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Posts Tagged ‘social class’

NY Mag has a really great article on young woman and alcohol. Apparently we (the ladies) are have taken to imbibing–with coworks, friends, alone–in more copious amounts.

A couple of disjointed things that struck me about the article:

-Third Wave Feminism is painted as being the spoiled, bratty daughter of the last two waves, doing little more than empowering women to thoughtlessly booz and fuck just like the guys. To this I respond: Yes and no. Thirdwavers are not a cohesive group, and for all the thoughtlessness of the louder popcultury types (I’m looking at you, Jezebel) the strides women of color have made are probably the hallmark of this wave. Not that has anything to do with the article really, but I like to throw it out there whenever I can.

-Speaking of boozin’ and fucking just like the guys,  lets talk about the gender assimilation. As women enter highly competitive male-dominated spheres such as high education and certain sectors of the work force, they adopt (consciously and unconsciously) the attitudes and behaviors of their male counterparts to survive. Its a kind of acculturation, adopting the values and norms of the dominant group in order to be allowed to particpicate.  This is not necessarily a good thing, espeically when the norms adopted are as highly dysfunctional and predispossed to perpetuating inequality as those of professional middle class white men (remember, just because they’re the most powerful and pervasive does not make them right–or even rational).  In the article, one of the women interviewed said something akin to ‘I had to be seen as a bitch to get things done, but the drinking made me appear more personable, less lame than the other women unwilling to party and more appealing to work with’.To get ahead professionally, she had to overcome the gender sterotype of ‘the bitch’ by proving she could be as rowdy and drunk as the next guy.

-The author asserts that the sexual component comes in only so much as it is another aspect of choice. Drinking is an expression of control, because women now have the power to choose when and where they allow themselves the loss of control. Sounds sort of convoluted, but its a sentiment not foreign to me. The author downplays the idea that some women drink so that they may allow themselves sexual dalliances they would otherwise think themselves too shy or morally upstanding to engage in. It is my nonobjective and unscientific observation that this behavior is actually rather typical, even if unintentional. I never thought of myself as the kind of person who got especially trigger happy when intoxicated because I’m generally the very forward go-get-’em sort to begin with. When I stopped to recall how many times I engaged in sexual contact with a new partner during or after consuming alcohol, however, I was totally shocked (but not embarrassed–in fact, I laughed myself to sleep). That isn’t to say that these were isolated incidents, the majority of my sexual relationships are relatively longterm, its just they were helped along initially by alcohol. Stop for a second and think about how many times you were drunk the first time you had sex with someone, not just one night stands but with a significant others or long term hookup–you might just find a curious pattern of behavior.

-Oh, and lets also discuss the place of higher education: the more prolonged the period of education, the more deeply ingrained the questionable drinking habits become. Now, why do we hardly talk about the alcoholism of the well educated? Because, as members of the cultural elite, we have the cultural clot to normalize our habits, no matter disruptive to ourselves/our social group they might become. We can stigmatize the poor and less educated’s alcoholism/drug use as deviant because clearly is perpetuates their cycles of economic deprivation, but let ours slide as simply the youthful antics of undergrads, grads, young professionals harmlessly cavorting because we perceive they have no larger social consequences.

As someone who planed on spending her winter break in a state of near-constant intoxication, I must admit this article made me reevaluate my drinking habits in terms of ideology, biology and interpersonal consequences. Some of the best advice I every got was from a Scotsman on a cruise ship: Be good. And if you can’t be good, be safe.

Paternalism asside, they’re words to live by.

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Carmen explains (much more clearly than I ever could) why working-class white people should be disgusted with the utter contempt John McCain has for them.

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Quacks like a racist

Today’s contestant: Bobby Lee May.

In addition to sharing his name with a famous juggler, Monsieur May served as treasurer of the Buchanan County Republican Party as well as county representative to Senator McCain’s Virginia leadership team. The 97% white county, named for this racist fool, gave Senator Obama only 9% in the Democratic primary; in a state he dominated with 64%. (Though, to be fair to the locals, Douglas Wilder did carry the county in his 1989 run for Governor.)

So here’s May, chillin’, counting out the Buchanan County GOP cash box and generally minding his own shit. But then, he decides to write a column in a local newspaper. I hope you’re sitting down as I present some excerpts from “The (clarified) platform of Barack Hussein Obama:”

“DRUG CRISIS: Raise taxes to pay for free drugs for Obama’s inner-city political base….”

“FOREIGN RELATIONS: Appoint Rev. Al Sharpton as Secretary of State, Jesse Jackson as UN Representative, and let Bill Clinton handle all other “foreign relations” … As long as Hillary doesn’t find out…!”

“THE WHITE HOUSE: Hire rapper Ludacris to “paint it black.” Taxes to be increased to buy enough paint for the job plus spray-paint for graffiti….”

“US CURRENCY: Update photos to reflect US diversity; include pictures of “great Americans” such as Oprah Winfrey, Ludacris, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Paris Hilton, and Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson (Obama’s new Secretary of the Treasury – 50 Cent refused position after learning that he would lose his crazy check if he accepted the nomination)….”

“US FLAG: Replace 50 stars with a star and crescent logo; red stripes changed to green to represent Obama’s tree-hugging radical environmentalism and his lack of experience. Flag lapel pins, having become a substitute for “real patriotism,” will henceforth be banned….”

“STATEHOOD: Extend statehood to the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Kenya, Cuba, Palestine, Freedonia, Bugtussle and the ‘Free state of McDowell’ and raise taxes…”

“THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES: Raise taxes to send $845 billion, send most to Africa so that the Obama family there can skim off enough to allow them to free their goats and live the American Dream…”

Sadly for Monsieur May, this story escaped the confines of small-town print journalism. No less than the Los Angeles Times provides a pdf of the entire article today. May initially denied that this was racist, before reality coerced him into one of those I’m sorry if anyone was offended non-apologies. The McCain people promptly removed May from his campaign position

But here’s the thing: On the one hand, the mid-Atlantic spokeswoman for the McCain campaign called the remarks “offensive” and “insulting,” adding that they “have no place in our political discourse.” On the other, VP harpie Sarah Palin has spit out the following dreck over the past 48 hours:

“…This is not a man who sees America as you and I do…”

“…This is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists…”

True, the campaign tries to stop short of formally endorsing teh racisms. However, they’re awfully loaded up with the He’s not like us stuff. The McCain campaign has literally pulled its only positive ad, settling on a home-stretch strategy of character attacks. (In contrast, over half of Obama’s TV money is going to the “Real Change” ad in which the Senator speaks policy directly to the camera.) Expect a steady diet of Ayers, Rezko, and possibly Wright for the next four weeks. And when it gets too uncomfortable, there’s always the porcine surrogates willing to spread the feces.

Interestingly enough, the McCain camp is also preparing to run on crime. They’re digging in Obama’s Illinois record for signs of weakness. This is an odd topic to attack on considering nobody gives a shit, with crime parked somewhere below the economy, Iraq, national security, gas prices, health care, immigration, and social issues on the to-do list. But then, if you’re listening for racist dog-whistles, crime is top-shelf. And if there were any doubt, they’ve dredged up the designer of the Willie Horton ad.

Even McCain’s attacks on housing have been racially-tinted. The campaign has tried to link Obama with the black former CEO of Fannie Mae Franklin Raines; an association the Washington Post called “a stretch” and “clearly exaggerating wildly.” They interspersed Raines and Obama’s faces with an elderly white woman in a negative television ad citing “financial fraud,” even while the fastest expansion of subprime lending occurred under Raines’ (white) successor Daniel Mudd. I guess we shouldn’t act all surprised, considering that the house organ of conservatism blamed the failure of Washington Mutual on affirmative action, while the Reich Women’s Auxiliary blamed the subprime crisis on lending to minorities. (Dismissed here by a liberal and there by a conservative.)

There’s patterns here. For people who swear they aren’t racist, Republicans sure do a lot of racist shit. And so, as previously cited, the wisdom of Bond villain Auric Goldfinger:

“Once is happenstance; twice is coincidence; three times is enemy action.”

In a roundabout way, the good news is that Americans might be too poor to buy it this time. Firebrand AFL-CIO official Richard Trumka recalled a conversation with a voter in Pennsylvania. The voter, a “die-hard Democrat,” openly told Trumka that she would not vote for Senator Obama because of his race:

“Trumka said he told the woman: “Look around this town. Nemacolin is a dying town. There’s no jobs here. Our kids are moving away because there’s no future here. And here’s a man, Barack Obama, who’s gonna fight for people like us. And you wanna tell me that you won’t vote for him because of the color of his skin? Are you out of your ever-lovin’ mind, lady?'”

Hopefully, the current state of the economy, two wars, gas prices, and health care will diminish the salience of race-baiting attacks. The financial crisis, unlike crime or welfare, is difficult to fit into racial frames.

The outcome of the 2008 election isn’t just critical for policy but for future narratives as well. Imagine if McCain storms back from being down anywhere from 6 to 12 points to win going away on slander, xenophobia, and dirty tricks. Why, after this and the Swift Boats, would anyone try anything else for the next three election cycles? On the other hand, a decisive win for Obama (300+ electoral votes) would force all those campaign strategists to rethink the playbook they’ve been using since Nixon. It’s worth considering this story from Larry Bartels:

“I was very struck when I learned — many of you probably have seen, after each recent election, immediately after the election, Newsweek comes out with a big cover package on why, fill in the blank, won the election. And in 2004, they actually came out with a book that included a lot of analysis of why it was that Bush won the election.

But before the election, they actually sent out an advertisement that had two books side by side; one was why Bush won the election and the other was why Kerry won the election. And given the times of producing these things, they actually had to produce most of the package, explaining to the readers of Newsweek the following week why it was that Kerry won the election.”

The morning after an election, pundits begin to sell either (Explanatory Narrative A) or (Explanatory Narrative B) depending on the outcome. It doesn’t matter if a thousand Jews for Buchanan were the only reason we didn’t inaugurate President Gore in 2000; once the election ends, the story is about how Bush got out enough evangelicals and Gore dressed wrong and looked elitist. Subtract either voter fraud or the Workers’ World Party, and the entire political discourse between 2000 and 2004 is about how Bush was too inexperienced and poorly spoken and how the Democrats will never lose hold of the White House again. (It also might’ve spared us the twin indignities of John Kerry duck hunting and Karl Rove as rock star.) Campaigns are not just about winning this one; they’re about building frames to win the next two. With this in mind, it’s double important that the good guys win this one.

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And she would know, cont.

This was just a few days ago.  But it gets better:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Lynn Forester de Rothschild, a prominent Hillary Clinton supporter and member of the Democratic National Committee’s Platform Committee, will endorse John McCain for president on Wednesday, her spokesman tells CNN.

Luckily, she has a strong, policy-driven rationale for her endorsement:

“This is a hard decision for me personally because frankly I don’t like him,” she said of Obama in an interview with CNN’s Joe Johns. “I feel like he is an elitist. I feel like he has not given me reason to trust him.”

Lynn de Rothschild “feels like he is an elitist,” and “feels like” there’s no reason to trust Obama.  I’m glad our financial overlords make such informed policy decisions.  Sad thing is, nobody would give a soggy fuck about this self-righteous fool if she didn’t have money and her 77-year-old husband’s name to throw at shit.  (Sir Evelyn Robert Rothschild is 23 years her senior, Forbes called the marriage “the deal of a lifetime,” and it was certainly timed well for her business ventures.  Could’ve been for love, I’m just sayin…)

Don’t worry Mme. de Rothschild, Barry will be alright without you.

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l33t ism

pwned!

Once again the media reminds us that Democratic oligarchs feed on the bones of peasant babies.  This time, it’s Jon Decker of Reuters speaking on MSNBC:

“For Joe Biden, I — you know, not that he’s not folksy, but I don’t think it helps his case when he’s making the argument on economic issues wearing French cuffs and dressed to the nines. I think that he’s really got to connect with these voters, and his background certainly is a connection.”

(Hat-tip Media Matters.)  Anchorman Chris Jansing suggests the preferred sartorial alternative:

“I’m — I was a little surprised too that he didn’t have that coat off and roll up his sleeves. We shall see how this progresses.”

I’m glad the press is keeping up with the big developing stories.

So far this election has been about bowling, arugula, and beer-sipping.  It took the dance of the seven houses for the press to realize which guy’s wife has the $500,000 monthly AMEX.  I mean, who among us didn’t confuse the black dude raised by a single mother with the House of Bourbon on his AP exam?

The stupidity of the narrative doesn’t trouble me half as much as the deja vu. We’ve seen this movie before with out-of-touch Gore and elitist, French-like windsurfer Kerry.  We know how this ends and it isn’t good.  (Unless, God willing, Gramm ex machina this time ’round.)

Race is an added factor this year, as evidenced by the troubling use of the term “uppity.” (And Westmoreland isn’t even some third-tier fake-name radio paranoid culled from the Log Cabin Nazi Party; he’s a sitting United States Congressman.)  I remember seeing someone on my teevee (Buchanan?) protesting that “uppity” is just a word like “arrogant” or “elitist” and that the word itself is race-neutral. Sure it is, but let’s play a mental game. You complete the sentence with the first word that comes to mind:

-“He’s an arrogant ___”  (sonofabitch?)
-“That guy is an elitist  ___”  (snob?”)
-“That is one uppity ___”

Let’s just say it doesn’t take a hipster racist to know what usually follows the u-word.  And if you think I’m being too sensitive, noted Black Panther David Gergen called them out on this as well.

The problem isn’t that the Republicans traffic in this nonsense; it’s that the press eats it up.  It’s never been clear to me why the press so willingly promotes the “elitist coastal liberals” trope.  Is it psychological, some self-loathing among the well-educated? (no, my dear New Republic, “east coast yuppies” don’t “sneer at the military.”)  Maybe it’s the impact of the GOP money and noise machine on the refs.  There is no easy answer, but this much is true:  When the guardians of our discourse tell us simultaneously that Obama is an elitist and that $200,000 is “middle-class,” well, some people have just forfeited their credibility in perpetuity.

For any number of reasons, the economic elites of the right are perceived as admirably aspirational while the cultural elites on the left are treated as a hostile class.  Ergo, a good chunk of voters are more resentful towards the Hollywood left for drinking chardonnay than they are towards the corporatists who kill their health insurance.  No blog post can explain this paradigm, (especially after midnight on a Tuesday,) but our Jacksonian anti-intellectualism undoubtedly plays some part.  (Aright kids, that’s your invite for the “comments” section.)

Why is acceptable that John McCain’s high school now costs $40,000 a year when Joe Biden can’t wear a French cuff shirt?  For the love of Jesus-on-Jump-Street, I own a French cuff shirt and I grew up on food stamps and once sold Socialist Worker.  (You can get them at Macy’s for $35 on sale.  French cuff shirts, not Socialist Worker.) You can also get a passable bottle of cabernet for $3, which is most certainly welcome among us proletarian elitists as the silly season marches on.

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And she would know

Didn’t get around to posting this one last week.  Just check out the byline on this anti-Obama editorial:

Democrats Need to Shake The ‘Elitist’ Tag
By LYNN FORESTER DE ROTHSCHILD

Wall Street Journal
September 11, 2008; Page A13

It’s troubling that Obama can’t relate to such hard workin’ blue-collar ‘murricans.

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Prompted by the epic love of Levi and Bristol, liberal media giant New York Times examines the realities of teen marriage from a sociological perspective.

Its actually a good article about the abysmal chances of teen marriage with some solid insight on intersection of age, class and ethnicity.

Both Dr. Sternheimer and Dr. Wilcox said that the debate over whether teenagers are prepared for marriage was being framed through the lens of a middle-class, well-educated demographic, for whom marrying before being able to drink legally now may look alien, or hillbillyish. In fact, they said, 18-year-olds in working-class and immigrant families in particular already shoulder a lot of adult responsibilities, including fighting the war in Iraq, supporting their families and raising children.

“We like to infantilize teens, or focus on their bad behavior, even though some of them are functioning as adults,” Dr. Sternheimer said. “We have this image, and it’s popular in the press. It’s the Montel Williams, ‘Help, my daughter is a slut! What can I do? My teen daughter wants to get pregnant on purpose.’

As Marx points out in the post below, the ruling ideas of an era are those of the dominant class. At one point, the elites (which I begrudgingly count myself as one of) would have not only have condoned Levi and Bristol’s union, but seen it as the only viable action. If you really want to go back in history, most Puritan women were pregnant on their wedding day. This was not seen as something to be ashamed of so long as it was clear who the father was and they made good in the eyes of God and the community before the birth (this is why Hester Prynne got into so much trouble).

The criticism of how this reflects on Sarah Palin’s attitudes about sex education are more than fair, but the gleeful dismissal of the whole clan as backwards hillbillies is classism (and one can easily argue racism, i.e. lower class whiteness as “other”; demonstrating deviant values that are unacceptable by the dominant class of whites ) of the all-too-common sort. Whatever prejudices I have against the folkways of white evangelicals, I at least try to temper with good sociological detachment.

That being said, I do not have the strength of character to dissect Levi’s redneck pride without getting a little flip.

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