I’ve posted these photos hoping to illustrate some of the points I (and Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem) and others have been making about the way Hillary Clinton is being treated because she is a woman as opposed to the way Barack Obama is being treated because he is biracial/black. That discussion is here, and in particular, the photos above are meant to accompany what I said as follows:
…if Obama were a black woman running against Clinton, I think it would be completely and totally wrong to compare the sexist treatment of Clinton as against the racist treatment of Obama (if Obama were a woman), or even to juxtapose the sexist treatment of Clinton as against the racist treatment of a (woman) Obama, because the sexism to which a (female) Obama would be subjected would be completely informed by racism in a way the sexism against Clinton would never be, so to bracket sexist treatment of a white woman off against racist treatment of a black woman would make the black woman’s experience of both at the same time invisible. It would be oppressive and insulting and just wrong. All the racism she experiences is also sexist, and all the sexism she experiences is also racist. The white woman experiences sexism only.
But Obama is not a woman, he’s a man. And that makes all the difference in the world. His being (somewhat, or comparatively) exempted from racist treatment is important because he is *completely* exempted from sexist treatment because he is a man (omitting, for the moment, a discussion of racism, including against men, as a form of sexism). Whereas Hillary Clinton is completely and totally subjected to open and unapologetic sexist treatment, Obama is subjected, again, to zero sexist treatment. For this reason, the comparison and juxtaposition is in my mind apt. When we talk about the racism Obama is subjected to, it is never going to be informed by sexism, such that we make the one invisible by highlighting the other, as is the case with women of color.
Condoleeza Rice is the first black woman to serve as Secretary of State. Before that, she was a political science professor at Stanford. I think it makes sense to compare the way she has been treated by the media, by opponents, by sexists and racists (even though she never ran for public office, just as a matter of course) and the way Barack Obama is being treated and the way Hillary Clinton is being treated. I think this treatment offers some pretty interesting insights into the connections between sexism and racism.