While the world was largely distracted by the Iranian call to respect the franchise, Republican opposition to Sotomayor managed to paint her involvement in an elite women’s group as a sign that she has an “agenda” that does not include the rest of “good, hard working, N. Americans.”
Unlike their complaints of “reverse discrimination,” this complaint at least carries some MINOR merit. Minor, in the sense that the organization is an elite power broker group that is by invitation only and whose interests reflect the furthering of contained political power amongst chosen women. In the ways in which this and other elite organizations perpetuate a class system linked to power, we all should be concerned about any leaders involvement in them. Yet, while Republicans are trying to make her membership into a “scary feminist” argument, they have failed to address the actual class issues here.
However, Sotomayor’s membership in the Belizean Grove is no different than President Bush’s membership in a similar all male secret society, for which he received no criticism. In fact, his membership and family name have been credited for much of his political success despite his many social and intellectual failings. Many important male leaders in government, finance, and industry are members of secret societies that help ensure their business and political success and the continuation of their access to power and wealth to which other people have no hope of gaining access. Many of these societies officially recruit from within elite educational institutions and family legacies. In fact my institution had 7 such organizations in operation, including the one former Pres Bush was in; all of them were either exclusively for men or almost exclusively made up of men. No one has complained about how these male organizations work to amass power in the hands of the few nor criticized Presidents or other high ranking government officials for being in them. The hypocrisy of the complaint against Sotomayor then is decidedly gendered.
Their objection lies solely on the fact that the Belizean Grove is a women only organization dedicated to women’s equality and representation in the highest offices in the U.S. In other words, they are objecting to the goal of women’s equality in Washington. Yet there are similar Republican only women’s organizations in Washington and elsewhere. And many Republican women participate in women only charitable organizations as rites of passage to the Republican elite. The Republican party sponsors women’s caucuses for yound and established women as well.
Despite the existence of these organizations, the Republicans seem to have won this round. Both their criticism and the unwanted attention it has brought to the Belizean Grove have forced Sotomayor to resign her membership.
We should all be concerned about the Republican’s blatant hypocrisy on women’s organizations and their public stand against women’s power. While they claim to represent working class N. Americans, we should also take a long look at how their anti-woman, and anti-woc, response to Sotomayor thoroughly unmasks their failure to really represent working class people as this was an opportunity to critique elitism and solipsism in Washington and they failed to do so b/c they were too busy worrying about women amassing power like the boys.
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