A record number of women—262, in all—ran campaigns for the House in the 2010 midterm elections. Despite this wave of women, fewer will be in the House once the 112th Congress begins than were in the 111th. 75 women will take their seats in the voting body, many of them for the first time. Here is a look at several first-year Representatives. On the Senate side, 36 women ran campaigns—also a record—and four were elected, keeping the total for women in the Senate at 17. There will be, notably, no African-American Senators when the new Congress begins in January. What issues will the newest female members of Congress bring with them and what might it mean for feminist political strategists and women?
A few months ago, I read a lovely post on country music by Garland Grey over at Tiger Beatdown, and I was quite enjoying myself until he included Johnny Cash as a "toxic model for masculinity" and I hit the roof internally*.
Because Johnny Cash may be the only model for masculinity I turn to. (Well, aside from Springsteen, about whom more later!)
And now again, as the U.S. writhes under the weight of its own myths, I go back to Cash as well.
It's Dia de los Douches here at Bitch HQ, and Clint McCance, anti-gay bigot and former school board member in Arkansas, is our Master of Ceremonies this afternoon. McCance posted the following on his facebook page in response to Spirit Day at the end of October (TRIGGER warning- warped thinking AND warped grammar)...
My life has been unusually stressful lately, for a variety of reasons, and my personal strategy to get through such times has always been to devour certain television shows as though they were comfort food. The advent of the show-on-DVD has been a great comfort to me in that respect, because when I'm down and needing to spend some quality time with my cat and my couch, I can get lost in these stories for days. I am one of those people who is sad that movies are only two hours long: I like my narratives long and intricate, nineteenth-century style, which that explains why I'm such a nerd for any show best viewed as a DVD box set. (And, umm, the completely sad amount of money I've spent on acquiring them.)
All of that by way of saying I've been watching a lot of Six Feet Under, lately. Sometimes television snobs laugh at me when I tell them that Six Feet Under is by far my favorite of the high-end cable shows of the last few years. Though the show was always critically acclaimed in its own way, of course, it somehow never got the kind of artistic street cred that either The Wire or The Sopranos did. I have my theories about this, many of which are related to ideas I also have about people's evaluations of worth in literature.
On election day I was cheerily envisioning a future beyond hate and war with Robyn and Janelle Monae. Yesterday and today I woke up and the future looked impossibly angry and male and white, surging up from the past, all grudge-guns firing.
As a big fan of the strange short work by writers like Gary Lutz and Lydia Davis, I was drawn to Lindsay Hunter's new book, Daddy's, nestled next to an anticipated Lutz rerelease in the small press section of Powell's Books. Many of the writers in this section are faithful upholders of the short story, a form that can be hard to market and is often thought of by more commercial writers and publishers as practice on the way to a novel. But the writers I love, the ones who choose the short story as their primary form, use carefully chosen words to place their characters in unexpected, sometimes disturbing situations. Then they leave you to make your own conclusions about what you've encountered. I hoped that this was the kind of thing I'd find in Hunter's Daddy's, and the jacket blurbs bolstered my hope. Kyle Minor wrote, "Lindsay Hunter won't be caught lie-telling in the name of nice. The miniature stories in Daddy's are fierce and unapologetic." I'm happy to report that Hunter's book did not disappoint.
Remember those weird Verizon ads that seemed to empower young women with statements like "air does not transmit the opinions of a man faster than those of a woman"? Really, they were co-opting feminism to sell phones from a company that is fighting against net neutrality—the idea that people and organizations should be charged more for access or speedier connection to certain sites and services instead of treating all access as equal—something many of us take for granted right now.
The Albuquerque-based New Mexico Media Literacy Project made a response video to the ads that does more than parody, it sends a strong message of its own about net neutrality and free internet: "Latinos aren't buying what Verizon is selling. Verizon says 'Rule the Air,' but Latinos say 'Libera el Aire!'"
Monday's inaugural entry focused on a Palme d'Or winner. Thus it seems only appropriate to switch gears today and discuss a movie that was shelved for three years before it went straight to DVD in 2009.
(In case any of you are too young to know the reference [OH GOD AM I THIS OLD], Ally McBeal was a mid-nineties David E. Kelley show, starring Calista Flockhart as the eponymous young lawyer. Like all David E. Kelley shows I am aware of, it started out playing its narrative straight, an excellent if ordinary show about a young lawyer and an imaginary dancing baby. But within about three seasons it degenerated into Kelley's particular brand of "quirk," which made it frequently incomprehensible. I'm sure it's Netflixable.)
Much of the rhetoric in the 2010 midterm elections focused on anger, and the GOP candidates who will take control of the next House session spent a lot of campaign messaging time expressing how they felt connected to voters' anger. Which begs the question: were the candidates or the voters the angry ones? Why did Election Day turn out the way it did? And what does it mean, going forward?