Saturday, September 17, 2016

Schlafly is gone - but Steinem lives.

To those of you who are unfamiliar Phyllis Schlafly and Gloria Steinem represent two of the most strident female voices in the US political spectrum. Their ideas and public postures shaped the views of several generations of men and women in the US and I believe these two intellectual giants hold the key to an electoral landslide in the coming US election.

The two could not have been more different. Throughout their lives they fought each other and it was a vicious and pitched war of words and thoughts. Ordinary people (like me) watched these ideological conflicts and wondered what to make of it. (Full disclosure - I am much closer to Steinem's positions on gender issues but I do not see Phyllis' ideas are being "anti-feminist").

I for one see Phyllis as a crypto-feminist. I know that word has been largely defined to mean women who reject overt association with feminist ideas but I am using it differently. In my view Phyllis infiltrated the male dominated conservative hierarchy in the same way that an S-Directorate illegal infiltrates the US nuclear command and control chain.

Now you would think that kind of infiltration is easy to spot. Surely you can tell when a KGB illegal is getting too close to the football? - I mean the man loves reading old Russian novels,likes Pirogis and struggles with the letter "V" - right? ... No wrong!

That is where I think the talent and genius of Phyllis Schlafly lies - she embedded herself at the core of the dark heart of male egocentrism by going along with and exceeding anything the men could come up with on their own.

If a conservative lawmaker said something stupid, Phyllis Schlafly would come up with something ten times stupider and prejudiced. Every time she did that the obvious stupidity of the statement would be so apparent that even the conservative lawmaker would have to reconsider his own idiotic idea.

As she repeatedly played this card she pushed herself into a position of advantage and she gained power over those of near-Taliban intelligence levels (such as your average male social conservative political figure).

There was no way as a conservative you could avoid dealing with Phyllis. If you tried to say something, when you were done - she would say something that would make your idea look even stupider than it was and in doing so you were reduced to the child that goes up to his mom and says "I would like to climb up the tree in the backyard" and the mother replies "Yes dear and while you are up there can you also take the chainsaw and some matches?". You would never know if she was being sarcastic or she really wanted you to do that, so you would back off the idea of climbing the tree.

I think that sort of approach is brilliant. Toxic - but brilliant.

Gloria Steinem ofcourse felt differently. She was much more of the plain spoken and WYSWYG person. To her mind - you didn't have to use all this cryptic stuff. If you thought something you spoke your mind and if the men didn't like - who cares what they think anyway.

While Gloria and Phyllis neutered the over inflated male egos in their own ways - they educated American women about different ways of coping with their subaltern and repressed status in society.

American women from the Boomer generation were especially affected. They oscillated between the two viewpoints on a daily basis. Every woman wanted some balance of independence and family responsibility and playing the arguments from Phyllis and Gloria against each other to get the required leverage to do what they wanted became a game that women of that generation played on a minute by minute basis.

Now let us journey to the present. Currently 12% of the US population are baby boomer women. About 80% of those self identify as white - so about 10% of the US women are white baby boomers. This segment of the population sees a reflection of themselves in Hillary Clinton and they see a shadow of their husband in Donald Trump.

If Phyllis and Gloria were to compete on an equal footing for their votes, this group would split down the middle. Phyllis supported Donald Trump and Gloria supported Hillary Clinton. By extension half the white boomer women would support Donald Trump because he would be the evil they know - and the other half would support Hillary Clinton because they would see a president who was just like them.

But Phyllis is gone and only Gloria remains.

1 Comments:

At 5:47 AM, Blogger Nanana said...

Not related to this post. But you may like the following. There seems to be a huge hue and cry on social media lusting for revenge for the fallen 17

http://m.indiatoday.in/story/india-pakistan-kashmir-india-pak-border-narendra-modi/1/764621.html

 

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