The Hillary Clinton nutcracker reappeared this week — a blonde plastic doll with sharp, steel-lined legs. The stupid sexist toy came to retail shelves amid a slew of post midterm stories that repeated old boring guff about the Democrats’ age, her health her ambition and her looks – and sent team Clinton into high dudgeon of course. In the months ahead, the Clinton camp may want to take note and stockpile those nut-cracking dolls if only to distract voters from more serious issues.
When the stench of sexism is in the air, it’s no surprise that feminist hackles rise and that’s typically worked for Clinton’s political fortunes. But before so much misogynist mud is thrown that progressive voters just can’t see straight, can we remember that there are plenty of models of valiant feminist leadership that, in contrast to the Senator, don’t involve waging war, protecting Wall Street and flacking for the world’s largest corporations?
Take two women who were honored in Washington on the same day the nutcracker story (somehow) broke: former financial regulator Brooksley Born and Jobs with Justice director Sarita Gupta.
Just over a decade ago, when she headed up the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, Born tried to regulate financial derivatives before they had a chance to blow the US economy up. Casssandra-like she saw the writing on Wall Street’s wall and was ignored belittled and driven out of her job by the very same Larry Summers and Robert Rubin who were close allies of Clinton. If Brooksley Born were running for the nomination, she’d no doubt be getting plenty of sexist grief —but without the six figure speaking fees that are reportedly coming from Goldman Sachs to Hillary.
Sarita Gupta is a long-time crusader for women’s rights. To her, wages and trade rules are as much women’s issues as the right to a safe legal abortion. Gupta’s taken on among others, the global giant Wal-Mart over the exploitation of its drive-to-the-bottom supply chains. Hillary Clinton, by contrast, once served on the board of Wal-Mart; she’s rarely seen a trade deal she didn’t like. As secretary of state, she promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the most far-reaching trade pact ever.
So, sexist smoke, it smells and it has a way of getting in feminist eyes. But that shouldn’t blind us to the facts. While there’s every reason to think Hillary Clinton can handle a steely-thighed doll gag, the women of the world deserve better than another race in which smart feminists simply line-up, doll-like behind a Clinton candidate.
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