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Oprah: race before gender?

25 January 2008

Oprah Winfrey has had lots of flack for strongly supporting Barack Obama in the US Primaries. Many women, her biggest fan base, were angry that she put race before gender and supported a black man instead of a white woman. Oprah has always strongly campaigned for women's rights and nowhere near as vocally for 'black rights'. But even so, she is a woman and she is black.

Many back women in America will have to choose between race or gender. I am at a loss as to why one is better than the other. The women who are so angry with Oprah claim she betrayed them for supporting a man. But how about the black people who might feel she betrayed them, if she was supporting a white person?

As far as I am aware, Oprah was born both a woman and black so how can she possibly betray one by choosing the other.

Fair enough if those women are disappointed with Oprah's choice for a man, but how can it be betrayal when you support a black candidate?

Is this related to this ridiculous idea of Sisterhood that many women seem to have when it comes to Empowerment? Some kind of strange need to claim another woman as 'one of them', a Sister.

I have seen this many times when going to concerts of lesbian artists. For some reason I can not explain, lesbians seem to like certain artists more than others. for example, I was 'in to' Janis Ian, Melissa Etheridge and the Indigo Girls long before I 'knew' I was a lesbian and I certainly had no idea they were lesbians. I purely liked the music.

However, when I started going to their shows, I found some quite open hostility to straight women at those shows. Not so much to their boyfriends but when waiting in line at the venues, many lesbians would claim only they were REAL fans because only they understood her, only they had followed her entire career, only they were so devoted (read:insane) so follow he around Europe on a 50-date tour etc. etc. etc.

The anger and scathing words when a known lesbian does not feel like becoming a spokesperson for the gay community. As if it is some kind of obligation. Example:Lilly Tomlin. Out lesbian but does not do much in support of the community. And for that, the lesbian press regularly portrays her as a coward or even a traitor. Why? Why? What gives you the right to say that someone else should spend their time fighting YOUR cause just because they have one thing in common with you?

Maybe all this just shows women are nowhere near as independent and strong as they would like and still need to form alliances to feel they are strong enough.

I just feel it is all pretty pathetic.


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