Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Feminism in a Clinton White House

Continuing with my resolve to pay attention to what a Hillary Clinton presidency might/will be like, here's some fascinating banter from two New York Times reporters, Jodi Kantor and Susan Dominus. Kantor wrote what I considered a genuinely revealing book about the Obama White House. She's thought hard about this sort of thing.

[Jodi Kantor]: ... This could be messy. Defining the Feminist Thing to Do in a woman’s White House is likely to be a running riddle, because which is the project: role reversal or wiping away outdated roles altogether?. Perhaps the first husband should smash the outdated conventions of the presidential-spouse role, do away with the floral-botanical complex for good? Publicly discuss Syria policy and environmental protection, because who made the rule that smart presidential spouses don’t discuss that stuff, anyway? But the risk of undercutting or overshadowing Hillary Clinton is great, as we saw in the 2008 race.

Cosmically, it seems as if figuring this all out could be part of Bill Clinton’s penance for the damage he did years ago. He is unlikely to talk about it. First spouses have little incentive for public introspection — name the last deep interview Michelle Obama did — but his actions will speak volumes. ...

[Susan Dominus]: Of course, we do have a precedent for a first spouse who advised the president on foreign policy, and pretty much everything else, and that was Hillary Clinton. Many of her supporters at the time called that feminism; but as you suggest, if Bill were to play as much of a role in her presidency as she did in his (especially in his first term), it would look anything but feminist, to the public.

... I know I’m getting ahead of myself here, but it is comforting to realize that Hillary Clinton is probably not singular, that there will be other women running for president as serious candidates going forward. And possibly those elections will be far less fraught than this one. ...The recording has amplified, for many women, their sense of the urgency of this election. It’s not just that they can’t bear Trump, or that they love Hillary; it’s that the election is about something bigger now than just the office of the presidency. The recording put many women directly in touch with their outrage about the outdated, the exclusionary, the sexist, the predatory, the power-and-otherwise grabby. ...

The sexist environment created by electing the first woman U.S. president isn't going to go away just because HRC vanquishes Mr. GOP Id.

1 comment:

Hattie said...

This whole election cycle has been about gender. Now everyone understands that.

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