The Vision Thing

Protected Species

Cath Elliott shares her wisdom in today’s Comment is Cheap Free. The self-proclaimed feminist and trades union activist targets an Aspen Times column by Gary Hubbell, whose grumbling about the presidential candidates’ alleged pandering to special interest groups is promptly, and inevitably, compared to that of the BNP. What catches the eye, though, is Elliott’s highlighting of this passage from Hubbell’s article:

Angry White Man loathes Hillary Clinton. Her voice reminds him of a shovel scraping a rock. He recoils at the mere sight of her on television. Her very image disgusts him, and he cannot fathom why anyone would want her as their leader.

A fair point, one might think. Much as many have recoiled from the current incumbent of the White House, due in part to his limited ability to convey whatever thought processes may take place behind his eyes. Ms Elliott adds,

This isn’t because she’s a woman, he goes on to say, but because she is who she is.

Again, sounds like a fair point. My own impression of Hillary Clinton is of a shrill and dissembling harpy forever peddling victimhood - quite often her own - and struggling with rather vengeful authoritarian urges. Pointing that out says nothing in particular about the rest of womankind, at least among those of us who think in terms of individuals, not symbols of some designated group. However, Ms Elliott disagrees: 

I for one don’t believe him. Hubbell and his new-found cheerleaders across the net give the game away when they reserve the worst of their ire for Hillary Clinton. This isn’t about a crisis of identity for poor working class men; it’s a defence of masculinity and a last desperate effort to cling on to the power that men have enjoyed for centuries. Just another anti-Hillary misogynist rant, then.

And nothing at all like a hackneyed far left rant against the “defence of masculinity” - which, as every good-hearted person knows, is an unspeakable vice and almost certainly a cover for something more unspeakable still. But hold on a minute. Does this mean that we men folk aren’t allowed to take a dim view of a presidential candidate if she happens to be a woman? What about Clinton’s female critics - do they get some special license to be unkind by virtue of having internal genitalia? What about men who dislike Hillary Clinton but quite like Condoleezza Rice? And, by the same thinking, does any disparaging of Cath Elliott immediately signal misogyny and oppression, regardless of what claptrap falls from her mouth? Are quasi-Marxist power dramas and the dislike of an entire gender the only conceivable motives here? And if I point out that Ms Elliott looks and sounds like an Eighties cliché, is that just my desperate attempt to cling to masculine power? I think we should be told.



I guess she doesn't read liberals, then, who have over the last few months discovering what we have known about the Clintons since the 90s, things they used to poo-poo. And she forgets that we love Maggie Thatcher.


Are you thinking of Millie Tant by any chance?


Ah, the classics.


"And, by the same thinking, does any disparaging of Cath Elliott immediately signal misogyny and oppression, regardless of what claptrap falls from her mouth?"

Yes. As anybody who even lightly skims her writings on CiF or Liberal Conspiracy doth know.

Now go and wash your mouth young man and say 10 Hail Maries to the Goddess.

Alice H


Some people just don't get it.

I don't hate women, it'd be sad if I did, seeing as I am one. What I don't want to see in office is a woman who doesn't acknowledge that her husband is a danger to other women, through rape and abuse of power and perjuring himself when he's confronted with it. A woman who would put her own political gain above that of women who her husband has victimized has no business running the country.

I like seeing women in politics, and I think the country is ready for a woman president, and I'd really enjoy seeing certain parts of the world pitch a hissy fit over our country being led by a woman, especially if we got the opportunity to bomb the crap out of them while being led by that woman. I don't think Hillary is the right choice for the first woman president, though - I want someone who is truly a strong woman, and a strong woman doesn't put up with her man diddling around on her, and certainly doesn't cover for him at the expense of other women when he does it. There are plenty of women in politics who will be able to fill those shoes, without the baggage that Hillary comes with, or without it being able to be said that she only made it there because of the popularity of her husband.


Elliott’s piece is a tangle of generic and tendentious assumptions, chiefly surrounding the notion that women and minorities are “underprivileged” by virtue of being… well, women and minorities.

We’re told that “women, ethnic minorities and all the other ‘special interest’ groups… are still underrepresented in virtually all walks of life despite decades of equalities legislation both here and in the US.” Though there’s no pause to ask why it is that all conceivable categories of mankind should occupy a “representative” distribution in every given sphere. Nor is there much pondering of why it is that “decades of equality legislation” has failed to produce the non-differentiated Jerusalem that Ms Elliott seems to long for. Those less ideological in outlook might, for instance, wonder whether the underlying assumption of a default 1:1 gender ratio is faulty in some way.

I doubt Ms Elliott is inclined to consider the possibility that people may actually choose some occupations over others for reasons of their own. Why must one assume that a statistical gender difference in, say, politics or drama or the oil industry is therefore undisputable proof of systematic and egregious discrimination? We’ve already discussed the marked gender bias in chess grandmasters, for instance, which seems related to disposition and psychological variables at least as much as anything else.

This isn’t to say that unfair discrimination doesn’t exist; merely that a prevalence of men (or women) doesn’t in itself prove what many would *like* it to prove.

J. Peden

Cath Elliott just doesn't like the individual free-thought capacity, and instead more resembles an angry, bigoted word-salad: an anti-free thought racist, if you will. At least that's how I explain this strange phenomenon known as "Progressivism" - in part.


There is an interesting contrast. Throughout the eighties, no feminist was even a little bit happy that Thatcher was PM or that she became such an iconic figurehead - an "ism" no less. My memory of that time is that she claimed to be pursuing a men's agenda so she didn't count.


"I'd really enjoy seeing certain parts of the world pitch a hissy fit over our country being led by a woman, especially if we got the opportunity to bomb the crap out of them while being led by that woman."

I don't know whether it is true or not but I recall reading that female leaders throughout history have tended to be more warlike. Think Thatcher and the Falklands, Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, even Elizabeth I.


It’s a stunning piece of hokum and, despite its pretensions of radicalism, hilariously old-fashioned. There’s the disingenuous grumbling about “equal pay” between men and women. No specific employers are mentioned, of course. I’m guessing Elliott is referring to a general pay disparity, which is overwhelmingly based on a person’s choice of job and the fact that many women elect to leave their careers in order to have babies. Ditto the quip about waiting “200 years before we achieve an equal number of women in parliament.” So far as I know, no-one is barring women candidates; quite the reverse. Perhaps Ms Elliott wishes to short-circuit the inconvenience of democracy and little details like whether suitable candidates have actually chosen to stand.

Presumably, Ms Elliott also believes that people who decide not to vote for Obama are, by definition, motivated by racism. And, by the same logic, people who bitched about Margaret Thatcher were driven only by misogyny. Or perhaps not. And then there’s the insinuation that any disaffection felt by (gasp) white males is somehow interchangeable with the views and ambitions of the BNP. That the Guardian’s comment editor should publish this kind of claptrap speaks volumes.

J. Peden

I’m guessing Elliott is referring to a general pay disparity...

It's hard to guess what word-salads are saying. The [telling and] only reason we try to is that they are word-salads, while we give them much too much credit for perhaps being something else. The fact that we even have to guess so much to fill in the blanks usually indicates that what is being "said" is a word-salad, the essence of the "Progressive" mind at work, put forth as a desparate sham against its arch enemy, individual free-thought.

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