Wednesday, November 29, 2017

I Will Not Enforce Patriarchy

By a combination of necessity and choice, it's up to women to enforce a lot of cultural norms.  Sometimes they're horrible, like restrictions on girls' dress in school, sometimes they're good, like maintaining social bonds (Who last sent you a birthday card?  A man?).  This enforcement power is something we need to use in this moment where we're routing creeps out. 

I'm stoked to see a lot of famous creeps get their comeuppance, but I'm nervous about how sustainable this movement is.  As it stands, nothing in particular has changed.  There's a new mood, but we'll see how long it lasts, or who actually falls from grace. 

There are a lot of traditions that women pass on to each other in hopes of protecting themselves and others (the best explanation I've heard for why female genital mutilation is performed and encouraged by women is that it's so accepted it's basically mandatory.).  A lot of these are nonsense at best and cruel at worst.  Off the top of my head, I can think of a dozen things women do to protect themselves from being raped that boil down to superstition. 

I don't panic if a man happens to be walking down the street at night behind me.  Not that panicking is going to help if I'm being hunted.  The weird thing is that I feel like I'm betraying the sisterhood when I disagree with anyone who insists you need to be bristling all the damn time.  I resent that feeling, and I resent victim-blaming coming from women like Angela Lansbury and Donna Karan.  I understand that people are scared, and they have some reason to be, but fear is not a penance we can pay so we won't be raped.  It is counterproductive to uphold the useless and confining norms that don't actually keep people from being assaulted. 

Because of the way these things get baked into our culture (i.e. passed from older women to young ones), I will not excuse Angela Lansbury or any other old fool for a second.  Well-meaning or not, she seems determined to prove that it's too late for her to do lasting damage to rape culture.  In this moment that has such potential for fundamental change, it's crucial to actually change what we do.  No quarter for enforcers.  On any given day in 2017, it's probably simpler to just follow the dress code, but the heads are rolling now and we need to seize the moment.  We're the ones to finish the job.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

You can have my goat, ferchristssake.

I think that Donald Trump is a uniquely horrible human being.  Tell that to one of his supporters and they smile, like it's cute to have a rapist in office.  And then they tell me to stop being so rude as to accuse them of wanting to kill poor people.  

It's not like I'm under the illusion that you have to be a tame etiquette enthusiast to be an effective president.  LBJ was personally a monster, but at least he was committed to making the country more just.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Consent is for sluts

An appointee to head family planning services in the US claims that contraception "doesn't work."  

This baffling assertion was behind all of the anti-contraception disinfo that abstinence-only programs spewed in the 90s and 00s.  The way of thinking goes: You think you can just decide to have sex and not get pregnant and you're fine?  Too bad, women who decide if they are going to have sex or get pregnant are cheap sluts.  Maybe we can put them in prison!  

I've heard a variant on this argument, and it really comes down to a complaint that women who have the freedom to control their reproductive lives will do that, and sometimes they choose abortion.  Did you know that in places where abortion is obtainable, some people go ahead and have them?  Proof that Planned Parenthood doesn't prevent unwanted pregnancy!

Except as access to contraception has increased, abortion rates have decreased.  Could it be that women have figured out that unwanted pregnancies are better avoided than aborted?  

It  disgusts me, but there are those who find it romantic for a woman to be completely powerless in her sexual and reproductive lives.  I can only conclude that Teresa Manning is one of them.  

I had a hard time believing people thought this way, but I'm losing faith, between Manning's appointment and this thing that Rush Lumbaugh said when trying to deflect from Trump bragging about sexual assault: 

"You can do anything — the left will promote and understand and tolerate anything — as long as there is one element. Do you know what it is? Consent.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Fake News and Statistics Don't Make Your Denials Plausible

When I was in high school, we studied a little of statistics (for which I am grateful), and there was one girl in class, Lacey Bigford, who insisted that no one should "believe in" statistics.  I've been thinking about her a lot lately.  You look at the comments on any story with a poll and Trump-folks say that you can't believe any poll or any statistic.

I get that it's annoying to not see the nuts and bolts of how figures are put together, but when you don't want to go to college or learn more on your own, or "believe in" an entire field of mathematics, you're putting yourself at a disadvantage.  And then you're voting and screwing other people.

A few big fault lines in thinking between liberals and Republicans (conservative?  yeah right) are becoming obvious to me.  Many Republicans are claiming that protests against Trump and his policies are stocked with "paid protestors."  Which is crazy.  It took me a few weeks to figure out that they think organized political action is cheating.  And then when the Lacey Bigfords of the world hear about global warming (for example), they won't believe in it.

It's fine with me if you're not into climate science or a statistician, but stopping paying attention in school in 8th grade is no excuse to fuck up the work of the people who do care.

If Lacey read this, I'll bet she'd tell me that she's doing just fine without statistics.  Surprisingly, we're not close, so I have no idea how she's doing, but I'll be damned if a good understanding of statistics in the people around her never had an effect on her.

It's not a lot to ask that we trust that the obvious and provable is true, even if someone else put the case together.

It takes humility to study something (at least an admission of ignorance), or even connect with a stranger, and a huge number of Americans have apparently rejected the notion that there is anything they don't already know that's worth knowing.  Getting polio and seeing Florida sink into the sea are just going to be happy surprises along the way.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Yates was an example

The hypocrisy demonstrated by Trump's firing of Sally Yates is pretty astounding.  But it's not an accident.  Under a regime that seems determined not to be constrained by checks and balances, any official that will act according to them is unwelcome.  To fit in, a person needs to be able to pretend like they care about the constitution, but then act only in deference to Trump.

Further, the hypocrisy is part of it.  It's an act of humiliation to prove loyalty.  When no one knows whether to take you literally or seriously, they ignore you and hope that you're on their side.  Until they're detained in an airport for trying to come home.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Farewell to Language

Photo via Arnold Chao

Do you prefer the ACA or Obamacare?  Trick question.  They're the same thing.  If you're reading my blog, you knew that already, but it's becoming apparent that not everyone does.

My first thought about this seeming impossibility was that something was being lost in translation (From English to English?  I guess that's what we've come to.).  Yet it keeps coming up all over the place.

A quick recap of what I've learned over the last year: facts don't matter in elections.  You can hem and haw over whether Trump should have been taken literally or seriously or neither, but either way our country is facing literal and serious problems.  Millions will lose access to health care.  The European peace since World War II is not as stable as it could be.

Constant disinformation has done major damage to how people communicate in the United States of America.  It hasn't been many years since people went ape over an "atheist Muslim" Barack Obama.  If you want me to explain why that's idiotic, you're out of luck, and not acting in good faith.

Over the campaign of 2016, I was  amazed at Donald Trump's manner of speaking.  A lot of times he sounds like his speech has been run through a few different languages on Google Translate.  In the infamous "grab em by the pussy" tape, he used an expression, "I moved on her like a bitch."  That's not an expression.

A lot of people are expressing disappointment that the ACA is being dismantled, even when they voted for that to happen.    I can only conclude that this election was not about health care or foreign policy.  On those issues, Americans have pretty clear preferences that align with the candidate for whom they voted.

Trump's campaign was just a scream of status quo entitlement.  Republicans have stood in the same place since 1968 and shrieked in frustration any time the wrong kind of person gets any benefit out of being part of our society.

It's no surprise that they've thrown their lot in with the nihilistic Russian outlook that says "Yeah we're bad corrupt assholes, but at least we're honest about it."

Don't be fooled: this isn't a new development.  It's not even honest.  This voluntary aphasia is a project Fox News has been working on for decades.

I don't know how we come back from this.  All I can say is that it was not worth destroying civil dialog to immiserate the American people.    

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Bad Timing

I'm scared for reproductive freedom in America.  Actually, I'm scared for almost all freedom in America.

This election has scared me off of making political predictions, but if we do indeed see Roe go away, it would happen at a really bad time.  There has already been local transmission of Zika in Texas already.  Given the upcoming administration's apparent attitude toward people with disabilities, and disinterest in maintaining a social safety net, THIS WILL BE VERY BAD.

Unfortunately, it will also give people a lot of opportunity to think about how medical exceptions should or should not be written into laws about abortion.  People tend to use very rare cases to illustrate why the freedom to choose whether to carry to term is important, but if those cases become less rare, maybe people will be more practical.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Fault vs. Responsibility

I just read Elizabeth Grattan's piece on Medium, "The Decent Woman Who Voted For Trump (Does not exist)."  That's deliberately provocative, and I clicked.  Mostly, it's just about how there's no good excuse to vote Trump.  So far, so good.  Then it goes into some not really convincing flagellation of white women, including those of us who didn't vote Trump.  Just when I think I'm getting to why I should be just as guilty as a Trump voter, all I get is
While I did cast my ballot for Clinton, this is yet another example of the white woman bathing in her privileged perched pedestal of denial. Because women of color weren’t taken by surprise by the divide in this nation. They live it. All their lives. It is a divide that has been witnessed by women of color for generations

This doesn't explain a damn thing to me.  Is voting for the better candidate a form of denial?  I guess it was a little polyannaish to think that running a decent campaign against an indecent candidate would let us keep what we've been working for, but it certainly wasn't the wrong move to vote Clinton.

This rush to blame someone, even nobly blame ourselves, is farcical.  It isn't my fault Trump won, but it is my responsibility to fix everything I can about this mess.

This is navel-gazing rather than taking responsibility.