Category Archives: Undead sexist cliches

New And column and a few other links

My new column is out, on why “It’s my religion!” isn’t a defense from criticism when you’re advocating for political positions.
•Why the issues involved in the GM recall—the NTSB’s failure to act, GM’s claim that it isn’t liable for damages post-bankruptcy—can affect even those of us who don’t drive General Motors.
•Updating one of the posts I linked to here, General Mills has decided not to mandate arbitration on people who like its Facebook page.
•Defeating the Dragons on gender essentialism, the view male and female are exactly One Way. The post is about more than that, but her discussion of the topic is very good.
•This Ruthless World takes a tongue-in-cheek look at how great art is thinly veiled liberal propaganda.

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Or all the links with oysters

Are wellness programs just a way to shift more of the costs of healthcare to employees? And do they ignore that the workplace environment can drive some people to bad health habits?
•Paul Krugman reminds us, once again, that blind defiance of the facts is not something both sides do equally.
•A blogger responds to Christians who want to hate what they think is a sin—homosexuality—while loving the sinner.
•A great older post by Echidne responding to the argument that if pay discrimination were a thing, companies would just hire women instead of men and pay them less. One of her points is that employers may dislike women or consider them less skilled than men, in which case the pay differential reflects their worth, not (the employer assumes) bias. Or customers may dislike working with a woman. Or the employer/customer may find fault with her work, thinking they’re being objective.
•The Baffler’s Kathleen Geier points out the shocking revelation of Michael Lewis’ Flash Boys—the stock market is rigged—isn’t a revelation. Which is a good point: Secrets of the Street, which must be around 20 years old, made exactly the same discovery. But as she notes, acting constantly shocked avoids looking at how bad the whole mess is.
•The tech world continues to be heavily sexist.
•Chelsea Clinton is pregnant. And pro-choice. Unsurprisingly some right-wingers freak out that someone can simultaneously believe in the right to abortion and get pregnant.
•Do we need all our nuclear arsenal?
•Best way to deal with wage theft? How about prison?
•Big finance companies are now investing in rental property. Rents are rising, and some fear a new bubble.
•If you like General Mills on Facebook or otherwise interact with them online, you can’t sue them (at least that’s the plan).
•However a court has ruled that corporations can’t sue the government in secret just to protect their rep.

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Woman criticizes comic book cover. Rape threats follow.

Yesterday, I linked to this post by former DC editor Janelle Asselin focusing on the cover for the first issue of the relaunched Teen Titans.
teen-titans-1-c63faHer criticisms include:
•Wonder Girl’s boobs are about the size of her head. Clearly not natural. And for someone whose physically active, the top ain’t going to keep them covered. And she is, after all, a 16-year-old girl.
•The cover layout doesn’t make the Titans look like a team, and makes it unclear who they are, how they relate or even that Raven’s a woman.
•Given that the Teen Titans TV show had and still has a large female fandom, the cover of a relaunch ought to connect with some of those fans, instead of which it’s likely a turn-off.
All of which seems reasonable to me. But unsurprisingly, somewhere in Internet geekdom, this was taken as a hideous attack on all that was good, so the inevitable response was Asselin receiving rape threats online.
Amanda Marcotte wonders why comics geeks are freaking out? Is there anything in their view of comics that would be spoiled by having WG with smaller breasts? Can’t they just get their big-breast fix elsewhere? Her conclusion: the mere fact the issue is raised makes some guys feel less secure in the superiority they assume their Y chromosome gives them.
Dr. Nerdlove points out that this is basically insane: No matter what the rationalization, threatening someone with rape because they don’t like the way Wonder Girl is drawn is just wrong (threatening someone with rape period is wrong). And no, it’s not just part of the trash talk that gets thrown about online because men don’t get that treatment, even writing about the same issues.
His theory: Some geeks love the image of themselves as Clark Kents (persecuted, mocked, yet superior though nobody knows) too much to tolerate criticism that implies geekdom isn’t quite as cool. Which would make sense, I think: Pretty much every community reacts with hostility to criticism from anyone considered an outsider (churches, the military, businesses, doctors, etc.). Only it still doesn’t justify rape threats (and no, I’m not going to have a startling twist in my logic further down. Nothing justifies rape threats).
And for some people, he suggests, sexual harassment is just part of the fun of being a gamer/comics fan/nerd.
Any of these may be true, or true for a particular harasser. Another factor is that some guys simply prefer existing in an all-male community, or one where women are only allowed, rather than by right. Maybe they enjoy the atmosphere more. Or they may define their manhood, as many people do, by the fact they’re doing guy stuff—stuff women don’t do or participate in. When women move in to the community, it’s no longer a guy thing, so how do you prove your male bonafides then?
And of course, none of this is unique to geeks, or to any community. Like I said, every organized group seems to flinch from discussing this sort of thing. So maybe there’s no defining lesson to be drawn, other than sexual harassment is common everywhere (female political bloggers get hit with threats too).
But that’s also irrelevant. Because rape threats and sexual harassment are wrong, period (and if men were getting rape threats, those would be wrong, too). Belittling someone because of their gender (or race, religion, nationaliy etc.) is wrong. Whatever the reason, whatever the motivation, whichever community, they’re wrong. And there is no excuse.
(Cover by Kenneth Rocafort. All rights with current holder)

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So what have the religious right been doing lately?

Southern Baptist spokesman Daniel Darling insists, contrary to statistics, that evangelical conservative churches are drawing young believers. It’s only soft liberal churches preaching “the gospel of nice” that lose the young. As Slacktivist points out, the Bible has a lot to say about compassion and what might be called niceness. And as noted at the first link, a lot of its un-nice vitriol is reserved for the rich and powerful.
Despite which, Bryan Fischer (the man who believes the First Amendment is only for Christians) believes the poor should kneel down and kiss the ground where the rich walk because the rich pay the taxes that pay for welfare.
And here we have another true believer declaring her disgust for the Nabisco Honey Grahams pro-gay ad.
Oh, and here’s Rachel Held Evans on how evangelical churches continue driving away anyone who believes in social justice.
•Slacktivist has often noted that right-wing Protestants did not universally condemn abortion after Roe vs. Wade. Case in point, the Southern Baptists were fine with it.
•Meanwhile, Tennessee cracks down on women who use drugs while pregnant. And more and more right-wingers are pushing personhood measures that give the fetus full legal rights. This doesn’t lead anywhere good.

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And all the seas do link

Phyliss Schaffly explains that increasing the wage gap between men and women can be a good thing, as more women will be able to find a husband who earns more than they do. As Echidne notes at the link, Schaffly has built an activist career out of telling women their careers are not important.
•Yes, what we did to prisoners under the Bush administration was torture. And we should call it by that name, because “harsh interrogation” just makes it easier for our leaders to excuse it.
•Tax-prep companies such as Turbotax are pushing against the idea of the IRS figuring out people’s taxes—and using religious and business groups as a front.
•Comcast’s proposed Time-Warner merger could lead to everyone enduring data caps on Internet use. Even without data caps, the industry has ways to squeeze content providers (and thereby consumers).
•Fear of witches can turn into child abuse.
•More on our government’s willingness to use social media as propaganda tools.
•A learning disabled teen catches his bullies on iPad. The result? The school punishes him for “wiretapping.”
•As you may have heard, a rancher who refuses to pay his federal-land grazing fees to the government is now claiming persecution. And the government has gotten out of hand, tasering his son for objecting (as Digby points out, there’s nothing political in that: taser abuse has been a problem for years). As LGM notes, all that said, the guy was clearly in the wrong, a welfare queen who wants to suck off the government teat. But rightbloggers are suddenly fine with that.
•A conservative pastor abuses a teenager, then (according to a lawsuit) warns her that if she goes public, she’ll be known as “damaged goods.”
•Forget malls. Restaurants and fast-food joints are the new teen hangouts.
•Griswold vs. Connecticut was a landmark case that established the right to privacy and the right to use birth control (for married couples—the unmarried came later). A blogger looks at what a game-changer that was, and what a blow to the religious right.
•The religious right also hated Dungeons and Dragons. But they lost that one. Slacktivist argues that D&D did indeed pose a threat to fundamentalist beliefs because “Fundamentalist ideology is a fragile thing, after all, so almost anything other than itself is correctly viewed as a subversive threat.”
•A new study suggests obese fathers make it more likely children will be autistic. Echidne looks at how tentative and carefully the media report that news, in contrast to when female obesity was the topic.

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Links in the morning

Wal-Mart is announcing the age of Cheaper Organic Produce. LGM points out, however, that Wal-Mart makes things cheaper by pressuring suppliers into cutting prices to the bone. And this will probably translate into less money for the workers (“just offering cheaper organic food under an exploitative labor system is not much of an answer to our ailing food system.”).
•I know I’ve made a similar point myself (though I don’t have the energy to link to it) but here it is again: Fear of becoming a minority makes some white voters more conservative.
•Echidne looks at one drawback with approaching education as a for-profit business: It’s hard to analyze just how good a product you’re offering students.
•You’ve probably heard of the Stanford experiment where students playing guards and prisoners slid into their roles to the point the guards were openly brutal. Northier Than Thou wonders if one student’s conscious decision to play Bad Cop skewed the results.
•How economic equality kills people.
•Unsurprisingly as Santeria draws more believers to the faith, the faith divides into sects.
•Brandeis University has invited Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a feminist and anti-Islamist, to speak, but refused to give her an honorary degree. As LGM points out, that’s not censorship.
•Witch-hunters have killed far more people than witchcraft. So logically, having witches around is safer than having witch-hunters. Some related thoughts from me here.
•Conservatives talk a lot about how women’s subordinate role is natural. But in that case, why do they like unnatural things such as women shaving their legs?
•Right-wing bullshit is the gift that keeps on giving. Did you know the federal government had nothing to do with freeing the slaves?
•Comcast continues to claim that merging with Time-Warner Cable will be wonderful for everyone.

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Boys and girls come out to link

A list of nine key triumphs for the women’s movement. If nothing else, they remind us of what used to be legal—a century ago, for instance, a woman marrying a foreign man lost her citizenship.
•Kenya legislators are debating a bill to legalize polygamy. The sticking point for female legislators is that it allows a man to add wives without consulting or seeking permission from previous wives.
•Sports columnist Richard Sherman on football player Desean Jackson who (I gather) has been suspended from playing for “gang ties.” Sherman argues it’s less about gang ties than growing up in neighborhoods with gangs—and that nobody wants to be the guy who just cuts his old friends off once he makes it.
•Getting tough on illegal immigrants, LGM says, is both a policy mistake and a political one. As Slate notes here, it’s going to hurt Dems at a time when Repubs are already struggling to reduce nonwhite voting.
•How should the Park Service deal with slavery and the South’s support of it when managing Civil War memorials and parks?
•Rick Perlstein looks at Repub financier and power-broker Sheldon Adelson. Remember him if someone claims rich people don’t want political influence.
•The Consumerist gives an excellent breakdown of what the recent Supreme Court campaign finance ruling means. The big edge is that not only can one donor give to as many campaigns as she wants, but as many PACs—so if you have 100 PACS working for one candidate’s election, that’s a sea change in the game.
•A radio host says a baseball player should have made his wife have a C-section so that he wouldn’t have missed opening day to be with her.
•Yelp faces complaints that it uses complaints on its site to squeeze advertising money out of businesses. You don’t advertise, the complaints say, you get bad reviews.
•Comcast has announced it isn’t applying data caps to our use of the Internet, they’re “data thresholds.”
•In 2006, Mississippi prosecuted a woman whose baby was born with an umbilical cord wrapped round its neck: Mom had used cocaine, so it was murder! Now a judge has thrown out the conviction, though the prosecutor says he’s try again. This is not an isolated incident.
•The significance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a new US trade agreement.

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Undead sexist cliche: Older women are dogs, older men are sexy

So today a friend’s FB link led me to a men’s rights website (no, I’m not linking there) which included a post on how women who turn 30 almost immediately age out of the sexual market: They’re worthless no matter how smart, successful or educated they are because they’ve aged into ugliness. Men, on the other hand, remain attractive, aging like a fine wine.
This is not a new thought, of course. I’ve been hearing variations of it since at least the 1970s. Like the other undead sexist cliches, it’s bullshit.
For starters, anyone who doesn’t think women in their thirties can be attractive obviously doesn’t hang out with the right women. Certainly not all women in their thirties, but there’s no shortage of them. If someone thinks all 30somethings are old and worn-out, that says more about the speaker’s taste than the women (case in point, right-winger John Derbyshire who was in his fifties when he claimed that no woman is attractive naked after the 15-to-20-year-old range). Ditto anyone who assumes the only measure of a woman’s desirability is her looks.
Second, the idea that men age well? Some do, true. But most of us? Even in their thirties, some men are not, shall we say, studly. And we don’t improve or become hotter from there. For every Sean Connery or Paul Newman (to name two older guys widely considered hot) there’s a hundred schlubs. And even with the finely aged men, a lot of younger women, I suspect, would sooner find a good-looking man in their own age range than someone older.
And let’s face it, some older men attract some younger women because they have lots of money. Which is not what I’d consider aging well, it’s just having money. Other men attract younger women because they’re movie stars, and fame has its own currency.
Which brings us to Hollywood, which does a lot to perpetuate the myth that older men are some kind of chick magnets. Look at My Cousin Vinnie. In the real world it’s very unlikely a cute twentysomething Marisa Tomei would wind up engaged to fiftysomething Joe Pesci. He’s hardly a fine wine, and his character has been largely a failure up to the time of the movie (I love the movie and they both give great performances, but still). Or I Love Trouble in which grizzled old Nick Nolte is irresistibly attractive to Julia Roberts (which is inevitable by the laws of screenwriting)—and apparently a red-hot babe magnet for every other good-looking woman in town (which is kind of silly).
The idea also ties into a lot of other undead sexist cliches. The blog post I read gloats that a woman’s worthlessness in her thirties is comeuppance for how women control men with sex in their twenties. It comes off as a textbook example of misogyny fueled by hot women not wanting to sleep with you: Some day you’ll be wealthy and successful and have hot girls falling all over you while that bitch who turned you down is desperately trying to get laid. That’ll teach her!
For more on men’s rights activists, here’s an earlier post.

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Time for some links

In the Why Obamacare Is Bad school of punditry, James Taranto says the fact people are waiting in line to sign up clearly shows Obamacare is tyranny!
•The Supreme Court unsurprisingly clears the way for even more of the wealthy’s money to flow into politics.
•In another example of class warfare, The Baffler discusses a long-standing agreement between Apple, Google and other Silicon Valley companies to fix wages and not to hire employees from each other (Steve Jobs, the site says, was so upset when a recruiter tried to hire an Apple employee that Google fired the recruiter. The Pando website reports it’s not an isolated incident.
•Hobby Lobby says its belief prevent it from offering insurance programs that cover contraception. They are, however, fine with the company’s retirement plan owning stock in businesses that make and sell contraception.
•Roy Edroso reviews the right-wing blogosphere’s outraged support for Hobby Lobby.
•A wealthy man rapes his daughter. A judge decides putting him in prison would be too cruel. As Digby points out, that’s perfectly true but it’s true for anyone: Prisons suck for the poor and unconnected too. LGM weighs in too.
The concern for the suffering of the rich isn’t new. One of the arguments for why “Club Fed” minimum security prisons aren’t a slap on the wrist for white-collar crook is that they lose their freedom, which is incredibly, incredibly humiliating and painful. But if it’s that awful, why wouldn’t it be just as bad for the nobodies and street crooks?
•We wage war on tyranny but not tyrannies we like.
•Glenn Greenwald has often pointed out that for all the Obama administration’s opposition to leaks, it leaves a big exception for leaks that advance the White House agenda. And likewise, the NSA.
•Abortion restrictions that force clinics to close don’t violate the right to abortion,a federal court says.
•Should the soldiers who massacred women and children at Wounded Knee lose their Medals of Honor.
•A prison company complaints its contract with the state isn’t earning it enough profits, so state lawmakers give them more.
•Women have filed a class-action suit against Sterling Jewelers (the parent company for Jared and other stores).
•You’ve probably heard about the GM recall of two million cars for ignition-related problems (such as turning off if bumped). This timeline tracks the points over the past 12 years when GM or the government could have taken action to fix the problem, but didn’t.

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Frequently on a Sunday

One of the points Fred Clark frequently makes on the Slacktivist blog is that it’s easy to go too far left to be acceptable to the evangelical community (like World Vision taking flak because it said it would be open to gay employees). Case in point, conservative evangelicals Mat Staver and Matt Barber proclaiming Michelle Obama is evil because she visited a health center (not an abortion clinic) to encourage people to sign up for the Affordable Care Act. Because OMG abortion (which isn’t covered by the ACA and according to Clark isn’t offered at the center). Hitler! Dismembering babies! Obamacare is evil! And if Ms. Obama likes it, she’s evil! Despite which, they’re still considered respectable evangelicals.
Nor is anyone drumming out Franklin Graham, who equates gays adopting children with gays sexually molesting children (I could have sworn there was something in the Bible about bearing false witness against your neighbor. But obviously that’s not as important as Fighting Evil Gays).
•Consumerist, which blogs frequently about Comcast’s plans to merge with Time-Warner, says Comcast’s supposed efforts to provide Internet to the poor are a sham. Another post rips into a New York Times piece claiming the merger would be wonderful for everyone. Meanwhile, Verizon insists there’s no need to mandate net neutrality because competition will force Internet companies to provide it (as Consumerist has repeatedly pointed out, the range of competition in most areas is one company for broadband, period).
•Does having more credit/debit cards and less cash reduce crime?
•Right-wing pundit Jonah Goldberg claims the Koch Brothers (notorious billionaire backers of a variety of right-wing causes) obviously aren’t dabbling in politics because they’re so rich, they don’t need more money. But that hasn’t stopped other billionaires.
•Slashing taxes hasn’t helped Kansas’ economy, but it has cut lots of services.
•Federal judges are apparently very picky about how women attorneys dress. More here.
•The British prison system has banned prisoners from receiving books.
•Occasionally a bank executive does get busted for bad/stupid behavior.
•Hullabaloo looks at all the religious views on the right (God opposes the minimum wage! Jesus was anti-union!) that could be put into practice if the Hobby Lobby case allows corporations to exercise “sincere religious belief.”
•Up to 36 percent of Internet ad views may be by bots.

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