Rep. Michele Bachmann dropped out of the GOP presidential race this morning, after placing nearly last place in yesterday’s Iowa caucus. Bachmann will return to focusing her energies in Congress, where she represents the state of Minnesota, telling reporters today, “I will continue to fight to defeat the president’s agenda of socialism.”
The world will be calmer place for me, at least, without the mainstream media’s constant attention to Bachmann’s sexist and homophobic word vomit, like the time she said her daughters were not allowed to ask boys out on dates because only boys can do that; the time she called the morning-after pill and the abortion pill the same thing; the time she said she met someone whose child became mentally retarded because of the HPV vaccine; or the time she joked about so-called “ex-gay therapy.” Yes, there will be a lot less hairpull-inducing idiocy indeed.
However, it is worth asking, as a feminist, to what degree sexism played a factor in Michele Bachmann’s failure of a campaign. The iconic feminist Gloria Steinem has always said that whenever a woman finally becomes president in America, she will be an arch-conservative — i.e., this country would simply not elect a progressive-minded woman. To that end, Bachmann was in a bizarre bind: she was supported by conservative fringe in the Republican Party in part because she didn’t challenge any of their anti-women or anti-gay beliefs, but she also would never have been elected by such sexist people. As Jezebel blogger Erin Gloria Ryan put it:
… [I]sn’t that the Catch-22 of being a “Mamma Grizzly?” Running as a woman on an anti-woman platform can only take one so far; at a certain point, those who would support an extreme conservative agenda can no longer justify supporting a woman for President. In other words: if your popularity is due to getting people who don’t like ladies to support you, then best make sure you’re not a lady. Among a certain subset of the population, it’s never going to be time for a female President.
Sound like pure conjecture? It isn’t. Washington Post Patricia Murphy reporter found people in Iowa, where yesterday’s caucus was held, who were willing to go on record making absurdly sexist comments about Bachmann. One woman said she used to support Bachmann and even read her book. “But then I just started thinking about being presidential and I don’t know that we’re ready for a woman for president,” the woman continued. “I think what we really need to do is get Rick Santorum for president and Michele Bachmann for vice president.” Another woman added that she personally would vote for Bachmann, but “I guess maybe we here are not quite ready for a woman president.”
I am not fan of Michele Bachmann and believe it was her extremist thinking and idiotic policies that tanked her. But I’m also mindful of just how crappy it still is out there for a woman — whether she’s Michele Bachmann, Nancy Pelosi, Sarah Palin, or Hillary Clinton — who runs for higher office. I suspect we aren’t ready for a woman president, so long as these sorts of ideas pervade our culture.
Contact the author of this post at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter at @JessicaWakeman.