The Unresolvable Paradox

Sunday, February 14th, 2010 · 139 Comments »

When long-time commenters write to tell me they’re confused, then I know that what we have here is a failure to communicate. The topic in question is Sarah Palin (who else?), and the scene of confusion is this thread.

So let me quote part of what I emailed to one commenter:

What drove me crazy about the third-wavers, which I guess I didn’t articulate well enough, was their insistence that feminism could only possibly be an attribute of far left liberals. People said things like “of course Hillary isn’t a feminist! She’s too mainstream!” It drove me nuts.

Regarding the “faux feminist freakazoid”: I should probably clarify that I was talking about being “on the road” to that — because in my mind, the end point of this kind of thinking is that you (not you personally) turn into Amanda Marcotte. Which is actually what I almost said, and substituted fff for that rather than name names.

The point I keep trying to make is that feminism is very simply about women’s equality. There are conservative feminists, liberal feminists, communist feminists, libertarian feminists, etc.—and that’s just on our western political landscape.

The other point I keep trying to make is that both policy and representation matter in the business of ending isms. It’s ideal if a political candidate combines both—which is why Hillary was great. But this is not always going to be the case. Which is what we have with Palin.

People keep trying to resolve the paradox, but it’s not resolvable.

I see this almost irresistible urge to resolve the paradox from both sides. People who detest Palin’s politics seem to feel compelled to conclude that she’s also a bust in terms of representation—she’s no good for women in any way at all, not a feminist, certainly not a role model, that her election wouldn’t represent anything special, that her running for office isn’t anything special, etc., etc.

On the other side, people who acknowledge Palin’s role as a representative and pathbreaker seem to feel compelled to conclude that her politics are also good—or at least okay, or at least not too bad.

In both cases, I think what’s really going on is that people are trying to resolve the paradox. But you can’t do it. As I said in the thread (and yes, I’m just going to quote myself here because I don’t have time this afternoon to write out a whole essay):

It’s entirely possible for a woman’s political aspirations to represent a blow for feminism (trying to be the first woman president) while her political positions spell bad news in other respects (which is true of most of what Palin espouses, in my opinion).

***

Things frequently have mixed results. Especially when we’re talking about something like ending racism or sexism or other isms, where both representation and policy matter.

Barack Obama, for example, is not doing much for Black America in terms of his policies. But that doesn’t mean that his election—the election of the first black president—didn’t represent a triumph of a sort. It was good thing in the sense of breaking barriers, etc.

***

I think that for the most part, the black community is better at recognizing that racial equality is a thing unto itself—better, I mean, than women are at understanding feminism. At least women today, in our post-Second Wave era.

There’s this attitude nowadays (and it really became painfully apparently in 2008) that feminism is a subset of liberal Democratic politics. And if you’re not a liberal Democrat, or you don’t ascribe to that whole agenda, then you can’t possibly be a feminist. Which is just ridiculous.

Feminism means equality for women. It’s vastly bigger and simpler than some bullet point on the DNC platform. You can be a feminist and be an Inuit seal hunter, for chrissake. You can be a feminist and be a Peruvian miner or a Nicaraguan nun or a Chinese office worker. Or an American member of the GOP.

The civil rights movement in this country maintained a focus on racial equality that allowed—and still allows—everyone to ascribe to it, regardless of their other political beliefs. Most black folks may roll their eyes at Michael Steele, but they’re not going to say, “well, he doesn’t really believe in racial equality. He doesn’t really believe in civil rights. In fact, he’d re-institute slavery if he could!” You can argue that Michael Steele is not doing anything for black folks and the GOP is a joke, etc., or even that he’s a craven opportunist—but you’ll still acknowledge that in his own way, he obviously believes in civil rights.

For some reason, women can’t seem to do that. It’s all or nothing. Don’t like Sarah Palin? Hate her Republican politics? Fine. But for heaven’s sake, you can still acknowledge that in her own way, she obviously believes in equal rights and considers herself a feminist. Even if you think the disastrous effects of her politics would outweigh any glass ceiling-breaking she might contribute.

But no; instead we get people claiming, like Jessica Valenti, that Palin is against everything feminism stands for. Everything!

Or even worse, people saying that she can’t be a feminist because she doesn’t like polar bears or something. For heaven’s sake. They’re separate things.

It’s ironic to me that I, of all people, should have to keep pointing this out. Ironic because I personally am extremely liberal. Far left radical feminist. But feminism is not just a subset of my political agenda. It’s one of the fundamental questions of human existence.

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139 Responses to “The Unresolvable Paradox”

  1. Sophie says:

    Incredibly well said. Thank you.

  2. CMH says:

    Its human nature to have no problem with their own hypocrisy.
    A good example of this is religion. If your a good Catholic you should follow what the Pope says, yet many Catholics don’t, and yet still consider themselves good Catholics.

    So someone can (and many do) hold positions that are contradictory and believe in both at the same time. In fact the only time they notice the problem is when two things they believe in conflict with one another then you will see soul searching about which of the two has priority, or in some cases they ignore the conflict all together.

  3. madamab says:

    Okay, Violet, I think I get what you’re saying. But here’s the crux of the matter for me.

    But for heaven’s sake, you can still acknowledge that in her own way, she obviously believes in equal rights and considers herself a feminist.

    It’s not obvious to me AT ALL what she believes or considers herself, especially when I see her throwing Republican women under the bus in elections and refusing to support the right of other women to control their own bodies.

    Nor do I, personally, care what she believes or considers herself. George W. Bush no doubt thinks he is a great guy, a compassionate conservative. Is he, objectively, considering he’s responsible for hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths in Iraq? No. Barack Obama gave himself a B+ as President. Does he deserve it, objectively, considering his promises and how he has broken almost all of them? No.

    All I care about is what her actions will do for feminism. I say, not a damn thing. She is the feminine face of the patriarchy, just as Barack Obama was the black face of the patriarchy.

    I grant you that symbolically, maybe, having a woman president will matter to some. What it says to me, however, is that if you are willing to throw other women and their equal rights completely under the bus, then you can possibly, maybe have a seat at the table. In effect, should she run and win, she will reinforce the patriarchy, not buck it.

    I agree wholeheartedly that there are conservative feminists. Dede Scozzafava, whom Sarah Palin threw to the wolves in NY-23, is one. That’s not the point from where I’m sitting. The point is that by my standards, Sarah Palin is not a feminist.

    Your definition of feminism may be different from mine, of course. I’d really like to hear how an anti-choice zealot like Palin can fit in, reconciling her ACTIONS instead of her alleged thoughts and beliefs with that definition.

    The only reason the “paradox” is “unresolvable” is because people won’t admit that a feminist cannot support the right of the State to interfere in my own private decisions about my body. (Once again: You can be personally against abortion and still be a feminist, as long as you don’t want to legislate against my reproductive rights.) If you support the overturn of Roe v. Wade, then you can’t be a feminist because you are saying that there is something about women that subjects their reproductive systems to state control, whereas there is nothing about men that should subject them to that same state control. How is that gender equality? How is that equal rights under the law? And if you don’t support that, on what planet are you a feminist?

    I just don’t see how you get around this, Violet. I don’t.

  4. jeff roby says:

    I remember watching the Country Idol singer reality show a few years back, and this female contestant talking about her boyfriend and how they have to work out who gets the Harley on any given night.

    The show was talking about the “country revolution,” but this was the revolution within the revolution. This is part of why the right is freaking out, not what the liberals in DC and New York and San Francisco, but what their wives and children and girlfriends are doing.

  5. Violet Socks says:

    madamab, I don’t know if you saw my response to you in the earlier thread. Here’s the recap:

    And yes, I do believe being pro-choice is the absolute MINIMUM for being a feminist. Of course there are anti-feminists who are pro-choice, but there are no feminists who are anti-choice.

    I disagree. We’ve been having this argument here on the blog since 2008, and it’s just an impasse. I respect your position. I personally, though, have known too many Catholic feminists and pre-Roe v. Wade feminists to think that there is no such thing as a feminist who opposes abortion. Several do. I think they’re completely wrong, and I think that their stance on abortion is in itself anti-feminist, but I acknowledge that these women are feminists in other respects.

  6. Aspen says:

    I liked Adrienne’s contribution on that thread when she said:

    Something about the perception that one is a traitor to the group really burns people up. (Whether or not the purported traitor has ever claimed fealty to said group.)

    I think this is the origin of a lot of the dislike of Palin by feminists.

    When Palin or Colin Powell or Obama fuck up, the racists and sexists believe they are being proven right. When W and Rumsfeld and Cheney fuck up, each is just an individual person fucking up.

    It sucks, but marginalized people have to be way more careful, and even paramoid, really, about who we get to represent us. Women, feminists did not choose Palin. Single women and lesbians and women of color and non-christian women did not choose her. She was chosen to represent right wing white men and their white wives (as long as the wives stay loyal). I resent that she is being held up by the msm and whoever listens to the msm as my only choice to get women represented.

  7. no pasaran says:

    Yes, both policy and representation matter but I think representation trumps policy. You can not advance any policy position without the power of numbers (=representation). Just look at the solidly pro-choice women in congress who were voting for the forced birther health care bill. It really does come down to the numbers and until parity is reached policy arguments are a distraction. Vote for women.

  8. myiq2xu says:

    She was chosen to represent right wing white men and their white wives (as long as the wives stay loyal).

    I have four sisters, all of whom are right wing white conservative Christians, three of whom live in Oklahoma along with my right wing white conservative Christian step-mother. All four are married.

    If you were at one of our family get-togethers the last thing you would think was “patriarchy.”

  9. Violet Socks says:

    It sucks, but marginalized people have to be way more careful, and even paramoid, really, about who we get to represent us.

    I hear you, but I’ve been ignoring that for so long that it doesn’t faze me. I just don’t worry that people will conclude that women are dumb and shallow because one woman is. Fuck that. It’s ridiculous.

    For me, my angst over Palin is much more personal and selfish. If she becomes the first woman president, I won’t be able to enjoy it. See, I want to be able to celebrate and revel in that milestone unreservedly. But if the first woman president is a conservative Republican…ay yi yi. The best I’ll be able to manage is mixed feelings.

  10. yttik says:

    “If she becomes the first woman president, I won’t be able to enjoy it.”

    That’s a shame, violet, and kind of symbolizes how the womans movement has gone off track. Now days it’s more about politics then it is about women.

    Consider Barky O’Bummer’s election. No matter how people felt about him, nearly everyone recognized the pivotal moment in history and felt pride about the country finally having elected a black man. Michelle Obama, another women I don’t care for, who can deny the impact on little black girls finally having a fashion icon that looks just like them?? I may be sick and tired of Betty Crocker role models myself, but I don’t deny the incredible power behind actually being able to feel as if you finally fit into the equation, you truly are part of the face of America.

  11. reg says:

    the most important thing(for women) is to get a woman through the glass ceiling.when you are truly past sexism is when the election of a woman is seen as unremarkable.worrying about Palin’s political views is concerning yourselves about short term things rather than long term goals.

  12. kmak says:

    Imagine the horror of not only having a miscarriage, but then being investigated and having a search warrant executed on your home/car/workplace by the local or state police for murder as a result!

    I’m going to have to side with madamab here. If a woman doesn’t even have the right to her own body, do any other rights really matter? The right to your own person is the fundamental right in a ‘free’ society after which all others follow.

    If a person’s belief system includes wishing for state involvement in a woman’s intimate, deeply personal reproductive decisions then they are clearly not a feminist. A feminist notion here or there is wholly insignificant if one truly holds this belief. Catholics or anybody else be damned. I am amazed that this is even up for debate.

  13. madamab says:

    Thanks, Violet. I did miss the response.

    It’s okay if we disagree as long as we don’t call each other names. We are on the same side, ultimately.

  14. octogalore says:

    Violet, well said. I agree that it is in women’s best interests for more women to be in positions of power, and this fact can coexist with those women who attain the positions being of varying (some, disagreeing) views on political issues. So that when a female candidate comes along whom we want to support, she will have less overall misogyny to deal with. And the same for us in our daily lives.

    RE Dede Scozzafava. I don’t think Palin’s not supporting her had anything to do with whether Palin is a feminist — just as not everyone here needs to support Palin politically to be a feminist. Scozzofava was pro-Obama’s stimulus package, had strong ties to organized labor, and voiced support for public option, all things most conservatives disagree with strongly. Based on her political views as she’s always stated them, of course Palin would not support Scozzafava.

    Similarly, I wouldn’t say that people in my state, CA, are automatically not feminists if they prefer Jerry Brown to Meg Whitman. I’ll be voting for Whitman, but there are certainly reasons beyond gender that a feminist could disagree with this position.

  15. madamab says:

    @10: kmak – I am too.

    I’m going to have a post tomorrow morning about this discussion on my blog. You might want to stop by if you’re interested.

  16. quixote says:

    I’m amazed that Violet even has to explain her point of view. And that not once or twice but, apparently, a lot.

    My gut feeling on feminists is with madamab. But I’ve been around the world about three times, lived for a long time in various parts of Eurasia and Oceania, grew up in a non-English-speaking family, etc., etc., etc. Truth is stranger than we can imagine. Some people work on a totally different and inconceivable set of rules. There’s no gut feeling to be had there. There’s very little shared experience to go on. It’s a big mistake not to take truly different people on their own terms and work from there.

    So, yes, inconceivable as it is to me that people feel like feminists and are anti-abortion, I know (although I don’t feel) that it can be done. and it’s a big mistake to slag off any potential allies in this fight.

  17. Violet Socks says:

    I’m amazed that Violet even has to explain her point of view. And that not once or twice but, apparently, a lot.

    I bet you’re not as amazed as I am!

    Re abortion, the huge irony for me is that I’ve been making the pro-choice argument since 1976. I’m as adamantly pro-choice as you can be. And the people I’ve been arguing with all these years are the very people that so many here don’t seem to know exist. And now I find myself in the position of explaining that yes, they exist…

    I am amazed that this is even up for debate.

    With all due respect, what that tells me is that the only feminism you know is the post Roe v. Wade mainstream feminism of modern America. I wonder, do you even know that before Roe, many feminists in the movement thought abortion was a distraction and that it was a huge mistake for women’s lib to agitate for abortion rights?

    There are lots of people all over the world whose vision of feminism has nothing to do with abortion.

    Now, I would be the first to argue (as I’ve done many times) that if you follow things out to their logical conclusion, then government intervention in a woman’s reproductive life is fascist and oppressive and wholly incompatible with women’s freedom. But dig it: people don’t follow things out to their logical conclusions. People don’t think much at all. They’re contradictory and inconsistent and frequently full of shit. Welcome to the human race.

  18. Lori says:

    I know what Palin’s rhetoric on abortion is but I don’t know where she would land in office. No matter how you look at it, she’s a wild card. Because of Trig and her grandchild (carried to term at the most inconvenient time imaginable), she has street cred that no other Republican has ever had who ran for the presidency. Palin has the ability to move the Republicans back towards the center and it may be in her electoral interest to do so.

    I don’t think we should presume we know where she will land on any issue. She always talks farther right than she actually lands. For instance, she won’t acknowledge that human actions are responsible for global warming but she says definitively that in Alaska you can see it’s impact. Because of that two step, no one knows how her policies would unfold if she was president.

    I think she’s a wild card. I’m not going to vote for her because she’ll be running on a Republican ticket and I don’t vote for Republicans. But I’m not going to presume at this point in time, that her administration would behave like any previous Republican administration.

  19. Violet Socks says:

    No matter how people felt about him, nearly everyone recognized the pivotal moment in history and felt pride about the country finally having elected a black man.

    This is true. However, what if it had been Alan Keyes? Because that’s a closer analog to Palin.

    If Alan Keyes had become the first black president, would the reaction have been as rapturous? I will answer my own question: no, it wouldn’t. However, it would still have been more enthusiastic than what Palin will get (if she becomes president).

    As an extreme conservative, Keyes does not track with the larger body of progressive thought and activism, which is what brought us civil rights in the first place. He doesn’t track with the generally liberal black political landscape. So if he had become the first black president, there would have been quite a bit of dissonance there. Though still, I think people would have acknowledged the milestone, and there would have been some kind of basic civic pride in having achieved it.

    Palin, I think, will get almost none of that civic pride. For all the reasons that we know: women aren’t a tribe, there is no such thing as women’s community pride, feminism is much weaker than civil rights consciousness, etc., etc.

  20. kmak says:

    I wonder, do you even know that before Roe, many feminists in the movement thought abortion was a distraction and that it was a huge mistake for women’s lib to agitate for abortion rights?

    Thanks for responding and, heck, for providing this great space to have such discussions. I am aware of this history and certainly abortion rights have become synonymous with women’s lib. I can also understand why people within the movement were concerned about this and I agree that there are many, many other elements needed to achieve true equality for women.

    What I’m arguing goes far beyond abortion, although that is how I framed it (and I am focusing on specifically on American dynamics). It’s about a person’s right to their body (man or woman). If you don’t have that, you don’t really have shit. That’s why the shaky status of habeas corpus is so monumentally important at the moment (again, narrowing the discussion to America). I just have a hard time grasping how women can be free or equal if their bodies become the property of the government [at time of conception]. What other feminist goals being achieved would provide balance to state-enforced pregnancy?

    * * * * *

    And I guess my question along the lines of representation vs. policy becomes this: At what point is the line drawn? Or is there even a line?

    Further, if the face of the movement against women’s equality becomes that of an enormously powerful woman, isn’t that incomprehensibly dangerous to the feminist movement?

  21. Violet Socks says:

    I just have a hard time grasping how women can be free or equal if their bodies become the property of the government [at time of conception]. What other feminist goals being achieved would provide balance to state-enforced pregnancy?

    You need to go talk to the pro-lifers about that.

  22. Representation says:

    Oppressions occur on three levels: institutional (policy, laws), symbolic (representational, media, role modeling) and personal. Palin talked back every time she was subjected to sexism in the last 18 months. This type of role modeling ends oppression on the symbolic and personal levels.

  23. Representation says:

    If choice were enshrined in law forever more, representation and role modeling at the highest levels would still be necessary to end sexism in the culture, in schools, in the workplace, in homes and between spouses.

  24. Sophie says:

    Just throwing this data point out there; I work with a woman who is pro-choice, votes for all the candidates with Ds after their names (except for her bouts of CDS), has a career that is due to the work of the feminist movement (certainly not due to her performance), and adamantly (and loudly) proclaims she is not a feminist nor does she believe in anything feminists believe in and has nothing nice to say about feminists in general. I personally don’t know what to make of her, but suspect she is not the only one who feels the way she does.

  25. cellocat says:

    Granting the existence of the paradox, I still think that if we form a Justice Party, it needs to have pro-choice as one of its platform items. We can still work with feminists and other women and men who are not comfortable becoming members of a party with that clear identification. But one can take a stand even if all the i’s are not dotted, and some of the t’s are not crossed. Just because human nature and experience is messy and contradictory, doesn’t mean we can’t take stands and stick by them.

    I agree with Lori #18 that Palin is a wild card. It is impossible to know what she would do; there isn’t enough of a record there to show a consistent course.

  26. Violet Socks says:

    I still think that if we form a Justice Party, it needs to have pro-choice as one of its platform items.

    Oh god yes. After all, we already have two anti-choice parties.

    …adamantly (and loudly) proclaims she is not a feminist nor does she believe in anything feminists believe in and has nothing nice to say about feminists in general. I personally don’t know what to make of her, but suspect she is not the only one who feels the way she does.

    Yeah. In my experience, if women identify themselves as feminists, that’s already half the battle. This is why I’m fascinated by madamab’s approach: to actually reject self-identified feminists.

    I imagine going to a Chicana Catholic feminist group, maybe some women running a domestic violence shelter, and informing them that despite what they may have believed, they are not in fact feminists. Nope. Fuck you!

    See, my approach (if I were to bring up abortion at all) would be to appeal to them as feminists, to ask them to think about how their commitment to women’s freedom and equality could really be sustained in a world where women didn’t have control over their bodies.

    Whereas, if I’m understanding madamab correctly, her approach would be, well, no approach at all. Just a declaration that these women are not feminists, can’t possibly be, because they don’t grasp the central role of abortion in women’s emancipation.

    I really don’t think that works. I’ve spent time with latina feminists and black feminists and native feminists over the years, and the common thread isn’t abortion. The common thread in feminism is women’s power and equality. But women come at abortion very differently depending on their background, and I really don’t see the value of ignoring that. I also really, really don’t see the value in excluding women who already consider themselves feminists. My preference would be to capitalize on their feminism, to leverage that to get them to expand their opinions.

  27. Lori says:

    What other feminist goals being achieved would provide balance to state-enforced pregnancy?

    I suspect the answer to that would be the financial ability and the community support to raise children comfortably.

    If anti-choice types were genuinely anti-abortion rather than anti-woman, they would be lobbying to provide all women with the financial means to make sure the kids are raised well. Make sure she has the ability to go back to school to get better training, even if she’s after a PhD and it’s gonna take all eight years. Make sure there is community day care so she’s not saddled with kids every moment of her life. Make sure that her retirement isn’t compromised because she’s a parent. And make sure there is attractive, safe, affordable housing for her and her family as well health care and transportation. It’s what they do in Scandinavia and it works there. But of course, the anti-choice people aren’t lobbying for those things because most of them are anti-choice because they want to make women’s lives worse not because they moral qualms about abortion.

  28. MW: Is The Palin Paradox Really Unresolvable? « The Widdershins says:

    [...] usual, I’m following up on a great discussion Violet Socks is having at her site, Reclusive Leftist. You may disagree with her, but she always has something interesting to [...]

  29. Adrienne in CA says:

    What other feminist goals being achieved would provide balance to state-enforced pregnancy?

    Well, it’s not like we can’t imagine that situation. Before Roe, woman were already under state-enforced pregnancy. Roe gave women power over our bodies for a time. But that power has been steadily eroded over the years, to the point that now, depending where you live or how much money you can get, Roe might as well never have passed. What was given was gradually taken away, certainly in spirit, if not yet in practice. I don’t recall getting anything in exchange.

    The most important feminist goal that any woman president, even a President Palin, would achieve would be to prove once and for all that a woman can hold the position of ultimate power in our society — power over men.  That would be a HUGE consciousness shift, one that no court could ever take away.

    Of course, Palin actually winning would present another paradox. While I’d absolutely rejoice that a woman achieved the highest leadership position in the land, I’d be sorry that it’s her and not someone whose worldview is more like mine. I’d be apprehensive about what she’d do, but no more apprehensive than I was about Dubya. No more apprehensive than I’ll be about whomever the next male Republican president will be.  

    *****A

  30. tinfoil hattie says:

    Violet, in the previous thread, you said:

    You can be a feminist and be an Inuit seal hunter, for chrissake. You can be a feminist and be a Peruvian miner or a Nicaraguan nun or a Chinese office worker. Or an American member of the GOP.

    And here’s where we part ways. Because you can’t be a feminist and work against women’s bodily autonomy. It’s larger than the abortion question. It’s the fundamental question of whether women are full human beings with the right to determine what happens to their own bodies.

    So that’s why I don’t like Palin. It’s why I didn’t/don’t like Obama. Or McCain. Or W. And it’s why I DID vote for Hillary Clinton.

    So no, I won’t vote for Palin just because she’s a woman and we need more women in office. Nor am I a faux-feminist third waver. I am someone who does not like the policies of Sarah Palin and therefore will not vote for her. In my opinion, voting for Sarah Palin because she’s a woman is similar to voting for Barack Obama because he’s a Democrat. And how’s that workin’ for us?

  31. Kookaburra says:

    Having grown up around conservative feminists, I think the major thing many people are missing is that if feminism’s larger goals are reached, Roe would be a non-issue because women who did not want to be pregnant would not become pregnant in the first place, and pre-natal healthcare would become advanced enough to make fetal and maternal death a thing of the past. In my experience, that’s what pro-life feminists are working for.

    The very fact that we need Roe is offensive. Hopefully in the future, people will look back on it and say…”What? They actually had a law about a medical procedure?” I agree with Violet – feminism is about MUCH more than Roe, and focusing on it has held feminism back.

  32. Sophie says:

    I’d be apprehensive about what she’d do, but no more apprehensive than I was about Dubya. No more apprehensive than I’ll be about whomever the next male Republican president will be.

    And I’d add, no more apprehensive than I am about Obama.

  33. Three Wickets says:

    I’ve met some brave feminists in China – successful high powered women fighting for women’s causes on various fronts. When asked about women’s rights in general, a top issue always is the state’s enforcement of the one child policy.

    A woman’s right to choose means no coerced pregnancies and no coerced abortions. Is that right?

  34. Representation says:

    Abortion is a fact of life in Europe and Asia. They won’t “roll back reproductive rights” in Europe and Asia. Sexism is a separate matter because they already settled the abortion issue. Sexism is rampant in most places in the world even where there is “abortion on demand.”

    The mistake is to limit feminism to liberals because all women need to join together to end sexism.

  35. Branjor says:

    ***voting for Sarah Palin because she’s a woman is similar to voting for Barack Obama because he’s a Democrat.***

    That does not seem like an accurate analogy to me. It’s more like voting for Sarah Palin because she’s a woman is simmilar to voting for Barack Obama because he’s black.

  36. Violet Socks says:

    So no, I won’t vote for Palin just because she’s a woman and we need more women in office.

    Who said you had to? Who said that you should? I don’t plan to vote for Palin. I think her politics are awful.

    Am I speaking a different language here? For the life of me, I can’t figure out why this is so difficult to parse.

    This whole post is about how Palin is an unresolvable paradox, how she can be good in one respect and terrible in another, and how you can’t collapse that paradox — and still, people keep insisting that it’s all one or the other.

    I say “acknowledge that Palin is trying to do a feminist thing by becoming the first woman president, even though her politics suck.” And somehow people hear that as “you must vote for Palin.”

    Jesus, I give up.

  37. yttik says:

    Life is full of paradoxes. Dick Cheney is running around saying it’s time to end DADT. Cindy McCain and her daughter have both posed in ads advocating gay marriage.

    What bothers me is when women portray Palin as the Greatest Evil Ever. The day Gibbs mocked Palin’s palm was the day Blago plead not guilty, Monserrate was suspended from the state senate for slashing up his girlfriend’s face, and Edwards proposed to his mistress. These are the human beings on the playing field that Palin is standing on.

    When people say they hate Palin and her politics, how can I not see patriarchal programming running through the debate? How can I not see the stereotype of the Evil Woman (and stupid, another paradox) hell bent on world domination, who unlike all the wonderful men before her, will use her power to screw us all over? The feminine arch types, the patriarchal stereotypes, are running rampant and out of control.

    This whole debate is so much bigger then simply whether or not anybody plans to vote for Palin. It’s about how women perceive other women, how easily our perceptions are shaped and manipulated, how uncomfortable we are with feminine power.

  38. Jumping in – The Feminist Paradox « Blue Lyon says:

    [...] keeps trying to make her point. Spirited discussion ensues. Feminism means equality for women. It’s vastly bigger and simpler [...]

  39. willyjsimmons says:

    Paradox indeed. (says the smelly man)

    Black folk considered Alan Keyes a traitor and a “sellout” from the jump.

    At the same time, Tavis Smiley is also considered a “sellout” while Obama simultaneously is NOT. (or a least the kind folks over at Jack and Jill politics aren’t willing to say so out loud)

    Yes, a paradox.

  40. HeroesGetMade says:

    If anti-choice types were genuinely anti-abortion rather than anti-woman, they would be lobbying to provide all women with the financial means to make sure the kids are raised well. Make sure she has the ability to go back to school to get better training, even if she’s after a PhD and it’s gonna take all eight years. Make sure there is community day care so she’s not saddled with kids every moment of her life. Make sure that her retirement isn’t compromised because she’s a parent. And make sure there is attractive, safe, affordable housing for her and her family as well health care and transportation. It’s what they do in Scandinavia and it works there.

    This is a very good point, and this is what real choice would look like. How did they get these policies in Scandinavia? I know that when Sweden elected a female prime minister back in the day, the first thing she set about doing was going after gender parity. Half of her cabinet was female, and from there on out, women were represented, and more importantly, a female way of exercising power emerged. Instead of hierarchies and dominance, there was power sharing and cooperation. So far as I know, Sweden’s about the only country in the world that had the huevos to criminalize prostitution for the buyer and decriminalize it for the seller. Somehow I can’t imagine that happening in any country run by men.

  41. Keri says:

    I find Palin fascinating (wouldn’t vote for her because on most issues she’s a straight out Reagan Republican) because of the paradox- she speaks out against sexism and is fiercely supportive of Title IX, etc… on most feminist issues. And even her antiabortion stance- for herself- doesn’t sound crazy.

    My mother’s best friend is also a christian conservative who other than anti abortion is fiercely feminist (she is registered as, and usually votes for the Democrat- she’s also fiercely pro labor unions, and anti big corporations), even as far as radical separatist when it comes to trusting men- she doesn’t trust any man. Her reason for being anti abortion is that she really does feel like it’s murder, it’s not rhetoric to her. She firmly believes in access to contraception for everyone, and believes sex education is a must.

  42. HeroesGetMade says:

    Having grown up around conservative feminists, I think the major thing many people are missing is that if feminism’s larger goals are reached, Roe would be a non-issue because women who did not want to be pregnant would not become pregnant in the first place, and pre-natal healthcare would become advanced enough to make fetal and maternal death a thing of the past. In my experience, that’s what pro-life feminists are working for.

    I grew up around conservative feminists who never called themselves feminists. I was educated by radical feminist nuns who never called themselves feminists, either. (Thanks, Violet, for recognizing that such people do indeed exist.) What’s interesting is that these people are fully on board with the concept of bodily autonomy for women, and even those who are Catholic would take up arms if you were to try to take away their birth control. Some women who are adamantly pro-life, not just pro-birth, are coming around to the fact that the pro-life movement is run by men who are not concerned with the sanctity of human life so much as controlling women. And yes, they’re not happy about that. They are not on board with many of the tactics the men who run the movement have devised, which amounts to basic terrorism – hunting down doctors who perform abortions, manhandling pregnant women trying to get access to clinics, harassing women in general when they seek birth control services.

    A common thread that ties most of the anti-abortion women I’ve known together is ironically that they were denied bodily autonomy at a very early age. Some of them were denied choice by being coerced into abortions by parents or boyfriends and mistakenly think the fault lies with the law, rather than the people who trespassed against their personal sovereignty. Some of them were molested as children by relatives and grew up with the crazy idea that lack of bodily autonomy simply comes with the female package. The people in the former group are easier to reach common ground with, but the people in the latter group are much more difficult to reach at all since they’ve been psychologically damaged by abuse that they’ve come to think of as normal.

    One thing I have learned above all else is that the conversation changes dramatically once the men have been banished from the conversation. And why shouldn’t they be? They’ll never get pregnant, and most of the time, they’ll never be forced to deal with the immediate consequences, either way. Somewhat surprisingly, the pro-lifers I know had no qualms at all about this last, and the conversation got right down to practicalities, foremost among them that women should be deciding these things themselves, not politicians, not preachers, not doctors unless women decide to consult them.

  43. HeroesGetMade says:

    Granting the existence of the paradox, I still think that if we form a Justice Party, it needs to have pro-choice as one of its platform items. We can still work with feminists and other women and men who are not comfortable becoming members of a party with that clear identification.

    ITA with this, and think some common ground can be achieved with those who don’t identify as pro-choice if we stress that choice encompasses choosing to stay pregnant and give birth, no matter who opposes the woman’s decision – state, parents, sperm donor, whomever.

    The Justice Party is a brilliant concept, with the principle of fairness being universal to nearly everyone and completely non-partisan. Fitting right in with fairness is balance if any sort of justice is to be achieved. Gender balance is critical to any kind of justice, especially social and economic. The establishment is male, and any woman running for high office is by definition, anti-establishment. I won’t vote for any woman, though. There is a bridge too far, and for me that’s women who are anti-woman. They don’t have to call themselves feminists, but they do have to refrain from hating on other women. I’ll never vote for an Ann Coulter or a Phyllis Schafley; they don’t believe women should have the vote or even leave the domestic realm, so why should I enable them to trespass against their own wishes? The one action of Palin’s that I see as problematic is nominating an MRA rape enthusiast attorney general – she needs to explain what she was thinking on that one. As far as being an anti-abortion zealot, I’m more concerned these days with what people do rather than what they say. Faced with her daughter’s pregnancy in the limelight and in the thick of the fray, Palin came off as downright pro-choice in her words, and to my knowledge, she’s not personally taken one action to infringe upon any other woman’s right to make that decision for herself.

    She’s definitely a wild card, but some things she’s done give me the impression the GOP talking points are holding her back from her true rogue nature. Whoever heard of people of any other state sharing the profits from their natural resources? She aint exactly Hugo Chavez, but there’s not too many other governors cutting in on oil company profits and redistributing the wealth to the people.

    I think Hillary and Sarah should have a sitdown, if for no other reason than to make small minds implode. My pipe dream is to have Hillary and Sarah run on the first Justice Party ticket. Hillary as president, of course. Age (and all that comes with it) before beauty, not that there aren’t a few things Hillary couldn’t learn from Sarah, especially roguery.

  44. FembotsForObama says:

    Dang it, Violet, trying to just lurk today, but now I gotta chime in…

    You are summing up much of the paradox I saw when I was a part of my local NOW. Many members would volunteer and be on the phone tree, etc. BUT did not want (and emphatically stated so) their $ to go to “pro-abortion” efforts or called for pro-abortion issues, but they would show up to meetings and non-pro-choice events. This blew any pre-conceived notions about the abortion debate I had out of the water.

    And all movements (or isms) have some ideological split, it seems, that goes along the lines of radical-conservative. Political parties are obvious. Then you have social movements — the counter-culture and other isms in the 60′s, heck even the communists had this debate. I find our choice of which term we choose to use in defining abortion rights — pro-choice vs. pro-abortion– to be telling of that split within the abortion issue.

    The paradox in how view the issue is based upon the term we use. I use pro-choice but am nearly 100% sure that I wouldn’t have an abortion. I personally don’t like the term “pro-abortion” but it is the correct usage for the opposite – “anti-abortion”. But I’m also one of those who is personally against abortion (as I wouldn’t choose it and would discuss the adoption issues with my nieces) but doesn’t believe in enforcing my choice on others.

    As far as Palin, she is a wild card. Although she is a fundie in the sense we liberals know it, she isn’t in the conservative sense. She pointed out that the Assembly of God church was “too radical” for her. A religious sect that my own mother attends (and I had when younger) but was one of the lesser radical churches we went to. My mother and sisters don’t self-identify as feminists, but some of my sisters are, even my mother arguably who stood up to her bosses to argue for her equal pay. Even Hillary is a Methodist. So, it’s hard to pin Palin down on those standard religious terms. Her appointing of a pro-choice state justice is perplexing: could be a smart political move, or more aligned with her ideology.

    I’m with you, how do we solve the paradox? The New Agenda seems to be dealing with this struggle right now too.

  45. Cheerleaders or lynch mob? « The Confluence says:

    [...] you haven’t seen it yet please go read The Unresolvable Paradox by Violet Socks at Reclusive Leftist. Here’s a taste: I see this almost irresistible urge to [...]

  46. votermom says:

    One of the reasons I would vote for Palin (again) is pragmatic. If she runs and wins, it shows both parties that putting a woman on the top of the ticket is a political winner.
    How long did it take after Ferraro lost for another woman to run as VP? And it wouldn’t have happened if McCain had been less desperate.
    So-called feminists should pull their heads out of their behinds and think of that.

  47. Violet Socks says:

    I’m with you, how do we solve the paradox?

    First of all, I would point out that the paradox isn’t about abortion. It’s about the fact that sometimes representation (as a woman or a minority) and politics (advocating things that help women or minorities) don’t always match up. Margaret Thatcher, for example. Or Alan Keyes, who is getting more of a workout in this thread than ever in the entire history of my blog. Poor Alan.

    How do you solve it? You don’t. You take it on a case by case basis. How bad are the person’s politics? How much value do they offer as a representative? What else is going on (since all politics is contextual)?

    Palin, like all women, deserves to be able to act on the political stage without being subjected to sexism or misogyny. And regardless of whether we support her politically, her existence (I think) represents an advance (just as Thatcher’s did, despite her horrible politics). The history books record who was first, not what she believed. The advance of women into previously forbidden fields is a milestone, always.

    Nevertheless, we as feminists and citizens aren’t compelled to support Palin just for that reason, just as British feminists certainly weren’t compelled to support Thatcher. I do think we are obligated to give credit where it’s due, and to acknowledge honestly what Palin is trying to do. We don’t have to collapse the paradox and decide that because we hate her politics, she doesn’t have some value as a pathbreaker.

  48. Violet Socks says:

    To be clear: I think that the parallel I just drew with Margaret Thatcher is only partially apt. Palin, in my view, is much more of a self-described feminist, much more vocal about the women’s movement and her debt to it. Thatcher was notorious for distancing herself from feminism.

  49. lambert strether says:

    “We don’t have to collapse the paradox…”

    Golden words, Violet…

  50. tinfoil hattie says:

    I say “acknowledge that Palin is trying to do a feminist thing by becoming the first woman president, even though her politics suck.” And somehow people hear that as “you must vote for Palin.”

    Well, that’s not true. Nowhere did I say, “Violet says I should vote for Palin!” Others on this thread and the previous thread have said exactly that, and that is what I was responding to.

    Where I disagree with you is that she is a feminist. I gave my reasons, you gave yours. We disagree. I hardly think patriarchy will stand or fall based on that.

  51. tinfoil hattie says:

    First of all, I would point out that the paradox isn’t about abortion.

    You keep saying “abortion,” and others keep saying, “bodily autonomy.” Of course it’s not about abortion. It’s about women’s right to be in charge of our bodies, no matter which right-wing Christian feminists think abortion is murder.

  52. yttik says:

    Speaking of murder, cynicism, and paradoxes, the odds favor Obama declaring war on Iran. Then the skies will open up, celestial chroirs will sing, people will rally a second term for their war president, the status quo will be preserved and all will be right with the world, and nobody will ever have to worry about the Palin paradox again.

    Now everybody can stay in their comfort zones and return to their regular scheduled programming.

  53. Violet Socks says:

    You keep saying “abortion,” and others keep saying, “bodily autonomy.”

    Oh, right, thank you. Because of course I don’t know that. Because of course I haven’t been fighting for abortion rights since before you were even a feminist.

    Actually, you’re not talking about abortion at all. If you were, you would have noticed by now that I agree with you. Of course criminalizing abortion is incompatible with feminism.

    What this is really about is the status of women who consider themselves feminists and who are opposed to abortion. You believe you have the right to decide whether they’re feminists. You’re the gatekeeper of the club. Do you have any idea how much that enrages Hispanic women and native women? Do you have any idea what it sounds like when you insist that these women aren’t feminists, no matter what they think about themselves?

    It’s not enough for you to argue with them — which is what I would do, appealing to them as sister feminists to reconsider their approach. No, you feel you get to decide whether they are feminists or not.

    You do that. Let me know how it goes.

  54. Representation says:

    Commenters here and elsewhere who want to vote for Palin were moderates, Independents and Republicans to start with.

  55. Sandra S. says:

    Representation-

    That may be true in many cases, but not across the board. I’m about as old-school FDR liberal as they come (I’m considered a radical leftie back home in Canada), and I would absolutely vote for Sarah Palin (unless she were running against Hillary). I want the milestone, and I think she’s demonstrated pretty decent integrity thus far. Which is more than I can say for pretty much anyone else. She doesn’t read like a corporate shill, and although I disagree with nearly all of her positions, I also disagree with nearly all of the positions of the people she’d be running against. I’d rather be stabbed in the front.

  56. angie says:

    First, let me say I agree 100% with Violet about Palin & thank her for her excellent analysis as always. And I do acknowledge Palin’s role as a representative and pathbreaker but have no need to try to conclude that her policies are good or “not that bad.” They aren’t — they are just like Reagan’s policies & I don’t like them one bit. And, btw, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t vote for her against any man, because, like Sandra S., I do want that milestone & lets face it, Obama isn’t exactly panning out to be the “Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years rolled into one” for women like Naomi Wolfe promised.

    But I really have to point out something that is irking the heck out of me: I find the offense that some self-described feminists take at Palin describing herself as a feminist to be not only disturbing, but plain old ridiculous. Autonomy allows a person the right to self-determination — it’s right there in the definition for cripessake! For someone to say that she “doesn’t care how Palin describes herself” is pretty problematic when she is also saying she believes women should have personal autonomy. Or maybe the argument is that only women that she deems to be worthy (such as pro-choice women) are entitled to autonomy, which is pretty much just a modification of the patriarchy’s tenet that no women are entitled to it. (Lucky me, I’m pro-choice — guess I have a shot at joining the super-cool clique of feminist “Heathers” if Jessica Valenti deigns to let me in). Finally the obsession with Palin’s pro-life beliefs (or any other woman’s pro-life beliefs) re: her right to label herself a “feminist” borders on hysteria, imo. My history may be fuzzy, but didn’t Susan B. Anthony oppose abortion? Yeah, yeah, I know the meme that “abortion was an unsafe procedure at the time” as a way to cut Anthony slack, but still under the “minimum requirements” test proposed by some in this thread, Anthony does not, in fact, qualify as a feminist. Furthermore, Palin has said several times that she doesn’t believe a woman should be subjected to criminal charges for having an abortion. I’ve heard her say this with my own ears. Yet she is still characterized as a “pro-life zealot” who wants to criminalize a woman’s reproductive choice. Zealot? Really? What’s the basis for that? Is it because she didn’t abort a down’s syndrome child? Because she says that although her daughter’s life is going to be harder then it would have been, she’s glad she had the baby? Frankly, as a woman who considers herself pro-choice (and who probably would abort a down’s syndrome child and who probably would abort a child conceived while still in high school if I had been faced with either situation) I find that a lot of other so-called pro-choice women don’t think choosing to have the baby is a valid choice, or at least that is what their arguments are beginning to sound like to me. Again, I’m not trying to pretend Palin’s policies are good or even “not that bad,” I just want her to be criticized for what she actually is.

  57. myiq2xu says:

    Commenters here and elsewhere who want to vote for Palin were moderates, Independents and Republicans to start with.

    You’ve done background checks on each one? Wow!

    What about the commenters who would only vote for Palin in some circumstances? Like someone who would vote for Hillary over Palin but would vote for Palin over Obama?

  58. tinfoil hattie says:

    You believe you have the right to decide whether they’re feminists. You’re the gatekeeper of the club. Do you have any idea how much that enrages Hispanic women and native women? Do you have any idea what it sounds like when you insist that these women aren’t feminists, no matter what they think about themselves?

    Wow. Okay for thee but not for me, eh? To wit:

    I think a lot of unfeminist women (and that sadly includes some women who think they’re feminists) are operating on a scarcity model.

    such as Amanda Marcotte and other “faux feminist freakazoids?”

  59. sharon says:

    Good discussion! I am hearing a couple of things boil to the surface here, and Violet is doing a great job at bringing them out of the background.

    1. In an ideal world, as others have articulated, the abortion debate is a non-issue because women who choose to have children have access to resources for mothering. As most of us moms today have experienced, in this country, the burden of raising children falls on the backs of mothers and low-paid workers. If you’re in this system, you quickly get it that raising children is actually a penalty in our society for women, and you pretty much need a wife, as a woman, to do it. Similarly, women who choose not to have children…don’t have to. They have access to medical care and contraceptives without any barriers.

    2. The fact that women bear the brunt of child-rearing responsibility, and are often discriminated against as mothers, even in this advanced society, means that we’ve been backpedaled to defending our right to abort children. This is the only way we can preserve our status as producers in an economy that has little tolerance or assistance for those not actively engaged in producing. Raising children is not producing. It’s not counted in the GDP. Therefore, it’s ‘extracurricular’, to be done on your own time when you can get around to it. Women know this, and resent being forced into it, so here we are: defending our right not to be forced into it by ensuring that last safety hatch stays open for us.

    3. Point 2 is now a litmus test as to whether or not one is a feminist, when it feels like addressing point 1 would be the real work of feminism.

    I agree with Violet: I’ve worked with a lot of non-white women who are undeniably feminist, and who don’t feel that abortion is the central issue for them. Point 1 is more of the central issue for them, as is access to jobs, education, advancement, financial security, and a better life for their children. Sometimes, checking in on feminist sites, it doesn’t feel that any of these things are being addressed. We’re all still talking about abortion. This doesn’t resonate for them. So they leave the camp. And then we call them out for not being feminists, which is keeping us all polarized. In fact, some of these women are doing remarkable things to advance the cause of women in many areas, but they’re outside the feminist camp because they’re not ardently pro-choice.

    Lastly, I can totally count Palin in the feminist camp, despite her views on abortion. Why? Because she is living as a self-empowered woman, and she doesn’t feel restricted in any way to make her own decisions, despite what others may think or feel about them. I love that! I may not like her personal decisions or political views, but I am thrilled she has the autonomy to make them. Don’t we want that for all women???? Just because she didn’t choose what liberals would have liked doesn’t make her automatically non-feminist, anymore than it makes black women non-feminist because they don’t want to ascribe to a philosophy that demands they resent their men. Is Mother Theresa a feminist? She didn’t let her sex stop her from loving the world while trying to help save it. Did she support abortion? Does that even matter against what she achieved? Don’t we want women to be able to go anywhere in the world and do anything? Would we kick them to the curb because of a litmus test that demands they avidly support a medical procedure we have been forced to fall back on as a last fail-safe?

    I have always been pro-choice, but have felt, like Violet, that getting stuck here keeps us running in circles. In order to get women in office, we’re going to have to be able to open that camp a lot wider to women who currently see feminism as pro-lesbian and pro-abortion and thus, anti-them. I totally get the endgame that limiting a woman’s bodily autonomy is the wrong way to go, but I’d rather see us assert a woman’s self-sovereignty in EVERY AREA. We want to move forward to rightfully take our place on the public stage as a force to be reckoned with, and the only way to do that is to stop polarizing ourselves, and demand that our society support and acknowledge us as women, rather than as sub-humanoids that have an unfortunate pre-existing condition that renders us liable for giving birth.

  60. octogalore says:

    I can understand (and agree with) the sentiment that there’s a feminist position on choice (ie, pro) and an anti-feminist position.

    But I agree with Violet that having an entrance requirement is counterproductive.

    Women already have much less leverage in fighting for equality within politics, the workplace, and the home. Feminism is what people identify as the movement to combat this. So why limit our ranks, when dealing with issues outside the one in contention? Nobody is arguing that NARAL include anti-choice women. I do believe that once people feel cast out of a movement, they don’t feel as strongly about fighting for its many goals.

    In other justice movements, dealing with race, environmentalism, poverty, etc., there doesn’t seem to be such a desire on the part of the participants to exclude others. It’s disappointing that in a women-centered movement, with the additional vulnerability of not being incorporated in other justice movements to the extent the reverse happens, there is this urge to narrow our ranks.

  61. FembotsForObama says:

    sharon @58 — What you said is exactly what I was trying to convey with my remarks that I met women who were members of NOW who supported all other strives for women’s personal autonomy outside of abortion.

    Representation @54 — your contention is just plain WRONG. Many liberals voted against Obama by voting for the McCain/Palin ticket. Obama’s own actions, and the dismantling of the Dem Part that is ensuing, are proving that my decision to register a protest vote was right! Why do we need a republican to weaken the liberal movement (i.e., antiwar) when we have Obama?

  62. monchichipox says:

    Can’t you make peace with the paradox instead of trying to solve it? I can’t compete with the feminist writings above. I haven’t got all the terms down pat. But here’s what I believe. I am as strongly anti abortion as Violet is pro abortion. Yet I’ve given up arguing the issue. Here’s why. Abortion is here to stay. Republicans know they will never have the votes or power or determination to overturn it. Democrats know this but don’t ever want you to believe that your right to an abortion isn’t just five minutes away from being taken away.

    So my way of fighting abortion is based on the reality of the situation. I work for education and availability for contraception and awareness of abortion alternatives. I’ve made peace with the issues and the fact is abortion will never be illegal.

  63. Violet Socks says:

    One problem here is that I have a fundamentally different view of feminism. To me it’s not a club at all. It’s a political philosophy. In terms of attracting adherents, it’s almost more like a religion than a club. I want everyone to be a feminist, the way Christians want everyone to be a Christian. Christians will talk about “bad Christians” before they’ll say “oh, that person isn’t a Christian at all, doesn’t meet the requirements.” I think of feminism and feminists much the same. If you believe in feminism, good for you. That’s half the battle. As for whether you’re doing a good job of it, and whether your beliefs and behavior really match up, well, that’s another thing.

  64. tinfoil hattie says:

    But I think you know that that’s not quite the same thing as popping up in every thread wherever Amanda is mentioned and saying, “She’s not a feminist. She’s simply not a feminist, no way, no how, in no respect. And no, she doesn’t consider herself a feminist either. In fact, you can’t even use the word feminist in the same room as her.”

    I’d really love you to show me where I’ve done this – about anyone. Really. Because this completely mischaracterizes my comments here for the last couple of years.

    I gave a reason why I don’t believe Sarah Palin is a feminist. Some people agree with me. Some people do not. Please stop making me out to be a “gate-keeper” and a hater of Hispanic and native women and a thread-hijacker who “pop[s] up in every thread” to say (insert preferred name here) is not a feminist. All of that is patently false.

    I haven’t called you any names. I haven’t accused you of doing anything bad. I’m entitled to the same respect.

  65. Violet Socks says:

    Good lord. I accidentally deleted my own comment. Fricking Russian spam. Anyway, tinfoil hattie said this:

    such as Amanda Marcotte and other “faux feminist freakazoids?”

    And my reply is that in fact, I do think that believing sexism is fine as long as it’s directed against women you don’t like is about as unfeminist as believing abortion should be illegal. But I don’t see anyone excluding Amanda from the feminist club.

    And I’m not excluding her either. I consider her an extremely bad feminist. But there’s a difference between arguing that someone is behaving very badly, or holds unfemininist beliefs, and declaring that whole groups of women cannot be considered feminist because they don’t meet the mainstream white middle-class American standard for feminism.

  66. Violet Socks says:

    Oh, tinfoil, you had my comment that I accidentally deleted. Anyway, I reposted the same thought (just above) and I think I did a better job of expressing what I meant. No, I’m not personally accusing you of being a thread jack-in-the-box. I’m talking about this sweeping rejection of women whose feminism doesn’t include a belief in abortion rights.

  67. m Andrea says:

    There is either a need for criteria, or there is not. But if no criteria exists then everyone is feminist. If there is no criteria, then the MRAs are automatically femininst. The judge who sentences all rape victims to stoning, is feminist. Do you see the problem yet? If “everybody” is a feminist, then sexism does not exist and women are already liberated. So some criteria must exist which seperates the non-feminists from the feminists.

    Real feminism is about liberating females from a sex-based oppression. It is not a friendship circle jerk for insecure imbeciles who are afraid they won’t measure up to the criteria.

  68. Violet Socks says:

    Hello? The criteria is believing in equal rights for women. That’s what feminism is.

  69. monchichipox says:

    It’s a bit like the Salem witch trials. Give her a good dunking. If she drowns she was a good feminist, if she doesn’t drown they she wasn’t and we’ll burn her. Trouble is they always drown.

    Someone who is 80% your friend isn’t your enemy.

  70. fortherecord says:

    Someone who is 80% your friend isn’t your enemy.

    The implication apparently being that Sarah Palin is 80% friend? Come ON.

    There is ALSO infinitely divisible middle ground between “enemy of feminism” and “80% friend to women.”

    Given the overall number of woman-friendly Republican policies, and the overall number of Republican policies that Sarah Palin supports, I see no reason why the rules of politics have to be ENTIRELY SUSPENDED to discuss her, simply because she’s a) not particularly egregious/offensive as Republicans go (as long as you’re not offended by women), and b) unfairly attacked (for being a woman).

    I mean, I don’t see Olympia Snowe taking a lot of woman-friendly healthcare action lately, and she’s overall QUITE a bit higher “percent friend” to feminism than Palin.

    This Sarah-Palin-personality-cult thing is SO dangerous. Palin isn’t dangerous or bad, but the fact that she has become Such. A. Symbol. to so many people — who [think that they] “voted for her” or who [think that they] will [be able to] “vote for her” in the future…

    It’s a really incredible fraud. Palin is smart enough to tap into these sentiments and use them for her own ends, and more power to her.

    But seriously, she’s not any more paradoxical, unresolvable, confusing, or insert-adjective than Mary Landrieu taking EMILY’s List money.

    So why does Palin have to make everybody’s head explode?

    Because she’s that much more powerful? I really don’t think so. Charismatic, yes. Backed by powerful people, sure. More powerful herself? No, at least not yet and in my opinion, not foreseeably.

  71. octogalore says:

    On the point (#70) about Snowe not being a friend to women.

    1. She is pro-choice.

    2. She has opposed cutting loans through the Small Business Administration. Note: more women than men, currently, are starting small businesses. Women-owned businesses employ over 30M people and have less access to funding sources like venture capital, so have more need of SBA loans to survive. She has supported special funding for minority & women-owned business.

    3. Snowe lists her top legislative priorities as assisting the growth of small businesses, prescription drug coverage, and student loan and child care funding.

    4. She worked to ensure passage of a non-discrimination act, which she had previously worked to pass for nearly eight years.

    5. Snowe is a member of The Wish List (Women In the Senate and House), a group of pro-choice Republican women.

    6. She’s voted NO on banning any (including partial birth and military base) abortions, YES on funding to reduce teen pregnancy by education and contraceptives; NO on parental notification; NO on banning HHS grants to organizations that perform abortions.

    7. She has supported establishing a Women’s Bureau in Dept. of Veterans Affairs.

    8. She voted for the Ledbetter Act.

    9. She supports same sex basic training.

    10. She supports setting aside highway funds for women and minorities.

    I think we could do a whole lot worse!

  72. fortherecord says:

    Oh, maybe you didn’t read my whole post.

    I don’t see Olympia Snowe taking a lot of woman-friendly healthcare action lately, and she’s overall QUITE a bit higher “percent friend” to feminism than Palin.

    Yes, we could do worse. We could, for instance, have Palin!

    But that was kind of my point. Just because Palin is a female Republican with a policy or 20 that feminists don’t like really doesn’t make her so darned confusing OR fascinating.

    Well, except for the Personality Cult thing. The symbology, mythology, etc. etc.

    Which is odd for non-conservative feminists to lend much credence to, given that there have been SEVERAL female VP and Presidential candidates now.

    Nobody is walking around going “OMG I am SO BEWILDERED by Olympia Snowe,” or “WTF is your PROBLEM, Olympia Snowe is SO OBVIOUSLY FEMINIST/NOT A FEMINIST.”

    She’s not as polarizing. Why not? Snowe is, after all, also a woman, so the Palin Polarization is probably not ALL due to misogyny (though most is).

    I don’t think it’s abortion, either. Liddy Dole was antichoice too(but more pro-choice than Palin re: rape and incest) and not nearly as rage-inducing for feminists.

    But nobody talked about Dole like her being VP was going to take us to The Mountaintop OR to Hell.

    And (had W run with her instead of Cheney) I think we’d all recognized “voting for/against Liddy” as the obscene scam it would’ve been.

  73. octogalore says:

    FTR, thanks. I did read your post but felt that you were damning OS with faint praise and a backhanded insult.

    The largest reason why OS isn’t perceived to be as polarizing is that being a woman in Congress doesn’t thrust someone into the news as much as being on a Presidential ticket. Palin’s every move enters the news cycle.

    Part of why people are threatened (including people who disagree with Palin but get more incensed by her than they would by a similarly situated male politician) is that the “cult of personality” is typically leveraged only by men in areas of power other than the entertainment industry.

    Instead of returning to relative anonymity after her ticket lost, as a patriarchy-compliant woman might be expected to do, Palin maintained visibility using tools male politicans and business execs do as a matter of course. She broke the rules for women, in a way Snowe hasn’t. That’s what makes her fascinating to a number of women who disagree with her on various policy issues.

  74. fortherecord says:

    I don’t see why anyone would presume Palin IS in an area of power outside the entertainment industry.

    She resigned her governorship and has a book and a media job.

    Her being in the news is a product of people wanting her to be in the news and her wanting to be in the news. The person who is our actual vice president is not in the news nearly so much, and wasn’t during the campaign, either. So, I wouldn’t blame the difference on Snowe and Palin on the ticket; Biden doesn’t get the same treatment.

    Yes, you may be entirely right that it’s a combination of the Cult of Personality + woman + office she ran for + major corporate backing (there was another woman, Rosa Clemente, who ran for VP last year, just to remind everyone).

    I’ll buy that.

    So, Palin is popular and polarizing because of the cult plus woman plus high-office plus bigtime backers.

    Mystery solved. It doesn’t mean we have to join the cult, or pretend it doesn’t exist, or pretend she’s more woman-friendly than she is, or puzzle over her.

    Violet’s exactly right when she says Palin’s a lot like Reagan (except more sincere/believable). Yup. And that cult of personality didn’t serve us very well, either. He wasn’t an awesome hero, it wasn’t morning in america, and frankly his opposition didn’t really do itself any favors by overestimating him.

    He should’ve been marginalized. AFAIC, she should too.

    Palin’s not a wizard, not a witch, not our savior and not the devil. She’s a politician with personal appeal and shitty policies. She DIDN’T RUN FOR PRESIDENT and anyone who believes she will be the Republican nominee is just delusional.

    That’s my line & I’m sticking to it.

  75. fortherecord says:

    Also, re: Snowe and damning with
    “faint praise” — I obviously sugarcoated the hell out of her healthcare shenanigans. So if she’s feeling damned, that’s kind of too damned bad.

    None of which makes her worse than that piece of shit Bayh, of course, or any of the other mostly-male senators.

    And she IS a Senator, after all. A longtime, well-regarded, somewhat powerful Senator.

    Frankly, I consider calling her “a woman in Congress” so as to contrast her with the Palinpalooza damn faint praise.

  76. octogalore says:

    It’s an interesting comparison to Hillary Clinton, in a way. There’s a reason for the fascination, in many quarters, about whether Hillary might run for President in 2012, taking on fellow Democrat Obama. While HRC has challenged patriarchal notions of women in various ways, including her last name, role in Bill Clinton’s administration, and running for president, she has also been traditional in other respects.

    She allowed Bill to run for Governor and be in the lead in pursuing a political path (they had talked about whether one or both of them should do this). She leveraged her role in his administration as part of her experience. She took a role with the campaign of the man who had beaten her (who shouldn’t have beaten her, IMO) in 2008. These are all arguably sensible things to do. But they are also in keeping with how women are expected to behave.

    It’s an exciting idea, for many women (myself included) for HRC to take on Obama in 2012. Both because many of us believe she’d be much better, but also because she’d be stepping outside of patriarchal boundaries and doing something more aggressive than women in business or politics are supposed to do.

    Palin, agree with her or not, has taken on her party. While HRC is now a multimillionaire mostly due to her husband’s business activities, Palin is a multimillionaire due to her own. When she wrote “Hi Mom” on her hand, after being lambasted by the male-run MSM for hand notes although she (to my knowledge) doesn’t use teleprompters, it was a “fuck you” to the male establishment that we haven’t seen from HRC. Most of us have wanted to be in a position to say “F off” to the patriarchy, and very few of us are able to do so. It’s cathartic seeing a woman from any political party do so.

  77. fortherecord says:

    While I’m predicting: Clinton pulling a Kennedy/Carter on Obama is equally ridiculous.

    I understand that living out the fuck-you scenarios is fun and fascinating. But the term is revenge fantasy for a reason.

    That’s not a message to lower one’s sights. It’s that if you want to vote for any women in 2012, it’s time to get your ass in gear working for one, rather than expecting either Palin or Clinton to immolate themselves on the altar of your pet fantasy.

  78. octogalore says:

    “I don’t see why anyone would presume Palin IS in an area of power outside the entertainment industry.”

    Really? Two words: death panels.

  79. lambert strether says:

    #78 octogalore: Ouch! And it’s worth contrasting Palin’s virulent and effective “death panels” with Obama’s shopworn and soon forgotten “fat cats.”

  80. Sameol says:

    “Which is odd for non-conservative feminists to lend much credence to, given that there have been SEVERAL female VP and Presidential candidates now.”

    Yeah, none of whom who had any chance at all of becoming President or Vice President. Except for the ones who did, who provoked all the hysteria. No one went into hysterics over Dole because no one thought she’d actually be picked, and why would they. In theory, woman candidates who aren’t running, aren’t going to be picked, and won’t come close to winning if they do run are fine. And it’s possible that a VP like Dole would actually be tolerated, even, since it seems likely that if she ran for President she wouldn’t come close to the nomination, even as a sitting VP. But in the unlikely event that a female candidate who has a chance springs fully formed from the head of Athena (as no one in the political pipeline fits the bill, especially with the demise of Coakley), watch what happens. Again.

  81. octogalore says:

    FTR @#77: of course, but none of that is actually responsive. HRC isn’t going to run in 2012. Palin isn’t going to win in 2012.

    But: my point is that the fascination with Palin stems from the fact that she is, in fact, living out the FY fantasy without needing to run or win. If you don’t think forcing the President of the US to respond to your Facebook posts is real, tangible power, can you think of anything the guy who DID win the VP spot has done that’s made an impact (not relevant for purposes of this discussion what direction you think the impact took things) on the HCR debate?

    Or, for that matter, as Lambert suggests, anything that the guy who won the Presidency has said or done?

    When women don’t win, they’re supposed to (see: Patriarchal Rules) just go away quietly, saying nice things about the folks (probably: guys) who did win. If they don’t get the positions they are trying for, they should not try to do anything to control the debate from outside those positions, as that would be unseemly (thus, your continued insistence that Palin only ran for office and resigned as Governor — implication, she has no formal power structure role and therefore isn’t really important!)

    Your point is well taken that FY fantasies usually are fantasies, for women. But not for Palin. And that is why, even for those who disagree strongly with her message, but are able to separate that from their feminism, the fascination.

  82. yttik says:

    What I don’t understand is the lack of perspective.I worry about Obama and war with Iran evolving into WW3 with China and Russia in the mix. I worry about Newt Gingrinch being elected president with a Republican majority in congress. I worry about total economic collapse. I worry about nukes, pandemics, terrorism, mother nature. But you talk to some people and they seem to view Sarah Palin as the Greatest Evil ever to threaten our world. It’s very much like the Hillary Derangement Syndrome that the Right spent years wallowing in. It’s so out of context that I can’t help but think we’re just all so deeply programmed to fear female power that we can’t even reason or rationalize anymore.

  83. votermom says:

    yttik 82:

    It’s very much like the Hillary Derangement Syndrome that the Right spent years wallowing in.

    That’s a great point. Palin is to the left what Hillary is (or was) to the right. evilPalin = evilHillary. (Which shows that left and right is infested with misogyny, but we knew that already).

  84. lambert strether says:

    votermom, I think you meant to write that ‘Palin is to the left what Hillary is (or was) to the right and was (and is) to the (“progressive”) left

  85. Texan99 says:

    I’m a feminist woman. I’m anti-abortion. I’m sorry if others think I’m not authentically feminist because I happen to believe fetuses are human enough that it’s wrong to destroy them. I don’t see it as a matter of personal autonomy for the mother, because I believe there’s another human being involved. But there’s no one who posts on this site who’s more vehemently, or authentically, feminist than myself. Part of what makes me a feminist is my belief that moral duties are as binding on women as on men; woman do not get any kind of free pass just because the physical ramifications of fertility strike them harder than they strike men.

  86. votermom says:

    Good point, lambert. CDS never dies. Never even sleeps.

  87. Representation says:

    Yttik and votermom are the only ones in this thread who stated they will vote for Palin in 2012 if she runs. yttik a moderate Democrat and votermom is a Republican. I haven’t seen any liberal or leftist Democrats who will vote for Palin over Obama in 2012. To be clear, I’m talking about Palin for President not the 2008 McCain-Palin protest vote.

    There’s more to feminism than reproductive rights though it’s central to women’s freedom. The US is backwards because of our religiosity. It was Republican women who spoke up for choice and women’s health during the health care debate not Democratic men. Blue Lyon:

    I firmly believe in choice, but what good is choice if we are still held back everywhere else? I don’t see it as an either/or proposition. Is it possible to discuss women’s equality without reproductive rights? Of course not. But it cannot be the only discussion we have. Witness Hillary Clinton’s speech before the U.S. – Islamic World Forum yesterday:

    But the will of the people means the will of all the people—men and women. Women’s rights are an issue of singular importance to me personally and as Secretary of State.

    So many studies have shown that educating women and girls leads to healthier families, improved economic growth, greater prosperity. As the Egyptian poet Hafez Ibrahim said, “A mother is a school. Empower her and you empower a great nation.” I could not agree more. And many Muslim-majority countries are demonstrating that. They are proving that women’s rights and national progress go hand in hand. And yet, in many countries across the world, we still see the subjugation of women continue. And what do we find? Poverty, poor health, and social unrest.

    Even today, in 2010, women are still targets of violence. And all too often, religion might be used to justify it. But there is never a justification for violence against women. It is not cultural. It is criminal. And it is up to religious leaders to take a stand for women, to call for an end to honor killings, child marriages, domestic and gender-based violence. No country can achieve its full potential when half the population is left out or left behind.

  88. votermom says:

    votermom is a Republican
    Hah! That’s funny.
    I’m a registered Dem actually, although I only registered in 2008 so I could vote for Hillary in our closed primary. Prior to that I voted straight Dem ticket all the time.
    But I don’t FEEL like a Dem anymore. I identify with the little people, the low-renters, the rubes … the Dems have thrown us out.
    So I’m not surprised that I apparently sound like a Republican now.

  89. Representation says:

    Sorry — I must have mixed you up with another regular commenter here.

  90. kmak says:

    After much reflection, I think I have come to a different perspective on this issue. Violet’s comment about a person being a “bad” feminist vs. “not” a feminist made it click. This has been a thought-provoking thread!

    For me, I will chose to see the abortion issue (and I mean the criminalization of abortion, not personal moral stance) as falling on the libertarian/authoritarian scale. More as a prohibition issue than a strictly feminist issue.

    For consenting adults, I don’t support prohibitions on drug use, alcohol use, prostitution, medical procedures (including, but not limited to abortion), or anything else that involves questions of morality. A person who desires that the state make moral determinations for its citizenry and enforce them with police/fines/jailtime has an authoritarian streak to them.

    Thus, I will concede that a person who supports criminalizing abortion for all women can possibly be a feminist in other regards. But they still hold views that are authoritarian and as such, to borrow from Violet, are bad feminists.

    Similarly, the belief that sexual transactions between consenting adults should remain criminalized (for either party regardless of gender) is in my view authoritarian. But could someone who holds this view still be feminist? I suppose so. I may chose to describe them as an ‘authoritarian feminist’, however.

    These are moral questions and if one believes in personal liberty, one should not wish for moral decisions to be made for all by the state. But I now concede that such an individual can still be a feminist.

    With the word ‘feminist’ encompassing this dizzying myriad of viewpoints, I guess the thing to do is use some extra descriptors along with the word: Violet described herself as a “radical, left wing feminist.” Or my above description of an “authoritarian feminist.” Or “bad feminist” (heh, heh). So the question becomes not if someone ‘qualifies,’ but where they fall on the spectrum.

    Now I’m forced to wonder if the Catholics/natives/conservatives will take being called ‘bad’ feminists much better than being told they are not feminists? ;)

  91. kmak says:

    Oops, don’t want to misrepresent: Violet’s words were:

    Far left radical feminist

  92. Violet Socks says:

    Yes, kmak, that’s exactly right. Feminists who are pro-life — or rather anti-choice — simply haven’t thought through the implications of what abortion criminalization really means. They imagine it’s about babies and the miracle of life. They haven’t connected the dots in their minds.

    Just like you obviously haven’t thought through the implications of prostitution, imagining that it is something involving consenting adults, rather than what it is: a global slave trade in women, and one of the foundation stones of patriarchy. You haven’t connected the dots.

    You’re all just bad feminists.

  93. Violet Socks says:

    Furthermore, kmak, your references to “morality” betray an anti-feminist point of view, or at least a complete lack of familiarity with feminist arguments against prostitution. The feminist argument against prostitution has nothing to do with “morality,” in the sense you obviously intend.

    I point this out only because pro-life feminists often demonstrate a similar lack. People may say, “how can anyone calling herself a feminist not understand the feminist argument for choice?” Well, I would say, how can anyone calling herself a feminist think that the prostitution issue is about “morality”? Is it normal for feminists to get their theories from Hustler? Can such a person possibly be a real feminist?

    But there you go. People can be totally full of shit on the issues and astoundingly ignorant. But they still believe in the principle of feminism.

  94. kmak says:

    [To be clear, when I say prostitution I do not mean human trafficking unless said so explicitly. These are distinct, but related issues and need to be kept untangled in order to be dealt with.]

    So let’s connect some dots. Drug use, abortion, prostitution. Very, very few women want to be drug addicts or prostitutes or have abortions. But many, many women will find themselves in these situations — and often more than one at a time — because life sucks and like someone wise once told me, “Welcome to the human race.”

    Given that these situations will always occur, regardless of their legal status or how they are viewed through a moral lens, how is the impact that they have on society lessened to the greatest extent possible? How are the cycles of violence and horror broken? And prostitution is without question the most difficult of these.

    * * *
    The prohibition/criminalization approach always fails and is devastating to women. The strategy is always the same: the state fights an impossible “War on X” at tremendous expense — in both blood and treasure — and the activity is not stopped, but driven into the darkness and run by the absolute worst humanity has to offer. Civil liberties are always a casualty. Under criminalization prostitutes are trafficked by and work for the world’s most brutal criminals. If they are caught, instead of being offered help and protection, they are imprisoned and subject to an entirely new ring of Hell know as the criminal justice system. Not only prostitution laws, but drug and immigration laws are thrown at them with full force. And these women will distrust the system and refuse to talk about their traffickers for fear of retribution. SO victims become criminals and the real criminals most often get away.

    And thus the fatal cycle begins: streets, jail, streets, jail, streets, jail, streets… death. Despite good intentions, criminalizing denies women in desperate need the help they deserve as human beings. And it denies those few who do chose to engage in these activities the personal freedom to do so, acknowledgement of their humanity/autonomy and programs to help lessen the harm they incur.

    * * *
    The regulation/decriminalization approach is the only alternative. It’s insanely hard and renders its own set of problems. But a society must acknowledge its inner horror show and do its best to cope. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.”

    I imagine a society that provides resources to people during their darkest times: for sex workers, offering a path towards acquiring a visa or citizenship, a system of shelters and networks to track down family members across the world, providing victims a paid ticket home if they will be safer there, counseling/therapy, etc. In many cases, returning home can be a worse alternative and providing medical services and screenings, applying OSHA standards to workplaces (including streets), safe sex education/supplies, recourse against violence, education opportunities, etc. is far more humane and provides the only chance of breaking the cycle. Providing real protection is also the only way of getting these women to discuss the trafficking networks that victimized them.

    Just as Choice is about not just abortion services, but also child care and motherhood support services, etc. Decriminalizing is about providing resources so those in a difficult situation are able to be given both the education and freedom to make their own decision and full support no matter the choice. And the truly beautiful thing about this approach is that it at least becomes possible to remove the stigmas (which is crucial for societal and employer acceptance) and treat people with dignity and respect… to give them back their humanity and begin the healing process.

    As for human traffickers: they should rot in jail and then in Hell. Imagine if the cops and lawyers and courts that currently arrest and convict prostitutes and/or drug addicts could refocus their resources on trafficking exclusively. That’s where the big money and crime is and that’s where society should take the fight. Taxes on drugs could even provide the budget. See, now we’re finding leverage points in the system. The problems cascade and compound one another; shouldn’t the solutions?

    * * *
    Regardless of the best intentions of a medical expert or pro-lifer or feminist, women are deeply harmed and dehumanized by the criminalization approach to prostitution and drug usage and abortion. Criminalizing will _never_ stop these things from happening. Adding insult to injury, criminal gangs thrive and benefit tremendously under such an approach.

    Decriminalization isn’t a magic pill and causes harm as well, but it at least provides an avenue to offer compassion and humanity to victims and to lift societal stigmas. It frees up law enforcement to focus on human traffickers. And that’s my astoundingly ignorant, full of shit take on the issues. [Apologies for length.]

  95. fortherecord says:

    The regulation/decriminalization approach is the only alternative [to incarcerating prostituted women].

    No, it is not.

  96. anna says:

    Teaching men not to see women as commodities to be used for their pleasure would go a long way toward ending prostitution, I think. But you’d have to make sure the message actually gets through and not just have the men roll their eyes and say “Yeah, yeah” and I don’t know how to do that.

    A good start though would be toward not using women’s bodies to sell every possible thing. People say “Sex sells” but you’ll notice men’s bodies are almost never used in advertisements, or as ogle objects in movies and tv shows, only women’s. Therefore men grow up with the idea that sex is for their pleasure, and women grow up with the idea that they should please men. A woman wouldn’t buy a prostitute because she wouldn’t feel entitled to sex, and she wouldn’t feel that a man’s body is a thing to be bought for her pleasure. We need to encourage men to have that attitude.

  97. anna says:

    And also women’s magazines continue to be full of crap about how to please men, while men’s magazines don’t at all mention women’s pleasure and are all about how to snag that hottie you’re entitled to. Movies and tv shows show women obsessed with getting men and willing to go to any lengths for one (or if she has a boyfriend, to marry him.)

  98. Texan99 says:

    I post here, I am a feminist, and I would vote for Palin for president in a race against virtually any Democrat who’s likely to be nominated. I might or might not support her in a Republican primary, depending on the field.

    I think it’s preposterous to say a feminist who supports the criminalization of abortion has simply not “thought the matter through” or “connected the dots.” Nor is it purely an issue of authoritarianism vs. libertarianism. If you believe fetuses are human, it is no more authoritarian to criminalize abortion than it is to criminalize infanticide or, indeed, any murder. Believing that the people who disagree with you on this point just haven’t thought it through merely betrays an inability to grapple with the point they make about fetuses as people. It’s like trying convince Simon LaGree that it’s not OK to kill his slaves when he vehemently maintains that they’re not people, so it’s none of your business, hands off my body.

    I completely get that lots of people don’t believe fetuses are human beings. Given that belief, I’m not startled that they think abortion choice is very important to women’s rights and to the goal of keeping the authority of government properly limited. I simply don’t agree with their premise about fetuses. I should think they might develop a clue about what my own premises naturally leads to in my personal ethics and politics. The condescension can get pretty old.

  99. Violet Socks says:

    And that’s my astoundingly ignorant, full of shit take on the issues.

    You got that right.

    Given that these situations will always occur, regardless of their legal status or how they are viewed through a moral lens

    Again with the “moral” thing. And I suppose next you’ll tell us that prostitution is the world’s oldest profession. You really are a patriarch, aren’t you?

    Decriminalization isn’t a magic pill and causes harm as well, but it at least provides an avenue to offer compassion and humanity to victims and to lift societal stigmas.

    And this would be the reason why it’s also important to legalize sweatshops, and organ-selling, and gladitorial fights-to-the-death, and pretty much any other grotesquely exploitative economic activity? Also slavery.

    If they are caught, instead of being offered help and protection, they are imprisoned and subject to an entirely new ring of Hell know as the criminal justice system.

    Exactly the way sweatshop laborers are caught and imprisoned in order to stop them from engaging in the outrageously immoral activity of selling their labor cheap. Those crazy sweatshop people; you just can’t keep them away from those tiny rooms and suffocating conditions. Only thing to do is throw them in jail.

    Or, as you propose so compassionately, give them counseling to begin the healing process and help them get over their urge to congregate in tiny rooms and sew.

    The regulation/decriminalization approach is the only alternative.

    No. Heard of Sweden?

    Of course, you have to start with figuring out that women are human. Then, once you’ve grokked that, you’ll figure out that the grotesque sexual/economic exploitation of women is the grotesque sexual/economic exploitation of humans, and cannot be tolerated. You will figure out, eventually, that talking about prostitution the way you do makes exactly as much sense as arguing for people’s right as consenting adults to sell their kidneys or work in sweatshops. It will also dawn on you, eventually, that this has nothing to do with “morality” (and you’re obviously using that term in some kind of Sunday School sense) but about human rights. Which of course is a moral question, in the proper sense of “moral” as meaning right and wrong — the way murder and rape and slavery are moral questions.

  100. Toonces says:

    Why come at the problem, as you see it, of fetuses being human by putting the burden on women to prevent their, as you see it, murders? Why not come at the problem by petitioning to make sex a state regulated activity, requiring permission and license, signing off on taking responsibility for the possibility of creating, as you see it, a person (from the time of sperm meeting egg)? That’s a serious, sincere question.

  101. anna says:

    For those not in the know, Violet refers to Sweden because they have criminalized buying prostitutes, but not selling sex, so that the john and not the prostitute gets arrested and fined.

    I think that could work, especially if the john’s name is published in the paper. The stigma and punishment should not be on desperate women driven to sell their bodies (as most prostitutes are, with very very few being “high class”) but on the johns who create a market for women’s bodies as a product to be sold, and exploit desperate women. They are immoral not for having naughty sex, but for making a woman’s own body into a commodity to be sold on the market. If they only want consensual sex, they can go on Craigslist like the rest of us, and stop using a woman’s economic desperation as leverage to coerce her into doing sex acts she does not want (otherwise known as rape.)

  102. anna says:

    But I doubt the Swedish model will catch on in America, since conservatives want to punish prostitutes (believing them to be evil sluts) while liberals (or at least their mostly male leaders) see prostitution as good sexy fun, and won’t support something (such as banning prostitution) that conservatives support anyway, and which most men would dislike (never mind if it would save female lives.)

    It’s like Islam: Liberals don’t want to be seen as against a minority religion, especially one conservatives are already against. So they ignore all of the woman-hating in the Quran and sharia law. Meantime conservatives only rag on Islam’s contempt for women to support wars which do not help women, rather than doing something constructive which would advance women’s rights, like fundraising for RAWA. And you won’t see conservatives raising a peep at the women-hating of Christian fundies.

  103. Texan99 says:

    No, “conservatives” don’t all want that. I’m a conservative, and I don’t want the state to punish prostitutes or anyone that anybody might consider a slut. What consenting adults want to have in the way of sex with each other is not an area for the state, in my view. Here’s an area where I sharply distinguish between my moral views (which don’t include approval of either promiscuity or sex for money) and my views on the proper role for government. As long as there’s no human trafficking involved, I consider prostitution a victimless crime. On the other hand, if the act has consequences, I think adults should be responsible for them.

    Toonce: And that brings me to what should be my obvious response to your question: Why not “make sex a state regulated activity, requiring permission and license, signing off on taking responsibility for the possibility of creating, as you see it, a person (from the time of sperm meeting egg)?” I think that both people engaging in sex are already responsible for the life they create, whether they sign something or not, and whether the State licenses it or not. I’m not interested in getting the State involved, except to the extent that it’s necessary to invoke the police power to prevent a murder. Why put the criminal burden on the woman? I put the criminal burden where I put in any case that I consider murder: on the person attempting to terminate the life.

    As always, I understand that someone who doesn’t believe a fetus is a human life won’t approach this dilemma in anything like the same way. If I didn’t think a fetus was a human, I’d hate to see the State have the tiniest input into the situation.

  104. monchichipox says:

    “since conservatives want to punish prostitutes (believing them to be evil sluts)”

    You are so full of shit(pardon me I’ve been in bed with the flu for three days and Judge Judy is getting on my last nerve.) Do you leave your house? Do you ever cross paths with a conservative? Again I hate to swerve into godbag country but if I may for an instant. Some of the most touching, human writing in the bible regards Jesus and prostitutes.

    Sorry. Prostitution being thought of as a victimless crime ARRRRRR makes my blood boil. So many of the disappeared are women who were prostitutes and lured to a violent death. Nothing is sadder than hearing a mother trying to convince law enforcement that her prostitute daughter is at least wort a one page missing person’s report.

    However it is a learning experience about what I’m thinking in my head right now. I scoff at how you could not think a woman could be a feminist yet not support abortion. The thought rolling around my head now is how could someone(not necessarily anyone on this board) could consider themselves a feminist and argue for legalized prostitution? Live and learn I guess.

  105. Violet Socks says:

    As long as there’s no human trafficking involved, I consider prostitution a victimless crime.

    The stupid, it burns.

  106. yttik says:

    Feminism doesn’t exist within conservative or liberal boundaries. Abortion is no more of a choice then it is a convenience. Prostitution is no more a victimless crime then it is a way for women to feel empowered. As a rule, both sides are wrong when it comes to women and misogyny runs rampant.

  107. Violet Socks says:

    conservatives want to punish prostitutes (believing them to be evil sluts) while liberals (or at least their mostly male leaders) see prostitution as good sexy fun, and won’t support something (such as banning prostitution) that conservatives support anyway, and which most men would dislike (never mind if it would save female lives.)

    Most liberals are functioning within exactly the same paradigm as conservatives. They think prostitution is about sex. They think the criminals are the prostitutes, not the johns who rape them. The only difference is that conservatives are against it while liberals are in favor of it. Pure patriarchy.

    Neither side sees it in terms of the systemic, abusive exploitation of one class of human beings. Of course they would see it if it were a group of men being exploited — men of a certain race or religion, for example — but they can’t see it with women.

  108. Texan99 says:

    A lot of stereotypical thinking about conservatives going on here. “They” don’t all think the women prostitutes are criminals and the johns are victims. Some of “them” (especially if they are of the libertarian stripe) think it’s a bad idea to lock up women for being prostitutes and therefore think it’s a bad idea to make prostitution illegal. Show me an underage prostitute, or an adult prostitute who’s being subjected to force, and I’ll be all for a prosecution of whoever is holding her captive. I just don’t see why the female prostitute should be subject to imprisonment. Her selling herself for sex is a terrible idea, more for her than for anyone else involved, but I don’t believe she is victimizing anyone, so I don’t believe she’s a proper target of criminal action. And if someone is criminally harming her, it is not by the act of offering her money, which is the precise element that would turn sex into a crime under our law against prostitution as applied to the johns (at least on the rare occasions when anyone bothers to try to prosecute the johns).

    Some of you are very free to throw around accusations of stupidity whenever you find someone analyzes things differently from you. It doesn’t do your convictions any credit. It’s usually more effective to try to point out specifically what you think is mistaken in someone else’s position.

    There are at least two major kinds of feminism, one that focuses on the unfairness that powerful men inflict on helpless women, which is prevalent in this comments, and another that insists on applying the same standards of adult sovereignty to women as to men, which is what I prefer. I resist viewing women as helpless victims in any but very clear cases of victimization, because the flip side of that attitude is to treat women as less than fully adult. Not all of us women think the latter attitude is a good tradeoff for us. We’d prefer to take care of ourselves.

    So, yes, there can be “real” feminists who think some of you are very much on a mistaken track. The definition of feminism is not someone who entirely shares your views of what’s desirable or fair for all women.

  109. Violet Socks says:

    I just don’t see why the female prostitute should be subject to imprisonment. Her selling herself for sex is a terrible idea, more for her than for anyone else involved, but I don’t believe she is victimizing anyone, so I don’t believe she’s a proper target of criminal action.

    Dear GOD. The prostitute is not the criminal. She’s the victim. The criminal is the man who’s raping her, the pimp who’s enslaving her, the industry that’s grinding her up. No feminist thinks prostitutes should go to jail. It would be like putting rape victims in jail.

    What’s amazing is that no matter how many comments we post explaining it, you simply can’t climb out of the prostitute-as-criminal/bad-woman mentality.

  110. Texan99 says:

    I think you may have read what I wrote too quickly. Under current law, the female prostitute is the criminal. I disagree with the current law for that reason among others. I understand you to be saying that she shouldn’t be considered the criminal, because she is the victim. I don’t agree she’s a victim in every instance, but I understand your point. We at least agree she should not be the criminal. She certainly is the criminal, however, as the law currently stands.

    I have no idea what it is about those statements that you interpret as my considering the prostitute a bad woman.

    Under most circumstances I don’t think a john should be considered a criminal, either. A pimp may or may not be a criminal in my book, depending on whether he uses extortion or force on her. I suspect you would say he does so almost by definition. I would at least agree that it’s probably true that he quite often does so.

  111. Texan99 says:

    And really, be more cautious with your sweeping statements about what “no feminist would believe.” You’re only describing what the feminists in your set believe. They truly do not represent the entire world.

  112. Violet Socks says:

    There are at least two major kinds of feminism, one that focuses on the unfairness that powerful men inflict on helpless women, which is prevalent in this comments, and another that insists on applying the same standards of adult sovereignty to women as to men, which is what I prefer.

    If the same standards were applied to women as to men, then prostitution would be illegal. It would be classed as a horrific human rights abuse.

    Anything as exploitative and dangerous as prostitution is absolutely illegal if it involves men. Organ-selling, for example. Gladitorial combat (which would be hugely popular and would no doubt attract many poor men eager to make money). Slave labor. Sweatshop labor. A whole laundry list of occupations that are outlawed because they’re so goddamn dangerous.

    And any such thing that, in addition, targeted a specific class of oppressed people, would be considered even more egregious. Add in the associated ills — the attendant global slave trade, for example — and it would be a no brainer.

    Yet women being raped for pay? Somehow all we hear about is “consenting adults.”

  113. Texan99 says:

    I don’t consider women a specific class of oppressed people, and I don’t consider every act of sex for money a “rape.” I believe that trivializes the crime of rape.

    However, I completely agree with you that many things men are willing to accept when they happen to women would be considered horrible if they happened to men.

  114. Adrienne in CA says:

    I don’t consider women a specific class of oppressed people

    Why then would we need feminism?

    *****A

  115. alwaysfiredup says:

    Ha. Hello Texan99, nice to meet you. Welcome. Please enjoy the taste of your own toes, I recall the taste well from my first visit to Violet’s salon. :) I recommend against rehashing the pro-life vs. pro-choice argument more than two or three times. Rather, it is simpler to enjoy this blog for the self-aware liberal rantspace that it is.

    Kudos, Violet, on a thoroughly compelling thread.

  116. Branjor says:

    Consider Barky O’Bummer’s election. No matter how people felt about him, nearly everyone recognized the pivotal moment in history and felt pride about the country finally having elected a black man.

    I don’t consider Barky’s election a “pivotal moment” in any sense. It was just another instant of a man, any man, over a woman. This was so in the primary, against Sen. Clinton, and in the GE, where he ran against Sarah Palin, not against McCain. The fact that he’s black gave progs something to point to to prove how progressive and “liberal” they are, but it was really just coincidental to the whole process of keeping power out of the hands of women, business as usual.

  117. yttik says:

    “I don’t consider women a specific class of oppressed people”

    I would agree and beg people to look a bit deeper at this statement, rather then to have a knee jerk reaction.Recently I followed a conversation in which several men told a woman she was oppressed, someone who didn’t feel oppressed, and by the end of the conversation it was like, “listen you dumb bitch, when I say you are oppressed, you will be oppressed.” The purpose of this conversation was to make sure that woman knew her place.

    There is a fine line between identifying sexism within the culture and robbing women of power by viewing them as victims. Survivors is more like it, a group of people who refuse to accept their oppressed status.

  118. Texan99 says:

    Exactly. I absolutely believe to the bottom of my soul that there is rampant sexism in our culture, much of it dangerous and repulsive. Some of it is as firmly ingrained in women as in men. Much of it unnecessarily cheapens the life of women. I also believe many women in many places are oppressed. But because I believe that women are individual human beings in their own right, some of whom are powerful and some of whom are not, I don’t think it’s useful or accurate to view as a class of uniformly “oppressed people,” or in any case not in the U.S. and not in the 21st century.

    Why would we need feminism? Feminism is something I believe is simply true. It’s not something I made up because I needed it. If feminism means something we practice because many women are in dire need of rescue and liberation, then we need it because those women certainly exist and deserve help. But I take feminism also to be a challenge to the widespread assumptions (1) that men are meant to be in charge, (2) that the “inherent” differences between men and women are far more widespread and pre-ordained than honest inquiry reveals them to be, and (3) that every respect in which men as a class differ from women as a class is an example of something inherently superior in men. Why do we need that? Because honesty, reality, and justice are better than fakery, ignorance, and irrational entrenched privilege.

  119. Texan99 says:

    PS, Hi “alwaysfiredup,” and thanks.

  120. RKMK says:

    “I don’t consider women a specific class of oppressed people”

    I would agree and beg people to look a bit deeper at this statement, rather then to have a knee jerk reaction.Recently I followed a conversation in which several men told a woman she was oppressed, someone who didn’t feel oppressed, and by the end of the conversation it was like, “listen you dumb bitch, when I say you are oppressed, you will be oppressed.” The purpose of this conversation was to make sure that woman knew her place.

    I’m sorry, I don’t understand. The story doesn’t refute the statement “women are not a specific class of oppressed people”, it illustrates it. The men are actively overwhelming and belittling the woman in question, and the sad thing is that the men are actively conscious of patriarchy yet subconsciously acted in a way that reinforced it.

  121. yttik says:

    It’s about empowering women. If a woman claims she is not oppressed, more power to her. Perhaps she’s a survivor, perhaps she ignores the limitations and walks forward anyway. Who is served by insisting women accept their oppressed status and define themselves by it? Not women.

  122. Texan99 says:

    That certainly would support the notion that this individual woman was oppressed. I just don’t think it’s a good idea to lump all women into a uniform class. It’s part of the problem we ought to be fighting.

  123. Violet Socks says:

    just don’t think it’s a good idea to lump all women into a uniform class.

    No one did. You added the “uniform” all by yourself.

    We live in a patriarchy, sexism exists, ergo, women-as-a-group are oppressed as women. Just like as long as there is racism, black people-as-a-group will be oppressed by racism. Even though people are situated differently, some women are powerful and successful, some black people (like our President) are supremely successful, etc.

    This is fundamental logic. I’m really starting to lose patience here.

  124. RKMK says:

    . If a woman claims she is not oppressed, more power to her. Perhaps she’s a survivor, perhaps she ignores the limitations and walks forward anyway. Who is served by insisting women accept their oppressed status and define themselves by it? Not women.

    yttik, it’s a cliche, but the phrase, “Denial: It Ain’t Just a River in Egypt” comes to mind.

    Who is served by stubbornly ignoring systematic social structures of oppression? Certainly not women.

  125. votermom says:

    I just want to say I really appreciate this thread … very thought-provoking and educational.

    Thanks.

  126. Violet Socks says:

    If this conversation goes on much longer in this vein, I’m going to have to invoke the results of the stick test (i.e., you must be smarter than this stick to ride this blog).

    Saying “I believe sexism exists, I just don’t think women are an oppressed class” is the same as saying “I believe sexism exists, I just don’t believe women are discriminated against on account of sex.”

    This is basic fucking semantics. The very essence of bigotry — sexism, racism, anti-Semitism — is discrimination against a class of people because of their membership in and imagined characteristics of that class, not because of their characteristics as individuals. If you acknowledge that sexism exists, then you are, by definition, acknowledging that women-as-women are an oppressed class.

    This has nothing to do with empowerfulment or being a survivor. Jesus christ.

  127. Texan99 says:

    I can accept that some kinds of oppression happen because of the target’s belonging to an identifiable class. In that sense, you can say the class as a whole is “oppressed,” while preserving the awareness that many (perhaps even most) individual members of the class are not victims.

    Nevertheless, I think that the “oppressed class” theme is overused. I have found it more helpful to focus on the presence of unjust or dishonorable attitudes that are exhibited by people whose consciousness is in need of raising. Many men, and indeed some women, hold false and harmful ideas about women “as a class” that lead to unfair social traditions and laws. I see my job as combatting the false and harmful ideas, traditions, and laws. Sometimes I find that my opponents on these issues consider themselves the only “authentic” feminists. When that happens, we have to sort out our differences, because we’re not all alike even if we all have xx chromosomes.

    Sometimes I feel impatient, too.

  128. votermom says:

    It’s common to be a member of an oppressed class and not feel oppressed; usually because one is insulated by youth, inexperience, wealth, conditioning … any combination of factors. That’s the whole point of education and consciousness-raising, isn’t it?

  129. yttik says:

    I get impatient too, Violet, because women insist on being so quick to judge, so fearful of even discussing things, so quick to label each other stupid, that we as a culture have actually gone backwards.

    “Who is served by stubbornly ignoring systematic social structures of oppression?”

    Just about every woman who has refused to accept her oppression and instead gone on to run for president, to fly across the Atlantic, to go to medical school.

    But I apologize for taking anybody out of their comfort zone. I’ll go back to being my oppressed self now and STFU.

  130. votermom says:

    Just about every woman who has refused to accept her oppression and instead gone on to run for president, to fly across the Atlantic, to go to medical school.

    It’s not about accepting oppression; it’s about acknowledging it. Elizabeth Blackwell did not make it through medical school by saying “I’m not oppressed” — she did it by sheer dogged persistence despite the worst ostracism and obstruction.

  131. votermom says:

    Oops, my blockquote tags didn’t take — sorry!

  132. Violet Socks says:

    I fixed ‘em.

  133. Texan99 says:

    I do hope the point of education and consciousness-raising is not to engender a feeling of oppression in people who have doing quite a good job of coping with the slings and arrows of fortune, not to mention doing a good job of refusing to internalize other people’s faulty anti-female consciousness. An important point of education and consciousness-raising should be to make it easier to acquire the internal skills to pull those things off.

    There may be a lot of women out there who are “insulated” from a sense of oppression by age, experience, accomplishment (including wealth they earned for themselves and don’t owe to any man), and the strength to combat conditioning with self-determination — any combination of factors.

    I would never deny that women have obstacles to overcome in this society. I believe just as strongly, however, that many women overcome them, and that those women tend to bristle when either pity or condescension is extended their way. I also believe that many of our obstacles are inside our own heads, and a lot of our most useful work can be done there.

    Could we have a moratorium on calling your guests “stupid” here, just for a bit? We don’t disagree because we’re stupid. We have not called you stupid.

  134. Violet Socks says:

    This post was about the paradox presented by someone like Sarah Palin, or Margaret Thatcher, or Alan Keyes — someone who is good for women or minorities as a pathbreaker, but has terrible right-wing politics.

    This thread, however, has mostly been about abortion and whether it’s appropriate for pro-life feminists to call themselves feminists. Which is what every thread about Sarah Palin seems to turn into.

    My position has always been that people can call themselves what they want, and if someone identifies as a feminist, great. If you believe in women’s equality, that’s feminism. However, many self-described feminists nonetheless hold anti-feminist views on specific issues, which is how I would class the pro-lifers.

    A point I’ve made repeatedly when this has come up in other threads is that for me, the situation with the pro-life feminists is analogous to the situation with the pro-prostitution feminists. And this thread has provided a fortuitous demonstration of that. People who think prostitution is a “victimless crime” drive me UP THE FUCKING WALL (as you can see), just like people who think abortion is about The Bay-Bee drive me UP THE FUCKING WALL. The one group knows jack shit about how prostitution really works and they’ve never thought it through; they’re just stuck in the patriarchal propaganda that it’s all about consenting adults and naughty sex. And the other group knows jack shit about how abortion restrictions work and haven’t thought it through; they’re not thinking about girls handcuffed to their beds in Nicaragua and Mexican women in jail for taking the morning after pill and wives raped by their husbands and forced to bear the child because Hubby insists he didn’t rape her, which means the wife is essentially a brood mare slave. No, they’re just soaking in the propaganda about The Little Baby’s Heartbeat and the miracle of life.

    My point, again, is that both of these groups of people are ill-informed and advocate horribly anti-woman policies. And if the pro-prostitution people can call themselves feminists, with allowances for being full of shit, then I don’t see why we have to jump up and down insisting that the pro-lifers can’t use the word.

  135. Texan99 says:

    If “oppressed” means “tending to have experienced more than one’s fair share of unfairness directed at one’s membership in a group,” then I can agree that it’s a rare woman who is not oppressed.

    To get back to the original post, is the inveterate hostility against Sarah Palin in part a result of her cheerful and resolute failure to identify herself as oppressed? Does it make her seem to be failing in solidarity with women who were less “lucky”? Because her lacking a sense of oppression is just what I like about her. It helps, of course, that I entirely agree with her politics and so have no revulsion of that kind to overcome.

  136. Violet Socks says:

    Could we have a moratorium on calling your guests “stupid” here, just for a bit?

    Okay, here’s the thing: you’re new here. Brand new. If you were familiar with my blog, you would know that most of the folks here in this thread are regular commenters. You would also know that I am not in the habit of calling my commenters stupid.

    It’s just you.

    I’m actually being amazingly tolerant, given what you’ve already demonstrated here. Normally I just ban people who can’t think their way out of a paper bag, because otherwise we’d never be able to have a decent conversation.

  137. sharon says:

    Oh I love this thread. Very cool. But I am watching quite a bit of tripping over ideology here. It’s like watching people who live in individual clouds, and their clouds are bumping into each other. Thunder and lightning ensue.

    Step outside the clouds a sec. You’re all correct. If people understood that every time they have sex, there are really truly consequences, and if men and women approached sex less like going to McDonald’s and with a bit more …what’s the word…respect, sacredness, I don’t know, then yeah, Texan99 is right on. BUT they don’t, and forcing the fucked sex, that is women, to handle all the burden, no that won’t fly. I love the idea of mandatory sterilization of men until they can prove they’re married and want to have children. Problem solved…for us, that is.

    To tie it all together, and not make Violet explode…link it back to Palin. The reason she makes lefties nuts is because EVERYONE is trying to shut her up and make her go away, and she’s saying fuck you to all of them, and forcing the Prez to respond to her facebook and tweet posts, – ah, our deepest fantasy realized. A big giant FU to the patriarchy, to which they are forced to respond. Clinton did the same to conservatives, as pointed out, and so there you have it. At the end of the day, we are all terrified of a powerful woman who refuses to be told to sit down and shut up, but doesn’t buy into our notion about what such women are supposed to look and act like (hey! a liberal feminist was supposed to win that fight! Who’s this bitch??? Get her!!!), doesn’t admit she’s being oppressed, but fights it at every turn, and wins, making everyone even more crazy.
    There’s some essay trying to brew in me here about deep psychological fear of powerful women dating back to at least the Grimm’s Fairy Tale era (when they were all made out to be witches or vile creatures or helpless maidens – the latter archetype being still perfectly acceptable today).

  138. Toonces says:

    I don’t mean to fan any flames here, but I just want to clarify that I don’t believe myself to be qualified to decide who is and is not a feminist and that wasn’t the goal of asking Texan99 the question I did (I’m not really that passive aggressive). Something about what she said about nature putting the burden on women and then talking about the State just triggered the thought that it would be really easy to infringe on EVERYONE’S bodily autonomy to prevent, as anti-choice folks see it, murder rather than just women’s. And I just wondered what an actual anti-choice person would think of that as it’s an angle I’ve never seen discussed before.

    Anyway, apologies if I’m just dragging things out here. I do believe that if conservatives and liberals and everyone in between just talked more and clarified their positions to each other (and tuned out the propaganda-noise-machines) we could get somewhere.

  139. monchichipox says:

    And meanwhile the Democratic party is busy using the fear of vagina to raise money. So ladies send them some money. I know I’m going to. Wink. Wink. At first I would have thought this the idea of a bunch of frat pledges. But there was no boob.

    http://www.dccc.org/page/content/palin_primaries/