This morning's blog-hopping led me to lx's "hillary, katie and sexism" post, which you can find here. In it, he considers the failures of the Clinton campaign and the sexist media coverage, concluding that it is wrong to lay the blame for Clinton's loss on sexism but, rather, her campaign. Here's my response (it was becoming too long to leave in the comments section):


You've pretty much summed up both sides here, though, rather than saying sexism did not hurt her campaign outright, I'd say that it's hard to know exactly how sexism affected her campaign.

On the one hand, sexism may have at times helped her. There was speculation that people (especially in the blogosphere) who were upset by the sexist media coverage- particularly statements made by Matthews- prompted them to get out and vote for Clinton.

"The importance of tonight's win can not be understated. It was a revolt of women sick and tired of the likes of Chris Tweety Matthews and the Media Misogynists. Their hatred of Hillary Clinton was soundly rejected by the voters," announced TalkLeft, an influential liberal blog published out of Denver, Colorado, by defense attorney Jeralyn E. Merritt.
It's hard to know whether these people would have voted for her anyway, or would have stayed home, or would have voted for Obama. Personal anecdotes are never a substitute for scientific evidence. But if these comments actually reflect reality, then it's safe to say that sexism helped her, even if only a little bit.

On the other hand, sexism is so ingrained in us, that statements igniting those sentiments often affect us without us realizing it. This happens automatically and is hard to control unless you force yourself to be aware of them and to then counteract their effects. (Check out my post on schemas and stereotypes for a brief intro.) So, hearing that she is a reminder of a "scolding mother" or "everyone's first wife standing outside a probate court" really does resonate with people. It is hard for some of us to think these images affect us (especially those who haven't, say, been married to the crazy women *rolls eyes*). But, like I said, we can't really know for sure unless we're constantly evaluating and analyzing everything that is said and our reactions to those statements.

Because of this, again, it's hard to say what affect sexism had, and of course it was different for different people. But your initial point of concentrating so much on the sexism that we ignore that it really was a horrible campaign is not helping anything at all. These conversations and debates need to include both sides in order to be truly fair.

2 comments:

At Tue Jun 17, 12:46:00 PM hysperia said...

Great post, thanks. I think that we can say that sexism directed toward Sen Clinton during the campaign had a negative effect on women. And then I think that maybe it was good that the existence of rampant sexist attitudes often lurks below the surface and it was not necessarily bad that it came out. And then I think of all the hateful sexism trucked out in response to the sexism and I think it just doubled or tripled the volume. Ackkk... But thanks for putting my thinking on a slightly more interesting track.

 
At Tue Jun 17, 01:00:00 PM Sally said...

I'm glad I got you thinking a bit differently!

I think the key in the end will be, as you mention, having it "come out." Now there are more calls for Obama to speak up about sexism, and the media is (starting to) critique itself. Even though I get really p*ssed when I watch the news lately, I tell myself that this is a discussion that's long overdue, so in the end I hope this will have some great effects: new feminists in the mix, holding media responsible for other issues as well, etc.

 

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