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Monday, August 25, 2008

The name wasn't my idea

posted by bitchphd
Women's Equali-Tea ---primary goal is to rally the troops for obama; possibly a little anxiety about clinton supporters?? or is that just an artefact of honoring stephanie tubbs-jones? hard to say, but clinton is mentioned almost as frequently as obama, and there seems to be a deliberate emphasis on the idea that obama *is* good for women....

Ah yes, feminists = baby killers. Tons of anti-abortion protesters outside the University Club protesting the "Women's Equali-Tea" on Women's Equality Day at the DNCC. Lots of cops, too, just in case any of us butch feministas decide to pop a protester in the mouth. (Kidding! I kid!) Actually, the protesters were by and large young, hip-looking women; whoever coordinated this particular protest was pretty savvy about appearances.

Inside, once again, we have air conditioning. Not quite enough, initially, and I myself am beginning to smell! So unladylike. Cruising the room for a minute, I talk to a few nurses from California who invite me to tomorrow's reception in support of a single-payer health system--GO NURSES--which'll be followed by a Poncho Sanchez concert. But if I attend the concert, I won't be able to pick up Sybil at the airport! Which do I love more, Sybil or Latin jazz? Tough decision....

So we appear to be getting started late. Kim Gandy is shmoozing; she actually high-fived someone. I can't get a picture of her because she keeps moving. The "real" press guys, with their enormous cameras and their big boom mikes, are a major pain in the ass in this hugely crowded room, which makes me feel much better about my pathetic little phone camera. Which, dammit, Kim Gandy just cruises by me and I'd put it away. Oh well.

Yes! We're getting started. Kathy Spillar, the vp of Feminist Majority and exec. editor of Ms. Magazine, gets everyone to pipe down. Much applause and hooting at the announcement that we're celebrating 88 years of women's right to vote. Spillar says that "the gender gap will be decisive this year."

First up is Barbara Boxer. "After the last election when we heard about all the problems that occurred in Ohio, I understood that there had to be at least one senator to stand up and object to the electoral vote in Ohio.... so I went to Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, I said Stephanie, this is a tough thing and it's unpopular, and I need to know from you, were there problems in Ohio and lay those problems out for me. And Stephanie, who I respect so much . . . . said Barbara, I saw the lines. I saw single mothers who had to go home to pick up their kids and they waited on line for four hours and they never voted..... And I thank so much NOW for honoring her today."
"We know there are some people who are hurt from the primary . . . . I know how it feels, but I tell you, we must be united...." HUGE applause.

Boxer goes on: ""John McCain has a zero voting record from NARAL. Do you understand?" Mentions voting record on insurance companies and birth control, domestic violence, league of conservation voters, Ledbetter.
Re. former Clinton supporters supposedly supporting McCain: "Listen up. You're gonna have to get out there. You have the credibility. The men and women in this world, you're feminists..... So tonight when you get to that hall, and when you hear Michelle Obama speak, get up on your feet.... here's a woman who did it for herself.... Barack Obama the same, Joe Biden the same. They did it for themselves.... And they're gonna fight for the American dream for the middle class and for all...."

Boxer's "zero" line will be repeated by several other people for the next hour. Also, pretty much everyone is going to eulogize Tubbs-Jones, as well as mentioning Clinton. The combination ends up giving the event an odd feeling of minor defensiveness, but generally the message is "go Obama."

Next we have the Chair of the Congressional Women's Black Caucus Carorlyn Cheeks Kilpatrick: "We've got much work to do.... Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones will always be in our hearts, for her.... [and the young women] let us rise up and build.... God bless you, let's get to work."

Women's Caucus Chair Lois Capps, from just up the road in Santa Barbara: "We want to grow to be the feminist majority in the US Congress... She (Tubbs Jones) was a powerful voice....
"bring out the vote"
"And you know there is a huge difference between the candidates."

Congresswoman Lynn Wolsey: "It won't be long before we have somebody in the White House that not only has a heart but has a brain. What that means to women is we have somebody that wil be with us that understands our power, appreciates our power, and will work with us as we work with him in the Congress and the Senate so that we can insure what Stephanie Tubbs Jones would want us to be doing and that is making a world for our children and our families..."

Olga somebody introduces Jackie Spear from San Francisco, who says, "I"m one of the newest members to Congress and I had a very brief time to spend with Stephanie Tubbs Jones.... each of us is called to do something and if we don't do it, it won't get done. That means each and everyone of us much stand up like Stephanie stood up.... George Bush got reelected because millions of women voted for him and not John Kerry. We can't let that happen this time. We must go out and convince millions of women and men across the country that not just the White House is at stake but the Supreme Court is at stake."

Maxine Waters. Okay, Maxine Waters is *clearly* the star of this event. Big whoops from the crowd. Waters shushes us down, and begins. "There are not a lot of good and wonderful times in Washington D.C. with this administration. The only time that I really feel good about what I do is when I'm with you. [applause.] Thank you so much for the support. [more applause] Thank you so much for the advocacy. [still more . . . oh, you get the idea] Thank you so much for standing up for the women of this nation and others. when i came in today they had the protesters outside and you wonderful women said let me escort you in. You don't understand; I don't need any escort. They need to look out for me..... [applause and cheers] We have marched in the rain, we have marched in the snow we have marched against the anger and the kind of women that are out there today, and I'm gonna tell you they do not frighten us, they do not intimdate us, we feel sorry for them. We feel sorry for them because they do not understand, they can't control their lives if they do not control their bodies.

We honor Stephanie Tubbs-Jones... she was on the trail for Hillary Clinton, she did not move, she did not budge, she was talked about.... She said, when I make a commitment I'm going to stick with that commitment. I committed to Hillary and i'm going to stand with her, and god bless her, she did..... We cannot afford to have John McCain. He is worse than a neanderthal. [laughter, cheers] We cannot afford to have someone in the White House that talks about undoing Roe vs. Wade.... We've got to make sure that our issues are not compromised by anybody, at any time, any place..... We've got a bright, energetic, confident, wonderful person that's gonna be nominated on Tuesday, and I want you to know that nobody is going to work harder and do better for you than we can do for ourselves.... when we talk about choice, we talk about freedom of choice, we talk about conception and when does life begin. It cannot be above our pay grade, we've got to be said what needs to be said, no matter when what and how...." (huge applause)

President of Feminist Majority Eleanor Smeal: "I can remember when we had twelve votes on the floor, but now [feminists are] everywhere, and this platform that's going to be adopted tomorrow is the strongest platform for women's rights ever adopted by a major party in the united states. Don't let anybody say that this is a weaker platform or that they forgot this or that.... It says emphatically that they not only stand for roe they oppose any and all efforts to undermine it.... health care.... the principal author is Karen Kornbluh . . . Senator Biden has been there with us time and time again.... He authored the Violence Against Women act and made sure it was reauthorized both in 2000 and 2006 when McCain voted against it.... we've got a strong ticket and i think one of the most exciting things is that there are women's rights candidates...."

Smeal gets laughs and applause on closing, when she says, "I just want you to know from all of us, we are sorry that this isn't a bigger room, we will never make that mistake again."

Kim Gandy from NOW speaks next: a very short speech, mostly quotations. Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony. I'm distracted from Gandy's speech by Maxine Waters moving through the crowd with a full-on entourage, shaking hands and looking positively regal. The crowd parts before her like she was Moses or something.

There were lots of other speakers--Connie Shultz from the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, who gives a very moving eulogy of her "girlfriend" Tubbs-Jones; Dolores Huerta (SO pissed that my phone battery is dead), who gets a lot of applause and has everyone chant "Viva Hillary! Viva Obama! Viva the Feminists! Si se Puede!" Ellen Malcolm, the head of Emily's List; Latifa Lyles, the vice president of NOW Membership; Carolyn Mahoney from New York; E. Faye Williams, the Chair of the National Congress of Black Women, who reprises the "zero" line, making it a pithier, "are we ready to elect a hero or a zero?" Betsy Clark, the President and CEO of the National Council of Social Workers, who makes the really moving point that "for the past seven years, social workers have watched with horror what's happened in this country"; Kimberly Crenshaw, who recently wrote a piece about Ward Connely for Ms. Magzine; Donna Edwards, and finally, very briefly, Stephanie Tubbs-Jones's son, whose name I'm afraid I missed. He says that his mother "loved every cause that you guys stand for," and thanks everyone graciously for coming.

Special bonus feminist note: at one point during the talks, a glass was broken on the floor near me. A middle-aged woman stooped down to try to clean it up with some cocktail napkins, rather ineffectually to be sure; then she found a towel somewhere and covered the glass and liquid. The gesture seemed to me very, well, womanly, and reminded me of the 2004 March for Women's Lives, where a lot of very important people were very accessible and gracious.

Later, while pointing out a few vips in the audience, Kathy Spillar acknowledges the woman who'd cleaned up the glass. Turns out she was Dottie Lamb, the former first lady of Colorado. So, so classy. Kudos, Ms. Lamb.


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