Category Archives: Politics

when the “b” word is as unacceptable in public discourse as a substitute for “woman” as the “n” word

The WA state caucuses left me a bit drained – a mix of happy and dissatisfied faces with how I handled chairing our precinct, the unease I felt at seeing such hatred for Hillary, and so little knowledge of Obama. I was challenging Hillary haters to give positive, fact-based rationale for Obama, even trying to feed them some of the answers, and was sad to see the commitment so melded in race, religion and gender.

So, after reading Frank Rich’s pillory of Hillary, I felt compelled to respond. I was honored to find my comment tagged as an NYT editors’ selection, errors and all. Maybe someone at Obama’s campaign will have a look and make some real change happen.

And just in case the permalink isn’t really permanent, a cleaned up version here:

Everyone is fighting nastily here. It can be a tough choice for an informed voter whose candidate left the stage. I left the WA caucuses today having chaired my precinct to a Obama landslide, but keeping my own vote profoundly uncommitted. A landslide, I’d point out, distinguished in no small part by a remarkable amount of male spokespeople who could barely conceal their contempt of Hillary for reasons they couldn’t quite express, even when pressed.

While on the topic of nasty tactics, I’d like to ask where is the outrage over the consistently sexist treatment of Mrs. Clinton by the media at large and Obama proponents in particular. I’m thinking about the remarks by Jesse Jackson Jr, falsely accusing her of crying over her appearance instead of over Katrina victims. Is he looking for freelance work? Hardly. His position as a spokesperson for the Obama campaign is safe and sound, while remaining as dry eyed on camera over Katrina victims as any other pol, including his boss.

Apparently, sexist behaviour is just part and parcel of American political life, to be questioned only if the women derided aren’t white. (Just look at Imus and Rutgers, and what got him canned, as opposed to what the players found primarily offensive. I wrote about it myself in an ironic copy of Carville, as, “it’s the misogyny, stupid.”)

Massachusetts Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral summarizes it best: “What would never be said about race is the sport of kings when it comes to gender.”

What a world it will be when the “b” word is considered as unacceptable to refer to women, regardless of race, as the N word is today. And how I wish John Edwards stayed in the race.

— janet, outside of Seattle

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Filed under 2008 elections, Feminism, John Edwards, misogyny, Politics, scared men, sexism, Voting, WA, WA Caucuses, WA-08, WA-48, women

tear analysis, and the sorry state of gender in today’s media

Let’s get something straight, vis-a-vis the media overanalysis of Hillary’s verklempt moment. Women, anecdotally, are more likely to cry in FRUSTRATION than men. Anyone who doesn’t know that should offer to put a webcam on my office wastebasket for a year, and count the tissues. It doesn’t mean all of us cry, much less cry frequently, but it happens. And when it does, it’s mostly out of frustration.

We still get the job done, we still finish the project, we still clean up nicely. It’s worth noting that the moment, if it happens, is usually private – at home, or in the ladies room, or perhaps in the car. Every once in a while, you’ll get to see it. Unguarded, the tears come… and then they go. It’s just that most of us don’t do it on camera.

So, why might Hillary be frustrated? Because she watched a lead disappear? The money disappear? Any hope of a non-partisan, mature press corps disappear? (In the interest of full disclosure, I am for Edwards and Obama, in that order.) That she had worked hard, followed the script and it still wasn’t working? I could see having a teary moment, and then rearming. Could it have been planned? Maybe, but the truth of the tears of frustration is undeniable.

Which brings me to the media discomfort and attempts to find a new reason to bash Hillary in the face of the moment, and her victory – albeit relatively small in such a volatile race.

I don’t believe for a minute that race is the penultimate divide in our culture. It has been, is, and god willing for my child’s future will not be gender.  Don’t believe me? Check out any socio-economic grouping a demographer can offer, and see if men and women are granted the same status, rights, roles, expectations, wages… the gender line is drawn right down the middle. I don’t know how it works for queer-identified people, but my own anecdotal and admittedly limited experience is that gay men, particularly white gay men, seem to fare best of the bunch.

Race is not an additive – it’s a major multiplier, but let’s be honest. It all comes down to the boys v. the girls, and those who play in the broadband media space, regardless of the equipment they came with, tend to favor one team over the other. And before you get all “it’s about the money” on me, keep in mind that misogyny appears to pay its spokespeople very very well.

And yes, Chris Matthews is a raging misogynist (thanks, Rachel, for putting it out there) but he’s only one of many who continue to work unedited and unabated. His history of remarks on Hillary and her husband could fill a very spiteful, hateful book and sequel. But don’t expect him to lose his job over being called out.

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Filed under bias, clintonophobes, Feminism, gender bias, media, media bias, misogyny, Politics, women

all politics is becoming glocal

I’ve lived in this timezone for 6 years – voted in as many elections, paid property taxes, learned where to (and not to) eat – and I haven’t yet felt like a real resident. Culture clash and remote employment play an equal role in my disconnectedness, but it wasn’t until a recent political action that I realized how strange it can be as a netizen first, resident second.

It’s political season again, and our despicable US Congress Rep is being challenged by a principled opponent – but the first place she (and other hopefuls in other districts) are going is out of the district. It makes me think that all politics is now glocal – a challenger goes to a global to get the money she needs in order to prove herself to the locals. So, if you’d like to help me get a good rep in Congress, consider giving to Darcy, and tell her you learned about her at my kitchen table.

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Filed under 2008 elections, accountability, activism, glocal, Politics, strategic communication, the big picture, US Congress, Voting, WA, WA-08, women, women's rights

rant alert: disgust doesn’t begin to describe it

Where “it” is my reaction to the latest SCOTUS decision, making it virtually impossible for women to hold employers accountable for discriminatory practices. I am so angry, I could spit enough nails to frame a McMansion.

But this, in addition to the infantilization of women ruling a few weeks back, are only the newest in a series of obvious assaults on the rights of citizens, supported by a largely media-illiterate electorate and an especially manipulative Federal administration, on its knees along with the US Chamber of Commerce, K Street, and the televangelistic industry in worship of the almighty dollar.

And this is only the beginning. The number of career and political appointments at the Dept of Justice (US) in the past 6 years cannot be considered anything but suspect. People who decry and have worked to dismantle voting rights and Affirmative Action have made it policy only to hire minorities – namely white religious zealots who call themselves Christian but show no evidence of ever having read the New Testament – into decision-making positions, regardless of any other skill or qualification.

And where the zealotry and gender issues meet, say in a Monica Goodling, we get the good little girl act, making no assertions other than to say some men made her feel uncomfortable, and that the problems she would encounter with women who earned their positions through relevant credentials were “queen bees”.

What happened to this country, or, at the risk of sounding corny, my country?

Being married to a legal alien foreign national furriner, and having spawned (isn’t that how one would reproduce with a furriner alien thingy?) has made me all the more aware that I am very much an American, no matter how good my ability to mimic accents and be mistaken for an internationalist in airports.

I remember visiting family about a year after 911 and being regarded as a traitor for recounting a conversation with European colleagues, where they had said it wasn’t a matter of if, but when, the US would be attacked. (Had I not known someone on UA 175, the talk may have become even more disrespectful towards me.) My alien hubby asked me not to write letters to the editor about the bogus propaganda around the Iraq invasion, as he has a green card.

But now, I wonder if any letter can have any significance. I wonder how thinking people, particularly Americans, can look at where we are now, and what is coming to light, and not be paralyzed with rage and disgust. What can we do? How can we restore reason, compassion, ethics, and the rule of law?

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Filed under discrimination, Feminism, frustration, legislation, misogyny, politicization of justice, Politics, rant, sexism, sexual discrimination, us attorney scandal, US Chamber of Commerce, women's rights

misogyny and the powers of the purses

Has anyone else struggled to hear what’s going on in the world today with the 24/7, largely-missing-the-point coverage of old sexist racist pig Don Imus milking another 500,000 viewers thanks to his latest remarks? This has been his schtick for years – I can confirm at least 10, based on hearing his WFAN show. I couldn’t believe the guy had a job when I heard him in ’96 for the first time, but apparently there was then and still is a huge audience for sexist racist talk.

I see this as an issue of misogyny, with a special though not exclusive focus on a hatred of women of color. The women on the team and the coach have come forward and said they see this as primarily an attack on women. I couldn’t agree more.

Student-athletes have special burdens, and young women who come to learn and play have serious challenges. Title 9 gets them a program, but it doesn’t undo the learned sexism most of us have picked up along the way. (I say this as a former manager of “Athletic Tutoral Services” at my alma mater.)

But serious green can impart a perverse “legitimacy” – the longevity and audience loyalty brings in a reliable revenue stream. Even the composed 20 yo captain of the Rutgers women’s b-ball team has a handle on this. In paraphrase, she said, As long as Imus makes ratings and money, who can argue with him, or the people who come to his show?

We can.

I think the penalty should also be levelled at the networks who carry his program and the guests who agree to be on his show, who are implicit in their endorsement of his views and behaviour.

Let’s get a list of the pols and media people who beg to be on his show, particularly on their book tours, and tell them we’re not interested in buying their books. That we’re not going to purchase the goods or services of the advertisers to their programs.

Let’s make it clear that while we support free speech, we also support accountability and consequences. I wonder how “ok” public misogyny will be if it doesn’t make anyone any richer.

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Filed under accountability, activism, anger, athletics, boycott, connections, consequences, courage, diversity, dominance, exploitation, Feminism, gender representation, greed, greedy greedy greedy, honesty, language, media literacy, misogyny, Politics, privilege, racism, sexism, women

heartsick, inspired

Some thoughts on the Edwards’ press conference yesterday, which left me somber and not a little heartsick.

A counselor mentioned the unusual, strange public-ness of the announcement. I agreed with her, but took exception from the perspective of media – that in the current media climate, they made the best decision they could, to be proactive (even if coerced) rather than reactive; to communicate privately to those close to them first, and then present a brave (and loving) face to the public.

Regardless of politics, their union is nothing short of inspiring. They love and respect each other, they celebrate the best of each other, their example is one that would serve any aspiring couple.

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Filed under 2008 elections, cancer, children, courage, Elizabeth Edwards, Grieving, heartbreak, heartbreaking, inspiring, John Edwards, loss, Love, marriage, Motherhood, Politics, public discourse, public experiences, public relations

smackage! (v., Jadish)

In college, a friend gave name to a decade-old practice of mine to coin my own expressions and use them in regular conversation. (I had recently explained how I characterized guys who were unappealing, explaining the degrees of undesirability, and the factors that made one worse than the other. Clearly the outputs of a young mind discovering coffee.)

He decided I needed to make my own turns of phrase an official language, and borrowing from my college nickname (an initial combo that implied burliness, smokes and whiskey, and which appealed to me for the cognitive dissonance it caused), he called my language Jadish.

I think of it now as I sneak peeks at the Senate floor voting on the repeal of one totalitarian and odious provision of the Patriot Act ( 94-2 in favor of repeal!), and want to shout out “Smackage, gweebos! Smackage!”

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Filed under 2008 elections, argot, funny, Patriot Act, Politics, senate, slang, US Attorneys, US Congress, Voting