Dear men: read this stuff kthx.

silhouetted00d

Dear beloved men:

Yes, I know you’re a liberal, feminist guy. You totally get it! You really do. For example, you regularly read my blog because you like what I have to say about various and sundry issues that shape our shared world.

But there is something you don’t get. You can never get it, not really. Because the world we share frequently looks very different through the eyes of women. Note that this doesn’t mean you see the world more objectively and women (or others) less so, nor vice versa. It means that, although we inhabit the very same spaces and travel the same paths, our experiences are objectively different.

Think of it this way: if you’re white in the USA, you probably do not live in fear of police, whereas if you’re black you do (for very good reasons that I’m sure I don’t have to explain to readers here). Your educational experience in public school settings is likely to be drastically different, from the physical infrastructure, access to quality materials and technology, to what happens if you get in trouble. I cannot ever really understand what it is like to experience the world as a person of color does. While we all inhabit a culture that reinforces white supremacy in a million ways 24/7/365—such that even very young black children internalize it—I cannot know what that experience is like as a person of color.

But that fact should not stop me from listening to, learning from and empathizing with people of color. Indeed, as someone with a conscience and a desire to make our world a better place, it demands it. It also demands that I leverage my white privilege to right the wrongs of racism, because people of color cannot.

I’m sure you can see where this is going: the same principle is at work with sexism. Like racism, it is not always blatant; much of it operates below the level of conscious awareness. This is why I need you—yes, you, my dear d00d—to listen to, learn from and empathize with women, and to leverage your male privilege to right the wrongs of sexism, because women cannot.

To that end, here are things I want you to read:

Why Women Smile at Men Who Sexually Harass Us. Olsen, H.B., Medium (Feb. 2016).

The White Knight Delusion. Wilkinson, A., The Baffler (Feb. 2016).

Abortion ban linked to dangerous miscarriages at Catholic hospital, report claims. Redden, M., The Guardian (Feb. 2016).

Buzzfeed Writer Harassed off Twitter for Urging “Not-White, Not-Male” Writers to Pitch to Buzzfeed Canada. Cox, C., The Mary Sue (Feb. 2016).

This Facebook post by Harper Honey (shared with permission):

Today I went to Target after work. I have been wanting to go for a while, especially since the launch of curvy Barbies….

Posted by Harper Honey on Monday, February 22, 2016

Trust Your Gut! Sara, M., Femnasty (Feb. 2016).

Not a Nice Story. Darcy (Guest Post), Love Joy Feminism/Patheos (Feb. 2015).

The remarkably different answers men and women give when asked who’s the smartest in the class. Paquette, D., Washington Post (Feb. 2016).

Conservative Trolls Have Been Suggesting Men Go into Women’s Restrooms to Help Legislators Discriminate Against Trans People. Brownstone, S., The Stranger (Feb. 2016).

NYPD Really Wants You To Know They’re Cracking Down On Subway Perverts. Chung, J., Gothamist (Feb. 2016).

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When you read these things, you will notice that women inhabit a very different world than you do. We are not safe from gendered harassment, abuse and violence; not on crowded subway trains or at quiet bus stops, alone or with friends, at our jobs, in the toy aisle at Target, on the street, at small dinner parties, in public restrooms, on Twitter, in our own homes, in fucking hospitals. We cannot escape our gender and bias against it. We are routinely demeaned, diminished and degraded in virtually every facet of our lives, from cradle to grave, in countless ways, both blatant and perniciously, infuriatingly subtle. Most of us learn from a very young age that we can never, ever really let our guard down among men—nor, frankly, among women (and others) who support, consciously or otherwise, the individuals, institutions and cultural practices that perpetuate male privilege. Some of us may have made a devil’s bargain, but it is not an inherently irrational choice. I’m not sure it is a choice at all, at least for some.

And you will also surely have noticed that all of those links are from February alone. I made no special effort to seek these stories out; they were sprinkled among literally dozens of open tabs in my browser. It was only when I went to compile a link roundup last week that I realized how many they were in number.

Was that too big an ask of me, that you read all of ^that stuff? Well, consider your privilege: you can look away from any or all of it, any time. You can ignore all of it, without much risk (if any) to your career or your mental health or your physical safety or your life. We cannot. Ever. That’s why I want you to read it—all of it—even (especially) if you don’t want to: to give you some glimmer of what it is like for us to exist in this world. I am asking you to listen to, learn from and empathize with women, and to leverage your own privilege to right the wrongs of sexism.

Here is what that might look like:

Learn to see it for what it is. I’ve written before in some depth about microaggressions, and studies that reveal (a) microaggressions may be more harmful than overt bigotry, (b) racism, sexism, other -isms are mainly perpetuated due to unconscious bias, and (c) it is extraordinarily difficult to get (presumably well-meaning) people to realize they are acting in an unfairly biased manner. I won’t rehash all of that in detail here. But there are other behaviors that you might pay attention to. For instance, while you personally do not harass, abuse or rape women, people you know almost certainly do. These are not strangers hiding in the bushes: they are your fathers and brothers and sons, your friends and co-workers, admired professional colleagues and community members in good standing, who “would never do anything like that.” But don’t take my word for it: they will tell you so themselves. The d00d cracking “jokes” about physically/sexually assaulting women, or making “funny” quips about women as intellectually inferior, untrustworthy, manipulable, sex objects, obstacles to be overcome, etc., is telling you exactly how he thinks of us and treats us whenever he can get away with it.

Call it out when you see it. Sexist and predatory men take your laughter, however insincere, as validation. They take your silence as validation. They take shitty beer commercials that objectify women as evidence that their views are valid and the norm. One thing that can help change the culture in which unconscious biases flourish and predatory weasels operate with impunity is men shutting that shit down. In social situations: “Not cool, d00d.” “Wow, not funny.” “Did you just grab that woman’s ass? That is seriously messed up.” “What the fucking fuck is wrong with you, you fucking fuck?” In work and school situations: “Yes we heard you the first time Bob, but now we’d all really like to hear what Cynthia has to say.” “Rani just made that suggestion Malcolm, I’m glad you agree with her.” You see, when we do this, we are abrasive, oversensitive, humorless feminazis who cannot take a joke OBVIOUSLY. We need you to do it.

Believe us. When we tell you this shit is happening, all the fucking time, know that we’re not “playing the victim.” FYI: there is no reward for being a victim, much less one that somehow makes it worth being victimized in the first place.

You, my beloved men, are not “the enemy,” so much as the systems that uphold your privilege at the expense of ours is the enemy. I am asking for your help in dismantling them. Interrupting them. Burning them the fuck down.

Just as racism is whites’ problem to solve, sexism is yours.

You’re creative, and resourceful. I know you can and will find ways to disrupt and smash this shit to pieces. It might even turn out to be fun, if a little uncomfortable at first.

Thanks for your consideration.

Have a nice day.

Zora Neale Hurston

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zoranealhurstonOn January 7, 1891, novelist, folklorist and short story writer Zora Neale Hurston was born in Eatonville, Florida, the first all-black community to be incorporated in the United States. Her mother was a country schoolteacher and her father a Baptist preacher who became 3-term mayor of Eatonville. “My head was full of misty fumes of doubt,” she would later write. “Neither could I understand the passionate declarations of love for a being that nobody could see. Your family, your puppy and the new bull-calf, yes. But a spirit away off who found fault with everybody all the time, that was more than I could fathom” (“Religion”). Zora was farmed out to relatives when her mother died in 1904. By 14 she had left town to work as a maid for whites. As a live-in maid she enrolled at Morgan Academy in Baltimore. She attended Howard University, intermittently, between 1918-1924, while working as a manicurist and maid for prominent blacks. She moved to New York City in 1925 with “$1.50, no job, no friends, and a lot of hope,” into the midst of the Harlem Renaissance. Her short story, “Spunk” (1925), brought her notice. Fannie Hurst, author of Imitation of Life (1933), gave her a job. Another white patroness arranged a scholarship for her at Barnard College. Hurston graduated in 1928 and did graduate study at Columbia, where her talents caught the eye of an anthropology professor who suggested she incorporate anthropology into her writing. A commission by a wealthy white patron to collect folklore stymied her career, since the contract barred Hurston from writing. In 1933, Hurston wrote her best-known story, “The Gilded Six-Bits.” Her first novel, Jonah’s Gourd Vine, debuted in 1934, followed by Mules and Men (1937), Tell My Horse (1937), and the classic novel Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937). In all, she wrote seven books, plus her memoir, Dust Tracks on a Road (1942). Many of her short stories were published in magazines and anthologies. Hurston married twice, but neither marriage lasted. Hurston was forced to take diverse “day jobs” to support her writing, from working as a drama instructor at North Carolina College for Negroes at Durham (1939), to working as a maid once again in 1950. She suffered a stroke in 1959, died in 1960 at a welfare home, and was buried in an unmarked grave in a segregated cemetery in Fort Pierce, Florida. Writer Alice Walker revived interest in Hurston in the 1970s. A Zora Neale Hurston reader, I Love Myself When I am Laughing . . . and Then Again When I am Looking Mean and Impressive, was published in 1979. The Complete Stories came out in 1995.

Strong, self-determining men are notorious for their lack of reverence.

. . . Prayer seems to me a cry of weakness, and an attempt to avoid, by trickery, the rules of the game as laid down. I do not choose to admit weakness. I accept the challenge of responsibility. Life, as it is, does not frighten me, since I have made my peace with the universe as I find it, and bow to its laws. The ever-sleepless sea in its bed, crying out ‘How long?’ to Time; million-formed and never motionless flame; the contemplation of these two aspects alone, affords me sufficient food for ten spans of my expected lifetime. It seems to me that organized creeds are collections of words around a wish. I feel no need for such. However, I would not, by word or deed, attempt to deprive another of the consolation it affords. It is simply not for me. Somebody else may have my rapturous glance at the archangels. The springing of the yellow line of morning out of the misty deep of dawn, is glory enough for me. I know that nothing is destructible; things merely change forms. When the consciousness we know as life ceases, I know that I shall still be part and parcel of the world. I was a part before the sun rolled into shape and burst forth in the glory of change. I was, when the earth was hurled out from its fiery rim. I shall return with the earth to Father Sun, and still exist in substance when the sun has lost its fire, and disintegrated into infinity to perhaps become a part of the whirling rubble of space. Why fear? The stuff of my being is matter, ever changing, ever moving, but never lost; so what need of denominations and creeds to deny myself the comfort of all my fellow men? The wide belt of the universe has no need for finger-rings. I am one with the infinite and need no other assurance.

—Zora Neale Hurston, “Religion,” from Dust Tracks on a Road (1942), anthologized in African-American Humanism: An Anthology edited by Norm R. Allen Jr. (1991)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor.

This profile was provided courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

© Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

Margaret Atwood

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margaretatwoodIn 1939, Canadian novelist and poet Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa, Canada. As a youngster, she spent many months of each year in the wilderness with her parents, due to her father’s job as a forest entomologist. She began writing at age 6. Atwood, fittingly, was descended from a Salem woman — Mary Webster — who was accused of witchcraft and sentenced to be hanged in 1685, but was allowed to live after the rope broke. Atwood made her notorious ancestor the subject of her poem “Half-Hanged Mary.” Atwood earned a B.A. from the University of Toronto in 1961, her M.A. from Radcliffe College, and attended Harvard for two years of postgraduate study. She has held a variety of positions at various colleges and universities in North America, including lecturer, instructor, and writer in residence. Atwood has been published in 14 volumes of poetry, including Margaret Atwood Poems (1965-1975), published in 1991. Her novels include: Edible Woman (1969), Surfacing (1972), Lady Oracle (1976), Life Before Man (1979), Bodily Harm (1981), The Robber Bride (1993), The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), Cat’s Eye (1988), Alias Grace (1996), The Blind Assassin (2000) and her latest, Oryx and Crake. She was named Canadian Humanist of the Year in 1987, as well as the American Humanist Association’s 1987 Humanist of the Year. Handmaid’s Tale, about a theocratic take-over of the United States, inspired the 1990 movie adapted by Harold Pinter. Atwood has called herself an agnostic: “A doctrinaire agnostic is different from someone who doesn’t know what they believe. A doctrinaire agnostic believes quite passionately that there are certain things that you cannot know, and therefore ought not to make pronouncements about. In other words, the only things you can call knowledge are things that can be scientifically tested.” (Quoted in Humanism as the Next Step by Lloyd and Mary Morain, cited by Who’s Who in Hell edited by Warren Allen Smith.) Margaret Atwood lives with writer Graeme Gibson. They have three children, and, at last count, one cat.

I was reading the Bible — some of us still do that, you know — and I saw the tale of Jacob and his wives and handmaids, a kind of early Baby M. This is not an attack on Christianity, but the fact is Christians have long persecuted other sects and each other, as they are in Northern Ireland today. People were saying things like, ‘A woman’s place is in the home.’ And I got to thinking, well, how would someone enforce thoughts like that?

—Margaret Atwood on writing The Handmaid’s Tale, interview, The New York Times April 14, 1990

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor
Photo by Larry D. Moore under CC BY 4.0

This profile was provided courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

© Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

PSA for Christian d00ds: DO NOT MARRY US. PLEASE.

[TRIGGER WARNING: domestic violence and abuse. Please note: although this post focuses on abuse perpetrated by men against women within the context of heterosexual relationships, “red flags” for abuse can apply to relationships comprising partners of any gender or orientation. Resources for a diverse range of abuse and sexual assault victims appear at the end of this post.]

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Some doucheweasel of the pastor species who dwells in New York City of all places—as if we don’t have enough problems here already with the entitled banksters, murderous cops, Rupert Murdoch’s legions and other assorted pimples on the ass of humanity—has helpfully assembled a list for his fellow brothers-in-Christ entitled 10 WOMEN CHRISTIAN MEN SHOULD NOT MARRY. One might imagine such a list would look something like this:

  1. Rebecca Watson.
  2. Sikivu Hutchison.
  3. Malala Yousafzai.
  4. Annie Laurie Gaylor.
  5. Susan Jacoby.
  6. Lindsay Lohan.
  7. …etc.

Okay, maybe Ms. Lohan is Christian wife material—I have no idea. But this kind of practical, specific advice is NOT, in fact, what is on offer from pastor Stephen Kim of Mustard Seed Church in New York City. No. Instead, we get ten characteristics that, should a Christian man detect in his potential mate, ought to send him running for the hills screaming “I WILL NEVER, EVER MARRY YOU!”

Loyal Readers™ will be unsurprised to learn that yours truly pegs at least nine out of ten of these features—and, depending on the age of my would-be Christian suitor, all ten. But frankly I am worried sick about ladies who might not be as fortunate as I am, and could find themselves accidentally married to a Christian d00d. Because let me tell you, at least according to the pastor, Christian men are terrible: judgmental, controlling, immature, closed-minded, comically insecure—and, less amusingly, display more than a few of the classic red flags of abusers. So I sincerely commend pastor Kim for providing this valuable public service in highlighting ten qualities women urgently need to cultivate in themselves, in order to guard against the dismal fate that is Christian wifehood.

1. The Unbeliever.

The pastor is clear that a Christian d00d marrying a non-Christian woman is strictly forbidden. The key concern here is ostensibly “idolatry,” i.e. the couple and their children turning away from the Christian god to worship other, presumably more fun and interesting gods. But if idolatry were really the concern, atheist women should still be marriageable: as a rule, we do not worship any gods. (Well, except for Lord Shiva, of course. I thought that went without saying.) The fact is, we are never going to skip off into the woods with our little Gaia and Thor in tow for a Wiccan mass and drunken orgy, unless of course the wine being served is a particularly good vintage of Provence rosé. So idolatry cannot be the real reason to warn Christian men away from unbelievers. No, it’s because these d00ds are so painfully insecure that they cower in abject terror at the very thought of an honest conversation about their beliefs. Because of their extreme emotional fragility, they strive to remain at all times inside a tight, self-referential echo chamber: unchallenged, willfully ignorant, incurious and intellectually bankrupt. You know: like a Fox News viewer.

Ladies, just get thyself some pentagram jewelry, and be troubled no more.

pentagram pendant

Amulet pendant, $7.50

Abuse Red Flag

Pathological narcissism: “A narcissist cannot tolerate criticism. This does not just mean that a narcissist will reject or dislike criticism, but that he will escalate and lash out in the face of it.”

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2. The Divorcee.

Wedding bandsAccording to pastor Kim, a second marriage is “invalid and adulterous. A divorced woman, therefore, is off limits for a Christian man–unrepentant adultery being a sin that prevents one from obtaining eternal life (1 Cor 6:9).”

Whew! Good thing I am an unrepentant adulterer! But for you unfortunate ladies who are not unrepentant adulterers, fret not. There is a fix: marry a kind, hot foreign d00d who needs a US work visa. (Preferably a wealthy one: apparently these sham marriages can be quite lucrative!) When he gets his green card you divorce him and voilà: you are officially off limits to Christian d00ds.

But really, this objection rings hollow. It sounds an awful lot like the toxic purity culture right wing Christians want to enforce on all of us.

Also: “eternal life?” Why would anyone want that? And even if you did want that, wouldn’t you much rather be a vampire? I know I sure would. Vampires are hot.

Alex Skarsgard

Alex Skarsgard, people. Alex Skarsgard.

Abuse red flag

Jealousy: “Jealous behavior is one of the surest signs that abuse is down the road.”

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3. The Older Woman.

Whether you can claim this exemption or not depends on the relative age of the Christian d00d in question. At first I didn’t get what could possibly be the problem here, but then the pastor helpfully ‘splained:

I want to remind you that God intentionally (with good reason!) created Adam before Eve in the First Marriage. Scripture informs us that God created man first chronologically for the sake of authority! Listen:  “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:12-13).

Sure, that sounds totally legit.

Abuse Red Flag

Attracted to vulnerability: “abusive men are attracted to women much younger and/or at different developmental and maturity levels than them…He is attracted to the power imbalance in this type of relationship.”

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4. The Feminist.

Feminism is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. Are you instead committed to the political, economic, and social inequality of the sexes? Then ask your doctor whether Christian Marriage® is right for you!

The pastor has some, um, interesting things to say about feminism:

Any woman who tries to usurp her husband’s authority or even claims to be a co-leader with her man is gravely dishonoring the God who created her to be subject and obedient to her husband (Eph 5:22, Col 3:18, 1 Pet 3:1).

Leather Man NYCIt seems to me if this god designed men (though not women) so inadequately that they each require a permanent personal slave, then he should be the one providing those services for the helpless creatures himself. There’s a fantastic shop on Christopher Street that sells the perfect outfits and accoutrements for that sort of thing, FYI.

Abuse Red Flag

Sexist attitude: “Abusers tend to enforce rigid gender roles or believe in the traditional male ‘head of the household’ role.” Also: “gender inequalities increase the risk of violence by men against women and inhibit the ability of those affected to seek protection.” Plus: “Does your partner have strong ideas about the place and position of women vs. men?” Because RUN.

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5. The Sexy-Dresser.

LouboutinsWhy yes, thank you, I will indeed show some leg and/or cleavage when I feel like it. Probably not at the grocery store or a funeral, but if it makes me feel happy and confident to wear Those Shoes or That Lipstick I’ma do it. For me. Sadly, our pastor friend does not approve:

The way that a woman is willing to expose herself says much about her heart: “And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart” (Proverbs 7:10).  The text in Proverbs explains that a woman will dress in a certain way to catch a certain type of man.  Don’t be that man. 

What type of man pray tell is our harlot attempting to “catch”? The “type” who finds her devastatingly attractive and would dearly love to fuck her? Because clearly these are NOT qualities any woman would want in a long term partner, amirite? (!!!)

Note also the Evil Temptress vs. poor unwitting prey framing. Seems pastor Kim believes men are constitutionally incapable of finding someone sexually attractive and not acting on it. Yet in my experience, men are indeed capable of behaving better than feral dogs. Christian men? I guess not so much. So sex it up, ladies! Wear whatever makes you feel happy and confident! Just be extra careful not to unwittingly snare yourself a Christian d00d—apparently they are THE WORST.

Abuse Red Flag

Jealous accusations: “Has your partner jokingly or seriously complained that you were trying to attract other men/women by the way you walk, dress, or behave?” If so, STFU & Go Away® might be right for him!

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6. The Loud-Mouth.

HAHAHAHA! When someone spews harmful bullshit, I speak up (if it’s safe to do so). I consider it the moral duty of a decent human being. As a woman of course, I have been cut off, interrupted, ignored and spoken over by d00ds, in professional and personal contexts, more times than I could even begin to count. Men do these things to establish status and dominance, presumably among other males, since most women think these moves are sure signs of insecure and disrespectful blowhards. Tellingly, even when women are purposefully allotted equal time to speak, the perception is that they’re actually getting far more time than an equal share. Dale Spender, Laurie Bauer and Peter Trudgill explain this phenomenon:

The talkativeness of women has been gauged in comparison not with men but with silence. Women have not been judged on the grounds of whether they talk more than men, but of whether they talk more than silent women.

In other words, if women talk at all, this may be perceived as ‘too much’ by men who expect them to provide a silent, decorative background in many social contexts.

Men like…pastor Kim, whom you may recall favorably citing 1 Timothy 2 above: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” Let me put it this way: the more people like pastor Kim keep talking, the louder I will get. Who knew it was so easy to repel Christian men just by speaking up? Get yourself a bullhorn, ladies, and don’t be afraid to use it.

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7. The Child-Hater.

Do not marry a woman who is not willing to have children of her own.  In the Christian worldview, there is absolutely no room for two married, biologically capable, human beings to remain intentionally child-less.

You know, occasionally a friend will remark on my apparent dislike for children. This observation is not accurate: I dislike assholes, and I do not discriminate based on age. If there happens to be a lot of overlap between the two—and in my neighborhood there definitely is—that is not my problem to solve. I am intentionally childless for many reasons I won’t go into here, except to say that as an unrepentant adulterer, I am absolutely overjoyed every single fucking day that I never did spawn with my abusive ex. But the pastor, he no likee:

If you are adverse towards having children, then there’s a simple remedy for that: single-hood.

By which he means celibacy, of course. Hahaha nope. He may not be aware of this, but there’s actually another simple remedy for that: it’s called birth control. So if you suspect your fianmay be a Christian d00d, tell him you hate kids and are having your tubes tied. That should get rid of your problem.

Abuse Red Flag

Reproductive coercion: “coercion by male partners to become pregnant and to control the outcome of a pregnancy — has been associated with a history of both intimate partner physical and sexual violence.”

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8. The Wander-Luster. 

There is something very wrong with a girl who regularly needs to be “out of the home.”

Well, yes. A girl needs a safe and supportive home environment—what with being a minor and all.

The constant desire for new experiences, new places, new faces, and new forms of entertainment only serves to clearly manifest the fact that the woman has not found her rest in God. Believe it or not, Scripture speaks repeatedly about such women:  “She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home” (Proverbs 7:11).

Translation: a woman’s entire world should be narrowed to her home. Otherwise, Jeezus haz a sad.

Just remember ladies: LOUD & WAYWARD FTW.

Niagra Falls NY —> 4,050 km

Abuse Red Flag

Isolation: “An abuser will attempt to isolate the victim by severing the victim’s ties to outside support and resources. The batterer will accuse the victim’s friends and family of being ‘trouble makers.’”

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9. The Career Woman.

Modern American society might hate to hear this, but God made men to be the providers and women to be the nurturers of the home (in most instances). It’s okay for a woman to be a doctor, attorney, or any other professional. However, if her career is coming at the expense of her home, then something is wrong.

Ugh, here we go again with the home. The home! The home! I get it: meaningful and fulfilling work is not what a Christian d00d wants for his partner, nor does he want to be a nurturing partner at home. Ew.

The woman ought to be willing (and even desirous–to some extent) to give up her job for the sake of raising her kids in the Lord.  “So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander” (1 Tim 5:14).

There’s your solution right there: just don’t give a flying fuck what your enemies—for example, Southern Baptists—say about you.

Abuse Red Flag

Economic abuse: “a form of abuse when one intimate partner has control over the other partner’s access to economic resources, which diminishes the victim’s capacity to support him/herself and forces him/her to depend on the perpetrator financially… Economic abuse in a domestic situation may involve: preventing a spouse from resource acquisition, such as restricting their ability to find employment, maintain or advance their careers, and acquire assets…and when victims are asked why they stay in abusive relationships, ‘lack of income’ is a common response.”

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10. The Devotion-less Woman.

Is the woman having a regular, daily devotional time with her God? If she doesn’t love the Lord now, chances are, she won’t love the Lord after marriage.

OMG I loooove Lord Shiva! And I worship him with all my…er, heart! Heart.

You want to marry a girl who has an intimate relationship with Jesus.

Wait, with who now? No, I definitely don’t see myself in a compatible relationship—intimate or otherwise—with a d00d who is a petty little shit to his mom and brothers, and also to fig trees, and who calls a desperate woman and her sick child “dogs”. I mean, I FUCKING LOVE FIGS.

Jesus (not you) has to be the first man in her life.

Okay, that is not going to work out with one of these narcissists for a partner. Trust me on this.

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So what have we learned? Christian men are to be studiously avoided, and there are plenty of easy and inexpensive ways to repel them. Also: apparently I am at least ten women in one.

Finally, remember kids: it’s feminists who have little regard for men.

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RESOURCES FOR ABUSE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIMS

Resources for a diverse range of abuse and sexual assault victims – See more at: http://www.secularwoman.org/PSA_for_Christian_d00ds_DO_NOT_MARRY_US_PLEASE.#sthash.Kw9p8VsC.dpuf
Resources for a diverse range of abuse and sexual assault victims – See more at: http://www.secularwoman.org/PSA_for_Christian_d00ds_DO_NOT_MARRY_US_PLEASE.#sthash.Kw9p8VsC.dpuf

IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE: Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If you are afraid your internet or computer usage might be monitored, please use a safer computer or phone.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESOURCES:

US:  National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)/TTY 1−800−787−3224
UK: Women’s Aid: 0808 2000 247.
Australia: 1800RESPECT at 1800 737 732.
Worldwide: International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies, a global list of helplines and crisis centers.

FOR MALE VICTIMS OF ABUSE:
U.S. & Canada: The Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men & Women
UK: ManKind Initiative
Australia: One in Three Campaign

RAPE & SEXUAL ASSAULT RESOURCES:

U.S: National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE); National Sexual Assault Online Hotline.
International: See here.

RESOURCES FOR MALE VICTIMS OF RAPE & SEXUAL ASSAULT:

MaleSurvivor. (“provides critical resources to male survivors of sexual trauma and all their partners in recovery by building communities of Hope, Healing, & Support.”)
One in 6. (“Our mission is to help men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood live healthier, happier lives.”)

RESOURCES FOR TRANS* VICTIMS (staffed exclusively by trans volunteers):
Trans Lifeline http://www.translifeline.org/
US: (877) 565-8860
Canada: (877) 330-6366
See also LGBT: stop-homophobia.com

Racism is whites’ problem to solve.

If you follow news about policing, you will already know that American society is by far the most incarcerated in the world, that black and brown people are enormously overpoliced compared to whites and given harsher sentences than whites for the same crimes, and that young black men in particular are killed by police at rates 21 times greater than their white counterparts. Many liberal-minded whites I know seem incapable of grasping the enormity of the injustice of all of that—which may be understandable given that their interactions with police have been generally much different, but is not excusable on those grounds. Of course many less-than-liberal-minded whites are openly defensive and hostile in response to anyone calling this what it is—systemic racism—in favor of all manner of victim-blaming and othering and authoritarianism and bootstrapping narratives that have about as much relation to reality as…well, as all things conservative generally do. This is why as protesters took to the streets in NYC (and across the nation) in response to police violence and the failure to hold accountable the cops who killed Mike Brown and Eric Garner, I was heartened to see people of every race among them, especially whites. I say this not to suggest these whites deserve a cookie just for being decent fucking human beings. They don’t. I say it because—and this really cannot be said enough—racism is whites’ problem to solve.

RACISM IS WHITES’ PROBLEM TO SOLVE.

See, there I said it again. And it is true in exactly the same way that street harassment is mens’s problem to solve. (The similarities to misogyny don’t end there, but that’s another post entirely.) It’s a tall order, to be sure, and will take a hell of a lot more than white people demonstrating and marching. The solution to police violence and mass incarceration of people of color does not just lie within the relationships between cops and communities of color—although it certainly lies there, too. It lies with whites interrogating ourselves about our participation in social, cultural and political systems that sustain racism—and committing to fucking doing something about it. Janee Woods wrote recently:

We’re 400 years into this racist system and it’s going to take a long, long, long time to dismantle these atrocities. The antiracism movement is a struggle for generations, not simply the hot button issue of the moment. Transformation of a broken system doesn’t happen quickly or easily.

People of color, black people especially, cannot and should not shoulder the burden for dismantling the racist, white supremacist system that devalues and criminalizes black life without the all in support, blood, sweat and tears of white people.

__________

Here are some images I shot from Greenwich Street on December 4th around 8:00pm as protesters marched West on 11th Street. (Yes people, believe it or not I was actually roused from my bar stool—not by all the NYPD sirens of course, but by the protester chants I heard over them from a block away.)

NYPD blocking greenwich st at 11th

NYPD blocking Greenwich St.
West Village, between Perry & 11th Sts.

protestors 11th & greenwich sts

Protesters at 11th & Greenwich Sts.

protestors "justice"

Protester at 11th & Greenwich Sts.: "JUSTICE"

protestors on 11th st

Protesters at 11th & Greenwich Sts.

woman protestor "Black Lives Matter"

Woman protesting at 11th & Greenwich Sts.: BLACK LIVES MATTER.

USA Today has a fantastic collection of photos from nationwide protests; here are a few from NYC.

Brooklyn Bridge protestors

Brooklyn Bridge.
(Photo: Jason DeCrow, AP)

Grand Central Die-In

Grand Central.
(Photo: Justin Lane, European PressPhoto Agency)

Foley Square "We Can't Breathe"

Foley Square.
(Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY)

__________

Back at the bar, a young woman came in, sat next to me and ordered a drink. We got to talking, as bar people do. She had just turned twenty-one a few days ago, and in a few weeks will be headed for a semester in Paris to study curation. We talked about art and artists (she loves Frida Kahlo) and Europe (she’s never been) and her excitement about the adventures that lie ahead (highly contagious). Eventually she mentioned that she had just been marching with the protesters, and that she was struggling with some guilt over pursuing her dreams overseas while her community was suffering so much here, and yet she said she felt a duty to take advantage of these opportunities for them. She has an autistic brother, 17, who she fears will make an easy target for police violence, not just because of his race but because his disability makes interpersonal communication so difficult for him. She is not wrong about that. I listened for a while, and did not interrupt, until she shared that she was really torn between being a committed activist and “curling up in a ball in bed.” Wait, I said. Those things are not mutually exclusive. And I urged her to curl up in a ball in bed exactly as often as she needed to, to mourn, to rest, to reset. There is no shame in tending to your own garden. We hugged, I wished her well and parted.

paris-bound student protestor

Photo shared with permission; name withheld.

We may well lose her to Paris, and that would be our great loss. Who could blame her? Any future she may have stateside is up to us—all of us.

Earlier that evening, I had posted to Facebook a photo of police helicopters swarming the skies above Manhattan. Later on, I would have a fitful night’s sleep, awakened over and over by the sounds of sirens blazing and helicopters roaring. This is nothing, I reminded myself, compared to the nightmare that will never end for the families and friends of those unjustly killed by police with impunity.

I hope you will get involved, and stay involved. I may well be curling up in a ball in bed today.

The helicopters are still in the skies.

BLACK LIVES MATTER.

__________

[a version of this post appeared at perry street palace.]

Funny times with Forced Birthers.

Jill Filipovic has a good piece up in Cosmopolitan (yes, that Cosmopolitan) entitled Abortion Clinic Protesters: “Sidewalk Counselors” or “Sidewalk Terrorists”? It covers the usual rabid theocrats and misogynist circus clowns, and it documents (as we already know) that these assholes are not driven by “baby killing” per se, they are really railing against women (and others) having non-church sanctioned, non-procreative sex. I have never understood this motivation personally because that is, quite obviously I would think, the best kind of sex to have. Nevertheless, this particular attitude, incomprehensible as it may be, explains why Forced Birthers are also dead set against birth control—which would, you know, actually reduce abortions.

Now maybe this is because I have a terrible fucking head cold, a hacking cough and a fever (OMG! EBOLA!) but for whatever reason I found the clinic protesters interviewed for this article hilarious. Don’t get me wrong—they are as rage-inducing as ever, and I still loathe each and every one of them with the burning fire of ten thousand suns. But this, my friends, is comic gold:

“[Women] had equality,” [demonstrator Fred] Delouis says about the 1950s, before Supreme Court cases legalized contraception and abortion. “But they had to be obedient to their husbands. That’s where equality comes: where the mother stayed home and raised the children in God’s light, and the husband worked, and everything was great. When I grew up, there were no problems.”

Equality, y’all! EVERYTHING was GREAT! And there were NO PROBLEMS…for Fred! LOL!

And Fred just keeps the hits right on coming:

“Society was great before they had abortions,” he says. “Because there wasn’t as much evil in the world.”

Did you know World War II happened after Roe v. Wade? HAHAHA!

“They weren’t murdering God’s babies, which is the most important thing.”

Silly Fred! Abortions are actually helping God murder his babies, because if there’s one thing we all know God loves, it’s murdering his babies! If 50% of pregnancies spontaneously abort, obviously clinics are just doing some of God’s baby murderin’ work for him! You would think Fred would show a little more enthusiasm and gratitude. He can be pretty funny, but I think he’s a little confused.

Then there’s the Death D00d:

Inside the clinic, Deb Fenton, regional director of Central and Western Massachusetts Planned Parenthood, peers out the window, looking for one of the regular protesters who shows up in an Angel of Death costume. “Is the Grim Reaper out there today?” she asks.

Excellent! I want to hang around Grim Reaper d00d while wearing my trademark bloody coat hanger dress—always a big hit at parties. I had been thinking of festooning it with bloody doll parts around the coat hanger anyway, and I feel this would nicely complement the whole “bloody dismembered fetus” theme they’ve got going on their posters and signage. I’ll fit right in! It’ll be a hoot!

Then there’s Ruth:

“I consider my profession having been a mother and a grandmother,” Ruth says, adding that her children agree with her values: two of her daughters got pregnant out of wedlock, one in high school, and both placed their children for adoption.

Oh, Ruth. Priceless!

And the lovely Nancy Clark:

“Abstinence,” Clark says. “It’s possible. I taught my daughters abstinence. It doesn’t mean I’ve been successful with my first two, but I have three more to go.”

Third time’s the charm? Bwahahahaha!

 

Clark says that after marriage, “natural family planning” is the only way to go. And she’s mystified by its lack of popularity:

“You can’t even get Catholics to use it,” she says. “It does work though. Of course, I have nine kids.”

Stop it Nancy! You’re killin’ me!

 

Clark testified in the Supreme Court’s recent clinic buffer zone case—presumably under penalty of perjury—that:

“close personal communication” in a “kind, gentle voice” was her preferred method of approaching women, and that “speaking in a raised voice, shouting or yelling is counterproductive.”

Once the shitheads on the high court struck down the clinic buffer zone law (a unanimous decision, by the way, issued from the safety and comfort of the court’s own 200 foot buffer zone), Clark now enjoys having more options of where she can approach women in a “kind, gentle voice.”

“Instead of yelling from here,” she says, gesturing across the street to the clinic, “I get to yell from over there.”

What a scream! (<—Hahaha. Sometimes I crack myself up.)

Next, meet Father Andrew Beauregard, a Franciscan monk—i.e. a celibate d00d (at least we hope…). He’s here to helpfully ‘splain everything you need to know about wimmenz lives:

“The fullness of being a woman is being a mother.”

And here I thought the fullness of being a woman was me eating too much of Frankie’s pizza. Huh. So I guess the fullness of being a man is being a daddy? Then why the fuck are you here yellin’ at pregnant people instead of making the babies? Dust that thing off and get to work, Father. God needs more babies to murder!

“For a woman to say that she has to have control over her body or over herself in such a way that she can’t be a mother really speaks to a degradation towards women.”

Conversely, compulsory childbirth is in no way degrading to women! I can’t stand it! This guy is a fucking pisser!

Protesters also told Filipovic they had a “save” the week before: that is, they convinced a man (*ahem*) to convince his girlfriend to leave the clinic:

Recounting their “save,” Meija and Pablo say the woman was going to terminate because her boyfriend had another girlfriend and had also fathered children with other women. But, they say, the boyfriend didn’t want the abortion from the beginning and after he promised he would support the baby, she came out of the clinic crying, and they walked away together.

Well that sure sounds like a win for everyone!

“We saw them together,” Pablo says. “That’s the most great thing — to see them together as a family.”

Remember, people, this is all about traditional family values: one d00d, his two girlfriends, plus a bunch of kids he’s had with other women. The MOST GREAT THING. Probably ever! Tee-hee-hee!

There is one thing I don’t get, though: if you’re so content with the choices you’ve made in your own life, what the hell are you doing spending your days harassing and yelling at other people for making choices of their own? I thought this would go without saying, but nine kids just isn’t for everybody. Hell, marriage isn’t for everyone, either. Just ask Father Beauregard about that!

It never occurred to me before, but I’m starting to think maybe they do it for the lulz.

[cross-posted at perry street palace]

 

Andrew Sullivan: FREE SPEECH™ of straight white d00ds dooooomed by evil feminists.

Portrait of Andrew Sullivan

by Iris Vander Pluym
oil on canvas, 30 ft. x 50 ft.
$10 million

[TRIGGER WARNING: discussion of sexist, racist and other problematic language.]

Friends, I am sorry to report that FREE SPEECH™ is, for all intents and purposes, dead. And not just in Dawkinsland either, where Richard and his fellow…what's the word?… "rationalists" I believe they call themselves, are at this very moment cowering in abject fear of no exaggeration witch hunts, actual Inquisitions and literal Orwellian Thought Police. As I'm sure we can all imagine, that is exactly what it is like being rebuked for saying factually wrong or long-debunked shit on Twitter—or worse, being informed that you've just said something harmful to people who are not you. Can you even imagine? Thankfully, Dawkins & Co. keep on bravely fighting the good fight for FREE SPEECH™ for all of us, by brilliantly deploying the tried-and-true tactic of repeating rape culture tropes that have plagued sexual assault victims for millennia. THOUGHT EXPERIMENTIN'! BREAKIN' TABOOS! PHILOSOPHIZIN'! 'SPLAININ' LOGIC! If that doesn't make feminists shut the fuck up, surely nothing will. I mean, what is the point of even having FREE SPEECH™ if other people are going to actually criticize things you say?

But this terrifying campaign of violent censorship has now gone far beyond even that. Andrew Sullivan, "conservative-libertarian" columnist, reports with alarm that "The SJWs Now Get To Police Speech On Twitter." For the uninitiated, "SJW" stands for Social Justice Warrior, i.e., a person who advocates for equality and against bigotry and oppression with respect to race, gender, sexual orientation, class, etc. (Believe it or not, SJW is actually meant as derogatory slur.) So what exactly are these jack-booted thugs doing to end FREE SPEECH™ on Twitter?

Well, a group called WAM! (Women, Action & the Media) has just entered into a pilot program in collaboration with Twitter intended to address the epidemic of gender-based harassment and abuse plaguing the platform. The purpose is to "learn about what kind of gendered harassment is happening on Twitter, how that harassment intersects with other kinds of harassment (racist, transphobic, etc.), and which kinds of cases Twitter is prepared (and less prepared) to respond to." WAM! will work with Twitter to track the data and improve their responses. The way it works is pretty straightforward: if you're being harassed on Twitter, you fill out this form on the WAM! site. Once they verify your information, they escalate it a.s.a.p. directly to Twitter, and try to get you a quick resolution. WAM! makes clear right on the form that they can only advocate: they have neither the authority nor the ability to make decisions or take any action on behalf of Twitter.

Just to be clear: we are not talking here about hurt fee-fees because somebody tweeted something mean at me and now I haz a sad. We are talking about relentless threats of violent rape and gruesome death, some credible enough that recently at least three women have been driven from their own homes. We are talking about violations of federal law under 18 U.S. Code § 875(c), which provides that "Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both." In New York State, we are talking about a class A misdemeanor under § 120.50(3), or depending on the circumstances, possibly a class E or D felony. In a case like Zerlina Maxwell's, we are also talking about a hate crime subject to enhanced sentencing. And more to the point, we are talking about violations of Twitter's own terms of service, which Twitter itself has proven unable to enforce.

This is the FREE SPEECH™ hill that Andrew Sullivan is prepared to die on.

If you think about it, it's actually kind of shitty that a nonprofit like WAM! has to step in and do this work for Twitter (to say nothing of local, state and federal law enforcement). But to Twitter's credit, this certainly represents a step in the right direction, and one with the potential to lead to in-house reforms.

But not for Andrew Sullivan. Oh, no. He is filled with the foreboding sense that this unholy alliance between WAM! and Twitter portends the end of FREE SPEECH™ as we know it. In his mind, "Twitter has empowered leftist feminists to have a censorship field day." And Sullivan does not like these lefty-feminists one bit, no siree! So much so that he imagines—naturally based on no evidence whatsoever—that WAM!s actual Sooper Seekrit Agenda™ is ultimately enforcing "gender quotas for all media businesses, equal representation for women in, say, video-games, gender parity in employment in journalism and in the stories themselves." Gender quotas! LOL! Also: simply stating the demonstrable fact that straight, white males have overwhelmingly dominated public discourse is disparaging straight white males as a group. And sure, WAM! may say their mission is to advocate for the inclusion of more diverse and historically marginalized voices in media, but Andrew Sullivan ain't buying it: "WAM can get to advance their broader ideas about policing the speech of white straight males by this legitimizing alliance with Twitter." WAM!'s real goal, he knows, "is to police and punish others for their alleged sexism." Never mind that, again, WAM! cannot censor anything, anywhere (except their own web site). Twitter is "handing over the censorship tools to a radical activist group bent on social transformation."

Obviously, if these terrible lefty feminist censors are not stopped pronto, next thing you know straight white men will be the ones fleeing their homes in fear for their lives. Just like Richard Dawkins.

Seriously, though, the whole rant is wildly entertaining. "Instead of seeing the web as opening up vast vistas for all sorts of voices to be heard," he writes with comical cluelessness, "they seem to believe it is rigged against female voices." D00d. In case the fourth paragraph of this very blog post did not adequately demonstrate for you that the web is quite clearly "rigged against female voices," a recent Pew research study found that (a) women overall are disproportionately targeted by the most severe forms of online abuse, (b) 25 percent of young women have been sexually harassed online, and (c) 26 percent have experienced stalking.

And guess what else? Queer women, women of color, trans women and women with other marginalized identities are especially targeted and abused. Sullivan quotes WAM!'s Jaclyn Friedman:

“I see this as a free speech issue,” Friedman said. She said she knew some would see the work WAM does as “censorship,” but that a completely open and unmoderated platform imposes its own form of censorship. It effectively prevents women, especially queer women and women of color, from getting to speak on the service.

Behold, his insightful retort:

How exactly? Does Twitter prevent women of color from using the service? Or is it simply that WAM believes that women cannot possibly handle the rough-and-tumble of uninhibited online speech?

Yes, that must be it: it's feminists who believe women are delicate flowers who cannot possibly handle the "rough-and-tumble of uninhibited online speech." Like routine rape and death threats, doxxing (releasing private information such as home addresses, phone numbers, employer, etc. in order to get people to harass women offline, too), libel, hate speech, revenge porn and all sorts of other "rough-and-tumble," "uninhibited online speech" Sullivan is apparently so invested in protecting. FREE SPEECH™, y'all.

Then he says:

I can find no reason to oppose a stronger effort by Twitter to prevent individual users from stalking or harassing others –

Okay! That's fantastic. We're all on board, then.

but

Uh-oh…

if merely saying nasty things about someone can be seen as harassment,

It can't. Because that's not actually what the word "harassment" means.

then where on earth does this well-intentioned censorship end? Is it designed to censor only misogyny and not racism?

No, dear. It's designed to curtail harassment and abuse. And it's starting with misogynist harassment and abuse, albeit with an intersectional focus (racism, transphobia, etc.). FYI, the group is called Women, Action & Media.

What about blasphemy?

Let's see. I just tweeted this:

"Jeezus fookin' Christ.
That is all."
[email protected]

I await the terrifying Feminazi Stormtroopers who will be smashing in my door any minute, and dragging me away to be burned at the stake with all the "rationalists."

Of course no one wants to prevent Andrew Sullivan or anyone else from embarrassing themselves on Twitter. I mean, what would we do around here all day without conservatives providing a steady stream of hilarious blog fodder? Unfortunately, how these nefarious evildoers at WAM! will accomplish all of their evildoing by forwarding misogynist harassment complaints to some people at Twitter is left unstated by Sullivan. But I'll definitely be bringing it up at next week's regular meeting of the White-Straight-Man-Hating Social Justice Warriors For Censorship and World Domination™.

[cross-posted at perry street palace.]

Operation Hand Sanitizer

As a lifelong student of the deadly scourge known as “conservatism,” I read with great interest a recent piece by Ezra Klein in Vox entitled Standing near hand sanitizer makes Americans more conservative. So what will Ebola do?. Klein reports on a growing mass of evidence that human social and political cultures are emergent properties of our responses to infectious disease threats—or “pathogen stress,” as the fancy lib’rul eeleet perfessers like to call it. The gist of the theory is this: through all of human history, infectious diseases have been the single greatest threat to human populations—killing more people than wars, natural disasters and noninfectious diseases combined—such that humans (like other animals) have evolved behavioral responses to avoid them. Just as our biological immune system is triggered by the presence of diseases, so too is our “behavioral immune system” activated by (perceived) disease threats in our environment. Klein gives the examples of our fear and aversion upon encountering a rat, and feeling disgusted when you get a whiff of rotten meat. It works at a surprisingly granular level, too: humans react with disgust to yellowish liquids that resemble pus, yet we remain unfazed by blueish substances of the same texture.

 

It turns out that the reaction of disgust in particular has profound moral and political implications, not just for individuals but for culture writ large. There is a well-demonstrated link between moral notions of “purity” and social conservatism, and conservatives are more easily disgusted than liberals. Where this gets very, very interesting is the finding that even subtle reminders of cleanliness (or its opposite, impurity) can trigger more conservative attitudes—in anyone. In a clever set of experiments, Cornell University psychologists Erik Helzer and David Pizarro approached every ninth college student entering a campus hallway and asked them to take a quick survey about their demographics and political beliefs. Half the students were asked to “step over to the hand-sanitizer dispenser to complete the questionnaire,” and the other half were asked to “step over to the wall to complete the questionnaire” where the hand sanitizer had been removed. The researchers reported:

Participants who reported their political attitudes in the presence of the hand-sanitizer dispenser reported a less liberal political orientation than did participants in the control condition. Despite the noisy nature of the public hallway in which we collected the data, it appears as if a simple reminder of physical purity was able to shift participants’ responses toward the conservative end of the political spectrum.

The conservative effect held for fiscal, social and moral positions. Helzer and Pizarro then ran a second experiment in the lab, where half the participants were offered a hand sanitizer wipe before using the lab computers to answer a questionnaire about their moral values. Again, the researchers found that those exposed to the cleanliness cue reported significantly more conservative political attitudes than subjects who were not.

 

In other words we are pretty much meat robots, subconsciously programmed by cues in our environments. Even our most cherished and fiercely held moral and political beliefs can be profoundly affected by the circumstances in which we find ourselves. It is worth remembering that we are talking about tendencies here; these are modern manifestations of ancient survival mechanisms in a much more complex world. It’s probably a safe bet that it would require a whole lot more hand sanitizer to get some of us to vote for some berserker theocrat than it would our fellow citizens who are already well on their way to Hitlerville. Still, as research in the field has been expanding, the ramifications of the behavioral immune system are turning up everywhere. Mark Schaller  & Co. found that subjects primed to think about disease were much more prejudiced and fearful toward immigrants; in light of this, it is hardly surprising to discover that wherever there is a higher risk of infectious disease, societies tend to be more xenophobic. And it gets weirder. Randy Thornhill and Corey Fincher have found not only that societies in which pathogen-avoidant behaviors flourish are likely to coalesce into repressive and autocratic government systems, but that pathogen stress is positively correlated with "high levels of civil and ethnic warfare, increased rates of homicide and child maltreatment, patriarchal family structures, and social restrictions regarding women’s sexual behavior." [Emphasis added.]

 

That's right: patriarchy flourishes with the perceived threat of contagious diseases.

 

WHAT.

 

Naturally, this really got my beanie a-spinning. I wondered whether, in much the same way that the biological immune system can be tricked into positive action by vaccines, perhaps the behavioral immune system can be recruited to virtually eradicate the conservative pestilence infecting our nation (<—see what I did there? Hahaha.). And then it came to me in a flash: clearly what is needed here is a massive operation to get all of the hand sanitizer out of the halls of Congress and state houses across the country! After that, we can go after the hand sanitizer in the homes and offices of MRAs, Baptist clergy and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

 

Who's with me?

 

[A version of this post appeared at perry street palace.]

If this is not sacrificing your daughter on “the alter of men,” then nothing is.

Once again, it has come to my attention that people who write misogynist shit are not universally mocked for dehumanizing women and girls. No, I’m not talking about Richard fucking Dawkins—although no one would be surprised at anything embarrassingly ill-informed and sexist emanating from him. Today I’m talking about Christian clergy who opine thusly:

2 Reasons Why My Daughter Will Not Go to College
by Pastor Karl Heitman

Meet Annalise. She is my only little princess…She’s five years old and, like every loving father, I’ll be forced to give her away one day. Until then, my wife and I have the immense opportunity to train her and prepare her to be a woman of God. More specifically, we have the mandate to prepare her to be a wife and mother. To be honest, I have a deep concern for her because of the feministic culture we live in. Let’s face it; feminism has so influenced American culture that it has infiltrated the Christian culture just as much in more subtle ways. The average Christian woman is not trained from the home, nor encouraged, to find a husband as an alternative to going to college and starting a career.

Wait, feminists cannot be wives and mothers? That’s news to me—and my mom, my sister and many friends. And probably to Angelina Jolie.

Of course college is not for every woman, nor is ambitious careerism—the same goes for men. But neither is marriage and/or having children for everyone. In any case, none of these things are mutually exclusive. But please—go on, pastor:

When I even suggest the possibility of not sending my daughter to college, I almost always get the stink eye.

Good. She’s five fucking years old, and presumably does not yet know—as my remarkable sister did at that age—how she wants to live her life. (<—Emphasis on her life.)

This grieves me because we have allowed the culture to sear our conscience to the point where the plain reading of Scripture is scoffed at by professing Christians.

And thank the fuckin’ Lard “the plain reading of scripture is scoffed at by professing Christians”! Otherwise they’d be stoning disobedient children to death (and gay men, rape victims and people who do yard work on Sundays). And banning the wearing of cotton-wool blends, eating pork or shellfish, and taking oaths (like the pledge of allegiance). So, you ignore all sorts of morally grotesque and bizarre biblical rules that you’ve conveniently decided should not apply to you. But all that misogynist shit? Well, all that definitely applies to the wimmenz:

This is why I have a drive to see our churches be more passionate about Titus 2 than conforming to the cultural expectation of women being independent of man. Thankfully this doesn’t pertain to all single truly converted ladies. I have met a few women from godly families who have been trained to be “managers of the home” (Titus 2:4-5).

Hey, why don’t we take a closer look at what this Titus-writin’ d00d had to say in his second chapter, shall we?

Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things (Titus 2:9).

Uh-oh. That’s right, slaves: obey your masters! And please them well in all things. This is only right and godly.

What a horror show. Okay, maybe that was just a helpful suggestion?

These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. (Titus 2:15).

I guess not. Well, I have to assume the good pastor is 100% on board with slavery. Most of Titus 2 is about men tightly controlling women’s lives—and he is certainly 100% on board with that.

I’m calling all Christians to stop, pause, and ask, “Have I bought into the cultural expectations imposed on our young women of the faith? Are we, in practice, setting up our young women to function in a role they weren’t designed to?” To put it another way, is it wise to expect young women to go to a university and pursue a career?

Why, that sounds like a hypothesis that can actually be tested by investigating the real world! Let’s see…what do you know, lookie here:

Companies With Female CEOs Beat The Stock Market.
Covert, B., Think Progress (Jul. 2014).

Female CEOs at the country’s biggest companies oversee financial results, on average, that beat the stock market, according to Fortune Magazine’s analysis of data from Factset Research Systems.

Fortune 1000 companies with a woman in the top role saw an average return of 103.4 percent over the women’s tenures, compared to an average 69.5 percent return for the S&P 500 stock index over the same periods.

The companies with female CEOs also seem to generate an outsized amount of revenue compared to others…

Other studies have found that companies run by women outperform others. Hedge funds run by women had a 6 percent return between 2007 and 2013, beating both a global hedge fund index at the stock market.

Numerous studies have also found that companies with women on their boards of directors perform better than male-only ones.

Gosh, pastor, are we, in practice, setting up our young men to function in a role they weren’t designed to? To put it another way, is it wise to expect young men to go to a university and pursue a career?

Pastor…? Hello…?

I have come up with two reasons why my daughter won’t go to college:

1. My daughter won’t go to college if…her motive is wrong. For starters, I’m NOT opposed to my daughter getting a higher Christian (emphasis on Christian) education given that her heart is right (i.e., she does not want to get a degree just so that she can be independent of a man; see 1 Cor 11:9).

Corinthians, huh? Then I am sure the pastor is equally dedicated to a similar crusade to ensure Christians never sue each other (see 1 Cor 6). Right?

Many remain untaught about the role of women from a biblical perspective.

Hahaha. I wish.

A woman was created to fill the role of a helper and a companion, specifically to a husband. That’s why God created Eve (Gen 2:18).

How convenient. For you.

Until that happens, nowhere in Scripture does it command fathers to release their daughter into the world and demand that she learn how to fend for herself.

Since you won’t “release” your hostage daughter, Annalise will have to plan and execute her escape all by herself.  🙁

Paul says twice in two different letters that a woman’s primary place of business is in the home (1 Tim 5:14; Tit 2:4). This role is precious and sacred, but the church has bought into the idea that to be a stay-at-home wife/mommy is second class and it’s despised…even in most churches.

WTF. That is an appalling view churches have toward women who choose (<—*ahem*) to dedicate themselves to their marriages, their homes and/or raising children. Even the evil feminists don’t do that. Perhaps—and I’m just thinkin’ out loud here—churches have bought into the idea that all women are second class citizens, because that’s what the fucking bible teaches.

Christian women are indeed pursuing the same things as unbelieving women: independence from a man.

Something is wrong with men who feel compelled to have women be utterly dependent upon them. Treating a grown woman like a helpless child is not just degrading and infantilizing, it raises more than one red flag for abuse.

Eve acted outside the authority and protection of Adam and, well, you know where that led to.

Indeed. If women are not kept at home and tightly monitored and controlled by men, THEY WILL TOTALLY RUIN EVERYTHING!!!11!!!

(Unlike men, who’ve been doing such a bangup job of things themselves.)

2. My daughter won’t go to college if…I can’t afford it.

Hopefully when Annalise finally escapes from you controlling assholes she moves to Germany. I will personally buy her a one-way ticket.

The blame for the church’s cultural compromises fall squarely on the shoulders of church leaders and fathers.

Well, better buckle down, men. Gotta keep women in line!

I pledged to myself that I will not sacrifice my daughter on the altar of men by sending her out of my home, care, and protection at age 18 just so that she can get a degree and achieve some worldly status…Now, I have a beautiful wife and precious little girl. It’s neither her burden nor her role to work outside the home in order to provide for me. The gifts God has given her are employed every single hour in her service to her husband, her children, and her church. Her job is 24 hours and I thank her often for it.

Thanks, honey, for your 24/7 unpaid labor as my servant.

The bottom line is this: the Bible does not command women to leave home at a young, vulnerable age, get a formal education, get a reputable job, and then have a family when she feels like it.

Only men should leave home at a young, vulnerable age, get a formal education, get a reputable job, and then have a family when they feel like it. See, it’s godly when they do it. What could possibly go wrong for Annalise?

One the other hand, the Bible reveals that it is God’s will for women to get married, raise godly children, and keep the home. It’s a high calling.

Yet strangely, this “high calling” pays nothing, discourages education, severely limits opportunities, encourages domination and abuse, and leaves women utterly dependent upon and subservient to a d00d.

If this is not sacrificing your daughter “on the alter of men,” then nothing is.

__________

Photo: background altar image by DAVID ILIFF, under license: CC-BY-SA 3.0.

[cross-posted at Perry Street Palace.]

Richard Dawkins, hysterical dumbass.

[CONTENT NOTE: misogyny; harassment; rape; rape apologia.]

Richard Dawkins has been keeping himself very busy indeed during his stay as an involuntary organ donor in the Palace Abattoir. In response to a widely-read piece by Mark Oppenheimer about misogyny in the atheoskeptisphere, he has bravely taken to Twitter to defend his BFF Michael Shermer, the notorious subject of multiple accusations of predatory sexual behavior toward women. Shermer’s MO, as described in the Oppenheimer piece by TAM staffer Alison Smith, shares most of the typical hallmarks of an overwhelming number of rapists-at-large: boundary testing; planning assaults using sophisticated strategies to isolate victims; deploying psychological manipulation, e.g., power, control; and last but certainly not least, using alcohol deliberately in order to render targets more vulnerable if not outright unconscious. They calculate, quite correctly it turns out, that this particular modus operandi puts them at miniscule risk of ever being accused—let alone reported, investigated, arrested, prosecuted, convicted and jailed. Regardless of whether you believe Smith’s or other women’s accounts regarding Shermer, these are just facts, and this is how rape culture works in the real world.

But not in Dawkinsland, it doesn’t. Nope! Yesterday, in defense of Michael Shermer the Infallible King of Reason tweeted:

Officer, it’s not my fault I was drunk driving. You see, somebody got me drunk.” –Richard Dawkins

Astute readers will note that this is Richard Dawkins taking Smith’s allegations as true, knowing that by all accounts (including his own) Shermer was sober during the alleged incident, and then oh-so-very-cleverly sneering that she is responsible—by likening an alleged rape victim to a drunk driver.

Here’s Stephanie Zvan with a nice fisk:

He doesn’t appear to believe Shermer’s story, which is that Shermer had sex with Smith after she sobered up. Dawkins took Smith’s story as read, although he isolated it from Ashley’s story and Pamela’s.

Then he ignored the parts of that story that make Smith’s lack of consent and Shermer’s knowledge of it clear. He ignored that Shermer followed Smith away from the party. He ignored the promise to help Smith back to her room, only to end up in Shermer’s. Instead, he grasped the fact that Smith was drunk to the point of not remembering parts of the evening and used that to assign responsibility to her. He claimed Smith was responsible for the encounter despite the one fact that both parties agree on being that Shermer was sober.

He believed her story, not Shermer’s.

He believed she was intoxicated.

He knew Shermer was not, from all sources of information.

He believed Shermer deceived her in the process of getting her past the point of being able to consent.

Then he tweeted that she was responsible for the encounter.

Then he compared Shermer following Smith away from the party to Smith driving drunk.

Then he compared Shermer taking Smith to a different room than promised to Smith driving drunk.

Then he compared Shermer sexually assaulting Smith to Smith driving drunk.

I’ma say this once more for the cheap seats:

THE ONLY THING A RAPE VICTIM HAS DONE “WRONG” IS TO FIND HERSELF (OR HIMSELF) IN THE PRESENCE OF A RAPIST.

Fortunately, the vast majority of men do not rape. But those who do can always rely on victim-blaming shitweasels like Richard Dawkins to provide comfort and cover, so they can continue to operate unimpeded.

Then the Lord of All Logic tweeted this:

The REAL Rape Culture: “All occurrences of sexual intercourse are rape unless there is certified evidence to the contrary.” –Richard Dawkins

No, my precious little cupcake: All occurrences of sexual intercourse are rape unless there is consent. This is really not difficult for most people to grok. And I find it… telling interesting when people are so highly motivated not to grok it. Before he deleted this tweet (“claiming it was sarcastic. There’s no word on what part of it he didn’t mean, however…”), he responded to a follower concerned that he “might fall in trouble again with Feminists”:

With a certain kind of feminist, of course. Not with feminists who truly respect women instead of patronising them as victims –Richard Dawkins

This one sent PZ off on a righteous rant (which I highly recommend reading in its entirety):

Who are these mysterious patronizing feminists? They don’t actually exist. You are echoing a strategy of denial: you approve of feminists, but not the ones who actually point out sexist problems in our culture, or fight against discrimination, or point out that they’ve been raped, or abused, or cheated in the workplace, or any of the other realities of a sexist culture. This is what anti-feminists say: be quiet about the problems. If you mention the problems, you are perpetuating the sisterhood of oppression, you are playing the martyr, you are being a pathetic victim who must be treated with contempt.

But if no woman speaks out about the problems, how will we ever know to correct them? If we shame every victim for being a victim and daring to reveal her victimhood, it becomes very easy to pretend that there is no oppression.

Oh, silly PZ! You see, in Dawkinsville there are no “victims,” only irresponsible drunk drivers crashing themselves willy-nilly right into rapists’ penises!

But this morning’s tweet absolutely takes the cake:

Raping a drunk woman is appalling. So is jailing a man when the sole prosecution evidence is “I was too drunk to remember what happened.” –Richard Dawkins

Heh.

Hahaha.

HOLY SHIT HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! 

Now, Twitter is a unique medium with pros and cons like every other; suffice it to say it does not particularly lend itself to schooling pompous assholes on the many wonders of reality. But I did my best:

 

@RichardDawkins false reports: est. 2-8%. Rape hugely underreported. 3% of rapist[s] do jail time. Now go away and learn how to think. –Iris Vander Pluym

(Incidentally, citations for these statistics can be found all over the fucking internet here and here.)

@RichardDawkins As if men are prosecuted when “the sole prosecution evidence is ‘I was too drunk to remember what happened.'” #dumbass –Iris Vander Pluym

Jeezus. “I was too drunk to remember what happened” is exculpatory evidence: it creates reasonable doubt and nearly always benefits the accused. That is why prosecutors almost universally do not take such cases to trial: when they do, they lose, and this is true even when they present heaps of additional incriminating evidence to a jury. Seriously, this has got to be the stupidest thing His Intellectual Excellency has ever said—and that is saying something, my friends.

PZ’s plea to Dawkins closes:

And could you please stop supporting reactionary anti-feminists? Thanks.

No, he cannot. Because the World’s Greatest Rationalist is a reactionary anti-feminist, and thus there is no reasoning with him.

[for Tony.]

[cross-posted at Perry Street Palace.]