Thursday, May 19, 2011

I didn't read this article fully--I had to scan it because I needed to breathe and I found myself holding my breath as I read it. From the beginning, with its description as being about the rise of "Mommy Patriots", I knew I was in for a ride--there have ALWAYS been "Mommy Patriots", where do you think Mother's Day came from?

That being the case, instead of dissecting the article point by point (well, not the article, but all the ridiculous stuff that's quoted), I'll only point out a few of the more particularly egregious things.

First, the whole way these women define and understand feminism is just a complete misunderstanding, to the point of ignorance, of what feminism is. The article reads,
When I ask if it’s fair to compare the rise of their movement to the birth of feminism, Doll bristles. If anything, she says, today’s conservative women reject feminist ideals. She remembers when “the feminism thing,” as she calls it, began “creeping into our magazines” in the 1960s. Women were being inundated with articles about the “drudgery” of being a mom and how to avoid the boredom of housework by finding paid employment. “They were really putting our job down,” Doll says.
Feminism was never ABOUT affirmative action. That is a completely different issue. Feminism is about equality--equality not just in pay and opportunities, but in choices. If one read early articles about feminism, and about equality, they weren't about saying being a housewife is boring, they were simply saying assigning women that task/job without any choice of her own was condemnation to a fate not her own choosing. I would imagine most women would agree with this. To quote a great speech by Isabel Allende, "Once, when my daughter Paula was in her twenties, she said to me that feminism was dated and I should move on...if you don't like the term, change it for Goddess sake--call it Aphrodite, or Venus or bimbo, call it whatever you like so long as you understand it, and support it." The way these women speak of feminism reminds me of the way GOProud talks about gay rights--their desire to be "accepted" by the groups in power makes them reject their own advocates out of spite.

Then, there's Michelle Bachmann who claims,
You’re not going to see conservative women demand an affirmative action spot on a presidential ticket. You’ll see conservative women rise to the national stage based on their own merit.
A quick reading of recent history tells us this simply isn't true. Geraldine Ferrarro was nominated as Vice President because she was qualified. Hillary Clinton almost got the Democratic nomination after a lifetime of service. Who have the conservatives (I use a small c purposely) put forward?? Sara Palin and Harriet Meiers. And she claims it's based on merit?

In an impressive bout of not coordinating their messages, two paragraphs later, Christine "I'm not a witch" O'Donnell is quoted as follows:
O’Donnell argues that women won’t be able to reach top political office until they start supporting one another. “Not enough women have each other’s back,” she says. “Women on both sides of the political aisle need to unite so that we can send a message to future female candidates that if you step up into a political arena that is mostly male dominated . . . you’re not going to be alone.”
So, Conservative women don't believe in affirmative action, but should "band together across the aisle to support one another." And, while they speak of a "double standard", immediately she pulls out the gender card to point to why she lost--not because of her ridiculous stances, her inability to articulate herself, her lack of knowledge about basic issues or the fact she was far right of the voters of Delaware.

These "Momma Patriots" cannot have it both ways--they can step into the arena of politics and prove themselves as many, many women have before (on BOTH sides of the aisle), or they can sit down and go away. But, to play up the "momma" aspect and then hide behind it from any criticism but then claim it is also the REASON for criticism is disingenuous, at best. Until the Republicans start putting forward women like Peggy Noonan or even Kay Bailey Hutchison, then yes, the rest of us will laugh and snicker at the likes of the Bachmann's, Palins and other "Momma Patriots".

O'Donnell does try to square that circle, poorly, by saying,
The fact that you’re a good mother almost in and of itself qualifies you . . . There is something very profound in that observation—that there’s a difference between female candidates and mother candidates.
But, to me that's not good enough. That, to me, is ridiculous. The reason why, I think, was best expressed during the debates by VP Biden. When Palin tried to say basically the same thing, he teared up, speaking of his son. He went over the story of their family, and what he'd been through as a father, and said (paraphrase) that if she thought he didn't know what it was like to be a father and parent, then she was dead wrong. In fact, I think this view shows a little anti-paternal bias on her part. Too often we overlook the contributions of fathers to the family and to relationships. O'Donnell, here, doesn't just overlook it, she completely dismisses it.

I don't discourage these women from what they're doing--involvement. That's a good thing. But, the general lack of knowledge that influences what's said here and elsewhere is what bothers me. Our democracy rests upon an informed electorate, and it seems that while the electorate is getting more involved, it's no more informed. That is where the trouble lies. And, candidates like Palin, Bachmann and O'Donnell, who make their ignorance a point of pride instead of a weakness to be addressed, not only prey upon, but encourage more ignorance instead, and that seems Un-American.


Blogger -GRC said...

I'm so upset that feminism has become a negative thing. Some of these women don't even seem to recognize that they have benefited directly from it.

9:26 AM  

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