International Women’s Day

Aside from Wyoming primary day, today was International Women’s Day.

Anne Lewis of the Hillary Clinton Campaign:

Women’s History Month is a time to reflect on the progress that women have made in our country, and also recognize that the journey is not over,” said Hillary Clinton. “During this campaign, I have renewed my commitment to addressing challenges that women and families face across the country. I am honored to have support from so many women in this election, and I will continue to work hard for their votes.”

As a lawyer, advocate, First Lady, and senator, Hillary has fought for issues important to women here at home and around the world for decades. Hillary’s historic statement at the United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 that “women’s rights are human rights” still echoes worldwide. As Senator, she enacted legislation to designate the Kate Mullany House, home to one of America’s first women labor leaders, a National Historic Site and introduced legislation to create a Women’s History Trail in upstate New York, home of the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, the launching site of the 72-year struggle for women’s suffrage.

Anna Quindlen reflects on The Double Standard as she recalls years not so gone by:

I’ve been flashing back to that episode the last few months, considering how, even with the best intentions, male is still the universal default setting. Here’s the drumbeat—Hillary Rodham Clinton is a strange test case for a what-if we women have been rehearsing for decades. What would be the chances that the most significant run for the presidency by a woman would be made by someone with more baggage than a ball team headed to an away game: a former First Lady, married to one of the most polarizing political figures in modern American history, who had suffered the public humiliation of his sexual perfidy? What would be the chances that she would survive all that to enter the Senate, then to mount what all believed would be a cakewalk to the Democratic nomination, only to be parried, not by the right wing or entrenched bigotry but by youth and eloquence and a colleague who symbolized a newer new America than she did?

But just because all this makes it difficult to parse the double standard surrounding Senator Clinton’s candidacy doesn’t mean the double standard no longer exists, or shouldn’t be acknowledged. There may be many reasons apart from her gender—past, positions, personality—that have led people to turn away. But there has also been an inescapable undercurrent of bias. It’s summed up in the word “calculating,” which is often used to describe the senator in as witchy a way possible. There is no male politico equivalent for “calculating,” except perhaps “business as usual.”

Consider the guys who yelled “Iron my shirts!” at a Clinton event in New Hampshire. The point wasn’t the yahoos with the Neanderthal mantra; it was that their jeers got little coverage. If someone at an Obama rally had called out a similar remark based on racial bigotry—”Shine my shoes,” perhaps—not only would it have been a story, it would have run on page one.

And there was that moment when someone asked Sen. John McCain, “How are we going to beat the bitch?” McCain may be the father of daughters, but to his shame, he did not protest. Even the prototypical new man, Senator Obama, had his moments, accusing Senator Clinton of attacking him “when she’s feeling down,” making opposition sound like shoe shopping. Imagine Obama using that turn of phrase against McCain. You just can’t. [snip]

But Senator Clinton has not only had to prove she is strong enough to be commander in chief, she has had to prove she is soft enough to feel your pain. For a man in a position of leadership to be sure and sympathetic is a bonus; for a woman it’s base line. When Michelle Obama talked of how she had taken to the campaign trail and left her two girls in the care of their grandmother it was seen as praiseworthy, a woman helping her husband realize his dreams. But if Michelle Obama were away from her children pursuing her own political ambitions, I can guarantee a spate of articles about whether that was bad for the kids. [snip]

Exemplary husband, perfect kids, no negatives—I guess you could argue that the double standard guarantees that female candidates are stellar since they are required to be all things to all people. It was a woman politician, the mayor of Ottawa, who is responsible for one of the most notable quotes about this: “Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily this is not difficult.” It may be an era of change, but Charlotte Whitton’s 1963 comment still rings true. I’ve just always thought she was a little too sanguine about the math.

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Off topic, but we really like this video (via noquarterusa and in the comments):