Been looking at the Green Party seriously, but I keep running across crazy shit they have in their platform that makes me very leary. The latest thing I found very objectionable was their use of the word 'Feminism' in their '10 Key Values' platform statement. Not just the use of the word, but how they actually used it.
I wanted some answers, couldn't find them online already, so asked a few people, posted to a few groups, and in general, those requests looked like my original - to the 'Greens of California' Yahoo group:
I've been inspired by Chomsky and others to get up off my arse and try to make a difference. I've been thinking that the Green Party was the place I might be able to direct my attention, but things I continue to find out about the California Greens (Green Party of California, GPCA) and the national Green Party seem to keep throwing me for a loop.
One of the '10 Key Values' of GPCA is 'Feminism' (http://www.cagreens.org/platform/10k.htm).
Three words: W.T.F.?
Most of America can openly support 'Equality of the Sexes' in all its forms - *this* I can promote. 'Feminism', however, it a tragically loaded word at the moment - and I suspect it will be for the next twenty years, and *I* don't want to spend the next twenty years of my political life trying to get male American voters to believe that they're going to have to start wearing a dress as soon as they register Green. Sh*t - many women won't even like this 'Feminism' bullsh*t!
This is garbage! Hijacking! It's insufferable!
Here is what 'Feminism' is, as listed on the cagreens.org website (cited above):
* How can we replace the cultural ethics of dominance and control with more cooperative ways of interacting?
* How can we encourage people to care about persons outside their own group?
* How can we promote the building of respectful, positive and responsible relationships across the lines of gender and other divisions?
* How can we encourage a rich, diverse political culture that respects feelings as well as rationalist approaches?
* How can we proceed with as much respect for the means as the end (the process as much as the product of our efforts)?
* How can we learn to respect the contemplative, inner part of life as much as the outer activities?
The bullet points are harmless. They're good, not too controversial, not overtly objectionable, etc. We can do them. But 'Feminism'? This is a nightmare. Truly.
Can someone please tell me how this above definition of feminism squares with the defintion of 'Feminism' known to most of America
fem·i·nism Audio pronunciation of "feminism" ( P ) Pronunciation
1. Belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.
2. The movement organized around this belief.
It doesn't square - that's how. Now, here is the wiki 'definition' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism):
Feminism is a diverse collection of social theories, political movements, and moral philosophies, largely motivated by or concerning the experiences of women, especially in terms of their social, political, and economic situation. As a social movement, feminism largely focuses on limiting or eradicating gender inequality and promoting women's rights, interests, and issues in society.
I believed - perhaps incorrectly - that the Green Party was interested in being relevant in America - maybe even being more than a 'spoiler' party. I was hoping that the greens of California had just smoked a little too much herb and temporarily went off a cliff with this 'feminism' language, but sure enough, I checked the national party's website and find nearly identical language (http://www.gp.org/platform/2004/intro.html#998247):
7. FEMINISM AND GENDER EQUITY
We have inherited a social system based on male domination of politics and economics. We call for the replacement of the cultural ethics of domination and control with more cooperative ways of interacting that respect differences of opinion and gender. Human values such as equity between the sexes, interpersonal responsibility, and honesty must be developed with moral conscience. We should remember that the process that determines our decisions and actions is just as important as achieving the outcome we want.
Who hijacked the Green Party? What, the feminists threatened to break ranks if the rest of the party didn't capitulate, a la the socialist sect? Little issues like, say, corporate control of the government are just not that important in the big scheme of things, right?
I'm pissed. Listen folks, this is garbage. People like me are *begging* the Green Party to offer us a place to get active in politics, a place to put our money, a place where we can vote and not feel dirty and shamed when we wake up the next morning, but it appears certain elements - perhaps the majority, even - of the Green Party want to maintain 'fringe' status indefinitely. Maybe that adds to the 'coolness' factor? Maybe supporting a potential mainstream party is so uncool because it might remove the 'radical' label of its participants? Who knows. It's despicable.
I'm now severely frustrated. I'm still a half-assed Dem supporter, but I'm even less of a Green supporter - because of garbage like this. I can barely bring myself to believe that *I* am a feminist in many respects because the label is so tainted in popular culture. How the f*ck am I supposed to try to convince some kid on the street that *he* needs to become a feminist? Are you f*cking serious with this sh*t?
What I want to support is a party that believes in the 'reality-based community' - you know, one where facts actually matter - even 'stubborn', inconvenient facts - like the severe, politically-damaging ramifications of supporting such toxic language. I would love to support a political party dedicated to chasing down U.S. war criminals (e.g. many/most former/current U.S. presidents) and imprisoning them forever, but even more than that, I want to matter. I want to make a difference. I want to be relevant. I want f*cking change, g*dd*mmit, and I want it now!
What's worse is that I feel like I've been duped, as am sure do many who originally sign-on to the green party cause, thinking they were the party of freedom, justice, respect for diversity of sex/religion/culture/race/etc, local democracy, money-out-of-politics, etc., only to find it's *really* a party of 'isms' - feminism, socialism, anti-capitalism, etc.
I can't support this 'Feminism' language. I won't support this 'Feminism' language.
So, is that it, Peter? Just drop the 'Feminism' label and you're in?
Yes. If you're going to keep the 'Feminism' language in the party platform, just go ahead and throw in 'Communism', 'Socialism', 'Anti-capitalism', and any and every other incendiary political word you can possibly imagine - because they really won't make a difference. I can and will support all of the bullet points under the label wholeheartedly. I will *not* support the word 'Feminism'. Once we elect our first Green president, we can work to un-poison the word 'Feminism', but until that happens, I have much better things to do with my time.
When people find out about that they just signed-on to be feminists when they registered to vote green? Sh*t - let's just say *I* won't want to be around, because people are going to be PISSED - seriously pissed - *violently* pissed. And some may resort to violence. I'm serious, folks. I'm on the fringes of the political left - way into Chomsky-land - *very* supportive of equality of the sexes - and my viceral reaction to this language is 'rage'. I would actually, I believe, though I can't be sure, be *more* enraged to find out I was a registered Feminist than to find out I was a registered Republican. I'm not gonna trick people into supporting this radical agenda. Among other things, I would fear for my own safety - not from the FBI, but from common citizens who I'd managed to dupe into registering/voting/donating green.
Aside from the very impractical issues with supporting such extreme language, I'm not even sure I agree with whatever all these 'Feminism' principles are supposed to be! I want to support openness in government, g*dd*mmit - I don't want to have to read The Communist Manifesto to find out what the f*ck the Green Party *really* stands for! Don't try to trick me into supporting some bullsh*t Communist sh*t when I just want to bring down the level of corruption in our government. I want a say in what goes on, g*dd*mmit! Cut out the bullsh*t!
Can someone please defend this 'Feminism' language in the '10 key values' statement? It's fully indefensible, but go for it - I'll do my best not to throw my monitor through my living room wall.
Listen, there are many things I'd like to promote about Socialism, Communism, Anti-Capitalism, and many other 'isms', but that doesn't mean I'm going to make them a prominent part of my alternative-party platform! How the fuck would I ever be able to convince anyone to vote for me after they've grown up on Western/U.S.-style propaganda telling them for the entirety of their lives that anything challenging the status quo is Satanic in nature? Nobody would ever vote for my party, which is why the Green Party is still struggling even without 5 consecutive years of no opposition in the Congress. And now I think I know why the Greens haven't been more successful - it's because they've caved to the extremist idealogues on the fringes of the Party who wanted to go exactly what the European Green parties are doing and jump on the 'feminism' bandwagon.
Note to Greens in America: America is not Western Europe, you fucking idiots!
The 'fucking idiots' are the ones who are responsible for the 'Feminism' language, condeming the Green Party to insignificance - not well-meaning Greens.
UPDATE: Found out more info about the Green Party. It looks like it was the U.S. Green Party that corrupted the original four founding principals of the Western European Green parties, which were:
2. Social Justice
3. Grassroots Democracy
No mention of 'Feminism'. Apparently, in 1984, something called the 'Green Committees of Correspondence (GCOC)' came up with the '10 Key Values' to be adopted by the Green Party of the United States. A travesty. It seems it was just a small group of 60 people who decided on the '10 Key Values' for US Greens:
The national Green organizational meeting in the United States began in August 1984, when 60-odd people gathered in at Macalaster College in Minneapolis to found the Committees of Correspondence (named after the small grassroots groups of the U.S Revolutionary War) and adopt the Green Ten Key Values (which exist and unite U.S. Greens to this day). Among those in attendance was California Green Charlene Spretnak (Half Moon Bay Greens), co-author of several books on Green philosophy and spirituality, including Green Politics: The Global Promise, with Fritjof Capra (The Tao of Physics), the definitive English lanuage study of the German Green Party's early years.
Listen, it's fine by me that just 60 people started a party. I don't care if it was 6, or 1, but for people to just slavishly follow what has been set out before them and not challenge its legitimacy/appropriateness/accuracy/strategy is outrageous.
The Global Greens, the organizing/umbrella/cooperative group of national Green Parties from around the world passed a new/updated Charter in 2001. It does not mention the word 'feminism' - of course, not. It does, however, make a very strong effort at pushing for 'gender equality' - not 'female superiority'. Here are just a few snippets from the Charter:
* a new vision of citizenship built on equal rights for all individuals regardless of gender, race, age, religion, class, ethnic or national origin, sexual orientation, disability, wealth or health
* Will strive for the democratisation of gender relations by promoting appropriate mediations to enable women and men equally to take part in the economic, political, social sphere.
* Will help strengthen existing peace programs and forge new programs that address all aspects of building a culture of peace. Programs will include analysis of the roots of violence, including inter-familial violence, and the issue of mutual respect between genders; and support training in non-violent conflict resolution at all levels.
* We defend the right of all persons, without discrimination, to an environment supportive of their dignity, bodily health, and spiritual well-being
* equality between women and men in all spheres of social, economic, political and cultural life
Sounds like code for 'suppress the female gender', right?
UPDATE: I've been peppering Green Party members and officials at the local, state, and national levels for the last few days. No movement. Shoot - hardly a thinking response to be had yet. I just found the email address for Charlene Spretnak - apparently, one of the co-founders of the Green Party in the US and a staunch feminist. I wrote her:
I found your email address on the Green Institute website.
I've been researching the Green Party - trying to find a new home - not that I've been in politics long, and not that I was ever much of a Dem supporter, except with money - but I have issues with the Green Party's Ten Key Values.
My research indicates that you are a co-founder of the Green Party in the US. Congratulations. I've decided to contact you with my issue, since I believe it relates directly to your expertise area.
The 'value' of 'Feminism' does not belong in the Ten Key Values of the US Green Party. I find it objectionable on a personal level, but more practically, I believe - though I don't yet have statistical evidence to support my thesis - that most Americans think very negatively of the the word 'Feminism', and of the 'Feminist' movement, in general. The presence of the 'Feminism' value in the Ten Key Values prevents the Green Party from growing any larger than a core group of committed feminists, gay males, and Greens who find it all-too-easy to overlook the 'Feminism' issue because they have not taken it upon themselves to recruit new Green members. Should I join the Greens, it will be one of my primary missions in life to grow the Green Party with abandon. And I will recruit passionate individuals who will do great things to further our shared goals, as outlined in the Six Principles document of the Global Greens (Canberra/2001). But this cannot happen while the Greens are a 'Feminist' party. Not because I won't be around, but because the Green Party will continue to be rejected by the majority of Americans for its 'anti-male', i.e. 'Feminist', views.
Even if I could get over my own belief that many/most Feminists believe themselves to be in possession of the superior gender, I still do not want the burden of de-toxifying the word to the American electorate. The Six Principles stated in the Global Greens 2001 Charter are nearly perfect. They're succint, they're open, and they contain powerful and clear language that the female gender will not ever be subordinated to the male gender. At some point the Green Party will have to stop using the 'flawed electoral system' excuse for their lack of success here in the US, and look inwards to see why success hasn't been had.
The 'Feminism' and 'post-patriarchal', and 'pre-matriarchal', and other specific movement policies and philosophies should never have been married to the US Green Party platform. They are far too controversial and serve only to make Republicans and Democrats sleep easier at night.
The GPUS should adopt the Six Principles and put to rest the highly-controversial 'Feminism' 'value', as well as the other nine redundant and overwrought values.
The Green Party - based on my anecdotal evidence - is languishing badly. This would be inexplicable if one was to overlook the obvious - the platform is far too controversial - far too outside the mainstream. Reading the Six Principles gives no indication of what is contained in the Ten Key Values, and vice-versa. That is unacceptable.
Charlene, the Green Party has been shackled to Feminism for far too long. Feminism can now stand on its own, as can the Green Party. They need not be bound any longer. Your voice can go a long way towards setting loose the Green Party on the American electorate.
If you furnish freedom for the Green Party, I'll furnish you a powerful U.S. Green Party that will do more for feminist causes in the next ten years than you thought realistically possible. The Global Greens have not abandoned women, and neither will the US Green Party.
Please feel free to drop me a line at any time. I'm very anxious to get your thoughts.
Will there be a response? Doubt it. But if it does come, I expect it'll be very dismissive, based on what I've seen so far. But, we'll see!
UPDATE: Got a response from Charlene Spretnak - she was nice/respectful, but disagreed about getting rid of the 'post-patriarchal' language. She did express surprise over seeing the 'Feminism' language, however. That's a start. Even 'post-patriarchal' would be a dramatic improvement over the word 'Feminism'. It would still be far from ideal, but at least I might be able to recruit new Greens while having to deal with the 'post-patriarchal' label - it doesn't say 'hate males' as much as 'Feminism' does.
Medea Benjamin gets letters:
I'm writing as a new potential Green. I am working on
a campaign to get the Green Party of the United States
to adopt the 'Six Principles' of the Global Greens
Charter (Canberra/2001) in place of the current 'Ten
Specifically, I need to get rid of the 'Feminism'
value from the Ten Key Values - it severely limits my
ability to recruit new Greens. The word Feminism,
right or wrong, is highly controversial to the
American public. I don't want to spend my time
attempting to convince straight men why it's necessary
to be a feminist - to adopt feminine value systems, as
the 'Feminine' bulletpoints in the Ten Key Values
suggest. I'd rather just have them join the Green
Party and help us make the world a better place.
The Six Principles are more than adequate in dealing
with gender equality, health security, etc. The Ten
Key Values were out of line with the Four Pillars when
the Values were first proposed in 1984, and they are
still out of line today.
I want the Green Party leadership to join the
reality-based community and realize that even adoring
Chomsky fans can't bring themselves to get worked up
over 'Feminism' - that is, 'female superiority'. The
Green Party leadership needs to accept reality,
instead of using the Bushian tactic otherwise known as
'The Ostrich Defense', and stop preventing me from
growing the Party.
Thanks for any thoughts.
Keep up the good work.
Never said I was subtle.
I always start these letters thinking, "I'm gonna be really nice and calm and try to make sure the recipient stays open to my ideas," but as my letters progress the anger just builds up inside me and I'm ready to explode, and it really shows, I think, in what I write. Might need to change that...
UPDATE: Mike Feinstein, Green Party member, and former mayor and city councilmember of Santa Monica, has put together an awesome website with stats on Green Party registrations throughout the U.S. He observes:
Another major caveat in analyzing at these numbers, is that the overall number of registered voters across the nation keeps increasing with the country’s population.
Therefore, looking at the percentage of the overall total in each state that is Green, is just as important as examing the raw number of Greens.
So, the total number of registered Greens, while important in some respects, is actually not as important as the percentage of Greens registered in a state when compared with the total number of registered voters. Why? Well, because put plainly, raw numbers are meaningless. If the Greens register 1,000 new people in California this year, and the Dems and Rethugs each register 100,000 new people, then the Greens haven't gained any electoral ground.
Some of his conclusions are:
First is that the Green Party is gaining ground in many states that first achieved (or regained) ballot status during this period, or simply became better organized on a state level around 2000 or later – like CO, FL, MA, ME, MD, NV. In these states, there is probably a long growth period before any of them hit a plateau.
By contrast, these is cause for real concern in some key states that have been around for a long time, but are losing ground now instead of gaining it – in particular AK, CA, NM and OR.
Each of these states, for many years, has been a place of Green strength.
But today there has been a significant drop in each of them from their highest point to where they are today – AK (15.2%), CA (12.8%), NM (28.3%) and OR (17.9%).
In the other two strong Green voter registration states, DC has seen a smaller drop (5%), while Maine continues to grow, and is at its highest point ever.
I think Mike is being very generous here, but I think he does a good job of making the case that the Green Party is in trouble in the United States.
That the Green Party is in trouble is totally depressing to me. Look at this platform and tell me who would not vote for it:
* Ecological Wisdom
* Social Justice
* Participatory Democracy
* Respect for Diversity
The problem is that these principles are not the principles adopted by the Green Party of the United States (GPUS). Instead, GPUS has these 'principles' - which they call 'values':
* Social Justice
* Community-Based Economics
* Future Focus/Sustainability
* Personal and Global Responsibility
* Respect for Diversity
* Grassroots Democracy
* Ecological Wisdom
Notice anything in this latter list that might, ohhhh....scare most voters away? Yeah - me too. I'm trying to get them to change it, but it's not working so far.
The Green Party in the United States has been hijacked. There's no other way to put it.
UPDATE: The Green Party of Canada (GPC) Wiki page, 'Policies' section, states that:
The GPC had originally adopted a form of the Ten Key Values originally authored by the United States Green Party.
The August 2002 Convention adopted the Six Principles of the Charter of the Global Greens, as stated by the Global Greens Conference held in Canberra, Australia in 2001. These principles are the only ones included in the GPC constitution.
I don't want to draw too many conclusions from another country's Green Party, but let's look at GPC's trend of election results:
Year Num of Cands. Total Votes % of popular vote
==== ============= =========== =================
1984 60 26,921 0.21
1988 68 47,228 0.36
1993 79 33,049 0.24
1997 79 55,583 0.43
2000 111 104,502 0.81
2004 308 582,247 4.31
Is it just coincidence that GPC polling in their national elections went from 0.81% of the popular vote in 2000 to 4.31% in 2004? That's a 400% increase.
The Ten Key Values were abandoned in 2002. Was it the tripling of the number of candidates fielded that led to the 400% increase in the popularity of the Green Party in Canada? Or was it just a wave of voters swept up into the Six Principles of the Green Party? Could those candidates even have been fielded if they were promoting 'Feminism', along with the other 9 'Key Values' that were abandoned by the GPC in 2002? Developing...
UPDATE: Searching through the Cannucky Greens website I found a link to this article (a mirror of the original), which goes a long way towards showing the disdain for 'Feminism' that most Americans share:
At the recent WomenSpeak 2003 conference in Canberra, a former Young Businesswoman of the Year, Gabrielle Molnar, lowered her voice when I asked if she described herself as a feminist.
"I don't think it serves or supports my cause."
Gabby has a high-profile job as a company executive. She's 33.
"And when you're managing a corporate career," she apologetically whispered, ``you also manage the perception around that, and you don't want to get pigeon-holed."
While she fully endorses the sentiment of promoting women and improving access to opportunity, ``feminism" as a movement has lost Gabby. And probably thousands like her.
And this is at the WomenSpeak conference. Not even feminists like the word 'Feminism'. The Green Party has serious problems.
Noticed the Oz government has a website dedicated to Government Services for Women. Pretty hype. Maybe if I can get the feminists of the US Green Party to relinquish control of the Ten Key Values, we might just get a government in the US someday that is not actively anti-women. The government changes are very possible - getting the feminists to relinquish control of the US Green Party? Not so sure.
UPDATE: Another article talked about in The Age article above, 'The sins of our feminist mothers', is mirrored here. It's pretty good, methinks. Check a snippet:
The end result: here we are, supposedly "having it all" as we edge 40; excellent education; good qualifications; great jobs; fast-moving careers; good incomes; and many of us own the trendy little inner-city pad we live in. It's a nice caffe-latte kind of life, really.
But the truth is - for me at least - the career is no longer a challenge, the lifestyle trappings are joyless (the latest Collette Dinnigan frock looks pretty silly on a near-40-year-old), and the point of it all seems, well, pointless.
I am childless and I am angry. Angry that I was so foolish to take the word of my feminist mothers as gospel. Angry that I was daft enough to believe female fulfilment came with a leather briefcase.
It's just more evidence - albeit from one person - that not all women, much less all men, are buying into the environment that Feminism has helped to produce. Obviously, the Feminist movement has been responsible for tremendous gains in the gender equality area, and this article does not take that away. This article points to cultural criticism of this ideal world that some Feminism proponents have tried to paint for us - and we're sick of being lied to - told that if we lived our lives in a certain way we'd be happy. Well, not all women are happy about it, and not all men are happy about it, either.
Many men, don't forget, have tried to be supportive of the feminist leanings of their significant others, and have felt just as frustrated because they've been unable to achieve the correct 'Masculinity-to-Feminity ratio' (i.e. when is it appropriate to 'act like a man' and when is one supposed to 'act like a sister or best friend'). Just like women, men have become resentful of what was promised to them if only they were 'good men', and supported the independence of their female significant others.
It hasn't worked out well. Divorce rates are skyrocketing, people are staying single longer - waiting for Ms./Mr. Perfect - and not too many people are happy.
Not all of this is the fault of the 'Feminist' movement - perhaps only a small fraction of it is - but the American public resents feminists for the lies that Americans perceive the feminists have been telling for decades now. We Americnas need to blame someone or something - it might as well be 'Feminism'. That is not the whole of my thinking, but I suspect it is where most hereosexual men and women fall back to when they can't find another proximate cause. There is a very real backlash against Feminism, and it is not completely undeserved. The Utopian world described by Feminists for women - of independent, free-thinking women, free to have complete independence from another (male) human being, and consequently, happy - does not exist for many women. And these women are resentful. And perhaps they should be. Perhaps.
The 'value' of 'Feminism' has no place in the Ten Key Values of the Green Party.
UPDATE: Some comments from the above articles seemed enlightening/entertaining:
We're never happy. First we say we don't want to be just 'wives and mothers'. Then we say we want independence, a career, money. Now we've got the latter, with some limits, and we say we want to be 'wives and mothers'. I work hard, earn good money and was married recently. And i would like children, but like many other women, once the money comes rolling in it's difficult to take a step back and say no to that. There's the hefty mortgage, the lifestyle, the idea that you might not be wanting children for the right reasons. Maybe feminism has left many of us younger women confused, especially since we weren't the ones fighting for it in the first place. It's not that we aren't grateful for the 'fight' of our grandmothers, it's just that there's not necessarily the 'ownership' of the feminist values. That's what's lacking in the Gen Xers.
-- Daughter of a feminist
More than half a century ago, women wanted liberation, something more to life than just to cook meals, give birth and clean up the house. Decades later, they got what they wanted and were treated as an equal to men in many aspects.
As a result, new age girls are more educated, more career minded, more commercially skilled and more independent. They have a mind of their own. The problem is, they think too highly of themselves and have neglected their culinary and domestic skills. Hence, feminism might have created a generation of women who perceive that they are better in many ways when in reality they are not. They have just traded off one set of skills for another set...
The new age guys however, apart from having to pursue a career, have gained strong domestic and culinary skills and still have to do what a normal guy does. This includes changing a flat tyre to a lightbulb in the ceiling and even cooking a three course meal for his girlfriend. The best thing is, we guys can do it without complaining.
Can we say then, that new age women, amidst their self-perceived and self-declared independence, are still very much dependent on guys? This confuses me because on one hand, women want independence, on the other, they want guys to support them.
As a conclusion, I would also like to know why women behave the way they do? Why do they have this double standards in terms of independence? Why can't they change their own flat tyres? Why can't they cook better than men? Why do they feel stereotyped by having to clean the house? Why do they want the good things in life by asking their boyfriends/partners to provide them? Why? Why? Why?
-- Ernest Campbell Langford, Carlton
I am an aware thirty something - and I cannot remember when femminism was ever a 'way of life' choice. I do have a question though? Is the penis all that evil after all?
-- Male or Female?
As a man, I can't say I am a feminist but I certainly support the basic principles of mutual respect, equality in accesss, equal pay for equal work, etc.
There are some however, that think it is necessary to make men look like idiots in order to affirm their status as empowered women. While this is a minority, it has a powerful dual effect of giving dead-beat men an excuse to act in that manner and to make caring men feel inadequate.
-- Mutual Respect
I thought the 'evil penis' comment was especially entertaining. It seems that if one wants to enrage a feminist, one need only bring up the dreaded 'evil penis'.
The final comment - the 'As a man' comment - seems to be my experience with heterosexual males I've known. I don't know much about where homosexual males fit into things, but I sometimes differentiate between homo and hetero reaction to 'Feminism' because of this 'inadequate' remark. My guess is that the author would agree that 'feminine' could be used in place of his 'inadequate'. Neither is a place a straight male wants to find himself in. I would also guess that a homosexual male doesn't give a rat's ass about being labeled 'feminine' - once he's out, that is. Not sure about the 'inadequate' thing - don't suppose that's a good place for any person to be.
My life has been profoundly influenced and affected by 'Feminism', and I can't claim to being a 'feminist', either, in that I don't support many/most of the 'other things' offered by 'Feminism' outside of 'gender equity'. Given that I'd generally be considered to be at the radical extremist left of the American political spectrum, this is not a good sign for the US Green Party. 'Feminism', as a value in the Ten Key Values of the US Green Party, needs to go.
UPDATE: I'm expecting to get attacked as a woman-hater over the next few months as I ramp up my campaign to rid the Green Party of the scourge of 'Feminism', so I figured I'd best compile some of my earlier writings that gave a balanced picture of my feelings towards women, men, and hopefully even 'Feminism'. I couldn't find any 'Feminism'-related posts, but I did find some stuff that shows what type of person I am - or try to be. A couple of these are explicitly pro-womens' rights, but others show that I'm willing to compliment or criticize equally, regardless of gender, and regardless of whether or not one might describe themselves as a feminist. [This list is really bad news for the totalitarian Greens who want to silence me.]:
Judith Brings the Mo'!
Female GIs Report Rapes (By Fellow GI's)
US sailors wear out sex workers
YOU Think Spam Sucks?
Classic! SPAM me, please!
Holy frashizzle - this Kristen Breitweiser is no joke...
Where's your husband, lady?!
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) on Haiti
Military Families vs. the War
Chinese Women Create Secret Script
March For Women's Lives
Japan's Royal Family
Judge Judith Retchin: Fuckin Monster
Freedom Fries Jones
Shrapnel From Home
Maternity With No Mr. Right
Stab Wife 112 Times, Get 6 Years
Women feel more pain than men!
Republican Men Are Cowardly Girlie-men
UPDATE: The Global Greens Party of the USA. How does it sound? Either GPUS comes around or we're going to have to start a real Green Party right here in the goold 'ol US of A, all over again. Only this time, it won't be dominated by radical feminists with a radical feminist agenda - we'll be reasonable Greens with a reasonable Green agenda. Heard of one group in Canada who already started a new 'Green Party' - The Peace and Ecology Party (PEP), because the old one got too far away from the core principles espoused by the Global Greens Charter.
UPDATE: 10/20/05 - Feminist politics backlash in Sweden:
STOCKHOLM As one of the world's most gender-equal countries - a land where 80 percent of the women have jobs, where about half of the members of Parliament are female - does Sweden need a feminist party?
Many people thought so this spring, when a number of high-profile Swedish women began Feministiskt Initiativ, or Feminist Initiative. Polls then showed that almost a quarter of the electorate would consider voting for the party in parliamentary elections next year.
Six months later, however, that backing has imploded as Sweden rethinks the politics of sex.
Feminist Initiative is in disarray with the loss of several founding members who abruptly departed over the radical direction the party was taking. At its recent founding congress, for example, instead of tackling a mainstream platform as planned, the party presented proposals to abolish marriage and create "gender-neutral" names.
Support for feminism took another hit this summer with the airing of a Swedish television documentary called "The Gender War." A wrenching debate was set off by the film, which showed militant feminism to be widespread, reaching into official circles: Ireen von Wachenfeldt, the chairman of Roks, Sweden's largest women's shelter organization, for one, was shown asserting that "men are animals."
"They turned out to be a very narrow party," said Bjorn Elmbrant, a political commentator at Swedish Radio. "The gay-related issues that they are focusing on really aren't that important to most people. I'd say, embellishing only slightly, that this might interest about 800 voters."
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: What's up with Feminism and porn? Is it still illegal in the Feminism profession like it is in the Republican profession? Who knows. Whatever the case, it seems a good way to invite ridicule. But women are down now, too. That might not be good news for Republicans, or porn-hating and man-hating feminists, and the Green Party.
UPDATE: Saw Zainab Salbi of Women for Women International at Book Passage last night. Have some notes and other random thoughts I took down.
* Her book, Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam; A Memoir by Zainab Salbi and Laurie Becklund, seemed like it could be just be another anti-Saddam, pro-Iraq-Invasion propaganda book seems like it might not be that, explicitly - it might help explain to those who have never lived it (me) what it was like to live under Saddam - particularly as a woman
* told story of Nabito - Congolese woman who was gang raped - unreal brutal story - then footage of Nabito was aired on Oprah (January 24, 2005 show, I believe). Seems Zainab has appeared on Oprah, either live or in footage, at least once - though not sure either or when.
* told her hubby she would not have a child with him (whassup w/ that?)
* her mom arranged marriage for her to U.S. man who hit her, etc., so she left him after 3 months
* likened her mom giving her away to arranged marriage to that of Vietnamese mothers tossing their babies to fleeing U.S. soldiers near end of war (fall of Saigon, I presume?? have to check this story out...heard of it before, but details...)
* same as Nabito tried to give her daughter to Zainab to raise in the U.S.
* Zainab seems honest, convincing, decent
* just wants to tell story of women like Nabito
* rape camps in Bosnia? true? check antiwar.com. what did Raimondo, others, write? Bombing of Sarajevo? U.S. government propaganda?
* Baghdad/Iraq is 150 degrees in the summer, and even San Franciscans would lose their sanity in that heat
* Rumi - Sufi Poet - "out beyond the fields, I will meet u there" - which blogger uses this? [UPDATE: Actual quote - a verse, part of a larger stanza/poem - "Out beyond the ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field — I’ll meet you there." Sounds pretty cool. Implied forgiveness. A big 'ol "Let's start over." I like it. A lot. The blog I was thinking of actually does not use this quote, but this: "... I'll meet you 'round the bend my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend..." - looks like Riverbend herself is responsible for that one. Pretty cool.]
* very good at describing how war actually is - shaking/rattling of windows, the noise so loud it hurts your ears, etc.
* most survivors of women are war
* talked about how she used to discuss with her family (I guess during the 1991 invasion) about how to sleep at night - all in one room so they'd all die together, or in separate rooms to maximize the chance that someone would survive a bomb
* resistance-run tv in Iraq has resistance fighters talking about how they are raping and killing college girls b/c they say the girls are collaborating with the Americans
* $27/mo for W4W Intl....
* doesn't like the term '3rd world'...there is good/bad in all 'worlds'...
* funny part - she was attending a women's conference and said 'all us women already know what we want, we have to start telling men!'...
* W4W Intl (her group) does 'Leadership Training For Men' - i.e. 'Women's Rights Training for Men'...grassroots training...
* said she tries to suggest to men the practical side of educating women - to make the economy stronger, etc., b/c the moral/ethical arg doesn't work by itself
* when Taliban government was ousted from Afghanistan, Salbi asked the women, excitedly, "What do you want now? What are you going to ask for (in terms of women's rights)?" The Afghani women's groups' leaders said "we want Sharia law", and "don't confuse our feelings for the Taliban (hatred) with our feelings for our religion (Islam)."
UPDATE: Not sure what my 'efforts' were, but got an email from human rights first:
Your efforts have helped to protect women who have fled from horrendous violence, including Rodi Alvarado, who fled to the U.S. in search of protection after suffering ten years of brutal domestic violence in Guatemala. Because of your interest in Ms. Alvarado's case, we are writing to urge you to watch the upcoming PBS program "Breaking Free: A Woman's Journey" on Wednesday, October 26.
Link to show here.
UPDATE: gp.org linked to the Gloria Mattera campaign, but she didn't link back. sent email to find out why. Developing... [UPDATE: Mattera's site had just been redesigned. She now has a links page with links to all local and state Green Parties, many of which either show or link to the Ten Key Values - including 'Feminism'. It'd be nice if we knew how many comments she received on the website saying things like, "I'd like to support you, but I can't do Feminism."]
UPDATE: The apparently-successful Aimee Allison campaign for Oakland Council does not have any links to any Green Party-affiliated sites, either. Developing... [UPDATE: Oops - looks like I was wrong about this. Ms. Allison did not win. That sucks. Wonder if a more inclusive GP platform would have helped?]
UPDATE: I have a feeling that the GP includes very few blacks among its supporters - less than 1% would be my guess. This is just a feeling - a thought - another hypothesis - no real evidence, yet. If true, there would be several reasons, but at least one of them, I suspect, would go back to those infamous Ten Key Values, specifically the 'Feminism' value. Part of the Feminism campaign is to get males to reduce their aggressiveness, to get rid of at least some of their testosterone, to reduce the value of the 'fight-or-flight' mechanism, etc. This, to me, means 'be submissive'. I, myself, educated white-boy from the lower-middle class burbs, can't stand that thought. I suspect that it would be even more repulsive to most blacks in America who have experienced multiple types of violence from multiple authorities in our society - with police brutality/homicide being chief among those 'multiple types of violence' in the black community. I suspect that the last thing a black person wants to be told when he/she is getting unjustly and brutally beaten by a gang of racist cops is to 'be submissive'. I suspect that fighting off an assault even if by trying to stiffen one's body and resist the torturous blows and body twisting being inflicted by the cops might help stave off thoughts of suicide at least a little bit longer than if one submitted to the brutality immediately and completely without offering any resistance whatsoever. Just a thought.
UPDATE: A. Huffington points out how the Dems are blowing it again. Listen, Cindy Sheehan is a Green - she just needs to know that she is going to be able to make a difference. She won't join the Green Party as long as it is a radical, Feminist party. Think of the literally millions of Dem voters out there - many of them activists with money to throw around - who are *begging* for the chance to actually vote for someone who shares their anti-war views. It's quite an empowering thought. But, the Green Party needs to get serious and drop these radical Ten Key Values.
UPDATE: Wow. Drudge points us to a Maureen Dowd article titled, "What's a Modern Girl to Do?" It's good. Very good. It's a lot of observation, a pinch of ripping old-school Feminism, and a lot of ripping modern-day women for completely abdicating their responsibility to themselves and future women by not taking seriously their duty to continue the struggle for women's rights.
Lot of good, insightful, and funny lines and observations in there. If you pretend to care about women's rights or feminism or the Green Party, read the whole thing.
The other day, Drudge pointed us to this article on the increasing number of unmarried women giving birth. Above, I pointed us to an article titled "With no Mr. Right in sight, time for plan B" (using my shortened link title, "Maternity With No Mr. Right").
What's the 'take-away' from the article for Greens? Fix your shit. Stat.
p.s. Forgot to include this. Armando at dKos was going ballistic, still, on Larry Summers. He might have a point, but my cursory view of the situation - after reading key parts of what Summers said a few times, led me to say this. In that comment I mentioned a book I'd skimmed/read called 'Female Chauvinist Pigs : Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture'. In her article, Dowd addresses some of this 'raunch culture' stuff. I'm guessing her new book will expound further.
UPDATE: The Michigan Greens state that "Greens are feminists...". Nothing further, your honor.
UPDATE: I'm happy that a commenter has challenged me for being too ignorant to understand what the word 'Feminism' stands for. I have occassion, now, to brandish what will become just one of thousands of pieces of evidence I will use to make my case. Our gentle commenter says this:
Of the 10 Key Values, you have a problem with one, and not really a problem with what the Greens - and most knowledgeable people - understand by the word, but by what the corporate media has turned the word into.
Dr. Jane Freedman might beg to differ. In her 2001 book, titled 'Feminism', she has this to say on the matter:
The title of this book should, perhaps, more properly have been Feminisms, because, as soon as you attempt to analyse all that has been spoken and written in the name of feminism, it becomes clear that this is not one unitary concept, but instead a diverse and multifaceted grouping of ideas, and indeed actions. And although many attempts have been made to answer the question ‘What is feminism?’ with a set of core propositions and beliefs central to all feminist theories, the task is made extremely difficult because many of the different strands of feminism seem to be not only divergent but sometimes forcefully opposed. So, perhaps we should start from the assumption that we cannot define what ‘feminism’ is, but only try to pick out common characteristics of all the many different ‘feminisms’. Any attempt to provide a baseline definition of a common basis of all feminisms may start with the assertion that feminisms concern themselves with women’s inferior position in society and with discrimination encountered by women because of their sex. Furthermore, one could argue that all feminists call for changes in the social, economic, political or cultural order, to reduce and eventually overcome this discrimination against women. Beyond these general assertions, however, it is difficult to come up with any other ‘common ground’ between the different strands of feminism, and as Delmar (1986) argues, one cannot assume that agreement or feminist unity underlies the extreme fragmentation of contemporary feminism. Indeed, such an assumption of underlying unity or coherence of different feminisms may have the unlooked-for effect of marginalizing different groups of women whose concerns fall outside this definition of feminist unity.
[I actually got the text from the first chapter of the book, found here in PDF format.]
I think the good doctor makes perfectly clear from the first bolded text section that 'feminism' is not a word that readily lends itself to simple definition. Thus, attempting to slam 'Feminism' into the Green Party platform is extremely problematic since there is not even a clear definition of it. If you choose to say 'everything' (i.e. 'all strains, ideas, actions of Feminism'), then that of course is problematic because, in the good doctor's words, "...many of the different strands of feminism seem to be not only divergent but sometimes forcefully opposed."
The second bolded text section is interesting in that it tracks back to something I have already quoted above - some text from the Global Greens Charter of 2001. Let me repeat it here:
* equality between women and men in all spheres of social, economic, political and cultural life
I'm no genius, but methinks this is more than a coincidence. Dr. Freedman has told us what all the different 'Feminisms' have in common, and so have the Global Greens. They are in agreement. This matters. The Global Greens intentionally used wording that all of us could agree on - all people of all stripes and cultures all over the world. The Global Greens stressed inclusiveness, not exclusiveness.
Further reading moves us onto other interesting points. Dr. Freedman writes:
The term feminism is a relatively modern one – there are debates over when and where it was first used, but the term ‘feminist’ seems to have first been used in 1871 in a French medical text to describe a cessation in development of the sexual organs and characteristics in male patients, who were perceived as thus suffering from ‘feminization’ of their bodies (Fraisse 1995). The term was then picked up by Alexandre Dumas fils, a French writer, republican and antifeminist, who used it in a pamphlet published in 1872 entitled l’homme-femme, on the subject of adultery, to describe women behaving in a supposedly masculine way. Thus, as Fraisse (1995: 316) points out, although in medical terminology feminism was used to signify a feminization of men, in political terms it was first used to describe a virilization of women. This type of gender confusion was something that was clearly feared in the nineteenth century, and it can be argued that it is still present in a modified form in today’s societies where feminists are sometimes perceived as challenging natural differences between men and women.
The first bolded text section is essentially what the Green Party of California's "Ten Key Values" calls for - the feminization of men - making them less aggressive, more cooperative, etc. I'm not sure that Dr. Freedman could even have predicated that the US Green Party would explicitly call for the feminization of men.
The second bolded text section shows just one strain of Feminism today that I and most other Americans are not incredibly angered about - but that we disagree with. Lumped into the 'Feminism' umbrella, the Green Party platform becomes less attractive to would-be Greens. We Americans who are not hung up on the fact that men and women are different have simply chosen to recognize the good science that has taught us about our differences. Recognizing scientific findings is not something new, except perhaps in some right-wing circles of America (and, perhaps some Feminist circles), it is normal, and it is right. In fact, I'd say it's our obligation to recognize good science - even if that science doesn't agree with our preconceived notions about how the world works. Scientific evidence continues to mount showing that we're very different animals, us males and females. Rather than concentrating on how to feminize men, or masculinize women, we'd rather just get down to the business of solving our problems as a community - together - respecting that we were born as different animals, and trying to use our various talents in complementary ways.
None of the men I know want to be feminized. They don't want to go anywhere near the word 'feminism', or any variation of it. And perhaps they (I, we) have good reason, perhaps not, but it remains a fact. On this particular point, I leave you with a brief anecdote from Dowd's article, cited above:
When I asked a young man at my gym how he and his lawyer girlfriend were going to divide the costs on a California vacation, he looked askance. "She never offers," he replied. "And I like paying for her." It is, as one guy said, "one of the few remaining ways we can demonstrate our manhood."
This excerpt from the same Dr. Freedman book is long, but well worth the read (as it seems the rest of her book might be):
Feminism is thus a term that emerged long after women started questioning their inferior status and demanding an amelioration in their social position. Even after the word feminism was coined, it was still not adopted as a term of identification by many of those who campaigned for women’s rights. Even many of the women’s rights organizations in the late 1960s and early 1970s did not call themselves feminist: the term feminism had a restricted use in relation to specific concerns and specific groups (Delmar 1986). It is only more recently that the label feminist has been applied to all women’s rights groups indiscriminately, and this non-coincidence between these groups’ self-identification and subsequent labelling as feminist clearly relates to the problem of what criteria are to be used in deciding whether a person, group or action is ‘feminist’. Should all theories, actions and campaigns that improve women’s social position, whether intentionally or not, be classified as feminist? Or must there be a conscious intent to undertake a ‘feminist’ activity? If the first position is adopted, then it can be argued that the meaning of feminism becomes almost impossibly diffuse. Similarly, there is a query over whether different types of women’s political organizing which do not have as a specific goal the furtherance of women’s rights – for example, women’s peace movements – should be called feminist. Again a positive answer may lead to a diffusion of the meaning of feminist beyond the bounds of what is theoretically or politically helpful. On the other hand, there are those who argue for a much tighter definition of feminism, and, as Delmar (1986: 13) points out:
There are those who claim that feminism does have a complex of ideas about women, specific to or emanating from feminists. This means that it should be possible to separate out feminism and feminists from the multiplicity of those concerned with women’s issues. It is by no means absurd to suggest that you don’t have to be a feminist to support women’s rights to equal treatment, and that not all those supportive of women’s demands are feminists. In this light feminism can claim its own history, its own practices, its own ideas, but feminists can make no claim to an exclusive interest in or copyright over problems affecting women. Feminism can thus be established as a field (and this even if scepticism is still needed in the face of claims or demands for a unified feminism), but cannot claim women as its domain.
Three points - or, really, simplifications of what Dr. Freedman and Delmar [I'm not sure if that's the correct Delmar writing - probably, but not positive.] are saying - one for each bolded section of text, in order:
1) Green defenders of 'Feminism' as part of the Green Party platform should realize that 'Feminism' and "women's rights" are not necessarily one and the same.
2) I can take a positive stand for women's equality without being a feminist, without believing in 'Feminism'.
3) Green Feminists are not the only people who care about women's rights. Green Feminists can continue to push this notion of their domain over women's rights, but it will cost them their already-diminishing influence in the Party.
UPDATE: Feminist professor says 'get over the dress thing':
Scott said that part of her motivation for researching and writing "Fresh Lipstick" came from personal history. As an 18-year-old college student and recent convert to feminism in 1970, she paid a visit to a feminist consciousness-raising group. "I was treated so badly for the way I was dressed that I never went back," she said.
UPDATE: We're still talking 'Feminism' in the Green Party while rape victims are getting denied the 'morning after pill'.
UPDATE: I like this idea. I thought about trying to talk to Cindy myself, since I'm now in the Bay Area, like her. Why not? Is she an official Green yet? Like myself, probably not. I wonder if she's waiting for the same thing as me - that is, waiting for the Green Party to get serious about being a serious party for more than just a small sliver of the American people? Cindy Sheehan is not just Bush's worst nightmare, she's also Hillary's worst nightmare. I fully believe it possible that the Green Party can be a serious contender in all local, state, and national politics within the next 12 years. It's not a pipe dream. We just have to fix what is so obviously broken - drop the Ten Key Values and start welcoming regular, decent Americans into the party.
UPDATE: 11/08/2005 - Just wanted to quote something from *the* leading light of those Democrats who are progressive/activist, dKos:
In New Jersey, local Dems are hated for their corruption, yet the GOP is so hated they couldn't take advantage of it, and Corzine is headed for a blowout victory.
To win, the Green Party needs only to not explicitly offend the sensibilities of decent people. That's it. If, in addition to that, we actually manage to provide a strong vision of the future, backed by well-thought-out values, and a decent policy platform - whew, we'll have a Green POTUS by 2012.
Also, read The Death of Environmentalism (shout-out to Grist.com, which I've seen advertise before on a blog, probably dailykos.com, and have read a couple of articles, but I dig Grist big time for making this paper available). Read all the associated articles and discussions. This is all very, very good stuff. Let's figure out how to tie all this social justice and environmentalism stuff together. Shared goals. Coalitions. Etc. I love this paper. Sounds like a lot of arrogant people got their undies all twisted-up over it - not too sure why.
Next, read this article from the East Bay Express on Van Jones - rising civil rights star, apparently.
I feel very good about all of this stuff. Looks like someone's done a lot of the hard work already. It's not necessarily fun to be the person who has to tell the elders of the organization/movement that it's time they step aside, but it's got to be done by someone. For that, the authors of the 'Death paper' deserve mad props. Not to diminish the rich content of their critique - they've got some seriously hard-core stuff in there - good and broad-based ideas, clearly communicated with examples. Not a perfect paper, but very, very good - and inspiring. I feel for these guys, because I've already started my assault on the elder statesmanship of the Green Party. Step aside y'all - we cannot begin to thank you enough for your efforts, and at least I cannot claim that I would have known and done better, but now it is time for some new ideas.
UPDATE: 11/11/05 - Ralph brings it strong. League of Fans?! I've never heard of it before! Awesome! This is exactly the kind of energy I'd like to see brought to bear within the Green Party. We can use the energy of people like myself and Ralph and other sports fans. More on this shortly...
UPDATE: OK - why is the Nader/T.O. story so big? Because Ralph is showing how progressives can and should battle on every front. Justice is about justice everywhere, all the time - not just 'politics', or 'abortion', or 'environmentalism', or anything else. Like MLK said, 'Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere'.
But on top of showing how progressives/Greens can and should build the party by attacking rather than defending the authority of all the elite institutions of our society, Ralph has given us a glimpse of how to make sports fans interested in politics, and that includes testosterone-enraged males. I've long believed that the energy I direct towards participating as a fan of sports - it can often be a lot of energy, and it can be directed, and controlled, and sustained for long periods of time - could easily be redirected, at will almost, towards politics and fighting for justice. The same way the world has been missing out on the particular gifts of the female species in leadership (and other) roles, perhaps the progressive movement, and the Green Party in particular, has been missing out on the particular gifts of the male species - specifically, the testosterone-enraged, sports-minded type of the male species. I would like to capitalize on the energy of sports fans who believe in fighting for justice, but haven't found an outlet for it yet. I would also like to just bring about more/better participatory democracy - even if the new participants are male sports fans who have the stereotype of being ignorant boors. The stereotype may or may not be true to whatever extent, but if you believe in the Green Party and progressivism, then you believe in political participation - even by people you disagree with.
As a side note, I was curious how I was relating sports and politics and justice. I put together a site for Maurice Clarett's cause, called DraftClarett.org, when I saw the same this college kid taking a T.O.-like bashing from ESPN and company. It seemed to me like a modern-day lynching. I didn't do much to keep the site up, but I'm very proud of it. Heard from some reporters, some racists, and even a couple of folks who agreed with me. Whatever Clarett's future, I won't give up on making sure the injustices committed against Clarett don't go for naught. Hopefully, future athletes will not have to suffer as Clarett has.
But the Clarett ordeal seemed to me a prime example of the underdog vs. the favorite in any football game. One team is supposed to win (New England), and one team is supposed to lose (Indianapolis). So, most of us, even Rethugs, have this internal justice mechanism that roots for the underdog, unless we're brainwashed by marketing and propaganda into believing that the favorite actually deserves to win - because they're the more expensive franchise, they're from a bigger city, they spend more money on their players, they're on tv more often, etc. But my internal justice mechansim is strong - it hasn't been completely overcome yet - probably because of my middle to lower-middle-class upbringing. I'll continue to root for the underdog and be proud and hopeful. Maybe we can begin to understand ourselves, or Green Party, our struggle, in this context of underdog vs. favorite - especially when marketing the Green Party to sports fan - as crass as that might sound. Marketing is not inherently evil - like most things in the world - there is that invisible fine line between persuasion (in which a person voluntarily takes action) and coercion (in which a person is forced to take action). I want to persuade folks to voluntarily make the decision to become Green.
It seems natural to me that I find myself a liberal - and potentially a Green. I hate injustice - that, I believe is the root of why I am who I am - but it's also common sense and to a certain extent, my humanity. I want to be free - very free. Freedom is limited by injustice, and the limiting of freedom is unjust. T.O. has begged for his job back, but the elites have shut him out, closed him down. T.O. is not as free as he used to be - he has no other job, and the NFL is a monopoly. I'm rooting for T.O. I think you should, too.
Last night I went to check out Starhawk and Stoney Burke. I'd never heard of either of them before, but I'm glad I have now. Heard about them here.
The speaking engagement was at the New College of California, in downtown San Fran. A 'Green MBA'? Who knew? Kinda cool. Will become more important as the environmentalists shift their focus from their 'hey, evil people, stop killing the earth' meme, to one more like, 'hey, folks, being green will help us all prosper financially and otherwise, with more job growth and a healthier environment for your kids to grow up in'.
Stoney was first. He was pretty funny at times. He just gave a 1-hour rundown of his life story. Very interesting. The best part was that he said he still performs on the Berkeley campus from 1-3 pm once a week (I forget exact location and day). I'm definitely going to check that out. Seemed like a very genuine, nice, and interesting guy.
Starhawk was...wow - totally not what I expected. I can hardly believe I decided to show up to this thing, because I did kind of suspect/know that at least one of the featured people there was going to be either an uber-spacey-whatever Green or a witch. I still can't believe I just saw and asked a question to a real, live witch. Unbelievable.
In any case, she said a few things that were very, very interesting. I forget how she first got into witchcraft, but I remember her saying how it appealed to the feminist feelings she had at the time. She felt that women were oppressed, and then all of a sudden here was a religion/spirituality thing that had a female god/goddess. This is not a knock on Feminism, implicit or otherwise - I have, can, and will continue to diss it explicitly whenever I feel the need to. It's just that as I've been learning more and more about different movements and political philosophies, I can start to see the 'patterns' emerge - I can see the commonalities and where they differ - which is not always so clear-cut. Bush's 'freedom' speeches, for instance, would be very much in line with any anarchist's speech, because as best I can tell, Anarchism (as a political philosophy, not in its generally-used meaning in the American English vernacular) is the perfect manifestation of freedom. And Libertarianism is extremely similar to Anarchism in many ways. And Libertarianism is very close to Rethuganism in many ways. Things are what they are - I can't and won't apologize for the fact that a leading feminist - or, more exactingly, a leading ecofeminist, is a self-described witch. I will also not apologize for the fact that my main political hero is an Anarchist. Facts are facts.
I asked Starhawk during the Q&A what she thought about the Green Party and she said something like this:
It's good, but it's disorganized/factional right now. Things looked real good in 2000, but 2004 hurt the Green Party real bad.
At one point, she mentioned how she was always taken aback at the reaction she received when she told American folks that she'd attended UCLA for free - not on scholarship - just free. Apparently, thirty or so years ago, you could take classes at UCLA for free. Pretty darn awesome. It actually is difficult to imagine. But maybe that's where the Green Party can take us.
I may be confused on the name here, but I think Starhawk mentioned that she'd once protested with Christina Hoff Sommers - now of right-wing, anti-feminism fame. Whether I have the correct name/person or not, it would still mark yet one more case of a hard-core lefty who went psycho right-wingnut. In fairness, I hear the money is better in wingnutter-land.
The final question of the night was what she thought of feminism, especially regarding the possible rise of Scalito to the Supreme Court. She said something to this effect:
Feminism was rocking back in the day, but we messed up pretty bad when we pimped that whole 'males are evil' thing, and we're still paying for it today. There is some truth to that thinking - that men are evil - but that it's too harsh and too simplistic. Just look at women - we have Condi.
The Feminist movement needs a kick in the ass to get going again.
And here's the most interesting thing Starhawk said all night - I think during this run of answering the final question of the night - the same one above - on what she thought of the current state of the Feminist movement. I'm going to use her voice and hope I don't misrepresent her words (someone there may have gotten it on videotape - I think the recording memory might have run out by this time):
A couple of years ago, myself and my friend were down in Brazil teaching a bunch of young, ultra-radical anarchist kids about whatever. Pretty soon we were out in the street protesting, making a racket, super-energized. And then I paused for a moment, and turned to my friend and said, 'How did we get out here?'. I realized that we were in our fifties and all the kids we were with were just kids - 20 years old or younger, probably. But it didn't matter. And it was really great because there was so much energy - it was all guys. It was a testosterone-filled environment, and it was really great. It was a very different experience and it probably even helped to balance out my yin/yang mix a little bit.
The yin/yang part was said jokingly, but I believe she was sincere about the whole testosterone thing. It seemed that she was saying, 'Hey - I had a new experience - a testosterone experience - and it was good.'
After this kind of downer on the Green Party, Starhawk said something very hopeful about a bunch of kids from Sebastopol, CA who used to plant gardens in folks' yards before the Y2K 'crisis' - turns out the kids were wrong, but their exploits made them known. They'd sometimes do a block by block approach - kind of like a Green Marine Corps (aren't the Marines known as 'greens' also, in slang, maybe for the color of their uniforms?) - and just plant like ten gardens on that block. That's gotta be one of the coolest things I've ever heard of. Anyways, one of the kids is now mayor of Sebastopol and another is a city councilmember. Looks like the mayor's name is Larry Robinson. I don't know about the councilmember.
I'm not sure where this whole male/female thing is going to be in the end, but I'm sure that males have something meaningful to contribute, and I'm certain that we'll find a place for their relatively high levels of testosterone, just as we'll find a place for the relatively low levels of testosterone in females. The totality of the words and ideas of the Feminist movement, expliticly and implicitly critical of males for decades, should not be one of the Ten Key Values of the US Green Party. We have to move on. We have to be inclusive. We have to stop hating.
Before I sign off on this post, just wanted to point out at least one interesting thing I found in my feminist travels around the internet - the Independent Women's Forum. It's a right-wing think tank - closely aligned with the AEI/Bush set - that aims to make the most radical, male-hating elements of the Feminist movement the primary focus of the movement for the media, and thus the American public. As this think tank continues to gain momentum, they'll continue to discredit the Feminist movement, and with it, the Green Party. That's not fair to those of us who don't wish to commit political suicide by so closely aligning ourselves with such a controversial movement.
UPDATE: 11.12.05 - In response to a posting here, I felt I should clarify my position a bit, though I thought it was clear from the progression of my writing on this post. While true that I started out only objecting to the use of the word 'Feminism' in the Ten Key Values, as opposed to some innocuous-sounding word/phrase like 'gender equality', I quickly learned that I did not fully recognize why the value 'Feminism' was included in the Ten Key Values. Feminism wasn't just a word that really meant 'equal rights for women', it was actually the Feminist movement's ideals, goals, and philosophies, too. So, I thought the Green Party was just making a catastrophic strategic/tactical blunder in using the word Feminism to espouse women's rights - I was wrong - the problem was much more serious than just the use of a single word.
By endorsing 'Feminism' as one of the Ten Key Values, the Green Party was not only espousing women's rights, they were also espousing how we should achieve equality for women, how we should live our lives, how we should organize our society, and all of the other stuff - some good, lots bad - that comes with the Feminist movement. Some of the 'bad stuff' is maddeningly-controversial - objectionable on moral grounds, tactical grounds, or otherwise. One example is 'the feminization of men' - which we, the Green Party, want, presumably. Or so the Green Party's Ten Key Values would have us believe. Or how about the 'politics of (male) domination and control (patriarchy)' - which we, the Green Party, don't want, apparently. This stuff is way over the top - totally outrageous and unacceptable. Some of this anti-male stuff sounds eliminationist to me - a la Bill Bennett. When do we start aborting all the male babies? As soon as we accomplish asexual reproduction for the human species?
But the outlandishness wasn't necessarily constrained by what many of us identified as the most positive aspects of Feminism. Look at one of the bulletpoints underneath the 'Feminism' value in the Green Party of California's Ten Key Values list:
How can we learn to respect the contemplative, inner part of life as much as the outer activities?
Are you fucking kidding me?! This is not a joke. People are suffering and dying and you bring me this bullshit? I don't have time to examine the chi of the 60's and see if we can get the American people to collectively drop some acid so we can all 'learn to respect the contemplative'. There is a time and a place for everything - now is not the time, and the Green Party is not the place for espousing the radical politics of the Feminist movement, nor is the Green Party the place to examine the yin and yang, respectively, or your feng shui. The Green Party is about electoral politics - in theory, it's about winning at electoral politics. You want to think pure thoughts all day long and not have to worry about whether you're being effective or not, join the Democratic Party - they have plenty of folks just like you, and many of them draw a decent party paycheck, too.
UPDATE: I swear, this is the last, last update to this post. I saw a comment here that I wanted to respond to, but when I searched my blog for what I thought I'd blogged about so long ago, I couldn't find it. So I checked my Yahoo Mail 'Sent' folder and voilà, got it - an email I had sent to Susan Estrich in August of 2003. The email is important for myself - to show the radical feminists I'm not a hater, like them, but also because Susan deserves whatever scorn we can heap upon her for this disastrously hateful article she penned while Arianna Huffington was running for governor of California during the Arnold/Davis/Arianna/Bustamante recall election of 2003. In short, Estrich put out a hit piece on Arianna, calling he a bad mother because her kids were going to suffer immeasurably because Arianna had decided that her ego was more important than her kids. I was seriously pissed.
Estrich's original article, titled 'Call her Guv-to-be, not Mom' has either been taken down, or put behind a pay wall. It used to be here. I found a copy here.
Arianna responded here.
My complete email to Ms. Estrich is below. It's a bit embarrassing because I no longer agree with everything I said, but I do agree with the core of the argument - that Estrich's article was basically crap - unfounded, unfair, a typical right-wing smear job against a women, except this critique came from a self-described feminist - a real feminist, supposedly, not one of the for-hire feminists at the AEI or IWF or whatever you call it. I formatted some of the remark/rebuttal stuff to make it more legible:
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 2003 07:32:38 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Peter Smith"
Subject: Re: Arianna-bashing article (huh?!)
My first time writing to you, I think. I have to say
that I'm as shocked by this article as I was to learn
(remember) that Arianna used to be one of those
right-wing psychos I so despise. Wow. First, I think
you're immensely entertaining - I love watching you
battle whoever you are debating on television - don't
recall you ever 'losing' a debate. You know your
stuff, give good examples, and you've always seemed
fair. You're definitely one of the many reasons I
want to attend law school, learn more about the law,
etc. You're even a reason I might apply at USC!
BUT, I think your attack article on Arianna is
atrocious. You seem to be playing loose with the
facts to make a statement for someone - maybe
yourself. It seems like maybe you weren't there
for your kids and are now taking it out on
an unsuspecting mother. Maybe you are fueled by your
hate for Arianna as a person, politician,
professional, author, competitive columnist, whatever.
I really have no idea. What I do know, however, is
that your article is bunk. Most of the statements you
make are laughable - sorry, I'm trying to be polite in
a not-so-polite way, but I don't have your (or
Arianna's) charm to pull it off. So, please forgive.
Let's just go down a brief list:
* They didn't want her to run for governor of
California. She ran anyway.
wow. i feel so bad that her kiddies (who are how
old?) have to put up with this nonsense. i wonder if
she made them eat their peas and carrots, too. didn't
she know that she would become a slave as soon as she
spread her legs?
* her children moved out of hers in Brentwood and into
wow. i know dad is a nice guy - leaving Arianna and
the kids for another lover. if dad never left, the
kids would have to stay put, as they should have.
* Our oldest daughter has been devastated by it," her
nice, Professor. This is really horrible. You have a
beacon of Republican virtue speaking out against his
former wife, whom he left - *and their kids* - for
another lover. am I missing something here? does it
*matter* what virtuous dad thinks about virtue? no,
of course not, unless you wish to unfairly trounce
Arianna - the independent (left wing) competition for
Awnuld. this little quote is the worst line in your
attack article - way unfair - way not like you - not
what i expected from you, anyway. if you have to
quote anyone, quote her kids.
* "... basic rights that all kids should have." That's
what most kids get from their mothers.
again - a horribly unfair attack. the kids had to eat
spinach too? what a horrible mother Arianna is!
* Huffington has no chance of winning. Never did.
ummmm...do you believe in Miracles? let me go ahead
and tell all the kids I meet for the rest of my life
to think about a life in sales because their
aspirations to be president are null and void because
Susan said so - the chances are SO slim, why should
they even bother? i can't believe you wrote this
article. tell me you had a ghost-writer, or it's
wrongly attributed, something.
* ...was her ego, self-aggrandizement, attention -- at
the expense of her kids.
kids, kids, kids. those poor, poor, pampered kids.
have you been sold a bill of goods? are the kids
really suffering that much? you make it sound like
Arianna condemned them to Abu Ghraib. too funny. is
not a little sacrifice worth the possibility of a
better tomorrow - a better tomorrow for all of us,
even her kids?
* She is running on a platform she didn't even believe
in a few years ago.
true. there was a doctor (resident) in Texas who was
decaptitated a couple of days ago in a freak elevator
accident - true story. during college he found
religion - became a devout Christian. should we
condemn him also? his might not have been identical
to Arianna's shift from right to left, but certainly a
shift from non-believer to believer is just as
* Nor is it one she lives by.
this i don't know about. but if you've ever met a
politician who meets the standard of 'walking their
talk', then please do let me and the rest of America
know. we'd be interested. i think there were a few
guys who have come close. John McCain. Bill Bradley.
* How could she do that to her children? my own
Tell me you didn't. How do I tell my children that
it's OK for the President to lie? Are we back in the
impeachment era again? C'mon Prof., you're wasting my
* pays no taxes
That's false, to the best of my knowledge. And aren't
we all supposed to do our best to pay the least amount
of taxes possible? Have you ever taken a deduction?
Why? Were you not interested in 'supporting the
troops'? Don't blame Arianna for the horrific state
of our taxation system - flat tax is fair, and it's
what we should all pay.
* I wonder if they filmed the children moving out.
i don't know them, but they sound like brats to me.
either that, or dad is just being nice, mom is being
considerate and/or honest, they just don't want extra
hassle/stress/excitement, or maybe dad is being
manipulative, or some combination of the above?
* vows to take care of children and ignores the needs
of her own.
wow. i'm glad you don't expect all mothers to be
perfect - just Arianna. i think she did well by her
children thus far - without knowing more about their
situation. does one imperfection a bad mother make?
she didn't run out on them for another woman. she
secured child support. she's left the security of
hateful conservative rhetoric for the unknown,
oft-attacked world of demonic 'liberalism'. pretty
gutsy stuff - good lessons for one's children i would
* She doesn't pretend to have principles. But don't
whoa tiger! hold on. i'm into Arianna, and have
given money to her, exactly b/c of her principles.
it's not easy to stand up to the right-wing hate
machinery - take this attack article from you - it
sucks to get attacked all the time, i'm sure. because
people like you lack the basic decency to write 'fair
& balanced' articles, our collective progress is held
back. i still can't believe you wrote this. Arianna
made one promise that i know of - not to run if Mr.
Quoteman extraodinaire ran also - he didn't - she did
- she kept her promise. what else do you want? it's
fruitless to even ask you that question because you
have some deep hate going on inside you for Arianna -
why don't u stop being a hatemonger for a few seconds
and open up your mind. Did someone pay you some vast
some of money for this article? I guess I should be
pleased that the 'right' is attacking Arianna - even
in an obscure newspaper. There must be reason to be
afraid. Remove the status quo? But how would we
* ...when they move out . . . whew.
i agree. whew. tired of living in that mansion?
life must be rough. i wish i had it that bad growing
* You're only as happy as your least happy kid, one of
my friends always says.
huh? it's a thoughtful sentiment, but it is true for
everyone? is it supposed to be true for everyone?
should i feel guilty if i have a few good days and my
child a few bad days? should i stop what i'm doing
and be miserable too? should i not work so i can
spend more time with my children? paychecks are
I actually feel the need to rebut about 90% of the
sentences in your article. seriously. but i actually
need to get something done today. for now, i'm going
to be in a 'shock & awe' kind of stupor - wonder if
this was really you who authored this article.
whatever your politics are, i always respected
you b/c i thought you spoke your own mind - were
well-informed - and fair - things I could never count
on from the rightward talking-head monsters on tv and
radio, in general. this article is not fair. maybe
you know something i don't. just like maybe the
president knew something i didn't about Iraq's
arsenal. he did. he knew they didn't have any
WMD. what do you know, Professor, that i don't?
* Mr. Kucinich is 'the only candidate for President
* who will take this country away from fear and
* war and tax giveaways...'.
Whew - that was a long one. Glad to finally get that on the blog.
It must be tough to be a columnist sometimes. When you put your foot in your mouth, everyone will know about it very quickly. But this article by Estrich is much, much worse than your typical case of right-wing hackery. This article is extremely harmful to the cause of women's rights. In fact, I would say this is the most harmful-to-women piece I've ever read in my entire life. It's that bad. Were it coming from Limbaugh, it would be ignored, but it came from a self-described feminist.
It's really pretty unbelievable that this happened. Estrich should not be shouted down, but she should be nudged ever-so-gently to re-examine her views, so that she might see the errors of her ways. That Arianna could have been a total faker (a 180-degree flipper, like so many other pols over the years), or that she could have been totally self-absorbed/egoistic, is really irrelevant here. Arianna wanted to become Governor of California, and for attempting to do so, she was shouted down - blasted, in fact - for being a 'bad mother' - by a self-described feminist. Two years later, and it's still shocking to me. Is Estrich working for the IWF yet?
Note: Estrich doesn't have this attack article listed in her 'Other works' listing. Why not? I think you should ask her.
This is my last update to this posting. From now on I'm going to use regular posts to talk Green Party/Feminism.