I must admit this New York Times column calling for Clinton to deliver a speech on gender struck a chord with me. I particularly enjoyed when author Anna Holmes said, “sexism is so pervasive as to be almost invisible and so accepted that to mention it is to risk being accused of hypersensitivity.” Too often women refuse to speak up against sexism or, even worse, they fail to diagnose it out of fear of being labeled a “feminist.”
I was guilty of the sin of silence a couple of weeks ago at Barnes and Noble. After buying a copy of The Nation with Clinton’s not-too-happy face plastered on the cover, I met sexism face to face. My cashier, a grandmotherly woman with silver hair and round features, smirked at me from behind the counter and shared a story she found charming. A man had come in just before me and exclaimed while looking at the same magazine, “I’d hate to wake up to that every morning.” She thought this was hilarious. I didn’t have the heart to break it to grandma that I found his comment neither humorous nor cute. I was deeply offended. But, with perfect feminine, genteel manners, I smiled and looked down, tucked my hair behind my ear, and walked out of the store.
I’ve heard many a woman proclaim that gender equality is here. Sexism is dead. While I’d like to embrace the post-feminism ideal, there’s this whole issue of the gender wage gap, or the lack of a coherent, comprehensive maternity policy that gets in my way. Granted, I think women have taken an all too active role in perpetuating many of the stereotypes and inequalities in the workforce and the home. But I also think we women have come a long way. And even though I didn’t vote for her, I think Hillary Clinton stands for just what women can accomplish.
Voting for Clinton because she’s a woman reduces gender to a trump card. I’m not voting for Obama because he’s black, and I’m certainly not voting for him because he’s a man. It’s not that I ignore these facts, but they aren’t the game-changer. I honestly believe this is just the beginning of women taking an equal role with men in politics. Nancy Pelosi is another example of this changing tide. And if we can have a Madame Speaker, then I think a Madam President isn’t too far off either. So I don’t have to vote for the first person I see wearing lipstick on the campaign trail (Rudy Giuliani notwithstanding).
I would like to hear Clinton deliver a speech on gender because she is the only woman to make it this far in the race for the most prestigious job in the country. I may not agree with the way she runs her campaign or the Washington lobbyists, but only she can speak to the effects of gender roles and sexism on a national stage.