Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Deep Thought For The Day

I was going to write that very long rant about how horrible it is to blog-while-a-feminist, what with the nasties out there and the circular firing squads inside the movement and the incredible (nonexistent) financial rewards.

But that wouldn't interest you and I love the expression on the faces of those horses. And the kiss. No, I have no idea if the horses are anything more than friends. But kindness seems to come easier for other mammals.

From The Wingnut Legislators Files

Have you ever wondered what wingnut legislators might really think about us wimminfolk? You know, in general?

Duh. But I'm still going to post a few things I collected in the last week or so.

Here's something from the great state of Wisconsin:
A thoughtful, sensitive male Wisconsin legislator has proclaimed that he is against divorce under all circumstances — even spousal abuse. And he's got a message to all those ladies out there getting the shit beaten out of them by their husbands: remember the good times, back before things took an abusive turn, and maybe you'll fall in love again. There, isn't that better? Now, chin up, and go back out into that awful marriage of yours like a champ.
The obtuse anti divorce champion is Republican Don Pridemore. And this isn't the first time the Heartless Cheesehead has acted in a manner most unbecoming.
This is an absolute pearl thrown before us swine, from the great state of Georgia:

Rep. Terry England compares women to cows, pigs and chickens. from Bryan Long on Vimeo.

The Republican lawmaker Terry England used those informative animal comparisons when advocating that dead fetuses should be carried to term:
England was speaking on the floor of the Georgia legislature in favor of HB 954, a bill which makes it illegal to obtain an abortion after 20 weeks, which is fine for him to take that stance and many people would even agree with that. However, he was pushing for that law to also apply to women who are carrying a stillborn fetus or one that is likely to die before it reaches term, making it illegal for women to have the dead fetus removed until their bodies do so naturally.
In comparison the Pennsylvania governor's advice to abortion seekers who don't want additional ultrasounds for no medical reasons (Just Close Your Eyes) is really the height of courtesy.

Did The Democrats Go Too Far? Gender Wars Concern Trolling.

J. Bryan Lowder asks at Slate: Are Democrats in Danger of Looking Too Political on the Violence Against Women Act?

What do you think? A snippet:
At the end of the Times piece, Senator Roy Blunt suggests that the new champions of women may be “in serious danger of overplaying their hand,” and I actually think he has a point. While I certainly praise the support that Democrats have displayed for women’s issues in this election cycle, I’m starting to be turned off by the giddiness with which they’ve taken on the mantle of lady defender. I admit that the issue of political tone is small potatoes compared to the very important programs and services at stake in these debates, but I’m still a little uncomfortable with the unequivocal friend-or-foe rhetoric that has come to dominate this conversation.
Digby's comment:
That's right, it's a tough election fight and the last thing Democrats need is to look like all they care about is a bunch of whiny bitches. Let's not lose our heads here.
I could put on my doctoral hat and write on the underlying issues in a semi-erudite way. For instance, it's certainly true that the Democrats are making noise about the war on women mostly because it's election year. Many of them are Johnny-come-latelies (or whatever the term is) and that shows. And there are all sorts of ways the Violence Against Women Act could have been explained better in general.

But that's not the deepest of the underlying issues here. That one, my dear readers, is the fact that women are still The Others, and spending too much time on trivial concerns of The Others gets you excluded from the Big Boyz' Treehouse.

That's what creates the unpleasant frisson of discomfort in Mr. Lowder, I think. Picking something unimportant and then spending so much time on it! This MUST backfire! And what about civility and bipartisanship and respecting the opposition's point of view?

See how well I can do that stuff? What makes courtesy and civility and such a bit harder is that the opposition's point of view is that women belong in the kitchen and the baby-making factories, so we must give equal space for those views, too.

Could being the "lady defender" backfire on the Democrats? Perhaps, given that the future is unknown and politics is complicated, and given that people like Mr. Lowder describe what is going on as "lady defending." Something deep in the reptile brain is causing the choice of those words.

Friday, March 16, 2012


These responses to a few of the forced birther governors.

I don't think the forced birthers realize how very fed up many women are over this continual focus on women-as-ignorant-sluts.

Mother Russia Finally Waking Up?

In terms of patriarchy. This article on the band Pussy Riot offers some faint hope:
One day in October, three women in fluorescent masks and minidresses mounted a scaffold in a Moscow metro station, grabbed guitars and amplifiers, and began to play their first hit, “Loosen the paving stones!”
“Egyptian air is good for the lungs! Let’s make Tahrir in the middle of Red Square,” they sang, punching the air in unison, as alternately bemused and shocked commuters watched and filmed them with their mobile phones.
Five months later, these lyrics seem clairvoyant, after Moscow was convulsed by street demonstrations following flawed parliamentary elections in December. The all-female punk group, known as Pussy Riot, has become a household name in Russia, embodying a brazen push for female emancipation in the country’s stiflingly macho, conservative society. To their critics, they are simply publicity-seeking blasphemers.
The group declined to be interviewed in person, fearing for their safety but agreed to chat with the Financial Times over Skype. A band member who gave her name only as Shayba described them as adherents of “third wave feminism” and the Riot Grrrl movement of underground feminist punk rockers in the US. Their lyrics target in equal measure Vladimir Putin, authoritarian government, sexism and rape.


Shayba said Russia’s president-elect had become a symbol of all that was wrong with the country. “[Putin] has repeatedly made sexist statements that the main task of women is child bearing and being in a passive position relative to men,” she said.

They are brave women, given what the Russian state can do to them. And yes, Russia is a stiflingly macho and conservative society. Of course the list of such societies on this earth is a very long one. Much feminist work remains to be done.

How's The War On Women Doing? Some Reading for Friday

This story about "the right not to know" and the Texas version of the war on women. Be forewarned as it is sad.

This story about the advice the governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett (R) gives to women who don't want to go through all those extra woman-shaming steps when seeking an abortion: Just Close Your Eyes.

E.J. Graff debating inside herself on the meaning of the new contraceptives battle in the war on women.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Musical Interlude

This is wonderful. Big Mama Thornton: Everything Gonna Be Alright.

Plural Marriages And Other Sleights of Hand

The treatment of polygamy in the popular media is weird. Big Love and all that. I have also seen people confuse polyamory with polygamy. They are mostly not the same because the latter assigns almost all power to the one single man in the relationship and because women in traditional polygamy are not allowed to have more than one partner.

Well, they don't even have one partner. They have a fractional share of one partner. Which brings me to the point made in the title of this post: We call the marriages of people like Warren Jeffs (and the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter-Day Saints he led) "plural marriages."

They are that only from the married man's point of view. From the married women's point of view they are fractional marriages. That they are not called that is pretty informative. It tells us whose point of view is applied here.

But it's not really a general men's point of view because one outcome of fractional marriages is the Lost Boys. If only a few men are to get all the women, then one must somehow get rid of the surplus boys. This means that many men in such sects would end up unmarried for life if there was no outside world for them to settle in.

So what do we get here? Plural marriages? Fractional marriages? Boys tossed onto the garbage heap? And which approach seems the favored one in the popular media?
This is the article which caused these musings.

Guess Who Got Most of The Bananas?

The US is still marching towards a feudal economy or a Banana Republic. Even the bananas themselves are shared very unequally:
National income gained overall in 2010, but all of the gains were among the top 10 percent. Even within those 15.6 million households, the gains were extraordinarily concentrated among the super-rich, the top one percent of the top one percent.

Just 15,600 super-rich households pocketed an astonishing 37 percent of the entire national gain.
My bolds,

OK. That wasn't bananas. It was money.

This society is becoming increasingly unequal. That bodes increasing instability in the future which is bad news even for those who wouldn't otherwise mind living in the enclosed and guarded communities for the handful of the super-rich.

And at least some of this development is by design. The attacks against Social Security, against Medicaid, against public schools all contribute towards the feudalization of the USA. The demands for minimal taxing of corporate profits and minimal taxing of unearned income similarly contribute towards a future Banana Republic and globalization mostly benefits the multinational firms which can easily shift their production to areas where worker protections are nil and wages just cover the day's nutritional requirements.

Taxes pay for civilization, as someone smart once said. And they do. Civilization is a public good, meaning that it benefits us all by making it safe to go outside and by offering interesting reasons to go outside. But reverse that and you might notice that destroying the civilization is a public bad. Life in a feudal society is not fun. Not even for the rich.

Today's Action Alert: Bei Bei Shuai

First read Katha Pollitt's column on Bei Bei Shuai if you are not familiar with her case. Then act. You can use Twitter and Facebook as Katha points out at the end of her column and you can sign this petition.

From Katha's piece:

“These laws say there’s one law for pregnant women and another for everyone else,” says Linda Pence, the energetic Indiana lawyer representing Shuai. “For everyone else suicide is a mental health issue. For a pregnant woman, it’s a crime. That’s a violation of women’s constitutional right to equal treatment under the law.” If Shuai is convicted, Pence notes a further paradox: “If you’re two months pregnant and try to commit suicide, you can be charged with feticide, even though you could have a legal abortion.” Although maybe not for long.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Today's Weird News From The War on Contraception

This proposal (via Jezebel) will not pass but it's still worth scrutiny:
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-2 Monday to endorse a controversial bill that would allow Arizona employers the right to deny health insurance coverage for contraceptives based on religious objections.
Arizona House Bill 2625, authored by Majority Whip Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale, would permit employers to ask their employees for proof of medical prescription if they seek contraceptives for non-reproductive purposes, such as hormone control or acne treatment.
“I believe we live in America. We don’t live in the  Soviet Union,” Lesko said. “So, government should not be telling the organizations or mom and pop employers to do something against their moral beliefs.”
Lesko said this bill responds to a contraceptive mandate in the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law March 2010.
“My whole legislation is about our First Amendment rights and freedom of religion,” Lesko said. “All my bill does is that an employer can opt out of the mandate if they have any religious objections.”

Two immediate thoughts came to my mind. First, this is the kind of mess we get when health insurance is provided through our bosses. A really bad system, on many, many levels. Second, what about Viagra? Will employers want to see proof that Viagra is not prescribed just so that someone can have more sexytime? What if it is prescribed to unmarried men? That goes against lots of religious rules.

My third thought was this: Could something like this be limited to only contraception? That is unlikely, which means that any employer could scrutinize any employees' medical histories to determine if some treatment might go against the employer's private moral beliefs.

That sounds pretty totalitarian to me. It would also offer a wonderful profit-enhancing opportunity to all firms who are willing to convert to Christian Scientists!

My fourth thought was that this whole debacle tells us much about the freedom and rights of firms but pretty much nothing about the freedom or rights of workers. Which is, of course, business as usual.

Echidne Volunteers for Kevin Drum

Kevin is looking for people willing to criticize science:
In any case, think of it as after-the-fact peer review with an attitude. The winning candidate for this position will have a pretty good mathematical background, a sneering contempt for sloppiness, an obsessive attention to detail, a willingness to read mounds of tedious crap, and probably a fairly severe case of insomnia. You'd also need to be really fast, since debunking bullshit a month after every news outlet in the country has hyped it does no one any good. It needs to be debunked the day it hits the streets. (Or praised, of course. We're looking for rigor here, folks.)
He also points out that this endeavor does not pay!

Well, I have been doing quite a bit of that type of work over the centuries on this here blog, mostly on gender studies and evolutionary psychology but also on some types of medical studies.

And that gives me the experience to suggest that money for the work might not be a bad idea. But there are, indeed, proper blogs (not mine which is an improper blog) focused on criticizing research. The problem is with the mainstream summaries of research, based on whatever would cause the most fervor and clicks. That's where we need a more careful eye and a tightly pressed set of angry lips and so on.

Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner On MSNBC

Nina Turner introduced a Viagra bill in Ohio. She is interviewed here. Well worth watching.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

‪Cutting Off the Nose To Spite The Face‬

That saying seems to have an interesting history. But it applies well to this decision:
Following opinions on public funding of contraceptives, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to turn down a state family planning grant that would cover contraceptive supplies along with other medical services related to family planning.
Commissioner Rick Catlin, who represents the commissioners on the county’s health board, said he also voted against accepting the funds when the item was on the health board’s agenda.
He said he was concerned with answers to questions he asked about the funds.
“The answers that I got were that there were patients that were not being responsible with existing family planning that was being offered and that this would provide a more reliable solution for those people,” Catlin said at Monday afternoon’s commissioners meeting.
He added that he had an issue with “using taxpayer dollars to fund someone’s irresponsibility.”

Mm. Let's set aside the question whether these patients really are irresponsible about family planning. Let's assume that they are. Will this moral decision by the board of commissioners really keep taxpayer dollars from funding the outcomes of any further irresponsibility? Will it stop all irresponsible behavior?

This is cutting off your nose to spite your face. Without contraception the outcome will be children. And if the parents of those children truly are irresponsible then the children will have to be supported by taxpayer dollars.

Tighten Your Belts, Please. Austerity Bumps In The Next Few Years.

Atrios links to this story about the economic tragedy that is today's Greece:
It has been a common secret among PE teachers for some time now that they don't expect pupils to do PE any more, because many of them are underfed and get dizzy.

They need to be discreet, as these underprivileged children don't wish to be exposed to their peers. In my previous school, the teachers arranged among themselves to give the school canteen some money, so that the canteen could give the child a snack, without embarrassing the child.

However, this was not enough. In many schools today, it is the parents' associations who come together, gather food and discreetly arrange to allocate it to those families of the school who are suffering. In co-operation with the teachers, they know which children in the school are hungry and in need of help. Again, they try to do it as discreetly as possible.

"Many families, suddenly left without work, are in shock and there is nowhere to turn. Social services are collapsing. They are not professional beggars. They are ordinary people like you and me, suddenly left with nothing. I know one area, where schools have specialised in what they gather: 1st primary school gather rice and legumes, 2nd vegetables, 3rd meat and chicken etc.

The nasty aspect of "shared austerity" is that it is never shared equally and whatever sacrifices the wealthy have to make do not amount to hunger.

But even if the sacrifices were shared equally their impact would be catastrophic on those who earlier were just hanging on to some kind of a life by a finger nail or two. It is the frailest among us who suffer the most under these austerity fits, unless the policies are very, very carefully crafted to avoid that very outcome.

When state governments in the United States gut their budgets, the kinds of things to go are the kinds of things which affect the weakest among us. The developmentally handicapped, the mentally ill, the families with multiple health problems, the frail elderly and the poorest children. These are groups who cannot fight back very efficiently and who do not have large enough of a voting bloc to defend them.

In exchange for all this, those state governments offer lower taxes to the firms and tax breaks to the so-called job creators.

This is morally distasteful, given that these groups of the neediest among us never caused the economic recession in Greece or elsewhere. But it is also bad economic policy, in particular when combined with stripping the schools and civil service of jobs that pay enough to live on. Who will be left to buy all those goods and services? Why would the so-called "job creators" create jobs if there are no viable markets for the final products?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Why I Love Blogging. Or On Socks.

Because I can write about socks and someone (err, me) publishes it! And right now I want to write about socks.

Is there anything more endearing than a pair of used socks, tossed on the floor or the armchair? They still retain the shapes of the feet which wore them but they also sag, as if really tired after all that hoofing around. They look lost and tired and tiny, even when they are Big Socks:

And then there are all those widowed socks whose partners got eaten up by the Monster that hunts in the washing machine. So much drama and loneliness. I almost can't take it.

I have a pair of socks which have knitted in them this message "reading is always worthwhile." Elitist snobby socks!

They encompass the whole universe, socks do.

The Scariest Side of Forced Birthers

There are more than one candidate for that label. But right now these stories might win the competition:
Rennie Gibbs is accused of murder, but the crime she is alleged to have committed does not sound like an ordinary killing. Yet she faces life in prison in Mississippi over the death of her unborn child.
Gibbs became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby's death – they charged her with the "depraved-heart murder" of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.
Tut, tut. An unclean aquarium!

The linked article gives a fairly good summary of several similar cases. They all treat pregnant women with substance abuse problems or with mental problems as cold-hearted criminals who go as far as trying to commit suicide just so they can kill the fetus!

Imagine the world forced birthers want. Every problem in a pregnancy or childbirth could be fodder for an investigation into the behavior of the woman. What would the most likely response of any potentially at-risk woman be to that kind of policing?

Not to contact the health care system at all, I'd think. This is not a good outcome.

Today's Rush News

On the nasty kind of rush. Media Matters has put together Limbaugh's use of the term "feminazi" over the eons.

I have reclaimed that term, natch, and often use it here to describe myself. Imagine me wearing the triple-horned helmet and steel-toed boots, marching in goose-step with myself, making all misogynists dream nightmares of long armpit hair on women and a world where men must wear eye shadow and lip liner and have feelings.

No other group fighting for civil or human rights has been given a moniker associating them with Hitler in such a successful way. What makes this especially poignant is that the real Nazis preached "Kueche, Kinder und Kirche" for women and limited the role of women to breeding lots of little Nazis.

So far Rush has lost (at least temporarily) 141 advertisers.

Every Dollar is Created Equal? Again.

As I've written before, nobody mentions the class wars when the rich are running them because that's just business as usual. But even one teeny-weeny mention of the ever-increasing income inequality in this country and its bad consequences (Banana Republic, here we come!) makes you into someone who preaches class warfare. Which is quite hilarious if you have my sick sense of humor.

And the same sense of humor made me laugh loud at this comment by a wealthy sponsor of Mitt Romney:
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Ken Griffin, founder of the hedge fund Citadel was asked if he thought rich people had too great of an influence on politics.
"I think they actually have an insufficient influence," he responded. "Those who have enjoyed the benefits of our system more than ever now owe a duty to protect the system that has created the greatest nation on this planet."
He also told the Tribune that he believes he should be able to donate an unlimited amount of money to Super PACs.
The whole interview is here.

That sentence by Mr. Griffin is a lovely little sentence. It argues that those who have made out like bandits from the globalization scam and the financial markets scam should be allowed to have major influence on the continuance of the same.