Archive for the 'Politics' Category

The Shattered Image, A Personal Journey

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

I was an environmentalist from an early age, before the term had even come into use. I had always loved nature and been especially sensitive to nature’s beauty. In fact, I felt most at home, most safe and secure, out in the countryside or hiking in the woods. When I was eleven or twelve, I would take the family dogs for long walks alone in Alsop Park – a nature preserve behind our apartment house right in the middle of Little Rock – and I was never afraid. I think growing up in the south and being raised by a father who claimed the woods as his church had something to do with it. Even if one grows up in the suburban south, as I did, the wilderness was never far away – was always accessible for country drives and afternoon walks. My childhood dream after seeing Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger in “King Solomon’s Mines” was to go on an African safari. I longed to experience nature at its wildest. That was far more appealing to me than a Roman Holiday.

Many years later, I was able to realize the dream of going to a rainforest, but it was not on the continent of Africa, but in Central America – in the Quaker community of Monteverde, Costa Rica. In August, 1972, I finished a graduate degree in English one week and left for Costa Rica to get married the next. It was quite a jolt, going from the Barsetshire of Anthony Trollope’s novels, which had been the subject of my thesis, to the world of Joseph Conrad’s “Nostromo.” Like most North Americans of that era, I knew something about Europe, but almost nothing about Central or South America. I had never even heard of Costa Rica. So, when I boarded LACSA, the national airline of Costa Rica, I felt like I was stepping off into the void. I had no idea what an impact this tiny beautiful country was going to have on my life. I was going to Costa Rica to join my husband to be; I was focused on my marriage, not the locale. (more…)

Shattering the Image, Part II

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

This website focuses on the negative role Christian values, derived from the image of God, currently play in determining, not only the fate of western civilization, but, as the result of a western-dominated globalization, the fate of the whole world. I have felt compelled to write these essays because, not to be overly dramatic, I truly believe that the future of the human species is at risk. And it is at risk because our system of values has become totally corrupt – to be Biblical, it’s become as a “whited sepulchre.”

From CDS’s to WMD’s, nothing is as it seems, and it seems to matter very much what “the meaning of is” is. Our literal financial bankruptcy is a metaphor for our moral bankruptcy. No matter what venue one might be talking about, value given does not result in value received, but in value lost. We value that which no longer has any value and devalue that which is valuable. We do those things we ought not do and do not do those things we ought to do, to paraphrase the book of common prayer, and there is no health in us.

But just because I am out to expose the problems inherent in the image of the Christian God, it is not my purpose to deny the value of religion altogether. (more…)

Hockey Moms, Soccer Moms (WTF)

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

My son played soccer. At age 32, he still does. He was very good. Was team captain and MVP in both high school and college – in spite of tearing his ACL on both knees. Although no sports fan, I used to attend his games. (His younger brother was a runner, but I haven’t yet heard women being disparaged as “track moms.”) Anyway, back to my older son. Since he was my son; I wanted to show him my support and my interest. I spent many a Saturday hanging out at the soccer field complex in Huntsville, Alabama. I guess that made me a “soccer mom.” His dad showed up too, but I hear very little about “soccer dads.” So, because I cared about my child and devoted Saturdays to his soccer games, that makes me some sort of creature to be derided and condescended to and patronized. And that’s just the “soccer” part. The mom is even worse.

To be called a “Mom” (except by one’s children) is the greatest putdown our society can dish out. As is well known, especially among liberal pundits and intellectuals, from the moment that seed is planted in her womb and that little embryo starts to grow, female mental capacities simultaneously begin to diminish. At the end of nine months, with the birth of the baby, the infantilization of the Mom is complete. And as her child grows and matures both mentally and physically, Mom’s brain atrophies and turns to mush – so that by the time her child reaches adulthood, Mom has turned into that most worthless of creatures – an ageing female whose body is a mere husk and whose mind is non-existent – and who is strangely unresponsive to Barack Obama.

Sarah Palin, self-described hockey mom, rehabilitates the image of a human female who has committed the cultural sin of caring enough about her children to attend their games. She juxtaposes the image of Mom with the image of Governor and the image of a candidate for Vice President of the United States. This may not be enough to persuade me to vote for her, but it is enough for me to cheer her on.


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 –

(more…)

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.


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…)

Human/Nature

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Nature is essentially and unapologetically pro-life. It “wants” life to live. From dandelion beings to human beings, Nature equips all its creatures with the tools they need to survive. These tools consist of biological drives, such as hunger and thirst, plus the means to satisfy these drives. In non-human animals the means to satisfy these needs comes in the form of a full set of survival behaviors — installed. Humans, on the other hand, come with a full set of needs, but must look to culture to provide strategies to satisfy these needs. In other words, human needs are biologically determined; but how we satisfy them must be culturally constructed. In order to survive, human nature is biologically determined to construct and be constructed by culture. It is this single characteristic which distinguishes the human animal from the non-human animal.

(more…)

The Abortion Debate

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

When I had my first child one week before turning 35, it was the happiest day of my life. Only to be matched by the birth of my second child two and one-half years later. I was supremely lucky in my experience of motherhood; I was physically, psychologically, emotionally, and financially ready and able to care for my children and I got two of the greatest kids anyone could ever want. I was relaxed and happy and in a marriage which was relatively stable at the time. Which meant that I had the time and energy to enjoy my children. And enjoy them I did.

But I don’t want to think about — much less to go into — what I went through to avoid pregnancy all those years leading up to those happy days. I came of age pre-pill and pre-Roe, and for a middle class girl of my generation to get pregnant was the shame and tragedy of a lifetime – and provided the plot for many potboilers. Of course, the tragedy both fictional and real usually revolved around the damage done to the career prospects of the accidental young father; the girl –“damaged goods”– was usually tossed aside on the trash heap of life. In fiction , it seemed a fitting fate that the fallen woman conveniently die in childbirth — or as a result of a “back alley, coat-hanger abortion.” In real life, it was off to the Florence Crittenden Home with the hopes that friends and family would buy the “six-month visit to Aunt Kate’s” story.

Let’s just say it’s a miracle that I wasn’t permanently psychologically scarred by the fear and loathing my family instilled in me at the very prospect of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Or permanently scarred physically by my contraception of choice. For, like hundreds of thousands of clueless women, I risked permanent sterility when I opted for the Dalkon Shield to delay pregnancy. Of course, who knew back then what damage those little plastic thingies with the sharp points were doing inside a woman’s uterus? And, who really cared? All I knew was that I bled like a stuck pig every month – so much so that I couldn’t leave the house — and when it came time to think about getting pregnant, well, the Dalkon shield had done its damnedest to make me sterile. But finally the babies came – and how I have loved being a mother.

This is the experience of motherhood I would wish for all women who want to have children. But it is increasingly rare. For a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, we live in the only mammalian society I know anything about which deliberately sabotages the whole process of motherhood. (more…)

Liberals and Conservatives, In Brief

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

Over the past 50 years, powerful new medical, agricultural, industrial, and weapons technologies have literally changed our world. Over the past 50 years, science has given us new understandings of who and where we are as human beings on this planet in this space and at this time. These new technologies and new perspectives have altered our understandings of our relative position and importance in the universe and affect how we relate to each other and other species. They have changed the environments – whether social and physical or religious and philosophical — in which we must survive.

Those of us in the liberal camp acknowledge the change in our world and are striving to adapt to this change by developing new ways of relating to each other at a personal, national, international – and species — level. We know that we are entering liminal space which is always scary and where mistakes will be made. But the reality is that the changes in our social and physical and intellectual environments mean that we have no choice but to go forward, carving out a new worldview as we go along.

Conservatives on the other hand are in denial that anything has changed – including the climate. They want to stick to the tried and true. They want to live in a well-ordered society where America is as innocent as the dawn, God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world. They want to believe that we live in a world where Daddy’s at work, Mom’s at home looking after the kids, and corporations are run by honest, simple, straight-talking CEO’s and managers. They want to live in a world where women make babies and men make the rules, for this is the world they know and understand and can manipulate to their advantage.

(more…)

Terminal Priapism

Sunday, September 10th, 2006

Forget avian flu. We have a more immediate problem. The United States is experiencing an epidemic of priapism — both literally and figuratively. First and most importantly, we have a president whose hardness (compassionate claims to the contrary) is and has been demonstrated in his zealous execution of prisoners in Texas, in his enthusiasm to send his own countrymen and women to death in Iraq, in his careless killing of thousands of Iraqi innocents, and in his grotesque policies which have lead to the abuse of hundreds of innocent political prisoners. This murderous hardness of heart — or resolve, as it is euphemistically called — is putative evidence of the hardness of another organ whose ability to stand at attention is proof positive of strength and masculinity — qualities the president is at great pains to manifest in his physical stance and his rhetoric, most famously in the genital- hugging flight suit he so proudly wore when announcing the end of the war.

(more…)

Two Wrongheaded Cultural Assumptions

Friday, February 24th, 2006

If the behavior of Western Man is a threat to our survival, as I believe it is, then we need to change it. But, in order to change it, we first need to inquire into why we do the things we do. This inquiry, however, is complicated by two cultural assumptions which operate against both inquiry and change and which need to be dealt with before going any further:

(1) We assume that we “Westerners” are free, rational and objective individuals who choose our behaviors based on “what makes the most sense” — and we believe that “what makes sense” is a rational and objective determination.

(2) At the same time, oddly enough, we assume that much of our behavior is hard-wired because it is necessary to our survival, and therefore cannot and should not be changed: For example, capitalism is frequently explained as an expression of our innate greed — which is viewed as a survival instinct; militarism is explained on the basis that human aggression is a given and must be defended against. Therefore, it is argued by conservatives, it would be unrealistic, impractical, and “against human nature” to work toward a more economically equitable and non-militaristic society.
(more…)

Symbols and Survival

Friday, February 24th, 2006

Whether or not you believe you believe in Him, if you are a member of Western culture, you believe in God-the-Father’s “survival stragegies.” Western survival strategies understand the male way of survival — dominance — as the key to and model for the survival of Western society. Western society believes that its survival depends upon its ability to dominate all others in the world through achieving and maintaining superior power — whether it be political, military, economic, technological, informational, etc.. God-the-Father as symbol connects to and fleshes out, in a culturally-specific way, the biological archetype for human maleness, making all men gods and God the quintessential Male. God the symbol is therefore powered by all the deeply felt drives and emotions experienced by and associated with the biological human male as he exists in Western society.
(more…)

Letter on Gay Marriage

Friday, April 8th, 2005

Dear Frances,

Good article. I agree with the pope that gay marriage causes irreparable damage to society and injures the very fabric of society. I disagree with the pope that this is a bad thing. Patriarchal (Christian) social values need to be damaged — if not completely overturned. Patriarchal Christian values are founded on the patriarachal family with god the father on top, mom next and the kids underneath. The patriarchal family begins the programming process that makes us believe that it is natural for men to be in charge and women to be under them. It is the foundation of a hierarchical social structure which concentrates power in a CEO, President, General, etc., overvalues them and devalues everyone underneath.
(more…)

Getting Over God

Monday, November 10th, 2003

I no longer believe in God. But before you automatically write me off as a nihilistic atheist, let me explain. When I say I no longer believe in God, I do not mean that I do not believe in a first cause or a principle of ultimate reality or that I think for a minute that what we understand as material reality today is all there is to know. What I do mean is that I no longer believe in that personage called God which we have come to know through the Hebrew and Christian Bibles and the Koran and who, as Jack Miles clearly demonstrated in his Biography of God, is really a very unsavory character. I do not confuse this cruel tyrant with ultimate reality, dear reader, nor should you. As to ultimate reality, I confess I know nothing — except I know it isn’t God.
(more…)