As you probably know by now, Barack Obama triumphed over Hillary Clinton in the ever-important Virginia primary. A couple of days before the primary, my sister-in-law Julie Carey -- a veteran reporter for DC-area NBC affiliate Channel Four -- sat down for a one-on-one interview with Obama. You can watch the interview, in two parts, on the NBC4.com website. Sadly, the camera never pans to Julie, but the most important part remains: I'm one degree of separation from Obama now. And lest I get accused of currying favor, I've also been meaning to provide a link to this story, which ran last week on NPR's Day to Day. It's an interview with legendary political activist Robin Morgan, whose 1970 essay "Goodbye to All That" became a famous text in the drive to end politics as usual in this country, particularly where gender issues were concerned. Morgan has since penned a follow-up essay, entitled "Goodbye to All That (#2)," which calls for another look at the double-standard that exists in this campaign between the way women politicians are covered in the media, compared to their male counterparts.
One of the most jarring incidents Morgan points to in the NPR piece is the heckling of Hillary Clinton last night during a speech in the beltway. The senator was disrupted by a man who called out, "Iron my shirt!" As Morgan points out, the incident was covered and repeated -- often with amusement -- in the media in the days that follow. However, Morgan posits that there would have been a vastly different reaction had it been Obama on stage and a heckler cried out, "Shine my shoes!" It's a simple illustration of a really salient point -- that we, as a nation, will tolerate gender discrimination when a similar inicidence of racial discrimination would have caused riots.
As evolved as we like to think we are, Morgan's new essay -- which has been widely circulated via email -- is an important one for our times. It's uncomfortable -- and perhaps especially so for women -- to be reminded of and to acknowledge how far we haven't come in the area of gender and politics. You don't have to be a fan of Hillary Clinton's to appreciate what Morgan's essay has to say -- merely a proponent of equality along gender lines.