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Feminism Today: Crouching Paper Tiger, Hidden Dragon Lady July 18, 2009

Unhappy feminist Thirty some years ago, I remember walking down the aisle of the grocery store with my mother, holding on to the side of the shopping cart.

“Stay with me,” she would warn.

Of course I did not listen and just when she was thumping watermelons in the produce aisle, I would dart off to two places: the Brachs candy stand where I would fill my pockets with orange slices and caramels (without putting a penny in the sample box) and next I was off to the magazine stand.  I loved to read magazines but the only place I could was at the library or the supermarket.   Occasionally, I would grab a child appropriate magazine like Highlights or Jack N’ Jill.  But mostly I would go for the magazines that my mother referred to as “white folks mags”, Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies Home Journal.  I loved the recipes that my mother would never make and pictures of homes that I would never live in.

After browsing through those ,  next I would look at the “black folks mags” like Ebony, Jet, and Essence to catch up on the latest in black hair care, the 100 most influential black people, and to learn what I could do as a woman to please my black man.  Flipping through the pages, I found insightful renderings on why black women should stop nagging their “good black men” and be more supportive. Now if only my mother had a good black man and I had a father,  we would be all set to go.

obama-cartoonSpeaking of go,  I would leave the magazine section to make a check on the parental figure at this point. Like a good mom she had made her way to the breakfast cereals. Good thing I had caught up to her just in time to give my valuable input.

“Boo Berry cereal,” I said pointing at the box with the purple ghost and filled with colored marshmallows and 16 essential fortified vitamins.

Mom give me a cross look. “I told you not to wonder off. Now stay by me, I don’t want to have to go looking for you before I check out.”

“Okay”

Slam, bam phooey. As soon as she picked up a can of Jolly Green Giant veggies, I was back in the zine aisle, readily situated on a milk crate with Cosmopolitan.  My perception of the “Cosmo woman” was someone who was sexy, in control of her life and armed with an IUD or diaphragm.  Loved those pictures of voluptuous breasts I would never grow because I was destined to be an “A” cup.  Loved the article explaining how to be a bitch in the workplace, juxtaposed with a Halston suit clad woman, reading the Wall Street Journal while holding a man’s head between her quivering thighs. I bet she smelled like that Enjolie perfume too.

My final periodical selection was Ms. Magazine.  An aspiring feminist such as myself needed to keep in touch with the current buzz in women’s movement.

And God created Sarah Palin. Women have come so far today, that we are placed side by side with great men sich as Michaelangelo

And God created Sarah Palin. Women have come so far today, that we are placed side by side with great men such as Michelangelo

Pre-teen Afrocity was down with feminism. Raised on grape juice drink wishes and government cheese dreams,  my completed my feminist tutelage under the best liberal black mom on food stamps in the entire world.

I knew my pre-feminist commandments:

1. I am woman, the other gender does not come before me.

2.Thou shalt not grow up and carve yourself into any image of a housewife.

3. Thou shalt not bow down before man.

4. Honor thy mother and grandmother, and personal shopper.

5. Thou shalt not be pro-life.

6. Remember to keep a safety pin in your purse,  in case garments get “holy”

7. Thou shalt not bear arms, even against thy peeping Tom neighbor.

8.  Thou shalt not kill, unless it is with kindness.

9. Thou shalt not commit adultery, unless he does first.

10. Thou shalt not take the name of your political affiliation, the DNC in vain, for the liberals will not hold her guiltless who belongs to the Republican Party.

Condi Rice will make cornbread in vaginal and melanin hell.  How dare she be a Republican and an African American woman?

Condi Rice will make cornbread in vaginal and melanin hell. How dare she be a Republican and an African American woman?

Fast forward to 2009…Afrocity faltered and is going to vaginal hell. Clean up on feminist commandment aisle 10.  Before switching parties, I was a good feminist. Now liberals are throwing holy Kool Aid water on my face. ARGH, it burns.  Who resides here in vaginal hell with Afrocity? Hi, Tammy Bruce, Greta Van Susteren. Geeze is that…Why it is!!! Anita Bryant.  Hello Ann Coulter, love the hair, still blond and shiny in all of this liberal heat and humility. And of course Sarah Palin working mom, GOP Governor of Alaska,pro-life yep you deserve to be here- nothing about you speaks to the advancement of women’s rights. What’s up  Bristol…Piper are you down here too? What was that? You hate J. Crew clothing for girls. For shame.

Trying to make sense of feminism today is like watching the launch of a space shuttle that blows up in mid-air. Unfortunately, I watched that in the 80’s with the space shuttle Challenger and I am watching it again with the feminist movement of present.

Sarah Palin as you know could never be feminist, and  according to Newsweek writer Eleanor Clift,  Palin has also “let women down”.

Newsweek

“Palin’s Long Run”

As a runner, Sarah Palin has shown she has endurance. What will she do with that?

By Eleanor Cliff

Jul 17, 2009

I didn’t feel compelled to weigh in on Sarah Palin, at least not in print, until I saw her featured in Runner’s World, the holy grail for anybody who’s laced up a pair of running shoes. I don’t know how I missed that piece of her biography, but I learned that she’s been running for 35 years, since she was a child and her parents caught the running craze in the mid-’70s.

That’s when I caught it too, and suddenly I felt simpatico with Palin, an odd feeling since her political inclinations are so different from mine. She grew up doing family run runs, her parents were marathoners, and her dad ran Boston a couple times, another holy grail. “I feel so crappy if I go more than a few days without running,” she says. Now that’s my kind of woman.

Running is what they call a positive addiction. I once had a stress fracture in my foot, which I ignored as best I could lest it interfere with my run. I didn’t come to my senses until my husband asked how long it would take me to hop four miles. Palin faults the McCain staff for failing to carve out time for her to run during the campaign. She’d issue an ultimatum that she needed to run, and too often it never happened. Just think what a different campaign we might have seen if Palin had been given the time to generate those exercise-induced endorphins and maybe even order her thoughts. She might have saved herself from becoming a laughingstock with that disastrous interview with Katie Couric.

Palin MapWow, before the article’s author Ms. Clift  picked up Runner’s World, magazine she never felt compelled to write about Palin of course until now. That’s a stretch (excuse pun). It is so odd that she felt “simpatico” with Palin because you know as a conservative dragon lady, Sarah Palin does not do normal people stuff like eating wasabi peas, taking a daily shit, or running.

The rest of the article can serve as starting points for a discussion on what is wrong with journalism today.

I have sympathy with Palin as a woman and a mother. She wanted her life back. I get that. But I don’t think that walking away from the governor’s office is compatible with attaining the presidency, and her excuse, that she was sparing the state of Alaska the expense of a lame-duck governorship, was laughable. The detail that jumped out at me from a front-page piece in The New York Times was how Palin’s hair was thinning at such an alarming rate due to stress that her beautician staged an intervention. The governor was clearly having trouble coping and instead of backing away and deflecting the criticism, she engaged with every attack, however petty.

Much of the criticism leveled against Palin is justified. She has the makings of a dangerous political figure, a populist in the tradition of Pat Buchanan, whipping up resentment among “real Americans,” the term she used in the campaign and which applies mostly to white, rural pockets of the country. Now that Buchanan has mellowed into the role of television pundit, we forget that he prosecuted the culture wars of the 1990s with his opposition to affirmative action, immigration, gay rights, and abortion, and that he won the New Hampshire primary in 1996, vowing, “The peasants are coming with pitchforks.”

Buchanan is an unabashed admirer of Palin’s, and no wonder. She’s as good as he is at fanning the resentment of Americans who feel left out and left behind in a world that’s changing too fast for them.

I countered this with my "Pro- Black People- Anti-Obama- McCain/Palin 2008" bumper sticker

I countered this with my "Pro- Black People- Anti-Obama- McCain/Palin 2008" bumper sticker

Clift’s article succeeds beautifully in clinging to every Sarah Palin stereotype sold in the mainstream media market. Quoting the New York Times as a credible unbiased news source reflects fair and balanced reporting. Finding Pat Buchanan in the Palin family tree is also a nice touch. You said Pat and Sarah are pretty much good as conservative blood related cousins because he supports her, correct? Do you think there is any incest going on?  Resentful Americans who feel left behind like me want to know. Hey Ms. Clift, there actually might be a story in that for you.  Also you are so right, the criticism of Sarah Palin is so justified. Let’s embrace those who were brave enough to wear the “Sarah Palin is a CUNT” tee shirts. The criticism was justifiable.

Finally, as was the case with most liberal journalists, Clift gives a compelling reason as to explain why Sarah Palin is a disappointment to all womankind:

…Nixon was easy to hate in a pure, unadulterated way. The emotions Palin arouses in the electorate are far more complicated. Women were drawn to her initially, but she let them down. Her positions were too far to the right and her knowledge too provincial. She wasn’t ready to be president. Those attitudes have hardened with time. In the latest CBS poll, only 33 percent of Republicans say she’d make an effective president; that number was 71 percent last fall. Still, I can’t think of another vice presidential candidate on a failed ticket who remained newsworthy a year later. Nobody cared what Dan Quayle had to say after the Bush-Quayle ticket lost in ’92, and he’s the closest analog to Palin, chosen for the youth and good looks he could bring to a charisma-challenged elder statesman.

On behalf of conservative women everywhere let me grab a bucket and puke.

The CBS poll is most likely biased, most conservatives do not identify as Republicans. I have seen other polls that give Sarah Palin advantages over Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, at as much as 75%.  The claim that “women were drawn to Palin initially”  is a strange one in light of Clift’s confession that she never felt compelled to give Palin as single keystroke until she read the Runner’s World piece.   I am never initially drawn to anything that I don’t stay permanently drawn to.  I was never initially drawn to Michelle Obama or her husband.  I was never initially drawn to Nancy Pelosi. I was never initially drawn to Donna Brazille, even when Bill Clinton was president.  I will always remain drawn to Hillary Clinton despite some reservations about her role in the Obama administration.  You can denounce Sarah Palin as a provincial conservative, for her pro-life beliefs. Yes liberal feminists, I know that Sarah Palin should endure a thousand menstrual cramps for denouncing gay marriage. She will never be a feminist.

In the aftermath of the 2008 election where busloads of young women stumped for Barack Obama while rear ending Sarah Palin, I get there are no feminists on the  right, but look at what you are doing and saying to our young women? Are there really any feminists left?

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY

Feminism

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It came from Misogyny But Where are you NOW? June 30, 2009

Filed under: Sarah Palin — afrocity @ 9:17 PM
Tags: , , ,

Now 2

Here is the link  and small excerpt to the Todd Purdam article on Sarah Palin consider it a warning of the misogyny to come:

Vanity Fair

It Came from Wasilla

By Todd Purdam

When orders or advice from McCain headquarters began to conflict with her own impulses, aides told me, she simply did what she wanted to do. “The problem was she came down from Alaska with basically Todd as a sort of trusted bellwether adviser,” one McCain friend says. “She was given this staff of 20. It was probably too big a staff. To be real honest with you, I don’t think she could figure out who to trust.” All the while, Palin was coping not only with the crazed life of any national candidate on the road but also with the young children traveling with her. Some top aides worried about her mental state: was it possible that she was experiencing postpartum depression? (Palin’s youngest son was less than six months old.)

Postpartum depression????? WTF? We will wait to see if NOW can give us more than the sound of crickets.  Sarah Palin is not a liberal so I won’t hold my breath.

UPDATE, I wanted to get this video clip in of a discussion on the Sean Hannity show about Palin, The Vanity Fair article  and the absence of NOW.


 

Curator’s Corner: A Rose By Any Man’s Name Is Still Her Rose May 29, 2009

Filed under: Women,Women's Rights — afrocity @ 12:55 AM
Tags: , ,

31_artichoke

I dedicate this post to Dr. Boston Boomer a newly minted PhD. Congratulations Dr. Boomer. My PUMA sister.

As difficult as the collective trauma is to reconcile, there is a remedy to save women who were left behind by history. You visit your local archive and save them one letter, one diary, one note at a time.

Throughout my career as an archivist, I have not cared for one collection that did not contain a woman, a minority, or a child that was just screaming to be recognized. But there she was buried in a pile of manuscripts, some man’s daughter. An unnamed wife, Mrs. Herbert Hoover. Mrs. Finley Calhoun. Some slave, a servant, a mute.

SP 201969The university, my professional home, offers many opportunities for women past and present.  Internships are invaluable to the career of a budding curator.  The high-heel clad foot gets in the door, followed soon by a vintage plaid 50’s skirt from Oona’s in Cambridge, MA. A brown body, narrow hands, a face, curious brown eyes, a mouth. Before you can say Bobbi Brown, you are in. A new girl in the old boy’s network. There I was processing the letters of Henry James, James L. Lewis and a famed botanist. The latter collection was one of my favorites and my most challenging.  A history buff, I possessed no formal training in botany. Biology yes, as I braved two terrible years as a pre-med major.  Still, the specimens of amber, spore prints, orchids had my do-rag covered head spinning with the nomenclature of crytogamic botany. In order understand how to process that collection, to present it to the scholar, I had to become that botanist. Of course he was a man and so was the subject of nearly every collection I have worked with up to this point. Botany pertains to nature who is a mother. Or so we are told. How odd that the history of botany does not include more women. This was the irksome thought I held as I read reference texts on botanical taxonomy.  The beautiful names of flowers- freesia, peony, rose. It was hard to imagine the absence of woman in such a world of beauty, such detail, delicacy, fertility and reproduction.   The field notes  of a botanist often reveal very little about his family unless they are somehow related to fungi. Sample collecting during inclement weather, meticulous writing and insects offer very little to a “delicate flower” such as a woman. Unless that woman is Jane Colden.

Botanical Drawing by Jane Colden

Botanical Drawing by Jane Colden

Jane Colden ( 1724-1760), is considered to be the first female botanist in America.  She was born in New York City to botanist and New York Lieutenant Governor Cadwallader Colden . Her father educated her at home and curiously in the fields of Hudson Valley. Following her father’s desire, Jane was trained as a botanical assistant of sorts, her father’s apprentice in his ambition to become a great botanist. In the home, Jane was known as her father’s daughter but in the field she developed an escape from the suppression and vulnerability so inherent to being of the “weaker sex” during the 18th century.

Drawing of a leaf by Jane Colden

Drawing of a leaf by Jane Colden

Jane diligently recorded undiscovered flora and fauna of the Hudson region in her field notebook and delivered what was considered to be the most comprehensive botanical record on the region of its time, containing over 300 specimens. Jane’s skill in formal Linnean taxonomy was so keen that she eclipsed the abilities of her father.

ColdenPaintings

Jane was allowed to communicate with the greatest botanists in American and Europe, however, it was through Jane’s father that this communication was allowed.  This arrangement may appear as one of gender biased restraint by today’s standards. Quite the contrary, for it was a familial partnership ideally suitable to both parties. Mr. Colden was allowed to expand his circle of influence in the discipline of  botany while Jane became respected as a botanist in her own right.  Traveling botanists would find the company of the two Coldens rather enjoyable. In 1756 one of Jane’s descriptions was published in a respected European journal, making her the first woman to do so.

It is believed that Jane discovered the gardenia while strolling one day. She alerted her father who shared her description of the flower (along with one of his earlier ones)  to a friend. While the descriptions of both father and daughter were published, Jane’s discovery was challenged by her scientific contemporaries. She subsequently, never received her due of full recognition, accolades, or historical significanceuntil recently.

Jane was married in 1759 to Dr William Farquar.

She died one year later during childbirth in 1760.  She was only two weeks shy of turning 36 years old.  I discovered Jane Colden after I processed the papers of a famous male botanist and wondered about the dearth of female context and input in the field , both literally and figuratively. I questioned my own legacy as a historian, archivist, curator… someday when I am long gone will they remember me? What will happen with things that never were? Jane was cheated out of naming the gardenia, Hillary Clinton was cheated out of the Democratic nomination. Where will these stories live decades from now? Who will dig through the dusty archives to find them?

Almost immediately, Jane Colden comes to mind whenever I visit a botanical garden.  A serene jaunt to the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago was a favorite childhood excursion. I could not read the Latin names. Linnean taxonomy meant nothing to a five year old. Smells and bright colors was what I could relate to. I wonder if I have ever walked by one of  Jane’s discoveries without noticing as child. Did I ever walk by Jane while fanning myself at the New York Botanical Garden as an adult?

In Alice Walker’s   famous novel, The Color Purple,  the character “Shug”  makes a memorable quote:

“I think it pisses God off when you walk by the colour purple in a field and don’t notice it.”

I believe that the same could be said for those who do not notice or appreciate women and their contributions to our society.

Congratulations on your Phd. Boston Boomer. I recognize and appreciate all you have done and will do for women everywhere.

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY

If you would like to learn more about Jane Colden, there is a great article in the Journal of Women’s History  by Sara Stidstone Gronim entitledWhat Jane Knew: A Woman Botanist in the Eighteenth Century” Volume 19, Number 3, Fall 2007. If you would like a pdf copy of the article, please contact me and I will be glad to share it. Jane’s drawings and manuscripts may be accessed at the Museum of Natural History in London.

Gardenia Plant

Gardenia Plant





 

Liberal Feminist Thumb Twiddling: Tammy Bruce On Bill O’Reilly April 8, 2009

Filed under: Feminism,Liberal Hypocrisy,Sarah Palin — afrocity @ 9:16 PM
Tags: , ,

Former NOW president Tammy Bruce is quickly becoming one of my heroines as she is IMO the leader of the calling out ‘feminist hypocrisy’ movement.
Tonight Ms. Bruce went one on one with Bill O’Reilly to discuss rapper Eminem’s portrayal of Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) in his new video “We Made You“.

As you can see in the video Eminem is in what appears to be the Oval Office with a Sarah Palin lookalike and explains how he will take her to dinner and “nail her”. I am not surprised at Eminem’s portrayal of Governor Palin and neither is Tammy. Her appearance on the O’Reilly Factor is paramount not to addresses the behavior of Eminem but rather the a lack of action.

We have come to expect this from Eminem.

Tammy instead discussed the appalling thumb twiddling and sound of crickets from so called feminist groups. Sarah Palin, a conservative, is perceived as a threat by the left so why should feminists who are mostly liberals bother to defend her?

As usual Tammy was spot on. I applaud Tammy Bruce for her candor and willingness to buck the feminist status quo. According to her website (http://tammybruce.com/) she is a self described “…an openly gay, pro-choice, gun owning, pro-death penalty, voted-for-President Bush authentic feminist.”

Tammy also made the point that it is not only Sarah Palin and other conservative women that the liberal feminists will silently stand by and watch get ripped to shreds by the MSM. They will also stand firmly against anyone who is a threat to the perceived “liberal darling” as O’Reilly put it. Barry and Michelle definitely qualify as liberal darlings. And when we say anyone who is a threat to the liberal darlings we mean ANYONE. Even if that ANYONE is a liberal (ahem Hillary cough, cough).

This feminist hypocrisy has got to end. It does nothing but divide and conquer. This goes for you too African Americans!!!! I see you trying to sneak out of the door there.