WOMEN VOTERS: DUMB AND FLIGHTY

As counterpoint to an essay by anti-feminist woman who claims women to be intellectually inferior to men, editors of yesterday's Washington Post Outlook section ran a piece by a self-described feminist who describes women voters as fickle. Wow. I feel so much better.

The essay by Charlotte Allen of the anti-feminist Independent Women's Forum, offered this: Women swoon (particularly at Barack Obama rallies), have more automobile accidents, and can't do math.

The ostensible balance on the page was provided by Linda Hirshman, who asserted that Hillary Clinton's campaign is suffering because of the migration of "fickle" white women voters, particularly women from the "educated classes" (composed of women with college degrees) to Barack Obama's camp. According to Hirshman, this has to do with our seduction by Michelle Obama's Jimmy Choo shoes. That and the fact that we care little or nothing for the plight of the working-class woman.

Hirshman, who graduated from Cornell, first fails to recognize that the plight of many a college-educated woman is not dissimilar to that of a working-class woman. Just ask you local social worker. Or your college-educated administrative assistant. Hirshman also ignores other demographic indicators -- for example, age. Perhaps the migration of female voters has less to do with class than age: Obama's appeal among the young is already legend, and data seem to suggest that young women voters possess college degrees in greater numbers than women voters over the age of 50.

Hirshman is particularly peeved by a group of feminists who published a petition in support of Obama on the eve of the Super Tuesday primary contests, and seems to blame them for a more general drift of educated women toward Obama. (I'm sure these women could only wish for such power.) Singled out for special ire is The Nation's Katha Pollitt.

In championing the cause of working-class women, Hirshman shows a certain contempt for them in her assertion that foreign policy is a luxury concern of educated women. Tell that to the working-class women in the armed forces, or the millions who have family members fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Or the families of the janitors, waiters, and administrative staff who were killed on 9-11.

Aside from Pollitt and Clinton, only two other women are mentioned by name: Maria Shriver and Michelle Obama. The first is reduced to a description of her hair, and the other to a description of her shoes.

--Adele M. Stan

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