Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Orwell's 1984 women and the Poison Peds

Visit the Left Blogosphere and you'll find plenty of references about Orwellian doublespeak that have emanated from the Republican Party and its supporters over the years.

Zooming in on the female characters of Orwell's 1984 and comparing them to American females today, these two grafs from a summary struck me as capturing the present state of the feminist movement, one that has lost solidarity and clout since the 1970s albeit still alive with passionate heroines. With emphasis added:

Winston finds that Julia has a defiant attitude to the Party. With her, the whole thing came down to a battle of wits, the Party wanted to stop you from having a good time, if you were smart enough, you outwitted them and had a good time anyway. She did not indulge in the kind of romantic visions about organized rebellion against the Party like Winston did. She did not believe the Brotherhood existed, or if it did, she did not care. The Party mattered to her only as it impinged on her personal life.

Winston recalls his relationship with his wife Katherine and Julia tells him that she should not be blamed personally, the Party tries its level best to make all women like that. Only a few like Julia avoid ending up as frigid carbon copies of each other. Like Winston, Julia also realizes that sooner or later the thought police will catch up with them. The difference between their attitudes is that he is fatalistic about death while she is determined to cheat the Party by getting the most out of life.

Perhaps overall, though I tempt an oversimplification on the subject, Julias in America have overtly in futility or passively by default decided that if they cannot beat Big Brother and the entrenched anti-feminist patriarchal establishment, they instead will focus on the business of life by dropping out of participation in politics all together. They juggle education, careers, relationships, and family, which in today's economy, requires the lion's share of a 24-hour day depriving them of sleep, relaxation, and leisure activities.

As for the Katherines, the "frigid carbon copies" of Orwell's novel, they remind me of the women of the poisonous pedagogy, a phrase authored by world-renowned psychiatrist Alice Miller about dysfunctional and destructive parenting. In the Poison Ped system, women (mothers) often defer to men (fathers) as enablers. Diane Connors from her interview with Miller wrote:

Miller uses the phrase poisonous pedagogy to describe what we inflict on children "for their own good" out of our hypocrisy and ignorance. She perceives that we instill humiliation, shame. fear, and guilt as we are "training" children. By encouraging conformity, suppressing curiosity and emotions, a parent reduces a child's ability to make crucial perceptions in later life. "Children are tolerant. They learn intolerance from us."


"My antipedagogical position is not directed against a specific type of pedagogy," Miller notes, "but against pedagogical ideology in general, which can be found also in the permissive theories." She fears that as a consequence of adults' arrogant attitudes -- including "permissive" attitudes - toward children's feelings, children are trained to be accommodating. But their own voices will be silenced, and their awareness killed. And more blind and arrogant adults will be the result.

Tying a psychoanalyst's viewpoint to politics isn't that hard. Berkley linguistics professor George Lakoff in his book, Don't Think of An Elephant, writes about the stern father. Linda Milazzo quoted and commented on Lakoff:

" far as I have been able to discern, neocons believe in the unbridled use of power (including state power) to extend the reign of strict father values and ideas into every domain, domestic and international...... On the whole the right wing is attempting to impose a strict father ideology on America and, ultimately, the rest of the world."

Lakoff goes on to say, "Strict father morality defines what a good society is. The good society is threatened by liberal and progressive ideas and programs. That threat must be fought at all costs. The very fabric of society is at stake."

Perhaps this need for a strict father helps explain why the United States Senate is complicit in loading the Supreme Court with Executive Branch devotees who will usurp the power of their own Legislative Branch. Perhaps the whole 'whose your daddy?' concept goes right to the heart of how the adult men and women in the Senate and House cravenly relinquish authority to Mr. Bush whenever he gives them a squint and a swagger. Maybe visions of belt buckles and tool sheds dance in their wee little heads.

Lakoff's hypothesis does make sense when one considers the principal accepted characteristic of a stern father: absolute authority, uncontested and rightfully ordained.

In the moral absolutes of stern father George W. Bush, who Charles P. Pierce described as Daddy Darkest, the president's authority must not be challenged. If one dares as John McCain, John Kerry, Paul O'Neill, and Joe Wilson did, bad things happen. The dogs will be let loose to mete revenge, disinformation, attack ads, whisper campaigns, and Swift Boat character assassinations. God help you if you get in the way of the Codpiece-in-Chief's quest to systematically bend the American will to his ideological agenda with help from the "paternalistic delusions" of the "elite, celebrity media," the Religious Right, his corporate propagandists, the 101st Keyboarders, Wingnut Blogosphere, his Rubber Stamp Congress, and ultimately through an unchecked executive power that's unprecedented in U.S. history.

In such an oppressive, fearful climate as we have today, the feminist movement has been checkmated not only by Big Daddy Bush's patriarchy, eclipsed by Oedipus Tyrannus Wrecked, but also by enabling handmaidens. Yup, there are a lot of wacky doodle women who have forgotten they have ovaries, not balls on loan from privileged misogynists. I'll add to this list over time, but for now, my top top of mind nominees for the Women of the Poison Peds include contemporary and old-school enablers.

Condi Rice
To begin at No. 1, the WH-insider who spread mushroom cloud nuclear fear-mongering in the march to war in Iraq is Condoleezza Rice. I just can't face my disappointments in Rice right now. They are too many. She could have been a contender but she chose a path via big oil a long time ago before joining forces with Junior. As always, Media Matters offers a time vault of Condi Rice's complicity with Big Daddy Bush. ThinkProgress too.

Phyllis Schlafly
I'm not sure where to rank Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum's patriarchal mouthpiece, but she's acted as the Religious Right's figurehead for the "ladies." Pam Spaulding has the details.

Ann Coulter
Somewhere in the top ten, I would place near the top the angry Ann Coulter, queen of hateful spew whose venom competes with wacky doodle Fred Phelps.

Elizabeth Dole
She puts a smiley face on GOP Stepford Wives. Need I say more?

Michelle Malkin
Blogger Michelle Malkin's favorite pastime, besides bashing all things liberal, includes attacking blabbermouths. Why does she feel so protective of Republicans who orchestrated the Iraq War, shredded the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment, and who owe us explanations? I wonder what she thinks of free speech zones? Just arrest the antiwar moonbats? Or is it OKIYAR skipping merrily beside Big Daddy Bush while holding his hand and flipping your ponytail side to side? La-la-dee-dah.

Karen Hughes
OMG! The spinner of Bush's Orwellian doublespeak and another enabling handmaiden, Karen, along with Karl Rove, has been by George's side since Texas. If Karl has operated as Bush's Brain, Karen has been George's spiel-bumblin' Mouth. Her new job to add value to the U.S. brand in the Mideast has worked so well, no?

There are plenty more WOTPP and I'll add them as time permits.

Nominations are open so leave your votes in comments.

Coming soon: Men of the Poisonous Peds (MOTPP). A preview from Glenn Greenwald is here, from Sadly No here, and Jamison Foser at Media Matters always provides a great read chocked full of facts. Can't leave out Pam's Guide to the Top 20 AmTaliban, some of the worst wacky doodles of the patriarchy.