There's a new book out about Hillary Clinton, Thirty Ways Of Looking At Hillary: Reflections By Women Writers. Susan Faludi reviews the book here. I had no intention of reading this book, and now that I've read Faludi's review of it, I'm feeling like my instincts were right.
This Faludi quote sums up why I'm avoiding this book:
Reading through these pages, I wished for a companion volume, Thirty Ways of Looking at Women Looking at Hillary, which answered this question: Why do so many of these women writers—who have shown themselves to be graceful essayists and well-reasoned analysts in other contexts—resort to unfactual and illogical thinking and, in many cases, downright 13-year-old cattiness when the topic is Hillary?
When I first saw the title of the book, I thought - "hrm, I'm guessing these are mostly personal opinion pieces, but I wonder what it would actually be like to look at someone 30 different ways."
Mother, Sister, Cousin, Friend, Co-Worker, Activist, etc. On a basic level, the title alone reminds me of the fact that we can all be perceived differently by the variety of people who know us. It got me thinking about how I perceive my mother, sisters, friends, etc.
But Faludi makes a great point that I'd like us to think about and discuss a bit -
But reading this book, I began to wonder if these women’s problem with Clinton also has to do with mom—and a mom’s lack of power.
Faludi goes on to talk about female figures and the conflict of motherhood and power and she comes to this thought-provoking suggestion (not the first time we've come across this thought, not even here in Feminisms, but I thought she put it pretty plainly):
If any female demographic exerts force in American culture, it’s not moms, it’s girls—and it’s been that way since the possessed teens and ’tweens of the Salem witch trials were trotted out to attack the society’s independent matrons. The American girl’s power, of course, is limited, derived from powerful daddy sponsors, aimed typically at other women, especially those whose 30-years-old freshness date has expired. Grown women, so often without patriarchal backing, are out of luck—there’s no matriarchy to step in to offer wisdom and hand over the reins. We have no female establishment invested with the power to bestow authority, to pass clout from "mothers" to "daughters." The only clout comes from attacking mothers to establishment applause in the public square.
Reading this book, I’m reminded that we’re essentially a distaff nation of motherless daughters, who operate on a marriage metaphor of power. Only one woman gets the prize, and the others must be knocked out of the ring so that she alone can grab the ring. With no real foundation for female strength, the much-vaunted "sisterhood" is destined to degenerate into a Lady of the Flies scrum—with, in this case, Hillary as Piggy.
I'd prefer to try and have this conversation without discussing the primary race - I realize that makes things a bit difficult, but I'm wondering what your thoughts are on this - is the only way for women to gain power by bringing down or bashing other women?
Obviously power is something that is actively sought and taken (as opposed to being given), but are younger women then claiming power for themselves by knocking their own mothers as opposed to knocking men?
We've talked before about generational differences among Feminists - in a way I suppose this is a continuation of that discussion. I have to admit that I've thought quite a bit about how this kind of thing relates to the primary election and women voters. I diaried about women voters for Kossacks Under 35 last week and there do seem to be some generational differences among female voters and who they support. This isn't particularly shocking, but I do find some of the accusations flying each direction to be incredibly disappointing.
Anyway, tell me what you think - are women destined to this cycle or power-grabbing from one another? Is this a perceived cycle or a real one? etc.