Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The War on Pop-Tart Guns

Oh gag me with a spoon.

Feminist critic Christina Hoff Sommers has done what she does best, badly, this time writing in Time about her fave topic, the so-called War On Boys in schools.

"As school begins in the coming weeks, parents of boys should ask
themselves a question: Is my son really welcome? A flurry of incidents
last spring suggests that the answer is no. In May, Christopher Marshall, age 7, was suspended from his Virginia school for picking up a pencil and using it to “shoot” a “bad guy” — his friend, who was also suspended. A few months earlier, Josh Welch,
also 7, was sent home from his Maryland school for nibbling off the
corners of a strawberry Pop-Tart to shape it into a gun. At about the
same time, Colorado’s Alex Evans, age 7, was suspended for throwing an imaginary hand grenade at “bad guys” in order to “save the world.”

In all these cases, school officials found the children to be in
violation of the school’s zero-tolerance policies for firearms, which is
clearly a ludicrous application of the rule. But common sense isn’t the
only thing at stake here. In the name of zero tolerance, our schools are becoming hostile environments for young boys."

Is it ironic that this so-called war on boys prevents boys from playing war in schools? Who knows!  Who cares! Those male persecution complexes aren't going to feed into themselves!

What I do know for sure is that first and foremost girls and women were formally and/or legally banned from many forms and levels of education for many years in US history.  And, feminists who reference that history and context today in terms of their lingering effects are largely thought of as thin-skinned dummies who get our panties in a bunch over nothing.

Might gender gaps in wages and certain fields maybe be explained by this history and the concomitant social conditioning around gender? Nah. We're instead to believe that sure all that stuff about women's oppression happened a long time ago, but then a buncha other stuff happened mumble mumble equal opportunity not equal outcomes everything's fair now except boys have it worse now that they're expected to compete against girls and women as equals! *insert big "Men are #1" foam finger and start waiving it around*

But my my my, just look at the outrage! the hyperbole! the exaggeration! in the rhetoric when the so-called feminized school system does even the tiniest little thing to take away a boy's god-given, rightful place in the world to shape his pop-tarts into guns during lunchtime at his school.

Suddenly, the whole entire educational system is rigged against him! Suddenly, getting in trouble over playing at violence explains EVERYTHING about EVERY gender gap in which women might be outperforming men.

Which brings me to point two. The whole "schools is rigged against boys because they can't pretend violence anymore" argument only works if one believes that violence is inherent to boys and therefore cannot and should not ever be tempered.

That is, it's just another fuckin' way to say that it's a boy's world and everyone else just lives in it, because boys are violent and rough 'n tumble and whuddaryagunna do, ladies? Tut tut, you better keep yourselves safe and not go and get yourselves shot or raped!

And even though society wrings its non-existent hands every time a boy commits another school shooting, if we dare suggest that little boys not minimize gun violence by treating it as a form of play, or maybe if we even want to explore why little Tommy feels so compelled to nibble his pop-tart into a gun in the first place, it's a war I tell ya, a war! A war not against violence, but against boys!


Seriously, anti-feminists. Calm the fuck down.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Public Discourse Promotes Anti-Equality "Primer"

Back in June, I took note of a creepy "primer" purporting to give marriage equality opponents tips on how to better frame the marriage debate.

As I noted back then, key takeaways from this propaganda manual, er, "primer" include "elevat[ing] as spokesmen" gay people who oppose same-sex marriage, "telling bigger stories" that reverse who the victims and victimizers are, and subverting the "marriage equality" meme with "stickier" anti-equality memes.

So, basically more of the same "winning" strategies the anti-gay movement has been using for years all jotted down in one handy-dandy document which I hope will be in the appendix of a future history book as actual proof of there being an actual anti-equality agenda.  Because really, I'm starting to wonder if many anti-equality folks are so insular and insulated from opposing views that they maybe don't get that it's the reliance on these very strategies, strategies that gaslight LGBT people's lived experiences and aim to divide and drive wedges between marginalized populations, that many people find hateful.

Brian Brown (who doesn't seem to be the same guy from the National Organization for Marriage), has written a piece at the Public Discourse, promoting this new "primer" and discussing its key concepts. Funnily enough, his article's title is a sarcastic admission of sorts, "Now That We're All Haters..."

The ellipses are in the original title, for dramatic effect I suppose?, but *spoiler alert* his punchline isn't a conciliatory and apologetic "Sorry for the harm we've caused gay people, let's see how can come to a better understanding and try to temper this culture war a little."


Now that opponents of marriage equality think that everyone else thinks they're haters (but do we, really?)... the new goal seems to be to try to not look like haters whilst still opposing equality for same-sex couples while parroting superficial platitudes and sound-bites that don't embiggen the discourse.  

Because yes yes, we know. Whether or not people think marriage defenders are hateful bigots is the single most pressing concern in this entire culture war, a concern that must be centered in all conversations, especially mixed-company ones. Because god forbid we just not magically accept as benign the notion that "true marriage is more diverse" unlike "mono-gendered" marriage, and pretend that a catchphrase like that is not rooted in some serious sexist, supremacist, and shallow bullshit thinking about gender and sexuality.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Some Good News on a Friday

[Content note: gun violence]

This woman is a hero.

On Tuesday, a man entered a grade school in Atlanta armed with an assault rifle, exchanged shots with police, and ultimately surrendered. The school's bookkeeper, Antoinette Tuff, was held hostage by the gunman and, in an interview with Diane Sawyer, reports convincing him to put his weapons down and surrender:

"'He told me he was sorry for what he was doing. He was willing to die,' Tuff told ABC. 

She told him her life story, about how her marriage fell apart after 33 years and the 'roller coaster' of opening her own business. 

'I told him, 'OK, we all have situations in our lives,' she said. 'It was going to be OK. If I could recover, he could, too.' 

Then Tuff said she asked the suspect to put his weapons down, empty his pockets and backpack on the floor. 

'I told the police he was giving himself up. I just talked him through it,' she said.

In an interview with WSB, an ABC affiliate, Tuff said she tried to keep Hill talking to prevent him from walking into the hallway or through the school building. 

'He had a look on him that he was willing to kill — matter of fact he said it. He said that he didn't have any reason to live and that he knew he was going to die today,' Tuff said, adding that Hill told her he was sure he'd be killed because he'd shot at police officers. 'I knew that if he got out that door he was gonna kill everybody,' she said."


After a gunman fatally shot 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, anti-feminist Charlotte Allen used her voice at the National Review Online to bemoan our purportedly "feminized" (i.e.- bad, weak, powerless) school system that purportedly allowed the incident to happen.

Specifically, she wondered how things might have turned out differently had there been a male janitor around to "heave his bucket" at the killer, or maybe even some "huskier twelve-year-old boys" to somehow converge on the killer and disarm him of his semi-automatic weapons. Of the women who threw themselves in front of bullets to protect children, not a word regarding their heroism.

Well, this woman - Antoinette Tuff, that is - did a heroic thing by using her humanity to connect with the humanity of a potential killer to de-escalate a terrifying situation. That is not a thing that is easy to do, especially when confronted with, potentially, one's own imminent death.  A common reaction, as Charlotte Allen demonstrates, is instead to dehumanize any real or perceived threat and then seek to eliminate it by, say, throwing buckets or, erm, 12-year-old boys at it.

Ms. Tuff is a hero despite the narratives that tell us that heroes must be physically violent, physically overpowering, and most importantly of all male (and usually white, as well).

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wage Gap Begins Early

When I was a kid, I was good friends with some neighbors, who I'll call the Hendersons.  The Hendersons had 3 kids, consisting of two girls and a boy, all roughly close to my own age back then.

We spent many summers playing baseball or kickball on our relatively-rural street, hiding from our mean neighbor when our ball accidentally hit his house, and riding our bikes to various swimming holes around town. Just kidding about the swimming holes part, this wasn't 1950. We actually swam in a pool.

But I digress.

One afternoon, I went over to the Henderson's, and the boy, I'll call him Timmy, answered the door. I asked if they wanted to play basketball. Timmy said that he would be right out but that his sisters were busy cleaning his room that day. Confused, I asked him why he wasn't cleaning his own room and, in my direct 12-year-old way, suggested that he might be lazy.

Reflecting back, Timmy himself seemed confused as to why I would be confused about why his parents were making Timmy's female siblings clean his room for him while he got to sit around and watch Full House. I remember him huffily retorting, "I'm not lazy! I play sports and stuff!"

I've thought about that interaction from time to time, especially when noting larger patterns of the phenomenon whereby work is often perceived as Very Valued And Important if it is done by a man or boy, but it's dismissed and undervalued if it's done by a woman or girl.

Over at Salon, Soraya Chemaly has noted some studies showing that even young girls do more housework than young boys, with boys getting more hours of play and more money for chores when they do them. One of the studies linked to (PDF) notes, "...girls spend more time doing housework than they do playing, while boys spend 30 percent less time doing household chores than girls and more than twice as much playing."

I've been thinking about and debating gender stuff for long enough that I could do a re-cap of the comments without even actually reading the comments. Let me guess. Maybe some folks might chalk these disparities up to inherent and essential differences in "interest" between boys and girls, as though it's a defining feature of girls to just want to do chores rather than play, and that it's a defining feature of boys to want to play rather than do chores.

And, wait wait, maybe somebody's saying that efforts to maybe make boys do more housework and allow girls to play sports more frequently would be "social engineering" that goes against each gender's very nature and blah blah blah. I bet some people in the comments were even noting that the work that little boys do just is more valuable and more dangerous and harder and whatnot than the simple, menial tasks that little girls do! And whatever, little girls just want to take time off to take care of their dolls, so. Boom! It's all settled! The wage gap in kids' allowances is just a logical, foregone, unalterable biological conclusion.

My overarching point here is that I think these findings are mostly sad.

People seem really quick to look to "biology" and "inherent gender differences" to explain away disparities to then justify segregating work by gender, and to justify women and girls' work being devalued and taken for granted.

It can be illuminating, though, to juxtapose the Salon piece with yesterday's post, which quoted a Christian pastor boasting about how he was indoctrinating his daughters to be entirely dependent on men. I mean, dude has to try, like work really hard, to teach his girl children how to be suitably dependent, servile, submissive, and (purportedly) feminine. He has to teach them that, because deep down he knows they don't come out of the womb knowing how to be authentic girls, although if pressed he'd likely blame any gender non-conformity on feminist propaganda.

We are to believe that traditional gender indoctrination doesn't happen and that these so-called feminine traits are inherent to girls and women, indeed vital and essential to their very beings as girls, and yet at the same unattainable to them without the proper education. And, if we do not accept this belief as 100% True Common Sense, gender traditionalists mock us as unreasonable, irrational, politically correct feminazis who don't understand the Truths about gender.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Quote of the Day

[Content note: misogyny]

Via Echidne, linking to the words of Christian pastor Steven Anderson:

"'I’m gonna tell you this: It’s not gonna be humanly possible for anyone to commit fornication with my daughters. [Laughter] And you know what? You’re laughing but I’m not kidding… You say, what about when they go get a job? Well, they’re not going to get a job. Why would my daughters go get a job? What do they need a job for? You know what, I’m gonna pay for them, I’m gonna pay their bills. And you know what? When I’m done paying for them, their husband’s gonna pay for them.'"

It's interesting because, well, conservative Christians usually tend to express an opposition toward the exchange of sex and childbearing for resources and money.

It seems as though at least some of them make an important distinction between coercing sex work upon their daughters for religious reasons (acceptable) and having their daughters choose sex work for themselves without explicit parental coercion for non-religious reasons (not acceptable).

Makes..... sense?

In Right-Wing Women, Andrea Dworkin noted that many right-wing women are drawn to conservatism because "traditional marriage" meant selling sex to one man, rather than to the hundreds purportedly demanded by the liberal, male-centric sexual revolution, and that they therefore saw traditionalism as "the better deal."

Although, she noted, both liberalism and conservatism treated women like they existed in states of perpetual consent to sex, and neither offered women full autonomy.

Dworkin was writing in 1983, but even today I tend not to get too caught up in liberal versus conservative identity politics in the US, as I am largely repulsed by the male-centric and anti-feminist tendencies within both political movements.

Too often, men in both movements decry misogyny only insofar as they can score political points against "guys on the other side," without actually taking meaningful measures to address it because addressing it is a good in its own right.  Too often, some of the few things men in both movements agree upon is that feminism is sucky, man-hating, and completely unnecessary these days.

Suffice it to say that, yes, I do get anxious when liberals and conservatives start patting themselves on the back for having purportedly "new conversations" together, among themselves, about marriage - especially when these conversations are largely devoid of feminist input.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Another One for the History Books

I saw this quote highlighted over at G-A-Y.

It was uttered by Matt Barber, Associate Dean at Liberty University School of Law and former Policy Director of the Concerned Women for America (ha, of course, get back in the kitchen, wimmenz!):

"Those of us who wish to remain obedient to God will not – indeed, cannot – accommodate you and play along with your sin-centric 'gay marriage' delusion.

Ain’t gonna happen.


Look, you have every right to dress up in two wedding gowns or two tuxedos, get pretend 'married' and play house to your hearts’ content. You do not have the right, however, to force others to abandon their sincerely held religious beliefs, thousands of years of history and the immutable reality of human biology to engage your little fantasy. No amount of hand-wringing, gnashing of teeth, suing Christians or filing charges against those of us who live in marriage reality will make us recognize your silly so-called 'marriage equality.'”

This quote can go in the chapter I hope is called, "Yep, pretty sure anti-gay bigotry really was a real thing that really motivated laws against same-sex marriage!"

Or maybe that's too wordy.

In any event, again, as a non-Christian, I find it somewhat entertaining in a "wow, dude's massively projecting" kind of way, to be accused of engaging in make-believe by an avowed Christian who Just Knows Things from his definitely-not-made-up religion.

Not sorry but when "god" starts to look just like Matt Barber, that's probably not a great PR campaign for Christianity.

Friday, August 16, 2013

I Have to Admit

I did laugh a little when I initially read this story of bigotry gone awry, but only because the family was ultimately safe in the end. It would have actually been tragic had the family been lost at sea indefinitely.

To summarize, a family fled the US on a sailboat because they "don't believe in" "abortion, homosexuality, or the state-controlled church." The strategy for their get-away mostly seems to have involved hopping on a small boat in San Diego, letting Jesus take the wheel, and hoping they'd end up in Kiribati, a remote group of islands in the Pacific between Hawaii and Australia.

Turns out, they ran into some storms and ended up lost for weeks "in the middle of nowhere," until they were  ultimately rescued by a fishing boat and eventually returned to the US courtesy of the government from which they had been hoping to escape.

Anyway, my points here are that, first of all, I had to look up on Snopes whether this story was a real thing that happened in the real world (it seems legit!). Secondly, I'm not sure it's even coherent to "not believe in" things that actually exist in the world, such as abortion and homosexuality. And finally, I don't blame the Homosexual Agenda, feminists, or the US government one bit for this family's predicament or desire to flee.

Rather, I blame all those oogedy-boogedy voices that repeatedly tell those who belong to the largest, most powerful, and most prominent religion in the US that they are oppressed, persecuted, and under attack by the Feminazi Homosexualist Agenda that apparently rules the entire world, except for Kiribati, and are therefore in imminent danger of becoming martyrs. (Although, that danger seems less a  realistic danger, and more a hopeful fantasy for some Christians, as it would allow them to fulfill a Christian Persecution narrative?)

The family, according to the above-cited article, is currently coming up with a "new plan."