Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday Silly Statistics Lesson

Via, we learn that at Fox News the slices of a pie can add up to more than the total pie! Now that is not only fair-and-balanced but also miraculous.

A bar chart would have been more suitable...

In The Kitchen, Yapping

Some post-Thanksgiving humor for you. We all know that a woman bossing a man is funny whereas the reverse is as gods and nature ordained. And no god will make Glenn Beck take the number 2 position behind a chick:

There it is, in a nutshell, that invisible elephant of the hilarity of fighting "natural" gender hierachies. And yes, I know that an elephant doesn't fit into a nutshell but Beck's brain is too small for a better simile.

If you feel a sense of deja vu again, you are quite correct. This pachyderm sat around many television studios and lounged about in liberal blog comments threads during the Democratic Primaries. It's not just Sarah Palin that it follows.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Definitions of sexism & racism (by Suzie)

When the word “racism” gets mentioned, I bet a lot of people think of Klansmen in white hoods. “Sexism,” however, seems to conjure up a smarmy guy telling a bad joke.

Merriam-Webster online defines sexism as
1: prejudice or discrimination based on sex ; especially : discrimination against women
2: behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex
It defines racism as:
1: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2: racial prejudice or discrimination
Sexism isn’t defined as a belief that gender determines traits and capacities, perhaps because that belief is widely accepted among academics, religious leaders and others. Even if they don’t say men are superior, many assign more highly valued traits to men. Consider this gauge of mainstream thought: The media routinely quote experts explaining why men and women are different, with no rebuttal. They wouldn’t do a similar story on race without quoting someone who disagrees.

Some social scientists describe “hostile sexism,” “ambivalent sexism” and “benevolent sexism.” Hostile sexism is akin to “women are all manipulative sluts.” Tekanji on Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog explains that benevolent sexism involves a “good” stereotype, such as: Women are more virtuous than men. But this can backfire. When a woman doesn’t act virtuous, she may face more criticism than a man would. The example for ambivalent sexism is stereotyping that appears neutral, such as pink for girls and blue for boys. (These terms also apply to racism.)

The Feminism 101 blog says most sexism is unintentional, born out of ignorance. If so, a close second has to be sexist statements made by people who think feminists take ourselves too seriously, want special treatment, are not really oppressed or blame men for everything. (The same can be said about a lot of racist remarks.)

It’s tempting to think hostile and intentional bias is worse than unintentional and benevolent bias. But it depends on the impact. Certainly, a man who kills a bunch of women or a white who kills a bunch of people of color is worse than a poor, elderly, white man who means well but says offensive things from time to time.

On the other hand, a hostile guy who intentionally says rude things doesn’t cause as much damage as a prominent politician who means well but acts in a detrimental way that affects millions.

To complicate the matter further, there are many people, notably academics such as Abby Ferber, who consider all whites racist. She wrote in the HuffPost:
Part of the problem is that we think of racism as an individual quality. We see racists as nasty people who march around with white hoods burning crosses. But this [way of thinking] actually reinforces racism. We need to shift from using "racist" as a noun, to an adjective. The reality is that white folks are racist; how can we grow up in this culture and not internalize racism?
The task that faces us is not to try and identify who is or is not a racist, but to examine the many invisible ways in which racism and white privilege pervade our lives, our views, our assumptions, and our opportunities. The question is not are we racist, but are we anti-racist? What are we doing to recognize and undermine racism and privilege as it shapes our life, day in and day out? We need to strive to make racism more visible, more conscious. Only once it is conscious can we work to undermine it.
I assume that people who believe this also believe that all men are sexist, although I hear that less from academics popular now. It also follows that women internalize sexism and people of color internalize racism.

On a Racialicious thread (not reacting to Ferber), Marge Twain said:
To continue that analogy, all women are sexist too, even though they are not the beneficiaries of sexism. It’s not hard to look around and find women who have internalized the message of their own inferiority, who seek to blame rape-victims or who participate in slut-shaming or believe women and not men are the natural care-takers. Being female doesn’t excuse me from needing to check my own sexist assumptions.
Saying all whites are racist and all men are sexist helps rally the troops, in an us-vs.-them fashion, but does little to guide our actions. I agree with Ferber that actions are what matter.

We need to look at the intention and impact of individual actions, instead of thinking that all acts of bias are equally bad. I’m not saying we should disregard lesser sins and focus only on the most horrific acts. But I tire of name-calling (except when I'm doing it, of course).

We should continue to examine belief systems and structural inequities. We’ve got to stop the media from publicizing, without criticism, theories or beliefs that gender determines traits and capabilities.

What do you think?
Next month I’ll discuss power + privilege and institutionalized bias.

Friday garden blogging (by Suzie)

This is a fountain at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. The water appeals to me as Florida enters its dry season.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Day

Jen has made a list of things to be thankful for. I'd add the removal of the global gag rule to that list. But that would still be a fairly U.S. centered list, and I'm sure you can add other things which elicit gratitude.

Here are a few nice things:

1Watt's Stub dreaming:

Doug's Sasha all grown up:

Michelangelo's statue of David from a different angle:

Meet Tucker Max

Don't shake hands with him, though. He is a wannabe comedian and a real fried-in-the-c*m woman-hater. Jaclyn Friedman wrote about him last September:

Tucker Max thinks that "all women are whores" and that "fat girls aren't real people" -- and those are some of his family-friendlier observations. So why do so many women love him?

If you're not 19 and don't regularly scan the best-seller list, you may need an introduction to the Max oeuvre. Max, a hedonistic folk hero to his fans, got his start in 2002 when, egged on by a friend, he started a blog detailing what he calls his "life as a self-involved, drunken womanizer." The site now gets more than a million unique visitors every month. It has spawned a book, "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell" -- more than 100 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list -- and his exploits have been adapted for the big screen in a movie opening this week.

Max and his growing audience share an unabashed focus on three basic adolescent obsessions: bodily functions, drinking toxic amounts of booze and "scoring." The women in his stories are insulted, tricked, coerced, traded and discarded. One conquest is vomited on and videotaped without her consent.

The author is now in the midst of a 31-city film tour, attracting sold-out crowds at every location, just as he does on college campuses across the country. And according to Max, his audiences are nearly always at least half female.

These women are not reluctant dates dragged there by men exacting revenge for being forced to sit through the "Sex and the City" movie. They are die-hard fans, willing to do almost anything to get their hero's attention. For one fan at a recent stop in College Park, that meant using her mouth as a receptacle for a male audience member's chewing tobacco. Another female fan sought out Max, slept with him, and then tattooed an explicit sentence commemorating the event just below her hip bone, thus earning the Holy Grail of any Maxite: an original Tucker Max blog entry featuring her.

This is Max's magic trick: The Amazing Max Mistreats Women and Makes Them Love Him For It! It's also his ultimate defense against critics, one that he has repeatedly deployed after the protests at some of his recent tour stops, insisting, "I am still waiting for a protester to answer the question: 'If Tucker hates women, why does he have so many female fans? Why is half of each screening women?' "

I shall return to those questions a bit later, but first I'd like to share a few more Tuckeresque examples with you:

For those unfamiliar with Tucker Max: he has a website, and has published several books, the most well-known being "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell." Recently he wrote and produced an ill-fated movie by the same name. Quotes are offensive, and promote rape and violence. Examples include "I'm going to get you so drunk you can't consent," "Your gender (women) is hardwired for whoredom," and "Get away from me or I'm going to carve a fuckhole in your torso." Some people find it funny – some find it offensive.


Students wrote statements, read speeches, and actively debated the issue. Those in favor of the event re-iterated that students had a choice to attend the event, and that Tucker Max was not to be taken seriously. Those against it found it hard to believe that statements saying women Max finds unattractive are "generally just so annoying that you have to actively restrain yourself from kicking her in the crotch and stomping on her throat until she drowns in her own blood. There is no insult too mean or crude for her, and basic human rights do not apply to her," could ever be construed as anything but misogynistic violence, and objected to the fact that the fund that brought Tucker Max to campus came from tuition money.

Did you know that Hitler was a vegetarian and liked dogs?* There's always two sides to everything. Even misogyny might be perfectly acceptable if it is funny enough. Besides, women are not a minority so hating on them is fair game as one Johns Hopkins student (I believe he is a student) stated it while writing about a recent Tucker Max event at the college. There are days when even a goddess despairs about this get-women-to-be-treated-like-human-beings shit.

To return to the questions Tucker Max posed in the above quote:

"I am still waiting for a protester to answer the question: 'If Tucker hates women, why does he have so many female fans? Why is half of each screening women?' "

Jaclyn gives several answers to these questions, and I only want to add a few observations:

Let's begin with those questions themselves. Suppose that Tucker's audience consisted of all men. Would those men be there because of all that juicy misogyny? He seems to think so, if his counterargument has any weight. That's a very scary idea in itself, you know.

Next, note that misogyny is not just something men might be infected with. Women can be misogynists themselves. Just think of the Aunties in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Or of some conservative female pundits who tell us that women shouldn't have the vote. Female misogynists hate other women.

But a different explanation for Tucker's female fans seems more likely to me, and that is the way we women often learn to regard the cultural messages about women as applying to other women, not to us. It's they who are the sluts, the bitches, the c*m-buckets, the whores. We are on the other side, laughing at the jokes with our boyfriends who would never regard us in those terms. Besides, we are cool and can laugh at raunchy or objectifying jokes with the best of the boyz.

Or it could be that the real explanation has to do with human beings as social creatures. We want to be accepted, we want to belong, and if the price of inclusion is to be bullied or despised, we sometimes even swallow that. This is not something special about women or girls, by the way, but about all humans.

Whatever the explanation for this particular phenomenon, misogyny is part of the popular culture of this country. Sometimes it is foregrounded, sometimes it is just an irritating background hum. Where Tucker's particular version differs from that background hum is in its explicitness: Men are callous hunters and women are stupid prey animals. If the prey gets caught it's her own fault:

Max is fond of telling women that "men will treat you the way you let them" -- in other words, if you've been used, abused or assaulted, you must have done something to invite that behavior.

*I was told that this is not true. But he did praise his mother!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Campaign Opposing Violence Against Women

This is a campaign by the UN Secretary General by men and aimed at men and boys around the world:

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has unveiled a renewed campaign opposing violence against women.

He says about 70% of women experience some form of physical or sexual violence from men.

Ban Ki-moon said men must teach each other that real men don't violate or oppress women.

The 14 men currently in the network include Spanish PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Do watch the video at the link if it doesn't trigger you, because it shows the global nature of the problem.

I want to write a proper post on this topic later on because it deserves one. For now, I notice that my Google news page gives articles which redefine the topic right off the bat.

Some Holiday Thoughts

Well, pre-holiday thoughts. (If you don't read this in the U.S. you may not know that tomorrow is a big holiday here, called Thanksgiving. It has something to do with the death of turkeys.)

I have noticed in the past that my readership figures drop about a week before large holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. That seems pretty natural, given all the hassle holidays cause and the need to travel and to prepare for them. But then I started wondering if there might not be a difference for those who are in charge of most of the work for creating the festivities. If you cook for Thanksgiving you won't have much time to hang out here or elsewhere on the blogs. The same is true for any other major eating holiday. So do you do the cooking for your family or friends?

Sperm In Her Hair

The picture below shows Mark Halperin's The Page before it was removed. Mary Landrieu is photoshopped to have sperm in her hair, based on a 1998 romantic comedy. It's a joke, I guess, but I don't get the joke.

Neither does Media Matters get the joke:

Maybe Halperin thought it was really clever to echo a scene from a late-90s romantic comedy, but it isn't. The image and all that it suggests -- yes, her hair is supposed to be held up by semen -- isn't supported by any facts provided by Halperin in his post. The page to which he links doesn't have anything to do with semen, romantic comedies, or hair gel. In fact, it's a statement from Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D-LA) Communications Director "on motion to proceed timing" on the Senate's health care reform bill.

In other words, it's part of a broader, sexist right-wing narrative that the U.S. Senator from Louisiana is, as Glenn Beck put it yesterday, "a high-class prostitute" engaged in "hookin'" -- all because she lobbied Senate leadership for expanded Medicaid funding for Louisiana in the Senate health care bill in what was characterized by the media as an exchange for her "yea" vote to proceed with floor debate on the bill.

Such political deals are routine, as far as I understand the game. But women who participate in them? They give blow jobs and end up with sperm in their hair which is very funny if you are a guy journalist with the emotional age of twelve.

That's not quite right, either. This whole trend is nastier than just adolescent humor, because it applies both the nudge-nudge-wink-wink (buying sex is just dandy) and the filthy-whore (selling sex is disgusting) ideas at the same time.


I have read neither the Twilight books nor seen the movie which means that I shouldn't write anything at all about the topic. But honest, vampires and werewolves as male sex objects for teenage human girls??? Isn't this taking the idea of the "bad boy" a bit too far? Or is this all a much deeper and nastier parable about what it means to be a woman in this world?

Carmen Siering reviews the series from a feminist angle:

But while Twilight is ostensibly a love story, scratch the surface and you will find an allegorical tale about the dangers of unregulated female sexuality. From the very first kiss between Edward and Bella, she is fighting to control her awakening sexuality. Edward must restrain her, sometimes physically, to keep her from ravishing him. There are those who might applaud the depiction of a young man showing such self-restraint, but shouldn't the decision about when a couple is ready to move forward sexually be one they make together?

Meyer insists that she sees Bella as a feminist character, since the foundation of feminism is being able to choose. What Meyer fails to acknowledge is that all of the choices Bella makes are Meyer's choices—choices based on her own patriarchal Mormon background. In Breaking Dawn, the latest book in the series, Meyer finally allows Bella's subordination to end as she takes her proper place: in the patriarchal structure. When Bella becomes a wife and mother, Meyer allows her to receive her heart's desire—to live forever by Edward's side, to be preternaturally beautiful and graceful, to be strong and be able to defend herself.

Edward is a vampire, so I guess the ending means that Bella becomes one, too? And then has vampire babies? But that's not how vampires are created, you know. And they drink blood. Or has that changed, too? Are vampires now cuddly vegetarians who sip tomato juice while helping the poor?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration

Somehow that phrase makes me think of grown pale-faced men in mohawks doing a war-dance on the island of Manhattan. Sadly, that's not quite what the Manhattan Declaration is all about, though a war-dance it well might be. It's the latest statement by various conservative Christians about what they are all about: No abortion, no same-sex marriage and lots of rights for religious people to determine how the society is organized:

The Manhattan Declaration is billed as "A Call of Christian Conscience," drafted and signed by Catholics, evangelicals, and Orthodox Christians, an "ecumenism" celebrated by its promoters as evidence of its far-reaching appeal. The document targets reproductive freedom (enemy of the "sanctity of life") and LGBTQ equality (enemy of the "dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife") as foes of Christians' religious freedom. It's a new document but an old canard. And it's proof that the culture wars are not only not over; there hasn't even been a truce.

The Declaration's drafters and signatories view it as an act of "conscience" and religious devotion, not politics, yet they threaten unspecified civil disobedience if the law fails to yield to their theocratic fantasies. But if the document is so disassociated from current political events, why did it need to hit the streets with a splash at the National Press Club? The festivities took place just steps away from where the D.C. City Council was considering gay marriage legislation subject to threats from the Archdiocese of Washington, and where the Senate was poised to break a threatened filibuster of floor debate on its health care bill, which the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called "the worst bill we've seen so far on the life issues."

The list of signatories include all sorts of high-and-mighties (mostly guys, natch, including Dinesh d'Sousa):

Religious leaders signed a pledge Friday announcing that they won't abide by laws that support gay marriage or abortion. Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput and Focus on the Family's Founder James Dobson and President Jim Daly joined 125 other conservative religious leaders from Colorado in signing the so-called Manhattan Declaration. The declaration comes amid the contentious national health care debate that has featured Catholic Bishops prominently and in the wake of hate crimes legislation passed earlier this fall that drew staunch opposition from evangelical leaders, who argued it might prevent them from preaching against gays. The signatories of the Declaration (pdf) vow to ignore any laws that contradict their worldview.

The list of Colorado signatories also included Fr. Joseph D Fessio, founder and editor of Ignatius Press; Rev. Michael J Sheridan, Bishop of the Archdiocese of Colorado Springs; and John Stonestreet, executive director of Summit Ministries at Manitou Springs.

The Manhattan Declaration is well worth reading carefully. It has three parts. The first condemns the "culture of death" which has to do with the desire to ban abortions and euthanasia but remains silent about the desire to kill people in wars or through economic and political measures, the second condemns all other types of marriage but that between one man and one woman, with hints about how the woman was made out of the rib of the man and how he deserves honoring by her, and the third is all about the rights of religious people to refuse any laws which don't respect god's laws.

These are then linked to biblical texts, selectively picked, given that the Bible doesn't actually condemn those polygynous Old Testament patriarchs or say anything about abortion.
Today's Fresh Air interviews Jeff Sharlet on the Stupak amendment.

To Expound On The Obvious?

One of the weirdest things about blogging is that I never know if something I write about is totally obvious or if it might have some value for others. So I pretty much write about everything inside my divine head and watch to see which things drop into the abyss and which do not. But often I do feel a bit silly doing this. Like now, for example.

The (probably obvious) point is that different groups of "the oppressed" are not necessarily on the same side in political debates, and to automatically assume that they are can lead one into trouble. For one example, men who are oppressed on ethnic or racial grounds can easily see their own fight for equality as a righteous one but at the same time regard women as people who should be oppressed on religious or cultural grounds. Not seeing this can lead to cases where a person works for the rights of a group which then would like that person to have fewer rights.

Feminists discuss some of this when addressing racism within the movement. But the same arguments also apply in reverse. And in many other cases.

I Know What I Like...

The following video may have been edited to emphasize the know-nothing side of Sarah Palin's supporters. Or perhaps not; many people are politically uninformed. The media should take the most blame for that, because if they don't provide adequate comparisons of rival politicians' views, who will? The politicians themselves have no interest in doing that.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nail My Boobs To My Ears?

Something almost as good is available now! A surgery which installs an internal bra, one which prevents that most awful of all possible outcomes: sagging. And the risks are not really that great:

Surgeons make two tiny cuts less than a centimetre wide underneath each breast.
Silicone cups like the ones used in a traditional uplift bra are then are then inserted around 1cm below the skin.

Then surgeons fit fine straps made from a strong material that will hold the bra in place without it sagging These are attached to the ribs between the breast and the shoulder with a pair of titanium screws.

Then they are stitched to the cups and everything is tightened to lift the breasts into the desired position.

How about internal underwear for men, too? Like a silicone jockstrap inside the skin? Bolt it to the hip bones with some titanium screws, and you are all good to go.

Sigh. I guess this might be no more dangerous than silicone breast implants.
Link thanks to AA.

Echidne The Ignorant

Please educate me about the master plan of the Democrats in Congress. I'm a naive goddess, after all, and find it tricky to understand how these political games are played.

Here's the problem I have: If I was selling a house my real estate agent (realtor) would tell me to ask a certain price for it, with the full understanding that the final price would be lower than my initial asking price, unless the demand side of the market was much more desperate than we had estimated. So if I wanted, say, 160,000 for the house, I'd set an asking price of 190,000. Right?

Then move to what the Democrats did with the HCR and reproductive choice: They began with the Capp amendment:

In an attempt to try to find a compromise for dealing with abortion services in the legislation, I offered an amendment that would essentially continue this ban - even though I personally oppose the Hyde Amendment - that was supported by Energy and Commerce Committee Members whose records span the pro-life and pro-choice spectrum. Our hope was that we could continue the current ban on federal funding for abortion so the issue wouldn't bog down the overall health reform legislation.

In terms of my example, this would be the 190,000 dollars? But what did the Democrats actually want to get, then? And why did it look as if the Stupak amendment came as a big surprise to them? It sounds to me as if they asked 160,000 dollars and expected the other side not to bargain over it at all. Now that is unlikely, given that we are talking about experienced politicians here, and this makes me wonder if the Stupak amendment indeed was the price the Democrats thought they could get.

Back To The Fairy Tale

I wrote about the health care reform last August, using this fairy tale as the metaphor:

Mouse as the Cat's Tailor

A cat walked along the road carrying a large bolt of cloth under its arm. A mouse going in the other direction asked the cat:"Where are you going, cat?" "To see my tailor," the cat answered. "I need a new coat."

"Let me sew it for you" said the mouse. The cat handed the bolt of cloth over to the mouse who went to work on a coat. (Now, what you need to know here is that the mouse knows nothing about tailoring.)

A week later the cat came to pick up his new coat, but the mouse said:"Er, the coat didn't quite work out, but I could make you a nice pair of pants instead." The cat reluctantly agreed.

A week later the cat came to pick up his new pants, but the mouse said:" Er, the pants didn't quite work out, but I could make you a nice vest instead." The cat reluctantly agreed.

A week later the cat came to pick up his new vest, but the mouse said:"Er, the vest didn't quite work out, but I could make you a nice cap instead." The cat reluctantly agreed.

A week later the cat came to pick up his new cap, but the mouse said:"Er, the cap didn't quite work out, but I could make you a pair of mittens instead." The cat reluctantly agreed.(Yes, I know. The cat is stupid.)

A week later the cat came to pick up his new mittens, but the mouse said:"Er, the mittens didn't quite work out, but I could make you a handkerchief instead." The cat reluctantly agreed.

Does it remind you of anything? Try changing the 'cat' to 'the Obama administration', the 'bolt of cloth' to 'the initial health care reform plan' and the 'mouse' to the Republican opposition. Note that we started with a coat and are now down to a hankie! And the cat/Obama administration is still willing to go back for more cutting of the cloth!

What doesn't quite fit the current health care fight is the end of that fairy tale:

A week later the cat came to pick up his new handkerchief, but the mouse didn't have it made and neither was there any cloth left at all. So the cat ate the mouse, and ever since that time cats have hated mice.

In reality, we are most likely to end up with nothing. It's pretty unlikely, now, that the final public option would be strong enough to matter. And without strong public regulations (banning cherry-picking of all types, say) and a public alternative in the marketplace, the whole proposal is nothing. Sad, isn't it?

But then the Republicans have been using other fairy tales most successfully: The Sky Is Falling! The Sky Is Falling! The Sky Is Falling!

How do you prove it is not?

Sometimes having goddessy powers of prediction is so very sad. The tailoring has continued since August, and we are very close to the hankie stage, but even that is not sufficient. The cat will go on thinking that even a small piece of the initial cloth is worth getting back. Perhaps the public option could go?:

Now, there are many people who look at this and say that the bill(s) under discussion are so anemic that they're maybe not worth fighting for at all. And that's certainly a legitimate opinion. But I think there's another question. Considering how down to the wire this is, is it really worth holding up everything else contained in the bill when the point of contention, the public option, is as measly as it is?

And so it goes.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Supermoms (by Liz)

Once again I am reminded what a bad, bad mother I am. My poor children -- I shudder to think how much of their adult life and paychecks will be spent on therapy because of me. What is my offense this time? I never regained my figure after giving birth.

Returning to a pre-pregnancy body is the ultimate achievement for the modern mother. I know this to be true because the media told me so. Splashed across international blogs, magazines and newspapers everywhere last week was the headline news that supermodel Heidi Klum had returned to her pre-pregnancy body weight just five weeks after giving birth. I read about it at iVillage, Reality TV News, Growing Your Baby, The Huffington Post and The New York Daily News. I even read about it on and (via People Magazine). As bad as the news made me feel about myself, I was relieved to see the mainstream finally covering "women's issues."

It's been five years since my last labor and delivery and I'm no MILF, but maybe I can redeem myself. Luckily, there are resources available to me (who says women's healthcare is lacking?) like WebMD which has a post called, "Get Your Body Back After Pregnancy: What Every New Mom Must Know."

Stupid me, I wasted my time when the kids were babes reading the sites for evil mothers—the ones that discuss breastfeeding vs. formula, finding a daycare and returning to work. Alas, I will never hear my husband say the words that Seal, Heidi's husband, shared with about his beautiful wife, who by the way, just took his name:

“She is the person that can pretty much do anything and I’ve got used to that within a few months of marriage…she’s the woman, she can do it all.”

Oh to be a supermodel and a supermom.

Take Your Hope Where You Find It

I choose to take mine from these news:

Invoking the memory of Edward M. Kennedy, Democrats united Saturday night to push historic health care legislation past a key Senate hurdle over the opposition of Republicans eager to inflict a punishing defeat on President Barack Obama. There was not a vote to spare.

The 60-39 vote cleared the way for a bruising, full-scale debate beginning after Thanksgiving on the legislation, which is designed to extend coverage to roughly 31 million who lack it, crack down on insurance company practices that deny or dilute benefits and curtail the growth of spending on medical care nationally.

The spectator galleries were full for the unusual Saturday night showdown, and applause broke out briefly when the vote was announced. In a measure of the significance of the moment, senators sat quietly in their seats, standing only when they were called upon to vote.

In the final minutes of a daylong session, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., accused Republicans of trying to stifle a historic debate the nation needed.

"Imagine if, instead of debating whether to abolish slavery, instead of debating whether giving women and minorities the right to vote, those who disagreed had muted discussion and killed any vote," he said.

The Republican leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said the vote was anything but procedural — casting it as a referendum on the bill itself, which he said would raise taxes, cut Medicare and create a "massive and unsustainable debt."

At least we are going to get a debate. Compare that to the last time the health care system of this country was changed in a way which truly benefited the patients, and you have to go back almost fifty years, to the beginning of the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Even with all that is wrong with the reform proposals (and much is wrong with them), to even have such proposals is worth a little optimism. President McCain would never have introduced health care reform (because you can afford health care if you can afford five houses).

So yes, I'm pleased to see these news. I'm also furious about the way women's health care needs are treated. But the underlying reason for that despicable treatment is not just cowardly or calculating politicians. The real reason is that a large number of Americans do believe in women's second-class status. Christian fundamentalists are quite explicit on that score. Anyone spending time on the Internet finds that anonymity breeds expressed contempt towards women, that there are many more avid misogynists than one might have guessed in those innocent pre-Net times, and that even various types of humanitarians or lefties often turn hesitant when women's issues crop up.

All this means that the work I do on this blog is still needed, though of course it feels like an ant trying to lever off a mountain.