Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Rebecca Walker, Paul Krugman Take Stands

More excellent follow-up to Steinem's New York Times op-ed now up over at HuffPo from third waver (and GS goddaughter) Rebecca Walker, titled "The Fence." As in on the fence. As in the fence often constructed between second-wave and third-wave feminists. Writes Walker,

Young women are not stupid. The idea that young women are too naive to realize the pervasiveness of sexism is an old Second Wave trope used to dismiss and discredit an entire generation, many of whom now support Obama because he doesn't insult them. As a result, there are a few women lining up behind the "feminist" placard, but many more running in the other direction.

Yes. And it's so very important that we are talking about this. In my effort to keep us focused and informed, too, on additional issues, check out Paul Krugman's latest column on the candidates' stances on economic policy in light of the latest round of bad news. Explains Krugman,
On the Democratic side, John Edwards, although never the front-runner, has been driving his party’s policy agenda. He’s done it again on economic stimulus: last month, before the economic consensus turned as negative as it now has, he proposed a stimulus package including aid to unemployed workers, aid to cash-strapped state and local governments, public investment in alternative energy, and other measures.

Last week Hillary Clinton offered a broadly similar but somewhat larger proposal. (It also includes aid to families having trouble paying heating bills, which seems like a clever way to put cash in the hands of people likely to spend it.) The Edwards and Clinton proposals both contain provisions for bigger stimulus if the economy worsens....

The Obama campaign’s initial response to the latest wave of bad economic news was, I’m sorry to say, disreputable: Mr. Obama’s top economic adviser claimed that the long-term tax-cut plan the candidate announced months ago is just what we need to keep the slump from “morphing into a drastic decline in consumer spending.” Hmm: claiming that the candidate is all-seeing, and that a tax cut originally proposed for other reasons is also a recession-fighting measure — doesn’t that sound familiar?

Anyway, on Sunday Mr. Obama came out with a real stimulus plan. As was the case with his health care plan, which fell short of universal coverage, his stimulus proposal is similar to those of the other Democratic candidates, but tilted to the right.

For example, the Obama plan appears to contain none of the alternative energy initiatives that are in both the Edwards and Clinton proposals, and emphasizes across-the-board tax cuts over both aid to the hardest-hit families and help for state and local governments. I know that Mr. Obama’s supporters hate to hear this, but he really is less progressive than his rivals on matters of domestic policy.

In short, the stimulus debate offers a pretty good portrait of the men and woman who would be president. And I haven’t said a word about their hairstyles.

So here's my concern: Third-wave feminism is about incorporating into one's feminism other movements like those focused on the environment, and, of course, class, and progressive economic policies. And it's complicated. The very fact of a black man and a white woman running for the nation's top office seems to be forcing women of color into what was once thought the narrow second-wave position of having to choose.


katka said...

I hope they get a chance to choose at all. From the AP today:

The court case was in Nevada, where a few of Clinton's supporters sought to force a change in groundrules for next Saturday's caucuses.
Their objective was to prevent several caucuses along the Las Vegas strip, where thousands of Culinary Workers Union employees - many of them Hispanic or black - hold jobs.
The rules were approved in March, when the former first lady was the overwhelming national front-runner in the race. But the union voted to endorse Obama last week, and the lawsuit followed.

Deborah Siegel said...


But wait, if it was Clinton's supporters who did this, likely not sanctioned by her campaign (I HOPE)? Will be curious to hear more.

katka said...

Well, she didn't condemn it, or express any kind of disagreement with the suit, and she certainly didn't ask her supporters to drop it.
And UGH on Obama's economic policy so far. I hope he comes up with better.
Triple Yay for Bob Herbert. Maybe he should be pres. I love everything he writes.
I'll vote for the dem nominee in the general, whoever, of course. That's the main thing. But do you think Girl with Pen could feature a guest column by a feminist (first/second/third) who actually feels a little ambivalent about Clinton (not ambivalent a female candidate, which we all can cheer, but this particular one?)

Deborah Siegel said...

"But do you think Girl with Pen could feature a guest column by a feminist (first/second/third) who actually feels a little ambivalent about Clinton (not ambivalent a female candidate, which we all can cheer, but this particular one?)"

MOST DEFINITELY! Bring it on! Send it to me and I will most definitely post, Katka.

Anonymous said...

I am not a big fan of Rebecca Walker. She seems to have alot of animosity at her mother in articles and interviews I have read about her and with her. In the mean time where are all these third wave feminists fighting against contemporary gender bias.

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