Thursday, December 11, 2008

Yes I Can, Honey Bunch

First, check out the picture.

You will of course recognize the secretary of state-designate. You may not recognize the young man pretending to feel her up. That's Jon Favreau.

No, not the one who acts sort of like that in the new movie "Four Christmases." The one who wrote in his boss Sen. Obama's campaign speeches about grasping for a better world, seizing control of our future, discovering deep within our breast as a people the capacity to change.

He's a poet but doesn't show it. He's 27, so you make allowances, especially since it's just a girl.

What did our future chief diplomat say when asked about this violation of her cardboard space? She was diplomatic, and classy. Her spokesman:
Senator Clinton is pleased to learn of Jon’s obvious interest in the State Department, and is currently reviewing his application.
Her husband's former press aide, Dee Dee Myers, was not required to be so circumspect:

At what point does sexist behavior get taken seriously? At what point do people get punished in ways that suggest this kind of behavior, this kind of thinking, is unacceptable? At what point do we insist there will be consequences? Clearly, that didn’t happen during the recent presidential campaign, when Hillary was—as I guess she is now—fair game. The press, the pundits, and the public could say things about her (“She’s a shrew!”) and to her (“Iron my shirt!) that were over-the-top sexist—yet got almost no reaction.

Imagine how different the reaction would be if an important aide to John McCain had been caught in similar picture featuring Michelle Obama? Or if the picture had shown a cutout of Barack Obama and, say, a white hood? Why is it when ideology and race are eliminated, so is the outrage?

Why indeed? In my church, riven by an argument about gay and lesbian people, we find that the more basic unresolved question is about the ontological and theological status of women, whom a new schismatic organization, "the Anglican Church in North America," says can't even be bishops, what with men bishops doing such a great job keeping everyone in communion.

The same dynamic is present in our politics and the media. Anchorpeople and pundits are already composing their Faveauvean odes and tone poems for Jan. 20, the historic and much-to-be-welcomed day that an African-American becomes President. And yet how extraordinary that during the primaries Timothy Noah got away with writing:
The Clinton campaign has gotten a lot of white women jazzed up at the prospect of electing the first female president, and a good number stayed jazzed up even after it became apparent that Clinton almost certainly wouldn’t get the nomination. By this past weekend, however, it was becoming clear to all but the most delusional Hillary supporters that the game was up. Sisterhood was powerful, but in this case it wouldn’t prevail. That realization left a lot of white women all dolled up with nowhere to go. And so … they went to ["Sex and the City" in enormous numbers].
Substitute blacks for white women and an Eddie Murphy movie for "Sex and the City," and you even better understand Myers' point. If Noah had written something like that about Obama's supporters, these days he'd be...well, writing on his own Google blog instead of at "Slate."

Deepset fear, suspicion, and devaluing of woman, juvenile sexuality pervading our culture, misogynist theological arguments keeping women down in our churches -- we've got a really, really long way to go, baby. Defeating racism may end up to have been relatively simple.

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