Thursday, November 20, 2014

All the New Republican House Committee Chairs Share One Thing

They are all men:

Notably, none of the new House committee chairs are women. Current House Administration Committee Chairwoman Candice Miller (R-Mich.) remains the only female on the roster of panel leaders, which was announced earlier.

Is "House Administration" like housekeeping?

The Republican Party sighed a great sigh of relief after deciding that the war-against-women issues didn't seem to work in the last midterm elections.  Now they can run the party the way it should be run, as an old white boys' tree-house, and ignore those pesky wimminz' issues.

All this is hilarious.  Or would be hilarious if I was reporting on it from outside the country and if the Republican Party didn't vote almost 100% against everything that would make women's lives easier (family leave, equal pay, contraceptive choice etc. etc.)

But there's a technical reason for that dearth of women on the top of the Republican pyramid:  There aren't that many Republican women in the Congress in the first place, so the pipeline is nearly empty (or the oven turned off).

PS. I always remind readers in these posts that the relevant way to judge "diversity" is by thinking about population percentages and how well the percentages in the Congress reflect those.  From that angle Republican women are sorely under-represented. 

A Housekeeping Post

Can you see the comments link when you read the blog?  I noticed that my SeaMonkey (a backup browser) doesn't show the comments link at all.  If you use SeaMonkey, do you see a door to the comments?  It should be right below each post.

Anything else I should know?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

When Life Gives You Don Lemon...

(This post is about sexual and physical violence.)

The background to this story is a vast and tentacled one*,  about the fifteen (so far) women who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault at some point of  his long acting career.  One of those women, Joan Tarshis, was interviewed by Don Lemon about her experiences.  The transcript:

LEMON: Can I ask you this, because -- and please, I don't mean to be crude, OK? 


LEMON: Because I know some of you -- and you said this last night, that he -- you lied to him and said "I have an infection, and if you rape me, or if you do -- if you have intercourse with me, then you will probably get it and give it to your wife."

TARSHIS: Right. 

LEMON: And you said he made you perform oral sex. 

TARSHIS: Right. 

LEMON: You -- you know, there are ways not to perform oral sex if you didn't want to do it.
TARSHIS: Oh. Um, I was kind of stoned at the time, and quite honestly, that didn't even enter my mind. Now I wish it would have. 

LEMON: Right. Meaning the using of the teeth, right? 

TARSHIS: Yes, that's what I'm thinking you're --

LEMON: As a weapon. 

TARSHIS: Yeah, I didn't even think of it. 

LEMON: Biting. So, um --


LEMON: Yes. I had to ask. I mean, it is, yeah.

TARSHIS: Yes. No, it didn't cross my mind.
On one level Lemon asks one of those questions which are commonly asked of people who come forward only a long time after an alleged sexual assault:  Why didn't you go to the police then?  Why didn't you resist or resist more?  Why did you go out with him (or ended up alone with him) in the first place?

Some ask those questions because they wish to ascertain (from the answers) the truthfulness of the allegations or because they wish to give the person interviewed a chance to explain her or his reasons for staying silent such a long time.  Some ask those questions as a form of victim-blaming, and some appear just clueless.

I think Don Lemon falls into that last category, though I'm willing to put him into all the categories if he so wishes.  But it's clueless to suggest that a woman in those circumstances should bite the man's penis,  perhaps to bite it off (thus causing him potentially to bleed to death).

Consider the circumstances:  You are alone with a man larger and stronger than you, a man much more powerful and famous than you, and you are told to escalate the situation by biting his penis.   What could possibly go wrong?

A lot could go wrong, both immediately (risk of physical violence increases, someone might die) and in the longer-run (a possible court case about excess use of force in self defense, combined with trying to prove the sexual assault in the first place (so that it is just excess force in self defense, not in an attack), a probable end to one's current career plans, stigmatization for life if the case becomes public).  Indeed, the circumstances in which biting-the-penis results in a happy ending for the victim are extremely improbable.

I can't believe I actually wrote the above paragraph!  But then Lemon's comments would have seemed pretty incredible a few days ago.
*Even vaster if you set it into the framework shared by Jhian Ghomeshi, a Canadian television celebrity who has recently been accused of hitting and choking women he dated.  Ghomeshi's defense is that he was acting the sadist's role in a fully consenting sado-masochistic relationship.  The women who have come forward say that they were not asked for consent and did not consent.

That larger framework is about more questions:  The power of the powerful, the pitfalls of power, the differences and similarities between those cases and the alleged or proven sexual and/or violent assault cases by less powerful individuals.

The imbalance of power in the Cosby and Ghomeshi cases has received shorter shrift than it deserves. It doesn't only affect the initial settings of the alleged acts but the likely consequences of reporting the acts to the authorities. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

And A Little More About That Shirt Debacle: Glenn Reynolds Chips In.

In some ways it really began as a storm in a teacup, and I missed the ball on something important when writing my previous post, though Crissa in the comments pointed the omission out:  There was no big feminist uproar about the shirt-with-the-leather-corseted-women, if by "big" we mean something written out on very large numbers of feminist blogs and/or talked about on various list-serves.

Indeed, after I checked all this, I found nothing about the shirt on those list-serves.  Glenn Reynolds (newly come to his full blossoming as an MRA (Men's Rights Activist)) also tells us is that there really wasn't much of a storm in the first place.  He states that two women whose jobs are linked to science commented on the shirt:

The Atlantic's Rose Eveleth tweeted, "No no women are toooootally welcome in our community, just ask the dude in this shirt." Astrophysicist Katie Mack commented: "I don't care what scientists wear. But a shirt featuring women in lingerie isn't appropriate for a broadcast if you care about women in STEM." And from there, the online feminist lynch mob took off until Taylor was forced to deliver a tearful apology on camera.
I'm not sure what this online feminist lynch mob looks like.  It couldn't have been enormous, because I missed it for quite a time. But sure, there were a few blog posts on the shirt.

What Glenn Reynolds seems to have missed is the responses Rose Eveleth, for instance, received.  They are not mentioned in his article so I'm going to put a few of them here:

Those are good to keep in mind when thinking about this bit from Glenn:

"Mean girls" online mobbing may be fun for some, but it's not likely to appeal for long. If self-proclaimed feminists have nothing more to offer than that sort of bullying, then their obsolescence is well deserved.
Added later:  It's almost impossible to measure various "mobs" on Twitter.  They could be a handful of people in some cases and a large group in other cases.  So we should be careful when using words like a "Twitter mob".  What can be measured, to some extent, is the number of responses individual tweeters get.