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Connecting the “isms” in politics

It strikes me that some feminists, such as Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan, in their righteous and right-on desire to defend Hillary against sexist attacks have implied that sexism is worse than racism and have re-opened the old “I’m more of a victim than you are” conversation. That didn’t work when Elizabeth Cady Stanton bitterly complained that freed black men got the right to vote before white women. It split movements for equality badly – for many years.

Similarly, it hurt all of us who care about justice when transgender concerns got left out of ENDA because it was more “important” to get rights for LG folks now and make “them” wait. I really appreciated that Kim Gandy’s “Below the Belt” column on this topic broadened the analysis beyond “they’re being mean to Hillary” to even see the ways that sexism has affected Obama and Edwards in the campaign too.

In the church I serve – where many folks are black, female and same-gender loving (as Yvette Flunder says, we are “justice issues with feet”) – it just doesn’t work to compartmentalize our struggles for equality and justice, we have to see the “isms” in intersection. Attacks against Hillary based on gender, attacks against Obama based on his “name” and perceived religion (and race will come – let’s hope not in a violent form) AND attacks on McCain based on his age are all attacks against our ability to see candidates in their best light and on their own merits, instead of through a twisted racist, sexist, ageist, colonialist mirror.

When feminists fight for women by minimizing other struggles for justice, we all lose.

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