Women’s Rights & Trivialities

So, as I think everyone knows by now, Hillary Clinton got a little peeved in the Congo recently and there’s been some debate about whether she was “diplomatic” enough in her response. So far, that seems fair enough (although as plenty of feminists out in the blogosphere have pointed out, she really was in the classic “between a rock and a hard place” position in that situation). This debate is not my point, however.

What is my point is how quickly this conversation went to the lowest possible level by focusing on Clinton’s appearance. Both Andrea Mitchell and Tina Brown attribute Clinton’s response to a “bad hair day” and then Tina Brown claimed that Clinton needs to “go back to the gym.” As Judith Warner points out in the New York Times, what is so depressing about the way this incident has been treated is that it obscures the real, groundbreaking work Clinton is trying to accomplish with her “pledge . . . to make women’s issues ‘central’ to U.S. foreign policy, not ‘adjunct or auxiliary or in any way lesser.’ “
And indeed, while there has been endless speculation in the media about what might have caused Clinton’s “bad temper,” there has been almost no dicussion about the reason for her trip to the Congo, namely, the mass rapes that have been happening there for over a decade. Once again, discussion of a woman’s appearance is overshadowing the real issue at hand, violence against women. And that really is a shame.
Finally, if you want to learn more about what is happening in Congo and what you can do to help, visit V-Day’s site devoted to the Congo. The Women’s Center is also available to present a teach-in to your group. Just contact us to request a teach-in.

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