Thursday, October 02, 2008

I Hate The War

Robin Morgan's written a piece for Women's Media Center. Violet Socks (Reclusive Leftist) weighs in, "In the comments someone pointed me to this ridiculous essay by Robin Morgan. Ridiculous because it's full of lies. You know, if I were going to write an Eminent Feminist's missive to the world -- which Morgan clearly thinks she's doing -- laying out the Eminent Feminist viewpoint on Palin, I think I'd least check my facts. Morgan obviously didn't. In her piece she repeats long-debunked lies that it would have taken her only seconds to investigate: that Palin claimed the war was part of God's plan, that she didn't know what the Vice President does (it was a rhetorical question, for chrissake), that she denounced Hillary supporters as 'whiners,' that she opposes sex ed, that she's against contraception, that she opposes funding for pregnant teens, that she made a point of charging victims for rape kits, that she believes in 'praying away' homosexuality, that she’s a crazy fundamentalist who wants to put us all in calico dresses, and on and on." From Monday's snapshot:

'Sarah Palin wants rape victims to pay for their own rape kits!' Prove it. September 24th, published their item on it and they found nothing to prove that rumor. No proof. That's how the Cult took down Hillary, they repeated lies and piled on more lies. Usually, the most effective lie was the one that turned a Hillary strength into a liability -- a strength Barack didn't posses. So when 'feminists' rush to tell you Sarah Palin hunted wolves from a helicopter, the appropriate response is, "You, ma'am, are a damn liar." And when they insist that Palin forced rape victims to pay for rape kits, the same reply should be followed by pointing to Barack's "Faith, Family, Values Tour" with headliner Doug Kmiec who is both a homophobe (and actively fighting to overturn marriage equality in California) and an anti-choice advocate who admitted to the New York Times last month that he wanted Roe v. Wade overturned. If 'feminists' think that's feminism, they have more problems than lying.

So, Robin, love you though I do, you are a damn liar. Unlike Violet, I don't think Robin intentionally meant to lie but Robin is an incredible journalist (as well as a writer of books) and she knows the importance of checking the facts. Equally true is the Women's Media Center has refused to correct falsehoods in other pieces on Palin.

Tuesday and yesterday, Marcia's been addressing her disappointments with feminist leaders (and 'leaders') who resort to silence and lying. (Robin Morgan isn't a feminist 'leader,' she's an actual feminist leader.) Yesterday, Marcia noted the pile on nature regarding Governor Sarah Palin. And she cites Ava and myself pointing out that when a pile-on is taking place with regards to a woman a feminist thing is to not to add to it.

Third again explained "Bash the Bitch" in February (in a piece that we all, including Marcia, worked on):

Bash The Bitch involves a focus on misdeeds that is only applied to one person and that person is a woman. When that takes place the nation engages in group trashing.

That is what Robin Morgan engaged in.

From a feminist perspective, there is no excuse for it. You can disagree with Palin's politics and positions, but think about the mind-set that would go after a woman (with lies) while "Bash the Bitch" was the national craze and to do so prior to the woman doing what is billed as her make-or-break debate?

That's not feminism.

There is no excuse for it. There is no excuse for Robin's article.

Sexism is clearly at play in the non-stop ridicule of Palin served up daily. The fact that Senator Joe Biden (I know Biden, I like Biden tremendously) has been caught in fabricating (see Wally & Cedric's joint-post today), has been caught in huge factural errors and has even cried on the campaign trail last week with none of the outcry from the press that Hillary Clinton received for her eyes welling up while she was speaking in New Hampshire underscores that the pile-on very much has a gender aspect to it. Biden got choked up tonight during the debate. Will it be commented on? Or is just when a woman comes close to crying that we figure, "Hey, maybe she can't handle the job!" As always, note the "she" because, as Ava and I pointed out Sunday, there is no standard for the males in the press coverage of the 2008 election but women have all sorts of ___ tossed at them.

And it has gone on non-stop with Palin.

Therefore a feminist thing to do would be to either speak out against it or, if that's too damn much for you, to just stay silent. (Marcia points out that a writer with How I Met Your Mother? begged Ava and I to cover Britney Spears appearances on the show and we watched and declined twice. Britney cannot act. To say that in the midst of the pile-on would have been joining in the bashing. Spears appears to have gotten her career back under control so it should do her no harm today.) The pile-on has a name: "Bash the Bitch."

The 'game' (an American past time) always centers on a woman. It's the modern day equivalent of burning 'witches.' The game is so very popular because women are so very hated. As Holly Near sings, "The war against women marches on, beware of the fairytale."

When Robin Morgan repeats falsehoods about Sarah Palin, it doesn't matter that she didn't grasp that they were lies. Robin has engaged in "Bash the Bitch."

The very fact that she didn't feel the need to check out the rumors goes to how "Bash the Bitch" runs deep in this society. When Women's Media Center posts a column with factual inaccuracies (and this isn't the first time), they don't just waive through "Bash the Bitch," they endorse it.

It's a real shame because Robin has suggestions at the end of her column and four are worthy ones worth exploring. However, one of the four is her perception shaped by the media. Hillary didn't address women's issues?

That's not true, Robin. Whenever Hillary did, the media ignored it. As a breast cancer survivor (hopefully a survivor), I think I can say that because I damn well remember Hillary's suggestion regarding funding research and I damn well remember the lack of media attention given to that proposal. [If, like Robin, you don't, you can see "Other Items (and the press demonstrates how little breast cancer matters to them)" from April 8th. And for the record, Women's Media Center didn't call out the media silence of Hillary announcing she would increase to $300 million the amount of money to breast cancer research. And for the record, Women's Media Center did not rush out of the gate with a story on it either. I'm aware of no story on it, in fact, but may it was an 'under the radar moment' for WMC. Considering the ages and the health of the women who started WMC, it is shameful that they didn't cover Hillary's proposal.]

So on that Robin's wrong.

She's wrong on a great deal including her claim that women have some vested reason to elect Barack Obama.

She embarrasses herself with a 'book note' at the end. It's a shame she doesn't read the newspapers. Jim's asked me to sit on something all week and bring it to Third on Sunday. If I can manage to in tomorrow's snapshot, we'll address it a Third and it will underscore not just Barack's sexism (in public) but how little reading goes on.

I actually saw it as an indictment of the lazy (and cheap -- provided bloggers have money to spend) online world. Barack made a huge sexist statement this week and no one's called it out. Including the media. One print outlet mentioned it in passing. If they'd front paged it, Robin would probably be aware of it (she does read that newspaper). To claim that women need to support Barack is to claim that women need to endorse sexism and render themselves silent. Again, it will be addressed Sunday at Third. And apparently, it's not only the lazy bloggers (doing "Sexism watch!"es on incidents covered elsewhere) who can't be bothered with actual reading (and, possibly, paying for a paper -- the write up probably wasn't easy to find if you 'read' that paper by clicking around the website).

It's a real shame that so many feminists disgraced themselves in the Democratic Party primary by refusing to call Barack out for his use of homophobia to scare up voters in South Carolina and are still refusing to call out his use of homophobia going on right now in that hideous 'values' tour. They better grasp that women like Marcia do not consider themselves as a lesbian and a feminist. To them, it is all the same package and they are deeply disgusted with women like Robin, Gloria Steinem and many others who never said a damn word about homophobia used in this election cycle.

Silence sends a message. And it needs to be noted that the awful woman online who thinks she does something amazing (but doesn't) sends a message with her self-presentation of 'feminist' that includes a 'watch' for everything under the sun but can't do a homophobia 'watch.' Has feminism been so repackaged in the push-up bra wave of Do-Me-Feminism that we've all forgotten our lesbian sisters? That we've rendered them invisible and yet we still want to claim we are part of a feminist movement? It's sad and it's disgusting.

What it appears to indicate is that we're all so desperately seeking male approval that we'll toss our own sisters under the bus.

When feminism -- real feminism -- wants to wake up to the fact that homophobia is ALWAYS UNACCEPTABLE and when leaders and 'leaders' want to SPEAK OUT against it, then you'll see women like Marcia feel that they're invited to dinner -- and not just to coffee after. The movement has sent this message to lesbians. They have done it by ostracizing them. And don't claim otherwise because when the feminist movement can't call out a candidate putting homophobes on stage, what kind of a pathetic movement has it become?

I'm sorry, I'm second wave. I know Robin. I know Gloria. What was allowed to happen was disgusting. Robin and Gloria, to their credit, called out the vile sexism against Hillary. But they never called out the homophobia. Neither Gloria nor Robin is a homophobe. Both strongly support ALL women. So it may be another instance that, at the time, they were unaware of it.

The media certainly didn't make a big deal out of it.

But there's no excuse for the silence on it now.

Feminism never dies.

It will never be snuffed out. And there has been much that has taken place in 2008 that (I think) argues for a very strong wave of feminism emerging out of all the sexism that went down. But it is past time for leaders (and 'leaders') to start calling out the homophobia that Barack has regularly used. If they can't, there's really no reason for any self-respecting lesbian to bother listening to the feminist movement. The movement was never about a skin color, a sexual orientation, a region, an education level, etc. It was about women, all women.

In the early days of the second wave, many women (not just Gloria but she did so regularly in public and deserves tremendous credit for that and for setting the tone) refused to respond to questions of, "Are you a lesbian?" Those questions always popped up when someone learned you were a feminist. It was ignorance on the part of some (feeling that, remember this one, only a woman who couldn't 'get' a man would be a feminist) and it was an effort to stigmatize feminism on the part of others. Gloria refused to take that bait. ("Are you the alternative?" was her usual sardonic reply.) And that sent a message.

A very important message because The Ego Of Us All was using her 'reputation' to snarl about the alleged "lavender menace." (A detail left out or glossed over in the undeserving tributes The Ego Of Us All received after she passed away.)

That message needs to be sent today. Robin is someone who will hear criticism and then make up her own mind after weighing it. I say that because I would never write so strongly about Gloria. (As everyone knows who knows me, I have no interest in criticizing Gloria.) With Gloria, any criticism is going to be evaluated but that's not the end of it. She tries so very hard to see every person's side that she hangs on to criticism forever (not in a "bitter" way -- but in a sincere "I could be wrong, I really need to think about this" type way). Robin (a wonderful person) is not like that. She can reflect on criticism such as what I am offering for a brief spell, make up her own mind and then she's done with it. She'll agree or disagree (in whole or part), but it's over for her. That's not saying she's "better" than Gloria or "worse." That's just saying they are two different types of personalities.

But to Gloria, it needs to be said: You were there to lead against homophobia in the late 60s and early 70s when it was sorely needed. Your work did so much to enlarge feminism and to make sure all were welcomed and all felt welcomed. I seriously do not believe any other woman (straight, gay or bi) could have accomplished what you did on that issue. You need to do that again because there is a very strong feeling among feminists at the grassroots level that not only are our leaders (and 'leaders') being silent as homophobia is utilized (and Barack used in South Carolina for the primaries and is using it now in swing states) and that the silence is going to do tremendous harm. For those feminists who are gay, it is especially appalling. They feel very estranged from a movement that they are a part of.

That's not surprising. When our leaders and 'leaders' cannot speak out against any candidate who uses homophobia, the movement has a problem far worse than the blind spot to Bob Packwood.

A presidential election happens every four years. Who ever gets elected gets elected (barring the Supreme Court stepping in or voter fraud). But the feminist movement, the longest movement (globally or nationally) cannot afford to send the message to any member of it, "It's really more important that we prop up this man than that we defend your rights."

Homophobia is disgusting. Failure to call it out leaves the impression that you agree with it.

Neither Robin nor Gloria are homophobes. And that's a statement I've had to make repeatedly when we have been on the road speaking to women's groups. (I have not made that statement for others who are more 'leaders' than leaders. They're on their own.) But my saying, "Robin's not a homophobe" or "Gloria's not a homophobe" is nothing but a bandaid that gets ripped off as women (straight and gay and bi) wait repeatedly for feminist leaders to call out the homophobia and it never happens.

Barack may be perfectly happy sending out homophobes as surrogates. He may feel that's a winning 'strategy' or 'tactic.' But feminists know it's disgusting and it's vile. We don't need leaders calling it out because we need an education on the issue. We need leaders calling it out because we need to know our leaders still know what the feminist movement is about.

The silence is creating ill will and what follows that is a very serious division. It needs to be addressed and feminist leaders need to make it clear that feminists stand together. Again, Gloria handled that wonderfully before. She can do so again. She needs to do it now. After the election? It's too late. Regardless of who gets elected, it's too late. Staying silent through the next few weeks will be seen as refusing to call out a man. When you combine homophobia and that silence, you get a very serious (and large) split in the feminist movement. This issue is not going away and silence has not 'addressed' it.

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 4172. Tonight? 4176. Just Foreign Policy lists 1,273,378 up from 1,267,401.

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