Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Less than two weeks remain before the mid-term elections on November 2 when the current scapegoats for the nation’s problems will be voted out and another group of scapegoats voted in. The Tea Party, associated with the Republicans, and PUMAs, associated with Democrats, are splinter groups creating havoc in the heartland elections this year. Both groups have built up more power than the incumbents realize.

The acronym PUMA, or Party Unity My Ass, is not one I stumbled across in my extensive readings about history, women, politics, and the problems that divide us. My friend and fellow blogger, Still4Hill, an insider and PUMA blogger with this group of dedicated Democrats, thoroughly provoked my curiosity with her knowledge of PUMA. Now I know this label is plastered to all those women and many men who were infuriated by the media and the party itself for insisting on Hillary Clinton’s early withdrawal from the presidential race in 2008.

These are the folks who continue to experience anger at how the first woman presidential contender for a major party nomination was treated by the white boys club in both politics and the press. Of even greater significance today is that these people, because of their experience watching Hillary Clinton’s campaign, are now recognizing and monitoring the underlying cultural biases against females, no matter what the party (or lack thereof). Once that bias is revealed it is an impossible task to ignore it.

It was Still4Hill’s response during the week of August 17 to a written party solicitation for her vote in November 2010 that opened the hidden door to the PUMAs for me. She speaks for many of us (and not only PUMAs) with the following statement:

I vote in EVERY election. I voted in my state’s presidential primary on Super Tuesday in 2008. I also saw my governor shred my vote on the convention floor in Denver. It seems to me that the last people in the world who care about my vote are the Democratic Party leadership…..

Still4Hill ended her response by requesting her party demonstrate how the party “honestly cares about women, suffrage, enfranchisement, honesty, and fairness.” For more on this, see her blog @

As much as I would like to say the Democrats have a monopoly on antics such as the above, it is impossible. Over the years I have been a part of both parties, and the Arkansas Democrats even allowed me to be an Al Gore Super Delegate in 1988. I, too, had to give up my vote to oblige the demands of the party.

Switching parties in 1993, the Republicans never quite trusted me even though I left the Democrats for good cause. The unspoken rule is that a woman is never to challenge the white boys without permission, and both parties are run by the white boys. A woman is especially not to go against a sitting U.S. Senate icon without being perpetually rebuked for such a mortal sin. The stage whispers at the time hoarsely mentioned that, “She did the unthinkable and she just cannot do that!” Even better was the loudly proclaimed question, “Who does she think she is?”

This is NOT a Republican or Democrat thing as much as it is a male thing. Men do not appreciate menacing women who do not do as they are bidden to do. And the women supporting those men are wont to punish the women challengers or mavericks even more than the men do.

History is replete with examples of menacing women bothering the white boys. In 1912 an ad was placed in Wisconsin publications about the upcoming vote on women’s suffrage. Here is the text from the ad published by Progress Publishing, Watertown, Wisconsin:

DANGER! Women’s Suffrage Would Double the Irresponsible Vote
It is a MENACE to the Home, Men’s Employment and to All Business!
.. a separate ballot printed on pink paper…… will be handed to you on November 5. Be sure and put your cross (X) in the square after the word “no” and be sure and vote this pink ballot.

Wisconsin men voted down suffrage on that pink ballot in 1912 by a margin of 63 to 37 percent. Two of the most widely cited reasons for failure of the Wisconsin referendum were the schisms within the women’s movement itself and the perceived link between suffrage and temperance. Both of these reasons are rooted in American culture as negative female attributes: Women fight with each other continually and no women want their men to hang out in bars drinking.

Four years after the Wisconsin defeat of suffrage, 7,000 women converged on St. Louis to line the streets along the route that male delegates followed to the national Democratic Convention. Dressed in all white with yellow sashes and carrying yellow parasols, these women quietly stood in a “golden lane of silence.” When the Democrats yielded to the ladies and put suffrage on the platform, a contemporary writer described the joyously waving parasols as a sea of golden poppies. These golden poppies pleased their male masters by being quiet and looking pretty.

Ten years later, my father’s two older sisters were students at Lindenwood College in St. Louis when the League of Women Voters organized a collegiate group (a photograph is in their college yearbook). Dorothy and Elise Rumph had the opportunity to join this group in February 1926 and were given an opportunity of “creating a more intelligent interest and active participation in American citizenship. The state and national affiliates of the league give to the new voters opportunity to study the field of the woman in politics and to become acquainted with the work of the national leaders.”

What saddens those who understand what is going on today is that the media and party structures in 2008 emotionally projected devotion for Obama and hatred for Hillary based partially on cultural sexual biases passed down from ancient history. John McCain and Sarah Palin had much the same treatment but McCain’s was centered more on his admission of not being up on economics. Palin? Well, she suffered the same treatment as Hillary based on cultural sexual biases but Palin’s was more ridicule than hatred.

Remember the media and party treatment of both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin and all the other women running for all levels of office in the mid-term elections. Do not forget how many of them have been called whores and witches and any other medieval negative adjectives assigned to females in the Middle Ages when you vote on November 2.

Most of all, never forget the unconstitutional jailing and abuse of the suffragists protesting at the White House gates in 1917.


  1. Julia,
    You know I love your work, but some women don't deserve our support like Republican women who support policies that continue to impoverish and disempower women and minorities or who are anti-environment, anti-immigrant, anti-science, and anti-gay in favor of predator Corporations and repressive religious ideas they'd love to make law as they abolish separation of Church and State. We need policies that support caring economics and a caring culture rather than creating a bigger divide between the Haves and Have Nots - which is not a sustainable future - it's the road to tyranny and slavery. Look at the ratio between what CEOs make today versus employees. Let's break the programming and not continue to support the GOP - even women in the GOP, who throw anyone but the rich or Religious Right under the bus.

    Karen Tate

  2. Julia, this is an amazing blog. I was riveted from first word to last. I am sharing with others, especially with my daughter, who voted for the first time recently. You delve deep and rip open wide. Thank you.

  3. Karen: You are correct that some women candidates do not deserve our support. What is bothersome about the current election season is the negative environment around all candidates, male or female, Republican or Democrat or Independent. President Obama continues to lose ground with women even though he supports gender-specific policies.

    One of the reasons I support more female leadership is because we offer a balance to the all male leadership of history through the present. We are not male; we are not totally in our rational minds at all times; we are not ignorant of other people's pains and needs. Men are risk takers and women generally are not. It is said repeatedly that more women involved in finance would have made a difference in the economic crash we are still trying to recover from even today. Women made a difference after 1920, not because they were in public office but because they lobbied public officials for better health care for kids and for an end to child labor.

    The above policies are what you mention as caring economics and a caring culture and it is rare that women are not a part of this.

    Any Republican woman who claims to support further division between financial classes of people (more haves than have-nots) is not worthy of anyone's vote.

    Any Democratic woman who claims to support socialistic policies of taxing the lower and middle classes by the same rate as the upper income groups is not worthy of our support.

    What Americans want to see today is government that exercises frugality just like we citizens do. We want to see elected officials go into office to serve the public interest and not the corporate predators. We want to see elected officals come out of public office after a reasonable time instead of becoming career politicians. We hope to see more pols leave D.C. penniless like Harry Truman, not wealthier than ever before. But of course Truman was not an insider who catered to the predators so he was not liked or appreciated. Most pols today would feel like failures if they did not increase their income and their fame through politics. So just remember that I am never one to promote abuse of privilege and abuse of position by voting for any woman (or man) who cares more for personal and political goals than for their fellow humans.

  4. Laura: Delving deep and ripping wide open? Well, today's political world needs more of this! Whatever happened to proper etiquette and respect for others? Are we now trained emotionally and psychologically to be political gladiators? Good subject for next blog! Again my thanks Laura...

  5. Thank you for your comments Julia. I agree with you. I agree with you. BUT women like Sarah Palin and Sharon Angle - they're dangerous women. Christine O'Donnell is a joke and no one is taking her seriously, but does that not damage us as potential leaders? So, yes, in theory, more women involved is certainly a step in the right direction, but when I see the ignorance and "Bronze Age" mentality of Sarah Palin, she really scares the hell out of me. Please look at the work of Riane Eisler - author of A Real Wealth of Nations. She speaks of a caring culture and in an interview when asked about women like Sarah Palin, she compared her to "the Margaret Thatcher" problem. I would REALLY rather see a nurturing,inclusive, peace-loving and compassionate MAN, than a puppet of the patriarchy woman like Sarah Palin or Sharon Angle making decisions for the future of my country. Love you Julia! Thank you for all your hard work!

  6. I understand your thoughts on these women candidates and just want to say one thing: When a 21st century woman candidate (or even just a citizen) has to take out a newspaper or tv ad saying "I am not a witch!" there is something deeply wrong in our culture. I don't care one way or the other if she is a witch or not. What I care about is burying the medieval cultural/theological/historical mindset that accuses any female of any color, race, or ethnic group of being a witch or whore. Twenty (20) centuries is long enough!

  7. Hi Julia,

    I thought I would share this blog post that was sent to me through a PUMA Facebook group I belong to. I agree with much of it, but part ways on the issue of Palin. I did vote GOP, but I voted for the patriot guy (who is self-destructing before my eyes this season). MY Palin vote was more to get her out of Alaska and stop aerial shooting of wolves - including litters of pups. She's some Mama Grizzly!

    Hillbuzz'z staunch support of Palin, in fact, is emblematic of what drove me from the standard PUMA blogs to concentrate on my own.

    That said, this (rather long) apologia is well worth a read. If you read this, and also access Gigi Gaston's documentary, I think what becomes clear is that the "boys' club" is not only no longer all white, neiter is it all boys, and it is decidedly anti-feminist enough to use race-baiting the way they did against us Hillary supporters. It was a very bitter pill for Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Sheila Jackson Lee and millions of male and female supporters of Hillary Clinton who were themselves African American and/or had long worked for racial equality.

    You are correct when you say that, like the Tea Party, PUMA continues to stir up dust in this mid-term season. We continue to see allegations of a mythical "educational divide" - (read Hillary supporters are low-information and poorly educated voters). Some of the smartest, best educated people in the country belong to this movement, not the least among them Dr. Lynette Long of Equal Visibility Everywhere (EVE - see the link on my blog sidebar) who has completed a statistical analysis of the caucus fraud numbers for which she has yet to find a publisher.

    We ARE still here and we are going to kick some Dem butt this election - but only the ones who sabotaged us and Hillary Clinton. We cheer on Hillary surrogate this season, one William Jefferson Clinton, who CAN campaign while she cannot. Latest is that he will be campaigning for Frank "he-can-take-his-endorsement-and-really-shove-it" Caprio in Connecticut:

    Like the writer, I have remained a Dem. Like Hillary, I believe we can fix the party only from the inside.

    Here is the link to the Hillbuzz blog post:

    How anyone feels about Rush aside, and despite the lengthy nature of this post, it is well worth the read.