The Feminist Hammer Keeps on Tapping

June 9, 2008

Rebecca Traister’s most recent blog on Salon.com certainly made me stop for a second. I nearly threw up my hands in dismay and prepared myself to write a loathing review of her words. In fact, I made that snap decision only about half way through the article itself. I’m glad I had the self control to finish what I’d started and that I didn’t run right off to vent through my keyboard. She actually had some (and I mean “some” literally) good points.

The first portion of her blog is rather inflammatory in my opinion, and I rather took umbrage at her opening paragraphs. They seemed unnecessarily harsh and they seemed to use the language that each and every single journalist I have loathed for their political coverage of the women taking part in the 2008 presidential campaign – candidates and candidates’ wives together. It was blunt; it was infuriating; I wanted to throw things at it. As I try not to regularly throw things at my computer, I settled for seething on my couch instead.

I kept reading. I tried to give Ms. Traister the benefit of the doubt. After all, we don’t all support the same candidate. But what I couldn’t understand was that this woman claimed to be a Hillary supporter – or at least claimed that she had voted for her and voted for her because of legitimate reasons, not just because she was a woman. And I’m glad I continued. Though her elucidation on the subject remained rather caustic in my opinion, she came back around towards the end and remembered that Sen. Clinton is a woman making history with every election-step she takes. Her speech on Saturday was moving and powerful, and while she amply took the opportunity to throw her support wholeheartedly behind Sen. Obama, she also remembered to pat not only herself on the back but all the women who have stood before her and behind her on this history changing campaign. She remembered the octogenarians who were born before women had the right to vote in America. She remembered the young women she inspired and the children whose parents brought them to rallies and were reminded that they could be anything they wanted to be when they grew up.

My personal favorite moments: the 18,000,000 cracks in the glass ceiling; and the story about the old woman who cast her absentee ballot from her hospice bed and passed away. Her vote couldn’t be counted because she was no longer living so her husband, who hadn’t voted in 40+ years, went to the primary and voted for Sen. Clinton in his wife’s memory.

There’s no way around the fact that Sen. Clinton has become a polarizing figure in American politics. To me, she will always be the first woman to successfully run a major, nationwide, campaign for the highest office in the land. She will always be the woman who was derided for standing by her husband in the face of national scrutiny of an affair. She will always be the woman who spoke her mind and relentlessly pursued her goals – traits men would be praised for, she was ridiculed and called a ball-buster or fake. Whether Sen. Obama or Sen. McCain win the White House in November, this has been a historical primary season and Sen. Clinton has been one of the pivotal pieces of making it historic.

That was the final point I decided to take from Rebecca Traister’s blog earlier tonight. I decided to stare past what I found offensive and ugly and see the over-arching message I desperately wanted to see in an article that claimed to see the feminist hammer knocking on the glass wall between women across the country and the Oval Office.

-Rachael Berkey

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