21st Century Politics and The “F” Word
M.E. “Spike” Allen
The big noise over Gloria Steinem’s view of certain adult millennials — that they go for Bernie because that’s “where the boys are,” also the title of a #1 hit by ‘50s icon Connie Francis – has faded now.
And former secretary of state Madeleine Albright’s smiling threat at a Clinton rally, delivered with a Macheath-ish mirth — that hellfire awaits females who choose to vote for a non-Hillary candidate — has also lost its luster, but the rhetoric goes on. As is the millennial feminists’ wont.
Albright, however, did speak the truth when she said “It’s not done,” apparently referring to that feminist thing, the one involving men and women and all generations. And although it might be Hillary’s turn – given the history that black men were accorded the vote soon after the Civil War and that women won it some 50 years later–millennials largely won’t vote on a gender-only basis; it gets their back up.
The “Will I be voting for Hillary” arguments range from stalwart essay writing to assistance of the ka-ching variety. Shiva Bayat’s Slate piece, headlined “A Vote for Bernie Is a Feminist Act,” says that “Feminism is a worldview that understands and critiques power.” She adds that “Female supporters of Hillary should be happy that the women’s movement laid the groundwork for feminists like me to engage critically in power and political life—and so I call on my fellow feminists not to let our bridges Bern.” Very young. On the other end, we have fundraising for Hillary C. by such younger-generation role models as Lena Dunham and Christina Aguilera. To them, She Is the One. Says Ms. Dunham: “I can’t talk about Hillary Clinton without also acknowledging that she has survived horrific, gendered attacks on nearly every single aspect of her character with tremendous grace and aplomb.” Interestingly, many millennials are unmoved by this. It’s their mind to make up, nobody else’s. Also, there’s the concern that the front-line suffragettes might have the stink of victim on them, an unkind position to say the least. This is not to say Bayat is wrong.
Still, as desperate as Clinton can seem after a loss, of any kind, really — no easy-come, easy go big dog like her husband – there’s something humorous re her unabating relentlessness, her cyborg-like ability to raise herself from the dead, time after time, and with the same patina of phoniness with each iteration. The funny part comes when she does something so madcap, so off the cuff, so antithetical to her habit of tightly-wound self-control, that it becomes ridiculous – and then, surprisingly, touching.
Like posing with the not-exactly-heavyweight Britney Spears this month, clearly a bid for the youth vote. Ms. Spears praised Ms. Clinton — “This woman had an intense presence and I felt very honored to meet her”— but offered no endorsement. Britney had tweeted the words along with a photo of the two in Vegas, but she included the hashtag ImWithHer – a clear show of support, leading Ms. Spears to quickly delete it. She reportedly then re-posted, leaving out the commitment-defining hashtag.
There is a generational divide re feminism, and it’s one that is marked by many insignia, including those of dress. First FoxNews made sure all its female news-readers/anchors looked like the 1960s femme-fatales gracing the covers of soft-cover detective stories, except that in FoxWorld, nearly all were brittle double-bottle blondes. The paperbacks were more egalitarian, at least re hair color.
At one point, a Fox news-reader (female) never appeared between camera and anchor chair without her cleavage preceding her. Yes, TV studios are supposed to have icy temperatures, and in one respect, their mien, these frosty dames definitely brought the bleak to the fore.
It can be easy to dismiss Fox for its peculiar semiotics — what can be said or telegraphed about a land that intelligence forgot, one reigned over by a Wizard-of-Oz type, one whose recent news items include a discussion between him and The Donald over that mean, mean lady who’s “overrated and angry,” in The Donald’s estimation.
Dialing the magniloquence up, Trump finished her off, he thinks, by calling her a bimbo. Hey, it worked in high school. Megyn Kelly is the least extreme of the Fox Barbies, and her smarts and journalistic savvy often put anchors such as Wolf Blitzer to shame. But that’s FoxWorld.
So imagine a reader’s crankiness when noticing the garb on anchors from yet another news world, a younger news world, one that can be found 180 degrees from Fox, on something called The Young Turks, which brags that it’s “the largest online news show in the world.”
The panelists all seem millennial, with the male anchors guided by Casual Friday dicta. The female panelists’ threads, though, tell another story. Some of these women are very bright and both genders seem to represent a libertarian/agnostic strain of journalism that very entertainingly lays out both fact and fancy and is aimed at sating its viewers’ hunger for something more newsy than, say, Newsy.
It’s a thinking person’s live news program, lousy with op-ed, so near yet so far from the corporatized broadcast outlets that sell “news” as long as it doesn’t criticize or offend the parent company. Conservatives have a word for it: Lame-stream. Of course conservatives are the worst offenders, but they do get in a lick or two.
The Young Turks—who take the news seriously, but slather on the snark—could be throwing their cred away by presenting its female panelists with super-tight tops and décolletage. And what of the responsibility of the women themselves who show up on broadcasts in such work-wear? Fine when posting to a dating site, but not when presenting oneself or one’s staff as a font of ideas.
Is it possible the men and women on these newscasts are playing a weird game of Chicken, the women daring the men to look, the men trying hard not to. You see, the thinking must go, this is the way it’s supposed to be. No one notices the difference between the sexes.
On another front, a bizarre one in an abnormal group, there has been David Brock — he of “a little bit nutty, a little bit slutty” politics in the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas case a quarter of a century ago – actually calling Bernie “a typical politician.” Politician, certainly. Typical? Thud. Brock’s changeling powers are well documented: going from remorseless priest of the Hard Right, and evil sexist, to, watch it now, Clinton honey-bunny. Brock heads a pro-Clinton super PAC, Correct the Record (irony alert), and earlier this year questioned both Bernie Sanders’ health at 74 (Hillary is 68, just six years younger) and his policies re people of color.
At one point, Hillary, or Hillary’s people, reportedly told Brock to calm down, and Sanders’ peeps soon lined up the self-described Democratic Socialist’s lifetime bona fides re civil rights. Sanders even quickly released his perfectly acceptable medical status (though it was nowhere near Trump physician Harold Bornstein’s odd “extraordinary” rating for his patient). Probably edited by Trump.
With Clinton’s drubbing in New Hampshire, she accelerated her flat-out lying about being a progressive, a label that has worked so well, and so accurately, for Sanders. Also, after siccing Bill on her problem, she went a bit gone herself as she labeled Sanders a “one issue” candidate. Here’s her line on that, to a mixed group of union members in Nevada: “If we broke up the big banks tomorrow, would that end racism? Would that end sexism? Would that end discrimination against the L.G.B.T. community? Would that make people feel more welcoming to immigrants overnight?” Oh, Sister, Sister. Lame. Quite lame.