Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sexual politics

Front Cover

In her new memoir, Michelle Obama writes about suffering a miscarriage and eventually conceiving her two daughters through in vitro fertilization, a procedure filled with difficulty.  A normal person's reaction would be sympathy, or empathy, or just being quietly impressed by her strength and determination.  On the right, where the abnormal and subnormal cluster, the news has re-ignited the bizarre insistence that she is "really" a man or at least transgender, because of course her husband is gay, everyone knows this, he owns a tan suit, he haunts the bathhouses of Chicago and may in fact be from a different solar system.  And so on.

I wish this were a simple case of Rightzi knuckleheads getting their hate on, but as you can see from the illustration, it isn't.  By October 1995 Graydon and Kurt and the other boys at Spy decided that Hillary Clinton was exercising too much power in her husband's administration, so they depicted her in classic Marilyn Monroe/Seven-Year Itch pose with unmistakable male genitalia visible in male underwear.  On the cover.  Did I mention that this was Spy and not National Review?  Spy the required reading for sophisticates of the Eighties and Nineties, the magazine that gave Donald Trump the indelible sobriquet "short-fingered vulgarian" (to this day he doesn't know it means "cheap"), which would certainly have gone all-in for Hillary had it still existed in 2016.

Why this obsession with the sexuality of powerful women (or even women proximate to power, like First Ladies)?  Some cluck wrote an article positing that Queen Elizabeth I was a boy raised as a girl for some unfathomable reason; no woman would choose life-long virginity just because she feared death in childbirth and submission to a man, not to mention the pox.  There's a completely crazy movie that has her bearing a dozen bastards, including Will Shakespeare, which I refuse to waste two hours on.  The Netflix series The Crown owes much of its appeal to titillating, perhaps wholly fictitious suggestions about the intimate relationship of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, and the ten-year gap between the births of their second and third children.  If Catherine the Great had as many human and equine lovers as the myth says, she would have had no time to rule Russia, correspond with Voltaire, or sleep.  Was Eleanor Roosevelt a lesbian?  Why did Roseanne Barr decide (or at least re-tweet) that Valerie Jarrett is a man "with big swinging ape-balls"?  What does that even mean?  Remember the joke Newt Gingrich liked to tell back in the age of civility:  "Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly?  Because her father is Janet Reno."  There has to be something weird and kinky about the sexuality of women who engage in politics, unless they're family-values Republicans.
The more power they have, the more the men fear their derision.

"Men are afraid that women will laugh at them," Margaret Atwood wrote, "women are afraid men will kill them."  Justifiably.  Is it true that Hillary Clinton's pants suits are designed to conceal a Kevlar vest?  Ask any police officer how uncomfortable those are, and you can't help admiring her toughness.  If I were the object of that much hate and all those threats of violence, I wouldn't leave the house, body armor or no.  And as that magazine cover reminds us, it comes from all over the spectrum.  The problem with Sarah Sanders, we need to remember, is not her fashion sense or her makeup, it's her hostility to facts.  Nobody cared about Sean Spicer's shoes.

The new House of Representatives will have a hundred female members, the largest number in history.  It would be good if everyone from Rush Limbaugh to Stephen Colbert at least tried to judge them by what they say and do instead of how they look.  I'm not optimistic about Limbaugh.      


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7:15 AM  

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