Saturday, September 19, 2009

Yet Another Angry Post

Huffington Post is running a series about a gender gap in happiness. Women are less happy than men, according to its male author, but he will tell how women can be happy, too! Let me guess: Probably by buying his book. Well, it certainly can't be by imitating whatever the guys are doing even though it seems to work for them, right?

Then you get thousands of comments on the post and quite a few of them suggest that one can't fight biology and that feminism is the cause for women's unhappiness (which means that the happiest women in the world would be found in Afghanistan). That one of the graphs in the post shows that young women are happier than young men is ignored in that discussion altogether.

Then think of this scenario: If Huffington Post was running a series about a reverse gender gap in happiness, with men coming out as less happy, don't you think feminism would be one of the popular explanations for that one, too? I'm pretty sure of that. Feminism usually IS the favorite culprit for everything, including silly studies of something as hard-to-define-measure-and-compare as happiness.

P.S. I could do a proper post on what's wrong with the initial post in that series, on the sources used, on the methodological difficulties one faces in research of this kind, and on the odd setup of the whole series (because we could equally ask what makes men happier if that's what we believe to be true). But mostly what makes me unhappy is crap like this and the ponderings that go along with it. Women are from Venus, Men from Mars! That they ever interbreed is your fucking imagination.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Purple trees (by Suzie)

My thanks to Anthony McCarthy, who thought I might like the art of another Maine resident, Arla Patch. He was right. I find it gorgeous and evocative.

This work, made of polymer clay, is called "Ferns and Purple Trees." Arla writes: "Once in California, I saw a huge purple tree in full bloom. I've never forgotten it."

I don't know what kind of tree she saw, but I love the jacarandas blooming in spring in Florida. As fall approaches, we can talk about spring, can't we?

Friday critter blogging (by Suzie)

This is a yellow crowned night heron sunbathing, courtesy of Peter.

I've never had any use for sunbathing, and I'm eagerly awaiting sweater weather.

Clergy sexual misconduct (by Suzie)

Y, a married member of the clergy, asked X, a young widow, to help around the church. He grew closer until the intimacy became sexual. Her love would help him do God’s work. The abuse continued for a number of years, until she finally broke free from him and left the church.

She is a feminist, one of the sharpest women I know. Once, her Christian faith mattered to her. Once, she trusted clergymen.

Y's superior investigated charges that he had had inappropriate relationships with female parishioners. He denied wrongdoing, and switched to a different denomination, taking many of his parishioners with him. Newspapers printed praise because accusers weren’t known or declined to speak.

X filed a complaint in ecclesiastical court. The process exhausted her. Y was found guilty of misconduct in his former church. He remains at his current church, and neither newspaper has written anything.

He was divorced by then. He married a parishioner who had moved to his current church from the old one, where she had defended him against accusations.

X was one of the participants in the largest national study of clergy sexual misconduct (CSM) with adults, released this month by Baylor University's School of Social Work.
The study found that 3.1 percent of adult women who attend religious services at least once a month have been the victims of clergy sexual misconduct since turning 18.
This isn’t 3.1 percent of all women, only the ones who attend services regularly. The study focused on Christians and Jews, and many members of churches and synagogues do not attend every month. The study also notes that many victims give up religion. The abusers are mostly men.

CSM, the study notes, “refers to a religious leader's sexual overture, proposition, or relationship with a congregant who was not his/her spouse or significant other.”

What if a woman throws herself at her pastor?
[I]t is the responsibility of the religious leader to maintain safe boundaries. … Because of the power the leader holds and the attachment of congregants to their leaders, the congregant has much less power to say "no" to sexual overtures, rendering the concept of "consent" virtually meaningless.

Many people - including the victims themselves - often label incidences of clergy sexual misconduct with adults as "affairs." In reality, they are an abuse of spiritual power by the religious leader.

[T]he Baylor team has been working to outline possible initiatives designed to identify and prevent CSM, and draft model legislation to make CSM illegal in the same way that relationships with patients and clients are illegal for other "helping professionals" including doctors, lawyers and mental health practitioners. At present only two states - Texas and Minnesota - have legal statutes in place to guard against CSM.
I wish liberals like Dan Savage would get that clergy, even if they are single, are not supposed to hit on congregants, even if they are adults. Perhaps you believe, as Savage does, that this is one more reason not to attend church. But the issue of people abusing power won't be solved so easily.
I’ve written about clergy sexual misconduct before.
ETA comments from X: "It's a whole separation-of-church thing," she says, explaining why lawmakers have made it illegal for mental-health counselors to have sex with patients but not spiritual counselors.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Today's Odd Statistics

I have very low commenting numbers (though absolutely stellar commenters). I can no longer remember what the percentage of blog readers might be who regularly comment, but it's fairly low. Something around 10-15%. I calculated a snapshot from this blog yesterday and came up with something around 1.7%. The calculations are iffy, natch, and the whole thing one of those where I ask if it matters or not. But I wanted to ask you if there are any who would like to comment but don't and if the reason for that is something I could fix.

The Boyz Talk

So very odd that Pat Buchanan, that icon of virtue and respectability, gives a pass on "boy talk." Watch for yerselves:

It's all minor, natch. Our Pat says much worse things about women, including how we are single-handedly (and while selfishly pursuing careers) destroying the Western Civilization. Which civilization is a glorious thing. It even includes an allowance for boy talk! But not one for uppity women.

Or girl talk, I bet. Like I wouldn't be allowed to compare Pat's nose to a bag of potatoes or to wonder what that might presage about his other body parts.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Short Book Suggestion

When you want one of those nice couple of hours with a sweet and thoughtful book read Terry Pratchett's Nation. It is intended for young adults but you can dig deep enough inside you if you don't have a real one to share it with. It's not a book of his usual Discworld and it's not quite fantasy, either. But it's one of those books which feed your honor-and-hope storage tanks.

Oh, and it's this post that is short, not the book.


Ezra write about the co-op part of the Baucus plan, the idea that every state should have a co-operative health care provider. That sounds a little bit like a public option in disguise, but it is not. It's a band-aid added to one of those many, many sores our current health care system has. Ezra:

The co-ops can only compete in the small group and individual markets. That is to say, if the co-ops prove effective, and The Washington Post would like to offer co-op coverage as an option to its workers, it can't. The co-ops are not allowed to contract with large employers, which is to say, they can't compete with private insurers in the largest market, and they can't get the purchasing power that would come from a serious foothold among corporate customers.

Note that excluding the co-ops from the large employers means that they don't get as good risk spreading as the already-existing firms which are allowed to sell to large firms, small firms and individuals. Note, also, that writing one policy for 10,000 people is a lot cheaper, per policy, than writing a separate policy for each individual policy applicant. Finally, it's likely that the average risk is higher in the individual policy market, because if you are not well enough to work that's the one market you can still go for a policy (unless you are covered by some existing government program).

For all these reasons the co-ops have several strikes against them even before they are created. It's like putting a band-aid on something that really needs draining and antibiotics.

Eve Teasing

That's what groping and pinching and verbally harassing women is called in India. Such an odd term, that "teasing". It negates the aggressive and I've-got-power-over-you aspect of the practice and suggests that it's all just harmless teasing, and if you don't go along with it you have no sense of humor or something.

You may notice from the humorless paragraph above that I have indeed been "Eve teased" myself in the past. It's unpleasant, a little bit frightening and just like an extra cost to going to places. Where's my bag, books, tickets, money? Oh, and where's my armor and the second pair of eyes I need in the back of my head? Check. Ready to go then, sigh.

This type of sexual harassment is one of those life experiences which is completely different for those of us who have memories of being a frequent target of it and for those who never practice it and never get exposed to it. Note that when you get repeatedly groped, pinched or commented on you start thinking of going out under certain circumstances as a run through the gantlet.

You start suspecting all men, for example, because that's the way you stay safe. In the subway you find a carriage with no men who look like they might cross your boundaries and exhibit their power to rank you, try to stand against the wall, not so that your butt is accessible, or try to sit next to another woman. And always, always, avoid groups of young men, because they are the very worst.

I should probably draw a distinction between the kind of sexual harassment I'm describing and men paying compliments with their eyes at a woman or otherwise politely showing distant interest, because if I don't someone will assume that I'm talking about the latter kind of behavior. Nope. I'm talking about an invisible hand pinching your butt or boob so hard that you get tears in your eyes, about someone telling aloud what they would do to you in bed if they could, about the angry reaction of construction workers when you walk past NOT reacting to their comments. You see, you don't have the right to be silent and scared. You should have smiled!

It's ultimately all about who has the power to cross whose boundaries, and who has the right to interpret the event. Was it all just a nice compliment or what? And if other women find all that a compliment, what's the matter with you? (I already hear the little screechy voices telling me to write about something important and to get that sense-of-humor changed at the store as it obviously doesn't work.)

In any case, female commuters in some parts of India are now offered all-women trains to get around the common practice of Eve-teasing:

As the morning commuter train rattled down the track, Chinu Sharma, an office worker, enjoyed the absence of men. Some of them pinch and grope women on trains, or shout insults and catcalls, she said. Her friend Vandana Rohile agreed and widened her eyes in mock imitation.

"Sometimes they just stare at you," said Ms. Rohile, 27.

Up and down the jostling train, women repeated the same theme: As millions of women have poured into the Indian work force over the last decade, they have met with different obstacles in a tradition-bound, patriarchal culture, but few are more annoying than the basic task of getting to work.

The problems of taunting and harassment, known as eve teasing, are so persistent that in recent months the government has decided to simply remove men altogether. In a pilot program, eight new commuter trains exclusively for female passengers have been introduced in India's four largest cities: New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta.

So you get "separate-but-equal" as the solution. That one never ultimately works, because of what I spoke about before: People who don't have any experience of Eve-teasing, including men who don't engage in it, see themselves as unfairly treated. Suddenly there are these trains with space and clean seats, and only women get to go in! So unfair:

"Even on this train," Ms. Gahlot continued, "men sometimes board and try to harass the women. Sometimes they openly say, 'Please close the Ladies Special.'

"Maybe they think the government is helping out women and not men," she added.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Rich Have It Hard, Too!

So goes this article about the recession and the very wealthy:

Observers say it is part of a far broader campaign in the wake of the Great Recession -- including curbs on bankers' pay and a rigorous global hunt for tax cheats from Switzerland to Singapore -- that is suddenly putting the world's wealthy on notice.

In the United States, taxes on the richest Americans are one option for covering the cost of offering health care to the 46 million who are uninsured. The Obama administration has vowed to press forward with its ambitious agenda without raising income taxes on families earning less than $250,000. But the president's current budget calls for a rollback of the Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans that would increase their top marginal tax rate in 2011 from 35 percent to 39.6 percent, or the same as in the Clinton era.

In India, the government has launched an effort to track down billions of dollars in "black money" -- or hidden profits of the rich. In Germany, Parliament in July passed a law requiring the affluent to provide more information on the locations of their assets. Since the economic crisis began, there have been fresh tax increases for high-earners in the Netherlands, France, Ireland, Italy, Belgium and several other countries.

Analysts say the action marks the first time since before the Reagan-Thatcher era of the 1980s -- when trickle-down economics led to decades of lower tax rates on the wealthy -- that the world's moneyed have faced this level of pressure from such a wide array of governments. It happens as cash-strapped governments -- even as the global economy begins to recover -- are scrambling for scarce sources of revenue to fund expensive stimulus packages, combat the recession and expand services to the less fortunate.

There has been "an absolutely direct correlation between taxes and the financial crisis," said Jon Terry, head of reward practices at Pricewaterhouse Coopers in London. "If there was no financial crisis, I would have been surprised if taxes would have increased at all for high-earners."

Given the gap between the rich and poor that widened globally during the excess of recent years, many see the wealthy as the fairest, most likely source for funds in hard times. In the case of tax cheats, the campaign to root them out, many argue, is long overdue.

But for some, it is beginning to feel like governments are piling on when it comes to the rich -- who, through lost real estate and stock values, have already shed untold billions.

I bolded that last paragraph for you because it is an example of two kinds of false equality: of the journalistic type where you put 'some say' into one argument and 'others say' in the next argument, and of the real type where the hardships of the rich are somehow equated with the hardships of everyone else. Or even with the hardships of the poor.

Both of those are false equalities. The journalistic one ignores the possibility that there might be actual facts over and above the statements of the two sides and that one side might in fact be correct (such as in 'some say the earth is round, others argue it is a pancake with maple syrup'). The real one ignores what it is we compare when talk about the rich and the poor as groups, and that is the fact that the rich have lots more wealth. If they don't have it, they are then called the poor, too.

My guess is that at least some of these pity-the-rich articles think of the wealthy as a group which should have the same rights and duties as any other group, say, the poor or the middle class, and that it's unfair we demand more from one group than the other groups. Note that this is NOT about the rights and duties of the rich as individual human beings which are obviously set to be equal with those of all other individual human beings. It is about the rights and duties of the wealth the rich hold, ultimately:

Thus, the mountain of money a rich family has is deemed equal in rights to the few dollars a poor family has, and each of those wealth-units should pay equally towards taxes and government fees. This is what ultimately lies behind the flat tax thinking, especially in its extreme form where the recommendation is for a flat absolute-dollar-figure tax, a poll tax. Such taxes would have to be sized to be feasible for the poorest (in order to be the same for all) and the puny tax receipts they could provide for the governments would collapse the society altogether.

Even less extreme examples of demanding wealth-blind fairness in taxes lead to similar problems. Which is to point out that a mountain of money really is not equal to a small pile of pennies and shouldn't be treated the same.

Neither are the troubles of the ueber-rich the same as the troubles of the very poor or even the middle class earners. This is because to live at all requires a certain basic lumpy (that's a technical term) expenditure of money, and one can't really go below that sum and still survive. Just think of the question whether you could still live (in terms of basic survival) if your current income was cut to one half then one quarter and so on.

Similar considerations apply to money saved and invested for retirement. If that sum was just enough two years ago, it probably isn't enough today and retirement must be deferred. But someone who loses eight billion out of a sixteen-billion investment can still retire, you know, and quite comfortably.

So no, all piles of money are not created equal. The size of those piles does matter, because of that initial fairly fixed amount we all need to survive. And struggling for survival is not the same as struggling to adjust to a few more billions less.

This Is Funny

Billionaires for Wealthcare are the new incarnation of Billionaires for Bush. I saw the group perform (at my expense, even) last summer. Sniff. They told I wasn't dressed well-enough to be one of them.

And What About The Alcoholic Daddies?

This article is typical of a whole genre of something which actually affects men at least as much as it affects women or more, but which is written to go all oh-my-god-mummies-are-bad. I have seen similar reporting on traffic accidents and women as well as general drinking and women. It's important to note that we don't get articles titled:

The secret lives of male alcoholics

Instead, we get either general articles about all alcoholics or specific articles about female alcoholics.

I must admit that this example of that genre seems to self-doubt itself from almost the beginning:

The numbers are troubling: An estimated 17.6 million adults in the USA are either alcoholics or have alcohol problems, according to the National Institutes of Health. By some estimates, one-third of alcoholics are women.

There you have it: By some estimates, one-third of alcoholics are women. What does that tell us about the other two-thirds?

Oh! I get it from the next quote: ONLY women hide their alcoholism and we know this because we get examples:

Yet if you were to ask a woman's friends and family if she has a drinking problem, they might very well say no.

When Paula Tokar, 26, told her friends she was getting sober and wouldn't be partying with them anymore, "They said, 'You seemed fine to us,' " says Tokar, now two years sober and living in Marshfield, Mass. That's because she'd worked hard not to hide her alcohol abuse. "I was doing the things many women do, hiding drinks around the house, hiding vodka behind the frozen veggie burgers."

This is such a crappy approach to a serious question. Men who are alcoholics also hide bottles, you know.

So why would these women (about one-third of all alcoholics) deserve extra attention, over and above the general attention alcoholics get from health topics writers?

I bet you can guess the answer: It has to do with mothers and their children, though once again, the article itself appears to doubt this odd argument:

Good mothers don't drink, and everyone says Schuler was a good mom, so she couldn't possibly have been an alcoholic. That's how the thinking goes, says Eleanor Schoenberger, 40. "Especially when it comes to mothers, there's such a strong inclination to believe 'she just wouldn't do anything like that,' " says Schoenberger, of Hanover, Mass. She writes a blog about being a mom in recovery and making jewelry at One Crafty Mother.

Schoenberger wonders if the national conversation would be the same if Schuler's husband, Daniel, had been behind the wheel when the accident happened. "The question would be, 'Where was the mother?' " she says. "A father who drinks is just as responsible for the welfare of his children, but the stigma isn't there."

Schwarzer, whose friend went into treatment and no longer drinks, says she won't be afraid of speaking up again. "Is politeness worth some kid's life? You convince yourself that it's just not that bad, but when a child's life is at stake, none of us should ever be that polite."

But do good fathers drink? ARE there any alcoholic fathers, living in the same household as their children and possibly driving them to places while inebriated? From the framework used here that doesn't seem possible! Either all men who have a drinking problem are single men who NEVER hit anyone else's child while driving drunk or childen are totally and completely the responsibility of women, not of men. And that means men's alcoholism isn't as worrying as the alcoholism in women.

I hasten to add that alcoholism is a serious problem and affects not only the sufferers but others around them. But to essentially argue that we should worry about women's alcoholism ONLY when those women are the mothers of small children gives women the same value as any other instrument people daily use. Why not worry about female alcoholism because we care about those women and the quality of their lives?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy Hour

I'm borrowing that title from Eschaton, where it refers to the traditional cocktail hour. Here it's a snake tail hour. Or rather, a good opportunity to wonder about how very hard mathematics can be! The tea parties of the anti-Obama folks were ginormous! Ginormous, I tell you.

They also lasted over five years!

Guarding Our Hearts And Wallets

Atrios makes a good point today:

Just adding on to Glenn's post, much opposition to the government actually doing anything decent for people comes from the idea that the government is going to take my tax money and give it to people who don't deserve it.

He goes on to note that carefully limiting benefits programs to certain "deserving" groups actually reinforces this view, while programs which benefit everyone are quite popular.

Atrios' point also explains why the people who fear the government are not as distrustful of big business. They think: "Sure, the firms are all crooks, but they steal other people's money, because I am smart and won't fall for their lies!" So it's a form of perceived self-defense to fight against the public option in health care. That is seen as benefiting The Other: the undeserving poor, minorities or uppity women or illegal immigrants. Or Someone Else! Not the person opposing the public option, even if she or he has no health insurance right now.

Yet Medicare, for instance, is extremely popular.

All this bears some thinking, because that atomization of the American society is not a pure accident. Keeping people in a state where they distrust all Others benefits some in power. Divide et impera.

The foundations for all this are much deeper, naturally. They come from the American history, the fast pace of immigration and the vast size of the country as well as the widely varying basic values.

And Good News Monday Post!

I bet you didn't think I could write one of them, eh? Well, see how wrong you were:

A new White House Council on Women and Girls is assessing every government agency to see if its programs do enough to benefit women. The first senior adviser on domestic violence and the first ambassador for women's issues around the globe are developing programs to prevent violence again women at home and abroad. First lady Michelle Obama is highlighting women's achievements, helping families and pushing girls to succeed.

OK. It's not perfect, because we didn't get government-funded obligatory once-a-week abortions and shit. At least according to the Concerned Women of America:

Conservative women are unimpressed.

"Obama's policies reflect the views of hard-core abortion and feminist groups," says Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America. "Considering the diversity of views among American women, it is insulting to assume that there is one 'women's view' and it is represented by liberal feminist activists. … Obama's choices reflect a stereotypical view of women who are abortion advocates who are dependent on government."

Check dependency:

Yup, I'm dependent on the government for running this blog, right?

Check hard-coredness:


More seriously, the Concerned Women and Christian Ladies Against Feminism and all other such anti-feminist groups are free to do their own thing in this new Feminazi country of ours. Honest. It's hard to believe, I know, but it's the truth. Because feminists do know that women (just as people in general, including men) have more than one view of their proper places in this world. However, if you think a little you will realize that the ideal country the Concerned Women and their ilk desire would not be equally tolerant of other views. So there.

I'd like that committee to focus specifically on whether the needs of poor women and girls are adequately met. Many of the relevant departments were left in a fairly bad state after eight years of Bush, and much of the wreckage was intentionally aimed at women and girls. Or so I think.

Today's Angry Post: Cowardice

I'm fed up with the presumed view that feminists a) are suitable scapegoats for everything that has not yet been fixed in women's lives, b) provide fun caricatures for everyone to sneer at (armpit-hair plaited all the way down to their hairy calves) and yet c) are to clean out this society of all misogyny and contempt towards women, stat! (Like it should have happened yesterday and if it didn't, well, feminism obviously failed.)

Now that's some job description, isn't it? That a small handful of people are responsible for the overall well-being of all world's women. Yet feminists are your proverbial cleaning-women: Invisible until something bad has been spilled.

Hey girl! Come over here! What's that female blood doing in Aisle Four? Get your broom and start sweeping! And no, you don't get a paycheck for it. But we WILL blame you for the fact that the blood was there in the first place and that it wasn't already swept up. We will also blame you for the downfall of Western Civilization and the colonization of other civilizations! And no, you still don't get paid for it.

Which makes me wonder how the feminists of earlier generations were able to do so much damage, what with being those rictus-smiled caricatures with no power and no respect, really. They probably wove nets out of their armpit hair and caught those civilizations in the nets. Yeah, that must be the explanation.

But of course feminists are also totally in the wrong! They are fighting a losing fight against pseudo-science aiming to prove women's biological inferiority and against fundamentalist religions aiming to strip women of almost all agency. Poor misguided creatures.

Except, of course, when we are talking about that other kind of feminism: The kind which finds fulfillment and independence in the very acts of relinquishing them. So those feminists fight very hard for the women's right not to have rights. Or the third kind of feminism which is all about social justice for all. And it's easy-peasy to accomplish that goal without short-changing women. At all.

Mmm. I got carried away there. Just a little.

I was recently in a group of people where one person said something very nasty about women, and the women present all seemed to expect that I'd run in with my broom and my bucket. What with me being the feminist, yanno. It was, like, my job, right? So I decided not to say anything. And neither did anybody else. So it goes. Was that your freedom skipping by, ladies?

I smell cowardice.

I'm a coward, one of the biggest ever. My heart is in my throat every time I respond to sexist arguments, my palms sweat and I feverishly run over various martial arts moves in my head, just to be prepared for anything. But mostly I respond anyway, even with shaking knees and difficulty of breathing. Because the long-term alternative is worse, not only for me but for other women, too. Besides, I get another knot in my liver from every insult I have to swallow.

Which means that I cannot accept silence. Silence never kept anyone safe, as someone much smarter once said. Silence is interpreted as acquiescence.

But perhaps that's fine for many women and men? It could be. It could be that the Concerned Women of America have their be-ringed fingers firmly on the pulse of this era. (Though they are loud enough in their demands for no rights that their god didn't explicitly write down two thousand years ago. -- What makes them unafraid of being noisy? Could it just be that they are only fighting feminism, not the people who actually ARE scary?) Or it could be that second-class tickets are perfectly AOK for women on this train through life, that voices and clamor needs to be spent on more urgent needs.

I don't know. It just seems so ass-backwards to argue that something called feminists are wholly and totally responsible for the rights of the majority of people on this planet. As if liberation could be custom-ordered from some firm of cleaning ladies.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Domestic Violence: A Pre-existing Condition (by Liz)

For our recent 20 year college reunion, some old friends of mine planned a girl's night, a sleepover at a friend's home the night before the official festivities , so we could all have the chance to connect and catch up with each other in a small group. Most of the women who were invited keep in touch and are involved in each other's lives. I, however, hadn't spoken with many of them, outside of Facebook, in years.

Prior to the event, one of the friends called me. She wanted me to know, before our gathering, that another friend was going through a divorce and that this woman had been abused by her husband this woman's husband had abused her. The friend on the phone told me how shocked she had been when she first heard and how, out of all of our friends, she never expected NAMEWITHHELD to let this happen.

I was shocked to hear about NAMEWITHHELD and I was shocked by what my friend on the phone said. "She let this happen to her." I suppose none of it should have shocked me. After all, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states that 1 out of every 4 women will experience domestic violence. And, was my friend's comment really that uncommon? Sadly, no.

It is so common to place the blame on victims. Even I, someone with some knowledge of abuse, have to monitor my language in order to place responsibility on the appropriate person. (Note my edit above.) In my friend's case, her husband was in jail for hitting her. He hit her. He abused her. He was arrested. He took the action.

But it will be my friend, not her soon to be ex-husband, who could be denied health insurance in nine states on the basis that domestic violence is a pre-existing condition. That's right. This from "It is still legal in nine states for insurers to reject applicants who are survivors of domestic violence, citing the history of domestic violence as a pre-existing condition."

Surely, the insurance industry is looking at data like this from the American Institute on Domestic Violence:

• The health-related costs of rape, physical assault, stalking, and homicide by intimate partners exceed $5.8 billion each year.
• Approximately $4.1 billion is for victims requiring direct medical and mental health care services.

That's a whole lot of money.

But they are also most surely looking at data like this (also from the American Institute on Domestic Violence) that tells them this is a "woman's problem":

• 85-95 percent of all domestic violence victims are female.
• Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women.

And that, pure and simple, is a whole lot of misogyny.


I bought a fantasy book to read while traveling on the train. It's supposed to be all about elves and suchlike. But what do I read on page nine? This*

He kissed me again, conveying that need as his hands ravaged my body. My own hands slid along the smooth perfection of his bare skin, awakening my desire....

This is a half-elf woman making love with a guy who turns into a fox once in a while, and it gets lots more explicit. I know because I had to check all along the book to frown at those types of pages. Heh.

More seriously, this trend of combining sexual descriptions with fantasy was probably started by those vampire books I wrote about some time ago. It's a little weird, like buying a package with all your fast food needs satisfied: Elves? Sure, we've got them. Hawt sex? But of course!

I'm trying to rewrite the Lord of The Rings to go with the idea. Most sex in that book would have to be between guys, given the dearth of women in Tolkien's worlds.
The book is Thorn Queen by Richelle Mead.