November 20, 2007
Because She's a WomanBy Selwyn Duke
It's very easy to fall behind the times. It is for this reason that you find parents who never seem to really know what the younger generation is involved in, older folks who still act as if a hot dog should be 10 cents, and people who fight yesterday's social battles. As to the last thing, there are those who ask if a woman can be elected president.
The real question is, can a man running against a woman be elected president?
With androgyny being the order of the day, it has often been lamented that men no longer know what is expected of them. Is being chivalrous courteous or condescending? Do I hold the door or let her roar? A similar quandary is apparent when watching the men who must run against Hillary Rodham Clinton.
When Clinton stumbled in the second to last Democrat debate, her opponents' immediate political instincts were to attack the front-runner's now exposed weak flank. This is what office-seekers do; it's why the military term "campaign" is applied to political contests.
Yet almost as soon as the post-debate analysis began we heard the inevitable accusation that all and sundry were conspiring against the lone girl. The moderator, the other candidates, the butcher, baker, candlestick-maker and probably even male chauvinists beyond the grave were experiencing testosterone boil-over.
With the suddenly chivalrous media doing the heavy lifting, Clinton herself didn't have to say much, but she still wasted no time deftly playing the downtrodden woman card. At Wellesley College she remarked that presidential politics was an "all boys club" while campaign surrogates whispered about "sexism." Sure, she soon after took the high road and said the attacks were due to her front-runner status and not her chromosome configuration, but be not fooled.
That's the genius of it.
Subtly play upon the premise that women can never get a fair shake while your public relations team -- otherwise known as the US media -- pounds that drum hard, then soldier on nobly. As the cherry on top, have suddenly chivalrous husband Bill find time between mistresses to feign anger and say you're being "Swift-boated" because you never won the medal of maleness. Then millions will say, "Oh, what heroic virtue! She is a victim of the old boy network and by all rights could cry foul, but she merely endeavors to persevere. Class as well as courage."
This brings us to the problem confronted by the men: They're damned if they do and damned if they don't. If they don't attack Clinton, her faults remain hidden and she cruises to the nomination; if they do attack, they are faulted for hitting girls and she cruises to the nomination. They're between a feminist heart and a hard place.
This brings to light a sobering reality. This uniquely feminine (if one can apply that adjective when speaking of the anointed one) protection will stay with Madame Hillary should she make it to the general election. And it's a protection that exists because of two related phenomena, Group-identity politics and the New Chivalry.
As I said when writing about the New Chivalry, it replaces the traditional variety and refers to the affirmative-action mentality that now prevails. It involves laws, set-asides, regulations, quotas, mandates, social codes and conventions that prescribe favorable treatment for women. Among my examples, I pointed to a high school girl golfer who was afforded entry into a boys' tournament on the basis of an equality argument, but then was allowed to play forward tees that made the course 20 percent shorter for her. In other words, equality got her in the door but was then left outside.
This phenomenon is evident with Clinton as well; equality has gotten her a place in the race but also ensures that she will never have to run as fast. No small number of Americans -- many of them men -- will vote for her simply, well... because she's a woman. As to this, just a few days ago I was told of a young man who said he would vote for Clinton because it would be "cool" to have a female president.
Married to the New Chivalry is group-identity politics, the phenomenon that contributes to women's acceptance of the former's seductive hand. As to its impact on this election, Clinton right-hand man turned pundit Dick Morris has said that her candidacy will bring out 20 million female voters who would usually sit on the sidelines. And while Morris the Catty's prescience has often been questionable, this prediction is logical enough to fill me with a sense of foreboding.
In response, many may point to Clinton's high negatives and polls showing that close to 50 percent of respondents say they will never vote for her. Yet I suspect that these polls don't accurately measure the unprecedented estrogen surge that could be nigh. Let's now examine the female factor.
Group patriotism is a powerful force. As to this, I think of my Greek-descent in-laws who voted for Michael Dukakis in 1988 simply because he shared their heritage. Such thinking is Greek to me, but, sadly, it plagues man. Just consider how many other Americans will rally to support a candidate from their group regardless of ideology or integrity. And this brings us to women.
There was a time when the word "feminist" was not prominent in our lexicon. Girls were raised to be girls, and the patriarchy was fact, not fiction and foe. After years of destroying tradition and imbibing the feminist malt, however, this has changed.
There are now tens of millions of women who have been weaned on identity politics. From the time they were little girls they have in essence been told, "Men have kept you down; men have oppressed you." They have been subjected to feminist curricula in schools that present a tendentious view of history and reinforce these notions, and in college it only gets worse, with women's studies classes that instill misandry. Consequently, like an afrocentrist, Latino activist or any other group patriot, they view everything through the prism of "us against them" and have chips on their shoulders.
Although this doesn't apply to all women, the ones I describe are legion. They will vote for a woman simply, well... because she's a woman. They can't be reasoned with, for, as Ben Franklin said, "You cannot reason a man out of a position he has not reasoned himself into." Emotion is the seducer who charms them, and reason changes minds, not hearts.
If such women read this article, for instance, they would only be confirmed in their position that the infernal "patriarchy" will stop at nothing to keep a woman in the house - or at least in the Senate. I would just be another insecure male -- not a man, mind you -- whose masculinity was threatened by the ascension of the more ethereal sex. No matter what I said, they would vote for her. No matter what she says, they will vote for her.
So, too, will the Republican nominee be an insecure if not abusive male. Whether attacks on Clinton are warranted or not, every one will remind these women of an ex-husband or boyfriend, former boss, or father whom they imagine did them wrong. The attacks will not be analyzed, but felt. They may be valid, but they will simply be what a victimizer does to a victim, and each attack will make her seem all the more the victim of domestic political violence. Why? Because that's how these women see things. Why? Because that's what men do. Why? Because she's a woman.
Such intractable biases are one of the consequences of group-identity politics. And along with the New Chivalry, it may be more than enough to visit upon us a uniquely unqualified individual. Notice that after Clinton was exposed for being just that in the second to last Democrat debate - merely by being pressed to answer a simple question - CNN handled her with kid gloves in the last one. The media had been chastened for "doing what men do" by many and were back in chivalric form. So who can really take Clinton to task? Be it the media, the other candidates or someone else, it will just be seen as the boys bullying the girl.
Perhaps my estimation of Clinton's chances is overly sanguine. Call me a pessimist. Yes, I do know that not only is she unpopular with a majority of men but that there are millions of women who would rather don full-length burkas then cast votes for her. But I also know that "because she's a woman" is a powerful argument in an age where feminocracy is extolled. And it just may be enough to possess us to make history. It may give us our first affirmative-action president.
Selwyn Duke is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. Contact Selwyn Duke