Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responds passionately and eloquently to Rep. Smith’s concern that the Obama administration supports women’s reproductive freedom abroad. Michelle Goldberg calls it thrillingly unequivocal. You can read a transcript of the exchange here, via Shakesville.

On a side note, why is Hillary Clinton referred to as “the gentleman” on several occasions?

In the past several days I’ve read numerous articles comparing Caroline Kennedy to Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. Seriously? For the most part, I understand the concern over the fact that she’s not been elected to anything. But the outrage over the fact that she’s rich or that she comes from a political family baffles me. 

In a carefully controlled strategy reminiscent of the vice
presidential hopeful Sarah Palin, aides to Caroline Kennedy interrupted
her on Wednesday and whisked her away when she was asked what her
qualifications are to be U.S. senator. (seattlepi)

One of Ms. Kennedys qualifications, leading the Fund for Public Schools
in raising $240 million in private donations, is about as impressive as
being Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. Ms. Kennedys main
disqualificationsnot having paid her political dues, not having enough
experiencewere also attributed to Mrs. Palin. (examiner)

The curious thing about this story is how closely it resembles Hillary
Clinton in the early months of this year’s presidential campaign, when
the former first lady was running as a quasi-incumbent. (seattlepi)

Though I disagreed with Sarah Palin on nearly every political issue, I flinched when she was asked to defend her qualifications. Yes, she was extremely unqualified. But so have several male politicians been, yet they are much less often asked to defend this weakness. Arnold, the Governator, comes to mind. But as Marie Cocco points out,

There are no female Arnold Schwarzeneggers. That is, no woman will
ever burst into politics, capture the voters’ imagination and be
catapulted into high public office without a lick of experience.

Perhaps one of the reasons that the extremely unimaginative comparisons are being made between Caroline Kennedy and Sarah Palin or Hillary Clinton is that the sexism is all too familiar.

Marie Cocco (Alternet) argues that unlike California’s governator, women “will never burst into high political office without a lick of experience.” She also notes that experienced women don’t do much better.

The glass ceiling remains firmly in place — not cracked, as Hillary Clinton insisted as she tried to claim rhetorical victory after her defeat in the Democratic nominating contest. It wasn’t even scratched with the candidacy of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential nominee — unless you consider becoming an object of national ridicule to be a symbol of advancement. As divergent as these two women are ideologically and temperamentally, as different as are their resumes, they both banged their heads — hard — against the ceiling. Both were bruised. So was the goal of advancing women in political leadership.

Continue reading here.

Women make up seventeen percent of our Congress. 17. That’s not even halfway to half way.

Marie Cocco concludes:

Yet American women are a majority of the population and a majority of the electorate. They earn more than half the bachelor’s and master’s degrees, a level of educational achievement far exceeding that of women in developing countries. There must be some reason we don’t do any better than women in impoverished, rural regions of the world where cultural norms oppress women.

Maybe it is because our culture isn’t so different after all.

When Hillary Clinton pointed out examples of sexism in the media she was accused of playing the gender card, or whining.

Now, the McCain camp suggests that anyone who doesn’t treat Sarah Palin with “deference” is being sexist.

Ari Melber points out very nicely why this is a problem:

Actual sexism still infects American culture and U.S. politics, of course. But McCain and Palin undermine the fight for equality when they falsely and cynically stage fake offenses.

McCain’s decision to put a woman on his ticket was laudable and inspiring, (as I’ve written before), and regardless of the motives, it was good for the country.

McCain’s overall conduct is more significant than that one action, however. His cynical attempt to cloak his ticket in gendered victimhood is an offense to all women and men who value equality and to any voters who still desire a campaign devoted to a truthful debate of the issues.

UPDATE: McCain’s claim that Obama was using the “lipstick on a pig” claim to refer to Sarah Palin is a perfect example of McCain crying wolf when it comes to sexism.  McCain himself used the exact same phrase when referring to Hillary Clinton.  So, either he’s calling himself sexist with this latest attack on Obama, or he’s crying wolf.  McShameless.

The National Organization for Women has compiled examples of sexist media coverage and invites you to rate the misogyny.

NOW’s Media Hall of Shame is a collection of some of the worst offenders from this season’s election coverage, including TV, radio, print, web and even political cartoons. We want to know what YOU think — rank these “Shamers” on a sexism scale of one thumb down (least offensive) to five thumbs down (most offensive). The top offenders of the Media Hall of Shame will be dis-honored at the National NOW Conference in July.

This is a nice resource in case you run across someone who insists that sexism wasn’t an issue in Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Dare that person to watch this collection and then talk to you about media bias.

Obama is campaigning with Hillary Clinton tonight, reminding women that he supports equal pay. That’s an issue he should continue to press, considering John McCain didn’t bother to show up for the vote on the Equal Pay Act. McCain claims that women need more education and training, not equal pay, and insists he would have voted against the Act because he believes it would encourage frivolous lawsuits.

A young woman challenged McCain on the issue when he tried to put her on the spot.  He later laughed about equality for women on the Daily Show.

The media seems infatuated with the idea that there are angry Hillary supporters who are going to vote for McCain because they can’t bring themselves to vote for Obama. That may be true, but the likelihood that they are feminists is slim. John McCain is no friend to women’s issues. See for yourself.

Read more on “Feminists for McCain? Not so much” by Katha Pollitt.

The media says there are a number of Clinton supporters considering voting for McCain. That just doesn’t make sense to me. If you supported Clinton, that suggests you are in line with her on important issues. Barack Obama’s stance on all of these issues are much closer to Clinton’s than McCain’s. Key Clinton supporters are starting to speak on exactly this phenomenon.

Now top female Clinton supporters have a message for McCain: not so fast.

“The McCain campaign has been talking about the mythology of trying to pick up HRC supporters,” says Ellen Malcolm, president of EMILY’S List. “This is a pipe dream, because he’s out of touch with their lives and the issues they care about.”

“We are here to sound the alarm bell,” said Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of South Florida on a conference call. “We are going to work hard to make sure that John McCain is not allowed to pull the wool over women’s eyes one more day.” (Ari Berman, Alternet)

Bill Scher discusses “Reaching Out to Clinton Voters.” He links women’s struggles to the economy, and notes that Obama is under pressure to give a speech on sexism the way he did on racism.

The candidate who recognizes that the specific struggles of women impact all of us, and moves us beyond a battle of sexes, will not only earn respect from Clinton voters, but from voters overall.

And it will ensure that the spirit of Clinton’s historic candidacy lives on (full article here).

According to Gallup, women are getting behind Obama in droves since Clinton’s concession.

Women favoring Obama

Want to know why McCain should worry women? His conservative credentials speak for themselves.

At the National Conference for Media Reform, Laura Flanders contributes her two cents about race and gender and media bias in the 2008 campaign season.

She cites numerous examples of racism and sexism that didn’t become big stories in the campaign season.

…There’s a relationship between someone being able to say “let’s get the bitch,” and violence against women around the world.

And she highlights the importance of focusing not only on race or gender, but on power, as the most restrictive force in the U.S.

…We used to understand there was a relationship between what people say and the way society behaves. But we’ve seen a language disconnected from that discourse about power, and we’ve seen the experience of certain people, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and various of their surrogates, separated from the treatment of groups…we have a media that resolutely says it’s only personal, it’s only about them. And when we talk about race and gender being a problem, there it is in a nutshell.

The Women’s Media Center says,

“Sexism might sell, but we’re not buying it!”

Check out this video:

Read a statement by WMC President Carol Jenkins, and sign the petition here.

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