Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Obama as a feminist ally

Via Daily Kos, Politico posted this ad, in which Obama criticizes McCain's stance on equal pay, and clearly states that the wage gap is a problem for American women and therefore American families. I have to admit that I was one of the feminists who feared explicitly feminist issues falling by the wayside after Clinton lost the nomination, but Obama appears to have stepped up to the progressive obligation to pull feminist issues out of the women's issues ghetto. It's just an ad, and I know those are easier to produce than equal pay, but I'm still excited to see his campaign talking about the wage gap as serious problem, without asking for the infamous cookie and head-pat from feminists.

Before I get too excited, I should note Obama has had a significant wage gap problem in his senatorial career. Add that with nice ad like this and you get plain old hypocrisy. To McCain's credit, this is not a problem he has. Given the opportunity to guarantee equal pay for equal work for all Americans, McCain declined to vote, spoke explicitly against the act, and Obama took time out of campaigning to support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act 0f 2007, in the face of a Republican filibuster, which stymied the passage of the act for the moment.

I think we can thank Hillary Clinton for making feminism cool enough again that the McCain campaign will claim it as one of its values and use a watered-down, tokenism-based form of it to prop up their joke of a vice-presidential pick. Just like no one wants to explicitly say they're afraid of putting a black man in the white house, the fact that the Republican ticket is proudly trying to claim to be the real feminists shows that progressive values are American values. It's a testament to the ridiculousness of our political dialog that Hillary couldn't object to the sexist smears against her, but if you're not a feminist, you need to say you are. Only dogwhistles allowed.
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