“...women exist primarily in terms of their relationships to the men...”
March 27, 2016 6:31 PM Subscribe
Naked Lady Politics by Jennifer Weiner [The New York Times]
As the world knows, last week, our Republican presidential contenders quit tussling over whose private parts are bigger, and moved on to the equally compelling question of whose wife is hotter. To briefly recap: Before last Tuesday’s primaries, a “super PAC” called — you really can’t make this stuff up — Make America Awesome ran ads on social media targeting Mormon voters in Utah. The spots showed images of Donald J. Trump’s wife, from a 2000 photo shoot with British GQ. “Meet Melania Trump. Your Next First Lady,” read the text, over a shot of a sultry, nude Mrs. Trump, curled up on a fur. “Or, You Could Support Ted Cruz on Tuesday.” (Ted Cruz was not pictured.) Even though the ad didn’t come from the Cruz camp, Mr. Trump was furious — which was more than a little ironic, given the vigor with which he’s been posting provocative shots of his nemesis, the Fox anchor Megyn Kelly, who posed for GQ in a short black slip dress and red high heels. Mr. Trump has retweeted one of his supporters, who called Ms. Kelly a “bimbo,” and has said she lacks the gravitas to question the candidates. Evidently, in Trumplandia, being scantily clad means you’re no longer qualified to be a journalist, but being naked means you’re perfectly qualified to be first lady.- Let’s Uproot the Pernicious, Unproven Claim That Ted Cruz Attacked Donald Trump’s Wife. by Philip Bump [The Washington Post]
And on it went. On Tuesday, Mr. Trump slammed “Lyin’ Ted” for being behind the Melania ad, and threatened to “spill the beans” on Mr. Cruz’s wife, Heidi. The next day, no beans were spilled, but Mr. Trump retweeted a meme of a picture of Melania, looking appropriately model-rific, juxtaposed beside Heidi Cruz, looking probably a lot like I do when I need my roots touched up and I’ve had it with my kids. “No need to spill the beans,” text with the photos said. “The images speak for themselves.” And what do those images say, exactly? Oh, right: Mr. Trump is obviously better qualified to run our country, because his wife was a professional model.
There is no evidence that Ted Cruz attacked Donald Trump's wife. In a normal election year, this statement would be relatively uncontroversial. After all, it's true. Yes, there was an ad that ran in Utah, suggesting that because she had posed for provocative modeling photos, she was somehow unfit to be first lady. But, no, that ad was not from the Cruz campaign. It was from the Make America Awesome super PAC, a group that raises and spends money without input from any candidate, including Cruz. How do I know that? Well, I know that if such a political action committee were to coordinate with Cruz -- say, by running an ad at his behest -- it would be a federal crime. I know a presidential candidate purposefully violating federal law is almost certainly not worth the risk. I know that Cruz was going to win Utah anyway, by a wide margin, so violating federal law to win with 70 percent of the vote versus 65 percent is a particularly dumb idea.- The National Enquirer Has Been Right Before by Sam Biddle [Gawker]
It’s entirely possible the magazine’s claim that candidate Cruz has had five separate affairs while married to his wife Heidi is completely false. Maybe they were fabricated by an agenda-toting third party and fed to the Enquirer as true (although fragments of the story have been circulating online for awhile, now). There are innumerable people who will take great pleasure in just seeing this headline reverberate across Twitter, to Cruz’s immense embarrassment, and any number of them would be capable of spearheading a smear campaign. But it’s also possible that the Enquirer’s story, or parts of it at least, are accurate, making Ted Cruz a “family values” fraud and hypocrite. The tabloid is operated in part by a team of real reporters that have launched bombshells before. Their news-gathering process, as documented by Gawker in 2012, is highly unorthodox, and wouldn’t pass muster at any newspaper (or even here!), but it does involve traditional reporting and fact-checking—even when it’s done only to cover their ass legally.- How Much Should We Care About Ted Cruz’s Alleged Affairs? by Jack Shafer [Politico]
Blackmail aside, why do a politician’s dalliances matter? Why do we care? Why do we hunger to read about them even if we don’t care about hypocrisy or the national security implications? It would take an anthropologist to explain that, but who is shtupping whom is of high interest in almost every culture, and has been so ever since we left the trees for the veldt. Even the sex lives of the low-status fascinate us. Whether valid or not, an individual’s sex life has come to stand as a marker of trustworthiness. Once the subject is breached, it takes superhuman powers by the press to avoid talking about it. Candidates seek extramarital sex for the same reasons civilians do—for adventure, to express status within the group, for love, to obey the command of the selfish gene to throw itself into the next generation. The difference, of course, is that politicians play to a crowd that’s a million times the size of an ordinary civilian, and for that reason the collective judgment is much greater. So is the collective obsession. That’s why we’re all happily gossiping about Ted Cruz’s sex life today: It’s not that he’s sexy (perish the thought), it’s that he’s high profile and high status.- The Genital Election: Republican “hands” Debate is the Culmination of 50 years of Anti-Feminism. by Amanda Marcotte [Salon]
On the contrary, this has been a long time coming. For literally decades now, the Republican Party has built a huge part of its identity around anti-feminism. This started in the ’70s, when the religious right successfully fought and killed the Equal Rights Amendment, and really became central to the Republican identity when Ronald Reagan’s presidency cemented the marriage between the anti-feminist religious right and his party. This was helped by the fact that Reagan was followed around by a wife who never failed to stare at him in wondrous rapture like being a man made him a god on earth.- The Most Vital Feminist Issues Of The 2016 Election, Because Women's Autonomy Is Seriously Under Threat by Chris Tognotti [Bustle]
The anti-feminism of Republicans manifests in many ways: Kneecapping efforts to pass and enforce equal pay laws, pushing marriage as the best and only way for women to be economically viable, demonizing feminists, minimizing sexual harassment and violence against women, Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. But the biggest, most forceful front of the Republican war on women, since the 70s, has been focused on, what else, genitals. The same week that we witnessed Republican candidates talking unsubtly about big dicks during a debate, the Supreme Court listened to a case about whether women have a right to control our own reproductive organs, no matter what size they may be. It’s yet another case in a long and complex history of Republicans trying to dismantle the legal right to abortion, a right which symbolizes, to conservatives, the collapse of patriarchal authority in women’s lives.
The 2016 primary campaign season is in full swing, and we've already gotten to hear a little something from both sides of the political spectrum. So far, we've had two Republican debates (four if you count the "kid's table" undercard ones), and the first Democratic face-off went down earlier this week. But sometimes there are issues that you as a viewer and potential voter might be interested in that simply aren't going to get as much play as you'd like in a televised debate. So, without further ado, here are the 4 most vital feminist issues of the 2016 election cycle.- The Hillary Paradox: How American Women Are Struggling Over Feminism and Clintonism by Joanna Slater [The Globe and Mail]
1. Reproductive Rights
2. The Equal Rights Amendment
3. Intersectional Feminism
4. The Highest Glass Ceiling
These impassioned discussions are unfolding across the country, at kitchen tables, at gatherings of friends, over the telephone and via e-mail, as men and women alike grapple with a candidacy that is at once unprecedented and uncomfortably familiar. A fixture of national politics since the 1990s, Ms. Clinton is the only person to occupy the roles of First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State. Her campaign has embraced her role as a history-maker, hoping to sweep up young voters eager to break barriers. But the movement hasn’t materialized. Instead, younger Democratic women – sometimes to the dismay of their mothers and grandmothers – have thrown their support behind Mr. Sanders, preferring his uncompromising authenticity to Ms. Clinton’s hard-won pragmatism.- Donald Trump’s Huge Problem With Women by Jeet Heer [The New Republic]
One of Donald Trump’s great strengths as a politician is that he’s a hell of a counter-puncher. On the debate stage and campaign trail, he has flummoxed and thwarted much more politically experienced rivals like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio by responding to their jabs with a quickness and confidence they themselves lack. Yet Trump’s self-assurance deserts him completely when confronted with a female adversary, be it Rosie O’Donnell, Megyn Kelly, Carly Fiorina or, most recently, Senator Elizabeth Warren. Which bodes well, of course, for his likely general-election opponent, Hillary Clinton, whose formidable and unflappable character make her exactly the sort of woman that Trump has the hardest time reacting to. An old-fashioned sexist boor, Trump tends to divide the world into a simple binary: men are rivals to be bested and women are potential sexual conquests. When he’s confronted by a strong, assertive woman outside the mating arena, his synapses tend to short-circuit, leading him to odd and often self-destructive behavior. Before Carly Fiorina’s presidential bid fizzled out, she was the only Republican who had managed to faze Trump at all. He walked back his initial attempt to insult her looks and found himself booed by the debate audience on November 10 when he snapped, “Why does she keep interrupting everybody?”- Women Hate Donald Trump Even More Than Men Hate Hillary Clinton by Jon Schwarz [The Intercept]
If Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the 2016 presidential candidates, gender will be part of the campaign in an unprecedented way. It goes beyond the fact that Clinton would be the first woman nominated by one of the two major parties as its presidential candidate: Polls consistently show that women really, really don’t like Trump, and men — to a lesser but still significant degree — really don’t like Clinton. Americans overall don’t like Trump or Clinton. In polls taken over the past six weeks, Trump’s average net favorable/unfavorable rating has been minus 23 percent, and Clinton’s has been minus 12 percent. However, beneath the surface, it’s the high level of distaste for both of them among the opposite gender that is driving those awful ratings. Women dislike Trump with what’s likely a historically unique intensity for a national politician. Trump’s average net favorability among women over the past six weeks is minus 33 percent — far worse than the minus 2 percent net favorability among women for Marco Rubio or the minus 14 percent for Ted Cruz. Likewise, in a poll taken just before the 2012 election, Mitt Romney had a net favorability among women of minus 2 percent.- Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright Rebuke Young Women Backing Bernie Sanders by Alan Rappeport [The New York Times]
While introducing Mrs. Clinton at a rally in New Hampshire on Saturday, Ms. Albright, 78, the first female secretary of state, talked about the importance of electing a woman to the country’s highest office. In a dig at the “revolution” that Mr. Sanders, 74, often speaks of, she said the first female commander in chief would be a true revolution. And she scolded any woman who felt otherwise.“We can tell our story of how we climbed the ladder, and a lot of you younger women think it’s done,” Ms. Albright said of the broader fight for women’s equality. “It’s not done. There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!” Mrs. Clinton, 68, laughed, slowly clapped and took a large sip of her beverage.- Why Sexism at the Office Makes Women Love Hillary Clinton by Jill Filipovich [The New York Times]
THE poll numbers and primary results so far tell a simple story: Younger Democratic women are mostly for Bernie Sanders; older women lean more toward Hillary Clinton. The mothers-versus-daughters narrative, long an election-year trope, is particularly pronounced now, and tinged with stereotypes on both sides. The idealistic but ungrateful naïfs who think sexism is a thing of the past and believe, as Mr. Sanders recently said, that “people should not be voting for candidates based on their gender” are seemingly battling the pantsuited old scolds prattling on about feminism. Instead, the reality may be another kind of simple numbers game: More time in a sexist world, and particularly in the workplace, radicalizes women. Radicalism isn’t expressed only by supporting a socialist; it can also take the shape of women, increasingly disillusioned by a biased culture, throwing their weight behind someone who shares both their political views and their experiences.
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