Wednesday, July 15, 2009

White Men are Powerful, Latina Women are Angry and Scary.

I actually caught a bit of this as well yesterday, but I think the wonderful women at Feministing did an excellent job of addressing this issue (originally posted here):

In the most aggressive questioning of Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearing thus far, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) read out a laundry list of complaints about the nominee this afternoon. Graham went through insult after insult from anonymous reviews about Sotomayor's temperament, including ones that called her "nasty," "a terror," "a bit of a bull," and one that said she lacks any "judicial temperament." Graham then asked her directly: "Do you think you have a temperament problem?"

As both Samhita and Ann have written, there's a specific sexist and racist narrative that accompanies the accusations of Sotomayor as somehow angry or meaner than her male counterparts. (Because when white dudes are strong, they're just powerful. When women of color are strong, they're scary.) And it's simply infuriating to watch it play out in these hearings.

Sharma also points out that Sen. Graham - who has already made his fear of Sotomayor's "fiery temper" quite clear - became a bit of a bully himself (I'd also add 'condescending asshole' to that) in his "bullying" accusations, telling Sotomayor that "maybe these hearings are a time for self-reflection" for her and asking her about her "wise Latina" quote. Because that hasn't been talked about enough, obviously.

When the judge answered in the affirmative, he asked her to recite it - twice. Sotomayor hedged a response, and Graham plowed ahead, said, "I've got it here," and read the quote out himself.

The infantilizing questioning from Graham continued throughout his entire thread; he interrupted her answers multiple times, and made a theme out of asking her to explain her understanding of certain legal concepts and current events...

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