17 May 2008


Recently while surfing political blogs, I came upon the phrase, "the prison-house of masculinist framings of the subject [of the presidential electoral process]", advising that feminist true believers of Sen. Hilary Clinton should understand that if she were elected president, she could exercise power only to the extent that her program was masculinist (and thus be "imprisoned" by the masculinist framing of the exercise of power in America). The example of Margaret Thatcher's hyper-masculinist administration was proffered as proof.

My fear is that the word "white" must be interpolated immediately before "masculinist," so that the meaning acknowledges that the road to the White (prison?-)House is dualistically masculinist
AND white (at least for now). Can Sen. Obama avoid this dictum? How far must he travel down that same road, exhibiting both characteristics, to have real hope of electoral success?

However, on the (literal) face of it, I'd say Sen. Clinton IS less privileged than a black man running for the highest office, due to the nationalistic American ethos of masculine power. America, overall, it seems to me, wants and psychologically needs to see itself as the most powerful force on the Planet (witness its puerile exercise of power internationally).Thus a woman struggles electorally against this ethos, at least in some sectors of the American electorate.

Yet, I understand that, historically, black males were emasculated. I also observe that Sen. Clinton is patriarchalizing her image; but I thought the feminist movement was in part to allow freedom to choose one's identity (even a manufactured persona). Not so, evidently, in American politics.

So in context of the deep structure of American culture in terms of its self-concept re the exercise of power, the paramount question of the present presidential election cycle becomes, to what extent have black males overcome historical emasculation by American society compared to the degree that that same culture will allow a woman to masculinize herself--and get elected to the most powerful office in the world?

Sen. Clinton understands what it would have taken to get a woman elected president in America. Sen. Obama? Let's see what kind of road he must tread down. It's difficult to see that it will be the one of his own choosing. In
Sen. Obama's case, too, in this pessimistic view, the electoral path just might be a ride in a paddy wagon to an ideological prison house driven by what America thinks it needs.

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