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By Stephane Dunn


Thursday, October 02, 2008.


Perhaps that long time from then is now. In 1973, Ms. Magazine captured the historic significance of Shirley Chisholm’s run for president of the United States. She didn’t win, of course, but she disturbed the notion of the run for presidency as a white male domain.


Last week, the Feminist Majority and NOW (National Organization of Women) along with several other women’s organization announced their strong support of the Obama-Biden ticket. Feminist Majority Political Action Chair Ellie Smeal declared that “women simply cannot afford a President McCain.”


While gender has been in the swirl of public debate and media attention since Hilary Clinton entered the race for the Democratic nomination, the entrance of Sarah Palin into the high voltage political spotlight dramatizes the ways that the nation still fumbles at gender based dialogue.

The sexist overtones in the media attention on Palin’s appearance, gender and family, and the very significant visibility of the two major female candidates of the year-Clinton and Palin - as well as the manipulation of them by supporters have encouraged women to confuse real feminist representation and potential radical change with the visibility of a woman. The recently declared support of the Obama-Biden ticket by the Feminist Majority and NOW should be all over the news given the charges of sexism against Obama and the fact that “gender” like “race” is the hot word of this election year.

Finally, McCain’s and the Republicans’ weak pro-woman’s political empowerment front might finally be addressed as the group voices who have long labored for true radical social change and progress for women have a chance to be more visible in the media’s spotlight.


This has been one of the key problems with the talk about Palin, Clinton, women voters, and gender in general-much of it has taken place without seriously engaging the publications and the host of major organized women’s groups who do the work of unraveling gender in between election years and whether the candidates are male or female.

It might be too completely radical for some folks - women and men - to think that the ticket without an actual female on it might be the most progressive best choice for more women and men just as it might be too much for some to believe that the ticket with the black guy might indeed be the most rationale choice that America can make right now. When Chisholm ran, she knew that the stakes were higher than the actual win because one brave step has to be made for other steps to finally lead from a long time to a now.

With thanks to New Black Man


Dr Stephane Dunn is currently an Assistant Professor in the English Department at Atlanta, Georgia's Morehouse College. She has also taught at Ohio State University. A scholarly and creative writer, she specializes in film, popular culture, literature and African American studies. She is the author of articles and commentaries and the book, Baad Bitches & Sassy Supermamas: Black Power Action Films (University of Illinois Press 2008).


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