Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor

It's been really interesting watching what I hope will be the first of a few supreme court nominations for Obama. The more I learn about Sotomayor, the more I like her. But what's even more interesting is the right wing's backlash against her.

Their biggest claim: She's racist! She's a bigot! (Coming from such open minded and socially conscious people as Rush Limbaugh.) Near as I can gather, this claim hearkens back to a statement Sotomayor made in a 2001 address, in which she claimed that she believed a Latina woman was better suited to make legal decisions than a white male.

Now, while it is dangerous to claim that someone's gender and race make them more suited than another to do anything, I get what Sotomayor was trying to say. White males are a MINORITY in America. There are far more people who are not male, who are not white, or who are neither male nor white. Therefore, the white male experience, although the dominantly presented experience in politics and media, is actually a minority experience and not applicable to most people. And yet, it's the experience that is forefront in our lives. It's the experience taught in history class, and it's the experience portrayed on T.V. Trust me, I get it. Maybe that makes me racist too? (And how come no one claimed she was sexist for saying that?)

Anyway, it's pretty much hilarious that the right wing would be making these claims. They always say these things when it's convenient for them, despite the outward exclusivity of their own political persuasion. Remember how all of us liberals who didn't like Sarah Palin were suddenly sexist? (All of us feminist liberals who thought a female vice presidential nominee shouldn't be a token...)

Speaking of tokenism, I was at first afraid that's what Sotomayor was. I had heard that there was an enormous outcry for both a Latino and a female nominee, so I figured that Sotomayor was a token nominee suiting those needs. But what I've read about her makes her seem like she's a big deal after all. I mean, she was a suggestion when Bush selected Alito in 2005.

And speaking of Bush's nominees, the difference between the right's outcry about Sotomayor now and the left's outcry about Harriet Miers (also in 2005) shows the difference between a token and a legitimate nominee. At the time, the left said "Hey wait a minute...Miers isn't qualified." And she subsequently wasn't confirmed. On the other hand, now, the right is basically saying, "Hmm...what little thing can we say against Sotomayor...anything? Anything? Bueller?" And then one person dug up this statement from 2001 and they jumped on the petty racism train.

Interesting. And I just love it how the racism card seems to be played against people who have actually faced racism their whole lives. (Remember Obama and the Jeremiah Wright scandal?)

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that because Sotomayor is a legitimate candidate, the right has resorted to a cheap smear campaign...but since Obama's facing a favorable congress, I'm not really worried.

What I am worried about, is that researching Sotomayor has reminded me in one small way that sexism is still alive and doing extremely well. (Not that I ever forgot.) When I googled her name to learn a little more, the first suggestion that came up as I typed S-O-N-I-A was "Sonia Sotomayor husband." This means that despite the fact that this woman has been nominated for the SUPREME COURT, people are more concerned about who her husband is.

Ugh. Disgusting.

Here's hoping that Ms. Sotomayor is confirmed and can be a strong liberal voice on bench!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Your Time With Kim --Your Time, Indeed, If You're Ignorant

Myranda has written about this radio show before, on her personal blog, but I want to bring Kim Iverson back up.

In case you are unfamiliar, "Your Time with Kim " is a nationally syndicated radio talk show hosted by Kim Iverson. It is played locally in Indianapolis on z995. The general premise is that her show is your time, as a woman, to get to talk and hear discussion about issues pertinent to women. You can find out more about her general show topics at her Wikipedia page.

Now, on one side I have to give Ms. Iverson some credit. She is under 30 and has a nationally syndicated radio show as a woman; a feat very few have accomplished. However, my admiration for her stops there because she has become popular on sexist premises. Her show segments are very narrowly tailored around topics which are stereotypically supposed to be interesting to women. Most nights they're not interesting, not in the least.

However, I do enjoy when current issues are discussed, using any medium. So every now and then when Kim discusses a topic with her listeners, I become morbidly curious. Once in a great while Kim says something reasonable. But usually, she spouts off her antiquated notions about family and dating, just like Myranda mentioned in her post.

Yesterday made me furious, however. She was discussing how a mother who doesn't believe in standard medicine is being prosecuted for homicide because her daughter died of a diabetic coma. Basically the mother believed that prayer was enough to save her daughter, and obviously it wasn't. Kim was defending the mother to the bitter end. I couldn't believe it.

The premise of Kim's argument was that we can't oppress other people with our religious belief that western medicine works. I could barely even follow her, it was so incomprehensible. She kept saying that in America we have the right to practice our religion. The mother wasn't negligent because she was *doing something* ...she was praying, and her chosen method of healing just wasn't working. She kept rambling about how every method of healing has a risk. Even doctors have failure rates, so the mother shouldn't be held accountable, just because her method failed. "Are we going to prosecute parents who seek medical attention and choose a doctor who doesn't save their child?" She also insisted that parents are allowed to choose a religion for their kids, and if that means bad things happen to them, then darn, but it's allowed because of religious freedoms.

Bullshit! Let's get a few things straight here:
1) Western medicine is not a belief. It is a fact! Diabetes, in this case, is an extremely manageable condition using western medicine. Not all disorders have the same success rates, but since this example is about diabetes, we can be almost 100% certain that her daughter wouldn't have died so young had she been treated by a doctor. Unlike the prayer method, we *know* that insulin manages diabetes.
2) This was a CHILD. Religious freedoms are such a difficult area here. If I had heard that the woman was trying to pray away her own diabetes and died, then so be it! But that child didn't have a chance to make an informed decision. She didn't even become old enough to choose her own religious beliefs. This atrocity was inflicted UPON her and she subsequently died at the age of 11.
3) Because she was a child, certain laws exist to protect her. In fact, neglect by definition in American law includes withholding necessary medical attention. Why should this case be any different that someone who simply ignored their child's symptoms? Where do we draw the line? What will we say is permissible just because of religion? What about radical Mormons and their child brides? What about religions that include human sacrifice?

The fact of the matter is that this should be a non-issue. This woman is being prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and should be. Religious freedom in America does not extend to allowing the death of children. I'm sorry. It just doesn't.

All this isn't to say that prayer isn't an important and powerful force in healing. People whose families are suffering or who are suffering themselves frequently find much comfort and guidance in their faith. It can be a powerful force. However, those people are usually using prayer and faith in tandem with western medicine. God didn't make us the most intelligent species so that we could ignore the many wonderful benefits of our progressing technology. Just sayin'.

So, while this went off on a somewhat tangentially feminist topic, my point remains: Kim Iverson is an idiot and "my" time with her only makes me stupider. Now, if I could just stop being so lazy and turn the damn radio dial when I'm driving and she's on...I'd be set!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thanks, But No Thanks, Secretary of State Todd Rokita!

First of all---It's been way too long since this blog has had some action.

Having said that, here's what I noticed today...

So this afternoon, I graduated with my master's. Secretary of State, Todd Rokita was the speaker at the SPEA (School of Public and Environmental Affairs) graduation. Republican Secretary of State, Todd Rokita.

It's no secret that I wasn't too happy as Mr. Rokita took the stage. But I gave him a chance...I mean, surely he wouldn't make it a political thing, right?

HAHA! Was I ever wrong. The first part of the speech was totally tame, and I was pulled in, actually paying attention. But then, he hit me with a one-two punch.

1) He kept saying things about how if you view the government they way he does, which is "the way everyone should" then you should believe that as public servants it is our job to put ourselves out of work. You know, the whole same small government rhetoric that the republican party spouts off without any consideration about how *impossible* that actually is. Whatever, fine. I disagree...but to each her or his own. But this statement wasn't good enough. He actually said, at SPEA's graduation, that his goal is a world where there are less SPEA grads. It was some thing about how the government should ultimately not need them anymore. But it was just weird and awkward and not fitting. Plus, SPEA is a blanket for many other programs, like nonprofit management! And if you really want smaller government then, you're going to have a larger nonprofit sector...which actually means *more* SPEA grads, just of a different type. It was like he didn't really do his homework about the program.

2) SEXIST LANGUAGE OH DIOS MIO! In the government section he said something about how a small government is what our "fathers" have intended. And he used "he" as his only chosen pronoun over and over. There were a few other very specific examples...It was almost too much to take. Seriously! When he went off on this politically charged tangent, I started to zone out, but again and again the language kept popping out to me.

You'd think SPEA would pick someone who would represent more people's opinions and who is more inclusive.

I'm really happy I'm done. I'm proud of me, damnit! But I'm not going to look back at my graduation ceremony its self fondly.