Sick on a Sunday

I went to the 2010 Women’s Conference and all I got was this giant bag of free shit

Posted in Random Rants, The Ladies by jamie on October 29, 2010

Every year, the company I work for attends the California Women’s Conference in Long Beach, put on by the First Lady of California.  Since we’re California, our First Lady is Maria Shriver and boy-oh-boy does that lady have connections.  The following is an email I wrote to my mom, in response to, “How was the conference?”

It was long and crowded!  But some great, high-profile speakers.

I guess this is sort of demeaning, but Justice Ginsberg and Justice O’Connor are such cute little old ladies!  I mean, their discussion (with Diane Sawyer) was great and they had a lot of interesting things to say – but Justice Ginsberg even had gloves on!  And they both came on stage with their purses!  It was so cute.  They seem like the nicest people and they had nothing but nice things to say about their colleagues.  They had a video of Justices Kagan and Sotomayor thanking them and sharing their experiences with the first two Supreme Court ladies, it was really nice.

Michelle Obama was boring, frankly.  She gave the same speech she gives everywhere and after the terribly organized two-tiered security, just wasn’t worth it.  If you were in a section close to the stage, you had to go through Secret Service!  They had ONE metal detector for a few thousand people.  Took me over an hour to get to my seat.  Standing in a big crowd for an hour made me go, “Well, I’m not a security threat now… but I’m about to be.”

Dr. Jill Biden was more interesting, and said a wider variety of stuff.  I didn’t expect to see her speak, but I was glad she did.

Laura Bush was surprisingly really entertaining.  She was really witty and self-deprecating, and her speech wasn’t at all politically charged.  She was lighthearted and it was clear she didn’t take herself so seriously, which wasn’t at all what I expected because she looks like a Stepford Wife.  I’ve always been sort of terrified of her.

Oprah got super preachy, especially to a group of middle-aged white women.  Although I suppose that’s her audience.  It was a nice intro to her history and all the good stuff she’s done for communities and in South Africa (you know, minus those teachers who were molesting the girls, but they didn’t mention that).  But when she got into saying things like, “When you ask God for a miracle, and you do see one, readjust your perception!”  Yeah, Oprah, tell that to Africa.  I was also disappointed I wasn’t given a free car or anything.

Brian Williams was really funny, but the dudes he spoke with – the president (founder?) of Nike, the CEO (founder?) of Starbucks, and Nick Kristof (NYT reporter) – were sorta weird.  Well, except Nick Kristof, who had genuinely interesting things to say.  The other two were just there for PR coverage and were obviously sort of uncomfortable about it.

Eve Ensler (a poet, and the author of the Vagina Monologues) sort of just shouted at us for 30 minutes about cancer and rape, so that was fun.  She was there last year before she was diagnosed with cancer, and she sort of just shouted at us for 30 minutes about her vagina.  Like, I get that these are important topics, and appreciate the courage it takes to talk to 14,000 people about it, and I understand what she’s trying to do.  But does she have to be so shouty?

Mary Olliver, another poet, read some poems and was just another super cute old lady.  I don’t really like poems, but hers were more or less straightforward and still beautifully written, with subject matter everyone can relate to.  And she had a poem about her dog eating a book, so that was nice.  Maria Shriver said in her introduction that she’d been trying to get Mary Olliver there since the very first conference, but she’d never shown.  When she got up, she said something to the effect of, “What Maria doesn’t know is that I’ve always intended on coming.  I’ve just been walking.”

Oh my, and then the big to-do.  First, Matt Lauer spoke alone with the current governor.  Arnold Schwarzenegger (whose last name my boss recently misspelled “Swartznigger” – as if he’s a black jew) is obviously comfortable in front of a lot of people, and he’s incredibly articulate about how he felt now that he’s about to leave office.  He talked about his approach to politics, his commitment to bipartisanship, and what he did and didn’t accomplish.  He seemed very passionate.

Then Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown joined the conversation.  Matt Lauer was very clear from the beginning that it wasn’t a debate, they weren’t here to really discuss the campaign, but it was more of a discussion about California and its future.  This apparently did not register to either candidate, although Jerry Brown came off a lot more fluidly and congenially.  But then again, he’s like the Joe Biden of state politics: an old man who just doesn’t give a shit what he says anymore (don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Joe Biden, and I love crazy old men who just don’t give shits).  Meg Whitman sort of just spouted campaign points, which was boring, and which we’ve all heard before.

[Before I go on, I should say that while I’m voting for Jerry Brown, it’s only because Meg Whitman is a real shit.  I don’t particularly like him, but she’s way worse.  I mean, I’ve been voting longer than she has, and she’s old enough to by my mom.  I’d like a governor who cared a little more about politics, thankyouverymuch.]

Then it got interesting when Matt Lauer was like, “There’s been a lot of negativity throughout this campaign season, you’ve got 6 more days until election day, would you be willing to take down all your negative ads?”  Brown was basically like, “I will if she will.”  And Whitman was like, “WAAAAHHHH MY FEELINGS ARE HURT!” But neither really answered the question.  I got the impression that Whitman couldn’t commit to anything without the advice of her campaign manager.  But eventually, she kept trying to weasel her way out of it, saying things like, “Well, I’ll pull anything that could even remotely be construed as a personal attack, but I think it’s important that people know Jerry Brown’s record, blah blah blah.”

Then the ladies in the audience got pissed.  Like, really pissed.  They booed her and I was genuinely concerned they were going to riot.  Then, a crazy lady sitting somewhere behind me (in the nosebleeds) shouted, “GET BACK TO THE WOMEN, WE DON’T CARE ABOUT POLITICS.”  Which (1) shut up lady, I care about politics, and (2) implies she doesn’t think women really have a place in politics.  The general anger in the room after Whitman refused is the part you probably missed in any of the coverage.

And on a personal note, it seems unfair for Whitman to be all “but his record must be shown!” when she has no record to speak of.  If he could do the same – and just run ads that feature her history, he couldn’t, because she has none.  So that’s totally not a compromise.   Not interested in politicians who are incapable of coming to a fair(ish) compromise.

Brown even tried to convince her, saying, “I have an ad where I just look at the camera and say what I intend to do.  You have a very nice ad where you do the same thing.  Let’s pull the others and just run those.”  But no dice.  She has since released a statement saying she will not pull any ads.  Arnold did a very nice job closing the conversation by saying very nice things about each candidate – that if she was elected, she’d be the first woman, and that if he was elected we could use his experience.  Or something like that, but it was very nice and he made a very good mediator.

Anyway, those were all the notable speakers.  My “breakout conversation” sessions weren’t that interesting and I only remember about half the people on any of the panels.  Rosario Dawson dropped an f-bomb, but that’s what stands out the most.

That’s about it! I got a lot of free stuff.  Do you need any reusable grocery bags?  How about a tape measure keychain?  Or a keychain that’s a compass, a whistle, and a light?  No, just kidding, I want that one.

Maybe if I’m not feeling so lazy later, I’ll update with photos.


One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Stacey said, on November 9, 2010 at 7:48 am

    Sounds like a good time. Maybe one day I’ll be able to attend one of these conferences.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: