For the last several months, maybe longer, I’ve noticed a trend in corporate advertising and political framing. Women are taking the stage front and center. Here in northeastern Ohio, you can hardly turn on the TV without seeing a Giant Eagle commercial featuring its CEO, Laura Shapira Karet, in the grocery store proclaiming that she would never feed her customers anything her own family wouldn’t eat. Alternatively, there’s another commercial with Karet bragging about how much food Giant Eagle donates to local food banks every year because they care so much.
Of course, not a word is said about the wages and salaries of Giant Eagle employees, which are working poor at best these days, and Giant Eagle employees even have a weak union. But with a face like Laura’s, surely she cannot be a vicious, sociopathic capitalist, can she? Of course she can, and is. Come on, those wages still qualify most employees for food stamps and Medicaid. How generous and motherly of her!
During Obama’s last State of the Union address, he proudly pointed out Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors, as a wonderful leader of our times. Some nonsense about turning GM around and creating good middle class(it’s always middle class with him, isn’t it?) jobs. Not a peep about how new GM workers make only half of what their parents did without being adjusted for inflation, and have far fewer benefits. But look at her! She’s a woman! She simply must have a good heart, yes? Ha!
Then there’s the wonder woman of the IT industry, Meg Whitman, who makes a mere $1.5 million a year salary as CEO of Hewlett-Packard after spending $180 million of her $2 billion or so fortune trying to buy the Governor’s office in California, and is all the rage on the Sunday morning political talking head shows. Never mind what she actually did to Hewlett-Packard or its employees, or what she actually says she believes in.
Of course, all this glass ceiling-breaking can’t help but paint the election of Hillary Clinton as President in 2016 as somehow just part of an inevitable trend of female empowerment. And, assuming she does get the Democratic nomination, be sure that the future H-bots will be out there accusing anyone attacking Hillary as being somehow a bigoted misogynist, just like anyone who attacked Obama just had to be racist.
I must admit it’s a pretty slick psychological and electoral strategy to defend the financial aristocracy of which all of the women I mentioned above are a part, just like the race thing was used to help Obama. The fact is that subconsciously and culturally women are simply perceived as being more nurturing and caring than men, which they frequently really ARE.
It’s just that when it comes to advancing corporate interests and the interests of the wealthiest and most powerful among us, which I equate with fascism, a gender difference does not a genuine difference make when it comes to which gender is trotted out as the ruling class’ leaders. They’re all the same. They all think the rest of us are just human resources to be exploited and discarded.
Beware the kinder and gentler smiling face.