Archive Page 2

22
Sep
08

Why Sarah Palin isn’t a feminist…

As a young woman who rooted for Hillary and who frequently uses offensive advertisements to educate people about the various “-isms” I have recently been asked the following question (on more than one occasion): “But you’re a feminist…why don’t you like Sarah Palin? Or, Don’t you think she deserves some credit for her accomplishments? Why the feminists hatin’?”

Well, it’s quite simple, really. She’s not a feminist. At least not to me. Has she benefitted from the social advancement of women that has taken place over the last 90 years? Of course. Is she a model of how a woman CAN have a career and a family? Sure (all First Dude comments aside). The issue here is not to confuse achievement with worldview. Sarah Palin has admirably advanced up the political food chain from her early PTA bake-sale mom days to major VP candidate. Pat on the back, way to go. She’s a model of what women CAN do today. But feminists are upset because, despite the fact that her success is a nice example/story, it primarily stems from the work of our foremothers that Palin would just assume toss out with the bathwater. Feminism is a worldview, an epistemology, a framework for politics and policy that values certain things above others. As Palin’s politics show, she’s not a feminist.

A little clarification is in order. Ask any feminist what the “F” word means to her/him and s/he will have a different answer. So this post is about MY interpretation of feminism and how I use it in my research, teaching, and life. For me, feminism is directly related to humanism and what Carol Gilligan would term an “ethic of care.” The idea is that feminism argues for the voices of women to be heard and for fair treatment of all men and women. It doesn’t stop there, at least not for me; feminism argues that if we look at relationships of power and domination among different social classes of people (obviously men and women being one, but not the only one), then we can begin to unravel the myriad inequalities that many individuals face in their lives. In that sense, by expanding the argument beyond men and women to question inequalities based on sexuality, class, race, and gender (to name a few), feminsm becomes humanism.

Second, I view feminism as arguing for an ethic of care. Now, this idea has been criticized plenty for reinforcing stereotypes of what makes a “good” woman. I’m not arguing about good or bad women. To me, feminism brings an ethic of care to the table, and this is important. In her short play about women rebuilding after war (Necessary Targets), Eve Ensler depicts images of women as the rebuilders, the nurturers, the ones who reconstruct the physical, mental, and emotional bodies after tremendous destruction. This is not to say that this isn’t man’s role. I don’t want to get bound into that argument. (Repeated disclaimer: This is what feminism means to ME.) In more practical terms, this ethic, and feminism in general, reminds us to consider the ways in which our relationships with others (intra/interpersonal, social, political, etc.) improve (or not) their quality of life. It should remind us of the value of education, our obligation to the environment, our commitment to future generations, our respect of our bodies (and, more importantly, of others). I do not take the stance that all women are inherently “caring” — in fact, we know otherwise. But I do take the stance that feminism, as an epistemology, should advance the notion of caring as it calls for social justice, the end of discrimination, and, as bell hooks states “a world where recognition of mutuality and interdependencey would be the dominant ethos, a global ecological vision of how the planet can survive and how everyone on it can have access to peace and well-being.” (Feminism is for Everybody, pg. 110)

Based on the above arguments, then, Sarah Palin is not a feminist. She triumphantly totes her adorable son around, the son that she decided to have despite knowing he would have Downs syndrome. The key word there is decided; she had a choice, and would prevent other women from having that same choice. Her utter lack of concern for the environment (polar bears, etc.) flies in the face of feminist/humanist concerns. And we all know about the charging for rape-kits.

She may be a successful woman, but being successful does not automatically make a woman a feminist (Ann Coulter?). There are plenty of successful women that will vehemently deny that f-word. The bottom line is that her politics are not grounded in a feminist framework in ANY way. At its most abstract level, feminism reminds us that there are other viewpoints than our own, that there are other experiences than our own, and that we must commit ourselves to being open to understanding and caring about all of those around us. Feminism, and feminists, clearly see that Palin’s unwillingness to blink, should she get that 3 a.m. phone call, flies in the face of all logic with reckless abandon; they see that Palin does not respect the bodies and choices of all women; and they see that she is willing to quickly puppet the outdated, war-hawkish, patriarchial bullshit that we’ve all heard for the last EIGHT years.

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21
Sep
08

sunday (much needed) moments of zen

A quote…

“I’ll probably never produce a masterpiece, but so what? I feel I have a Sound aborning, which is my own, and that Sound if erratic is still my greatest pride, because I would rather write like a dancer shaking my ass to boogaloo inside my head, and perhaps reach only readers who like to use books to shake their asses, than to be or write for the man cloistered in a closet somewhere reading Aeschylus while this stupefying world careens crazily past his waxy windows toward its last raving sooty feedback pirouette.” (Lester Bangs, “A Quick Trip Through My Adolescence”, 1968)

An image…

A rallying cry…(my god i love this man)

21
Sep
08

Sunday News, Sunday Blues. Or, “I’m personally offended you think I’m so stupid!”

Sundays are nice, even though they usually end with a overwhelming sense of anxiety about the tasks of the upcoming week. But they are nice because they offer a chance to catch up on news and read my favorite section of the Times, The Week in Review.

Although I’ve got a lot more to read, and a post to pen about why Sarah Palin is not a feminist (I’m working on that one, it will be up soon), here are some standout pieces so far:

Frank Rich discusses the reign of “truthiness” in the current campaign and the inability of the press to call a lie a lie:

You know the press is impotent at unmasking this truthiness when the hardest-hitting interrogation McCain has yet faced on television came on “The View.” Barbara Walters and Joy Behar called him on several falsehoods, including his endlessly repeated fantasy that Palin opposed earmarks for Alaska. Behar used the word “lies” to his face. The McCains are so used to deference from “the filter” that Cindy McCain later complained that “The View” picked “our bones clean.” In our news culture, Behar, a stand-up comic by profession, looms as the new Edward R. Murrow.

As a social psychologist, I found Nicholas Kristof’s column particularly interesting. He discusses the Republican strategy of boiling down the issues to identity politics of us-vs-them; identities that are misconstrued no less. The effort to “otherize” minorities of any type (based on race, religion, sexuality, gender, etc.) is an age-old tactic that preys on fear and irrationality and, perhaps the most difficult of all to detect, emotional/visceral responses of individuals. The fact that we KNOW Obama didn’t take his oath on the Koran suddenly doesn’t seem to matter; just putting the thought in our minds triggers our fears of what his presidency would look like if he did. We no longer notice that Obama goes to church more than McCain or that McCain left his disfigured wife for a wealthy woman. No, we get trumped because those evil purveyors of linguistic binaries fill our minds with completely fictional characterizations that build upon our fear stemming from a shared tragedy seven years ago. Really, the extent to which Republicans are skilled social psychologists is disheartening.

As Kristof adeptly shows, religion is just a proxy for our more unspeakable prejudices:

What is happening, I think, is this: religious prejudice is becoming a proxy for racial prejudice. In public at least, it’s not acceptable to express reservations about a candidate’s skin color, so discomfort about race is sublimated into concerns about whether Mr. Obama is sufficiently Christian.

The result is this campaign to “otherize” Mr. Obama. Nobody needs to point out that he is black, but there’s a persistent effort to exaggerate other differences, to de-Americanize him.

And third, for now, is an important editorial reminding us of that checks-and-balances system we learned so much about in high school government. The next president will appoint Supreme Court Justices, this much we know; what remains to be seen is how many he will appoint. Supreme Court members shape laws long after the president’s term (or terms) is up. Like it or not, Obama has pledged to introduce moderate judges. McCain has flat-out said that he’ll put judges in place that continue Bush’s radical conservative agenda. Personally, I’d feel more comfortable with a constitutional law professor appointing SC members, wouldn’t you?

Mr. McCain’s justices are likely to join the conservative crusade against the power of Congress. They could be expected to strike down, or sharply limit, federal power to protect clean air and water; ensure food and drug safety; safeguard workers; and prohibit discrimination against women and minorities. They would also likely further erode the separation between church and state.

In sum, these articles all get thrown onto my pile called “how-on-earth-could-you-think-i’m-so-stupid”? We ARE smarter than this. We ARE smart enough to know a lie when we see it, smart enough to not have our fears played/preyed upon, and smart enough to understand the long-term implications of our vote. I want my president to treat me with respect, not try to dupe me.

18
Sep
08

show me the money!

I’ve started a campaign fundraising page on http://www.barakobama.com.
We all know that at the end of the day money makes a HUGE impact on this election. My goal is a modest $500. The little thermometer doesn’t count what I’ve already personally donated (feh!), but I’m aimin’ to hit ya’ll up for a mere $10 each.

Visit and donate here: http://my.barackobama.com/page/outreach/view/main/vfutch

18
Sep
08

damn straight my panties are in a wad!

Sexism was around wayyyyyy before the election (duh) process began and didn’t start with Sarah Palin’s announcement as McCain’s VP nom.

The incredulity of these newscasters is bemusing. I seem to remember a clip somewhere involving Chris Matthews and some rather sexist remarks aimed at a one Hillary Clinton…but aim those remarks at Sarah Palin and suddenly you’ve got a “hostile media” situation. Let’s say it all together folks: DOUBLE STANDARD!

18
Sep
08

political?

yeah, i know, let’s face it. this blog was political from the start. but NOW it’s really time to get down to business. 50 days are left until the election. maybe there aren’t a ton of people who read this, but i’m writing for my friends and family who are undecided, who want to know more, who may have decided but will listen to me anyway because they love me, and who feel left behind/disenchanted/discouraged/displeased with our government.

i’ve got a few things to say and a few perspectives to offer. feel free to leave comments and get a discussion going, that’s what blogging is really about.

i plan to post articles, videos, etc. that i find particularly intriguing. most times i’ll try to comment, but on busier days it may just be a few links. i’d love to hear what you think of the posts.

xoxo,

~v

16
Apr
08

What this ad is really saying…

*sigh* it never ends

hellooooo, she\'s not even sleeping on the mattress. *tsk*

helloooo, she’s not even sleeping ON the mattress. *tsk* and it’s also nice how the ad is implying some sort of “exoticism” with a questionably latino/african-american man and his Caucasian, long-haired brunette woman.

You can’t see it but it says things like “Give me: Beer, Food, Sex” and “Stop: Nagging, Moaning, Whining”

Commentary: Honey, it’s going to take a lot more than a piece of plastic with some batteries to control me. Or…wait…maybe not…*scandalous!*

While googling this gadget I did find that there is one for men that is equally offensive. Interestingly this version was not stocked in this particular store. Ahhhhh marketing demographics.




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