I dove into researching The Gender Issue in the current presidential race, treating my own good sense like a science experiment to be dissected. I was empathetic with Hilary when she cried, but drew back when her misty eyes got more media than the genocide in Sudan has all year. There was Gloria's Op-ed in the NYTimes, telling me that I was a chump if, as a woman I didn't support Hil. The Sunday Times had another nifty piece: "16 Ways of Looking at a Female Voter." As if I didn't feel of two minds about the whole thing already! #7 suggested that women didn't know nearly as much as men about politics, and so we depend on our emotions to make decisions. I thought about Hilary crying. I thought about Barack, the rockstar politician, and twittered. Was I to be trusted as a citizen?
My certainty hit a new low when Robin Morgan re-wrote her classic feminist manifesto "Goodbye to All That" on behalf of Hil's political aspirations: "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!' / ...As for the "woman thing"? / Me, I'm voting for Hillary not because she's a woman -- but because I am."
Ugh, right? At the very beginning, I wanted Hilary to win, I did. I always thought Barack the better character, but Hilary the better candidate. She's smart - a political being. She has a calculating edge, which makes it easy for me to imagine her in the White House, making the hard calls that you and I can't and don't want to. I didn't want Barack's winning vision to be violated up on Capital Hill...
Worst of all, could I, as all my feminist icons seemed to be saying, unconsciously hate women? Two seconds of thought made me realize that's crazy. I love women - and I, like any patriotic sap, love the idea of America (the details, we all know, are a bit grey at the moment). It must be about the vision thing this election. I try to follow a rational philosophy "informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion." The leadership we need now is something I think and feel is stronger in Barack than it is in Hilary (because those who suggest good sense can be achieved without both thought and feeling are idiots). So, maybe my conclusion- that Barack gets my vote because of a gut instinct -- is lame. But so is, I think, voting blindly for Hilary. Because, as #15 in "16 Ways of Looking at the Female Voter" points out, the political is personal.
* All "Obama" references have been updated to "Barack" as I realized after posting this piece that I had to be fair and either make Clinton and Obama each their own "man" or use both their first names. When I was referring to Clinton as Hilary, and Obama as Obama, I was really doing Hilary a disservice. Apparently, this tendency is dominating the blog-world, and the feminist analysis of why this is subtle sexism is probably foder for another boring blog. So, I apologize, Hilary Rodam Clinton!