Wonk’s Saturday Reads: Self-governance

Anthony and Stanton

Morning, news (& history!) junkies.

My weekend roundup is going to be more heavy on history this Saturday (though there will be news sprinkled in too), because “what is past is prologue,” and that applies very much to the present-day rollback of women’s fundamental rights to govern themselves.

On This Day in History (May 14)

In 1863, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton suspended work on women’s suffrage to form the Women’s National Loyal League, which held its first convention on May 14, 1863, at the Church of the Puritans, NYNY. I’ll let you decide how much of a history lesson you want on a Saturday morning–if yes, click over and view the leaflet calling for a meeting of “loyal women of the nation” to discuss the Civil war, along with a transcription of a letter on the second leaf, from Susan B. Anthony to Amy Post. But, I do want to highlight one particular excerpt from what Anthony said at the convention:

SUSAN B. ANTHONY: This resolution brings in no question, no ism. It merely makes the assertion that in a true democracy, in a genuine republic, every citizen who lives under, the government must have the right of representation. You remember the maxim, ” Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.” This is the fundamental principle of democracy; and before our Government can be a true democracy- before our republic can be placed upon lasting and enduring foundations -the civil and political rights of every citizen must, be practically established. This is the assertion of the resolution. It Is a philosophical statement. It is Dot because women suffer, it is Dot because slaves suffer, it is not because of any individual rights or wrongs it is the simple assertion of the great fundamental truth of democracy that was proclaimed by our Revolutionary fathers. I hope the discussion will no longer be continued as to the comparative rights or wrongs of one class or another. The question before us is: Is it possible that peace and union shall be established in this country ; is it possible for this Government to be a true democracy, a genuine republic, while one-sixth or one-half of the people are disfranchised?

Conservative women’s groups have tried to subvert feminism and reappropriate this feminist pioneer as one of their own in their crusade against the autonomy, privacy, and equity of all women, but Susan B. Anthony shared a mutual admiration with the socialist movement and was a suffragist, abolitionist, and practitioner of civil disobedience for which she was brought to trial. As evidenced in the passage above, what drove her tireless championing of civil rights for both women and blacks was a core belief in the inalienable right to self-governance.

Last Year…This Year

A year ago today, Sarah Palin gave her address to the conservative and so-called “Susan B. Anthony List,” and a week later, history of women historians Ann Gordon and Lynn Sherr debunked the “feminists for life” mythology that Susan B. Anthony was a pro-life activist. Naturally this didn’t convince the FFL and SBA-List crowd any more than Obama releasing his long-form birth certificate convinced Orly ” it says African, not Negro” Taitz.

This is a screenshot I took of the SBA-List homepage on Thursday morning of this week:

Here is an FFL news bulletin from February 2011 that shows you what they were up to on SBA’s birthday and throughout Women’s History Month in March:

New Campaign Beginning on Susan B. Anthony’s Birthday

February 2011

To make holistic, woman-centered solutions a reality and effect lasting change, Feminists for Life members need information and tools. To effectively advocate for women and systematically eliminate the root causes that drive women to abortion, Feminists for Life needs members.

On Susan B. Anthony’s birthday, February 15th, Feminists for Life will launch a new campaign lasting through the end of Women’s History Month in March. Together we will celebrate our rich feminist history and reach out to educate others, encouraging them to join us in creating practical resources and support for pregnant women and parents.

Well, “practical resources and support for pregnant women and parents” sounds great and all, but if one of your sister groups has given top priority to defunding Planned Parenthood in Susan B. Anthony’s name and your Grizzly-go-tos are going to make vacuous remarks like “Hells no. I would not vote to increase that debt ceiling,” that really shows, on so many levels, how fake this call for practical resources for women is. If you want to defund planned parenthood and cut public spending on everything but the neverending war machine, then you’re not interested in helping anyone…other than the oligarchy, that is.

As I said last summer: Sarah Palin is neither the problem, nor the solution.

At the time I asked people to consider that tearing Palin down by calling her a bimbostein (etc. etc.) will do nothing to make the war on women stop.

Yes, she’s complicit in that war and as Madeleine Albright once said, there’s a place in hell reserved for that kind of thing. However, Palin is not in power. She has a megaphone she uses irresponsibly, but in a town where Barack Obama and Paul Ryan are declared to be the smartest suits amongst a sea of suits, the war on women was going to happen with or without the help of Palin, Bachmann, et al.

They’ve got less control combined than Barack Obama, who lest anyone forget signed an executive order that segregated women’s health care. It wasn’t a Speaker Palin who brought Stupak to a vote.

It was Speaker Pelosi… who Obama hung out to dry in 2010.

Women hold less than 20% of elected representation and make up 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs. At the rate we’re going, it will take 500 years for American women to achieve gender parity.

With or without Pelosi, Palin, and any other woman who sells the rest of her sisters out in politics, the rightwing rollback of women’s rights would be happening.

It is baffling watch them sell us out. Especially when they propagate garbage like the following…

From Diana Furchtgott-Roth’s How Obama’s Gender Policies Undermine America:

In other words, contrary to what feminist lobbyists would have Congress believe, girls and women are doing well. […] Policymakers should require that government contractors hire men to bring down their 10 percent unemployment rate. Health reform bills should feature Offices of Men’s Health to help men live to the same age as women. Unfortunately, the reverse is occurring. Both Congress and President Obama continue to advocate policies that favor women over men.

Dakinikat gave an apt description of Furchtgott the other day in the comments at Sky Dancing: “Schlafly as an economist.”

I’ll let a recent survey and Ms. Foundation’s Anika Rahman take care of responding to Diana Fuhgettaboutwomen’s thesis… New Poll: Economic Crisis Still Affects Majority of Americans, Impact on Women Especially Severe (via Reuters)…

The 2011 Community Voices for the Economy survey of 1,515 adults nationwide was conducted from March 15-24, 2011. It revisited key questions from a January 2010 survey.

“Last year Americans, and especially women, said they were profoundly affected by the recession,” says Anika Rahman, President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women. “This year, the impact continues virtually unabated, and in some cases is far worse, especially for low-income women and women of color. The so-called economic recovery is not reaching women or others in need — not by a long stretch.”

In a key indicator of economic security, the percentage of Americans who report living paycheck to paycheck all or most of the time was up five points over 2010 to 49 percent. But the increase among low-income women is especially staggering: 77 percent report living paycheck to paycheck, a 17-point jump from last year.

More highlights (or rather lowlights) on how women, men, and families are struggling in this economy:

* Seventy-one percent of women and 65 percent of men say the economic downturn had some or a great deal of impact on their families.
* Nearly half of Americans (46 percent) remain concerned that they or someone in their household could be out of a job in the next 12 months.
* Low-income women continue to feel the greatest impact from the downturn, with 80 percent saying it has had some or a great deal of impact compared with 73 percent of low-income men. Other groups experiencing a particularly strong impact are: Latinas (74 percent); single mothers (73 percent); and women without a college degree (74 percent).

Rahman describes the “triple blow” of the womancession:

Women are losing jobs faster than men because of drastic cuts in areas like education and health care where they make up the majority of the workforce. As the majority of state and local public-sector workers, women are affected most by attacks on public-sector unions. And women suffer most from cuts to social services because they’re more likely to be poor and care for children and the elderly.”

That’s not all the 2011 Community Voices polling uncovered. Most women and most Americans aren’t sounding like they would say “hells no” to raising the debt ceiling:

In a particularly notable finding, the survey revealed that women — and a robust majority of the American public — want the government to take a stronger role in fixing the economy and creating jobs, even if it means increasing the deficit in the short-term. In fact, a significant majority of Americans are concerned that deficit cuts will come at the expense of families and children.

Until we have equal representation in government, until we have more Anika Rahmans and Liz Warrens shaping the economic debate, until we have more women’s voices invited to the Sunday morning panels, what we need to be focusing the bulk of our energies on is not Furchtgott and her ilk. They deserve pushabck in due measure, but the war on women didn’t begin with them and it won’t end with them.

What we need to be doing to fight back the war on women is shoring up women who make good in politics — women like Kirsten Gillibrand.

From Robin Marty, via Care2.com… Gillibrand: Childcare IS a Jobs Agenda

“Childcare is part of a jobs agenda,” Gillibrand said in the live chat, hosted by the women’s political organization committed to supporting pro-choice candidates, voicing her frustration at a expense that has become a significant burden to numerous families with both parents in the workforce.

As a result of the rising cost of childcare, Gillibrand is proposing legislation that will help to reduce the ballooning cost of care. “In this difficult economy, parents cannot afford the rising cost of child care. Families’ incomes are just not keeping pace,” Senator Gillibrand said. “I speak with parents all over New York State, who tell me that something must be done. In addition to making child care more affordable for parents who work and go to school, my plan will provide special assistance to businesses that help their employees with the tremendous costs.”

Gillibrand’s proposal includes increasing the Dependent and Child Care tax credit to $6000, giving larger tax breaks to businesses that offer on site child care services, getting more workers into the child care industry and encouraging businesses to allow more telecommuting — a proposal that wouldn’t just cut the amount of money needed to be spent on childcare, but would also reduce road congestion, fuel consumption, and business expenditures for keeping employees in an office.

If the Susan B. Anthony List and Feminists for Life actually cared so much about mothers and children, they’d be working on a childcare agenda, instead of trying to police pregnancy.

The Kirsten Gillibrands are our way to play offense in this war on women. They capitalize on where the rightwing is weak–which is basically on everything since their solution to everything is no government–and they fight back by offering an actual alternative, showing how government *can* work for women, men, and families. That’s an alternative that most Americans want.

Here’s what else Gillibrand is doing–fighting for Kathy Hochul in NY-26, where Rove is spending big money trying to prevent an upset by a Demcoratic woman in a district where Dems never win. Two women fighting like…Democrats!

Go, Kathy, Go!

Kirsten Gillibrand for President!

Puts to shame this from earlier in the week, which is pretty much the byline of 44 and his male-dominated Congress:

It’s unclear for now how much resistance Democratic lawmakers will put up to the Republican proposal.

BTW, take a look at what ThinkProgress has reported on one of Kathy Hochul’s opponents. Via ThinkProgress… Jane Corwin Voted To Allow Women To Be Shackled During Childbirth.

Like Madeleine said. Place in hell. It’s reserved.

Let’s return to inspiring women in politics…Mayor Lake Lady with her first “Post Card from the Edge of Municipal Governing.”

It’s an exciting read and look from the inside of government. Give it a look if you haven’t already.


A few quick links on that other woman who’s been making good in politics for two decades now… h/t Stacy at SecyClintonBlog on the first two.

Slideshow (49 pics): Hillary wining and dining in Italy

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dines at Pierluigi restaurant in Rome with Tony Blinken and other colleagues. Hillary seems in good spirits, drinking wine and chatting with her team as they dined alfresco. The Secretary of State is in Italy to discuss Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s frozen assets and reportedly release the money to aid Libyans caught in the country’s conflict.
(May 6, 2011 – Photo by PacificCoastNews.com)

Youtube: raw footage of Hillary attracting a crowd–as she often does on her travels–this time on an unannounced visit she made to a shopping district while she was in Italy (2 minutes).

Reminded me instantly of this youtube of her from October 2009, in the streets of Dublin (1 minute)

“A woman who triggered a revolution in women’s health care”

I’ll close with this series of tribute to Barbara Seaman from On The Issues magazine:

Seaman lived in New York City near her three children and four grandchildren. “I didn’t start out to be a muckraker,” Seaman once said. “My goal was simply to try and give women plain facts that would help them to make their own decisions, so they wouldn’t have to rely on authority figures.

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Sky Dancing and Taylor Marsh]