Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Hate The War

Ludacris Gets an Earful From WomenCount
Group demands apology from artist and immediate action from Party leaders
(San Francisco, Wed., July 30, 2008) -- Responding to news that rap artist Ludacris released a song today in which he calls Hillary Clinton an "irrelavant bitch," WomenCount is calling for an apology as well as a blanket condemnation by the Party leadership.In his song entitled "Politics," Ludacris calls Hillary Clinton an "irrelevant bitch" and also attacks President Bush and Sen. McCain. These lyrics are outrageous, offensive, and unacceptable.

In an e-mail this afernoon to its membership, WomenCount states, "It is another example of hateful, sexist language being used on the campaign trail, and now is our moment to make it clear: not on our watch! The leadership of both parties must step up to condemn such hateful speech and demand apologies. The Obama campaign has criticized the lyrics, but we call on the presumptive party nominee, who is the celebrated subject of the new song, to go even further: Publicly condemn the song. Demand an apology on behalf of the targets. Now.
"This is not an issue of being PC," states Rosemary Camposano, communications director for WomenCount, "This is about beginning the grinding and painful process of rooting out this kind of hate language and behavior whenever and wherever it exists. The Democratic leadership have pledged to unhinge our nation from gender-bias, hate-language and misogyny and we are taking them at their word."
WomenCount ( has embarked on a campaign called "Stop the Silence" in which they are promoting specific language be incorporated into the National Platform now being drafted for the Democratic National Convention. Through an e-mail petition campaign, driving content on the blogs, and direct contact with the Democratic Leadership, WomenCount is applying pressure to begin eliminating gender bias in the media and wherever it exists by condemning it "on the spot" going forward.

The above is from WomenCount PAC. We're focusing on sexism and if you don't get why, you must be a drive-by. Drive on by without comment, no one needs to hear from you.

Women paying attention (and those with self-respect) are outraged. And we're outraged for a number of reasons.

1) We're fully aware that our rights are always under attack.

We're fully aware that, as Susan Faludi noted in The Terror Dream, this decade's been dominated by sexism and it's come from the White House and it's come from a compliant media. One that picked and choosed heroes for 9-11 and women didn't get to be heroes. (Mark Bingham was briefly a media hero -- until the media figured out, shocking, he was gay. Gay men, like women, are always suspect 'transgressors.')

2) We're fully aware that an advanced society is one with rights for women. We didn't discover Afghanistan after 9-11. Feminists were calling out the abuses of the Taliban regime (but not calling for the country to be bombed or targeted with war) a decade prior. We're fully aware that when women's rights go out the window, other abuses join them or quickly follow.

3) We know about terror because we live with it. We fend off the "clumsy passes" that are, let's be honest, attempted rape. That's not, "Would you like to sleep with me?" That's a man who doesn't get what "no" means and thinks he can paw and claw you until you set him right with a knee to groin. We're fully aware that the woman mugged or raped could have been us if bad timing or bad luck had placed in that location. We're fully aware that, even today, a number of men think they have a right to hit a woman -- and not only to hit but to hit in order to control. (And 'Christian Dominance' seems to be the new 'trend' story. Hopefully, like all trend stories, it's media created and baseless.) We try to raise capable children (our own or the children of others because, yes, it does take a village) and we worry about them. And we worry about the world they're living in, being raised in. We're worried about the lowered bars for going to war (potential threat someday!). We're worried about the refusal of Congress to hold anyone accountable for the lies that led to the illegal war.

4) And, yeah, straight or gay, we worry about men.

On a good day, we like to hope that men worry about our rights and advances. But then along comes MoveOn last week and those 'progressives' feel the person they should stand with is Nas -- infamous for a hundred verbal attacks on women not limited to his infamous "P**sy Kills." And we realize that we are always the first ones kicked off the ship (unless it's sinking). We realize that even these 'progressive' men and their female lackeys will sell out women without giving it a second thought.

Because in the end, what it really boils down to is a number of men -- including a number of 'progressive' men -- don't think women matter at all. (A lot of Queen Bees don't either. And they're too worried about being the 'exception' to help another woman out.)

We never broke into the club. We weren't welcomed in, we weren't made members. It's still the old boys club. They'll invite in different skin tones but they're not interested in opening it up to the female half of the population. We're always in on a pass. And that's why some women are Queen Bees. They finally made it in and they know that one wrong word and they'll be ejected. So they stay silent and they add to the abuse of women.

It's all about the demonization of women and that demonization is centuries old.

Some decades we're "witches" (with powers that must be killed off) and sometimes we're "bitches" (powerless but we still need to be called off). Despite being the majority of the population, we're still treated as oddities and our concerns are the "other." Mathematical statistics alone dictate that we are the norm but we're never supposed to notice that fact and certainly the bulk of the 'progressive' men don't rush to point that fact out unless it's in a, "Well you're the majority so how could you be discriminated against!"

We're discriminated against because we haven't held the power in centuries. We had to be attacked and vilified in order to reduce us to 'helplessness' and that actually says a great deal more about the lack of masculine strength than it does about women's strength.

In the New York Times this morning, Barack being called a celebrity by the McCain campaign was front page news (in the paper's 'judgment') while the thing WomenCount is calling out gets reduced to a gossip item buried at the bottom of A15. And given the headline "Rapper Praises Obama." Because, in their minds, that is the news. The attack on women -- it's not just an attack on Hillary -- shows up in the second paragraph, as one portion of a sentence ". . . calls Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton "irrelevant" and also a nasty name common in hip-hop lyrics but not in the remarks of presidential candidates." Mike Nizza probably feels really proud of that little write-up. His gossip item runs under Micheal Luo's slam at Hillary (campaign debt turned into a joke -- apparently Hillary's the first one to ever have campaign debt -- is everyone still so outraged that John Kerry had money after the November election that they've forgotten most Democrats go into campaign debt?) and Michael Falcone's item likening the Clinton's to the mafia. How proud the Michaels must be -- today they got to pretend that they were Page Six writers for the New York Post.

Sexism paraded past the media without being called out and, in fact, the media frequently joined in. And who called them out? Not a lot of people.

MediaChannel reposts Carol Jenkins' "Katie Couric & Sexism In The Media" (Women's Media Center):

I was there at the annual NOW conference, participating in a plenary session on sexism in the media, and we certainly had much to talk about. Katie's June 11th Notebook blog post caused a stir in journalistic circles when she said that sexism had a play in the primaries: "It isn't just Hillary Clinton who needs to learn a lesson from this primary season -- it's all the people who crossed the line, and all the women and men who let them get away with it."
Those are rare words coming from inside corporate media. Katie was almost a single voice from within, joining those of us on the outside--on a strictly non-partisan basis--who took the pundits to task for traversing many the line in their analysis of Clinton. If people were coming to the conclusion that Couric's outspokenness is due to her planned departure from her duties at the CBS news desk, that seemed to be cleared up this week. The first woman network anchor/managing editor said she's staying. So did her bosses.

Two other women deserve credit in the MSM: Bonnie Erbe and Cokie Roberts. I'm no fan of the latter. But Cokie Roberts noted history in her brief moments on ABC's primary results coverage. No one else wanted to do that. Many still aren't aware of it. But Cokie deserves credit for talking about history and not just in the sense of "Hillary's a woman so it's historic!" That was historic and certainly Bill Moyers, et al. never felt the need to explore that. But Cokie was addressing the historical electoral realities. (Only one example would be the huge shift for the Latino community in twenty years of voting -- as Cokie noted, female candidates did not do well in the eighties with the Latino community.) Bonnie Erbe was Bonnie Erbe. Her PBS show is called To The Contrary and that's her life's motto. (Saying she was being who she was is not in any way meant to take away what she contributed. A lot of women couldn't be themselves. The Gail Collins and Maureen Dowds seemed to take delight in proving just how destructive they could be to other women.)

Despite the fact that Cokie was talking about the sexism and doing so at the end of the primaries and that Bonnie was as well, when it was time for the New York Times to do their one and only article about sexism in the Democratic primaries, they couldn't find those two women, they couldn't quote them. They couldn't call them for a quote and they couldn't refer to remarks the two women had already made. Doing so would have taken sexism from the maybe-it-happened-maybe-it-didn't plane into the reality of what went down.

MediaChannel is supposed to be a media watchdog and it ignored the sexism throughout the primary. It's good that they reposted the article and, hopefully, this is a topic they will return to often. I could think of a dozen little slams for them but what's the point? Sexism is still being ignored and MediaChannel's one reposting is a hell of a lot more than most outlets have done. I'm not being sarcastic.

Katha Pollitt gets a lot of credit as a feminist. But where was she? Oh, that's right. Like Minnie Mouse and others, she was signing the "Feminists" For Barack petition. How could any feminist have been for Barack? He didn't address reproductive rights (as Marie Cocco has noted, since he became the presumed nominee, he's gone out of his way to echo right-wing talking points). What was he offering women? What programs were going to address the issues that women face? Hillary's healthcare plan -- as Paul Krugman repeatedly documented -- was better for families because it included more than children. It was better for single women because it included adults. Hillary's campaign was better for women because it employed them in larger numbers than the boys-boys-boys Barack campaign. Hillary had a breakthrough proposal for breast cancer research. And most of all, pay attention Katha, Hillary didn't use homophobia. Homophobia is not feminism. This was covered long ago. It's one reason The Ego Of Us All got kicked to the curb -- her constant attacks on lesbians and her constant refrain of how they were the "lavender menace."

Barack put homophobes on stage at a campaign event in South Carolina, he used homophobia as a campaign strategy and no one was supposed to notice. There were no front page articles wondering when America could get beyond homophobia. Bill Moyers didn't do week after week segments on homophobia and how it was ripping the country apart (he didn't even do one segment). Homophobia was a-okay.

That was the message. And Barack sent it loud and clear when Anderson Cooper pointed out that Barack was a product of an interracial relationship, raised Loving v. Virginia and asked Barack how anyone could deny same-sex marriage. (Loving v. Virginia is the Supreme Court case that ended bans on interracial marriages.) Barack -- the Constitutional lawyer -- gave a pathetic response. And it just sailed over heads. Barack claimed that it was a matter for churches to decide. Had the Surpeme Court taken Barack's "Constitutional" approach, interracial marriages might still be against the law in many states. Loving v. Virginia -- a landmark case -- didn't involve churches. It was a couple (Loving) suing a state (Virginia). No one was supposed to notice that Barack was saying races have a right to marry but gays and lesbians don't. The best they can hope for, now or ever, is some form of government sanction that's less than marriage and that marriage should be the church's domain.

That's not Constitutional law. That's flat out offensive. And it's not Loving v. Virginia. The Court did not say, "We'll create a new sanction for interracial couples and leave the marriage issue to the churches." The marriage issue did not belong to the churches and if Barack doesn't grasp that than he's a bigger idiot than I already think he is. In the US, the government controls marriage, not churches. You can have a ceremony in a church but if you don't take out a license (with the government), it's not a marriage (unless the state recognizes common law). He gave an idiotic and insulting answer and, as usual, he got away with it.

Just like he got away with the South Carolina event. So, no, Katha, there were no "feminists" for Barack. There were just a bunch of sad dupes. Now women who are feminists might have wanted to support Barack for other reasons. That's their right. But don't claim it has anything to do with feminism. It doesn't.

African-American women were in a special bind because, for the first time, they were choosing between the first bi-racial candidate and the first woman candidate that had a real chance at the White House. If they made a decision on race (or on race plus other reasons), I've never faulted them for that.

I have faulted the media for repeatedly pushing the lie that minority women (and all minorities) were supporting Barack. Asian-Americans overwhelmingly (male and female) went with Hillary as did Latinos. And Ava and I have pointed that out since the primary season started. Race isn't just Black and White and it's insulting to the country to imply that it is. It's especially important to people of color who do not fall into either category.

Here's another feminist issue that Katha should be familiar with. On the whole, women have less money to toss around. So when Barack started charging to attend events (helped create the myth of those 'small donors') that wasn't a feminist move.

Katha, to her credit, did call out Tom Hayden's sexist column after she decided Barack was her 'girl.' And prior to deciding on Barack, she did do one column calling out the sexism. Many months passed between the two columns and we're all supposed to ignore that?

We're all supposed to ignore that it wasn't just okay, it was encouraged for African-Americans to support the bi-racial candidate but women were constantly lectured (by Mark Karlin and many others) after Hillary won in New Hampshire. We needed to think beyond gender. But no column from that same crowd ever suggested that African-Americans needed to think beyond race.

There's nothing wrong with an African-American or bi- or multi-racial person looking at Barack's campaign or even just the candidate himself and saying, "I'm going to support him." If that provided a sense of pride, that's a valid reason to support a candidate. (There are other reasons, but that is alone is a valid reason. Some supporting Barack did so for that reason alone, some did it for that reason and many others. No one ever needed to explain or justify it.) But women -- of all races -- were never given that same message. Instead they were lectured to (by men) and they were insulted.

Racial pride was okay, gender pride was a sign of a 'defect.'

At MediaChannel's post a "Cord;ey Coit" leaves a comment that's nonsense. First off, he or she cites a 'feminist' that is not a feminist (she was a media creation). S/he then offers this garbage, "Clinton is a woman far from feminism, her covering and being a beard for Billy the Goat had nothing to do for feminism that I can see. Of course there is sexism that is differnt than being sexually oppressive." That's offensive. We'll set Bill aside (a defense could be mounted but he's not the issue). Hillary's far from feminism? Who told you that? Laura Flanders -- the self-loathing lesbian who stayed silent about Barack's use of homophobia -- but did find time to write back then, a dumb ass column calling for him to break with someone she didn't grasp was his political mentor and Michelle's former boss (and friend -- then and now). Laura and Betsy Reed loved to say Hillary wasn't really a feminism. Laura stayed silent during homophobia so she's the last to judge anyone and her own feminist credentials are in doubt. Betsy Reed shares with Katrina vanden Heuvel the fact that The Nation magazine published only 149 female bylines in 2007. While publishing 491 men. That alone calls into question any judgment Betsy Reed might want to offer on any other women's feminism.

These are not minor issues. And while Laura and Betsy lied and tried to say Hillary only did one thing and that was back in the 90s, that was never reality. Hillary has worked on many feminist issues in the US Senate. That both women were willing to lie or else confess their own stupidity was not Hillary's problem. Hillary was calling out what was going to happen to Iraqi women before it started -- before the US started installing puppets. That's only one example. Feminist actions and actions to support women do not get headlines. Laura should damn well know that because she was calling attention to what was happening to the women of Afghanistan in the nineties and she damn well knows she was a lone voice in the media. (And it continues today. Michelle Obama is not a feminist but, as Martha notes, feminists are being ripped apart for not calling out . . . well it's not sexism. Not the examples the man lists. And he's such a 'sweetie' using "Motherf**kers" in his title. He knows how to sweet talk a girl, no? Or maybe he's trying to say all feminists are lesbians? And apparently also into incest if they're "Motherf**kers"?)

The primaries ended in June. Where's The Progressive's examination of sexism? Where's The Nation's?

Neither periodical can stop gas bagging over elections but somehow that topic is never judged worthy for examination. It's why Ellen Willis called out the 'progressives' of the New Left all those decades ago.

It's not as if the 'progressive' community has stopped talking about Hillary. They still need to demonize her. It's not enough for them that Barack's the persumed nominee. They still need to lie and flaunt their sexism. You heard it on KPFA this morning judging from the e-mails. (Ava and I are covering it Sunday.)

But they can't cover the sexism. That attitude, long entrenched in the 'progressive' community, is why the second wave of feminism took off -- and had to.

Katie Couric called it out and got slammed for it. But, if you were paying attention, you saw just how sexist the 'progressive' community was long before this year. You saw it when Katie Couric was named anchor of The CBS Evening News.

Sexist attacks were launched on Katie Couric. She was not judged by how she performed the job and anyone trying to push that lie is not just a liar, they're a bad liar. Ava and I wrote about the attacks on Couric in "TV: Katie Was a Cheerleader." Don't lie and say those attacks were based on what she did as anchor of the evening news because we wrote that article in April of 2006 -- months before she ever anchored her first evening newscast.

Couric was torn apart and ridiculed for being from Today. But Charlie Gibson -- taking the jobs of a reporter wounded in Iraq and a woman who was pregnant -- going from Good Morning America to evening news never raised an eyebrow. It was always about Katie's gender. CounterSpin, after Couric was anchor, decided to 'critique' as a 'media watchdog.' It was a strange sort of media criticism: they sited her ratings. Something they never did with a man. But remember, in 2008, CounterSpin offered non-stop examples of racism (some real, some that were a stretch) and for sexism? One lousy sentence in a headline. The entire primary season. One lousy sentence where they neither identified the CNN program or the participants.

And if you're having trouble connecting it, a culture that repeatedly degrades and devalues over half the population is always going to need to turn that anger onto another country at some point. It's all part of demonizing "the other" and 'proving' how 'wonderful' and 'amazing' you are.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4124. Tonight? 4127. Just Foreign Policy lists 1,251,944 as the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the Iraq War up from 1,245,538.

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