Has Anyone Seen My Soapbox?

I usually try and stay out of political debates with people, funny given that I majored in Political Science. I grew up a Wisconsin liberal in a family of conservatives save for my wonderfully progressive, Democrat grandparents.

My mom did and still does manage a group of radio stations including a conservative talk station featuring Rush Limbaugh. I was told during a number of political "discussions" with my mother not to forget that Rush Limbaugh feeds me, and Rush Limbaugh clothes me-- given that my mom's paycheck came in part from selling ad time on his show.

So, I learned to stay quiet. In part because no matter how much I disagree with you, I believe absolutely that you are entitled to your opinion and perhaps your life experience has been different than mine and that has coloured where you stand on the issues as my own experience has coloured mine. I also think that it's a rare person who's mind is open enough to be changed when it come to politics anyhow, so what's the point.

So here's what I have to say and then I will shut up and go back to talking about brazilian waxing, and my horny husband, 50's douche ads and post video of my 10 month old dancing.

I'm a feminist, I vote for candidates who support a feminist agenda. Being a feminist means I believe in equality for women. I also believe that having reproductive freedom is a major component of said equality. It's nice that the Republicans put a woman on the ticket but as Gloria Steinem recently wrote in the L.A. Times,

"Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for women everywhere."
Sarah Palin's stand on a myriad of issues is simply not good for women.(Or animals, or the environment, or kids trying to learn about science...)

If you are pro-life, anti-environment, if you disbelieve the impact of global warming, if you believe Creationism should be taught in our public schools then Sarah Palin will clearly be your candidate. And that's okay.

If you don't believe these things, you simply cannot vote for her.

I'm reprinting Gloria Steinem's recent L.A. Times piece because she says it better than I ever could. She also has been fighting for equal rights for women for over 40 years and speaks from a place of tremendous knowledge, heart and experience.

Palin: wrong woman, wrong message
Sarah Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Hillary Clinton. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.

By Gloria Steinem September 4, 2008
(reprinted from the L.A. Times)

Here's the good news: Women have become so politically powerful that even the anti-feminist right wing -- the folks with a headlock on the Republican Party -- are trying to appease the gender gap with a first-ever female vice president. We owe this to women -- and to many men too -- who have picketed, gone on hunger strikes or confronted violence at the polls so women can vote. We owe it to Shirley Chisholm, who first took the "white-male-only" sign off the White House, and to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who hung in there through ridicule and misogyny to win 18 million votes.

But here is even better news: It won't work. This isn't the first time a boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him and opposes everything most other women want and need. Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for women everywhere. It's not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It's about baking a new pie.

Selecting Sarah Palin, who was touted all summer by Rush Limbaugh, is no way to attract most women, including die-hard Clinton supporters. Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Clinton. Her down-home, divisive and deceptive speech did nothing to cosmeticize a Republican convention that has more than twice as many male delegates as female, a presidential candidate who is owned and operated by the right wing and a platform that opposes pretty much everything Clinton's candidacy stood for -- and that Barack Obama's still does. To vote in protest for McCain/Palin would be like saying, "Somebody stole my shoes, so I'll amputate my legs."

This is not to beat up on Palin. I defend her right to be wrong, even on issues that matter most to me. I regret that people say she can't do the job because she has children in need of care, especially if they wouldn't say the same about a father. I get no pleasure from imagining her in the spotlight on national and foreign policy issues about which she has zero background, with one month to learn to compete with Sen. Joe Biden's 37 years' experience.

Palin has been honest about what she doesn't know. When asked last month about the vice presidency, she said, "I still can't answer that question until someone answers for me: What is it exactly that the VP does every day?" When asked about Iraq, she said, "I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq."

She was elected governor largely because the incumbent was unpopular, and she's won over Alaskans mostly by using unprecedented oil wealth to give a $1,200 rebate to every resident. Now she is being praised by McCain's campaign as a tax cutter, despite the fact that Alaska has no state income or sales tax. Perhaps McCain has opposed affirmative action for so long that he doesn't know it's about inviting more people to meet standards, not lowering them. Or perhaps McCain is following the Bush administration habit, as in the Justice Department, of putting a job candidate's views on "God, guns and gays" ahead of competence. The difference is that McCain is filling a job one 72-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency.

So let's be clear: The culprit is John McCain. He may have chosen Palin out of change-envy, or a belief that women can't tell the difference between form and content, but the main motive was to please right-wing ideologues; the same ones who nixed anyone who is now or ever has been a supporter of reproductive freedom. If that were not the case, McCain could have chosen a woman who knows what a vice president does and who has thought about Iraq; someone like Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison or Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. McCain could have taken a baby step away from right-wing patriarchs who determine his actions, right down to opposing the Violence Against Women Act.Palin's value to those patriarchs is clear: She opposes just about every issue that women support by a majority or plurality. She believes that creationism should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global warming; she opposes gun control but supports government control of women's wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves "abstinence-only" programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions; she tried to use taxpayers' millions for a state program to shoot wolves from the air but didn't spend enough money to fix a state school system with the lowest high-school graduation rate in the nation; she runs with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but supports $500 million in subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain has opted for the lesser evil of offshore drilling. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.

I don't doubt her sincerity. As a lifetime member of the National Rifle Assn., she doesn't just support killing animals from helicopters, she does it herself. She doesn't just talk about increasing the use of fossil fuels but puts a coal-burning power plant in her own small town. She doesn't just echo McCain's pledge to criminalize abortion by overturning Roe vs. Wade, she says that if one of her daughters were impregnated by rape or incest, she should bear the child. She not only opposes reproductive freedom as a human right but implies that it dictates abortion, without saying that it also protects the right to have a child.

So far, the major new McCain supporter that Palin has attracted is James Dobson of Focus on the Family. Of course, for Dobson, "women are merely waiting for their husbands to assume leadership," so he may be voting for Palin's husband.

Being a hope-a-holic, however, I can see two long-term bipartisan gains from this contest.

Republicans may learn they can't appeal to right-wing patriarchs and most women at the same time. A loss in November could cause the centrist majority of Republicans to take back their party, which was the first to support the Equal Rights Amendment and should be the last to want to invite government into the wombs of women.

And American women, who suffer more because of having two full-time jobs than from any other single injustice, finally have support on a national stage from male leaders who know that women can't be equal outside the home until men are equal in it. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are campaigning on their belief that men should be, can be and want to be at home for their children.

This could be huge.

Gloria Steinem is an author, feminist organizer and co-founder of the Women's Media Center. She supported Hillary Clinton and is now supporting Barack Obama.

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Rassles said... September 10, 2008 at 9:31 AM  

I love it when Playboy bunnies can speak so eloquently.

RiverPoet said... September 10, 2008 at 12:30 PM  

Personally, I think we all, as thinking women, have to get a little more political right now. I am astounded (once again) and the blatant ignorance of the average American voter. I love this country, but I'm afraid of where we're headed.

Thanks for sharing the article. I hadn't read it yet.

Peace - D

~Mountain Lover~ said... September 10, 2008 at 1:09 PM  

I was a polisci/econ major and I work in a law office. I can't manage to ever keep my mouth shut about politics-it's coded in my DNA somewhere. I try extremely hard in person, but then it ends up all over my blog. It just has to come out somewhere.

Anonymous said... September 10, 2008 at 1:09 PM  

Amen sista- she's a puppet of the right because clearly, there were far better choices to fill in the republican ticket. Lotsa smart women who had the experience but a lot of them are not prolife and the christian right no liky, liky those that think abortion is an issue outside of the pokitical realm.

Anonymous said... September 10, 2008 at 1:16 PM  

Amen! And thanks for the article - I enjoyed reading it. There's one thing that really bugs me about the McCain/Palin ticket: It proves just how easily sidetracked Americans are. McCain thinks he can win over the Clinton supporters simply by adding a woman to his ticket.

Kris said... September 10, 2008 at 4:06 PM  

I had not read Steinem's article either, so I'll add my thanks for your post. I'm taking a course on current issues in feminist thought this fall quarter, I am sure we will have many interesting discussions.

Anonymous said... September 10, 2008 at 6:42 PM  

I don;t think you should stay quiet at all - I loved this post. Loved what you had to say and loved Steinem's article.

Speak up!

Anonymous said... September 10, 2008 at 7:05 PM  

Noooo I say we vote for the crazy nut job. I have nothing against nuns or organized religion, but c'mon! Won't it be fun to take women back to the good ole days where they had to use coat hangers for abortions? We'll have a ton of unwanted babies around this country because well. We all know the religious right will pay for them out of pocket. And lets not forget that our troops are fighting a war because 'God willed it'. (I believe she was quoted stating that).


C'mon. God! Willed it! So well, we clearly must invade other countries. Yeee haar!! Science? We don't need no stinkin science! Hey, better yet, since the bible does state that homosexuality is a sin that deserves death. Why not, ooh well God would have wanted it...lets put little stars on them, and march em along somewhere out of this country. Doesn't that sound lovely?
and you know the sad thing? I think they have a shot at winning. *sigh*

formerly fun said... September 10, 2008 at 8:25 PM  

rassles- see we can be smart and sexy:)

riverpoet- I agree, which is why I finally posted on this. I am surrounded by very opinionated people, some who I agree with and some are polar opposites but I also realized some people aren't sure and the thing the Republicans do better than the Dems is reassert their position ALL. THE. TIME. Those of us who are more liberal, sometime assume, wrongly, that anybody who doesn't already realize all this stuff probably isn't smart enough to 'get it'. I figured on emore voice breaking through the staic is at the very least, one more voice.

Mountain Lover-
I can talk with intelligent, considerate thinkers, even if their opinion is different but I grew up in a house with a woman who I really admired, except for her politics and differing opinions were not welcome or argued against fairly. I love having lively discussions, even had my mind changed a time or two when someone gave me a different perspective.

anon- I agree and I hate that the debate over abortion is so fundamental for me because it shouldn't even be part of the siscussion anymore, and yet it is, fundamental.

heatherw-hopefully the election will prove us wrong on that, one can hope. Again, the republicans use a 'shock and awe' to steer us away from the real facts and issues. I was a Hillary girl no doubt and I still have not totally warmed to Obama but when you stack up his values compared to the McCain ticket, there's no question who I must vote for.

Enjoy your class and please share, I haven't taken a feminism/women's study class for since 1995 so I'm not even sure what the moct current issues are. I gave myself a gold star for remembering who Phyllis Shafly was in the Steinem article, big gold star for me!

a freeman- yes, thanks, I know, like I said to River, it's one more voice right? Again, I guess I just assume sometimes that everyone gets it and if they don't, they won't but there are some really smart people out there that aren't sure and need more information and to understand why some of us think the way we do.

greenbean- you know what's so totally hilarious. I know you personally, have spent a good deal of time with you in person and I have learned more about you in my comments section than in person. I love that.

Rachel said... September 10, 2008 at 10:43 PM  

i love you for posting this...i usually stay out of politics too, but NOT when it comes to this kind of stuff..it really is scary how REAL this all is now & how it's very much a possibility that this woman could be the vice president. *shudders*

MJ said... September 11, 2008 at 8:26 AM  

Great post.

Greenconsciousness said... September 11, 2008 at 9:30 AM  

So why don't you write in Hillary and send a message to the sexist DNC who pushed a feminist out of the race in favor of an empty resume, who paid each delegate $10,000 to change their vote and threatened those who would not with loss of party support?

Why don't you write in Hillary and send a message to BO who hates women so much he flipped off 18 million voters when he chose a VP?

Why don't you write in Hillary to tell the DNC we don't want caucuses that discriminate against the old and working class and we especially do not want caucus votes to count more than straight votes?


That we don't want Dem primaries in which Repubs are allowed to vote for Dem candidates. That we don't want delegates who change our votes but a straight every vote counts as given system. That we want convention roll calls which reflect accurately how the people of the state voted. That we don't want DNC Rules Committees picking their candidate by disenfranchising whole states.


Aren't you a little tired of losing your rights while rewarding democrat male dominated operators with your vote and getting only excuses in return?

They lost equal pay for equal work, made abortion rare and impossible for poor and military women. Ratified every Supreme Court nominee Bush sent them. Lost real sex ed in the schools. Endorsed faith based use of taxes for religious "charities". Passed bad bankruptcy and credit card laws. They did this for the last 4 years while Democrats were a majority in the Senate and the House. They whine they didn't have enough of a majority. Then they vote with the Repubs to save by trillions of dollars mortgage corporations. They vote to allow the govt to spy on citizens. The Repub do more while a minority than the Dems do as a majority. Now they are allowing HHS to classify birth control as an abortifac so they do not have to pay for poor women's prescriptions. Hillary Clinton and her partner from New York are the only democrats actually WORKING to stop this although of course as usual the rest are telling us they are with us while doing NOTHING.
Write in Hillary


PS Hillary has a petition to prevent the reclassification of birth control as abortion by HSS here:

“No self respecting woman should wish or work for the success of a party that ignores her” -Susan B Anthony, 1872.

Greenconsciousness said... September 11, 2008 at 9:34 AM  

Here is Hillary's petition; I have to break it up or it dissapears.


Maggie, Dammit said... September 11, 2008 at 4:59 PM  

Have I mentioned I met Gloria Steinem?

Why yes, yes I have. About seventybillion times on my blog. Doesn't get old, though.

Awesome post. ;)

Meet Cindy and Roy said... September 11, 2008 at 5:57 PM  

definition of feminist: the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. I don't see liberal womens rights anywhere in the definition. The founder nor the organization represent or advocate for me or 50%of the women in America. Let's just call the organization what it is not what it pretends to be.

Rassles said... September 12, 2008 at 7:46 AM  

Wow, FF. Someone feels strongly about things.

Here's my two cents:

Wesley Clark.

Anonymous said... September 12, 2008 at 8:28 AM  

Great blog - love your 9/11 and soapbox posts. I agree with Steinem's "Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for women everywhere."

To me this statement includes Hillary Clinton. I am a woman in my 50's - I was not a Hillary supporter then, nor now or ever. I was appalled at the way she conducted her campaign and at the vile that spewed from Bill.

To write in her name in is a vote for McCain/Palin and a disservice to women and this planet.

If you have any doubt that the GOP won't rape what is left of pristine Alaskan wilderness with Sarah Palin in power please watch this video on aerial wolf hunting.

It is heartbreaking.


Greenconsciousness said... September 12, 2008 at 9:43 AM  

I am getting security warnings for some items on this page but will ignore them to answer the misogynist who wants us to view the aerial wolf hunting video.

I do not know what state you are from but I bet you are unaware of the policies and practices of your own state's Natural Resources Dept. Shooting animals with guns is not by far the worst of what every state does to wild and farm animals.

Here in WI our Democrat governor, an Obama supporter, allows bear baiting. Bear baiting is the use of live bears to train dogs. A chained bear in a penned area is allowed to be attacked over and over by large packs of dogs to train new dogs to hunt bears. The new dogs learn from the old dogs not to be afraid of the bear. This continues all days with fresh dog packs. Other animals are used as well. Called junk animals, coyotes, raccoons, foxes and many others are forced out of a pen and the dog pack tears them apart, a new animal every hour, 17 hours a day.

Additionally, our governor is allowing the DNR to classify Mute Swans as an Invasive species. This is what the Humane Society said.

"The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently announced plans to classify mute swans as a "prohibited invasive species." The adoption of these proposed regulations would remove any remaining protections these birds have under existing regulations making it that much easier for the DNR to issue permits for the unnecessary and inhumane killing of these beautiful birds. Please urge the DNR to reconsider these plans.

The DNR claims that mute swans are not native to North America, and therefore, should be listed as an “invasive species.” However, there is conflicting evidence about whether mute swans are native to the North American continent, and regardless, the birds are now a naturalized part of the environment. Mute swans do not pose a threat to Wisconsin’s aquatic ecosystems and any perceived conflicts with these birds can be resolved using effective, humane methods."

So please if you really care about animals look in your own backyard.

Gypsy said... September 12, 2008 at 10:14 AM  

Couldn't agree more. And thanks for stepping on that soapbox.

Anonymous said... September 14, 2008 at 8:26 PM  

Curious, what exactly is the republican feminist doctrine? I can't help but laugh just writing that.

Sure they helped pioneer the right of the vote for women but republicans, that was 1920. What have you done for us lately?

Feminism largley consists of issues like women's legal rights (rights of contract, property rights, voting rights), women's right to bodily integrity and autonomy, for abortion rights, and for reproductive rights (including access to contraception and quality prenatal care, for protection from domestic violence, sexual harassment and rape,for workplace rights, including maternity leave and equal pay, and against other forms of discrimination.

Issues important to liberal feminists include reproductive and abortion rights, sexual harassment, voting, education, "equal pay for equal work", affordable childcare, affordable health care, and bringing to light the frequency of sexual and domestic violence against women.

Those liberal feminists, how dare they?

If you're a woman and you're republican, you're delusional.

Anonymous said... September 16, 2008 at 11:11 AM  

Gloria Steinham is a whack job and an ambulance chaser. I definitely wouldn't hitch my wagon to hers...

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