Category Archives: Undead sexist cliches

Rape and harassment apologists for Wednesday

A brilliant new defense of Alabama’s Roy Moore: not all women have accused him.

In an old column, the WaPo’s Richard Cohen refers to Roman Polanski “seducing” the 13 year old he raped.

Mike Cernovich, the Pizzagate conspiracy theorist, is also a rape apologist who says date rape is a myth, because it’s impossible to rape a woman without using force [edited because I misstated his point]. And date rapists can’t use force because—?

With all this in mind, No More Mr. Nice Blog gives the clearest explanation of why even when Repubs side with predator Republicans like Roy Moore, Al Franken resigning is the right thing.

I’d also like to acknowledge Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Toward Women, a response to Marc Lepine gunning down 14 women attending a school he wanted to attend because they were (he believed) feminists and therefore deserved to die

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Sexual harassment, taxes and net neutrality

In response to the question I asked Monday — what do we do about sexual harassment? — one thing we definitely shouldn’t do is worry about the right wing.

The right wing has a huge advantage in that a large number of conservatives don’t give a crap about harassment or rape or adults hitting on young girls, or at least oppose any legal penalties for it. So there’s no conflict in voting for Roy Moore despite his fondness for hitting on teenage girls (of course his other flaws don’t stop them either).And declaring his opponent soft on crime.

When they freak out at Al Franken’s case, it’s purely for partisan gain. So I think trying to worry about what they think or say is pointless: just do the right thing, whatever that is (Franken apologizing and asking for an ethics investigation, for instance). Because whatever we liberals do or say, they’ll ignore it or lie about it. Like claiming Hilary Clinton hasn’t criticized Franken. Or insisting, as some did, that Bill Clinton raped Monica Lewinsky even though she has always been clear it was 100 percent consensual. Or insisting not that “both sides do it” but “only our side does it” (I’ve had that reaction to anti-rape columns I’ve written elsewhere). Or insisting that 1950s morality was better for women (definitely never worry about what Ben Shapiro says).

Related to which, Echidne of the Snakes disagrees with the argument we should never disbelieve the accuser (at least without evidence), suggesting the real issue is avoiding the automatic disbelief that society has engaged in so long (and still does).

Now, stuff about the tax cut. Whiny Sen. Orrin Hatch’s fee-fees were hurt this week because someone called the GOP tax bill a tax cut for the rich. And he’s very, very offended anyone would say he’d support a bill that benefits the rich.

As the BBC says, there are people I want to offend. Because that’s what it is. Tax breaks for private planes. It makes it easier for the rich to pass wealth to their kids while making it harder for lower-class families to move up a notch. They’re lying about it because the truth is so bad (just as Paul Ryan lies about his opposition to government handouts, as long as they go to him). As Krugman says, it’s worse than just not helping the middle class — it makes things worse. And might cripple the Affordable Care Act by eliminating the individual mandate.

And despite abortion being supposedly the moral equivalent of the Holocaust, preserving the tax credit for adoption isn’t as important as cutting taxes on the rich (for once I’m happy pressure from the forced-birth movement made Repubs back off).

Despite the cut’s unpopularity with everyone, Republicans are forging ahead, confident that as with Moore, the base will still prefer them to Dems. As Lance Mannion says, part of this is pure tribalism: even Bad Republicans are One Of Them and should be defended against The Other (this is not unique to Republicans, but a lot of the base take it to an extreme). Part of it is politics: by supporting Republicans they can stop the Gay Abortion Agenda. A lot of it is about race, even though Trump supporters insist otherwise.

Finally, net neutrality is finished, according to the decree of Ajit Pai, FCC Chair (enthusiastically supported by the telecom industry). Pai has spent the past few years opposing any restrictions on telecoms on the grounds free markets! Innovation! Consumer pressure! Never mind that most consumers don’t have options for picking and choosing broadband providers (and the big firms work hard to keep it that way). Or possibly Pai is looking ahead to leaving the FCC and taking a nice high-priced job as an industry lobbyist. Or both. But I’m sure no ISP company would use its power to favor its own websites or subdivisions’ products or anything like that. Nope, no worry here.

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Sexual harassment: now that we know how common it is, what do we do?

It’s a good thing that so many women are talking openly about harassment. But now what? Sure, exposing harassers and dealing with them is good, but preventing harassment is better. As Echidne says, the pendulum could swing the other way, or it could wind up like the reaction to mass shootings — shock after a new revelation, then back to status quo. Which would be bad.

Echidne says, permanent change would require men not supporting or defending other men who harass; punishment that puts a penalty on the harassers (someone else suggested it’s also important punishment be frequent enough to be actually intimidating) ; and changes to the underlying culture.

How we get there? That’s tougher. Worse the solutions some people want are the same they always want: women have to behave better. Sexist antifeminist Matt Walshl f0r instance, says we fix things by having people “observe the Mike Pence Rule” (never be alone with a member of the opposite sex), emphasize chastity and also modesty.

As noted at the link (not direct), men beiing chaste would help — but I doubt that’s what Walsh means. It’s just part of his general view that premarital sex inevitably leads to rape (part of the conservative myth of the golden age of chastity). And “Modesty” only makes sense if Walsh thinks it’s slutty behavior or clothing that causes rape/harassment. But Weinstein’s assaults were carefully planned; Roy Moore often asked girl’s parents for permission to meet with them. That’s predatory calculation, not blind lust.

Ross Douthat (who blamed Harvey Weinstein on sexual permissiveness) suggests we Do Something to prevent men in patriarchal systems from using their authority to abuse women. True, but as Echidne points out at the link, it’s the nature of patriarchy that men rule over women; conservatives in all three Abrahamic religions impose rules of modesty on women, limit their freedom and promote male dominance (and Douthat’s cool with that stuff). Sexists say patriarchy protects women; exploiting women is actually part and parcel of patriarchy.

As for the Pence rule, why should women be shut out of mentoring or meetings because Pence can’t trust himself to stay chaste? I can just imagine if it were a woman in power making that decision: right-wingers would be shrieking about how the Evil Feminazi is discriminating against men by refusing to meet them or they’d declare that nobody would want to rape the fugly old bat. The Pence rule will only be considered a good solution by right-wingers as long as its women whose careers are affected (some of Weinstein’s victims, for instance, were afraid refusing a meeting would be a career-killer).

On the left, following Al Franken admitting to a charge of sexual harassment (dating back some years, to when he was just a comedian), there’s been debate about what the right “strategy” is in this situation. I definitely don’t think that should be the primary issue; I don’t know if resignation (as it has nothing to do with Franken’s elected office) is the moral course, but whatever the moral path is, Franken should follow it (some discussion of that in this LGM post).

For a bonus, there’s muchon in this LGM post about discussi Sen. Al Franken and whether he ought to quit. I have no opinion on whether an incident of harassment (taking place while someone else was around, Matt Walsh!) years before his election is grounds for resigning (that is not an excuse for it), but I don’t think “he should resign or the right-wingers will just say that’s proof ‘the left’ is just attacking Moore” is a good argument. Right-wingers can just as easily hold up Clinton or Edward Kennedy or a myth like “pizzagate” if they want to prove it’s the left that’s really the problem; it won’t matter whether liberals denounce the behavior or not (e.g., Maureen Dowd discussing how in the alt.America where Clinton beat Trump, Weinstein isn’t exposed). If Franken resigns, it should be because that’s the right thing to do, not just a political tactic.

What’s a good solution? As  I’m inclined myself to rephrase one of Cato’s letters from 1721: “The only security which we can have that men will not harass, is to make it their interest not to harass; and the best defense which we can have against their being predators, is to make it terrible to them to be predators. As there are many men wicked in some stations, who would be innocent in others; the best way is to make wickedness unsafe in any station.” But again, how?

 

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Conservative nostalgia is a dangerous delusion

So Kevin Sorbo’s wife Sam Sorbo has an editorial on Fox News (not linking to it) recycling the time-honored conservative/religious right about how America has lost its moral compass: “American society used to be governed by Judeo-Christian do-unto-others morals. But we have drifted (been pushed, really) into a hedonistic YOLO (You Only Live Once) cultural morass. The upshot of this is a distinct lack of respect for human life in general, as well as a pervasive, insidious obsession with self.” And go figure, her primary examples are not billionaires demanding the biggest tax cuts but Clinton supposedly selling U.S. uranium to Russia and football players protesting police-on-black violence.

Fantasies of some golden age when everyone was moral, kids respected their elders and we could leave our doors unlocked probably go back as long as we’ve had doors. The trouble is, Sorbo, like a lot of religious conservatives, wants us to believe it’s true (and may believe it herself). It’s not. “Judeo-Christian do-unto-others morals” (I always interpret “Judeo-Christian” as “Christian but we don’t want to sound bigoted”) didn’t do anything to stop the hundreds of blacks lynched in the South under Jim Crow — white evangelical churches were strongly against integration and civil rights (that was Jerry Falwell’s big political issue for years). Conservative Christianity was on the wrong side of the women’s rights movement, then on the gay rights movement. Some members are against any religion but their own having First Amendment rights. The idea that we’re in some moral cesspool because we don’t follow Ms. Sorbo’s view of God is just crapola.

Case in point, Bible-thumping theocrat Roy Moore has now been accused of hitting on and getting physical (though not actual presentation) with girls as young as 14 (oh, here are his past views on rape and child abuse). I will be astonished if it makes a difference because a lot of voters in the Bible Belt define “Christian” as anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-liberal, and Moore fits the bill nicely. One voter has declared it’s better to vote for a pedophile than a Democrat because he hates Democrats and thinks they’re evil (a view he apparently does not hold of pedophiles).

Sean Hannity’s interview with Moore apparently left some pundits convinced he’s guilty.  But it’s unlikely any Republican pols will do anything to oppose Moore but wring their hands.

I blogged a while back about allegations Eddie Berganza at DC Comics was a sexual harasser. Buzzfeed presents the words of several women who say yes, he was.

Putin says Russia didn’t meddle in the 2016 election. Trump is very, very upset that people don’t believe him — it might hurt Putin’s feelings.

Trump might not build a border wall or repeal Obamacare, but he’s sure as hell getting right-wing judges appointed to the bench.

Trump thinks a primary argument for passing Republican tax cuts is that he’ll pay a lot without them.

Apparently the UK finds Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity violate broadcast standards for news shows.

A member of the sexist Proud Boys movement thinks trans candidates only won because women have the vote and women vote based on feelings. In contrast, presumably to his loathing for transsexuals which I’m sure he imagines is totally logical.

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Believing the worst, and other topics

For openers, we have a Trump-backing pastor’s claim Hollywood is rife with cannibalism and human sacrifice. Why do people swallow this stuff? Like Alex Jones’ claims about Satanic pizza parlors sex-slave rings based on Mars,  it’s a convenient way to feel good: “Their message here is not ‘x is bad’ but ‘I, personally and heroically, disapprove of x'” as Slacktivist puts it at the second link. For example, those people who were excited to know evil liberals were going to wage war on them last weekend.

As Hilzoy points out this is seductive (a way to feel virtuous without doing anything virtuous) but it’s also self-destructive, unjust and toxic. Slacktivist adds, however, that when we see evidence people aren’t arguing in good faith, we should trust the evidence (“The presumption of charity in conversation is just like the presumption of innocence in a criminal trial”).

Moving on—

Harvey Weinstein employed an army of detectives and spies (literally ex-Mossad agents) to keep his victims quiet (h/tip the Mary Sue). And David Brooks explains it’s all those people engaging in free love that make Weinstein possible. Lucy Prebble looks at casting-couch culture. And what of Weinstein’s employees?

The Republican tax plan specifies that fetuses qualify for college savings plans.

One of those baker vs. gay couples cases is headed to the Supreme Court. Scott Lemieux discusses why the cake shop is in the wrong.

Right-wing pundits respond to the most recent shooting massacre. Like the inevitable claims more guns in church is the solution. Novelist Brad Thor made a similar point about the New York vehicular homicide recently, but he’s wrong.

No More Mr. Nice Blog suggests if right-wingers keep demanding Muslims police their extremists, gun culture should be held to the same standard. Echidne, however, argues against sweeping generalizations.

In response to John Kelly’s claim the Civil War failed through lack of compromise

If Republicans want to make taxes simpler they could support proposals for form-free filing.

Trump picks anti-feminist Penny Nance, who thinks Frozen should have had a male protagonist, as our ambassador at large for women’s issues.

Coal country workers still believe Trump will revive the industry.

Trump’s ruling that employers with moral objections to birth control don’t have to cover it begins to have effect. Or does it — apparently Notre Dame University is backing off.

Trump may be president, but he’s indistinguishable from a pissed-off loudmouth drunk. Unfortunately his core supporters are totally committed, insisting simultaneously he’s accomplished a lot and that they don’t care he hasn’t accomplished anything. I think the interviewees are an excellent example of people not arguing in good faith — for all their claims Trump’s a dynamic, accomplished leader, they can’t actually cite any evidence.

According to some right-wingers, the correct response to any terror attack should be fear and pants-wetting.

Mark Silk looks at the divisions over immigrants in the Catholic Church.

All the reasons we shouldn’t be nostalgic for George W. Bush’s presidency (“The Iraq disaster killed 4,500 U.S. soldiers, something like 400,000 Iraqis, and radically destabilized the entire region. It led directly to the rise of ISIS and contributed powerfully to the Syrian Civil War. It was the worst foreign policy blunder in American history.”)

To end with good news: woot, that was some great electioneering Tuesday! It doesn’t make President Shit-Gibbon dissipate (and some of the racist ads at the link are horrifying), but all those victories prove that (as usual) the same side of America isn’t dead yet.

And to end on a really fun (but very raunchy note — NSFW people!) here’s Rachel Bloom’s Hugo-nominated music video, Fuck Me Ray Bradbury! All rights to cover below remain with current holder.

 

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And sexism for Thursday, because one day a week isn’t enough (unfortunately)

The Catholic forced-birth nonprofit Human Life International supports El Salvador’s complete ban on abortions. Which includes jail time for women who abort no matter what the circumstances, even with a nonviable baby and the mother’s life at stake. But remember, forced birthers really, really don’t want to punish the mother!

Speaking of which, I’ve written before about the kind of nonsystemic prosecutions and judicial decisions that punish the mother. I think it’s an example of the spontaneous order this libertarian feminist post talks about (which is not to say the author would agree with me). The post discusses how repeated rapes, threats and acts of harassment, even though they’re not organized by the Sexism Central Committee, can add up so that rape culture spontaneously forms. Likewise, I think, all the countless little forced-birth decisions (like Texas banning insurers from covering abortion costs) create a kind of spontaneous order of forced-birth culture.

A men’s rights activist argues that as women weren’t allowed to serve in combat until recently, the military were discriminating against men by getting them killed or maimed. So the solution is to draft women and no men until there are as many dead and injured women as the male dead of the past. An “involuntary celibate” says women who stay in abusive relationships should be prosecuted as they’re helping the abuser.

A Harvard Business School articles argues that if you believe men are superior to women it’s totally not sexist to discriminate in hiring! At the link, Shakezula cries bullshit.

Slacktivist reminds us that fundamentalists had no problem with Roe v. Wade until the 1980s, so they didn’t always think Abortion Is Obviously Murder.

It doesn’t matter whether its Weinstein harassing women or Milo Yiannopoulis talking about sex with fourteen year olds, it’s liberals who are at fault. Of course as Lance Mannion points out, to conservatives liberals are always at fault. Case in point, Bret Stephens of the NYT explaining Weinstein getting away with it can all be blamed on Hollywood! liberals! (or women!) rather than Power and Money! Oh, and Yiannopoulis is already on the way back to the right wing’s good graces (“he and I are on the same page here, in this excerpt from an interview with America magazine, which he says they refused to print”).

Or of course, we can blame taking prayer out of schools (note: kids can pray in schools, schools just can’t organize prayers) for Weinstein. Or turn assault into a comic punchline.

John Scalzi and Mark Evanier look at how it’s possible not to know about predators like Weinstein (which Scalzi notes is not saying “nobody who wasn’t harassed didn’t know.”). The NYT looks at business people who take the Pence option: don’t meet with women alone rather than “don’t sexually harass women.” Echidne looks at how that and other “solutions” put the burden on the women. One suggestion for a better approach? Imagine the woman who wants to meet with you was Dwayne Johnson.

Sexist but funny in a black-humored way: white supremacists are torn between the need to recruit white women and the desire to subjugate them (” ‘it is a woman’s responsibility to prove she is worthy of the privilege’ of submitting to a man and bearing his children”).

For something with some sense, Drew Magary writes on Deadspin about being a jerk (to women and others) and believing he was 100 percent justified: “Anyone who gets offended is overly sensitive. PC. Hysterical. Weak. They’re just pretending to be offended to get attention. White guys simply can’t imagine anyone getting truly upset over words, mainly because there are no such words that can traumatize them similarly.” Only now he’s learned better, and it sounds like he really has. Hat tip LGM. Magary’s post ties in a lot with what I wrote about the jerk/free spirit dichotomy.

And for more good news, here’s a profile of the judge who helped one illegal immigrant get an abortion despite the Trump administration’s opposition.

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The myth of Stepford (#SFWApro)

 

Writing about the suburbs (it ties in to her new book Switchback), Melissa Olson argues that while suburbs initially appealed to homeowners because they presented a clean, peaceful, perfect facade, they horrify us (and her) for the same reason: “the first generation of suburban kids had grown up, developing a deep unease and distrust of this attempted perfection. As a result, we got books and films like The Stepford Wives, Carrie, Poltergeist, Halloween, ‘The Lottery,’ and so on. The problem with the suburbs, these works argued, is that their quest for perfection becomes a quest for conformity—and conformity breeds corruption, in all its forms.”

This is a slapdash analysis. “The Lottery” was a 1948 story, way earlier than the others, and it’s set in a traditional rural community. And I wouldn’t buy that Halloween and Carrie express anything about the suburbs because they take place in one, any more than Ghostbusters or Troll imply anything about apartment life. And then we get Stepford Wives, where Olson is really, really wrong (all rights to image remain with current holder).

It’s true the movie starts out with Katharine Ross and her family relocating from New York to the bucolic bedroom community of Stepford. But even then, her husband is plotting to replace her with an obedient, big-breasted sexbot. Not because “Rebellious, feminist Joanna Eberhardt must be replaced in order to keep Stepford pure and perfect” but because some men (as one specifically points out at the climax) would sooner have an obedient, eternally beautiful sex doll that does the chores than a real woman who ages and sometimes disagrees with them.

The suburbs have nothing to do with it. Pop culture simply took the movie (and Ira Levin’s source novel) and plugged them into an existing trope, that suburbs suck. They’re soulless. Conformist. They don’t have the vibrancy of a big city, but nor are they quaint or traditional like small towns. So they become the bogeyman and the message of Stepford becomes “live in the suburbs, have your brain and personality sucked out.” Which is probably easier to digest than contemplating that feminists might have a point about men’s attitudes.

And so everyone, including Olson “knows” Stepford Wives is about the sins of living in a suburb (note: I’ve lived in a couple and I like them just fine). The movie Perfect Little Angels, for example, is set in a gated community where planner Michael York uses brainwashing to turn rebellious teenagers into model citizens. Characters keep remarking the squeaky clean, smoothly functioning community is Just Like Stepford.

At Slacktivist, Fred Clark discusses how things everybody knows are influenced by pop culture and influence it in turn.

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