Monday, January 28, 2008

can we talk about intersectionality for a moment?

or maybe the responsibility that political figures have to be cautious and sensible about what they say? or even about the idea that at its heart effective activism/work for social change requires coalition building and solidarity? or, at the very least, that being respectful might be nice?

what is it about barack's candidacy that makes people get so nastily up in arms? this statement by the NOW New York State President is really overwhelming to me:

Psychological Gang Bang of Hillary is Proof We Need a Woman President
January 11, 2008
by Marcia Pappas, President NOW - New York State

We've all witnessed scenarios where, on the playground little girls are being taunted by little boys while both girls and boys stand idle, afraid to speak up or even cheering. Or, in the workplace males tease young and older female co-workers; make obscene gestures, inappropriate comments, laughing and expecting (often correctly) that everyone will join in. Then there was that movie where Jodie Foster portrayed the true story of woman who was ganged raped in a bar while others looked on and encouraged the realization. Still others pretended the rape didn't happen. In short, gang raping of women is commonplace in our culture both physically and metaphorically.

This past week, we witnessed just such a phenomenon involving men who are afraid of a powerful woman. Hillary Clinton, in her quest for her Presidential nomination, has in fact endured infantile taunting and wildly inappropriate commentary. Indeed we have witnessed almost comical attacks by John Edwards who in turn sided with Barak Obama as both snickered at Clinton's "breakdown," which consisted of a very short dewy-eyed moment. Now John Kerry, who should certainly know better after his own "swiftboating," has joined the playground gang.

But here's the news. Every woman knows how it feels! There are those who will dismiss, defend or even shame those around them into believing that we progressives are making a mountain out of a mole hill. But that’s the game plan of the patriarchal system that has persisted for millennia. Because they can't frighten Hillary they've decided to control her with the time-old trick of patriarchal ridicule. Women, you know what I mean!

Pundits want to know what happened in New Hampshire. Why didn't the polls see it coming? How could they have gotten it so wrong? Well, aside from the thousands of women and progressive men who made calls from their homes, dropped literature, and held house parties for undecided voters, the truth of the matter is…women get it! That’s why, when women in New Hampshire could vote in private, they came out in droves for Hillary. They'd seen more Hillary bashing than had Iowa's women, and the polls stopped too early to measure their collective reaction. What happened is that women stood up and said "We're fed up and we're not going to take it anymore! We won't sit idly by and watch, while you gang bang one of us." One woman told me she didn't even want to vote for Hillary because she feared that her campaign would be the most dreadful blood bath in the history of politics. I asked her “if Hillary is willing to stick her neck out for us, should we not be brave enough to stand strong behind her?” She agreed and said of course she would vote for Hillary.

We have waited a long time to see our first truly viable women presidential candidate. And what we see now during the debates is what women and girls have experienced from time immemorial. But it seems John's recent alliance with Barak sent a clear message to women everywhere. The message is that if a woman gets too powerful, she can count on the good ole boys ganging up on her. Hillary is a powerful, strong and intelligent woman and she deserves our support. Let us remember what we as women's rights supporters, are charged to do: SUPPORT WOMEN!

And I, your writer,certainly speak from the belly of the beast. I was in Iowa for ten days with other feminist leaders, donating our personal time and money to help with Hillary's campaign. And in spite of our shortfall in Iowa, we did make a difference. Our efforts gave Hillary second place in the precinct we walked. Let me tell you why.

Our job on caucus night was to transport eight women from a nursing home to their caucus site. These were eighty-to-ninety-year-old women who came out in the cold weather and climbed into our vans to stand for Hillary. As we talked with glee about the possibility of our first women president, we were overjoyed to hear stories of their dedication to making it happen. One woman said "I never thought I would live long enough to see a woman president." Another woman said "It's about time; we need to have a woman as our President." These were women who were born around the time that women won the right to vote. They'd heard first-hand stories of that struggle from their mothers and grandmothers. They fought long and hard to see a day when they could have their own credit cards, own their own homes and be in control of their own bodies. They remember all too well when it was legal for a man to beat and/or rape his wife because she was HIS property. They remember when “rape” was ignored by people in the community and law enforcement officials. “She must have done something to deserve it” was common language in those days. Today we still see variations on this same behavior, more subtle perhaps, through success of our efforts, but nonetheless still abusive.

Now those senior citizens we transported stood tall for Hillary, and want us all to know that to have a woman president is to send a clear message to little girls everywhere: "Yes, you can do great things and even become President of the United States." Those senior citizens really get it!

So let's not let young women and little girls down, whether it's on the playground, in the workplace, or in the political arena. Young women need role models. They need to know they can be powerful and control their own lives. By putting Hillary in the Oval Office we send that message loud and clear for all to hear. Little girls everywhere need to know that to be important they don't have to emulate Brittany Spears or other similarly-exploited women. We can do it!

Think about the legacy we'll leave behind when we support Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. Let’s put a stop to the psychological “gang banging” of women and girls. Let's stand up and be counted by way of the hard-won votes we can now cast!

Marcia A. Pappas, President, NOW New York State
found at:

NOW, please don't ever knock at my door. i just don't have the time, the patience, or the love that you need right now.

** oh, and the constant shout-outs to vaginas everywhere ("women, you know what i mean!") are so played out and just plain stupid.

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