My Nancy Pelosi Freak-Out

I can’t start this post without at least making an attempt to distract the folks who will use this against me in the coming years. Hold on just a second while I try to get rid of them.


Hey! Is that a naked lady carrying three semi automatic guns wearing a hat that says "Will fuck for ammo" walking down your street? My god, I think she’s being followed by a small group of concerned Christians who are praying and having some kind of delicious potluck. You’d better go check.


Okay, now, let’s talk about Nancy Pelosi.

As you may have noticed. I’ve not mentioned her. Mostly because it’s exceedingly difficult to blog with one hand covering your eyes to keep from having to see if things are as bad as you suspect they might be.

So, I’ll admit, I’ve been ignoring her.

And yet, mark r asks why he feel compelled to beat her with a bus, which has me thinking about why I recoil at the mention of her name.

I see Egalia’s enthusiasm for Pelosi, and I admit to being a little jealous. I would love to look at her and feel unabashedly proud.

There’s this feminist poem, which I can’t, for the life of me, find, but it’s about how life is a race and men and women set off on this race and the women are loaded down with children and beauty constraints and less pay for the same work and all this jazz and I think the last line of the poem is something like "She’s still running" or something, though, I may be confusing it with "And Still I Rise."

Anyway, when I look at Pelosi, that’s what I think of, the grandma who doesn’t look it; the woman with the brown hair and the smooth forehead and the wide, young eyes, and the slim body, and the suit, and the pearls.

She was determined to win the race, to have power, even if it meant doing to herself things required of no man.

Maybe this is where we see the gaps between the waves of contemporary feminism. For the NOW crowd, this is a clear-cut victory. There is a position of power; now it’s filled by a woman. Score one for us; let us celebrate in the streets. For the rad fems, I’m sure this is no real victory. So what if one woman can finally navigate a female-unfriendly system to get on top? The point is to tear down the systems.

I feel a middle way. I want to be proud, but I’m not sure what there is to be proud of. If how Nancy Pelosi is is how you have to be in order to be powerful, most of the rest of us just might as well forget it. We could never afford the surgeries necessary to get and maintain that look. It’s not just that, it’s that the look is even necessary to begin with. Pelosi was powerful when she was just a member of Congress, but not powerful enough to just have some wrinkles if they came, not powerful enough to say, "Fuck it, I’m a grandma. It’s fine if I look like a grandma."

But maybe this is how it has to be done. If women are going to achieve high positions of power, maybe they have to play by the rules in place.

But I don’t feel good about it.

I’m going to say something so bullshitty I hope you don’t hold it against me, but if she’s a feminist, why does she look that way?

Yes, America, this is the depth of my fucked-up-ness. I can look at one of the most powerful women in America and question her feminist credentials because of how she looks. Though, in all fairness to myself, I don’t think it’s just that I’m fucked up. I really do think it has to do with those gaps in ideology.

We have a million feminist factions, true, but we also have three generations (or more) of feminists alive as well. I think that, for feminists of the generation above me, this does look amazing. God, I’d like to share in that. So, explain it to me: is it enough for women to have power? Especially if she identifies herself as a feminist? Or do we hope for a woman who is not business as usual?

Conservatives, Help Me With This

I can never remember.  Is the West a drunken, decadent slut who deserves the smiting she’s going to get for her evil, evil ways or the last bastion of purity and goodness that must be protected from the onslaught of whichever teaming mass it is this week who means to do us harm?

My god.  Can a whole civilization have a virgin/whore complex?

No, you know, shit, that makes a kind of sense.  If the West is a boozy Tara Reid, conservatives see their roll as the bouncer who finally takes her out of the nightclub, talks some sense into her and gets her to check into rehab.  If the West is more a delicate Dakota Fanning, or a very young Drew Barrymore with George C. Scott waiting for her to  finally mature into a woman who can appreciate him… or something.  My point being that both views of the West put conservatives in the roll of savior.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter.  I’m just reminded that the difference between most conservatives and the libertarians I know is that the libertarians I know seem to have some grasp of how the world works (even if we differ in our interpretations) and use such knowledge to formulate their opinions, whereas a loud strain of conservative thinkers just spout out opinions as if saying it loud enough makes it so.  Still, I’m compelled to keep trying to reach the conservatives who appear to have some smarts in order to get them to consider taking after their libertarian bretheren and sisteren more closely. 

Which brings us to Kleinheider‘s post about Terry Frank’s post about how we’re being outbred by third-world and Muslim countries.  As one might imagine, Kleinheider assumes that we’re not having quivers full of kids because we’re selfish.  Which, I guess, means the inevitable death of the West.  Or something.

I have some things I would like to ask my friend Carter to consider.

Right now the infant mortality rate in the United States is 6.5 deaths per 1,000 live births, which means, just to reiterate, that for every 1,000 babies born this year in the Unites States, about seven of them aren’t going to make it to their first birthday.  Almost seven out of a thousand.  There were 4.1 million babies born in the United States last year.  If my math is correct, that’s almost twenty-seven thousand babies that aren’t going to make it through this whole year.

Can you imagine that?  Twenty-seven thousand babies.

And yet, there are no third-world or Muslim countries with lower rates than that.  In Afghanistan, it’s 163 deaths per 1,000 births.  More than one in ten babies won’t make it to their first birthdays.

Do you think a woman would choose those odds for her child?  If she could choose, do you really think a woman would say, “Gosh, yes, I want to bring a child into this world who has a one in ten chance of dying before he’s one.”?

Or consider maternal mortality rates.  In Afghanistan in 2000, the maternal mortality rate was  1,900 dead women for every 100,000 births.  Nineteen dead women for every thousand births.  And that doesn’t account for multiple pregnancies.  In sub-Saharan Africa, the lifetime risk of maternal death is one in sixteen.

One women in sixteen in sub-Saharan Africa will die due to complications during childbirth, often leaving behind other children.  What woman would choose that?  To orphan her children?

In general, women don’t want to die and we don’t want our children to die.  If we can avail themselves of information and products that would make it possible for us to decide when and how often we have kids, we will.  Not because we’re selfish whores inadvertently bringing about the downfall of Western civilization, but because we want to have kids if and when we can provide for them.

Women in other countries are not “outbreeding” us as a tactic for world-wide domination, but because they often don’t have any other choice.   They often don’t have access to birth control or even information about birth control; they often have no legal right to tell men ‘no’, especially not their husbands; they, for all practical purposes, often have no control over whether they get pregnant.

Anyway, this is also what a woman’s right to choose is about, not just about whether or not to carry a baby to term, but the right to choose how many kids to have and when, a right that is fundamental not just for liberty’s sake, but for the sake of infant and maternal health.

A low birthrate isn’t a sign of a selfish culture; it’s the sign of a culture that respects the health and well-being of women and children (some of whom, I might point out, grow up to be men).