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Thursday Morning Stitch N’ Bitch: This is What Feminist Pandering Looks Like April 30, 2009

Paintings by Japanese Pop Artist Yoshitomo Nara

Paintings by Japanese Pop Artist Yoshitomo Nara

In February 2009, MS. Magazine offered their bold interpretation of feminism by publishing an article which infuriated me to no end. Featured on the cover was President Barack Obama clad in Superman garb. Looking utterly heroic, Super Obama was peeling off his costume to reveal a shirt which bared the phrase” This is What a Feminist Looks Like”. My blood was boiling. How could MS. Run such a story after what happened to Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin during the election of 2008? Remember guys Obama is the one that said during of Hillary Clinton during the Democratic Primaries:

“I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she’s feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal.”

Yes Barack Obama…the man who was accused of being a sexist by Geraldine Ferraro.

The man who implied that Sarah Palin was a pig from “Wasilly, AK”

My anger with Ms. Concerned their uplifting of Barack Obama as an example of a feminist while he and his campaign in fact, marginalized the political role of women.

I understand that the relationship between feminism and politics is one that is historically stormy and open to criticism by the patriarchy. Stop being whiny girl, since 1789 you have had 37 women in the senate.

Well I understand that the relationship between feminism and politics is one that has deep connections to liberalism. Sarah Palin can get hung out to dry. She is a conservative so that it is okay when the mainstream media verbally assaults her. Heck, as we are liberal women too so let’s join in on the bash fest by accusing her of being stupid, and a bad mother because she is on the campaign trail while she has a small children. Oh God, she flew on a airplane while she was in labor. Like Hillary Clinton, how can Sarah run the White House if “Her house is not in order”???

Ms. inagural issue depicting Obama as a feminist

Ms. inagural issue depicting Obama as a feminist

By stating this, I am not attacking traditionally liberal feminist organizations such as NOW. I simply want to posit that there can be multiple and coexisting embodiments of feminism. I am speaking against this current and troubling trend that inclines feminist groups this tremendous push- this hypocritical tendency to dismiss any woman that is not an agent of the political left. To be inhospitable and dismissive in response to conservative women who justly deserve to be acknowledged as feminists, only serves to reinforce the power of the patriarchy and undermined any hope of a united front.

In an effort to legitimize their claim that Obama is what a feminist looks like, MS publisher Eleanor Smeal published in the Huffington Post this dandy gem as footnoted proof of the previous assertion and to commemorate President Obama’s 100th day in office:

The Huffington Post

Obama’s First 100 Days: Giant Strides for Women

Eleanor Smeal

President of The Feminist Majority Foundation and Publisher of Ms. magazine

Posted April 29, 2009

By any measure, the work President Obama and his team have accomplished for women and girls in the first 100 days is impressive. They not only have reversed some of the most egregious Bush policies, but also have taken some powerful actions to advance and empower women.

I’ve been working for women’s rights in Washington, D.C. since the Carter days and I have never seen anything like these first days. The pace is fast, and the outreach is inclusive. It started during the transition: The Obama/Biden team reached out to women’s leaders and met with us on a whole host of issues frequently and at high levels.

Oh, how nice. “The Obama/Biden team reached out to women’s leaders…” And tell me Ms. Smeal when they reached out did the feminist leaders reciprocate by offering in return a battered and bruised hand? The hand of feminism that was swollen and stained with the dried but lost and unforgotten blood rendered by wounds from the 2008 election? Come on. Any woman must be blind, deaf and dumb if she cannot admit to herself that the election cycle of 2008 had a crippling effect on feminist identity.

The article then begins to center on Obama’s accomplishments as a feminist during his first 100 days. This is described as a “list of the major Obama achievements thus far vis-à-vis women’s issues.” Smeals adds that the list “ bears repeating”. Yes Ms. Smeal does indeed bear repeating. We could not hear it quite clearly the first time. We still have that ringing in our ears from the whipping we took. Keith Olberman took our dignity into a room and “Only he “ came out.

rs1

Smeals prefaces her list by adding the proverbial pacifying of the savage beast of feminism. You know, kind of like when you have been held prisoner for years in your captor’s unfinished basement. They feed you mush on a plate slid underneath the door for decades but once in a while whenever they are so inclined and feeling periodically UP, they add a York’s Peppermint Patty on the side of your paper plate.

One area of concern that should be noted, however, is the percentage of women in top jobs. We must keep pushing. According to the Washington Post’s appointment tracking database, women thus far number only 30% of appointments to positions needing Senate confirmation. But very encouragingly, appointments include a high percentage of people of color and include many outstanding feminists.

This warrants further contemplation. Color me pissed off. We have 30% of positions that are filled by women but we should be “encouraged”. That is like saying we could’ve had a V-8. I drank some Obama Kool Aid energy drink that promised to turn me into Superwoman and now after 100 days I am feeling weak again.

What follows is the list of King Obama’s contributions to the fight for women’s rights:

JAN 23: President Obama overturns the “global gag rule,” a move that will literally save countless women’s lives in developing nations and will lead to the U.S. re-funding many international family-planning programs

JAN 29: Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, restoring women’s ability to sue for pay discrimination

FEB 4: Obama signs act to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to cover 11 million children–Bush had vetoed this act twice

FEB 17: Obama’s economic stimulus package saves and creates jobs not only in construction, where men dominate, but in fields where women workers are the substantial majority–health care, child care and education; also increases Medicaid, food stamps and unemployment benefits

FEB 27: Obama moves to rescind the Bush administration’s “conscience” clause, which could have let health-care workers deny patients abortion, contraception or any other procedure they objected to

MAR 2: With the choice of Kathleen Sebelius as Health and Human Services secretary, Obama appoints a total of seven women to Cabinet-level positions

MAR 6 : Obama institutes a new ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues and names Melanne Verveer to the post

MAR 9: Obama lifts restrictions on stem-cell research

MAR 11: Obama establishes the White House Council on Women and Girls and names senior adviser Valerie Jarrett as chair and director of public liaison Tina Tchen as executive director

MAR 19: Obama pledges to sign a U.N. declaration to decriminalize homosexuality, which Bush had refused to sign

MAR 20: Obama appointee Elena Kagan is confirmed as the first woman Solicitor General

APR 3: Obama calls Afghanistan’s proposed Shia Family Law–which would permit marital rape–”abhorrent,” helping to lead Afghan President Hamid Karzai to review the law

APR 23: The FDA extends Plan B availability to 17-year-olds–something highly unlikely to have happened under Bush

While I agree that the list includes many items that we can safely check off as strides for women, I wish to counter that legislative victories cannot in isolation translate into sole markers for the success of women. If gender equality is judged solely by these standards, then it will become a myth. Just because something says so on paper does not make it true in the real world.

Furthermore, this “legislation passed” method is a mistake and pure folly considering the way Obama has treated women in the past. Let’s also consider that for the most part our First Lady, Michelle Obama, a woman of accomplishment in her own right, has been reduced by the mainstream media into the traditional role of a rosemary and thyme planting fashion plate. A role which reinforces negative stereotypes of a women looking picture perfect while hubby is diligently working away at the office. Purring dear wifey is every so content to preen and stuff a capon in the kitchen. The girls are in the backyard playing footsy with Bo. All is well because after all (wink) Michelle, your house is in order. Unfortunately this is a role that our first lady seems all too eager to embrace.

yoshitomo_naraPerhaps I am being too hard on Michelle Obama. Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps my definition of success in the struggle for women’s rights is too broad. Maybe it should only be articulated through legislative benchmarks.

Call me picky but if we as women dutifully step aside and let down our guard because of the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter law what happens if another woman such as oh say Hillary Clinton, or Srah Palin decides to run against Obama in 2012? Sure, I am offering a hypothetical. It may not at all be the case. Mitt Romney may be the GOP presidential nominee and feminists can breathe a collective sigh of relief. No difficult definitions of what makes a feminist to negotiate. But what happens if the hypothetical becomes a reality and all of the “Obama is what a feminist looks like” converts are found among the dead in his underworld of sexism and the patriarchy?

This will be revisited I assure you.

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY

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17 Responses to “Thursday Morning Stitch N’ Bitch: This is What Feminist Pandering Looks Like”

  1. Janis Says:

    I definitely am sick and disgusted with the whole goddamned mess. Do I accuse them of “reverse sexism?O no, just the plain old, forward-facing kind — the kind that hates women and kisses male ass 24/7.

    They sicken me. All along, I thought they cared about things like rape and sexual violence, and it turns out they like it fine, as long as it’s turned against some bitch they don’t like. They are as invested in keeping sexism alive and well as any male chauvinist pig is.

    They are as feminist as that 17 year old girl who egged her BF on to kill the 14 year old “competition.” They are as feminist as any backstabbing bitch who’ll slit the throat of any woman who stands in the way of her May-un.

    I won’t call myself a feminist anymore, because I won’t call myself whatever THEY are. I really DO hate rape and sexual violence against women, and I will put women first — ALL women. Guess that means I’m not a feminist, because apparently feminism means sucking up to men and backstabbing the female competition, and softpedaling your stances so boys will like you.

    Why don’t they just start putting centerfolds in Ms. magazine if getting male allies is so damned important to them?

  2. Janis Says:

    BTW, this:

    You know, kind of like when you have been
    held prisoner for years in your captor’s unfinished basement. They feed
    you mush on a plate slid underneath the door for decades but once in a
    while whenever they are so inclined and feeling periodically UP, they
    add a York’s Peppermint Patty on the side of your paper plate.

    May be the most perfect thing I ever read.

  3. boldandbald Says:

    Hmmm…. Is it just me, AC, or are you a little upset about this?

    ///

  4. kimberly Says:

    during the election i remember hearing that the women in the OB campain where getting paid less then the men. Now i tried to find a link but i couldnt find one… all there was was peoples cushing happiness about OB direction towards women.

    What i saw during the election was a total disgrace. The way that they treated Palin and Clinton was totally insane. I personally find it amazing that Hillary would even get on board with OB considering the stuff that was said about her from his campain employees.

    Now Palin… I was totally discusted with the way that CNN, MSNBC, etc. treated her. Every single woman that interviewed her had such a hoity toity adittude with her. They treated her like she was some back woods white trash mom. And the fact that McCain nor the Republican party stood up for her is so disgraceful.

    I have always been real hesitant to call myself a feminest because of this exact reason… There are way too much of a double standard.

    I had the same question you have… WHERE ARE ALL THE WOMEN? STAND UP AGAINST THIS CRAP….

    • Janis Says:

      Kimberly, the next time one of those bimbos tells me that it’s peachy-keen when Eminem sings about raping Sarah Palin in the oval office but my stilettos are anti-woman, I’m going to spit in her fucking face.

      • kimberly Says:

        wowzer lol

      • kimberly Says:

        you know what.. come to think of it… Eminem makes fun of everyone. Females and Males

      • Janis Says:

        Threatening to rape someone is not what I’d call poking fun, frankly. I won’t forgive him because he’s a bastard to everyone.

        Nevertheless, I won’t forgive the big-name feminist bimbos for their silence, either. They like rape and sexual degradation just fine, if it’s aimed at the women who aren’t part of their little clique.

  5. kimberly Says:

    during the election i remember hearing that the women in the OB campain where getting paid less then the men. Now i tried to find a link but i couldnt find one… all there was was peoples cushing happiness about OB direction towards women.

    What i saw during the election was a total disgrace. The way that they treated Palin and Clinton was totally insane. I personally find it amazing that Hillary would even get on board with OB considering the stuff that was said about her from his campain employees.

    Now Palin… I was totally discusted with the way that CNN, MSNBC, etc. treated her. Every single woman that interviewed her had such a hoity toity adittude with her. They treated her like she was some back woods white trash mom. And the fact that McCain nor the Republican party stood up for her is so disgraceful.

    I have always been real hesitant to call myself a feminest because of this exact reason… There are way too much of a double standard.

    I had the same question you have… WHERE ARE ALL THE WOMEN? STAND UP AGAINST THIS CRAP….

    • You know… even if Palin was a back woods white trash (which is so far from the truth as to be laughable) it wouldn’t excuse in any way her treatment by the media. Her conservatism provided a convenient excuse for trashing her without explanation, and you know it probably would have gotten a bigger pass than it did from lots of women except they saw the same done to Clinton, so it is much harder to close your eyes and pretend.

      For so many this last election the algebra was simple:

      Where X = woman and Y = man

      Competence + experience + politically liberal + X = She’s a b*tch!

      Incompetence + inexperience + what does this guy believe + Y = He’s the 2nd coming of Jesus!!

      Experience + populist reformer + politically conservative + X = She’s a bimbo!!

      • Janis Says:

        You forgot experience + populist + conservative + pretty + X = bimbo.

        Cuz I’m pretty sure white boy wannabes wouldn’t be singing about raping her for fun if she looked like Bella Abzug.

  6. donnadarko Says:

    You have the best graphics!

  7. madamab Says:

    And this is why I love you, Afrocity. I disagree with about 90% of what you say, but you are so dead-on about this.

    My jaw dropped in horror as I saw all the “liberal” icons of feminism savage Sarah Palin with a glee normally reserved for turkey buzzards tearing at a decomposing corpse. How dare they attack another woman like that? And where the hell were they when Hillary Clinton was being hung out to dry every day by the Obama For America Party?

    They were kissing the patriarchy’s butt, is where they were. And too bad for them, they kissed every bit of credibility goodbye at the same time.

    • afrocity Says:

      Thanks Madamab…I think ;-)

    • Janis Says:

      It’s like “we had to destroy the village to save it.” They’re out to liberate women goddamn it, and they won’t spare a single woman to do it.

      I remember them pointing out how hypocritical it was for the catholic church to jump on Ferraro’s ass when she said, “I wouldn’t have an abortion, but I won’t get in anyone else’s way.” Priests up the waz were jumping on her shit — the exact same priests that would slobber and line up to press a clammy palm on Ted Kennedy, who had exactly the same opinions.

      Now, they campaign for and (hold their noses and) vote for anti-choice Democratic men, but one woman who shares the same opinions gets savaged.

      It all boils down to: men are perfect and we excuse them everything. Women are garbage and deserve nothing. BTW, this is now called feminism.

  8. Clifton B Says:

    What is needed is a new feminism, one that puts women first not political ideology. Current feminism is nothing more than liberal women who pass the pro choice litmus test.

    Strong outspoken women like you AC need to push the new feminist model, then break out the Rules for Radicals and vanquish the old one!


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