Raise Consciousness and Change a Nation


I'm in a new Consciousness Raising group. Yes, it's a new twist on an old feminist tradition. The new twist is "What the fuck is going on?

What are CR groups? They are a feminist tradition from the women's movement. Feminists started consciousness raising groups in the 1960s and participated in them throughout the 1970s, and they were groundbreaking, because women had never really formally met with each other to discuss being female.

CR groups were a planned phenomenon, a series of meetings, inspired by the powerful personal testimonies during the Civil Rights Movement (African Americans gave testimony in churches detailing the experiences of their lives.) As the women's liberation movement was forming the idea to meet and talk with other women, privately in women's homes, was met with excitement. 

Consciousness Raising groups members changed our nation and as I reflect on their power I am reminded of the feminist and founder of the National Black Women's Health Project, Byllye Avery who said to me "I often wonder what life would be like if we hadn't stopped."

Yes, feminists stopped attending their CR groups for the most part and they died out as the monumental changes that the women's movement created were absorbed into the society. I have heard of some groups that are still ongoing, but they are rare. 

During the Women's Liberation Movement CR groups were in every city, town, and neighborhood. These local groups formed a strong underpinning to the national women's movement. Before we acted politically in public we formed our politics among each other.

Avery continued to say that if we had kept these groups alive, which were also building feminist political theory, "we would have a powerful force of women." A powerful force? Sounds good to me. She said, "We wouldn't have all this disconnect between what happened and what really happened."

I agree, the details of the Women's Liberation Movement are not shared among ourselves. Our memories grow old and like the brain itself, if you don't use it, you lose it. 

Avery suggested that if we had continued Consciousness Raising groups we would have a society where women could drop into an ongoing group, anywhere.

Imagine that, visit your parents in Seattle and drop in on a CR group! These groups would be places to connect with others and be repositories of knowledge. In a country with ongoing CR our history as women in America would been passed down through the decades since the women's movement to new generations, that's us. 

It was the consciousness raising groups of the 60s and 70s that provided the intellectual and emotional fuel for for the Women's Liberation Movement. 

How did they work? The feminists picked one topic and talked about it within their group until until the subject played out, Discussions ranged from marriage, children, employment, parents, anti-war movement, war, abortion, birth control.

They had rules and one of them was not to interrupt a woman as she was speaking. Interesting.

They were enlightening. The feminists started to see the connections between their own personal lives and the their public lives. For instance, perhaps a boss was not allowing a woman to rise from secretary to reporter and then through her CR group, she started to see the connection between her boss and her husband's or parents quashing of her ambitions. "The Personal Is Political" is a phrase born from the women's movement. 

Consciousness Raising changed our nation. 

The CR group in which I am a member is not covering personal experiences too much. We are shifting the topics to women and politics and discussing the current political situation as well. Things I want to discuss:

  • children and their rights as citizens
  • women and employment
  • women in congress
  • what life is like for women in countries who have had two female presidents (Let's skype!)
  • is the GOP putting our children in danger by backing Roy Moore
  • America's low global ranking on women in politics
  • why can't the United States seems to get a female president

The list will be a long one.

We are meeting face to face for the power of the interaction. Forget the computer screens and let's see one another. 

Perhaps after a few meetings with my sister CR participants I will see many reasons as to why female citizens are stymied in their road to power. Is our thwarted road to the White House a personal one?

If women revive CR groups in this terrible time for our country we can provide the emotional and intellectual underpinning necessary to combat the lies coming from our White House. This new consciousness can be seen as one national unit, so to speak, it can be the energy with which we can take our rightful place in our elected offices. 

The personal is political and, who knows what will be unearthed as women discuss the forces moving against us, citizens, as we take our rightful place in American politics.

"We should have looked at them as keeping groups together as long as people lived....We would have a powerful force of women and we wouldn't have all this disconnect between what happened and what really happened. Because people would know it. It would be ingrained, it would be within the fabric of their lives and of their consciousness." Byllye Avery

The Stench of Family Values

Daily, I try not to vomit. Today I failed, sort of. The robust endorsement of Judge Roy Moore, a hebephile, for U.S. Senate by the fraud Donald Trump was too much to bear.  Mr. 'grab 'em by the pussy' sees a like-minded man in Roy Moore. The very public recommendation on twitter by Trump was a 21st century man-to-man back slap. Molester to molester. Even Trump's ethics-challenged daughter couldn't stomach Roy Moore and declared last month that there is a "special place in hell for people who prey on children." 

Where this puts her father's place in the afterlife is clear. 

Here is the bottom line: The first female candidate for President of the United States, a woman with a background in the rights of children and women, was given the big smackdown by a party intent on turning our Oval Office into a patriarch's playroom. The GOP, a corrupt party of patriarchy, managed to eek out a electoral college victory that said to every girl in our nation; "Don't you dare aspire to rise to the top office in our nation."

They couldn't do it alone. They did it with the help of a male-identified authoritarian, Vladimir Putin.

Women and children are bearing the brunt of this humiliation. It's a familiar place for us. To put this horror show in context I look to history for a guide.

In 1965 our government published the sobering findings of the President's Commission on the Status of Women in the official 1965 government publication titled "American Women:  The Report of the President's Commission on the Status Of Women." The report detailed sobering facts about women's status in employment, income, voting rights, jury pools, marriage, social security, and more. Was there an outcry among our politicians? 

No. In fact, Ruth Rosen, feminist from the second wave of our nations great women's liberation movement sharply noted that those few women working in government at the time were humiliated by their emotional dismissal of the report. 

Rosen said, "Never underestimate humiliation as the source of a major social movement."

Then we had the Women's Liberation Movement. 

We will rise. We will succeed. We will lead. 


Hebephile - attraction to teen girls ages 11-14 by grown men

Hillary's Electoral Loss Is Our Fight

Letting this sink in today: In the 1980s Hillary fought for disabled children to go to preschool. She went undercover to make sure African American children were able to integrate in public schools. In Arkansas Hillary had to add the name Clinton to her name due to attacks on her by conservatives. By the time she was in the White House she had to drop the name Rodham altogether, due to more attacks on her. In the 1990s she alerted the world to the crime of sex-trafficking. Her work led to the first legislation ever that enabled us to prosecute sex-traffickers. She crossed the aisle to work with republicans on legislation that helped children; helping older children get adopted. She has always been deeply religious. 

Yet, so-called "family values" supporters voted for a man in 2016 who bragged about 'grabbing pussies.' 

They preferred this unworthy man over her. Her loss is a bellwether. It is historically significant. This loss, our loss, is huge because after sorting out the distractions you can see that this loss was all about putting a woman who fights for children in the White House. 

Let this sink in to your mind, deeply. It's important because this hate for women in our country is destroying our democracy. We will listen to the haters again, the hypocrites will run on family values tickets again.

Don't let them. It's over for them. Fight for us.

Can You Be A So-Called Pro-Lifer And Be A Feminist? Yes.

It was inevitable that an upset would momentarily take the spotlight off the power of the Women's March and place it on the archaic belief that feminists are just mean girls. The organizers of this great Women's March, that takes place the day after the inauguration of our first Russian President, originally included some anti-Trump groups who are, interestingly, anti-abortion. They were included as partners in the March, but almost as soon as they were included they were ousted when the information became public.

A mini drama unfolded and then a hashtag trended on twitter that was lauded by deplorables ( a word Hillary Clinton used to describe the white nationalist element of the Trump base) because it gave the Trumpers an opportunity to denigrate the Women's March. Purity is the enemy of forward progress.

I've done my share of pro-choice marching since 1980 and I have written the letters, donated the money and basically been on the pro-choice front lines for decades, but in my opinion the ousting of one particular anti-abortion group, "New Wave Feminists," was a mistake. (They refer to themselves as pro-life, but if I use that I'll be chastised, too.)

They were given the old heave-ho after a selective feminist media frenzy attacked the March organizers for partnering with these anti-abortion groups. "New Wave Feminists" were an official partner for almost a week and then they were not.

This morning I spoke with the head of "New Wave Feminists," Destiny Herndon-de la Rosa, and she stated that her group is not, in fact, conservative. She added that has always been an "anti-Trumper" and a political "independent." She said her group does not advocate overturning Roe vs. Wade, "We are only making criminals out of women if we try to overturn Roe."

Destiny commented on the GOP when she brought up, what she called a "Phyllis Schlafly position  "that abortion should be a partisan issue." She described that sentiment as the most "detrimental thing we ever did." It is her belief that this paved a strong path to a "Trump administration." That seems like a big leap, yet I agree.

All Trump had to utter were a few choice anti-abortion lines such as "I am pro-life" and that he believed there had to be "punishment" for women who got abortions in order to get anti-choicers to vote for him. (That authoritarian streak gets him a lot of mileage.) Trump was never outspokenly anti-choice, in fact it is common knowledge that he is pro-choice.

His words and this hyper-partisan atmosphere about women's body parts helped oust our first female President who is unequivocally pro-choice.

The GOP holds great power over the issue of abortion and that is a feminist issue.

If we are to continue to be seen as parts (pussy grabbing) and not whole women, we will stay on this narrow road to political equality.

This is where we are now in the United States, a dangerously partisan environment where everyone takes extreme sides. Running on a parallel track is the growing realization that women are having a difficult time reaching for political equality, especially in the White House, where we have a zero rating.

Hillary understood the need for common ground. She always worked across the partisan divide to get things done. As FLOTUS she worked tirelessly for children and in the 1990s, with Congressman Tom Delay, she was instrumental in spearheading and passing the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. Tom Delay was anti-choice. (In 2003 Delay had a zero rating from NARAL.)

Finding common ground, where we can, moves women and children forward. 

-Jennifer Hall Lee



Why It's A Women's March For Our Country


Hillary Clinton, courtesy U.S. State Department


It's a Women's March because the women of the USA just lost their first female President - a woman who spent her life fighting for women and children. We have another generation of girls growing up into women without seeing a woman in the Oval Office. This has an affect on women. The male lock box of Oval Office power holds our country back. Boys and men see the ultimate seat of power in our nation as male. This has an affect on them. It's a march for the country because America is behind many other nations in terms of political equality for women. This affects our society economically and socially. We are fighting for our country because the way our first female president lost was due to a rogue FBI director and a foreign power. Freedom of the press and our civil liberties are at risk. We are fighting for our country because this new administration does not have respect for our institutions that help to keep our democratic republic stable. - Jennifer Hall Lee

Kellyanne's Oxygen is Filled With Lies and Toxins

Joseph Stalin

She's glib, I'll give her that. Listening to Kellyanne Conway defend Donald J. Trump is one of the new lessons in propaganda that we are now witnessing; lie about the truth and state that what really happened never really happened. This morning I forced myself to sit through the interview with Kellyanne and Chris Cuomo about Meryl Streep on CNN and it was difficult, to say the least.

I still wake up in the morning with that election day stomach ache, so where did I get the energy to watch Kellyanne?

Why in a movie, of course. I recently watched a solid drama about Stalin's Soviet Union called “East/West." It was recommended to me by a friend who had left communist Hungary and now lives here in the golden state. I often ask her what life was like back in the old country. What was it like to not have the freedom of thought and speech? She told me that the film would give me a hint of the oppression. 

She was right, it got under my skin and then shortly after I watched Kellyanne.

Truth and lies. 

It all started when Meryl Streep smacked Trump hard on television and he got mad and when he's mad he tweets. 

In what is becoming standard operating procedure for this new administration a Trump tweet storm needs to be cleaned up. Kellyanne is sent out to tell us that there was no storm after all. Keep calm and carry on. 

The interview was a volley about the infamous rally where Trump mocked a New York Times reporter who is disabled. 

Cuomo batted a truth and Kellyanne vaulted back a lie couched in her soon to be trademarked fast-talk. The words fly, but they have no substance. 

How did I find the strength? 

What offended Trump so? Was it the reference to the New York Times journalist Serge Kovaleski who he mocked (he is disabled) or Streep's mentions of all the actors at the show who came from humble backgrounds with no family money to catch them if they fell. People whose only inheritance were our American values; dreams that come true through hard work and nothing to stop you, not even the tweets of a President-elect.

He tweeted his disapproval of Streep and referred to her as a "Hillary flunky." Take that Hillary women!

Tweeting isn't news, it's a opinion thrown out into the world with no accountability. It is not in any way the act of governing, but if a politician is a propagandist they have to control the message and twitter is a useful device. 

The purpose of propaganda is twofold: It can control unrest among people and also provide cover for any unethical things going on behind closed doors. The day of the tweet storm, coincidentally, news about the confirmation hearings for Trump's cabinet centered around the Government Ethics Office. Trump is rushing the confirmations even though all the ethics reports have yet to be completed. What's an appointee without an ethics report? Unaccountable.

Chris Cuomo did what needed to be done, he challenged Conway with the facts and it was good to watch. What was more interesting is what I learned from her.

Ms. Conway tried her best to rewrite history that has plainly been recorded for all to see; Trump's mocking of Kovaleski.

Cuomo: “Is she wrong that it was wrong for Trump to make gestures like that about a man like that with disabilities?”

Conway: “That is not what he did and he has said that a thousand times, as he tweeted out today, he has said a hundred times.”

Cuomo: “He can say it a million times, look at the video.”

Conway boldly replies with a re-write. 

Conway: “He was mocking the groveling.”

Groveling? Look at the video. Go to the source. The proof is there.

If that recording is ever changed it will be witnessed by all of us. So what is the next best thing to changing that recording of Trump mocking the journalist? Saying that we saw it incorrectly. Telling us that it is we who have the problem. Forcing us to accept their new interpretation of the gesture as something else entirely.

Conway believes, I think, that if she says it often enough the critique of Trump's bullying and childish behavior will stop and we all say that he was really, “...mocking the groveling.” In other words, we will also believe the lie. 

That is how facts are changed. This is how people begin to doubt their own eyes. That is control. 

by Jennifer Hall Lee

Progressive Sexism Holds Women Back from the Oval Office

Van Jones did it again, but he didn't say oops. With one sentence he dismissed Hillary's progressive work and brought back mid-20th century sexism to the forefront. In reference to the 2016 election he said that the "Clinton days are over." Note to Jones, the Clinton family wasn't running for President, Hillary was.

Hillary is a singular person distinct from her marriage. Does Van Jones see Hillary as a wife before he sees her as a person? Yes, it's possible. (I was surprised to hear his words as I have been impressed by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights which he co-founded. Ella Baker is a woman whose accomplishments haven't been as widely recognized as they should.)

His dismissal of Hillary is not a stand alone statement. In 2016 he referred to Hillary as a "workaholic do-gooder chick." This was during the historic primary where she broke the unspoken gendered political wall that barred women from being major party nominees. Surprisingly, Van Jones admitted this during the Democratic convention. He said it was at this point that he saw all the  "dots put together in the right way." I'm not sure if the dots were new information for Van Jones (they shouldn't have been), but there is far more he could have said about the political work of Hillary Clinton.

His words are an example of progressive sexism which is a tool used unconsciously by people on the left who see women's rights and children's rights as offshoots or subsets of the main male frame of politics. Their thinking is patriarchal.

Hillary did things no first lady has ever done. She blasted through multiple barriers for women in politics starting from the place as first lady. She turned a nationally recognized role as helpmate into a role as global warrior for women's rights. Many women can now follow in her shoes. To marginalize her as just part of a marriage is pre-women's liberation movement sexism at best. At worst it is the maintenance of patriarchal gender roles that keep the Oval Office solidly male.

In 2016 Hillary didn't run just to win. She did it to bring her significant skills to lead a nation and help change the world. Her life's work is an example of politics that includes women and children.

I was recently in Pakistan at the International Islamic University, Islamabad and female students (on the female campus) wanted to discuss the election. They were amazed that Hillary wasn't elected and added that they had been "rooting for her." Some were forlorn, others shocked, one was smiling in an embarrassed way. I could see that she was sad, yet perplexed at how Hillary did not win. She was looking at me as if to say, "Can't the American people see that we needed her?" I assured her that the majority of the voters could see them.

The words that come from the U.S. Presidency, and the President-elect, are heard around the world. (Think about this when you read his tweets and remember the "pussy" talk.)

Electing a woman such as Hillary to the Oval Office would have been a great change that would bring the issues of children and women to the forefront, globally. That changes our foreign policy and domestic policy. That "do-gooder chick" would have changed the lives of women world-wide.

Don't believe me? Study the nations where women are subjugated and notice that those countries are hotbeds for terrorism and violence. In those areas children's lives are marginalized and destroyed. We have never had a president speak to them in a way that Hillary would have spoken: as part of the mainframe of global politics.

This type of work is far more than just being a workaholic or a chick. Hillary wasn't just part of a Clinton family. Van Jones' words dismiss her truly progressive work. Perhaps he didn't connect the dots, but First Lady Michelle Obama most certainly did when she said about Hillary, "...we want a president who values and honors women, who teaches our daughters and our sons that women are full and equal human being worth, deserving of love and respect."

A woman in the Oval Office is needed now. 

Progressive sexism is real and it keeps the U.S. presidency solidly male.


Tom Hayden and Hillary

Tom Hayden and Jennifer Hall Lee, Long Beach, CA

When I think of people who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s I quickly see names and images fly through my mind: Civil Rights, Vietnam, SDS, draft dodgers, Watergate, and Tom Hayden. Tom's name is synonymous with resistance and doing good work. 

Interestingly he is not known as a fierce fighter for women's rights. In the symbolic hallways of feminist history Tom Hayden's name might emerge briefly once or twice. Yet, at the Democratic Party Executive Board Meeting in Long Beach this past June feminism is exactly what Tom Hayden and I discussed and it was in the context of Hillary Clinton.

Initially, I had met his assistant Emma Taylor, and we chatted about Hillary whom she was supporting. She introduced me to Tom, who was also a Hillary supporter.

He was dapper in his hat and tie and relaxed in his manner. He seemed at home in this raucous group of California democrats who were in the middle of state party elections (he was running for a seat.) I saw his name earlier on the list outside a ballroom door and thought "Tom Hayden. This is a long life, his and possibly mine, too. From national political fame to this state contest on a long of list of people I don't know." After Emma introduced me Tom was immediately absorbed in what I wanted to talk about - his endorsement of Hillary. 

Tom Hayden clearly took the feminist road to the White House by endorsing Hillary and not the hero of the progressive left for 2016, Bernie Sanders.  In today's polarized politics he took a risk in losing his base.

We began our talk while standing and then he asked if we could move the conversation to two empty chairs. Tom talked to me about the hate he received after he endorsed Hillary for President. Many progressive activists considered him a traitor and he was struck by the vitriol for her by leftists. It really perplexed him and I sensed he had been thinking about it. I admitted that I had been saddened and discouraged by that as well. 

He asked me my opinion and he listened carefully. I said that for me it seemed archetypal. I felt that many couldn't square the reality of a democratic woman who could see the world through feminist eyes and also through the eyes of a Senator for all and ultimately as a Commander in Chief. He mulled that over and smiled approvingly, but wouldn't commit to my theory. He had more to think about on that subject.

He felt that Bernie Sanders was too ensconced in the homogenous state of Vermont to be a fully effective President. He did say to me that a guy like Bernie was not ready for Black Lives Matter, let alone the White House. We laughed at that. 

We didn't solve one of the conundrums of our time; the resistance to a female president who has spent a lifetime fighting for children and women by those on the progressive left. Although it was enjoyable to scratch at the surface of a topic that will be discussed in the years to come. 

Tom didn't win his election that weekend in Long Beach. 

Last night I saw #TomHayden trending on Twitter and I knew he had died. I told Emma I was sorry.

Tom Hayden won't see Hillary Clinton elected, an historic journey that has been decades in the making. That makes me sad. 

Tom and Hillary, two people whose names form part of the backdrop of my life. Both of them embody the heartfelt passion of always doing good work in the world. Doing good work never ends and there is a lot of good to do. 


Do I Respect Women? Yes.

by Jennifer Hall Lee

"Does she have a fat ass? Absolutely" - Donald Trump

Secretary of State Clinton with women from Lower Mekong Women's Initiative in 2012  Photo courtesy State Department by Paul Watzlavick

We are all wringing our hands. We are thirty nine days until election day and Hillary and Donald are the choices. Some people operate under tired cliches. They think that both of them are terrible candidates. Have we become a reality show?

We have Donald, an overtly sexist businessman who doesn't pay federal taxes and Hillary, a feminist politician who has fought successfully for women and children for over forty years. The race is close, if you can believe that. 

For the feminists of the 1980s who knew we would see a female president in our future, we didn't see this coming. We have faced tremendous pushback to women running for President and now we stand at the doorway of success.

Donald, her opponent, is the nominee of the Republican Party. How the mighty have fallen.

Character is a large part of being President, just ask any Reagan loving conservative, or any social justice liberal fighter. And yet, Donald Trump, a man with basically no character, is garnering a significant amount of votes. Just yesterday in Southern California's largest newspaper, The Los Angeles Times, we are introduced to another piece of his broken sense of how to treat other people, particularly female employees.

A lawsuit against the Trump National Golf Club located in the leafy green city of Palos Verdes was the subject of a 2005 Labor Relations suit. Some parts of the court records read like a John Grisham novel about discrimination against women. According to these documents, the Director of Catering said that she witnessed Trump tell managers that the women working there weren't "pretty enough" and that they should be "fired."

If you are steeped in television shock dramas and reality shows, you can shrug it off as inconsequential and say that's Trump being Trump. Well, there is an old-fashioned saying that often absolved boys from doing bad things; boys will be boys. This bouncy phrase is alive today and that's why Trump gets a lot of passes among his base.

How anyone can vote for Trump after hearing that he calls women "pigs" or judges their bodies as not being good enough is unthinkable to me. 

Let's look at this from a different angle. Look at this election from my point of view.

Almost every day we read another story about sexual assault of girls in schools or college campuses. Every parent who reads these stories can't help but think of their own daughters. Women are clearly still seen as objects for male consumption, despite our advances for women. Trump's words are evidence of this twisted value system. If he were to ever sit in the Oval Office his words would ring out across the globe. Let's imagine this particular Trump sentence vocalized from the White House, "I'd look her right in that fat ugly face of hers."

That would be heard by people in countries where so-called "honor killings" and rape are considered a male privilege.

On the other side of this election we have our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who many people distrust, yet there are no lawsuits filed against her, although many have tried and failed. Her family's charity, unlike Trump's, has created big changes in the world such as lowering the cost of malarial drugs.

But there is one thing I can't seem to get out of my mind. I think about it often. It's about sex trafficking.

First Lady Hillary Clinton meeting with women in India in 1995

When Hillary was first lady she shined a light on the crime of sex trafficking for all the world to see. Back in 1997 we weren't talking about this crime like we do today, it was unknown to most of us.

It happened like this: During a women's conference, co-organized by Hillary, Ukrainian women approached her and asked for help. Young women were disappearing from their towns and villages, lured away by job opportunities and never seen again.

Hillary helped these women and her work led to the first international piece of legislation that made sex trafficking a crime. It enabled us to prosecute sex traffickers. 

This is just part of Hillary's early work. It is an example of her consistent drive to better the lives of all people.

You want change? Well, this is where the rubber meets the road folks. So I am perplexed by women and men who don't trust her. I think they don't trust women who have moved successfully in traditionally male areas of expertise.  

Sexism runs deep even in the hearts of the most fervent progressive.

I shudder to think that something else might be true. Could it be that women politicians who have been successful in bettering women's lives around the globe inspire distrust in many Americans? 

It's a chilling thought.

If true, then how do we ever help women in countries unlike our own where religious zealots wield violent power over women and girls?

Do we have the courage to sit back and objectively see our own biases that have possibly kept our Oval Office entirely male.

We don't need father figures to guide our moral lives simply because they are male. We are adults and we choose how we want to solve the problems of our world, which includes fighting terrorism in countries where women are subjugated (try finding a terrorist country where women have equality).

Sexism is not a side issue to bigger problems. It is woven tightly into the laws and religious beliefs of countries where girls and women are seen as less than human.

If the abusive treatment of women in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq upsets you and you want it stopped, then Hillary is your candidate, not Donald. 

Hillary tells us that this a tight race. How can that be?

What if all the fence sitters and third party voters decided to stand with the women around the world who have survived gang rapes and the young women and girls here in the United States who have survived sexual assault on a college campus. If they took a solid step in support of these women and emphatically voted for Hillary without hesitation, we would watch her pull away in the polls and walk into the Oval Office with a sizable lead. 

Or we can keep it close and fear a future where Donald could utter his opinions about women from the White House. When asked in a 1992 interview with noted misogynist Howard Stern if he respected women Trump replied, "Uh, I can't say that either."

I don't know how you tell a pre-teen girl that her President doesn't respect women and expect that girl to love herself.

Maybe we don't have individual megaphones with which to tell the women and girls of the world that we want to help them. But, we do have our vote. 

You want to change the world?

Vote for Her.




by Jennifer Hall Lee

A tweet to Cheri Jacobs

This presidential race was bound to be close and I thought I was prepared. I was going to power through this election. I didn't foresee that Donald Trump, and then a frog, would stop me in my tracks and make me think hard about our current situation. 

It is surprising how many people identify as nazis and anti-semites. They are called white nationalists and Trump has brought them out into the wide open. They are also called the alternative right, or alt-right. They are the far, far-right who are bound together by their disdain for everyone else. They hate immigration.

Trump, Pepe, the alt-right. They all go together in a big basket.

Like all groups the alt-right has images and symbols that help identify them on the web. One of these images is a frog.  

His name is Pepe and he is the defacto mascot for the alt-right. He isn't pretty. In fact he is paunchy, crudely drawn and he barely smiles.

It's a disturbing time in America, but I haven't yet seen a collective shudder among the electorate. Either people haven't put the pieces together or they are rationalizing the bizarre behavior on the part of Trump. It's time to put the bricks together and form the structure that is hiding in plain sight.

The alt-right. The name isn't going away anytime soon. They are super excited that Hillary gave them a big shout-out which identified them to the country. The alt-right is now on the political map. They refer to themselves as racialists and believe in the separation of the races.

Alt-righters are everywhere and they have been hidden in the deep layers of the web, until now.

Proud and emboldened they even have a logo: two letters A and R, both constructed out of three triangles

Richard Spencer, a prominent white supremacist gave a press conference two days ago before Trump gave his speech on values. 

For them, it is their time. They have arrived.

The Fascist Mascot

The alt-right trolls the web with their icon Pepe the Frog. Some of us post kitten pictures or images of Gene Wilder for a laugh. The alt-right pushes Pepe.

Pepe harasses, insinuates, leers and when depicted with Hitler and Mein Kampf, he is downright evil.

I know there are many who say, “Time Out! Many people have tweeted Pepe with no ill will.” This is true, Pepe was not born in the alt-right world, but the alt-right claimed him as one of their own. 

Pepe has been born-again. He has a message, “Pepe is one of us and we will prevail.”

This frog is a bully and his online antics have placed him in a lawsuit filed by GOP communications pro Cheri Jacobus against Donald Trump and his past campaign manager (now a CNN commentator) Corey Lewandowski. She is suing both of them for defamation.

Her Trump travails start on May 17, 2015 when Ms. Jacobus gets contacted by a man connected to Trump (the campaign was in its early stages) who asked Jacobus to join the Trump train as the Communications Director. Trump is a high profile guy and Jacobus is a professional so she takes the meeting.

The second meeting is where it gets tricky. Corey Lewandowski, according to the summons, behaves in an “erratic” way. He was talking loudly and inappropriately and was generally a "powder keg." He even brags about yelling at Megyn Kelly.

Jacobus smartly declines their offer of employment and goes back to her role as news commentator. Her brief foray into Trump's world safely behind her, or so she thought. Jacobus was at the start of another round of unprofessional behavior.

What happens to her is a roller coaster of a ride through the Trump sewer of retaliation and lies. 

While on the Don Lemon show, in January, she criticized Trump's debating skills among other things. She is, after all, a commentator. But Jacobus got under Trump's thin skin. 

Both Trump and Lewandowski engaged in a takedown of Jacobus' character on talk shows and on the web.  For weeks they claimed that she “begged” them for a job and was turned down..

Many other anonymous tweeters joined in and they brought Pepe along to help them fight their sordid battle. (Who are these hidden tweeters?) In early January one tweet showed Pepe, with blond Trump-style hair, pointing a machine gun with a message for Cheri: this triggers @CheriJacobus

She responded.


Pepe reads Mein Kampf

Then later that day another tweet appeared. It is a two-paneled image of a blond woman with her head on a chopping block and her hands tied behind her back. She has a hatchet on her neck. In the next panel Pepe is raping the headless torso.

The message to Cheri: #MakeAmericaGreatAgain

That image is cited in Jacobus' lawsuit.

I have altered this tweet with the black bar

I have altered this tweet with the black bar

Trump continued his tirade against her. In his signature juvenile style he tweeted about Jacobus: "A real dummy!"

Trump can't stop, he continues the online assault against Jacobus. 

The tweeting persecution of Jacobus contines to this day. Just recently another tweet appeared showing Pepe holding Hitler's Mein Kampf with a message to Jacobs: Do you really think you can win against Shitlords? #LOL

And two days ago, on September 11, a day of rememberance and honor, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted an image with Pepe standing to the right of Donald Trump's shoulder. It's a parody of the movie poster for The Expendables. All of the heads have been photoshopped. These are Trump loyalists, all men.

By placing Pepe in the image this becomes a direct message to the alt-right Trump followers. No shame for the hateful.

We can rationalize these events and say to ourselves "It's just Trump being Trump.  Pepe is a character used by many."

Pepe is used specifically by the alt-right.

People lie to themselves all the time when we don't want to see the truth. We can be forgiving or dismissive of cruelty as in the case of Cheri Jacobus, or we can be brave and admit to ourselves that this no ordinary election.

These alt-righters are the “basket of deplorables” that Hillary alerted us to and for good reason. She wanted us to see them.

Beware of Pepe.


- Read the lawsuit for yourself, it's pinned at the top of her Twitter page


Trump Lies And Hillary Flies

It's Labor Day and the Hillary campaign has a new 737 Boeing to seat all the press comfortably. Happy reporters. Her campaign has shifted gears and she has a message for us, "If you want more happy Labor Days, you know who to vote for."

Landing in Ohio she shared the tarmac with Trump's plane in one of those common and uncomfortable moments in many presidential campaigns. I thought I saw him peering out the window feeling good that his plane was bigger than hers. 

Trump's worried about the upcoming debate where he will have to answer questions on the same stage with her. All he has is a handful of verbal jabs and pocketful of bankruptcies to draw from as she hammers him on domestic and foreign policy. He needs help and he is a desperate man.

There is an unusual push by many conservatives and independents for libertarian Gary Johnson to be a part of the presidential debates. Another man on the stage to take the Hilary heat will give Trump more time to think. 

It's a bumpy election this year. It's challenging. I have liberal friends who accuse me of just wanting a woman president. I have conservative friends who say the same thing. Hillary-rejection is bi-partisan.

For those who assail me with the sentence I have heard a thousand times, “I want a woman president, just not her” I have to respond that there is no magical woman out there who will step into the Oval Office waving a wand and making all things idyllic. Life isn't a fairy tale. Activism and politics are two different things. Just look at Obama's 2008 vote for FISA. It didn't stop anyone for voting for him. Voters gave him the space to be a politician without saying they didn't trust him. 

A woman on the presidential campaign trail doesn't get that broad trusting treatment because presidential candidates are viewed emotionally. A woman president? Must be something wrong with her. 

The energetic Don Lemon from CNN revealed his emotion when he said that the President is like the daddy of the country. 

I cringe at those gendered definitions because that is what has kept the Oval Office solidly male. This is what we are up against. 

As a supporter who has watched Hillary run for the presidency twice, I have seen different criticisms of her surface, such as the Iraq War vote from the 2008 campaign which is now largely forgotten and in its place is the current email controversy. 

There is one criticism from both of her campaigns that is embodied in the thinest of sentences that hovers around the anti-Hillary people. I can hear it before they speak. “I don't trust her.” 

The sentence is a stand-in for the uncomfortable truth: they are nervous about a woman president. 

To say you are uncomfortable with a woman as the U.S. President is to be uncool, so you have to find another reason. That's hard to do because Hillary is not just any woman. She is a FLOTUS, Senator and Secretary of State. The enormity of her experience is shaking some traditional ground. 

It's nerve wracking for many who want our traditional roles to remain fixed. It's gender Stockholm Syndrome. These voters can be tough in their opinions. No matter how much history about her work that you reveal to them, they are stuck in the cesspool of half truths and lies.

And now Trump has employed a master of misinformation as his campaign manager, Steve Bannon. He has a colorful history including domestic violence charges. Another Trump advisor is the famous Fox CEO Roger Ailes, who recently quit his job due to a sexual harassment lawsuit. 

To see someone's character look at the people who surround them.

Some are so nervous about a woman at the helm of our country that they would take a chance on Donald Trump even if they don't like him. The blond duck-billed hairdo with the startling white lids of both eyes who has filed bankruptcy six times. He is a hotel builder who has refused to pay subcontractors after they did work for him. A man who has done business with mafia men in Atlantic city. He is two-times divorced. He admires Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Trump built his business with a lot of help from his rich Daddy. He inherited millions. He has Trump ties made overseas and his daughter, Ivanka, gets her products made in China. In which country do they celebrate Labor Day? 

If the anti-Hillary people don't trust her, then they must trust him more. Emotions are complex. Past New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ( A man many have hoped would run for President.) spoke at the Democratic convention and elaborated on Trump's goal to run the country the way his runs own business, "God Help us. I'm a New Yorker, and I know a con when I see one."

In response Trump gave a press conference and alluded to wanting to punch Bloomberg, who he referred to as a "little" guy, so hard his head would spin. Bullying from the campaign road reaches millions. For adults who absolve this behavior I can only think that fear of a woman president shadows their rational thought processes.

Hillary's success at passing legislation with republicans to better the lives of children is one of many clear examples of the differences between these two candidates.

This campaign shows us a major shift in how we will view the Presidency of the United States in the future; fearful and full of hate or hopeful and full of potential.

Trump is desperate and trying to soften his image. He is even stealing some of Hillary's lines on "love." 

Trump is a chameleon out to win, not to govern. 

Fear is emotional, but love will always trump hate. 


Source: http://www.jenniferhalllee.com/blog/2016/9...

Slut-Shaming Versus The Male Gaze

Am I a Slut-Shamer or just another feminist?

There are a few photos of a nude Melania Trump being passed around the web. I consider them to be feminist viruses that scream “click me.” They are invading our Facebook pages and our psyches.

These images are examples of the classic feminist concept called the Male Gaze, a term created by Laura Mulvaney in 1975. Mulvaney's  academic framework was brilliant and enabled us to finally analyze cinematic imagery with a feminist eye. 

What is the Male Gaze? It is the male point of view. We see the male gaze in pornography, comics, movies, and billboards. It is the lens through which we peer when seeing women and girls depicted for male consumption.

Good examples of the Male Gaze are the sexualized images of Marilyn Monroe. Ms. Monroe portrayed a woman as a mix of sexuality and girlish innocence in numerous movies. She was a pre-feminist cultural definition of the desirable female. She fought this description of herself because she wanted to have good roles with dramatic depth without success.

The women's liberation movement was too far into the future for her and she couldn't break through. Monroe stays forever embedded in the patriarchal milieu of pre-feminist movie-making. 

When I first saw the images of Melania Trump I couldn't help but to apply the Male Gaze and I critiqued them for what they are: images for men.

Then I posted them on Facebook and commented that our girls really didn't need to see these pictures of a First Lady.

And that's where the Slut Shaming cudgel came flying through the web to try and knock me out.

But, I was ready with my Wonder Woman power cuffs and deflected the assault.

Am I a Slut-Shamer or just another feminist?

The accusation of Slut-Shaming can be seen as a way to silence a woman for criticizing the patriarchal male gaze.

We are in an election where we have the chance to break the all male deadlock in the Oval Office. It is the first time we have a female nominee for president who has a good chance of being President. It is interesting these images have surfaced at this time.

The presence of these photographs challenge us at this historic point in time; Are we ready for a woman President or do we want to keep women as simply sexual beings?

The photo I posted, when I got my slut-spanking, had layers of meaning any progressive feminist would be excited to dissect and analyze. Let's give it a try.

Melania is nude and lying provocatively on a bed with tousled white sheets. She looks alluring and is staring straight at the camera – at us. We are looking down at her. Her body is vulnerable with spiky high heels that would hobble her if she tried to leave. Her jewelry consists of two heavily jeweled cuffs on both wrists and a jeweled choker around her neck. This bed is owned by someone. Her? I don't think so and here's why. She is on the bed, but she is handcuffed to a man's briefcase. Who has the key? The owner of the briefcase. The owner of the bed. The owner of her.

She is chained to him, capitalism, money, and patriarchy. If images could talk this would say, “If you have the money you can have me too."

I'm a feminist, sure I can criticize it.

Some say Trump is the bigger issue and these photos are minor compared to what he could do to our country if he becomes President. In a world where male presidents lord over us as the ultimate power image, with wives as appendages, yes he is the bigger issue.

However,  these images will trot alongside the images of an all male presidential ticket reinforcing an unequal relationship of power and gender. 

And as a feminist mother I have a job to do. I have to help my pre-teen navigate her way through this country and show her how to criticize the images of semi-nude women and yes, provocative images of girls, from television to the streets of my city. (Last night's stroll along Sunset Boulevard brought me to a towering image of a young woman in a tight bathing suit with butt cheeks exposed. )

Our daughters now stand at a moment in time where they can hold in their young minds images of a female President when deconstructing the images of the Male Gaze. 

A teen girl has to grow with a sense of her own power that is not sexual power.

But, thanks to the New York Post, if Trump wins, we have more images of the potential First Lady that will be very visible on the internet. The recent photos of Melania from the 1990s show her acting as a lesbian vixen and as a wet and waxed nude woman with no real pubic hair (an encouragement of pre-pubescent female sex). These clearly compound the problem ahead.

I didn't slut-shame Melania Trump. I criticized the image with a feminist point of view.

As a thinking person I have to allow myself to entertain the possibility that Melania could be First Lady.

A girl's discovery of these photos on the internet coupled with the fact that every single President in our history has been male is a tangled web of gender, power and sex that will have to be confronted if Trump wins.

And that's just pondering the result of girls (and boys) seeing these images here in the United States.

What will children in other countries think?

This isn't slut-shaming. This is a feminist issue. Keep talking.

 Photo of Melania Trump courtesy © Glenn Francis, www.PacificProDigital.com