Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Eleanor's Smear

Eleanor Smeal wants to be a feminist voice. She wants to be president of Feminist Majority Foundation. She needs to check her damn ego. She also needs to issue a PUBLIC APOLOGY TO ALL FEMINISTS. If she can't do that, she needs to take her ass off the public stage.

Smeal can't be a 'leader' and slam women.

Let's be clear, she can take on any public woman she wants.

She can critique a public woman in any manner or tone she wants.

She can't go after grassroots women, she can't go after the women the media has no spotlight for.

Smeal's 'feminism' has always struck many as 'thin'. Her NOW tenure was very weak and left a lot of heavy lifting for Molly Yard. That's because Eleanor has always felt her role was in electing Democrats.

She can't pass herself off as a feminist leader and attack other feminists not in the spotlight.

That's what she's done in hurtful words.

E-mails flood in the inboxes (the private e-mail addresses for community members as well as the public e-mail address for visitors) and I heard about it from women last night. I heard about it from an African-American lesbian who wanted to know, through tears, just who the hell Ellie Smeal thinks she is?

Who does she think she is?

She thinks she can bully women. She thinks she can make fun of them. Mock them. And for what?

To elect a man. Disgrace yourself in private, Ellie, feminism doesn't deserve your embarrassments.

You either apologize -- in a public statement -- or you leave the public stage.

The last thing feminism needs is ANOTHER MIDDLE-CLASS, STRAIGHT, WHITE WOMAN re-enforcing the worst stereotypes of feminism.

There are women who will not vote for Barack.

That's not a question at this point. The polls demonstrate that there are women who will not vote for him. There's not going to be a big change.

No matter how Ellie wants to throw a tantrum.

She went to 'feminist' Katha Pollitt to declare that PUMA's were really John McCain supporters all along.

That's a LIE and that's a disgusting LIE.

As the woman crying on my shoulder -- I'm not joking here, she walked up, she started talking and three words in, she just started sobbing -- asked, what does she have to do?

She's been a feminist all of her life (I first met her at an abortion rights rally in DC years ago) and she's been one because she believes in feminism. If feminism embraces homophobia, then she's lost feminism in 2008 along with having to endure the slurs that all women had to throughout the Democratic Party primaries.

Eleanor Smeal needs to grasp reality.

1992 brought us the Sister Souljah moment and this cycle brought us a similar moment when Barack Obama decided homophobia was the slur to use in campaigning. That wasn't just offensive to Democratic Party beliefs, it was offensive to many people -- men and women. It was and remains offensive to feminists. This moment will not go away and, in a decade, will be regularly called out. But lesbian feminists have been especially vocal about the fact that feminist 'leaders' stayed silent.

I'm dropping back to January for Ava and my "Democracy Sometimes:"

In the January issue of The Progressive, Kevin Alexander Gray contributes an article he co-wrote with Marshall Derks. The article, "Obama's Big Gay and Black Problem," was posted online at many websites. Despite the article now appearing in print in this month's The Progressive, Goodman never asked about it last week -- while speaking to its co-author. Is homophobia not an issue in Goodman's world? Is it not as important as racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination?

Considering how rarely LBGT issues make it onto the program, Goodman apparently doesn't think it's an issue. Even when a Democrat candidate uses homophobia to stir up hatred in the hopes of turning out voters, Goodman doesn't find it 'newsworthy.' But she's really not interested in gender either. Though program after program throughout 2007 and 2008 addressed race and race only (and the race was always African-American which has led to a huge outcry in the Bay Area about the silence on Asian-Americans), gender issues in the US was never judged as important enough for a segment in 2007.

Some may be suprised that they never noticed that. Others, especially those who read Aura Bogado's "Hustling the Left" (ZNet) will most likely be nodding their heads because it's not all that surprising when a woman (Goodman) who thinks H**tler is the place to publish also isn't interested in the lives of women.

Where are the 'leaders'? They are silent. Over and over. And the silence is a stab in the back to the feminist movement.

There are many reasons women aren't on board the bus with Barack -- usually because they were tossed under it.

Ava and I spoke with PUMA for a piece two Sundays ago. There are some who support not voting, there are some who support writing in Hillary's name, there are some who support voting for Ralph Nader (we heard of those but did not speak to any), there are some who support voting for Cynthia McKinney, there are some who support voting for John McCain as a protest vote and there are some who support voting for John McCain period.

Eleanor Smeal has no right to smear the PUMA movement as Republican women who were pretending. It is a smear, it is offensive. It's offensive because PUMA is about women rebelling and rebellious women have always been the heart and soul of the feminist movement.

It's offensive because none of the women Ava and I spoke to or heard of had started out in 2007 assuming they'd vote for anyone but the Democratic nominee -- whomever he or she was.

PUMA wasn't created by Republicans for Republicans.

PUMA is a direct response to what went down in the primaries and (Ava and my opinion) the failure of of feminist 'leaders' to call it out. Women became their own leaders because their 'leaders' failed them.

(There were exceptions and those names are known and don't need repeating here. Needless to say, Eleanor's name doesn't make that list.)

For Eleanor Smeal to smear PUMA is an ugly and offensive slur and one that continues Eleanor's silence on what went down. She never called out Barack's use of homophobia (and this is NOT a minor issue with lesbians or with straight women). She didn't do a damn thing about sexism.

Now she wants to turn around and smear feminists -- real ones -- who have been fighting the good fight?


Feminism is not about any one candidate, any one political party. Feminism is a movement and Eleanor wants to hijack it for a candidate.

It doesn't work that way.

Feminism is supposed to respect the right of women to make their own choices.

Eleanor Smeal shows nothing to indicate that she grasps that.

Her words have hurt and she needs to apologize.

And if she doesn't?

Losing Smeal as a 'face' is no great loss to the feminist movement. She's always placed electoral politics ahead of feminist actions and she is the press stereotype of a feminism. Her stepping away (or being pushed off stage) clears the path for a non-traditional face of feminism to step on stage.

Her words are offensive. I'm reading the e-mails and lesbians are grasping it right away. I'm seeing a few men who do and I'm seeing a number of straight women who do. Lesbians are grasping it because they were most publicly tossed under the bus.

Eleanor wants credit for the Democratic Party Platform this year -- that would be the same platform that, unlike more recent years, does not use the term "gay" or "lesbian" or "LGBT." Lesbians especially have a reason to be personally offended. They are not mistaken. They are not 'moody' or seeing something that isn't there.

And feminists stand together. Lesbian, straight, we stand together in the struggle.

That's what Eleanor can't grasp.

Her statements indicate that she thinks feminism means she, Eleanor Smeal, can get a seat at the (Democratic Party) table by 'commanding' a legion of women. (How very 1976 of her.) They aren't yours to command, Eleanor.

You owe feminism an apology. A public apology.

And visitors e-mailing to complain about Ellie note that they attempted to use the contact form at Feminist Majority Foundation which does not work (error message of "CC" when there was no "CC") or returns the message with a failure notice. A few visitors apologize for "dumping this on you." Don't. I'm a feminist and what Eleanor Smeal did is unacceptable.

I'm not afraid to call her out.

Elaine and I already had a long conversation this spring about how we were not rushing in (with our checkbooks) to save Ms. and how we wouldn't give a thin dime to Feminist Majority Foundation. They did nothing. Feminist Wire and Ms., both owned by Feminist Majority Foundation, didn't do a damn thing. There were two 'briefs' when Hillary was considered a candidate on sexism -- in both cases the briefs weren't written until after MSNBC got to respond. In other words, after the actions OF OTHER FEMINISTS had been so intense that MSNBC had to issue a public response, Feminist Majority Foundation felt they might need to cover it. Both briefs were on MSNBC because that became the target other feminists identified. Eleanor Smeal didn't lead a damn thing.

And the attacks didn't stop with the end of the primaries. This morning on Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman declared, "Clinton's speech marked an end to her campaign against Obama." Give me the name of a man who ran in a primary -- post-primary, post suspension of campaign -- who has ever been identified, all that time after, as campaigning against someone and not for the office.

Amy Goodman's trashy ass needs to be called out. Larry Fl*nt's buddy, who thought publishing in H**tler, lied about Hillary non-stop. LIED. She brought on Barack supporters and didn't identify them as such. She shut out Hillary supporters. She brought on Melissa Harris-Lacewell who was CAMPAIGNING for Barack and didn't feel the need to tell the audience that fact which, had she been NPR staff, would have led to a disciplinary notice and possible firing. She lied repeatedly and intentionally. And, of course, she and Harris-Lacewell plotted the Jerry Springer-like attack on Gloria Steinem. Amy Goodman is trash and I could go on at length there but Ava and I are tackling her this Sunday (but if you catch today's episode, identify the Barack supporter who lies on air -- and forgets her own lie in the midst of the segment).

Hillary Clinton gave a great speech last night.

In 1992, her speech to the ABA moved me and her speech last night moved me. She is one of a kind.

But that doesn't wipe away what was done and what continues to be done. It's really not about Hillary and the Barack Groupies fail to grasp that because Hillary supporters did not exhibit Cult like behaviors. We knew her. We saw her as she was, warts and all. We knew she made mistakes but we knew she kept going. We knew she kept fighting. She ran an amazing race and won 18 million votes. She truly is heroic.

I've known Hillary for years and never cease to be amazed or moved by her. But I don't take marching orders from Hillary. If I'm not going to take them from Hillary, I certainly won't take them from the insulting Eleanor Smeal.

When Barack was running for the US Senate, Elaine and I went to an early fundraiser. We were prepared to write checks and, in fact, planned to max out with our donation at the fundraiser. That was because he was the 'anti-war' candidate. He was not, as we realized in our face time (much easier to get back then -- the campaign needed money badly -- though a friend with the campaign swears I can have face time if I'll only open up my checkbook -- not happening and don't want it -- will remain one of the 'untapped donors'). Elaine spoke first and stated how great it was to support someone calling for an end to the illegal war. Barack informed us that the "We" were in Iraq now so "we" couldn't leave. Elaine's mouth dropped. I'm never at a loss for words (also known as "mouthy"), so I went after him with one question after another. He wasn't anti-war and he wasn't even anti-Iraq War. This nonsense about the 2002 speech (that is a recreation and 'improvement' if people want to be honest about it) is crap. He'd long decided otherwise. Now Tom Hayden was crestfallen this July 4th by what happened. Elaine and I weren't. What Tom finally saw is what Elaine and I saw face to face, with very specific questions because you know I was nailing him down on this. Elaine and I immediately left the fundraiser -- no, we didn't write any checks. We didn't support his Senate run (and that was before he decided to humiliate Jeri in his own sick desire to hold Senate office).

Eleanor Smeal needs to check herself.

It is not a feminist requirement that you vote for a candidate, any candidate, or that you even vote.

I don't care who anyone votes for. I stated here, beginning in 2004, I wouldn't vote for John McCain. I like Cindy, I admire the work she's done, I have nothing but nice things to say about Cindy the private person. But I won't vote for John.

I won't vote for Barack.

Neither of those things makes me a 'bad' feminist.

If a feminist wants to vote John McCain she should. If it's because she believes in him, she should vote for him. (And you can toss "he" in there too because feminists can be men as well but this entry is focused on women.) If she plans to vote for John McCain to lodge a protest vote against sexism, homophobia, et al., that's her right too.

The world will continue regardless. Any feminist who has a strong desire to vote should. For whomever she wants. (That includes voting for Barack if that's what she wants to do.) If she doesn't want to vote, that's her right too.

But no 'leader' has the right to smear and LIE about women who are standing up when her own chicken-s**t ass is too cowardly to do so. Eleanor Smeal owes PUMAs an apology, yes. But she also owes all feminists (and PUMAS includes feminists) apologies. She needs to make a public apology and she needs to do so quickly.

And I want to clear something up that I may not have been clear enough earlier (this is dictated and Isaiah goes up after this with a comic, by the way), PUMA was not created solely by the sexist attacks. It was also created by the silence from so many 'leaders'. Eleanor Smeal didn't do s**t when the attacks were starting (they continue today) and she can take responsibility for helping to create PUMA. The bulk of feminist 'leaders' failed. That's not they fought and lost. Feminism is a centuries old movement. We know we will lose battles. We know we must always continue fighting. But a number of 'leaders' chose not to fight, chose silence.

In the 21st century, silence is no more an option than it was at any other time. Let the PUMAs roar.

The e-mail address for this site is

[Dona note: C.I. dictated this entry to a friend. I've gone and fixed the PUMA link.]