Wednesday, May 28, 2008

No Tears

Hillary Clinton may have gotten teary-eyed in New Hampshire last year right before swooping to victory the next day. But I'm not shedding tears now. As a Hillary Clinton supporter (albeit incredibly torn between the candidates) I found myself in the strange position of being able to cast a happy and historical vote no matter which way I cast my ballot.

But the glow of Super Tuesday has long since faded, and now I'm grimly waiting for the end of a great primary season and the start of political grind of politics as usual. Now, Obama may disagree with me, but maybe the thrill of the strong, talented Democratic pool of talent initially blinded me to the fact that in politics, nothing really has changed. After all, our system is just as stupid, inefficient and money-hemorrhaging as ever. Millions have been spent for two strong candidates to battle it out, when I read that there's trouble raising funds toward the Democratic Convention and beyond. Both candidates have made gaffes that were really not much of anything, made much of a lot by the media and the competing campaigns. I laugh when I read that this was a muddy campaign. Ask Michael Dukakis about mud. Ask John Kerry about mud. They had mud.

The campaign that transcended race can't seem to win where lots of white people live. The campaign that transcended gender is crying sexism when that is, in some ways, the least of Clinton's problems.

I am no fool. I don't want to hear Clinton's obituaries written all too eagerly by the likes of Arianna Huffington, who praise Clinton and want to bury her. Clinton has changed the way people see women, or elections, or leaders, or whatever. No, not really. Because what Clinton represents is as exceptional as her rival Obama. They are both stand-outs. And it will be a long, long time before we see another candidate with Clinton's tenancity, fortitude and brass ones. Not to mention name recognition and bundles of money. And really, same for Obama, unless you know of other star black politicians with best-selling memoirs who also graduated from Harvard who can orate like JFK.

It's an exceptional political season. I'm glad I lived to see it. I'm sorry to see it go, because it may not come again in my lifetime.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It's Not Just About You

Years ago, when Amy Richards was promoting Grassroots Feminism, the book she co-wrote with Jessica Baumgardner, I interviewed her on riding the third wave of feminism. I told her many of my friends who embraced feminism were struggling with the new role of motherhood. She, a new mother, told me she was working on a new book called "Opting In," about being a feminist and a mother. Opting in plays on the now infamous Lisa Belkin 2003 piece for the New York Times Magazine on the "Opt-Out Revolution," that trumpeted the pseudo-trend of smart women leaving high-powered careers for mommy and me playdates. While Richards didn't buy it, she also wanted to push moms to not just make their mom-work-lives work for them personally, but get involved to change policy, too. Here's some of Courtney Martin's interview with Richards in Alternet on her new book. On a feminist litmus test:

For me, the best way to explain it is that it has to be about more than you. It's great if you want to have and can have a home birth, but can others? It's great that you and your partner can start a chore wheel to have a more equitable household -- but what if you don't even have time to start a chore wheel? Feminism isn't about securing rights just for yourself as a mother, it's about ensuring that others can have that confidence and freedom, too.

On why the personal is threatening:

I think it's really hard for us to bring things down to a personal level -- one, because we don't want to be perceived as judging others, and two, we don't want to be vulnerable or exposed. Also, lobbying for legislation simply requires us to say, "Yes, parenting is hard work and it should be remunerated," or to show up at a meeting and testify that early childhood education is an under-addressed problem. But more personal transformation actually requires us to re-examine our lives. For instance, if we really want to be "green," why are we buying that new sweater? If we really want to be a progressive parent, why are we frustrated that we have to pay our babysitter $18 an hour, which is a living wage, rather than $12? Personal activism requires so much more from us. . .

. . . I do think the mere fact that I gave birth "out of wedlock" gives me certain feminist credibility, though there are lots of feminists out there still asking me when I'm going to get married. And yet it wasn't so much a well-thought-out choice -- more circumstantial than premeditated. But yes, I think feminism's job, and this goes beyond parenting issues, is to keep us from being lazy. And yet, feminism requires so much from us that sometimes I often want to just retreat into convention.

One argument I make in Opting In is that I'm sympathetic to women who want to "just stay home." It's the societally accepted choice, and it makes sense that people would be seduced by it. I don't think this makes your life easier, but I think you have to explain yourself less. And yet, feminism's job is to get us to not just accept our roles, but legitimately choose them.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sex and the City Girls

I wasn't going to comment about the summer movie phenom that's coming to bazillions of movie screens soon near you. (That's right, there really isn't any reason to get tickets early or stand in line in overly high heels. Really.) The proud chick-flick tradition of Thelma and Louise (even if they did end up offing themselves for their freedom) has begat the Manolo-clad foursome of a larger than life TV show turned (I'm just guessing here), over-hyped movie. It doesn't help that women aren't seeing a lot of women on screen this summer -- after all, when do we ever? I'm not going to the opening weekend (of course not, I am flying to NYC to see it the weekend after) and pink drinks give me a headache.

I mean who really needs "Sex" when we could have power? I'll take the reality Hillary Clinton show any day of the week. It's been a good run, but this summer it looks like we'll be back to having our fantasy on movies, and not in the White House.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Barely Legal

I don't want to brag or anything, but California just became an even cooler state to live in: we just got word that the state supreme court overturned the gay-marriage ban. And you that as California goes, so goes the nation.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Conventional Thinking

Like many Democrats these days, I have my eyes on the Convention. But that seems an awfully long time away from now -- it'll be in August. And miles away from W. Virginia, Kentucky and Puerto Rico.

It's funny. With Clinton winning West Virginia in a cake walk, she is still up against the conventional thinking that this is racism that got her where she is. I love the idea that these ignorant, no-education white men would happily vote for the status quo candidate: a 60-year-old, white woman. I can't believe that all these racists ran out and voted for a Democrat, and a woman at that.

I really can't wrap my mind around a Democratic party that turns out a 95% white voting population. So this victory rings a little hollow, since she has the racist vote, or at least 2 in 10 in the exit polls saying race played a factor, according to New York Times exit polls. So all these under-educated racially biased folks in West Virginia are happy to vote for the woman candidate over the black candidate?

One small point -- and I do hate to upset the conventional wisdom of this race. But if Clinton won so lopsidedly, over 60% looks like, then didn't she just by sheer majority, also get those Obama demographics, too: young people and people with college education? Oh, wait. She did. According to the New York Times, in one of the last grafs of its story:

She also won the support of most voters younger than 30, a group that has typically voted heavily for Mr. Obama. The New Yorker also edged out Mr. Obama among college graduates and higher-income voters, also groups Mr. Obama has relied on.
Not that race is a new factor in this race. The New York Times did a good job a couple of weeks ago of tracking the history of Democrats, race, and the southern strategy.

Race has been a marker in this election, just that there hasn't been such a white state. In North Carolina, where Obama won a similar lopsided victory, exit polls showed him winning 9 in 10 blacks.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Dame's Eye View

There's just too much out there for a card-carrying feminist like me to choose.

First, getting ready for the Sex and the City movie coming out at the end of the month, a story from ABC News says, it proves you can have sex at any age. Since when did 40 become octogenarian? And, if you believe Manohla Dargis' screed bemoaning the dearth of women in summer movies -- she dismissed SATC friends as a bunch of gay men in drag -- they're not women anyway. As the story on ABC tells it:

Today's middle-aged woman is a far cry from her dowdy and prudish mother.

"Women can be sexual at any age," Sari Locker, sexologist and author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Amazing Sex," told

"With advances today in both plastic surgery and fitness centers everywhere, and even the information about eating healthy out there, not to mention the beauty industry, women are really looking for youth far later in life," she said.

As someone getting ever closer to 40, I can't wait to tell my mother who came of age during the free love 60s and the second wave of feminism, the arrival of the pill and legalized abortion, how dowdy and prudish she is compared to me.

In other news, seems that Starbucks, having introduced its retro 70s logo of a woman showing some tail, is in danger of being boycotted for promoting slutty coffee. From the MoJo blog:

"The Starbucks logo has a naked woman on it with her legs spread like a prostitute," explains alarmist Mark Dice, of a Christian group called The Resistance. "Need I say more? It's extremely poor taste, and the company might as well call themselves Slutbucks."
I'm so glad we have groups like this to remind me of what's important in life. Sex and coffee.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Did the Fat Lady Sing?

It's odd when a victory is basically explained away as a defeat, as is happening in the news today with Hillary Clinton's win in Indiana.

There aren't too many races left, and it'll all be over in June, one way or the other. Still, the only ones who get to decide who the nominee is voters, delegates and superdelegates. And not pundits. More than anything this election season, they have proved to be less than worthless. Not that their errors in judgment have stopped them from prognosticating. But it should make us, the readers, the consumers of such opinion, wary.

Update: Mother Jones' blog has an astute analysis of Hillary's choices.

First, keep fighting like nothing has changed. When their candidate is challenged, Clinton supporters respond with huge monetary shows of support. And when their careers are challenged, the Clintons themselves kick it into another gear. Hillary Clinton can double down on the upcoming primaries in West Virginia and Kentucky (where she leads by large margins), ratchet up the calls to seat Michigan and Florida, make a zillion phone calls to superdelegates every day, and hope that Obama gets caught in another Reverend Wright-esque sandstorm. . .

Second, she can drop out immediately. Despite the calls for this that are certain to ring through Obama-friendly parts of the blogosphere today, this may not be the best option for Obama. If Clinton drops out this week, Obama may lose the upcoming primaries in West Virginia and Kentucky to someone who is not on the ballot. . .

Third, lay the groundwork for a graceful exit in a few weeks. Assuming that Clinton sees the end of the road on the horizon, this choice has several advantages over option number two. First, the Clintons have donated a lot of their own money to the campaign; staying in and continuing to raise funds allows them to retire some of that debt. Second, the last two weeks of the campaign can take a conciliatory tone, attempting to convince Democratic voters who have cast their lot with Clinton that Obama ain't so bad after all. . .

At this point, the race is all about Hillary Clinton's psychology. She and she alone has to choose one of these three options. . .

Monday, May 05, 2008

Straight Talk?

The NYT turned me on to this campaign. Once the general campaign gets into gear, we can start to remember what an anti-choice, scary candidate McCain is. But why wait? This NARAL spin-off organization is trying to jump-start the conversation, so we can be scared now.