Well, if you did, you would obviously base your vote on Michelle’s original recipes verses Cindy’s plagiarized ones (cuz cooking is one of the main things women are good for besides opening their legs, popping out babies, and housework).
Or, you might consider their fashion know-how. But, how to weigh up Cindy’s Vogue pose in size zero jeans verses Michelle’s violet sheath dress? As Caren Bohan reports at Yahoo News, Cindy and Michelle are “both known for an elegant sense of style, lending glamour to their husbands’ campaigns.” Well, thank goodness for that. What is more important in a first lady than lending style and glamour to her supportive role as presidential arm candy?
For those of you who like a ‘traditional first lady,’ you may wish to cast your ballot for Cindy, a former rodeo queen and cheerleader who knows how to be properly submissive – or, as Bohan puts it “McCain’s deferential manner puts her in the company of more traditional first ladies such as Nancy Reagan and Laura Bush.” However, if you like good home-cooking alongside your deference, Cindy may not be your choice – at least not if what has been dubbed “Recipgate” is any indication of her cooking know-how. It seems Cindy’s “elegant and healthful offerings” were in fact lifted from the Food Network website. Oh well, should we expect a millionairress to get her nails dirty in the kitchen? Perhaps it should be enough that she is blonde haired and blue eyed (and did not ‘insult’ stay at home mothers as Hillary supposedly did some years ago with her infamous “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas” comment*).
No, Cindy seems to know her place, at least if the Times Online has it right:
Cindy McCain, now 53, claims she has no interest in policy making – “I am not the legislator in this family. He is” – and that she intends to keep busy running her charities and her family’s company.
Ah, thank goodness. Wouldn’t want her pretty little head getting all muddled up in politics. However, you may want to take Cindy’s apparent heavy handedness with the makeup into account before you make your final decision. According to John, she “plaster(s) on the makeup like a trollop.” John also calls her a “cunt,” so, despite her rodeo queen cheerleading looks, she may not be the model first lady after all. (for more on John’s use of the c word, see Jill’s post at feministe “Yes we cunt”)
As for Michelle, well, if you are looking for more of an Eleanor Roosevelt of Rosalynn Carter style first lady, she might be your woman. However, if you like a woman who keeps her mouth shut, Michelle isn’t the lady for you. As the Times Online notes,
At the beginning of the campaign, Michelle Obama had confessed that her husband was a mere mortal with sloppy housekeeping habits who was “stinky and snorey” to cuddle with. Her frank, only half-joking criticism was emasculating, critics said, and she quickly gave up that line.
Friends have told her to tone down her remarks and play up her patriotism, but she has an angular style that is difficult to subdue.
Ugh, difficult to subdue? Doesn’t sound like she deserves to don the Nancy Reagan role.
In all seriousness, the reporting tactics cited above should cause a national gag reflex. How is it that “recipegate” can be news? Who gives a flying fig what recipes these women (or their partners) fancy? Does your lemon shortbread know-how translate into how soon you will bring the troops home? Do those size zero jeans signify your dedication to mitigating world hunger? The stereotypical sexism is abhorrent here, too. When do you ever hear about a candidate’s husband’s cooking acumen or fashion know-how? Bill was perhaps the first male partner to garner so much focus due to his former presidential status. Needless to say, he didn’t do a Vogue photo shoot or wax poetic about his love of baking down-home meals.
In the latest battle of what Maureen Dowd calls “the sulfurous national game of kill the witch,” it seems the media has definitely decided Michelle is the wicked witch and Cindy is, if not the princess, at least the good witch. In fact, the attacks against Michelle are coming so fast and furious that a new blog named Michelle Obama Watch dedicates itself to tracking the media onslaught against her. Unsurprisingly, no such blog is needed for Cindy as she is not only a POWP (person of white privilege), but she is also a ‘properly submissive’ wife (at least according to the media).
Michelle, on the other hand, has opinions and states them. She does not defer to her spouse or act as if he is master of the domain. She is intelligent, erudite, well-spoken, and confident. She is, in other words, human (rather than a mannequin sidekick ala Nancy or a smiling robot ala Laura). Yet, as Cara at the Curvature writes, “Any candidate’s wife who doesn’t stand a polite ten paces behind her husband and keep her mouth shut except to smile gets this sexist shit. When you add race into the mix, it all gets multiplied, and we’re watching it happen right now.” Yes, multiplied into what Angry Black Bitch dubs “Fox baby mama fucktuptitude.” It is apparently ok when Fox calls black women ‘baby mama,’ but the term whitey is somehow deeply offensive. (see Jill’s post at feministe for more on this racist double standard)
In fact, the negative stereotypes surrounding black women are so pervasive that Diary of an Anxious Black Woman suggests Michelle’s dreadful double sin (she is a woman and she is black!) could undermine Obama’s campaign:
Obviously, there seems to be a certain kind of cognitive dissonance that takes place in which black women, regardless of who we are, cannot be separated from the main stereotypes that abound about our bodies. That has been our “burden of representation.” Michelle Obama, an Ivy League graduate, professional lawyer, respectable wife and mother, and potential First Lady, is somehow reduced to the “baby mama”/”video ho” that is currently in heavy rotation and circulation. This image is so thoroughly ingrained in our culture as the antithesis of the “All-American Girl/Woman/Lady” that it really could undermine Obama’s chances at winning the presidency – yes, more undermining than any scary black man image that has been in circulation.
So, it doesn’t matter if Cindy cut and pasted her recipes from the Food Network, it doesn’t matter about her shady tax returns or her practice of stealing drugs from charity. It doesn’t matter she demeans herself by standing by a man who calls her a cunt. What matters is that Michelle has black skin. That, in and of itself, makes her suspect in our white supremacist society.
Moreover, it doesn’t matter what these women have or have not accomplished because in the eyes of the mainstream media, they are suspect merely because they are women. As the sexist onslaught against Hillary made patently clear, our society is far from post-feminist. If our society had taken on the equality messages of feminism, women would not be focused on as the cookie baking wives of candidates (as in Parents magazine’s presidential cookie bake off contests) nor as the witches who shouldn’t be running in the first place.
I still wish I could vote for Elizabeth Edwards, Cynthia McKinney, Maxine Waters, or Cindy Sheehan for president–and I don’t give a flying toss whether they can bake a crunchy oatmeal cookie. I would prefer, however, that they did not wear size zero jeans. (I have a preference that people who eat regularly run the country – food does the brain good — ok, so some brains need more than food to run, but all brains, even those of the very tiny reptilian variety (ala Bush) run better with food).
So, as you go about your daily business of deciding which politicians deserve your vote, I hope you will also make note of (and complain about) the sexist and racist worldview the mainstream media offers you, even if you do like cookie recipes.