Feeling Thankful

First, please allow me to appologize for my silence here lately.  Now that the election is over and Obama is doing all the right things, well… some of the pressure is off.  However, I just saw HBO’s Iron Jawed Angels and… well, it might be the red wine, but I loved it.  Sure, it was a little corny and the soundtrack hardly matched the era but I’m a sucker for a powerful story.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about feminism (er, Feminism?) and what it means to me.  After all, almost nothing I’m doing right now would have been possible without incredible sacrifice by brave, powerful women who came before me.  I’m unmarried but living with a man I love, I am getting an MA at a Major East Coast University, I control my reproductive system, and voted in the last election.

So, stay with me, this may take a while.

In many ways I am not an expert on gender theory or politics—I tended to doze through my classes on feminist art criticism in college; I’ve resisted the term feminist longer than many of my peers; and it is hard for me to get angry about someone using the phrase “you guys” instead of “you all.”  Also, and this may not make me popular with the feminist blogosphere, I think that American women have it pretty good– not in every way, and not perfect, but pretty good.  Hillary Clinton, after all, could only put “18 million cracks in that last glass ceiling” years after many countries, even countries generally considered hostile to women’s rights embraced female leadership.

As the daughter of a quiet second-wave feminist, I grew up wearing T-shirts that said “little me” and reading books about powerful, historic women (Nellie Bly and Margaret Sanger continue to be an inspiration).  I had no doubt that America will see a female president in my lifetime; I supported Barack Obama from day one and never looked back.  Until, that is, I had the opportunity to meet a woman named Michele who worked as an underground abortion counselor in the late 1960s in Minnesota.  Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Feminism, Sexism and Media, Thought Provoking

Still The Cause, Not the Technology

Obama's Facebook Page

This semester I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about successful campaign organization and messaging.  One common thread, in all my classes and volunteer work, is that without a solid message or a good candidate all the technology in the world wont help.  Nowhere is this clearer to me than in the presidential election.  Although Obama certainly did have an exceptional social networking strategy, it helped that he is an extremely charismatic man with a talent for oratory and keeping calm in stressful situations.

I can’t help but think that the exact same online strategy wouldn’t have helped John Kerry nearly as much– Obama’s talent was connecting with the voters and Facebook was just a tool to get that done.  In contrast, men like Kerry and Howard Dean never got over initial stumbles or the perception that he’s inaccessible.  Sure, Facebook creates the illusion that someone is accessible (we know he likes Bob Dylan, for example) but Obama isn’t making these pages– his communications staff is. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Class Work, Social Networking

I Can Haz Utorus?

Just when I thought my private bits were safe from harm, I read this article in today’s New York Timest.  Apparently, all the letters that H*yas for Choice collected were for nothing.  Although he missed the May 1 and Nov 1. deadline, G.W. Bush is planning to push through the so-called provider conscience regulations.

I’ve said this before, I don’t think being pro-choice means you need to be 100% comfortable with abortion.  This is a complex issue and reasonable, educated, intelligent people will probably disagree about it forever.  But, and this is a huge thing for me, your own personal choices do not need to be the personal choices for everyone else.

My major problem with the legislation is that it allows doctors and nurses to refuse to reffer someone to another place where they can obtain birth control, condoms, an abortion, EC, etc.  I think that it is one thing to personally opt out of these services, tell your patients long before they get into the exam room, and publicize this personal choice for your personal practice.  It is not, however, in any way okay with me to deny women the information they need to make informed medical choices.  A rape victim should never have to wonder if the doctor in the ER will proscribe EC.  If an assault victim asks for EC she is making a choice for herself and that doctor, whose role in her life she had little control over, should carry out her wishes.

Please, please contact HHS or the White House using the Planned Parenthood online form.  You can also submit your own letter using my text (after the jump) Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Pro-Choice

Michelle Obama As Model and Role Model

I’ve been holding off on sharing my thoughts on Michelle Obama, not because I don’t think she is an unbelievable woman but because everyone from Feministing to Jezebel to Salon has noted how a woman with degrees from Princeton and Harvard, a successful career, two beautiful daughters and an accomplished husband is now talking a lot about… fashion?  And cooking?

In a year when women made huge leaps forward (even Sarah Palin, I’m embarrassed to say), why has Michelle Obama’s role as first lady been reduced to domestic concerns about schools, redecorating the White House, fashion, and hosting parties?  I thought that the National Post‘s story summed it up well and it is worth quoting at length (thanks to MicheleObamaWatch for the link):

The battle to conform to wifely expectations was previously fought by Hillary Clinton, a woman who recently made a hell-bent run for the exact same job her husband held in the years that she was forced to choke on her health plan and write books about the White House cat. (So let’s not pretend that the role of stifled icon might not take some independent women on a wacky psychological ride.)

But Michelle is in an even tighter bind, in part because of the legacy left her by Hillary and her detractors. Powerful couples must now tread as far as possible from the “two for one” talk, lest the female half get smacked with a nutcracker.

Like the women at Michelle Obama Watch, I have a couple of problems with this argument.  Mostly, of course there is the notion that women can’t be mothers AND be successful or that choosing to mother and/or follow your husband while he makes history is somehow less than a “successful” choice.  Feminism has been working for years to validate the choices women make, as long as women are making them– not their fathers, husbands, brothers etc.  Also, I worry that this idea that powerful women can’t be in the White House means that we’re reinscribing the idea that ANY woman can’t be a powerful force in the White House– even as a president, someday.  Even Hillary Clinton couldn’t escape the “her spouse will be too powerful” argument.  I don’t like the idea that the most powerful person the world can’t/shouldn’t have a spouse that challenges him/her or that has opinions of her/his own. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Feminism, Sexism and Media

Does the White House Have Wi-Fi?

So, in case anyone was wondering if the comparisons between Obama and FDR were a little, oh… too soon, I bring you– the YouTube chat.  Perhaps these are not yet as effective as the Fireside Chat FDR made famous, but I think that long term these could be a really good way for Obama to appera accessible, circumvent the pundits, and possibly remain as sympathetic a character as he was on the campaign trail.  In fact, it looks like ChangeDotGov is going to keep its own YouTube channel operating.  I hope they can continue to do this throughout the administration.  However, given the importance of archiving and documentation I worry that these ephemeral forms of media will be too risky for the antiquated archiving system used by the Govt. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Discourse, Thought Provoking

A Love Letter to NPR’s “On the Media”

Right On Red on NPRs On the Media

"Right On Red" on NPR's "On the Media"

I hope you all listen to NPR’s “On the Media” every week– it (along with CBC’s “Search Engine“) consistently amazes me with its ability to hit the zeitgeist nail on the head.  This week’s episode is worth a listen, they discuss the Obama campaign’s online outreach work, talk about the world’s reaction to now President-Elect Obama, and talk about the growing split in the GOP.  Basically, I use these as Cliff Notes to my education…

I mean, good lord they’re both free podcasts and you’ll sound super informed and incredibly smart at those cocktail parties and/or in class.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2008 Election, Thought Provoking

Election Recovery, Thank You Notes, and Forgotten Help

One of the Profile Images Planned Parenthood Has Available on Facebook

One of the Profile Images Planned Parenthood Has Available on Facebook

The day after Barack Hussein Obama made history, Planned Parenthood sent me a short thank you note via e-mail.  It included a link to the PDF of their “this is what it feels like” project– pretty cool but, from what I can tell from their website hasn’t been hugely successful.  Also, they didn’t ask me to donate any more money, which was a nice change– the email was just a “thanks, we hope you’ll stay involved, and we couldn’t have done it without you.”  I like to be thanked.

On Facebook, though, they’ve been incredibly quiet.  On one hand, I feel that this is completely understandable.  I know that the money is often budgeted to run out on election day– the day after it is embarrassing to still have cash on hand, especially if you lost.  So, I’ve no doubt that their Facebook staff might have been the first to go.  At the same time, though, I think that Planned Parenthood needed to send a thank you to their Facebook supporters too.  While they might anticipate a fair amount of overlap between their e-mail list and their Facebook list, that didn’t stop them from cross posting things during the election.  By ignoring their Facebook constituency they’re failing to thank/encourage a major demographic that uses Planned Parenthood’s services– young, under or uninsured women.  As of this morning I still haven’t heard from Planned Parenthood on Facebook– nothing from them since election day’s reminder to vote.

They have a lot to celebrate.  President-Elect Obama will, according to The New York Times, reverse the so-called Global Gag RuleContinue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Class Work, Social Networking