A Note to Lindy West: You’re Not Helping


Humor: A Public Scourge?Poor Lindy West.

No, no. It’s just that as much as I sympathize with feminist issues, her whine—along with the rest of society’s apparent shock and horror—about Seth MacFarlane’s performance as host of the Oscars just doesn’t sit right.

West’s rant at Jezebel, titled, “Sexism Fatigue: When Seth MacFarlane Is a Complete Ass and You Don’t Even Notice”, is the sort of thing that really doesn’t help anyone or anything:

A strange thing happened on Sunday night when I watched Seth MacFarlane joke that Zero Dark Thirty is a movie about how bitches be naggin’, and listened to him croon about how lovely Jodie Foster’s naked boobs looked mid-simulated-gang-rape. I felt…nothing. Just nothing. Nothing beyond exhaustion and an extreme desire for wine, anyway. I wasn’t happy about it, but compared to what I was expecting from MacFarlane, it was a yawn. Compared to the sheer volume of hate and misogyny I filter every day for my job, it was a sneeze.

So I wrote happy jokes about other stuff instead. I bowed out, essentially. And I was thrilled to read and disseminate smart takedowns of MacFarlane’s primetime misogyny on Monday morning, letting other people do the heavy lifting that I was too fatigued to engage with. Because this fatigue—it’s really something.

My struggle as a feminist and a critic isn’t to contain my outrage—it’s to remind myself to feel anything at all.

This fatigue is self-induced. There’s no other way to put it: You’re doing it to yourself, Lindy!

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For the rights of organs everywhere ….


    “When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body.”

    Mary Sue McClurkin

Alabama Republican Party logoCan we skip the litany and just note that 2012 was a strikingly bad year for conservatives in the War of the Lady Parts? It’s a depressing review, to be certain. Unfortunately, 2013 is off to a bad start for the social conservatives, who are apparently quite happy to continue the trend of refusing to make any sense.

A big hint dropped last month when a two year-old court filing emerged in which a Catholic hospital turned the Church’s longstanding fetal personhood argument upside down, giving the impression that money is more important than life. The Church hierarchy has since reiterated its life-at-conception stance, and repudiated the filing, but the damage is done.

This month the personhood argument takes another hit from the anti-abortion crowd as the Alabama legislature works to pass a new TRAP law aimed at making pregnancy termination services more difficult to provide and receive. Arguing in support of HB 57, state Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin (R-Pelham) explained:

“When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body,” McClurkin said in an interview Thursday. “That’s a big thing. That’s a big surgery. You don’t have any other organs in your body that are bigger than that.”

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Notes on political correctness


A question that seems to arise frequently in my circles is whether or not the idea of political correctness is inherently evil. Perhaps I need new circles.

The thing about political correctness is that it is just a form of polite discourse. And some people resent any sense of obligation toward being polite.

Jen Sorenson, Slowpoke, 2005Viewed through a hostile critique, political correctness is simply a modern term for euphemism.

Most men can recall learning all sorts of nifty words, for instance, denoting women’s breasts. Titties, gazangas, melons, rack, and so on. But in my youth, if the question of a women’s breast size came up in the presence of elders, one might speak in terms of endowment. Large breasts were described as “well-endowed”. I would not, at age twelve, have used the phrase “mondo gazangas” in the presence of my grandmother. It’s not some yoke of social slavery, but, rather, being polite according to the company I was in, and also avoiding a distracting family scandal.

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Scratch this


A thought arose of late when considering a recent Italian court decision that apparently makes it illegal for a man to scratch or adjust himself in public.

The Italian ruling clubs together all forms of “crotch-scratching”— prompted by discomfort or by superstition — as offensive. Certain actions are considered inappropriate for public viewing. They not only offend the “average man” — a useful alibi for legislators — but also taint the sanctity of the public sphere. The issues raised by the Italian ruling go beyond the obvious question of violating an individual’s right to touch himself. Suddenly, this behaviour becomes as suspect as a range of other ‘uncivil’ activities — spitting, peeing or bathing on the streets — which would be severely condemned in any Western society ….

…. There is nothing inherently dangerous about crotch-scratching. Unlike spitting or peeing publicly, it does not ‘pollute’ in any physical sense. It is rather like a moment of unconscious intimacy with oneself, like biting fingernails or tugging at one’s hair. The West remains unmoved by unabashed public display of sexual affection, but is perturbed by a superstitious habit.

The Italian legislation is the outcome of a history of sensibilities that is unmistakably Western. These sensibilities have been formed as much by increased awareness of civic norms as by a heightened self-consciousness (as in the flatulent woman on the plane). It is unlikely that India will ever have a law that forbids men to touch their privates in public (in which case, every second man would have to be fined by the minute.)

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