My Liberal Dude Hero Just Let Me Down

November 10, 2009 by

The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and not necessarily those of The New Agenda.

kristof.new.184Nicholas D. Kristof is one of my feminist heroes. He and his wife, Sherly WuDunn (who is easily one of my feminist heroines) are the writers of the recently published book, Half the Sky. This book outlines the struggles of the most oppressed women around the globe and how women’s rights should be at the forefront of issue to tackle for our generation. In addition, Kristof has been writing about gender discrimination in 3rd world countries for many years and has shed light on issues such as forced-prostitution in Pakistan, rape in Bosnia and family planning in Africa.

But even heroes can let you down.

Recently, Kristof wrote on his Facebook page:

I’m worried about the degree to which the health reform debate is being overwhelmed by abortion politics. If the House, with its strong Dem majority, could pass reform by only 5 votes, then what will happen in the Senate, where Dems have no votes to spare? I’m pro-choice and think the curbs are wrong–but the top priority has to be to get reform through Congress this year.

Gulp. As a Independent liberal-minded woman this comes as a great disappointment. Abortion rights are one of the most resonating issues for liberal women and yet Kristof is all to willing to look past the anti-abortion amendment in the Health Care bill, apparently for the better of the common good. And I must ask myself, does this mean that some liberal men find liberal women’s issues not a crucial element in the common good? And will Kristof advocate on behalf of Western women to the same degree that he advocates for 3rd World Women?

In the United States we have much more gender parity than women in Afghanistan, for sure. But things are hardly equal. Women in the United States have only 17 percent representation in the Senate and Congress. Also in the United States, only 6 percent of rapists ever spend a day in jail. And Democratic women hold dear to them their reproductive rights – so much do they value reproductive rights that it keeps many Pro-Choice women voting Democrat.

So I must ask Kristof if he titled his book wrong. Perhaps he does not feel that women really need to hold up “half the sky”. Because if one of the most basic tenants of gender parity on the Democratic platform is inconsequential to this liberal man (in the face of the common good), then perhaps 17 percent of the sky is enough?

Nicholas D. Kristof – I still love’ya but today you let me down.

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