“They want to control how we dress. They want to control how we act. They even control the decision we make about our own health and bodies.”
Are these the words of a woman fighting for freedom from Sharia Law, a woman oppressed by the Taliban? No. Yet, in the reverential tone of a seasoned stateswoman, they were spoken by our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, at the World Summit at Lincoln Center.
American women are told how they must dress? That statement is as specious as “There was no holocaust”! Her awkward implication that there is parity in American and Muslim dress codes for women is a startling example of disingenuous political practices.
As Secretary of State, Ms. Clinton is not expected to make statements pertaining to domestic matters. Yet, under the guise of global context, she could not resist the temptation to speak words clearly intended for domestic consumption. Her reference to dress was intended to rouse American women against the Republican Party’s opposition to mandatory distribution of contraceptives to religious organizations. Putting aside the issue of church and state, I think it’s important to highlight the underlying intent of her words.
Although voting blocs are a function of democracy, class warfare is a distinctly non-American social interaction. Significant deliberation of major issues is lost in the clamor of politically generated enmity between the young and the old, the rich and the poor and-most damaging-between men and women.
Prior to the 1970s, the female vote was somewhat monolithic and heavily concurred with the male vote. Since the 90s that has taken a huge turn for the better. The election of former President Clinton made it clear that apart from a few perennial gender proclivities, the women’s vote is largely determined by women who vote on politically androgynous issues.
As a result, political parties are intensely competitive for the female vote. Now somewhat blurred, that vote has intensified competition among parties for the female vote at every level of government. Hence, the brief but disingenuous allusion to women’s dress.
There is a humorous side to her choice of venue when she said, “They want to control how we dress.” I wasn’t in the Lincoln Center audience, but I can’t help imagining the diverse and exquisite clothing her adoring fans were wearing while applauding her speech!