I made the decision to support Barack Obama months and months ago. I did so without hestitation or remorse right after I watched Bill Clinton's show after the South Carolina primary. My decision was cemented by the "It's 3 o'clock in the morning" ad. I simply did not consider that Hillary Clinton was the right candidate for the Democratic party.
I like to think of myself as a pretty clear-eyed feminist who knows sexism when she sees it and has learned a lot about how you fight and effect change. I still have scars to show for earlier battles..Perhaps for that reason, I have really resented the way Hillary Clinton used the sexist card when it behooved her. The effects of sexism are simply too painful to make it a "political bat" like I consider Hillary Clinton has done. But all the drumbeat over the past few weeks about how sexist this race has actually been has been making me ask, "what am I not seeing? What am I missing? Have I let myself be seduced by a pretty young man?"
This morning we wrapped up a diocesan conference/retreat I was required to attend. It was appropriate to celebrate the Eucharist. It had been put together to allow for some spontaneity, which by and large, is a good thing after a lot of conversation, engagement, work and community building. Except that, during the Peace, the 3 clergy who would be concelebrants were selected. All of them were men. And there we were, in a room where certainly half of the clergy participants were women. What the ^&%$???? The flash of anger that went through our small gathering was silent and incredibly polite. We simply carried it, like we always have. I forced myself to go up to receive communion after another woman clergy leaned over and said to me, "remember even if it's human hands that blessed, the blessing was still in the name of the Holy One".
One person ahead of me, another clergy sister, received bread and when it came time to take the chalice, someone indicated that she was to take the chaliceto finish giving communion. And when I received, I was given the paten to continue the distribution of the bread. Each time a woman stood before me, I fought back tears and said, "my sister, the Body of Christ" It took me a while before I found myself capable of saying to the men as they received, "my brother, the Body of Christ." And then, I had to face into the fact that all the facilitators of Conference were men (there had been 1 woman but she was not able to attend) and all of the "helpers" were women. I was and am so angry about having to deal with that old anger again.
I am still not willing to say that Hillary Clinton is losing in the quest to be the Democratic candidate because of sexism. But tonight, I feel real solidarity with the women who support her who see in what's happening, those old habits of a sexist culture that have kept us in our bad place for way too long. Rosa the "theoterrorist" of my seminary years claimed my body at the end of the Eucharist and I raised what had happened with the conference leader. I was even more pointed in my evaluation. We--women of all sizes, shapes and stripes, must continue to call it when we consider that a situation is being informed by sexism. Some of the time we may be wrong. But way too much of the time, we are still right.