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PORN PORN PORN!: why i should never read alternet

Posted by pocochina on September 22, 2010

So through the endless series of links I have waded in these last couple of days,* I somehow came across this post by Clarisse Thorn:  “Why I Sympathize with Anti-Porn Feminists.” And, lord help me, I dove on into this particular front in the endless straw battle of nudie flicks.

The post isn’t particularly incisive.  The author doesn’t share any new insights into feminism, porn, or human sexuality.  But what struck me about it – what clued me in to the specifics of some of my (extremely muddled) feelings about the Porn Issue – is the extent to which it mirrors right-wing rhetoric.  The article utilizes narratives familiar to the authoritarian theocratic right in order to contextualize the development of her feelings toward pornography and argue against anti-porn feminists.  Though she’s making an argument associated with left-wing feminism, she’s utilizing the bad-faith thought processes of the radical right in order to do so.

And if you’ve got to argue like them…I’m not sure you have a good argument.

NOTE:  I am NOT saying you are a bad feminist or a bad person if you like porn or loathe it.  I don’t care if you are rubbing one out right now.  This is about people who mischaracterize the concerns of some feminists about porn in order to dismiss them out of hand, rather than engage in difficult and potentially painful questions about mainstream depictions of sexuality, particularly those which are prevalent in mainstream pornography, and the wide-ranging impact they have on sexuality and gender inequality.   This post isn’t even about my feelings about porn (which, for the curious, are mixed) or people who enjoy/don’t enjoy porn (because, IDGAF).  It’s about wanting to have an intellectually honest discussion of the issue.  I understand that there are lots of places where folks have to defend their enjoyment of porn, their discomfort with porn or both, but this isn’t one of them.

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Posted in feminism, sexuality | Leave a Comment »

Q: what’s two inches long and has NEVER RAPED ANYONE?

Posted by pocochina on August 3, 2010

A:  An IUD.

Apparently, doctors in Scotland are following some new sexual health guidelines, concerning the discussion long-term contraceptive options with young teenage patients who ask about the contraceptive pill, “as long as the doctor does not suspect exploitation or coercion.”  The Express, the paper which originally reported on this, stressed the sex panic angle, claiming that Scots are “up in arms” in terror about the prescription of a safe, legal medication by a doctor for a patient.  (I’m kind of the opinion that anyone who goes to the Catholic Church for a quote about sexual exploitation of minors shouldn’t be allowed to report on the grand opening of a supermarket, but whatever.)  RH Reality Check took a more pragmatic line, saying that if someone is too young for sex, she’s definitely too young to be a parent.  And Jezebel, in a rather spectacular example of trading point for sensationalism, argues that capacity to consent to sex is an individual thing and therefore concern is misplaced, and besides, the contraceptives won’t be given to anyone doctors suspect is being coerced or exploited.

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Posted in domestic violence, feminism, pregnancy, sexual assault, sexuality | Leave a Comment »

reframing “sexual maturity”

Posted by pocochina on March 3, 2010

I’d like to challenge prevailing ideas of “sexual maturity” from a pro-PWD (and particular, people with invisible mental illness) perspective.  This is clearly an idea found within mainstream feminism, but I don’t think it’s really all that distinguishable from mainstream thought in general, so, you know, apply as necessary.  Overall, it is problematic because it defines women’s brains on what we do with our bodies, even if it does so in the spirit of fighting shame and stigma; it leaves out adults with developmental disabilities; and it’s harmful to teens with mental illness.  I’ll be concentrating on that last one because it’s closest to my knowledge and experience, but I’d love to hear in comments from folks who have opinions on the first two as well.

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

Sigh.

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.

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

boys will be boys, while their employers will be oblivious

Posted by pocochina on December 11, 2008

It’s not exactly a galloping surprise to the, uh, conscious that the President-Elect and his staff have a bit of a woman problem.  In that, we exist, walking around like we was people and shit.  As of this writing, Favreau has offered a private apology to the Senator, and taken the picture down.  He has not resigned.  He has not publicly acknowledged his behavior. He has not been fired.

But this is beyond excusable.  As is the fact that Favreau still has a job after not just participating in this behavior, not just posing for a picture, but publishing said picture online.  (And isn’t it ironic?)  Look at this picture.  Really look at it.  Laughing boys, standing around a woman who can’t react.  On either side, with their  shoulders behind her, and their hands in front of her – there’s no escape.  Completely surrounded.  One hand in her hair, as if to pull her head back and force the beer bottle in.  One hand cupped to suggest groping.  One head turned toward her, the other in her ear, both of them breathing down her neck.  And laughing.  Does this disturb you?  Because it should.

Reines’ reaction to this – “evidence of increased bonhomie between the formerly rival camps” – is, to my mind, a mastery of the backhand, as a snide re-interpretation of damnation with faint praise.  Of course Clinton can’t come out with guns blazing – Mr. “periodically feeling down” has taken intellectually honest discussion of sexism off the table – but, well, this is pretty emblematic of the President-Elect’s campaign towards his female rivals, and that of his supporters towards hers.  You’re a joke, and a toy.  Trivialization of violence against women? Check.  Reduction of women to our reproductive organs? Check.  Playing sexism for a laugh? Check.  Hey, lighten up, at least nobody was threatening her life! I suppose that is progress.

And yes, this is about Obama.  Haven’t we been hearing for two years now about how he was a CIVIL!  RIGHTS!  ATTORNEY!?  I can only assume he wasn’t a very good one, or he’d have a handle on the concept of a hostile work environment.  The knowledge that one’s co-workers find this behavior funny could well  inhibit a person’s comfort in hir place of work, particularly since at least one those co-workers considered themselves free to engage in it while wearing the company logo.  And you know what, I’d wager that the knowledge that this is tacitly condoned by the most powerful boss in the world will be a pretty effective means of silencing future claims next time a government worker is faced with a hostile work environment.  Oh, it’s change your lyin’ eyes can believe in.  It’s also change I’d hoped I’d never see.

You know who this isn’t about?  Hillary Clinton.  I mean, it’s not just about her, though of course as the target of this scorn she has more than a right to react in whatever way she chooses.  This is about women in the American public square.  Favreau’s continued employoment is further indication that it’s open season on women in public.   Speak out of turn, and you’re a whiny bitch.  Let it go, and you deserve to be groped in effigy.  As I said at Red’s, what kills me is that I know these guys.  Okay, not Favreau and his comrade-in-groping, but young men with the world at their feet who like to hear their own words about justice and change and their own moral superiority, as long as the systemic oppression of others is always around for their easy amusement.  I see them every day.  I look around the lecture hall some days and think about who they’re going to be.  As much as a reminder of what they think of me is never fun, it really is something special from the voice of the President-Elect.

And yes, Campbell.  When you sanctimoniously tut-tut about how HRC isn’t reacting to your refined tastes to this simulated sexual assault, you are blaming the victim.  You are choosing to criticize someone who wasn’t even there over those who actually did this.  You are buying into the sexist expectation that women are the gatekeepers of morality, that everyone to whom something humiliating is done to them should take her lumps just to satisfy you.

Let me be quite clear.  The person responsible for this behavior is Favreau.  The person responsible for this picture’s presence on our news, our websites, burned into our brain is the person who put Favreau in front of all of us as someone deserving of a lofty position in the United States government.  President-Elect Obama has chosen, so far, to fail to even mention Favreau’s behavior, or the widespread pattern of this behavior in our country, or the severe impact this has on women.  I get that policy-wise, he’s better than a Republican, and I get that in the current political climate that’s  a valuable quality.  What I do not get is why that insultingly low bar is satisfactory for the former candidate of Hope (TM) and Change (patent pending).*  All President-Elect Obama needs to do is to behave in the way the EEOC – which, for those keeping track, he will be running in a few weeks – wishes American employers to behave.  So far he has chosen not to do so.

Once is happenstance.  Twice is coincidence.  Three times is Enemy Action.  Logic suggests that dozens, if not hundreds, of times is a deliberately chosen strategy of passive enjoyment of and outright capitalization on the hatred of women.  The bad thing about a strategy is that it’s a conscious choice, and people intend the probable consequences of their actions.  The good thing about a conscious choice is that a better one can be made.

I’ll wait.

*Some restrictions, one observes, apply.

Posted in feminism, idiots, law school, obama, politics, sexual assault, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

are you now, or have you ever been, a POST-PARTISAN MELLOW-HARSHER?!?

Posted by pocochina on November 17, 2008

There have been quite a few excellent posts about the incoming Obama Administration’s job application, which asks applicants not just if they are Russian Bond girls or own an arsenal, but some deeply intrusive questions about a person’s family’s possessions, and an individual’s internet presence.  I’m not going to re-invent the wheel, but I do have a few additional concerns I hadn’t noticed anywhere else.  Check that article though, and you saw it too:  any electronic communication that could be embarrassing or a conflict of interests; a diary, for fuck’s sake.  Not a “livejournal,” not an “online diary,”  a diary. Like the one that you kept buried under your sock drawer when you were six.  Bear in mind that the executive branch of the government deals with everything, and there is nobody who entirely agrees on anything, so sticking to the strictest meaning of the words, everything you’ve ever said is a potential conflict of interests.  And if you wrote an entry in your diary trying to decide what they mean by “could be,” you’d have to report it.  Right now, in this blog post, I’m criticizing the HR practices of this new administration on philosophical and political grounds.  If I ever apply for a job with them, I’ll have to report this post.  This isn’t some tinfoil hatted fourteen-conditional hypothetical screed.  If you apply for certain jobs with the incoming administration, you are subject to an invasion of your privacy.

There’s a lot that’s creepy about any employer going that deeply into an individual’s personal life, most clearly that it’s called personal because it’s not at work.  (Lawyers and their tricky using words for WHAT THEY MEAN bullshit!)  But there’s something particularly disturbing about the government itself doing this, at least partially because the government is bound by certain big, honkin’ rules that private employers aren’t.  It’s a bit precious to assume without further reassurance – like a notorized, publicly available contract – that someone prying this deeply into your personal life of course has your best interests at heart.  I haven’t looked at the application, so I can’t say for sure, but I’d feel a lot better if there was some sort of majorly binding limiting and confidentiality clause.  As in, “this application will be reviewed with your name separate from your number, will be used solely for the purposes of evaluating your fitness for the job for which you have applied, and will be immediately shredded at your request after we have made our decision for the post.”  It wouldn’t be perfect, but it’d be something.

“But P,” I can hear you asking, “they’re not going to lock you up, for fuck’s sake!  It’s just vetting!”  No, it’s happening in conjunction with vetting.  We don’t have any assurances that it is actually just vetting.  And also, unlike a sensitive job in the private sector, this boss comes with the ability not just to lock you up, but to name you publicly, control your and your family’s financial aid to schools, and to audit your taxes with a fine tooth comb until the day you die.  We could talk all day about the power imbalance between private employees and employers and how much labor laws should recognize it, but we as a society take it as a given that the government has more power than we do.

Speaking of the power of the government, there’s an exertion of psychological power here that makes me a little uncomfortable.  I’m not a huge tech person, so I’d love some input on this from someone who is, but my understanding is that your computer tracks every website you’ve ever been to, and that your IP address leaves a tag when you post a blog post or a comment.  It seems to me that most Americans, and especially those privileged enough to be qualified for these jobs, have laptops and do most personal posting from those laptops; even if someone was on a work computer, that computer would still have an IP address and be registered at a desk for tech support reasons.  If I understand this correctly, then one of two things is happening here.  Thing One:  this information is all available to the government, they just want to see what you will and won’t cop to, thus figuring out what you’re ashamed of and hiding.   This strikes me as the more likely scenario, and it makes me deeply uncomfortable.  Thing Two:  this information exists, but there are legal issues with compelling such information from private actors as part of a background check on potential employees.  Now, if there’s a legal issue with compelling this information from someone else, there sure as shit is at least an ethical issue with compelling it from you.

There are a few things a lot more structurally unjust about this rule besides the traditional liberal right to privacy concern.  Dan Savage, though mocked by some commenters, is absolutely right to fixate on the potential professional future of FemDomDem.*  We still a closeted population about sex.  The internet is a useful tool for allowing people with similar sexual interests to meet, and one of the major attractions of the internet is the small measure of anonymity it gives.  People don’t walk around in “SEXY DD DOMME” sandwich boards partially because of reasonable fear of street harassment or worse, but also due to a mature, rational preference to keep that part of life separate from employers, strangers, and the federal  fucking government. And yes, all too many queer Americans live in communities can only safely meet partners or seek community with like-minded folks online, and yes, requiring this information is a forcible outing to the U.S. government.  Though facially neutral, this falls harder on the shoulders of queer folks.

And women.  Did I mention women?  Ah.  Ahahahaha.  There’s a reason that the atheism of Melissa McEwan and Amanda Marcotte was a Very Serious Issue, and the churchlessness of Karl Rove is not.  Partially it’s the iron rule that everything a liberal does is – OBVI! – against truth, justice, and the American Way, but they’re also outspoken feminist women who not only dared to disagree with a lot of people but to do so, on the internet, out loud and shit where people could hear them!  It’s not just in the realms of sexuality.  Women are likely to be judged more harshly for holding certain opinions.  As with POC who are anti-racist activists:  POLITICAL!  Conflict of interests!   Whereas a white guy who belongs to racist, sexist clubs was just tryin’ to help out his school, y’all.

But what I find most chilling is that it essentially strips public sector employment opportunities from everyone except those who have a) never had a problem or b) never found anyone who could help them with their problem.  Sexual assault survivors, women who’ve had abortions, mothers who have been on welfare – these are all issues the Obama Administration will have to make the political decisons to address at all, and if so, how to address them.  Those of us freaks and geeks who have put private and political parts of our lives on the internet, to flesh out our thoughts, to seek community and support and commonality – whether we’ve chosen to address human rights abuses in Europe, our questions about our sexuality, our problems with the Democratic Primary of 2008, our struggles with the mental health profession, our cervical placements, our disabilities – we’ve talked about these things for all kinds of reasons.  Chief among these reasons are to understand our lives better, to have a better intellectual grasp on the issues that shape our lives, or even just as a tool in the struggle to be a happy, productive member of society.  Those of us with our messy, politically charged, potentially embarrassing lives online are the right people to be in on these policy decisions, not for some mushy feel-good liberal thinking, but because we know what these policies will mean to us, and we, all on our own and for absolutely no charge, have reached out to the world, and said, hey, what do you think? We can’t solve problems if we don’t stand up and call them by their names, whether those names are sexism, homophobia, racism, ableism; we can’t speak to our experience as a society if we individuals can’t name our parts in it.

*No, not me.  Though, cute handle.

Posted in feminism, obama, politics, privacy | 1 Comment »

i can’t leave you people alone for one second!

Posted by pocochina on June 24, 2008

I can’t leave you people alone for one second! THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS!

Leaving aside my perpetual astonishment that the world, in fact, goes on when my internet goes down and I spend the weekend engrossed in third wave theory and Japanese feminist crime fiction, oh, sweeties, I didn’t think anyone would actually pour a whole bottle of detergent into the dishwasher, but now you’ve gone and done it.

Link Lovin’!

First of all, excellent news via Jack at Feministe, the convictions of two of the NJ Four have been overturned.

Q: Did Karl Rove us? A: No more than usual.

The Prospect has decided that the witch is dead, and so now they can get “Beyond Hillary” (no, no, I would never knowingly subject anyone to that level of annoying) and talk seriously about women in politics. One of these articles, about how one of the major barriers to women’s participation in politics is that women aren’t asked, and whew, now we’ve got that sorted, written by the original AHBADSMoFo, Ezra “too cool for universal health care if it means giving up a lie about That Bitch” Klein, unironically hosts a sidebar which proudly displays an article about how Jim Webb’s manly, handsome loose-cannon all-‘mukin sexy* beefiness makes him just too good to stand a heartbeat away from the Presidency. Meanwhile, Ann Friedman (of Feministing fame) writes on how to increase the numbers of women in government. The article is well worth a read, but I do have a couple of bones to pick. She mostly mentions women in legislative positions, though, and then HRC as an “exceptional” case – but, well, that’s the rub. Any woman willing to run for president – especially after seeing the shit that got thrown Senator Clinton’s way – is going to be exceptional in a lot of ways, and therefore there will be lots of grounds for “it’s not women, it’s just that BALL BUSTING BITCH.” To our sad detriment, we consider masculinity apart of power, and especially of the kind of power that comes with being Badass in Chief of the biggest bunch of tanks in the fucking world. (No. That is not how I think of our armed forces. It is how people with gender issues think of the presidency.) We don’t, as she suggests, need to “move beyond the exceptional Hillary Clintons.” Exceptional is not a bad thing. Only an exceptional person runs for the presidency, only an exceptionally talented exceptional person gets as far as Hillary Clinton did. [*For the record, I don’t think fiction should be held against anyone seeking office unless it shows a propensity towards violence; however, I haven’t read the books in question, but I do know the RNC and exactly what they have to say about the books.]

My co-blogger, Red (I say that a lot about the H1K ladies because it makes people think I’m as awesome as they are. It’s the transitive property of “seriously, go read her now”) follows Obama’s speeches to working women and mayors. Unsurprisingly, he is sooooo much better than that John McCain, who, don’t get him wrong, he would never talk trash, but Jasmine in band said is tooooootally going out with that nerd from the quiz bowl team. (Shut up, I’m allowed, I was the queen of Shakespeare trivia at Quiz Bowl! And we totally made it to semifinals because I nailed a math question. Arrogant Math Guy was so embarrassed.) Equally unsurprisingly, some good ideas couched in lots of conservative pandering and avoidance of important issues.

And oh, the weekend of the ill-fated Obama seal, which has already mercifully been yanked (h/tlady_jane). I have a couple problems with the seal. First of all, of course, it’s utterly ridiculous. “Vero possumus?” As morpheus0013 was kind enough to explain to us, it’s not even good Latin, but that doesn’t matter so much as – really? Was he pandering to his anti-Carthaginian hardliners? He’s tough on Gauls? Whatever, dude, we get it. What really bugs me about it, though, is the conflation of the person with the office. I’ve spent the last eight years of my life furious about this, and it’s only been exacerbated by spending the last ten months of my life immersed in constitutional theory. George Bush is POTUS; it does not mean that he is the office of the presidency. For example, though I disagree with his selfish, irresponsible vetoes, I acknowledge that it is his constitutional prerogative, and if he makes a bad one, it means we haven’t been doing a good job holding him accountable. To see a Democrat play this game that conflates the person with the office not only goes against the values in which we’re supposed to believe, but it’s also the Manly Leadership Game – fighting on the Republican’s turf. You don’t want to out-arrogant GWB, or out-ego Nixon, but you also can’t. Obama should be reiterating that he’s running to “unify” the country, not absorb the country into his campaign whether we like it or not. And, of course, this will lead to attacks of “elitism” and “arrogance” which, while crushingly ironic coming from Republicans, aren’t totally inaccurate. However, these attacks will be laden with racist dogwhistles, which are totally inexcusableand those don’t just hurt Obama, they hurt all POC.

Obama gives up public financing. Did he strongly imply that he was going to promise to take public financing if he were in a general election match-up with John McCain? Yup. Now, some of his supporters are deeply, deeply disappointed that The One has turned out to be a politician doing what politicians do; others are shrugging and saying you gotta do what you gotta do. But none that I’ve seen are exploring the situation to its logical beginnings. Obama knew, back when he was having these talks with McCain, that he was raising multiples of what McCain was, and that if he ended up being the nominee, he’d have even more new donors, plus the national machine at his disposal. The situation hasn’t changed fundamentally between now and then, in fact, he’s had comparatively slow fundraising months between now and then. He knew all along that he was going to take the public funding. And, you know, play games, don’t play games, but if he’s running as a reformer, against a guy with a widespread reputation as a reformer, and you come within a hair’s breadth of a lie about public financing, we should be asking a lot more questions about his credibility. This is an Issue. Elections are the ballgame. And, of course, when he was “strongly considering” but never actually going to take the public financing, he was using it against Senator Clinton, masterfully intertwining it with cultural assumptions that ambitious women are ballbreaking ruthless bitches who will do anything to have their way. All while trying to trap McCain into promising public financing and planning to pull the plug on it. It’s a good political move, but it simply bolsters what Clinton supporters said all along – he’s not a saint, he’s a politician, and a damned good one, which means he’s using your hopey changey inspiration for his own cynical ends. Which is fine, but don’t get so hacked off at us for it.

Salon-troversy!

And then. The Traister maelstrom. This smarts a bit because Salon sucks a little less than, say, Slate, and Traister is a feminist writer who I really do admire. First the good, she does admit it’s incomplete, and there are some parts that are dead-on accurate. Ex: “And for any of you sitting at your computers yammering about how the coverage of Clinton had nothing to do with her sex, allow me to be frank: can it.” I just don’t understand why, if Salon wanted to know why Clinton supporters are angry, they didn’t, yanno, ask a Clinton supporter. Fuck, they have at least one on staff, and she just wrote a badass post about why she’s pissed off. (Kate would also fit the profile Traister is trying to draw, because she does plan to vote for Obama in the fall, unlike many of the women for whom Traister claims to be translating.) Hell, they could’ve asked me, I’m not doing anything. There’s a link to the PUMA website, I’m sure she could’ve asked the RD a couple of questions!

Mostly, though, it’s frustrating. The language of “coming home” in the context of female voters – particularly given the someitmes violent overtones of the primary season. The assumption that we’re pissed off at the Big Dawg. (As if!) This assumed partywide attempt to distance ourselves from the only two-term Democrat in fifty years is politically stupid, and again, it gives the high ground of the debate to the Republicans. Now we all agree we hate the guy who brought us peace, prosperity, and a balanced budget, choked off the Global Gag Rule, appointed the first openly gay US ambassador, and put Ginsberg and Breyer on the High Court? Hey, you must’ve spilled something, that looks like a big brown splotch of hell no on your blouse.

What’s most upsetting, though, is the way the post is obviously written to placate people who are just! so! angry! that those uppity bitches are upset. Don’t we KNOW they wouldn’t have to YELL AT US if we didn’t MAKE THEM? Traister seems to be jumping in front of the bullies going, “no, no, their feeeeeeelings are hurt.” And while I don’t necessarily like that she misrepresents us in order to protect us from the mean, scary Obama bullies – please, we’ve been taking their crap for months – but just how fucked up it is that we should have to be apologized for and explained and oh, aren’t we cute with our little temper tantrums? If our votes matter, treat us like they matter, if they don’t, leave us the hell alone, either way, the bullying reveals something fucked up in Obama land, and the article doesn’t shed much light about the Clinton supporters who aren’t voting for Obama.

And then, darlings.

Sparks Fly at Black Caucus Meeting

Just What Was Said Between the Presumptive Democratic Nominee and Clinton-Supporting Congresswoman?

var addthis_pub = ‘abcnews’;

Sources at the meeting said that Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, a Clinton supporter, expressed the desire that Obama and his campaign would reach out the millions of women still aggrieved about what happened in the campaign and still disappointed that Clinton lost.

Obama agreed that a lot of work needs to be done to heal the Democratic Party, and that he hoped the Clinton supporters in the room would help as much as possible.

Yup. It’s the Clinton supporters’ job to heal! Note the appeal to feelings – after all, only women supported Clinton (Rep. Rangel is amused) and women love that touchy-feely shit! Just give them a job to make them feel important! Hey, Senator, they have re-election campaigns to run, and lots of them hail from NY, which was pretty damn excited to re-elect Senator Clinton. They might not be much for healing right now. They might – wonder of wonders – have actually thought their colleague would be a great president. The original article states that at this point – post people switching at the last minute out of political necessity, the highly intelligent, politically savvy room is still 1/3 full of Clinton supporters, which makes those Unrepentant Racist Bitch assumptions just a hair suspect. Notice how there’s nothing about what he can do for them, districts where they can campaign together, just how Clinton supporters need to pitch in as much as possible.

According to Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., Obama then said, “However, I need to make a decision in the next few months as to how I manage that since I’m running against John McCain, which takes a lot of time. If women take a moment to realize that on every issue important to women, John McCain is not in their corner, that would help them get over it.

First of all, Mr. I Wanna Run a Government, MEN VOTED FOR HRC, TOO. A LOT OF THEM. Second of all, WOMEN ARE NOT FUCKING STUPID. We know exactly what John McCain is. If women are pissed enough to look at the two of them, under the harsh glare of day, and still think that they will do better under a McCain presidency, that is something Obama needs to fix, and right now. Third of all, stop fucking expecting our votes. I own my vote, not the Democratic Party or its nominee (however chosen).

And then. GET OVER IT. The ultimate in dismissiveness. Not “get excited.” Not “know they’re an integral part of our party.” GET OVER IT YOU STUPID BITCHES NOBODY YOU NEED ME ELSE WILL LOVE YOU.

Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif., a longtime Clinton supporter, did not like those last three words — “Get over it.” She found them dismissive, off-putting.

“Don’t use that terminology,” Watson told Obama.

[……]

In Clarke’s view, Watson thought Obama had just told her to “get over it.” She didn’t appreciate that, and she told him so and emphasized that it was a heated campaign and lot of healing remains to be done.

FUCK YEAH. First of all, Watson handled the situation perfectly. She explained that her colleague had used inappropriate and unnecessary language, that it wasn’t helpful in the caucus room or the campaign, and how and why he should fix it.

“I agree,” Obama said. “There’s healing on both sides.

You bitches ruin EVERYTHING! Winning would’ve been AWESOME if that BITCH and her BITCH FRIENDS hadn’t fucked it up with their CAMPAIGNING AND SHIT! No, there’s healing on one side. Clinton supporters need to be respected, and have our reasonable issues addressed. And we don’t owe anyone anything. Everyone has to vote in the manner which will leave their consciences least disturbed.

Obama then said two sources at the meeting said that he’d held his tongue many times during the campaign against Clinton in the interest of party unity and sensitivity. Clinton and her allies had suggested he was a Muslim, had said he wasn’t qualified to be president.

First of all, he shouldn’t be walking around slinging the M-word, not with his campaign discriminating against Muslim women who support him. Second of all, those smears have been debunked and debunked and DEBUNKED. The “qualifications” thing – I’m assuming he’s referring to the CIC threshhold test – was nothing the GOP isn’t going to bring harder and hotter in any event. Nothing is more destructive to party unity than such blatant lies about a candidate that a lot of us support.

Notice, too, how while he cites alleged slurs against him, he conveniently forgets that some of the healing on her side is going to have to come about because of the insults he dished out to us, her supporters, not just her?

According to the sources, Obama suggested he bit his tongue every time. He could be asking for an apology, he could be asking for the Clintons to reconcile with him, but he chose to rise above it.

Really? Axlerod didn’t send around some clip of Olbermann all hopped up on whatever as usual? OH, WAIT, HE DID. And the way he did it – to prominent media figures – suggests that not only did the Obama campaign expect the media to cover for him, but that you were utterly okay with all of what was going down on that show as it swirled down the shitter. Oh, and he didn’t answer criticism by saying that she “periodically feels down,”: or that “the claws were out,” nooo. Either none of that happened and we were ALL FUCKING HIGH, or he actually thinks that sweepingly insulting an entire gender just to get back at one woman counts for anything.

He just doesn’t seem to understand that he can’t blame everything on Hillary Clinton any more. It’s especially not going to work with the 18 million of us who voted for her, and it’s really not going to work on those of us who would drop everything to join her her if she were forming the breakaway People’s Republic of NYC. You have to work hard to do the healing, Senator.

And I’m tired of being treated this way. I can’t imagine how a black woman who beat all the odds to become a US Representative felt at being so dismissively treated. If that’s how he’s going to talk to her, comrades, just fucking well imagine how he feels about us.

Posted in clinton, feminism, obama, politics, race | 2 Comments »

because history is written in strange and silly ways

Posted by pocochina on June 17, 2008

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon are not just some sweet little old ladies who waited around for five and a half centuries before some white knight on a horse came and granted them their rights.  Gavin Newsom deserves praises most high for his eagerness to lead on this important critical civil rights issue.  He is an ally which every civil rights movement needs and deserves.

Some more biographical history, from the SFGate (Via PD)

They founded the Daughters of Bilitis in 1955, the first national lesbian organization. In 1964, they helped launch the Council on Religion and the Homosexual, bringing together national religious leaders and gay and lesbian activists to discuss homosexual rights. Lyon, in a challenge to the leadership of the feminist movement, was the first open lesbian on the board of the National Organization for Women in 1973. Martin, meanwhile, helped lead a successful campaign to get the American Psychiatric Association to take homosexuality off its list of mental illnesses.


Let’s just honor that as it deserves, shall we?  They founded the first national lesbian rights organization at the height of the Red Scare – they could have been blacklisted, seen their friends called before HUAC, and instead, they chose courage.

They could have just fought for gay rights, and instead, they chose to take their life experiences and join the fight for the rights of all women, at a time when that movement was not fully accepting of lesbians.  They chose humanity.

They could have accepted that they and everyone like them were labeled as “sick” and instead they chose rightousness.

They did not ask, or expect, anyone to do for them what they set forth to do for their country.

These women are heroes.  They are deserving of their names in the history books, over and over again.  The state recognition of their marriage – while it is a necessary option for many same-sex couples – is but the least of what the community they call home, the state of California, can do for them.

For their marriage, I wish them unremarkableness.  I wish that as married women they live as they have always lived – with joy in life, with faith in humanity, with the courage and steadfastness of their own convictions.

Posted in feminism, lgbtq | Leave a Comment »

“But it wasn’t JUST sexism!”

Posted by pocochina on June 17, 2008

Whenever the topic of sexism in media comes up, there are any number of Obama fen who will trip over themselves to inform everyone that YES THERE WAS SEXISM BUT HILLARY LOST B/C OF XYZ OTHER REASONS. On the lowest level – we’re talking sub-human decency levels, but still – this is a good thing, as it forces the Librul Boyz to use the S-Word, though O! How it burns their souls. However, it’s still a crap dodge. From trogledyte commenters on some blog, maybe. But from anyone who actually follows and knows anything about politics, it’s inexcusable. There is never “just one cause” for political victory or defeat, and the only common variable is luck.

There’s a reason politicians have focus groups, and image specialists, and have people help with their haircuts and ties. It’s because even subtle things about politicians set off cues – conscious and subconscious – in voters, media, colleagues, potential donors alike. These intricate cues are synched up to our expectations of masculine-presenting, able-bodied,* heterosexual, white, wealthy male. Femaleness, even white femaleness, is in a great many ways the opposite of this image. It is not “just sexism” in its gloating, unshackled Daily Kos glory. It is sexism in terms of the different measuring sticks we use for men and women; sexism in the way Barack Obama’s past is respected (as it should be; I am not arguing otherwise) but Hillary Clinton’s decades of hard and distinguished work is subsumed under the banner of “former First Lady” – read “just wife.” It is sexism not just in enormous bricks, but in a hundred thousand tiny shards of glass.

Part of the beaut of politics is that it’s so fucking bizarre there’s no One True Analogy. But in this case, there’s a damned close one. This is an exercise in thought, and I don’t know a whole lot about cars, so just assume no externalities.

Say you’re driving a car. What you do know is that the brakes are a bit stiff; what you don’t know is that they’re actually defective. So you’re driving one day, you go to make a relatively sharp turn – like you, and other people, do all the time – and move your right hand down to switch the radio station – like you, and other people, do all the time. Nothing statistically unsafe, but nothing you’d find recommended in a driver’s manual, either.

You crash.

Is the relevant question:

(a) Was it just the faulty brakes?

(b) Would it have happened but for the faulty brakes?

(a) is, of course, the question that will be used by the manufacturer of the faulty car, while trying to duck responsibility. Not only is their credibility on the line, as well as the money that they owe you, but they’re also trying to duck their moral responsibility for the accident.

But really, do you really believe that you would’ve crashed if you’d had working brakes?

Oh, sure, sexism wasn’t the only drawback of the Clinton campaign.  But the Blogger Boyz/MSM’s desperate cast for reasons other than sexism to explain Clinton’s eventual coming up slightly short for the nomination reads to me, at least a little, like an excuse to duck any responsibility on the part of themselves or Barack Obama.  Because if Obama won, even a little, based on these unfair biases, then he didn’t win the great coup over the Dragon Lady they have been screaming for these many months.  Moreover, they would have to examine their own motivations.  Even if they were Pure as the Morning in their motivations – and the idea that they’re not doesn’t seem to have occurred to anyone – they’d have to question all of the narratives they bought into over the last year and a half.  They have to discount sexism as the reason for Clinton’s loss, or Obama’s win isn’t what they want it to have been.

Sure, it wasn’t just sexism.  It was Patti Solis Doyle not being up to the job.  It was, oddly, underestimating, the sexism that they did know was going to exist, and only seeing the ripple effects halfway through the campaign.  It was underestimating the Obama faction at the DNC.

But even factoring in all of that, do you really, really believe that without the assistance of the Clenis-obsessed media, a cultural zeitgeist willing to believe anything of an intelligent, ambitious woman, without the endless snide comments about nasty old ladies and pantsuits and frigidity and duplicity and ballbreakers and madams and whores and periodically feeling down and WWTSBQ and on and on into sinking oblivion –

do you really think you would have crashed?

*I’m aware that we’ve had a wheelchair-using president, but FDR never presented his disability to the public.

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

so what happens now?

Posted by pocochina on June 12, 2008

Possible Outcome: clear McCain victory

Let me be clear. This would be quite terrible, but it is NOT the nightmare scenario. (I am not endorsing a McCain victory. I am saying there is something worse than a Nixon/McGovern style blowout.) It would smart viciously; it would set back race relations twenty years (as if this country needs that); the Supreme Court will resemble nothing so much as a liberal retirement home for four years. McCain will propose “reform” legislation which is suitably classist and pro-business, the Democrats will ham-handedly and spectacularly fail to beat him to the punch, and he will successfully brand Democrats the true party of elitism and corruption. But this will be temporary – the Right, comfortable in its victory, will continue its slide into ridiculousness and idiocy, and in 2012, Our Lady of the Perpetual Pantsuit will step in with nary an “I told you so.”** A McCain blowout would do other things, too. Climate change and evolution would no longer be on the GOP agenda. He’s not a moderate, we all know this,

But Pocochina, how could that possibly happen? McCain is freaking McSame!

Y’all guessed it! Race, Class and Gender Politics!*

First of all, even a broken clock is right twice a day, and the Right’s paranoid moaning about the Booga Booga Liberal Media has actually come true in the bloviating, orange specter of Keith Olbermann. Clinton supporters, particularly women, notoriously turned to Fox for primary coverage, even if they wouldn’t ever vote for McCain in a million years. But this now means that, well, people are getting their news from Fox. The liberal media is now the sexist, willing to eat their own, can’t even be trusted wit their friends liberal media. The Right has the clear opportunity, should they chose to take it (and Turd Blossom ain’t dead yet, you guys, he’s in a bunker somewhere coming up with a Cunning Plan), to manipulate the entire country’s rage at the clear bias of the media into resentment at what they will term a liberal bias. This is no good. This is very, very bad. Because then, to counteract the perception of bias, the media won’t tell the Republicans where to shove it, they’ll keep doing what they’ve been doing for the last decade, and continue to report in a way that’s sympathetic to the Dark Side right wing. The right has brilliantly manipulated the media’s love affair with itself and its own appearance.

I think that the Obama campaign is being very silly to ignore sexism, not just because it could cost him female votes, but because it’s a brilliant avenue of attack for John McCain. And I don’t think it’s because he’s going to peel off too many female voters that would have otherwise gone to Obama – married women tilt slightly conservative; single women tend to be younger and/or well educated, a demographic friendly to Obama even in the primaries – but because of independent, slightly right-leaning men. We liberals, in our feminist bubbles, tend to forget that these men who are so willing to vote against the best interests of women do, in fact, have wives and mothers and daughters. We’re not fighting against reason, here, we’re fighting against Rove. The Republican Daddy machine will brilliantly exploit the feelings of working class and lower middle class patriarchs who care about and want to protect the women in their lives, but are totally squicked by the idea of female sexual autonomy.

There’s also the masculinity issue. Clinton’s exit from the race didn’t signal the end of gender politics in the campaign, just the end of Democrats doing the gender-trashing. In general, candidates for the US presidency have spent a good deal of their careers trying to out-man each other. Think of TR on his horse, Dubya’s flight suit, or Reagan’s cowboy hat. During the primaries, Obama (and Edwards, before his early exit) could play big man on campus by using any one of a million anti-feminist archetypes to beat up on Senator Clinton, and he did so, unreservedly, and for this he has been rightfully taken to task, though not enough, since it kept happening.

He’s not running against Senator Clinton any more, though. He’s running against His Maverickiness, the War Hero McCain.  Testosterone itself isn’t going to be enough, and the GOP has the daddy-market utterly cornered, with their Tough on Terror (TM) and anti-choice credentials totally shored up.  (Expect even more shameless, conservative pandering on women’s reproductive rights now, as well as a radioactive comparative silence on the CA gay marriages.)  The GOP is the party of pretending health problems don’t exist, of victim-blaming, of waving the bloody shirt and calling it respecting the troops.  I wish I had reason to believe Barack Obama won’t try to play those games; he did so throughout the primary when it might not have been necessary (and of course if that’s how you have to win, you don’t deserve to win).

Expect, however, ageism to continue to rear its ugly head.  Barack Obama will continue to enjoy photo ops which emphasize his youth and virility, and more “losing his bearings” comments about McCain.  McCain, for his part, will emphasize Obama’s youth and inexperience.  We’ll see whose nastiness backfires the most – the Youth Vote already swings heavily to Obama, but seniors are a critical swing group.  So we’ll see.

Here’s the thing – why racial justice and gender equalitemy are inextricably bound.  Barack Obama will absolutely not win the masculinity contest against McCain.  Not because he is weak, or because of McCain’s war hero status, but because masculinity is coded as strong and protecting for white cisgender males, but menacing among black males.  It’s not fair.  It’s absolutely racist, and it’s particularly racist because of the ugly history of male sexuality being used as an excuse for terrorism and hate crime towards African-Americans.  There’s a reason Barack Obama exudes intellect, irony, and calm, and it’s not some inborn genetic trait – it’s a fucking It’s inexcusable for McCain to use that particular tool at his disposal.  Will that stop him?  Of course not.  And should Obama speak up, rightfully, about this double standard, he’ll get called a girl.  Even those of us who find him a poor and at times reprehensible politician should speak up against it, because it’s not just about him, it’s about the ways we constrain the capacity of individuals based on arbitrary characteristics such as race and gender.

Possible Outcome: Clear Obama victory

Obviously the lesser of two evils. In policy terms, it’s unclear as to what he would pursue first, though my guess is it will depend on the composition of the Senate.

In the long term, however, a clear Obama victory should trouble committed progressives.  Politicians do what works.  Obama has bought into right-wing frames on abortion, the economy, social security, and single parenthood.  He isn’t showing any leadership on the FISA bill – the nominee of the Democratic party can’t take the initiative to say “hey, telecom immunity is bullshit?”  (See corrente and talk left for much better coverage of this.)  Being too busy running for office to protect the constitution, at a time when you have the clear political capital to do so, doesn’t give me much confidence in your oath to uphold it.

Possible Outcome: Squeaker either way

No, the nightmare scenario, according to all polling data, is now the most likely. The nightmare scenario is another squeaker. I’ve voiced my concerns about a future count-the-votes lawsuit, but even absent the lawsuit, the court of public opinion will be even less kind to the Obama campaign, with the specter of those four Michigan delegates floating in the public consciousness. McCain will use Obama’s own rhetoric of Unity against him. It will be “time to let the healing begin” and “to do the right thing.”

Oh, I’m sorry, you thought only Clinton is susceptible to media push-out treatment? Will he be hurting the party when he fights it? Will he be bothered to fight it? Can he win that fight? Will Congressional Democrats give him the same level of support (i.e. nowhere near enough) that they gave VP Gore? That’s what scared the ever loving crap out of Clinton voters – we have no effing idea. We know she’d go for the jugular and walk away pantsuit intact. Let’s just hope he’s smart enough to let her on his team.

There’s a reason the last couple of elections, against all rational reasons, were squeakers, but there is a very simple reason both of those squeakers went Republican. Part of it is a philosophical issue – Republicans believe in power, Democrats believe(d) in the democratic process. There’s also the issue of numbers and demographics. Democrats, up until recently, have represented constituencies more vulnerable both to voting inconsistencies. Poor people not only have a more difficult time getting to the polls (shift work) but once they get to the polls, those machines are less likely to be up to date. Caretakers, as another example, are likely to be female and working class, and don’t always have the option to vote. Some states don’t count the absentee ballots. This impacts students and expatriate voters – likely to be liberal – and military voters, disproportionately likely to be minorities.

Swing State Shenanigans

Since I started writing this, our Presumptive Nominee and his Fearless Band have come up with this sparkling gem of lunacy. Lambert graciously shares without comment, the Confluence posts with some succinct comments, and I foresee terrible things. Now, it’s not that it’s impossible for a Democrat to win without huge urban states. It’s just that, well, it hasn’t happened in recent history, and there have been no seismic demographic shifts to suggest that that’s about to change. Ohio, for example, is 50/50 between Obama and McCain; and indeed, if the votes had all been counted fairly, and there had been no voter fraud, it would have gone to Kerry in 2004. Ohio’s senators are both Democrats, as is the governor. Obama would actually have very little work to do to convert it into a blue-leaning state like the rest of the Rust Belt – send in some famous populist Dems to chat up universal** health care and stopping the violent flow of lives and resources to Iraq, and Ohio would be Democratic country. Instead of doing that, his most powerful surrogates are cockily informing the press corps that they can’t be bothered to ask for the votes of Ohioans, much like they can’t be bothered to ask for the votes of Clinton supporters. This gives McCain an undeniable rhetorical tool – he does want their votes, very badly, and he’s not afraid to show it. It’s also, along with the write-off of MI and FL, outright scary for downticket races. Independent and undecided voters aren’t the problem the Obama camp seems to think they are, they’re a treasure trove of untapped votes. They’re how you win. With McCain sweeping in, making nice with voters, portraying the standard-bearer of the Democratic party (and, not unfairly, the party itself) as “elitist” (code for “classist but we don’t talk about class because only filthy COMMIES use that word”), voters will be able to see themselves as rejecting GWB but not joining those DFH Democrats and our arugula-munching+ nominee.

No, it’s those damned down-ticket races.  Not just senators and representatives which will go to Washington, but state legislators who will have huge influence right around the time of the next census.  Democratic apathy and Republican energy in those states could have a devastating impact on contested seats.  If an independent voter reluctantly votes against the Bush legacy, said voter hasn’t actually heard tell of why the Democratic vision is good for America (s)he has that much more incentive to go for the Republican.  And unlike the cash-strapped DNC, the RNC (and their endless 527s) have all the cash in the world to convince that voter.  That isn’t a game you play when 15% of the population (yours truly included, Mr. Unity) is undecided.

Demographic Write-Offs

Aside from the vile – and violent – scare tactic of threatening dissatisfied Democrats with the loss Roe, there’s also the desperate silliness of it. A threat is, at its core, an appeal to self-interest. And this is why it is silly. Older women, already demonized as Racist, DINO, Unity-Hating Traitors, no longer have self interest in Roe – so not only are they ignoring male Clinton supporters who are also furious enough to take their ball and go to the Independents, but they are also admitting that their sexist, classist, ageist characterization of Clinton supporters as a group of people who can easily be written off is bunk.

So let’s go with that. They’re targeting women of voting and childbearing age with the vile threat of the loss of our reproductive rights. But….it just ain’t that simple. Women who are in solid and moderately conservative states, who are dependent on Roe for their reproductive freedoms, still won’t be able to turn their states blue – that bloc been voting Democratic for decades to no avail. So that isn’t helping the haters. Ah, but where are you likely to find Clinton voters? Blue and swing states, in the libertarian west and liberal northeast. NY will criminalize abortion over the dead bodies of everyone in Albany – that means you can’t scare women in PA, NJ, and CT either. Married women already tilt slightly conservative, and if they and their families are fed up with MSNBC, they’re watching Fox and stirring the McMaverick Kool-Aid into their WASPy martinis.  You want to rely on the creative class?  We’re the people who can tell you to shove it. This young urban graduate student has news for you – you can’t scare me with Roe, and you can’t bully me with accusations of selfishness.  I voted in the best interests of women’s reproductive justice, and you told me to suck it.  I voted for the person who I thought was best ready to run an efficient diplomatic corps to avoid war, and you told me to choke on it.  I voted for the candidate who’d spent her entire career working for the underprivileged of all colors, and you trolled my journal and called me a racist, not for anything I’d ever said, but for daring to say that she’d faced sexism.  I worked with other women to try and counteract the hate we saw in not just the traditional media, but on the mainstream liberal media, and you stalked them and tormented them and smirched their names.  Don’t lecture me about selfishness, I’m looking at you and learning more than I ever thought I’d need to know.

Will I?  I don’t know yet.  I’m one of those apathetic and undecided.  Oh, I’m not going to vote for McSame, barring some totally batshit crazy unforseen circumstance.  I could be persuaded to vote for Obama, depending on what he tells us with his Veep choice (for the love ‘av all that’s ‘oly, not Jim Webb) and if he and his supporters learn that they’re asking for votes, not at a fucking ballgame somewhere.

This is also, in a nutshell, the problem with Brazile’s blithe statement that it was the “old coalition” that contained women, the elderly, Hispanics and the working poor. Now, I’m not singling out Brazile for an off-the-cuff remark. Obama’s economic advisors are not progressive – there is at least one on his staff who would favor privatizing social security. His Republican anti-universal health care tactics (remember Harry and Louise? Oh, but you do) have not only insulted all of our intelligence because his plan is not universal, they’ve also given working class centrists pause when deciding who they best trust for the economy. Oh, McCain cheerfully claims not to know much about the economy, but in his center-right stance Obama has given up the high ground on the economy, and he’s given the faux-populist Right the red meat for which they live.

But demographically, it’s utterly silly to say you don’t want the votes of (read:  will not represent the interests of) the working class during a freaking recession.  Perhaps it’s an appeal to wishful thinking – vote for Obama, and it’s almost like you’re affluent, even though his policies are written and approved by people who have never done a damned thing to help you before, and he’s “a free-market guy” who doesn’t bother to point out that the American market is anything but free.  It’s another dangerous game, though, with McManlyMaverickiness just joshin’ around with the electorate.

Impact: Party Platforms

And that’s the other thing. This is an unusual election in that everyone is looking long term. Oh, it’s going to be a change election alright, but I don’t think that’s going to be true in the good, Unity Pony type way. Right now, the Democratic platform, while far from perfect or actualized, is coherent. In areas where Democrats differ from Republicans, we are in line with FDR’s four freedoms:

The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want — which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear — which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor– anywhere in the world.

We are for movement towards, if not realization or preservation of those rights for all Americans, against both government and corporations. This is why, for example, full-throated support for LGBTQ rights on the grounds of small government and civil liberties (freedom of expression) logically co-exists with government-run social security (freedom from want). In the purest form, this worldview balances “freedom from” and “freedom to” in a manner that allows for maximum self-determination for the many rather than the few.

Why are those damned conservatives creaming themselves over Obama?

This is where it gets interesting. I think fiscal conservatives have two objectives in backing Senator Obama. No, it’s not that he’s some nefarious corpratofasist, though he is a remarkably pro-business Democrat. The brilliant Apostate thinks that this proves Obama’s conservatism. I’m with her to an extent; he was certainly the most pro-corporate Democrat in the primary. However, I think it can be more accurately characterized as an attempt to shift both parties to the right on business. Their eyes are on what a McCain victory would mean for the Republicans. McCain’s maverick reputation is far, far overblown, but there are some issues on which he genuinely does have a reputation for bucking party trends – still overblown, but in the case of the environment, there is a wee fire under all that smoke. Environmental protection requires government regulation of business, and not just in the form of taxes but also in high in compliance costs (and it should be; you make the mess, you clean it up.)  An Obama victory would punish this bar on industry and endcourage future Republicans to hew the party line on  business.  Likewise, an Obama victory would take working-class-friendly policies off the table – the Democrats are willing to give them up, and the Republicans have never wanted them.  No matter who winss, the two parties will be drawn closer together on major issues; ironically, the balance could swing slightly to the left in event of a Republican win, and to the right in the event of a Democratic win.  I’m not saying McCain is more liberal than Obama, I know better than that.  I’m saying that in the long term, the victory of one or the other will move the political conversation slightly to the left or the right on a particular issue.

I don’t want McCain to win, but I don’t want my party dragged any further to the right.  I want us to be the party that might not agree with your vote, but will defend to the death your right to have it counted.  I want us to be the party that realizes this country has the means to realize FDR’s four freedoms, and that we have not just a political but a moral obligation to do so.  I want desperately to be wrong, but I haven’t seen that in Obama, and believe me folks, I’ve been looking.

*Realizing I’m likely to focus on gender issues because I understand them more, not because they are any more important than, or do not overlap with, race and class. Anything I omit isn’t because I think it’s unimportant, it’s because I don’t wish to misrepresent the work and experiences of others.

**Yeah, it’s a bullshit lie, but it’s the best we’re going to get in this election.

+Fun Fact: When Barack Obama made his fateful arugula remark in Iowa, he was talking to people who grow arugula.  For that ill-considered moment of speaking to people’s actual concerns, he will, of course, get the Hillary treatment, which he was so willing to exploit during the primaries.

Posted in feminism, mccain, obama, politics | Leave a Comment »