Monday, December 17, 2007

Wise words from Jordan

I came across an old editorial from the Jordan Times today discussing the mystery of women not supporting women in elections. Why, when women are half the population or more almost everywhere and (often the more civic-ly engaged half) do we need a quota? Walid Sadi says it is because Jordanian society places men on a pedestal, so that even women think they are more qualified than their female competitors.

It's pretty interesting to see a man coming out and suggesting that a woman become PM in order to raise the self-esteem of the country's females. I have struggled mightily to come up with an argument for women to vote for women that doesn't sound "feminist" or beat what I am tempted to call the sisterhood drum - like our most prominent female politician of the moment, I believe that insider play is where you really make your gains - and it thus far eludes me. I believe that women should stick together, and act in their own collective interest, but it's a big leap to say that electing women is in women's collective interest - is it in women's best interest to have a woman representing them who doesn't do an incredible job? It seems likely that a woman who did a bad job would be skewered more harshly than a man - imagine if Laura had been president instead of George. I'm curious how the female members of Congress measure up in performance compared to the men, and how this translates into criticism. Does Nancy Pelosi draw more fire than Harry Reid, or less? Where?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Shame in Bali

You have to be a little sad for President Bush - it can't be nice to have the guy you beat for President tell a gathering of world leaders that pretty soon you will be out of office and have them all applaud.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Women = Family

So a Greek news agency (which I have never heard of, but is apparently reliable) reported last week that Iranian state TV now requires that the word 'woman' be replaced with 'family'. How does that work, exactly? "Families in Iran complain that they are required to wear the chador"? "Iranian families attending university with men complain about unequal treatment"? It's really kind of funny.

If it only were a joke. As someone who has spent a fair amount of time in the Middle East, I feel pretty comfortable saying that the veil has various significations for different people and maintaining my feminist bent. However, this piece of the veiling ethic, the idea that women need to be shielded from society because of their dangerous charms, does not sit well with me. I maintain no illusions that this idea is confined to Middle Eastern societies, either, which makes it even more depressing.

I did not particularly enjoy the movie Little Women (the Winona Ryder version - in case there was another one) but there was one part that I remember very vividly. Jo is sitting with a posse of men talking about suffrage and they are sharing their thoughts. She interrupts them and sort of demurely says "Women should have the right to vote, not because we are angels and men are animals, but because we are human beings and citizens of this country," and the conversation stops and they all look at her like she's fallen from the sky. As if it had never occurred to them that women were the same as they were. Astounding.

I haven't been able to figure out if that idea is an export (or an import, for that matter) of Christianity. (I am reading the Bible now looking for clues). To the best of my knowledge the Islamic sexism is a bit different - it's not that women are so incapable, necessarily; it is that they are so sexual. The very mention of a woman on television inspires men to impure thoughts, which presumably ruins everything. If a woman is so sexual, is she necessarily too weak to reason, as Jo's incredulous audience seems to think? Do those two branches of sexism grow from the same tree? Or do we have to cut down a whole misogynistic forest?

Mike Huckabee

First was the denial of Medicaid reimbursement to a fifteen year old who was raped by her stepfather. Then it was advocating quarantine for people with AIDS.

What does it take to know that a person is not fit to be president? Does he have to actually commit a hate crime?

It's really sort of sad to think that ignorance has become an asset in a campaign - what must the Democrats be doing to make Mike Huckabee look like a great potential leader? I heard a talk recently on the state of the Democratic party, and the consensus seemed to be that Democrats haven't been the same since they championed the Civil Rights movement. I hope that's wrong - it would be pretty depressing, not to mention unkind to most American voters. It would be nice to think that most Americans are not racist. Of course, the argument was more complex than that - "Republicans are the racist party" could take up an hour and a half, but I couldn't have sat through it - but it is interesting that taking a stand on an issue like civil rights could have consequences for 50 years and longer. What is more perplexing is how Christianity could end up as the opposite to civil rights ... which I don't think anyone claiming to be Christian or Republican or both would get behind.

Something to chew on.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hillary for president

I know that many women in my demographic (middle/upper class, college educated) do not like Hillary Clinton. This does not surprise me at all. Many women in my demographic do not like themselves. They find themselves unfeminine, unattractive, and insufficient. They lament their own inability to find a man or woman*. And, in advance of finding their partner* they lament their own inability to both excel in their career and have a family. Hillary has done both. She is the first viable female presidential candidate (sorry, Carol Mosley Braun) and she has an intact marriage and a child. Yeah, her life isn't perfect. To anyone who attempts to skewer her for staying with Bill: I challenge you to have the personal strength to keep your marriage together at great personal cost to yourself, as Hillary has.

So, succinctly, it seems fitting that women would dislike Hillary - they have to get in line with the patriarchy and cut one another down. If women united as a group, then we would certainly have a lot more influence than we do now - in a time when I would venture to guess that most women try to distance themselves as much as possible from the term 'feminist'. More on this to follow, for sure, but for now suffice it to say that I am not in that camp - I proudly wear the f-word label.

*anyone remember the scene in Mrs. Doubtfire when Robin Williams is at dinner with a business partner, said partner says, "does your girlfriend have a girlfriend?" and RW says "hey, it's the nineties?"
* interesting post at feministe this week about using the word 'partner' - check it out.

At least it's not crack

i was inspired to start this blog by a good friend who described her blog thus:

"it's an outlet - better than doing coke i say."

it's not easy to refute such logic, so, rather than turn to coke i have started this blog in the typical small-girl-big-city line of thinking - namely, if there are x number of people using the internet, then at least a couple of them are bound to agree with me about some things, if not all. (i have the sometimes uncharming tendency to think i am always right).

i guess blogs are supposed to have a theme, other than the blogger him or herself, and rather than say there is no theme i am calling the theme inchoate.