It occurred to me last night that I had omitted an extremely important point in my previous essay. Neither Obama nor Clinton did anything to invite people to apply those odd sexist labels. Obama is not an effeminate person. He's thin, and likes waffles. Clinton is not particularly masculine, unless someone defines "masculine" as "intelligent, courageous, and ambitious."
Which is, rather, the point. For nearly ever, "female" has been a synonym for "dimitted, cowardly, weakling." Masculinity and feminity aren't primary sexual characteristics like testes or ovaries. Males possessed strength, courage, intelligence, and ambition. Women were passive, stupid, weak, and cowardly. Male = good, female = bad. A man could become woman by being weak or passive or just by being of slender build or short. Women could never become male, and any woman who demonstrated strength or courage or intelligence was playacting or dangerous. A woman's "virtue" was only between her legs, as explained quite well in the last speech in Alfred Hitchcock's "Marnie." Kim Novak says that she's a liar, a thief, a con artist, but because she was a virgin on her wedding night, she was still a lady.
In this race, Obama has to be portrayed as less than male, while Clinton is still just a girl playing dress-up in man's clothes. Because being female is always bad. Feminists are always accused of wanting to eliminate differences between the sexes. To the extent that those differences apply bad traits to women and good ones only to men, yes, we do. Women can be strong, brave, and smart. Men are capable of keeping their pants zipped and restraining their fists and matching colors on their own. Laundry detergent doesn't make the penis fall off. If the 2008 election can make the point that women are just as good as men, and that men don't have to be brutes, then it will really have been historic.