Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Why do we hate women?

I'll let you in on a blogosphere secret: If you run a lefty political blog and you want your readership numbers to tick up a bit for a day or so, all you need do is scoop up new dirt on Ann Coulter. Progressives love to hate her. They may also hate O'Reilly or Savage or Rush or Fillintheblank, but they don't love to hate those guys, not the way they love to hate Coulter.

I'm not saying that Ann deserves any kindness simply because she (presumably) owns a vagina. She is indeed a hate-spewer of the first rank, and she deserves to get as she gives. But her co-creeps within that first rank do not inspire similar revulsion. Michael Savage is, in my view, even more barbaric than is Ann Coulter, yet I've never felt much interest in discussing him. AC is a villainess straight out of Disney animation -- Cruella DeVille with bottle blond hair and a hypocrite's cross around her bony neck. Attacking her just feels more satisfying.

But why does it feel more satisfying?

I ask this because Hillary Clinton inspires, on the right, much of the same revulsion we feel toward Ann. More than that: Many on the left dislike her with a similar intensity. Red-staters damn Hillary as a Godless Bolshie, while many progressives view her as a potential Lieber-woman. Feelings are less supercharged when the subject turns toward, say, Joe Biden, who occupies a similar space on the political spectrum.

In TPM Cafe, Greg Sargent details a major discrepancy between the two upcoming Hillary bios, the first by anti-Clintonians Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta, the second by Carl Bernstein. The first book reports that Hillary discussed her presidential ambitions with Bill Clinton in 1992. The second states that she did not consider elective office until 1999.

The source for the Gerth/Van Natta claim is Taylor Branch, a longtime friend to the Clintons. Branch now insists that the story is "preposterous." Either the writers have salted the evidence, or a source has regretted saying what he said. I suppose either scenario is possible.

But so what? Why is ambition considered an unforgivable trait in a Hillary Clinton and not in others?

Suppose someone published the information that George Bush the elder first formed presidential ambitions back in -- oh, I don't know -- 1966. Would anyone care? Nixon probably had his eye on the job even before Ike tapped him. Reagan wanted the gig in the 1960s. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that JFK mulled over designs for the White House china while swimming toward shore.

Ambition is a virtue -- for penis-owners.

One could also bring Cindy Sheehan into this argument. When she led protest marches, the right-wingers called her "whore" and even lower names. Now that she is burned out, some lefties have been just as uncomplimentary. Would feelings have run as deep if her name were Stanley Sheehan? Why do older conservatives detest Jane Fonda with a vehemence they never felt toward Donald Sutherland?


Clayton said...

If you read the book "the war against women" it's not really shocking that MEN behave this way on the right and on the left of the political spectrum.

I was asked the question why do men not trust women? I don't have the answer but it's quite clear that men have a long way to go if we are ever to be good partners.

Anonymous said...

I wish more people, especially those who consider themselves to be culturally literate, would read Gerda Lerner's "The Creation of Patriarcy." That text would help them understand more of the "mystery" about why women, especially those who seek positions of authority with unapologetic ambition, take an "inexplicable" amount of heat for doing so.

Anonymous said...

Man, I'm not going near this topic. But whatever dr. e says, I'll agree with most of it.

Anonymous said...

The hatred of Ann Coulter, Hillary and Cindy Sheehan is pornographic. It’s that bad.

Whether or not you like Ann's snappy one-liners, does she deserve to be figuratively burned at the stake? In the world of wing-nutter pundits, she can knock Savage, Beck and Linmbaugh on their collective ass. Girl’s got it. They don’t. Every time she opens her mouth, her book sales climb. She’s laughing all the way to the bank. I've lost count of the times I've been embarrassed on behalf of the gullible fools who've fallen for her game. Prince Albert in a can?

If Hillary's greatest crime is to be a ladder-climbing wonk, so be it. Her greatest critics are her peers. They’ll never let go of her rare bit of candor when she dared talk about a conspiracy against Bill. If only she was this honest 24/7. She’d be unstoppable.

As for Cindy Sheehan, this is a woman who took her grief and and anger and channeled it in a way few of us are brave enough to do. She deserves an apology of the highest order. No, she's not perfect, but in the game of life, half the battle is showing up. She’s more than showed up. She demanded answers. It's time for the rest of us to pick up where she left off.

Anonymous said...

now we're finding finger length determines personality and performance ... gender has nothing to do with this... it is hormones (testost, estrogen, etc.) that we are exposed to in the womb that determine this..


Perry Logan said...

Truly, misogyny must be fought at every turn. But it's worth noting that right-wing policies are designed to degrade and hurt women, while liberal policies help to empower women.

Anonymous said...

oh my, what a HUGE can o' worms we've opened here!

unirealist, you are treading dangerous territory to take the position you have above! be that as it may.....

the bias against women is so deep, and so powerful, it defies complete understanding. the masculine and feminine forces struggle at the lower vibrations (if you will), but i sense it's because the masculine feels so threatened. i mean, check this out: ALL embryos start out as female, and only make a switch to male at a signal. now THAT is deeply embedded identity crisis, folks.

not only that, the female is so strong in identity confidence that it is capable of that essential 'unconditional positive regard' that we all crave and all moms are supposed to give.

when women begin showing the ambitious and controlling and judging and approving/rejecting signs of the male, the whole world - males in particular - just completely freak out, their only source of acceptance and viability questioned.

on a more immediate and present note, it's particularly curious that americans exhibit this 'lower vibe' pathology so boldly. one of the few major countries to still as yet elect a female to govern as head of state, all the signs for this bias are everywhere, despite all the laws to the contrary.

when we look at countries where women have governed (with the possible exception of england's thatcher), those societies tend to have profound admiration for women, even where they exploit and abuse them (i'm thinking in that special instance of india and pakistan).

the scandinavian countries - where, i have to add, the governing policies are profoundly feminine even when women are not heads of state - have the most stable and comfortable societies on earth. they repeatedly win the UN lists on these matters. interestingly, those policies reflect the traditional 'mothering' nature of the democratic party, as opposed to the 'lawn order' and 'tough love, er, luck' policies of the republican party.

these represent a timeless struggle, and the reference to lerner's tome on patriarchy is great; an astounding reflection on these matters.

the ultimate denigration of societies takes place when patriarchy rules, in even the subtlest of levels, such as the casual acceptance of profit motive and darwinian capitalism as natural and even good.

you see it time and again: ultimately, the feminine is so capable of accepting the masculine, for what it is with all its warts, but masculine must master - and in the process - denigrade it. the feminine is so capable of recognizing that humans must live together in equitable and just communities of compassion and acceptance, whereas the masculine - out of fear (that womb gender thang) - feels the need to dominate and destroy its opposite.

when women begin expressing those traits, all hell breaks loose, even when their ambitions are selfless and utterly human, which we certainly see in cindy sheehan, and even hillary at first.

(an aside, years ago, right after clinton was elected, i knew a republican lawyer who demonstrated this vile hatred of hillary to the max. he even shared with me a written rant (forget the author) on her evils, which showed some of the early signs of what we all now take as normal rightwingnut insanity.

i was so shocked that anyone would publicly exhibit such venom (which again now has become the norm), as it was flamingly and pathological disinhibited. that sort of behavior had previously been edited out of public exhibitions, considered examples of poorly socialized behavior. now it is the norm!

and it is the masculine fear rearing its ugly head. and exploited, for the same reason of fear.

clearly this is a rich and complex - and deeply vexing - problem, and i don't mean to reduce it to oversimplification. nor do i mean to reduce it to the battle between men and women. in fact, the opposite is true, because i speak of masculine and feminine with full recognition that each of us, men and women alike, possess impulses of both forces.

we'll do far better when not just the fact of women, but the fact of the feminine, is not just accepted, but given full recognition and admiration. in fact, now, as we have masculined our planet and species literally to death, the feminine will have to be our saving grace.

the trick will be in learning to do this without hating men in the process!

begin today: loudly admire the feminine in your favorite macho male!

laura k said...

Thanks for this great post.

I don't know why some people feel it's a topic that they can't go near. We should all examine our prejudices, and sexism is the deepest and most widespread of all bigotry.