Sisterhood Blog

Rebecca Traister on Women in Politics, Jews' Duty to Feminism

By Allison Gaudet Yarrow

  • Print
  • Share Share
Sarah Karnasiewicz
Rebecca Traister

Despite what you think you know about the 2008 presidential election, the recently released book “Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election That Changed Everything for American Women” (Free Press) by Salon.com senior writer Rebecca Traister, proves there is still much to learn. Allison Gaudet Yarrow asked Traister about her thoughts on the bitterness toward women during the election and about Jewish women’s duty to feminism.

Allison Gaudet Yarrow: Your book chronicles how the 2008 election reinvented women and power. What changed?

Rebecca Traister: Our sense of how women could behave in public and political life. Suddenly so many more models for public femininity are possible.

Why do American women want our female leaders to be better versions of ourselves, but when they’re not, we’re their harshest critics?

That women identify so much with women in politics and entertainment reflects the paucity of strong women we’ve had in the past. With Hillary Rodham Clinton in the early 1990s, there was a sense of: “I’ve never seen anybody who looks remotely like me. Therefore she looks just like me.” You could see the same thing with Sarah Palin. The young mother role had been unavailable to women in politics. When there are more women on the scene, that degree of identification will lessen.

In 2008, Michelle Obama was portrayed as emasculating. Now, feminists say she’s not doing enough.

[The Obamas] entered a presidential race in which their power dynamic seesawed. She made the remark about the first time she was proud of her country, and there was an incredibly racist and sexist response to that. The campaign repackaged Michelle as harmless, maternal, mall shopping. What made me sad was, it reflected the still-limited appetite for how a woman could become popular.

Do you think that Jewish women have a specific duty to feminism?

There is a natural intersection. The mix of challenges and oppressions that people face tend to heighten their awareness of being shut out of power.

Gloria Steinem says about women in politics, if we want to be loved we have to lose.” What must happen for women to win and be loved?

We have to have some of them win, and then [we will] realize that they’re in fact lovable.

Listen to a recording of the full interview here.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Sarah Palin, Salon, Rebecca Traister, Big Girls Don't Cry, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.