Maureen Dowd: fiction writer?

Do you get this?  An supposed opinion piece in the NY Time by MD  is really a short bit of fiction that contains a comspiratorial meeting between H. Clinton and McCain.  They toss back vodka and congratulate themselves on have done down Obama.  Georgia was part of the plot, it turns out, since Bill convinced Putin to go for it. 

At the end, Jesse Jackson shows up to get reassurance that it’s over.

Now, for sheer Hillary hatred MD gets top marks  with, for example,

It would have been better to put this language in the platform: “A woman who wildly mismanages and bankrupts a quarter-of-a-billion-dollar campaign operation, and then blames sexism in society, will dampen the dreams of our daughters.”

So now she’s run out of opinons in which she can invest her ire, so she’s trying fiction?

(If you want to see our discussions of MD and HRC, you could try the search engine or just start here.  It is not a pretty picture.)

My bet on what is going on?  I think it’s the same ‘blame the woman” trope that we saw visited on Elizabeth Edwards.

Maureen Dowd breaks record for sexist journalism

The record is for the winner in the category of “those who do know better.”  Here’s how she did it:

What is the environment for the woman who is the first ever to do such-and-such?  Well, she’s often one woman in a hitherto exclusively male club.  Feminism has made us aware of the temptation to describe the significance of her actions in terms of their (conjectured) gendered impact on the guys.   To do so is more than belittling; if people take you at all seriously, it is damaging in a way that goes beyond what the actions alone merit.   It strengthens  the  biases that  give her an unfair extra burden.

Here are things you might be tempted to think. But to do so is really to once again position a woman as a kind of sex object.

If she is tough, she’s their dominatrix.  
If she puts one of them down, she may be just like his wife. 
If she swears,  you should described it as directed now and in the past at the men.

The following should be an easy question on the “do you have any grasp of your own biases” test:

True or false:  Women’s actions are significant in so far as they are part of a continuing struggle between the sexes. 

False.  To publish such a view of Hillary Clinton  in the New York Times  is unconscionable.  And Maureen Dowd has done it.

Female Theologians as “strawberries on the cake,” Francis says.

I try to be tolerant of others’ metaphors. After all, who knows where in the culture – or even a person’s recent past – such things come from? Talk to someone about strawberry shortcake and some inane metaphor employing those words may well appear shortly in their mouths. Still, Pope Francis seems very politically skilled in his speech, but also surrounded constantly by an exclusively male clergy. It is just too possible he thought women would enjoy his cute expression, one making them a sweet addition to the substance of the cake.

Maureen Dowd draws out some of the implications of Francis and the lack of women in the clergy:

Yet his very coolness is what makes his reign so hazardous. Watching the rapturous crowds and gushing TV anchors on his American odyssey, we see “the Francis Effect.” His magnetic, magnanimous personality is making the church, so stained by the vile sex abuse scandal, more attractive to people — even though the Vatican stubbornly clings to its archaic practice of treating women as a lower caste.

Pope Francis would be the perfect pontiff — if he lived in the 19th century. But how, in 2015, can he continue to condone the idea that women should have no voice in church decisions?

In a scandal that cascaded for decades with abuses and cover-ups, the church was revealed to be monstrously warped in its attitudes about sex and its sense of right and wrong.

Yet shortly after he was elected, Francis flatly rejected the idea that the institution could benefit from opening itself to the hearts and minds of women. Asked about the issue of female priests, he replied, “The church has spoken and says no,” adding, “That door is closed.”

Francis preaches against the elites while keeping the church an elite boys’ club.

As he arrived to say Mass on an altar designed by students outside the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the pope was surrounded by hundreds of white-robed male bishops, male priests and a sea of seminarians …

I so wish Dowd were wrong.

APA: (some) top picks.

Not to denigrate others, but the first especially is why I wish I could go.

WEDNESDAY EVENING, DECEMBER 28th GROUP SESSION V – 5:15 – 7:15 P.M. GV – 13. Society for Women in Philosophy 5:15 – 7:15 p.m. Topic: Distinguished Woman Philosopher Award: Jennifer Saul Chair: Sally Haslanger (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Speakers: Kathryn J. Norlock (Trent University) David Braun (University at Buffalo-State University of New York) Laura Beeby (University of Sheffield-United Kingdom) Nellie Wieland (California State University-Long Beach) Commentator: Jennifer Saul (University of Sheffield-United Kingdom) (Reception to Follow)

FRIDAY MORNING, DECEMBER 30th GROUP SESSION XII – 11:15 A.M.-1:15 P.M. GXII – 3. Society for Women in Philosophy 11:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. Topic: Motherhood & Philosophy Chair: Maeve O’Donovan (Notre Dame of Maryland University) Speakers: Megan R. Dowdell (University of California-San Francisco) “The Respect for the Human Dignity of Black Motherhood” Sarah LaChance Adams (University of Wisconsin-Superior) “Mad Mothers, Bad Mothers and What a Good Mother Would Do” Shelley Park (University of Central Florida) “Mothering Queerly, Queering Motherhood: An Exploration of Polymaternal Families” Mike Jostedt (Southern Illinois University-Carbondale) “Jane Addams’ Evolving Concept of Motherhood”

A part of the citation for Jennifer Saul:

Professor Saul is one of the founders of and co-bloggers for Feminist Philosophers, a trans-continental forum that highlights gender-bias in the academy. The Feminist Philosophers blog has become an example of a collective feminist work that has led to other initiatives aimed at campaigning against sexism and gender bias such as the Gendered Conference Campaign, which aims to tackle under representation of female philosophers at academic events world-wide.

The blog has been immensely important to me and surely many others. Thank you, Jenny

Skype instead of APA?

There’s a really interesting and potentially important discussion over on Leiter of the idea of replacing APA interviews with Sykpe. Lots of good stuff there, but readers of this blog may be especially interesting in Rebecca Kukla’s comment:

Here’s one that hasn’t been mentioned; there’s a gender issue here. Some time earlier this term there was an interesting and lively thread on this blog about interviewing in hotel rooms and its differential impact on women, and there was much talk about how neither hotel rooms nor tables in noisy ballrooms were ideal, how suites were too expensive, etc. Skype interviews completely eliminate that whole hornet’s nest. (I’m assuming no department is going to turn the webcam on the faculty lounging about semi-clad in someone’s bedroom.) This seems to me to be a pretty big advantage.

And here’s another, perhaps more contentious gender consideration: There are lots of good reasons to think that women have it harder during interviews when it comes to appearance and self-presentation. We know that women get judged by their body type more than men do. At the same time, many people have suggested that women have no really good interview clothing options – we don’t have a stock professional uniform like men do. It’s really easy for women to come off as too femme, too dressy, too butch, too casual, too sexy, too dowdy, etc. during an interview.

In a skype interview, you only see someone’s head and maybe their upper torso, typically. You have way less sense of their general body shape, and you don’t really have much of a sense of their style. It’s really not too hard to look neutrally professional from the shoulders up! Of course, at the on-campus stage, women will show up with their whole, clothed bodies on display. But then there is much more information to go on. These initial interviews are all about quick first impressions, which is just where we would expect there to be problems of the sort I am pointing towards.

The more I think about it, the more I find the idea of women might be interviewed without anyone really having a sense of their style or body shape totally exciting and liberating. And no more stupid uncomfortable, expensive interview shoes in the middle of winter! Woo-hoo! I know this sounds frivolous, but I suspect it may make a real difference to the fairness with which female candidates are assessed.

And look, these things may not be as big of an issue for men, but surely it is all to the good if there is less potential for one’s judgments about ANY candidate to be biased by impressions of their style, height, fitness level, etc. And surely men don’t especially love having to sit on someone’s bed or in a noisy ballroom for their interviews either.

Shame on Forbes! And Gingrich!

Neither Forbes nor the National Review is on my list on constant reads.  The following descriptions come from Maureen Dowd in the NYT

I’m not sure where the last discussion we had about bigotry left us, and I’d be interested in hearing reactions to people who publish this thinly disguised racism.

It’s probably also the case that it’s good to be aware that these influential people are saying this stuff.  It is the sort of thing that can make one fear for the future of America. 

So the smear artists are claiming not only that the president is a socialist but that he suffers from a socialism gene.

“Our president is trapped in his father’s time machine,” D’Souza writes in Forbes, offering a genetic theory of ideology. “Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation’s agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son.”

And Newt Gingrich

Gingrich praised D’Souza’s article in Forbes, previewing an upcoming book called “The Roots of Obama’s Rage.”

Newt told The National Review Online that it was the “most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama” and said D’Souza shows that the president “is so outside our comprehension” that you can only understand him “if you understand Kenyan, anticolonial behavior.”

Newt added: “This a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president.”

As Dowd says, “It’s Newt and D’Souza and their ilk who put America at risk.”

“A Brief History of Intolerance in America”

There are protests today against the Muslim center in lower Manhattan.

Maureen Down had these chilling observations:

The country is having some weird mass nervous breakdown, with the right spreading fear and disinformation that is amplified by the poisonous echo chamber that is the modern media environment.

The dispute over the Islamic center has tripped some deep national lunacy. …

So there’s a tiny bit of comfort in seeing that Time Magazine has a photo-series illustrating the history of intolerance in the US.  It’s just possible we might get a little perspective on the frenzy.

CNN is juxtaposing pictures of the protest against the Mosque near Ground Zero with the reference to Time.  I suppose that’s the kind of things that gets it counted as liberal.

Good News/Bad News Follow Up to Research Chairs story

First, the bad news: Not only were there no women in the final 19 researchers selected as the first Canada Excellence Research Chairs, there were none in the short list of 36 proposals either.

Now, some better news: The government asked three leading female academics to probe what happened. Their report and its recommendations have been obtained by the national media.

Lest one think that the Canadian government is acting purely out of concern for justice and the cause of fairness for women researchers, it’s worth noting that the federal government has already faced a successful human-rights challenge over the lack of women awarded grants under its Canada Research Chair program.

The report’s authors–University of Alberta president Indira Samarasekera, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, head of the Council of Canadian Academies, and granting council head Suzanne Fortier – make recommendations to improve female participation. These include introducing a “rising stars” category, as well as one as for “established leaders,” a move that would change the aim of a program billed as a magnet for top talent. They also recommend broadening the areas of the search and introducing an “open” category. Limited time was also a factor, they say. With very short deadlines, the old boys’ network was more likely to play a role in who was considered. They also recommend a shorter list of nominees as women may be reluctant to take part in a nomination process in which the odds of success are around 50%.

The full story is here.

Blessed be the nuns

This is a biggie, which no doubt will get them all  into more trouble with the vatican.  It’s also 4-days old news, but it may have made Stupak’s change possible.  From the NY Times:

Catholic nuns are urging Congress to pass President Barack Obama’s health care plan, in an unusual public break with bishops who say it would subsidize abortion.Some 60 leaders of religious orders representing 59,000 Catholic nuns Wednesday sent lawmakers a letter urging them to pass the Senate health care bill. It contains restrictions on abortion funding that the bishops say don’t go far enough.

The letter says that ”despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions.” The letter says the legislation also will help support pregnant women and ”this is the real pro-life stance.”

Maureen Dowd has a shrewd column, advising Stupak that the nuns have the moral authority now, despite his view that they are not the official voice of the Church.  Here is a  longer and more recent discussion of the nuns v. the legislators who oppose the bill.

As far as I can  see, Stupak and Pelosi have reached some agreement, the details of which are not yet available.  I am concerned that it will include further restrictions on abortions in one guise or another.