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Today’s Feminism

Saw this on Twitter this evening and got to thinking. 

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The topmost tweet is that one that caught my attention. I’ll quote it in case it’s difficult to read. 

Most gamers seem to support equality feminism. What they reject is today’s male-bashing, propaganda-driven, female chauvinism.

I read a lot of claims about “modern feminism” or “3rd wave feminism” or even “4th wave feminism” being somehow separate from “equality feminism”, but I don’t usually see much else. It’s just sort of thrown out as though it’s self-evident that mainstream feminism today has abandoned the old standard of “the radical notion that women are people” and become an excuse for male-bashing by ugly, uppity women. 

Actually, I’m pretty sure people have been saying that about women’s rights movements since before “feminism” was a word. 

Honestly I do have an actual point to get to, but first I have to wonder: is “male-bashing, propaganda-driven, female chauvinism” actually a thing? I mean, I’ve seen a couple of websites that describe themselves as “radical feminists” and do seem to be openly hostile towards men, but they seem to be fairly isolated and don’t attempt to, you know, actually oppress men in any way. I just haven’t seen any of this male-bashing in a position of actual influence, you see, and certainly not to the point that you could describe it as though it were the primary voice of feminism today. 

But moving on, the bottommost tweet added some context, which really must be appreciated. 

I always expected other liberal-minded scholars to join me in exposing 3rd wave feminist lunacy.Never happened.But now the gamers r here.

Just so we’re clear, is there some other clash between feminists and gamers, or is she actually talking about the waves of hate and abuse Anita Sarkeesian has been receiving for the heinous crime of creating a video series examining common sexist tropes in video games? You know, the shit that’s gotten so bad that blogging about the death threats she’s received is enough to bring death threats of your own down on you?

Because to be honest, I’m not really seeing that as “exposing 3rd wave feminist lunacy”. Not even a little. It really looks like pure reactionary anger to me. 

Look, I’m not all-knowing. Maybe I’ve missed some vital context here.

Truth is, lately I’ve gotten lazy about checking sources & background on anything to do with feminism, because it’s always boiled down to a bunch of guys with a sense of entitlement whining. I think the turning point was a kerfluffle about a conference instituting a sexual harassment policy for the first time. The outcry wasn’t over the content or implementation of the new policy, it was that they had a sexual harassment policy at all.

Not that it’s really relevant, but from what I recall the policy itself was pretty boilerplate. Instructions to staff dealing with complaints were basically, “Document everything, and call the police if someone asks you to.”

It’s gotten increasingly difficult for me to take this sort of thing seriously since then. 


A weaker target

Got an email this morning from Courage Campaign, informing me that the people behind prop 8 are now attacking a law that attempts to protect trans kids from discrimination and bullying. My immediate reaction is that being no longer able to beat up gay adults with prop 8, they looked for a more vulnerable target and chose trans children.

The rationale given for opposing this anti-bullying measure is the old narrative that a trans woman is just a man in drag, so they’re trying to keep boys out of the girl’s locker rooms. Look, the social fallout for being a teenage boy who sneaks into the girl’s locker room is very slight, often effectively non-existent, while the consequences of being perceived as trans, or just not hetero-normative, start with bullying and go all the way to murder. You’re bravely defending the strong from the weak, here.

Anyway, mobile posts encourage me to be brief so I’ll sign off here. Take care!

Saunders’ List

Let’s take a look at Peter Saunders list of Ten reasons not to legalise same-sex marriage in BritainI won’t be quoting his full arguments for the whole list, because this is already doomed to be a very long post.

1. Marriage is the union of one man and one woman

Throughout history in virtually all cultures and faiths throughout the world, marriage has been held to be the union of one man and one woman. Marriage existed thousands of years before our nation began and has been recognised in our laws as the ‘voluntary union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others for life’ (Hyde v Hyde 1866). The UN Declaration of Human Rights (article 16) recognises that the family, headed by a man and a woman, ‘is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State’. It is not up to governments to redefine marriage – but simply to recognise it for what it is, and to promote and protect it as a unique institution.

Wow, factually wrong right out of the gate. Throughout history the most common form of marriage has been polygamous. It’s even in the Old Testament of the Bible, according to 1 Kings 11 king Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, though I suspect he may have inflated the number while bragging.

Check out the basic point here, though. Saunders appears to be saying same sex marriage shouldn’t be allowed because right now it isn’t allowed. So we shouldn’t change the rules to allow it because right now it isn’t allowed.

I’m getting a headache already.  Read the rest of this entry

Threats in Rhode Island

So this has been all over the blogosphere since yesterday, I may as well weigh in. Jessica Ahlquist, the evil little thing who noticed that her Cranston, RI high school was breaking the law and told them to stop, got a letter in the mail. I’ll put it below the fold. EDIT: I’m following Jessica’s lead and taking down the letter for now. I might put it back up later. Let’s just say it includes threats of violence and rape and claims to be from many “Crusaders”, that should be enough for this post to make sense.

Remember, what she did to provoke this was point out that a prayer banner in her public high school was illegal and should be removed. Which eventually required a court order to achieve. Read the rest of this entry

Ex-gays and the Anoka-Hennepin School District

Doesn’t it sound like the world’s most awkward band name?

I found this article very interesting. I’ve written about Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin School District before, and probably will again. It’s nice to see the school district standing up to the Parents Action League, gives me hope that maybe there really will be a better future for the children in those schools.

The Parents Action League is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a title they wear with pride. That probably tells you just about everything you need to know about them, really.

Something the PAL was pushing for pretty hard in their list of demands was including “ex-gay” material in the school libraries and counseling offices, and generally providing access and credibility to ex-gay organizations. Frankly you start to wonder if someone has a money interest, there. Read the rest of this entry

One small battle won.

Here’s a Rolling Stone article from a month ago about the Anoka-Hennepin school district and its war on gay kids, which I have written about before. It’s painful to read, it tells the stories of a handful of victims of that school district in a very personal way. I won’t blame you if you can’t read it in detail. There will not be a test.

I bring this up because there’s been a tiny victory. A lawsuit settled out of court, some concessions to new policies, a cash payment. You can read the details of the settlement here. One member of the school board, Kathy Tingelstad, resigned. She said the settlement was going to cost too much.

Cost too much. Read the rest of this entry

Codependency in American politics

Had a couple of potential blog posts started when someone linked this on Facebook. The short version is that a negligent school employee (or possibly volunteer) illegally violated a teenager’s medical privacy and let the fact that she took birth control pills become public knowledge. Since every class apparently comes standard with the kind of people whose only joy seems to be causing misery in others, she’s been hearing how she’s a slut who wants to fuck everyone because Rush “Illegal Viagra” Limbaugh said so.

I’ve already written about this a bit, but I thought this was worth passing along because it brings such a human face to the sort of petty cruelty that’s behind this bizarre birth control argument. It also illustrates something genuinely terrifying: People listen to this asshole.

Think of the implications of that. It’s difficult for me to think about it without feeling sure that it must be a symptom of something terribly wrong with our culture, some sickness that we need to understand and cure.

Here’s a short excerpt from a comment by FishOutofWater at the Daily Kos link above:

Limbaugh is an abuser who encourages others to abuse.

This really strikes me as an accurate description not only of Limbaugh, but of many prominent voices of the American right-wing. It really feels like what the Republican party has been turning into. For all the rhetoric about jobs or fiscal responsibility, the actual platforms of the party candidates seem to be almost entirely based on dehumanizing and taking away rights and freedoms from people, while insisting that it’s for their own good, or that the only people it affects aren’t really people.

The loyalty this party inspires baffles me. This isn’t a Ford/Chevy conflict, some harmless name-brand attachment that gets passed down through the family, this is our home, our nation, our society. The choices we make in our government have long-lasting, far-reaching implications. It affects the entire world. This is our future, and the future we leave for our children. The only way it makes any sense to me is a sort of abusive codependency, like the woman who bails her husband out of jail when he’s in there for breaking her arm because his dinner was cold.

Haven’t they hit you enough?

Unable to comply

It looks like Toys R Us won’t have to choose whether or not they’re going to pull the Archie comic featuring gay marriage from their shelves as the American Patriarchy Association has demanded. Because that issue has sold out.

I think that’s pretty cool, but I wanted to touch on this quote:

Homosexuality is a topic which is “too complicated” for children to understand, say the mothers, and “a trip to the toy store turns into a premature discussion on sexual orientation and is completely uncalled for”.

I really don’t see how this is complicated. It seriously doesn’t seem any more complex than heterosexuality. Two men got married, what’s so complicated about that? How hard is it to explain that people love each other?

A nasty little part of me thinks the real problem is that kids aren’t likely to develop any real hostility towards different people this way. That the complicated part is explaining to them why these people should be treated with cruelty. But I’d like to think that people are better than that. That the only real problem is that these parents are uncomfortable with the subject and they don’t want to have to talk about it.

It seems really silly to me. Marriage is the same regardless of the sex of the spouses. If you can explain to a child why a woman would marry a man, surely to explain her marrying a woman you simply give the same explanation. Gay marriage, for all the talk, really is just marriage.

Turning back the clock on sex.

So, I was looking at this page about a GOP Rep lying about the morning after pill and whining that religion should have some privileged place in the law. I looked at the links in the sidebar, so many of which are about political attacks on women. I thought of Rush Limbaugh’s insane demand for sex videos from women who use birth control. And I tried to imagine the world these assholes are trying to create.

It made me think of My Secret Life. First published in 1888, this anonymous sex diary is a fascinating uncensored look into the side of Victorian culture that was so carefully hidden in published work from that era. “Walter” holds nothing back in describing his sexual adventures and it can be uncomfortable to read at times. Read the rest of this entry

Isn’t that cute?

A friend shared this and I had to say something about it. The gist of that link is that when a boy pulls a girl’s hair or something and adults say, “Oh that just means he likes you”, they are teaching her to accept abuse and bullying as expressions of affection. Somehow, “I agree with every part of this” doesn’t quite cut it. So I’ll add some of my thoughts, and maybe expand on it a bit.

Boys are being taught that this is acceptable, normal, even desirable behavior. Seriously. I doubt many of them are being told “if you like her, go pull her hair” or anything, but that’s still the message they get when they do something like that and adults respond with, “Oh that’s so cute!”

I don’t think many of the boys who do this are proto-abusers, certainly they aren’t necessarily so. I think the reasons are complicated, and probably require more study than I have time for to properly blog about. But it should be discouraged. You don’t have to come down on the kid like a ton of bricks or anything, in fact I think you shouldn’t, but it should absolutely be made clear that it’s not acceptable.

Look, if you think it’s cute, that’s fine. It can be cute when a kid doesn’t know how to deal with something and does something strange. But that doesn’t mean you should let them off the hook. It’s not ok to tell kids, “Well, you broke the rules, but you’re so cute I’m going to overlook it.” Really, I’d prefer you didn’t even let them see that you thought it was cute at all.

I only skimmed the comments on that link, but I liked the idea of practicing yelling out. That strikes me as an excellent idea. I can think of several situations in my childhood when that would have been useful.

You know, I really thought I’d have more to say about this, but honestly I can boil it all down to “teach your sons not to do this, your daughters not to put up with it, and don’t let their teachers brush it off.” It’s not the kind of thing that should be acceptable, and it’s not a precedent we want people growing up with.

The Burzynski Clinic: Probably frauds, certainly assholes.

The odds are very good that if you’re reading this, someone you know has or has had some form of cancer, maybe even yourself. About 1,500 people die every day in the United States alone of cancer or cancer-related illness. More than half a million a year. It’s a boundless wellspring of human suffering that scientists have been working to understand better for over a hundred years. So far the best treatments we’ve got are still pretty crude, but all over the world researchers are working tirelessly to find new ways to improve the lives of cancer patients.

So when someone’s charging hundreds of thousands of dollars for a treatment they claim can cure cancer, I tend to think the worst of them. When their response to criticism is angry, weak legal threats that clearly weren’t made by a lawyer, well, that doesn’t really make me think any better of them. Read the rest of this entry

#HeBlowsALot Redux: Apology Denied

Since I’m unable to sleep again, I may as well cover this. Emma Sullivan has apparently decided not to write the apology letter her disgrace of a principal, Karl R. Krawitz, demanded. Here are some links about that.

“At this time, I do not think an apology would be a sincere thing for me to do.”

Good for her! Free speech is everyone’s right, and that means not only the freedom to speak, but the freedom not to.

Especially the freedom not to write insincere, bullshit apologies demanded by some jackass who thinks he needs “damage control”. How’s that damage control going, Karl?

I don’t have much more to say on this, but something Principal Krawitz said in one of those articles stuck in my mind.

Krawitz, her principal, told The Kansas City Star previously that the situation is a “private issue, not a public matter” but didn’t return a phone message from The Associated Press at his home Sunday.

In what way is this not a public matter? Seriously, it was a publicly visible tweet, Governor Brownback and Principal Krawitz are public servants, and Shawnee Mission East is a public high school. Heck as far as I know the only private party involved is Emma Sullivan herself. (And I guess Twitter, but they’re literally just the messenger here.) If that’s a private issue, what the hell does it take for something to be public?

I’ve seen many people on Twitter calling Brownback a bully (and even reporting him as one, hilariously), but really I think Principal Krawitz is far more guilty of that charge. For all I know Brownback didn’t even know about it til the story broke. His staff clearly have the right bullying attitude, but only passed on a complaint.

It was Krawitz who took it upon himself to tell this young woman what she can and cannot say, It was Krawitz who apparently spent more words scolding her than you can fit in a tweet. And it was Krawitz who should have been defending her rights, who should be defending the rights of every student in his care, and decided shallow appearances, or maybe just his own ego, was more important.

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