Home > Favreaus, journalism, patriarchy, stereotypes > Why Matthews can NEVER get it right

Why Matthews can NEVER get it right

Ah, thank you Melissa:

Meanwhile, secretary of state Hillary Clinton was bestowed the coveted Hardball Award by Chris Matthews yesterday, who explained that Clinton “deserves and wins the award, our fifth, and the first to go to a woman, for displaying the arts and science of smart human behavior. They are, to remind you: personal moxie, savvy, basic street smarts, knowing the world you’re in, knowing what you have to do, and doing it. That’s what makes a Hardball Award winner.”

What also seems to make a Hardball Award winner, at least if you’re a woman, is your willingness to do the bidding of your party and your president – which, one suspects, is Matthews’ default expectation for “knowing the world you’re in, knowing what you have to do, and doing it.”

It isn’t Clinton’s moxie that Matthews shows in his clips as he presents his ludicrous award, but a clip from her Democratic Convention speech last year, where she defied the (totally absurd) expectation that she’d break the party in two before endorsing Barack Obama. Following is a clip of a speech from her first trip abroad as secretary of state, speaking not on her personal bailiwick, human rights, but about how much Indonesia means to President Obama.

What a good little girl, Matthews seems to say, as he delivers her pat on the head while adding a new twist to the rationale for choosing Clinton – not just “for grace under fire, personal moxie, courage,” but also “for a bit of timely humility. For most of all the willingness to serve our country over self. We salute you. And I salute you.”

Sure, she may have achieved massive career success, come closer than any other woman to winning the American presidency, delivered an iconic speech on women’s rights, attained admiration and respect from all over the world, raised a brilliant daughter, and inspired millions of women, but, more importantly, she can still defer to men with exemplary submissive obedience – or what would merely be called “doing your job” if Clinton were an equally powerful man whose ambition wouldn’t have been used to miscast him as a voraciously self-interested egomaniac.

The clear message to female politicians is this: You are not equal. You will be judged based on the way you look. Your success will not insulate you from our patronising commentary. You will be demeaned as we see fit. You will not be allowed to forget for a moment that you are women. No matter who you are or what you achieve, you are still just a woman.

Hillary’s positives have always gone way up just after she’s been humiliated by a man and taken it. She – and others before her – have been feted when they’ve confirmed to social expectations. Kajol gets SRK in KKHH only after she degrades from a sporty tomboy into a sexy sari-wearing nymphet, who loses in basketball to a remarkably un-athletic SRK. Amrita Rao’s character is noticed by Fardeen Khan in Main Hoon Na after she looses her braids, her attitude, her remarkable unique-ness and turns into a salwaar-kameez clad, straight-haired, revolting-pink-a-rella, thrusts her hips outward with every step, a caricature of Rakhee Sawant’s bimbo-character.

That’s exactly how patriarchy works – there’s not just a stick, but also a carrot for good behavior. That’s also how you train dogs – by rewarding them when they obey you.

Matthews, I hope a thousand fleas fly into your mouth today and that you drown in your own spit and die a dog’s death.

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