How Pittsburgh Men Warn & Explain Women, And How We Persist

Here’s what I see from this perch somewhere between progressive and the queer left – men seem to consistently believe they know what is best for women. Men also seem intent on denying this reality as a false perception by women who talk about the topic.

Case in point, rather cases in point.

Mitch McConnell silences Senator Elizabeth Warren in the midst of her reading from a letter penned by Coretta Scott King

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Pittsburgh based men who identify as Socialists insist on organizing a ‘counterprotest’ near the Downtown Planned Parenthood Clinic in spite of thunderous attempts by women and clinic escorts and professionals to dissuade them from a project that will only hurt women seeking services. When the cacophony grew too loud, they closed their event page and launched another without any opportunity to have more discussion on the matter.

I guess the women of Pittsburgh have also been warned, received an explanation and … well, we persist.

There’s more though.

City Councilor Natalia Rudiak has decided not to run for reelection for her seat on Pittsburgh City Council. There are currently four women serving on a body of nine people. Rudiak’s chief of staff, Ashleigh Deemer, is running for the seat – much like Dan Gilman ran for the seat vacated by Bill Peduto after serving as his chief of staff.  Deemer is qualified, experienced and she is a woman which you probably guessed. Her most serious opponent is a roofer, Anthony Coghill.

Guess who many so-called progressive men are supporting?  From the Post-Gazette:

Mr. Coghill’s previous runs for council, in 2005 and 2009, were caught up in such clashes. But this time, “We have a good group behind him,” said state Sen.Wayne Fontana, a Coghill supporter. “I’m very confident he’ll run a great campaign.”

Other prominent officials backing Mr. Coghill include Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

The problem I have is that many of these very men talk a good talk about wanting to see more women holding elected offices. As do their friends, supporters and donors.  But when the rubber hits the road, they endorse and support a man who is less qualified and less experienced.

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It isn’t particularly shocking. We’ve had one female Mayor who inherited the office and did win reelection on her own, but none since. We’ve no women currently holding statewide or federal office from this region.

How are Senator Fontana, Fitz and co any different from Mitch McConnell?

We’ve endured a full year of Bernie Bros and now Brocialists, but perhaps the real threat is closer to home and closer to the actual local power – the Catholic white cis het men who hold the purse strings, the endorsements and the keys to the Uber driveless cars? Where is their feminism? Where are their intersectional politics? We took white feminists to task for their failed community work on behalf of women. We must, must do the same when it comes to the men.

Am I absurd in painting these broad strokes from a Planned Parenthood counterprotest in support of abortion rights to a City Council race? Is it ridiculous to continue casting a skeptical glance on what these mostly white men do as well as what they say, where they worship, with whom they fraternize and how they engage women across the board? Perhaps we should distribute a survey for electeds and protestors alike asking them to describe the right kind of women for the job, any job?

How do you profess to admire Senator Elizabeth Warren, but support Anthony Coghill? How do support women’s rights to make decisions about their bodies and healthcare, then disregard their safety and peace of mind to hold a rally? What point does it serve to keep taking little Bernie-bro potshots in February 2017?

The issue isn’t about party or level of government, it is about power. It is about growing up as a man in a system that teaches all of us to value white cis het maleness above all things (bonus points for Christianity, fewer for Catholicism but still.) And then getting irritated and angry when women expect you to move it on over and free up some space and resources for us? I get that letting go of power, space, access, jobs and resources is a difficult thing to do. But how else can you create more equity?

Now, I still believe that the emphasis on white men is absolutely critical to understand. A whole lot of these disputes I outlined above take place in white Pittsburgh. So I very much know that this blog post will go over like a lead balloon. And that some of the white women who agree with me on gender with still object to my framework of talking about two Pittsburghs as part of my analysis.

No worries. I’ve been warned and explained to, repeatedly. Yet, here I am all these years later (with an award!) and still going strong.

To be transparent, I’ve been giving the critique of neoliberal politics a lot of thought of late. But the boorish behavior of leftwing white men doesn’t inspire me in the least. It it the people, male and female and nonbinary, who talk with me and ask me questions and share information with a fundamental assumption of respect for my intellect and capacity to make good decisions – those people win the day with this liberal.

Right now, all of thsose skills are pushing me to encourage you to support Ashleigh Deemer for City Council.  Like her Facebook page, make a donation – right now. 

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”


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  • *cheers* Glad to hear someone speaking out on this. Persist away, sister – You’re not alone!

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