Former columnist for the Los Angeles Post Examiner, the Baltimore Post Examiner, and Gatehouse News Service

Monday, January 18, 2010

What Happened to the Feminists?

It is election eve here in Massachusetts, and my ten year old just stole my heart, as he is wont to do, by pulling my Scott Brown sign from under a mountain of snow and putting it back up again in a large snowbank, cockeyed but ready should anyone drive by. He turned and with a wave, he was back to fort-building.

I stared at the sign and thought of the costs of this election. Last week I took a stand over a column I wrote supporting Brown and lost my syndication venue, and here in MA it looks like we may be losing a fine state Senator to the national stage, where he belongs.  Across the aisle in my state this election could cost the Democrats the Kennedy seat, and cost an already- low-polling Obama the healthcare bill.  Last week I went to Scott Brown's fundraiser in Salem, Massachusetts after a day working the phones on his behalf, and could feel not just energy, but relief.  It was about sudden gains, not losses. and I cherish the memory of that happy time in a downtown restaurant.  At the Scott Brown fundraiser you could happily raise your voice while talking about our Republican candidate, or about being a Republican, or just talking about America, for that matter, as quaint as that may sound in the age of the flip-camera. (I want one of those!)  We forget it's our country we're talking about - the people whose homes sit exposed on the brown plains, the families who live snug and sheltered up in the purple mountains, the folks who seperate the wheat from the chaff within our borders out west.  The geography that we realized was so dear on 9/11; you know; the country.  The U S of A.  And I am wondering, as I think about the election - where are the feminists?

Martha Coakley - a female candidate that should have had them coming in droves.  Not somebody's widow running for the seat, not a female Governor with good hair and a grasp of both the issues and the party line, but a former prosecutor and Attorney General in a liberal state that probably supports a feminist platform to begin with.  (As you'll see, I think there in only one plank in the platform these days.)  A woman whose margin was so wide that your support could be ticked off the list over drinks with a few texts and a promise to hold a sign down at the high school come election day.  A woman to stand up for women and their various and sundry rights everywhere, all day long, and twice on Sunday.  What happened here, ladies?

They were scared away by the Coakley campaign's now-infamous and ugly blast that Scott Brown wants females turned away at emergency rooms after being raped.  If they did want to stick up for choice vocally in this race, they would be tied to the Coakley campaign's radicalized, should-be-libelous position of twisting Brown's state senate vote (he did not want Catholic and faith-based hospitals to have to perform abortions) into an evil cold shoulder to women in pain as a result of a violent act.  He is also against partial-birth abortions, as every woman - and human - should be.  The crime of Coakley's ads is not as much against Scott Brown, but against rape victims - anyone with a law degree and a pulse - or, forget the law degree; just a pulse will do - knows that you need to tread lightly because of real victims who will always, in a sense, suffer(a violent crime prosecutor would well know this), and suffer more each time this ad is played.  Many of us just could not do this to rape victims, no matter what the pay-off.  As my Uncle Bud used to say: what the Sam Hill is going on?

Feminism used to be about wages and opportunities, and about women being equal in all aspects that the law and society was interested in.  We had Billie Jean King, man!  It was real, and needed, and a giant step for womankind.  Now, the issue is abortion, or "reproductive freedom," mainly, when we're talking feminism, abortion being an umbrella which also covers emergency contraception or "morning-after contraception" when you are talking social issues. And the Coakley campaign has twisted Scott Brown's votes in the state senate to make "emergency contraception" a graphic central theme: an ad playing now features a young girl alone and cowering on a stairstep, all alone with her rape and possibly a pregnancy.  Her head is in her hands, her thin body curving in on itself in fear and uncertainty and shame. Rape is a crime, and as a crime is an issue for all of us.  And the Coakley campaign has turned that real crime - and the pain that comes with it for both men and women - into a caricature by an actress for campaign purposes. Feminists, stay away from this one if you are smart!

My mom used to be fascinated with Gloria Steinem, although I don't think she agreed with her (I should  call and ask) except on pay and opportunity issues. We commented on her glasses, her streaked hair, her often-bra-less physique.  We took her seriously, too; why everyone had a copy of Ms. magazine.  Feminists then were like suffragettes; their work meant something, and they left a trail of interest and questions and change in their wake.  Now, feminists seem to be fighting so hard against babies being born and fetuses developing that they have invalidated the message with their bitter and rote rhetoric.  Would they have liked to come out in force for Coakley?  Yes!  Could they ever, now, after the rape ads?  Never. 

As my Uncle Bud also used to say, Mash that light button over yonder, and let's call it a night.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Deirdre, I love your new blog! On the Gloria Steinem comment - Gloria and me - I can say that I rarely agreed with her but did find her interesting, as she made gains after another feminist, Betty Friedan, began shaking things up with a book. I was a full-time working mom - I worked at home raising you and your sister - and I felt deeply cut by any dispersions cast upon that work. But I am very happy to see qualified women making gains all over the place. Although I do not vote feminist I vote for women I agree with on the most basic issues. Congratulations on the new blog! Your M.

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