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Yeah, why *did* we do that?

Johanna Sigardardottir, Prime Minister of Iceland

There is some convergence about why we slit our own throats to protect the bankers that is starting to gel in some thought provoking ways.

First up, if you haven’t read it yet today, is Krugman’s Friday column in the NYTimes from Iceland.  By the way, to get a better idea of what happened in Iceland and how it managed to get out from under its debts, check out Michael Lewis’s book, Boomerang, based on his tour of disaster capitalism around the world.  In short, the former Vikings got bored with fishing, jumped into the currency market, got WAAAAY over their heads in debt and when the crash came and the banks said paid up, basically said, “f^&* this s^*#, we’re not killing our country just because you won’t take a haircut.”  And they didn’t.  They devalued their currency and made the banks eat it while they salvaged their social safety net.

Krugman today asks why more countries didn’t take this kind of approach:

But it’s worth stepping back to look at the larger picture, namely the abject failure of an economic doctrine — a doctrine that has inflicted huge damage both in Europe and in the United States.

The doctrine in question amounts to the assertion that, in the aftermath of a financial crisis, banks must be bailed out but the general public must pay the price. So a crisis brought on by deregulation becomes a reason to move even further to the right; a time of mass unemployment, instead of spurring public efforts to create jobs, becomes an era of austerity, in which government spending and social programs are slashed.

This doctrine was sold both with claims that there was no alternative — that both bailouts and spending cuts were necessary to satisfy financial markets — and with claims that fiscal austerity would actually create jobs. The idea was that spending cuts would make consumers and businesses more confident. And this confidence would supposedly stimulate private spending, more than offsetting the depressing effects of government cutbacks.

[...]

But a funny thing happened on the way to economic Armageddon: Iceland’s very desperation made conventional behavior impossible, freeing the nation to break the rules. Where everyone else bailed out the bankers and made the public pay the price, Iceland let the banks go bust and actually expanded its social safety net. Where everyone else was fixated on trying to placate international investors, Iceland imposed temporary controls on the movement of capital to give itself room to maneuver.

So how’s it going? Iceland hasn’t avoided major economic damage or a significant drop in living standards. But it has managed to limit both the rise in unemployment and the suffering of the most vulnerable; the social safety net has survived intact, as has the basic decency of its society. “Things could have been a lot worse” may not be the most stirring of slogans, but when everyone expected utter disaster, it amounts to a policy triumph.

And there’s a lesson here for the rest of us: The suffering that so many of our citizens are facing is unnecessary. If this is a time of incredible pain and a much harsher society, that was a choice. It didn’t and doesn’t have to be this way.

It was a choice.  It was the same choice that Adam Davidson and Elizabeth Warren battled about in 2009.  In fact, that interview may be more revealing than it seems on the surface.  Michael Lewis suggests in his book that the Icelandic male is still a badass Viking who got a taste for marauding the modern way through speculation.  But it was Icelandic women who pulled their asses out of the fire.  In a similar way, when the recession started to affect the job market, Angela Merkel’s government decided to supplement the salaries of many workers who might otherwise have been laid off.  Other workers cut back to part time work, the advantage being that part time workers do not lose their skills due to extended periods of unemployment.  Merkel’s Minister of Labor is a woman.  As a result, the German economy has held up pretty well since the crash.  And just a few days ago, Christina Kirchner of Argentina won re-election for Presidentafter she vowed to continue her anti poverty programs while pissing off investors.

From L-R, Germany's Family, Labor and Justice ministers

I hate to start attributing remarkable virtue to women because there’s just not enough data on how women would behave if they weren’t punished for behaving outside social norms, that is taking risks, being agressive, looking out for one’s self.  Women who are ambitious are considered “political” and “calculating”. See this TedTalk from Sheryl Sandberg to understand this better.

But it is hard to ignore the data that we have that suggests that when the bankers get out of control, the countries that seem to be faring the best are the ones who have women as their stewards at the time of the crash.  Here’s another one: Julia Gillard, Australia’s prime minister is steering her country through economic turmoil solidly while her opposition, another Julie (think Michelle Bachmann) is hammering her over deficit spending.  But so far, so good for Australia who hasn’t yet succombed to conservative demogoguery in spite of its notoriety of being Rupert Murdoch’s birthplace.

Christina de Fernandez Kirchner, President of Argentina

Could we ever have a woman in charge in the United States?  We will have missed our opportunity to try out the experiment that would show whether a woman in the White House would do things differently than a man.  But maybe we should look on the 2008 election with fresh eyes.  I’ve always been troubled by the primary voting irregularities and the DNC’s massaging of the rules to favor one candidate over another.  And while the misogyny was awful, maybe there is something to the reaction to Hillary Clinton running for president that exposes a fault in our culture and government.

Women are underrepresented in Congress and many elected government positions.  That’s not news.  But what is it about our country that will not let it evolve?  Has it been the reintroduction of religion into the public sphere?  Has the return to conservatism been aided by the 40 year reaction to Roe v Wade that has been capitalised by Republicans?  I think this is something we need to get a handle on.  One of the things that bothered me most about the Adam Davidson interview of Elizabeth Warren is not that he rejected her argument.  It was *why* he rejected her argument.  He didn’t consider her a “serious person”.  And I think that is the heart of what is wrong with our culture.  Women are not taken seriously.

Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia

Think of how many times we have heard of women with their hands on the reins of power who have been prevented from exercising that power by men who think of themselves as more serious people.  Brooksley Born wanted to regulate derivatives. Robert Rubin and Larry Summers put a stop to that.  They called her “hard to get along with” and “not a team player”.  One of her assistants said that couldn’t be true because she was never issued a uniform, suggesting that Rubin and Summers were pre-disposed to not cooperate with her.  Then there was Sheila Bair of the FDIC.  She wanted to shutter some of the big banks.  But when Obama directed Tim Geithner to draw up a plan to close Citibank, Geithner sat on the project.  One of the reasons he gave was that he didn’t want to have to tell and work with Sheila Bair.  Christina Romer, Obama’s senior economic advisor told him that the stimulus package was too small by about $600 billion dollars and later that about $100 billion could be used to create a million jobs.  Obama mocked her and preferred Geithner’s plan to hers.

And then there was Hillary.  In 2008, just as the market was crashing, she made numerous appearances on morning talk shows advocating for a new HOLC type of program that would aid homeowners directly in order for them to keep their homes and continue to pay their mortgages.  By the time the crisis was upon us, the bankers had already nominated their man.

If we can see any trend at all in these examples of women as heads of state and women who were denied power it appears that they are calculating several moves ahead.  They look at their present set of circumstances and extrapolate.  They also tend to be more concerned with the soundness of society as a whole.  They focus on saving their safety nets, their labor markets and the wealth of the many as opposed to the demands of a few.  They are concerned with heading off future crises with new rules.  If we could generalize these trends we might say that these women (but not necessarily all women) value stabilization over risk taking.  A prosperous citizenry is one that is not subject to social or economic instability.  These women appear to prioritize and value societal stability.

That does not mean that men are incapable of this kind of leadership.  In fact, we have held up as examples male leaders who also behaved this way.  Leaders who immediately come to mind are Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.  Those people who check lawlessness and economic injustice that lead to instability are our role models.  We appreciate and recognize the leadership qualities in men but in women, we do not see them as attributes but as unserious.

Maybe this period of our country’s life will promote reflection of what we value and who is most capable of seeing our way through to a more stable future.  I think that Elizabeth Warren is finally benefitting from such reflection and re-evaluation.  The more examples we see of women leading their countries through economic crisis, the more we may be inspired to follow their lead and elect more women to powerful positions here. But I worry that the impetus to empower women in this country is very fragile.  And one of the things that troubles me the most is that we still have so few female pundits and voices of authority who are considered “serious people”.

Hillary Clinton, *not* president of the United States

A good example of this can be found at Greg Sargent’s The Plum Line blog at the Washington Post.  Sargent’s blog is pretty good for collecting the voices on the left who are considered up and coming and serious.  But almost all of his citations go to men on other blogs and prestigious online media outlets.  He frequently cites Matt Yglesias, Ezra Klein, Kevin Drum, Steve Benen, Dave Weigel, etc.  There are very few citations from women.  Sargent might reasonably argue that those men have the most access to the people in charge.  But then we must ask ourselves how it is that they got to be in those positions of power.  How did such young men, without families, maturity or even much work experience, get access?  It wasn’t too long ago that many of them were just bloggers themselves.  Meanwhile, a blogger with the writing and analysis skills of Digby is posting on Al Jazeera.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a sweet deal and well deserved, but cases like Digby are very rare.  We can think of a handful of others like Ariana Huffington, Joan Walsh and Rachel Maddow.  But how many of us consider them “serious people”?  Each one of them gets a label.  Ariana is one of the 1%.  Joan is a hopelessly compromised Democratic party loyalist.  Rachel Maddow is starting to be upstaged by Chris Hughes and is the token lesbian.  We see them as women first and not individual voices of persons who have unique thoughts and views.  Somehow, their personas are flawed.

In the future, Ezra, Matt and Kevin will grace the opinion pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post taking the place of the David’s, Brooks and Broder.  Joan will be making occasional appearances on Hardball, Rachel may move into anchoring the evening news somewhere and Ariana will be jetting off to interview some sultan in the desert but their opinions will not have the same heft.

When it comes time to make decisions about which road we will take and who will get saved and who will be tossed overboard to be eaten by sharks, it is the voices we have blessed with the title “serious” that we listen to.  And in our society, in the 21st century, in a country that started with so much promise and has evolved so quickly in most other respects, those voices are not women.  We are passing on the women who see the political and economic landscape from a perspective that favors stability.

It is not the only reason why we’re in this mess but it is one that is increasingly and embarrassingly hard to ignore.

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41 Responses

  1. Maybe we did “that” because I really don’t remember being given any other alternatives at the time. It was either bail the bastards out or the world would end. Even if people were offering alternatives they were not pushed. It was and is a massive failure of our government-media complex in all their bought by Wall St glory.

  2. Of course Johanna Sigardardottir could never get elected here for one reason: she’s a lesbian (and a hawt one at that). In our stupid, juvenile culture that one fact alone makes it impossible, no matter how talented she is. Shameful.

  3. At the start of 2001 the U.S. economy was reeling from the collapse of the dot-com bubble, leading many to regard Bush as already something of a lame duck.

    The real estate bubble kept the economy pumped full of meth throughout the Bush years. Without it the massive expansion of Corporate America’s power worldwide, Bush’s relection, and the continuation of the Iraq war would likely not have been possible. It Hoovered up and burned the “excess savings” of East Asia’s middle classes, in the process choking off the supply of capital to Corporate America’s East Asian rivals. Its implosion shattered the social democratic block of European nations and seriously undermined the Euro’s ability to function as a rival reserve currency.

    In D.C.’s upper echelons the banksters are probably regarded as the heroes of the age. Why would you expect them to want these sainted men to absorb the losses?

    • How many people volunteer to accept what’s coming to them? That’s not really the question, is it?
      The question is why we prevent women in this country from being taken seriously, especially when some of the most stable and productive countries in the world are run by women? If you can answer that question, you will have solved a piece of the puzzle as to why we had a crisis in the first place and why we are floundering now.
      Also, what do Japan and the US have in common that differs from Sweden? Sweden took a very different approach to its financial crisis in the early 90’s than either Japan or the US. My hypothesis is that the gender equality plays a major role in who sits at the table and is listened to. Note that I didn’t say “gets heard”. You can hear someone without listening to him or her.

      • I think you have actually answered your own question. How many people volunteer to accept what is coming to them? Women do not volunteer to accept an equal share of the power because we do not really see ourselves as ready for power. Men are not prepared to share power with us, freely giving some of theirs away. Why should they?
        The answer is women. We still refuse to elect women unless those women are perfect. We willingly go to the polls and elect men who are hopelessly below our standards….. but not THAT, and not THAT
        woman.
        We keep hoping for waiting for begging for working for paying for a tiny toe hold in their electoral politics, their pundit society, their news media. But we are reluctant to take the reigns of power, instead, we hope they are given to us with plenty of warning, instructions and training wheels.

        I know I am a pain in the ass and a broken record. All movements need their pain in the ass radicals. I am willing to be that, should we ever revive anything resembling a woman’s movement.
        Just a few moments ago it ocured to me that the men in these countries where women have held the top political positions are not likely to be more enlightened or ready to vote for women. What I am guessing is that the women are more ready to empower each other, to get their asses to the polls and vote for each other.

        • Not really sure WHY women haven’t fought for equality, though I suspect it has a lot to do with the Roe v Wade fig leaf.
          But it doesn’t matter. Equality is essential. And there are other countries in the world that have made more progress getting there, specifically they Scandanavian countries. We should find out how they did it and copy it shamelessly.
          BTW, the Swedish parliament is 43% female. That’s incredibly high. And one of the ways they did it was by insisting on a “sandwich list” of candidates in one of the parties. That is, every second person on a candidate’s list *must* be a woman. It seems to have worked.

  4. RD said”The question is why we prevent women in this country from being taken seriously, especially when some of the most stable and productive countries in the world are run by women? ”

    OK, I’ll play.

    Women in this country don’t take themselves seriously.
    They abuse their bodies in dieting for the sake of men.
    Wear high heels that defy walking in order to appear helpless and silly.
    It projects an image of girls are just not serious about important things.
    So many follow blindly any man who offers some comfort.
    Refuse to accept equal rights and want to be taken care of.

    When women act strong and serious and use their superior
    skills to push and compete equally, then this country will take women seriously.
    Laura Logan comes to mind as being one who is taken seriously.

    • Nope, I don’t think this is the reason. For one thing, look at the women in these pictures. They are all attractive, they wear makeup, probably heels too. That hasn’t stopped them from reaching the top in their countries and taken seriously.
      In contrast, look at Bair, Born and Romer. They are practical looking women. Professionally dressed but certainly not calling attention to themselves. If anything, American female politicians tend to downplay their femininity.
      I propose a different hypothesis. I think American women have spent the last 40 years calling attention to their genitalia and reproductive abilities that the have focussed all attention on their physical bodies and not their minds. NOW and NARAL have spent almost all of their energy on abortion rights. This has been a gigantic mistake. Had they pressed on with demands for gender equality and accountability, abortion would have been much harder to get rid of. The ERA died in 1982. That’s almost 30 years ago.
      We have been fighting the wrong battle. Instead of seeing us as unique persons with intelligent minds and demanding respect, we have been forced to wear a Roe v Wade burqa. That’s all the country sees of us. And it calls attention to our situation. Women can be forced to do things that men can’t.
      In this country, we allowed biology to become our destiny. We deliberately tied our free will to the body. To separate the two does not mean we have to give up femininity. It means we need to demand equality for our minds. Because taking off your heels won’t help you if your male colleagues are not held accountable for treating you like a second class brain.

      • Right on, RD! Righteous, too.

      • “…if your male colleagues who have third class brains, if even those, are not held accountable for treating you like a second class brain.”

        FIFY. :twisted:

      • I don’t know. I think you might as well take off your heals and your make up and be comfortable. All women are naturally beautiful when they are young and when they are old. No matter what you do, as you age, asswipes like tweety are going to make remarks about you aging in office.

      • Because taking off your heels won’t help you if your male colleagues are not held accountable for treating you like a second class brain.

        Yes, this. Also, when we women see that happen, what do we do? Really, I have had this kind of thing happen to me in front of other women and THEY turn away or deny seeing it. All of us are chicken shit when it comes to speaking up for other women or worse many women join the choir of men berating the woman for saying anything in the first place.

        We really do have to defend the rights of all women to be treated as equals and I believe this includes being treated as equals as we walk through the world, not just in a business meeting or business setting.

        Women have to give each other equality to help us demand it from the world. We need to have each other’s backs.

      • The industry where I work is in the wine country in N. Calif. I am a woman with 2 professional degrees and work in a “man’s job” ( landscape construction ) As I look around in this fun and wonderful place, I see women who are doing what they do to please the men in power. Instead of direct competition with the men around them,.

        RD …high heels.

        I saw a short film made in China with subtitles telling of a Joan of Arc type woman who lived as a man in the late 1890’s in China. She broke every rule of current society. She exposed the truth and horror of the ancient Chinese custom of foot binding.

        It showed pictures of actual feet on actual women.
        Bones were broken in the girls so to make the foot a very certain shape.
        That shape is exactly the shape a woman’s foot takes when wearing 4 in spikes with those ultimate pointy toe.
        Coincidence ? I think not.

        Think about it.
        ( And I am not talking about 2 in heels.)
        And I am not talking about femininity or
        attractiveness.

        I am saying women laugh at very very sexist jokes all the time out of our desire to please. We do not give ourselves power.
        Many women were worse sexists against Hillary than the men.

        Attempts to hobble women is as old as the sun. What also hasn’t changed is that women willingly do it to themselves for no other reason than some vain silly kiss up to power. ( men)
        I can barely take women seriously and I are one.

        • I love high heels. I don’t have many opportunities to wear them but my legs are my best feature and heels make them look great. I don’t wear them to please others. I wear them because *I* like them.
          You don’t need to wear them all the time and you don’t have to wear them to attract anybody. You can just wear them because you look damn good in them and it makes you feel powerful.
          Boots also look good. If you have a nice butt, buy a hips hugging pencil skirt or jeans. Whatever it is that makes you feel good. A work of art can be admired by both sexes without triggering groping and condescension. In fact, i think wearing what makes you feel confident actually *helps* you in the end.
          Foot binding is a completely different animal. That was inhumane but was done in the mistaken belief that women whose feet were bound never had to work in the fields. It was a symbol of class. But it was also largely involuntary disfiguration, which is why it was stopped.
          No one is forcing you to wear high heels and I refuse to condemn them.

    • So much fail, where to begin? What you are really saying is that when women are just perrrfect enough for you, strong and smart without being a ball-busting dyke bitch (which is the usual interpretation of female brain power–see Hillary nutcracker), you might deign to take them seriously. So, taking women seriously is something that depends on a ) your personal say-so and b) involves behaviours that will get them not taken seriously.

      Maybe it’s your responsibility to stop treating us like silly little shoe-shopping twats, not ours to live up to your contradictory standards. (see your reference to dieting.)

  5. It seems our neck is firmly wedged into the fork of a forked stick. It may be that if we don’t figure this out first, we cannot figure out anything else and we cannot save ourselves, eachother, and the country. But it may take so long to figure this out that by the time we get this figured out, America may be unsalvageable. That may be our realtime political Greek Tragedy. We may be a Doomed Civilization, a Dead Nation Walking.
    From the male side, perhaps the Mainstream Culture of HeManly Machismo may poison the minds of all those brought up in it to respect individual women and also any man who fails to live down to the anti-standards of Machismo. What lies behind Arnold Schwarzenegger’s derisive insults against the “girly man” or the recreational pleasure-murder of Matthew Shephard in Wyoming? If those things are not related to anti-womanism, then that suggested link is a sterile blind alley best not pursued. If those things ARE related to anti-womanism, then understanding them may be a key to understanding anti-womanism too.
    From the female side, what explains Phyllis Schlafly and the millions of women who joined her crusade against ERA to express their hatred and rejection of gender equality and their hatred and rejection of those women who sought gender equality? Do they also have to be understood as a wellspring of anti-womanism?
    In the pragmatic here-and-now, mainstream AngloSaxamerican culture respects the successful application of force . . violently, non-violently, or otherwise. Could there be men who would like to respect women but are afraid to be seen to do so by their own free choice? Are they just waiting and hoping to be forced? Is one way to “force” that respect a visible display of damaging or destroying the key interests of certain key men who do NOT even WANT to respect women?
    I remember towards the final stages of the Baucus-Obama Forced Mandate Insurance Bill, that the Democratic Leadership put some anti-womanitic provisions into the bill to make Bart Stupak happy. I remember commenting on Hullabaloo at that time that this was an opportunity for any pro-woman Congresswomen to strike fear and terror into the hearts of their enemies by voting against that bill and thereby killing Baucus-Obama good and dead. They would thereby show just how Very Serious they were by destroying something that was Very Important to their so-called “coalition” so-called “partners”.
    In a culture based on force and fear, destroying something dear to someone who looks down on you and patronizes you at best is a way
    to educate them that patronizing you is very risky.
    As to the Very Serious People problem, the only solution I can think of is for the whole OSWer-sympathetic broader community, if such a thing really exists to someday arise, to at least set itself the goal of destroying the public image and reputation of every single Very Serious Person in public life, one by one by one; until such a vacuum is created in the ranks of the Very Serious People that women of the sort referrenced in this article are able to beat their way into the emppty spaces within its ranks through the judicious use of whatever tire iron and blackjacks are most appropriate.

  6. RD,

    You raise a very important point that indirectly is also partly about the role of money in politics. I am pretty familiar with Australian politics and how people get recruited into politics is different then it is in the USA. Student politics at universities is taken quite seriously there. The parties keep a close eye on which student politicians are doing a good job, and which aren’t. It is much like the way major league baseball teams look at minor league teams.

    Do a good job and you will be noticed by headquarters. As an example, consider the career of Natasha Stott Despoja (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natasha_Stott_Despoja). She became the youngest member ever of the Australian Senate at age 26.

    Since it is the political party which hands out the campaign money, a potential politician need not be rich. A lot of Australian politicians were former teachers, a career in Australia as in the US which is dominated by women. Occupations dominated by men tend to pay far more than occupations dominated by women, but in Australia that doesn’t matter since the party takes care of the campaign finances. Therefore
    potential politicians can come from all sorts of occupations including the ones which are dominated by women.

    The Australian Democrat party (1977 to 2008) was during its heyday in the 80’s and 90’s the third party in Australia. Important legislation from either of the two big parties often did not get passed without some deal being cut with the Democrats. Six of the eleven party leaders were women and most were also teachers at some point in their life.

    Universities are evenly split by gender so that simply the pool of potential female and male student politicians are about the same insuring that there is no disadvantage by gender based just on numbers. Making campaign finance the responsibility of the party
    allows people from more diverse occupations to get involved. Both of these factors are big reasons which account for the greater number of women in Australian politics when compared to American politics.

  7. This piece is first rate as are the comments. But if you break it down to the most simple interaction, it is women who defer to men. Always. It does not matter how smart, ambitious, well educated, or agressive they will always find a way to defer. They want to join the club but they will never be allowed to do so. They keep plugging away, often damanging other women along the way when they do not have to do so in attempts to join. This has been blamed on culture but I think it is hardwired into their brains. Why they are taken seriously when it is so obvious what they are doing in every level of society I have never understood. Women need to call them on it and then stop them because men never will because they are serving them. Men use them to herd other women and we need it to end.

  8. Great piece RD, and the Ted talk vid. My gen grew up believing in equality — so when Hillary got the chance, whew. It was a pinnacle for women Dems. I loved the part about “that she will be liked” at the end of the talk. How true that talk was. Looking back, I wish I had dropped out of corporate from day one. Oh well. I have now and I will never, ever go back to that. I think there is a way to do what we want for the next 30 years, somehow. Hillary’s gen had it much easier than ours did in terms of women running things and the kudos — they got. “That she will be liked” — I think that is what shocked so many of us when we saw what happened. She “wasn’t liked” for having so much power. This goes all the way back to the cookie recipe years ago. I totally remember when she was savaged for that ages ago — that she didn’t want to be home baking cookies. Really sad, because many of us see women like her as role models. In that corporate world I worked in, men ran everything. It was hell getting out of college and being in that atmosphere. For B’s gen, I hope it will be different.

    • “Hillary’s gen had it much easier than ours did in terms of women running things and the kudos — they got.” Then I assume you’re 80?

      • I was assuming she was a genXer. I wonder who is right.

        • I assumed gen-x too. That was the backlash generation (I am a member of…) my mother was promoted through initiatives to help women gain leadership before affirmative action became a dirty word.

          Those things were gone when I joined the workforce but the attitudes left in the wake of helping any woman or suggesting we are successful only because we are helped unfairly were alive an well.

          These things don’t happen to men:
          My mom had her boss arrive at our home hoping for a “date” back in the late 70’s. Over 10 years later, I had a boss who wanted me to come to his house to fix his home computer. Maybe he really wanted me to fix his computer… I don’t know, but even then computers weren’t so big that he couldn’t carry it to work. And why didn’t he ask a real PC Tech/installer for that kind of help?

          I could write a book about things like this happening to me (and my mom before me) and both of us were computer programmers, not exactly “out there” or even in very social work roles.

        • Hillary is a Boomer. She was in college when King and others were assassinated. Later she was on the DC legal team that worked to get Nixon impeached. Look up her speech at Wellesley.

        • I assume she’s a genXer, too. One that has no idea what it was like for women of Hillary’s generation to try to succeed in any traditionally male occupation or even to assume a position of power in a traditionally female field. A woman as a principal of a school was a rarity in the 60’s and 70’s. Maybe if her generation hadn’t decided that pole dancing was an empowering form of female expression, they might have continued the push forward.

          • I think valentine has a point. We straddle the baby boom/gen-X era. Yes, Hillary’s generation had a tough uphill climb. But those of us who came afterwards expected better treatment in the workplace and we are NOT getting it. That’s what makes it kinda worse. You study and climb over obstacles in school and work for years at a junior level and by the time your experience should count for something, you find a bunch of obnoxious guys in a little clique standing in your way. And the supreme court tells you you have nothing to complain about because the pattern of behavior is so subtle that it slips under the radar and no one is empowered to actually quantify and measure it. Do you know they have programs to ferret out this shit in scandinavian countries. They know what’s going on.
            Then there’s the whole scale effort to roll back reproductive rights, which is something that women of Hillary’s era were pretty united around. Nobody wanted to keep the back alley abortionists going because they saw how devastating it was. Now, we ave to rejustify it Nd it is zapping our ability to right overall gender inequality.
            So, yeah, the backlash was sharp and severe and it looks like largely successful.
            We should be on top of the world right now and we have a dude in the White House who treats his female staff like brainless tokens. We had it better in 1992 when Clinton was elected for the first time. We have slid backwards since then.

          • The backlash you speak of is real, but women are in great part to blame for it. Instead of picking up the ball and running with it, many women of your age and younger don’t even want to wear the feminist label. Buying into all of the negativity that surrounds it and perpetuating it. While the women before you might have raised your expectations too high, their expectation was that you would demand what you had come to believe was your due. Perhaps someday the real history of what happened will be written, but today the myths seem to be enough for you. Women of Hillary’s generation were not united behind the push for legalized abortion. Many women felt that the greatest effort should be behind getting the ERA passed. There was a faction of the feminist movement who did feel strongly that women could not be equal in the workplace without access to abortion, and there were many men who wanted women to have access to abortions, too. They prevailed and abortion rights came first. which turned a lot of women off. It still does. And now we have the sword of Damocles hanging over our heads, no ERA, and generations of women too whiny to do anything about it except compain that women who couldn’t get into medical school had it easier than women who have to fight to get promoted to Chief of Surgery.

          • We expected too much??? WTF?
            We *expected* to be treated as equals in every facet of life. That is not too much. That’s the bare fucking minimum. If there are women working against us, I suspect it is people like yourself who tell us that with all of our education and years of work experience that we are expecting too much if we want to be taken seriously.
            If other countries can get close to gender equality, there is no excuse, none whatsoever, that we can’t do it.
            Jeez, we have women who have lost their legs in Iraq and we expect too much.
            I’m fucking speechless. You really need to reevaluate that statement.

      • no, am younger than Hillary! I am like RD! went to college expecting to get degree — went to work, years worth, went back for masters — none of it means anything here…it doesn’t! — not for our gen. The more I think of Hillary, the more I think of the men I worked for? They hate that power that she had. Hate that. She is Feminism? She is. Her gen had that, they had other women helping. Our gen did not. Every woman for herself in corporate. Really. And if you had kids? Yeah how? How were you going to be both things? Almost impossible. You could be a mom and lose career or you could try and do both? — Either was impossible — too much. In Hillary’s gen, those women got a chance.

  9. We never did lead in cultural innovation. Slavery, segregation, gender equality, and freedom from religion we always lagged the continent.

  10. Right on, RD! :)

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