Andrew Sullivan On Illiberal Feminism And The Language Of "Micro-Agressions"
In a blog item about two men being stopped by feminists from having a public discussion about abortion, Sullivan writes:
Once free speech is made contingent on no one's feelings being hurt, we no longer have free speech. Once that applies even within a university - the one space in our culture where free speech should be absolute - we have left liberalism behind on the march toward progressivism. That's why the logic of "hate crimes" is so pernicious; that's why the language of "micro-aggressions" leads to a public sphere in which some individuals, simply because of their gender or sexual orientation, are deemed unworthy of being allowed to debate. And those of us who speak out against this are damned in the same way: our integrity as human beings impugned, our characters wantonly besmirched, our views dismissed, and our arguments made to look as if they are mere prejudices.
Any movement that seeks to win this way is not a movement I want to be a part of. And feminism is too vital a cause and too integral part of our discourse to be hijacked in this fashion.
Here's proud Niamh McIntyre, who brags that she helped shut it down "because my uterus isn't up for discussion."
Horrifying. In a free society, you have -- or should not have -- a fucking word of say as to whether anything is discussed.
Again, the answer to speech you deplore is more speech, not shutting down speech.
And here's something Greg Lukianoff notes in his beautifully written little book, Freedom From Speech -- how people are conflating physical and emotional security. Sullivan explains:
The college canceled the debate in part due to concerns about "physical security" of the students - the danger that the college would be mobbed by protestors, making a debate impossible - and their "mental security" as well. What on earth does "mental security" mean? This apparently:Mental security here refers to students' emotional well-being, avoiding unnecessary distress, particularly for any residents who may have had an abortion. With a 300 person protest expected, the event could not have been self-contained and it would have been impossible for those in the closest staircases (at a minimum) to avoid being made acutely aware of the event.
If you are incapable of dealing with the events of your life, you need to get therapy. The answer is not prohibiting others from hearing about an issue of interest to them.
Fat little pillow links.
Who's On Last?
This note was inspired by an exchange with a forensic psychologist, who was kind enough to email me with his unsolicited advice on how I should change my writing style.
I was tempted to respond to his initial email (but didn't): "Wow, I'll do that right away. After all these years developing my style and humor, I was only waiting for you to write to tell me to change it."
About the "I don't need the last word!" thing, I'm also reminded of huffy people who've commented here to say they're outta here and won't be back. (People who say that are always back -- one last time, and maybe a couple more last times after that.)
Your Car Alarm Is Not Protecting Your Car
Friday night, around dinner time, one was going off in my neighborhood for quite some time.
I like to joke that I am merely hostile, not violent. (This is true -- I'm a verbal sniper. These fists were made for typing.)
However, after some minutes of hearing the alarm, if I had a golf club and violent tendencies (plus a little cash laying around for bail), I would have gone out and smashed the person's windshield -- and maybe all their windows, too.
On a positive note, this would have made the alarm real.
Help Me; I'm Dim: Please Explain Why This Is "Casual Sexism"
Per Cat Ferguson at Retraction Watch, Duke conservation biologist Stuart Pimm was the subject of an apology in the Elsevier journal Biological Conservation.
The apology was for the language in his review of Keeping the Wild: Against the Domestication of Earth, in the wake of an outcry over what he wrote.
Here's the apparently lady-horrifying bit from Pimm:
I confess to having had a teenage crush on Julie Christie, the actress in ''Doctor Zhivago'' and ''Darling.'' In the latter film, she has a scandalous affair with a married intellectual. When, at last, he finds that she's having other affairs too, he walks her to the subway, refusing to send her home in the usual taxi. When she asks why, he replies: ''I don't take whores in taxis.'' I teach this as a metaphor for academic discourse. Now, I spend my life in scientific debate: it's what makes science so effective. That some scientists desperately seek attention, however, does not make giving it to them desirable.
Here's the (paywalled) note released by the journal on November 20:
We would like to inform our readers that parts of the book review Keeping Wild: Against the Domestication of the Earth by Stuart Pimm, Volume 180, pages 151-152 are denigrating to women. We have taken action to prevent such use of inappropriate language from recurring, and emphasize that the language used in this book review in no way reflects the policy or practice of Biological Conservation or Elsevier.
Okay, the guy is working really hard to shoehorn an analogy that doesn't quite fit into his paper.
As somebody who has been guilty of going to ridiculous lengths to write a paragraph around a beloved joke -- to the detriment of the subject matter -- I think I see a compadre in self-indulgence.
My take -- and I think this seems rather obvious: He loves that line from "Darling," and Julie Christie, to boot, and was determined to stick both of his loves in a scientific paper.
But "casual sexism"? Why is this "casual sexism"?
Do we now define any mention by a man of sex that happens to include a woman as "sexism"?
How To Make A Potential Employee Live To Ruin Your Company
I dealt with this sort of "call anytime!" stonewalling in the excerpt below from the op-ed editor of a big paper, who sat on a book-related op-ed I wrote for almost four months.
I sent it to him -- with his permission -- a week and a half before my book came out. He kept promising to read it "this weekend," or "this weekend," and apologizing -- and then engaging in the same pledge to read and disappearo over and over.
He even did this after he had me do work on the piece, which he ultimately passed on -- a month after I did the work and he then ignored me repeatedly again. Finally, I tricked him into picking up the phone, which is how I heard that he was passing.
Pro Tip: If you call from a blocked number, they wonder whether it might be a celebrity: "George Clooney?" "Hi, no...Amy Alkon!"
Now, I know that the guy didn't owe me the publication of my piece -- far from it. But it was the indecency of the treatment that got me: being told over and over that he'd behave differently and then never having that happen. This gave me a lot of upset and a number of nights where I woke up at 3 a.m., all upset or worried and trying to strategize.
Really, if the guy had simply said from the start, "Hey, I'm too busy; send this to the slush pile address," I would have, no biggie. But he never did.
The upshot: Where I am normally quick to shrug off slights (and, in fact, joke that I have a mind like a steel sieve), I now live for the day I will meet somebody from his paper and tell them all about the way he treats people. And I'm not the only one, as I, not surprisingly, heard subsequently.
On a related note, there's a smart piece at Harvard Biz Review by Anne Kreamer on "The Rise of the Rude Hiring Manager:
A culture of rudeness. Rachel, a 60-year-old former news producer turned freelance marketer, was introduced by a friend to the CEO of "a fast growing 'deep content' company with clients like GE and Xerox." The company seemed like a good fit for Rachel's portfolio of skills, and employed a large staff of experienced journalists, artists, and web designers. After a brief phone conversation, the CEO wanted to meet with Rachel "ASAP." During their first in-person conversation, Rachel and he discovered shared viewpoints, and after talking for an hour, the CEO asked Rachel to meet with his editorial VP. But first, the CEO gave Rachel his card. "This is my direct line," he said, "and I return every call on this line. Call me by the end of the week." Rachel did as requested. Six weeks later, after several awkward interactions with the CEO's assistant, he finally took Rachel's call.
CEO: "Hi Rachel, I'm too busy to talk today."
Rachel: "I understand --maybe Monday?"
CEO: "Well, I can't commit to that right now, either. And I need to tell you, it doesn't inspire me that you've been calling so much."
Rachel: "On the day we met you asked me to call you two days later. That was six weeks ago. I've called less than once a week."
CEO: "Well, every time you call your name doesn't go to the to top of the list - it moves to the bottom! This doesn't mean I've lost interest in you and your work, but it's not cool to do what you're doing."
Rachel: "I understand. I won't call again. Thank you."
The colleague who set up the initial contact told Rachel: "There is no bad intent here -- like me, he gets 300 emails a day and works 18-hour days across five continents. It's not personal."
I wrote a book about emotion in the workplace called It's Always Personal. And no matter what others say, it nearly always is. People hiring today have precious little time to read, process information, and respond to even urgent issues like staffing. But this comes at great peril to their organizations and to the rude employer. Instead of fostering good will among the prospective hires they interview, enemies like I-live-to-see-this-company-destroyed Martin are made.
Kreamer's piece is smart, and her book looks smart, too, so I'm getting a copy and will have her on my radio show soon.
What Feminists Used To Fight For
An Ashe Schow column in the WashEx quotes Ayaan Hirsi-Ali on how feminism used to be -- before it devolved into what she called (and I agree is) "trivial bullshit." (This amidst fighting for discrimination against men -- or at least laughing it off.)
"I want you to remember that once upon a time, feminists fought for the access -- basic right -- access of girls to education," she said.
Hirsi Ali -- who despite the harsh words she said, spoke softly, almost timidly -- told the story of a fight between her mother and father when she was about 11 years old. Her mother wanted to take her and her sister out of school because education would lead them to rebel against their family and "bring shame upon us." Her father responded by saying, "If you take my girls out of school, I am going to curse you and you are going to burn in hell."
Taken out of context, Hirsi Ali said, one might side with her mother, but in reality, she said it was her father that allowed her to be educated and helped make her what she is today.
"That's what feminists used to fight for -- the access for girls to education," Hirsi Ali said. "They used to fight for the recognition of girls as fellow human beings and recognition of their personal liberty."
And Hirsi-Ali is right:
Feminism needs to fight the real war on women: Radical Islam and other parts of the world where women don't even have the right to an education or to leave their home without a male guardian.
Helpful Society-Improving Tips
Hey, cellboors -- do have yourself a nice big portion of shut up.
Please by my book at Amazon -- "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck" -- at Barnes and Noble, or at the fabulous independent bookstore near you.
Is That An Alien Ray Gun In Your Finger...?
We now like to start off teaching kids as early as possible that they don't have free speech -- for example, by suspending them for the use of an imaginary laser gun.
Robby Soave writes at reason:
Stacy Middle School in Milford, Massachusetts, took steps to neutralize a dangerous public nuisance: 10-year-old Nickolas Taylor, who had threatened some of his classmates with his weapon of choice while cutting in line.
That weapon is an imaginary laser gun, which he conjured into existence by pointing his finger and uttering laser noises. Quick, get this maniac away from other kids before he disintegrates them with his mind!
Thankfully, school officials intervened and suspended the aspiring sci-fi villain.
Loco, but not as crazy.
Black Friday Deals Week Starts Today
Some big savings on these limited-time deals at Amazon. Buying through my links helps support the work I do on this site and is much-appreciated!
OR: Search Amy's Amazon here. This gives me a wee kickback from your purchases at no cost to you.
Interesting thing somebody bought a couple of the other day (which I didn't even know existed)? The Rachel Ray lasagna lugger.
Need to add something on for free shipping? How about my book, "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck"? Buying a new copy also helps me earn back my advance and sell the next one!
Some Of The Bette People Are Reading "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck"
I just got this from one of the wonderful publicists on my book at my publisher, St. Martin's Press:
This article featuring an interview with Bette Midler just went up on Harper Bazaar's Blog and she just so happens to mention owning your book! Very exciting stuff!
To join those enjoying my book, here's a link to it at Amazon: "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck." Here's a link to the book at Barnes and Noble.
Along with positive reviews in the WSJ and other publications, Library Journal (in September) gave the book a starred review:
"Verdict: Solid psychology and a wealth of helpful knowledge and rapier wit fill these pages. Highly recommended."
Orders of the book (new only, not used!) help support my writing and keep me eating out of the refrigerator instead of the Dumpster! A very good thing. And I truly appreciate every one anybody buys.
Children Are People, Not Possessions...Right?
Where should we draw the line on letting a parent deny a child medical intervention that is likely lifesaving?
A Canadian judge has ruled that an Aboriginal woman has right to take her cancer-stricken daughter out of chemotherapy. Tom Blackwell writes in the Canadian Nat Post:
BRANTFORD, Ont. -- An emotional dispute over a family's decision to pull their cancer-stricken daughter out of chemotherapy ended Friday with a potentially far-reaching constitutional decision, as a judge ruled First Nations' people have a legal right to seek out traditional native remedies.
That right under the Constitution extends to eschewing modern medicine in the process, suggested Ontario Justice Gethin Edward.
He rejected a request by the hospital that had been treating the 11-year-old girl to force the local children's aid society to apprehend her so she could resume chemotherapy. Doctors have said her kind of leukemia has a 90% cure rate with modern treatment, but is an almost certain death sentence without it.
Earning applause from many in a packed courtroom Friday, the judge said traditional health care is an integral part of the family's Mohawk culture and therefore protected by the Constitution. He cited Section 35(1), a provision that recognizes "existing aboriginal and treaty rights," but is more often associated with native fishing and hunting practices than treatments for deadly diseases.
Evidence showed the mother from Six Nations reserve is "deeply committed to her longhouse beliefs and her belief that traditional medicines work," said Judge Edward.
...The judge did not address the fact that the girl's parents also took her to a private Florida clinic run by a non-native businessman whose only licence is reportedly for providing massages - but who claims he can treat cancer.
More on that:
Juliet Guichon, a University of Calgary bio-ethicist, was more blunt, saying the case seems no different than those where the courts have ruled a religious belief -- like that of Jehovah's Witnesses -- is no justification for denying a child needed treatment.
"The real issue is not whether the mother has a treaty right to practise traditional medicine but whether the child has a right to life and to medical decision-making that can help her live," she said. "How does 'traditional aboriginal medicine' mean taking a child by motored vehicle to a white man in Florida, who has no apparent medical qualifications and recommends eating raw vegetables to cure leukemia?"
The girl began chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia in late August but pulled out after 10 days, she and her parents saying the hospital was putting "poison" in her body.
As well as receiving unspecified aboriginal remedies, the girl travelled to the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida for other alternative treatment. According to a CBC report, the institute provided cold laser therapy, vitamin C injections and a strict raw food diet as part of a service that cost $18,000.
Chief Hill said it was the family's right to seek out any alternative care they chose. As for actual traditional medicines, she said she did not know exactly what the girl had received.
As for why the judge decided this way, could it be that Canadian Aboriginals are lots groovier and more PC-mystical than Canadian Jehovah's Witnesses?
(It seems some beliefs are cooler to "respect" than others -- all the way to a child who will likely end up dead thanks to her parents' belief in some quack's vitamin C treatment and maybe a couple shakes of a shaman's chicken bone necklace over her left foot.)
In a ... (1995) Canadian case, B(R) v. Children's Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto , Jehovah's Witness parents refused a blood transfusion for their severely anemic 1-year-old daughter who was at risk of congestive heart failure. The baby was made a ward of the court in order to administer clinically necessary blood transfusions. The Supreme Court of Canada ultimately ruled that this state intervention was a legitimate limitation on religious freedom. In their ruling the Court considered Canada's Charter of Rights (section 2 (a) - right to freedom of conscience and religion) versus the Ontario province's obligation to a "child in need of protection" under the Ontario Child Welfare Act.
RELATED: How traditional beliefs in Africa -- kissing corpses -- help spread Ebola.
About that "Hippocrates Health Institute," here's cancer doc Orac at ScienceBlogs with the nutshell:
1. A child is diagnosed with a treatable, curable pediatric cancer. (Note that most pediatric cancers are among the most curable cancers there are. Pediatric leukemias and lymphomas, for example, have gone from a virtually-zero survival rate 50 years ago to survival rates that approach 90% or even more. Truly, if there is a triumph of science based medicine, it is in pediatric cancers.)
2. The child begins chemotherapy, going through part of the recommended protocol, and suffers the expected side effects.
3. The parents, who quite naturally have a hard time watching their child suffer, hear about some quackery or other that promises to treat their child without the side effects of chemotherapy. If they are prone to belief in "natural healing" or alternative medicine, there is a good chance that they will stop their child's chemotherapy and opt for the promise of the "natural healing" that claims to be a cure without the pain.
4. Doctors, alarmed at the likelihood that the child will die, report the child to the child protective service authorities, who intervene.
5. There is a court case. If the court case goes against the parents, frequently they flee with the child, as Daniel Hauser's mother did, as did the parents of Katie Wernecke, Abraham Cherrix, and Sarah Hershberger, among others.
6. At this point, one of two things happens. Either the parents are persuaded or ordered to treat their child properly (as in the case of Daniel Hauser); they come to some sort of compromise that allows the child to get some treatment plus "alternative healing" (as in the case of Abraham Cherrix); or, a depressingly common outcome, they win the "right" to let their child die through medical neglect, as has just happened with this First Nations girl with lymphoma.
6. Through it all, quacks leap on these stories as examples of "fascism," and "gunpoint medicine" in order to promote their world view of "health freedom" (otherwise known to skeptics as the freedom from pesky laws and regulations outlawing fraud and quackery), as happened in virtually all these cases, but most notably recently for the case of Sarah Hershberger.
No doubt this ruling is monumental and precedent-setting, but in a very bad way. So, in other words, our neighbor to the south (at least to me in southeast Michigan, which is the only place where Canada is to the south) have declared that letting children die of cancer is an "integral" part of Aboriginal identity. I am not exaggerating. The court apparently didn't even take into account whether the "natural healing" chosen by the girl's family works. Meanwhile, Six Nations Chief Ava Hill is exulting over the ruling, apparently unconcerned that it will result in the death of an 11 year old girl. As I've said many times before, a competent adult should have the right to choose any form of medicine he likes or even to choose no treatment at all, but children are different. They are not capable of understanding the implications of their decision, and this girl, at 11 years old, isn't even in the gray area of the later teen years where an argument can sometimes be made for self-determination even though the child is a minor. They need and deserve protection from such outrageously bad choices on the part of the parents.
This case is a complete failure on the part of the province of Ontario and of Canada itself to protect the lives of its most vulnerable members, children, particularly children of a minority group. Even worse, it is an indictment of the First Nations, which, rather than seeking to protect one of the most vulnerable members of its community, a girl with a treatable, potentially curable cancer, instead glommed onto this case as a vehicle to promote its rights vis-a-vis the Canadian government. I don't think it was cynically done; no doubt the leaders of this particular First Nations community and Six Nations Chief Ava Hill believe in their Aboriginal natural healing. On the other hand, it's hard not to think that there was some opportunism given that the parents appear not to have even chosen to use Aboriginal "natural healing" techniques.
Instead, they are using the rankest quackery, which has nothing to do with aboriginal natural medicine, administered by Brian Clement in a "massage establishment" in Florida.
...The interests of the child must come first, and if parents can't be persuaded to continue treatment of a highly curable tumor, then the state has a duty to step in. It's a duty at which Ontario and Canada have failed in the case of this First Nations girl. It's also a duty that First Nations authorities who supported the parents in filing suit have utterly failed to uphold.
Here's an Orac commenter's categorization of parental rights vs. parental duties:
I'm pretty certain I'm on record on a long-ago post on Respectful Insolence opining that being a parent - or more generally a guardian (natural or legal) - of a child doesn't confer rights so much as it confers duties - most notably, in the case of medical care, the duties to look out for a child's best interests.
While there may come a (surely heartbreaking) point where withholding curative treatment from a child with cancer, in favour of, say, palliation, I would think that until reaching that point, it's in the child's best interests to have an opportunity to reach adulthood - that is, to pursue curative treatment, however unpleasant.
A Trend: Colleges' Pervy Prying As A Condition Of Registering For Classes
Susan Kruth writes at theFIRE.org:
Back in September, I wrote ... about a Title IX training program for students developed by CampusClarity and adopted by nearly 200 colleges and universities nationwide that included questions about the details of students' sex lives. Clemson University, where the program was mandatory, suspended its program soon after students and media outlets objected to this invasion of privacy. Now students at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) are speaking out against the same survey, which they must complete before registering for classes.
WPTV (West Palm Beach, Fla.) relayed some of the questions included in the survey:•How many times have you had sex (including oral) in the last three months?
•With how many different people have you had sex (including oral) in the last three months?
•If you had sex (including oral) in the last three months, how many times had you used a condom?
As a spokesperson for FAU noted, colleges and universities are required by the reauthorized Violence Against Women Act to offer sexual assault prevention training to students. But universities' legal obligation to offer training does not mean that they must require such training, let alone this kind of breathtakingly intrusive questioning.
FAU student Cheryl Soley voiced her objection to the survey, saying, "I just don't understand why questions pertaining to how many times I've had sex have anything to do with campus life." Indeed, if CampusClarity and FAU can't come up with a better way to combat sexual assault than by forcing students to divulge their (lawful) sexual interactions, they need to work harder. Soley isn't alone in feeling uncomfortable with the questions--FAU spokesperson Joshua Glanzer told WPTV that approximately 80 students expressed concerns.
A spokesman for CampusClarity told Campus Reform that next year, the program will include a "decline to state" option with these questions, and that institutions can already request this option. All colleges and universities using this program should do so immediately so that students are not forced to choose between maintaining their privacy and enrolling in classes.
Mu Shoo Links
Al Sharpton: Paying Taxes Is For The Little People
(He's much too busy race-baiting to worry about such mundanities.) Besides, money and Al have a one-way relationship. Money goes in, not out. Even -- as you'll see from the NYT piece -- if he owes it to the federal government.
Mr. Sharpton's influence and visibility have reached new heights this year, fueled by his close relationships with the mayor and the president. Obscured in his ascent, however, has been his troubling financial past, which continues to shadow his present.
Mr. Sharpton has regularly sidestepped the sorts of obligations most people see as inevitable, like taxes, rent and other bills. Records reviewed by The New York Times show more than $4.5 million in current state and federal tax liens against him and his for-profit businesses. And though he said in recent interviews that he was paying both down, his balance with the state, at least, has actually grown in recent years. His National Action Network appears to have been sustained for years by not paying federal payroll taxes on its employees.
With the tax liability outstanding, Mr. Sharpton traveled first class and collected a sizable salary, the kind of practice by nonprofit groups that the United States Treasury's inspector general for tax administration recently characterized as "abusive," or "potentially criminal" if the failure to turn over or collect taxes is willful.
Mr. Sharpton and the National Action Network have repeatedly failed to pay travel agencies, hotels and landlords. He has leaned on the generosity of friends and sometimes even the organization, intermingling its finances with his own to cover his daughters' private school tuition.
If you want to be a crook and get away with it, be in government. If you want to get away with more, be someone who has consistently used his skin color to get ahead -- and never mind whether the allegations he's making are life-ruining to the falsely accused, or whether he's racist and race-baiting.
From the NYT piece:
He accused an upstate New York prosecutor, Steven A. Pagones, of being part of a group of white men whom he said had abducted and raped the teenager Tawana Brawley, an allegation that a grand jury report showed had been fabricated.
He often used strident language that many saw as inflaming racial tensions. During rallies at the Slave Theater in Brooklyn, he characterized black people who disagreed with him as "yellow niggers" and called white people "crackers." After a car in a prominent Hasidic rabbi's motorcade jumped a curb in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn and killed a 7-year-old black boy in 1991, Mr. Sharpton referred to the neighborhood's Hasidic Jews as "diamond merchants." In 1995, he referred to a Harlem businessman who wanted to expand his store into a space that had been occupied by a black-owned business as a "white interloper."
A comment from the NYT:
Westside Guy, L.A.
Mr. Sharpton has never been anything more than a craven opportunist. People were wondering who paid his daughter's tuition at Poly Prep years ago. He has, like Jesse Jackson, used race as a trump card to line his pockets and taken advantage of prejudice as a means of personal advancement. He is a con man, plain and simple. And now, he has succeeded to the point where corporations are lining up top fill his pockets. I cash only hope that someone has the guts to charge him with Tax Fraud. But I doubt it. Too many friends in high places now afraid he'll play the race card. Hats off to Reverend Al. He's scammed everyone, including the IRS. Shame on Mayor DeBlasio for giving this guy air cover.
The bush is back -- and it's on your feminist girlfriend's upper lip!
Samantha Allen writes at The Daily Dot:
It's No-Shave November, the month when men put down their razors to let their facial hair roam free in the name of prostate cancer awareness.
...This year, it's time to fight back: If the name of the game is prostate cancer awareness, women should take up arms (and drop razors) as well--after all, we'd just be spreading the word.
No-Shave November, with its giggling discussions about body hair, usually brings about the same boring jokes about women's body hair, reminding women that they should be shaved clean for the pleasure of the male gaze.
When my boyfriend comes to see me, he avoids wearing shirts he knows I'll hate.
Because, yes, shockingly, it's nice -- and even smart -- to look attractive to the people you'd like to have attracted to you.
Back to Samantha Allen:
We don't have to play the part of the perfect pussy-shaving housewife in order to support prostate cancer research. We can turn ourselves into the human Chia Pets of men's nightmares with flowing '70s bushes, bristly leg hair, and yes, even little mustaches (and no, cute costume mustaches from American Apparel don't count) while also raising awareness about men's health--and, dare I say it, supporting the men in our lives by not shaving in solidarity.
It gets better:
As Ellen Friedrichs writes for Everyday Feminism, the taboo against women's body hair constricts women's possibilities for gender expression, especially along lines of race and class. By giving men an excuse to speak up about women's body hair, No-Shave November often unwittingly reinforces this taboo along those same lines, hence the repugnant and not uncommon joke that "Muslim women [are] showing support for Movember." Similar policing can be seen in treatment of devout Sikh women, who don't cut any of their body hair, even when medical conditions cause significant hair growth, including that of facial hair. When we allow facial hair to be seen as the exclusive territory of men, we accept a world of constricted possibilities for women.
I know -- about now, you're starting to be unsure whether this is a parody. (It's not.)
RELATED, from my column, "When Harry Met Hairy":
It's great when your girlfriend reminds you of somebody exotic out of the movies -- when that somebody is Mila Kunis or Eva Mendes, not Chewbacca.
As for your girlfriend's notion that the defurred look traces to "anti-feminist propaganda," way back before there was Cosmo, there was Ovid, the Roman poet, advising women looking for love: "Let no rude goat find his way beneath your arms" (don't let your underarms get stanky like a goat), "and let not your legs be rough with bristling hair." Archeological evidence (including hair-scraping stones and an impressive set of Bronze Age tweezers) suggests that women -- and often men -- have been shaving, depilating, and yanking out body hair since at least 7,000 B.C. In the early 1500s, Michelangelo sculpted David (who would have been a hairy Middle Eastern dude, looking more Borat than baby's bottom), making him look like he was too busy spending three weeks at the waxer to slay Goliath. And these days, male bodybuilders also remove their body hair, lest their admirers have to peer through the hair sweater to find the pecs and abs.
You, likewise, would just like to see your girlfriend's legs without having to send your eyeballs off on a search party through Furwood Forest. (You must look back fondly on the days when you could picture her naked without first giving her a mental bath in a vat of Nair.) Is there a double standard at play here? Sure there is -- if you'd shave a Fidel Castro beard to be more attractive to her but she refuses to shave her Fidel Castro legs.
...She can still rebel against the patriarchy in other ways, like by going around in snarky T-shirts and blogging about how leg shaving is an obvious plot to keep women in the shower and out of the House of Representatives. The bottom line, for you and many other men, is that it's really sexy to run your hand through a woman's hair -- just not the hair on her ankles.
The Indignities Of Life As A Woman In A Muslim-Majority Country
Female police recruits in Muslim-majority Indonesia (a supposed center of "moderate" Islam) are forced to undergo "virginity tests," reports Kate Hodal in The Guardian:
Female recruits hoping to join Indonesia's police force are forced to undergo two-finger "virginity tests", a rights group has found, a practice that leaves the women traumatised, humiliated and in pain.
The testis listed publicly as a requirement to enter the force and performed as part of the chief of police's health inspection guidelines for new candidates, which requires women to complete an "obstetrics and gynaecology" exam.
While female recruits are also expected to be single and not marry until they have been in the force for a few years, Indonesia's national police website claims they must also undergo virginity tests in addition to general medical and physical examinations, with the added warning: "So all women who want to become policewomen should keep their virginity."
The practice contravenes Indonesia's national police principles as well as international human rights policy, says Human Rights Watch (HRW), which interviewed female police recruits and serving female officers across six cities.
While women who "failed" the test were not necessarily prevented from entering the force, all of those interviewed said the examination was painful and traumatic and described the practice as widespread.
"Entering the virginity test examination room was really upsetting," one interviewee said. "I feared that after they performed the test I would not be a virgin anymore. They inserted two fingers with gel ... it really hurt. My friend even fainted."
"Religion Of Peace"-Linked Terrorist Slaughter Up 60 Percent
Plus a just-sent email from Jerusalem, from a close friend of a close friend of my mother's (really), about this morning's terrorist attack on a Jerusalem synagogue.
Alan Cowell writes in The New York Times:
LONDON -- As Western governments grapple with heightened apprehension about the spread of Islamic militancy, an independent study on Tuesday offered little solace, saying the number of fatalities related to terrorism soared 60 percent last year.
Pointing to a geographic imbalance, the report by the nonprofit Institute for Economics and Peace said five countries -- Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria -- accounted for four-fifths of the almost 18,000 fatalities attributed to terrorism last year. Iraq had the bloodiest record of all, with more than 6,300 fatalities.
At the same time, the statistics in the organization's Global Terrorism Index suggested that the world's industrialized nations -- often the target of threats by groups such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL -- had suffered relatively few attacks on their soil since the Sept. 11, 2001, onslaught in the United States and the July 7, 2005, suicide bombings in London.
Four groups -- the Islamic State, Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Taliban, which is active in both Pakistan and Afghanistan -- took credit for two-thirds of worldwide deaths related to terrorism in 2013, the report said, describing radical variants of Islam as "the key commonality for all four groups."
My mother just got this from email from someone in Jerusalem. She wouldn't know a chain email from Kim Kardashian's ass, but it seems to be real (I Googled the text in it; plus the woman's name was in it, along with her real email address. [Mom, you gotta learn to strip these things out]). My mom subsequently emailed me back to verify it.
18th November, 2014
I wish to G-d I did not have to write this letter but write it I will because you need to know.
This morning in the religious neighborhood of Har Nof, Jerusalem, at 07:01, men were saying their morning prayers, prayer shawls about their shoulders and phylacteries on their foreheads as is commanded; two terrorists walked in to the synagogue armed with machetes and guns and hacked four Jews to death, maiming and injuring 13 others.The lives of 5 others hang in the balance including two policemen that rushed to the synagogue when they heard the gunshots. So far there are 26 newly-orphaned Jewish children
The terrorists knew each and every one of the men they attacked. One [of the terrorists] was the janitor of the synagogue, one worked opposite in the convenience store; both were Israeli citizens, with blue Israeli ID's, both were incited to hatred by others and found themselves capable of the most horrific of all. Perhaps they saw the Da'esh broadcasts of beheadings because this is no different.
The immediate reaction of Hamas leader Khaled Mashal was to announce that Israeli Arabs are in the best position to slaughter Jews since they have freedom of movement. The terrorists were from Jabel Mukaber (next to Armon ha Natziv) and the UN HQ was just a tiny village with 10 houses and during the last Intifada while we were busy with exploding buses they built thousands of houses and imported residents from Hebron.
The BBC barely mentioned it; CNN on line actually said 6 people died in an attack, 4 Israelis and 2 Palestinians after the suspected hanging of an Arab bus driver. The bus driver, a respected member of Egged, committed suicide but the Palestinian Authority spread a rumour he was killed.
Until the world wakes up to the horror of what these people do, that it has nothing to do with human rights or supposed stolen lands, that their single intent is to kill Jews, this will not stop. Thanks to the vast sums of "aid" and the evil UNWRA Hamas is currently the second wealthiest terror organisation in the world but they will not spread the wealth to provide succour to their people because then they will not be angry.
Israel does not release the names of the slain until their families have been informed and until now just two names have been released - Rabbi Meir Twerski, renowned and highly respected Rabbi and humanist. Reb Avrohom Shmuel Goldberg, originally from Liverpool in the UK.
Graphic images from the attack here. The bottom photo, amidst the blood, contains part of (probably) some elderly and infirm man's walker.
At the site, whomever posted them writes:
It's simply unfathomable how these subhuman savages can enter a house of worship (Shul) during morning prayers (Shachris) armed with axes, knives and a gun and slaughter innocent men while wrapped in their prayer shawls. The photos are somewhat reminiscent of the horrific Islamic terrorist attack in Merkaz Harav Yeshiva that claimed the lives of eight innocent students. That yeshiva is 4 minute drive from the site of this latest Islamic terror attack.
What would Mohammed do?
'The time (of Resurrection) will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews; until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: 0 Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him!'" Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985
Christianity has been the inspiration for some terrible behaviors; the thing is, Jesus didn't say to go kill people. He said to feed the poor, heal the sick; that kind of thing. As an atheist, I can get behind that kind of thing, even if I find god-belief silly and really want to know what Jesus was doing between the time he was a baby and then showed up all bearded, along with why the hell nobody seems to wonder about that.
The Surveillance State Is A Very Dangerous Place To Live
In The Boston Globe, columnist Kevin Cullen quotes Margaret Marshall, retired chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court:
"The massive, barely perceptible assault by the government on the right to privacy is perhaps the greatest threat to freedom of the press and free speech our country has ever known," she said. "9/11 caused a recalibration of the trade-offs between privacy and security in this country, and the balance we struck is not compatible with a free people living in an open society."
Unfortunately, survey says:
"Americans Say They Want Privacy, but Act as if They Don't"
That's from a Claire Cain Miller piece in The New York Times -- which doesn't quite get at the real problem quite as well as one of the commenters on the piece:
Americans say they are deeply concerned about privacy on the web and their cellphones. They say they do not trust Internet companies or the government to protect it. Yet they keep using the services and handing over their personal information.
That paradox is captured in a new survey by Pew Research Center. It found that there is no communications channel, including email, cellphones or landlines, that the majority of Americans feel very secure using when sharing personal information. Of all the forms of communication, they trust landlines the most, and fewer and fewer people are using them.
Distrust of digital communication has only increased, Pew found, with the young expressing the most concern by some measures, in the wake of the revelations by Edward Snowden about online surveillance by the government. Yet Americans for now seem to grudgingly accept that these are the trade-offs of living in the digital age -- or else they fear that it is too late to do anything about it.
"The reason is often they don't have real choice," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "It's not like picking up the newspaper and realizing ice cream has too many calories and you can start eating frozen yogurt, information that people can act on."
One reason is that once people are invested in a service -- if they have all their social contacts on Facebook or years of email on Gmail, for instance -- they have a hard time giving it up.
"It's this modern economy that doesn't really rely on price, but on connections and stickiness," Mr. Rotenberg said. "The companies have done everything they can to make it impossible to go somewhere else."
Commenter Larry L. nutshells the real deal well:
Larry L, Dallas, TX
I think the fault in the author's reasoning is that Americans do care about their privacy. The problem is that if you want to do ANYTHING today, you have to submit to the demands of a relatively small cartel of communications and media empires. In other words, American consumers really have no choice in the matter and they have really no legal recourse (unlike in Europe where there are laws the specifically govern such things).
The truth is that the entire technological infrastructure has been basically usurped for twp things: spying and marketing. Every other form of innovation has been waylaid on the way to market so that billions can be spent for a lot of useless stuff that do not solve this generation's central challenges: nutritious food, clean water, disease control, climate change, energy infrastructure, financial stability and democracy.
Lax Due Process On Campus May Disproportionately Affect Minority Men
Richard Painter writes at Legal Ethics Forum about the removal of due process from men on campus, and how it can "have a disproportionate impact on accused students who are racial minorities and foreigners":
•Witnesses from a majority ethnic group - white Americans on most campuses -- may provide testimony affected by conscious or unconscious bias, for example resentment of sexual overtures toward another member of their group by minorities or foreigners.
•Witnesses, and the accuser, may be more likely to misinterpret communications and actions of minorities and foreign students than communications and actions of other students. Language differences can make this problem worse.
•In any mixed gathering of students, statistically there are likely to be more witnesses from the majority group than from an accused students' minority group.
Also, in the current atmosphere - created in part by the federal government - faculty members may not advocate for an accused student in the process. Traditionally, accused students have gone to faculty members they know for support in student disciplinary cases ranging from plagiarism to under-age drinking and vandalism. In sexual assault cases however, faculty members may fear being accused themselves of engaging in a "cover up" and refuse to weigh in with fact finders on such matters as the character and veracity of the accused. If so, the accused student is left with a single faculty member, if there is one, who is willing to be designated as an official advisor for the student in the disciplinary process, assuming the procedural rules allow it. Other faculty members might avoid discussing the case - particularly in email but even verbally - for fear of ending up in the crosshairs of the University, the Department of Education or even the Department of Justice. This in turn could make accused students more dependent upon outside lawyers, disadvantaging those who cannot afford a lawyer. In the case of accused minority and foreign students, an intimidating atmosphere could discourage faculty members from doing a critical part of their job, which is to protect these students from any type of discrimination.
...It would be tragic for American colleges and universities to exacerbate one type of discrimination in order to fight another. We should be able to do both at the same time. Being more diligent in reporting sexual assault cases to law enforcement and allowing those cases to be handled by a justice system run by professional prosecutors and judges, is probably the best answer (arguably the most serious cases, such as those likely to result in expulsion of a student, should only be handled by law enforcement in the first instance). By contrast, procedurally sloppy administrative prosecution of students by untrained academic personnel, including other students, could have disastrous consequences.
Countdown To Black Friday Deals Week
Some big savings on these countdown deals at Amazon. Buying through my links helps support the work I do on this site and is much-appreciated!
OR: Search Amy's Amazon here. This gives me a wee kickback from your purchases at no cost to you.
Need to add something on for free shipping? How about my book, "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck"? Buying a new copy also helps me earn back my advance and sell the next one!
"If You Are Embarrassed By Your Healthcare Architect..."
...You can throw your healthcare architect under the bus.
President Obama, reports Josh Gerstein at Politico, claims Obamacare wasn't deceptively sold to via the "stupidity" of American voters, to borrow Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber's word:
"The fact that an adviser who was never on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters is not a reflection on the actual process that was run," Obama declared at a press conference here, speaking for the first time about the comments by MIT economist Jonathan Gruber.
When the president was asked whether he had intentionally misled the public in order to get the law passed, he replied: "No. I did not."
Do you think there's a staffer on hand to sand the President's nose down after statements like this?
While Gruber was not a staffer, he was a paid consultant whose models were used to help assess the impact of various policy changes being considered as part of health care legislation. Official logs show he visited the White House about a dozen times between 2009 and this year.
Despite Obama's dismissive tone toward Gruber, the president has acknowledged that some of his own statements about the law were ill-advised, in particular his repeated promises that if Americans liked their health care plans they could keep them. In fact, many plans were deemed inadequate under the law, leading people to get notices that their plans were being canceled.
The question about Gruber was just a taste of the challenges Obama faces back home from newly ascendant Republicans, as they consider how to use control of both chambers of Congress to try to frustrate the president's agenda on issues ranging from health care to climate change to immigration.
Frustrate away! Please!
Man Arrested For Sitting While Black Now Suing Cops (Who Were Just Exonerated)
The officers were exonerated of allegations they used excessive force, reports Bill Hudson at CBS/St. Paul:
Three St. Paul police officers involved in the January arrest of a man -- who recorded the incident and claimed he was being targeted because he was black -- have been cleared of allegations that they used excessive force, police announced Friday.
But Christopher Lollie's still angry, and he's now suing the city and the three officers for stopping and arresting him without probable cause, for false imprisonment and for using excessive force.
Lollie was being questioned, and then confronted, by three St. Paul police officers in a downtown St. Paul skyway when things went from bad to worse.
"It's stressful, but I'm glad there's a light being shined on the situation," said Lollie from his attorney's law office.
Lollie was waiting to meet his children at a nearby daycare in what he thought was a public area of the First National Bank building.
Security officers there asked him to leave and Lollie, who is African-American, refused when he spotted other non-minorities in the same area.
That's when officer Lori Hayne first approached Lollie, whom his lawyers say was under no legal obligation to give his name to Hayne.
Lollie's attorney, Paul Applebaum, said, "The situation went downhill from there as other officers were called in to respond."
Those other two officers, Michael Johnson and Bruce Schmidt, arrived and pushed Lollie up against a skyway wall.
While Lollie complied with officers, he continued to exclaim he had done nothing wrong.
Soon after, he was struck with the electric probes of an officer's Taser gun.
According to his civil lawsuit, Lollie suffered "bruising, burns and lacerations and has endured humiliation and emotional distress."
Applebaum, his attorney, said Lollie was doing nothing wrong, and didn't resist police.
"You can't stop citizens who aren't breaking the law and doing nothing suspicious and ask them to explain themselves," he said. You can't "ask for their identification and ask where they came from and where they are going."
This story, by Mara H. Gottfried in the Pioneer Press, has some of the reporting the other lacks. For example, the City Attorney saying that the area was, indeed, a public space:
Chris Lollie was in a public area of the St. Paul skyway when a security guard told police he was in a private area, the city attorney said Wednesday.
A guard said the 28-year-old man was sitting "for some time" in a skyway-level lounge area designated for building employees, a police report said, and officers were responding to that information when they arrived, St. Paul City Attorney Sara Grewing said.
The guard's report led to the Jan. 31 encounter with police that has drawn national attention and criticism. Whether the downtown area where Lollie was sitting was public or private has been the crux of the case.
Lollie, of St. Paul, posted a cellphone video on YouTube last week that showed officers confronting and tasing him. The video, which Lollie titled "Black man taken to jail for sitting in public area," has been viewed more than 1 million times.
Lollie was charged with misdemeanor trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process. The city attorney's office dismissed the charges July 31.
"Our job is not to second-guess the decision that officers on the streets make to maintain order and protect the public," Grewing said. "Our job as prosecutors is to determine whether those elements of a crime are present to prove to a jury, and we just didn't have that here."
The case was always clear to defense lawyer Luke Rezac. He felt so strongly that Lollie should not have been charged with trespassing while in a public place that he agreed to represent him for no charge.
Chris Lollie, when approached by police officers, was no longer in the space. (It sounds like he stuck around there after being told it was private because he realized it was not, and refused to put up with what he perceived as racism.)
He told the guard to go ahead and call the police, but when they took time to come, eventually got up and began walking through the skyway. It seems the police thus had no probable cause to ask him for ID -- and Minnesota is a state where you don't have to give your ID to a police officer (called "stop and identify") unless there's "reasonable suspicion of criminal activity." (As Elizabeth Nolan Brown puts it in that reason.com link:
Unless "being a black man in public" qualifies as reasonably-suspicious behavior, I'm not sure how Lollie's case meets this legal requirement.
Oh, but wait -- not showing ID makes you suspicious! -- one argument goes. And Nolan Brown for the win:
Community cops should not have a right to stop anyone they want for any (or no) reason and then use force against them if they refuse to show an ID. That is not constitutional policing, that is the mark of a police state.
My earlier post on this is here.
via the wonderful police watchdog, @radleybalko
Special Needs Kids Get "Protected" Out Of Their Playground
Liz Bullard writes at Crosscut that, in mid-October, the Seattle Parks department notified a playground for special-needs kids that they'd have to dismantle it, citing "extreme dangers" and "hazardous conditions."
You're thinking, Hmm, live wires flailing around? Razor-edged monkey bars?
These so-called liabilities consisted of a four-foot rope ladder, secured at its top and base, a simple tree swing suspended from a large cedar tree, and a unique nest made of thick rope and bicycle tires.
These simple play features may seem ordinary, but to our campers they are anything but. Here children with cerebral palsy, autism and developmental delays are encouraged and assisted as needed to climb and swing alongside their typically developing peers. The joy is palpable.
We complied with the order, but it has left a bitter taste in our mouths. Our kids have been robbed of the simple pleasure of climbing and swinging under a beautiful tree.
What we call the Wild Zone was designed to provide relief from the highly controlled and often hyper-medicalized world our kids move in. We are deeply unsettled and frustrated by their loss.
A private non-profit in in south central Seattle, the Seattle Children's PlayGarden is dedicated to providing children of all ages and abilities a safe, accessible and adventurous place to play away from therapy, doctor's offices, tutoring and school. Thousands of children have played here over the last nine years under the supervision of PlayGarden staff or a parent's watchful eye. There might even be a few lucky children who have played here free from any hovering adult.
None of them have been significantly injured -- not a sprain nor a fracture nor a serious wound among them.
The real injury comes from the Seattle Parks Department. But, unfortunately, bureaucrats are far harder to remove than a tire swing.
Tonight's "Science News You Can Use" Radio, 7-8pm PT: Amy Alkon & Dr. Jennifer Verdolin On The Evolutionary Psychology Of Looking Sexy
Join us tonight for a fun look at the science of attraction, and learn how to look hot to the people you want -- without becoming the indentured servant of some plastic surgeon until you're 90.
About the show: This is a very special every-other-Sunday-night show with science-based advice columnist and author Amy Alkon and animal behaviorist and author Dr. Jennifer Verdolin laying out science news you can use to solve your relationship problems or just improve your relationships and have a better life.
(And yes, I will still be doing shows on the best behavioral science books on weeks in between.)
Listen at this link at showtime (7-8pm PT, 10-11pm ET), or get the podcast here afterward:
And don't forget to buy our science-based, fun, funny, and illuminating books -- support our show while entertaining yourself and learning a thing or two to improve your life.
Amy's new book is "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck."
I Got A Little Busy Feeling Smug, And Then...
Don't forget what a great Christmas gift my book "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck", will make for all your asshole friends -- and all your well-mannered ones who enjoy a good read. (The above link is to Amazon; here's the one at Barnes and Noble.)
By the way, Library Journal gave the book a starred review: "Verdict: Solid psychology and a wealth of helpful knowledge and rapier wit fill these pages. Highly recommended."
Orders of the book (new only, not used!) help support my writing and keep me from eating out of a Dumpster. Yay!