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By David Podvin
Three quarters of Americans surveyed say they admire Laura Bush, while only one third have a favorable view of Teresa Heinz Kerry. The result is unsurprising because this is a misogynistic country that insists its First Ladies must play the role of June Cleaver, dutifully frying bacon while tastefully adorned with a string of matching pearls. The American people also exalt mediocrity, hence Miss Laura is cherished for being uninspiring just as Bob Hope was revered for being unfunny.
As viewed by Middle America, Heinz Kerry suffers greatly on a comparative basis: Laura is ingratiatingly mundane, while Teresa is disturbingly brilliant. Laura is pleasingly subservient, while Teresa is annoyingly independent. Laura is obediently traditional, while Teresa is maddeningly nonconformist. And Laura cares about her own little world, whereas Teresa cares about the whole, wide world.
Most importantly, Laura Bush is so very non-threatening, unless like me you feel threatened by oppressive banality. Teresa, on the other hand, does not possess that Stepford wife sensibility; it is hard to envision her dissolving into tears because the soufflé fell. When people heckle Heinz Kerry, she does not gaze plaintively toward the Secret Service in one of those touching damsel-in-distress moments – instead, she heckles the hecklers back, and they are the ones who experience distress.
For all of these sins, Teresa Heinz Kerry is perceived by the average American as being an uppity cunt, which makes her my hero. Hillary Clinton was a superb First Lady because she caused conservatives incalculable grief, but I think this one has even greater potential. If her husband can make it into the White House, there is the very real possibility that the outspoken Teresa will soon fill the emergency rooms of American hospitals with right wingers suffering from debilitating anxiety attacks.
This is what used to be called “Doing The Lord’s Work”.
Men say they appreciate a strong, intelligent woman, but they are lying: whenever one comes along, most guys despise her. So do most women. Dynamic females generate visceral resentment among the American people, who want women either to be empty-headed playthings or asexual maternal figures.
The sultry Ms. Heinz Kerry is unsettling to the public because, unlike her Republican counterpart, she is obviously much smarter than the average American. That is not exactly a high hurdle to clear, but Teresa’s in-your-face intelligence does create resentment on the part of the God-fearing multitudes. After all, from the traditionalist perspective, there is no practical reason for a female to speak so many different languages when she only needs to know how to say, “Dinner is served” and “Please ravish me again.”
Heinz Kerry has always insisted on being more than a consort. As a college student in South Africa she protested apartheid, and has never stopped trying to improve the world. Teresa is currently the driving force behind the $1.3 billion Heinz Endowments, a philanthropic organization that addresses social matters ranging from urban poverty and prescription drug assistance to environmentalism and the humanities. She holds ten honorary doctorates, has won the Albert Schweitzer Gold Medal for Humanitarianism, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
In the United States, formidable political wives are targets for abuse. Eleanor Roosevelt was attacked mercilessly, as was Hillary, and for exactly the same reason: they were smart, not in the connivingly acceptable manner of the Southern belle, but in a candid, socially conscious way. As a result, these stalwarts had to be held up to ridicule so that the rest of American women would get the message: toe the line or be reviled as a bitch.
Now, it is Teresa’s turn in the Iron Maiden. While her Republican counterpart receives the kid gloves treatment, Heinz Kerry is under continuous assault. Conservative critics have snidely labeled her “Mother Teresa” and the “billionairehead”. On talk radio, she has been trashed by Michael Medved as a “lunatic” and by Laura Ingraham as a “mental patient”. David Horowitz’ FrontPageMag.com reported that Teresa subsidizes groups advocating treason, terrorism, homosexuality, anti-Semitism, and illegal immigration. These false allegations were echoed by the Weekly Standard and Rush Limbaugh, and then seeped into mainstream coverage.
When she told one of Richard Mellon Scaife’s mendacious reportorial goons to “shove it”, Heinz Kerry was excoriated by the corporate media for refusing to accept her assigned role as a piñata. The news divisions of all four major television networks have attached to Teresa the term “abrasive”, which is fascist-speak for “not behaving the way a little woman is supposed to behave”.
The establishment caustically disapproves of anyone who refuses to honor the interests of the ruling elite, but there is a special hostility toward a woman who dares to speak candidly about how the powers-that-be have screwed things up. Heinz Kerry routinely criticizes the people who are ruining this country, and that distaff candor causes the pompous blowhards comprising the chattering class to hate her with a passion. What makes them even more furious is that she apparently is indifferent to their criticism.
If John Kerry wins the election there is no way Teresa will be content to do all the fem things that Americans expect of their First Lady. She will never confine herself to redecorating the Blue Room or planting posies along the nation’s highways or writing stories about the family mutt or getting plastered while her old man sics G. Gordon Liddy on the unsuspecting public. Amazon that she is, Teresa will instead continue to champion the interests of those citizens who are in desperate need of help. It is this type of behavior that got Eleanor and Hillary into trouble because the average American has always viewed activist females as being unladylike.
Our nation constantly sends an implicit but unmistakable message to girls that they must know their roles and shut their mouths. Laura reinforces the message, so she is admired. Teresa blasts that bullshit straight to hell, so the public disapproves of her. It does not matter that she is smart and charming and funny – that simply makes her unwillingness to conform all the more provocative. It also doesn’t matter that she is good looking; even in this carnal culture where the ultimate trump card is to call a woman “ugly”, being beautiful is still not a passport to equality. Attractive females aren’t supposed to ruin the effect by thinking for themselves.
In the United States, women are theoretically equal, but it is a concept rather than a reality. Females are routinely paid substantially less for doing the same work as men. The vast majority of Americans who live in poverty are women and their young children. Women comprise over half the population yet possess almost none of the institutional power. Fewer than one out of five females who are raped report the crime because they understand the system is likely to rape them again: when a woman accuses a man of violating her, she is invariably smeared as a gold-digging whore. Men are lauded as studs for being promiscuous, but sexually active women are cursed as sluts. Those females who refuse to accept social inequality with a smile are widely considered to be man-hating shrews.
It is unfortunate for most Americans that they feel threatened by self-respecting women; their misogyny is preventing them from appreciating the very best the human race has to offer. For our nation, however, it is more than unfortunate… it is destructive. Societal pressure on females to embrace a submissive stereotype inhibits them from fulfilling their potential and simultaneously infantilizes men. To finally become the land of liberty, America must grow up and acknowledge that the gals are just as capable as the guys, however dubious that distinction may be.
In our semi-civilized country, women are still expected to defer to men, yet Heinz Kerry is a woman with a social conscience who defers to no one. Such defiance makes her an agent of change in a land where attitudes about gender need to be changed. The United States must eventually embrace women as full human beings, and that can only happen after existing prejudices are forcefully confronted. The process requires placing into positions of prominence some kick ass broads who refuse to honor antiquated customs or be intimidated by malicious critics.
Teresa Heinz Kerry is a kick ass broad of the first magnitude, and if on Election Day voters serve this nation well, the American people will soon have a truly admirable First Lady who drives most of them right up the wall.
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