I decided to focus this post on something other than the debt, deficit, sequester obsession that has taken over American politics, so I’m writing about a book I read in high school that changed my life forever. Feel free to use this as an open thread, and post your links freely in the comments.
This week marked the 50th anniversary of a book that truly changed my life, The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan. It was first published on February 19, 1963. I read it in paperback when I was a junior in high school, probably in early 1964.
I already knew I didn’t want to be a housewife like my mom, but there weren’t many alternatives for girls in those days. Ideally, you were supposed to get married and have children and forget about having a career or focusing on your own unique interests. You were supposed to enjoy cleaning house and supporting your husband’s career and if you didn’t enjoy it, there was something wrong with you–you weren’t a real woman.
The main reason for girls to go to college was to find a husband. Oh sure, you could study and learn about things that interest you, but that would all go by the wayside once you found a man. After that, it was all about him. If you couldn’t find a husband, then you might have to work. You could be a teacher, a nurse, or a secretary–that was about it. Women who insisted on being college professors, doctors, lawyers were few and far between and they had a tough time of it.
Then Betty Friedan’s book came out, and it hit a nerve for millions of American women and girls, including me. Here’s the famous opening paragraph:
“The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the 20th century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night—she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question—‘Is this all?’”
Friedan called it “the problem with no name.”
As I read the book, I began to develop more sympathy for my mother’s plight. During World War II, women had been called upon to go to work to support the war effort and replace men who had been drafted or had enlisted in the military. But when the men came back, they needed the jobs and women were expected to go back to their homes and be satisfied with doing housework, child rearing, decorating, and entertaining for no pay. Friedan wrote about how “experts” had produced reams of propaganda in the effort to get women to find joy and fulfillment in being housewives and mothers. The “feminist mystique” for Friedan said “that the highest value and the only commitment for women is the fulfillment of their own femininity.”
I’ve told this story before, but when I was a senior in high school I wrote an essay for my English class called “Women Are People Too.” My male teacher was somewhat taken aback by my arguments, but he still asked me to read my paper aloud in class. I was jeered and mock for it, of course. Later my economics teacher–a true leftist–found out about the essay and read it in my economic class. Today it seems strange, but most of the other students in my school were horrified by the notion of women being equal to men.
My father, an English professor, had a woman colleague Lucille C.–a full professor who had never married. My mother said that most men would be intimidated by her brilliance and success. Anyway, when I told Lucille about how all the other kids were making fun of me for my essay, she told me to tell them I was a member of FOMA, which stood for “Future Old Maids of America.” I loved it!
Much has changed since 1963. Women now assume they have a right to an education and a career as a well as the right to choose (if they can afford it) whether to stay home with children or work outside the home. But as we have seen in the past four plus years, misogyny is alive and well in the good ol’ USA, and we still have a very long way to go to achieve anything like real gender equality.
Carlene Bauer spoke for me when she wrote at The New York Observer:
When Friedan writes that early feminists “had to prove that women were human,” it is hard not to feel a shock of recognition and indict our own moment as well, especially after the election that just passed. But American women still find themselves struggling against a strangely virulent, insidious misogyny. If our culture truly thought women were human, 19 states would not have enacted provisions to restrict abortion last year. There would be no question whether to renew the Violence Against Women Act. Women would not make 77 cents to every man’s dollar, and make less than our male counterparts even in fields where we dominate. We wouldn’t have terms like “legitimate rape” or “personhood.” Women who decided not to have children would not be called “selfish,” as if they were themselves children who had a problem with sharing. If our culture truly allowed them to have strong, complex, contradictory feelings and believed they were sexual creatures for whom pleasure was a biological right, perhaps adult women would not be escaping en masse into badly written fantasy novels about teenage girls being ravished by vampires.
Bauer also noted that some problems with the book, most notably Friedan’s homophobia.
This book…should seem thrillingly, relievedly quaint. It does not. But it is surprisingly boring in spots—there are many moments where you can see the women’s magazine writer in Friedan giving herself over to breathless exhortation—and astoundingly homophobic. At one point Friedan rails against “the homosexuality that is spreading like a murky smog over the American scene.” Friedan has been criticized for not being as careful a researcher, or as honest a storyteller, or as civil-rights-minded as she could have been. But perhaps these criticisms are somewhat beside the point. There are numerous passages that, if you did not know their provenance, could be mistaken for sentences written in judgment of the present day.
In looking over The Feminine Mystique recently, I realized that I had forgotten how much scholarship and psychological analysis and scholarship Friedan included in the book. She was a psychology major at Smith College, graduating summa cum laude in 1942. For example, The Feminine Mystique contained a brilliant analysis of Freudian theory and its consequences for women. Friedan argued that education at women’s colleges had been dumbed down between the 1940s and 1960s, with educators limiting courses to “subjects deemed suitable for women” and their future roles as housewives. She suggested that girls were prevented from experiencing the normative identity crisis that was the focus of Erik Erikson’s developmental theory. And she argued that women had been kept at the lower, subsistence levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
How many books truly change society in dramatic ways. Betty Friedan’s book did that. A few more links to articles on the 50th anniversary of The Feminine Mystique.
Michelle Bernard: Betty Friedan and black women: Is it time for a second look?
Mona Gable at BlogHer: How Far Have We Come?
Janet Maslin: Looking Back at a Domestic Cri de Coeur
Alexandra Petri: The Feminist Mystique
Kathi Wolfe at The Washington Blade: Power of the ‘Feminine Mystique’
A discussion at NPR’s On Point: The Feminine Mystique at 50
This isn’t specifically about The Feminine Mystique, but I think it’s relevant. Allie Grasgreen at Inside Higher Ed: ‘The Rise of Women’ — a “new book explains why women outpace men in higher education.”
Please use this as an open thread, and post anything you like in the comments.
Good Morning!! I’ve got a variety of interesting reads for you today, so let’s get right to it. Imagine the guy who wrote these words:
“Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can. No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people, sharing all the world.”
John Lennon, the long-haired British peacenik who was investigated by the FBI in 1972 after he allegedly contributed $75,000 to a group suspected of planning to disrupt the Republican National Convention later was a closet conservative….Fred Seaman, who was Lennon’s personal assistant from 1979 until the singer’s assassination in 1980, claims the former Beatle and anti-war activist favored Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter and would have voted for the Gipper if he could have.
“John, basically, made it very clear that if he were an American he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on Jimmy Carter,” Seaman told Seth Swirsky, who is making a film about the Fab Four.
Seaman said the guitarist “met Reagan back, I think, in the ’70s at some sporting event.”
“Reagan was the guy who had ordered the National Guard, I believe, to go after the young [peace] demonstrators in Berkeley, so I think that John maybe forgot about that,” Seaman told Swirsky in excerpts published in the Toronto Sun. “He did express support for Reagan, which shocked me.”
I don’t even know how to respond to this stunning news. Lennon was apparently a Reagan Democrat. If he’d lived he probably would have been an Obot too….
Confrontations between the police and protesters reached a violent climax here on Wednesday as armored riot officers beat back demonstrators and fired volleys of tear gas into the crowds who had gathered outside Parliament. Inside, lawmakers approved a package of austerity measures aimed at helping Greece avoid a default.
On the second day of a two-day general strike called by unions, rogue protesters also attacked the Finance Ministry on Syntagma Square across from Parliament and set fire to a post office in the ground floor of the building. The King George Palace, a luxury hotel that faces the square, was evacuated in the afternoon.
A police spokeswoman said that 31 police officers were injured and that 30 people had been detained, leading to 11 arrests. Local news media reported that dozens of protesters were hospitalized, and video clips showed the police striking people with their batons.
Amnesty International released a statement on Wednesday condemning the “repeated use of excessive force by police in recent demonstrations, including the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of tear gas and other chemicals against largely peaceful protesters.”
Is this what’s coming for the U.S.? At a press conference today President Obama warned Republicans to wake up and smell the tax increases (aside: I’m not holding my breath for Obama to follow through).
President Obama pressured Republicans on Wednesday to accept higher taxes as part of any plan to pare down the federal deficit, bluntly telling lawmakers that they “need to do their job” and strike a deal before the United States risks defaulting on its debt.
Declaring that an agreement is not possible without painful steps on both sides, Mr. Obama said that his party had already accepted the need for substantial spending cuts in programs it had long championed, and that Republicans must agree to end tax breaks for oil and gas companies, hedge funds and other corporate interests.
In a 67-minute news conference, Mr. Obama cast the budget battle as a tug of war between the interests of the rich — like owners of corporate jets, who he said get generous tax breaks — and those of the middle class, the elderly and children.
But Obama himself offered at best very weak tea:
Mr. Obama, under assault from Republicans on the campaign trail for an unemployment rate that remains above 9 percent, asked voters to understand that the economic recovery would take time but said that Washington, even in its current financial straits, could still do more to help. He expressed support for extending a reduction in payroll taxes for an extra year, providing loans for road and bridge-building and approving trade pacts that could help spur exports.
Big whoop. Why didn’t he fight to end the Bush tax cuts then?
Ezra Klein explains “How you know the negotiations have truly failed.”
The best advice I’ve gotten for assessing the debt-ceiling negotiations was to “watch for the day when the White House goes public.” As long as the Obama administration was refusing to attack Republicans publicly, my source said, they believed they could cut a deal. And that held true. They were quiet when the negotiations were going on. They were restrained after Eric Cantor and Jon Kyl walked out last week. Press Secretary Jay Carney simply said, “We are confident that we can continue to seek common ground and that we will achieve a balanced approach to deficit reduction.” But today they went public. The negotiations have failed.
“The primary goal of President Obama’s presser, which just wrapped up, was obvious,” writes Greg Sargent. “He was clearly out to pick a major public fight with Republicans over tax cuts for the rich.” That’s exactly right. But he didn’t want this fight. He wanted a deal. And he wasn’t able to get one that the White House considered even minimally acceptable. After putting more than $2 trillion of spending cuts on the table, they weren’t even able to get $400 billion — about a sixth of the total — in tax increases.
The conventional wisdom is that now this fight moves to the people. I’d put it differently. Now this fight moves to the consequences. Neither side is going to give in the face of purely rhetorical salvos. The White House is expecting Republicans to accuse them of wanting to raise taxes. The Republicans are expecting the White House to accuse them of putting the interests of large corporations and wealthy donors in front of the needs of seniors, children and the poor. Both parties have seen the poll numbers behind their positions. If a few news conferences were going to be sufficient to end this, it would never have started.
Climate experts warn that “epic weather” will continue because of climate change
Epic floods, massive wildfires, drought and the deadliest tornado season in 60 years are ravaging the United States, with scientists warning that climate change will bring even more extreme weather.
The human and economic toll over just the past few months has been staggering: hundreds of people have died, and thousands of homes and millions of acres have been lost at a cost estimated at more than $20 billion.
And the United States has not even entered peak hurricane season.
“This spring was one of the most extreme springs that we’ve seen in the last century since we’ve had good records,” said Deke Arndt, chief of climate monitoring for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
While it’s not possible to tie a specific weather event or pattern to climate change, Arndt said this spring’s extreme weather is in line with what is forecast for the future.
The Boston Globe reveals that fishermen in Gloucester, MA and up and down the Atlantic coast were the victims of abuse of power by NOAA.
About a decade ago, the Commerce Department’s fish police started a fight with Larry Ciulla, who owns and operates the Gloucester Seafood Display Auction with three other family members. Claiming that the auction had exceeded the day’s catch limit by one 60-pound fish, the regulators levied a $120,000 fine and ordered a 90-day shutdown.
Outraged, Ciulla challenged the penalty. He turned to Gloucester lawyer Ann-Margaret Ferrante, who is now a state representative and whose grandfather, father, and uncle were fishermen. Together, they decided to take on the agency known as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In need of political backup, they went to US Representative John Tierney, whose district covers Gloucester. Eventually, their grass-roots effort drew in the mayors of Gloucester and New Bedford, the Bay State congressional delegation, and a bipartisan string of lawmakers from Maine to the Carolinas.
This year, federal officials finally acknowledged their own regulators had gone rogue. They were guilty of overzealous, abusive, and targeted enforcement, a series of independent investigations revealed. Regulators were levying crippling fines for invented or inflated offenses, as they relentlessly bullied an entire industry. They were using the fishermen’s money to finance a fleet of cars, a luxury boat, and assorted foreign junkets.
Please read the whole sordid story.
Twitter has released fascinating data on the number of tweets and direct messages during and after the Japan earthquake.
“On Twitter, we saw a 500% increase in Tweets from Japan as people reached out to friends, family and loved ones in the moments after the March 2011 earthquake,” said the company on its blog.
Kirstin Powers interviewed Michele Bachmann, and learned that the Tea Party queen is no feminist.
Unlike Sarah Palin, who has brandished the feminist moniker and spoken of an “emerging conservative feminist identity,” Bachmann told me in an interview Tuesday that she wouldn’t call herself a feminist—instead, she simply described herself as “pro-woman and pro-man.” When I pressed her on the matter, the Minnesota congresswoman said she sees herself as an “empowered American.”
Bachmann seemed loath to engage in the kind of girl-power rhetoric utilized by Palin and Hillary Clinton, who both invoked the perennial—and so far unbreakable—presidential glass ceiling.
Said Bachmann: “I’m a woman comfortable in her own skin. I grew up with three brothers. My parents didn’t see us [as] limited [by gender]. I would mow the lawn and take out the trash; I was making my own fishing lures. I went along with everything the boys did.”
Bachmann is still doing everything the boys do, but as a female candidate she endures indignities that are foreign to your average male pol. Yet she takes it all in stride.
Don’t you just love it when smarmy, self-righteous people are brought low? I know I do. Despite the fact that I loathe pedophiles, I’ve always been turned off by Chris Hansen and his obnoxious TV show “To Catch a Predator.” Now Hansen himself has been caught on “candid camera.”
Chris Hansen has found himself on the receiving end of his own hidden camera tactics, after the married NBC anchor was secretly filmed on an illicit date with a blonde television reporter 20 years his junior.
Hansen, 51, has allegedly been having an affair with Kristyn Caddell, a 30-year-old Florida journalist, for the last four months.
Secret cameras filmed the couple as they arrived at the hotel for dinner and then drove back to her apartment – where the pair left, carrying luggage, at 8am the following day.
Hansen lives in Connecticut with his wife Mary, 53, but he has been spending more and more time in South Florida investigating the disappearance of James ‘Jimmy T’ Trindade – and allegedly sleeping with Miss Caddell.
The cameras belonged to The National Enquirer. Fortunately for Hansen, Miss Caddell is slightly beyond the age of consent.
Finally, here’s a nice summery story to get you ready for the upcoming long weekend: Work’s a Day at the Beach for Sand-Castle Consultants
CANNON BEACH, Ore.—On a recent weekend, sand creatures were sprawled across this Pacific Coast beach. There were sea horses by a giant squid, with an “Attackin’ Kraken” sea monster nearby, along with several pigs, some giant mice and an amputee octopus.
Many of the sand sculptures had the same point of origin: They had been built by people who at one time or another were advised by Bert Adams, one of the nation’s handful of professional sand-castle consultants.
“They did well,” said Mr. Adams, a 51-year-old former electrical engineer, as he surveyed the array of creations made by his onetime students at Cannon Beach’s 47th annual sand sculpting tournament.
“He’s a great mentor,” says Amos Callender, an Olympia, Wash., architect who took a course—Sand 101—that Mr. Adams taught two years ago. Mr. Callender and his team took first place at Cannon Beach last year, while this year they built a sand sculpture depicting “the good life”—a wine lover sporting a beret; a mouse tucking into a giant wheel of cheese—that finished second.
What a great idea. Now if only I could find a niche that would pay me big bucks for something I love doing!
So what are you reading and blogging about today? Hit me with it!
Photo: A wounded antigovernment protester joined fellow demonstraters for Friday prayer at Tahrir square in Cairo. Tens of thousands of Egyptians gathered for sweeping “Day of Departure” demonstrations to try to force President Hosni Mubarak to quit. (Mohammed Abed/AFP-Getty)
Good morning, news junkies!
So the story this week is still Egypt, and I thought I’d start off with a first-person account that Bloomberg ran yesterday from reporter Maram Mazen:
A policeman looked me in the eye and said: “You will be lynched today,” running his finger across his neck.
But, that wasn’t Mazen’s most frightening moment on Thursday in Cairo. Click over to find out what it was.
Next up, a youtube of the protesters in Tahrir square breaking into song yesterday, led by a guitarist off-camera, amidst cries for Mubarak’s immediate exit during Friday’s ‘Day of Departure’ demonstrations. It’s almost at a 100,000 views already. Please go give it another. It’s just plain enjoyable music too. Rough translation of what they’re singing, from the comments:
Let’s make Mubarak hear our voices. We all, one hand, requested one thing, leave leave leave … Down Down Hosni Mubarak, Down Down Hosni Mubarak … The people want to dismantle the regime …. He is to go, we are not going … He is to go, we won’t leave … We all, one hand, ask one thing, leave leave.
Photo: Iranian women participated in Friday prayer outside Tehran University (Behrouz Mehri/AFP-Getty)
Here’s the latest word from Secretary Clinton on Egypt, speaking at a Munich security conference this Saturday — Hillary characterizes the unrest that the Mideast is facing as a “perfect storm of powerful trends” and says:
This is what has driven demonstrators into the streets of Tunis, Cairo, and cities throughout the region. The status quo is simply not sustainable.
Al Jazeera English also reports that she said there must be clear progress toward “open, transparent, fair and accountable systems” across the region not to risk even greater instability.
While we’re on the Middle East, did you hear? Rand Paul wants to end “welfare to Israel.” Hey, don’t shoot, I’m just relaying the news here. And, before anyone on the other side of that issue goes goo goo over Paul following in his father’s isolationist footsteps, remember the libertarian catch that it comes with–Paul is also calling for dramatic education cuts.
There’s an interesting blog piece on Egypt, Obama, and Indonesia at the New Statesman that I’m still thinking on, but I thought I’d put it out there for Saturday reading. I have to say, I have yet to see any indication that Obama has much of a plan when it comes to Egypt. The deer-in-the-headlights look coming from this White House has been hard to miss.
This next item didn’t seem to generate much buzz, but I thought I’d put it in here and get your reactions… a Mississippi federal judge threw out a challenge to HCR on Thursday.
Here’s a story I’d been meaning to cover last week but didn’t get to, and there’s an update on it this weekend too. You may or may not know but Indian human rights activist Dr. Binayak Sen is facing life imprisonment. Here is the report Democracy Now’s Anjali Kamat filed from Chhattisgarh in advance of the global day of protest calling for Binayak’s release last Sunday. And, here is the update on Binayak’s wife, Ilina Sen, who has been under a witchhunt by the Maharasthra Police. An FIR against her has been reportedly thrown out:
Illina was named as an accused for her alleged failure to inform the police of the participation of foreign delegates at a conference of the Indian Association for Woman Studies ( IAWS) in Wardha.
Illina, who had termed the FIR an vindictive act of the state, told Mail Today on Thursday that she was unaware of the development. ” But if it is happening, it is a welcome step,” she said.
” The home ministry has intervened in the matterâ€¦ Illina’s name will be dropped from the FIR,” a government source said.
Looks like a bit of good news we can hang our hats on as the rest of the world spins out of control. Speaking of women’s studies…
This Saturday in Women’s and Children’s Health headlines
BYU School of Family Life researchers Sarah Coyne and Laura Padilla-Walker find that teen girls who play video games with their parents are less depressed (Truthdig), as part of the Flourishing Families project that began in 2007. Here’s the pdf to the actual study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health this month for anyone who is interested. According to Coyne, et al. (2011), for girls there is a link between playing age-appropriate games with parents and lowered internalizing (anxiety/depression) and aggression. There is no correlation for boys, and further studies are still needed to determine causality and long term effects for girls. Two years ago, the larger study that this research is a part of found a link between frequent gaming and relationship difficulties. This summer the project led to research that found having a sister may counter depression. Let’s hear it for sisterhood! Which brings me to…
Cinematherapy…in Feminist Perspective
A great op-ed last week on Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s documentary Missrepresentation, by Ashley Chappo in The Cavalier Daily — “Showgirls.” Here’s a teaser of Chappo’s piece:
As the American activist Marian Wright Edelman once said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Our national misconceptions about the value of women have contributed to the fact that the United States currently ranks 90th world-wide when it comes to women’s representation in politics. This year, Newsom’s documentary is a must-see because it challenges all Americans to reconsider their values and confront institutions that perpetuated inferior images of female capability.
Another film featured last month at the Sundance festival that you might want to take a look at is Lynn Hershmann’s !Women Art Revolution. Also, if you have a chance, check out: “Global Girls Go Sundance.”
This last one is really a review of a review of a book, but I’m sticking it here because it goes with feminist reads. Historiann: “Rebecca Traister on Stephanie Coontz’s A Strange Stirring.”
This day in history (February 5)
1871: Mary Sewall Garnder, pioneer of public health nursing, was born.
(If you click on Mary’s name, the link will take you to more women’s history trivia for February 5th.)
With all the upheaval going on in the world these days, I thought I’d share the Gayatri mantra before I go… I grew up on it, and though I’m agnostic and don’t believe in a “creator god,” this one stuck for me, perhaps because Gayatri is a girl goddess and the prayer is about asking her to dispel the darkness of ignorance. I like this translation:
Om Bhur Bhuva Swaha
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat
Mother who subsists as all three Kalas, in all three Lokas, and all three Gunas, I pray to you to illuminate my intellect and dispel my ignorance, just as the splendorous sunlight dispels all darkness. I pray to you to make my intellect serene and bright.
And, to make this roundup even more cross-cultural…
La fin and merci beaucoup if you made it to the end. Let’s hear what you’re reading this Saturday in the comments.
Thirty-eight years ago today the Supremes handed down Roe v. Wade.
It’s instructive to go further back and note that from the outset, the history of criminalizing abortion in the US has been rooted in a culture not of life but rather of No Profit Left Behind (via the history.com link above): “Abortion itself only became a serious criminal offense in the period between 1860 and 1880. And the criminalization of abortion did not result from moral outrage. The roots of the new law came from the newly established physicians’ trade organization, the American Medical Association. Doctors decided that abortion practitioners were unwanted competition and went about eliminating that competition. The Catholic Church, which had long accepted terminating pregnancies before quickening, joined the doctors in condemning the practice.”
In addition to keeping score, I always keep in mind a Bill Clinton interview that went under the radar in 2009: “With all the fights in the world about abortion rights and choice and family planning and all that there is only one proven strategy that is not opposed by religious authorities—except some fanatics and cultural authorities—that slows the birthrate and raises per capita income. The only proven strategy is to put all the girls in the world in school.”
On that note, let’s get this roundup started.
Hillaryland: When Hillary was in the Persian Gulf last week, she taped an interview with Kalam Nawaem–the Abu Dhabi version of The View. The UPI newswire ran the following headline after the show aired on Sunday: “Clinton calls women’s progress inevitable.” Here’s a full state.gov transcript.
I’ve gathered some clips, but I don’t want to bog down the rest of this roundup, so I’ll post the video treats in the comments. My favorite moment for now (hard to pick just one!):
“MODERATOR: That’s very interesting, Madam Secretary, and yet the Western media often depicts the Arab woman as oppressed, as having basically no human rights, as being uneducated. Why and how can we solve this problem? SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it comes from a lack of awareness or understanding that needs to be slowly but surely changed. And there – it’s one of the reasons why I very much appreciate the chance to do a program like this, because I have a lot of the American press with me and they look at the three of you, and maybe that breaks down some stereotypes. Maybe that begins to create what I know to be a much more comprehensive and complex view of women’s roles in this part of the world or in many parts of the world.”
Hillary understands that to lift up the world we have to not only lift up women and girls but that to truly lift up anyone we can’t parade around caricatures of helpless little women–we have to support each other in being our own best advocates and lifting ourselves up. Her approach is a stark contrast to the right-wing paternalism which seeks to selectively “champion” damsels in distress, for reasons other than empowering women.
Feminism–fiction vs. fact: Speaking of rightwingers who couldn’t care less about women or their rights, about a month ago, Real Clear Politics featured a video called “Feminism explained.” I wouldn’t advise clicking on it unless you’re a fan of annoying xtranormal animations and enjoy hearing a laundry list of every canard that’s already been thrown at a feminist. Deadbeat women’s orgs have made it all too easy for con-artists to skewer feminists in this fashion.
Fiction: Feminists don’t care about women! Fact: NOW, NARAL, and Planned Parenthood do not represent feminism or feminists but instead have become mere fundraising arms of the Democratic party, which itself is one of America’s two corporate arms (the GOP being the other)–a set of distinctions that the vast-right wing idiocy avoids making for obvious reasons.
Organizational otiosus? Once upon a time, NOW et al. helped get the fire started. Then they retired from the lowly world we inhabit only to drop back in sporadically and pass around the collection plate or remind us to tithe. (Perhaps the problem with NOW et al. is the more generalized conundrum of institutionalizing anything.)
From “ew, a feminazi!” to the C-Street takeover of feminism: For years, blowhards on the right have been capitalizing on the disconnect between the self-designated gatekeepers of feminism and the grassroot everyday feminists, turning feminism into the enemy. But, now conservative women are taking the opportunism one step further, trying to turn feminism into something it’s not (as dakinikat put it “Why oh why do people think they get to make up their own definitions?“).
What Would Alice Paul Do? As much as I think the right’s perversion of feminism deserves pushback, that chart I put up back in August still irks. The root of the problem is right there next to the Democratic position on “Right to Choose” — it’s that question mark next to “Support.”
Case-in-point: The introduction of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act this Thursday– or rather the *return* of Smith-Lipinski, as madamb presciently wrote about back in August. Wonk Room at ThinkProgress has an aptly titled response: “Forget Jobs And Economy, GOP To Introduce Government-Expanding Abortion Measure As H.R. 3.” The problem with pinning this solely on the GOP, though, is that doing so omits everything the so-called Party of Women did to create the environment in which the GOP could even dare to push Stupakistan-Act IV in the middle of a persistent unemployment crisis.
Act I: Then-Speaker Pelosi cut a deal allowing Stupak-Pitts to be brought to a vote to secure the passage
of a deeply flawed piece of healthcare legislation. Act II: President Obama ordered a “model set of segregation guidelines on women’s health.” Act III: Soon enough, mini-Stupaks erupted across the country (that’s a pdf link).
Not looking forward to Act V.
Of regressive progressives: Switching gears to discuss the Steve Cohen trainwreck briefly. I would simply like to remind everyone that Cohen was the creep who in May of 2008 used the movie Fatal Attraction as an analogy for Hillary’s primary campaign, saying “Glenn Close should have just stayed in the tub.”
A hometown update on Gabrielle Giffords: Gabby arrived here in Houston safe and sound! Video report of her doctors reacting, calling the transition “flawless,” by the Houston Chronicle. The chron’s Medical Center reporter Todd Ackerman has been doing some excellent work covering the TIRR facility over the past few days. Ackerman’s latest: “Houston rehab giant ready for Giffords.” I’ll put more in the comments for anyone who’s interested in local media reporting.
Bookworm: A recent piece in the Brattleboro Reformer takes a look at a new book about frontier feminist Clarina Nichols. Compare the present-day inanity of a bear growling at the end of a faux pioneer woman marketing ploy to the following:
Kathleen Sebelius: “Clarina Nichols was a single mother, abolitionist, women’s rights advocate and visionary, whose work paved the way for women to eventually become full citizens of the United States.” History of Woman Suffrage (published in 1887): “No woman in so many fields of action has more steadily and faithfully labored than Mrs. Nichols, as editor, speaker, teacher, farmer…” Here’s a woman whose “knowledge of the legal system would distinguish her in the women’s rights movement, leading one of its founders to observe that Clarina Nichols was ‘as conversant with the laws of her state as any judge or lawyer in it” (Revolutionary Heart, Eickhoff 2006).
Grizzlyfolk won’t learn any of that history by palling around with Glenn Beckistan, ahem.
Cinematherapy: First a tidbit about 20-year old Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame, from her interview in February’s Vogue (via yahoo) — “As it turns out, Kristen does have a plan for her newfound fortune (or at least, part of it) – she wants to set up a network of halfway houses to help those who are struggling get back on their feet – a cause Kristen saw first-hand while researching for a role as a runaway from a sex slave trafficking ring, according to Vogue. ‘That would be amazing,’ she continued. ‘Right now it’s the thing I feel most connected to.’”
Now for my movie pick: The Cake Eaters, a 2007 indie that Kirsten Stewart filmed before she became the epicenter of the campy Twilight series. Stewart’s rising star has helped the Cake Eaters find a wider audience as a little-indie-that-could. From the writer of the film who also starred as part of the ensemble cast: “The Cake Eaters is a term I grew up with in Pennsylvania. My mom used to use it to describe those who had it made, had their lives mapped out for them, where the most likely to succeed…’The Cake Eaters.’ I thought it was an interesting metaphor for this group of misfits who begin the story searching and longing for love, trying to overcome grief, and through the course of the story…find their ‘cake’. They find some love, happiness, peace… The title gets a lot of questions, it’s pretty controversial…and unforgettable.”
Oh, and this just breaking as I try to wrap up: Keith-O and MSNBC are O-V-E-R! (I can’t resist… MSNBC and Keith went into a room, and… Countdown got canceled.)
Dhanyavad for reading, and tag, you’re it! What headlines are you following this Saturday?