Women In Election History

1958 maidenfom I dreamed election ad photo by john rawlings Whether or not “you’re with her,” you have to recognize the historical step of Hillary Clinton becoming the first female presumptive presidential nominee for a major U.S. political party. However, she was not the first woman to run for president. Rachel Maddow covered the titillating news (and nervous giggling that ensued) when other women ran for president of the United States of America. Maddow’s coverage includes vintage news clips reporting on Maine Senetor Margaret Chase Smith’s run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1964 and when Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American congresswoman from New York State, ran for Democratic presidential nomination in 1972.

Thankfully, there were no advertisements, real or parody, featuring any of the candidates in their underthings. A sign of minimal respect, perhaps. But then, the Maidenform “I Dreamed I won the election” ad from 1958 must have brought many a chuckle & guffaw. (More on the classic vintage lingerie ad series here & here.)

Good Friday, Bad Evangelicals

Donald Trump may pretend to be a Bible-toting evangelical with his “two Corinthians” bit, but he has more in common with Bible-thumping Ted Cruz than some may have realized. Both patriarchal fools have appeared on the cover of the National Enquirer for alleged sex scandals — cheating on their wives, to be precise.

national enquirer trump pregnant maplesI’m sure by now you’ve read all about the #CruzSexScandal. While The Daily Beast reports such tales of Cruz’s cheating have been peddled for months, one must remember that sometimes the Enquirer gets it right. Even if you go by the old idea that if you throw enough things you’ll find something that sticks, the publication was also right about Trump’s affair with Marla Maples.

Since this past survey of cheaters at Ashley Madison suggests that evangelicals are the least faithful when it comes to spouses, perhaps that all plays to the evangelical base anyway.

…Then again, it seems evangelicals are always ready to cast the first stone — even if they are the most repressed and tend to be anti the things they themselves cannot control, like alcohol and sex. (That last one is why they are so anti-abortion — it’s all about women’s sexual autonomy.) That’s one of several things (like fake women bots) we can learn from the whole Ashley Madison hack & ensuing debacles.

Image Credits: 1993 National Enquirer signed by Donald Trump & Marla Maples (& Vanna White) via eBay — current price: $150.

Fun With Dick & Shame

When discussing political collectibles, there are the strange, and then there are the tacky. And in my opinion, little is tackier than Nixon.

You know, I say this with affection, as I am collector of Nixon items and oddities.

lick dickIt began with spying a “Liberated Lovelies for Nixon 1972” button. And it might have stopped there — if the anti-button for 72 hadn’t been right there as well… But who could pass that up?!

Nixon naughtiness is out there, and I must have it.

Since those first purchases, I’ve kept my eyes open for more Nixon items.

jellypin“Yes Nixon, No Jelly,” a tab from a candy company to promote their ‘Peanut Butter No Jelly’ candy bar during the campaign. It is interesting to note that the candy bar, like the President, is no longer… I imagine more folks miss the candy bar.

Yes, there was a matching McGovern one too, but I like mocking Nixon — & I have quite the Anti-Nixon collection to prove it! *neener neener*

There are a few reasons why Nixon is so easy to mock. One’s the man himself. The other is that Watergate changed the way we looked at our politicians and leaders. With this new awareness, or cynicism, Nixon spawned more ‘stuff’ than you can imagine.

Some of my personal favorites are the National Watergate Test booklet and the Watergate Coloring Book, where you can “color the facts” yourself.

national watergate test nixon watergate coloring book

Nixon-b-GumSpeaking of Sticky-Tricky-Dicky… How about these “Win With Dick” Bubble Gum Cigars?!

When looking for Nixon collectibles, I recommend this book by Eldon Almquist, who once ran the Nixon Collector’s Organization: The Political Collectibles of Richard M. Nixon.

Job Sprawl May Be Ending — And For The Same Reasons The Partisan Politics Are Spreading

Home may be where your heart is, but a neighborhood is where you live. And it may be even more than that. It turns you, where you reside, the resulting lifestyle of your community, is further impacting the partisan divide in this country.

The United States Census Bureau stats indicate that US cities have been growing faster than the suburbs for the past few years. Something Leigh Gallagher writes about at great length in her book, The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream is Moving. In that book, Shyam Kannan, a former real estate consult who is now managing director of planning at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) said, “We are moving from location, location, location in terms of the most important factor to access, access, access.” And that access clearly involves the ideals expressed in New Urbanism, a the planning movement which advocates creating communities based on traditional neighborhood design (TND) and transit-oriented development (TOD).

New Urbanism communities feature homes within easy walking-distance of public spaces surrounded by shops and offices which meet both community consumer and employment needs accessed by various transportation routes, including not only streets for cars, but public transit, pedestrian walkways, and bicycle paths. It’s today’s “green” living. Or simple vintage living, if you prefer.

I grew up in a place like this: Greendale, Wisconsin. And it was swell. Nearly idyllic, actually. As a result, I’ve long complained about McMansions, urban sprawl, and — perhaps most egregious — the placement of huge garages in the front of houses, relegating folks to their backyards, away from front porches and lawns — and away from their neighbors. Neighbors are, like the Sesame Street song said, the people in your neighborhood.

Knowing those people made communities safer. And, as a kid who could run up and down the block with the neighborhood kids, including playing games like kick the can at dusk (and even later!), it was a blast.

I could dissolve into nostalgia here…

But suffice it to say, I am a huge fan of such communities and New Urbanism.

Whether or not they all know it, many other Americans are in love, or falling in love, with New Urbanism too because they are not only moving away from the suburbs and into the cities, but into similar communities. In fact, as job sprawl and suburban crawl are slowing, companies are moving back to the cities too. It is one part downsizing response, but also following the best workers and going where they are. And what the companies are leaving behind are these huge corporate “white elephant” commercial spaces — which are slowly being turned into new-urbanist community spaces.

But, while workers are moving into the cities and such community spaces, the wealthy CEOs and company owners are not. They remain — and want to remain — in their far-removed suburban hide-outs, sequestered from the masses, hiding behind the giant multiple-car garages that at once announce their multiple-car wealth as well as shield their homes and selves from their neighbors.

This split is more than economical. Pew Research shows that this split is along partisan political lines as well.

PP-2014-06-12-polarization-3-01

As Lisa Wade, PhD, states, this goes along way to explain the huge “Red & Blue” partisan divide in our culture:

I’m still surprised by the strength of these correlations. If the preferences hold true in real life, it means that there is significant partisan residential segregation. That would translate into fewer friendships between people on different sides of the political spectrum, fewer conversations that help them see the others’ point of view, and more cross-group animosity.

In fact, that’s exactly what we see: a strongly partisan population that doesn’t talk to each other very much.

 

“The Challenge Of The 50s — Years Of Crisis”

Doing some research for doll articles, I ran into this bit from the December 18, 1950 issue of Broadcasting Telecasting about a one hour, Chevrolet sponsored, CBS radio & TV program in which radio reporters from “all over the world” would discuss and present the issues.

challenge-of-the-1950s

The program was The Challenge Of The 50s — Years Of Crises, headed by Edward R. Murrow. The other 10 reporters were Howard K. Smith, Bill Costello, David Schoenrun, Richard C. Hottelet, Winston Burdette, Ned Calmer, Eric Sevareid, Charles Collingwood, and Larry Lesueur. (With names like that, one questions the accuracy of “reporters from all over the world.” Rather than imply international reporters, it should have been stated that the show was with “reporters stationed all over the world.”) These reporters would become known as Murrow’s Boys and the show would go on to be an annual program, best know as Years of Crisis.

For those of you who prefer to think of the 1950s as an idyllic time, one to romance over, there were issues and crises. In fact, one of them was regarding journalism itself, as the film Good Night, and Good Luck covered. This topic is illustrated clearly, if meekly, in the very same issue of Broadcasting Telecasting with mentions of Drew Pearson‘s being attacked by McCarthy and discussions of media censorship. You can click to read larger versions of the articles as needed.

1950-drew-pearson-mccarthism

1950-issue-of-Broadcasting-Telecasting-censorship

How Much Adultery Is Too Much Adultery In China?

chinese communist partyWell, that all depends on who you are.

China Daily reports that “adultery” is now banned for communist party members. That might seem a bit shocking, in one direction or another, depending on your view point of China and/or politics. You may have thought that was already the case or you may have thought that as in the US’s republican party and religious community, the anti-adultery stance was just a common sense approach for politicians — that marital infidelity is proof of “disloyalty” which would include a broken or weak commitment to country. Or, heck, maybe you never thought about it all. However, now you know: Though adultery is not illegal in China, it is now forbidden under CPC rules. And just in case you were wondering, there are a few distinctions regarding this new policy too.

Firstly, it seems the terms “adultery” doesn’t mean a simple extramarital affair; it means having a mistress — or more than three mistresses, to be precise. So cheating in general is A-OK; having one, two, or even three mistresses is A-OK; but four or more (presumably at the same time) is trouble. You might think this magic number of three has something to do with another typical assertion here in the USA, namely the fear that politicians would be sharing government secrets with lovers via pillow-talk; the more partners, the more pillows, the more talk. Hence, the greater the mathematical danger of loose lips sinking our nation’s warships. But the Chinese Communist Party is far more worried about another kind of math. The BBC explains:

In the public’s eyes, mistresses have become the ultimate symbol of corruption. The common assumption is no official would able to buy his mistress a car or a home without pilfering from public funds.

Secondly, sexism remains alive and well in this Chinese version of the Red Menace; for there is no mention of female party members. I suppose the term “mistress” might include the lesbian variety of paramours; but there is no mention of male lovers kept by women (or by men, for that matter).

The third issue worthy of noting in this new CPC rule is that there was no list of punishment(s) for those who break the rule.

In any case, Communist Party members must now at least appear to adhere to a higher moral standard than the general public.

I guess all things are not equal in this land of Communism. What. A. Surprise.

50 Years *sigh*

Today, June 21st, is my birthday; I turn 50. I feel pretty much the same way I did when I wrote this two years ago, “A lifetime of so little progress is just too much.”; only more so. *sigh*

I was born on June 21, 1964; I joined this world, as Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney left it. My mother’s screams may have been dulled by the twilight sleep of that time’s hospital deliveries, but I passed through the same veil, entered the ether echoing with the agony, pain, and fear of those men, their families and friends, and all who possess any shred of humanity… And I have lived in a country filled with those sounds and the stink of racism ever since.

On Thursday, Rachel Maddow drove this one of the points home — like a dagger in my heart.

Michael Schwerner James Chaney Andrew Goodman

In honor of the three American Heroes who gave their lives that Freedom Summer, which most decidedly lead to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — which was struck down by the Supreme Court last summer, spawning lots of laws to suppress voting, the show went to James Chaney’s grave to show if times have really changed beneath the PC surface. It was disturbing, to say the least. Watch it. Do it as a birthday gift to me.

Recently, my sister mentioned, “What’s wrong with voter ID?” and, out of respect for not ruining some rare extended family time, I just sighed and said, “This conversation won’t end without an argument, so let’s not discuss this…” Maybe she will read this.

Prison Rape Isn’t Entertaining

The Kinsey Institute reminds us that while Orange Is the New Black (OITNB) may be entertaining, it downplays a major issue that occurs not only in female correctional facilities, but in male correctional facilities as well: sexual coercion.

Although research studies vary, rates of sexual victimization in prison may be as high as 41% of prison inmates.

This is why there’s the Prison Rape Elimination Act (Sexual Violence in Correctional Facilities). However, 11 years later, governors won’t comply with the Federal standards meant to prevent sexual assault in prisons; you can sign this petition to move them to do the right thing.

OITNB

Politicians: Erect & Standing Up, But Not For Women

Maybe you don’t want to call it a “war on women”. Maybe you find the word “war” to be over-the-top, despite the facts regarding bombings, shootings, rape, and other violent attacks against women, including the places where they seek access to medical care. Perhaps you just don’t think that violence is enough to be called a “war”. But what about when you factor in the legislative bombs aimed directly at women here in the USA?

Legislating against women’s rights is at the center of politics. In the past three years, state legislatures in the US have enacted a record-setting 205 restrictions on women’s reproductive rights. That exceeds the total number of such restrictions enacted during the entire previous decade — and that last decade was no small potatoes either. Between 2001 and 2010, states passed 189 abortion restrictions. (Data from a Guttmacher Institute report.)

women's rights restrictions in states

Legislating against women’s rights is so popular right now, that one candidate for congress in Virginia, Richard Black, thinks that marital rape should be legal again, like it was in 1965, and that military rape is “as predictable as human nature”. That says a lot about his nature. And a lot more about a society in which someone espousing such beliefs can run for office.

wives-rights-sex-1965a

Maybe 1965 isn’t so far back that we need a stone tablet to mark the date, but we sure are moving backwards.

And all this while, from 2006 to 2011, Medicaid was paying $175 million for 473,620 claims for penis pumps — you know, so men can have sex. Sex that maybe their spouses didn’t want to have. Sex that maybe resulted in unwanted pregnancies, because, you know, birth control isn’t always an option. It’s a limited option with many private insurance companies and with Medicare. And it’s even less likely that your insurance or Medicare will cover an abortion. But let’s just be glad that men not only have the right to those erections but the access to medical help to force those erections too.  Isn’t it nice to know that men are all about standing up for themselves?

On This Day In History, We Ought To Be Reminded

On this date, November 6th, in 1967 a baby girl was born; just 21 years later, on July 18, 1989, she would be murdered.

The woman was Rebecca Schaeffer, an actress most famous for her role as Pam Dawber’s sister Patti Russell in the CBS sitcom My Sister Sam. For some of you youngsters, this might be before your time. (Perhaps all you know of Schaeffer is that she was the inspiration for the 2002 Jake Gyllenhaal film Moonlight Mile; the film is said to be loosely inspired by writer/director Brad Silberling, who was dating Rebecca Schaeffer at the time of her death.) But I remember distinctly being a young 24 year old woman and being shaken by the news of her death. Her age being so close — even younger than my own — pierced my youthful resistance to mortality; but what was worse was the way Schaeffer died.

Schaeffer was murdered by a stalker, a man who considered himself a fan — until God instructed him otherwise. This man-fan named Robert Bardo had adored Schaeffer’s youthful innocence, but disliked her new work as an actress when a small roll in Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills put her in bed with a male character. “If she was a whore, God was going to appoint me to punish her,” Bardo said. His mission now was to “stop Schaeffer from forsaking her innocent childlike image for that of an adult fornicating screen whore.” Or at least that’s the story he would later tell after he stalked Schaeffer at her home, was rebuffed, and retaliated by shooting her to death.

Whatever motivated Schaeffer’s murderer, the fact is that her murder finally motivated the public to care about stalking. As is unfortunately the case in our celebrity-obsessed culture, it took the death of a celebrity like Schaeffer to generate awareness and concern. Such concern over Schaeffer’s death would even lead to protective legislation.

An Innocent Life, a Heartbreaking Death

schaeffer people mag july 31, 1989

The majority of stalking, of course, occurs in the regular (non-celeb) world — and in the context of domestic violence or other situations involving everyday people the victims know. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) most recent fact sheet (August, 2012), the majority of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know, with 66% of female victims and 41% of male victims of stalking are stalked by a current or former intimate partner. When it comes to femicide:

* 76% of intimate partner femicide victims have been stalked by their intimate partner.

* 67% had been physically abused by their intimate partner

* 89% of femicide victims who had been physically assaulted had also been stalked in the 12 months before their murder

* 79% of abused femicide victims reported being stalked during the same period that they were abused.

* 54% of femicide victims reported stalking to police before they were killed by their stalkers

Now all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Territories, and the Federal government recognize stalking as a crime; however well, or not well, police and other officials may respond, strides have been made.

Yet there is another huge unresolved issue that is brought to light with the murder of Rebecca Schaeffer: Rebecca was murdered with an illegally purchased handgun, but gun control has only gotten worse here in the USA — and by that I mean less gun control.

Since Rebecca Schaeffer’s death in 1989, her mother, Danna Schaeffer, has remained consistent in her concern, saying, “I’m angry at the system that allows things like this to happen, that allows a deranged person to get his hands on a deadly weapon.” Since then, Danna Schaeffer has lobbied and fought for sane gun control. In 1991, she went door-to-door at the Capitol lobbying for a ban on assault weapons and an end to the old gun show loophole on criminal background checks. She co-founded Oregonians Against Gun Violence (OAGV). And she continues to speak out today. But despite her actions and the actions of many, politicians still refuse to take necessary action to protect innocent Americans. What more we need? Why wasn’t Sandy Hook enough? Why has public demand for gun control waned? Do we need a celebrity massacre to make us give a damn?

Today, on the anniversary of Rebecca Schaeffer’s birth, let’s not only remember her, but do something. Contact your legislators and let them know that you demand stricter gun control laws. Now Is The Time.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: Reproductive rights isn’t just a women’s issue

Republican’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act is part of their assault on reproductive rights, according to Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

 

Speaking at Planned Parenthood’s Organizing and Policy Summit this month, Warren said access to health care and family planning services was not just a women’s issue.

 

“Certainly it is a women’s issue, but it’s a family issue,” she explained. “It effects everyone in the family. We have healthier families because of the things we fight for here at Planned Parenthood.”

 

See on www.rawstory.com

In Lilli Vincenz’s papers, a trove of gay rights history

History is written by the victors, but also by the scrapbookers, the collectors, the keepers, the pack rats. By those who show up, at the beginnings of things and with the right technology. History sometimes comes in pieces. It needs to be reassembled. Pasted and coaxed. Sometimes the finished product still has holes.

 

In one corner of the climate-controlled manuscript division, on a series of otherwise empty shelves, sits Lilli Vincenz’s unprocessed collection. …

 

Twelve boxes. Cream-colored. Heavy. Inside: meticulous fragments of the gay rights movement of the latter half of the 20th century. Political pamphlets, sociological surveys, photographs and obituaries. Diaries of a young woman who was nervous about going into her first gay bar but whose Arlington living room later became the default place for gay women to feel at home.
See on www.washingtonpost.com

Infuriated & Embarrassed To Be From This State (Abortion Laws In North Dakota)

After calling Gov. Dalrymple, I called my state legislators too. And then I sent this letter via email to all as well in response to all the insanity occurring in North Dakota right now:

Stop these anti-abortion bills. Stop them now.

To wit:

HR 1456, HB 1305, SB 2303, SB 2305, SB 2368

And stop this sort of illegal anti-constitutional actions going forward.

Women’s rights to abortions services, clinics, birth control, and other health services are constitutional rights. If you were a woman and didn’t personally want any of these services, you just wouldn’t partake of them. It’s the same way with religion; walk right past the clinics as you would any church, synagogue, mosque, etc. If you worry about the unborn, trust your faith and leave that to God. You are not to judge. And legally you do not have the right to infringe upon the rights of others.

We women see through your blatant desire to not only remove choice but control women’s bodies and lives. You were not put into office to do this. You have better things to do, better ways to spend your time — our time and money — than on fundamentalist objectives which punish women and their families and indeed takes lives. Lives of actual people here, living, and voting as your constituents. Do your jobs and leave women’s bodies to women.

For more information, see here and here. You can track anti-constitutional anti-choice legislation in North Dakota here; and start here to track in your own state.

The Cost Of Rape

Below is an image purported to be an actual statement showing the monetary cost of treatment a rape victim receives at a hospital in the United States. While the estimate, or average, financial cost for surviving rape victims vary, especially if the crime is far more violent, the shocking truth is that rape costs victims — all rape victims, be they straight or gay, in urban settings or on reservations, etc. — financially as well as physically and emotionally. This bill doesn’t even show the lost income from missing work, the cost of a new door lock, counseling, etc. This is one reason why the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), imperfect as they may be, are so important.

A Reminder About Our Rights: We May Have Won, But…

While we sane folks may be celebrating the re-election of President Obama and the slew of other positive election results, we can’t forget that the battle continues. These insane control-freaks still exist, many still have power. And many nutballs weren’t up for election and remain in office. This is especially true of what Rachel Maddow correctly calls the “creepy rape and abortion caucus”. They, and their misogynist myth-information still exists. We must continue to fight to keep our rights — and in many cases, where rights and access was stripped from us, to get them back.

Image via Nerve.

Binders Keepers

Morning Joe is a show that continues to frustrate me. A recent example, Joe Scarborough’s comments on Romney’s rudeness to moderator Candy Crowley during the second presidential debate:

One, you don’t run over a female moderator. You just don’t. Stylistically you don’t. It’s very dangerous. Jim Lehrer, fine. You can get out a knife and, you know, have a knife fight with Jim Lehrer, fine. But you don’t do that with a female moderator. It’s problematic.

This from a man who continually interrupts and talks over his co-host, Mika Brzezinski. In fact, the nearly-incomprehensible-he’s-so-hypocritical Scarborough tromps over Brzezinski so often that I’ve theorized Brzezinski’s contract limits the number of syllables she may utter, making Scarborough’s rudeness of interjecting “I, I, I” a mere dotting of the fiscal “i”s to limit her speech. But it’s the poor theory of a woman amazed as she watches such perpetual rudeness. You keep it classy, Scarborough.

Scarborough also mocks “Binder-Gate”, completely missing the point of the reaction to Mitt Romney’s “Binders full of women” statement. Which is exactly what the tap-dancing Romney was trying to do. Romney want’s to hide his record, his stance, his very negative attitude towards women. It’s not the ill-phrased statement made by the perpetually awkward Romney, but the very negative scenario he was attempting to illustrate as a positive.

Let me spell it out for you: We don’t want to hear about binders full of resumes from qualified female candidates — which were given to you, not sought by you, Romney. We want to live in a world where hiring women, at equal pay, is common practice.

Binders Keepers, Binders Full Of Women

Mitt’s binder comment exposes the gender gap in terms of employment, wages, and benefits. Here, the binders represent keepers, exposing the sexist values of binding and keeping women in their place, which is, of course, beneath men. Holding women back, holding women down, limits and hurts families and our nation as a whole. And we know it.

Romney, Scarborough, et al., they seem to be mistaking fact for fiction, mistaking the female fantasies of sexual submission a la Fifty Shades for real world desires to be held down economically. While these guys substitute fiction for fact, we are not confused. We see them for what they are: Liars and anti-feminist.

To commemorate 2012, how about this Western-print binder featuring rope, customized with the words “Binders Keepers”. You can fill it with all the news stories this year.

The Political Shades Of A Colorpillar

When I grabbed this Romper Room Colorpillar toy, I had vague memories of the Romper Room TV show…

But not enough, apparently. A quick look at the Wiki entry and it turns out this toy is most fitting for this political season.

First, there’s the whole problem with children’s television shows and hosts pitching product during shows. Romper Room was the first target of the newly formed watchdog group Action for Children’s Television who leveraged the power of an threat FCC threat into ceasing “host-selling”.

Then there’s the whole Romper Room abortion scandal.

In 1962, the hostess of the Phoenix franchise of Romper Room linked her own name with that of the ongoing controversies over abortion. Sherri Finkbine, known to television viewers as “Miss Sherri”, sought hospital approval for abortion on the ground that she had been taking thalidomide and believed her child would be born deformed. Finkbine made a public announcement about the dangers of thalidomide, and the hospital refused to allow an abortion, apparently because of her announcement and its own fear of publicity. Finkbine traveled to Sweden for the abortion. Upon completion, it was confirmed that the fetus had no legs and only one arm. The incident became a made-for-TV movie in 1992, A Private Matter, with Sissy Spacek as Finkbine.

I guess this really is an educational toy — if you research it, rather than play with it.

In terms of memories of the show, as I said, they are fuzzy. Not all warm and fuzzy; just not clear. Also according to Wiki:

The hostess would also serve milk and cookies to the children, with prayer offered before eating. The famous Romper Room prayer went “God is great, God is good. Let us thank him for our food. Amen.”

Now that’s the prayer I remember saying. But that’s really odd, because our home was not a praying home. Perhaps this praying business is why I don’t recall much of the show… Perhaps when my folks found out prayer and indoctrination was part of the program, they switched the set off. That is something I will have to ask them.

Vintage Political Trick Or Treat

The Mondale-Ferraro campaign used the Halloween “Trick Or Treat” theme to get some votes in the bag:

Trick:

For those with under
$10,000 a year,
23 Billion LESS!

or

Treat:

For those with over
$80,000 a year,
35 Billion MORE!

(These are the Congressional
Budget Office projections
for the years ’83, ’84, ’85)

If these figures SPOOK you

Vote Mondale-Ferraro for America

Scarlet Letters

A Woman Living Here Has Registered to Vote

The scarlet letters of this authentic suffrage poster read, “A Woman Living Here Has Registered to Vote Thereby Assuming Responsibility Of Citizenship.” Because that’s what voting is, a responsibility of citizenship.

Whether or not the makers of this poster (which also appeared with blue lettering) intended to draw references to Hawthorne’s work or simply skimped on one-color ink printing, there’s resonating poetry here. Even Especially today.

We women and men who understand the realities of the issues need to exercise our responsibility to vote and help others access their right to vote. And we need to know the facts, share the facts.

Fact: Being a woman is not a pre-existing condition and ought not carry financial penalties for individuals and entire families.

Fact: This current attack on women is real, and, like those before, it’s about control — economic control which is fear-based and reactionary backlash.

Fact: Access to health care and, yes, even abortions, are constitutional rights — access to a clinic should be as easy as access to a church or other religious institution, not thwarted by acts of tolerated domestic terrorism.

Martha Plimpton explains the arithmetic — which is as good here at it is for jobs the economy:

Only twelve percent (12%) of US counties have an abortion provider. You read that right. (When I tell another woman who considers herself informed that very figure, it invariably leaves her agape and amazed. See, we aren’t paying attention, sad to say.) But 1 in 3 women will have an abortion at some point in her life. Think about that. Then do the math. This isn’t about luxury. This isn’t about some rare procedure that a woman can get if she really puts her mind to it or has the money. This is something 1 in 3 women feel they must do, and will do, at any cost. So, rich women will travel. Poor women will die.

Talk about literally killing the middle class.

We cannot be meek; “the meek don’t make it.”

A Is For

We need to be loud.

We need to be angry.

“Angry,” that’s just another thing “A” is for, like autonomy, allegiance — and action.

That scarlet letter “A” — or red ribbon “A” is the symbol of A Is For, an organization started by Lizz Winstead, Martha Plimpton, and others.

I just donated and can’t wait to wear this scarlet letter proudly.

Now These Are The Sort Of Political Buttons I Can Collect

I have a modest number of vintage political items in my collections… Some Nixon stuff. Some ERA stuff. I’ve even made some buttons or pinbacks too. But now I’m coveting all the union pins and pro-union pinbacks. The way things are going, one day I very well may be sitting with a young grandchild, fingerless or worse from her “work”, and I may need proof of the once-upon-a-time stories I’ve been telling her about the days when workers and even children were protected by unions.

I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to dig out pieces from my own collection; but here are a few pro-union pinback buttons I almost bought.

“The Meek Do Not Inherit The Earth – Or At Least The Part Of It Presided Over By The American Political System”

Buried inside the July 1974 issue of Psychology Today, an article which sheds some light on political movements in the United States. In Violence and Political Power: The Meek Don’t Make It (pages 35-41), William A. Gamson analyzes and discusses just what really affects changes in American politics.

Some of the article is Activism 101, but still worth mentioning.

…a challenging group must demand some change that its own membership cannot provide. A Messianic group that offered salvation to members would not qualify unless the group wanted changes in laws or social institutions as well.

I keep re-reading this article in the context of “What happened to feminism?” If you believe there’s a problem with the feminist movement, and with related issues of sexual autonomy and sexual rights, it might lie in several key places. Is it too fragmented? Unclear in it’s goals? What will history show us?

What seems unlikely, even unlikable, is the fact that violence works.

The activist groups that fought back or, in some cases, initiated violence, had a higher than average success rate; six of the eight won new advantages and five of the six were eventually accepted as well. The nonviolent recipients of attack, however, lost out completely. None of them met their goals, although one, the Dairymen’s League, was co-opted.

Violence is even more certain to reap benefits when the group’s goals are limited and when the group does not aim to displace its antagonists but rather to coexist with them. When I eliminated revolutionary groups that aimed to displace the opposition, I found that every violence-user was successful in winning new advantages and every violence-recipient was unsuccessful.

Gamson clearly states that violence is “the spice of the protest, not the meat and potatoes” but it’s amazing how effective it is. When you read that in terms of the abortion issue today, it is too clearly true. I’m not advocating bombing back; but it certainly is frightening how effective Pro-Life violence has been.

He suggests other unruly acts with which Pro-Choice groups might fight back:

Violence is not the only kind of high-pressure tactic that brings success. Ten groups used other unruly strategies on their opposition, such as strikes, boycotts, and efforts to humiliate or embarrass their antagonists.

The parting words:

Challengers who try to play by the rules that members observe among themselves should realize two things. Insiders won’t apply their rules to outsiders, and outsiders, being poor in resources, have little to offer the powerful in an alliance.

Challengers do better when they realize that they are in a political combat situation. They don’t need to look for a fight, but they had better be ready to participate in one if the occasion arises. They must therefore be organized like a combat group — with willing, committed people who know what to do, and a command structure that can keep its people out of the wrong fight at the wrong time.

But this advice really only applies to groups with limited goals. I included revolutionary groups in my sample but it should come as no surprise that none of them were successful. I can’t say what makes for success among such groups since I had no successes to compare with the failures. A more complete picture of the successful group is one that is ready and willing to fight like hell for goals that can be met without overturning the system.

Perhaps it is disconcerting to discover that the meek do not inherit the earth — or at least that part of it presided over by the American political system. But those rambunctious groups that fight their way into the political arena escape misfortune because they are prepared to withstand counterattack, and to make it costly to those who would keep them out.

Happy Birthday Me

Birthdays are a time of reflection — but don’t worry, this isn’t one of those sentimental personal pieces full of beauty and gratitude, a wistful and wise piece about aging, or even one of those sad yet triumphant stories of survival. While I have moments of deep gratitude, brief bits of wisdom, and small moments in which I feel triumph sits on the horizon like a ship I can see and might one day board, I’m still working on all those things.

Instead, this birthday is like most birthdays since I was to turn 16. That year I told my parents that I didn’t need or deserve a party; I had achieved nothing and they deserved the credit for having kept me alive. Today I feel rather the same — only with a much heavier sense of futility. For in 48 years, neither the world, my status in it, nor my feelings about it has changed much.

I was born on June 21, 1964; I joined this world, as Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney left it. My mother’s screams may have been dulled by the twilight sleep of that time’s hospital deliveries, but I passed through the same veil, entered the ether echoing with the agony, pain, and fear of those men, their families and friends, and all who possess any shred of humanity… And I have lived in a country filled with those sounds and the stink of racism ever since.

I was born white; but such privilege doesn’t preclude the ability to know how wrong racism is, to hate what separates and enslaves.  …To feel the futility of such efforts even to educate that we the privileged have an obligation to do what is right is a heavy rope around my own neck.

I was born a girl; I joined this world with my rights up for debate and my womb under the control of others men. Any progress towards equality and the right to my own person has been met with struggle, abated with state allowed terrorism, and, indeed, is being wrestled away as I sit here today. Such abuse, rape, and control by the state fills me with the same pain, indignity, helplessness, and shame as the abuse, rape, and control experienced at the hands of individuals. …And then there are the more subtle, less violent, means of control — disrespect, dismissing, muzzling, belittling, economic inequality, shaming — used to assert government control, which perpetuates the abuses by individuals.

I was born “straight”; but, like being white, I know that my privilege of heterosexuality obligates me behave as a human being towards my fellow human beings. Ostracization and inequality based on orientation &/or gender identity is still in practice, in vogue in some places. It sickens, saddens, and wearies me as if it were my own personal struggle. …Then again, since this is very much tied to male power, beliefs about sexuality, it really mirrors — nay, is, my personal struggle.

I was born without silver spoon in mouth, or nearby. My parents worked tirelessly to provide a better future for their children. It was achieved; but brief. Those born with silver services and gold flatware have worked just as tirelessly to ensure that the poor and middle class would assume their place at the feet of their economic masters. I now work tirelessly to ensure my children survive; “thrive” is a question which lies under the boot heels of social and economic masters — i.e. wealthy white men and their corrupt corporations which are allowed human status.

Survival isn’t as easy as it sounds.

So you’d think I could hang my proverbial birthday hat on that, give myself some credit for just having made it to 48.

But I am just too tired.

Too tired to even go, as is my birthday custom, and visit graveyards and cemeteries. For when I see how the nuns who gave their lives in service and faith are buried like paupers, adoringly facing the monuments of their male leaders — presumably to serve even in death, I cannot bear the energy such emotion evokes. Not even when I see that the little cement slabs which mark where the nuns lay are less lavish, less cared for, than the markers for the never-born, the aborted. Really? Are female lives given in such service worth so little that they must still be treated as less-than virtual beings, ideas of beings?! It’s all just too-too much.

A lifetime of so little progress is just too much.

Your Right To Bare Breasts

Given all the ruckus about breast feeding in public (something which relegated me to the isolation of many a stuffy room, even during family gatherings), I consider the right to bare breasts right up there with the right to bear arms. So meet crusader and an activist Moira Johnston, aka The East Village Topless Lady, who is working to spread the all-important message that it is legal for women to be topless — at least in New York City, since 1992.

Johnston is interviewed here, at the Gothamist, complete with NWS video:

Among other things, the 29-year-old discusses being harassed by middle-aged men and debating going topless with passersby (including one man who says topless women are “going against God’s law”). Johnston also tells how she was detained by cops for over an hour this week (because she was topless near the children’s park in the square), then released when they realized they couldn’t keep her. The arresting officer told her “it could be considered endangering the children…I asked his personal opinion, and he said he didn’t think it was endangering the children.”

And then there are the bare breasted broads abroad, taking to the streets, using their bare breasts to sell more than merchandise or sex itself. The women of Ukrainian based FEMEN use it to sell social change. They demonstrate for everything from women’s rights and the economy to terrorism and corruption, including against politicians like Putin.

FEMEN was founded by three young women living in Khmelnytskyi, Oksana Shachko, Anna Hutsol, and Sasha Shevchenko, primarily university students whose parents hoped that they would get married early. From an interview with Shachko:

There were hardly any jobs to be had, and the men drank. The girls, for their part, spent long evenings discussing philosophy, Marxism and the situation of women in post-Soviet society. They decided that instead of getting married, they would bring about change.

There were only three of them at first, but now the movement, whose ranks include students, journalists and economists, has spread throughout Ukraine and includes more than 300 women. Calling themselves “Femen,” they have started a movement that has also caught hold among women in Tunisia and the United States. It’s a movement that even encourages experienced women’s rights activists to undress.

Not surprisingly, FEMEN activists appear all over Europe, including in the Vatican City.

You can keep up with the FEMEN rights movement at their blog and curated stories in the news here.

Should you wish to take to the streets to defend your right to bare breasts, or to bare your breasts for social change, you’d better know the laws. [It’s currently illegal for women to be topless anywhere in the US, save for breastfeeding (which still raises hell), except for New York.] Not that imprisonment is always seen as a barrier to activists of social change; but you should know what you’re up against and make your educated decisions.

PS I refuse to mark this post NWS or NSFW because I don’t fear bare breasts or even nipples.

What The Beck??!

Part of my job is to keep an eye on auction news, so believe-you-me, I was not looking to do a story on this, but…

Heritage is the auctioneer service for Mercury One & Glenn Beck Charity Auction.

Instantly the name Glenn Beck raised my eyebrows.

The twin arches of suspicion only grew as I read more.

Some of the items include a trip to Israel, a scholarship to Liberty University, unique art and backstage passes to a Ted Nugent concert, to name a few. Bid to help Mercury One improve the human condition with malice toward none and charity toward all.

Can Ted Nugent’s name even appear near the words “malice toward none”?! No, of course not.

Mission One: One Mission Under Absurdity, With Misery For All

Does anyone even want to win pay for a scholarship to Liberty University? Uh, I guess… It’s America, land of the free, so if folks want to pay to remain woefully ignorant, I guess that’s their right.

Perhaps most importantly, what the heck is Mission One?

Something-something about charity… Something about how NASA is now “nothing more than a public relations firm.” The obligatory Tea Party dig at the Occupy movement: “We must not occupy but organize; not revolt but rebuild. This is our unique moment in time, a calling for the ‘silent majority’ to rise up and stand.”

Umm, when have the evangelical conservatives been anything other than the loud minority?

But really the mission — the one mission — of Mission One is this:

Be prepared for anything, be prepared for all.

Our goal is that each and every like-minded citizen does everything they can to be prepared for whatever may come. Prepared for emergencies, both big and small, natural and man-made. Have the food storage, medicine and necessities available, not only for your family, but to share with others in your neighborhood, church and community. Mercury One will act as a guide to mobilize Americans to assist each other as well as first responders: physically, emotionally and spiritually. We must give a hand up and not a hand out, while caring for the elderly and nurturing the young.

If that doesn’t sound apocalyptic-scary, how about it being followed up with “Rebuild, rebound, rebirth…”

Of course, Mission One thanks its sponsor, the National Center For Constitutional Studies: “A study of the United States Constitution from a principle based approach.” Their principals are not the real principals. Reading all this propaganda has me thinking that never before have the words “Founding Fathers” sounded so tainted.

Please do not bid.

Driving Female Victims Crazy

Women, report rape, get labeled as having a mental illness. This isn’t only something that happens in the military, you know; it’s just easier to document this group of women and to hold an institution accountable. At least we hope it will be easier to hold the military accountable for this! However, the rest of us who are victimized aren’t officially given a psychiatric discharge to track.

If we live to tell of the abuses we suffered (and even a one-time assault has abusive consequences from the very persons, places, and institutions we are taught will protect us, provide justice, and support us), we are then treated to the same devices our abusers employed: Isolation.

We are silenced, ostracized, demonized, all but abandoned by a society which would rather believe (if they believe us at all) that we had somehow deserved or at least brought such atrocities — because to think otherwise is to believe that the boogeyman isn’t some stranger under our beds, but rather the man we lay with in our beds. The resulting isolation alone is enough to depress. Yet that isn’t they type of “crazy” they’ll be satisfied with either.

Women need to be put in their place with stronger, more pathological or violent diagnoses, so that we can be even less credible, dismissed completely. We are medicated (if we are white enough) and even institutionalized. There’s a long history of this, which Karen Essex shares:

I read the psychiatric journals of the period, which prescribed bizarre treatments for ladies who were “hysterical,” which usually turned out to mean that they were “excitable in the presence of men.” In many instances, the desire to read all day or engage in intellectual studies, were also regarded as symptoms of mental illness in the female. Young women were committed to asylums for doing cartwheels in mixed company, for desiring sex with someone other than one’s husband, or for staring seductively at a man. Most behavior that showed spunk, spirit, or sexual need, was pathologized.

All sorts of harrowing and torturous cures were developed to “settle” these women – restraints, forced housework (to help them remember their true natures), repeated plunges in ice water, and force-feeding, to name a few. As mental illness in females was thought to originate in the womb, doctors also were obsessed with menstrual cycles, figuring that if a patient’s cycle could be regulated to a strict 28-30 day cycle, the “illness” of wanting to have sex or read books all day, would disappear. Not coincidentally, an irregular cycle was also considered a sign of mental illness and required treatment.

If pure “spirit” or too much personality at odds with a man’s opinion is a problem, just imagine what daring to accuse a man will do to upset the apple cart.

(Absurd medical practices based on the thought that a woman’s menstrual cycle has any connection to her existence in utero, or manipulation of the former can correct the latter aside… If mental illness in women originates in the womb, just try to get insurance to cover that preexisting condition!)

But wait; there’s more.

You can be among the more fortunate of us and have escaped assaults, abuse and violence and still suffer. As I’ve asked before, in a social world of politics & legislation which tries to control us & our bodies, how do we keep perspective, how do we honestly keep our sanity in this mess?

Is simply being a woman in today’s society a reason why so many women, more than men, are medicated? I can feel a reason why more women in my age bracket of “over 45” are feeling crazy– as Angela Davis notes, 40 years later, and so many issues for women’s equality still have not been resolved.

Perhaps this why there’s something called feminist therapy.

Techniques that are used by therapists include helping the client understand the impact of gender roles in their lives, to provide clients with insight into ways social issues affect their problems, to emphasize power differences between men and women in society, to help clients recognize different kinds of power that they possess and how they and others exercise their power.

If your insurance will pay for it, of course.

Oiy, and before anyone whines or complains; I don’t hate men.