Category Archives: Undead sexist cliches

When workers get paid less, they win!

At least that’s the theory of Virginia Postrel. You see millions of minimum-wage, part-time workers can’t make ends meet because that takes two jobs. And they can’t work two jobs because the schedule for even one part-time job is too unreasonable.
Think the solution is higher pay? Don’t be silly. As Postrel explains, the solution is lower pay: Workers could trade lower hourly pay for a better schedule except that thrice-damned minimum wage law gets in the way! So if we end minimum wage so they get paid less, then they can get a second job and work more hours and everything will be great! And after all, it’s not like removing the minimum would lead employers to cut wages and still impose shitty schedules because … funny, she doesn’t address that.
According to a former Hobby Lobby employee, the chain’s owners’ pro-life beliefs didn’t protect her when she took unpaid maternity leave (she didn’t qualify for the federally guaranteed kind): she got fired.
•On a more cheerful note for labor, the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that McDonalds is a “joint employer” alongside its franchisees: it exerts enough control that if labor conditions are unfair, workers can sue Mickey D’s, not just the franchise owner. The Wapo reports that the NLRB is also looking at a California case involving a staffing agency that has similar implications. Needless to say corporations are very unhappy.
•An appeals court has ruled that Mississippi’s last abortion clinic can stay open for now. The rationale is that just saying “women can go out of state so it’s not affecting their rights” is bullshit.
•One of the staple rape apologist arguments is that date rape isn’t really rape or at least it’s not as awful as a regular stranger rape. This Ruthless World explains this is, again, bullshit. Atheist Richard Dawkins’ dismissive comments (quoted therein) are a reminder that ugly as right-wing sexism gets, Republicans and conservative Christians are not the only offenders. Another case in point.
•George Will claims that America can handle an influx of Latino children coming over the border. Fox News freaks out. Given my distaste of Will’s recent rape apologism, it’s nice to see him say something sensible.
•You may have heard this already, but just in case: A teenage Virginia couple sext each other, including sending pictures of their intimate parts. The girl’s mother complains so the boy gets arrested for making and sending “child porn.” Prosecutor Claiborne Richardson actually threatened to have the kid given shots that would give him a hard-on, then take photos of it so his office could determine whether it’s the same penis in the photos.
•Meanwhile, we have a woman arrested because she let her nine-year-old daughter play in the park … alone.
•One of the staple conservative/libertarian arguments is that if the federal government has to fund programs, it should give the money to the states and let them decide how to spend it. LGM says the refusal of severals states to cooperate with Obamacare shows this is a bad idea if you want federal help to actually do good.
•Just because you pay to stop payment on a check doesn’t mean the check will be stopped.
•And despite laws that protect military members from shady financing deals some companies still prey on soldiers.

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Newsflash: Obama plotting to get impeached

That’s the new right-wing shtick: Republicans don’t want to impeach Obama and they’ve never even suggested it. So clearly Obama is making it up just to build sympathy and get out the vote this fall.
And that makes perfect sense if you ignore the facts, which are that multiple members of Congress and also Glenn Beck have called for impeaching him.
I should also note the same thing came up during the Hobby Lobby aftermath—claims Obama had directed his attorneys to go soft so that Hobby Lobby could win and the Dems would get voters out.
In other denial-of-reality news, an ESPN talking head mansplains that while yes, beating your spouse is very bad, women should ask what they could have done to avoid provoking their husband (although he plays the weasel card and says it’s not real provocation but “the elements of provocation” Which apparently is totally different).
In other news—
•An interesting discussion of masculinity at LGM. Among other points, I’m inclined to agree that one reason you can’t consciously embrace an old-fashioned masculinity because it requires consciously acting out a role that used to be automatic.
•Following broadcasters’ win over Aero, the networks try to shut down a DISH system for cloud DVR. Here’s a more detailed look at the legal issues.
•Comcast works very hard to maintain a close relationship with the people who’ll be deciding on its Time-Warner merger proposal.

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The price of a productive day—

At least for today is being too tired for anything but links.
•Bank of America will pay a $16.6 million settlement over charges it knowingly took drug-dealers’ money. Of course that’s the kind of penalty a corporation that size can shrug off. A shame we don’t put people in jail for drug crimes. Oh, wait ….
•A Yelp review’s joke about free abortions prompts a Portland restaurant to donate money to a women’s crisis line. Meanwhile another Portland eatery (ice cream) raises money for Planned Parenthood and gets threats.
•A Finnish educator says that evolutionary psychology should be taught to everyone everywhere. Echidne disagrees (and here’s a past post of mine on the topic).
•The Bloggess responds to a new Tumblr meme, Women Against Feminism. While I agree with her that feminism has its problems, I think a lot of the “against” is because right-wingers have portrayed feminism so negatively for the past 30 or 40 years. As witness one sign that baffles the Bloggess “I don’t need to grow out my body hair to prove I’m equal to men.” The idea of feminists as hairy, unshaven women (and that this is a Very Bad Thing) is a staple caricature, common enough it’s not surprising people buy into it (even people whose actual beliefs are extremely feminist. I’ve known several).
•Undocumented immigrants are a greater threat to America than al Qaeda, one right-winger proclaims!
•A church actually expels a pastor for sexually abusing children. That shouldn’t be noteworthy, but it is.
•A Catholic group active in supporting immigrants doesn’t support same-sex marriage but has a membership in a Hispanic organization that does. Which is pro-gay enough that the Catholic Church cut the group’s funding.
•Eight states have religious tests for public office.
•Some moderate churches worry that Obama’s treating gay rights too much like racial or gender rights.
•I’ve read about Apple’s brutal treatment of it’s overseas workers. Apparently American workers get treated illegally too. Outsourcing, of course, lets companies push what they do into the shadows, and they prefer it that way.
•Apple and a computer security specialist lock horns over possible back doors in iPhones.
Here’s a good idea for dealing with “safety” regulations that place requirements on abortion clinics but no-one else: Make them apply to all similar medical businesses (if abortion doctors have to have hospital-admitting privileges, so do dentists).
•A Florida court throws out a gerrymandered legislative district.

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I read Jekyll. Now I learn about Hyde

I’ve been a fan of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover books (and her better known Mists of Avalon) for years.
That said, I’m somehow not surprised that in addition to covering up her husband’s pedophilia, her daughter recently stated that MZB herself was an abuser (quoted at the link), both sexual and physical.
I’m not surprised because I know just from watching the world that being a good writer or editor (she gave me a brutal critique of a piece I’d submitted to her fantasy magazine, but it was quite accurate) doesn’t mean you’re not a horrible person. Being charming and funny doesn’t mean you’re not an abuser. I’ve known three women over the years whose husbands were abusive. There was only one where I thought on learning the news “No, that doesn’t surprise me.” (I didn’t think he was abusive, but he was kind of a dick). It surprises me a lot less now. Mr. (or Ms.) Hyde) can present a positive face to the world and be a beast when behind closed doors; that’s just the way people are.
As with Woody Allen, I’m not sure efforts to find the kink in her books are really practical. It doesn’t have to show. Mr. Hyde can … hide. Though as with Allen, it’s hard to not think about this when you read an author’s works (I’ll see what I think when I reread them some day).
All that being said, radishreviews points out that a lot of people did know and did nothing. If not the kind of overt cover-up I’ve just written about, it was a similar impulse: The abuser’s one of us. Are we going to turn our backs on him? Let’s just keep the kids away and everything will be fine. Only it wasn’t.
One final note, on this story about Bradley: comparing her to Lewis Carroll (AKA Charles Dodgson) is ridiculous. There’s never been any evidence that Dodgson had any romantic/sexual interest in Alice Liddell (the prototype for Alice in the books). There is no evidence that Dodgson was interested in children at all (he photographed adults as well as children and had relationships—friendship at least—with many adult women). Nor were there ever any accusations. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t have happened … but unlike MZB there’s no reason to think it did (the Smithsonian article the Guardian links to makes that clear).

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Sex is a beautiful cathedral that liberals want to demolish. Who knew?

Jonah Goldberg’s new piece on women voters actually includes a good insight (as pointed out at the link, which is not direct): “In a relatively short period of time, legal and cultural equality has expanded — albeit not uniformly or perfectly — to blacks, women, and gays. We are a more heterodox society in almost every way. As a result, many of our customs, norms, and terms no longer line up neatly with lived-reality. Remember customs emerge as intangible tools to solve real needs. When the real needs change, the customs must either adapt or die … You can call it ‘political correctness’ that Americans stopped calling black people ‘negroes.’ But that wouldn’t make the change wrong or even objectionable.”
That’s an encouraging acknowledgment, even though it’s stuffed into a mess of a column that runs as follows:
•Liberals are liars. Everything they say is just a cover for the real agenda, whereas conservatives are completely upfront and straightforward. For example, liberals quote a lot of science because that’s the new voice of authority, not because they believe in science (so presumably conservatives who believe birth control is abortion even if it’s not scientific are on some higher plane).
•Because society has changed, liberalism and feminism now look like they make sense: “Democrats recognize this, which is why they’ve cynically exploited changes in family structure, female labor participation, and reproductive technology and declared that Republicans have declared war on women. It’s not remotely true, but it is effective.”
•As part of this scheme, the left rejects traditional male-female relationships, even though they have nothing better to offer: “Progressives are steadily dismantling the beautiful cathedrals of traditional manners and customs, arguing that they’re too Baroque, too antiquated. They use the sledgehammer of liberation rhetoric to destroy the old edifices, but their fidelity to liberty is purely rhetorical. In place of the old cathedrals they build supposedly functional, modern, and utilitarian codes of conduct. But these Brutalist codes are not only unlovely, they are often more prudish than traditional approaches.”
•The solution for right-wingers is to preserve the cathedrals but “why not argue for some long overdue updating and retrofitting? I guarantee you more women prefer a modified version of the traditional process of wooing, courting, and dating before sex than the “modern” schizophrenic system of getting drunk enough for a same-day hook up but not so inebriated to forget to get a signature on the consent form. Traditional notions of romance and respect are far better tools than the mumbo-jumbo campus feminists have to offer. The problem is that the mumbo-jumbo feminists are fighting largely uncontested.”
As pointed out at the link, it’s hard to see how this plays into actual politics as Goldberg is so vague and metaphorical. I’m inclined to take the subtext as a suggestion that Repubs should stop dumping on the “Beyonce voters” and demonizing single women for having sex—but that’s actually a controversial position so I can see why Goldberg wouldn’t come out and say it. If he is saying it.
Then again, maybe he’s trying to sound like he’s open minded while recyling usual right-wing cliches about there being no war on women, drunken hookups (the George Will view of campus sex) and that feminists are just screaming mumbo-jumbo. His point about those stately cathedrals sounds a lot like the mutterings of Suzanne Venker and other antifeminists about how feminism has made us all miserable by rejecting chivalry (or about how Downton Abbey was a better era for women). And how suggesting that people actually get consent before doing the nasty is a Bad Idea.
And then there’s the point about the duplicitous liberals and how they’re catering to women out of self-interest (another staple). To which I say, so what? If Democrats are willing to protect women’s rights to win votes while Republicans vote against them out of high-minded principle, then Democrats are still the better bet for people who support women’s rights.
The issue isn’t whether right-wing Repubs are sincere or not. The issue is, they support bad policies either way.

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John C. Wright attempts to explain beauty

But as this shades into politics, I’m not tagging it for SFWA’s twitter feed.
Wright’s thesis is that beauty uplifts the soul, but modern art has rejected objective standards of beauty and therefore sucks. And this is part of the left-wing attack on America because it weakens the human spirit and gives power to the oppressor: “Imagine two men: one stands in a bright house, tall with marble columns adorned with lavish art, splendid with shining glass images of saints and heroes, mementos of great sorrow and great victories both past and promised. A polyphonic choir raises their voices in golden song, singing an ode to joy. The other stands in a slum with peeling wallpaper, or a roofless ruin infested with rats, hemmed by feces-splashed gray concrete walls lurid with jagged graffiti, chalked with swearwords and flickering neon signs advertising strip joints. Rap music thuds nearby, ear-splitting, yowling obscenities. A bureaucrat approaches each man and orders him to do some routine and routinely humiliating task, such as pee in a cup to be drug tested, or be fingerprinted, or suffer an anal cavity search, or surrender his weapons, or his money, or his name. Which of the two men is more likely to take a stand on principle not to submit?”

Oh, and we leftwingers also object because ” To have taste implies that some cultures produce more works of art and better than others, and this raises the uncomfortable possibility that love of beauty is Eurocentric, or even racist.”

Having spent several hours in Boston’s Museum of Fine Art I can safely say that love of beauty has nothing to do with European culture. Check out Egypt. Or below, Iraq (from centuries past) and Japan.
iraq lion
hawk
He also brings up Marcel Duchamp’s notorious placing of a urinal in a museum. But Duchamp wasn’t holding it up as an example of beauty, he was making a point about how placing something in a museum automatically makes us see the item differently—even a urinal.
Now, as for his specific example of the two individuals, I agree they might have a different reaction. But that’s going to be because the guy in the fancy house is apparently a wealthy, powerful man (judging from his house) with the attorneys to stare down crazy government demands. The poor man in the gutter doesn’t have that option and quite possibly he’ll need to be drug-tested to qualify for unemployment or food stamps (something conservatives are very keen on. Whereas if the guy in the beautiful house were a government contractor with a million-dollar deal, they’d be outraged at the idea of testing him).
Nor have I noticed much conservative enthusiasm for, say, funding museums so poor people can get in cheap or free (Boston MFA is $25 a pop). Or in general doing anything to help the poor person (who you’ll note is surrounded by rap music. Dang, it’s almost like Wright is implying the person is not er, Eurocentric). Or even working on giving us a functional economy.
More generally, Wright’s argument that lefties are all anti-beauty seems based on nothing but stereotypes. As the excellent art history Visual Shock points out, the New Deal promoted a lot of attractive public art. Stalin despised modern art, as did Hitler. The Vietnam Wall, I think has an undeniable beauty but it was condemned by a number of conservatives. Art doesn’t track politics terribly neatly.
I’d argue with his views on art more generally, but I’ve better things to do (there’s plenty of discussion in the comments at the link, which is not directly to Wright). So I’ll link to another post ripping into Wright’s advice on great sex:
•Me Tarzan. You Jane. If Tarzan not dominant, sex bad. Wives want to submit to their husbands, honestly.
•Using birth control means it isn’t real sex.

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The “Beyonce voter” and other links

It’s fascinating, in a way, how conservatives keep trotting out the idea that single women (now christened the Beyonce voters) vote for Democrats because they want stuff: “They depend on government because they’re not depending on their husbands. They need contraception, health care, and they love to talk about equal pay.” Because, of course, if it was the good old days when the women got married and only worked for pin money, then they wouldn’t yap about discrimination so much.
Of course, a government requirement employee health insurance cover contraception isn’t government paying for stuff—that insurance is part of workers’ pay packages.
And even in the 1950s, there were lots of women who worked to support their families or themselves, who actually needed the money. More so now, when it’s a lot harder to make ends meet on one income (not that you’ll see conservatives worrying about that any time soon).
And how exactly would depending on government make women any different from for-profit prisons, military contractors or Tennessee Representative Stephen Fincher (who collects millions in farm subsidies while condemning people on food stamps). Oh, wait, because they’re women. And women voting is just bad.
•Many of the rich still think they’re oppressed.
•Faith Street points out that while some types of birth control could hypothetically function as an abortifacent, blocking birth control increases the number of women and children who’ll die, not hypothetically.
Personally I’ve always thought that if you’re not taking birth control to abort a fertilized egg but it happens that way, it counts as a miscarriage, not an abortion, just like if you took any medicine which had that side effect. Of course, I imagine there are right-to-lifers who think women shouldn’t take those either.
•The Baffler reports that Democrats are showing little enthusiasm for tackling income inequality.
•Kansas enacted slashing tax cuts to boost the economy. The economy tanked. Gov. Sam Brownback is as wrong about economics as he is about rape.
•I was planning to write about this piece on how support for gay marriage and birth control is making it impossible to be a good Christian in public life, but Slacktivist beat me to it and said it better.
I will add, though, that while writer Alan Noble focuses on the rights of businesses not to cater gay marriage or provide what they believe are abortifacents (even if they’re not) that’s a selective view of the debate. If the Supreme Court ruled tomorrow that no business was ever required to work a gay wedding or serve a gay customer, I don’t believe for a minute that the anti-gay activists would stop pushing against gay marriage. Nor will the Hobby Lobby exemption stop the push against birth control.
•Perhaps it’s unsurprising (oh, it’s definitely unsurprising) that as trans rights become more visible as an issue, the right wing starts to freak out.
•Citibank will pay out $7 billion to settle mortgage fraud charges. Meanwhile, a legal battle between AmEx and the DOJ could affect the credit-card universe.

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Todd Akin: Republicans are repressing rape apologists to win women’s votes!

Todd Akin, the politician who lost re-election after claiming rape can’t get women pregnant, now has a book out. In his memoir, he insists what he said about rape was right (though of course he really, really, really hates rape) but he was bullied by the Republican establishment into apologizing for his remarks. Of course, as Salon notes at the link (hat tip to Echidne), that would mean far from the proud Christian activist he wants us to see him as, he’s actually a mendacious politician just as willing to lie about his fundamental beliefs as all the rest.
I doubt (and hope I’m right) this will lead to a rebirth of his political career, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he became a successful speaker or talk-show host. He is, after all, saying what lots of conservatives believe (as noted in the link at the top, “rape won’t get you pregnant” has been a staple belief in evangelical right-to-life circles), and in the current atmosphere of right-wing political fervor claiming that you’re a purer conservative than the other guys never seems to hurt (and it’s now a staple of right-wing punditry).
And while we’re on the subject of the war on women and those who wage it, Hobby Lobby, some lawmakers are trying to pass a new bill that will get around the Supreme Court’s ruling. Unfortunately, the odds of getting anything through both houses of Congress are minimal.
At Slate, Lithwick and West point out the Hobby Lobby decision is even more of a mess than it first appeared. Part of Justice Alito’s rationale was that the administration had offered religious non-profits a way out of participating, by signing a form stating their religious objections (after which the employees can get birth control coverage, but without the employer providing it). As this imposes less of a burden on religious objectors, Alito’s opinion states, the government should have gone with that option for Hobby Lobby and other “closely held corporations.”
However some groups have insisted that even filling out a form is a burden on their beliefs: Once they do that, the women are going to get contraceptives, so it still violates their principles. And as noted in the Slate article, the Supreme Court has issued an injunction in one such case so that the organization (Wheaton College) won’t have to comply with a lower-court order saying Not a Burden. So after ruling for Hobby Lobby because there was a better alternative, the court has now thrown out the alternative.
No surprise the ACLU and other groups have dropped their support for the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination against employees over sexual orientation or gender identity. ENDA has a religious exemption and after Hobby Lobby, the concern is the Supremes will turn that into a huge gaping loophole.

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Hobby Lobby fallout

Defenders of the Hobby Lobby decision pointed out the company only wanted an out for four types of birth control it thought were abortifacents. Incorrectly, but Alito’s ruling said that was irrelevant as long as they sincerely believed the methods caused abortion.
Unsurprisingly, despite Alito’s proclamation this ruling doesn’t apply to serious medical issues such as vaccination or blood transfusions, it does apply to other types of birth control. The court has ordered lower courts to review several cases in which Catholic-owned businesses want to opt out from providing any birth-control coverage. Government requests for review in similar cases (where lower courts ruled in favor of the company) got shot down.
As Echidne says, giving businesses more power to discriminate based on religion is bound to work badly for women, as all three Abrahamic religions have a strong anti-woman bias on the right.

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Megan McArdle, Justice Alito and Hobby Lobby’s rights

Roy Edroso catches libertarian Megan McArdle (some of her past deep insights here and here) blithely dismissing critics of the Hobby Lobby win: Isn’t demanding your employer buy you birth control no different from demanding he buy you a car or some furniture? If an employer refuses to provide free toothpaste, would you sue him for condemning you to have cavities?

As pointed out at Edroso’s post (and in comments thereon), the obvious difference is that Hobby Lobby isn’t being asked to give employees something for free. Health insurance is part of their pay. Hobby Lobby is simply being told that the coverage has to meet minimum standards, which include providing birth control for women who want it (I imagine if they wanted to pay in company scrip McArdle’s argument would be “Saying you have to be paid in dollars is like demanding you be paid in gold!”).

She also argues that all the decision really does is say Hobby Lobby’s owners should be treated just like a small properitoer, why should that be a big deal? Wow, let’s think … could it be because being a corporation offers Hobby Lobby legal shielding from lawsuits and debt that small proprietor’s don’t have? Because a corporation is, in fact, legally different from a small proprietor?

That same issue is part of what makes Alito’s majority opinion a bad one. As noted in the Edroso post, Alito states that corporations don’t have a legal existence apart from their owners: “Corporations, ‘separate and apart from’ the human beings who own, run, and are employed by them, cannot do anything at all.”

Yet if Hobby Lobby gets sued, the law clearly says that the corporation (or any other) clearly does have a separate existence. If the company can’t pay the lawsuit or settle its debts, the owners don’t make up the difference (there are legal exceptions that pierce the corporate shield, but they’re exceptions). Unlike a sole proprietor (either McArdle, despite years of writing about economics, never learned this, or she is fudging the facts somewhat).

It’s not all about McArdle, of course. Edroso also catches a libertarian explaining the solution is to dump Obamacare and “unleash market forces to lower soaring costs without resorting to price controls or rationing” Because, of course, market forces did such an awesome job picking up the 40 million uninsured Americans around prior to Obamacare. And if people can’t afford to pay for the medical treatment they need, libertarians and conservatives won’t count that as rationing.

While I’ve never agreed with libertarians, years ago I had a certain respect for them. Their position usually ran that yes, in a completely unregulated market, bad things will happen but in the long run, it works out. I don’t believe that an unregulated market will work out well for most people, but at least that view acknowledged some people would get screwed. Now “unleash market forces” is like magic: Bad results? People losing out? Don’t be silly, everyone’s getting a pony.

Someone in the comments also pointed out the Hobby Lobby situation is precisely the bogeyman opponents of Obamacare raised when the bill was going through Congress: What if the government appoints some panel that won’t let your doctor give you the treatment you want? As common with libertarians, if it’s a business that does the same thing, that’s fine.
On the same topic:

•Ruth Bader Ginsberg is much less confident than Alito the genie of a universal religious exemption can be kept in the bottle. Here are some points from her dissent.

•Scott Lemieux looks at the argument the birth-control requirement imposes an unreasonable burden on Hobby Lobby.

•Digby wonders why Hobby Lobby feels it’s morally complicit in its employees using birth control—after all, gun stores aren’t usually considered complicit in shootings?

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