Daily Archives: Friday 11 January 2008

Friday Feminist – Nancy Gruver (2)

I posted an excerpt from an essay by Nancy Gruver in my Friday Feminist post last week. To my delight, she left a comment on the post, inviting people to take a look at her marvellous (my word, not hers) project, New Moon Girl Media.

The aim of the project:

New Moon Girl Media’s mission is to help girls, ages 8 to 15, discover their unique voices and express them in the world in ways that matter.

We fulfill our mission by keeping girls at our center. Through active girl involvement and participation in all our business decisions, we provide respectful, creative, energetic and safe communities where girls explore, discover, create, grow and share their voices to make a positive difference in their lives and in the world.

For this week’s Friday Feminist, please, go take a look at New Moon Girl Media.

A virtuous man

Sir Edmund Hillary has died, and New Zealand is weeping today. Not great howls of anguish, or inconsolable grief, but mourning for the passing of a virtuous man. Over the last few years, we had heard more stories of him being in ill-health, so this death is no surprise, but we have lost him now, and so we are grieving.

There are obituaries up all over the world, but most of them focus on his mountaineering and adventuring feats. To be sure, they were tremendous deeds, but I think that the reason why he was loved in New Zealand was not because he was an extraordinary sportsman, but because he used his sporting achievements and fame in support of other people.

We also loved him for his modesty. No endless recitation of his deeds, or resting on his laurels. Instead he worked for the people of Nepal, raising money for schools, roads and hospitals, things that people in affluent countries like New Zealand, and my new home Australia, take for granted. He was a virtuous man, not in the sense of moral priggery, but in the sense of living a life that expressed the virtues, of fellowship, endurance, courage, determination, generosity, honesty. For those reasons, he has long been a hero of mine, and I suspect of many, many other New Zealanders.

He was 88 years old, and he had lived life to the full. So there is no need to lament a life cut short, or wasted. Instead, we can bow our heads and remember a hero.

More on Clinton

The feminist blogosphere is alive with discussion of Clinton, and the Steinem op-ed. People are for and against Clinton, and for (scroll down to “My Thoughts on Reading Gloria Steinem in the NYT” – posted on 8 January 2008) and against the Steinem op-ed.

I am a bit bemused by the people who have pilloried Steinem’s op-ed, accusing her of privileging sexism over racism. Steinem tried to avoid exactly that, specifically saying:

I’m not advocating a competition for who has it toughest. The caste systems of sex and race are interdependent and can only be uprooted together.

Steinem’s aim was to point out the double standards at play, the instances where Clinton is held to account for her gender, in a way that that male contenders for the presidency are not.

This is not to say that Barack Obama isn’t subject to racism, not that it isn’t serious. There’s a vexed discussion going on around the place at the moment about New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo using the phrase, “shuck and jive”. Was he or wasn’t he being racist?

Fortunately, a man is writing about the sexism that Clinton has to deal with, in The Australian. Mike Costello makes the well-known point:

It’s sure tough for women in politics. If they show emotion, they’re accused of being weak and unsuited for the really big jobs, unlike men who are to be congratulated for showing their human side. If they don’t show emotion, they are accused of being hard and ruthless, which in a man is seen as acceptable, indeed desirable, but in a woman is a sign of being manipulative, false and unlikable.

I guess that seeing as a man has said it, it might be taken seriously.

And isn’t that a sad comment all in itself.

Update: Rebecca Traister in Salon has an analysis of the Iowa to New Hampshire story: The witch ain’t dead. She endorses Steinem’s take:

God, it was so embarrassing, so 1972, so Women’s Studies 101. What was more embarrassing was that it was so right on. And I wasn’t the only one who thought so. From practically the moment it was published through the results of the New Hampshire primary, Steinem’s Op-Ed has been the most e-mailed story in the New York Times.