The Clare Spark Blog

June 9, 2016

Sex and Aggression in Hillary’s following in either gender

celebrate-hippieThe theme of this blog is that free love and “the strong woman” (who prevails over men) may be more important to Hillary Clinton’s following than specific policy proposals or her character.

It is a mystery to many in the media why Democrats and Independents don’t “care” about Hillary’s past improprieties or crimes. In my view, they are ignoring the obvious: younger women are either happily promiscuous or on the marriage market often requiring a prolonged period of testing in bed. Hence, the conservatives’ taboo against abortion and contraception falls on deaf ears.

Many older married women, especially evangelicals and Catholics may object to such conduct. Indeed, the Democrat Party is not shy about emphasizing sexuality in their pitches to “the women’s vote” or to gays, including those bound permanently to domineering mothers. (https://clarespark.com/2012/10/03/the-sexual-revolution-1- and https://clarespark.com/2012/10/03/the-sexual-revolution-2/)

So much should be obvious; less clear is the role of media in elevating what critical 70s feminists called “role reversal”: if men subjugated women, the correct remedy was to beat men at their own game, and the “strong woman” came into her own: witness the superwomen so popular in mass media today. (For a stunning example in prominent feminist artist Judy Chicago, see https://clarespark.com/2012/11/15/female-genitals-as-red-flag/, whose uber-popular “The Dinner Party” failed to historicize female heroines, instead turning each one into vaginal images to be consumed by the viewer. In Judy Chicago’s oeuvre, sex becomes aggression, exemplified in her photo as “boxer.” legs spread wide apart.)

Judy Chicago Boxer

Do the numerous courses in the history of women fail to notice that although women have been subjugated throughout history, there can there be no doubt that Western women have benefited from the status revolutions conferred by such factors as Judaism, Christianity, and the Industrial Revolution.Patriarchy as it had been known for eons, was drastically modified.

We have yet to mark how much misogyny might be attributed to the growing power and influence of women in the West.

nunnery2

April 29, 2016

The Woman Card

Valside.com image

Valside.com image

In this, the weirdest and most inflammatory and polarizing election season that I can remember, Donald J. Trump is calling his likely Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton, a player of the “Woman Card,” who would not even be in the running were she not a Woman, capitalizing on the novelty of being the first woman President. Hillary supporters are predictably indignant, predicting disaster for such (Trumpian) sentiments.

This blog tries to explore the current condition of women, married and unmarried. I take it for granted that my readers know that I am a feminist who is socially liberal (e.g., pro-choice, but who does not entirely dismiss the pro-life argument). See https://clarespark.com/2016/04/01/70s-feminism-and-its-bizarre-legacy/.

Women who are married to an adequately earning mate, have never had it so good, but those who are forced to work outside the home (either ideologically, or because of inadequate income) are in the same position as working males, either laborers or professionals. Because they are competing with men (and are subject to the same dangers to life and limb) such workers probably don’t have the leisure time or energy to evaluate the campaigns of competing parties or candidates, not to speak of the arguments about the “proper” roles and capacities of mothers/workers. (See https://clarespark.com/2012/10/03/the-sexual-revolution-2/.) I suspect that this group is fed up with male domination and would be happy to see at least one “strong” woman be the Leader, presumably one attuned to their needs, spoken and unspoken.

But whether married or unmarried, women are likely to be the only family members who take care of the elderly. It is strange to me that few politicians or journalists address this shock to the middle-aged women who thought that their “traditional” female duties would be over after the nest is emptied. I find it odd that even the relatively few “geriatric” physicians (including psychiatrists) are not addressing this source of stress, though television is full of ads for (invariably female) home care assistants.

Georgia ad

Georgia ad

Neither Hillary Clinton (nor any Republican or Democrat either) is addressing The Woman Question, except to defend or attack “abortion rights” (and equal pay).  Instead Mrs. Clinton is subsuming the volatile abortion issue into “women’s health,” while Carly Fiorina attacks Planned Parenthood for cutting up “babies”.

I continue to join other feminists in asking the ever more salient question, “Is there life after birth”? (https://clarespark.com/2015/10/10/is-there-life-after-birth-states-rights-and-controlling-our-children/).

February 13, 2016

“…a pretty face….”

WSJ March, 2016 – Women’s Style

WSJgirls002The last few days in the 2016 campaign have seen an increase in the chatter about feminism, mostly focused on the gap between Millennial young women and [relics] from the feminism as it is imagined to have existed in the second wave of “feminism” in the 1970s.

Even the Washington Post has taken notice, starting a new series on “New Wave Feminism” (http://link.washingtonpost.com/public/6095592), while right-leaning Fox News Channel invited Harvard Crimson staffer Molly Roberts to represent the Ivy Millennials in an evaluation of the same subject. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/02/hillary-clinton-2016-young-women-gender-213620. Ms. Roberts, close to scowling during the entire segment, is apparently unaware that the second wave feminists of the 1970s came out of the antiwar movement, and were equally “anti-racist” and “anti-imperialist.” (Some were right-wing social democrats, while many were communists.)

The media have been equally ignorant of 60s-70s politics. Gloria Steinem has been castigated for stating (jokingly) that the millennial girls are simply “going where the boys are.” Persons of my age will remember that the antiwar demonstrations were a magnet for protesters of both genders looking for hook-ups. Indeed Steinem got lots of publicity because of her glamour and well-known connections with powerful males in publishing.

Also making news this week was Madeline Albright, consigning non-Hillary Clinton supporters to eternal damnation in hell. What this signaled to me was the moralism of both “Left” and “Right.” Meanwhile, fashion magazine of the Wall Street Journal today has reduced to sexual objects even the “privileged” women who can afford the major designers.

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz had to pull a political ad directed against Marco Rubio because the production company failed to vet a “soft porn” actress (Amy Lindsay), whose chief line was that it was foolish to trust “a [lying] pretty face.” Nobody in the press noticed that this was a slap against an allegedly effeminate Rubio.

So much for progress in gender relations: “plus ça change….”

October 17, 2015

The October 2015 Political Scene in a few words

Credit SodaHead

Credit SodaHead

I apologize for the satirical, repulsive picture of Mrs. Clinton, but Hillary is turning into a hag/Medusa/Gorgon because aging women can’t yell as she often does. They are already suspect as crones. I noticed that the 1960s rallies featured speakers who hollered. The more feverish part of the Sixties are partly over, though their effects linger in the Democrat Party.

Hillary is also evoking the image of the unreliable mother: too many switches from smiling protector to scolding and disapproval, turning her opponents to stone. She has flip flopped frequently in her move to out-“socialist” Bernie Sanders: gay marriage, free trade, and the Keystone Pipeline (that the State Department approved under her watch as Madam Secretary).

Bernie. The idea that he is a communist or some kind of ultra-leftist boring from within is absurd; real communists abolish private property altogether, would never tweak the system as vindictive populists would. He is a regular social democrat, imitating the (failing) West European states. The Old “McCarthyite” Right was understandably confused. Statist New Dealers, statist Stalinists, and statist Fascists were all conflated in the notion of “totalitarianism,” a notion perpetuated by social democrats and other New Dealers. (On their secret thoughts see https://clarespark.com/2010/02/10/a-brooding-meditation-on-intimacy-and-distance/, retitled “Balance, equilibrium, and psychological warfare.”)

Black Lives Matter. Anyone reading the history of black people in this country may be tempted to erase boundaries between past and present. Our transformation to a non-racist society creeps along, but it is untrue that there has been no black progress. Dems still push the idea of white supremacy to mobilize the black base, all the while ignoring labor competition as a factor not to be ignored, lest they be labeled as Reds, which is a no-no for social democrats. For origins of the movement, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Lives_Matter. They don’t mention black nationalism, however.

Renee Jones Schneider Star Tribune 4/29/15 Minneapolis

Renee Jones Schneider Star Tribune 4/29/15 Minneapolis

The Mid-East. Fox News Channel continues its moderate approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict, criticizing POTUS for not seeing that Israelis are victims, not morally equivalent perpetrators. But they don’t review the history of the region: Arab elites were horrified that Europeans were cooperating in parking modernizing Jews in “their” neighborhood. “Palestinians” still insist on the Right of Return, which would destroy the notion of a Jewish national home. Oil politics matter too.

June 15, 2015

Hillary Clinton and second wave feminism: Looking Backwards

Suffragettes, NYT, 1921

Suffragettes, NYT, 1921

Mrs. Clinton’s most recent rollout relied on two elements of sentimentality*: the log cabin rags-to-riches theme made famous by the Jacksonians, and the tribute to her mother and grandmother in the closing moments of her speech, thus linking her to the white-garbed, very pure tail end of first wave feminists who struggled for Votes for Women.

This is what the second wave of feminism hath wrought: a woman riding on the coattails of a former president, and a woman demanding to be the first person of her gender to hold the highest office of the land.

Forget her silence about trade deals and foreign policy, even though, were she elected, she would be commander-in-chief of the military, whose connection to foreign relations needs no mention here.. Because any famous woman will do, especially if she mouths aging communist platitudes such as income inequality. After all, the second wave feminists came out of the antiwar movement that has never lost its glamour for Hollywood producers and writers—just look at the highly touted series Aquarius, alleging darkly that unspeakable atrocities were visited on the peasants of Viet Nam, and developing the theme that Charlie Manson was in league with murderous, crypto-gay, impure Republicans.

“Rags to Riches” late 19th C.

The Clinton speech took its own swipe at (reactionary) Republicans as the enemies of the Progress that she associates with “the workers” who are now magically absorbed into the “middle class” that she so aggressively defends, as if we remained mired in the Middle Ages when small producers were the objects of elite defenders of the status quo.

It is the role of ideology to create consensus, but at what price?

* Sentiment reformism bases its appeal on a purified, transformed heart, evading the appeal to a change of mind, by contrast, rational appeals based on increased understanding of policy. Sentimental reformism is hence irrational.

Movie poster, 1941

Movie poster, 1941

April 17, 2015

The ongoing appeal of the Leftist-dominated Popular Front

popular-front-boxThis blog is about why Popular Front political coalition continues to exist, and why it is hard for the Right to resist “leftist” smears of fascism and racism. But it is primarily about the emotional appeal of a far left faction within American “progressive politics.”

Where did the Popular Front originate? Stalin’s sectarianism (after 1928) persisted until 1935, when he decided to bond with the hated bourgeois parties against variants of fascism as it emerged in China (on Chinese massacres, see Harold Isaacs, The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution), Germany, Italy, and Spain. Whereas social democrats had formerly been stigmatized as warmongers and enablers of repressive anti-communist regimes, now it was deemed expedient to join with other “bureaucratic collectivists” (statists) to defeat laissez-faire capitalism (specifically finance capital) OR against creeping or already existent “fascism.” (https://clarespark.com/2013/04/21/fascism-what-it-is-what-it-is-not/)

Popular Front politics persist today in the “progressive movement” (Mrs. Clinton!) that confusingly blends “the working class” with “the middle class.” (See the distinction here: https://clarespark.com/2010/09/11/is-wall-street-slaughtering-the-middle-class/.) It remains moot for me whether the Reds swallowed the New Deal or the conservative reforms initiated by FDR swallowed and defanged the Communists. What is obvious is that such New Deal innovations as multiculturalism (covertly racist but in line with the “tolerance” that ameliorated “prejudice”) were taken up by academics and journalists once associated solely with the “hard Left.” Reading such as Alan Wald (a Trotskyist who lauds Stalinists, and is  a prominent cultural historian of the literary left teaching at the U. of Michigan: https://www.lsa.umich.edu/english/people/profile.asp?ID=299), it is hard to discern a clear line that would separate Wald from the New Dealers, for instance, in his recent book Trinity of Passion (2007), Professor Wald adopts the lingo of the Pan-Africanists, referring to his “Black” victims and heroes as “African Americans.” This tic should be, but is not, anathema to an anti-racist of the Left. (Liberal feminist and internationalist Martha Nussbaum adopts the same “multicultural” terminology.)

ww2-women-factories

What is the appeal of Leninism, apart from its obvious advantages in gaining employment for leading academics and journalists?

First, it appropriates an already existing emotional repertoire promoted by mass and high culture alike: that of melodrama with its vocabulary of clearly defined heroes, villains, and victims. (See https://clarespark.com/2013/08/09/melodrama-and-its-appeal/.)

Second, with such clear boundaries between categories, even the most humble person can identify with the lineage of heroes speaking truth to power and, at least imaginatively, lifting up the “oppressed” to the role of major actors in the melodrama of history.

Third, the script is easily mastered. It takes no deep knowledge of political history or economics to assume the mantle of heroism, even Prometheanism at its most masochistic. Marx’s theory of exploitation and/or his concept of alienation are easily mastered axioms, resonant with pre-existent popular resentments of the wealthy and privileged. (Academic social theorists of the Foucauldian or Thompsonian Left will find this blog hilariously retarded, but I am assuming that it was vulgar Marxism that appealed to the populist-progressives.)

Fourth, progressivism affords to the misfits and escape artists “a kind of home” (to quote Pacifica Founder Lew K. Hill’s suicide note) for the nerds and the marginal, who do not see themselves reflected in popular culture. (See https://clarespark.com/2010/10/21/links-to-pacifica-memoirs/.)

pureprogressive

Fifth, the affiliation with New Deal progressivism and communism alike, purifies the self of negative emotions, such as envy. As long as “equality” refers solely to equality of condition as opposed to equality of opportunity, one need not blame oneself for what the “dominant culture” refers to as “failure.” The (imaginary) “system” is “rigged.” (Just ask any Democrat.)

I started this entry with a brief mention of the persistent Popular Front Against Fascism. It is obvious that for all “progressives” the Republican Party and/or the Tea Party are the current “fascists” who must be defeated, lest the Dark Night (“reaction,”  i.e., proto-fascist nationalism and imperialism) of the twentieth century returns.

October 1, 2014

Is Madam Secretary a glorification of Hillary?

Hillary Clinton Discusses Her New Book In Washington, DC

[Updates, March16, 2015. 10-20-14: After last night’s episode, I do tend to agree more with conservative readings that the series is preparation for a Hillary Clinton run for president. For it contrasted leading from behind (diplomacy) with “force” as exemplified with the negotiator who was fired, and who was connected to the prior Secretary of State (?) who was mysteriously murdered. Nonetheless, the lead character is more intelligent than Hillary, has had more experience in government (she was in the CIA) and is more of a family person. In March, a three week “event” ends in the US signing a peace agreement with Iran, for which the Secretary of State risks her life going to Iran to head off a coup.]

I have now seen the first two episodes of Madam Secretary, which many conservatives see as a successor to The West Wing and a blatant promotion of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. I think that this is too simple an interpretation, though there is no doubt that conservatives are correct to be wary, for many liberals are immune to criticism of their would-be president.

I prefer to see this series as what Marcel Duchamp would have called a “rectified readymade.” There is the very visible real Mrs. Clinton, adored by some feminists and loathed by many conservatives. What both liberal series did or are doing is correcting the errors of prior liberals, cleaning them up and imagining role models who conform to the most idealized self-images possible for social democratic feminists, “balancing” career and family, protective of ordinary people, dripping with compassion for suffering humanity, sensitive to “diversity” and deeply internationalist, and resistant to temptation for cheap glamor.

There is a market now for “strong” female characters who can do male jobs better, with more integrity than their male predecessors. So the fictional Madam Secretary, unlike the real Hillary, defies her male bosses, and does Benghazi/Yemen the way many liberals would have preferred, with smarts, honor and effectiveness.

madamsecretary

In researching this subject, I noticed that The Good Wife was mentioned as a precursor in several trade publications. I think this is an incorrect analogy; it is true that “Alicia Florrick” is a brilliant lawyer, but she is amoral; the fact that her firm (past and present) has represented Chicago’s leading drug dealer is just now emerging as a conflict and primary focus for season five.   Indeed, the series has emphasized Alicia’s opportunism, sexiness, stylish clothing, and quick-wittedness to the detriment of her moral purity. Perhaps the writers wanted to have it both ways: exposing the phony neutrality of lawyers, while promoting “strong women” like “Alicia” and “Diane” who face down men.

tea-leoni-madam-secretary-zeljko-ivanek-CBS

Not so with the rectified Hillary, who is almost Victorian in her perfection as the Mother Of Us All. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mother_of_Us_All.)

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