Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor in the Spotlight

Lots of people are reserving judgment about Sonia Sotomayor as Supreme Justice of the United States of America. But those who are not interested in the American President's succeeding have already started to pick at her: "She's an ivy-leaguer, an elitist with no family other than the staff in her office, no common-man experience." "What an obvious, stupid choice by Obama - obviously playing up the gender and race issues." Overhearing such comments on the radio on the drive home yesterday, I wonder who's making them. How invisible is their sex and their skin color on the other side of their anonymous telephone calls?

For some reason, I starting thinking about Sonia Sotomayor when reading a paragraph from a wikipedia entry on someone else whose father seems not to have been around early, the girl whose parents named her Marie Gouze, who later named herself Olympe de Gouges:

Surviving paintings of de Gouges show her to be a woman of beauty. She chose to cohabit with several men who supported her financially. By 1784 (the year that her putative biological father died), however, she began to write essays, manifestoes, and socially conscious plays. Seeking upward mobility, she strove to move among the aristocracy and to abandon her provincial accent.

Of course, the wikipedia editing is collaborative, but I wonder what the race and gender of the author is, who makes the first sentence in that paragraph cohabit with the next? (Fortunately, the writers do give credit to the white de Gouges for all of her work to expose slavery and mistreatment of blacks, work which came before her work for women.)

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