Friday, September 30, 2011

Today's Dose of Misogyny: The Conservative Take On Elizabeth Warren's Message.

Remember Elizabeth Warren? She is running for Senate in Massachusetts, and in one of her earliest meetings with voters she said the following:
There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody,” Warren said. “You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You built a factory, and it turned into something terrific or a great idea: God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

The viral video:

That bothered some conservatives, including Rush Limbaugh. A lot. Glenn Reynolds linked to one response to Warren with obvious approval:
BEST ELIZABETH WARREN PARODY/RESPONSE YET: This was posted by Ashtad Bin Sayyif, but I’m not sure if he’s the original author or just reposting. Anyway, it goes to the core problem. Are you the state’s property, or not?
Here's the bit about being the state's property or not. Click on it to make it bigger if needed:

The way we are to understand this joke is that taxes are like rape or forced prostitution. Or so I was told. So let's take that interpretation seriously.

Are taxes like rape or forced prostitution? Don't you get anything back for your taxes? Like roads, national defense, law enforcement, fire protection?

Aren't we supposed to pay when we buy something?

But sure, taxes do have that obligatory nature. You have to pay them even if you would prefer a world without roads or street lights (or foreign wars paid by you) if the majority decision in your community is to have those services provided by the government.

The obligatory nature is because of that free rider problem: Once the roads and the street lights are there it's really really hard to keep those who did not pay for them from using them. That, in turn, gives people an incentive not to pay if such payments are voluntary, given that they can use the services for free!

But because the same logic would apply to everyone, voluntary taxes would mean that fewer roads would be built and most of them would be dark. So it goes.

None of that has anything to do with my first reaction to the parody piece. To see that reaction, juxtapose these sentences from Warren's original message and the parody piece:

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.

The parody:
There is no woman in this country who got hot on her own. You have a really nice ass and a great boob job? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You got to the gym on the roads the rest of us paid for.

Warren's choice of the pronoun "his" makes this comparison even easier to see as indicating that an inherent aspect of men is their financial property, and that an inherent aspect of women is their sexuality.

Sexuality is compared to a factory. It is something women work to create by having boob jobs and a nice ass which they presumably could peddle for money.

If men are expected to part with their very own money, women should part with their very own sexual capital! Women are in the business of sex, just as factory owners are in some industrial business.

And no, that is not my final reading of the two pieces. The view of women as being sexual entrepreneurs who should be free to do with their sexuality as they wish is not contrasted to men as somehow embodying their financial capital but to all tax payers, including female ones. Nevertheless, my reading goes very well with what I have learned from the mindset of some conservative men who truly think that it's all about money when judging men as individuals and all about sex when judging women as individuals.

The parody is full of misogyny, in any case. It continues by suggesting that American women can keep foreign boobs and asses out of this country by using government-funded services. That helps with the markets for sex and suggests that just by being female all women are sex entrepreneurs. This piece of the parody smells a lot like the misogynist sites which are all about the need to get obedient traditional wives from abroad because American wives no longer obey or cook or clean or spread their legs on demand.

So there it is: The treatment of sexuality (but only for women) as sex capital and the treatment of all women as sex workers. Even if that interpretation was the correct one, it would only result in the argument that sex workers, too, should pay their taxes, just like everyone else.

But the parody does not take that approach. A better parable for what it does is to suggest that anyone who gets life-saving treatment on, say, Medicare, should then be required to donate a spare kidney as a payment for that treatment. Or a spare eye or something.

That example shows more clearly what is wrong with the original parody when applied to financial payments such as taxes. Money is not embodied in us. Requiring that people pay for the collective services is not the same as slavery or rape or forced prostitution.

And whoever wrote that parody is a misogynist.

The golden lining: The more this parody spreads, the worse conservatives will look.
Link to all this by Thers on Eschaton.