Progressives are feminists or they’re not Progressives.

Here’s a radical notion: If you’re a man and you call yourself a Progressive, you can’t sling sexist insults at women.

Any women.

Not just Progressive women. Not just women you like. Not just your mom.

If you want me to take you seriously and believe that you are genuinely committed to the Progressive agenda, you may not take sexist swipes at Conservative women, either — not even the really awful ones.

Not Michele Bachmann.

Not Sarah Palin.

Not New York Daily News columnist SE Cupp, of whom I had never heard until Hustler magazine (a decidedly questionable source of Progressivism, I admit, despite what Larry Flynt might think) photoshopped an image of her with a penis in her mouth, and opined:

S.E. Cupp is a lovely young lady who read too much Ayn Rand in high school and ended up joining the dark side. Cupp, an author and media commentator who often shows up on Fox News programs, is undeniably cute. But her hotness is diminished when she espouses dumb ideas like defunding Planned Parenthood. Perhaps the method pictured here is Ms. Cupp’s suggestion for avoiding an unwanted pregnancy.

So yes, the latest example of men on the left who think it’s ok to viciously dehumanize Conservative women by reducing them to their sexual organs and/or conventional attractiveness is provided by Hustler — a publication predicated on dehumanizing women by reducing them to their sexual organs and/or conventional attractiveness. BUT.

But, as can be seen by clicking on the links embedded in the names of Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin above, Hustler is far from the first or last example. Need more?

Ed Schultz and Laura Ingram. Keith Olbermann and Ann Coulter. Keith Olbermann and Carrie “opposite marriage” Prejean. Matt Taibbi and Michelle Malkin. Bill Maher and Karen Santorum. Bill Maher and Megyn Kelly. Michael Moore and… all women (some of whom are, presumably, Conservative).

And perhaps unsurprisingly (to me, at least) it doesn’t stop at the Republican Party door — it turns out that so-called Progressive men are often happy to say these things about women they don’t like on the left, too: Chris Matthews and Hillary Clinton. Keith Olbermann and Hillary Clinton. Matt Taibbi and Hillary Clinton. Matt Taibbi and Erica Jong.

In some of these cases, the men in question apologized, and did so in a fashion that to me seemed sincere (Olbermann, for instance, and Schultz), and that’s to be respected.

But I’m not going to applaud it, because I am just so damn tired of the whole thing, and honest to God: I know I have to expect this from the other side of the aisle — but from my compatriots, too?

It’s everywhere, this treatment of women, everywhere. And it is most certainly not limited to Famous Men. It’s in conversations, and on Twitter, and on reddit, and in blogposts, and among comments on blogs, and on Youtube, and at the work place, and at school, and on the street.

It’s exhausting. It’s demoralizing. It’s heartbreaking. And it’s fucking everywhere.

If you are a man somewhere on the left side of America’s political map and you don’t understand these facts well enough to understand that pulling old-school sexism out of your back pocket and wielding it against Conservative women is just plain wrong — you’re betraying me. You’re betraying me, and all the Progressive women in your life, and any daughters you may have, and ultimately, the cause of Progressives everywhere.

Just as I support the right of Log Cabin Republicans to get married (despite their party’s efforts to prevent it) and the right of African-American Republicans to vote (despite their party’s efforts to roll back the Voting Rights Act), I support the right of Conservative women to be treated as human beings (despite their party’s efforts to legislate women as something less).

This is not about party affiliation — this is about the radical notion that women are people. All women.

Even the Conservative ones.

What’s at stake for women if SCOTUS strikes down health reform.

Ok so here’s some really disturbing information of which I was unaware: The Center for American Progress is reporting that if the Supreme Court strikes down or guts health care reform — women will suffer disproportionately.

Through a practice known as gender rating, women pay $1 billion more in premiums than men each year for the same set of benefits. And even though they pay more, they often receive fewer benefits. Individual market plans often exclude essential health services for women, such as maternity care, contraception, and Pap smears. And women are subject to coverage exclusions by health insurance providers in the individual market for gender-specific “pre-existing conditions” such as breast cancer, Cesarean sections, rape, and domestic violence.

So, a) apparently “rape” and “domestic violence” are “pre-existing conditions” for some insurance providers, which – wow. That fact alone fills me with such sadness that it’s a genuinely hard to write; and b) women routinely pay more to, and receive less from, health insurance providers — simply by virtue of being women. You know: Just ’cause. Pap smears – they’re just like going out for Cosmos with the gals!

I do think that the effort to undo this Administration’s greatest domestic achievement to date has whole a lot to do with a whole lot of love for the business interests involved + a whole lot of hate for the President in question, and very little to do with caring about the particulars. Which is to say: I don’t think this is of a piece with the War on Women, because I don’t think that the folks trying to pull HCR apart really care what’s in it, for the most part. It’ll cut into the bottom line, and it looks good for Obama. IT MUST GO.

Yet it is undeniably sinus-clearing to see that even when there probably isn’t a direct intent to hurt women — women get hurt. Even when folks aren’t swanning about declaring it morally wrong for me to suggest that my reproductive health is of some import — my reproductive health is of no import. And then there’s the whole oh hey I guess rape and domestic violence can go back to being pre-existing conditions piece of it.

As the CAP report says:

Opponents of Obamacare also threaten to repeal the law if they can gain full control of Congress and the White House in the upcoming election in November. But for the time being, all eyes are on an extremely divided and increasingly conservative Supreme Court, which sadly has in recent years demonstrated little regard for precedent.

For women and their families, the Affordable Care Act is not a theoretical concept—it is a lifeline. Attacks on Obamacare are attacks on women’s health and well-being. If the Supreme Court decides to strike down any or all of this law, then it is women who will suffer the most. Women cannot afford to lose this high-stakes lawsuit because they cannot afford to lose the benefits of this landmark health reform law.

Some days it feels like just being alive constitutes a War on Women.

h/t ThinkProgress

The breathtaking cruelty of Florida Gov Rick Scott.

I’ve been thinking a lot and writing a little about the idea that bigotry is, in essence, cruelty and lies, and that the current conservative movement is marked by all three.

Well, if you were still looking for one, here’s your sign:

With a flick of his pen, Florida’s tea party Republican governor, Rick Scott, used a line-item veto to cut funding to the state’s rape crisis centers last week—in the middle of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

…The state legislature had approved $1.5 million to help close the gap so the centers could keep serving the approximately 700,000 women in Florida who’ve been victims of rape. But in reviewing the state’s $70 billion budget, Scott decided last Tuesday that the .002 percent slated for the crisis centers was just too much. He used his line-item power to veto the funds, alongside $141 million in other cuts targeting a wide range of projects, including an indigent psychiatric medicine program, Girls Incorporated of Sarasota County, the Alzheimer’s Family Care Center of Broward County, and a state settlement for child welfare case managers who were owed overtime. The entire list of vetoed programs is available here (PDF).

To recap:

The governor of Florida has just taken money from: Rape victims; the poor; the mentally ill; children; and adults who protect children. And the dying.

Is he culling the weak? Is he launching a Florida Office for Social Engineering? Is the next step to throw these agencies into a fancy arena and make them slaughter each other for grants?

But don’t worry, Floridians! The law Gov Scott introduced forcing welfare applicants to undergo drug testing is still in place, even though the vast majority of tests (96%) come back squeaky clean, and the testing procedure costs Florida more than it saves.

Cruelty, and lies.

via Mother Jones

Bigotry, today’s GOP, cruelty, and lies.

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=politics&ctt=1#ai:MC900301302|mt:0|Over at The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates recently posited racism as cruelty — from jokey emails suggesting that the President’s dead mother indulged in bestiality to the cruelty inherent in “sneer[ing] at the unguarded thoughts of dead children,” and so much else besides. He takes the idea further:

[T]his embrace of cruelty is arguably the dominant feature of the present conservative movement. It has been repeatedly expressed in alleged “humor.” The assertion of a right of judgement over the First Lady’s physical person, for instance. Or watermelon patches on the front lawn. Or Obama waffles.  There is little distance from that kind of cruelty to aspirin between one’s legs and from aspirin between one’s legs to transvaginal probes.

I find Ta-Nehisi’s point particularly powerful. Let’s call conservative social attitudes, policies and legislative efforts what they are: Mean. Mean-spirited. Cruel. When you reduce living, breathing human beings to your worst ideas about them, and act on that reduction, you’re acting with genuine cruelty. Plain and simple.

But here’s another thing that I can’t stop thinking about: When you do these things, you’re also lying.

Bigotry is lies.

It doesn’t matter if the bigot actually believes what he or she is saying. When you tell me that black Americans should “demand paychecks instead of food stamps” — you’re spreading lies. When you tell me that “if you’re involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it’s bondage” — you’re spreading lies. When you tell me that Islam and Muslims are “pure, unadulterated evil” — you’re spreading lies.

Spanish is the “language of living in the ghetto“? Women frequently and regularly lie about having been raped? Recipients of unemployment insurance need to “get off their backsides and get a job… [and] stop stealing from their neighbors“? Lies, lies, and more lies.

Cruel lies, at that.

These are not differences of opinion, or legitimate perspectives on the world. These are lies told and perpetuated in order to allow those who tell them to have power over certain classes of human, or, at the very least, to feel superior to said humans. And I’m done pretending otherwise.

I can accept that your religion teaches you that men should control women, and that birth control and abortion are wrong. But when you insist that you have a right to impose that belief on me in this country, a secular nation by definition and design — you’re lying. You can believe in your heart of hearts that homosexuality is disgusting. But when you insist that you have a right to deny LGBTQ Americans their civil rights as a result — you’re lying. On and on and bloody on.

At a certain point, willed and willful ignorance becomes willed and willful deceit, of the self and of others. If you honestly believe that certain people deserve to be denied some measure of human dignity because of how the Good Lord/Mother Nature created them? Then you, sir or madam, are full of it.

And if you’re an elected representative of one of this nation’s two political parties (like every single one of the people to whom I link following the words “bigotry is lies”), I have an even greater duty to call you on it.

What is white privilege.

Trayvon Martin

When my husband and I came to Chicago from Israel so that I could go to graduate school, we had no intention of staying here permanently.

But then the second Palestinian intifada happened, and the Israeli government’s entirely irresponsible and deadly response to same, and we came to a conclusion: We no longer wanted to raise children in Israel.

At the time, we only had the one child, a round-cheeked toddler boy, but the fact of his boy-ness sharpened the point. Our choice came mostly out of a desire to educate him differently, to not sacrifice his up-bringing and our values on the altar of occupation and settlement, but there was an unavoidable sense of having also snatched our son from the jaws of war — because in Israel, of course, every 18 year old boy is drafted into the military. Girls go, too, but they don’t see combat. They don’t die.

I bring this up now because I’ve been thinking a lot about all the parents of African American boys who are holding their sons a little closer today in the wake of the horrible, heartbreaking Trayvon Martin case.

My aunt is one of those moms — white as me, but mom to a black man who was once young, a young black man who was stopped for jogging in his own neighborhood, a young black man for whom she would tremble a little whenever he went into the city.

Like every other parent of a young black man, my aunt knew that my cousin could be frisked, arrested, and even killed for little but his youth, gender, and skin.

Like Trayvon Martin.

Like Travares McGill.

Like Sean Bell.

Like Timothy Stansbury, Jr.

Like Amadou Diallo.

Like Oscar Grant.

Like Orlando Barlow.

Like Aaron Campbell.

Like Steven Eugene Washington.

Like Kiwane Carrington.

Kiwane Carrington was 15 when he was killed. Steven Eugene Washington was autistic. Orlando Barlow “was surrendering and on his knees.”

All were killed by people charged with protecting them, whether as law enforcement or law enforcement support of one kind or another. None were armed.

When I look at my boy — on the cusp of adolescence, at the brink of a teenager’s certainty and stupidity, about to try on the world in the guise of a boy-man — I can imagine what might have been: We might have sent him to the Israeli military, he might have worn that uniform, we might have sat by the phone and trembled in fear.

But we removed him and ourselves from those might-haves. We stayed in a place where just being a young man did not by definition mean offering yourself up to die.

For Trayvon Martin, Travares McGill, Sean Bell, Timothy Stansbury, Jr., Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant, Orlando Barlow, Aaron Campbell, Steven Eugene Washington, Kiwane Carrington, and countless others, however, there was never a choice.

These days, Americans spent a lot of time arguing about “white privilege” — if it exists, what it means, what its consequences might be.

But I think I know what white privilege is.

White privilege is never being frightened for my son’s life, simply because of the color of his skin.

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Update – please also see: 

What is white privilege, pt II – “If you watch the following and realize that you have never needed to share any of these tips with anyone you love, you’re living with a very particular kind of privilege.”

Helping anti-choice terrorists, one name at a time.

Last week, I got all caught up in my anti-War on Women fury and tweeted an article that, it transpired, was three years old. Oopsie!

In my defense, though, it was about a law in Oklahoma that was really, really heinous and had actually passed, so my brain was a bit addled. This law (later struck down by the courts) would have required that the details of every abortion conducted in the state be posted on a public website:

The questionnaire doesn’t include the woman’s name or “any information specifically identifying the patient,” but it does ask for age, race, level of education, marital status, number of previous pregnancies, and the county in which the abortion was performed, information which opponents of the bill argue would be enough to identify a woman in a small town. The questionnaire also asks about the mother’s reason for the abortion, her method of payment, and even what type of insurance she has, as well as whether the fetus received anaesthetic and whether there was “an infant born alive as a result of the abortion.”

So, you know – phew! At least we dodged that one!

Except we didn’t.

It’s not happening in Oklahoma anymore – but it is on the cusp of happening in Tennessee (also sadly known as the “don’t say gay” state) — with this particular bill boasting the added bonus of distributing helpful information to those who might want to murder abortion providers:

A new bill moving through the Tennessee House of Representatives would require the state to publish the names of each doctor who performs an abortion and detailed statistics about the woman having the procedure, which opponents worry will spur anti-abortion violence in the state.

The Life Defense Act of 2012, sponsored by state Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesboro), mandates that the Tennessee Department of Health make detailed demographic information about every woman who has an abortion available to the public, including her age, race, county, marital status, education level, number of children, the location of the procedure and how many times she has been pregnant. Each report would also have to include the name of the doctor who performed the procedure.

In the words of Rep. Gary Odom (D-Nashville), this bill “puts a target on women’s and physicians’ backs. I think it’s a very dangerous piece of legislation and serves no purpose I can tell other than trying to intimidate women and physicians.”

Indeed.

And some people wonder why I’m so engulfed in rage these days.

Dear GOP: You do know how pregnancy works, right?

I have been pregnant four times.

These pregnancies led to the following four results, in this order: abortion, baby, miscarriage, baby.

These pregnancies occurred over a span of many years, across two continents, and in three different homes. There were at least seven different health care professionals involved, my hair styles varied widely, as did my levels of nausea. The only constant, in all four cases, other than me, was the presence of a penis.

It happened to be the penis I eventually married, but regardless, that is how pregnancy works. No matter who you are, no matter your sexuality, ability to reproduce, or family make-up, if there are children in your life, at some point along the way, there was a penis involved.

I mention this only because it seems the GOP may have forgotten.

Because as we trundle along, shaming women for having any kind of sex, ever, that is not entirely focused on producing babies — even if we are married, even if it wasn’t so much “sex” as “rape,” even if having a baby would threaten our health and thus the well-being of the children we already have — we are completely and utterly ignoring the fact that the single, solitary way for humans to reproduce is for sperm to meet egg. And sperm, you may recall, come from penises.

Which are attached, for the most part, to men.

With the understanding that gender is not as binary as Western culture may have once thought it — if women are having too much sex, so are men. If women are producing babies, so are men. If women are making irresponsible reproductive choices with which they want to burden “the American people” — so.are.men.

Birth control, abortions, prenatal care, postpartum care, child care — whatever we may think, whatever we may have been told — are not women’s issues. THEY ARE HUMAN ISSUES.

There is a purely incandescent rage that comes over me now on a nearly daily basis over the blatant dehumanization of women that is currently sweeping the nation. It is exhausting. It is heart breaking. It is spirit crushing. And there’s nothing to be done but to continue to feel it, because I refuse to stop fighting for my right, my daughter’s right, my mother’s right, my sister’s right — the inalienable right of all women everywhere — to human dignity.

But every once and a while, a particularly galling aspect of the GOP’s War on Women floats to the top of the filth, and I am gobsmacked anew. And today it is as simple as this: Women do not reproduce on their own.

If the Republican Party is so anxious to control women’s sexuality (and it clearly is), it had better start shaming men, too.

That is, unless its representatives are willing to argue that men are constitutionally incapable of not sticking their junk into the nearest available lady bits, and we gals have all the power.

I, for one, have too much respect for men to buy that.

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UPDATE – NOTE ON COMMENTING.

I’m so glad you’re here and if you’d like to comment, that’s lovely! I have an About Commenting page, but the rules boil down to: Treat people as you would like to be treated.

What that means for me is that even when we disagree (perhaps especially when we disagree), it’s very important that we treat each other with respect and basic good manners. What that further means is that I do not allow trolling (yelling for the sake of yelling) or rude pronouncements of someone else’s stupidity/mendacity/general fail (my own, or any commenters). People can, and on this blog often do, disagree politely. I ask that you do so here.

ALSO: Every first comment goes into moderation. A) I’ll get you out as soon as I can! unless B) I decide you’ve been rude and/or troll-y, in which case, you’ll go to spam. Them’s the breaks.

AND FINALLY: I don’t work on Shabbat (sundown Friday to just after sundown Saturday, CST) so you may get stuck for even longer…! But I’ll get to you, I promise.

Another day, another Santorum miracle.

Rick Santorum to Glenn Beck:

On the president’s efforts to boost college attendance, Santorum said, “I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely … The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country.”

He claimed that “62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it,” but declined to cite a source for the figure.

What’s the miracle?

That there is apparently no end to the ways in which Rick Santorum can make me want to headdesk. Just when I thought I’d taken the measure of the man — Blah people are given other people’s money in the form of government handouts, abortion providers should be arrested, the Dutch kill old people for being old — he comes up with some damn new thing.

President Obama wants to indoctrinate our children with harmful, faithless notions — so he’s working to increase enrollment at colleges and universities.

I cannot with this guy. I just cannot.

Sick and tired of being Israeli. Again. Still.

As I obsess about Khader Adnan and what will happen in Israel/Palestine if he dies in Israeli custody, and meanwhile also try to fit in actual paying work that is almost all about advocating for the two-state solution that Israel appears bound and determined to destroy, I find that all I can feel is how tired I am of being Israeli. Again. I wrote about it once, and nothing’s changed. So, a re-up:

I’m sick of being Israeli.

I am sick of watching my home lurch from bad to worse — from the unavoidable xenophobia of any hounded and nationalistic people, to creeping-vine-xenophobia, the kind that the holds the whole house up at a certain point, having all but replaced whatever was once between the bricks. Israel had one good, shining year when it seemed it might be stepping forward rather than back, but 1993 came and went and here we are, worse off than we were before the Oslo Accords, because the Palestinian economy is more thoroughly wrecked, the Palestinian people more thoroughly occupied, Palestinian land more thoroughly gobbled up, and thousands of people (the vast majority of them Palestinian) more thoroughly dead.

And to those who would say “Is America really any different?” (as some friends have) I would say: Yes. In America, we go from bad to better — slowly, painfully, splutteringly, we move forward. Israel? Not so much. Have you seen the recent spate of anti-democratic laws passed in The Middle East’s Only Democracy ™? Or read up on why all those protesters were out on the streets for all those weeks? Not to mention the continual erosion, by design, of any and all hope for a genuine, mutally acceptable peace with the Palestinians? Bad to worse, bad to worser, bad to worsest (until the next worsest comes along).

And I am sick of the lies, and lies, and lies, and then more lies, and more to the point, the fact that I continually find myself living in what feels like an alternate reality because my Israeli government goes on and on telling whopper after whopper and my American government just lets it go. Watches as the lies slip and slide past, without so much as a “hey, are you sure? Maybe we should check the documents!” And I sit here with my masters degree and my books and my ability to think in a fashion that does not resemble a drunken bastard and time after time, find myself insisting that, no, really! You can’t make reality up! (Think of it this way: It’s like the climate change debate, on every front, every day, all day long. Forever).

I am sick and tired — exhausted, drained, and demoralized — by the endless, daily effort involved in just thinking about all this, and you know what? If I weren’t Israeli? I wouldn’t have to.

I don’t know if the plan has been to drive Israelis like me away (though driving Israelis like me away is certainly considered a bonus in some quarters), but damn. I am sick to tears of having to have anything to do with the sociopathy and psychopathy that characterize official Israel.

And I am sick to tears of being sick of it.

Dear Israel: This is why my children are not growing up in Israel.

Israeli Border Patrol - not exactly cops on the beat. (Source: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

I’ve been particularly fixated this week on this story out of East Jerusalem (which, it should be noted, is a misnomer for the Palestinian neighborhoods and villages in and around Jerusalem which Israel is steadily Judacizing, many of which were not part of Jerusalem when Israel captured the city in 1967 but have since been unilaterally annexed):

Clashes erupted late Tuesday when the Israeli army entered the town in order to arrest a resident on charges of throwing stones. The arrest caused heightened tensions in the town and dozens of young residents gathered to confront the soldiers.

The clashes between the soldiers and the residents concentrated in Hai Abeid, which is downtown Issawiya, and continued until the early hours of the morning. According to witnesses, over a dozen Palestinians were injured. One of the wounded residents was hit with a rubber-coated bullet in his head and is currently in critical situation.

The Israeli border guard reported two injuries of Israeli soldiers who were taken to Hadassah hospital.

The army has deployed more soldiers to the area and the current situation is still tense.

Confrontations between the Israeli army and residents of Issawiya are very common, especially when the army enters the town. In the past two years dozens of residents have been injured and arrested and one [14 month old] child was killed from inhaling tear gas.

There are several reasons to get fixated, starting with the fact that this is the sort of news that people outside Palestine (and by that I also mean Israelis living a mile away) never, ever hear. I cannot tell you how I wish the world were more aware of the daily violence inherent to the occupation.

Then there’s the fact that “the Israeli army entered the town” to arrest someone for stone throwing.

I suspect the reference is to the Border Patrol, nominally a police unit but uniformed and armed as soldiers — neither Israelis nor Palestinians differentiate in any meaningful way between the two. So this means that virtual-soldiers swarmed Issawiya in order to arrest a resident of Jerusalem — a nominally undivided city — for throwing stones.

Is stone throwing nice? Nope. Can it lead to death? Yep. Is it the last weapon of the dispossessed in a frantic struggle to maintain some level of liberty and human dignity in the face of nearly monstrous power? You betcha. Does it warrant an influx of soldiers armed to the teeth using live rounds? No.

And there’s the little-known fact that Issawiya is literally on the other side of a wall from world-reknown Hebrew University, to which American Jews regularly send money and students. These clashes happen literal yards from classrooms, and no one has any idea. Lord knows I didn’t until I went to Issawiya myself.

But I also have a personal reason to fixate on this particular clash: A little more than a year ago, my family and I stood on that very ground, in solidarity and in a call for peace.

Click here to see a picture of Issawiya: IDF, Palestinians clash in East Jerusalem; one critically wounded — you see that fence in the foreground?

You should watch all of the following clip, but if you go to the 1:24 mark and look at that same fence in the top-right corner, you’ll see us walking alongside it: a little girl in green, a man in sunglasses, a woman in a black shirt, and a boy in a brown shirt. If you watch the next clip (and please do watch all of it, too), just after a sign that reads “Stop the Imprisonment of Isawiya” is moved (the top of the screen, 1:30 mark), you’ll see my daughter and husband again.

*

So the other day, I called my son over and showed him the picture, and then with the cursor reminded him of where we had walked, where we’d turned up the street, where our Palestinian brothers and sisters had stretched an enormous Palestinian flag over us as we passed under and they welcomed us to their village — and told him that our army had shot more than 12 of the people living there, one of them critically.

Never have I felt more powerfully the fact that I have betrayed the forces of good by choosing to live in the US. And never have I been gladder that I am not raising my children to be sacrificed on the altar of the settlement policies that justify such rank injustice.

For a fact sheet on Israel’s tightening control over Palestinian Jerusalem, click here