30 Oct Everything AND The Kitchen Sink
If you ever underestimated the ferocity with which systemic patriarchy would fight a woman coming into serious power, think again.
And make no mistake: underlying all the other issues in this election, at the core is a terminally diseased system of male supremacy in a battle to the death with women determined to save ourselves and this planet.
I was about to post this—originally titled A Surreal Salad: Trump’s Effect on Kids, The Vanishing Republican Women, and Some News that Makes Me Happy—when FBI Director Comey threw the latest bombshell. Ten days before the election.
Result: this new opening section before we get to the original post, that starts with the Teaching Tolerance survey below.
We now know that Comey acted in deliberate defiance of FBI and Justice Department rules that:
- All investigations must be kept secret until completed, and;
- No announcements or pronouncements may be made by any Justice department officials (that includes the FBI) less than 60 days before any election in case such announcement might affect that election in any way.
This is because free and fair elections live at the heart of our democracy, and interfering with one is THE mortal sin. No wonder Comey’s own agents at the Bureau are reportedly livid with his, as they put it, “incompetence.”
There’s another name for what Comey did: The Star Chamber. Making an accusation with neither evidence nor proof, then just letting it dangle out there, casting a huge shadow over the accused. And in this case, over the entire electoral process.
My god, what next? Hillary Rodham could not have committed enough crimes, short of genocide, to warrant the 40 years of relentless attacks she’s had to weather—just this year from the Left (Bernie Bros who chanted “burn the witch”), the Right (need I list these?), with, for the hell of it, Vladimir Putin and now the FBI piling on.
Meanwhile, the Sleaze League, or the Sexual Assault Squad, in tandem with Trump Tower, has adopted a new member: Anthony Weiner. This is an assembly of men each of whom is so offensive and dangerous to women that I wouldn’t dare put them in a novel: they’re too extreme; they’d come across as cardboard villains.
There’s Trump himself, of course, boastful about abusing women, about serial sexual assaults that we know now actually happened as 12 and still counting women have come forward to tell their stories. The Daily Beast has now covered the case of Trump allegedly having raped a 13-year-old girl, which comes to trial (with, reportedly, a witness) in December.
There’s Roger Ailes, founder and chairman of FOX News, recently ousted for brutal, consistent sexual harassment.
There’s Roger Stone, who claims HRC is a lesbian who drove Bill into other women’s arms, and accused her of murdering Vincent Foster, the deputy White House counsel who committed suicide in 1993.
There’s Steven Bannon, Trump campaign CEO and executive chairman of the ultra-right website Breitbart News, who sees Hillary as incarnating his prime enemy, feminism: Breitbart runs so-called news stories with, for instance, this (real) headline: “Would you rather your child had feminism or cancer?” Bannon was formally charged with domestic violence, battery, and attempting to dissuade the victim from reporting a crime; his now ex-wife has lately confirmed that he intimidated her into leaving town and not testifying; she fled with their children, so the case was dropped.
There’s Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, who has called HRC a “feminist demon” who must be “brought down and destroyed.” Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for 4 years, fighting to avoid extradition to Sweden where he would have to stand trial on charges of having raped two different women.
There’s also Trump’s fave surrogates:
Newt Gingrich—who demanded a divorce from his first wife (so he could marry his mistress) while the first wife lay dying of cancer, eventually abandoned the second, now on his third—but a devout Catholic “pro-lifer” you understand;
Rudy Giuliani—who announced during a press conference that he was leaving his wife to marry his mistress. That’s how his wife found out.
Now the October surprise, thanks to Anthony Weiner—estranged husband of Huma Abedin, HRC’s chief aide—himself under FBI investigation for sexting with under-age females.
And while we’re at it, there’s (now chastened?) William J. Clinton—who lied to Hillary (and let her defend him) and to the country about his own sexual predation. I respected her decision to keep her family together, but I’m also outraged that she still has to extricate herself from his sex and financial scandals over the years, none of her making.(I do wish she’d call her future White House the Rodham Administration, to clarify it’s hers.)
The behavior of the above men may differ in degree, but is startling in the similarity and consistency of offenses against women.
Who in hell are these men?
These are supposed to be the choices of manhood, these sexual offenders—or their cracked mirror opposites, who want to control our reproductive lives and sexual choices with their fundamentalist fury? Women refuse such choices. Women believe men are inherently better than such polar distortions of masculinity.
But now a new generation of males is under assault by their influence.
The Trump Effect on Kids
When the pernicious legacy of Donald Trump’s campaign is analyzed, children will be among the casualties. He blew the usual dog whistles of bigotry up into an entire orchestral horn section.
Now, some early studies have surfaced, proving what we dreaded—that his comments and behavior, and those of his more rabid followers, are having a profoundly negative effect on kids nationwide, acutely so in schools with high concentrations of children of color, inflaming classroom tensions over race, ethnicity, and gender.
In one such survey, of 2000 K-12 teachers, conducted by Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, more than two thirds of those teachers reported that students—mainly immigrants, children of immigrants, and Muslims—have articulated fears about what might happen to them or their families after the election, expressing to teachers their alarm that Mexicans (or Hispanics in general, or Muslims, or African-Americans) will be deported. Gains made by years of anti-bullying work have been reversed in a few months, with students now using racial and ethnic slurs, calling Muslim children terrorists, and chanting “Trump, Trump, Trump!” as they gang up on other kids. Little girls are being jeered at with sexual names while little boys flip up their skirts, tear down their underwear, and slap them around.
Teachers also report that even at minimum, the election has made students less trusting of government, hostile to opposing points of view, and feeling a loss of respect for the political process.
Remember that this is on top of a shocking national ignorance about governance. Only 36 percent of Americans can name the three branches of government. When Donald Trump proclaims that in his first hundred days as president he will impose a constitutional amendment requiring congressional term limits, most of the public doesn’t know that he can’t do that: an amendment to the constitution requires public referenda voting yes in three-fourths of the states or legislatures voting yes in two-thirds of the states.
Help! Seriously! We need to bring civics back into the curriculum!
I often quote the feminist adage about role models: You have to see it to be it. But the same is true negatively. A whole generation of European-American little boys and adolescents is getting a model of manhood: the strongman/bully, who can do whatever he wants to anyone he wishes—as his right, his entitlement. Another message to children portrays “outsiders” as a threat specific to women’s safety: Mexican rapists, Muslim enslavers. This is hardly a new technique; it’s central to patriarchy; I wrote of it at length in my book The Demon Lover.
The Ku Klux Klan was founded during Reconstruction with the justification that portrayed newly emancipated African men as “ravening beasts” posing a sexual threat to “pure white women”—and later, during the Jim Crow period, white supremacists claimed that their lynchings of black men were similarly justified. British propaganda during World War I featured stories of German soldiers raping Belgian women, and German propaganda in World War II portrayed Jews as rapists defiling pure Aryan women. Forgodsake, in The Iliad, Homer relates such warnings about the sexual predator Greeks being spread in Troy. In this theme, women serve as the measure by which men chart a moral distance between an “us” and an “other.”
Not that any of this actually protects women, you understand. What it does in fact is disempower us, turn us into passive symbols of male honor, and into, as the great anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss put it, the verbs through which men, as nouns, communicate with each other. Furthermore, it provides a basis allowing men to control and target women’s sexuality and reproduction, at the same time conveniently allowing them to ignore even greater violence against women committed by men within the same racial/ethnic group. On the contrary, it positions such men as heroic defenders of “their women,” and promulgates the myth that this brute “heroism” is inherent and unchangeable.
A recent PRRI/The Atlantic poll found that more than 40 percent of likely Trump voters feel society “punishes men for just acting like men.” Think for a moment how insulting that attitude is to male human beings!
But the heroic-manly-defense delusion is powerful. You might have noticed that in terms of the public reaction to all of Trump’s insults over the past year—against the Latino community, Muslims, the disabled, veterans, African Americans, and more—the tipping point came over his comments about women. He had already lost most women voters, but at that point more men did a double take and began to turn on him.
Yet it wasn’t about just any women. It was European-American women. White women.
All of the women who have so far come forward with accusations of sexual assault, to which Trump already had admitted on tape, are white. His insults to and about the Latina Miss Universe Alicia Machado were sexist and racist but not explicitly sexual. Apparently his personal “taste” runs to white women—so his lewd comments bragging about criminal acts activated the message threatening “purity.”
It’s another of the many enduring examples of how racism and sexism are inextricably, and always, entwined.
And Now for Something Completely Different
Light bulb moment! Now we know why the Republican Party is in such trouble! The vanishing Republican women!
There are fewer GOP women in Congress now than in 2006, and the trend repeats at every level of government. So far this year Republicans have nominated women in just 26 of the 308 congressional districts that held primaries—that’s 8 percent, and it’s in line with the current makeup of the House Republican conference, 91 percent male. In the past decade the disparity has grown wider, since wave elections swept out a number of established Republican members of Congress and swept in lots of new ones, including tea partiers and extreme evangelicals.
The Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers maintains records showing that Democrats have been selecting more and more women while Republicans are doing the opposite—for US Senate, statewide offices, upper and lower state legislatures, even municipalities. So the old white boys’ network remains entrenched while their candidate destroys the GOP, a party that might not be in, possibly, death throes had women not been forced out or left in disgust.
It appears that many of those women have now had it. Membership in Republican Women for Hillary is growing hourly. Highly visible conservative women attacking the GOP for defending Trump’s misogyny are even adopting the term feminists coined: “the GOP war on women.” They include Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, former Bush aide and now MSNBC commentator Nicole Wallace, and former Ted Cruz campaign official now CNN pundit Amanda Carpenter.
Republican sisters! Now is the time for all you good women to come to the aid of your party, to civilize it again!
Something That Actually Makes Me Happy
Shifting parties, it’s a pleasure to announce that Hillary Clinton’s campaign has more African-American women working in it than any other presidential campaign in history—38—stationed at the headquarters, more than both of President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns. And this of course isn’t counting the thousands of volunteers in campaign offices and storefronts all over the country New York Magazine‘s “The Cut” reported that these women’s jobs spread across all layers and areas of the campaign—designers, accountants, organizers, senior policy advisers, campaign veterans, and political neophytes.
One of their leaders is senior policy adviser Maya Harris (Stanford trained lawyer and former university Dean). Another leader is Zerlina Maxwell (law school graduate, field organizer during Obama’s 2008 campaign, political analyst on cable news, writer for the Washington Post, Essence, and Feministing); she is director of progressive media. A third leader is Brynne Craig, national deputy director of state campaigns and political engagement. The self-styled Black Girl Magic Email Group is the glue that connects this sisterhood within Hillary for America.
That’s a record-setter, just the mentioning of which makes me happy.
Ending on an activist note: voters who experience problems on election day can call the following numbers for a nonpartisan hotline staffed by trained volunteers who can answer questions and notify election officials of violations.