Saturday: Beyonce, Bridesmaids, and Big Business

Morning, news junkies…hope you are off to a nice, relaxing Memorial Day weekend. I’m going to keep my two cents brief this Saturday, so grab a cup of whatever and let’s go!

Is Beyonce’s New Video Feminist?

I saw this item on AlterNet the other day and found the discussion in the comments interesting. I have to say, the author of the article itself didn’t put forward very compelling arguments for her stiletto feminism (and I love my purple suede stilettos), but her piece did alert me to NineteenPercent’s response to Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls),” which I recommend checking out.

What ‘Bridesmaids’ Can Tell Us about Small Businesses and the Recession

New Deal 2.0’s Mike Konczal uses Kristin Wiig’s storyline–her character loses a bakery she started during the recession–as a teachable moment on Keynesian economics, complete with nifty graphs. He concludes that “Full employment is the friend of new business owners. It would be great if either of our political parties would emphasize that in a time of 9% unemployment.” Amen to that. (I did get to see Bridesmaids last weekend, btw. It lived up to the hype!)

Why the Rich Love High Unemployment

Mark Provost’s guest post at George Washington’s blog, outlining precisely why neither of our political parties is emphasizing full employment. (See also lambert at corrente… DISemployment: Letting the Rattner out of the bag.)

Judge strikes down corporate donations ban

The oligarchy racks up another win, just in time for 2012. As ThinkProgress noted yesterday:

Today’s decision extends beyond the egregious Citizen United decision because Citizens United only permits corporations to run their own ads supporting a candidate or otherwise act independently of a candidate’s campaign. Cacheris’ opinion would also allow the Chamber of Commerce and Koch Industries, for instance, to contribute directly to political campaigns.

Chernobyl Times Ten: Fukushima and the Radioactive Sea

Via Counterpunch. Highly depressing but important read from Harvey Wasserman:

“When it comes to the oceans, says Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceonographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, “the impact of Fukushima exceeds Chernobyl.”

The greatest living surrealist has left the planet“…RIP Leonora Carrington (1917-2011)

I enjoyed this brief but thoughtful blog post on Leonora Carrington’s passing, and the LA Times blog posted two neat photos–one of a bronze sculpture by Carrington exhibited along Mexico City’s Avenue Reforma in 2008, and another of Carrington celebrating her ninety-fourth birthday earlier this year. Also from an essay last year by art historian Alan Foljambe:

Rather than rebelling in a violent way against those who would control her, Carrington creates a parallel reality in her paintings in which, represented by animals and female deities, she is in a position of strength where she is not in danger of being used as a vehicle for the schemes or motives of someone else. Rather than confronting reality and attempting to overcome it, Carrington retreats from the struggle and creates another reality in which she feels more at home.

The gendered expressions of mental illness and violence

This is a topic that I think relates back to much of the dynamics underlying gender politics. Teaser from Historiann’s commentary:

There are of course seriously mentally ill women who suffer from similar paranoid delusions and fixate on individuals the way the Tucson gunman did. For example, a story in this week’s The New Yorker by Rachel Aviv (sorry–subscription wall) offers a nuanced, tragic description of the progress of mental illness in a woman whose disease sounds quite similar to Loughner’s. Yet, she didn’t pick up guns and kill a crowd of people. Instead, she retreated into a New Hampshire farmhouse and slowly starved to death.

James Carville: Obama is looking like a 2008 Republican

In 1992, Bill Clinton famously proclaimed himself to be an Eisenhower Republican. By that measure, I’d say President Obama is a pre-2008 John McCain Republican.

But this much is sure: The policies of the eventual Republican nominee, that is, anybody left running for it by the time of the vote, will be right in line with those of Sarah Palin. It’s pretty remarkable that the next election is going to boil down to a competition between the 2008 Republican presidential candidate and his vice presidential nominee.

It’s not that Obama is a socialist born somewhere other than Hawaii, or that he possesses a Kenyan anti-colonial mentality — but that some Republican needs to stand up and say, with some legitimacy, that Obama is taking all of the GOP’s ideas.

Well, there you have it. NOTA 2012.

How Cornel West Did the Obamites a Favor

BAR’s Glen Ford hits it out of the park once again. Excellent analysis of the situation. I myself have always preferred to focus more on Obama-the-politician and leave Obama-the-man for his family and friends to concern themselves with.


  • Dipnote: Welcome to Shelbyville (Welcome to Shelbyville airs this week on PBS; check your local listings. It’s also being streamed for free through May 31st on PBS’s website.)

Just a quick geek link before I wrap up…NYT: Evidence of Water Beneath Moon’s Stony Face

…throwing a wrench into the Giant Impact hypothesis.

This Day in History (May 28)

Pioneering woman scholar Abby Leach was born in 1855:

In the 1870s, there were many more opportunities for women in education than there had been a decade earlier–Vassar, Mt. Holyoke, Smith, and Wellesley had been all been founded by 1878. Still, the major men’s colleges of the day entertained no thoughts of educating women. Harvard held annual entrance examinations for women in New York City, but they only told the women who took them whether they would have gotten into Harvard were they men. Abigail Leach changed all that, however, when she arrived on the doorstep of three Harvard professors—William W. Goodwin, James B. Greenough, and Francis J. Child—in 1878 and asked them to instruct her in Latin and Greek. The men were so impressed by her courage and persistence that they agreed. Soon they would be impressed by her intellect as well.

Also see Abby Leach vs. Grace Harriet Macurdy.

What’s on your blogging list today?

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Taylor Marsh and Liberal Rapture]

Look Who’s Testifying

Basically this is "who" is testifying.

The armageddon on women’s civil rights never stops. How else to prevent the middle and working class from coming together and demanding people be put before profit than to keep conflating corporations and fetuses with the lives of living, breathing human beings. From RH Reality Check’s Martha Kempner:

A fetus is scheduled to testify in front of the Ohio legislature. I kid you not. Though I suppose I should rephrase that to say that an “unborn human individual” is scheduled to testify as that is the term that the bill, originally introduced by Representative Lynn Wachtman, prefers.  The legislation, nicknamed the “Heartbeat Bill,” is being piloted in Ohio by a group called Faith 2 Action and seeks to make illegal all abortions that take place after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.  It defines “unborn human individual” as “an individual organism of the species homo sapiens from fertilization until live birth.”  And one of these organisms is apparently going to address the Ohio House of Representatives.

How exactly its handlers are going to arrange this is not quite clear, though it appears that a woman who is nine weeks pregnant is going to have an ultrasound on the spot. ( It seems worth noting that at nine weeks fetuses tend to be too small to be detected by the classic over-the-belly ultrasounds of TV and movies, so in order for the audience to see this “witness,” it will be necessary to use an intra-vaginal probe.) It seems obvious to me that the witness, described by Faith 2 Action as “the youngest witness to ever come before the House Health Committee,” will not actually be speaking. While the pregnant woman may have something to say, my guess is that the bill’s supporters are hoping that a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Of course, it gets worse… Stupakistan is the nightmare that never ends after all:

Clearly, the promoters of this bill hope that the vaguely human images on the screen will convince lawmakers that this organism in its earliest stages of development is, in fact, a person.  Faith 2 Action makes this clear in its new music video supporting the bill.  Set to the tune of “99 Red Balloons,” the video intersperses in-utero images of fetuses with those of adorable dancing babies and includes lyrics such as “some time ago, we don’t know why, a court ruled to make babies cry.  Now we can stop their decree and protect children like me.”   It continues:  “when they hear our hearts they’ll care, send a message someone’s in there.”

Here’s the youtube:

It’s like the activism gene went awry in a segment of the population, and they seriously think this is the biggest issue going on today. Genocide? Nope. Unemployment? Nope. Lack of healthcare? Nope. Maternal health? Nope. Education of Girls? Nope. Anything that actually affects the living? A big fat nuh uh. Anything that would actually result in less pregnancies to begin with? Negative (rather Speaker Boehner wants to win the war against this…) But, the life of the unborn… my goodness yes, let’s protect the right of more unborn “people” to become miserable un-people like the rest of us. has more here.

Saturday: Permission to Narrate

Click image to go to Al Jazeera Live Blog on Egypt

Photo: via the NYT Lens. Egyptian antigovernment protesters celebrated under fireworks at Tahrir Square in Cairo. (Marco Longari/AFP/Getty)

Good morning all!

It’s the morning after Egypt took its first step toward self-governance, and I can’t stop thinking “power to the people!”

[See Al Jazeera Feb 12 Egypt Live Blog for the latest]

Just wow! Whatever happens in the long and challenging road ahead, the Arab youth and the rest of the Egyptian protesters have changed the narrative forever. Gone with Mubarak is the mythology that Arab peoples don’t want democracy and have to have it imposed on them, as if they were somehow intrinsically “different” from Lady Liberty’s tired, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Over the course of the past 18 days, the whole world saw what Egyptians wanted (freedom, dignity) and what the West wanted (first “stability,” then “orderly transition” to Suleiman-the-torturer).

Check out the headline on this new interactive map from the BBC: “Egypt: The camp that toppled a president.” (While you’re at it, check out the map, because it will answer the question that inquiring minds have been wondering, about just how did the protesters answer nature’s call!)

My rough timeline/liveblogging from yesterday:

The brutal police murder of corruption whistleblower Khaled Said was the turning point. Tunisia’s overthrow of Ben Ali was the awakening. Millions of people took to the streets and risked their lives. Thousands were wounded or “disappeared.” 300 are dead. Wael Ghonim’s interview after his release gave the protesters new life and the strength to carry on in the face of all the people who second-guessed them. The way I see it, though, the real “catalysts” were those 30 years of a regime that not only oppressed its people but served other countries’ interests, in the name of “stability” and stuffing their own pockets, while neglecting the needs of Egyptians.

I’ve had a helluva time trying to narrow down some Saturday reads to share with you, let alone getting myself away from the Al Jazeera live feed long enough to write this post. I’ve settled on a few favorites.

First, the Egyptian woman who has been holding down the fort in the Western media almost single-handedly–yes, that would be Mona Eltahawy–yesterday on the Brian Lehrer Show, reacting live to the news that Mubarak had resigned:

“I want to be realistic as well as kind of really love this moment. This is just a first step. We’ve said all along we want the regime to go. This is not about Mubarak. This is about getting rid of a regime that has suffocated the life of Egypt for the past sixty years. Egyptians deserve so much better. This is a wonderful moment in our life. And, it’s not going to stop. Everybody I know in Egypt is saying ‘We did it, but we’re not going to stop.’ And, I have total faith in them. I love Egypt, and I love being Egyptian today.” –Mona Eltahawy, breaking down emotionally, after weeks of nonstop tireless work pushing the Western media to look beyond its narratives on the Arab world.

Mona’s reaction reminded me of what MLK once said: “This is where we are. Where do we go from here?”

Dr. King’s next words: “First, we must massively assert our dignity and worth. We must stand up amidst a system that still oppresses us and develop an unassailable and majestic sense of values.”

On Tuesday, I posted about Women’s Voices on Egypt, as inspired by Mona Eltahawy’s twitter query for analysis on Egypt from women’s voices instead of all the balding old men on tv. One of the writings I linked to was an excellent, must-read piece by Azza Karam — “The dignity of Egyptian youth.” In light of Friday’s historic developments, I’d like to revisit a couple passages from Karam’s essay:

The youth bulge in the Arab world (where nearly 60 percent of the population is under thirty years of age) has produced a dividend of human dignity across the region and way beyond. Regardless of what actually transpires, priceless milestones of social awareness, political savvy, cultural pride, and creativity have arisen. A deep yoke of humiliation—from a fear born of oppression and injustice, from a silence created by decades of clinking chains and printed lies, and from the combined pains of hunger, sexual frustration, and the stigma of poverty—has been thrown off. […] What are the specific demands of the youth? Not only the President, but the entire regime “has to go.” […] Their want, their demand, is not just a matter of a verb or a matter of course; it is the act of making this demand in and of itself that is critical.


Every moment lost in removing the strongest symbol of oppression is causing not only loss of life, not only mounting internal dissent, confusion, and violence, but, critically, every moment Mubarak remains in power is an opportunity for those calling on God to dominate the emerging scene. There is already a culture of appealing to God (and those who speak in his name) when there is a sense of helplessness. The Egyptian youth who have been fashioning—with their lives—a new discourse of change over the last eight days, without resorting to Islamist discourse of any kind, but with dignity, with passion, with love for their country and their heritage, must not be let down now. If they are, we will have to accept responsibility for allowing the forces of Islamism to step in as the people’s liberator.

Next up, as quoted by Dan Sisken of Mideast Brief, via his post at Mondoweiss — Arabs seize the ‘permission to narrate’:

Facts do not at all speak for themselves, but require a socially acceptable narrative to absorb, sustain, and circulate them. . . . as Hayden White has noted in a seminal article, “narrative in general, from the folk tale to the novel, from annals to the fully realized ‘history,’ has to do with the topics of law, legality, legitimacy, or, more generally, authority.”
– Edward Said, Permission to Narrate (1984)

Sisken writes:

Just as the Egyptian revolution has liberated the Egyptian people from the grasp of a US-backed authoritarian leader and seems likely to wrench Egypt out of its nearly total reliance on US support and largesse, the Egyptian people–as covered by AlJazeera–may be bringing about a new international media order. […] So, as we watch the unfolding drama of Egyptians reclaiming their voice and destiny, we watch and are enlightened by young and extremely well-informed Arab, and in many cases Egyptian, reporters and analysts. There is no western filter of former government officials, DC think tankers, former military officers, and other US policy wonks. No, what we are now witnessing is Arabs and Egyptians, not only making their own history, but having the international stature and reach to narrate it as well.

If you didn’t click on the link, you are missing the excellent and completely spot-on side-by-side comparison that Sisken put up of the Egypt coverage from Al Jazeera and the garbage rotating on Fox News.

The screengrabs that Sisken drew on were, by the way, from Salon’s reporting at the end of January that “Al Jazeera’s Egypt coverage embarrasses U.S. cable news channels.”

I could not bear to flip to Fox News for most of the day as hour after hour of celebration continued in the streets of Egypt, but the one and only time I did take a peek, it lasted a painful two seconds–the newsdesk gal was talking about illegal immigration. I thought that spoke volumes.

As you likely have already heard by now, and as the Guardian poetically notes here, February 11th was the day “Ayatollah Khomeini took power in Iran, his Islamic revolution cementing the downfall of the Shah, who had fled into exile – to Egypt.” And, now 32 years later on that same day, Hosni Mubarak has become the former president of Egypt. Another milestone you probably came across in the coverage of Egypt yesterday– exactly 21 years ago from yesterday, Nelson Mandela was released from Robben Island after 27 years of political imprisonment. But, the Guardian also points out that, “On the same date in 1975 Margaret Thatcher succeeded Edward Heath as Conservative party leader. And continuing the theme of divisive female politicians – for Sarah Palin the date has an entirely different significance: it’s her birthday.”

Now, I don’t know what it all means that Palin and Thatcher are tied to February 11th as well (not that it means anything at all), but I’m going to switch gears for the rest of this post. Incidentally enough, earlier in the week the theme I had been thinking of centering my roundup on was “America’s Adaleens.” I don’t know how many of you watch HBO’s Big Love, but the character Adaleen Grant–played by the wonderful Mary Kay Place–is a strong-willed woman, all moxie, yet brainwashed and sells out the sisterhood. Sound familiar? I’ve been seeing her face all week watching the assault on American women continue to unfold–an assault which is unsurprising to me, as I’ve been waving that guttmacher pdf of mini-stupaks erupting across the country in every post I can for the past six months.

But, getting back to Adaleen and women selling out other women. We’ve got quite a few grizzlies in a skirt helping the bastards in Congress avoid doing anything on the economy by declaring armageddon on women’s civil rights. (If you missed Dakinikat’s righteous rant on the war on our rights, please go read it: “They think they own our bodies.”)

Speaking of which, did you happen to catch this piece of tripe from the warped mind of Phyllis Schlafly this week? Is it supposed to be a birthday present to Sarah Palin or something? Whatever it is, it’s a mess. Everything I have to say, I already said on the anniversary of Roe. That’s not feminism Schlafly is criticizing. It’s a figment of her imagination–a convenient strawman to prop up a house of canards. Feminism isn’t about hating housewives. It’s about creating the sociopolitical and economic opportunities such that a woman’s sphere can be *wherever* she makes good. It’s the Schlafly nuts who are hellbent on ostracizing and marginalizing any woman who won’t tow their traditionalist line. They want to assume power by undoing all the work of our foremothers who fought for our rights. And, they want ‘permission to narrate’ on feminism that they have not earned.

So, what do you want to say this Saturday morning? And, what’s on your reading list? Do your thing in the comments and have a great weekend.

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Taylor Marsh and Liberal Rapture]

Saturday: a time for prayers

Click Image to go to Al Jazeera Live Blog on Egypt for Feb. 5th

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.

Click Image to see more pictures of the day for Feb. 4th from the NYT Lens

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 matter… 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

Click poster to go to

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.)

Closing thought

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.

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Taylor Marsh and Liberal Rapture]

Saturday: Roe turns 38!

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 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 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!):

Hillary with the women of Kalam Nawaem!

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.”

Original sin: Feminist superdud (yes that's what he looks like, Ms. Magazine) signs a piece of paper that relegates women to second class status in Stupakistan.

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.”

Gloria Giffords, the congresswoman's mother, center, talks with her daughter during the flight from Tucson to Houston. Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, left, talks with Giffords nurse Tracy Culbert. (Office of Rep. Giffords)

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.

Click cover to go to the Amazon listing.

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.'”

Click poster to go 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?

Originally published by Wonk the Vote at Let Them Listen. Crossposted at Liberal Rapture and Taylor Marsh.