Saturday, May 20, 2006

Liberals Do NOT Have My Back

I used to be a liberal feminist, but I embraced radical feminism as the method that really addressed problems facing women. Liberal feminism let me down. The same thing happend in broader political terms. I used to consider myself as being a liberal, or more likely, a progressive. But liberals let me down. It saddened me when I had to walk away from liberalism.

Why would I do that, you ask? After all, I certainly am no conservative. This story is a perfect example of the reasons why I finally accepted I can't be a liberal. For a great analysis of the story, go here.

What's the story? Briefly, John Aravosis, a liberal, wrote a post criticizing republican senator Pat Roberts' stance on civil liberties by calling him a "big girl"*. People objected to this slam, and Aravosis reacted by attacking people for objecting, and deleting comments that criticized him. Shakes Sis posted one of his comments:

NOTE FROM JOHN: After all, what's really important about what I wrote isn't that we're losing our civil liberties as our democracy disappears, but rather, that you're offended by the use of gay vernacular. Thanks for helping us keep the eye on the ball.

Well, golly, John. It must really suck to lose civil liberties. I bet you'd be really unhappy if YOU DIDN'T HAVE BASIC RIGHTS IN THE FIRST PLACE. John believes his concern about civil liberties entitles him to step on women. How is he not choking on the irony? Why doesn't everyone in the blogosphere see what a perfect example this is for the failings of liberals? Liberals behave as if women's rights are a "side" issue, a "special interest", and take attention from the really important battles. Marginalizing women is the antithesis of liberalism. If you're going to behave this way, then you need to admit you're a conservative.

It's the same old, tired, story: liberal men want women to shut up and not interfere with the political battles they're waging. Women can work on the campaign, but we shouldn't expect any of "our" issues to interfere with the real problems. Femicide, rape, and domestic violence are not worthy of being mainstream issues. All of these reasons are why I am no longer a liberal. I'm sick of trying to change things from the inside-it just doesn't work. And I'm way past fighting alongside people who don't have my back.

*I'm assuming that you understand why "big girl" is offensive. In case you don't: calling any male a "girl", a "pussy", or a "lady" is the worst possible insult. By equating a man or a boy with a female, you are reducing him to her lowly status. This insult is possible because women are less than men in our culture.

16 comments:

lost clown said...

Sheesh. I had to extract myself from the so-called "radical" anarchist communities because of the same shit. I am an army unto myself now.

hexyhex said...

I suck at categories. I don't think I've ever fit well into any kind of category. Even the "people who otherwise don't fit into categories" categories don't work.

I kinda got used to it, but it still really sucks to be reminded time and time again that none of the ideologies or groups I align myself with truly match up with my beliefs.

And, yeah, that includes both progressive politics and radical feminism. :(

neuralgourmet said...

spotted-e, this post actually dovetails nicely with something I planned on writing about later today (hopefully), but I understand your feelings on the topic. I'm personally really tired of 'liberals' constantly maligning Ann Coulter, Condoleeza Rice, Laura Bush and other right wing women based on looks and sexual stereotypes. Similarly I'm sick of the denigrating of right wingers based on sizism. Also, antisemitism is rampant on the far left and is a key characteristic of lefty conspiracist thought. And let's not forget how atheists are treated by so-called liberals (ala Melinda Barton).

It seems ironic to me that liberals have allowed themselves to become a parody of the right wing parody of liberals. That being said, liberalism itself -- that philosophy concerning itself with liberty, and social progress -- is what I still identify with and I'll be damned if I'm going to let a bunch of social imbeciles co-opt the term.

cameo said...

yes, it's the oldest "slam" in the book. and only the ignorant use it.

spotted elephant said...

Burrow-Can I join?

Hexy-I know. We could form a "don't fit dyad", but there would still be stuff that didn't work. But I don't think things have to be perfect to work. IMO, you just have to not marginalize groups of people.

TNG-I couldn't agree more. Isn't it funny that Rush is fat? Really-if you can't find enough material to attack Rush without referring to his size, that's pathetic.

I had no idea that anti-Semitism was rampant on the far left. Oh, thinking about it, I can see that. The ideals of liberalism are what I want to live by, I just can't work with (what seems to be) the majority of liberals now.

Cameo-You'd think the average person would get it. What upset me more than John's post and reaction was the way so many people in comments on different blogs rushed to agree with him. "Get over it silly wimmin."

quakerdave said...

- It's not anti-Semitism that's "rampant" on the Left: it's anti-Zionisim. That being said, the two are often intertwined in people's minds, and that's a problem. I'm a lefty, and I support Israel. HOWEVER, I do not support all of Israel's policies, esp. as they concern Palestine. I also believe that the Palestinian people should have a homeland. They should not try to gain one by blowing people up, however. I'm not "unAmerican" if I don't support this government's policies, am I? I think we can thin about this topic in less than all-or-nothing terms.

- It is absolutely wrong to use name-calling and derogatory remarks about appearance when going after anybody. Besides, it's unnecessary in the case of the moonbats mentioned here. Oops. Anyway, there's plenty to say about what's wrong with them w/o mentioning looks or body type or whatever. That's way too easy, anyway.

- I would submit that the Left, as a whole, is a lot less tolerant of self-described people of faith (like myself) than it should be. The atheist/anti-religionist Left is very attack-oriented and doesn't seem to care that their interests might be better served by embracing Leftist believers as opposed to berating them or marginalizing them.

- Finally, rather than worrying about what to call ourselves (and all the these are perfectly good words, by the way), how about just making sure people know we're NOT THEM and getting down to some serious organizing and activism.

We can pick a name for the band later.

Aishwarya said...

Liberalism as a philosophy is something I can agree with wholeheartedly. Liberalism as a movement has failed, because its led by people who are susceptible to so many of the things I'm against.

neuralgourmet said...

quakerdave, I hate to disagree but yes, there is a very strong current of antisemitism in some sectors on the left. It enters the picture primarily through right wing populist conspiracist narratives that have become popular particularly in the '9-11 Truth' movement and a small fraction of anti-Zionists. Matters are not helped by the Sharon government and others' abuse of the term 'antisemitism' to mislabel political opponents and critics of the Zionist state but the antisemitism is there. For instance, the very first conspiracy theory floated in the first weeks after 9-11 were that "the Jews" had been warned to stay home that day. This story apparently originated with holocaust revisionist David Irving. While not many leftists picked up on that PCT (paranoid conspiracy theory), one PCT that is very popular on the left concerns Larry Silverstein and purported financial gain from the destruction of the WTC towers and WTC 7.

BTW: "I'm not antisemitic, I'm anti-Zionist," is a popular cry among real life antisemites. Note that I am not saying *you* are antisemitic for being anti-Zionist, but rather I'm pointing out another complication in that the real life antisemites like David Irving are co-opting the language of the those who support a Palestinian state and view Israel critically.

Denying that antisemitism exists on the left is unhelpful, especially since the right wing certainly has noticed and is making political hay of it. Esther Kaplan writing at Public Research Associates provides a good introduction to discussing current day antisemitism. I also recommend Chip Berlet's Right Woos Left.

FWIW, my use of the term 'rampant' was unfortunate. I don't think antisemitism is rampant among the left generally. I do think there is a large degree of antisemitism to be found on the far left for the reasons I outlined above, but I do not think it has infected the majority liberal opinion. I do however think there is a general unwillingness among liberals to ignore or wish-away disagreeable topics when they concern their own.

Sorry for the long comment.

quakerdave said...

No, I LIKE the long comment, because these are big issues that need explanation. That is part of the problem. The Emperor and his ilk want a "with us or against us" mentality that hurts us all.

I am overgeneralizing if I say that anti-Semitism does NOT exist on the Left. Extremes on both sides are guilty of this. I also did not want to imply that *I* am an "anti-Zionist." I do not know what label I would apply to myself on this issue. I love my Jewish relatives, friends, and colleagues, I have studied the Jewish faith as part of my spiritual journey, and I support the right of Israel to exist free from the threat of terrorism and attack. BUT, I don't always like or support Israeli policy. Do we have a label for that? Help me here.

I greatly appreciate the links you provided" I will especially pay attention to Berlet, as I have read his work on other issues.

We on the Left have that bad habit of buying into conspiracy theories (I think this is an "American thing" in general, which is sad), and that does not help in terms of combating those who would define us from outside our community , esp. in the right-wing media.

Thanks for the conversation!

neuralgourmet said...

quakerdave said, "Do we have a label for that? Help me here."

Rational? ;-)

Aye, I agree completely about the "us vs. them" mentality and that has been fostered almost entirely by the right wing for the past 40 years.

It's a complex topic and anyone who paints with the broad brush of hyperbole deserves to be called out so I'm glad you called me on my over-general categorization of lefty antisemitism with the use of the word 'rampant'.

BTW: Conspiracism is something I've been researching for about 8 months now. One of these days I might actually write about it. :-) Actually I got sidetracked the past couple of months with Richard Hofstadter's Anti-Intellectualism In American Life which has taken me longer than I'd have liked to read for a variety of reasons but it's a book I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who wants to understand an important facet of American culture and how the progressive movement has failed in some ways by drinking heavily at the well of anti-intellectualism (though not nearly to the excess of the far right).

In any event, I'm almost through with AIAL and can return to conspiracism full time (which Berlet views as a form of narrative scapegoating). You might also want to read Richard Hofstadter's rather famous essay from 1963-64, The Paranoid Style In American Politics that you can find republished in full on my site. AFAIK, Hofstadter was the first to take a comprehensive look at conspiracism and this essay is not to be missed.

cameo said...

okay, i hate to jump in the middle of this debate, but .......
dear spotted elephant- thanks for the note back about Haushia. i'm going to get in touch with the local contact from the house rabbit link you have on your home page and get a good referal there. thanks for your time - you found more info than i was able to.

quakerdave said...

Oh, my gosh, can we talk? Where have you been all my adult life? I was introduced to Hofstadter way back in high school by my very well-read and enthusiastic senior year history teacher. He's great - very underappreciated by the current generation of history types.

I hope you don't think I was "calling you" on anything. I make so many broad-brush statements on a regular basis, I'm in no position to call anybody on anything.

neuralgourmet said...

Hey quakerdave, nice to see another Hofstadter fan. Are you a fan of the other Hofstadter (Douglas) too?

Oh, I see Blogger messed up my earlier link to Paranoid Style. Let's try that again.

ms. jared said...

A-FUCKING-MEN, sister! i'm right there with you! i'm sick to death of so called "liberals" letting women down on a regular basis.

the last survey i received from the dems i totally laid into them and said i'd never vote for another one of them until they stopped acting like republicans.

i'm sure that scared the pants off of them. ha!

xoxo, jared

manxome said...

What a touching Kos moment for John, there. Which is why I don't touch shits like that with a 10 foot cattle prod.

Anyone who thinks they own my support by default because of my values, has no idea what my values are. I owe no one my support, therefore I give no one handy labels to make it even easier for them to make stupid assumptions and directivees, and thus labels suck.

Just gettin' my rant on.

Arkan said...

Elephant:

Amen.

But, I have one disagreement.

"This insult is possible because women are less than men in our culture."

Well then,

Why is it common practice to insult a girl with a masculine frame or traits by calling her 'butch' or ‘dyke’?

Why It is a common practice to insult a man with a female frame or characteristics by calling him “faggot’ or ‘queer’

The common theme is the enforcement of gender roles in sexual activity; man=penetrator, woman=penetrated, hence the ‘dyke’ or ‘manwhore’ is seen as a woman who likes to penetrate, or take on the traits of the penetrator (male), wheras the ‘queer’ or ‘bitch’ is seen as a man who takes on the traits of the penetrated (female)

The common strain is the Freudian notion that behavior is unconsciously influenced by sexual motives. .

That is why insults of sexual orientation and insults of sexual anatomy are interchangeable.