Beautiful Attorney Generals, Gay Marriage, and That Old Adage About the Personal Being Political

What a week for plucky lady commentary!  First we have the hullabaloo over Barack Obama’s comment that CA Attorney General Kamala Harris is “by far the best looking attorney general” at a DNC fundraising lunch.  The interwebs exploded with feminists calling out Obama, Obama apologizing, and men freaking out about that age oldest of questions “How am I supposed to have sex with women if I can’t constantly comment on their beauty/bodies/boobs?” Well hetero gents, Garance Franke-Ruta over at The Atlantic and Lindy West at Jezebel have some answers for you!  The primary answer being, of course, women are not in the workplace to have sex with you unless they are in fact sex workers.  They are probably in the workplace to accomplish tasks, thrive intellectually, achieve prominence in their chosen field, and generally be productive individuals.  They may also be in the workplace to make money for themselves and their families.  Does this prevent the possibility of a workplace romance developing?  No, of course not.  But your best course of action is probably to be decent to women so they will want to spend time with you and possibly, yes, even have sex with you.

Which brings me to another bone I have to pick with the world.  Gay marriage.  Let me begin by saying that if a couple wants to get married, they should be legally entitled to get married.  However, when we focus on civil rights as a strictly marriage issue, we tend to miss inequities that exist even within the gay rights movement.  For example, the Human Rights Campaign, the source of the red equals sign you see all over facebook, is well-known as a transphobic organization.

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The queer movement argues that we have an ethical and political obligation to imagine other ways that we could organize rights and privileges in our society beyond marriage (think tax breaks, relief from social stigma, health and childcare benefits, etc.).  Would it not be ideal for two unmarried sisters to decide to raise their families together and still receive all of the legal benefits conferred on married people?  Does this family arrangement seem less stable, meaningful, or important than any other arrangement?  I will sum up with this awesome graphic from the MacArthur Bart in the SF Bay Area:

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Lastly, the personal is political.  Marriage, sex, equality, bodies.  There is no real space between our legal rights and our embodied experiences, and that means we need to think very carefully about how we organize our emotional, familial, and sexual lives.  But fear not, dear readers, we now have a new form of activism: the candy graph!

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Funny Feminist Friday!

Not a lot of ladies in pluckyville these days! Blogging took a backseat to what Lydia rightly called  “March, the month of mating dating.” (And traveling. And conferencing. And holidaying.) As it turns out when, even if you add just one human to your already full life, it creates a ripple affect. Nothing is left unchanged, and everything gets a little more frantic. Hence the lack of blog posts.

But I am here to remedy the situation with funny feminist Friday!

I like this image because I’m always trying to figure out how to deal with sexist humor, especially when it’s walking a fine line between unexamined/inconsiderate and idiotic/insulting. On the one hand, I’m all about the funny! Ask any of my real life friends, they’ll tell you I am the first one to point out the humor in a situation (especially if it involves a pun).

On the other hand,  “humor” can also be the last refuge of the scoundrel misogynist. I can distinctly remember a dude, the neighbor of a friend, making some really degrading jokes about the women he’d been with when I was hanging out with their group. Just about everyone in the room kind of laughed awkwardly, while I said something along the lines of the above image (though dripping with sarcasm, as I was still worried about not being “the cool girl” who can take a joke, and sarcasm makes everything ok right….? no?). Later a number of this guy’s male “friends” told me, in private, that they felt like he was a lecherous, creepy womanizer. As in, they couldn’t even go out to bars with him in town because they would always run into some girl who rightly hated his guts and they’d all have to leave. But it was not something they were willing to confront him on. So he continued to make awful sexist jokes, and they continued to act like it was funny. Not ok.

Humor can, however, be the best tool feminists have for dealing with the most aggregious sexist bullshit. Case in point: Donna Brazile.

Background:  Princeton alum Susan Patton recently wrote a letter to female Princeton students telling them they had better find themselves a husband while they were in college, gosh darn it!

Donna Brazille’s response is, in my opinion, one the better ways one could respond to something besides “I don’t even ugggghhnhhh.” Here’s one of the my favorite lines:

“Perhaps, if I’d had Ms. Patton’s wisdom and foresight about what really matters in college, I wouldn’t have taken so many pesky classes, and instead concentrated on designing my hair, makeup, attire and personality to create the perfect man-catching machine.

Perhaps it would have all worked out exactly as Ms. Patton implies — the perfect house, kids, husband and future. I made a lot of stupid decisions in college; I’m really glad the choice of life partner wasn’t one of them. How many people, do you think, could choose a tattoo at 22 years old and still be happy with it by the time they are 50? Let’s be generous here: maybe a quarter of all people? And tattoos don’t even talk.”

 

So many great rhetorical choices here, but my favorite has to be “And tattoos don’t even talk.” I instantly pictured a number of the college kids I know, at 50, with their tattoos talking to them. What a perfect humorous image to sum up one of the many fatal flaws in Patton’s perfect plan!