sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

February 4, 2016

Everyday Feminism

Filed under: feminism, immigration, jihad, politics — Tags: , , , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 9:36 am

One August in the mid-80’s my mom took me and my sister to Yalta.  We usually vacationed elsewhere because this Crimean city, although unquestionably beautiful, was horribly overcrowded.  That year my sister was busy with university entrance exams all summer, so, after she passed, my mother decided to do something extravagant for her in the one week remaining before the beginning of the school year, and took us to Yalta.

Jurmala

No, this is not Yalta, this is Jurmala, a Latvian town on Baltic sea circa 1970.  The semi-naked human mass above is comparable to that of any other Soviet vacation paradise.  It’s hard to believe, but a jam-packed beach is somewhat of an object of Soviet nostalgia today.  Russia staged these types of human ant farm pictures in Yalta last summer by closing some of the beaches and crowding others

We rented out a half a room (well, a Soviet vacation) from a lady who lived five minutes away from the beach.  The lady that lived in the other half and was very talkative.  No problem, we thought, we are not planning on spending time in that room anyway.  We put on our swim suits and shorts and headed out.

Two blocks away from the beach we were approached by a young cop.

“Hello! Where are you from?” He asked politely.

We were taken aback.  This is not how Soviet authority figures typically approach citizens.  “Kharkov,” Replied my mother.

“So do you dress like that in Kharkov too?” He pointed to mine and my sister’s shorts. “This is way too short!” He all of a sudden became a Soviet authority figure, berating us for something that’s not any of his business in a first place.  He scolded us for a few minutes after which he said good buy and moved on to the next group of female vacationers.  A few months later we saw him on national TV admonishing some ingénues.

My mother was upset: No, we don’t wear this clothes in Kharkov, but Kharkov is not a resort town.  And here, two more blocks and we’ll be in our bikinis!

On a positive side, he didn’t throw acid on us, as our Iranian buddies would had done.  That young cop was pretty comical actually.  All his efforts didn’t make a dent in the beach-goers state of undress. But by then the Soviet Union was falling apart and 70 years of pent-up sartorial frustration was exploding in bright colors and mini skirts.  And designer labels on girls whose families, presumably, couldn’t afford any new clothes at all.

I don’t take my ability to dress the way I want for granted.  That’s why I view some of recent arrivals in my town with unease.  There’s a lot of heads carves and two women have only eyes open to the elements.  Their men dress more or less like normal Western men, but women and even elementary school girls are clearly marked as tribal-religious property.

iranian

A classic: an Iranian woman before the revolution

The new arrivals’ dress code doesn’t simply signal their status; it has implications for me and my daughter.  As the European New Year’s Eve rape rampage confirmed, in the eyes of quite a few Muslim men Western women are one step above prostitutes.

I think it’s very important to show that we are not about to change our ways just because Muslim families settled in the nearby Section 8 (or whatever it’s called now) housing complex.  For instance, I always try to make eye contact with Muslim men and smile.  I wear skinny jeans and skirts that bare my knees.  If I’m ever in a situation where I can shake hands with a Muslim man, I’ll initiate it.

The other day I was walking towards the Target entrance when two women in head scarves and a male relative of theirs approached the entrance from the other side.  I made sure to get in 5 steps in front of them and, for myself, for my daughter and for every woman in Tehran, brushed my hand through my hair.

I don’t think I will personally ward off jihad, but on the other hand American women not as easy of a target as European women.  A 17-year-old Danish girl who fought of an assailant with pepper spray was recently told that she will be charged because pepper spray is illegal in Denmark.  This cannot possibly happen in the US, and the men entering the country must know it.

We can look at Israel as a model for assimilation.  The Jewish state has a pretty good record (well, all things considered) bringing their Muslims into the 21st century, and it’s known for beautiful modern women and Uzis.  I’d rather be Israel than Denmark.

Israeli

Another classic: A beach in Israel

January 15, 2016

David Bowie, Founding Father of Third Wave Feminism Dead at 69

Filed under: feminism, music, politics — Tags: , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 10:27 am

Third wave, or sex-positive feminism, has two dads and one stepmom.  The stepmom is Camille Paglia, the writer who redefined feminism for the 1990’s.  Not ivory tower feminism, of course, and academics-establishment types will never give her the full credit.  Second wave feminism, as RS McCaine argued, albeit I can’t find the exact quote, was a reaction against the sexual revolution and the liberal men.  It made personal political and deemed all sex a rape. What was new about the third wave?  The idea that women derive power from sex and the aestheticism. Those ideas are Paglia’s.  It was Paglia who spoke to the masses, it was Paglia who made most sense.

Paglia was hugely influenced by David Bowie, something she talked about at length after his passing:

Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust period in the early 1970s had a staggering influence on me. I had been writing about androgyny in literature and art in my term papers in college and grad school, so Bowie’s daring experiments seemed like the living embodiment of everything I had been thinking about. It’s hard to believe now, but when I submitted the prospectus for Sexual Personae in 1971, it was the only dissertation about sex in the entire Yale Graduate School. I completed it in 1974, while I was teaching at my first job at Bennington College in Vermont. One of the supreme moments of my life as a student of culture occurred in October 1973, as I was watching NBC’s “Midnight Special” in my apartment in Bennington. It was a taping from London of “The 1980 Floor Show,” Bowie’s last appearance as Ziggy Stardust—a program oddly never broadcast in the U.K. Bowie looked absolutely ravishing! A bold, knowing, charismatic creature neither male nor female wearing a bewitching costume straight out of the Surrealist art shows of the Parisian 1930s: a seductive black fish-net body suit with attached glittery plaster mannequin’s hands (with black nail polish) lewdly functioning as a brassiere. I instantly realized that Bowie had absorbed the gender games of Andy Warhol’s early short films, above all “Harlot,” with its glamorous, sultry drag queen (Mario Montez). Hence I viewed Bowie, who became one of the foundational creators of performance art, as having taken the next major step past Warhol in art history. I never dreamed that someday I would see that brilliant fish-net costume inches away in a display case at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, where I was lucky enough to catch the V&A’s Bowie costume show two years ago. It was a sacred epiphany, like seeing a splinter from the True Cross.

The two Bowie albums that had the biggest impact on me were Aladdin Sane (1973) and Young Americans (1975).   Bowie’s haunting, hypnotic “Lady Grinning Soul,” with its rippling, rhapsodic piano work by Mike Garson, is a masterpiece of art-rock. My own highly controversial view of women in the expanded version of Sexual Personae(published by Yale Press in 1990) can really be seen as an epic extrapolation of “Lady Grinning Soul.” That song reaffirmed everything I had intuited about mythological woman from all kinds of sources—from classic Hollywood movies to the masterpieces of the Louvre! Then there’s “Fascination” (on Young Americans), which Bowie co-wrote with Luther Vandross and recorded in Philadelphia. As I wrote in my essay for the V&A, this gospel/funk anthem is Bowie’s artistic manifesto, the closest we may ever come to a glimpse of his creative process, both passionate and agonized. Yes, passion—emotion! Because that is what separates the great Bowie from all those sterile postmodernist appropriators, with their tittering irony. Bowie drew titanic power from his deep wells of emotion. Plus as a mime artist, he was a dancer, grounded in the body. He never stupidly based gender in language alone—like all those nerdy post-structuralist nudniks who infest academe. Who the hell needed Foucault for gender studies when we already had a genius like Bowie?

Bowie loved Paglia back, naming Sexual Personae one of his favorite books of all time.

david-bowie-112_zpsbjeddjnt

One of the many faces: Bowie as a Sphinx

Bowie’s aesthetic sensibility resonated throughout feminist circles. He is probably the single greatest influence on post-Punk in all of its forms, including feminist riot grrrls.  Riot grrrl bands came in full force in the early 90’s; they married the standard-issue feminist message to a space oddity of female sexuality.  In their genre, the stage show is the most important part of musicianship, and their personaes have to be reaffirmed in every performance, Bowie-style, with a collage of glitter, striptease, lesbianism and profanity of the most hard core punk variety.  Their shtick is that on one hand they are reclaiming girliness, on the other — they are tough, so tough. Ironically their oh-so-empowering storm of the male-dominated music industry took place post-AIDS when the rock-n-roll scene was sufficiently tamed by the disease.

0534ef85efc86796d200128c3acbe60b_zpsuuq72ouz

The grrrl singer of Bikini Kill is of a conventionally good-looking variety.  Something she works *with*, not *against*

Beyond riot grrrls, when young women urge each other to grow arm pit hair and dust it with glitter, they are trying to think like Bowie.  When they parade down the streets of our cities in nothing but bras and panties, allegedly protesting unwanted attention, they are channeling Bowie in a fishnet bodysuit. If by no means conventionally good-looking Bowie fashioned himself into a sex symbol through sheer will, then they too are beautiful.  You might think SlutWalks are a dorkfest, but the gals think they are in an 80’s music video.

In literature (well, autobiography) and cinema there are the likes of Elizabeth Wutzel and Lena Dunham who are also working within this particular tradition that Bowie sired.  They are the foul-mouthed glitter girls ready to spread their legs for anyone sufficiently well-versed in inner workings of their subculture: Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am!  And I bet they have this and a few other Bowie songs committed to heart.

It should be noted that grrrls’ own invention was to throw the images of strong and healthy pre-pubescent girls into the sexualized Bowiesque mix.  If Lena Dunham didn’t found it very easy to tell us how she molested her younger sister, it’s probably because she saw images of innocence juxtaposed against sexual deviancy all her life.  Not saying that grrrls approved of Dunham’s behavior.

tumblr_lvzysxcnyo1qij7gp_zps2xv9c4xf

From a 90’s grrrl zine

This is all terribly ironic considering the circumstances of Bowie’s death, as noted by Brendan O’Neill:

[…]I want to pay tribute to another of Bowie’s feats, which strikes me as quite extraordinary: the fact that he kept his cancer private, or ‘secret’, as the press insists, for 18 months. This, more than anything, has blown me away today. In this era of too much information, when over-sharing is virtually mandatory, Bowie’s decision to suffer away from the limelight, among those closest to him, appears almost as a Herculean achievement.

As if beneath all his masks and extravagances the real David Bowie was a private person. To Bowie personal wasn’t political.  He lived his life as if it was a piece of art and kept away from politics.  As a person he remained an enigma.

The second father of third wave feminism was Bill Clinton whose affairs forced the most doctrinaire of feminists to concede that men and women have sexual appetites.  Otherwise mattress girls would have been running around college campuses twenty years ago.

So there it is: a dissident feminist, a closet heterosexual (as Bowie once referred to himself) and the most powerful man on Earth gave us the current reincarnation of women’s movement.  I leave you, my friends, with Suffragette City.  I have no idea what the song means, not sure Bowie himself knew, but it’s one of his best and it seems fitting for the occasion:

January 7, 2016

What I Remember About Cologne

Filed under: Europe, immigration, politics — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 2:11 pm

The year was 1998, I think, and I was backpacking through Europe alone.  I took a train from Berlin and came out of the Cologne Hauptbanhof (a fun word, I love it).

I walked out of the train station and found myself in front of the majestic Gothic cathedral.  It’s generally considered the best in Germany, but by then I had seen so many Gothic churches that they were all becoming one giant pointy swirl.

cologne-640x480_zpsseucxzff

A sleek, modern train station across from the medieval cathedral on a clod, wet night is exactly how I remember the city.  The picture above accompanied several stories about the New Years Eve sexual assaults on indigenous women by migrants in Germany

I walked to my hostel which was just a block or two away.  I stayed there overnight and before going to bed spent some time smoking cigarettes and consuming modest amount of alcohol with the hostel’s German owner and some British guy who’d been staying there for a long time.  The German guy was nice enough, but the Brit was an annoying prick, not because of any kind of a male-female issue; he was simply a prick.

I had only two weeks of vacation left, and I was lonely and tired of Germany.  The following day I took a train to Belgium and from there a boat to the UK where I met up with a cousin.

My daughter will never have an experience like that.

November 13, 2014

An Abortion Barbie Is Still A Barbie

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 9:33 am

Being a uterati Democrat, Wendy Davis was destined to lose her bid for TX governorship.  I’ve read quite a bit about her losing TX women, doing dismally with the married ones, which some interpreted as women voting with their brains, not loins.  I have a bit of a problem with this conclusion.

We women are good at a lot of things.  We are nurturing and not exceedingly stupid (not exceedingly smart either, just average).  But we do come with one unfortunate defect, namely jealousy.

Sarah Palin wasn’t too popular with women either, often to the point of obsession, mainly because she’s a former beauty queen with good-looking, if imperfect, family and, back in 2008, a stellar career.  There is a certain class of women who will be made to feel better about themselves by Hillary Clinton because she’s a miserable wrench, and will vote for her for that reason, but cannot stand the sight of Palin.

And sure, Davis didn’t get the kind of vitriolic press that Palin had to deal with, and I’m sure she’ll be more or less left alone after the election because a) conservative women are busy moms, b) conservative women are more likely to be religious and those are warned in some shape or form that jealousy is a deadly sin and c) liberal women are technically on the same team as Davis.

BUT I is it a surprise that women didn’t vote for a noted gold-digger with a Barbie mug?

Do you see a team player? I see a queen bee

And sure, there are many beautiful women who got elected this time around — Elise Stephanic, Mia Love, Joni Ernst — but they are very different kind of beautiful.  One can almost feel the callouses on their hands by looking at their smiles.  Plus, they were elected by conservatives (see above).

May 30, 2014

Sauce on The Tablecloth

Filed under: feminism, Soviet Union — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 4:50 pm

A lady who once wrote that “it has taken me 32 years to understand how to take care of myself” penned an essay calling for a national conversation on 3rd-wave-feminism-compliance of feminine hygiene products.  She proposed the thesis that the use of tampons alienates women from the natural power bestowed on them by menstruation.  (Question: why do menses stand for female power but childbearing is scoffed at?)  The revelation was all inspired by a rap video, titled “Tampons and Tylenol” (what else?) because to really understand where we are as a society, look no further than popular culture, especially black popular culture as it’s more authentic.  (Actually I kind of agree about pop culture being a mirror of society, but, gosh, it’s such a feminist cliche!)

The onset of menses is a huge event for girls, who talk about it quite a bit among themselves –so I’m not surprised that in our let-it-all-hang-out culture the topic finds its way into a song here or there or a sitcom features a joke about it.  More interesting is that the contemporary Western grown ups are so uninhibited about the whole monthly trouble thing.

In my early teens in the Soviet Union, which happened to be in the 1980’s, I had to deal with pretty heavy logistics.  Our only option was a special rubber “belt”, panties really, and inside of the “belt” we laid a runner of cotton which had to be removed and replaced once soaked.  On a heavy day, we’d carry around a spool of cotton.  Once the “monthly” was over, we cleaned and stored the device.  The “belt” was purchased at pharmacies, where, once there was no men around, we whispered the name into the ear of a woman behind the counter who then discreetly slid it into the shopper’s purse.

My “belt’s” edge rubbed against my hip, and by the time I left USSR at the age of 16, I developed a scar that did not heal until a few years later.  I suppose as far as the scars of socialism go, that one was rather superficial.

Once we crossed the border, I could choose from a variety of products, all more convenient and humane than the ones I had before.  But what if some peeping Tom was watching me shop?  To my astonishment, Western women dragged colorful plastic bags of tampons to the check out counters of supermarkets where they were often rang up by men, and the men seemed to pay little or no attention to what went down the conveyer belt.  Heck, no-one at the supermarket expressed any interest in what was rolled in the shopping cards in the plain view of the customers.  What, no sex maniacs of capitalism?

And Western women, have they no shame?  Or maybe that’s what civilization is like because, to quote Chekhov: “A good upbringing means not that you won’t spill sauce on the tablecloth, but that you won’t notice it when someone else does.”

Somewhere on the way to motherhood periods ceased providing endless fodder for girl talk.  Then childbirth and nursing became preferred subjects of powder room conversations.  Mostly I’m happy that consumer society makes it easy for a woman to go on with her life, even when bleeding and in pain.  I don’t believe a feminist needs to take any position on feminine hygiene products other than to promote economic system that eases inconvenience and perhaps celebrate the society that does not make a big deal out of it.  Then again, I don’t believe that personal is political.

April 23, 2013

Ill-Mannered Women Seldom Make History

Filed under: feminism, politics, Soviet Union — Tags: , , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 11:34 am

I came out of my parenting funk last week to learn that Margaret Thatcher, one of the greatest champions of freedom in our era, had passed away. Chihuahuas were barking mad, of course, but as Mark Steyn tells us, Lady Thatcher was the kind who’d savor the fury:

Mrs. Thatcher would have enjoyed all this. Her former speechwriter John O’Sullivan recalls how, some years after leaving office, she arrived to address a small group at an English seaside resort to be greeted by enraged lefties chanting “Thatcher Thatcher Thatcher! Fascist fascist fascist!” She turned to her aide and cooed, “Oh, doesn’t it make you feel nostalgic?” She was said to be delighted to hear that a concession stand at last year’s Trades Union Congress was doing a brisk business in “Thatcher Death Party Packs,” almost a quarter-century after her departure from office.

The finger!  The finger!

The whiniest of all chihuahuas Morrissey opposes Thatcher on animal welfare grounds or some such. He certainly aged… but the good news is that he’s still alive. Who knew?  Morrissey was one of those entertainers who were big in the West, but gained virtually no traction in the Soviet Union.  We preferred classic rock and heavy metal.

And here is another quote from the infinitely quotable late Prime Minister:

“I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding,” she once said, “Because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”

“They” certainly lost a lot of arguments.  Steyn summed up the legacy of Lady Thatcher’s domestic policies:

Thatcherite denationalization was the first thing Eastern Europe did after throwing off its Communist shackles — although the fact that recovering Soviet client states found such a natural twelve-step program at Westminster testifies to how far gone Britain was. She was the most consequential woman on the world stage since Catherine the Great, and Britain’s most important peacetime prime minister. In 1979, Britain was not at war, but as much as in 1940 faced an existential threat.

Mrs. Thatcher saved her country — and then went on to save a shriveling “free world,” and what was left of its credibility. The Falklands were an itsy bitsy colonial afterthought on the fringe of the map, costly to win and hold, easy to shrug off — as so much had already been shrugged off. After Vietnam, the Shah, Cuban troops in Africa, Communist annexation of real estate from Cambodia to Afghanistan to Grenada, nobody in Moscow or anywhere else expected a Western nation to go to war and wage it to win. Jimmy Carter, a ditherer who belatedly dispatched the helicopters to Iran only to have them crash in the desert and sit by as cocky mullahs poked the corpses of U.S. servicemen on TV, embodied the “leader of the free world” as a smiling eunuch. Why in 1983 should the toothless arthritic British lion prove any more formidable? [Emphasis mine, — ed.]

My grade school years coincided with Margaret Thatcher’s tenure as Prime Minister and Ronald Reagan’s Presidency.  The Soviet media vilified both of them ferociously, but to our family they were friends.  We had family members who were trying to leave the Soviet Union, and we appreciated the unwavering support both Thatcher and Reagan expressed for Soviet dissidents and refusniks.

Regardless of family background, my generation loved action flicks and coveted blue jeans and bootleg rock music.  But it was up to the political leaders to explain the value of freedom.  Back in the 80s, Western leaderships projected optimism and confidence.  They showed us why capitalism was successful, and why it was worth imitating.  Maggie, Ronny and rock-n-roll were the picture of the West that I grew up with.

Maggie’s opinion was valued.  My grandma, who always got her news from the Russian Services of the BBC and the Voice of America, was heartened when the BBC broadcasted the Iron Lady’s opinion of Gorbachev: he was the man she can do business with.  That was the seal of approval Eastern Europe craved.

The Iron Lady is greeted by Moscowites in 1987 at the beginning of Gorbachev’s short tenure

Here is Oleg Atbashian — who is a couple of years older than me and has a more mature recollection of that period — on listening to Maggie on shortwave radio (click on the link for a cool poster).  He tuned in for rock-n-roll and stayed for politics:

 One night — it had to be late 1982, when Margaret Thatcher was running for her first re-election — my shortwave radio caught a BBC broadcast of the Iron Lady’s campaign speech.

[…]
Listening to Thatcher speak confirmed everything the Soviet media was reporting about her, and more. In a deep, powerful voice, she accused her socialist opponents of destroying the British economy through nationalization and presented the proof of how privatizing it again was bringing the economy back to life. The free markets worked as expected, making Britain strong again. The diseased socialist welfare state had to go, to be replaced by a healthy competitive society.

To the average consumer of the Soviet state-run media, that didn’t make any sense. When exactly had Britain become a socialist welfare state? That part never passed the Soviet media filter.

[…]

The next logical question would be this: if Great Britain wasn’t yet as socialist as the Soviet Union, then didn’t it mean that whatever freedom, prosperity, and working economy it had left were directly related to having less socialism? And if less socialism meant a freer, more productive, and more prosperous nation, then wouldn’t it be beneficial to have as little socialism as possible? Or perhaps — here’s a scary thought — to just get rid of socialism altogether? [Emphasis mine, –ed.]

My readers are welcome to dispute me, but I prefer Maggie to Ronny.  For one, the Iron Lady’s task of privatization was infinitely greater than anything Ronald Reagan had to face.  For another, I’m absolutely in awe of her speaking style.  Reagan was a great orator, full of passion, insights and spontaneity.  But Thatcher, ooow, her zingers were deadly.

I think it’s instructive that while the left talks incessantly about female empowerment, the actual great female leaders are conservative.  In part it’s because feminism is a false idol.  A non-Y-chromosomed Western politician too attached to the sisterhood is limiting herself.  The work of female emancipation now entails such all-important projects like providing already cheap birth control for free.  A woman with a vision, like Margaret Thatcher, has to have greater goals in mind.  Plus, if the story of Sarah Palin teaches us anything about the women’s movement, it’s that we, women, can be nasty and envious.

Since the second wave feminists taught women that personal is political, which really means that nothing is personal.  One’s choice of occupation, of clothing, of, notoriously, coital position, belongs to the sisterhood.  Feminism is a way of life, and as far as lifestyle advise goes, this one is highly questionable.  Per feminist bumper sticker wisdom, “Well-behaved women seldom make history”.  A now middle-aged death rocker we know has that one on her car.  There are plenty of obediently ridiculous women in the feminist movement, from raging grannies in pink to slut walks.  Is it worth it?

I’m sure it’s all very convenient in short term given how young ladies have all the rationale to party, but I pity the “girls” who will not, in a matter of year or two, grow to regret their participation.  The Ukrainian group Femen is selective high-end international version of slut walks.  I have to give it to them, they know how to get their egos massaged.  Occasionally, their protests have a kind of logic to it.  If one has to remove her bra for a cause, flash islamists.  Ultimately, though, they are dead-enders (via Leslie Lofties) destined to be a footnote to history.  If they get an honorable mention in history books, students struggling to figure out the narrative will wonder if they really need to know about partially naked women who once grabbed headlines.

Margaret Thatcher will get an entire chapter. I’m not sure she was “well-behaved”, certainly not by the standards of the socialist Left, but she was a lady, and as such she commanded attention and respect.  When the Meryl Streep film came out in 2011, Margaret Thatcher’s personal style became a popular topic of discussion, which is a bit silly.  It’s the women’s movement that’s about style, and the more outrageous, the better.  Morrissey is about style.  The Iron Lady was about substance.

Iconic Maggie, cheerful on the day she was elected, 4 May 1979.  Power, optimism, substance

A side note:  Margaret Thatcher had her twins when she was 28 — early by today’s standards.  She slowly developed her career and went on to be the most powerful woman in the world.  Had she waited another ten years to start her family, she’d spent her 40s carrying for young children, not moving up the Tory political ladder.  There is a lesson there.

And, oh, look how slender this mother of twins was — because she gave birth in her 20s?

March 6, 2013

War on Women: SF

In decades past San Francisco sent Nancy Pelosi to the Lower House and nurtured Dainne Feinstein.  The local electorate keeps dutifully reelecting Barbara Boxer, the other incumbent California Senator.  And yet the current political culture of this two-party (Democrat and Green) municipality smacks of misogyny.

Only 12 out of 31 elected office-holders are women.  No big deal, you say, perhaps the gals around here have better things to do with their time.  But against the background of Pelosi bragging about the number of Democratic women on the Hill, the low representation of women in politics in her hometown looks embarrassing.  And so the Democrat establishment of the City demanded that mayor Ed Lee appoint not merely an outwardly female double-X barer, but a mother to fill a vacancy on the Board of Supervisors because, it turned out, there is not a single mother among the 11 board members.  Perhaps Mayor Lee could had done one better and appoint a transsexual “mother” who was once a father or something like that, but, I guess, he didn’t know any.  So he found a 29-year-old “girl” to be the 4th double exer on the Board.

That there are no mothers on the SF Board of Supervisors is only natural.  It’s not just that we, mothers, live on tight schedules; the City is notorious for its adult ambiance.  Parents and kids are fleeing to the suburbs, the Pacific North-West and just about anywhere else, really.  San Francisco can not remain both a party mecca and a family hub, and it seems to be committed to being a party mecca.  Although this situation says something about the City, I don’t view it as a problem: hipsters are people too, and they need a place to party.  One group that sees it as a problem are the teachers unions who see the family flight and anticipate lay-offs.  The politicians beholden to the union go out of their way to make the City family-friendly, but have little to show for their efforts.  It’s a topic for a different post.

I wonder if the Dems are feeling the pressure from the likes of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.  I heard a rumor that they want to tap into the demographic of women getting a “second wind”, former stay at home moms with grown children.  That should be interesting.  Married women are generally a Republican demographic.  We are zealous about good economic outlook, worried about national security and understand the value of human life.  I’m not sure what liberal mommies are going to bring to the table besides their peculiar brand of environmentalist neurosis.

Mommie issues aside, the political culture and social life in the City by the Bay is not exactly pro-woman, and this is immediately obvious.  Walk down the streets of the Lower Mission, for instance, and watch “girls”, many of them potentially attractive, going out of their way to look ironic.  Those who partake in the prestigious hobby of biking in the hilly city streets often grow thighs.

If the “girls” get involved in grass roots politics, it’s usually through outfits like Code Pink or with that septuagenarian (what’s her face?) who can’t shut up about her reproductive organs.  Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers have a revealing picture of the former.  I hate to bring it to Code Pink, but they fall more than a little short of Inna Shevchenko.  Zombie documented some interesting vagina/abortion dances and an anti-rape rally attended by mayor Lee (and possibly the entire Board of Supervisors, though not sheriff Mirkarimi, more of which later).  This kind of assemblies are bound to repel anyone with a semblance of self-esteem, no matter how sympathetic they are to leftie causes.  And besides, grass root politics around here is a domain of dead end narcissists; it’s a lifestyle, not a way of getting ahead.

Some local women do get ahead.  A case in point is Kamala Harris, Bay Area’s most recent gift to state politics.  Kamala, a spinster in her late 40s who now occupies the office of Attorney General of California, launched her career by sleeping with then-Speaker of California State Assembly and later mayor of San Francisco Willie Brown.  In addition to appointing her to positions on several Committees, Speaker Brown bought Kamala a Mercedes.  Then he helped her launch her successful District Attorney bid.

In the nearby Alameda county, Nadiya Lockyer, the young wife of the State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, became County Supervisor in 2010.  She was considered one of the rising stars in California Democratic politics until she resigned last year after a scandal involving substance abuse and a sex tape.  Sleeping one’s way to the top hardly raises an eyebrow in the post-third wave feminist Bay Area.  We are very sophisticated here, and we don’t judge.  Still, it’s one of those things that are bound to give pause to a number of women with political ambitions, particularly those who are married and especially the ones with children.

Harris and her ex laugh

Look who else is active in San Francisco politics.  Why, the co-founder of the California Green Party Ross Mirkarimi.  In November 2011, Mirkarimi, who had no prior law enforcement experience, was elected San Francisco sheriff.  He started off 2012 with a bang, literally.  The sheriff’s wife ran off to a neighbor’s house, and the neighbor videotaped her sobbing and showing the bruises inflicted by her husband.  Unlike Lockyer, Mirkarimi managed to survive the ensuring political storm.  (The interesting thing about Mirkarimi is that, while virulently anti-2nd Amendment, the man owned three pistols.)

Don’t lose track of what matters: San Francisco sheriff Ross Mirkarimi gives away what appears to be washable grocery bags on the steps of the City Hall

There is a lot of feminist rah-rah in San Francisco, but the optics are gross.  The feminist rhetoric, sometimes goofy, sometimes over the top, covers up a culture of indifference to issues that are supposed to excite a feminist, issues like family violence or an opportunity to make an honest living.  Underlying it all is a culture alien to the women who are not single — or at least childless.  No wonder there are no mothers on San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

…And on the right we have the Tea Party, a successful grass roots organization driven to a large extent by women, many of whom are mothers, many of whom embarked on a career in electoral politics.

Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 691 other followers

%d bloggers like this: