I’m a Cher fan; I’m a dog fan; I love Mexican food; I dig pottery and poetry; I adore the southwest and I’m a political junkie. Two of these things have come to clash this week – Cher and politics. Don’t get me wrong: I love me some Cher stuff; but I actually get really fired up about the politics.
And yet I really debated even covering this issue in 'I Found Some Blog,' even bothering to discuss Cher’s comments to Liz Smith about both of their feelings on US presidential democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama. I debated discussing it for two days and for two big reasons.
First, my parents told me never to bring up politics in a mixed crowd. So you can probably guess by that rule my parents are democrats. This blog is definitely a mixed crowd. So in warning: if you’re not someone of liberal leanings, go get yourself some coffee or take a walk around the block.
Secondly, is this blog really the place to hash out this sort of thing? And this is really a stickler. On the one hand the purpose of this blog originally was more about me and my learning to journal on a regular basis about semi-personal things, all under the guise of a celebrity blog; so political discussions sorta fit within that framework. And sometimes personal anecdotes bring readers and writers together—but sometimes personal subjects are just too derisive, you know? Sometimes it just doesn’t help to share.
But does that make soap-boxing permanently off limits? We can’t go that far.
I’m not even going to go into the article in particular because Liz Smith really works my last nerve. Her writing style, her bit about how “rational people” would have voted for Hillary. Back up beeotch. Okay, see? I can’t go there. The last few months pretty much proved that fact.
But I believe Hillary Clinton’s speech Tuesday night at the DNC Convention worked hard to bring the election back to issues and away from iconic politicians. By the way, Hillary’s speech was fu*king awesome, brilliantly written and delivered. She made all good, passionate points. And then Bill continued making then the next night. But it was that woman in the orange power-pantsuit even got me choked up. That was a completely brilliant moment in a convention that has been profoundly inspiring. By now, we seem not only feel warmly united, give or take a few, but fundamentally energized.
But I do feel we can still talk about this amazing historic, “heated” (as Bill Clinton said) Clinton/Obama primary and the divide that existed there.
First a side-note about celebrity endorsements: why don’t they ever work in presidential politics? I fully endorse every entertainers right and privilege to endorse politicians and be involved in civic affairs. Not only is it cool but they usually help raise awareness, especially in matters of style. They’ve done immeasurable work in animal rights campaigns alone. For her part, Cher has been speaking her mind about politics and involved in politics since the inception of her show biz career: protests like the one on the Sunset Strip in 1966; presidential campaigns, most recently with her support of Ross Perot in 1992 and John Kerry in 2004; conventions as with Sonny at the 1968 DNC Convention; and even inaugurations like Jimmy Carter’s in 1976.
But endorsements of presidential candidates never seem to work as well as support of grass roots campaigns. In fact, in a Karl-Rove-like fashion, the other side consistently exploits celebrity support as a sign of weakness (Well, if the celebrities in crazy LA-town like Cher and Rosie O’Donnell support so-in-so, they must be wack-job commies with extremist left agendas). Similarly the recent ads by McCain deriding Obama for being too celebrity were created to undercut the success of his recent international tour. It’s totally unfair, sneakily bigoted (if I may use one of Sonny’s words), and downright immoral...but it works. For all our celebrity obsessing, Hollywood is ironically seen as fringe.
But even so, I’m completely not a Hillary supporter for this election. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be a supporter for her in some future election or that I haven’t been a Hillary supporter in the past (I’ve answered way too many anti-Clinton emails to suffer being accused of that). But I hated her campaign. It made me angry as a woman and it made me angry as a democrat. Now her speech Tuesday night had the opposite effect. But the whole feud got me thinking about the Clinton/Obama divide, especially among women and the vastly different ways two generations of women view sexism.
As a 30-something feminist, I often explain it with the feminist magazines on the newsstand. The second wave of feminism hit its peak with Gloria Steinem and Ms. Magazinein the 1970s.
The daughters of these feminists (me and my peers) came of age with all the benefits of their struggles. This meant:
a) The titles Mrs. and Miss were now irrelevant, never used, and seen as antiquated -- so the title Ms. was taken for granted and thus, not deified.
b) We listened to our mothers and kicked ass and took names and spoke our minds because that’s what we thought we were free now to do.
c) We made friends with boys just like we made friends with girls, with equality (depending upon the personality), which translated well into the workplace.
d) And we took for granted all the things our mothers had to go through. Bad us, granted because they went through a lot of shit; but good for them – because the shit they went through was worth it and their struggles worked!
What does this mean for gals my age? Wave 3 feminism started in the 1990s with Riot Grrls and their mission was very punk. To fight sexism in its nastiest corners against pissed-off boys who were trying to slay women with slurs like bitch, slut and whore. Third wave feminists had a very alternative strategy in dealing with this. It was very Generation X: take control of the word, overuse it, mock it, wear it out like a bat-shaped balloon that’s been beaten into the ground so many times it’s a deflated piece of limp plastic. Then return the limp word back into play, useless. Ten years of doing that has taken the power out of the words like bitch, slut and whore for most modern young women. They hear those words and laugh or roll their eyes.
Third wavers took the foundation for granted and aggressively stomped on recurrences. The Riot Grrl movement evolved into magazines like Bust and Bitch. If you’re a 70s wave feminist, pick up one of those magazines on the newsstand and compare them to Ms. Magazine. Your head just might fall off. Bitch and Bustare all about self-actualizing as a woman any way you want to, even if it means knitting or housework, motorcycle maintenance or writing erotica, whatever you feel you want to do, you have permission, you have the goods, no taboos, no boundaries. That’s the gift 2nd wave feminism gave to the 3rd wave. We don’t always say we’re grateful because 2nd wave struggles worked so well, we often don’t even notice there was ever a problem!
It’s similar to the generational gap described in this month’s LA Magazinein an article about the two Chicano art exhibits on display at LACMA right now. One exhibit features Chicano political art from the 60s and 70s when Chicanos were working for representation at LACMA. The other exhibit is by the media-savvy, ironic younger artists. According to RJ Smith,
“the kids are taking the old-timers to task with as much heat and as many hurt feelings...the [elders] want to celebrate a solemn self-image; the newcomers want o question what is a Chicano, and who owns the title...the veterans celebrate heroes; the kids mock and question authority. One generation had to will a movement into life; it gave the next generation the luxury of getting snarky about movement politics and pieties.”
The two waves bicker, they define the struggles differently, the results and the spoils differently. We young gals see the 2nd waver fighting the same old fights. Granted sometimes they are fighting real battles with their same peer group, old sexist pigs. Our peer men are much more evolved. We just don’t fight those same battles and that’s the point. It’s not to say we’re not fighting any battles at all. I had my own sexist male boss two jobs ago. But he got quickly labeled a Neanderthal and was fired. He then hilariously declared that he refused to be fired by a woman! It’s like so Spencer Tracy, crap like that. Sexist cretins usually don’t last as long as they used to.
To be fair, I’ve also had plenty of difficult women bosses, usually older women who feel threatened on all fronts and can’t even manage to trust their innocent female assistants. It’s like they’re shell shocked from the war. They see fights everywhere.
As a woman sensitive to sexism yet feeling pretty empowered most of the time, I saw no sexism in Hillary’s campaign or in mainstream press coverage. This election is still a highly-charged and inspiring moment for me due not only to Obama but Hillary Clinton. But this is because for me, by definition, sex and race are not issues of detriment. For us, it's just a matter of time. But many 2nd wave feminists see doom and gloom where we see an opportunity to bust our foot in the door.
It’s awkward to disagree with Cher on this point because she is, even moreso than Hillary Clinton, a 70s feminist iconic archetype, whether she wanted or be or intended to be one. Monday night, Michelle Obama gave a speech in which she didn’t need to earmark herself as a black woman or as a vastly different character than John McCain. It was obvious by her very presence at the podium. Likewise, Cher TV image was a powerful message to all women, whether married or 6-years old. She didn’t have to preach it. She just stalwartly pushed back against the patriarchy with her punch lines on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour. Then she pushed back against the patriarchy backstage by leaving Sonny. And then she defiantly strutted across a naval ship and pointed her finger at the camera with a mean stare in a music video during the 80s, raising the bar for 40-somethings seemingly in a power-position over men. Then she did it in interviews, saying she could do whatever the hell she wanted to do. Remember, they’re my tits; I’ll put them on my back if I want to? Well, it’s my vote, I’ll stuff it in my tits if I want to.
I suppose our appreciation of 2nd wave feminists and icons should never should go without saying. I think we 3rd wavers all know it – deep inside as it was stuffed there permanently an subliminally from hours of watching television in the 70s. But Cheslsa Clinton said it succinctly Tuesday in her mother’s introductory video: “Never forget whose shoulders you’re standing on” ...as you defiantly cast that vote that pisses them off.