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Sexism Is Delivering Our Downfall In An Electable Masculine Handbasket

There have been many turning points toward destruction in the USA. After the Civil War made a stab at one of the worst, too many people spent the next decades trying to claw back all the money and status. Racism has never gone away, but recently the most powerful force killing us is sexism. And it’s doing it at a time when the body politic is so far gone it no longer has a sense of right or wrong (Exhibit A: the Republican Party), no sense of what the immune system needs to do. The blow is being delivered when the country already has cancer.

In 2008, Hillary Clinton, with experience, smarts, and proven ability to negotiate, was passed over for a state senator from Illinois who’d barely begun his first US Senate term. Passed over is not a figure of speech. The extent to which things were “adjusted” to keep her out in 2008 [1] were crucial to that cause. As a state senator, Obama had done good turns for the health insurance industry [2] and an industry executive [3] was on the panel that decided votes from Michigan and Florida should be rejected in a way that benefited Obama [4].)

That gave us someone whose accomplishment was not making things immediately worse. In this, Obama was like previous Democratic Presidents who squandered their years with Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. He was the hero of the countryside and the darling of the land when he came in. If he’d had plans ready to help bankrupted homeowners after the 2008 crash, and a plan for universal healthcare, it would have passed in those first months. Instead he spent them finding his feet. In retrospect, at least he tried. It turns out men who don’t know they have feet can get installed as President.

In those early months, Obama’s Treasury Secretary “foamed the runway” for the banks [5]. By the time Obama got around to healthcare, even a public option [6] was more than the insurance companies could stand.

Obama gets huge amounts of credit for finding his feet — he even got a Nobel Prize just for being willing to look for them. But the only thing he managed was to keep the status quo. The rich got richer, gently, without a crash. (I know. It’s not a welcome or popular view. People are desperate to believe in good at the top. But look at the data. The share of wealth held by the top 1% [7]: 24% in 1995, 22% in 2000, 26% in 2005, 24% in 2010 — there was that little crash in 2008, 28% in 2013, 29% in 2016. The middle class in those same years went from 32%, to 29%, 27%, 24%, and 21% in 2016.)

Did people’s resentments at the unfairness of their lives continue to grow? As Bob Dylan once said, Honey, how come you have to ask me that? Was economic anxiety a thing? You can’t know about the opioid epidemic sweeping the US without knowing some of the answer to that. And, yes, black communities had been having those epidemics for decades. Tell me a lot of that isn’t the same rage at poverty (caused by racism in that case). Was racism against Obama a factor? Well, DUH. It’s a giant factor. None of those things are mutually exclusive.

But that does not make it a good idea to lard on a suffocating layer of sexism. In 2008 the best candidate in at least a century was smothered. In 2016, there was a repeat, a gobsmacking repeat, because it was in favor of a shambling pile of corruption with a Y chromosome. And now, in 2020, it’s all done again to every competent woman out there.

So here we are. Sexism did not prevent some excellent candidates from stepping forward. They happened to be women, so just about everybody who pisses standing (plus Marianne Williamson and Tulsi Gabbard) decided the field was wide open since nobody was really running.

Make no mistake, just the fact of muscling in against vastly more qualified women is an act of sexism. As is not getting out at once because you’re making a fool of yourself, of the whole process, and of the voters. How can a jumped-up corporate marketing drone who won a small local election with 8000 votes [8] go up against the likes of Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren? That’s only possible when the whole endeavor is so steeped in sexism, you’re swimming in it like a fish in water.

And then the drone sometimes polls higher than Warren [9]. Because the voters are so terrified of being Trumped again that all they care about is electability. That’s the 2020 code word. “Electability.”

Women, by definition, lose. So you can’t throw away your vote on them. So they have no votes. So they lose.

Sexism has given us two fossils held over from the 1950s as the frontrunners. One of them has enough baggage to lose so thoroughly that the Republicans are openly pushing for him [10]. And yet primary voters still vote for him. For some reason, that’s not throwing away a vote. Whereas Warren is not “electable.”

The other frontrunner will continue the grand tradition of soothingly sliding to perdition without any structural changes that might upset anyone with money. He’s had a lot of practice. He’s made craven decisions his whole decades-long political career (e.g. 1 [11], 2 [12], 3 [13], 4 [14], 5 [15], and I could go on but you get the idea.)

And he’s the better choice.

He’s a creepy [16], handsy [17], hair-sniffing [18] creature of Big Finance. The other is a treasonous kleptocrat who thinks sex crimes are a mark of status.

We have not come a long way. So sexism gave us a good hard push on the road to hell.

20 Comments (Open | Close)

20 Comments To "Sexism Is Delivering Our Downfall In An Electable Masculine Handbasket"

#1 Comment By quixote On 04 Mar, 2020 @ 21:50

I see I’m in elite company: [19] is having similar struggles. But something she had at the end of her piece made me feel better.

As for me, I need a minute. Last night, my nine-year-old daughter came over to me because I looked upset. When I told her I was sad because I felt like I would never see a woman be president, she told me, “Well, you’ll see at least one — me.”

Thank God for the young who don’t care what’s impossible so they just do it.

#2 Comment By Earlynerd On 05 Mar, 2020 @ 01:23

Quixote, thank you.

Posts like this make me feel like I can breathe again.

It’s very difficult to face the stark reality of prejudice against women. It’s almost impossible when every human being you meet will do anything rather than acknowledge it.

To someone mired in a culture of denial like this bizarre county in the increasingly weird state of Oregon, confirmation is a lifeline.

This was my prequel on another site.

Putin looked at all the fissures in that document that founded this country and pumped propaganda down all of them. The rights, lives and humanity of half of its inhabitants (the right to vote fully 70 years after every one of the minority of every single race gained that right and still the only one with legally second class rights to this day) was the widest and deepest. It broke this country open.

Thank you for your clear memory of what got us to this point, where staunch feminist are fkn *cheering* a Biden win (including me, briefly, when it looked like TrumpClone Sanders would win).

#3 Comment By Earlynerd On 05 Mar, 2020 @ 02:04

Also, even though she didn’t frontpage womens rights as womens rights (none of the current ones did, even Klobuchar – it’s apparently become a third rail) Kamala Harris had so many of the issues nailed down that if cured, would have cured so much along with them. Warren also called for the abolition of private prisons, but Harris led on this.

Prison labor is now a large part of the economics of this country. Washington State had, and probably still has, a requirement that employees use prison industries to furnish their offices. I objected and was graciously allowed to buy my own furniture on my own dime (helloooo, Boeing Surplus). My prototype Bernie bro supervisor would not buck management and stand with me. None of the rest of my coworkers even understood what the issue was.

Prison industries are a disgrace. Government conscripted labor is anathema to everything this country represented. I will never forget seeing, as a child when my family was stationed in the deep South, black men chained together by the side of the road working in the blistering heat, with white men with rifles and dogs standing behind them.

Prisons for profit and labor is only one thing (not small) among all the rest that the women candidates brought to the light of day, but is now forgotten and plowed under and will be allowed to go on.

#4 Comment By quixote On 05 Mar, 2020 @ 12:27

“staunch feminists are fkn *cheering* a Biden win”

as the kidz say, IKR?

and then the biggest giantest most exasperated eyerolling emoji in the world.

Having to accept that we’re screwed is bad. But do we have to *lie* to ourselves about it? How does that make anything better?

Anesthetic is only useful is you’re actually having surgery. Otherwise it’s a symptom of nerve diseases like leprosy. With the same consequences.

#5 Comment By Earlynerd On 06 Mar, 2020 @ 04:57

Among the other things I’ve been discovering this past year to add to the lack of rights I already knew women had in America – this came up in the last couple of weeks:

That ole Title 6, the companion to the always in bad faith Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that nevertheless brought so many woman so far in record time, turns out to be still operating at full blast.

Two or so years ago, a male employee of a business contracted to operate the campground and trails in the national forest near where I lived in NC told me women deserved to be raped if they went into the woods and forests “alone” i.e. without a man. He said a woman could always find a man to go with her. This was after a young woman had been horribly tortured, raped and murdered in the woods adjacent to “his” place. Also after a man had attacked a woman my age, over 60, on a popular trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway, tied her to a tree, raped her and left her to die. She lived only because her cell phone notified her caregiver.

This man referenced both these atrocities when he said this. I pursued this for over two years but the Forest Service would not hold him accountable. He and his wife, who fully supported him, are both still employed there.

The Pacific Northwest has turned out to be no different. I ran into a number of similar things while using my coveted lifetime senior pass in the U.S. Forest Service campgrounds and trails I had so looked forward to and knew so well from before.

After another egregious incident I filed a formal discrimination complaint. After all, every such facility displays a graphic of the Statue of Liberty and the statement “With Liberty and Justice for All”.

Seven months later, the official answer was that women are not a protected group. The slap in the face that was the very short answer the USDA’s “civil rights” office gave me was that Forest Service programs were under Title 6 and women are not included in this. Once again, trickle down rights equal no rights.

So women using the trails, the campgrounds, any of the Forest Service programs (hiking, camping, backpacking and trail running have been my sanity savers since I was in my teens) can be set upon by men, forced to use different services, threatened and harmed by anyone *because we are women* and there is nothing in federal, and here in Oregon, state law, to protect us.

Just another data point, Quixote.

#6 Comment By quixote On 06 Mar, 2020 @ 08:01

There’s war-scale levels of violence against women, but women aren’t included in protected groups — who *should* be protected who also suffer violence but less violence — because violence against women doesn’t exist.

All the evidence to the contrary? Oh none of those count because oh it just happened that way because oh he was crazy or lonely or fired or his sports team lost or she, stupid twit, was for some reason existing while female.

Then there’s the reaction when some place inches closer to saying that hate crimes against women are hate crimes. The panic that boils up. But, but, but,but, but the police won’t have time for anything else if they have to follow up crimes against women!

Always makes me laugh in a hollow sort of way, that does. You can either say the problem doesn’t exist, OR you can say the police won’t have time for anything else.

Not both.

#7 Comment By Earlynerd On 06 Mar, 2020 @ 15:29

You can either say the problem doesn’t exist, OR you can say the police won’t have time for anything else.

Exactly.

The federal judiciary used the second argument to oppose the Violence Against Women Act, right up until they succeeded in gutting it in 2000: justice for women would clog the courts so badly, the “real” business couldn’t get done.

The men -and- women who work for the Forest Service tend to use the first.

Most women I’ve met do not hike, camp or travel alone, but when I’ve talked to them about this, they use the first as well. Understandable for them, though, as public safety is not their job and almost the only way to make the experience worthwhile is to put the whole issue out of mind as much as possible and hope the odds will be in their favor.

Sort of like getting married, come to think of it. Or running for president.

#8 Comment By bostonboomer On 08 Mar, 2020 @ 10:55

Brilliant post Quixote! Thank you. We would have been so much better off if Hillary had won the nomination in 2008 and Obama had waited until 2016.

#9 Comment By NW Luna On 08 Mar, 2020 @ 19:03

“he even got a Nobel Prize just for being willing to look for them” This had me laughing and nearly crying at the same time.

Great post. Men still feel they can just jump in and get ahead of the women because the women aren’t really there. It’s similar to how women aren’t really listened to. In a meeting I can bring up an idea, no one comments, then a few minutes later a man brings up the same idea and suddenly it’s “Hey, that sounds good. Let’s do it.”

Can you imagine anyone thinking a woman mayor of a town of 80,000 was qualified to run for president? No, she’d be ridiculed. Even as state governor, Sarah Palin was was considered unqualified. Yeah, she was Sarah Palin, but still, a male governor wouldn’t have got that criticism.

If Biden wins (and I hope he does because Trump Term 2 will kill us all), I’ll cry on election night because it should be Hillary winning her second term.

#10 Comment By NW Luna On 08 Mar, 2020 @ 19:10

Earlynerd, I still go hiking, scrambling, and backpacking by myself. Most of the time my routes are the less-popular ones, and often off-trail. My overnight camping spots are always off-trail so that keeps most of the 2-legged hazards somewhere else. I’m not worried about the 4-leggers, it’s the 2-leggers which can be dangerous.

I have gotten weird looks when by myself, though. Once in a while I’ll see another woman out in the backcountry by herself, and I’ll joke to her “Another unaccompanied woman!”

#11 Comment By Branjor On 10 Mar, 2020 @ 18:48

a male employee of a business contracted to operate the campground and trails in the national forest near where I lived in NC told me women deserved to be raped if they went into the woods and forests “alone” i.e. without a man. He said a woman could always find a man to go with her.

So a woman can find a member of the rapist group to “protect” her from being raped. That doesn’t even make sense.

#12 Comment By Earlynerd On 10 Mar, 2020 @ 22:06

Branjor,

You get it. I think most women here get it.

It took me a while in my mid twenties, but I got it.

I had started a self defense course while living in a post college group house with a lot of great men, as well as my women friends, but dropped the course when I realized that the only logical mindset was to be on guard against exactly one half of all human beings, including the men I knew then.

Even in Georgia, with all its racism, the course admitted there was no way to tell a harm intending man from any other man.

I also noticed that the men enthusiastically volunteering to “protect” me on backpacking trips a) usually signaled they would expect sex as payment, to which my pre-2000’s response was “What the actual fuck?” b) the mere presence of the significant other I converted to backpacking was enough. I remember coming back from one trip thinking “No one ever asked him to fight. Not one male ever called on him to defend me.” That was when the whole protection racket started becoming clear to me.

Also in Portland, years later, on alert as I always had to be for sexual aggression by men in public spaces (all my sibs, male and female alike are considered conventionally attractive, but my sisters’ experience is vastly different from that of my brothers), and seeing the men who did this to me on a daily basis skip right over the women who were standing in that public space with men. Their eyes literally blanked out if a woman was obviously with a man. They would go on to the next woman. That drove it home.

I can’t remember the name of the feminist who called this a protection racket, but she was dead on. Men never had to do anything, just be there to signal to other men that the woman with him was paying her dues.

Tiptree, as always, said it best. Lady Blue to a man defending men, against his experience, lifelong beliefs and love for the women in his life, in “Houston, Houston, Do You Read”:

“Of course we enjoy your inventions and we do appreciate your evolutionary role. But you must see there’s a problem. As I understand it, what you protected people from was largely other males, wasn’t it?”

#13 Comment By quixote On 10 Mar, 2020 @ 22:49

(Lordy, I wonder if I’m officially depressed? When I don’t even see the point of visiting my own blog? :laugh: and then 😥 )

Good to see all of you old friends.

Watching this process now, watching enough voters finally say, Wait, what? Bernie’s a fraud?

And all I can think is “Why didn’t you care enough in 2016?”

Watching all the Biden well-wishers (zomg! he’s kinda a real politician! knows what Congress does! How marvelous!). But it was all no big deal in 2016. Or 2008, for that matter.

Every time I see something about how turnout is better now, all I can think is, “Hey. You forgot to mention how hard you worked to make sure nobody could be excited about Hillary.” Except of course for the daughters of the witches they forgot to burn. They’re hard to suppress.

Anyway, point being, I have such an atrocious attitude at this point, I should probably just concentrate on growing tomatoes and forget all this shit.

#14 Comment By Earlynerd On 10 Mar, 2020 @ 23:24

Quixote – or should I call you Candide from now on? – it warn’t me, was it?

Trouble is, there aren’t many unfiltered feminists left. All of us reality fans are going to pipe up when we hear one.

I promise to go dark if you’ll just keep posting.

#15 Comment By Earlynerd On 10 Mar, 2020 @ 23:31

Luna,

My McHale pack may have been stolen from storage in Olympia last year, but I still have my REI Cruiser!

I’ll be that garrulous oldster ostentatiously plying map and compass if you run across me on the trails.

#16 Comment By quixote On 11 Mar, 2020 @ 13:24

No, not you. 😀 I’ve always had a big dollop of Slavic melancholia in my spiritual toolkit. (It’s never been useful, but it always takes up a lot of space.) You may not believe it, but I’m actually *less* crotchety with age. It dawned on me at some point that, no, things were never going to get on a good path in my lifetime. But looking at all of human history, each time after people drive themselves into the ground by being stupid they come out on the other side somewhat better than the previous iteration.

So, a thousand years from now when it won’t do me much good, I’m expecting people to have figured out how to live together and on this planet slightly more sensibly! I call that being an optimist 😛

#17 Comment By Branjor On 11 Mar, 2020 @ 19:52

I hope you don’t stop posting, Quixote. I find your posts to be oases in a vast desert! Change is slower than I thought too, but I think if it takes a full 1000 years humans will probably destroy themselves first. In truth, time is a neutral medium and there will be no change unless something deliberate is done to produce it.
Sorry, I don’t know if this comment even makes sense. It feels to me as though my own thoughts are too complex for me to put into words.

#18 Comment By quixote On 12 Mar, 2020 @ 12:34

I don’t see our civilization doing any of the things needed to deal with its disasters.

Well, no. That’s not true. There’s much going on around the edges — climate activists, women’s rights, identifying income inequality as a core problem — lots of essential activity.

But the scale of the response is so far from matching what’s needed. It’s like running a pinwheel in a tornado. We’re not even close to effective change of our civilization’s basic assumptions, so that’s why I figure we haven’t got a prayer.

But as William Gibson said, the future is here. It’s just not evenly distributed.

Places with a strong sense of social responsibility will come through better than the grab-everything-in-sight cultures. We just have to hope they also are the places with a good sense of human rights, not a dictatorship of the collective.

There’s no guarantee on that last one. Unfortunately.

#19 Comment By quixote On 12 Mar, 2020 @ 12:37

Oh, and thanks for the kind words re keeping on writing. Good to know it’s useful! It helps me too. Something about getting the thoughts out into pixels stops them from churning quite as viciously inside my own head.

#20 Comment By Earlynerd On 20 Mar, 2020 @ 22:20

“Places with a strong sense of social responsibility will come through better than the grab-everything-in-sight cultures.”

THE thing that grabbed me about LeGuin’s Nine Lives. Besides the fact that it was a superlatively well written story.

Her British narrator is too aware that he is smaller and weaker than those of some of the other nationalities. But England before and after WWII, with all the shortages, with all the shared austerity? Well, that’s what sharing does. He’s one of many, the descendants of the opposite cultures are far fewer.

RE: Slavic humor. Please. I -have- read The Nose. In the original. And Bulgakov – but then, who hasn’t?

Okay, it was decades ago, and I can’t even spell my way through most Russian now. But the lovely craziness that lets even national fairy tales wander off into nowhere, without any conclusive ending or moral, that makes a hero out of a guy who was rescued by his wife…

And even though I’ve become suspicious of other Dostoevsky fans due to all that self centered angst, the Russians combination of awareness, humor and cynicism is still unmatched.

Even P.G. Wodehouse had to pay homage! (The Clicking of Cuthbert)