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feminsts and geeks

Linda Hirshman, of the infamous TPM Cafe “pink” slip, wrote an interesting piece on Taylor Marsh’s site about the impact of the 2008 election season on feminism. Apparently, Michelle Goldberg is trying to defend her choice of candidate by condemning the rest of us females for Clinton as hysterical feminists. I’m not sure where Linda is going with this but there is one notion I would like to dispel. There is a wide spread misperception that college educated females are flocking to Obama like bobby soxers to Elvis. This would be incorrect.

Yes, there are a certain number of college educated females that are doing this. But a good number of us are not. What sets the two groups apart is not our Jimmy Choo shoes, which I do not own a single pair, it is what we do for a living. I work with geeks. International geeks to be precise. You will never find a geek in Jimmy Choo shoes. No, we go to work each day in jeans and sweaters and live out our professional careers like permanent grad students. And our approach to evaluating the candidates is linked to our ability to evaluate data. We spend our working days listening to our colleagues give us presentations on the work that they have done. Over the years, we develop a keen ear for detecting who has quality work and who has pretty presentations but is BS-ing their way through 20 minutes. Our support for Clinton has less to do with her being a female and more to do with the quality of her presentation. And this makes her more desirable to me as a feminist. Feminism, to me, is about recognizing the quality and accomplishments of a *person* regardless of gender.

I work with a lot of asian females who are literally some of the best educated people on the planet. They are going for Clinton in high numbers. Now, a lot of people will say that this is anecdotal evidence. Not necessarily so. Where Clinton has won by decisive margins, like in CA and NJ, there is a higher than average population of asians and these people should be placed into the college educated category instead of split off into a separate ethnic group. What sets geeks off from the Obama women is our ability to see past style.

What I would find more interesting is how does the college educated vote break down by discipline. Do we find more soft humanities and business majors among the Obama supporters? Do we find more hard science majors or professions that require a high degree of logic among the Clintonistas? And let us not forget that some of the *real* bobby soxers for Elvis, who are modern day Clintonistas, did not have an opportunity to go to college, in spite of their native intelligence and desires. But that doesn’t mean they can’t spot BS when they see it.

29 Responses

  1. My 23 year old college educated daughter who is beyond hip, convinced me to go to Hillary after Edwards dropped out. Her eloquent arguments convinced a number of my friends as well.

  2. This 62 year old female attorney could make the substantive evaluation. Our 29 year old PhD candidate daughter did, too. (Although she says some hard core feminists in her department – psychology (Ha!) are BO fans.)

  3. There are a lot of Asians here in MA too. I wonder how much they had to do with Hillary’s win here?

  4. I have to admit that Obama gave a pretty good speech today. I wonder how it will play?

    At the same time, I am troubled that he didn’t take responsibility for his own campaign’s use of race and he didn’t deal with the sexism issue at all that I heard except one off-hand mention of the “glass ceiling.” I would have felt a lot better if he had dealt directly with Wright’s claim that Hillary has never had to work twice as hard as the competition to get noticed. Unfortunately, the media talking heads probably will not notice the omission of this discussion from the speech.

  5. Good call! My data-driven nose for presentational bullshit makes this a no-contest.

    Bad news! Dataphiles are a distinct minority.

  6. The speech was good but it all gets back to what disturbs me about Obama: Always try to say the right thing at the right time. Where has he been all this time? In fact he thought it would be enough to just hide Rev. Wright and there was an article in the NY Times to that effect.

    Let’s not forget that he told many lies all along, before coming up with this speech. Let’s stay he tried as much “triangulation” as he could get away with.

    Moreover, why have he and his wife, 2 very well to do AA, belong to such a militant church for 20 yrs?

  7. I like this, the geek vote. I am 23 and a law student, so I’m learning to be fluent in both logic and bullshit, and know which is which.

  8. ronk: Lol! So true. But it’s one of the reasons I switched to Clinton after I saw her in person at YK07. Dataphiles just *know*. They automatically sort through the presentations and check each assertion for consistency. No one else came close. And I really appreciated the fact that she wasn’t trying to appeal to me on an emotional level. That would have been a deal-breaker. Of course, other voters need that kind of appeal and she is more than capable of delivering it, as we saw in NH. But her foundation is solid. I didn’t see it to her degree in the other candidates.

    NABlue: Yes, it is a good speech. But it is unfortunately his own actions that necessitated it. If he hadn’t dragged race into the campaign to hurl against Clinton, Wright wouldn’t have bit him in the ass so badly. I’m not sure Wright is all that militant. I could see myself actually agreeing with much (but certainly not all) of what he says. But it doesn’t always play well in Peoria.

  9. What I want to know, is WHEN did Kerry & Kennedy & Dean know about this stuff. If it’s supposedly been “out there” — why didn’t I know about it? It’s been “out there”, but not really?

    And (what I want to know) is what about this speech is going to inoculate him from being Swift Boated over the specifics of what Pastor Wright has said (and the way he says it.)

    He says a lot of pretty words – and some that aren’t so pretty. And all the pretty TV people can tell us how magically he speaks. But will the magic last until November?

    In my opinion the audience for this speech is the voters who haven’t voted in primaries yet AND the Super Delegates. The rest of us by the very fact that we’ve voted are already committed.

    So: What do Mom and Pop Voter think after seeing & hearing the tapes and this speech? And What does Gov & Senator SuperD think at the same time?

    Having seen this speech, do they see a way forward to The White House for Obama? If they don’t? It’s time for a stampede.

  10. Oops!! that was posted to the wrong thread…. (sorry)

  11. I’m a pro-Hillary feminist (as you know!), and I’m pure liberal arts.

    In fact what amuses me so much about how the Obamabots describe themselves is that it fits me: I’m overly educated, a professional writer, and I’m the same age as Obama himself and a lot of the Blogger Boyz. If I were a pro-Obama guy I’d be a “young” “creative class” “high-information” voter. But because I’m a woman and I support Hillary, I’m just a stupid old bitch.

  12. I’m partly liberal arts (English degree) but by profession right now, a geek basically.

    I’d have taken my liberal arts background to be the reason why I found Obama’s rhetoric empty in the first place. But then, within that domain I was a philosophy/critical theory type so I pay a lot of attention to logic. What he says seems to me to be all founded on polar opposites that are pretty much caricatures of others and leaves completely ambiguous where he stands on things. It’s a neat trick. Sounds great.

    By the way, I don’t care for Jimmy Choos. I’d buy a pair of Louboutins if I had the money, for sure, and the jeans I just bought are J Brand, they’re great… Nothing wrong with being fashionable. 🙂

  13. Violet: From one stupid, old bitch to another, I feel your pain. I too am Obama’s age and had no idea that my college degree did not “educate” me and that I am now close to senility. If you are an Obama supporter like me, you are a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model with a PhD. If you are a Clintonista like me, you are Roseanne Barr.
    Too funny.

  14. daria-g: Geeks like to look nice too. It’s just that we’re not so much into status symbols. We don’t wrap our exteriors to show our worth in popular terms. And I only offer that soft humanities reference as a hypothetical. I just suspect that there are a lot of Obamaphiles who went to college but thought it was for networking purposes more than anything else.

  15. I don’t spend a lot of time analyzing raw data on this topic, but I too have questioned the representation that college educated people overwhelmingly support Obama. Of my husband, my sister, and I, my husband, with a BS, is the least educated (but makes the most money, sigh). We all strongly support Hillary.

    I think what really separates the Hillary supporters from Obama supporters is, as you point out, not eduational level, but the ability to detect the other kind of BS when you see it.

  16. Obama had no intention of giving this speech. It was done for purposes of damage control. He does not fool this 55 year old liberal arts major. I am sure Hillary’s people had the goods on Wright some time ago, but Hillary really does have a conscience and let this go. It is Obama who would say and do anything to get elected and this speech was necessary to repair major damage to his image.

  17. riverdaughter: cosign on status symbols. No logos.

    as far as social class in this primary, the one unspoken thing (mostly unspoken, unless you’re being a sh!thead over on daily kos) is that the voters for Hillary are mostly “low information voters” (as opposed to misinformation voters IMHO!) and uneducated and, frankly, racist – in the view of a lot of Obama supporters online, how else could they fail to be enlightened? and it also conveniently serves as the goal of the (false) narrative they’ve made up about Clinton race baiting. for a long time I was baffled completely as to what would be the point – and there WOULD be no point, in reality. but if you take as a baseline assumption that white, less-educated, working class voters are racist, all the pieces in this bogus narrative fit.

  18. daria-g: yep, there was no motive and nothing to be gained by Clinton playing the race card. It would have been completely uncharacteristic as well. Nothing in her past would account for a complete reversal of her previous actions. It could have only backfired on her. So, either she was incredibly stupid, which is unlikely or she didn’t do it in the first place. It was all manufactured. But anyway, the only people who seem to have fallen for it is AA and I don’t think even *they* believe it. They are just looking for a reason to vote for Obama that doesn’t make them feel guilty about abandoning the Clintons.

  19. “that white, less-educated, working class voters are racist,”

    And also the assumption that older, college educated white (and presumably Asian American and Latino, i guess) women are racist and voting for Clinton out of fear of “the big, black man” as kos types often flat out say. Of course embedded in that is the assumption that there is no possible rational reason to vote for Clinton.

  20. I think that young women are mistaking the freedom that they have in their personal and profeessional as evidence of cultural evolution rather than the protection that having sufficient income to hire legal representation in the event of discrimination guarantees. Lower income female workers probably have a much clearer idea of what Clinton is going through than your average mid-level attorney or manager does. That’s what I think this split is really about. Young women look at the wall Clinton is facing and find it much more comforting to think that she is somehow responsible for it (it was her vote for the AUMF – the warmonger! Never mind that no one busted Dodd or Biden’s chops over their votes) than to think that we are still stuck in a time where the simple fact of a female making a power move will greeted with raw, misogynistic thuggery.

    Either Hillary Clinton is a racist bitch than no one likes or the world is not nearly as open to women’s ascendence as all of us would like to believe it is – particularly the young, professional women supporting Obama. I think if Obama should some how or the other attain the White house, these women will have a very bad headache. I think he’s actively anti-feminist and will roll back Roe V Wade and Title IX and other moves forward. I am heartsick over his candidacy. I thought we were a better nation than this, and I thought Democrats were more reality based than this.

  21. That should say “personal and professional lives”.

  22. Online / = real life. APIA women for the most part love Clinton. Online APIA women are Obamabots. The online world supports Obama and Ron Paul, the real world supports Obama, Clinton and McCain. Time magazine stated APIA women’s support is related to Asian patriarchy.

  23. I found the speech convenient and lacking in substance. For some reason people are buying the line that this is a historic speech made at a crossroads for our country – no – in fact, it is a speech made to save Obama’s sorry ass after he didn’t have the political maturity, or plain ol’ common sense, to drop Rev. Wrong like the steaming pile of poo he is.

    I take comfort in knowing that the “speech” coverage will blow over and Pastorgate will continue to march on right down Main Street america and into every living room. I was pleased to see this morning that CNN was asking, was it enough. Their answer, no.

    Not only did Obama bring up race (I had no problems w/ the race issue, he did) but he has now made it a major issue that will destine his campaign to the dustheap.

  24. […] colleagues at work look at this kind of wonkishness in a recent post, “Feminists and Geeks”  https://riverdaughter.wordpress.com/2008/03/18/feminsts-and-geeks/ . We spend our working days listening to our colleagues give us presentations on the work that […]

  25. I’m a hardcore geek — MS in the hardest of hards ciences — physics. Passed my quals and then chewed my leg out of that trap and got into industry. The rampant, gleeful, all-out woman-hatred I ran into in that discipline meant that this overeducated young professional got disabused of any post-feminist fairyland delusions REAL YOUNG.

    There’s also the class issue at stake: I’ve got two BS degrees in astronomy and physics and one MS in physics, and a fairly well-paid white-collar job, but I am working-class through and through. The reason I have this resume is because of two Depression-era blue-collar parents working multiple jobs to enable me to work for it. That’s very often forgotten in any discussion of academics and the overeducated.

    I know of three other (white) women friends with geeky backgrounds. Two of us are for Hillary: me and the one whose family had to go on public assistance when she was younger. The two who grew up with money? Leaning toward Obama, albeit not at a very acute angle.

  26. I also have to chuckle at the way I’ve been roundfiled as well, mostly by feminist. I’m 42, and my youth was peppered with the music of Flock of Seagulls and Culture Club.

    But if I so much as breathe in favor of Hillary Clinton on a soi-disant feminist blog, I’m a raddled, dried-up Boomer mommy out to frustrate the younger set in their drive to get out on their own. *rolls eyes*

    It’s very educational, to have been first morphed into a middle-aged caricature by supposed feminists.

  27. janis: Welcome to the Geeky League of Stupid Old Bitches and Typical White People!

  28. Thanks. 🙂 If HRC wins the nom, I think I’ll ceberate by stopping hennaing my hair. 🙂 Let them greys stampede over my scalp like Clinton superdelegates …

  29. And just because I can’t shut up today — how the HELL could anyone imagine that anyone could look at Barack Obama and see the Big Black Boogeyman that supposedly haunts all our dreams? He looks like a big, skinny chess-club geek.

    Sorry, but I’ve known way too many black male Star Trek fans and gamer dorks to fall for THAT one. The twelfth or thirteenth skinny black guy you see dressed up like Spock, the old steretypes start shaking loose on you. o_O

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