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Desantis, Disney and the Liberal Men Who Hate Women
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Desantis, Disney and the Liberal Men Who Hate Women

an audio letter about how we hate women too much to ever let everything be ok
14

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Today we’re diving into why Disney’s decision to keep the Imagineers out of Florida and in California gave me hope for Florida’s future, and the future of the country. And then how a Politico profile on Casey Desantis made that hope…shakier. Because a lot of men hate women too much to ever let anything in America become better. (And I curse, probably, three times. I’m sorry.)

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Reading list and transcript below.

The NYT story about Disney pulling the big Florida project

The profile of Casey Desantis
I recommend in the podcast. It’s by

and Kimberly Leonard.

I really recommend

Substack too, if you’re not already subscribed.

An interview with

where I dig into one corner of the history of soft power, patriarchy and America.

Culture Study
What Got Left Out of LuLaRich
This is the midweek edition of Culture Study — the newsletter from Anne Helen Petersen, which you can read about here. If you like it and want more like it in your inbox, consider subscribing. When I first learned of the four-part LuLaRoe documentary coming to Amazon, I knew exactly who I wanted to talk to about it. For the uninitiated: LuLaRoe is an MLM…
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I am also trying to figure out the best way to get transcripts going for my audio letters. I am going to do more research to find the best services. But for now, here’s what I was able to figure out for today.

Transcript

You know how in Hillary Clinton lost, especially in the weeks after her loss. There was a lot of rhetoric kind of along the lines of like, this just goes to show like how much our country hates women. We would elect Donald Trump to be president before we would elect a woman, a woman who, you know, whether you agreed with her politically or not was definitely more fit for office than Donald Trump, basically by every metric.

And it's not that I thought that that rhetoric was incorrect at the time. I just wasn't sure if it had the nuance that, well, and rhetoric doesn't have nuance, right? That's why it's rhetoric.

But it felt a little bit flat to me. Like, yes. AND. What else is going on here? You know, Hillary Clinton was a polarizing figure.

But my thinking's changed since then. She's still not my favorite politician. I'm more of an Elizabeth Warren and Stacey Abrams gal. But I do think that this country just uniquely despises women and there's a lot of evidence. From everywhere from the Supreme Court to the way that we craft narratives around stay at home caretakers who tend to be mothers.

But today this, I want to talk about, I mean, I'm like so frustrated, I can't even find my words.

I want to talk about one example of just how much we forking hate women that happened this week.

So it starts yesterday. When my kids got home from school, my two oldest kids, Viola and Margaret, I was waiting for them in the kitchen, which I can do because I work from home.

And they each came in at separate times because they go to separate schools.

And when each of them came in, I was just standing there just like kind of like bouncing on the balls of my feet with excitement.

“Guess what? Disney's not moving all of Imagineering to Florida anymore!”

And both of them started squealing at the news.

Okay, here's why this matters.

My girls, my two oldest girls want to be Imagineers when they grow up, okay, which is kind of what Disney calls their art/engineering department that creates like the experiences and the rides. We're from California originally. Disneyland was a big part was a big part of my childhood and is a big part of their childhood. And yeah, we're really kind of obsessed with Imagineers.

I mean like on Disney Plus, there's this documentary about Imagineering that we've probably watched 10 times through. It's just a big part of our family DNA, which I know is kind of nerdy because it's Disneyland and Disney, but that's where we are with that.

I mean, it's such a big part of our DNA that when we were in California…we'd gone back home to California for a month last summer…I put up an Instagram story about how badly both of my older girls want to be Imagineers, especially Viola. She really loves the art of Mary Blair, who was an art director in the department for a long time.

And Imagineering in a lot of ways, learning about it… has helped Viola understand how her learning differences, her processing, I don't know, they're called disorders, but her processing differences can really be a source of creativity.

And it does seem like if Viola was going to be like an art director or an engineer anywhere, the Imagineering department is one place where she would fit and thrive. Anyways, I put up this Instagram story about it.

And an Imagineer like actually reached out and we got to go tour the Imagineering headquarters in Glendale, California and it was amazing and I cried and the girls cried and the very kind Imagineer, who I will not name because I don't want him to be like swamped with tour requests, was just so generous with his time.

But while we were on the tour, he told us that he was probably, he and his family and then all the other Imagineers, were moving to Florida like around 2026 because Disney had decided to further invest in their footprint there and they were going to build this big billion dollar campus and Imagineering would happen in Florida.

We're Californians and so we were kind of bummed about that because part of the like the two older girls become Imagineers dream, part of that was being it back in California. But the girls started looking up you know housing prices in Florida and trying to see what there was to do because okay I guess if you want to be an Imagineer like you have to be in Florida.

Things were already tricky politically in Florida at that point but since that last summer, obviously Governor Ron DeSantis has really become more aggressive in his anti LGBTQ and anti-everything… like the guy hates everything…. push to you know…he's gotten rid of DEI programs, he's passing anti trans laws, he's passed the Don't Say Gay Bill and my girls watched all of this with increasing trepidation because as much as they wanted to be Imagineers, living in Florida became increasingly difficult-seeming.

Because they they would be moving there it's not like they're already there. I think too often when we talk about states that are becoming politically hostile to rights -reproductive rights, I mean just human rights in general - we act like the people within the states could leave easily to go to other places. And that's not true. But my girls wouldn't have been in that situation, right? We don't live in Florida. They'd be choosing to move there for a job.

And of course like a job that they may or may not get, right? Like who knows if they will be Imagineers. But it's important I think to have something that you're striving towards. Especially when you're a little girl in America.

Anyways. So it was really welcome news to them that the Disney, because of what it's calling a “targeted campaign of harassment” from the Florida government has decided not to move Imagineers along with about two thousand other jobs to Florida and to not continue building that campus.

It's not good news for Florida it's not good news for the people who wanted to work in that part of Disney. I I feel badly about that. But you know for my girls it felt like good news. Viola especially, who would be particularly unsafe in Florida for many reasons, felt relieved about the news.

And you know, I think that the reason that I felt relieved wasn't even because “oh some you know 10 to 15 years from now my girls are for sure gonna be Imagineers and now they don't have to be in Florida.” It felt though like um they're we are starting to see not just political pushback against um the hate that is being sown by uh extremist far right people but we're also starting to see corporate pushback.

And corporate pushback is very important in America because um that is where a lot of the power lies um unfortunately and so um the reason I felt overjoyed about um Imagineering staying in California was because it felt like the it felt like possibility. It felt like maybe um stripping people of their rights state by state is not something that will be allowed to continue and that um with grassroots efforts and corporate pushback and um you know eventually if our representatives could um screw their courage to the sticking place um with political pushback we would be um in a safer country 10 to 15 years from now.

That's what I felt excited about. I felt like great…um…because here's the thing whether my girls move to you know Florida or California or wherever for a job um they they will have to move somewhere to get a job and I want to know that wherever they're going is going to be safe and I’ve felt um increasingly uncertain of their safety in increasing uh the large parts of this country and um I don't know Imagineering staying in California felt like uh maybe um uh a bell weather. Like maybe proof that things are going to start changing.

Because this will hurt Ron DeSantis that this happened because that's a lot of jobs and a lot of money that isn't coming to Florida now. There are a lot of people in Florida who wanted those jobs and um and wanted that money and and would have found ways to use the the tax money and the tourist money and um and so uh it might spur different voting um patterns uh or more voting or I don't know you know more moderate leaders voted in um.

I could see that happening state by state I mean we're already seeing that with reproductive rights right um that states that when people in states have the opportunity to vote against abortion bans they do vote against them uh so I had some hope that we were going to start seeing more pushback against um anti-trans legislation and um don't say gay bills um as the impact of those things became more evident in more parts of everybody's lives.

Um I don't think I have to tell you if you've been reading my newsletter for a long time that the impacts of those um laws are already would be very evident in in our home um and I think that's true of a lot of people's homes but sometimes other people need a little bit of uh they need to uh feel the um reverberations of the impact in different ways to be moved to action. Anyways, that was why last night ended hopeful.

Um and then I woke up this morning to this Politico profile on Casey DeSantis. And I just! Idiots, It's like people are idiots. So the the journalist…I don't know I - I'm sure he's not an idiot….I'm sorry…well…I'm not sure I don't - I don't know anything about him but he wrote this profile on Casey DeSantis, who is Ron DeSantis' wife.

And the profile is basically it taps into every gendered trope about marriage um “the idiot husband” trope, the “nagging wife” trope, the “Lady Macbeth" trope. Basically, Casey DeSantis is portrayed as a Lady Macbeth figure who is um manipulating and speaking over her much lesser husband. Like *she's really the one um running everything. And she is evil and there's all these like whispers about her and how she's like is even more of vindictive than he is and even more paranoid than he is. And she's really the extreme one*

Um and it's just like I just would urge journalists to write deep dive profiles on political spouses without leaning on gendered marriage tropes. Even if they feel true to the journalist! Like tropes work because they feel true to us. That doesn't mean that they are true! Or they're worth retelling.

I mean when you cast a spouse um as a Lady Macbeth, your sexism your misogyny is so evident that it means that anybody with a brain reading your reporting is going to distrust your reporting. Because how can you be being trusted to tell the truth if you think tropes are truth? I just - by the time I finished the piece….

I mean at one point there's like a quote in the piece that's kind of shared as a “gotcha” where Matt Gaetz or someone says um and I'm paraphrasing but he says something like “Ron DeSantis doesn't make any big decision without talking to his wife first.” And it's like “okay, that is not really a gotcha.”

I mean, I just I finished the piece and I was like “this was gross, this was disgusting.” And I loathe Casey DeSantis! I loathe Ron DeSantis! But like I actually - I didn't feel defensive of her - but I did feel defensive um of any woman who was going to be portrayed this way. I don't think it's fair. Um and I don't think - on top of not being fair, I don't think it is precise. There are so many worse things you can write about her than um then just like retelling the Lady MacBeth story.

And yeah, that's how bad I think Casey DeSantis is! Like, I think she's worse than Lady MacBeth!

Anyways if I felt that way. Imagine how people who don't loathe them felt when reading it. I mean like it really was like by the time I was done with it, I was like does this journalist work for the DeSantis campaign?

Because there was this huge blow to Ron DeSantis's political future yesterday! Like Disney pulling out that is - that could have tanked his presidential hopes, definitely destroyed any hopes for like being reelected as governor. And then the very next day, this like really disgusting sexist trope laden piece comes out? I just “he listens to his wife” is not really the own that male journalists think it is.

And it's now going to be cited as evidence that Republicans are listening to women. I mean it's ridiculous! Like I just! And what it's going to do is it's going toreinforce that domestic soft power is legitimate power in the public sphere. That the way that women can have power is by exercising it as wives and mothers within the home. And that that power is so persuasive so um powerful that it is the same as having actual power in the public sphere, like her husband does because he is actually governor.

And that is the same lie that's been told about soft power within domestic spaces since I don't even… not Aristotle because he just didn't want women to have any kind of power. But definitely since the Industrial Revolution when women were instructed to stay within the domestic sphere. And that was how they would influence the future and destiny of the nation. That the real power the real power is with the ladies is in the home and these guys out here making all the laws and all the decisions they don't really have power.

It’s like that is bullshit! But that is exactly exactly the lie that this whole article played into and it's like…. if you are a staff writer you don't need to rely on tropes! You have a salary. you have health insurance, you have the resources and the time to build new framing. And if you can't build new framing to explain what is going on right now, then just stop! Stop making it worse for all of us!

Desantis, and the movement that he represents, is so horrifically harmful to women, to anyone who's not a white cis male, I just think - I don't want to hear one more white cis male write about it, like I don't want to read one more, I don't want to hear them talk about it. They have no idea what's at stake and when they do think they are speaking truth to power, what they're really doing is reinforcing their own white male power. Because this journalist was more interested in reinforcing the public-private divide and writing a catty essay about Lady Macbeth-like women, than he was in like really writing a deeply thoughtful profile on Casey Desantis.

But also like all the things that she really does represent like white women upholding the patriarchy, white women using uh the nuclear family and “defense of the nuclear family” uh to reinforce and uphold white supremacy. Like there are all these things that this writer could have gotten into that are true and are difficult to write about and are damning! Um but it would have required him to not just flatten her into like a naggy power hungry wife. And so he didn't.

Anyways, the reason I'm upset about this - aside from like its like obvious micro-frustration is that um enough coverage like this and it won't matter um that disney pulled out of Florida! It won't matter how many um how much real harm Governor Desantis is causing. Because he is the one like actually in power here. Um because the narrative will have shifted! And people um will feel defensive of Casey Desantis. People will think that uh Ron Desantis whatever “power sharing “with her is like real. When of course um it's not!

And um um they'll be able to go out on the trail and say yeah i do listen to my wife because i think women should have a voice. Democrats and those liberal journalists think that it's a problem that I value women's voices.

And it's like! Bullshit, that's not what's happening. But that's the narrative that's being written. And uh it's a powerful enough narrative to uh give him a bump and then further imperil women and marginalized communities. Because if Ron Desantis and people like him are allowed to stay in power, um they'll keep stripping us of reproductive rights and other human rights! While pointing to the women standing beside them and saying,

“See! I could never hurt any of you. I’m not really removing rights from you because I'm partnered with a woman and I listened to her. And so this has nothing to do with whether your ability to access an abortion um has nothing to do with um misogyny or um white supremacy or anything else because um look even liberal journalists say i listen to my wife and i take women seriously.”

And if Ron Desantis is allowed to remain in power in Florida and gain power other places, it won't matter where my kids move. It won't matter where Imagineering is located. It won't matter what state my kids can move to…um because they'll be subject to men like him because of fucking political reporters.

Anyway. Sorry, i said that eff word. Um. Those are my thoughts on that. I'm gonna link to a better profile of her written by Lyz Lens in the episode notes. I hope you have a good weekend. I'm just…you know….

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Pocket Observatory is now at pocketobservatory.org
voicemails from meg conley
You're too busy for another podcast. Me too. So this is just a voicemail, the kind we used to leave one another before texting and social media. Once or twice a week, I leave you a message about politics, the economy, culture and home. I guess these voicemails are companions to my newsletter, homeculture. But like any message worth leaving, they stand just fine on their own too. Just imagine I'm calling you from a Vtech Jelly Bean cordless phone, in translucent purple. I'll imagine you're listening to my message on your Vtech Jelly Bean cordless phone in translucent red. Talk soon.
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