Archive for the 'Hillary Clinton' Category

Are Women Human? Do We Want To Be?

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

This essay is written from the radical or ecofeminist point of view.

As has been pointed out since feminism stepped forth onto the cultural stage, Western civilization is fundamentally patriarchal. A patriarchal society is founded on the idea that the male of the species represents the standard –the ideal–for what it means to be human. Women, being by definition different from men, have been considered to be substandard, as any difference from the standard implies inferiority. Women have therefore been constructed — both physically and mentally– as inferior to male humans, their brains and their bodies, like the brains and bodies of other female mammals, understood as serving one purpose only – reproduction. Women have been viewed as less well developed, less evolved, than men, with the logical consequence that to be a woman in Western civilization has been to be something less than fully human.

This outdated cultural assumption has been lodged so deeply in the collective unconscious of western civilization, that most of us don’t even know that it is still there until a political campaign like the one we are currently experiencing comes along, where both parties have put forth candidates for high office who are not male – unleashing a shocking level of sexism in a society which thought it had said “goodbye to all that.” It is to be hoped that the psychological meltdown exhibited specifically in the liberal visceral rage which has met the candidacies of both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin will bring to consciousness the original sin of misogyny on which our culture is based. We really need to move on.

The “Western” definition of what it means to be human originated approximately 2500-3000 years ago. It arose from a weaving together of ideas from Greek philosophy and Hebrew religion. According to the Hebraic/Hellenic narrative, Man is possessed of free will and the reason to exercise it. Man’s transcendent reason frees him from the biological constraints of lesser creatures. Man identifies with mind – rather than the lowly physical body. Where non-human animals depend on “instinct” for survival and are ruled by these instincts, Man’s key to survival is his reason, which lifts him out of nature’s prison and puts him in control of himself and his environment. For Man, alone, biology is not destiny. Nobly exercising his free will, Man can chart his own course, determine his own fate. As Shakespeare put it (with some irony) –

What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how
infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals…

Admittedly, this is an attractive and seductive cultural construct – even godlike (In fact, one might say that the JudeoChristian idea of God is a symbolic projection of this ideal). It has served Western humanity (especially the white male part of it) well, providing us with the collective self-esteem to go forth and conquer the world – and the earth — militarily, economically, culturally, and technologically. But, today, the world and the earth are fighting back. This cultural construct is “out of joint,” causing a world of pain and demonstrating that it has outlived its usefulness. And, it is precisely this overrated, inaccurate, and inflated definition of male humanity which has made life in patriarchy so difficult for women – especially women in their reproductive capacity. And this is why –

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Katha Pollitt on PUMAs

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Today, Katha Pollitt was on C-SPAN’s Book TV, and a caller asked her why she and other MSM types responded to popular/populist movements they didn’t agree with by putting them down as somehow not legitimate (a paraphrase).  Although the caller (a man) did not mention PUMA, Pollitt responded by saying that it was a fact that movements like PUMA were not what they appeared to be, that PUMA was a Republican-sponsored movement and she cited the blog “Pandagon” as her source for that information.

It is a shame that Pollitt can go on Book TV and say things which many will believe because of who she is; after all Book TV was devoting a whole afternoon to her.  Why is it so hard for people like Pollitt to believe that real men and women who really are/were Democrats and are supporters of Hillary Clinton are so outraged that they might refuse to vote for Obama — and that refusing to vote for Obama has nothing to do with any Republican agenda?


“Monster”: A Case of Misdirected Outrage

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

When Samantha Power called Hillary Clinton a monster, it was a very embarrassing Freudian slip — revealing the deeply rooted anti-woman emotions which were fueling the Obama campaign. Power’s terminology was frequently echoed in the media – Dowd, Ruden, to name a few — although it is patently clear that Hillary Clinton is not a monster.  She is merely a smart, accomplished, and successful woman.  It was as if all the anger and hatred people had for George Bush was redirected at Clinton. Strange. After all, Bush really is a monster, having been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands as well as the imprisonment and torture of innocents. But although Bush has low approval ratings, there doesn’t seem to be any real outrage directed at him, e.g., no one is calling him a monster.  Crowds are not demonstrating in the streets demanding his impeachment.  In fact, Dennis Kucinich’s repeated calls for impeachment are ridiculed and find no support among his fellow representatives.  Is it because something in our patriarchal culture restrains us from going after the patriarch in chief, so long as his sins are “patriarchal” sins – sins having to do with an excess of patriarchal action? Who knows?  At any rate, it appears that Obama and the media just cleverly tapped into and redirected the outrage to Clinton. But why was it so easy to redirect the rage to Clinton? Was it because to be a smart, strong, ambitious woman in America is in and of itself to be a monstrous freak of nature? If so, what does that say about America?  Instead of joining in the pile-on, a la Maureen Dowd and Samantha Power, all women need to wake up and take notice of the sexist atrocities committed by the media — and by default the Obama campaign and the DNC — during the 2008 primary.  With all this anti-woman emotion stirred up, you could be next.


Puerile Nation

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Many other countries have elected female heads of state. Did these women have to endure the puerile sexist ridicule which was directed at HRC? I would guess not. It makes me wonder what’s wrong with our culture — why it collectively behaves like an adolescent male. Are we suffering from a case of arrested development.


Reflections on the 2008 Democratic Primary

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

You’ve heard it/read it everywhere.  How at first,  we all felt so proud of the outstanding lineup of Democratic Candidates.  They were all so good that I couldn’t make up my mind which one to vote for – even when the field narrowed to two.  Having donated to Obama’s campaign,  I felt more and more drawn to Hillary.  On the way to vote in my state’s (Georgia) primary,  I still didn’t hadn’t decided.  And then, the moment was upon me and I touched the screen for Hillary and almost burst into tears at the significance of being able to vote for a woman to be a candidate for president.  And a woman who seemed to understand and take seriously women’s issues – from childcare to healthcare to eldercare.

At that time I didn’t “get” Obamamania.  I thought Obama was OK.  No big deal.  He seemed like a nice enough guy, well meaning and smart. But as the campaign progressed, I began to actively  dislike him.  My cognitive dissonance meter began to go off almost every time I heard him speak.  I didn’t like his smug, pompous delivery of empty slogans of hope and change.  I was unimpressed by his debate performances and his weak grasp of the issues.  I didn’t like the fact that Obama, who was claiming to run a different sort of campaign, was doing nothing/saying nothing to condemn the relentless media barrage of Hillaryhate.  I didn’t like his fake “son of a single-mom on foodstamps” narrative.  I didn’t like the fact that he wrote a book about his father who had abandoned him shortly after birth, but said little about the mother and grandparents who had raised him – except to misrepresent them. But,  I soon learned it was best to keep these feelings to myself if I wanted to keep my friends – who would brook no criticism of Obama – and who acted as if there were an unpleasant odor in the room if a kind word was said for Hillary.

One day, I tried to explain my doubts about Obama to a longtime friend,  I tried to tell her how deeply injured I felt by his sins of omission in the sexism department, only to be told that supporting Obama was a “sacred cause,” – that if I couldn’t respond to his rhetoric I clearly had no aesthetic sense, and furthermore she was shocked and surprised at my support of Clinton,  her opinion of me had “lowered.”  She hung up.  Just like that.  A 30 year friendship had ended.  Just because I dared support Hillary Clinton.  Just because I wanted to explain my support.  It’s enough to make one doubt one’s perception of reality.  But,  I know it’s not my perception that’s flawed.  And I know those of us who supported Hillary did not treat the Obama supporters this way.  Which is a commentary on the Obama campaign all by itself.

Now that the campaign has ended, I look back on the last few months and wonder what on earth got into these Obama supporters.  And I think a couple of things were going on.  For one thing,  Obama with his vague  rhetoric about hope and change was more or less like a blank screen that people could project their hopes and dreams on.  Secondly, the media loved him  (remember, this is the same irresponsible media that brought you George Bush and the Iraq War): he was elegant,  he was graceful, he wore his suits well,  he was handsome, he was smart, and he had such a romantic – “only in America” — narrative – black candidate for president, son of single mom on foodstamps – only she wasn’t.  And, there was that great picture in the NYT with his Kenyan grandma – only she wasn’t. And he was very lucky in his opponent – as he has been in past campaigns.   He recognized and was able to leverage  the vast reservoir of misogyny out here in America in his favor.  In addition,  all the disappointment and animosity which should have been reserved for George Bush, which should have been motivating a vote in Congress for Bush’s impeachment, was redirected at Hillary Clinton, who to hear the Obama supporters tell it, was singlehandedly responsible for the war – and every other problem the country is having.  And to top it all off, just as Bush supporters had swiftboated the true war hero Kerry, the Obama campaign used race baiting to damn one of the best friends civil rights ever had.  The Obama campaign: A tour de force, a virtuoso performance,  and a  real tragedy for the American  people who in 2008 are left with two really bad candidates for president.  We had our chance and we blew it.


What Went Wrong?

Friday, June 13th, 2008

In a word, sexism. In spite of the 24/7 tsunami of media sexist hate and trumped up charges of sexism directed at Senator Hillary Clinton and spread far and wide by the Obama campaign; in spite of a media smitten with a schoolboy crush on Senator Obama whose minions wrapped the Senator in cotton wool and laid down their collective cloaks to usher him across the rough spots, Senator Clinton won the popular vote if you count Michigan (and why wouldn’t you?). What would it have been like if the campaign had been waged in a fair media environment? Well, if Clinton did as well as she did in spite of the sexism, then I think we can be sure that without the sexism she would have won by a large margin. So, sexism put Obama over the top. And because he needed the ugly boost, he couldn’t very well condemn it, could he? Unless of course he was running a different kind of campaign.

I had always believed that the fourth estate was a necessary component of democracy; after all they are our representatives at the events which shape our national and economic existence – all those events we cannot attend personally so we could make up our own minds. So we are utterly dependent on them to act responsibly, for our country’s (and our) well being depend on it. But, hold on, this is the media that beat the drums for the Gulf War and invited us all to come along and have a (non-alcoholic) beer with that oh so likable George Bush. This is the media that sneered at the sighing Al Gore and jeered the wind surfing John Kerry. And now they are bringing us our new personal savior Barack Obama! And folks are buying it!!??


Obamanation: Swanning Around in the Sea Called Womanhate

Friday, June 13th, 2008

As many have noted, with the glaring and shameful exceptions of Barack Obama and the DNC, the mainstream media and the blogosphere have been awash in a tidal wave of sexist vitriol directed at Hillary Clinton. As a result, I have had to narrow my viewing choices and internet surfing considerably – especially while dining. No more CNN or MiSogyNyBC. No more Huffington Post. I’ve even had to cancel my subscription to “The Nation.” Everywhere I went it was hate hate hate – all directed at possibly the best leader this country has to offer at a time when we really need her leadership. And there was plenty of hate left over to smear some of her supporters – e.g., us worthless old white women. While the spewing of Hillary Hate was going on, Obama, the presumptive beneficiary and shining one (or perhaps the flash in the pan) never said a word. He, who was going to run a different kind of campaign, had risen so far above it all, I’m sure he never knew it was going on. So, he remained silent and let the good times roll and the votes roll in. (So inspiring! What a leader!) (more…)