Erica Garner-Snipes, whose unarmed father was murdered by police, released an extremely moving video endorsing Bernie Sanders on Thursday. Garner joins a long list of women who don’t fit into the stereotype of the white millenial, skinny-jeans-wearing, Brooklyn-gentrifying Bernie Babe.
The issue of female support for Bernie Sander’s has been in the headlines ever since Gloria Steinem commented on it during an appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher last Friday. When Maher asked his guest why so many women support Senator Sanders, Steinem explained, “when you’re young, you’re thinking, ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie’.”
Many responded my attacking Steinem’s statements and her approach to feminism. While a debate over intersectionalist feminism has it’s place, I do think it’s unfair to trash Steinem and throw out her invaluable contributions to feminist and progressive movements. And, as the video I made below shows, Steinem herself “felt the Bern” so much, she declared him “an honorary woman” at a campaign event in the fall of 1996.
But this isn’t about Steinem or individual surrogates or endorsements. Her turn of phrase about “where the boys are” does give us an important opportunity to explore exactly who some of the women and girls supporting Sanders actually are and why they are choosing to support him.
And here is the amazing video from Erica Garner-Snipes, about why she’s supporting Sanders.
It’s hard to watch TV, go online, or even leave the house without encountering the deceptively cherubic face of comedian and filmmaker Amy Schumer. Sketches from her Comedy Central show, Inside Amy Schumer, are viral sensations; her HBO standup special, directed by Chris Rock, will air in October. She wrote and stars in the critically-acclaimed film Trainwreck, directed by Judd Apatow, which is raking it in at the box office. On Monday night, she appeared as one of Jon Stewart’s final Daily Show guests; earlier that day, Schumer held a press conference to announce her support for a plan championed by her distant cousin, Senator Chuck Schumer, to make it harder for criminals and the mentally ill to obtain guns. This comes on the heels of the July shooting at a Louisiana movie theater during a screening of Trainwreck, in which two women were killed and nine people were injured.
Amy Schumer’s stand-up and sketches tackle issues like birth control, abortion, rape, sexism, and warped female beauty standards with humor and fearlessness, positioning her as a feminist icon. And indeed, some critics and fans have hailed Trainwreck as a clever subversion of the typical romantic comedy plot. But others complain that it reinforces the rom-com narrative more than it challenges it. Schumer has also come in for criticism over her handling of race issues, both in Trainwreck and in her sketches and stand-up.
I talked about Amy Schumer’s comedy and its presentation of gender and race with writers and performers who themselves engage with these themes in a funny and thoughtful way. Laura Swisher is a stand-up comedian who worked as a producer for Totally Biasedwith W. KamauBell and now works for The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. Gabe Pacheco is a stand-up comedian who co-hosts and co-produces Funhouse Comedy, a weekly stand-up comedy show in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and is a co-host on The Katie Halper Showon WBAI. Rae Sanni is a comedian and writer who co-hosts theIt’s About Us podcast. Samhita Mukhopadhyay is the author of Outdated: Why Dating Is Ruining Your Love Life. Kate Levin is a writer of fiction and creative non-fiction, and faculty member of the University of Southern California, whose most recent piece, for The Boston Globe, reflects on being ateenage prank call addict.
Katie Halper: Let’s start with the argument that some of Amy Schumer’s jokes are racist. What do you think of that criticism—and Schumer’s response?
Laura Swisher: There are comics whose material I loathe and find offensive, and often times it’s because their material is racist and/or sexist and utterly lacking in craft. But if a comic can make me laugh, or surprise me, I give them a lot more leeway, even if individual jokes might be offensive. I’d put Schumer in the “give her more leeway” category.
Kate Levin: The most salient thing for me when I think about Schumer and race is the response she gave after a Guardian writer called her out for having a blind spot around this subject. In response to criticism of the joke, “I used to date Hispanic guys, but now I prefer consensual,” she replied, “It is a joke and it is funny. I know that because people laugh at it…. Trust me. I am not racist.” I like Schumer—some of the stuff on her show I like a lot—but her response doesn’t hold up to the tiniest bit of scrutiny. She knows what she said wasn’t racist because… it was funny and people laughed at it? People laugh at racist jokes all the time! She knows that. (People also laugh at stuff that isn’t funny all the time, which she knows, too.) So what could land a smart person in such a swamp of illogic? Continue reading “ Comedians Debate: Is Amy Schumer’s ‘Trainwreck’ Sexist, or the New Feminism?”→
Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate is the story of “Zach Levy, the left-leaning son of Holocaust survivors who promises his mother that he’ll marry within the tribe. But when Zach falls for Cleo, an African American activist grappling with her own inherited trauma, he must reconcile the family he loves with the woman who might be his soul mate. A New York love story complicated by the legacies and modern tension of Jewish American and African American history, Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate explores what happens when the heart runs into the reality of politics, history, and the weight of family promises.”
I guess it’s utopian of me to think that today’s politicians and mainstream media would be as radical as a Batgirl from a 1970’s Department of Labor PSA. But a girl, bat or otherwise, can dream, can’t she? Either way, it’s Equal Pay Day!
In the 1970s the radical, gender-norm-challenging-binary-questioning Batgirl character came out in support of equal pay. Today, decades later, the gender pay gap stands at 78 cents to the dollar and hasn’t narrowed in the last decade. Every April, Equal Pay Day marks how far into the year the average American woman must work to make what the average man made last year.
It’s sad that many of today’s politicians and so-called journalists aren’t quite as progressive as this character from over 40 years ago.
For instance, when I search Google News for “equal pay,” the first thing that comes up is an opinion piece by Diana Furchgott-Roth, a free-market fundamentalist who rails against feminism and the environment. Her book Regulating to Disaster: How Green Jobs Policies are Damaging America’s Economy is a page-turner, I’m sure.Her op-ed, published in Market Watch is called “Feminists overreach with Equal Pay,” and it argues that “in many ways, women already are ahead, but feminists won’t acknowledge that.”
Furchgott-Roth opens her opus by writing, “April 14 is feminists’ misconceived Equal Pay Day. That’s the day of the year, they say, when all women’s wages, allegedly only 78% of all men’s, ‘catch up’ to what men have earned the year before. The fairy tale is that women have to work those extra months to get their fair share.”
Just listen to all the terrible things we feminist extremists are agitating for:
Paycheck Fairness Act would allow women to sue for unlimited compensatory and punitive damages. It would encourage class actions by requiring workers who do not want to participate to opt out, rather than opt in, a radical change from conventional law and practice. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would collect data on the race, sex and wages of workers to test for and prevent discrimination.
In other words, Furchgott-Roth argues that this law would…wait for…discourage discrimination. What could be less lady-like and more unAmerican?
She continues, “Feminists want Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, introduced in this Congress on March 25 by Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, both Democrats.” Like the best of journalists, Furchgott-Roth makes her point by using incredibly unflattering images of the two Congresswomen. Because doing your darndest to make so-called feminists look unattractive is a great way to compensate for your lack of logic or integrity.
Since we’re mentioning political parties, you may want to know that Furchgott-Roth served under George W. Bush as the chief of staff on his Council of Economic Advisers and as the chief Economist of the United States Department of Labor. Her position make sense, given that the Republicans in Congress have voted down the Paycheck Fairness Act four times since 2012!
Here is an updated Batgirl-based PSA from today’s Department of Labor, which is sadly as relevant today as it as back then. The text below the video reads, “40 years ago, Batgirl fought for equal pay for equal work, a fight that persists today. While the wage gap has closed slightly, women still earn 78% of what men earn, on average. And for women of color the gap is even wider. We can — and must — do more for #EqualPayNow.”
Here is the transcript for the original video:
Batgirl Teaches Batman a Lesson about Equal Pay
Announcer: A ticking bomb means trouble for Batman & Robin.
Robin: Holy Breaking and entering it’s Batgirl!
Batman: Quick Batgirl! Untie us before it’s too late.
Batgirl: It’s already too late. I’ve worked for you a long time and I’m paid less than Robin. Same job, same employer means equal pay for men and women.
Batman: No time for jokes Batgirl.
Batgirl: It’s no joke! It’s the Federal Equal Pay Law.
Robin: Holy Act of Congress!
Batgirl: If you’re not getting equal pay, contact the Wage & Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor.
Katie Goodman, a musical comic, actress, comedian and “menace” is also… wait for it… a Feminist! And she has something to say, and sing, about all the powerful, successful, famous women who say they’re not a feminist: “Sorry Babe, You’re a Feminist.”
Full disclosure: I’m also a Feminist and I’ve performed with Goodman and we’re friendsies. FemiFriendsies? I dunno. Anyway, I asked Goodman to share her thoughts on the song she wrote with Soren Kisiel (a fellow Feminist and Goodman’s husband) and the reaction to the video, which is going viral:
In an exclusive interview that appeared on The Rachel Maddow show on Monday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, feminist hero, and Tumblr sensation Ruth Bader Ginsburg talked to MSNBC’s Irin Carmon, sharing her thoughts on abortion, her push-up routine, and how she describes President in Obama in one word.
…what’s still with us and harder to deal with is what I call unconscious bias. And my best example is the symphony orchestra. When I was growing up, one never saw a woman in the symphony orchestra, except perhaps playing the harp. People who should have known better like The New York Times critic, Howard Taubman said, “You could put a blindfold on him and he could tell you whether it’s a woman playing the piano or a man.”
Someone had the simple idea, “Let’s drop a curtain. Let’s drop a curtain between the people who are auditioning and the people who are judging.” And almost overnight, there was a sea change. Once the curtain was dropped, the testers couldn’t tell whether it was a man – or a woman. And they made their judgments based on the quality of the performance.
Some years ago, when I was telling this story, a young violinist told me, “You left out something.” “Well, what? What did I leave out?” “You left out that we auditioned shoeless, so they won’t hear a woman’s heels behind the curtain.” That device of the dropped curtain isn’t so easy to duplicate in other areas.
On abortion access:
It’s not true that it’s [abortion] inaccessible to women of means. And that’s the crying shame. We will never see a day when women of means are not able to get a safe abortion in this country…. It hurts women who lack the means to go someplace else… all the restrictions, they operate against the woman who doesn’t have freedom to move, to go where she is able to get safely what she wants.
On how she does 20 pushups: “We do ten at a time. And then I breathe for a bit and do the second set.”
On what she hopes young women take away from her work:
I would like them to have the enthusiasm that we had in the ’70s – determining that the law should catch up to the changes that have occurred in society, changes in the way people whatever, the realization that no one should be held back, boy or girl – because of gender, artificial gender barriers. That everyone should be – in the words of a wonderful song that Ms. Magazine popularized, everyone should be free to be you and me.
On the one word that comes to mind when she hears the name President Obama: “Sympathy. That’s a French word. It means more than sympathetic. It means who cares about other people.”
Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate and current Attorney General Greg Abbott is already impressively anti-woman in his policies and statements. But now he gets to add this gem to his misogynist achievements: being bankrolled by Clayton Williams, the oil and gas tycoon who lost the governor’s race to Ann Richards and is famous for saying of rape “if it’s inevitable, relax and enjoy it.”
But, as every man who makes inappropriate and offensive statements about rape is quick to remind us, the quote was just taken out of context. Once you see the context, you’ll be totes fine with it. Back in March of 1990, Williams, the president and CEO of Clayton Williams Energy, an oil and gas company based in Texas, who everyone predicted would win the governor’s race, was getting ready for a cattle roundup at his ranch in West Texas when he harmlessly compared the bad weather to… rape. Who hasn’t done that before? And Williams felt terrible remorse right away, offering the classic “I’m sorry if anyone’s offended” line, which isn’t an apology for what you did as much as it is an expression of pity for those stupid or sensitive enough to miss out on a great comedic moment.
He even explained why he made the statement he did: context! “That’s not a Republican women’s club that we were having this morning… It’s a working cow camp, a tough world where you can get kicked in the testicles if you’re not careful.” It’s a tough world, indeed, where you can get kicked in the testicles for failing to compare inclement meteorological conditions to rape and for failing to tell women how they should just go with the rape flow. OK. So, still not remorseful. But, later on, when asked if he was worried he had offended anyone, he said, “I’m not going to give you a serious answer. It wasn’t a serious deal. It wasn’t a serious statement.” Eventually, of course, he came around, with the same sincerity of the Mormon Church on ordaining Black priests, saying, ”I feel just terrible about this. I had no intention in my heart to hurt anyone, especially those women who have been traumatized by rape.”
Well, it turns out that Williams has donated $120,000 over the past 13 months to Abbott, who is running against Democrat state Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth. And it was revealed this week that he has also donated $15,000 donation to Houston state senator and GOP lieutenant governor nominee Dan Patrick, who is running against Democratic nominee Leticia Van de Putte, a San Antonio state senator. And what do Patrick and Abbott have in common? They are both running against women and they are both terrible on women’s issues. Both oppose abortion even in cases of rape and incest. Dan Patrick voted against giving funds to test a backlog of rape kits in Texas. And Abbott pays his female employees less, on average, than his male employees. Male employees earn an average of $60,200 a year working for Abbott, while women make $44,708.
Williams is so toxic that though he raised $300,000 for then presidential nominee John McCain in 2008, the Arizona Senator canceled a fundraiser and returned the money! But in Texas, he’s A.OK!
It’s not every day that you see such a moving and consistent plea to respect the sanctity of life. But Sunday was one of those days. Because that’s when National Review “writer” Kevin Williamson stated that women who have abortions should be hanged. It all started when Williamson wrote a screed against Lena Dunham which was so catty that I’m forced to deduce that he holds her responsible for getting his show Boys, about a group of men who write for The National Review, bumped off of HBO. He both critiqued Dunham for being self-obsessed and assuming that people cared about her sex life while, at the very same time, proving her point that he does indeed obsess about her sex life.
Williamson started out his hysterical diary entry by calling Dunham “distinctly unappealing” and dismissing her recent article which is unabashedly pro-voting and pro-women’s rights (two things that Williamson can’t, apparently, stand) as “a half-assed listicle penned by a half-bright celebrity and published by a gang of abortion profiteers.”
Miss Dunham’s “all about me!” attitude toward the process of voting inevitably extends to the content of what she votes for, which is, in her telling, mostly about her sex life. Hammering down hard on the Caps Lock key, she writes: “The crazy and depressing truth is that there are people running for office right now who could actually affect your life. PARTICULARLY your sex life. PARTICULARLY if you’re a woman. Yup.”
But, like Dan Savage himself says, it gets better. What happened next was that a very logical person on twitter, @LeveyIsLaw, pointed out the contradiction between Williamson’s whole “only someone who suffers from ‘all about me’ disease would think I care at all about your sex life. P.S. I care about your sex life, like, a lot,” argument:
This is strange: “We do not wish to be involved in your sex life” and a rant against abortion in the same article?
He then asked Williamson to flesh out his moral argument against abortion, tweeting, “Do you think it’s morally acceptable to kill doctors who are about to perform abortions? Should women who have abortions get life without parole? If your answer to either question is no, you don’t think abortion is murder.”
To this, Williamson responded “I have hanging more in mind.”
Senator Ron Johnson (WI-R) challenged Senator Kristen Gillibrand’s claims of inappropriate comments and touching from her male colleagues. If I were Senator Ron Johnson, I wouldn’t go around challenging the veracity of sexual harassment allegations. Because in addition to testifying against a bill that would have made it easier for victims of child sexual assault to sue, Johnson served on the council of a Church that covered up the abuse of children. Whoops!
Let’s talk about the Gillibrand incident first. In her new book “Off The Sidelines,” Gillibrand reveals that one male colleague who ran into her in the gym ”Good thing you’re working out, because you wouldn’t want to get porky!” On other hand, another colleague said, ”You know, Kirsten, you’re even pretty when you’re fat.” And another male senator grabbed her waist and advised, “Don’t lose too much weight now. I like my girls chubby.” #MixedMessages
On Tuesday, Ron Johnson went on NewsmaxTV’s “The Steve Malzberg Show,” and said of the Gillibrand claim, “First of all, it was not me.” OK… The Senator doth protest too much, methinks, but anyway. He went on to say, ”Quite frankly, I’ve never seen that kind of behavior in the United States Senate. “ How odd that he wouldn’t be privy to every one-on-one conversations out of his earshot and vision? And surely, he would have been at the receiving end of comments about weight and boy and appearances if they were being made. But not only did Johnson doubt Gillibrand, he criticized her not naming names and not sensationalizing and personalizing an important discussion about a systemic problem: “If you’re going to throw out accusations, my guess is you probably ought to name names… If you’re going to throw out those kinds of accusations, you ought to give people a chance to defend themselves.”
OK. Now, let’s go back to 2010 and review footage of Ron Johnson opposing The Wisconsin Child Victims Act. The 2010 bi-partisan bill would have done what several other states have already done: eliminated the civil statute of limitations in sex assault and rape cases involving children. In Wisconsin, people are barred from suing over child sexual abuse or rape after the age of 35, a totally arbitrary cut-off that makes it harder for victims to see justice and hold abusers accountable. Controversial? Sadly, to Johnson it was. Continue reading “Senator who doubts female senator was sexually harassed linked to Church sex abuse coverup”→
There’s only one New York gubernatorial candidate who is progressive and a feminist. And that’s Zephyr Teachout. The National Organization for Women’s New York chapter has the common sense and the spine to actually back her, while other organizations sell out and make deals behind closed doors with current governor Andrew Cuomo.
Yesterday, on Women’s Equality Day, Zenaida Mendez, the president of the New York State Chapter of NOW (National Organization for Women) stood in front of a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt andendorsed Zephyr Teachout. Mendez said,
Today, I am proud to be standing next to a dynamic woman with an inspiring, compelling vision, who promised to shake up Albany by including diverse voices, by including all those New Yorkers, who deserve better–a better economic life, a better system, a better paying job, affordable child care, affordable housing, affordable health care for all–a woman who has a holistic view of our state and how we should govern. The National Organization of Women is proud to be part of this historic effort to elect the first woman governor of this state.
Teachout responded by saying, “I’m so proud to stand here today with NOW and President Mendez of the New York State chapter. I’m a life-long feminist.” And Teachout does, indeed support ”sick days and paid family leave insurance, so that no parent has to choose between paying the bills and nursing a sick child.” Continue Reading about Teachout