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      Mary Stewart was a best-selling author for much of the 20th century. I first stumbled across her as a child, reading the “The Hollow Hills” and the “Crystal Cave”, two of her books about Merlin, but most of what she wrote were adventurous romances, often described as “Nancy Drew for adults.” Recently I read her book “Airs Above The Ground”, written in 1965. […]
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MSNBC and the Hopes of Adolescent Girls (with pithy update)

Here is the letter that I sent to MSNBC this morning:

Dear MSNBC,
You’ve probably gotten a lot of letters like mine in the past couple of days so I’ll keep this short. But I would like you to pay attention to WHY I am taking these actions.
Due to the macho, frat boy behavior of your hosts on MSNBC in the past couple of months, I am removing Countdown with Keith Olbermann from my DVR schedule. You can find more details on my reason for doing this at my blog https://riverdaughter.wordpress.com/2008/02/08/thats-it-im-taking-countdown-off-my-dvr-schedule/. According to my blog statistics, this post is number one among the people who were referred to my blog.
And here is my #1 reason for doing it: I have a 12 year old daughter who is a regular consumer of Countdown. She’s very gifted. She’s at a crucial age, a turning point, where there are both subtle and overt pressures put on girls like her to squelch their interests in math and science. It’s not womanly to be so smart. Think about how much talent the world loses when girls like her turn off their minds so they can fit into the world of men.
So, I can’t let her be exposed to the systemic and pervasive sexist behavior at MSNBC. The worst offender is Chris Matthews but I don’t have him on my DVR schedule. I am recording Countdown nightly. And I know that at 3am every morning, my satellite company does disk diagnostics on my DVR, looking at what I’ve recorded and watched. And I suspect that they pass that information on to you so you can present it to advertisers and Keith can brag about it. And Jack Welch, that master of “Rank and Yank”, the uber salesman whose bottom line at all costs method of getting ahead in the world is probably the source of this aggressive machismo, will use the ad revenue to decide what program stays on MSNBC. (See? We girls aren’t stupid)
In any case, you’ve lost me as a viewer. You suspended Shuster but you should have suspended Matthews. You apologized but an apology is insufficient. We’ve heard apologies before and Chris has said that he “gets it”. Subsequent shows of his indicate that he does not get it at all nor do many of your male hosts.
So, I can’t let my daughter’s self-image be tainted by this anymore. I’m sure that if more of your hosts had adolescent daughters, they’d think twice about behaving this way.
Too late now.
Sincerely,

My name, etc, blah-blah-blah

UPDATE: ARghhh! Don’t you just hate it when the point you’ve been trying to make crystallizes after you’ve hit the send button? Here’s the nugget at the core of the MSNBC controversy:

Throughout the American experience, we have said that the aspirations of boys are unlimited. Every boy in America has the ability to grow up to be president if he wants to. He just has to set his goal and work hard and someday he could be President of the United States. bill clinton shakes JFK’s hand

MSNBC is saying the exact opposite to girls. It is saying: no matter how hard you work, how much you accomplish, how you aspire or dream, you will NOT be President of the United States because we won’t let you, you’re a girl.HR delivers commencement speech

That’s it. No other reason. We just don’t let girls be president. We will make sure to promote the boy at your expense and we will make fun of you. Your self-worth is meaningless to us. It’s tradition. Now run along and bring me a beer.

This is what MSNBC is saying.

Alegre has a another take on this in her diary at DailyKos. Check it and rec it.

By the way, if anyone has sent me email recently and didn’t receive a reply, please send it again. There was a glitch in my account but it’s been fixed now. Unfortunately, the previous email is irretrievable.

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pantsuit

There I was on Thursday night, letting my Sandstone Pearl toenails dry while I reread one of Rebecca Wells Ya-ya books and trying to decide whether to watch Steel Magnolias or Terms of Endearment on the DVD, when I heard a familiar word coming from the background noise of the Democratic Presidential Debate that I use to relax.”Campbell”, it said.Hmmm, there was something very knowing and mysterious about that voice. So, I backed up the DVR and replayed it.There was Hillary Clinton in her light gray tweedy jacket and asbestos pants (and great makeup, by the way) gently chiding the gravid Campbell Brown.And it suddenly occurred to me: Karl Rove must be sweating big time. It will be so much harder to suppress the female voters than the African-American voters. Someone might notice.

I mean, sure Campbell Brown is married to former Iraq CPA official, Dan Senor. Sure, she’s bought into the Villager cocktail party circuit, where they are no doubt planning her baby shower complete with Peg Perego stroller with a mini-bar, reclining seat and internet connection for the little tyke.

But when Hillary said, “Campbell”, we women instantly recognized the voice of authority of the high priestess reminding the backslid acolyte of her obligations to her sex. (Note to self: buy new candles for the altar and perform the rites tonight in the nude.)

I sipped my Cosmo pensively. I’m very concerned about Tweety. He will be so exorcised over this in the next week that if he doesn’t speak fast enough, he will surely drown in his own spit. The “He Man Women Haters Club” has no place for an upstart girl who will want to come in and reupholster the chairs in a Laura Ashley floral. There is no room in the tree house.

But Tweety has nothing to fear, really.

No, just because every woman can remember some time in her life when she was given a little less attention than the boys in math class or got less praise than Raymond C. Persic in Organic Chemistry (Nyah-Nyah, scored higher than you on the ACS exam), that doesn’t mean anything.

Or all of the times when our ex-boyfriends and ex-husbands called us “bitch” and “c$^t” when we dared to assert our rights. Or the times that our bosses gave the one raise in the department to a guy with a newborn- year after year after year, there’s no reason to think we might want to level the playing field.

Or the fathers who preferred our brother’s company after we became adolescents. Or all of the family members who told us we could never succeed in science or medicine or law because we were the first in our families to want to go to college and it was too much money to spend on a girl who was probably going to get married anyway, perish the thought of righteous indignation.

Or the husbands who questioned our expenses, by saying, “What did you spend your allowance on anyway?!” (You women my mother’s age know what I’m talking about.) Or just because of the men who said, “*I* make the money, I make the rules!”, we are not looking for a champion.

Or the church elders who chastised our skirt lengths while we were going through a growth spurt, simultaneously staring at our shapely calves and thighs. Or the priests and bishops and fundamentalists who condemned us to hell for having SEX out of WEDLOCK while setting the terms of that wedlock to be perpetual obedience to our husbands, does not mean that we have any expectation that a manly God will exact justice on our behalf.

No, Tweety, you have nothing to worry about. Do not be troubled that we might want to exercise a little authority, assert our rights, seek vengeance or see one of our own, who seems to know what the fuck she’s doing, succeed to the most powerful position on earth.

It’s not like Hillary Clinton is a personification of a pagan moon goddess who is going to re-establish our supremacy through some matriarchal social system, even if that did kinda work out for us. Ha-ha-ha!, that is so silly of you. I mean, there’s no reason to vote for her because she’s a girl

No, that would be petty and anachronistic and un-Christian and speaks of gender identity politics and that is soooo outre. We aren’t out to settle the score for the millenia of mistreatment and disrespect. Perish the thought!

Then again, I did detect a little glisten in Campbell’s eye. Just a little one. I saw it. And if I’m right about these things, Dan will completely miss it as Campbell gently kisses him on the lips and pinches the baby’s cheek just before she steps into that voting booth next year to worship at the Temple of the Sisterhood.

BTW, sisters, make sure you update your social security cards, driver’s licenses and voter registration ID to be consistent before going to vote. Karl’s not finished yet.

Updated: I’m really serious about the ID.

This could be the very reason we are turned away at the voting booth. Don’t wait until the month before. Get all your notarized divorce papers in order and make sure the IRS, Social Security office, driver’s licenses and the voter’s registration office all have the same name for the same person.

For all we know, they are purging the databases as we speak, looking specifically at name mismatches.