Saturday, September 6, 2008

Meet the new right, same as the old right (now STFU)

The first presidential election I could vote in was in 1984, and I campaigned energetically and naively for Mondale/Ferraro because of Ferraro's being the first woman on a presidential ticket. I got to see her speak on campus at Ohio State, and got even more fired up. Of course, we all know how that turned out.

That all seems like a million years ago--in fact, I'd almost forgotten the whole episode. This time around, I didn't get excited about Hillary's candidacy because she was a woman, and while I'd like to think that's a sign of my and the country's growing sophistication, the Women's Media Center video below shows that I'm dead, dead wrong about that.

On a happier note, we do seem to have arrived at a point where other major media outlets can slice-and-dice that kind of hypocrisy:

[Side note: THANK GOD for Jon Stewart. As I heard a commentator say on a "This American Life" piece once, I would drink his bathwater.]

Now, we all know Karl Rove is an a$$hole, and we all know how unbelievably skillful the right has been at appropriating the political rhetoric of the left and turning it against them. But frankly, to hear Karl Rove denouncing others as sexist was the last straw for me.

It certainly helped me articulate the problem I've been having all along, which is that I'm fed up with the right wing coming along decades too late and slinging accusations like this without first acknowledging that yes: the left had it right (no pun intended) when they got behind feminism (and civil rights, and the 40-hour workweek, and on and on and on). The left takes the heat for trying to corrupt the nation with its wicked, culturally destructive ideas, and then the right gets to sweep in and say, "Hey, you know what? That was a good idea after all. Gimme some of that."

It's interesting to hear McCain's policy advisor in the Daily Show video, above, talk about being insulted by media "attacks" on Sarah Palin from her "female" and "feminine" point of view. Dammit, you were insulted because YOU'RE A [closet] FEMINIST. If you're going to steal rhetoric, you gotta steal the whole package, and be prepared for the backlash.

What Karl Rove knows, and what he's so freakin' good at, is tying up the conversation so that the left can't say anything without spanking themselves.

And he gets this, I think, from the left's idea that "the personal is political." Years ago, when I was in grad school, I was walking up the sidewalk to my apartment building when a teenaged boy walked by with a friend and said, "If you weren't so fat, I'd go out with you."

Now, this wasn't the first time in my life I'd had a random, unknown male say something to me on the street. I've heard it all, both the insulting and the (allegedly) "flattering." But that was the moment at which I fully understood what that maneuver was about: power, and the reification of (white, middle-class, straight) male privilege. The only men I know who have had such experiences are gay: a high-school friend at whom another guy shouted "AIDS case" to on the street, for example. And I got it, the ways in which sexism and homophobia are rooted in the same kind of hatred.

Now, though, if I share that experience, I'm "playing the gender card." And if any of you out there want to disagree with me, you're automatically being "sexist." The right, once again, has shut down all conversation about the issue, which is what they've been doing so skillfully and carefully for over thirty years. And it's how they plan to win this election (as they have in the past).

The only way to fight back? As The Temptations say, "Rap on, brothers [and sisters], rap on!" Crank up the volume!

--With deep thanks to friends and fellow bloggers at Historiann and Leaf-Stitch-Word for the inspiration.


Michael said...

1) I don't know about his bathwater, but Jon Stewart is our Walter Cronkite. Even my 79-year-old mother loves him.

2) Love "Ball of Confusion," love the Tempts, love the silver suits. Did you ever get me drunk enough so I sang "I Can't Get Next to You" in all five Temptations voices?

Rose said...

Heavens, no, Mr. Itchie! But you'd better believe that the next time I see you, I will be plying you with alcoholic beverages toward that very end. I think I did get you drunk enough once to throw yourself against a door while "Break On Through to the Other Side" played--or was that me?

historiann said...

Rose, I have to apologize to you for suggesting that you use the term "shut up" too much. My latest post will explain all.


Rose said...

Well, I think I needed to make it clearer here (versus the Bob Seger blog) that in this case, those being told to "STFU" are us. By the right, which so polarizes complex issues that any kind of dialogue becomes impossible.

But yes, I wish they'd STFU, too. Which I suppose makes me part of the problem.

Christy said...

What a revelation to find this blog! Thanks for articulating so beautifully what I've been able to express only in gutteral grunts, snarky insults, and primal screams.

We miss you here in the Windy City! Door's always open and all that jazz.

Larry said...

The first video about Clinton reminded me of the AFS paper, what, 10 years ago maybe, about Clinton's portrayal in cartoons, jokes, and popular media. It was disgusting then, and it's disgusting now. I'm waiting for the Palin jokes. (Although I already heard her called a GILF and VPILF.)

Lynn Klyde-Silverstein said...

Hey Rose: Great post. It's incredible how the Republicans can be so hypocritical. My step-daughter had a baby at 17. He's now our beautiful adopted son. Would Sarah Palin and crew have been excited about her having an out-of-wedlock baby? Of course not. Yet these ditto-heads are raving about her.

jane kokernak said...

It strikes me that the two videos, one by the Women's Media Center and one with Jon Stewart, would be a great way to teach students about the verb "juxtapose." The editors/producers did a great job finding all the clips. Remarkable. Stunning.

Anyway, I read your post a couple of days ago. It must have heightened my awareness to stuff I normally try to ignore, 'cause I'm just so freakin' tired of it. But, while standing in line and waiting to pay for my coffee, the guy in front of me said this to the female cashier about her friend, another female coffee shop worker who was changing out the carafes, "She still hates men, doesn't she?" and he shook his head in fake ruefulness. The cashier, who is I'm sure an hourly wage-earner and who listens to a Portuguese radio station, smiled painfully. The guy continued, "So, she hates men. I'll take care of 'er. I'll show 'er." Like, what??!! You're gonna smack her upside the head?? So, I'm standing there and thinking: what do I say? I mean, if I say, "I'm offended," then I'm just a bitch (as you point out, Rose). But, if I say nothing, I'm powerless. Grrrr.

Here's my new task: to figure out what to say, when this stuff rears its head. Because it does, and not infrequently.