FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Future is Female … and Republican

by CLANCY SIGAL

I live and work in Hollywood, the capital of celebrity flameouts – Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen, Robert Downey Jr, etc. My local Beverly Hills and Malibu courthouse and police stations are stakeouts for paparazzi, snapping well-known actors looking washed-out and hungover as they do the “perp walk“. As the world knows, the latest crash-dive has been performed by Mel Gibson, whose widely reported (though so far unauthenticated) tirade against his Russian girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva has gone madly viral and even penetrated the inner sanctum of his agency, William Morris, which told him to seek new representation, on the Bad Samaritan principle of “kick a man when he’s down” and on the grounds that Gibson on tape supposedly screamed the “n” word, which might have offended the agents’ valuable African-American clients such as Denzel Washington and Spike Lee.

This being Hollywood, where sexism is the default mode, William Morris – led by Ari Emanuel, brother of Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm – did not bother to cite, or perhaps even think about, Gibson’s alleged physical assault against his girlfriend.

It’s economics. Male superstars make a heck of a lot more money than female actors. This, plus the historical fact that in the misogynist hearts of many studio executives, women just don’t count in life or at the box office (with the possible exception of Angelina Jolie). The time-worn mantra I’ve heard so many times is, “Women don’t open”, meaning a female-oriented movie is a money loser in the first two crucial weeks.

But outside the movieland bubble, an upsurging counter-revolution in gender politics means that more and more women, and rightwingers at that, have become a fact of American political life. This is especially true of anti-feminist but gender-proud Republican women who, led by “mama grizzly” Sarah Palin, are coming on like gangbusters.

This year, there are 239 female candidates running for Congress, rivalling 1992’s “Year of the Woman”. They are spitting mad, motivated by dark psychic energy, typically ultra-reactionary – but increasingly effective on the campaign trail. All of last month’s big primary races were won by women – Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman (California), Nikki Haley (South Carolina), Sharron Angle (Nevada) and a lone Democrat, Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas), who beat off a challenge from a liberal Democrat man.

Traditionally, women Republicans have played an important but backseat role in party politics. We haven’t yet produced an American Margaret Thatcher … but it may happen sooner than you think.

Despite – or because of – her Snopes-like family dramas (Yes! Bristol and Levi are re-engaged and may get married on a TV reality show!), Sarah Palin has become a serious player, notwithstanding the late-night Letterman/Leno/Colbert/Jon Stewart jokes. Radiating sexy self-confidence, she is behaving imperiously as what she has grown into: a queen- and king-maker in almost every state that has an impending primary or general election. Most recently, that was in South Carolina where her soundbites helped a scandal-plagued, long-shot candidate, Nikki Haley, to the winner’s circle. Candidates, even mainstream Republicans, vie and die for her Facebook endorsement.

But even if Palin didn’t exist, a new breed of essentially anti-feminist feminists is running for office – and gunning to occupy the White House. And – to be blunt – many of them, like Palin herself and Minnesota’s congresswoman, wild and wacky Michele Bachmann (who blames swine flu on Obama), are enviably telegenic. Bella Abzug is your mother’s feminist; this is a new species entirely – groomed, in every sense, for success.

Here in California, two extremely rich conservative corporate women, Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett-Packard CEO, and Meg Whitman, of eBay fame, are running against old-style liberals, senator Barbara Boxer and former governor and current attorney general Jerry Brown. Whitman, fourth richest woman in California, has already spent $91m of her personal fortune to win the Republican primary. She is flooding the state with smart TV ads, as is Fiorina, whose “Jobs First!” campaign downplays her corporate record of firing workers and outsourcing jobs to China and India. Jerry Brown, meanwhile, is running a lazy laidback campaign, counting on previous name recognition. Boxer has the power (and money) of incumbency, but she is battling for a fourth six-year term at a time when anti-incumbency is the national mood.

This upsurge in Republican feminism of a brutal sort exalts mommyhood but ignores issues that most directly affect women. We’re lightyears away from yesteryear’s GOP women’s clubs, the Goldwater and Reagan conservative ladies, who, on occasion, championed the Equal Rights Amendment but then allowed the movement to slip into the hands of theocrats and pistol-packin’ mamas. The new breed of grizzly is here to stay. And, as I learned from my years in the United Kingdom, watching in horrified admiration as Margaret Thatcher wiped the floor with her male opposition, there’s nothing so powerful as a really angry woman.

CLANCY SIGAL is a novelist and screenwriter in Los Angeles. He can be reached at clancy@jsasoc.com

WORDS THAT STICK

?

 

Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 31, 2016
NEVE GORDON - NICOLA PERUGINI
Human Shields as Preemptive Legal Defense for Killing Civilians
Jim Kavanagh
Turkey Invades Syria, America Spins The Bottle
Dave Lindorff
Ukraine and the Dumbed-Down New York Times Columnist
Pepe Escobar
Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, a Woman of Honor, Confronts Senate of Scoundrels
Jeff Mackler
Playing the Lesser Evil Game to the Hilt
Steve Horn
Dakota Access Pipeline Tribal Liaison Formerly Worked For Agency Issuing Permit
Patrick Cockburn
Has Turkey Overplayed Its Hand in Syria?
John Chuckman
Why Hillary is the Perfect Person to Secure Obama’s Legacy
Manuel E. Yepe
The New Cold War Between the US and China
Stephen Cooper
Ending California’s Machinery of Death
Stacy Keltner - Ashley McFarland
Women, Party Politics, and the Power of the Naked Body
Hiroyuki Hamada - Ikuko Isa
A Letter from Takae, Okinawa
Aidan O'Brien
How Did Syria and the Rest Do in the Olympics?
David Swanson
Arms Dealing Is Subject of Hollywood Comedy
Jesse Jackson
The Politics of Bigotry: Trump and the Black Voter
August 30, 2016
Russell Mokhiber
Matt Funiciello and the Giant Sucking Sound Coming Off Lake Champlain
Mike Whitney
Three Cheers for Kaepernick: Is Sitting During the National Anthem an Acceptable Form of Protest?
Alice Bach
Sorrow and Grace in Palestine
Sam Husseini
Why We Should All Remain Seated: the Anti-Muslim Origins of “The Star-Spangled Banner”
Richard Moser
Transformative Movement Culture and the Inside/Outside Strategy: Do We Want to Win the Argument or Build the Movement?
Nozomi Hayase
Pathology, Incorporated: the Facade of American Democracy
David Swanson
Fredric Jameson’s War Machine
Jan Oberg
How Did the West Survive a Much Stronger Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact?
Linda Gunter
The Racism of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima Bombings
Dmitry Kovalevich
In Ukraine: Independence From the People
Omar Kassem
Turkey Breaks Out in Jarablus as Fear and Loathing Grip Europe
George Wuerthner
A Birthday Gift to the National Parks: the Maine Woods National Monument
Logan Glitterbomb
Indigenous Property Rights and the Dakota Access Pipeline
National Lawyers Guild
Solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against Dakota Access Pipeline
Paul Messersmith-Glavin
100 in Anarchist Years
August 29, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary and the Clinton Foundation: Exemplars of America’s Political Rot
Patrick Timmons
Dildos on Campus, Gun in the Library: the New York Times and the Texas Gun War
Jack Rasmus
Bernie Sanders ‘OR’ Revolution: a Statement or a Question?
Richard Moser
Strategic Choreography and Inside/Outside Organizers
Nigel Clarke
President Obama’s “Now Watch This Drive” Moment
Robert Fisk
Iraq’s Willing Executioners
Wahid Azal
The Banality of Evil and the Ivory Tower Masterminds of the 1953 Coup d’Etat in Iran
Farzana Versey
Romancing the Activist
Frances Madeson
Meet the Geronimos: Apache Leader’s Descendants Talk About Living With the Legacy
Nauman Sadiq
The War on Terror and the Carter Doctrine
Lawrence Wittner
Does the Democratic Party Have a Progressive Platform–and Does It Matter?
Marjorie Cohn
Death to the Death Penalty in California
Winslow Myers
Asking the Right Questions
Rivera Sun
The Sane Candidate: Which Representatives Will End the Endless Wars?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia District Attorney Hammered for Hypocrisy
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail