Great, But Not Good Enough

22 11 2008

Have you seen the 1980s movie, Wildcats? I just bought a copy from the garage sale that is our local Circuit City and I was watching it tonight. In one scene, Goldie Hawn has to outlast every single guy in a race in order to be good enough. While it is in fact a work of fiction, it elegantly illustrates the unreasonable standard to which women are being held twenty years later. It isn’t enough that we’re as able as any – we are asked to be better than any other.

The sexism in our culture has become subtle, but distinct nevertheless. Instead of facing outright discrimination by being told a woman “cannot” do a job, we hear that she is not qualified “enough”. The ability to perform a job is the single greatest criteria to which any applicant should be judged. It is unfair to ask that a woman not only be able to do the job, but that she needs to do it better than any man who might want it – ever.

The thing is, if employers wait long enough, eventually will they find someone even more qualified to fill a position than the person they were going to hire. On a long enough time line, if the most qualified applicant is a man, eventually a woman will come along who is even more qualified – and vice versa. If an accomplished woman applies for a job, and no other applicant can boast better qualifications, shouldn’t she get the position? The answer is yes, but an employer can simply decide to continue searching – not just for a better applicant, but for a better applicant who is a man. This is the important distinction, which should not be confused for lowering standards or not choosing the most qualified applicant. What we are seeing is that employers are finding women who could do the job well, and better than any man who has applied, but the employer actually wants to wait to find a man. It is this desire to wait for a man rather than hire the adequately qualified woman that is most concerning, and testifies to the still present sexism in our culture. Just ask Hillary Clinton.

Women do not have higher morals than men, we do not have more intelligence than men, and we do not have better ideas than men. What we do have is high standards, intelligence, and good ideas. It is time, right here, right now, to end the fairy tale standards to which women are being held.

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Hillary Clinton: Why She is Uniquely Qualified as Secretary of State

21 11 2008

THANK YOU Jennifer Donahue!

It’s like there is this glossing-over going on, and that somehow HRC is just barely qualified to even be in any elected office, instead of being an international figure and one of the most significant, living or dead, women’s rights leaders.

I know no one likes talking about sexism anymore, because clearly women are allowed to hold the jobs and offices of men, so sexism is over (insert sarcasm here). Though the strategy may take a more subtle tone (“I’ve got nothing against a woman, but She’s not *qualified*” – “Well, she isn’t less qualified…” – “Not good enough!”), it exists in many homes across our nation. Some women are having conversations with their men and discovering they don’t see eye-to-eye afterall. We’ve been resting on our Third Wave laurels, and it’s time to dig in our heels again. Whatever happens with Hillary Rodham Clinton next, the supporters around the world of women’s rights will be watching.
More on Hillary Clinton
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost





Reconciliation without Truth

21 11 2008

“Why not repeat the truth? Barack Obama’s election was a real breakthrough, without precedent–something he did by himself with the help of a million workers who were not working for Hillary Clinton.”

See, now when I read something like that I feel really pissed. The only reason (ok, the biggest reason) a lot of HRC supporters voted for BHO was because she encouraged it. Clinton asked them to support the Dem nominee and vote BHO – and a lot of supporters did. The vast majority, in fact, of former Hillary supporters swung hard right and voted Obama. This was out of loyalty to Clinton, not Democrats in general. Disregarding that voting block and saying, “Hey, we coulda done it without ya!” seems really stupid. If for no other reason, it fortifies that group of voters into looking for another candidate in 2012 and undermining Obama’s efforts in the years to come. And if he hadn’t needed them, he wouldn’t have bothered recruiting Hillary during the campaign.





All Hail, King of America!

5 11 2008

Well, that was fun.

I hope everyone enjoyed the festivities last night, because now it’s time to focus on still-President Bush’s last days in office – his parting gifts, if you will.

From closing Guantanamo Bay to providing birth control pills, from protecting the endangered Gray Wolf to keeping coal plants away from national parks, Bush (read: Cheney) is going to do everything in his still-expanding power to make his last days count. Think of it this way: he has nothing to lose. Reputation? Legacy? Re-Election? After all, he is the tyrant our mothers warned us about, and he’s not burdened with face-saving displays of centerism that are required when running for re-election. He, and his administration, are the hard core, git ‘er done, christian fundamentalist conservatives – and they have plans. Plans that can be executed right up until the last minute as far as they’re concerned. It doesn’t matter if they are popular – there are no more contests left to win. Bush can no longer hurt McCain by being divisive, extreme, and deaf to half the country. He, and his administration, are in the final days of an presidency marked with exclusion, extremism, lawlessness, opacity, fear-mongering, and pridefulness, and they plan on going out with a bang.

There is no tomorrow for the Bush Administration. In fact, arguably they view the incoming Obama presidency as the apocolypse – a slap in the face to their sacrosanct healing of American Liberalism that was infected into our government and society by the Clinton administration, among others.

While the Republican machine has suffered losses, it is by no means deterred. In fact, the few who remain, and who are by definition not up for re-election any time soon, are probably all the more convinced that they are the saviors who will bring the heavenly Bush administration in for a landing.

Let’s not and say we did.

A stitch in time is within our grasp. We can avoid having to undo damage later if we can prevent it from happening now. This is the time to take a deep breath and sprint to the finish line. This is the time to speak your mind, even if your voice shakes. This is the time to speak truth to power. There are people making monumental decisions about our civil liberties, abortion rights, and the environment, and these people have publicly available e-mail addresses.

Don’t forget your newspapers, local or otherwise. One letter can be ignored, but one thousand cannot. In New Jersey we have over 550 towns. If one person from every other town wrote a letter to the Star Ledger, New Jersey’s state wide paper, that would be over 200 letters. No newspaper is going to ignore 200 letters about anything, and a few will even be published.

Start now. Start tiny. Write an e-mail to your member of congress. Write an e-mail to both of your senators. Write e-mails to every elected official that in any way represents you, and send paper mail if you must. It can be as simple as “Hello, my name is, and these are the things that are most important to me this year:”. It doesn’t have to be the great American novel – 50 words or less will do. Go to blogs and furiously comment on every article that you feel passionate about. Practice arguing with people virtually so that when you encounter a face-to-face confrontation about that subject you are better prepared. None of this will help end something like discrimination tomorrow, but it can help end discrimination sooner than if you did nothing. The small and definate actions will outweigh the lofty and imaginary on any scale.  

Don’t let it be the thing you wish you’d done.





“What do Undecided Women Want?”

3 11 2008

Let’s ignore the inherent flaw in the question (that “women” all want the same anything – let alone those who are admittedly torn about something.)

“It was really crushing when Hillary lost…I felt like [Obama] could have spoken out and said okay, enough is enough, stop with the sexist comments, the misogyny, but I didn’t hear that from him, but a lot of us did feel that although we were loyal, lifetime Democrats we could not vote for Barack Obama … It’s just the fact that they told a whole segment of American society to go away, we’ll win the election without you… it was just incredibly insulting to so many women in this country….but again, it’s the policies, and that may be why I eventually wind up voting the Democratic ticket in November, but either way I won’t be very happy with my vote. Either way I vote this year it will be with great reluctance and with a lot of sadness.”

Amen, sista.

I have never been undecided about who I want as president, Obama or McCain. For me it has always been Obama. However, who I want to see as president and who I vote for are not necessarily the same.

As far as I’m concerned, I lost this race back in August. Now it’s just choosing between a royal jackass and a spineless jackass. I mean, Obama sounds good – but he ain’t gonna be THAT good. Others like me promised ourselves that we would not vote for the candidate who gutted Hillary’s campaign. If we were to uphold that promise, that would mean voting third party or voting McCain-Palin. One is a vote for progressive ideas, the other is just a protest vote. I’m not voting McCain-Palin. Then again, HRC did practically beg her supporters to vote for Obama. To ignore that call would be a disservice to HRC.

So, you could call me torn about who I will vote for, but I am not torn one bit about who I would rather see as POTUS. And I get that my candidate lost – I do – but that loss and how it came about is exactly what drives this ambivalence. Obviously Obama is closer to Clinton on policy issues. Obviously Palin being anywhere near that much power is a feminist nightmare. It isn’t about who would be the better President – that’s no contest. But if there are no consequences, microscopic as my vote is, for treating an experienced, intelligent, articulate, progressive woman candidate like dirt, then what’s the friggin point?

And it isn’t about calculating either – I understand that every vote counts, and that there is no guarantee that Obama can win without my vote. By the same token, I refuse to take responsibility for 99,999,999 other people’s votes. It is my decision, as their votes are theirs.

I’ll be happy to see a non-white male become POTUS, but don’t pretend like this vote is easy for former Hillary supporters and loyalists. Respect that passion, as I respect Obama supporter passion.





The Beginning of Hope or the End of It

31 10 2008

“Right now, in America, we are living in the center of a potential paradigm shift. A definite, burgeoning movement. A time of Hope. With the upcoming elections, we could redefine America’s standing in the world by enacting foreign policy that is based on the universal understanding that we are all interconnected. That the rape of an eight-year-old-girl in Congo is akin to the rape of an eight-year-old girl in Chicago or Phoenix. We use the words and slogans “Never again” and “Not on our watch”, but right now thousands are being displaced, raped, murdered in Eastern DRC.”

There are policies that Barack Obama and I do not see eye to eye on. I have serious reservations about a few of his decisions, and I continue to hold a political torch for Hillary Clinton.

However.

I believe that Barack Obama will do more for the people of Congo than John McCain will.

I believe that Barack Obama will do more for women’s rights in the U.S. than John McCain will.

I believe that an administration under Barack Obama will listen to issues of the poorest American people more than under John McCain.

I believe that Barack Obama will show more diplomacy, both at home and abroad, than John McCain.

I believe that Barack Obama will support scientific research more than John McCain.

I believe that Barack Obama will inspire other leaders better than John McCain.

For all these reasons, I believe that Barack Obama will make a better U.S. president than John McCain.

I will be stepping into the gym of my local high school this Tuesday at 6 am, where I will state my name, show some ID, and make a few choices that will change the course of history for my country and the world. The biggest assholes in the history of America will be the people who, on Wednesday, wake up and realize that they were registered to vote and just didn’t.

 
Read the Article by Eve Ensler at HuffingtonPost





Palin Ruins the Party For Everyone

19 09 2008

“Gov. Sarah Palin and other elected officials have been disinvited from an anti-Iran rally scheduled for Monday at the United Nations, organizers of the rally and the campaign of Senator John McCain said.”

“Malcolm I. Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and a leading promoter of the rally, disinvited Ms. Palin, Mr. McCain’s running mate on the Republican presidential ticket, and other politicians after Democrats, Jewish organizations and members of Congress protested that her appearance would turn the rally into a partisan political event.”

“But Mr. Hoenlein said, ‘I hope that we at least will be able to host the governor in the near future.’ ”

“On Wednesday, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that she would skip the rally after learning that Ms. Palin would be there. ‘Her attendance was news to us,’ said Mrs. Clinton’s spokesman, Philippe Reines.”

“For its part, the campaign of Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee for president, had planned to send Representative Robert Wexler.”

“By Thursday afternoon, the cacophony was so intense that Mr. Hoenlein rescinded the invitations to both campaigns.”

” ‘The message of the rally was about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad being at the United Nations and his nuclear weapons program,’ said Mr. Hoenlein, referring to the president of Iran. ‘And that was being obfuscated in the media frenzy.’ ”

” ‘This,’ he added, ‘is not about Governor Palin.’ “

Well, yes and no.

Now, I know that it isn’t supposed to be about Palin. It’s supposed to be about Ahmadinejad and his contempt for Israel. Politics, however, is based in diplomacy – or at least it should be.

As I was reading the comments section of the New York Times article, one blogger wrote,

“…such a serious event really is not the time or place to make a political point, for either side of the aisle.”

True, but politics and events like these are intertwined. Ignoring the state of politics and trying to organize a rally that includes politicians seems suicidal. It’s hard (impossible?) to engage in politics and ignore social mores. Respect, deference, cordiality, politeness – all used in politics as tools of diplomacy.

Senator Clinton, as a New York State senator, had every reason to be included in this event being held in New York City. For all her faults, she is very diplomatic and an asset at any international event. As an organizer for the event, I would have been very careful not to put Senator Clinton, or any high ranking official really, in an awkward situation. Out of deference her team should have been informally asked if it would tick her off to share a stage with Palin – for any reason. Same goes for the hierarchy of officials in attendance, proportionate to their rank. Stupid move on organizers part – and with the publicity this is getting, bad for their relationship with Senator Clinton I’d say.

When I first heard about this I tried to imagine how it would appear if the situation were flipped. What if Palin was my political hero. What if her presence on the presidential ticket was a coup for feminism and indicated a genuine shift in the nation’s direction toward a more equal, inclusive society. And she was disinvited. Why? Because a tyrannical hypocrite was appalled that she was expected to have to share a stage with her, and that hypocrite/anti-feminist withdrew from the event. Well, good – all the better for the cause. In fact what better way to draw a distinct line between a politician who embodies progress and one who represents regression than that exact situation?

And as I thought about this upside down world and how I might react to it, I remembered a key difference – summarily plague vs. power.

This isn’t about Govenor Palin. It’s about us.

It is one thing when the good samaritan begins to travel alongside a force of malice on a winding road and the force of malice is chased away by the very presence of the good samaritan. It is quite another thing when the opposite occurs, and it is important for feminists to note the qualifying differences. To stand one’s ground is often tantamount to victory, even if no further advancements occur. When your mortal enemy is climbing atop your mountain, don’t flee. Giving them that kind of power over you only reinforces the (possibly false) idea that you are not strong enough to face them. On the other hand, sometimes we are indeed not strong enough to face our enemies alone. “Safety in numbers” as the saying goes. There is nothing wrong with asking for help – and if you can’t get it then there is nothing wrong with removing yourself from that situation. Live to fight another day.

I guess it all comes down to knowing yourself and knowing whether or not you can face something without help. It is not surprising to me that Hillary Clinton is feeling more fragile these days than she usually does. It is not surprising to me that rather than face Palin, and the media frenzy that would follow, she has opted to remove herself from the situation. It is not surprising to me that Senator Clinton felt like she wouldn’t have enough support (political, emotional) to help her face Govenor Palin’s loaded presence. What does surprise me is that we can sit back, safe and warm in our private, anonymous chairs, and let it happen.

Who watches the watchers? Indeed, who protects the protectors?