The Democratic Party’s New Campaign

The Democratic Party has a new campaign out trying to positively spin their support. It’s found on their Facebook page and features everyday Americans holding signs for why they are Democrats. Me and my family wanted to get in on that action, so we made our own signs. Check us out:

My list is actually much longer, but I thought these were the most important points.

Here’s my daughter, who we call Lily here at P&L. I like her sign very much.

I am the mother of a political genius. 🙂

Here’s Mr. Peacock (excuse the gruff; it’s his day off), who also had some words of wisdom.

ITA. Orthodoxy is poison.

So that’s our project for the day. I hope others follow suit. We’ve posted ours to our Facebook pages. Who’s with us? Should I upload my Word file so y’all can use it?

Women’s History Month: How Women Have Fought

This article has been cross-posted from The New Agenda.

Women’s History Month 2012  is winding to a close, and no doubt this was an odd one. As the month opened, the nation was involved in a lengthy conversation about the sexist treatment of women in the media vis-à-vis our discussion to Rush Limbaugh, Sandra Fluke (among others), Bill Maher, and his many victims. Considering we just happened to be on topic as March started, I’d hoped that we might see a higher profile for WHM. We didn’t. Just about every article I read about International Women’s Day, for example, took the uncreative approach of informing me of the history of International Women’s Day, information to which I am treated each and every International Women’s Day. Next year, I’d like to see an article about what women can do, or what they want for IWD. It seems as if women’s history, like women themselves, are in a rut.

In the wake of that fizzling conversation about how we treat women and how that might reflect on our culture and nation, I wanted to offer a few examples of how women have fought in the past. Modern feminist discourse is heavily focused on telling our culture what’s wrong and what needs to be done, while lost is something we used to intuitively understand: showing the effects of our status through action. This is what’s missing in these debates that keep popping up about how far women have come and how far we all have to go: models for protests and organization. I’ve selected three stories that demonstrate the qualities currently missing in our push for progress: stamina, fearlessness, and a willingness to put the body on the line. First we’ll look at the Silent Sentinels, followed by Rosa Parks, and finally we’ll take a look at the Swim Suit Protests of Chicago (1922).

Silent Sentinels

Sentinels at The White House, 1917

After much activism and dialogue with many national leaders which led to no progress whatsoever, The Congressional Union for Women’s Suffrage, in conjunction with Alice Paul’s efforts, started a campaign to picket the White House until they persuaded President Wilson (or some subsequent president) to support women’s suffrage. They called their campaign activists The Silent Sentinels (PDF). The year was 1917, and the White House had never before been picketed. That our suffragists set the mold for this kind of protest, one which would be used time and time again since, is an important fact of history, and one aspect of the legacy of our hard-working foremothers. But it is not why I share this story today.

I share this story today because these are the salient facts: The silent sentinel protests demonstrated stamina. This was not a one day dog and pony show, nor did it last merely a week. No, these women, 6, 12, 24 at a time, stood sentinel every single day except Sunday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., for two years. Can you imagine the organization this called for? Protesting for suffrage come rain, shine, snow, or hail? In Victorian dress, no less, on those hot 95 degree July days in Washington D.C.? Wielding giant homemade flags of heavy cloth? It all started innocently enough, with the men of Washington DC gently rebuking or making fun of the sentinels. It ended two years later with physical abuse, invectives hurled, imprisonment for some, and a shiny new 19th Amendment for us all.

Can you think of a single woman alive today who would be willing, let alone have the time for that kind of commitment? I can’t. Women didn’t work then in the numbers they do now, and that may explain part of why we don’t pursue these techniques. Another reason might be that, without a unifying political goal in mind–such as universal suffrage–women’s attentions are split between competing visions of what progress for us means. Still, we can learn something about stamina from these women, because stamina is what we’ll need to truly change the trajectory of women today and the women to come.

Rosa Parks

Parks on the bus, post-integration.

Rosa Parks is a Civil Rights icon, and her legacy is enduring. There are few Americans alive today who are not aware of her story, and the memory of her actions continues to inspire the fight for Civil Rights to this day. Her fight has a lesson for women today, too: how to be fearless. Rosa Parks was fearless. She could have faced physical batter or worse. She found it worth it to take the risk anyway.

I want you try a thought experiment. Close your eyes and put yourself in her place on that bus. Recognize what she faced. Feel the hammering of her heart as she chose to defy law and convention, and take a stand for basic human rights. Do you think she was afraid? Do you think no one said anything? Do you think they just let her do it? Continue reading

Women & The Year of Quitting

“The young women of today, free to study, to speak, to write, to choose their occupation, should remember that every inch of this freedom was bought for them at a great price… The debt that each generation owes to the past it must pay to the future.”

-Abigail Scott Duniway, suffrage organizer in the Pacific Northwest

The ladies take a seat this year.

The latest year of the woman quickly morphed into the year of quitting, didn’t it? I blame the neosexism I’ve written about before, that resurgence of masculine vengeance that rears its ugly head any time women try and succeed in making inroads into what are traditionally considered “boys’ clubs.” Politics certainly falls in that category, what with approximately 85% of the field being staked out by penised-Americans.

Journalism is no better and these two things are related. The media is the boxing ring in which many of these fights get aired. We certainly saw that with Hillary Clinton, and as with several other women, she is herself saying she’ll exit stage left at the end of this term. Though there has been a broad awakening of the feminine mind to the realities of sexist discourse and actions in our political arena, the effects of three solid years of unchained sexism and misogyny have had their effect: Women are quitting, or not even trying,  in droves, which threatens the hard-won ground we women have already staked out for ourselves.

So who are these women and why did they quit? Is my thesis correct that it is the influence of sexism from powerful masculine constituencies that have driven them out? Or are we to take the gentler road to judgment and discuss the “personal choices” of these women? Let’s take a look at each case study to see if we can answer these and other questions.

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin is a trendsetter, there’s no doubt about that. So there’s little surprise that she was the first to give up in what I’m cheekily referring to as the year of the quitting. After priming the electoral pump for more than 2 years, she made it official in early October that she would not be running for president. Palin has been under sexist siege for as long as she’s been on the national stage, but she’s made quite a bit of money off it too. She has been able to insulate herself to a degree with this wealth, and really had nothing left to lose so far as the media was concerned.

So, having amassed a small fortune, built a powerful constituency, and learned the hazards of the media, she decided not to even get near the boxing ring? Why? And what message does this send to women not yet in sight of the ring? Is she hoping for a win down the road? Perhaps. But I can’t even begin to express the disappointment of women (and quite a few men) across the country who looked to her as a role model for fighting back against unfairness, for not letting the fools succeed in shutting her up, only to find, yes, they did succeed in shutting her up. And in the eyes of some, she let them. That’s a terrible blow to her image and to the more moderate branches of her fanbase. She’ll have to put real clout up next time if she is to succeed.

Michele Bachmann

Michelle Bachmann quit pretty early on in her presidential campaign, just after Iowa. Why? Could it be that she was hit with sexist attacks about her headaches, ridiculously calling into her question her ability to lead (as if no presidents ever had health problems–hell, Garfield was in a coma for two months and Wilson stroked out at the end of his presidency)? Or maybe it was the way she was rhetorically beat up for accurately reporting John Wayne’s Iowa connections, but which several men in the media deliberately misconstrued her meaning to apply to the serial killer John Wayne Gacy? Maybe it was the way the mostly male media hounded her for “gaffes” that were no worse than the “gaffes” of men in the race, which were not reported on as predominantly. Maybe it was the label “crazy eyes” and all the pictures those mostly male editors chose to post on every article of her that appeared. Or maybe it was just the way so many people, buying the media hype without thinking it through clearly, just accepted despite all evidence to the contrary that she was “stupid.”

This last may be the most offensive. Anytime a man wants to disempower a woman he has two immediate choices to make about the misogynistic arsenal strapped to his back: Do I call her crazy or stupid?

Gabrielle Giffords

I expect to take the most flack for including Gabrielle Giffords. The woman was shot in the head, after all, by a mentally deranged lunatic with no discernible political leanings. If anyone had a right to quit, it’s her, right? I mean, personal health in the wake of a tragedy like this is what “personal choice” is all about, yes? I’m willing to entertain that her decision was the best one for her and her family.

What I’m not willing to do is ignore the message this decision sends, because it sends a powerful one: that violence is all it takes to stop a woman in her tracks. Continue reading

Andrew Sullivan asked: Why don’t you have more female readers?

The video pretty much speaks for itself. All his androcentric, misogynist ways captured on camera. How nice of him to offer us an example of how men talk about “females” in the modern age during this, women’s history month. We sure have come a long way, baby.

SRSLY? Bristol Palin & The Left’s Hypocrisy

I am so tired of chronicling this shit. SO tired. But you know, if you’re going to spend a month or more trying to school your political opponents on how to treat them wimmins, maybe you ought to make sure you don’t go chomping on the same sexist bait you were just barking at Rush Limbaugh for. I’m referring to the left’s reaction to Bristol Palin’s cheeky post to President Obama on her new blog. In Palin’s post, she challenges Obama to a take a rather novel stand:

But…

What if you did something radical and wildly unpopular with your base and took a stand against the denigration of all women… even if they’re just single moms? Even if they’re Republicans?

But of course, Bristol Palin is a Republican daughter, so she’s not entitled to have an opinion heard, and worse, she’s had a baby out of wedlock, so unlike Fluke, according to the left, she is a slut and a whore and apparently thus fair game for the kinds of sexist rhetorical acts that these same folks were just so miffed off about last week. Don’t believe me? Here’s a couple (FDL) of samples (Wonkette). Let’s take a look at the articles themselves before getting to the comment sections, shall we?

(tbogg@FDL): Future grandmother-at-34 and mother of one or two kids depending upon whether you’re Andrew Sullivan, Bristol Palin has a blog now! And instead of posting funny LOLmoose pictures and 101 Uses For Ranch Dressing recipes (baby formula? why not!) she is putting up “writey things”…

Anyway, the President should call Bristol, but not during the day because she will be at her job as the assistant skin exfoliater [sic] trainee at Merle Norman and her boss won’t let her take personal phones calls while she’s working because she’s a total bitch.

(Kaia Mursi@Wonkette): Bristol Palin said a very important thing on the Internet, that you should know about.

Basically, she heard this Obama guy is handing out apologies to ladies of ill-repute who get blasted by media fart hoses like Rush Limbaugh…

In summary, Bristol will be using a “mommy blog” to shoe-horn her way back in to the national spotlight, via increasingly discohesive and deranged open letters.

I’m counting at least six sexist tropes in just four paragraphs between these two.  And that’s tame compared to the comments. Let’s take a look at those, too, for, ya know, historical reasons, it being women’s history month and all. I mean, we have to think of posterity. Here’s a sampling of what you’ll find over there:

(FDL):

Commenter rickhill: But…since she had sex without being married, nor obviously any intention of doing so, isn’t she more of what you might call a slut?

Commenter nylund: Of course Obama didn’t call! After all that plastic surgery she probably looks nothing like the photo in his phone’s contact list.

(Wonkette): Continue reading

So, about that war on women… (Updated)

Obama has a good laugh at women's expense.

If you thought the contraception debate was about expanding or protecting women’s existing right to reproductive health care, think again. If you were waiting for the other shoe to fall, congratulations. You are not blinded by your own bias and can see clearly and painfully exactly how much the left, especially the new Democratic constituencies attracted under Obama, care about the signature women’s issue according to left-centered feminists. Which is to say they do not care at all. Women, you have served your purpose, and it is time for reassignment back under the bus. Contraception coverage, decided and issued just over a month ago, is already up for review:

Taking a conciliatory tone and asking for a wide range of public comment, the Obama administration announced this afternoon new accommodations on a controversial mandate requiring contraceptive coverage in health care plans.

Coming after a month of continued opposition from the U.S. bishops to the mandate, which was first revised in early February to exempt certain religious organizations, today’s announced changes from the Department of Health and Human Services make a number of concessions, including allowing religious organizations that self-insure to be made exempt.

Note that they are asking for public comment. It would be irresponsible for organizations such as NOW, Emily’s List, and NARAL to remain silent on this. I expect to see a big fundraising push to raise awareness about this issue. There’s a war on women, for goodness sakes! And women must fight the good fight! I’m waiting for it. I’m just sure it’s going to happen…

But wait. There’s more!

About that new student rule, which Sandra Fluke fought so hard for, and for which she suffered so much indignity, it may not be as permanent as she would like, or as immediate. The proposal suggests ways that universities can easily skirt the rules. It’s so nice of the Obama administration to publish the loopholes at taxpayer expense so that these universities don’t have to pay lawyers to figure it out themselves. Obots are right that Obama is like Jesus in one sense: The lord giveth and he taketh away.

News of the changes also came as a separate ruling on student health insurance coverage was announced by the Department of Health and Human Services this afternoon. Under that ruling, health care plans for students would be treated like those of employees of colleges and universities — meaning the colleges will have to provide contraceptive services to students without co-pay.

Religiously affiliated colleges and universities, however, would be shielded from this ruling, according to a statement from the HHS.

“In the same way that religious colleges and universities will not have to pay, arrange or refer for contraceptive coverage for their employees, they will not have to do so for their students who will get such coverage directly and separately from their insurer,” the statement said.

I’d be very curious to learn what Fluke’s opinion is of this specific issue, and the other reproductive health proposal (both linked in the article above) overall. If she or anyone else participating in the debate on the pro-contraception side can support this, it does raise some questions. Most notably: So, it’s okay (to segregate medical care by gender) if you’re a Democrat? I wonder if it will even be an issue tomorrow, if any self-labelled feminist of the progressive/liberal persuasion will comment on it at all. I’m guessing not if the last three years are any indication. I mean, who cares if Obama’s health care plan segregates women’s reproductive health care, or if it rolls back EEOC rulings that have stood for 12+ years? He’s the coolest m*therf*cking feminist president evah!

Update: The NYT spin on this is interesting if only because it exemplifies the cliche Who am I to believe, you or my own lying eyes?

The Obama administration took another step on Friday to enforce a federal mandate for health insurance coverage of contraceptives, announcing how the new requirement would apply to the many Roman Catholic hospitals, universities and social service agencies that insure themselves.

Except it doesn’t do that at all. It’s not pushing the Catholic constituency further into a corner; it’s accommodating them and their concerns, and giving them a way to opt-out by self-insuring. It also establishes another year-long exemption,  including a permanent exemption for religiously affiliated schools. The proof is in the pudding. According to the article itself, much further down, of course:

The administration on Friday also issued a final rule requiring coverage of contraceptives under student health plans offered by many colleges and universities. The requirement applies to health plans underwritten by private insurers like UnitedHealth and Blue Cross and Blue Shield. It does not apply to student health plans at colleges that serve as their own insurers.

“A self-funded student health plan cannot be included in this regulation without a change in law,” the administration said.

And from Fluke herself, who in her disappointment offers this tepid and disappointing criticism:

Ms. Fluke welcomed the new rule on Friday, but said she was disappointed that, under the Obama administration policy, “religiously affiliated schools and employers may delay a year before offering contraceptive coverage.” Ms. Fluke said colleges should not “delay what is now inevitable” and should provide contraceptive coverage as soon as possible.

So basically she trusts he’s just kicking the can so he can deliver after the election. It couldn’t possibly be a walk-back because his campaign tactic known as The War on Women(TM) didn’t work and he actually lost support, including among women, in the polls, now could it?

This One Cannot Stand, MR. Relative

*Blink*

Check out Mr. Saul Relative. He thinks nothing of telling you poor, pitiful, stupid women what to think. He doesn’t think you should listen to Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann, because of:

 …their subservience to the patriarchal theme, their lip-service to pushing against the “glass ceiling,” and their unwillingness to make a stand against those of their own political persuasion in the interest of perceived and actual equality for women.

Furthermore, he thinks:

Both Palin and Bachmann exhibited these less-than-flattering attributes this week in response to the flap initiated by conservative talk radio show host Rush Limbaugh on Feb. 29 when he attacked Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke for her testimony before a congressional hearing on women’s health care. Instead of backing Fluke’s right to state her opinion without being subjected to ad hominem attacks by chauvinistic male figures like Limbaugh (who has shown a propensity for making sexist remarks over the years), the two took the chance to point out the hypocrisy of the media in reporting on the incident.

Because, you know, fighting an ad hominen attack on women by ad hominen attacking two unrelated (pun!) women is just the height of intellectual consistency. Not. FTR, as a WOMAN (not a “female,” MR. Relative), I tend to disagree that women should be exempted from ad hominen attacks because they are women. Look at what we’re saying about men in politics all the time. Yes, I want sexist language to stop, especially when it is shown to have such an effect on women getting elected. No I don’t think we should wither every time we’re called “slut” or anything else. One of the unintended consequences of this whole conversation has been that women are getting special treatment for two things: a) their birth control needs (no one is getting free condoms from their insurance company, ftr) and b) because bad words hurt their delicate feelings. Fuck that shit. And grow a pair of ovaries Pelosi, Fluke, et al.

Second, there is a serious double standard when it comes to sexist language in politics, and Palin and Bachmann, as well as the slew of conservative WOMEN who’ve called this out in the last two weeks are ABSOLUTELY right.

I don’t want different standards for liberal and conservative women, and neither should anyone else. This is the left’s Achilles heel, and it’s why their war on women won’t be as effective at drawing the slobbering masses of hurt women that they hope to accomplish. Oh, I know they are running scared over a 12 point shift in women voters to the GOP in 2010, who RIGHTLY perceived that progress for women is won by getting both sides involved. WOMEN, let it be known, are not stupid. We’ve seen the kind of progress 30 years of lop-sided representation can do. It created a harder, more permanent glass ceiling and turned our needs into the products of our utereses. No thanks. I’d rather be rich, motherfucker.

Now, let’s see what else this bloviating sack of penised-flesh has to say about these women and how all women should perceive them, shall we? Continue reading