This week, I have been thinking about American culture, and shaking my head in disgust. For example, I noticed that Oscar-winning actress Renee Zellweger is starring in a new movie. When I saw the publicity shots for the film, my jaw dropped, as it was obvious Ms. Zellweger, at the ripe old age of 39, has had a great deal of cosmetic surgery done on her face. As a result, she now bears a startling resemblance to Nicole Kidman and has all the expressiveness of a Madame Tussaud’s mannequin. But darn it, she doesn’t have wrinkles anymore, so I suppose it’s all for the best! And then there’s another Oscar-winning actress, Gabrielle Anwar, who currently stars in USA’s hit television show, “Burn Notice.” She used to look like this, but now looks like this. Ms. Anwar is certainly anorexic, yet is portrayed as a sexy, irresistible bombshell on the show. No normal woman could ever achieve a look like hers without literally starving herself to death.
Why are actresses refusing to age, and to eat, in order to keep their jobs?
A more pointed question is this: In a world where the feminine principle dominates, do we really think that these women would torture themselves in order to morph into some bizarre, impossible ideal of feminine beauty?
The New Agenda editor Dr. Violet Socks has defined the patriarchy as a vast ocean in which we are all fish, and states that every feminist learns to taste the water at a different time in his or her life. I would like to tweak this metaphor a little, and argue that if we are all fish, we rot from the head first.
In other words, the culture that defines women by their perceived sexuality, youth and fertility is an outgrowth of government. If we change the government, we will change the culture. Continue reading
Be forewarned, ladies. If you dare to think you are entitled to equal representation in government, you are doing something called “femi-whining.”
Don Surber says so, and his post made the “best of the blogs” on RealClearPolitics, so he must have a point. Right?
Surber objects to an article by Anne Kornblut of The Washington Post, in which she mentioned – gasp - numbers! (We all know girls can’t do math, right, Larry Summers?) In any case, Ms. Kornblut uses the fact that only 16 (now 17 again) out of 100 Senators are women. His intelligent and informed response to this?
Boo hoo hoo.
Senators are elected. Before you are elected you have to run. It was pretty hard for Minnesota to elect a woman this year because both major candidates were men. But if Norma Coleman and Alice Franken had run… well, we still would not have a winner but I think my point is made.
Clinton was not elected president because she was not a woman? Well, of the 20 leading contenders last year, 18 men were denied the job as well.
But Kornblut lives in a world where women are entitled to 50 Senate seats without bothering to campaign for them (emphasis added).
Yes, Don Surber, it IS nonsense. And let me tell you why.
What the hell is our problem, feminists of America?
As the hair-flipping, tweeny-bopper-imitating Naomi Wolf giddily claimed on the Teevee, we have instantly achieved all we could possibly want simply by electing Barack Obama to be our next President. I mean, hel-LLLLLOOOOO! What else could we possibly desire? Why don’t we just go away, and stop embarrassing well-behaved womens’ magazines so? Perhaps we should consult with our pastors and husbands before opening our big fat mouths again!
Well, Naomi dahlink, we have ISSUES – and not the emotional kind.
Just as no one in the corporate media or the Democratic Party would admit that the objections of millions of Democratic activists to Barack Obama were based on something other than race, patriarchy-enablers like Ms. Wolf refuse to acknowledge that feminist objections to Obama are based on…anything at all.
But we do object; we object most strenuously. In a year when Senator Hillary Clinton became the first woman to win a primary, and went on to win the most primary votes of any candidate, male or female; in a year when Governor Sarah Palin became the first vice-presidential nominee in 24 years (and the first one from the Republican Party), Ms. Magazine chose to highlight a man on the cover of their magazine – and not just any man: a man that had run a blatantly misogynistic campaign in order to defeat these women, and to win the Presidency of the United States. What woman worth her uterus would not be a tad exercised at this revolting development?
(cross-posted from Heidi Li’s Potpourri)
Watch the video here. Listen to The New Agenda’s executive director Amy Siskind succeed as she raises pertinent, relatively mild objections, to the Ms. Magazine cover for its special inauguration issue. Then listen to Ms. Magazine’s executive editor Katherine Spillar as she first a) dodges the issue, which is not whether men can be feminists, but whether there is any basis for referring to this man, President-elect Obama, as “what a feminist looks like” and then b) tells people to read the magazine so as to understand the cover (read = buy the magazine) and then c) evidently indicated to the CNN anchors that subscriptions to the magazine are up because of the inauguration cover, and thus the cover was a good idea.
Successful covers do not require a magazine to explain or justify their meaning. For example, most thoughtful criticisms of The New Yorker’s satirical cover of the Obamas faulted the cover for being failed satire: for its failure to broadcast its satire and thus its potential to be taken too seriously. In other words, that cover, in many people’s opinion, failed on its own terms. Similarly the Ms. Magazine cover fails on it own terms. The intention was not to satirize the claim that Barack Obama, who has not one achievement in public life that can be considered as his own contribution to advancing feminism, is the paradigm of a feminist. No, the intention was tell us just what the cover said: that Barack Obama is a feminist, indeed a heroic – if closeted – one (note it is only his undershirt that reveals the truth of his feminism). If the intention was to say that men can be feminists, they should have put Bill Clinton, who put his career on hold to assist his wife achieve greatness in hers, on the cover. Or they could have put Terry McAuliffe on the cover, for his unwavering devotion to a candidate who happened to be female but who also had a record of standing by the once-core Democratic Party principles that have, in the past, made many of us proud to be Democrats. No way was Ms. Magazine’s intent to suggest that men can be feminists, a point that anybody who has given two thoughts to feminism gets.
Apart from an intent to laud and fuss over President-elect Obama, the intent of the Ms. Magazine cover is the intent of most magazines: to sell the merchandise. Fair enough, some will say. What’s wrong with trying to sell the merch? Generally, in the case of magazines not much. But Ms. Magazine was founded to lead a cause. If it simply wants to bump up subscriptions – assuming there’s enough data in yet to support the claim that the current cover does that – then Ms. Magazine should, straightaway, start with centerfolds labeling whoever is trendy at the moment as a stealth feminist. For those with more salable physiques, have them pull the over-clothes apart a little more widely; or maybe pose them with the slogan on the back of their panties, briefs or boxers, and wearing nothing else. They can shyly peek over their shoulder, indicating that they themselves are as surprised as the rest of us that Ms. Magazine has singled them out as archetypical feminists.
In the CNN interview, Ms. Spillar says “some people” have “overreacted” to the cover. This sounds an awful lot like the sexist tropes used by the cover subject’s language during the primary season, such as his imagery about Senator Clinton’s “claws” and “fangs” coming out. Just who is Ms. Spillar calling “some people”? Women. You know, the people whose claws and fangs come out when they get periodically down.
Ms. Spillar, you are completely correct that a man can be feminist. And in your interview today you demonstrated the corollary, that a woman can be a misogynist, belittling the concerns of those who once depended on publications like Ms. Magazine to give voice – and the front cover – to matters central to equalizing opportunities for 51 percent of this country’s population.
“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
By now, we have all seen the infamous Ms. Magazine cover of Barack Obama in Clark Kent drag, opening his jacket to reveal a T-shirt where the Superman “S” should be. The T-shirt proclaims, “This is what a feminist looks like.” It was a shocking, and yet predictable, hommage to a richly undeserving male by a so-called bastion of women’s liberation; the ultimate poke in the eye after the endorsements of NARAL and NOW for the all-male Obama-Biden ticket enraged us in the general election.
There are so many reasons to be horrified by this cover art, but the one that really strikes me is that the meaning of the word “feminist” is going the way of the word “liberal.” Just as some of those on the leftish side of politics took up the mantle of “progressive” in order to avoid the increasingly negative connotations of the “liberal” label, some female activists are wondering if the word “feminist” should continue to be used to describe us.
I believe, however, that allowing one’s enemies to control one’s language is a huge mistake. Instead of dropping the word “feminist,” we should restate its meaning in the strongest and clearest of terms:
For example, this year, two women made history in a spectacular way. Senator Hillary Clinton was the first female candidate to win a primary election, then went on to win more primary votes than any candidate had ever received, male or female. Governor Sarah Palin became the first female Vice-Presidential nominee in 24 years. Yet who did the “feminist” organizations of our time endorse for President and Vice President? On whom did the “feminist” pundits lavish their praise? And whom did Ms. Magazine choose for its cover?
A man. A demonstrably misogynist man, who surrounds himself with people like Larry Summers and Rick Warren, and has only half the women in his Cabinet as the last Democratic President, Bill Clinton.
After witnessing more virulent and naked woman-hatred than I ever thought possible this year, I have realized that “Women First” is what the patriarchy fears. It fears that we will finally throw off our culturally-ingrained desire to erase and abase ourselves for men; that we will use our power of refusal for more than just sex; and that we will take away the advantage that every male child enjoys over every female child simply for being born with an extra scrap of flesh hanging off of his pelvis.
The knowledge of the possible loss of power and privilege is the origin of all the terror that the punditry and both Parties expressed when Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin loomed large on the horizon. No wonder Tucker Carlson said that he wanted to cross his legs every time he saw Hillary – in a very real sense, she would have castrated him and his fellow members of the partriarchy, by rendering his penis less significant in society.
McAuliffe also brings a political portfolio well to the left of Democrats Mark R. Warner and [Tim] Kaine, who toiled in the state party for years before they were elected governor by pledging bipartisan cooperation and campaigning as moderates. (From the AP via WTOP, emphasis added)
It has been quite the weekend for political announcements. Our illiberal President-elect is consolidating his takeover of the Democratic Party by appointing another illiberal to head the DNC – Tim Kaine, outgoing governor of Virginia. Meanwhile, Terry McAuliffe has announced his formal bid for the governorship of Virginia. (Click anywhere below to go to the video announcement on Terry’s site.)
As a liberal, I applaud Terry McAuliffe’s decision to run for governor of Virginia. Terry has worked hard for other liberals, most obviously for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign. I heard Terry give his reasons for supporting Senator Clinton on various occasions. He supported her candidacy because he believed (as did I, and millions of others) that she was both the most qualified member of the field and the most liberal of the field, in the American tradition of liberalism. That tradition calls upon people to work hard for their personal successes. Consider, for example, Terry’s own work to build a number of successful businesses, work that meant he has neither needed nor sought a salary for his work in politics, including his stint as DNC Chair, when he actually managed to put the DNC on a sound financial footing (an accomplishment soon squandered by the now almost-never-heard-from Howard Dean). American liberalism also calls upon government, applying measures available within its Constitutionally delimited sphere, to provide an equal opportunity for anybody’s hard work to pay off. Although nobody is guaranteed a pay off in this tradition, everybody is guaranteed a fairly level playing field, at least in principle. Continue reading
I have a picture of my daughter’s karyotype. When I first saw it, I had no idea that she would be as lively, brilliant, artistic and musical as she turned out to be. All I knew is that she was a girl. I just assumed that things would be easier for her in the 21st century. How wrong I was.
The new administration would have us believe that women are “special interests”. This is incorrect. We make up 51% of the population in this country. What does it mean when the country considers the majority “special”? Do we have some kind of mental insufficiency that causes us to be less than equal in a country where we outnumber every other group? What the hell is that all about anyway? Why have we allowed an advantage in upper body strength to become an insurmountable disadvantage for women? Buy a taser and learn to roundhouse kick. Even the odds, ladies.
One of the things I have learned as a blogger is that in this medium, women have the most control they will ever have in their entire lives. They don’t even have to identify themselves as women, although it would defeat the purpose if they do not. But if they choose to, they can snap the heads off the macho morons who try to intimidate them into silence. A woman can choose to engage in a dialogue. Or not. And yet time after time, I hear complaints from women who are actually hurt and lose their courage because some little collection of black dots on a monitor told them to “f%&K off” or said they were ugly or old or fat or c^&(*ts. One of the reasons The Conflucnce exists is because I was banned from speaking at DailyKos but there is a HUGE blogosphere out there and I was not going to let a bunch of Favreau type Obamaphiles stick a sock in my mouth.
The new administration is going to dance with the ones what brung them. That would not be us. When Obama and the Democrats sit down to craft legislation on the economy or any other issue, they are going to placate the ones who bought and paid for them and they are going to use the seriousness of the crisis to argue that our interests, the *common* interests, can’t be addressed because they would be a distraction. The problem is that they will always be a distraction to the minority middle aged white guys who run this country. We can’t let them get away with that. Since Barack Obama seems rather fond of Ronald Reagan, he should remember one of Reagan’s most memorable lines when dealing with entities who may not have your best interests at heart: “Trust but verify.” Before Congress passes any legislation, we should insist that we all see the fine print. We should insist that all bills are posted for public comment before they are passed. We should see who is using their leverage to move money and mountains. And we should make sure that our interests are addressed.
Woman are not “special”. They are the General Welfare.
I would like to call your attention to three links today that should get you thinking about what it means to be a member of the majority in a country and world where we have not learned to respect ourselves and throw our weight around.
- Betty Jean at Free Us Now has an update on her daughter Louisa’s condition. For those of you new to the story, Louisa was shot in the face with a shotgun. The monster who did it is her former brother in law, George, who spent three months in prison last year for taking a hammer to the head of Louisa’s sister, Denise. Denise is suffering from ovarian cancer and wouldn’t give George her pain medication so he split open her scalp with a hammer. Louisa is not going to make it. Her brain function was severely impacted by the blast. She has lost one of her eyes. She is non-responsive. Betty Jean is heartbroken and angry. Her message is powerful in Women are Disposable Assets. Send some positive thoughts to Betty Jean and her family during this very trying time in their lives. No one deserves this.
- Nicolas Kristoff of the New York Times is one of the best columnists around when it comes to the issue of human trafficking and sexual slavery. In If This Isn’t Slavery, What Is?, he has a powerful column and video about what happens to Southeast Asian girls who are kidnapped and sold into prostitution. And he has a message for Barack Obama. Bravo, Mr Kristoff.
- In her post, The Panther, Darragh Murphy highlights the life of Rebecca West, a pioneering woman journalist of the 20th century and feminist. I love this quote from West: “I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.”
Yes, indeed, that is why we’re here. We refused to be a doormat. Words to live by. Now, get out there and pick yourselves up off the damn porch and stand tall.
This post, The Personal is NOT Political, will sear a hole in your monitor. Here’s a sample but I encourage you to read the whole thing:
And how enormously stupid are we to have bought the lie that only “I” am a woman. That only “I” have the authentic experience and the true understanding of what it actually means to be a woman. Because I was raped; because I was passed over for a job promotion; because I’m a lesbian; because my father abandoned the family; because I couldn’t go to college; because I’m a single mother; because I’m black, or asian, or from the third world; because I’m a success in a man’s world; because I had a sex change operation; because I am a mother; because I had an abortion. Only “I” define womanhood and feminism and right thinking. Well, me and all my friends in my pretty little corner.
Why is the statement “The personal is political” a lie? Because of what the word personal means. It means our bodies and our beds. Pregnancy, breasts, motherhood, weight, ugliness, sex, sex, sex, and more sex, rape, abortion, birth control, marriage, weddings, wives, ex-wives, dumped wives, pornography. It puts the bit of womanhood between our teeth and sets us on an endless loop around the bedroom bridle path where the yellow wallpaper is just as mesmerizing but the presence of a few sister horses beside us makes us feel less lonely. The personal is political is a lie because it limits the scope of politics to a world comprised of stirrups and orgasms.
No thanks. Not until we spit the bit out of our mouths and take up our rightful identities as PERSONS will we see a woman in the White House. Not until we leave our god-forsaken beds back in our bedrooms where they belong and put our never-ending FEELINGS in a big black box with the inscription “ONLY OPEN IN TIME OF GREAT NEED” marked in deep gold lettering on the lid and store that private box on a shelf in our private closets of personal experience will we be anything more than the pathetic bunch of losers that men want us to believe we are.
The world’s greatest SWINDLE sent us to our bedrooms to look at ourselves naked in the mirror FOREVER and tricked us into thinking that our only importance to the world is what we think and how we feel about the image looking back at us.
Get with the program, ladies. If you want to have power in this world, if you don’t want the Jon Favreaus of this world acting like an adolescent male hooligan while he pens Barack Obama’s speeches,
you are going to have to do like Lady MacBeth and unsex yourself, conjure the evil spirits and fill yourself with dire cruelty. You need to harden your heart and practice cold blooded pragmatism. You need to let the jabs and criticism roll off of you and learn how to run interference for each other instead of collaborating with the enemy. And they ARE the enemy. Not men per se, because there are a lot of women in on this, but the political system that has been created by men and custom.
This holiday season, go to that gender segregated party in your suburb, walk into the kitchen where the guys are all clustered around the keg of Sam Adams and express an opinion. Hang out with the ladies in the family room who are talking about their menstrual cycles and their labor stories and say something completely unrelated, like, “Do you ever expect to see a woman president in your lifetime?”
Shake it up, baby. It’s time.