Monday, June 15, 2009

On putting on your big-girl panties and taking the hit

Okay, so it kind of rocks one's world to find out that one has actually had one's political affiliations all wrong for all of one's life. I myself have been lucky enough to be enlightened by Don Surber, who informs me that the party of patriarchy and misogyny is not, in fact, the one that's trying to control my uterus and keep me in the kitchen where I belong. I had no idea that the left is the side that hates women; it's a wonder they've been letting me hang around with them for so long.
Too many American liberals cannot handle a strong, good-looking, intelligent, independent woman who disagrees with them — and so they make the crude, cruel and sexist remarks — including those about raping them or their 14-year-old daughters.

These five women [Katharine Harris, Carrie Prejean, Sarah Palin, Michelle Malkin, and Michele Bachmann] are are not the only ones that American liberals ridicule without fear. They are like little boys who cannot handle a strong woman. These women dare challenge them intellectually, and so we get crude counterattacks.

Thaaat's right. The men on the left can't handle the sauciness of Michelle Malkin or the intellectual stimulation of Carrie Prejean, and so they're reduced to insults or mocking for lack of any thoughtful response. And as a feminist on the left, I'm merely going along to get along, "standing by [my] menfolk" for some reason, which he doesn't really explain, because to stay with a guy who's so horrible to women indicates that there's some other benefit in it for me, but really the only benefit I could get from these guys would be something that would benefit women, but they're mean to women, so... Ugh. The cognitive dissonance, it burns.

(And a note: Letterman's remarks were crass, inappropriate, and just plain unfunny. He claims that he thought Bristol, not Willow, Palin was at the game with Sarah, but even if it had been the of-age, already-knocked-up daughter, it wouldn't have made the joke any more appropriate. Or any funnier, for that matter.)

It's easy to look at Surber's list of women and the left's response to them and say, "Wow, the left really does hate women!" It's also easy to yank on the beard of a Hell's Angel, get the shit stomped out of you, and then say, "He hates me because I'm left-handed!" You can line up the ten shortest guys at your local federal penitentiary and claim they were all incarcerated because they're under 5'5", or you can look at their criminal records and see that it's because they all committed felonies.

Call me a Kool-Aid-drinking, sister-f***ing, brainwashed liberal, but when I looked at that lineup, gender wasn't the first thing that jumped out at me. Crass did, in a lot of cases, and crazy, and sometimes ignorant. But as someone who has looked at these women with a critical eye for some years now, I know exactly why they're oft excoriated by the left, and it ain't because of their sass and intellect.

Don't hate Katherine Harris because she's a woman; hate her because she's an aggressive, unscrupulous power-grabber. Harris gained notoriety during the 2000 presidential elections when, as the Florida secretary of state (and former co-chair of Bush's Florida election campaign), she purged nearly 58,000 (largely black and Hispanic) voters from the roll for being ex-cons (90 percent weren't) and halted recounts of electoral votes, with Florida (and the presidency) ultimately going to Bush. In 2002, she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and in 2004, she took campaign money from Duke Cunningham's defense-contractor buddies. It's no surprise that Republicans promptly started avoiding her like the dentist's house on Halloween, and I'm kind of confused as to why Surber included her in this list, because I can't remember anyone actually mentioning her name in years. I guess he just needed to round out the five. I probably would have gone with Ann Coulter.

Don't hate Carrie Prejean because she's a woman; hate her because she, well, she said that. I mean, there it is. She was on TV when she said it. Much of the response to her answer was over the top (I know you felt passionately about it, Perez, but "dumb bitch" doesn't help anyone), and it's all been much for expressing what was, in the end, an opinion. But she went on TV and made the choice to say that, in that way, and alienate a lot of people during a really sensitive time. The blacklash that resulted had nothing to do with the fact that she's a woman and everything to do with the thing that she said. (Incidentally, if you're reading this, Car-Bear, we don't live in "a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage." Only people in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa do.) Okay, we're done now; let's leave Carrie alone. There really wasn't any reason to hate her anyway.

Don't hate Sarah Palin because she's a woman; hate her because of her political career. That's about it. Bridges to nowhere, shooting wolves from helicopters, the imminent Russian threat, paying for clothes with campaign funds, flying your kids everywhere at the expense of the state, opposing women's right to bodily autonomy, but mostly for just not being a good enough candidate to be a candidate. I'm sorry, but at no point during the campaign did she prove herself astute, aware, informed, or motivated enough to be the runner-up to the presidency. There's a reason SNL was able to parody her using an exact transcript of her Katie Couric interview. The only intellectual challenge there was to decode her linguistically garbled speeches. She seems nice enough as a person, but a candidate - male or female - needs a lot more than that to be a good vice president. Maverick.

Don't hate Michelle Malkin because she's a woman; hate her because of everything she is and everything she does and everything she believes in and everything she stands for. Hate her for stalking a seven-year-old for speaking about children's health insurance. Hate her for speaking out in favor of racial profiling (not to mention Japanese internment in World War II). Hate her for whatever that dumb thing was that she did in a cheerleader outfit and pigtails. Hate her for shitting herself over what Rachel Ray wore in a Dunkin Donuts commercial. Hate her for her Junior-Spies-in-1984 Brown Neighbor Surveillance Club. Hate her for questioning donations to Bill Clinton's campaign fund from donors in Brooklyn, Chinatown, and elsewhere who were "limited income, limited English-proficient, and smellier than stinky tofu." Hate her for defending torture. Just about everything she does gives you a chance to hate her. Even if her woman-ness had a place on the list of reasons to hate her, it would be so far down said list that we'd still be working on it when Sasha Obama announced her presidential bid.

Don't hate Michele Bachmann because she's a woman. Hate her because she is full-on, raving, tinfoil-hat-wearing, foaming-at-the-mouth, crackhouse-rats-cross-the-street-when-they-see-her crazazy. As a member of Congress, has she opposed everything from increased Pell Grants to fluorescent lightbulbs. She ranted about Obama creating "politically correct re-education camps for young people" and wanted to launch a McCarthy-esque investigation to find out if members of Congress are "pro-America or anti-America." She made the treasury secretary promise that we're not going to abandon the dollar in favor of a global currency (and while you're over there, behold her staggering ignorance of Schoolhouse Rock-level civics). Actually, I'm going to take it back - Michele Bachmann has been a fantastic addition to the House of Representatives, if only for the entertainment value.

These are the outspoken conservative women who intellectually challenge us, to whom we have no response.They are the ones we hate for their boldness and ballsiness, the ones we wish would get back in the kitchen where they belong. Because we hate outspoken women; Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Madeleine Albright, Nancy Keenan, Ellen Malcom, Arianna Huffington, Ann Richards (God rest her) are all reticent little flowers afraid to say anything to disturb the menfolk hard at work. (Or maybe the problem is that our women just aren't hot enough to be of note to the right.) It has nothing to do with corruption, greed, bigotry, ignorance - it's an F on a birth certificate and a pretty face.

No, Don Surber, criticizing a political figure, even if she's a woman, when she's doing something worthy of criticism isn't unsulting. Treating a woman in the public sphere just as you'd treat a man, looking at her statements and actions with a critical eye, isn't insulting. You want insulting? Here's what's insulting: dragging an underqualified candidate into the ring and expecting women to be so overwhelmed with her female-ness that we won't notice her incompetence. Trying to screw women over and expecting us to support you because of your X chromosomes. Dressing up hateful rhetoric in a cute smile and a miniskirt and expecting it all just to breeze on by.

Yes, there have been horribly sexist - and racist, and all kinds of other -ist - things said about women on both sides of the aisle (Palin and Malkin have gotten it more than just about anyone I can think of). And ideally, attention would be focused entirely on the quality of a political figure's ideas and not on the amount of pancake she trowelled onto her face when she got up in the morning. But if you're going to say that, if you're going to ask people to really examine the content of your argument, you have to be able to produce quality content. It's not enough to pile on the same old dreck, the same old talking points, the same old racist drivel (ahremMichelleMalkinahrem) and expect no one to notice that it's hollow because you're just so darn cute. And when people do, inevitably, notice, don't go crying "They hate me because I'm a woman!" We hate you because you're a dumbass.

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