Posted Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2009, at 8:40 AM
Noreen, you make a good point about Sec. Clinton’s reaction to a Congolese man who asked her about Bill Clinton's thoughts on a potential loan from China to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Yet I’m hard pressed to believe that many people in the Washington cocktail set would be so impolitic, or clueless, to exhibit anything remotely close to such condescension and sexism. After watching her campaign for the presidency last year, is there really any one left in the U.S. who doesn’t believe she can hold her own on weighty matters?
I was not the least bit bothered by Hillary Clinton’s tone or reaction (whew, was she angry), though I bet after watching herself on YouTube she might wish she had come off a bit more diplomatically. And I don’t care if the original question was supposedly flubbed by the Congolese translator, who was a woman by the way. Clearly either the questioner or the translator mistakenly thought that Bill was the real brain behind Hillary and that his opinion on policy matters was more important than hers. Unfortunately this kind of attitude is common among African, Latin American, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, and South Asian men (and all the others I’ve left out), especially those in positions of power. What’s sadder is that many women in these regions have become so accustomed to such thinking that they believe it to be true as well.
Sometimes a well-timed and undiplomatic tongue-lashing is called for to make patriarchal politicans think twice before speaking, or at least remind them that sometimes it’s better to bite their stupid, sexist tongues. It’s also a good example for women who live in these patriarchal societies that they don’t have to stand for such outdated cultural notions. Hillary’s comments were a very effective verbal kick-in-the-butt response to a very offensive foot-in-the-mouth question. I say, "You go girl!"