Sunday, June 08, 2008

Ms.went from playing dumb to outright insulting

When the 2008 primary season is analyzed by feminists, one silence from the period will be especially remarked upon: Ms. magazine.

The magazine that changed the language and changed the landscape limped through 2008 like a cherished pet the vet told you needed to be put to sleep.

You didn't want to agree because you remembered so many happy times and you had so much love.

But the more you thought about it, the more you cried over it, the less you wanted to argue.

In a laughable reply to our calling out their silence on the non-stop sexism in the 2008 primary season, Michelle Kort felt the need to insist that, due to its tax status, Ms. couldn't cover the election.

If Kort truly believes that, she's not only not up to the job of "senior editor," she's also not able to understand the basics of tax law.

Due to being part of a foundation (The Feminist Majority Foundation), Ms. cannot endorse in political races. Nothing prevents them for covering political races any more than it prevents them from covering any news story.

Ms. elected to sit it out. As the sort of vile sexism that was once aimed at women breaking into minor rungs as staffers and advisers, sexism we all hoped had vanished, surfaced and was targeted at the first viable woman who could have been president.

Following our public criticism here, Ms. finally decided they need to do something on the election. Thereby tossing out Kort's ludicrous excuse/lie that their tax status prevented them from covering the race.

Their 'fix' was only more insulting.


In the issue on stands now, they farm out the topic to non-feminist Donna Brazile. There's not an election observer around the country who didn't know Brazile was in the tank for Barack Obama, but Ms. wanted to play like Brazile was "objective." The same Brazile whom Campbell Brown, on CNN, finally had to point out says she's undecided but certainly seems to be supporting Barack. "Undeclared," insisted Brazile, not undecided.

In a piece of garbage entitled "Black. Woman," Brazile wanted to play like she viewed both candidates as historic. Surely a shock to any CNN viewer who's heard her slag Hillary non-stop and who told viewers, in her exchange with Paul Begala, that the Democratic base was not needed. The base that, hello, Ms. magazine, includes women.

Brazile found new fame this election cycle not only over the airwaves of CNN but also online as her many e-mails trashing Hillary Clinton repeatedly surfaced.

Yet Ms. wanted their readers to believe Brazile was able to offer an even-handed look?

While the mainstream media and Panhandle Media has repeatedly labeled Barack "Black" and gotten away with it, it's offensive that Ms. would allow that nonsense. The bi- and multi-racial movement is not the sort of thing that diversity embracing Ms. would usually spit on.

But whoever expected the day to come when Ms. would feature a closeted lesbian as a columnist?

The personal is political was one of the early slogans of the feminist movement. Truth telling was supposed to matter. These days, Brazile gets featured for some reason -- it's not for any writing ability -- and women are supposed to be so thrilled at her minor name appearing in the publication that it's okay that Donna Brazile, outed years ago by Andrew Sullivan, plays "straight" for the magazine. As a general rule, anyone "playing" has no business in the pages of Ms. As a general rule, any lesbian who cannot come out of the closet has no business writing for the magazine because that's sending a message that the closet is something to strive for.

Somehow, none of that mattered and readers of Ms. (we're not reading it anymore) are stuck with the closet case who is either so ignorant of feminist history or thinks readers are that she attempts, in "Black. Woman," to rip off Sojourner Truth without giving credit.

Brazile calls for all feminists to call out racism and sexism. Not surprisingly, the closet case doesn't mention a word about calling out homophobia. Let's be really clear for Big Momma's Mouth, you can hide in your closet all you want, you can be as pathetic as your lame ass can handle, but you cannot call yourself a feminist and never call out Barack Obama for utilizing homophobia to scare up votes in South Carolina.

Homophobia is not on the table to be discussed. Feminists long ago called it out. Donna Brazile's not a feminist. She's a woman who thinks she can write and some idiot brought on board at Ms. because no one else would have her (for good reason).

Barack's not "Black," but Donna Brazile has a lot of gall writing about the horrid racism he's allegedly faced from the media. Not only has Barack been the recipient of glowing, fan club press, if we're calling out racism in the media, let's call out Brazile. Or does she think no one remembers her 1988 remarks about Jesse Jackson? (Click here.) Now she's worried about African-Americans running for office? After her 1988 remarks? After her sending Jackson packing when he attempted to draw attention to the Florida disenfranchisement in 2000? Now Donna Brazile wants to worry?

Barring a Barack scandal or Hillary Clinton deciding to do what every politician in her shoes would do and take this to the floor of the convention, Barack Obama is the Democratic Party nominee. And it's really disgusting that the only thing Ms. has to show for this campaign season is Donna Brazile's lies and badly written ones at that.

Ms. could used a lesbian columnist writing her own truths. With limited space, that columnist is not non-writer and closet case Brazile.

Some may remember Ms.' message boards or various online bloggers. They may assume that the magazine that only (ONLY) publishes four times a year makes up for the print short comings via a lively website. Dream on.

Ms. has no online presence because it has nothing to offer. Each year, it offers less and less. Like the old dog or cat that really can't move around too much anymore. There are no message boards, there are no bloggers. There is no way for any reader to leave a comment.

In keeping with the last sentence, readers have rightly been complaining about how the letters section of the magazine has been destroyed. They are not mistaken. What was once the most exciting part of the magazine to read is now a highly and tightly edited space which has even less room for the voices of women across the country because it's a rare letter that the editors (who have the whole magazine to speak) don't feel the need to add their two cents. In the current issue, Simone C. Williams objects to Ms. including an ad for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles in their "No Comment" section (which is a page where sexists ads are featured with "no comment"). They didn't bother to explain it when they ran it, but let a reader object and it's time for a rebuttal. In the past, when readers disagreed, they got to have their say and everyone could come to their own conclusion. Not these days, disagree or offer a dissenting though and Ms. has a tizzy. It's really appalling for long term readers and you can't speak with a women's group anywhere in the country when what's going on in the letters section isn't the first thing they bring up about Ms.

The first thing? Try first complaint. And the loudest and most repeated complaint across the country (Kat, Ava and C.I. are on the road every week, they speak to women's groups, to students, to labor groups and to veterans/service members about the illegal war) is the HUGE FAILURE of Ms. in this election cycle. Whether the women support Hillary's run or not, they are appalled by the sexism and the press outlet they lash out the loudest isn't MSNBC or any other haven for non-stop sexism. They lash out at Ms. for their silence throughout this primary season.


They're right to lash out. Donna Brazile's drooling over a man (maybe that's part of staying in the closet?) but Ms. is a feminist magazine that is supposed to cover women's issue. Brazile and Kort can't hide behind the false claim that race was addressed in Brazile's insulting column because Cynthia McKinney actually is Black and she's no where to be found in Donna's 'difficult choices' nonsense.

When you grasp that, you grasp how stupid Kort is or what a liar.* In her e-mail response to readers contacting her after we called Ms. out, she either lied or flaunted her ignorance by claiming that Ms.' tax free status meant they couldn't endorse. What was Donna Brazile's bad writing but an endorsement of the Democratic Party? Not supposed to do any endorsements?

Where's the column on the Green Party? On Nader's run? On the GOP?

There was never a reason to hire Donna Brazile. She's not a writer. She's in the closet. But most importantly, she is a Democratic Party operative and it takes a lot of nerve for Kort to claim that the magazine can't make political endorsements while they hire a DNC schill and let her schill from the pages of Ms.

As we reflect on all of that, we realize that our response to the vet's news is not, "How sad." It's, "Get your act together or get off the damn stage. You've done enough damage."

Ms. was not created (and saved multiple times) to practice silence. It was supposed to call out. But when The Nation wouldn't publish women and feminists came to Ava and C.I. to complain, they noted Ms. wouldn't call it out. We didn't hesitate to call it out (and we were much more fond of The Nation then than we are now). We followed each issue of 2007 and saw The Nation publish 491 men and only 149 men. It should not have been this website calling that crap out, it should have been the alleged leading feminist magazine in the US.

Instead of calling our real sexism, Ms. these days is much more interested in offering the text equivalent of Lifetime movies: Woman in danger! Maids turned into sex slaves!

It's crap, it's bulls**t and it's melodrama. It's insulting to women everywhere. There's a place for those stories (minus all the grand opera) in the magazine. But the focus of the magazine is supposed to be on the real discrimination women face every day. If Ms. can't call out sexism, it's got not reason to exist.

Talk to women around the country and you'll hear over and over, "If it wasn't for Martha Burk, I wouldn't even pick it up anymore." There's a message that should be easily understood.

Women are struggling all over the country, dealing with a variety of problems at the root of which is sexism whether it's rate of pay or societal imposed obligations. No one Ava, Kat and C.I. spoke with gave a damn about the sensationalistic stories to be found within the magazine. They were too busy trying to put food on their table, trying to get the promotion they'd earned years ago but were still auditioning for. They worried about what happened when Roe falls. And the consensus is that it will fall. They want to share their struggles but, with no sex captive angle, they know it will never appear in the pages of the current Ms.

A 32 year-old woman in Dayton shared how she was trashing the magazine to an older friend who pulled out old issues and showed her it wasn't always that way. "What happened to that magazine?" she wanted to know.

It's a question worth asking and it's a question Ms. needs to be asking. They've played the damsel in distress card once too often in the last few years and lost touch with regular women. A woman in Phoenix wondered if they were intentionally trying to drive away working women out of a desire for "better demographics"?

Ms. has a problem and they need to fix it. The foundation may be able to keep the magazine in print but, if no one's reading it, it's just a waste of paper. And, as a student in Portland pointed out, "I am online non-stop. This junk about wait four months for something to read doesn't cut it with me and my friends."

Repeating, get your act together or get off the damn stage. It's going to be awfully hard to explain it all in five years. Young feminists will ask, "What did Ms. do when sexism was used in an attempt to destroy Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign?" Replying "We featured the nonsensical scribbles of a Barack supporter who trashed Hillary in e-mail after e-mail, trashed her on CNN and told America that Democrats didn't need women anymore!" will not make the magazine look any better.


Illustration of the ridiculous Brazile via Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Message From a Heavy Weight".

#Don't bring up "We do Feminist Wire Daily!" Yes, you feed information. The information you want. Readers around the country complain that the interactive magazine -- interactive before the online revolution -- leaves them no space today to interact. They can be fed and fed information but they're not allowed to comment. They're not allowed to share. It's authoritarian and top-down which is not what built Ms. Stories, from MSM sources, suggested for FWD by readers are regularly ignored -- topics have included women serving in the military being raped and women serving in the military who get pregnant being discriminated against, encouraged to have an abortion (by superiors) and more. Despite those being MSM reports, FWD has repeatedly refused to offer anything other than what they wanted. Readers are pissed and pissed with good reason.

*Kort, be very careful about what you say when you think you are in "safe" areas. If it gets back, it won't be pretty. C.I. says, "Think The Carnegie Hall Concert and you should grasp exactly what I'm sitting on."

# Dona adds, "Do one of those crap-ass 'Look our wonderful choices for First Lady' articles this fall and I'll rip you apart here."
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