Monday, September 15, 2008

Webfighting falls under this blog, doesn't it?

I've been a bit quiet due to finally finding a permanent residence, then waiting on Internet access, then losing internet access for a weekend. Yeah, I'm out in the sticks here.  (I did manage to finish a few good books like the last couple Hellboy trades, Small Favor and Livewires -- Good god, why did no one tell me how awesome Livewires was?)

Anyway, during the brief period I had net access last week I wrote a column. Now that I have it again, I went to check the column and found I was being called out by one Mark "My Underwear is Two Sizes Too Tight and That's What's Up My Ass" Engblom, who feels a feminist should be unquestioningly supportive of any female candidate:
Simply this: Lisa’s blog-life revolves around the advancement of women…but now that one’s knocking on the door to the vice presidency…well, I guess that’s not the RIGHT kind of woman for Lisa and the rest of the snarling lefty feminists out there who can’t stand the fact that a conservative women might just beat the “acceptable” feminists to that role. The Palin nomination has cause quite a few masks to fall, one of them being the hypocrisy of so-called feminists who are now rallying to stifle and push down a fellow woman on the verge of making history, yet doesn’t fit their narrow ideological spectrum.
Now, I consider Engblom's assumption that feminists should support a markedly antifeminist candidate just because she's a woman to be sexist so I came up with a long response. Then I decided against posting it on the actual thread of a post, because it's too damned long,Blog@Newsarama's comments were fucking up and it will just encourage the idiot to keep arguing with me in a place that is not my webspace.  I prefer to fight in my own backyard, at my leisure. So I'm giving it to you guys and if Engblom wants to come over and run his mouth in my territory rather than Matt Brady's he can:
Actually, I'd consider it a feminist act to vote against a female candidate who stands against your beliefs, just as it is a feminist act to vote for a female candidate who stands for your beliefs. It breaks down one of the fundamental constraints on women in our society, mainly that we are all considered a single demographic.

Here's an example: I just had a mild disagreement with a coworker who was kind enough to drive me to the store. I promised him it would be quick because I had a list. He laughed and said that no female could stick to a shopping list.

I raised my eyebrow, and--almost forgetting he was doing a nice thing for me--told him he was wrong.

"Look," he said, "I have a sister and a wife--"

"And I have 7 items on my list, and that's all I'm walking out of this store with."

I walked out of that store with 7 items. All on my list, no more, no less. He may think it's just because we argued or he may think I'm simply an oddity but the simple fact of the matter is he was wrong to make an assumption about all women based on just the two he knew. It simply wouldn't have been feminist to let the attitude go unchallenged.

See, one of the points of feminism is making the culture learn that woman are not interchangeable. This goes from the shitty characterization of and the comparison of any and all notable women to Wonder Woman, to the idea that I'm going to shop in the same way my coworker's sister, to the idea that Hillary Clinton's voters are going to be attracted by the addition of Sarah Palin to the ticket.

Sarah Palin is not Hillary Clinton. Sarah Palin never will be Hillary Clinton. The two are the opposite on just about every issue that matters. In fact, I have to say I respect Sarah Palin for not pretending that she is Hillary Clinton.

But anyone who voted for Hillary Clinton would be an idiot to vote for Sarah Palin, just as anyone who wants to vote for Sarah Palin would be an idiot to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Because these women are different.

Because--and say it with me--women are not all the same.

And that's one of the points of feminism, getting rid of these stereotypes. Destroying these assumptions. Making it so women can be judged on their own merits rather than assumptions made about their gender.

And this is what we're doing, judging Clinton and Palin on their merits, not their gender. Which means some people is going to love Palin and hate Clinton, while others going to love Clinton and hate Palin.

That's the way it would be with male candidates. That's the way it should be with female candidates.

This is not bitterness. This is not jealousy. This is taking what's best for you and the country into careful consideration before you pull the lever. This is listening to what the candidate says about the issues that affect rather than looking at their race/gender/religion and seeing how it matches to yours and assuming that their policies will benefit you somehow. This is taking your civic responsibility seriously. This is taking your rights seriously.

This is called thinking, Engblom. You might want to try it sometime.
It all reminds of my mother excitedly telling me that McCain had chosen a female running mate. I grinned, and laughed and informed her this wouldn't get me to vote for McCain unless it was someone really awesome.

"She's a conservative woman," Mom said proudly. (Mom is a conservative woman.)

"Oh, then I definitely won't vote for him. I liked Clinton because she was a liberal woman--well, an acceptably centrist woman. I'm not going to vote for just anyone because their running mate has the same parts as me." And for a few moments, I was happy, because it meant that I wouldn't vote for someone just because she was a woman. I felt rather satisfied with my enlightened viewpoint. And Mom, who I don't give enough credit in political discussions, was smart enough to understand that.

Then I researched Sarah Palin and started to get pissed off at her views, but this isn't really the blog for complaining about that. This is the blog for culture shock chronicles, comic books, and laughing at idiots in the online superhero fan community.


  1. Wait...I am supposed to vote for a woman who stands for the complete opposite of everything that I believe in, simply because she's a woman? That is the "feminist" thing to do?

    What the hell?

    I used to like McCain, and frankly I'm more pissed off at him at his betrayal of everything that HE used to believe in, in order to garner a few more conservative votes than I would be if he was an average Republican. I really resent the idea that Sarah Palin is supposed to be interchangeable with Hilary Clinton, due to the fact that they both have a uterus...and that since I have a uterus, I would vote for ANY woman candidate.

    But yes,this Mark fellow is a blowhard.

  2. I usually enjoy Mark's blog and I'm a little surprised he came out at you like this.

    I mean, unless he's just a blind-faith conservative who was dumbfounded that you wouldn't be voting based on common genitals this November.

    This whole election season is making me woozy.

  3. Gotta agree with you there.

    That said, do you think Palin has gotten some unfair treatment in the media? Some of the things that have been said or done- I can't imagine happening to Dan Quayle or John Edwards (who had similar levels of experience to Palin while running for VP). In particular , the tone of that Charlie Gibson interview, and some of those loaded questions.

    I'm not saying that all the allegations are true, or that I necessarily like her- but I think she's gotten some unfair treatment.

  4. @ arstal: If she gets asked hard-hitting questions, it's "unfair treatment?" She's been ordered to dodge answering such questions by the McCain camp.

    This election has for some reason turned from being about who will be the next president of our country to he-said-she-said nonsense. Why is Palin's experience being levied against Obama's? Why has Joe Biden been left out of this equation? And does anyone out there not think that Palin's nom was simply a distraction tool from McCain's own shortcomings?

  5. The obsession over the baby scandal and VPILF shit? Yeah, that's sexist.

    But Quayle and Edwards had more national experience than Palin did.

    Palin has been at the local level since the 90s, 6 years as a small town mayor. Then less than 20 months at the state level as the Governor of one of the least populated states.

    Clinton was called inexperienced with 6 years at the national level as a Senator, and 8 years as one of President Clinton's closet advisors.

    Obama is called inexperienced with 4 years at the national level in the Senate.

    Quayle was at the national level in the House from 1976-1986, and in the Senate from 86-88. 12 years at the national level.

    Ferraro had 6 years in the House, at the national level. She was called inexperienced.

    The thing about Congress, legislative experience, is that it means they know how to wheel and deal in Washington, and they have an idea what the rest of the country needs,

    I don't think experience is everything, but its definitely a fair topic in this race. It's not sexist to question how someone who has spent nearly her entire career as a local politician in a small town and has less than 2 years at the state level can handle the entire fucking country. We're not even sure, with her having not finished an entire term, if she was able to handle Alaska properly.

    There is nothing unfair about them going after her experience levels. She was brought in this with two fucking months left to look at her, while Obama and McCain have been under the glass for 18, and Biden had his hat in the ring for a while there too. She's the unknown entity, and honestly it's unfair of McCain to spring her on the country like that.

    Now, the REASON she's up against Obama for the experience argument is twofold: 1) Obama is the one the Republicans call inexperienced, and 2) at McCain's age we know she's very likely to take over. She is effectively running for President.

  6. Well, the Edwards comparison is fair then. I don't remember anyone calling Edwards inexperienced, or it being a big issue.

    Experience is a fair comparison, but it boomerangs on Obama, who has about the same level of inexperience- and would be President on day 1, not day 1001.

    Actuarial studies give McCain only about a 10% shot of dying during his 1st term. (don't have statistics off the top of my head, but the numbers were lower then you'd think) Obama has about a 2% shot.

    BTW I agree with that's nothing unfair about attacking her record- and she has a few skeletons (but they all do).

  7. John McCain officially became dead to me when he, a former POW and torture victim, sold out to Bush and voted AGAINST the torture ban in the Senate.

    Other than some of the personal stuff like the baby scandal or the scrutiny over her appearance that Ragnell cited above, she (as well as McCain) has gotten a free pass from the media. If Biden had pulled the same "Where's Waldo?" crap she pulled or lied through his teeth the way Palin did in her convention speech, he would have been driven off the ticket.

    While I like Mark's blog, the argument he's making is the dumbest one ever.

    Here's the deal: As I understand it, Lisa, your goal is to make things better for women as a whole. If you're female and a feminist, voting for someone you strongly suspect is going to throw American women's rights under a bus given the chance, even if she's a female candidate, is HIGHLY COUNTERPRODUCTIVE to your goal.

    It's like being Japanese-American and voting for a Japanese-American candidate who favors reopening the World War II internment camps, just because he's Japanese-American.

  8. @ notintheface: Great analogy with the Japanese-American comparison. I have to remember that.

  9. To me, it's not even a question of experience. She's a sop to the conservative base, and nobody who still believes in young Earth Creationism in this day and age should be within a heartbeat of the Presidency. And of course, McCain's choosing her shows that he's beholden to the Religious Right as much as Bush was even if he personally isn't as fanatical. We can't afford four more years of that.

    And her apparent "triumph" of a keynote speech was just one attack on Obama after another. Apparently having nothing to offer but negativity is just fine if you're a Republican.

  10. Not to mention all the baldface LYING she was doing about both Obama's record and her own.

    Here's another analogy, PJ:
    A woman voting for the McCain/Palin ticket would be like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders. (Not my original.)

  11. "Women are also winning the most important of all gender wars—the war for educational qualifications. They earn 57% of bachelor’s degrees, 59% of master’s degrees and half of doctorates. And they are doing better all the time. In terms of higher education, women drew equal with men in 1980. By the early 1990s six women graduated from college for every five men. Projections show that by 2017 three women will graduate for every two men. The meritocracy is inexorably turning into a matriarchy, and visibly so on many campuses: the heads of Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Brown and the National Defence University are all women."

    That was from the Economist this week. I know there's some people out there--maybe that guy who went after you is one of them, I don't know (or care)--that really want to see a female president in their lifetime, and they want it so badly that they'd ignore their own lifetime politics just to get one on the docket. That's their business--but there will be a woman president in the US, and when it happens, it should be because the majority of voters want her as the leader. Not because she's the only possible avenue at the current time.

  12. It's like being Japanese-American and voting for a Japanese-American candidate who favors reopening the World War II internment camps, just because he's Japanese-American.

    Who was the Asian female Republican pundit whose said the internment camps were the right move? Malkin?

    Anyway, I'm wondering if Engblom also gets angry at Dumb Dad sitcoms because Not All Men Are the Same...

    Hell if being feminist means automatically supporting Palin, then I shouldn't have spent the last four-ish years wanting to kick Leiberman in the groin because we were both technically Democrats...

  13. "Y'all got the same parts, ain'tchu gonna vote fer her?!"

    This has been an insanely bizarre campaign. Anyone remember when the Republicans at least had some measure of dignity and gravitas to fall back on? Now they're running solely to appeal to their crazy/stupid/hatemongering base.

  14. "Small Favor"

    Wow. For a moment, I read that as "Small Favours", titular published title of Colleen Coover, Marvel artiste extraordinaire!

  15. Lurker! You want to kick Leiberman TOO? Oh, I love you so.

  16. Does anyone NOT want to kick Lieberman? Seriously, just look at him!

  17. "Women are also winning the most important of all gender wars..."

    (quoted from above)

    Maybe, except the really true measure...equal pay for equal work. They still make less than 80% of what men do for the same jobs. And the US Supreme Court recently ruled against a clear case of discrimination because of a faux statute of limitations.

    Having had discourse with Engblom before, I'd say "...a blind-faith conservative..." would seem to describe him well.

  18. "Lurker! You want to kick Leiberman TOO? Oh, I love you so."

    Can I get in line, too?

    And you've got a special reason for wanting to kick him, Sally: He's your state Senator. (Obama's mine, although I DON'T want to kick him.)

  19. McCain's one of my state senators. So I can't kick him. Because he'd probably die and get Palin elected as President on a sympathy surge...

  20. A bone of contention:

    "But anyone who voted for Hillary Clinton would be an idiot to vote for Sarah Palin"

    Anyone, male or female, who supported Hilary Clinton primarily or only because she was a woman, would be/are showing consistency by switching to Palin, only because she's a woman.

    It may well be a foolish consistency, but still. (And I can see the argument that the effective differences between a Rep and Dem president are less important than the difference between getting the first female president/VP now, and getting to that milestone who knows when.)

  21. ... not that that means feminists should support Palin, just that I wouldn't be surprised by some (otherwise barely politically active) H. Clinton backers having become Palin backers.

  22. Eric, I don't see the contention.

    I didn't say such voters were inconsistent or nonexistent, I said they were idiots.

    As for the argument that the differences between red and blue are nothing compared to getting the glass ceiling broken, I could see it for Kay Bailey Hutchinson or Condeleeza Rice or any number of qualified Republican women who are very clearly moderates who lean slightly conservative.

    Palin's a whole 'nother barrel of fish, though. She's too far to the Right to be acceptable to moderate-to-liberal voters. And voters who do find Palin's views acceptable would most certainly have seen Clinton are too far left.

    This isn't a mild different between two moderates, this is opposite fucking ends of the scale. If you find these differences insignificant compared to a symbolic step, you're an idiot. No two ways about it.

  23. Okay, so maybe it was a sliver of cartilege of contention to begin with. Or maybe there are two completely different ways to be foolish in backing H. Clinton first, then Palin.

    Side note, I do kind of hope Rice runs for office in the next couple of goes--not that it's my country, or my business.

  24. I actually don't think the baby scandal was BS, and it's got nothing to do with Palin's gender. My feeling is that if you're continuing to advocate abstinence-only sex-ed (as she is) after not only viewing the mounds of statistical evidence that it doesn't work, but seeing that it doesn't work on your own personal child that you personally parented, you deserve to get a little shit for that.

    Palin's stance on reproductive rights doesn't even work for her own family, let alone the country. I'd say the same thing if her husband was running for VP.

  25. Oh, and this was a well-written, insightful column that you should be proud of. That was what I originally clicked on the comments section to say, but I get sidetracked easily. :)

  26. I think her daughter getting knocked up at 17 is not only fair game, but extremely important.

    After all, Palin uses all of her kids as poltical props, bringing them around with her, introducing them in speeches, touting her son joining the military on September 11th, her youngest's existence as proof of her pro-life bona fides, etc.

    But more importantly, as a public official loudly advocating a "pro-life" stance that abortion should be illegal in all cases, she's ready to legislate away the privacy of such choices of all other pregnant 17 year olds. She wants the media to shut up about her daughter, but she wants the government to get involved with all other pregnancies?

    I don't even see why Palin's nomination is even a feminist issue. The Republicans nominated a woman for vice president. The Democrats did that, what, 20 years ago? The Republicans are now officially 20-some years behind the Democrats. Hooray...?