Category Archives: Politics

Undead sexist cliches: Feminists are slutty dystopian prudes

I may never read THE FEMINISTS (art uncredited, all rights to cover image remain with current holder) as used copies are quite pricey (I’m guessing this book was not popular enough to merit a large print run). But reviews on Infinity Plus and Schlock Value make it clear the cover copy is spot on. Feminists brutally rule the US, het sex is criminalized, but a band of rebels fighting for sexual equality brings down the government (I have a suspicion Cooper’s concept of equality might not be mine). While I can’t review a book I haven’t read, it does bring to mind two Undead Sexist Cliches.

Feminism = dystopia. Of course it’s a staple of right-wing thought since second-wave feminists started pushing for equality that feminists want anything but equality. They criticize stuff guys do, ergo they hate men (another staple assumption) so if they’re in charge it will be a nightmare for men.

Of course simply reversing the sexual roles could create a plausible dystopia: guys are sexually harassed, get passed over for promotion, get ignored when they speak. Few feminist dystopias settle for that (probably because that would require thinking uncomfortable thoughts about the way the real world works). Instead, men are completely downtrodden: brainwashed or drugged to kill their aggression because women don’t approve of healthy virile maleness; told they’re inferior; outright enslaved. And the message invariably turns out to be “women in charge is bad” rather than “equality is better” (if Corley really is preaching equality, points to him).

I should add that second-wave feminism itself isn’t the issue. Edgar Rice Burroughs portrayed female-run societies as a Bad Thing years earlier. In the otherwise excellent Tarzan and the Ant Men, there’s a B plot involving an Amazonian society. Things are eventually fixed when the men rise up and beat up on the women, who immediately fall in love with their manly masculinity.

Feminists hate sex, but they’re also insatiable. Feminists have pulled off the neat trick of being condemned for both extremes — they want hot slutty sex but they also hate sex, or at least they hate sex with men. Not that the same people on the right believe both things, but it is interesting both stereotypes exist.

The sex-hater USC comes about because feminists do actually criticize what used to be taken for granted: spousal rape, date rape, sexual harassment. As Rush Limbaugh put it, if there’s no consent, feminists first response is to call in the rape police (he meant this as a bad thing). So obviously they hate sex and don’t realize boys will be boys and women love it when boys are boys, damn those feminazis. National Review, which usually holds itself out as a bastion of traditional morality, had hissy fits when one feminist group suggested it was unsafe for women to get trashed at frat parties (this was after one batch of campus rape cases) — my god, don’t they realize getting drunk and having a drunken hookup is an American tradition? It fits with the feminists are anti-fun and humorless meme that’s been popular for decades.

At the same time, feminists support the right of women to use birth control, to get inoculated against the HPV virus, and not to be slut-shamed. Ergo, they want women to be slutty and give up their virtue which is the treasured possession of all real women. After all none of this would be a problem if women would just say no, just like sexual harassment and rape wouldn’t be problems if girls behaved properly.

So feminists are both sluts and prudes. Go figure

(Clementine Ford, I should note, makes the same point but funnier).

 

 

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Yes, actually it is racist

I’m inclined to agree with Digby that “‘I’m not terribly tolerant of this idea that we have to be kind to racists because nobody know the trouble they’ve seen.”

That observation was a response to this Vox post interviewing various thinkers about what causes people to turn terrorist and  what might prevent them. One of which was, unsurprisingly, that working-class whites see themselves not getting ahead and thinking “other groups — black and brown Americans, women — are now cutting in the line, because they’re getting new (and more equal) opportunities through new anti-discrimination laws and policies like affirmative action.” And they’re frustrated because if they bring up such things, they’ll be endlessly interviewed about how hard white people have it — oh, wait, no, they’ll be criticized and people might even say they’re racist. So one interviewee says the solution is to let them vent without dropping the “r” word, especially as it’s unfair: “it’s difficult for a white man to bring up concerns about changing racial demographics without getting labeled as racist. But maybe his concerns don’t have anything to do with race. He may be concerned that as the group he belongs to loses status, he will as well — economically, socially, and so on. A good response to this could point out that, for example, New York City is very diverse and still people, including white men, lead prosperous lives”

I’m sorry, that’s bullshit. If someone’s afraid he’s going to lose status because black people or Hispanics are doing better, that’s racist (just as men feeling the same about women is sexist). And affirmative action, in most cases is just an excuse. The issue isn’t that women and non-whites are cutting in line, it’s that they’re not at the back. If they’re in the rear, white men in even the shittiest circumstances can comfort themselves that they’ll never go to the back of the line or be the last picked. If women, blacks, Hispanics get ahead with or without affirmative action, that smug security goes away.

This isn’t something that started with affirmative action. Lots of unions all through the twentieth century fought against black membership; in the post-Civil War 19th century, lots of whites refused to work alongside blacks. Part of the reason in both cases was that if a black man did the same work, you were no longer superior to blacks, and that was unacceptable (How the Irish Became White details a lot of this in regards working-class Irish). The Klan and its ilks were quite willing to lash out at any black who was doing well, no matter how hard he worked. Likewise countless women have experienced men who refuse to believe they’re qualified to do a “man’s job,” and that even if they are, they shouldn’t have the gig.

As for the idea we’re driving nice people into the arms of the Klan if we criticize their racist/sexist shit (or anti-gay or anti-Islam or whatever) that’s just another version of the “how can we have a conversation if you criticize me?” crap. It’s okay for them to complain that blacks are getting ahead of better qualified white people or going to college free, but we’re not supposed to call them out — that sounds like the umpteenth version of how it’s our duty to have compassion and understanding for them, not vice versa.

And no, pointing out the facts are on our side usually won’t help. Some may be influenced but lots of conservatives will cling firmly to their belief that blacks do go to college free, that anyone who uses birth control is an irresponsible slut, that gay marriage doesn’t actually hurt them (or hurt anyone) and that Christianity should be the state religion. Just look at how many of them still believe in Trump.

 

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Free speech, even for Nazis?

As Popehat puts, the recent demonstration in South Carolina is a worst-case hypothetical — do we support free speech even when Nazis and white supremacists are marching in the streets, spitting hatred at Jews, packing heat and in one case mowing down protesters (and celebrating the death of one victim).

For a number of liberals (I don’t have a statistical measure) the response is “screw free speech for Nazis.” They wouldn’t grant ours, why should we grant theirs? For others, Nazis cross the line: ” These people here? The ones wearing swastikas, waving Nazi flags, marching in T-shirts with Adolf Hitler quotes, and throwing Nazi salutes? This isn’t protest. This is a threat.”

And it is threatening. It’s hardly new — the far right was rumbling about the need for a new American revolution back in the Clinton era — but it’s bolder and louder than I think it’s been since I came to this country.

Legally, however, being a Nazi and spouting Nazi beliefs is free speech. And I think it should be. Not so much for the practical benefits (I’ll get to that in a minute) but I believe a country where people are free to advocate for their beliefs, even evil beliefs, is better than one where they’re not. I believe speaking back or out-protesting them are better alternatives.

There are lots of exceptions to this, of course. Actual death threats, online harassment, offline harassment (like Jeremy Christian’s verbal assault on two Muslim women) slander, libel, intimidation, conspiracy to commit crimes, none of those deserve protection under the First Amendment. And I don’t think the right to assemble and the right to free speech translate into the right to bring heavy firepower if a city wants to ban it (I don’t think in situations like this it’s a violation of the Second Amendment either). But I still think the alt.right should be free to speak.

The alleged practical benefits are that a)if people are allowed to speak, it exposes everyone to more ideas and increases the chance of an unpopular truth winning out and b)if the government has the power to shut down bad speech, who’s to say it won’t find your speech is bad.

On the first, I find myself less optimistic than I used to be. Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the far right ranters have been pumping extremist rhetoric into the body politic for more than two decades now (and it’s not stopping), and it’s definitely pushed a lot of America to the right (and contributed to the rise of fascism). Lots of conservatives will not be won over to a better way. I think misogynist internet sites have a similar effect. There’s no guarantee truth will win out.

On the second, it’s perfectly true that a government that can ban “hate speech” can easily decide that Black Lives Matter or the Southern Poverty Law Center is a hate group. But I’m not sure that refusing to ban Nazis will stop that. If there’s one thing Republicans have demonstrated in the 21st century, it’s that they’re completely uninterested in precedent: if they can find a way to ban speech they don’t like, they’ll do it whether the left extends them the same courtesy or not. Nobody’s pushing to ban Christianity for instance, but plenty of the religious right are cool with banning Islam. The Bush II years were full of demands that liberals STF about the president — questioning him only aids the terrorists! A belief they immediately dropped when Obama got elected.

But the solution to that is to give free speech the strongest protections in law that we can. Not to sign on with the banners. The U.S. jettisoned a lot of its Fourth and Fifth amendment principles after 9/11 (right to a speedy trial, right to habeas corpus, right not to be held without evidence, etc.). We’re not any safer and we’re not better off because of them.

Even in the face of the hate, I still advocate for free speech.

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Ex-judge Roy Moore is a lying theocratic shit

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore first got attention outside his state when he put a Ten Commandments monument at the courthouse without telling or getting approval from his fellow judges. Despite a federal court order it had to go, he insisted on keeping it in place, and wound up getting removed as Chief Justice. After the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage everywhere, Moore issued an administrative order telling Alabama justices that they had a “ministerial duty” not to issue marriage licenses to gay. So not for one minute do I believe his assurances in a Vox interview that he’s 100 percent for freedom of religion and the First Amendment.

According to Moore’s interview:

  • The First Amendment is a Christian principle. It’s based on Jesus’ advice to “render under Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.
  • He totally supports freedom of religion and the First Amendment.
  • But it’s obvious the Constitution was written in the belief “Christianity ought to be favored by the State so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience.”
  • “There are communities under Sharia law right now in our country. Up in Illinois. Christian communities; I don’t know if they may be Muslim communities.” But he can’t remember which ones they are.

He is by the way, the front runner in the primary, which astonished the writer. As someone who lived in the “lower Alabama” of the Florida panhandle, it doesn’t surprise me at all. Support for Christian theocracy is a thing. Under other circumstances I’d rejoice that Mo Brooks, the guy who thinks pre-existing conditions only happen to bad people, looks like a loser, but Moore is not anyone I want in a national seat.

Taking his points one after the other:

  • If separation of church and state is so Christian, why did organized Christianity ignore it for most of the past two millennia? Christians have used the power of the state to not only persecute other faiths, but to turn on whichever sects were out of power or opposed to the government (something I discussed here).
  • Given his past actions I don’t believe for a minute that he supports freedom of religion in anything close to how most people define the term.
  • When the Constitution was passed many Americans saw it as very anti-Christian. No reference to God establishing America. No religious tests for public office. The First Amendment offering freedom of religion to all. Joseph Story (whom Moore quotes extensively) thought it appropriate to promote Christianity, but Thomas Jefferson thought very differently; James Madison didn’t think even the Congressional chaplain was constitutional. Thomas Paine considered religion as much bollocks as he did the divine right of kings. And more importantly (opinions are one thing, Constitutional text is another), there’s nothing in the Constitution that shows any sign of favoring Christianity or justifying government showing it favor.
  • Moore obviously doesn’t think that people whose religious faith (or non-belief) is compatible with gay marriage should be able to exercise their faith unhampered by the state.
  • No, no American communities are run by sharia law. Moore is bearing false witness against his Muslim neighbors. And like a number of Christians he seems fine with theocracy as long as it’s not Muslim — Moore believes Islam is a false religion incompatible with American values.

Otherwise, Moore’s a generic Republican (even his theocracy isn’t out of line with the rest of the party): Pro Trump’s wall, pro missile defense, anti-activist judges (apparently his own behavior doesn’t count), balance the budget, anti-Obamacare, anti-gays or trans in the military, anti-United Nations.

I realize my post isn’t going to affect Moore’s chances, but I’ve been arguing with theocrats like Moore most of my life. Seeing another one in the Senate repels and alarms me, though it doesn’t surprise me. And while it’s possible he has some rationalization of how his support for Christianity and opposition to Islam does not conflict with the First Amendment, I’m just going with “he’s lying.”

As you can see from her expression, Trixie’s disturbed about Moore too.

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Diversity storm: the Black Witch controversy (#SFWApro)

I haven’t read Laurie Forest’s The Black Witch, so I don’t have an opinion on its merits. However it’s still worth a couple of links.

For those of you who, like me, never heard of the book until just now, it’s the story of Elloren, a woman in a magical world who accepts her people’s racist, homophobic attitudes without question, but over the course of the book, she changes. Despite the change, a number of people found that the racist parts outweighed the uplifting ending. Which Vulture’s Kat Rosenfield says is creating a PC storm on twitter where people who’ve never read the book are outraged by it even though the book is anti-bigotry. Foz Meadows says it’s more complicated than that and as usual, makes a good case.

I think this is a subset of something I’ve talked about before, the difficulty of getting readers invested in unlikable characters. But when the character’s bigoted, that’s tougher and, as the controversy demonstrates, potentially way more offensive. As Justina Ireland says, stories about racists finding redemption are targeted to white readers and white feelings;i t’s not surprising if non-white readers react more to the racism than the redemption.

I suspect the same can be said  of characters who start out anti-gay and get a clue, or about raging sexists. To say nothing of the raging sexists who are presented as acceptable protagonists without changing their views. (Hathor Legacy offers another example).

•Speaking of diversity, here’s former Doctor Christopher Eccleston talking about diversity in the arts.

•Here’s Meadows again, on why she couldn’t finish volume 1 of Saga due to sexist and racist elements. I love the series, but I do think her criticisms are fair.

 

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Lest we be gravediggers

“The Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes—all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the Earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all, their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers.”—Rod Serling, Twilight Zone: Death’s Head Revisited.

Unfortunately we’re already seeing conservatives lining up to shovel those graves by explaining that Nazis and white supremacists aren’t the only issue in Charlottesville. No, the liberals and Black Lives Matter and identity politics, they’re at fault at least as much or even more. Because it’s not like when Martin Luther King was fighting against racism — according to the Wall Street Journal that fight is overthe fault of the left. Now when nonwhite people talk about racism or oppression, it’s just identity politics. And that just inspires extremists on the right, so really it’s the left’s fault (just like we’re responsible for Trump). Erick Erickson just argues flat out that this violence is for pissing off right-wingers.

And of course the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer is celebrating the deaths.

Plus the creeps I linked to this morning.

None of this surprises me. Right-wingers talk very big about getting tough with terrorists, but only when those terrorists are some unrelated, unloved group such as Muslims. I’ve written several columns on right-wing terrorism and violence over the years and invariably trigger outcries of “No, no, it’s a lie, why don’t you mention all the other terrorists?” But even when I mention black militant terrorism, radical leftist terrorism, the Unabomber, etc., they still find my facts politically incorrect (by conservative-PC standards).

Since this morning, Trump has finally denounced white supremacists, which is better than sticking with Both Sides at Fault but … I don’t believe he’s sincere. Whether he’s feeling political pressure or doesn’t like the negative attention (like the Trump Tower protest) I do not know, but I doubt he’s had one of those magic “pivots” to decency. Though if I’m wrong and he’s finally seen some sort of light, I’ll be happy to apologize.

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And yet liberals are supposedly the easily offended ones …

So Jennifer Lawrence poses on the cover of Vogue by the Statue of Liberty (all rights . And one of Breitbart’s editors freaks out because us liberals use the Statue of Liberty as a pro-immigration symbol so clearly this is a direct attack on our beloved Shit-Gibbon president! And maybe Breitbart will start its own fashion section to give readers fashion without liberal propaganda. Because as we know, liberals revere an industry that equates women’s worth with their attaining unrealistic standards of beauty. As TYG says, what would right-wing fashion be — burkhas or seminudity?

In other news:

•I don’t have anything to say about the white supremacist terror attacks in Charlottesville, but I do want to highlight the indignant reactions by some conservatives to the suggestion that a rally for neo-confederates, white supremacists and anti-semites might have a racist aspect. Or outrage at suggestions there’s something objectionable in Trump carefully not blaming white supremacists for the three deaths. Don’t we see the real victim is President Trump! Don’t we know white supremacists are not the problem? As No More Mr. Nice Blog says, Trump’s support would be more likely to drop if he condemned racism.

I will give credit to Ted Cruz (not something I say much) for labeling the deaths as domestic terrorism. And credit to this pastor too.

•Paul Ryan and Scott Walker hate government spending, but not if they can channel it into corporate welfare. And I suspect Eschaton is correct to think that states will find the money to support the self-driving car industry even if they can’t afford any other infrastructure changes.

•Trump wants tax reform, Obamacare repeal and infrastructure bills passed, he just doesn’t want to work on them himself.

•Maybe Mark Twain wasn’t cynical enough? At the link, Slacktivist ponders whether Twain’s biting War Prayer story wouldn’t fit just fine with right-wing bloodlust. I’m sure TV bloviator Joe Scarborough would be fine with death and destruction as long as it didn’t inconvenience him.

•Trump voters blame the media for not reporting all the good news from the White House. Nobody at the link got specific, perhaps because the things Trump has accomplished (make life hell for immigrants, put an anti-gay judge on the Supreme Court) aren’t things they want to admit make them happy. Or perhaps they’re talking about Trump’s support of transgender people. According to our repellently rancid leader, his ban of transpeople in the military was for their own good.

•Taylor Swift says that in 2013, DJ Robert Mueller felt her up. He lost his job, so now he’s suing her for $3 million. She’s countersuing for $1. Huffington Post wonders why more feminists aren’t rallying to support her. For what it’s worth, good for you Ms. Swift!

•I was going to write about this regurgitated David Brooks “it’s the values of the poor that keep them poor” column, but why waste time when Above the Law guts it just as well? In addition to racism (countries run by white Europeans are superior!) unsurprisingly columnist Amy Wax in her praise of marriage exempts gay marriage, which she says is bad.

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