2008 presidential elections, democratic primaries, Feminism, Hillary Rodham Clinton, HRC, Politics, US

On Why We Must Elect A Wife: President Rodham

The latest criticism against HRC is that she is, in comparison with Edwards and Obama, the establishment candidate. She has been there, she has done it all before (they have turned her ‘experience’ argument against her). America’s still the same; it hasn’t changed. So she won’t be able to change it in virtue of not having changed it so far. This charge is, obviously, the result of Hillary being Bill’s wife. She is history, because she belongs to Bill’s ‘90s in virtue of having been the first lady. So while the problem does not seem to be her being a woman, it still is her being a wife; the last Democratic President’s wife. It would have been different, those people criticizing her will concede, if she had been any other woman; if she only weren’t Bill’s wife, then she could have been elected despite her being a woman.

So America, according to these people, would be ready for a woman; but only for a new woman. It’s not ready for an old woman, a wife. Let’s get this right: the problem is obviously not, in itself, that Hillary is married: had she been married to someone else, she could have still been a new woman, a woman for change. Because, as far as politics would have been concerned, she then would not have been a wife. The problem is that she is married to the past. So Hillary isn’t just married – that would have been fine. She is politically married: she is a political wife, not just a wife. Worse: the implicit accusation is that she is only there – in it with a chance – because she is Bill’s wife.

So far, this is all very truistic. But it underestimates the gender – and therefore power – revolution represented by a woman in charge of the world. What would it mean? Why would it be so significant? Because it would be the ultimate liberation: the woman liberation movement will have finally completed its journey only when a woman will have taken the world’s top job. No woman will ever be fully liberated until it is demonstrated that a woman can take (and hold) the top job. That, and only that, will be mission accomplished for the woman liberation movement, and aging feminists will finally be able to go back to knitting.

But where did that journey of liberation began? It began with marriage: it began with making marriage an equal, consensual, free relationship (as free as love allows, that is). The journey began with liberating wives from their husbands. It has been wives who have always symbolized the exploited woman. Wives bending on the sink to wash dishes. Wives bending on their children to tie their shoelaces. Wives bending for their husbands. It is first and foremost through marriage that women have been exploited: so the exploited woman just is the wife.

And that’s why liberation will be complete only when we elect a wife. But, as we said, electing any wife will be, politically, just like electing a woman. We must elect someone who is a wife even from a political point of view; we must elect HRC. So that she can finally, as President, shed that ‘C’ and be just her own autonomous self: President Rodham. Only when we will have liberated the first lady from the President we will have achieved the full liberation of women, of all women (at least potentially). Electing any other wife would be electing a liberated woman. It is only by electing the wife that we will have achieved liberation; because, paradoxically, Hillary (being, necessarily, one of the most liberated women on earth) isn’t yet liberated because she has not yet been liberated from her husband, the President. It is only by becoming President herself – President Rodham, not President Clinton – that she will finally liberate herself.

That’s why, if the election of the first woman president must be the ultimate liberation, then we must elect the wife, the first lady. Once the fist lady liberates herself, then any woman can.

Feminism, literature, objectification, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy, women

mother, mater, matter

On the topic of mother – mater (Latin) – matter and the objectification of women, I just read this passage from Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles:

But those of the other sex were the most interesting of this company of binders, by reason of the charm which is acquired by woman when she becomes part and parcel of outdoor nature, and is not merely an object set down therein as at ordinary times. A field-man is a personality afield; a field-woman is a portion of the field; she has somehow lost her own margin, imbibed the essence of her surrounding, and assimilated herself with it.

aesthetics, categorical imperative, Feminism, Kant, objectification, Philosophy, women

The objectification of women: a possible solution

I have always believed that beauty and its enjoyment, even in their human female form, are too crucial a component of the good life to necessarily violate the categorical imperative. But the difficulty is an apparently insurmountable one: the appreciation of a woman on purely aesthetic grounds means appreciating her as an object. Last night, in the company of men (A. & G.), I came to a possible solution: what one entertains, in looking at a beautiful woman, is not necessarily the woman herself; it can just be the woman’s appearance. But if that is the case, the woman is no longer being objectified: only her appearance is. But since her appearance is not an end in itself (that is, it is not a person with ends), objectifying it does not violate the categorical imperative (that is, it is not conceptually possible to objectify it, because a woman’s appearance is not a person with ends: it is not the right kind of thing to be subject to objectification).

The point is rather simple: the woman is not part of the experience, and therefore it cannot be that she is being objectified. The point must be distinguished from a similar one that would be appealing to the difference between the woman and her body. To that point, it might be replied that, if dualism is false, then the body is identical with the woman, and so entertaining her body is entertaining her. But this kind of objection does not necessarily apply to a woman’s appearance.

It might be replied that judging a woman by her appearance is itself a form of objectification. But this objection overlooks the crucial point that it is not the woman who is the object of the experience, but just her appearance. Once that distinction is reinstated, the objection reemerges as senseless: judging a woman’s appearance by her appearance is a form of objectification.

animal rights, BBC, Feminism

Women, Dogs, and People

Today a woman died. But this is not what the Yucca is here to report. Rather, the Yucca noticed the way in which the BBC presents the news. The title is: “Woman and dog killed in collision”.


The dog is given pretty much equal status as the woman (apart from the fact that the two are not ordered alphabetically): normally, the title would have said something like “Woman killed in collision” and then they would have mentioned, in the article, that the woman had been killed while walking her dog. And that yes, by the way, for the animal lovers out there, the dog had died too. In a similar way in which they could have reported that a woman had been run over while listening to her iPod. And that, yes, for the iGeeks out there, the iPod was fucked beyond repair. Animals as objects, the usual.

But this time the BBC has chosen to put the dog up there with the woman. My feminist self suggests me that, had it been a man rather than a woman, the title would have probably not mentioned the dog… but that’s another story: women as animals, animals as objects, women as objects. The usual.

This is probably just a bored Sunday evening editor taking the liberty of a lifetime. But thanks anyway: the Yucca takes notice of another of those puny subterranean shifts that will, one day, amount to emancipation.

Feminism, George Eliot, litarature, Middlemarch, patriarchalism

Rosamond and Dorothea

Rosamond and Dorothea teach us that there is more than one way in which patriarchalism oppresses our society. Each character represents two independent ways in which the patriarchal bonds are kept in place. Rosamond is a vain tart. She symbolises and cherishes all the predictable prejudices of a pampered provincial beauty. But, finding her shallow expectations disappointed in marriage, she finds in herself the strength to rebel: doing so stupidly and annoyingly and, George Eliot is keen to emphasize, for all the wrong reasons. Still, Rosamond overtly and sometimes publicly disobeys her husband in the provincial England of the early 19th century. What others would have called her revolutionary force is wasted because of her reactionary convictions and ambitions. Still, she does not bow to her master-husband. What we learn is that defiance is not enough: that a woman’s readiness to do as she pleases even in the face of her husband’s contrary ‘orders’ will not do if she has been brought up to be a wife. Rosamond is, in many ways, a strong woman; but she is not independent – neither in fortune, nor in thought.

Unsurprisingly, Dorothea is the very opposite: she can think herself out of the boundaries of marriage, past her husband’s intellect. But her religion and upbringing oblige her to submit. Here we have a noblewoman whose interest for the welfare of the little people never wavers, apart from when it clashes with that of her husband. Differently from Rosamond she is endowed with an independent intellect capable of dreaming up plans of emancipation: but she does not, till the end (and even then, only at the sacrifice of her fortune), have the strength of pursuing them.

Such is the force of patriarchalism: it will keep property away from women; and, just in case nature should conspire against such arrangements, it will bring a woman up to obey and bow, to submit and assent. And those characters, as Rosamond’s, which cannot be moulded, might just happen to be too preoccupied with the little things of the present.

discrimination, Feminism, Islam, Terrorism

‘Women, children and people’

On Sunday’s ‘Scotland after the Bomb’ (BBC1, 10.15pm), Bashir Maan, Scotland’s representative on the Muslim Council of Britain, declared that Islam does not condone the killing of ‘women, children and people’. Maan unintentionally revealed the underlying Islamic tendency to class women as minors alongside children, as opposed to men, who are evidently the only proper ‘people’. As one of the chief representatives of moderate Islam in Britain, Maan exposed the fact that this dangerous prejudice applies not only to extremists, but to moderate Muslims also.

Written by Ms. Kok, an associate of the Yucca