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Susan Jhirad

Feminists, the choice is obvious

The policy differences between John McCain and Barack Obama are stark compared with the differences between Obama and Hillary Clinton. The policy differences between John McCain and Barack Obama are stark compared with the differences between Obama and Hillary Clinton. (Dennis Cook/Associated Press/File 2007)
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Susan Jhirad
June 8, 2008

DEAR FELLOW feminists,

Yes, I qualify. Like some of you, I grew up in an era where a woman president was an impossibility, where there were no women doctors, few women in positions of power, no women professors. I went to a coeducational college, where, although women got higher grades than men, we never directed plays, edited the newspaper, or were allowed to lead an organization. We washed dishes regularly in our dorms, while our fellow male students had maids clean their rooms for them. We had male professors who openly derided the idea of women scientists. We graduated and became secretaries; the men graduated and became reporters for The New York Times. I raised my son when there was no child care, was raped before there were rape crisis centers or anyone to talk to.

I get it.

I marched for women's rights, helped found the first feminist group in Cambridge, and like some of you, danced for joy when Geraldine Ferraro was nominated for vice president.

But I also grew up in an era when an African-American president was an impossibility, when African-Americans in the South were shot for having the temerity to vote. I worked for civil rights, registered black voters. Later, I witnessed busing in Boston, where angry white mobs stoned school buses filled with terrified black children, where people of color were never in power.

I get it.

I support Barack Obama for president. It's OK that you have supported Hillary Clinton. I get it, I really do. What I don't get, can't get, is seeing some of you riled up Clinton supporters threatening to vote for McCain.

Let me get this straight; you consider yourself a Democrat and a feminist. Yet rather than vote for a man who supports a woman's right to choose, children's healthcare, and an end to the war in Iraq, you would vote for a man who voted against all of these things.

You would vote for a man who is promising to nominate far-right activists for the Supreme Court, a man who votes consistently against choice, affirmative action, and workers' rights.

You would vote for a man who supports President Bush on most major issues vs. a man whose positions are quite similar to Clinton's.

I just don't get it.

Obama followed the rules, took his name off the ballot in Michigan, and didn't campaign in Florida or the Great Lakes State when his party told him not to. Meanwhile Clinton, who said at the time that those votes "shouldn't count" ended up yelling that they should.

Obama has generally taken the high road; he has criticized some of Clinton's policies, but never sunk to the level of personal attack as her campaign has done, playing on race and questioning his patriotism. He never mentioned that the Clintons consulted the Rev. Jeremiah Wright over their marital problems, at a time when she was attacking him for his association with Wright. He started out with less money, less support from party insiders, less name recognition, and he won. Yet you are so angry at him, you would rather vote for a man who would deny health insurance to your children? A man who would send your children to die in an endless war?

OK, you would dance in the streets to have a woman president. I would dance in the streets to have a woman or an African-American president. Both of these would show us something dramatically changed about America. Most of all, I want a president with integrity, and to me, Barack Obama is that candidate.

OK, you're deeply aggrieved that your candidate, who you think is entitled to the nomination, seems to have lost to someone who played fair and won.

I say, get over it. Sometimes your candidate loses. (My candidates almost always lose). Then, you vote for the next best candidate. You don't pout and whine and vote for somebody you really don't believe in. You don't stamp your feet and refuse to vote.

In short, you grow up.

Susan Jhirad is a professor of English at North Shore Community College.

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