| Kinder, Küche, Kirche
Even presidential candidates are judged on their Breedability Quotient
By Ellen Snortland
Buy or find your copy of Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel "The Handmaid's Tale" for a fictionalized framework for watching current events unfold from a breedability quotient (BQ) perspective. Watch the brazen and breeding goings-on of the breakaway Mormon sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) in Eldorado, Texas, and the symbolic pummeling of post-breeding-aged Hillary Rodham Clinton in the mainstream media. They are related.
There are said to be more than 400 children who have been "freed" to not breed, "liberated" from the compound called the Yearning for Zion Ranch. They may need to rename it "Yearning for Bail Ranch," but that's a whole other column. The details are astounding: a bed found in the temple is alleged to be a ritual breeding platform for newly pubescent girls. The authorities needed buses to "haul" the 133 women and hundreds of girls away from a compound founded by now-incarcerated ravisher of relatives and youth, Warren Jeffs, the notorious outlaw FLDS leader.
Boy, those who put the "fun" in fundamentalist FLDS males sure like their high BQ breeding-aged females. They're contained; their heads and hands kept busy with the children, church and kitchens. One wonders what they have done with the no or low BQs: menopausal women - the throwaways. Another "movement," the Nazis, had a similar approach to females: prescribing the proper role of women to be "kinder, küche, kirche." Translated: "Children, kitchen, church."
And now, during this primary season, Clinton is challenging the whole kinder, küche, kirche fundamentalist paradigm. Clinton dares to flout the most fundamental insult to patriarchal values: women are not only breeders, but leaders. In authoritarian cultures, women who are past childbearing age are relegated to quiet offstage roles, whether that's the safe grandma; nun, off in a convent, let's say embroidering vestments for an all-male priesthood; or decent docent helping visitors in museums dominated by mostly all-male artists or artifacts. (Put down your pens. I'm not attacking grandmothers, nuns, embroidery or docents.)
Clinton is raising a lot of gleeful misogyny in more than a few male supremacists - men and women - because she won't go quietly into the proper middle-aged woman pasture. It's no accident the right-wing fanatics hate her so; she threatens the "casting" schemes of ardent traditionalists. She also raises the ire of so-called progressive men who have really never addressed their own rigid addiction to BQ: a woman's value is based on her "hotness," or lack thereof. It's difficult to transform attitudes if the attitudes are denied. They are currently very much on display.
Where do the attacks on Clinton's looks and voice come from? The simple answer is sexism, a rigid rule system that determines what's "proper" for women and men. Men and women who stray from the proper construct and explore different relational models are heretics. As the author of "The Chalice and the Blade," Riane Eisler so brilliantly writes that the two basic systems religions, society and families use are the dominator or partnership models. Hyper-masculinity or femininity exists within the dominator structure, limiting and damaging everyone. Men and women who are comfortable with each other as human beings and partners - not relating to them solely as their anatomy - don't have to attack women's BQ. Gloria Steinem said, "However sugar-coated and ambiguous, every form of authoritarianism must start with a belief in some group's greater right to power, whether that right is justified by sex, race, class, religion, or all four. However far it may expand, the progression inevitably rests on unequal power and airtight roles within the family." Thus the expression "wearing the pants in the family" is still very much in play as code for "who's the boss." A "breeder" female does NOT wear pants!
Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi is typical of the dominator-type male in a media that is having a field day objectifying Hillary, mostly with impunity. In the very first paragraph of his recent article "Hillary's Flimsy Case," he writes of her doing the "dual flabby-arm raise." No Brad Pitt himself, why would an ordinarily cogent political analyst like Taibbi introduce the firmness of HRC's arms but for her BQ?
Take a look at the YouTube video collage of all the Hillary-phobes, aka sexists; it's hard to watch but worth the view (www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcdnlNZg2iM).
Do you really think these fellows (and some gals) just manufacture and spew their sexist venom for one albeit very visible woman? No. These hatreds do not occur just for individuals.
"The Handmaid's Tale" chilled the spines of many a reader because that society banished menopausal women and contained mothers and breeders with tight control. Sounds like Eldorado, right? While many Hillary-phobes are not as flagrant as the FLDS polygamists, consider this: their contempt for women is similar. if not in degree, then in kind.
Sexism is not easy to erase since we all have some of it. Sexism is vestigial and often unexamined. Let's call it when we see it - including in ourselves - whether in its extreme as in the FLDS case or in the primary obsession with tearing Hillary Clinton apart from head to toe.
Ellen Snortland teaches a writing workshop in Altadena, click here for details.
Pasadena Weekly: 5/1/08