NOW, wait a second ...

The New York branch of the National Organization for Women's press release about Ted Kennedy's endorsement of Obama has feminists shaking their heads.

By Catherine Price

Published January 29, 2008 6:12PM (EST)

The other day we received a press release from the New York state chapter of NOW that was so ridiculous it almost seemed like it must be a parody. Titled "Senator Ted Kennedy Betrays Women," it claims that by endorsing Barack Obama for president, Kennedy committed "the greatest betrayal" against women. "We are repaid with his abandonment!" the author writes. "He's picked the new guy over us. He's joined the list of progressive white men who can't or won't handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton (they will of course say they support a woman president, just not 'this' one)."

It then goes on to assert that it is our "obligation" to "promote and earn and deserve and elect, unabashedly, a President that is the first woman after centuries of men who 'know what's best for us.'"

When we first got wind of this press release, we double-checked the source to make sure it wasn't from the Onion -- because this has to be a joke. A state chapter of a national feminist organization is saying that we should vote for someone just because she's a woman? Really? I suppose that also means that all white men should vote for John Edwards and all black people should endorse Obama (although by that logic, black women are screwed -- they've got two groups to betray). Call me naive, but I'd planned on basing my political decisions on the candidates' ability and political positions, not on whether we both have ovaries.

Unsurprisingly, the press release caused quite a stir -- the Politico confirmed that, unfortunately, it wasn't a joke; several blogs, including Feministe, called out New York NOW for its hyperbole (and for making it seem as if feminists should vote for anything with breasts).

Also unsurprisingly, the national head of NOW does not agree with the New York branch (why there isn't a better vetting process for crazy press releases is unclear). It put up a much more rational response to Kennedy's endorsement. Shorter, and with a notable lack of exclamation points, it settles its differences with Kennedy by saying, "Though the National Organization for Women Political Action Committee has proudly endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for president, we respect Sen. Kennedy's endorsement. We continue to encourage women everywhere to express their opinions and exercise their right to vote."

That sounds more like it.

Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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