Archive for the ‘Feminism’ Category

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Pussygate

October 8, 2016

This is an amazing day, watching the Republican Party descend into chaos. By the time I’m done writing this, Trump may have been forced out. WHY? Over this? And isn’t it deliciously ironic that the GOP might kick Trump off the ticket because he said things that aren’t politically correct?

Don’t get me wrong – when I heard Trump saying that he can get away with whatever he wants with women – kissing them uninvited, grabbing them by the pussy – because he’s a star, I wanted to vomit. I was disgusted by his sense of entitlement to women’s bodies. I was horrified that he obviously thought he was being hilarious when he was describing sexual assault. And I was saddened because, yeah. He’s not wrong. Our society absolutely lets celebrities get away with sexual assault (just ask Bill Cosby). The audio file repulsed me – but I wasn’t the least bit surprised.

The reaction from the press and from the Republican stalwarts that they are shocked – shocked! – that Donald Trump is a misogynist piece of shit is a bit too much to swallow. C’mon, people. Donald Trump has made it very clear that he sees women only as sex objects. He ranks us all from 1 to 10. He appeared in a Playboy video ogling twin playmates. He cruelly demeans women he finds unattractive. You’ve seen him in footage, leering at 19 year old pageant participants, or on his reality tv show, making lewd jokes at the expense of the female contestants. You’ve heard and seen him with Don Imus and Howard Stern, being crude and vile and entitled, describing the threat of STDs as his “personal Vietnam.” For goodness sake, we’ve all even seen the clips (multiple) of him saying that he would date Ivanka if he weren’t married, and he weren’t her father (in that order). You’ve seen the snippet where Robin Leach asked him how his daughter Tiffany – then ONE YEAR OLD – was like her mother, and he says that this baby has Marla’s legs. (“We don’t know whether or not she’s got ‘this part’ yet, but time will tell.”)

This is a man who sees women, ALL women – including his daughters, EVEN WHEN THEY WERE BABIES – as sexual objects. Of course he feels entitled to grab, kiss, and take women. That is how rape culture works. When you see women as objects, and not as actual people, it’s easy.

Yesterday, one after another, the party faithful expressed their disgust at this new, entirely predictable revelation. Today, the endorsements are being pulled, Pence is in hiding, and the party leaders are scrambling to force Trump out, even though it’s far too late to take him off the ballot. So back to the question at hand – why was this the tipping point? He has always been a pig; this is not news. But rats flee a sinking ship, and Trump is going to lose. If he had held his own in the debate, if he were polling even, they’d still be solidly supporting him, shrugging this off as old news, and just boys being boys. The reality that Trump is lewd and vile and lecherous, as well as racist, ignorant, and fascist, and Putin’s stooge, and quite likely mentally ill, was all somehow acceptable to the GOP. Republican leaders are abandoning Trump now because they finally realized he’s going to lose. And losing? That is unforgivable.

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Distracting Tim Hunt

June 15, 2015

My response to the Tim Hunt debacle….

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Taco & Beer Challenge

September 19, 2014

I’m hoping I can get back into blogging; fingers crossed. In the meantime, I made this:

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Happy International Women’s Day!

March 8, 2013

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Women got the right to vote in the United States in 1920.

Middle class women joined the US workforce in huge numbers during World War II.

But true feminism, with the understanding of equal rights and equal dignity, did not come until the 1960s, until women were well and truly able to control when and if they would have children.

Reproductive rights are the foundation of women’s rights. Any attack on reproductive freedom is an attack on the rights and dignity of women. Period. You cannot deny access to birth control without denying women’s rights. You cannot mandate ultrasounds without attacking women’s dignity. The only way our daughters and granddaughters can have real choices about the lives they want to lead and the sort of women they want to become is for reproductive rights to move forward, never back.

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… the Courage to Change the Things They Can

February 11, 2013

Like most Catholics, I was stunned this morning by the news that Benedict XVI has announced his resignation and will soon retire to the medieval woodcut from whence he came….

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All kidding aside, I applaud Benedict for having the courage to take this step. As modern medicine prolongs our lives far past our vigor, anyone in a lifetime appointment should be open to retirement; still, power is hard to walk away from. God bless Benedict for making this difficult choice, and may he have a long and peaceful life in which to read and pray and relax.

That out of the way, what on earth is the Church going to do? (FAIR WARNING: I’m departing from my usual political bent here and speaking purely as a Catholic who struggles everyday with the tension between my faith and my abhorrence for the institution.) The cardinals are being given another chance to do this right, to move the church decisively towards either obsolescence or vitality. My gut tells me that political power-games and fear of the unknown will drive the church further right, towards a zealous fundamentalist nihilism… but maybe not. I don’t believe God can simply change the minds of men who don’t want to hear Him – but I do believe that these Cardinals will be praying, a LOT, and that if they are truly open to listening, we might just get a daring charismatic modern pope who can lead a vibrant church in our shared faith. I hope I hope I hope.

It won’t be an easy task. The Catholic Church is mangled on the racks of two very different, very sick sets of twisted ideas. The first is the deluded belief that admitting mistakes would end the church’s authority. There are many many people high up in this institution who feel that acknowledging sins and errors would weaken the church. As result, horrific abuses have been buried, ignored, painted over, in the name of preserving the church. Whether it’s altar boys in Boston or unwed mothers in Ireland, entirely too many innocent people have suffered at the hands of the clergy. If the church were willing to be transparent, to denounce these abuses quickly, to work with civil authorities, it would be so much more credible than it is in its “La-La-La I-Can’t-HEAR-You!” stance.

Admitting mistakes shouldn’t end with the abuses done in the church’s name (though it should start there). The church desperately needs to fundamentally rethink its stance on pretty much everything to do with sex. How can an institution that refuses to hear from women – or even from married men – possibly get these issues right?

You can leave your hat on - the Bishop is a FREAK for vagina-hats....

You can leave your hat on – the Bishop is a FREAK for vagina-hats….

This is the second massive stumbling block that has to be addressed before the church can be relevant or credible again. The church’s attitude toward sexuality is the product of two thousand years of perverted understanding of human nature (thanks St. Paul! And thanks, every single church leader who came later and didn’t set this straight!). How can we hope the church will ever recognize the validity – even sanctity – of homosexual love, when it can’t even comprehend the role of sex within heterosexual marriage? By pretending that human sexuality is only for procreation, the church twists what it means that we are made in God’s “image and likeness.” Sexuality is inherent in each one of us, and expresses itself differently in each one of us throughout our lives. It’s part of our identity, how we relate to one another and the greater world. It gives us shelter from the storm, and allows us to communicate far beyond mere words. It is essential to what makes us human, to what makes us children of God. And yet the church has suggested, time and again, that sexuality is at best a necessary evil, at worst, a sign of our depravity.

Really, the slippery slope DOESN'T necessarily lead here. I promise.

Really, the slippery slope DOESN’T necessarily lead here. I promise.

It seems like an incredibly long shot, but the right leadership could still turn this around. We could start to acknowledge that sexuality is part of the divinity in us. Maybe then the church can move past its fear of women, fear of gays, and fear of the human condition; maybe then it will get past its medieval preoccupation with sex, and focus on the true message of Christ – caring for the poor, the sick, and the least of us, moving into a new millenium with a healthy understanding of our shared humanity. Besides, Pope Simone has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

 

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Of Crazy Bitches and Empty Vessels

January 21, 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen: the  single most misogynistic statement of our time:*

You actually don’t need context to understand how appalling that is (though this is a great source if you want it). You don’t need to know that Betsy Andrea is the wife of one of Armstrong’s former teammates, or that she has maintained for years that she heard Armstrong tell a doctor that he used performance enhancing drugs, or that Armstrong retaliated by trying to destroy her credibility and end her husband’s career in cycling. You don’t need to know that she was labeled a bitter, vindictive psycho just because she wouldn’t lie for him. Even without knowing who the hell Lance Armstrong is, that is some pure-grain misogyny right there. It’s textbook:

  • Yeah, I did call her crazy – Sure, I admit that I suggested she was irrational, unhinged, emotional, not to be trusted. Yeah, I attacked her intelligence and her understanding of the world around her. So? Doesn’t every guy who has conflict with a woman call her out for being psycho? So what if I implied that nothing she says or feels is valid, because it comes from her disordered, fevered imagination? Chicks, man. They’re nuts.
  • Yes, I called her a bitch – Yeah, I said she was vindictive, cruel, mean, petty, and selfish. I suggested that she’s emotionally deficient, cold, despicable, a castrating shrew, a nag, a scold, an ice-queen. BITCHES, amiright?
  • But I never called her FAT – So it’s okay! I mean, I know I said she was insane, and a terrible human being, but it’s not like I said she isn’t conventionally attractive! That would be mean, I would never attack her like that! I’m a nice guy!
Betsy

Betsy Andrea is Not Impressed

Watching that clip, it’s obvious that smirking jerkface Lance Armstrong is being a complete douchebag here, and it would be easy to dismiss this simply as a terrible person being terrible. It goes beyond that, though – “crazy bitch” is far too common in our culture; it’s our favorite way of dismissing inconvenient women. It bears mentioning, too, because Betsy Andrea calmly and rationally asserted that Armstrong doped, for years. Even though it seems transparent now, for years the media happily bought into – and perpetuated – the slander that she was just some “crazy bitch.” (I’m sure it’s no consolation to her that if the media ever said she was fat, well, that didn’t come from Armstrong, who obviously thinks that’s the worst thing he could say about a person woman.)

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You know who was neither fat nor a crazy bitch? Lennay Kekua. This story has been everywhere; examined from countless angles. Jezebel and Feministing both did a great job pointing out the hypocrisy of the media being all over Manti Te’o’s imaginary girlfriend’s imaginary death, while largely ignoring the very real suicide of a very real woman who was raped by a Notre Dame football player. Still, for all the coverage this scandal has generated, I haven’t seen any discussion of how sexist the whole construct of Lennay Kekua was in the first place.

The media bought this story unquestioningly – Lennay was held up as Manti Te’o’s inspiration, her death as a heartwarming reminder of the power of love. Lennay Kekua was beautiful. She was devoted. She was so in love with Manti that she didn’t need his comfort, his company, or his time – no, as she lay dying of cancer, all she wanted was for Manti to win football games. Apparently, no one found it odd that he was the love of her life, but she never asked him to be at her side.

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Photographs of women are so much less demanding than the real thing…

Fake Lennay fake died in September – months after the fake car wreck which led to the fake discovery of her fake cancer. Their inspirational love and her tragic death were the subject of countless news stories: on ESPN’s College GameDay, Fox Sports, and CBS, in Sports Illustrated and the New York Times, the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times… and yet the truth only came out last week, ten days after Manti’s football season ended. Te’o’s knowledge about the details of his girlfriend’s life was often murky, including her majors in school, occupation and extent of her injuries after an alleged April 28 car accident with a drunk driver.” Why didn’t that set off alarm bells with reporters? All this media around him, all these outlets repeating this heart-warming story, but even while she was “alive” no one needed to talk to her – and after her tragic (fake) death, it seems no news outlet  tried to get a fuller picture of this woman.

After all, who cared what she did for a living, or majored in in school? That was all beside the point. Lennay Kekua had been the perfect girlfriend: a beautiful empty vessel whose only concern was that her boyfriend succeed. She was as undemanding in death as she was in life, telling Manti to skip her funeral so that he wouldn’t miss any football games. She didn’t have messy emotional needs, or thorny contradictory ideas, or passionate competing dreams of her own… because Lennay Kekua didn’t exist. Conveniently, not existing made her the feminine ideal. After all, imaginary girlfriends are never fat, crazy bitches.

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*Excluding every single thing Rush Limbaugh has ever said about women, of course.

(I hope that this will be a resumption of regular blogging. Lord knows there’s been enough happening politically to keep me busy writing outraged entries daily, but my post-election crash ran into the holidays which ran into illness which went straight on through to a much busier new year. I think I’ve got it under control, at last.)