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Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuit- Revisited. 

The Washington Post ran a series of articles analyzing the Women’s March and Sister Marches trying to determine if the protest has staying power. But what about the reason we marched in the first place?  

2016 was the second time I campaigned for Hillary Clinton and lost. Both times were very painful experiences. The scenario is all too familiar. Her male opponent gets the prize while she wins the popular vote in both cases. 

This time we were so close. I started the day convinced that the next day, I would walk a little taller and that I could trust Clinton to steer the ship back into the future. 

What I didn’t get is why so many women didn’t see it that way. Why was the best candidate we ever had defeated by the worst who just happened to have a penis?  The other day, I reread The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuit that made me notorious back in 2008 and while the outcome didn’t turn out like I’d planned, I’m more optimistic now that it won’t be just women who will get the next Hillary or Kirsten or Tammy to the White House. Hillary’s strong popular vote win included many male voters, some of whom I canvassed, who were impressed by her credentials and intelligence. 

Yes, it still hurts. But this post channels something about our experience as women that gets to the heart of why we march. 

Disclaimer: I’m not into nail maintenance or Cosmos and I could only get through one chapter of Rebecca Wells’ first ya-ya book. The snark is strong in this one. 

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pantsuit

Posted on January 19, 2008 by riverdaughter | Edit

There I was on Thursday night, letting my Sandstone Pearl toenails dry while I reread one of Rebecca Wells Ya-ya books and trying to decide whether to watch Steel Magnolias or Terms of Endearment on the DVD, when I heard a familiar voice coming from the background noise of the Democratic Presidential Debate that I use to relax.”Campbell”, it said.Hmmm, there was something very knowing and mysterious about that voice. So, I backed up the DVR and replayed it.

There was Hillary Clinton in her light gray tweedy jacket and asbestos pants (and great makeup, by the way) gently chiding the gravid Campbell Brown.And it suddenly occurred to me: Karl Rove must be sweating big time. It will be so much harder to suppress the female voters than the African-American voters. Someone might notice. 

I mean, sure Campbell Brown is married to former Iraq CPA official, Dan Senor. Sure, she’s bought into the Villager cocktail party circuit, where they are no doubt planning her baby shower complete with Peg Perego stroller with a mini-bar, reclining seat and internet connection for the little tyke.

But when Hillary said, “Campbell”, we women instantly recognized the voice of authority of the high priestess reminding the backslid acolyte of her obligations to her sex. (Note to self: buy new candles for the altar and perform the rites tonight in the nude.)

I sipped my Cosmo pensively. I’m very concerned about Tweety. He will be so exorcised over this in the next week that if he doesn’t speak fast enough, he will surely drown in his own spit. The “He Man Women Haters Club” has no place for an upstart girl who will want to come in and reupholster the chairs in a Laura Ashley floral. There is no room in the tree house.

But Tweety has nothing to fear, really.

No, just because every woman can remember some time in her life when she was given a little less attention than the boys in math class or got less praise than Raymond C. Persic in Organic Chemistry (Nyah-Nyah, scored higher than you on the ACS exam), that doesn’t mean anything.

Or all of the times when our ex-boyfriends and ex-husbands called us “bitch” and “c$^t” when we dared to assert our rights. Or the times that our bosses gave the one raise in the department to a guy with a newborn- year after year after year, there’s no reason to think we might want to level the playing field.

Or the fathers who preferred our brother’s company after we became adolescents. Or all of the family members who told us we could never succeed in science or medicine or law because we were the first in our families to want to go to college and it was too much money to spend on a girl who was probably going to get married anyway, perish the thought of righteous indignation.

Or the husbands who questioned our expenses, by saying, “What did you spend your allowance on anyway?!” (You women my mother’s age know what I’m talking about.) Or just because of the men who said, “*I* make the money, I make the rules!”, we are not looking for a champion.

Or the church elders who chastised our skirt lengths while we were going through a growth spurt, simultaneously staring at our shapely calves and thighs. Or the priests and bishops and fundamentalists who condemned us to hell for having SEX out of WEDLOCK while setting the terms of that wedlock to be perpetual obedience to our husbands, does not mean that we have any expectation that a manly God will exact justice on our behalf.

No, Tweety, you have nothing to worry about. Do not be troubled that we might want to exercise a little authority, assert our rights, seek vengeance or see one of our own, who seems to know what the fuck she’s doing, succeed to the most powerful position on earth.

It’s not like Hillary Clinton is a personification of a pagan moon goddess who is going to re-establish our supremacy through some matriarchal social system, even if that did kinda work out for us. Ha-ha-ha!, that is so silly of you. I mean, there’s no reason to vote for her because she’s a girl

No, that would be petty and anachronistic and un-Christian and speaks of gender identity politics and that is soooo outre. We aren’t out to settle the score for the millenia of mistreatment and disrespect. Perish the thought!

Then again, I did detect a little glisten in Campbell’s eye. Just a little one. I saw it. And if I’m right about these things, Dan will completely miss it as Campbell gently kisses him on the lips and pinches the baby’s cheek just before she steps into that voting booth next year to worship at the Temple of the Sisterhood. 

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17 Responses

  1. Hillary’s strong popular vote win included many male voters, some of whom I canvassed, who were impressed by her credentials and intelligence.

    Totally agree with this and we have to foster that bloc (if not already) and never leave them out of the equation. Every woman has a father, or a husband or some male in her life who does not take patriarchy seriously and puts her future first. I am who I am because of my father. I am also who I am because of the man I married. He was told by my dad before we were married that I was pretty serious about my career and then later, when it came time to talk about making babies, he said ‘it is your body, your decision,’ — 80s India, no less. Some people may say what have you to show for, which may not be much but I lived my life on my own terms.

    Remember the TED talk by Carter when he concluded that we are having woman problems still because men just don’t give a damn. The aggressor and the inadvertent hoarder has to to give up their advantage to make room for new, sometimes forcibly by law like ending slavery or ending discrimination but it has to happen. There are laws on the books but what will change this status quo? My gut feeling is that we had the numbers but somehow we were robbed in this election. I want to say, no more playing nice, but what would that entail?

  2. Ah,how I have missed the Sisterhood..guess we have a new one now,minus our champion,Hillary.
    But let us take a moment to review how right Hillary was/is about Trump.
    1) Temperamentally unfit for the presidency. Check
    2) Will bring us to the brink of war. Check
    3) Incompetent Check
    4) Will enrich his wealthy friends. Check
    5) Will disenfranchise women and minorities. Check
    6) A Russian puppet Check

    Maybe Time magazine was right..she is the Moses of our time;prophetic,a remarkable leader who conducts her people to the Promised land..but never makes it there herself. Somehow,though I think Hillary accepts her role..not that she’ll EVER,EVER stop fighting for all of us.
    I miss her,too.

  3. Just wanted to leave this here. It’s already started again. My friend posted a meme about Kirsten Gillibrand being the only one voting against all the Trump picks and for us to remember this. The entire thread filled up with male posters he didn’t even know, all calling Gillibrand “bitch” for one reason or another.

    • Like we give a fuck.

    • To the dudebroz Prowlerz mentioned:

      Speaking as a fellow Empeckered-American, would you clods please STFU. You lot give the rest of us a bad reputation. Harrumph.

    • Gillibrand in 2020? who knows? The fight of your lifetime is now. Impeachment. If Trump is not removed from office, America will become like Russia or China or Iran. Just saw that Iranian movie The Salesman and I think it is shot in Tehran. What surprised me was how poor the country is and on top of that theocracy. I am used to thinking of Iran as rich people with most women throwing 25K dollars for their nose job. I guess I should educate myself. But for Americans, I say travel and look around and see how good you have it here before you lose it. Kleptocracy. theocracy, anti-secularism are all very bad ideas.

    • Two things:

      1. A lot of that could be troll comments, in order to sow strife and division.
      2. I find a lot of sexism among young males. It’s surprising and really unsettling.

  4. I really like this post and why?
    It’s important to keep talking that Hillary WON and -as you said it, twice.

    To point that our country’s culture is misogynist and a patriarchal society at large, should not be taken lightly and forgotten.
    Charge on…

  5. Hillary won! Hillary won! Hillary won! And, my God, how weird it is that immediately everyone said she would never run again. Here’s my (well-supported, IMO, but then again, I am a woman… arghh…) two cents on what happened: UpholdTheseRights.com/SexistElection.html

  6. From The Daily Banter:

    People Will Die Because of Trump

    While all this was going on, incidentally, at the exact time that our SEALs were fighting for their lives in Yemen, Donald Trump wasn’t in the Situation Room. He was in the White House residence — trolling The New York Times on Twitter. Really. Imagine for a moment that it was a Democratic president who did something like that. Can you already picture the Articles of Impeachment in your mind?

  7. Alex Jones derps out yet again. 😛

  8. Looking back on it, Occupy Wall street was wrong. It should have been Occupy the News Media. In 2000 the print and broadcast news media gave us Bush the Lesser and 911 over Al Gore. They were low key in 2008 lest they be called out for racism. They were back in full force in 2016 trashing candidate Hillary Clinton with abandon. Isn’t it time we made the news media fear us more than they love republican payola?

  9. Love ya, darlin’.

  10. This is a truly excellent article that helped me understand why a lot of women voted for Trump: http://www.vox.com/identities/2016/11/15/13571478/trump-president-sexual-assault-sexism-misogyny-won

    They don’t even know what they are buying into–something quite appealing to many on its surface: benevolent sexism. Largely borne out of an inability to calculate ones own self worth accurately, maybe (my two cents). Education efforts should focus on deconstructing this for them.

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