Hillary Clinton And The Scourge Of Corporate Feminism

Nice piece in this week's issue of The Nation by Betsy Reed. Betsy was the first New York editor I ever talked to when I was starting to freelance, so it's an honor to be writing in the issue where she has the cover. Here's her take on Clinton ducking behind the cover of feminism:

The sexist attacks on Clinton are outrageous and deplorable, but there's reason to be concerned about her becoming the vehicle for a feminist reawakening. For one thing, feminist sympathy for her has begotten an "oppression sweepstakes" in which a number of her prominent supporters, dismayed at her upstaging by Obama, have declared a contest between racial and gender bias and named sexism the greater scourge. This maneuver is not only unhelpful for coalition-building but obstructs understanding of how sexism and racism have played out in this election in different (and interrelated) ways.

Yet what is most troubling--and what has the most serious implications for the feminist movement--is that the Clinton campaign has used her rival's race against him. In the name of demonstrating her superior "electability," she and her surrogates have invoked the racist and sexist playbook of the right--in which swaggering macho cowboys are entrusted to defend the country--seeking to define Obama as too black, too foreign, too different to be President at a moment of high anxiety about national security. This subtly but distinctly racialized political strategy did not create the media feeding frenzy around the Rev. Jeremiah Wright that is now weighing Obama down, but it has positioned Clinton to take advantage of the opportunities the controversy has presented. And the Clinton campaign's use of this strategy has many nonwhite and nonmainstream feminists crying foul.

Betsy goes on to take on the "A Woman In The White House At All Costs" strategy that she's emerging from corporate feminism. As a guy who's long felt that civil rights-era black leadership has lost the moral high ground, I get where she's coming from. My man Jelani Cobb analyzed this in the Post a few months back when he pointed out how the civil rights crowd has thrown as many monkey wrenches as possible at Obama. What I see here is a generational struggle that cuts across ideology. There's a whole group of older, bitter and angry folks who comprise the Democratic coalition who need to just have a seat.