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The Best Woman for the Job May Be a Man

June 6th, 2008

 
By Rebecca Walker
Special to CNN

Rebecca Walker is the founder of the Third Wave Foundation, and the author of four books, including her latest, "Baby Love." Read her blog on theroot.com.

Rebecca Walker is urging women to turn the page on gender-based feminism.

KULA, Hawaii (CNN) -- Let's all breathe a collective sigh of relief, shall we? Now that we've got our nominee, Hillary can get some rest, Obama can read his daughters a bedtime story, and the rest of us can relax knowing our relative peace won't be shattered by another primary-related explosion.

Goodbye Reverend Wright and Bosnia tarmac snipers. Goodbye bitter working-class voters and hard-working white people. See you in November John King and the magic CNN map.

But what now?

Obama has gracefully accepted the victory banner, and a lot of Hillary supporters, especially women, are walking off the field as if they've lost a war. I understand their frustration, but the truth is they didn't lose, not by a long shot. Their candidate is stronger than ever, with 17 million votes under her belt, and the public discussion about the role of gender is more nuanced and compelling than it has been in decades.

The next woman candidate will have a better shot at the White House because of the tireless efforts of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But with a Democratic house divided, now is the time for healing, and this can only happen if Hillary's staunch female supporters let go of the reverse-sexist ideology that women are inherently better, wiser, and more compassionate leaders.

They will have to acknowledge that sometimes the best woman for the job is actually a man -- if it's the right man. Obama's vote against the war, marriage to his female mentor, outstanding record on reproductive choice and a host of other progressive issues, and his uncanny ability to inspire people all over the world suggest he's just that.

It is time to turn the page on myopic gender-based Feminism and concede that while patriarchy is real, so is female greed, dishonesty and corruptibility. It's time to empower the feminisms embodied by millions of women and men who care about everyone, including, but not limited to, women.

These are the feminists who wanted the first Clinton's welfare reform to include real jobs for women, with real wages and real benefits. They wanted trade agreements like NAFTA to empower female workers in other countries, not make them easier to exploit. They also want to exhaust diplomatic means before threatening to bomb entire civilizations to dust in response to hostile challengers to U.S. supremacy.

These people -- male and female, young and old, black, white, yellow and brown, self-identified feminists and adamant rejecters of the term -- move from a place of passion, hope, and yes, pragmatism.

They realize Obama will need to assemble a stellar team to move his vision forward. And they plan to hold him accountable for his positions on all of it: racism, sexism, socio-economic disparities, the environment, education, health care, a living wage and any other obstacles to the ideals of equality upon which this great nation was founded.

Clinton supporters aren't the only ones with work to do. I spoke at Harvard a few years ago on the necessity of ending divisiveness and relying more on the human capacity for openness as a baseline for true progress. This position is necessary not only in feminist circles, but in the primal fight or flight mechanism of our own minds.

As angry as some Obama supporters might be, as disheartened as we may feel, the only way out is to believe in the power of human beings to rise to the moral imperative.

Judging by the state of the world, we may not get another chance.
 

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