Polls are really good at one thing, creating jobs for people who like talking about polls:
Similarly, in things that do not matter:
Related Post: Is it Election Day yet?
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Today, I’m struggling with rah-rah “feminism.” I should also note that I have consumed several a beer and not enough nachos to offset those beers. This may not be my best work; you’ve been warned.
What is rah-rah-ism? It’s Ann Romney yelling “I love you women!” It’s politicians going on and on about how much they love and respect the women in their lives, their wives and daughters, without backing up their love and respect with policy and equality.
It’s tokenism, like we saw in tonight’s debate. Mitt Romney tried real hard, apparently, to find female candidates for the Massachusetts cabinet. He went out of his way, according to him, to solicit suggestions from women’s groups, to expand the pool. Admirable, right? What a decent guy.
The problem is that inequality will never be rectified by individual kindness or altruism. We cannot expect one guy, or one family, or one business to singlehandedly fix centuries of discrimination and prejudice, no matter how good their intentions are.
Mitt Romney needs to be asking why there was such a dearth of candidates for him to choose from. What are the barriers preventing women from creating the resumes that would have impressed him? What can we do to break those barriers for the next generation? It’s not on the shoulders of each governor to go out of their way to find a diverse staff, it’s on the shoulders of each of them to acknowledge that the roots of this disparity are deep and thorny.
We need holistic change. We need fundamental shifts in our understanding of work/life balance, for all parents. Remember Anne-Marie Slaughter’s piece about having it all? There is no space for equal, engaged parents at the upper echelons of most industries, a fact which impacts women more because of the division of housework and childcare. It doesn’t have to be this way. We need equal pay and a recourse to seek it when the numbers aren’t adding up. We need educational opportunities targeting women in fields in which they’re underrepresented. We need health care policies that allow families to strategize on the when and how to have children affordably and safely. I could go on, but you get the point.
During his Bill O’Reilly debate, Jon Stewart brought up Title IX as an example of Republicans ignoring the role of policy initiatives in progress. The Republicans cheered the success of American female athletes during the recent Olympics, but don’t seem to understand the relationship between that very success and the 1972 legislation that enabled it.
It’s not enough to say “rah rah,” to cheer for the occasional accomplishment of this woman or that woman, to point out the success stories where women triumphed despite the obstacles. Rah-rahs make you smile for a minute, perhaps engender some warm and fuzzy feelings, but they don’t solve problems.
Related Post: Happy Equal Pay Day
Related Post: Women need to stop apologizing
Is it Election Day yet? Pretty please? Don’t know if I can handle two more months of this b.s.
And b.s. it is, on both sides. Every day we are inundated by silly shit that just does not matter. One of my conservative FB friends posted this:
Times have changed, no doubt, but for better or for worse, daytime talk shows are one of the best ways to reach the masses. And after all, when you’re President, the masses are your constituency and you take every chance you get to talk directly to them. You know who else figured that out?
It feels like my desire to be an engaged citizen and a well-informed voter means I just have to sift through garbage all day to find out what’s really going on. So Mitt Romney said something dumb about airplane windows, who cares? Everyone misspeaks, and as much fun as liberals had making fun of Bush’s made-up words, I think we can all agree that that was not his greatest flaw as President.
This airplane thing, or making fun of Romney’s tan, or Obama going on The View, that’s all beside the point. The point, as I see it, is this:
In two months, we’re going to elect a President whose job it is to represent the United States on the world stage. The person we elect should be the one who most shares our values about what makes America special, about what we need to do differently, about what are the best paths to progress, and where that path should lead. I like a fine orator, too, but that’s not what this is about.
To my view, here’s how it boils down, though feel free to jump in on the comments if you see it differently:
Fundamentally, Democrats believe that there is systemic inequality in America’s history that has led to widespread inequality now. The government should not be blind to that history, and should work to assist populations that have been harmed in the past as well as create a level playing field moving forward. Social ills (drug dependency, crime, teen pregnancy, etc) are the results of lack of access to education, health care, etc and should be addressed with holistic approaches to poverty reduction. Democrats believe in autonomy of person, which means that individuals have the right to find their own happiness as long as it is not at the expense of society. The government should stay out of the private sphere, which means not regulating or incentivizing sexual behavior or family structure. Democrats believe that America is stronger for its immigrant history, and that our future strength is also tied to embracing diversity by facilitating the growth and education of immigrating and struggling populations.
Fundamentally, Republicans believe that America is a country where anyone can succeed if they try hard enough. Systemic inequality is an excuse for laziness and lack of ambition. Republicans believe that those who work can earn enough to feed themselves, clothe themselves, educate themselves, and keep themselves healthy. Social ills are largely the result of individual or community weakness and lack of discipline and should be punished harshly as a deterrent to others, not rewarded with extra social services. Republicans believe that a free market will, in the long run, create the best solutions for all Americans, even if it leaves some behind in the short term. Republicans believe that traditional family structures are good for the health of the country, and that the government does not have a responsibility for indulging individual life choices that deviate from that model. Republicans believe that resources should be directed to American citizens first, before supporting immigrants, and that Christianity is a fundamental feature (if not explicit) of Real America.
Am I oversimplifying? Yes. Am I biased? Yes. Does this do a disservice to some Democrats and some Republicans? Yes. But reading between all the silly b.s. about talk-shows, tanner, airplane windows, this is what I hear from both sides. The Americas they envision are very different places, and this election shouldn’t be about who flubs the fewest interview lines, whose wife is a better mom, who has the most adorable children, but about what you envision for 21st century America.
But, alas, I don’t make the rules.
Related Post: The fundamental political issue: sex.
Related Post: Huffington Post and the changing iconography of the abortion debate.
Here are the words I can muster today: rape culture, rape apology, pseudo-science, control, misogyny, autonomy, willful misunderstanding, violence, rights, disrespect, faux apology, faux sentimentality, faux outrage, faux, faux, faux, phony, fake. Arrange them as you see fit.
Here are some words by other people that are pretty interesting. Read when you have the time or the emotional energy to absorb them:
And then there’s this video by Taylor Ferrera which is amazing, and is the bright spot in this week’s thundercloud of horribleness:
Some people give up. Some people write long eloquent essays. Some people link to other people’s long eloquent essays. Other people sing songs.
Related Post: The changing iconography of abortion.
Related Post: Daniel Tosh.
Have you seen the front page of the Huffington Post today?
Yowza, kinda smacks you in the face, doesn’t it? I’m not a huge fan of journalistic sensationalism, of which this most certainly suffers, but sometimes the digital equivalent of stomping your feet and screaming at the top of your lungs is necessary.
The lack of a rape exemption is only the most egregious piece of an egregiously sexist platform. The fundamental problem here is that the Republican party (not all Republicans, mind you), does not value the autonomy of women over their reproductive health. You want fewer abortions? Promote comprehensive sex education. Help women afford birth control the way you help old men get erections. Block discrimination against gay and single parents who want to adopt. Give me social services that might actually help me raise a child if I chose to carry to term an unplanned pregnancy. Give me choice and agency.
Do you remember when the established iconography of the abortion debate was the clothes hanger? Neither do I. History books tell me that there was a point when ending back alley abortions and protecting women from harm was a respected goal. Do you remember when the mental, emotional and physical health of women were prioritized above the potential of a fetus? It was not that long ago.
For those of us born in the 80s, as far back as we can remember, the representative image of the abortion debate has been a bloody fetus. The pro-life movement has been very effective (kudos?) at convincing us all that the question we need to be asking no matter the circumstances of the pregnancy is “what about the baby?” It used to be, “what about the woman?” and the shifting popular imagery illustrates that ideological change.
Mike Huckabee went as far as to call out exemplary Americans who were the results of “forcible” rape, as if their contributions to our culture justified the suffering of their mothers. What about the women that hemorrhaged to death after clothes-hanger abortions? Might they have changed the world for the better? What about teenaged girls who didn’t get a chance at college because no one taught them how to not get pregnant and they were left with no options? Might they have cured cancer or written masterpieces or saved the world? Potential for greatness is not the unique province of unborn fetuses.
Related Post: The Republican Roadmap for Your Reproductive Future.
Related Post: Things that are not the opposite of misogyny.
Read the Texas Republican Party’s platform and all will be clear. It’s not the abstinence-only provisions that surprise me, or the gay-bashing, or the aversion to pre-school (Pre-school? Really?), it’s this that blows me away:
“Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”
Read it again. They don’t like education that challenges fixed beliefs and undermines parental authority. If you asked me to write out the purpose of education, I might come up with exactly that.
This attitude is borne out of fear and insecurity that the world is moving on without us. If we let all the minorities catch up to our kids with high-quality Pre-K education, they might compete with our kids for jobs some day! Yes! Yes they will! And won’t that be grand?
If our kids learn to challenge fixed beliefs, they may come to us someday and disagree. They might ask questions we don’t have easy answers to (about faith, and God, and family, and justice, and equality), and we might be forced to admit our bigotry, or at least our ignorance. How terrifying for us, but how necessary!
I hope with all my heart my kids are smarter than me. I will know I am succeeding as a parent when they are asking hard questions, and challenging the things they hear, and putting forth their own ideas about the world. The world will only get more complicated and I want my kids to be equipped to navigate it. That navigation is contingent on the question-asking, problem-solving, creative-thinking, challenging of assumptions that you learn from higher-order thinking skills. Who is going to help me navigate the brave new world if not my children? God knows I have enough trouble with today’s technology as it is!
So, to Texan Republicans, I say… buck up! Your children will be smarter than you, and they will ask you hard questions, and they will teach you new things about the ways of the world as it evolves. You should face them and their questions with respect, because, hey… they’re the future!
Related Post: Oh for the love of education, and student loans!
Related Post: Alfie Kohn on the value of “higher order thinking”