Thursday, June 10, 2010

Notes on Politics: Election Night as 'Ladies' Night,' Obstructing Oil Spill News Coverage, Goodbye 'Chevy' & Is Feminism Label for Liberals Only?

Election Night as ‘Ladies’ Night’

Several female pols prevailed in primary elections on Tuesday night, causing many pundits to grope around for some kind of clever, all-encompassing storyline around which they could wrap the election results, given that the anti-incumbency line didn't seem to work out too well. Invoking the term “Ladies Night” appeared to be the media favorite. Check out Jon Stewart’s take on the media’s gal power declaration on The Daily Show:

Obstructing Oil Spill News Coverage

Whenever I hear reports from BP execs and federal officials about the status of the Gulf coast oil spill, I’m pretty skeptical and assume that I’m not being told the whole story for whatever reason, figuring that the money and political capital at stake, prohibiting the real story from coming out. So I give a jaundiced eye to their reports about how much oil is really being released into the Gulf of Mexico and the true impact of it -- and the chemical dispersants -- on the environment and the economy. I prefer, instead, to sample a variety of news reports from organizations which lean left, right and somewhere in the middle to try to get a real sense of what’s going on.

Then I read this story on the front page of the New York Times today, about BP and government officials obstructing the media’s access to affected areas, including threatening a New York Daily News reporter and a CBS News crew with arrest for trying to gain access to a public beaches where oil was washing ashore. The Times reported:

“Journalists struggling to document the impact of the oil rig explosion have repeatedly found themselves turned away from public areas affected by the spill, and not only by BP and its contractors, but by local law enforcement, the Coast Guard and government officials.”

Yeah, this is comforting.

Goodbye ‘Chevy’

Also on page one of today’s New York Times, is a piece about how G.M. execs want to stop using the nickname “Chevy” for their vehicles, preferring, instead, to use the full, formal name, “Chevrolet.”

“On Tuesday, G.M. sent a memo to Chevrolet employees at its Detroit headquarters, promoting the importance of ‘consistency’ for the brand, which was the nation’s best-selling line of cars and trucks for more than half a century after World War II,” the Times reported. "And one way to present a consistent brand message, the memo suggested, is to stop saying 'Chevy,' though the word is one of the world's best-known, longest-lived product nicknames."

Bet that’ll go over about as well as when federal government officials tried to re-label the swine flu by the more clinical, “H1N1 disease.”

Is ‘Feminism’ Label for Liberals Only?

There’s been a spirited debate over the past few weeks spawned by the fact that Sarah Palin has started embracing the word “feminist.”

Several bloggers for feminist/liberal-leaning writers took great umbrage to Palin claiming this word as her own, pointing, in particular, to their belief that if a woman does not favor abortion rights, she can’t be considered a feminist. Writing in the Washington Post, Jessica Valenti wrote, “Palin's ‘feminism’ isn't just co-opting the language of the feminist movement, it's deliberately misrepresenting real feminism to distract from the fact that she supports policies that limit women's rights.”

On Salon Rebecca Traister wrote:

“There has to be a move toward ownership from other Democrats, from those women and men who have perhaps not yet named themselves feminists . . . but who also do not want to see ‘women's rights’ come to mean the exaltation of fetal life over female life and religion over science, who don't want to see ‘women's liberation’ divorced from notions of equal opportunity and instead reframed as Ayn Rand-ian survival of the richest or most privileged.”

Meanwhile others have pushed back against the outcry over the notion that conservatives are calling themselves feminists including writer Cathy Young who tossed out the most recent volley on this subject in the Boston Globe:

"Who owns feminism today? Many feminists are incensed when the label is appropriated by women who question the Violence Against Women Act, or who argue that the pay differential between women and men is due largely to women’s more family-focused personal choices, not discrimination. Yet critiques of the conventional feminist paradigms of such problems as domestic violence and the gender gap in pay have been made both by many dissident feminists and by many scholars and researchers. To reject them out of hand as incompatible with feminism is not only ideologically intolerant, it also suggests an unwillingness to even consider factual claims that are at odds with dogma.

. . . Yet the audience for a different kind of feminism — one that seeks individualistic and market-oriented solutions, rather than big-government-driven ones, and focuses on women’s empowerment rather than oppression — is clearly there. The women who embrace it are likely to transform both feminism and conservatism. The feminist movement ignores them at its peril."

No comments: