Gender, Race and Politics

Monday, May 19, 2008

I appreciated Marie Cocco's May 15 piece detailing the unchallenged sexism of media coverage of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton ["Misogyny I Won't Miss," op-ed]. As a longtime supporter of Sen. John McCain, I don't back either Ms. Clinton or Sen. Barack Obama, but I have been appalled by the sexist comments proffered by cable news media when discussing Ms. Clinton. These same media are quick to pounce on any comment that is even remotely racist, but their own belittling or demeaning comments inspired by the gender of the candidate rarely garner rebukes.

KATE MARTINS

Annandale

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Oh, c'mon. Hatred of women is "accepted as a part of our culture"? And that's because the media sometimes pick on Hillary Rodham Clinton?

That sort of feminist rant is typical of those who can't accept that Ms. Clinton has lost, like any politician, because the electorate has decided that it simply does not want her as president. The substantial political baggage from the seamy days of both Ms. Clinton and her husband in the White House notwithstanding, she's done pretty well in this race.

Whether or not Marie Cocco knows it, Barack Obama has received no end of ridicule, hate postings and death threats in the blogosphere because of his race. And John McCain seems fair game for late-night talk shows that ridicule his age, suggesting creeping dementia.

The ridicule of Ms. Clinton that Ms. Cocco specifically cited doesn't rise to the level of "hatred." It's absurd to extrapolate that perception of her to the general population, which, incidentally, is majority female.

Too many women who fail in business or politics fall back on excuses, generally centered on the "patriarchy" instead of their own shortcomings. When such women stop whining, maybe we'll find one who can go the distance to the White House. But it won't be Hillary Clinton, the mistress of victimhood.

BRIAN T. PETTY

Washington

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You know what I will not miss after Hillary Rodham Clinton recedes from the Democratic presidential nominating process? A highly capable, aggressive, outspoken, often divisive candidate being treated like any other such candidate (even -- gasp -- being ridiculed!) but, when she is, being told it must be because she's a woman.

And I will not miss watching folks who claim to want nothing more than equality among men and women in politics falling back on old canards of sexism when outcomes do not go their way.

Politics is an often brutal contact sport, for both men and women.

Welcome to equality.

STUART GOTTLIEB

New York

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I agree with Marie Cocco on all points, but I think she missed the biggest point. It's not misogyny that sunk Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign, unless you mean her own assumption that she would have to play dirty, like the boys, to win and that she couldn't win if she played nice, like the girls.

I'm a 56-year-old lifelong feminist, and I started out very excited about HRC's candidacy. It was the dozens of times she took the low road, the dozens of times she stabbed me in the heart using plays right out of Karl Rove's playbook, the shameless twisting of the truth, the times she hinted that she'd prefer Republican John McCain to Barack Obama for president, that turned my stomach and my vote. And finally the last straw: copying Mr. McCain's call for a gas tax holiday -- pointless pandering that I expect from Republicans but not from someone as smart as Ms. Clinton.

No, she shot herself in the foot with many people who really wanted to support her. She had a chance to run a different campaign, to show the boys how to do it better, and yet she left that high road to Mr. Obama. She has no one to blame for that but herself.

KATHLEEN E. DUFFY

Fort Myers Beach, Fla.

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I read with heartache the May 13 front-page story "Racism Incidents Give Some Obama Campaigners Pause." As a supporter of Barack Obama, I canvassed on two weekends in Pennsylvania, the first to register voters, the second to knock on doors in Delaware County days before the primary. I encountered no hostility. On the contrary, most people were grateful, polite, thoughtful and receptive.

I hope that the article did not give the impression that registering voters for Mr. Obama is a negative experience. Nothing could be further from the truth. My only sadness is looking back on the young African American woman who asked me, "How much does it cost?"

STEPHANIE MANSFIELD

Alexandria

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Hillary Rodham Clinton's 41-point blowout win in West Virginia shows that she's the stronger candidate in terms of electability in the general election. No Democrat has won the White House without winning West Virginia since 1916. Her win in West Virginia also shows her diverse coalition of supporters: working-class voters, middle-class voters, rural voters, women and seniors. Barack Obama may be the media darling, but Hillary Clinton is the voter darling.

CAROLLYNE HUTTER

Silver Spring

The writer does occasional volunteer work for Hillary Clinton.

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