Perfectly Logical Calculations, and Why They're Actually Not

by: Melissa McEwan

Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 13:13


It is a great pleasure to promote the first invited post in our "mutual guest blogging" series on feminist and womanist perspectives on Hillary Clinton's withdrawal from the race -- and why this matters to progressives.  Thanks to our guest bloggers -- and to everybody who's helped work to make this happen!--Jon Pincus

Melissa McEwan is the founder and editor of the political and cultural group blog Shakesville and a contributor to The Guardian's Comment is Free and AlterNet. This is her submission in response to the invitation to participate in a discussion re: feminist/womanist perspectives on the primary.

Even before the primary had ended, feminists/womanists (hereafter FWs) who had become disenchanted with Senator Barack Obama as a result of worrying rhetoric on reproductive rights, his and his campaign's use of sexist dog whistles, and/or his silence in response to an appalling onslaught of misogyny unleashed upon his opponent, were being bullied at any indication (real or imagined) that they would not vote for him.  The usual cudgels were brought out to browbeat them -- Roe (to which I'll return later) and the ominous accusation that if McCain won, it would be their fault.  As ever, it was the people calling out sexism and/or anti-FW policies who were charged with creating division among progressives, as opposed to the people engaging in sexism and their defenders.

Given Obama's most recent flub on abortion rights, first stating he doesn't "think that 'mental distress' qualifies as the health of the mother" regarding late-term abortion exceptions, then clarifying by reiterating the same thing and fleshing out the pregnant straw-woman who wants a late term abortion just because she's "feeling blue," plus more of the "pastor and family" rhetoric -- a veritable symphony of rightwing talking points, infantilization and mistrust of women, and hostility toward their autonomy -- one might expect the bullies to realize that perhaps the FWs who had concerns about Obama also had a point, but if bullies were rational, they wouldn't be bullies.  And so the drumbeat to cast FWs with legitimate complaints as the root of progressive discordance has only intensified.

This oft-wielded cudgel to silence FWs who cry foul at sexism expressed by political allies is wrong for the following reason, which I cannot state any more succinctly than this: When someone engages in divisive behavior, any resulting division is their responsibility.

It is, simply, not the duty of any person who is repeatedly subjected to alienating language, images, behaviors, and/or legislation to nonetheless never complain and pledge fealty from the margins.  If women, men of color, gay/bi/ trans men, et. al. are valued, then they should not be demeaned-and if they are demeaned, they should not be expected to pretend it does not matter.

Melissa McEwan :: Perfectly Logical Calculations, and Why They're Actually Not
Pretty straightforward stuff.  There are some related ideas I want to address, though, which complicate the issue, especially from the perspective of those who earnestly cannot understand why feminists don't see the "perfect logic" of:

• Candidate A is sexist, and at worst will not make things any worse for women.
• Candidate B is sexist, and at best will not make things any worse for women.
• Therefore, feminists should vote for Candidate A.

I get why that appears to make sense -- and for some FWs it does, particularly Democratic partisans, which is totally legitimate -- but then there's that whole my vote is mine thing, and this subject is really bigger than for whom anyone will or will not vote, because the (typically) unspoken corollary to "Therefore, FWs should vote for Candidate A" is "...and they should not do anything to undermine him like point out that he is not their ally."

The reasoning behind the "perfectly logical" calculation above -- and the related compulsion to cajole alignment with that strategy and/or silence FW criticism -- is predicated on a couple of commonly-held (and oft-cited) assumptions:

1. Voting for/Supporting the more liberal of two mainstream party candidates is always and necessarily the most consistent with feminist/womanist principles.

2. Voting for/Supporting the more democratic of two mainstream party candidates is axiomatically the most feminist/womanist choice.

3. Feminism is an "issue" or a "cause" akin to other political issues or causes like protecting social security or fair elections.

4. The best possible America for a straight, white, able-bodied, wealthy man is the best possible America for everyone.

5. More rights for "everyone" means more rights for women.

All of these are wrong -- or, at minimum, not always correct.  Let's take them one at a time.

1. Voting for/Supporting the more liberal of two mainstream party candidates is always and necessarily the most consistent with basic feminist/womanist principles.

Occasionally, supporting the more liberal candidate (i.e. the Democrat) is entirely consistent with basic feminist/womanist principles.  The vast majority of the time, the candidate represents a platform which has some inconsistencies with those principles, often by sheer omission of basic tenets of equality, e.g. a commitment to eradicating the pay gap, active recruitment of female Congressional candidates, support for the ERA, etc.  In the current campaign, Obama has benefited from sexism, actively and passively, and seems eminently willing to compromise on reproductive rights, precipitating some concerns about his commitment to women's issues, as have candidates before him.

Clearly, that strategy is incompatible with feminism -- which is why the exhortation "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good" is as inaccurate as it is condescending.  A sexist candidate with an incomplete or incompatible platform is not "good," even though, by any FW reckoning s/he is better than the major party alternative.  FWs are well within their right by virtue of their basic tenets to take exception with the expectation that they recognize a candidate who benefits from sexism as "good," which is by no means a synonym for "not as bad."

All of which means that voting for/supporting a third-party candidate, depending on the candidate and platform, may well be the choice most consistent with basic feminist/womanist principles.  Reminders that Democrats are more inclined to make court appointments favorable to FWs are accurate, but ultimately irrelevant to determining which vote is most intrinsically feminist -- third-party candidates would do the same.

The important point here is that while voting for the Democrat over the Republican may indeed have a pragmatic rationale from a feminist/womanist standpoint, it is wrong to conflate "pragmatic rationale" with "consistent with feminist/womanist principles."  FWs must often, in fact, vote counter to their principles to be pragmatic voters.  That is not a small thing, and it should not be treated as though it is.

2. Voting for/Supporting the more democratic of two mainstream party candidates is axiomatically the most feminist/womanist choice.

This idea is closely related to the previous one, but turns on the presumption that democracy is inherently more feminist than other forms of government, represented in comments that exhort feminists/womanists to recognize the imperative of keeping the nation's leadership out of the hands of those who have effectively tried to approximate a rightwing dictatorship.

It's treated as axiomatic that preventing America from becoming a dictatorship is somehow simultaneously a fight for women's rights, but that's not necessarily true.  Women's equality is wound up in national politics, certainly, but it is also largely independent of them, too.  It is a misunderstanding of what women experience to suggest that protecting our democracy is the same as championing feminism.

Forward movement for women can happen even in dictatorships, and can be reversed even in democracies -- because women's equality is inextricably linked to so many other cultural variables, like religiosity.  To presume that greater democracy will de facto mean increased equality for women is to tacitly buy into Bush's line about freedom magically emanating from any country deemed a functional democracy.  It just doesn't work that way.  A democratically-elected conservative American theocracy would, for example, be anathema to feminism/womanism.

I have many good and important and personal reasons for not wanting America to become any less democratic than it is now -- not least of which is because those agitating for increased authoritarian control of government are simultaneously agitating for increased control of women's bodies.  I also have many good and important and personal reasons for fighting for my equality.  Some of those good and important and personal reasons overlap.  Some of them don't.

The important point here is that, while most American FWs are undoubtedly interested in voting for the most democratic candidate, it is wrong to reflexively conflate "more democratic" with "more feminist" (even though that's historically a safe bet).  FWs may, in fact, for reasons outlines above, have to vote counter to feminist/womanist principles to vote for the most democratic candidate of the two major parties.  That is not a small thing, and it should not be treated as though it is.

3. Feminism is an "issue" or a "cause" akin to other political issues or causes like protecting social security or fair elections.

Feminism, especially for women, is not mere political advocacy, but a philosophy centered around advocating for personal equality.  When feminists/womanists are inveigled to vote for/support the Democratic candidate (and refrain from questioning his commitment to women's issues lest his candidacy be undermined), because This Issue is so important, the implicit calculation is that This Issue is priority over women's equality, reproductive rights, etc.

Because FWs have increasingly resisted taking a backseat to issues like social security when their very value as human beings is up for debate, those using this rhetorical strategy have learned that nothing is quite so effective as using Roe v. Wade as This Issue, thusly reframing the argument from "Vote for the Democrat to get what you want" to "Vote for the Democrat to not lose what you've got."

It's a nasty little bit of blackmail, which fails utterly to take into consideration that the veiled threat of losing legal abortion because of one's uncompromising belief in one's own equality and autonomy is so bitterly ironic that it would be laughable if it were not so profoundly sad.  Instead of demonstrations of commitment to protecting Roe as one among many commitments to the basic feminist principle of women's equality, we are meant instead to be motivated by menace and intimidation.  We're supposed to gleefully hop on board with people who ominously warn that failure to do so will evoke tragedy by our own hands -- and, if we succumb, we find that even asking for basic respect, for sexist words and images and behaviors to not be used, is considered too much, an impertinence.

All we are offered is the protection of what we've already got, and nothing more.

Which makes one wonder why we'd ever be given anything more, since the risk of losing one thing is greatest when there is only one thing to lose.

The compromise of everything else to protect this one thing is particularly problematic for feminists/womanists because being a woman is not a cause.  If women's issues are ignored, we cannot simply change our skin like a losing lobbyist changes strategies.  Always will we be women, and when we are asked to put our "issues" on the back burner for the good of "the larger cause," we are being asked to wait longer yet to have our equality fully realized.  That is not an easy burden to indefinitely bear for thin promises.

[On a side note: Using Roe as a cudgel to batter FWs into line is becoming increasingly futile because the Democrats have been weak on protecting choice -- and, hence, women's autonomy -- for years.  Yes, Roe is still in place, but the GOP has successfully chipped away at abortion rights on the federal and state levels for two decades. The point is, certainly the Democrats will nominate and approve justices who will protect Roe, but if they aren't willing to protect it from being rendered an impotent and largely symbolic statute because it's been hollowed out by "partial-birth abortion bans" and "parental consent laws" and state legislatures that refuse to fund clinics offering abortions, what does it really matter if they protect Roe?

FWs who are paying attention to what's happened to practical choice in this country know that the Roe card is already functionally meaningless at this point in large swaths of the country -- and that's about the national Democratic Party as a whole, not just about its nominee in this election.  The Dems are falling down on the job of serving their FW constituents in general and women specifically.

Realistically, if you're a woman who already has to drive three hours and across state lines to get an abortion, how much is "we'll protect Roe" actually supposed to mean to you?]

4. The best possible America for a straight, white, able-bodied, wealthy man is the best possible America for everyone.

America being the best place it can possibly be for straight, white, able-bodied, wealthy men does not de facto mean it's also the best place it can possibly be for a poor, black, disabled lesbian.  That seems like it ought to be obvious, but every time women or men of color or gay/bi/ trans men are told "just hold your concerns and focus on winning this election for now and then we can get to your issues," it's clear that there are people who don't understand how fighting for control of the White House/Congress and fighting for one's own equality are not the same thing for everyone all the time.

Sometimes those fights overlap; sometimes they are mutually exclusive; and sometimes they are in conflict.

It makes no personal difference to a man who is not the target of misogyny if a president is elected on its back -- but it does make a difference to women (even those who don't care), because not only has misogyny not been repudiated, but has in fact been reinforced as a winning strategy.

For active feminists who are on the frontlines of fighting sexism every day, bringing themselves to cast a vote for a candidate who has used misogyny is a tacit approval of the strategy.  Even if there are good reasons to vote for that candidate, it is still a self-defeating vote in some measure.  It's not just holding one's nose and voting for an imperfect candidate; it's swallowing one's principles and pride and casting a vote that unavoidably consents to misogyny as a campaign tool.

It might not make any difference to the soul or the future of a man casting the same vote.  It will make a practical difference to women.

If they know it or not.

Likewise, the presumption that who is the best candidate, what is the best campaign strategy, and which are the best policies for "the nation" from the perspective of privilege does not take into account that best is subjective -- and "the nation" rarely gives all its members equal consideration.

5. More rights for "everyone" means more rights for women.

Like "the nation," when we hear that something will be good for "everyone," it generally means it's going to be good for straight, white, able-bodied, wealthy men -- and hopefully lots of other people, too!  The problem with this paradigm is that it's usually espoused by the people with the most existing freedom and opportunity, who are looking to procure more for themselves, or restore something they've lost, as with this election, in which progressives hope to restore Constitutional liberties eroded by the Bush administration.

Who wouldn't be on board with that, right?

Well, FWs might be on board with that idea, but what's happening is that the pressure to support, at all costs, the candidate most likely to realize that goal has the capacity to force feminists/womanists to compromise what they think is right as feminists/womanists to support what they think is right as Americans.  If restoring lost liberties means tacitly supporting sexist rhetoric and pandering to rightwingers who don't respect women's right of bodily autonomy, that's not a net gain for women -- even though it is a net gain for men.

That's why holding a firm line against misogyny is so important: Progress depends on people being progressive, which necessarily precludes the mockery, belittlement, and/or exclusion of historically marginalized groups.  Otherwise, we end up with a new political situation that may benefit the already-privileged without compromise, but is just the Same Old Shit for everyone else.  And once maximum privilege has been restored, there is little incentive to yield any to lift up the rest of the boats, despite years of promises to the contrary.

There are too many progressives who view social change like conservatives view economics: Make everything as splendid as possible for those at the top and the benefits will "trickle down" to everyone below.

Well, it's bullshit when we're talking about tax cuts, and it's bullshit when we're talking about equality and opportunity.

FWs know that -- and if we're beginning to feel resistant to being played like suckers every election, if we're increasingly unwilling to play the equivalent role of the disaffected evangelicals who keep voting Republican as though the leadership will give a rat's ass about them someday, can you really blame us?

We make fun of those people.

Shaker CE once said in comments, "Knowing that the alternative is worse actually makes it harder for me; it just reinforces that sense I often get from some Dems, including Sen. Obama in this cycle, that they think they can do whatever the fuck they like to me, because I don't have any other option. The worst part? They're right."

They are right, unless we go somewhere else.  This isn't a treatise to convince anyone to do so -- but it's an explanation for why a feminist/womanist might, why it's a legitimate choice, and why, if that means the Left isn't a picture of harmony, it's not our fault.

The reason the Left is discordant isn't because of our standards; it's because there are so many bigots with no benchmark for success but winning -- even at our expense.


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It's Hard To Comment On Such A Monumental Essay (4.00 / 5)
It takes time to really digest. But I'll rashly try to break the ice, anyway.

This passage struck me as particularly crucial:

For active feminists who are on the frontlines of fighting sexism every day, bringing themselves to cast a vote for a candidate who has used misogyny is a tacit approval of the strategy.  Even if there are good reasons to vote for that candidate, it is still a self-defeating vote in some measure.  It's not just holding one's nose and voting for an imperfect candidate; it's swallowing one's principles and pride and casting a vote that unavoidably consents to misogyny as a campaign tool.

This puts it perfectly, I think.  Because I've never really had a problem with "holding my nose" if that's what it took.  But I've often felt the term was misused, and this statement, within the larger context of this essay, does the best job I think I've ever seen of saying just why that is.

We're not talking about someone who won't fix the sidewalks, pay for crossing guards or school lunches, but at least will keep the schools open.  That's a "holding your nose" candidate.  And what's being described here is as different to that as night and day.

I've been struggling with articulating the same feeling about Obama with respect to his casual demonization of anti-war activists in my much more rambling "Political Smarkdown" series, but of course ones identity as a women goes much deeper than that.

Still, the principles being discussed here apply quite generally to all who are forced to confront a logic that denies a fundamental aspect of their identity.  And I think that despite his occassional eloquence Obama really doesn't get this at all.  I've promoted several works in the past that praise Obama for his intuitive dignitarian instincts, but I've been repeatedly bothered by how they seem so bright on some occassions, and totally dark on others.  (Donnie McClurkin, anyone?)  So this really lights up a lot of connections for me.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


Then vote for Nader. n/t (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
And that is where (4.00 / 1)
this all falls apart.


[ Parent ]
Good points Paul (0.00 / 0)
I can't think of any candidate who was ever perfect. But I do think holding my nose on a candidate is more about ugly problems with a candidate rather than the minor "won't fix sidewalks" stuff.  I always think of the "holding one's nose" effect as being about casting your vote for someone who has positions or has said things that truly stink. For me racism is a big deal and I have a pretty sensitive sniffer which would have made Clinton a real "hold my nose" candidate in November.  

Everyone has their areas that they place a lot of their personal political capital.  I would much rather be arguing for policy rather than arguing about what sort of sensitivity training our candidate needs.  What saddens me is that we can't seem to get a stink-free candidate.  I would much rather be arguing about the benefits of single-payer health care over some crappy universal private insurance scam, but instead we are left with identity politics.

The media is going to do their best to spin the general into an identity campaign.  They successfully waged that war in 2000 and 2004, I just hope the American people will see through it and "hold their nose" and vote for the better policies.


[ Parent ]
Trying To Be Clearer... (0.00 / 0)
It wasn't just "won't fix sidewalks" stuff that I was trying to point to, but the progression, walking all the way up to, but stopping just short of closing the schools.

I was trying to point to the process by which the peripheral moves toward the central, and there really is a "holding your nose" aspect, because of where this can lead.  That, to me, "truly stinks."

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
This is an incredible post. (4.00 / 4)
And I think I need to read it again to actually appreciate what you are saying. But what disturbs me instantly having read this is the following:


• Candidate A is sexist, and at worst will not make things any worse for women.
• Candidate B is sexist, and at best will not make things any worse for women.
• Therefore, feminists should vote for Candidate A.

Sen. Obama doesn't strike me as sexist. And the campaign run by Sen. Clinton was not only brilliant but in many ways benefited from the sexism of the media: her voters came out because her candidacy became a cause for feminsim. But I have yet to see how Sen. Obama demeaned Sen. Clinton.

The worst behavior I saw was at the NH debate when he said she was nice enough.

But as a political opponent, Sen. Obama was respectful of Sen. Clinton.

So when you say:

For active feminists who are on the frontlines of fighting sexism every day, bringing themselves to cast a vote for a candidate who has used misogyny is a tacit approval of the strategy.  Even if there are good reasons to vote for that candidate, it is still a self-defeating vote in some measure.  It's not just holding one's nose and voting for an imperfect candidate; it's swallowing one's principles and pride and casting a vote that unavoidably consents to misogyny as a campaign tool.

I would appreciate seeing how this fits the frame work with regards to Sen. Obama. Because that case has never been made successfully to me, personally. I would argue it is empirically clear that Sen. Obama lost many votes because of his race; but by the end Sen. Clinton was actually winning men as well. Her issues in this campaign where strategic mistakes she made, the least of which is not apologizing for Iraq and taking that off of the table.

Thank for your post. I'll have more comments after I digest this fully. I would say, I disagree with your conclusion. Voting is the preservation of political capital. You can withdraw that capital and stay home. But in voting for the Republican party, for example, you are rewarding behavior that erodes civil and feminist rights. So really, you either vote or you withhold your vote and risk being marginalized in the political discourse.

I think the current state of Emily's List is a clear example of many of the issues that face women-centered political organizations.

I also want to make sure to say that Sen. Obama while he didn't comment on Sen. Clinton's situation, neither did she comment on his racial issues. That is something also that doesn't get expressed enough.

Peace.


Witholding one's vote, or lodging a protest vote (0.00 / 0)
is an act of civil disobedience. It is intended to make other voters wonder why one would be moved to "throw away" the political capital that it represents.  Like one might wonder why another is moved to "throw away" their freedom by engaging in actions that give the law enforcement a reason to arrest them.

In that sense, this protest has been far more effective than that initiated by Ralph Nader, one might conclude, based on value of discussions such as the one at hand.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
I also contest the notion (4.00 / 1)
that Obama benefitted from sexism. The exit polling in state after state clearly showed that Clinton dominated among voters for whom gender was an important factor. She won major states like California and Pennsylvania solely on the basis of these gender voters, according to the exit polls. She often even won among men for whom gender was important. She also won a plurality of race voters. http://www.dailykos.com/story/...

When the misogyny was perhaps at its height, in New Hampshire, it appeared to decidedly help Clinton. I also don't agree that Obama ran or sought to run a sexist campaign. That just doesn't fly to me. Nearly 60% of primary voters were women.

But if we can put aside this ascribing of intention, and put aside the highly dubious claim that Obama benefitted from sexism, the larger point I do agree with is that he should be ashamed for not forefully speaking out against it, especially when it came from his own surrogates. I'll confess I didn't speak out against it much, either, and I'm sorry for that. There are reasons why which for me can help explain why Obama didn't, but they are by no means valid excuses and probably beside the point anyway because they sure aren't about principles.  


[ Parent ]
What?? .. (4.00 / 1)
How can you say Hillary's campaign was brilliantly run?  Mark Penn thanks you though.

[ Parent ]
In fact (4.00 / 1)
if you push the logic of this essay further, one could question why any African American should vote for Clinton.  Exit polling from Indiana and Kentucky suggested that race was a factor in a significant percentage of the votes (as high as 25%).  

I never saw Clinton suggest that her victory was illigitmate in either place, and yet she clearly benefited from rascism in the later primaries.


[ Parent ]
Serious question for the author (4.00 / 2)
Was any candidate in the 2008 primary a perfect champion of FW, a candidate for whom a vote would not be some form of compromise?

Last I checked, the silver medal went to a woman whose husband signed DOMA (= no marriage rights for you queers) into law, then ran ads bragging about "protecting marriage" on Christian radio.  Not to mention that awful welfare reform, and don't get me started on the rather unfeminist permanent nuclear domination over the rest of the world.  

I'm asking, because based in your answer above, it might seem that the only pure choice is to abstain from participating in the political process, at least outside the hopeless third parties.  Or does being a woman automatically make you a FW hero?


That is not a serious question (4.00 / 4)
And, for the record, I will not treat any questions that contain sexist frames within them ("a woman whose husband" -- they are separate people; "does being a woman automatically make you a FW hero?") as serious.

If you would like to rework your question to exclude the sexist frames and show me you want to have a good-faith argument, then I will respond.


[ Parent ]
Bill (4.00 / 3)
One problem I always had analyzing the Clinton campaign was separating what was misogynist and what was pre-existing Clinton hate.  The fact that much Clinton hate came from the Right's sexist problems with Hillary from early in Bill's career only makes things more confusing.

But I have to disagree that "a woman whose husband" qualifies as a sexist frame for a woman who is running as the former First Lady.  And, of course, this adds to the confusion of what qualifies as sexist and what does not.  Senator Clinton comes from a uniquely female role in a way, say, Senators Boxer and Feinstein do not.  Clinton herself emphasized her White House years more than her Senate years.  (A tactical mistake, in my opinion.)

So to turn this into a question instead of a comment, how did you see Senator Clinton's role as a former First Lady and one of the two much hated (by the MSM) Clintons influence the race coverage and how did you separate that from what was purely sexist?


[ Parent ]
Not Bill (0.00 / 0)
how did you see Senator Clinton's role as a former First Lady and one of the two much hated (by the MSM) Clintons influence the race coverage

That's really a question that's too big for a comment thread; it deserves a post all its own, and it's not particularly relevant to this post, so I'm going to beg off.

how did you separate that from what was purely sexist?

Critiques of Hillary Clinton and/or her campaign that don't use sexist frames aren't sexist.  Critiques that do, are.  Exceptionally easy, really.

And I don't buy the explanations that it's impossible to critique HRC's experience as First Lady (or make any criticisms) without using sexist frames, because I've done it myself plenty of times.

More on this subject here and here.  


[ Parent ]
That doesn't seem quite right (4.00 / 2)
Why wouldn't a properly framed critique that stems from a sexist premise or core be sexist?

For example, I think Obama's putdown -- 'you're likeable enough' -- is the best example of sexism by Obama (maybe there are others, that's the one that as an Obama supporter I've always been bothered by.) But telling someone 'they're likeable enough' is something of a universally applicable frame, isn't it? It's the non-textual, non-framed, unconscious context that is the problem.

It's analogous, IMO, to the general 'I'm fine with a woman president, just not this woman' complaint. That's a perfectly reasonable frame, in theory, if the person saying it can reasonably be expected to not apply it to most or all female candidates. In other words, it's not sexist if it's true.


[ Parent ]
I refer you (0.00 / 0)
to the two posts I linked above.

Key point: Not all sexist frames are overt.  Some of them, like "likeable enough," are oblique and context-dependent.


[ Parent ]
An elephant in the room (0.00 / 0)
But would her candidacy have been as palatable to the MSM and others if she had run entirely on her Senate record?

Of course, that's another question too big for a comment thread, and it's virtually unanswerable at that. But it's not an irrelevant consideration, to my mind.


[ Parent ]
Yes (4.00 / 1)
But would her candidacy have been as palatable to the MSM and others if she had run entirely on her Senate record?

Her experience as First Lady was a given; well known to all.  If she emphasized her senate experience it would have added independence to her campaign.  I don't know if that would have made the difference as her real mistake was her war vote, but it would have helped, I believe.

For example, she has been on the Foreign Relations committee for 7 years, but didn't use that as her answer to foreign policy experience.  Instead we got the lame sniper fire story.


[ Parent ]
Criticizing her Iraq war vote on its own grounds isn't sexist (4.00 / 4)
Critiquing her health care plan becasue you think mandates are bad policy or bad politics isn't sexist. I don't agree that they are bad, but they are not sexist critiques.

However referring to Billary is fundamentally sexist.  She is a person in her own right. She is has opinions, ideas and thoughts that are not his...they are hers.  Any idea that can be shortened to Billary is sexist.

The MSM media critque of Hillary Clinton which was sadly adopted ...first by the readers of the of leftwing blog and then most ominously by the proprietors of those blogs....is sexist.  Why?  Becasue that entire critique of Hillary Clinton from 1992 was created by the right wing and it was undergirded by the right's idea of how woman were supposed to behave.  They weren't supposed to be strong, autonomous, independent women like Hillary ( and now Michelle Obama).

So you know the character assault that was generated becasue the right said Hillary wasn't honest...she wasn't honest because women ween't supposed to behave like her.  So let's get into the litany....

Hillary Clinton was dishonest, dishonorable, would say or do anything to get power to get elected... etc......

Obama didn't say those things on a daily basis but starting in the fall of 2007 his staff on their daily conference call...said exactly thiose things ...and the MSM loved it and furthered it becasue well they helped create it....

So there are the sins of commission and the sins of omission.  In a long term way Obama profited from the sexism that turned Hillary Clinton into a right wing caricature.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
Agree with most (4.00 / 2)
(Having read what I wrote below, I thought I should preface this.  I don't believe rehashing the primary is useful or a good idea.  But we are trying to get to the bottom of sexism in the primary, so I think this is relevant.)

Agree with most of what you said, but have to disagree on Bill, at least to a degree.  Certainly "Billary" charges can be sexist, and often are, but to say all references to Bill, his positions and his presidency in the context of Hillary's campaign are sexist simply isn't fair.  Hillary herself constantly linked herself to that presidency.

Of course she is her own person.  But she is also the former first lady.  Bill said we get "two for the price of one" and I believed him.

Is it sexist to give Hillary some credit for Bill's presidency?  I do.  I also give her some blame for the parts I didn't like.  An an Obama supporter I often felt Senator Clinton tried to have it both ways, get all the credit for Bill's presidency but none of the blame.  That just never seemed fair.

I certainly see where you are coming from, but this is exactly why I often had a hard time telling the difference between sexism and anti-Clintonism.


[ Parent ]
Non-sexist comments (0.00 / 0)
Telling someone they're being sexist, and that they are not serious, as a way to dodge a question is nothing short of obnoxious and condescending.  Not to mention a very convenient dodge of a question which may prove difficult to answer.

And the permanent nuclear domination thing was a HRC policy, while Obama and Edwards both seek to eliminate nuclear weapons.

As other have pointed out, when a woman runs on her experience, surrounds herself with her husband's (former) staff, uses her husband's networks to raise oodles of $ and net delegates before any votes are cast, (And please let's not pretend she got those 100 superdelegates on her own experience and connections--where were all the superdelegates for Dodd, Biden, and others who had been in the senate far longer), it is disingenous for both her and her supporters to claim sexism when confronted with the less pretty history of her husband.

My question stands.  


[ Parent ]
You miss the point completely (4.00 / 1)
McEwan's post wasn't about Hillary vs. Obama, it's at least in part about how we relate to Obama now that he's the Dem nominee.  It raises the issue of independent politics.

And yes, your previous post used sexist framing and was not worthy of response.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


[ Parent ]
I thought (4.00 / 11)
the primary was mercifully over.

You know, there are quite a few people that reject much of your premise, including this:

Even before the primary had ended, feminists/womanists (hereafter FWs) who had become disenchanted with Senator Barack Obama as a result of worrying rhetoric on reproductive rights, his and his campaign's use of sexist dog whistles, and/or his silence in response to an appalling onslaught of misogyny unleashed upon his opponent, were being bullied at any indication (real or imagined) that they would not vote for him.  The usual cudgels were brought out to browbeat them -- Roe (to which I'll return later) and the ominous accusation that if McCain won, it would be their fault.

In fact, I would imagine there are quite a few who think it is a complete load of crap to say that Obama's campaign used sexist dogwhistles, that he was "silent" in response to "an appalling onslaught of misogyny", that Obama was somehow responsible for Chris Matthews being an asshole, or that Hillary's online supporters were "browbeaten". I mean, it's fairly unbelievable to be hearing this from a camp that launched nasty, lie-filled, right-wing smears against Obama for months.

I'll aside your flawed premises.

I've read this very long essay twice now, and I'm not sure what you are trying to say. What is the "illogical calcuation"? Are you saying that it is "illogical" to conclude a vote for Obama is better than a vote for McCain? And before I'm accused of "browbeating", I'm asking the question because that seems to be what you are saying:

• Candidate A is sexist, and at worst will not make things any worse for women.
• Candidate B is sexist, and at best will not make things any worse for women.
• Therefore, feminists should vote for Candidate A.

. . .

The reasoning behind the "perfectly logical" calculation above -- and the related compulsion to cajole alignment with that strategy and/or silence FW criticism -- is predicated on a couple of commonly-held (and oft-cited) assumptions:

. . .

All of these are wrong -- or, at minimum, not always correct.  Let's take them one at a time.




Obama (4.00 / 1)
I would imagine there are quite a few who think it is a complete load of crap to say that Obama's campaign used sexist dogwhistles

periodically, when he got down, the claws came out, sweetie


[ Parent ]
yes (4.00 / 1)
very convincing. Ironclad, in fact.

Based on that, I'll agree that it is not a logical calculation to assume a vote for Obama would be better than a vote for McCain.


[ Parent ]
Not the point at all (4.00 / 6)
You're just making another 'where else are you going to go' argument.  

[ Parent ]
I may be really stepping in it here (4.00 / 1)
but:

'Claws': yes, sexist;

'Sweetie': yes, in this case sexist but not universally (here in the South 'sweetie' is used pretty generically, it seems to me);

'Periodically': No, not sexist. This is a 1988-era PC stretch. This is the kind of complaint that gave PC a bad name.


[ Parent ]
Ahem. (4.00 / 1)
'Periodically': No, not sexist. This is a 1988-era PC stretch. This is the kind of complaint that gave PC a bad name.

A large number of feminist women have voiced concerns and complaints about that phrasing, and identified it as sexist in nature.

What makes you more qualified than they to determine that it's not?


[ Parent ]
Probably nothing, which wouldn't (4.00 / 1)
distinguish this in the least from the majority of the overly-PC complaints circa '88.

[ Parent ]
WOW. (4.00 / 1)
In one breath, you admitted that you have no qualification to say "not sexist" when a large number of feminist women have said "yes sexist", and then dismissed the complaint as "overly -PC" nonetheless.

This should be in the dictionary next to the entry for "male privilege".


[ Parent ]
My objection doesn't stem (0.00 / 0)
from a belief that women don't know sexism when they see it. I eagerly stipulate that I don't 'get' sexism as I should and that I should be mindful of this.

My objection stems from where the line was generally drawn regarding PC v. overly-PC in The Great PC Backlash, circa 1993. Virtually every PC item had an authentic driving source, as does this one. It seems to me, though, that some were generally accepted while others weren't. Of course, we could argue all day and night over where and why those lines should be drawn. I think the line was generally drawn keeping in mind intent, which we men do have a say in, thank you very much. I use the word 'periodically' on a regular basis and would hate to see it removed from the lexicon for this type of reason.


[ Parent ]
CONTEXT. (0.00 / 0)
It's not the word "periodically" itself that was problematic, it was the context in which he used it.

You have to understand that.  I don't know you but from this thread, but you don't seem stupid.  Surely you understand the importance of context.


[ Parent ]
Yes, and I don't mean (4.00 / 1)
to come off as a complete jackass. I know I've been snarky.

I accept that on some level, in some context 'periodically' is/could be sexist. Here I will clearly lay my cards on the table: I don't think Obama's usage qualifies and I think since it is a matter of context and it is such a commonly used word that he should get the benefit of the doubt on this one.


[ Parent ]
Sorry, I'm all out. (4.00 / 1)
I ran out of benefit of the doubt for Obama some time ago.  In isolation, without any of the other things he's said and done since, I would dismiss it as you have.  But with him now actively courting anti-choicers and using right-wing memes about women in his campaign rhetoric, that context makes it impossible.

[ Parent ]
Agreed, that's why I gave it a 'yes' n/t (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
Facts is helpful thingies. (4.00 / 1)
I mean, it's fairly unbelievable to be hearing this from a camp that launched nasty, lie-filled, right-wing smears against Obama for months.

What camp is that?  

I'm going to go ahead and guess that your assertion is that I was a Clinton supporter.  I was not.

Not t


[ Parent ]
Cut myself off... (0.00 / 0)
Not that it changes my argument if I were, but your incredulity is misplaced.  You'll have to find something else on which to blame my flawed premises, I guess.

[ Parent ]
good (4.00 / 1)
I'm glad you agree your premise is completely flawed.

So are you going to answer the question in my post?


[ Parent ]
Nope (4.00 / 2)
It's spelled out in the post already, and you haven't particularly struck me as someone who wants to have a discussion, but someone who wants to have a fight.

Perhaps someone else will accommodate you, as I'm not interested.


[ Parent ]
Yes, that's well understood (4.00 / 9)
Clearly, there are quite a few people who, in order to have supported Obama, needed to believe that he was totally free of wrongdoing and in no way benefitted from sexism. We understand that a great many regard all arguments to the contrary as trumped up and irrelevant.

Clinton was evil, so Obama has to be clear of sin.

That has nothing to do with whether or not Obama is a problematic choice for someone coming from a feminist perspective.

This is a big reason why I've just completely lost the taste for most of this recently. It hasn't been fun realizing how little these issues matter to most people. Even certain other women who'd consider themselves feminist, but repeated misogynist frames against Clinton. It's like, oh yeah, they really never did give a damn, so wtf have I been wasting my time for?

To Melissa: Thanks for writing this, and thanks for writing it here, I hope someone listens. It just makes me too angry.

Though I wish I hadn't read this article. I've managed to tune out so much of this recently, I didn't want to know that our nominee is weak on reproductive rights, on top of everything else. I just don't want to know anymore, I just don't even want to hear about it.


[ Parent ]
Taylor, You're Free Enough To Throw Turds At Me, But Melissa Is A GUEST (4.00 / 4)
What part of "guest" don't you understand?

This is not just me trying to be gallant.  If she came here all rowdy and throwing punches, then I'd say, "sure, have at it, that's the style she's comfortable with."

But it's not.  We are, unfortunately, a white-male heavy site, so let's at least make some effort to curb our testosterone poisoning just for this one discussion thread, and see where that takes us.

Now, as to purpose:  Melissa is not here to continue the primary campaign and battles therein, but to help us learn from them, or through them--in this case about things we should have bloody well known.  

I can understand, regretfully, how people caught up in a campaign can blind themselves to the things Melissa is pointing to here:

Even before the primary had ended, feminists/womanists (hereafter FWs) who had become disenchanted with Senator Barack Obama as a result of worrying rhetoric on reproductive rights, his and his campaign's use of sexist dog whistles, and/or his silence in response to an appalling onslaught of misogyny unleashed upon his opponent, were being bullied at any indication (real or imagined) that they would not vote for him.  The usual cudgels were brought out to browbeat them -- Roe (to which I'll return later) and the ominous accusation that if McCain won, it would be their fault.

But if you sincerely want your candidate to win, then it behooves you now to really listen to this in a non-defensive manner.  Because like it or not, this is how many people saw things, and I'm sure you must realize that in politics perceptions matter.

In short, if you can't accept the premise, there is still plenty to be learned from and about the people for whom the premise is ture.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Taylor's comment (3.50 / 8)
is an excellent example of Obama supporters responding in a counter-productive way to Democrats who are not sold on Obama.

I've written a long post on this subject:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyo...

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.


[ Parent ]
Tsk tsk tsk (4.00 / 1)
Don't lump people together like that. It's in and of itself unproductive and unreasonable.

[ Parent ]
Tsk tsk YOURSELF! (4.00 / 1)
Troll rating someone just because you disagree?

And then can't even clearly articulate why?

Lumping who together, exactly?

You need to take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror when it comes to "unproductive and unreasonable."

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
There is no lumping together. (4.00 / 2)
It is a statement about how to respond to critics. Critics are good. WEe want critics, critics don't hurt they help.
One of the problems of America the last few decades, is the lack of discourse and information. The total control of our public space by brain dead entertainment pretending to be discussion makes it almost impossible to inject ideas, or theories or even just information into discussions.

Some discussions are not about whether you win or loose the talk. "I won that talk" Its just stupid. some discussions are about the information contained in the exchange. Some discussions make you a better progressive, and that is the purpose.

The OP, our guest is giving information, that is intended to make you, us, better progressives, to move us forward. It is not intended, as desmoinesdem's comment is not intended, to hurt you or anyone else, it is intended to help people become better at what we are all doing. Which is making a country that deserves to have your daughter in it.

It is not my country right or wrong, it is not my candidate right or wrong, it is not my argument right or wrong.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
if you read the diary I linked to (4.00 / 1)
You would see that I didn't lump people together. I gave examples of Obama supporters who had good, constructive responses to Democrats who weren't buying what Obama was selling during the primaries.

I also gave examples of ineffective, counter-productive comments by different Obama supporters.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.


[ Parent ]
"Taylor's comment" (0.00 / 0)
is a perfectly appropriate and understandable response to a months-long line of crap that was repeatedly alleged about Obama and his campaign, by Hillary's online supporters, many of whom where actively engaged in repeating rightwing smears of Obama.

[ Parent ]
Pick a better guest blogger next time. (1.00 / 4)
I asked a serious question above, and was accused of sexism.  Next time, can we please get someone less rude and condescending to guest blog?

[ Parent ]
You must be joking! (4.00 / 4)
Seriously! She points out your sexist assumptions and you instantly get all defensive and even more sexist in response! Do you honestly believe this is buying you credibility? It's not. You've just permanently labeled yourself a sexist jerk!

Try a little humility next time. I know it's hard for you to be humble towards a woman, but that's sort of part of the point here, isn't it?


[ Parent ]
Whatever (0.00 / 0)
It's self-righteous, hypersensitive people like the author of this post, and you, who serve as perfect examples as to why progressives have spent the last 30 years mostly losing.

P.S. Just FYI, I was raised by a single mother, and have been happily married to a feminist, and active in the queer community since 1994.


[ Parent ]
Hillary's supporter were browbeaten (4.00 / 3)
One of the frontpagers at one of them knows it, admitted it sadly to me...to his credit..and felt he was not in position to keep back the raging tide of animus in that place.

I was browbeaten...I know the difference between ganging up and disagreement.  here there is disagreement...elsewhere there was ganging up.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
or perhaps (0.00 / 0)
you were troll-rated at DKos because you were trolling. Give me a break. You spam a bunch of comments in a diary you don't like, call people "liars", and wonder why you get troll-rated? And by the way, you have a grand total of 8 comments with troll-ratings, and it looks to me like only 2 are hidden.  

[ Parent ]
You don't see the sexism, so that is one problem. If you don't understand what it is and how it works, then you can't see it. (0.00 / 0)
Your second problem is that even though you read the piece twice, you still have no idea what the point is.  You ask: "Are you saying that it is "illogical" to conclude a vote for Obama is better than a vote for McCain?"

Lots of people seem to fail to grasp the logic of not voting for Obama if you are a liberal.  It brings certain people to a standstill, and they give up, calling anyone who would make that choice a liar, covert republican, or crazy.

Those who can't grasp this seem to hate PUMA's.  PUMA is a real grassroots movement, it's not planned or scripted.  Many PUMAs have not decided who to vote for or if they can vote at all.  It's a response to voters who feel they can't support a candidate who does not represent them.

Not being able to vote for Obama, or having doubts about supporting him is a direct result of his statements, positions and actions.  Nobody who is a liberal is happy about not being able to support Obama.

If you can't grasp the logic of not being able to support Obama, even though he isn't "as bad" as McCain, it is probably because you don't understand the way that people who do not have power have to make decisions.

You probably think that not voting for Obama is something like "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" - that it is a foolish or self destructive act.  And while not voting for Obama may actually be self destructive in some ways, the choice is not foolish.  Here is why:  If we accept being treated this way, we will continue to be treated this way.

It's like a woman who is in an abusive relationship.  If she leaves she may end up living in poverty, if she tries to get away she may face death threats and more abuse than if she just put up with the occasional abuse.  So is she better off just staying?  Only she knows if it is worth it to live that way, or if it is worth the consequences to her to try to leave.  

What if there are children involved?  Let's say they would be "better off" if she stays and puts up with it.  Better off financially, perhaps even physically safer, but at what price to them spiritually, to live in that situation?

There are some slaves who feel it is more worth while to die fighting than to live without dignity.  


[ Parent ]
this was meant as a response to: taylormattd @ Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 18:21 (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
Indeed (4.00 / 6)
"... Forward movement for women can happen even in dictatorships, and can be reversed even in democracies -- because women's equality is inextricably linked to so many other cultural variables, like religiosity. ..."

Iraq, pre-war, and dictatorial Syria and Jordan, are among the more hospitable Mideast countries for women. I speak relatively, of course, but they are/were all better for women than today's Iraq.


Not just democracy, but what kind of democracy. (0.00 / 0)
This is why we protect minority rights by undemocratic means.

John McCain thinks we haven't spent enough time in Iraq

[ Parent ]
I'd question the phrasing (4.00 / 3)
Democracy without minority rights isn't really democracy, it's just majoritarianism.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
Soviet Central Asia (4.00 / 1)
is another example of how women can gain rights even in an oppressive dictatorship.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

[ Parent ]
Wow. (4.00 / 2)

Where to begin  -- there's so much food for thought in this essay, and of course Paul already covered one of the highlights.

 it's clear that there are people who don't understand how fighting for control of the White House/Congress and fighting for one's own equality are not the same thing for everyone all the time.

 I'd always hoped and believed that all our fights would come together, but it's just not true, and it's a bitter pill to swallow.  There have been and will continue to be tough choices to make.  Voting for FDR after he wouldn't champion the anti-lynching bill comes to mind.  

 The Dems are falling down on the job of serving their FW constituents in general and women specifically.

 This could be generalized to various groups, and it bears thinking about.



John McCain thinks we haven't spent enough time in Iraq

Yes (4.00 / 4)
This could be generalized to various groups, and it bears thinking about.

Yes.  And, because it's probably a good thing just to note generally, I want to make clear that because I'm writing here specifically about feminists/womanists (and only a subset of them, at that; I don't claim, nor intend to try, to speak for every FW), it shouldn't be presumed I have no interest in the Democratic Party's shortcomings in regard to civil and LGBTIQ rights.  That just wasn't the subject for this particular symposium.

Also, because it has already come up and certainly will again, I am equally as concerned about racism being used against Barack Obama, and sexism and/or racism being used against Michelle Obama.  (Those are the latest posts in two separate series; the previous entries are linked at the bottom of each.)

Large parts of the post are indeed applicable for many different demographics and intersectionalities.  This shouldn't be read at the others' expense, but as one part of a comprehensive discussion that ideally would encompass them all.


[ Parent ]
Since this is OpenLeft (4.00 / 4)

I'll note that, aside from morality and idealism, the simple political truth that a party that does not serve its constituencies well is asking for trouble. 



John McCain thinks we haven't spent enough time in Iraq

[ Parent ]
Obama has been increasingly pissing me off... (4.00 / 5)
...And I don't know what to do.
Its really frustrating hear him talk about abstinence education and the teach-children-sex-is-sacred crap.

I know exactly what you are saying in this post, and I've been pissed off that dissent is being yelled at, because its undermines the ULTIMATE GOAL (having Obama as the president - never mind what he says/does to get there).

I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but I am glad you've written about it.


Link please for the abstinence education bit (0.00 / 0)
Not saying it's not true, just haven't heard this one particular complaint until now...

[ Parent ]
Links (0.00 / 0)
I found it here: http://www.feministe.us/blog/a...

But its from the same Relevant Magazine interview in which he talked about "mental distress" not being part of "health of mothers": http://www.relevantmagazine.co...


[ Parent ]
Thank you (0.00 / 0)
Just skimmed through it and, yes, that is a disturbing quote. Thank you for pointing it out.

[ Parent ]
Much of this argument seems (4.00 / 2)
to parallel those for Nader that were so popular up until around early November 2000. Solid in the particulars, weak as a whole.

I agree that there was a healthy dose of sexism in this campaign and that Clinton supporters, especially women, have a legitimate gripe here. This would mean more to me, though, to be perfectly honest, if Clinton supporters had argued for their candidate and against Obama in a better faith manner: accepting the possibility that racist, as well as sexist, arguments were being made; accepting the fact that from 2/5 on she was losing; not making shit up out of whole cloth as convenient (i.e., coming out against caucuses after losing a bunch of caucuses.)

Sure, sexism matters. So does all this other stuff. It would be much easier to get Obamatrons to take Clintonista complaints, however legitimate they are, seriously if they hadn't so easily and willingly slipped into collective irrationality for such a sustained period of time.


Woah there. (4.00 / 1)
You do realize that the whole "irrationality" bit is a very old, very common sexist trope, used to silence feminist or "uppity" women, don't you?

As for the rest...leaving aside the fact that Melissa linked to a series of posts on her blog about the racism directed at Obama, that the "fact" of her losing after 2/5 was neither guaranteed nor even very clear, and that your "making shit up out of whole cloth" example is extremely tenuous...

Why must Clinton supporters, or anybody else, for that matter, jump through all of your hoops in order to earn the right to have their complaints of sexism taken seriously?  


[ Parent ]
Melissa has made it (4.00 / 2)
clear that she wasn't a Clinton supporter and my post was focused on Clinton supporters, as was hers. Why might they not support Obama v. why I might immediately care (as much as I should.)

Irrational arguments are irrational arguments and should be called such. These irrational arguments happened to be made by HRC supporters, many of whom were women. There's nothing I can do about this. For what it's worth, I think polarized politics makes people irrational, not chromosomes. It certainly wasn't the first or only example of this type of thing in modern American electoral politics.


[ Parent ]
WHAT irrational arguments? (4.00 / 1)
If you're going to argue that they are irrational, you need to actually, y'know, PROVE it.

Simply saying "irrational!" is not a proof of anything.


[ Parent ]
Okay (4.00 / 1)
The after-the-fact 'this and that' contests don't and shouldn't count, to take just one example. And, now that I think about it, maybe 'irrational' isn't the right word. 'Disingenious' may be more accurate.  

[ Parent ]
Sold me! My only question is, "What?" (0.00 / 0)
Seriously, what does "after-the-fact 'this and that' contests don't and shouldn't count" mean, anyway?

[ Parent ]
caucuses,overly red states, small states, Southern states, (4.00 / 2)
states with a lot of African Americans, and overly blue latte states. Anything non-battleground as defined by HRC, staff, and supporters.  

[ Parent ]
Huh? (0.00 / 0)
You're not making a bit of sense.  You need to use full sentences and develop your ideas so that people can understand you.

[ Parent ]
Okay, my bad (4.00 / 1)
The following are my original answers with complete-sentence parenthetical add-ons for the context-impaired:

(I am referring to) after-the-fact (arguments about) 'this and that' contests (that) don't and shouldn't count, to take just one example. And, now that I think about it, maybe 'irrational' isn't the right word. 'Disingenious' may be more accurate.

(The 'this and that' that I so carelessly, casually, non-grammatically, and alarmingly alluded to would best be exemplified by)caucuses, overly red states, small states, Southern states, states with a lot of African Americans, and overly blue latte states. (In other words, they would include)Anything non-battleground as defined by HRC, staff, and supporters.

(I) hope this helps (you in your sincere efforts to comprehend my responses).


[ Parent ]
Ah. (0.00 / 0)
Well, I'm not going to take a side on that issue.  But, the arguments about caucuses, and the problems with them that this primary revealed, are hardly irrational.  You may disagree with them, and argue with them; I can see both sides of that issue, and there are some good points on both sides.  

But dismissing as "irrational" the argument that caucuses, as compared to primaries, are more prone to "mob rule" and less representative of the people's will, hardly seems appropriate.


[ Parent ]
To ber fair, the comments are about (0.00 / 0)
constantly shifting, always self serving, collection of excuses as to why the rules should not be upheld. It was never a discussion about the future reform of the system, or the future restructuring of the primary system so much as arguments for why the overturning of the rules mid game was patently "cheating" as Donna Brazille pointed out.


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
disingenuous? (4.00 / 1)
Also sexist! Here is the dictionary.com definition:

-adjective
lacking in frankness, candor, or sincerity; falsely or hypocritically ingenuous; insincere: Her excuse was rather disingenuous.


[ Parent ]
I hope you're joking. (0.00 / 0)
A crappy online dictionary uses a female pronoun in an example of a word with negative meaning and suddenly any use of it is a sexist frame?  The funny thing is, that "her" is probably the result of this dictionary's attempt to clean up its grammatically sexist act by scattering female pronouns through the dictionary.

[ Parent ]
Perhaps not (0.00 / 0)
Do we use the words "irrational" and "disingenuous" much with guys?  We think and assume we do, but do we really?  Perhaps not.

[ Parent ]
Words are swords (0.00 / 0)
I think there are a lot of words that, placed in the right frame, could easily offend someone. And, sometimes words are taken as an offense to score a point.

Thanks eustiscg for pointing out the gender program in the crappy dictionary. That is interesting.  


[ Parent ]
I agree with eusticg; "disingenuous" is NOT sexist (0.00 / 0)
If a crappy online dictionary had used "His" instead of her would that be evidence that disingenuous is not sexist?

It's precisely behavior like this (clutching at random needles in a haystack that when viewed in a particular angle MAY have a tinge of sexism) that extended and animated the PC wars of the 1990s and drove away potential allies to the FW cause of dismantling oppression.

Also, concentrating on the word "disingenuous" instead of responding to the actual argument: "The Clinton camp started disingenuously devaluing contests that they were losing ONLY after they lost them" (i.e. they had no problem with "undemocratic" caucuses in 2007) makes it even more difficult to conduct an honest dialogue and to pursue communication and education on both sides.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Mad Professah Lectures


[ Parent ]
I actually agree with you 100% (0.00 / 0)
I was reacting (tongue in cheek) to previous comments that overreacted to words like 'periodic.' At some point this mincing of words becomes ridiculous.  

[ Parent ]
Polite education (0.00 / 0)
Sorry for the snark, but what exactly is the non-sexist way to insult someone's honestly?  :-)

In all seriousness, this is the kind of sexism that permeates our society at an unconscious level.  It is quite possible that Matt would not have used the words "irrational" or "disingenuous" if he thought he was talking to a male.  But I bet Matt didn't know it.  I certainly wouldn't pick up on it.

For those highly involved in the FW world, this might be obvious.  Heck, for all I know it might be obvious to most women.  But that doesn't make it obvious to the rest of us.

Perhaps polite education is more in order than anything else.

(Is "polite" sexist?  Seriously, I find myself questioning whether I would use that word if I thought I was talking to a male...  and I'm not sure.)


[ Parent ]
Not to nitpick (0.00 / 0)
but there are plenty of ways that the word "polite" could be misconstrued because it implies a certain social decorum with gender implications. Polite Society? I wouldn't use it.

[ Parent ]
Not a nitpick at all (0.00 / 0)
I was honest when I asked that question.  It literally occurred to me just before I posted my reply that "polite" had strong female connotations to it.

But if it wasn't for the subject matter of this diary, I never would have noticed.  And even then, I wasn't sure.  Instead of changing it, I thought it more interesting to leave in with the question and see if I was correct.  Let's call it, "proactive education".  :-)

This all relates to the post below where it is pointed out we are all sexist and racist.  But that doesn't mean we are bad people, not at this level.  Even though this stuff is right in front of our noses, it isn't obvious -- unless you are looking for it and know what to look for.


[ Parent ]
This doesn't have anything to do with how Clinton supporters behaved (4.00 / 5)
And if you can't put that aside to engage the arguments in this post, that's not about Clinton supporters; that's about you.

Irrespective of your ability or willingness to wrap your head around this reality, some of the women (and men) about whom I'm speaking in this post were Obama supporters during the primary.  Some of them still are Obama supporters.  Some of them don't know WTF they're going to do yet come November.

What they share in common is not who they supported, but that they consider women's rights a priority.


[ Parent ]
Okay. (0.00 / 0)
Alright, I reread your post and, yes, you're right. I saw the mention of dog whistles and the like in the first paragraph and didn't read fairly after that. Sorry about that.

I've got a few problems, still, though.

First, I agree that it's not all about appointing judges that will uphold Roe v. Wade but every problem you subsequently mention (parental notification, etc.) is just as much a function of those same judges. I don't think it's too much of a jump to assume that 'uphold Roe v. Wade' is pretty similar to a lot of people to 'uphold a woman's right to choose.' I'm strongly pro-choice and that is without question how I mean it.

This true more generally for the other 'anti-Dem' (for lack of a will to find the perfect term) arguments -- this is about electoral politics. Bill Clinton -- as ideologically an inconsistent president as any other I suppose -- did a splendid job of appointing judges. Dems have simply been outrageously outnumbered for going on 15 years now.

I'm not sure what about appointing relatively pro-choice judges is not a victory for women.


[ Parent ]
Pro-Choice Judges (4.00 / 4)
I didn't see where she said appointing pro-choice judges is not a victory for women.  I think the argument is that using judicial appointments as a threat is a poor way to get FWs disturbed by some of Obama's words and actions on board with his candidacy.

Obama's own words, in fact, help to undermine that argument for those who have a better understanding of the history of court cases involving abortion.  For instance, the parental notification rules as well as a host of other restrictive measures used by states to restrict access to abortion stem not out of Roe v. Wade but out of the 1992 case Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, in which the court approved a host of restrictions surrounding access to abortion that Pennsylvania had passed into law through use of a new "undue burden" measure.

Here's the fun part:  Sandra Day O'Connor--you know, the one who did not support overturning Roe--more or less created the "undue burden" roadmap for states to greatly restrict access to abortion.  So really, any talk of "pro-choice judges" needs to be based not just on a desire to uphold or overturn Roe but on a broader assessment of support for access to abortion.

So here's where it gets complicated for Obama.  Considering he feeds into some of these right wing frames surrounding abortions, it's entirely reasonable to think he might nominate "pro-choice judges" whose support of abortion goes right up to upholding Roe--and little else.  Considering that Roe is only one piece of a much broader abortion-rights puzzle, that does not necessarily mean much for the fight for abortion rights.  Abortion can be completely legal and still be completely unavailable, as it largely is in many states at this point.

Now, I don't really know what kind of judges Obama will ultimately appoint, but if they correspond to some of his rhetoric surrounding abortion, it may very well be judges in the Sandra Day O'Connor mold, who support Roe but have little concern over otherwise greatly restricting abortion.  That makes it even tougher to use the "We must save Roe!" argument for those who have a more nuanced understanding of the complex history behind abortion rights.

(Note: I believe the history I have here is pretty much right, but I could be a little off, so anyone with better knowledge who recognizes any mistakes or sees areas that need to be expanded, please jump in.)


[ Parent ]
Nope (4.00 / 4)
First, I agree that it's not all about appointing judges that will uphold Roe v. Wade but every problem you subsequently mention (parental notification, etc.) is just as much a function of those same judges.

Not all of the restrictions on abortion rights have been decided in the court; many (if not most) are proposed and passed in state legislatures.  (Not all have been challenged in court.)  Federal, state, and local funding of clinics has nothing to do with "those same judges."  Fights over zoning laws and gifted property to build new clinics, again, may find their way to court, but oftentimes never make it that far.  If you honestly think that every encroachment on reproductive rights has been decided in a courtroom, you've got some catching up to do.

I don't think it's too much of a jump to assume that 'uphold Roe v. Wade' is pretty similar to a lot of people to 'uphold a woman's right to choose.' I'm strongly pro-choice and that is without question how I mean it.

Yes -- and that's just my point: You're wrong.  That framing suggests that legal abortion is like an on-off switch, which is, in my experience, the way lots of progressive men (and women) think about it.  

But it's not remotely that simple.  Legal abortion is only worth as much as the number of women have reasonable and affordable and unencumbered access to it.  That number is dwindling; IIRC, as of the year 2000, less than a third of the incorporated counties in the US had abortion clinics. That's not just inconvenience -- the cost can become an undue burden, between travel expenses and time off work.

If getting an abortion is prohibitively inconvenient, expensive, or whatever for loads of women in the US, once again I ask, what is "upholding their right to choose" supposed to mean to them in practical terms?  

I really think you need to consider what it sounds like to one of those women when she's told how her right to choose is best supported by someone who treats Roe as a magical abortion access password.


[ Parent ]
This was an argument I started making in the 90's (4.00 / 1)
That in some parts of the country abortion could become as problematic in its actual availablilty as was the right to vote in the South prior to the Voting Rights Act.  It was technically legal for a black man or woman to vote but accessing that right actually was well nigh impossible.

In larger swathes of this country that is becoming true...and Obama further narrowing it by saying mantal distress was insufficient grounds for an abortion adds to that inaccessibility.  

Oh by the way, the first time I ever spoke to Hillary Clinton, at the urging of her friend,  Judy Lichtman, then head of  National Partnership for Women and Families...it was to put forward this argument.  She understood what I meant immediately.  

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
I agree with everything you said (4.00 / 1)
but the composition of the Supreme Court and the federal bench will affect a lot more FW issues than Roe. The Lilly Ledbetter case (where the court said women who are discriminated against have to file suit within 180 days of the first act of discrimination, even if they didn't find out about the discrimination until years later) is just one example.

I still think the Supreme Court is the "trump card" argument for voting for Obama, and I say that as someone who didn't support him and has low expectations for his presidency.

More thoughts on this subject in this post:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyo...

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.


[ Parent ]
This is a very valid argument (0.00 / 0)
I guess I'd counter with, then, if providing funding for abortion and family planning access is something that motivates you, and if you feel that getting federal funding for those types of at-risk populations is something that national Democrats should pursue, do you think a President McCain will ever sign such legislation? Because such legislation would surely not pass with a veto-proof majority even in our expanded Democratic majorities next year.

I hope this doesn't come off sounding flip, because I am not trying to be so. But ending abstinence only family planning and expanding the access of lower-income populations to abortion providers are laudable goals imo for Democrats to aspire to enact, and will be impossible with a President McCain.

I will also say, I consider myself a pro-choice guy, but I do think it gets trickier when we're talking about abortions at or near viability. I don't think any state has any right to restrict in any manner the abortion rights of women during the first 5 months of pregnancy -- that is her full right to decide. Past 22 or 24 weeks, however, through about 6 full months, it gets trickier, and I think abortions past 7 months should be restricted unless we're talking about serious health issues for either the mother or the baby. I guess that that might put me too far to the right for many staunchly pro-choice women, but I am guessing that there are many people who consider themselves pro-choice that feel the same way.

I am fairly certain Obama was talking about restrictions to these types of abortions only in cases where the fetus is already viable. For women that have been fighting this fight for a long time politically and that are rightly suspicious of trojan horse stalking of abortion rights, I can understand the anger at him for (again, annoyingly) embracing right wing frames and doing so in venues where it appears he's throwing the left under the bus. But I think we should be clear that he's not talking about all abortions, but abortions past fetus viability.


[ Parent ]
late-term abortions have a lot of myth-baggage (4.00 / 1)
The problem comes in when you realize that very few post-viability abortions are performed. Only 1% of abortions occur after the 22nd week; third-trimester abortions are only performed by 2 clinics in the country, and then only if the risk to the mother's health (physical or otherwise) outweighs the not-insignificant physical trauma of a late-term abortion.    If you believe that these abortions exist in any meaningful quantity, you are (knowingly or not) arguing inside a right-wing frame and perpetuating several myths that are extremely damaging to the pro-choice cause. Obama did this not once but twice, as his "clarification" was within a different anti-choice frame; and when someone as gifted with words as Obama keeps on using such boneheaded language, I'm left wondering if it's because he doesn't understand the issue or because he understands it perfectly well and wants to mask a position that is fundamentally anti-choice.

[ Parent ]
okay (0.00 / 0)
That was my impression (re: rarity of later-term abortions), but I wasn't sure. That being the case, I confess I don't understand the optics of this debate (I'm mostly in learning mode here on this thread, so I'm happy to learn from pro-choice activists who are my progressive bedfellows what I need to learn more about on this issue) -- ensure that later term abortions for health issues (including terminations for severe health issues with the baby) continue to be legal in all states as mandated by the court decisions, but otherwise shift the focus of the fight to increasing funding overall for family planning and abortion access especially in lower income communities and in at-risk communities.

debcoop elsewhere on this thread made the persuasive case that in many places abortion access is de facto closed to many women because of the strangling of access. Since later term abortions are so rare, doesn't it make sense to fight for the funding while guarding tenaciously the right to an unfettered right and access to abortion pre-22 weeks? Or am I missing something?

BTW, as I mentioned in my first thread, I think it's beyond fair to be majorly pissed at Obama for being inarticulate on this as you described. He's smart enough to know better. And his proclivity for sticking a finger in the eye of his base (on describing activists in the 60s and 70s, on abortion, on FISA, etc.) is annoying and risky for his election. He should have laid the facts down as you described and used the opportunity to educate.  


[ Parent ]
I agree that reducing the need for late-term abortion, and indeed abortion in general, is a net good, but... (0.00 / 0)
The problem with not well-protecting later-term abortion rights is twofold: one, you get legal battles over whether the woman "really" needed one for her health (it happens in some Latin American countries, though shamefully I can't remember which; you may want to take this stat with a grain of salt). Two, there's a lot of slippery slope potential: once the law has decided that the potential humanity of a fetus outweighs a woman's bodily autonomy at x weeks, rather than at birth, it's a lot easier to move x back and forth.

While I agree that the bulk of our efforts should be concentrated on improving contraception access and access to earlier-term abortions, emergencies do happen and women who have to abort previously-wanted, suddenly-untenable pregnancies deserve their rights protected too.


[ Parent ]
Right (0.00 / 0)
I definitely agree with your last paragraph. And I also definitely understand the slippery slope argument, and, after reading all the replies on this (massive) thread, realize I have some thinking to do on the later-term stuff, especially as medicine makes 'viability' an increasingly unclear term. I am beginning to see the problem in all of us, especially since the other side is quite unlikely to ever cede any ground.

Thanks for the replies.  


[ Parent ]
This kind of information needs to get out there (4.00 / 2)
I certainly knew third trimester abortions were rare but had no clue that "third-trimester abortions are only performed by 2 clinics in the country."

And if I didn't know that as a relatively high-information liberal, it is a good guess that roughly zero percent of the voting population knows it.  This is exactly the kind of information that needs to get out there.

Conceptually, I'm fairly moderate on abortion, much like Ron.  There is certainly a point in the fetus' development it becomes a human with some rights and conceptually I'm willing to take those rights into account legally.  But the more I look into the reality of the law and health profession, the more I realize the "hard line" pro-choice side is correct.  The legal system simply can't micro-manage this stuff, even in the third trimester.

Society as a whole has always been moving leftward on the social side.  Our youth are far more gay-friendly, less sexist or racist and so on.  Abortion is the one exception.  We need to do a better job getting this kind of information out.


[ Parent ]
Exactly (0.00 / 0)
Thanks, Mark, for very eloquently articulating my (quickly) evolving stance on this issue. I am willing to deal with the consequences of the occasional 'bad' abortion if it ensures that the right of women to their own liberty and self-determination in the reproductive rights arena is enhanced.  

[ Parent ]
Not irrationality -- low information (4.00 / 2)
In Melissa's terms, I'm a FW -- and I too felt along with Matt H that there was something incredibly annoying about the fact that Clinton supporters resisted "accepting the fact that from 2/5 on she was losing..."

That is, I was annoyed until I dug into this a bit with some of them and realized that what I was perceiving as stubborn denial was simply low-information. These folks weren't political junkies. Part of the Clinton appeal had been inevitability, and they bought it. Clinton herself was telling them she could still win. The MSM wasn't telling them yet that Clinton had lost; to know that, you had to be doing your own political reading and thinking. They were too busy.

And you know that just makes them normal. Those of us who immerse ourselves in this stuff all the time are the freaks. And if we want to be able to have any influence with our more normal sisters and brothers, we better not forget it.

After Indiana, my low information Clinton supporter friends mostly began to get it. And, let's be real here, the very few residual Clinton "supporters" now voting for McCain have largely turned out to be McCainbots all along.  

Can it happen here?


[ Parent ]
I could tell you lots of anecdotes (0.00 / 0)
about low-information Obama supporters--people who fell in love with the image created by his marketing and couldn't tell you one thing he stood for or one thing he'd ever done or one reason why he was any better than the other Democrats in any policy area.

If I did, you'd probably be offended, just like I found your comments about low-information Clinton supporters offensive.

She hadn't lost until the superdelegates brought down the curtain. Arguably it was obvious for months that the supers were going to hand the nomination to Obama, but to suggest that angry Clinton supporters were just too busy to do their own reading and thinking is way off base.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.


[ Parent ]
She was not referring to Clinton supporters in total (0.00 / 0)
but that sub group, of Clinton supporters who are also low information citizens. I am not sure that the designation is a constructive one, though it is descriptive. How else to describe those that can't explain the difference between a procedure and a policy. "Oh i don't do politics, but I know what I like."

The dumbing down of the citizens of America is very real, and not the "fault"  of the average L.I.V. --  

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Hey -- I'm not offended (4.00 / 3)
Low information Obama supporters have been driving me crazy from the get-go. I publicly shredded a naive letter one of them sent me early on.

And the Clinton supporters I know weren't (mostly) angry that their candidate wasn't winning. They were more mystified. And they quite rightly saw the sexism hurled at Clinton, while, being white and only peripheral to communities of color, they had a harder time in seeing the racism that shaped Obama's candidacy.

I'll continue to pitch that we can't expect most people, most of the time, to live politics obsessively. They won't. When they do, they do it in the interest of being able to stop being bothered or hurt by government. One of the things we've lost in this country is ordinary folks doing politics because they believe that only through collective, government, action, they can make their lives better. But it is the lives they care about -- for folks who are not political junkies, politics is a means to an end, not a life.

Can it happen here?


[ Parent ]
DIfference between now and 2000 (0.00 / 0)
I will admit to voting for Nader in 2000 (Yeah, mistake.)  But the reason I did it was not only did I consider Gore a right-wing democrat (see Lieberman, Joe, vice-president), but her primary opponent, Bill Bradley, was a member of the DLC.

Thus, in 2000, I had a right-wing democrat being literally forced on me, without even the chance to vote in the primary for someone more progressive.  Had Dennis Kucinich or, hell, John Kerry, run in 2000 and lost, I probably would've voted for Gore.

To me at least, there's a big differce between giving it a go and losing and being totally excluded from the game.


[ Parent ]
Thanks, Melissa (0.00 / 0)
for your fine post.

I was willing--perhaps too willing--to give Obama and his campaign a pass for sexist comments because if there's one thing this primary taught us, it's that in our political culture, sexism is rampant. I don't think any single thing Team Obama did was worse than, say, John Edwards criticizing Hillary for crying, and even Team Hillary reinforced sexist lies by trying to give her figurative testicles. Which is to say that the sexism (and silence in the face of sexism) coming from the Obama camp wasn't extraordinary but painfully ordinary.

That said, there were some sexist remarks so blatant and offensive they continue to infuriate me, and not all of them were said by Chris Matthews. I'm thinking of Josh Marshall's wondering if Hillary castrated Mark Penn.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/a...

Does it bother you, Melissa, that Marshall wasn't roundly condemned and that he's still a progressive in good standing?  I guess I shouldn't be surprised that sexism is accepted in the progressive blogopsphere, but I am, a little.


Everyday sexisms ... (4.00 / 1)
Actually, even after the well-established and known misogyny and sexism of the likes of Atrios and Aravosis, some of us thought we were well expecting the sexism of the so-called progressive blogosphere.

We were wrong.

Even we were shocked by the levels of sexism and misogyny that crawled out from the banal and the mundane to bask in the sun, not surprised mind you given our previous experiences, but definitely shocked at the levels of it.

The only 'good' thing this all did was show how much work on the patriarchy we still have in front of us, and also how much of the everyday simply is intertwined with misogyny and sexism. Note, none of this excuses the racism that was also highly present, but similarly, the racism present does in no way excuse the sexism.

(with the need for disclosure, I'm a member of the shakesville group-blog, usually as a commenter, but occasionally as a poster as well)


[ Parent ]
Atrios????????? (4.00 / 2)
I read Atrios through out the primary. I don't remember a single post that could be described as sexist. In fact, it was obvious he found the whole thing painful and mostly blogged about economic issues and media madness.

[ Parent ]
I gave Atrios up way before the primary (0.00 / 0)
I was actually talking about actions prior to the primary, and how those made it possible for us not to be surprised (though, yes, shocked) by the sexism and misogyny coming from the 'progressive' (or, as we call it, the fauxgressive) blogosphere.

[ Parent ]
some references? (0.00 / 0)
Hi Sarah- like AliceDem, I was a bit surprised by Atrios' inclusion in your list. I never noticed any sexism from him. Do you have any examples of it off the top of your head?



[ Parent ]
Thanks For Commenting, Sarah (0.00 / 0)
"Shocked but not surprised" at the level of sexism and misogyny describes my take to a "t".

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
I honestly don' t understand this (4.00 / 4)
shock at the level of progressive sexism and racism (and homophobic and antisemitic and every other awful prejudice).

These things aren't some evil that only inhabit the 'other'; they're a part of our society, our culture, and us. Do progressives really think that progressives aren't sexist? That just confounds me. Can't they look into themselves and see the sexism? Are progressives shocked that progressives are racist? They're so completely certain that they themselves are not racist?

If we want a conversation about sexism, the presence and function of sexism in the primary and in the party and in the progressive movement, strikes me that the first step is to say that of course we're sexist. Men, women, children--we benefit from (and are also injured by, of course) a sexist society, our minds are formed by a sexist culture. Fine. That's life. I'm sexist, I'm racist. We don't need to wear sackcloth and ashes and gnash our teeth--that's just the state of humans. We're not gonna change that. What we can change, and what I thought we wanted to change, as progressives, is what we do with our sexism.

Is that what people found shocking? That some progressives actually revealed the depth of sexism and racism that we all contain? I suppose so. I suppose that what this comes down to is, one thing we as progressives do with our prejudices is not act on them! And airing them so overtly is acting on them pretty loudly.

That's a fine point. But whenever I start reading a thread like this I always get the sense that half the commenters were simply horrified to learn that other progressives actually feel racism and sexism ... because they themselves, of course, are completely absent that sort of ugliness.

Well, and not just commenters. Both my favorite candidate, Edwards, as well as Clinton and Obama, made comments that seem fairly obviously sexist or racist. (Probably all of them made comments that were both...) And these statements were treated like the candidate crossed some horrible line and revealed some ugly truth that's uniquely about them.

Obama is sexist! We're shocked to discover, for some reason.
Clinton is racist! OMG! Who'd have guessed!?

And these things, these not just common but universal flaws, are then seized upon as if they have great meaning--revelatory meaning, in fact. And contain ultimate judgments, too.

What am I missing?  


[ Parent ]
I'm sexist, I'm racist (4.00 / 5)
Great observations.  And yes, most everybody misses this.

Intellectually, nobody calling him or herself a liberal (or progressive, if you must) is sexist or racist.  But we are all swimming in the sea of our own culture, largely inherited from cultures thousands of years old.  Racism is at least 500 years old and sexism goes back more or less forever.  Of course, we all fall victim to this, usually without realizing it.

My favorite example is one I realized back in college.  When I was a child Sesame Street had no female muppets.  The Children's Television Workshop, the heart of liberal media on PBS, a show that went out if its way show every race and gender in atypical roles, failed to provide a single female muppet.

Even Big Bird, who I thought was a girl, was a boy bird.

But that is the male assumption built into our society and some of the most liberal people out there unconscientiously succumbed to it.


[ Parent ]
Mark, that's amazing about Sesame Street (4.00 / 1)
My kids watched it...I couldn't stand it...it was so fast...and quick, couldn't hold a shot for too long, like it had ADD.

So I never noticed that.  Thanks for the insight.


"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
There was Praire Dawn, one of daughter's favorites, but perhaps she was added later n/t (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
Yep, added later (0.00 / 0)
I'm not sure what the current Sesame Street muppet lineup looks like, but I know they've added females since my childhood.  When I was a kid, Elmo didn't even exist, to give you an idea how long ago that was.

Although, now that it occurs to me to do some research, instead of just going by memory, it appears I'm wrong.  According to the Mupppet Wiki there were two female muppet characters when Sesame Street launched in 1969.  But how's this, one is Roosevelt Franklin's Mother (yes, that's her name, no sexism there!) and Betty Lou, who almost really counts, though apparently didn't get much exposure until '79.  It also appears they added a Granny character the next year, and so on.

Still, my memory doesn't seem that far off.  None of the main muppets constantly on the show were female.


[ Parent ]
I Don't Know About Others (4.00 / 2)
But the bigger surprise for me wasn't that there was sexism and racism, but the sheer violence with which many people rejected the notion that that sexism or racism existed within the blogosphere, or even within certain parts of the media.

For instance, under my old alias "aimlessmind", I remember a long argument with another commenter here on OpenLeft that Clinton had faced sexism in the primary from the media.  And I cited multiple examples and even explained very clearly how many of the things Chris Matthews (and others) said was sexist, and the commenter just kept denying that they were sexist.

It wasn't, for me, learning that people were sexist.  No shit.  I have those biases and discriminations as well, as I think pretty much everyone does due to our culture.  It was that so many self-proclaimed progressives liked to proclaim obvious sexist critiques as not sexist, whether it was their own critique or someone else's.  It was the complete lack of self-awareness and complete unwillingness to even acknowledge very strong and obvious arguments that I found quite disheartening and (perhaps naively) surprising.


[ Parent ]
I agree, and I think this is part of the (4.00 / 6)
same thing I'm talking about. We've managed to define sexism and racism as so transgressive and unforgivable, people have a hard time seeing them in anything other than their most overt forms.

If being a racist is a horrible sin, and makes you a horrible person, then I cannot be racist. Because I know I'm not a horrible person. Which means all those racist feelings I have aren't actually racism--if they were, I'd be racist, and hence horrible.

And all that subtle (and not so subtle) sexism I engage in or benefit from isn't really sexist, because if it were then the only possible conclusion is that I'm sexist. But only bad people are sexist, and I'm good. Hence none of that is sexism.

So by definition, the only things that are racism and sexism are those things I'd never do.  


[ Parent ]
Ah ... I see the confusion (4.00 / 2)
No Joel, we certainly weren't surprised by the fact that there was racism and sexism amongst progressives. We've seen more the enough evidence of such over time.

What we were shocked by was the AMOUNT of it, the VICIOUSNESS of it ... it was like picking a barely healed scab and just the amount of pain momentarily overwhelming you.

Course, once we saw it all, and it registered, it was more like a resigned inevitability.

That was the shock but lack of surprise. Make sense now? Sorry for not being clear enough.


[ Parent ]
Yeah, I'm sorry, my comment (4.00 / 2)
was one of those 'sure, I'm replying to you, but I'm not really replying to you' sorta things.

I imagine that you, and Paul too, to whom I was directly responding, are pretty clear on this. That is, you're not shocked that there's sexism and racism in everyone, including yourselves, you're shocked that people are so willing to act on their sexism by airing it so loudly and unapologetically.

That is, the problem isn't sexism the feeling but sexism the activity. Not our inward flaw, but our outward expression of that flaw.

But there are many other places in this thread (and the progressive blogs) where I think this is confused. I just didn't want to respond to one of them, because I was afraid it'd quickly devolve into something unproductive. I think if you read this thread you'll see some really fine examples of what I'm talking about; the projection of prejudice as a disqualifying element onto the other, and the unwillingness to acknowledge its presence in the self. Then using that projection to make some pretty definitive judgments.

(That's not to say, I hope obviously that 'oh, we're all sexist, so it's fine!' Or, 'We're all sexist, so that repugnant sexism directed at Clinton and others in the primary was not really repugnant at all.')


[ Parent ]
"What am I missing?" (0.00 / 0)
"at the level of"


"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Thanks for coming by, Sarah. (0.00 / 0)

And your point that racism doesn't excuse sexism and vice versa is one that should have been chanted daily throughout this long and difficult primary.

 

 



John McCain thinks we haven't spent enough time in Iraq

[ Parent ]
Thank you Paul & Aviva (4.00 / 2)
I think that in part was what was so painful about the primary for me.

I mean, imagine if we'd had an old-school style long primary, where the discussions, debates and issues would have been thrown back and forth, each candidate bringing out the best in the other, and having us progressives and/or liberals being brought closer together because of it? Every state, every voter, having a chance to speak and vote as they wanted to? I mean, just imagine.

There was such a chance there sigh and it was completely blown.


[ Parent ]
An issues based primary. (0.00 / 0)

There were a few moments, mostly in the beginning - such as when Edwards prompted the rest of the field on healthcare.  

And its such a shame, because these Democratic candidates had the chops to really debate the issues.  



John McCain thinks we haven't spent enough time in Iraq

[ Parent ]
I think (0.00 / 0)
there was a pretty detailed discussion in Iowa (where I worked) and in New Hampshire.  

Frankly though, and this is the irony, the issue differences weren't that deep in comparison to prior years.  Everybody was for getting out of Iraq, the tax and healthcare plans were, I would argue, largely similar.

Because the issue differences were not great, the background and experience of the two remaining candidates came to dominate the debate.   And because those are by there very nature subjective personal judgements, the campaign became personal for everyone: the voters, the bloggers and the candidates themselves.


[ Parent ]
Agreed. (4.00 / 1)

Though we should also give credit to a media that much prefers to discuss 'personality' and 'character' rather than issues.



John McCain thinks we haven't spent enough time in Iraq

[ Parent ]
Josh Marshall Gelded (4.00 / 1)
You may find this interesting.

[ Parent ]
Great Essay (4.00 / 2)
Thanks for the excellent post, Melissa.  It's great to read you here at Open Left -- I found your blog during the primary campaign.  It was such a relief to come across a progressive blog where feminist/womanist issues + the primary were discussed intelligently and sexist comments were not sanctioned.

It's sad that the point of your piece has been lost on the majority of commenters -- so far -- in this thread.  

In response to some of these argumentative comments:  I don't think anyone is arguing that Clinton was the perfect feminist/womanist candidate in comparison to Obama -- but it was clear during the primary that Obama and his surrogates were willing to use sexism to win. Ed Shultz anyone?  Rev. Michael Pfleger?  While he was "forced to apologize" for the Pfleger comments, Obama never publicly + clearly called out his surrogates and told them to back off.  He also never distanced himself from Chris Matthews or Keith Olbermann's raving misogyny.  And now he's putting out soundbites that cater to right wing talking points -- i.e., abortion and a woman's mental health.



Clarification (4.00 / 1)
I wanted to clarify this sentence, "And now he's putting out soundbites that cater to right wing talking points -- i.e., abortion and a woman's mental health."

What Obama has stated is not much of a change in a woman's right to autonomy of her body.  Women do not have very much "control" over their bodies in late-term, i.e. third trimester, pregnancies.  The interests of the State outweigh the interest of the woman during that period, and a woman may terminate the pregnancy only for reasons of "life and health."  That is the exact terminology of Roe, and the limitation is acknowledged by all groups.  Now, the question is whether health means "mental health," and there is case law that says "yes," but such case law was not rendered in the context of abortion rights. The question is undetermined.

As a practical matter, late term abortions are not usually abortions.  The fetus at that time is usually viable, and the doctor will attempt to save both the woman and the fetus.  If the survival compromises the life and health of the woman, then the fetus' life will be ended.

So, what are the situations that will be impacted by Obama's position that the personal mental health of the woman is not a reasonable justification during the 3rd trimester mean then?  Basically, it means that a woman cannot abort a child if the child is discovered to have some defect/illness such that the birth of the child will lead to extreme mental distress of that mother.  

Does that justify abortion during that trimester?  Some would say "yes," others "no."  However, the only thing that is true is that, like anything else involving abortion, the answer is hardly clear.  Furthermore, it is hardly a "right wing talking point."


[ Parent ]
pardon? (0.00 / 0)
Doe v. Bolton, released by the Supreme Court on the same day as Roe v. Wade, which overturned a Georgia abortion law and held that
medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors - physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age - relevant to the wellbeing of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.

is not in the context of abortion rights?


[ Parent ]
Pardon? - reponse (0.00 / 0)
"... medical judgment may be exercised in the light of ALL factors - physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age - relevant to the well being of the patient."

My apologies, I was aware of Bolton.  However, I always thought of it as how it appears above.  I capitalized the word "all."  In my post, I did shape the question as whether the "health" exception for abortion rights could be comprised SOLELY by the factor, "mental health."  As you can see, Bolton does state whether such consideration can be limited to any "one or all" of the factors listed there.  My apologies, and nice catch.


[ Parent ]
typos..bah (0.00 / 0)
sorry...that should have been ... "I did NOT shape the question...."

[ Parent ]
more typos..bah..is there an editing function..=P (0.00 / 0)
"...Bolton does NOT state whether..."

[ Parent ]
Mental health has been included in (4.00 / 2)
abortion law and jurisprudence since the beginning. It's acknowledged in Doe and Roe.  Even prior to Roe when NY repealed its abortion laws in 1970, health included mental health.

In that sense abortion is a template for later attempts to achieve parity between mental and physical health coverage.


"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
As a practical matter ... (4.00 / 1)
You don't know what you're talking about and you're spreading lies. I hardly know where to begin.

Conditions such as hydrocephaly, where the head of a fetus fills with water and may be too large to be safely delivered in addition to being non-viable, are among the more common reasons for late-term abortions, which are very rare. In fact, they're most commonly performed on dead fetuses (usu. before 24 weeks) that also can't be delivered safely, and you should know that the recent federal prohibition on the medical procedure most commonly used in those circumstances (intact D&X) means that a woman might have to carry a dead child for several additional months. That's hardly the same as a woman being concerned that her child might be disabled, which isn't the question at all.

This is a more common story of a late term abortion.

Your own fear of women being allowed to make their own decisions, and your contempt for our autonomy is showing. Maybe you'll do a better job trolling next time.


[ Parent ]
"D & X?" (0.00 / 0)
This term has me confused. You mean a D&E, with the X standing for "extraction?"  

[ Parent ]
Please...relax (0.00 / 0)
I am not a doctor, Natasha, nor do I collect statistics on abortions.  Rather, I am lawyer who has read but not an expert on constitutional law.  So, stop putting words in my mouth.  I support a woman's sense of autonomy, but if you have not already, you should read what exactly a right to an abortion is.  The difficult thing is combining the medicine with the legal aspect.  Mahablog did a nice post about it the other day.  So, cool your jets.

I was just clarifying that the State has differing degrees of control over your bodies, the least of which in the 1st trimester, and the most in the last.  The rights of the fetus "grow" with time, with the advent of "viability" roughly being the end of the woman's right to choose to end the pregnancy.

As far as I understand, intact D&E procedure is mostly used for conditions occurring in the second trimester.  I agree that the law should not have been decided that way.  However, the I interpret phrase "late term" as meaning third trimester, in which period the woman's right is curtailed to the limited exception of "life and health."  The reason for that is that the fetus has the ability to reasonably survive outside of the womb.  During that trimester, doctors will try to save the fetus if it is must be removed.  

So, that is the extent of what I said..no lies, just a dry recitation of facts and existing case law.  Like I said, the controversy over Obama's statement is whether the "health " exception in the 3rd trimester can be solely for the reason of "mental health."



[ Parent ]
Late term is an amorphous term which does not only mean 3rd trimester (4.00 / 1)
It can be as early as 18 weeks. Legally late term under  Roe is after 24 weeks.  But in common and medical parlance as I said it can be as early as 18 weeks.  So maha by only referring to 3rd trimester misses the really dangerous import narrowing health to physical health or a "mental disease" (Obama's last but also truly unhelpful clarification) can have...Maha does agree that his statement is violative of Roe.

The implications are both legal and in the propaganda, rhetorical war with the right wing.  They will soon be lapping this up.  Kennedy in Carhart v gonzalez was criticized for his patronizing attitude about women's mental state making them unfit to make a reasoned decision  to have an abortion...This only furthers that meme.

You of course know that in the first 2 trimesters,  woman don't need to have a legally acceptable reason to get an abortion. Being inartful, let's hope that's all it is, can help revive a push to move that back into the other trimesters.

And there are many, many real world reasons that women can wind up needing an abortion that is late or in the 3rd trimester. From unaware 10year olds to 50 year olds with irregular periods near menopause....they all may need them.

Read this wonderful diary in daily kos....let's mention anencephaly, no brain, dead fetuses, and other fetal abnormalities...Fetal abnormalities are the most common reason for late term abortion....You don't need to have a mental disease to want to not carry a anencephalic or dead baby to term.  They are both the stuff of horror movies.

http://www.dailykos.com/storyo...



"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
Brilliant Post (4.00 / 2)
And, as Paul said, it's hard to comment on when there's so much to comment on.  So maybe I'll break it into bits and make my comments that way.

First of all, this is wonderful, but in a depressing way: "It's a nasty little bit of blackmail, which fails utterly to take into consideration that the veiled threat of losing legal abortion because of one's uncompromising belief in one's own equality and autonomy is so bitterly ironic that it would be laughable if it were not so profoundly sad."  I had never thought of it quite in that way, and it is indeed a bitter twist to the whole issue.

I kind of slapped my head when I saw Obama's "mental health" comments.  It is another moment in a long series of moments in which Obama has played very explicitly into right-wing frames.  It's incredibly frustrating because the man knows how to orate, he knows how to make a speech, and he knows how to use words and language to his benefit.  He can make an argument.  As such, one of the things about him I complained about during the primary was that I wished he would spend a lot less time promoting right-wing frames and more time helping build and promote left-wing, progressive frames.

He has the skill and the platform to greatly assist us in transforming the playing field and making it more progressive.  More often than not, though, he has taken a pass on that opportunity.  It's very depressing.

It ties into your notion about democracy not being inherently good for FWs.  When the populace is acting on wisdom that is based within a patriarchal and misogynistic culture, there's a damn good chance that any democracy arising from that populace is going to perpetuate those patriarchal and misogynistic cultural beliefs.  Democracy is not inherently good or fair or wise and it most certainly does not inherently promote equality.

I thank you for reminding me of this notion.  As a straight, white, able-bodied (but by no means wealthy) male, I too often can forget that the America I see is very different than the America that other populations and demographics see--even if I do fancy myself a progressive person who attempts to hold a comprehensive view of America, it's successes and--even more important--its failures.  Still, it's easy to become bogged down in the notion that the candidate who better fits the progressive ideals also--inherently, by default--better fits FW ideals.  So again, thanks for the reminder that that is not always true.


Pondering.... (4.00 / 1)
It's an interesting post, but limited because it is divorced from an analysis of how other issues interact and complicate one's voting decision.  Yes, you could, as a feminist, base your voting decision wholly on the merits of the author's arguments here for the reason of promoting feminism.  However, does the decision to vote McCain or a 3rd party benefit the cause of African Americans, the poor, the middle class, or other groups in this society?  It's when you broaden your horizon that the conclusion here begins to weaken and lose its force.  

Should we vote against Obama because he was buoyed by sexism, notwithstanding the assumed fact that his presidency will benefit society as a whole?
The author, by proferring this piece, argues implicitly (well, not really implicitly), that incentivizing the Dem Party by withholding the votes of F/W will cause the party to change.  Well, in that regard, she is right.  But in what direction?  The author fails to note that there are more groups in the Dem Party that just women.  Also present are the African American, Hispanic, poor, educated elite, and of course, the intersections of some or all of those groups, and each has their own not-always-consistent agendas.  Will the hijacking of the party's chances by one group to the consternation of the other groups be a successful strategy?  I would argue simply...."no."  If one group purposely destroys the collective group's chances for its own goals, the other groups will simply employ the same strategies.  In the end, you will be playing the "Prisoner's Dilemma" logic game with both prisoners intending to rat out the other.  Hardly the best result.

How I interpret this post is that the cause of women uncomplicated by the needs of other groups will no longer be compromised, and that any failure on the part of the Dem Party to stop sexism from influencing future primary is unacceptable. Accordingly, the interests of the other groups be damned in the service of the needs of this one particular group.

Ultimatums are rarely successful devices.  In this case, the conclusion is particularly selfish (as in, focusing on the self-interest of this group to the exclusion of any other group, as opposed to invective toward the author).  Although I sympathize with the author's list of complaints, I disagree with her conclusion.  I would prefer all of the groups benefitting somewhat under an Obama administration than none benefitting under McCain together with the cause of F/W being promoted ahead of all other groups in the Dem Party.  (As I noted above obliquely to the "Prisoner's Dilemma, this leads to an interesting question - what prevents those other groups adopting the same device if they see this ultimatum prove successful...at what point does the Dem Party actually succeed if its subgroups are constantly hijacking the party's chances for that particular group's needs?)  An Obama candidacy may not be as good as you want, but an Obama administration will result in iterative improvement for all groups involved, and is better than no improvement at all.

Sorry about the long post, but I wanted to honor the work of the author, who obviously spent a lot of time on it.


lost on you (4.00 / 2)
It does no honor to the author to demonstrate such a profound misreading of her post as to suggest that she was issuing an ultimatum.

[ Parent ]
Not really (4.00 / 2)
My apologies, but how do you interpret:

"They are right, unless we go somewhere else.  This isn't a treatise to convince anyone to do so -- but it's an explanation for why a feminist/womanist might, why it's a legitimate choice, and why, if that means the Left isn't a picture of harmony, it's not our fault."

In this paragraph, the author states that the Dem Party must change its act, or F/W will not vote Dem.  I interpret that as an ultimatum.  And, the author argues that F/W will NOT vote for Obama so that the party knows F/W are sincere.

I would urge you to actually read to the end of her post.


[ Parent ]
Again still, you are not reading the post at all. (0.00 / 0)
The point is she doesn't want to be told to shut up, any more than we should shut up about FISA, or the other issues that will come up as we move forward. She is saying, correctly and well, is that the discussion has barely started.

This not a crowning of a king, it isn't choosing who is the perfect model of all morality, it is the selection of the best possible candidate in this moment, this county, this set of problems and criteria, with these coalition partners.

It is a verb, not a noun. It is an ongoing action, an ongoing process. It is swimming, not a relic or a rock or a sword. I don't know who Melissa supported, it wasn't Clinton, but she wants us to understand the life and death, freedom and control, autonomy and slavery set of issues and needs and demands that all progressives should understand, and how these discussions affect our coalition moving forward.

I Love FDR!!!!! But don't get me started on the horrible life crushing stupid effing mistakes he made. Or on the horrible assumptions he made, on gender on race on class.

I am sure you feel co0mfortable talking about Roosevelt's flaws, but now you worry if we discuss ways to improve our organizing, our decision making, our coalition building, our objections to bad policy that McCain might be elected. It is a fear, but you can push past it. Obama will be elected, and we will have a whole new set of issues and programs and polices to improve, promote and fight over.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
A good friend of mine wrote about why (4.00 / 1)
Obama is the best candidate for women - she wrote it during the primary. I believed it then and I believe it now.

The Best Candidate for a Woman

Obama isn't sexist. He never has been. It's absurd to suggest that there's little difference between Obama and McCain.

The primary is over. Democrats have ONE option - vote for Obama or allow McCain to win...good luck with such a tough choice.


Brilliant. (4.00 / 2)
So, in response to a long, thoughtful post about why threatening women voters with "the other guy is worse" is not a defensible tactic, your answer is...to threaten women voters with "the other guy is worse".

Did you even READ the post?


[ Parent ]
i just encountered Elise at Dkos on a wonderful diary by annrose (0.00 / 0)
about what she called Mercy Abortion.  the diary is wonderful and the comments are also illuminating and heartbreaking.

Elise made the same kind of declarative sentences in that diary,..completely missing the point of the author and those who told their stories.

Declartive sentences which assert things that aren't true..when you point that out she just makes more of them...

I learned not to bother.

Here's the diary

http://www.dailykos.com/storyo...



"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
appointees (4.00 / 2)
Obama has floated the idea appointing people like Schwarzenegger, Lugar, Hagel and even floated the idea of keeping Gates as Sec of Defense, so how is that different from who McSame would appoint?

Given Schwarzenegger's known history of violence against women, this is particularly troubling.


[ Parent ]
I'm sorry, but (4.00 / 1)
Saying this:
Obama isn't sexist. He never has been. It's absurd to suggest that there's little difference between Obama and McCain.

does not make it true.

Obama is a sexist. He may not know it, and you may not care to admit it it, but it is demonstrably true. If it were not true, I promise you Melissa would not be pointing it out. She does not make shit up.

Please, read her incredibly thoughtful post again. Try to read it without the preconceived idea that there is nothing important about this election other than what you already believe. Open your mind just a sliver and try to understand how someone else - a LOT of someone elses - thinks.


[ Parent ]
This is a tautology (4.00 / 2)
as nearly as I can tell:

Melissa is correct that Obama is a sexist because Melissa says that Obama is a sexist.

Although I don't doubt that Obama is sexist at least to some extent.


[ Parent ]
Except that is not what I said. (4.00 / 1)
I say Obama is a sexist. Melissa says Obama is a sexist, but I didn't need her to tell me - she's just far more eloquent about it than I am.

At no point did I say "Obama is a sexist because Melissa says that Obama is a sexist."

That's your misinterpretation. One among many I've read thus far.


[ Parent ]
It reads like a tautology to me (4.00 / 1)
Here's what you said:

"...but it is demonstrably true. If it were not true, I promise you Melissa would not be pointing it out. She does not make shit up."

You seem to be saying that if Melissa says it's sexist, then it's sexist because Melissa says so, which is a tautology. I'm just sayin' there's probably a better way to make this argument.
 


[ Parent ]
You misunderstood me. (0.00 / 0)
It appears you willfully continue to do so, since you can't seem to take my explanation at face value.

I didn't say what you think I said, and I already pointed that out, but whatever; it's your little red wagon.

Have fun with it. He's still a sexist.


[ Parent ]
AS are we all. And we must all work to remove all the preconceptions (0.00 / 0)
and culturally bound blindnesses we hold.

I hate the word tolerate for example, I prefer the word celebrate.

We have a lot of work to do. All of us. Pointing out my failures and assumptions won't get you a bark from me, I'll try not to be defensive. I want to be a better human being, I want  to be a better progressive.  

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
warning bell (4.00 / 2)
I see this whole post to the Democratic party in general and the Obama campaign in particular. Unless they address these questions they could lose the election.

The whole passive/aggressive routine of Vote for Obama or McSame will kill the kittens may not work.


Obama will be president. (0.00 / 0)
And I will work my fingers to the bone to insure it. That does not mean I am uncritical. I would have been critical of HRC. And I assume I would have been critical of Edwards, and when, after 8 years as Vice President he becomes President I will be critical  of him.  

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Generality (4.00 / 2)
I find it interesting that all five of you main points are completely applicable to so many different groups.  All of the following statements are worthy of rebuttal, in my opinion:

1. Voting for/Supporting the more liberal of two mainstream party candidates is always and necessarily the most consistent with basic LGBT principles.

2. Voting for/Supporting the more democratic of two mainstream party candidates is axiomatically the most pro-atheist choice.

3. Religious freedom / freedom from religion is an "issue" or a "cause" akin to other political issues or causes like protecting social security or fair elections.

4. The best possible America for a straight, white, able-bodied, wealthy man is the best possible America for everyone.

5. More rights for "everyone" means more rights for African Americans.

But really, this all boils down to is the theory of coalition building.  If you care about is one main issue, how do you work with/against a coalition to promote your cause.  How do you 1) hold the leaders of your coalition accountable to your cause and 2) simultaneously strengthen the coalition.  Of course, if 1) isn't working than 2) is irrelevant.

This has been the central debate on this site for a few weeks, now.


True enough, but... (4.00 / 5)
One of the main complaints I'm seeing from so many of the feminist women speaking up about this election is that, once again, the women have to do all the compromising in order to build the coalition.  Yet again, women's rights are put on hold because there's more important stuff to take care of.  

"We'll get to you ladies when we've taken care of the war/the economy/the other gazillion things on our list!  Trust us!  Now, go sit at the back of the bus!"  That's the message I'm seeing, and the message they're seeing too.

One would think that issues which mattered greatly to 52% of the population would be at the top of every political agenda.  But apparently, to the party leadership, that doesn't apply to people with uteruses.


[ Parent ]
I agree with you here n/t (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
And another thing (0.00 / 0)
Obama nor the Democrats would not have to go far out of his/their way, nor would they have to take something away from other groups, to appeal to women and/or FW.

It's not a zero-sum game.

It is, however, true that women's issues have been perpetually ignored; in this election and in this candidate, they're actually being dismissed and worked against.

And may I just point out - again - that this is a post about feminist/womanist concerns and viewpoints. That is the topic. While it may be perfectly true that other groups and/or other issues exist and would benefit from exploration, that is not what THIS post is about.

Could we for once talk about feminist/womanist concerns without the eternal "yabbut racism/religion/whatever"?

Please?  


[ Parent ]
I agree 100%. (0.00 / 0)
I would love to have such a discussion.  But, on Shakesville, every time we try, somemone comes along and tries just exactly those derails.

And now it happens here too.


[ Parent ]
"Could we for once talk about feminist/womanist concerns" (0.00 / 0)
Sorry about that.  I seem to always jump to the meta.

But what I meant is the opposite of what you seem to think I meant.  The point wasn't to say feminist issues are just like everyone else's.  The point was the solution to all these problems is applicable to FW concerns.

How do we promote our cause most successfully?  When is it correct hurt someone in our coalition and when is "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good" the correct answer.

I don't have the answers, but I think I have the correct category of question.


[ Parent ]
I certainly can see that (0.00 / 0)
In fact, I can't even think of a single woman's issue other than abortion being a part of the major discussion for a long time.  Even with Senator Clinton, I don't remember it coming up.  (I don't think the glass ceiling issue qualifies in this context.)

Most "women's issues" that come up in the media are the made up kind like "security moms" and whatnot.


[ Parent ]
Where are the party leaders on this? . (0.00 / 0)
and not only Obama .. but Reid .. Pelosi and Dean?

[ Parent ]
I have actually been told by someone who blogs at Orcinus (0.00 / 0)
a woman, a "feminist" that woman should wait their turn...that just like black men got the right to vote before women (53 years later I might add...21/2 generations)that black man is meant to be president before a women!

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
Obama's choice (4.00 / 1)
It's Obama's choice to dictate the strategy that he is willing to use to win. And now he has to face the consequences of his own actions and his soon to be actions. So do not blame many of us here from bickering bitterly and almost refraining our support for Obama. It's his choice. His consequences to live with.

Just like it's Hillary's choice to not go all negative on Obama because she thinks about the effects it will have on the GE. Obama did not. Live with it.

We are facing 2 wars, the economy is in turmoil, 9 trillion and counting in debt, manufacturing industry is pulling out and many many more problems such as healthcare and the environment. But yet many decide that this is the year we needed change, or more like anyone but the Clintons. Before the primary ended many here argued how progressive Obama was. Now the same people argues Obama is just a typical politician and such he did not flipflop and we just got to fear a McCain presidency. So it's your choice to either fix this country or hope for the 2nd coming. Apparently many more had hoped for the 2nd coming. Now you face the consequences.

And finally remember in 2000 when times were good and Bush are campaigning with change and being a 'humble' President and we have to be a 'humble' nation. Well people buy into that when Al Gore was talking policies, policies, policies. It's no different in 2008. Live with it.


Win At All Costs (4.00 / 3)
I think what has been most frustrating about this primary is the desire not to acknowledge some of Obama's failings or to turn any acknowledgment of those failings into a "So McCain is better?" strawman argument, as has already been seen in some of the comments to this essay.

I think a lot of that reflexive reaction stems out of a desire to win at all costs.  It's a desire that, for most people, is born out of the belief that winning is ultimately a good thing, even if we have to drop a few bodies along the way.  But in that pursuit of the win, a moral neutrality is born that insists on sweeping all failings under the rug so as not to taint the vehicle for victory.

Thus, Obama was and is in no way sexist.  He cannot be criticized.  Or the good old argument--as you mentioned, Melissa--of "your time will come, but not right now."  Funny, I seem to recall that one being used on women back during the abolitionist movement.  I guess times don't change much, and I guess women might just have to wait another century or two before their time has come.

So where does this all end up?  It ends with arguments among progressives about whether or not explicitly sexist and misogynistic statements by public figures are actually sexist or misogynistic.  And then at some point, if you're the one arguing that they're sexist, you realize that you're arguing this with someone who you thought was on your side--but who you now realize may not be--at least on this issue.  And it's then that you realize just how deeply ingrained the sexism and patriarchy and misogyny truly is, when even many progressives are cluelessly parroting it.

It's depressing, and it's what leads me to really appreciate this part of your essay, Melissa: "FWs may, in fact, for reasons outlines above, have to vote counter to feminist/womanist principles to vote for the most democratic candidate of the two major parties.  That is not a small thing, and it should not be treated as though it is."  It is indeed not a small thing and it's one more reason why I become so frustrated when I see Obama dismissing the mental health of a woman as a factor in abortion.  Even as a straight, white, able-bodied male, I consider myself a feminist.  A very imperfect one at that, but one nonetheless.  But at the end of the day, come November, I'm voting for Obama.  So when I do cast that vote it's going to be with the knowledge that I am voting at least partly counter to my own feminist ideals (not to mention multiple other ideals) and that sucks.  But it's also what I consider most pragmatic, what I consider best, and it's the choice I'm left with.

It sure would be nice to have a better one.


The presidency is high stakes (4.00 / 4)
Really well said Joel. I think part of the "win at all costs" mentality that you refer to is based on the fact that the president is so powerful, it makes you (me) feel like HAVE to win that election.  

For 2007 I was content to sit on the sideline because none of the candidates really excited me on issues I really cared about. I was resigned to the fact that I would have to work to get the winner elected, even if I wasn't enthusiastic about them. It was depressing.

Then all of a sudden it was down to two candidates and I felt one was clearly better than the other, so I felt that I needed to get involved. And once I got involved and the campaign got nasty, it seemed like the contest could cost the presidency, it became even more important to win. The whole thing drove me sort of nuts. And a couple of times I caught myself thinking sexist thoughts or ignoring the clear sexism in other people. I certainly didn't always challenge it when it came up in conversation, and it came up all the time (as you said "you realize just how deeply ingrained the sexism and patriarchy and misogyny truly is").
But once it's all over, and I'm less crazy, stuff I was apparently willing to ignore makes me queasy.

But I still think winning the presidency is probably the most important thing to accomplish in November, and will work to make sure that happens. I will, however, be on the lookout for ways to hold Obama and the democrats accountable, including criticizing him when he does stupid/sexist stuff.  


[ Parent ]
I recommended you but I think starting to organize for more involvement of the population (4.00 / 1)
is our biggest goal. Organize to remove republicans from the presidency, congress, state houses and from our party. Removing more sexism from Obama's brain is an ongoing task, as is the task of removing that baggage from my brain, from my assumptions and yours. Our tasks.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Totally agree (4.00 / 1)
One of the things I will have no reservations about doing is getting more people registered to vote. Thats one thing that I still totally love about Obama.


[ Parent ]
Efficacy (4.00 / 7)
An interesting read. My response centers on efficacy:

We're supposed to gleefully hop on board with people who ominously warn that failure to do so will evoke tragedy by our own hands

I agree that "vote for us or else you are to blame," is indeed not exactly a very respectful message for Democrats to deliver to voters on their left flank, even the argument happens with regularity. Of course, while it isn't a very friendly, welcoming or respectful campaign argument, it did gain significant traction after the 2000 election. In all likelihood, the first four years of Bush's Presidency probably was the main reason why Nader's vote total dropped by 84% from 2000 to 2004, even though voter turnout increased by about 16-17%.

I bring this up because the essay is extremely abstract, and I think it is important to mention why this argument, which I agree is not very respectful, is made so frequently now. Basically, the argument is made because it worked exceptionally well during the 2004 campaign. The left is given this argument because it works to drive votes on the left. If the argument didn't work, it would not be made with such regularity.

Here is where I think the argument goes off the rails (emphasis mine):

Shaker CE once said in comments, "Knowing that the alternative is worse actually makes it harder for me; it just reinforces that sense I often get from some Dems, including Sen. Obama in this cycle, that they think they can do whatever the fuck they like to me, because I don't have any other option. The worst part? They're right."

They are right, unless we go somewhere else.

If your goal is the respect of Democratic politicians, and in the hopes of getting them to stand up more for FW ideals on the policy, rhetoric and personnel levels, I utterly fail to see how going somewhere else will accomplish that goal. Voting for third party, leftwing candidates, or not voting at all, simply has no recent history of creating more respect for left-wing ideology within the Democratic Party. The assumption that the party will respect you more if you "go somewhere else" seems not only baseless, but actually countermanded by all recent evidence. Within the Democratic Party, Nader and his supporters saw a dramatic decline in respect and influence after the 2000 election. And people who don't vote are not respected or catered to by any politician at all.

My point isn't that FWs and everyone else who feels it is a violation of their principles should simply fall in line and vote for Democrats or else. No one is entitled to any votes, and that goes for all Democrats, too. Further, voters are not to blame for a candidate's defeat: the candidate is. My point is that as a strategy to increase the respect for, and representation of, any leftwing group in the Democratic Party, "going somewhere else" has actually proven to be utterly ineffective. It just hasn't worked. Quite the opposite, really.

And that, ultimately, is why I just don't vote for third parties anymore, even though it is, in many cases, a clear violation of my some of principles to vote for Democrats. As a strategy to increase the respect for, and representation of, any leftwing group in the Democratic Party, "going somewhere else" has actually proven to be utterly ineffective and even counter-productive. It doesn't make the party respect me more. It doesn't make the party more representative of my ideology. While I can't say that I have a proven means of pushing the party to the left, there are numerous more promising avenues that splitting and voting for a third-party.

So, anyway, my rather long comment centers around efficacy.


acting up, not tuning out (4.00 / 2)
I read the essay as justifying discord, not a treatise to convince anyone to go somewhere else. The party won't change unless it knows people are pissed.

[ Parent ]
Witholding of the vote (4.00 / 1)
is the ultimate way to force any issue. If you take it off the table at the beginning of the debate/discussion it justs turns into a waiting game, invites dog-n-pony shows, and pandering attention to the "problem".

Same applies to campaign contributions and/or working for a given candidate.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
I think I agree (4.00 / 1)
That I might withhold my vote (money, time, etc.) is meaningless to Obama and the party and would at best engender a pander. Drawing attention to my issue, and pointing out where Obama and the party are falling down on it, could cause them to lose significant numbers of votes if they refuse to seriously address the issue and the issue is important to enough of their voters.

[ Parent ]
Primaries (0.00 / 0)
I agree, Chris, that the "going somewhere else" option is not really an effective option, at least in terms of moving to a third party.  It's why Obama has my vote despite some of his disappointing rhetoric and despite what future disappointing things he might say (unless they get absolutely ridiculous.)  Not to mention, there isn't a third party candidate out there at the moment that particularly appeals to me.  (I don't have much love for Nader.)

I also don't know if Melissa is even arguing for going to a third party or not, at least not in a specific, this-election sense.  She may or may not--I don't think she's arguing anything specific about how people should vote in this essay so much as trying to explain why some FWs may not be comfortable with voting for Obama.

I think where the taking-my-vote-elsewhere argument works--and where I'm sure you'll agree--is in Democratic primaries.  Obviously, that's not an option at this point with Obama, but it certainly can and has worked in other races (and certainly is applicable to all future presidential primaries.)

Unfortunately, I don't see any real way out of our two-party system.  IRV could probably do it, but there's pretty much no chance in hell of any serious, widespread implementation of that process.  That's why when someone talks about voting third party, I generally argue that you're much more likely to create change by working to change the Democratic party than you are by bringing a third party into contention in a national party.  Hence, primaries, primaries, primaries.  It's why I'm looking forward to a well-organized netroots movement around primary challenges against Bush Dogs in 2010.


[ Parent ]
the primary strategy (0.00 / 0)
Of the "taking-my-vote-elsewhere" strategy in the primaries would be the probable application of this strategy by the huge numbers of voters who did not vote for Clinton despite the obvious strength of her quasi-incumbent position.

I'm with others who say Iraq is the most likely cause of this, though of course many other issues may also have played a role.  The purity argument used against Obama throughout this thread could be equally well used on Clinton, though to be sure not on the important issues raised.

So one person's successful primary take-it-elsewhere vote is another's disastrous defeat.


New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.


[ Parent ]
A primary is over when it's over (4.00 / 1)
Primary is one of the most effective mechanisms, but one big defect is that it loses all the power when a primary's over. Yes, on a smaller scale (like House districts) we can elect a genuine progressive like Donna Edwards, but for bigger races (President, or even Senate in some cases) the chance we can elect a genuine progressive in the primary is slim (Kucinich as Dem nominee for President?)

Thus a Democrat talks left in primaries, and when he/she wins a primary, abandons left. Obama's post-primary behavior is an archetypical example.

Also, it's not true that there is no chance all of IRV being implemented. On a municipal level, IRV pretty much wins every  referendum, even in big cities like Minneapolis and Oakland. Vermont House and Senate passed a bill to IRV for federal elections, only to be vetoed by a GOP governor; but it can well pass in a few years.

Also a good thing about IRV is that it's not inherently a left-wing issue, so the supportive constituency can be a lot bigger than the left-wing core. It's just the lack of attentions; there is no reason for people to hate IRV when they know what it is.  


[ Parent ]
IRV (0.00 / 0)
I think a great majority of the public would support IRV with an understanding of what it is.  (And perhaps does?  I don't know of polling on it as an issue, but I'm sure there's some out there.)  My pessimism stems more from the belief that not many politicians from either party would be particularly interested in voting for it, let alone championing it.

I know there are smaller, local implementations of IRV, and that's awesome.  I didn't know that Vermont nearly had IRV for federal elections.  That's awesome, too.  I'm still pretty skeptical about it ever becoming very common for federal elections or even in many statewide elections.  And I don't imagine it will ever show up on the presidential level in my lifetime.

I'd be very happy to be wrong about that, though.  Maybe if Vermont can get it going for federal elections, that will give it the ability to start trickling into other states and gain some momentum.


[ Parent ]
I utterly fail to see how going somewhere else will accomplish that goal (4.00 / 1)
If that's the case then why is the so-called Democratic base always rejected/slapped in the face by our candidate in search of elusive independents and Reagan Republicans?  These people aren't exactly members of the Party.  It seems like you've chosen one discrete, convenient example -- left-wing Dems who voted for Nader's Green Party in 2000 -- that will back up your claim.  

[ Parent ]
Oops, I meant Reagan Democrats, i.e., more conservative swing voters. Not that it really matters. (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
If you had a viable "somewhere else" (0.00 / 0)
you just might find that the MSPs would actually work to earn your votes, rather than simply assuming that you won't be so irresponsible as to throw it all away.

But, alas, such is not supported by our current system.  You're left with the relatively vapid "protest vote".

I feel for ya.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Feminism/womanism is "left-wing ideology'? (0.00 / 0)
Funny. I thought equality was a plank of the Democratic Party's platform and a core Democratic value.

Who knew it was only a "left-wing ideology"?

 


[ Parent ]
Why do you assume (4.00 / 3)
That the phrase "left wing ideology" is in any way dismissive or pejorative, particularly on this blog?

I think feminism is a left wing idea and as a left winger I'm proud of that.  


[ Parent ]
Pardon me (0.00 / 0)
I think of women's rights as  human rights and therefore quite mainstream.

But hey, what do I know? I'm just a woman.


[ Parent ]
aoei (0.00 / 0)
Human rights is a left wing idea too, if you want to get into it.

Your presumption about my motives for disagreeing with you doesn't bolster your case, nor, even if it were true would it make you right or I wrong.  I can be as sexist as you want to believe and feminism is still rooted in the left.

Plenty of left wing ideas have gone mainstream.  This is to be celebrated, but it doesn't change their origin nor marginalize them to discuss them in those terms.  


[ Parent ]
I Don't Think This Is An Efficacy Argument For Activists Or Voters (4.00 / 6)
I think it's a refutation of inefficacy arguments promulgated by party elites.  ("Whatcha gonna do aboudit?")

What's missing here--at a minimum--is a dimension of respect, a recognition that sacrifices are being made, and almost always by those who have the least left to sacrifice in the first place.

So what kind of "progressive" deal is that?

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
I don't know if your efficacy argument is true... (4.00 / 1)
...But I think not revolting causes people to write articles like this
The beltway bloviators seems to think that Obama can, and should do, whatever it takes to go to the alleged "center", because his base is starry-eyed about him and is dying to win.

I think not agitating (I don't mean not voting, more along the lines of being loud and unyielding in our criticisms of the campaign) will be a big mistake this year, because the Dems have an opportunity to change the landscape but instead they are continually strengthening the current landscape by bucking their base and going after the right-wingers. What Obama is doing is dangerous because he is creating political consensus for things like faith-based initiatives and abstinence-education in a year where we can win on progressive values. Rewarding this may cause long term damage. Not that a John McCain victory isn't damaging, but a lot of Obama has said has caused much heart-ache to activists.

I believe if he loses this election, it will because he ran to the "center" and many people either lost faith in him or just couldn't accept his stances.


[ Parent ]
Vote for McKinney or Nader if you live in a safe state (4.00 / 3)
Basically I agree with what she says. Regardless of whether Obama is personally sexist or not, I don't see Obama being committed to reproductive rights or any feminist issue. One thing is that he should have forcefully spoke out against misogyny directed against Hillary during the primaries.

The biggest structure problem the left has in pushing our agendas is that the left has much less leverage over the Democrats than centrists, because, as McEwan correctly points out, we have (seemingly) nowhere else to go, while moderates or anti-choicers have a place to go called the Republican Party. What sort of incentive does a Democratic candidate (a politician who is skillful enough to be a presidential candidate is bound to be calculating) have to be left-wing, when he or she knows that the left would vote for him or her anyway without adopting left proposal?

In my opinion, that structural problem is the biggest reason why Obama is shifting to the right; he knows that whatever he does with FISA, the left will regardless continue to support him. The same goes with feminism; Obama doesn't have to be committed to a variety of reproductive justice causes; whatever his commitment to feminism is, pro-choicers vote for him because he won't put a fifth Scalia on the Supreme Court.

Why don't we let Obama, or any Democrat for that matter, that they can't count our support for nothing, they have to EARN our support? The only effective way to do so is that if they are not committed to progressive causes, WE WILL GO AWAY. We have to present a stick, not only a carrot, in order to be actually effective.

Melissa, you say that you are not trying to convince anyone to go somewhere else. But why not? What other avenue do we have?

To where? The Green Party seems to be the biggest left-wing party in American politics now. Ideally, if we have a properly democratic voting system that doesn't punish diversity of political opinions (i.e. third parties) like IRV, you can rank 1 for a Green, and 2 for a Dem. That is a very good reason for the left to put much more emphasis and effort in building a fairer voting system. But for this year, with this imperfect and undemocratic system, we have to do something.

I don't want to see five Scalias destroying everything we hold dear. I know how high the stakes are.

There is no real harm to a Democrat if progressives in non-swing-states vote for McKinney (or Nader). It's really only about 10 states that actually matter to Obama's victory (my guess for now is MI, WI, PA, OH, MO, IA, CO, NM, NV, VA). The progressives, leftists and feminists in the rest 40 states can happily vote for McKinney (who is a real feminist), demonstrating the strength of the progressive electorate, without giving an iota of hope to the worst nightmare of John McCain.


nonmsense (4.00 / 1)
The democratic party is a coalition. Women are the biggest part of that coalition. Primaries are where we fight the issues, and that is where we should be shouldering our effort. Do the work of crating more better democrats.

Coalitions take power in the two party state. If you work to overturn the two party state, by creating a proportional representative system for example then we can talk, but until the Constitution changes, then coalitions are what we have, and what we work with.

The greta part of coalition governance is that it requires smart people to talk across the boundaries between the coalition partners, so as to work better together. That is what This post is doing.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
two-party state? (0.00 / 0)
Where in the law does it say that the U.S. is a two-party state? The American Constitution is better than that.

I'm all for proportional representation, (yet I don't see a big support for proportional representation even in these progressive blogosphere) but sorry, I don't see why my proposal doesn't work. I proposed a strategy that maximises the left-wing voter's power while minimizing the damage to the Democratic Party. You need to explain why it is nonsense if you think it is.

By the way, I think the Populist Party was awesome. Democracy means third parties are free to contest elections.  


[ Parent ]
With Friends Like These (1.00 / 4)
To resolve the question "Does ideological purity make you stupid?", Melissa offers Exhibit A.

Once upon a time, I was proud to consider myself a male feminist.  Then I realized that to ideologues like this, I simply lacked a sufficient capacity for self-loathing to ever be allowed into their club.

But let's dispense with that, and get to the one issue of substance in the entire pedantic screed we've been offered here: Did Obama benefit from Sexism?

I think it's pretty clear from exit polling that in fact, he did not, that he lost more women voters to sexism than he gained male voters.  Only the racist votes from African Americans allowed him to counter-balance the racist and sexist votes for the female candidate.

Is sexism still a problem?  Yes.  Is it a one-sided problem that works only to the benefit of men and detriment of women?  Not a chance.  Is Obama any more responsible for the sexism of the media than Hillary was for the racism of rural voters?  It's the wrong question.


vote (4.00 / 1)
Ignoring the rude and impolite portion of your post...

But let's dispense with that, and get to the one issue of substance in the entire pedantic screed we've been offered here: Did Obama benefit from Sexism?

I think it's pretty clear from exit polling that in fact, he did not, that he lost more women voters to sexism than he gained male voters.

I tend to agree with this and believe the only obvious votes gained or loss due to sexism came in NH to Clinton's defense.  (The electorate was simply not going to stand for all the shit thrown Clinton's way that week.)

But the counter-argument is hard to ignore.  The sexism in the media and elsewhere negatively added to one's overall opinion of Clinton.  Without realizing it, in general, the electorate moved away from Clinton largely as a result of sexism.  Perhaps this is true, but my guess is the opposite, the reaction to sexism is part of what kept her in the race to the end.


[ Parent ]
Pre-emptive (0.00 / 0)
I've found that when having an argument with a female chauvinist, it saves a lot of time and headache if you don't make them search for the insults and just put them right up front.  Then at least you're defending something you actually did, rather than getting blindsided by a feminist deconstruction.

The media was undoubtedly sexist at times, and some of Obama's supporters were blatantly sexist ("Bro's before Ho's").  At worst, Obama was guilty of inadvertant cultural sexism, a crime the average American male commits at least three times before breakfast.  And of not defending Clinton from blatant sexism, but that definitely cut both ways ("inadequate black male").


[ Parent ]
Sorry, but... (4.00 / 2)
At worst, Obama was guilty of inadvertant cultural sexism, a crime the average American male commits at least three times before breakfast.  

Sorry, but just saying the "average American male" commits 3 acts of cultural sexism before breakfast does not make it an excuse for Obama, or anyone for that matter, to get away with it.  It just means the "average American male" has a lot to learn and should check his privilege before committing those acts.  "Everyone is doing it" is not an excuse.  As your mother (or at least my mother) often said, "If everyone else jumps off a cliff, are you going to do that too?"

By the way, I'm here from Shakesville, in case you couldn't guess.


[ Parent ]
feminism is not about hate (4.00 / 6)
It's an insult to all feminists and feminism itself that feminism is about hating men. Regrettably, it is the most typical attack against feminism. It's groundless, but that's all the apologists of male supremacy can say.

I'm a male feminist and somehow I don't hate myself.

The matter of the fact is that misogyny is rampant in the society we live in now, and it unfairly advantages men while disadvatanges women on a momunental scale. This primary really demonstrated it. If you don't believe that, ask yourself why NONE of the Presidents has been a woman, and 84% of Senators are men. Do you think it is a simple chance? Get real.  


[ Parent ]
Women running for office (0.00 / 0)
If you don't believe that, ask yourself why NONE of the Presidents has been a woman, and 84% of Senators are men. Do you think it is a simple chance? Get real.

I was under the impression that women are just as likely to win elections as men, but women don't run as often as men.  If I'm wrong, correct me, but I thought Matt or someone had pointed that out before.

That is still evidence of the sexism in our society, but not exactly the kind you are describing.


[ Parent ]
That's True (4.00 / 1)
But the reasons behind why women don't run as often as men hold quite a bit of sexism within them.

[ Parent ]
Agreed (0.00 / 0)
Which is why I said "that is still evidence of the sexism in our society".  Our women don't believe they should be running for office because society somehow tells them they should not.  It isn't clear to me where that message comes from, but it is heard loud and clear.  Even third world countries do better than us in this account.

[ Parent ]
I Blame the Patriarchy (4.00 / 1)
Our women don't run for office because when they do, they are told to "iron my shirt" and are subjected to the blatant vituperative sexism from all sides.  It takes a strong, resolute, stubborn woman to stand up to all that; unfortunately, strong, resolute, stubborn women in this culture are defined as "ball-busting bitches".

It isn't clear to me where that message comes from

It comes from the Patriarchy: the dominant cultural paradigm.  It isn't clear to you because you were born a man and therefore, through no fault or merit of your own, have male privilege.


[ Parent ]
Exit polling does not account for all the effects of sexism (4.00 / 4)
Much of the effect of sexism is below the radar. Its not obvious and its not overtly in-your-face. And even though there was enough in-your-face misogyny to rally women doesnt mean that sexism did not have a huge negative impact on the Clinton candidacy. I think she could have won despite the hurdle she faced if she ran a better campaign and no one is to blame for that but Clinton herself. But lets not minimize the impact of sexism. Much of the Hillary-hate stems out deeply misogynistic mind-set that was pushed out of the right-wing freakshow and was (to a very large degree) adopted by the netroots and alleged liberals and progressives during this campaign.

The reason why sexism is so embedded in our culture is that we do not understand what is or is not sexist. Just ticking a box that asks you 'whether or not you based your vote on the candidate's gender' will not give you the whole picture of the impact and prevalence of sexism.  


[ Parent ]
True enough... (0.00 / 0)
...as far as it goes.  This primary was so finely balanced, I could probably prove, with enough data, that the fact that Obama was left-handed was a decisive factor in the result.

Where I part company with the feminist ideologues is in their assertion that to end sexism, we must make it the central issue of everything, constantly censoring, filtering, and shaping ourselves around the idea of our "privilege", or else we're part of the problem.

You want to define yourself on your gender, or your race, go ahead.  I do not (and although I am male, I'm not white).  But if you impose that gender-based framing on me, that is sexism, just as much as when it is imposed on women.


[ Parent ]
I can't think of many women who can "transcend gender" (4.00 / 3)
In fact, I think if Hillary Clinton had run as an unabashed feminist she would have won in a landslide, but she was afraid of that and didn't do it, and the rest is history.

But my point is that women are who they are. I am not a white woman, and undeniably my cultural background (Indian) is a part of who I am and I proudly talk about it. Its not separate from who I am. And I am a woman. I can't, and don't want to, change that. I want and demand equality and respect for being who I am.

So I don't really know what you are talking about. I cannot separate being a woman from being me.


[ Parent ]
Funny, that (0.00 / 0)
I can't separate myself from being male.  Even major transgendering surgery would not change my core maleness.  But I seem to be expected to undercut, second-guess, and self-deprecate my every position on everything, because as a male I can't possibly understand how my insensitivity is damaging to women.

You can be proud to be a woman, with a woman's perspective.  Can I be proud to be a man, with a man's perspective?  Can I even be content with that perspective, without it being considered some form of privilege-based sexism?

I really tried to be a good feminist.  But it became clear to me that to do so (by the standards of the ideologically pure female chauvinists that act as standard bearers for feminism), I had to become self-conscious, self-sabotaging, self-loathing.  I had to feel existential guilt for the crime of being born with testicles, every minute.

That's not equality, that's not empowerment.  Don't get me wrong, I have no desire to disciminate against women, or even feminists.  But I'm not going to assume a default position of surrender every time I don't agree with them about something.  If you're a strong, proud woman, you can deal with a strong confident person of any gender.  Only if it's all a front is my certainty a threat to yours.


[ Parent ]
I really dont know who you are talking about when you say "female chauvinists" (4.00 / 3)
If men had been suppressed and discriminated against for centuries and women were the dominant force over the years, and if women continued to refuse to understand or listen to or  respect the male perspective then I think women would be sexist and they would be wrong. There are somethings that cannot be justified on the basis of identity. Whites, for centuries, thought they were better than people of colour. That was their perspective. It was faulty and unacceptable as a mindset and had to be changed. Similar dynamics should be applied to the gender debate.

Now I am not calling you names and I really don't know very much about your outlook and philosophy, but I get the idea that you think that Melissa is chastising men in some way, shape or form. I really don't think so. I think she is simply presenting her perspective. She is simply talking about how she feels the issues she cares about are playing out. You don't have to agree with and I don't think she is imposing on anyone to agree with her. Its just a perspective. No one is trying to drag you into existential guilt for having a penis.

But not understanding/respecting a woman's perspective and imposing (simply because you have the power to impose) your ideology on women is sexist and demeaning. Women have been fighting for their rights for centuries and still their voices are not being heard and/or respected.

This is not an attack on you. Its just how things are. No one is trying to guilt you into anything. Its a discussion of a point of view. And I don't know who the "female chauvinists", you talk about, are.


[ Parent ]
How Much Of That Historic Inequity... (0.00 / 0)
...am I to blame for?  By the time I came of age, women's liberation was an accomplished fact.  Not equality, but certainly freedom from their absolute restriction to gender roles.  And I've certainly tried very hard not to perpetuate the remaining inequalities.  So those millennia of oppression are no part of my debt.

But let's take an example from Melissa's post: Obama's "flub" on Abortion.  He stated that there was room to discuss what constituted "health of the mother" justifications for late-term abortions.  This is a betrayal?  If Hillary had said the same thing, would it have even registered, or is Obama being held to a different standard, his right to a position challenged, strictly because of his gender?

Because that's how it appears, how it is constantly presented, that a man has no right to an opinion on Abortion less expansive than that of the most extreme feminist stance.  And it's not just at the political level, at the personal level I have seen feminists absolutely eviscerate a man for having an opinion (pro or con) about his significant other's decisions about abortion.  Not pressuring her about it, just telling her what he would prefer.

So there's this whole class of issues about which my opinion as a man is unwanted, even when they affect me directly.  Unless I approach them obsequiously, genuflecting copiously and making it clear I'm deferring to the opinion of any women party to the discussion, I'm going to be vilified as a sexist.

So that's where I'm coming from.  I see many cases where it appears that women, perhaps out of some sense of balancing the scale for previous oppression, perhaps simply unaware of their being influenced by someone else's ideologically pure indoctrination, take a position of "female chauvinism", the "prejudiced belief in the superiority of one's own gender, group, or kind."  It's okay to assert the superiority of women, because they've been historically oppressed.  But asserting the equality of the male perspective on "women's issues" is sexist.


[ Parent ]
I believe (4.00 / 1)
1) Hillary would have never said the same thing. She has been an ardent and vocal defender and proponent for a woman's right to choose and women's rights generally.
2) If she had, in fact, said that, it would have definitely been a betrayal.

[ Parent ]
Sexism Makes You Stupid (4.00 / 2)
Once upon a time, I was proud to consider myself a male feminist.  Then I realized that to ideologues like this, I simply lacked a sufficient capacity for self-loathing to ever be allowed into their club.

Believe it or not, the choices here are not between hating women and hating men.  No self-loathing required.

Which leads me to believe that however "feminist" you may have considered yourself, part of you never let go your identification with privilege, which is certainly fully on display in this and other comments.

The big problem with America is not sexism, which can be used in a gender-neutral way.  It's patriarchy, which cannot--even though it also damages men--severely so.

Does this mean that women are always inherently blameless?  No, of course not.  But it does mean that taking the individual interaction--shorn of all context--as your prototype for thinking about gender issues, and using the gender-ambivilent term "sexism" as the coin of the realm will systematically blind you to the major source of the problems we're talking about here.

Not incidentally, the same thing goes for talk about "racism" instead of white supremacy and white supremacism.

When we shift our focus by using terms like patriarchy and white supremacy, one of the things that happens is that it highlights something that otherwise gets much too easily overlooked--the truly self-hating psychology (not a matter of blame--these are victims I'm talking about) of white-identified blacks and male-identified women.

There's a whole 'nother universe of discussion to be had here, but you'd never even know it existed if you have allowed the terms "sexism" and "racism" to facilitate the ready labelling and dismissal of those who are too "uppity" as "reverse sexists" or "reverse racists".

One final word.  I actually have met someone who was a "reverse racist," way back in 1970/71.  Tried to sell me on the "white devil" theory.  I found out half an hour later that he'd spent several years passing as white.  So it was just a case of residual self-loathing, still working itself out, and nothing like what the term "reverse racism" by itself implies.

Indeed, there was no way at all to undersrand this man through the "racism" language, but it was instantly gettable via the "white supremacist" framework.

Of course, if I really was racist, then I would have been hookable into his game, and wallowing in ignorance with him.

Like I said, makes you stupid.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Code Words (0.00 / 0)
I love these code words.  If you don't want to engage the substance of what someone says, you slap a "privilege" label on it and you can ignore it while you deconstruct trivial points.

Placing everything "into the framework" of patriarchy, white supremacism, and privilege means you never have to examine the self-defeating stupidities of your own positions.  You can virtuously assert your righteousness, without ever having to ask if you are actually right.

Because let's examine the focus of the post at hand here: A vote for Obama is a vote for the patriarchy.  Much better to not vote, than to reward sexism.  If someone can't see that as a perfect example of over-educated ideological stupidity, then they're way too far gone to be reachable with logic.

Identity politics has turned into a monster, it's the lobster pot gone wild, with no-body allowed to make any progress other than by dragging someone else back in.


[ Parent ]
Thanks For Illustrating My Point (4.00 / 1)
Because let's examine the focus of the post at hand here: A vote for Obama is a vote for the patriarchy.  Much better to not vote, than to reward sexism.  If someone can't see that as a perfect example of over-educated ideological stupidity, then they're way too far gone to be reachable with logic.

Except that's not what Melissa said.  She wasn't saying what people should do.  She was elucidating the problems that are being buried under questionable logic. It was a critical work, not an exhortive one.  That's as plain as day.  Yet, somehow you missed it.

Like I said, makes you stupid.

p.s.  Of course being aware of patriarchy and white supremacy doesn't pre-empt all other critical inquiry.  Some people my try that dodge. Others simply focus so much on what others ignore that you may wrongly conclude that's all they care about. And, of course, some are simply going through a phase of assimilating a new, vast and overwhelming perspective they had otherwise not recognized.

But none of these creates a logical incapacity to recognize and deal with other failings. The same cannot be said for the "sexist"/"racist" analytical mindset, which logically precludes grasping, much less coming to grips with the larger problem.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
I Missed It (0.00 / 0)
Because it damn near wasn't there.  One sentence with a catechismal inclusionary invocation of "and that's totally legitimate" followed by thousands of words about how it really wasn't.

If you need a special ideological vocabulary to make something nonsensical seem logical, then it's still nonsense.


[ Parent ]
I agree with Liberallatte (2.86 / 7)
and in fact would take it a little farther.  After the really incredibly disappointing primary and now general election campaign, I'm tired of this "lesser of two evils" argument and don't feel like voting for the DNC and BO.  Maybe a loss would send a strong signal that the Democratic Party needs to change, needs to stand for something other than being not-Republicans, or really not even that, just Republicans-lite.  So what if McCain wins?  The economy is in the tank, we're stuck in two wars, there's a pretty good chance the next president will be a one-term president anyway...Democrats will control the Senate and the House -- they can reject McCain's SC nominees if they have any backbone, and if they don't -- well, I'm not sure we would've gotten much different with BO.  I'm going to vote for down-ticket Dems and donate my money to causes, not the party, not BO.

agree with your sentiment, but... (0.00 / 0)
The thing is, we've done it before. Look at the Dem's hysterical hatred of Nader after 2000... it's really unfair, since Gore actually WON the election, only to be stolen by the Republican fraud machine. But still, I think Nader shouldn't have campaigned in swing states.

Even if you think Obama is practically the same as McCain (which I don't), it's not good at all for progressives that Democrats and Greens are hating each other.  


[ Parent ]
Personally (4.00 / 1)
I blame Greens for the past 8 years even more than Republicans.  Republicans are just wrong, Greens should have known better.

So yea, not too healthy.


[ Parent ]
??? (0.00 / 0)
sorry, I fail to understand why the most liberal of all parties is to be blamed for all the atrocities committed by the right-wing thugs, even more so than the Bushite themselves. Just because Nader was strongly running in an election stolen by the Republicans, not the Greens? It doesn't logically make sense. Please don't be emotional and irrational. That's how the left loses.  

[ Parent ]
emotional and irrational (0.00 / 0)
hmm, maybe those aren't sexist words, after all.  Certainly, my handle leaves little to doubt about my gender.  :-)

I'll leave it at that.  If I actually think about it I only get very, very angry.  Seriously mad.  Not healthy.


[ Parent ]
Because nader and naderites are funded by the Republicans (0.00 / 0)
Thats were they get their money period. That is who benefits from their efforts period.

Elections are not about stating an opinion, they are about taking the power of taxation, dispersement and the right of legislation.

If you want to state an opinion watch American Idol.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
since i'm registered in new york (0.00 / 0)
my vote in american idol would probably affect american politics more than if i voted for a democrat.

[ Parent ]
The Democratic Party needs a mandate to acheive the goals (0.00 / 0)
... that Obama and Edwards and you and I have been talking about for a generation. Getting 49% of the vote and winning isnt the same as getting 2 million, five million more votes than McCain.

A mandate is what we need. So your vote in New York, and the hundreds of thousands of others who might wrongly think "it doesn't matter" are desperately needed.

Two, if you don't work energetically to get out the vote for the extremely popular presidential candidate, the lower ticket candidates don't get the benefit of your efforts either and they loose to an unpopular Republican, because Republicans always get out to vote.

Three, the people that don't vote are always the most marginalized, the most in need of being represented, they deserve to be registered, their candidates deserve to win primaries, and a lot of new people need to be brought in, new progressive people, who can win in States like New York, because they "almost don't matter" because they vote Dem a lot.

So don't ever lay back, or think your efforts don't matter, they matter a lot. If you aren't bringing forward good candidates in New York, how the hell do you criticize candidates in more purple states who say they have to be centrist?

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
why would i want to give my mandate to obama? (0.00 / 0)
i don't believe in what he stands for, as i've stated before.  I believe in the space that he gives people like me to articulate our own opinions and push for social justice, and I will do so by rejecting the Democratic Presidential nominee in New York and in every other way that I can to make the United States a place I can tolerate again.  I'm not saying my efforts don't matter - I'm saying that voting for a Democrat in New York would be wasting my vote and I would rather vote for a third party candidate in a place where it's goign to do no harm and if anyone pays attention, might actually be heard.  There are plenty of other things I have done and continue to do.

And I don't criticize candidates in purple states for being centrist - I think candidates have to balance winning and being as progressive as possible - that's politics.  What I criticize is the political discourse in which they operate and the extent to which they wittingly or unwittingly reinforce it so that nothing improves 2 years down the road.

Big picture.


[ Parent ]
Silly personal politics for feeling smug and right (0.00 / 0)
I would rather vote for a third party candidate in a place where it's goign to do no harm and if anyone pays attention, might actually be heard.

The way they keep us out of office it is so much more satisfying to be 'right' while children die, while people are locked up, while the economy tanks, while banks steal all the wealth of African Americans in a well planned "mortgage crisis" while OIL barons steal our democracy, you can 'feel' right in a wonderful angry way and tell everyone its not your fault.

You aren't a democrat, as you agree, and you come on here where we are trying to build a centre-left coalition to end the war to build a healthcare that includes everyone, and put unions back into the economy. Oh and stop the climate crisis. Well good for you. I have not time for naderite sabotagers who think if they can just make everything bad enough everyone will become a social democrat by "magic" overnight and there will suddenly be new magic perfect candidates cloned from you.

I reject your ideas and strategies.

We are a coalition of unions African Americans, farmers and women and poor people and middle class moms who want healthcare for their children, we are building with the blood sweat and fears of real people working in real life not some imagined world where it isnt a two party country, doesn't have this constitution, isnt under the heel of coercive companies.

My Democratic Party includes Elizabeth Edwards, and it does NOT include demented deluded people like Ralph Nader.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
this isn't going anywhere productive (0.00 / 0)
the fact that you could read my comment - and particularly the section about balancing the need to win power with advancing progressive politics - and come to the conclusion that i'm a political neophyte who has no awareness of the consequences of the election is almost astonishing to me.

I can only attribute it to my grumpy tone :)

I wish you well with your coalition, and hope you'll wish me well in building mine, and we can work together productively when and where the need arises.


[ Parent ]
and democratic politically junkies committed to social justice (0.00 / 0)
should know better than to vote for a democratic presidential candidate in a state that they can't lose (like New York) or don't need to win (like Texas).  But they don't, which raises the question of whether they're not paying attention or whether they're not committed to social justice.  

So this works both ways.


[ Parent ]
The Democratic Party needs a mandate to acheive the goals (0.00 / 0)

... that Obama and Edwards and you and I have been talking about for a generation. Getting 49% of the vote and winning isnt the same as getting 2 million, five million more votes than McCain.

A mandate is what we need. So your vote in New York, and the hundreds of thousands of others who might wrongly think "it doesn't matter" are desperately needed.

Two, if you don't work energetically to get out the vote for the extremely popular presidential candidate, the lower ticket candidates don't get the benefit of your efforts either and they loose to an unpopular Republican, because Republicans always get out to vote.

Three, the people that don't vote are always the most marginalized, the most in need of being represented, they deserve to be registered, their candidates deserve to win primaries, and a lot of new people need to be brought in, new progressive people, who can win in States like New York, because they "almost don't matter" because they vote Dem a lot.

So don't ever lay back, or think your efforts don't matter, they matter a lot. If you aren't bringing forward good candidates in New York, how the hell do you criticize candidates in more purple states who say they have to be centrist?

So you should pay attention to the fact that the places where progressives can win easily are where we need good progressives working in the Democratic Party, so the Democratic Party s filled with progressives, and progressive candidates, and progressive primary challengers. And that will never happen, if you don't register marginalized Democratic Party supporters, marginalized non-voters, poor people and anyone that thinks the system is stacked against them. Its time for us to build our coalition so the system can be stacked for them, for us for Americans in every state.

I challenge this crap. Work full time making the coalition strong enough and progressive enough that it can govern for a long long while, and that it deserves to.

Naderites are lazy and smug.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
why don't you show me a progressive presidential candidate (0.00 / 0)
and i'll vote for him.  Show me someone who supports a single-payer health care plan.  Show me someone who supports immediate full legalization for all undocumented people in the United States.  Show me someone who will acknowledge PUBLICLY that Palestinians have the same human rights as Israelis and that the U.S. has not been an honest broker and that Israel is commiting human rights abuses on a daily basis.  Show me an American politician who will tell me that the welfare of the people of Iraq is as important as short-term domestic politics.

When you show me all that, then I'll give you your support for a mandate.  Until then, I'll go along for the ride, not get in the way of the guy getting elected, and work on issue-based politics instead of electoral politics.

Honestly, though, your argument is just making me want to say "f@#k it all" and actively oppose the guy.


[ Parent ]