“Hold on one second there, sweetie”

This is definitely not the way for Obama to broaden his appeal with female voters:


Obama has subsequently apologized to WXYZ reporter Peggy Agar, but his explanation mainly serves to dig himself further into a hole:

“Hi Peggy. This is Barack Obama. I’m calling to apologize on two fronts. One was you didn’t get your question answered and I apologize. I thought that we had set up interviews with all the local stations. I guess we got it with your station but you weren’t the reporter that got the interview. And so, I broke my word. I apologize for that and I will make up for it.

“Second apology is for using the word ‘sweetie.’ That’s a bad habit of mine. I do it sometimes with all kinds of people [yes, he certainly does – mb]. I mean no disrespect and so I am duly chastened on that front.”

No, dig up, stupid!

Jesus tapdancing Christ. You wanna know how to better help make the case that you deserve the support of women? Step 1: DON’T BE A SEXIST ASSHAT.

Look, intent is irrelevant–habitually using reductive terms like “sweetie’ is both disrespectful and indicative that Obama may have a bigger problem with women than simply not getting their votes, regardless of whether his actions are conscious or otherwise. Not to say that this sort of thing is unique (gee, a man says something misogynistic and dismissive to a woman–film at 11!), nor is it definitive proof that Obama actively perpetuates misogyny (does anyone seriously think that Geraldine Ferraro burns crosses in her free time?) But a good ally is duty bound to call out the people on his or her team when someone fucks up (to be clear: my team is the ‘not John McSame’ team).

I’m very glad that Obama did apologize; however, I hope he takes the opportunity to reflect on exactly why he’s still having a tough go at making inroads with women.

*facepalm*

14 Responses to ““Hold on one second there, sweetie””

  1. Yup, that sucked, and was stupid.

    I had some counter points to make, but then realized that this is a guy running for President. No excuse for it. He apologized, and we’ll have to sit on our hands and see how things go from here on in.

  2. What really bothers me is that stupid shit like this does really undercut him. He’s got a pretty decent record for women’s rights, but as you pointed out months ago with the “claws out” thing, it’s at the bare minimum clumsy vernacular that undermines what his approach to women’s rights is.

    In any case, I fully realize you are more up on this topic than I, and defer to you.

  3. VickiLynne says:

    shame on senator obama — condescending that was – hold on sweetie.

  4. DrGail says:

    This clearly is a habit he would do very well to break, and the sooner the better. As the original posting and the above comments make clear, many people will find it offensive and use it as a wedge to search for deeper indications of his feelings toward women in general.

    However, I personally don’t find it offensive, nor do I think it’s an inadvertent sign of some sort of festering misogyny. Although I am clearly a feminist, I guess I’m not a knee-jerk feminist (which may explain why I have never been a supporter of Hillary for president, although I admire her in many ways).

    I work in a male-dominated field and lived in the South for many years, and have learned that it’s best to overlook the little vestiges of sexism provided that, when the rubber meets the road, you are seen and treated as an equal. Some radical feminists may regard this as “selling out”. I put it in the category of “don’t sweat the small stuff”; if it doesn’t interfere with me doing my job, who cares?

  5. Robbie says:

    I wonder if by “all kinds of people” he means men, too. I’d love to see the video of Barry addressing a man as “sweetie”. Or by “all kinds of people” did he really mean “just women”.

  6. terry says:

    Although I don’t find it offensive or demeaning or whatever else the feminists are saying (who really are just angry over the NARAL endorsement), I do think it is a habit he should break.

    More importantly, it also showed his frustration with the press. He obviously did not want to take questions right then and didn’t handle it as well as he could have. He needs to come to some sort of happy medium with the press and not outwardly show his annoyance with them.

  7. tas says:

    I don’t want to say that Obama calling someone “sweetie” isn’t demeaning, however placing this in the grander view, one has to ask if this is action disqualifies him from ever becoming president. Depending on how one answers that question, it will show if they have a balanced viewpoint or one that’s silly and shouldn’t be heeded. (I’d expect the latter from the No Quarter crowd.)

    Furthermore, going off what Terry mentioned about Obama’s frustration with the press, where is the rest of this report? How come we only see a 10 second clip on Youtube? How come during this 10 second clip, while Obama called a reporter “sweetie”, we also hear a reporter going after the presidential candidate? How come he’s walking away from her and didn’t address her question? Is it because he was afraid of her, or was this reporter acting like a jerk beforehand?

    I think that’s a fair question. If this reporter was antagonizing Obama beforehand, it’s certainly not an excuse for him to have referred to her as “sweetie”, but I think that’s an important part of the story, too.

    Of course, we’re not going to find such out in this soundbite culture, where one side of the story is all you need…

  8. matttbastard says:

    You know, Robbie, I’d appreciate your points a lot more (and I do agree entirely with what you had to say on this matter) if you hadn’t preceded your nail-meets-head post with a face-meets-palm screed entitled “Beyoncé Knowles — Turning Children into Cheap Hookers and Sluts,” in which you approvingly quote comments from one “Girl on the Right” (which I refuse to link to) re: “tiny little hip-hop whores” and Cadillac driving welfare queens black single mothers who are “tricking out their daughters.”

    Uh huh. Gleefully labelling (black) women whores and sluts while simultaneously wallowing in deeply racist caricatures. You don’t exactly possess an overabundance of moral authority here, bub.

    In other words: motes and planks, brother. I humbly suggest you spend less time worrying about “Barry’s” (what was that about condescension?) habitual speck and instead work on digging that 2×4 out of your own eye. Then, once that big ol’ chunk of wood has been extricated from your orbital region, feel free to shove it up your ass sideways (what, y’all thought I was going to take the moral highroad without any detours into the gutter? Pssh).

  9. matttbastard says:

    I don’t want to say that Obama calling someone “sweetie” isn’t demeaning

    Good, then don’t.

    however placing this in the grander view, one has to ask if this is action disqualifies him from ever becoming president.

    Huh? Who said this should disqualify him from ever taking possession of the Oval Office? He acted like a dumbass, and deserves to get called on it. No one is asking for his dick on a platter, just a privilege check.

    Depending on how one answers that question, it will show if they have a balanced viewpoint or one that’s silly and shouldn’t be heeded. (I’d expect the latter from the No Quarter crowd.)

    Y’know, not everything revolves around the tiresome foodfight between Obamaniacs and Clintonistas.

    Furthermore, going off what Terry mentioned about Obama’s frustration with the press, where is the rest of this report? How come we only see a 10 second clip on Youtube? How come during this 10 second clip, while Obama called a reporter “sweetie”, we also hear a reporter going after the presidential candidate? How come he’s walking away from her and didn’t address her question? Is it because he was afraid of her, or was this reporter acting like a jerk beforehand?

    So, Agar was *ahem* asking for it?

    I think that’s a fair question.

    That’s nice. I think it’s a strawman argument. Your mileage obviously varies.

    If this reporter was antagonizing Obama beforehand, it’s certainly not an excuse for him to have referred to her as “sweetie”, but I think that’s an important part of the story, too.Of course, we’re not going to find such out in this soundbite culture, where one side of the story is all you need…

    How the reporter treated him prior to his brush off is entirely irrelevant (and, I would argue, insolent treatment from the Fourth Estate is something he’s going to have to get used to on the stump, considering how in the bag the press is for Old Man McSame, and also the fact that, even though these days it appears otherwise, reporters are actually paid to be a pain in the ass on behalf of the public interest, not obsequiously kowtow to the political class). Bottom line: you don’t refer to a professional journalist (or any woman) with whom you don’t have any relationship with in such an intimate fashion–full stop. As Rob Farley pointed out yesterday,

    A “bad habit” indeed; if I ever did it in the classroom I’d be rightly sanctioned.

    […]

    When I say that I would face sanction for calling a woman “sweetie” in class, I’m dead serious; even if the woman weren’t offended, it would still be inappropriate and reflect a poor classroom environment. This isn’t dread “political correctness”. “Sweetie” is belittling in a way that “buddy” really isn’t, and it really shouldn’t be used in any kind of professional setting, except perhaps between those who are exceptionally familiar.

    Look, I respect the opinions of Terry and Gail, but one doesn’t have to be an angry feminist who hate teh Obama!!11one to find the entire incident inappropriate and upsetting(I’m an angry feminist who is indifferent, btw). That’s not to say that we all don’t traffic in seemingly insignificant expressions of privilege like this on a daily basis. But the fact that even gender-enlightened progressives are unconsciously conditioned by the deeply racist and misogynistic culture that we have been brought up in is even more reason to remain vigilant when someone who claims to be an ally fucks up.

    I would find similar statements entirely unacceptable if they came from McCain (or if Clinton brushed off a “rude” black male reporter with a dismissive “Hold on, boy”) and I damn sure find them unacceptable coming from someone who is looking to become the Democratic nominee for president (especially considering what an important Democratic constituency women are).

  10. tas says:

    Huh? Who said this should disqualify him from ever taking possession of the Oval Office? He acted like a dumbass, and deserves to get called on it. No one is asking for his dick on a platter, just a privilege check.

    But we’re also sure to see this attack used against Obama under the terms of which his opponents have already used against him, ie: that he’s a “sexist pig,” etc. etc.

    Y’know, not everything revolves around the tiresome foodfight between Obamaniacs and Clintonistas.

    But how is this going to be played out in the media, which is also a forum for the foodfight?

    So, Agar was *ahem* asking for it?

    Yup, just like she’s asking to be raped if she wears one of those slutty outfits that gives men woodys.

    Let’s be serious here, and take sexism out of the equation — if somebody is hounding you and not showing a lick of respect, you’re going to get pissed off at them. If you want to term that as me saying that somebody else “asked for it,” then so be it. But if I’m driving down the road and somebody cuts me off, be it a man or woman, they’re going to get the finger.

    I’m asking whether or not Agar gave Obama the metaphorical finger. Since her own report (at least the 10 seconds of it available on Youtube) shows only one side of the story, I think it’s a fair request.

    Look, I respect the opinions of Terry and Gail, but one doesn’t have to be an angry feminist who hate teh Obama!!11one to find the entire incident inappropriate and upsetting(I’m an angry feminist who is indifferent, btw). That’s not to say that we all don’t traffic in seemingly insignificant expressions of privilege like this on a daily basis. But the fact that even gender-enlightened progressives are unconsciously conditioned by the deeply racist and misogynistic culture that we have been brought up in is even more reason to remain vigilant when someone who claims to be an ally fucks up.

    But accusations of sexism have also been flying around like fastballs in a ballpark this campaign season. Obama was accused of being sexist for using the word “periodically”; New Republic was accused of being sexist for pointing out that Hillary can be ill-tempered (somehow, all the accusations of unfair treatment were muted when the same charges were hurled tenfold at Dean in 2004); Keith Olbermann is accused of wanting to beat the shit out of Hillary; those who rightfully point out that Hillary no longer has a chance at winning the nomination and ask her to quit the race are being accused of sexism… So what do you think I expect to happen right now?

    I did not say that Obama didn’t make a mistake, but I suspect that this is going to be blown hugely out of proportion just like 57 million other things this campaign season.

  11. matttbastard says:

    Let’s be serious here, and take sexism out of the equation

    .

    See, right there I lost all interest in this dialogue (and the increasingly towering pile of straw that you’re using to construct your contribution out of). Because you can’t take sexism out of the equation, no matter how stubbornly determined you are to do just that. This has absolutely nothing to do with Hillary Clinton (or your apparent vendetta against the good folks @ Shakesville); this has to do with a man (who is happening to be running for president and has a problem wooing female voters) who, in 2008, casually and dismissively deflects a professional journalist by calling her ‘sweetie.

    You goddamn fucking right I take sexism very seriously, because, whether overtly or otherwise, sexism affects all women–much like racism affects all people of colour. See, right here your missives against the asshats @ No Quarter for engaging in blatant race-baiting have been completely undermined. Do you only call out privilege when it suits your purpose? Us PoC aren’t props in a pissing contest to be conveniently broken out when one needs a platform to launch a counterstrike from–we’re living, breathing people whose lives are impacted by the racist sentiments that people like Larry Johnson and SusanUNPC traffic in on a daily basis. This shouldn’t about scoring points–it’s about fighting oppression and bigotry. And that is what should concern progressives, just like sexist tropes, regardless of who is engaging in them, should concern progressives. They aren’t wrong because they’re hurting Obama–they are wrong because they are hurting people of colour, just like misogyny–even misogyny directed towards the likes of Ann Coulter or Michelle Malkin–is hurting women.

    Sweetie may seem trivial when examined in a vacuum, but when you consider it in conjunction with all the other little seemingly insignificant wounds that women face on a daily basis, well, the phrase “death by a thousand paper cuts” comes to mind.

    Again, your mileage obviously varies. I’m just glad that Obama had the sense to recognize that he fucked up (even if some of us find his apology wanting). Would that his more zealous supporters shared that (limited) awareness.

  12. J Cline says:

    Obamorons will find any sort of excuse for their idol. (How’s that KoolAid sugar buzz working for ’em?)

    Offense is in the perception, not the intent. That’s why we don’t use slang labels and dimunitive terms with adult strangers in a professional setting.

    Men tend to use these sort of “endearments” in front of other men to neutralize challenging women at work. Obama was talking in front of a bunch of male autoworkers — a hypermasculine crowd if there was one — and the reporter was doing her job, pushing for an answer.

    Well, the Messiah doesn’t like to be questioned outside of his carefully-choreographed media ops. So he blew her off with a dismissive one-liner and a smirk, and if you listen to the YouTube video (the long one) you hear the other men snicker, as if she just got put in her place.

    But the woman deserved an honest answer, not a patronizing term. How exactly IS Obamajesus going to help American autoworkers?

    As for the term itself — well, if Obama gets to call me “sweetie” then yes, I’ll be glad to call him “boy”. Fair’s fair.

  13. matttbastard says:

    As for the term itself — well, if Obama gets to call me “sweetie” then yes, I’ll be glad to call him “boy”. Fair’s fair.

    *facepalm*

    Y’all fuckin’ deserve McCain.

    Logging off before I tell the entire blogosphere to go fuck itself.

    Edit: It’s really interesting how race-baiting Republican trolls have all of a sudden become oh-so-concerned about sexism.

    Forget the blogosphere (for now)–J Cline can fuck right off.

  14. tas says:

    Fine then, consider the conversation over. If you’re not open to listening to other people’s opinions, and then forcing your own opinion down their throats, then it wasn’t much of a conversation to begin with. I never said that what Obama said wasn’t wrong, I suggested that it shouldn’t be blown out of proportion and there’s probably another side to the story that’s not being told. I don’t see what the big issue with that is.

    But it seems that people like myself — who have roamed the halls of feminism — are now considered sexist because we don’t tow the line on every talking point thrown out there — for daring to suggest that there’s another side to the story and things might not be as simple as they seem. Yes, sometimes there are two guilty parties in a two-sided fight.

    And I’m pretty sick of being yelled at for suggesting such. I was quite civil when this conversation started, mtb — you weren’t. The same thing happened with your friends — my former friends — over at Shakesville in previous fights. Why is that? Am I just so disgusting and so vile that you can’t stand to talk to me?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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