So goes the double bind

Rebecca Solnit is seeing a lot of unconscious bias going on:

I’ve just spent a month watching white male people in particular arguing about who has charisma or relatability or electability. They speak as if these were objective qualities, and as if their own particular take on them was truth or fact rather than taste, and as if what white men like is what everyone likes or white men are who matters, which is maybe a hangover from the long ugly era when only white men voted. It’s a form of self-confidence that verges on lunacy, because one of the definitions of that condition is the inability to distinguish between subjective feelings and objective realities.

She points out that a lot of male pundits “whose misogyny helped shape the race” in 2016 were later accused of sexual harassment.

Meanwhile, the New York Times in all its august unbearability just published this prize sentence in a piece about Joe Biden’s failure to offer Anita Hill an apology she found adequate: “Many former Judiciary Committee aides and other people who participated did not want to talk on the record because they feared that scrutiny of Mr. Biden’s past conduct would undermine the campaign of the candidate some think could be best positioned to defeat President Trump, whose treatment of women is a huge issue for Democrats.” That translates as, let’s run a guy whose treatment of women is an issue, and let’s ignore that treatment because even so we think that he’s best positioned to defeat the guy whose treatment of women is an issue, and also fuck treatment of women, especially this black woman, as an issue, really.

The trouble is, you see, that women lack charisma. Sad but true. Men have explained that to Solnit.

A friend of mine posted some praise of Elizabeth Warren, and a man jumped in to say, “It’s a moot point because she’s not going to get into office. With any luck Bernie Sanders is going to do that.” I’ve heard a lot of white men explain that Warren can’t win because she’s wonky, and then when I mention that our last two Democratic presidents were famously wonky, I get to hear why they had charisma and Warren doesn’t.

It’s almost as if, to a lot of men, unless a female person is 19 or under and smokin’ hot, she’s repellent. Too wonky, not charismatic enough, too smart, not relatable enough…just wrong, somehow. Them’s the rules.

What makes a candidate electable is in part how much positive coverage they get, and how much positive coverage they get is tied to how the media powers decide who is electable, and so goes the double bind.

The media powers aren’t always the right people to be deciding who is electable. (That’s deliberate understatement, of an extreme kind.)

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