Thursday, October 21, 2004

Letting the side down

For a long time now, my gut instinct has been to dislike Teresa Heinz Kerry. It was a visceral reaction, and though I thought about it long and hard, I really couldn't work out why. In fact, the more I read about her -- in the New Yorker and the Atlantic Monthly -- the more I felt that here was a woman I really should like. By all accounts, she is strong, intelligent, gutsy, kind, generous, unconventional, independent and interesting -- exactly the kind of woman I would usually admire. Many of the same terms apply to Hillary Clinton, and I certainly liked her.
A few weeks ago, it hit me. For too long, the real problem had been obscured (to me at least) by reporters who insisted on explaining her behaviour as 'outspoken' or 'blunt,' (on the Left), 'loony' (on the right) or 'arrogant' (both).
But the fact is, this woman who tells reporters to 'shove it,' who 'fidgets, glowers or interrupts' while her husband is rallying for votes, and who attacks Laura Bush for 'never' holding a 'real' job simply has no manners. She is rude. I also get the feeling -- and I think this is the root of the problem for many people -- that she thinks she can afford to be rude and that the rules don't apply to her because she's so rich.
I'm not really interested in the political implications of this; I don't believe a spouse has any bearing whatsoever on the candidate (and not being an American, would keep my nose out of it anyway).
For me -- this is a feminist crisis. I so want to like Teresa. Although I know this is not rational, by disliking a woman with such iconic feminist attributes so intensely, I feel like I'm somehow letting the side down.

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