Sunday, January 13, 2008
Gender Does Not Trump Race
By now we've all read (or heard about) the Ny Times Op Ed piece written by Gloria Steinem on why Obama had a lead in the New Hampshire polls (she didn't have much to say after Clinton won). Alternet.org jumped into the fray with their article Gloria Steinem Debates Racism and Sexism in the '08 Election. In the comments section of the article a poster leaves this comment:
I have to say that I find self serving this comment made by Steinem
"That's why the Iowa primary was following our historical pattern of making change. Black men were given the vote a half-century before women of any race were allowed to mark a ballot, and generally have ascended to positions of power, from the military to the boardroom, before any women (with the possible exception of obedient family members in the latter). "
The reality which a great many white feminists ignore is that white women have more money, power, and access to the institutions of society than any color of man.
The hierarchy of power in this country looks like this..
white men, white women...men of all colors...women of all colors
White men..the true holders of all reigns of power have always been more allied to white women that ANY color of man.
Within each group and for the society at large the patriarchy prevails but the reality is that white women have had greater access to power and rescources both as a group and through their association with white men.
The primary beneficiaries of post 60s redistributive programs have not been black men but white women.
There are currently 16 female Senators..all white. There is 1 Black senator. Guess who that is?
Of the fortune 500 there are 13 women...again all white. There are 4 black CEOS.
Even when you control for the population bias the facts dont bear out her assertions. Particularly interesting is the result when you combine race and gener..and there are zero non white women in either category.
In terms of the vote lets not forget that during the suffrage movement white women gained the vote before black women by promising to white men..their staunchest and most reliable allies..that white women would help them maintain the color barrier in the south.
Steinem like many white feminists wishes to live in a paradign of oppression which largely ignores the reality that while women are oppressed by the patriarchy...WHITE women maintain more privilege than any other group in the nation except white men.
Creating a self serving in- between category where they can be oppressed as a woman while demanding that people not look too closely at the details of their privilege. Details which illuminate a picture where the ONLY people in the nation that are more priviliged are white men.
I suspect that Ms Stienem looked at what happened in Iowa and saw her candidate lose and saw gender as the reason. One wonders what she is saying after Mrs Clintons victory in New Hampshire.
Given the history of this nation should black people be writing op eds claiming that Barak didnt win because white folk arent ready?
That's what we call hitting the nail on the head. I've got nothing else to add. It never ceases to amaze me how White feminists never seem to talk about the intersection of race, gender and class in their discussion of "female oppression."
With White feminists the conversation always results in men vs. women but as a woman of color and any person of color can tell you, when it comes to discussing sexism, that's just where the conversation begins, not where it ends.