September 4, 2008
The question has been asked on television news, commentary programs, talk radio and at the office water cooler. Does John McCain really think women in this country are stupid enough to vote for him just because his running mate is a woman?
When I first heard the news that McCain’s choice was made and freshman Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin was on his ticket, I experienced a burst of excitement. Gloria Steinem had said that men of all races will make history before women, and in this case the history was to be made by Democratic nominee Barack Obama, a black man. He’ll be the first black man to become president. Sorry ladies, you’ll have to wait your turn.
I’m not usually the kind of person who follows authority blindly, but it was the Gloria Steinem who had said it. Men will achieve historic milestones in each category before women. I felt a stab of injustice. I fumed and cried for the 80- and 90-year-old women out there who were hoping to see Hillary Clinton assume the presidency, meaning that herstory had been made when this country elected a woman to our highest executive office.
Sarah Palin. Who is that? I didn’t know her from Eve, but suddenly her name sounded really powerful. Maybe she would prove Steinem wrong and pass an historical landmark before a black man had become either president or vice president. Sarah Palin. How bad could she be?
Obama never told us why he didn’t consider Clinton as his running mate. I had thought her the most logical choice. She came in a close second in the primary. She’d been a gracious loser, throwing her support behind Obama. She has some diehard fans. Shouldn’t these qualities make her the runner up for the job, a heartbeat away from the big button? Hey! I demand to know why she wasn’t even considered!
But it’s not my choice. It’s up to the man who won the primary race. And apparently he doesn’t care if roughly 20 percent of Clinton’s voters have pledged to give their votes to McCain.
And now with this Palin upset… People are asking: Are liberal women stupid enough to vote for McCain/Palin just because Palin is a woman?
It’s the wrong question. The correct question is: Are liberal women angry enough to vote Republican?
I’m not stupid and neither are the ladies from the Rutgers University Women’s Studies department who were quoted in last weekend’s New York Times as saying they would write in Clinton’s name when the time comes. It’s not a rational, intellectual reaction that makes us think of betraying party loyalty, it’s an emotional one.
Several weeks ago, I blogged about crying at work. I got a nasty response from somebody out there in the blogosphere telling me that I must be totally insane to cry over a hurtful, misdirected email – somebody emailed me something negative about me instead of sending it to the appropriate (?) person. I should have posted the comment under the essay…but I had an emotional reaction to it and, just like when I cried at work, I acted hastily. I deleted the comment.
My emotions aren’t wrong or bad, but they often make life a bit difficult. Emotional people are the ones who give you the finger if you cut them off in traffic. Emotional people get scared at scary movies and huddle up to the person in the seat next to them. Emotional people take in stray animals. We donate blood. We’re always available to give you a hug. We’re not terrible people…we’re emotional.
Once I saw a woman weeping on a bench in the New York City subway system. I recognized her as a fellow emoter immediately. I thought that perhaps she’d just lost her 12 year-old Labrador Retriever. Maybe, she’d dropped all of her money irrevocably onto the subway tracks. Could it be that her tears were the result of too small underwear wedging into her ass crack? There was just no way to tell.
I wanted to go over to her and lay a hand on her shoulder. I wanted to tell her that everything was going to be okay. But because she was crying – for whatever reason – I couldn’t do it. Once emotional, always emotional. If she’s a crier, won’t she be a screamer too? This was New York City. If I offered her sympathy, would I be rewarded with a smack?
Emotion can get a bit unruly, but it’s also fleeting. My knee-jerk reaction to Palin’s nomination was enthusiasm. But I’m all for abortion rights, gay marriage and green initiatives. Palin is completely against abortion under any circumstances. She’s absolutely certain that the only viable “marriage” equation consists of one man and one woman. And she thinks global warming is the process by which flight attendants heat meals on an airplane.
I may have considered voting for McCain during the emotional haze that followed the Palin announcement. But when I do think about those issues, among others, I know that I will not vote Republican. That’s not to say that my Obama vote is etched in stone, however. Remember, I’m emotional. If Obama says or does anything disrespectful to Clinton or to female Democrats in the days just before the election, he’s risking another emotional outburst from us scorned women.
We’re not stupid. We’re just emotional. And emotion isn’t bad or wrong, it’s just impulsive.
The right thing would have been to offer assistance to the crying woman in the subway. I should have braved it. The wrong thing would have been to avoid even considering such a gesture.