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Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, Red Tent Feminists and PF Flyers

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader-Ginsburg knows what it’s like to be the only woman in the room and she tells us all about it in a piece in the NYTimes today on The Place of Women on the Court.   I’d advise reading the whole thing in the July 12 edition of the New York Times Magazine.  The link above seems to be a shortened version of the post I read this afternoon and you may not get the full flavor of Ginsburg’s feminism.  Ginsburg may come off as soft spoken but she wields a big stick.  She knows herself in the best Greek tradition and she wants you to know it too.  She is a person who expects to be recognized as such.

She has some interesting and counterintuitive thoughts on feminism as well.  This Q&A was particularly revealing:

Q: What do you think about Judge Sotomayor’s frank remarks that she is a product of affirmative action?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: So am I. I was the first tenured woman at Columbia. That was 1972, every law school was looking for its woman. Why? Because Stan Pottinger, who was then head of the office for civil rights of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, was enforcing the Nixon government contract program. Every university had a contract, and Stan Pottinger would go around and ask, How are you doing on your affirmative-action plan? William McGill, who was then the president of Columbia, was asked by a reporter: How is Columbia doing with its affirmative action? He said, It’s no mistake that the two most recent appointments to the law school are a woman and an African-American man.

Q: And was that you?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: I was the woman. I never would have gotten that invitation from Columbia without the push from the Nixon administration. I understand that there is a thought that people will point to the affirmative-action baby and say she couldn’t have made it if she were judged solely on the merits. But when I got to Columbia I was well regarded by my colleagues even though they certainly disagreed with many of the positions that I was taking. They backed me up: If that’s what I thought, I should be able to speak my mind.

Q: Is that another example of how you’ve worked with men over the years?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: I always thought that there was nothing an antifeminist would want more than to have women only in women’s organizations, in their own little corner empathizing with each other and not touching a man’s world. If you’re going to change things, you have to be with the people who hold the levers.

Ohh, Ruth.  You are my kind of feminist.

Now, I am going to probably offend some people I hold dear and I sure as heck don’t want to dismiss their observations but the idea that men somehow envy women because of some unique quality that we possess is just dead wrong.  Maybe it was true 5000 years ago when men didn’t know the specifics of reproduction but it hasn’t been that way in a long, long time.  The history of women and their religions and the long lost matriarchy may be a very interesting subject but what motivates most people, both men and women, is power.  And since time immemorial, men have had more of it.

I attribute it to upper body strength.  Women are easily overpowered by men physically unless they are trained in self defense.  We can still see the results of the physical subjugation of women in countries like Sudan and Afghanistan where rape is used as a weapon of mass destruction.  But even in more developed societies, the physical strength advantage translates into anachronistic customs, transmitted through scripture and years of cultural indoctrination.  Men are worth more.  They get more attention in school, more opportunities to excel.  They are more believable.  They get better projects, more praise, bigger promotions.  As a result, they earn more and have more authority.  It’s just the way it is.

Some women have looked upon the patriarchy and decided it’s too big.  It’s pervasive, oppressive, demoralizing.  So, they retreat.  They look back upon the golden age when women were mysterious fertile creatures who mystified men and held their own meetings in the red tent.  A community of women, for women, about women.  And there’s nothing wrong with that, if that’s the kind of thing you want to do in your own free time.  But retreating to the company of women and insisting that it be called equal is, as Ginsburg says, antifeminist in the same way that segregation was racist.  Separate can never be equal.  (Prophylactic:  I realize that many women do not see themselves as retreating.  But there are quite a few who back off when it comes to full equality and seem to suggest that women can co-exist in some separate legally protected sphere.  Nah-gah-happen.)

If you want equality, you must stand in the middle of the room of men and demand that they treat you with respect and then hold them accountable if they do not.  Every time they screw up, they must be smacked on the nose with a rolled up newspaper until they are trained to not pee on your shoes.  They aren’t interested in your feminine mystique.  They could care less if El had an Asherah.  All they’re interested is whether they get more of the pie.  If you want your equal share, you have to demand it and act like a person first, woman later.

What Ginsburg didn’t discuss is the role of the post-feminist women who gave their support to Obama over Clinton in last year’s election.  They were equally anti-feminist because they failed to evaluate the candidates on their leadership qualities.  Their ability to turn their back on Clinton and not evaluate her fairly was supposed to somehow prove that they had transcended gender and race.  Instead, they were clobbered by race.  I found this comment by Unree at ReclusiveLeftist that sums it up:

Looking at white people over the last couple of decades, I’ve observed an increasing fraction of them eager to declare their opposition to racism. Especially white women but white men too. Commendable, I thought (and still think).

For white Americans in this demographic, Barack Obama offers a lot. He has carefully kept civil rights in general, and race in particular, away from his voting record and campaigns. He demands nothing from his white supporters. He causes no discomfort.

His greatest gift of all, of course, is fending off feminism. Obama is a boon to fauxgressive dudes and the women who want their favors. White supporters get to keep whatever privilege they now have–economic, gender-based, you name it–along with their self-label of progressive. For the cohort I’m thinking of, anti-racism is the best banner to cover up their misogynous resistance to gender justice. Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin had to pay the price.

I don’t think there is any doubt that women have taken a beating in the past 10 years, first from Republicans, then from the Democrats.  The PF Flyers who have their minds so wide open their brains have fallen out have set us back even farther.  As Ginsburg suggests throughout her interview, the struggle is not over yet and we have to continue to push forward, challenging cultural strereotypes and championing the personhood of women.

Ginsburg holds out hope.  I think she’s right that in the next generation, we are going to see the culture undergo a rapid change, discarding the stereotypes of the past.  There are more women in the workplace, with more education and with greater access to constantly evolving technological innovations.  Our presence and growing expertise will have a profound effect on the way we are perceived but only if believe that we are entitled to it.  Let’s hope that the new leadership of NOW will once again be a visible and vocal presence, demanding accountability for the gross sexism and misogyny of the past several years.   In the meantime, get out there, ladies, and be bold.  Make them take you seriously and whack them on the nose until they get the message.


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80 Responses

  1. I’ll never forget a couple years ago, I went to a lecture by this law professor, good guy. He was talking about Ginsburg’s achievements in law before she became a Justice, and he compared her to Thurgood Marshall in terms of being a pioneer for legal gender equity.

    And then you could just see, he froze, like oh no what did I just say. He immediately started backing off that statement, of course that’s just an analogy, there’s no real comparison between the two, Marshall is one of the greatest lawyers in history, etc.

    Very instructive. Ginsburg may have been a leading advocate for women’s legal rights, but let’s keep that in perspective and not start making a big deal of it.

    • Everything I’ve read about Ginsburg and her days as a lawyer suggest to me that she is truly gifted when if comes to making arguments that even the thickest male chauvinist pig can understand. But it’s still an uphill climb, even for one as brilliant as Ginsburg. Some habits die hard.

    • yeah, it’s only women’s “issues”.

  2. I agree it comes from physical strength which separated men and women into hunters and gatherers. It also comes from womb envy – men are jealous of the ultimate creativity of women and try and fail to make up for it. Unree’s quote is something I wanted to comment on at Violet’s but forgot to. Amazing and true.

    • Now, see, here’s where I disagree with you. Men do not envy our wombs. There aren’t a world full of Lorettas out there who want to have babies. They are free from all of that caregiver stuff, a point many men have made throughout the ages until genetic testing made it possible to keep everyone honest.
      Women who go into negotiations for their personhood thinking that this is just a matter of womb envy are going to get slammed. They are up against power. Power for its own sake. Power that says “I don’t have to listen to you, You’re not the boss of me.” What kind of amunition is womb envy?
      It’s not.
      The golden age of the matriarchy has come and gone. It’s an historical artifact. Now it’s time to take down the patriarchy, which has also outlived its usefulness. In this day and age, sexism costs. Time to build a new cultural paradigm that celebrates the worth of each person, male or female.

      • I agree.

      • Womb envy is not a big factor imho. Most men I meet are quite happy to let women bear and raise their kids. Many refer to spending time with their children as ‘babysitting.’

        So what makes a dad a babysitter and a mom a parent? Most men are perfectly happy to be out working and advancing their personhood in the world, rather than their parenthood at home.

        Men benefit immensely from the “womb work” we women do, as they accrue greater wages, more opportunity to advance, better project/work experience, and greater seniority. If a marriage ends, the man who has been steadily working is always better off than the woman who took some breaks to raise their children.

        • Yes. But a great many men, those in the anti-choice movement, want to control how women bear their kids. IMO, this can be attributed to womb envy and a need to simultaneously romanticize and devalue “womb work.” (Love that term!)

          • gxm17, I respect your writing very much. However, womb envy has nothing to do with the anti-choice men. It’s power, power,power. Suggest to them that they just have womb envy and they’ll probably club you with their sign, right after they spit on you.

            A term like womb envy does nothing to empower women. Women’s use of language needs to become a serious issue again. The men I know would fall over laughing if I suggested they had womb envy. If there really are men out their with womb envy I sure as hell don’t want to know them.

            Why fight them with a term like this which will only increase their inability to take us seriously? It’s perfect fodder for locker room talk, aka women bashing, and they don’t need any more ammunition.

          • G-cat,

            I think in my zest to give Ms. Horney props, I’ve mislead folks. I’m not some proponent of womb envy nor am I interested in reviving matriarchy. As I’ve mentioned on other blogs I’m probably best described as an IBTN (I Blame The Narrative) feminist.

            Let’s look at it a couple of ways. First, let’s ask if men, in general, fall over laughing at the suggestion of “penis envy.” Probably not. It’s a fairly common term that most moderately informed people have come across. I’ll leave the debunking of “penis envy” to more learned people like BB. The thing that interests me is that of two contemporaries Freud’s theory made it into the cultural narrative and Horney’s theory, created in opposition to Freud’s, did not. The truth I seek is this: Whether men fall over laughing or not, it doesn’t change the fact that Horney’s theory, accepted or debunked, deserved as much cultural recognition as Freud’s. Maybe if the phrase she coined was as common as Freud’s, no one would be laughing because they would have grown up hearing it treated as an accepted phrase, a given.

            Now, as far as applying my interpretation of womb envy to anti-choice men. Envy is defined as a feeling of discontent and resentment aroused by and in conjunction with desire for the possessions or qualities of another. I agree with you. It’s all about control and power. But a person does not invest a lot of time or energy to control something he does not want. And it seems as much as they like to deny it, a lot of men “want” women. For me, womb envy involves something closer to sexual discontent, or reproductive resentment. The resentment may not stem from the fact that women do “womb work” but from the fact that a mother will always bear her own child, but a man will not always know if he fathered a child. If one adheres to the biological imperative that men feel compelled to pass on their genes, then this could be one source of womb envy or reproductive resentment.

            Believe it or not, I’ve tried to be brief. I try not to clog other folks’ posts up with excessively long comments. So I apologize if my points are truncated to the point of unclear.

          • gxm17 –

            Since the anti-choice movement doesn’t care what happens to the child after birth, I think they want to control reproductive rights of women to have the chance to point and laugh at the “sluts who got themselves pregnant”.

            They want to control women with the fear of getting pregnant. Then we get the time honored role of maintaining the moral compass for men while those same men can shame us for that too. It’s a win/win.

          • jjmtacoma,

            I’m with you on that and I could go on and on about the virgin/whore meme. But I won’t be tedious and wear out my welcome here except to say that you’ve made an excellent point. :)

      • I agree that the term “womb envy” is perhaps off the mark. But it’s also worth noting that in societies, such as various Native American nations, where the ability to bear children is itself considered a source of power, that power also carries into the social and political arenas. The northeasten and eastern woodland nations all had women’s councils, which had the ultimate power to depose a chief. Among the Plains nations, women participate in the ceremonies of the Sun Dance, but don’t pierce, because shedding blood in bearing children is equal to shedding blood as a warrior in defense of the people. You see some of the same dynamics in the history of the Celtic peoples and the very early Indo-Europeans. So I think there might be something to the idea of “womb power” if not necessarily “womb envy.”

        • Thx okasha, I enjoy reading about the topics you cited. I live on the edge of the Great Plains and have known several Native women. I love their sense of calm and common sense. If there’s any type of religion I would lean to it would be theirs.

          After all these decades of information on breast cancer etc. these women finally have their own commercial, that is very respectful and well done. It’s about time. I’ve always wished the common sense of many tribes had been incorporated into the settler’s ideology.

        • Always enjoy your insights Okasha!

      • sexism robs society of the talents and contribution of over half the population. Think of it as HS soccer teams, the bigger the school the bigger the talent pool. Would any school in it’s right mind say that half the girls just by being born with a last name starting with the letters A through L could not even try out for the team? That would be crazy.
        However I can not dismiss the idea of “womb envy”. Maybe it is a symbolic phrase more than literal envy, but I do think men fear the power of women and not just because they want a bigger piece of the pie. I think they are afraid that we are so powerful and uncontrollable if not kept down that we will take all the pie. I think it has to do with their hormones and knowing damn well they are in thrall to women if they really give themselves over to it.
        Is that womb envy? I don’t think men really want to give birth, but they sure do seem to want to control our ability not to do so.

    • Nope, I have no envy of the womb whatsoever. And I don’t think women envy the penis either. I always thought that was very silly. They’re both just lovely and a whole lot of fun. But I think for the most part, we like our own bits and pieces just fine thank you very much.

      • DT, You spend time most days reading and posting on very feminist sites. We are not talking about you. If the shoe doesn’t fit we certainly are not going to try to shove it on your foot

    • I completely disagree. It comes from a predilection to violence and a mindset that might makes right. Physical strength without the predilection and the cultural “okay” to assault someone is not, in and of itself, the cause of patriarchy. The superior male strength viewpoint completely buys into a false narrative generated by the patriarchal mindset that women are the “weaker” sex. It’s pure BS as far as I’m concerned.

      I do agree that womb envy exists to some degree and motivates much of the anti-choice movement and other cultural control devices to keep women in a position of breeder animals.

  3. From you OP –

    “If you want your equal share, you have to demand it and act like a person first, woman later.”

    For me personally and the approach I have always taken – is that I don’t “demand” anything. I just “assume” my position. That allows me to find the humor in a situation when men start acting out. I don’t have to be on defense – they have to go on offense and usually they manage to show their ass and everyone turns against them.

    I admit that I learned it from my former partner of a decade who, like Ruth, was the first female to receive tenure at her university in 1973 and also like Ruth she was a member of the law faculty. I think the main thing that has made my ex so successful in her field and also made her famous, loved and respected is that she has a really great sense of humor. Also, her undergrad degree is from a woman’s school. That experience for young women just makes them different in the world. At least it did in prior decades.

    BTW – I met/spent time around Ruth and Hillary both back in the 70s at gatherings of female attorneys and academics. It was a pretty small club and I got to tag along with my partner.

    • You may call prefer to call it “assuming”. I think a lot of women start out assuming they are equal until a series of incidences demonstrate that they are not. Then, a certain amount of assertion is required. You do need to demand respect and equal treatment. How you do this depends on your personality and the circumstances. But assuming is passive and that ain’t going to cut it.

      • I think how we go about this has a lot to do with what we do. I think your situation would be extremely tough.

        • From the comment at Reclusive Leftist, the Feministing crew are saying that Palin needs to be “humbled.” I guess taking a page from Frank and Rangel when Hill didn’t grovel enough to one of Obama’s imaginary milestones. Demanding or assuming, with “feminists” like these, my god.

          • Yeah, there were a few, “But OMG, she’s pro-life!” comments over at RL, and an accusation of Sarah-worship. Of course, the fact that multiple posters had pointed out rather pointedly that they did not agree with her all political views was ignored. You got the whole “Well, I’ll grudgingly allow that you can get angry and defend her over sexist attacks, but you’d better stop right there, Missy. You are not allowed to admire anything about her, or I’ll revoke your membership in the club.” feeling from some responses.

            I said this:

            Sarah reminds me a lot of my pro-life sister, who is fairly conservative/libertarian. And she’s a damn fine woman, a STRONG feminist, supremely practical, has no patience with idiot pontificators, and is as compassionate and ethical as the day is long.

            And because I personally know and love a Republican woman like that, and find many, many things about her to admire despite our differences, I GET Sarah.

            And this liberal woman will make no apology or endless caveats for that admiration. I know who I am, and what I believe. My feminist or liberal “credentials” are not yours or anyone else’s to bestow – they are MINE, and I have earned them. I don’t have to justify it to you or anyone else. There are few enough women braving the treacherous waters of national politics, and I will cheer Sarah on if I darn well want to.

          • Like I said yesterday, this meme that it’s somehow “insulting” that she was put on the ticket. INSULTING? “Thank you Dems, for letting us know you hate us and will never put us on your ticket. The more insulting and degrading your behavior, the less insulted I am! They might not be sincere, your hatred is unfeigned!” you don’t have to vote for her, but god, what kind of message does that send? It’s not a historic first, it’s an insult.

            Palin demolished Andrea Mitchell. She kicks a$$, she is unfazed, and if we don’t find women who will look into the eyes of the MSM and tell them they’re idiots, we might as well give up. They will never find a woman they like. We can either fight back or give up and let them demolish us one by one.

          • Um, I’m talking about demanding equality from *men*, not other women.

          • how very sexist male of them to want to humble Palin.

      • Great post!

        I am actually trying to reply to your next comment in this thread, Riverdaughter. Yes, we must demand respect from men when it is earned but withheld. I suggest that we often have to do the same with women we work with. There are many women in the workforce that respect the men they work for, but will walk over or even deliberately undermine a woman manager, if she lets them — even if she has been supportive of their career and mentored them.

        A surprising but ugly fact.

        A friend of mine told me that in Iran, women relatives of hers who were not completely veiled were beaten first and hardest by women, not men.

        Just sayin’.

        djmm

  4. “… the idea that men somehow envy women because of some unique quality that we possess is just dead wrong. Maybe it was true 5000 years ago when men didn’t know the specifics of reproduction but it hasn’t been that way in a long, long time. The history of women and their religions and the long lost matriarchy may be a very interesting subject but what motivates most people, both men and women, is power. And since time immemorial, men have had more of it.”

    Bless you for saying this, RD!!!!

    Some of my wild, free-associating thoughts on the fly:

    When reaching for that power, unethical, greedy, despotic women act the same as unethical, greedy, despotic men.

    There wasn’t a golden time in the past when women ran things and all was well. We humans have been pretty much the same for centuries.

    I am not diminishing the struggles of women.

    I am critical of knee-jerk male-bashing. My wish is that we assess each other as individuals regardless of gender.

    Yes, men have more power in some arenas. But not all.

    Reminds me of that line form “Big Fat Greek Wedding” that goes something like this: Sure the husband is the head of the family but the wife is the neck — she can make that head turn any way she wants. ;-)

    Be supportive of women daring enough to break gender-based barriers.

    … She says, rolling up her sleeve and stepping into the action.

    • I love knee-jerk male bashing. The world doesn’t see nearly enough of it.

      The knee-jerk female bashing – its on my tv 24/7.

      Why not equal time.?

      The male group is not going to give us anything we don’t take from them. So, roll up your sleeves and take away from them the part of the world that belongs to you.

      And on another subject – in what part of the universe/arena do women have more power?

      • “Men” are not the problem. Who has the power and control is. That may often be males but not always.

        I suggest not dividing the world into males and female but rather those who have power/control and those who do not.

        Poverty, which renders large swathes of people powerless, cuts across gender lines for example.

        • Gee. I wish I lived in your world. Just think of all those poverty stricken men living in low income housing with their children whose mothers can’t be found. Poor “men” who have no power or control.

          • And the mothers were impregnated by wealthy men from outside the low income housing area?

            Sorry for the little snark.

            The numbers of people living in poverty include both men and women.
            Yes, women are poorer but only by a couple of percentage points (until much older when the gap increases). I see poverty as a power issue not as a gender issue. Why are so many disenfranchised in our rich country? Because of ruling elites. Those of us who are not ruling elites weaken ourselves further by infighting along gender and/or racial lines.

            Also: “Contrary to popular belief, the majority of poor women are not single mothers. Only a quarter of adult women with incomes below the povery one are single mothers.” (http://www.truthout.org/article/women_101008?print)

      • he male group is not going to give us anything we don’t take from them

        Please don’t bash me as I don’t think I have anything of yours. :-)

        You’ve got sexist men and women (sadly) bashing women for behavior they don’t like. Namely trying to be equal or trying to gain some power. Or similar things.

        I’d personally bash sexist behavior and any oppressive behavior no matter who it’s coming from. Generically bashing men regardless of behavior seems counterproductive.

        • No bashing going on. If you don’t wander through life thanking God every morning that you weren’t born a woman, this post does not apply to you. We don’t go into each meeting looking for a fight. But we do expect that we get equal treatment and consideration and need to be ready to act if we don’t get it.

  5. Great post riverdaughter.
    Thank you.

  6. genetic testing made it possible to keep everyone honest.
    **********
    Male paranoia….”Mother’s baby, father’s maybe”….from the Darwinian, reproductive advantage point of view, the worst failure for a male is to provide resources for a child that doesn’t carry his DNA.

  7. Help! I won’t be able to sleep tonight thinking there are actually groups of women who believe in “womb envy”. This is some type of joke, right?

    • I’m curious. If “penis envy” is a valid concept, why wouldn’t “womb envy” be?

      • Neither are valid IMO. I rather like my bits and pieces and assume you do as well. :-)

      • It’s a theory. You have to be able to test it. Tell me the what evidence you have suggests that there is such a thing as womb envy.
        From what I can see, there are religions where men wake up in the morning and thank god they weren’t born a woman, and they really seem to mean it. Men have been known to deny paternity. As mentioned previously, there may be a biological reason behind this. And how many men have left the responsibility of caregiving to their partners because they don’t want to be bothered with all that crying, messy stuff?
        I just see no evidence of womb envy. If that were true, you’d expect women to be treated much better than they are. However, evidence of the benefits of power are everywhere.

        • I think that’s Horney’s point. The fact that women are treated badly by men is a result of womb envy.

          • Look, I don’t want to rain on your wb envy parade but I think what motivates people is much simpler than that. It all can be reduced to a desire for power. If men are anti-choice and want to control womens’ reproduction, the operant word is control. As in nature, male animals do not want to invest precious resources on genes that are not theirs. Therefore, it is in their best interest to control reproduction of females. And they can do it by physical coercion. That’s why we have a term like alpha male. That’s not womb envy. That’s just asserting your power in order to maximize your reproductive potential. Males fight other males for the right to use the wombs of females but there’s no envy involved. It’s more like a prize, booty. Seen in this light, women are really no use as thinking beings. They simply exist for their childbearing potential. What man in his right mind wants to go through menstruation and childbirth? It gets in the way of mastering their environments. When they are ready for heirs, they acquire a womb through means gentle or rough. But it’s just an acquisition. If you want to be equal, you have to stop thinking of yourself as a womb. It’s your mind that will set you free. You have to be capable is demonstrating that you also seek mastery.
            Forget about the womb. It’s going to be met with ridicule. Besides, it’s only good for reproduction and our lives are much bigger than that. Heck,ost of us go through life trying to suppress pur wombs. It’s because we know that out economic survival, well being and possibilty of reaching self actualiztion depend on not being overwhelmed with chdren and the responsibility of raising them. We don’t even envy our own wombs for perfectly good reasons that are very similar to a males. If women want to feel good about themselves as people, the womb is not the place to hang out.

          • RD,

            As I mentioned in response to G-cat above, I don’t consider myself a huge proponent of womb envy. But I do think there is something there to be considered. If male animals do not want to invest a lot of resources on genes that are not theirs then let’s address the fact that a woman will always pass on her genes to the children she bears. But men are not so lucky. Before the days of paternity tests, they had no way of knowing (for sure) that they fathered a child.

            I recall reading many years back that when researchers did paternity tests in, apes, many of the offspring where not the alpha male’s. The females were having sex with the gentle, helpful, nit-picking, non-Alpha males. Regardless, human women have long had the ability to sneak a little sex in with the non-Alpha males. In the end women have much more inherent control over which men’s genes get reproduced. And I don’t think it’s farfetched to believe that this has affected the human male psyche and that women’s natural biological advantage influenced the development of the misogynistic streak prevalent in human cultures.

            And, FWIW, I’m not interested in reverting to some mythical matriarchy. I didn’t mean to give that impression.

      • I don’t acept penis envy as fact either, regardless of Freud’s ideas.

      • Penis envy isn’t a valid concept. It has been thoroughly discredited through research, along with most of Freud’s ideas about women.

        • I love you BB! I knew you’d have the answer one way or the other. I’m very happy to hear his ideas on women are over and done with.

          • Studies show that little boys are just about as likely as little girls to engage in cross-gender fantasy play, e.g., boys pretend to be pregnant or have breasts.

        • come on, wouldn’t you like to have one for when you are out in the garden planting roses and have to pee? I hate having to take my muddy sneakers off to troop up the stairs to the bathroom…but I equally hate peeing all over myself and this 52 year old bad back keeps me from squatting anymore. Now the man I live with is 16 years older and has a much worse back, but he can pee where ever and whenever he wants.

          • OK I see your point. What gets me is that cruddy teeny, tiny bladder syndrome that comes with age. Well that a just a few hundred other things!

            My favorite saying for this time of my life is: Of all the things I’ve lost I miss my mind the most.

    • JHCC! Yes. It’s a real theory. Right up there with that idiot Freud. Karen Horney, a pioneering theorist and contemporary of Freud coined the term. I’m sure you’ve heard of penis envy but how many folks have heard of womb envy? THIS is the part of the problem. Women voices have been, effectively, silenced throughout history.

      • I don’t want to be part of a womans’ movement that mourns for some mythical, nonexistent past where men too us seriously. Those cases are few and far between. Seriously. If that’s the way feminism is devolving, I want no part of it. It’s time to stop with the Stuart Smalley affirmations and get serious.
        Do not waste my time with stupid theories about womb envy. There is no proof to back it up and plenty of evidence to refute it. I want no part of it.

        • I’ll work on men taking me seriously after I figure out how to get women to take me seriously. ;)

          As I mentioned above, it is only recently, through paternity tests, that a man can know for sure that he has fathered children. Women have a natural reproductive advantage (strength?) over men when it comes to passing on their genes. And it is not all that farfetched to conclude that this reproductive resentment (womb envy) could be one factor in the development of misogynistic human cultures.

  8. Well, I like Asherah. She was kickass. At least before the bible writers got ahold of her. However, I don’t base my entire understanding of feminism on her or any other retro-written mother goddesses.

    I agree that voluntary segregation isn’t an answer. Although, very often I really find I need temporary segregation in order to slough off the patriarchy.

    • Good point about temporary segregation. I seem to remember some studies that early education in a girls only school can be very advantageous. I’m sure there are trade-offs though. But just avoiding some of those classroom battles where girls are not allowed to excel in some subjects and aren’t even called upon in class is a big win.

      But the bigger point of the post about having to engage and push to be equal is paramount I think.

    • She’s a fascinating phenomenon and if people want to reintroduce worship of her, great! But no one in the public sector gives a flying fuck.
      Just sayin’

    • From Wonk’s link:

      Several initially somewhat wary Obama aides and holdover State Department officials who have traveled with [Clinton] abroad have confided genuine admiration for Clinton’s professionalism and decency — citing her preparedness for meetings with foreign leaders and her thank-yous to bureau staff who worked on her trips. Clinton loyalists and White House aides, moreover, vigorously insist that the secretary is a critical and indispensable voice in Obama’s national security team.

      But it wouldn’t be FP if not also this:

      Clinton is “one smart, tough, extremely capable secretary,” said Aaron David Miller, a former aide to six secretaries of state who is now with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. But the president, Miller said, is the nation’s chief diplomat: “an incredibly powerful physical and intellectual persona” who is traveling everywhere from Cairo to Moscow. “It’s not like the conventional wisdom that said he would be bogged down with the economy and wouldn’t have time for foreign policy.”

      • Um, from everything I’ve read, he was a complete flop in Russia. The Russians know propaganda when they see it and were not impressed.
        They can keep saying it until they are blue in the face. Doesn’t make it true.

        • “They can keep saying it until they are blue in the face.”

          And they will riverdaughter, believe me they will. I think they even believe it themselves.

          What I hear in my little European part of the world is nothing but praise: He singlehandedly, significantly improved the US-Russian relations. He all by his fabulous self, are about to accomplish Universal agreements concerning climate policy, economy – well everything. You name it, he delivers!

          I really don’t blame non-politically aware people for believing this. And when you see how confident and cocky he struts around Europe and surroundings, how can you doubt his magical powers?!

          (I know I’m repeating myself, but I really, really, really dislike this man!)

        • (Apologies in advance if this is a duplicate. Something weird is going on with the postings!)

          “They can keep saying it until they are blue in the face.”

          And they will riverdaughter, believe me they will. I think they even believe it themselves.

          What I hear in my little European part of the world is nothing but praise: He singlehandedly, significantly improved the US-Russian relations. He all by his fabulous self, are about to accomplish Universal agreements concerning climate policy, economy – well everything. You name it, he delivers!

          I really don’t blame non-politically aware people for believing this. And when you see how confident and cocky he struts around Europe and surroundings, how can you doubt his magical powers?!

          (I know I’m repeating myself, but I really, really, really dislike this man!)

      • have confided genuine admiration for Clinton’s professionalism and decency — citing her preparedness for meetings with foreign leaders and her thank-yous to bureau staff who worked on her trips.

        This has been Hill’s modus operandi for 40 years . I love how it’s always a surprize . Another surprize to people , unlike many in DC, Hillary works…very rare and yet it’s what she’s always done. Also can I say that while she was robbed of the nomination by an Upper Crust full court press, her decency helped to hobbled Hillary in’08 as well . Axelrod knew how to use that decency to his advantage. It’s an on going tragedy this woman isn’t at 1600

        • I dispise axelrove and the rest of Obama’s stinking crew. It amazes me that people who hated Rahm Emanuel for years suddenly said not a peep about him being Obama’s best friend and closest adviser. There were crickets from the big cheeto crowd that is for sure.

          • Oh, yeah – Rahm was the Devil Incarnate to the Cheetoheads, until he became Obama’s BFF. Now he’s all that.

  9. … and if I never see the term “scary lady parts” again, it won’t be too soon.

    • I know, even as a mocking joke, right?
      Maybe, we should change that to “hairy lady parts.”
      Oh, wait, men have pubic hair, too, though you’d never know it with all those stupid beaver jokes we endure.

  10. Womb envy is a valid point. It’s not a literal concept, it has to do with power and control, resentment about not being in complete charge of reproduction. It’s a very real concept, otherwise we would not have mandatory state controlled abortions in China or such a pro-choice struggle in America. We have in vitro fertilization and a whole industry built around controlling and manipulating reproduction. We have pharmacists who believe they should have the right to deny perfect strangers access to certain forms of birth control.

    Biologically women hold all the cards. We live in a culture where womb envy is so ingrained perhaps people can’t see it anymore, but it’s woven thru every aspect of our culture. It’s not a literal thing, men with womb envy don’t really want a uterus, they want to be able to control a woman’s.

    • *shrug* I’m not saying it never exists at all, in some twisted man’s psyche, but a major factor? Nah. It makes no more sense to me than the penis envy theory.

      Patriarchal power manifests itself a lot in reproductive issues, simply because that has proven to be the easiest lever with which to control us. That’s all. It’s convenience, not some mystical envy or deep-seated feeling of reproductive inadequacy by men.

      • I’ve been sitting here trying to think of a reply to yttik’s comment. You took the words right out of my head, WMCB. Mainly I’d like to know where this term originated. Because it is not a term that will gain one iota of power for women.

        • what I think you mean is that men will not give us power if we use a term like that. Men won’t give us power anyway. Who gives a shit if they like the terms we use? I am sick of catering to what men will or will not like understand or laugh about.
          Jesus, we have all the power we need if we would use it. We out number them and in a democracy that is all the power you need.

          Hell I have penis envy. I don’t want to have sex with it, I am quite fond of how I have sex now. I just think it would be a heck of a lot easier when peeing in the woods.

          • Actually Teresa I’m in full agreement with RD that power must be taken, because the majority of men will never give it to us. The only men I’ve ever catered to were those I deeply loved. Why? Because they did the same for me.

            No man needs to give me power. Power given and not earned is how we got Obama.

            As to peeing in the woods. find a downed log and and you’re all set :).

  11. G8 in Italy-though it’s almost like the G20, because so many others have come along. (China, India, Korea, Australia, various African-there are others but it’s all I can remember from the lunch time news). They are planning on introducing Global law/regulations for the first time, so it’s complicated.

    Anyway, after 5 minutes of praising Berlusconi to the skies, the tv commentators finally got round to Obama who was defined as behaving with “elegance and aplomb”. Michelle did well too, the yellow color of her dress was “cheerful and bright”.

    She did better than Sarkozy’s wife (of Italian origin BTW) who was called a “lady-snob” because she did not visit the earthquake ruins at Aquila with the rest of the First Ladies, but will be visiting them this afternoon with George Clooney.

    • LOL! Good for Ms. Sarkozy! I really hate those gatherings where all the women get shuffled off to one room to converse among themselves, while the men get together and do “manly” stuff and discuss important things.

      I’ve always been the lone lady who raised eyebrows by refusing to toddle off to the kitchen with the other women to discuss daycare and periods. Instead I boldly plop myself down on the couch in the midst of the men and jump right into a rousing debate on politics or the Steelers new tight end. I’ve been known to stroll right out into the garage and voice my opinion on brands of sparkplugs as well.

      Funny thing is, the men, after the initial shock, tend to accept and even LIKE me invading their turf. The women….not so much.

      • Yes! Love it, WMCB.

        We’ve got to keep stepping through gender barriers. Stir up the cultural stereotypes. Act as equals.

        Women bash women, especially strong, independent ones, as regularly as men do. And women bash men in conversation all the time. Misandry is as sexist as misogyny.

        Unenlightened people of BOTH genders are a problem.

        • Misandry is as sexist as misogyny. perhaps but so much less powerful. Like reverse racism, the victims seem rather pathetic and those who feel sorry for all the poor put upon straight white males even more so.

          • Hate, and irrational discrimination are reprehensible
            regardless of degree. I don’t buy that a “little” misandry is okay if there is so much more misogyny. The cycle of seeing each other in terms of gender alone keeps us all locked in a tit for tat, ultimately debilitating struggle.

            If we are fighting for fairness then let’s be fair. “…poor put upon straight white males” is a catch all jab at men. It’s a sexist innuendo.

            The challenge is to continue to see people for who they are regardless of gender, race, age. Then start looking at who’s controlling a situation that is unfavorable to all or ours advancement. My bet is that it isn’t “penises” or “womb envy” that’s got us into the majority of our troubles. I see the culprit as concentration of political power into the hands of a few and those few, both male and female, will do anything to stay in power.

            We, the people, men and women have more to gain by joining together. It doesn’t matter who makes the first step towards the other or who apologizes first or who hated whom more than the other. If we unite we have more power.

            DIviding us by gender is a political strategy, a way to disempower half of a population in one easy step. Iran comes to mind. Mir-Hossein Mousavi campaigned with his wife because he (correctly) saw it as a political advantage,

      • LOL. I’m always the one telling the men they need to get their asses in the kitchen cuz the dishes won’t clean themselves. Which for my man really sucks since he’s the one who cooked the meal in the first place.

  12. RD – Thanks so much for this post. All I’ve done in decades is try to use the best of feminist ideas I learned in the 60’s and 70’s and try to live my life with some dignity.

    I had no idea some of the realms it had slipped into. Then the primary came along and slapped me upside the head. It’s time to get back to the real work of feminism, for me as I understand it.

  13. Seriously, on July 9th, 2009 at 12:39 am Said:
    …. this meme that it’s somehow “insulting” that she was put on the ticket. INSULTING? “Thank you Dems, for letting us know you hate us and will never put us on your ticket.

    Indeed. I remember when Palin was first picked and the DEMS said she couldn’t served because ….wait for it: she had children!! HUH?

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