Thursday, March 27, 2008

WHAT IF HILLARY CLINTON GAVE A SPEECH ABOUT GENDER?

We'd like to hear such a speech, because what Obama did in 40 eloquent minutes for the conversation about race in America, Hillary Clinton could do for the conversation on gender. And here's just a rough outline:
1) I am proud to be a woman and a mother and the first serious female contender for the presidency, but my gender is only a part of who I am, and it doesn't define or constrain me.
2) I am part of a generation that faced and still faces all sorts of gender slights and slurs, and I honor the women who came before me for their commitment to achieving equal rights for women in the face of that.
3) But I would ask the women of this country to stop engaging in petty warfare over who has suffered more—women or blacks, women or men—as it is corrosive and fruitless. This country was founded on the promise that you can become the best thing you can dream for yourself; you are not trapped by the worst thing that's ever happened to you.
4) Things have improved for women in America in the last decades. They are not perfect; there is still much to be done. But women have made enormous strides in a few short decades, and to suggest otherwise is to devalue the life's work of too many heroes of the women's movement.
5) It is possible, indeed it is probable, that just as women have faced barriers and obstacles and derision, so have Hispanics, so have blacks, and so have men. No one in America can corner the market on suffering. Who the hell wants to spend their life in a corner, anyhow?
6) Men. What are they thinking? (Pause for applause.)
7) But seriously, if we in this country are ever going to move beyond Hooters, beyond date rape, beyond the wage gap and the glass ceiling, beyond Girls Gone Wild, and bulimic 12-year-olds, we need to start working together. We need to work with men on the gender signals called out by the media and with business about the value of women workers. We need to talk to one another respectfully and listen to one another's complaints.
8) Men, we understand and honor that many of you are taking paternity leave and folding the laundry and eating takeout because we forgot to turn on the crockpot. We get that everything has changed very, very quickly, and it's hard to come home to a wife who's coming home at the same time. You are doing more than your dads ever did around the house, and we still get mad when you forget to clean out the lint filter. It's nuts. But it's getting better. Stay with us.
9) Married guys, don't fool around with hookers. Don't fool around with staffers. Don't fool around with interns or Supreme Court justices. It's insulting to us and to you and to them. Marriage has to mean something. Gov. Spitzer. Bill, darling. I can respect the heck out of your political achievements even as I berate you for demeaning marriage. Life is complicated that way. Deal, buddies.
10) People of America, I understand why some of you are anxious at the prospect of a woman president. Sometimes I am nervous, too. But it's time. Also, I am sorry about that whole cookie comment.

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