Saturday, June 07, 2008

Hillary Clinton's Speech

Here is the transcript.

Hecate went to the speech and has stories to tell.
The videos stolen from Eschaton.

Food For Feminist Thought

Linda Hirshman has written a thought-provoking piece on feminism and the recent primary fights. A snippet:

So what keeps the movement from realizing its demographic potential? First, it's divided along lines so old that they feel like geological faults. Long before this campaign highlighted the divides of race, class and age, feminism was divided by race, class and age. As early as 1973, some black feminists formed a National Black Feminist Organization; in 1984, the writer Alice Walker coined the term "womanism" to distinguish black women's liberation from feminism, the white version. In the early 1970s, writer and activist Barbara Ehrenreich argued on behalf of "socialist feminism," saying that the women's movement couldn't succeed unless it attacked capitalism. The movement was barely out of its teens when Walker's daughter, Rebecca, announced a new wave to distinguish her generation's feminism from the already divided feminisms of the people who had spawned it.

This would have been enough to weaken the movement. But it still could have been like many other reform movements, which manage to remain effective by using such traditional political tools as alliances and compromises. There's an old-fashioned term for it -- "log-rolling." Put crudely: First I vote for your issue, then you vote for mine.

The mostly white, middle-class feminist organizations could have established relationships of mutual convenience with groups such as the black feminists. An alliance like that might have been able to prevent the confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court in 1991. White feminists opposed him, but he had enough support among black voters -- who are heavily female -- to induce four Southern Democratic senators who were heavily dependent on black votes for reelection to cast the crucial votes to confirm him.

But feminists weren't going to do things the old-fashioned, "political" way. Instead, faced with criticism that the movement was too white and middle-class, many influential feminist thinkers conceded that issues affecting mostly white middle-class women -- such as the corporate glass ceiling or the high cost of day care -- should not significantly concern the feminist movement. Particularly in academic circles, only issues that invoked the "intersectionality" of many overlapping oppressions were deemed worthy. Moreover, that concern must include the whole weight of those oppressions. In other words, since racism hurts black women, feminists must fight not only racist misogyny but racism in any form; not only rape as an instrument of war, but war itself. The National Organization for Women (NOW) eventually amended its mission statement to include interrelated oppressions.

Although other organizations work on women's issues when appropriate, none of the other social movements were much interested in making intersectionality their mission. The nation's oldest civil rights organization, the NAACP, which co-sponsored the 2004 march in alliance with women's groups, says nothing about feminism or homophobia or intersectionality in its mission statement. The largest Hispanic rights organization, National Council of La Raza, unembarrassedly proclaims that it "works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans."

I don't know if this description is true or not, though I suspect that it might be somewhat exaggerated as Hirshman likes to provoke us into thinking and arguing. Or so I interpret the style she uses. But she makes a point worth discussing in that last paragraph: What is the best use of scarce feminist resources? Is it duplicating work already done by other organizations, especially if those organizations don't reciprocate by focusing on women's issues in return? Is work duplicated in reality? And if it is, how come are the other organizations allowed a free pass, so to speak, on the way they work for women (or don't)? And what could be done about it?

The whole piece is interesting to read, whether you agree or disagree with Hirshman's arguments. Are feminists really divided so clearly along the lines she describes: age, race and class? Are the waves of feminism really so different in their understanding of what constitutes feminism?

I want to leave this post full of questions for you to think about. But I'm already feverishly thinking about some of these issues in terms of my own feminist definitions, about horizontal and vertical equity, about the onion layers of feminism and about which layers we want to work on, about how someone who wasn't part of any of the waves in person might see them and so on. I think we need to go deeper in the onion, to strip off the layers one by one, not to discard them, but to investigate each of them on our way to the core. That probably doesn't make any sense right now, but I think that the way I write about feminism is more in the world of concepts and theories and less in the world of how they ultimately crop up and interact with other phenomena. Is that bad or good or indifferent? Or even true?

Then there's the whole problem of the class "women" being part of so many other classes, defined by race, income, class, religion, ethnicity, so many ties of solidarity of shared experience, of shared oppressions in some cases, too. How does that all play out in defining feminism?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Just add women and stir? (by Suzie)

           (Keep reading and I’ll get to the controversial part.)
           The idea that we can’t “just add women and stir” has been credited to feminist theorist Charlotte Bunch in 1987. Since then, many feminists have picked up this phrase, with different permutations.
           A common idea is that someone writing a textbook on art, for example, could not simply add the names of female artists and think that she has covered gender in art. Instead, the author would have to look at ways in which female artists worked differently than men, how they were perceived differently, etc. The author might have to rethink concepts, such as: What makes an artist great? Here’s how this might work in regard to peace activism. Here’s an example from geography.
          Similarly, it’s not enough to add women to systems that are dominated by men and revolve around men. You have to examine the system itself from a gendered perspective and change accordingly. Here’s a reference from philanthropy. A nonprofit might find that it wasn’t sufficient to open a training class to women. It might need to offer childcare because women are more likely to be the primary caregivers of children. For the same reason, the nonprofit might find that children were more likely to benefit if resources were given to women instead of men in some communities.
          Along those lines … when some feminists say, “You can’t just add women and stir,” they mean that hiring, promoting, electing or otherwise adding women to fields that have been dominated by men does not guarantee that other women will be helped or that the system will change.
         Sandra Harding writes about science and technology (S&T):
          One major approach to dealing with women’s concerns has been to try to “add women” to S&T educational programs and workplaces and, sometimes, as beneficiaries of S&T products in such areas as health maintenance and domestic work. Such efforts are extremely valuable and far too scarce. Principles of social justice require that women, as well as men, gain access to the benefits of S&T development. Moreover, because women tend to be more alert to the distinctive needs and aspirations of women and their dependents in every generation, they try to get these addressed whenever they have the opportunity. Thus, women educate men as individuals and in their roles as community leaders, policymakers, and administrators about those parts of human needs and aspirations that appear primarily in women’s worlds. Furthermore, access to S&T work can often bring women together in public settings in ways that enlarge women’s consciousness of their role in social relations and empower them as community representatives (Collins 1991). For these reasons, even greater efforts should be made to increase the participation of women.
           However, it was clear from the beginning that such additive projects made unrealistic predictions about the likelihood of gaining equality for women, or even of achieving significant improvements in women’s situations, through such strategies alone. “Adding women” to S&T development has all too often meant adding a few elite women to the high-prestige areas of S&T — a Nobel Prize here, a university appointment there — and otherwise recruiting women’s labour for low-skilled and low-paying jobs to benefit their families, their employers, local governments, consumers in the North, and multinational corporations, but not women themselves. It quickly became apparent that merely “adding women” to existing S&T development projects would not advance either women’s situations or sustainable human development. The S&T sites that women entered remained structured by the understandings and interests of men, for women had been excluded from their design and management.
          Last year, blogger Freewomyn criticized Kathleen Rogers of the Earth Day Network for saying “that if more women were in leadership positions, we would have a solution to the environmental crisis.” She cited Condoleezza Rice as a woman who would not provide the necessary leadership on global warming. “Let’s just way that it’s going to take more than a woman in the White House to save the planet.”
         This week, Laura Flanders said we shouldn't have to elect women to get gender justice (among other things). 
           I agree. But doesn't gender justice include having women in government? I think putting more women into positions of power will improve society, if only because it opens up opportunities for women. It’s odd that this concept seems to have become controversial among feminists.
           I would much rather have Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state than a white man who shared the same views. Her promotion may inspire girls, especially black girls. Having the career she does may make it easier for white men in power to imagine another black woman in that job.
          I understand that it isn’t enough to add only a few token women. But it’s a start. We don’t get parity overnight. It starts with a few women, followed by a few more women, followed by a few more. I think women are more likely to change systems if we can get a foothold in them.
         I'm writing this before I go on vacation, and so, I don't know the latest in the presidential race. But I have been mystified by progressive women who say gender doesn’t or shouldn’t matter when choosing a candidate. I guess this means that they have no problem with men holding the presidency forever as long as the men have good policies. The same goes for race.
         I’m not saying gender or race should be the only things that matter. If you think Obama would significantly improve the lives of women, or the lives of some women, or your life, and Clinton wouldn’t have done so, I understand your vote. If you think it’s important to have an African American in the White House and you like Obama’s policies, I understand your vote. (Mix these thoughts up however you want.) But if you’re a feminist and you say that the gender or race of a candidate doesn’t matter, then I’m floored.

On Becoming A Woman

Blinky the Tree Frog found a fascinating 1950's book full of advice on how to become a woman. The writer, one Harold Shryock, M.A, M.D, obviously had lots of first-hand experience on the trials and tribulations of womanhood. Fascinating that becoming a woman seemed to require a handbook, because everything the book suggests is pretty much assumed to be automatic by today's conservatives and anti-feminists, whether of the religious type or the evolutionary psychology type.

Anyway, you really should read the excerpts Blinky has so kindly provided us. They start here, continue here and here.

There you will learn that "becoming a woman" means becoming an obedient helpmate for a man, one who is good at housekeeping and who keeps the gate in sex so that he doesn't have to restrain himself at all. A woman also knows that her goal in life is to become his housewife, but she should still get some quickly-acquired job qualification so that she can work before the marriage and perhaps later if needed. Of course such qualifications never bring much of a salary...

It's a fascinating trip into the sexual politics of the past, you might say. On the other hand, almost everything in those excerpts is advocated in this country somewhere, right this very moment. Abstinence is the responsibility of girls, for example. Women gentle and home-directed while men are strong and outer-directed? I was just told this by a liberal guy.

And then there is this wonderful excerpt on sex and why it should be women who provide blow jobs for men and not the other way round, really:

Apply that concept to the porn market and the whole idea of what constitutes sex these days. It holds up astonishingly well.
Link thanks to upyernoz.

I’m at the Slayage Conference on the Whedonverses (by Suzie)

listening to papers on topics such as “Myth, Metaphor, Morality and Monsters: How Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Other Works by Joss Whedon Changed Ethical Thought Forever.” I look forward to hearing scholars such as Jeanine Basinger of Wesleyan. I can’t respond to comments. Please don’t torture Echidne too much for anything that I have written.

Slayage link.

Friday critter blogging (by Suzie)

    FeraLiberal is not the only one whose cats question the world with their tails. (See previous post.) Here's my cat Boots, now waiting for me across the Rainbow Bridge. Or, perhaps, her tail was questioning the existence of the Rainbow Bridge. Anyway, I miss her.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

It's My Cup!

Don't you think so?
hat tip to Kenosha Kid

Granny President, Conservative Style

Cal Thomas, a conservative columnist, writes about what a conservative Madam President for this country might look like. He's extremely funny:

A major problem for those wishing more conservative women would run for national office is the smaller pool from which to draw candidates. Large numbers of conservative women adhere to the "family values" they preach. Many prefer the company of family members to that of politicians. It isn't that they don't have drive, vision, or care less about their country than liberal women; it is that their fulfillment comes at a different level and they are paid in a different currency.

You see, Cal needs to explain to us very carefully that it's only the women who are expected to actually live "family values". Conservative guys don't have to do that. They are not scarce in that pool of candidates. Every rock I throw there hits one of them. But the ladies, now. That's a different story, innit? Well, someone has to live those "family values", right?

In short, conservatives believe in gendered division of labor, one in which the women get paid in a different currency altogether (though, sadly, there is no exchange rate between that and the U.S. dollar).

They also don't believe that women should wear pantsuits. By the way, I never thought to use that term in feminist writing, never. But reference to Hillary Clinton's "pantsuits" have become so ubiquitous as insults on the liberal blogs that I realized I have totally missed the feminazi implications of women wearing pants. It's like we are back in the era before Coco Chanel made the idea of women wearing trousers chic. Anyway, Cal doesn't like pantsuits:

What would a female conservative presidential candidate look like? First, she wouldn't wear pantsuits - except when climbing into helicopters. She would wear St. John (note to male readers: look it up; women are impressed I know this). Her husband would be mostly in the background, like Denis Thatcher. Unlike Bill Clinton, who can never leave the stage, this conservative woman's husband would be secure enough in his own skin to allow his wife to promote her beliefs unencumbered by him.

And how does the shadow husband get around the awful (awful) problem Maureen Dowd pointed out the other day: getting emasculated by his too powerful spouse? Thomas doesn't tell us. That only he would wear pants in that family seems to be enough.

I'm trying to imagine this Madam President and all I get is a flickering picture of Margaret Thatcher. I bet that's what Cal got, too. But Margaret Thatcher never fitted the "family values" stuff at all, and I'm sure Thomas knows it. So he ends up suggesting that a conservative woman president would be like a very stern grandma, one who would rap all the guys on the knuckles if they misbehaved.

Family values, indeed.

Well Worth Reading

Is this post by Shakespeare's Sister on the misogyny in the primaries, if you want to understand why many women have been hurt by the campaign, including women who never supported Hillary Clinton at all. I know that I was hurt when I saw Bill Kristol chuckling so companionably with the other guy pundits inside my television set over the problem that is white women, for example, and it wasn't because Bill was being a Big Meanie. It was because I suddenly realized that the "woman problem" for these guys really is something to guffaw about. Women are hilarious! Though of course not as comedians but as the butt of the jokes.

Remember when Mike Barnicle told us that Hillary Clinton reminds all men of their ex-wives at the probate court? That was funny, too! So many memories of laughing pundits! And that Hillary Nutcracker? And the C.U.N.T. t-shirt? Smart marketing moves and so funny, because you have to think for a second or two before you get that the joke is not really about Hillary but about women.

Why did this revelation (that us wimmenfolk are cute when we're unintentionally funny) affect me so? Because I realized that women are just not taken seriously. Would you laugh at the first realistic presidential candidate of an ethnic group which is still banned from combat roles in the military, still banned from being priests in the Catholic Church, still overrepresented among the poor and the low earners? But you laugh at women, or at least the pundits do.

Now, none of this is a defense of Hillary Clinton's campaign which was badly run or a defense of her policies or her campaign statements, some of which came across as racist. Neither is it an argument that she lost because of sexism. And it is certainly not an attempt to ignore the nasty racism in this campaign or to compare the two.

But I'm wondering why I have unearthed misogyny (or something at least equal to contempt towards women) under so many stones, yes, even under liberal-looking stones. Is this just part of the campaign battle, part of using every possible weapon in the arsenal? Or is the cause of gender equality really something of a joke to many?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

What Price Virginity?

This legal case from France is interesting:

The bride said she was a virgin. When her new husband discovered that was a lie, he went to court to annul the marriage -- and a French judge agreed.

The ruling ending the Muslim couple's union has stunned France and raised concerns the country's much-cherished secular values are losing ground to religious traditions from its fast-growing immigrant communities.

The decision also exposed the silent shame borne by some Muslim women who transgress long-held religious dictates demanding proof of virginity on the wedding night.

In its ruling, the court concluded the woman had misrepresented herself as a virgin and that, in this particular marriage, virginity was a prerequisite.

But in treating the case as a breach of contract, the ruling was decried by critics who said it undermined decades of progress in women's rights. Marriage, they said, was reduced to the status of a commercial transaction in which women could be discarded by husbands claiming to have discovered hidden defects in them.

The court decision "is a real fatwa against the emancipation and liberty of women. We are returning to the past," said Urban Affairs Minister Fadela Amara, the daughter of immigrants from Muslim North Africa, using the Arabic term for a religious decree.

The outcry has been unrelenting since word of the April 1 decision in the closed-door trial in Lille was made public last week by the daily newspaper Liberation. In its judgment, the tribunal said the 2006 marriage had been ended based on "an error in the essential qualities" of the bride, "who had presented herself as single and chaste."

My title is slightly misleading, as the price is the annulment of the marriage not for virginity, but for lying about it. Sort of like misleading advertising about the product you sell. Or brides are seen as selling, I guess.

What's also interesting is that while most everyone dislikes the case, it may have trouble being appealed as neither of the original parties want to appeal it. Whether that means the case becomes a precedent for all French couples I do not know.

The wider questions it raises are interesting and somewhat troubling.

Why Vote For Obama?

There's a meme going around about some who supported Clinton now threatening to vote for McCain rather than for Obama. I'm almost 100% convinced that the number of people who would do that is vanishingly small and that the megaphone this story is getting on the net has to do with something else altogether. Perhaps Republicans are spreading the meme? Or most likely it's those among the Democrats who just don't want to put this wonderfully bloody and bruising primary fight to bed. Either way, pursuing that avenue is not unifying, useful or healing, to either anyone who might contemplate voting for McCain for such reasons or for anyone who likes to contemplate someone doing that.

Did you notice that I wrote that whole paragraph without specifying the gender of those Clinton supporters? Have you noticed that this is not usually the case in the stories based on this meme?

The common way of approaching this topic is to imply that it is female voters who are considering this dastardly deed of no party faithfulness, not male voters. I'm not sure if research backs up that generalization? Perhaps it does.

Well, Scott Lemieux tells why women and feminists should vote for Obama:

But even when it comes to women's rights, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The enforcement of civil rights protections for women is likely to be much less in a Republican administration, for example. The global gag order will remain firmly in place. And in general, four more years of a tax-cut-supporting, massive-defense-spending GOP president will not only make any kind of serious progressive reform (much of which disproportionately benefits women even if not specifically targeted to do so) virtually impossible for four more years but will also make it more difficult in the future. A McCain presidency would be very, very bad for women even if not a single Supreme Court vacancy opens up during his tenure.

I agree with Scott. You don't want to jump out of the frying pan of these last eight years into the fire of yet another Republican Reich, so to speak. But I think his post could have been delayed a little longer.

Why? Because the Democratic Primary was truly a historic one, a sign of how far the nation has come. Dreams were being pursued in that race! And either outcome would have been spine-tinglingly exciting for many -- if not most -- Americans.

But once the winner has been declared some dreams will remain dreams and those who held the dream of seeing the first woman president of the United States must now get used to the idea that it will take a while longer, perhaps even a whole lot longer. Yes, it's possible to feel exhilarated about the nomination of Barack Obama and what it means for this country, while at the same time feeling sad about what it does not mean. Acknowledging that loss seems important, too, while also celebrating the history-changing event that Obama's nomination is.

But Scott is certainly right in his recommendations. McCain does not have women's best interest in his policy platform. Rather, women's rights are what he serves to his fundie base as exchange for votes.

Gee. What an Honor!

I think feminists are being nicely demonized in this new Maureen Dowd lunatic rant:

But even as Obama was trying to savor, Hillary was refusing to sever. Ignoring the attempts of Obama and his surrogates to graciously say how "extraordinary" she was as they showed her the exit, she and a self-pitying Bill continued to pull focus. Outside Baruch College, where she was to speak, her fierce feminist supporters screamed "Denver! Denver! Denver!"

Bolding is mine. What did you take away from that piece? That there are no fierce feminists supporting Barack Obama? Katha Pollitt doesn't count? Eve Ensler doesn't count? Barbara Ehrenreich doesn't count? Amanda Marcotte doesn't count? Ann Friedman doesn't count? All those women and men who are feminists and who have worked for Obama's campaign don't count?

Of course Maureen Dowd is not a feminist herself. Her inability to see anything wrong with this sentence shows it very clearly:

For months, Hillary has been trying to emasculate Obama with the sort of words and themes she has chosen, stirring up feminist anger by promoting the idea that the men were unfairly taking it away from the women, and covering up her own campaign mistakes with cries of sexism. Even his ability to finally clinch the historic nomination did not stop her in that pursuit. She did not bat her eyelashes at him and proclaim him Rhett Butler instead of Ashley Wilkes.

Poor, poor Maureen. Feminism is all about emasculating men, wearing those pink gelding scissors at your belt, as all fashion magazines dictate. And politics is really nothing but retelling Gone With The Wind.

Perhaps this is the pearl in Dowd's latest outcry:

Either way, by broadcasting that she's open to being Obama's running mate, she puts public pressure on him similar to the sort of pressure Walter Mondale was under from rampaging feminists when he put Geraldine Ferraro on the ticket. Mondale ended up seeming henpecked, as Obama would seem if he caved to the women who say they will write in Hillary's name or vote for anti-choice McCain before they'd vote for Obama.

Now the feminists are rampaging. Earlier they were just screaming and fierce. And then they henpecked poor Walter Mondale. The way to look manly is by locking all your women up and by not letting them ever get close enough to men with those gelding scissors. Sigh. Of course Dowd herself emasculates every single male columnist by coming across so fierce and rampaging, and her next column should really be about how she should not be allowed to do that as it will cause the sales of Viagra among pundits to skyrocket.

Why am I writing about poor and deluded Maureen Dowd? Because her thesis encapsulates much of what I read every day: a certain kind of trivialization of feminism as unimportant, as having to do with shrieking women of a particularly illogical kind. Every day I read jokes about too many women crying sexism the way we usually say that someone cries wolf. Every day I see the threshold get lowered on what is acceptable to say about sexism as just another fun move.

No doubt something similar will be done to racism in the near future, to the detriment of all of us. But I don't think people on the left think of racism as something only shrieking or rampaging people oppose, or as something that's kind of fun to crack jokes about.

Maya Lin

I'm not terribly well read in the field of sculpture, but her work strikes me as quite path-breaking, as something appealing our most human feelings, and not only because touch is encouraged. When I first visited the Vietnam War Wall I cried, and I know no-one buried there. It was that remarkable combination of monumentalism and privacy, that ability to search for one name, to copy it, to touch it, to spend time with the memory of that person, and at the same time to realize the enormity of the losses, the gigantic wall in front of you standing as a grim reminder.

I think she is a genius.

That's the prelude. Then the meat of the post: Is she being treated as a genius? Is she getting the accolades and the following geniuses usually get? Has she been declared a national treasure? Has she been invited to be a member on all the important boards, an expert in all important competitions?

Perhaps. But I suspect that she would be getting much more attention if her name wasn't Maya but Matthew Lin.

Now try to talk me out of that opinion, please.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Barack Obama, the Next President of the United States

I certainly hope that he will be and not John McCain. This country needs fixing, not further destruction, and we can all help Obama to do the necessary fixing while also reminding him of the issues that are important to us.

Is It Over?

Asks Echidne from under her bed, and the question is about the melt-down within the liberal blogosphere between those who support Obama and those who support Clinton.

It has certainly been a learning experience for me, something that has made me accept very humbly that my understanding of the human psyche is altogether deficient, that my optimism about the importance of thought and debate is vastly inflated and that human beings are excellent in seeing the mote in their neighbor's eye while ignoring the humongous beam sticking out of their own eye socket.

Or perhaps I'm just too cold and reptile-like to really appreciate what kinds of feelings have been first flared and then wounded in all the zillions of blog fights I have followed. I was never in love with any musicians, either.

Still. To have someone who you have debated with and joked with and argued with turn into a pod-person who can only scan your comments for signs of infidelity to their chosen leader is upsetting, to say the least, and to observe how blogs turned into all-Clinton or all-Obama in less than a nanosecond is really confusing.

Or maybe not. Maybe we are all offered a lesson about how battle lines are drawn, what really energizes and motivates people, and maybe we are all also going to learn how to become friends again. I hope so, anyway.

F.U. Or: A Short Essay On Fuck You.

F.U., F.U., F.U! Did that make you feel better? Oops! I forgot you're not the one writing it but the one reading it. Perhaps I should start again?

The use of foul language is common on lefty blogs, and the point of using it is ultimately political. Thers explained it best a few days ago:

Conservative bloggers have speculated that my use of "fuck" indicates that I possess an impoverished vocabulary, a thesis that I reject as pretty fucking stupid and in fact rather cromulent. Actually, I curse online as a conscious choice. Back in the early days of blogs I used to go into comments sections and try to, you know, persuade conservatives that, like, the proposed invasion of Iraq was perhaps not such a great idea. And what happened was, after a colloquy that sometimes lasted literally weeks at a time, what resulted was my interlocutor politely informing me that we would "agree to disagree" and that he (almost always "he") had quite enjoyed "breaking a lance" with me and that he fully expected me to join hands with him and sing a solemn hymn to Comity and then we'd go light a candle upon the altar of Civilized Discourse.

And, privately, I was thinking to myself, this is fucking insane. A lot of people are going to die for no rational reason, and here we are acting like we're all hot fucking shit because we don't say "fuck."

And you know what I did next?

I started to say "fuck" quite a lot, and I began to tell the people who were deliberately fucking up my country and causing a lot of fucking pointless carnage that they were a bunch of fucking horrible sociopaths and that I fucking hated them.

And it's been clear fucking sailing ever since.

I fucking applaud that fucking explanation, I do. It's certainly very true that something is fucking wrong with our value rankings when we think saying "fuck" is worse than killing people in other countries or worse than politely suggesting stringing them all up here at home, and the latter are the types of writings I have read on some conservative blogs.

But (and none of what comes after this is intended to refer to Thers, as he's not guilty of any of it and, as I said, I totally agree with the point he was making). The extensive use of foul language also has problems.

One of the worst for me is that so much foul language consists of the liberal use of words "cunt", "bitch" and "slut", whether applied in the original meaning to hate on women or whether used in the new enlightened sense of gender-blind cuntery, bitchiness or sluttery. All your enemies can now be cunts! Even men! This means that we can use those words freely and be all for legal abortions. Yeah.

But the words still drag their old misogynistic messages with them. Nothing can be done about that, you know, and so women reading these blogs get frequent reminders of their ultimate stinkiness. It's unpleasant, like someone's claws continuously scraping at your lower back or your inner arms. Even if you go to the doctor and get told that this condition is nothing to worry about, that "cunt" doesn't mean "you" nowadays, the scraping still goes on.

Sometimes I suspect that there are bloggers and commentators who have no idea that girls might be reading political blogs, that they might in fact be reading the very words you write right at this minute! Now that is a scary thought! Can you still suggest that a politician "throws like a girl" or "bawls like a twelve-year old girl"? Aargh!

It is not just girls who read political blogs, but some in the audience are not accustomed to swearwords so liberally applied. The effect is similar to that curry which a friend of mine once made from a scribbled recipe sent by his mother. The writing was hard to interpret so all the spices ended up being multiplied by a rough factor of ten. Hot it was, and our kidneys complained loudly.

Since this post is all about bad analogies, let me finish with a perfume one. Using foul language a lot has the same risk as getting used to splashing your favorite perfume on every morning. Over time your nose grows numb and you can't smell that alluring scent unless you spritz a few more times. But then the people in the elevator with you drop like flies after a Raid attack.

That's one reason why I don't employ the fuck-family very often. Another one is that they are very powerful people and I want to save that power for the times it is really needed.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Misogyny is Funny

If you belong to the majority in this country by being female you might be just a little bit ready to kill someone when you watch what is regarded as acceptable entertainment on Fox:

What is funny is a guy who says all women are shallow, materialistic and whiners. He can smile like a wolf while doing this and because of the extreme misogyny he embodies Bill "The Falafel" O'Reilly comes across as almost reasonable. And the one poor woman brought into the conversation (where she is labeled as shallow, materialistic and a whiner) is expected to laugh at the silliness of women, too. He, he, he. How very hilarious.

We swim in it, sisters and brothers. And I'm not describing what "it" is in any great detail on this family blog.
If you want to feel the same dizziness I did, note that I read the above Media Matters piece right after reading about the repatriation of all the children who were taken away from the polygamous sect in Texas, and the article mentioned this:

The order signed by Walther requires the parents to stay in Texas, to attend parenting classes and to allow the children to be examined as part of any ongoing child abuse investigation. It also requires that parents allow state workers to make unannounced visits to the families and that they notify the state if they plan to travel more than 100 miles from their homes.

But it does not put restrictions on the children's fathers, require that polygamy be renounced or that parents live away from the Yearning For Zion Ranch.

Perhaps some women (and men) don't whine enough. Perhaps there is something in the substance in which we swim so that girls and women are held to different standards, a lesser power, a greater silence?

And yes, thank you for asking, I'm fucking angry today.

From My Mailbag

Wouldn't it be fun if I had an actual mailbag, brought to me every morning on the back of a boa constrictor? It would have to have golden tassels with little bells in the four corners and it would always include gifts of chocolate (which I would eat right away), jewelry (which I would sell right away) and brain food.

Now I sadly only get the brain food. And attempts to infect me with malware. Such are the rewards of feminist blogging.

Speaking of my mailbag (I did mention that, didn't I? I didn't spell it malebag?), Violet Socks is having a fund drive because she needs to get new equipment for blogging purposes. Her blog, The Reclusive Leftist, is worth supporting.

A researcher wants to hear the stories of women who have had an abortion in Iowa and who had financial trouble affording it. If you can help, go here.

And a piece wonders where all the women go who start in sciences but end up...where? I wonder how much is lost in that leakage of the pipeline, too, not only by the women themselves but the whole economy.

Three things mentioned. That's good, to go by the rule of three. I have to resort to such mechanical rules because of that dratted flower which ejaculates pollen outside my window thus causing my breathing pipelines to block up. A brain full of pollen might look pretty but efficient it aint.

The Tinsley Report

Or rather, an article by Cathy Tinsley in yesterday's Washington Post says something quite interesting about women in management jobs, something that Michael Gurian's simplistic and over-generalizing theories (see Suzie's post below) completely miss: Women and men are not read the same by others:

In a series of studies involving hundreds of participants since 2005, my colleagues and I have found systematic social and financial backlash against even mildly assertive female executives. In one study, for example, people judged the behavior of a hypothetical human resources manager (alternately male or female) negotiating for a refund on unused hotel space. Female managers were judged as significantly more offensive, and less likely to receive any refund, than male managers, even though all managers engaged in exactly the same behavior. In later studies in which human resources managers asked for a refund, displaying mildly assertive behavior, the behavior was routinely judged appropriate when displayed by a man but offensive when displayed by a woman.

In another set of experiments, a finance director (again, alternately a man or a woman) had to choose between attending to a work crisis (an information technology system crash) or a family emergency (a sick child). When the finance director was female and chose to stay at work, she was seen as competent but unlikable. When the female finance director went home, she was rated as incompetent but likable. Yet the choices male finance directors made did not matter -- the men were always judged to be fairly likable and competent.

What is especially interesting is that most of this bias is wholly invisible to the judgers themselves (who express astonishment when the bias is pointed out). Also, men and women are both likely to judge the genders according to this differential scheme.

What is to be done? Note that there might be an "appropriate" way for women to act in the examples having to do with the right amount of aggression. Perhaps there is some acceptable girl-brain way of doing those tasks? We should ask Mr. Gurian.

But no such solution will help women in the example about coping with either a work crisis or a family emergency, because either choice leaves her with a negative evaluation. The solution must be a change in the way we judge others and must include making these gender schemes something we are aware of.

Perhaps Not Just Prone

That would be the position of women in al-Qaida, according to the number two seeded terrorist, Ayman Al-Zawahri. Women can also take care of the male al-Qaida members' children and houses. That's it, pretty much:

In response to a female questioner, al-Qaida No. 2 leader Ayman Al-Zawahri said in April that the terrorist group does not have women. A woman's role, he said on the Internet audio recording, is limited to caring for the homes and children of al-Qaida fighters.

His remarks have since prompted an outcry from fundamentalist women, who are fighting or pleading for the right to be terrorists. The statements have also created some confusion, because in fact suicide bombings by women seem to be on the rise, at least within the Iraq branch of al-Qaida.

A'eeda Dahsheh is a Palestinian mother of four in Lebanon who said she supports al-Zawahri and has chosen to raise children at home as her form of jihad. However, she said, she also supports any woman who chooses instead to take part in terror attacks.

Another woman signed a more than 2,000-word essay of protest online as Rabeebat al-Silah, Arabic for "Companion of Weapons."

"How many times have I wished I were a man ... When Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahri said there are no women in al-Qaida, he saddened and hurt me," wrote "Companion of Weapons," who said she listened to the speech 10 times. "I felt that my heart was about to explode in my chest...I am powerless."

All this reminds me of that Stokely Carmichael quote about the proper position of women in SNCC:

In 1964, Ruby Doris Smith Robinson presented an indignant assault on the treatment of women civil rights workers in a paper entitled "The Position of Women in SNCC," to a SNCC staff meeting. Stokely Carmichael reputedly responded, "The only position for women in SNCC is prone."

If you can forget the extremely distasteful context of terrorism in this topic the messages are fairly similar. Even liberation organizations and terrorist organizations are boys' tree-houses and girls are not allowed. The "liberation" is somehow oddly not for women at all. Just think where the women ended after the French Revolution was over (with a worse legal position than before it) or what happened to women's position when the old Soviet bloc crumbled.

But of course most of us wouldn't have been surprised by Al-Zawahri's response at all. Isn't radical Islam really strongly invested in forcing women back into seclusion, away from paid employment and back under the rules of the Sharia law which doesn't treat women equally with men? Why would these women expect anything different from those who hold such opinions?

Hat tip to upyernoz who wrote about this topic under a title which translates to "the mujahida (the
word mujahid, holy warrior, with a feminine ending tacked on) needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle."

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Michael Gurian strikes again (by Suzie)

         Search this blog if you want to read more about his expertise on gender. His latest book explains how men and women lead differently in business "so we can decide who is better at what in the business world," Forbes explains. I guess it's too hard to evaluate people as individuals.
          Gurian says men and women act differently in the workplace, not because they're socialized differently, but because their brains are different. That's why it's hard for Clinton because she has to "compete like a man." Gurian adds: "A woman right now running for office is caught."
         Here are a few suggestions for politics and business: Let's talk about the different ways people lead. But let's not assume that people can be categorized neatly, or that their differences are innate.  Otherwise, people who act against the stereotype are seen as unnatural or inauthentic.