Note to Clinton: The Issues Are Fair Game

Ever since Tuesday night's debate, the Clinton campaign has been complaining that the other candidates ganged up on her. This is part of a fundraising email I got from the Clinton campaign:

On that stage in Philadelphia, we saw six against one. Candidates who had pledged the politics of hope practiced the politics of pile on instead. Her opponents tried a whole host of attacks on Hillary.

She is one strong woman. She came through it well. But Hillary's going to need your help.

Note to Clinton: the issues are fair game. If you are running for president, the other candidates have a right to point out where they think you are wrong on the issues.

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Democratic Majority News Trawl

"In our party, there's no majority except for women." - Gov. Howard Dean, 10/18/07

More than half of Clinton and Obama donors are women, with female donors making historically high levels of political contributions this year and moving towards parity in donations above $200.

The feminist weekend news reader.

Displaying disembodied parts of women's bodies as public art, bathroom fixtures and gag gifts doesn't exactly send a message of equality.

Women with careers can still be unapolagetically labeled unavailable fembots, while work achievements that would make anyone proud are demoted and downplayed.

A bitch is unsurprised that yeah, Americans are pretty stressed out, and wonders to whom this is news.

One woman talks about feeling alienated and distrustful towards the feminist movement, but also how she thinks that labor union style organizing could help regain the movement's lost ground among others who share some of the same concerns.


In calling for an international day of action against sexual assault on Nov. 30th, Australian human rights activists object to charges of violations of women's rights being used to oppress indigenous people in the Northern Territory.

The UK's gender pay gap is worse for minority women.

Women lose seats on Oman's Shura Council.

Iran and Syria will be setting up a joint bank to finance women's businesses.

Renuka Chowdhury, India's Minister of State for Women and Child Development, says that lopsided governance results from leaving women out of politics. The article includes this point from Chowdhury, "... Stressing on the importance of "maintaining balance in environment and society", she said that ratio of girls per thousand boys was as low as 750 in Haryana and Punjab." She calls for more effective enforcement of bans on prenatal gender screening.

Every day, 600 women are raped in Kenya. The statistics include many cases of incest, as well as very young and very old women, giving lie to the worldwide apologia that these crime victims were in some way asking to be attacked.

Update: How did I miss this one? Argentina elects its first female president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, wife of the country's former president, Nestor Kirchner.

Politics and the "F" Word

The political conversations I enjoy the most always leave me with more questions than answers.  I'm less interested in being lectured or informed than I am in being inspired and called to action.  This especially true when a conversation involves feminism, politics, and how those movements intersect.  

Yesterday I attended a panel discussion: Politics and the "F" Word: Does Feminism Matter? It was hosted by the Women's Campaign Forum and the NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service The featured panelists were Democratic Strategist Ann Lewis, Us Weekly Editor Janice Min, UFT President Randi Weingarten, NYU Public Affairs SVP Lynne Brown, and WCF Board Member Julie Menin.  The panel was moderated by WCF President Ilana Goldman.

The Women's Campaign Forum are behind one of my favorite political initiatives: She Should Run.  She Should Run calls on citizens to nominate women in their community to run for office.  The WCF will then use its resources to help nominated women who decide to take the plunge.

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What Women Want

Even if Ann Coulter was incorrect to say that denying women the vote would mean an end to the election of Democrats, you have to admit that it would be an uphill climb under present conditions. Stopped clocks, you know. Much of your base are belong to us. If I had to guess, I'd say it's because a lot of women have reason to realize that genuine safety is a result of justice, and that's been a [neglected] part of the Democratic brand for a long time now.

Justice is a product of government, or of individuals choosing the common good over immediate personal gain. It's an area quintessential market failure. As John Ikerd explains in Sustainable Capitalism, there's an inherent conflict between the democratic, constitutional ethos that declares all people to have innate equal worth, and the capitalist ethos which declares all people to have only their market worth. It isn't like we don't know that the market is shaped by decision makers who think our worth is ... less.  

Earlier today, I stopped in briefly at the neighborhood bookstore (also a restaurant/internet cafe/bar) whose small and focused selection of titles caters to would-be and veteran agitators for social justice. I spent some time skimming through a book called That Takes Ovaries, an anthology of stories about women standing up for themselves or others. I read about village girls rounded up like livestock, sold by their parents on the promise that they'd get regular meals, to be raped daily in Indian brothels until the ends of their lives. I read about the honor killing of a rape victim. I read some individual stories of the one in three women who've been assaulted, the one in four who've been raped. I read about women struggling to be taken seriously and treated with dignity in all facets of their lives, in spite of the fact that they were, you know, chicks. Not revelations for me, but important reminders.

All around the world, women die because they have no control of their reproductive health. Because their lives are not as valuable to their societies as the authoritarian ideologies that seek to shame them. It's a very 'hands-off' form of mass violence against women, this deprivation of medical decision-making and care. Which isn't surprising. Add it to the pile.

As an exercise whose source I can't recall, if you're a man living in the US, think of the women you know. A third of them have been beaten or attacked by someone they knew and once trusted. A fourth of them have been raped by someone they knew and once trusted. Think of your female coworkers. About a fourth of them probably had to manage some portion of their career while being subjected to brutal emotional and/or physical abuse at home, yet still had to try to hold it all together at the job to keep a paycheck coming in, if that portion of their career isn't actually right now. And the rest of them live in a state of low level background fear that those things could happen to them someday.  Harassing women and making jokes about it is often perfectly acceptable in public, which helps normalize and excuse more serious violence against women.

I figure most of you understand that persistent undercurrents of threat are antithetical to genuine equality, no matter what type of equality we're talking about. This one time, I wrote out a list of all the places I've ever heard women be told they should be afraid of going, and/or the times they should be afraid of going to them, and/or the people they should be afraid of going with, and/or the things they should be afraid of wearing or doing at them. That list was very long. And after all that, we're still just talking violence, harassment, and the fear of violence, let alone the other types of discrimination and discouragement women face.

So it shouldn't be very much of a mystery what most of us want. Some liberty and justice for all would do nicely, thanks.

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Women "Outpacing" Men

Okay, this article probably caught the eye of every New York Times reader on Friday.  It's about how in New York, Dallas and several other major cities, women in their 20s now earn higher salaries than their male counterparts.  It then goes on to hypothesize about the reasons for the change:

"'Previously, female migration patterns were determined primarily by their husband's educational levels or employment needs, even if both were college-educated,' she said. 'Today, highly qualified women are moving for their own professional opportunities and personal interests. It's no longer an era of power couple migration to, but one of power couple formation in places like New York.'"

"It is not clear whether this is the front edge of a trend in which women will gradually move ahead of men in all age groups. Typically, women have fallen further behind men in earnings as they get older. That is because some women stop working altogether, work only part time or encounter a glass ceiling in promotions and raises.  But as women enrolled in college and graduate school continue to outnumber men, gender wage gaps among older workers may narrow, too, experts said. Even among New Yorkers in their 30s, women now make as much as men."

"And women in their 20s now make more than men in a wide variety of other jobs: as doctors, personnel managers, architects, economists, lawyers, stock clerks, customer service representatives, editors and reporters."

"Melissa J. Manfro, a 24-year-old lawyer who was raised in upstate New York, offered her own theory on why younger female lawyers are outearning their male peers: a desire to begin their careers earlier to prepare for starting families."

"Several experts also said that rising income for women might affect marriage rates if women expect their mates to have at least equivalent salaries and education."

Wait a second.  Okay.  There was something else you said, earlier in the article:

"Economists consider it striking because the wage gap between men and women nationally has narrowed more slowly and has even widened in recent years among one part of that group: college-educated women in their 20s."

So things are going poorly on the national level?  Okay, that deserves a second's pause.  It's not completely in line with the photo caption: "Melissa J. Manfro, center, theorizes that young female lawyers outearn male peers because they begin earlier, to prepare for starting families." 

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