Hillary Clinton’s problem? We just don’t trust women

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/22/hillary-clinton-women-trust

It’s incredible that voters consider Donald Trump more honest than his opponent. But it’s sadly in line with society’s double standards

Thursday 22 September 2016

Blues legend BB King once sang: “Never trust a woman, until she’s dead and buried.” Sadly, it’s a sentiment that sounds just at home in our current political discourse as it does an old song: while this week’s NBC/WSJ poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump in general support, voters consider Trump more “honest and straightforward” than Clinton by 10 points.

Let’s take a moment to consider this. A candidate whose first campaign ad was judged by one site to contain one lie every four seconds and who, according to Huffington Post, told over 70 lies in just one televised town hall; a man who one philosopher argues has “perfected the outrageous untruth as a campaign tool”, is considered more honest than his opponent.

This isn’t a new problem for Clinton – a CNN poll from July found that only 30% of people surveyed found Clinton trustworthy, while 43% thought Trump was. It’s also not a new issue for American women.

The notion that women are fundamentally untrustworthy snakes through almost every area of our lives. Managers distrust women who ask for flextime; women who show anger are less trusted than their male counterparts; and people think the more makeup a woman wears, the less trustworthy she is. (In fact, there is a trove of “don’t trust women” memes inspired by before-and-after pictures of women with makeup.)

Republican policies and conservative thought, too, rely on this belief. Legislators have tried to pass laws that would mandate women get written permission from men before obtaining abortions, or have suggested that rape and incest exceptions would give way to women lying about abuse. There is a reason that one of the phrases most often used by the pro-choice community is “trust women”.

When it comes to sexual assault or domestic violence, victims – the vast majority of whom are women – are still widely disbelieved. When Amber Heard brought charges against her then-husband Johnny Depp, she was accused of fabricating the allegations to extort him in their divorce settlement. Only when a video of Depp appearing to behave aggressively was released and Heard donated millions from the settlement to a charity did the scrutiny slow. There are literally dozens of women who have accused Bill Cosby of rape, and still there are people who believe every single one of them is making it up, something I find barely credible. The way that the police doubt sexual assault victims has even been shown to be part of the reason we have such a backlog of untested rape kits: officers treat women shoddily and they don’t want to come back to pursue charges.

When we don’t trust women, when we disbelieve them even in the face of thoroughly convincing evidence, everyone suffers.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/22/hillary-clinton-women-trust

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Alicia Keys and the ‘Tyranny of Makeup’

From The New York Times:

It was the Friday before Labor Day, and Alicia Keys, the 35-year-old pop star, was on the “Today” show performing for the program’s summer concert series — she’s about to release a new album, and she wrote the theme song for “Queen of Katwe,” out next week. There was a lot to talk about. But instead, Ms. Keys spent most of her time talking about makeup (and not wearing it) with the anchors Tamron Hall, Billy Bush and Al Roker, who were doggedly wiping the pancake off their faces.

“You’re all crazy,” said Ms. Keys, swabbing Ms. Hall’s cheeks. “This isn’t even what it’s about!”

“It” is #nomakeup — a meme, a movement, a cri de coeur — that has been roiling social media for months. If you missed the kerfuffle, it started in May, when Ms. Keys wrote an essay for Lenny, Lena Dunham’s online magazine, about the insecurities she felt being a woman in the public eye, and the roles (and makeup) she put on over the years to armor herself. She wrote about the anxiety she endured if she left her house unadorned: “What if someone wanted a picture? What if someone posted it?” And then, when she went without makeup or styling for an album portrait, she felt liberated, and the act became a metaphor. “I hope to God it’s a revolution,” she wrote.

In the months that followed, Ms. Keys was seemingly everywhere — always without makeup, always beautiful — performing at the Democratic National Convention, on “The Voice” and the MTV Video Music Awards, at the Tom Ford show during New York Fashion Week.

That’s a nice story, right? Inspiring and kind of sweet? Feh. “Makeup-gate 2016,” as The New York Post and others called it, has grown only weirder and louder, as Twitter was at first ignited with Alicia Keys supporters, and then flooded with a backlash against her. And then with the backlash to the backlash. #Nomakeup was empowering and brave. No, it was annoying, incendiary and invasive. Ms. Keys’s (mostly female) detractors howled at her disingenuousness (surely she had spent thousands on skin care?) and her deceit (surely she was wearing tinted moisturizer?); some slammed her for not looking pretty enough (though they used coarser words than those).

Late last month, Swizz Beatz, Ms. Keys’s husband, took to Instagram with a video defending his wife: “This is deep,” he said, clearly incredulous. “Somebody’s sitting home mad, because somebody didn’t wear makeup on their face?”

Don’t be surprised that this is news, said Letty Cottin Pogrebin, the second-wave feminist activist and author. “It’s all so familiar,” she said. “Alicia Keys could be taking a page from the no-makeup orthodoxy of the women’s movement 40 years ago. I’d never heard of her before this brouhaha, but now I’ll follow her anywhere. What she’s doing is pop-consciousness-raising. She’s not just talking about the tyranny of makeup. She’s talking about female authenticity. She’s challenging the culture’s relentless standards of feminine conformity and the beauty industry’s incessant product hype.”

(Ms. Pogrebin said that while she was reading Ms. Keys’s essay, an ad popped up for some kind of skin cream.)

Why is it, wondered Linda Wells, founding editor of Allure magazine, that fashion is considered self-expression and makeup is self-absorption? Or something more pernicious? Ms. Wells recalled “The Beauty Myth,” Naomi Wolf’s 1991 book in which she argued that contemporary ideals of beauty, proposed in large part by a male-dominated cosmetics industry, were enslaving women and holding them in thrall to all manner of restrictive practices, from makeup to surgery to eating disorders. “I get the argument, but I don’t agree with it,” Ms. Wells said. “To me, we’re not all passive victims. Make your choice, like Alicia Keys. Decide what makes you feel confident and enjoy it.”

Continue reading at:   http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/15/fashion/alicia-keys-no-makeup-beauty-movement.html

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With Housing Costs Sky-High, the Commune Makes a Comeback

From Realtor.com:  http://www.realtor.com/news/trends/commune/?is_wp_site=1

By Clare Trapasso
September 21, 2016

Several years ago Aurora DeMarco, 53, was having health problems. The divorced masseuse and hospice care provider was stressed, depressed, and overwhelmed by all the upkeep of her three-bedroom condo in the tony Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope, known for its majestic brownstones and trendy boutiques. And she hated that simply meeting a friend in one of the nearby artisanal coffee shops had become “astronomically expensive.”

“Life was a grind,” says DeMarco. “It was a lot of money, time, and effort to maintain that lifestyle.”

So two years ago, DeMarco left it all behind.

In the glorious ’60s, we might have said that she turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. Or maybe we’d just cut to the chase and say that she joined a commune. In fact, DeMarco did the modern-day equivalent: She joined “an intentional community,” a group-living arrangement that in some ways harks back to the heyday of hippies. It’s becoming an increasingly popular lifestyle choice for more mainstream residents as rents, home prices, and the cost of living just keep rising.

She now pays $810 a month for her own room in a 10-bedroom house in New York City’s Staten Island as part of the Ganas community. The 75-member group is spread out over eight buildings in the neighborhood. And the best part for DeMarco, who still works outside the community, is everyone shares in the burden of cooking and other daily chores.

“I feel like I have a support network,” DeMarco says. “I’m not so much on the hamster wheel.”

DeMarco is one of a growing number of individuals in recent years who have sought out intentional communities, where people with the same ideals live and work together to achieve them. Some indeed fit the classic ’60s definition of communes—where members have jobs in their communities and share finances, lifestyles, everything. Others are modern varieties of co-housing communities, such as eco-villages where participants strive to be more environmentally friendly.

Continue reading at:  http://www.realtor.com/news/trends/commune/?is_wp_site=1

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Elizabeth Warren Campaigns for Hillary Clinton in Columbus, Ohio (9/17/2016)

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How Republicans Are Inciting Right-Wing Violence After Election Day

From Rolling Stone:  http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/republicans-inciting-right-wing-violence-after-election-day-w439871

In latest incident, Kentucky’s governor said a Clinton presidency may necessitate bloodshed

September 14, 2016

Over the past several days, pundits and voters alike have been up in arms over “careless” comments made by the Democratic and Republican campaigns. Republicans have whipped themselves into a frenzy over Hillary Clinton daring to characterize half of Donald Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables,” despite the fact that data supports her claim of Trump’s voters being racist xenophobes. (If anything, she underestimated the number.) On the other side of the aisle, Democrats have been hammering Trump’s VP pick, Mike Pence, for refusing to fully denounce former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. Yet, despite Pence’s political cowardice and Clinton’s jarring honesty, the most troubling comment of late wasn’t made by any of the nominees. It was uttered by Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, who, in a speech at the Values Voter Summit Saturday, said conservatives might have to resort to bloodshed for the nation to “recover” from a Clinton presidency.

“I want us to be able to fight ideologically, mentally, spiritually, economically, so that we don’t have to do it physically. But that may, in fact, be the case,” he said.

“I do think it would be possible [for the nation to recover], but at what price?” he went on. “The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood of who? The tyrants, to be sure, but who else? The patriots. Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren.”

Bevin’s comments amounted to the dangerous rantings of a treasonous political figure. To see them any other way is to willfully ignore America’s history of white, Christian, right-wing violence.

The governor wasn’t talking to soccer moms when he talked about shedding blood over a Clinton presidency. He was playing dog-whistle politics at a time when our nation’s citizenry includes a growing number of resentful, irrational, heavily armed pseudo-patriots – a basket of deplorables, you might say.

Despite how white conservatives profess to love “law and order,” history shows that to be selectively enforced rhetoric. America was established with rifles and gun powder, and then those same tools were used to maintain status-quo subjugation over minority groups for centuries. This violence is how America “negotiated” with Native peoples and created a massive, unpaid, brutalized workforce. It’s how America freed itself from British colonial rule, only to ensure said freedom wasn’t granted to black folks. It’s how America responded to black sharecroppers who attempted to unionize, economically self-sufficient and thriving black communities, black children who tried to integrate into schools, black students who sat at lunch counters with their white neighbors, and black people who simply wanted the right to vote.

But it’s how that history of white conservative violence connects with our modern-day society that makes Bevin’s comments so alarming. Since Barack Obama was elected president, the number of armed right-wing militias in the country has exploded, from 42 in 2008 to 276 in 2016 – a direct response to a president who doesn’t “look like them” or “share their views.” Bevin’s audience was people who train sniper rifles on federal agents over “government tyranny” and white supremacists who shoot cops – without any real interference from the GOP. In fact, the incitement of violence and violent rhetoric have become mainstream in the Republican Party. In this election, the GOP nominee has said he could kill a man in broad daylight and not lose a single vote, has alluded to the assassination of his rival, and has openly courted white supremacists.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/republicans-inciting-right-wing-violence-after-election-day-w439871

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Hillary was Wrong. All of Trump’s Supporters Are “Deplorable” | The Closer with Keith Olbermann | GQ

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Can Islam and Liberalism Coexist?

From Slate:  http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/interrogation/2016/08/shadi_hamid_on_islamic_exceptionalism.html

Why Islam resists secularization, and how that continues to shape the politics of the Middle East.

Aug. 16 2016

One of the hopes that grew out of the Arab Spring was that a relatively moderate strain of Islamist politics could thrive in the region. Given the widespread prevalence of dictators and military-led regimes, and the violent radicals who oppose them in mirrored gruesomeness, groups like Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood were seen as potential alternatives. Five years later, however, the Arab Spring has devolved into a collection of bloody failures everywhere from Egypt to Syria. Another proposed model of Islamism—Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey—was already giving way to autocracy well before a quashed coup attempt further entrenched Erdogan’s demagoguery.

These failures have raised the fraught question of whether Islam itself is partially to blame. Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is the author of a new book, Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World. The title gives some hint of his provocative analysis. As he writes, “If Islam is, in fact, distinctive in how it relates to politics, then the foundational divides that have torn the Middle East apart will persist, and for a long time to come.”

I recently spoke by phone with Hamid. During the course of our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we discussed why liberals have trouble taking religion seriously, the future of Islamist politics in Turkey and Egypt, and what the rise of Donald Trump has meant for American Muslims.

Shadi Hamid: I’m essentially arguing that Islam is fundamentally different from other religions in a very specific way: its relationship to law and politics and governance. I wanted to use “exceptionalism” because I felt, at least for me, that it was value-neutral: It can be either good or bad depending on the context. I also wanted to challenge the assumption—very common in the bastions of Northeastern liberal elitism—that religion playing a role in public life is always or necessarily a bad thing. That’s the idea of the title, and what that means in practice is that Islam has proven to be resistant to secularism, and I would argue will continue to be resistant to secularism and secularization really for the rest of our lives.

What do you think it is about Islam that makes it resistant to secularism in a way that, say, Christianity and Judaism are not?

I think you have to go back to the founding moment 14 centuries ago. Jesus was a dissident against a reigning state, so he was never in a position to govern. Naturally, the New Testament is not going to have much to say about public law. Prophet Muhammad wasn’t just a prophet. He was also a politician, and not just a politician, but a head of state and a state-builder. If Prophet Muhammad was in a position of holding territory and governing territory, then presumably the Quran would have to have something to say about governance. Otherwise, how would Prophet Muhammad be guided? That’s one thing intertwining the religion and politics that isn’t accidental, and was meant to be that way.

Continue reading at:  http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/interrogation/2016/08/shadi_hamid_on_islamic_exceptionalism.html

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