We had a major league tug of war over whether this New Republic cover of Hillary Clinton was misogynistic.
Some of the comments in my thread about the photo:
“All in all bloody brilliant I’d say.”
“…the magazine’s just having a little fun, getting a rise out of you,…”
My post even inspired this post, Hillary Fans and Apologists Risk Diluting Meaning of Misogyny and the comments there involved a very robust dialogue. The concern was that by calling out that cover as offensive and misogynistic, I was diluting the impact I could ever have when I might want to call out something that is, in the opinion of others, “really misogynistic” – whatever that might be.
Well, now we have this cover from the July 21 New Yorker:
And plenty of people are willing to call it offensive and racist.
As do I and as well they should.
Every time. Every. Blasted. Time.
Should people calling it out on behalf of Obama be told that they risk diluting the concept and blinding themselves to real racism by calling out this particular cover? I sure as hell wouldn’t tell them that. Because there should be no tolerance at any level.
When you pull out a dandelion, do you just take the flower itself, or even just the green stem and up? No – you have to take out the roots below the ground.
And the same is true of racism and sexism and all the other isms that propagate fear.
In this interview with New Yorker editor, David Remnick, he says that the image is supposed to be a way of compiling and making fun of all the accusations and smears of the Obamas that are intended to cause fear in the voters.
What I think it does is hold up a mirror to the prejudice and dark imaginings about Barack Obama’s — both Obamas’ — past, and their politics. I can’t speak for anyone else’s interpretations, all I can say is that it combines a number of images that have been propagated, not by everyone on the right but by some, about Obama’s supposed “lack of patriotism” or his being “soft on terrorism” or the idiotic notion that somehow Michelle Obama is the second coming of the Weathermen or most violent Black Panthers. That somehow all this is going to come to the Oval Office.
The fact is, it’s not a satire about Obama – it’s a satire about the distortions and misconceptions and prejudices about Obama.
But if that was the objective, then what the cover should have done is skewer the people who propagate distortions and misconceptions and prejudices in the first place – not the very people already being demonized. As Kevin Drum says (hattip to Jay Rosen’s tweet) the only way to have made this fair is the way a too-gentle on McCain media would never do it:
If artist Barry Blitt had some real cojones, he would have drawn the same cover but shown it as a gigantic word bubble coming out of John McCain’s mouth — implying, you see, that this is how McCain wants the world to view Obama. But he didn’t. Because that would have been unfair. And McCain would have complained about it. And for some reason, the risk that a failed satire would unfairly defame McCain is somehow seen as worse than the risk that a failed satire would unfairly defame Obama.
Except for that gendered comment about the cojones.
Which is sexist.
But not misogynistic.
But used for men and women.
But gendered anyway. (oh, just go read more about the intersection of gender and race here and who is arguing for using “balls,” if you recognize her name)
UPDATE: Read these: