‘Iron my shirt’ as political commentary

// 10 January 2008

You probably noticed, but Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire primary, bringing her back into the race for president. You might also have noticed the hysterical level of sexism that has been directed towards her. Of course, this will all be very familiar to Clinton – back in August last year, we already had the Hillary nutcracker on sale for $19.99.

However, this seemingly gut-level-misogynist reaction to her campaign reached a new low in the run up to her win in New Hampshire, when she was interrupted by men shouting “iron my shirt”. You can see the photos here and AP has the story, although it strangely describes it as a “seemingly sexist” protest. The mind boggles as to what would need to happen to get them to describe it as definitively sexist.

Ready to dismiss this as a couple of extremist nutters? Well, think again. The US feminist blogosphere is buzzing with outrage at how the media has covered Clinton’s campaign. Feministing points to a Washington Post blogger who says she needs an electric shock collar; Wonkette notes that Chris Matthews – a host on the political TV show Hardball – pinched her cheeks (it’s not an exact equivalent, I suppose, but in a UK context this might be roughly similar to Paxman coming over and pinching Brown’s cheeks – or perhaps give him a friendly tickle); Melissa McEwan of Shakesville notes that New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd accused Clinton of “playing the victim” – unwittingly casting a light on the gender politics of that particular newsroom in the process.

This has nothing to do with her political stance. Nothing on this list – all from the last two days – has anything to do with her position on any issue. And regardless of our views on Clinton’s specific politics, it’s truly been flabbergasting to see the reaction she has garnered simply for being a woman seeking power.

Cross posted at Liberal Conspiracy

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