Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

July 31, 2004

by J

Isn't Having the Vote Enough?

Someone over at Kos attempts to pick apart Teresa Heinz Kerry's speech. Here's one part of the critique that absolutely floored me:
Then there's the defensive 'don't call me a bitch' bit. Now, I totally agree with her, here. Let me say it again, and in italics: I totally agree with her. Women with opinions are no more opinionated than men with opinions, and the language our culture uses to describe them is awful, demeaning, and vicious. It's not just discriminatory, it's misogynistic, and someone should call us on it. But at the convention? It's more profoundly negative than attacking the opposition; it's the wrong place to put the attention. She does try to turn it into a general pro-equality "hear women's voices" bit, but it doesn't quite work.
Now, let's look at what she actually said:
I have a very personal feeling about how special America is, and I know how precious freedom is. It is a sacred gift, sanctified by those who have lived it and those who have died defending it. My right to speak my mind, to have a voice, to be what some have called "opinionated," is a right I deeply and profoundly cherish. My only hope is that, one day soon, women--who have all earned the right to their opinions--instead of being labeled opinionated, will be called smart or well-informed, just as men are.
And this is supposed to be "negative"? What? And what does he mean by "it doesn't quite work." It worked just fine from my perspective. But, I guess this basic principle of equality is something that should not be mentioned at the Democratic party convention? *rubs knuckles in eyes* Am I really reading what I think I'm reading? I responded in the thread and said:

If not at the convention, then, by god, where?

If the wife of the presumptive nominee, in a year after a decade where the Democratic first lady was incessantly vilified, and when the party in power exudes reactionary misogyny, is not the right person to call out the latent, unremitting sexism in our culture, then, by god, who could do it? If not now, when? If not at the convention, then where? She didn't become "hysterical" or hammer the point for a half dozen paragraphs -- she simply called out those in the media and among politicians who implicitly demean women and pointed out the rampant double-standard.

It is tiring to constantly see women's issues pushed aside - here, in the 'blogosphere' in general, and even among 'progressive' Democrats. It was entirely appropriate for Teresa to point out that we still have a long way to go.

If not her, who?
Posted by J at July 31, 2004 10:14 PM
Comments

I thought she gave a fabulous speech. One of the best, and certainly most underrated, of the covention. A strong, confident, intelligent person who is unafraid to stand up for what she believes should be an inspiration to both men and women. It certainly was to both my wife and me.

As for the political appropriateness of it all, I think the writer's closeted attitude is extremely short sighted. Laura Bush's Stepford Wife image (which I guess the writer would think is more appropriate) has done less than nothing to help Bush close his gender gap among women voters.

By contrast, Teresa Kerry's speech should be played to every soccer mom in America. She projects a positive, participatory role for women in modern America that will do wonders for her husband's prospects with the suburban vote.

Posted by: Night Owl at August 1, 2004 12:50 PM

When ny granddaughter was in grade school one if her teachers said she was "bossy". If a boy had behaved in the same way, the teacher would have said he "shows leadership qualities".

Posted by: John Wendt at August 3, 2004 12:45 PM

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