Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bernie Sanders: Time To Stop The Orgy of Greed [Anthony McCarthy]

It's pretty sad when the Independent Senator, Bernie Sanders, is exercising more leadership for Democrats than either the Democratic president or the Democratic Senate Leader. It's pretty sad that it's the ineffectual Harry Reid who is NOT the target of the DC beltway lie machine while Nancy Pelosi, who has exercised leadership is made the scapegoat for the failure of the two males is blamed for the election results. Am I the only one who is reminded of the gender based campaign against Hillary Clinton in this?

Anyway, back to Bernie Sanders very good summary of the State of the Nation and where the Republicans are taking us with too little resistance from their alleged opposition.

In the next month, despite all their loud rhetoric about the "deficit crisis," the Republicans want to add $700 billion to the national debt over the next 10 years by extending Bush's tax breaks for the top 2 percent. Families who earn $1 million a year or more would receive, on average, a tax break of $100,000 a year. The Republicans also want to eliminate or significantly reduce the estate tax, which has existed since 1916. Its elimination would add, over 10 years, about $1 trillion to our national debt and all of the benefits would go to the top 0.3 percent. Over 99.7 percent of American families would not gain a nickel. The Walton family of WalMart would receive an estimated tax break of more than $30 billion by repealing the estate tax.

That's just the start.

The billionaires and their supporters in Congress are hell-bent on taking us back to the 1920s, and eliminating all traces of social legislation designed to protect working families, the elderly, children and the disabled. No "social contract" for them. They want it all.

It's worth keeping his short post from Buzzflash, it looks like a pretty good roadmap for their proposed route. Not the one they're admitting to, the real one.

Note: It's so clear that the Republicans have no intentions other than the ones Bernie Sanders notes, that Barack Obama's continued bipartisan gestures have become intensely embarrassing. Even the willfully blind New York Times has dropped the pretense around that. It's time for Barack Obama to face the truth and act as if he's under constant attack by people who want to destroy him. Because he is.

The Good News Is

That both Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have asked Barack Obama to exercise leadership in getting a stand alone vote on ONLY the tax breaks for middle class tax payers.

The Bad News Is

that they had to ask him to exercise leadership.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pies, cakes subjected to extra screening (by Suzie)

You can bring pies and cakes through the security checkpoint, but please be advised that they are subject to additional screening.
-- News from the TSA on holiday travel. Cranberry sauce, salsa and snowglobes are a no-go.

Discussion continues on my post Wednesday about the enhanced security at U.S. airports, but I wanted to update you. In other TSA news, pilots have gotten a reprieve from the scanners and pat-downs, but flight attendants have not. I'm predicting the new policy will fall because Republican men don't want anyone looking at or touching their junk without permission. The rest of us are just having a fascinating discussion.

In an interview, the don't-touch-my-junk guy says he's heard that his case will be dropped and that he won't have to pay a fine. The good news for animal lovers is that the incident kept him from a pheasant-hunting trip. He had packed his shotguns as baggage, and I can assure you as a Texan that the residue from handling weapons can set off security machines.

Friday garden blogging (by Suzie)

From the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

Meanwhile, among the U.S. Evangelicals

Someone told me the other day that men and women are completely equal in the West and that, if anything, women now rule the earth.


Let's see what the Bible Boyz are doing:

The world's best-selling Bible is getting an upgrade.

At stake are millions of dollars in publishing revenue and the trust of millions of churchgoers.

Since its debut in 1978, the New International Version — known as the NIV — has been the Bible of choice for evangelicals, selling more copies than any other version. But a 2005 gender-inclusive edition bombed after being condemned as too liberal.

Translators hope their latest edition, which debuted online this month, will avoid a similar fate. They've retained some of the language of the 2005 edition. But they also made changes — like going back to using words like "mankind" and "man" instead of "human beings" and "people" — in order to appease critics.
Because Christianity (and the other Abrahamic religions) are Guy Religions. Gals are not allowed to have equality. Indeed:

Denny Burk, a professor of New Testament at Boyce College, a Southern Baptist school in Louisville, has complained about one change in 1 Timothy 2:12. That verse from a New Testament letter from the Apostle Paul, used to read, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man." Now it says, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man."

The change from "have authority" to "assume authority" is huge, Burk argues. He believes that God gave men and women different jobs — and that women can't be pastors. Burk says the new Bible sides with his opponents.

"It appears, therefore, that the NIV 2011 comes down on the side of egalitarianism in its rendering of 1 Timothy 2:12," he wrote in a blog at
Aren't you glad that I'm an egalitarian goddess, eh?

Added later: Even the Anglican Church is predicted to lose some Boyz Only clergy to Ratzo the Pope:

Around 50 Anglican priests are expected to defect to the Catholic church, it emerged today, as the first details were disclosed of an unprecedented initiative that will allow Anglicans disaffected over the ordination of women to convert.
Where does one go if one is disaffected over the ordination of men? Even the question is silly.

A Hilariously Funny Piece On Writing As A Woman

So funny that it makes me suspect it can't be a woman who wrote this as broads have no sense of humor. Heh. Read it now. It's by Tawni O'Dell.

Two points I wish to make: The first one has to do with the idea that chicks can't write from a male point of view:

"Back Roads" was set in the coal-mining area where I grew up and was a dark, gritty portrayal of a family in crisis told entirely in the male first-person voice of 19-year-old Harley Altmyer. My publishing house was over the moon about the book, proclaiming me brilliant and tossing around phrases like "formidable talent" and "pitch-perfect prose." The book was so good, as a matter of fact, that they thought it would be best to conceal the fact that it had been written by a woman.


My editor went on to inform me that they had decided to publish the book using my initials. That way they wouldn't actually be lying and claiming I was a man but since the book was written in the male first person, everyone would assume it had been written by a man. Pretty sneaky.

There was only one problem with their reasoning: The book hadn't been written by a man. Not to mention one of the things everyone found so amazing about my novel was that it was so convincingly written from a male perspective by a woman. Wouldn't that be ruined if we pretended I was a man?
It's the Bronte sisters' old strategy of writing under male pseudonyms to be taken seriously. But I didn't realize it might still be needed.

And then pay attention to the amazement O'Dell records about her ability to write convincingly from a male perspective. We don't do that with Famous Boy Writers, do we? Even when they don't have any idea about how to do a female perspective which is actually pretty often, in my experience. Now chew over that for a while.

My second point has to do with the story about how a name like Tawni would not be taken seriously:

I was informed over the phone one morning that Tawni was a "biker chick name" and no one would take the novel seriously if we used it.

I was stunned, not only because I had naively thought art was one area where sexism didn't exist but because standing in my coffee-stained bathrobe in my suburban Chicago kitchen handing out juice boxes to my kids, I could hardly imagine anyone mistaking me for a biker chick.
It's her stunned reaction when meeting sexism for the first time (or at least the first time she noticed it about writing). One consequence of a less openly sexist education system is that women may now not meet the kind of sexism which is explicitly aimed at them until they start working (though this varies and also depends on other characteristics of the women, including their race, ethnicity and sexual preference).

Meeting sexism later is better than meeting it earlier, naturally. But many young women may believe sexism is all-but-gone or at least not worth fussing about, just because the schools and colleges offer a different environment than they used to. Just you wait, however.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Workers Are Also Consumers

That may be a summary of the Keynesian approach to macroeconomics. If you haven't noticed, the Keynesians have little power in this country.

Robert Reich discusses many of the issues in a Bloomberg article from last September. This is an important observation:

Our Great Recession boiled up, in Reich's view, from 30 years of growing income inequality that concentrated the nation's winnings in the hands of the wealthy few. By 2007, the richest 1 percent of Americans received more than 23 percent of U.S. income (up from some 9 percent in the 1970s). The last time U.S. wealth was so condensed was in 1928.

Reich's objection has less to do with morality than with practicality. When income clumps at the top, demand for goods and services shrinks, he says.

Take the almost $100 million in compensation that Kenneth D. Lewis was allocated as chief executive officer of Bank of America Corp. as it skidded toward disaster, according to Forbes' annual ranking of best-paid CEOs. To spend all that in a year, Lewis would have had to purchase $273,972.60 worth of goods and services each day, weekends included, Reich says.

"The sheer magnitude of the task of spending obscene amounts of money can be surprisingly challenging," Reich says.

If you spread the cash around, by contrast, it gets spent.
The second voice in that article, James Bressley, attacks Reich's arguments but doesn't refute them. For example:

Reich fails to grasp why a generation that came of age during the Great Inflation and the Vietnam War became more grateful to Volcker than to politicians. Nor does he articulate a vision for how America can create more high-value jobs. Consumer spending alone does not an economy make.
No, consumer spending alone does not an economy make. But neither does the savings and investments of the rich, and that is what the Republicans focus on. If nobody buys the products a firm makes, why invest in that firm? You need both consumption and investment, just like you need two to tango. And right now it's the consumption side which falters.

Today's Bad Poetry Moment

I am just a bankster
You call me gangster
But you don't know how hard it is
to live on
just a billion.

Please continue the pome.

Thursday Fluff Post: Clothes

I have gone all fashionista! Yes, me. I bought an early 1960s cashmere overcoat through the Internet for 29 dollars. We shall see if it's any good and if it's still wearable.

If it is not, I have a Plan! I'm going to felt it in the washing machine and make potholders, ties and winter bras out of it and then sell them here on the blog. Every one will have a cute little snake embroidered on it by me. For only 250 smackers! What do you think of that great business idea? My friend rolled her eyes after hearing it and muttered that I never change.

One coat wouldn't give enough felted cashmere, though, so I hope it is wearable.

I like vintage clothes because the ones that still remain do that for a reason: They were good from the beginning. I have a Victorian linen top somewhere, and when I only weigh fifty pounds I will wear it. It is hand-sewn and has great cutwork around the neck.

I also have a 1917 silk dress which I have worn in the past (and now feel guilty over that). It is stunningly beautiful, with a sequined top and those multiple layers of chiffon for the lower half and uneven hems and a thousand hooks and eyes.

This is the girly post for the year, probably.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Full-body scanners at airports (by Suzie)

Last weekend, I flew to Atlanta with a friend who uses metal crutches. She got patted down every day of the trip: coming and going at the airport and visiting a museum. In the future, she doesn’t care if she gets patted down or has to go through the new full-body scanners.

I do. I’m in remission from soft-tissue sarcoma, which has been linked to radiation. The government says the radiation risk from scanners is minuscule, but some reputable scientists have questions. I'm already under so much surveillance, with X-rays and CT scans, that I hate to undergo one more source of radiation.

Because I’m ensconced in the medical system, I’m used to strangers seeing my naked body. Nevertheless, I find it a bit creepy that someone somewhere in the airport is seeing it. You can bet on the system being abused in a society in which a lot of men get off by violating women’s privacy, like the old-fashioned peeping toms or the guys who install hidden cameras or the ones who use cell phones to look up a woman’s skirt or down her blouse. The thrill is the lack of consent.

Britain already has had a case of a male worker ogling a female colleague and then letting her know that he saw her naked. After all, it’s more fun when a guy can humiliate a woman.

Kelly Kleiman has raised similar concerns in the Huffington Post.

In regard to pat-downs, some heterosexual men are incensed at the idea that another man might touch their bodies, especially their genitals, or that someone will inspect their bodies. Women are much more accustomed to this, although that doesn’t mean we like it any more.

I haven’t heard of women complaining about being patted down by another woman (although they do complain about pat-downs in general). That wouldn’t bother me, and that’s the option I’ll choose. I figure my urostomy bag might raise questions with either option.

National Opt-out Day is planned for the day before Thanksgiving. I dislike a protest that will make travel more difficult for people who already find travel difficult. Please find a way to protest that doesn't hurt others.

On my way to Atlanta, my bag leaked and I got drenched in urine. Luckily, I was wearing black velvet, not white linen, and it couldn’t be seen. On a short flight, I didn’t want to ask someone to get my suitcase down, root around for new clothes, wash myself all over with paper towels in the restroom, change my urostomy bag, put my wet clothes in a plastic bag, and put on new clothes. Instead, I sopped up some of the urine with paper towels and then taped the bag down with my beloved pink tape. Because I couldn't board with scissors, I had to tear the tape with my teeth. I’ll be better prepared next time I fly, but it did occur to me that it would be funny if someone had to pat me down.

What do you think of "enhanced" pat-downs and full-body scanners?

Tax Cuts For The Rich, No Unemployment Benefit Extensions

Sometimes it is hard to write about politics as this and the next two posts demonstrate. I sit here breathing fire and muttering to myself about "elections having consequences." Well, they do have consequences, though even a Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate doesn't get anything much done.

But it's getting worse:

Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Bob Casey (D-PA) want the Senate to take up and pass a one-year extension of unemployment insurance benefits from 26 to 99 weeks, but they did not sound hopeful on a conference call that this could get done before the extension lapses at the end of November.

Getting jobless benefits passed in the lame duck session is going to be a tough road. Congress has always passed emergency funding for extended unemployment benefits in a time of high joblessness, any time the topline rate is over 7.2%. But even with 59 votes, the Senate has faced an arduous series of votes to extend it out month by month this year. The last attempt in April needed multiple cloture votes, with several failing before the final success. At the time, Republicans like Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins said that would be the last extension they would vote for that wasn't offset with some other revenue or spending cut. Ben Nelson (D-NE) has joined them, making it virtually impossible to find the votes.
Gotta tighten that belt, you hear me! Murkans so desire. Should you happen to starve -- well -- the rich can have tax cuts and the government will slim down to a tiny and manageable size. That's what the tea partiers desired right?

Astonishingly, though the Republicans , not even the tea partiers, don't want to be seen as actually cutting the government down to size:

A band of conservative rebels has taken over the House, vowing to slash spending, cut the deficit and kill earmarks.

And of course they'd love a seat on the powerhouse Appropriations Committee so they can translate their campaign zeal into action, right?

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) was asked to be an appropriator and said thanks, but no thanks. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a tea party favorite, turned down a shot at Appropriations, which controls all discretionary spending. So did conservatives like Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), an ambitious newcomer who will lead the influential Republican Study Committee.

Indeed, the Appropriations Committee just doesn't seem to be the plum assignment it once was, and the line is short for new recruits to join a panel where the longtime focus on bringing home earmarks and other goodies will shift to finding $100 billion in spending cuts. Even conservative reformers who do get assigned to the committee are likely to be stymied once their appropriations bills reach the floor and get amended to death, then potentially earmarked into oblivion by a Democratic Senate.
It's all fun-and-power-games for some, tax cuts for the rich and no unemployment benefit extensions for others. But that is presumably what voters asked for.

Topics stolen from Eschaton.

Not With A Bang But A Whimper

The US Senate failed to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act:

A bill aimed at stamping out wage discrimination was blocked Wednesday as too few senators voted to move forward with the legislation. The Paycheck Fairness Act needed 60 votes to move forward, and only captured 58.
It was the Republicans who did this:

Senate Republicans have succeeded in blocking a measure designed to reduce wage disparities between men and women.

The 58-41 vote to take up the Paycheck Fairness Act fell short of the 60 needed to overcome GOP opposition.
Yawn. Who cares? Or as one opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal puts it:

Let's not embark upon a journey that leads us to gender warfare.
Hilarious. Just fucking hilarious*.
*I realized that some might need an explanation of this. Note that the writer of that article already assumes an ongoing gender warfare.

Otherwise he/she wouldn't start from the assumption that an act that would have helped women to sue for discrimination longer than is currently the case fight discrimination in the labor force would not also help men. Women, after all, do belong to families and have male relatives, including spouses, boyfriends and sons. It is the writer who views this as gender warfare and it is the writer who doesn't want women to "win," even if that requires unfairness of a major kind.
(My apologies for that error. As Emma points out in the comments I was talking about the earlier Lily Ledbetter act which did pass. No excuse except I've been writing through a red haze of anger today.)

Here Come The Death Panels

Remember those? The Republicans argued that the health care reform would result in death panels to decide who shall live and who shall die?

Well, Arizona has decided to adopt that measure, in some ways:

In Arizona, 98 low-income patients approved for organ transplants have been told they are no longer getting them because of state budget cuts.

The patients receive medical coverage through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), the state's version of Medicaid. While it may be common for private insurance companies or government agencies to change eligibility requirements for medical procedures ahead of time, medical ethicists say authorizing a procedure and then reversing that decision is unheard of.
I used the words "in some ways" because anyone waiting for an organ transplant already faces tough odds. But still. As the above quote notes, it is unheard of to reverse a decision this way:

"To basically renege on what you promised was [going to] be a chance at life is a very, very bitter indictment of the ethics of the Legislature," says Arthur Caplan, head of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Caplan calls the reversal "awful" behavior because Arizona is going back on a covenant it made with its patients, and because these are patients for whom time is critical — patients who spent months, some years, thinking they were covered.

"They then stop trying to raise money, stop trying to see what Uncle Fred might be willing to give them," Caplan says. "They don't have the bake sale. They don't make the appeal in church."
But Arizona could save about 4.5 million this year!

My guess is that this decision will be reversed, though other cuts will be found and they, too, are going to hurt real people, often people too weak to fight the cuts and without imminent death hanging over their heads.

But think of the savings!

Note that budget cuts are what Republicans really desire right now.

Visiting the Boyz at YouTube

I got on this trip by accident. While looking at this video of a world record breaking pole vault by Isinbeyeva (from some time ago) I made the big mistake of reading the comments.

It could be that women athletes on YouTube are now the poor man's pornography sites. The comments sure support that hypothesis. Here's a fairly representative sample of the comments, though they are repeated over and over and over again:

if she had bigger boobs she wouldved knockd that down lol?

She can vault my? pole any day!

Mmm she? could vault my pole.

I wish? she would play with my pole.

if her boobs were bigger she would have gotten hurt....

if here boobs were 1 cm bigger she? would of faild O.o

hells yea? shes hot look at ur ass lol

if her? boobs is abit bigger, she would have failed the WR. haha

she is? flat omg

what chest? she has no chest?

Hot chicks always know how to handle the? pole...

WHAT A HOTTIE!!!! she can break the record? with my pole if she wanted to....

yea i would destroy that ass? of hers

She is Lucky that she wasnt a DOULBLE Ds.?

I would wreck that? chick.

dude she kinda looks creepy like? i mean shes not bad looking but weird so ya im not gay i like da PUSSY XD

I? like to pole her.

listen lezbo. girls are only good at doin house? work thats y the guys do everything else cause we do it better :p suck on that dike

whaha no tits. if she had boobs she? didnt make it xD

so sexy , great? ass

id like to plant my pole in her? box

shes super hot. the only reson i watched it?

nice abs.? and face. i'd fap to it.

would she? be willing to perform some maintenance to my pole?

i kno i fuck her in the? air as she goes up

she'd be ugly if she was fat?



i agree with u dude, but tell me... wouldnt you stick ur pole in her ass??? just look at that!!!!!?

y? is she not making sandwiches?

im glad that she? is not one of those shemales who run track

imagen if the pole went in? her pussy (lol)

There have been thousands of pole vaults higher than that but womens sport gives us some? pretty girls to look at

i wonder if the huge pole would go through her ass, she has a? great one lol

she can front flip onto? my d*ck haha
Then there is this exchange:

god can people stop posting about her looks and just respect her as an amazing? athlete?

she is an amazingly beautiful athlete , whats wrong with that , im sure she wouldnt be offended by that , are you a fiminist ??
Bwahaha! And then, of course the reason why all these comments (and there are loads more in the thread!) are perfectly fine to post on YouTube:

If she? doesn't like us perving over her, she shouldn't wear such tight skimpy clothes.
See? It's not these boyz' fault! It's the athlete's fault. She should be vaulting in a baggy sack and perhaps in that case the comments could be (but only perhaps) about her athletic performance rather than her porn ratings.

Now, the usual advice is to ignore the comments on YouTube. They gather all the bottom feeders and we are to assume that there aren't that many of those and that we won't come across them in our daily lives.

But is that assumption a good one? Consider the comments at an other YouTube site, this time about the high jumper Blanka Vlasic. Her waist is not bare or at least she doesn't wear a bikini-type outfit. So are the comments now about her athletics?


jeez her face is the fucking ugliest thing I have ever? seen

rounded into? shape real nicely... hell yes.

I cum? at 0:25 every time.

Pretty ugly chick - I'd take? the Slovakian sprinter over her anyday.

This one looks like a Mexican gardener.

What? a great way to get in bed!!!

her face looks like a zombie.
All the other videos of female athletes I checked are pretty much the same. The women are judged for their f***ability, either positively or negatively, and there are always a few snide comments about how women aren't good for anything else but housecleaning and f***ing. It is mostly superficial and always about judging the athlete on the basis of her sexual appeal. The expectation seems to be that she's there for that very reason.

But she is not there for that reason and she doesn't get paid for all that masturbation that goes on. Then ask yourselves what the message of these threads might be to young girls who want to look at good performances in their chosen fields. I bet the effect is chilling. They learn that if they succeed it is their bottoms and breasts which will be dissected on YouTube.

So how many bottom feeders ARE there? I'm not sure but the numbers I can see are pretty frightening, and so is the message: We Will Not Take Women Seriously Except as F***toyz.

The second message is that these people really are inane. Once one man has posted the quip about his pole/the athlete's flat chest why bother writing it in over and over and over again? Indeed, why bother writing it in the first time?

The only explanation I can think of is that first message: Yes, these comments are from bottom feeders (though there may be many more of those than I ever imagined) AND these bottom feeders believe that they have the absolute right to publicly evaluate the sexual attractiveness of any woman they come across. Is this a consequence of Internet pornography's greater acceptability?
Note: Those comment threads also contain more reasonable comments. But the proportions are wildly in favor of the pornified ones.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Going Dutch

The Slate has an article on the Dutch women preferring not to work full-time. Here is the title of Jessica Olien's piece, to get right to the gist of why all this is of such interest to the powers that be:

Women in the Netherlands work less, have lesser titles and a big gender pay gap, and they love it.
How very interesting! Imagine that we call paying fifty-fifty for a date "going Dutch"! But the Dutch are going full-steam back into the traditional gender roles.

Or that's what the article really means:

I've been in the Netherlands for nearly three months now, and I've come to one overwhelming conclusion: Dutch women are not like me. I worry about my career incessantly. I take daily stock of its trajectory and make vicious mental critiques of my endeavors. And I know—based on weekly phone conversations with friends in the United States—that my masochistic drive for success is widely shared among my female friends. Meanwhile, the Dutch women around me take a lackadaisical approach to their careers. They work half days, meet their friends for coffee at 2 p.m., and pity their male colleagues who are stuck in the office all day.

Though the Netherlands is consistently ranked in the top five countries for women, less than 10 percent of women here are employed full-time. And they like it this way. Incentives to nudge women into full-time work have consistently failed. Less than 4 percent of women wish they had more working hours or increased responsibility in the workplace, and most refuse extended hours even when the opportunity for advancement arises. Some women cite the high cost of child care as a major factor in their shorter hours, but 62 percent of women working part time in the Netherlands don't have young children in the house, and mothers rarely increase their working hours even when their children leave home.

It's hard not to wonder: Have we gotten it all wrong?
There you have it. Dutch women are happy and pity the male colleagues who are stuck in the office all day. We better pedal back to the mythical 1950s stat!

Hmm. Whenever I spot a number like 4% of women wishing they had more working hours or increased opportunity for advancement in the workplace I wonder where it came from. Because I don't have the book Olien quotes handy I cannot really tell. But something whiffs a bit, to my sensitive nostrils. For example, that number must have come from some study, right? And most studies don't ask generalized questions like that but only address them to a particular group of women.

So I started doing some digging on all this.

First I looked up the Dutch working hours. Here is some recent data:
Average weekly working hours in 2007 with overtime:
Men 34.7
Women 24.5

Interesting! I bet most of you thought that the male colleagues slaving away in the office were all there for ninety hour weeks, what with all those womenfolk enjoying their gardens and shit. Turns out that the Dutch don't work very long hours in general.

Those figures include part-time work, clearly. How do they differ from the average American hours if part-time work is included?

The data I found for US in 2009 do not compare directly but you can figure out the rough transformation:

On the days that they worked, employed men worked 56 minutes more than employed women. This difference partly reflects women's greater likelihood of working part time. However, even among full-time workers (those usually working 35 hours or more per week), men worked longer than women--8.3 hours compared with 7.5 hours. (See table 4.)
Note that "work" here excludes all unpaid work within the home. On that, American men and women differed, too:

On an average day, 85 percent of women and 67 percent of men spent some time doing household activities such as housework, cooking, lawn care, or financial and other household management. (For a definition of average day, see the Technical Note.) (See table 1.)

On the days that they did household activities, women spent an average of 2.6 hours on such activities, while men spent 2.0 hours. (See table 1.)

On an average day, 20 percent of men did housework--such as cleaning or doing laundry--compared with 51 percent of women. Forty percent of men did food preparation or cleanup, compared with 68 percent of women. (See table 1.)
And those in the US who had small children in the household the differences in unpaid work were greater:

On an average day, among adults living in households with children under 6, women spent 1.1 hours providing physical care (such as bathing or feeding a child) to household children; by contrast, men spent 0.5 hour providing physical care. (See table 9.)
The above data on household work and its division should also be kept in mind when analyzing the Dutch data. The gender roles there tend to be pretty conservative and those gender roles will affect the choices (or "choices") women make.

Second, I came across an actual study of the Dutch women's part-time work, and in it I found a reference that may (just may) be the mother of that 4% comment:

The result on the propensity to work full-time is consistent with studies on stated preferences and attitudes towards the employment of women. The SCP (2006) finds that among women who work part-time and do have a working male partner, 96 per cent prefer to work part-time.
Could this be the source of that four-percent figure? Subtract 96% from 100% and you get that. Except that the women asked were not ALL Dutch women but only those who a) worked part-time and b) had a working male partner.

Third, the title of Olien's piece (probably not selected by her, remember) deserves closer attention:

Women in the Netherlands work less, have lesser titles and a big gender pay gap, and they love it
This truly reads as if the Dutch women love having lesser titles and a big gender gap and as if they ultimately work less when all unpaid work is taken into account. It could be that they do love all those things (though I really doubt that they love the gender gap in earnings or having lesser titles).

But decisions have a cultural and social context and Olien's piece doesn't talk about the traditionally Dutch conservative values when it comes to women or the recent re-emergence of these values.

Neither does she tell us if men participate in work inside the home. Research suggests that the role of children is crucial in explaining the prevalence of part-time work among Dutch women:

The probability of working full-time or part-time varies substantially with individual and family characteristics. Women without children are likely to work full-time. This holds in particular for single women without children (Figure 5). Nevertheless, married women born after 1970 without children have a large propensity to work part-time. Children have major implications for employment (Figure 6). A vast majority of married mothers works 12–24 hours per week. Single mothers are less likely to be employed. When employed, single mothers of the generation born up until around 1950 relatively frequently work full-time. Younger generations of single mothers are much more likely to work part-time.
I cannot rule out that Dutch women might just love patriarchy, of course, or that they have no desire for that brass ring at the top of the hierarchy ladders.

But I doubt that very much. Yet that is the undertone in the discussions about this I have read: That women are ultimately happiest in traditional roles and so on.

If the traditional roles cannot be completely achieved by having all women stay at home then part-time at least allows them to do the work at home as well. Because the lens here is on women and how they work we don't learn about Dutch men or their work habits, and neither do we learn much about the cultural rules of the Dutch culture on the whole. I suspect that knowing those rules is imperative for the interpretation of the data. I also suspect that most Dutch regard paid work as something that takes fewer hours than the mythical ideal in the US.

Lessons from Blogging. Part II: How To Fight For Your Cause

This is the second post in the series that commemorates (!) the seventh anniversary of this blog. It's all about the lessons I have learned and how they might help you, too. It's not about the technical skills one needs for blogging. (So don't worry, I won't tell you how I write a post I wish nobody will read but which has to be written anyway.)

The topic of today's post is encapsulated in this cartoon:

Perhaps not quite encapsulated but hinted at? I like it because of the snake...

What this post is about is how to be a fighter without being a predator, how to fight for yourself as well as for others and how not to be so easily silenced when someone whines: "What about the children/menz/whatever?"

I thought that all other women by now had those skills but I have learned otherwise on the Internet. Even strong feminists can be turned away from their goals by being told that someone else's suffering is worse, or that they are selfish to work for the group they themselves belong to.

Or in simpler terms: Others will push your guilt buttons, because they work excellently when it comes to many women. The culture tells us to feel guilty about so much (did you have a glass of wine when pregnant?) that it can be difficult to gain the necessary distance and to notice that often the very people who accuse you are the ones who should feel guilty (did you start a war?).

That the accusations of selfishness and the guilt buttons work so very well for so many of us is the reason for the message of this post:

It's not necessary to choose between selfishness and kindness or between being a marauding monster or a doormat. Hillel said it well a very long time ago:

If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?

It is that balance I aim for. It is also that balance I believe we should all aim for. Only introspection will tell you what your own corrections should be. But I see more women bending over backwards to care for others and not for themselves, despite the fact that one cannot keep giving without replenishing that what is to be given. I also see both men and women assume that it is women who should bend over backwards.

So how does one become a fighter under these circumstances? Remember what Hillel said, remember that when you fight for, say, feminism you are not fighting just for yourself or for the uppity rich white women of the United States but for all our daughters, all the young girls you read about in Afghanistan, all the young girls you read about in South Africa, all the women of the world. You are fighting to stop an injustice, an unfairness, and that cannot but make the world a little bit more bearable. To be able to do this you must also take care of yourself because you are both the fighter and the weapon.

A bit hi-faluting. But that's what I learned.

Three Action Alerts

It feels good to act on important issues. Here are three chances for you to do so.

First, the Senate is (once again) considering ratifying the Convention for Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). It's not an honor to be among the group of countries which won't ratify it. But that is exactly where the US is today. You can call your Senator and ask him or her to vote for the ratification. It may not matter much but not ratifying the CEDAW does stink.

Second, the Lily Ledbetter Paycheck Fairness Act. It's coming up for vote in the Senate tomorrow:

We'll continue urging the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, but your Senators also need to hear from you. Save a few minutes on the national call-in day to dial 877-667-6650. That's Tuesday, November 16 – the day before the vote.

It was way back in January 2009 that the House passed the Paycheck Fairness Act. Please join American Association of University Women, American Civil Liberties Union, the National Committee on Pay Equity, National Women's Law Center, and hundreds of other organizations nationwide in calling on the Senate to do the same and send this important legislation to the President's desk.

Third, New York City is considering legislation which would require "truth in advertising" from the so-called crisis pregnancy centers:

The legislation being considered in New York City is really quite simple: if passed, it would merely require CPCs to disclose what they do, so women are aware of what they're getting into when they visit one of the centers. Women will know that the center they're visiting does not provide abortion services or referrals and that they will, in fact, be advised against getting an abortion. So-called "truth-in-advertising" measures aimed at CPCs have already been passed in Baltimore and are under consideration in Austin and Washington state.
For why this matters, read this blog post by a physician. You can sign the petition to pass the law here.

There. Don't you feel great now?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mother's Little Helpers

Lisa Belkin's parenting blog addresses the topic of that old song by quoting from an upper-middle-class woman with three young children:

That summer, the summer that my baby was turning 1 year old and my older children were 4 and 6, I decided that wasn't good enough. Even though I was "appropriately" stressed, in my opinion, what with three crazy boys and a household to run and summer's unstructured days swirling around my head, I was struggling. I yelled. A lot. Maybe I wasn't unjustified in my yelling, but all the same, it made me miserable. I felt like my shoulders were hung up on a clothes hanger every single day from the moment I woke up until the moment my children were in bed. Once they were there, asleep or at least safe in their beds and crib, not falling down staircases or eating or stuffing Legos up their noses or pummeling each other, I slumped. Visibly, physically, emotionally slumped. I was exhausted, and I was anxious. The anxiety made me a miserable person and a miserable mother.

The medication helped me. It gave me a pause button. I didn't yell as much, but I could still yell if I needed to yell. I didn't cry as much, but I could still cry. I felt like a stronger, more competent mother and wife. I felt like I could survive. I didn't slump at the end of the day. I felt more capable.
Now, anecdotes don't a trend make, and it's quite possible that people, both men and women, experience similar stress in various occupations, not to mention poor mothers working two jobs AND taking care of children.

On the other hand, the way Americans have structured stay-at-home child-raising seems to me to be almost guaranteed to cause mental and emotional stress for the care-giver: She (or, rarely, he) is isolated from other adults all day long. She (or, rarely, he) is solely responsible for very small children who have little understanding of safety. She (or, rarely, he) is often expected to cope with that in the way a superhuman goddess or Virgin Mary would:

Never show anger. Always sound like a psychology textbook. Play Mozart, read Plato, create art with Playdough.

This is not how children have been raised for centuries. That sounds much more like that much-ridiculed "it takes a village" statement by Hillary Clinton. Perhaps not a village but it was extended families, neighborhoods, older siblings and grandparents who also contributed to child-care. The isolated middle-class American nuclear families living in suburbs are very different from that.

I guess my point is that those feelings of anger and frustration are, in fact, not that abnormal though they can obviously be painful and something one wishes to address.

But what are the reasons the anonymous blogger quoted above gives for her desire to address the feelings? She talks about being a better mother, not yelling at her children, even about being a better wife. All those are good reasons, naturally.

Still, they are focused on others. The woman herself has disappeared from the discussion. Perhaps that is the ultimate reason for her anger and frustration?

A Bitter Note

On Saturday I wrote on Eschaton about our current obsession with the federal budget deficits.

That was too early. One was supposed to write about it today!

I don't usually write you bitter notes, do I? Heh. But the fact remains that I'm not just too late but also too early. Must Work On Timing.

I'm Coming, Baby

But not to a television near you because sexual aids are only for men in television land. Digby writes about this. The ads are all about guys:

We've all seen the TV ads for Viagra and Cialis which are verging on sheer farce at this point.


So what's up with this?

When Rachel Braun Scherl, 45, a Stanford University business school graduate, co-founded Semprae Laboratories, which developed Zestra Essential Arousal Oils, a product described as a botanical aphrodisiac, she thought bringing its message to the airwaves would be a snap. Research had shown that tens of millions of American women had sexual difficulty and no products to remedy it.

Scherl, 45, a married mother of two, and company co-founder Mary Jaensch, 58, a married mother of three, thought they had an answer for this unmet need, along with the cash to pay for ads on TV.

In an apparent double standard, many networks and some websites have declined the company's ads; a few will air them during the daytime, and others only after midnight. There is no nudity, sex, or mention of body parts, unlike ads for men's products referring to "erections lasting more than four hours."

"The most frequent answer we get is, 'We don't advertise your category,' " Scherl said. "To which we say, 'What is the category? Because if it's sexual enjoyment, you clearly cover that category. If it's female enjoyment, you clearly don't.' And when you ask for information as to what we would need to change so they would clear the ad for broadcast, they give you very little direction. ... And yet they have no problem showing ads for Viagra and other men's drugs. Why?"
Interesting theories float about concerning the reason for these refusals:

It could be that the women portrayed in those ads are too yucky for the viewers because they are older. But then how to respond to those Viagra ads, especially the first one Digby shows?

Or what if the ads aimed at women are not shown because the product may actually not work? I'm trying not to laugh, because Digby also posted this supplement ad aimed at men:

It promises to make your penis bigger! It also portrays an astonishing sexual dream, one which certainly goes against various moral arguments against sexual enhancement ads, such as that the people should be married to each other.

The third theory has merit: "We don't advertise your category." That could cover not advertising about anything having to do with women's sexual enjoyment both because who cares if women come and because television advertising is explicitly and emphatically aimed at young men. What you get on television is what pleases young men in the critical age ranges. Odd, that, isn't it? Other people have money, too. But then movies are also aimed at young men.

What I like about this debate is this: We are finally beginning to notice that what everyone calls "sex" is really "sex as heterosexual guys see it". Whether anything about that will change is a whole different color of fishes, but at least we can start a conversation on pornography and related matters with a shared understanding that it's not "sex" we are talking about.

You can sign a petition if you wish to see more sexual enhancement ads for women on television.

Economists Talk

The LA Times interviews several of that dismal* breed concerning the dismal state of the economy.

The interviews gave me a nice game to play: I counted how many words I needed to read before recognizing the wingnuts in the group.

Oh. This is how economists look, by the way:

*Dismal because economics is known as the dismal science.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mary Lou Williams


"I'm A Mean Man But Some Things Have To Be Said"

Jack Levine: January 3, 1915 – November 8, 2010

"It seems to me that to organize on the basis of feeding people or righting social injustice and all that is very valuable. But to rally people around the idea of modernism, modernity, or something is simply silly. I mean, I don't know what kind of a cause that is, to be up to date. I think it ultimately leads to fashion and snobbery and I'm against it."

Boycott The Simpsons It Might Save Our Lives [Anthony McCarthy]

Going back over what I've written about his administration, this past week, I've made a partly unjust charge against Barack Obama, I've accused him of cowardice. If there is one thing that is universally and uncontroversially believed, it is that the first black president of the United States would be an unprecedented target for would be assassins. It's so obviously true, based on the firm record of violence and threats of violence against black Americans, that fear of assassination has been among the possible explanations of Barack Obama's irrational attempts at continuing conciliation with a Republican Party which has sponsored candidates who have encouraged violence as a political tool. That they have left off the names of their targets for reasons of politics and the law, in that order, means nothing. As I said yesterday, Barack Obama isn't stupid. He certainly knew that if he ran for president, if he looked like a viable candidate and became president, he would attract an enhanced level of violent intent. When I called him a coward, it certainly wasn't meant to ignore that fact. I will continue to be critical of the failures of President Obama, of his clear lack of POLITICAL courage, but not of a lack of personal courage, nor that of Michele Obama and other members of his family.

When Republicans, overtly and through their front groups, began showing up at presidential appearances, carrying serious guns over the past year, I couldn't believe I was living in the same country I've always lived in. At the time I pointed out that these people were threatening violence and had the means of delivering it. I am certain that they really mean it, they have the means of delivering violence and they clearly believe they have the right to kill their political opponents. Those more genteel Republicans who have enjoyed the havoc in our country that the groups and candidates have unleashed, and the political gains it has brought share in that responsibility by virtue of their tacit condemnation and rejection of it. They have not rejected the results of it.

This week a new book by Ted Ralls predicts the violence I've also warned is very likely to come. He believes it is already too late to avoid it, and it is hard to discount his case for it seeming like a natural event that is determined in its inevitability.

In 2008, like the people of the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s, we put our hopes into a young new leader. He is the kind of fresh-faced reformer who just might have been able to do some good had he been put into power decades ago. "Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job," read the headline in the satirical weekly newspaper the Onion after Barack Obama won. He has failed. It is by design that internal reformers like Mikhail Gorbachev and Obama inevitably come too late to actually accomplish anything. Even if a leader like Obama were inclined to push for the sweeping reforms that might save American late-stage capitalism from itself, as did Franklin D. Roosevelt -- and there is no evidence that the thought has crossed Obama's mind -- his fellow powerbrokers, fixated on quarterly profit statements and personal position, would never allow it.

The media talks a lot about reform. But it's too late for nips and tucks. Reform can only fix a system if the system is viable and open to change. Neither is true about the United States of America.

In what I've read of Rall's book online, I've seen many points I've made about the near impossibility of reforming the American system because many of the reasons our system is hurtling towards catastrophe are found in the supposedly inerrant scripture of the Constitution and those states which some of the worst of those give vastly more power than their populations merit hold a veto over making those essential changes. Short of a wall of resistance by larger states, vetoing any and all laws benefiting the states holding democracy hostage, I don't see any alternative but a SUCCESSFUL civil war. And, as I've also pointed out, it's the enemies of democracy and equality who have a clear arms advantage. I neither believe it is absolutely impossible to avoid a civil war which will end up in many of us, on the left, dead, nor do I think it is something to expect will come out the way we'd hope it might. Clearly the right expects they will prevail in any violence, just as the Confederate states believed they would

Googling for information about Rall's book, the first page was a solid right wing reaction to it, unsurprisingly attributing his conclusions and program to everyone to the left of Dick Lugar. Even as the comfortable center and left reject the warnings about the increasing probability of violence, the right will use this to rally their insane insurgents. The time to do something might be out but the size of the disaster that another civil war would be means we have to try to avoid it. I would encourage you to read the excerpt of Rall's book which I linked to, because I think it contains ideas that might be necessary to your survival but I also encourage you to look at ideas for alternative action, which could prevent the violence that Rall believes is inevitable.

BOYCOTT! We do not have to take up arms to get the real powerbase of this country to pay attention and change. The real powerbase of this country isn’t the tea party, or Fox News, the fascist propaganda channel, or the Senate with all its well groomed, rhetoric spewing puppets; it is the Military Industrial Machine. It is the big American corporations.

THEY lobby the politicians to get the pro-business legislation they want. Every “populist” bill put forth by congress with the supposed intent of helping regular people is filled with small print that at minimum makes it a wash or even benefits the businesses supposedly regulated. The fix is in, and yes a revolt IS necessary. But we do not have to do it by force of weapons. That is sooo 19th century. Nor can we do it with the lazy click of a mouse as we send another $20.00 to No, it can only be done by a radical change, and I mean RADICAL, namely, a radical change in HOW WE SPEND OUR MONEY.

If there is something predictable about a call for a real boycott that would have a real impact, it is that the cynics and the slackers will discourage even considering trying it. They will say that it is unrealistic because it is destined to fail. Well, I'm sick and tired of those who begin with the idea that everything the left tries is going to be an impotent failure. It is ahistorical, it ignores the most successful campaign of civil rights in our history, other than the civil war. Given the relative cost of the boycotts that helped shatter legal segregation as compared to war, it is, by far, the more realistic first resort.

One of the first things the left could do would be to BOYCOTT ALL FOX PROGRAMS, ALL OF THEM AND ALL OF THE MURDOCH EMPIRE'S MEDIA PRODUCTS . A left that can't give up The Simpsons to avoid fascism and civil war is a left that has already given in. Rupert Murdoch is the primary propagandist of right wing violence in the United States, his media empire is the loudest promoter of the violence that is targeting us.