Tag Archives: Feministing

Talkin’ Bout South Dakota House Bill 1171

Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones:

A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of “justifiable homicide” to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus—a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions. The Republican-backed legislation, House Bill 1171, has passed out of committee on a nine-to-three party-line vote, and is expected to face a floor vote in the state’s GOP-dominated House of Representatives soon.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Phil Jensen, a committed foe of abortion rights, alters the state’s legal definition of justifiable homicide by adding language stating that a homicide is permissible if committed by a person “while resisting an attempt to harm” that person’s unborn child or the unborn child of that person’s spouse, partner, parent, or child. If the bill passes, it could in theory allow a woman’s father, mother, son, daughter, or husband to kill anyone who tried to provide that woman an abortion—even if she wanted one.

Greg Sargent:

I just had a spirited conversation with the bill’s chief sponsor, State Representative Phil Jensen, and he defended the bill, arguing that it would not legalize the killing of abortion doctors.

“It would if abortion was illegal,” he told me. “This code only deals with illegal acts. Abortion is legal in this country. This has nothing to do with abortion.”

Jensen’s defense of the bill, however, is unlikely to make abortion rights advocates any happier, since he seemed to dismiss as irrelevant the possibility that the measure could inflame anti-abortion fanatics to violence.

Jensen insisted that the bill’s primary goal is to bring “consistency” to South Dakota criminal code, which already allows people who commit crimes that result in the death of fetuses to be charged with manslaughter. The new measure expands the state’s definition of “justifiable homicide” by adding a clause applying it to someone who is “resisting any attempt” to murder of an unborn child or to harm an unborn child in a way likely to result in its death.

When I asked Jensen what the purpose of the law was, if its target isn’t abortion providers, he provided the following example:

“Say an ex-boyfriend who happens to be father of a baby doesn’t want to pay child support for the next 18 years, and he beats on his ex-girfriend’s abdomen in trying to abort her baby. If she did kill him, it would be justified. She is resisting an effort to murder her unborn child.”

Pushed on whether the new measure could inflame the unhinged to kill abortion doctors, as some critics allege, Jensen scoffed. “You can fantasize all you want, but this is pretty clear cut,” he said. “Never say never, but if some loony did what you’re suggesting, then this law wouldn’t apply to them. It wouldn’t be justifiable homicide.”

Asked whether he was conceding that the law could conceivably encourage such behavior, Jensen pushed back: “You could cross the street and get hit by a car. Could happen, couldn’t it?”

David Weigel:

This is how Jensen has previously characterized it; as Sheppard pointed out, the state’s criminal code does does define murder in the first degree as “perpetrated without authority of law and with a premeditated design to effect the death of the person killed or of any other human being, including an unborn child.” But there’s that “authority of law” part. It’s legal to perform abortions. And this is why the Jensen bill wouldn’t legalize the killing of abortion doctors. It just looks like it does, right now. It would legalize of abortion doctors if abortion became illegal.

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs

Miriam Perez at Feministing:

It’s clear this bill likely has the goal of inciting violence–murder–of abortion providers. But I think this logic can actually be taken a step further, to include the murder of a pregnant woman herself.

Often one connection between anti-choice legislation that isn’t talked about is how it affects the rights of pregnant women who do want to parent. I’m talking about the rights of pregnant women to decide what kind of medical treatment they will seek–and not necessarily abortion.

There is an incredible battle going on around the country about the rights of pregnant women to refuse certain types of medical care (as the rest of us are legally entitled to do). In numerous cases, women have been forced against their will to have c-sections or other medical procedures in the name of the protecting the fetus.

This proposed legislation takes that logic to it’s extreme–not only is it okay to super-cede the autonomy and rights of pregnant women in the name of the fetus–you could actually justifiably murder her in pursuit of this as well. In addition, of course, to doctors performing perfectly legal and constitutionally protected abortions.

Amanda Marcotte:

You can smell the rationalization built in to say this isn’t about terrorism, because most people who have successfully killed abortion providers didn’t actually know any patients of theirs.  But obviously, it’s an invitation to kill abortion providers, especially in light of how much the larger anti-choice movement is trying to encourage men who are bitter because an abortion allowed a girlfriend to leave them. In other words, men who are angry because they couldn’t trap a woman with pregnancy.  Let’s be clear that any man who thinks it’s appropriate to trap a woman with pregnancy is a man who deserves to lose his relationship, full stop, but anti-choicers tend to romanticize and celebrate controlling, abusive men. I’ve seen anti-choice websites encourage men who’ve impregnated women to stomp into abortion clinics and try to remove her forcibly (though this is often portrayed in romantic terms, because hey, you’re showing her that you want to keep her around, and any woman should be slobberingly grateful that a man will have her). And of course, there’s the oldie-but-a-goodie of Jill Stanek applauding men beating women to punish them for thinking they can say no to incubating the manly seed. After describing the scene in “Godfather II” where Michael Corleone—a cold-blooded murdering gangster—slaps his wife after she admits an abortion, Stanek said (man, this never gets old):

That spontaneous slap was the reaction of a real man who a woman had just told she aborted his baby. Compare that to the modern day cowardly male response, “It’s your choice. Whatever you decide, I’ll support you.”

Straight from the “pro-life” mouth: Real men use violence to control women.  Cowards believe women own themselves.

In the real world, it’s not unknown for abortion clinics to have to go to great lengths to keep domestic abusers from harming their partners or the health professionals in a clinic trying to provide abortions.  Many abortion clinics just don’t let male partners past the waiting room, even though that means that women who want support from loving male partners often have to go it alone.  It’s just a safety precaution, though.  Unfortunately, domestic abusers are just the sorts to wait until the procedure is about to start to start throwing shit and breaking things, in order to get the maximum impact on the victim.  That’s kind of how these things work, and clinics have to work around that.

If this bill passes into law, a wife beater whose wife is trying to abort for the entirely sensible reason that you don’t want babies with a batterer could walk into a clinic, shoot the doctor to prevent the abortion, and plead justifiable homicide, with the blessing of the South Dakota legislature and presumably the anti-choice movement that lobbied them.

Steve Benen:

For all the ridiculous paranoia on the right about creeping “sharia law,” here we see a Republican plan at the state level to make it legal to assassinate medical professionals as part of a larger culture war.

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Filed under Abortion, Legislation Pending

The Party Of No?

Nick Baumann at Mother Jones:

Rape is only really rape if it involves force. So says the new House Republican majority as it now moves to change abortion law.

For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.

With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to “forcible rape.” This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion. (Smith’s spokesman did not respond to a call and an email requesting comment.)

John Cole:

I’m curious if Conor F. will call me shrill or over the top or accuse me of using vile rhetoric if I point out that this makes the GOP objectively pro-rape, to borrow some warblogger terminology from years gone by. That’s right, ladies- the only way you are allowed any say in a pregnancy resulting from rape is if the rapist roughed you up a bit. Otherwise, the fetus rules

Jim Newell at Gawker:

The fact that “forcible rape” has no real meaning as a federal legal term makes this all the more obnoxious.

Oh, and what about the incest exception? “As for the incest exception, the bill would only allow federally funded abortions if the woman is under 18.” You figure out the rationale on that one.

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs

Vanessa Valenti at Feministing:

So what’s your damage, guys? Boehner? Smith? Because all this does is make it all the more obvious of exactly how anti-woman your agenda is. Shame on you all.

James Joyner:

While I’m rather queasy about the whole thing, but am not convinced it’s as bad as all that.

First, as Benen acknowledges, this is simply a sop to the social conservative base.  It has zero chance of being passed into law, given that it’s not going to make it through the Senate, much less with enough votes to secure an override of President Obama’s inevitable veto.

Second, the rape exception was never logical but rather a concession to an emotional issue.  That is, if one believes a fetus at a given stage of development is a human life worthy of protection by law, the events leading to the pregnancy are irrelevant.  We don’t, after all, countenance the murder of post-birth children conceived pursuant to rape. But the idea that a woman should be forced to bear the emotional trauma of carrying a constant reminder of a violent, awful crime for nine months — and then be forced to either look at the child every day or bear the alternative trauma of giving up the baby — is just so emotionally wrenching that we’ve carved out an exception.  The fact that rape cases account for an infinitesimal fraction of abortions in this country also helps.

But does this really hold in the case of a statutory rape which, despite the name, frequently isn’t really a rape at all?   Again, this is a queasy subject.   We can all agree that a 9-year-old lacks the emotional maturity to give meaningful consent to sex with an adult and that an adult who violates a child is a rapist.   But we’ve raised the bar on childhood in recent years, extending it well into puberty. Within living memory, it was common, at least in rural areas, for girls to marry and start having children in early puberty.  Generally, with men significantly older than they were. Now, though, most states make it a crime for a 19-year-old to have consensual sex with their 16-year-old girlfriend.

Is a pregnancy arising from that circumstance really comparable to one arising from being jumped in a dark ally by a stranger and violated under threat of death?  Really?

But here’s the thing:  the sponsors of this bill aren’t proposing that we do away with statutory rape laws.  Indeed, they’re in common cause with those who made and enforce those laws. So, they’re in the bizarre position of both supporting the criminalization of teenage sex and yet arguing that the girl who the law says lacks maturity to consent to sex nonetheless has the maturity to have a child arising from said sex.

Furthermore, they’re undermining their own case here.   Abortion is already legal under most circumstances in America, a position that’s not going to change.  And government funding for abortion has been withheld almost as long; that’s also not going to change.    So, why attempt to move the bar ever-so-slightly in a direction that most Americans — including your core supporters — are going to find uncomfortable?   Especially when you know damned well that you can’t actually succeed?

Steve Benen:

In all likelihood, this bill, like the ACA repeal measure, wouldn’t stand much of a chance in the Senate, and would surely draw White House opposition.

But the fact that the bill actually reflects Republican priorities, and will almost certainly pass the House with overwhelming GOP support, speaks volumes.

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Filed under Abortion, Crime, Legislation Pending

The Murder Of Brisenia Flores

Will Bunch at Media Matters:

All of America continues to mourn the unbelievably tragic loss of Christina Green, the 9-year-old granddaughter of former Phillies’ manager Dallas Green who was killed, along with five adults, by a murderous madman trying to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson. The sight of Christina’s parents and brother in the gallery at the State of the Union address last night is more proof that the killing of such an innocent continues to resonate with the American people.

You’ve heard all about Christina Green, but do you know about Brisenia Flores? Like Christina, Brisenia was 9 years old, and she also lived in Pima County, Arizona, not far from Tucson. Like Christina, she was gunned down in cold blood by killers with strange ideas about society and politics.

But there are also important differences. While the seriously warped mind of Christina’s Tucson murderer, Jared Lee Loughner, is a muddled mess, the motives of one of Brisenia’s alleged killers– a woman named Shawna Forde — are pretty clear: She saw herself as the leader of an armed movement against undocumented immigrants, an idea that was energized by her exposure to the then-brand-new Tea Party Movement. But unlike the horrific spree that took Christina’s life, the political murder of Brisenia and her dad (while Brisenia’s mom survived only by pretending to be dead) has only received very sporadic coverage in the national media. That’s a shame, because it’s an important story that illustrates the potential for senseless violence when hateful rhetoric on the right — in this case about undocumented immigrants — falls on the ears of the unhinged.

This week, Forde is on trial on Tucson, and the details are horrific:

As her mother tells it, 9-year-old Brisenia Flores had begged the border vigilantes who had just broken into her house, “Please don’t shoot me.”

But they did — in the face at point-blank range, prosecutors allege, as Brisenia’s father sat dead on the couch and her mother lay on the floor, pretending that she too had been killed in the gunfire.

Why did Forde, said to be the “mastermind,” and the other alleged killer, Jason Bush, carry out this heinous crime? Prosecutors allege that Forde cooked up a scheme to rob and murder drug dealers, all to raise money for the fledgling, anti-immigrant border patrolling group called Minutemen American Defense, or MAD.

Terry Greene Sterling at Daily Beast:

The murders in Arivaca, a tiny community about 11 miles north of the Mexican border, were followed nearly a year later by the still unsolved killing of southern Arizona rancher Robert Krentz, which was widely blamed on a faceless Mexican narco in the country illegally. But whereas the Flores murders received brief press attention and then were largely forgotten, Krentz’s killing set off a national cry for beefed-up border security and fueled the passage of Arizona’s notorious immigration law, which makes it a state crime for unauthorized immigrants to set foot there and requires all Arizona cops to enforce immigration law, a task normally delegated to the feds.

Latinos are still waiting for similar outrage over the deaths of Brisenia Flores and her dad. “A prevalent impression by those in the Hispanic community concerned with the Shawna Forde case is that, despite the fact that an innocent child was murdered, public condemnation of this senseless act has not been forthcoming,” Salvador Ongaro, a Phoenix lawyer and member of Los Abogados, Arizona’s Hispanic bar association, said in an email to The Daily Beast.

Phoenix-based radio talk-show host Carlos Galindo says he has reminded his listeners of Brisenia Flores “on a regular basis at least two or three times a week” since the murders occurred. He criticizes Latino leaders for failing to voice sufficient outrage. “This was a horrible, tragic, and absolutely race-based coldblooded murder,” he says, “and we allowed the far right to muddy it up and say her dad was a drug dealer and Brisenia was collateral damage. When we don’t counter that, we allow continued violence against all Arizonans.”

Joe Coscarelli at The Village Voice:

For more details on the trial, read At the Courthouse. Meanwhile, a search of the New York Times website for “Brisenia Flores” yields zero results; CNN.com last covered the story in June of 2009.

Maya at Feministing:

Maybe it’s because the victims of this crime were Latino. Or because the story doesn’t square with the conservative narrative that Minutemen are just like a “neighborhood watch.” Or because right-wing rhetoric–in this case anti-immigration rhetoric–played such a clear and unequivocal role in this instance of violence.

PJ Tatler on Bunch:

This morning, Will Bunch cries at the senseless death of Brisenia Flores… since they found a way to spin her death as being something they could blame on the Tea Party as well.

It seems rather odd, but somehow, MMFA seems to have missed a much larger story of the arrest of Kermit Gosnell and his staff of ghouls. Gosnell, will be placed on trial for drug dealing and at least eight murders. He is thought to have taken the lives of hundreds of newborn babies, and will go down as one of the most prolific serial killers in American history.

Perhaps they have a blind spot for mass murderers that share their politics.

Mao and Che would be proud.

E.D. Kain:

People like Forde and Bush are life-long losers, criminals, racists. Forde has an erratic past and was described as unstable. Bush has ties to the Aryan Nation. These are scummy people, and they’d be scummy people without Glenn Beck or the Tea Party. But having a cause based on fear and hatred and bigotry just fuels these sorts of bigots. It gives them a moral edifice, however bizarre, to justify their actions. Murder and theft aren’t crimes – they’re part of the revolution! Gunning down a nine-year-old girl is part of the resistance, it’s patriotic! And Beck and others, including members of the Arizona government, who are fomenting fear and paranoia over immigration are at least partly to blame.

Maybe this is what Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik was talking about in the wake of the Giffords shootings. Maybe he was so quick to denounce heated rhetoric because he’d seen what it had already led to in his county, in his state and his country. It’s not just rhetoric, after all. It’s rallies and talk of revolution. It’s people up in arms, passing laws to get the Mexicans out, and when that fails, arming themselves and taking the vigilante route. And if Brisenia’s story doesn’t break your heart, nothing will.

Doug J.:

I hadn’t hear much about about the murder of Brisenia Flores and her father until ED’s and mistermix’s posts. That’s no accident, it hasn’t received a lot of media coverage. Neither is the news about the attempted bombing in Spokane.

Over the past few years, we’ve had one major dust-up over two black guys in Philadelphia dressing in “traditional Black Panther garb” and another about the fact Obama has a met a guy who used to be in the Weathermen. I guess the idea is that the political violence of the 60s, often associated with the left (rightly or wrongly) was so awful that we can never forget it, which is strange given that we are ignoring similar levels of political violence, generally associated with the right, today (see Digby).

I realize times have changed, that national media is more diffuse, that nothing as cinematic as the Patty Hearst kidnapping has taken place yet. But it’s still amazing that so many journalists (Joe Klein, for example) is looking for black panthers under his bed, while cheerfully shrugging off today’s political violence as isolated incidents.

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Filed under Crime, Mainstream, Politics

“Don’t Know Why There’s No Sun Up In The Sky”

Aljean Harmetz at NYT:

Lena Horne, who broke new ground for black performers when she signed a long-term contract with a major Hollywood studio and who went on to achieve international fame as a singer, died on Sunday night in Manhattan. She was 92.

Her death, at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, was announced by her son-in-law, Kevin Buckley. She lived in Manhattan. In a message of condolence, President Obama said Ms. Horne had “worked tirelessly to further the cause of justice and equality.”

Ms. Horne first achieved fame in the 1940s, became a nightclub and recording star in the 1950s and made a triumphant return to the spotlight with a one-woman Broadway show in 1981. She might have become a major movie star, but she was born 50 years too early: she languished at MGM for years because of her race, although she was so light-skinned that when she was a child other black children had taunted her, accusing her of having a “white daddy.”

Ms. Horne was stuffed into one “all-star” film musical after another — “Thousands Cheer” (1943), “Broadway Rhythm” (1944), “Two Girls and a Sailor” (1944), “Ziegfeld Follies” (1946), “Words and Music” (1948) — to sing a song or two that, she later recalled, could easily be snipped from the movie when it played in the South, where the idea of an African-American performer in anything but a subservient role in a movie with an otherwise all-white cast was unthinkable.

David Wild at Huffington Post:

Upon hearing the news of Horne’s death, I found myself wanting to read some accounts of this remarkable woman’s life to see how people made sense of her remarkable if stormy American life. I noticed that Lena Horne’s Wikipedia entry — already updated with the date of her death — begins by describing her as “an American singer, actress and dancer.” She was all that, but in her life, she was and meant so much more.

To me, Lena Horne was one of the world’s all-time class acts, a freedom fighter, an original, a radiant beauty, an enduring icon, a brave civil rights advocate and a great lady of standards. Early in her career, before she was blacklisted for her political views, Lena Horne was wrongly pressured to be something that she wasn’t because of the strange racial politics of Hollywood. “I don’t have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I’d become,” Lena Horne once said. “I’m me, and I’m like nobody else.”

She was Lena Horne, and nobody else will ever be like her again.

Mary Curtis at Politics Daily:

“Features chiseled out of marble” – that’s how my father described Lena Horne. He did it so emphatically and so often that we would laugh, the “we” being my siblings and me. The five of us got a kick out of the devoted husband and father having such an obvious crush. I swear his eyes would stare off into the distance each time he said her name.

At first, I didn’t get it. Horne’s stylized, cabaret style left me cold when I would catch an old movie or a TV variety hour. But then I grew up and, as regularly happens, realized Daddy was right.
My dad – who kept up with her career via TV from his dining room throne — wasn’t surprised by the mix of fire and ice in this icon of men of a certain age. (On television’s popular “Sanford and Son,” Redd Foxx’s adoration of Horne was a running theme culminating in a guest appearance by the lady herself that stunned Fred Sanford and his buddies.) African-Americans of Dad’s and Horne’s generation wore their masks in the sometimes hostile world they had to navigate; they had to hold a little of themselves to themselves to keep sane.
My father wasn’t a Metro Goldwyn Mayer star, but he looked like one to me in his alligator shoes and sharp pocket squares. At dances, my mother’s unmarried friends coveted him as a partner. But in second and third jobs as a bartender or waiter, he served those with one-tenth of his dignity – and he did it with a smile.
He loved Horne’s beauty; he understood her fight.
I was lucky enough to see Lena Horne perform, in a revival of “Pal Joey” in the late 1970’s in Los Angeles. She was gorgeous and in great voice.
“I no longer have to be a ‘credit;’ I don’t have to be a ‘symbol’ to anybody,” she is quoted as finally saying. “I don’t have to be a ‘first’ to anybody. I don’t have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I’d become. I’m me, and I’m like nobody else.”
That’s for sure. Though she had been living out of the spotlight for years in New York, I imagine her chiseled features as agelessly beautiful as ever. And if you believe in such things – and I have to confess I do — my dad can at last see his idol up close.

Nell Minnow at Beliefnet:

Ms. Horne was the first African-American to sign a major studio contract, in the 1940’s. It specifically provided that she would never have to play a maid. She started singing at the Cotton Club when she was only sixteen years old. She had major roles in the earliest studio films featuring an all-black cast, “Cabin in the Sky” and “Stormy Weather,” named for her signature song.


Wikipedia notes that she

was never featured in a leading role because of her race and the fact that films featuring her had to be re-edited for showing in states where theaters could not show films with black performers. As a result, most of Horne’s film appearances were stand-alone sequences that had no bearing on the rest of the film, so editing caused no disruption to the storyline; a notable exception was the all-black musical Cabin in the Sky, although one number was cut because it was considered too suggestive by the censors. “Ain’t it the Truth” was the song (and scene) cut before the release of the film Cabin in the Sky. It featured Horne singing “Ain’t it the Truth”, while taking a bubble bath (considered too “risqué” by the film’s executives). This scene and song are featured in the film That’s Entertainment! III (1994) which also featured commentary from Horne on why the scene was deleted prior to the film’s release.And during the Red Scare, she was black-listed and not allowed to appear in films. But she continued to work for civil rights, and refused to perform for segregated audiences. Her example of courage and integrity and her matchless voice will continue to inspire us.

Jos at Feministing:

Horne’s grandmother enrolled her in the NAACP when she was two. She helped Eleanor Roosevelt fight for anti-lynching legislation and supported the rights of Japanese Americans following World War II. She was active in the civil rights movement, speaking and singing at protests and marching for civil rights in the 1960s.

Horne is probably best remembered by folks my age for playing Glinda in “The Wiz” and performances on shows like “Sesame Street” and “The Cosby Show.” But before that she did the hard work of breaking down a lot of barriers for women of color in popular entertainment.

Don Suber:

From a 1990 interview: “The whole thing that made me a star was the war. Of course the black guys couldn’t put Betty Grable’s picture in their footlockers. But they could put mine.”

Stormy weather, indeed.

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Filed under Movies, Race

Alas, This Blog Did Not Win A Pulitzer

Heather Horn at The Atlantic with a round-up

Michael Roston:

The madness is at an end. No longer will the American commentariat need to contemplate the possibility that the National Enquirer would win a Pulitzer Prize for revealing an extra-marital affair carried out by John Edwards. Edwards, a one-term senator who inertiaed his way into a vice presidential nomination in 2004 and then worked in 2007-08 as one of the numerous men standing on stage between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, was hardly a newsworthy character, yet the Enquirer saw fit to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars stalking him and his mistress. Of course, this is the same tabloid that ignored the Jonestown story when they had it, so it goes to show how good their news judgment ever was.

So, lest we get lost on what the Pulitzer Committee didn’t pick, it’s important to look at what they did select: a whole lot of local news.

If the Academy is making a statement about the film business when it votes for the Oscars every year, the Pulitzer Committee must be doing the same thing when it hands out the medals every year. And while previous years have shown a focus on the big picture issues affecting our republic writ large, many of the reporters honored for the 2010 prizes wrote stories that placed a big emphasis on the local impact.

Kathryn Jean Lopez at The Corner:

Congratulations to my friend Kathleen Parker on her Pulitzer.

I know many readers here frequently disagree with her. I do too! I know she has been unfair to conservatives at times. But she has also been open to us. She has a perch at the Washington Post that she has undeniably used to highlight issues and views that wouldn’t otherwise get attention there. Her book, Save the Males, was an example of her talent — a talent that frequently comes through in her Washington Post column. I don’t have to agree with her all (or even most) of the time to appreciate a good bit of her work.

Jessica Valenti at Feministing:

Kathleen Parker, who thinks young women hooking up on college campuses are creating a “mental health crisis” and that women in the military should expect to be raped (because “men resent women because they’ve been forced to pretend that women are equals”) has won a Pulitzer prize for commentary. I think I need a drink.

Matt Welch at Reason:

Conservative-ish columnist-turned conservative-basher Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post is now King of the World, at least for the next year. Which once again proves the axioms that A) noisily changing teams is almost always good short-term career advice in the commentariat, especially if B) you change from Team Red to Team Blue (or at least from Team Red to criticizing Team Red), and if C) that change just so happens to coincide with a shift in the overall political zietgeist. As or more imporantly, however, there’s D): turncoats are often at their most interesting and energetic early on during the Change. Think Arianna Huffington when she was a Shadow Conventioneer, Christopher Hitchens when he was throwing dog poop on the shoes of The Nation, Gary Wills when he turned decisively against Nixon and the National Review.

David Weigel:

For a sample of why she earned it, check out her take on the RNC spending scandal, her analysis of Marco Rubiomana, or her prescient column on the shock retirement of Sarah Palin.

Marc Ambinder:

I’ve got no stake in the matter, but four cheers to the Washington Post for winning four Pulitzer Prizes. It’s a needed shot in the arm for a publication that has lost considerable respect inside the Beltway over the past several years, as top correspondents have fled to other papers and as the editorial brain-trust allowed the paper’s influential status as Washington’s pace-setter to attenuate. For Washington to function properly, we need a functioning, competitive top-flight newspaper. The Washington Times is not that newspaper, and POLITICO plays an entirely different role — it sets metabolic speed and gives us the carbs.  The Post ought to provide us with nourishment — the protein.  Sad to say it, but the New York Times has been the legacy source for authoritative Washington coverage in recent years. (That’s not sad for the Times, of course.)   Here’s hoping that the Pulitzer wins catalyze the paper’s talented staff. Signs that the Post has gotten the message abound: they’re hiring intellectually honest blogger-reporters like Ezra Klein and David Weigel to occupy the increasingly ambiguous space between news and opinion journalism.

Rod Dreher:

I was so delighted to read that three of my former editorial board member colleagues at the Dallas Morning News — Colleen McCain Nelson, Bill McKenzie and Tod Robberson — today won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. The project they won for was an ongoing series of editorials about the persistence of poverty in southern Dallas. It was and is a real labor of love, especially for Sharon Grigsby, the deputy editorial page editor and the heart and soul of the project. Colleen, Bill and Tod will get the prize, deservedly, but both Sharon and editorial page editor Keven Willey deserve honor too. I’m only sorry I can’t be there to buy them all Champagne. Three cheers to you, gang!

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Filed under Mainstream

Strip Clubs Are Always In The News

Julie Bindel at The Guardian:

Iceland is fast becoming a world-leader in feminism. A country with a tiny population of 320,000, it is on the brink of achieving what many considered to be impossible: closing down its sex industry.

While activists in Britain battle on in an attempt to regulate lapdance clubs – the number of which has been growing at an alarming rate during the last decade – Iceland has passed a law that will result in every strip club in the country being shut down. And forget hiring a topless waitress in an attempt to get around the bar: the law, which was passed with no votes against and only two abstentions, will make it illegal for any business to profit from the nudity of its employees.

Even more impressive: the Nordic state is the first country in the world to ban stripping and lapdancing for feminist, rather than religious, reasons. Kolbrún Halldórsdóttir, the politician who first proposed the ban, firmly told the national press on Wednesday: “It is not acceptable that women or people in general are a product to be sold.” When I asked her if she thinks Iceland has become the greatest feminist country in the world, she replied: “It is certainly up there. Mainly as a result of the feminist groups putting pressure on parliamentarians. These women work 24 hours a day, seven days a week with their campaigns and it eventually filters down to all of society.”

The news is a real boost to feminists around the world, showing us that when an entire country unites behind an idea anything can happen. And it is bound to give a shot in the arm to the feminist campaign in the UK against an industry that is both a cause and a consequence of gaping inequality between men and women.

Jill at Feministe:

While I like the idea of sending the message that women’s bodies aren’t for sale, I’m not sure this is the greatest way to do it. It seems less immediately problematic than outlawing paying for sex, primarily because prostitution bans drive sex work underground and put sex workers at risk. I don’t think there’s going to be an epidemic of underground strip clubs (although I’m sure there will be a few underground strip clubs), and I’m not sure that strippers will now face the kinds of immediate dangers that sex workers who sell sexual services negotiate every day.

But: Stripping, for better or worse, is one of the better-paid jobs that low-skilled (and hey, sometimes high-skilled) female workers can get. And no, it’s not a sustainable career, and it’s a job that traffics in discrimination — it’s primarily for the young, the thin, the able-bodied, etc, and once you don’t fit into that framework it’s no longer an option. But it does offer paid work that can be significantly less unpleasant than a lot of other jobs. With so many female workers relegated to a pink-collar work force that revolves around physically and emotionally intensive care work — being an elder care-taker or a nurse’s aid or a childcare worker — I can see how for some women, stripping seems a lot easier and a lot less messy and a lot less difficult and a lot more convenient. Which isn’t to say that stipping is all glitter and fun and empowerful — I’m sure for some women it is, and for most women it isn’t. Like a lot of other jobs. I’d be willing to bet that most strippers strip because it pays pretty well. Removing that option, even if it does send A Message, doesn’t seem like a great victory to me. Because, sure, dudes will be sad that they don’t get to male bond over seeing naked ladies anymore. But the ladies will be the ones who are dead broke because of it.

Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon:

Just last year, Iceland outlawed prostitution, and now it’s squelching “adult entertainment” entirely. (Apparently the near-bankrupt country isn’t buying the pop wisdom that the sex industry is recession-proof.) The politician behind the bill, Kolbrún Halldórsdóttir, explained: “It is not acceptable that women or people in general are a product to be sold.” Johanna Sigurðardottir, Iceland’s prime minister — an openly gay politician, which is a first for a head of government — added: “The Nordic countries are leading the way on women’s equality, recognizing women as equal citizens rather than commodities for sale.”

What most impresses the Guardian’s Julie Bindel is that “the Nordic state is the first country in the world to ban stripping and lapdancing for feminist, rather than religious, reasons.” There is no question that Iceland has impressive feminist cred — nearly half of its lawmakers are ladies — but, forgive me, I’m hesitant to announce it the world’s most “feminist” and “female-friendly” country in response to a law prohibiting women from voluntarily taking off their clothes for money. It may not be a religiously motivated move, but it sure is a dogmatic one.

Andrew Sullivan

Matthew Yglesias:

Ultimately, considering Iceland’s small size and the foreign-born labor force this strikes me as almost more akin to a zoning issue in the United States. There’s no substantial political movement in this country to ban strip clubs, but there are many, many, many tony residential communities in which you’d never be allowed to open one. The general view is that this is a very undesirable business function that should be legal, but “somewhere else.” In a small country like Iceland, that means “in another country.” Bindel posits a sharp dichotomy between feminist-inspired opposition to strip clubs and religious-inspired opposition to strip clubs, but I live across the street from a strip club in a gentrifying neighborhood and the overwhelming sentiment on the condo listserve about it is just a kind of generalized and pre-political bourgeois belief that it would be better if the place became a yoga studio.

KarenM at Firedoglake:

Clearly, if we want to live in a more progressive country, we should be electing more and more women. Granted, some one would probably be Republicans. Yet, I believe Halldórsdóttir when she says that having one third or more of female politicians changes things… and feminist energy begins to take over. Given a critical mass of women in both chambers of congress, would women from either party feel much need for approval from the men in their respective parties? I doubt it. It might take a generation or two, but I think they would be more likely to find some common ground. Women in the GOP mostly do not want to be baby factories, either. Nor, I suspect do GOP women approve of the sex trade in this country… especially considering how many of their husbands make use of it, to such a politically embarrassing effect. Just imagine the relief of so many GOP-influenced women, if they were given a respite from male dominance in nearly every area of their lives.

Miriam at Feministing:

A feminist victory, in my opinion, would be a highly regulated industry that made sure dancer’s rights were protected. One where workers were paid good wages, were able to unionize, had full benefits, were able to set boundaries with customers and have those boundaries protected. One that ensured that these immigrant women were not being brought to Iceland against their will.

A feminist victory would mean access to jobs and economic opportunity that meant women had options other than strip clubs and sex work if they so chose. We know that our current economic situation does not allow all people to have access to economic opportunity, meaning that sex work is not always a “choice.”

But once again, driving the industry underground serves no one, and often harms the workers more than anyone.

So sorry Iceland, I commend you for elevating women to elected office, but this piece of your work is not a victory for my vision of feminism.

UPDATE: Via Sullivan, Rachel Aimee and Katrin Redfern in the Reykjavik Grapevine 

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Life Hands You Lemons, You Cast Tina Fey

Ezra Klein:

It’s an old story: British TV show comes to America and all of its characters are played by much hotter actors. But American television’s terror of putting normal-looking people on screen is most troubling in “30 Rock.” The biggest failing of that show is that they didn’t have the nerve to cast an actually frumpy actress in Liz Lemon’s role. About half the jokes focus on Lemon’s looks, and they’re all undercut when the camera focuses on the slim, beautiful Tina Fey. It’s not quite as offensive as casting a tan white guy in Tracy Morgan’s role but still having lots of black jokes, but it’s similarly jarring.

Chloe Angyal at Feministing:

One of the running themes of Glee is that Rachel, played by Lea Michele, is talented, but annoying, badly dressed and physically unattractive. In other words, they Liz Lemon her. Yeah, I just made that a verb – and it needs to be one, because there’s a lot of Liz Lemoning going on these days.

For those of you who don’t spend an embarrassing amount of your time watching sitcoms on Hulu, Liz Lemonning originates with NBC’s 30 Rock. The most frustrating thing about 30 Rock, an otherwise excellent show, are the constant references to the fact that Tina Fey’s character Liz Lemon is ugly. The thing is, Tina Fey fits conventional standards of female beauty almost to a T. Liz Lemon, like Rachel, is a flawed character, but the constant references to her ugliness are just absurd. And while beauty is of course subjective, these two women absolutely meet our culture’s standard of female beauty: they’re young, white, slim, cis-gendered, well-proportioned and able-bodied, with long shiny hair and smooth skin. They may not be Victoria’s Secret models, and they may have brown hair and glasses, but they certainly still meet society’s standards of female beauty.

Daniel Strauss:

I’ve never seen it this way though. In fact, I’ve really liked that everyone calls Liz Lemon ugly on 30 Rock because she’s so clearly not ugly. For me, the real humor in those insults was not from Liz Lemon but rather the blindness of the people calling her ugly. What kind of mutant do you have to be to not see the beauty that’s so clearly there?

But from the reactions of other people, I think I missed the joke —which I’m happy about.  I always took the insults to be more of a critique of the ridiculous perceptions of beauty in contemporary society. If you think someone who looks like that is ugly, there’s something wrong with you.

Hortense at Jezebel:

Discussions surrounding Fey’s looks are always a bit weird, which I suppose speaks to the fact that, as Irin noted, Fey is often presented as a “relatable sex goddess.” Tina Fey seems to be the type of woman who can admit that her transformation is a bit of a Hollywood Cinderella story while simultaneously calling bullshit on Cinderella stories in general.

But this “relatability” factor causes a weird defense that seems to spring up whenever anyone points out that Fey actually fits into conventional beauty standards: she’s thin, white, glossy hair, always looks glamorous at events, and so on and so forth. People rush to point out that Fey used to be heavier, or that she has a scar, or that she wasn’t always as glamorous as she has appeared over the past six or seven years. It’s almost as if people feel the need to justify the fact that Tina Fey is actually quite traditionally beautiful in the Hollywood sense by attempting to point out the days when she wasn’t.

I’m not exactly sure I agree with Chloe’s post, in that I think Liz Lemon is a character whose self-deprecation speaks more to her internal state than her external one, though I do think the idea of trying to pretend some women are “ugly” simply because other characters on a television show tell them so is a bit tired and played out. Liz Lemon is actually a bit of a step in the right direction, in that her truly “ugly” moments come from poor decision making and selfishness and have very little to do with her looks whatsoever.

It’s the narrative that surrounds Fey off-screen that’s a bit more puzzling: she’s not your typical starlet, sure, but she’s not Marla Hooch, needing “a lot of night games,” either. Fey made fun of herself (allegedly) in a press release wherein she described her Vogue shoot as what it “would be like if Vogue gave your 40-year-old sister-in-law a makeover.” But the makeover happened years ago, and it’s probably time we all just stop acting surprised whenever Fey shows up looking absolutely gorgeous. That should really be the territory of every dumb magazine that can’t get over the fact that yes, women can be smart, funny, and pretty. I know, right? Madness.

Matthew Yglesias:

Obviously, on some level I’m not surprised that professional actors are better-looking than ordinary people. But Hollywood’s reluctance to allow any real range of physical appearance, especially for female characters, seems a bit oddly crippling to me. After all, the fact that some people are better-looking than others is a really important fact of social life. And in principle, it’s something a visual medium like television should be really good at conveying. In a novel, the only way to convey the fact that a character is good-looking is to write that she’s good-looking. On television, in principle, you could convey that information simply by casting someone who’s good-looking and have that be part of the background as the scene unfolds.

But in practice you can’t. You need to be explicitly instructed that “Liz Lemon is ugly” is one of the conceits of the show—this certainly isn’t information you would obtain simply by looking at Tina Fey. Similarly, the fact that Dr Chase is really attractive was a plot-point in a recent House episode. And of course Jesse Spencer has always been a good-looking dude. But given the conventions of television casting that mere fact is insufficient to establish that the Chase character is supposed to be that hot, until it’s explicitly stated in dialogue.

What’s more, the fact that this phenomenon disproportionate affects women winds up having deleterious knock-on consequences. Most of all it means that the path of least resistance to doing compelling drama is to frame a topic in a way that guarantees an overwhelmingly male cast. Do something focused on cops and violent criminals like The Sopranos or The Wire and you can build a world that features a facsimile of human diversity.

James Joyner:

In NBC’s defense, Tina Fey is the creator, head writer, and executive producer for 30 Rock, a show she based on her own experience as the head writer for Saturday Night Live.  And I’ve never gathered that Lemon is supposed to be ugly so much as  a rather ridiculously socially awkward nerd.


The same premise was used for the Sandra Bullock vehicle Miss Congeniality, in which Gracie Hart’s colleagues were simply shocked that, with a little bit of makeup and some attention to her eyebrows, she could be a plausible beauty pageant contestant.   (The fact that Bullock was 35, about a dozen years too old, is another story left cleverly unexplored.)  Also, to a lesser extent, in The Princess Diaries, in which it turns out that Anne Hathaway isn’t particularly bad looking.

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A Court-Martial For Diaper Duty

Teri Weaver at Stars and Stripes:

The Army general commanding U.S. forces in northern Iraq has added pregnancy to the list of prohibitions for personnel under his command.

The policy, which went into effect Nov. 4, makes it possible to face punishment, including a court-martial and jail time, for becoming pregnant or impregnating a servicemember, according to the wording of the policy and confirmations from Army officials.

The rule governs all those serving under Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo III, who commands Multi-National Division-North, including Balad, Kirkuk, Tikrit, Mosul and Samarra. According to the order, it is “applicable to all United States military personnel, and to all civilians, serving with, employed by, or accompanying” the military in northern Iraq, with few exceptions.

Someone would violate the policy by “becoming pregnant, or impregnating a soldier, while assigned to the Task Force Marne (Area of Operations), resulting in the redeployment of the pregnant soldier,” according to the order.

The policy also applies to married couples who are at war together, Army spokesman Maj. Lee Peters told Stars and Stripes in an e-mail message. Both the husband and wife could face punishment under the policy.

Alexa Kolbi-Molinas at Feministing:

The pregnant servicewoman is really the canary in the mine here: Inevitably her pregnancy will be revealed and she will be punished. However, the man who impregnated her will only be punished if she turns him in. Already, according to news reports, one woman who has been punished and sent home under the policy has refused to reveal who her partner was. It is reasonable to think that many more servicewomen will refuse to turn in their fellow soldiers, thereby making this an equal opportunity policy in name only.

Moreover, this policy will eviscerate existing Department of Defense policy that protects the anonymity of sexual assault victims while ensuring that they can get the services they need. Of course, Maj. Gen. Cucolo has stated he won’t punish anyone who becomes pregnant as a result of an assault, but under his policy pregnant assault victims will have to publicly come forward in order to avoid punishment.

If we really want to help servicewomen avoid unplanned pregnancies and maintain military readiness, why don’t we ensure that birth control and emergency contraception are readily available to all servicewomen, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan? Currently, Department of Defense policy does not require that emergency contraception be available (it’s optional); and a recent report by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America suggests that, “due to space,” other common forms of birth control are not always available either.

Jill at Feministe:

I understand not wanting soldiers to get pregnant while in combat zones. I don’t understand court martialing them.

Cassy Fiano at Hot Air:

Well, like most liberals, Jill can’t understand because she has no clue about how the military operates. Men and women who get deployed hump like bunnies when they’re overseas together. Not all of them do, but many of them do. (Heck, they even do it here at Lejeune.) It’s not in any way uncommon for soldiers to be having sex while they’re deployed, which is the entire reason this ban had to be made. And just the act of having sex is fraternization, which is not allowed in the military. It’s not often punished because it doesn’t harm the mission, but if a female soldier has sex with another soldier and gets pregnant, then she is potentially harming the mission. She then has to be sent home, which leaves the unit one man short, and that can be a problem for the unit.

Elise Cooper at FrumForum:

On Nov. 4, Major General Anthony Cuculo issued a general order making pregnancy or fathering a child a court martial offense in his command in northern Iraq. The general’s order has triggered controversy, despite its seeming even application to men and women.

For insight, FrumForum interviewed retired Major Merideth A. Bucher, author of the much cited paper, The Impact of Pregnancy on U.S. Army Readiness.

Bucher explains that a woman who becomes pregnant ceases to be available for combat service. She will be returned home; her unit is left missing a body, a soldier.

She passionately told of her own experience:  Two days before Desert Storm was to begin the female intelligence officer in the Major’s battalion became aware she was pregnant.  Because she could not deploy and was sent home the battalion was left vulnerable by having to fight without an intelligence officer present. By losing one person everyone else has to work that much harder to get the mission accomplished. And when a woman soldier in particular gets pregnant, Bucher argues, “it weakens every female soldier standing as a member of that unit.  If one woman does that it taints the water for everybody.”

New York Times:

The top United States commander in Iraq intends to rescind a policy that had placed pregnant soldiers at risk of discipline.

The commander, Gen. Ray Odierno, has drafted a broad new policy for American forces in Iraq that will take effect Jan. 1 and will not include a pregnancy provision that one of his subordinate commanders enacted last month, the United States military command in Iraq said Thursday.

The news of General Odierno’s order comes about a week after the pregnancy policy issued by Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo set off widespread criticism. General Cucolo had issued a policy that would permit the punishment of soldiers who become pregnant and their sexual partners.

The pregnancy provision was one of a variety of offenses for which General Cucolo said punishments could range from minor discipline to a court-martial.

In a conference call with reporters earlier this week, he said he would never actually seek to jail someone over a pregnancy. General Cucolo said the policy had been intended to emphasize the problems created when pregnant soldiers go home and leave behind a weaker unit.

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Yet Again, We Plunge Into The Murky, Distant Waters Of The Sixties, Only To Find A Shattered Martini Glass And A Couple Lost Souls


Third season premiere was last night.

Slate’s TV round table, TV Club: Talking Television

James Wolcott, here and here. Wolcott:

Monday morning afterthoughts: Upon reflection, I realize how little there is to reflect upon re last night’s episode. No delayed resonances, no psychic residue, only the ray of sunlight in knowing there’s a new Nurse Jackie on tonight. I understand that the mission of a season premiere after a sizable layoff is to reimmerse the viewer in the show’s designer ambiance and cloistral atmosphere (since nearly everything is shot on sets, hermetically sealed in a Sixties container) and to get storylines rolling, but Mad Men tends to get autointoxicated on its darkling moods and the Brit takeover of Sterling Cooper strikes me as a strategic error, adding clutter to the cast and trafficking in transatlantic cliches. What’s the point of even having Robert Morse’s elder sage around now? And why is Peggy dressing as if she’s leading an Easter egg hunt?

I suppose these and other mysteries will go unsolved for several episodes, when more minor mysteries will be introduced, which will also go unsolved.

Rod Dreher

Doug J.

Scott Locklin at Taki’s Magazine:

Mad Men makes the obligatory genuflection at the false god of the counterculture; making dumb nihilist beatniks appear to be somehow in on a secret that the ad men like Draper can’t fathom, when in reality, all they really have on Draper is an inferior drug stash. Booze and smokes, after all, were the background relaxants and cerebral stimulants of America’s greatest years. Booze and smokes split the atom and conquered the moon. Beatnik drugs are responsible for cultural innovations such as teaching second graders how to put a condom on a banana. Real beatniks made the imaginary misogyny of “Mad Men” seem like small beer. One would be hard pressed to find a mainstream 1960s novel as appallingly misogynistic as Jack Kerouac‘s On the Road, which more or less treats women as if they were animated cadavers for the pleasure of the grubbins heroes of that sordid tale. That sort of irony is one of the unspoken tragedies of the mainstreaming of the counter culture. While the cultural revolution of the 1960s claims to have freed women from the sexist chains of their evil white male overlords, women are now “free” … well, to work unpleasant office jobs and to be chased down like pieces of meat. Rather like the situationportrayed in Mad Men, except modern pants-suit-chasing executives aren’t as well dressed as Don Draper, and work isn’t as much fun.  The writer for the series admitted to using countercultural writers of the era: Kerouac, Cheever, and Gurley-Brown as historical source material, apparently in absence of actually knowing anyone who was alive in those days. This isn’t much different from using Father Coughlin broadcasts to learn about the cultural norms of 1930s era Reform Judaism.

Of course, people didn’t behave in the “made for TV” way. For example, while I’m sure there was plenty of sexism and seducing of coworkers in the early 1960s, the extremes portrayed “Mad Men” are historical fiction. I’m pretty sure people were less interested in passing themselves around like trays of tea biscuits in the old days. It seems obvious to me on a number of levels. The practical issues immediately come to mind: birth control pills, widespread social disapproval, the fact that abortion was a serious crime, the fact that adultery was still considered a crime, the fact that family law was completely different in those days: no fault divorce was not granted in any state in America until 1969. Divorce was virtually impossible in many civilized parts of the world of 1961. As for the casual sexism portrayed in the era; why is it I am able to think of dozens of famous scientists, writers and political figures from this era who happened to be women?

Clark Stooksbury at TAC responds to Locklin:

The only episode I remember featuring beatniks for any length of time, they seemed like jerks. How he equates “beatnik drugs” with putting condoms on Bananas for second graders; instead of say, Dylan’s Bringing it all Back Home or early Saturday Night Live episodes, is beyond me.

He continues in this vein while employing the sort of rightwing special pleading I’ve come to expect from sites such as Big Hollywood, while offering no genuine insight on an excellent program. He is under the mistaken impression that the viewer is expected to look down upon the characters and feel superior.

Latoya Peterson at Double X:

Although Draper has a gift for engaging and seeing through marginalized types—the unwed mother, the Jewish heiress, the closeted gay man—in the case of the black characters, the relationship never goes beyond shallow conversation. Mad Men takes on a number of cultural controversies, yet race is treated with politeness, distance, restraint, and a heavy dose of sentimentality. For a show that takes place in the early ’60s, as race riots are breaking out, this is a glaring omission.


Ta-Nehisi Coates responds to Peterson:

Mad Men is a show told from the perspective of a particular world. The people in that world barely see black people. They’re there all the time–Hollis in the elevator, women working in the powder-room, the Draper’s maid, the janitors, the black guy hired at Leo Burnett–but they’re never quite seen. I think this is an incredible statement on how privilege, at it’s most insidious, really works.

I was never one of those people who wanted to see more black people on, say, Friends, or felt that Seinfeld was too white, any more than I wanted to see more white people on The Bernie Mac Show. I think we have to careful. I don’t watch Mad Men to get a lesson on gender–though I sometimes do–I watch to see a good story. I understand, given the times, the desire to have the show take on race. But I don’t want to see Mad Men “take on” anything. That’s for bloggers, and historians to do.

Ann Friedman at Feministing:

And indeed, I love how the show paints an unvarnished picture of ’50s gender roles and how the female characters are so three-dimensional. They don’t easily map onto the sorts of stereotypes prevalent in TV shows and movies set in all decades. The bookish achiever (Peggy) is also kind of a slut. The slut (Joan) is also kind of a bookish achiever. And the devoted wife (Betty) is primed for a feminist awakening. (I’ve often wondered if the character was named after Betty Friedan.)

Amanda Marcotte:

If we can set aside our concerns about the willfully ignorant asshole population’s relentless inability to catch a hint, I would argue that “Mad Men” actually has done a remarkable job of getting its political points across in a way that could create profound change in some audience members.  Certainly, I’ve heard plenty of people, men especially, talk about how much they feel their eyes are opened by the unvarnished portrayal of 60s sexism.  And that really wakes people up to the way that sexism still works in our culture, because the show dispenses with the myth that it was one way before second wave feminism, and then everything completely changed.  You see that women had jobs, and that women had a lot of rights and autonomy in the early 60s, but that didn’t mean that sexism was over by a long shot.  You see that women in the early 60s had “choices”, but that wasn’t the end of the story, nor did it mean that men didn’t have power over them.  And you can see how, if those narratives were stupid in the 60s, they’re stupid now.

And let’s face it—the only reason it feels subtle sometimes is because the dialogue is so rooted in character. Last night, the single male secretary in Sterling Cooper complained that he works in a “gynocracy”.  What he means, of course, is that having female peers in the secretarial pool emasculates him, and unless he gets special privileges for being male, he’s being oppressed.  It’s the same line sexists use now, pointing to places where they feel that men are getting unduly fair treatment, and suggesting that nothing less than being held above women means that men are being oppressed.  I’d argue that what they were doing there wasn’t very subtle, and nor was it particularly subtle when Betty joked that her daughter Sally was acting like a lesbian because she likes to bang a hammer around.

The MadMen Yourself avatar creator. Rachel Syme at Daily Beast on the website.

Rachel Sklar at HuffPo sees Morning Joe as Mad Men.

Frank Rich‘s column from Sunday:

That the early ’60s of “Mad Men” seems more contemporary than the late ’60s of Woodstock has little to do with the earlier period’s style or culture in any case (however superior the clothes). The rock giants of Woodstock remain exponentially more popular than Vic Damone and Perry Como, the forgotten crooners heard in “Mad Men.” The repressive racial and sexual order of Sterling Cooper, the show’s fictional ad agency, is also a relic, in part because of the revolutions that accelerated in the Woodstock era. The misogyny, racism and homophobia practiced in the executive suites of “Mad Men” are hardly extinct — and neither are the cigarettes that most of the characters chain-smoke — but they are in various stages of remission.

What makes the show powerful is not nostalgia for an America that few want to bring back — where women were most valued as sex objects or subservient housewives, where blacks were, at best, second-class citizens, and where the hedonistic guzzling of gas and gin went unquestioned. Rather, it’s our identification with an America that, for all its serious differences with our own, shares our growing anxiety about the prospect of cataclysmic change. “Mad Men” is about the dawn of a new era, and we, too, are at such a dawn. And we are uncertain and worried about what comes next.

UPDATE: Peter Suderman at Sully’s place.

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“Two For The Price Of One” Gets An Awkward Encore

Rachel Slajda at TPM:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton snapped yesterday when a translator, taking a question about President Obama, mistakenly asked the secretary what former President Bill Clinton thinks about an issue.

“Wait, you want me to tell you what my husband thinks? My husband is not the secretary of state. I am,” she said, visibly annoyed at the question.

“You ask my opinion, I’ll tell you my opinion. I’m not going to be channeling my husband,” she added.

Allah Pundit:

I saw the wire reports about this earlier and rolled my eyes at the suggestion that she’d gotten truly angry, figuring the media was overplaying it to goose the “Bill’s marginalizing Hillary!” narrative after his North Korea trip. Then I watched the video. Dude.

Odds of any future diplomatic ventures for BJ: Low

Jules Crittenden:

Sigh … remember back in the spring of 2008, when it was all about the eye-gouging? It was so great … The appointment of Hill as Secretary of State was actually a hopeful development, though as long as she limits herself to eviscerating college kids, she’ll never amount to anything. You know, I always thought the Valkyrie would make a heck of a War Czar.

Ariel at Feministing:

Since Pres. Bill Clinton’s productive visit to North Korea, Secretary Clinton has faced this line of questioning, which endangers American foreign policy efforts.

On the day that Pres. Clinton went to North Korea, I predicted there would be a media backlash about her absence. Now we see U.S. media, including not only Fox but also Huffington Post, perpetuate the idea that Bill Clinton succeeded where Hillary failed. Why send a woman to do a man’s job? Clinton had obviously lost credibility with the North Koreans, but U.S.-North Korea relations had soured during the Bush administration, long before she arrived.

Fox News may have started it with the declaration that Hillary was excluded from negotiations, because she had to “eat crow” after calling North Korea an “unruly child”, and couldn’t “show her face” in the country. But Huffington Post continued the insult with their front-page headline, which dangerously falsifies an imagined rivalry between Bill and Hillary.

John Hinderaker at Powerline:

The Clintons’ “two for the price of one” shtick was always pretty weird. Hillary Clinton’s one great career move was marrying Bill, a political genius. But she often seemed to be burning with rage because her own equal, if not superior, merit was going unrecognized. That’s never really changed, even though Hillary has gone on to enjoy her own career in recent years.

[…] It may have all been a misunderstanding. ABC reports that the translator goofed, and the student was really asking President Obama’s opinion. Be that as it may, it is remarkable to think that this angry woman–who, by the way, looked unprofessional to put it kindly–is our nation’s chief diplomat.

Taylor Marsh:

There can be no doubt that Clinton came off harsh in this setting. A little righteous indignation from the most powerful female persona on the planet was in order, especially considering in the Congo are in danger most of the hours of their waking and sleeping lives.

CNN reports that after the event Clinton and the questioner “seemed to have reached an understanding,” according to Crowley.

But seriously, you cannot bring basic to in places like the Congo if the men there don’t wake up to the respect deserve, highlighting how far we have to go if not even the U.S. secretary of state is treated with respect.

James Joyner:

But she was treated respectfully. A packed house had come to hear her and some nervous student whose native language isn’t English said “Clinton” when he meant “Obama.”

That said, Crowley’s point is a fair one:  “you can’t separate the question from the setting.”  It’s hardly inconceivable that she had gotten the impression during her visit thus far that she was not being treated seriously because of her sex and reacted to the question with that in mind.

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