Saturday, January 21, 2012

Blatant Racism

Newt Gingrich resorted to that weapon in his determination to win the South Carolina primaries.

The story began last Monday night at the Myrtle Beach Republican presidential debate. The following exchange took place between the journalist Juan Williams, moderating the debate, and Newt Gingrich. I quote the whole of the exchange so that you can get the full flavor of it. I have bolded Williams' comments below to make it easier for you to see what he actually says:

WILLIAMS: Speaker Gingrich, you recently said black Americans should demand jobs, not food stamps. You also said poor kids lack a strong work ethic and proposed having them work as janitors in their schools. Can’t you see that this is viewed, at a minimum, as insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans?

GINGRICH: No. I don’t see that.
You know, my daughter, Jackie, who’s sitting back there, Jackie Cushman, reminded me that her first job was at First Baptist Church in Carrollton, Georgia, doing janitorial work at 13. And she liked earning the money. She liked learning that if you worked, you got paid. She liked being in charge of her own money, and she thought it was a good start.
I had a young man in New Hampshire who walked up to me. I’ve written two newsletters now about this topic. I’ve had over 50 people write me about the jobs they got at 11, 12, 13 years of age. Ran into a young man who started a doughnut company at 11. He’s now 16. He has several restaurants that take his doughnuts. His father is thrilled that he’s 16 because he can now deliver his own doughnuts.
What I tried to say — and I think it’s fascinating, because Joe Klein reminded me that this started with an article he wrote 20 years ago. New York City pays their janitors an absurd amount of money because of the union. You could take one janitor and hire 30-some kids to work in the school for the price of one janitor, and those 30 kids would be a lot less likely to drop out. They would actually have money in their pocket. They’d learn to show up for work. They could do light janitorial duty. They could work in the cafeteria. They could work in the front office. They could work in the library. They’d be getting money, which is a good thing if you’re poor. Only the elites despise earning money.



WILLIAMS: The suggestion that he made was about a lack of work ethic. And I’ve got to tell you, my e-mail account, my Twitter account has been inundated with people of all races who are asking if your comments are not intended to belittle the poor and racial minorities.
You saw some of this reaction during your visit…
… to a black church in South Carolina. You saw some of this during your visit to a black church in South Carolina, where a woman asked you why you refer to President Obama as “the food stamp president.” It sounds as if you are seeking to belittle people.

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, Juan, the fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.
Now, I know among the politically correct, you’re not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable.
Second, you’re the one who earlier raised a key point. There’s — the area that ought to be I-73 was called by Barack Obama a corridor of shame because of unemployment. Has it improved in three years? No. They haven’t built the road. They haven’t helped the people. They haven’t done anything.

BAIER: Finish your thought, Mr. Speaker.

GINGRICH: One last thing.

BAIER: Yes, sir.

GINGRICH: So here’s my point. I believe every American of every background has been endowed by their creator with the right to pursue happiness. And if that makes liberals unhappy, I’m going to continue to find ways to help poor people learn how to get a job, learn how to get a better job and learn some day to own the job.
Got it? Here's what Newt Gingrich said in yesterday's speech:
GINGRICH: I had a very interesting dialogue Monday night in Myrtle Beach with Juan Williams about the idea of work, which seemed to Juan Williams to be a strange, distant concept.
Astonishing stuff. Note that there was nothing in the exchange that would support the reading that work for Juan Williams is a "strange, distant concept." Note, also that Juan Williams is a well-known and hard-working journalist:
Williams is the author of Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965 (1988),[1] a companion to the documentary series of the same name about the African-American Civil Rights Movement;Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary (2000), a biography of Thurgood Marshall, the first black American to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States; and Enough (2006), which was inspired by Bill Cosby's speech at the NAACP gala, and deals with Williams' critique of black leaders in America, and as he puts it the "culture of failure."[2] Williams has received an Emmy Award and critical praise for his television documentary work and he has won several awards for investigative journalism and his opinion columns.
So why did Newt imply that work is a strange and distant concept for Juan Williams?

Most likely because Williams is black. I cannot think of any other explanation.

Saturday Sillies: Voters Are Like Newt's Happy Wives!

One of the really big gag jokes in American politics is the Republican Party as the Values Party. You know, Hitler had values. Everyone has values. Whether other people like those values is a very different question.

But somehow we have been fed the odd message that Republican voters have good values and everyone else is just a slobbering satisfy-me-now beast.

Sexual morality is the linchpin around which the Republican value structure is created. Sexual morality, in turn, is a euphemism for controlling women's behavior. That's the way the actual contradictions in Republican politics can best be understood.

Such as this stupid post by the Fox News' tame psychiatrist which argues that Newt would be a good president because he managed to attract three different wives:
I want to be coldly analytical, not moralize, here. I want to tell you what Mr. Gingrich’s behavior could mean for the country, not for the future of his current marriage. So, here’s what one interested in making America stronger can reasonably conclude—psychologically—from Mr. Gingrich’s behavior during his three marriages:
1) Three women have met Mr. Gingrich and been so moved by his emotional energy and intellect that they decided they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with him.
2) Two of these women felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich was already married. 
3 ) One of them felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich was already married for the second time, was not exactly her equal in the looks department and had a wife (Marianne) who wanted to make his life without her as painful as possible. 
Conclusion: When three women want to sign on for life with a man who is now running for president, I worry more about whether we’ll be clamoring for a third Gingrich term, not whether we’ll want to let him go after one.

This is silly on too many different levels* to tackle in a short post, so I shall limit myself to just asking you to do a gender reversal on that quote. Put some female politician in Newt's place, let her have Newt's marital history and then ask if anyone would ever write a post like that to defend her. Even a sorta Frankensteiny Fox psychiatrist.

She'd be called an unreliable slut. Of course she would never have managed to stay in the public eye as long as Newt did, with that sexual history, so even starting with that reversal is tough.

The Republican values are always bendable. They apply to some people and not to others, and voters use them as whitewash to defend certain votes, even when the real reasons are something far back in their reptile brains.
*A quick summary of a few of those: 1. A candidate's private life may not be the best predictor how they do in politics though it does matter if it conflicts with their political message. 2. The post is there because it looks like Newt will win South Carolina, Fox News is a Republican megaphone and must therefore write positive things about him just in case he becomes the candidate. If Newt was a Democrat, the post would crucify him. 3. We are asked to identify with Newt's many wives, but only at the point when they become his wives, not at the point when he leaves them and why. 4. We are not asked to remember that losing interest in a wife would also apply to losing interest in presidenting if the initial argument that there's something to learn from Newt's amorous history applies. And so on.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Possibly Good News About Contraception Coverage

Lindsey Beyerstein sums up the issues well:
The Obama administration has rebuffed the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other religious lobby groups seeking greater leeway for religiously-affiliated insurers to deny birth control coverage.

The existing exemption for churches will stand, but the feds will not expand the exemption to cover church-affilitated schools, hospitals, or universities.
Lindsey also points out that the fight is nowhere near over.

As I have written before, it makes little sense to define religious rights based on how someone with a certain religion may treat those of other religions or no religion at all, and that's what the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops essentially demands when it wants to have a say over what the employees of Catholic schools, hospitals or universities get in their coverage.

A much more logical way of doing this would be for the Conference of Catholic Bishops to demand that no person who has put her or his religion down as Catholic can qualify for contraceptive coverage, irrespective of their employer's religious views. I'm not supporting that reading at all. Just pointing out that if we base all this on religious affiliation, it should be the religious affiliation of the insured person which matters.

Fixing Those Predatory Sluts!

This is a peach! A story about a UK Member of the Parliament wanting teenaged girls, and only girls, to have extra sex education over and above what all teenagers get, and that on the desirability of abstinence!
MPs will debate a controversial bill on Friday calling for teenage girls to be given lessons in sexual abstinence.
The bill, proposed by Nadine Dorries, the Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire, would require schools to offer extra sex education classes to girls aged 13 to 16 and for these lessons to include advice on "the benefits of abstinence".
In May, MPs voted 67 to 61, majority six, in favour of allowing Dorries to bring forward her bill. It is listed to receive its second reading on Friday morning, though it is unlikely to become law without government support.
The bill has angered feminists, humanists and pro-abortionists, hundreds of whom will be demonstrating outside parliament while the debate takes place.
Beth Granter, a socialist and feminist who has organised the demonstration, predicts that at least 300 will join it. Some 750 have shown their support on Facebook.
The bill has elicited considerable criticism from politicians in all three of the main political parties.

It's not gonna pass, of course. But it's a good reminder of that distorted mirror world view of the extreme social conservatives everywhere!

And Dorries is refreshingly honest in her views. If they were presented to my imaginary alien friend from outer space, it/he/she/they would conclude that teenage girls are the sex predators of this planet, always pestering everyone for sex. Why else single them out for more abstinence exhortations than the boys?

Today's Cartoon

HERE. It's dedicated to me! Thank you so much, Spay.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

On This Reality Show. Or Yet Another Republican Debate.

That Republican presidential primaries are now on almost every night makes them into a television program. And the closest equivalent are Reality Shows.

Who will be voted off the island next? Who blurted out the most disgusting statement imaginable? And so on.

Watching the order in which candidates leave (or "suspend" their campaigns) is a fun exercise for social commentary. But it's somewhat scary that the finalists consist of these guys: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum.

Why scary? Because the United States of America is still a pretty powerful country, and we are watching something close to a reality show on who is going to challenge Barack Obama for the leadership of a sizable chunk of this world.

Things To Read

This Guttmacher report on global abortion trends.

The budget rumors. Liberals and progressives are forewarned that they won't like the budget.

This article from a week ago on breast implants. (If you happened to read the odd Slate piece on the return of the perky breasts, you need that for vaccination purposes. Or you could just read Kate Harding's funny take on it.)

Caitlin Flanagan's No-Boys Land

I have written quite a bit about Caitlin Flanagan and her opinions in the past, perhaps too much. But to understand her most recent arguments about "girlhood", it really is salutary to know what other things she advocates. Thus, here's a very old post by me on Flanagan's writings at the Atlantic Monthly, and here are a few other posts that might be of interest in this context: The Womanly Art of Self-Defense and Maggot Lace.

She has now written a new book, Girl Land, this time not about how housewifery is the only proper occupation for all women (save her), but on how to bring up girls in this corrupt culture (presumably to prepare them for proper housewifery). Emma Gilbey Keller reviews the book in the New York Times, and concludes:
I wish Flanagan had read less and listened more. Because real girls are absent from “Girl Land.” And so is their energy. Stereotypes don’t exactly bring a book to life. Nor do celebrities from the last century. Notwithstanding Flanagan’s stream of forceful assertions, “Girl Land” is a dusty, empty place, bearing little resemblance to your 21st-century daughter’s colorful, noisy, vibrant life.
Amanda at Pandagon has this to say:
Caitlin Flanagan gets a lot of attention because she's able to write in these elliptical, obtuse ways that seem really profound, which is why it's useful to listen to her on the radio, where she's forced to be more concise, revealing that she's just the same old culture warrior whose veneer of sophistication falls off at a sneeze, revealing the cranky (prematurely) old church lady underneath. That's why I recommend skipping her strange-sounding new book and listening instead to this interview on WBUR, which has the added bonus of Irin Carmon's presence as a sanity check. Listening to it, you realize that for all the puffery about girlhood fascinations and diaries, Flanagan is really only making one argument, one we know really well, that goes like this:
*Boys and men only care about sex, and mainly see girls and women as these tedious obstacles between them and pussy. 
*Girls and women only care about romance---the more princessy, the better---and see sex as this filthy ritual they have to perform in order to get it. 
*Therefore, women should use sex as a bartering chip to get men to pretend to like us. Actual affection from men is clearly impossible to get, but in Flanagan's view, women can get a semblance of self-respect by refusing to have sex with men until they play-act affection by taking us on some dates and letting us call them our boyfriends. According to Flanagan, not having a man hanging around pretending to like you in order to get his dick wet is a major tragedy, probably the worst thing that could happen to a woman. 
And that's about it.
I took Amanda's advice and listened to the radio interview. Flanagan attacks Carmon personally, in a weird interchange which amounts to Flanagan arguing that the measure of a good adolescence for girls is to have a boyfriend. If you didn't have one, then your adolescence was wasted.

She also argues that adolescent boys only want sex and will do whatever it takes to get it. Hence the idea that adolescent girls should require to be taken out to a date a couple of times first, instead of just "servicing" boys with blowjobs. Because the price of sex has just increased, the girls will be happier? They now had a boyfriend? Who only wanted to have sex?

It's hard for me to address Flanagan's theories as they are based on such an odd concept of what adolescent boys and adult men are all about. At the same time, she refuses to even look at the question what the culture might be teaching adolescent boys (this is very evident in the interview, the way she slithers away from any attempt to move the question to both boys and girls).

It is girls she wants to protect from Internet p*rnography, not boys. Presumably boys can learn any weird concept of sex from pron and then go out to the world Flanagan wants for dating, equipped with what ideas about girls? And Flanagan wants girls to base their expectations on the idea of romance only. Imagine the clashes! In what sense is not knowing about p*rnography protective for the girls?

The most interesting part of Flanagan's argument has to do with the absence of boys from it. They don't need protecting at all! It's natural for them to just want sex and to do whatever it takes! And it looks like that definition of sex can even come from pron, as far as Flanagan is concerned.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Tall Latte. Double Shot of Semen, Please.

Apropos of my post concerning what opposing abortion (and even contraception) and opposing same-sex marriage have in common:

I argued that both of those serve to prop up the rigid gender roles of the traditional marriage. And here we get (via Eschaton) a glimpse into that world!
A high-level Corbett administration adviser resigned his $104,470 position Tuesday after questions were raised about his outside role as editor of a conservative faith-based journal.
Along with disclosing welfare adviser Robert W. Patterson's departure, the administration swiftly distanced itself from the views expressed in the journal he edits.
Patterson was hired in October by Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander as a special assistant to help set policy for services provided to millions of Pennsylvanians through the Department of Public Welfare (DPW).
Last week, The Inquirer began asking about Patterson's side job as editor of The Family in America, published by an Illinois-based research center that advocates for the "natural human family . . . established by the Creator."
In the journal, Patterson has weighed in on everything from what he called "misguided" programs that grew out of the 1960s War on Poverty - programs now administered by DPW - to what he described as a woman's ideal role in society: married and at home raising children.
For instance, he wrote about research that he said showed that if women wanted to find "Mr. Right," they should shun birth control pills; and if they wanted to improve their mood, they should not insist that their men wear condoms lest they miss out on beneficial chemicals found in semen.
Carey Miller, spokeswoman for DPW, said Patterson submitted his letter of resignation Tuesday.

Love that idea of the beneficial chemicals found in semen! All coffee bars should sell a semen cappuccino! Hold the cream, double-shot of semen on bad-hair days! Even men could order it, to take advantage of those beneficial chemicals. And think of the jobs we'd create!

More seriously, of course, there you have it, the conservative religious gender agenda in all three Abrahamic religions. Women belong in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. Which is pretty odd, given that the Bible, for instance, says nothing about that.

Go Read Charles P. Pierce On Health Care

He is telling his own story about what it is like to have good health insurance in the US. Or one tiny aspect of that experience, but I bet it is an aspect many of you have also experienced. I certainly have.

A snippet or two:

Ultimately, after the nice pharmacist lady enters the proper launch codes, I wind up getting one of the two prescriptions I came for. ($600 co-pay, my arse, pal.). Today's scoreboard totals: almost four hours total, an hour or so on hold, four different companies, four different phone trees, 16-20 buttons pushed (I lost count), four different automated voices with which to chat, eight very polite but ultimately unhelpful purportedly live persons. One of two prescriptions filled.

And I'm one of the lucky ones. I can marginally afford to go through all this. I can just imagine what people on the low end of what is laughingly called a "system" must go through.

I mention all of this because, tomorrow night, the five remaining Republican candidates will get up on stage and they will promise to repeal even the tepid, insurance-friendly reform of the way we do health-care in this country.


Every single one of these Republicans will make the argument that, because of the entire morning I spent dealing with the preposterous way we do health-care in this country, that I am a "freer" person than are the people in Canada, or New Zealand, or Germany, or Finland. That I had to spend an entire morning mired in bureaucratic absurdity means I have retained my "freedom" as an American.
And of course Pierce's whole post is, as he writes, written by someone lucky. He can afford health insurance and he has the time, health and ability to fight the system though perhaps not to win that fight.

As I have written until boredom tears flow from my eyes, the market model is extremely problematic in health care. It simply does not work very well, and no country on this earth, not even the Wild West US of conservative dreams, can run a truly market-based health care system without very stringent regulations.

One very simple example of the ways health care markets fail is in the description Pierce gave us: The bureaucracy. Conservatives argue that it's the government which creates bureaucracy but nothing is as good at creating duplication and confusion and impossible-to-interpret clauses than the US private health insurance industry.

There are several reasons for that, but they ultimately boil down to two: The giant information problems which are inextricably tied to many forms health care services and the absence of economies to scale in the administration of the claims.

Though I must admit that Pierce's story also reminded me of the bank mergers in the 1990s when there were days I didn't know what my bank was currently called, and also the mortgage markets where the day's puzzle used to be "Who in the World Owns My Mortgage Today?" I'm not saying that these phenomena are the same in what caused them, though perhaps they are.

But they share in that feeling of increasing consumer powerlessness. You don't know who you are dealing with, you don't know whom to call, and the identity of the firm you signed your initial contract with has become utterly meaningless.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Nazgûl Rule in Wisconsin May Be In Trouble

The petition to recall Governor Scott Walker is going pretty well:
Organizers of the petition drive to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker submitted what appeared to be more than enough signatures on Tuesday to force the first-term Republican to defend his seat in a special election.

The group United Wisconsin, which opposes the collective bargaining changes and other measures Walker pushed into law last year, said it gathered more than 1 million signatures to recall the governor by the January 17 deadline -- roughly double the 540,208 signatures required.
If you are not familiar with this particular Ringwraith, you can read more about him in my archives.

The Ron-Paul-And-Progressives Brouhaha. Yves Smith Joins In.

The brouhaha over recent articles on Ron Paul and his possible progressive values has intensified. As I wrote below in a comment, the brouhaha is not created because several writers argued that we should take Ron Paul's anti-war agenda seriously and ask why other politicians, including the Democratic president, are not running on that part of Paul's agenda.

No. The brouhaha is based on something much sneakier, something akin to the Oppression Olympics debacle we went through during the 2008 Democratic Primaries. Those articles don't just talk about Paul's anti-war agenda. They also ask us to put those in one cup of the justice scales and to fill the other with Paul's views on race, women, the environment, health care, education and so on.

The implication is, as I wrote before, that we are asked to do deals with the devil. Those deals will reveal how much we really care about dead Iraqi children or dead Afghani women! Or conversely, how much we really care about whether Americans can be freely discriminated against, paid less, denied access and so on, as long as it's not the government which does it, although the federal government will ban abortion and stop regulating the environment.

So show me your real values! Let's do the ten kilometer hurdles in the Oppression Olympics! The fun thing about those hurdles is that the writers, in general, are not expected to run. They/we can just sit in the audience and cheer for the runners they have selected.

The outcome of all this is to create rifts among the liberals and progressives. That the question of wars is very important and well worth debating has receded into the background. And so has the apparently forgotten fact that Obama was touted as the anti-war candidate in 2008, even getting the Nobel Peace Prize for pretty much just his pre-election agenda. Noticing that he turned out to be something quite different should make any writer on this topic take Ron Paul's arguments with a biiig pinch of salt. Or snuff.

Add to that the very high likelihood that Ron Paul will NOT be the Republican candidate for the president of the United States of America. Then ask yourself what the real point of these debates is.

If it is to get an anti-war movement going again, great. If it is to point out that the Democratic Party is almost exactly as bound to corporate interests as the Republican Party, great.

If it is something like this*, not so great:
It should not be controversial to point out that the Democratic party uses identity politics as a cover for its policy of selling out the middle class to banks and big corporate interests, just on a slower and stealthier basis than the right. And we’ve seen the identity card used in a remarkably dishonest manner in this Ron Paul contretemps.


Ah, the gender baiting card! No women or non whites have anything nice to say about Ron Paul! That’s patently untrue, but identity bigots like Pollitt apparently can’t wrap their minds around the notion that many people see themselves as citizens first and their demography second, and can and do have nuanced views based on how they weigh multiple political considerations: class, concentration of power, rule of law, civil liberties, and gender/race/sexual orientation. I’m not a Paul booster, yet I applaud his effort to curb the Fed, which has circumvented Constitutional budgetary processes to support a predatory financial services industry, as well as his criticism of Iran war-mongering. The fact that I ran a piece on how Paul is inconvenient to liberals meant I support this view, but Pollitt omits anything that undermines her tidy Obama-defending narrative.
But most important, I object to the presumption of the Pollitt position, that right-thinking women of the left-leaning persuasion must of course agree with her. I find myself appalled by the culture, such that it is, of soi-disant progressives in DC. That isn’t to say that there aren’t many talented individuals laboring to make things better. But from what I can tell, their efforts are too often at odds with and deliberately undermined by a puerile, often vicious style of discourse that values petty conformity over substantive contributions. And the sacred cow of petty conformity is political correctness (well, unless you are a “progressive” woman, that makes is OK to yell “white male oppressor” when you run out of arguments).

Strong, eh? Yves Smith is a woman who writes under a male pseudonym. That information is necessary to understand that she tells us she doesn't have identity politics herself, that she is not an identity bigot.

I find the term "identity politics" an interesting one. It's a euphemism, of course, intended to label certain individuals' views as based on nothing but selfishness. That all politics is based on one's identity, to some extent, at least, is ignored. Think of the "We Are The 99%" slogan. That's about identity. Belonging to the middle class or not defines part of one's identity. Being a pacifist or not defines part of one's identity. But it's only certain types of identity that the term "identity bigot" could possibly apply to.

Then of course the Republican Party uses identity politics (defined in the sense Yves uses it) All The Time to disguise the robbing of everyone but the 1%. It's just identity politics with a very different smell or reek, focusing on Them (the east coast elitists, the commies in the White House, the illegal immigrants, the terrorists, the abortionists, the atheists, the uppity women).

It is impossible NOT to do identity politics. If we are to remove any demands for fair treatment of women and minorities from the political arena, the outcome will not be some kind of neutrality. The outcome will be that the other side's identity politics will prevail. And I very much doubt that what we could buy with those concessions would be a world without war.
*Yves is responding to this article by Katha Pollitt. Pollitt and Greenwald discuss the issues at Blogginheads. The discussion is well worth watching. Pollitt apologizes for getting Greenwald's stance wrong in her article and the two hash out the issues in a friendly debate.

Connect The Dots: On Opposition to Abortion and the Defense of Traditional Marriage

Atrios wrote this on Monday (in reference to this Pandagon post):
As I've [stated] before, I get why people oppose abortion but really don't get see any semi-rational reason for spending your time trying to ruin the lives of gay and lesbian people. And, no, the religion reason is no reason, as 'ruining the lives of gay and lesbian people' really isn't too near the top of the Jesus agenda.
I know what he means by that comment, of course. It has to do with the beliefs one has about when independent and separate human life begins. (I myself believe that it begins smack at the moment sperm is created! This is the little homunculus argument well known from history, and should be given the same consideration other beliefs get.)

On the other hand, the literalist Biblical case against abortion is extremely weak.

But instead of further discussing the ways anti-choice and anti-GLBT views might differ, I prefer to discuss what these two have in common.

And that is the way they serve to bolster traditional gender roles inside families.

Think of the shape the ideal marriage takes in the mind of, say, Rick Santorum: The married couple have separate and unequal roles. The husband is the head of the household, the breadwinner and the priest of the family congregation. The wife is the helpmate of the husband, under his dominion. Her task is to have children and to take care of them, possibly including home schooling them. Her own place is at home unless the husband otherwise decrees.

What threatens this traditional marriage? Clearly both reproductive choice for women and same-sex marriage do.

The more control women have over their own bodies, the less they need to depend on the patriarchal arrangements for the sake of survival. The more control women have over the spacing of their pregnancies, the more control women will have over their own education and their own working lives. This gives women more options than the traditional patriarchal marriage arrangement.

Given this, the traditionalists would be predicted to be opposed to not only abortion but also to any contraception that is not in the hands of men. And lo and behold!, that's exactly what the traditionalists are opposed to: The plan B, the contraceptive pill and the intrauterine devices!

Likewise, same-sex marriage threatens the stability of the patriarchal marriage. If men are supposed to be the heads of the families and women the obedient helpmates, the existence of gay and lesbian couples is deeply problematic. It's as if some of these new families have two heads and some have no heads at all!

When these same-sex partnerships are successful and bring up happy and healthy children, the argument for the necessity of the traditional gendered division of labor within the patriarchal families is severely weakened.

No wonder that those who support male supremacy would be as frightened by the movement for GLBT rights as by reproductive rights. Both types of rights threaten something the traditionalists hold dear, something they wish to defend. It's just not marriage itself but a patriarchal marriage.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Guest Post by Anna: A Literary Canon of Women Writers, Part Fifteen: The Twenty-First Century

Echidne's note: Earlier parts of this series can be found here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 ,Part 5, Part 6, Part 7,Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12,Part 13 and Part 14

Indira Goswami (14 November 1942 – 29 November 2011), known by her pen name Mamoni Raisom Goswami and popularly as Mamoni Baideo, was an Assamese editor, poet, professor, scholar and writer. She was the winner of the Jnanpith Award (2001) and Principal Prince Claus Laureate (2008).

A celebrated writer of contemporary Indian literature, her works include include Pages Stained With Blood (2001, a novel that depicts the Sikh massacre in Delhi in the aftermath of the assassination of the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in June 1984) , The Moth Eaten Howdah of the Tusker (2004, a novel about the beginning of independence for India), and The Man from Chinnamasta (2005, a novel opposing animal sacrifice.)

These are widely available in English.

Zadie Smith (born on 25 October 1975) is a British novelist. To date she has written three novels. In 2003, she was included on Granta's list of 20 best young authors.

Her most famous novel is White Teeth (2000), which focuses on the later lives of two wartime friends - the Bangladeshi Samad Iqbal and the Englishman Archie Jones - and their families in London. The book won multiple honors, including the 2000 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction, the 2000 Whitbread Book Award in category best first novel, the Guardian First Book Award, the Commonwealth Writers First Book Prize, and the Betty Trask Award. Time magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005. It is widely available in English.

Téa Obreht (born Tea Bajraktarević on September 30, 1985) is an American novelist of Bosniak/Slovene descent, born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, now Serbia.

Her debut novel, The Tiger's Wife (2011), won the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction, making her the youngest novelist ever to win the prize. The novel features a young doctor's relationship with her grandfather and the stories he tells her. These stories concern a "deathless man" who meets him several times in different places and never grows old, and a deaf-mute girl from his childhood village who befriends a tiger that escaped from a zoo. This novel is widely available in English.


So that concludes my literary canon of women writers. However, there are undoubtedly many worthy women I didn't have the time or knowledge to cover. Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments. I hope you have enjoyed this series.