Category Archives: feminism

Catholics rally to continue taking public tax money while imposing medieval religious values on non-Catholics

Today I am (relatively) hard at work at my desk.  The weather here in Chicago has taken a turn from the sunny, late spring-like days of the past week to rainy and chilly.  So I am surprised to hear chanting and screaming coming in through the thick glass of my 20th floor window.

Oh.  It’s the local “pro-lifers,” egged on by our home-grown Pro-Life Action League, rallying for the freedom to continue sucking at the public teat while denying access to contraception through their insurance coverage to their non-Catholic employees.  Hilariously and ironically, one of their loudest chants is the word “freedom.”  Today’s ridiculous, riddled-with-irony rally has provoked irritation, contempt, frustration, and a certain sense of “how can this be a real thing in the world” bemusement.

It is a fact that no actual churches will be required to provide contraception coverage through their insurance programs.  It is also a fact that there is no government mandate that Catholics actually avail themselves of contraception.

On the other hand, institutions such as hospitals, which are publicly funded to a substantial degree, and which provide services to the general public are and should be required to follow the same standards as every other large employer.

You know what?  If the Catholic church wants the right to impose its asinine religious values on all of its employees, it needs to wean itself off public money.  Until then, they can really go fuck themselves.  The Catholic hierarchy is a deeply morally troubled institution, and their continued insistence that they have any sort of moral authority is just fucking laughable.  The idea that any Catholic employer’s minimal contributions to its employees’ health insurance programs violates the institution’s conscience is so fucking ridiculous that I find it difficult to believe that anyone, anywhere is falling for it.  It’s insurance coverage.  It’s a benefit of employment.  If we accept this brain-damaged argument that the employer’s portion of health insurance premium contributions violates religious principles, then surely the paychecks that go to employees who might use contraception is an even more egregious violation.  After all, there isn’t even the middle man of the insurance company standing between the flow of money from the institution to the employee.

We live in a bizarre, bizarre universe.


Ladies heading into the election season, never forget that Republicans hate you!

The same Wisconsin Republican shitheel legislators, Glenn Grothman and Don Pridemore, famous previously for introducing Senate Bill 507, which specifically blames single mothers for child abuse, are now on the record as discouraging women from seeking divorce, even in instances of abuse.

Pridemore, in his infinite wisdom, helpfully explained that abused women should just send their thoughts back to what originally attracted them to their husbands to begin with.

Close your eyes and think of England, ladies.


When I Was a Boy, Everything Was Right

Brief ranty-ness.  You know who can go right out and fuck themselves?  The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Rush fucking Limbaugh.  Pretty much the entire GOP establishment, particularly John Boehner, who keeps tweeting about Obama’s “assault on religious liberty.”  No, you stupid orange fuck, religious liberties belong to individuals, NOT to institutions.  All of you.  Go fuck yourselves.

 

 

 


Oh Google, what the hell?

Whee!  I’ve been spurred to return from my blogging hiatus by the google ad that appeared over my inbox just now.

This is the ad:

Why Men Pull AwayCatchHimAndKeepHim.com – 10 Ugly Mistakes Women Make That Ruins Any Chances Of A Relationship

It caught my eye, because, really, what the hell?  Next to the ad is a tiny link that says “Why this ad?”  And when I clicked on it, it explained that the ad is personalized to me, and that its appearance is based on emails from my mailbox.

So I do a quick scan of the front page of my inbox to figure out what’s going on.  My inbox consists of:  (1) emails from a local art league; (2) emails from other attorneys and my local bar association; (3) emails from the National Lawyers Guild; (4) emails from my kids’ school about parent conferences and orchestra recitals; and (5) bills.

How the hell am I the target market for this kind of retro-fuckery?  If I really thought that men were a strange, separate species that I needed to work to catch and keep, I’d just shoot ’em and stuff ’em.


Today in debunking quackery: No demonstrable gender difference in math ability.

Awesome.  This’ll really upset the Bell Curve crowd.

Researchers have done a broad study of math ability across multiple countries, and their totally not-shocking result is that there is no real biological gender difference in math ability, leading to the also totally not shocking conclusion that the differences displayed are social and cultural.

The researchers blew away Larry Summers’ favorite biological hypothesis that he got fired for, which was the “greater male variability” hypothesis.  They also took a swipe at Freakonomics’ Steven Levitt, who argued that same-gender classrooms in Muslim cultures are beneficial for girls.  Turns out that’s not true either.  Here is what they did find:

It’s an interesting, counter-intuitive idea, but it also appears to be completely wrong. The authors say that, upon close examination of the data, girls in these single-gender classrooms still scored quite poorly. The boys in these countries, such as Bahrain and Oman, had scored even worse, but Kane suggests that’s because many attend religious schools with little emphasis on mathematics.

Also, low-performing girls are often pressured to drop out of school and so don’t appear in the statistics, which falsely inflates the girls’ overall performance. The point, says Kane, is that these differing scores don’t point to benefits of gender-separated classrooms or speak to features of Muslim culture as a whole – rather, they’re due to social factors in play in a few countries, and the single-gender classrooms are just a confounding variable.

Indeed, Mertz and Kane were able to demonstrate pretty much the exact opposite of those hypotheses: as a general rule, high gender equality doesn’t just remove the gender gap, it also improves test scores overall. In particular, countries where women have high participation in the labor force, and command salaries comparable to those of their male counterparts, generally have the highest math scores overall.

So…in cultures with greater gender equality, there is not only no gender gap, but all math scores go up.  It’s almost like equality is beneficial or something.


The Twilight franchise still sucks. Really.

Earlier this week, Noah Berlatsky at the Atlantic (a magazine that I ADORE, if only for Ta-Nehisi Coates) wrote what is quite possibly the most irritating article ever.  It is purportedly about the Twilight franchise’s main “character,” Bella Swan, as compared to the character of Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games books.  What the article really is though, is a thinly veiled taunt of female critics of the Bella character.  If he used slightly less polite language, he’d be calling us femi-nazis.  Berlatsky’s rhetorical approach, such as it is, is to begin by pretending to sympathize with critics of the Bella character, but then attempt to pull a switch at the end by demonstrating how Bella’s just so awesomely moral that she totally rules, because she has a baby.  Or something, it isn’t really that good of an argument.  This is mostly because he isn’t actually trying to make a solid argument, he’s just trying to piss people off as link bait.  So…well played, I suppose.

Anyway, on to the article.  Let’s begin with the title:  “‘Twilight’ vs. ‘Hunger Games’: Why Do So Many Grown-Ups Hate Bella?”  The title misleads in a couple of ways.  First by pretending that it’s some cadre of grownups who find the depiction of Bella to be problematic, and that there are no young readers out there who are equally bothered by it.  Second, by pretending that this is a non-gender specific critique of “grownup” responses.  It isn’t.  Delve into the second and third paragraphs of the article, and it’s clear that Berlatsky’s primary focus is on the feminist critique of Bella’s character.  Here, in the second paragraph, he cites a small string of critics in the Bella v. Katniss war, and chooses to avoid really quoting them, but rather characterize their critiques, as follows:

Critics have expressed the Katniss-would-beat-the-tar-out-of-Bella dynamic in various ways. Tina Jordan at EW.com says that “compared to Katniss, Bella is simply the more passive character.” Meghan Lewitt here at The Atlanticcompared the “swoony Bella” to the “tough-as-nails Katniss,” and enthusiastically welcomes the latter as a return to heroines like Nancy Drew and Buffy: “the tomboys and the rule-breakers, resourceful, whip-smart girls who were doing it for themselves with minimal parental supervision.” Alyssa Rosenberg laments, “Bella’s overriding passivity,” while Yvonne Zip at Christian Science Monitor enthuses that “Katniss is too much of a fighter to go serenely to her death.” Bella, on the other hand, is stereotypically girly, and as Melinda Beasi argues, even women and feminists (especially women and feminists?) are neverous [sic] about being “associated with anything ‘girly.'” Thus the appeal of Katniss, who is a badass. Because whether it’s in a fist fight or in the hearts of critics, butch beats girly every time.

Ok.  So we have a general roundup of only female critics, along with what Berlatsky claims are their arguments.  That is, without actually quoting the critics saying so, he claims that the issue is that Bella is “girly” and Katniss is “butch.”  Really.  Moving on to the fourth paragraph of this mess of an article, he has this to say about the definitions of “girly” and “feminine” vs. what he claims is the definition of “butch” or “masculine”:

Comparing Twilight and The Hunger Games, it’s easy to see why second-wave feminists, and adults in general, find a girly teen so much less attractive than a tomboyish one. Bella is, as the critics say, passive, hapless, and an utter mess. Not only is she physically inept, but she has no particular talents or even distinguishing characteristics other than her desperation for romance.

***

And then there’s Katniss: an extremely competent, tomboyish young woman who is athletic, focused, responsible, and able to take care of herself. She’s not especially interested in boys and doesn’t have sex, or even really think about sex for almost the entire series. She’s also politically engaged, especially as the story moves on. She is, in other words, the ideal second-wave feminist daughter; smart, fierce, independent, and sexually restrained.

Now, after creating this dichotomy out of whole cloth, he then poses the following question:

And yet, for all the critical accolades…is masculinity really categorically better and more feminist than femininity? Would we really rather have our 17-year-old daughters kill dozens than have them carry a baby to term? Certainly, there are aspects of The Hunger Games that make the butch ideal seem problematic at the very least.

Oh Lordie, where to begin.  Ok.  Here we see that to Berlatsky, being “feminine” or “girly” means passivity, haplessness, klutziness, and desperation for “romance.”  To be “butch” or “masculine” means competence, athleticism, responsibility, and political intelligence.  Holy fucking shit.  I am, at this point, wondering whether Berlatsky knows any actual people, male or female.  But particularly, does he actually know any “girly” teens?  And has he actually read any of the Twilight books or seen the movies?  Yes, Bella is all of those things, but she is also uninterested in socializing, uninterested in clothes, uninterested in popular culture, and uninterested in her own appearance.  So in other words, not girly.  And Katniss?  Her motivation for everything she does is to save her family, particularly her younger sister to whom she essentially serves as a mother.  So, um, in other words, she exhibits a stereotypically “feminine” trait.

I will quote the following passage again, because I think it represents the heart of Berlatsky’s “masculine” v. “feminine” dichotomy:

And yet, for all the critical accolades…is masculinity really categorically better and more feminist than femininity? Would we really rather have our 17-year-old daughters kill dozens than have them carry a baby to term? Certainly, there are aspects of The Hunger Games that make the butch ideal seem problematic at the very least.

And there you have it.  Masculine = killing people.  Feminine = having babies.  Every other adjective used by Berlatsky is just incendiary window dressing.  In Berlatsky’s bizarro-universe, the entirety of the Bella character can be boiled down to the fact that she had a baby, and the character of Katniss can be boiled down to the fact that she killed people.  And BABIES, folks!!  That’s what we should be encouraging our daughters to want!  Because the only other choice is killing people, obviously.

The remainder of the article is a hot mess, in which Berlatsky makes all sorts of additional unsupported claims that seem to boil down to his opinion that all girls really want is to settle down and have kids.  Yes, the article is obvious link bait, and I went with it.

So in other Twilight news, Breaking Dawn Part 1 came out in theaters last night, and 40 year old housewives everywhere went to the midnight showings.  Rather than watching it for myself, I will rely on this review from Film Freak Central.  Lazy of me, I know, but having seen the other movies this past week as they played endlessly on cable, I’m pretty sure the review is dead on.  Key graf:

Appalling by pretty much every measure, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (hereafter Twilight 4.1) is the predictable end result of a film based on a book written by an illiterate Mormon housewife mistaking her profound ignorance for profundity. It’s about a really old guy who talks a really young girl into marrying him and enduring really, really painful childbirth as her portion of God’s judgment on her kind; and then it’s about another kind of pedophilia, wherein a 19-year-old badly in need of acting lessons gets turned on by a baby and decides he’s going to marry that infant once she’s old enough to breed.

Yep.


Overheard at work: carrying tissues is a girl thing

I have a co-worker with whom I frequently butt heads on gender issues.  He refers to himself as “old school” when it comes to how he believes men and women are supposed to behave, and firmly believes, despite all evidence to the contrary, that most, if not all, gendered behavior is biological, rather than socially constructed.

We each have a child who just entered kindergarten this year, so we end up talking about parenting quite a bit, which is where a lot of the head-butting comes in.  Recently, he explained to me that he wanted to hold his son A__ back a level in school, despite the fact that A__ is ready for the next level academically, because he would be the only boy.  His reasoning is that the girls in the next level, who are excelling academically, would be too “feminizing” of an influence on his son.  What he meant by that is that he wants his son to be comfortable hitting his peers, because that’s what boys are supposed to do.  And no, I am not paraphrasing or misinterpreting.  He literally means that he wants his son to believe that because he is a boy, he is supposed to be physically rough with his friends, and to him, that includes hitting them.

So anyway, his secretary sits outside my office, and he just wandered up to her to ask for tissues.  He can’t just leave it at that, though.  He has to explain that the reason he does not have tissues is because he is a guy, but that he expects that she will have some, because she is a woman.  He further explains that he “likes to give his wife grief” for being a “bad mom/woman” because she does not carry tissues.  He then turns to me, through my office door, for confirmation and says “Right Jane?  You carry kleenex, right?  Because you’re a mom.”

It happens that I do carry tissues when it gets cold, because I walk to the train and the cold makes my nose run.  I guess if I were a “man,” I would just snot all over my sleeve or something.   But really?  To give your wife grief for not carrying fucking kleenex, and then pretend that your testicles give you a pass for not being prepared?  That’s just fucking dumb.

 

 


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