Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hillary, Chelsea, "Inspiration," And "Pet Rocks"

(March 10, 2011 - Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images North America)

The above photograph was taken at the Diller-von Furstenberg 2nd Annual Awards, as Chelsea presented her mother, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with the first Inspiration Award.

Some of the most poignant moments for me of the 2008 Campaign were to see Chelsea Clinton with her mother. The pride she felt, the love, the connection, was evident by the way Chelsea looked at her mother when she was speaking. This photo reminds me of those days when a woman garnered the most votes of any candidate during a primary ever.

Yes, it brought back some memories, like this one of Chelsea and her mother:

(Joe Raedle-Getty Images)

Ah, yes - those were the days. It seems appropriate during Women's History Month to remember, to affirm, just how close we came to having a woman president for the first time in this country. And to recognize just how far we have to go to achieve true equality in this country. Sadly, more qualified, accomplished, women still have to take a back seat to younger, unqualified men. It is a sobering thought.

Given that Clinton was just awarded an Inspiration award, what should we make of it when the Secretary Clinton consistently highlights the importance of girls and women to be educated, that the very development of communities, and countries, depend on how women fare. Yet when discussing Afghanistan, women, and USAID, a senior official claims that:"Gender issues are going to have to take a back seat to other priorities. There's no way we can be successful if we maintain every special interest and pet project. All those pet rocks in our rucksack were taking us down." (H/t to Yttik.)

"Pet rocks"? That's how this "senior official," who would speak only under conditions of anonymity, describes over half the population in relation to a USAID contract in Afghanistan? And on the eve of International Women's Day, no less?

I hope you appreciate my restraint in not writing what I really think of this man (but you can feel free to add your two cents worth about him).

Allow me to provide some context for his assholic remark, though it may make you even madder. The quote is from a Washington Post article entitled, "In Afghanistan, U.S. Shifts Strategy On Women's Rights As It Eyes Wider Priorities." Yes, the headline does provide a bit of a clue as to the intent, but this makes it crystal clear:
When the U.S. Agency for International Development sought bids last March for a $140 million land reform program in Afghanistan, it insisted that the winning contractor meet specific goals to promote women's rights: The number of deeds granting women title had to increase by 50 percent; there would have to be regular media coverage on women's land rights; and teaching materials for secondary schools and universities would have to include material on women's rights.

Before the contract was awarded, USAID overhauled the initiative, stripping out those concrete targets. Now, the contractor only has to perform "a written evaluation of Afghan inheritance laws," assemble "summaries of input from women's groups" and draft amendments to the country's civil code.

The removal of specific women's rights requirements, which also took place in a $600 million municipal government program awarded last year, reflects a shift in USAID's approach in Afghanistan. Instead of setting ambitious goals to improve the status of Afghan women, the agency is tilting toward more attainable measures. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Ah, yes, "attainable measures." Right. Presumably that means turning the other way when girls get acid thrown in their faces by the Taliban. Or when women are killed through "honor" killings. I could go on, but I trust you get the idea.

So a senior official refers to women as "pet rocks" in a discussion of how USAID, which falls under the State Department, has thrown women under the bus in their contract requirements. Wow.

I remember well those days, just three short years ago, when Hillary Clinton was amassing the most votes of anyone ever in the history of the country. I remember well the excitement of women, children, and men alike that this incredible, capable, intelligent, qualified woman had surfaced in a run for the White House. And I remember well how the media, the DNC, and Obama himself, worked to destroy her by any means necessary, including massive misogyny at every turn.

And then she went to work for him.

The issues that affect women and girls has always been of the greatest importance to Hillary Clinton. Or at least they were until she became Secretary of State under the least qualified man ever to sit in the White House, pushed over the far more qualified woman. The issues that always meant so much to her, to us, now take a back seat as "special interests." Over half the population in the world has been reduced to a "pet rock." Holy moley.

I have never been inspired by a politician the way I was by Hillary Clinton. I have never donated so much time, money, or energy as I did for Hillary Clinton. Two years ago, I would have said, "hell to the yes" she deserves an Inspiration Award. But when her department fails to do what is right for women in Afghanistan, or Egypt, or Libya, or Iran, or anywhere else in the world, because women are seen as "special projects," not worthy of full humanity, well, I find that less than inspiring.

Frankly, I find it disturbing. How about you?


Stray Yellar Dawg? said...

Just got around to reading this, Amy. The two photos of Hillary and Chelsea, in close proximity, make me cry.

How dare any "official" refer to women's rights as "pet rocks." And yet... we know that is how they view our half of the population.

Is saddens and sickens.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Hey, SYD,

I know, right? The love and admiration Chelsea has for her mother continues to shine through, and reminds me of those poignant moments during 2008.

Chelsea wasn't the only one looking at Hillary like that - women, girls, and men all across the country did. To say the DNC fraud was a disservice to the country is an understatement.

"Pet rocks in a rucksack" - I tell you, I exhibited tremendous restraint in not writing what I REALLY wanted to say abt that "senior official." But you are right - that IS how they see half the population, and it shows in everything they do...