Friday, July 13, 2018

Weekend Reading: Other News About Women And Religion Etc.

The news snippets in the post are collected over time.  Some are very recent, others are a little older, but they are all of some interest, even though the urgency of the Trump reality has pushed them aside. I have marked some items with a plus-sign and some items with a minus-sign, depending on whether I view the news good or bad.

1 (-)  There are all sorts of far right men's organizations today, such as the Proud Boys.  Its founder, Gavin McInnes,  tells us that the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is great news for the patriarchy*.  By that McInnes literally means that men have the power, women obey, and all women should really stay at home, under the leadership of their lord and master.   And part of that plan, of course, is the denial of reproductive rights for women.

It's bitterly hilarious how similar those goals are to the gender-related goals of ISIS, given that the US far right pretends to hate ISIS.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Trump Goes To Europe

I have been reading about Trump's European policies. They are a fun reminder of the fact that those who voted for Trump are getting closer to breaking the whole world.  I have been told that they wanted change, and change they are getting.  If the outcome in foreign politics is a bit like hiring a hurricane to redecorate the living-room, well, the client knew the decorator is a hurricane, right?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

We Cannot have Enough Laughs With Brett Kavanaugh

That would be the Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's choice to replace Anthony Kennedy who is retiring from the Supreme Court.  Kavanaugh is a Catholic conservative guy and a white guy.  Nothing wrong with being any of those things, of course, though it's a little weird that Catholics are 22% of the US population, but 55% of the Supreme Court Justices*.  On the other hand, the white guy over-representation** can be explained easily by noting that the Republican Party is largely ruled by white guys, and that the world is mostly ruled by guys.

Here are a few fun things about the way various pundits and media giants have approached the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh:

First, the august Gray Lady, the New York Times, rushed a fun opinion piece into print yesterday.  It tells us liberals why Kavanaugh is really good for us.  The Gray Lady posted something similar about Neil Gorsuch earlier:

I immediately thought of all little bunny rabbits getting an email explaining to them why smart foxes are much better representatives of their interests than stupid foxes. 

Second, Byron York, a conservative commentator, tells us that Brett Kavanaugh respects women:

BYRON YORK (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): On the women's issue, obviously a lot of women voted for Donald Trump and if you looked at that ceremony last night, there was a lot of talk about Brett Kavanaugh's respect for, relationships with women. He has two daughters, he coaches their basketball teams. He reveres his mother, who is a teacher who went to law school and then became a judge. He talked a lot about the role of women in his life and the important roles that they play, women of accomplishment. He talked about hiring clerks, a majority of whom were women in his role as a circuit court of appeals judge. So there are two sides to that angle and I think you will hear a lot about Brett Kavanaugh's respect for women. 

Bolds are mine.

I come out in a nettle rash whenever I see the word "respect" applied to large demographic groups, not to something an individual has achieved or said,  because there's usually a hidden intention in that, more clearly put in this quote from the Turkish dictator, Recep Erdogan, in 2014:

"You cannot put women and men on an equal footing," he told a meeting in Istanbul. "It is against nature."


Women cannot do all the work done by men, he added, because it was against their "delicate nature".
"Our religion regards motherhood very highly," he said. "Feminists don't understand that, they reject motherhood."
He said women needed equal respect rather than equality.

And also from Erdogan in 2014:

“Our religion [Islam] has defined a position for women: motherhood,” Erdoğan said at a summit in Istanbul on justice for women, speaking to an audience including his own daughter Sumeyye.
“Some people can understand this, while others can’t. You cannot explain this to feminists because they don’t accept the concept of motherhood.”
He recalled: “I would kiss my mother’s feet because they smelled of paradise. She would glance coyly and cry sometimes.
“Motherhood is something else,” he said, claiming that it should be a woman’s priority because Islam exalts women as mothers.

Bolds are mine, again.  Note the similar references to respect and to reverence.  Note the similar absence of equality of men and women as a possibility.

I also get these allergic reactions whenever I see the argument that societies should preserve "women's dignity."  The Catholic conservatives often use that formulation, presumably because it would be terribly undignified to see a woman attempt something and then see her flop on her face, maybe with her knickers showing.  So better not to let her try.   — The religious conservatives never speak about "men's dignity."

So, to translate all that into the world of bunny rabbits and foxes:  As long as the bunny rabbits act like nice little bunny rabbits, they will be respected and revered before being fricassed.

Enough with the fun stuff.  What's the planned role of Brett Kavanaugh***?

Your guess is as good as mine, but he just might be designed to guarantee that Roe v. Wade will be killed a slow death, with the thousand loving cuts by a conservative knife.  That's because a quick overturning Roe v. Wade would probably not be good for Republican votes.  Many single-issue (forced-birth) voters might then not bother to vote at all or might even vote for Democrats, and some women might even get a bit angry.

But those kinds of delicate manipulations are difficult to achieve, so we might just be prepared to kiss federal abortion rights a nice goodbye.  They are dead in practice in many areas already.


*  Or more, if we count by religious upbringing rather than what church the Justice currently belongs to, because Justice Neil Gorsuch  grew up as a Catholic but now attends an Episcopalian church. 

The over-representation of Jewish people is even larger, given that the percentage of Jewish Justices currently on the bench is  33% while Jews are 1.9% or 2% of the US population, though it's important to remember that the representation of small population groups in such small samples (n=9) cannot match their population percentages, except on average,  over exceedingly long time periods.  Indeed, even one Justice who is, say, Native American, would over-represent that demographic group while on bench. 

More generally, to evaluate the representativeness of these choices we would need to have data on the religions of all people who have legal training and experience sufficient to qualify them for the bench.

Still, it's fair to point out that the overall number of women who have ever served on the Supreme Court is dismally small, compared to the fact that women are one half of the general population.

And yes, I am aware of the No Religious Test clause.  It's still of some concern to note that so many men on the bench are conservative Catholics, given that the Catholic Church does not approve of abortion or even of contraception.  Access to contraception is an absolute prerequisite for women's social, political and economic equality. 

** Trump has been appointing white men into the judiciary at rates not seen for thirty years:

So far, 91 percent of Trump's nominees are white, and 81 percent are male, an Associated Press analysis has found. Three of every four are white men, with few African-Americans and Hispanics in the mix. The last president to nominate a similarly homogenous group was George H.W. Bush.

The group that is qualified for those jobs, especially when they must also be Republicans,  is probably whiter and more male than the general population.  But that alone doesn't explain the tilt Trump is bringing back.  As a reminder,  white men are roughly 32% of Americans in general, but 55% of the Justices on the bench.

***  Some cynical people say that Trump picked him because Kavanaugh might now be open to the idea that a sitting president might be exempt from criminal prosecution.  Should come in handy if Trump is found guilty in the Mueller investigation and then appeals that finding to the Supreme Court.  Well, a goddess can dream of something like that happening, though it will not.