You may have noticed I’ve been away. (Consider me desolate if this is a complete surprise.)
Anyone remember David Lynch’s Angriest Dog in the World, a staple in alternative weeklies between ’83 to’92? It was an unvarying 4-panel cartoon strip-cum-pressure valve featuring a furious black dog, teeth bared, straining at the chain that holds him to a post in an unpromising back yard. The only movement in 4 panels was when a dialogue balloon of perfect banality appeared from the dog’s family, in the house at the right
Angriest Dog always looked more like a little dragon than a dog to me, but there was no mistaking his frame of mind. As Lynch described him: “The dog. . . is so angry he cannot move. He cannot eat. He cannot sleep. He can just barely growl. Bound so tightly with tension and anger, he approaches the state of rigor mortis.”
Forgive me if I haven’t wanted to inflict my Angriest Dog state on you.
When I looked up from All Oscars All the Time, it was with a deep suck of disbelief. Governors from Mississippi to Arizona were throwing themselves behind legislation that mandated transvaginal ultrasound for women before they could be “allowed” an abortion. After the cries of “Rape!” had died down slightly, the eight states involved* backed away from the transvaginal feature, but held fast to abdominal ultrasound. Texas also requires the technician to display and describe the image on the screen — and don’t get me going on the provision that Kansas still hopes to slip into its anti-abortion bill. *Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Texas, Virginia
I hope no one missed a single day of Doonesbury on this subject, as Gary Trudeau cut straight to the core of shaming that seems equally as important to these paternalistic politicians as their care for the unborn. Here’s a start:
Before you could turn around, this Draconian legislation morphed into a national furor over contraception, complete with an aged Bayer aspirin joke for all the gals out there from Rick Santorum’s money man, Foster Friess. Then it was the reliable Rep.Darrell Issa, refusing to let a Georgetown Law student, Sandra Fluke, speak before his all-male Congressional panel on contraception, which led to Rush Limbaugh’s vile, ugly three-day rant against her. (So nice to see Limbaugh’s sponsors finally head out the door after that one.)
And over at the voter’s rights front, even the League of Women Voters had folded up their card tables in the face of fresh Florida restrictions. (Florida, Sanford Florida gets a QCF all its own, shortly.) My Angriest Dog torpor was at its worst, to the point where signing petitions, sending in miniscule donations, even minor work on the 2012 re-election campaign seemed almost useless in the face of such entrenched viciousness.
Then in early March, Hillary Clinton ended the Women in the World summit, which had gathered icons from across the world of protest, this way (the underlining is mine):
“Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me. But they all seem to. It doesn’t matter what country they’re in or what religion they claim, they all want to control women. They want to control how we dress. They want to control how we act. They even want to control decisions we make about our own health and our own bodies. (Applause.)
Yes, it’s hard to believe that even here at home, we have to stand up for women’s rights and reject efforts to marginalize any one of us, because America needs to set an example for the entire world. (Applause.) And it seems clear to me that to do that, we have to live our own values and we have to defend our own values. We need to respect each other, empower all our citizens, and find common ground.
I tell you, clarity is a great weapon against funk and miasma. And the broadest possible perspective has a way of lifting your head up — from your paws. What can I tell you: I’m back. Still angry, but not straightjacketed by it. Call it good, Irish, empowering anger.
[Before you write, I wouldn’t call participant Michele Bachman any kind of icon, and not a Woman in the World either, but even-handedness has to be upheld. I suppose.]
So while we’re being completely even-handed, here’s Meryl Streep at Women in the World, with only a few of the reasons why Hillary Clinton has been a revolutionary Secretary of State, in a speech with the most bravura ending ever.
Now, I’m really out of here.