Like a scene from the director's cut of some lost George Romero zombie flick, the anti-feminists stumble forward in this dawn of the dead pre-political season, lurching incompetently and semi-blindly for victims, and reminding Americans that an endemic hatred of powerful women lies just below the surface when the full moon blooms. Only a head shot will kill them.
The bitter harvest of the incompetent Duke lacrosse sexual assault prosecution - tied so closely as it was to national fault lines of race, gender and wealth - is sucked into the thresher of public opinion, tossing out the seeds of enduring misogynist lore. Women lie about rape. They use it was a weapon against men.
I've always believed that one of the worst legacies of the disastrous Tawana Brawley episode in New York was the cover it provided for gender discrimination. Race got the headlines, as it did in Duke; but the collapse of a prominent rape case, its notorious revelation as a hoax, throws up a screen to the endemic violence against women, regardless of race of social status.
Thus, when noted blogger feminist Amanda Marcotte was dinged for her admittedly knee-jerk reaction to reports about the Duke case, the online gotcha moment in the last day or so (she was hired by the Edwards campaign to lead its blogging efforts, and so became an instant target) immediately led within nanoseconds to hate speech on the right-wing RedState blog:
R.E. Finch: "I guess calling her 'Blogmistress' is out?"
Kyle8: "How about man-destroying, dyky, leftoid, blogbitch-Empress?"
Yes gentlemen, cover your genitals. And beware the feminine. Rush's feminazis. It's tempting to read too much into the sniveling, mindless effluvium on the right-wing blogs, until you tune into Chris Matthews or read Maureen Dowd - and see the panic-sweat glistening from their pores at the thought of a Commander-in-Chief without the standard set of wedding tackle.
Matthews was in full anti-Hillary mode this week on Hardball, every question suggesting that her disastrous support for the Iraq War resolution was somehow purely calculated with a political formula, and removed entirely from any true belief - as if Hillary alone from the other 99 Senators employs a political algorithm in creating her voting record. Matthews (fresh from a stint as a Miss America judge) seemed genuinely angry at the candidate, as Charles Pierce remarked: "the very thought of an HRC candidacy seems to have driven Chris Matthews into some serious brain-fever."
And Dowd, well, there she goes again - the only op-ed writer for The New York Times has a big-time grudge against the even-odds first woman President of These United States. Note the loaded language of gender from her Wednesday anti-Hillary screed:
Through all the years of sitting behind Bill Clinton on his trip to the stars, Hillary fidgeted and elbowed, trying to be co-captain rather than just wingman, or worse, winglady.
She didn’t have to feign interest in East Wing piffle — table settings and pastry chefs and designer gowns.
She showed off a long parade of unflattering outfits and unnervingly changing hairdos.
In Iowa, her national anthem may have been off-key, but her look wasn’t. It was an attractive mirror of her political message: man-tailored with a dash of pink femininity.
Now she feels she can’t simply say she made a bad decision. And that makes her seem conniving — not a good mix with nurturing.
The Iraq War and Senator Clinton are a fair combination for political comment and criticism on the op-ed page of the nation's leading newspaper; Senator Clinton and her gender are not. Dowd's obsession with Clinton's femininity - now she has it, now she doesn't - and her use of loaded terms like "conniving" (quick, what noun does that so often modify) are pathetic, and entirely unworthy of a publication that considers itself the paper of record.
Fear of feminism, of "radical" women who demand equality in the workplace, has long been one of the strongest pillars of mainstream American conservatism.
A post-election article in FreeRepublic - the go-to site for activist conservatives - is a neat illustration of the right's views of women. Under the headline "Feminist Infiltration into the Conservative Ranks?" the site takes issue with a November article in the usually-reliable Washington Times, which reported that “A 2005 U.N. Population Fund report found that 70% of married women in India were victims of beatings or rape.” Said the writer:
Maybe it’s time to assess whether the feminist ideology has been allowed to invidiously dilute the conservative message.
In other words, the conservative newspaper was being disloyal to the conservative movement by reporting on the rate of sexual crimes against women in India. The post further noted:
Let’s be perfectly plain about it: Feminism is the antithesis of everything conservatism stands for. Thankfully, some in the conservative ranks have bravely spoken out against the rad-fem jihad, including Phyllis Schlafly, Ann Coulter, Laura Schlessinger, Catherine Seipp, Kathryn Jean Lopez, and Myrna Blyth.
Yes, thankfully. It was Coulter, after all, who said of the accuser in the Duke case: "Not a trace of DNA from any of the lacrosse players was found on the accuser, though this girl had more DNA in her than a refrigerator at a fertility clinic."
The right will always attack feminists, and nothing is more threatening to their leadership than an actual woman in charge. So feminism is now Stalinist, unyielding, and worst of all, manly. As Pat Robertson famously said during the 1992 presidential campaign, "Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."
Beyond pure conservatism, there's a threat to female power, especially among the crowd that sucks its power from being part of the Beltway social scene, its machinery of cogs and cocktail party. The likes of Maureen Dowd feel the threat.
But let's leave this with a little levity, courtesy of the late, great Molly Ivins who always, as someone said, put a little jalapeno in every column:
I used to go on college campuses 25 years ago and announce I was a feminist, and people thought it meant I believed in free love and was available for a quick hop in the sack. ... Now I go on college campuses and say I'm a feminist, and half of them think it means I'm a lesbian. How'd we get from there to here without passing 'Go'?
UPDATE: I've been called a "Mad Mandy supporter." Okay! A typical quote from this board: "...these mad women seem to believe that every sexual encounter, where the man is not actively tied to the bed, is rape!" Nice. Funnily enough, over at right-wing blogger Riehl World View, it took less than a day for regulars there to call Amanda Marcotte the same c-word that my ole buddy T-Rex once called me - right here. I wonder if it's now been "reclaimed" by the right, too? And the woman-hating Pajamas Media blogger Dan Collins calls Marcotte a "delusional bitch." See the language pattern here, folks?
UPDATE II: Jim Wolcott roundhouses into MoDo and Matthews, first on the Times: "...the deplorable thing is that the MoDo style has permeated the Times, whose critics flaunt a brittle knowingess that weds the worst of Access Hollywood and Gawker into the print equivalent to a Carrie Bradshaw voiceover." And his transcript quote (priceless) on Matthews and his positive Stepford spin is preceeded by this:
I know it's rough on Chris and MoDo and Mike Barnicle and Imus and the rest, but the sad truth is that we're not going back to the prefeminist suburban paradiso when Daddy was the sole breadwinner and Julie London made sultry music on the hi-fi and a pot roast was forever being warmed in the oven by a wife waiting all day for her Galahad to pull into the driveway--what Matthews half-jestingly considers the good old days.