Category Archives: Politics

Undead sexist cliches: strong women are unbelievable women (#SFWApro)

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(Art uncredited, all rights to current holder)

Sara C. Roethle discusses an article by one Nathan Albertson arguing that The Force Awakens‘ Rey is completely ridiculous and so are all other female fighters in fiction (Wonder Woman, Ripley, Black Widow, etc.) Albertson quotes the Bible saying things like “weak as women” which proves therefore women are weaker than men. And a woman just can’t beat up a man, anyway. And besides, women just shouldn’t do stuff like that (the same argument John C. Wright has made). It’s unfeminine, and denies the fundamental difference between the sexes: men are most manly when they protect the woman, woman is most feminine when she lets the man be the boss. And besides, doesn’t the fact movies keep making the men the real heroes and showing women worrying about having boyfriends and kids prove that even Hollywood knows what women are really like?

Roethle makes good points about the fact a trained woman can indeed take down a man, and that Rey is no more ridiculous in a fight than if Finn were doing the same things. I recommend reading her piece, but I’ll add a couple more points:

•Lots of women have been formidable fighters. Mary Read and Anne Bonney were pirates. Women cross-dressed as men to fight in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and countless European wars. Russian women worked as everything from snipers to fighter pilots (the “Night Witches”). The amazons of Dahomey (women selected as the king’s elite royal guard).

•The fact that movies keep writing in stereotypes such as Of Course All A Woman Wants Is A Boyfriend/Baby, does not prove that they’re true. This is an annoyingly common argument: the fact that many people are scared of black men proves blacks are dangerous; the fact that stereotypes are race specific (Jews are tight with money, Irish drink, French are great lovers) proves they’re true (otherwise why would they fasten on a particular race/nationality). No. And no. Believing in negative (or positive) stereotypes doesn’t prove they’re true.

•And while it’s a minor point, describing Ripley of the Alien films as “godmother of them all” is just wrong. Wonder Woman predated her. So did the Black Widow. And Jirel of Joiry, shown above.

For bonus sexism, here are some articles from the Federalist (not a direct link) explaining how patriarchy makes women happier than feminism because both women and men want the man in charge (which is why, according to the Federalist, women also like Fifty Shades of Grey). You know I think we’re long past the point where anti-feminists can pretend they’re “defending tradition” — women have had legal equality for more than 40 years, and second-wave feminism has been around just as long. Whatever Mollie Hemingway and the other writers at feminist want to drag us back to, it no longer counts as tradition any more than trial by combat or the divine right of kings.

•And since I’m in this vein, let’s remember David Goyer’s declaration that the super-strong She-Hulk is really a male fantasy, because (his theory) guys dream about being strong enough to bed her. Because obviously she wouldn’t just sleep with you because she likes you or you’re sexy, you have to be strong enough to take her down. This is another Undead Sexist Cliche about strong women, that the guy has to be stronger than she is to be worthy of her/interesting to her. Only Superman can date Wonder Woman. Red Sonja will only accept a man who can outfight her (Marvel’s version, Robert E. Howard’s was different). The idea has cropped up other places to. And yes, it is a kind of male fantasy (guy attains the unattainable woman by surpassing her). But She-Hulk’s never played by that rule, so Mr. Goyer, you’re full of it.

For more on this topic, check out a previous Undead Sexist Cliche post.

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North Carolina: bigotry and opposition

So in response to North Carolina’s loathsome anti-gay, anti-employee HB2 (details here) a number of businesses are backing away from the state. PayPal passed on expanding its operations here; Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert. It’s going to hurt the economy, which hurts the people. As John Scalzi points out, that’s the purpose of boycotts, to inflict enough pain that businesses and voters will react, protest and push for change. It’s unfortunate but unavoidable that people who don’t support the law are hurt too. One commenter added that it isn’t just about North Carolina, it’s about warning other states away from doing the same. A couple of commenters told one activist not to go crying to them: the law passed, that proves he and his brethren didn’t fight hard enough.

I’m not sure yet that this counts as a boycott, which implies an organized movement. So far it seems more like multiple companies and individuals acting on principle, more than acting to pressure the state into change (not that acting on principle is bad). In terms of the effects on the state, it comes out the same way, of course (for a moment of hilarity consider National Review’s David French explaining this away: corporate America is too liberal)

And what are those effects? Will this influence state policy? Beats the hell out of me.

On the one hand, most Republicans probably have far more to worry about from PO’d conservatives who think they’re not doing enough to stop the Gay Agenda than they do challenges from the left. On the other, money talks, and seeing business stay out of our state puts a lot of money in play. On the third hard, some of the rules in this bill are clearly an early Christmas gift to the business community: cities can’t raise minimum wage above the state level, and employees can’t sue for discrimination in state court. I’m guessing a lot of business owners are down with that (so much for French’s theory)

So the end result could be nothing happens until the law is crushed in court. Or it could be that we get a hybrid, dropping the “no trans people in the wrong bathroom” rule and keeping the anti-employee stuff.

One point I strongly disagree with (not Scalzi’s  but a couple of his commenters, as noted above) is that everyone who didn’t actively fight against this bill deserves some pain; even those who did fight clearly didn’t fight hard enough. I think there’s a lot of truth to Thoreau’s statement that while we’re all obligated not to make the world worse, we’re not obligated to make it better. There’s always more we can do, but I can’t blame someone who wants to live their life or spend time with their kids rather than protest or fight (as I don’t do that much, I may be biased here). Nobody is obligated to sacrifice for the greater good (I do agree with the commenters we need more people of good intent to get out and vote, though [though of course Repubs are trying to make that harder]) as long as they avoid contributing to the greater bad.

The argument that those who do fight didn’t do enough, I think is bullshit (no bias here—like I said, I’m not one of the ones who do the real fighting).  It’s the same logic by which we supposedly lost in Vietnam and Iraq because we didn’t fight hard enough, or the current conviction of many Trump voters that the Republicans’ inability to defeat Obamacare or push back on gay marriage is a clear sign Congressional Republicans aren’t conservative enough (or of course they’d make it happen). Sometimes, no matter how hard you fight, you lose.

Though I hope we win this one before too long, by whatever means.

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Politics, starting with the state where I live

NC Governor Pat McCrory distorts the effects of our state’s new anti-gay&transgender bill (although he has tweaked it slightly). And contrary to reports about how banning trans people from the “wrong” restroom is to protect women and children, more Republicans have been arrested for sex crimes in bathrooms than trans-people (in fairness the crimes were having sex in a restroom, which is not something I’m overly horrified at).

•In Indiana, a delegate to the Republican delegate expresses doubts about Trump’s electability. An anonymous email warns him he’s going to be doxxed and that he’d better go into hiding.

•Indiana now requires all fetuses be buried, whether aborted or miscarried. Indiana women are updating the governor on their periods, just to show they’re following the law. Shakezula weighs in.

•A proposed bill in New York State would require drivers post-accident be subject to phone checks on whether they were texting/playing games etc. before the accident.

Now, moving onto non-geographic issues—

•There’s no right-winger so extreme Ted Cruz refuses his support (well almost. He eventually renounced an anti-gay activist who wants the death penalty for gays, but it took a while). But after all, Repubs have been recruiting support from the far, far right since before this century, so why not? Perhaps it’s not surprising that right-wing First Amendment Is Only For Christians theocrat Bryan Fischer sounds a lot like the Republican front-runners.

•An 18-year-old male Trump supporter wants America’s women to know that “”Misogyny was an issue about maybe 60, 80 years ago … That’s not an issue today. There are a lot bigger fish to fry”

•Scott Lemieux argues the Democrats are further to the left than they’ve been in at least 30 years (I think he’s right, and I think this is a good thing). Case in point.

•We can look at the current political furor as a clash over domination and entitlement.

•I’ve mentioned before that some Republicans are quite open that the purpose of voter-ID bills is to reduce the Democratic vote. Here’s another example.

•No, Paul Ryan is not a safe, sane alternative to Trump and Cruz.

•How much did Bill Clinton’s 1994 crime bill increase incarceration and reduce crime? Less effect on either than claimed.

•Goldman Sachs is paying $5 billion to settle charges it sold off toxic mortgage securities (i.e., the mortgages weren’t sound) before the financial meltdown.

•Right-wing hack Camille Paglia wants you to know she’s pro-choice but thinks the anti-abortion side is morally superior. More blather at the link.

•Andrew Sullivan, conservative gay columnist (he once accused liberals opposed to the Iraq war of being potential traitors) is astonishingly back in print. As I’ve mentioned before, no matter how wrong warhawk pundits were, their careers don’t suffer.

•Nintendo employee Alison Rapp was harassed online. Nintendo insists its firing her is a complete coincidence.

•Speaking of harassment, the Guardian analyzed its comments and found that women get the most harassment. And feminism and rape are two of the topics that generate the most outrage.

 

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Politics for Monday

Conservatives typically defend the right of businesses to do whatsoever they want and follow any policies they want. Not so much when what they want is to support gay rights. And again here.

•Jim Bakker says he wouldn’t be surprised if the government sent storm troopers to stop him preaching the Bible. Because that happens just so often, and Christians have so little influence over the government.

•Anti-gay religious activist Bryan Fischer believes the First Amendment only applies to Christians (as I detail at the link, this is bullshit). He also claims the First Amendment only applies to Congress — except when he wants it to apply to some other branch of government.

•Ted Cruz sneers at New York values. The Bronx sneers back. Good for the Bronx.

•former House speaker Dennis Hastert is really, really sorry about allegedly molesting kids when he was a high-school teacher. This apparently deeply moved prosecutors since the worst he’s supposed to be looking at is six months jail time.

•The battle to force Apple to help decrypt encrypted phones continues. A new bill would settle the question (in the government’s favor) but apparently it’s vague enough to give both sides some wriggle room.

•Sen. Chuck Grassley says the problem for the Judiciary Committee (he sits on it) approving Obama’s Supreme Court nominee is that any justice who isn’t a Republican pick is too political—which he defines as a judge who doesn’t “vote in a way that advances conservative policy.” Dahlia Lithwick dismembers Grassley at the link.

•Yes we tortured and covered it up.

•Uber is paying $25 million to settle charges it lied about how thorough its background checks on drivers are. And a California judge has ruled that the amount in Lyft’s proposed class-action settlement is too small.

•Maryland has passed a bill keeping pesticides that hurt bees off retail shelves.

•Lack of competition in the special access market — the tech that connects ATMs to the bank’s network or cell towers to the network — costs $20 billion a year. The FCC is looking into it.

•Tennessee has passed a bill that says therapists and counselors can refuses patients if the patient goes against the counselor’s sincere personal principles (expanded from sincere religious belief). LGM discusses the principles of one of the bill’s sponsors. Tennessee has also made the Bible the state book, but as Slacktivist points out, doesn’t specify which version.

•Vox looks at the nature of white right-wing nostalgia for the good old days (and the racial resentment entangled with it). It’s good but I find the ending argument that liberals need to offer solutions that will stabilize the lives of the working class a little odd—liberals propose a lot of the things (higher wages, protection from predatory lending) and there are advocates for several of the others he suggests. And while I’m sympathetic that government should do things like that, the whole tone reminded me of Digby’s recent observation (can’t find the link) that working-class whites aren’t forgotten or neglected: every four years they’re held up as a measure of whether America still works, as voters who have to be considered and taken seriously. Even though they’re a dwindling minority.

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New And column out

As you probably know, after Donald Trump said women who get abortions should see jail time, a lot of right-to-lifers insisted that of course none of them want that to happen. They’re bullshitting. Some of them apparently don’t; some definitely do; some say they don’t because they know politically that won’t fly. I would bet money many in the latter category would swing to supporting punishment as soon as it did become politically feasible. And as noted at the link, women are already being punished …

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Human Rights Watch, North Carolina and other political links

Various updates from Human Rights Watch: the dangerous lack of care for HIV patients in Louisiana jails; whether the US is assisting in Saudi bombing attacks on civilians in Yemen; in Thailand woman faces a sedition trial for a Facebook photo of a red bowl; Christian teens in Egypt get five years for blasphemy.

•You’ve probably heard about North Carolina’s new law blocking local governments from passing protections for LGBT people, raising the local minimum wage or letting trans people use the bathroom of the sex they identify with. Something else it does: while it doesn’t affect the state’s policy opposing workplace discrimination, nobody can sue for discrimination in state courts. People who’ve already filed suits must take them to federal court.

•NC’s attorney general says he will not defend the law against the inevitable suits (one’s already been filed).

•Given North Carolina being such an embarrassment, it’s nice to report that we actually have good laws on debt collection (no judgments just because the alleged debtor didn’t show in court).

•The FTC says one drug company paid off another firm to delay releasing a generic for a couple of years. Result? Consumers pay higher prices, both corporations have fatter bottom lines.

•Is skim milk just “imitation milk?” A court says yes.

•Foz Meadows rips into the bullshit of the friend zone.

•So a company calle Garfum sued a “vote for your favorite photo” website on the grounds it holds the patent on voting for online images. The judge says no, picking your favorite photo is not something you can patent (a prior Supreme Court ruling established you can’t patent concept just because they’re done with software).

•We’d be better off spending money on infrastructure than worrying about the national debt.

Obama created Trump — because he passed major legislation Republicans didn’t support, thereby driving Republicans justifiably insane with his tyranny.

•It’s very, very hard to find out if your doctor’s been disciplined by the state medical board. Some conservatives love to shriek about how malpractice lawsuits are driving doctors out of the medical profession but they don’t acknowledge that a small minority of doctors (2 percent) have been responsible for half the awards. Doctors, like most other groups, are notorious about protecting their own.

•The FCC announces simple labels to explain what you’re buying from your Internet provider — i.e., how much it costs, what the basic rate is and what fees are added, how fast it is. Though as noted at the link, it won’t help if you have nobody else to switch to.

•Corporations paying out: Wal-Mart must pay $151 million for making employees work off the clock (the Supreme Court turned down the company’s appeal) and Wells Fargo is shelling out $203 million over its overdraft policies.

•A problem for self-driving cars: The US infrastructure. If lane marking are faded, for example, the car finds it harder to navigate. And the different ways in which traffic lights, for example, can be positioned (horizontal, vertical, etc.) make it harder for the car to recognize them.

•The Supreme Court has ruled that basing legislative districts on total population stands as the rule. The right-wing alternative in question was to count only those actually eligible to vote (as if nobody else was affected by government decisions).

•Facebook’s WhatsApp bolsters encryption to the point the makers say they can’t crack it themselves.

•We Hunted the Mammoths on some right-wingers’ obsession with the word cuck.

 

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OMG, Barack Obama is a 21st century Jefferson Davis!

Yes, according to one right-wing blogger (not a direct link), because Obama went to Cuba and Cuba criticizes the US, so there you are — “We have not seen an American President so committed to the defeat of the United States since [Confederate president] Jefferson Davis.” Which would seem to make Obama a hero to a lot of Southern conservatives—but in any case, the president’s own speech a year ago at Selma proves he’s a real American:  “What could more profoundly vindicate the idea of America than plain and humble people – the unsung, the downtrodden, the dreamers not of high station, not born to wealth or privilege, not of one religious tradition but many – coming together to shape their country’s course?

What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this; what greater form of patriotism is there; than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals?”

I bookmarked the speech last year, but never got around to reading it in full. It was well worth it.

•Cory Doctorow suggests that in the age of the Internet of Things, there’s even more virtue in having the right to control access to our data.

•The government has used the All Writs Act to compel Apple and Google to unlock multiple smart phones before the recent dispute.

•The recent freak-out of National Review writers about the filthy poor is in the NR tradition of contemptuous elitism.

•Ta-Nehisi Coates on why he thinks casting Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone ignores what Simone represents.

•A new barrier to abortion: require the fetus get anesthetic to prevent pain (for details of why this is unnecessary and impractical, check the link). And here’s a real sleazebag tactic: pregnancy centers trick teenagers into signing documents that say in the fine print that the signer doesn’t want an abortion and if she gets one, she’s been coerced! Which has no legal status, but in the case at the link, a forced-birth group used the document to sick cops on a teen and her mother. The trick is the brainchild of a right to life group whose founders are also backing Ted Cruz (who is very right-to-life)

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