David Crary of the Associated Press, in an article asking if sexism or racism is more "taboo" in the context of the recent war of words between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, concluded that "both are alive and well." It appears, though, judging by the use of quotes from feminists including Gloria Steinem and Kim Gandy, it seems that Crary is taking the apparent sexism against Hillary Clinton more seriously.
The first half of Crary’s article focused on the sexism component of the discussion. Crary quoted Steinem’s claim in a recent New York Times article that "gender is 'probably the most restricting force in American life' — more so than race." He then quotes Yvonne Scruggs-Leftwich, who "suggested there was little point in ranking them," and NOW president Kim Gandy, who is of the view that while racism may be "somewhat coded," there’s still "an awful lot of explicit sexist stuff."
Crary then spent six paragraphs on criticism of Hillary Clinton that has apparent sexist overtones.
Certainly, Clinton's gender has been the spark for criticism, verbal and otherwise, of a sort that Obama has avoided. Available on the Internet are a Hillary nutcracker (the Clinton-like figure cracks nuts between her legs) and a Hillary toilet brush (the sales pitch: "You can have Hillary Clinton as your 'First Cleaning Lady.'")
Clinton's wardrobe, figure, hairdo — even her laugh — have generated detailed and often unflattering commentary.
Radio host Rush Limbaugh said of her: "Will this country want to actually watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis?" Chris Matthews, host of "Hardball" on MSNBC, has been accused of repeated sexist remarks about Clinton and other female politicians. For example, Matthews suggested that when female politicians deliver a fiery speech, "it can grate on some men when they listen to it — fingernails on a blackboard."
Asked about the complaints, Matthews told The Associated Press he personally likes Clinton and also likes the fact that "Hardball" generates controversy.
Gandy, however, sees an injurious double-standard.
"The focus on the clothes and the figure and the hairdo — not only are they not used with male candidates, they're used to trivialize Hillary Clinton," Gandy said.
It is interesting that Crary gave a conservative example and a liberal example of purported sexism against Hillary Clinton.
With regards to racism, Crary listed three examples of apparent Republican/conservative racism, compared to two racial controversies surrounding Democrats.
On the racial front, some of the more blatant incidents in recent years did not involve Obama.
There was sharp criticism of a TV ad run in 2006 by the Republican National Committee, in which a flirtatious blonde invited Harold Ford Jr., a black Senate candidate in Tennessee, to "call me." A white GOP candidate in Virginia, Sen. George Allen, stumbled in his campaign for re-election when he referred to one of his rival's volunteers, a man of Indian descent, as "macaca."
For Obama, the issue of racism was raised a year ago when Sen. Joe Biden described the Illinois senator as "clean" and "articulate," then sought to clarify that he meant no disrespect to other blacks.
Since then, though, there has been little overt racism directed at Obama that has percolated into the public domain. Most of the debate has been more nuanced — such as whether there was a racial context to Clinton supporters' references to Obama's acknowledged teenage use of cocaine. There was brief umbrage by some Obama backers over New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's recent use of the term "shuck and jive" but Cuomo's aides insisted he was talking generally about candidates' evasions, not about Obama in particular.
Limbaugh was criticized last year for playing a parody song on his show entitled "Barack the Magic Negro." But Obama himself drew praise from Limbaugh for laughing off the song and saying he didn't mind people poking fun at him.
Crary wasn’t the first in the mainstream media to ask "the greater taboo" question between racism and sexism. Just over a year ago, Diane Sawyer, during an interview on Good Morning America, asked Barack Obama himself, "Is the nation secretly, I guess, more racist or more sexist?"