This. Is. Wonderful. This is why I supported her for President. And yes, I hope she reconsiders 2016.
I’m hearing Democrats making a lot of hay about the Republicans’ “war on women.” As outraged as I am at Rush Limbaugh, the Catholic Bishops, and pretty much any right-winger who tells me I have no right to look in his gun cabinet while he has every right to stick his nose between my legs, I can’t help but think that the fact that we are arguing over birth control has as much to do with alleged liberals and progressives as it does with those who would like to take us back 100 years.
Hillary Clinton had it right when she spoke to the U.N. 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995:
It is time for us to say here in Beijing, and for the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights.
These abuses have continued because, for too long, the history of women has been a history of silence. Even today, there are those who are trying to silence our words. But the voices of this conference and of the women at Huairou must be heard loudly and clearly:
It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls.
It is a violation of human rights when women and girls are sold into the slavery of prostitution for human greed — and the kinds of reasons that are used to justify this practice should no longer be tolerated.
It is a violation of human rights when women are doused with gasoline, set on fire, and burned to death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small.
It is a violation of human rights when individual women are raped in their own communities and when thousands of women are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war.
It is a violation of human rights when a leading cause of death worldwide among women ages 14 to 44 is the violence they are subjected to in their own homes by their own relatives.
It is a violation of human rights when young girls are brutalized by the painful and degrading practice of genital mutilation.
It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being sterilized against their will.
If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely — and the right to be heard.
“Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights . . . “
Then why are our rights always used as bargaining chips? Why are our private health care decisions “carved out” as something outside of normal health care? You think they haven’t been? Explain the Hyde Amendment to me. Explain President Obama’s Executive Order that enshrined the Hyde Amendment and now will never again have to come up for an annual vote in Congress. Explain all the “conscience clauses” for doctors, nurses and other “health” practitioners that allows them to deny women legal medical procedures that provider finds personally “immoral.” Explain why pharmacists have been given permission to refuse to fill a woman’s legal prescription from a licensed M.D. because he objects on “religious” grounds.
All of this has been done on the Democrats’ watch or with their acquiescence.
You might not realize it but a lot of us of the female persuasion have been warning about this for years. We were told to not rock the boat. Can’t you see we’ve got really, really important stuff to do FIRST? Your turn will come, we were told. In the meantime, can you come help out with the phone bank or walk a precinct? Yes, we LOVE women! We VALUE women! Really, really, really! But, you know . . . the Republicans!!!
In order to pass President Obama’s “signature” Health Care bill, women’s rights regarding their right to choose was sold down the river. Abortion was singled out for special treatment. No other medical procedure was given this carve out. This was done by Democrats who, instead of drawing a line in the sand, caved.
Another example: The Lily Ledbetter Act passed both houses of Congress early in 2009, but the more important Paycheck Fairness Act, the bill that would actually put some teeth into Lily Ledbetter, and after having passed the House in 2009 by a greater margin than Lily Ledbetter, languished for two years in a Democrat-controlled Senate until just before the 2010 election when it was becoming clear that Democrats were probably going to get their asses handed to them, so they’d better throw the wimmenz a bone. The vote didn’t happen until after the “shellacking” and failed pretty much on a straight party vote. Hmmm. Do you think that this bill might have stood a better chance if it had been voted on at the same time as its sister legislation? Why wasn’t it? Because, women’s priorities always take a back seat. Always. Until it is an election year and the Dems need to get us stirred up again so we’ll walk those precincts and staff those phone banks.
There may be a huge backlash now because of the overreach of the conservatives, but what is happening now is not an event in isolation. All along the way Democrats and “progressives” gave them the green light to take an inch, and then another inch and then a yard, then half mile until, well, here we are. As Dr. Violet Socks writes:
Women’s contraception is the only medication associated with normal human activity that is described as some kind of weird off-the-wall thing that shouldn’t be covered by insurance. The only one.
We told you they wouldn’t be happy until they put all women under their thumbs. Those of us who embrace a secular government and the separation of church and state also warned you about the dangers of letting other people’s religions interfere in our government.
You didn’t listen.
Maybe now you will.
(By the way, I was quite pleased to hear that the Democratic women walked out of Darryl Issa’s hearing the other day. Let me know when the all Democratic men do the same. Seriously, when are all of you going to have our backs?)
I’m writing this post not because I’m trying to double down on my disgust with Weiner. He’s a colossal jerk who’s destroyed his credibility (infuriatingly so, since he was such an effective liberal attack dog), but I don’t think sexual harassment is the worst offense in the catalog of creepy things politicians have done.
I’m writing this because I’m sick of people pretending that sexual harassment isn’t any kind of offense at all. As a feminist, I want women to be able to walk through the world as something more than just fuck receptacles accompanied by a bluesy sax track. And I’m sick of alleged “progressives” dismissing that as prudery or fainting-couch hysteria.
It’s not. It’s feminism.
In case any of my readers are interested in One More Post in the blogosphere about this topic . . .
I know that there are many, many more things that we need to be focusing on, but no, this incident isn’t “just a distraction.” The shitty thing about the whole mess is that, with few exceptions, the conversation that’s going on about this is completely missing the point.
It’s been a couple of weeks since the story broke. As I wrote earlier, I was willing to give Anthony Weiner more than the benefit of the doubt, especially when considering that the source of the story was none other than Andrew Breitbart. So when Weiner came clean and admitted to not merely sending the original photo that started it all, but to having engaged in this kind of behavior for years, I was taken aback by his bald-faced lies about hacking and his efforts to ‘get to the bottom of it’ and all that nonsense. The non-denial denials and hemming and hawing left me, one who had held him in high esteem, totally disgusted at his stupidity and arrogance.
Then more information came out. The transcripts of some of his interactions were stunning and made me think, “Wow, just another frat boy. And, man, has he got some issues with women.” Once again, I thought, we progressive women have been had. I still bounce between “Gawd, what a stupid, arrogant fool!” and “Gawd, what a sexist jerk!”
Most appalling to me has been the reaction from many on the so-called left, women included, that in essence amounts to “boys will be boys” or “hey, that’s between him and his wife” or “what about the Republicans? They’re worse! Look how hypocritical they are!” I even heard stuff like “Well, we don’t know what’s going on at home, so, let’s not judge” as though somehow this might (or must) be his wife’s fault because, you know, if she’d been putting out as much as he wanted, he wouldn’t need to do this. And finally, “Anthony Weiner is such a great progressive, he should be excused!”
I think this last excuse galls me the most.
Finally, I was just squicked out by it all. After all, he used his public Twitter and Facebook accounts to do all this. These accounts were part of his Congressional public face, and he used them for his own masturbatory pleasure? Really? Yes, really.
Sherry Wolf has put into words what I’ve been feeling, but not quite able to express.
A Radical’s View of the Weiner Scandal (SherryTalksBack)
Weiner is a posterguy for misogyny in its postmodern form. What else can we call a man incapable of sustaining a serious political interaction with a woman without steering the relationship toward the sexual?
[ . . . ]
Setting aside the lingo used to describe the waitress and her gait (“provocative,” “flounced”), it’s notable that a U.S. Congressman thought it perfectly appropriate to behave like a sexist jerk in front of a reporter from the paper of record. To Weiner, his visual drooling was just normal, healthy male behavior. And that’s exactly my point.
When men act like this toward women, it’s not flattering, it’s demeaning. Accounts of how he met the recipients of his lascivious tweets are telling. The women made political comments on his Facebook wall, often about health care policy or the dangers of the far right. After initially engaging them in political chatter, he’d degenerate suddenly, and from all accounts without solicitation, into sexual come-ons.
Sherry inserts a personal story (please click through to read) and then concludes
I’m no wilting flower, nor was I back then. In fact, to most people I appear to have a surplus of confidence, and maybe it’s enduring crap like that that makes a gal a bit of a badass. But dozens of small and not-so-small encounters like that one leave women questioning whether certain men actually respect what they say and think or if they’re just humoring us like that old professor.
I can imagine that some young women entering politics through a Congressman’s Facebook wall only to encounter sexting and lewd pictures in response will enter the ranks of women who continue to ask, does what I say have value, or is this guy just interested in my tits?
What Weiner did was help stoke anxiety and insecurity in a bunch of women who respected him for his ideas and got none of that in return. I can only hope that he inadvertently created a few badasses along the way, too.
This. Ever so much. This.
I hope Weiner’s therapy helps him figure out not only why he would engage in the kind of behavior that would put both his marriage and his career at risk, but more imporantly, why he appears to have little to no respect for half the human race. Maybe he’ll come out on the other side a better person. We’ll see. His actions will have to inform us though. After all, we now know what a cool liar he is.
I don’t know how I missed this.
There is the unwillingness to listen, a ferociously stubborn not getting it on so many things, so many important things. And the obdurate refusal to believe, to internalize, that my outrage is not manufactured and my injure not make-believe—an inflexible rejection of the possibility that my pain is authentic, in favor of the consolatory belief that I am angry because I’m a feminist (rather than the truth: that I’m a feminist because I’m angry).
And there is the denial about engaging in misogyny, even when it’s evident, even when it’s pointed out gently, softly, indulgently, carefully, with goodwill and the presumption that it was not intentional. There is the firm, fixed, unyielding denial—because it is better and easier to imply that I’m stupid or crazy, that I have imagined being insulted by someone about whom I care (just for the fun of it!), than it is to just admit a bloody mistake. Rather I am implied to be a hysteric than to say, simply, I’m sorry.
Not every man does all of these things, or even most of them, and certainly not all the time. But it only takes one, randomly and occasionally, exploding in a shower of cartoon stars like an unexpected punch in the nose, to send me staggering sideways, wondering what just happened.
Well. I certainly didn’t see that coming…
These things, they are not the habits of deliberately, connivingly cruel men. They are, in fact, the habits of the men in this world I love quite a lot.
It brings to mind some posts I wrote a while back called Trying to Have the Conversation.
From my first post:
What has been particularly frustrating for me, is that when I try to have any kind of discussion with men about sexism in our culture, I honestly feel like I’m speaking a foreign language to them. No matter how I try to get them to try to understand where I am coming from, what my life experience has been, most men, if not all, just don’t get it. Worse, they don’t appear to want to understand. And I am speaking of men who are my friends and closer, solid progressives all.
In the comments to this post, I was accused of calling all men knuckle-dragging misogynists.
In my second post I wrote:
What many of us are attempting to talk about is a much larger picture regarding sexism within our culture that is so internalized and accepted (by men and women), that whenever we bring up the subject more often than not we get reactions like yours, even from those closest to us, that either tell us we are taking it too personally or accusing us of labeling you all “women haters.” For me, this is frustrating as hell, for all it does is serve to shut down the conversation. And where does that leave us?
And in my final post:
She concludes with what I’ve been trying to say all along, but wonder if, once again, the men who love us will misconstrue:
So what do I expect for all men – my spousal unit included? I expect him/them to stand up and say “this is wrong”. Not laugh at jokes that smear and make fun of anything female or feminine. Not condone comments made to/about a female co-worker. I expect them ALL to stand up and say “No More”.
That will be a good first step.
Guys, it’s simple. If you can do nothing else, the next time you hear some sexist/misogynistic crap from a friend, co-worker, or relative, put the face and name of the woman YOU love in place of the object of derision. And do what you would do if it were one of us that was being belittled and demeaned. Because when you don’t say anything when that “other” is demeaned, when the time comes for you to speak up for us, your words will be brushed aside because, after all, you’re only defending someone you love, rather than living a life that defends the right of all women, regardless of status, creed, color, to be treated as equals and not as objects or less-than.
Maybe posting this is pointless. But. I’ll give another go.
This started out as an answer to NW Luna’s comment to my post about the defeat of the Paycheck Fairness Act. It got a bit long so I decided to post my answer instead, and add a few more thoughts.
Excuse my ignorance …. but TNA?
“TNA” stands for The New Agenda, which, by the way, responded to the failure of The Paycheck Fairness Act very well by noting that blame for the failure of this bill falls on many shoulders. Amy Siskind’s reaction echoes my sentiments to a T.
Here’s what we know from the 2010 election: issue #1 for women is economic security. That’s why women gave the GOP a once in a generation opportunity to win us over. Absurdly, the Republican Party then turns around and pushes women away by thwarting our financial security. Ya know, us ‘wimminz’ — the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of American families.
Is the Paycheck Fairness Act perfect? No. Does it solve the disparity of pay that women face? Not totally. But it is a huge step towards women’s financial security. Sadly, here’s what the GOP said to women today: “we don’t believe women deserve to make the same wage as men for doing the same job.” It’s not much more complicated than that. Even if the bill in it’s current form (which likely no Republican Senator actually read) wasn’t nirvana, then bring it to the floor and hash it out.
There’s plenty of blame to go around. And, it’s time for some accountability!
She goes on to lambast Republican Senators Olympica Snowe, Susan Collins, Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Lisa Murkowski and then turns her ire on the Democrats and calls out Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, and Majority Leader Harry Reid, whose foot dragging and excuse-making on this bill has been infuriating to those of us who supported this legislation which would have put some teeth into the Lily Ledbetter Act. This bill should have been brought up at the same time as Lily Ledbetter and passed as its companion in the Senate back in January 2009, just as it was done in the House. That women had to wait until the lame duck session of November 2010 for the Democrat-led Senate to bring this to the floor for a vote was ludicrous.
The reason I was curious as to what the TNA response to the failure of Republican women to support the Paycheck Fairness Act requires a bit of a trip down memory lane. The New Agenda was formed in 2008 as reaction to the misogyny directed at Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin in the 2008 election cycle, and ostensibly was supposed to be a place where women of all political stripes could come together. The idea was to support all women, get more women elected, with the goal of seeing at least 30% of all elected offices held by women.* The New Agenda was supposed to be the bipartisan “antidote” to partisan women’s organizations. Where those organizations had failed, The New Agenda would succeed! The idea was that while women might have differing opinions on, say, choice, we could all still work together issues we all agreed on; for instance: equal pay, leaving us to fight those “other” battles elsewhere. Good idea, I thought. If Republican women are willing to work with me, I am more than willing to work with them.
However, I’ve given up going to or supporting TNA because I have grown increasingly uncomfortable with their conservative leanings. In the few instances where I’ve tried to raise concerns on the TNA blog about, for instance, Sarah Palin’s politics and brand of conservative feminism (which, by her own words, doesn’t include women like me) I pretty much got shouted down. Believe me, I have been outspoken in my condemnation of the misogyny directed at her (here, here, here, here, here) to the point that many of my liberal friends thought I was a Palin apologist. I do my best not to insult conservative women merely for being from the other tribe. But I sure as hell will call them out when I see faulty logic, lies, bad policy, or straight-up BS.
Posts at the TNA blog are often rah-rah pieces about conservative women candidates with no critical examination of what these women actually stand for when it comes to moving women’s equality forward. What started out, I thought, as a place where all women could come together, to support ALL women and their ideas, quickly turned into a place where if somone even whispered, “But what about a woman’s right to choose? Are we giving up on that entirely?” – or expressed even the slightest hesitation about a right-leaning woman’s politics, that person was pretty much shut out. No thanks. I had enough of that in the primary when people from my own party called me a bigot or a dried up pussy for questioning the experience and record of one Barack Obama. So I gave up on TNA.
I don’t do cults. And TNA feels dangerously like one to me. I am more than willing to work with Republican woman. Work WITH them; not give in to them on every issue.
Madamab, proprietess of The Widdershins, was one of the early adherents of The New Agenda and a regular contributor to the TNA blog until she was informed “that the word ‘patriarchy’ was no longer part of their lexicon” and that she “could not even refer to birth control for fear of offending their ‘majority’ Repub members.” That may give the reader an the idea of the turn The New Agenda appears to have taken. Can you imagine telling people trying to resolve the racial divide that still affects us that they could no longer use the word “racism” or being forbidden to discuss the idea of white privilege?
Voting for conservative women, just because they are women and will help boost women’s numbers to that magical 30% means nothing if they are not willing to join hands with us now for something as patently fair as working toward getting women equal pay for equal work. This isn’t about abortion, it is about women being able to provide for themselves and their families. That Republican woman chose partisanship over basic fairness tells me that getting just any woman into office is no more effective than electing just anyone with a D after their name.
Back in the day I was a big fan of the 50-State Strategy, and, as regular readers know, was one the DNC paid field organizers hired to bring Howard Dean’s vision to fruition. And I still agree with it’s original goal which was to grow and develop the Democratic Party in all 50-states and to not write anyone off. However, in our desperation to rack up wins in the D column, we got ourselves a whole bunch of Blue Dogs. And we progressive/liberal/FDR Democrats see what that gets us; shit like this.
Back in the 2008 primaries, many women who supported Hillary Clinton were accused of supporting her just because she was a woman. That certainly was not the case with me, as she began in last place on my “presidential preference” list. I supported her because of her record (no, it wasn’t perfect), and her lifetime of commitment and work on behalf of issues close to my heart: women, children, education and health care for all.
Gone are the days when I support someone blindly just because they have a D next to their name. And I’m certainly not going to support a candidate just because she is the same gender as me, when that same woman is working hand in hand with the people who would deny me, my daughter, or any woman fair pay, birth control, or bodily autonomy. 30% Solution or not.
Those who like to believe they have picked themselves up by the bootstraps sometimes forget that they wouldn’t even have boots were it not for the women who came before. Listening to Palin, it’s almost impossible to believe that, as recently as 50 years ago, a woman at Harvard Law School could be asked by Dean Erwin Griswold to justify taking a spot that belonged to a man. In Ginsburg’s lifetime, a woman could be denied a clerkship with Felix Frankfurter just because she was a woman. Only a few decades ago, Ginsburg had to hide her second pregnancy for fear of losing tenure. I don’t have an easy answer to the question of whether real feminists are about prominent lipsticky displays of “girl-power,” but I do know that Ginsburg’s lifetime dedication to achieving quiet, dignified equality made such displays possible.