EDIT: IF you are reading this for the first time, I should make clear at the outset that I am 100% FOR A FEMALE PRESIDENT; my diary is only a precaution about the fights we will face in the wake of that female presidency. I used the headline to catch your attention, and then warn about the brewing storm; unfortunately, some readers took the headline to heart and thought that meant I oppose the idea. Far from it. I didn't write this to suggest that these reasons should discourage us from voting for a woman, I wrote it to prepare us for the inevitable onslaught of propaganda and lies that a female president will face, using Obama's experiences as a primer. (End edit)
I've read many times now that our next president will be a woman, likely Hillary Clinton, but a woman in any case. Whether it’s a case of the GOP not having a better candidate (such as their current cast of unelectable candidates), whether they'll surprise us all and nominate an electable female in opposition to Clinton (i.e., not Palin, Bachmann et al.), or whether it’s a case of “We can't win the White House, so let's break down the last wall and finally be done with -isms,” I’ve read several accounts that predict we will have a female president in 2017.
While that should be a good thing, it worries me. Why? Because Obama. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) But seriously, I worry because of what has happened during Obama’s presidency, when his election supposedly broke down the wall of racism. It hasn’t been pretty. Not because of anything he has done, but because of the virulent reaction against him.
To be honest, I was amazed when Obama was elected. It seemed unreal, because we haven’t yet had that much-needed national dialogue about racism in America, and as Ferguson has shown us, we need it more now than ever. I didn’t think America was ready for a black president.
Well, many Americans weren’t ready, because racism has worsened since his election. The thinking appears to be, “Since we have a black president, we’ve reached a post-racial America, so we don’t have to be politically correct anymore.”
Personal anectdote: I overheard the following at my gym about the Ferguson tragedy, only he didn’t see it as a tragedy, he saw it as uppity blacks acting out: “What do they [blacks] want? They’re only 12% of the population, yet we’ve got a black president. What more do they want? Racism is over.”
Racism is over! Wow! Where was I? Did you all get the memo? I sure didn’t, but there it is. We have a black president, which means that racism is over … so … yay?
Since we passed the Civil Rights Act, some things for black America have certainly gotten better (while much has gotten worse): segregation has been outlawed (although white flight created a new kind of segregation); interracial marriage is legal and relatively accepted (if still abhorred by some in our society); and blacks are eligible to become anything any other person can become (although they don’t have anything close to the same opportunities to do so). Of course, some things flew under the radar for most of America: the Rockefeller drug laws/War on Drugs were systemically racist, the broken windows policies/profiling was undeniably racist, and the mass incarceration of blacks (http://newjimcrow.com/...) have shown us that racism just took a different but nonetheless legally-sanctioned route. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss....
We are far, FAR from a post-racial society. The ugly treatment Obama has received from Congress, the media, and our populace has been unprecedented in its undeniable hatred (“Liar!”,“he hates America,” “he’s not MY president,” art with him hanging by a noose and lynching references, etc.). The record growth of hate groups, of gun and ammunition sales, the insane stand-your-ground/open carry laws, etc. have shown that racism hasn’t gotten better, it's gotten worse, setting us back years. Plus, as bad as it’s been, I daresay the recent reactions to Ferguson have set us back even further. I can summarize its ugliness in five words: “It was a good kill.” Vulgar beyond belief.
Yet every time Obama even dares to discuss incidents that are clearly race-driven, he's called out for "using the race card." The most insulting Ferguson commentary is the RW's incessant "They're trying to make this about race!" They shut down any chance of a national dialogue about race by redefining the dialogue as racist! With that kind of logic, how long will it be until the RW says we're trying to make climate change about the environment?
And so Obama has rarely spoken out in defense of blacks, because the media makes it a no-win situation. It’s as if electing Obama gave racists a free pass to be as goddamn racist as they want to be, and there's nothing he can do about it.
There was an old saying, “Blacks have to be twice as good to get half as much.” When Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, he had to be the paragon of virtue on and off the field (back when the hijinks of “Ball Four” was reality). Robinson had to be unimpeachable in the face of great adversity. Anything less, and the racists would’ve pummeled him and the Dodgers for it. (They tried to pummel both, anyway.)
To date, Obama has been the paragon of a president on the job and off. Imagine if he had had George Bush’s alcohol or cocaine problems in his past – he wouldn’t have even made it to the White House, let alone survived two terms. Imagine if he had had Bill Clinton’s sexual history (do I really need to provide links for that one?), Obama might not have survived, period.
Instead, Obama has accomplished all he has (and yes, he has accomplished a great deal, even if many of us progressives see too many broken promises) with the most obstructionist Congress in history, a frightful Tea Party bent on undoing anything he's able to get done despite them, and a not insignificant part of the media and the general populace that promotes the various Kenyan/fascist/socialist/communist/atheist/Muslim/homo/space alien myths.
Which leads me to my headline, Why I Fear a Female President. Racism and sexism often go hand in hand. I believe sexism will get much worse under a female president, and there won't be a damn thing she can do about it.
Writer Fannie Hurst said something with a familiar ring to it: “A woman has to be twice as good as a man to go half as far.” Like Obama, a female president will have to be a paragon of virtue, civic duty, etc., and still she will be battled from the get-go (or, like Obama, before she even takes office); she will be belittled, pilloried, and — if the clowns in Congress gets their way — possibly face made-up impeachment charges to prove she's not up to the job.
For better or worse, we will enter the “post-feminism era.” (Well, let’s state the obvious — it’ll be for worse.) I can practically hear the man at the gym saying, “They have a female president. What more do they want? Feminism is over.” The Hobby Lobby decision is only a taste of the anti-women attacks I think we'll see under a female president. All legal rights and protections for women will be reviewed. In the same vein that the Supreme Court ruled affirmative action as unfair, I can see many current women’s rights laws be labeled “unfair,” and I can see the clowns in Congress try to rescind them. Not just federal laws, either — state laws and local laws will likely be challenged and gutted whenever and wherever possible, especially with mostly GOP-controlled local legislatures.
The growth of fundamental Christianity, Mormonism and Islam have already created an anti-feminism backlash, trying to get women back in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. The TP et al. will use those religions’ support to attack the modern, independent woman and undo any and every women’s right and protection they can, under the guise of "religious freedom." Hobby Lobby was just the first volley. A battle will follow.
Remember those crazy GOP Rape Advisory Charts? Well, some of those crazy things will be said openly, basically daring the new president to "try to make it about gender!"
You surely have seen the many “Obama is a [insert insane idea here]” theories. Presidents are often targets of the weirdest crap, but Obama has faced more than most. Too, Michelle has faced more crazed theories than any first lady in our history. First ladies are usually treated with some deference, unless they get political; then, the gloves come off. With Michelle, however, she didn’t even have to get political — the gloves came off early on and stayed off.
Have you seen the “Michelle is the first tranny” theory? The RWNJs go beyond the pale time and time again, but this meme is beyond anything I’ve ever seen before. Well, imagine if Michelle was president — it'll get uglier than tranny theories. It'll get uglier than any of us can imagine, because we cannot think like these crazed lunatics.
We have reason to expect the opposition to behave within certain boundaries, but ever since Reagan gutted the FCC and media responsibility, journalism has left the building, and there is no legitimate Fourth Estate (as good as it is, Comedy Central doesn't qualify as legitimate journalism) to report the truth about the crazies on Capital Hill and on the air.
We have reason to expect the opposition to behave with a certain sense of decorum, but ever since Gingrich and company changed the language of politics, civil discourse is out the window.
We have reason to expect a bit of give-and-take and diplomatic compromise in a two-party system, but ever since the Tea Party took us all on a suicidal right turn with its take-no-prisoners, "We will never surren- I mean compromise!" approach, even old-fashioned conservatism is too liberal for these folks. As many, many people have pointed out, their litmus tests are so extreme that their favorite president Ronald Reagan wouldn't survive the primaries today. (Which also shows a complete misunderstanding of American history, knowing what Reagan actually stood for, much like their utter fabrications of our founding fathers' beliefs, intents, etc., but I digress....)
The Far Right's extremism has increased to the point where they often out-Onion the Onion. For example, they argue that providing social services is somehow "fascism." (o.O) And no, that's not hyperbole. When providing health care is compared to sending people to gas chambers, how can one have civil discourse with such irrational conversation? There's no reasonable dialogue possible, let alone diplomatic give-and-take.
They keep lowering the bar until it’s somehow lower than the floor. I don’t put anything past any political person, supporter or agency anymore, and I expect we'll witness new, sordid lows if and when we elect our first female president. I’d love to be wrong about this, but, unfortunately, I think I’m hitting this nail squarely on its head.
If Hilary Clinton or any woman gets elected in 2016, in the words of Margo Channing, “Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night.”