Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Vagina Strikes Back! (Ava and C.I.)

What could reduce allegedly mature, allegedly pro-women and feminists such as Robin Morgan and Kim Gandy (among others) to conducting themselves in the stereotypical manner of back-biting, harping shrews willing to repeat any lie or smear if it helps a man?

Sarah Palin.


That's the crowd that turned out for Palin in Minnesota from the McCain campaign's official blog (photo posted to that blog by Matt Lira who deserves credit for all the work he does online as an official campaign blogger, by the way). See, Sarah Palin packs in the crowds. She energizes people.

We can say that and not alarm any non-McCain supporters because we said here since 2005 that we wouldn't vote for McCain (and it was said at The Common Ills in 2004). The article needs to be written, as Dona and Jim point out, and everyone's pressed for time and a group article might be read as "They're dropping Nader and voting for McCain!" The endorsement of Ralph Nader by the rest stands. (We haven't endorsed. We have stated we will not vote for Barack Obama or John McCain.)

Palin is a strong woman and that's reason enough to scare the likes of Robin and Kim. Remember, those two and their ilk also make a point to black-out (or is that Black-out?) Cynthia McKinney who is the Green Party presidential candidate and who happens to have a woman (Rosa Clemente) as a running mate.

Strong women tend to scare that crowd unless they all went to Sarahrad Wellscliff together and, who knows, had secret crushes on each other and left notes on each other's pillows. Anyone who ever had to actually work for a living, as both Palin and McKinney have had to do, anyone who ever had to pull themselves up from the bottom, is just a little too hard to get close to. [Gloria Steinem, whom we love, did go to the 'right' college but she did have to pull herself up from the bottom. In terms of the leadership, Gloria's really the token product of the working class. Sh, don't say it too loudly, no one's ever supposed to notice.]

So when women bust their ass and try to move up, it's only natural that the highly insulated level of 'leadership' responds with hisses and starts playing like they're Alexis Carrington about to stage a throw down of Krystal. It's all so sad but, laugh or cry, we prefer to chuckle. Fortunately feminism will get past those women and their restricted minds. By 2020, the women's studies book will be decrying the women who not only refused to support either Palin or McKinney in the general election but worked to tear them down.

That is what's happening.

With Palin, it's attack, attack. She's considered 'pretty' and goodness knows the feminist movement has always been conflicted with beauty. Cynthia is a gorgeous women herself but she's African-American so the bulk of leadership doesn't notice. (What? You really thought we were geniuses for noticing that Naomi Wolf raved over free-love glamor girl Victoria Woodhull's looks while treating Madame C.J. Walker like an ugly oaf in Fire With Fire? We weren't geniuses, we just weren't so insulated from the real world as the leadership of the movement.) But Palin's judged attractive (and she is attractive) so it's attack, just like in high school. Acne scars and flat chests really did a number on a large group of women who just cannot put high school behind them. [Cynthia photo from her campaign site.]


They ignore McKinney's beauty (for reasons outlined) but, then, they ignore Cynthia period. That's the other catty girl move from high school, you may remember. The freeze out. The snub. So every day is a new attack on Sarah and every day is another snub of Cynthia. And the leadership wants the country to see it as 'supportive' and 'women-centered.' While, try not to laugh too hard, supporting a Corporatist War Hawk who uses sexism and homophobia regularly. They've gone a long way . . . backwards.

But that's often the case for a movement that outgrows its leaders and 'leaders' and that's really what appears to be happening today.

Instead of saying, "You know what I disagree with Cynthia and/or Sarah but I'm damn proud as a woman that both are in this race," the Sour Grape Girls make a point of working to destroy them.

You probably knew girls like that in high school. Remember? They attacked other girls to get in good with the guys. Like Robin Morgan in January, they may have tried to stand up against the male order briefly but they got called a few names and apparently words like "bitch" stung so much that they couldn't handle it. So it was time to do the men's bidding for them.

Ourselves, we laugh when we're called "bitches." Being feminists, we assume we'll be called that at least once a day and it's a rare day we're not called that more than once.

We should probably confess that we weren't of the flat-chested crowd. (Or the acne crowd.) Never having suffered from lack of male attention, maybe we don't take seriously enough the pains of other straight women when it comes to that issue?

Could be true. But we've also never attacked another woman for being beautiful and we wouldn't rank ourselves as Most Beautiful In The World.

But one thing we do know is no one gets by on good looks. That's a lie -- one usually started by ugly or plain girls (often long out of girlhood and still carrying grudges). You can sleep your way to a certain level and you can certainly claw you way to a certain level. Mainly though, a lot of women silence themselves to a certain level.

As anyone who's read even a little of our writing knows, we don't shy from expressing our opinions and that tends to cancel out any benefits that looks might garner.

No, Nora Ephron, this isn't Confessions of a Former Beauty Queen; however, it bears noting.

Jealousy really fuels the anti-women attacks which is why we felt the need to talk about looks in this commentary. It's really insulting when men act as if Sarah's beauty is her strongest trait or when they post those pictures of her head on the body of a bikini-clad women (they're posted all over Barack's site). But there's another offense and that's the women who can't stop sneering of Sarah that she was a "beauty queen."

We have never entered a beauty contest and never would. We think they're glorified cattle auctions and note that the only Miss America with a career to point to with pride is the woman who got stripped of the title (the amazing Vanessa Williams). But if that's what someone else defines as success, have at it. We're not going to make a point to mention it or obsess over it in our daily lives.

But a lot of women do. Like Robin Morgan. Who thinks it's fair to sneer "beauty queen" while not informing readers that Palin did compete but did so because she wanted a college scholarship. College scholarship.

Let's digress to refute a lie not associated with either Cynthia or Sarah. Barack Obama's mother. Ann. She was on food stamps. What?

She wasn't hurting for money. She did not attend college on a scholarship and it's been amazing to watch as feminists have let this lie slip by because feminism needs to take a bow here.

See, Ann got pregnant in college. And she had her baby. Had she been on a scholarship, in 1961, it would have ended right then. Women weren't seen as 'attractive' to colleges. The usual line was that women were just going to get married (and have babies) so what was the point of educating them? When it comes to scholarships, that was the line only more so. So, no, Barack did not grow up in a cash-strapped home. Ann's parents paid for their daughter's college. Before she had the baby and after. And after? It was the feminist movement that argued women had a right to equal education and it was the feminist movement that fought for many of the programs that exit today, the ones that help single mothers attend college. They didn't exist back then.

We always shake our heads in wonder when the lie is promoted and repeated about Ann's cash struggle. She did struggle in other ways, as all women do. But she wasn't the economically down trodden.

Sarah Palin and Cynthia McKinney come from working class roots. Cynthia's were a little higher up due to her father's positions but she fought to get where she was and it was a battle. In 2008, what Sarah and Cynthia accomplished can seem minor if you judge it by 2008's standards. But neither woman just graduated high school. They grew up at a time when feminism was fighting for the rights that are so often taken for granted today. And, though the Sour Grape Girls would have to believe otherwise, those rights were not just about abortion.

Both Cynthia and Sarah define themselves as feminists. It's really been amazing to watch Women's Media Center and the Feminist Majority Foundation do their poor-Michelle bulletins. That would be Michelle Obama who does not identify as a feminist. Goodness, Gloria hasn't called Michelle "Phyliss Schafly," has she?

Violet Socks pointed out last week that while Governor Palin proudly defines herself as a feminist, Michelle Obama replied when asked that question, "You know, I'm not that into labels. So probably, if you laid out a feminist agenda, I would probably agree with a large portion of it. I wouldn't identify as a feminist just like I probably wouldn't identify as a liberal or a progressive."

And that's who feminists want to defend. Cynthia they ignore, Sarah they attack.


Funny, we kind of thought women being on a presidential ticket was something to take pride in. We were supporting Hillary in the primary and we were proud of Hillary for many things. But there are things in Cynthia's record and campaign as well as in Sarah's we can take pride in. Take the photo above (posted to the McCain campaign site by Matt Lira).

Young women attending a presidential race function and they're crowded around a vice presidential candidate who is . . . a woman.

Yeah, it is something we're proud of. We don't have to vote for Palin to be proud of it or to be proud of her.

And we're proud of Rosa Clemente. Goodness, are we proud of Rosa Clemente. We weren't too thrilled with her (as we noted) when the campaign started. But damned if Rosa hasn't come into her own on the campaign trail. She's got a new confidence about her and she's increased her strength and we're damn proud of her. Rosa, you amaze us. (f you're not amazed, check out her debate performance Friday.)

All three women amaze us for so many reasons. One of the most important reasons is something that they all share with Hillary. Yes, the three have more in common with Hillary than just the double XX factor. They're strong women who get up every day and fight.

Like Hillary, they're ridiculed and attacked daily. KPFK hosted Pacifica's coverage of the Barack - John debate last month and what did they do? They brought on Cynthia and made it clear that they were done with her rather quickly. Then, the male host (sort of knew it would be a man, didn't you?) went on to insult Cynthia's intelligence (Cynthia was 100% correct about the Florida vote in 2000) and have a little laugh at her expense. It bears noting that, as with the Hillary attackers, he didn't have enough guts to try that while Cynthia was still on the line.

It's that kind of crap that women especially put up with to this day. The knowledge that when we leave the room, some of our 'agreers' will quickly stab us in the back with sadistic glee. And Cynthia knows what happened. She can't be happy about it (we'd be furious were we her and we're furious just for having heard it). But she keeps on. Because women always have to keep on. A Joe Biden or Chris Dodd can drop out a race with no concerns of "What will this mean for men!" The reason is there's always another man waiting in line to replace them. But women have to fight for their place in line and, when they finally get one, they look around and notice that they're surrounded by men.

If Hillary wanted to win a popularity contest, she could have dropped out in February. That wouldn't have made her 18 million voters happy (or the ones who came to her when others dropped out or when they saw her very real strength as it continued to emerge on the campaign trail) but it would have made the Elitist Class (yes, Robin, we used the e-word) happy. She could have had triumphant editorials. Matthew Rothschild might have even had to stop expressing disgust over what he saw as her lack of class. (Considering Matthew's upbringing, we're rather surprised he has the nerve to play snob.) She could have been applauded.

Similarly, Cynthia knows that if she announced tomorrow she was supporting Barack and ending her run, she'd get cheers from all the elites. They'd suddenly find a way to write about her -- unlike when she was in Congress and the likes of Air Berman were sneering at her in The Nation.

A woman always knows the way to garner the easiest applause is to stop fighting.

Robin Morgan's probably hoping for some of that easy applause now that she's so viciously attacked another woman. Women who aren't achieving can't drop out for applause; however, they can make themselves 'useful' to the patriarchy by attacking other women.

There's always been a seat kept warm for the gender traitors at the table of Male Oppression. A fact Robin damn well knows. We picture her sitting high and proud and ordering a-la cart while she flirts with the fellows.

But hitting the road every day when you're attacked? That takes strength. Hillary had it. Sarah Palin does, Cynthia McKinney does and Rosa Clemente does.

And what a proud moment for women across the country, if they can step out the sewer the likes of Robin are trying to push them in.

They don't have to vote for McCain-Palin or McKinney-Clemente to be proud.

You know, a lot's made about sports and we honestly aren't interested. We could go our entire lives without hearing another sports analogy. But we have to wonder, if you're rooting for Team A and Team B has a player who breaks a record, do you sit there and sulk. Or do think, "That's amazing. I'm so excited by that?"

We hope it would be the latter but with what we've seen from feminist leadership and 'leadership' this year, we really don't know. Instead of encouraging women to take a moment to realize that we're all up on the stage with Cynthia, Rosa and Sarah, we're encouraged to ignore the women or to attack them.

Sexism keeps women off presidential tickets but, it must be noted, sexism includes the crap Robin Morgan pulled last week.

Ourselves, we couldn't support a candidate who utilizes homophobia to scare up votes. So we do understand why Robin needed to 'support' Barack by tearing down Sarah. But the reality is Palin's making a historic run. McKinney and Clemente are as well but the media's paying attention to Palin (mainly because they're dying to see her fail). So at this historic moment, Robin decides the 'feminist' thing to do is to slime and smear Sarah, to repeat a lot of lies and, to prove just how tacky she can be, Robin drags Palin's teenage daughter into it.

"Sisterhood is Suicide" proclaimed Robin in one of her two stolen titles. Actually, Robin, we think what you meant to proclaim is "I'll Murder Sisterhood."

"Sisterhood is Powerful." Robin said that once. "Sisterhood is Forever." Robin said that once. "Sisterhood is Global" . . . These days, according to Robin, it's suicide.

Really? We're not aware of the definition of "sisterhood" changing so it strikes us as though Robin uncorked a bottle of imported whine and chowed down on a few sour grapes.

In the easy times, anyone can be a feminist. It's the difficult times that demonstrate what women are really made of. A lot of women are exhibiting some very non-feminist traits while insisting that they are feminists.

As usual, the women like Robin are rushing towards a man and trying to declare their love for him and, having no real power of their own, the easiest way for them to make themselves useful to the patriarchy is to rip in to women who might threaten Dream Boat Barack's chances to be BMOC.

Look, there's Robin, text book clasped firmly to her breasts, standing meekly in the hall. You can almost hear her saying, "Please, God, today, let Barack notice me. Please, please, God." It's all so damn pathetic. You'd be appalled if you caught some female character doing it on one of CW's bodywash operettas, it's even more so appalling coming from an allegedly mature woman.

By the way, you can vote for McKinney-Clemente or McCain-Palin. We're not telling you who to vote for. Your vote is your own and use it in the way that feels right to you. But even if you don't vote for either ticket or if you choose one of those two tickets, you should grasp that this is historic and that all women owe a debt to Cynthia, Sarah and Rosa. Hillary would have been in there doing just what the three women are doing so toss her in there as well. In 2008, four strong women have faced the most vicious, sexist attacks (sadly, too often from other women) and they've known the attacks were never about them individually, it was about discrediting women period. They've known that and they've gotten up each day and pressed on. There's no Pat Schroeder crying (which wasn't the end of the world, despite the way some try to play it). They fight the battle and they know that, yes, there will be a women president. It may be in 2008 if Cynthia gets enough votes. It may be in 2012. It may be later on. But a woman will be president and these four women made sure it was possible by fighting to the best of their abilities and by utilizing their strengths.

A word of caution, however. These Sour Grape Girls who can't stop attacking Sarah and can't stop shunning Cynthia and Rosa? Their actions are making it so much harder for that day to come. Don't be afraid to call the attackers out. Their behavior is not about feminism and their actions are shameful.

There are always hold outs like that, women who insist that a woman's not qualified or that she's harmful or blah, blah, blah. They're just smacking their tired gums. 2008, the year The Vagina Strikes Back! As Rickie Lee Jones once sang, "Oh, it's never going to be the same."


Nod to Jim and Dona who were free associating for titles and helped us come up with this one.
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