I Guess Women Aren’t That Good At Writing After All

As a blogger and writer still working on my first book I receive mail from “She Writes”, a mailing list for women writers.  And I just know many of you think the struggle for women’s equality has been won and that male privilege is a thing of the past but…

From She Writes:
Wow, did I feel good yesterday. 5000 women writers here. A depth and breadth of talent that takes my breath away. We write fiction, we write memoir, we write scifi; we are bestsellers, we are award winners, we are just starting out; we are working hard, we are writing well; we are…not as good at it as men are.

Or at least that seems to be the opinion of Publishers’ Weekly, which published its “Best Books of 2009” list on November 2nd and could not see its way to including a single book by a woman without destroying its integrity or betraying its unassailable good taste. Apparently books by women just aren’t as good. Sorry, girls! Poor PW, they felt really badly about it. According to the novelist and journalist Louisa Ermelino, the editors at PW bent over backwards to be objective as they chose the Best Books of the year. “We ignored gender and genre and who had the buzz. We gave fair chance to the ‘big’ books of the year, but made them stand on their own two feet. It disturbed us when we were done that our list was all male.”

It “disturbed” you? In what way exactly? Like, did it make you think, “we are insane?” Try to imagine if they had come out with a list of the Best Books of 2009 and it had included ZERO MEN. Try to imagine if Amazon had released its Best Books of 2009 and it had included only TWO men. I know it’s hard. But just try.

And in case you think ALL men got the star treatment from PW, you should also know that only ONE of the men on the list isn’t a white dude. Naturally he is the dude on the cover. (More on that in a post to come.)

I have never felt clearer about why I started She Writes. It is time to start making our own lists. On that note I am issuing our first She Writes call to action. Tell us what YOU believe are the top ten best books of 2009 thus far. Written by men or women, please — fiction or nonfiction. Be as objective as you can, with the awareness that lists of the “best” anything are subjective in the end. We are not trying to generate a list of books only by women. I’m guessing there will be some overlap with the lists Amazon and PW put together. I am also guessing we will somehow, some way, find a book or two by a woman that can stand on its own two feet.

Click here to give us your list of the Top Ten Best Books of 2009.

We will announce our She Writes Top Ten list two weeks from today.

In the meantime, I will be featuring posts from our membership on this subject. Please feel free to share your lists and alert me when you do. Cate Marvin and Erin Belieu, co-founders of the much needed new literary organization WILLA (Women in Letters and Literary Arts), will be discussing their reaction to PW’s list (and Amazon’s) in a conversation we will post on She Writes in the next few days.

A parting thought: my friend and colleague Gloria Feldt, who also happens to be one of the most inspiring and important thought-leaders on women and leadership in the country, likes to cite a pair of statistics that speak volumes: women make 85% of the consumer buying decisions in this country; women are 17% of Congress.

Here’s another one for you: 65% of books sold in the U.S. are purchased by women; women wrote 0% of the Best Books of 2009. Really

Must Read Book Recommendation: When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present

On Thursday I picked up Gail Collins book: When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present

I am about 80 pages into it and I am constantly going yes I remember.  I was born in 1947 and came of age in 1965 so I entered adulthood at the same time as the anti-war movement, the birth of second wave feminism and the gay and lesbian liberation movements.

From about 1960 onward my parents knew of my transsexualism.  Our lives were like a Tennessee Williams or Edward Albee drama as they came to see that my being a teen queen transkid was not something I was going to grow out of.  It speaks highly of my parents working class liberal values that they did not throw me to the wolves by kicking me out and instead let me finish school.  Even encouraging me along with the yelling.

My mother read Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique as soon as it came out in paperback.  When she finished it she handed it to me and said, “You really think you  want to be a woman.  You had better read this and learn what it really means to be a woman, maybe you will change your mind.”

It didn’t change my mind but it prepared me for the reality sandwich I had to eat when I came out in 1969.  The glow lasted perhaps a few days and then the analysis set in and I was on the path to becoming a full blown feminist as the alternative was unacceptable.

I can start fights among people with either transsexualism or transgenderism simply by mentioning the phrase “male privilege”.  Oh the denial and gnashing of teeth and the wailing claims of never having had male privilege, when simply not being made in to a little princess and being raised to be the subject and not the object is male privilege.

Buy the book.  Read it.  It is a Red Pill that helps you to see reality in a world where mass media fills our heads with bullshit aimed at selling us oppressive gender roles along with the cheap crap from China.

Posted in Culture, Feminist, Gender, History, Misogyny, Sexism, Social Justice, Unequal Treatment. Comments Off on Must Read Book Recommendation: When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present

The Next Phase of Healthcare Apartheid

Published on Thursday, November 5, 2009 by CommonDreams.org

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/11/05

by Norman Solomon

In Washington, “healthcare reform” has degenerated into a sick joke.

At this point, only spinners who’ve succumbed to their own vertigo could use the word “robust” to describe the public option in the healthcare bill that the House Democratic leadership has sent to the floor.

“A main argument was that a public plan would save people money,” the New York Times has noted. But the insurance industry — claiming to want a level playing field — has gotten the Obama administration to bulldoze the plan. “After House Democratic leaders unveiled their health care bill [on October 29], the Congressional Budget Office said the public plan would cost more than private plans and only 6 million people would sign up.”

At its best, “the public option” was a weak remedy for the disastrous ailments of the healthcare system in the United States. But whatever virtues the public option may have offered were stripped from the bill en route to the House floor.

What remains is a Rube Goldberg contraption that will launch this country into a new phase of healthcare apartheid.

People who scrape together enough money to buy health insurance will discover that they’re riding in the back of the nation’s healthcare bus. The most “affordable” policies will be the ones with the highest deductibles and the worst coverage.

We’re hearing that large numbers of lower-income Americans will be provided with Medicaid coverage in the next decade. Translation: If funding holds up, they’ll get to hang onto a bottom rung of the healthcare ladder. Many will not be able to get the medical help they need, from primary care providers or specialists.

Not long ago, we were told that the Obama administration was aiming for a public option that could provide coverage to one out of every four Americans. Now the figure is around one out of every fifty.

Not long ago, the idea was that taxpayer-funded subsidies were to be used only for the public option. But now the entire concept has been hijacked by and for the private insurance industry. As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put it on October 8, private insurance companies “are going to get 50 million new consumers, many of them subsidized by the taxpayers.”

Pelosi was making the argument that the least the insurance industry could do, in return, would be to accept a higher level of taxation. But her comment was a telling acknowledgment that all the “public option” proposals now provide a massive funnel from the U.S. Treasury to the insurance conglomerates. The individual mandate is a monumental giveaway to private insurance firms.

The specter of “healthcare reform” that requires individuals to stretch their personal finances for often-abysmal insurance coverage is the worst of all worlds — government intrusion for corporate benefit without any guarantees of decent health coverage.

In effect, the individual-mandate requirement tells people that obtaining health coverage is ultimately their own responsibility — and the quality of the coverage is beside the point. In essence, when it comes to guaranteeing quality healthcare for all, the gist of the policy is: “Let’s not, and say we did.”

The predictable result is reinforcement of vast — and often deadly — inequities in access to healthcare.

With Washington making such a corporate mess of “healthcare reform,” the best way to get what we need — healthcare for all as a human right — will be to enact single-payer healthcare in one state after another.

But the House Democratic leadership has not been content to serve up a grimly pathetic “healthcare reform” bill. Speaker Pelosi has used her political leverage to quash Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s amendment — approved months ago by the Education and Labor Committee — that would grant waivers so that states could create their own single-payer system. Pelosi removed the Kucinich amendment from the House bill.

The California legislature has twice passed a strong single-payer bill, both times vetoed by the state’s current execrable governor. The official position of the California Democratic Party is unequivocally in favor of single-payer healthcare. And yet Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, did what she could to sabotage the single-payer position of her own party in her own state.

Sickening.

Norman Solomon is a journalist, historian, and progressive activist. His book “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death [1]” has been adapted into a documentary film of the same name. His most recent book is “Made Love, Got War. [2]” He is a national co-chair of the Healthcare NOT Warfare [3] campaign. In California, he is co-chair of the Commission on a Green New Deal for the North Bay; www.GreenNewDeal.info [4].

Posted in Economic Issues, Health Care, Politics, Uncategorized, Unequal Treatment. Comments Off on The Next Phase of Healthcare Apartheid

Dennis Kucinich: Why Is It We Have Finite Resources for Health Care but Unlimited Money for War?

Why Is It We Have Finite Resources for Health Care But Unlimited Money for War?
by Dennis Kucinich, OpEd News

Friday 06 November 2009

Washington – Following a statement on the Floor of the House of Representative, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement:

“Why is it we have finite resources for health care but unlimited money for war?

“The inequities in our economy are piling up: trillions for war, trillions for Wall Street and tens of billions for the insurance companies. Banks and other corporations are sitting on piles of cash of taxpayer’s money while firing workers, cutting pay and denying small businesses money to survive.

“People are losing their homes, their jobs, their health, their investments, their retirement security; yet there is unlimited money for war, Wall Street and insurance companies, but very little money for jobs on Main Street.

“Unlimited money to blow up things in Iraq and Afghanistan, and relatively little money to build things in the US.

“The Administration may soon bring to Congress a request for an additional $50 billion for war. I can tell you that a Democratic version of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is no more acceptable than a Republican version of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Trillions for war and Wall Street, billions for insurance companies… When we were promised change, we weren’t thinking that we give a dollar and get back two cents.”

Dennis Kucinich is a congressman from Ohio and a 2008 presidential primary candidate. http://kucinich.us/

Posted in Culture, Health Care, Human Rights, Politics, Questioning Authority, Social Justice. Comments Off on Dennis Kucinich: Why Is It We Have Finite Resources for Health Care but Unlimited Money for War?

How Does a Religious Cult Have the Clout to Delay Health Care Vote?

From AlterNet

By Adele Stan, AlterNet
Posted on November 6, 2009, Printed on November 7, 2009
http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/www.alternet.org/143797/

Just when it seemed the stars were aligning for an historic vote tomorrow on health-care reform legislation in the House of Representatives, anti-choice Democrats are balking, saying that the plan would permit the indirect flow of federal dollars to fund abortion.

Led by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., a member of the Capitol Hill religious cult known as The Family, and spurred on by the Catholic bishops, anti-abortion Dems are contesting the fact that some small number of private insurance plans offered via the bill’s insurance exchange scheme may offer coverage for abortion — even therapeutic abortion. Where the federal dollars come in is via the subsidies for which lower-income people would be eligible for buying insurance through the exchange.

Politico‘s Patrick O’Connor reports on the church’s influence at the negotiating table:

Negotiators are working closely with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to finalize language the church can accept. Vulnerable anti-abortion Democrats don’t want to support any bill that the bishops haven’t signed off on.

Last time I looked, abortion was a legal medical procedure in the United States. The changes the church wants would virtually forbid abortion coverage, even for women carrying fetuses without a chance of surviving outside the womb. The church seeks to codify its contempt for women into U.S. law, dooming a woman already facing a tragic pregnancy to compromise her life and health — mental and physical — apparently for the sin of having had sex.

As the legislation stands, no federal dollars would directly cover an abortion, and the public plan will offer no abortion coverage. But that’s not enough for the men of the cloth.

The question remains, of course, as to whether this is an issue truly of moral conscience, or just a trick for stalling health-care reform. At Michele Bachmann’s disinform-athon yesterday on the Capitol steps, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins alleged, untruthfully, that the bill announced last week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi covers abortion, as did several members of Congress. The Family Research Council is a Republican-allied group.

Also creating problems for Pelosi is conservative consternation over the ability for undocumented immigrants to buy private health insurance — using their own money — through the exchange. Already locked out of Medicaid, the government plan for the poor, undocumented workers have few options for getting any kind of health care — and few would be able to afford even the plans offered on the exchange.

Nonetheless, conservaDems apparently feel compelled to maintain a punitive stance toward the people who pick our produce and clean our toilets, in order to assuage the resentment of their constituents. Truth is, it’s really bad economics to completely lock the undocumented out of health-insurance reforms, since they’ll likely wind up in emergency rooms in the expensive, late stages of illness.

Hospital emergency rooms are forbidden to people away for ability to pay — a circumstance that many Republicans would like to change. Their message: if the severe poverty your nation suffers (partly because the U.S. sucks up all the world’s resources) drove you to cross the border at extreme personal risk so you could feed your family, you deserve to die a painful, untreated death. Nice. But until Republicans prevail with their death-camps-for-aliens plan, emergency rooms remain on the hook for the care of very sick undocumented immigrants, whose care we all ultimately pay for in the form of higher health care costs for all.

Meanwhile, mainstream media are speculating that conservative Democrats are getting wobbly on health-care reform because of yesterday’s ugly unemployment numbers (10 percent nationally) and the party’s gubernatorial losses in Virginia and New Jersey.

Neither of these rationales for stepping back from a yes vote makes a whit of sense. Health-care reform makes good economic sense, and it will serve as an economic stimulus as new jobs are created as the building of new systemic health-care infrastructures get under way. Our current health-care system, if you can even call it that, is a job-killer, not a job creator.

As for the east-coast governors’ races, both turned on local concerns — not health-care reform.

Now, can we all stop being stupid?

Lost in all this wrangling is the major coup scored by Pelosi yesterday when AARP, which claims to represent some 40 million Americans over the age of 50, endorsed the House bill, backing the bill’s cost-cutting of Medicare through a crack-down on fraud and abuse.

The vote remains scheduled for tomorrow, but many expect it to be delayed until at least Sunday, perhaps Monday. Tomorrow, President Barack Obama will visit reluctant lawmakers on Capitol Hill, hoping to twist some Democratic arms.

Meanwhile, Republicans continue their disinformation campaign, seeking to convince fearful Americans that the health-care bill will end all private plans, force them to pay for frivolous abortions, cut benefits from Medicare, sink the economy and create a Marxist-fascist-socialist dictatorship.

Nice.

Adele M. Stan is AlterNet’s Washington editor.

© 2009 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/www.alternet.org/143797/
Posted in Health Care, Religion, Social Justice. Comments Off on How Does a Religious Cult Have the Clout to Delay Health Care Vote?