Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Politics of PMS

A Hillary Clinton presidency would not be a feminist victory because of the unique (Bill) situation of her candidacy. Agreed. This is the fundamental problem with her as a candidate. It is hard to believe that of all the women in America, one who happens to be married to a popular ex-president just happens to be the most qualified to run herself.

On Super Tuesday, at a café near campus, two black women--the demographic whose leanings everyone was talking about--were discussing Obama versus Clinton. (I realize as I type how odd it seems to identify these two individuals as "black," yet how natural it feels to mention their gender. But more on that later.) One woman was explaining to the other about how a male friend told her Clinton couldn't be president because you don't want the president having PMS. The woman telling the story felt she had to agree with this sexist-sounding remark. Really, who wants a president PMS-ing at an important meeting with other world leaders? Both women seemed to find the idea of a president with PMS quite amusing. Whatever small truth there is to PMS affecting a woman's behavior, surely a joke based on some minute statistical difference between blacks and whites would not be told so enthusiastically in a Greenwich Village café. (PC-era child that I am, I'd be just fine with hearing neither.) So what's going on?

Either, as I've suggested before, gender still matters far more than race. Few fantasize about an America where gender differences don't matter; the proponents of gender-neutral pronouns and toilets remain the small minority. To refer to a person's race when mentioning this person, when the race is not relevant to the conversation, is considered racist. To mention 'this woman I know' or 'this guy I've been seeing' is not considered sexist. (I would venture to guess that even those few who do consider gendered pronouns sexist accept their use in day-to-day conversation.)

The other possibility is that we've gotten past gender, and it's such a given that a woman can hold a position of power that it's now OK to mock women, the way it's OK to mock both WASPs and 'ethnic' whites. The more protected a group is from mockery, the worse shape it's in.

6 comments:

Jennifer said...

Oh, PMS-ing presidents. The likelihood that a female president/presidential candidate would even still be menstruating is quite low.

Phoebe said...

I thought of this as well, but it seemed too personal to think about wrt HRC. (shudder).

Anonymous said...

McCain, on the other hand...

Phoebe said...

The danger with him is that he might try to send back soup at a deli.

The End of Motherhood? said...

Gotten past gender? With 16 women out of 100 in the Senate. 79 our of 435 in the house? I don't think so.

Harvey Devarim said...

Yawn. Pathetic.

Post menopausal women can be as erratic as women who are menstruating. However, they know the condition will go away. What do you with a psycho like mcbane who is notorious for being perpetually on a short fuse?