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Iron My Skirt > Letters

Web Letter

So, women have learned that a clean, kid-gloved campaign is what will bring them victory in American politics? Iron my campaign, then?

Sexism has gone underground. Some of us are so used to second-guessing our experiences of it at work (where knowing how much more the guys make than us is grounds for dismissal), in casual conversation (it's tiresome to discuss why the Hillary nutcracker isn't funny),and sometimes at home (repeatedly asking for help in a two-career household is being a shrew)--that when it comes out in its best party dress all made up for high-definition lighting, we don't even know what we're looking at. Of course it's simplistic and just plain wrong to say that Hillary lost because of misogyny. Of course I'm happy that she did as well as she did. But a spade is a spade, even if some of you can't recognize it.

Kristi Leach

New Port Richey, FL

Jun 28 2008 - 6:00pm

Web Letter

I'm done. I've been skeptical about Katha Pollitt in the past, but "Iron My Skirt" is the finisher. I'm not going to read another of her columns again.

Ms. Pollitt is of the old school genre of feminism that subscribes to the idea that any criticism of a woman is a criticism of all women. At the start of Hillary Clinton's campaign, I was ambivalent about her; at worst feeling that she represented Democratic Party establishment and a continuation of the center-right politics of her husband. By the end of her campaign, I had changed and was moved towards the "can't stand her" camp described by Ms. Pollet, especially after the 3 am ad and her statement about RFK.

Keith Olberman's "indignant, hysterical bombast" about Ms. Clinton was not just about the RFK statement-- if Pollitt had listened, she would have realized it was a response to the conglomeration of all the Clinton's uses of Rovian politics during her run for the presidency.

Ms. Clinton has certainly changed the way women running for the presidency will be seen in the future. We now recognize that they can be just as crass, divisive, selfish and Machiavellian as men.

Scott Michael Polk

Austin, TX

Jun 14 2008 - 3:36pm

Web Letter

Camille Paglia has had the final word on Hillary Clinton: she is Evita! The cult of personality mascarading as populism.

Norman Ravitch

Savannah, GA

Jun 11 2008 - 1:49pm

Web Letter

I believe that Hillary wants to make a presentation to the convention after she has been nominated. After which, she can concede gracefully to Obama. She may very well have remained in the race because she did not want to acknowledge defeat and those around her told her she was going to pull it out. She believed because it was what she wanted. The reason some of her campaigning became more strident could very well have been that she knew deep down it was a lost cause and was frustrated as she was still getting the same feedback from her confidants. She couldn't quit because she would have been letting them down, a lose, lose situation.

There are always going to be the misogynists and the racists, many of whom will deny it. (I'm voting for McCain because..., not because he's black or she's a she. I would never do that.)

Her refusal to admit a mistake was a problem (too much like Bush). Another problem early on, when Senator Clinton was the solid front runner was her refusal to have Q&As with the press. The press became annoyed and eventually got even. Our leaders have to be willing to admit mistakes and talk to the press, else we do not trust them.

Brian Pinsley

North Wales, PA

Jun 10 2008 - 11:13am

Web Letter

It's understandable that there are many angry losers in this primary campaign. Many women. Some men too.

But more puzzling to this Hillary supporter are the sore winners, still angry at Hillary for running.

Obama supporters: Your guy won! That's what electoral politics is about: winning. I applaud. Now we can look at the issues again.

I am not a sore loser. I am happy to see Obama win. I expect him to win in November. Then we'll see what happens in Iraq and in the US.

But Obama's victory is a lost opportunity for universal health insurance. Both Obama and Hillary are "centrists," that is, conservatives. Hillary offered a corporate health policy. But it was better than nothing.

Froma Harrop put it better than I can.

Aaron Lercher

Baton Rouge, LA

Jun 10 2008 - 11:04am

Web Letter

Hillary Clinton's speech ending her campaign for the presidency was brilliant and exactly what she needed to say. Her campaign has expanded the possibilities women and girls may imagine. She will fight for a variety of measures of particular importance to women and become a feminist hero. As a feminist from the 1970s, I can only applaud these contributions. She must not become, however, a model for feminists.

Hillary lost the nomination because of her abandonment of key feminist ideals, not, as she claims, because of sexism. The media and opponents were sexist, but that pales before the mistakes she herself made as she fought "like one of the boys" to beat Obama, Too often, she resorted to dishonesty and belittling remarks about her opponent. Her repeated references to the assassination of Robert Kennedy were particularly brutal and should disqualify her from being the vice presidential candidate. Ready with plans for "Day 1," she indicated that she believed that government should be from the top down and left little space for listening and compromising, even with her own followers. Women became a focus only when they proved themselves to be among her staunchest supporters. Hilary would not admit she was losing. She used misleading measures to claim she was ahead when little chance remained of her gaining the nomination. Like George W. Bush, she seemed to be in a bubble, isolated from the reality of defeat.

Feminism is not about the power gained by individual elite women willing to follow the destructive patterns of men who will do anything possible to win. Feminism is about the wisdom of practices, traditionally destined as womanly, of listening, bridging conflicts and putting the needs of others before your own fight to achieve personal gains. Ironically, these are values Baraca Obama showed in the campaign more than Hillary Clinton did.

Marilyn Dell Brady

Alpine, TX

Jun 10 2008 - 10:42am

Web Letter

I can't help but respond incredulously to Marilyn Dell Brady's take on feminism, in one of your web letters below: "Feminism is about the wisdom of practices, traditionally destined as womanly, of listening, bridging conflicts and putting the needs of others before your own fight to achieve personal gains."

Nothing could be more insidious than such a pronouncement. Stereotypically "womanly" and "manly" traits may indeed prove to have some basis in biology, and therefore can't be ignored. But neither should they be swallowed whole and wielded as a political weapon. The point of feminism is to guarantee all adults equal opportunity to be assholes, saints or something in between. Though his speaking style is much more conciliatory than Clinton's, Obama is no more saintly than she is when you look carefully at his campaign. Perhaps you prefer a "womanly" veneer on a "manly" campaigner, but you should not couch your preference in what you've errantly decided to call true feminism.

Ruth Richert

Seattle, WA

Jun 10 2008 - 10:06am

Web Letter

We should be thankful for Hillary's campaign?

Thankful that she told lie after lie, especially about her role in enabling the invasion of Iraq?

Or should we be thankful that Hillary promised to "obliterate" Iran, at Israel's behest?

Hillary is more McCain than McCain and people saw that.

We don't need another "friend" of Israel in the White House, that will send our kids off to fight Israel's "existential" enemies like Hillary promised.

Hillary is just another bought-and-paid-for political hack, that has her carpetbags always packed, ready for that next opportune moment.

Thankfully, that moment will not be in 2008.

Greg Bacon

Ava, MO

Jun 9 2008 - 7:23am

Web Letter

As someone who has been a student of feminism (or womanism) and who has championed the transformations that it has brought about, I have found it interesting how Hillary Rodham Clinton has hijacked feminism--or the women's movement--with the help of a large number of major feminist figures. I have also been stunned at the kind of anger she has been able to stir in mainly middle-class women, many of whom disparage feminism, against her fellow senator and candidate Barack Obama.

For this so-called progressive, Senator Clinton’s whole campaign has been a source of confusion and frustration, particularly when one considers that she was crudely and insensitively pandering to working-class and middle-class white men, as well as consistently banking on her role as a former President's wife.

Clinton's campaign was not founded on some principled dedication to the politics of "sexual difference"; it had always been an exercise in late-twentieth- and early-twenty-first-century American politics of divide and conquer.

Clinton continued strategies unleashed during the sixties and seventies by the likes of Richard Nixon (e.g., the Republican "Southern Strategy") and George C. Wallace (Dixiecrat racial "bait and switch), strategies continued by such humanitarians as Ronald Reagan, Lee Atwater, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. Clinton’s refinement on those strategies is that she added to the crass manipulation of class and race the crass manipulation of gender.

In that light, one can agree with Katha Pollitt’s thesis: Clinton has broken boundaries. However, the boundaries broken might not be the anticipated ones. Clinton has proved that a woman, too, can abuse women (and everyone else) for power.

I know that there are better women out there. And just as an admittedly imperfect Barack Obama did, at least one will seemingly materialize out of nowhere and shock the status quo with her meteoric emergence.

Ben G. Lanier-Nabors

Brusly, LA

Jun 8 2008 - 9:56pm

Web Letter

After reading this article, one could be forgiven for thinking Katha Pollitt actually supported Senator Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House. She did not.

Instead of supporting the smartest, toughest, most experienced, and, yes, the most liberal candidate with the best chance of winning in November (see Neil DeGrassse Tyson's 6/6/08 New York Times editorial, "Vote by Numbers"), she backed the candidate with a résumé the size of a Post-It. She thanks Senator Clinton for being the target of the most concentrated sexist attacks against one woman in recent memory, without acknowledging how that sexism benefited her candidate.

As far as I'm concerned Ms. Pollitt has lost all credibility in remarking on women's lives.

Renee Mittler

New York, NY

Jun 8 2008 - 5:20pm