4 reasons America is afraid of women with friends

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2014/01/29/4_reasons_americas_afraid_of_women_with_friends/

Wendy Davis is just the beginning — women who band together with other women threaten the status quo

Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014

Erick Erickson is back in the news announcing how proud he is of the moniker “Abortion Barbie,” which he slapped on Wendy Davis earlier this year.  As Jessica Luther eloquently explained, this is the ultimate example of “bad mother” narratives, tacked onto “lying bitch” and “gold-digger” stereotypes. Davis is, however, a particularly unpalatable package to her foes. It’s not only that sexist media outlets are fixated on her mothering in ways that fathering is not an issue for her male peers. No, what’s really challenging about Davis is that she is a public single woman with friends.

What conservatives would like everyone to forget as quickly as possible is moments like this: during Davis’ famous filibuster, state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, surrounded by orange t-shirt clad supporters, asked, ”At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?” It was a rare public display of gender-based solidarity.  How incredibly pushy. And dangerous to the status quo, which is dedicated to policies that undermine efforts of women to act together and challenge systems intent on depriving them of their autonomy.

It’s not true that conservatives don’t like single women.  They love single women and, of course, mothers – if they are vulnerable, dependent, and ashamed, and if they know their place in the “natural” order.  If they are, in other words, isolated and dependent. The role of female friendship is even more important when you consider that single women, single mothers in particular, are often surrounded by other women who support them.   What conservatives cannot confront head on is that Davis is a single mother and visibly not isolated by that fact.  And she’s a public figure. Now, to make matters even worse, it is clear that she’s produced daughters who are like her.  Last night, Dru and Amber Davis publicly wrote letters refuting claims made in the most recent spate of  “bad mother” attacks on their mother.  Is there no end to the Davis women’s shamelessness?

Our brains are bombarded from birth by images and stories of male fraternity and solidarity. Whether it’s school hallways plastered with photos of past presidents, legions of elves and dwarves making their way through Middle Earth, every major animated film made by Pixar, or sports teams that represent their cities, most of our images of collective effort and fellow-feeling are male.

From the time our children can listen to stories, watch movies or pick up a tablet or turn on a radio we ply them with stories that suppress representations of women as friends, as united, and as supportive of one another’s efforts or as heroic.  There are some exceptions, of course, but there is no getting around the avalanche of facts attesting to the marginalization of images of female friendship. A few representative examples:

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2014/01/29/4_reasons_americas_afraid_of_women_with_friends/

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