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Gloria Steinem's Awful Op-ed

It's hard to do justice to the mess that is Gloria Steinem's piece in today's Times but I'll give it a go. She begins:

The woman in question became a lawyer after some years as a community organizer, married a corporate lawyer and is the mother of two little girls, ages 9 and 6. Herself the daughter of a white American mother and a black African father — in this race-conscious country, she is considered black — she served as a state legislator for eight years, and became an inspirational voice for national unity.

Be honest: Do you think this is the biography of someone who could be elected to the United States Senate? After less than one term there, do you believe she could be a viable candidate to head the most powerful nation on earth?

The problem with this sort of reasoning reveals itself pretty quickly if you replace "the woman in question" with "the black man in question." Before people had heard of Barack Obama there probably wasn't a single person on Earth who believed an African-American would find himself in the position Obama is in right now (and, last time I checked, there are a lot more women than African Americans in the Senate).

Steinem then adds that, "Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life, whether the question is who must be in the kitchen or who could be in the White House." Hmm, really? Racism is not as bad as sexism? Maybe Steinem is right but she needs to supply more evidence than a study saying we elect women less often than other countries. She continues:

Black men were given the vote a half-century before women of any race were allowed to mark a ballot.

Well yes, but black men who tried to vote faced various obstacles (pardon the euphemism), and continued facing those obstacles decades after women got the vote. The sentence is so obtuse as to be offensive. More:

What worries me is that she is accused of “playing the gender card” when citing the old boys’ club, while he is seen as unifying by citing civil rights confrontations.

Huh? Hillary cited the old boys' club in reference to the other candidates. As far as I know, Obama has never cited "civil rights confrontations" with his Democratic opponents. Finally:

What worries me is that some women, perhaps especially younger ones, hope to deny or escape the sexual caste system; thus Iowa women over 50 and 60, who disproportionately supported Senator Clinton, proved once again that women are the one group that grows more radical with age.

It's good to know that a vote for a sitting United States Senator, former First Lady, and perhaps the most famous woman on the planet now counts as "radical." Who would have known?

--Isaac Chotiner