If It’s Tuesday I Must Be Whining


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton works from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya, 18 October 2011. (Kevin Lamarque/Associated Press)

Microcosmic: As Rachel Maddow asks Michael Beschloss his opinion on campaign norms―e.g., releasing tax returns―it occurs to me that we are quite possibly witnessing a microiteration of a problematic thumbnail sketch: If achieved, then change standard.

As Maddow asked, what about the future? And that would approximately make sense: Hillary Clinton is about to be elected president of the United States of America. We’ve already decided that everything else in her career is just that much more volatile and alarming and inappropriate than any man who came before her, repeatedly suggesting with each iteration that we will, in fact, attempt to change the rules in order to forestall certain outcomes.

For instance, who remembers the One-Drop Rule? Was there nothing incongruous or untoward about the proposition that we finally laid the One-Drop Rule to rest when Barack Obama was elected? Okay, that’s not fair; we lynched the One-Drop Rule and then put the corpse in whiteface: If Barack Obama is one-drop white, we haven’t yet elected our first black president.

Remind me all you want that it didn’t work; I’ll just shrug and wonder why we bothered trying.

Still, though, if we call off the customary tax return release? It’s easy enough to expect the ritual to survive Donald Trump, but we’ve seen this happen before. No, really, did you know that politicians were never supposed to get paid for public speaking when they weren’t in office? Apparently this has always been the rule, and Hillary Clinton just wasn’t smart enough to know. And since her predecessors didn’t really use the private email systems that they actually did, Secretary Clinton should have known that behaving like her predecessors was forbidden; I mean, it’s not like we suddenly invented this standard that what she did was unacceptable out of thin air just because she’s Hillary freakin’ Clinton, right? It’s not like we didn’t care when it was anyone else and then just decide to care because some scandalmongering political opponents decided to pretend something entirely ahistorical and―you know, since it’s “Her”―well, yeah, why not, sounds great. Sorry, I guess that’s just a distraction, isn’t it? Because while we’re spinning pay for play fancies because transparency means we can, the only reason we don’t care about the idea of pay for play through Colin Powell’s foundation, while he was Secretary of State, is because he’s Colin Powell, not Hillary Clinton, so that sort of thing could never, ever happen.

Nor is it just about girls, though it’s true in this case it kind of is. But the underlying principle of schoolyard socialization dynamics includes a function whereby a bellwether among the despised might achieve a threshold of respectability, and the communal response is to alter the threshold in order to maintain exclusion. That is to say, some kids will simply never be allowed by their peers to be cool; it’s a general bully principle, because without it the list of people bullies are allowed to treat poorly pretty much crumbles to dust in the wind.

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Image note: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton works from a desk inside a C-17 military plane 18 October 2011. (Kevin Lamarque/Associated Press)

Maddow, Rachel. “Historic debate could reset campaign norms”. msnbc. 27 September 2016.

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Men Should Probably Ask the Men’s Rights Movement to Please Stop


“This is something I’ve always suspected about men’s rights activists, but it’s satisfying to see those suspicions turn out to be true.”

Paul Constant

Sigh.

Yes, really.

Keep reading:

The “vast majority” of college women lie about being raped. Men are violent because of their mothers. Feminists are plotting to dominate men.

One thing was ringingly clear among attendees at the first-annual International Conference on Men’s Issues in St. Clair Shores this weekend: Women are becoming an increasing threat and something must be done to stop them.

(Neavling)

Among the sights and sounds Steve Neavling witnessed were denunciations of rape accusations as “buyer’s remorse”, lamentations that, “There’s no stress defense for hitting your wife”, and even lowering the age of consent to thirteen so unwitting men don’t get into trouble for making a “mistake of age”. Janet Bloomfield explained to the conference attendees, “The point being that it can be incredibly difficult to know, just by looking at someone, how old they are”.

Meanwhile, male is the new black Negro, and I have no idea what to tell anyone about Lee DeVito’s astounding account of sexual harassment at ICMI.

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Constant, Paul. “There Are Fewer Men’s Rights Activists Than You Fear, but Those Few Activists Are Exactly as Terrible as You Think”. Slog. 2 July 2014.

Neavling, Steve. “8 ugly observations about conference on men’s rights in metro Detroit “. Motor City Muckraker. 29 June 2014.

DeVito, Lee. “I was molested at the Men’s Rights Conference”. Metro Times. 27 June 2014.

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!

Continue reading

Michael Reagan’s defense of fast food and putting women in their place


It is not so much that we should leave humor to the comedians. We all make jokes. Laughter, as the trite saying goes, is the best medicine; especially if you laugh yourself into injury. Maybe you hear something on the radio and drive the car into a telephone pole while cracking up. Perhaps you catch something on television, and laugh so hard you fall off the couch and gash your forehead on the coffee table. Or maybe you read an article on the internet and double over in agonizing amusement until you pull a muscle.

Okay, so it’s not that funny, but here’s the thing: Politics in America is a nasty business, and some people resent this. Many of them, of course, are perfectly willing to support their own brand of nastiness while condemining others. Sometimes this is justified. Wit, after all, is a bit more civilized than punching someone’s teeth. And, probably, a little less unhealthy to the wit than the fist.

Still, though, while our political cycles often play out amid a cacophony of disgusted and derisive laughter, sometimes genuine humor arises. In 2010, we had Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle, to say the least. Or that Nazi celebrant from the midwest. Or the DA in Colorado who had a rape accusation and a rape confession, but decided to not press charges because it was obviously a case of buyer’s remorse.

I know, I know, I’m only picking on one side of the aisle right now. Fine, to be fair, we can all chuckle at the fact that Sen. Harry Reid survived his re-election bid, but that only brings the Democratic side of the aisle back to Sharron Angle.

In 2008, it was Sarah Palin.

I even remember in 1996, when President Clinton stuck his foot in his mouth about some cheap rap song by Sistah Souljah, Republican candidate Sen. Bob Dole came to his rescue by saying if he was president, he would outlaw that kind of music. I mean, c’mon, Bob: Before we can even argue about whether you can legislate like that, tell us, just how exactly would you destroy, evade, or otherwise overcome that nasty little thorn in your side called the First Amendment?

Yet none of these people are the issue for the moment. Rather, let us turn to Michael Reagan, son of the late former president, Saint Ronald:

We are rapidly becoming a nation whose distaff leadership is allowing radical feminists to redefine the role of motherhood.

Our moms are being all but ostracized by a raging cadre of radical feminists should they dare to consider cooking for their families to be a major part of their traditional role as wives and mothers.

Continue reading

An amusing “conspiracy” theory


While I may not agree with every detail of her construction, Tina Dupuy offers up a long-overdue theory to the political arena:

It seems everybody gets their own pet conspiracy these days: Birthers, Birchers, Deathers, Truthers and whatever you call the people who won’t get their kids inoculated. According to the theories, nothing is as it seems and everyone is in on it. Following this reasonable assumption, I’ve come up with my own. Here it is: former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, RNC Chairman Michael Steele and Congressman Paul Ryan from Wisconsin are all Democratic plants.

The rest of the article pretty much spells out the theory, and as conspiracy theories go, it’s probably less crazy than Truther conspiracies, and clearly less insane than Birthers. Continue reading

Background sexism


Online degrees make you sexy?Perhaps the phrase background sexism seems a misnomer to some, but here’s the thing: While many of us—including men—would claim feminist sympathies in our outlook, it seems that a woman’s value is all too often integrally linked to her sex appeal.

Consider the image at right. While there is always something to be said for aesthetics in advertising, there are other forms of beauty—both generally in nature and specifically about women—that are not sexual. Yet advertising appeals to sexuality because marketing data suggests that doing so is somehow effective.

What, then, does this say about the people who compose the marketplace? Would the advertisement be nearly as effective if, instead of a “hot” woman, the spot used a buff, handsome man?

After all, what is a sexy man? The buff, clean, handsome man is often associated with gay appeal, and there is often a sort of Janet Weiss thing among women: “I don’t like a man with too many muscles.”

So what is sexy among males? Emo? Intellectual? Savvy? Archetypal physical specimen? What is the generic male equivalent of the “hot chick”?

Men can be successful or desirable according to a fairly diverse array of standards, but there persists, front and center in the culture, the necessity of a woman’s sex appeal. And perhaps front and center is a strange place to find background sexism, but more often than not, even those of us who would pronounce our feminist sympathies either look past the hot woman in the advertisement, or simply play along.