Career Women, GOP Wives, and DSK Rape Arrest


Barbara Kelley talks about why women feel paralyzed, and why it’s not feminism that’s to blame. Wives of Republican politicians take a hit in right wing media, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn is arrested for rape.

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Links in this episode:

Picking on Maria Shriver

Mitch Daniels and the attack on Planned Parenthood

Potential defenses

Standing by her man

Jon Stewart takes on DSK’s defenders

Limbaugh just speaks the reverse of truth

On this episode of Reality Cast, Barbara Kelley will talk about women, happiness, and feminism.  Also, Republican wives are increasingly getting ill treatment from the base, and the head of the IMF gets arrested for rape.

NPR had a discussion about doctors, midwives, and home births, and why you might choose what if you’re an expectant mother.  They started with a woman who had most of her kids at home.

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For all the attention home births get, they are less than 1% of births overall in the nation.

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When the men of the Republican party preach family values to the public while cheating in private, it tends to be liberals more than conservatives who get up in arms about it, calling them hypocrites.  But a new trend in politics seems to be conservatives harshly judging the wives of male Republican politicians for inadequately performing the role of the stand by your man wife.  

The story about Arnold Schwarzenegger fathering a child with an employee and keeping it from his wife Maria Shriver for over a decade was so terrible that I expected the right wing media to perhaps leave Shriver alone, even if they disapprove of her for being a liberal feminist.  I war far too generous.  Fox News responded by having so-called medical expert Keith Ablow on show to scold Shriver for kicking her husband out of the house.

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You know, even if she did know her husband was a louse when she married him, so what?  Just because you make a mistake doesn’t obligate you to keep making it.  And to recap: He had a child with an employee that was born the very same week he and Shriver’s youngest was born. I don’t think there’s any way someone could predict that their husband would go that low.  

This treatment of Shriver tells us a lot about what Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana was up against that led him to drop out of the presidential race.

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Daniels is doing more than blaming his wife for his not running.  In this particular case, there’s every reason to believe that his wife, Cheri Daniels, had legitimate concerns about him running for President that got in the way of her basic ability to hold her life together.

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Cheri Daniels actually divorced Mitch, married another man, divorced that man, and remarried Mitch.  She was right to be worried that this would come up, as some conservative commentators were already grumbling and saying bad things about her because of this.  Conservative writer James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal has already attacked Daniels for having an insubordinate wife, implying that the Indiana governor was emasculated by taking back a woman who left him for a time.  That kind of thing can be impossible for a Republican to get over, especially one who needs the social conservative vote to get past the primaries.

But there’s every reason to believe that up until last weekend, Daniels fully intended to throw his hat into the ring, and that he was trying to suck up to social conservatives to get there.

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Since Daniels had himself declared a “truce” on social issues, this move was a big friggin’ deal.  The only way to understand it was that he was trying to warm up to social conservatives.  Now he’s decided that’s impossible and he’s dropping out of the race.  And the people who have to pay for his extended period of uncertainty are the thousands of women in Indiana who rely on federal subsidies to pay for their reproductive health care.

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insert interview

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Another month, another famous man accused of sexual assault.  This time it’s the head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn.  Or should I say former head of the IMF, as he’s resigned in the wake of a pretty shocking accusation that he orally raped a hotel maid, and was arrested before his plane took off for France.  The story was remarkable for a number of reasons, but at the top was how swiftly he was arrested.  The alleged assault occurred in the early afternoon, and by late afternoon he was pulled off a plane, put in a line-up, and identified by the accuser.  Speculation about how he would defend himself started immediately.

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It did seem that the attempt to deny that anything happened evaporated within hours of his arrest.  Indeed, most of his defenders seem to be suggesting that the main problem here is that Americans are prudes, as if being opposed to harassing, assaulting, and abusing women means you’re against sex.  In fact, what it means is that you’re against violence.  I would argue that sex is hotter and more fun all around if it’s consensual. 

There’s a tedious predictability to certain responses to all of this.  Take, for instance, the usual trumpeting of the wife standing beside the accused.

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The stuff about his affairs is a little disturbing, because the question isn’t whether or not he’s accused of being a cheater.  Since his wife famously doesn’t seem to mind that he’s a cheater, I think that’s basically none of our business, since they basically have an open marriage.  The question is whether or not he’s the kind of man who foists himself on unwilling women.  And that is a much more troubling question, and the testimony of this other journalist who says he tried to attack her needs to be looked at in light of these new accusations. What concerns me is that no matter how plausible or credible an accusation is, the same old narratives are being used to minimize it: It was sex, not rape.  His wife supports him. This is all a conspiracy put together by his enemies to bring him down. 

On the last one, well, unfortunately it’s gaining steam, aided in part by similar claims made about Julian Assange.  The good news, however, is that comedians are beginning to get tired of this predictable cycle, and some real humor has come out of all this.  Jon Stewart had some fun with the way that Strauss-Kahn’s defenders don’t believe that innocent until proven guilty applies to the accuser, who is assumed without evidence to be lying.  His best target was Ben Stein, who swore that the accuser must be lying.

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And Saturday Night Live had a skit showing Strauss-Kahn listening to two fellow inmates at Rikers who are knowledgeable about European economics ask him questions about IMF policy.

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The skit ended, kind of predictably, with the prisoners threatening to rape Strauss-Kahn.  The joke fell flat, in my opinion, but I do think they were trying in a way to remind the audience of what Strauss-Kahn is accused of, to bring it home.  While that joke didn’t work for me, I am glad to see more comedy shows take on the issues of rape and power dynamics, at least in this way, where rape is held out as something bad and people who defend it as real douchebags.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, dramatically missing the point edition.  Granted, it’s Rush Limbaugh’s job to miss the point dramatically, so this isn’t a surprise.

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Needless to say, the notion that there’s a “they” out there who kills babies and wants others to do it is just a lie. But we all know that he means abortion when he says “baby killer”. And even then, he’s just lying.  Not to be glib about it, but pro-choicers are pro-choice.  We don’t care if Palin chose to have a baby.  What bothers us is that she wants to take the choice away from everyone else.


Follow Amanda Marcotte on Twitter: @amandamarcotte

  • hightower712

    Thanks for the interview with Barbara Kelley! I’m a rising junior in college, and I’m already a little freaked out about the prospect of having to choose a career soon. I’m also in school for engineering, which is still a male-dominated field, and have already experienced/seen sexism, racism, heterosexism, etc. in internships. Dealing with all of this can be very overwhelming… I’ll definitely be checking out her book soon. :)