Sunday Reads: Just Because

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Posting this artwork just because. Trying to find the source.

Hello newsjunkies. I’m still battling a sore throat and fever this morning, so this will be a straightforward link dump. I’m going to start with a couple Texas items that are of interest in a more uplifting way than one is wont to think about our state, unlike the Bush tornadoes and textbook chaos we’ve unleashed on the body politic in recent years.

First up, check out CNN’s interview with my mayor, Annise Parker, on turning Texas blue (Video).

Next, via MD Anderson here in Houston– Texas tanning bed law: A melanoma survivor’s take.

I’m not going to excerpt on these, so click over and give those two a look if you have a chance.

Now for a labor read in advance of tomorrow, with a feminist angle…

Via the Daily Beast, Unequal America — Feminism’s Sticky Fast-Food Floor:

This week, in New York City, the paradoxical economic conditions of working women collided in spectacular form. On the one hand, the Wall Street financial world mourned the death of Muriel Siebert, the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange and, eventually, the first American woman to have a net worth of $1 billion that she earned, rather than inherited. But on the other hand, as Siebert was toasted by the town’s economic elites, Nathalia Sepulveda went to work in the Bronx, where she earns just $7.25 an hour at McDonald’s.

If Siebert illustrates how a few women have managed to crack the glass ceiling and achieve great wealth and power and even the appearance of parity, whether in business or in politics or elsewhere, Nathalia Sepulveda illustrates the sticky floor that confronts the vast majority of working women in America, especially women of color, who struggle to make basic ends meet.

It’s a reflective piece that puts a woman of color’s face on statistics such as the following:

But such is the landscape of low-wage jobs in America today, which proliferate not because our economy is universally dire but because it is unequal. Research by Northeastern University has shown that 88 percent of the economic-recovery gains following the 2008 crash went to corporate profits. Just 1 percent went to wages.

That translates as follows in the life of Nathalia:

Sepulveda struggles to get assigned as many shifts per week as possible, but even if she had the chance to work 40 hours per week (a rarity), that would at most equal $15,080 per year. In other words, the CEO of McDonald’s makes 580 times more than Nathalia Sepulveda. But no one can seriously think he works 580 times harder than Sepulveda or any of the other workers who serve customers, flip burgers, and clean restrooms at McDonald’s across the country and the world. In fact, it’s hard to imagine Skinner working 100 times harder than Sepulveda. Or even 10 times harder.

Personally, I think Sepulveda probably works harder than Skinner. Anyhow, click over and give the entire thing a read.

Moving along, here’s a headline which reads like it’s from The Onion, even though it’s not — Senator Accidentally Shoots Teacher With Rubber Bullet:

A state senator who is advocating for arming teachers in the aftermath of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, accidentally shot a teacher with a rubber bullet during a training course, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.

Arkansas Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R) recently participated in “active shooter” training and mistakenly shot a teacher who was confronting a so-called bad guy. The experience gave Hutchinson “some pause” but failed to shake his confidence in the plan.

The unshakeable confidence of idiocracy.

In more serious news (though I would argue the above actually is serious and disturbing), I just stumbled on the following youtube which looks very interesting. I plan to watch it later today and thought I would share. Structural Racism Persists 50 Years After Washington March:

Bruce A. Dixon has a provocative read over at Black Agenda Report that seems like it might make a good companion piece after viewing the video — Dr. King Was A Man, “The Dreamer” Is A Zombie:

When King was murdered, civil uprisings occurred in scores of US cities, and the establishment myth makers made a second 180 degree turn. While the smoke rose from burning cities you heard the first references to Dr. King not as a champion of economic justice, not as a moral voice against militarism and empire, not the fighter for a guaranteed minimum income for all, but as “The Dreamer.” Media figures began instructing us on “Dr. King’s Dream” – something nobody ever heard of before – as the reference point for our past struggle, our present predicament and our future agenda. Thus, as Gary Younge points out in his recent book, a new Dr. King was constructed

This new Dr. King didn’t call into question poverty. But he did have a dream. This new Dr. King stopped wondering, as the living King once did, why people pay water bills in a world that’s two-thirds water. But still, he had a dream. This new Dr. King never again mentioned the right of black workers to form unions and negotiate for their dignity and livelihoods. But this new guy, he had a dream.

The Dreamer as we know him today bears little resemblance to the man who was murdered in 1968. The Dreamer was constructed out of whole cloth by the same powerful media institutions which built King up in 1965 and 66, which denounced and slandered him 67 and 68, and made him a useful saint after his death. King never lived to be forty, so the Dreamer has already lived longer than the man, and for the powerful, has been far more useful. It’s no mistake that a single speech in 1963 commemorated this week, was chosen by the establishment to represent the man’s life work, and to negate it.

Well, I guess I should end with a happier link since I’ve given you enough depressing ones!

Here ya go, h/t Still4Hill — via ThoughtCatalog, 33 Badass Hillary Clinton Quotes That Prove Why She Should Be Our First Female President. Though, I have to say, I think I could come up with a better list. LOL. I just may have to do that in a separate post when I’m feeling better.

Alright Sky Dancers, your turn. Let’s hear what’s on your blogger list this Sunday in the comments.


Wednesday Wonk: Not Ready to Make Nice, March on Washington, and the Achy Breaky Patriarchy

1268899_212689705572726_66084798_oFasten your seat belts, newsjunkies. I’m feeling very much like Natalie Maines in her song/video, “Not Ready to Make Nice.”

I have a couple questions for us as a society.

To the right [via NYC Light Brigade]: The night before the 50th anniversary celebrations of the March on Washington, the NYC Light Brigade travelled to DC to shed light on Dr. Martin Luther King’s message to End Militarism, and contrast that with the current administration’s drone warfare policy which has resulted in the death of untold civilians throughout the world.

For what exactly are we marching and showing solidarity for this 28th of August in the year 2013?

I know it’s terribly disturbing-of-all-things-party-unity, which is all the more reason why I must ask you all to think seriously about what happens to a feminist dream deferred?

What feminist dream, you ask?

Let’s go with the Hollie McNish spoken word poem I shared with y’all a couple months ago. To refresh, here’s both the transcript and video (scroll down for the latter)… I know it’s long, but it’s worth it (especially if you just scroll down, click play, and listen for yourself):

Poem: Reverse:

I would love to reverse things for a day
A short break for those who say its all ok
I’d have an MTV where every male celebrity was dancing on a pole in pants
While all the female, fully clothed, stood back, just singing
As they can, cos that’s their talent
For just one day
The women’s lifestyle section of the magazine rack stands would
See a sea of choice of topics
Not just cooking, home or looking grand
But politics and sport and art, design and science, top shelf porn perhaps
And watch as men look all forlorn and wonder why their lifestyle section is full of naked pouting men on cover
Licking gadgets in their underwear
For just one day I swear I’d scream
To see young male celebrities standing on tv next 2 50 year old female copresenters
Watching as this token eye candy giggles politely at everything she says
I said for just one day I would pay to see a newspaper take a double spread about what the president eats for tea
ten pages to talk about David Camerons choice of socks and hand cream
While focusing on Kate Middletons degree and how she feel about personal freedom
Next to images of Price Williams top ten jackets worn this Summer
For just one day I’d read the sports pages and undercover news reporting without watching as men gawp at 18 year old tits while I’m trying to make the point that women can be more than this
And page three licks should be in specialist magazines not newspapers anyone can grab and read and
For just one day I wonder what would happen
If there were airbrushed half dressed posed male teens on the front of every women’s magazine and airbrushed half dressed posed male teens on the front of every mans magazine
And airbrushed half dressed posed male teens on the front of every shop window
And airbrushed half dressed posed male teens on the front of every tv screen
And loads of fully dressed women in photos everywhere
Cameras staring at their faces in shoulder shots, their wrinkles photoshopped deeper like every male magazine man feature
For just one day
Music award ceremonies would award
Rihanna for her singing
And think about not giving awards to Chris brown
And women with amazing voices would be awarded for their amazing voices and they would show their amazing voices on stage by singing
And Men with amazing voices would be awarded for their amazing voices and they would show their amazing voices on stage by singing whilst also shaking their crotch and pretending to shag the floor, snogging other men with amazing voices while dancing around poles in gold stringed jock straps and swimming trunks
And lunging forward
And bending over with cameras pointed at their arses
For just one day I’d go to parties where the women, like the men, dressed for the weather and walked the high street to the club in coats and jumpers as the rain and snow fell down
For just one day
And for just one day
I might those men around me say:
For fuck sake,
I don’t like gay porn so why do I have to watch naked fucking men all day
I might hear those men say
Is it really ok to show two men in g strings pretending to fuck one another in a dance routine on X factor at 7 oclock in front of my sons
And I might hear those men say
Is it not enough that he is an amazing singer or rapper or songwriter and musician, why does have to wear a flashing crocodile toothed jock strap everytime he performs on stage
And I might hear those men say
Maybe, I might hear those men say,
Ok, I get it,
You’re not just on your period.
Perhaps you have a point.
Maybe you’re not just jealous of her tits
Maybe there’s more to this than you being annoyed by the way women are portrayed in the media.
And for just one day
I might wake up and not worry about my daughter growing up to be a women in this place where newspapers prey on teenage tits and tell me this is all ok
For just one day.
I’d like to see what those men who mock me say
If everything was the other way around.

So, what happens to this feminist dream deferred exactly?

If you guessed the Miley Cyrus[-Robin Thicke] Twerk performance at the VMAs on Sunday night, ding ding ding, you’d be correct.

I swear to Durga, I was just here on Sky Dancing not but a few weeks ago posting up women-powered parodies of Robin Thicke’s Blurred BS and his even more ridiculous claims to be the founder of a new feminist movement.

Let’s revisit Hollie McNish for a second, though — specifically:

Licking gadgets in their underwear

And bending over with cameras pointed at their arses

Ponder the entire poem and those two lines in particular, spoken by McNish nearly a year ago.

Compare to present-day Twerkgate, pretty much obsessed with Miley Cyrus and not-so-much Robin Thicke’s longstanding nonsense.

Then read this sexologist’s two cents on the 2013 MTV VMA’s:

Dear Society,

If you think a woman in a tan vinyl bra and underwear, grabbing her crotch and grinding up on a dance partner is raunchy, trashy, and offensive but you don’t think her dance partner is raunchy, trashy, or offensive as he sings a song about “blurred” lines of consent and propagating rape culture, then you may want to reevaluate your acceptance of double standards and your belief in stereotypes about how men vs. women “should” and are “allowed” to behave.
Sincerely,

Dr. Jill

Any questions?

(Hint: The problem starts with a P ends with a Y and rhymes with Achy Breaky….and don’t even get me started on those creepy Vanity Fair photos her father Billy Ray Cyrus posed for with daughter Miley…if that doesn’t say Father failure, I don’t know what else much will.)

Now, let’s take a look at another late August milestone/anniversary, August 26, 1970 [via Haymarket Books]:

1185746_595393833844199_827582056_nThe Women’s Strike for Equality was a National strike which took place in the US on August 26, 1970—the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment. The rally was sponsored by the National Organization for Women (NOW). Defying mounted police, almost 50,000 marched down NY City’s Fifth Avenue. Dutch women marched on the US embassy in Amsterdam to show support, while French feminists demonstrated at the Arc de Triomphe, carrying a banner that read, “More Unknown Than the Unknown Soldier: His Wife.”

The strike primarily focused on equal opportunity in the workforce, political rights for women, and social equality in relationships such as marriage. It also addressed the right to have an abortion and free childcare.

In the words of the late Dr. King himself:

All we say to America is, “Be true to what you said on paper.”

When is America going to be true to what it said on paper? All men created equal and a more perfect union?

Right now, in the year 2013, our Texas khaleesi Wendy Davis is collecting our signatures in support of Equal Pay for Equal Work.

So, I ask of you, why are we still in the same eternal battle? Women’s rights vs. War?

Alice Paul and Herstory, anyone?:

National Woman’s Party:

Alice Paul was chair of a major committee (congressional) of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) within a year, in her mid-twenties, but a year later (1913) Alice Paul and others withdrew from the NAWSA to form the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage. This organization evolved into the National Woman’s Party in 1917, and Alice Paul’s leadership was key to this organization’s founding and future.

Alice Paul and Militancy:

In England, Alice Paul had taken part in more radical protests for woman suffrage, including participating in the hunger strikes. She brought back this sense of militancy, and back in the U.S. she organized protests and rallies and ended up imprisoned three times.

[…]

Equal Rights Amendment (ERA):

After the 1920 victory for the federal amendment, Paul became involved in the struggle to introduce and pass an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The Equal Rights Amendment was finally passed in Congress in 1970 and sent to the states to ratify. However, the number of states necessary never ratified within the specified time limit and the Amendment failed.

Alice Paul and Peace:

Paul also was active in the Peace movement, stating at the outbreak of World War II that if women had helped to end World War I, the second war would not have been necessary.

And, in the direct words of the Iron Jawed Angel herself:

Mr. President how long must women wait to get their liberty? Let us have the rights we deserve.

Women’s Liberation Now.

Not World War III.

What is going on in Syria is harrowing.

There’s also a humanitarian crisis right here in these United States of America.

In the words of the late Coretta Scott King:

If American women would increase their voting turnout by ten percent, I think we would see an end to all of the budget cuts in programs benefiting women and children.

In the words of Dr. Dorothy Height (from her memoir Open Wide the Freedom Gates, p. 200-1):

As economic pressures tightened, the black woman found herself trapped in a triple bind of racism, sexism, and poverty.

America, be true to what you said on paper. And, connect some dots already.

If it’s not Miley’s buttcheek, it’s Rihanna. If it’s not Rihanna, it’s Britney. If it’s not Britney, it’s Janet Jackson’s tit.

If it’s not Janet Jackson, it’s Honey Boo Boo Child and her mom or whatever their names are. (I thought we loved those very same characters in Little Miss Sunshine, but I guess that was only for Hollywood’s benefit.)
If it’s not the Honey Boo Boos, it’s the entire Real Housewives franchise cast of Bravo TV trying to keep up with those evil Kardashian women… (But, never ever Ryan Seacrest…)

Or, it’s Paula Dean:1234979_435679589881967_1417955754_nI’ve tried to connect some dots and vignettes here for you, that I think present a social and political commentary/context for discussing what we should be marching for–I’m going to stop here, because if I haven’t made my point clear by now, you’re probably not reading anymore anyway ;)

Also, I want to stop just short of offering my explicit answers so you can fill in the blank(s) yourself, below in the comments:

Today I march/pledge my solidarity for                                                               .

And, with that I’m going to turn the soapbox over to you Sky Dancers. Do your thing!

Sisterhood…Solidarity, forever.

Oh, and… Hillary 2016:


Caturday: Same Love

581797_431533186963274_214555754_nHappy Caturday, newsjunkies!

I see “Batman” is still trending on my social media feeds for the second day in a row. Gahhhh. Please alert me when the next super-shero blockbuster is due out, thanks.

Honestly, I’ve been super busy this week and really out of the loop news-wise, and even just feminist junkie wise this week, so y’all please chime in, in the comments, with whatever you’ve got on your blogging list this weekend. All I know is I still believe in equal rights for every last person on this earth! And, I really love this graphic from “Have a Gay Day” on fb.

Speaking of human rights for ALL–I’ll start with a super depressing story on one of the most marginalized and forgotten populations I can think of, then build my way up to some more inspiring stories.

So here it is, read it and, literally, weep… First Nations Women Are Being Sold into the Sex Trade On Ships Along Lake Superior:

Native women, children, and unfortunately even babies are being trafficked in the sex trade on freighters crossing the Canadian and U.S. border on Lake Superior between Thunder Bay, Ontario, and Duluth Minnesota.

Next month, Christine Stark—a student with the University of Minnesota, Duluth, who is completing her Master’s degree in social work—will complete an examination of the sex trade in Minnesota, in which she compiles anecdotal, first hand accounts of Aboriginal women, particularly from northern reservations, being trafficked across state, provincial, and international lines to be forced into servitude in the sex industry on both sides of the border.

Stark’s paper stems from a report she co-wrote, published by the Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Centre in Duluth in 2011, entitled, “The Garden of Truth: The Prostitution and Trafficking of Native Women in Minnesota.” Through the process of researching and penning this report, Stark kept hearing stories of trafficking in the harbours and on the freighters of Duluth and Thunder Bay. The numerous stories and the gradual realization that this was an issue decades, perhaps centuries, in the making, compelled Stark to delve further into what exactly is taking place.

She decided to conduct an exploratory study, “simply because we have these stories circulating and we wanted to gather information and begin to understand what has happened and what currently is happening around the trafficking of Native American and First Nations women on the ships” said Stark, in an interview with CBC Radio’s Superior Morning. “Hearing from so many Native women over generations talking about the ‘boat whores,’ prostitution on the ships or the ‘parties on the ships,’ this is something that… was really entrenched in the Native community and we wanted to collect more specific information about it.”

Through her independent research and work with the Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Centre, Stark interviewed hundreds of Native women who have been through the trauma of the Lake Superior sex trade. The stories she’s compiled are evidence of an underground industry that’s thriving on the suffering of First Nations women, which is seemingly going unchecked and underreported.

feministcatI don’t even have the energy this afternoon to rant. I’m glad Stark is researching this story. This is just so sad.

And, appalling, racist, misogynist, capitalist/classist, the whole she-bang of despicableness that is patriarchy:

In an article written for the Duluth Star Tribune, Stark describes one disturbing anecdote of an Anishinaabe woman who had just left a shelter after being beaten by her pimp—who was a wealthy, white family man. He paid her bills, rent, and the essentials for her children, but on weekends, “brought up other white men from the Cities for prostitution with Native women…he had her role play the racist ‘Indian maiden’ and ‘European colonizer’ myth with him during sex.”

Another important snippet:

I spoke with Kazia Pickard, the Director of Policy and Research with the Ontario Native Women’s Association based in Thunder Bay. Their organization has also been researching this issue. Kazia told me over email: “People assume that trafficking always takes place across international borders, however, the vast majority of people who are trafficked in Canada are indigenous women and girls from inside Canada and sometimes, as we’re now starting to understand, across the US border.”

In an earlier interview with the CBC, she also alluded to the possibility that there was trafficking taking place across borders in Southern Ontario as well. She made it clear to me that the image most people imagine when they think about “human trafficking” often isn’t accurate: “The majority of women who are trafficked in Canada are indigenous women and girls. So it’s not that you have people being trafficked across international borders in shipping containers or something like that.”

This is all too reminiscent of what I call the “stranger danger from within”… the manipulators and abusers with which women and children share a community, as opposed to the creepy guy no one ever knew:

In most cases it’s a lot more subtle. “Women may say they [have been pulled into it by] a boyfriend, there have been some reports of family members recruiting women into the sex trade… so it doesn’t appear in this sensationalized way that we may [think it is].”

All that said, there are nearly 600 aboriginal women who are currently missing or believed to have been murdered in Canada, a number the RCMP—who have are being accused of human rights abuses against aboriginal women on a monthly basis—have publicly questioned.

Well, now that I’ve sufficiently depressed you, how about a pick-me up? H/t to Joyce Arnold on this one–it’s a Bert and Ernie montage to Macklemore’s “Same Love”… Enjoy! … :

Here’s another one for smiles, just because:

lolcat

Okay keep those warm and fuzzies somewhere nearby in your spiritual reserves, because this next one is depressing again…a not-so great development on a not-good story we’ve been following here at Sky Dancing…

Fukushima Nuclear Plant Facing New Disaster:

Storage tank leak sparks fears more could follow suit
Tokyo Electric Power Company workers have detected high levels of radiation in a ditch that flows into the ocean from a leaking tank at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Japan’s nuclear watchdog said Thursday the leak could be the beginning of a new disaster – a series of leaks of contaminated water from hundreds of steel tanks holdng massive amounts of radioactive water coming from three melted reactors, as well as underground water running into reactor and turbine basements.

A new disaster? Uh, have we even resolved any of the previous disasters?!

This just sounds horrible, and I don’t want to be alarmist…I defer to experts on this stuff in our Sky Dancing community who can make better sense of all this of course, but WTF?!! Is this like a domino effect of Fukushimas? :

Tokyo Electric Power Co. says about 300,000 litres of contaminated water leaked from one of the tanks, possibly through a seam. The leak is the fifth, and worst, since last year involving tanks of the same design at the wrecked Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, raising concerns that contaminated water could begin leaking from storage tanks one after another.

“That’s what we fear the most. We must remain alert. We should assume that what has happened once could happen again, and prepare for more,” Nuclear Regulation Authority chairman Shunichi Tanaka told a news conference. “We are in a situation where there is no time to waste.” The watchdog also proposed at a weekly meeting Wednesday to raise the rating of the seriousness of the leak to level three, a “serious incident,” from level one, “an anomaly,” on an International Nuclear and Radiological event scale from zero to seven.

The watchdog urged TEPCO to step up monitoring for leaks and take precautionary measures.

Yeah, I’m not holding my breath waiting for TEPCO to do that. /sigh

I think I could use some more feminist lolcat, how about you? I really love this one:

sisterhood lol cats

And, as the trend of this post has been established, yes, I’ve got another sad one for you… via SocialistWorker, Struggling for their lives:

Orlando Sepúlveda reports from Chicago on a struggle led by immigrants whose loved ones are being denied a place on transplant lists at local hospitals.

Some of the hunger strikers at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Catholic Church  (Orlando Sepúlveda | SW)Some of the hunger strikers at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Catholic Church (Orlando Sepúlveda | SW)

IMMIGRANT RIGHTS activists in Chicago held a memorial march, followed by a daylong occupation outside Northwestern Memorial Hospital following the death of Sarai Rodriguez, a 25-year-old undocumented woman who was in critical need of a liver transplant, but had been denied by the hospital last March, according to her mother, because she was uninsured and couldn’t afford the procedure.

Once again, I’m so exhausted by this. We can and must do better. This is an inhumane system. Human beings are not illegal. Insurance is not healthcare. And, healthcare is not a privilege–it is a right.

Here’s something cool to end with on Howard Zinn’s birthday:

1233456_10151611842454677_1367831120_n“I feel very lucky to have been Howard Zinn‘s student. He was a very creative, magical teacher. He taught us how to think for ourselves, to analyze, to question what we read, and speak truth to power. He was just engaging in every way. . . .I don’t think I would have survived at Spelman in the late ’50s without Howie. But he was extraordinary. He didn’t just teach; he lived what he taught.” — Marian Wright Edelman

Continue reading this and other stories collected by the Zinn Education Project from former students in honor of Zinn’s birthday today and in honor of the impact of powerful teachers every day. Please read and share: http://bit.ly/1bQtaGI

Well, that’s what caught my eye this afternoon, Sky Dancers. Please share what’s caught yours and have a great Caturday!


Wednesday Wonk: Watch out, haters

1175623_429013850548541_816965767_nHi, I’m baaaack. How have you been, newsjunkies? As you know, a week is a whirlwind in sex and politics, so… prepare yourself for a very un-fancy link feast…starting with some items on Our Gal Gals, of course.

Wendy 2014, Hillary 2016

  • The Liberal Agenda posted the meme to the right on Tuesday. What a difference five to six years makes… with pieces like The Atlantic’s “How the Left Wing Learned to Love Hillary.”  As evidenced by Daily Kos’ hilarity in the forms of diaries titled “Hillary Clinton will be a very, very cool president” and such.
  • I really am wary of this “perceived inevitability” crap in the progressive feeding trough, though. We’ve been to that rodeo before–pass on Meet the Beast all over again. Hillary’s likely running–we see all the political movement opening the way for her to essentially be drafted into doing so. But, she’s not inevitable, thank you very much David Axelrod and co.
  • Please, remember as a true Hillary stalwart–Peter Daou–has cautioned in his “A Reader’s Guide to Anti-Hillary Themes.” Repeat after me, Sky Dancers: Hillary is not inevitable. “No matter what she says about working hard, staying focused and not taking anything for granted, detractors create this perch then try to knock her down from it.” –Daou
  • And, though I can’t see the lovely Liz Warren primarying Hillary, damn the debates we could have from a match-up of that kind would be epic and exhilarating. If only the late Stephanie Tubbs Jones were still alive (not that she would primary Hill either). Now, that would really be a primary season to savor.
  • Wonkgirl daydreams aside… I *welcome* a healthy primary contest. May the best shero win–it will only make her stronger as a candidate and Madame president. Maybe good ol’ Joe can change his name on the ballot to Robinette BidenI know, bad Wonk. Just can’t help myself. I still remember his philosopher king distinction on the campaign trail in ’08 that “girl-girls are tougher than boy-girls.” (I would link if I could find a source that wasn’t batshit rightwing. Google at your own peril. I do remember Joe Biden saying this, though. Just nobody on the left wanted to look at it because he was on the Obama ticket by then.) Seriously, I can’t wait for a healthy primary debate.
  • And, don’t forget. Before 2016, we’ve got the 2014 election cycle with which to smash and weaken the hell out of the patriarchy first. I’ve got a bunch of Stand With Texas women links up on Sisterhood of the Pink Sneaks. A very small taste, via Burnt Orange Report: Texas Democratic Organizations Urge Wendy Davis to Run for Governor. Draft Wendy. Draft Hillary.
  • I know, we’re all preparing for the onslaught of backlash. We’ve already seen some claws come out–iron my shirt slapping Hillary and such. I know Fox News et stupid al. still can’t shut up about the Weapons of Mass Destruction they found in Benghazi. Channeling my best Kiki McLean here to say: They’re STUPID. And, they are bleeding anybody who doesn’t have political derangement psychosis. Let them eat their Joker cake…
  • If they think Hillary fatigue is a concern this far out, they ought to actually worry about Hillary/Woman hater fatigue. The more desperate they get in their respective Hillary and Obama derangement, the more they will “radicalize hundreds of thousands of us” that will turn into millions and millions of us scary hairy feminists who “don’t give a flying frigidaire about your Boehners, Weiners, or Spitzers” at the national ballot box or elsewhere. Or, you know. Just normal everyday people who don’t want a bunch of Newt Gingrich clones on stupid-steroids running this country into the ground with a Second Contract against America.

Chris Christie: Teanderthal extraordinaire

  • Flashback to last August:

“For instance, I hear people talk all the time about female voters. I think it’s condescending to women to say we have to have a different message for women than we have with men. I’m going to lay out a message for our party tonight [at the Republican convention] that I think will resonate just as much with women voters as it will with men voters.”

–Chris Christie

Herstory

Be-YOU-tiful, Sky dancers! Have at it in the comments. I’ll talk to y’all later tonight.

Right now, I’m off to go take care of a few things before my doctor sister’s White Coat ceremony this evening. This is the girl who rolled her little eyes at me for making her do “really hard” book reports on pandas when I played teacher and she, reluctant/only teacher’s pet. Well, look at her now. My Little Sweetheart forever, all grown up! I may be older than her by a gazillion years, but she inspires me to keep going…

…not unlike Hillary or Harriet Tubman. (“If you hear the dogs…keep going.” –Hills, DNC 2008.)


Saturday: Smash the Patriarchy, Extinct Political Birds, Blurred Feminism, and Mental Illness as Rebellion

extinct_birdsNewsflash: Conservative dodo bird Jonah Goldberg finds Hillary Clinton boring.

(So boring, in fact, that recall Goldberg and/or his wife ghostwrote fed stale old anti-Hillary canards about tea, cookies, and bra-burning for Palin’s America by Heart.)

In other news…

Keep your popcorn bowls handy, newsjunkies, as we continue to watch the heads explode on all the dodos.

Next up… Two patriarchy-smashing parodies of the misogynist-yet-insidiously catchy earworm that is Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.” I recommend taking the time to view the videos below at some point this weekend if you haven’t seen them already. (Especially after Thicke went on the Today show this week claiming his original track to be “great art” and a “feminist movement in itself.”)

First up, Mod Carousel’s gender role reversal “Sexy Boys”:

From the video’s description:

Mod Carousel, a Seattle based boylesque troupe, does a sexy parody of Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines music video.

It’s our opinion that most attempts to show female objectification in the media by swapping the genders serve more to ridicule the male body than to highlight the extent to which women get objectified and do everyone a disservice. We made this video specifically to show a spectrum of sexuality as well as present both women and men in a positive light, one where objectifying men is more than alright and where women can be strong and sexy without negative repercussions.

The other video is Melinda Hughes’ “Lame Lines”:

From the lyrics, as transcribed in Hughes’ youtube description:

You think I want it
I really don’t want it
Please get off it
You’re a douchebag
You’re a little flacid
Your dance is spastic
Should go get tested
I hate your lame lines
You think I want it
I really don’t want it
Please get off it
You’re a douchebag
Hey don’t you grab me
Look at me, I’m classy
I said don’t grab me

There are a lot of other parodies out there, but these two had a distinctly gender bender vibe to them. So, what do you think Sky Dancers? Did these versions succeed?

Switching gears a bit, here’s an interesting piece from AlterNet by Bruce E. Levine, called “Why Life in America Can Literally Drive You Insane” with the byline “it’s not just Big Pharma” underneath:

In “The Epidemic of Mental Illness: Why?” (New York Review of Books, 2011), Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, discusses over-diagnosis of psychiatric disorders, pathologizing of normal behaviors, Big Pharma corruption of psychiatry, and the adverse effects of psychiatric medications. While diagnostic expansionism and Big Pharma certainly deserve a large share of the blame for this epidemic, there is another reason.

A June 2013 Gallup poll revealed that 70% of Americans hate their jobs or have “checked out” of them. Life may or may not suck any more than it did a generation ago, but our belief in “progress” has increased expectations that life should be more satisfying, resulting in mass disappointment. For many of us, society has become increasingly alienating, isolating and insane, and earning a buck means more degrees, compliance, ass-kissing, shit-eating, and inauthenticity. So, we want to rebel. However, many of us feel hopeless about the possibility of either our own escape from societal oppression or that political activism can create societal change. So, many of us, especially young Americans, rebel by what is commonly called mental illness.

Ah, yes, I believe I called it when I first coined the phrase, “Political Affective Disorder.”

It’s a long read, and not one I can yet say I fully endorse or not, particularly on the issue of diagnosis and the author’s attitude toward the DSM as nothing more than “pseudoscience.”

As a student of the psychological discipline, I am still taking my sweet time to form an opinion on the DSM-5 and the food fight between its proponents and detractors. The DSM in all its versions thusfar has been far from a perfect venture, but having  gotten to hear directly from one of the Work Group chairs that was at the frontlines of changes for her respective category at a mental health conference last month, I have to say it makes a difference to hear from the horse’s mouth the reasoning that went into each change, as opposed to reading about it in an op-ed. That’s a rant for another time, though!

Suffice it to say, Levine’s essay is thought-provoking and raises important points for debate. I have long-thought there was a social rebellion aspect to mental illness. (Cassandra, anyone?)

Excerpt from the piece, with some relevant survey trends and research stats on the current state of the American Dream/Nightmare:

Returning to that June 2013 Gallup survey, “The State of the American Workplace: Employee Engagement,” only 30% of workers “were engaged, or involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their workplace.” In contrast to this “actively engaged group,” 50% were “not engaged,” simply going through the motions to get a paycheck, while 20% were classified as “actively disengaged,” hating going to work and putting energy into undermining their workplace. Those with higher education levels reported more discontent with their workplace.

How engaged are we with our schooling? Another Gallup poll “The School Cliff: Student Engagement Drops With Each School Year” (released in January 2013), reported that the longer students stay in school, the less engaged they become. The poll surveyed nearly 500,000 students in 37 states in 2012, and found nearly 80% of elementary students reported being engaged with school, but by high school, only 40% reported being engaged. As the pollsters point out, “If we were doing right by our students and our future, these numbers would be the absolute opposite. For each year a student progresses in school, they should be more engaged, not less.”

Life clearly sucks more than it did a generation ago when it comes to student loan debt. According to American Student Assistance’s “Student Debt Loan Statistics,” approximately 37 million Americans have student loan debt. The majority of borrowers still paying back their loans are in their 30s or older. Approximately two-thirds of students graduate college with some education debt. Nearly 30% of college students who take out loans drop out of school, and students who drop out of college before earning a degree struggle most with student loans. As of October 2012, the average amount of student loan debt for the Class of 2011 was $26,600, a 5% increase from 2010. Only about 37% of federal student-loan borrowers between 2004 and 2009 managed to make timely payments without postponing payments or becoming delinquent.

In addition to the pain of jobs, school, and debt, there is increasingly more pain of social isolation. A major study reported in the American Sociological Review in 2006, “Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks Over Two Decades,” examined Americans’ core network of confidants (those people in our lives we consider close enough to trust with personal information and whom we rely on as a sounding board). Authors reported that in 1985, 10% of Americans said that they had no confidants in their lives; but by 2004, 25% of Americans stated they had no confidants in their lives. This study confirmed the continuation of trends that came to public attention in sociologist Robert Putnam’s 2000 book Bowling Alone.

Oh dear, this makes me want to get into a dialectic with me and myself about Tonnies’ small town Gemeinschaft and big city Gesselschaft and Durkheim’s Anomie.

I’ll spare you and just quote another paragraph from Levine’s piece on Alter Net before I close:

The reality is that with enough helplessness, hopelessness, passivity, boredom, fear, isolation, and dehumanization, we rebel and refuse to comply. Some of us rebel by becoming inattentive. Others become aggressive. In large numbers we eat, drink and gamble too much. Still others become addicted to drugs, illicit and prescription. Millions work slavishly at dissatisfying jobs, become depressed and passive aggressive, while no small number of us can’t cut it and become homeless and appear crazy. Feeling misunderstood and uncared about, millions of us ultimately rebel against societal demands, however, given our wherewithal, our rebellions are often passive and disorganized, and routinely futile and self-destructive.

taintor-idiot-no-longerI can attest to that much personally, having gone through the self-destructive, passive slow suicide of anorexic rebellion in my adolescence and into my twenties and the process of recovery and trying to reclaim my identity now into my thirties (as a patriarchy-smashing-archery-goddess-witchy-woman-feminist of course!)

Give Levine’s article a read in full if you have the time. I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts, especially from Dr. Bostonboomer, our resident psychologist.

Alright, well that’s all I’ve got for you this morning.

What’s got your blogger juices going this Saturday, Sky Dancers? Let us have a listen in the comments, and have a great weekend!


Throwback Thursday: Those ‘Dog Days of Summer’ primary debates

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Democratic presidential hopefuls Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., talk onstage during a break in the ABC News Democratic candidates debate Sunday at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo)

Good evening, newsjunkies!

Since it’s the first of August, my memory has jogged back to those primary debates from way back when, the ones before the total loss of my innocence about the Democratic party as a young whippersnapper 20-something — one who Hillary Clinton was starting to win over in those debates with her masterful debate skills and just the simple plain-as-day fact that not only was Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton the diametric opposite of the BITCH warmonger stereotype that the Huffington Post, Daily Kos, et al. had been feeding in the trough up until then…But, also the growing evidence with each debate that she was the best candidate standing on that stage. Time and time again, and the more the good ol’ boy network ganged up on her, the stronger she became…sheer baptism by fire! And, myself–a radical feminist in the making. Like Sarah Slamen told our Texas ‘all asshat, no cattle’ legislature: “Thank you, for being you, Texas legislature. You have radicalized hundreds of thousands of us…” . The experience of 2007-2008 radicalized my feminism… or at least, cemented a process that had already started to unfold as I came of age politically.

Hillary+Clinton+Democratic+Presidential+Candidates+Ah0aR5uFuxwx

In a sea of male empty suits, the workhorse in the pantsuit with the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt at her side. (Click pic for HQ)

Mind you, I did so in a time where a faux cowboy running off of nepotism and Forrest Gump like charm first took the election Al Gore essentially dropped on the floor, with the media laying banana peels on the floor for him to trip over every step of the way. Four years later, Cowboy Clueless unarguably claimed the election from one John F. Kerry who let it slip clear through his hands as he windsurfed his way through being swiftboated. I saw the worst of presidential matchups and media shenannigans in both of the first presidential elections in which I was old enough to vote–and here came Hillary Clinton, like a breath of fresh air. Not a saint by any means, but a Joan of the American political arc nonetheless compared to the fallen over cliff-view I’d seen in the decade prior. She laughed, she cried, and she honed her debate points like a laser as the chatter of the male suits on stage became even more obvious for the shallow, insular horse manure it was.

I’ve been poring over transcripts from the summer of ’07 for the past hour or so, for a throwback moment to spotlight tonight, and here’s what I settled on…Hillary’s response to the closing question asking all the candidates, what the decisive moment was in their life, with George S. opening the final round by saying, “You know, presidential biographers are always looking at the turning point in a life, the moment where an ordinary person went on the path to the presidency, the decisive moment.” Hillary, August 19th, 2007, Des Moines, in the fateful state of Iowa:

CLINTON: Well, when I was growing up I didn’t think I would run for president, but I could not be standing here without the women’s movement, without generations of women who broke down barriers, the civil rights movement that gave women and people of color the feeling that they were really part of the American dream.

So I owe the opportunity that I have here today to many people; some of whom are known to history and many who aren’t.

But more personally, I owe it to my mother, who never got a chance to go to college, who had a very difficult childhood, but who gave me a belief that I could do whatever I set my mind…

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that is the last word.

hillary_dorothy

…and the spirit of Dorothy Rodham living through her.

All eyes on Iowa 2016.

A few Hillary-links for you to peruse tonight:

At the Golden Heart  Awards on October 16,  Michael Kors will present his inaugural award for Outstanding Community Service to Hillary Clinton who clearly needs a museum in which to store and display the many awards and honors she continues to collect.

FILMMAKER and Academy Award winning documentarian Charles H. Ferguson has signed on to a CNN Films project about Hillary Rodham Clinton, which will have a theatrical release before it hits television.

This is a double-edged sword, because the scrutiny Hillary will receive will be more intense than her Republican rivals or a Democratic challenger, who will likely get to throw everything at her. While she will be expected to be above it all, starting with not punching down, as the saying goes, acting presidential while working to get the presidential nomination for the first time in American history.

CNN will surely be once again dubbed the “Clinton news network” whether they stay objective, accusations of going soft inspiring them to do the opposite. The cross promotion of the feature on CNN is likely to set Republican teeth on edge.

For women and girls of all ages it’s not possible to hedge or try to be coy about what this means. It is an exciting moment in American history, because women have waited a long time to see such building fanfare over a potential female presidential candidate with the viability and star power of Hillary Clinton. She’s getting the exact same due that a man of her stature would demand and it’s been a long time in waiting for this moment.

Documentarian Charles Ferguson already has one Oscar to his credit, for a movie about the financial meltdown (“Inside Job”) and another Oscar nomination for his film about the Iraq War (“No End in Sight.”) He’s now going to be making a full-length documentary about Hillary Clinton. Given his track record, I doubt it will be a puff-piece.

As for that biopic, it’s very pointedly going to be called “Rodham.” Directed by James Ponsoldt, whose film “The Spectacular Now” opens this weekend, “Rodham” will focus on Hillary’s earlier years. In the Watergate era, Hillary Rodham was in her mid-20’s and working with a group of fellow D.C. lawyers on how to legally impeach a President. The movie will focus on how she wrestled with her personal and professional prospects: a brilliant political career in D.C. versus moving to no-count Arkansas to be with the man she loved. We all know what path she ultimately chose but a lot of us may wonder why she made that choice.

  • Thinking now is as good a time as any to post this primer Peter Daou wrote in April of this year, for all your Hillary diehard ninja needs in the coming election cycles– A Reader’s Guide to Anti-Hillary Themes:

Now, as the floodgates open on 2016 speculation, and despite her high standing in public polls, commentary about Hillary Clinton is following predictable patterns. Several pervasive anti-Hillary themes are being dusted off for yet another political cycle; these are carefully-crafted and patently false talking points designed to dehumanize and demean her. Many of the themes are rooted in the sexism that permeates our culture.

During the 2008 campaign, under withering fire for allegedly being, among other things, too ambitious, too polarizing, and willing to “say or do anything to win,” Hillary refused to play into stereotypes. She told her staff, “I don’t want to succeed because I’m a woman, I want to succeed because I’m the best at what I do.” Whatever she chooses to do in the future, as a former advisor and current supporter, I sincerely hope she is judged based on her actions, not on other people’s inventions. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of anti-Hillary themes so that readers, viewers and listeners recognize them for what they are.

1. SHE WILL DO ANYTHING TO WIN
Rooted in decades-old Clinton conspiracy theories from the fringe, this catch-all attack has been adopted by mainstream critics and is designed to portray her as unscrupulous, unethical and even sinister.

2. SHE IS TOO AMBITIOUS
Another way of saying she doesn’t know a woman’s ‘place,’ this is designed to undermine her achievements and to frame her actions and goals in an unsavory light.

3. SHE IS TOO POLARIZING
Any popular figure generates strong feelings, but in Hillary Clinton’s case, it is ascribed to her as a negative personal trait. The irony is that it’s most often peddled by people who are busy bashing her, thus creating the very polarization they are lamenting.

4. SHE IS CALCULATING
A way to strip her of humanity and to deny that she has genuine feelings, this portrays her as a machine, methodically scheming to attain predetermined goals.

5. SHE IS DISINGENUOUS
Used disingenuously by people who want to call her a liar but are too timid.

6. SHE IS INEVITABLE
No matter what she says about working hard, staying focused and not taking anything for granted, detractors create this perch then try to knock her down from it.

7. SHE REPRESENTS THE PAST
Translation: she is old. Ageism in various forms.

8. HER CLOTHING
Often used in faux-jest, it is still a potent and all-too-common way to undercut a successful woman by highlighting appearance over accomplishments.

9. HER HAIR
See #8.

10. HER HUSBAND
When all else fails, attack her family.

I just LOVE this list, it is so perfectly reflects the experience of 2007-2008.

And, with that…

This is your Thursday evening/late owl overnight thread, and it’s an open one for you to use until Dakinikat’s Friday morning post. Do your thing in the comments, Sky Dancers!


Saturday: Late Lunch Reads

1016966_420781081371818_990974132_nGood afternoon, newsjunkies.

By late lunch, I really mean a) I’m eating from a box of Annie’s Homegrown cheddar bunnies, and b) this time last week, JJ aka Minkoff Minx and I were happily squished together in a restaurant booth in Atlanta waiting for our sandwiches to come out (which took forever to do so; I think this was the universe giving us more time together…)

JJ had an even bigger heart in person than I already thought she would–somewhat an impossible feat. I can only hope know this is just the start of many more Sky Dancer luncheons and meetups and such! (How does a Winter 2013 Sky Dancers convention sound, y’all? Or, maybe Spring Break 2014?)

The entire conversation last Saturday afternoon was such a blast, between JJ’s mama, her daughter Bebe, my younger sister Megan, and the two of us.

At one point, in my typical absentminded and inarticulate fashion, I stumbled trying to explain that we feminists hold our movement to a standard that I don’t think other social justice movements (of which I consider myself a member!) necessarily do. We struggle to find the perfect hypothetical woman to carry out all our diverse views on womanhood–when really all we need is a woman who lives her choices in action, and supports the choices of others. (Y’all know what comes next…drumroll please…)

Hillary 2016!

Anyhow, here are a few ‘easy-over’ links for you to graze on while you peruse the net this afternoon…

First up, if you haven’t seen it yet, Maxipad-gate: Now I Know Exactly How To Talk To Dudes About Periods! [via Upworthy]

I’m just going to excerpt here:

So this guy watched a maxipad commercial and thought that periods were the best time EVER in a woman’s life. Then, he found out that wasn’t true. So naturally, he took to Facebook and expressed his thoughts, which you can see below.

Then, the (fictional) CEO of Bodyform decided to respond to his unfortunate misunderstanding of the way the human body works.

Here’s the “Bodyform CEO” response:

Sardonic awesomeness, right? When I saw it, I just knew I had to post it here. Apologies if it’s a repeat of anything posted on the frontpage or the comments already. I’m still all tortoise-like slowly but surely catching up on last week and this week at Sky Dancing. So I should probably stipulate that this disclaimer applies to all my links :)

Next up, an -interesting- read via New Zealands “stuff.co.nz” network of publications, in which Rosemary McLeod examines the last fifty  years of feminism after Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique: What women wanted – and what they got.

I’m going to tease you a tiny snippet and withhold my opinions of the piece for a moment so I can hear some unvarnished feedback from y’all. I really hope you take the time to read it in its entirety and comment below if you have the chance this weekend–as ever, I look forward to hearing what Sky Dancers have to say on this topic!

Teaser, just to give you a taste:

THE POWER STRUCTURE

In 1963 there was no Ministry of Women’s Affairs.

QUESTION: What does the Ministry of Women’s Affairs do?

MORE QUESTIONS:

• What would Betty Friedan make of Madonna, Tracey Emin and Lady Gaga?
• Would she have enjoyed Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, or Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill?
• If she were young today would she have a pierced nipple/clitoris/tongue?
• What would her tattoo be, and where would she have it?
• Where did suburban neurosis go?
• Why are twice as many women as men currently on antidepressants?
• Why do three times as many men as women commit suicide?
• How are university women’s studies courses faring?

And, finally–a Hillary-bite! NBC to air Hillary Clinton miniseries [via Gary Levin in USA Today]:

Diane Lane will star, and the action will begin in 1998.

clinton
(Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)

Story Highlights

  • Hillary miniseries is one of several planned by NBC
  • Diane Lane will star
  • NBC expects to air it before her presidential candidacy is formally announced

As Hillary Clinton is widely expected to make a second presidential run in 2016, NBC is planning a sure-to-be-controversial miniseries about the former first lady and secretary of State.

Diane Lane (Unfaithful) will star in the project, which has yet to cast an actor to play the former president. But it will begin in 1998, midway through Bill Clinton’s second term, when the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal engulfed the family.

Courtney Hunt (Frozen River) will write and direct the four-hour project.

Will NBC run afoul of campaign laws that require equal time for presidential candidates? Not if the network gets the project on in a hurry.

“She’s not going to probably declare her candidacy for two more years,” NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt said, “so this could well have aired before that.”

Oh wow! This reminds me of Obama and the West Wing storyline that preceded his election. Oh WOW. I’m kind of gathering my thoughts here on this, so…

I’m going to turn the comment sections over to y’all. Have at it!