Friday, September 12, 2008

On Sarah Palin And Other Odds and Ends

I'm half watching Charlie Gibson interview Sarah Palin on 20/20 and I can't figure out what I'd want to write on her that others haven't eloquently written already.

Case in point: Rebecca Traister's "Zombie Feminists of the RNC"
Everything that is rattling around in my brain and making me so disgusted, she has written better.

"Perhaps it's because the ground has shifted so quickly under my feet, leaving me with only a slippery grasp of what the basic vocabulary of my beat -- feminism, women's rights -- even means anymore. Some days, it feels like I'm watching the civics filmstrip about how much progress women made on the presidential stage in 2008 burst into flames, acutely aware that in the back of the room, a substitute teacher is threading a new reel into the projector. It has the same message and some of the same signifiers -- Glass ceilings broken! Girl Power! -- but its meaning has been distorted. Suddenly it's Rudy Giuliani and Rick Santorum schooling us about pervasive sexism; Hillary Clinton's 18 million cracks have weakened not only the White House's glass ceiling, but the wall protecting Roe v. Wade; the potential first female vice president in America's 200-year history describes her early career as "your average hockey mom" who "never really set out to be involved in public affairs"; and teen pregnancy is no longer an illustrative example for sex educators and contraception distributors but for those who seek to eliminate sex education and contraception.

In this strange new pro-woman tableau, feminism -- a word that is being used all over the country with regard to Palin's potential power -- means voting for someone who would limit reproductive control, access to healthcare and funding for places like Covenant House Alaska, an organization that helps unwed teen mothers. It means cheering someone who allowed women to be charged for their rape kits while she was mayor of Wasilla, who supports the teaching of creationism alongside evolution, who has inquired locally about the possibility of using her position to ban children's books from the public library, who does not support the teaching of sex education.

In this "Handmaid's Tale"-inflected universe, in which femininity is worshipped but females will be denied rights, CNBC pundit Donny Deutsch tells us that we're witnessing "a new creation ... of the feminist ideal," the feminism being so ideal because instead of being voiced by hairy old bats with unattractive ideas about intellect and economy and politics and power, it's now embodied by a woman who, according to Deutsch, does what Hillary Clinton did not: "put a skirt on." "I want her watching my kids," says Deutsch. "I want her laying next to me in bed." "

I will keep my feelings about douchebag Donny Deutsch and his too-tight black t-shirts to myself right now.

Here's where she nails it:

What Palin so seductively represents, not only to Donny Deutsch but to the general populace, is a form of feminine power that is utterly digestible to those who have no intellectual or political use for actual women. It's like some dystopian future ... feminism without any feminists.

I really don't understand how anyone claiming to be a feminist can support an anti-choice, abstinence-only candidate who wants to teach creationism in the public schools. AND supported Pat Fucking Buchanan. What? Huh?

The thing that disturbs me the most, though, is how easily people fell for her. Prior to the announcement, I had no strong feelings about John McCain. With the exception of his positions on the war in Iraq, I could *almost* imagine not killing myself over the idea of a McCain presidency. And then Palin. I thought it was the grossest kind of "hey, chicks like chicks. Let's pick a chick and they'll vote for her" pandering. My initial thought was, "how stupid do these people think that we are?"

Apparently, pretty stupid. She's a celebrity, and let's not forget, a holy, sainted mother of five. I had an actual conversation with a woman who said she totally disagreed with her politics, but would vote for McCain because HE picked a woman and because, direct quote, "she's a MOM. She understands. She KNOWS." This is a woman that I respect -- I was stunned into silence. What exactly is it that she knows?

On the other hand, my mother and my aunt last weekend provided some balance. Neither of them are die-hard Democrats, but expressed disgust over the idea that a woman who has managed a town of 6,000 people (being touted everywhere as her "prior experience") is qualified to be Vice President of the United States. Both of them pointed out that they've managed more people and more budget than that. And they're both moms. Apparently, they don't KNOW the same shit that Sarah Palin does.

The whole mess makes me very, very scared. The most inspiring candidate we've had in a while could lose, and with a McCain presidency, we're one heart attack away from having our second gun-toting, religious freak in the White House. I want to scream.

In other news:
* At least some humor can be found around Palin: My friend, Diana, and comedienne, Sara Benincasa, are starring in number of Plain vlogs on Youtube and getting all sorts of coverage including here, here and here. My favorite was Sarah at The RNC, but Kanye! made me pee my pants just a little today. Very cool for those guys.

* And then back to being pissed off. Newsweek ran an article titled To Work or Not?
A new study finds that children of privileged families fare worse when the mother works outside the home. But what does the research really tell us?
and again, I ask, scream, bang my head against the wall until I'm a bloody pulp, "WHAT ABOUT THE FATHERS?" Where are they in the equation? Where do they ever appear in these types of pieces? According to the research, my future children won't be well-adjusted and they'll be fat too.
If you really want to give yourself a stroke, just scroll through some of the comments.

* Currently reading: The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith and Politics in a Post-Religious Right America by Jim Wallis. More on this later. I'm enjoying it.

* Watching: ANTM is back, thank the Lord. I was starting to get too smart with all this reading. I love the hot little tranny. I also finally watched The Constant Gardner and loved it. I've re-added Ralph Fiennes to my "I'd Have Sex With You" list. It was iffy for a while there, but he's redeemed himself.

* Twelve days in and I still haven't spent any money on extras. I went to a "Winedown" at Harvard Book Store tonight and it was a bit like sending an alcoholic to a bar, but I prevailed. YG is out of town, so I went on my own and mingled in my socially awkward way, but yes, I spoke to other humans. Woot!
Still posting pictures to Outfits I Have Enjoyed. My fear of pants is large. Like my butt.

* Thinking: That are many, many reasons for me not to like Sarah Palin, but when I look at the older pictures of her, with the big hair and the way-too-much make up, she reminds me of the Evil Cameltoe. A lot. Frightening.

Monday, September 08, 2008

24 Hours in Manhattan (Or Happy Birthday to Me)

My 32nd birthday came and went in a whirlwind. I had dreams of writing a long post of all things I am grateful for this birthday, but I haven't even gotten around to drafting it yet. That will come later, probably after I've forgotten that I am grateful for them.

It was a great weekend. YG did another super secret birthday trip, and I had no idea where I was going until we passed the exit for the Tappan Zee and I realized we were headed to Manhattan again. I had figured somewhere local like Maine or the Cape, and then when I saw we were going south, I guessed the Jersey shore or Long Island, but it was Manhattan again, and it was perfect.

We stayed at another Kimpton Hotel on Park Avenue, near Grand Central. We walked around a bit in the heat and had drinks at the Roylaton and I got sad for a bit, realizing that my time to live in New York City had probably passed -- that I didn't take advantage of it in my 20s and that I probably won't be taking advantage of it until I'm much older and my imaginary children have gone off to school. I love visiting, but the crowds grate on my nerves and I find myself being bitchy and awful. Luckily, our hotel had the cure. First, they delivered a bottle of wine and cake, followed by a bottle of champagne. YG and I drank our own proseco, purchased at the wine shop in Grand Central, and went to dinner at Artisanal , downing more wine and buckets full of yummy cheese and chocolate fondue.

After dinner, we were roaming the streets of the city and decided to go to the top of the Empire State Building. It was relatively quiet and the humidity had changed into a breezy and warm night, and we stayed up there for a while, looking at the lights and the water and my home state.

The next day we had cake and coffee for breakfast and lounged around in the hotel-provided bathrobes, talking and reading. I just finished Ethan Canin's America, America. YG read it first and loved it, and I devoured it in a week. After the rain started, we walked over to MoMA and took in the photography and several of the Picassos. YG and I have the same philosophy about museums and art in general. We seem to like the idea of them more than actually visiting them, but we picked out the things we wanted to see and limited our time. This was amazing in person, and for a rainy day in NYC, the annoying tourist factor was relatively low.

We walked in the rain along 54th Street. YG had to buy a bigger umbrella because the downpour was relentless and we stopped for drinks at a no-name bar to escape. We met my family -- everyone (my parents, nana, brother, sister, and aunt) -- at Lattanzi for an early dinner, and I opened up my presents and just chatted, as if it were any normal dinner in the city.

We drove home that night because I had my 5K at 8:30 the next morning. It poured the entire way, but we made it. The rain cleared out in time for the race, and I finished in 32:51, the fastest 5K I've ran so far, and a SIX MINUTE improvement over my time last year. I met YG for brunch and we enjoyed the rest of our Cambridge afternoon.

All in all, a pretty great birthday.