Tag Archives: Politics

maternity store chats, the economy, and voting

Last week, in search of pants that would accommodate the biggest belly ever to house a petite powerhouse, I ended up in discussions about the economy, neglect of veterans and their families, and the struggle to find good skilled workers.

The new boutique in our increasingly upscale mall is a bit of a surprise – independently owned, unique merchandice, totally upscale. Lots of moms from the Eastside are going to beat a path to their door with the glamorous choices they offer. There’s no discount rack here, so I would look at the pretty items and figure by the time they have such a rack, Little One will be out, kicking ass and taking names.

The owner was at the desk of the little gem, helping me with bras that clearly were not up to the task in spite of their sizing and beauty. We talked a little about the new shop – I had seen her original place and thought it was great – and she started describing the challenges of finding staff.

The pattern of mall employees is often migrant – traveling from shop to shop, not much in the way of wages, often young, often somewhat unpredictable. She knew that she would need to work closely with any new staff and not just train them. The whole issue of getting them invested in working in the store, in a similar way to herself. She was already looking for ways to make it easier for women who already had small children to be able to work and have the baby around. Or to find other flexible ways to accommodate good workers, but it was tough. She was building the business entirely with her own money – a big gamble especially in this economy – and she needed to make sure it would work.

I also went to the chain maternity store. Their merchandise runs from Target pricing to midrange. All kinds of women come here to shop, and there are always markdown rounders for both the bargain and more professional-level clothing. (I know those rounders intimately.)

The women working there are wonderful. Almost always young, many young mothers themselves. From the ones I have met and talked to, it’s often not their only job.

The young woman I met today – let’s call her Mrs 4, for her 4 children (including a niece she adopted) – is like many women with young families. She and her husband struggle to make ends meet – to get their children the things they need, to do well in school, to do well for themselves. Both she and her husband are from military families – her husband enlisted at 17, and did two tours of duty in Iraq.

Tour 2 was devastating. He lost 5 men in his unit, and it took a tremendous toll on him. When he ended his tour, he was in desperate need of psychiatric care. So, after he was placed in a psychiatric inpatient facility, the family received a letter telling them that since he would require more than 6 months of inpatient treatment, they would no longer qualify for military housing. They would need to find a new place to live, stat, but the army would pay to move their things to wherever they managed to find housing. Is this supporting the troops?

Walking away from the register, she kept saying “Go vote! You’ve got to vote! Do you know who you’ll choose?” When I told her there was no question, she smiled and whispered, “Vote Obama! Vote Obama!”

These aren’t people who have time to watch conventions or get bloggy. They are (over)working mothers, trying to make ends meet. They want to see a change in the economy and in the world their children inhabit. It was Mrs. 4 who said “I don’t care what anyone says. We’re in a recession – I see it here in the store.”

With all the media coverage, it’s easy to lose track of what is really at stake in the election. The antidote to tabloid politicking is talking to a real person about what’s going on in their lives, and figuring out what needs to be done, or at least, which direction to take.

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Filed under Motherhood, Politics

It won’t be your idea of change, but you should still vote for it.

Here’s another one that’s been stewing around for months. I hope it was worth the wait, though it may still be the equivalent of bathtub wine in terms of sophistication of thinking.

While I will be voting for Obama in the upcoming election, I’m not in the league of his acolytes. I’m choosing him because I think he is smarter – on the whole and politically – and that he will make better decisions, better appointments and better policies than any of his opponents, an admittedly low bar. In truth, I think he’s more likely to make good judgments and take actions that are constructive on their own merits. And because as a scholar of the good-old-boy school of politics, he’ll get things through without having to change DC, the very last task he’d take on once in office.

What? Isn’t Obama all about change? Isn’t that the mantra of millions of hopeful voters? Well, mantra, tagline, slogan, servicemark, it’s marketing. A close read of his rewarding, well-written books not only brings the reader through the narrative the senator has chosen to create, it also reveals more about his traditional positioning and why no one should be surprised that politically, there’ll be no new blisters on his hands, given his adeptness at hardball.

The conversation I’ve had with his supporters who feel that personal connection, that sense of promise for overwhelming change, has minor deflationary impact, but resonates with most of the feminists I know. It goes something like this:

“Y’know, I hear all about this change thing, but I have to say, after reading his memoirs and interviews – the majority of which lament the somewhat sainted father who left behind 4 women’s children and barely made time or resources for him and his mother, and noting the deliberate choices he has made in his own life – I think he longs for a traditional patriarchical model – of women in perpetual service. One where man exists to serve god, or country, or at the very least his own personal ambitions, justified in whatever way he chooses. And that woman exists to serve man. Is that change? To me, not so much.”

The feminist women who may be voting for him but who aren’t suffering from tinges of fanaticism – or sadly, the ones who still haven’t let go of the mundane misogyny of the primary race and thus claim to be staying home – nod knowingly.

(I didn’t have to support Hillary to know there was something truly ridiculous afoot with coverage. All I needed were eyes and ears. I think it’s interesting that Obama never said a peep about it – in fact, kept staffers on who made some of the most ridiculously sexist and personal accusations, while letting go of people who said unfortunate but not sexist things and yet who could contribute real leadership and intelligence to his campaign. Oh, until he reported that his grandmother told him she thought the coverage and treatment of HRC was unfair and obviously sexist, and that her remarks made him think there may have been something to it. Was it light dawning on marblehead? Nah. Hardball. Why waste cycles condemning the first and last acceptable public discrimination?)

The dudes are speechless, then try to tell me I must be secretly awed by his oratory.

“Oh, no, no secret that I admire him and his gift with language – especially in contrast to the last four years of unintentional Orwellian malapropism. But I’m 41, and I’ve heard enough smooth talking in my life to appreciate and enjoy it for what it is.” They’re left stuttering. I assure them I know how to vote, but I’m well aware of what I’m getting, and it isn’t change, unless you compare it to the criminal operations of the last 7.5 years. Which is welcome.

Why is it that Dems have to fall in love – blinders and all? Is it any better than the blinders one must live with as a Republican in order to fall in line? One doesn’t have to fall in love to make the best choice for office. Just make an informed choice. And given the freakish behaviour and position of Grampa this week in light of the Russian invasion of Georgia, you have all the information you need. Having an administration that is not warhappy and doesn’t break the law is the next necessary stage for our citizens and for those of the world. Vote with your brain, not your brain in love. Vote Obama.

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Filed under 2008 elections, accountability, ambition, Feminism, feminist, Politics

Feministe: Why Calling Out Misogyny Matters

Writing what has been gnawing at me for months, Feministe blogger zuzu  expresses it perfectly.  Please read “Why calling out misogyny matters“.

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Filed under backlash, constructive critique, Feminism, institutional misogyny, misogyny, 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