The Cruel Shoes: Claire Underwood’s powerfully destabilizing stilettos

Here’s  a fascinating read by Megan Garber of fictional First Lady Claire Underwood’s perma-stilettos in House of Cards:

It is strange and striking that Claire Underwood, who is a human woman if also a fictional one, spends the early episodes of Season 4 of House of Cards permanently clad in stilettos. Claire, now the First Lady of the United States, wears her signature shoes—the shoes that complete her “power dress code”—not just when she is making public appearances, giving speeches and attending international summits and what have you, but also when she is not, technically, “appearing” at all. There’s Claire in the kitchen of the White House residence, hanging out with her husband while teetering in stilettos. There she is visiting her childhood home in Texas—among horse stables and tangled grass, upon soil that is so perilously soft—clad in sky-high heels. There she is nursing her mother in the same impractical footwear. In a scene that finds Claire exhausted from a day of, in every sense, dealing, she returns, finally alone, to the retreat of her lush bedroom, lays down on a chaise, assumes a fetal position, and falls asleep. In her heels.

(Did no woman, ever.)

What does Garber think this all-stilettos, all-the-time performance means? Continue reading

Please explain why it’s a bad thing that (old, uncool) voters who actually vote support Hillary Clinton?

elvgrenvoteUPDATED 8:05 A.M. MST to remind you to VOTE or caucus today if you live in a Super Tuesday state or U.S. territory!

Froma Harrop makes a great point today in a column that ran in the Denver Post this morning:

The question for progressives is: What happens to [Bernie Sanders’]  passionate followers in the event he leaves the race? Or more to the point: Is there a way to keep his ardent fans ardent about participating in the electoral politics? Will they keep voting when the candidates are less charismatic, when the election’s not in a big-deal presidential year, when the solutions are muddied in the reality of two-party politics?

Sanders’ feat in electrifying younger voters has been extraordinary. And that extends to his success with many young Latinos and African-Americans, whose elders went overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton.

But the fickleness of the youth vote has been the bane of progressive politics. It is why the right wing controls Congress.

Continue reading

History’s Greatest Monster wins with support of every Dem in South Carolina except white men.

HillaryclintonSOSHillary Clinton had a big win last night. Even the professional Bernie Sanders-fluffers over at MSNBC had to admit it.  It turns out that white men might as well have not showed up to vote!  (And the younger ones didn’t.  Is that why Sanders fans are so dismissive of Clinton voters and our preferences?  Because we’re not white men?)

Hillary Clinton scored an overwhelming victory Saturday on the strength of nearly unified support from African-American and older voters in South Carolina, according to the NBC News Exit Poll. She captured nearly 90 percent among voters age 65 and older and about the same share of the black vote. She even narrowly beat Bernie Sanders among white voters. She ran up huge margins among all education and income groups, liberals, moderates and conservatives, late deciders and those who say they’ve long known who they were going to vote for.

She also ran very strongly among those who attend religious services at least weekly, and among the lowest income voters, both groups with large numbers of African-Americans. Clinton also ran better among women than men, but walloped Sanders among men as well. Only among white men did she fall short of a majority.

Given the thrashing Clinton administered Saturday, it’s hard to find a demographic group that Sanders won. As in earlier contests, Sanders showed some strength among young voters, winning a narrow majority of those under 30. He also edged Clinton among independents. Sanders received more than six in 10 among voters who said this was their first primary election, but this group was a very small share of the electorate (about one in 10). Not surprisingly, he won a majority among voters who want the next president to pursue more liberal policies than President Obama has.

The bottom line here is that Clinton is doing very well among people who actually show up to vote, even if they’re deeply uncool women, African Americans, old, or two or three for three.  Oh, well:  I think Clinton would rather be president than be considered cool in Williamsburg, Madison, or Austin. Continue reading

“Some say” Clinton is “dishonest.” Will it stop us from voting for her?

Clinton2016Considering that we know that the more competent a woman is perceived, the less liked she is, should we really be surprised that a lot of Americans think Hillary Clinton is “dishonest?”  I’m not.  It’s better for a woman running for president to be seen as competent and unlikable rather than incompetent and likable.

Who’s voting to make Hillary Clinton his or her daughter, wife, mother, aunt, grandmother, the Virgin Mary, Pope of Rome, or Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox church?  I think she’s running for president.  I’m not sure people’s suspicions about her honesty will make a difference.  Do we want someone to be honest in her dealings with Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad, or Mitch McConnell?  Or do we want her to execute multiple mindfracks while playing twelve-dimensional chess in order to pursue the best interests of the United States?

(Have these people never watched House of Cards, in either of its 1980s or 2010s versions, or even the goody-goo-goo West Wing, sacre bleu?) Continue reading

An exceedingly impolite post against sexual relationships with students. (Why is this still even an issue?)

Do you feel lucky today? Well, do ya, punk?

Do you feel lucky today? Well, do ya, punk?

Via (I believe) David Schoppik at NYU and Twitter, I found this petition against sexual misconduct in academia:

Sexual harassment and other forms of sexual misconduct have no place in academia. These kinds of unethical behaviors, which often involve powerful males and their female students or junior colleagues, traumatize the victims, impede equal opportunity in academia, and impoverish the intellectual landscape of our scholarly communities.

As recent highly publicized news reports have made clear, the institutional response to cases of sexual misconduct often contributes to the problem [1-3]. Fear of negative publicity feeds bureaucratic inaction, but as these reports also illustrate, the consequences of institutional indolence can be worse. For the victims of sexual harassment or abuse, it is far worse.

Tough new policies emplaced by universities and professional organizations are welcome, but they will not lead to the needed cultural change without the commensurate commitment of individuals to provide a safe, supportive environment for women and men to learn and work together productively. An individual commitment entails disseminating a message of zero tolerance of sexual misconduct; educating faculty, staff and students about norms of workplace behavior and reporting pathways for their violation; and, most critically, publicly supporting the victims who come forward to report incidences of sexual misconduct. The reporting of misconduct by victims and bystanders should be recognized as courageous actions that are key to making our communities safer and stronger.

Go read the whole thing and sign on if you like–I did.  However, I think it’s offering only weak tea (or “spout water,” really) in its diagnosis and prescription. Continue reading

The best way to prevent pregnancy

Re: the recent silly advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about women and alcoholRebecca Solnit says:  alcohol does not cause pregnancy, so obviously women should avoid men, not alcohol.  “A woman can be fertile as the Tigris Valley in the time of Abraham and she’s not going to get pregnant absent consort with a seed-bearing man. But if you listened to the way it’s often framed, you might believe that women get pregnant on their own.”  Also, if anyone should lay off the sauce, it’s men. because drunk men, not drunk women, are the source of greatest harm to others.

So why the panic over women tying one on?

I wish all this telling women alcohol is dangerous was a manifestation of a country that loves babies so much it’s all over lead contamination from New Orleans to Baltimore to Flint and the lousy nitrate-contaminated water of Iowa and carcinogenic pesticides and the links between sugary junk food and a host of health conditions and the need for universal access to healthcare and daycare and good and adequate food. You know it’s not. It’s just about hating on women. Hating on women requires narratives that make men vanish and make women magicians producing babies out of thin air and dissolute habits. This is an interesting narrative for the power it affords women, but I would rather have an accurate one. And maybe a broader one talking about all the ecological and economic factors that impact the well-being of children. But then the guilty party becomes us, not them.

Continue reading

Women and politics: the REALLY longue durée

annetaintorladypresidentLet’s settle in for  a nice, long story, shall we?

Globally in the historical era–the past 7,000 or so years of recorded history, that is–politics and leadership has traditionally been gendered male, and power has also usually descended genealogically through patriarchal lines. (Except in cases of military conquest or revolution, when it has been seized by brute force by other men.)  When we have seen exceptions to the male exercise of political leadership–but what about Cleopatra?!? you’re thinking, or Queen Elizabeth I of England?!?–they are the exceptions that prove the rule.  They also came to power–as their brothers did–by being the children of kings.

Upon emergence of the liberal state around 1800, in which a select portion of citizens elect their political leaders to one degree or another, women’s opportunities to lead and rule were actually diminished, because democracies in this era restricted both voting rights and eligibility for public office to men only.  It is an uncomfortable fact for we Americans, we evangelists of democracy, that populism is not liberationist.  In fact, it ratifies contemporary prejudices and stereotypes–religious, racial, and of course, gender.  In the past century, Western democracies enfranchised women, but women in elective office have remained a tiny or merely small minority compared to men in elective office. Continue reading