Is feminism dead? Did we win?

Somehow I’m always trailing behind a bit. Yesterday was the International Women’s Day and I didn’t do a single feminist thing all day. Generally, feminism is not a popular subject, as my friend Nanna (Danish) so rightly pointed out to me recently. When writing today on Facebook about doing nothing feminist I got a reply from a (male) friend which completely sums it up; he wrote: Feminism is dead. You won. This is the opinion of most modern men. Some of them have the experience close to home of a wife, who earns more and “runs the show”, others – most – just cite the high-powered women they know and emphasise how they both cook, empty the dishwasher and pick up the kids from school. Or whatever. But this is completely beside the point.

  • Women are still trailing behind men when it comes to same pay for same job
  • Women still do the bulk of the house work in 90% of all Western households and 100% of all non-Western households – yeah yeah, guestimates, but not wildly off the mark.
  • Men are still the majority everywhere important decisions are made.
  • It’s still women who tend to the huge majority of their children’s needs, 50 p for cake day, packed lunch with love, school clothes clean, ironed, ready for next day, swimming kit ready on a Tuesday, pictures printed for showing “My Holiday” at school. Etc. etc.
  • Women in the so-called Third World are most often treated like dirt. How much is this on the agenda, when the high-powered are discussing foreign policies?
  • Young women see a distorted picture of themselves in the media.
  • Young men get a sick introduction to sex, if that introduction comes from porn (which it depressingly often does).
  • Women in power very often have to endure endless comments on their appearance, before they even open their mouths.
  • And so on and so forth.

So don’t give me that cr… about women having won. Clearly some women have come out on top, but what about the unseen bulk of the iceberg? I’m not complaining about my personal life, most of my woes are self-inflicted and I’m determined to put the rest right too.

Today I read a blogpost from a Canadian writer/feminist, who uses Gladwell’s Outliers to make her point. I agree with her, that Gladwell’s book suffers from being only about men. But the important issue here is that a whole new group of Western women now have a unique opportunity to actually get somewhere if they work really hard (Gladwell’s 10,000 hours). The Internet offers us that opportunity, because we can do this at home, in between the myriad of tasks that many of us perform each day. Read the post. Her previous post also refers to Outliers, but from a different perspective. If you have a child, who’s youngest in class, read it. She mentions a few female outliers, but I’d like to mention one more: Carla Fiorina. When, to say the least, I disagree with her political views (she endorsed McCain – imagine what went through Fiorina’s head when he nominated Palin!!??), I do admire her. Do you remember her downfall? I remember wondering why so many male commentators felt the need to gloat so much? She has just undergone surgery for breast cancer. Fingers crossed.

I recently read this lovely book review. The book in question is Backwards in High Heels and, clearly, according to the reviewer, India Knight, whom I admire greatly, is nothing like the notions you get in your head when you see the title. I have it on my Amazon Wishlist and I WILL buy it, I just don’t have time to read it right now. You should see the look on my husband’s face when another packet arrives from Amazon. And he is right – I just have to attack the stacks at hand, before I start adding more to them!

But consider this quote from the review:

It’s one of those rare beasts that you want to earmark, scribble in and rush out and buy for all your girlfriends. It contains within its pages everything an intelligent woman might want to know about the nuances of every conceivable topic: big subjects, such as love, motherhood, feminism, politics, grief, ageing, as well as what stupid people often patronisingly refer to as the “shallower” stuff. Except, in this book, as in most women’s heads (to say nothing of their lives), the demarcation between the deep and the shallow is so slight as to be barely noticeable. This is a brilliant feat of realism that hasn’t been managed convincingly in print before: with this kind of how-to guide, the choice until now was either froufrou delight or slash-your-wrists gloomfest.

Isn’t this exactly the kind of book you want to read? I often wonder why it’s supposed to be so totally contradictory to read both the business- and finance pages AND the Culture- and Background pages of the paper, read serious fiction, be good at computer stuff AND take an interest in one’s appearance, read cook books, bake cupcakes? Nobody seem to think it’s strange when male top executives spend their weekends playing golf or watching football? Read a hilariously funny but yet acutely precise excerpt from the book here.

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A president's legacy

In the latest issue of The New Yorker, Pullitzer-prize winner Steve Coll has an extremely insightful article about what defines a great president. Particularly after the fact. Oh yes, the ability to keep your cool in a squeeze is important, but long-lasting reforms are what really make a president’s legacy great.

On this important day, why don’t you read this article while waiting for the results to tick in tonight?

Here’s an appetiser:

The accumulating failures in the country’s health-care system are a cause of profound weakness in the American economy; unaddressed, this weakness will exacerbate the coming recession and crimp its aftermath. A large number of the country’s housing foreclosures in recent years appear to be related to medical problems and health-care expenses. American businesses often can’t afford to hire as many employees as they would like because of rising health-insurance costs; employees often can’t afford to quit to chase their better-mousetrap dreams because they can’t risk going without coverage. Add to this the system’s moral failings: about twenty-two thousand people die in this country annually because they lack health insurance. That is more than the number of Americans who are murdered in a year.

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Here's another couple of reasons why you should vote for Mr. Obama if you're an American

Christopher Hitchens with whom I agree on very little, but who’s intelligence I most certainly admire, has this column on Slate. The below quote is his finishing lines. Before that he argues very convincingly – read it yourself!

This is what the Republican Party has done to us this year: It has placed within reach of the Oval Office a woman who is a religious fanatic and a proud, boastful ignoramus. Those who despise science and learning are not anti-elitist. They are morally and intellectually slothful people who are secretly envious of the educated and the cultured. And those who prate of spiritual warfare and demons are not just “people of faith” but theocratic bullies. On Nov. 4, anyone who cares for the Constitution has a clear duty to repudiate this wickedness and stupidity.

I received a message on Facebook from my old friend Lone Skovgaard about the power of being FOR something rather than being AGAINST something else. It is a very relevant point. So let it be noted that I’m

  • FOR a raised standing for America in the world √
  • FOR less aggressive meddling in other countries’ affairs √
  • FOR every American’s right to basic medical treatment √
  • FOR a tightened access to weapons in the US √
  • FOR intelligence and compassion in the White House √
  • etc…
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It would be funny, if…

The Times yesterday (paper, not online) had a run-down of some of the Sarah Palin videos on the web. There’s the Saturday Night Live version of the VP debate. The “maverick-ing” is to die for.

Then there’s a “trailer” for the film “Don’t cry for me Alaska”. Actually, I don’t find it that funny, but judge for yourself. I think this one about John McCain’s age is better.

On Huffington Post (a liberal online news site) there’s a clip from a talkshow with Alec Baldwin. I really don’t like Alec Baldwin as an actor – I think he seriously lacks talent. But as an impersonator he does pretty well. See him wink and charm as Sarah Palin here. And if you didn’t see the debate and have doubts whether she’d really do that, look here. I saw the debate myself – she really did wink more than once. And for good measure you also get one of her many mavericks here.

Ever wonder about what a Maverick really is? Here’s the answer from m-w.com:

Samuel A. Maverick † 1870 American pioneer who did not brand his calves

1. an unbranded range animal ; especially : a motherless calf

2. an independent individual who does not go along with a group or party

Several of these links are called something with tinyurl.com. Ever wondered what that is? Well, it’s a kind of shortcut you can use, when you want to direct people to a website with a very long URL. Anybody can use it. See Wikipedia’s explanation here.

Here’s Obama’s latest TV ads. And here’s McCain’s. If you watch the “Dangerous” ad on McCain’s site, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that the quote is somewhat out of context. Here’s from Huffington Post:

The issue stems from a remark the Illinois Democrat made in August 2007, in Nashua, New Hampshire. Speaking to supporters, the Senator called for an increase of U.S. troops in that war zone because, without the influx, operations were being limited to air raids that resulted in many preventable civilian deaths.

“Now you have narco drug lords who are helping to finance the Taliban,” Obama said, “so we’ve got to get the job done there [in Afghanistan], and that requires us to have enough troops that we are not just air raiding villages, and killing civilians, which is causing enormous problems there.”

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24 hours

Sarah Palin is meeting how many? foreign leaders in 24 hours? I forget. And I suspect she will too. Very quickly.

How is it possible in a democracy to keep a candidate to such an important job away from the press? I do believe everybody would find it quite OK, if she doesn’t know the name of the president of Belgium or whatever. But in one of two interviews (one on one) she’s given, she didn’t know what the Bush Doctrine is? And I remember that her “boss” McCain named the German chancellor Vladimir Putin… How can the Americans choose to vote for her, when they haven’t even heard her answer some of the questions, which must surely be on their minds?

Anyway, I don’t really have time to elaborate and I’m sure you’d rather I didn’t, so here are links to more qualified deliberations elsewhere: Washington PostInternational Herald Tribune, The Times.

I’ve read a lot about the bailing out of banks and other financial institutions lately. It is very difficult to form an opinion! But I think I’m getting there and tomorrow I’ll let you in on my thoughts!

But now I’m off to the movies with a group of other women (neighbours) to see – The Women. It’s got horrible reviews and it looks more than a little silly. But I’m sure we’ll have a good laugh.

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Double standards

I was recently enlightened on a new blog on The Times’ page. It’s called Alpha Mummy and it’s full of good stuff. Some pretty clever writers who do a lot of reading, off line and online.

Here’s on the double standards women political candidates are subjected to. It’s the Tonight Show again. I’m afraid I find him very, very funny. He must have some fantastic researches to always find just that clipping that gives his current victim away. And the fact that he always lets them give themselves away. He just sits there, leering…

Here’s an entirely different post about influential and infamous women from ancient times till now. If I tell you that both Lucrezia Borgia and Carla Bruni are mentioned, will you click through?

And here’s an article written by an American Republican woman in The Times, which more or less answers the question I asked a couple of days ago. What are the not-so-religious etc. Republicans going to vote now? The sad answer probably is: They are not. Since they can’t bring themselves to vote for Mr. Obama, they’ll just stay home and do nothing. And if McCain/Palin win, they can sit on their high horses and say that they didn’t vote for them. No, but they didn’t vote against them either.

On the day – may it never come – when Mrs. Palin is president of the United States and wreaks havoc of all the remaining things we love about America, what will these people say in their defense?

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AA Gill on Ms. Palin

The Sunday Times is unbeatable. There is no better Sunday paper – at least not of all the English, Swedish and Danish language newspapers I’ve tried over the years. It’s conservative, it’s snobbish, it’s eh, for want of better word, British… But it’s wonderful! We timed it today – a very lazy day indeed. We’ve been reading for six hours! On a daily basis I prefer the Independent and sometimes the Guardian. But not on a Sunday.

One of the great things about it is one of it’s most high-profile writers, AA Gill. He writes in a style all of his own in an English so flamboyant, so flowery, so vibrant, so vitriolic! And on Wikipedia I just read that the man is so dyslectic that he literally can’t write, he dictates all of his articles and books to a copywriter. He does features, travel writing and restaurant reviews. I found an interview with him on the American food-buff site Chow. I certainly don’t agree with him on everything, but I like to have my views challenged (occasionally…).

Picture borrowed from Clive Arrowsmith

Today he writes on the subject on – yes again – the American election. The article is hilariously funny – at least if you’re no great fan of McCain & Palin. About Minnesota, where the GOP convention is held:

This is where the Swedes and Norwegians came to try to whittle Scandinavia out of the hem of Canada. Back home they grew to be the most liberal nations in the world. Here they grew silent and maudlin. There’s a Minnesotan joke – only the one. It goes like this: there was an old Norwegian man who loved his wife so much he almost told her. That was so funny I almost laughed.”

About the choice of Palin:

“Depending on how fundamentally hard right you are, Palin is either a godsend who speaks to the experience of ordinary small-town large-breasted American women and sticks two fingers in the eyes of the coastal latte liberals. Or she’s a hideously embarrassing mistake that will swamp the election in underclass redneck sexual incontinence and that everything is about damage limitation and trying not to think about what would happen if president McCain died and this was the first family. Not so much from igloo to White House as igloo to White Trailer.”

Isn’t he wonderfully vicious? (The article, Redneck Regina, is not yet available online, but I suspect that it will be made available in a few days time.)

Anyway, we discussed this at length at a dinner party last night. Most people around the table had friends, business relations or family or all three in America and several of them known Republicans. But none of them from the religious right. How are they going to vote??? McCain is 72 and looks even older, his health isn’t that good, he’s had several so-called cancer scares and has the five years in Hanoi Hilton in his baggage. And the job as president is rather demanding, isn’t it? You can’t really take a day off? So, this woman will only be the famous heartbeat away from the presidency. Are the not-so-religious, pro-choice, non-members of the NRA, polar bear-friendly Republicans just going to cross their fingers, close their eyes and vote for McCain anyway? Or what?

I’ve got friends and family of the Republican persuasion. And I know some of them occasionally read my blog. If you do, then please enlighten us Europeans on your thoughts upon the matter. We really want to hear!

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He might be old, but he looks even older…

Here’s a commercial from the Obama camp, which might do the trick. Isn’t it great that Mr. McCain has actually been filmed while bragging about voting 90% of the time with Mr. Bush (or W. as the American media love to call him)! Ezra Klein had it.

That American politics really are different from politics anywhere else is no news. Here’s an article from Politico about “the Jewish Problem” (not that Jewish problem, the Republicans’ Jewish problem). And why is that interesting? Well, it’s interesting because it – from one corner of this huge arena of stuff that’s not politics – shows why real politics are so relatively unimportant in the US presidential elections.

Ezra Klein is at the Republican Convention (also called the GOP convention, GOP being short for Grand Old Party!!!) and reports from all the speeches. He tells us that the theme of Mr. McCain having spent five years in the Hanoi Hilton isn’t exactly being played down. And that several of the speakers seem to think that having endured torture will make Mr. McCain a better leader. And he quotes this freezing comment from one of his readers:

So torture builds character that leads to leadership.

I can only imagine the sign above Gitmo:

“Welcome future world leaders”

Ezra Klein also points to the front page of US Weekly.

I almost begin to feel sorry for the woman!

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Boing Boing

I’ve had this Internet directory on my roll for quite some time, but it’s not really until today that I’ve found anything other than curiosities on it. When I looked through it today though, there seemed to be a lot more substantial stuff or maybe I just haven’t paid close enough attention earlier.

This post is about the tendency we all have to embellish a good story AND about how willing we are to believe what we see/read/hear if it “sounds right” or suits our own beliefs. I wonder if that has become worse with the Internet or if it’s always been like that. Think of H. G. Wells and The War of the Worlds.

Here’s about the suspicious and hostile treatment you get in the US immigration – in this case in JFK. On our journey we experienced unpleasantness many times, but luckily nothing like this. We joked about the fact that the only nice immigration officer we met, while in the US, was in fact Canadian…

And here’s a story – or rather a video – that puts what I wrote above into perspective. Should one really believe that this can happen to anyone – ANYONE – in London, here in wonderful, democratic UK????? It sure looks very authentic, but I just don’t want to believe that this could happen to me next time I venture up to London!

The next one is little more than a curiosity, but since it’s about John McCain, I will not hesitate to bring it to you: Here’s the quote from McCain’s own website:

It may be typical of the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd to disparage a fellow countryman’s memory of war from the comfort of mom’s basement, but most Americans have the humility and gratitude to respect and learn from the memories of men who suffered on behalf of others.

Although it’s not written by McCain himself (how could it be, he’s just learning to surf the Internet as we speak), it’s still ON his website. A Dungeons & Dragons fan promptly had this t-shirt designed:

The guy who designed it has several cool t-shirts to offer actually. Check this for a cool motif:

Now, where was I? Oh yes, politics, that’s right. There’s also a couple of pointers to stories about people arrested at the Beijing games for drawing attention to Tibet. Brave and admirable people, they are!

And now to something completely different. This is a Danish blogger I’ve been following for years. She has just recently posted one of the most exquisite photo series I think I’ve ever seen on a blog and I really must share it with you! It’s called Laundry. Here’s just one photo from the series:

Thank you, Lisa!

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7 pencils made of paper…

Dane and I have developed a taste for Origami. The pencils to the left are folded by Dane. Soon I’ll make a brag-post with pictures of our best creations. My most refined to date was a Triceratops (that’s a dinosaur) which I made earlier this evening. Dane’s comment: “Oh Mummy, that’s SO COOL!” A reward in it’s own… Inspiration and instruction courtesy of The Natural History Museum where we spent most of the day with good friends visiting from Denmark.

The rest of this post is devoted to all the nice places on the web you never knew you were missing…

On Slate there’s a quick’n’dirty guide to testing various search engines, obviously prompted by the emergence of the self-proclaimed Google-competitor Cuil (pronounced COOL). It’s quite good and it’s more quick than it’s dirty, if you get my drift. Still, it’s good to bear in mind that if you often search within a specialty realm, it’s a good idea to make your trial searches with well known items within that realm.

Another way to waste some time online is to check if your use of the Internet is gender specific or not. Take the test here, it takes only a few seconds. Apparently I’m 64% male… and that’s without ever having visited a sports page in my online existence. The pointer came from Marginal Revolution – as usual.

Here’s an interesting article about US presidential candidate John McCain. I’m not a taker, so I needn’t be convinced. But reading an article like this, where the author clearly likes McCain and takes him serious as a candidate, is much more interesting than reading hundreds of articles that just make fun of McCain. He’s not to be made fun of, really. He’s one of two contestants for the world’s most influential job – and almost half of all American voters are looking his way at the moment. The article focuses on McCain’s Internet illiteracy. Apparently, he needs an aid to log on to a news site or a blog for him and the man has never sent an e-mail. I don’t believe that has anything – or much at least – to do with age. I know quite a few people of his age or near it who are very proficient on the web. It has to do with a kind of arrogance and stubborn defiance that is far more troubling than age! But read the article for yourself, it appears in the Washingtonian, the local website for all things Washington D.C. Pointer from Ezra Klein.

Tomorrow we head south for the first part of our holiday here in Great Britain.

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A “dunk in the water”

The above is a quote from Donald Rumsfeld. And no, he wasn’t talking about his latest holiday by the sea or one of his grandchildren falling into the pool.

He was referring to waterboarding. If you don’t know what that is, it’s an “interrogation technique” which the top of the American administration has allowed to be used in Guantanamo and in Iraq and Afghanistan. Get a definition on Waterboarding.org or on Wikipedia.

Picture from Waterboarding.org

The top guys in Washington did their very best to cover their tracks and make it look like the ideas for waterboarding and a number of other “interrogation techniques” came from the bottom: the soldiers and officers stationed at Guantanamo and in Iraq and Afghanistan. But luckily there are people out there, some of which are even journalists, who have been digging through heaps and heaps of documents and uncovered the paper trail, which points directly to Rumsfeld and Bush.

An army of lawyers have been deployed to “legalize” these interrogation methods, which are most certainly not allowed in the Geneva Convention. Or in the American constitution…

Two lawyers at the Justice Department’s office of Legal Council came up with this brand new definition of torture: Physical torture occurs only when the pain is

equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death

and that mental torture requires

suffering not just at the moment of infliction but… lasting psychological harm.

These quotes are from a memo written by the two lawyers Jay Bybee (now a federal judge) and John Yoo (now teaches law at Berkeley!!!!!!!). The quotes are from an article in Vanity Fair by British law professor Philippe Sands. It’s a very long article (8 pages), but well worth reading.

A shorter article, to some extent based on the findings by Philippe Sands, is on today’s BBC Online.

Presidential hopeful John McCain, who consistently claims to be against torture (he himself has been a prisoner of war) voted against a bill proposed to the senate about banning waterboarding and other kinds of torture. Article in New York Times.

Democratic senator and presidential hopeful Barack Obama (or Barack HUSSEIN Obama as all the right wing newsletters and blogs scrupulously write) made this statement last year about torture:

The secret authorization of brutal interrogations is an outrageous betrayal of our core values, and a grave danger to our security. We must do whatever it takes to track down and capture or kill terrorists, but torture is not a part of the answer – it is a fundamental part of the problem with this administration’s approach. Torture is how you create enemies, not how you defeat them. Torture is how you get bad information, not good intelligence. Torture is how you set back America’s standing in the world, not how you strengthen it. It’s time to tell the world that America rejects torture without exception or equivocation. It’s time to stop telling the American people one thing in public while doing something else in the shadows. No more secret authorization of methods like simulated drowning. When I am president America will once again be the country that stands up to these deplorable tactics. When I am president we won’t work in secret to avoid honoring our laws and Constitution, we will be straight with the American people and true to our values.

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