Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Woman: Feminists Care Too Much About Misogyny

I won't link to it but on Monday, The New Republic ran a horrendo anti-feminist piece (entitled "Moving Beyond Misogyny," if you want to look it up) in which a leftist woman critiqued "liberal feminists" for focusing too much on misogyny and not giving progressive men rape passes.

If you think I kid, here's a sample:

Here, the writer disingenuously acts like progressive men mostly do inconsequential, trivial things that feminists hysterically overreact to, and don't really engage in bigger things like rape, harassment, or predation. And yet, as a grown adult woman, this writer in all likelihood knows that progressive men, in reality, are as fully capable of heinous acts as conservative men are, and thus seems to instead be indirectly suggesting that feminists should ease up and give these men a pass because they're on "our" side.

Leftists today often claim the mantle of society's most enlightened political thinkers, so it might seem confounding to see them write and publish such retrograde "think pieces" that, with a few select edits, could just as easily be posted at rightwing forums like The American Conservative or Townhall

Things begin to make more sense once you understand that, in their hatred of "liberals," feminists, and identity politics, a lot of today's vocal leftists, far from being enlightened, are just sexually-liberal socialists who have internalized the conservative right's ideologies around race and gender. The end goal is more akin to redistributing wealth while keeping white supremacist rape culture intact, with the promise that things might be a bit better if it's progressive men at the top, rather than conservative.

The more general argument from this person's "thinkpiece" is that feminism today is a big depressing, victim-mentality downer because "misogyny feminists" (her term, sure) focus too much on, you guessed it, misogyny

If that doesn't want to make you guzzle vodka from a beer bong, I don't know what will.

Nevermind that that "argument" has been a standard rightwing "critique" of feminism for literal decades, emanating from such "socially-enlightened" sources as Phyllis Schlafly, but criticizing feminists for focusing too much on the hatred of women is as absurd as criticizing Black Lives Matter for focusing too much on racism, the LGBT rights movement for focusing too much on bigotry against LGBT people, or PETA for focusing too much on the ethical treatment animals.

This sort of critique, rather, is a good example of the feminist, misogynistic backlash in which we find ourselves. For, when one argues that highlighting, analyzing, and critiquing misogyny is something bad and unworthy of devoting time to, one is essentially arguing that one of feminists' more important, if not the most important, contributions to social justice should be eradicated. And that, my friends, would only benefit misogynists.

More broadly, we see that it's not just rightwing women who espouse anti-feminism. I think many women across the political spectrum look around and see the breadth and depth of misogyny in this political climate and come to the conclusion that joining in is simply the better deal. Why not, as a leftist woman, join in and help mainstream anti-feminist opinions about "liberal feminists"?

I'm also realizing that so much of the anti-feminist work that women across the political spectrum do consists of "defending" men from "the evil feminists." 

It's not lost on me, as just one example, that as the 2020 election gears up, a number of leftist women - including the author of this piece - have been "defending" Bernie Sanders and his male supporters by going after specific progressive feminists who are known to not support Bernie, as well as "liberal feminism" in general for its cardinal sin of promoting the notion that a woman can and should be president.

I suppose that is one way - having women attack women - to deal with the "Bernie Bro" narrative that has persisted since 2016. 

Another strategy, of course, would be for leftist Bernie fans, as well as his campaign, to try to unify with progressive feminists. But that's a bridge too far, apparently.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Electoral College: Watch Shit Get Real If It Happens To Bernie!

Yesterday on Twitter, I spent a fraction of the day being intrigued by a particular pro-Bernie perspective.

A history grad student wrote, "I think it’s tremendously underrated just how many young Americans will simply reject wholesale the legitimacy of the U.S. constitutional order if a Warren or a Sanders wins the popular vote in a landslide and Trump stays in office."

True enough, I suppose, although many folks like myself who came of age circa Bush v. Gore have been there since 2000. As I've written before, the Supreme Court's effective installation of George W. Bush into the presidency was, even at the time, a recognizable constitutional crisis and erosion of the legitimacy of the US Supreme Court, electoral college, and executive office. The abolition of the electoral college should have been a top progressive priority since at least then, especially as Republicans increasingly began adopting a McConnell-esque "win at any costs" approach to politics.

Two more revelatory statements followed in the Twitter thread, however. 

The first, the grad student continues, "If anything, I suppose this is an argument for Sanders, because he’s the only candidate I can imagine who would help organize mass protests—even a general strike—with his campaign infrastructure in the event of another anti-democratic election."

I... huh.


Here we see the popular narrative that, unlike other candidates who I suppose are supported by droids or Sim people or something, Bernie has "a movement" behind him.  That is one benefit, it seems, to a politician not being widely told to go knit in a cave for the rest of one's days after losing an election. Nonetheless, while Bernie has a base of support that seems to be neither growing nor shrinking, the reality is that whoever the Democratic nominee ends up being will, in all likelihood, consolidate support from the Democratic base during the general election.

However, the idea that such a protest has to, or should, be led by the "losing" candidate seems more like a pretext for arguing why "Bernie must be the Democratic nominee instead of Warren (or anyone else)."

After all, in 2016, an actual anti-democratic election, it was women - not Bernie Sanders - who organized, led, and participated in the largest single-day protests in US history, largely in response to Donald Trump's electoral college "win" and popular vote loss to Hillary Clinton (in addition to the fact that Trump is a racist, xenophobic admitted sexual predator).

And sure, because I know some people might be thinking it, Bernie was not the Democratic nominee in 2016 and thus some might say he had "no" responsibility to lead such protests, but why not? Why would he not have that moral responsibility now, in fact, when there are kids in concentration camps, when sexual predators are in the White House and on SCOTUS, when climate change poses an existential threat to our planet, or any myriad of issues beyond "I got an election stolen from me so now it's a crisis"?

The other interesting note about this opinion is that we already have historical precedent for how Bernie would react to real and perceived anti-democratic elections. 

In the 2016 primaries, of course, many of his supporters believe he only lost the primary to Hillary Clinton because it was "rigged" against him. Yet, while Bernie did little to put that narrative to rest, he also didn't organize protests against the "unfairness." To me, that suggests he wanted to devote his energies elsewhere, he didn't really believe it was rigged, and/or he correctly ascertained that such protests would be a distraction from the more important goal of defeating Trump.

Thus, to think that Bernie, an almost-80-year-old man who just had a heart attack, by the way, might lose to Trump in 2020 and then lead the nation in revolutionary protests seems like more of the extremely-bizarre leftist magical thinking around "the Bernie movement" in light of the reality that what Bernie Sanders did during the national crisis of the 2016 election aftermath was: went on a book tour, made a lot of money, and never stopped campaigning for president.

But, in light of everything, I'm especially curious what this grad student thinks would be different and, specifically, more effective about a Bernie Sanders-led protest, compared to the Women's March, after his hypothetical electoral college loss to Trump in 2020, other than the fact that this hypothetical mass protest would be led by a white man who some segments of the left have anointed as their savior.

Here, we turn to The Nation's David Klion, who says, in the second revelatory statement of the thread (emphasis added), "It’s like... imagine how 2016 felt, except this time we also like the candidate and they won by an even bigger popular margin. I already think the constitutional order is indefensible! And I’m regularly shocked that not every other thinking person does!"

A-ha! And there it is.

Some Bernie fans simply can't fathom that a large segment of the Women's March protestors were motivated by actually liking Hillary Clinton.  So, a Bernie March in 2020, they believe, would be different and special and effective because people like Bernie, unlike History's Greatest Monster Hillary Clinton, and people would therefore see it as America's Greatest Travesty if Bernie won the popular vote but lost the electoral college to Trump. And, they - The Left - are serious, important political actors in the world, unlike the - from their perspective - vapid wine moms who marched in their ridiculous pink pussy hats hashtag resistance.

To that point, in retrospect, I will just offer my opinion that it was quite possibly the Bernie-adjacent consolidation of leadership over the national Women's March brand that has dampened its reach and effectiveness over the past 3+ years. Regardless of the leadership's motivations, which I do not know, it became hard to trust a movement that appeared to be trying to funnel progressive women's support, not toward general progressive politics and progressive female candidates, but toward a polarizing man's 2020 presidential campaign (Bernie Sanders. I'm talking about Bernie Sanders).

But, from a bigger picture, "Vote for Bernie in the primary, so he can lead mass protests after he loses to Trump" is not actually the ringing endorsement one might think it is.

The electoral college should be abolished. We need an actual plan and path to make that happen, not vague, regressive mumbling among leftists about how an old cranky male politician's likeability will cause the revolution.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Quote of the Day - Lithwick On Not Getting Over Kavanaugh

Dahlia Lithwick's piece in Slate about her refusal to get over Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the US Supreme Court is very, very good and worth reading in its entirety, first and foremost in my opinion because she is the rare mainstream journalist today who refuses to both normalize or be entertained by the Trump regime's atrocities.

She writes:
"The enduring memory, a year later [after Kavanaugh's rage-filled testimony], is that my 15-year-old son texted—he was watching it in school—to ask if I was 'perfectly safe' in the Senate chamber. He was afraid for the judge’s mental health and my physical health. I had to patiently explain that I was in no physical danger of any kind, that there were dozens of people in the room, and that I was at the very back, with the phalanx of reporters. My son’s visceral fears don’t really matter in one sense, beyond the fact that I was forced to explain to him that the man shouting about conspiracies and pledging revenge on his detractors would sit on the court for many decades; and in that one sense, none of us, as women, was ever going to be perfectly safe again."
It's a nuanced essay, acknowledging that the female members of the court, who all lean more liberal than Kavanaugh, have to at least perform "getting over it" if they ever hope to have even the slim possibility of the vengeful Kavanaugh siding with them on matters of national importance for potential decades to come.

That doesn't mean, however, that we all have to be okay with his presence on the Court, even though - like Lithwich - I despair that the general public largely is by now.

It's also not lost on me that George W. Bush, who lost the popular vote in the 2000 election, appointed two conservatives of his own to the Supreme Court. Trump, loser of the 2016 popular vote, has thus far appointed two.

Angry, sexually-predatory, and entitled man-babies on the Court notwithstanding, that 4 out of 9 members of the nation's high court have been appointed by deeply-unpopular men who lost the national popular vote will one day be more widely acknowledged as a significant erosion of the legitimacy of the court, particularly in terms of public opinion.

If that's not depressing enough, Trump is very soon set to have appointed a full quarter of the nation's federal appeals court judges, the level just below the Supreme Court. These courts and judges generally get far less attention than the Supreme Court, but this statistic is incredibly alarming for many reasons, a key one of which is that the vast majority of federal court cases never actually reach the Supreme Court and Donald Trump is a misogynist white supremacist who lacks the judgment and temperament to be making  appointments of such importance.

Related: Gilead of Republicans Stand by Their Man, Kavanaugh

Friday, October 25, 2019

Supercorps Friday and Kara's Big Coming Out Moment

Just two heterosexual gals having a completely heterosexual conversation about their 100% heterosexual friendship:

I know I'm really gay, but in all seriousness, I find it nearly impossible to view Kara coming out to Lena as Supergirl as anything other than Kara professing her longstanding love for Lena. It's actually so obvious it feels silly saying out loud.

If Kara had just said, "I'm Supergirl" and left it at that, and Lena then expressed surprise, and they both moved on, one could maybe buy that this convo was solely a superhero-identity revelation.

But, Kara continues by saying, "I've always been Supergirl." The "always" comment is weird, right? Was there ever a possibility, for instance, that multiple people were pretending to be Supergirl and that Kara was only Supergirl for part of the time Supergirl has been around? No. Of course not. "I'm Supergirl" is clearly a stand-in for "I'm [in love with you.] I've always been [in love with you.]" because that's a somewhat standard line when TV/film characters are finally revealing undying love to a crush.

Also, I haven't fully bought Kara's angst about revealing her identity to Lena. Over the course of the previous four seasons, she has revealed her identity to many people, including those she has known for less time and initially has less reason to trust than Lena. The angst and fear in two canonically-hetero characters appears, on-screen, to stem more from feelings akin to, "Oh shit. I'm 'straight.' You're 'straight.' We're in love and I'm not sure how to handle it."

Lena's reaction, for instance, is hardly measured. She's left speechless, initially, and then goes up in front of a crowd and improvises a super touching speech about her "best friend."

Like the early seasons of Xena, it's clearly a same-sex romance that the powers-that-be are presenting in such a way that can plausibly (I guess?) be read as platonic by some viewers and subtextually queer by others, thus sort-of not fully pleasing or offending either camp.

In conclusion, I'll continue to monitor the situation. Um, for science.

Friday, October 11, 2019

CNN LGBTQ Townhall

I didn't catch all of last night's CNN LGBTQ Townhall, but I wanted to post about it nonetheless.

First, I want to note that the forum itself was meaningful. It was only in 2008 that, following 8 years of the Bush Administration stoking anti-LGBTQ bigotry for Republican political gain, that frontrunner Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton did not publicly support marriage equality because that political position was not (or was not seen as) political viable for a presidential candidate to hold.

And yes, many LGBTQ people understood that both Obama and Clinton likely supported marriage equality privately and would be supportive once in office. History has proven that to be the case.

To have a slate of Democratic candidates affirming their support of LGBTQ issues in 2019, of which marriage equality is just one of many, is progress in and of itself.

Participating candidates included (in their order of appearance): Cory Booker,  Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Beto O'Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and Tom Steyer. Per CNN, Bernie Sanders had originally accepted an invite to participate, but eventually declined due to his recent heart attack.

As far as the content itself, Biden had a couple weird moments and continues to appear confused and easily-rattled when speaking, as in the first debates, including a clip where he stumbles and starts talking about how when he "came out."
I thought Booker, Buttigieg, Warren, Harris, O'Rourke, Klobuchar, and Castro did well, overall (and I refuse to discuss Steyer and his vanity campaign) and any of them (including Biden) would be better than the Trump/Pence shitshow on LGBTQ rights.

In a way, it always feels weird to analyze these debates and townhalls on a super granular level. The networks and foreign agents want Americans to get sucked into infighting about endless candidate dramas even though, meanwhile, to quote comedian John Mulaney, THERE'S A HORSE LOOSE IN THE HOSPITAL.

That's not to say the details don't matter. They do. And those analyses should happen, and the discussions about LGBTQ issues should be driven by LGBTQ advocates, not bad actors on social media or the usual cishet pundits who dominate our national political conversations.

From a big picture standpoint, the 2020 Democratic Primary is going to have to be about finding that balance between pushing our candidates to be the best they can be on the issues, while never losing sight of the fact that profoundly dangerous men are currently in charge of our Executive Branch, Supreme Court, and Senate.

In conclusion, I've watched this clip approximately 57 time and I get approximately 12% more gay every time:

Talk about this, or whatever, it's Friday!