• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    William on What Fate Is Ours?
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on What Fate Is Ours?
    William on What Fate Is Ours?
    William on What Fate Is Ours?
    William on What Fate Is Ours?
    jmac on What Fate Is Ours?
    Beata on What Fate Is Ours?
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Media-Created “Reality…
    Propertius on Media-Created “Reality…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Media-Created “Reality…
    Propertius on Media-Created “Reality…
    Propertius on Media-Created “Reality…
    Beata on Media-Created “Reality…
    Propertius on Media-Created “Reality…
    Beata on Media-Created “Reality…
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    December 2021
    S M T W T F S
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    262728293031  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • What Would Chinese Democracy Look Like?
      A few months ago I read a couple of books by the Singaporean intellectual Kishore Mahbubani. In “Has China Already Won he discusses Taiwan. The one exceptional trigger for a war involving China is Taiwan. Most of the time, the Chinese leaders have a lot of policy flexibility. There are no strong domestic lobbies to worry about. But the one issue where the Ch […]
  • Top Posts

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.


Digg!!! Tweet!!! Share!!!

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

Wednesday: Maelstrom

The last time woman took charge

The last time woman took charge

The atmosphere is pretty charged lately, isn’t it? Are you hanging in there? It’s going to get increasingly stormy as immovable object meets irresistable force. The party is so determined to install Obama that is willing to tear itself to shreds before our very eyes to do it. And all this self destruction for what purpose? So Hillary Clinton will never be president? What’s that all about anyway? Will we ever understand why the powers that be want to squash her?

MoDo wrote a column this morning that I did not read because I couldn’t get past the blurb on the opinion page:

Hillary Clinton feels no guilt about encouraging her supporters to mess up Barack Obama’s big moment, thus undermining his odds of beating John McCain.

Ladies, putting aside the lie that Hillary is putting us up to this (she has absolutely nothing to do with our movement), is there something familiar about that sentence? Did it strike a bell deep in the corner of your mind where you have stored an unpleasantry? From personal experience, I can say that without exception, I have never met a man who did not behave as if his reason for being was more important than mine. No matter how supportive they were, when push came to shove, it was always my life that more easily sacrificed and compromised. My wishes and aspirations were a little less lofty. My gifts and talents a little less meaningful and worthy of praise. Nothing short of my winning a Nobel Prize, a Pulitzer and a humanitarian award would be acknowledged as sufficient for a life changing decision to go in my favor. Maybe even that wouldn’t be enough. When push comes to shove, where a man lives, what he does with his time, what career he pursues and what dreams he has will always come first. The only power women have in most relationships, ultimately, is the power to walk away from them. That is, if she wants to be judged a person in her own right.

This is what MoDo’s blurb is saying to me. Hillary Clinton, one of the most accomplished women this country has ever produced, a woman gifted by intelligence, tenacity, fortitude and perserverence, who has more qualifications and experience than either of her rivals, is expected to graciously step aside so her presence doesn’t mess up her less qualified male counterpart’s fading chances of victory. Maureen Dowd *enjoys* reinforcing this notion. She makes her living doing it.

When Hillary made her suspension speech, she said that women hadn’t broken through that glass ceiling yet. What is happening before our eyes right now is the final step to finally breaking through: asserting the right to be acknowledged as a person worthy of equal respect and not backing down in the face of overwhelming odds. If it messes up Barack’s life, who the f$^* cares? Why should she care more about his aspirations than her own, especially when it is *his* actions that are tearing the party apart? I have never seen a party so committed to ruining itself, its reputation, its very chances of survival, all for the sake of an ambitious, unprepared and unscrupulous man like Barack Obama. To watch this happen is like watching someone in the midst of Darwin Award winning behavior. It is both fascinating and horrifying.

We are witnessing the Democratic party, run by a bunch of white males, like Dean, Kerry, Kennedy, Carter, McGovern, Edwards, etc, telling this woman that she is less worthy. Incredible.

On a similar note: Anglachel has started posting again after an unbearably long absence. Today she has a piece that looks at what the Republicans are likely to make of the Democratic party’s decision to ditch its more deserving candidate for its weaker male standard bearer. I mentioned months ago that affirmative action would be our Achilles heel that the GOP would zero in on. Anglachel seems to have the same idea in Barking Up the Wrong Tree. Here is the money quote:

Obama is the candidate against whom this argument [affirmative action] can be deployed most effectively. You Obamacans can scream bloody murder at me all you want, but it is simply a fact. His race makes the argument easier to make, but it is his muddy personal history, his razor thin resume, and his questionable electoral wins that make him vulnerable. As Somerby pointed out, the squalls of “Racism! Racism!” do nothing but play into their hands as well because the Republican argument isn’t about race. It may appeal to racists, but affirmative action can be defeated even in California (in a way that gay marriage probably will not) because it is, at base, about economic competition and rules that deliberately confer advantage to a less formally qualified contestant. When Obama defenders can’t get out of primary campaign mode and reckless accusations of racism (because some well-off white liberals really can be shamed into voting for someone just because he is Black), they do nothing but reinforce the Republican charge against affirmative action; that it is merely promotion of race, it is not about potential or character or disadvantage (In what world is Barack Obama “disadvantaged”?), but about pushing qualified students and job applicants out of the way for lazy non-whites. It is simple for them to work in xenophobia and jingosim, too, by talking about promotion of “illegals” over “citizens”.

The dog whistle here is on behalf of McCain. He’s earned this job and he will make sure that you get what you have earned, unlike these effete Democrats (sorry, that’s always going to be part of the argument) who let themselves be bullied into placating interest groups and handing out unearned rewards. St. John the Maverick will give you straight-talk and an honest deal. On another day, I’ll get a bit more into the “high-minded ways” that Somerby mentions because that, too, is part of the attack on affirmative action, one the Obamacans of Whole Foods Nation seem incapable of understanding.

Just go read it. It’s excellent.

One final note. It seems that we have a resident poet. JohninCA writes many of his comments in verse and I thought I’d put a few of my favorite beauties on the front page today. I’m thinking that we need a poet laureate:

Benjamin Franklin’s opinion was sought
About what his peers in Philadelphia wrought.
“A republic, if you can keep it,” he said,
But which, without vigilance, soon would be dead.
There was no political party back then,
The vote was for whites, and only for men.
The franchise didn’t exist for the rest,
Outside those circles the right was suppressed.

Now there’s one party that plays loose and fast
With the primary votes that were cast,
Four delegates for one man it seized,
Fabricating the results as it pleased.
The price for its perfidy it must now pay,
As insurrection carries the day
Now is the time to be buried for good
Imposture and treachery for which it stood.

****
Down with dissembling, down the the lies
Down with the party with no other guise
To offer disquieted voters this fall,
Down with cabals where deception is all.
Down with the standard bearer and hack
Who lacking a teleprompter can’t back
Campaign themes of increasing duplicity,
While the nation prays that it soon spared will be.

****
Denver’s the city– there is the place
Where the party which has well earned its disgrace
Which dissembled with voters, and overreached
And the faith of its loyal activists breached
Must stare aggrieved voters clear in the face
The penalty for its behavior to face
The piper it paid; now it must hear the tune
And face the storm to erupt at high noon.

****
If I were a Democrat, my heart would break,
For arrogance this man must take the cake,
By fiat, four delegates he’s able to pull,

Now that they’re his, their state votes in full.
With dubious tactics securing the win,
Competition seems to be the only sin,
The thing that’s important, as Joe Stalin notes,
Is not the voters but who counts the votes.

****
Ludacris opened his mouth all too soon
His lyrics were more than inopportune
His words are the most unfortunate progeny
Of profane hatred, if not misogyny
Their tenor can end in no other result
Than undermining his candidate’s very own cult
While helping the backlash which, in the fall
Might just help McCain to go and win it all.

****
It’s hardly a reason for much surprise,
That D registration is not on the rise.
The party that put a knife in our back
Now finds that its base is beginning to crack.
It counted on victory in the fall,
But shouldn’t be sanguine about it at all,
The hare and the tortoise, that old fashioned tale
Suggests, in November, McCain will prevail

Thursday:Anything less than 2209 is Affirmative Action for the Token Male

Yes, I expect those words to get a lot of negative attention but hear me out. Feminists have used that term for years when it applies to men. Society is set up to reward men simply for having a Y chromosome. They don’t have to do anything special. They just take it for granted that they will rise to the top, paths will be cleared, obstacles removed. Isn’t that what the whole Angry White Male, Rush Limbaugh phenomenon is all about? Men resenting the fact that now they have to compete with women and “feminazis”? Their slice of the pie just got smaller. Suddenly, their future prospects are not so rosy. But let’s not fool ourselves. There is still a huge affirmative action program out there for men and far fewer breaks for women in the workplace and society at large. He can get profit from and get away with far more things than she can.

I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: if it weren’t for the fact that Barack Obama is the token male in this primary race, it is hard to see how he and Hillary Clinton would be sharing the same stage. Her CV is much thicker than his and her command of the qualifications for what it takes to be president far exceeds his. Their debate performances highlight how unevenly they are matched. Her presentation is detailed and fluid; his is sketchy, long winded and unfocussed. At the end of this long campaign season, she has seemingly boundless energy and is all but unflappable; he is showing fatigue and calls professional women “sweetie”. Yet, here they are, together. She is forced to share a stage with a male who is competing for the same position and it is a wonder to the rest of us how he ever got this far.

And this is where the Affirmative Action part comes in. Because the bar has been lowered for Obama. As a consequence (or perhaps by intent) of the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the DNC Barack Obama only has to reach 2025 delegates to snag the nomination. But Hillary Clinton has to reach 2209. Yep, let that sink in for a second. Despite all of the big and swing states she has earned, despite the fact that she’s still winning strong, the path to *her* nomination depends on Michigan and Florida while these two requirements have been conveniently waived for Barack Obama. With the “all or nothing” narrative of the “pledged delegate count trumps all”, none of her delegates count without all 50 states; all of his count with 48.

Now, the Obama supporters and Donna Brazile can scream about RULZ until the cows come home but this is the naked truth that the whole country can see- he is being given a 2.3 million voter break. It’s like a test score that we have lowered just for him. Not only does he not have to win any crucial states but he can get away with fewer of them and it has been this way the entire primary season where his campaign has been able to use this inequity to its advantage, conditioning the public to believe that she is behind him.

Enough is enough. Let’s call it what it is and let the DNC know that you will be watching on May 31 when the Rules and Bylaws Committee meets. Are they going to set the Obama Affirmative Action Program in stone and carry out one of the most flagrant abuses in power since the US Supreme Court ruled on Bush v. Gore? Or are they going to honor the wishes of 2.3 million voters and make the nomination a merit based system? One decision gives the better candidate a fighting chance, the other signals to society at large that this kind of behavior is ok and women are acceptable targets. What’s it going to be?

The whole world is watching.

One more thing: I served 3 years on my local school board before I resigned (too many committments). One thing I learned about politicians is that no matter how dug in their heels are, they are vulnerable to public pressure. The more noise you make, the more likely they are to yield. The problem is that this hs to be done face to face where they can see the anger and frustration. If they are out of earshot, it doesn’t work. You have to patiently and persistently get in their faces and make them listen and there is power in numbers. I can’t tell you hpw many times I saw the board start the evening with a perfectly good plan, like charging $18/month for courtesy bussing and after a couple hundred very vocal spoiled yuppie parrents have spoken, see them cave completely so that bussing is free for everyone with no distance standards. We just have to figure out a way of doing it. Email might work, phone calls might be better, in-person argumentation is best.

One more thing thing: So last night Dukakis endorsed Obama, eh? That makes Kennedy, Kerry, Edwards, Dukakis, Carter. See a pattern here? It starts with an “L”.

This song goes out to all of the tough women who aren’t backing down: