Monday, August 17, 2009

Hillary Clinton and Hissy Fits

I must admit that I haven't been paying as much attention to international affairs of late, what with the health care reform "riots" being so much more entertaining (and enlightening. I had no idea we were all still evil-mongering, Nazi mobs). In fact, I completely missed Clinton's it's not all about Bill moment, but, frankly, I can't blame her for being more than a little annoyed at the rude question about what her husband thought regarding international affairs.

Liz at Echidne of the Snakes notes the various characterizations of Clinton's statement as "fatigue," "a temper tantrum," and--my favorite--"a hissy fit."

How often does the media describe a man's behavior as a hissy fit?...

Around the globe, women are fighting for equal rights. The more privileged among us are struggling for workplace equality: fair pay and a shot at the corner office. The less fortunate are fighting for the most basic rights: for their safety and the safety of their children. Hillary Clinton sees these struggles every day. So when asked what appeared to be a sexist question in a country where women are in grave danger, I think a temper tantrum, an eruption or an outburst would have been perfectly justified. In fact, when you view Clinton's reaction through a broader lense, when you look at all of the experiences that framed her answer, I think her response was calm, cool and collected.

Clinton's experience--being glossed over for the opinions of her husband--are similar to any woman who has gone car-shopping with her spouse, then looked at appliances at Best Buy. Amazingly, according to sales clerks, women do not drive but do spend a remarkable amount of time in front of the stove or washing machine.

As luck would have it, I do most of the cooking and the laundry in our house. But I also do a significant amount of driving. So, I guess, choosing the car is as much a woman's responsibility as buying a washing machine or a stove.

In a similar vein, Hillary Clinton is the Secretary of State, not her popular (in more ways than one) husband. She has a right to be indignant when snubbed, and not have it called a "hissy fit." This isn't the old days. Welcome to the 21st century, Democratic Republic of Congo!

OTOH, what does President Obama think about his Secretary of State having to stand up for herself this way?