What women's rights look like when the two sides come together as one.
What women's rights are when women are no longer manipulated by party rhetoric.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Running Up Against The Brick Wall Sexism of the Left

When I speak with my cohorts fighting the sexism battle since 2008, we always come to the same exasperating place, and that is the current blindness on the left to their hypocrisy on sexism. Now before I continue, to those who I and many others are calling out on the carpet, sexism is also present on the right. I'll address it another day. But yes, it is YOU, the people on the left, to whom I speak today.



Let me state clearly----I am NOT a conservative. I have NOT joined the Republicans. I am a proud Independent. What that means to me is that I can see the points of view of both sides without needing to marry myself to one or the other. To hear what we 21st feminists have to say, it will require thinking outside the box. To move gender parity ahead, we will need forward thinking, something that should be easy for a liberal.

However, many men and women on the left are so tied up in their ideology, much of it blindly in my humble opinion, that they are unwilling to see beyond themselves. This fact is a real tragedy since there are many smart, well educated folks on the left who are not using their intelligence to think beyond certain parameters. The leftist ideology has calcified causing creative thinking on feminism to have stopped dead in its tracks since the 80's. Let me put a couple of examples on the table.

Whenever we 21st century feminists and gender equality seekers speak up about the sexism that women running for president and vice-president are enduring, the first thing that the left throws in our faces is abortion. As far as they are concerned, it is game over. For 30+ years, the broad outlines of feminism have slowly shrunk. At first feminism was all about opening doors to women on all fronts, particularly in education and in the job market. Women and sympathetic men regardless of party ideology worked to lift the prospects of all women. Over the course of the next 30 years, that fight morphed into a fight about abortion, one that is ongoing. The abortion battle split women right down the middle and over time the interest in working together for parity tragically went away. In my previous piece "Women's Rights are Held Hostage To Party Rhetoric" I discuss how effective a strategy the abortion battle has been for both parties to keep women in line and divided. As long as we are fighting each other we can't unite and work together to achieve some progress on some very pressing common interests.

It is said that by the left that if we take our eye off the ball, we will lose our abortion rights, and that is a valid concern. However, does it mean that we can't work together to get more women into positions of power in this country? The blind spot on the left is that abortion is more important than women gaining their rightful place as being proportionally represented. What does our country stand for if not equality? What is the beaming light of democracy if we don't have equal representation for all? Why is the left so willing to just give up on those basic principles of our beloved country for the right to an abortion? Why can't the left multitask better where women's rights are concerned?

The 2008 election revealed to the complacent that women's progress has stalled big time. We rank #70 in the world in female representation in government. Women hold 4% of CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies, and our numbers tend to stall out in other professions at 18% on average in holding the reins of power positions. The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers reveals a similar set of statistics. It seems pretty clear that the United States, a country that prides itself as the world leader in so many areas, is seriously lagging behind in the world for women in leadership roles.

So we 21st century feminists and gender equality seekers have to ask ourselves why are women in their current stunted state and what needs to be done to correct the problem? Some of the ideas that come to the fore are that the causes of this inequality can be directly linked to the sexism and sexist expressions that are too readily bandied about. There is even empirical evidence proving this point that just calling women stereotypical slurs will lower their approval ratings immediately. The left has been simply terrible in bandying about the sexist slurs. For many of us who were Democratic Party stalwarts, it was reason enough to leave the party. For some reason, the left which claims to be the party of women has become the party of bullying women.  How did such a thing happen? And many times the bullies are other women. It reminds me of the Iran-Iraq War 20 years ago when young children were used as human shields, an act that horrified us in the United States. The bad guys let the children do the dirty work for them, and it often appears that the women on the left are being used to do the dirty work for the party to keep women in line. Just saying........

Another example from the left that is particularly galling to those of us interested in the 21st century advancement of women is when the left will say "any woman but not that woman." No woman is ever right enough, perfect enough, etc. And when you get right down to it, it is the typical stereotypes of women that make them not good enough----you know, she's too witchy, she's too stupid, she's too unqualified, the whole smarmy mess of stereotypes. The left even goes so far as to call women of the right not women. The party of women can't stop itself from stereotyping. That isn't the party I fell in love with 40 years ago.

Some people, myself included, feel that a more dramatic step needs to be taken and that is to just go ahead and vote more women in of all stripes so people can get used to the idea of seeing large numbers of women in power. It's an interim measure at best. But on the left whenever that idea is proposed, they come SCREAMING back with "well I'm NOT a vagina voter," a kneejerk reaction in my opinion. This pious stand comes apart when the left realizes that one of the reasons that our current president got the left so excited was because it made people feel good to think that it was high time we elected an African-American president and help erase our horrible racial past. The left is stuck in this extreme act of hypocrisy when criticizing people for wanting to vote for women for similar historic reasons.

I'll finish up today by saying that the more interesting thinking on 21st century feminism and gender equality  is going on in the middle and on the right. The liberal left is lagging far behind. My cohorts and I believe that the left may well be the lagging indicator of finally achieving female parity in the United States. What an irony!!! But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be speaking up loudly to that brick wall every chance we get. Even the walls of Jericho came tumbling down---all at once. Keep talking to the left, my friends. They are smart and intelligent. They are just blind right now.

15 comments:

  1. well this is a touchy topic. I get so flustered when I try to talk about this stuff with the lefties I know!!

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  2. makes you think

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  3. Thanks for writing Cynthia. I have felt this way so many times. I hope we can all get back on the same page sometime soon. We need all hands on deck to solve our problems.

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  4. Many good points here, Cynthia, not the least of which is keeping on talking to the left. We don't have to do it in person. I've got a male and a female persona I use online to discuss these issues with the left that doesn't have any identifiable features of me. Yesterday I had some small success correcting a left-identified blogger:

    http://michaelklonsky.blogspot.com/2011/07/penny-pritzker-turns-heat-lamps-on.html

    After my comment (lola), he removed “Penny” from the headline and rewrote the article to be less about her and more about the actual event. They can sometimes be corrected.

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  5. ABF---you are such a great and stalwart ally in this fight!! I always learn so much from you. Even if it sometimes is a slow slog, we have no choice but to keep on going. But we are on the right side of this one, that's for sure!!!!

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  6. What can I say, Cynthia? I grew up in Texas, where I learned no Texan in their right mind would ever take sh*t without fighting back. And I had a mother who told me to go DO something before I got married and had kids, IF I even wanted to marry and have kids. That kind of upbringing made me what I am today. Everything else just confirmed it. Thanks for the compliment. I so admire the work you do. :)

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  7. I get so flustered by the left, a group I used to be part of. However, you are right because when the blowback comes it is always the same three or four things over and over again. I hate that it is always yelled and screamed, but I guess once you burst the bubble people back off and become more reasonable.

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  8. Kathy---you're a brave soul. Keep on keeping on!!

    ABP-----aw ahucks!!! And aren't those Texan women the women with the velvet fist? And God bless your mother!!!

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  9. this whole thing makes me want to scream when the left goes on and on and on about how they're prowoman and then attack women......

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  10. Great piece! This is a red-hot button issue on the left. If you've noticed today, I've been drawing some fire for putting my foot down today on my wall about seeing Clinton fundraisers being called "whores" because we dared to raise money for Hillary Clinton in a large and efficient manner (tee hee). Apparently some have taken their talents and "Contacts Database" to the Obama campaign this time around and have replaced the former darlings of the Obama big money campaign by their fundraising prowess. LOL. This is detailed in an article in The Atlantic Wire. The one Obama bundler says "those Hillary bundlers raise money for a living", are "animals" and "whores" and are pushing aside the earnest, but not "professional" bundler like himself, therefore, he is not giving money to his wonderful president, but will still vote for him. Here is the article. It's in-sightful and provides a snapshot of the Obama fundraising apparatus at this stage: http://www.facebook.com/l/MAQAVAJ8hAQBdiDJR3oL_XwgjetF8WiJwmksJ9lN6qZQq0Q/www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2011/07/old-obama-fundraisers-pushed-aside-clintonite-whores/40250/

    This is an attempt by the neophyte Obama insiders to try to explain ... ??? wait, I don't know what the heck it is truthfully, ha, ha! Maybe they're having a contest in Chicago to see who raises the most money and it turns out the top ten are all ex-Clinton supporters, so their feelings are hurt...who knows? I am not a mind reader. But I do know this: this article seems like it's designed to split the women up, set us against one another, and turn our attention to ridiculous non-issues. It was interesting for one day. Next.

    I agree with you we need to see women of all stripes elected everywhere. We need to get Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Christians, Muslims, Jewish people, Atheists, Buddhists - ALL WOMEN need to get involved to change the toxic and hate-filled, non-productive environment we're living in today in this Country.

    It's crucial we encourage women to get involved in their communities, to understand the importance of their input. If we could come up with an effective marketing campaign that goes viral on the internet, sort of like that movement I think Bono was behind, One.org, we could help women of all stripes realize We are the Majority. It's our time. NOW. On both sides and in the middle. There's a place for everyone, ALL applications accepted. It's safe here because there are women of every color, ethnicity, language, size, sexual preference, POLITICAL PARTY, and capability. There's an essence to that message that is effective, yet not intrusive.

    I appreciate all the work you do Cynthia. I see your network is expanding, like a sound wave. I'm excited to be part of it.
    Old Obama Fundraisers Pushed Aside by Clintonite 'Whores'
    www.theatlanticwire.com
    The enthusiastic amateurs of 2008 have been replaced by "political animals"

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  11. This example was pretty typical of the sexism coming out of the Obama/left camp. People always ask me for examples------------thanks for sending it Hallie. It wasn't too hard to find LOL!!

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  12. Cynthia: I think your blog is very on the mark, however, since I was one of the original feminists and infact just lost a dear friend who not only fought beside me in the ERA and glass ceiling battle, but guided and taught me to be one of the most influential activists in the Vietnam Veterans and Children's Agent Orange fight, my dear friend Gerri Ferarro. I can tell you that as long as there are white men running companies, governments and just about everything else, the fight will have to fight to survive because nothing is more frightening than a smart woman with power, to the keepers of the flame.

    One of the worst things that happened in the 60's through the 90's was that the premise that we had established (read Marilyn French's A WOMAN'S ROOM) was that those of us who "made it" were supposed to reach back and bring our sisters up beside us. Those of us who started the movement did do just that, however, what began to happen was that women who achieved levels of success began to act like the men that they had to fight to get where they wanted to be and the Hell with those left behind. This has become the capitalist way and until women realize that they are not the enemies of other women in the marketplace, not very much can change.

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  13. I would agree that sexism is rampant no matter political ideologies-yet the ongoing and methodical eclipsing of abortion rights nationwide flows from a culture that does not respect women...or view women as freely associating human beings with much to contribute to society.This eclipsing flows out of and into the view that women have predetermined, innate, gender driven qualities. We are objects or we are "mothers" in their eyes. Women's autonomy, their health, and their abilty to make decisons about their own internal organs is on the frontlines of any discussions of equality. It is the defining issue. Reproductive autonomy. Abortion is key. That is why it is under such strong attack..and abortion providers have been murdered.

    And I would have to respond that I think the reason it has been in the fore is because of the organized and methodical attacks it has been under in the more conservative sectors..as well as the unbridled violent attacks by radical fundamentalists who harrass and traumatize patients and healthcare providers at women's clinics. And I would add that it is not primarily a "political " issue. It is a human rights issue. Susan Wicklund MD wrote a book called "This Common Secret" that details her work and her mind numbing experiences as a women's healthcare provider, and the kind of viscious attacks patient and doctors suffer. This is not a side poitical issue. It is far worse than has been generally covered in the media and than most people can imagine, And then , of course, there are the bombs and the murders.

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  14. Hi Christine---I appreciate your very thoughtful comments. I have always believed in much of what you have written. and I feel comfortable knowing that there are able people on both sides of this issue debating it and hashing it out. I guess that's why I am comfortable pursuing the OTHER women's issues that always have to take a back seat. It is time for those issues to be put in the forefront for a change while the abortion warriors continue their fight.

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  15. It is so important to always get at the heart of the matter, when trying to fix broken things. It's funny, though, how people are, about exposing broken people, or broken people systems. Touching on a sensitive area such as race or gender can cause people to recoil, and turn away from ideas that are difficult to accept. A black person may say, "they don't like me because I'm black" because that would be easier to accept than the fact that people may find him/her unlikable. And that's what I think of when I hear someone say, "As long as white men are in charge of corporations..." But the truth about corporations is they ONLY care about money. And because of that, competition is fierce. A person's gender really isn't considered when corporations make decisions. If they see you as a threat to their profits they will do all they can to stop you. If on the other hand, if they perceive you as a means to more profit, they will welcome you with open arms - regardless of your race or gender.

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