Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I wear the pantsuits

Dear god. You’d think that Hillary just blew the chance for peace in the Middle East, the way that the blogs and news outlets are clamoring on about her response to a Congolese student Monday about what her husband thought about an international financial matter. (see video above)

I woke up to multiple posts about this little “outburst” yesterday, and by the time I actually watched the Youtube video, I was prepared for a wince inducing show. Instead, I watched, sat back, and smiled. THAT’S MY GIRL! Just like Barbara Boxer, she’s standing up for herself and demanding to be taken seriously.

The question (as translated) was indeed infuriating. As Justice Ginsburg has recently reminded us, even the most powerful women have their voices muted.

I find it incongruous that the news was also filled this past week with shock and outrage over the women-hating motivations of the shooter at the suburban gym in Pennsylvania. Male reporters were quick to offer self-congratulatory critiques on the misogyny still ever so present today.

Frankly, I don’t have enough women in leadership positions to use as a role model for those frustrating, every day sexist occurrences in the workplace. Men who refuse to learn my name, so just call me “sweetie” in meetings, or men who prefer to answer my questions directly to my (male) boss.

No, this isn’t a flashback to Mad Men times. This is life in politics and corporate America in the 21st century.

So, thank you, Hillary. Thank you for standing up for yourself, your smarts, and your job. You’ve inspired me.


erikasotolamb said...

Preach on, sister! I thought Hillary's response to the question (as translated) was totally fair. I would have responded the same way. However, if I were her advisor, I have to say that I'd tell her not to change the message but rather, change the tone. Unfortunately, as a politician she has to deal with "likability" and her brusque response plays into (unfairly) negative existing perceptions of her. This applies to the boys too but is even more important for women.

Liam said...

Actually, I thought the tone was perfect and I mused that being a powerful and visible public figure who is currently *not* strictly speaking a politician (i.e. not holding or seeking elected office in the immediate future) gives her the luxury to respond to such shit with the tone it deserves. Compare this to when those guys in New Hampshire chanted "iron my shirt"; Candidate Clinton was certainly tough, but she really just made a joke out of it, saying with a laugh "Ah the remnants of sexism, alive and well." Perhaps Secretary of State Clinton would have walked off the podium and strangled them with some bunting. Or compare this to when Obama said (very calmly and correctly) that the Cambridge police acted "stupidly." Well, we all saw the awkward way that quote was walked back and turned into a "teachable moment" complete with an after-school special confront-the-bully moment. Although it turns out the question was mistranslated, asking Clinton what her husband thought was not a "teachable moment" so much as a "kick someone's ass moment" and she delivered. Finally, in her defense, I don't think she "snapped" or "lost it" as idiot arm-chair psychologists like Maureen Dowd would have it. I think her response was carefully calibrated to her mission there: stopping rape and sexual violence in central Africa. What better way to drive home her message that women need to be respected than by unapologetically demanding it herself?