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    • What May’s Brexit Deal Tells Us About The EU and Britain’s Future
      So, May has a Brexit deal. It’s a terrible deal, which makes the UK subject to many EU laws, and which doesn’t allow Britain to withdraw from the deal if the EU doesn’t want it to. This has caused ministerial resignations, and Corbyn has come out against it. But the interesting part is what the […]
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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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Moving toward a “public plan” inch by painful inch and we STILL don’t know what we’ll have when it’s done!

[UPDATE: Reid to Republicans: Nevermind]

My head is reeling  – DID Obama slap-down Rahm Emanuel? — I don’t think so:

“I am pleased by the progress we’re making on health care reform and still believe, as I’ve said before, that one of the best ways to bring down costs, provide more choices, and assure quality is a public option that will force the insurance companies to compete and keep them honest,” read the statement. “I look forward to a final product that achieves these very important goals.”

The vague reassurance came hours after Obama’s own chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel suggested that the White House would be comfortable with legislation that had a public plan “triggered” in only by worsening economic conditions.

Vague assurances make a tasty headline but, I have to agree with Crooks and Liars commenter all hail the hypno toad: Continue reading

Wednesday Morning News

Continuing our collaboration from yesterday, BostonBoomer has made an incredible contribution to today’s list of links!  This time though we’re mixing them up.

  • Is the U.S. Attorney case still going on? Who knew? Rove deposed in US attorney probe

    Rove’s deposition began at 10 a.m. and ended around 6:30 p.m, with several breaks, Conyers said
    . . . .
    “He was deposed today,” Conyers said in an interview. “That’s all I can tell you.”


  • US Senators have second thoughts on health benefits tax

    “It remains a significant option, but we’re looking at other options,” Conrad told reporters Tuesday. “When you go out and ask people across the country, their initial reaction is, they don’t like it.”


  • Bernie Sanders takes on Rahm Emanuel on health care.

    “I think that it is fair to say that there are a number of us who would not be voting for anything resembling a Baucus-type plan as we understand it right now,” the senator told the Huffington Post, referring to Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus’ effort at constructing a reform bill.


  • Howard Dean: Private Health Care Is Breaking Our Economy

    This is one of the many problems the Senate is now having. They are focused on anything but the American people. But the insurance companies will be fine. It won’t happen overnight, and they’ll make plenty of money. But this is not a matter of making the insurance companies happy. This is a matter of making the 72 percent of the people who want a public option happy, including the 50 percent of Republicans who want a public option.


  • Amadinejad waves away large insect during speech:
    Dark humor and shouts in response to Ahmadinejad speech (this definitely makes more sense AFTER watching the video!)


  • Obama says the US has “absolutely not” given Israel the go ahead to attack Iran’s nukes.

    However, he did defend his deputy, who was accused of being gaffe-prone by rivals during the 2008 presidential election campaign.”I think Vice-President Biden stated a categorical fact which is we can’t dictate to other countries what their security interests are,” Mr Obama added.

    We wonder where Biden will be going next? Siberia?


  • Reid slams door on second stimulus

    “A little less than 90 percent still needs to be put out to the American people, and we’re in the process of doing that. It’s going to move more quickly now. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no showing to me that another stimulus is needed,” Reid said emphatically.


  • Why the imp in your brain gets out

    Perverse impulses seem to arise when people focus intensely on avoiding specific errors or taboos. The theory is straightforward: to avoid blurting out that a colleague is a raging hypocrite, the brain must first imagine just that; the very presence of that catastrophic insult, in turn, increases the odds that the brain will spit it out.


  • Ahhh…. Dogs who can tell when their owner’s blood sugar gets too low or can detect cancer.

    Last year, researchers from Queen’s University in Belfast decided to investigate anecdotal reports from dog owners who said their pets warned them of hypoglycemic attacks.


  • Taibbi: New Secrecy Rule Lets Goldman Sachs Control Stock Prices Unmolested by Public Scrutiny

    “The NYSE announced that it will no longer be releasing its weekly program trading data,” Taibbi wrote in a blog posting. “This is quiet obviously a move designed to make it even more impossible to track what’s going on in the NYSE and shield, in particular, Goldman Sachs.”


  • The Man Who Crashed the World

    “It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak,” Obama said testily. “All right?”

    It’s unlikely that he actually did know what he was talking about, except in the broadest outlines. Nor, for that matter, did the people who had engineered the bailout. How could they? At no point did anyone from the U.S. Treasury or the U.S. Congress, or any of the various New York State authorities that had gotten involved, call them up, much less visit A.I.G.

    Inside the collapse of A.I.G.


  • Wildfires Are Linked to Global Warming — But Media Obscure the Relationship

    Early last summer, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that California’s fire season now lasts all 365 days of the year. At the time, nearly 2,000 separate wildfires were burning across the Golden State;
    . . .
    With one notable exception, from the San Francisco Chronicle, none of the coverage explored the possibility that the fire might be linked to climate change, despite ample evidence that such a link exists.


  • Alec Baldwin interested in congressional run

    “I’ll put it this way,” he told the magazine. “The desire is there; that’s one component. The other component is opportunity.”


  • Remembering the funny Al Franken. I’ve loved Al since his days doing The Franken & Davis show on Saturday Night Live. I’ll never forget when he broadcast “LIVE” from the first Gulf War with a satellite dish taped to his head!

  • You won’t want to miss this! Be sure to set your alarms. . . . Today is 123456789 Day!

    Plenty on Facebook and Twitter are spreading reminders or cluing others in. Rainn Wilson, the actor who plays Dwight on “The Office,” tweeted about it, and on Facebook, pages popped up commemorating the date. Jon Everett, a 23-year-old University of Texas at Austin employee, created a Facebook page about the date with more than 600 Facebook users R.S.V.P.-ing yes to his “two-second celebration.”


  • Researchers: Social Security Numbers Can Be Guessed

    The Social Security number’s first three digits — called the “area number” — is issued according to the Zip code of the mailing address provided in the application form. The fourth and fifth digits — known as the “group number” — transition slowly, and often remain constant over several years for a given region. The last four digits are assigned sequentially.

    As a result, SSNs assigned in the same state to applicants born on consecutive days are likely to contain the same first four or five digits, particularly in states with smaller populations and rates of birth.

    THAT’s easy enough to test. . . Just find someone with the same birthday as you and see how close your SSNs are (My experience?  2 digits off).