Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Shopping and Feminism (?)

Malls overwhelm me... the climate control, the artificial light, the thumping music booming out of Abercrombie, the absence of time. I find my way into them only a couple times a year. The cheapskate in me usually has me checking the sales after the holidays to pursue the few items that I think about long enough to search them out at the right price. Here are items I've been looking for -- now purchased at 50-75% off:

Frames for sepia toned pictures of the kids that I've wanted to hang since we moved into this house and candles for the old fireplace we will never use (we have a newer one that doesn't need chimney work).

The frames hang over the end of the daybed where my mom sleeps when she visits. I hope she'll like the kids watching over her. You can see the origami dresses my daughter decorated the room with in the window.

And in the fireplace, 3 pillar candles. I got the idea at a Bed and Breakfast we visited last November. They had a candelabra of tea candles burning in a fireplace and I thought it looked beautiful. I'm doing a little decorating in my living room to get ready for hosting my book club. I've been going to other people's homes for the book club for nearly a year. It is finally time for me to pick the book and host.

I think I've picked one that will foster a great discussion. Big Girls Don't Cry by Rebecca Traister.

It's a review of the 2008 Presidential election from a feminist perspective. It discusses how the media treated Hillary, Barak, Sarah and Michelle. It shows behind the scenes intrigue and nasty chauvinistic coverage. Media women are conflicted. Gloria Steinem's incisive take proves that she's seen it all. SNL's female comedians skewer the candidates with their own words and prove that at least in the media, women are making their mark.

Katie Couric raises the fascinating question of whether Sarah Palin is a feminist. She is torn. After all, here's Sarah who quickly went from mayor to governor to vice-presidential candidate not after her kids were grown, but while being a mother to 4 then 5 kids. With her supportive husband and impressive career, isn't this what 1970's feminists hoped would happen. That women could be mothers and have a great career. Meanwhile she was not in favor of abortion rights and promoted republican economic policies that would hurt many women and middle class families.

But perhaps feminism has made strides in this case based on a quote in the book by the late NY Congresswomen Bella Abzug "The goal is not to see a female Einstein become an assistant professor. We want a woman schlemiel to get promoted as quickly as a male schlemiel."

But let's end the book discussion on a more positive note. The book left me with very warm feelings for Hillary Clinton. Her efforts to win votes as a Democratic woman by moving to the center and trying to be the toughest candidate may have cost her the Presidency, but as the Secretary of State she is making her mark.

At a hearing on international health funding she testified, "When I think about the suffering I have seen, of women around the world-- I've been in hospitals in Brazil where half the women were enthusiastically and joyfully greeting their babies and the other half were fighting for their lives against botched abortions, I've been in African countries where 12- and 13-year-old girls are bearing children. I have been in Asian countries where the denial of family planning consigns women to lives of oppression and hardship... We happen to think that family planning is an important part of women's health, and reproductive health includes access to abortions."

And she takes a feminist message to places around the world where it is least welcome. In a press conference with Afghanistan's President Karzai, she challenged a law about legislating the frequency of sex in marriage. "I will also reinforce, as I have on many occasions that this is not just me speaking, but this is the American government speaking. That we do not believe either Afghanistan or Pakistan can achieve lasting progress without the full participation of all your citizens including women and girls."


I'll let you know how the book group discussion goes... and I hope they like the new candles.
Aaahhhh, the serious and silly side of being an American women.

1 comment:

heather said...

one of the reasons i love coming here is because i often learn something. like schlemiel. and you write about things that are often not in my radar and that is refreshing. i am curious about the legislating the frequency of sex in marriage. i have no idea what that's about, but it doesn't sound good if that is being called for. freaks me out. uuugh.

and in your last post. your kids are so beautiful. i hope mine still go out in the snow when they're double digits.

i love the candles btw. i often get inspired at bed and breakfasts too. and the frames, that little corner is so good....good for you going out there and getting that done!! that kind of thing feels so good to do.