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Posted by pocochina on January 28, 2009

[Okay.  I started this post yesterday, before the vote, so if there are any tense mistakes or predictions, oops, sorry.]

So.  Stimulus package.  No Republicans voted for it, still passed.  Remember this, for the part where Obama and Waxman blatantly sell out women’s health for absolutely no payoff from the Republicans.

Yes, Virginia, reproductive health care is inherent to economic stimulus.  It’s important as a microcosm of the way way that health care reform will be good for the economy – with fewer fixed costs, people can spend more freely.  As lots of others have pointed out, it’s a demand-side industry, and this would improve income for health care workers.  The provision would have simply helped cash-strapped state governments to do what they are already doing, rather than forcing them to reallocate funds from other necessary projects.  Removing the provision is bad policy.  Most importantly, though, allowing women to prevent and terminate pregnancies is critical to women’s economic situation.  It’s what lets us go to school, keep our jobs, and not end up dead in an alley.  I’m disgusted by the presumption that because women need something, it’s got nothing to do with economics.  Women earn money, children cost money, and low-income women are particularly vulnerable  to the fallout from an unwanted pregnancy.  It’s about dignity and human rights, but those things aren’t separate from economics.  This is about the ability the majority of people living in poverty to participate in the economy.

It’s also critically important to see that this isn’t just something that came out of the blue and steamrollered Obama.  He called Waxman and said “pull the funding.”  There’s a lot going on there.  First of all, it’s not exactly accurate to frame that as Republicans doing something wrong.  Yes, the Republicans manipulated and whined, but Obama is a grown goddamn man who made the decision to respond in the way he did.  And really?  Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, anti-woman bigots gotta piss and moan, and there was no way to fail to see Boehner’s pearl-clutching from a mile off.  The bill wasn’t just the place to put the funding because it’s important economically, it was the best way to ensure its passage without allowing an enormous misogyny-fest on a separate funding bill.  What, were that many Republicans really going to vote against an economic stimulus bill during a recess bagel over goddamn condoms?  And if they did,  they’d have to pay the piper in two years, making it that much easier to chip away a few more seats.  That matters not just in terms of raw numbers in Congress, but for women’s health specifically – raising the penalty for being a curmudeonly woman-hater might eventually lead to fewer curmudgeonly woman-haters in positions of power.  Which, for a super-feminist, should be a goal which is actively pursued, not whipped out when it’s convenient.

Remember, there’s a Democratic majority.  By a lot.  That win in November wasn’t just Obama’s big win, it was a huge increase in not one but two legislative Democratic majorities.  The stimulus passed even without all the Republicans and eleven Democrats.  Losing more than that would mean that the problem isn’t actually the contraceptive provisions, they’re just an expendable addition.

No.  The only rational explanation for the behavior here is two-fold that women’s health, livelihoods, and lives are something extra, and less important than having the chance of a show of bipartisanship.  There are 255 Democrats sitting in the House, and 178 Republicans.  That means Obama could have lost sixty Democrats, all the Republicans, and still gotten the stimulus bill through handily.  Just in case I have suddenly contracted acute subtlety:  the choice was not “ditch the family planning bill or lose the stimulus.”  It was  “have the chance for the appearance of bipartisanship, or have family planning for poor women,” and this White House made its choice.

Oooooh, but it’s not that simple, I hear you saying.   No, no it’s certainly not.  It’ s a multi-billion dollar stimulus package, with tons of different provisions.  But I certainly don’t recall any other provisions of the bill receiving this kind of negative attention from Republicans or the media, and I certainly don’t recall the White House publicly bending over backwards to accomodate the Republicans on any other provision of the bill.  Remember that plucky “I won” spirit for all the other important stuff?  Funny, how it vanished  as soon as it was time to lighten the health care burden on poor women.

This is a terrible framework for any real progress on reproductive justice.  Even if there was a real concern that the RH provisions could sink the stimulus bill – which would’ve turned out to be ill-founded  – the immediate and public concession on women’s health continued to show the country and the world that women’s health is always assumed to be negotiable and contentious.  No, it’s not the same as Chris Matthews’ ridiculous statement that somehow allowing people reproductive choice is the same thing as taking reproductive choice away from people, but it does allow that bullshit to pass and continue without comment.  This crap needs to be challenged.  Caving in on it under the slightest pressure isn’t challenging it, it’s legitimizing it.


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headdesking into eternity

Posted by pocochina on April 16, 2008



Posted in all-high badass dick-swingin' motherfuckers, classism, feminism, idiots, politics | Leave a Comment »

Very Serious Observation

Posted by pocochina on April 16, 2008

God, guns, and xenophobia really are the deciding factors for those poor rubes in small towns, and that’s why Pennsylvania (with nearly half of its twelve million voters in the Philadelphia metro area alone) is trending Clinton.

This explains the devastating losses Senator Obama suffered in low-density population states like Alaska, Wyoming, and North Dakota, and also highlights his clear lead in the three most densely populated (and also among the most wealthy and highly educated) states in the country, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

Oh.  Wait.

Way to insult your own voters.

Or to just have made a really fucking stupid generalization which could be easily refuted.  How did nobody call him on that? How?  Look, I don’t think hate and a desire for a heavily-armed theocracy are driving small-town Democrats.  If those are someone’s priorities, that person is not voting for a Democrat, ever.  But if I were a candidate for national office with any sense of irony and self-awareness making a legitimacy argument based at least in part on rural states, I sure as fuck wouldn’t insinuate the things that he did about the voters in those very states.

And wasn’t it just a fucking nice touch that one of those small towns full of haters is the one where teeny Hillary Rodham spent part of her childhood?  Nice.  Really, really classy.

(I hope, though doubt, that this will be my last word on classism-is-the-new-pink-gate.)

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Posted by pocochina on January 27, 2008

I’m not really a celebrity-watcher (I hadn’t ever read Perez until the tragic news about Heath Ledger earlier this week), but I am oddly a watcher of celebrity coverage.  By which I mean, I don’t know or care Lindsey Lohan is up to, but when I see her on CNN, I read and wonder why we feel so free to speculate on whether she suffers from bulemia or a cocaine addiction; I search for meaning as to why a starlet’s pain is such big news.  I realize that it’s because women who are young and beautiful – and doing exactly what a patriarchal society insists they should – must still suffer, or they will get all uppity thinking they are people and stuff.  And because our faux-“free market” worshiping society relies on unnecessary competition as well as healthy competition, else we will stop all hating each other, and women are required to compete on the Hetero-Fuckability Scale, or else we will, I dunno, remember we are good at other stuff.  But I want to think it’s more complicated than that.

Which brings me, of all fucking things, to Britney’s period stain.

I am so, so disgusted.  Not by the fact that OMG, an adult woman menstruates, but by the cultural narrative which says that women who menstruate are disgusting, that periods are something of which we should be ashamed – and by the way in which this particular shame crossed ways with this particular starlet.  Americans are crassly fixated on Britney’s sexuality.  We have been since her debut.  She was the queen of the virgin/whore dichotomy, and now she’s suffering in that very same construct.  Now that she has had kids – now that that our perceptions of her sexuality have changed (not a Virginial Girl, nor a Modest Mother), we must continue to recreate the Used-Up Bad Girl.  And what could possibly be a better tool to put her in her place than her period?  We like to think of it as the ugly, dirty side of our sexual maturity; the idea that despite the way our bodies are so terribly commercialized, they are still bodies, and they do the things human bodies do.  They make babies, and they bleed, and sometimes they betray our fraying emotions and our frantic minds.

And then the fucking moralizing, when Margaret Cho dared to stand up for her!  Margaret’s point, if I may speak for the Great One herself, was that it is seriously fucked up to humiliate someone for something so normal as a period stain.  “You should use hydrogen peroxide!”  “You should get new sheets!”  “You should buy a DivaCup!”*  Way to prove her point, jackasses.  Period stains happen all the time.  We are only ashamed of them because we are taught to do so in a world which a) hates women and b) makes enormous amounts of money off of our shame.  Period stains are embarrassing because they mean we are women who have failed to hide our physical femininity, and therefore failed at our societal performance of femininity.

Britney was, in her heyday, the height of emphasized femininity – shockingly young, taut and curvy, with her blonde hair, and bright eyes meaning as much as her conservative Christianity and professed virginity. Whatever she thought, all that she suffered, she hid it from us with a megawatt smile.  She straddled the virgin/whore dichotomy, and then she dared to become human – she admitted her sexuality, she fell in love and made bad choices and had beautiful children and then crashed, forcing the toll of her life on our cannibalistic celebrity press corps.  She reminded us that the product of Britney was not a person.  It’s one more tiny crack in the wall between what a capitalist patriarchy demands women be, and what we actually are.  She’s crashing and burning, in front of all our eyes, because she has nowhere else to be.

*I want Margaret to have a Diva Cup now too, and not just because it was probably named after her badass diva self, but ’cause it could make that part of her life less annoying.  Definitely not because then Margaret, like me, could then be So! Morally! Superior! to poor period stained Britney.

Posted in body image, classism, feminism, sexuality | Leave a Comment »

spouses on the trail

Posted by pocochina on November 28, 2007

This article about Michelle Obama made me gasp with sadness.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in classism, clinton, feminism, obama, politics, race | Leave a Comment »

shove it, giuliani

Posted by pocochina on October 15, 2007

Okay.  Mostly, I despise Mayor Giuliani because he fucked over the firefighters on 9/11.  Oh, and how he takes credit for lowering the crime rate in NYC while rejecting the very policies that helped him lower that crime rate.  (As in, functionally literate people know that handguns kill people, so you should crack down on illegal handguns if people are getting killed.  As in he was a pro-choice New Yorker but now he’s all but (if not actually) promised to establish anti-choice judges and Justices.  As Jon Stewart (*fans self*) so perceptively observed about Senator Spector – “I have principles, but it’s not like I’m going to stand by them or anything.”  Because he craves the authoritarian privilege that comes, however rightly or wrongly, in a tragic crisis.


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Posted in classism, idiots, pregnancy, race, republicans | Leave a Comment »

list of things i would tell anyone contemplating law school

Posted by pocochina on September 30, 2007

1.  Law school is an extremely class conscious place, for a lot of reasons.  Partially it’s because of the general skewing of higher education towards the wealthier segments of the country, but also for some other reasons.  I wonder how many people are here cause “my dad’s a lawyer” – and a successful corporate one with money.  I also wonder how many are here because they weren’t sure what else to do, but weren’t done with school.  Now, all those things are fine.  I think it’s great, and I’m NOT slamming anyone who has those opportunities.   However, a school skewed towards those with money, and even more heavily towards people who will be making lots of money in a couple of years, well, you’ve got a situation.  And your professors went to law school thirty years ago, when it was even more so.  Are they going to grade you down because you’re poor?  No, they’re okay with poverty, or else they’d still be in the private sector.  But a lot of groundbreaking cases involve rich people and their rich, rich problems, and your professors might forget that not everyone knows, say, how a trust fund works.  So know that.

2.  Then there’s the groupthink.  No, the dean at that school wasn’t lying to you about the groupthink, and no, you’re not above it either, so stop looking at me like that.  These people will be your entire world, or the vast majority of it, for the next three years, and a significant portion of them will be your colleagues for the rest of your life.  So it’s not a bad idea to want to be friends, to go along to get along when it doesn’t bother you.  That said, know that’s what’s going on.  Your new BFFs are just as nervous as you are, and it’s part of the reason you’re bonding so quickly.  It will be weirdly hard to just not want to do something.  That’s okay.

3.  Now take the groupthink, and drop the class-consciousness into the test tube, and back away slowly.  Now watch it bubble, and sizzle, and maybe if you’d been able to do this six years ago, you’d be thinking about med school right now, wouldn’t you?  Well, too bad.  Yes.   There are lots of people there on partial or whole loans,but a large number of your circle of friends won’t be worried about it.  There’s going to be school-sanctioned social activities, and they will sound fun, and they *will* cost more than a week’s worth of groceries.  Do it, if it sounds fun.  But that’s a place where it’s probably good not to do something just because all the other kids are doing it.  And this, though your 1L Ethics Seminar would probably tell you otherwise, is a place where it’s okay to lie, if that helps you get by.

4.  Nobody was lying to you about the time law students spend studying.  In fact, they’re probably thinking of finals and underestimating.  Sorry.  Don’t be pressured to go into the library, though – if you hate the library (and it’s especially scary when it’s full of 3Ls) go scope out a cafe or something.

5.  There’s ups and downs to living on campus.  I live on campus, and I love it.  It’s made it much easier to make friends, and since it’s much more convenient to be around people, the pressure is oddly a little bit decreased.  It’s also more convenient for classes, and if you do choose to study in the library, it’s going to be safer if you study late at nght.  That said, though, it is ground zero for all the crazy come exam time.  That Guy in your class that you hate?  He’s going to be on your floor.  (And no, That Guy didn’t get a job after graduation.  He’s in law school.  So know that, too.)

6.  Theres going to be a couple of people in your class that you wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire.  (See #5, cf That Guy.)  However, don’t let them poison your judgment of your classmates in general.  Most of them will be hard working and honorable and witty and energetic, just like you.

Posted in classism, law school | Leave a Comment »

classism in education

Posted by pocochina on September 23, 2007

Seriously?  I’ve been thinking about this for months.  And I’ll probably be thinking about it until I get my JD, and then when I decide if I’m going to do graduate work beyond that, and then until I pay off my loans.  Otherwise known as when I die.

Our perspective on education is so fucked up.  So, so fucked up.  I want to punch the next asshole who says anything even along the lines of “pulling oneself up by one’s own bootstraps.”  Seriously, don’t say it near me.  Because you will be hurt in a very painful way.

Posted in classism, law school | Leave a Comment »