22 December 2010
... One, Simple Telephone Call:
Sexism and chicanery surrounding a farmland property’s mineral rights' matter is exactly why, when I was a junior in high school, Grandpa Willard was fired from Des Moines’ Brenton Bank. 1965. He, at age 45, and my mother had two children in college –– and two others still in high school, planning to attend college.
Willard had himself just left Iowa State University’s Department of Economics and interviewed at 14 different places. With his snow white hair, the man was told always that he was "too old." (Now allegedly a crime but, then — [and … now, … still … of course!] — very much an habitual workplace discrimination.) WHEN ... ... he was a land appraiser, new there in his first year, for this central Iowa bank.
One day he discovered a rock quarry underneath a 33 – year – old widow's property which she, having moved to California, still owned from her and her husband's estate back in Iowa — before the man had suddenly died. Because she desperately needed some money for her two children and from afar then, the single mother had requested the Bank to sell the property, she believing it nothing more than scrubland barely suitable for grazing cattle.
On behalf of this specific Brenton Bank having been asked by the woman to sell it off, Willard, then, was assigned to go out and appraise the property. He found a rock quarry underneath her scrub. When he went back to the bank and told them this, the bank’s officials said that he should call the owner and tell her a $ figure which she would be expecting to hear and that under no circumstance was Willard to give to her .no way / no how. the Truth about it all, let alone, the $ figure which it was actually worth.
The Bank officials planned to buy it all themselves, get its deed into the Bank’s owned records, then to later find an "appropriate" buyer for it such as a rock quarry business —— and, in the end, to give over to the woman in California only the amount from this sale which she would be expecting. To KEEP the rest for themselves.
Nights my mother and father were up late at the kitchen table, about two or three weeks' worth of nights. Then one of those days Daddy no longer had a job — and we were moving back to the farmhouse outside of Williamsburg; Daddy was going to go to work for Holden's, farm a little and walk the watchman's beat evenings and nights over at the Amana Refrigeration Plant 30 minutes’ drive away ... all in one 24 – hour period.
Grandpa Willard had not done what the bankers had ordered him to do.
Never having laid eyes upon the woman then nor since, Willard Maas telephoned her out in California, all right, from our home in Ankeny —— and told her of what he knew. And advised her to, straightaway, get for herself an attorney.
Willard Maas was fired. And, lock – stock – and – barrel, we all left Ankeny.
And I have never dealt, ever, with a Brenton Bank —— since. And will not.
Grandpa Willard was fired --- AND ... BLACKBALLED.
Before he made that telephone call to the woman, the Bank officials had further threatened him, "You tell her, and we will blackball you in all the banks in Iowa.
You will never work in another bank again."
Let alone, in a rural one, thereby ... his actually using the agricultural economics background and education which he had just acquired during his bachelor's and master's programs at Iowa State University, beginning these degrees then at the age of 40, thus becoming the University’s first "older" / “alternative” ISU student in the Spring Quarter of 1960. And because of this endeavor, our family had been written up and featured in the Spring 1961 issue of The Iowan magazine as that: the family of the "first" yada, yada, yada ...
And ... he never did. Willard Maas never again worked in another bank.
Without a doubt, Willard Maas at the second start of his college years (his first two years at Iowa State University having been derailed in 1939, by the poliomyelitis virus) —— as with others' lives similarly ... 'rerouted' —— could not have imagined for them all ... this end result.
No one will ever remember Grandpa Willard for the mighty fine Pendleton wool, bezillion – $ suits and the glove – snug Armani wingtips he never wore nor for the effusive parties he never threw nor for the lavish vacation cruises he never took, not even for the fact that likely due to his huge hearing loss and his brain in general, he did own the finest speaking voice and the most massive vocabulary of anyone I have ever, ever known.
But Righteous Ancestor Willard Maas .WILL. be remembered for ——
this one, simple telephone call.
18 December 2010
I loathe that this ("In a crowded world of images, you need the extreme to upset the accepted; you need a phenomenon to change the everyday.") is true re struggling against sexism, in particular. But it is true.
Frank DeFord, although he is senior Sports Illustrated writer, is the only man in sports media (of whom I know) who .regularly. writes about -- -- and then, too, actually in his very own voice loudly and .regularly. speaks out about -- -- struggling against sexism.
Frank DeFord has long, long ago made My Edition list -- -- the registry of names, past and present and of short - to - moderate length, of men (of whom I know) ... whom I do and would ... trust.]
Sweetness And Light
by Frank DeFord // 15 December 2010
On the whole, far less attention is paid to women's team sports than to women's individual sports. The most recognized female stars are invariably tennis players, swimmers, skiers –– whereas most popular male heroes are team players.
After all, these guys are on our teams. They're playing for us. Women's teams have never enjoyed that sense of the possessive.
And it's not so simple as the old glass-ceiling analogy. No, it's more emotional: teams represent our city, our college. They represent us –– the old team spirit. So, for many gentlemen, having a team of girls representing us is too much to bear.
And to be frank, female fans have themselves miserably failed their sisters; they've not yet come to support women's teams as men do their own athletes.
O, there was that feel-good moment in the summer of '99 when our American women won the soccer World Cup. But an attempt at a women's pro soccer league quickly collapsed, and a new one barely survives. Women's pro basketball is humored –– forced to play in the off-season, the summer, so the desperate arenas can at least open the concession stands.
In college, women's softball, volleyball, and ice hockey are tolerated mostly just as necessary evils –– fill up the Title IX quota. They sure don't fill up the stands. Watch your local 6 o'clock news. How often does the sports guy even make a reference to a women's team game?
Sure, Serena and Venus get mentioned during the Grand Slams; the be-sequined figure-skater dolls every four years at the Olympics; maybe golfer Michelle Wie if she's in contention this weekend — but women's teams?
That's why the University of Connecticut's basketball team and its 87 consecutive victories mean so much. The streak places a spotlight on all of women's basketball.
The Huskies force people –– men and women alike –– to at least think about women's teams. The idea. Little girls see UConn and they realize they don't have to pick up a tennis racket or a pair of figure skates. By being so good, UConn has not just transcended its sport, but it's doing a number on tradition. On sexism, too.
And, well, as for numbers, the Huskies can, within a week, pass the incredible record of 88 wins in a row set by the UCLA men back in the 1970s. Whether the Huskies break that record or not –– and they're not so very good this year that they couldn't come a cropper against Ohio State this Sunday –– they sure have made people notice them.
By its success, UConn is to women's basketball sort of what the Baltimore Colts-New York Giants overtime game in 1958 was to the NFL. After that, fans stayed tuned to pro football. They bought tickets.
In a crowded world of images, you need the extreme to upset the accepted; you need a phenomenon to change the everyday.
"Under no persuasion could I be made to believe that a human sacrifice several thousand years ago vicariously redeems me from sin. Nothing could persuade me that that was true, or moral, by the way. It's white noise to me." Christopher Hitchens, @ the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 13 October 2010, and published in Freethought Today, Freedom From Religion Foundation, December 2010 issue.
"I wouldn't say that religion is a form of mental illness, but I will say that religion allows perfectly sane and neurologically healthy people to believe things by the millions that only mentally ill people could believe on their own. The social support of doctrine allows for quite crazy beliefs in the 21st century to be held and operated upon by perfectly sane people." Sam Harris in discussing his The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values and published in Freethought Today, Freedom From Religion Foundation, December 2010 issue.
"Staff attorney Patrick Elliott's correspondence with the Janesville (Wisconsin) Public School system got Alcoholics Anonymous dropped from the curriculum of a public charter school." The Annual Freedom From Religion Foundation Report and Year in Review for 2010, http://www.ffrf.org/publications/freethought-today/articles/overheard-november-2010
"Another judge maintained that he believed women sought protection orders in order to get the family home. Another judge refused to believe one woman's story because her husband was a physician and a 'pillar of the community.' Another judge refused to believe a woman because she had no visible bruises by the time she appeared in his court, and he suggested she come back after her next beating!" -- -- US Congressional hearing - testimony re "justice" meted out on to ."American". women -- -- http://www.mith2.umd.edu/WomensStudies/GenderIssues/Violence+Women/testimony-morella
19 September 2010
Cards only (handy for printing)
The game can be played in multiple milieus.
Signaling by the winner will vary depending upon where the game is being held.
In educational venues, such as meetings in law offices, continuing education conferences at which the evaluator is pontificating, and in law school family law classes, it is appropriate to use the old-fashioned enthusiastic expression of joy that characterized the original "buzzword" bingo game, coupled (at the winner's option) by feet shuffling or even stomping or cheering.
In the courtroom or during depositions, however, a winner who feels inhibited by formal protocols may, instead, utter something along the lines of "I heard a Who!" or "Psssst -- No clothes!" (the latter being short for "The Emperor has no clothes!") or any creative variation thereof in the winner's discretion, with or without a choking fit, that will be understood by the other game players.
The foregoing notwithstanding, lawyers playing the game in court are deemed to win if at any point in the game they move to strike the evaluator's testimony. Bonus tournament points also are given IF (heh.heh.heh) ... the judge agrees!
presented here from liz of http://www.thelizlibrary.org and
20 June 2010
Out tomorrow morning and back to work Wednesday, 23 June 2010.
And on to the next adventure.
The ... Archipiélago de Galápagos ... =s closest, most recently, to an .actual. spiritual experience.
24 May 2010
Mawwiage: Thy Scientific Name, Thy Scorched – Earth Plague is Misogyny
“Women have very little idea of how much ... men hate them.”
--- The Female Eunuch, 1970, and Germaine Greer’s opening sentence,
p 245, of the first chapter, “Loathing and Disgust,” in its Part IV
18 May 2010
ABUSIVE fathers are more likely to obtain primary custody when domestic violence is present, alleged or not.
ii) How Family Courts Punish Abused Women
17 May 2010 by R. Dianne Bartlow http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2010/05/17/how-family-courts-punish-abused-women
“The dirtiest little secret in America” is that family courts, in deciding custody, often wreak devastation upon mothers and children.
So argue Mo Therese Hannah and Barry Goldstein, editors of the new anthology Domestic Violence, Abuse, and Child Custody, which brings to light what many familiar with the family court system have long known: Designed to dispense justice, the system has become instead “an instrument of oppression,” particularly in cases involving domestic violence.
To find a chilling example of what the editors mean, we need look no further than the recent murder of infant Wyatt Garcia, reported in the Daily Beast:
Wyatt Garcia was born in April 2009. Nine months later, he was shot and killed by his father, who then turned the gun on himself.
It might have turned out differently—if a family-court judge had listened to Wyatt’s mother.
Wyatt’s mother, Katie Tagle, had previously filed three motions in family court for an order of protection against the baby’s father, Stephen Garcia, alleging that he had physically assaulted her and harassed her and her family. Garcia was apparently jealous that she was dating again. In the last motion, Tagle charged that Garcia “had threatened to kill her and their baby.”
The San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Robert Lemkau chose to believe Garcia’s denials over the evidence supplied by Tagle – which included emails, text messages, and voice messages, according to the Daily Beast. Tagle says she was treated like a “criminal” and “complaining woman.”
One goal of Hannah and Goldstein’s book is to convince judges, attorneys, and others who work in the court system that all forms of abusive behavior, whether physical, verbal, financial or legal, cause harm to women and children. On the legal side, men who abuse their female intimate partners have successfully used strategies such as false accusations, harassment, manipulation, and intimidation to win custody while often driving their victims into poverty. According to contributing author and lawyer Joan Zorza:
Abusive men not only harass their victims, many harass their partners’ lawyers and manipulate those in and connected with the court system who are supposed to insure that children are placed with their better parent in a safe, nurturing environment.
This makes it all the stranger that about half of the time batterers win custody in family courts. They are actually more likely to win custody than men who do not abuse their partners, according to Zorza. Over the past nine months, 75 children have been murdered by abusive fathers who used custody battles to get even with the mothers, according to the Daily Beast.
Yet Katie Tagle’s dismissive treatment by family courts is all-too-familiar. While there has been a growing awareness over the last 30 years of the harm domestic violence causes, courts are more and more ignoring women’s allegations of domestic violence and holding them responsible for their own abuse. This is largely due to courts’ reliance upon mental health experts who have inadequate training in intimate violence or child sexual abuse and who are easily manipulated by batterers.
Gender bias plays a large role in this backlash, according to the editors:
Compared to men, women are disbelieved more often, held to much higher standards, and judged far more punitively for failings such as drinking, use of drugs, adultery or hostility to their partners. …Such behaviors are readily seen as grounds for giving the father custody.
Hannah and Goldstein hope to also expose two particularly harmful court practices that have evolved over the last several decades: Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), and “friendly parent” statutes. PAS provides a handy–and utterly without basis–refutation to incest and abuse claims by blaming mothers for any hostility that the children feel towards their fathers, maintaining that children love and respect their fathers unless a “poisonous” mother has convinced them otherwise. Even alleged incest and violence are not deemed reason enough for children to independently turn against their fathers.
Since PAS has been deemed by the American Psychological Association to have no scientific backing, at least 32 states have incorporated the milder sounding “friendly parent” concept into their custody laws. This gives custody to the parent who will encourage the child to have more contact and a better relationship with the other parent. Often mothers are hurt by the friendly parent concept, since they can be deemed “unfriendly” for saying anything against the father, including alleging abuse. Zorza says that, ironically enough:
The unfriendly behavior of noncustodial parents (usually the father), such as not paying child support, physically or verbally abusing the mother, or stalking her, is not considered as meeting the definition of unfriendly.
With such an approach, Zorza says, family violence is discounted, and abusers are empowered while battered women are disempowered. Ultimately, children are harmed.
Domestic Violence, Abuse, and Child Custody will be instructive for policymakers, those working in the family justice system, and members of the media–which the authors say has by-and-large failed to expose custody court scandals. But it is a must-read for any mother involved in a child custody battle, and especially for mothers trying get free from an abusive relationship.
iii) Female Sales Reps Win Case Against (birth control - maker!) Novartis In Largest Gender Discrimination Case to Go to Verdict // Jury Says Pharma Giant Discriminated Against Women and LARGEST - EVER AWARD in GENDER - BIAS case // http://www.law.com/jsp/law/LawArticleFriendly.jsp?id=1202458479079
NEW YORK, 17 May 17 / PRNewswire -- A New York jury handed Novartis Pharmaceuticals a bitter pill today, finding the giant drug maker guilty of gender discrimination in pay, promotional opportunities and pregnancy-related matters. The nation-wide class of 5,600 female sales representatives earned the victory in Judge Colleen McMahon's courtroom in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
In addition to delivering a verdict for the Plaintiffs, the jury awarded the 12 testifying witnesses some $3.36 million in compensatory damages for the specific instances of discrimination testified to by those witnesses. This award is just the beginning of the money that will be associated with this verdict.
In deliberations tomorrow, the jury will determine how much in punitive damages to award against the company in order to punish it for its discriminatory acts and to deter it from behaving so in the future.
Judge McMahon will determine a separate amount of class damages for the approximate 5,600 individuals in the class at a later date. Those class damages will include back-pay damages for lost earnings.
In separate proceedings, compensatory damages will be decided for each member of the class that opts-in. Those damages will include money for the pain and suffering caused by Novartis' discriminatory acts.
In addition, Judge McMahon now has the opportunity to order Novartis to make changes to its policies and procedures in order to prevent future discriminatory behavior.
The class includes female sales representatives who have worked for the drug giant between 2002 and 2007. Thirteen of them testified during the five week trial. The class action was originally filed in 2004. The case is Amy Velez et al., vs. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation 04 Civ. 09194.
The case was the largest gender discrimination matter ever to go to trial in the U.S.
The women were represented by David Sanford, Steven Wittels and Katherine Kimpel in the New York and Washington, D.C. offices of Sanford, Wittels & Heisler LLP, and Grant Morris, of Washington, D.C.
"Today's verdict sends a clear and powerful message to Novartis and every corporation in the United States: women are equal partners in our workforce. The days of second-class citizenship are over. Play by the rules or be subject to great exposure – financially and reputationally," said David Sanford. "This verdict is the first step in bringing about long overdue changes at Novartis and other companies that encourage or tolerate unfair treatment of women in their workplaces. We'll have to wait and see just how much the jury awards in punitive damages, but this is certainly a company that deserves to be punished for the way it has mistreated working women in this country."
"This jury learned that Novartis is not somewhere you would want your wife, your mother, your sister or your daughter to work," said Kate Kimpel. "Novartis expected its female employees to do more than just go out and market its drugs -- Novartis has a corporate culture that expects female representatives to be available and amenable to sexual advances from the doctors they call on. Time and time again, Novartis looked the other way when female representatives complained about inappropriate doctors. And then, to add insult to injury, Novartis paid those same women less, wouldn't promote them into management, and punished them if they got pregnant. Novartis refused to treat its female employees as the competent and hard-working professionals that they were and are."
On the first day of the trial in the defense's opening statement, Novartis' own attorney said of an abusive male district manager, who had shown female sales reps pornography and invited them to sit on his lap, "He wasn't that bad a manager. He was just terrible with women." *!*!*!
Novartis kept that manager on staff, actively managing women in the field, for years after it first learned of his inappropriate behavior.
Although several of Novartis' witnesses claimed it had a "zero tolerance policy" for discrimination, those same witnesses admitted that managers were not terminated or demoted even when complaints of discrimination were substantiated by HR.
Steven Wittels said of today's victory, "This jury has sent a message to Novartis ---- Get your house in order! Change your culture: the 'old boys network' will not be tolerated. Provide your HR department with enough resources to create policies which mandate employment equity across the board, and provides training and guidance as well as people to make sure the laws are respected and followed."
Novartis was created in 1996 through a merger of Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, the company had 2009 sales of $44.3 billion.
Sanford Wittels & Heisler is a law firm with offices in Washington, D.C., New York, and San Francisco that specializes in employment discrimination, wage and hour, consumer and complex corporate class action litigation and has represented thousands of individuals in some of the major class action cases in the United States. The firm also represents individual clients in employment, employment discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblower, public accommodations, commercial, medical malpractice, and personal injury matters. More information at www.SWHlegal.com
*!*!*! DEFINITION of "MANAGER" ---- IF a person canNOT work managing ... women, THEN the person canNOT work ... managing!
IF he canNOT manage himself, then he canNOT ... MANAGE!
11 May 2010
* Level:* Grades 3 to 5 * Grades 6 to 8 * Grades 9 to 12
* Subject:* Reading and Language Arts * Social Studies * ELL / ESL
"Students often learn the importance of respecting people of different religions, and of respecting religious beliefs that are different from their own. But what about people who do not hold religious beliefs at all? Too often the right not to believe is excluded from lessons about tolerance.
Yet atheists and others who do not believe in gods experience discrimination because of their NONbelief. In this lesson, students learn about episodes of anti - atheist discrimination; and they develop ways to educate others about respecting nonreligious, as well as religious, diversity."
10 May 2010
FLIP / REVERSE -- AGAIN! How many SUPREME COURT justices over the years have, themselves, not been fathers? What has been, since the Court's inception, the ratio of them that were fathers to them that were not (... ever ... ) fathers, "step" [- back and - away when there is actually, in the kiddos' lives, true ... ] fathers, ahalfadaddy or someone's ... sugar ... daddee?
Elena Kagan sends us on the way to a(nother) MOTHERLESS Supreme Court .by Michael Rosten
As Mother's Day comes to a close, we're hearing reports that tomorrow morning, President Obama will nominate an individual to be the ninth Supreme Court Justice to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.
If Mike Allen's reporting for Politico and NBC News's late breaking report holds up, that nominee will be Elena Kagan, the current Solicitor General of the United States.
There are all manner of issues to raise where Kagan is concerned -- from the relevant, such as her minimal record of scholarship and her lack of judicial experience, to the irrelevant such as rumors that she's a lesbian. Critics also have expressed concern that she's too conservative-leaning for an Obama appointee. But an issue about Kagan that hasn't been discussed is one that transcends her -- if she is confirmed as a Supreme Court Associate Justice this year, the nation's top bench will be heading toward a make-up with no mothers sitting on it for the first time since 1981.
It will be great to have three women sitting on the nation's highest court, but it probably won't last for long. An aging Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg remains sharp as a tack, but her health is not great, and like Justice Stevens, she might feel the time is right to exit the bench while there is a guarantee that President Obama can replace her with someone who won’t move the Court to the far right.
There are no guarantees that a third Obama justice will be a woman, and even the statistical probability that he won't appoint another woman given the variety of constituencies that he'll need to satisfy with his next pick. And that will mean that the two women sitting on the nation's high court (Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor being the other) will both be single and childless.
Certainly there is no requirement that every Justice sitting on the court be a parent. But on a powerful body full of fathers, is it too much to ask that we have one mother as a member of the Supreme Court?
I would posit that there are an enormous number of problems in our country that have or will come before the Supreme Court in which motherhood is a critically important detail. From abortion to discrimination in the workplace to future technologies concerning genetic engineering and beyond, women and the decisions they make (or don't get to make) about becoming mothers to sons and daughters will be burning issues in Supreme Court jurisprudence. Mothers in our society are often forced to make complicated decisions about their lives and those of their children that are not necessarily faced by childless women or even fathers for that matter. And since 1981, the Court has had the benefit of having a mother involved in deliberations on these issues, starting with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who was later joined by Ginsburg.
It’s true that Justice Sotomayor and a possible Justice Kagan could sympathize or even (gasp) empathize with mothers. But they’ve never personally been confronted with the choices that being a parent generally, and a mother in particular brings on in our society. Women in America are constantly facing decision points about whether to focus on work, raising a child, or both. Once they become mothers, women have to make decisions along the way about how best to raise their children. And the decisions they make for better or worse often wind up being of broader concern to society as a whole.
To me, if a woman doesn't have a child, she has only an abstract ability to pass judgment on issues where motherhood is concerned. I say this not out of disrespect for childless women, whose own struggles I would not dare to play down. Rather, I say it out of respect for all the mothers in the world, including my own. Women with the concrete knowledge of the decision-making that comes with motherhood simply know better -- A mother knows best -- as we so often say.
General Kagan and Justice Sotomayor are talented women, and their unique experiences, legal knowledge bases, and ability to judge laws are worthy of esteem and fair consideration on their own merits. But I must insist that a Supreme Court without a mother on the bench would be as incomplete as a tricycle with two wheels. Mothers make the world move forward, and they need to have a voice in the arrangement of our society, from the boardroom to the courtroom and beyond.
So while the Solicitor General's lack of children in no way disqualifies her, it would be a setback if in 2011 or in a year not too far off, we find ourselves with a bench of nine that includes no justices who are mothers. And that's something that President Obama must consider when he contemplates future Justices beyond Kagan.
09 May 2010
"O Blue! YOU exaggerate! O'course, it IS believable. These are "modernity" 's medical MEN you're talking about = those of the American Pediatric Association! ! !
O'course, THEY are gonna suggest this "wee - prick" - ing "solution" and BE themselves COMPLICIT (in America!) with the other men of the World who loathe femaleness so much so that ... BECAUSE THEY CAN ... then they WILL ( ... CONTINUE TO ... ) defile ( ... ONLY ... ) us DEhumans!"
"Un – fucking – believable!" I drop jaw!
“FLIP / REVERSE: NOOOO gawddamn pricking of any girl. NOT until ALL boys' wee pricks are under such SAME PATRIARCHAL "RELIGIOUS" / "MORAL" / family - "HONOR" attack and are ... likewise ... PRICKED,” I blitz!
nota bene, Folks! … how quite "carefully" America’s pediatricians used as spokesperson to the New York Times ... a ... (very male - identified) female ... MD. !heh.heh.heh!
This? This just begs for the wisdom of University of North Carolina’s Pyschiatrist Cort A Pedersen from his primates’ research: “The evolution of mother love was essential FOR the evolution of ... intelligence.”
That’s “ … FOR the evolution of INTELLIGENCE,” Folks!
NOTHING … LESS THAN THAT!
Group Backs Ritual ‘Nick’ as Female Circumcision Option
By PAM BELLUCK
06 May 2010
In a controversial change to a longstanding policy concerning the practice of female circumcision in some African and Asian cultures, the American Academy of Pediatrics is suggesting that American doctors be given permission to perform a ceremonial pinprick or “nick” on girls from these cultures if it would keep their families from sending them overseas for the full circumcision.
The academy’s committee on bioethics, in a policy statement last week, said some pediatricians had suggested that current federal law, which “makes criminal any nonmedical procedure performed on the genitals” of a girl in the United States, has had the unintended consequence of driving some families to take their daughters to other countries to undergo mutilation.
“It might be more effective if federal and state laws enabled pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual nick as a possible compromise to avoid greater harm,” the group said.
But some opponents of female genital mutilation, or F.G.M., denounced the statement.
“I am sure the academy had only good intentions, but what their recommendation has done is only create confusion about whether F.G.M. is acceptable in any form, and it is the wrong step forward on how best to protect young women and girls,” said Representative Joseph Crowley, Democrat of New York, who recently introduced a bill to toughen federal law by making it a crime to take a girl overseas to be circumcised. “F.G.M. serves no medical purpose, and it is rightfully banned in the U.S.”
Georganne Chapin, executive director of an advocacy group called Intact America, said she was “astonished that a group of intelligent people did not see the utter slippery slope that we put physicians on” with the new policy statement. “How much blood will parents be satisfied with?”
She added: “There are countries in the world that allow wife beating, slavery and child abuse, but we don’t allow people to practice those customs in this country. We don’t let people have slavery a little bit because they’re going to do it anyway, or beat their wives a little bit because they’re going to do it anyway.”
A member of the academy’s bioethics committee, Dr. Lainie Friedman Ross, associate director of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago, said the panel’s intent was to issue a “statement on safety in a culturally sensitive context.”
Dr. Friedman Ross said that the committee members “oppose all types of female genital cutting that impose risks or physical or psychological harm,” and consider the ritual nick “a last resort,” but that the nick is “supposed to be as benign as getting a girl’s ears pierced. It’s taking a pin and creating a drop of blood.”
She said the panel had heard anecdotes from worried doctors.
“If we just told parents, ‘No, this is wrong,’ our concern is they may take their daughters back to their home countries, where the procedure may be more extensive cutting and may even be done without anesthesia, with unsterilized knives or even glass,” she said. “A just-say-no policy may end up alienating these families, who are going to then find an alternative that will do more harm than good.”
Currently, more than 130 million women and girls worldwide have undergone female genital cutting, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. It is mostly performed on girls younger than 15 in countries including Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia. Consequences can include severe complications with pregnancy, childbirth and sexual dysfunction.
The academy’s statement acknowledged that opponents of the procedure, “including women from African countries, strongly oppose any compromise that would legitimize even the most minimal procedure.”
Dr. Friedman Ross said, “If you medicalize it and say it’s permissible, is there a possibility that some people will misunderstand it and go beyond a nick? Yes.”
But she said the risk that people denied the ceremonial procedure, usually on the clitoris, would opt for the more harmful one was much more dangerous.
And the statement said that, “in some countries where FGC is common, some progress toward eradication or amelioration has been made by substituting ritual ‘nicks’ for more severe forms.”
15 April 2010
Bully for him! Tiger Woods had earned my scorn and contempt years ago, well before the revelations of his marital problems. I knew he was an enema bag without knowing about his double life, cheating addiction or peccadilloes with numerous “dillos” with his pecca. More fundamentally, he earned my disgust through his lack of principles and absence of a stand on gender apartheid at the apex of corporate and athletic America: the Masters Golf Tournament and Augusta National Golf Club.
In case you’re not a golf enthusiast, have been living on a desert island or don’t follow sports in general, let me give you a thumbnail portrait of the Masters, one of the most important golf events on the planet. According to the Wikipedia, it is “one of the four major championships in professional golf. Scheduled for the first full week of April, it is the first of the majors to be played each year. Unlike the other major championships, the Masters is held each year at the same location, Augusta National Golf Club, a private golf club in the city of Augusta, Georgia, USA.”
Buried in the same Wikipedia article is the fact that Augusta National Golf Club is restricted to only men, and in my opinion is the equivalent of 1950s-era "whites-only" buses, water fountains and lunch counters. However, gender apartheid is often "winked" at, minimized and certainly accepted at the most powerful and monied levels of our society.
You may be saying, "O, but Ellen! Where's your sense of humor? Boys will be boys, and can't they just play a game without including the girls? For goodness' sake! Come on now! You're making a mountain out of a molehill!"
Let me disabuse of you the notion that golf is just a little game: we’re talking billions of dollars and a social network that reaches into the highest platforms of government, the military and capitalism.
But before I give you a little profile, let me lead you to one of the most inspiring gender analysts we have writing today: Martha Burk. I’m proud to claim Martha as a friend, although I must admit I have author envy. Burk wrote a book I wish I’d written called "Cult of Power: Sex Discrimination in Corporate America and What Can Be Done About It." In addition to writing "Cult of Power," Martha led a protest in 2003 that brought a lot of attention to gender apartheid in golf. But don’t take my word for it; get the book and read it cover to cover. It’ll explain just why women of all colors face such a major glass ceiling in the Fortune 500 corporations, nationally and internationally.
Which brings me back to Tiger Woods. Tiger was not only the youngest golfer to win the Masters tournament at Augusta, but the first man of color to do so. Augusta National Golf Club let the first African American into its hallowed ranks for the first time in 1990, only seven years before Woods played and won.
Tiger Woods has more authority and moral positioning to stand up for ending "men-only" policies at Augusta than almost anyone else I can think of ... but of course he wouldn’t, because his behavior indicates that, to him, women are playthings, not people to be taken seriously. If I’m being too harsh in that judgment, since I don’t really know the guy, at the very least his sexual shenanigans would make him reluctant to take a visible stance about ending discrimination against women.
Woods is purportedly receiving treatment for his sex addiction. Typically, treatment involves making amends for commissions and omissions that are based in the person’s drug of choice, which in this case seems to be heterosexual sex outside of marriage. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that Woods has taken objectification of women to new public lows.
Hey, Tiger! Do I have an amends idea for YOU!
Use your bully pulpit — or Tiger pulpit, in this case — to insist that the Augusta National integrate its club further with women. Why? Because it’s a disgusting bastion of male privilege and for you to take that kind of stand would be a triumph of morality.
Again, Burk’s "Cult of Power" is a must-read, but it doesn’t take a hole-in-one golfer to understand that corporate deal makers use "men-only" clubs to maintain power, cut deals and, yes, exclude women from the halls of power and decision-making. Having a penis apparently is still the most important club to have in one’s bag.
The term "bully pulpit" came from President Teddy Roosevelt’s using the term for the White House and its astounding power to impact opinion and change. Roosevelt used the term "bully" as an adjective, like "great" or "magnificent."
Wouldn’t it be "bully" if Tiger could turn his personal fiasco into a major stride for women? I’m not holding my breath.
09 April 2010
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
the Future: subsequent generations growing and … grown … up // all thanks to family law’s “civil” courts
Teen sues county for placing her in custody of sex offender grandfather, father (Cowlitz County, Washington)
The kids are growing up--and they're angry.
These are the kids whose childhoods were ruined by so-called "family court investigators" who knowingly placed them in the home of batterers and sexual abusers. Note that the accusations against formerly custodial mom were minor or negligible at best (a dirty house?) and that the girl's own father warned that she shouldn't be left with Gramps unsupervised since he had been CONVICTED of sodomizing a 10-year-old girl.
Yet Dad VERNIL JONES, who lived with his mother and sex offender father, got primary custody anyway. Though the girl was supposed to be "supervised" around the grandfather. Which obviously never happened. Not that anybody really expected it would happen, unless they were really, really stupid. So naturally, this poor child is molested every day for ten freaking year. Outrageous, as this was completely preventable.
Teen sues county for placing her in custody of sex offender grandfather
by EMILY FRIEDMAN
Posted on April 9, 2010 at 12:02 PM
(ABC News) - A Washington state teen is suing for millions of dollars in damages after she said a family court investigator "ruined her life" by knowingly sending her to live with her grandfather, a convicted sex offender who proceeded to abuse her nearly every day for a decade.
In court documents filed late last month, the unidentified teen claimed that she was just six years old when Cowlitz County Family Court Services investigator Mark Workingor took her from her mother and placed her in a home with her father and grandparents.
The teen said in the court documents that it happened in spite of her own father warning Workingor that his father, Vernil Jones, had been convicted of sodomizing a 10-year-old girl.
"She went through 10 years of incest of every kind almost daily by her grandfather," said Lincoln Beauregard, the attorney representing the teen.
"The bottom line is, regardless of where she lived, she should not have lived with a pedophile," said Beauregard.
Jones since has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the assaults against the teen.
Attempts to reach Workingor were unsuccessful, and messages left for Ron Marshall, the Cowlitz County's chief civil deputy prosecutor, were not immediately returned.
Marshall told The Daily News in Washington that while he had no comment on the pending litigation, Workingor no longer was working for the county.
Teen Spent 10 Years With Abusive Grandfather Despite Warnings
Outlined in the court documents is the sequence of events that led to the teen being placed under the same roof as Jones.
In March 1999, the teen's father petitioned the court for custody of the then-6-year-old. According to the court documents, the father told authorities that he was worried that the teen's mother "neglects the child's supervision, nutrition and hygiene" and had a "history of drug use."
The father also claimed that his daughter suffered from "chronic head lice infestations" because of the "filthy home" the mother kept, according to the court documents.
The investigator found that while the teen's mother had provided the majority of the teen's care since she was born, she was doing so inadequately and awarded primary custody to the father. Also included in the investigator's recommendation was that any contact between the child and the sex offender grandfather "be supervised by either the father or the paternal grandmother."
The teen's lawyer referred to that recommendation as "outrageous," and called the county's decision to place the child with Jones "egregious."
The teen's lawyer said that his client decided to bring her case to the public's attention in hopes of helping other children like her who have become victims because of the "egregious actions" of Cowlitz County.
"She hopes that bringing visibility to her case will be a form of justice to her," said Beauregard.
08 March 2010
"[NOW ... HERE COMES THE MOTHER – FUCKING IN ALL OF ITS ANDROCENTRIC, PATRIARCHAL, SPERM – / FATHERHOOD – EXALTING FUCKINGNESS: THE PRECEDENT!!!]
TOTALLY TERMINATING THE VISITATION BETWEEN A NONCUSTODIAL PARENT WHERE THERE IS SUBSTANTIAL BONDING BETWEEN THE NONCUSTODIAL PARENT AND THE CHILDREN IS ... WITHOUT PRECEDENT." --- page 477, Chapter 28, Mother - Fucking: the Saga of One Fucked Mother, http://bluemAAs.public.iastate.edu
19 February 2010
I – in his and in my lifetimes – witnessed Willard Albert William Maas cry three times. Of course, there may have been more times; I was present for three.
All of these three times occurred in the same decade ––– the 1960s.
The first time I was already 12 years old. From my recollection Friday, 19 February 1960, was of that particular 1959 – 1960 winter, its coldest day … … at least for most of its waking breadth ~20۫ Fahrenheit below zero.
Fifty years ago today, Daddy and I were alone together and standing on that screen – enclosed east porch’s sturdily gray – painted flooring, not inside the much smaller one of the farmhouse’s southside.
Our gazes went out toward the long, long lane (“16 rods” ’ worth, I had always used to hear said of its length) at where ––– right beside the profoundly gorgeous prominence of the farmstead’s actual entrance … The First Barn ––– an auctioneer around 10 a.m. of the easterly sunshine got underway. Started off this particular Midwestern Friday morning the man did ––– as so many such Fridays had on other farmsteads around the county … already that winter.
In no time at all, it seemed, the evidence was clear: the ‘success’ ––– measured however a deal as this is measured ––– of such a farm sale occurring that Friday beside The First Barn was … not to be.
And the tears in near torrents spilling forth from both medial commissures quietly tracked down both of Willard Maas’ staid cheeks … O – so silently … streaming right on down to that floor’s strong gray gloss.
My gaze, and my head, went down. To that floor’s puddle. I have remembered that morning ––– for, at least, … fifty years.
30 January 2010
“Six Iowa winters I simply left the heat off in the house, there was no money. So cold, 34 degrees Fahrenheit in the kitchen when I actually measured it once, that Rex, a female, Eastern Florida kingsnake inside her aquarium’s hollow log, did not move for months and months and months each year. So cold I often wondered, ‘til late April, if she hadn’t up and died in some previous frigid period, and I, ‘course, during these spells just hadn’t known she was actually frozen to death.
Besides the vast amount of physical energy expended, I spent so much mental energy in just remembering that the heat was off. Always, even when I was away from home. The pipes might freeze, the few plants friends had given me and number one son Zane’s beloved dimestore zebra finch, Lady, might not make it although she ruffled as much as she could on her perch.
More than once no water came out of the dilapidated apartment’s shower faucet and the slop water in the toilet would nearly overflow until I could pour enough boiling water over the tub tiles or down the stool sewer, and the water pressure from behind the thawing obstruction could finally force the rest of the ice loose and down. Nearly every January and February noontime, many years oftener, I raced home from the university to check on the plumbing and the pipes. This meant, of course, usurping all the lunch hour in this endeavor. Parking around campus was so far from the office that half the time off for the noontime break was used up just in getting to, and back in from, the heap that is Ol’ Black, my incredibly faithful 1986 Chevy Eurosport wagon. Which I own and drive still today. Luckily, that rundown joint on Havencourt Drive with the mailbox – sized chunks of orange and brown wallpaper splashed upside the kitchen walls that had been my, the Boys’ and their pets’ wonderful little home now that Herry and I were divorced, was an inside unit of four of them lovingly referred to by its absentee landlord as condominiums. Had it been an end condo, the pipes would, indeed, have burst more than once. By my bedside, I placed two alarm clocks. One for the middle of the nighttime was set to scream at me at 2:30 am so I could rise to run all the faucets and flush all the drains. The second was set by which, then, I rose a second time – that time for the day’s labor. Every night. Four months. Six winters.”
22 January 2010
ARIS: America Growing More Secular
|NONRELIGIOUS||8% (14.3 million)||14.3% (29.4 million)|
|Mormon/LDS||1.4% (2.5 million)||1.3% (2.8 million)|
|Jewish||1.8% (3.1 million)||1.3% (2.8 million)|
|Muslim/Islamic||0.3% (0.5 million)||0.5% (1.1 million)|
|Refused to reply||2.3%||5.4%|
Regarding religious affiliation, the authors note:
"Often lost admidst the mesmerizing tapestry of faith groups that comprise the American population is also a vast and growing population of those without faith. They adhere to no creed nor choose to affiliate with any religious community. These are the seculars, the unchurched, the people who profess no faith in any religion.
". . . the present survey has detected a wide and possibly growing swath of secularism among Americans. The magnitude and role of this large secular segment of the American population is frequently ignored by scholars and politicians alike."
ARIS survey shows 16% of Americans are "secular"
Regarding religious views, the authors of CUNY's survey note:
"In all, sixteen percent (16%) described their outlook as secular or somewhat secular while seventy-five percent (75%) described their outlook as religious or somewhat religious. . . . [A]t least ten percent of the population clearly and unambiguously considers itself 'secular' rather than 'religious.' Another six percent regard themselves as 'somewhat secular.' "
Overall, the authors note:
"The greatest increase in absolute as well as in percentage terms has been among those adults who do not subscribe to any religious identification."
* 1990 National Survey of Religious Identification (NSRI). 113,000+ samples
** 2001 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS). 50,000+ samples
Graduate Center, City University of New York
This information provided by:
Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.
PO Box 750
Madison WI 53701
16 January 2010
“ … the inevitable pile – on that will ensue.” = the backlashing blowback when trying to beat back the normalization of web woman – loathing
Not offering an explanation here, of course, just reading the thermometer. Maybe a feminist with a little time to spare should give herself a mandator quota of X comments over Y period of time on DoubleX or HuffPo or the like, to speak up against the worst of it?
I guess the difference between the Internet and meatspace is that I can avoid most of those individuals in meatspace and so I do. I'm more concerned with the impact those comments might have over time. It might even become socially acceptable to hate-on-women all the time in public spaces. I hope that is not the case but familiarity breeds contempt.
Echidne, It's also that people wouldnt' dare say half the stuff to you in meatspace that they'd say to you on the internets. The medium lends itself to less self-censoring than occurs in meatpsace.
I too was more optimistic about the way women were viewed before coming online. The internet has been the greatest force behind my feminism becoming more radicalized and hard-line, because it shown me just how much casual misogyny lurks in the hearts of men. Internet comments lift the veil of political correctness, and people are free to say what they really think, rather than what is polite.
I have also wondered why you don't tend to see many feminist counter-arguments on comment threads rife with misogny. I think women simply block it out and try to ignore it as much as possible. I know many times I have been tempted to respond, but decide not to, because I simply can't be bothered with the inevitable pile-on that will ensue.
Recently I thought about making a kind of "feminist defence-force" site. Where links could be posted to current discussions going on around the web which have a lot of misogny present. And then a bunch of feminists could all swoop in at once and provide those much needed counter-arguments, and preempt any pile-on of lone feminist voices. I am still contemplating how such a community might work.
Thanks for writing about this, echidne. I also worry that the misogyny found in online comments might eventually bleed into real life (actually, I think it already has, to some extent. At least among young men).
Do you think the Finally Feminism 101 blog qualifies as a "feminist defense-force" site? I wish the mods there did more in the way of say gathering rape stats from the DOJ or posting studies that prove women actually talk less than men and are actually more reluctant to marry.
Frankly I think that in this case (as with everything) there is more variation within each sex than between the sexes. I know both men and women that never seem to shut up, and both men and women that are really quiet most of the time, and both men and women that will talk a lot in one situation but not in another. The problem with "women talk too much" is that (and this has been studied) the men that say this are not comparing the amount women talk to the amount men talk, but the amount women talk with how much they want them to talk (never). I encountered a group in an online game I play that complained that an NPC was talking too much, like a "typical woman". Never mind that the NPC in question is the leader of one of the 5 main forces on our side of a war, never mind that she is leading in an elite squad of us to infiltrate the enemy's fortress. She's a woman first and foremost and that means she should just SHUT UP.
I reported the group for sexism and left. No point saying anything, I'd get discredited because I'm a woman.
Wonder if we can borrow Pharyngula's horde. Or take over 4chan.
Sadly, Pharyngula's horde is full of "what about the men"-ning and "I can't possibly ever think anything sexist because I'm nice to my wife"-type denialism of institutionalized sexism.
Damn. Pharyngula himself seemed decent, but I can never wade through all the comments there.
The internet is real life. And the hatred has bled onto the internet from society built in meatspace, not the other way around.
I follow the Sanity Watchers Plan that I discovered over at Shapely Prose, which entails avoiding most comment threads unless I know the site I'm on is a reasonably safe space.
"I know many times I have been tempted to respond, but decide not to, because I simply can't be bothered with the inevitable pile-on that will ensue."
I have often felt the same way, and I venture to say a great deal of commenters feel this as well — that it's just not worth arguing with someone who wants to fight you that badly.
Somehow a lot of men hate women for some reason. Perhaps at a deep level they hate their mother, who for a significant part of childhood was the most important person in their life. Of course we know this attitude is at least 2000 years old witness the epistles of St. Paul about women keeping silent, and the way homes should be run. (Of course Paul also said that being married was a concession to weakness, it was better to be single). But then Paul expected the world to come to an end in a few years anyway. Actually it would be interesting for an anthropologist to look at the comment streams and reach some conclusions about attitudes.
"Perhaps at a deep level they hate their mother" = This is how the responsibility for what men do is shifted to women.
A fine list of some of the most aggravating aspects of the typical expression of misogynists. It was one of the most startling things about comments on leftist blogs, how much raw and freely expressed sexism there is on the left. Also a shock, was how hesitant those who oppose misogyny are to call the jerks on it. What is the reason for this hesitation? Fear of being called a nag? Other names? Peer pressure? A lot of it boils down to fear of being discounted as a serious person whose ideas are worth listening to, of being characterized as being a kill joy - as if they expect us to feel joy at their jocular, hateful free expression. It shouldn’t go unnoticed that the attempted suppression of our freely expressed objection takes the form of, mostly men, nagging, hectoring, lording it over. Essentially doing what they are accusing women of doing as they say it.
It’s tempting to go into the phenomenon of leftists’ hatred and demeaning of women on the basis of its cause but the important thing is to try to suppress bigotry. I don’t really care why they do it or if they feel frustrated when it’s opposed. I don’t feel anymore for the pain of a sexist suppressed than I do for a racist repressed. I don’t care if their adulthood misbehavior is the result of malign socialization, you can use that excuse for anything. Any pain felt by them is self-generated and fully deserved.
The way you do this is to call them on it and to discourage it by inhibiting the perpetrators. And the only way to do that is for all of us to call it, consistently. If it means hijacking the discussion on blog threads for a while, that’s exactly what the sexists are doing now. The useless, counterproductive expression of misogyny is morally wrong and destructive to progress and suppressing it is both moral and useful for making things better. Women shouldn’t feel as if they’re inhibiting progress by making this an issue, because the expression of sexism distracts and inhibits progress already.
The backlash is usually a bit heavier than being called a nag. Plus, if you're a woman and a feminist it's pretty hard to have a conversation with somebody who apparently doesn't believe you personally are fully human without tearing your hair out.
I'm in favour of reporting it and complaining to the site owner/moderators if I think they'll listen, rather than having a dialogue with those that I know won't listen. Stupid local newspaper website not thinking that sexism/transexism/racism is "offensive content". At least my online game is concerned by offensive content (just you have to report it for them to notice it).
Anthony it's far more than fearing being thought a nag or a killjoy. Women get *death threats* for holding feminist opinions. Remember Biting Beaver? It's not a case of staying out of the kitchen, &c. There can be real issues of safety here.
Anonymous blog commenters, those who use pseudonyms don't have to worry about threats. Bloggers who are known by their real names do have to worry about it. I'm advocating that we tell the sexist creeps to shut up, anonymously if necessary.
"Remember Biting Beaver?"
The woman who flipped the fuck out because her son was looking at porn despite her efforts to indoctrinate him? I try not to.
Do you believe there even is such a bird as "reverse sexism?" Doesn't any kind of "ism" rely on one entity having power? The truth of the matter is that there is no power dichotomy in which women are able to practice sexism.
The answer to that would be long and complicated, but what I was trying to get at is the false practice of generalizing from the behavior of a few individuals to a whole group.
I agree with bridgett--women can certainly hold gender bias, but sexism depends on holding power as a group.
Depends how you define things. A lot of people think of sexism, racism, whatever-ism as simply having bad things to say about that sex, race, whatever, and that institutionalised sexism/racism/whatever-ism is different though obviously belonging under the same umbrella. I've found discussing things with people that have these mental definitions much easier if I use their terms.
Echidne, another way to put it could be prejudice or stereotyping, but it's a hard one to discuss. Frankly away from sites that specifically discuss feminism I use the term sexism like you've just used it, and the term institutionalised sexism for the more problematic specific directions of sexism against women, racism against whatever the minority/not in power group is etc.
Shrieking that women have a bias against men is a silencing technique. It's supposed to make you feel guilty about hurting the feelings of men, which are infinitely fragile and prone to much misunderstanding. For instance, when men continue to subjegate those they claim to love, and a woman brazenly points out this modest fact -- well, hearing that terribly unfair false accusation would naturally cause any man much emotional anguish. How dare you. You are phobic. And prejudiced. You man-hater, you.
But you see, I'm not brainwashed. If and only if men ever get around to not subjegating those they claim to love, then and only then would a negative opinion of men as a class ever fit the definition of "gender bias". In the meantime, being pissed as hell is the only reasonable option for sane folks.
Miska, I believe it's the other way around. Misogyny in real life has bled into on-line comments. It's so easy to spew the hate when you're cloaked in anonymity. It's a free for all.
At my age (I'm a second wave feminist), one would think I wouldn't be so naive. But since I've become really active on the internet, I've been shocked and horrified by some of the things I've read. It makes me angry, but it also makes me sad. Who's raising our boys?
As for responding, I pick and choose. Someone told a rape joke on a message board I go to every day. I called him out. His response was "I didn't think anyone would be offended by that. I'm sorry", the "I'm sorry" being sarcastic. That was bad enough. The responses from other posters were even worse. I was called out for being too sensitive, from men and women. It wasn't just "oh lighten up, Rose". There were posts along the lines of "Poor Rosey, she's so fragile she can't handle one little joke about rape. I'll laugh at anything that's funny. I don't care what the subject is. What's your problem?"
OK, this comment isn't about my fragile feelings. The above is just an example of the kind of stuff that happens in comment sections/discussion threads. I think every one of those people who called me out would have done the exact same thing in real life. The anonymity of the internet just makes it easier.
I agree that misogyny comes from real life, and then shows up online because of the freedom of anonymous commenting. But I also think that the normalization of openly expressed misogyny in comments is contributing to making misogyny more acceptable to express openly in real life too.
The internet became popular when I was in my teens. Over the course of about 5-7 years I noticed that the young men in my life (classmates, friends, co-workers etc) were becoming more inclined to say incredibly misogynistic things as a matter of course. It was really striking. Before, they would certainly say sexist/misogynist things, but is was much more subtle, and often they would say these things without really realizing they were sexist. Compared to what I was noticing several years later, which was much more deliberate and venomous - rape jokes, dead hooker jokes etc - and not just when out at a bar, but now even in the office for christsakes. I did a lot of thinking about what could be behind this, and one of the biggest changes was the popularization of the net over that time, which has always been saturated with visible misogyny. It was a bit of light-bulb moment when I realized that.
It's just anecdotal, of course (I would love to see a real study). Also, I don't think that internet commenting necessarily causes an increase in misogyny (probably these young men were always making rape jokes amongst themselves), but I do think it may play a role in normalizing unapologetic expressions of misogyny. Rather than keeping misogynistic small-talk as a private thing between each other, young men seem much more inclined to air it out in the open when in general company, and they also seem to expect that women will laugh along too (and sadly, many do).I don't think the internet is the only factor at play, but I can't shake the feeling that it has contributed.
Yeah, I absolutely get what you're saying. I've had some discussions with people about whether their behavior on the internet has resulted in a change of behavior in real life. A lot of people said that it did. That can a positive or a negative result. For me, it's helped me do a better job of standing up for myself in real life. But it can definitely give raging asshats the attitude that they can say whatever they want about women (or gay people, African-Americans, trans people, etc) and no one will challenge them. It turns into a huge, vicious (and I do mean vicious) cycle. It feeds on itself, for sure.
So where are all the counter-arguments?
Women have responded over and over and over to those types of comments .... and have finally realized it won't help, so they just ignore it. I'm actually glad to not have to wade through the same converation at every blog.
I'm the resident feminist at a few blogs. I used to be more willing to point out misogynist comments, but it just happens too often. The result is also fairly predictable, and the thread will turn into a discussion about the subtleties of sexism. I usually get plenty of support on these particular blogs, but it's still the same argument/discussion over and over and it gets old fast. So now I usually just ignore comments that use "pussy" as insult to a man, or that comment on the looks of a woman in a position where men's looks would be ignored, or even the comments that border on slut-shaming. I'll still call out people on blatant misogyny, but it just seems so futile to try to have a useful discussion about subtleties, even when I get support and agreement from other commenters.
You know, it's not just at feminist blogs or feminist topics. There is a reason I don't read much mainstream commentary online. EVERYTHING is leaking misogyny and I just get so sick of it. If it's not a deliberately woman-friendly space, then forget it.
I agree catgirl. I end up letting a lot of stuff go, because I'm just banging my head against a brick wall. Unfortunately, that's what they want. They're bullies, and they know if they keep shouting and talking over the people who disagree with them, those in disagreement will eventually give up. Yelling back doesn't help. Trying to have a reasonable discussion doesn't help. I mean, it just turns into a flame war.
I do call out the use of derogatory names for women (no need to repeat them here. I'm sure y'all know what they are). And I find it interesting that the place on which I get the most support is a fashion blog. Quoting Bert Cooper on Mad Men: "One never knows where loyalty in born."
The response is so formulaic and predictable that continuing to speak up (tho we must!) becomes boring/frustrating.
From Miss Andrea's http://feminazi.wordpress.com/2007/11/26/evolution-of-an-asshat-and-the-power-of-forgiveness%20%20/:
Man says *yawn* I haven’t done anything wrong, what are you talking about, I don’t see a problem, she deserved it, anyway it’s just a joke, grow a thicker skin, the intention wasn’t what you think, I’m not sexist so it’s okay for me to make sexist jokes, aw you know boys will be boys, we’re just having fun, I didn’t mean it that way, you’re reading too much into it, just relax, don’t you have a knitting forum to bitch about this at, you’re too sensitive, you’re ruining my fun, how can I possibly have a conversation about anything and NOT include a reference to woman-as-sextoy, you’re whining again, get over it already, it’s not that bad, it’s really not my problem, other things are worse, explain your problem with the joke again, no I didn’t understand the first time will you explain it again, it’s your job to teach me–not mine, what did you mean by that, men have troubles too, don’t you care about men, why do you hate men, you’re making too much of it, my wife thought the joke was funny, if you’re going to be rude about it then why should I listen to you, you need to say it “this way”, show me some respect whydon’tcha, *cough* for god’s sake I didn’t know it bothered you that much, why didn’t you tell me sooner, why didn’t you say anything when that other guy did it, stand up for yourself, don’t be rude to me when you stand up for yourself–my feelings are important too! Hey! this stuff bothers women, and it’s harmful! Who knew? *shug* I’m such a great guy for figuring this out on my own! Come back here and lets be friends! Don’t hold a grudge, make sure you forgive – like I always have! I’m not mad at you honey so you better not be mad at me or else I’ll backslide… You just better behave YOURSELF TOO.
Damn, wish I'd seen this before I started trying to call out one of my ex-friends. Though he skipped the "I'm just having fun" bits we got to the blue bit and I gave up.
Glad you like that. I was thinking when I made it that the words would look nice in a rainbow arch, with discretely humping unicorns and flaming castles etc faded into the background. Perfect for a poster and given away to schools for Women's History month. They'll take whatever free resources they can get and not notice it's subversive.
The problem with responding to the crap is that, at some point, you have to decide where you're going to put your energies: into fighting a losing battle with scumbags, or living your life.
One fantasy I've had is, rather than actually posting counter-arguments, simply keeping running count of sexist or misogynistic comments and responding to each such comment with the current count.
-- On another note:
I don't think the problem with comment threads is only that they are so anonymous. Another thing is the asymmetry between bloggers and commenters, which is a lot like celebrities and their fans. The celebrity/blogger is, so to speak, visible all the time. Commenters only "exist" to the extent they comment, and what's more, other commenters pay less attention to other people's comments than they do to the blog post -- or to the responses to their own comments. So, if you're a commenter, how do you get people to look at your comment? You could spend a lot of time and say something new and insightful (and maybe get ignored, anyway.) Or you could just post something that will get people going, either positively or negatively. I think this encourages commenters to say more extreme things than they would in a more one-on-one setting.
I say this because I'm involved in a mostly-male on-line group, but it's not a blog. Any member can post or respond, and threads go pretty much anywhere people take them. It is also small enough that most of the posters there know each other. It's interesting to see how people have grown and changed. (I found out recently that some of the moderators have been helping some of the more difficult posters with their social skills.) There's no shortage of misogynistic and sexist attitudes, but there are also some fairly enlightened folks, too, and over time, people are expressing less and less misogyny. I think the fact that posters know that other people know who they are and know their history makes a big difference.
Yay progress. I like the count idea :D
Thank you for writing this. It does make a difference.
It occurs to me from time to time that it doesn’t help, at all, that the majority of anti-feminist motivation derives from the also-interesting belief that women are moral paragons. And not so much because they’re naturally more moral, tidy, and virtuous but because (the belief goes) men are animals who would lick their butts the way dogs do if they could only reach them, and who would drink out of toilets too but for the memory of their moms steering them towards rightness. With the result that every flaw in any man’s character, including their own, “just goes to show” while any hint of clay in a woman’s feet becomes ZOMG!!!THEMBETRAYINGBICHESAREDRIVINGSOCIETYTORUIN!!!!!
It’s as if they see their “policing” of women as proof of their own desperate need to be lifted out of the sewer. Which they don’t recognize they actually occupy by choice.
This exactly. Every time I hear "but men just can't help themselves" or "I'm a man, what do you expect" or "boys will be boys" type comments I want to scream. I know many men that do not do these "typical" "manly" things, and it is because of them that I have a good opinion of men and know what men really are capable of.
Figleaf, that is partly true. The corollary is the belief that only "good women" deserve not to be treated badly, so discussions very often veer into all the ways women are not good and that somehow means that gender equality is not necessary. The supposed moral superiority of women was a Victorian weapon of some feminists because that was all that seemed available then, I guess. It was completely centered on middle-class and upper-class women at home, the ones Virginia Woolf (I think) called "the angels in the house." If a woman is not an angel that somehow neutralizes everything.
The corollary is the belief that only "good women" deserve not to be treated badly
Exactly, and who gets to decide which women are "good"? Men--on a case-by-case, moment-to-moment basis. Your "good" status can be revoked by any man at any time, apparently.
It isn't really any different from meat space. It isn't possible to be female in public without being the target of men expressing hatred and contempt.
Reading a thread is about the same as walking a city street. You say hello or nod to the peeps you know and ignore the bullies on the corner who consider harrassment a sport.
When it gets too intense or the wrong person is abused the cops make the bullies move on to another corner or the blog mods tell the bullies to knock it off.
Do you recall the change in the comment threads at Digby's when she admitted to the crime of being a woman in public?
Crooks and Liars is an example of what happens over time when a blog owner doesn't have a problem with expressions of hatred and contempt in the threads.
The threads there used to be full of interesting discussions with the occasional misogynist troll or hateful rant. By the time I stopped reading and commenting in the spring of 2008 it had become just another "liberal" boys hate fest. I don't know what it is now.
I think the blog threads are a reflection of society that magnifies and reflects and influences society.
"But one might think that articles with feminist content should be equally attractive to feminists. So where are all the counter-arguments?"
Just like in meat space, when you can't be heard over the din of hecklers you roll your eyes and go where peeps are discussing the issue instead of "supping from the delicoius chum bucket of outrage".
Places remarkably exactly like this place!
I think that misogynistic comments come from a different part of the brain than counterarguments against them would come from. I read that lizard brain "hypostatizes" meaning, which I understand to mean, lizard brain thinks in stereotypes. Elsewhere I read that it also processes rage. It is not that one does not wish to 'argue' with this type of 'reasoning', therefore, but that one simply cannot. Not by using the reasoning facilities of the higher mind.
When a feminist like me tries to reason with this lower level thinking about gender and identity, it doesn't get through. The message that is heard is rather: "Women are not bad; men are bad!" (ie. all that gets through to people who 'think' in this way is a simple reversal -- and that is despite the fact that I might have presented a very nuance argument that was nothing of the sort!)
So women know how pointless/tiring it is to try to argue in this way, and they let various comments stand (not realising, perhaps, that uneducated folks whose thinking may not be so regressive, are taking it all in, and viewing the misogynistic statements seriously.)
"So women know how pointless/tiring it is to try to argue in this way"
As has anyone who ever tried arguing with a creationist, all of which operate on pretty much the same principles...
Your comment is chilling, and indicates the incredible difficulty behind combating any form prejudice with some sort of rational process. I've never quite heard it expressed in this way. Thank you for pointing this out. If this is the science, what should be the way forward for social action.
That's a good point, Jennifer. So to address any of the misogynists one must first make them move to a different part of the brain.
Yes, and what was it that Jennifer helped me to figure out on her blog? (Computer ate my reply over there.) It all stems from a basic insecurity, and yet, trying to help them feel more secure doesn't really work, because it turns out that their insecurity is a black-hole that no amount of bolstering their self esteem will ever fill it. So it's just a waste of time and energy.
Isn't she frickin' brilliant? Smile I think it may take a lizard to fight a lizard, though... Scramble their cognitive dissonance so hard their brain spins out of it's flight pattern.
I don't usually read comments – nevermind leave them – but you've inspired me to do a logic-and-run on a 'women cause street harrasment by encouraging it somehow' logic fail on another blog. I will try to make more of an effort in the future, although I find it quite scary!
I admit that I like to argue with stupid misogynist trolls on comment threads. But usually they outlast me. I eventually move on while they keep repeating themselves. It is worth it though. I often find that someone on the thread (usually a woman who hasn't really thought deeply about this stuff before) will admit to having a lightbulb moment -- and there may be more people who have the lightbulb moment without necessarily saying so on the thread. So it is worthwhile to respond to this stuff. Even if the misogynist doesn't get it, other readers might.
I've had some pleasant surprises from men on some sites where I've actually written a feminist rant and gotten agreement from them. Depends on the site. Anything more mainstream will bring a ton of misogyny. Women have commented that they didn't realize how badly men think of them til they went on the web. I know of some radical feminist sites that have been shut down by spam wars and vicious threats.
So its not very safe for women to really express themselves and too many men do hate women thats why they rape them, batter them and sell them as sex slaves. Thats a given. The problem is women keep to their training to be ever so nice as if that has ever gotten us anywhere. I've been told by the member of the Women's Rape Crisis Center which was Women Against Rape when a group I was part of organized it..."that we don't go screaming in the streets anymore" Well that's very nice but rape is epidiemic. Dr. Tiller's killer is being allowed to use the necessity defense, the Democrats don't care about women's issues and the Repubs would have us perpetually barefoot and pregnant as long as they didn't have to pay for it. So I think the time has come again for women to make a much bigger fuss. Believe me I was there it is only an energized fierce women's movement that has gotten us anything. Stop being good girls, nice girls as you were trained to do by patriarchy for their benefit.
I was thinking about this thread earlier and thought that the idea of a standard comment would be great, one which we could keep on our desktops and just insert into any thread which has a lot of misogyny. It could be formulated to be very polite, to have some global statistics on the plight of women and some U.S. statistics, and to point out why misogyny is a horrible and cowardly thing, especially when done while hiding behind anonymity. For best results, the standard comment (or comments, there could be a few by area) should be shared so that they'd become familiar over time.
The Standard Comment is a great idea! Headed or sig-ed by some label which would become recognized. If we all urged others to join in using it, it would hit like a "splat" and yet take on an impersonal quality, like "Error Message".
If we could just get an Error Message to actually pop up -- on the offender's computer AND on the thread for all to see ...
''ERROR. Terminal Misogyny. User Fails.''
I'm going to think about what such a standard comment should say and urge you to do the same. There might be one for MRA stuff, one for sexual harassment type of stuff and one for economic lies, say.