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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Goodbye To All That -- on the Clinton v Obama Campaign

Goodbye To All That (#2)
by Robin Morgan
February 2, 2008

"Goodbye To All That" was my (in)famous 1970 essay breaking
free from a politics of accommodation especially affecting
women (for an online version, see

During my decades in civil-rights, anti-war, and
contemporary women's movements, I've avoided writing another
specific "Goodbye . . ." But not since the suffrage struggle
have two communities—joint conscience-keepers of this
country—been so set in competition, as the contest between
Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) and Barack Obama (BO) unfurls.

Goodbye to the double standard . . .
—Hillary is too ballsy but too womanly, a Snow Maiden
who's emotional, and so much a politician as to be unfit for
—She's "ambitious" but he shows "fire in the belly." (Ever
had labor pains?)

—When a sexist idiot screamed "Iron my shirt!" at HRC, it
was considered amusing; if a racist idiot shouted "Shine my
shoes!" at BO, it would've inspired hours of airtime and
pages of newsprint analyzing our national dishonor.
—Young political Kennedys—Kathleen, Kerry, and Bobby
Jr.—all endorsed Hillary. Senator Ted, age 76, endorsed
Obama. If the situation were reversed, pundits would snort
"See? Ted and establishment types back her, but the
forward-looking generation backs him." (Personally, I'm
unimpressed with Caroline's longing for the Return of the
Fathers. Unlike the rest of the world, Americans have short
memories. Me, I still recall Marilyn Monroe's suicide, and a
dead girl named Mary Jo Kopechne in Chappaquiddick.)

Goodbye to the toxic viciousness . . .
Carl Bernstein's disgust at Hillary's "thick ankles."
Nixon-trickster Roger Stone's new Hillary-hating 527 group,
"Citizens United Not Timid." 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 most intimately violent T-shirts in election
history, including one with the murderous slogan "If Only
Hillary had married O.J. Instead!" Shame.

Goodbye to Comedy Central's "Southpark" featuring a
storyline in which terrorists secrete a bomb in HRC's
vagina. I refuse to wrench my brain down into the gutter far
enough to find a race-based comparison. For shame.

Goodbye to the sick, malicious idea that this is funny. This
is not "Clinton hating," not "Hillary hating." This is
sociopathic woman-hating. If it were about Jews, we would
recognize it instantly as anti-Semitic propaganda; if about
race, as KKK poison. Hell, PETA would go ballistic if such
vomitous spew were directed at animals. Where is our sense
of outrage—as citizens, voters, Americans?

Goodbye to the news-coverage target-practice . . .
The women's movement and Media Matters wrung an apology from
MSNBC's Chris Matthews for relentless misogynistic comments
( But what about NBC's Tim
Russert's continual sexist asides and his all-white-male
panels pontificating on race and gender? Or CNN's Tony
Harris chuckling at "the chromosome thing" while
interviewing a woman from The White House Project? And
that's not even mentioning Fox News.

Goodbye to pretending the black community is entirely male
and all women are white . . .
Surprise! Women exist in all opinions, pigmentations,
ethnicities, abilities, sexual preferences, and ages—not
only African American and European American but Latina and
Native American, Asian American and Pacific Islanders, Arab
American and—hey, every group, because a group wouldn't
exist if we hadn't given birth to it. A few non-racist
countries may exist—but sexism is everywhere. No matter
how many ways a woman breaks free from other
discriminations, she remains a female human being in a world
still so patriarchal that it's the "norm."

So why should all women not be as justly proud of our
womanhood and the centuries, even millennia, of struggle
that got us this far, as black Americans, women and men, are
justly proud of their struggles?

Goodbye to a campaign where he has to pass as white (which
whites—especially wealthy ones—adore), while she has to
pass as male (which both men and women demanded of her, and
then found unforgivable). If she were blackor he were female
we wouldn't be having such problems, and I for one would be
in heaven. But at present such a candidate wouldn't stand a
chance—even if she shared Condi Rice's Bush-defending

I was celebrating the pivotal power at last focused on
African American women deciding on which of two candidates
to bestow their vote—until a number of Hillary-supporting
black feminists told me they're being called "race

So goodbye to conversations about this nation's deepest
scar—slavery—which fail to acknowledge that labor- and
sexual-slavery exist today in the U.S. and elsewhere on this
planet, and the majority of those enslaved are women.

Women have endured sex/race/ethnic/religious hatred, rape
and battery, invasion of spirit and flesh, forced pregnancy;
being the majority of the poor, the illiterate, the
disabled, of refugees, caregivers, the HIV/AIDS afflicted,
the powerless. We have survived invisibility, ridicule,
religious fundamentalisms, polygamy, teargas, forced
feedings, jails, asylums, sati, purdah, female genital
mutilation, witch burnings, stonings, and attempted
gynocides. We have tried reason, persuasion, reassurances,
and being extra-qualified, only to learn it never was about
qualifications after all. We know that at this historical
moment women experience the world differently from
men—though not all the same as one another—and can
govern differently, from Elizabeth Tudor to Michele Bachelet
and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

We remember when Shirley Chisholm and Patricia Schroeder ran
for this high office and barely got past the gate—they
showed too much passion, raised too little cash, were joke
fodder. Goodbye to all that. (And goodbye to some feminists
so famished for a female president they were even willing to
abandon women's rights in backing Elizabeth Dole.)

Goodbye, goodbye to . . .
—blaming anything Bill Clinton does on Hillary (even
including his womanizing like the Kennedy guys—though
unlike them, he got reported on). Let's get real. If he
hadn't campaigned strongly for her everyone would cluck over
what that meant. Enough of Bill and Teddy Kennedy locking
their alpha male horns while Hillary pays for it.
—an era when parts of the populace feel so disaffected by
politics that a comparative lack of knowledge, experience,
and skill is actually seen as attractive, when
celebrity-culture mania now infects our elections so that
it's "cooler" to glow with marquee charisma than to
understand the vast global complexities of power on a
nuclear, wounded planet.
—the notion that it's fun to elect a handsome, cocky
president who feels he can learn on the job, goodbye to
George W. Bush and the destruction brought by his
inexperience, ignorance, and arrogance.

Goodbye to the accusation that HRC acts "entitled" when
she's worked intensely at everything she's done—including
being a nose-to-the-grindstone, first-rate senator from my

Goodbye to her being exploited as a Rorschach test by women
who reduce her to a blank screen on which they project their
own fears, failures, fantasies.

Goodbye to the phrase "polarizing figure" to describe
someone who embodies the transitions women have made in the
last century and are poised to make in this one. It was the
women's movement that quipped, "We are becoming the men we
wanted to marry." She heard us, and she has.

Goodbye to some women letting history pass by while wringing
their hands, because Hillary isn't as "likeable" as they've
been warned they must be, or because she didn't leave him,
couldn't "control" him, kept her family together and raised
a smart, sane daughter. (Think of the blame if Chelsea had
ever acted in the alcoholic, neurotic manner of the Bush
twins!) Goodbye to some women pouting because she didn't
bake cookies or she did, sniping because she learned the
rules and then bent or broke them. Grow the hell up. She is
not running for Ms.-perfect-pure-queen-icon of the feminist
movement. She's running to be president of the United

Goodbye to the shocking American ignorance of our own and
other countries' history. Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir
rose through party ranks and war, positioning themselves as
proto-male leaders. Almost all other female heads of
government so far have been related to men of
power—granddaughters, daughters, sisters, wives, widows:
Gandhi, Bandaranike, Bhutto, Aquino, Chamorro, Wazed,
Macapagal-Arroyo, Johnson Sirleaf, Bachelet, Kirchner, and
more. Even in our "land of opportunity," it's mostly the
first pathway "in" permitted to women: Representatives Doris
Matsui and Mary Bono and Sala Burton; Senator Jean Carnahan
. . . far too many to list here.

Goodbye to a misrepresented generational divide . . .
Goodbye to the so-called spontaneous "Obama Girl" flaunting
her bikini-clad ass online—then confessing Oh yeah it
wasn't her idea after all, some guys got her to do it and
dictated the clothes, which she said "made me feel like a

Goodbye to some young women eager to win male approval by
showing they're not feminists (at least not the kind who
actually threaten thestatus quo), who can't identify with a
woman candidate because she is unafraid of eeueweeeu yucky
power, who fear their boyfriends might look at them funny if
they say something good about her. Goodbye to women of any
age again feeling unworthy, sulking "what if she's not
electable?" or "maybe it's post-feminism and whoooosh we're
already free." Let a statement by the magnificent Harriet
Tubman stand as reply. When asked how she managed to save
hundreds of enslaved African Americans via the Underground
Railroad during the Civil War, she replied bitterly, "I
could have saved thousands—if only I'd been able to
convince them they were slaves."

I'd rather say a joyful Hello to all the glorious young
women who do identify with Hillary, and all the brave, smart
men—of all ethnicities and any age—who get that it's in
their self-interest, too. She's better qualified. (D'uh.)
She's a high-profile candidate with an enormous grasp of
foreign- and domestic-policy nuance, dedication to detail,
ability to absorb staggering insult and personal pain while
retaining dignity, resolve, even humor, and keep on keeping
on. (Also, yes, dammit, let's hear it for her connections
and funding and party-building background, too. Obama was
awfully glad about those when she raised dough and
campaigned for him to get to the Senate in the first place.)

I'd rather look forward to what a good president he might
make in eight years, when his vision and spirit are seasoned
by practical know-how—and he'll be all of 54. Meanwhile,
goodbye to turning him into a shining knight when actually
he's an astute, smooth pol with speechwriters who've worked
with the Kennedys' own speechwriter-courtier Ted Sorenson.
If it's only about ringing rhetoric, let speechwriters run.
But isn't it about getting the policies we want enacted?

And goodbye to the ageism . . .
How dare anyone unilaterally decide when to turn the page on
history, papering over real inequities and suffering
constituencies in the promise of a feel-good campaign? How
dare anyone claim to unify while dividing, or think that to
rouse U.S. youth from torpor it's useful to triage the
single largest demographic in this country's history: the
boomer generation—the majority of which is female?

Old woman are the one group that doesn't grow more
conservative with age—and we are the generation of
radicals who said "Well-behaved women seldom make history."
Goodbye to going gently into any goodnight any man
prescribes for us. We are the women who changed the reality
of the United States. And though we never went away, brace
yourselves: we're back!

We are the women who brought this country equal credit,
better pay, affirmative action, the concept of a
family-focused workplace; the women who established
rape-crisis centers and battery shelters, marital-rape and
date-rape laws; the women who defended lesbian custody
rights, who fought for prison reform, founded the peace and
environmental movements; who insisted that medical research
include female anatomy; who inspired men to become more
nurturing parents; who created women's studies and Title IX
so we all could cheer the WNBA stars and Mia Hamm. We are
the women who reclaimed sexuality from violent pornography,
who put childcare on the national agenda, who transformed
demographics, artistic expression, language itself. We are
the women who forged a worldwide movement. We are the proud
successors of women who, though it took more than 50 years,
won us the vote.

We are the women who now comprise the majority of U.S.

Hillary said she found her own voice in New Hampshire.
There's not a woman alive who, if she's honest, doesn't
recognize what she means. Then HRC got drowned out by
campaign experts, Bill, and media's obsession with
everything Bill.

So listen to her voice:

"For too long, the history of women has been a history of
silence. Even today, there are those who are trying to
silence our words.

"It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied
food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken,
simply because they are born girls. It is a violation of
human rights when woman and girls are sold into the slavery
of prostitution. It is a violation of human rights when
women are doused with gasoline, set on fire and burned to
death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small.
It is a violation of human rights when individual women are
raped in their own communities and when thousands of women
are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war. It is a
violation of human rights when a leading cause of death
worldwide along women ages 14 to 44 is the violence they are
subjected to in their own homes. It is a violation of human
rights when women are denied the right to plan their own
families, and that includes being forced to have abortions
or being sterilized against their will.

"Women's rights are human rights. Among those rights are the
right to speak freely—and the right to be heard."

That was Hillary Rodham Clinton defying the U.S. State
Department and the Chinese Government at the 1995 UN World
Conference on Women in Beijing (look here for the full,
stunning speech).

And this voice, age 22, in "Commencement Remarks of Hillary
D. Rodham, President of Wellesley College Government
Association, Class of 1969."

"We are, all of us, exploring a world none of us
understands. . . . searching for a more immediate, ecstatic,
and penetrating mode of living. . . . [for the] integrity,
the courage to be whole, living in relation to one another
in the full poetry of existence. The struggle for an
integrated life existing in an atmosphere of communal trust
and respect is one with desperately important political and
social consequences. . . . Fear is always with us, but we
just don't have time for it."

She ended with the commitment "to practice, with all the
skill of our being: the art of making possible."

And for decades, she's been learning how.

So goodbye to Hillary's second-guessing herself. The real
question is deeper than her re-finding her voice. Can we
women find ours? Can we do this for ourselves?

"Our President, Ourselves!"

Time is short and the contest tightening. We need to rise in
furious energy—as we did when Anita Hill was so vilely
treated in the U.S. Senate, as we did when Rosie Jiminez was
butchered by an illegal abortion, as we did and do for women
globally who are condemned for trying to break through. We
need to win, this time. Goodbye to supporting HRC tepidly,
with ambivalent caveats and apologetic smiles. Time to
volunteer, make phone calls, send emails, donate money,
argue, rally, march, shout, vote.

Me? I support Hillary Rodham because she's the best
qualified of all candidates running in both parties. I
support her because she's refreshingly thoughtful, and I'm
bloodied from eight years of a jolly "uniter" with
ejaculatory politics. I needn't agree with her on every
point. I agree with the 97 percent of her positions that are
identical with Obama's—and the few where hers are both
more practical and to the left of his (like health care). I
support her because she's already smashed the first-lady
stereotype and made history as a fine senator, because I
believe she will continue to make history not only as the
first U.S. woman president, but as a great U.S. president.

As for the "woman thing"?

Me, I'm voting for Hillary not because she's a woman—but
because I am.


About the Author: An award-winning writer, feminist leader,
political analyst, journalist, editor, and co-founder of the
Women's Media Center, Robin Morgan has published 21 books,
including six of poetry, four of fiction, and the
now-classic anthologies Sisterhood Is Powerful, Sisterhood
Is Global, and Sisterhood Is Forever.

Her work has been translated into 13 languages. A founder of
contemporary U.S. feminism, she has also been a leader in
the international women's movement for 25 years. Recent
books include A Hot January: Poems 1996-1999; Saturday's
Child: A Memoir; her best-selling The Demon Lover: The Roots
of Terrorism, updated and reissued in 2001; and her novel,
The Burning Time. Her nonfiction work, Fighting Words: A
Took Kit for Combating the Religious Right, came out in
September 2006.

1 comment:

Darrell's End Times said...

I live in SF California and on Tuesday, February, 5, 2008 I voted for Hillary. The Bush administration has created a lot of financial, social and political problems that has to be addressed almost right now. If not the world faces dislocations that may lead us into an Abyss that cannot be defined.