Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Social Media and Disinformation Watch #2

Over at Shakesville, I have a new piece up as part of my ongoing series on social media and disinformation. Check it out!

Friday, March 15, 2019

My Very Important Thoughts About Beto

From Twitter:


From the Vanity Fair piece, Beto says he was "born to be in it."

And yes, he's aware that our political system has long been dominated by white men. It seems to trouble him. Just not enough for him to step back and support a woman for the top job, of course.

Meanwhile,"I guess he'll do, 2020."


In all honesty, I know little about Beto other than what I've gleaned from his Wikipedia page and that glossy Vanity Fair profile. I don't actually even hate him, even though it might seem like it.

His run against Ted Cruz in Texas was impressive. I just don't immediately find him inspiring as a candidate for president and a lot of the mania seems to be that he's a shiny, charming, handsome white male face. That will work in his favor, even as the mainstream press acts like it's a "liability" to be a white male Democratic politician these days.

I'm repelled by his talk about how he thinks he'd uniquely be able to work with Republicans, as it seems incredibly naive to think Republican politicians are acting in good faith in the era of Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell. That talk, of course, could be a strategy to garner support from white Republican voters.

Woo!

Also, I wasn't a fan of his video, particularly the placement of his wife as a mute, adoring supporter.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Quiet, Revisited

NPR ran a story last week about the song "Quiet," which women performed at the 2017 Women's March and subsequently went viral.

Two years later and I still tear up whenever I hear the song and get chills thinking about my experience at the Women's March. During that first protest, I felt hopeful for the first time since the 2016 election about our capacity to resist and endure Trump's Republican rule, after weeks of profound sadness, anger, and fear.

During these past two years of actually living through it, I've wavered now and then. We continue to live in a moment of both feminist resurgence and deep backlash, as we've done throughout our nation's history. More than ever, I believe that justice will never be a "one and done" thing, but something each generation will have to continually strive for. And, just as important, every gain must be vigilantly protected and never taken for granted.

I desperately want a progressive woman to win the presidency in the United States. I don't know if it will happen in my lifetime, particularly as so many on the left remain just as resentful of "identity politics" and threatened by women's progress as those on the right. I may not see that anytime soon, even in my lifetime, perhaps.

At the same time, we've seen a record number of women in the House of Representatives, as a result of the 2018 mid-term elections. That is no small thing.

Two years ago, I wrote that I had hoped the moderate-to-left side of the political spectrum could unite in their opposition to Trump. I think that has happened in some ways, but not in others. Perhaps this is too much of a generalization but a significant division seems to rest on whether our strategy should be defeating Trump vs. whether we need to defeat Trump and also usher in the socialist revolution at the same time.

The former assumes that it will be enough of a challenge to defeat Trump. The latter assumes that 2020 will be an easy election, so we may as well make the most of it. I have grave doubts about that logic, given the existential threat Trump poses to our democracy.

Fox News essentially acts as the Trump/Republican state media channel, brainwashing millions of rightwing Americans. They are already now hate-obsessed with Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and have amped up the socialist fear-mongering now that the mainstream media has anointed Bernie Sanders as the leader of the Democratic Party. I also have serious doubts as to whether the 2020 election will be free and fair. And, even if a Democrat were to win, I question whether Trump would ever concede. Remember, in 2016, he had already primed Americans for drawn-out battle, if he lost, to contest what he was calling an election "rigged" for his opponent.

A lot of this danger seemed more obvious in 2017, as Trump opponents united in staunch opposition to him. Despite whatever internal conflicts we may have had with one another, I think many people were alarmed by the norms he had already violated. What changed? Have Americans become inured and numb to his transgressions? Does the US not look like what they think an authoritarian regime stereotypically looks like? Do people think it hasn't been as bad as they thought it would be? Have people given up on a female president out of fear, and are investing hope in a white male savior? Do they truly think the Democrats are worse, or just simply weak?

I don't know. I remain fearful, angry, hopeful, and inspired.


Related:
Friday Feeling: Political Music

Monday, March 11, 2019

Stop Trying To Make "Partisan Prejudice" Happen

What is the moral imperative Americans have to "tolerate" people with with different political views than us, and in what contexts does this imperative extend?

The Atlantic ran a series of pieces last week on the concept of partisan prejudice implicitly arguing that Democrats ought to broadly "tolerate" Republicans in virtually all spheres of life, and vice versa.

It turns out I had some thoughts about these pieces, which I shared today over at Shakesville. Check it out!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

"You Can't Have It All"

That's the title of a poem, by Barbara Ras, the entirety of which can be read here.  Here's a snippet that I particularly like:

"...[W]hen adulthood fails you,
you can still summon the memory of the black swan on the
pond
of your childhood, the rye bread with peanut butter and
bananas
your grandmother gave you while the rest of the family slept.
There is the voice you can still summon at will, like your
mother’s,
it will always whisper, you can’t have it all,
but there is this."

The obvious reading is to be grateful for what we have, because life is impermanent and fleeting. Yet somehow, the poem doesn't lecture us about it. In a way, it simply speaks to perhaps the most basic condition of our existence. You can't have forever, but you can have this moment.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Quote of the Day

So says the Chicago Tribune's Steve Chapman, on Bernie Sanders:
"Policy is not everything. Trump has reminded Americans that in the Oval Office, qualities such as restraint, moderation, good humor and flexibility are indispensable. These are not traits generally attributed to Sanders. He brings to mind Winston Churchill’s description of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles as a bull who carries his own china shop around with him."
Working in Bernie's favor, though, is that white men can get away with that shit. What are dealbreaker traits for female politicians - being a cantankerous asshole chief among them - are often seen as strength, authenticity, and charm in old white guys.


Friday, March 1, 2019

Femslash Friday: Broad City - Abslie

Abbi and Dr. Leslie, played by Clea DuVall.

Yes please:



I'm not sure what exactly Leslie is doing for those awkward few seconds when she turns her back on Abbi, other than obviously waiting to be asked out, but it's fuckin' funny.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

United Methodists Choose LGBT Discrimination

Via Emma Green at The Atlantic, the United Methodist Church has voted to tough prohibitions on same-sex marriage and LGBT clergy:
"This was a surprise: The denomination’s bishops, its top clergy, pushed hard for a resolution that would have allowed local congregations, conferences, and clergy to make their own choices about conducting same-sex marriages and ordaining LGBT pastors. This proposal, called the One Church Plan, was designed to keep the denomination together. Methodist delegates rejected their recommendations, instead choosing the so-called Traditional Plan that affirmed the denomination’s teachings against homosexuality."
This is disappointing. And, as the article goes on to note, "It’s also a reminder that many Christian denominations, including mainline groups like the UMC, are still deeply divided over questions of sexuality and gender identity."

White Christian conservatives comprise Donald Trump's base and continue to overwhelmingly support him, with 71% viewing him favorably as a person as of late January 2019.  We have secular marriage equality in the US for same-sex couples, and the political will and mobilization seems to be lacking even as our rights remain under constant attack by the Trump/Pence administration and religious organizations.

Parts of the center-to-left side of the political spectrum seems to be living under this fantasy that conservative Christians will simply convert to socialism once they hear the right politician give the right speech that speaks to their economic anxieties, but that fantasy overlooks the faith-based reasons, such as they are, that many people support Republican politicians.



Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Social Media and Disinformation Watch, #1

In light of the role that disinformation, particularly on social media, played in the U.S. 2016 presidential election, I thought it would be prudent to start a semi-regular roundup of news items related to disinformation and social media as we look toward 2020.

This new series will be posted at Shakesville. Check out the first post!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The L Word Sequel is Happening

The Hollywood Reporter has run an interview with Marja-Lewis Ryan, showrunner for Showtime's L Word sequel set to debut later this year.

(YESSSSSSSS!)

Ryan also wrote and starred in the movie The Four-Faced Liar. Even though it had an ambiguous ending, I liked that movie, as it resonated with my experience of being a young queer woman in the aughts, going out a lot, and making questionable relationship choices.

In the interview, Ryan talks of coming of age as a fan of the original show and how she pitched the sequel to be more representative of Los Angeles and the queer community.

I'm interested to see where the sequel goes in her hands and, honestly, it just feels like a big win these days that the series didn't go to Joss Whedon or some other Feminist (cough) Ally Man.

Of note, Jennifer Beals, Katherine Moennig, and Leisha Hailey, all of whom starred in the original series, are returning.

(YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!)

I'm excited.  

The L Word was an important cultural moment for many queer women during its run. It premiered in 2004. That same year, George W. Bush had become president, in part, as a result of directly stoking anti-gay bigotry. If you remember, voters passed bans on same-sex marriage in 11 out of 11 states on which they were on the ballot that year.

It truly felt like queers were under attack from conservatives and our own government. As many queer women huddled in bars and living rooms, shushing each other so we could hear the narrative on-screen, collectively watching The L Word felt like an act of resistance and a respite from the outside world.

I know not everyone within the queer community had that experience with the show, and I understand that.

I also think an artifact of pop culture can be both meaningful to some within a marginalized community while also not speaking to others. The current showrunner seems aware of the limitations of the original series and I hope she and the other decisionmakers address them in ways that are responsive to people's concerns.

In conclusion, I liked Jenny.

She 100% gave the best monologue in the entire series right here.


Related: L Word Revival Selects Showrunner

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

On "Bernie vs. Centrists"

I obviously have not chosen a preferred 2020 candidate yet and it would strike me as absurd to do so this early.

Generally speaking, it would be great if someone could put me in a cryo-pod and wake me up in about 50 years. I say that because Bernie Sanders is running again, and while I would vote for him over Donald Trump, I almost certainly would not vote for him in a Democratic Primary.

With progressives running, including Elizabeth Warren, it's hard for me to see the point of him running. His entry makes me wary for multiple reasons. He stayed in the 2016 race long after it was clear he had lost, suggesting he will likely do so again. His campaign was aided by Russian agents and he's praised by Donald Trump. He didn't "almost" win in 2016 and yet many people continue to think he did, or that the DNC and Hillary Clinton bamboozled the win away from him, while he just silently lets people think that.

I think Sanders does have strong appeal for leftist, moderate, and rightwing people, particularly white ones, who both dislike Trump and are uncomfortable with voting for a woman and/or person of color for president. So, that's something, and it's not even a small thing. But, I'm not sure that's enough to win a Democratic Primary.

I also suspect that Sanders and his team know that in a diverse field of candidates, misogyny and racism will do a lot of heavy lifting in Sanders' favor, although it's nothing he/they would ever acknowledge, as Sanders habitually condescends like a white male college freshman when pontificating about representation in politics.


 As I've noted on Twitter previously, the mainstream media often frames the Democratic Party as consisting of the so-called Bernie left vs. Centrists, ceding that Sanders is the standard-bearer for progressivism in the US and that everyone who doesn't like him is simply "more conservative" than him and his supporters.

It is endlessly infuriating and gaslighting.

This article is a good example of the way so many in the media falsely frame the Democratic Party as consisting of the so-called Bernie left vs. the establishment centrists, which is a frame that is largely pushed by Bernie supporters. https://t.co/QHcjvVfDmH
Meanwhile, the many people who are both progressive and distrustful of Sanders, and his die-hard fans, are almost never mentioned, nor are our reasons for being distrustful, such as prominent leftists' history of misogyny and racism, and Sanders' habitual gaslighting with respect to identity politics.

The Bernie left vs. Centrists frame erases literal millions of voters and Democrats. It's simply not grounded in reality. Some people are neither Bernie fans nor centrist, but the very term "leftist" has come to be centered around Bernie Sanders in the US.

We will never have a broad, united progressive movement if that reality is not acknowledged. And, unfortunately, I question how many members of the Online Left even care about building a broad movement. Why do that when you can dunk on "centrists" all day for not liking Bernie, after all?

Relatedly, almost every feminist blogger I know still has leftist online stalkers/harassers who hate us for not liking Bernie Sanders.

I also question the oft-stated Internet nugget of wisdom that Sanders has single-handedly moved the Democratic Party to the left. But, let's concede that point for the moment. If "Centrist Dems" are indeed following Sanders like lemmings off a socialist cliff, then he should bear the brunt of the blame if/when Trump successfully red-baits all of the purportedly latent-socialists-in-waiting/economically anxious ordinary white people who comprise the Trump base into voting Republican once again.

I know a lot of Internet leftists barely pay attention to Republicans, since they are keen to thinking Democrats are The Real Enemy,  but Republicans are rightwingers are already amping up the anti-socialist propaganda. Rightwing Christian and JD Vance fanboy Rod Dreher, for instance, is currently pitching an anti-socialist book. The Fox News crowd has a regular hate-obsession with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Democratic candidates better start putting a strategy in place beyond thinking that everyone will just agree with them if people only learn more about socialism.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Here I Am, World

I have started reading poetry again. I used to read poetry regularly and somewhere along the way, most likely during law school a long time ago, I stopped. I used to write it sometimes even, although thank the gods there are no electronic copies of it left.

I've come back to it, recently, in a time of grief, loss, anger, and political upheaval, simply because I need something more than, or perhaps different from, the ephemeral, constant outrage culture of modern social media discourse. I have felt unmoored from social justice activism, as so much of it seems completely counterproductive and cruel. I've been rethinking and contemplating what I even want this space to be, going forward, hence the light posting as of late.

I am so constantly angry that I sometimes have forgotten what I was angry about mere weeks ago. And yet, if I'm not angry, I'm not paying attention, and I simultaneously refuse to be apathetic during this political moment.

Sometimes, living feels like we're in the worst of times, in which rape culture patriarchy has infested every nook on this earth - including the most "progressive" - with people making cowardly acquiescences to its power over and over and over again.

At the same time, I still somehow feel that we are living in sacred, borrowed time.

Sometimes, poetry helps me process things when I'm not able to completely process them from a left-brain, linear perspective - or when I'm exhausted from doing so.

Presently, I'm been slowly reading Andrea Gibson's recent collection, Lord of the Butterflies, savoring one poem a day, rather than rushing through it. (Note, Gibson also goes by Andrew, but I've used Andrea since that's the name under which they've published this book and continue to use professionally).  The following sampling, from "Ode to the Public Panic Attack," shows the political commentary and wit that comprises many of the works in this collection:
..[W]e treat panic, anxiety, terror
as the failings of uncourageous minds
who haven't sipped enough chamomile tea

or haven't tattooed Namaste
onto the right part of their windpipe
or haven't picked enough lavender

from their herb gardens
to rub into their
pussy chakra.

A white yogi tells me I can breathe
through the apocalypse in my bloodstream
and I do 6,000 downward dogs

and never stop feeling
the choke of the leash.
I'm done

with the shame. Done
with the cage of self hate. The lie
that this is weakness

when I am certain it is the mightiest proof
of my strength, how hard it is to live
knowing there's a promised jaw

outside my front door
and I still step toward that horror.
Still I say, Here I am, world!
More to come.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Catholic Sex Abuse: Male Leaders Abuse Nuns Too

CBS News reports (emphasis added):
 "Nuns have suffered and are still suffering sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests and bishops, and even being held as sexual slaves, Pope Francis confirmed on Tuesday. The abuse was so severe in one case that an entire congregation of nuns was dissolved by former Pope Benedict.
The scope of the abuse of nuns by clergy members first came to light with the publication at the beginning of February of the monthly magazine 'Women Church World.' The edition included Francis' own take on the scandal -- long known about by the Vatican but virtually never discussed -- in which he blamed the unchecked power wielded by priests and higher clergy across the Catholic Church for such crimes."
Isn't it interesting that the Catholic Church remains so committed to male leadership that, rather than dissolving its abusive, raping male priesthood, it would dissolve instead the women who these men had victimized?

This is a regular reminder that the Catholic Church is not a progressive institution and neither is its current leader.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Nah, I think We Will Scrutinize Comedians

Admitted workplace sexual harasser Louis CK continues to accept invitations to do "comedy" shows across the country. Most recently, he's in San Jose, California, joking about "retarded" people, dead babies, 9/11, and how he likes to masturbate in front of people.

What I want people to understand is that, at this point, when people watch Louis CK perform, they're no longer watching comedy.

They're watching a man be rewarded and applauded for banal cruelty while they maintain a collective pretense that his work is edgy, and they - the audience - are cerebral for "getting it" when other people "don't," when what they're all really doing is simply colluding together in rape culture.

Kudos to the people there protesting Louis CK's putrid, unapologetic presence.

It's certainly braver and more ethical than the statement put out by the folks at San Jose Improv, justifying giving this loser abuser a platform (emphasis added):
 “We want [artists] to perform without scrutiny,” according to the statement. “We trust that our audiences can decide for themselves what their limits are. We understand that not everyone will agree with our decision and we respect their right to protest. We also respect Louis C.K.’s right to perform.”
It's funny how it's never women, queers, and/or people of color who are given this special entitlement by the powers-that-be to perform "without scrutiny."  I mean wow. WOW.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Third Reich, Trump, and The Gravedigger of American Democracy

From the October 25, 2018 New York Review of Books, Christopher Downing compares and contrasts the Trump Administration to the Third Reich:
"If the US has someone whom historians will look back on as the gravedigger of American democracy, it is Mitch McConnell. He stoked the hyperpolarization of American politics to make the Obama presidency as dysfunctional and paralyzed as he possibly could. As with parliamentary gridlock in Weimar, congressional gridlock in the US has diminished respect for democratic norms, allowing McConnell to trample them even more. Nowhere is this vicious circle clearer than in the obliteration of traditional precedents concerning judicial appointments. Systematic obstruction of nominations in Obama’s first term provoked Democrats to scrap the filibuster for all but Supreme Court nominations. Then McConnell’s unprecedented blocking of the Merrick Garland nomination required him in turn to scrap the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations in order to complete the 'steal'' of Antonin Scalia’s seat and confirm Neil Gorsuch. The extreme politicization of the judicial nomination process is once again on display in the current Kavanaugh hearings.

One can predict that henceforth no significant judicial appointments will be made when the presidency and the Senate are not controlled by the same party. McConnell and our dysfunctional and disrespected Congress have now ensured an increasingly dysfunctional and disrespected judiciary, and the constitutional balance of powers among the three branches of government is in peril."
So much of the harm Trump has caused, especially on the US Supreme Court, was enabled by Mitch McConnell.

During the tail-end of 2018, I read William L. Shirer's multi-volume The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and what I'll add to Downing's observations is that a lot of really bad men in Hitler's administration have received props for "resistance" when they basically stood around with their dicks in their hands taking no action with meaningful consequences in the real world while millions of people were slaughtered.

The media narratives today, as they have been for our nation's entire history, continue to be shaped by shitty men. Today's incarnations are those who are Very Impressed by men like Mitt Romney who "resist" Trump in the most tepid ways imaginable given their power and status while the ordinary people who put way more on the line resisting are largely ignored or ridiculed as pussy-hat wine moms.

My other observation, also noted by Downing, is that Hitler had no single opposition leader who the country could rally around as an alternative. Conservatives were happy to rally behind him because their interests aligned with his enough, and when he went too far they couldn't, or chose not to, stop him. The center-to-left side of the political spectrum remained fragmented, with Communists continuing to act like moderates, rather than Nazis, were the real enemy and true barrier to progress. Far be it from me to suggest we coronate an opposition leader to Trump in 2020, but approximately 53 people running in the Democratic presidential primary doesn't seem like a great idea either.

My final observation at the moment is that Shirer talked a lot about the narrative that so many ordinary Germans tolerated, even welcomed, the Nazis because they were humiliated by the Treaty of Versailles. That struck me as sort of like the mythical narrative that ordinary Americans voted for Trump because they are economically anxious. Maybe a lot of ordinary Germans, like Americans, were simply bad, immoral people.


Related: 
America: The Broken

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Further Thoughts On the Sisterhood

As we gear up for the 2020 election, I was re-reading some of the stuff I wrote in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election, particularly my Election 2016 Fallout series.

Here's me, on white women's complicity, two years ago:

---

This loss is largely on white people, who disproportionately supported Trump while minority groups rejected him. We also saw white women voting against their own interests for a racist misogynist candidate.

Despite that, I also refuse to demonize white women more than white men.

I mean, really, the pieces that instantly came out about white women "selling out the sisterhood"? Yeah, they did. And people are surprised by this why, again? Oh, right, because nobody fucking listens to feminists, that's why. EVEN THOUGH it's the sad lesson from The Handmaid's Tale (1985): The very worst, most patriarchal, racist dystopia would not exist without the complicity of privileged classes of women.

Men alone cannot make racism and sexism "work." It is always a tangled knot. Forgive the circularity here, but many women hate women because women are hated. White women have a long history of benefiting via their kinship and marriages to racist, misogynist white men. It pays to be a cool non-feminist girl, for a time anyway. ("Trump can grab my pussy," boasted one Trump supporter, who both completely misunderstands the consent element of things and perhaps thinks her offering will insulate her from even worse misogyny than what she sees around her, inflicted on "other" women).

And this sweet, fresh hell in The Nation? In it, the author argues that white working class women in particular rejected Clinton because Clinton spent too much time cozying up to Lena Dunham and Big Feminism, whatever the fuck that is, when she should have been promoting:
"...[A] robust economic agenda focused on women’s needs: a $15 minimum wage, universal child care and pre-K, paid family leave, free college, and tough laws that crack down on wage theft and guarantee fair scheduling and equal pay for women."
You know, the very policies Clinton supported, to varying degrees, had anyone in the media stopped talking about her emails for 10,000 straight days and actually fucking covered them.

Sure, everyone has their theories about whose fault this is.

What seems clear is that white men are almost completely being given up on as people who can contribute to the electorate as anything other than angry beings who must be coddled and centered lest they elect nightmare authoritarians to make life hell for everyone else.

Example: An actual think piece in The New York Times, which I won't link to but is titled "The End of Identity Liberalism," sneers at the "failure" of liberalism's "narcissistic" "identity politics." Here's my summary of this piece and the dozens like them I've seen: As Trump fills his cabinet with KKK-supported white guys, white guys everywhere think liberalism has failed them because liberals talk too much about race and gender.

And so, the twin narratives about white people are that we ought to empathize with white male feelings of aggrievement while being disgusted at white female complicity. That, my friends, is just another fucked-up misogynistic fallout from this shit-show of an election that I refuse to indulge.

---

My addition to this piece, now two years later is about The Women's March, which I was initially very excited about as a movement to channel women's anger and feminist resurgence.

Many of the women who marched, in my experience, were angry and somewhat-traumatized by the election of Trump and the misogyny we watched Hillary Clinton endure during the race. Relatedly, Trump's election is a symbol of white male supremacy, and very specifically female subordination, in the United States.

I had long known that prominent national leaders of The Women's March had supported Bernie Sanders and seemed to, I'll just say, not be fans of Hillary Clinton. They excluded specific reference to Hillary Clinton's historic run in communications about the March, which always seemed like a major disconnect from the rage and pain many women were feeling very specifically about how the mainstream media and Hillary's competitors treated her.

I have always wondered why seemingly anti-Hillary folks were chosen as leaders of a movement that was largely catalyzed by Hillary Clinton, and had been uneasy about it, but staying united against the Trump regime has always struck me as more important than letting that bother me too much 

A little over a year ago, I wrote of some of the intra-feminist conflicts within The Women's March, and specifically the decision some on the national team then made to invite Bernie Sanders to speak at the Women's Convention in Detroit in 2017, with some of their initial communications suggesting a sort of center-stage role for Bernie at this women's event. To me, it seemed like a decision that simply didn't think very highly of a not insignificant number of Women's March supporters - and the resulting criticism bore that out. For the leaders to virtually ignore, and thereby diminish, the historic nature of Clinton's run while continually lauding one of her white male opponents was bound to alienate many women.

Now, I think the best I can say is that I'm not even sure how relevant the national leaders are to the numerous local Women's March groups or the many women doing progressive, feminist work across the country, in their communities, and on social media.

From reports I've been reading, I think some factions of the left at best have very strange, gaslighting definitions of intersectionality that posit that only certain forms of identity-based oppression are valid for progressives to focus on at the moment and that if a person isn't that identity then they are a political neophyte, and an all-around shit person, who has nothing to contribute to the movement.

Somewhere around half of the white women who voted in 2016 voted for Trump and the left has been in a moral panic about it ever since. That statistic is also now used to treat white women as a monolithically-privileged class of conservative monsters, regardless of whether we're progressive and/or also poor, queer, trans, old, fat, disabled, or non-Christian. White privilege is real, even for women. And, many people have simply given up on trying to adeptly talk about people who have white privilege while also being oppressed along other axes of identity.

White Feminist used to mean a non-intersectional feminist, but it has quickly come to mean "any women who is white and has an opinion about something," such that now progressive white women are in the same category of "feminist" as Ann Coulter, which you'd think would render the whole fucking concept null and void among any person with a rational thought in their brain but here we are. And, even many progressive feminists have internalized this thinking.

It must be an MRA's dream come true.

In many ways, I have felt very disconnected from politics on the left, right, and center for the past couple of years, with a few exceptions. All of this is part of the backlash. Women have so many pressures to "forever cancel" other, flawed women, when men rarely do the same to each other.

Every generation of women will have to endure this, I believe, as the reasons women are given to hate themselves and each other, including and especially the "progressive social justice" reasons, continue to adapt to every gain feminists make.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Keep Your Trickle-Down White Male Socialist Revolution

Over at Shakesville, I wrote about the Bernie revolution, and recent revelations about allegations of sexual harassment on his 2016 campaign:
"So, how was it that Bernie Sanders, champion of the ordinary worker, had by his own admission "inadequate" procedures to deal with sexual harassment for the many ordinary people working on his presidential campaign?

Could it have been that Bernie seemed to think that the outcome — the revolution — could trump process; that is, how the revolution was won?

Now, some folks are waiving away these allegations by saying that women are harassed on all campaigns, but that strikes me as an argument to hold our leaders more accountable, not less. I would think the standards would be especially high for a politician, like Bernie, who consistently frames himself as not residing in the same swamp as the rest of America's political class."
Read the whole thing!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

This Is Fine

Greg Miller at The Washington Post reports:
"President Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials, current and former U.S. officials said.

...

The constraints that Trump imposed are part of a broader pattern by the president of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny and preventing even high-ranking officials in his own administration from fully knowing what he has told one of the United States’ main adversaries.

As a result, U.S. officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years. Such a gap would be unusual in any presidency, let alone one that Russia sought to install through what U.S. intelligence agencies have described as an unprecedented campaign of election interference."
Somewhere in a parallel universe President Hillary Clinton is running the United States of America while not being a Russian asset.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

On the Hashtag Resistance

From time to time, I think about the folks who deride, sneer at, and otherwise denigrate what they refer to as the hashtag resistance.

This happens on Twitter a lot. As folks across the political spectrum engage in this ridicule, a common bond is often, although not always, that its purveyors are straight white cisgender men.

With the Trump Administration disproportionately targeting those who are women, people of color, LGBTQ, disabled, immigrants, and/or poor, this ridicule is no coincidence, but part of a backlash to social justice activism and, especially, feminism. For one, many men, whether they will admit it or not, and regardless of political party, are likely following Trump's lead in the way that those on the center-to-left side of the political spectrum so often internalize Republican attacks and cruelty.

Is there a person who is on the left side of the political spectrum who would ever admit or acknowledge that they've been affected or swayed by Republican attacks and talking points?  Probably not, and yet.

Remember that rash of post-2016 election articles telling us to give up on identity politics since that's what led to Trump?

Let's also look at the way the right obsessively attacks Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Many center-to-left folks love her, but over the years, we're going to see that change. Now, a change in popularity is bound to happen to any politician, but with a woman of color in the US, it's always going to be complicated and tainted by misogyny and racism. Rightwingers know this, and know that they can taint liberal-left politicians by simply putting attacks "out there" and letting them seep into the minds of receptive liberal-left audiences.

Also, millions of kids are growing up in conservative homes only learning the Fox News perspective that she is terrible. These kids will grow up to be voters one day, with some of them leaving behind their conservative roots and yet, how many of them will have echoes of the constant attacks against Ocasio-Cortez ringing through their heads?  There's just something about her, they'll say, they just can't fully trust or like.

We'll see.

And two, regarding the hashtag resistance, it's not straight white cisgender men who are leading it.  It's women, primarily. And, an eternal political question in the USA seems to be whether, if men are not at the center of a political movement, does it exist as all a serious phenomenon?

The men who are part of the hashtag resistance, meaning that they understand the reality that Democrats and Republicans have significant differences and they are not at all "the same," are also ridiculed, probably in no small part for their association with something associated with pink pussy hats and wine moms.

Consider a piece in bro-rag Vice, in which its author actually spent time curating "The Worst Anti-Trump #Resistance Pop Culture of 2018." His examples are things like Jim Carrey's art and JK Rowling's Twitter presence and oh who gives a fuck, why is this even a battle someone would want to fight right now? The big kicker, though, is his intro, in which he snarks:
"Donald Trump is a demonstrably corrupt and narcissistic con man. Two years into his presidency, this is not a novel thing to say. Actually, you would think that pointing out his loutish personal behaviour, destructive policies, or chaotic governing technique as if it were a new observation would be regarded with the same sort of derision reserved for people who still say Nickelback sucks. Yes, and your point is."
Yes yes. It's so interesting that many people - many women, including that crone Hillary Clinton - were warning about Trump more than two years ago and while so many media men stood around with their dicks in their hands, literally in some cases, they have now come to understand the danger and also, by the way, they don't think it's, like, even very interesting to point out anymore.In fact, it's so uninteresting to say nowadays, that anyone pointing it out ought to be mocked.

This sentiment has to be something pretty close to peak privilege these days.

Imagine thinking that, let alone putting it in writing, when Donald Trump's approval rating currently hovers around 42%, meaning literal millions of people actually do think he's doing an okay job and don't yet see or care that he's a con man. Contrary to this writer's dopey assertion, we don't actually have collective agreement in our nation, at all, about Donald Trump.

Trump fans approve of his cruelty. The indulge it, celebrate it, and engage in it themselves and, worse, they weaponize it via their votes and continued support of this man who is actively hostile toward marginalized people.

My point?

This Vice piece is part of a toxic online ecosystem that privileges the viral, marketable "hot take" over the accurate, but no longer new, statement of fact..

The center-to-left Cool Guy on the Internet mockers of the hashtag resistance never seem to care about what a gift their smackdowns of a woman-led movement are to the millions of rabid, bigoted Trump fans that exist in the US. They don't have to, because so much of politics is an abstraction to them, an ironic joke to make, or a quippy, one-liner re-tweet that he desperately hopes will help him build his Twitter brand.

Entertaining is the point, rather than informing.

Which, coincidentally, is also how the normalization of Trump has functioned.

Friday, January 4, 2019

I Guess I Listen To Podcasts Now

It was bound to happen, and it's actually been a nice way to take more walks. 

Here's what I'm currently listening to:
  • Nancy - The folks at Nancy, particularly co-hosts Kathy Tu and Tobin Low, generate queer content that has both humor and heart. Recommended episodes: "The Ring of Keys" and the interview with Alexandra Billings.
  • Battlestar Galacticast - One of my favorite things about Battlestar Galactica is that many of the cast members are at least as nerdy about the show as the diehard fans. This podcast is hosted by Tricia Helfer (Cylon Number Six) and writer Marc Bernadin, with special guests also appearing.
  • Gaslit Nation - Co-hosts Sarah Kendzior and Andrea Chalupa provide essential analyses of current political events, particularly the Trump regime and Russia.
  • The Hilarious World of Depression - The format here is that host John Moe interviews comedians, musicians, and celebrities about depression and mental health. It's done well, I think, and it's been informative to me to see how differently the same mental health issues can manifest in different people. 
  • Bag Man - This one's hosted by Rachel Maddow and, in it, she recounts the investigation into Vice President Spiro Agnew's illegal activities and eventual resignation, with obvious parallels to current events.
Feel free to drop recommendations in the comments!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

You're Not Interesting Because You're Cruel

Over at Shakesville, I wrote about disgraced comedian Louis CK's big comeback tour as a rightwing crusader against political correctness and kids who survived a school shooting:

"What I can't stop thinking about in [the leaked audio] clip [of a recent performance], though, are the people guffawing at his commentary, in that sorta-guilty way that people sometimes do when they're laughing at something their deeper conscience tells them they maybe shouldn't be laughing at. I'm reminded of the people at the Trump rallies visibly delighting in Trump's calls to violence, reveling in the cruelty.

While many women in the public sphere are expected to spend their lives apologizing for their very existences, men like Louis CK and Donald Trump traumatize and re-traumatize with wanton, unremorseful abandon."
Read the whole thing!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Iowa Polls: "I guess he'll do" 2020

It's 2019.  Grab your barf bags because we're off to the 2020 races and three white men are leading in the polls of likely Democratic voters.

Here's from a recent CNN poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers in Iowa (cite: PDF):


That's right, Joe Biden (32%), Bernie Sanders (19%), and Beto O'Rourke (11%). These are three men who have each lost the biggest political races in which they've competed. I'll just say for that reason alone, although there are many others, I am very concerned about 2020 and our chances of defeating Trump and the Republicans.

What could it possibly mean that Democrats and major media voices are not widely shouting at these men to retire into the woods and knit for the rest of their days?

Here are some theories, any combination of which might be playing out.

(1) It's Iowa, which is about 91% white.

Yet, in national polls, Biden has tended to lead, with Bernie Sanders coming in second, and someone else coming in third - often Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren.

(2) Biden, Bernie, and Beto all have a lot of name recognition right now. Biden, who lost his previous bid badly, can ride on President Obama's coattails. Bernie has essentially never stopped running for president, even when he lost badly to Hillary Clinton. And, Beto just lost a high-profile race with the extremely unlikeable Ted Cruz.

(3) Hillary Clinton's electoral college loss to Donald Trump was deeply humiliating for American women and many women have lose their appetite to endure both the misogyny she (and her supporters) faced and another loss.

(4) The center to left has been in a moral panic about "white women" since approximately 47% of the white women who voted voted for Donald Trump.  It's as if some people have discovered, and just started thinking about, for the first time the very existence of conservative white women. Yet, rather than this 47% statistic being an indictment of conservatism, Christianity, misogyny, racism, or bigotry, in the framework of Clinton's loss, the 47% statistic is widely perceived as an indictment of "white feminism," a category that no longer means "non-intersectional feminism" but has come to mean, on the Internet, "words said by any feminist who is white."

I'm still teasing out the 2020 implications of this, but I've seen many men take advantage of this collapsing of many progressive feminists into the category of "irredeemably bad feminist who needs to shut up forever" in ways that are profoundly misogynistic. I see a lot of cynical mocking of the hashtag resistance because it's perceived as being comprised of dorky, white suburban moms who wear pussy hats. I see a lot of progressive white women internalizing this misogyny. Ironically, I see a lot of progressives who have just given up on intersectionality beyond the prism of one or maybe two intersections of identity, when there are so many more.

I think all of this contributes to the perception that it will take a white man to beat Trump.

(5) Relatedly, some people might want to vote for someone who isn't a white man, but they don't think enough other people will, so they perceive it as safer to support a white man.

(6) Many people are more tolerant of flawed white men, where women/people of color have their flaws amplified and used as dealbreakers. Every woman who runs will have her own version of "the emailz" to contend with, while her male competitors could be literal traitors to the nation and receive no comparable coverage.

(7) The beltway media portrays, and many people perceive, politics as akin to a boxing match, rather than a popularity contest that is largely framed by the media. And in a boxing match, people think it takes a man to beat a man. Hence the various male politicians and their fans with their "Bernie wouldas" and "Biden wouldas" after the 2016 election.

(8)  Decades of rightwing anti-Clinton propaganda and attacks amplified Hillary Clinton's flaws and contributed to many people on the center-left thinking she was a uniquely bad candidate, thus masking the misogyny that lingers among the voting population, even among Democrats and Independents. See, for instance, how Elizabeth Warren is already being treated, now that it's almost certain she's running.

(9) The mainstream media is still dominated by misogynistic, white supremacist people, especially white men.

(10) Our society still widely hates ambitious women.

(11) Trump is so bad that many people have completely romanticized the Obama years. They want the perceived safety of Joe Biden, the daddy/husband figure, even though Russia interfered with the 2016 election on the watch of Obama/Biden.

(12) It's very early. Other candidates may rise in the polls over time, with more exposure.

Note, none of these reasons are grounded in any of the leading men being uniquely good politicians.

They're not.

Yet, the thing about many white male candidates is that they rarely acknowledge the invisible assists they get from white male privilege, instead taking it for granted that their polling numbers and/or popularity are an authentic reflection of their qualifications for the job. 

What else?