Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Being Hillary

I must add this note before I post this link to my column in The Hindu on Hillary Clinton. I got a huge response from readers, most of it positive but some of it viciously negative. One reader called Hillary a "bitch" and me a "misandrist". Another suggested that I should stop writing altogether because all I did was write from the perspective of women -- he's probably missed the point that my column in The Hindu is precisely that, a comment from a gender perspective. Some of them said I was ill-informed, that my comments were not factual, that they were biased etc. Somehow the fact that I had tried to separate the personalities of Obama and Hillary Clinton from the way the media handled the race was missed and I was seen as being narrowly partisan. While I expect as a columnist to provoke reactions, I am intrigued at the columns that do bring forth such extreme reactions. I find it even more fascinating that a race in a country where none of us can vote can trigger off such passions. On my part, while I do not celebrate that Hillary lost, I do think it is a historic moment for the US that Obama is the candidate. If he wins, and he should, it will be something the world will celebrate.


The Hindu, Sunday Magazine, June 15

The Other Half

Hillary Clinton is now off the front pages. But she is still simmering on the back burner. The woman who would be President of the United States of America, by any measure the most powerful job in the world, is not going to slink away into anonymity. Someone who managed to get 18 million voters to support her attempt to claim the nomination of the Democratic Party is not a person you can brush off lightly. She has proved that she is someone to be reckoned with, to be taken seriously.

Yet, despite her determined and tireless campaign over seven months, there were many in the US who refused to take her seriously. Or rather they tried to ensure that no one would take her seriously by concentrating their criticism of her on things that have no relevance when it comes to holding political office. TV anchors mimicked her laugh or cackle as they called it --, spoofed her dress sense, railed against her for acting tough, chastised her if she showed any emotion, and made the most
unmentionable personal comments and jokes about her. If anything like this had been said about the presumptive Democratic nominee for President, Barack Obama, all hell would have broken loose. In the land of political correctness, you cannot make jokes about colour or about religion. But apparently women are fair game, particularly women who dare to enter an arena that has historically been the exclusive reserve of men.

One can find many faults with Hillary Clinton, as one can with Barack Obama. But these criticisms should be centred on the policies they advocate, the positions they have taken or not taken, their inconsistency, their lack of experience, their ethics, their world view. But surely in a race that is for the highest office, neither should have to face cheap personal attacks of the kind Hillary Clinton faced at the hands of America's "free" press.

Which brings us to the central question that must be asked now that the dust has settled: Is America ready to have a woman as President? Yes, if one counts the popular vote for Hillary Clinton that matched the votes that Obama managed to
get. No, if you read some of the writing and watch some of the television comments made about Hillary. All of them were personal. All of them were in bad taste. And all of them were anti-women.

(To read the rest of the article, click on the link above)

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