osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

What Progressives Don't Get About Conservative Women

Lest we progressives start to celebrate our own wisdom, respect for others, etc., etc., too much, one has only to observe general reaction to the notion of a smart, (relatively) young, strong, politically successful conservative woman.

The underlying operating assumption being that the conservative operating system is so basically inimical and hostile to women, and all about repressing women along every conceivable dimension, that if you are a woman and a conservative you must be one of the following: (a) abusively repressed/brainwashed, (b) unbelievably stupid, (c) a conscious hypocrite/ambitious/power hungry type adopting one rule for yourself and another for the masses, or (d) somehow deeply self-loathing.

I have spent 8 years in Washington DC working with a generation of smart, young, strong, politically successful women.

I can assure all my fellow progressives the above notion is CRAP!!! Worse, it is self-defeating, insulting and demeaning crap that will absolutely insure that any effort to create real solutions to actual political problems is doomed to fail. If this is a movement about changing the world rather than feeling all warm and yummy good about ourselves, then you need to either try to understand the underlying operating system or at least stop saying this stuff out loud.

Lets take reproductive rights. Now I know that all my progressive friends think that this sanctity of life crap is just so much chin music for the real agenda of enslaving women, blah blah. But try to entertain the notion that non-stupid people might genuinely believe the "cover story," even if you know better (you wise and crafty progressive receptacle of all wisdom you). If it helps, pretend you are dealing with aliens from the planet ConSorVat or something. But actually try to believe that the critter you are dealing with is not a defective version of yourself ("defective" in the sense of coming to an obviously wrong conclusion on something fundamental) but someone operating under a genuinely different operating system.

You don't have to agree with it, or even respect the underlying operating system. I'm not talking about resolving irresolvable conflicts through patience and understanding, etc. I am saying that unless you actually understand the operating system of your political opponents or allies, you will ultimately at some level fail unless you are willing to line them up against a brick wall and shoot them. How many fantasy (or SF novels) have as their central theme that the bad guys will not be able to win because they can never understand the motivations of the good guys. Voldemort never understanding Harry Potter's capacity for self-sacrifice. Sauron never understanding that the good guys might try to destroy the ring rather than merely conquer and replace him. It is no better for "the good guys" to fundamentally fail to understand the real motivations of those they oppose, especially when it feeds into all sorts of dumb-ass stereotypes that prompt you to underestimate them.

These women are not oppressed, stupid, or self-hating. They believe in the essential rightness of their cause and their own strength and power as assuredly as any progressive. They wield political and economic power with the same fluidity and ruthlessness as their male counterparts and there is NO underlying contradiction in their operating system. Seriously, it's like all these idiots who think they score points debating Larry Lessig by saying "well, if you believed that, you would give away your books for free," as if a belief in a strong information commons and limits on copyright is inherently inimical to any copyright.

"Always try to understand your enemy. It may allow him to become your friend, or allow you to kill him without hate." -- Robert Anson Heinlein

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