If feminists get criticism for anything, it’s that they should just get over it. They can vote. They can own property. They work and raise kids and some have even stopped shaving their legs. Enough already.
It’s easy to forget that writers and activists like Gloria Steinem have worked for years to bring the discussion of gender issues into the public forum and into stories covered by the media. Gender is clearly still an issue interwoven with power dynamics and politics and is abundantly evident in stories chronicling the U.S. presidential race. Gender and race are the consistent topics broached by journalists, and have come to define the race for a Democratic candidate.
Steinem penned an op-ed last month about the troubling aspects of gender, and how its intricacies are different than the intricacies of race:
“But what worries me is that (Obama) is seen as unifying by his race while (Clinton) is seen as divisive by her sex. What worries me is that she is accused of “playing the gender card” when citing the old boys’ club, while he is seen as unifying by citing civil rights confrontations. What worries me is that male Iowa voters were seen as gender-free when supporting their own, while female voters were seen as biased if they did and disloyal if they didn’t.”
Steinem’s piece does not denounce race as an essential subject of discussion and examination, but highlights the unfortunate fact that a woman running for one of the most powerful positions in the world is still contentious, divisive and deeply upsetting for many people. After all, there’s a group on Facebook called “Hillary Clinton: Stop Running for President and Make Me a Sandwich.”
It might be tiring hearing about gender issues on page A2 every morning, if the paper you read broaches the subject. But those stories should continue to appear, until a female candidate in presidential politics is no longer worthy of intense scrutiny because of the reproductive organs she possesses and those who choose to vote for her aren’t scrutinized for making a gendered choice.