January 10, 2008

what you feel v. how you vote

I was 10 when Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992, and I still remember how mean people were to Hillary. That's how I experienced it, too: people being mean. People hated her hair, her clothes, her make-up, her last name - she couldn't be feminine enough, she wasn't enough of a woman. The same flak continued right through the 90s, with the extra dose of hatred because she didn't leave Bill: now she wasn't enough of a feminist, or she was nakedly careerist. The media-fueled hatred comes straight out of the inability to categorize her as either a super-feminine woman or an ultra-feminist hard-ass. She's a gender-bender, in a very broad sense, and it makes people uncomfortable.

All of this makes how you feel about a candidate a particularly unreliable guide to non-sexist (or non-racist for that matter) voting. All this is part of why I ignored non-policy issues at the beginning of the campaign: I think most of the way people evaluate character and electability is through their own feelings about the candidate, and that seems both unreliable and really vulnerable to bias.

I'm still not voting for Clinton, on policy and judgment grounds, and also with some concern for the kind of support she would have. But I have no sympathy for the "I just don't like her" argument. Shame so many people do.

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