Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Idiot's Guide to Why Marijuana Legalization Is Bad

Yes, one ballot initiative has acquired the necessary signatures in California. We will be facing one legalization (at least) initiative next year.

Most people, when I ask them, favor legalization. So what does legalization mean to them?

1. It will be regulated.
2. It will be taxed.
3. DUI laws for THC will eventually get on the books.
4. You'll buy it at liquor stores, or pharmacies, and people won't be going to jail anymore.

The initiative that is going to be on the ballot doesn't look anything like that. I'll post more on that later.

For now, here's something to make you laugh because I do get ever so tired of the arguments stoners put forth on why legalization should happen. I decided to take a KISS approach (KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID) to countering pro-legalization arguments. Here’s my first stab.

Legalization would do away with the black market, and reduce crime. Oh, you mean like dispensaries have? What a boon to society they’ve been! Storefronts crowding in on every corner, armed robberies, shootings, advertising pot to kids, and enormous Mexican cartel grows worth hundreds of millions of dollars up in the mountains. Wow, I can’t even go hiking up there anymore in case I stumble on a grow and get shot. Where are those environmentalists when you need them???? Looks like near-legalization INCREASED the black market and crime, and wildly. It moved the Mexican cartels to THIS side of the border. Can hardly wait to see what happens with legalization. Prediction: black market will INCREASE again!!! (see tax situation below for explanation why)

Legalization would save us so much money in enforcement. There are 254 people behind bars for crimes strictly related to marijuana in this state.

Wow. We're going to write a whole initiative for them?????

We’d immediately trade enforcement costs for the enormous cost of increased regulation by the government. The ATF would become the MATF. DUI laws and enforcement, alcohol and tobacco regulation all cost ENORMOUS sums of money. When have you ever known government to do anything both effectively and inexpensively?

Law enforcement is beginning to look cheap in comparison...

We could tax it and regulate it. See above for the regulation argument = increased costs. As for taxing, true enough, but the incredibly high tax rates on cigarettes and alcohol pay about 1/8th of the social cost they produce. Why should we increase this already ridiculous load? 

The money raised from taxing legal marijuana would put California in the black. This must be some of that ‘new math’. Didn’t the banks try this? ‘If we give loans to people who can’t afford houses, we’ll get rich!’ Even if we accept Amiano’s wildly inflated $1.4 billion in annual revenues, that’s a tiny amount against an $86.4 billion budget with $10 billion projected deficit. It doesn’t even make a dent. Further, to generate $1.4 billion in taxes, you’d have to tax legalized marijuana at a rate of about 60%. Like the pot smokers would sign up for that...can’t you just hear the whining that will ensue? ‘But alcohol and cigarettes aren’t taxed that high...and they’re so much worse!’ Watch for the black market to crank up in the face of 60% tax rates. Marketing pitch for the black market: ‘Think of the money you could be saving, instead of paying it to the government, those thieving swines!’

Marijuana is just a plant. It’s natural, from natural ingredients. Um, ok.
Vodka = potatoes
Wine = grapes
Cigarettes = tobacco plants
Beer = hops
Opium + heroin = poppies (such pretty flowers! Remember them from that Wizard of Oz scene?)
Crack + cocaine = cocoa leaves
Coffee = coffee plant beans
Chocolate = cocoa beans
Cholesterol blockers = blueberry extracts

Hmmm...seems a lot of things are made from plants...all very natural. Why is marijuana special again?

Marijuana is ancient, it’s been with us for centuries.
Ditto for the above list, except for the cholesterol blockers. But then again, you could always just eat the blueberries...or stay away from McDonald’s.

If you’d just educate your kids...if you’d just stop increasing my parental burden, we’d get along fine.

Marijuana is useful in treating so many illnesses. And if you were smart, you’d shut up. Big Pharma will hear you, and start using that same rallying cry to take over the cultivation, distribution, and retail of pot. You’ll be buying your weed from Merck, and paying them big profits. Along with that 60% tax to get California out of debt. Doesn’t that black market look better by the minute?????

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Moratorium is IN

It's certainly not perfect, and it's a token gesture to us, the supposed hysterical 12-steppers, but it's in.

The way the council rigged it is:

1. For 45 days, possibly to be extended under the new council for up to one year (though Das and Grant would NEVER go for that)
2. Passing the revised ordinance will lift the moratorium (Dale, Hotchkiss, and Self will NEVER go for that)
3. City continues to process applications for completeness, even though these would be for dispensaries and not the non-profit collectives. Mayor Marty Blum did not know that's what they were passing, but Mayor-Elect Helene Schneider motioned for it last week, and it was obviously written in there by Grant and Das as a gesture or lifeline to dispensaries to get to stay in queue until the new ordinance passes. I am guessing Helene, Grant, and Das met beforehand to agree on their strategy, which is:
Look tough by motioning for the moratorium, knowing it's a token gesture with a back-door loophole. They did this so they could claim the high ground and say they are tough on dispensaries.

It's in. That's all that matters. Now, for the legalization fight....and it's going to be a doozie!!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Updates on the Santa Barbara Dispensary Scene

The Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse put on a townhall last night on dispensaries within Santa Barbara. We had a panel of 6, including myself. I went on far too long in presenting the legal landscape, but that landscape is changing so fast, it's really hard to keep up:

August: People v. Honchanadel, Fourth Appeals Court, CA. Decided the legality of storefront dispensaries. Storefront dispensaries that operate collectively or cooperatively are legal. The operators of CannaHelp, a dispensary in Palmdale, are not qualified as primary caregivers under the law. The decision is located here.

September: (BUSY MONTH)
Los Angeles announces they will do away with retail sales of marijuana, and will crack down on illegally operating dispensaries. In the opinion of DA Steve Cooley, that's pretty much all of them.

Claremont ban upheld by the court of appeals, so cities can ban dispensaries, and close them down, legally. Nothing in state law requires a city to have dispensaries. 120+ cities across California have now banned dispensaries. 73 have moratoriums.

Appeals court hears the Anaheim case. Americans for Safe Access, a well-funded pro-marijuana group, filed an amicus brief with the appeals court against Anaheim. The ordinance from Anaheim bans dispensaries, and also includes prosecution if one opens. This is a step further than Claremont. The case can be found here. A decision is expected later this month.


Los Angeles City Attorney moves ahead with the ordinance to ban retail sales in Los Angeles, and only allow the collective or cooperative model authorized by state law. That ordinance can be found here.

We presented our slides on the shifting legal landscape to Helene Schneider. We also continued to try to work to engage the non-profits. Shereen Katapouch of the Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, a longtime attender of ordinance committee meetings, and a great advocate against drug abuse, connected with us, and it looks like we might have a solid ally in her. No luck yet with other non-profits.

Here in Santa Barbara, our ordinance committee continued to wade through issues such as whether dispensaries can be in mixed-use buildings, and whether we should have a cap of 4 or 7. Dale Francisco wants a cap of 4. Das Williams wants a cap of 7. Thing is, with 22 dispensaries, we're way out of cap, and yet, no moratorium, though Dale proposed one. He was shot down immediately by Das. So why doesn't the city stop the floodgates????

Councilman Francisco informed the ordinance committee that the landscape has indeed changed, and dispensaries as they exist today may not be legal. With that in mind, he wanted to get the ordinance committee to halt rewriting the ordinance, and take the issue back to council. Das wanted to keep working on the ordinance, but agreed to take the issue back.

Tony and I presented our slides on the legal landscape to Councilman Roger Horton. Iya Falcone was also supposed to meet with us, but begged off.

October 19: Eric Holder, US Attorney General, announces no prosecution of medical marijuana. But did he really say that? No, as usual, the media only reports the barest surface. What his letter says is that they're essentially done going after cancer-stricken patients, and their caregivers, who use and administer medical marijuana. It's not a priority. But heavy marketing, large cash on premises, firearms, and other indicators of recreational trafficking are fair game. Read the memo here.


11/11 The AMA decides to research and study the effects of marijuana. They've been prohibited from doing so as it's a class I drug under federal law. They outlined that they do not want to endorse legalization or promote medical marijuana.

11/12 The Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and Fighting Back host a townhall at Victoria Hall.

Coming up: BE THERE: City Council, 11/17, at 6:00 PM to discuss the appropriate model for Santa Barbara. The City Manager and City Attorney are recommending that we move away from the retail, over-the-counter sales model for dispensaries, and instead allow only true collectives or cooperatives, where patients and caregivers come together to collectively grow medical marijuana with some doing the growing, some the cultivation and others who can't do physical work purchasing the material needed. Links to the info packet sent out by staff can be found here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Call to Action on Medical Marijuana in Santa Barbara

A lot is happening this week. Tough to keep up, but we'll try. This is the week to get mobilized and moving. If you haven't been to a hearing, written to council, or the media, this is the week to do it.

If you don't act, it may be too late.

Here's what's happening this week:

1. Hearing on 302 E Haley, 9:00 AM Gephard Room, 630 Garden St. Timothy Cooney is opening this one, oh he that used to run that awful bar on Anacapa and Haley (now EOS). Now he wants to sell pot. Do leopards change their spots? Businesses along Haley are encouraged to come out and stop yet another pot shop from entrenching into the Marijuana Mile in Santa Barbara. We've asked the city to get a legal opinion from the city attorney that they are truly on solid legal ground in continuing to approve dispensaries. Why? Because it looks like at the state level, dispensaries engaging in over the counter sales are illegal. So why is our city continuing to approve these? Lawsuits could be brewing on the horizon. Citizens in Los Angeles sued the city for allowing drug dealing via dispensaries in their neighborhoods. Take note, Santa Barbara.

2. Hearing on 2 W Mission. This is a cluster-f*@k. The Staff Hearing Officer approved the permit, and no one filed an appeal to Planning Commission. So it looked like the way was clear. That is, until the County spotted this. Turns out there is a school at 7 E Mission for older kids with disabilities. The County Education Office notified the city, and now they want to revoke the permit. The dispensary is fighting back using, of all things, zoning laws saying there can't be a school there, and it's not really a school. Never mind the fact that it's been there for ages. We lost this before with Girls Inc and the dispensary at 631 Olive. The city attorney said the Girls, Inc couldn't be considered an educational facility, a ridiculous piece of legal advice if ever there was one. Let's see what they come up with on this one...

3. Sign this petition against dispensaries in Santa Barbara: It will take you all of one minute.

4. Join this group: We'll keep you posted on all the goings-on, and we have a lot of good information about this movement.

5. Write to your council members. Addresses:

Remember, if you don't act, you are sending the tacit message that you are ok with dispensaries overrunning our city. Most people get mad when a dispensary parks next to their home, child's school, or business. If we wait until one moves in next door, it will be too late.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dispensary Hearings Coming UP

A dispensary is proposed for 302 E Haley St. This is 2 blocks from an existing dispensary at 100 E Haley St (nonconforming, trying to move to 430 Chapala St). The proposed tenant is Aloha Spirit Organic Consumables. They don't sound like a compassionate caregiver, do they? Turns out they're from Los Angeles, and like a lot of dispensaries there, they applied for the hardship moratorium and were turned down by Councilman Dennis Zine, who is teaming up with his District Attorney and City Attorney to shut their for-profit retail dispensaries down.

Wonder why Santa Barbara can't figure this out? Why can't they stop new applications until they get this situation under control? This dispensary will now join others on the Marijuana Mile, a one mile swath of dispensaries in this town.

Did we want to be a city of pot shops? Did we want E Haley to be a dispensary row? Is that good for our city and our neighborhoods? The Council of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse is right across the street from 302 E Haley. Hopefully they will fight this one going in. How easy is it for people to hold onto sobriety when staring into a pot shop as they leave meetings?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Things are getting bad...really bad

This is a map showing all the dispensary locations in Santa Barbara.

Including the online mobile ones, there are 22 dispensaries in this city.

There are 11 Starbucks.

Clearly, we are the toker capital of the Central Coast.

Das Williams thinks 22 dispensaries represents a lot of demand. For recreational smoking, that is.

Too bad that's not legal under state law.

Who's behind all this medical marijuana? Big Canabusiness, that's who!

Let’s call medical marijuana dispensaries what they are: big canabusiness. Their interest is big profit, low regulation, and fooling nice, well-meaining city council people and citizens, even those who are pro-marijuana legalization, into believing this is all about compassion.

Please. I can go get medical marijuana right now because my feet hurt from standing here before you in high heels. I can get a recommendation from a doctor online in Santa Maria, take it to a dispensary and get my ounce of pot. You are not being compassionate in allowing dispensaries. You are being fooled. This is about money.

Don’t be fooled by cannabusiness. They invented the dispensary business, and they want to keep prices artificially high, and actually prevent Californians from growing their own medical marijuana, either personally, or within a collective, under a doctor’s supervision. That is what is allowed by state law. Nothing in state law mentions the word dispensary, nor authorizes it.

If pro-marijuana legalization advocates would stop and think about it for a moment, they would realize that canabusiness forces are actually against legalization, which is up on the state ballot in 2010. Canabusiiness owners don’t want you growing your own pot, or working with a collective. They want you to buy it from them! They’re actually against legalization because the state will likely shut down the dispensary business in favor of some other model for distribution and regulation. Pot shop owners are operating in a nice legal haze currently and they want that to keep right on going. Legalization is against the interest of dispensary owners because it will virtually stop the rampant profiteering that is currently going on.

State law provides for marijuana use under a doctor’s recommendation for pain relief for the seriously ill. Pain caused by high heels or writer’s cramp is not seriously ill. Cities attempting to allow dispensaries are actually going beyond what state law intended, and this is just what the canabusiness owners want you to do. Sanction them to operate in your city.

Ask yourselves, did you mean to do this? Did we mean to become, as a city, a community of pot shops and dispensaries, legal or otherwise? Is this really preserving the heritage and uniqueness of Santa Barbara? Did we mean to expose our children and our neighborhoods to this? To those representing the canabusiness groups who say nothing has happened yet, not so. Kids are getting pot from dispensaries. Schools are dealing with it on their campuses. Armed robberies are going down in LA – 16 in the past 2 weeks, with 2 shootings. We’ve had an armed extortion here. Bad things ARE happening. Did we mean to bring dispensaries to Santa Barbara and overrun our city? I don’t think any citizen here that voted for the ordinance meant for this outcome to happen. We all thought pharmacies would handle it. They won’t because the feds have not legalized it.

Other cities across the state ARE doing something about this. LA is looking at banning dispensaries outright, closing them all down, and they’ve got 800+! They’re looking at forcing a collective model, where patients register and work within a collective to grow their own. They’re looking at limiting the number of patients any collective could work with, perhaps even to 5. This would gut the profit-potential in the current canabusiness landscape, which is a good thing, and serves compassion without engaging in profiteering, or going beyond state law.

Danny Kato is a great guy, and he’s good with drawing maps. But I can’t ask him to bone up on customs law to decide whether it’s legal for a dispensary to sell Afghanistan hashish. I can’t ask him or the City Attorney to familarize themselves with US Agriculture Department laws on growing so they can regulate growers. I can’t ask the planning department to get a handle on doctors, who can recommend it, and how much they can recommend. Even the American Medical Association won’t do this. In short, to support the canabusiness owners in allowing dispensaries asks cities to take on a regulatory burden that is beyond their purview and capabilities. It’s like asking the Parking Department to figure out Insterstate commerce. It can’t be done from looking at zoning maps.

Even Amsterdam, where marijuana, along with prostitution, is fully legal, the Dutch have tighter rules around possession and proximity to children than anything on the books in Santa Barbara. If we can’t even be better than Amsterdam, then what are we doing?

IN an election year, when this city council seems very beholden to the interests of cannabusiness, when this could well become such a big election issue that would make discussions on bulb-outs and building heights seem like schoogirl arguments over very small, provincial matters, think carefully about your stance on this issue before you side yet again with big canabusiness. Don’t be afraid to be called a conservative, Republican, uncompassionate meanie simply because you don’t want to support big canabusiness.

Medical Marijuana in Santa Barbara

What’s up with medical marijuana dispensaries springing up like, ahem, mushrooms?

They call themselves healthcare collectives. Most don’t have business marquees. Healthy, fit people, mostly under age 30, and even some gang-bangers, enter their doors, leave moments later, heading off to smoke their score, or resell it.

Welcome to the medical marijuana dispensary industry in Santa Barbara. With 10 already open, 3 more permitted to open, and even more in the permit pipeline, they are starting to cluster as densely as one per block in some areas of Santa Barbara.

How does it work? A doctor will see you within minutes, even come to your home, and issue a recommendation for anxiety or writer’s cramp. Then you’re off to the dispensary to pick up your pot.

This is very far away from the intent of the Compassionate Use Act, passed in 1996, allowing people who were seriously ill or dying the ability to access marijuana, if it eased their suffering, and their doctor thought it appropriate.

How did we get from pain relief for the seriously ill to dispensaries? Pro-marijuana forces such as NORML, Americans for Safe Access, and saw medical marijuana as a door-opener to legalization. The roadblock was the Feds, who still consider marijuana illegal. When Obama took office, Eric Holder, head of the DEA, said that they would not target medical marijuana users in states that had adopted laws like ours in California. Ganjapreneur dispensary operators interpreted this as a window in which they could now sell to primarily recreational users under the semi-legal protection of medical marijuana.

Here’s a how-to checklist for a dispensary to subvert the state laws. It could have been written by a pro-marijuana organization (who have plenty of lawyers on their payrolls):

State law: Seriously ill patients can grow up to 6 plants. If they are too ill, their primary caregiver can grow it for them.

Get all patrons to sign forms designating the dispensary as their ‘primary caregiver’.

State law: Collectives or cooperatives are the only forms of organization allowed where caregivers can cultivate marijuana together for their seriously ill patients.

Cooperatives distribute all profits among members, so that’s no good. Form a collective. No one knows what that means, anyway. The Attorney General had to look it up in Webster’s. Get people to become members of your collective by having them sign a form.

State law: Patients can reimburse the primary caregiver for expenses incurred in cultivating medical marijuana.

That means you can sell it! Ask for a ‘suggested donation’ to recover costs that matches the street price.

State law: No profit is allowed.

Organize as a non-profit. That just means we don’t issue stock and pay dividends to shareholders. It doesn’t mean we can’t make tons of money at this. We’ll pay ourselves very high salaries so it looks like it’s not that profitable.

State law: Patients must have a doctor’s recommendation that marijuana is appropriate to relieve their pain.

Some doctors are very happy to write recommendations for almost any condition, seeing up to 20 patients or more per hour, at $200 each. Get a list of these doctors, and hand them out to prospects. The recommendation is good for up to a year. We can always scream ‘patient confidentiality’ if law enforcement asks to see our records. People don’t know that HIPAA confidentiality only applies to drugs distributed legally under federal laws.

City councils aren’t exactly comfortable with having dispensaries.

No problem! Just tell them they’re Republican Nazi meanies if they don’t allow ‘compassion’ for ‘patients’, which is code for let us sell our ‘medicine’. They should zone it into areas of the city where most of the residents don’t bother voting. We’ll threaten to sue if they ban dispensaries. That will force them.

This is very tongue-in-cheek, but you get the picture.

Some cities haven’t fallen for it. Fresno’s ordinance doesn’t allow any business that isn’t compliant with state and federal laws. Since marijuana is still illegal under federal law, no dispensary can open. They do anyway, and law enforcement shuts them down.

State courts are starting to issue decisions that gut the dispensary model. The city of Claremont passed a ban, and closed down a dispensary. The operator sued, and lost. He appealed, and lost again. The Appeals Court ruled that nothing in the state laws compels cities to allow dispensaries.

In People v Mentch 2008, the California Supreme Court said that “primary caregiver” has two components: they must be designated by the patient, and must be a person “who has consistently assumed responsibility for the housing, health and safety” of the patient. “A defendant asserting primary caregiver status must prove, at a minimum, that he or she (1) consistently provided caregiving, (2) independent of any assistance in taking medical marijuana, (3) at or before the time they assumed responsibility for assisting with medical marijuana. The Compassionate Use Act “does not provide protection from prosecution where the provision of marijuana is itself the substance of the relationship.”

Thus dispensaries can be prosecuted even if you sign a piece of paper saying they’re your primary caregiver. It’s reasonable to conclude that patrons of the dispensary are similarly at risk of prosecution if the relationship between a patron and the dispensary is only for procurement of marijuana.

The District Attorney of Los Angeles and the City Attorney of Los Angeles also recently came to the conclusion that retail storefront dispensaries, are, in fact, illegal. Los Angeles law enforcement is moving aggressively to shut down all their dispensaries.

Some dispensary operators here are nervous about the backlash that is starting. A dispensary littered the sidewalk with pro-marijuana flyers and passed them out to elementary and junior high kids protesting along “The Marijuana Mile’ as they passed the storefront. Why didn’t they hand out something showing how they’re serving compassion? Sick patients step aside, please, in favor of recruiting future users.

Other operators are sweating about too much competition - a serious red flag to anyone still believing dispensaries are in the compassion business. Competition is no issue in a true collective or cooperative organization. Businesses worry about competition when they are nervous about erosion of profits…the biggest clue that dispensaries are in it just for the money.

Regulation of dispensaries via zoning laws, as is done in Santa Barbara, is hopelessly inadequate. City planning staff just doesn’t have the person-power or breadth of expertise needed to handle the bigger issues around dispensaries. These regulations would be provided by federal agencies, but since marijuana is illegal under US law, they can’t help. For example, can dispensaries sell hashish from Afghanistan? US Customs would handle that. Is it legal to truck it here from out of state? Congress would regulate that. Is it legal for doctors to recommend marijuana for any illness? The American Medical Association probably has some strict views on that, but refuses to touch the subject since it’s illegal under federal law.

It’s not possible to achieve end-to-end regulation over growing, distribution, doctor recommendations, and appropriate use through city zoning provisions. Dale Francisco has been making this case lately.

Dispensary owners see a creative solution to that problem – self-regulation! They’ll form an association, and regulate themselves. No oversight by a city or law enforcement needed.

Someone should check on the recent national debacle within the finance industry in that regard. Leaving the foxes in charge of the henhouse is never a good idea.

When we passed Proposition 215 in 1996, no one foresaw pot shops overrunning our neighborhoods. No one thought that kids would bring it to school, and tell shocked school administrators that it’s legal. No one thought that young kids would swallow the propaganda that marijuana is medicine, and good for them. But this is indeed the situation. Ganjapreneurs have now constellated a serious law enforcement and public opinion backlash, which will likely result in crackdowns, closures, and bans across the state. The state laws are indeed vaguely written, but to flout them was foolish, and very uncompassionate to the seriously ill. The unfolding backlash will likely result in dispensaries being made illegal under state law, set the pro-legalization movement back years, and make access for the truly ill much more difficult.

The ordinance committee, consisting of Das Williams, Dale Francisco, and Grant House, are continuing to wade through tightening of the ordinance through zoning, even though this won’t solve the larger regulatory issues. Francisco is questioning the legality of the retail dispensary model, and wants to take it back to Council.

In the meantime, the Planning Department is approving more dispensaries to open. Soon we’ll have double the number of dispensaries that we do Starbucks.

That’s saying something.

We're moving to medical marijuana

Though traditionally, we tend to post about women's issues, we're now moving to an issue that is rocking California and other states, and overrunning our beautiful Santa Barbara.

I am talking about medical marijuana, which is the semi-legal front for dealing marijuana in our fair city. With 16 open dispensaries, and more in the pipeline, my beautiful beloved city is becoming the toker capital of the Central Coast.

Keep an eye on this blog as we continue to watch this issue.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

And soon there will be support for American women to don the burkha

Geez, check out this story:

Obama Praises Islam as 'Great Religion'

President says Islam is "part of America," hails the religion's "commitment to justice and progress"

Are you kidding me???? Commitment to justice and progress? With women on death row in Iraq for crimes they didn't commit? With women being forced to have cliterodectomies in Africa, and wear burkinis in the UK?

Americans, wake up.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

We need more rogue women

Palin was accused of going 'rogue' by Republican handlers when she wanted to go off-script. Jonathan Martin at Politico remarks that when one makes the speech the media thinks one is going to make, and notifies the media ahead of time so that bylines are ready before the speech is even made, why that makes one a savvy politician. When a politician goes off-script, says what they really think, and is honest about choices they've made, they're erratic, incoherent, rambling, and nuts. Or rogue.

I like rogue women, women who follow their own script, and don't care what others think. HRC was rogue in that she decided she could be as powerful as her husband. She didn't feel she had to make cookies to be a good mother. Why is being a high-powered career woman and equal to her husband the antithesis of a good mother? As a career woman with no husband raising a daughter, I count myself in the good mothers set. My daughter eats organic, lives in a nice home, goes to a good school, travels, gets plenty of love and care, and seems to be thriving. I didn't subscribe to the notion that a career means sacrificing the child. Later in life, when I attained higher management positions that brought with them travel and very long hours, I began to see how corporate workplaces were structured in such a way that it became extemely difficult to be an ideal mom and successful executive at the same time, but I still wouldn't wish women back into the home to care for children. I think we need to push in the opposite direction: better maternity leave programs, more ability to work at home without sacrificing pay or position, and watching corporate fathers pick up more 'daddy duty'.

But Clinton was treated as a rogue woman - how dare she try to have it all! We seem to have passed that issue...until she tried to run for president. Then the smackdown for 'woman get in thy place' came out in earnest. It seems she would be stopped at being the full equal to her husband in terms of power by the boyz. Most of the rage and criticism directed against her pointed to her power-hunger, as though this was a bad thing.

It isn't for men, apparently. Power-hungry men are often well regarded.

Power-hungry women, though, are to be stoned to death. Or at least relegated to some lesser post, like Secretary of State.

Shirley Chisholm was a rogue woman. Running for president in the 70's as a black female. She was deemed 'nuts'. However, she was the first black congresswoman in the US. She was the first black and first black female to run for POTUS in the Democratic party. She said being a woman threw more impediments in her path than being black ever did. She was laughed at, but she dared to be herself, dared to reach for power.

That's rogue.

I love it.

Palin is also rogue. She doesn't conform to any feminist stereotype, yet she had a power position, a manly hubby that supports her ambitions, children, and a frontiersman lifestyle. She was the second woman EVER to be tapped as a VP candidate, and the first in the Republican ranks. She makes her decisions, doesn't apologize for who she is, and doesn't try to live up to whatever the prevailing image of women is, according to gossip / fashion / homemaker magazines.

Thank God.

For this, she is deemed as a rambling, incoherent rogue. Hmmm. Seems to me like the real problem here is that women who reach for power, women who don't fit in nice pigenhole stereotypical boxes, are considered power-hungry, crazy, attention-grabbing, rogues. Why won't they get in their place? Disappear into oblivion? Get lost? The blogs whine this sort of thing all day long, and op-eds positioned as 'news' do the same thing. Woman, get back.

The rogues don't, God love 'em. They do what they want, and don't conform to the images society has set for women. I think we need more rogues. In fact, I'd love to see women go rogue as a whole, and stick their thumbs up the patriarchy's butt as a collective. I'd love to see women assume that abortion rights are here to stay, and move on to the next frontiers: levelling that playing field once and for all. Only rogues can do this, because they are being real, as opposed to conforming to images that women as a whole try to sign up for, and then apologize for falling short. Rogue women, in short, don't give a damn, and will mow you down to pursue their goals, while not apologizing in the slightest to you for not conforming to your image of how they should be.

Here's to being rogue, and proud of it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Palin steps down, now let the media tell us all why (cause she's so bad)

Sarah Palin resigned as governor, and my mouth hangs agape.

But part of me responds - that inner part that knows enough of life to know when a woman might just be tired of fighting a never-ending tidal wave - oh yea, I get it. I look at my 12 year-old daughter, and think, is my fight, my principles, my wish to do good, more important than your childhood, and our happiness and survival as a family? Do I really need to put us through hell for me to prove I can do things as a woman?

I think sometimes you have to make hard choices, and this might be one of them. I know that certain skeletons in my closet keep me from trying to run for office because I don't want certain family members' past actions brought to harsh limelight, when those actions have been dealt with and amends have been made. Are my ambitions worth the price my family would pay in media glare to sell some newspapers?

Maybe. But maybe not.

So maybe Sarah has had enough of her family being smeared, her state being smeared, and maybe she is thinking that it's time to walk away from this fight, so the state can continue its business without CNN and every blogger who can create an avatar reigning insults down on them. Maybe if I was facing that much hit-piece work, that much smear, that much attack on my family, and felt my state was getting trashed because of it...well maybe I'd ask if it was so important to cleave to my career by staying on this track, and destroying my family's chances at any sort of life because of it. I might ask if there were a better place I could do my bit to change the world, a better platform to operate off of, where my family is more shielded, and my charge (Alaska, in her case) were able to operate without a million judgmental journalists looking on.

Yea, maybe I'd walk away to live to fight another day too.

I don't know that this is actually what she is doing, but reading her speech, it feels like it.

Something else comes to mind as I read opinions of what she's doing, mostly fabricated by media trying to find a reason to justify its banal existence by putting out spin pieces which have little to do with actual events, but everything to do with propagating as much judgment as possible. So here we have op-ed replacing actual journalism, and no one seems to have noticed, but everyone's now converted. But I digress. I am thinking of how in this supposed post-modern, post racial, post feminist age, the image of two particular politicians, as constructed in the media, have supplanted the reality of the people themselves, and how disturbing this is to me, because it means that people can do whatever they like in the background, for good or ill, but their image is being constructed to do something else entirely. This is dangerous because while we are busy focusing on the image, we will miss the reality.

Let me explain a little.

People bought into the image of Obama representing the 'new kind of politics', being a different kind of leader, going against the status quo, etc. Many people, when listening to his speeches, felt he 'spoke to them' personally. He touched them. He'd accomplished little as a new US Senator, other than penning two memoirs, and running for President. No one seemed to have a problem with this, though they do with Palin leaving office early.

Yet, as president, Obama bailing out the enormous banks who backed him, with our tax dollars, while in this economy, many of us can no longer pay those banks for our mortgages and credit cards, though we still have to pay our taxes. The banks are getting paid twice, by us, in this case. How this isn't fraud, I don't know. Yet, there is virtually no reaction because, hey, Obama is going to save the economy. That's the image - it's why people voted for him in droves.

Obama's election and now presidental image is that he's getting us out of Iraq, he's closing down Gitmo, and he's our personal emissary to the Muslim world. He delivered the amazing Cairo speech, which ought to fix everything that nasty Bush did. This is the image.

The reality is that Obama is continuing Bush's policies in Iraq & upholding the Patriot act. The reality is that getting out of Iraq before they can really stand on their feet leaves them vulnerable to invasion by Iran, a longtime enemy. Obama, as our leader, decided to act as an apologist for the US to the Muslim world, and praised them for having achieved the height of culture (while they live in bombed out rubble today in a downward spiral of a fundamentalist religion that stultifies them).

He lets the Democratic Congress have its way entirely, so they can design Mega Stimulus Act II, while we have no way of paying for Mega Stimulus I, which hasn't proven itself to be working. To ease fears on the economy, he spins that we aren't losing jobs, nor creating them. We're saving them, though there is absolutely no way to measure this, and hence no way to say if he's been effective at saving them...or not. But it sounds good.

He nominates a Hispanic judge, who's stated that as a Hispanic female she has better judgment than a white male, which is essentially a racist statement. However, because we're all post-racial now, the image is put forth as a statement of enlightenment.

In a striking act of supporting feminism (NOT), after setting a new standard in misogyny by having his campaign malign and trash Clinton in the primaries, and Palin in the general, he tells the Muslim world that Muslim girls in our country have the right to wear the hijab, if they want to.

For this, he is hailed as the new Messiah.

Feminist love him. Liberalz love him. Europe loves him. He's The One.

That's the image.

Case 2: Sarah Palin
As a governor, she bucks corruption within her own party, and makes a deal with Big Oil to put money back into Alaskans' pockets. So...I rather like the idea of a governor protecting her state's assets this way. We all know corporations are going to exploit what they can where they can. Most governors take a payoff and turn a blind eye, because hey, it provides jobs, and we'll deal with the environment one day. No, she got that company to pay the citizens of Alaska for the right to exploit their assets. Smart.

She fights smears against her family, stands up to liberal media Boyz (aka, Letterman), works across party lines to get things done in Alaska, and had an off-the-charts approval rating. She's appointed a pro-choice judge to the Alaskan Supreme Court, thus showing that her personal politics don't get in the way of who she thinks is best for the job.

Her image is that of a weak, know-nothing, barbie-doll that can't form complete sentences. But is it weak to tell the press off when they're basically doing the British tabloid dance of making up news, or pitching gossip as 'news', or hunting celebrities, even political ones, to death?

The media has this sort of laissez faire love affair with Obama. Praise him, worship him, assume that he is The One, question nothing, and everything will be heaven soon. With her, they assumed a witch-hunt stance from the get-go, and nothing she does, no matter how innovative, tough (such as standing up to them and calling them on their crap) can ever be seen as anything other than 'she's a stupid cunt'.

She seems to have achieved the feminist dream of 'having it all, baby'. She's got a family, a gorgeous supportive hubby, and she looks good. She's a kind of embodiment of the feminism that first existed on TV in the 70's, with Charlie's Angels and Police Woman. These were women who looked hot, kicked butt, and lived life on their terms. For some reason, because Palin was this kind of woman, feminists went into mental vomit spasms across the country. Not all, certainly. But the ones most often open-minded to Palin were the same ones shocked at the witch-burning antics aimed at one extremely bright and talented woman who also had ambitions of national office: Hillary Clinton. You can find these feminists at sights like Reclusive Leftist, the Confluence, and No Quarter. For those feminists, Palin was a woman to be supported as an empowered woman, not as a pro-lifer, or Republican. The details of political position didn't matter. These feminists got it that we need to actually get to the place where Republican women can argue with Democratic women because they are both competing on the same stage for the presidency. Right now, women can't even get on that stage to compete, and it doesn't matter what party they're in. But for the vast majority of feminists, Palin was the Anti-Christ to Obama's Messiah figure, and they constructed an image and narrative so strong that even Tina Fey lines (I can see Alaska from my backyard) began to be attributed to Palin, and couldn't be disputed, no matter that an actress playing Palin had said them, and not the woman herself.

The image being constructed of Palin became more important and real than the actual Palin herself.

She speaks like a real American to real Americans, lives a kind of embodied survivalist Alaskan life to the extent that she hunts and eats what she skills, and doesn't bother with trying to sound clever, or pretend she has all the answers. So we have to spin this to cleave to the image of bimbo, carribou barbie, and ignoramus.

Do you see how this works? No matter what Obama does, he is Enlightened, The One, The Savior Who Will Fix Everything. The man could jerk off in public and people would find some way to say he was spreading holy seed or something.

No matter what Palin does, she is the Anti-Christ, the Anti-Feminist, the Ignoramus, the Ditz, The Bimbo You'd Like to Hate-Fuck, and the family values bitch that can't manage a family. She could be running the most prosperous well managed-state in the Union, adopt little black babies aka Madonna and Angelina, attain a PhD, win a Nobel Prize....and she'd still be a Cunt. The image is more powerful than the reality.

In short, I feel that we are in a major decline in Patriarchal organization, with Obama becoming the new God-image, while witch-burnings for Palin (and Clinton and Ferraro before her), are the new norm for politically ambitious women. The intent is clear. The methodology is to craft an image for men that exalts them, and an image for women that renders them incapable of being human. These constructed images completely eclipse the truth of the woman Palin is, and how she really does represent a new kind of politics, including stepping out of her office because the media is so busy doing hit jobs on her, and throwing mud at her and her state, that she doesn't feel she needs to put her family or her state through it any longer. The image of her as bimbo carribou barbie has completely supplanted the reality of the woman she actually is.

Obama and Palin are inverse mirror images of each other, with her living the reality of a new kind of politics and being damned for it, and him speaking the fantasy of the new kind of politics, and being hailed as actually embodying it...even though he is actually a very old-style Chicago politician. In both cases, the greater audience is not perceiving the truth, but is content on letting the images stand as reality. In fact, the image has become more real...than...the reality of either Obama or Palin.

Believing in the image is the cultural norm, and so it becomes very easy to manipulate the image to achieve one's ends, to put propaganda practices into play, and control people. Or attempt to annihilate them, as was done to Clinton and Palin.

This is bigger than just feminism, or women in politics, though the key to seeing how images supplant reality is easily done just by using the particular lens of what happens to women in national politics versus men. I think we'd better wake up soon to how much our image-celebrity culture could be masking some very dangerous activities, because the people behind the image can move about undetected, in Obama's case, or scrutinized and beaten down, in Palin's case.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sarkozy, the burqa, and insanity

So Sarkozy, president of France, says the burqa is not welcome in French territory. I find it interesting to note the reactions around the world, from the BBC to Feministing.

Not all of them make a whole lot of sense. So let's look at it.

First, there's the white American feminist argument that Sarkozy is actually restricting women by telling them what they can't wear, in outlawing the burqa. That he is in fact acting as the anti-feminist. Many feminists have been quick to defend Islam, and its religious practices that dictate the wearing of the burqa. They say that his outlawing of the burqa amounts to telling these women they can't practice their religion, and this restricts them.

BUT WAIT...the burqa is not actually part of Islam. Rather like cliterodectomies, the burqa is not mentioned anywhere in the Qu'ran, but is actually an Afghanistani Taliban practice to restrict and oppress women, which has then spread to other countries. In short, it's a tribal practice that has been used by mullahs to oppress women. In the Qu'ran there are sayings that women should cover their hair and breasts so as not to tempt men (for implied here is that men cannot control themselves, so women have to help them out). But the burqa itself is not mentioned, nor is it written that women must cover themselves from head to toe. That is a tribal practice that gained foothold, and in the eyes of some naive western feminists, now, legitmacy. Interesting that feminists would choose to see it this way, but it is more likely that they haven't done their religious studies homework. In alignment with their uninformed argument, some Muslim women will indeed defend their right to wear the burqa as part of their religion, but this is because they now believe it is part of their religion. In short, they've bought the brainwashing that it is part of Islam.

Score one for Sarkozy...

BUT WAIT...isn't France a secular country? Doesn't that mean that they don't care about religion, and should be tolerant of it? Uh, no, that's an American idea. France is indeed secular, but their idea is not separation of church and state so that religion is left to do as it pleases without interference from the government. Their idea is to restrict religion to not meddle with the state - a rather different stance. And since the large Muslim immigration has come into France, leaving them with now 5 million Muslims, they've had to make accommodations all over the place. France is French, and if you don't like their ways, let me suggest you not go there, and certainly as an American, try to resist impinging your notions of how it ought to work on them. One would think after Vietnam, El Salvador, Afganistan, Iraq, and Somalia, Americans might wake up to the notion that the rest of the world isn't all that welcome to American notions of how it ought to be working. So if Muslims want to emigrate to France, then they must do as the French do, or find some other more suitable place to emigrate. It's only Americans, and to a lesser extent, Brits, that have decided to accommodate everything and anything in the name of tolerance and freedom. Not everyone is that way, and the French have the right to run their country in the manner they see fit, as long as they don't do something crazy, like invade Poland or something. Dictating what they will and won't tolerate in terms of religious practices and laws IS their prerogative. For the record, they've had problems with Muslims stoning women to death in French neighborhoods, against French law, because the girl was raped, which is Islamic law (again, not really. Mohummed was particularly aghast at the notion of Arabs burying infant daughters alive. It's hard to imagine he'd be gung-ho for stoning of women). The French also do not permit wearing of religious iconery in schools, and they don't care which religion. They're secular, remember? That's not embracing of religion. Secular means religion does not interfere with the business of the state. The French have probably been too tolerant for too long, and are now putting their foot down.

Score two for Sarkozy...

BUT WAIT...isn't telling women what they can't wear just as sexist / oppressive as telling them what they MUST wear? In outlawing the burqa, hasn't Sarkozy taken up the same sword, albeit on the opposite side of the field, as the mullahs who dictate women must wear the burqa? Well, you can choose to frame it that way, just as you can choose to say that American women are required to dress sexy to get jobs in entertainment, and isn't this the same thing? Sarkozy has said he sees that burqa as a sign of repression, and he's not standing for it in France. Now if he wants to stop models wearing underwear to sell perfume, I think he'd be in for a tougher fight.

BUT WAIT...didn't he do this to appease the French Nationalists, who are right-leaning, anti-immigrant, while he's got a somewhat low popularity rating? Isn't this pandering? Probably. In that regard, the feminist argument above disappears and is replaced by a racist / nationalist one. But even so, it's still their country, and he's still their elected leader. Look at it like this: would you go to Saudi Arabia and demand to not wear a hair scarf, as a woman? If this affronts you, and it's the law of their land, then don't go there. But don't show up and start telling them how to run things.

BUT more. I am glad Sarkozy made this move. I think it took chutzpah, frankly. And it's about time someone started standing up for Muslim women, even if feminists don't see it that way.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Judgment from...liberals...and leaving the tribe

I have been noticing a trend for some time, and it's disturbing to me. While once upon a time I would have enthusiastically agreed that conservatives and Republicans had the monopoly on casting judgment on everyone, I am now seeing a brand of it from liberals that is...frightening. I saw it last year, as a Hillary supporter, when every Obama-bot out there suddenly accused me of racism for not supporting the One.

Well, I am no racist, and I did not support the One, and still don't. I thought Hillary was better qualified, and ready for the job.

Imagine how surprised I was to be called a dried up vagina and racist for having these thoughts.

And this, from my liberal brethren and sisterhood.


It seems to be well known in history that whenever an oppressed group overthrows the oppressor, they can often become the new oppressors, and every bit as mean and corrupt as the people they've just overthrown. After a long yucky 8 year stretch of W and Cheney, it seems liberals knew their time for power was at hand. Rather than trot out the traditional liberal values of open-mindedness and tolerance, it seems a large faction of the group had decided to rip out pages from the Republican playbook, and use them on their own. The message: conform, or be cast aside.

Across the sphere of left blogistan, I see repeated posts from supposedly open-minded liberals (of which I considered myself a card-carrying member) damning and judging others. Now, sometimes this is as mundane as the Letterman - Palin scuffle, where Letterman went pretty crass and misogynistic, hitting out at Palin's kid. Regardless of which one he aimed for, a message of young girls getting knocked up by philandering A-Rod is really ugly. She called him on it, and he sort of apologized. But the reaction to the story was what intrigued me. There was this idea that because Palin was a Republican, or failed candidate, or ex-beauty queen, or whatever your problem with her is, she DESERVES this, and therefore he had total carte blanche to make jokes about her and her kids that would have been greeted with calls for his resignation had he made them about Michelle Obama and her kids.

There is this idea, then, in liberal open-mindedness land, that it's ok to be misogynistic and hateful to some women. NOW came to Palin's defense, but have been conspicuously absent when liberals showed up at Palin rallies wearing "Palin is a cunt' t-shirts. So it's ok to be misogynistic some of the time, just not all the time.

Who can navigate waters like these?

I have been told by feminists that they don't really care that women of color aren't embracing the movement because they feel that an anchorstone of feminism is hating men, and given that women of color have long watched their men suffer racism, they're not into joining forces in throwing yet more hate on them. This has created an uneasy solution of supporting the NAACP even when it is openly sexist to advance the conditions of the race as a whole. Women of color often tell me that they don't feel feminists speak for them, or to them, because they often encounter racism, sexism, and classism all at once. It's hard to take a stand just against the sexism when these other things are also in operation, and it's hard to make that stand against the men they are trying to help advance.

To which feminists respond: so what? the NAACP hasn't helped our cause, neither have gay organizations, but they expect us to stand with them. It's sisterhood or nothing.

Except suddenly I don't feel like much of a sister. Feminists backed Obama over Clinton, which felt wrong to me. Feminists say that if you're not pro-choice, you can't be feminist. But I like Sarah Palin as a self-made woman, political positions aside. I like her resume: governor, popular, prosperous state, taking on the boyz in her party and winning, having a family (that was her choice), and a stay-at-home hubbie. Sure she has problems - try raising a daughter in this age and not have problems. But I liked the kind of woman she'd turned out to be: self-possessed, on top of her game, and doing things I'd like to be doing, like running a state. But my liberal sisters were aghast at her, yet I thought women like her was what feminism was all about creating. I'd love to get to the day when we have women openly debating positions as men now do, because on that day, there'd be enough women in office that we could move beyond denigrating them as women, and let them argue their positions as candidates.

This is not what we've achieved. Within feminism, you can only like certain kinds of women. I don't agree with this. I thought feminism was about supporting ALL women, not just the ones who look and talk like you do.

I was starting to see the turnoff for women of color.

I am turned off myself.

The commentors on the Palin story not only felt she deserved it, but Dave had the right to do it, must NOT apologize, and Palin should take it and disappear. Like a good girl. Run along now.

What feminist would stand for that? Isn't that misogyny, whether a man does it, a woman does it, or a feminist liberal does it?

I got told, on a feminist site, that I was a racist and sexist because I didn't agree that categorically, across the US, there are just so many forced sex incidents and forced pregnancy incidents that we've got to mobilize. Where exactly was this happening? It seemed to me that anyone could go to a drugstore and buy spermicide for like $10 for 12 doses, and protect themselves. It seemed to me that women aren't, en masse, forced into sex and therefore pregnancy. Does it happen? I am sure that it does. Just not to all women, everywhere, all the time.

And for this I was called a traitor to the cause, a pro-life anti-choice female. Me, who had an abortion at 18. I was told I needed to read feminism 101 and I was pointed to an article that had unproven statistics that poor women of color are the most teen pregnancies because they are exposed to so much violence because they're poor women of color.

That seemed to me to be pretty darned racist, but oh, wait, if a liberal feminist says it, it's not, and is in fact The Truth and dares not be questioned.

Is all this judgment, pouncing, and hurling insults at each other a product of reality TV? I don't watch TV, but I get the impression that in reality TV, you tune into people who've been artificially placed into a situation, like surviving on a desert island, or receiving marriage proposals over a 12 week period while trying to decide on one, and watch what they do in reaction. As this fishbowl exercise progresses, you make opinions and judgments about why they do what they do.

Is this training just morphing straight over into the blog infotainment sphere, where anonymous posters feel free to condemn anything they like, out of context, and with no backstory? Is this the Twitter culture where nothing has any background or meaning, but everything's fair game?

I don't know, but I've had enough.

Evicted from the Democratic party, from liberalism, and now from feminism, I am leaving the tribe. Not having to care about identity, causes, and groupthink any longer is quite liberating. I've decided not to take up anyone else's banner, but instead to live my ideals as an empowered, free-thinking, self-determined woman. Have I encountered sexism, racism, and other forms of oppression? You bet. But I hit them head on, and refuse to take stuff lying down. That's how you fight this, one person at a time.

But as for trying to fit into someone else's labels of what I SHOULD be like, forget it.

Those Nice Credit Card Companies...NOT!

I watched a commercial from Bank of America last night. They had loads of soft, nice, warm 'employees' whose only concern is to listen to their customers, understand their situation and how they got into (aka, why they can't pay their credit card bill) and try to counsel them, try to help them work through a better arrangement with the big warm fuzzy credit card company, who cares so deeply about their problems.

This was in stark contrast to the phone call I received from Bank of America. I made a decision in February to stop paying these bastards $200 a month on a a $7000 debt that never seems to go down, despite the fact that I've not charged anything to BOA for 3 years. The reason the debt never goes down? That 21% interest rate that friendly BOA charges because it cares so much for its customers. About a year ago, when credit markets started tightening up, many credit card companies arbitrarily raised the rates on customers who were carrying a little too much debt. This was done to protect the bank's interests because such customers were a little higher risk in a tightening market. Does this make any sense at all? People who are already maxed out, and paying regularly, get punished with a rising rate because the bank is sweating a little.

I decided to stop paying because when I add up all I had paid to BOA, I had paid off the debt, and then some, but rising interest rates made the debt go higher, while my $200 payment sent about $11 to the principal every month. Hmmm. As an unemployed single mom, I decided that I would have to spread my meager unemployment check on rent and food, and darn everything else.

So BOA called me, of course, to find out when I would pay. Rather than warm fuzzy counseling, I received a hostile question of could I at least make $233 now? Let me do the math: unemployment = $1800 per month. Rent, utilities, and food = $2400 per month. $600 deficit left over, which is coming out of savings. So, no, given the ugly job market and zero prospects at this time, I can't justify pulling money out of my IRA to pay BOA. That money is for sheer survival.

Plus, I paid something north of $40,000 in taxes last year to the Feds. In January, BOA received a $20 billion payout, of taxpayer money. PLUS $118 billion in guarantees of bad assets.

As a taxpayer, surely some of my money went to fund that bailout. I will be paying that in taxes for the rest of my life, since the bailout was debt-financed. My daughter will likely be paying for it as well.

So, as a US taxpayer, haven't I more than covered BOA's ass? Shouldn't my tax dollars to bail them out erase my meager debt as an unemployed former consumer?

Haven't we all covered BOA's ass enough?

I pointed that out to my hostile customer service rep, but of course, he wasn't having it.

And then I watch that commercial of how much BOA 'cares' for its customers, and wants to do the right thing by them.

Well then, give me back my tax dollars from your bailout package, apply it to my debt, and we'll call it even.

Not bloody likely.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Can Anyone be a Feminist? Apparently Not...

The answer is more complicated than you think. It depends on what CAMP of feminism you want to belong to. Feminism is very fractured as a movement, and does not mean the same thing to the same people within the movement, never mind how loaded the term 'feminism' is to people outside the movement. Lately, I have been writing a lot on feminism, making films about feminism, and thinking a lot about it. But according to the Reclusive Leftist site, even I am not a feminist. Why? Because I don't get one of the poster's statements about forced pregnancy and sex. Because I didn't get it, and because she didn't explain it, and I pushed it, I became a Neanderthal-knuckle-dragging-Republican-Buttlick, or something of that ilk.

So no, not anyone can be a feminist, depending on who you're talking to, even if you've been a feminist your whole conscious life, and have advocated for it. So let's survey the field a little, and maybe you'll recognize the tribe of feminists you've been talking to, and see whether or not they'd let you join.

1. Second Wavers -
Theme Song: I am Woman, Hear Me Roar.
Persona identified: Hillary Clinton.
Motto: Equal Rights for Women NOW! Over-arching themes: equal pay amendment, pro-choice movement, advancement of women at work and in politics, mostly baby-boomers.

How outsiders see them: dried up vaginas (Obama Boyz), irrelevant, pantsuits-wearing masculine wannabes, bra-burners, lesbians and dykes only, and rabid.

Arch-nemisis: Sarah Palin, and third wavers. Sarah Palin because she's pro-life, hot, has a family, and a stay-at-home husband...which are the things a lot of women want. Hell, I wanted them. But she's a Republican, damn it! How did a Republican achieve the Feminist dream without sighing up to be a liberal feminist??? She's The Enemy. Third wavers suck because they are ungrateful brats who don't respect what their elder feminists did for them, and have mostly pissed the legacy away.

2. Third wavers -
Theme Song: My Hump, by the Black-Eyed Peas.
Persona identified: Madonna, Brittney Spears, or any sexy thing who achieves equality by shaking her butt in front of the camera, thus proving she is as in-charge of her sexuality as men.

Motto: We can pick on women as much as the men! It's our right as equals to men! But we still love Boyz.

Over-arching themes: navel gazing, boyz, Obama-girrl, fitting into hip hop culture and then saying how great it is that rap songs call us all ho's and bitches. Calling each other ho's and bitches. Seeing second wavers as old and irrelevant.

How outsiders see them: (men) hey this is great! Women who can prove they like sex as much as men! (women) hey this is great! Now we can be bitches and ho's. Who cares about that equality thing? Pro-life / pro-choice debating is sooo...boring. Just take birth control already! Then you can have all the sex you want! Let me twitter...

Arch nemesis: Hillary Clinton (I'm not going to support a woman for higher office just BECAUSE she's a woman), and Sarah Palin, because she's hot, got it all going on, became a successful governor, and she's a (gasp!) rotten pro-life Republican! Vile creature! Hang her in effigy!

Fourth wavers:
Theme Song: don't have one yet, but would combine something like 'can't we all get along?' with ''searching for my purpose'. This movement is trying to get off the ground in the wake of Hillary Clinton's sabotaged run last year. Some 4th wavers came to Palin's side against the sexism. Some 4th wavers feel the fight for abortion is still on, and they're violent about it. Some 4th wavers want to be 4th wavers but aren't sure because they fear that once it becomes known they're conservative, or pro-life, they'll be kicked in the teeth and ejected to the curb.

They will.

How they look to others: can't see 'em yet because they're lost in 3rd and 2nd wave hoopla. Worse, they can't agree on what 4th wave is. And most people out of any wave are standing around, wondering when and if feminism will ever talk to them, instead of shouting them down.

So there you have it.