Notes and Comment Blog

Our short and pithy observations on the passing scene as it relates to the mission of Butterflies and Wheels. Woolly-headed or razor-sharp comments in the media, anti-rationalist rhetoric in books or magazines or overheard on the bus, it’s all grist to our mill. And sometimes we will hold forth on the basis of no inspiration at all beyond what happens to occur to us.

You NEED to stop doing things to divide the community

Jul 19th, 2014 3:23 pm | By

Ha! So now they’re actually emailing PZ with this drivel – this “you allow no dissent / you are divisive” drivel that people mutter like a prayer in some rank places.

You seem to start arguments in the atheist community, which largely serve to divide the community and make it harder for us to get in a position to actually do something about the harm that religion causes humanity. You have people on other websites talking bad about other atheists and scientists in your name.

In MY name? That doesn’t even make sense. I’m a guy with a blog and a teaching position, with zero power and authority. I write what I think, and many people agree, and many disagree.

And what atheist community? You act as if there is some monolithic institution with a few rebels causing trouble. Atheism is a chaotic mess, with many communities within it. It seems to annoy some people that I don’t join with the libertarian, anti-feminist herd, but they never seem to consider that it takes two sides to make a rift.

Atheism is indeed a chaotic mess. That’s somehow comforting. We’re not messing up an otherwise tidy thing; we’re just staying out of the more rancid section of the chaotic mess.

More from PZ’s correspondents:

I am trying to be polite in this email but you seem to be starting a cult in your fan base. We all need to work together to make the world a better place. We won’t always agree 100% with everyone even in our little niche groups, if we do then that is a sign of something worse at work. I am not asking you to just go out and say “sorry I was a jerk” but you NEED to stop doing things to divide the community.

NOOOOOOO we don’t.

You might tell Jaclyn Glenn to stop dividing the community though. She’s planning to drop another divisive turd of a video day after tomorrow. There goes all our beautiful unity!

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Outside of the radical feminist nonsense

Jul 19th, 2014 12:20 pm | By

Also yay Jaclyn Glenn is promising yet another video attacking “radical feminists” yet again for all this “atheist infighting” that is apparently all their fault. Yay Jaclyn Glenn is putting an end to atheist infighting by attacking atheists who are also feminists.

Wait, what?


OK combining video ideas. One comprehensive video on atheist infighting should be out Monday. If there’s something you really want included outside of the radical feminist nonsense let me know!

She’s such a huge help! All this pesky atheist infighting will finally stop and die and be over, thanks to the way she keeps attacking what she calls “radical feminists.” If only someone had thought of that sooner!

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Amazing how exactly?

Jul 19th, 2014 11:57 am | By

Why I don’t love the “atheist community” chapter 782. A public Facebook post by “The Amazing Atheist” who is sadly unamazing. Jaclyn Glenn shared it in a public post of her own.


PZ Myers is a pile of shit in a man suit. So here he is attacking Jaclyn Glenn for daring to not identify as a feminist. That’s feminism for you: “Women can make any choice they want! Except the choice not to be feminists!”

His main argument is the Jaclyn’s video fails because she uses some comedic exaggeration in it that he feels distorts a position. Was the position distorted? I’ll let you guys watch the video and read PZ’s blog post and decide for yourselves.

Oh, and don’t bother trying to comment on PZ’s blog if you do disagree with him. Dissenting points of view are not tolerated there.

First, I notice I don’t call Jaclyn Glenn things comparable to “a pile of shit in a man suit.”

Second – yes, of course that’s feminism for you. Feminism is not anti-feminism – shock-horror! Yes, feminism considers Phyllis Schlafly for instance not a feminist. She can of course choose that, and she did, but that doesn’t mean feminism has to consider it feminist to “choose to” attack feminism. Anyway my feminism doesn’t rely on the claim that feminism=whatever choice any woman makes. Far from it. There are lots of choices that women can make that aren’t feminist.

Third there’s the worn-thin trope that “dissenting points of view are not tolerated” on PZ’s blog. Yeah that’s just bullshit.

So Glenn pursues her course of bashing feminists for being divisive. Hmm.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The chorus of leftwing women complaining

Jul 19th, 2014 10:10 am | By

Well we all know the rules. Women are either fuckworthy, or killworthy. There is nothing else. (Just this morning on Twitter someone called me “old superfluous prune” – meaning, I should be dead, because I’m too old and ugly to be still alive using up resources. Old ugly men are ok because men have multiple uses but old ugly women are not ok because women have only one use.)

Hadley Freeman considers one instantiation of this universal law.

You’ll be thrilled to know – and I’m sure May will be absolutely delighted to know – that this week a male writer for the Spectator officially declared her to be hot; hotter, even, than Jemima Khan, just in case you’ve ever found yourself flummoxed by this debate.

Congratulations, May! You’ve bested Harriet Harman, who was infamously deemed not hot in the Spectator by Rod Liddle in 2009, and even though Liddle has since admitted that piece might have been a bit de trop, that hasn’t stopped another sweaty Speccie writer from trying to rehash a similar furore all over again, while writing with one hand.

In case anyone is worried that all this chat about female politicians’ shaggability might be a little sexist, don’t worry! “I can just hear the chorus of leftwing women complaining that, here we go again – judging women in politics by their looks!” writes Cosmo Landesman, the Spectator’s Theresa May fan. “Well, actually, looks have nothing to do with it. By that criteria, I should be swooning over Jemima instead of drooling over Mrs May.”

Oh yes, we pesky crazy fanatical dogmatic (and no doubt ugly every one of us) women wanting to think we have more than one use. How silly can you get.

Anyway, well done to the Spectator’s priapic writers for capturing the zeitgeist this week. It just feels so right that a male journalist should take it upon himself to judge the shaggability of the home secretary, seeing as female politicians have just been reminded, once again, that whatever the size of their portfolios, all that actually matters is their appearance.

The Mail’s predictably demented coverage of the cabinet reshuffle has been widely mocked, with the paper getting frantically sticky-palmed over “thigh-flashing Esther McVey”. That the paper doesn’t talk about male MPs as though they are geishas being offered up to potential male customers is so obvious it hardly needs stating.

But the most telling detail is the way it described the female MPs as walking “the Downing Street catwalk”. Because in the deluded mindset of the Mail and many other media outlets, women exist to be looked at, and for their hotness to be judged accordingly, hence the paper’s insistence that women “flaunt” their legs (when they are in fact just walking) or that they are on a “catwalk” (when they are simply on their way to work.)

Well hurr hurr they thought they were just on their way to work but hurr hurr they were really taking their legs out for an airing because hurr hurr they’re women and legs lead to the bit with the hole hurr hurr.

But wait, you cry. Waddabboutdamenz?! Surely male politicians’ looks and fashion choices are discussed too, yeah? Indeed they are, strawman reader. But when a male politician’s looks and clothes are discussed, they are done so in regards to how statesmanlike he looks, how in-charge-of-the-red-button he seems – not whether some newspaper editor wants to give him one. And anyway, seeing as women are still – despite the talk of Manageddon this week – in the minority in American and British governments, any comparison between treatment meted out to them and male politicians by the press is, from the off, bogus.

So it’s bogus, so what?! It sells papers doesn’t it!


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

This? This is just a very heavy lunch box.

Jul 19th, 2014 8:17 am | By

So the Russian separatists are busily hiding and destroying all the evidence. If neutral parties show up and try to stop them doing that, they fire warning shots, and the neutral parties leave.

The OSCE was trying to gain access to one part of the large crash site but the commander of a rebel unit, known as Commander Glum, blocked them. After the warning shot, the OSCE convoy departed.

There is also confusion over the black boxes and other devices apparently salvaged from the plane. A rebel military commander initially said he was considering what to do with them, while another rebel leader, Aleksandr Borodai, contradicting his colleague, said the rebels had no black boxes or any other devices.

Black boxes? What black boxes? What’s a black box? We had a black box but it’s gone. We never had any black boxes. We have a bunch of black boxes and you can’t have them. We’re tired and emotional and don’t want to talk to you right now.

Other material on rebel social media sites was being deleted, including pictures showing the alleged capture of Buk missile vehicles by rebels from a Ukrainian air base last month.

Rebels said the boast on the social media site on Thursday that a plane had been shot down was not put up by them but by a sympathiser who mistakenly assumed it was a Ukrainian military plane that had been shot down. But in a separate posting a rebel leader also claimed that a plane had been brought down. “We warned you – do not fly in our sky,” he said. That too was removed.

A Nato intelligence specialist quoted by the military analysts Janes said the recordings “show that the Russian ‘helpers’ realise that they now have an international incident on their hands – and they probably also gave the order for separatists to erase all evidence – including those internet postings. It will be interesting to see if we ever find this Buk battery again or if someone now tries to dump it into a river.”

Buk battery? Oh no – this is just a toy we built for our children. No no this is a prop for an amateur war movie we’re making. God no, this old thing? It’s just something I picked up at the flea market last week.

Igor Sutyagin, a Russian military specialist at the London-based Royal United Services Institute, said he regarded the tape recordings as genuine, as well as postings on social media pointing the finger at pro-Russia separatists or Russia itself.

But getting evidence would be very difficult. He said: “A decision has been made on the Russian side to hide their tracks. It will be hard to find the battery.” Satellites might have been able to catch something, but the trail from the missile would have been very short, Sutyagin said.

It sounds as if a cover-up may well be successful.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Is it a little or a lot?

Jul 18th, 2014 5:29 pm | By

There was a pretty good Fresh Air yesterday based on a book, Trans Bodies, Trans Selves.

The new book Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is a collection of essays describing the varied experiences of transgender people — and the social, political and medical issues they face. It’s written by and for transgender and gender-nonconforming people.

The idea was inspired by the groundbreaking 1970s feminist health manual Our Bodies, Ourselves.

That book “was put together … by a group of women who … weren’t getting the care that they needed from what was mostly male physicians at the time,” the book’s editor, Laura Erickson-Schroth, tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “And so they put together this really radical book that included topics like abortion and rape and lesbian identity. And this was something that I thought we could duplicate — something that was written by and for trans people about all aspects of life.”

Sounds like a plan.

There is relatively new language within the transgender community, like “cisgender,” which means not transgender, says Jennifer Finney Boylan, who wrote the introduction to the book. Finney Boylan transitioned from male to female.

“It’s worth noting that it didn’t seem that this was a word that people knew we needed for a while,” Finney Boylan says. She’s a professor of English at Colby College and the author of several books, including Stuck in the Middle with You: Parenthood in Three Genders. She is now a writer-in-residence at Barnard College.

The book covers all ages, including a chapter about gender-nonconforming children written by Aidan Key. He’s the founder of the family education and support organization Gender Diversity and co-founder of Seattle’s Transgender Film Festival.

I was gender-nonconforming as a kid. (I still am, but now nobody yells at me about it.) (Well, except for harassers of course, but they don’t count.) I never ever ever wanted to wear skirts.

Key transitioned from female to male.

“I never felt female, and I don’t fully feel male,” he says. “And I’m not sure whether that’s my innate sense of myself or just because of … my socialized experience in life. But I do feel at peace and at ease with who I am, and when people ask me questions about my gender I say, ‘I’ve got a lot of it!’ “

I liked that line; it made me laugh. Is it a lot though, or is it a little? Not feeling fully either one seems like less gender rather than more. I don’t know – I’m always hesitant to talk about it because I really don’t know.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Before you have to slap her

Jul 18th, 2014 4:53 pm | By

And I’ve been trying to get to this all day. Honestly, Jaclyn Glenn and Dave Muscato between them have ruined my schedule.


Bill Maher @billmaher 23h

Dealing w/ Hamas is like dealing w/ a crazy woman who’s trying to kill u – u can only hold her wrists so long before you have to slap her

It’s so cool that the best way to talk about Hamas turns out to be to talk about hitting a woman. Hey, coincidence, Hamas like to hit women too!

It’s so cool that more than 26 hundred people have RTd that already and that there will be more.

It’s so cool that nearly 2 thousand people have favorited that.

It’s so cool that there’s just no fucking end to it. Ever.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)


Jul 18th, 2014 4:22 pm | By

I love it when people who have zero experience of a certain kind of prejudicial treatment, because they’re not in the category of person who gets that kind of prejudicial treatment, gets all contemptuously dismissive about that kind of prejudicial treatment. I just love it. It’s so clever, so thoughtful, so reasonable, so everything a mature intellectual and academic should be.


It’s brilliant, that’s what it is.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Guest post: The passion burns brighter

Jul 18th, 2014 3:50 pm | By

Originally a comment by Krasnaya Koshka on Feminist atheists are divisive!!1

When I was a Young White Lesbian, I fought for a lot of YWL shit. I had severe myopia. But I was, at least, fighting for something not already included in my everyday life.

Then I had a Black gf. Wow wow wow, there were a lot of things I’d never even had to consider before. Like, she would go into a motel near Disneyland and be turned down for a room. I would go in, with purple hair, and be given a key. We’d both, then, go to the front counter and just look at the clerk. Just look. WTF?

This video (I did watch it in its entirety) is embarrassing. For Jaclyn. It makes me think she’s never lived as a minority, at all. And, I will be ageist here, ahoy, she’s probably not run into any problems for being simply atheist.

She may coast the borders of being wholly acceptable her whole life and may never learn. I hope, for her, she does learn because the passion burns brighter and life is much better when you are actually fighting FOR something.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Remember why the good lord made your eyes

Jul 18th, 2014 3:14 pm | By

Another thing about that Facebook post of Jaclyn Glenn’s, that Dave Muscato admiringly posted on his own wall (and then took down along with all the comments) – she didn’t write most of it herself. She took it from a comment on her video (the Atheism + pussies one) and constructed her post around it, without saying so and thus without giving credit to the person who did write it. That’s pretty tacky.


First the comment by mikkj1:

While a lot of us hardcore atheists are subscribed to any number of vloggers, we’re not really the target demographic. We’re (they’re) trying to reach the undecideds, the a-curious. Each vlogger reaches, or speaks to, a different demographic. If Jaclyn can reach some that wouldn’t click on Thunderf00t or TheAmazingAtheist or CultofDusy, then good. With people who have been indoctrinated for the majority, if not all, of their lives, repetition is necessary. Also, this subject is not as infinitely variable as you might think, and videos are going to always be somewhat derivative. I’m not sure why you felt the need to post a criticism, but that’s your right. I suspect it’s for the same reason that your channel is full of anti-feminist videos, but that’s just supposition. Have a good one.

Now Glenn’s Facebook post:

While many “hardcore atheists” are subscribed to any number of vloggers, you’re not always the target demographic. I’m trying to reach the undecideds, the a-curious. Each vlogger reaches, or speaks to, a different demographic. If I can reach some that wouldn’t click on Thunderf00t or TheAmazingAtheist or CultofDusy, then great!

With people who have been indoctrinated- for the majority, if not all, of their lives, repetition is necessary. Also, this subject is not as infinitely variable as you might think, and videos are going to always be somewhat derivative. I’m always trying to do things in a creative way- either by humor, including guests on videos, doing skits, or singing songs.

Why do people find it necessary to say I’m unoriginal and only achieve success because of my gender or looks? I’m fine with *constructive* criticism, I appreciate it. But if you’re determined to hate me then just don’t watch my videos. I’m not Dawkins or Hitchens, and I’m not trying to be. I’m contributing in the best way I know how. If it doesn’t work for you, move on. The infighting within the atheist community is on my last nerve. We don’t always have to agree, but constant polarization is suffocating our voice. Divided we fall.

So that happened.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Big tent atheism

Jul 18th, 2014 11:52 am | By

Big big big tent. Room for all the atheists. Except feminists of course – feminists are shit, because they’re so divisive.

bigtent[Description: part of a page at the Richard Dawkins Foundation, promoting Jaclyn Glenn's latest video.]

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Do not tell me to stop fighting

Jul 18th, 2014 10:40 am | By

Also on Dave Muscato’s Facebook wall – a public Facebook post by Jaclyn Glenn:

While many “hardcore atheists” are subscribed to any number of vloggers, you’re not always the target demographic. I’m trying to reach the undecideds, the a-curious. Each vlogger reaches, or speaks to, a different demographic. If I can reach some that wouldn’t click on Thunderf00t or TheAmazingAtheist or CultofDusy, then great!

With people who have been indoctrinated- for the majority, if not all, of their lives, repetition is necessary. Also, this subject is not as infinitely variable as you might think, and videos are going to always be somewhat derivative. I’m always trying to do things in a creative way- either by humor, including guests on videos, doing skits, or singing songs.

Why do people find it necessary to say I’m unoriginal and only achieve success because of my gender or looks? I’m fine with *constructive* criticism, I appreciate it. But if you’re determined to hate me then just don’t watch my videos. I’m not Dawkins or Hitchens, and I’m not trying to be. I’m contributing in the best way I know how. If it doesn’t work for you, move on. The infighting within the atheist community is on my last nerve. We don’t always have to agree, but constant polarization is suffocating our voice. Divided we fall.

This bullshit about “the infighting within the atheist community” is just that: bullshit. It’s a popular trope, thanks to Thunderfoot and his many fans and allies, but Thunderfoot and his many allies themselves demonstrate what’s bullshit about it: they themselves are constantly fighting, in fact for many of them it’s the only subject. Many of them spend literally hours every day tweeting about it. Yes tweeting. Not even writing blog posts or Facebook posts, but just tweeting. If that’s not “infighting” I don’t know what is.

And Glenn herself of course is not above “infighting.” She’s doing it right now. She’s doing it in her latest video about “Atheism + pussies” (her blurb) and she’s doing it in this very post.

But also, even if we (we feminists, we “social justice warriors”) were the only ones fighting, so what? No, thank you, I don’t want an atheist or secularist movement that is determinedly and sustainedly contemptuous of women. I don’t want an atheist or secularist movement that is racist or homophobic or xenophobic. You can’t make me want a movement like that by putting on blonde wigs and shouting at me; it won’t work. I’ll still be an atheist and I’ll still write about it, but I won’t be part of your fucking “movement” if that’s what it’s like.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Feminist atheists are divisive!!1

Jul 18th, 2014 9:19 am | By

Oh hooray, Jaclyn Glenn has yet another video attacking feminists and feminism.

Even better, Dave Muscato, the PR guy for American Atheists, is energetically promoting it. Thanks, Dave!

Updating to add the intro to the vid:

Published on Jul 17, 2014
A video about Atheism+ and pussies. How appropriate. For those of you wondering- Atheism + is pretty much atheism plus radical feminism. This is my skit explaining my feelings on it ;)


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Salem canceled the contract

Jul 17th, 2014 6:11 pm | By

Way to deal with the post-Hobby Lobby US, Salem. (The witch thing is forgiven. It’s over. Done.)

Gordon College is a small Christian university that has publicly declared its desire to claim a special right to discriminate against LGBT students, staff, and faculty. Salem, Massachusetts, is a small progressive town with an LGBT non-discrimination ordinance. For years, Salem contracted with Gordon to manage its Old Town Hall. But when Gordon announced its desire to a special right to fire LGBT workers, Salem canceled the contract, finding that the university’s stated discriminatory intent directly violated the town’s non-discrimination ordinance.


Ah but that’s not all; that’s just step one.

After Glenn Beck’s The Blaze picked this story up, right-wing readers began calling Salem’s mayor, Kimberly Driscoll, treating her to angry and often offensive anti-gay tirades. In response, Driscoll doubled down: Rather than retract her decision, she declared that Salem would donate $5 to a local LGBT rights group for each seething call she received. Driscoll then shared her message on social media, encouraging everyone else to donate money to the group as well.

Yes!!! Every shitty call to the mayor just means more money for the LGBT rights group. The perfect revenge, and deterrent.

…if pluralism is truly about letting tolerant and intolerant people practice their beliefs unimpeded, then isn’t the Salem affair a perfect pluralist parable? Gordon College doesn’t like gay people; Salem does. Gordon demands the right to discriminate against gays; Salem, in response, tells Gordon: Do what you want on your own campus, but don’t inflict your prejudices on our public spaces. Gordon continues to discriminate on its own property; Salem continues to mandate equality. If that isn’t “allowing different understandings of social justice to be pursued simultaneously,” then I don’t know what is.

It doesn’t solve the contraceptive issue, of course, but it’s a nice move anyway.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

An intolerant and politicised form of extreme social conservatism

Jul 17th, 2014 5:21 pm | By

The Guardian discusses the report on Islamist infiltration of Birmingham schools.

A damning report into extremist infiltration of Birmingham schools has uncovered evidence of “coordinated, deliberate and sustained action to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamist ethos into some schools in the city”.

The conclusion emerges from a leaked draft of a report, commissioned by the former education secretary Michael Gove and written by Peter Clarke, the former head of the Metropolitan police’s counterterrorism command, which is due to be published in the next 24 hours.

Clarke said there was a “sustained and coordinated agenda to impose upon children in a number of Birmingham schools the segregationist attitudes and practices of a hardline and politicised strain of Sunni Islam”.

These are state schools, keep in mind, not private religious schools.

The uncompromising report may deepen community tensions in England’s second city and provoke a fierce debate on whether Britain has been sufficiently muscular in efforts to expose and uproot Islamism. It will also make uncomfortable reading for Birmingham city council as it accuses local politicians and officials of ignoring evidence of extremism for years, repeatedly failing to support bullied headteachers and putting the need to soothe community tensions ahead of all else.

Don’t go thinking it’s all Muslims on the side of the schools and everyone else on the other side – liberal secular Muslims are disgusted by this agenda and by people who are trying to cover it up or excuse it.

Last week Mark Rogers, the chief executive of Birmingham city council, said: “We’ve had to deal with a national political agenda that has deliberately conflated religious conservatism with an extremist agenda that is all to do with radicalisation and violent extremism.”

But why should state schools be shoving “religious conservatism” on children anyway? “Religious conservatism” means second-class status for girls, just for one thing. State schools shouldn’t be going anywhere near that.

Clarke’s report is backed up by graphic evidence, including social media exchanges between senior staff, and disagrees with the council’s previously expressed view, saying the offending ideology “manifests itself as the imposition of an aggressively separatist and intolerant agenda incompatible with full participation in a plural secular democracy”.

“Rejecting not only the secular and other religions, but also other strains of Islamic belief, it goes beyond the kind of social conservatism practiced in some faith schools which may be consistent with universal human rights and respectful of other communities. It appears to be a deliberate attempt to convert secular state schools into exclusive faith schools in all but name.”

“Essentially the ideology revealed by this investigation is an intolerant and politicised form of extreme social conservatism that claims to represent and ultimately seeks to control all Muslims. In its separatist assertions and attempts to subvert normal processes it amounts to what is often described as Islamism.”

Clarke’s investigation gained him access to transcripts of discussions on social media between senior figures at Park View Academy, one of the schools at the heart of the row. He asserts: “The all-male group discussions include explicit homophobia, highly offensive comments about British service personnel, a stated ambition to increase segregation at the school, disparagement of Muslims in sectors other than their own, scepticism about the truth of reports on the murder of [soldier] Lee Rigby and the Boston bombings, and a constant undercurrent of anti-western, anti-America and anti-Israel sentiment.”

In state schools. Not good. (Not good in private schools either, but those are…well, private, which complicates things.)

The report will be out tomorrow, I guess.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The choir invisible

Jul 17th, 2014 1:48 pm | By

Meanwhile, on the South Bank…

I wish to register a complaint! A giant dead parrot has been unveiled in London to mark the Monty Python live show’s TV broadcast:

Via Digital Spy on Facebook

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Guest post by Josh Spokes: This is not an in loco parentis relationship

Jul 17th, 2014 1:23 pm | By

Josh posted this on Facebook yesterday and I demanded permission to post it here and he gave in.

I don’t like the message, “Trust women to make their healthcare decisions,” many organizations are using. This is not about trust. The idea of “trust” has nothing to do with the anti-choice measures. It’s not that antis don’t “trust” women to “make the best decisions.” This is not an in loco parentis relationship where the antis genuinely have the best interests of their charges at heart.

1. Women are not their charges. 2. They don’t care about women being “trustworthy.” They don’t want women to have options. That’s it.

They want to take the ability away from women to have rights over their body. That’s it. That’s all. This “trust women” message concedes too much. There is NO situation in which the antis could “trust” a woman to “make the right decision.”

And it concedes illegitimate authority. Why are you asking authoritarians to “trust” women? Why are you *asking* them anything? This is typical liberal politics: concede things that shouldn’t be conceded, even rhetorically. Then act like being “nice” will work.

How do women feel about this? I can tell you I’d be fucking FURIOUS with a gay advocacy group saying to Republicans, “Trust gays to make the right decisions.” Words matter. Tone matters. Rhetorically conceding to an enemy an illegitimate form of power contributes to the very problem we fight.

Antis aren’t sitting around saying, “OK. I’ll trust her. If she’s really trustworthy and decides on an abortion, then I’m satisfied.” Come the fuck on.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

“I don’t fucking care if you like it.”

Jul 17th, 2014 1:17 pm | By

Now that’s how to say it. Rebecca Traister at the New Republic on that much-discussed much-disliked (for good reason) about that Esquire piece saying, with immense generosity, that not all 42-year-old women cause projectile vomiting on sight.

I thought the article was a piece of sexist tripe, celebrating a handful of Pilates-toned, famous, white-plus-Maya-Rudolph women as having improved on the apparently dismal aesthetics of previous generations; my primary objections to the piece have been ably laid out by other critics. Chait tweeted that he viewed the piece as a “mostly laudable” sign of progress: a critique not of earlier iterations of 42-year-old womanhood, but rather of the old sexist beauty standards that did not celebrate those women; he saw it as an acknowledgment of maturing male attitudes toward women’s value. 

Oh, goody; being told that not all 42-year-old women cause projectile vomiting on sight is such a huge gift to women; thank you for the favors. Traister is happy that she doesn’t feel any obligation to feel grateful for that kind of favor.

Instead, I’ve been thinking about an anecdote in Tina Fey’s Bossypants. Amy Poehler, then new to “Saturday Night Live,” was engaging in some loud and unladylike vulgarity in the writers’ room when the show’s then-star Jimmy Fallon jokingly told her to cut it out, saying, “It’s not cute! I don’t like it!” In Fey’s retelling, Poehler “went black in the eyes for a second, and wheeled around on him,” forcefully informing him: “I don’t fucking care if you like it.”

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. Just this week, the journalist Megan Carpentier wrote a piece about the evolving public appraisals of Hillary Clinton’s facial expressions that concluded with her suggestion that we get over the idea of 2014 being “the year of the strong female politician” and aim instead for “the year of the strong female politician who doesn’t give a fuck if you think she’s pretty.”

Because believe it or not there are other things women are interested in. Strange but true.

I suspect that a lot of this irritation over the small stuff right now is directly related to the fact that we’re mired in a moment at which lots and lots of women are not good*, for reasons far graver than anything having to do with Esquire, Jimmy Fallon, John Legend, or Hillary Clinton’s Bitchy Resting Face.

*not “good” meaning not “fine thanks without kind offers of tiny havors”

Jada’s story recalls too many otherrecentheadlines, but happens to have come out at the same time as last weekend’s lengthy New York Timesinvestigation of Hobart & William Smith’s handling of charges that football players sexually assaulted a freshman girl. The Times story was about a lot of thingsdifferences between campus and police investigations, a heightened public awareness about the frequency of coerced or violent sexual encounters on college campuses. But at its heart, it was a story about how women are assessed: by disciplinary committees, police departments, their friends, the public, and by the people they identify as their assailants. It was about how female availability and consent and intoxication are appraised based on how women look, dance, dress, and act, even when those appraisals are at odds with medical evidence, eyewitness accounts, inconsistent stories from accused parties, and certainly with the woman’s own interpretation of her experience or intentions.

This comfort with group assessment of femininity in turn reminds me of the ease with which women’s choices regarding their bodies, futures, health, sex, and family life are up for public evaluation. Women are labeled as good or bad, as moral or immoral, by major religions and “closely held corporations,” whose rights to allow those estimations to dictate their corporate obligations are upheld over the rights of the women themselves by high courts.

It has lately been made perfectly clear, for example, that while in many places women should not be allowedand increasingly are not allowedto run their own independent calculations about whether or not to get abortions, other people, unspecified people standing outside clinics, should be allowedare now allowedto get in those women’s faces and publicly render their judgments and voice their opinions about those women and their circumstances.

One way to put it is that women are treated as public property in a way that men are not.

I wish it were different. I wish that every woman whose actions and worth are parsed and restricted, congratulated and condemned in this country might just once get to wheel aroundon the committee that doesn’t believe their medically corroborated story of assault, or on the protesters who tell them that termination is a sin they will regret, or on the boss who tells them he doesn’t believe in their sexual choices, or on the mid-fifties man who congratulates them, or himself, on finding them appealing deep into their dotageand go black in the eyes and say, “I don’t fucking care if you like it.”

Which leads nicely into a guest post by Josh.



(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

On whether she is, in fact, a mother first

Jul 17th, 2014 12:29 pm | By

From the Onion:

LINCOLN, NE—Loudly demanding an immediate statement on the issue, Nebraska voters clamored this week for more information from female politician Elaine Romero, an Omaha businesswoman running in the state’s upcoming gubernatorial primary election, on whether she is, in fact, a mother first. “Elaine Romero has made her stance on the social and economic issues facing Nebraskans abundantly clear, but we will not rest until she states clearly and on the record whether she is a mom first and foremost, and a politician second,” local resident Martin McGlynn said on behalf of 1.9 million restless Nebraskans, all of whom were vehemently pressing for answers on whether the 45-year-old public servant prioritizes her family above all else, considers her three children to be her proudest accomplishment, and—most crucially—sees her role as a mother as her most important job.

There’s more. It’s funny, but not funny.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

There are limits on what democrats “must” accept

Jul 17th, 2014 11:54 am | By

Sometimes there’s a conflict between the majority will and human rights. That’s one reason there’s a need for such things as high courts and international courts: to adjudicate between them.

It can be alarming when legislators seem to be blankly unaware of this. Commonplace, but alarming.

Today in Ireland for instance.

Tanaiste Joan Burton has ruled out an abortion referendum being held in the lifetime of this Government.

Ms Burton was responding to an impassioned plea from Independent TD Catherine Murphy who said many women were suffering needlessly because the law on termination of pregnancy on medical grounds was too restrictive.

Deputy Murphy said the referendum to safeguard the right to life of the unborn child was voted in 1983 and the country had changed a lot in the 31 years since then.

“Tanaiste we need a referendum to change this,” Ms Murphy told the Dail.

The Tanaiste said both she and her party had urged rejection of the abortion amendment in 1983.

But she said as democrats everyone must accept the will of the people.

Not true. Suppose the will of the people is that all children of unmarried parents must be imprisoned from birth to the age of 18, as so many such children were in Ireland until very very recently? Is it true that democrats “must” accept that? No. It would be a gross violation of the rights of those children and of their parents, as it was in Ireland and elsewhere for many decades.

Also, Michael Nugent points outthe UN Human Rights Committee has just told Ireland that that argument is “totally unacceptable.”

…just this Tuesday, in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Committee had told Ireland that this was a “totally unacceptable” reason to deny Irish women their right to an abortion consistently with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The UN Human Rights Committee told Ireland that human rights cannot be denied by a majority vote in Parliament or in a referendum, and that the whole point of international human rights law is to avoid the tyranny of the majority.

The UN told Ireland to withdraw that argument as a reason for denying Irish women abortions, and after a break in the session, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald did withdraw it. She accepted that “the will of the people” was not a justified reason to derogate from giving people their human rights under the ICCPR.

You know what else isn’t? The will of the bishops. Just saying.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)