The Washington Post sends what it must consider a Valentine to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
She talked chickens with female farmers in Kenya. She listened to the excruciating stories of rape victims in war-torn eastern Congo. And in South Africa, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited a housing project built by poor women, where she danced with a choir singing “Heel-a-ree! Heel-a-ree!”
Clinton’s just-concluded 11-day trip to Africa has sent the clearest signal yet that she intends to make women’s rights one of her signature issues and a higher priority than ever before in American diplomacy.
She plans to press governments on abuses of women’s rights and make women more central in U.S. aid programs.
But her efforts go beyond the marble halls of government and show how she is redefining the role of secretary of state.. Her trips are packed with town hall meetings and visits to micro-credit projects and women’s dinners. Ever the politician, she is using her star power to boost women who could be her allies.
Clinton is indeed redefining the role of secretary of state — she’s converting it into a ceremonial position. Sort of like the First Lady gig only more so. Yes there may have been the occasional talk with a chicken farmer and visit to a micro-project back in those days, but I don’t recall any “Heel-a-ree” dancing.
I’m no student of feminism, but I’m dimly aware that there is “equality” feminism and “difference” feminism (or jargon to that effect). This always struck me as quite convenient because it provided the opportunity to argue any disputed issue in either of two ways and to view nearly all developments in a positive light — either as an affirmation of the new equality or of the uniqueness of women.
By the same token, of course, one can choose to view nearly all developments in a negative light. Perhaps my biggest disappointment with feminism was that feminists seemed almost invariably to adopt this course.
It is a mature feminism, indeed, that celebrates the reduction of the role of secretary of state to an international women’s outreach job during the tenure of the most significant female politician in U.S. history.