Kay Steiger has responded to my and Matt Zeitlin’s criticism of her “Hillary is experienced for a woman” post. Matt ably dispatches most of her rebuttals, but there are a few things I want to note. Like this:
The fact that my post engendered such a vehement no suggests that women face endless challenges when it comes to the merging of public and private lives.
Yeah, I just secretly hate female politicians. Absolutely. It’s nice to know that we can have a debate over a major presidential candidate’s argument that she’s the most experienced contender without resorting to petty accusations of sexism.
But that’s not the worst part of the response. Oh, if only that were the worst part:
I don’t expect female candidates for president to be held to “lower standards,” but rather I asked a question. What does count? The answer was overwhelmingly in favor of the existing paradigm.
Here’s what Steiger wrote in her first post:
I’m not saying that Clinton’s experience as a first lady qualifies her to be a presidential candidate — there are plenty of legitimate reasons to pick on Clinton — but it does beg the question: If women are barely represented in high-level offices, how are they supposed to “qualify” themselves for a presidential run?
It’s pretty clear, from this question, that Steiger was saying there must be some way other than holding a “high-level office” for a woman to qualify herself for the presidency. Simply put, Steiger did call for female candidates to be held to “lower standards”, as I put it in my response to her first post, or at least different standards. I think it would require a pretty strained reading of her words to come to a different conclusion.
One last thing:
[M]y post on Hilary Clinton’s first lady experience brought about exactly the reaction I might have expected: the assumption that I desire Clinton to win the candidacy and the presidency because my vote as a feminist means I will throw my support behind whatever woman approaches spitting distance.
Let’s just be clear about one thing: I do no such thing.
Yes she does. Again, let’s return to her original post:
Hillary Clinton has great experience for a woman. There are few women as qualified as Hillary Clinton for a candidacy. There’s a smattering of female governors, a mere 16 female senators (two of whom were elected in 2006 midterm elections), and a handful of high-ranking and high-profile secretaries. There just aren’t a lot of “qualified” women to pull candidates from.
Now, the only reason anyone would ever care about if a candidate’s experienced “for a woman” is if one wants to elect a woman to begin with. It makes perfect sense to read this paragraph – as I and most TAPPED readers did – as saying that Steiger wants to elect a woman as president, and thus compares the female candidate in the race’s experience not to the other (male) candidates in the race, but to other female politicians. That comparison isn’t at all relevant if one is interesting in electing the best president. It is relevant if one wants, above all else, to elect a woman. I don’t want that. The above paragraph strongly implies that Steiger does.