des femmes

des femmes, defamed...

Absolutely shameful, squared

Steve Gilliard writes:

"Bush is a gutless bitch.
Yes, this was a campaign stunt, and yes, Cleland has his own grudges against these people, but a real man would have invited Cleland and Rassman up to the ranch house, gave them some sweet tea, taken the letter and let them go.
So he hides behind some lackey. Just like he's hidden behind women's skirts his entire life. And he calls himself a Texan. I didn't know Texans were pussies. His father must be cringing. He's done his share of dirt, but personal courage was never something Bush Sr.lacked. His son, sadly, has no courage, no character, and no guts. He talks big, but he's hiding from a triple amputee. It's not like he wore a horse's head.
If Rove had a brain in his head, he would have NEVER let Cleland be turned away. It looks shameful, cowardly."

No more shameful than disparaging half of humankind. Why does he hate women so?

Two-for-one: real men Atrios and Gilliard

Atrios writes:

"Sure, Cleland ambushed Bush for a bit of theater, but a real man would have known how to handle it. As Steve says:
'Yes, this was a campaign stunt, and yes, Cleland has his own grudges against these people, but a real man would have invited Cleland and Rassman up to the ranch house, gave them some sweet tea, taken the letter and let them go.' "

A real man, not a fake man, not a woman.

Raphael Carter words it succinctly:

"Bravery is not a gendered trait, it is a virtue; vanity is not a gendered trait, it is a sin."

Profiles in misogyny

Digby explains:
"If anyone is wondering why Tweety has turned back into Bush's bitch, here's why:" [quote and link snipped]

Maybe Digby is a right-wing operative trying to get women to vote Republican. Why should I affiliate myself with people who revel in degrading women?


Digby says:

This is creative and the press loves it. Max Cleland, disabled veteran and former US Senator is greeted by some lowly functionary in Crawford because Bush is too much of a pussy to talk to him himself.

Creativity would be a good thing.

The "gag regime"

The latest Holt Uncensored, a newsletter by former San Francisco Chronicle book editor and critic Pat Holt, has two great articles:

  • "The Secret(s) Behind Those Newspaper Apologies ... And All Those Anti-Bush Books"
  • "Get Mad and Fight Back: Gloria Feldt's 'War On Choice'"

The articles are better than their titles suggest. The first one talks about a court case in the early '80s:

"And the chilling effect of the Frank Snepp decision on the book business was immeasurable. Why was it, book critics like myself kept asking in the 1980s, that during the eight years of Ronald Reagan's presidency, only two books surfaced - one by Seymour Hersh, the other by Bob Woodward - that were critical of the White House?"

Child Pimp and Ho Costumes a hoax

I owe Brands On Sale an apology--the costumes are a hoax. I spent a wonder-filled hour* looking at their other costumes and believe the company's disavowal: the child's red pimp suit is similar to the toddler zoot suit, and the child ho costume is the same as the flapper costume.

Finding out the costumes are a hoax made me giddy with relief; our society isn't corrupt enough to openly prostitute our children. Yet it was so easy to believe these costumes are real products. Imagine your own Deep Thought here.

What convinced me the company wasn't selling pimp costumes was this child's cheap firefighter costume that includes a cheap yellow & red plastic coat, and this child's spoiled brat girl costume with designer-inspired suit, matching pillbox hat, and marabou trim purse.

*Who would have known so many people torture their cats and dogs? Oh, the humiliation. The hoaxer struck here as well: pimp suit costume for dogs.

Back on track

Focus. This blog is not about U.S. politics or feminism in general, but about the specific instances where I see women treated dismissively.

Seeing these casual unremarked insults dismays me; the insults are coming from the liberal side. Without anyone protesting, cowards are called "pussies" and denigrated as being "little girls." I'm starting to understand why some women, even though they detest Bush, refuse to support the Democratic candidate. Why bother voting? One party's just like another.

Is there any possibility these people are unaware they're using femaleness as the ultimate insult? What about "bitch slap"--is there any doubt that phrase reduces women to nameless punching bags?

Do I really need to explain why these insults are wrong? Mimicking how the other side thinks is a poor excuse: when you use their terms you're allowing them to set the rules.

Zoe's turn

Zoe from Green Pass commented far too politely and thoughtfully. I think her response to my post deserves not to get lost in comments. (Matt also responded.)

"The comments that Matt made were actually in conversation with him directly (we became friends at the DNC), and not in his roundup of how the Left is doing. I stand by my opinion that it was a valuable piece of blogging that should help everyone who has an interest in building a response to the Right-wing media juggernaut. I apologize for not making that clear."
"However, I also stand by what I said about women being afraid of looking stupid. I think both men and women are equally afraid of this, obviously, but I think it's more acceptable (however wrongly) for women to articulate this and to shy away from political discussions. For example, I have heard many of my female friends say things like "I don't want to talk about politics because it makes people mad" or "I don't want to discuss politics because people say mean things." I've never heard any of my male friends express anything like this."

What you just described seems far more complex than a simple fear of appearing stupid. Some underpinnings I suspect: fear of being ridiculed (not just looking stupid), conviction that a woman's contribution has little worth (even to herself), belief that no one values her opinion, fear of appearing to side with the wrong team. And more that I haven't puzzled out yet.

"I think that the lack of time of working women is also a cultural problem. Male bloggers also have families and jobs, and yet they somehow manage to find the time to blog - and women my age usually don't have jobs or families to take up their time. If the problem is with working women, then at the college level there should be gender parity. There isn't."

"Cultural problem" is a catch-all phrase that works very well in hiding a society-wide issue that cuts across ethnic cultures. The issue I see is that most men don't do their share in family matters, and that too many women put up with it. I'm assuming that sharing of family duties is a good thing, and that there are multiple reasons for each situation.

"I never really thought seriously about avoiding discussions that include the words "pussies" and "so-and-so's bitch". I guess either I am so inured to these terms from the music that I listen to and the language that's spoken on college campuses that I find it hard to be outraged every time that someone says something like that. I did go nuclear on a commenter on Kos once for calling Maureen Dowd "Midol", though. I think that name-calling is something that someone should be called on, and hopefully isn't taken as a reason for intelligent female commenters to withdraw from political discourse. It's tough, and it is hurtful when it's obviously targeted at or against women, but it has to be fought with intelligence and wit rather than more name-calling right back - otherwise people will keep using these names that are offensive."

In college I ignored it, too. I shouldn't have. I didn't think anything about it because I was part of the group and of course they couldn't be insulting me.

Intelligence and wit won't make much difference. A bludgeon might. I'm not talking about Joe Thoughtless next door using these words, but people who routinely analyze what they read and write. I think arrogance is the key word, not cluelessness. They don't have to change, so they won't.

"A woman's blog will always be heard if she is writing interesting content. I firmly believe that. Like anyone, she has to do some legwork in getting her blog more visibility if she wants to have a wide readership, but so do men. There is nothing stopping women - both working and not, childless and not, busy or not - from taking over the web, and I would love to start a discussion on how to encourage more women to join in, and what is preventing them from doing so. You've articulated name-calling and time pressures. Women should be no more susceptible to those pressures than men, but the fact that they are is a problem, cultural or otherwise. I'd love to hear your thoughts."

Frankly, that you didn't get more feedback to your post surprised me, and I wonder if it's because of the m/f split. The people who read your blog will have heard about it from primarily male sources, right? Just a guess, and maybe Green Pass is on a female loop, too.

A lot of women seem to be online already, but it appears they've been balkinized into feminist issues--some by choice, perhaps, others by reflex. For example, take the Swift Boat story. The same (male) people keep writing about it and referring to each other's posts. (Other views welcome--I don't claim to be unbiased.)

Whether a woman's blog is read by men depends more on whether her blog will reinforce what a certain circle wants promoted, I suspect. Think Phyllis Schlafly. Maybe I'm wrong.

I would call women's name-calling and time pressures a discrimination problem--which should be a people problem, but since the visible adverse effects fall on women, it becomes a women's problem and men don't have to do anything to fix it.

(All those quote marks look stupid when the quoted material is already set off, don't they? My feed reader squashes all the paragraphs together; better goofy-looking than confusing.)

Thesaurus for sale, cheap

Digby says:

"But, Bush does not want to condemn this ad and for good reason. If he did some of his staunchest supporters would think he was a pussy --- and that's the essence of what is going on here. Bush has to tear down veterans because he isn't one, but he can't do it himself. Bush just cracked under mildly difficult questioning and blurted out something he didn't mean to say."

He writes "pussy"; I read "Go away, bitch--boys only."

I could just take this blog off my to-read list, I suppose. Why should I have to? Why is it okay to insult women?

The humor of statutory rape

Jessica posted:

"There was also an Operation Witness dude on the sidelines who talked about not believing in sex before marriage. Cohen's response was priceless--after confirming that the man was in fact a virgin, Cohen laughed in his face and told him about losing his virginity at 11 to a 24 year-old who 'came back for more.' Oh, Ali G; you're so bad."

Not righteous, not impressive. Definitely not amusing.

The shield of anonymity

It seems kind of chickenshit to post under a pseudonym, but I'm not used to sharing these thoughts. I'm used to smiling and pretending everything's okay when I'd really like to carve out some jerk's still-beating heart.

And I'm afraid, too, that my comments here will tell everyone I'm "not a team player." Afraid I won't get that pay raise, and my name will move up the layoff list. Afraid I'll get payback from co-workers. Afraid some overbearing client will think I'm really not the right person for the project.

Yet I'm so tired of reading blogs that so clearly are written to exclude me and my kind, like hanging out a "boys only" sign. Pussy, cunt, slit, hole, twat--words for just a part of me that stands for the whole me, and that are vile insults. Bitch, slut, and whore--I'm a rutting dog or receptacle for hire. These aren't just words; they're me being thrown on the ground, kicked, and pissed on.

I hear the hostility, despite the smirking disavowals.

Trackback added

If I had known how much work using trackback would be... I just hope I pinged the right sites. [sigh] And all because I got fed up with seeing women--me!--insulted, especially by people whose blogs I had otherwise enjoyed reading.

Fresh cherries for sale

Thanks to Boing Boing and Sisyphus Shrugged.

"Child Pimp & Ho Costumes" description from the Brands On Sale Web site:

"Our child long pimp daddy suit costume comes with panne jacket & matching pants. Pimp hat is sold seperately."
"Child X-Small is size 4 to 6x. Child Small is size 6 to 8. Child Medium is size 8 to 10. Child Large is size 10 to 12. Child X-Large is size 12 to 14."
"Our child's Ho costume is one size fits all."

What pedophile thought of this? Little boys are being taught to treat their sisters as receptacles, little girls to be receptacles. Thanks to everyone who thinks it's so cool to talk about ho's and bitches.

[UPDATE August 25, 2004] I spoke with Jonathan at Brands On Sale. He said the page was hacked and they're still trying to remove it from the server.* The pimp costumes are actually zoot suits and the ho costume is supposed to be a flapper. More of my thoughts here.

*How can they not be able to remove it? Isn't it info in a database? Can't they...? No, I don't really want to know.

Pleasantly ignorant

Josh Marshall says:

"I've been pleasantly surprised that I've only received one email taking me to task over the use of the phrase 'bitch slap' to describe the meta-message behind the sort of attack politics Republicans are practicing today against John Kerry. I'm not indifferent to the coarse connotations of the phrase. But I believe that in such trying times as these precision of meaning trumps political correctness or delicacy of phrasing."

Rhino shit. Citing "political correctness" is how people deflect any criticism of their rudeness. They mask their hostility by claiming to speak plainly. I don't know how the PC meme got started, but its reasoning parallels the sliming of the word "liberal."

Further on he says:

"No one believes that any of the protests scheduled for the Republican convention are sanctioned by the Democratic party. Indeed, far from it -- if for no other reason than that implied in the article. Namely, that any violence or ugly scenes or anything really will tend to help the president, rather than hurt him."

Sounds pleasantly naive to me. Of course people will believe the Democrats are behind any protests! Even without the media telling them so (and the media will), lots of people already know Democrats hate America and will do anything they can to disgrace our flag!

Forget about the women

Zoe VanderWolk says:

"Matt Stoller has a brilliant roundup of how the Left is doing on positioning itself as a viable opposition to the Right-wing juggernaut. Particularly interesting are his thoughts about mentorship of women in politics and the blogosphere."

I found his thoughts pretty lacking, more as though he was merely being polite.

[UPDATE] Zoe notes that "The comments that he made were actually in conversation with him directly (we became friends at the DNC), and not in his roundup of how the Left is doing."

Zoe continues:

"I agree with him that women are often afraid of looking stupid and are worried about getting into something new that they don't know much about. The confidence problems can only be overcome by meeting other women who are doing the same thing, that can tell them about what they're going up against and what they need to know to get started."

I read and reread the brilliant roundup and found only this comment:

"Women - that's an interesting question. I don't know. It's cultural, probably, combined with a severe lack of mentorship and role models."

Far too much is being read into his brushoff. (If he said more, I would appreciate being corrected.) I don't see anything about looking stupid or lacking confidence but a generic comment that could have come from Bush's mouth.

[UPDATE] So my previous comments were wrong (um, that crow tastes good) but so far I don't see any reason to change what follows.

My opinion about women's non-involvement: Working women with children don't have the time between going to work, fixing meals, taking care of kids, and cleaning house. Lucky me, I'm not in that position. But I have a personal problem* with people who call cowards "pussies" and denigrate others by calling them so-and-so's "bitch," and I've been seeing way too much of it in political blogs for me to feel like I'm welcome.

*I've been working so hard on managing my anger. [sigh] But the words "fuck you, jerk" bubble up whenever I'm called names. And yes, I do take it personally when the word "pussy" is misused.

And Zoe continues:

"We need more female voices in the blogosphere, and in politics in general, and I'd love to help it get off the ground."

If a woman blogs, and no men hear her, does her blog exist?

Culturally excluded

Shaula Evans asked:

"Matt, why haven't women been a big part of the blogosphere until now? What do you think we can do to help get more women involved?"

Matt Stoller responded:

"Women - that's an interesting question. I don't know. It's cultural, probably, combined with a severe lack of mentorship and role models."

She's asking him?

(Actually, her comment looks like an opener, but instead of lobbing the question back to her after saying "I don't know," he ended discussion.)

[UPDATE] Matt also responded very nicely. He mentioned that he has posted on women's issues and recruited female bloggers. I guess I need to be more clear: In the exchange between Matt and Shaula, I saw a typical mismatch of communication styles. She was offering an opener for discussion; he recognized a question and had to answer it. In my perfect world, he would have relinquished control and just said, "I don't know. What do you think?"

Jesus might not find it funny

From The Poor Man:

"I guess I shouldn't be surprised, really, when you think about who made this ad, and who they made it for. [...] People who think that Jesus talks to George Bush. (Jesus hasn't suffered enough for you, now he has to spend his free time with that smirking pussy? Give Jesus a break already.)"

Let's see how these versions sound:

  • Now he has to spend his free time with that smirking nigger?
  • Now he has to spend his free time with that smirking faggot?
  • Now he has to spend his free time with that [sorry, I ran out of slurs]?