for a woman is more radical than voting for a mixed race candidate, but that's an assumption that Steinem made without support.  It's worth noting that college students, known for being radical, are polling hugely in favor of Obama.

So at the heart of this article are two huge assumptions: that men feel compelled to prove their masculinity, and that voting for Hillary is radical.  You could call these prejudices.