“reason will not lead to solution”

So I discovered two things yesterday that made my life better.

#1 Pandora. So I might be a little late to the game on this one. I’m used to that. I’ve been listening to Yahoo! Radio, which blows. It only works in IE (who does that?) and it interrupts itself every other song for a commercial, and every hour the music shuts off and you have to decide whether to subscribe or keep listening for free. Lame, lame, lame.

#2 Postcards from Yo Mamma

Look who finally learned the computer. Dad set me up email ACCOUNT AND ALSO SHOWED ME HOW TO GO ONLINE.I DON’T KNOW WHY EVERYTHING IS SUDDENLY WRITING BIG LIKE THIS, SO JUST IGNORE IT. SO HOW WAS THE CONCERT YOU WENT TO WITH FRIENDS/ CALL ME SOON. THIS WRITING IS WEIRD SORRY, LOVE MOM.

OMFG. People publishing the ridiculous things that their parents do online. This cracks me up. I taught my parents to im on Google last year. Mom uses it to stalk me when I haven’t called her back in 3 hours or so. Dad sends me ims that are mini emails and end with “love, dad” and then is always surprised when I respond right away. Good times.

I’m feeling twitchy about the presidential election today. I read an essay by Alice Walker last night, which is great and she talks a lot about race and has some good perspectives and I am a big fan of hers anyway. Two things about her analysis of Hillary Clinton bothered me, however. One is this line:

It is hard to relate what it feels like to see Mrs. Clinton (I wish she felt self-assured enough to use her own name) referred to as “a woman”

I just don’t think it’s appropriate to criticize the choices a married woman makes in how to refer to herself. I’m no advocate of marriage, but it’s a personal choice whether or not to use your husband’s name, and I imagine Clinton does it for her own reasons. And I was pretty young when the Clintons were in the White House, but I seem to remember her taking flak from neocon pundits for using Hillary Rodham Clinton publicly. Am I crazy?

And doesn’t Michelle Obama use her husband’s last name?

The other thing was

I can easily imagine Obama sitting down and talking, person to person, with any leader, woman, man, child or common person, in the world, with no baggage of past servitude or race supremacy to mar their talks. I cannot see the same scenario with Mrs. Clinton who would drag into Twenty-First Century American leadership the same image of white privilege and distance from the reality of others’ lives that has so marred our country’s contacts with the rest of the world.

I just don’t think it is that simple – would Obama’s skin color really transcend years and years of U.S. imperialism and bad foreign policy? As far as I know, we send American soldiers of all racial backgrounds as occupying forces to other countries, so the face of America to people who have suffered under occupation isn’t always white. God knows Condoleeza Rice isn’t working any miracles in alleviating the “distance of reality from others’ lives” that plagues our foreign relations.

It also seems a little unfair to say that because of what your skin color projects (or what is projected onto your skin color by someone else) you’re disqualified from representing our country adequately.

It reminds me of the annual debate over Take Back the Night at UCSC. Each year, men wanted to help organize the march and walk with us and attend the Open Mic. And each year, part of the committee would object to the presence of men at the event. They might “trigger” women who had been raped. It didn’t make sense to Take Back the Night with men along. The men who wanted to participate consider themselves feminists and allies of the women’s movement. But each year there was some “alternative” event for allies – one year they could march but we asked to go to a discussion group rather than the open mic. One year they couldn’t march but could meet up at the open mic. They were never allowed to speak at the open mic.

This isn’t a perfect analogy. But it was a point of frustration for many feminist men to be excluded from supporting a movement they cared about because they shared biological characteristics with “the oppressor.” Are men complicit in sexism? Without a doubt, yes. Are white people complicit in racism? Absolutely. But to assume that a white woman can bring nothing to the foreign policy table but oppression seems dangerously short-sighted.

Besides all that, Obama does have privilege as a male in our society, doesn’t he? I hear a lot less about whether his outfit choices for public appearances are flattering to his figure. And didn’t the media publicize John Edwards looks and grooming habits in an effort to feminize and discredit him as a candidate?

Anyway, there’s a lot more to Walker’s essay, and I’m looking forward to reading it again. I guess this is a little heavy for Friday afternoon…have a great weekend anyway!

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One thought on ““reason will not lead to solution”

  1. two things:

    sally mckenna is a total g-chat stalker, although she is also guilty of the “instant emailing” in that she signs out “love, mom” every time. it is a bit adorable, and a bit frightening.

    loved the hillary clinton analysis and you have it 100% right. she was hillary rodham until it became apparent that the neocons were going to destroy her husband’s (and her) political career, but leave it to the history dork to evoke the importance of historical context… right?

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