Category Archives: Undead sexist cliches

And just think, these guys get paid for writing about politics and I don’t.

That’s not the worst thing about the string of stupid right-wing responses to Harvey Weinstein’s history of predatory sexual behavior and alleged rape, but yes, it annoys me a little that these hacks get paid well for spewing bullshit.

The revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s predatory sex history has drawn much more attention from right-wing pundits than Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly or Trump, because Weinstein’a Hollywood liberal, and he donates money to Democrats, so they’re free to condemn him without hurting their side. And they can use Weinstein to take shots at feminism, premarital sex and Democrats, which excites them more than taking shots at rapists or condemning the ability of the rich and powerful to silence women. And in fairness, it’s up to the usual quality of right-wing thinking on rape and harassment.

•Ross Douthat, for example, gets space on the NYT’s editorial page to agree with Weinstein the real issue is 1970s permissiveness: “Never so many divorces, never so many abortions, a much higher rate of rape, an S.T.D. crisis that culminated in the AIDS epidemic.” Um, no. We had higher reporting of rape. We had a high rate of divorce (assuming Douthat’s accurate, which can be a mistake) not because of culture but because n0-fault divorce had become legal and a lot of people were ready to fly. And abortion had just become legal and hadn’t yet suffered the thousand restrictions the right-wing has wielded since (the religious right thought abortion was moral at the time).

Saying society’s to blame is a conservative standby, like assertions women get raped because of hook-up culture or not being virgins. And sorry, Douthat, Roman Polanski slipping a 13-year-old girl booze and drugs, then raping her, is not some natural outcome of Hollywood free love and premarital sex. Saying so makes you no different from any other Polanski rape apologist.

•Next up Dennis Prager who confuses “objectifying women” with “finding women attractive.” Plus the bizarre claim that women would sooner look at a woman stripping for other men than look at a man getting naked (no, it didn’t make sense in the original).

•David French resorts to the classic right-wing argument that fussing about consent is baaaad. We liberals believe consent is the only important thing so we’re fine with crap like bosses banging subordinates (as noted at the link, French assumes or chooses to think if consent is important nothing else is — and he even equates pressuring a subordinate for sex as “consensual” if she says yes) And it’s bad for women because men feel free to proposition women for one-night stands because Evil Liberal Morality says those are okay, and so women are not protected from men having sex with them without offering marriage, which supposedly never happened back in the good old days.

(Bad sexist, rape/harassment apologist arguments make me SCREAM! Painting by Edvard Much, of course)

•SF novelist John Ringo saves me the trouble of ever reading his books by explaining that women who get angry at Trump for no good reason (“Donald Trump said some needlessly crass things and alleged to have groped women”) do so because they’re angry at Weinstein and other liberals, but they’re afraid “they might be thrown out of the in-crowd” if the speak up (rather than, say, blacklisted by a Hollywood powerhouse). So Democrats are ultra-evil and conservatives are off the hook. And liberals are at fault for not stopping Weinstein

It’s true the NYT spiked a 2004 story about Weinstein, and it has those rape-apologist columnists. But it also broke the more recent story; where were those vigilant right-wing media outlets Breitbart and Fox News? And as for self-policing, how much did the right-wing media do about Ailes or O’Reilly? Or Trump, beyond tut-tutting a lot.

Ringo, at least, isn’t primarily a political columnist. Neither is accused abuser Woody Allen, who thinks the big issue is a witch hunt for predators and men getting sued for perfectly harmless flirting. Which is an old argument. And an old argument.

•Sebastian Gorka argues this proves Mike Pence is right — if Weinstein never met women alone, they’d be fine. Overlooking that he did meet women in the company of others, who were then sent out of the room. And that not meeting with a major Hollywood player could be a real problem for women’s careers. I guarantee you, if Hilary Clinton had become president and would only meet alone with women, the right’s stance would be that a)she’s a man-hater and b)probably a lesbian. It’s only okay as long as women are the ones who suffer, since their careers don’t matter anyway.

And more generally, blaming the women — for being alone with Weinstein, for dressing too sexy, whatever — is crap. It’s always crap.

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More idiocy, plus some evil

Last week I tackled right-wing stupidity. This week more stupidity, plus some evil. Decide for yourself which is which. As you can see, even Plush Dog is upset by these people.

A city employee in Austin refuses to meet with female coworkers because he doesn’t think it’s appropriate for a married man to meet single women, even for business. And other men, elsewhere, doing it.

Anyone who thinks Republicans really believe in leaving things to the states as a principle, rather than when it benefits them. Case in point, allowing concealed-carry permit holders to pack heat in another concealed-carry state without a permit. Or to ban abortions nationwide after 20 weeks instead of just leaving it to the states.

Oxycontin makers who pushed the pills despite the risks of addiction and death.

The Trump Administration has a new way to kill Obamacare: cutting the enrollment period.

Congress let funding for CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) run out while obsessing over Obamacare.

The attacks on San Juan’s mayor for criticizing President Shit-Gibbon. More here.

The “you can’t regulate evil” argument against gun control.

The determination of some political writers that Republicans aren’t worse than Democrats.

Any political pundits who think Trump is ever going to be a unifying figure.

The senator who says food and shelter are privileges. I’m used to arguments that they’re not rights, but privileges? Lance Manion dissects this further.

Wells Fargo for claiming it’s okay to block customer lawsuits over those thousands of fake accounts and force them into arbitration because they’ll never screw up like that again.

Pat Robertson, who spat venom at Clinton and Obama for years, has now decided things like the Las Vegas shooter can be blamed on our disrespect for the president. This epiphany will last until we get a new Democratic president (should Robertson live that long) at which point Robertson will revert to venom. We also have Sen. James Inhofe, who once said the US deserved 9/11 (insufficient support for Israel) blaming it on the existence of sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants.

Catholic bishops who think that HPV vaccinations are bad because they reduce the reasons not to have sex.  Given the church loves sanctifying women who die to save their virtue, this isn’t that surprising.

A writer who thinks brunch, once a classy elegant event, has been destroyed by hedonistic twentysomethings who should get jobs as plumbers. Dude, I think brunch stopped being classy when they began offering it at Denny’s.

US surveillance helps Ethiopa crack down on dissidents.

Azerbaijan cracks down on gays.

Armed groups enslaving and raping women in the Central African Republic.

Harvey Weinstein, who allegedly successfully covered up his abuse of women for years, and the various journalists who enabled him. And of course right-wing pundits pretending this is a unique liberal problem. John Scalzi adds more. No More Mr. Nice Blog points out Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids were more interested in slamming Weinstein’s victims than exposing him.

Everyone at Breitbart for their work normalizing white supremacy. And non-alt.right reporters who helped. And academics who helped.

The Trump administration for ruling that any employer who claims a moral objection to providing birth control coverage in their employee insurance can drop it. As I’ve pointed out before, it’s always the women’s health that shouldn’t be covered — no suggestion that they can cut off any other coverage. And it’s more evil as it’s unlikely Trump himself has any passionate conviction to corporations having religious rights. Good for California for suing to stop this shit.

Cops who rape, and media that slut-shame the victim.

And let’s not forget that our president literally claims he’s a genius.

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Being a jerk does not make you a free spirit

Researcher Alice Wu recently reported found that while talk about male economists on an economics message board was mostly business (economics and career advice), the discussions about women were not: the words most commonly used for women were “hotter, lesbian, bb (internet speak for “baby”), sexism, tits, anal, marrying, feminazi, slut, hot, vagina, boobs, pregnant, pregnancy, cute, marry, levy, gorgeous, horny, crush, beautiful, secretary, dump, shopping, date, nonprofit, intentions, sexy, dated and prostitute.”

As the article and Echidne point out, this isn’t a statistically valid survey. But like Echidne I noticed that Harvard economics professor George Borjas defended the forum on the grounds of freedom and political incorrectness: ““There’s still hope for mankind when many of the posts written by a bunch of over-educated young social scientists illustrate a throwing off of the shackles of political correctness and reflect mundane concerns that more normal human beings share: prestige, sex, money, landing a job, sex, professional misconduct, gossip, sex. …” (Borjas did concede some of the board’s content is offensive).

I sort of understand the urge to rebel and break the rules just for the fun of breaking them (it’s not an urge I seem to have myself — if I break the rules, I’d like to have a good reason.For example, I’ll scarf a lot of Whole Foods’ free cheese samples rather than politely take a couple of cubes because I love cheese (I’m sure you’re all awed by my badassery). But I also understand that breaking the rules, challenging convention and defying conformity do not, and frankly should not, equate to being a jerk, jackass or douchebag. Just because academics are told they shouldn’t be sexist pigs, that doesn’t make being a sexist pig an act of rebellion. Being a sexist pig is just … being a sexist pig.

This is an attitude that, as I’ve mentioned before, crops up quite a bit in fiction. In A Fine Madness, we’re told Sean Connery is a Greenwich Village poet and free spirit. In reality, he’s a creep who cheats on his wife (can’t be bound by conventional morality!) and treats everyone else like dirt (he has no patience for social hypocrisy!). At no point does he challenge convention in any way that doesn’t benefit him. Likewise The Dice Man‘s protagonist talks a lot about self-fulfillment and not being bound by convention; in practice that means he’s free to rape women just because he wants to (if he doesn’t do it, he’s repressing his authentic self!).

Similarly, when conservatives squeal about “PC,” what they usually mean (as Northier Than Thou put it) that they want to be jerks without suffering blowback. To yell obscenities at women without being called on it. To drop the n-bomb or any of the other bombs without being told their racist. To be as racist, sexist, classist and bullying as possible without any blowback. To create “safe spaces” for themselves everywhere by shutting blacks, gays, women out of everywhere (because it’s sooo damn hard to deal with all that liberalism around them). By calling it “political incorrectness” they can fantasize that rather than bigots, they’re rebellious freedom fighters — nobody can stop them from calling women sluts or saying blacks are mentally inferiors! When theocrat Roy Moore says sodomy is unnatural he’s being anti-PC and daringly outspoken, not a homophobic bigot.

There are lots of ways to be a genuine nonconformist. Just march to the beat of your different drummer, as Thoreau put it. Indulge in fun stuff that society frowns upon but that doesn’t hurt other people (drugs, sex, banned books, etc.). Write or say things that punch up rather than punching down. Actually fight the system for change, like Martin Luther King and the suffragettes.

If you’re just a sexist, racist jerk, you’re doing rebellion wrong.

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Cut the bullshit forced birthers!

I’m sure you’ll be shocked and stunned that the new Let the Poors Die Faster bill, AKA Obamacare repeal, includes a shit-ton of restrictions on abortion, Planned Parenthood funding, etc.[UPDATE: Forced-birther Rick Santorum was a primary architect]. And gets us back to the old days when plans were free not to cover maternity benefits (which more than three quarters did not cover). When they talk about turning decision-making over to the states, they mean letting states make decisions they like.

As I’ve said before, and will undoubtedly say again, this is less about poor murdered babies than about their horror at women having sex without risking pregnancy. [UPDATE AGAIN: As witness Trump is slashing support for non-abstinence sex ed, even though those programs are better at preventing teen pregnancy] Beyond that, the focus on “why should men pay for plans with maternity benefits” (as opposed to “plans should stop covering testicular cancer! Women shouldn’t have to pay for that crap!”) is both sexist and stupid. Men father children. A lot of men actually want the woman and baby to get good care, and it’s a lot more affordable with insurance. Even if the couple are done with kids, the same applies to grandkids. Maternity care is not some frivolity just because the patient is a woman. Heck, all these men were born, aren’t they glad their mom had a doctor (though I admit the country might be better off if the Republican senators had all been stillborn). As Slacktivist says, these guys ain’t just sexist, they’re stupid.

Oh Slacktivist is also running a series quoting from a mid-1970s conservative evangelical book which makes it clear abortion isn’t murder. That changed a few years later when the Religious Right got rolling as a political force and needed a rallying cry.

 

 

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Undead Sexist Cliche: Heroism redux

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hurricane Harvey pounding Houston has led some conservatives to start up the blather about how men are men and women are girls, and what women want is a Real Man.

Courtesy of LGM, I discovered that right-wingers Jesse Kelly and Matt Walsh have both Tweeted photos of male first responders in Harvey with the point that This Is What Women Want (and in Walsh’s case, What They’re Supposed To Want). Kelly specifically contrasted a responder with a photo of “pajama boy,” the very non-macho looking guy shown in some of the early Obamacare ads signing up online (an image that by sheer lack of machismo coupled with the Evil Kenyan Tyrant’s healthcare plan whipped some conservatives to a frenzy at the time).

This is something we’ve seen before, in the aftermath of 9/11. As Susan Faludi noted a few years later, the media showered us with scenes of heroic men rescuing helpless women on 9/11, even though most victims were men and some responders were women. It ties in to the idea that heroism is supposed to be uniquely male, and that men should be protecting women even if they’re incompetent at it (if I’m dating Black Widow or Black Canary, then it’s my responsibility to fight off an attacker, even though they’re better at it).

And it is, like most Undead Sexist Cliches, wrong. For starters, there’s the assumption that What Women Want is a single thing common to everyone with two X-chromosomes: all women must desire the same thing in a man. Which in the eyes of Kelly and Walsh is, unsurprisingly, a big strong man who will protect them (and I imagine Be The Boss away from the crisis).

And some women do want that. Other women might like to hit that, but not marry that. Other women go for Pajama Boy. Or something else entirely. If my wife wanted big and strong, I’d still be single. Heck, Walsh probably would be too: if you click through from LGM, you’ll see his photo. He looks like Pajama Boy with stubble. Which is a perfectly fine thing to be, but he doesn’t seem to live up to his own standard of What Women Want. Nor is he rushing down to Texas to do some manly heroism, as far as I know. Perhaps, as George Orwell said of warhawks, he figures talking the talk is a substitute for walking the walk.

Then there’s the underlying assumption of a total, black-and-white dichotomy. Men are the savers. Women are to be saved. Men are other successful manly male or they’re PJ-boy wimps.

Only there are women first responders (cops, EMTs, paramedics) and women in the National Guard (many state guards are going to Houston). Possibly there are none working Hurricane Harvey but it’s not as if men really get all the heroism to themselves. Would Walsh and Kelly suggest that if a woman rescuer pulls a guy to safety he should resist and insist on doing it himself?

And there’s no reason Pajama Boy couldn’t be fully trained in krav maga, or have a life membership in NRA. Or that the manly rescuers in Harvey can’t be going home to their husbands, or spend the evening reading Keats’ poetry.  But thinking like that goes against traditional gender roles, which pushes panic buttons for some right-wingers. They desperately want to believe (or want their audience to believe) that those gender roles cannot change except when feminists brainwash people into doing gender wrong.

I’m all in favor of heroism. If TYG were in danger, I sincerely hope that short and nonmuscular though I am, I’d take a bullet for her. But if the tables were turned and she had to save me, I’d be proud of her for doing it.

 

 

 

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Delusions of Gender

DELUSIONS OF GENDER: How Our Minds, Society and Neurosexism Create Difference by Cordelia Fine (cover design by Kelly Blair, all rights remain with current holder) was one I had on the list of research of Undead Sexist Cliches: the book. I’m not sure it told me anything I had not heard at some point, but putting it all together makes it that much more compelling.

Fine’s point is that the belief gender is fixed and immutable (gender skills, gender roles, whatever) doesn’t hold up. Specifically the assorted tests and science “proving” women can’t X doesn’t pan out, and most of the evidence can be explain by the items in the subtitle:

Minds: Our minds swim in a sexist sea where gender rules and roles are everywhere. So it’s not surprising at some level they’re waiting to burst out when prodded. People who take tests measuring gender abilities in different skills are influenced by knowing that, say women aren’t supposed to be good at this (advanced math) or have a natural flair (empathic reading of other people’s feelings). The counter evidence is that if the tests are framed differently, performance changes. Matching and comparing 3D images, for instance, is something men usually do better at. Scores of both genders can be influenced by describing the skill as one used in “male” fields (architecture, engineering) or female (fashion, decorating). Men’s performance on empathy tests goes way up if they’re told things like “women find empathic men who can pick up on their feelings very attractive.” (go figure).

Society. One of the standard arguments for gender differences is that even kids raised gender neutral conform to them. Fine shows (much as I’ve always suspected) that it’s next to impossible to block out the gender messages society, and other children, send. By two, kids are aware of the differences men and women display; by four, they’re typically following the script. But again, the script can be shuffled: a My Little Pony tricked out to look dangerous becomes a boy toy, pretend guns with satiny coverings are for girls.

Neurosexism: Fine goes into detail how must neurological theories demonstrating men and women just don’t think the same way (men can’t express emotion, men are more logical, whatever) have gaping holes. And the typical magazine and newspaper reports on them are even weaker, battening onto whatever conforms our stereotypes (I’ve seen “men want to get laid, women want love” tossed off as a proven scientific truth a hundred times).

It’s a good book, and adds a couple more ideas to my own work.

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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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