The Price of Dinner During a US Election

Every four years when the American election takes place I am constantly stunned by the amount of money that is spent on fundraising. So it was when Mitt Romney and Michele Obama came to London this week for a series of fundraising dinners because there is much political capital to be gained from the 250,000 Americans living abroad.

Wealthy Americans living in the capital attended fund raisers where they paid between $2,500 to $50,000 for dinner. Michele Obama is expected to attend similar events and I don’t know the price of a plate of nosh at the Democrat dinners but last year Gwyneth Paltrow, the actress, charged £5,000 for a tum fill when she raised funds for the Obama campaign.

At a time when Americans are queueing up at so-called mortgage clinics to plead with banks to view their dire financial situation compassionately and where poverty is at very high levels there is something really repugnant about fund raising dinners which do NOT produce a direct trickle down effect to the ordinary folk.

One could argue, I suppose, that contributing to the candidate you believe will make your life better is THE vested interest but, in reality, a $5 donation left on an automated fundraising phone system just isn’t going to buy you the same influence as a $50,000 one is it? Part of the American dream is based on wealth accumulation and the accompanying consumption and, increasingly, Americans seem to live on the premise that if you don’t flaunt it you won’t get anywhere. Witness the rise of shows like the Kardashians and on Paris Hilton where excessive expenditure seems to have become a badge of nationality.

America has long been a country of some contradiction but the levels are opening up as fast as the ground does during an earthquake with 17 million children going hungry everyday.

The ‘visibility’ of a Working Mother

Flexible working and part-time working are fantastic models of employment which allows mothers to combine their professional and personal lives but if one is hankering after climbing the career ladder then ‘visibility’ in the workplace becomes a crucial fact that has to be sustained.

So far the debate has only been framed in the context of the invisibility of mothering work done at home. The effort that one puts into caring and nurturing children is devalued because it does not carry a monetary value.

However, the visibility of working mothers in the workplace is an important factor too because if you aren’t there to take THAT important meeting or THAT phone call then your commitment is questioned. The constant balancing act of being a professional and a mum doing invisible work that is just as crucial, if not more, than the salaried work is akin to trying to juggle 10 slippery eels with two fingers.

The unpaid face of mothering is devalued at the expense of both working and stay at home mothers. Both sides have a vested interest in working co-operatively to raise the status of mothering.

Is Pamela Anderson Really A Feminist?

Most feminists would probably answer in the negative to the question I have posed but, interestingly, Pamela Anderson considers herself to be one.

The question was asked of her in the context of the nude photo shoots that she did for Playboy. Pammie replied, “Hefner has done so much for women’s rights. I am a feminist because I made those choices to appear in the magazine. Also, there are much worse magazines out there.”

Her opinion raises three issues:

1. Is posing for a men’s magazine liberating because the woman who poses is in charge?

2. Did Hefner did do a lot for women’s rights while devaluing women?

3. Is hard core porn the only issue sitting on the bottom line of women’s nudity?

There will always be women who think that exposing themselves to men is liberating and who will line up to flaunt their assets for money. These women ignore the flaws in their argument of how what they are actually doing is serving a market driven by lust fuelled men who only want tits and bums. This market of male lust does not make a commodity out of women’s autonomy. Being in charge might involve dressing up as a dominatrix but that is as far as it goes. If the women were in charge then why weren’t they allowed to dress up in their favourite dress/skirt/trousers? Public nudity does not involve being in charge. It is about making money and that is fine but blurring the boundaries is self-denial.

Hugh Hefner actually has done a lot for women’s rights and earlier this year wrote an editorial in Playboy in which he questioned Rick Santorum’s promise to withdraw funding for birth control. He also chastised Mitt Romney for threatening to overturn Roe v Wade. I believe he is sincere in his thoughts but this is a man who surrounds himself with women dressed as bunnies who, no doubt, think they are in charge. Double standards will not win the war of equality for women.

Lastly, Pammie justifies her actions by referring to ‘worse’ magazines and, thereby, exonerates herself for not going down the hardcore path. To me, she seems to come across as someone who is rather unsure as time goes on about the merits of posing nude but still needs to justify it given her Playboy shoot.

Is Pamela Anderson a feminist? I actually do admire her for thinking that she is one even if I have my doubts. The concept of feminism has become quite objective in recent times and personal dimensions are often excluded. I, for one, am always carping about how feminist mothering is left out of the anti-porn, abortion rights and anti-cosmetic surgery debate. For Muslim feminists who wear veils their gripe is that they can still be feminists and cover their hair/faces.

Posing for men’s magazines cannot count as a feminist stand but I think the rest of us feminists can take something from Pammie’s confident self-assertion.

I HAVEN’T Read ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

Not a day goes by without a newspaper or magazine carrying an article about ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. For the amount of publicity this book has received I have only seen one woman reading it but, apparently, women are reading it off their Kindles for fear of being rumbled over reading porn.

It feels as if I must be the only woman who hasn’t read it though I am familiar with the protagonists names, thanks to the endless reviews, and feel that I almost know what Anastasia and Christian get up to in the ‘Red Room’.

I haven’t read it because I have misgivings about sexual pleasure being derived through the act of being a submissive sexual plaything. Also, the fact that the book has been called ‘Mummy Porn’ is rather disturbing because of the vagueness of the implications of the label. Is there porn specially reserved for Mummies or does the label imply that mothers are sexually repressed creatures who have to rely on furtive reading to satisfy a sexual need? Does the book fit in with feminist mothering? Can anyone answer this question?

The only feminist thought on the book that I have come across is from a male journalist (Dan Jones) writing for the London Evening Standard who says that the feminist agenda of having a work life balance will go unrealised “so long as the popular fantasy of 10 million smart and literate women worldwide is the tale of a girl who likes being spanked with a paddle by a big rich bloke’. Ouch!

Why Do Women Play These Jealous Games?

In the political corridors of French politics the 1980s film ‘Les Liaisons Dangereuses’ of envy and hatred is being played out through an age old story of female jealousy.

The current partner of the French President, Valerie Trierweiler, put a well heeled boot into the President’s ex-partner’s political chances. Francois Hollande, the President, has four children by Segolene Royale, a very politically able and astute woman. When Segolene stood for the post of speaker of the National Assembly Valerie tweeted her support for the rival candidate, a man. Subsequently he won the election despite Segolene being in the running initially. Apparently, this form of French female jealousy is actually a variation of the overwhelming love and lust that the woman feels towards the slighted man.

French women need to explain this to the rest of the world because the President’s children aren’t speaking to Valerie anymore which leaves for a very discordant household during a time when Francois Hollande is trying to turn the economic debate away from austerity. There are more important things, in other words, than petty stereotypical female envy which uses one upmanship to play cruel games. Once the euphoria of victory has worn off the fall-out debris from one’s actions will resemble a road of broken glass that the victor will have to walk on.

When will women ever learn?