Saturday, February 25, 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Weird Enough For You Yet? That Would Be Santorum.

Rick Santorum doesn't like higher education. That's not at all surprising if you place him in the twelfth century where he belongs. But it's still fascinating that he is quite open about the reasons for it. Those reasons are very much the same as the reasons the Taliban has for opposing education for girls (to force people live the way a particular group wants them to), but Santorum hides them better:
Texas - Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said Thursday that President Obama wants more young adults to go to college so they can undergo "indoctrination" to a secular world view.

In an hour-long interview with conservative television host Glenn Beck, Santorum also defended his record on abortion and his vote in favor of President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind education law.

On the president's efforts to boost college attendance, Santorum said, "I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely ... The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country."

He claimed that "62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it," but declined to cite a source for the figure. And he floated the idea of requiring universities that receive public funds have "intellectual diversity" on campus.
Hmm. What does he mean by "intellectual diversity?" Affirmative action for conservative thinkers or religious fundamentalist thinkers? Affirmative action for Marxists?

Little Rick is afraid of criticism and analysis, methinks. Because that's what colleges ideally teach to their students.

I can't see how they could be seen as indoctrination mills. Some kind of brainwashing? Caused by the droning on and on by a professor and the very long reading lists? And the need to write term papers?

That's all fun and games. But Santorum's anti-education arguments are pretty bad news in this "new globalized economy" (as the conservative economists celebrate it) where the US has no special edge in low worker costs or large labor forces. Education matters more than it did in the past.

Unless our Ricky wants to make the US competitive as a low-wage country, his approach is extremely odd. Theocratic, I'd say.

Danica Patrick. Racing as Female.

In this video ‪Fox5 San Diego sports anchor ‪Ross Shimabuku‬ seems to be calling the racer Danica Patrick a bitch:

Or some other b-word. Bastard? Probably a bitch, yeah. Shimabuku later sorta apologized.

But he didn't apologize for the gist of his evaluation of Patrick which boils down to "she is sexy and knows it." What he might really means is that Patrick's sexiness is used commercially to her advantage and that this is unfair to male racing drivers. Though of course nothing would stop any racing driver from using his sexiness or good looks in promotions.

Shimabuku is probably a sexist. I'm leaving in that "probably" because I don't know his utterances well enough. It may be that he always calls racing drivers bastards or idiots or bitches and complains about how they use their looks or their personal lives or whatever to get publicity.

Still, it's pretty hilarious for him to make those statements while working for Fox News. Fox is famous for demanding Barbie-doll standards from the women on screen while the guys can look like anything from your worst nightmares and still be acceptable.

This double-standard exists to draw the maximum number of viewers, with the understanding that Republican men want to see tit-and-leg if they have to endure wimmin in their television news.

But that double-standard is pretty bad from a feminist point of view, not only because it means that women will have short careers in television. As the Barbie looks fade so does the career. And not only because requiring exquisite looks (on top of all the other qualifications) from only women is clearly discrimination, but largely because demanding that women are eye-candy so very easily turns into assuming that this is all the women on television are.

I don't know enough about Danica Patrick's publicity campaigns in general but I suspect that her looks are used in those campaigns, for the same reasons Fox News does that sort of thing. It would be better if this was not the case, especially in a field where women are still rare.

Because generalizations to the whole gender are most likely to happen in such circumstances. But then, of course, getting any kind of attention in traditionally male sports (or perhaps traditionally male music) may appear to require that selling-of-the-looks approach for women. That's a real Catch-22.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Something Funny Happened in Kansas

Where the Republican governor Sam Brownback and the Republicans in the Kansas House are competing with each other on the honor to tax poor people more while giving everyone else tax breaks:
House GOP leaders' original plan would have given all taxpayers a break, and was an alternative to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's income tax proposal. But now, under both the amended House GOP plan and the governor's proposal, the only group of taxpayers that would see a collective increase in their income taxes would be those with adjusted gross incomes of $25,000 or less.
The House GOP plan is less aggressive in cutting tax rates and helping businesses than Brownback's plan, and it scales back a tax credit for poor workers, rather than eliminate it, as the governor proposed. Also, the plan keeps other income tax credits and deductions that Brownback said he would eliminate.
House Minority Leader Paul Davis said he hopes O'Neal and GOP leaders will rethink the bill's impact.
It's not a funny-ha-ha story, naturally. But it's funny given the increasing income inequality in this country and the drive towards the United Banana States of America. The rich are doing quite well already, the poor not so much. But the Republicans want to help the rich more!

Good News From Virginia. Or Fighting Back Matters.

First good news:
A bill that would define life as starting at conception is dead for this year in Virginia.
The Senate voted 24-14 Thursday to send the so-called "personhood" bill back to committee and carry it over to 2013.
Senate Republican Leader Tommy Norment of James City County made the motion to shelve the bill, saying more study is needed.
It will be back, of course. But it was not passed this year because of the resistance.

Second good news, from a few days ago about that resistance:
The Virginia House of Delegates again today decided to put off voting on the Senate's version of a bill to require women seeking an abortion to first undergo medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds. They also let the vote "pass by" yesterday, with a more than a thousand demonstrators lined up in a silent protest outside.
And the outcome:
The committee earlier approved a bill requiring pre-abortion external ultrasound exams. It was amended to eliminate ultrasounds requiring an invasive ultrasound probe.
The external ultrasounds are medically unnecessary, too. But this is still a victory and a direct consequence of people fighting back.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chickens, Chicks. Who Cares? It's All About Who Owns Those Eggs.

Today's hilarious story, via Digby:
Agriculture Committee passes anti-abortion measures

Illinois women who want to get abortions might be required to either view an ultrasound before the procedure or decline to do so in writing, under proposals that passed an Illinois House committee Tuesday.


Rep. Deborah Mell, a Chicago Democrat, was one of the two members voting against the bills and criticized the assignment to a committee that generally handles farming issues.
"We're not talking about abortions for cows and pigs, right? We're talking about women?" she said.
The Agriculture Committee is dominated by downstate conservatives, and by assigning the bills there Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan assured the measures would be heard by sympathetic legislators.

And it's in the Agricultural Committee that the sympathetic (hairy?) ears are when it comes to eggs and milk in general, including those some of us believe belong to women.

I think this is bitterly funny. It reveals such a humongous disrespect of women and nobody even bothers to try to disguise it as something else than pure contempt.

Apropos on that cows=women business, Pierce wrote an interesting post about the history of the Catholic policies towards contraception. It's well worth reading but the bit I saved (serendipity!) was this:
That's what produced Rick Santorum — a 20-year effort to develop Roman Catholics who could talk like Southern Baptists, bonded as both groups were now by their twisted views of human sexuality, and by their desire to re-establish control over what American women can do with their bodies. It is an alliance of powerful convenience. It has as much to do with religion as it has to do with agriculture. It has as much to do with the Gospels as it has to do with the Collected Works of Ludwig von Mises. Jesus wept.
Bolds are mine.

Good News From Virginia. And Not So Good News From Georgia.

The transvaginal probe appears to have trouble getting approved in abortion counseling in the state of Virginia. The governor seems to be backing off from signing the bill:
Gov. Bob McDonnell this afternoon said he opposes requiring Virginia women to undergo a mandatory transvaginal ultrasound before having an abortion.
Having reviewed the current proposal: "I believe there is no need to direct by statute that further invasive ultrasound procedures be done," the governor said in a statement.
"Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state. No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure."
McDonnell said he has recommended to the General Assembly a series of amendments to the bill "to explicitly state that no woman in Virginia will have to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound involuntarily."
"I am asking the General Assembly to state in this legislation that only a transabdominal, or external, ultrasound will be required to satisfy the requirements to determine gestational age," McDonnell says in the statement. "Should a doctor determine that another form of ultrasound may be necessary to provide the necessary images and information that will be an issue for the doctor and the patient. The government will have no role in that medical decision," it reads. 
McDonnell has tempered his earlier support for the ultrasound measure.
In late January, he said on a radio show that "to be able to have that information before making what most people would say is a very important, serious, life-changing decision I think is appropriate."

Right opinions now though for the wrong reason. The lesson to be taken home from all this is that speaking out and being active can work when fighting against those who would socialize all wombs in this country.

So take a moment or two to feel pleased before reading the rest of this post.

In Georgia, the moles working on the foundations of women's independence have been busy:
This afternoon, the House Judiciary (Non-Civil) Committee will take up HB 954, a measure that would prohibit abortions on women who are more than 20 weeks pregnant. Current law prohibits abortions after the second trimester, or about 24 weeks.
The bill sponsored by Doug McKillip, R-Athens, asserts that 20 weeks is the point at which a fetus can begin to feel pain. The measure also attempts to tighten “life of the mother” exceptions to abortion:
No such condition shall be deemed to exist if it is based on a diagnosis or claim of a mental or emotional condition of the pregnant woman or that the pregnant woman will purposefully engage in conduct which she intends to result in her death or in substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.
No medical abortion for the mentally ill or the severely depressed! And certainly no medical abortion for any slut who would consider killing herself just to murder the unborn real person inside her!

I get the reason for such amendments by this person called Doug who will never have to face the scenarios he likes to determine, I do. It's to remove any and all "lifestyle convenience" excuses from abortion. But consider the cruelty of this person called Doug. Consider the way he places himself in the role of a god. Consider how he is willing to allow a suicide rather than an abortion, even though the former kills two, in his view. It's about punishing the sluts.

Now for the lovely part:
In response, House Democrats have scheduled a 3 p.m. Wednesday hearing at the state Capitol, to propose a bill that would ban Georgia males from seeking vasectomies. From the press release:
“Thousands of children are deprived of birth in this state every year because of the lack of state regulation over vasectomies,” said Rep. Yasmin Neal, author of the bill. “It is patently unfair that men can avoid unwanted fatherhood by presuming that their judgment over such matters is more valid than the judgment of the General Assembly, while women’s ability to decide is constantly up for debate throughout the United States.”

Honorary Sons. It Pays.

I was sent a link to this UK rant about women. It's by one of the women whom I call honorary sons in this post.

They annoy me, for obvious reasons. Well, if they are not obvious ones, the major reason is that a woman cannot condemn the whole of her own sex without condemning herself but somehow that doesn't seem to occur to the honorary sons.

The second one is that these women are doing what they do as substitute misogynists, for men who would get told off for hating on women. Women, however, can hate on women in public. This is because the common error in thinking that women can't be misogynists even if the society tells us that misogyny is quite all right, just a way to blow off steam and to crack jokes.

The third one has to do with the fact that the misogyny of women appears more fact-based than the misogyny of men. After all, they are women so they should know!

But by far the strongest reason why the honorary sons annoy me is that they have chosen the low-cost well-paying option in the war against women! They have almost nothing to lose and much to gain!

They get paid well for their nasty opinions on women, whereas feminists mostly do not. Women, on the whole (despite that audience reaction in the video) don't bombard the honorary sons with death threats for their perfidy, whereas feminists do get death threats and Internet harassment from misogynists of all stripes. It's safe to attack women!

And as I mentioned, the money looks good from this side of the aisle. Each and every topic about women gives one honorary son (at least) a job spouting out there. For some odd reason the almost-invisible feminists must be balanced by a large number of honorary sons in public debates. The debate on women's perfidy is of a completely different type from the debates we have on ethnicity or race, by the way.

Then there's the whole logical inconsistency in the sermons of the honorary sons: If women shouldn't be in the public sector at all, what are they doing there? Who gave them that special dispensation from their flawed genitals? Who raised them up there with the Real Sons? Why should we listen to them when women are not worth listening to?

Finally, they will get to share every benefit feminists have fought to get them, including the right to be on television foaming about the horrible ickiness of their own gender, while never ceasing to fight against those advances.

This is why their occupational choice is such a low-cost high-yield alternative. And so unethical, especially if the honorary son is not a real misogynist but just plays one on television. If she is a real misogynist then I pity her for what must be going on inside her brain.

But in either case, all the honorary sons should voluntarily relinquish everything that feminism has won for them. They should not vote, they should not have well-paid jobs and they should not speak in public. Then they would annoy me less.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Defiant Hair! On Michelle Duggar's Tips For All Subjugated Wives.

Did you know that women can have defiant hair* or obedient hair? Some types of hair just scream feminism and uprisings and rebellions against the godly husband's rule and must be avoided at all cost in Christian fundamentalist patriarchal marriages, such as the one the television stars Duggars have. They also have nineteen children and counting, as the program tells us.

Michelle Duggar has come out with a set of wifely tips for a happy marriage. They are wonderful and equally applicable to living (for a short time) with a hungry tiger or as an indentured servant to a real narcissistic knuckle-head. You can find the original handout at the bottom of this post.

The tips are what one might expect. A wife will destroy her husband's manliness by breathing too loudly because Christian fundamentalist manliness is more fragile than an eggshell.

Maintaining that egg requires that the wife not work outside the home, that she accepts his leadership in all things, that she never argues back, that she never refuses his physical advances and that she doesn't have defiant hair.

I can't get over that defiant hair. I bet I have terrorist hair.
*Braids decorated with the husband's knuckle bones? Medea-like tentacles reaching out to his throat?

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Two Faces of Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum has the most open mind of the late twelfth century. He disapproves of education outside the home because wives are to do that. He disapproves of women working outside the home and he disapproves of contraception because it allows wives to work outside the home. He believes that global climate change is a hoax.

You have all learned that. But what you may not be equally aware of are Rick's Attila-the-Hun values when it comes to Real Politics, not just stomping on women. In that arena anything goes according to our Ricky! Want to exploit the poor? Go ahead! Want to hand over all power to multinational corporations? Great idea!

But want to regulate markets? NEVAH! Rich people should pay more taxes? OVAH Rick's dead corpse! And so on and so on.

Isn't that astonishing? The Bible is pretty explicit on the perfidy of those who would oppress others in the marketplace. But Rick reads his Bible most selectively. It's almost as if it was a book about the taming of the shrew.

Marriage in Trouble. Pay Attention To The Framing.

A few days ago the New York Times published an article on the demise of marriage. It was to be expected, given Charles Murray's recent book, never mind that Murray is the go-to-guy on the inherent stupidity of the minorities, women and now all poor people.

The NYT article uses Murray's framing albeit in a nicer dress and with a better makeup. This is how it begins:
It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal. After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.
Once largely limited to poor women and minorities, motherhood without marriage has settled deeply into middle America. The fastest growth in the last two decades has occurred among white women in their 20s who have some college education but no four-year degree, according to Child Trends, a Washington research group that analyzed government data.
Among mothers of all ages, a majority — 59 percent in 2009 — are married when they have children. But the surge of births outside marriage among younger women — nearly two-thirds of children in the United States are born to mothers under 30 — is both a symbol of the transforming family and a hint of coming generational change.
One group still largely resists the trend: college graduates, who overwhelmingly marry before having children. That is turning family structure into a new class divide, with the economic and social rewards of marriage increasingly reserved for people with the most education.

Careful reading pays here. The title of the piece is "For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage." What have we altogether eradicated?

Men and fatherhood. Poof! It's gone! And every person interviewed in the piece is a woman. To write about heterosexual marriage without interviewing one single man should come across as weird. That's leaving out half the people all this should concern.

Once men are left out this way we cannot ask what they think of the issue. They have been erased. They have no say in the question of marriage and their behavior has nothing to do with the rate at which people get married, stay married or have children outside marriage.

I understand that the piece is explicitly written about women. But one should not leap from women to marriage and that is what the piece does. It also implies that the reasons for the increase in births outside marriage are only women's reasons and that ultimately the "blame" for the apparent demise of marriage also belongs to women.

Writing about "marriage in trouble" is not something I can do in a short blog post. What do we mean by "marriage?" What are the expected roles of the partners? When someone writes about "marriage" does that person really mean a traditional patriarchal hierarchical marriage with a male breadwinner-boss and a female helpmeet at home? If "marriage" is the best environment for children to grow up in, what kind of "marriage?" An unhappy one? The traditional arrangement? An egalitarian marriage?

If the partners live together for decades and have children together without getting formally married, is this not marriage in the relevant sense? After all, the article states:
Almost all of the rise in nonmarital births has occurred among couples living together. While in some countries such relationships endure at rates that resemble marriages, in the United States they are more than twice as likely to dissolve than marriages. In a summary of research, Pamela Smock and Fiona Rose Greenland, both of the University of Michigan, reported that two-thirds of couples living together split up by the time their child turned 10.
Would formal marriage stop those couples from separating? In other words, in what direction does the causality run in the United States?

Such difficulties crop up when we try to analyze the reasons why the contractual arrangement "marriage" might be in trouble. What is it that makes it less common than in the past? The article hints at the idea that women in the past "had to" get married because of few alternatives to surviving without it. Is this what we should bring back? What is the role of men in "marriage?" Just a source of income? The manager of the whole enterprise? An active participant in child-rearing?

As I said, all this requires many more pages than a blog allows. But certain hints can be dug out from that NYT piece:
Among mothers of all ages, a majority — 59 percent in 2009 — are married when they have children. But the surge of births outside marriage among younger women — nearly two-thirds of children in the United States are born to mothers under 30 — is both a symbol of the transforming family and a hint of coming generational change.
One group still largely resists the trend: college graduates, who overwhelmingly marry before having children. That is turning family structure into a new class divide, with the economic and social rewards of marriage increasingly reserved for people with the most education.
“Marriage has become a luxury good,” said Frank Furstenberg, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania.


Money helps explain why well-educated Americans still marry at high rates: they can offer each other more financial support, and hire others to do chores that prompt conflict. But some researchers argue that educated men have also been quicker than their blue-collar peers to give women equal authority. “They are more willing to play the partner role,” said Sara McLanahan, a Princeton sociologist.

Yes, money does help. It protects people against external shocks and greases the wheels of life. I once read that the top two reasons given for divorce are arguments about money and arguments about the division of household chores, both of which make me think about the patriarchal marriage arrangement and so on.

But if money was the only difference between marriage rates and the prevalence of unhappy marriages across social classes, then wouldn't we expect to see single parenthood higher among the more educated people? This is the group which can more easily afford to have a child without a partner, the group which can afford to hire help if needed, the group which can afford high child maintenance payments.

Something else must be going on.

McLanahan's theory might be worth pursuing. My own guess is that it is the traditional patriarchal marriage which is in particular trouble when combined with reduced real incomes for men, after years of outsourcing of jobs and the increased income inequality in this country.

In my more optimistic moments I regard this era as the transition to a new more egalitarian marriage/cohabitation and the troubles we see as the pains of that transition, the myths of patriarchal marriage hanging on even after they have become obsolete.

But people like Charles Murray of course wish to revive the patriarchal marriage by telling us about the horrors which will occur without it. Hence the need to pay attention to those who use his framing.

Virginia Is For Leavers. Or On Political Activity.

That "Virginia Is For Leavers" is a quip on the old tourist slogan about "Virginia Is For Lovers" and also because I'm too much of a coward to write "Virginia Is For Rapists." So.

But the whole "forced vaginal ultrasound probe for all sluts who seek abortion" debacle has not only turned over that rock under which these kinds of creepy-crawlies wriggle:
The clumsy way in which conservatives have attempted to defend the legislation hasn’t helped. Economics professor Tyler Cowen’s tweet (“All of a sudden requiring consumers to be informed is extremely unpopular on ‘the pro-regulation side.’”) generated richly deserved outrage. And tea party favorite Dana Loesch took the position that once a women loses her virginity, she gives up the right to determine what should penetrate her vagina for the rest of her life.

It has also increased the awareness of the fact that We Are At War and that war is against women. My unscientific forays into the real world suggest that even apolitical people are getting angry at the Talibanish basic drives of the Republican Party. The linked article notes that 55% of Virginians are opposed to the vaginal penetration probe thingy.