Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Meryl Streep must be a very intelligent woman to be such a good actress. So it was embarrassing to see her dressed in an American flag playing cheer leader for Hillary Clinton at the Democratic Convention. One must suppose that she is too busy studying for all her varied movie roles to have learned much about the sinister nature of Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy. She proclaimed that President Hillary Clinton would be “making history” simply by being a woman. That means symbolic history. The fact that President Hillary Clinton is more likely to make real history by starting another war even more disastrous than those she has already helped get us into seems not to have occurred to Meryl Streep.
Nor does it occur to millions of other American women who share the same illusion.
Those women are thinking too much in terms of symbols and images. They are ignoring the major issue facing the United States: whether to make peace or war. They don’t worry that the imminent conflict with the other major nuclear power, Russia, might affect themselves, their families, the world and the future. They feel that they will somehow personally benefit from the election of a woman to the U.S. Presidency.
The feminist idea behind this illusion is that by becoming President, Hillary will be “shattering the glass ceilings” – the invisible obstacles – that prevent women from rising to the top. Women everywhere will benefit – just as American blacks all benefited from the election of Barack Obama. Oops, wait a minute, did they really? What about the growing black prison population, or the unarmed blacks shot dead in the street by policemen? Never mind, it made many blacks feel good to have a black President, which is understandable given American history. But in concrete terms, it did nothing for the black population as a whole.
Women seek the same feel-good experience. They believe it will be provided by Hillary Clinton when she shatters the glass ceiling – “for you”, as Hillary likes to say.
But wait a minute. If it’s glass, you can’t see it, and to what extent is it really there? What about Christine Lagarde, the French woman who currently heads the International Monetary Fund? What about the fact that the current German Chancellor, the current British Prime Minister, the foreign minister of the European Union, and Meryl Streep herself have all pursued successful careers to the top?
Madeleine Albright, Samantha Power, Susan Rice, Loretta Lynch, Michele Flournoy do not seem to be standing in heaps of shattered glass. They have floated to the top with no more opposition than your average ambitious man – and perhaps with less.
In reality, hasn’t the “glass ceiling” preventing women from pursuing successful careers already been shattered, precisely by the current neoliberal world order which favors promoting women and token members of various ethnic groups? Isn’t it part of the strategy of neoliberalism to prove that modern capitalism enables the best to rise to the top, a circumstance that should win the adherence of all “identity groups” – whose self-identification has largely succeeded in wiping the old concept of class consciousness out of people’s minds? Isn’t this a main cause that is being promoted by George Soros’s Open Society Foundation and the National Endowment for Democracy all over the world (more about that in another article)? Doesn’t it help win public support for U.S. wars to have women in the front lines, proclaiming their devotion to “human rights”?
For most women, as for most blacks, when wages are low, their wages are low. When good housing or education is too expensive for most people, it’s too expensive for women. When spending for war ruins the economy, it’s their economy too.
The plain fact is that the successful careers of these ceiling breakers do nothing for the majority of women who are nowhere near any ceiling that needs to be broken.
It isn’t Hillary who is changing the system. Rather, it is the change in the system that promotes Hillary.
Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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