Big Wheels and Big Bangs

ferris wheelI’m sorry I have been an inconsistent blogger this summer. I hate that; I truly do. I have given considerable thought to closing up shop entirely since I am so very busy these days, but I’m not ready to do that. Though I am too busy to blog, I am constantly thinking of suitable topics for blog posts. Part of it is that what I do is so different than what most bloggers do. It’s not enough for me to comment on a news story; I have to dredge up every inch of personal experience and years of observations and try to weave them all together in an essay format that actually makes a point about the bigger picture.

It’s August and in the heat it isn’t always easy. What I do also takes a lot of that observation and contemplation. I need to be able to see events unfold over time, and I need time to work out my own preconceived notions (we should all do this; very few do) before deciding what the big picture angle is going to be. I’m out of time and energy lately, and while I have been observing and weaving those threads in my head, I haven’t had a lot of time to articulate them in text and post them here. The good news for you, dear readers, is that Ms. Peacock has enrolled herself in a creative writing class this fall, so you might actually get treated to some of my creative writing this fall.

Patriarchy, Privilege, and Ted Kennedy
Speaking of the oppressing class, and in the words of my texting teenager–WTF is up with the Kennedy worship from some corners? It’s not just Chappaquiddick and Kopechne that prevents me from supporting the “Ted Kennedy legacy”, though that alone is, goodness knows, reason enough. I cannot believe some of the feminist blogs and blogs with feminist leanings who are fawning all over this perfect waste of a carbon-based life form. He is the very symbol of patriarchal privilege–his whole family is. But I’m always on the wrong side of this issue. I’m one of the few liberals I know who think John F. Kennedy was a disaster as a president, despite his pretty words. That’s because his deeds almost sunk us as a nation and some of them led to Vietnam, wherein an extraordinary amount of baby boomer males lost life and limb. Not any Kennedy baby boomers, mind you.

Chappaquiddick has already come up in a number of corners, mostly conservative, and you know the details so I won’t rehash it. But if you’re inclined to give Kennedy a pass, ask yourself a few questions: Continue reading

What Every Woman Should Know About Women Who Ran For President

When people keep telling you that you can’t do a thing, you kind of like to try it. ~Margaret Chase Smith

Last week we celebrated 89 years of electoral franchise for women. What that means is that women have been allowed to vote for only 89 years in our country’s 233 year history. It was the first right that women won for themselves, and many victories would follow. Life for women today is admittedly nothing like it used to be, and a certain amount of equality is enjoyed between the sexes. Of course there are still issues of equal rights for women to be resolved, thus the very existence of The New Agenda. Two of those issues include the holding of highest and second-highest offices in the land, which so far have only been held by men. To date, only 34 women have actually headed up the national ticket for President for their parties, and 87 have run for vice president on the ticket.

1848 Lucretia Mott
The first women to run for a national executive office in the Unites States of America was Lucretia Mott. Readers may recall her from the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention of 1848, which she staged with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, officially kicking off American women’s long struggle for equal rights. That same year Mott ran for the vice presidential ticket in the Liberty Party, which was a break-away abolitionist party that was short-lived during the 1840s. She garnered 4 of the 84 votes at the party’s national convention that year.

1872 Virginia Woodhull
The first woman to run for president did not wait for a man to ask her if she wanted to, or for a Party of men to elect her. Victoria Woodhull, in typical fashion, took permission for herself, formally declaring her candidacy in 1871. In 1972, the Equal Rights Party elected her as their candidate. There were some issues with her campaign, however, including a Vice Presidential candidate (Frederick Douglass) who refused to recognize his nomination, and the fact that Ms. Woodhull was not yet 35 years of age as required by the constitution. The government declined to even recognize her, and she and her party were left off the ballot that year.

1884 & 1888 Belva Ann Lockwood
Belva Lockwood was a force to be reckoned with in her life. She constantly and consistently fought the forces of oppression and won some remarkable concessions from the system. She was one of America’s first female lawyers, and the first female lawyer to speak before the Supreme Court. Before that she sought to equalize pay in education, which even then was subject to inequality along gender lines. She ran on the National Equality Party’s platform for two consecutive elections, and though she lost, she was the first woman whose name appeared on the ballot for the office of president. Her running mate in the campaign was Marietta Stowe.

1940 Gracie Allen
Americans would wait another 52 years for the next woman to run for president, and by then it would be a joke—literally. Gracie Allen, notable comedienne, and her husband George Burns, toured the country to raise awareness for the joke campaign, organized under the “Surprise Party.” Allen and George made jokes about politics, unfortunately often at women’s expense, on their “Whistlestop Tour.” Though this campaign can technically be considered a publicity tour for a comic act, Gracie Allen actually registered and ran and she garnered 42,000 votes, proving that people approved, no matter how funny and ridiculous she and Burns thought it was.

Continue reading

The Story of Nana

Editor’s Note: My daughter brought home an assignment from English class today to write a fairy tale. After a brief discussion of what fairy tales are and the components necessary to a story, Lily came up with this gem, which is surely a feminist “fairy tale.” For now, anyway… I’m sure you can see my parentage writ large across her ethos. Yes, I am incredibly proud. 😀  Without further ado…the Story of Nana.

Patriaticus was the King of Patriapolis. Behind his back, the people called him King Speedy Announcement because when he gave his monthly address to his humble servants, he would rush through it so fast the people barely caught a word. This meant that the announcement of harvest time, for example, was so hastily announced that no one knew when to bring crops in. So in consequence, the Snapps brought their harvest far too early, while the Fows brought there’s in much too late. This was beginning to be a problem and the kingdom was losing its luscious green appearance.

Nana was a young girl born to Mr. and Ms. Fow and proudly raised in a house resembling democracy as much as a house could in Patriapolis; her mother went to work disguised as a man and her father stayed home tending to the children and making the food. Now, this wasn’t really a role switch seeing as mother came in and helped with the work as well. It was a partnership, instead of a ruling. Nana was raised to believe that people were all equal. She went to school and shared her views with the other girls. She would have loved to share it with the boys, but they were too interested in saying things like, “A woman deserves the kitchen and that is it.”

This angered Nana. She just couldn’t understand why people couldn’t be equal. “Why can’t we stand together as equals?” she asked her teacher one day.

The woman looked at her with a sad smile. “Because, my dear, this is Patriapolis. Be glad that we can even go to school, and that I can even be a teacher.”

Nana frowned she didn’t like to be told to be happy for what they had when it just wasn’t the same as what the boys got. “But we don’t even have a soccer team while the boys have soccer, football, and baseball!”

Nana’s teacher sighed and patted her head, “I am sorry, Nana, just be happy for what you have.” Nana’s frown darkened; it wasn’t fair. A few years passed and Nana’s anger grew. Continue reading

89 Years

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009 marks the 89th Anniversary of ratification of the 19th Amendment. August 26th is considered the official anniversary because that is when the Secretary of State, Bainbridge Colby, signed the Amendment, thus officially completing the act of ratification.

There are still people alive today who remember what it was like to live in the United States before women could vote. We must never forget. Who will you tell?

What Every Woman Should Know About the 19th Amendment

Alternate Universe: Where We’d Be if Suffragettes Had Been Modern Feminists

Protesting is an American Activity & Other Obvious Truths

Dear reader,

I use the singular, as after more than a month away, I’m sure the one is all I have left. Thank you for sticking it out whoever you are. Consider this a drunk blog. It’s really more of a light buzz blog, as I’m about to pop my fourth beer in about six hours. I prolly won’t even finish it, or this post, but hey, I’ll give both a shot. Expect typos.

So it turns out that when you get too busy to blog and you’ve been engaged in activity you get paid for while watching miles and miles of fantastic writing ideas pass like so much beautiful scenery on a very long, necessary trip, you can get stuck for how to start. Who knew? Certainly not me. I blogged for a solid year and was really on a roll, and I’ve been writing for years, so I never expected to be overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of so much news cycle during so much lost time. I might as well just break the ice while my inhibitions are low, eh? Heh.

I really wanted to write about Skip Gates, for example, but that story is deader than Michael Jackson, another sick story I missed. I still have a few questions about that circus (the Gates circus; I couldn’t give a shit less about Jackson’s circus), but whatever. I don’t really care. A working class cop got verbally harassed by another rich person with shitty taste in beer. Yawn.

I also wanted to write about the health care debate, and I probably will now that the ice is broken. For the record, I’d like to state the obvious. I’d actually like to quote the left for the last eight years: “Dissent is a founding principle.” I am sick to death of watching people who spent the last eight years bitching about a certain kind of Bush supporter be that same kind of Obama supporter without even a hint of irony smacking them in the head like it oughta. The similarities between O-Bots and what they used to call “Bushies” is startling. But that’s not about the health care debate.

About that. Guess what? In America, we all have the right to organize and dissent. You can play that bullshit game that it’s un-American, as Pelosi recently did, or you can acknowledge that the ability to do so is protected in the Constitution. Thank fucking goodness. You can compare the dissenters to Hitler, as other politicians and the Blogger Boys have done, now that they’ve had their talking points disseminated by the Obama administration in one of the myriad teleconferences they have with them each week (still unpaid HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Suckahs!). What it all boils down to though, in two words: penis envy.

Yes, the left is seething mad that they can’t put the call out and have that kind of response. They couldn’t get the emotional intensity of these so-called Republican protesters (I don’t believe they are all Republicans) out of their people if they wanted too. Progressive Dude Nation answers one call and one call only: the call of the cool. You make health care sexy and maybe they’ll think about getting involved. Put it on a t-shirt Jayzee can wear and have him attend a town hall in it, and maybe privileged white dudes and their vagbots will attend too. As it is, Democrats have to practically hire union thugs to manufacture dissent to meet the push back they are getting on the road. Hilarious. As if unions needed more bad publicity. But hey, if you’re going to volunteer to get thrown under the bus, you deserve what you get.

I see the media is still into virtually stoning Clinton and Palin. The game just never gets old with them. All I wanna know is why the there wasn’t the uproar about the three male Republicans who recently resigned like there was for Palin when she resigned. That crap ought to have been called out right away, but of course it wasn’t, even by sensible feminist bloggers. As the summer finally heats up in the valley and my impatience increases along with the humidity level, I have to wonder out loud if women aren’t their own worst enemy. Progress is so fucking simple; but hey, why bother? Reading the internet all day and bitching about each other is so much more productive! Whatever.

Finally, from the What We’re Up Against Department: 70% of Americans think a woman should take a man’s last name upon marriage; 50% think it ought to be law. Reasons cited include:

“They told us that women should lose their own identity when they marry and become a part of the man and his family. This was a reason given by many.”

Other respondents said they felt the marital name change was essential for religious reasons or as a practical matter.

“They said the mailman would get confused and that society wouldn’t function as well if women did not change their name,” Hamilton says.

I guess that’s enough to break the ice. Lame, I know, but at least now you know I’m not dead yet.

I’m Just Sayin’

Irony, oh irony, on me it is never lost: (Warning: WKJM&LHFD* link)

Remember “get in their faces?”

Apparently, Democrats can’t take the heat. They can scream all day long about how citizens should get in the faces of those who oppose them, but when it happens to them it’s a whole n’other story. Typical. Where I come from, we call that hypocrisy. All I can say to the Progressive Dude Nation (aka the Democratic Party) is: Take it like a man, suckahs.

*Whoever Kidnapped Josh Marshall and Left Him for Dead

What Every Woman Should Know about a Woman’s Traditional Path to Power

What Every Woman Should Know is a bi-weekly column on Women’s History.

Corazon Aquino (CBS)

Corazon Aquino (CBS)

Corazon Aquino, who in 1986 became the Philippines first female head of state during waves of protest after the assassination of her husband, died Saturday. She was 76 years old. Aquino was a beloved icon to many around the world, including many feminists who saw her as a bellwether symbol of what was to come for women. However, despite her record and her global popularity, she continues to be one of a handful of anomalies with regard to female heads of state, and her time in government did not herald a great surge in the election of women to political office.  Less than 3% of nations had a female head of state in the 1980s, a number which is only up to 8% today. Nevertheless, her history offers an opportunity to explore a woman’s traditional path to power, which for many women meant following in their husband’s or father’s footsteps.

Corazon Aquino was married to popular Filipino politician Benigno Aquino, Jr., and it was her marriage to him that catapulted her to national attention when he was assassinated. Even as late as the 1980s, most of the women in politics had gotten there because of family connections, particularly that of marriage. There were very few other opportunities for women to get involved. Like many of the women before her, Aquino said she never had political ambitions, but found opportunity thrust upon her by the most unfortunate of circumstances.

What happened in the case of Aquino is a common thread running throughout women’s history. Upon her husband’s death, Corazon Aquino was convinced to run against Ferdinand Marcos in her husband’s stead. She was swept into power by a “people’s revolution” that eventually lead to a democratic Philippines and set off a wave pro-democratic sentiment in the 1980s.  Aquino came into office via what scholars refer to as “widow succession.” Widow succession happens when a woman is appointed or elected to her husband’s office upon his death. Though Mr. Aquino did not die in the office of president, he did die pursuing that office. Ms. Aquino declined to run for a second term in office and served six years, surviving no less than six assassination attempts during that time. She stepped down in 1992.

Widow succession has been and continues to be a global phenomenon. Of course, family relations in politics are nothing new, and many of the men who run for office follow in the footsteps of one or more of their male relatives. Al Gore, for example, became senator after his father served nearly 20 years in the seat. Chris Dodd and Evan Bayh, among many others, were also preceded in politics by their fathers. That women would also use family relations to get ahead in politics is unsurprising given this norm. Many of the women who have served have followed in the footsteps of men in their family, and many of them stepped in during the crisis that followed their relative’s death. Did you know, for example, that of the 37 women to have served in the Senate, seven (18%) were appointed to fill the seats of their deceased husbands? Or that 36 (15%) of the 229  women to have served in the House have been appointed via widow succession? Continue reading