Red State Feminist Blog:

God Bless the Men of Iran! (Well, Some of Them!)

Red State Feminists were filled with joy at recent events in Iran! We are sure our readers know there has been a persistent rebellion since the fraudulent elections of the summer. Red State Feminists blogged previously on Neda, Zahra and Shirin and their efforts to bring change to Iran through this revolt.

But now there is cause to cheer the men of Iran (well, at least some of them!). A protester, Majid Tavakoli, was arrested by the government, and they published a photo of him in a chador, claiming he was caught wearing this outfit. Of course, the purpose was to humiliate him in the eyes of the Iranian public, by showing he was trying to flee arrest by dressing as a woman. But then something truly amazing happened . . . men all over Iran who are sympathetic to the revolt starting posting pictures of themselves in the head scarf that is required dress for women in Iran (upon pain of legal punishment if women do not wear it). They did this, of course, to show that Majid was not an object of humiliation at all, and that the other protesters stood with him. Now, that was amazing enough, but then something TRULY TRULY amazing happened . . . .

Here are some of the quotes form the men interviewed for the article by CNN:

"They (Iranian government officials) use a standard cliche to try to humiliate men, as if being a woman were something bad, and thousands of Iranians respond by posting these pictures, showing there is absolutely nothing wrong with women or veiling," said Dabashi, who is a supporter of the arrested protester, Tavakoli.
. . . the group's leaders are "against any kind of forced or imposed hijab." Thus the new protest also speaks to the societal aspect of Iranian women being forced to accept a dress code, according to Dabashi.
"We Iranian men are late doing this," Dabashi said. "If we did this when rusari was forced on those among our sisters who did not wish to wear it 30 years ago, we would have perhaps not been here today."

Nationalist movements, like the 1979 revolution in Iran, need the support of women, but then brutally suppress any hope of greater rights for women once they are in power. Why? Because their hold on power is so tenuous, they need to reinforce "traditional" power structures to gain legitimacy, and that includes the power of men over women. Thus they buy off the men of the society into supporting the regime. But this last quote shows that this time around, MEN ARE NOT AS STUPID. They have begun to realize that a regime that suppresses women WILL SUPPRESS THEM. Thus, the integral linkage between the situation and security of women and the security of ALL in society has FINALLY BEEN SEEN BY THE MEN OF IRAN. This is an incredible breakthrough: I daresay that NO OTHER revolutionary movement has seen this linkage. But the men of Iran--think of it!--have seen it. If--IF--they follow through and understand that their revolution must also be a revolution for women, they will achieve a historical first. And their revolution will stand both legitimate and strong because they have made this linkage.

We would like to reproduce some commentary by Ziba Mir-Hosseini on this subject, which we think is very pertinent:

But in April 2009, 42 women’s groups and 700 individuals, including both secular feminists and religious women from the reformist parties, came together to form a coalition called the Women’s Convergence. Without supporting any individual candidate, the coalition posed pointed questions to the field. They raised two specific demands: first, the ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and second, the revision of Articles 19, 20, 21 and 115 of the Iranian constitution that enshrine gender discrimination. Using the press and new media, they put the candidates on the spot to respond.[1] Women’s demand for legal equality became a central issue in the campaign season. Distinguished filmmaker Rakhshan Bani-Etemad made a documentary, available on the Internet, which registers the voices and demands of these women and the replies of the candidates.[2] Ahmadinejad was, of course, the only candidate not to appear.
The second novelty was the appearance of Zahra Rahnavard at the side of -- and even holding hands with -- her husband, the candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. Though many women politicians have served in the Islamic Republic’s legislature, they had been absent from high-level politics, and the 2009 campaign was the first time that a woman appeared as an equal partner and intellectual match for her man. Rahnavard, in fact, was the more charismatic and articulate of the couple. Her open support for women’s rights and human rights changed the tone of the campaign. She was also blunt in many of her remarks, which inspired the youth of the country. For instance, in Mousavi’s second campaign film, Rahnavard is shown in conversation with the renowned actress, Fatemeh Motamed-Arya. At one point, she observes, “A woman does not even own her own body: If you go to the hospital for an operation, you need the permission of a man.”
The third novelty, in the election aftermath, is the availability on the Internet of letters to male political prisoners -- key reformist figures and people active in Mousavi’s campaign -- from their wives. What makes these often very affecting love letters especially significant is that many of the writers are women from religious backgrounds who now have no qualms about speaking of their physical longing for their men, and question the very justice of the system that has imprisoned them. They are breaking another taboo, challenging the confinement of expressions of sexual desire and love to the private sphere. So the policies of the regime have generated a paradox: Having politicized the sexuality and honor of all Iranian women, previously a private matter for the family and the local community, the regime now finds its own adherents taking the policies’ spirit to an uncomfortable extreme -- by making the personal political, in true feminist fashion.
The fourth, and perhaps the most important, novelty is that the regime has been caught breaking its own taboos, with the revelations of the extensive sexual abuse and rape of detainees of both sexes. Those who are demanding political rights, the government seems to be saying, have no sexual honor. The fate of Taraneh Mousavi is just one of the more egregious examples. These atrocities and the allegations of more have horrified the public -- and many leading clerics. The role played by defeated reformist candidate Mehdi Karroubi in the disclosure of these sexual abuses, his support for the victims and the authorities’ refusal to allow proper investigations have added further to the rumors and led gradually to other victims breaking their silence. One of Karroubi’s witnesses, a male rape victim, refers to his decision to disclose what happened to him as “committing social suicide,” which speaks to the power of the taboo -- but then, once a taboo is broken, it loses its power. On December 16, Britain’s Channel 4 TV broadcast an interview with a refugee member of the Basij, the paramilitary force charged with carrying out the arbitrary detention and abuse of protesters, movingly detailing his horror at what occurred. “I have lost my world,” he says, choking back tears. “I have lost my religion.” The clip has rapidly spread through Iranian cyberspace.[3]

It is gratifying to be present on earth when the very first revolution that links rights for men with rights for women takes place. We dub them honorary "red state feminists"! (We suppose Iran to be a red state. wink May God watch over and bless the Iranian revolutionaries!

iranian man in scarf

December 21, 2009 by Red State Gal

The Humanity of Humans Half a Million Years Ago Exceeds Ours

Red State Feminists love to read the end-of-year lists about best ideas, most momentous events, most memorable personalities, and so forth. There was a list put out by Discover Magazine of the most interesting scientific discoveries of the year. They really were highly interesting, and we recommend the list to you.

However, one of the entries struck with great force, not for reasons of intellect, but for reasons of humanity. It was #82, and we reproduce most of the entry here:

The 530,000 year old deformed skull of a child found in Spain indicates that some early human must have nurtured and cared for disabled members of their tribe. This child, estimated to be 10 years old at the time of death, has a debilitating birth defect called craniosynostosis, in which joints in the skull fuse before the brain has finished growing. The disorder increases pressure in the skull, impairing brain development.

"It is amazing that this child was able to survive until 10 years old. This is the most ancient proof of social care of the handicapped," says Ana Gracia, a paleoanthropologist based in Madrid, who published an analysis of the skull in March in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Many mammals kill burdensome offspring, she points out.

The child, unearthed in the Atapuerca Mountains of Spain, belonged to the species Homo heidelbergensis and was probably part of a small tribe of hunter-gatherers who migrated in response to food and weather. "Survival would have been difficult even for healthy individuals," Gracia says. "The incredible part of this story is that the parents must have looked after this child."

Over a half million years ago, some humans cared for a severely disabled child. Yes, they can rightfully be called human. But can modern man still be considered human? That is a different question, perhaps with a different answer.

The rates of birth of people with Down's Syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and other such diseases, is decreasing dramatically. Identified before birth, they are terminated immediately by parents who cannot imagine caring for such a child. Indeed, these parents believe they are doing the child a favor by terminating it, so that it will not be forced to endure the disease condition.

But perhaps the arrival of such children into our human group is a choice point; a choice point that determines our humanity. Maybe they are our litmus test, and maybe the humans of 530,000 years ago would pass that test better than we would.

Here are the words of a young man, who died at age 23 of cystic fibrosis (full essay here):

The question, then, is this: Is it better to live a life with CF, or not live at all? Would it have been better for my brother, who suffered immensely in his ten years, to have not lived? What of the joy and love he experienced? What of the many, many hearts that were softened and the great humanity so many learned because of his experience? If he, or I, or any of us, cease to wish to live, or wish we had never existed in the first place -- if we feel, as those who presume to know for us, that our lives are to difficult and not worth living, that it is cruel to be "forced" into life with such adversity -- then why do we not take our own lives? I will tell you that there have been times that I have knelt and in tears and supplication begged the Lord to take my life, because I was so tired of the struggle. But never at any time have I thought to myself that I would have been better off not existing, that I would have been better off torn to shreds by the abortionist's tools in my mother's womb, reassembled in a bowl to make sure they got it all, and disposed of in a sanitary manner.

I was particularly affected by this argument at the age of seventeen. A high school honors government class I was in considered the question of abortion. I was quite surprised when one student, who was irreligious and could be counted on for his consistently liberal opinions, was a staunch, outspoken opponent of abortion. His reasons were quite selfish: his mother had almost aborted him. Until this time, I had been quite ambivalent on the subject, thinking that abortion was not a positive social norm, but that government prohibition was bad policy. Now I have realized that it is more than a mere question of public policy or medical regulation, a question of what is best for "society" (whatever that is supposed to mean), but a fundamentally personal question dealing with the most direct and intimate aspects of true humanity.


December 14, 2009 by Red State Gal

A Nobel Prize Winning Mom!!

Red State Feminists were thrilled to see a mom of a 10 year old and a 13 year old win the Nobel Prize for Medicine (along with two others). A photo of Dr. Carol Greider and her beautiful children (on the right):


WHat a remarkable achievement, and how wonderful that these children had a mother who not only does their laundry at 5 AM and makes them school lunches, but also was able to perform pathbreaking research on telomerase! May she and her family live long and prosper!

Red State Feminists have long believed that a society that helps mothers to contribute their talents even while mothering, is the society that will progress most rapidly. Those societies that force women to chose between being mothers and contributing their talents will be impoverished as a result.

So it was no surprise that Dr. Grieder, along with her co-winner Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, have issued a call for greater gender balance in scientific research. They say that as many women as men start out in science but are often unable to advance after having children because of a lack of flexibility. Blackburn told the Associted Press, "The career structure is very much a career structure that has worked for men. But many women, at the stage when they have done their training, really want to think about family . . . and they just are very daunted by the career structure. Not by the science, in which they are doing very well." They go on to suggest parttime research and career breaks would help women keep their careers going during the years in which they are bearing and raising children. Greider mentioned how it was important that women have a greater presence on decisionmaking committees in the firled of medicine for any change to occur.

We concur: we have a workplace and career structure that systematically discriminates against mother. But the problems our societies and nations face are problems that need the perspectives, wisdom, and talents of women--not just men. Indeed, if men were sufficient, we wouldn't have the problems we have now!

So, congratulations once again to Dr. Carol Greider, and may the world heed her words and begin to cultivate the talents and wisdom of its mothers . . .

December 8, 2009 by Red State Gal

Spock's Foreign Policy: Where's Kirk When You Need Him?

Red State Feminists have noted with great disappointment the string of foreign policy failures that characterize the foreign policy of the Obama Administration. The campaign between Obama and McCain was satirized as being like unto a contrast between a Spock and a Kirk. The sensibility of our generation was that the cool, calm, logical Spock would be a much preferable commander-in-chief than the hot-headed, self-absorbed Kirk.

Well, yes, most of us did want to see how things would be different with a Spock instead of a Kirk. So it is very sad to see the Obama Administration tracking the script of the original Star Trek series, which explored in several episodes why Spock was not as great a commander as Kirk. In the TV series, the problem was that Kirk understood the nature of power better than Spock, and that Kirk was willing to go with his gut rather than his head. Where Spock would be calculating probabilities of success, Kirk would be picking what he felt was the best option and running with it. And this strategies included bluff, bluster, and outright deception.

The days of bluff and bluster are over, and we have a rationally-planned, well-dissected foreign policy now. Let's examine just how far a Spock-ian foreign policy has gotten us:

So much for "strategic engagement." What looks beautiful on paper, and prompts consensus among advisors, is actually falling flat on its face. We have nothing but sneers and rage to show for our "engagement." We have given much, and received nothing of value in return. We have been snookered.

Alas, Spock was my favorite character in the original TV series. It makes me very sad that the writers of that show were correct in their analysis: Spock is not the right man for the commander's seat, though hhe would make an excellent advisor.

We can only hope that Obama will change up his foreign policy staff. He needs a Kissinger or Brzezinski to play poker with the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, the Israelis, and the North Koreans. He needs someone like this to play the bad cop to his good cop. There need to be consequences for sneering at the USA.

Spock, apparently, doesn't understand that emotion.

November 24, 2009 by Red State Gal


Republican Feminists and Health Care Reform: Snowe and Collins

Red State Feminists would like to take a moment and applaud the pragmatism, and yes, feminism of the two Republican senators from Maine, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. Yes, we know that health care reform is contentious, and that most Republicans are standing aloof from the issue. Indeed, we ourselves have blogged about the pitfalls of the reform measure as it currently exists.

But our current system is un-American, and by that I mean the insurance industry's discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions, and the discrimination against women. At a minimum, that discrimination must go.

Rather than constructively engage this crucial reform package, most Republicans have shunned it. However, we woudl like to spotlight two courageous Replublican senators--Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins--for their willingness to be part of the solution, and to try and steer the Democratic plan closer to something palatable for those with Red State sensisiblities.

Red State Feminists do not believe that is is coincidence that both of these senators are women. Women have experienced first hand how insurance companies treat them like second-class citizens, charging them higher rates just for being female, and treating things like having ever given birth to a child as a risk factor, or treating domestic abuse as a pre-existing condition for which a woman can be denied coverage. We are also the ones left to pick up the pieces, without support from our society, if a loved one is denied insurance coverage. That these things should exist in the land of the free and the home of the brave is simply unconscionable. Snowe and Collins realize that conservatism is retrogressive if it forgets the women who built this great country. Perhaps only women can truly understand that point. We are deeply grateful that Snowe and Collins are in the Senate to help speak for women in this critical national debate, and deeply grateful that they are engaging the process, rather than heckling it.

And so a salute--Olympia and Susan, we pronounce you honorary Red State Feminists!

November 23, 2009 by Red State Gal

Police Sergeant Kimberly Munley: A Mom Hero

Red State Feminists cheer Police Sergeant Kimberly Munley, a mom among moms, a hero among heroes! We doubt that there is a woman in America whose heart did not leap with joy to hear the story of how Police Sergeant Munley, a petite blonde that stands barely 5 feet tall, mother of a three year old daughter, wife of a soldier, was first on the scene when the Fort Hood crazy opened fire on his fellow soldiers.

According to newspaper reports, as she approached the building, "a soldier emerged from a door with the gunman in pursuit. [Munley] fired, and the shooter wheeled and charged [her]." They exchanged shots--she hit him four times and brought him down. Munley in turn was hit three times.

Munley knew what she was doing. She is an advanced firearms instructor and a civilian member of Fort Hood's special reaction team. According to the papers, "she had trained on "active shooter" scenarios . . . She didn't wait for backup." "Her boss, Chuck Medley, was thankful. 'If an officer had to be close by to respond, Kim Munley is someone we'd want to be there.'"

One of her neighbors, a big, burly soldier, said of her, "We sleep a lot safer knowing she's on the block." She threatened to shoot the burglars trying to enter her house one night. Her friends and colleagues know her as "one tough woman."

God bless her, and keep her safe through the surgery she must undergo for her wounds!

Now we ask you--would society have been better off if Kim Munley hadn't had to chance to offer her skills and courage to Fort Hood because she was a woman? Or because she was a mother? Thank the heavens we live in a society where Kim could be where she was when the soldiers of Fort Hood needed her. And society has been repaid in full by Police Sergeant Kim Munley. We believe she felt that "call beyond home" when a mother knows she must be a mother and also give of her own talents to protect society for her child and for other mothers' children (even if those children are adults, like the ones she saved).

Her bio blurb on Twitter was "I live a good life . . . a hard one, but I go to sleep peaefully at night knowing that I may have made a difference in someone's life." You sure have made a difference to every woman in America, Kim! May your daughter grow up to be as proud of you as all of us are tonight!

November 7, 2009 by Red State Gal

A Woman's Nation: Must-Read Report for Red State Feminists

Red State Feminists feel that the new report, "A Woman's Nation," is a must-read for every woman in America. At the heart of the report is a collection of statistics and survey results that aim to shed light on the changing reality of women's roles in our country. For example,the report notes that almost 45% of households with children under 18 see both parents working. Women are now literally half of the workforce, and mothers are the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in 2/3rds of American families. "Clearly we aren’t going back to a time when women were available full time to be their families’ unpaid caretakers, so we need to find another way forward," says the report. And this means new ways of men and women relating to each other and caring for children, and it means new ways that the American workplace must change to be supportive of families in this new context.

It also means thinking about things that are right before our eyes, but which we may not understand for the huge transformation it represents. For example, the report states, "This transformation also boasts profound implications for communities around the nation. In schools and religious and community organizations, women are now less available to volunteer during the work week and have less time to devote to leading community organizations. The transformation affects our health care system, too, since health care providers have to cope with the fact that there is not likely to be someone to provide free, at-home care for a recovering patient."

And the new realities suggest that the concept of "caregiver discrimination"--paying those who have important family responsibilities less, promoting them less, firing them first, accommodating them least, providing the fewest benefits for them, valuing them least--may be the new battleground for women. The report wants to wake up American businesses to what lies ahead: The reality for all U.S. businesses, though, is clear: "This change is unavoidable and organizations will need to change with it in order to thrive. The movement of women into the labor force has fundamentally altered the environment in which businesses function. The conversation is no longer about whether women will work, but rather how businesses are dealing with both women workers and most workers sharing in at least some home-and-family care responsibilities."

One of the most interesting features of the report is the survey of attitudes. For example, when offered the question, "Forty years ago just over 0ne-third of all workers were women. Today about a half of all workers are women. Has this change been positive or negative for American society?", 77% of women and 75% of men say "positive." When men are asked, "Compared to your father, are you more comfortable with women working outside the home?", 70% of men agree.

There's still some was to go, of course. Michael Kimmel, author of one of the sections, notes,

"While most American men’s participation in family life, that is doing housework and child care, tends to be expressed by two two-word phrases—men “help out” and “pitch in”—men’s share of housework and especially child care has also increased significantly in the past few decades. Men are both more likely to do more housework, and also more likely to hug their children and tell them that they love them, than in previous decades. It took several decades for the norm to be a dual-career couple; it will take several more decades before the norm is also a “dual-carer” couple."

This is where policymaking becomes important. If the state pushes business to provide the kind of support to both men and women that would enable a "dual-carer" and more gender equal relationship to blossom, this could be the source of great good for all of the men, women, and children of the United States. We hope that "A Woman's Nation" is on the reading list of every policymaker at both the national and state levels. It is time to re-envision what the American dream means. It means being able to take good care of one's family while also contributing to the world that we live in. That is the dream of both men and women, and our societal organization must not be allowed to stand in our way. If we have to rethink that organization to achieve our dreams, then by all means, let's start now!

October 28, 2009 by Red State Gal

Threatened with Jail for Wanting a VBAC??

Red State Feminists are appalled that a hospital in Arizona threatened a woman with a court order to undergo a C-section in the face of her determination to have her second VBAC! If you are not aware of what is happening in this country, you should know that now fully half of US hospitals refuse to do VBACS--vaginal birth after C-section--on the grounds that there is an elevated risk to mother and child, though that risk is less than 1%. And you may also not be aware that no OB-GYN will agree to do more than 4 C-sections, so once you've had that first one, your ability to have more than 4 births is taken away from you completely. And, of course, the US has the highest rate of C-section among OECD countries: over 30% C-section rate.

This particular story is especially alarming. Joy Szabo had two children, and then her third by C-section, and then her fourth by VBAC. Pregnant with her fifth child, her hospital in Page, Arizona threatened to get a court order to force her to undergo a C-section! Szabo, rightly upset, will temporarily move to Phoenix around the time of the baby's birth in order to have a VBAC at the hospital there. Szabo's husband has to take care of the 4 children at home, while trying to hold down a job. Ridiculous? Absolutely. Against her civil rights? It ought to be! Apparently in the US, the voice of a woman in her own maternity care has been silenced. The doctors now rule our bodies, relying on courts to impose their will on us!

This is an issue that we hope will unite feminists of all colors and stripes. Our bodies are our own, even when pregnant, and we have the right to refuse to submit to a doctor-planned C-section if we believe the risks outweigh the gains. When womeni n the USA lost the right to have a VBAC, and when the C-section rate is now so high as to be obscene, you know that women are not being heard--they being herded.

We hope that Representative Carolyn Maloney and others in Congress will begin the legislative process to forbid this type of harassment of women. Thank goodness we have women in the House and the Senate, or this issue would never even hit the radar screens of our male politicians!

October 18, 2009 by Red State Gal

True Heroines: Jennifer Schuett and Elizabeth Smart

Red State Feminists would like to pay tribute to two heroines: Jennifer Schuett of Texas and Elizabeth Smart of Utah. Both women were abducted as children, horribly abused and raped. Moreover, Jennifer's throat was slit by her assailant, and she was left for dead. Fortunately they caught both perps: in Elizabeth's case, after 9 months of Elizabeth's captivity, and in Jennifer's case, 19 years after she was brutalized.

Both young women showed incredible valor. Jennifer never gave up hope that her assailant would be caught; Elizabeth was recently given the chance to testify against her assailant, demanding that he be forced to hear her testimony against him.

But the greatest victory of all is that both young women refused to allow their assailants any more power over them. As Schuett eloquently put it, "This event in my life was a tragic one," she said. "But today, 19 years later, I stand here and want you all to know that I am OK. I am not a victim, but instead, victorious." She continued, "I hope that my case will remain as a reminder to all victims of violent crime to never give up hope ... With determination and by using your voice to speak out, you are capable of anything."

Theirs is an uncommon valor, deserving of the highest admiration.

Red State Feminists hope their attackers are put to death for their crimes. We see nno reason why men who are capable of so horribly abusing children should be allowed to live. We urge state and federal legislators to consider such crimes as deserving of capital punishment. The intended destruction of children is a crime against all of humanity.

October 14, 2009 by Red State Gal

The End of the Embryonic Stem Cell Debate: Human Fat

Red State Feminists have been deeply troubled by embryonic stem cell research and use, as have many conservatives. Embryos are not trash. They may or may not be human beings, but they are certainly not refuse. Of course, this also leads us to be very leery of a fertility industry that creates humdreds of thousands of embryos that no one wants. But that's a discussion for another day.

So we are very please to report a wonderful new scientific finding that completely obviates the need for embryonic stem cells in the first place. Human fat cells can be fairly easily turned into pluripotent stem cells--stem cells that can turn into any type of tissue! Within two weeks of harvesting fat cells through liposuction, the cells can be reprogrammed into these versatile stem cells.

Of course, the idea that by having liposuction, one could cure disease--especially one's own disease--is a happy two-fer. The use of one's own cells to create therapeutic stem cells means that recipients would not have to face the awful and life-long attachment to anti-rejection drugs. This is truly a heaven-sent answer to the prayers of many, in our opinion. We all see the importance of stem cell research, but now we can pursue that research without having to sacrifice our moral principles. Now, that's a happy ending for everyone!

September 30, 2009 by Red State Gal

The Pineapple as a Christian Symbol

Red State Feminists welcome all conservative feminists, no matter their religion (or irreligion). But in the United States, where we are based, conservative feminism is, for the most part, identified with Red States where the population may be more adherent to Christianity. So for those of our readers finding themselves to be Christian conservative feminists, this post is for you!

Years ago I visited Colonial Williamsburg, and noticed, as many do, the plethora of pineapple decorations that seemed characteristic of colonial days in America. At first, we decided it must be because the pineapple was pretty exotic back then to those who lived on the east coast, and so offering a pineapple to guests was a symbol of hearty hospitality. I enjoyed Williamsburg so much that I decided to pay for membership, and for a year I received their magazine.

In one of the issues for that year, I found a fascinating article on the pineapple as a symbol in colonial times. The article said, among other things, "Each pineapple plant gives its own life to produce a single fruit, and since 1681, the pineapple has been recognized as a Christian symbol." Very taken with that idea of the pineapple as the "only begotten," I began to rethink what I had seen at Colonial Williamsburg the year before. Yes, perhaps part of the symbolism was hospitality, but at the same time, those who decorated their houses with representations of pineapples were expressing something else--they were expressing that they were believing Christians.

This was very appealing to me. Never being much into crosses or fish (though I certainly don't mind that others have tastes in those directions), the idea of proclaiming my faith through the representation of this fruit, especially since the symbol was not as well known and thus was not as "in your face" as other symbols, was one I entertained. My first pineapple was a little glass one from Hawaii that I kept on my dresser. But then we found a very nice pineapple welcome plaque for our door, and have hung it there ever since. (And if you google "pineapple welcome plaque," you'll get a bunch of nice designs.)

Interestingly, the Colonial Williamsburg website, which had this article from its magazine on the site, had at one point removed it, but now it is back onsite. Hmmm. Did they remove it thinking it would be politically incorrect to have any of its commonplace symbols associated with faith? I hope not, but that episode remains mysterious.

Maybe this Christmas, think of putting out a pineapple . . . could lead to some good conversations with friends and family about the true meaning of that symbol.

September 26, 2009 by Red State Gal

Nuts to the Ohio Supreme Court!

Red State Feminists are sure that if you are alive, a woman, and living in the United States that you have heard what fools the Ohio Supreme Court just made of themselves. The Court just ruled that a female employee who needed breastfeeding breaks to pump milk for her 4 month old baby was not discriminated against when she was fired for pumping every 3 hours instead of every 5 hours. This alone shows that none of the judges on the Court had ever breastfed a newborn baby: if they had, they would know the suffering and pain involved in waiting 5 hours to pump, not to mention the risk of mastitis. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment!

The article goes on:

[LaNisa] Allen felt desperate and she decided to take matters into her own hands. “I watched people for three or four weeks take bathroom breaks and smoke breaks but no one ever said anything to them about that so I don’t see what the problem was with me taking the same 15 minute break,” said Allen. She started going to the bathroom an hour earlier, she asked her team leader to cover for her and took about fifteen minutes to pump. After two weeks on this schedule a supervisor walked into the bathroom and confronted her. “I said just give me 15 minutes, I will work through my lunch, I said. But I need to come to the bathroom earlier to pump my milk because it was hurting my back so bad,” according to Allen. That same day Allen was fired.

The company in question is Totes/Isotoner, whose products are mainly designed for women, if you can believe that!

Companies can be stupid and uncaring, but a state supreme court should know better. This is blatant gender discrimination, and it is discrimination on the basis of parenthood as well. How an firing a woman because she is nursing not be a form of gender discrimination? It boggles the mind, especially when our Surgeon General is trying to raise rate of breastfeeding in the country as an important public health measure designed to reduce health care costs.

For years, Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York has been trying to get her Breastfeeding Promotion Act even heard in the House of Representatives.(This year it has been renamed the Safe and Effective Breast Pumps Act (HR 2819), and there's a Senate version sponsored by Senator Jeff Merkley (S 1244), but yes, it does make breastfeeding a civil right guaranteed by the federal government.) In the 4 or 5 years that Maloney has sponsored this bill, it hasn't ever made it out of committee--not even in a year when health care reform is on everyone's list. There is no stronger piece of health care legislation that can be passed that Maloney's bill, because the health benefits of breastfeeding are so overwhelming. Breastfed infants are less likely as adults to be obese, less likely to get diabetes, less likely to get rheumatoid arthitis . . . . I mean, really, can we talk here? If you want to promote good health, promotion of breastfeeding is a no-brainer. Maloney's bill would also protect the rights of women to pump during work hours, and offer tax incentives for businesses to accommodate women in so doing.

This is legislation that makes a lot of sense--much more sense than the judges of the Ohio Supreme Court, to whom we say, "Nuts to you!"

September 18, 2009 by Red State Gal

Technical Intermission


A Missing Element in Health Care Reform

Red State Feminists have been watching the health care reform debate closely. While we do not subscribe to some of more hysterical complaints about reform plans, we also do not believe that all the consequences of reform are known, nor do we believe that all of the consequences will be benign. On balance, some reform is better than none. But the purpose of this blogpost is to discuss one of those possible areas of malignant unintended consequences.

The health care reform debate has overlooked some critical areas. One missing element, which we believe must be part of the reform debate, is the noxious entanglement of the government with health care businesses, in particular with big pharmaceutical companies. Despite headlines to the contrary, the FDA is the handmaiden of these companies. Yes, the FDA is forced to act in egregious cases, such as when it slapped Pfizer with an over $2 billion fine. But it winks at many more acts of misconduct than it constrains.

Indeed, what Pfizer was accused of was offering financial inducements to doctors to prescribe more and more of its drugs, without any evidence that they would be effective, in "off-label use," meaning for conditions the drug has not been tests for in clinical trials. The insidiousness of their strategems--which apparently extended to the influencing of medical research, in addition to the influencing of doctors--is an example of an entanglement that must be addressed in the health care reform debate.

Why? Because current visions of health care reform advocate some type of credentialed panel that will establish what are the safest and most effective treatments for disease. This is meant as a way to curb costs, and the vision is laudable. But in the context of huge pharmaceutical companies unduly influencing what is considered good care and even influencing what results are found from research, and whether negative research ever gets published--this is a recipe for disaster. We may, unwittingly, be putting the power of the federal government at the disposal of the big pharmaceutical companies--to the detriment of our health and, yes, our liberty.

Let's see how this is so with an example, taken from the July 21, 2009 Science Times section of the New York Times. Andrew Pollack writes an article entitled, "Considering Longer Chemotherapy." Typical cancer care involves chemotherapy until the cancer is in remission. However, it is now being debated whether chemotherapy could be considered a "maintenance therapy," where the patients is on chemotherapy for years, ostensibly to prevent a relapse. Here we quote from the article:

Dr. Lawrence H. Einhorn, a professor at Indiana University, said that much of the push for maintenance therapy was coming from pharamceutical companies, which want their drugs 'to be used as early as possible for as long as possible . . . "This is a game-changing opportunity for us, Brian P. Gill, vice president for corporate communications at Celgene, which is testing its drug Revlimid for maintenance treatment of multiple myeloma, told investors at a conference in March.

Would you like to know the costs of some of these drugs which are now being approved for maintenance therapy? Alimta, $4000 per infusion given once every three weeks; Rituxan, $30,000 per yearl Revlimid, $6000 per month. But you say, if it's effective, shouldn't this be what doctors prescribe? The studies have shown marginal effectiveness at best, with the best results coming from trials sponsored and organized by the pharmaceutical companies themselves. The question becomes, if cost-effective standards of care are going to be established by the government, with insurance companies able to balk at reimbursing doctors for care that is not cost-effective, can we please ask whether it is big pharma that will be the major player in telling us what cost-effective therapy is? And does anyone in their right mind believe that care will be cost-effective for anyone but the pharmaceutical companies?

And what will happen to doctors who believe that the course advocated by big pharma through its new "governmental arm" is wrong? They will not be reimbursed, for one. And two, eventually the government will ask why these incompetent doctors are even allowed to practice medicine. Big pharma will one day determine which doctors can practice--based on how much money big pharma can make off them.

Death panels? That's a red herring. The real action is in what we are NOT discussing--whether businesses such as big pharma will, under the reformed health care system, be allowed to determine standards of care, reimbursement of doctors, and even whether doctors who buck their pressure will be allowed to practice medicine. And, no, it is not hyperbolic to assert that this will be an unforeseen abrogation of our liberty, the likes of which has not been even imagined by the authors of health care reform.

For all of our sakes, health care reform must include the removal of the tentacles by which health care businesses subvert standards of care in this country to their own financial gain.

September 6, 2009 by Red State Gal

Forced Divorce in Saudi Arabia--A New Low for the Kingdom

Red State Feminists are appalled to hear of forced divorce in the Saudi kingdom. No, we are not referring to the forced divorce of a woman by her husband using the triple talaq--though that is certainly bad enough. In the kingdom that gave us lashing of rape victims and marriage of 7 year old girls to men in their 40s and 50s, and rampant forced marriage of women and girls, we now get the forced divorce of happily married women by their natal family. Lest you think we are making this up, we quote extensively from the following article by Equality Now, a US NGO that is praiseworthy for its efforts to bring the worst abuses of women all over the world to light:

Fatima Bent Suleiman Al Azzaz married Mansour Ben Attieh El Timani in 2003 with the consent of her father (her guardian) as required in Saudi Arabia. The couple was happily married and had two children, a girl Nuha, born in May 2004, and a boy Suleiman, born in November 2005. In 2004, after the death of her father, Fatima’s half brothers filed a petition in the General Court of Jof asking the judge to divorce her from Mansour on grounds of incompatibility, because Mansour was from an “inferior background” and the marriage “affected and ruined the family reputation.”

The judge who applied his interpretation of Islamic law (shariah) agreed, stating that “if a woman is married to an incompatible person, the woman or guardians who are not happy with the marriage may have it invalidated.” The judge stated that all relatives of a woman have the right to have her divorced specifying that “such a choice belongs to distant relatives even if closer ones accept the marriage, and even if the wife is content with it, owing to the resulting sense of disgrace.” The judge decreed Fatima and Mansour’s divorce, even though this was against their will, and assigned one of Fatima’s half brothers as her legal guardian. On appeal, the Cassation Court, the highest court in Saudi Arabia, upheld this decision.

Fatima refused to recognize the decision of the court and, as a result, was sent to prison for nine months along with her infant son, despite the fact that she had not committed any crime under Saudi law and there was no legal basis for her imprisonment. After being released from prison in April 2007, Fatima and her son went to live in an orphanage run by the Ministry of Social Welfare, because she refused to be released into the custody of her new legal guardian, her half brother, and, as a woman, custom dictates that she cannot live by herself. Fatima is largely confined to the orphanage with her child and is unable to move around freely. Mansour also refused to sign the divorce papers and consequently has been “blacklisted” by the Saudi government. He has not been able to renew his passport, identity card or driver’s license or to update his bank account. He is constantly moving, along with his four year old daughter, because he is “wanted” by the Saudi government. As a result, he has not been able to keep his job at a computer company, and his ability to support himself and his family has been compromised. He depends on relatives and donations to support himself and his daughter.

The judgment of the Cassation Court can only be overturned by the King of Saudi Arabia. Fatima, now 35 years old, has stressed that she will not give up hope of being reunited with her daughter and husband. She believes that her inheritance from her father is one of the reasons her half-brothers petitioned for her divorce, allowing them through legal guardianship to retain control over her property.

THe Equality Now article goes on to point out that this is not an isolated instance at all, and that in fact a significant number of married women have been divorced from their husbands against their will by relatives in their immediate or extended families. In almost all cases, this has resulted in mothers being torn from their children, as children who are not nursing infants will stay with the father's family.

We cannot help but hope that the Saudi king has some shred of humanity in him, and will overturn this decision, as he has overturned a few other obscene decisions concerning women that shocked the sensibilities of the world. More power to Equality Now for its work to bring these evil things to light! As cockroaches scurry from the light, may those who tore this woman from her toddler daughter and her husband scurry for cover, and abandon their heartless decision!

The world will never be safe until it is safe for women. Every blow against the safety of women is a blow against peace in this world.

August 29, 2009 by Red State Gal

You Gotta Read this Week's Sunday New York Times Magazine!

Red State Feminists are delighted that this week's (29 August 2009) New York Times Magazine is devoted to the subject of women's rights world wide! Almost every article is devoted to the idea that improving women's physical, economic, and educational situation is the key to most of the worst ills that plague humanity. Those ills include destruction of natural resources, over-population, extremism, economic stagnation, a huge burden of morbidity and mortality, epidemics such as AIDS, etc etc etc.

The issue includes many articles, a few of which we will mention here. One interview is with Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, president of Liberia. Here is an excerpt:

Q: If women ran the world, would wars still exist?

A: No. It would be a better, safer, and more productive world. A woman would bring an extra dimension to that task--and that's s sensitivity to humankind. It comes from being a mother.

Q: But if women had power, they would be more likely to acquire the negative traits that power breeds, like selfishmness and territorialism.

A: It would take a very long term of women absolutely in power to get to the place where they became men.

There is also an interview with Hillary Clinton, who is asked how she is pursuing the vision of women's rights in her role as Secretary of State. And there is an awesome article by journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn outlining a Women's Manifesto--the idea that turning our attention to the problems that plague women the most is the most effective route to clearing up some of the major problems of our world. They recommend a global fund for women's education, measures to reduce the obscene maternal mortality rates in various countries, encouragement of greater rights of land ownership and inheritance for women, and other practical matters.

Probably the most poignent article is the last vignette, in the feature called "Lives." The author interviews a 16 year old orphan who lives as a truck stop prostitute in Swaziland. She is HIV-positive. Mbali said to the interviewer, "I have nowhere to sleep unless I find a man. Sometimes I don't have money and food for two days. A man without a condom will pay more, so obviously I say OK because I need money. I am so tired. These men are so rough." When asked what she needed most, Mbali says, "Someplace safe. Someplace to be a girl. Someplace where I won't have to have sex with men anymore."

A safe place to be a girl. That's all she wants. Why is that so much to ask in this world? When there are places where it is safe to be a girl, that place will know peace, prosperity and security. Could this be the century?

August 23, 2009 by Red State Gal

Red State Feminists Support the Anthony/Douglass Bill

Red State Feminists have been alarmed at recent reports that sex selective abortion is taking place in Sweden, and in immigrant enclaves within the United States itself (see our 14 May 2009 post). We have called for US legislation banning sex-selective abortion. We are pleased to report that a bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives to do this. It is called H.R. 1822, The Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2009, and is sponsored by Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ), with 32 co-sponsors in the House. It was introduced on 31 March 2009, and has been sent to committee to study.

The bottom line of the bill is expressed in this language:

‘Sec. 249. Discrimination against the unborn on the basis of race or sex
‘(a) In General- Whoever knowingly--
‘(1) performs an abortion knowing that such abortion is sought based on the sex, gender, color or race of the child, or the race of a parent of that child;
‘(2) uses force or the threat of force to intentionally injure or intimidate any person for the purpose of coercing a sex-selection or race-selection abortion; or
‘(3) solicits or accepts funds for the purpose of financing a sex-selection abortion or a race-selection abortion;
or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

However, the more inspiring portions of the bill precede this mandating of punishment for those who engage in sex-selective abortion. For example, here is one paragraph worth citing in its entirety:

(J) Countries with longstanding experience with sex-selection abortion--such as the Republic of India, the United Kingdom, and the People’s Republic of China--have enacted complete bans on sex-selection abortion, and have steadily continued to strengthen prohibitions and penalties. The United States, by contrast, has no law in place to restrict sex-selection abortion, establishing the United States as affording less protection from sex-based feticide than the Republic of India or the People’s Republic of China, whose recent practices of sex-selection abortion were vehemently and repeatedly condemned by United States congressional resolutions and by the United States’ Ambassador to the Commission on the Status of Women. Public statements from within the medical community reveal that citizens of other countries come to the United States for sex-selection procedures that would be criminal in their country of origin. Because the United States permits abortion on the basis of sex, the United States may effectively function as a ‘safe haven’ for those who seek to have American physicians do what would otherwise be criminal in their home countries--a sex-selection abortion, most likely late-term.

Amen to that! America routinely tells China and India how deplorable their sex ratio situation is, but we ourselves not only have no law against sex-selective abortions (as these countries do), but Chinese and Indian families wishing to have a sex-selective abortion or engage in prenatal sex selection come HERE to get it done!

Three states--Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma--have outlawed sex-selective abortion. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists condemns sex-selective abortion. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine condemns it. The United Nations condemns it. A March 2006 Zogby poll showed that 86% of Americans support a ban on sex-selective abortion in the United States (see question 17). Ironically, it seems that it is the advanced nations, such as Sweden and the United States, that lag behind all others in outlawing this horrific practice.

We urge all Red State Feminists to write their Congressmen and support The Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Antidiscrimination Act. Furthermore, we call upon Red State Feminists outside of Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma, to write their state legislators asking the sex-selective abortion be banned in their state. This should be one issue that all American women--and men--should be able to support!

August 12, 2009 by Red State Gal

The Obama Administration's New Asylum Policy for Women

Red State Feminists have noted with both satisfaction and dismay the new asylum policy for women announced by the Obama Administration. For the first time, it opens the way for women--as specifically women--to request asylum due to severe domestic abuse and toleration of that abuse in their country of origin. Previous to this time, violence against women--though oftentimes worse than violence against political prisoners--was not deemed anything important. Apparently, violence against women was conceptualized as simply "natural." Why would one grant asylum on the basis of something so natural?

Kudos to the Obama Administration for questioning that logic. These women are being severely abused just because they are women. Indeed, there is a "gendercide" at place in the world, with over 163 million women missing from the world's population. It is time to recognize that gendercide is as profound an evil as genocide. And that means recognizing it as the basis for an asylum request.

However, there are a few sources of dismay. First, the policy is said not to apply to women attempting to flee from being coerced into female gential mutilation (FGM)! How on earth could FGM not qualify as a grounds for an asylum request? Being beaten is awful--having your clitoris sliced off and your labia sewn together is at least as awful, if not more so. If something like FGM were practiced on men, we bet that it would be the basis for an asylum request. We call upon the Obama Administration to explain this seemingly inexplicable exclusion.

Second, even the most feminist among us (and Red State Feminists are feminists indeed) cannot help but worry about the misuse of this new policy by the very people who abuse women. Will perps abuse their wives so that the wife can get asylum--and then bring the abuser over? Will governments now feel that women who complain against domestic violence need no support within their country, because the US will grant them asylum instead? Indeed, will there be women who will lie about the abuse to move to the US for economic reasons? We'd like to see the Obama Administration detail what kind of oversight of these asylum petitions will be put into place, and what guidelines the overseers will use.

So, both kudos and questions for the Obama Administration on this one . . .

July 18, 2009 by Red State Gal

Afghan Shi'ite Marriage Law, Part 3

You may remember that Red State Feminists blogged several weeks ago about an atrocious new marriage law for Shi'ites in Afghanistan that required wives to have sex with their husbands a minimum of every fourth day, unless the woman was sick or the husband travelling, and also mandated other niceties such as requiring the wife to have the permission of the husband before she could step outside of her house. Astoundingly, President Hamid Karzai signed it into law! That, of course, is when the stuff hit the fan. In addition to third party pressure from all sorts of inter-governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, talking heads, feminists of all stripes, etc., there were sizeable and impressive demonstrations in Kabul to protest this law, even though it would only apply to less than 20% of the population. Karzai agreed to review the law, stating that he hadn't actually read the version he had signed!

We are pleased to report that the pressure had the desired effect: a new marriage law for Shi'ites has been drafted and has the support of Karzai. The parliament is expected to pass it (we will keep watching until it does). This law does not mention sex at all, thank goodness, and does not state that a wife needs her husband's permission to step outside of her house. It does require that she fulfill housework requirements that she agreed to in the engagement contract. In addition, the new law states that "a woman is the owner of her property and can use her property without the permission of her husband."

Now, no one can pretend that Afghanistan is a haven for women. Actual practice defies law in many--perhaps most--cases. Girls are married off as young as 6 or 7 to much older men to pay off family "debts." Girls are still routinely denied an education--or worse, have acid thrown in their faces if they attempt to get an education. In one study, 84% of Afghan women say they have suffered domestic abuse.

But the fact that international pressure changed this law offers slight hope. Hope that international shaming can sometimes work. Hope that Afghans themselves are outraged at some of the excesses to which women are prey in their society. Hope that political leaders in Afghanistan realize they will pay dearly if they brazenly sell out the women of their country.

So let's call it a good day!

July 11, 2009 by Red State Gal

Happy 4th of July! Wishing the Best for the USA

Red State Feminists offer their sincere birthday wishes to our country, which today is 233 years old! We are grateful to live in this great country, founded on ideals which are timeless and universal, though oh so rare in human history. Notions like men and women should be able to choose their life course and their religious beliefs, that they should be able to choose leaders who will represent their views in government, that their government should be constrained in its power to affect their lives.

Yet this ideal has always had an Achilles heel. It had to, and so this vulnerability cannot be lamented. This Achilles heel was that such a form of government works when the majority of people are committed to behaving uprightly: when most men and women are honest, and when they think about others in addition to themselves, and especially when they think of how their actions now will affect the lives of their children and grandchildren. The problem is when an increasing number of people do not choose to behave uprightly. As one pundit joked, "Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner." There's no major problem when it's two sheep and one wolf--though we hope the sheep have means to defend themselves. No, the problem is the relative proportion of wolves to sheep.

It also matter whether it is wolves or sheep who occupy the most powerful positions in business, media, and government in our society. Several highly-placed wolves can out-influence a much larger number of sheep. Unfortunately, wolves are highly attracted to positions of power, whereas sheep are not as attracted to such. Some have also opined that certain positions of power turn anyone into a wolf, even one who had been a sheep.

Sometimes here at Red State Feminists, we wonder if the USA has reached a tipping point in this regard. We wonder when we hear the national debt is so large that our country owes $37,000 for every man, woman, and child in America. How will this affect future generations? We wonder at the parade of greed and rapacity at the highest levels of business in our nation, and the role this played in the global economic recession. We stand amazed at the brazenness of the media in pandering to the worst of us, and in portraying those who do not toe the ideological line of pro-choice, pro-same-sex marriage as troglodytes. We actually fear when statements like, "it depends on what your definition of "is" is," are comprehensible to most of us. We are horrified to learn that some 70% of young adult men in our country admit to viewing online pornography "at least" once a week.

Will we one day look back, when we reach the end of our lives, and say to our children, "We were there when things began to tip and slide. We were there when American began to fall"? Maybe. But at least we will be able to add, "And I raised my voice, even though I was a nobody, to try and help turn things around. I said things that were uncomfortable or got me branded as a neanderthal--but I said them nonetheless because they were true and they were important."

There are some who say the term "red state feminist" is an oxymoron. But we know better. We know we are one of those small campfires that can light the darkness and warm the night, at least for those nearby. And who knows? Maybe the tipping won't be as far or at least not as fast because of these small campfires around the nation.

Dearest America, happy 233rd! Long may your land be bright with freedom's holy light, protected by Thy might, Great God our King!

July 4, 2009 by Red State Gal

Neda, Zahra, Nafiseh, Shirin: Women as Agents of Change in Iran

The hearts of Red State Feminists are rapt and filled with emotion viewing the unfolding events in Iran. It reminds us of those days in November 1989, almost exactly 20 years ago, when the Berlin Wall fell because of sheer people power. Our prayers go with the Iranian people as they try to take their country and their lives back from those who would rule both with authoritarianism and the fist.

One of the most things we have seen in the Iranian situation is the importance of the role of women in bringing about a sense that change was coming, that change was in the air. Shirin Ebadi winning the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts as a human rights lawyer and women's advocate in Iran; Zahra Rahnavard, wife of Hossein Moussavi, holding his hand in public at their rallies, speaking herself at those rallies, unashamed of her doctorate in political science. Of course, our hearts are riven with grief for Neda's family, but her name is now on the lips of all who fight the regime, the first martyr--rightfully a woman, for this regime has martyred women first and foremost.

Back in 2006--three full years ago--the women sent up smoke signals that change was coming. The women of Iran did this with their Million Women Signature Petition, calling for increased rights for women in Iran. Among their aims: "to change existing discriminatory and unequal laws, such as blood money, inheritance, and testimony and are seeking equality for women in their rights to divorce, child custody, nationality, travel abroad, and are demanding an abolishment of polygamy, not only does this proposed legislation not adhere to these demands, but reverses existing rights from women. This legislation has not only in its totality disregarded the dignity and humanity of women, but in Article 23 it proposes to eliminate a women’s say in her husbands right to take on a second wife, a right currently accorded to women by law."

Their organizers were arrested, of course, even though all they sought was to collect one million signatures of Iranian women. One of them is Nafiseh Azad. Her crime? "Actions against national security"! Apparently, collecting the signatures of women who object to their second class status under the law harms national security!

Here are some interesting quotes about women's involvement in the election demonstrations:

"I see lots of girls and women in these demonstrations," she said. "They are all angry, ready to explode, scream out and let the world hear their voice. I want the world to know that as a woman in this country, I have no freedom."

"This regime is against all humanity, more specifically against all women,"

"Women are saying they are a force to be reckoned with."

"Iranian women [are] canaries of the mind -- barometers of how free society is."

Beautifully said--women are the canaries in any society . . . if we will but choose to hear them. Iranian women even pressed the presidential candidates to ratify CEDAW, and Moussavi promised he would appoint women as members of his cabinet if elected, and would work to change laws that hurt women. There were some in Iranian society, it seems, who recognized that if the canaries were harmed, the entire society would be harmed.

Neda, Zahra, Shirin, Nafiseh, and the millions of others like them are true heroines. We owe them our admiration, our prayers, our support. SIGN THEIR PETITION.

June 21, 2009 by Red State Gal

Is It Really Women Versus Motherhood?

Red State Feminists sometimes feel like banging their collective heads against a wall when reading simplistic feminist tracts. Take, for example, the following excerpt from a piece by Dutch feminist economist Heleen Mees, which argues for "breaking the male cartel in the workplace":

In part it is the classic insider/ outsider tale. Male dominance in the marketplace works like a cartel: it impedes proper functioning of the market by barring talented women from top jobs. The old boy network should be busted like any other cartel. But women, too, must adjust. Top jobs re-quire more than two workdays a week and do not coincide with school hours. Assuming the responsibilities that have long belonged to men requires that women let go of the tasks that have prevented them from advancing.

Now, Red State Feminists have good reason to seek greater workplace representation of women: 1) it reduces the economic vulnerability of women and allows for greater numbers of marriages to be placed on a footing of gender equality, which brings greater levels of happiness for couples and their children, and 2) greater representation of women in the public sphere, including the workplace, allows for greater voice for women's priorities and concerns, and greater societal valuation of the perspectives of women. But let's take a good look at what Mees is arguing for: she is arguing that women must "let go of the tasks that have prevented them from advancing," including part-time work and work hours geared around the time when their children are in school.

Indeed, Mees has written a book called, No More Part-Time Feminism!. For women to bust the male cartel in the workplace, apparently we women must shed our shackles--we must shed our children. We must farm them out to others to raise, or we will never be able to compete with the men on an even playing field.

Mind you, this book was not written in 1972. This book was written in 2008. In Europe. Mees calls her work part of the "third generation" of feminism.

Let us put this bluntly--this is stupid OLD feminism, thinking inside the box that is the prison men have made for us. This is acquiescence in the valorization of all that is male--including being "unencumbered" by others who might need us, such as children, or the elderly, or the sick. This is not the new wave of feminism--this is the defeat of feminism, writ for a new generation.

The new feminism of the 21st century would stand up and challenge making male norms of work and male-oriented workplaces the norm for all mankind. We would use law and lawsuits to develop concepts such as discrimination based on parental status. We would end pregnancy discrimination int he workplace. We would create a new type of work/family balance that did not place the burdens and the vulnerabilities disproprotionately on the backs of mothers. We would make off-site work the norm; we would make flexibile hours the norm; we would make proportional benefits for part-time labor the norm. These and other initiatives have been championed by those who understand that the true next wave of feminism must DE-NORM THE MALE in every sphere of public life. The work of Joan S. Williams is highly recommended reading for those who want to take up this new challenge.

Freedom is being responsible for the children who are dependent upon us. Yes, that's what we said: freedom is not autonomy, freedom is seizing responsibility and making it our own. Now that is the new wave of feminism, and it is clear that Mees has missed that boat. Red State Feminism follows this new wave, seeing the de-norming of the male as a chance to both fulfill our responsibilities as mothers, while also moving the cause of women ahead in the workplace, in the government, and in all the councils of humanity. The world will never be whole until the perspectives of women and the perspectives of men carry equal weight in all the councils of humanity--from the household to the highest levels of business and government. But we can never accomplish this if we keep male life, male values, male perspectives, male priorities as the norm.

So, no, we aren't going to shed our children to get ahead. No way! We are going to more equally share parenting with the father of our children, and we are going to challenge this male-designed "box." We are going to get ahead, children in tow!

June 13, 2009 by Red State Gal

President Obama's Cairo Speech--and Women

Red State Feminists are very impressed with the speech given today by President Barack Obama in Cairo, addressing American-Muslim relations. It was an important and good-hearted speech, and we hope you will read it in its entirety.

We were also pleased to see that among the issues confronting this relationship, Obama mentioned the particular issue of women's rights. Here is what he said:

The sixth issue -- the sixth issue that I want to address is women's rights. (Applause.) I know –- I know -- and you can tell from this audience, that there is a healthy debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. (Applause.) And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well educated are far more likely to be prosperous. Now, let me be clear: Issues of women's equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, we've seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world. I am convinced that our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons. (Applause.) Our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity -- men and women -- to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. And that is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.

These are sincere and helpful words. However, they do not touch on the most important issues. Head scarves and education are not where the action is, Mr. President. 97% of Egyptian women have undergone female gential mutilation--why did you not mention that as a human rights issue on a par with education? What about Koranic-sanctioned polygamy in most of the Muslim world? What about issues of child custody, where in most of the Muslim world a mother must relinquish custody of her sons when they are weaned, and their daughters when they hit puberty? What about the fact that most Muslim women are only entitled to half the inheritance of their brothers? What about the fact that a man can say "talaq" three times and divorce his wife, but a woman must usually wait many years and must prove abandonment? What about the fact that in most of the Muslim world, a woman literally has no say in whom she marries? And that virtually no Muslim countries have a law against marital rape, because they do not think that forced sex within marriage is inappropriate? Or that domestic violence is considered normal, and is not punished by law?

As you can see, Mr. President, the issues are much, much deeper and more visceral than you indicate. Where does America stand on these issues? CEDAW is very plain as to the basic minimum human rights that must be accorded every woman--we wish the President had mentioned that fact.

June 4, 2009 by Red State Gal

The Notre Dame Moment in the Abortion Debate

Red State Feminists note the interesting confluence of two news stories this week. A Gallup poll released 15 May 2009 notes that for the first time since Gallup began asking the question 15 years ago, a (bare) majority of Americans are more or less pro-life. Fifty-one percent of the sample of Americans stated that abortion should either never be legal or be legal only under certain restricted circumstances. What was most dramatic was the drop in those saying the abortion should be legal in all or most cases: from 50 percent down to 42 percent in the space of only one year. The media reports that the Pew Research Center found a similarly dramatic drop from 54 perent saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases, down to 46 percent in less than a year's time. Now, polls typically have smaple sizes in the low thousands, but nevertheless, this is a new wind blowing across America.

To what to attribute it? I am sure there are many reasons, but I like to think about it as the ultrasound effect. As our culture embraces sharing the "first photos" of our baby in utero, there is a tacit recognition that there is a baby there. Even though a woman seeking an abortion may be seeking one too early in the pregnancy to "see" one of those photos of her own child, she has almost certainly seen the ultrasound photos of others'. The ultrsound "window into the womb" has changed our way of looking at what's in there.

And only a few days later, President Barack Obama addressed Notre Dame University, even receiving an honorary law degree from that august Catholic institution. He wanted to address this Catholic audience about abortion, hoping to find "common ground." That common ground would be working to "reduce unintended pregnancies," make adoption ore available, offer care and support for women who bring their children to term, and promulgate a "conscience clause" so that doctors who morally oppose abortion are not coerced into performing them. And he wants both sides in the debate to stop making caricatures of the other side, and to treat each other with decency.

President Obama stated, "I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. Because no matter how much we may want to fudge it -- indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory -- the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable."

These are very interesting statements, for a number of reasons. First, how do you make policy when you admit the "views of the two camps are irreconciliable"? Sure, the common ground stuff is easy. But what about the non-common ground, such as what are constitutional constraints on abortion, such as parental notification? And in reference to an earlier promise he made to make sure the Freedom of Choice Act (overruling state constraints on abortion through federal law), now the New York Times reports, "But while he endorsed abortion rights legislation during the campaign, he said last month that 'the Freedom of Choice Act is not my highest legislative priority.'" Now foreign aid can go to abortion providers, under a new rule made by President Obama. Once you get off the common ground, problems abound. If the two views really are irreconciliable, Obama is fated to feel the ire of all parties if he gives a sop to one side, and then a sop to the other.

And the big kahuna, of course, is the replacement for Souter. Perhaps Obama's best strategy would be to pick a justice that feels as conflicted on the subject of abortion as most Americans.

However, the big elephant in the abortion room that no one wants to talk about is the face that there would be far fewer unintended pregnancies if most American women were free of physical and emotional coercion by men to have sex. American men now expect to have sex on the first or second date. Every modern woman can tell you tales of having to negotiate a relationship with a man around this expectation. Many American women are having sex they don't want to have, but are expected to provide as a condition of a relationship with a man. And that isprecisely why women are so conflicted on abortion: "In the new poll, men identify as pro-life, 54 percent to 39 percent, while women also tilt pro-life 49 percent to 44 percent." Women are more conflicted because they know what it is like to have what is basically non-consensual sex. She agrees to the sex because she has to, or face the punishing consequences, which may range from the physical to the emotional.

If we want to talk about the commong ground of reducing unintended pregnancy in our culture, we have to talk about male-female relations, and how unbalanced they are. Until men see that, for the most part, MEN CAUSE ABORTION, and that therefore MEN ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT SOLUTION TO ABORTION, we will be spinning our wheels as a society.

May 18, 2009 by Red State Gal

Sex-Selective Abortion is Legal in SWEDEN??

Red State Feminists, like many other feminists, often look to Scandinavian countries for inspiration concernig progressive attitudes that might be emulated in the States. For example, over 90% of Norwegian infants are breastfed--that's pretty darned impressive by any standard, indicating a high level of support for mothering in that nation. Other Scandinavian nations have over a third of their national legislators female. Again, pretty impressive.

So when the news broke on Tuesday about Sweden, our jaws all dropped. Here's the news article in its entirety:

Stockholm, Sweden, May 12, 2009 / 06:02 pm (CNA).- Sweden, which legalized abortion in 1938, has taken its abortion extremism one step further by legalizing “gender based” abortion which allows a mother to decide to abort her baby solely due to his or her sex.

The Local reported that a pregnant woman in South Sweden, who already has two girls, arrived at Mälaren Hospital and inquired whether or not she would be giving birth to another girl. She went on to tell her doctors that her previous two pregnancies ended in abortion because she did not want to have another girl - and if this child was another girl, she would have it aborted as well.

Doctors expressed concern over this and brought it to the attention of Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare. They asked how to handle requests where doctors felt “pressured to examine the [fetus’s] gender” without a medical rationale.

The Board came back and said that requests to for abortions based on a child’s gender cannot be refused.

SWEDEN?? Sweden, that was the very first nation on the planet to abolish prostitution? Sweden, which nation is one of the foremost proponents of women's rights at the United Nations? Sweden, that has been proactive in reforming the workplace to be more accommodating of mothers? That Sweden?

Now, I am sure the Swedes pride themselves on tolerance of individual expression. But the Swedes are also are the forefront of the internaitonal effort to safeguard women's rights. Surely the Swedes understand that the reason sex-selective abortion is criminalized in places like India and China is because the practice is deeply misogynist. No one is aborting boys because they are boys. No, when sex-selective abortion is used, it is used almost exclusively against female fetuses. Even a proto-girl has no value, and if she is born, it is a calamity. And Sweden is home to immmigrants from many countries where the utter devaluation of female life has led to highly abnormal sex ratios, due to sex-selective abortion and female infanticide. Has the Swedish government then given a green light to these immigrants to freely abort their daughters? At the same time the government is trying to stamp out honor killings and female genital mutilation among its immigrant population?

Just thinking about the supreme ironies and contradications makes my head spin. Have the Swedes gone mad?

This is a job for the CEDAW Committee. That committee, tasked with pointing out women's issues that governments have neglected to mention in their national CEDAW reports, is the perfect venue for the women of the world to call Sweden to task for this abominable and hypocritical policy. CEDAW Committee, do your job!

May 14, 2009 by Red State Gal

Ain't I a Woman?

Red State Feminists were gratified to find that a bust of Sojourner Truth will now grace the U.S. Capitol. With the nation's first black First Lady unveiling the statue, the occasion was especially poignant. As Michelle Obama said, "I hope that Sojourner Truth would be proud to see me, a descendant of slaves, serving as the first lady of the United States of America." You bet she would!

Sojourner Truth was, as Michelle Obama also said, "an outspoken, tell-it-like-it-is kind of woman." We like to think every Red State Feminist aspires to be the same. After all, life is short and then you die. We might as well spend our time wearing out our lives to speak truth in love and boldness, as did Sojourner, for soon the night will come in which no such work can be done.

One of Sojourner Truth's most memorable speeches was, "Ain't I a Woman?" One of the remarkable things she says in that speech caught my eye anew . . .

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman!

There's actually many a profound truth in that little statement. Christ never put himself above women. He came to heal all women's hearts. In the Garden of Gethsemane, he not only took upon himslef all of humanity's sins, but also all of their sufferings. That means that he suffered in his body every rape of a woman, every travail in childbirth, every loss of a child, every death in childbirth, every grief when one's man is unfaithful. Do you think that after such an experience that Christ could look with the least degree of allowance at men who oppress women?

And after Christ was resurrected, it was to a woman that he first showed himself . . . to show Womankind that he, a man--indeed, a Man among men--had repaid in full the debt owed by men to women. And Christ, even Christ, was escorted into mortality by a woman, and this is true of all men, even Adam. Eve escorted Adam into mortality by persuading him to partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which was a righteous and brave act. God was happy that Eve had done this, and set in motion the great Plan whereby, among other things, the great equality between men and women would be brought about through the Savior's atonement.

As a thoughtful man once put it, "No man can pretend to be superior to women, for women give birth to men." Even in this age of assisted reproductibe technology, this is still true. And as Sojourner Truth remarked, this carries a great spiritual truth within it that we should never forget.

April 28, 2009 by Red State Gal

Did You Know?

Red State Feminists were happy to learn about recent initiatves by President Obama. According to the Washington Post, reporting on 11 March 2009, at least three initiatives have come to pass:

In February, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led by Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), took the lead by forming a subcommittee on women's issues, chaired by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). That move was followed at State by the creation of a new position of ambassador at large for global women's issues. On Friday, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Melanne Verveer, chair and CEO of the Vital Voices Global Partnership for emerging women leaders, to that post. Verveer was once Hillary Rodham Clinton's White House chief of staff. And today, the first lady's visit to State will coincide with her husband's signing of an executive order forming a White House Council on Women and Girls, our colleague Chris Cillizza reports, to be chaired by Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett.

OK, dear RSFs, how many of you knew this? Do not feel embarrassed . . . this news did not make it to the mainstream media. Apparently, it was not considered newsworthy.

Now, can anyone say what Verveer was doing during the Afghan rape law situation? Nary a peep was heard from our ambassador at large for global women's issues, at least if you were looking for peeps in the mainstream media. How about Boxer's committee? Have they taken up this issue? No one knows. And what is the White House Council on Women and Girls actually investigating at this point in time? No idea.

We hope this isn't the harbinger of things to come. Yes, President Obama has put into place positions and structures that should have existed long ago, and for that we are grateful. But was it all hot air?

April 18, 2009 by Red State Gal

Phew! (I Hope!)

Red State Feminists blogged two days ago about the new Afghan law formalizing Shia family law for the Shi'ite community in Afghanistan, and how this law would allow for terrible human rights abuses of women. And we wondered where Hillary was in all of this.

We've been following the news media on this very closely. From what we can tell, there has at least been a flurry of rhetoric in the right direction. As reported by the Associated Press on 3 April, Robert Wood, the State Department spokeperson stated that the US was "very concerned" about the new law, and "We urge President Karzai to review the law's legal status to correct provisions of the law that limit or restrict women's rights." He also said that Hillary had met with female Afghan lawmakers and assured them that, "women's rights are going to be paramount in this administration's foreign policy, not an afterthought."

In a press interview on 3 April, Hillary gave the following response to a question about this issue:

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there’s a continuing commitment to women and girls, to their well-being, to their education, their healthcare, to their full integration into society that I am very committed to, as is President Obama. So this is an area of absolute concern on the part of the United States. We’re looking for ways that can produce even more opportunities for women and girls in Afghanistan.

I’ve briefly met with some of the women parliamentarians who are here at the conference. And my message is very clear: Women’s rights are a central part of American foreign policy in the Obama Administration; they are not marginal; they are not an add-on or an afterthought.

I believe, as does President Obama, that the roles and rights of women in any society is a key indicator as to the stability and potential for peace, prosperity, and democracy of that society. So I would be committed to women’s roles and rights because of my lifelong concern about women. But as Secretary of State, I am equally committed because it’s absolutely the smart strategy for the United States and other nations to pursue.

You cannot expect a country to develop if half its population are underfed, undereducated, under cared for, oppressed, and left on the sidelines. And we believe strongly that that’s not in the interests of Afghanistan or any country, and it certainly is not part of our foreign policy or our strategic review. So we will continue to work very hard on behalf of women and girls in Afghanistan and around the world.

There are already rumblings that Karzai will have to back down: the New York Times is reporting today that Karzai is now beginning to say that he hadn't actually signed the bill into law yet, and he is reviewing it in order to make "amendments if the law was found to contravene the Constitution and the freedoms it guarantees." The Times goes on to say:

Mr. Karzai’s decision to review the law came after a storm of criticism in recent days. Canada called in the Afghan ambassador for an explanation, and NATO’s secretary general questioned why the alliance was sending men and women to fight in Afghanistan when discrimination against women was condoned by law.

Asked about the law at a news conference in Strasbourg, France, on Saturday, President Obama called it “abhorrent.”

“We think that it is very important for us to be sensitive to local culture,” he said, “but we also think that there are certain basic principles that all nations should uphold, and respect for women and respect for their freedom and integrity is an important principle.”

Also on Saturday, Italy’s defense minister said Italy was considering a temporary withdrawal of the women serving in its force in Afghanistan to protest the law, Reuters reported.

Phew! The cavalry has hopefully come to the rescue. But why are we nagged by the doubt that when the cameras have turned their attention away, Karzai and other politicians in Afghanistan will proceed to sell the women of Afghanistan down the river once more?

April 4, 2009 by Red State Gal

Hillary, Where Are You??

Several media outlets, left and right on the American political spectrum, are reporting today that Afghan president Hamid Karzai has signed into law the right for the Shia minority in Afghanistan to have their own family law.

So what? The term "family law" sounds very innocuous, but it is the law that, in essence, governs women's rights within her family structure. Can she travel or get a job without her husband's permission? Is her income her own? Does she have the right to custody of her children in the event of divorce? Can she even initiate a divorce? Can she inherit from her husband or father? The things of greatest important to women in society are lumped under the bland term "family law."

Well, Shia family law, which is now Afghan law for Shia believers, indicates that a woman cannot refuse her husband sex for more than 3 days. On the fourth day, he can rape her if necessary. This new law also calls into peril a woman's rights of inheritance, of consent in marriage, and of physical security from domestic abuse.

Most commentators state the bill was not even discussed in the national legislature, and that Karzai signed it into law almost without regard for its content--in order to obtain Shia votes in the upcoming national elections.

This is all nauseatingly ironic on many levels. First, the Bush Administration made the dreadful situation of women under the Taliban part of its rationale for invading that country. Now, under the Obama Administration, women's security seems to have completely dropped from the radar screen as they try desperately to keep Karzai in power.

Second, Afghanistan is one of the few countries that has ratified CEDAW without any reservations at all--meaning that this nation has formally and legally committed to overturning just such laws as they have since enacted.

Third, Hillary Clinton's most famous speech was not in America, but in Beijing in 1995 at the UN Conference for Women. It was there that she pronounced the famous line, "women's rights are human rights, and human rights are women's rights." And scholars have shown that the security of women determines to a great measure, the peacefulness or aggressiveness of nations.

Finally, is the Obama Administration prepared to tell American women that the lives of their sons and daughters were shed so that Afghan husbands would have the right to rape their wives?

Hillary, WHERE ARE YOU ???

April 2, 2009 by Red State Gal

Scientific "Integrity" and Stem Cell Policy

Melody Barnes, President Obama's domestic policy advisor, calls it "restor[ing] scientific integrity in governmental decision-making." Harold Varmus, co-chairman of the president's scientific advisory council said that President Obama "endorse[s] the notion that public policy must be guided by sound, scientific advice." Of course, both commentators are referring to Presiden't Obama's decision to lift President Bush's restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

Being a scientist myself, I can tell you that scientific integrity means not falsifying one's empirical results. In other words, it refers only to the method involved in a scientific endeavor. Thus, Barnes' comment is a non sequitar: President Bush's restrictions had nothing to do with scientific integrity. It had to do with human integrity, which is a horse of a different color.

Similarly, Varmus is not making sense either. Scientists can give you advice with reference to a goal. Want to keep at least some gorillas on the planet? Scientists can tell you why they are endangered, and offer suggestions on how to reduce the danger based on their research. But scientists cannot tell you on the basis of their evidence that you should want there to be gorillas. Again, this task is beyond science. What to want is not the purview of scientific research.

Integrity means adherence to a chosen set of principles. These principles also provide desiderata,or goals. Science cannot provide the principles that make integrity possible; science cannot tell you what is more desirable an end. Science is fundamentally amoral, which is why the Americans were willing to cut deals with Nazi "doctors" in exchange for their research findings obtained by conducting vivsections and other horrific practices on concentration camp prisoners, including babies and children.

When science is viewed as a tool, it is indispensable. When it is viewed as a god, it is the most horrifying of gods. We should weep that the day has come when public policy is a matter only of "science," and other perspectives--philosophical, religious, legal--need not apply.

Now that adult stem cells have shown more promise than embryonic stem cells without any of the attendant moral quandries of the latter, what is lifting the ban about? It is hard not to interpret this latest move by the Obama administration as simple political posturing that bears no relationship to any coherent set of moral principles. It's a cheap and easy show of "liberal cred." But as far as this commentator is concerned, this decision had little to do with integrity at all.

March 10, 2009 by Red State Gal

New Findings on How Men Process Images of Women

Susan Fiske is a highly esteemed social psychologist, on the faculty at Princeton. When she talks, people listen. So when Fiske presented a paper at a recent conference, the findings made headlines.

Fiske put 21 heterosexual men into MRI machines and showed them pictures of men and women; some of the men and women were fully clothed and some were in very skimpy outfits. We'll quote from the article now:

"In one of the many discomfiting results of the study, a memory test at the end showed that men best remembered the photos of the scantily-clad women whose heads had been digitally removed.

"But even stranger was that brain scans revealed that when the men were shown photos of women in bikinis, their premotor cortex lit up -- the part of the brain that is activated when men are exposed to objects like power tools.

"Meanwhile, among men who displayed sexist tendencies, photos of hot women shut down the part of the brain responsible for social interaction. Men who tested as "hostile sexists" showed no activity in the brain region that interprets human intentions and emotions. Apparently, the women did not register as human beings.

"Susan Fiske, a Princeton psychologist who reported on the findings at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said "The lack of activation in this social cognition area is really odd, because it hardly ever happens."

"According to the National Geographic, the only other instance in which brain scans revealed a total lack of activity in this region of the brain occured when test subjects were shown pictures of homeless people and drug addicts -- those, apparently, are the other groups that people see as not fully human."

Fiske goes on to mention that constantly viewing a stream of images of women that the male brain interprets as objects (i.e., pornography) conditions men to treat the women around them in sexualized and inappropriate ways, even in venues that should be insulated from these effects, such as job interviews.

These are very important findings. Our culture is training our men to treat women as less than fully human. Many say that pornography is harmless, but Fiske's findings bely that blithe denial.

One resulting question is, How can lawmakers refuse to acknowledge the harmful effects to the entire society of pornography? How can they now deny that pornography undercuts gender equality, and with it the foundations needed for peace and democracy?

The second resulting question is, How can any woman participate in the creation of pornography, knowing that it hurts all women in the society?

The third question is, If men knew this, would they have the integrity to stop viewing pornography? Some studies suggest that up to a third of adult American men view pornography frequently. Would that change if they were aware that it harmed the women around them?

Whether you answer those questions with hope or despair should tell you volumes about the probable future of our society. Women processed by men not as human beings, but as power tools . . .

February 28, 2009 by Red State Gal

Nadya and Her 14 Children

Red State Feminists have, of course, noticed the brouhaha in the press over the case of Nadya Suleiman, the single mother who, having six children, had eight more as octuplets through IVF treatment. She is unemployed, and relies on her parents and food stamps to get by. She hopes to further her education so that she can financially care for the children some day. Apparently, the first six children were born out of wedlock through IVF treatment, also. A number of media outlets have compared her to Angelina Jolie, without the accompanying cash.

The outrage over Nadya seems to center on her reliance on the taxpayer to pay her medical bills and food stamps. This is a typical conservative reaction, so RSF will not retread that ground. Let's mention a few things that haven't been the focus of media rumination:

1) Where's the men? That is, aren't men equally responsible here--because they were irresponsible? We'd llike to single out for special attention the sperm donor(s) for Nadya, as well as her fertility doctor. Sperm donors, don't you think you it would be a heck of a lot more socially responsible to be a real father? Fertility doctors, don't you think it would be more socially responsible to ask how your patients are going to support these children you are helping them to create? Verdict: The sperm donor and the doctor should be paying child support here. In fact, I would support legislation to make both sperm donors and fertility doctors legally responsible for the care of children produced by them in the event the mother cannot support them. MEN brought these 14 children in the world--let's bring them back into this picture.

2) In this RSF's opnion, Nadya's real crime is bringing children into the world with the explicit plan that they will never have a father. Adopting a child without there being a father I can see. Birthing a child with the plan to deprive it of a father--wrong. That's child abuse. Children are human in the first place because they are linked to the two halves of humanity, male and female. To me that is the starkest difference between Angelina Jolie and Nadya Suleiman. Whatever her faults, Angelina Jolie's naturally-born children have their father with them, and now her adopted children have a mother and a father. In this aspect, I say "good for her!"

3) Some commentators--almost all on the left side of the political spectrum, we should point out--have argued that cases like this cry out for state regulation of who can become a parent and how many children they can have. In this woman's opinion, there is no surer way to end up in a North Korean "paradise" than to say that the state should regulate who should have children and how many. That is giving the state more power than God. Yes, we should hold donors and doctors strictly accountable for their "sperm" actions here (see #1) and create a reasonable web of incentives and disincentives, but let's face it, if you are pro-choice, then that means choice--including Nadya's choice. And if you are pro-life, that means pro-life even if there will be very troubling cases like Nadya's to contend with. All we can hope is that those who would be good at raising children will choose to have more, and that those who would be terrible at raising children will not have any. But it is imperative to make that a self-selecting process, if we hope to maintain a viable democracy.

February 17, 2009 by Red State Gal

Looking Forward, Looking Back: Obama and Bush

Red State Feminists would be remiss if we did not stop and reflect upon the change in the American government. Barack Obama is now president of the United States, and George W. Bush, after eight years in office, has retired to Texas.

In looking forward, I think that virtually all Americans wish President Obama well. We want him to succeed and to distinguish himself while in office. Of course, expectations may be unreasonably high and will have to be tempered, because the problems the USA faces are very difficult and complex. As conservatives, Red State Feminists see two especial reasons to be hopeful about the Obama presidency.

First, it is abundantly clear that Obama intends to keep his eye on the fact that he is the first black president--not the fact that he is a Democratic president. This is an important distinction. He will push back at the party leadership when they wish him to go in a direction that will sully the historic nature of his presidency. For example, does Barack Obama the FBP (first black president) want to be the president under whose tenure gay marriage was instituted by federal law? We think not. Do not expect large leftward social surges from this president, who went on record during his campaign as opposing gay marriage.

Second, Barack Obama has a clear message for black America: it isn't the color of your skin, it is the noxious aspects of your culture that are holding you back. When you value education, when you value marriage, when black men value fatherhood, when misogyny has been rooted out of black culture, you will succeed and whites will not hold you back. Obama's very existence is a testimony to these principles, and God bless him for these aspects of his life which prepared him to be such a strong example to others.

But it is also time to look back. Many say that George W. Bush is the most hated president in the last hundred years or more. We beg to disagree. We still admire Bush. He inherited the most costly and traumatic attack by foreigners on American soil since the War of 1812. That we have had no repeat of 9-11 is to his eternal credit. He kept his course even when vilified for it. You can't do that unless you are either dumb as a rock or you have thought it through and through and believe you are going in the right direction no matter what others say. Some believe it was the former--we are convinced it was the latter.

It is true that Red State Feminists believe that certain members of his administration let him down, and here specifically we think of Donald Rumsfeld, who wanted to win a tough war on the cheap, and Dick Cheney, who was all-too-willing to put means before ends, when the same ends could have been achieved without paying that price of loss of integrity.

Nevertheless, Red State Feminists believe that history will be much kinder to George W. Bush than opinion polls would now indicate. We believe he was a good president, and we wish him happiness and peace in his future life. America is capable of producing good men, and George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama are two of them.

January 29, 2009 by Red State Gal

Lamarck Was Right: Why RSFs Should Care

Red State Feminists are interested in scientific findings that bear upon our broader worldview. One recent finding bears upon the question of Lamarckian evolution. At the turn of the nineteenth century, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck developed a theory of evolution in which the characteristics developed by an organism could be heritable by its offspring. That's right, developed traits--traits nurtured by the organism itself--could be heritable. The rise of Darwinian evolution caused interest in Lamarck's theories to fade, even to the point of discrediting those theories. Now comes new research suggesting that Lamarck was on to to something after all. Here's an article entitled, "Science probes 'memory' of genes," appearing in the Canberra Times on 17 January 2009, written by Danny Rose:

"That chocolate bar you've consumed won't only affect the way you fit into your jean--new Australian research shows it also has a lasting effect on your genes.

"Researchers in Melbourne are investigating the way human cells are known to have a 'memory' and they discovered that a cell, when given a one-off sugar hit, will carry a related chemical marker for weeks.

"Associate Professor Sam El-Osta, of the Baker IDi Heart and Diabetes Institute, says, "We now know that chocolate bar you had this morning can have very acute effects, and those effects continue for up to two weeks later. These changes continue beyond the meal itself, and have the ability to alter natural metabolic responses to diet.'"

"The studies were conducted in human aortic tissue, and in mice, with the same results.

"Dr. El-Osta said it showed how cells could remember and replicate the effects on the body of a poor diet.

"It also provided fresh insights into why obesity and diseases such as diabetes can run in families over generations--because the 'epigenomes' in which cell memories were stored may be heritable.

"Dr. El-Osta said the problem might not be the genes a parent passed on to their child but the epigenomes, which could come pre-loaded with the effects of a poor diet.

"'Humans have only one genome and once the DNA sequence is written it doesn't really change, nor can we really control it,' he said. 'Epigenetics is what makes our genome alive . . . and makes it function normally, or in this case, with a high sugar diet, abnormally. Potentially, this can be transmitted from one generation to the next.'

"Dr. El-Osta said the work had re-emphasized the need for a healthy, nutritious diet to 'nurture our epigenomes for the future.'"

Now, chocolate aside, dear RSFs, this is a very important finding. What choices we make--whether good or bad--may be passed on to our children. If we have developed a talent or a strength, they may inherit facility in the same area. If we have developed a weakness, they may inherit a vulnerability in that area. If we are interested in a brighter future for the human race, that means we must cultivate our own epigenome. We must prune out weaknesses that we would not wish on our children. We must develop our talents and strengths, so that they may be talented and capable. We can make it easier or harder for our children and for the human species as a whole. There is a deep moral accountability to our actions that does not stop with us, but reverberates through the generations.

The future is not shaped by us alone, but by all those who are having children. Thus, not only the choices that I make, but the choices that my fellow citizens make, will affect the future. This means that we must be mindful of the choices that other people in our society are making, and seek to influence those choices in the direction that we believe will lead to peace, democracy, and equality for our country.

The next time someone tells you that their choices are none of your business, remember that if Lamarckian evolution is operative, their choices are our business, for they will shape what future generations find easy or difficult to accomplish. We must bring our Red State Feminist voices into the public square, and fight for a better future through persuasion of others in our society. Where the epigenome drifts is where our future is to be found . . .

January 18, 2009 by Red State Gal

Malcolm Potts on Sex and War

There is a new book out that may be of interest to Red State Feminists. It is called Sex and War: How Biology Explains War and Terrorism and Offers a Path to a Safer World, and it's written by biologist Malcolm Potts of Berkeley and journalist Thomas Hayden. Potts and Hayden start with an argument that has been made time and time again: the roots of conflict and war are to be found in the strange beahvior of human males. This strange behavor, team aggression, is only found in one other species--chimpanzees. These two team aggression species produce males that are predisposed to band together in teams and, unprovoked, attack others of their own species for spoils or for pleasure. Potts writes:

"Anyone who has been in combat will tell you he fought not for a flag, or democracy, or some other abstraction, but for his buddy in the trench, his mate in the torpedo boat, or the soldier next to him in the up-armored Humvee. Intense loyalty for one’s immediate comrades, along with loss of empathy for the members of the enemy, are at the heart of team aggression, and of warfare and terrorism. These predispositions stretch back more than seven million years to our ape ancestors’ early battles for survival. We are all descended, by definition, from the victors of innumerable conflicts over resources, territory, and the right to mate. And we bear the marks of this legacy in the behaviors and impulses that spur us on to lethal conflict to this day, even when other solutions might be available."

If the reader of the RSF Blog has been attentive, they will see in Potts' description the Männerbunds we have previously spoken of. Men begin to love their male team members more than any other good--more than peace, more than rule of law, more than democracy, more than women. And when that shift to the Männerbund is made, all good begins to disappear, to be replaced by raiding, war, control, domination, tyranny. Sadly, this has been the story of the human family.

But as Potts points out, evolution is not destiny. There is another way, but that way must be opened by human beings who are not part of the Männerbund--the way must be opened by human females. Potts writes:

"Team aggression is primarily a male drive, and while women are certainly competitive and capable of fighting bravely and ferociously, in the vast expanse of human history there is not a single record of women banding together spontaneously to attack their neighbors. Our book argues that when women have more agency, their societies become less warlike. Population size and growth rates are two more key factors in the quest for peace. Rapid population growth increases competition over resources, increases unemployment, and boosts the ratio of young to older men, and all of these factors help facilitate extremism and violence. Experience shows, however, that when women have the opportunity to control their own fertility, family size and population growth decline—demonstrating that accessible, voluntary family planning programs are powerful tools for peace.

In the bad old days, women had little or no voice in the councils of societal decisionaking, let alone a voice in the bedroom concerning timing or apcing of births. In many socieities of the 21st century, they now have both. This century has, then, the potential to be the one in which we see "the end of evolution" as the final determinant of human behavior. However, as RSF has previously noted, the 21st century also brings with it the threat not only of the old-style Männerbunds, but the new style Männerbunds in which men now have the capability to live without women in their lives and to sire motherless children. It is not enough for women to have voice--they must use that voice to promote a world in which men love women, not male teammates, and where society is governed by men and women together as equals. Women must use their voice to make sure men cannot create motherless children, and that men cannot marry men. In all these things, we find the seeds of human destruction. Now is the age in which women must stand up to male evolution, despite female evolution. Now is the age in which women will either succeed--or will fail in an ultimate sense. Ladies, it's now or never.


January 9, 2009 by Red State Gal

Männerbunds of the Right and the Left

When you are a Red State Feminist, you sometimes see things differently than others. You see differences where others see similarities—a Red State Feminist and a Blue State Feminist may have very different views of things, despite both being feminists. Red State Feminists may also have serious disagreements with more mainstream Conservatives. On the other hand, Red State Feminists may see similarities where others cannot see them—and that’s the topic of today’s blogpost.

When RSFs look to the right, they see a Männerbund, and when they look to the left, they see a Männerbund, too. What’s a Männerbund? That’s a German term meaning a society of males bonded together on the basis of their maleness, and dedicated to the proposition that males shall rule and that only males are truly human beings. Of course, Männerbunds may have very different ideologies veneered over the ground of maleness, but the ground that unites all Männerbunds—that males are the only true humans and need to unite together in a “bund”--persists, and makes otherwise strange bedfellows appear natural together.

One of the most notorious Männerbunds, of course, was the Nazi elite. The historian Oosterhuis notes that in pre-war Germany, “German nationalism radiated homoeroticism,” and opined that, “The idealizing of male friendships and the Männerbund as being superior to the family was also in line with certain trends in German nationalism . . . [M]ale friendship was invested with nationalist virtues, as it was associated with communal sense, charismatic leadership, militarism, and self-sacrifice.” Oosterhuis notes that “this homosocial tendency in German nationalism” was associated with “anti-democratic and misogynist attitudes” because “members of the ruling elite as well as intellectuals associated the feminine not only with women as such, but also with political and social phenomena like democracy.” According to Oosterhuis, German nationalists of the pre-war period endorsed patriarchy: “their endorsement of patriarchy, in society as well as in the family, is striking.” Interestingly, he goes on to say, “Their anti-feminism can be explained to a great extent by their attitudes towards the family . . . their homoeroticism did not rule out marriage, as long as the family maintained a strict division” in the hierarchy between men and women, and continued the “repression of the feminine.” This brand of German homoerotic nationalism rejected homosexuality-as-feminine. In their minds, “they linked homoeroticism with masculinity, while championing the involvement of “normal” men. Since in their view a masculine gender-identity was anything but an indication of a heterosexual orientation, they encroached upon the “natural” role prescriptions for “real” men.” They promoted “homoeroticism as an option for all males.” Oosterhuis’ perceptive analysis helps us to understand how the Nazi regime could be rife with homoerotic male bonding (and male-male sex), while sending male homosexuals to the death camps: what the Nazis did was not, to their mind, homosexual—it was not feminine. It was the ultimate in maleness and masculinity, along the lines of the ancient Greek maxim, “Women for breeding; men for love; boys for pleasure.” Real men love real men, while at the same time having families and children born from inferior heterosexual sex with inferior women. After all, at that point, there was no way to produce new men except through women, so real men must do their duty in producing new men by heterosexual means.

Several trademarks of the Männerbund are worth noting:

The Männerbund, in essence, is a machine designed to destroy peace, democracy, and gender equality. it is interesting to contrast this with the thesis of Mary Hartman, the eminent feminist historian, who asserts that it was only greater gender equality in the form of late marriage for women, and elimination of polygamy and patrilocality, that allowed democracy to develop in northwestern Europe in the 1500s-1700s. Only by breaking the Männerbund’s gender hierarchy could democracy emerge for the first time in human history. And, furthermore, many scholars note the tight concordance between democracy and peace—the “democratic peace” phenomenon. Astoundingly, it is in the first place the gender hierarchy of the Männerbund that makes it the enemy of democracy and peace, for you cannot have democracy and peace without first increasing levels of gender equality.

So the Red State Feminist is always on the lookout for Männerbunds, seeing in their rise the destruction of all that we hold dear . . . gender equality and its resultant democracy and peace. And by golly, we do see them—both on the right and on the left. On the right we find the forces of misogynist conservatives, both secular and religious. When women are told to “gracefully submit” to their husbands, or right wingers whisper that Hillary Clinton is a “ball-buster dyke,” or sharia law strips women of their basic human rights, we see the Männerbunds of the right in action. These right-wing Mannerbunds are easy to spot—they stick out like Neanderthals at a tea party.

But the Männerbunds of the left are not as obvious. They are much more sophisticated and cultivated. A diverse group, they are united in the conviction that a commitment to a woman in marriage is unnecessary or undesirable. If heterosexual, they use and discard women, and they know instinctively that their male peer group is much more important than any woman could ever be. Women are sport; they are prey to the men of these leftist Männerbunds. They marginalize women in the workplace, while mouthing the appropriate phrases that make them seem champions of gender equality. They support abortion rights because it helps them discard women that much easier. “Marriage and family” may not even be in their lexicon. But there’s also a homosexual version of the Männerbund, too, that elevates male-male love above male-female love. The new gay power couples look down upon those who love women first. Sure, women at this point are still useful for breeding, but now you can buy eggs and rent wombs instead of having to have an actual relationship with a woman. A kid doesn’t need a mother if he has two fathers or one father, after all. And the meaning of marriage as the only route to gender equality through living it as a male and a female on a day-to-day basis in the home—is twisted to mean the opposite. The diverse Männerbunds of the left are as—or more—insidious than the Neanderthals of the right-wing Männerbunds.

Where the Red State Feminist sees a Männerbund, whether on the right or the left, whether religious or secular, whether Muslim or Christian, we have a duty to call them what they really are—enemies to democracy, peace, and gender equality. Though it is currently more politically correct to condemn the Männerbunds of the right than the left, we must be equally opposed to the rising Männerbunds of the left, who masquerade behind the fine rhetoric of gender equality, while placing that goal further and further from society’s reach. Red State Feminists stand in firm opposition to Männerbunds of every stripe!

December 13, 2008 by Red State Gal

Not Our Time: Sarah Palin and American Sexism

In this historic election, we have finally elected an African-American to the highest office in our country.  I think I truly began to grasp how deeply important this election was to all Americans, but especially to minorities in our country, when I heard Whoopi Goldberg say, with a sigh of relief, “I can finally put my suitcase down.”  And, as a mother, it deeply moved me when I saw a woman on the television, with tears in her eyes, say, “I can finally say to my child, ‘Baby, you can truly be WHATEVER you want to be’.”  I thought of the many new horizons opened up to that young child in our free and great nation, and I reflected with joy on the fact that in this election, our citizens have finally realized Dr. King’s inspiring dream – at least for some Americans.  We can only pray that that Mother’s child is not a girl, for if so, then this election has taught her a very different lesson – one not of horizons cleared, dreams materialized, and hopes realized, but of menace and difficulty and uphill roads greased with the slick oil of prejudice.

The 2008 Presidential election was instructive in many ways.  One of the lessons this election taught us was that for women in America, this is still not our time.  Our young girls, our teenaged and young adult women, brimming with hopes, aspirations, and considerable talent, have been instructed through this election that if they dare to fly too high, if they try to achieve too much, if they hope for more than they should, they will be vilified by a merciless media, held up to endless public ridicule and derision, castigated daily in public forums, and attacked in a vicious and personal way.  What’s more, their family, including their innocent and young children, will suffer the same treatment.  Young women in America have learned that being female, ambitious, and powerful in America is an invitation to peril.  As Dr. King lamented concerning the plight of African Americans in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” women in this election have been told to “Wait,” -- for equal treatment, equal consideration, and equal respect – though we might quietly protest that we have already waited, as Dr. King would say, “for too long.” 

When Sarah Palin was nominated as Senator McCain’s running mate, we began as a nation to learn more about this remarkable woman.  As a mother of three who juggles part-time work and full-time care of my children, I sat up and took note of her biography, her words, and her record.  My heart sang as I flew down the highway in my mini-van to pick my kids up from school, thinking, “It truly is possible!  In this great land, it really is possible to be a devoted mother and wife, an accomplished public servant, and a nominee for one of the highest positions of leadership in this great nation.  Here is a woman who has held fast to her principles, has worked hard, accomplished much, and is being rightly rewarded with the trust and confidence of an experienced and esteemed presidential nominee!” In much the same way that minorities feel renewed hope and inspiration in the wake of an Obama victory, I felt that for once in my life, as a woman, I could stand a little taller and truly see over the top of that great mountain of public censure that has always presented itself dauntingly before ambitious and accomplished women in this country.  Gradually, through the course of the election and with each new and ever more outrageous attack on Governor Palin, my hopes diminished and I quietly accepted my probable fate.  Once again, the women of this country have been told to “Wait,” and we have been instructed to wait through the best display of public scourging and humiliation that the ostensibly “objective” media could construct.

Within days of Governor Palin’s nomination as Senator McCain’s Vice Presidential running mate, media types and political pundits were questioning her ability to run for office and still adequately care for her children.  The media dismissed out of hand her considerable achievements, which include defeating an incumbent to become the eleventh Governor of Alaska, overhauling the state’s ethics laws, serving as Chair of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, introducing legislation to begin one of the largest infrastructure projects in state history, balancing the state budget, being named Chair of the National Governor’s Association Natural Resources Committee, serving two terms on the Wasilla City Council, serving two terms as the mayor and manager of Wasilla, and being named Chair of the Alaska Conservation Commission.  Instead, anchors on CNN and MSNBC mentioned that she had attended a few too many colleges and that, oh, by the way, she had been in that beauty pageant.  By the time the GOP convention came around, liberal blogs were scandalously questioning whether she or her daughter had birthed her infant son.  Charlie Gibson smugly tried in every way possible to reveal her supposed ignorance with his “Bush Doctrine” question (a term even its creator admits is hopelessly ambiguous and complex), while an ABC interviewer stumbled all over himself trying to help Senator Obama when he mistakenly referred to “[his] Muslim faith” (“You mean your Christian faith.”).   Saturday Night Live publicly stated things about Palin’s husband and daughter that even crass media pundits would not repeat, and Tina Fey soon came up with a ditzy caricature of her intended to demolish her public persona as an accomplished and popular state governor.

 In classic misogynist fashion, her wardrobe was criticized on the front page of The New York Times, leaving her seeming bewildered as she felt compelled to pause during her speech on  energy independence to explain that she did not buy her own campaign clothes and that she actually shops in a consignment store back home. A magazine cover during the election featuring a photograph of Palin smiling and holding her beloved infant son was smeared with the words “SEX, LIES, AND SCANDAL.”  (Of course, another magazine cover running at the same time showed Obama and his wife Michelle embracing and bore the caption, “Why He Loves Her.”)  During the campaign, we learned, to our complete disbelief, of an infamous media mogul’s plans to present a portrayal of her in a porn video.  And though we may have expected feminists to rush to Palin’s defense, they inexplicably abandoned and attacked her, often using the same sexist language they have decried for decades.  Feminist Naomi Wolf declined to comment on Palin’s executive experience, but instead denigrated her as an “Evita” and a “Frankenbarbie” on her Huffington Post blog; more ridiculous still, she attempted to link Palin’s “neutral lipstick, matte makeup, [and] dark colors” to evidence that she was in collusion with the Bush administration.  The attacks on Governor Palin rarely concerned her policies or public record.  They were deeply personal, highly indecent, and were intended to mortally wound.  While Senator Biden’s outrageous gaffes (“Mark my words!”) and numerous factual errors during the Vice Presidential debate were virtually ignored by the mainstream media, paid media analysts played Palin off as a dumb – brunette?? – and dismissed her accomplishments and record while occasionally wondering aloud why she was “resonating” so well with the American public.

She was “resonating” so well with at least half of us because she is so much like us, and yet has accomplished so much more than most of us in her lifetime.  Though she hasn’t written two autobiographical memoirs, she has risen from humble beginnings and has overcome every obstacle placed before her, no matter how intimidating.  The daughter of educators, she was raised in a middle-class household and educated in public schools.  Her father struggled to pay for her college education, but she figured out how to work her way through college herself and graduated anyway.  She and her husband, a fisherman and oil field worker, have juggled shifts while caring for their kids, just like so many other middle class parents.  Raised without special treatment, advantageous connections, or protective wealth, she has earnestly embraced each opportunity this country has given her and has worked to exceed others’ expectations.  And she did not achieve the considerable accomplishment of being Alaska’s first female and youngest governor by sacrificing family on the altar of ambition.  She seems to have gracefully blended family and professional responsibilities, and generously moved beyond the walls of her own home to serve her constituents and community. 

Governor Palin did more than “resonate” with American women.  She inspired and emboldened many of us.  But, ultimately, her treatment at the hands of the media and, eventually, the censuring public, offered American women a painful object lesson in gender bias.  Though we may have realized Dr. King’s dream for minorities in America, we have not yet achieved equality of treatment for both genders.  Governor Palin gives us hope, though, that we may be one step closer to realizing this dream.   

November 23, 2008 by Ellen Brightman, Ph.D.

13 November 2008: The Media's Eisenstadt Emetic

“So, did you get that information from Martin Eisenstadt?”  This question will now be the automatic response when the media reports some new, outrageous story about Sarah Palin.  A few days ago, Martin Eisenstadt stepped forward to say he was the ‘unnamed McCain policy advisor” who had leaked that Sarah Palin had confused Africa with being a country instead of a continent.  Turns out Eisenstadt was also the source for the information that Joe the Plumber (Samuel Wurzelbacher) was a nephew of Charles Keating.  Turns out Eisenstadt does not exist.

Eisenstadt is a creation of two pranksters, Dan Mirvish and Eitan Gorlish, who have given the character a life of his own.  Eisenstadt is a senior fellow at the Warren G. Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy (!), given his name because “all the neocons in the Bush administration had Jewish last names and Christian first names.”  There is no institute, of course—only a nice website.  Eisenstadt also appears in YouTube videos, purporting to be a McCain policy advisor, spouting off crazy ideas (like building a casino in Baghdad’s Green Zone).

Now, pranksters have been with us forever.  The real question is why these stories were not vetted by America’s “professional” press corps before they were run.  The obvious implication is that the media did not care if the stories were true or false—as long as the stories were sensational enough and fit a particular (read anti-GOP, anti-conservative)  political agenda.  Of course, one might suspect that a rule of thumb in journalism would be “the more sensational the story, the more we should check the facts.”  Wasn’t that rule of thumb used to justify the non-publication of stories about John Edwards’ adultery?

Apparently this sensible rule does not apply in the case of Sarah Palin.  The nauseating, over-the-top misogyny shown by the press toward Sarah Palin (and to a very real, but somewhat lesser extent, with Hillary Clinton) overrides any concern for professionalism or integrity.  And piling irony atop irony, the first to swallow the bait hook, line, and sinker was FoxNews.

But that’s OK.  All of this redounds to the benefit of Sarah Palin.  She is obviously not the idiot the press has tried to paint her as being, and the Mirvish/Gorlin hoax underscores this natural conclusion like nothing else possibly could.  Eisenstadt can serve as an excellent emetic for media bile.  Further, we can hope that this colossal humiliation will force the media to do an extra level of fact-checking on every story concerning Palin.  So the next time you hear something denigrating and outrageous about Sarah Palin, make sure to ask, “So, did you get that information from Martin Eisenstadt?”  The reaction you get will be very revealing . . .

November 9, 2008 by RedStateGal

9 November 2008: Well Said, Mr. Kristol

The events of the last week have been historical in their import. We have a new president, President Barack Obama. Probably the most eloquent and most gracious response by a conservative pundit (who had not jumped ship before the election), came from William Kristol at the Weekly Standard. We echo his remarks with full heart (full article here):

"We congratulate Barack Obama on his impressive victory. We pledge our support for those of his policies we can support, our willingness to give him the benefit of the doubt in cases of uncertainty, and our constructive criticism and loyal opposition where we are compelled to differ. We hope President Obama's policies and decisions will strengthen the nation he will now lead, and that our country and the cause of freedom in the world will emerge from the next four or eight years even stronger than they are today."

November 9, 2008 by RedStateGal

23 October 2008: The Henderson Sarah: What Sarah Needs to Tell John Now

In Henderson, Nevada on 22 October, Sarah Palin finally told us who she will be if her ticket is elected in November—she will be an advocate for women.  Finally!  After her show-stopping acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, all we have heard is how Palin will work on energy and issues related to special needs children.

All that is well and good, but that is not what she should be telling the women of America.  She needs to be telling us that, if elected, not only will she be the first woman in the White House, but she will also be the strongest advocate for women that has ever been elected on a national ticket.

And, no, advocacy for women does not entail knee-jerk acceptance of Blue State Feminism’s policy agenda.  For too long, the feminist movement has been associated with a policy agenda that most American women do not agree with, leading over 75% of American working class women to reject the label “feminist” when describing themselves.  So, no, we don’t need Sarah Palin to make the same mistakes as NOW, the National Organization for Women.

We need Sarah Palin as a unity feminist.  We need her to stand up for the issues that all American women believe in.  Don’t believe there are any?  Wrong.  And Palin herself mentioned them in her Henderson speech:

"In addition to calling for equal pay for equal work, Palin called for "a tax code that doesn't penalize working families," especially single mothers, and laws that provide women with opportunities, such as the Title IX school sports code that she said "opened more than just the doors to the gymnasium." She said it symbolized new opportunities for women in traditionally male arenas.  "Working mothers need an advocate, and they will have one when this working mother is working for all of you," she said.  Palin also spoke of the plight of women who live under repressive regimes where they are subject to honor killings, sex trafficking and forced abortions, saying they, too, would have an advocate if she were elected."

Now this is a policy agenda women that both Red State women and Blue State women can rally behind.  Greater protections for working moms, many of them single.  Greater opportunities for women enshrined in the law.  Better regulations to help balance work and family responsibilities.  Someone right there in the White House to speak out against the brutal repression of women around the world, from sex selective abortion to honor killings.

Yes!  This is the message American women have been waiting to hear from Sarah Palin, and finally, finally her “handlers” are permitting her to speak to these issues—and I choose to believe she is speaking from her heart.  Unity feminism is what we need now at this critical juncture in American history, and Sarah Palin—late in the game—is providing it.  Let’s hope it is not too late.

And Sarah Palin needs to talk with John McCain.  Yes, we know she is talking to him about ANWR.  That’s fine.  But how about talking to him about the Lily Ledbetter case?  How about telling him he needs to speak out loudly about how that decision was unfair to American women and must be rectified.  How women deserve equal pay for equal work—and if they don’t know they aren’t getting that equal pay, they still should have the right to legal redress when they at last discover the problem.

How about asking him for new workplace initiatives to help accommodate working moms, starting with making federally mandated maternity leave paid?  We are one of five nations in the world that does not have paid maternity leave.  How about support for Carolyn Maloney’s bills to accommodate working moms who are breastfeeding, by allowing them two breaks a day to pump, and providing non-restroom facilities in which to pump? How about mandating proportional benefits for part-time workers, the vast majority of which are working moms?  If McCain started to describe how he would work to help women, guided by Sarah Palin’s unity feminism, the election would be his.

America looks forward to having a breastfeeding mother on the National Security Council—her very presence will help to remind people what security is, and isn’t.  We look forward to having the vice president say, “If Iraqi women aren’t safe, we don’t have our priorities straight or we aren’t working hard enough.”  We look forward to the vice president condemning the rape culture of D.R. Congo, and sending foreign aid to help hospitals and rape crisis shelters heal these women.  We look forward to a vice president who will tell Asif Ali Zardari and Hu Jintao that she is offended by the treatment of women and girls in their nations.  And we want to know that the vice president is making these issues a priority for the president, as well.

Sarah, now is the time to have that conversation with John McCain.  Continue to show us the Henderson Sarah—the Sarah who is the unity feminist.  Give women a real reason to vote for a McCain-Palin ticket.  And have John McCain openly agree with your positions.  It is not too late . . . do it nowBest of luck, Sarah Palin!

October 23, 2008 by RedStateGal

21 October 2008: Most Comprehensive Article on "The Case Against Barack Obama"

When Red State Feminists come across a superior piece of journalism, we want to let you know. Guy Benson, Mary Katharine Ham, and Ed Morrissey have put together a superb article--the most comprehensive we have ever seen--documenting the case against Obama. It is a stunning piece of journalism, but we suspect they won't be winning any Pulitzer Prizes for it, unfortunately. Rather than talk about the article, we exhort you to read it yourself: "The Comprehensive Argument Against Barck Obama."

October 21, 2008 by RedStateGal

18 October 2008: Red State Feminists for Proposition 8

Red State Feminists support California's Proposition 8, a citizen initiative to reassert, over the objections of California's high court, that Californians define marriage as being between a man and a woman. Californians thought this was settled in 2000, when a proposition with the same wording was approved by a solid majority of voters. However, Californian courts insisted that the citizens wanted something unconstitutional. Many Californians disagree, especially since over 40 other states have the same heterosexual definition of marriage.

Red State Feminists believe that heterosexual marriage is a feminist ideal. At first blush, that position seems untenable: marriage in many traditional cultures is akin to slavery, with a young girl "married" against her will to a man who will treat her as a domestic servant and sex slave. She may have little or no rights in her position as wife, with her life--and health and death--almost literally in the hands of her "husband." Her culture, her religion, and the law of the land may make her a complete subordinate to her "husband." Feminist scholars have rightly descried this conception of "marriage" as a protection racket, where the protectee has more to fear from the protector than anyone else. Red State Feminists agree with this feminist critique of misogynist ideas about heterosexual marriage.

However, just as Blue State Feminism has no right to monopolize the term "feminism," with Red State Feminists equally entitled to the feminist mantle, so, too, we must not permit "marriage" to be monopolized by a subgroup that may define the term to suit their own ends. Those who have contempt for women and cannot treat them as equals have thought to define marriage as domestic/sex slavery of women by men. BUT IT IS NOT. That is not what marriage means at all, and these groups have no right to define marriage as the polar opposite of what it really means. We suggest that another term be used to describe this degraded definition of marriage--let's call it narriage, signifying what is being described is not recognizable as marriage. Red State Feminists reject narriage as evil.

But heterosexual marriage is not only not evil, it is good. And it represents a feminist ideal. Women live in a world in which men also live. Men and women together have produced every living human being. In turn, every living human being is flesh and blood kin to one woman and one man. Indeed, might we not think that being human means, at the least, being kin to a human man and a human woman? And that if we were not to be so, if that were even possible, then we would not be fully human. A man and a woman gave each of us our life and our humanity.

Furthermore, that man and that woman have an obligation to raise the human being to whom they gave life and humanity. Human life is inescapably a joint male-female project. It is the most meaningful project in which humanity is engaged. And it calls from a man and a woman the highest form of cooperation possible--a true and loving partnership of those who will always be different but always be equals. It is the most radical and most extreme form of toleration and respect for differences that can be found in mortality. Likewise, if this true and loving partnership between different equals is possible--and let's call it marriage--there can be no higher form of respect and valuation of women. If there is heterosexual marriage on the planet (excluding narriage, of course), then feminism is alive and well, also. The fate of feminism is integrally linked to the possibility of heterosexual marriage. To support heterosexual marriage is to support feminism. To undermine heterosexual marriage is to undermine feminism.

To call something "marriage" that by its nature insists that a true and loving partnership of men and women is simply one ideal among many is not helpful to women. Women will be the losers, not men, in such a brave new world. In the awful world of narriage, women were and are the losers. When heterosexual marriage is but one option among many for organizing humanity, we predict that men will decide that women simply are not necessary to the human race. They can be sexually exploited, they can be harvested for their eggs or have their wombs rented, but the vision that a man and a woman could be true and loving friends, faithful to one another, equals in the context of eternal difference, will be lost over time. Indeed, we see very little difference between the status of women in a narriage culture, and the status of women in a culture where heterosexual marriage is not considered a very special, very important, very vulnerable feminist ideal. (Red State Feminists have nothing against domestic partnerships of same-sex couples, roomates, old friends, a parent and a grown child, etc., to allow persons to organize their affairs humanely and effectively.)

In a very real way, then, heterosexual marriage is the highest expression of feminism. Those who strive to protect the special status of this radical feminist ideal, such as those who vote for California's Proposition 8, deserve the praise of every American feminist. Red State Feminists applaud you!

October 18, 2008 by RedStateGal


17 October 2008: CNN and I: A Short Course in Virtual Reality

Red State Feminists know that a free press is one of the most important foundations of a free society. But what if the press itself were to become a totalitarian enterprise? No, not in service of s totalitarian regime such as that found in North Korea--what if the press were determined to impose a political perspective on a nation in totalitarian fashion?

You scoff. I once scoffed, too, thinking that in a vibrant and diverse country such as the United States, such an ambition would be folly. But my own experiences with the "mainstream" media these last few weeks have been enlightening. And I am not talking about openly left or right punditry, such as one finds in The Nation. No, the experiences to which I refer have been with CNN.

CNN, to its credit, allows readers to comment on most articles. CNN also permits its readers to grade the debate performances of the candidates. Because this is a crucial election, many have chosen to experss their opinions in this fashion, as has yours truly.

However, I began to notice something strange. Even though my comments have no obscenities or insults, my pro-McCain, pro-Palin comments have only a 50% shot at being posted. Half of the time, though there are less than 60 comments or so, my comments expressing confidence in the McCain-Palin team simply do not show up on the CNN site. Ever. And then after several hours, comments are closed, and that is the end of that. The comments that do appear on the CNN site are overwhelming in their praise for Obama. But my experience shows this is a virtual reality, as is CNN reporting the judgment of its iReporters, who send in video of themselves commenting on the election.

CNN is actually attempting to create a "reality" that reflects the political persuasion of its staff. If your comments are coherent and in favor of McCain-Palin, don't expect CNN to post your views, as this will undercut its desire to paint a picture of massive support for Obama. However, if there is an incoherent pro-McCain rant, especially if the grammar and syntax are awful, that will certainly be posted--to show what idiots McCain supporters really are. Furthermore, the iReporters are obviously skewed toward young adults, and judgments by the iReporters are also not representative of the broader American electorate.

But probably the most outrageous CNN anecdote I have to offer happened Wednesday night after the last McCain-Obama debate. CNN asked its readers to grade the performance of each candidate. I gave McCain the A he deserved and the CNN system acknowledged I had given him an A. I then gave Obama the C he deserved, and the CNN system thanked me for giving him an A! The North Koreans could not have topped this totalitarian gesture; CNN has them beat hands down.

Reflecting upon these experiences with CNN, I can only conclude that CNN is using its power as a respected media outlet to elect Obama, even if it means having to create a virtual reality. In this "reality," the support for Obama is so massive that Republicans and independents who would vote for McCain should just stay home in utter discouragement. But this "reality" is simply false--the race is tightening. Some polls are showing only a 2 point lead for Obama, less than the margin of error for nationwide polls. Apparently this is frightening enough that CNN feels justified in resorting to tactics that would make Kim Jong Il proud.

A new wiki enterprise, SpinSpotters wants to create a community that polices the media on its power to "anoint" its preferred candidates and policies. We can only stand back and wish them the best of luck. And yes, they're looking at CNN . . .

October 17, 2008 by RedStateGal


12 October 2008: Fair-Weather Conservative Talking Heads

While Red State Feminists do not always agree with pundit Victor Davis Hanson, he has just published a small commentary very much worth reading.

It is called “Jumping Ship” (12 October 2008), and discusses the shameful parade of conservative talking heads who have abandoned the McCain-Palin ticket in the last few weeks.  We guess the days are gone when you made your choice of candidate on principle and then stuck with it.  Apparently, these commentators “have seen which way the wind is blowing,” and have decided to get on the Obama train even if they have to sit, to use Hanson’s words, “in the caboose.”

Even as Team Obama suggests McCain is running a “dirty” campaign, Hanson pithily skewers that perception: “Second, for about 3 months all we’ve heard are references to McCain’s age, with adjectives and phrases like confused, can’t remember any more, disturbed, lost his bearings, etc. Moreover, so far, McCain supporters have not broken into Biden’s email, or accused Biden of being a Nazi, or accused anyone of not bearing one of their own children, or photo-shopped grotesque pictures of Obama on the Internet (as in the Atlantic magazine case). I don’t think deranged McCain supporters in Hollywood or television almost daily are quoted as damning Obama in unusually crude terms. Nor are white racist ministers calling McCain a ‘messiah’ or McCain operatives fraudulently swarming voter registration centers. And on and on.”

Yes, the spectacle of the media fawning over Obama and spitting on McCain-Palin has been so explicit as to provoke real nausea in anyone who thought that a "free press” would provide the information that Americans need to have in order to wisely elect a new head of state. 

There is also a real class snobbery at work here, too.  Hanson puts it this way, ”They [the conservative commentators who have jumped ship] also believe as intellectuals that the similarly astute Obamians may on occasion inspire, or admire them as the like-minded who cultivate the life of the mind–in contrast to the “cancer” Sarah Palin, who, with her husband Todd, could hardly discuss Proust with them or could offer little if any sophisticated table-talk other than the chokes on shotguns or optimum RPMs on snow-machines.”  Hanson notes that David Brooks, the conservative commentator who called Sarah Palin a “cancer,” also “suggested that Obama’s instant recall of Niehbuhr sent a tingle up his leg as Obama once did to Chris Matthews as well.” 

Wow.  If true, it is time to clean house among conservative commentators who, rather than stand on principle, pander to power and intellectualism.  There’s already enough pandering on the left to sink a battleship; this is the last thing we need on the right as well.  We think we would start the housecleaning with Christopher Buckley, who announces that he is voting for Obama, even though his dead parents might “cut off his allowance.”  Well, we do not know what powers dead parents have beyond the veil, but let’s hope his parents do use them.

There’s been a lot of discussion in this election about who is talking the talk and walking the walk.  Conservative pundits like Buckley, Brooks, Will, and Parker have shown they can’t do either.  It is time to place them to the side of the road, since they suffer from self-inflicted mortal wounds to their integrity.  Let them pass in peace, a lesson to us all.

We have read Proust, and we have read Niebuhr.  But we would still rather have dinner with Sarah and Todd Palin any day of the week, even if they couldn’t discuss either writer.  Why?  Because they know how to talk and walk with integrity.  No Harvard or Chicago education can give you that.  You have to earn it on the battlefield of life.  We would rather have Sarah Palin by our side in the clutch than Barack Obama.  We have the feeling she would not desert us, or use obfuscatory prose to justify inaction: we feel she would fight for us in our hour of need, no matter what the well-heeled talking heads said to discourage her.

Sarah Palin, beware of the fair-weather friends of politics.  Look for those who back you because of the principles you stand for, not those who will pander to you on the off-chance you might have some coattails to ride.  We Red State Feminists will be here for you through thick and thin . . . for that is what integrity demands.

October 12, 2008 by RedStateGal


8 October 2008: The Myth of the Incapable Sarah Palin: Remembering Corazon Aquino, Violetta Chamorro, and Aung San Suu Kyi

Red State Feminists have noticed that liberal pundits believe that Sarah Palin is unqualifed to be "a heartbeat away from the presidency," and in Thomas Friedman's words, "But putting the country in the position where a total novice like Sarah Palin could be asked to steer us through possibly the most serious economic crisis of our lives is flat out reckless. It is the opposite of conservative. And please don’t tell me she will hire smart advisers. What happens when her two smartest advisers disagree?"

Uh, Mr. Friedman, women have been steering countries through their most serious crises for quite a long time. In fact, many of these women were "just housewives and mothers," with political resumes that would not rank as in the same league as Sarah Palin's. Let's pick just three, although we might have added many more, such as Vigdis Finnbogadottir, or Golda Meier, or the matriarchies of Bangladeshi politics. Let's look at Corazon Aquino, Violetta Chamorro, and Aung San Suu Kyi. All three women are heroines and gifted leaders, appearing for the first time when their countries needed them the most at a time of crisis. And all were just . . . well, they were just housewives and mothers, Mr. Friedman. Certainly not as politically experienced as a governor of Alaska.

Here is a short bio of Corazon Aquino from Wikipedia: "A self-proclaimed "plain housewife", Aquino is the widow of Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., a leading figure in the political opposition against the autocratic rule of President Ferdinand Marcos. After her husband was assassinated upon his return from exile in the United States on August 21, 1983, Aquino, who had no prior political experience, became a focal point and unifying force of the opposition against Marcos. She was drafted to run against Marcos in the 1986 snap presidential elections. After Marcos was proclaimed the winner despite widespread reports of electoral fraud, Aquino was installed as President by the peaceful 1986 People Power Revolution . . . The six-year administration of President Aquino saw the enactment of a new Philippine Constitution and several significant legal reforms, including a new agrarian reform law. While her allies maintained a majority in both houses of Congress, she faced considerable opposition from communist insurgency and right-wing soldiers who instituted several coup attempts against her government. Her government also dealt with several major natural disasters that struck the Philippines, as well as a severe power crisis that hampered the Philippine economy. It was also during her administration that the presence of United States military bases in the Philippines came to an end."

Aquino was named Time Magazine's Person of the Year in 1986, and she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Proze the same year. She has won many prestigious awards for her courageous leadership at the time of the peaceful overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos.

And then there is Violetta Chamorro. Her husband owned the anti-Somoza newspaper La Prensa, and was assassinated for his efforts in 1978. Violetta took over management of the paper after her husband's death--though she hd been "just a housewife and mother " previously--and continued to fight against authoritarianism in NIcaragua through the voice of La Prensa. Wikipedia notes, "In 1990, after nearly a decade of civil warfare and economic sanctions, Chamorro became the presidential candidate of the National Opposition Union (UNO), a coalition of 14 political parties that ran against the Sandinistas in that year's national elections. UNO received 55 percent of the vote, and Chamorro thus defeated Ortega in the presidential election. Although the alliance broke up after the election, Chamorro brought peace to a country that had been divided by war for over 10 years. Many of her reforms concerned the military: obligatory military service was eliminated, the military was reduced by nearly 75%, thousands of weapons were burned, and the name of the national military was changed.[5] At the same time, Chamorro also worked to liberalize the economy and strengthen political institutions. Chamorro was severely criticized by the opponents on the left for the economic reforms she introduced . . . Chamorro was the first elected female head of government in Latin America."

Violetta Chamorro has also been awarded many prizes for her heroic leadership at a crucial time in her country's history, including the Democracy Award from the National Endowment for Democracy.

And then there is Aung San Suu Kyi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. While she holds a Ph.D. from the University of London, she was "just a housewife" and mother of two until she returned to Burma in 1988 to take care of her mother who was ill. Wikipedia explains what happened next: "By coincidence, in that year, the long-time leader of the socialist ruling party, General Ne Win, stepped down, leading to mass demonstrations for democratization on August 8, 1988 (8-8-88, a day seen as auspicious), which were violently suppressed. A new military junta took power. Influenced by both Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence and by more specifically Buddhist concepts,[12] Aung San Suu Kyi entered politics to work for democratisation, helped found the National League for Democracy on 27 September 1988, and was put under house arrest on 20 July 1989. She was offered freedom if she left the country, but she refused." Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest to this day; during this period her husband in England died, and she has not seen her children. Wikipedia continues, "Suu Kyi won the Rafto Prize and the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1990 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. In 1992 she was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru peace prize by the Government of India for her peaceful and non-violent struggle under a military dictatorship. She is currently under detention, with the Burmese junta repeatedly extending her detention. According to the results of the 1990 general election, Suu Kyi earned the right to be Prime Minister, as leader of the winning National League for Democracy party, but her detention by the military junta prevented her from assuming that role." Aung San Suu Kyi, "just a housewife and mother," is one of the most inspiring political figures of all time, and is the moral compass not only for her nation during one of its most difficult periods, but also for the world.

Aung San Suu Kyi once said, "It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it."

Oh, and Mr. Friedman, when the advisors to Aquino, Chamorro, and Suu Kyi disagreed, these women were fully able to divine the best course to follow. (Duh.)

When we think of women like Corazon Aquino, Violetta Chamorro, and Aung San Suu Kyi, we realize that those who believe women who are "just housewives and mothers," and whom many regard as novices "unfit" to be national leaders, hold within themselves the potential to be the heroic patron saints of their countries. In this time of stress, hardship, and even fear in the United States, can it be that yet another woman, a relative novice to politics, might also make the difference?

Red State Feminists believe the answer is YES--and her name is Sarah Palin.


October 8, 2008 by RedStateGal


5 October 2008: Are Liberal Women Pundits Regretting Their Vitriol Toward Sarah Palin?

Red State Feminists are wondering whether liberal woman pundits are feeling the painful hangover from having so recklessly savaged Sarah Palin. The spectacle of feminists suggesting that "Sarah Palin is not a woman," or "anyone who supports Sarah Palin has the IQ of a tampax" has been both ugly and fascinating to watch.

In today's New York Times Magazine, Lisa Belkin, a noted Blue State Feminist pundit, admits to "grudging respect" for Sarah Palin. If you find this hard to believe, read the piece yourself--though you have to read to the very end to find this astonishing pronouncement.

Maybe this slight departure from the theme of "Sarah Palin is an idiot" is a result of last week's debate, in which Palin held her own against a career politician with 35+ years of experience. What I wish were the case is that Blue State Feminists have begun to understand how their stunning and bilious hypocrisy appears when you look in the mirror and see it in yourself.

Sarah Palin herself has something to say on the matter . . . watch this short video clip, where at a campaign event yesterday in California, Palin talks about the sage words of Madeline Albright, former Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, when she found herself likewise savaged by those she thought to call friends. I won't spoil the video for you, but will simply say that it mentions how there is a special place in hell for women who . . . .

I applaud Lisa Belkin for having the sense, and hopefully the courage, to wonder if that is the locale where liberal women pundits would like to find themselves. If you would like a real-life example of how Sarah Palin should have been treated by her "sisters," please watch Shelly Mandell, president of the Los Angeles chapter of NOW, introducing Sarah Palin at her recent LA rally--and endorsing her candidacy! You rock, Shelly!

October 5, 2008 by RedStateGal