Karina’s Capsule: Harriet Christian

Hooray, it’s the Weekend of Women! As of this writing on Sunday afternoon, it looks like the Sex and the City movie is going to make at least $55 million in its opening weekend, thus establishing a new record for the best debut of a R-rated comedy in history. Bloggers and studio execs alike have already started declaring that girl power has fundamentally changed Hollywood in a single weekend. Yay!

It’s a good thing feminists who are willing to put on blinders have *some* kind of symbolic victory for all of womankind to hold on to, because the results of an arguably more important contest this weekend went very badly for both the woman involved and, by extension, the image of women in power as a whole. Whilst millions of my fellow American women were waiting on line for their dose of the latest adventures of Carrie and company, I was glued to the TV, watching gavel-to-gavel coverage of the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting, held to determine whether or not all delegates from both Florida and Michigan will be allowed to vote at the Democratic Convention.

Hillary Clinton wasn’t present at the meeting, but she nonetheless haunted the proceedings (she’s the one who would have gained most from a full seating of these delegates, which the committee ultimately denied), and her supporters were out in full force, shouting, cheering, booing, and getting themselves ejected from the hall. Far more fascinating than the all-day debate are the YouTube clips of angry Clinton supporters exiting the RBC meeting — and reactions to those clips.

By now, you might have seen the above clip, featuring a Clinton supporter named Harriet Christian — as of this writing, it’s been viewed almost 450,000 in its first 24 hours on YouTube. It was posted by the liberal blog Firedoglake, as was this clip of Deborah Foster showing off bruises which she says are the result of being pulled out of the hall by security. On a different day, the Foster clip might have made cable news headlines, but it’s been far out-shined by the Christian clip, a jaw-dropping transmission of raw human emotion that’s actually difficult to watch. The clip is so controversial that it has already sparked many reaction videos; Jane Hamsher calls the original “a Rorschach test for how people view what’s going on in the Democratic party,” and compiles noteworthy responses.

So what’s the fuss about? “I am proud to be an older American woman!” Christian begins. Well, so far so good, right? But then…

“The Democrats are throwing the election away. For what? An inadequate black male? […] And I’m not going to shut my mouth anymore…I can be called white, but you can’t be called black? That’s not my America. It’s equality for all of us! I’m no second class citizen.” When a reporter asks for her name, she responds, “Why would you like my name? Maybe you’re, the CIA, the FBI?” Then, for some historical perspective: “I was a second-class citizen before, and now I’m nothing!” Then she threatens to vote for McCain as revenge, and storms off.

In positioning the RBC’s refusal to bend a rule that would have put more votes in the Clinton column as a blow to feminist progress, Christian seems to confirm the blanket stereotype that Clinton supporters are, like the candidate herself, shrill, prone to convenient irrationality, quick to cry “sexism,” and possibly even racist. Certainly, as a portrait of a Clinton supporter, the video does Hillary no favors. As a meme, it essentially distributes the same main idea as another Hillary-related vid making the rounds this week, Jerry O’Connell’s Young Hillary. While Clinton works herself into a frenzy accusing all around of treating her unfairly and demanding reparations — thereby inevitably digging herself deeper into a hole — Obama stays quiet and scores.

I find it fascinating that while a fairy tale version of middle-aged women is dominating popular culture, an actual middle aged woman’s fall from a position of potential power and the hysteria that event has engendered amongst her supporters is dominating YouTube and the cable news cycle. Obviously, for most of us, the fake version of this demographic’s triumphs and tragedies is easier to digest. “Man, I’m not concerned with all the politics!” growls a heavily-digitized Fergie in the movie’s theme song, “Labels and Love.” Enough said.

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