A Whole New Me

I talked to my dad at lunch, who is enjoying his retirement more than I’ve seen any man alive enjoy his retirment.  He’s talking about coming down at least twice this month to help get the house ready and he’s giddy with plans for moving the trailer to our back yard, where he and Mom can stay whenever they come to visit us and we can use as a guest room (for those of you who prefer your staying with us to be a little… um… rustic).

Oh, wait, I have to tell you a story that is only tangentially related to my dad and his thrill at getting to help move us into the house.  So, when my dad was down here last week, he found this little rooster in the hospital gift shop that crows when you squeeze it.  He bought it and had me give it to Mack, you know, just as a little dig about the state of his chicken coop.  I warned him he might be starting a gift war he couldn’t finish, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned about my dad, it’s that he can’t often be reasoned with.

But and so he was determined to give the rooster to Mack.  Which I did.  And Mack was all, some people who might not want to have a Hustler box delivered to them probably shouldn’t start fights.  So, when my dad called today, I passed that along and he was all “Woo hoo!  Your mom won’t let me go in those places!”

God damn, that tickled me.

Where was I?

Oh, yes, so I’m all telling him what I did today–pay bills, clean the dog, deflea the dog, wash my unmentionables, do the dishes, give my landlord my thirty days notice, get the things I need to fix the toilet, get dog food, get some paint chips to show the Primary Wife and ask her about over at the house, blog, blog, blog–and my dad’s all “You know, Labor Day does’t mean you do all the labor you’ve been putting off all summer.”

But y’all, I feel good. And it’s one of those “good”s that is a whole body good.  A kind of core, fundimental good, the kind of good that makes you wonder how long it’s been that you’ve mildly felt bad.

I don’t know, America.  It’s nice.  Really nice.

And I think it’s got to do with finally getting all that stuff addressed.

I hope the feeling lasts.

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Oh My God! Did All of Sarah Palin’s Friends and Family Die?

I don’t like Sarah Palin.  I’m tired of writing about her.  But Jesus Christ, it’s as if the internet has just discovered that there are women and we have babies.  I want to specifically talk about this post from John Aravosis.

1.  It is very, very weird that Palin would, after saying that her water broke, take a nine hour flight from Texas to Alaska.  Yes.  I conceed that.  On the other hand, I can very easily understand how, if you were giving birth to a child, you would want to have that baby in a place you were familiar with near your extended family and with the doctors who had been with you all along through your pregnancy.  Maybe we can cut her a little slack?

2.  I hate to use the word “elitist” but it is fucking elitist to assume that she couldn’t get perfectly fine health care in her own town and therefore should have stayed in Texas.  If you are trying to argue that Trig is Palin’s grandson, I will accept you making the argument that it would have been very difficult for her, once her water broke, to not give birth in Texas, but I completely reject the idea that she should have.

3.  It would be weird if Palin turned out to have faked her pregnancy, but not without precident.  And I’m not sure other than proving her to be a liar about something she should have no need to lie about, it proves any more than that.

4.  Who cares if Palin’s daughter is having a baby?  Women have babies.  (See Obama.)

5.  Which brings me to my main bone of contention.  Women have babies.  We have had babies since the advent of women, if not before that.  It’s not surprising or shocking or alarming or any of your business if a 44 year old woman decides to have a baby.  It’s also not surprising or shocking or alarming that a 44 year old woman would have a baby and then go back to work.

Again, talk about some bullshit elitist assumptions.  A lot of women go back to work right after giving birth.  It’s not some unheard of cause for hand-wringing; it’s the truth of a lot of women’s lives.  To act as if there’s something wrong with Palin not dropping out of public life and… I don’t know… taking to hear bed for six weeks, is stupid.  There are women who have to drop out of their lives and take to their beds after giving birth, but it’s not a requirement.

6.  Trig just has Down’s Syndrome.  He’s not made of glass.  He doesn’t require being placed in a little jar and taken out every ten minutes to be watered and turned in the sunlight.  He doesn’t need someone staring at him 24 hours a day to make sure he doesn’t… I don’t know… die, I guess.

Listen, I’m no disabilities rights activist.  I’m not well-read on disability rights stuff, but I find there to be something so viscerally gross about this idea that Trig’s situation is peralous and tragic and that the Palins are to be treated with two extra helpings of respect because he’s their son, but also held up to two extra helpings of contempt if they don’t completely turn their lives over solely to his care.

I mean, I don’t want to downplay the stuff that comes with having a kid with issues, but lots of people have kids with issues and those kids are just that–kids.  Trig is just a baby.  No more, no less.

He’s got a huge family–including a dad who’s unemployed at the moment–and his family has a lot of friends.  He will be fine, even if his mom can’t give him 24/7 attention.

I don’t know.  Maybe I’m not making myself clear.  I just think there’s something really gross about this idea that Palin should be staying at home with her kid because he’s got the “tragic” condition.  No, it’s not inherently a tragedy that Trig has Down’s syndrome.  It’s just a thing he and his family will have to deal with.

Just like a lot of families are dealing with a lot of things.  And it’s not the mom’s inherent job to be the only one who does the dealing.

7.  Lots of folks are using the Left’s treatment of Palin as a big gotcha, like “Oh, see, those Lefties are so sexist.”  And I just want to say, “Well, fucking duh.  Our whole culture is sexist.”  It doesn’t let the Right off the hook.  But, god damn, Lefties, shape up.

Feminism Is Not a Moral Position

I see a lot of folks talking about how Palin is a step back for women or a colluder in the oppression of women or a terrible choice for vice president because she should be staying at home with her children, not because we believe that a woman should stay home with her children but because that’s what conservatives believe and it’s perfectly okay to hold them to their own standards.

I, myself, think that Palin represents a mixed bag in terms of feminism.  On the one hand, the policies she stands for are, at their heart, deeply anti-feminist and this, in the face of her so clearly benefitting from feminism–with her, oh you know, getting to go to college, having funded sports she could participate in while in high school, being able to have a career (or two or three), and then getting to be governor of Alaska–it is tempting to flip her off every time she comes on the television screen.  After all, she didn’t achieve these things based solely on her own merit, but because other people fought long and hard so she could have those opportunities and it would be nice to see her acknowledge that and act to give those same opportunities to other women, instead of fighting for policies that would roll back our accomplishments.

However, and therefore on the other hand, feminism is not a moral position (see here for all the times we’ve talked about this before, with this being the first.).  I quote myself rather than repeat myself:

If women are asked to be active–to kill someone, to fight someone, to torture someone, to escape from someone–and they are stuck with these gender prescriptions, we can’t access the right to be active through being men; we must access that right through being immoral. (Oh, Mary Magdalene, now it’s clear why you are commonly thought to be a prostitute, even though there’s nothing in the Bible to suggest it of you!) But the three things are so closely linked that the feminists and anti-feminists both are not seeing the activity and immorality; each in her own way is seeing it as a problem of women wanting to be (or just becoming) too much like men.

(We can see the flip side of this phenomenon when men who are wimpy or sticklers for rules are called pussies, linking moral behavior and passivity with womanliness.)

Obviously, I can’t speak to the anti-feminists. In a perfect world, all the anti-feminists would renounce for themselves all the gains the women’s movement has given them, chiefly among them, wide-spread female literacy, and I wouldn’t have to worry about them reading this.

But, to my fellow feminists, I say, feminism is not a moral position. Of course, there are many different kinds of feminism, but, broadly speaking, feminism is about women’s rights to participate fully and equally in society. And as much as that means it should be conceivable that we be soldiers and congress people and CEOs, it must also mean that it should be conceivable that we be killers and torturers and child molesters. [emphasis mine]

I’m not trying to equate Palin with killers and torturers and child molesters.  But I’m trying to say that it is a victory for feminism that she (and Marsha Blackburn and that ilk) have political power.  Does it suck that they act like this power came to them solely because they deserved it and worked hard for it?  Yes.

But feminism is not a moral position.  As a feminist, I am not asking the world to make room only for women who advance the policies that I like.  I am demanding that the world make room for all women, even the ones I don’t like.

There are a lot of charges of hypocrisy being throw around these days, but let me remind you that it is the height of hypocrisy to champion women’s rights and feminist positions, but only for the right kinds of women.

I am a feminist because I believe that, if the world were more hospitable to women, my life and the lives of other women would be better.  That’s my end goal.  To stretch the idea of who constitutes a full, grown-up human being with full rights wide enough to accommodate women.

And it is a cringe-worthy irony that, as that happens, it means that women who I strongly disagree with will be in positions powerful enough to thwart me in achieving my goals.

But feminism is not a moral position and I don’t get to pick and choose which women get to benefit from it and what that benefiting will look like.