Saturday, October 14, 2017

Losing Memory

The losses mount. 

First she forgets where she put her keys, then where she parked her car, then she forgets that not all keys open all doors. Next she forgets her children, not remembering where she put them, where she parked them, what they might be for.  Last she forgets the words, the sentences, the chains which bind meaning together.  But the meaning, the meaning she remembers.  It is in her eyes.

We sit by the window when a hare leaps into the picture the window frames.  It stops, cranes its head, turns its long ears toward us, and looks at us with meaning in its eyes.  

She points at the hare, smiles, turns toward me and whispers: "Hare!"  

We hold hands.

This we still have.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

And the First Women's Convention Presents: Drum Roll....Bernie Sanders!

The Women's Convention, organized by the organizers of the Women's March, opens on October 27.  Guess who its headline speaker will be?  Senator Bernie Sanders.

There's nothing wrong with male politicians supporting an event such as the Women's Convention by attending or even by speaking.  But the choice of a man as the headline speaker is most unfortunate, however progressive he might be.

It makes the women who organized the convention look weak and in need of male leadership or — if it really was true that no famous woman could be found to speak on that night — it echoes the familiar anti-feminist argument that there just aren't enough good women in the various pipelines, but a good man could easily be found.

One of the organizers gave an "inclusiveness" reason for the choice of Sanders as the headline speaker:*

...“we believe as women … that we ought to have more than just women at the Women’s Convention.”
And that is wonderful.  Bernie Sanders**, and other male allies,  should certainly have been invited, both to attend and to speak if their message merited that. 

But I have always understood, based on what I've seen progressives state online and in various protest instructions, that the allies to a cause are not to take center stage, are not to march in the front, are not to steal the limelight.

In this particular case the limelight and center stage seem to have been handed to an ally, though.  The fault thus belongs to the organizers of the convention.

*  I interpret the message as about inclusiveness, though, to be honest, I'm not quite certain what the quote is supposed to say.  I couldn't find the omitted part with some quick Googling. 

Inclusiveness can be a tricky concept, by the way.  It's important to make sure that previously marginalized groups are included in social justice movements which concern them, and it's important to make their voices heard.

But general inclusiveness is not always an asset.  If it extends to the goals of a protest (as was, to some extent, the case with the Women's Marches), then some of the goals are bound to stand in direct contradiction with each other, assuming that all different groups can contribute their own goals.  Thus, initially both pro-life and pro-choice groups were invited to participate in the Marches, and even later, when the former were dis-invited,  theoretical contradictions between feminism and some of the other goals remained.

Likewise, if the attendance is encouraged to be as inclusive as possible, the Convention will then no longer have much anything to do with women, per se.  Theoretically it would then be possible to have the convention halls full of men and women who oppose gender equality, even if the topics weren't expanded to cover such concerns.

** (This footnote added later)  Note, however, that Sanders has several opinions which might raise an eyebrow or two among many progressive women and at least some progressive men. For example, his opinions about so-called "identity politics" are perhaps not terribly nuanced, and he appears to view reproductive choice as somehow not related to the economic advancement of women, but a completely separate issue.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Alt Right Web

If you haven't read this Buzzfeed article yet on the spider web we politely call Alt Right and less politely white supremacy/nationalism, you should.  The big spider in the middle of the web appears to be one hedge fund billionaire called Robert Mercer whose money has financed the construction of the web.  The flies dangling for it are provided by the rest of us.

I met many familiar names from manosphere while reading that article.  The reason for that is made clear in this Media Matters piece which looks at the connections between the various misogyny sites and the Alt Right.  Lots of overlap there, my dear readers.  And in case you haven't noticed, those marching for white nationalism (the ones who chant "You Will Not Replace Us") are overwhelmingly not only white but also male.

That's because the role of white women in the white supremacy movement seems to be that of a breeder.*  It's a better outcome than genocide or being evicted from a country, sure, but it's not exactly appealing, and it's certainly not the same as equal rights for men and women.

Other fainter connections between the misogyny groups and Alt Right also become evident with not much thought.  Yiannopoulos, repeatedly mentioned in the Buzzfeed article, has toured college campuses preaching that "feminism is a cancer," has published an article with this title: “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy.”**

Add to that the latest snippet about the Alt Right's Stephen Miller, Trump's Rasputin-like speech writer:

But make no mistake, Miller has plenty of infuriating stories. And perhaps none more so than this next anecdote from the piece.
He jumped, uninvited, into the final stretch of a girls’ track meet, apparently intent on proving his athletic supremacy over the opposite sex.

None of that is intended to remove our focus on the main message of the Alt Right which is white nationalism or white supremacy or at least a system where race determines one's placement on the power ladders.  But that Alt Right spider web is wide and sticky and all sorts of insects are food for the spiders who manage it.


*  When I first learned the term Alt Right, I surfed several sites and blogs which my research suggested were central to their thought processes.  I found enormous amounts of racism, obviously, given the explicit focus of the movement, but I also found a lot of contempt for women as a sex, a lot of pieces copied from the misogyny sites and several ruminations about whether white women in the planned utopia of those folks should be allowed to vote at all, or perhaps only vote once they had birthed at least three new citizens for the Reich.

I also found several sites which were explicitly against democracy.  They wanted democracy to be replaced by something which resembles feudalism, and for some weird reason the writers assumed that they would be the feudal overlords in such arrangements.

**  This might be directly linked to the view of women as good for nothing else but breeding new soldiers for the movement.