Saturday, June 24, 2006
I went out to the mall to look at this dark-green intricately cut skirt for the third time, and it's still 88 dollars. Too much for a skirt which I don't need, even though it's really "Echidne". Grr.
But while walking around and letting the accountant part of me win the inner argument about what else there might be that 88 dollars would be needed for, I also realized that I forgot the most important conclusion from my first Wingnuttia trip: The reason so many of the Christian ladies support ultra-right economic policies has to do with the fact that they already live "in a different country". They feel no real kinship with the rest of us and they don't want to pay taxes towards schools that they are not sending their children to or towards social services that their church supplants. I'm not sure why they don't care about the poor if they don't, but perhaps the poor, too, seem to belong to some other reality than the Christian fundamentalist one.
If I'm correct, things are pretty worrisome. The country is falling apart right as we speak, into subcultures which can't communicate. And homeschooling children with quite different curricula will further contribute to this collapse and the chasms that are created.
No, I have not turned into a Christian lady. I'm still a pagan goddess but now freshly returned from my first sojourn into the feminine side of Wingnuttia. "Wingnut", by the way, is a term of endearment employed by some of us liberal/progressive/feminazi types to denote those who perch on the extreme right wing of this country. Just like "moonbat" or "dhimmi" is a similar endearment from the other side concerning us.
In any case, I am planning more trips to Wingnuttia, in search of information. This first trip was an information gathering expedition on the question of anti-feminism among the fundamentalist Christian women, and I selected the blogs I visited because their proprietors expressed anti-feminist sentiments. The idea is to forget everything I think I know about the question and to let the Christian lady blogs teach me new answers.
It didn't work, of course. I'm much too set in may ways. But I tried.
The first thing I noticed about these anti-feminist blogs was the fact that they have very little to say about feminism. There are instructions on how to please a husband, true, that few feminists would want to be seen unless there were similar instructions on how to please a wife, but mostly these blogs are full of posts about homemaking, crafts, recipes, childrearing, homeschooling and Bible study. Many posts are uplifting, trying to make the readers better women, though what these posts mean by better women may not always agree with my idea of goodness.
The focus on homemaking and homeschooling on these blogs doesn't really explain their anti-feminism, because there are feminists (the "difference" school comes to mind) who end up with fairly similar ideas about what women might want to do with their lives and who also stress the value of mothers at home and the value of homeschooling. Also, even really mean feminists like me can do crafts. Here are pictures of two sweaters I designed and knitted (the first picture is a closeup of the third one), and I also made a business suit once (picture available if requested):
No, something deeper is going on with these Christian lady bloggers' anti-feminism, and that is their literal reading of the Bible. They believe that God wants wives to submit themselves to their husbands.
One blogger gives the following personal statement:
I am a child of God, the blessed wife of Jesse, and joyful mother of Kathrynne. My husband and I are both from large, homeschooling families. Both sets of parents sacrificed much to raise us in the ways of the Lord. As Scripture says, "To whom much is given, much is required." We have been given so much and, as God enables us, we are seeking to give out to others. This blog is one little way, with my husband's oversight and blessing, I am striving to do just that. I do not profess to know all the answers, nor am I setting myself up as a teacher. Rather, I desire to be an encouragement, challenge, and inspiration to women and young women. You may or may not agree with what is written here. As with anything you read, please search the Scriptures for yourself and ask your husband or father for his counsel and direction.
Note that she blogs with her husband's oversight and blessing and encourages her (female?) readers to seek counsel from men in their families.
Another blogger expresses similar sentiments:
On my post, Hablo Ingles, Anna B. commented:
"You write that you teach your children Spanish. You shouldn't. Your husband should teach his children Spanish. My 3 children are perfectly trilingual thanks to the fact that I always (and I mean always) speak my mother tongue with them, my husband speaks his (English), and their school language (French) is that of the country we live in."
While I appreciate what I imagine the intent of Anna's advice to be, I must say I bristle a bit at being told I shouldn't teach my children Spanish. I am the teacher in our homeschool and my husband is the principal. It is my duty to educate our children while my wonderful husband works two jobs to provide for his family. I feel completely qualified to teach our children Spanish. I took three years of Spanish in high school (only two of those were for required foreign language credit), I was a member of the Spanish Honor Society, I have numerous resources at my disposal, and my husband helpfully answers any questions I have.
This is a hierarchical view of the sexes. Men are higher on the spiritual and power ladders, and this view is based on a literal reading of the Bible as God's word.
My view of the Bible is quite different. I see it as written by human beings who lived a long time ago, in a society where women were much less educated and informed than men were and where male supremacy probably went unquestioned. There seems to be an unbridgeable chasm between me and the Christian lady bloggers. If we start from different basic assumptions, well, it would probably be impossible to build any kind of mutually beneficial conversations. This is very sad.
Not all the opposition to feminism in these blogs is based on Christian sectarian interpretations. One blogger posted this quip about feminism:
Feminism in a Nutshell:
1. Men are jerks.
2. Women should be more like men.
This is really quite funny. Mistaken, but funny. I don't believe that men are any more likely to be jerks than women, but I do believe that the way society is structured gives men more scope to develop any jerkdom they have. I also don't believe that women should be more like men. It's enough if women can become more like themselves, always within the rules of good citizenship and such, naturally.
Still, I get the joke. I wonder if the blogger gets the hidden joke in this; the one about women not being protected by submitting themselves to a jerk, however angelic the women themselves might be.
The comments to this post about feminism referred to the Titanic disaster. This is a common metaphor that wingnuts use to explain why a male-dominated society was actually good for women, and the reason is chivalry. The men on the Titanic chose to drown so that the women and the children could get first dibs on the lifeboats.
I've heard this metaphor being used to explain why women should now submit themselves to men forevermore. Never mind that chivalry might never have been that common or applicable towards lower-class women. And never mind that reversing the argument probably gives you goosebumps: If I promise to drown for you should the occasion arise, will you promise to obey me all your lives?
But what's really nasty about the Titanic metaphor is what it reveals about the wingnuts' views on men. There is a hidden threat in this story, and that threat is this: If women no longer submit to earn chivalry, who do you think is going to be on those lifeboats, the strong men or the weak women? Women can choose: either live in a jungle where men trample all over you or agree to submit and then maybe earn chivalry from them. That is a very sexist and mean-spirited view of men.
I didn't do very well on my attempt to be open-minded and nonsarcastic, even though I have never edited a post more towards the gentler and kinder direction. Sigh. It's my vipertongueness. Well, nobody is perfect. Not even Christian lady bloggers.
Friday, June 23, 2006
My earlier post on the way lefty blogs are discussed in the mainstream media referred to the idea of blog communities, but I now think this idea deserves a post of its own.
The feeling of belonging to a community, of being its member, of being accepted even when you are grumpy and sad or in the wrong is very important for many human beings. Communities are not the same as the circle of our immediate families and friends, but they are also necessary for pack animals such as Homo sapiens, and I believe that we have not appreciated this importance enough in politics. Think about the idea of America-on-the-road, about how people move across a continent at the drop of a hat, in search for a better job or a better life. This can be good and exciting but it also has its costs in terms of lost ties to people and places, losses of community. And what takes its place for many? Watching the box or surfing the internet. These are not replacements of real communities.
The religious believers, including the fundamentalists, have their own solution to our thirst for communities: churches and other religious institutions. They serve to bring people together and to give them the kind of community feeling people need. The new megachurches thrive because of this. People cut adrift from their familiar and geographic ties can hookup immediately to something larger than themselves. This is important, not to be underestimated. I have even heard abused women tell that they stayed in the faith-based community that did the abusing because of this community feeling.
But that communities can be exploited for nepharious agendas does not mean that we who are not nepharious should not build our own communities. Communities of people who have at least some of the same beliefs let us feel that we are not alone, not weird. They give us a place where we can relax, where it's not necessary to always be in armor and ready to attack, where it's possible to discuss and plan and to take the risk of being in the wrong without getting your head bashed in as a consequence.
Internet communities are not quite the same thing as real world communities, but they are communities, and I believe that we should support them because of the psychological and political and common-sense advantages. And whenever possible, we should encourage the next step: to make these communities into real-world communities. Programs such as Drinking Liberally already do this.
So I find blog communities at Eschaton, Kos, Firedoglake and Pandagon, to pick just a few examples, a good thing for us liberals and progressives and feminists.
And how do you build such a community? Well, you need to have comments and you need to let people talk about stuff that is not directly related to the topic of the comments thread. You need to give the readers a voice. - You also need to solve the problem of trolling and of unstable commenters and of spamming, but a lot of this is not that different from the kinds of things that happen in flesh-based communities.
All this is a long answer to this criticism of blogs I linked to earlier:
Even beyond the thuggishness, what I despise about so many blogurus, is the frivolity of their "readers." DailyKos might have hundreds of responses to his posts, but after five or six of them the interminable thread meanders into trivial subjects that have nothing to do with the subject that briefly provoked it. The blogosphere's lack of concentration is even more dangerous than all its rage.
Anyone who has organized a church social knows about the lack of concentration thing. It's nothing specific to blogs or lefty blogs. Indeed, anyone who has taught a class knows about the lack of concentration thing. The trick is to bring people's attention back by suddenly yelling like an angry bear, say. Worked for me.
Communities are not totally good things. For one thing, anything that makes some people into "insiders" turns others into "outsiders", and all sorts of nastiness can grow from that, and the self-policing of communities can also get vicious. For that reason (and for other reasons) we also need political commons, places, where people of different political views can interact. In a POLITE way. Right now these commons don't exist, because the wingnuts have killed them - I'm willing to defend this argument for pages and pages, so don't even think of starting a debate on it - and some of the criticisms aimed at blogs should be properly addressed to those wingnuts responsible for the lack of such commons.
Did you notice that I'm practising using dashes recently? This kind of thing is the reason why my blog will never become a community.
I listened to the BBC interview with Ann Coulter about her book. She goes on about a preschool child being told at school that his school lunch consisted of garbage because the sandwich was wrapped in plastic which would then go into landfills. From this it was just one short leap for Coulter to say that schools talk about this godless stuff six hours a day, and another short leap inexorably leads to her assertion that the whole country is in the claws of fundamentalist atheists who only worship the god of recycling.
To write a book like this but with the accusations reversed I will start with this piece of news about a ten-year old girl being told to remove her bandanna in a mall. Because the bandanna had peace signs. Yup:
A southwest Missouri mall defended its dress code after a security guard told a 10-year-old girl her bandanna decorated with peace signs, smiley faces and flowers violated the mall's code of conduct.
Lydia Smith, who was shopping with her mother at Battlefield Mall for new church clothes when the incident happened Saturday, said she wore the orange and yellow bandanna to give her outfit some color.
Lydia and her mom, Susan Smith, were eating lunch when the girl saw a mall security officer ask a nearby teenager to remove a bandanna. Then the officer approached her.
"(The officer) asked me to take it off and said there's this new rule we have or something like that," Lydia said.
The officer handed Lydia's mother a printed copy of the Battlefield Mall Code of Conduct, which prohibits patrons from engaging in certain activities while on mall property.
Lydia had violated No. 10 on the list of 17 offenses: "failing to be fully clothed or wearing apparel which is likely to provide a disturbance or embroil other groups or the general public in open conflict."
Yup. The next step is to point out how children are subjected to this six hours a day in the malls they frequent. And then the next step is to point out how the whole country is in the claws of these censors who decide what our children can wear in public. Peace signs! The horror of it.
Ok. This isn't very well done, but my point should come out clear. It's not at all hard to make outrageous theories if all the evidence you need is anecdotal stuff. There is always someone somewhere who can support your theory.
Where, exactly, they have arrived is still unclear. But the command has been handed down from the very top wingnuts: Destroy! It's a little like that Gandhi quip about the enemy first ignoring you, then ridiculing you and then you win. A little, because it's not yet clear who will win, though I tend to be fairly pessimistic in such predictions. Still, it's fun to be a thorn in someone's backside.
It all started with the attention the so-called liberal media awarded to the Yearly Kos, the gathering of bloggers, blog readers and politicians into an actual in-the-flesh convention. People had fun! And the politicians were IMPORTANT ones! EEEK! Better get the opposition rolling. And so it rolled. First, stories about the convention tried to find pictures of hairy and frightening lefty extremists but failed miserably. The people participating looked just like...ordinary people of all types.
Not to despair yet. There must be something else one can point out to make the lefty blogs look bad. Wait, I know. Let's point out that the blogosphere hasn't backed any winning politicians! Yes, that's a good one. Surely everybody understands that a few people blogging out of their basements for two or three years should have turned the system by now if they ever will.
Then let's point out how extremists these folk are. No way could we let them have any influence in the mainstream media where we listen to such sane and tolerant and truth-loving people as Limbaugh and Coulter and Savage and Beck and Gibson and...
A good beginning. What else could we do? Perhaps dig out some nasty information about some blogger somewhere and then make that apply to every single person who ever blogged outside wingnuttia? Good idea. Let's do that. Then we can point out that the leaders of the lefty blogosphere are not squeaky-clean and make all sorts of conspiracy theories in general. Well, except that there are no leaders really, because the left is disorganized and unable to hold on to any unified agenda whatsoever. Put that in, too.
That's it, pretty much, except for lots of repetition. Here's David Broder:
Judging from the amount of publicity they gleaned, the liberal bloggers who gathered in Las Vegas recently for the first annual YearlyKos convention represent the cutting edge of thinking in the Democratic Party.
But the blogs I have scanned are heavier on vituperation of President Bush and other targets than on creative thought. The candidates who have been adopted as heroes by Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, the convention's leader, and his fellow bloggers have mainly imploded in the heat of battle -- as was the case with Howard Dean in 2004 -- or come up short, as happened to the Democratic challengers in special House elections in Ohio and California.
His advice is to use the internet to read mainstream stuff instead. That's ok. I don't mind that advice. I'm going to filter into the mainstream eventually, because Some Things Just Will Be. But I won't stop reading blogs, either, because blogs keep the mainstream journalists honest and scared, and that is good.
If repetition won't get you convinced, how about turning the strength up a click or two on the vituperation dial:
It's a bizarre phenomenon, the blogosphere. It radiates democracy's dream of full participation but practices democracy's nightmare of populist crudity, character-assassination, and emotional stupefaction. It's hard fascism with a Microsoft face. It puts some people, like me, in the equally bizarre position of wanting desperately for Joe Lieberman to lose the Democratic primary to Ned Lamont so that true liberal values might, maybe, possibly prevail, yet at the same time wanting Lamont, the hero of the blogosphere, to lose so that the fascistic forces ranged against Lieberman might be defeated. (Every critical event in democracy is symbolic of the problem with democracy.)
Even beyond the thuggishness, what I despise about so many blogurus, is the frivolity of their "readers." DailyKos might have hundreds of responses to his posts, but after five or six of them the interminable thread meanders into trivial subjects that have nothing to do with the subject that briefly provoked it. The blogosphere's lack of concentration is even more dangerous than all its rage. In the Middle East, they struggle with belief. In the United States, we struggle with attention. The blogosphere's fanaticism is, in many ways, the triumph of a lack of focus.
Now I have to go and cry in a corner. I've been so totally put into my place.
But the writer doesn't get the community idea of blogs. There's a reason for talking about trivial things in the threads, and that is community building. We need communities, we humans (and goddesses), and internet communities can be real communities. They are sort of our megachurches. Heh.
Interesting that the term "blogosphere" has suddenly become synonymous with "left blogosphere". What happened to all those wingnut blogs which moved mountains (or so I read quite recently) in American politics? Also interesting how "left blogosphere" now means Markos of the Daily Kos. It's an odd transformation and has very little to do with reality. Such a transformation is necessary, of course, because the next stage in the wingnut campaign is to destroy the enemy and if the enemy is one guy running one blog the operation looks feasible. Sadly (or happily, depending on your point of view), wingnuts are poor war planners. I think we have some more time before we get occupied for the sake of our freedoms.
Though the metadiscussions on this already appear to accept the hierarchical model of importance.
This is Doug's dog Kody. Very happy and excited.
Henrietta the Hound ate a spider the other day. This spider (whom I hadn't yet named) was spinning a thread down from the ceiling. I watched while on the phone. Suddenly Henrietta walked over and ate the spider. Just like that. Chewed and swallowed, too.
I still don't know if she was protesting her current diet or if she was defending me against this invader or if she was just bored and wanted to do something that would astonish me.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
The Republican party is the party of money. They harvest the fundamentalists for support and votes, true, and they don't really care if the fundies get to decide how the lives of the poor are, but their real aim has always been to preserve wealth in as few hands as possible. Yesterday's events are such a good example of this simple truth.
First, the Republicans crushed the attempt to raise the minimum wage. Note that the U.S. Congress has voted themselves raises every year. But no, the poor can't get raises:
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday defeated a proposal pushed by Democrats to raise the federal minimum wage in increments from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour by January 1, 2009.
Second, on the same day the Republicans did this:
Hi folks. The House Republican leadership scurried up to the Rules Committee hearing room for an EMERGENCY meeting they convened with 5 minutes notice. Literally.
Wonder where the fire was? Well the topic Republicans chose for EMERGENCY consideration ... H.R. 5638, the Republican Estate Tax Relief bill, designed to further reduce the estate-tax after the year 2011. Yes, estate-tax reduction, which would benefit less than 1% of the population, was more important to this Republican Leadership than passing a minimum wage increase, extending the voting rights act, or having a real, substantive debate on the war in Iraq.
I once heard William Kristol (one of the thinkers among wingnuts) in an interview state very explicitly that the Republican party is the party of the property owners and that its major goal is to protect property. Good for Bill to be so honest.
There is an inbuilt problem with a party which tries to get property more and more concentrated into fewer and fewer hands, and that is that the property owners alone will then not have enough votes to stay in political power. Unless they find out something populist, something appealing to our worst instincts, like fear and hatred of the other or fear of death. Like fearing the terrorists and the Mexicans who steal our (minimum wage!) jobs. Such populist ideas seem to work quite well in the short run, but I suspect that a day will come when the scales fall off the eyes of those who vote for the rich while staying every bit as poor as before, or those who used to belong to the middle classes but now find themselves relying on that seldom-changing minimum wage. - Well, nobody can blame me for lack of optimism now.
Senator Ricky Santorum is not an ethical politician:
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) held a press conference and announced "we have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." Santorum and Hoekstra are hyping a document that describes degraded, pre-1991 munitions that were already acknowledged by the White House's Iraq Survey Group and dismissed.
Fox News' Jim Angle contacted the Defense Department who quickly disavowed Santorum and Hoekstra's claims. A Defense Department official told Angle flatly that the munitions hyped by Santorum and Hoekstra are "not the WMD's for which this country went to war."
Why do this idiotic thing? To fetch water for the approval-parched Bush administration? To try to do something about the fact that he's not doing well in the polls about the next elections in Pennsylvania?
And this one is truly hilarious: Santorum is now trying to appeal to women voters who are naturally a little skittish about voting for a man who would really like to see them in burqas:
In a room filled with about 50 women at Central Pennsylvania College in this Cumberland County community, Santorum unveiled an advertising strategy designed to appeal to women.
''I know I get a lot of flak for not being great … on women's issues,'' Santorum told the crowd.
Stating his own case, Santorum talked about his support for education-related issues and for aid to small businesses, including those led by women. He also noted that women comprise most of his senior staff.
His ad campaign includes a Web site, http://www.WomenforRick.com , and promotes the use of tracking issues through text messages sent to cell phones.
In the latest Keystone Poll, Santorum trailed Democratic challenger Bob Casey Jr. among women by 10 percentage points, 47-37. Santorum and Casey were neck-and-neck among male voters in the May survey, with 47 percent supporting Casey and 45 percent favoring Santorum.
Just to remind you why Santorum is NOT for women, read this earlier post of mine on his book. But Mary Matalin came to Ricky's aid:
Flanked by posters reading, ''Find out how Rick Santorum is leading for women,'' Mary Matalin, who headlined Monday's event, came to the senator's defense, describing him as the ''go-to guy in the Senate.''
''He's so connected, so in touch … to my problems as a woman,'' said Matalin, a political analyst and commentator who has worked for both President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
Hee hee! He's so connected to my problems as a woman, says Mary Matalin! Now that is funny, because it's also kinda true. If Santorum had his way American women would have nothing but problems.
Both candidates in this run are pro-lifers, by the way. I get a little bit angry about all these last-minute campaigns to get women voters engaged. Like the old "W is for women" for George Bush, and now this one. They don't show any real understanding of the female voter base, and they don't even care to cover up that ignorance. Women really don't matter to these guys. Just send them chocolate and flowers and apologize for wanting them in burqas. That'll do it.
Then there are all those other Santorums cropping up all over the country. This is a funny take on it, via Atrios. Sort of like all those Elvis-imitators, we can now have large swarms of Santorum imitators, holding press conferences of the sinfulness of uppity women and the holiness of wars.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
I'm beginning to separate into two personalities. One is a horribly rude blogger, trying desperately to turn the Democratic party into a party of rabid extremism and thereby digging its grave for the next hundred years. This one, with fangs reaching from here to Arkansas, can't be listened to, can't be ignored, must be ridiculed. This is the one who gets her kicks from imagining the slaughtering of American soldiers in Iraq. Or so Rush Limbaugh tells his faithful ditto-heads.
Then there is the other personality. The middly-mudly one, the one who doesn't blog enough on fisting or anal sex or anything really interesting, who isn't really feminist enough or angry enough or capable of building real internet communities. Who isn't doing enough grassroots work, isn't getting people involved in politics. Who is too much a wimp.
One of these is an externally constructed persona, the other one is a product of my internal videos. The two are right now duking it out in the backyard, using garbage can lids as shields and rakes and spades as the weapons. Henrietta the Hound is watching it all from the porch and she's bored because she's a much more skilled fighter than either one of my fragmented personas.
There is no point to this post, just some selfish whining. I find selfish whining a very healthy thing to do once in a while, and especially at times when I see the mythology of bloggers being created. Like right now.
Some years ago I got a beg letter from an organization promoting more research into women's health. The letter explained in great detail how fragile and sickly women were, and I was inspired enough (read: mad as hell) to actually write them a letter giving lots of health statistics about the fact that women, on average, live quite a bit longer than men, on average.
Now Marianne Legato has taken this idea to the extreme in the New York Times, and on Father's Day, of all things. She writes:
WHEN I say I study gender-specific medicine, most people assume I mean women's health. Patients ask me, "Do you take care of men too?"
I may be partly to blame for the confusion: in the years since the revolutionary 1985 report on women's health from the United States Public Health Service, I — along with many of my colleagues — have tried to atone for the fact that for so long the majority of diseases that afflicted both genders were studied exclusively in men.
Over the past two decades, we've radically revised how we conduct medical research and take care of our female patients. And we've made valuable discoveries about how gender helps determine vulnerability to illness and, ultimately, the timing and causes of death. But I now believe that we doctors and researchers may have focused too much on women.
What emerges when one studies male biology in a truly evenhanded way is the realization that from the moment of conception on, men are less likely to survive than women. It's not just that men take on greater risks and pursue more hazardous vocations than women. There are poorly understood — and underappreciated — vulnerabilities inherent in men's genetic and hormonal makeup. This Father's Day, we need to rededicate ourselves to deepening our knowledge of male physiology.
Men's troubles begin during the earliest days in the womb. Even though there are more male than female embryos, there are more miscarriages of male fetuses. Industrial countries are also witnessing a decline in male to female birth ratios, and we don't know why.
Some scientists have argued that the probability of a male child declines as parents (especially fathers) age. Still others have cited the prevalence of pesticides, which produce more birth defects in male children.
Even when a boy manages to be born, he's still behind the survival eight ball: he is three to four times more likely than girls to have developmental disorders like autism and dyslexia; girls learn language earlier, develop richer vocabularies and even hear better than boys. Girls demonstrate insight and judgment earlier in adolescence than boys, who are more impulsive and take more risks than their sisters. Teenage boys are more likely to commit suicide than girls and are more likely to die violent deaths before adulthood.
As adults, too, men die earlier than women. Twice as many men as women die of coronary artery disease, which manifests itself a decade earlier in men than women; when it comes to cancer, the news for men is almost as bad. Women also have more vigorous immune systems than men: of the 10 most common infections, men are more likely to have serious encounters with seven of them.
While depression is said to be twice as frequent in women as in men, I'm convinced that the diagnosis is just made more frequently in women, who show a greater willingness to discuss their symptoms and to ask for help when in distress. Once, at a dinner party, I asked a group of men whether they believed men were depressed as often as women, but were simply conditioned to be silent in the face of discomfort, sadness or fear. "Of course!" replied one man. "Why do you think we die sooner?"
You know what? I feel as angry about this reverse take on the relative health of the sexes, and the reason for my anger in both cases is the same one: Discussions like these may or may not be the springboard for better health research, but they certainly will be used to perpetuate the status quo of power imbalances between the sexes.
It's pretty obvious how an article explaining the weakness and fragility of women can be used that way: Women must be protected from the hurly-burly of jobs and power and political debates. Someone else must decide for them, someone else must regulate their lives so that they will stay healthy. Or so that at least their womb and ovaries will stay healthy.
But the reverse story can lead to the exactly same conclusion. Don't believe me? Here's Legato on that very topic:
Considering the relative fragility of men, it's clearly counterintuitive for us to urge them, from boyhood on, to cope bravely with adversity, to ignore discomfort, to persevere in spite of pain and to accept without question the most dangerous jobs and tasks we have to offer. Perhaps the reason many societies offer boys nutritional, educational and vocational advantages over girls is not because of chauvinism — it's because we're trying to ensure their survival.
It's like that old joke we used tell about communism when I was a tiny goddess: My doughnut is my doughnut. Your doughnut is my doughnut. - Not a very good joke, but it shows the odd way any differences between men and women are obvious explanations for male dominance. It doesn't matter what way the differences would go.
None of this should be intended to read that I don't care about men's possible fragility, compared to us stoic and almost-unkillable women. I do care. Good research in the field is much encouraged, and we might also do something about all those wars that still kill men disproportionately. Also the murders and car accidents which pick out young men more often than young women.
But Legato is exaggerating some of the findings to make her point. For example, there are still more boys than girls being born, even in the industrialized countries. We should remember that when interpreting the sad description of the difficulties that boys have in becoming born in the first place.
The question of depression rates by sex is interesting. I remember reading a study on depression among the Amish sect in the United States. It suggested that the rates were fairly equal by sex, whereas the general consensus is that women are much more likely to suffer from depressive illness. One suggested explanation for the findings among the Amish was that the Amish don't self-medicate with alcohol and that for some reason there is no cultural ban for men to say that they are depressed. Both these factors might disguise male depression in the wider American context. But this was just one study and I can't recollect whether it was well done or not.
We clearly need good research on these issues and probably also programs that support seeking help earlier among men. But I still don't like this current trend of thinking about all of us as just simply generic examples of "male" or "female". A good female friend of mine died young and another woman I knew committed suicide. I had a great-uncle who died at ninety-nine. Programs that would lump all people into treatment groups by sex alone would be as ham-fisted an approach as ignoring the question altogether.
Ah, the Sacher torte. George Bush is in Vienna and meeting, for a change, journalists which are not of the tame American breed. See how he manages to answer the questions from the wild or feral type:
The question from a British journalist: "President Bush, you've got Iran's nuclear program, you've got North Korea, yet most Europeans consider the United States the biggest threat to global stability. Do you have any regrets about that?"
Bush: "That's absurd. . . . That is the United States is -- we'll defend ourselves, but at the same times we're actively working with our partners to spread peace and democracy. So whoever says that is -- it's just -- that's an absurd statement."
And then later, a follow-up from an Austrian journalist:
Q: "Mr. President, you said this is absurd. But you might be aware that in Europe, the image of America is still falling and dramatically in some areas.
"Let me give you some numbers. In Austria, in this country, only 14 percent of the people believe that the United States -- what they are doing is good for peace; 64 percent think that it is bad.
"In the United Kingdom, your ally, there are more citizens who believe that the United States policy under your leadership is helping to destabilize the world than Iran.
"So my question to you is why do you think that you've failed so badly to convince Europeans, to win their heads and hearts and minds?"
Bush: "Well, yeah, I thought it was absurd for people to think that we're more dangerous than Iran.
"I -- you know, it's -- we're a transparent democracy. People know exactly what's on our mind. We debate things in the open. We've got a legislative process that's active.
"Look, people didn't agree with my decision on Iraq. And I understand that. For Europe, September the 11th was a moment; for us it was a change of thinking.
"I vowed to the American people I would do everything I could to defend our people, and will. I fully understood that the longer we got away from September the 11th, more people would forget the lessons of September the 11th. But I'm not going to forget them.
"And I understand some of the decisions I've made are controversial. But I made them in the best interest of our country and, I think, in the best interests of the world.
"I believe when you look back at this moment, people will say, It was right to encourage democracy in the Middle East.
"I understand some people think that can't work. I believe in the universality of freedom. Some don't. I'm going to act on my beliefs so long as I'm the president of the United States.
"Some people say, 'It's OK to condemn people to tyranny.' I don't believe it's OK to condemn people to tyranny, particularly those of us who live in the free societies.
"And so I understand. And I'll try to do my best to explain to the Europeans that, on the one hand, we're tough when it comes to the terror. On the other hand, we're providing more money than ever before in the world's history for HIV/AIDS on the continent of Africa.
"I'll say, on the one hand, we're going to be tough when it comes to terrorist regimes who harbor weapons.
"On the other hand, we'll help feed the hungry.
"I declared Darfur to be a genocide because I care deeply about those who have been afflicted by these renegade bands of people who are raping and murdering.
"And so I will do my best to explain our foreign policy. On the one hand, it's tough when it needs to be. On the other hand, it's compassionate.
"And we'll let the polls figure out -- you know, people say what they want to say. But leadership requires making hard choices based upon principle and standing by the decisions you make. And that's how I'm going to continue to lead my country.
"Thank you for your question."
"Leadership requires making hard choices based upon principle and standing by the decisions you make." Hmm. I learned two things from this: First, Bush has watched too many cowboy movies and not enough about the last czar of all Russia. Second, we are going to go over the cliff any day now, because we will not veer from the course he has selected. Sigh. - Did you notice how he talks about "leading my country". Imperial tones. Ta-Ram-Pam-Pah.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Virginity or Death! And Other Social and Political Issues of Our Time is the new collection of Katha Pollitt's columns from the Nation magazine, spanning the time period from 2001 to early 2006. Go and buy it now. I did, though I asked the sales clerk at the local bookstore to "give me virginity or give me death" and his eyes bulged out a little.
I'm not an unbiased reviewer of Pollitt's work, because I love her writing. I wrap myself in it as if it were a silk blanket, I gorge on it as if it were the best chocolate in the whole world, I inhale it as if all the secret and luxurious spices were found it it. That last sentence shows that, alas, I'm no Pollitt myself. The idea I wanted to reach was that for me reading Katha's writing is such a sensual experience that it wouldn't matter very much what she writes.
But she writes good stuff, mostly, and stuff that very few other commenters in the mainstream print media cover. Not only is she one of the few out-of-closet feminists out there but she is also one of the few writers who takes women seriously as a topic. Of course, these two things are pretty much the same.
You should buy this new collection even if you have read every one of the columns before, because of two things: First, the Introduction alone is worth the price of $13.95. Here Pollitt writes about the current regime:
The fecklessness of the current regime astonishes me, I admit. Hurricane Katrina displayed to the whole world the inability of the administration to do the bedrock job of government, which is to ensure public safety and protect people from catastrophe, while simultaneously revealing what should definitely not come as a surprise but somehow did to many: the deep poverty of the Gulf region and its racial nature. Surely -- after botching the rescue in full view of the whole world, after Bush's unfortunate use of Trent Lott's beach house as the synecdoche for the towns and neighborhoods destroyed by storm and flood, and his mother's even more clueless remark that living in the Houston Astrodome was "working well" for the displaced, who were "underprivileged anyway" -- surely, I thought, the Administration would pour on steam to show what a good job it would do to get the evacuees back on their feet. I forgot for a moment that this was the same administration that had shown nothing but contempt for professional expertise, whose answers to every question of public policy was tax cuts, and whose response to every crisis has been to leave people to their own devices, down to expecting soldiers on active duty in Iraq to supply their own body armor, like medieval knights.
And here she writes about the media treatment of feminism:
And speaking of babies, what about feminism? If you follow the media, the women's movement is well into the third decade of the longest funeral in history ("Is Women's Lib a Passing Fad?" New York Times, 1972). A torrent of books, articles, and popular entertainment tells women they don't really want equality, and if they get it they will only be miserable, because what makes women happy is nurturing men and children, or even, as a recent New York Times front-page story suggested, quitting their jobs -- their empty, materialistic, meaningless jobs -- to move back into their childhood bedrooms and tend their aging parents ("Forget the Career. My Parents Need Me at Home," November 24, 2005). When was the last time you saw a mass-market film with a "career woman" character who wasn't a bitch on wheels? In which the diamond-in-the-rough working-class beauty was a genius who needed a scholarship, not a stripper who needed a husband? As for sex, any number of writers, from right-wing Harvard political scientist Harvey Mansfield and novelist Tom Wolfe on down, are eager to warn young women of the horrors of the hookup. (Why young women should care what these septuagenerians think about their sex lives is a question not easily answered.)
This discussion gets even more interesting, but I'm not going to give it all away.
Second, it's fascinating to see the columns in time order, starting from the earliest pre-911 ones and reading through to almost the current time. We can observe the impact of the softly-creeping veiled fundamentalism on our lives much more clearly in a context like this. It's a little similar to those films which speed up the opening of a flower.
I almost feel like an infomercial here. Must add something critical. Well, for one thing, I had to pay for the book to review it, though I didn't ask for a free copy, either. And sometimes I disagree with Pollitt because I'm more middle-of-the-road in some political areas and less capable of appreciating irony in others. I also suspect that she'd kick my butt quite admirably if I ever really angered her. Which isn't really a criticism.
Did you stay up during the night, staring into the darkness, wondering, perhaps hoping or even praying that these kidnapped soldiers, these children, were already dead, past the point where they would feel anything at all? I did that. That we have come to a place where the best thing we can see is to pray for a quick death. And a place where it seemed totally wrong to write about any of this and every bit as wrong not to write about it. Where anything I could say would seem wrong, supporting the wrong political ideas, ignoring all the other horrors (Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo), just wrong. Yet somehow not to write about this horror seemed wrong, too. Everything has become politics, including the horrors from both sides. And even saying that appears to imply some sort of equality in horror. There is no such thing about horrors.
May those who have experienced horror and are still alive and those who love them and loved those who died in horrors, may all these have peace.
Louisiana has joined with South Dakota as one of those places which worries about rapists' fatherhood rights:
Louisiana Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco signed into law a ban on most abortions that would be triggered if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its 1973 ruling legalizing the procedure, a spokesman said on Saturday.
The ban would apply to all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, except when the mother's life is threatened. It is similar to a South Dakota law that has become a battleground in the abortion debate.
The law will not come to force until Roe vs. Wade is overturned.
Which is probably just a question of time, as the new injections of wingnuts into the Supreme Court are already bringing rewards to the conservatives:
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the government can block development on hundreds of millions of acres of wetlands, even on land miles away from waterways, as long as regulators prove a connection to the waterways.
Chief Justice John Roberts, in his first major environmental case, came up one vote short of dramatically limiting the scope of the landmark Clean Water Act.
At the same time, property rights advocates won a small victory with a new test, authored by moderate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, for determining what land can be regulated.
Virtually any land in America would be covered under the government's interpretation of the law, Roberts and the court's other three conservatives complained in an opinion.
The court's four liberal members said the conservatives would have opened up sensitive wetlands to polluters.
Antonin Scalia led the conservative bloc, including Roberts, Justice
Clarence Thomas and new Justice Samuel Alito.
The conservative views tend to favor the owners, the business, the conservative church, whites and men, and those will be the groups that will gain in the near future. Note how both baby Justices, Roberts and Alito, are now nicely nesting under the extreme wing?
Monday, June 19, 2006
I found a really simple test for you. Go and read majikthise's piece on Hitchens and the blowjobs and then read the comments. If you find yourself banging your head against my garage door or sighing sadly you deserve an honorary feminazi stamp.
If you wonder why Echidne is fussing over something like that you deserve a year's subscription to Mensnewsdaily.
Remember that the readers of majikthise's piece are quite likely to be liberals and progressives.
Last December Linda Hirshman wrote an interesting (and incendiary) piece in the American Prospect on educated women supposedly giving up on this thing called career and returning to a life of housewifery. Now she has come out with a book on the topic: Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World and an article in the Washington Post yesterday. In this article she says:
When I set out to write a book about how the first generation of women to grow up with feminism managed their marriages, I never dreamed I'd wind up the subject of a Web article called "Everybody Hates Linda."
Everybody started hating Linda, apparently, when I published an article in the progressive magazine the American Prospect last December, saying that women who quit their jobs to stay home with their children were making a mistake. Worse, I said that the tasks of housekeeping and child rearing were not worthy of the full time and talents of intelligent and educated human beings. They do not require a great intellect, they are not honored and they do not involve risks and the rewards that risk brings. Oh, and by the way, where were the dads when all this household labor was being distributed? Maybe the thickest glass ceiling, I wrote, is at home.
Okay, I'm judgmental. That's what CBS's Lesley Stahl called me on "60 Minutes." But I'm a philosopher, and it's a philosopher's job to tell people how they should lead their lives. We've been doing so since Socrates. And yet, even though I knew the Greeks made Socrates drink poison, the reaction to my judgment took me by surprise. It turns out that was what people really hated: the judgment. That working women have the better life.
Kapow! I had wandered, it seems, into ground zero of the Mommy Wars. Although I was aware of the stories about women quitting, I did not know what a minefield the subject was. Specifically, I did not know that you can say almost anything about how great it is for a woman to give up her job; standing up for staying at work is the big taboo.
I suspect that Linda likes to strike up some controversy, actually, because that's what happens when you tell people that their life choices are less worthy. And there is a very strong mythology on the side of her critics, the stuff about self-sacrificing women and domestic goddesses. Not to mention the fact that spending time with your own children is a lot more self-actualizing than scrubbing factory floors for a minimum wage, so her arguments, if they apply, apply only to the juicy jobs out there. The ones with power and influence and full of interesting things to do.
And most women don't "opt-out" for good, just as most women probably don't "opt-in" for good. If there are mummy wars then a woman might suddenly find her on the opposite side of the fight. But I hate mommy wars. Because they are part of the wingnuts' policy of divide et impera. As long as women fight over who is the better mommy the Bush administration can cut all the support structures (meager as they are) for women and we have no energy to fight it.
Still, Hirshman has a point in the last sentence of the quote above: " standing up for staying at work is the big taboo." I tend to agree. This decision must be based on something like a woman's children starving if she quits. Otherwise her choice to continue working is subject to any amount of moral ponderings.
Note that none of these moral ponderings apply if it's the father who goes on working when a new baby is born, or even if he turns extra ambitious for promotions at that point. It's just natural, we think, and never wonder if the child will suffer from hardly noticing that there is a father around, except in the form of expensive presents and fancy schools. Selfish? You judge. - I just did a reversal of the message educated women get every month in the United States.
There were things that the old, hairy feminists used to say which are still worth saying about the division of labor between partners, and we don't hear them very often anymore. For example, the partner who stays at home will have less retirement income and fewer good opportunities for a job later on. This means that she or he has a more difficult time leaving a bad marriage than someone who has continued working for money. This, in turn, means that the upper hand in such a marriage could go to the money-earning spouse. It doesn't have to, of course, but there's a reason why it might, and the reason is power and money.
Then there is another old point: That we lose all the skills of those women in the public sector who quit their jobs. We lose the specific education they have and their specific work experiences. We lose women in decision-making positions which they could use to make the world a fairer place for mothers.
The other side of the argument also has very good points: Children need their parents' time and most parents want to spend time with their children. Work is not necessarily more rewarding than spending time with your children. In fact, work is often pretty tedious and tiring.
But then that is sometimes true of children, too. I'm not sure how we got the idea that specializing in one thing only would make people happy, on average. Though there are exceptions to this rule, I believe that most of us need both families and meaningful work to thrive, at least over our lifetimes. It is only women that are asked to choose between these two, and only women who are expected to feel guilt and shame over their choices. And no, you can't escape the guilt and shame by remaining childless, because then the wingnuts tell you that you are causing the population to die out.
Let me return to Linda's arguments to finish this long piece. She says:
And yet, even though I knew the Greeks made Socrates drink poison, the reaction to my judgment took me by surprise. It turns out that was what people really hated: the judgment. That working women have the better life.
I wouldn't make this judgment, because I'm not sure what measures we'd use to compare lives of totally different individuals. But there is a different judgment that has been made for centuries: That it's the work in the marketplace that counts, men's work. Whoever made the money owned everything: the house, the horses, even the children. Never mind the mythology about the valuable work mothers did. Accolades and pretty paintings of angelic mothers with apple-cheeked children never paid old age pensions. Motherhood didn't even get women voting rights in the pre-women's-suffrage era. It was lauded in words and ignored in deeds.
And there is still some of that going. Indeed, a lot of that going. Think of the resources we dedicate to children as opposed to warfare, for example. Think of the prestige of childcare workers (nonexistent) and the way we react to those who suggest that mothering should be paid work (preposterous).
Most old-time feminists still worth reading pointed this all out. It is not that feminists had contempt for stay-at-home mothers, it is that the society had such a contempt where it really counted: when something needed to be done to make those women's lives easier. Indeed, it was the feminists who got Individual Retirement Accounts first extended to cover housewives.
The second wave of feminism, the one from the 1960's and 1970's, wanted to change all the problems they saw in the work-family balance, but they succeeded only partially. It is now somewhat easier for women in the labor force and in the public sector in general, but the division of labor at home and the monetary rewards for parenting are still about as bad as they were forty years ago.
Is it the case that whatever is viewed as men's work gains in prestige and whatever is viewed as women's work falls in prestige? If this is true, then the only long-term solution to getting a better work-family (or work-life) balance for all people is when more men choose to "opt-out", too, when "mothering" becomes parenting.
If this solution strikes you as too far-fetched another might be to institutionalize some rewards of mothering into the system. Take this often heard idea: There are so few women in American politics, because there are so few women in the pipelines which lead to the important jobs, and this, in turn, is caused by women having to care for their children which doesn't give them enough time to do the necessary apprenticeships. Suppose all is true (which it probably isn't). Then what a really family-oriented society would do is this: Put in another pipeline for women who have done all the mothering. Make sure that they get in. Don't just stand there and wring your hands over the facts of life. Likewise for promotions and higher education and so on. In short, stop punishing those who care for the next generation. This might make more fathers interested in the "opt-out" strategy, too.
I could add all sorts of stuff about more daycare and longer parental leaves and so on. But I'd be talking to myself, probably.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Listen to this:
It's been the kind of week that President Bush and the beleaguered White House have only dreamed about.
A spate of polls now shows a slight rise in public confidence in the war in Iraq after Bush conducted a high-powered summit at Camp David on the Iraq war, made a surprise trip to Baghdad to meet with troops and newly elected Iraqi government leaders, and then returned home to a triumphant Rose Garden news conference.
In addition, Bush's top adviser, Karl Rove, learned he would not face charges related to the 2003 leak of the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame.
This may have been the president's best week ever.
I hope that this was meant as a joke, because if it wasn't the alternative reality has truly taken over the so-called liberal media.
Speaking about Iraq, this item of news might be of some interest, given that it applies to the same "best ever week":
The Washington Post has obtained a cable, marked "sensitive," that it says show that just before President Bush left on a surprise trip last Monday to the Green Zone in Baghdad for an upbeat assessment of the situation there, "the U.S. Embassy in Iraq painted a starkly different portrait of increasing danger and hardship faced by its Iraqi employees."
This cable outlines, the Post reported Sunday, "the daily-worsening conditions for those who live outside the heavily guarded international zone: harassment, threats and the employees' constant fears that their neighbors will discover they work for the U.S. government."
It's actually far worse than that, as the details publish below indicate, which include references to abductions, threats to women's rights, and "ethnic cleansing."
Among the other troubling reports:
--"Personal safety depends on good relations with the 'neighborhood' governments, who barricade streets and ward off outsiders. The central goverhment, our staff says, is not relevant...People no longer trust most neighbors."
--One embassy employee had a brother-in-law kidnapped. Another received a death threat, and then fled the country with her family.
--Iraqi staff at the embassy, beginning in March and picking up in May, report "pervasive" harassment from Islamist and/or militia groups. Cuts in power and rising fuel prices "have diminished the quality of life." Conditions vary but even upscale neighborhoods "have visibly deteriorated" and one of them is now described as a "ghost town."
--Two of the three female Iraqis in the public affairs office reported stepped-up harassment since mid-May...."some groups are pushing women to cover even their face, a step not taken in Iran even at its most conservative." One of the women is now wearing a full abaya after receiving direct threats.
--It has also become "dangerous" for men to wear shorts in public and "they no longer allow their children to play outside in shorts." People who wear jeans in public have also come under attack.
--Fuel lines have grown so long that one staffer spent 12 horus in line on his day off.
Other than that, it's been a very good week. For Bush.
We are going to lose the Iraq war if we mention any of the reasons that makes us lose it. Got it? Maybe one more repetition would help:
"We do need to do a better job, but it takes time," said Graham, who appeared with Biden on CBS' "Face the Nation." "Zarqawi's death was a sea change. We're now making some progress. If we do shows every Sunday talking about every mistake, we're going to lose this war."
A new psychological approach to fixing problems: just pretend that they don't exist and they will go away. I also doubt that the small number of politics junkies who watch Sunday morning political shows have much to do with the Iraq uprising.
It has to be "a sermonette to women" as a woman can't preach to men, according to conservative religious guys. And women can't become bishops in the Episcopalian/Anglican church and still remain Best Friends Forever with the Catholics. This I have learned. Now you can learn it, too, from "the address Cardinal William Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, gave to the Church of England bishops' meeting June 5, on the question of ordaining women as bishops":
On the other hand, it can be academically demonstrated that the rejection of the ordination of women within the tradition was not predicated on contemporary concepts alone but in essence on theological arguments. Therefore it should not be assumed that the Catholic Church will one day revise its current position. The Catholic Church is convinced that she has no authority to do so.
Where and on What Side Does the Anglican Communion Stand?"
Put that in your pipe, all you hairy feminazis, and smoke it. How does it feel to know that you'll never be equal with us penised people? - But of course that is not at all what our dear Kasper meant. Women and men are wholly and holily equal. Just don't try to test that assertion.
You know, this stuff hurts. It hurts that in this great human family of ours it is so necessary to shit on women. To have the family thrive. This definition excludes women but what the heck. Women are used to being told to sacrifice for the greater good, and we have interesting ways of defining "greater good".
This was supposed to be a nice and superior type of a sermonette, with uplifting ideas about self-flagellation for women. But I sinned and fell into the duckpit of despair there for a moment. I will try to do better now, I swear.
One thing I could be is more modest. Modesty is becoming in women. It's an odd virtue as men don't seem to need it. The muslim extremists go on about the modesty of women a lot, and so do the American modesty folks. As far as I can gather, the idea is that if only women were really modest, never blowing their own horn, never revealing a breast or an eyebrow, depending on the culture, then men could be virtuous much more easily. It's the lack of modesty that is the real problem in this world, the lack of proper feminine modesty. I'm not at all sure why men can't be modest, but it seems that either they are so driven by animal lusts that they just can't stop for even the one second that it would take to look elsewhere from an immodest woman or that it's totally unfair to ask men to change anything in their behavior. That's what women are for.
I didn't make any of this up. There is a blog, enchantingly called Modestly, Yours, which addresses these types of topics. A bit of an odd name for a blog. I guess it's meant to be a reference to the way one might end a letter, but it's a teeny-weeny touch titillating.
The posts on that blog are all about how women should be more modest and how to get there. You can find pearls like this one:
I can't say I know much about Ann Coulter. She says some things that seem to make sense to me and the way she says other things makes me almost wish I didn't agree. But I have to ask: What is the deal with the cover of her new book? When I first saw it a few days ago I assumed that the sexy little black dress was a choice by her publishers that she didn't particularly agree with, but then I saw her on the "Today Show" with Matt Lauer and she had on what appeared to be the same outfit. While what I love about Modestyzone is that we don't go into the specifics of exactly what we and what others should wear (we leave that to the ladies at gofugyourself, right?) this is just downright confusing.
Modesty is all about clothes. It's ok to agree with Ann Coulter (who advocates genocide and suggests a baseball bat as the appropriate form of communication with us liberals), but not with her mini-dresses. It's confusing that Ann Coulter says outrageous things while being outrageously dressed? I have a long way to go before I can learn all about female modesty.
The whole modesty movement is linked to Christian fundamentalism, so it's no great surprise that a central pillar of modesty is the idea that women should withhold sex from men until the wedding night. Because nobody would buy the cow if they can get milk without owning one, and cows better carefully plan how they can get bought. Other metaphors that come to mind here are the "excitement of the hunt" which men are denied if the hunted animals suddenly hunt them instead. This worldview gives men very little credit for being adult human beings who can actually control their primal urges. But it gives women no credit for having any primal urges except a kind of sneaky urge to fish for husbands.
To be fair to the modesty folks, many of their commenters are fairly sane. That must have come as a bit of a shock to the ladies who run the blog.
I think that "modesty" is not a very different idea from "sexee". They both tell women that the way to dress is based on the demands of others. Depending on the culture, either you hide that hair or you bare that tit, and in both cases it's someone else's feelings which are hurt. Why not let women decide for themselves how to dress? Like comfortably, healthily and in a way that is fun?
Just as silence never saved anyone, neither will modesty. Look at the women in Saudi Arabia, dressed in the most modest way possible.
The link to all that modesty is from Pandagon, where Amanda shreds another post on the modesty blog. I was pretty disappointed to find nothing about Modesty Blaise there, by the way.