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.

Wow.

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.