Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Barack and the Knights of Ni

In an open letter to the One, Professor Mary Ann Mason of the Berkeley Law Center on Health, Economic & Family Security, holds forth on what Obama should do next, and what he owes to the distaff side:

Dear President-elect Obama,
Your victory was glorious and hard-won. You are well aware that it could not have been accomplished without the enthusiastic support of women (53 percent of us versus 47 percent of men), particularly young women (66 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 29 voted for you). College women came out in huge numbers, knocked on doors, changed the hearts and minds of their elders, and made contributions to your campaign from the bottom of their nearly empty pocketbooks. You depended on them to win, and now they are counting on you.
As a professor and an author, I speak with hundreds of female undergraduates and graduate students in their 20s and 30s. I know what they want: They want both careers and families

They paid for it, now they want it--a socialist cocoon that will deliver them from evil and deliver the goods. After a lengthy recitation of the perils of being female in fascist Amerika, Mason gets specific as to what Obama has to cough up for that most imperiled of demographic groups:

Now let's be specific. Here is what our university students need as they begin having families:

  • A federal program for preschool and after-school childcare for all families. Such programs are a fact of life in many European countries. The last time our nation considered such a child-care initiative was in 1971 when President Richard M. Nixon vetoed it.
  • A safe high-quality public-school system where students can learn the important skills that they will need and where science and technology are compellingly presented to both girls and boys.
  • An affordable university education that will not require a lifelong debt burden.
    Full-time work that is equally compensated for both women and men. Part-time work that receives compensation proportional to the rate of full-time work, with full benefits for those who work at least 50 percent of the time.
  • Paid family leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act, which offers 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the medical needs of family members, took almost 20 years to become legislation; but it was only a start. Some states are already taking the lead on this: California offers 16 weeks of partially paid leave.
  • High-quality affordable health insurance for every family.
  • A flexible workplace that allows parents to meet the needs of their growing families without retribution, to take time off or accept a reduced workload when necessary. The federal government already offers this to its employees. Why shouldn't all Americans have the same opportunity?

OK, lets leave aside for now the manifest silliness of expecting the chief executive officer of the United States to shield our little princesses from the existential trade-offs of the real world ; but it made me think of...what else? a scene from Monty Python's Holy Grail. Well, actually, almost every news story has some touch point in that most sacred of documents, but that by the by. The scene that Professor Mason's extended, narcissistic, passive/aggressive whine called to my mind is the Knights Who Say Ni, whose escalating demands for obeisance in the form of first one shrubbery and then a more elaborate one, most closely resemble the apparent needs of female grad students. How long will it be until Mary Ann Mason and the Keepers of the Sacred Words threaten to say "Ni" to Obama, and demand something along the lines of "another shrubbery, but slightly higher, so we get a two level effect with a little path running down the middle..."

Read Mason's piece (if you have the fortitude), and then watch this segment of modernity's Rosetta Stone, taking note of the similarity in both tone and justification of the demands:

No comments: