(click image for more from the Washington Post)
What Campbell Brown said.
Once again, PETA makes me want to call up Beck and say ‘hey, fuck MTV–HERE’S some real freebase inspiration for ya!”
This morning PETA sent a letter to Ben and Jerry’s asking them to replace cow’s milk with human breast milk. PETA argues that breast milk is better for the health of Ben and Jerry’s customers, but they don’t take into consideration that mothers may prefer to reserve their milk for their infants.
Look, I realize this is but a modest proposal on PETA’s part. But even Jon Swift (no, not that one) would be hard-pressed to avoid doing some serious armchair psychoanalysis of whichever fluff-drunk puppy-worshipper came up with this latest epic misogynistic FAIL.
Animal liberation theory does intersect with feminist theory, and our cultural understanding of animals and food (and animals as food, and women-as-meat) is heavily gendered. But PETA is promoting animal rights at the expense of women’s rights — and that’s not only simplistic, but it’s bad for everyone involved.
I can’t help but be, oh, a little bit skeptical of Republicans’ sudden interest in the glass ceiling. After all, this is the party that threw women like Lilly Ledbetter under the bus, in favor of businesses that practice wage discrimination. The party that stymied the Equal Rights Amendment. The party that not only wants to force women here and abroad to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, but also wants to deny them access to a range of contraception options.
It’s clear that Republicans believe that what made Hillary Clinton such a good candidate was her gender, not her political experience or positions on the issues. And McCain’s decision to pick Palin shows he took this message to heart and chose to add her to the ticket primarily because of her gender. In so doing, McCain has turned the idea of the first woman in the White House from a true moment of change to an empty pander.
Why is this a pander? Because Palin is not a woman who has a record of representing women’s interests. She is beloved by extremely right-wing conservatives for her anti-choice record (fittingly, she’s a member of the faux-feminist anti-choice group Feminists for Life). Palin supports federal anti-gay marriage legislation. She believes schools should teach creationism. Alaska is currently considering spending more on abstinence-only sex education. And when it comes to a slew of other issues of importance to women, such as equal pay, she’s not on the record.
Of course, I’m of the belief that more women in politics — across the ideological spectrum — is always a good thing. On a superficial level, nominating a woman to the Republican presidential ticket is indeed a milestone. But the real reason many women were excited about Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is that she was the whole package — a politician with a solid record on issues like choice and fair pay, and with a lot of experience, who was also a woman. Even feminists I disagreed with during the primary made the compelling point that it wasn’t just about Hillary’s gender. It was about her record, too.
– Ann Friedman, McCain’s Sexist VP Choice
It looks as if the concerns that some people have about Mrs. Obama tell us less about her and more about them. Once again, we seem to have an abundance of paranoid white folks who see a black separatist lurking around every corner.
Even in elite corners. How did a corporate lawyer with degrees from Princeton and Harvard and a record of bringing together whites and blacks in her position as a hospital administrator get transformed, in the minds of some, into a black militant with a chip on her shoulder and a score to settle with white America?
What did the 44-year-old mother of two girls do to deserve the accusation, or at least the insinuation, that she’s anti-white? In the words of one of her friends and classmates at Harvard Law School, what she did was shatter the assumptions of many people about “what it means to be an African-American woman.” Here you have an accomplished, intelligent and outspoken black woman, and many Americans are at a loss about how to handle that combination. They’d rather try to destroy her than have to deal with her.
– Ruben Navarette, Michelle Obama’s Bad Rap
Related: Rupert Cornwall does his goddamndest to wrest the WOTD title from Justin Gimelstob with this straight-to-the-bottom-of-the-birdcage column from today’s Independent on how Michelle Obama is oh-so “prickly and resentful.” Well, I’m pretty sure she resents bogus racist/sexist ‘analysis’ from asshat pundits like Cornwall. Kate Harding and Michelle Obama Watch (h/t) have more on Cornwall’s crass idiocy.
Also see this Comment is free post from MOW founder Gina McCauley on the inevitable Stepford rebranding of Michelle Obama.
This is definitely not the way for Obama to broaden his appeal with female voters:
Obama has subsequently apologized to WXYZ reporter Peggy Agar, but his explanation mainly serves to dig himself further into a hole:
“Hi Peggy. This is Barack Obama. I’m calling to apologize on two fronts. One was you didn’t get your question answered and I apologize. I thought that we had set up interviews with all the local stations. I guess we got it with your station but you weren’t the reporter that got the interview. And so, I broke my word. I apologize for that and I will make up for it.
“Second apology is for using the word ‘sweetie.’ That’s a bad habit of mine. I do it sometimes with all kinds of people [yes, he certainly does – mb]. I mean no disrespect and so I am duly chastened on that front.”
No, dig up, stupid!
Jesus tapdancing Christ. You wanna know how to better help make the case that you deserve the support of women? Step 1: DON’T BE A SEXIST ASSHAT.
Look, intent is irrelevant–habitually using reductive terms like “sweetie’ is both disrespectful and indicative that Obama may have a bigger problem with women than simply not getting their votes, regardless of whether his actions are conscious or otherwise. Not to say that this sort of thing is unique (gee, a man says something misogynistic and dismissive to a woman–film at 11!), nor is it definitive proof that Obama actively perpetuates misogyny (does anyone seriously think that Geraldine Ferraro burns crosses in her free time?) But a good ally is duty bound to call out the people on his or her team when someone fucks up (to be clear: my team is the ‘not John McSame’ team).
I’m very glad that Obama did apologize; however, I hope he takes the opportunity to reflect on exactly why he’s still having a tough go at making inroads with women.
So good it almost makes up for my (former) main man, Mike, selling his soul to the Libertarian Party.
(Oh, and as for the unfortunate “SexyPolitics.com” shout out at the end: what was that about gender discrimination in politics? Yeah, well, exactly. Sigh.)
Former San Jose Vice Mayor Cindy Chavez discusses her experiences with gender discrimination in politics.
Via Feminist Peace Network, The Nation recently published a blistering speech from former UN AIDS envoy (and current co-director of AIDS-Free World) Stephen Lewis that highlights the lackluster, indifferent international response to endemic rape and sexual violence against women in the Congo.
I want to set out an argument that essentially says that what’s happening in the Congo is an act of criminal international misogyny, sustained by the indifference of nation states and by the delinquency of the United Nations.
The sordid saga ebbs and flows. But it was brought back into sudden, vivid public notoriety by Eve Ensler’s trip to the Congo in July and August of last year, her visit to the Panzi Hospital, her interviews with the women survivors of rape, and her visceral piece of writing in Glamour magazine which began with the words “I have just returned from Hell.”
Eve set off an extraordinary chain reaction: her visit was followed by a fact-finding mission by the current UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs who, upon his return, wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times in which he said that the Congo was the worst place in the world for women. Those views were then echoed everywhere (including by the EU Parliament), triggering front page stories in the New York Times, the Washington Postand the Los Angeles Times, and a lengthy segment on 60 Minutes by Anderson Cooper of CNN.
Largely as a result of this growing clamor against the war on women in the Congo, and the fact that Eve Ensler herself testified before the Security Council, the United Nations resolution that renewed the mandate for the UN Peacekeeping force in the Congo (MONUC, as it’s called) contained some of the strongest language condemning rape and sexual violence ever to appear in a Security Council resolution, and obliged MONUC, in no uncertain terms, to protect the women of the Congo. The resolution was passed at the end of December last year.
In January of this year, scarce one month later, there was an “Act of Engagement”–a so-called peace commitment signed amongst the warring parties. I use “so-called” advisedly because evidence of peace is hard to find. But that’s not the point: the point is much more revelatory and much more damning.
The peace commitment is a fairly lengthy document. Unbelievably, from beginning to end, the word “rape” never appears. Unbelievably, from beginning to end, the phrase “sexual violence” never appears. Unbelievably, “women” are mentioned but once, lumped in with children, the elderly and the disabled. It’s as if the organizers of the peace conference had never heard of the Security Council resolution.
But it gets worse. The peace document actually grants amnesty–I repeat, amnesty–to those who have participated in the fighting. To be sure, it makes a deliberate legal distinction, stating that war crimes or crimes against humanity will not be excused. But who’s kidding whom? This arcane legal dancing on the head of a pin is not likely to weigh heavily on the troops in the field, who have now been given every reason to believe that since the rapes they committed up to now have been officially forgiven and forgotten, they can rape with impunity again. And indeed, as Dr. Mukwege testified before Congress just last week, the raping and sexual violence continues.
The war may stutter; the raping is unabated.
But the most absurd dimension of this whole discreditable process is the fact that the peace talks were “facilitated”–they were effectively orchestrated–by MONUC, that is to say, by the United Nations. And perhaps most unconscionable of all, despite the existence for seven years of another Security Council resolution 1325, calling for women to be active participants in all peace deliberations, there was no one at that peace table directly representing the women, the more than 200,000 women, whose lives and anatomies were torn to shreds by the very war that the peace talks were meant to resolve.
Thus does the United Nations violate its own principles.
But, as FPN rightly notes,
While voices like Lewis’ are most welcome, the reality is male-dominated governments and organizations they run are not going to stop this misogynistic carnage, it is the women that must speak out and take action.
Related: More from elle, Liss and Pizza Diavola, all of whom link to a number of other excellent posts that provide further information on the situation in the DRC, including this powerful and inspiring offering from SheCodes. Also see Sokari @ Black Looks (h/t Anxious Black Woman, who has also compiled a wide variety of must-click links on the subject), who notes the irony of Eve Ensler’s “visceral piece of writing” having been published in an inherently misogynistic venue like Glamour Magazine. Sokari also decries the vain hypocrisy of humanitarian ventures that “literally feed on the suffering of others, assigning guilt to victims whilst managing to remove their white selves, their corporate money and power from any responsibility in that suffering.”
Sweet weepin’ Jeebus…