More About Grizzlies

By , 3 November, 2010, 15 Comments

I’ve got a post about GOP women up at Forbes right now: basically, I took a look at how GOP candidates fared with women voters. And interestingly, in this so-called year of the GOP woman, it was GOP men who got the women’s vote, while GOP women were successful with a more traditional Republican base of white men. I’m not sure why that is, but I’m inviting theories from you, so please, go read the data and comment.

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15 Responses {+}
  • shazia

    the men are targeted to appeal to women voters and the women are targeted to appeal to men voters. not enough voters think through the issues; so its just sex appeal. have u ever noticed that the pharmaceuticals send women as sales agents to male doctors and men sales agents to female doctors

  • Maha Rafi Atal

    There was a piece in one of the newspapers in spring 2008 arguing as much about Obama/young women.

    But seriously, in this case, GOP men carried both male AND female voters. GOP women carried only male voters.

  • Lyle

    I’m uncomfortable with your use of the term “progress”. You said you don’t know if all of this “Mama Grizzly” (what a nonsense word that describes nothing) movement is “progress”. What is “progress” and why is it important to achieve?

    What do I think is progress? Large numbers of men voting for women to lead their states. Who cares if they aren’t flag waving members of NOW.

    I also think the two minority GOP women governor-elects don’t fall under the “Mama Grizzly” label. Perhaps they do, but I don’t get a “Mama Grizzly” vibe from either of Nikki Haley (New South Southern belle) or Susana Martinez (from working class origins to Las Cruces, NM DA). They’re just political women who just so happen to be GOP.

  • Maha Rafi Atal

    Lyle, I think you have a valid point about the vagueness of the word ‘progress.’ What I meant by it was ‘furthering women’s empowerment.’ I don’t think that men voting for women is empowering IF the reason for the vote is grounded in attractiveness rather than ideas and policy. And there is a sense with some of the Grizzlies that that’s what’s happening.

    As for the term Grizzly and how to apply it, I didn’t make it up. It applies quite specifically to any female candidates who happen to have received money or endorsements from Sarah Palin. That’s how her political action committee–who coined the term–defines it. Nikki Haley is, according to Sarah, one of the poster children for the movement.

  • Lyle

    “Empowering”… hmm, that’s another vague word. 🙂

    But okay… it’s not a good thing to vote for women based on their “attractiveness”. Got it, but you said it was about setting these women up to give off the protective motherly appeal. Is the protective motherly appeal really an attractiveness issue? What man finds their mother “attractive”?

    I think it is more of a modern replay of the Elizabethan “I’m a Virgin” movement… you are my people and my heart/reign only belongs to you.

    Feminists aren’t really in to the “I’m a Virgin” type of leadership. They can’t help themselves tell men how much they suck. Not a good message to male voters. Tell them you’re their Virgin… and they’ll support you though.

    And the fact that they’re more Elizabeths running around these days is progress and possibly empowering if you ask me.

  • Maha Rafi Atal

    Lyle:

    1. There are other forms of attractiveness besides the sexual and the ‘she’s a mom’ vibe is one form. I find that kind of attractiveness degrading.

    2. Feminists are not a monolith:

    2a. Not all feminists are women (which your description that feminists think men suck implies). Nicholas Kristof is quite possibly the most interesting feminist writer out there. JS Mill was quite possibly the most interesting feminist writer of his generation.

    2b. Feminists are usually divided about figures who achieved power or success by leveraging the structures or memes of patriarchy. I am of the opinion personally that that approach is something that we should be critical or at least skeptical of. That is not a uniform ‘feminist’ view; it’s my personal view, as is most anything I blog.

    2c. Queen Elizabeth is not considered an example of the phenomenon described above, though. The essence of her regime was heavily militarist, and brutal in its treatment of dissenters at home. She didn’t aim to seem maternal; she didn’t marry to seem more ‘masculine.’ Cartoons (woodcuts, actually) from the time reveal that that’s also how she was understood. The maternal thing is something that Hollywood added to her story much later. The better example for the approach you are talking about is Victoria, whose reign was very much about projecting motherhood, and who has been a very divisive figure in feminist history for a century as a result.

  • Lyle

    I’m aware feminists are not a monolith. I’m a feminist as well. 🙂

    What you say about Queen Elizabeth is accurate, but she did use her sexuality to advantage, and did promote her Chasity. You have to agree though that Elizabeth’s militarism and high Renaissance political violence is a bit akin to Sarah Palin going out to hunt Moose, going to the gun store, or lambasting radical Muslims, yes? My broad and very general point is that women appeal to men in their own ways, as men appeal to women in their own ways. Politics is always something more than just policy. And that women and men both play to their strengths, well… it is what it is.

    If Victoria is a better example… so be it (she is closer to our time of course… modernity). The point is… women keeping breaking in to the upper echelon of government in the United States. Men except woman leaders now. Yay!!! And they’re doing it in places where supposedly women are held in contempt by racist, sexist white men… like in the South.

    I mean California has never had a woman governor before… yet Texas, Louisiana, and now South Carolina have. Both Texas’ and Louisiana’s woman governors were even aged women. Katheleen Blanco didn’t even get into politics until her kids had finished high school. She was 62 when sworn in. Ann Richards of Texas was 58.

    That’s a good thing, yes?

  • Maha Rafi Atal

    Perhaps there’s some merger of Elizabethan masculinity and Victorian motherhood in what Palin is trying to promote with the Grizzly theme?

    Your answer to that (“Sure, it’s somewhat personality based, but all politics is”) is one a lot of people make. It’s not an invalid opinion. But it’s one I disagree with.

    Whether we’re talking about women or men, I have a really high degree of intolerance for the politics of personality. It is one of my major misgivings re: Obama, for example, how much of his appeal as a candidate was about him personally and symbolically and not about a policy platform. I realize that this makes me an atypical political observer, but there you have it.

    I manage sometimes to tolerate the politics of symbolism when I at least feel that there is a link between the symbol the politician wants to evoke and the policy platform they advance.

    My beef with these women is that they are symbolically calling up this idea of the militarist mother as a form of empowerment [Palin has called herself a feminist], but when you ask them to identify specific policies in their agenda that will empower women–and I DID ask them this when I was reporting the piece–they will tell you that that’s not the point.

  • Lyle

    Accept not except.. forgive my poor spelling and grammar. Wish there was an edit thingy. You can put me on the rack if you want to.

  • Lyle

    Now we’re getting somewhere with the historical analogies. Good stuff. Mama Grizzly seems to now fit nicely with Victorian and Elizabethan. Interesting.

    I wouldn’t say I’m intolerant of the politics of the personality… it is just there. You cannot not accept it. Do I like it? No, not very much. Hero or mother worship is not my thing either, but it can get people power if used… so they use it.

    You seem to also have a narrow definition of what feminism means. You seem to think because Palin and others don’t give you the policies points you want to hear… they aren’t feminists by your own definition. Is that right?

    What is your definition? Why does it seem revolve around the “empowerment” of women?

  • Maha Rafi Atal

    Now we ARE getting somewhere. How refreshing–productive internet exchange!

    My definition of feminism is: the belief that women and men are equal morally, and ought to be so socially, politically, and economically. My definition of a feminist politician is someone who aims to advance that comprehensive equality.

    To be sure, there are diverse ways to argue for that. The liberal American feminist–someone like myself–pushes for more empowerment in the workplace and more sharing of responsibilities at home to make the work-life balance easier.

    But in my travels internationally, I’ve also spoken to conservatives who argue that women can be equal but in different spheres from men, who frown on working mothers, but make a great deal of effort to revise things like the tax system or property law or divorce law to make it possible for women to have equal and independent economic status without work. Those activists are not necessarily proposing MY preferred policies, but they are proposing policies, and ones THEY believe to be enhancing gender equality.

    The Mama Grizzlies don’t have any interest in enhancing gender equality. They told me so. That leads one to believe that A. they think men and women are already equal, which is called post-feminism or B. they think men and women should not be equal, which is called anti-feminism. But it is not feminism.

  • Lyle

    I can’t argue with your three definitions of feminist, post-feminist, and anti-feminist. I’m largely, if not entirely ignorant, of the academic debate on this. However I’ve been conditioned by feminism since I was born and my mentor in college was a hardcore northeast educated self described lipstick feminist. So it’s something I think about it and have views on, but I’m not so high up the ivory tower with it.

    Nonetheless, I’m going to guess that Palin and others would consider post-feminist to be broadly speaking feminists… because they would have had to been feminists to have gotten to the point of being post-feminists. You disagree? I mean being post-feminist suggests one was once feminist.

    I also think Palin and others, even if they say to you that advancing such comprehensive equality isn’t their point, doesn’t discount them as feminists per se. They kind of get that job done by being out there and running for office, and becoming elected officials. The problem is we are mostly past the point of social, political, and economic inequality. And some of what could be describe as inequality today is largely still very debatable.. unlike say suffrage or divorce law from the past. There is also the problem now of feminists doing the Kid Icarus thing and getting too close to the sun, i.e. they’ve gone past the point of advancement, and are now actually proposing harmful policies for women, men, and children.

    Furthermore, when actually in office I’m guessing they pursue some of these feminist policy goals because they’re no-brainers for everyone. They just don’t want to come across as preachy on the campaign trail. Preachy can come off bad for male politicians as well, I think.

  • Maha Rafi Atal

    Yes, post-feminists are typically people who either were feminists or who acknowledge that feminism was once necessary, but that makes them not feminists in the present moment.

    What I’m saying is that as I understand feminist politics–liberal or conservative–active promotion of equality is a key ingredient. So if you aren’t interested in advancing it, you’re not a feminist. That is separate from what you envision equality to look like or what policies you want to use.

    Moreover, I would argue that post-feminism is misguided in that we AREN’T in fact at a stage of equality yet and that there are some pretty solid data points to show that: not only the income gap (women make 25% less than men), but also the poverty and mobility gaps (more likely to fall into poverty, less likely to get out of it), the rape statistics (five times more likely to be the victims of rape and domestic violence), etc.

  • Lyle

    Hey, sorry for the belated response. I think your outlook is way too academic.

    The salary/income gap has got some counterarguments. When give birth and stay at home to mother. That’s a biological difference that can’t ever, ever be equalized.

    And lastly, and I have really good experience with this, physical violence is a man thing. It’s in our genetic makeup, it’s in our biology. There won’t ever be a day where men are equally as physically violent as women. Women abuse men and other women in other ways, normally. It’s just unfortunate that men mostly choose to get physical. We can advocate non-violence and anger management all we won’t to, which I’ve done a lot of… but men if they lose it will get physical.

    The disparity with the violence can’t be bridged. I mean, hell we can’t accurately count the emotional abuse women afflict upon men… cause it normally doesn’t involve broken bones, bruises, or death.

  • Maha Rafi Atal

    @Lyle, The salary gap isn’t based on women who stay home. I’m talking about two people working the same job. There’s a still a huge gap there, especially in really high performance fields like law and finance.

    As for violence, I just categorically reject biology as a justification for that. I’ve been reading some anthropological studies recently that point in rather a different direction about the nature of man and suggest that domestic violence and rape are social problems, not biological ones, and that they can be fixed.

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