Friday, January 09, 2004

No Doesn't Mean No?

Atrios links to two worried men's articles on the question of proving that rape has taken place.
The National Review's James Bowman pines for the old days when:

Pre-feminist common sense suggested that a woman who comes alone to a man's hotel room late at night has already consented to sex with him.

and Gregg Estabrook is similarly concerned about how to interpret women's fuzzy signals of sexual willingness or not:

Because men know this--because in the real world "no" does not always mean no--speaking the word "no" is not the ideal way to communicate to a man that what is happening has changed from persuasion, or pressure, to compulsion. Men not only want sex, the male mindset holds that overcoming the woman's "no" is part of manliness. Few men will rape if that's what they think they are doing. Many try to push past "no" and tell themselves that what they are doing is manly persuasion of the naturally hesitant female. "Had we but world enough, and time/this coyness, lady, were no crime:" Andrew Marvel, circa 1650.
There has to be a better way than the word "no" to communicate to the man that he has crossed the line, and that better way must be widely agreed upon. Here's my proposal: If the line is crossed, women should say, "This is rape!"

So in the real world "no" does not always mean no, according to these gentlemen. Where does it then? According to Bowman, this place is the courts:

No means no — even though no one else hears it, even though everyone knows that it may mean yes — because feminists want to reserve to women the right and freedom to be indiscrete (sic).

What's a guy to do (Bowman and Estabrook seem to say)? It's manly to push past the 'no', but then you get sued for rape. Those darned feminists have really spoiled the sexual games, haven't they?

My suggestion for these two: Accept the 'no' for a no. Then if she really didn't mean it, she'll be the one missing all the goodies and won't make the same mistake again. In fact, she might be the one cajoling you next time, trying to forcibly push past your nos. And you didn't rape anybody by accident.

Otherwise I quite like Bowman's idea about the prefeminist rules: Anyone entering my hotel room has consented to sex with me! Room service waiters, cleaning staff, people I've invited in for a business meeting. Yeah! Life is sweet for us goddesses....

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Rara Avis, Part III (Laura Schlessinger)

I really have to make the effort to blog about somebody sane and fairly nice. But not yet! Today I want to talk about our Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the beloved radio prophet and advice giver to the right-wing female hordes as to how to keep their husbands happy, their closets clean and the gays and lesbians firmly locked away in the same closets. She's not really a curious bird, though it does boggle the mind how a doctorate in physiology makes her qualified to give psychological advice. Maybe 'physiology' sounds enough like 'psychiatry'?

She sees herself fully qualified by the fact that she has committed all the female sins she now preaches against: she divorced her first husband, engaged in premarital sex and actively sought a professional career. She still has a professional career, though, which she uses to rant against other women with professional careers.

Your average conservative talk-show star, perhaps, but there are deeper levels to Laura. For one, she's an interesting example of a female woman-hater. This is a fascinating thing to be, especially when there appears to be no lack of simultaneous self-adoration. How does she do it? And why? It probably has something to do with her unsatisfactory relationship with her mother. Still, it's bit of a stretch to seek vengeance on the whole female half of the species just because she didn't like her mother.

As evidence of her misogyny, I present Dr. Laura's new book, titled The Care and Feeding of Husbands. In it she gives women the keys to the secrets of a happy marriage. These have already been handed out in Marabel Morgan's Total Woman (1975), but just to summarize, this is what the Publishers Weekly review says about Laura's book:

...this controversial marriage and family therapist claims that every woman can achieve a deeply satisfying marriage if she adheres to certain fundamentals men require. Preparing dinner, caring for the children without complaint, greeting her husband with a kiss and engaging in sexual intimacy instead of "tearing down a husband's necessary sense of strength and importance" can result in the harmonious marriage women crave.

Dr. Laura also suggests that wives should not withhold sex. As one reader review so aptly noted:

I've read several criticisms of Dr Laura's position that it is a wife needs to meet her husband's sexual needs even when she's not in the mood. Dr Laura compares it to how irresponsible it would be for a husband to not go to work just because he's too tired or doesn't feel like it.

So now we know. Sex is wives' work!

And what do women get for following all this sage advice? Is there going to be a book titled The Care and Feeding of the Wife which men can leaf through to find the secret formula for women's happiness in marriage? No! See what happened when she was asked this very same question in an interview:

Are you going to write the book for men on the proper care and feeding of wives?

Nope. Men are born of women and between girlfriends and then a wife; men spend their entire lives in the tutelage of women. What women accept or reject is largely the guiding force for what men will and won't do. When they are treated with the Three A's, they naturally, and in gratitude and affection, give their women the attention, regard, respect, support and love they want.

The three A's referred to in this quote are affection, approval and appreciation. Nothing wrong in arguing that these are important characteristics of happy marriages. But what is odd is that women must learn to show their affection, approval and appreciation by such concrete acts as cooking, childcare and sex, while men just seem to 'know' how to show their affection, approval and appreciation. But only after women learn their lesson.

I don't buy this, and neither does Dr. Laura, really. She writes this book for women because men wouldn't buy such books. So it's all about money, as one might expect. The book won't work, and in a few years she can write another money-maker for the submarket of unhappy conservative wives. Nice work if you can get it.

Though The Care and Feeding of Husbands is a treatise based on woman-hating, there is something more to it; a tinge of contempt towards men, starting with the title which reminds me of a how-to-book in animal care. Dr. Laura may tell women how to be properly submissive, but she is telling this in the disguise of female power:

Women seem not to understand, or underestimate, the profound power they have over their husbands. Men are very emotionally dependent upon women from the day they are born to the day they expire. This book teaches women to use this power benevolently – which will definitely result in them being happier with life and love. (From the book.)

This whiff of misandry is strengthened when one learns that men are very simple creatures:

All through the book you say "men are simple" ... isn't that an insult?

Not at all! In fact, most all of the many hundreds of responses I received from men in preparing this book confirmed just that: "Men are only interested in two things: If I'm not horny, make me a sandwich," and "As a man, I can tell you our needs are simple. We want to be fed, we want our kids mothered, and we want lovin'."

Though not comparable in intensity to her misogynistic messages, I'd go as far as to say that Dr. Laura doesn't much care for men, either. In fact, it seems that Dr. Laura finds everybody quite lacking, with the possible exception of herself.

And what does she try to achieve with this book, other than the obvious increases in her stock market investments? I suspect that she seeks male approval, the comforting lap of daddy when mommy doesn't understand. Will she get it? I doubt it very much. Here's one man's comments on the book's author:

And for all her talk about the joys of domesticity and motherhood, she is principally identifiable as a psychologist, author, and talk-show hostess. How much time did she actually spent (sic) raising her family?

Besides, she's a black-belt in karate, and athletically-inclined females have terminal penis-envy. They are not bastions of pro-male sentiment.

Poor Laura, perhaps. Though not at all compared to the troubled callers in her shows and the worried readers of her books. It is they that deserve our real compassion and pity.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Getting into College: Echidne's Tips

Legacy admissions to college have been in the news again:

Blood ties to alumni, sometimes known as the other affirmative action, are the deciding factor in the admission of more than 300 white Texas A&M University freshmen annually, according to data provided by the school.
Such students -- known as "legacy admits" -- equal roughly the overall total of blacks admitted to A&M each year. Only a handful of black students a year are admitted because of legacy points.
A&M's program is drawing particular fire because university President Robert Gates recently announced the university, now free from a court ruling prohibiting racial preferences, won't consider race in admissions. Coleman and other black legislators cited a seeming contradiction between Gates' rhetoric that students be admitted strictly because of merit and a program they say perpetuates class distinction and white advantage.
Gates, president for 1 1/2 years, said he doesn't have a gut-level feeling about legacies, much less a thought-out one, because he inherited the program and knows little about it. He said a task force will study its future.

If Texas A&M President Robert Gates actually said that students should be admitted strictly because of merit, he is either going to revolutionize the admissions policies of American colleges or coin completely novel definitions of the term 'merit'. College admissions have never been based on strict merit. Factors such as family wealth, alumni status, geographic location and skills in playing some sport totally unrelated to the purpose of a university education have always had an effect on the applicants' chances of a place in the freshman year class. But none of these issues has provoked anywhere near the anger about lack of merit as racial preferential treatment in college admissions. It's not just fair, many seem to think. Students should be admitted on the basis of their merit, not because of their skin color. Even George W. Bush implied this in his
comments about last year's University of Michigan affirmative action case:

At the law school, some minority students are admitted to meet percentage targets while other applicants with higher grades and better scores are passed over. This means that students are being selected or rejected based primarily on the color of their skin. The motivation for such an admissions policy may be very good, but its result is discrimination and that discrimination is wrong.

Is it then fair to admit students largely based on where their parents went to school? Or based on how much their parents have stashed away? Or based on the location of their homes? If this is fair, why is using skin color less fair? In all these cases it could be that some student of greater academic merit, some student who has worked better and burned the midnight oil longer, some student with the potential of finding the cure for cancer, may have been denied admission because some other student was given preferential treatment.

In my experience, this is how most opponents of racial affirmative action view its effects. Yet they are strangely silent about the other affirmative action programs, or if they comment on them, they merely point out the rationale for doing these kinds of things : of course colleges want to favor alumni children, after all, their parents are a major source of funds, of course colleges wish to attract students from all sorts of geographical locations in order to create a diverse student body. Or they point out that discrimination on the basis of these other factors: wealth, blood ties and location is not illegal, but discrimination on the basis of race is. Or they argue that the numbers involved in the other affirmative action programs are too small to really make a difference.

But of course the racial preferences in admissions also have a rationale: to create a more equal society, and the numbers of the beneficiaries from these other policies are by no means inconsiderable. As an example, in last year's freshman class at Duke University, 18% of the students entered through the program for underrepresented minorities, 12% through the alumni program, 8% were recruited as athletes and 3-5% as potential donors (i.e. rich kids). Though some students may have entered through more than one program and many of these students might have qualified for unassisted admissions, the fact remains that at Duke the other affirmative action programs cover a larger percentage of freshmen than race-based affirmative action itself. So why the furor over one and not the others, at least among those currently in government? Might it have something to do with the race of the beneficiaries? After all, most alumni children are still white and so are overwhelmingly the students with very wealthy parents? And though many student athletes are black many are not. This couldn't be the answer, could it?

Think about the following exchange of opinions by the lawyers representing the two sides in the University of Michigan case:

"What does legacy preference do to advance fairness and merit?" asks Theodore M. Shaw, a lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., who represents 17 minority high-school students granted defendant status in the suit against the university. "Why is it more defensible than an attempt to include people from minority groups that have been excluded in the past and are still under-represented?"
The reply from the white students' lawyer, Michael Rosman: "Because some small percentage of white students are getting legacy preference, that doesn't mean we should disadvantage all whites" with racial preferences.

Michael Rosman appears to think that racial preferences disadvantage whites but that legacy preferences don't. But surely they do; they disadvantage all whites who are not lucky enough to have had parents, grandparents or siblings who went to the same college. Rosman appears to see the races as two competing armies, fighting a war for the same reward: a place at college, not as consisting of individuals which can indeed be harmed by preferencial treatment given to 'one of their own'.

The most fascinating and least talked about in the group of these other affirmative action programs are the potential donors. These are students with very wealthy parents. Duke University finds them as follows:

Duke's system works this way: Through its own network and names given by trustees, alumni and others, the development office identifies about 500 likely applicants with rich or powerful nonalumni parents. It offers them campus tours and admissions advice and relays the names to the admissions office.
The development office then trims the list to at least 160 high-priority applicants. Admissions readers evaluate them on merit, without regard to family wealth. About 30 to 40 are accepted, the others tentatively rejected or wait-listed. Mr. Guttentag and John Piva Jr., senior vice president for development, debate these 120 cases, weighing their family's likely contribution against their academic shortcomings. Most are admitted.
Once these children of privilege enroll, the development office enlists their parents as donors and fund raisers. A committee of more than 200 nonalumni parents provides a volunteer army for the four classes currently at Duke. Committee members usually give at least $1,000 to Duke, and the eight co-chairmen and the national chairman contribute more, sometimes six- or seven-figure sums.
Membership in the parents' committee is by invitation only and is overwhelmingly white.

Hmmm. My tips about how to get into the college of your choice if you're worried about your grades and test results not being quite up to the expected standards: 1. Get rich parents.
2. Make them attend the right universities. 3. Have them buy a house in some God-forsaken locality where nobody ever goes to college. Voila! You're in. This is a lot more likely to work than belonging to a racial minority. It's also totally unrelated to any merit attributable to the studen't own work.

Postscript 1/11/04: Texas A&M just announced that they are going to scrap legacy admissions.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Stupid Quote Of The Day

Or that's what I think:

Mike van Winkle, the spokesman for the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center told the Oakland Tribune, "You can make an easy kind of a link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that's being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that protest. You can almost argue that a protest against that is a terrorist act."

From here

Monday's Dog Blogging

Hi, everybody!

How am I supposed to blog with paws as fat as tennis rackets? Anyway, I'm a dog. I like to run, chase balls and roll in stuff that smells promising. I'm not very smart, but I'm a pedigreed Lab and a real jock. I live with all these snakes which is ok except that they don't like their tails being pulled at all.

This last year was really tough. First they raised the dog tax and then they started enforcing the leash laws. But I gave them the finger! Or the paw. So that wasn't too bad. Catch me if you can!

But then this snakewoman I live with took me to the DENTIST! Just because I played with some rocks and the long bits that stick out in my mouth fell off. Let me tell you that wasn't fun at all. No sir. I tried to bite the guy but they stuck a needle in my butt and that was curtains for me. Now I have fillings which is very embarassing in the dogpark. I had to whip couple of terriers into submission. They just wouldn't stop grinning.

And then I have to live with this bitch! She's older than me, like eleven, and she's the boss.
Whenever I steal her bone she puts me down and humps my head. So I lie there thinking:"You just wait, you. I'll get you one day. When I get my karate training complete."
But somehow she can always anticipate my moves. The snakewoman says that the bitch
is the real Einstein of the dogworld and I'm the Schwartzenegger. I don't get it: Ahnuld is
a boy and I'm a girl, aren't I? (HAHHAH! Bet you thought the bitch was the snakewoman!)

I hope next year will be better. I don't care if it's the election year, after all I'm just a Canadian! (HAHHAH! Bet you thought I was going to say just a dog!)

So that's all. Got to go out to sort out the squirrels. Seeya!


Sunday, January 04, 2004

Cats and Dogs

This is just for fun, for those of you who plan to stay in your PJs all Sunday long. Armed with your favorite beverage and breakfast dish, check out the blog of Barney, the First Dog. A very smart dog he is, Barney.

If this isn't enough canine humor for you, I recommend weiner dog races.

And for cat lovers, there's this. Make sure that you have the sound turned up.
Thanks fo ms. posters for the last two.