Tuesday, March 10, 2009

“Which more fervently permeates the fabric of American society, racism or sexism?”

After looking back at the 2008 election, I have realized how livid I am at the idea that society does not hold sexism to the same level of scrutiny as racism. The representation of the 2008 election by the media has demonstrated that it is more politically correct to be sexist than racist. Today American culture tolerates sexism to a degree at which it would never tolerate racism. Women have made significant strides in the recent presidential election. For instance, Senator Hilary Clinton became the first woman to ever win a state primary and Governor Sarah Palin became the first female Vice Presidential running mate on a Republican ticket. Even though some of us have differing opinions on either candidate, no one can deny the fact that both have made remarkable achievements for women. 
The campaigns during the 2008 election have catapulted widespread complaints about sexism and racism in the media and public perceptions. Senator Clinton definitely experienced harsh attacks by media commentators. The media has treated Sarah Palin unfairly as well, although not nearly to the same extent as Clinton. Our current President, Obama, couldn't escape the scrutiny from the media either. He was targeted by video pranks and his opponents displayed other disgusting forms of dislike. Looking at the attacks on Obama you can clearly tell that they were on the basis of race, although it was not as visible as attacks on CLinton for her gender. The question I would like to know is how come we did not see this kind of scrutiny portrayed upon John McCain?
The debate on wether American society is more racist than sexist began decades ago, when slave and women's suffragist Frederick Douglas and women's rights activist Elizabeth Stanton came to blows over the question. Although both activists advanced to rights for women and slaves, Stanton was outraged that black men were able to vote after the Civil War and women were not.
The New York Times reported in March that a poll revealed that "Americans think racism is a more serious problem than sexism in the U.S today. In a CBS News poll, a plurality of Americans, 42% said racism was a more serious problem for the country compared to 10% who said sexism was the more serious problem."
I believe that we have a greater problem with sexism in our country and the portrayal of women in the 2008 election was a prime example. Polls form the 2008 election show that white men still feel more comfortable sharing power with a man of color over a white or even possibly colored woman. The 15th Amendment to the Constitution, granting black men the right to cote, was ratified in 1870. Then 50 years later the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote on the federal level. 
I look forward to the time when racism and sexism are no longer factors in American politics. So far, the legacy of 2008 will remain as a progress for fighting racism while sexism will remain on the back burner of American minds. 

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