The author of “Delirium: The Politics of Sex in America” says the extreme right-wing is less popular yet more powerful than we imagine.
By Mandy Van Deven
September 25, 2012
During the 2008 presidential election, historian and political commentator Nancy Cohen became interested in how sex has changed American politics. She was so intrigued by the gender issues that surfaced around Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin that she began working on what would become Delirium: The Politics of Sex in America . The book is a meticulously researched political history of the Democratic self-destruction and Republican stealth that has allowed many of the gains of the sexual revolution to be lost.
In a political climate where women have to debate scientific inaccuracies stated by Republican politicians about “legitimate rape,” where women who use birth control are maligned as “sluts,” and where all-male congressional hearings are held to determine women’s right to control their own bodies, Delirium is a welcome font of clarity. Although Cohen couldn’t have anticipated the degree to which sexual rights would be the focus of the 2012 election, her book provides germane guidance for progressive activists who wish to secure four more years of a Democratic presidency.
Mandy Van Deven: Why are we still talking about the legitimacy of birth control in America?
Nancy Cohen: This is precisely the question we should all be asking ourselves right now. To paraphrase James Carville, it’s the vagina, stupid. This is not just temporary insanity triggered by the fear of a black president. It’s not a populist backlash. We are having debates about the legitimacy of birth control in 2012 as a result of a multi-decade-long right-wing movement to take back the rights that women won during and after the sexual revolution in the 1960s. The long-term roots of this movement and what it means for the future is the story we need to focus on today.
From The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/naomi-wolf/vagina-travelogues_b_1917286.html
Friday: I get a glimpse of my life ahead for the next little while. American publishers send authors their copies of books in big boxes labelled with the title. My doorman approaches me in the lobby, gesturing with some consternation at a three-foot cardboard box marked, “Vagina.” “Is this yours?” he asks.
Saturday: Getting ready to fly to the UK for the launch. Two excerpts have run already, in the Times and the Guardian. My inbox is full of emails from the UK — all adding to the growing mass of emails I received from women throughout the West about the dearth of information on sexual-health issues that affect them.
A young woman transitioning surgically from female to male — whose neural anatomy was never explained to her by her doctor — tells me that she got more information about her body from my book than she had from her physicians; a woman from an organization for women who have a rare disorder — genetically female but born without fully developed vaginas — explains to me that the bias in pediatric surgery is toward building up “underdeveloped” penises in intersex babies, and that the male-dominated profession doesn’t care as much about researching vaginas; so many of the women in her support group suffer bad medical outcomes.
Legendary AIDS researcher Larry Kramer points out that at the forefront of AIDS research, there are mysteries about the transmission of the AIDS virus in the vagina because — few scientists want to study the vagina, or research is underfunded. Finally many emails arrive from UK women who have had back injuries, even as minor as slipped disks — and have sexual side effects — who tell me that the NHS doctors are perpetually telling them they are hysterical.
Continue reading at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/naomi-wolf/vagina-travelogues_b_1917286.html
From RH Reality Check: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/09/21/much-ado-about-naomi-wolfs-vagina
by Sarah Seltzer, RH Reality Check
September 24, 2012
In her new book, Vagina: A Biography, Naomi Wolf, author of the much-lauded, The Beauty Myth, espouses the concept of an intrinsic “brain-vagina connection.” She spends hundreds of pages trying to back her theory up and urges women to follow her into liberation via vaginal appreciation. But don’t be fooled: Naomi Wolf’s Vagina (the book) is, in fact, about Naomi Wolf’s vagina, and not about anyone else’s.
Okay, so I am probably the 1,000th feminist reviewer to make this joke. Forgive me; I’ll add a new one to the mix. I’ve been reading the tome on my Nook, an act that gives the moniker of that e-reading device a whole new connotation.
I should add that I’m probably also among dozens of feminist reviewers who have begun their own pieces on the book by appreciatively rounding up others’ words (Sisterhood is powerful!) Below I choose a few of my favorite highfalutin’ vagina zingers leveled at Wolf this month. If you read them in order, you’ll get a sense of both Wolf’s main thesis and the general thrust—no pun intended—of the critique of said thesis.
Jaclyn Friedman takes on Wolf’s regressive insistence that biology is destiny: “She claims to want to undo the ways in which women are reduced to their genitals, but spends most of her project telling us that, as goes the vagina, so goes the woman.” Katha Pollit pounces on the same fundamental problem of logic, and lambastes the self-centered way that Wolf insists on said destiny: “Unfortunately, having ‘discovered’ that every woman is sexually unique, she proceeds to write 300 more pages arguing that they are all the same, i.e., just like Naomi Wolf.”
In the pages of the New York Review of Books, Zoe Heller notes that this narcissistic approach to actual science and politics has a dangerous edge:
Continue reading at: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/09/21/much-ado-about-naomi-wolfs-vagina
From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/26/greece-violence-general-strike-austerity
Violence erupted in the heart of Athens as mass protests against further austerity measures in crisis-hit Greece escalated on Wednesday.
Police fired tear gas at crowds throwing rocks and petrol bombs. The exchange disrupted an otherwise peaceful march through the capital by up to 200,000 demonstrators participating in a general strike, the first big confrontation with Greece’s three-month-old coalition government.
Industrial action, hailed as a triumph by unions, brought the country almost to a standstill, grounding flights, disrupting transport and shutting public services including tourist sites.
The governing coalition, under immense pressure to pass yet more cuts by international creditors keeping the moribund Greek economy afloat, had ordered bulletproof barriers to be erected around the parliament but had hoped the protests would end peacefully.
As smoke rose over parts of the city and protesters donned gas masks, it was clear those hopes had been dashed. About 3,000 officers – twice the number usually deployed – had been standing guard in central Athens as authorities braced for rioting.
Continue reading at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/26/greece-violence-general-strike-austerity
From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/25/spain-public-financial-coup
The attempt by the Spanish “Occupy” movement, the indignados, to surround the Congress in Madrid has been compared by the secretary general of the ruling rightwing People’s party (PP) to an attempted coup.
Spanish democracy may indeed be in peril, but the danger is not in the streets. According to the Financial Times, the EU has been in secret talks with the economy minister Luis de Guindos to implement further austerity measures in advance of Spain requesting a full bailout. On Thursday the government will announce structural reforms and additional spending reductions, on top of the already huge cutbacks in health and education.
Pre-empting the bailout conditions means the government is able to retain the illusion of sovereignty.
In reality, Spain is on the brink of insolvency and under huge pressure to accept a rescue package. In return, the eurozone’s fourth largest economy will have to surrender sovereign and financial control to the IMF, the European commission, and the European Central Bank.
If talk of a financial coup d’etat sounds far-fetched, consider this statement from a recent Goldman Sachs report: “The more the Spanish administration indulges domestic political interests … the more explicit conditionality is likely to be demanded.” That’s banker-speak for, “We can do this the easy way, or the hard way.”
Continue reading at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/25/spain-public-financial-coup
From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-mckibben/transcanada-turns-sadisti_b_1917264.html
Watching from a distance is hard. I’m on the move setting up our big roadshow assault on the fossil fuel industry, but the real action is in Texas, where a growing number of blockaders are trying to shut down work on the southern section of the Keystone Pipeline — and where TransCanada, according to the people at the Tar Sands Blockade, is turning more than a little sadistic.
Here’s the story from this morning, as it’s been emerging from a flurry of emails and tweets. (No video — police aren’t letting journalists or observers near the site). There are eight — no, now nine — people in makeshift tree houses in a grove of forest that TransCanada needs to obliterate to push their pipeline through. It’s on private land that was taken with threat of eminent domain, a tactic that the company has used repeatedly to bully landowners from Nebraska to Texas, but despite the protests of everyone from Sierra Clubbers to Tea Partiers, TransCanada is going ahead full bore with construction.
Until this morning when, in an effort to protect those tree-sitters, two other protesters locked themselves (one arm each) to the logging equipment. This slowed operations and it angered the police.
Continue reading at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-mckibben/transcanada-turns-sadisti_b_1917264.html