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What was I going to talk about?

January 18, 2008

Oh yeah. Gender and Hillary. Or, why I wish I wasn’t gonna vote Obama.

I think I’m done with hearing how Hillary’s the ice queen, and not just because she teared up in that silly clip. I’m done with hearing about how she’s so cold and unfeeling. I’m also not going to accept the opposite, that she’s too flaky to run the country, or that that silly clip shows how she’s not strong enough. I’m tired of the absurd standards women are held to when they are in male-dominated fields. I’m sure most of you have heard of the study done, where identical resumes were sent out with male or female names to various employers. The result was that those with female names had to be significantly more qualified to be given the same evaluation of expertise. Can you imagine (you guys who are reading this) going through life knowing that?
I’ve got my own wonderfully sexist thing going on. When I need advice about interactions with faculty, if I should email my adviser or just drop by, if I should ask that professor about my grade or not, I refuse to ask a girl for her opinion. I’ll only take advice on those things from guys, for the simple reason that girls are more passive and grad school is built around a model that expects assertiveness. As challenging as it is to be brave, and as often as I fail, I’ve realized that for my career this is something I’m going to have to do.
The standards are more narrow for women in a lot of fields. Positions of power, influence, and academia, that’s where it seems to be bad. If your skirt is a touch too short, then you’re a tramp, but if your skirt is a bit too long then you’re trying to hide your femininity. Case in point, two profs at school. The female prof is in her early thirties and looks twenty five. She’s beautiful, and dresses to match. Then there’s this male prof who can never seem to button up his shirt far enough, so there’s always chest hair flying about. She gets talked about as someone who dresses inappropriately (I’ll admit to being guilty of this), but he never does.
Oh, and this is 2008. Not 1973 when she started law school.
Anyway I’ve lost the thread of this, so I’ll conclude. Remember, before you criticize Hillary, to think about if you’d say the same about one of the male candidates. And remember how much harder she’s had to work to get this far.

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