Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday Sasha Blogging

By Doug.

It's palate clearing, in the middle of all these dry posts.

Did He Or Did He Not?

Ogle at a young woman's bottom? That appears to be the topic of discussion on presidents Obama and Sarkozy, because of a photo taken at the G8 conference.

But what appears not to be discussed much at all is the fact that the young woman in question is either sixteen or seventeen years old, a junior delegate at the summit, and she never asked for this kind of attention. She has been turned into a thing by the media: a bottom.

An Unwanted Hand On Your Thigh

Not one of your own hands. And it stays there all through a dinner party. What would you do? A sudden jab with the fruit fork?

David Brooks told the world yesterday that this happened to him. A Republican politician (a man, based on the use of "he") kept his hand on Brooks' thigh like that.

You can listen to his story here:

Women tend to get life training in the skill of how to remove such an unwanted object more often than men. I find it hard to imagine how Brooks could just sit there for so long and what on earth the hand was doing all that time.

This topic lends itself to all sorts of hilarious takes. But one which is not so hilarious is this:

Suppose that this would have happened to a young intern or aide or a young aspiring journalist or someone in a similar lower power position. Women may well find themselves in such a dilemma. There you sit, with someone important groping your thigh, someone you don't want groping it. What do you do? If you make a public fuss, will your fledgling career be down the drain? If you don't make a public fuss, will you end up in a much deeper dilemma? If you use all those little skills life teaches you to remove the hand without insult, did the message get through that you are not interested?

That's why sexual harassment at work by bosses is worse than sexual harassment by underlings, say. Because of that added power-over component.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Trips (by Suzie)

This post is in honor of my friend Karen’s 50th birthday, and the picture comes from 25 years ago, when we paid to have our photo taken with some guy’s iguana near Puerto Vallarta. Karen’s on the right.

I was going to leave it at that, as just a “Friday critter,” but I got to thinking of all the traveling I’ve done with Karen.

We met in Little Rock, and one night, we figured out the world as we drove around the dark streets. Sadly, we were drinking Midori melon liqueur from the bottle, and so, we didn’t remember the answers the next day.

We piled into cars with other newspaper colleagues for the drive to New Orleans to see the Rolling Stones, with me reading “One Hundred Years of Solitude” in the back.

“I freaked out trying to drive in New Orleans because of the one-way streets off Canal, which don't follow a logical pattern and still freak me out, and you were on Valium because you were just so darn excited,” Karen adds. (I also may have been on Valium because of remnants of agoraphobia in a stadium concert.)

I got a job in New Orleans, and then so did she. We drove back to Little Rock one weekend to go to a party. Because the only music we had in her car was a warped Joan Baez 8-track, we decided to sing to pass the time. Listening to ourselves, we decided a warped Joan would be better.

Karen recalls the party: “It was in the days of maybe the Go-Go’s -- simple repetitive beat music -- and everyone was doing the pogo (dance). You were dancing with some guy who just wouldn't pogo despite your encouragement. He finally had to explain to you that he had one artificial leg. And I am not making this up.”

Our first trip out of the country was to Puerto Vallarta. Next year was Paris. We met two American guys at Versailles and ended up drinking with them in their room. We lounged on their bed, with Karen musing over what colors she should have for her wedding, and the guys looking heartsick. How risky innocence is. (Karen says I was the one who brought up her wedding.)

I was her maid of honor. The A/C broke in the chapel, and sweat rolled down my back as I sat, knelt and stood by the altar. I moved to Tampa, where she would travel to be my matron of honor. We went back and forth between New Orleans and Tampa, and I thought the last time would be in 2002, when she flew in to help me move to my native Texas. She helped me drive as far as New Orleans, with all my houseplants crammed in the backseat, like a hothouse on wheels.

In Texas, after cancer surgery, she flew in. She washed my hair as I sat crumpled up on a chair in the shower.

I moved back to Tampa, and we met in Orlando, where she had brought her son to the Magic Kingdom. Even though I took them for a legitimate reason, narcotics do improve the Disney experience.

Karen concludes: “As a magnet on my fridge says, ‘You'll always be my friend. You know all my secrets.’ "

White women vis a vis white men (by Suzie)

Some progressives accuse white women of clinging to white men in order to benefit from patriarchy and white supremacy. Some radicals fault white women who fought white men for inclusion in professions and politics. Others criticize white feminists for distancing themselves from men. These critics say this is an unreasonable expectation for women of color who feel the need to ally with their men in the fight against racism.

The solution for white women seems to be: You can neither support white men, nor want what they have, but you can’t expect women of color to treat their men the same way. To me, it feels like a trick bag, as we used to say in New Orleans.

Let’s start with the first idea. Last year, Princeton professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell wrote:
Throughout history, privileged white women, attached at the hip to their husband's power and influence, have been complicit in black women's oppression.
I agree. But in a world where women, including white women, often held little power on their own, why would anyone expect them to rise up en masse against their husbands? World history also yields plenty of women of color who allied with their husbands to oppress other people of color, poorer people, people of different religions, etc. And some women, of whatever color, didn’t need husbands to oppress others.

I can understand why Harris-Lacewell doesn’t feel she can trust white women until they prove their dedication to anti-racism. I don’t trust men to fight for feminism until I see some evidence. But, then again, I also prefer some evidence from women before I give them my whole-hearted support.

If you strip race out of this equation for a moment, it’s safe to say that some women, because of their attachment to men, have been complicit in women’s oppression. I’d argue this is true of almost all women. It’s very hard not to be complicit, at least to some degree, in the systems in which we find ourselves.

Women often are blamed for our own oppression. For example, Echidne recently linked to an article about a South African man seeking redemption for the rape he committed in his youth. The first comment is from a woman who blames mothers for raising boys who grow up to commit crimes against women.

Anna Carastathis, who teaches feminist political theory at McGill and Concordia, has a criticism similar to Harris-Lacewell’s.
The problem was (and is) that although women of colour, lesbians, and working class women were always active in feminism in the US and Canada, feminism became dominated by white upper class women who retained identifications with men and white male power.

They weren’t willing to trade in the power they got from being wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters to powerful white men in order to forge true unity with women of colour and with working class white women. In other words, they weren’t willing to give up on the small privileges they gained through loyalty to white men and to whiteness in order to work for the liberation of all women. (Adrienne Rich, [1978] 1979.)
Fights against racism and capitalism also have had their share of middle-class leaders. It can help to have education, time and money to advance your causes. But the women’s movement has been so long and so broad that I don’t buy Carastathis’ given: that wealthy white women have dominated.

As I did above, I’d also argue that women from all backgrounds gain privilege from their associations with men at times. After all, we have a black woman in the White House because she’s attached to a man. (Yes, she has many other attributes, but like all other women who have lived there, she does so because of family ties.)

It’s not like all women of color and working-class white women have taken to the barricades for gender equality. Many of them are just as firmly entrenched in the status quo as anyone else, and I say this from lived experience in poor neighborhoods. Oppression doesn’t necessarily ennoble or radicalize us, I’m sorry to say.

I could turn around Carastathis’ statement, and say that some WOC and working-class white women have not been willing to give up on the small privileges gained through loyalty to men in order to work for the liberation of all women.

Let's look at the three examples that Carastathis uses to illustrate the racism and classism of “privileged white feminists.” We've discussed these issues before on this blog, but I want to name them now briefly so that people understand what's being debated. No. 1, she says, privileged white feminists fought for abortion, but ignored – and sometimes even encouraged – forced sterilization. I can't speak about Canada, but in the United States, I challenged that idea in this post. Planned Parenthood also has refuted accusations about Margaret Sanger.

Second, Carastathis says privileged white feminists sought professional jobs, getting out of the home at the expense of poor women and women of color. I talked about domestic work here and here.

Third, Carastathis says gaining political power, even the vote, was divisive because it benefited privileged white women more. Although they did benefit first, in regard to jobs and politics, other women were able to follow. Including me.

From the idea that white feminists are too close to white men, let’s jump to the accusation that they are too distant, a critique from womanism. On Black Girl Blogging, elledub08 says one aspect of womanism is: “supporting and working with men as opposed to treating them like the enemy.” The Feminist Theory Dictionary says womanism
includes the word “man”, recognizing that Black men are an integral part of Black women’s lives as their children, lovers, and family members. Womanism accounts for the ways in which black women support and empower black men, and serves as a tool for understanding the Black woman’s relationship to men as different from the white woman’s.
The word first appeared in print in the writing of Alice Walker, who said a womanist is “not a separatist.”
As Patricia Hill Collins aptly notes, "many black women view feminism as a movement that at best, is exclusively for women, and, at worst, dedicated to attacking or eliminating men … Womanism seemingly supplies a way for black women to address gender-oppression without attacking black men" (p. 11).
Once again, if race could be taken out of the equation, a lot of womanism would sound like liberal feminism, which has attracted far more support than more radical feminists of any color. It’s not surprising that some white women want to call themselves womanists.

As an example of liberal feminism, consider Betty Friedan, who “was adamant that the women's movement present itself as reasonable, moderate, heterosexual, family-loving not family-destroying, man-loving not man-hating in its approach.” (Friedan also falls into the category of “privileged white feminist” who gets accused of ignoring poor women and women of color. Interestingly, Friedan worked for rights for African Americans and workers before writing “The Feminine Mystique,” a criticism of suburban homemaking.)

Womanists and WOC feminists do not support men of color uncritically. That would be a mistake, since the world has a long history of women fighting for rights alongside men, only to find that the new (male) regimes had little interest in women’s rights.

For some WOC, supporting men of their own ethnicity is a political stance. But others do it for the same reasons many white women do: They want their lovers, friends and family to succeed.
On the flip side, white women also can support white men for social-justice reasons. “White men” is a broad category that includes men who are oppressed in different ways, such as by class, ability, sexuality, age, etc. A white woman may want to encourage her gay son, for example, or bolster her working-class family, including the men.

Generalizations about groups help us make sense of our world. When talking about the differences between groups, however, we can't forget the differences within groups.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Turn-Around Trick

I find this a most useful trick in politics in general, and recommend its use. It has to do with reversing the argument or question and then studying what you get.

For instance, I just heard an ad for a radio program, to be aired later today on the local public radio station, asking this question: "Can Americans afford another stimulus package?"

Do the turn-around and ask this question: "Can Americans afford NOT to have another stimulus package?" Note how what we think about is different in these two cases and how the mostly invisible basis for comparisons changes.

Worth Reading

The latest from the Iranian demonstrations in which women are taking a major role.

On the question whether the CIA deceived the Congress during those odd famiglia years of the last administration.

And Emily Bazelon interviews Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the role of women in the SCOTUS.

Today's Joke Analysis. And Puppy.

Sasha, again. Courtesy of Doug. That enjoyment of life!

Here's the joke. I copied it down somewhere on the Internet:

A dedicated Teamsters union worker was attending a convention in Las Vegas and decided to check out the local brothels. When he got to the first one, he asked the Madam, "Is this a union house?"

"No," she replied, "I'm sorry it isn't."

"Well, if I pay you $100, what cut do the girls get?"

"The house gets $80 and the girls get $20," she answered

Offended at such unfair dealings, the union man stomped off down the street in search of a more equitable, hopefully unionized shop. His search continued until finally he reached a brothel where the Madam responded, "Why yes sir, this is a union house. We observe all union rules"

The man asked, "And if I pay you $100, what cut do the girls get?" "The girls get $80 and the house gets $20."

"That's more like it!" the union man said.

He handed the Madam $100, looked around the room, and pointed to a stunningly attractive blonde.

"I'd like her," he said.

"I'm sure you would, sir," said the Madam. Then she gestured to a 92-year old woman in the corner, "but Ethel here has 67 years seniority and according to union rules, she's next."

The joke may be read as an anti-union one, as one which attempts to tell us why unions don't work (they make you fuck the old hag, say). So pro-union folks might not find it quite as funny as those who hate unions. Or perhaps it doesn't matter that the joke is an anti-union one, because it's funny. In the same way all brothel jokes are seen as funny. Just a bit of silliness, acceptable to all.

That's the usual analysis of something like this. A feminist sort of gets handicapped from the get-go. For instance, I can no longer read jokes like this and not take the imaginary place of all the people in the joke, at least for a fraction of a second, and I can't avoid noticing that the women working in the brothels get hosed in all the versions. Either they get only twenty bucks out of the hundred or they don't get custom at all. Or perhaps most disgustingly, they still have to work a job like that at the age of 92.

(You know what's interesting? I have those little imps using a lemon grater on my brain right now, whispering that everyone will tell you what a prude you are, what a humorless feminazi you are, and that you should relax and not get so wound up about every little bit of fun in life. And the imps have a point, of course (not to mention a grater): Jokes like this don't really matter in the larger view of life, and I don't ultimately care what jokes people tell each other.

But I really believe that interpreting what it is we laugh at and why can tell us a lot about the society. Just imagine yourself an alien from outer space and think of the prior explanations that would be needed to explain this joke to you.)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Ssseexx Sells!

You have to imagine that said in an exotic voice, like mine. Then you have to clear your brain and start all over again. Like with this:

Fast Food Chains Steam Up Ads
Sales for Burgers Include Bikini-Clad Girls, Sexual Innuendo

Advertisers have never shied away from using sex to sell their products because, as the old adage goes, sex sells. And over the last decade, some fast food chains have upped the ante with more sexual innuendo in their television and print advertisements.

There's an entire genre of racy fast food ads, like the Hardee's promotion that talks to consumers about "creamy balls" and "happy holes" for its biscuit holes campaign.

Then there's the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's promotion called "Hot Chicks Eating Burgers," in which the two chains, both owned by CKE Restaurants, ask for video submission of attractive women doing just that.

But some people say the ad campaigns have gone too far.

"It seems an entire industry is set on trying to push every bound of sexual innuendo in order to sell something like a hamburger," said Dan Isett, Parents Television Council public policy director.

Go to the link and watch the video discussion on this topic. Pay special attention to the way in which female body = sex, with few exceptions. Indeed, when asked about their 'sexy' ads:

The owner of Hardees and Carl's Jr. said in a statement the companies' ads are "intended to communicate the core message of our premium quality food to our target audience of Young, Hungry Guys. We do not aim to exclude or offend any other group."

Ultimately, then, the conversation is not about the sexualisation of advertising but about the use of women's bodies doing apparently sexual things to sell stuff to men.

This Singapore ad is a good example of how that works. See Suzie's earlier post about it:

Burger King defended the ad by pointing out that it wasn't used outside the Singapore market and that it made them money.

Taxing Health Benefits

What's that all about? And how can you possibly make the topic interesting?

That's how I imagine a hypothetical reader (with quivering antennae on planet zfgv34) might react to the title of this post. My rude answer to that reader would be that brains must be exercised, just as muscles, and that I'm not a clown who dances for the pleasure of aliens.

Where was I before I so rudely interrupted myself? Oh yes, taxing health benefits. Well, some very lucky people get health insurance from their employers, and the employer pays a portion of the costs of that package. That employer-paid portion is currently not viewed as taxable income. The Republicans want this changed in the new Obama health care proposal but the Democrats are having second thoughts:

--Senate Democrats are increasingly resistant to proposals to tax some employer-provided health benefits, threatening already fragile bipartisan negotiations over legislation to overhaul the U.S. health-care system.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said that public polls conducted over the July 4 congressional recess and reviewed by senators are causing lawmakers to have second thoughts about limiting the tax exclusion for employer health plans.

"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."

Taxing employer-paid health benefits could be used to partially finance the care of the currently uninsured. That's what the Republicans want to do. It's odd that they are suddenly pro-taxation, unless one views it as an attempt to kill any health care reform. Or unless one realizes that some other taxes (most probably on the wealthy) would have to be raised if this particular funding plan is torpedoed.

Opinion polls suggest that people don't want the health benefits taxed.

Here's the problem with taxing benefits which have not been taxed in the past: The extra tax makes health insurance more expensive than it was. It's as if the price of coverage has risen. And when the price rises, people, on average, will buy less of the product. So in theory at least the taxing of health benefits could reduce access to health care by some while the same taxes are being used to fund increased access for others.

Whether this would be true in practice is harder to say, because employer-paid health insurance is a fringe benefit more common for the higher earners among workers. Some of those may well have completely adequate coverage even after some retrenchment. At the same time, focusing on the employees as the group to bear a large share of the cost burden seems sort of...classist.

Today's Teh Cute

Just because. Courtesy of Doug (and Sasha, the puppy) as usual.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

On Wedding Dreams and Hunting Trips

The Feminist Majority Foundation news site tells us that:

7/7/2009 - School officials in Lawrence County, Alabama, have agreed to end single-sex classes. The school district reached a settlement after being notified by the American Civil Liberties Union that its sex segregated programs were illegal.

The ACLU and ACLU of Alabama learned of sex-segregation after sending an Open Records Act (ORA) request to the school board in December 2008. The response to this request showed that not only were the students assigned to single-sex classes, but the teachers were encouraged to teach boys and girls differently.

B-b-but weren't we told how boyz and gurlz learn all different and how important single sex education would be for them to develop in the most optimal way? Because of those girl brains and boy brains? Like this:

Through the ORA inquiry, the ACLU learned that students in East Lawrence Middle School were being assigned to single-sex courses. The school district's ORA response stated that teachers were encouraged to teach boys and girls differently. For example, according to the school district's response, "a writing prompt for a boy may be what place in the world he would most like to go hunting or drive on a race track where the girls may write about their dream wedding dress or their ideal birthday party."

Hilarious. Or it would be if the aim wasn't so nasty. Note the intended focus: the girls towards the family and other people, the boys towards expressions of independence and excitement.

The Pope's Encyclical

Pope Benedict has released his encyclical on economic justice. It's left of all the policies of the two main parties in the United States. He explicitly advocates income transfers to the poor via the government and government regulation and control of the marketplaces. But he equally explicitly argues against abortion and any kind of birth control. I wonder what American progressives think of that mix? I also wonder how real economic justice could come about in a world where women are not allowed much self-determination. But that's because I'm a horrible feminazi.

A few quotes from him:

In his encyclical, Benedict calls for charity guided by truth. "Charity demands justice: recognition and respect for the legitimate rights of individuals and peoples," he says. "Justice must be applied to every phase of economic activity, because this is always concerned with man and his needs," he writes. "Locating resources, financing, production, consumption and all the other phases in the economic cycle inevitably have moral implications. Thus every economic decision has a moral consequence."

The encyclical notes the globalization that has taken place since Paul's encyclical was issued over 40 years ago. Alas, "as society becomes ever more globalized, it makes us neighbors but does not make us brothers." True "development of peoples depends, above all, on a recognition that the human race is a single family working together in true communion, not simply a group of subjects who happen to live side by side." The goal of such development is "rescuing peoples, first and foremost, from hunger, deprivation, endemic diseases and illiteracy."

We are all gonna be brothers, I guess! Brother Echidne.

I'm pleased with the Pope's economic views, of course, even though I'm not sure what influence they will have on, say, the Catholics on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cappuccino, Please

Researchers have found that caffeine might be a preventive or even curative treatment for Alzheimer's:

Coffee drinkers will be clinking mugs in a toast to new research suggesting that just two strong cups of the black stuff a day can reverse the effects of Alzheimer's disease.

There's just one snag: The study was done with mice. So now I know what to give any mice who appear a bit senile. Whether the findings carry over to humans remains to be seen.

Silvio and The Gurlz

Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's Prime Minister, and the man who is going to host the G8 summit starting on Wednesday, really likes gurlz:

The good news for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is that Italians are no longer quite so obsessed with his wife's demand for a divorce or his flirtations with an 18-year-old model. The bad news is that now they are fixated on his parties with paid escorts and the high-priced hooker who has told Italian media that she spent a night with him.

A quick read through the articles discussing this demonstrates a focus on Berlusconi's private life, his libido and his great love of young female beauty. There's not a lot on how this translates to his actual policies, except for this bit:

A day after British newspaper The Guardian published a stinging editorial describing Mr Berlusconi as Europe's most sexist leader, a group of senior women academics in Italy urged first ladies, including President Barack Obama's wife, Michelle, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's wife, Sarah, not to attend the G8.

In an open letter headed "Appeal to the first ladies", the four professors - from Milan, Perugia, Padova and Ferrara universities - braved Government wrath to state their anger about Mr Berlusconi's behaviour.

"We are profoundly indignant, as women working within the world of universities and culture, for the way the Presidente del Consiglio, Silvio Berlusconi, treats women in the public and private realm," the letter states.

"We refer not only to the Prime Minister's relationships, which transcend the personal sphere and assume a public dimension, but more importantly to the way in which political personnel is recruited and to the sexist behaviour and discourse that, in a perverse and systematic way, de-legitimises the presence of women on the social and institutional scene."

In a criticism of the promotion of starlets, actresses and models as candidates of Mr Berlusconi's People of Freedom party, the four professors - Chiara Volpato, Angelica Mucchi Faina, Anne Maas and Marcella Ravenna - said Mr Berlusconi's behaviour threatened the dignity of all Italian women and was having a negative effect on feminine self-determination and achievement.

That private-public distinction is always a tricky one. But there's something very wrong if Mr. Berlusconi promotes women simply on the basis of their sex appeal to him. Doing so ridicules those women in Italian politics who have genuine achievements and who have done their political apprenticeships.

Monday, July 06, 2009

And Now Something Completely Different

We Can Do It!

Or so Paul Krugman thinks, "it" being the offering of health care coverage to everyone:

Let me start by pointing out something serious health economists have known all along: on general principles, universal health insurance should be eminently affordable.

After all, every other advanced country offers universal coverage, while spending much less on health care than we do. For example, the French health care system covers everyone, offers excellent care and costs barely more than half as much per person as our system.

And even if we didn't have this international evidence to reassure us, a look at the U.S. numbers makes it clear that insuring the uninsured shouldn't cost all that much, for two reasons.

First, the uninsured are disproportionately young adults, whose medical costs tend to be relatively low. The big spending is mainly on the elderly, who are already covered by Medicare.

Second, even now the uninsured receive a considerable (though inadequate) amount of "uncompensated" care, whose costs are passed on to the rest of the population. So the net cost of giving the uninsured explicit coverage is substantially less than it might seem.

He is right, I think. When Medicare began in the 1960s health care costs went up a lot, but that was because the elderly are the main users of health care funds. Adding today's uninsured wouldn't cost anywhere that much.

Krugman makes another important observation:

Now, about those specifics: The HELP plan achieves near-universal coverage through a combination of regulation and subsidies. Insurance companies would be required to offer the same coverage to everyone, regardless of medical history; on the other side, everyone except the poor and near-poor would be obliged to buy insurance, with the aid of subsidies that would limit premiums as a share of income.

These are two very important aspects of any successful reform. I know that the idea of forcing people to buy coverage is not a pleasant one, but think about what would happen if this wasn't required.

Individuals who are fairly healthy now might just not buy coverage at all. This has two consequences: First, their payments wouldn't be there to fund the care in general. Second, should they suddenly need care they'd be still uninsured and either would have to be covered by others or left to suffer without coverage.

There's a more subtle consequence, too: If the healthy and young are allowed to opt out of insurance altogether, the average expenses per insured will have to rise. This makes more people want to opt out (some of the other healthy people, say) and the average expenses will keep on rising, and then even more people find the coverage too expensive. And so it goes. That's why requiring insurance is an important part of the plan.

Requiring the insurers to accept everyone is an equally important part, because in the absence of that requirement firms would want to cherry pick: to avoid potentially expensive cases and to gear their advertising and recruitment towards the young and healthy.

Swimming in The Sewers

I should probably end most days by shaking my fist at McCain. It was he who gave us Sarah Palin to chew on, though I'm not freeing her from the responsibility of not having done some self-inspection before agreeing to be THE FIRST FEMALE REPUBLICAN VICE-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE.

It's the almost total invisibility of that bolded statement that I keep musing over. Something similar happened during the Democratic primaries, by the way. That women are the majority of Americans and that no woman has ever sat on those chairs of high power is invisible to even those who believe themselves to be for justice and equality. It. Just. Doesn't. Matter. One female writer even argued that girls now have Nancy Pelosi to look up to and that's enough for us wimminz.

So. Here's what angers me right now: The tearfest of Sarah Palin may be mostly justified but it allows the misogynists to join in, and they are not just attacking Palin, my friends: They are attacking women in general. If McCain had wanted to give them that opportunity he couldn't have done better than by picking Palin. It's as if he thought picking a woman as his running mate would be a good stunt and as no woman would ever be competent enough, let's just pick one that the wingnuts love and be done with it. Let's not do any background checks. And good legs would be nice. Betcha.

So yes, I hate McCain for what he did to me as a feminist, by putting me in the position of having to wade into the sewers of lefty blogs to find out what sexist crap might be floating around on the topic of Sarah Palin. I do that not to defend Palin but to defend the women of the future who might one day run for the office, and I do it with great bitterness, because I'm going to be told off for spending time on someone like Palin by all those who don't see that certain comments are not just about Palin but about women in politics in general.

Had I not observed much the same aimed at Hillary Clinton I might be more willing to believe that the same kind of sexism wouldn't be aimed at women in general but only at those who appear to almost seek that kind of attention. But it was aimed at Clinton and will be aimed at other women, too, unless the distinction between acceptable (if harsh) criticism and unacceptable sexism is being made clear.

For all these reasons, I have put together a quick survey of sexist comments from Eschaton and Democratic Underground threads. They are not the majority of the harsh Palin comments and not even a significant minority. But they appeared not to provoke any discussion or any disagreement.

Sarah Palin talks like a beauty pagent queen.

She says a lot of words in order to look all intelligent and stuff in order to fill out the time a person of normal IQ would take to answer the question...


she thought she was pulling of a cunning stunt with her announcement.


she thought she was pulling of a cunning stunt with her announcement.



I'm disappointed. I thought all that beauty pageant stage walking Palin did would have better prepared her for this epic fail.


Yeah, maybe Carrie Prejean can co-host with Sarah. They seem like they have a lot in common.


Let's put it this way.

Sarah Palin is probably a sexual object in the sense of most porn starlets.

Good sex (there is no other kind) but you want her out of your bed before the cock crows, because the thought of having to make small talk with her over breakfast repulses you no end.


Palin's not hot. She's actually pretty dick deflating, in an ignorant-stupid-moralistic way. Sorry, but she's a typical 40 - something GOP woman that thinks with that push-up bra, tummy tuck panty hose, and makeup from hell that she still has it.

she doesn't.


She has 6 pounds of cake on her face, is unbelievably stupid, arrogant, and mean, and probably smells pretty bad.

Yeah - a real doll.


"She has 6 pounds of cake on her face, is unbelievably stupid, arrogant, and mean, and probably smells pretty bad.

Yeah - a real doll."

Guys pay extra for all that.


so Palin found a clever way to piss off the MSM in a big way before the long week-end

man, waht a bitch!


she gets on national tv and rambles for 20 minutes...but don't talk about her

And do we get a great shot of her tits? NO!!!!!


I could've straightened her out with a good, hard spanking, but Cindy wouldn't let me.

Now look what's happened . . .
John McCain |


UPDATE: Palin changed her mind again. She's quitting, again.


TOP STORY: Palin changed her mind a third time. She's staying. For now.

Praise Jeebus!


No one should be surprised Sarah didn't serve her full term.

She didn't go full term with Trigg either.


Child services should remove those children from the "care" of their obviously insane mother. She's on par with that woman who gave birth into a toilet.


I felt a lot of pity for her family today. Why did they have to there when she rambled on and on, for so long? Can't she do something by herself?


So you need a disabled infant more than a disabled infant needs you? WTF?

That poor baby sure has his work cut for himself, propping up that damn bawling woman. I wonder if Angelina Jolie is up for a rescue mission.

I mean...seriously. It's disturbing.


Word is that Sarah has developed a fascination for fashionable clothes since the election and she is driving the Palin household towards bankruptcy. Todd has insisted that she peddle her ass to the highest bidder or get out.


palin's pregnant with levi's love child.


I hope she can become a spokesperson for drilling in ANWR now, and helping this country become independent of foreign oil.

She should pose naked on a drilling rig.


Taking bets how long before Palin poses for Playboy......


Maybe she's pregnant again

Possible names:

Twig, Swig, Swag, Cog, Bunk, Tweet


Does this mean she'll finally go away???

I am so sick of Drama Queen Barbie.


Th asshole is going to be a constant reminder of what you can do with NO qualifications

Goodbye you whore.


These comments are not a proper study. I didn't spend enough time on the sites to do that. I chose them because they either applied terms such as cunt, bitch or whore to Palin, because she was sexualized, or because the comments applied a general stereotype about women to her (the changing her mind bit, say). The comments about her parenting skills or lack of them might not be viewed as sexist, but I included them because I don't think that male politicians are exposed to the same criticism, especially as Sarah Palin does have a husband and the children do have a father who appears to mostly stay at home.
I should probably point out that by "the sewers" I mean sexism, not certain sites or threads on those sites or any particular commenter.
Added later: I removed some quotes which might be argued to be insufficiently clearly sexist.

Why The Conservative Supremes Matter

Well, you know it anyway, but it's always useful to document:

The Supreme Court heard five environmental law cases in the term that ended Monday, and environmental groups lost every time. It was, said Richard J. Lazarus, a director of the Supreme Court Institute at Georgetown University Law Center, "the worst term ever" for environmental interests.

The court allowed Navy exercises using sonar that threatened whales off California. It limited the liability of companies partly responsible for toxic spills. It made it harder to challenge Forest Service regulations and easier to dump mining waste into an Alaskan lake. And it allowed the Environmental Protection Agency to use cost-benefit analysis to decide how much marine life may be killed by cooling structures at power plants.

Business groups expressed measured satisfaction with the decisions.

"The court does seem to be bringing more common sense back to environmental law," Robin S. Conrad, a lawyer with the United States Chamber of Commerce, said at a recent news briefing.

Merrily skipping towards disaster, we are, led by John Roberts.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Sunday Dog Blogging

Courtesy of Doug, here are Widget and Sasha again.

Sunday Book Post

I got three fun books (read: like fast food but not just like fast food) from the library for this weekend. Two newish Sara Paretskys and C.S. Friedman's Wings of Wrath, a fantasy book. I had not read Friedman before and probably won't in the future (her fantasy not being the kind I like), but one particular quote I found interesting.

Kamala is a peasant woman who has managed to become a Magister, an immortal wizard of a rather nasty type. All other Magisters are men and very few of them are even consider the idea of a female Magister, because women are too weak and emotional to wield such power.

In the following scene Kamala is watching (in a bird shape) two soldiers, a woman and a man, riding towards danger. The man is important for her plans, the woman is not. This is what Kamala thinks:

If he had been alone she might have approached him directly, but he was not. And for reasons Kamala did not fully understand, the presence of a woman by his side made her uneasy. It probably wouldn't have if the woman had been decked out in a stylish riding gown, trailing silk skirts sidesaddle over the flanks of her mount. Such a woman Kamala would simply disdain and dismiss, a mere traveling accessory to the one who really mattered. But no, this woman was clearly a comrade-at-arms in every sense of the word. And that bothered her.

You are jealous, she thought.
What a bizarre thought! Jealous of a morati [mortal]?
Jealous of how he accepts her.

The woman was dressed in a man's garb, but not in any manner that kept her true sex hidden. She had not flirted with the men outside the meetinghouse as a normal woman might have done, but Kamala was willing to bet that the other Guardians were not unaware of the difference between them, or its sexual potential. Yet they all kept a respectful distance, of their own accord. Sometimes one or the other would make a joking comment about her effect on them all, but even then they were laughing with her, not at her.

True acceptance.

It burned her to see it. Why? Because they accepted a warrior woman for what she truly was, not for some role that she must play in order to win men's favor? Because she did not have to pretend to be something less than a woman to win a respected place among them?

If the Magisters had half so much tolerance, Kamala thought bitterly, things might be very different for her now. And at night, in her fitful dreaming, she imagined what that might have been like for her. To be part of their brotherhood without the need to deny her sex. Simply accepted.

She kept her distance.

I found this fascinating as a parable about the way young women might feel in the military (if they are let down in similar ways Kamala was), in the academia and even in business if their particular sub-fields are male dominated. It may be that young women are now "simply accepted" in all those places? Still, the above quote reminds me of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's attempt to take her deceased brother's place in her father's esteem.

And what about the Paretskys? They were fun. I like to read descriptions of cities, especially with a nice dose of lefty politics.

Sarah Palin and Opting Out (by Liz)

Who really knows what's behind Sarah Palin's decision to resign as Governor of Alaska? Certainly not the fact she wants to avoid becoming a lame duck governor for the good of Alaska.

Popular theories being floated include:

· she is gearing up to run for president in 2012

· there is a big scandal set to hit her office in coming days and she is getting out in advance

· she has accepted a well-paying job in the private sector- perhaps as a TV commentator

· she was tired of all the negative press

· she might be pregnant (This classic from CNN's Rick Sanchez).

Here’s another theory: Sarah Palin simply opted out.

Opting out is a loaded concept. The mainstream media often paint opting out as a decision made by women to quit work and live out some kind of warm and fuzzy stay-at-home-mother retro-fantasy. Occasionally, we hear about the women who seem to have opted out but in reality were forced out of the workplace due to a lack of work/life flexibility options and/or hostile working environments. Rarely do we read about the women who leave the corporate world because, quite simply, they think corporate America sucks.

I've interviewed a lot of women who have "opted out" of the corporate world. Many of these women don’t stop working –often they start their own businesses. While almost all of them cite flexibility as a big bonus, motherhood is not the only reason they leave. Their reasons are personal and vary greatly. They leave because they climb high enough on the ladder to get a view of the top and they don't like what they see. Because they can't align their personal values with their company's business objectives. Because they don’t respect their coworkers. Because they don’t like who they are becoming. Because they aren't passionate about their work. Because they have the strength and self-confidence to swap a big paycheck and status for a life more in tune with their own beliefs. Because they aren't passionate about what they are doing. Because they choose to place their own well-being ahead of anything else.

We know the personal is political and ultimately we need to address these issues collectively. After all, studies continue to show that women leaders are good for business. There is risk in women opting out.

Will I be surprised if there is more to the Palin story? No. But what if there isn't? What if, in this case, the political is personal? What if there's nothing else to the story and Sarah Palin simply quit?