Labor, Stewart Rally

Random links to start the week.  Carla Fran on working as a doula (h/t zunguzungu):

My work as a doula has convinced me that what goes on in labor rooms is one of the most potent places for activism in this country. Women of every race and class are often mistreated, enough for me to have witnessed it several times, at a moment when they are extremely vulnerable…

Until my work as a doula, I assumed that sexism was actually a bit of a ghost. I was fucking wrong. Why does pregnancy matter? Every time I see a doctor talk down to a woman, to complain about his or her weekend schedule and insist on a Cesarean, to threaten a woman through fear to deliver quickly, to tell her that she has no idea about what she is talking about, to take her husband aside and tell him what will be easier, to disregard her history of abuse and aggressively examine her, to rant about missed phone calls and fussy patients next door while she is trying to focus and calm herself, to pull the trump card of a healthy baby as if that is something she didn’t want, to mention insurance during labor, to describe her genitals in a way that frightens her, to use fear as a trick of the trade, I understand that things are not okay, and that there is an immense amount of work to be done.

A close friend who may be reading this is currently fighting breast cancer, and she’s been lucky with the doctors she has gotten. But from what I’m learning in real time, these issue plays out there as well.

Also,  zunguzungu also has a roundup on critical takes of the Stewart/Colbert rally in DC over the weekend you should check out.  Takes which includes PZ Myers describing the rally:

Once again, we have someone bravely standing up and telling the people on their own side to stop being dicks, while being vague on the names and specifics…So I’m at a loss about what we’re supposed to do in the world according to Jon Stewart. Hey, all you people working for gay and lesbian equality, all you women asking for equal pay, all you workers trying to unionize, all you peaceniks trying to end the war in Afghanistan, all you nurses and doctors and clinic workers trying to maintain reproductive freedom and keep women alive, all you teachers trying to teach science and history without censorship, all you citizens trying to build a rational health care policy, all you scientists and doctors who want our country to progress in medical research, all you damned secularists who want to keep religion out of our schools and government, hey, hey, HEY, you! Tone it down. Quit making such a fuss. You’re too loud. Shush. You’re as crazy as the teabaggers if you think your principles are worth fighting for.

And Gerry Canavan on the organizing event:

From my place in the crowd it seemed to me that what many people in the crowd wanted was recognition that they too are a collective, that they too constitute a “movement,” that there are other people who think like they do and want what they want and that all such people might get together and work together to make things happen. They’re people who believe alternatives are possible and necessary and want someone to show them where to go to get it. But Stewart’s supposed call for civility and “reasonableness” is completely orthogonal to that drive, if not actively destructive of it—and the Rally to Restore Sanity a pointless, poorly executed exercise in self-promotion that is already completely forgotten.

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4 Responses to Labor, Stewart Rally

  1. Andrew says:

    We live in Calgary: we lived in Houston from 1995-2007. My wife is from Kansas City, and I’m a Brit. On Saturday afternoon she took me aback a bit when she told me she wished she’d flown to Washington DC and gone to the rally.

    I think what she, Myers and Canavan wanted was a “hard” version of the Daily Show and Colbert Report, ending in a rallying call to the Left. Three days (now one day) from midterm elections that are projected to result in heavy Democratic losses, I imagine many progressives around the country – not necessarily people who attended the rally – were hoping for a surge of energy, something that they could point to in a week’s time and say “that’s when we turned the tide.”

    But I don’t think Stewart, Colbert and the Show/Report crew are in the business of getting people to vote for one party rather than another, and that genuinely does make them different to Fox News. Stewart and Colbert are as much, if not more, media critics as political satirists, and a big part of their message is that genuine argument and disagreement is possible, but fake “Crossfire” and tearful chalkboard lectures make it harder to follow the real questions at hand.

    Unlike PZ Myers, I don’t think I heard “shush.” I think I hear “listen.”

  2. Loxy Bagel says:

    Stewart is not going to become a political leader, or even a midwife for one. He has said so repeatedly, and has hewed to that line assiduously. If he were to succumb to such temptation, he would no longer have the ability to tell the truth as he sees it, and his only useful skill would disappear.

    What he’s trying to do is focus people on what’s wrong with the discourse, and that’s all. Even if the other side started the hysteria, and the only way you can be heard is to yell, yelling is still counterproductive. Focusing on what matters most, and trying to get to the truth of it are the preconditions to constructive public discourse. And that is approximately nobody’s business model.

    I am hopeful that this rally wakes up at least some news organizations to the fact that there is a large and affluent constituency who would very much appreciate a pragmatic and reasoned (dare I say sane?) approach to their reporting, and maybe make them some money. Or at least that a good-sized slice of the American public hopes they die in a fire.

  3. ripley says:

    The problem is, the protest isn’t about pragmatic reasoning, it’s solely about tone. This leads to the pernicious reality of the pseudo-left newspapers who waffle about torture in “reasonable” language, or address the two sides of the creationism “debate.” Tone matters, I guess, so but so does content. The presence or absence of meaningful facts and arguments based on reality are more important than any of this handwringing about the way things are said.

    It’s not the wacky tone of the fanatics that bothers me about the Tea Party, wacky people have often been at the forefront of social change – it’s the separation from reality, the unreasoning allegiance to some kinds of authority and distrust of others, and the reliance on, fomenting of racism and sexism.

    On that note, racism is not a “tone” – racism is making arguments that assume and enforces racial hierarchy. Same with sexism, etc. They are not tones of voice, they are substantive stances. I don’t actually care about the tone of sexist or racist statements – or actually, “reasonable and calm” sounding racism is worse because people are rewarded for it and then their arguments have credence.

  4. JP says:

    The Stewart-Colbert rally succeeded on the first level as entertainment. The upbeat mood even in the face of massive crowds is a statement unto itself — even despite the fact that the organizers grossly underestimated the turnout and their preparations reflected the same. (Note to self — if 220K people on Facebook say they are going to attend your event, there’s a chance that 220K people might actually show).

    I feel extremely fortunate to have been a participant in the event, because it’s unlikely that you can ever repeat the conditions for that kind of a rally again. It was truly a once in a lifetime kind of experience.

    The people — the costumes and the signs, and even at least one float — the true unbridled creativity — is what helped to make the event what it was. The weather also cooperated. A little bit of rain would have been devastating for all that inspired signage.

    Colbert-Stewart helped to create a mood — they also delivered some funny routines and segments — the musical acts were well chosen — but the crowd at the event was something that really made it a special occasion.

    As far as a message or anything goes, who knows. I think the event was more about creating a certain kind of mood for the audience. It was more of a cultural event than a political one.

    It was interesting too how the event was kind of framed similar to the Colbert Christmas special as the “education of Stephen Colbert”. e.g. the storyline in this one was Stephen’s movement from someone who was living in a fear bunker to someone who emerged into the world and was able to make peace — at least temporarily — with some of his fears. The resolution at the end struck me as a bit false — I think Colbert in reality has the stronger argument (e.g. some viewpoints are irreconcilable and people who are resistant to reason giving aren’t likely to be open to reasoned persuasion). Stewart’s monologue — while a nice touch — reminded me a bit of the old GI Joe cartoon “knowing is half the battle”. Stewart’s heart is in the right place, but the substance of his analysis too-often relies heavily on the old False Equivalence and Golden Mean Fallacy.

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