Monday, February 12, 2007

The Feminist Blogosphere Vs. Bill Donohue

I have sat with this for days now, trying to bring to fruition in language the tremendous anger, sadness, and yes—fear—that flooded me last week as I watched Amanda and Melissa become the targets of Christofascists' attacks. (For tremendous work on the topic, please see Liza's posts, including a full roundup of links to the feminist blogosphere's reaction.) I choose my words carefully, and when the urge comes upon me to let loose a string of expletives—necessary language for me sometimes, the ur language that boils forth from an angry soul—I try to tamp it down. I want to be heard.

One thing I do know. Jesus did not say: "Shut Your Pie Hole."

But Paul did: In I Corinthians, 14:34-35, he writes, Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.
And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.

Women, you see, are to be seen and not heard. But it was Paul who said that, Paul who took on the mantle of interpreting he who had already spoken. Paul put words in the mouth of the dead and called it church law.

"But," you say, "Look around. There are plenty of women out there speaking, writing, making noise. They are not told to shut up."
Oh, but my friends, they are. Last week, the John Edwards for President campaign was asked to fire two of its voices because those voices--with their consistent calls for women's equality; their sometimes sarcastic, angry venting against the injustices perpetuated against women using language that offended because it was considered profane; with their ceaseless calls for gender equality that sometimes, in rage, they thought might only happen when women were freed of the shackles of religions that keep them perpetually pregnant and slaves to their own reproductive systems--those voices, the Edwards campaign was told, were offensive.
Leading that charge was William Donohue, President of the Catholic League, who had no problem telling women to shut the fuck up. He has claimed a membership of 350,000, and using the hammer he thought such membership entitled him to swing, he went after the uppity women. And it's not just Amanda and Melissa. It's Rosie. And Joy. And Barbara. And Mara. And Brenda.

from the "Tucker" show on Wednesday, February 7, 2007, was chilling. This exchange, in which Donohue brags about silencing women and Tucker Carlson cheers him on was nauseating.

DONOHUE: Well, (INAUDIBLE) in 2004 worked for the Kerry/Edwards campaign. I found about her background and they had to silence her. Then they got Brenda Bartel Peterson (ph) to quit or be fired because of her background. What I‘m saying is this, these people are somewhat clueless. They are somewhat naive. They need to find out who is working for them.
You know, you‘ve got to vet these people. You need to have a gate keeper. Apparently they don‘t have one.
CARLSON: I have the feeling they‘re going to have one from now on.
DONOHUE: I hope the Republicans and the Democrats are all watching this carefully, because there‘s a lot of Bill Donohues out there which are watching this.
(quotations from the transcript are sic.)

(By the way, the "Inaudible" from the transcript is not inaudible at all. You can watch the video below the fold. I heard the name the first time Donohue said it. It's
. And you should definitely look up her story.)

The entire video interview between Tucker and Bill is deeply disturbing. Why? Well, read through the transcript and see if there are men mentioned who need to be silenced. Silenced. Don't you love that word? What does it bring to mind? Muzzles? Ball gags? Women should be seen and not heard; isn't this one of the principal messages of conservative Catholicism, fundamentalist Protestantism, fundamentalist Islam, fundamentalist Judaism? Shouldn't we all just shut the fuck up?

But Donohue messed with the wrong people. As soon as word got out that Amanda and Melissa had been attacked, the forces of the feminist blogosphere flexed its muscle and pushed back. And, as it turns out, we have at least two million voices—and growing—with which to counter the forces of misogyny.

My guess is, as this campaign season moves forward and the blogosphere plays a significant role in analyzing, persuading, cajoling, advocating, and venting—serving as a conduit between voters and the candidates who seek to represent them—we will see more of the Bill Donohue-type attacks on the left. What people write on their blogs will be read, archived, brought out at opportune moments to try to embarrass or, as Donohue hoped, silence us. But you know what? Fuck 'em. Fuck 'em all.

I speak only for myself, but I speak as a member of a network that I watched counter the ravings of a lunatic (and his nodding, guffawing puppet, Tucker). But as an individual I say this. I will not be silent. I will not be cowed. I am not a member of the Christian Church, and whatever woman-hating Paul said does not apply to me. It does not apply to the feminist blogosphere. We will not be moved. We will not be silent.
Just fucking deal with it.

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