Sunday, May 07, 2006

Feminism - Forward Fundamentals Please Folks

Caitlin Flanagan recently wrote in Time an essay entitled, "We're Here, We're Square, Get Used to It - Why the Democratic Party is losing the housewife vote" where she writes, in part, with my emphasis supplied, the following:

... there is apparently no room for me in the Democratic Party. In fact, I have spent much of the past week on a forced march to the G.O.P. And the bayonet at my back isn't in the hands of the Republicans; the Democrats are the bullyboys. Such lions of the left as ... have made it abundantly clear to me that I ought to start packing my bags. I'm not leaving, but sometimes I wonder: When did I sign up to be the beaten wife of the Democratic Party?

Here's why they're after me: I have made a lifestyle choice that they can't stand, and I'm not cowering in the closet because of it. I'm out, and I'm proud. I am a happy member of an exceedingly "traditional" family. ...

As far as I can tell, every reviewer and reporter who has encountered my book has assumed that I'm a conservative Republican. At the end of an interview on a national TV network, a reporter said, "Caitlin, I can't let you go without asking you one question." Here was her question: Was it really true that I'm a Democrat? Those reporters' assumptions don't tell you anything about me, nor do they tell you much about the reporters themselves: they made an honest mistake. What it tells you a whole lot about is the Democratic Party and the face it projects to the world. It's a party that supports gay families, as I do, and has vast sympathy for many other kinds of alternative lifestyles. But we let the Republicans have complete ownership of the image of the traditional family. And that's one reason we keep losing elections.

Most of the 60 million people who voted against George W. Bush have lifestyles more like mine than the Democratic Party would like to admit. Most of us aren't the Hollywood elite or the nontraditional family. Many of us do what I do, which is go to church on Sunday, work hard and value my marriage. Again, it's not so much my party's platform that rejects the family; God help us all if Bush's brutality to the poor continues much longer. It's a small but very vocal minority, the Democratic pundits, who abhor what I represent because it doesn't fit the stereotypical image of the modern woman who has escaped from domestic prison. ...

The Democrats made a huge tactical error a few decades ago. In the middle of doing the great work of the '60s--civil rights, women's liberation, gay inclusion--we decided to stigmatize the white male. The union dues--paying, churchgoing, beer-drinking family man got nothing but ridicule and venom from us. So he dumped us. And he took the wife and kids with him.

And now here we are, living in a country with a political and economic agenda we deplore, losing election after election and wondering why.

It's the contempt, stupid.

Ms. Flanagan has recently released "To Hell with All That : Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife" and apparently she feels that she's been savaged by the left, or maybe she is wanting to get press to boost sales. I'd honestly not been aware of her work and past yet she's apparently talented even if rather frustrating to many people working from a feminist position. I did however enjoy your idea that "serfdom" enables some of the "do it all" types, both male and female I'd add.

Forty four years old so you came along Mrs. Flanagan just a little before me. Neither of us remember JFK being killed but we've got memories of Vietnam and certainly Watergate. The thing is that you are falling for a trick, or worst yet, enabling the ReThuglicans to continue this foundational lie. They've created this lie that the Democrats are radically against the traditional family. Few of the lefty class has done anything that you've described so to have you get ink in and bytes on Time to forward that tired yet tried and true right wing saw gets my Scots up.

Republicans learned they can't win on many issues after the Civil Rights movement empowered a group naturally attracted to Progressive ideas so they borrowed a tactic from how Southern Democrats destroyed fusion efforts of poor whites and blacks. Divide and distract. Wedge and widen. Ridicule intellectualism and tolerance. Scare the hell out of easily scared people. By the way, nobody is "after you". They are engaging your position and arguments. Religious Right shilling of GOP talking points can be expected often these days yet you are working at high brow posts that would suggest to me that would expect a little more. You deserved scolding perhaps and to see you react by attacking the Left was wrong and it is going to get worse unless you make amends. And I'll offer why you might want to do this at the end of the post, and maybe even explain why I titled this missive using "Fundamentals".

I like zuzu's post at Femniste yet "vile" might be too strong for a Southern gent. Shill, hypocrite, confused, opportunistic, conflicted, out of touch, ... Echidne knows a good myth of course and she does a tolerable Thor on Ms. Flanagan. The above minor Greek Goddess has known you for some time it appears. I'd perhaps begin, which of course explains why I put the link here at the end of my post, with Salon's Joan Walsh review as she might have started this latest fracas, with I think a very solid and reasoned review.

I whipped out my feminist collection just this last week. Andrea Dworkin's "Intercourse" and a few other classics in essays assembled in "Transforming a Rape Culture" were carried across the river to my school. I was motivated to do this by several things. I have been allowing some of the little girls in my room to look at and/or listen to some music videos recently. Earlier in the week they pulled some hip hop stuff that was very sexist and degrading. They were really into the language and it was admittedly minimal compared to some stuff I've seen. Thugs with their "bitches and hoes" in skimpy stuff grinding and bootie shaking. When I was trying to get them to stop I wound up cutting a deal. Finish but you've got give me three to five minutes to deconstruct what you've been saying and seeing and doing the very next morning.

I showed my whole homeroom the books, talked about feminism and even my friend Red Crowley's "The Lie of Entitlement", and generally got them thinking just a touch. I talked with another "aspiring model" who has a fall back strategy of marrying money later in the day, getting a few other kids, both hens and roosters, in the mix. I've left the books where some will pick them up. Have used as bait maybe. The thing is that so few of my kids, as is true I regret for many ideas, have been exposed to the fundamentals of feminism. And they need this as I hope nearly any reasonable person can agree. So if we can ratchet the fuss above back to getting the message back where it needs to be then I think we'll do more good. Having a guy "pissing contest" or a gal "cat fight" is of little harm, and appropriate at times, yet remember the fundamentals folks. It is the next generation that really counts. Peace ... or War!