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.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Why No One Listens To The Feminists Anymore

Cynthia Ruccia



The short answer? Because they're fighting the last war instead of the current war. I keep hearing military critics and historians say that one persistent problem is that we always fight the next war using the lessons of the last war and that we make alot of mistakes because of that.

The longer answer is a matter of how the movement itself has become a parody of itself, a shameful parody of what it purported to be. I read this toxic piece of garbage from the longtime, respected feminist writer Katha Pollitt and to me it embodies everything that has gone wrong with feminism.

I came of age during the formation of the second wave feminist movement of the late 60's and early 70's. I went to Barnard College at Columbia University starting in 1970, a school which was a hotbed of liberal and radical thinking and a place where much of the political fomenting of the age was occurring. I had already been deeply politically involved, and it was natural for me to have fallen hard into the women's movement as it was developing at the time. You can read more about that in my last post. I came to revere the Gloria Steinems and the Betty Friedans and the other heroines of the time. We were going to live a life that our mothers and grandmothers could only dream of if they could bring themselves to even think like that. And together we women linked arms and willed in a new era of opportunity for women, equal opportunity. A world where women would have the same opportunities to make a great living, go to school and study whatever profession we wanted, have legal protections against crimes against us. We were going to hold at least 50% of the CEO positions, 50% of the legislative positions, and we were going to elect a female president of the United States. At least that was what I thought was going on.

We women went out into the world and lived our new feminist lives, working, achieving beyond our mother's wildest dreams. But something happened along the way that caused us to be completely stalled. The feminist movement got embroiled in the politics of the right and the left against each other and battle lines were drawn. We became divided, we women, one side against another. We demonized each other. We went into our trenches and the two sides fought a protracted civil war. We put all of our eggs into a few facets of the fight and both sides won a few and lost a few. And in the process, all of our progress stalled. The women who were involved in this battle lost sight of what they were fighting for.

Another problem that has emerged from that time is that we somehow thought that we were doing better than we were. We won some enormous battles that all women regardless of side they were on could celebrate. The doors to an equal education became open to all women, right or left. Women could make a decent living especially if they found themselves alone to support themselves and their families, a condition that affected women both right and left as the divorce rate rose. The list of achievements was a long one. But the problem is that women took about a 30-year victory lap and didn't take stock of what we had left to do to finish the job for our daughters who we had promised could be or do anything, a claim that in face of the facts, is a bit of a fantasy.

For those who haven't heard the list, we have alot left to do. We make only 75 cents on the man's dollar. We have never had a female president. We rank #70 in the world for female representation in government. We hold 2.7% of the CEO positions in the Fortune 1000 companies. We have approximately 24% of the state legislative seats and hold only 6 out of 50 governorships. Women hold 20% of senior management positions and 38% of companies have NO WOMEN in senior management at all. 

So when a feminist like Katha Pollitt writes a piece of drivel like "Michele Bachmann, Wife in Chief?" I just want to scream!! What in the heck is thinking like that going to do to help us break all of those glass ceilings left to break?

For starters, the whole idea of the liberal feminists is passe. Liberal feminism is fast becoming a very exclusive club that only likes certain women and all of the rest of womendom be damned. When did all of that begin? And it really doesn't matter because as the years have gone on, the exclusiveness of that club has become smaller and smaller and afffected fewer and fewer women's lives. The worst part is that for the women who get shut out of the club, they are marginalized and minimized. Since when was getting ahead only applicable to certain women and not all women?

The explanation is that the feminists are fighting an old battle. They have gotten the Christian right mixed up in their politics to such a negative degree that they have morphed into exactly the opposite of what they purport to be. They've become a bunch of mean bully girls. Now I understand the battles that the feminists fought with the right over abortion and over the ERA. These battles are apparently the holy grail upon which everything else is going to be judged. And like George Bush----you're either with us or against us. A line in the sand. The problem is is that that might have been fine and necessary to fight those battles. But how has that helped break any glass ceilings?

Worse, the battle by the left against the Christian right has become a mockery of liberal values. I read an article by noted left wing author Michelle Goldberg about the plot of a strain of right wing Christianity called dominionism to take over the country. According to Goldberg, the dominionists include Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, and Goldberg spins the wildest fevered nightmare fantasies of what these evil dominionists will bring down on the heads on the rest of us. Goldberg claims we will lose all of our rights and become slaves to these dominionists. Pollitt weaves this same theme into her piece.

I am Jewish, and for millenia, these kinds of yarns have been bandied about about us, that the Jews are plotting to take over the world. We know how all of those horrible rumors ended up for the Jews. To be starting this same fearmongering about another religion is paranoid at best and evil at worst. I live in flyover country here in Columbus,Ohio. We're one of the classic swing states because we have a near perfect mix of left and right and everything in between in my state. We all live and work side by side all of us Democrats, Republicans, lefties, righties, Jews, Muslims, Christians of all stripes. It is very hard to demonize people who you live next door to, work with, attend school with, have your children go to school with, and in my case have as customers. I listen to the religious intolerance that Pollitt and Goldberg and their ilk have towards anyone different from them and it scares me. What has the left devolved into? We're going to demonize different religions?

Let me say that I know lots of Christian conservatives. I've even attended their churches. They are really no different than the rest of us. I know women who like to say that the man is the head of their home. I know couples who are of a more liberal persuasion. And guess what? In both types of marital arrangements you will find women who work, women who stay at home, women who are less dominated by their husbands and women who are more dominated by their husbands. And guess what----I know lefty marriages where the women are battered and righty marriages where the woman is the sole breadwinner and the man the stay-at-home parent. What I'm trying to say is that these lefty feminists must not get out too much. They need to meet a more diverse group of people. If they did, they would stop being so scared of being dominated by the conservative Christians.

The last war is OVER. The winning generals have all been awarded the highest awards and much esteem. Thanks Gloria, Betty, and all of the others for what you did. However, we have new battles to fight and we're certainly not going to win them by segregating ourselves into the battle positions of the previous war. By staying static, the feminists have made themselves irrelevant. I think we all need to just let the bad bad past go, join arms once again and let's figure out some tactics we can agree on to get those glass ceilings shattered once and for all. If we don't, we have lied to our children. We can do better than that!!!

31 comments:

  1. Excellent, as always. Hooray for you, Cynthia and thank god for you, too!
    I really don't have an addition to your post---you said it all, IMO.

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  2. This is April

    I have a theory also.

    You have already spoken accurately about the role of the liberal media's blatant sexism.

    These liberals control the media, completely--with one or two exceptions. And liberals simply do not give a rats ass about women's equality.

    There isn't really another way to say it. It really is like that book--I think it was a book--called He's Just Not That Into You.

    Do you ever hear liberals/Democrats talking about equity for women??? When was the last time???

    Liberals are into defending the rights of African Americans, workers, illegal aliens, the environment---but not women. At least not that I can see....

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  3. Really well put that the war against the religious right has made a mockery of liberal values...

    BUT

    I grew up in some of the most conservative christian circles in the most conservative state of the union- Oklahoma. And you better believe that feminists need to hold their ground on certain rights. Oklahoma has famously passed horrendous laws that no medical community approves of concerning abortion, even with no consideration toward ectopic pregnancy or rape. You better believe they would have women silent- my home church believed women should not speak. And you better believe they want women completely submissive and dominated. If you know conservative families where the woman is the breadwinner and isn't submissive to her husband as taught by the bible (in their eyes), they aren't conservative, period.

    The difference is standing up for the rights, not denegrating a conservative woman who is a leader.

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  4. I really don't respect Katha P; she fell for BO, and so did her daughter. I guess I shouldn't blame the "sins of the daughter" on the mother, but I think KP enabled her daughter's BO worship.

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  5. Thanks Cindy!!

    April---you are right to point that out. Of course, the women on the left have conveniently forgotten that!! Imagine what legislation they could have passed on behalf of women when they held everything and had a woman speaker!! But did they do it----naw.I'm not a believer in legislative solutions anymore anyways. That's a one way step to oblivion for all women's issues.

    engrcharlie---sounds like an interesting place your home church!! You know every religion seems to have that type of branch to it that keeps women under control. My own religion, Judaism, has some very severe restrictions for women in its most orthodox groups and so do the Muslims. However, it's just not a problem in terms of world domination I don't think, and this being America, they've got a right to practice any way they want. I agree with what you wrote though!!

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  6. Many good points, Cynthia. Once again you and I are thinking on similar terms. I was just thinking today that I have heard so many arguments over my life about how critiques of feminism are so wrong, but the fact is that if it's not effective, it needs to be questioned and critiqued. It makes no difference if feminist aren't all man-haters, for example, if the prevailing perception is that that's what they are. What matters is what's getting through, especially how younger women are viewing it. You want feminism to be inviting to them.

    Right now left-feminism has cornered the college market and that's about it. But only about 35% of Americans even go to college. There has to be a way appeal to this vast majority of women who never encounter exposure to feminist ideas or whose exposure has been colored by this mockery that feminism has become, as you so aptly describe it. This weird game of miso-xenophobia left-feminists have been playing the last few years is alienating as hell, that's for sure.

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  7. Well Said Cynthia- I can't add a thing! The comments all fantstic too.

    There still are some fanatic Christians believe me- but they amount to an equal number of radiacl Leftists I guess.

    I really believe we are beginning to see the light- afterall- we are woman!

    Write on you are right on!

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  8. Everyone knows women have taken over. Unfortunately, we're still letting men think they're running the world.

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  9. Leftist feminists are like a bunch of trained dogs doing tricks for rewards. They spout off some standardized diatribe degrading a Republican woman as crazy, slutty, stupid, etc, etc, etc, (but Republican women are NEVER just a political opponent who has a different philosophy) and then they look at their Democrat male masters for an approval pat on the head. It is pathetic. I don't pay attention to them because they are irrelevant. They have no power and they don't know how to use or acquire power. They do not speak for me or for women in general. They are pathetic soulless puppets of the male Democrat establishment which I think isn't intelligent enough to have figured out that women are 52% of the population.

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  10. This is well said. I read Pollitt's piece (of --) earlier today. To quote a friend from Fla who wrote me after reading it, concluding: "So this all amounts to political slander which is no better than when Hillary Rodham, who was for years her husband's lawyer and chief advisor, being dissed for her name and lack of cookie baking." What female politicians come up to Pollitt's standards, I wonder.

    The attack on evangelicals is not going to sit well with the public. Most so-called mainstream Protestant churches (Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, to name what comes off the top of my head) have churches which are more evangelical, or branch-offs which are. African American churches largely are evangelical in practice. There are many varieties of evangelical churches/practices. Clearly Pollitt is clueless on theology and American churches. I think she is clueless about American women, except to let them know how they should be.

    But it is her mean spiritedness, her own holier than thou pseudo-dissection of Bachman that is pathetic. The media maven, the lefty, the look-down-her-nose at Bachman's persona, and reducing her to an airhead, to stereotypical soundbites. She is a good writer, but empty of truthful content, full of snot.

    It is the fashion this week to holler "waaaaacism" and make snide remarks about a large number of Christians in this country. Is that all the left has? The Race industry is gearing up, and the attacks on religion are too. We are in the full Obamalypse now. The false messiah is floundering. There is weeping and gnashing of teeth, and Pollitt needs kleenex and a dentist.

    It's no wonder that "feminism" is a dirty word.

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  11. @ engrcharlie

    Sorry but you're wrong. I grew up in rural Texas. I've always made more money than my husband and was his boss when we met. I handle all of our money and make our investment and financial decisions. My favorite non-woman politician is Dick Cheney but he's a little farther to the left on some things than me.

    I'm sure your experience with that one church is exactly as you represented it - but it's a mistake to extrapolate that out to other churches, families, Conservatives, or Christians in general. How about we all let them speak for themselves?

    P.S. My mother has always had almost no say at all in the family's financial decisions and was often overruled even on things within the "domestic" realm - sometimes with tragic consequences like the avacado green laminated coutertops she had to live with for 30 years.
    She and my father are atheists.

    Well done Cynthia!

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  12. Cynthia, you hit the nail on the head with your last sentence. The next wave of feminism or womens movement is to break the glass ceiling. How does this sound? I'm a glass ceiling feminist. Or for those who don't want the f word: I'm not a feminist, breaking glass ceilings once and for all is my motto. (for a Hillary
    Vibe).

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  13. I'm pleased that so many people are ready to move on to find a way to break those glass ceilings!! i know we can do it because in the end, I do believe that the majority of people want women to be represented equally.

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  14. Feminists are bully girls? Another person compartmentalizing women, calling them names, and dividing them. How are you helping? And ho do you think "the feminists" are? It feels like you are just reinforcing the silencing belief that "feminist" is a dirty word.

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  15. Suealex, To me I usually use the word "feminist" in quotes and it describes the women who Corporate Media go to for "the women's perspective". These women belong to only one class, they are East coast, private school, liberals and they don't represent me. They aren't even pro woman and they believe they own the title of Feminist. They have sold women out to Democrats and stalled the pro women/parity movement out completely. I don't mind them having their own voice but they insist they are the true voice of women.

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  16. Suealex-----I certainly am not reinforcing the idea that feminist is a dirty word. I consider myself a feminist. It's just that the feminists that Bes and I refer to (the left-leaning liberal Democratic feminists)are the ones who don't include all women in their group, and if you are not in their group, you are bullied. My view is that we women are all in this struggle together regardless of our range of political beliefs. Sexism doesn't just affect one or two of us, it affects all of us. And if we can't stand united against the sexism, we lose a tremendous amount of power. I just don't like the utter disgust the left wing feminists throw out to the right wing women and to any other woman who refuses to toe a certain line. Their ticket of admission continues to exclude most other people. NO WOMAN deserves that treatment if we have any respect for ourselves. And that is why I use the term bully. Female bullying starts young, and the women in that feminist group have devolved into using all of the tactics of the playground bully.

    Here are a few excellent links to understand that phenomenon:

    http://www.teachersandfamilies.com/open/parent/ra1.cfm

    http://teenadvice.about.com/od/violencebullying/a/girlbullies.htm

    http://www.eduguide.org/library/viewarticle/2118/

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/03/24/earlyshow/living/parenting/main608395.shtml

    I understand suealex that the concepts I am putting forward may make you angry-----it is just a different perspective and it challenges alot of ingrained beliefs. But it would be a mistake to have your anger blind you to the fact that we women need to stand together to fight the forces that are keeping us from breaking the myriad glass ceilings left to break. I am hardly silencing nor am I dividing anyone. I am just calling out a group who feels that they so own women's issues that they have shut the door to the vast majority of women out there. We need to stand firm together.

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  17. WE are women and we are the majority. We don't need any other word to describe us. I always used the word feminist but when I do - it is always negative connotation and I wind up having to explain it.


    Unfortunately the left-leaning liberal Democratic feminists have excluded anyone who refuses to tow their sometimes radical views and always bully anyone who doesn't so the word obviously belongs to them rather than all women. To hell with it- radicals made it a dirty word and the rest of us are tired of cleaning up their mess. I say let them have it.

    I like woman better anyway!

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  18. Sorry, but "conservative feminist" is a contradiction in terms. Katha Pollitt is right: Bachmann's vile religious beliefs do make her a terrible and dangerous candidate for President--same goes with Perry or any other Republican out there.

    As a liberal male feminist, I would be happy to, say, elect an African-American woman to the Presidency--but that doesn't mean I would vote for Condoleeza Rice.

    And the old wars aren't over. Susan Falludi taught me that.

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  19. Joshua----you are so indoctrinated with the liberal talking points that you have missed the entire point of this post. You of course are entitled to your opinion and I would fight to the end to make sure you had that right, but because someone is a conservative doesn't mean that they should be a subject of sexist attacks.Andthe other point is that the liberal feminist philosophy doesn't include the 72% of women who do not call themselves liberal. In my way of looking at things, that exclusive. We weren't discussing the political views of Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann. We were talking about sexism and glass ceilings------glass ceilings that no one has been able to break. So if the liberal way of doing things has been so spectacularly unsuccessful at breaking these glass ceilings (see stats in piece)why continue a losing strategy?

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  20. Equal pay for equal work -- after all, it's still the same job no matter who's doing it. As a male I have a request: Team with us, rather demonizing us. I can't help what the men before me did, but I can work with you to change those battle lines from boys against the girls to Healthy Society of Adult Women and Adult Men vs. Developmentally Challenged Under-evolved Sexist Children. Best, Deadbox Prime

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  21. There could easily be sexist attacks on Bachmann out there, and those would be wrong--I just don't think Katha Pollitt is guilty of them. She's attacking the inherent misogyny in Bachmann's fundamentalist beliefs, and those must be fair game.

    The glass ceiling is only ever going to be shattered by liberal attitudes finally, against all odds, replacing conservative attitudes in the system. Maybe you're right that liberal strategies have failed so far--but I would say this is not because liberals are wrong, but because conservatives are strong. Frankly, it is going to be a long time before conservatism is in the minority in this world of ours--it is simpler to grasp, more attuned to selfishness, has thousands of years of tradition on its side (as opposed to a few centuries of genuine modern liberalism), and most of all, conservatism will always be more attractive to people of lower intellect, and they are always going to be more numerous than those of higher intellect. In short, we can't count liberalism out. It's already responsible for ALL the successes that feminism and movements for social justice have experienced.

    So I have no problem with your calling me "indoctrinated with the liberal talking points"--I take that as a compliment (though "indoctrinated" is a pretty judgmental word). However, I fear for anyone who thinks that conservatism and liberalism are equally valid as philosophies (as opposed to liberal persons and conservative persons, who are absolutely equally valid as human beings and deserve fair and equal treatment). I hope that you aren't one of them. By the way--this is an interesting blog. I think I'll keep checking it out.

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  22. I don't think that either the liberal or the conservative philosophies will result in breaking any glass ceilings. I believe that it will be women deciding to band together that will make it happen outside of the political structure. And I don't believe that government will be the answer. That is not a liberal or conservative view, just a fact. If you want to check the archives, I've written an article apiece about the sexism of the left and the sexism of the right. Glad you find the blog interesting!!

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  23. Deadbox Prime---No demonizing of men goes on on this blog. In fact if you check the archives, you'll find a piece praising men. Hope you like it----I think you will!!!

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  24. @ Joshua

    Well Joshua I hope you are abundantly blessed with a great intellect, liberal or otherwise. I sincerely hope it will be enough to see you through your life in good stead - because you won't make it on manners, kindness of spirit, or humility - all of which you are in very short supply.
    Good Luck!

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  25. @ Deadbox Prime

    Ditto what Cynthia said. It isn't about demonizing men for me either - read the blog and you'll see Cynthia rarely mentions men at all. Don't be so defensive. It's about women.

    I love a lot of men! There are plenty of great men out there who agree with equal treatment for women - and luckily I'm related to and friends with a bunch of them!

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  26. More women needed in politicsAugust 29, 2011 at 11:01 PM

    Joshua, part of the "old wars" are male dominated politics. It does matter if there are few or no women in the decision making areas of politics. Men are still setting the agendas and shaping the debates. If we continually place men in power positions because the women vying for the positions aren't " good enough" ( read Hillary) then we continue to run the treadmill of fighting male dominance. Clearly, Obama had his problems, but he was "good enough."

    The Michele Bachmann argument by Politt misses one big point; if feminists like Pollitt could look their prejudices about women in power ( Pollitt said Hillary was " too warlike" )then we would have shattered the ceiling with a feminist in Oval Office who understands implicitly the necessary role of women to be 50% of power in US. But, she couldn't. So we have two men in Oval Office and the President is sexist and " too warlike." Pollitt's Bachmann article would never have been written because we would be looking at Hillarys second term.

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  27. @ Thia:
    I am not certain why you felt it necessary to make this personal. My manners may be brusque, but I am civil, and certainly I am not attacking anyone personally, merely stating an opinion about a philosophical position. Humility is only of use in those subjects where one has no informed opinion, and will gladly cede the fact; false humility is an insult to everyone involved, since it is a kind of lying. As for kindness of spirit, I can only assume you say this because I am straightforward about my contempt for conservatism. I confess this is a difficulty, one with which I struggle in my personal life, but in political matters I will not apologize for it. The right is ruthless and intolerant, the very antithesis of possessing kindness of spirit ... and that is one of the reasons why they continue to win. Oh well; I suppose you wouldn't like me, even though we've never met. Just one of those things. But really, was it necessary to just make a mean observation about me rather than address the points I was trying to make?

    @ More Women Needed In Politics:
    I agree wholeheartedly about needing more women in decision-making roles in politics. But chromosomes alone do not an informed and desirable politician make. As I said before, despite being female and African-American, I think Condoleeza Rice is a terrible person to have in political power. I used to admire Hillary Clinton, and on some levels I still do, but as the feminist group Code Pink has pointed out, Hillary isn't really that much of a liberal. I wanted her for President, and am at least grateful that Obama gave her the Number 3 slot. (Obama is in many ways much more disappointing and illiberal than Clinton, but that's not what this is about.) I do think that Pollitt and feminists like her need to stick to their guns (what a masculine metaphor on my part!) and criticize all politicians of either sex from a liberal feminist position. And I also think that if Hillary were President, we would still be looking at exactly the same kind of overheated regressive backlash that Obama is getting, and Bachmann and her ilk would still be roaring to bring her down ... so the article would still have been written, and necessary.

    @ Cynthia:
    I wish I could agree with you that "it will be women deciding to band together that will make (breaking glass ceilings) happen outside of the political structure." I don't, because women are not all alike. I know you don't need a man to tell you that. But political and social and cultural differences are enormous stumbling blocks to a massive banding together of women. I just don't think those differences can be overlooked, no matter how many systemic obstacles based on misogyny are overcome. However, I'd agree with you that government won't be the answer--not the whole answer, anyway (though I would hesitate to call this a "fact"). Social changes force governments to move ... but so do the backlashes against those movements, which is what we are experiencing right now. I look forward to reading your articles on the sexism of left (which I would never claim doesn't exist) and the sexism of the right. You'll hear from me again. I love this stuff!

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  28. Ladies, I meant no offense or disrespect! For a lot of men 'feminist' has become synonymous with 'men hater,' which is unfortunate and detrimental to the integrity and dignity of all concerned. I'm only reporting some of my experience. I look forward to reading and supporting this blog!!

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  29. No disrespect taken Deadbox-----enjoy reading our stuff!!

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  30. Okay, I read the two posts on sexism on the left and sexism on the right. I think you make a lot of valid points, and I get your sense of frustration. Part of the problem here, as I see it, is that the country has been dragged so far to the right that the Democrats have been pulled along as well, turning the mass of them into neoliberal corporatists, and bringing out the worst (and often regressive and, yes, sexist) traits in their characters. I am still a registered Democrat because the Independents strike me as fodder for the Tea Party, with precious little energy left over for Green Party types. I remain a committed leftist who will always judge politicians by their policies, beliefs, and positions. It isn't who a person is (whether classified by sex, race, cultural background, religion, or anything else) that matters to me. What matters is what their actions will do to this world. I cannot speak for my fellow men on my side of the fence, but I suspect most of them are like me--I believe all people are equal as human beings, but that not all beliefs are equally valid. I think there is a great deal of validity to your strategy of throwing as many women into the government as we can, but I cannot agree that the political stripes of those women don't matter. By all means, let us elect Elizabeth Warren to the Senate--and beyond!--but by all equal means, let us send Michelle Bachmann packing. Not that I'm eager to vote for Obama a second time--the man has been a near-total disaster, and I'd be more than happy to see a real leftist challenge him to help draw him away from the dread "center" (which is really the right in today's America)--but there is no way I will vote for anyone further right than him, and that includes all of the Republicans currently in the running. As long as absolute equality between the sexes is the only goal of feminism--and I can't say whether or not it is--then we might as well give three cheers for the Republicans for embracing so many women in their ranks. But I will not cheer, for equality between the sexes is only a part of my goal, and I do not think it will ever ultimately be achieved by keeping in power a political philosophy (increasingly embraced by both major parties) that denies reproductive rights, equal pay legislation, and social inequity, and that consistently promotes religious fundamentalism and an economic system that is little better than slavery.

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  31. April - what you're talking about is very evident in the change in women's studies programs. 20-30 years ago they were about women. Check into one now, and you'll find out it's all about the OTHER liberal causes - poverty, blacks, hispanics, illegal aliens, handicapped, the environment.... of course, they're talking about women in these circumstances, but it's all about the intersectionality. It's not about all women, the commonalities of women - so it's really about the other causes. I don't believe there is any power to dividing women up like that - there's no common thrust. I think it's similar to this site or Amy's site - working for women's advancement, irregardless of differences. It's really sad, IMO, about women's studies programs. They're third wave all the way - getting nowhere fast.

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