Monday, November 26, 2012

Pedestal Pushers

Yeah, I spend my days like a typical feminist. Wake up to Public Radio. Head into bathroom to pee standing up. Stub my toe and blame the patriarchy. Eat cornflakes in company of several cats in my tiny apartment. Head off to work in ponytail and sensible shoes. Feel superior to my male colleagues. Blame chauvinism when the computer crashes. Return home alone to frozen dinner. Rinse. Repeat.

Okay, not really. At the risk of giving this woman yet another chance to flog her book, I'm probably a lot like Suzanne Venker. We both spend most of our time taking care of kids, house and husband. The difference is, she thinks all you ladies should embrace this life as your biological destiny. And I think that's horsesh*t.

If I click through to a article called "The War on Men," I expect a wild ride in the WayBack machine. Ms. Venker brings it.
In a nutshell, women are angry. They’re also defensive, though often unknowingly. That’s because they’ve been raised to think of men as the enemy. Armed with this new attitude, women pushed men off their pedestal (women had their own pedestal, but feminists convinced them otherwise) and climbed up to take what they were taught to believe was rightfully theirs.

Now the men have nowhere to go.

It is precisely this dynamic – women good/men bad – that has destroyed the relationship between the sexes. Yet somehow, men are still to blame when love goes awry. Heck, men have been to blame since feminists first took to the streets in the 1970s. 
Ah, the scales fall from my eyes! Before, I was unknowingly defensive. Now I see that my marital happiness rests on pedestals. And all these years I thought it was mutual respect and kindness. Suzanne, you've taught me the importance of preserving a man's sense of superiority.
Men want to love women, not compete with them. They want to provide for and protect their families – it’s in their DNA. But modern women won’t let them.
Why, it's all so simple!

Wait, I still feel kind of angry. I'm imagining someone telling my daughter that she shouldn't get a fancypants degree or a high-paying job because it will be threatening to her husband. I'm imagining her earning 74 cents for every dollar her male colleagues make. I'm thinking of someone teaching her that strength and independence are unfeminine.


I guess you're right, Suzanne - I am angry. But not at men. I'm angry that women can't access emergency contraception over the counter. I'm angry that Sandra Fluke got called a slut for speaking out about birth control. I'm angry that female news anchors wear sleeveless dresses and heels when their male colleagues wear suits. And I'm angry that you and your aunt Phyllis Schlafly are still peddling this retrograde nonsense about the need for women to be subservient in marriage. ENOUGH. Did no one ever give you the Free to Be You and Me record when you were a kid? Here, have a listen.

Today's $5 is for the National Organization for Women. Because women's success does not mean men's failure.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Et tu, Elmo?

I know I just donated to PBS last week. But in the wake of news that Elmo-puppeteer Kevin Clash is resigning after a second allegation of statutory rape, and the likelihood that this will be used as yet another pretext to defund Public Broadcasting, I think I may have to support it again today.

What does PBS have to do with feminism? A lot. See if you can tell Goofus from Gallant.
  • PBS's mission is to educate, inform and inspire. Network television's purpose is to sell ads.
  • Barbara Walters interviews the Kardashians. PBS airs interviews with Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem and Katie Roiphe.
  • Fox News uses election night to showcase Megyn Kelly's legs, while PBS features Gwynn Ifill, Mark Kelly and David Brooks having an intelligent conversation.
  • Hannah Montana is a secret popstar. Abby Cadabby gets career advice from Sonia Sotomayor.
And that's just here in America. Overseas, Sesame Workshop purposefully promotes the idea that girls can and should become whatever they want. From the Sesame Workshop website:
Low expectations for women are perpetuated across society, including, crucially, by children themselves. But just as culture can close minds and doors, it also has the power to open them. Our educational programs around the world are aimed squarely at boosting ambitions and encouraging girls to dream big. It’s all about positive role models. On-screen images of girls pursuing academics and other fun, interesting activities help children — girls as well as boys — broaden their sense of women’s potential. Through the joyous example of some remarkable female Muppets, we’re giving girls permission to dream, discover, and imagine a future full of possibility.
Get a hanky before you click through to the "My Name is Khokha" video of the Egyptian muppet  singing about how she will go to school and even learn to count.

Without diminishing the horror of what Kevin Clash allegedly did, I hope that it won't be used to further the conservative promise to cut PBS's funding. Federal money for PBS accounted for 0.00012% of the budget in 2012. Cutting it will do absolutely nothing to help the deficit, and will do irreparable harm to the public discourse.

Today's $5 goes to PBS. This video says it all.

Monday, November 19, 2012

That's RUDE!

In Caitlin Moran's terrific book on modern feminism, How to Be a Woman, she approaches misogyny as she would any other uncivilized behavior.
Don't call it sexism. Call it "manners" instead . . . Because even the most rampant bigot on earth has no defense against a charge of being simply rude.
Which is exactly right, of course. We don't laugh at racist jokes, only to get pissed off about sexism. Feminism is about everyone being treated civilly.

In that vein, I'd like to call out two gentlemen for extreme rudeness last week.

First, Fox regular Brian Kilmeade joked about finding female anchors by looking through the Victoria's Secret catalog.
Such a kidder, that guy! In June he made his co-host Gretchen Carlson walk off the set during a live broadcast when he joked(?), "Women are everywhere. We're letting them play golf and tennis now. It's out of control."
That is really RUDE. And possibly actionable.
Strangely, I now find myself agreeing with a Fox Opinion piece. (Seriously, Mom, don't click through!) American Pie actor Jason Biggs recently posted obscene, personal comments to his Twitter feed about Janna Ryan and Anne Romney. Then he had the nerve to say, "I made a political tweet, so I got a little bit of heat from the right."
Biggs' tweets are not political commentary. They are just RUDE. And I agree with Fox's Dan Gainor, Nickelodeon ought to fire him from his job voicing the one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the animated children's movie.
Today's $5 goes to the Public Broadcasting Service, which is about the only place you can still go for news that is not RUDE.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Double Down

Let's say, hypothetically, that your political party had just lost big because you really pissed off women and minority voters. Would you, (a) try to figure out how to be less odious, or (b) double down? Even if you didn't care about women, just from a tactical perspective, what would you do?

Obviously, you'd continue to oppose reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, right?

I admit, it wasn't the first answer that popped into my mind, either. Why fight against a law that funds women's shelters, domestic violence prevention and legal assistance for victims? I mean, assuming you're not Phyllis Schlafly,
In its 17 years of operation, it has done little or no good for real victims of domestic violence, while its funds have been used to fill feminist coffers and to lobby for feminist objectives and laws. . . The feminists have so broadened the definition of domestic violence that it doesn't have to be violent and can usually be whatever a woman alleges. Definitions of domestic violence include vague and overbroad concepts such as emotional distress, harassment, annoyance or merely unpleasant speech.
And you thought your crazy granny was bad!

No, the real reason House Republicans are still blocking the Violence Against Women reauthorization is because the Senate passed a version adding protections for undocumented immigrants and LGBT couples.

I dislike House Leader John Boehner. A lot. But if he were getting beat up, I'd still want the police to come to his aid. Boehner and the House Republicans must really hate undocumented farm workers to threaten them with deportation for reporting domestic abuse. We know that Republicans get the vapors from "alternative lifestyles," but gay unions are being recognized in ten states. I hear the gays might even be raising children these days!

Please, Senator Sessions, tell me how this is all a stunt by the Democrats.
I favor the Violence Against Women Act and have supported it at various points over the years, but there are matters put on that bill that almost seem to invite opposition. You think that’s possible? You think they might have put things in there we couldn’t support that maybe then they could accuse you of not being supportive of fighting violence against women?
I respect your use of sarcasm, sir, but I still call bullshit. Let me summarize the House Republican position on this one: We care about preventing domestic violence. But we care more about hating illegal immigrants. And, if we have to protect those icky gay dudes, too, then Girls, you are on your own.

Today's $5 goes to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Here's hoping the House can stop playing politics with women's safety and pass this VAWA in the next session.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Who Remembered in November?

So, how's that War on Women thing working out as a political strategy?

Maybe, not so much with demonizing women for wanting to control their own bodies.

Is that message getting through to you, Rush?

In case the video link isn't working, here's Rush Limbaugh waking up November 7 to tell us that "Obama treats them like Vaginas, and they say, 'He's my man.'" He also blames Hispanics for Republican losses. Obviously, his insulting Sandra Fluke had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

Okay, then.

There will be five new women in the Senate come January. Tammy Baldwin, Heidi Heitkamp, Elizabeth Warren, Mazie Hirono and Deb Fischer will bring the number of female Senators to 20; women made huge gains in the House of Representatives; and women swept New Hampshire, where the Governor, Senators and Representatives will all be female.

Obviously, I'm not suggesting that women are inherently better at governing. I know Sheryl Crow thinks, "We could use a little female common sense on Pennsylvania Avenue." But really, isn't the point that women are keenly aware of the way that equal pay and women's health issues play out in the real world? It's a little harder to pretend that access to birth control isn't an issue effecting women's full participation in society, when you've been navigating between career and family your entire adult life.

I know that holding only 20% of the Senate won't end the nonsense about defunding Planned Parenthood. Yes, the House is full of nutjobs guaranteed re-election by gerrymandered districts. But we're finally getting to a point where women don't win because they're women, or in spite of the fact that they're women. They win because they run a better campaign. What else could a feminist ask for?

Today's $5 is for Emily's List, which works to elect progressive candidates who support issues relevant to women.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Voter Moms

It's here! It's here! Election Day is finally here! Who else is maniacally trying to guess voter turnout by looking at photos of crowded polling places? Who else played the hard rock version of the Star Spangled Banner for the kids at breakfast? Who else is wondering what could possibly take the place of checking the PollTracker app fifty times a day?

Ladies, did this election season make you feel special? From the birth-control/Sandra Fluke episode, through the Personhood Amendments, right down to the Binders Full of Women, what a ride! I think these politicians may want our votes.

Might I make a modest request in return?

Can we please stop referring to all female voters as Moms?

I know, I am a mom. Yes, my kids actually play soccer. But we're not voting for president of the PTA, so please don't treat me as if my world is so provincial that I can only judge it through the window of my minivan.

I guess I should be grateful I'm not a "waitress mom," helpfully pigeonholed by the New York Times as "blue-collar white women who did not attend college." Although, "not all waitress moms are waitresses, of course, nor are they all mothers."

Well, as long as we have that one clear.

Okay, I understand talking about class and gender is kind of tricky. And no one would argue there isn't a huge gender gap in voting patterns. But the only group of men that is consistently referred to by their parenting status is "hipster dads." And that's not really meant in a nice way, either.

It's offensive to be treated as if women's lives revolve around reproduction and childcare. Wasn't the whole point of fighting for contraception and the ERA to make women full participants in society? No one pitches ads to my husband as if he'll vote for the guy who helps him get the kids fed before sports.

I suppose having stupid ads directed at us is better than no ads at all. But, still . . . Let's aim for a little better next cycle.

Today's $5 is for the League of Women Voters. I do love those ladies.

And DON'T FORGET, to do like the Lady Miss Kier says. (Google it if you aren't a child of the 90s.)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Just DON'T do it!

Sorry I haven't posted in a week. I've been busy checking the polls every 36 minutes. Come on, Tuesday!

Two things I have learned from obsessively hitting the refresh button this month:
  1. Republicans should never, ever talk about rape.
  2. Republicans cannot stop talking about rape.
And it might cost them control of the Senate.

First there was Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, telling us that, "If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”

Led Claire McCaskill by 11 points in August.

Ahead by 8 points today.

Then Indiana Senate hopful Richard Mourdock let us know that the Lord wants women to carry their rapists' babies, "I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen." He hastened to add that God wasn't causing the rape, just the pregnancy. Seems like Mourdock will have to content himself with being a theological savant, not a U.S. Senator.

Leading by 5 points in early October.
Now Donnelly is ahead by 3 points.
And I have high hopes that North Dakota senate candidate Rick Berg will be defeated, even in this deep red state. As a state Representative, Berg voted for a bill that would make abortion a felony punishable by life imprisonment. There was no exception in the law for cases where a woman became pregnant by rape or incest, or even if her life was jeopardized by the pregnancy. His opponent Heidi Heitkamp is hardly pro-choice, but at least she's not voting to send women to jail for exercising their legal right to abortion care.
Led by 9 points in July.
Running even today.
I am reminded of one of my lawschool professors who advised us to spill a glass of water if a judge asked a question we couldn't answer. Perhaps the leaky water bottle will become the hot new conservative accessory? Eighty-three percent of Americans favor legal abortions for women who have become pregnant as a result of rape. The Republican platform approved at their August convention opposes abortion without exception. Get ready to mop up a lot of spills.

Today's $15 (I haven't posted in a few days) goes to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, RAINN, which works to combat sexual violence. I've already indulged in my profanity-laced tirade against people who use women's bodies to score political points today - but you go right ahead. And then get ready to vote!