Conservative Lady Crop 2010


Sheri Parks talks about archetypes and stereotypes of the strong black woman. Also, a look at the new crop of female conservative politicians, and a quick review of the good, the bad, the stupid, and the hopeful in summer movies.

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Pro-health care Bush daughter

Sharron Angle vs. fluoride

Meet Sharron Angle

Feminists?

Nikki Haley denying

Always a woman’s fault

On this episode of Reality Cast, Sherri Parks will talk about archetypes and stereotypes of black women.  Also, what is there to make of this surge of conservative women in politics?  And I also do a summer movie review for people who don’t want a major dose of stupid with their popcorn flicks.

I’m sort of fascinated by the way the women in former President Bush’s life keep coming out and saying liberal, pro-choice things in public.  The latest example is his daughter Barbara Bush, speaking on Fox News Sunday.   

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She’s hedging a bit because of her family, but when not talking about Democratic-specific legislation, she’s bolder.

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Agree, Barbara.  It is a right.

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As various state primaries finish up, one trend seems to be emerging.  Call it the post-Sarah Palin trend, or the who’d’a thunk it trend.  But across the nation, you’re seeing a lot of women getting nominated for big time Congressional seats, and shockingly, they’re often from the more conservative side of the spectrum.  I’m cynical enough to suggest that the influence of the Tea Party on the results just goes to show that the race-baiters are beating out the misogynists this cycle, something I think would be totally reversed if the President they’re all hating on was Hillary Clinton and not Barack Obama.  But either way, you’re seeing women not only win their primaries, but you’re seeing primaries where the only people who even had a chance of winning were female. 

My favorite of these was the Nevada race for the Republican candidate who will challenge Harry Reid.  Early on, Sue Lowden was the favorite to win the primary. And then this happened. 

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I think Nevada Republicans had nightmares of Harry Reid running an entirely chicken-based campaign, and so they threw Lowden out for her suggestion that a poultry-based barter system might work better than an insurance system for health care.   But they may have voted too soon. The woman who they did nominate instead of Lowden is one Sharron Angle, who has a lot in common with the John Birchers.

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Angle is also on the record opposing legal alcohol, and Social Security.  The Republicans are currently in the process of getting her to retract a lot of this, hide it, or rephrase her beliefs in language meant to confuse instead of enlighten. 

I bring this up, because feminists are being told that we should silence our criticisms of the actual policy positions of many women who have just been nominated to office, and concentrate solely on being glad that they’re women.  But as feminists, I say that we should stand for women’s equality and against cavities, and that the latter shouldn’t have to suffer for the former.  Plus, I’m not entirely convinced that merely having women running for office means the end of sexism.  For instance, we have a lady vs. lady Senate race in California, and you’d think that would mean that there would be a lot less sexist carping about appearance.  But you’d be thinking wrong.

One of the most annoying tropes you run in to if you’re a follower of politics is the hot mic faux gaffe, where a politician says something nasty about her opponent into a mic, and later claims that she didn’t know it was on. This happens so often that it’s safe to say that it’s rarely if ever a genuine mistake.

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Or maybe she just has a thing with hair. 

But no one has been more beleagured than Nikki Haley, who has been running for governor of South Carolina.  It seems like every other man that Haley’s worked with is claiming to have slept with her while her husband was serving overseas.  She’s spent more time denying these allegations than she has probably talking about anything else.

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The establishment has backed Haley, so she’s weathered this storm.  And unless they can come up with something resembling proof, I imagine she’ll continue to weather this storm.  But it’s fascinating, because you see these whispers about male candidates all the time, and they almost never stick without real proof.  But Haley is female and conventionally attractive, and it’s something the opposition went straight to.  If feminists are supposed to be glad women have come so far that even conservative women can run for office, then we should also be on call to point out how far we haven’t come if things like sexual rumors and hairstyles are still in play against women.

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insert interview

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It’s summer.  It’s hot.  You want to sit inside an air conditioned building and be mindlessly and cheerfully entertained for a few hours.  You want a little action and a little romance, but you don’t want to be annoyed with the sexism and racism that permeates so much of Hollywood’s products.  What’s a feminist-minded liberal person to do, especially now “Glee” has finished its season and “Mad Men” isn’t coming back until late July?  And let’s face it, you want to get out of the house occasionally. 

For the discerning movie fan, the pickings this year have been atrociously slim.  “Iron Man 2” was awful, and wasn’t rescued by a single scene where Scarlet Johannsen rips through a roomful of security, kicking ass.  “Kick Ass” was funny, but I think the satirical elements mocking right wing vigilante fantasies weren’t enough to balance out the violence for a lot of the audience.  But the big disappointment of the summer so far is this movie.

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Yep, “Sex and the City 2”, which got some of the worst reviews of a movie since “Battlefield Earth”, and was criticized particularly for being tone deaf to outright racist in its depictions of Arabian life.  I’m still not sure why a franchise that’s supposed to be so much about New York had to go to the Middle East, but whatever.  The first movie got middling reviews, and I think that had a lot to do with leftover good will that people had towards the TV show, which, for all its flaws, was actually funny and portrayed sexually active single women as being relatively diverse in attitudes and capable of being happy.  But now it’s apparent that both these movies are just laying waste to all the good will the show garnered, so let’s pretend none of this ever happened, okay?

It’s something of a shame, too, because increasingly it seems like Hollywood is just going to give up on even trying to make movies about sex, love, and relationships that have any depth at all.  And that’s doubly true in the summer, where big explosions tend to matter more than characterization or plot.  What few movies even acknowledge the existence of adult relationships tend to do so in service of pretending that women run some horrible matriarchy out to oppress men by making them behave like grown-ups.  In fact, the movie “Grown-Ups” basically puts that thesis up front in its title.

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Ha ha! The boobies that belong to Daddy are still being used by the kids.  We’re all supposed to feel sorry for him.  Instead, I think I’ll be skipping that one. 

But in all this darkness, I have to say there’s a couple of bright spots.  One actually surprised me when I saw it, since it’s yet another comedy from the Apatow factory, which is hardly known for being anti-sexist. 

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Okay, “Get Him To The Greek” is a bro-mance, and therefore it’s not exactly a movie that’s going to pay a lot of attention to women.  That said, unlike a lot of these movies, they actually take a stab at making the girlfriend back home a character, not some horrible stereotype.  In fact, the girlfriend, played by Elizabeth Moss, is rewarded for being career-oriented, willing to stand up for herself and sexually adventurous.  Most of the time, these are qualities that make a female character a villain, but in this, these qualities are seen as reasons to like her. And the main character, played by Jonah Hill, breaks the stereotype often presented in bro-mances.  He’s the kind of guy who’d rather be with his girlfriend than hanging out with the guys in the strip club, and instead of this being held out as evidence that there’s something wrong with him, it’s portrayed as perfectly normal.  It’s not earth-shattering, but in this environment, I’ll take it.

And then there’s a movie towards the end of the summer that’s going to explore whether or not you can combine a romantic comedy that avoids the usual clichés with an action movie. 

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Okay, I’m so prejudiced for Scott Pilgrim v. The World, because I’ve read all the books that are out, and I think they’re hilarious.  On its surface, it seems pretty sexist since he’s fighting all chivalrously, but having read the books, I can say they’re actually a little different than that.  It’s more like using the tropes of video games to stand in metaphorically for the struggle to grow up and get past the fact that the person you love has had a life before you.  And that’s something I can really get behind in an action movie.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, it’s always always always the woman’s fault edition.  Pat Robertson fielded a question on the “700 Club” from a woman concerned about her husband’s incessant flirting with other women. 

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Men can’t be blamed for anything in this world, even things they do against their wives’ wishes.  Robertson has made absolutely sure that if this man does cheat, then the wife knows that it was her fault, and not her husband’s.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on Twitter: @amandamarcotte

  • pilar608

    I really enjoyed the interview on this podcast.  Thanks!