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CNN interview: Amy Siskind attempts to educate; Ms. Mag editor uses airtime as commercial

(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.

Tuesday: What is PUMA?

The PUMASPHERE is open for business

The NY Times asked this question yesterday, or so I’ve heard.

I’ll tell you what we’re not.  We are not the kind of people who are concerned with whether our vaginas are as fresh and sweet as a Massengill douche.

Oddly enough, our ability to make noise and vote appear to be independent of our vaginal status.  Some of us don’t even HAVE vaginas.  {{gasp!}}

We *do*, however, have a Credo*, which is the reason we consider ourselves to be USDA approved prime cut liberals.

Oh, and BTW, Wonkette readers, someday, if you’re lucky, you will live long enough to be old.  Your tits will sag, your scrotums will lose their perky tautness and young, stupid adolescent males will make fun of you, unless, of course, the PUMAs make them insignificant.  Someday, you may thank us.

In other news:

Amy Siskind of The New Agenda must have read our post on the Double X, where we call for scrutiny of the next Congress’s legislation in order to ensure that women benefit from any stimulus packages that are proposed.  She pointed me in the direction of this post by Sheryl Robinson, Obama should appoint a woman to Commerce because jobs are not a given.

Now that Bill Richardson has resigned, er, before being appointed, Obama has another opportunity to appoint a woman to his cabinet.  He hasn’t made a very good start to being the Change! president.  He’s appointed about as many women as George Bush did.  When Clinton was president, nearly half of his cabinet were women.  How does one explain this?  How was Bill Clinton able to create an efficient, well run executive branch, half of the departments managed by women, but Obama can’t do this?  If we know it *can* be done, why isn’t it being done?  In fact, isn’t it possible that Obama is doing his country a disservice by passing up superior managers because his little band of advisors consists of a bunch of adolescent minded Wonkette readers? But I digress.

Robinson points out that during recessions and depressions, women suffer disproportionately and frequently don’t benefit from stimulus packages which focus on infrastructure jobs:

Women typically suffer greater hardship than men in times of economic downturn. More women in government means more support for issues that affect women, according to the UNIFEM report released this Fall. For this reason, Obama should appoint a woman to replace Bill Richardson, who has withdrawn as U.S. Secretary of Commerce-designate.

This week in the Greensboro News Record, Eileen Boris, Lisa Levenstein and Sonya Michel looked at the parallels between Obama’s economic stimulus plan and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, the latter of which neglected to provide for women. In their article “Obama’s stimulus plan must include jobs for women, too,” they wrote:

Women make up 46 percent of the labor force, and they’re almost as likely as men to be the principal supporters of their families.

However, women are not likely to be hired for jobs rebuilding infrastructure. Therefore some women, they argue, ought to be trained and hired for “nontraditional” employment, ie. “men’s work.” Nevertheless, they say, his won’t be sufficient to ensure women get equal support:

[E]ven if the stimulus package guarantees women an equal chance at the new jobs, it still won’t address the occupational sectors in which most female wage-earners are concentrated, such as education, child care, social work, health care and care for elders and those with disabilities.

There are really two problems going on here but they are systemic.  Women dominate the “pink economy” and these jobs frequently pay less and provide fewer benefits.  And yet we are still not seeing a push in our public schools to encourage girls in math and science.  Oh, sure, it’s better than it was 30 years ago but not by much.  I’ve seen it happen to my Brook who has been effectively cut out of the higher level math programs regardless of her stellar test scores and interest in the subject.  Her middle school upper algebra class consists of 14 boys and 7 girls in spite of the fact that recent studies show that girls are just as capbable of doing higher level math as boys.  The split that takes girls on the path to the pink economy happens in middle school.  Maybe the problem is that we need a female trained in the hard sciences to run the education department.

In any case, the Robinson and Siskind make a lot of good points about keeping an eye out for women’s interests in the new adminstration and Congress.  And as we have heard before, once women make up 30% of the elected government, the prospects for society in general improve.  Even Wonkette readers would benefit.

Just another reason to vote for The Confluence for Best Liberal Blog at the 2008 Weblog Awards.

Finally, we’ve been recommending other worthy blogs for your votes and I have another recommendation this morning.  Actually, I think this blog is in the wrong category.  It’s called Cake Wrecks and it’s been nominated for Best Food Blog.  The blog consists of cake disasters.  Well,  not all of them are disasters.  Some of the cakes are works of art in fondant.  But as in many areas of life, the number of poorly executed cakes and mispelt greetings outnumber the beautiful and literate.  Warning: Do not drink coffee while viewing this site if you value your keyboard.

*Our Credo pre-dates the PUMA movement.  The Confluence has been in business since January 2008.

Obama and the SOS selection: What is he up to?

It should come as no surprise that I don’t trust Obama.  Not. One. Bit.

I don’t like the corrupt, “slash and burn” way he ran his campagin.  I don’t like the deal he made with the DNC (yes, Howard, we think you’re a liar).  I don’t like the way he rode his way to the nomination and presidency by using racism as a weapon and misogyny to ridicule and diminish his female rivals.  I don’t like his speaking style, his High Broderism or the fact that he is already a failed president in my book for failing to anticipate the financial mess and proatively doing something about it instead of prancing around Europe as the Fresh Prince of Bill Ayers (H/T myiq2xu).  While Hillary was trying her best to actually *do* something about the bailout bill, Obama just couldn’t be bothered with suspending his campaign to take care of that important business.  He just expected that Congress would “get it done”.  Thank you Pre-failed President Elect Obama.

So, it should come as no surprise that I do not trust what is going on with the persistent rumors that Hillary Clinton is being considered for Secretary of State.  Actually, its more of a rumor, considering I just got a “push” email from Archad Hasan of DFA, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Obama must be pretty anxious about the upcoming Senate session if he is trying this hard to get Hillary out of there.  Either that or he has a woman problem.  Or both.  I’m going with both, since his campaign repeatledly belittled her foreign policy experience while she was First Lady, women’s accomplishments ebing inconsequential at best and a mere sideshow to a man’s at worst.  Let’s imagine what would happen if Hillary was allowed to make this decision without all of the pressure that the media is about to rain down on her to “guilt” her into taking this position:

  1. She has to work for Obama.  He would be her boss. Well, that right there is in the minus category.  I don’t care what stupid Lincoln narrative his campaign is pushing, suggesting Obama is doing the same as Honest Abe by hiring his rivals for his cabinet.  Obama is NOT anything like Lincoln, who from what I have read was an extremely principled man.
  2. If Obama asks her to do something stupid or counterproductive, she has three choices: do it and look as powerless as Condi Rice, not do it and get fired or resign.
  3. If she takes SOS, she is no longer a Senator and her chances of ever being elected to anything again approach the limit of minus infinity.  (The BFF is amazed I remember calculus given that I can’t do simple addition in my head)
  4. The issues that she was planning to champion in the Senate are officially DOA.

Ding! Ding! Ding!

I think we have a winner in item 4.  If she is no longer in the Senate making noise and legislation, he has no competition for the limelight. If she is SOS, the minute she steps out of line, her ass is glass and he tosses her out.  The media is just waiting for her to screw up so they can stick her with the knives they are already sharpening in gleeful anticipation.

Women aren’t that stupid, Barack.  You think you can knock out two birds with one stone but even if I had no power in the Senate, I wouldn’t take SOS for anything if I were Hillary Clinton.  I’m betting she turned you down flat.  Otherwise, why would your personal army of droogs in the DFA start circulating this stupid email?

DFA Member –

The media has been filled with pundits and talking heads guessing who Barack will pick for his cabinet. I keep hearing one thing and then another about every position you can think of and that got me to thinking…

Why not make a game of it?

So, take a few minutes and tell us who you want our next President to pick for Secretary of State, Attorney General, Defense Secretary, or to head the Environmental Protection Agency.


You can pick who you think Obama will actually choose too. And, if you get all four of them right, you just might win a free “You Have the Power” T-shirt from DFA.

Who doesn’t want to win something free?

So, stop by the website this weekend and make your choices. If you submit your vote, we’ll send you an update once Obama makes his choices.


Arshad Hasan, Executive Director
Democracy for America

And here are the all-to-predictable results of the SOS question, where Hillary’s name is always at the top of the selection list:

Current Top Choices:

Will pick results:
Hillary Clinton
Bill Richardson
John Kerry
Tom Daschle
Richard Holbrooke
Chuck Hagel
Richard Lugar
Sam Nunn
Hilary Clinton
Anthony Zinni
Should pick results:
Hillary Clinton
Bill Richardson
John Kerry
Richard Holbrooke
Tom Daschle
Chuck Hagel
Richard Lugar
Sam Nunn
Anthony Zinni
Dennis Kucinich

Do people really fall for this crap? Well, given the current election results, yes. But it looks like NOW is finally coming out of its Kool-Aid induced stupor, probably because Amy Siskind of The New Agenda is actually in charge of a good portion of the women’s movement. From the Politico’s Will Men Dominate the Obama Administration? (as if the answer isn’t already obvious), NOW’s Kim Gandy says, “I agree with those who are concerned that it would have been nice to see more women”.

Well, there’s your problem right there, Kim. Women with real power do not settle for “nice”. Nice is what we want when we go shopping for clothes or boyfriends. But let this be a lesson to you. Next time a man running against a woman asks for your support, hold his feet to the fire before you give it to him. You know, “Don’t hand me no lines and keep your hands to yourself”? Or better yet, give it to the woman because she will be more likely to be responsive to the concerns of women. Jeez! I mean, it seems so obvious it’s amazing that Gandy couldn’t see it, what with all the misogyny in the way. Thank God for Amy or I’d completely lose it with the idiots from NOW and NARAL. But I digress.

It’s time we pushed back against this SOS thing. I could be wrong but I don’t think there’s anything in it for Clinton, not that she wouldn’t bring her usual standard of excellence, intelligence and dedication to the job. Besides, she’s given enough to the failed presidency of Barack Obama. Let someone else step up to the plate and be the perpetual scapegoat. Hillary’s got health care and equal pay to worry about.

Let Obama do the work for a change.

Chew the fat with Ophelia

Amy Siskind of The New Agenda has an invitation for you:

we’ve been “Chewing the Fat with Ophelia” for three weeks now, and we’re prepared to declare the show a success!  Have you been listening in?

Chewing the Fat with Ophelia

Last week, we talked about the misogyny we’d seen during the election, and about the change that we see as necessary if the Feminist movement is to survive. Violet gave a quick tutorial on the Three Feminist Waves and we had some good laughs.

This week we’ve been talking with members and readers on the blog about what The New Agenda will be pursuing during our next phase.

We’ll talk some more about that tomorrow night (Monday), on  Chewing the Fat with Ophelia  – the show, and we’ll also talk about women’s issues that come to the forefront as a result of the recession.

Please join us on Monday, November 11th, from 10-11 p.m. EST to talk about the issues that need our attention.

If you’re a new member (membership is up 25% since the election), you might be tuning in for the first time. Don’t be shy! We’d be delighted to hear from you.

Hmmmm, membership is up by 25%, eh??  I can’t imagine why…

Tune in tonight at 10PM EST to Chewing the Fat with Ophelia on Blogtalkradio.

The New Agenda vs the Pumacrats-Ready to Rummmble!

Chewing the Fat with Ophelia is on again tonight.  Here is the place to vent your feminist angst regardless of which party is pissing you off.  Amy and Violet extended an invitation to Sheri and Darragh to join them and talk about what’s going on in the election season as it affects women.  The Pumacrats are going to try not to be too mean to Obama, but, well, some things can’t be helped. That’s Chewing the Fat with Ophelia at 10PM EST from The New Agenda.

No We Won’t Tonight at 8PM EST

But before I get to that, I’d like to share a little success story with you.  Remember that Terry Tate ad?  Well, The New Agenda took it upon themselves to ask Reebok for a condemnation and they got one.  Here it is:

From: Diane Zappas
Date: Fri, Oct 24, 2008 at 11:02 AM
Subject: Reebok Response
To: _________

Dear _________,

Thank you for your note. We appreciate your interest and, yes, we’re well aware of this new video. However, let me reassure you that Reebok International has no connection today to Lester Speight or his fictional alter-ego, ‘Terry Tate’, and we disavow this personal new video and its content in full.

The confusion, regrettably, arises from our former association with the ‘Terry Tate’ character. In 2001, Reebok licensed the ‘Terry Tate’ character for a series of commercials, on a short-term basis – and our connection then ended. Reebok, therefore, does not control use of the character or the commercials. Any use of the ‘Terry Tate’ character today or in the future, therefore, does not reflect the views of Reebok, and we regret any confusion this might cause.

In fact, Reebok has a long and proud history of supporting women’s health and fitness. In 2006, Reebok announced its partnership with the Avon Walk Around the World for Breast Cancer. A series of walks to raise funds for breast cancer research, the walk has seen more than 50 cities worldwide raise awareness and money for this important cause. We’re proud of this sponsorship, and believe this more accurately reflects Reebok’s brand values – and views – in regards to women.

Thank you again for your inquiry.


That was lovely, wasn’t it?  Now, go back and everywhere you find the words “Terry Tate” or “Lester Speight”, substitute “Barack Obama”. And everywhere you find “Reebok”, substitute “DNC”.  How does that sound?

On to the show.  Our own Madamab will be on No We Won’t this evening with Sheri and Darragh.  That’s tonight at 8PM EST on PUMA United Radio (PURrrr)

Monday: We are not alone

There are signs of intelligent life.  You just have to know where to look.  You won’t find them on TV.  They’re harder to spot in the nation’s newspapers.  But they’re out there.  They are *us* and people like us.  Our challenge is to find each other and connect.

Sometimes, the most effective technology is the simplest one.  It could be that all we have to do is print some flyers that say nothing more than:

“Don’t like Obama?  Not a racist?  YOU ARE NOT ALONE!”

Put your favorite URL in some tear off strips at the bottom and hang the flyer on your local grocery store bulletin board.

Here are some other nifty ideas on how you can connect with others:

  • Check out Murphy’s PUMAPac Action Center for graphics, flyers, postcards, and other ideas on getting the word out to the non-nethead.  Sign up for her Daily Growl for mass action alerts.
  • Help Heidi Li and Marc Rubin get more ads on the air.  Visit Democrats for Principle before Party and make a donation.
  • Visit JustSayNoDeal’s DailyDos page for events and activities that will get people’s attention. (Note: Some of these activities coordinate with McCain’s campaign so do it only if you feel comfortable with that concept.)
  • Meet Harriet Christian in Manhattan on Saturday and Sunday from now until the election.  She is rounding up a posse to go to Scranton, PA to canvass in coordination with Democrat’s for McCain.  If you’re interested, send her an email at hchristian at infnyc dot com.  The buses leave from 31st Street and 8th Ave at 9:00AM.
  • Tell your friends to tune into blogtalkradio programs.  There are a wide variety to suit everyone’s taste and you will get to meet a lot of new friends from all over the country.  Tonight, you can Chew the Fat with Ophelia, from The New Agenda tonight at 10PM EST.  Join Amy Siskind and Dr. Violet Socks talk about how women from both sides of the aisle can find common ground, work towards the 30% solution and move women’s issues forward for a better society for all.

    Chewing the Fat with Ophelia

    Chewing the Fat with Ophelia

The Obama Haka only works if friends and neighbors get discouraged and stay home on election day.  There is an illusion that Obama’s victory is all but assured but that can’t happen if everyone who is angry about the strong armed tactics, intimidation, peer pressure, misogyny and accusations of racism fight back.  There is strength in numbers.  Spread the word.  All you have to do is say, “You are not alone.”

Time is short.

Sound off, Conflucians.  Tell us where you’re from.