We have a job this year: Harshing the sexist mellow. If you’re not familiar with the phrase “harshing my mellow,” you may be a bit confused by the jargon. Harshing a mellow means to interfere one way or another with the “high” of another person, whether that high is due merely to a good mood, or the imbibing of some intoxicant. It’s basically drug slang that was made popular on college campuses throughout the 1980s and 1990s, hence my familiarity with it.
When we talk about harshing the sexist mellow, we are talking about bringing down the buzz that acts of sexism and misogyny bring to the perpetrator. These things–sexism & misogyny–act like drugs on the person perpetrating them. We saw this in 2008 with the sly grins of the boys who held up the “Iron my shirt” sign at a Clinton rally, and on the beaming faces of the men and women on the left who proudly wore their “Sarah Palin is a cunt” shirts. It was evident on the faces of John Favreau and his buddy as they groped the cardboard cutout of Hillary Clinton’s body shortly after Obama’s election. We saw it in the discourse about women candidates all through 2008 and 2010. It’s a drug and it makes perpetrators giddy. Our job this year is to rob them of this opportunity.
But how? What won’t work is continuing to bitch about it. They don’t care if your feelings are hurt. They don’t care if your daughters or their daughters pay the price; most of the people who are doing it don’t even have children yet. If they do, they think they can fix the world in time for them, which is, of course, ridiculous. Patriarchy has been under siege at least since Mary Wollstonecraft published her treatise, A Vindication of The Rights of Women in 1792, and more broadly since John Stuart Mill penned The Subjugation of Women in 1869, thus bringing many men onboard. While progress has been made, the war is barely half over and we have much to do to win it. Complaining doesn’t work. Complaining just wastes your energies and keeps you bogged down in your own negativity. And that is a recipe for failure.
That means we have to be smarter, faster, and in some cases, stealthier than the sexists and misogynists. One of the things we can do is promote analytical arguments that directly address the sexism on display. For example, let’s take the case of the phony “war on women.” Journolisters and their friends are busy selling the war on every front to which they have access. One of the ways we can address this is to use the rhetoric of the left against them. Do you remember 2006 and the book Crashing the Gate? Written by Markos Moulitsas, who was the mouthpiece for the left at the time (his fortunes have since floundered) and his partner, Jerome Armstrong, the book encouraged Democrats to give up their special interests for the sake of Unity. I wrote about it in 2008, in my article Extreme Offense. Here’s a quote:
I refer you to chapter 2, This Ain’t No Party:
The Democratic Party for too long has been a group of constituencies instead of a party. ~Howard Dean, June 4, 2005
Yes, that Howard Dean, the head of the DNC. That’s how the chapter opens, and then it goes on to bemoan the fact that the Democratic Party is a “gaggle of special and narrow interests, often in conflict with each other, rarely working in concert to advance their common cause.” …
The second chapter of Crashing the Gate goes on to name the constituencies, and the so-called problems with each one of them. What they all have in common, of course, is that they demand accountability to their cause. But Markos and Jerome argue that these groups should just “get over it” already, and accept the fact that we have to have pro-life Democrats, that we have to have blue dogs, and Bush dogs. They argue that these kinds of Democrats can be disciplined in caucus into voting Democratic, so the only thing that matters if the -D after their name. It is that last argument that reveals their true authoritarian inclinations. Rather than finding people to elect as Democrats who have actual Democratic values, they’ll elect anyone who claims to be a Democrat and then try to force them into agreement.
This six-year-old rhetoric didn’t last long if the Campaign for the War on Women© is any indication. Just six years after asking women to set aside their affinity for reproductive rights, those same reproductive rights are being used to push women back into line for Democrats. So which is it? Are we to only give up focus when it matters to male Democrats? Are we to care again, also only at the behest of male Democrats? The question, when framed like this, becomes, “When do you get to think for yourself and care about what YOU want?” And “Why are Democrats changing their minds so much? Do they really support women, or do they just want to use them?” Also, “What progress have Democrats made for women recently, anyway?” Then you can shift the conversation to economic empowerment, which really should be the centerpiece of feminism. The point is, you should draw attention to this completely contradictory rhetoric as often as you can, wherever you can. It will damage their credibility further.
The lesson here is know your enemy. Find out what they’ve said and then find the places where they contradict themselves. They always do. Everyone does. Contradiction is a state of human nature. All you need do is find it and create an argument around it, then promote it wherever the Campaign for the War on Women© is occurring, including in comments online, the Twitterverse, Facebook, and of course, in our daily conversations. Never forget, the men and women of the left who engage in these sexist and misogynistic games are getting high from it. Nothing brings a buzz down faster than being real and being informed. Throw their manipulations in their faces and watch as they take the bait and spend time trying to justify their actions. Common sense will prevail for the vast majority of readers, those not already on a kool aide drip, anyway. Be who you are, but arm yourself with the facts first. Then go speak your truth, because you are as entitled as anyone to voice your opinion. Your time is NOW!
What are YOUR ideas for how to harsh the sexist mellow? Post ‘em in comments!
(Cross-posted from P&L.)