Yes, (Linda Hirshman) allows, “maybe Obama is the best candidate, and these highly educated women, with their greater political savvy, have recognised his value.” But then she spends the rest of the column pondering other, apparently more likely answers. Maybe, she suggests, pro-Obama voters are elitists who can’t relate to their less fortunate, Clinton-voting sisters. “Or,” she writes, “it could just be that women with more education (and more money) relate on a subconscious level to the young and handsome Barack and Michelle Obama, with their white-porticoed mansion in one of the cooler Chicago neighbourhoods and her Jimmy Choo shoes.” Perhaps women are just cowed by Obama’s cultish supporters. Writes Hirshman: “It’s well established social science that women on the whole are much more averse to political conflict than men are, so it’s fair to speculate that avoiding that gantlet may be one more reason women are tilting toward Obama.”
Get that? Like the pseudo-populist demagogues of the right, Hirshman presumes a virtuous authenticity in the political sympathies of the less educated, and something vaguely perverse in the choices of the learned. This is, of course, the same tactic the Republicans have used to systematically devalue knowledge and expertise over the last eight ungodly years.
Yes, aging women in the US are treated with unbridled contempt. But this contempt has very, very little to do with calls for Clinton not to tear the Democratic party apart, given that she’s extremely unlikely to win a majority of pledged delegates or the popular vote. If the roles were reversed, if Obama were behind by every metric, Clinton would have been coroneted by now, and the cry for her opponent to get out and quit being a spoiler would be deafening. Gender injustice is a gross, epidemic problem, resulting in more human rights violations worldwide than any other iniquity. But gender injustice does not explain what’s going on here. To insist that it does is crude projection.