James Wolcott has an unbelievably good post on why women like Cindy Sheehan are so threatening. Here’s a great part of it:
But I think there’s something else festering in the mind of Sheehan’s slimers: our old friends Rampant Sexism and Snobbish Classism. Men in authority, and those opinonmakers who polish that authority to a fine shine with their diligent tongues, resent being questioned by women. They consider it nagging, and nagging reminds them of their mother or wife, or a wife that reminds them of their mother.
“Bush’s self-deprecating humor was evident throughout the lengthy interview. ‘Why would you want to marry a weak woman?’ he asks rhetorically, at one point. ‘I was attracted to Laura because of her strength — her beauty and her strength. And my mother? I didn’t have any choice with her.'”
A very double-edged comment from Bush, lending credence to the suspicion that men who take public pride in declaring they’re comfortable around strong women are blowing smoke. They may be conning themselves as much as they’re trying to con us, but the truth is that the strong women they respect are those who play by men’s rules. Who know just how far to “push it” before they back off.
Many men respect strong women in a professional capacity, and have no problem with being part of a power couple. But “power” is the operative word.
Men in positions of authority are less threatened by a Condi Rice or Hillary Clinton or Lynne Cheney or Ann Coulter or Michelle Malkin than they are by–well, we’ll get to that. Point is, women who play by power rules and fit into the power grid are granted starring roles in political theater. The others are extras and should stay on the sidelines where they belong.
It’s women who aren’t on the power grid and refuse to stay on the sidelines who get mocked and derided as nags, scolds, and “emotional predators” (to use the disgusting Edmund Morris’s sneer phrase). Who, having made their point, should stifle themselves, as Archie Bunker so often told Edith.
Consider how many of the corporate whistleblowers were women trying to be heard above the clubbish din of male executives and who had the courage to go up against the .* Or Coleen Rowley, the FBI whistleblower who sounded the alarm about Zacarias Moussaui, and for her audacity to write a follow-up memo about anti-terrorist strategy and tactics was called “a fool” by National Review Online’s Ramesh Ponnuru.
In fact, pause here and read Ponnuru’s entire post from March, 2003. Knowing what we know now about Iraq, WMDs, and the efficacy of the Bush doctrine of preemptive war, who’s the fool?
Or consider the 9/11 widows, particularly the “Jersey Girls.” At first the support and sympathy for their campaign for a 9/11 commission to investigate the unanswered questions and security failures of that day were near universal. But when they kept pushing and prodding, refusing to go away and take no for an answer, the attack poodles turned on them for being publicity gluttons “awash in their sense of victim entitlement.” How dare they use their mourning to make demands? How dare they mobilize their grief and frustration into a truth campaign?
So, too, is Cindy Sheehan accused of exploiting her own victim mentality–found guilty of refusing to take the hint and get lost. Of being a public nuisance. It’s bad manners for her to hang around longer than Edmund Morris and Bill O’Reilly deem appropriate. Bad manners for her to be so unslick and unschooled in soundbite banter. Bad manners for a mere lowly citizen to question the decisions of the country’s leaders, and to insist on a personal accounting, a meeting that would require the president to respond as a responsible leader and not as a swaggering war president showing off his big belt buckle as he moseys up to the mike. Cindy Sheehan’s sin is asking Bush to stop playacting, step out of his stilted role, and speak to her like an honest human being.
there’s a word missing in Wolcott’s post! Actually, it’s probably just the letter ‘m’: “them”)