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2008

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Dear Mr. Obama

Sandra Larkin

Congratulations.   You weren’t my candidate, not my first choice, not my second choice.   Now you’re the Democratic nominee.   You’re the only thing that stands between me and another four years of disastrous Republican rule.

You’re still not my candidate.   You still need to earn my support.

I’d be waving banners for you and putting Obama signs on my lawn if I thought you had won fair and square, on the basis of having a better policy and a stronger plan for rescuing my country from the mire we’ve been sinking into for eight years.  I’ll admit I’m impressed by the way you’ve moved us a little further past  our racist history; the way you’ve proved that the mere fact of African ancestry can no longer prevent a man from becoming a presidential candidate.

But I’m disgusted by the fact that being a woman still can.  I’m disgusted by the way the media, the pundits, and the candidates used every sexist, misogynist stereotype in the books against Hillary Clinton.  So much of the criticism of her had nothing to do with her record, her policies, her experience or her skills.   She was attacked, repeatedly, not as a candidate, but as a woman.   She was not taken seriously as a candidate because she is a woman.    And you participated in this.

If you don’t want to believe me,  let me refer you to the website Shakesville and its “Hillary Sexism Watch” series of posts, which presents one hundred and four separate examples between  September 2007 and May 2008.

One hundred and four.   Read every one of them before you tell me sexism isn’t a problem.

You spoke out about racism.  Did you say anything about sexism?  One word?  Because let me tell you, sexism is every bit as deeply rooted, vicious, poisonous and pervasive as sexism, and it’s every bit as wrong.   (Oh, and by the way, sexism affects African-Americans too,  half of whom happen to be women.)

I am deeply angry at the sexist, misogynist tone that has pervaded this campaign.  I am deeply angry that Hillary Clinton was never afforded the sort of respect or serious consideration she would have gotten if she was a man.  And I am deeply angry at you, for playing along with this.

Do you want my respect?  Do you want my vote, and that of the many, many women in this country who  are as angry as I am?

Then it’s time reach out to Hillary Clinton, and her supporters, and me.  It’s time to make a speech condemning sexism and misogyny the way you condemned racism.  It’s time to pledge that the issues that concern women will not be ignored by your administration.  It’s time to promise that women will be represented in your cabinet and have a voice in your government.  

Do not take me and my vote for granted,  Mr. Obama.   I know the Democratic party has taken the African-American vote for granted for the past fifty years; do you plan to do the same with the feminists?  Because if you do, you’re going to lose, and angry as I am, I don’t want to see that happen.

I am a woman, and you have some work to do to earn my respect and my vote.