Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Perfect Political Woman: Coming Soon, Like Maybe 2012, or 2016

Amanda Fortini at NY Mag raises some valid points. While there has been much trumpeting about the progress for females in the wake of the campaigns by Hillary Clinton and VP nominee Sarah Palin, the end rewards have been muted at best.

Granted, in the realm of American politics, there's a measure of progress simply by seeing a couple women so prominently in the spotlight; it's not an unmitigated blessing. Amanda writes:

"In the grand Passion play that was this election, both Clinton and Palin came to represent—and, at times, reinforce—two of the most pernicious stereotypes that are applied to women: the bitch and the ditz.

What I don't think she satisfactorily conveys, however, is how those archetypal female stereotype boxes may simply add up as part of the cost of losing. Which is to say, if Obama lost he'd be a lot more like an Inaccessible Elitist Bougie Negro stereotype than he is now.

But because he won, because he was an individual who brazenly defied those characterizations, such an assessment sounds as silly as it should.

So while Fortini's closing sentiment, "Many will say we’ve come a long way this year. The truth is we have a long way to go." -- is true, it's also shortsighted. It doesn't accomodate a perspective that appreciates how much ground one perfect political candidate can cover.

This is part of the largesse of Obama's legacy. We may have wondered how much a Black president mattered, and then we saw it mattered so much more than we could imagine, and not just in our nation's borders, but around the globe.

We couldn't exactly predict the overwhelming magnitude of The Big O's appeal. His perfectness. Sure you can speculate and rationally deconstruct a perfect multi-racial presidential candidate, and it would be Obama. But he's special because he played the game perfect. Every misstep was anticipated, every major mistake avoided. He threw a perfect game, against a substandard opponent and it resulted in a landslide.

So yeah, Hillary and Palin proved to be flawed, and maybe the media will transform those flaws into caricature. But all women need to find is their Super Woman to show how long distances can be leaped in a single bound.

How The Year of the Woman Actually Set Women Back [NY Mag]

perfect woman van
perfect man


  1. Anonymous11/18/2008

    Hey, I think we may have not been ready for women. Even though it was very much possible for Hillary Clinton to have made it through the primary into the general election to win, the media was feeling her. They weren't feeling Sarah Palin her either. Originally, I thought that it was just because of these women and there were much better ones out there. However, after a while I noticed that it was just about putting them to boxes regardless of their accomplishments or failures. It even extended to the first ladies (Michelle Obama was more outspoken in the beginning of the campaign) America can't imagine itself with a female president. In a sense, Obama had it easier because although he was black, he was half-black, plus youthful change candidates are not new. Bill Clinton was one, JFK was one too. He had to follow the past models but he added new twist by having some color. Sucks to be a woman this year. But at least we made one small step with African-Americans.


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