Daily Kos Kerfuzzle

A little over two years ago, Prometheus 6 made a brilliant observation that has stuck to me ever since:

And not to put too fine a point on it, but “racist” is the only word that makes white people as crazy as “nigger” makes Black people. It makes them crazier. White people don’t want to hear you talk about ANY white person being racist.

I don’t think the word “sexist” makes liberal guys quite as crazy as the word “racist” makes white people. But sometimes it comes close. Case in point: Some readers (mostly female, mostly feminist, I assume) objected to a sexist ad on the Kos sidebar, and Kos reacted with an over-the-top, condescending attack on the critics. He could have responded respectfully, in a way that didn’t alienate and insult a lot of his readers – but instead, he heard the word “sexist” and went a little crazy.

Kos, and the Kos community, is significant because it’s a window into how many of the most committed Democratic activists think – it’s the biggest, and most important, of the Democratic-party-pushing blogs. It’s instructive to read the comments on Kos’ post. There are many liberal Democrat “allies” eager to put feminists in their place, of course; but also a lot of good feminist comments. Kos reader Shadowthief got to the heart of the issue:

However, there is a larger issue involved here, far more than some silly advert that will be forgotten in about as much time as it takes to watch it–and that is the issue of how women’s issues are treated here on DKos.

Abortion rights, for example…dismissed by Kos as a “special interest” that is not a “core value” of the Democratic Party. I say, if you don’t have control over your own body, you don’t have any human rights, period–and if that’s not a core value of the Democratic Party, then why would any progressive-minded person in his or her right mind want to support it?

There is a consistent pattern on DailyKos of misogyny–yes, you read right–and I have found it on other “liberal” websites which (surprise) were founded and are operated by men.

And another Kos commenter, WakingUp, wrote:

[I'm trying] to think of other situations where a group that generally falls under the progressive umbrella would be told to basically “fuck off.” And to have their concerns cast aside as not important. It’s not really up to men to decide what is or should be important to women.

And if there are still any idiots who think the objections to this ad have anything to do with sex, I suggest you go back to the original diary and read it more carefully.

The thing we have learned here tonight is the fact that women not only will not be supported, but will also be mocked and otherwise abused when they dare to raise issues important to them.

And this excellent comment from Scribe:

I am an older woman, I love this site and spend much time here. Till now, I’ve been able to ignore most of the posts that were blatantly sexist and disrespectful to women, having long ago learned to pick my battles, and not to sweat the small stuff too much.

I am so sad to read Kos’s response to the objections from some community members members to this ad, and mostly, I see, to his posts that so disrespectfully dismissed their concerns. And also sad to see so many of the guys supporting his stance so strongly.

I am not leaving over this, but I also certainly don’t feel as welcome here as I did at first, or as valued. This was not your intent, I know, Kos, (and supporters of his stance,) but that is the outcome for many of us. I hope that matters to you: it’s hard to think it does, given the tone of your posts, which was generally, “So leave, you don’t like what I think: your opinion doesn’t matter.”

Further reading:
Shakespeare’s Sister has the definitive ass-kicking
of Kos’ post.

But she’s not the only one doing first-rate commentary: I’ve really enjoyed the posts on this subject at I Blame the Patriarchy, Echidne, Majikthise, Lauren at Feministe, Shades of Grey, Lawyers Guns and Money, and Pandagon (twice), among others. Also check out Women Kossacks, a blog started by some women in the Kos community.

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74 Responses to Daily Kos Kerfuzzle

  1. Pingback: Reclusive Leftist» feminism, politics, and random pedantry with your host, Dr. Violet Socks

  2. 2
    Robert says:

    Kos is a ruthless seeker after power. He doesn’t think that women’s issues get him closer to power, so he doesn’t care about them, other than to feign whatever minimal concern he has to express in order to avoid losing contributors.

    The real question isn’t Kos’ reaction to being called a sexist; instead, it relates to his rational calculus of what approach he should take with his audience. Apparently, the rational approach is to feign concern for women’s questions so that moderate feminists don’t take much umbrage, while dumping on the radical feminists enough so that his sexist male base recognizes the in-joke and that Their Guy is still running things, keeping the “women’s studies” set in their place..

    So I’d frame this question as, why are so many activist Democratic men misogynistic and dismissive of women’s concerns?

  3. 3
    Anne says:

    I too have been enjoying reading the recent discussions about this.

  4. 4
    Brian Vaughan says:

    I have to admit, I react irrationally if someone accuses me of racism or sexism. I was accused of sexism for the way I changed the subject in a thread on Alas a few months ago, and my freaking out about it didn’t help matters. Rationally, I know I’m a product of a racist and sexist society, and just because I’m opposed to racism and sexism doesn’t mean I’m magically cured of the infection of all-too-pervasive reactionary ideas.

    One of the mistakes people on the Left often make is to insist that they are, in fact, cured of those ideas. It’s just not that simple. I’ve had many arguments with men who would argue that sexism has an economic basis and is part of the class system, and must be opposed and defeated on that basis — points I agree with — and then conclude that anything that isn’t clearly an economic issue is trivial and not worth discussing — a terrible mistake, and an argument that’s used to condone all sorts of sexist attitudes.

    Closely related is the assumption that, since sexual repression is reactionary and objectionable, any expression of sexuality is intrinsically liberatory. That just ignores how profoundly conventional notions of sexuality are infected with sexist ideas.

    I think those issues come into play in Kos’s reaction. But I think there’s something even worse going on.

    Kos is, as far as I can make out, a shill for the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party is losing support because of its rush to the right. The proposed solutions have mostly involved rushing to the right even faster, and complete abandonment of women’s rights — by accepting the claims that feminism has gone too far and is alienating ordinary people, that abortion rights are unpopular, and so on. I suspect that Kos, and others like him, are sending up a trial balloon, testing the reaction to an outright abandonment of formal support for women’s rights.

  5. 6
    Lauren says:

    Kos has recently tried to clarify his positions on abortion (saying abortion is “horrible” and is not a “core value” of the Democratic party) by lumping it under a value of privacy. Fair enough, I suppose, but what he doesn’t seem to get is that for women, it is not only a concern of privacy but for urgency as well.

  6. 7
    alsis38.9 says:

    “…I suspect that Kos, and others like him, are sending up a trial balloon, testing the reaction to an outright abandonment of formal support for women’s rights.”

    Bingo.

    They are gambling on feminist women’s desperation to have a Democrat –any Democrat– in office. Sadly, it will probably work. Mainstream feminism is far too obsessed with the notion of “viability” to question deeply what the point is of having a “viable” party that uses this asset to actively undermine our most basic rights. And, of course, plenty of folk further left than Kos will be more than happy to join him in bullying and badmouthing any feminist who tries to pursue any alternative, much less to change the electoral process so that more parties and independent candidates can obtain the laurel of “viability.” (If you believe some of the writers at Counterpunch and elsewhere, there will be the looming threat of lost grants mixed in there as well, all to keep the potential stragglers in non-profits firmly where they “belong.”)

    I’d like to proved wrong. Still, my occasional excursions around the liberal feminist blogosphere, not to mention the pattern of the last eight years worth of elections, make me doubt that I will be proved wrong.

  7. 8
    Samantha says:

    Good post, Brian.

    It doesn’t surprise me to see so many people saying, “It’s not the ad, but…”

    It is the ad. It is also more than the ad, but it really is, in a large part, the sexist ad.

    We’re never going to come to a place of understanding how most liberal men can expend more money and effort defending their “right” to pornography and pornographized depictions of women than they expend defending women’s rights to choices affecting their bodies and health unless we figure in the contents of the ad. It shouldn’t be too far a leap from liberal (and conservative, libertarian, etc) men feeding themselves a constant media diet of hypersexualized, passive woman-as-fuck-objects images and their conclusion that women are not worth enough to justify fighting for their basic human rights to bodily control and medical decision-making. Men have never thought of women as equally human as men are, but lately it seems progress is actually slipping backwards.

    Media critics and researchers have published many reports detailing how consumption of pornography affects the way men think of all women. It *is* the ad, and the hundred thousand sexist, porny images that came before it, just as the prior sexism at Daily Kos built up over time and isn’t all about one ad.

  8. 9
    Twisty says:

    I’m not saying that the result doesn’t make it look this way, but somehow I doubt that the pie fight brouhaha was the manifestation of any deliberate conspiracy. I mean, since when have Democrats been able to organize anything so well? And I don’t see how splintering the party benefits them at all.

  9. 10
    trey says:

    I participate in DailyKos quite often (read daily, post diary weekly, etc) and i can tell you that I’ve seen my share of sexist and homophobic remarks not only from the diaries, but also from the ‘front page’ (mainly kos)…

    the ad was offensive and if he didn’t respond to the criticism the way he did, he wouldn’t have had the reaction he got.

    That all said, there are a lot of progressives on that site (as opposed to just plain Democrats) and that is why I stay, I learn a heck of a lot (after sifting through some of the dross). I see no ‘conspiracy’ to send trial balloons to dump feminists or even the ‘power-hungry’ shill that others see in kos (well, no more than any other partisan activist I guess :).

  10. 11
    Barbara says:

    I can honestly say that I thought the ad was tacky but it didn’t hit me as being sexist. On the other hand, Brian is spot on, and there are many times when I have felt desperate and, let’s face it, silenced by the apparent (to me) sexism of supposedly like minded men. It’s the silencing that really irks me, it’s like a sound barrier goes up when a woman tries to explain why it is that a seemingly benign practice (or a strategy or whatever) looks really different from the perspective of a female. But I disagree that Kos wants to drive the party rightward, I wouldn’t say that exactly, though I think he is probably excessively bottom line oriented, and I think there does need to be some discussion about how to frame issues related to reproductive rights (i.e., to take back some control over how the issue is framed in public). But women are supposed to be, and have to be, part of that discussion and complete refusal to try to see it from their perspective is, yes, sexist.

  11. 12
    Tish says:

    I spent an hour writing a reaction to all this last night and deleted first thing in the morning. I wish I could have written as elegant a summery as you have.
    I don’t read Kos and don’t really care about pie fights. I do get what everyone has been trying to say to Kos and I am not at all surprised that he doesn’t. I wish I were. I wish I had some sense that people who think of themselves as progressive, or liberal were better at critical thinking.
    Remember a few years ago when there was an ad in which an African American man was dancing around in his underwear and some male bloggers of color wrote about how it made them feel? It had enough momentum to be talked about in the main stream press. The company put out a second commercial with the same guy dancing in his underwear, which was perhaps to be expected. Worse for me was the dismissive way in which the blog world responded to the feelings of the men who were hurt by the ad.

  12. 13
    Samantha says:

    Can you explain what you mean by tacky, Barbara? I think Elvis-themed lamps are tacky, but that’s not the foremost feeling I got seeing the ad.

  13. 14
    alsis38.9 says:

    “I mean, since when have Democrats been able to organize anything so well? ”

    They got the entire anti-war movement to collapse behind a pro-war candidate, and they worked like hell to paralyze and muzzle the only prominent anti-war candidate in the campaign. That isn’t organizing ?

    http://www.fairvote.org/commentary/indybay110904.htm

  14. 15
    Barbara says:

    Honestly, I looked at it kind of briefly but didn’t click onto it, and I thought it was a spoof of Gilligan’s Isle, in which every character was a demonstrable buffoon to one degree or another. I didn’t think about it much, just that it seemed out of place. I guess that’s what I meant by tacky.

  15. 16
    alsis38.9 says:

    Oh, and what Samantha said. The “shut up and show us your tits, girls” phenomenon doesn’t know any particular political ideology, and she’s right in pointing to this dustup as a particularly glaring example. :(

  16. 17
    Brian Vaughan says:

    I didn’t think the pie ad flamewar was the direct result of a conspiracy. I thought it was the result of 1) pervasive sexist attitudes, encouraged by 2) Democratic Party attitudes discussions that feminism is a liability for the Democrats.

    In terms of overall strategy, there’s a sense in which the Democrats are being incredibly stupid. They just lost an election to a guy who practically had bullseyes painted on his vulnerabilities, which were many. The most obvious was the war: all Kerry had to say was, “The war was wrong, and we should withdraw from Iraq immediately,” and he would have won. There are any number of issues on which the Democrats could take a stand that would be very popular — national health care, reducing spending on the military and increasing spending on schools, improving the accessibility of birth control and abortion, raising the minimum wage, dismantling Taft-Hartley — but they won’t do it.

    Why? Because the core issues for the Democrats are capitalism and imperialism, just as they are for the Republicans. The difference with the Democrats is that they’ve struck the pose of supporting the disenfranchised, for the sole purpose of drawing in their support for capitalism and imperialism. And with the shrinking relative power of US capital, there’s less room for the ruling class to maneuver. Much of the economic expansion of the US has been financed right out of reducing the standard of living of the working class, and the Democrats are responding to the problem of decades of frustration at broken promises, by ceasing to make any promises.

    I suspect the Democratic Party is liable to break up in the next few years.

  17. 18
    piny says:

    >>Kos has recently tried to clarify his positions on abortion (saying abortion is “horrible”? and is not a “core value”? of the Democratic party) by lumping it under a value of privacy. Fair enough, I suppose, but what he doesn’t seem to get is that for women, it is not only a concern of privacy but for urgency as well. >>

    It’s a matter of privacy insofar as any issue of bodily integrity and freedom is a matter of privacy. Arguing as though women were just squeamish about senatorial peeping toms ignores the fact that the issue is autonomy inclusive of privacy, not privacy alone. Laws that give the government access to your private medical records and oversight over decisions about your private body aren’t only insulting or humiliating, although they certainly are those. They represent a reduction in actual status, a violation far beyond privacy, beyond even the right to determine whether your body should or should not be pregnant.

    That’s what Kos doesn’t seem to understand.

    “Privacy” also doesn’t mean that the messy public issue of preservation of reproductive choice should be left to women to deal with in the same way as their individual reproductive choices are. It doesn’t mean that putative allies can be lazy or ignorant when defining or discussing abortion, or that they can absent themselves from activism beyond a token assertion of support. It doesn’t mean that keeping abortion legal is a female burden in the same way that legal abortion is a female right. Kos seems to be using respect for “privacy” as a cover for squeamishness.

  18. 19
    media girl says:

    I honestly cannot say that the issue, at least for me, is about the ad. I never saw the display ad until after the poor-misunderstood-Kos cause had offended me to no end. I still haven’t watched the clip. I don’t give a crap about the ad. Call me desensitized, but I see stuff like that every time I turn on the television.

    Gilliard claims the real issue is the money Kos gets from one ad, which is more than any of us probably see in a year from all ads. I say bulloney to that, too.

    To me the real problem is how Kos and his defenders have tried to marginalize women’s basic human rights as fringe, not part of the “important shit.”

    Sorry about the link whoring, but I’ve been ranting on this a while because it deserves attention, and I’m glad you’re keeping this topic alive, Ampersand. Anyone who thinks we all need to just chill out and shut up simply does not get what the real issue is here.

  19. 20
    Kyra says:

    KOS says we should “pick our battles.”

    OK.

    I pick ALL of them.

    Interesting name, KOS, by the way. Very fitting that it’s the same letters that start King Of Sexism. Or, Kettle Of Shit, if you prefer.

    Excellent point about male liberals’ response to the label of “sexist.” The point, boys, is not to get angry, but to look for the reasons why you got the label thrown your way. When you find it, don’t dismiss it, but address it. Remove our reasons for complaining.

  20. 21
    Robert says:

    It strikes me that another part of the problem for guys like Kos is that he doesn’t understand how abortion rights facilitate the responsibility-free lifestyle.

    Guys pre-Roe got it; they’d taken girlfriends to back alleys or Mexico. Younger men have no clue of how much freedom and license abortion on demand provides for them, so they don’t see it as their issue.

  21. 22
    piny says:

    Oh, totally. For example, my cousin won’t have to watch his wife die of sepsis. And he doesn’t have to worry about finding a surrogate or dealing with the long, cumbersome process of legal adoption, since she was never rendered sterile.

  22. 23
    Brian Vaughan says:

    I rarely think how glad I should be that slavery has been abolished, relieving me of the responsibility to turn escaped slaves in to the police.

  23. 24
    alsis38.9 says:

    Before Roe, the only men who wanted “their” women to spawn were registered Democrats. I was leaning over my morning bowl of granola today and distinctly heard it say so. Yep, granola sounds just like David Horowitz, if you know how to listen.

  24. 25
    Samantha says:

    It is crucial that people who want to comment on whether the ad is as sexist as some are saying or not go watch the clip for themselves. I can’t believe I just had to write that.

    I once had a female student from Lewis & Clark college say to me after a pornography debate, “I’ve never seen pornography because my religion forbids me from watching it but I’m okay with it.”

  25. 26
    Brian Vaughan says:

    I did watch the ad. My first impression was that it was just plain lame. The sexism in the ad itself, I thought, lay mostly in the way it was an absurd performance by women, for the male gaze — which could have been balanced by an equally absurd performance by men, in which case it wouldn’t have been sexist, just really, really lame. But such things are almost never balanced. That’s how I understood the problem.

    Oh, I didn’t find it even remotely sexy.

  26. 27
    Ginger Mayerson says:

    I hate to get all ladylike on y’all, but Kos could have spared all of us all of this if he’d just been nice about it, or even, dare I say, polite.

    If women’s issues are no longer the issues of the Democratic Party, then I have no idea what’s going to happen in 2008 or the run-up to it. Kos and the boyz need to join with the women of the left, and not tell us to shut the fuck up, which is what he, John Cole and Steve Gillard have done and continue to do in this issue.

  27. 28
    AndiF says:

    Because every serious subject needs a satirical take, go see the very clever and hugely funny graphic at Pie Fight

    Via Shakespeare’s Sister.

    And thanks for the return of the preview.

  28. 29
    Saoba says:

    What keeps coming to my mind throught all this pie fight hubbub is the time a younger friend asked me what to do about her toddler’s newly found fascination with rubbing his penis.

    Bear with me a moment, I’ll try to make that relevant.

    She was a feisty, sex-positve mother with a feisty boy-child. But the kid was rubbing his penis *constantly*, like for over half of his waking hours and in every venue from the living room to the church day care. She didn’t want to quash his sexuality, but enough was enough. So she turned to me as I was visiting one day and asked what the heck she should do.

    I looked at him, smiled gently and suggested that he go to his room if he wanted to touch his penis. The living room, I explained, was for talking and watching television. He blinked and wandered off. He was back within half an hour.

    I don’t *care* if guys like to look at badly made ads of women smearing food over each other’s barely clad bodies. But it’s not something I expect to have to deal with while trying to hold adult conversations on important issues. There’s a time an place for ogling the opposite sex, and there’s a time and place for taking each other’s opinions seriously. The ad, and the attitude, blur that line. It respects neither the issues nor the ogling to mix them.

  29. 30
    Amanda says:

    Okay, as someone who had a big, smelly dog in this fight, my main problem was the attitude issue. Kos treated us like we were no one and lectured us on priorities–telling women to put the war in front of our own bodily integrity! The fact is it’s not an either/or thing.

    I write alot on what feminism is part and parcel of populism. More than anything, Kos’s attitude was undemocratic. He claims he wants a big tent but his and Steve’s reactions indicated they’d be happier with a top-down structure, one that convienently has women at the down.

    Steve has not and will not deal with me. He’s dealt with Lindsay and she utterly destroyed his arguments. He dealt with me initially on his comments but told me that “other” women need to shut the fuck up and when I pulled solidarity with my sisters instead of with A-list bloggers, he quit responding. I think he is more than capable of this, but his mealy-mouthed non-apology to Lindsay made me think him a coward. I know he’s busy. So am I.

    I take my rapid ascent into a “leadership” position very, very, very seriously and I try to use my perch to highlight women’s issues and women who have something to say. I drug my dog into the fight and they to deal with me and it was funny watching men who were telling feminists to sit down and shut up turn around and tell me that they weren’t about to listen to a woman just for party unity. Their hypocrisy is so deep that it makes me tremble.

    Lindsay live amongst these guys and attested they are nice guys. I’m sure they are–I slowly woo men to my side through personality in real life, but they put themselves out as thoughtful men. Think through it and understand, then, idjuts.

  30. 31
    alsis38.99 says:

    “…to put the war in front of our own bodily integrity!…”

    Because warmongering and sexism don’t have any connection. Riiiight.

    Oh, but I must’ve been taught that during my trip through the Women’s Studies Cult. Except that there was no Women’s Studies where I went to school. Must just be hormonal then. :p

    I don’t envy you, Amanda. Nothing personal, but how many eons do you think you’re going to have to spend on Decency & Mutual Respect 101 over and over again with these lazy, overprivileged jackasses ?

  31. 32
    Piter says:

    I’d like to watch that video so I can um… form an opinion on it. However, out of all the links on this thread I could not find a link to the clip.

  32. 33
    Josh Jasper says:

    Thing is, he could have kept the ad, been more polite in his response, and come out of this looking OK. Instead, he acted like an ass.

  33. 34
    mythago says:

    Lindsay live amongst these guys and attested they are nice guys.

    No, they’re not. They’re capable of being friendly and nice when not threatened, or when nobody is asking more of them than “Hey, tell us all why we should agree with you.” Turning into an assclown when anybody suggests you may be imperfect is not a “nice guy” thing.

    I don’t think it’s hypocrisy at all. It’s just selfish crap.

  34. 35
    Omar says:

    Media critics and researchers have published many reports detailing how consumption of pornography affects the way men think of all women.

    Really? Would you mind citing a controlled study?

  35. 36
    ginmar says:

    Lindsay live amongst these guys and attested they are nice guys. I’m sure they are”“I slowly woo men to my side through personality in real life, but they put themselves out as thoughtful men. Think through it and understand, then, idjuts.

    I’m sick of nice, thoughtful guys who don’t seem to see any problem with being nice to some women only some of the time. It’s part of the problem—it’s their ‘ some of my best friends are black’ mindset.

    The ad wasn’t what pissed me off. It was Kos’ bullshit attitude, and the ‘Whee! Titties!” mindset of the guys who gleefully tossed off the constraints of giving a shit about women once the head guy had demonstrated that it was okay. These are our allies? Show me how they differ from our enemies. Oh, yeah, these guys vote for abortion occasionally—when they’re not busy and when it doesn’t get in their way.

    Oh, wait, so do some Republicans.

    Neither party offers much to women. We need our own. Forget this crap of always waiting till the guys are done divvying up the rigths. We’ve been waiting a long enough time and they still keep saying we should just ‘be patient.’ Yeah, Susan B. Anthony got told the same thing.

  36. 37
    Anna in Cairo says:

    I tried to weigh in at Steve’s (not having been a part of Kos’ site so not really fitting in to the discussion there) and was absolutely appalled. I notice his female co-blogger Jen has been silent on the thread.

    I just can’t believe the wilful blindness of liberal men about women’s issues. I think the overobjectification of women is dehumanizing for both men and women, and when women point it out and get ridiculed for being prudes or whatever, it is a real shame coming from a so-called progressive.

    I think like Amanda I will give up though. It makes me really upset. Maybe women should start their own party. We’re a majority after all.

  37. 38
    AndiF says:

    The ad wasn’t what pissed me off. It was Kos’ bullshit attitude, and the ‘Whee! Titties!”? mindset of the guys who gleefully tossed off the constraints of giving a shit about women once the head guy had demonstrated that it was okay.

    Actually, the attitude showed up before Kos in the original diary that complained about the ad. About the only good thing that I can say about Kos’ remarks is that they weren’t nearly as adolescent as most of the crap written in that diary. But Kos’ remarks are much worse because it is his site and he is responsible for determining the tone and he either doesn’t care what kind of atmosphere he sets for women or even worse, he wants to create an unwelcoming atmosphere so that feminists will just go elsewhere and stop distracting his horde from his idea of the important shit.

    But what pisses me off even more (and we just had a session of this in one of Amanda’s posts) is the insistence of a lot of progressive men that we women shouldn’t be complaining about this because we’re being divisive and unreasonable at the same time that they make excuses for the men’s remarks. Not only are they blind to their hypocrisy, they don’t recognize the blatant sexism in their suggestion that ‘shut up, lie back, and take one for the good of the party’.

  38. 39
    AndiF says:

    Damn, even preview can’t save me from myself. That’s

    Not only are they blind to their hypocrisy, they don’t recognize the blatant sexism in their suggestion that we ‘shut up, lie back, and take one for the good of the party’

  39. 40
    cclough says:

    I tried weighing in, especially at Gilliard’s site. I even tried to be reasonable and calm (mostly).

    But it has been less rewarding than trying to have a conversation with a rabid squirrel. I’m tired, and I think I’m throwing in the towel on this one.

    I never expected the outpouring of bile I saw. I’ve never been much of an optomist, but whatever shades of pink were left on my glasses are all gone now.

  40. 41
    Schnee says:

    Why is anyone surprised that Kos acted the way he acted?

    He is constantly pulling the “my dick is bigger than your dick” attitude when he keeps harping on the “101st Flying Keyboard Unit” or whatever they are called. One day it’s Kos against the rightwingers. The next it’s Kos against the feminists. Next it will be Kos against the environmentalists. Etc. He’s not a progressive–he’s a party politics guy. Winning , no matter the costs, is all that counts.

    Is he a horrible person? No. Is he friggin’ near sighted? Yes.

    If he thinks the Dem Party can win without the support of the feminists and pro-choice crowd, he’s sadly mistaken.

    I read his site because there is a lot of good material posted there. But I predict that people will move on to a more progressive friendly website as one becomes available. Especially if he keeps pulling the same sort of attitude and doesn’t put some effort into coalition and community building. Hostility is on the rise and that is the biggest indicator of a community’s health. Increased hostility soon leads to people not feeling welcome or wanting to participate. And then they move on to a place they do feel welcome and find enjoyable.

  41. 42
    Anna in Cairo says:

    I was more surprised by Gilliard’s attitude than Kos’ (I dont know much about Kos). Although a lot of women on the thread pointed out other subtle signs from others of his posts that i had not picked up on. I don’t TRY to read in to what these guys say, but it is so sad when they make it that obvious that women’s concerns are truly unimportant to them in comparison with other stuff so we should all just chill whenever anything happens that seems to us to be misogynistic. For heaven’s sake, why are we suppsoed to be so understanding? We are more than half the population.

  42. 43
    pseu (deja pseu) says:

    To Kos and Steve and all the guys who think that “women’s issues” don’t win elections, I have two words for you: Anita Hill.

  43. 44
    alsis38.99 says:

    Having checked out Shakespeare’s Sister and some other sites yesterday evening, and having reflected on this yet more, I’m even more furious. Do these male fuckwits who try to guilt-trip feminists by saying, “There’s a war on so shut up about your stupid problems” lack any self-awareness at all ? It would seem so, because if they had any, they’d realize how this phrase makes them pretty much carbon copies of the pro-war Right-wing idiots who want anti-war protesters to go home (or to the mall) and keep quiet. Any day now, I expect some male asshole on some blog somewhere to tell us that when we complain about the patronizing stupidity of T&A, the terrorists win. Shit.

  44. 45
    AndiF says:

    Do these male fuckwits who try to guilt-trip feminists by saying, “There’s a war on so shut up about your stupid problems”? lack any self-awareness at all ?

    Yes. They are willfully blind because otherwise they might have to actually examine their attitudes and acknowledge that they are classic mcp’s come back to life (‘oh now honey, dont you worry your pretty little head about this’).

  45. 46
    pseu (deja pseu) says:

    Yeah, and it’s not like the anti-Vietnam folks told the civil rights folks “hey, there’s a war on, we can’t focus on your petty problems right now.” At least, not that I recall.

    And another thought: it’s a form of objectification, treating people as things to be used for our pleasure/entertainment that sets the stage for abuses such as those at Abu Graib and Guantanamo. The guys aren’t connecting the dots on this one because they don’t deal with being objectified on a daily basis.

  46. 47
    alsis38.99 says:

    Yeah, I know, Andi & pseu. Surely it’s my carcinogenic and freakish leg hair that makes me think such thoughts. :/

    Around the time of the first Gulf War, a radical feminist punk friend of mine had a zine (remember those ?), a good one. She pointed out that whether you were standing in a parking lot in Texas at one of those post-victory rah-rah rallies or hung out in NYC with liberal male comic book geeks who wouldn’t be caught dead at a patriotic rally, the common denominator was porn. It was marketed in”independent” comic books or it was purchased at the 7-11 and rolled up in one’s flag-decorated back pocket. Men of both stripes equated obectified women and the right to consume their images with “FREEDOM.” It was the ultimate common denominator between what superficially looked like two opposing camps.

    Nothing ever changes, does it ?

  47. 48
    Amanda says:

    Fair enough, but I guess my larger point about the “nice” thing is that they are being blind, not willfully cruel.

  48. 49
    ginmar says:

    Yeah, well, how blind do you have to be to not see half the population? After a certain point, a certain proportion, I just don’t care what excuses they make. Their blindess accomplishes cruelty.

  49. 50
    Samantha says:

    Omar, media studies is an academic field and widespread cultural behemoth unto itself, and I’m sure with a little looking you won’t have any problem finding lots of controlled research conducted with pornography to pore over.

  50. 51
    AndiF says:

    I’m with ginmar. I went through this in the 60′s and 70′s with guys being patronizing about feminism, acting clueless as to why women would object to being viewed as blow-up sex dolls, making sexist remarks and then spouting the women-have-no-humor crap, reacting to demands for change by telling us not to be such aggressive bitches. After more than 30 years of what I thought was real progress, what can I call it but cruelty to be forced to fight the same fucking battles all over again?

  51. 52
    Robert says:

    After more than 30 years of what I thought was real progress, what can I call it but cruelty to be forced to fight the same fucking battles all over again?

    The sympathetic (really) outside observer suggests that you mistook lip service for progress. They pretended to care about your concerns and your issues, but in reality they were tertiary at best.

  52. 53
    Lee says:

    Robert said, “They pretended to care about your concerns and your issues, but in reality they were tertiary at best.”

    I agree with this. It’s become all about winning and gaining political advantage. What they’d really like to say (but don’t feel it’s necessary to say aloud, because it’s inherent in their behavior) is, “What’s in it for me?” The concept of having core principles and working towards real-world implementation of them has gotten submerged beneath their perception that none of it can happen without them being on top of the heap. And the climb has now become an end in itself.

  53. 54
    alsis38.9 says:

    “”What’s in it for me?”?

    Well, there’s the knowledge that you’ve greatly reduced the chances that the women you care for will be raped, maimed, blinded, killed, rendered infertile, jailed or impoverished.

    Guess that’s not good enough for some guys, however. Empathy is always a one-way street in a sexist world. It’s always women who have to shoulder the burden of understanding the other all by ourselves.

    Same old, same old…

  54. 55
    zuzu says:

    Steve has not and will not deal with me. He’s dealt with Lindsay and she utterly destroyed his arguments. He dealt with me initially on his comments but told me that “other”? women need to shut the fuck up and when I pulled solidarity with my sisters instead of with A-list bloggers, he quit responding. I think he is more than capable of this, but his mealy-mouthed non-apology to Lindsay made me think him a coward.

    He’s extraordinarily thin-skinned about any criticism to his blogging; it’s a rare day when he doesn’t pull out the “start your own blog” thing. He couldn’t, of course, do that with you, so he disengaged because otherwise all he has is bluster. There’s very little he will concede ground on once he makes up his mind. Some of the commenters are worse (and some are much better, which is one reason I bother reading them).

    I read him mostly for the food and the local stuff; maybe it’s time to find other sources for that.

  55. 56
    Amanda says:

    Well, there’s been some progress to be fair. I think more men than ever are doing more than mere lip service.

  56. 57
    AndiF says:

    Well, there’s been some progress to be fair. I think more men than ever are doing more than mere lip service.

    Of course, I know that this is true (well, intellectually — I’m not so sure about emotionally) but to find oneself fighting battles that ought to have been long over with folks that you thought were your allies is very disheartening. It would be like blacks finding themselves battling with the aclu over whether jim crow laws were bad.

  57. 58
    Amanda says:

    To make things worse, Steve put up a post today that was supposed to be “How Not to Get Raped” but it made no sense and he never addressed the fact that when feminists complain about people saying “she was asking for it”, we aren’t suggesting that women shouldn’t take precautions. We’re just saying that the focus needs to be on the guilt of the rapist, not on what the victim did wrong.

    http://stevegilliard.blogspot.com/2005/06/adults-in-adult-situation.html

    This really chaps my hide. I was sexually assaulted by someone I knew well, or at least thought I did. I doubt anyone would suggest that I never, ever befriend a man lest I get raped, but invariably the first thing people want to talk about when a woman is raped is what she did wrong to bring this on herself.

  58. 59
    alsis38.99 says:

    Ask him when he’ll be writing a piece called “How Not To Be A Rapist.” [rolleyes]

  59. 60
    Sheena says:

    pseu:

    “Yeah, and it’s not like the anti-Vietnam folks told the civil rights folks “hey, there’s a war on, we can’t focus on your petty problems right now.”? At least, not that I recall.”

    No, but if I remember Robin Morgan’s “Goodbye to All That” correctly, they did say that to *feminists* at the time. Some things never change.

  60. 61
    pseu says:

    Yes, I do recall feminists getting the brush-off as well. Then as now, racism gets taken seriously by the left, sexism often doesn’t.

  61. 62
    alsis38.99 says:

    I went and read the piece Amanda refers to and was immediately sorry. Some good comments, but also a bunch of macho “hey, liberals can get hot chix, too” braggadocio from the author and some of his “brothers.” As well as the frequent refrain that young men are horndogs who simply can’t control themselves and their sexual urges. :/ Yay.

  62. 63
    AndiF says:

    Okay, what was the consensus earlier about whether they are nice guys or not? Cause if it was that they were nice guys, I want a recount and no diebold machines allowed.

  63. 64
    Jake Squid says:

    Yeah, alsis, I read the piece and….. I don’t think I write all that well, but holy fuck does that guy suck.

    Anyhow, mainstream politics (and, to a large extent, any organized political org) doesn’t give a shit about anything but power. Whatever it takes. Kos is certainly for nothing but having the Dems win. Garrghthpghelm! If you want to push feminist politics, I don’t believe that voting Dem anytime soon will do you any good a’tall. But that’s just me.

  64. 65
    Amanda says:

    I posted about it. They can suck my ass. I spent a lot of time feeling guilty about somehow not stopping my own sexual assault, but now I realize 100% that the responsibility for stopping it belonged to the man who fucking did it.

  65. 66
    Lee says:

    I’m not a particularly good writer, and therefore I’m not volunteering to write it, but I think alsis has a great idea for a post to this blog. (Especially after today’s excellent post on blaming the victim.)

  66. 67
    LC says:

    Judging from what Kos and others said on abortion rights and unions, people like him are willing to sacrifice nearly every policy issue we have because it pisses some people off. I don’t see how Dems are going to get to POLICY is we don’t have unions and globalization, and we don’t have civil liberties(abortion being an important one). If we don’t have those things, we don’t have a platform and there is no need to ever vote Democrat at all.. and then on top if we can’t at least criticize the other party we indeed are truly nothing. It is because of this kind if thinking the we keep LOSING. Kos’ non offensive watered down no speacial interet version of prog/dems isn’t going to get us anywhere, I know because it has been failing miserably for years and ech year the loses are greater. I’m sick of people undercutting liberal politics for being too PC(like th epie fiasco) and then being totally hypocrytical and cutting the teeth out of left wingers because they might offend someone. Let Dean rant, he’s right we need to stand for something or else we might as well go home. People vote Republican because they are loud and won’t shut up, we need some of that, good taste be damned.

  67. 68
    Lee says:

    From the Kos site: “American often place their children in danger by not levelling with them. Or even explaining that people’s morals change on vacation. Adult conversations for people who are adults.

    You send these kids to Aruba, to a situation where they can drink all day, get laid if they have any wit about them, and be adults for the first time. They’re not kids and they’re not in Epcot Center.

    Nor is the media going to say that. They are not going to blame the parents for not being honest, or demanding their kids not drink. Because Natalee Holloway only had limited tools to deal with the adult situation she placed herself in. By drinking, she lowered those odds, but it is likely that her parents, school and chaperones did little to increase her awareness or decisionmaking.”

    I (finally) was able to read this thing all the way to the end; I couldn’t before because I got so annoyed at the early parts.

    So he’s not just blaming the girl for being (probably) kidnapped and (probably) raped and (probably) killed, he’s also blaming her parents? What about the guy(s) who did it? Jeez, I wouldn’t have guessed Kos was supposed to be liberal by reading this post.

  68. 69
    hmmm says:

    You know there’s a big Democratic party retreat this weekend, and I know for a fact that printouts from Kos, Feministe, and others are being circulated by certain very pissed off women in the party who are major players.

    Interesting to know that the first time the upper echelon of the Democratic party hear about Kos, he’s trashing half the party and running a blog that encourages massive amounts of woman-hating talk.

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