Our candidates, ourselves

Feminists spar over the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Published February 4, 2008 10:30PM (EST)

A day before Super Tuesday, and the endorsement punches are flying fast and furious, especially between prominent feminists.

On Saturday, Robin Morgan published "Goodbye to All That (#2)" over at the Women's Media Center. In it, she let it rip, blasting the double standards applied to Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama ("she's 'ambitious' but he shows 'fire in the belly'"), and bidding farewell to "John McCain answering 'How do we beat the bitch?' with 'Excellent question!' Would he have dared reply similarly to 'How do we beat the black bastard?' For shame ... Goodbye to the HRC nutcracker with metal spikes between splayed thighs. If it was a tap-dancing blackface doll, we would be righteously outraged -- and they would not be selling it in airports. Shame ... Goodbye to the sick, malicious idea that this is funny. This is not 'Clinton hating,' not 'Hillary hating.' This is sociopathic woman-hating." Morgan concluded, "Me, I'm voting for Hillary not because she's a woman -- but because I am."


On Sunday, the same day that feminist Linda Hirshman published a New York Times magazine article called "16 Ways of Looking at a Female Voter," about the variety of ways in which women voters respond to Hillary Clinton, Kate Michelman, former head of NARAL Pro-Choice America and a former advisor to the John Edwards campaign, endorsed Obama. "Barack Obama is ... calling our nation to the greatness that we all want but that we're uncertain we can still achieve. Others talk about greatness and they even say all the right words, but they do not bring those words to life. Their words do not grab us by the arms and pull us along together."


On Monday, Nation columnist Katha Pollitt joined the fray. "Hillary Clinton is smart, energetic, immensely knowledgeable, and, as she likes to say, hard-working," wrote Pollitt, "but right now, I'm supporting Barack Obama." Pollitt wrote that she finds the domestic policy platforms of the two candidates similar, but that on foreign policy, "Obama seems more enlightened, as in less bellicose." Much as she would love to pull a lever for "a pro-choice Democratic woman president," Pollitt said that she realized, when she found herself buoyed by Obama's win in Iowa, how "deeply unthrilled I was by the prospect of a grim vote-by-vote fight for the 50 percent+1 majority in a campaign that would rehearse all the old (yes, mostly bogus or exaggerated) scandals and maybe turn up some new ones too." Obama, wrote Pollitt, is "a natural politician who connects with people as Hillary Clinton, for whatever reason, just doesn't, and appeals to the better angels of their nature." She added, "I usually resist words like 'hope' and 'change.' But with Supertuesday [sic] barely 36 hours away what I think is, let's go with the charismatic candidate this time. Let's go with the candidate voters feel some passion about. Let's say goodbye to the Clintons and have some new people make history."


By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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