I’ve witnessed this on the part of the Left since the 1960s. It seemed like only the Deacons for Self Defense, Black Panthers, Young Lords.
But the Democratic Party of today is not the New Deal Democratic Party. It has done little to fight for unions and the interests of the working people.
It has become the party of an educated class which believes it is wrong to actually fight for what they believe in. The Right Wing mocks all the sensitivity all the BS about not lowering ourselves to their level.
I think it’s because our misogynistic society has pushed them into the same corner women have been forced into. But there’s a way out.
By Jess Zimmerman
Oct 09, 2018
The salient feature of now-seated Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony during the hearing that was intended to assess whether he had committed sexual assault in his youth was, as many have noted, his anger. It was anger that made him lash out inappropriately, anger that contorted his face in a way that made many viewers feel sick. He thought this anger would substitute for integrity, and he was right, or right enough anyway; he didn’t fool everyone, but he did at least shout them down. Meanwhile, the salient feature of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony was her calm, measured, deferential demeanor, complete with tension-defusing apologies and jokes. I am not the first person to point out how heartbreaking this was to witness: that even while talking about an experience that traumatized her for decades, she obeyed the unwritten cultural injunction that women must manage not only their own feelings but the feelings of everyone around them. This has been laid bare in the past few weeks in America, even as it’s a replay of something we’ve all seen before.
What I haven’t seen discussed, though, is the way these same restrictions have constrained the entire Democratic Party. The left—even the moderate left—is feminized in this country to a degree that I have come to believe actually restricts its avenues for acceptable self-expression.
Our weird cultural commitment to the gender binary goes way beyond actual living men and women—if it didn’t, people wouldn’t freak out so badly when someone declines to choose. Masculinity and femininity are concepts we layer on top of everything from people to pens to political parties. Sometimes there’s a middle ground, but often we seem lost without our familiar patterns; it’s the confused hetero doofus asking a gay couple “which one’s the woman,” except for the entire world. Take any opposed things—Democrats and Republicans, cats and dogs, even the sun and the moon—and you’ll find one of them associated with physical strength, action, and domineering behavior, and the other associated with emotion, reticence, and calm. That’s not just descriptive; it’s prescriptive, and proscriptive too. If we could judge the moon for yelling, we would.
“Everyone is mocking Lindsey Graham for expressing the kind of outrage Democratic Senators should’ve been expressing daily over Merrick Garland,” tweeted writer Isaac Butler after the hearing. He’s not wrong, but it’s worth imagining a similar tweet reading, “Everyone is mocking Brett Kavanaugh for expressing the kind of outrage Christine Blasey Ford should have expressed daily since this debacle began.” What would “should” even mean in this case? She would have been justified, yes, but she absolutely never, ever could have. Crying, screaming, blaming, complaining—Brett Kavanaugh can get away with it. She can’t. This thought experiment isn’t just sophistry; the pressures are the same on the party at large, and for similar reasons. Lindsey Graham can get away with it; Kamala Harris would be pilloried. Even Chuck Schumer would be pilloried. The gender of the legislator is significant, but so is the gender, if you will, of the party. And though we don’t really discuss it, the Democratic Party is a girl.
This isn’t just about who’s allowed to scream without consequence; it’s also about who’s expected to be reasonable and who gets to be stubborn, who keeps the peace and who advocates force, who makes compromises and who makes demands, who can and can’t successfully run a human tantrum for president. It’s also about ideology. Democrats’ concerns are those that are cast as feminine: justice, feelings, women’s bodily autonomy, children, the ability to keep a family provided for and alive. Republicans’ concerns are those considered masculine: money, business, repelling those seen as intruders, the wielding of physical and economic brutality. It’s not an accident that people who are deeply invested in the sanctity of masculinity—the right of men to power, violence, and control—tend to vote GOP. It is not an accident that these same people tend to denigrate the other party as womanly. (They think it’s a denigration, anyway.)