Friday, July 11, 2014

My Vacation

I'm going to be traveling during the next month, partly on vacation, partly not.  There will be some new posts during that time but not as regularly as normally.  I have also prepared some look-back and survey posts which should be of interest to some of you, and I kept back a few posts that I wrote just for this time period.

The blog is this famish-machine, by the way.  The minute you feed it is the minute it needs to be fed again.  But if I do that non-stop, I start running on empty myself, so a vacation is necessary. 

It's necessary for all of us and I hope very much that you, too, can get some time off, to go out and enjoy the nature, to spend time with people and animals you appreciate, to recharge your batteries.

The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. A Re-Post

From last March.  I write about money in the US politics a lot, because the current system results in every dollar having an equal say in our shared concerns, and because dollars are unevenly divided between the actual voters this Dollar Democracy is very very bad news for real democracy.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Speed-Blogging, 7/10/14: Lighter Topics (Todd Akin, Looks and Susan Patton's Advice To the Womankind)

1.  Todd Akin is baa-a-ck His new book tells us a lot about the battle inside the Republican Party on the best ways not to attract female voters (because the voters they get with the opposite strategy, the current one, might be lost!):

 In other cases, they’re wrong – much of the Republican establishment knows the party has gone too far in demonizing women. But they’ve humored them, trading women’s freedom for wingnut votes for more than 30 years, and they don’t know how to kick the habit.

2.  This Gallup survey about how people feel when it comes to their looks is fascinating.  In a nutshell, white people become more dissatisfied by their physical appearance in middle age, and it is white people who are least satisfied with their looks over their lifetimes.  The expected gender difference is there, with women less satisfied than men, but the difference almost disappears in old age.

Theorizing about this is probably premature, but surely the cultural values concerning beauty matter here, as well as the quantitative domination of white images of beauty in the media.

3.  Fox News never disappoints.  In the recent past they've told women not to talk so much if they want to get ahead in business and then they had an interview with Susan Patton, who is regarded as an expert in something or other.  I'm not quite sure how she became an expert, but she is best known (or only known?) for telling female students at Princeton to spend most of their time on husband hunting.

Patton argues that feminism has made women into horrible entitled princesses who no longer attend to their husbands or ask if they'd like a drink after a long day at work or ask what they'd want for dinner.  She then says that women better shape up because they will lose that husband of theirs and then they will end up all alone except with cats.

It's really fun stuff, like telling you how to catch a fish you don't really want to eat but if you don't catch it you will go hungry.  In that sense it reminds me of so much anti-feminist writing:  misandrist crap, most of it, telling us that men are uncontrollable sexual beasts or unfeeling food-and-sex machines and that's why women must subjugate themselves and cater to all those needs but only in marriage.  The advice is threat-based, in general, and that's the case with Patton's advice, too:  Women won't be able to have heterosexual partnership unless they agree to traditional gender roles. 

It's sad, in a way, like listening to someone very dysfunctional talking about relationships.  In my world you pay attention to your partner because you appreciate him or her for those personal qualities and because you are a team and because that's how the world of intimate relationships works best.  Compare that to the idea that if you don't accept one type of crap you will end up in worse crap, and then tell me that it's feminist ideas which made women into entitled princesses.

Patton's evidence on all her arguments seems pulled out from her personal experiences or made up, by the way.  I may be wrong as I haven't seen her writing on the topic.

Pink Opinions. A Re-Post

I wrote about girly opinion writing in 2012, and the post still stands.  If I rewrote the post I'd make it stronger when it comes to the negative comments female writers get on the Internet.  Writing As Female has very clear additional hazards.

The post is also worth reading because of the way we label stuff girly or studmuffinly.  That labeling often has no other basis than the desire to make our imaginary gender boxes have stronger walls.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Indra K. Nooyi, PepsiCo CEO, Can't "Have It All."

Why PepsiCo CEO Indra K. Nooyi can't "have it all."    You know, "have it all" in the sense of women having both high-level careers and families.

Well, that's what the term usually means.  It's not applied to men, because the traditional gendered division of labor means that men in traditional marriages can have both a high-level career and a family.  Nobody asks the male CEOs if they can "have it all,"  and mostly the cultural standards of fathering are low enough that someone working eighty-hour weeks qualifies.

But of course nobody, whether male or female, can "have it all."  And Nooyi's comments are not really about having both a family and a career but about the idea that the mother (and only she) should do all the care-giving, cooking, meal planning, cleaning, scheduling, transporting  and the emotional upkeep of other family members.  What Nooyi is really saying is that she can't "do it all."

In particular, she cannot be both the CEO of PepsiCo and a traditional Indian (I assume) daughter and wife.  That she judges herself from that angle and that others judge her from that angle, too, is pretty clear from the piece, and I get the impression that her husband is not expected to share in those household duties much.

The point:  We should stop viewing family-work balance as a women's issue only, because viewing it that way maintains the implicit assumption that mothers somehow are the only ones responsible for everything to do with the hands-on care of families

Having said that, my guess is that most every single high-powered CEO out there spends relatively little time with his or her family, because that's what the cultural expectations are.  The enormous salaries are based on the assumption that the CEO is married to the corporation (or that the CEO is the parent of the corporation.)  To single out female CEOs for closer criticism is predicated on the basis of traditional gender norms.  Of the type which are visible as the framework of the linked interview.

It's true, of course, that nobody can "have it all."  Just thought to mention that, before I point out that wanting both a family and meaningful work shouldn't be made so hard in the US labor markets.  More men need to start demanding work-life balance (proper vacations, more time at home than it takes to sleep, the chance to see the children when they are not asleep and so on), because if that balance is seen as a girly issue it will not be taken seriously.

Ultimately  that issue will affect even the workers who are not well-paid.  Paid parental leave, paid annual vacations and sticking to a forty-hour workweek would be good news for almost all the workers in this country.

Monday, July 07, 2014

How Women's Brain Works When Picking Mates Revealed

That's the title of a piece popularizing the message of three studies.

The three studies are about fruit flies.  But even that Science Daily summary suggests that we can draw important conclusions from girl fruit flies which might apply to human chicks:

What are the complex processes in the brain involved with choosing a mate, and are these processes different in females versus males? It's difficult to study such questions in people, but researchers are finding clues in fruit flies that might be relevant to humans and other animals.
Or perhaps not.  I've never before realized that fruit flies can so well stand for humans in various studies.  Imagine all the money we can save by just doing fruit fly studies in medicine!  Eggs can stand for babies and so on, and the sexual behavior of fruit flies can make studies of human sexuality unnecessary:

Males perform a sequence of five behavioral patterns to court females. First, males orient themselves while playing a courtship song by horizontally extending and vibrating their wings. Soon after, the male positions itself at the rear of the female's abdomen in a low posture to tap and lick the female genitalia. Finally, the male curls its abdomen, and attempts copulation. Females can reject males by moving away, kicking and extruding their ovipositor. Copulation lasts around 15–20 minutes,[13] during which males transfer a few hundred very long (1.76 mm) sperm cells in seminal fluid to the female.[14] Females store the sperm in a tubular receptacle and in two mushroom-shaped spermathecae, sperm from multiple matings compete for fertilization.

I bolded the part which relates to the topic of this post.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

The Ur-Slut and Pay-For-Your-Own Fornication. How Conservatives Respond to Worries About the Hobby Lobby Decision.

It's fun to find out what one conservative pundit thinks about the Hobby Lobby decision and liberal and feminist reactions to it.   The following retweet  by Erick Erickson  gives you the flavor of much of the argument I spotted on Twitter:  That liberals and feminists are irrational and hysterical:

I'm so glad there's no conservative war on women, because if there was such a thing, the above retweet could provide ammunition for those ghastly hysterical feminazis!  The ones who have  bunny-fu**ed their brains out, who desperately look for their hysterically wandering uteri and who equally desperately look for a governmental Sugar Daddy, especially  if they are single and BeyoncĂ©-voters.  That's because in the  worldview of these guys all single women must be  sucking off the teat of the government sow, when they should be --- err --- supported by husbands.  Because all women are supported by someone!

It took me quite a long time to understand that basic assumption:  Women are assumed not to have paid jobs, even if they do have them.  It keeps the conservative parables cleaner and clearer, but it's tough for a hard-working goddess to decipher them.

Speaking of deciphering stuff, here's Erick Son of Erick (raises a horn of mead to him) in a tweet which made him even more famous than he already was:

This is such fun!  What's consequence-free sex?  No orgasms?  No snoring next to you after sex? No sexually transmitted diseases?

Let's take that tweet apart, because it's informative about the conservative and pro-life beliefs in general: