Wednesday, January 17, 2007

"Condi Attacked" Part Two - Media Firestorm

Our readers have pointed out to us that the comment was taken out of context; and indeed it may have been blown out of proportion. However, the media's reaction to it is newsworthy in and of itself.

Have we finally come to a place where attacking, even indirectly, a woman for being childless is disdained?

Passing Exchange Becomes Political Flashpoint

“I thought it was O.K. to be single,” Ms. Rice said. “I thought it was O.K. to not have children, and I thought you could still make good decisions on behalf of the country if you were single and didn’t have children.”
It appears as if this incident has made Condi "claim" her childfree status more than she had before. Perhaps some unintended good will come out of it by bringing her out of the shadows. I am not hopeful that Oprah will follow.

Of course, it is the Times, so they continue:
During the Thursday hearing, Senator Boxer told Ms. Rice: “Who pays the price? I’m not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old and my grandchild is too young. You’re not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families. And I just want to bring us back to that fact.”

In an interview on Friday, Senator Boxer said her comments had been misunderstood and were now being turned against her by the White House and by Republicans. “What I was trying to do in this exchange was to find common ground with Condi Rice,” she said. “My whole point was to focus on the military families who pay the price.”
Which again, might be good. Is Senator Boxer realizing that if she did attack Dr. Rice's childless status, it would have been wrong? The full quote does indicate, as in the comments on our previous post, that the statement was not meant that way.

A 'leap backward' for feminism?
As for Rice, who assured Boxer she understood the sacrifice of military families, she later had a more pointed response, telling Fox News: "Gee, I thought single women had come further than that." On the same network, White House spokesman Tony Snow called Boxer's remark "a great leap backward for feminism."

Not to the country's most prominent feminist, Gloria Steinem, who said Snow's remark "takes your breath away."

"It had nothing to do with feminism," Steinem said. "It was perfectly reasonable, and it could have come from anyone -- a grandfather as well as a grandmother. Sen. Boxer was trying to draw a parallel" between herself and the secretary.
I'm sorry - how would the statement be any different coming from a grandfather? I understand Steinem is making the same contextual argument made before, but her framing of the issue makes it unclear that she understands why some take offense.
For Christina Hoff Sommers, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, Boxer's comments were not so much a "leap backward" as merely "mean-spirited and thoughtless," not to mention "sexist and politically absurd."

"She seems to be saying that an unmarried, childless woman should not be involved in decisions that affect traditional families," Sommers said. "By that standard, Susan B. Anthony would be disqualified. And how about Elizabeth I?"

"But I don't expect to hear much protest (from feminists)," Sommers added, "because their left-wing politics always trump their commitment to the cause of women."

Obvious political divides aside, did the Boxer-Rice incident tap into genuine feelings among ordinary Americans? Women interviewed seemed much less ready with a quick verdict on the exchange, but some said it evoked struggles they're having in their own hearts and minds.
I don't expect the feminists to protest either, and not only because they side with the left. We're not exactly on their radar.

Feminism issue arises from hearing on Iraq War
Conservative blogs and commentators were quick to seize on the issue. "One Great Leap (Backwards) for Womankind," read one blog, Bikini Politics. "They will be known by their Fruits," read another, Macsmind, which billed itself as "Conservative News, Commentary and Common Sense."
It appears that this issue has made us strange allies. Of course, it is springing entirely from the political sides on which each party lies - I don't imagine for one moment that conservatives would otherwise spring to the defense of the childfree choice.

Witches of the West
For her part, Rice said, "I guess that means I don't have kids. Was that the purpose of that?" Rice said. "Well, at the time I just found it a bit confusing frankly. But in retrospect, gee, I thought single women had come further than that. That the only question is are you making good decisions because you have kids?"
Strange bedfellows? Indeed. Will the conservative pundits, media and blogosphere turn on us once again when it suits their needs? Probably. At least we'll have this smidgen of ammo when that occurs. And at least we're talking about it.

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1 comment:

Vinny C said...

As bizarre as it is, I saw a faint glimmer of this a few years ago. One of the jacket blurbs on Burkett's The Baby Boon was done by Ann Coulter.