Monday, January 31, 2011

Quote of the Day

"Pink or blue? Which is intended for boys and which for girls? ... There has been a great diversity of opinion on this subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy; while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl."

-The Infants' Department: A Monthly Magazine of Merchandising Helps for the Infants' Wear Buyer, 1918

In other news, I somehow got sucked into that HowStuffWorks website. Specifically, the "How Men Work" and the "How Women Work" articles.


For me, since the articles mostly emphasized how men and women supposedly do and do not differ from one another, the big take-away was that the articles are less How Men And Women "Work," and more How Some Men and Women Might Differ From One Another (Or Then Again Might Not, Depending Upon Whether Certain Evolutionary Psychology Theories Are True And How Much Bell Curve Overlap Exists In Any Given Set Of Measured Characteristics That Are Nonetheless Usually Presented As Discrete Male and Female Traits).

But other than that, yeah, totally informative.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fannie's Helpful Hints

Every day on my way home from work I see a parked SUV with a bumper sticker advertising that its owner is an "Orgasm Donor."

Every day, when I see that, I think, "If you feel compelled to advertise that message, you're probably not."

That's all.

I know, deep thoughts.

Talk about whatever you want in the comments.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

And Another Thing! An Anti-Feminist Rant

Another hater of feminism has succeeeded in exposing, primarily, his ignorance of that which he hates. Calling feminists "now amongst the most obnoxious bigots," Conservative MP Dominic Raab bemoans the plight of men in the UK. His proof of feminist bigotry. One item:

"From the cradle to the grave, men are getting a raw deal. Men work longer hours, die earlier, but retire later than women."

I'm not an expert in UK law or politics, but I'm hardpressed to believe the UK has labor laws mandating longer work hours for men than for women. Gee, could there be any explanations for these facts other than FeMiNiSm? Critical thinking and MRAs: shall the two ever meet?

He continues:

"Then there is the more subtle sexism. Men caused the banking crisis. Men earn more because they are more assertive in pay negotiations."

So, it is women who are primarily in charge of banks, then? So, it's not that men are more assertive in pay negotations, they're actually just more competent than women and, thus, deserving of higher salaries? And, if we don't kowtow to this obvious male competence, we're being subtlely sexist against men?

Not that he's a gender essentialist or anything. Or is he? Who knows. Certainly not him. At this point, he's just throwing spaghetti at the wall, hoping enough sticks to make a mess out of feminism:

"You can’t have it both ways. Either you believe in equality or you don’t. If you buy into the whole Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus theory of gender difference – with all its pseudo science - you can’t then complain about inequalities of outcome that flow both ways from those essentially sexist distinctions."

Who is the "you" here? Does he really think it's primarily feminists who buy (and sell) the "whole Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" bullshit?

Gah. As if.

Raab ends by encouraging us to all just get along by "ditching outdated gender warfare and finding practical solutions to the challenges couples go through together."

I'll ditch my "gender warfare" when people like him ditch their implications that were society not rigged for women and girls, men would still be perched atop their natural, god-given thrones being The Best at everything.

For, didn't you know that it's an anti-feminist/MRA truth that boys and girls are inherently different, except when boys prove worse at stuff? Oh yes, I think some people have it both ways all the damn time.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Attention Non-Men: New Rule About Vigilance

[TW: Sexual assault, child abuse]

Lenore Skenazy, writing in the Wall Street Journal, is upset that children and caregivers utilize a self-preservation technique of viewing men as potential predators. In fact, without evidence, she (or whoever wrote her headline) claims that doing so "doesn't make our kids safer."

What the headline should have said was that it actually makes Nice Guys feel like creeps. For, her article does little, or nothing, to demonstrate how utilizing her preferred strategy of not viewing men as potential predators actually keeps kids safe.

The article is a collection of various anecdotal instances of Nice Guys who have been asked to leave rooms when diaper-changing was happening, who have been called "perverts" for re-stocking the girls' panty rack at stores where they work, and who have in general been treated like pedophiles for being near children.

She ends:

"In England in 2006, BBC News reported the story of a bricklayer who spotted a toddler at the side of the road. As he later testified at a hearing, he didn't stop to help for fear he'd be accused of trying to abduct her. You know: A man driving around with a little girl in his car? She ended up at a pond and drowned.

We think we're protecting our kids by treating all men as potential predators. But that's not a society that's safe. Just sick."

Anyone else left wondering how the girl "ended up at a pond and drowned"? As in, did somebody like, say, some other man, take her to the pond and drown her or did she just, like, fall in? I'm not trying to be crass or paranoid, but inquiring minds want to know, since Ms. Skenazy didn't leave us any such details about the case.

In any event, let's explore this new rule about vigilance.

First, Ms. Skenazy (and those who share her opinions) seem to interpret the phrase "treating all men as potential predators" as meaning "everyone thinks all men are predators." The conservative, anti-gay Ruth Institute blog jumps on the Poor Men bandwagon in response to this article, opining (inaccurately, natch):

"There are those who doubt that our society has come to the point where it has come to the absurd conclusion that men and women are exactly the same, but that women are better.
It has.

But that’s not the only absurd conclusion that it has come to. It has also concluded that men are, unless proven otherwise, unspeakably evil."

Could four sentences demonstrate any more hyper-defensive what-about-the-men ignorance of feminism? Treating men like potential (that's an important word there) predators does not mean we think all men actually are predators or that all men are inherently "unspeakably evil." It means we are cognizant of the fact that we live in a culture:

"[T[hat encourages male sexual aggression and supports violence against women [and I would add children]. It is a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent. In a rape culture, women perceive a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from sexual remarks to sexual touching to rape itself. A rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as the norm."

No, it isn't fair to the good guys that they have to abide by rules, such as leaving a room when diaper-changing happens, that recognize the statistics that men are more likely to be child molestors than are women. Indeed, I think decisions like who is allowed access to other people's kids should be made on an individual case basis. For, it is my feminist proposition that men are capable of wanting to care for children without that want being grounded in sexual, abusive, or predatory desire.

Thus, I would agree that across-the-board rules like some of those within the article unfairly penalize many men. Unfortunately, organizations like the Ruth Institute, which are heavily invested in gender essentialism, seem to not recognize their complicity in the framing of male babysitters as deviant predators. Gender essentialists tell us crap like how men are inherently aggressive while women are inherently nurturing and then sit back and blame feminists, some of the only people in society trying to get people to recognize that caring for children can be a human thing rather than a "woman thing," for the fact that some people view men as "unspeakably evil."

That being said, if we get outside of the male-centric viewpoint for a moment, it's also disingenuous to not recognize at least two other reasons for why "society" treats men as potential predators.

1. Men, by far, commit the vast majority of sex crimes against women and children. Men are abusers in 86% of sex abuse cases against boys and in 94% of cases against girls. Yes, statistics vary and reporting of molestation by women is likely to be under-reported due to the stigma of being a male survivor of sexual violence, but most studies find that men are the vast majority of pedophiles. The Bureau of Justice Statistics has put 99% of sexual assault offenders as male.

2. Vigilance is a matter of self-preservation not only because we know these statistics but because we also know that if we are not vigilant in treating men like potential predators, then we are quickly and readily blamed when men victimize us and we are deemed to have not been vigilant enough. Cultural narratives about men, fostered by gender essentialists, are that men are inherently sexually aggressive and promiscuous and that if we don't take tangible steps in our daily lives that demonstrate awareness of this "fact," then we are to blame if anything bad "happens to us."

Gender essentialists regularly tell us that men love rape fantasies, that women should marry men in order to be protected from other men, and that men are inherently promiscuous- having evolved with the desire to impregnate as many women as possible.

And from the essentialist proposition that men are just inherently all of these things, lies the implicit argument for making violence prevention everyone else's responsibility. After all, if being violent is just the way men are, we can't expect them to do better, can we?

On the one hand, I admire Ms. Skenazy's attempted PR campaign for men. It is certainly a better one than what gender essentialists, especially conservative ones, tell us what men are. I am also in support of new narratives that do not invisibilize how women in same-sex relationships and men in relationships with women can also be victimized by intimate partners, or that women, too, can sexually abuse children. I think it's possible to acknowledge that we live in a culture that entitles men to sexual violence while also acknowledging that that doesn't mean women are incapable of committing violence.

However, in light of a reality in which men continue to commit the vast majority of sex crimes and where women, especially, and children are told that we're basically naive idiots if we let our guards down around men and go get ourselves killed, raped, or kidnapped by one, I feel like it's not exactly safe to just stop being vigilant about viewing men as potential predators.

Until the above statistics and rape culture narratives change, I feel like maybe we're letting men off too easy if we shut our eyes and collectively pretend that there aren't gender-based disparities in violence statistics.

Yet, Ms. Skenazy tells us that we now have a responsibility to not assume men are potentially predatory, because doing so is "sick." But, I guess, to me, that reads like Ms. Skenazy is saying that our instincts toward self-preservation are sick. And that, yet again, men are given a free pass to not address male violence, while everyone else has to work around the ugly realities of it.

And, instead of having a serious conversation about a culture that entitles men to violence and aggression, Ms. Skenazy's primary concern is on how men feel about our reactions to the fact that men commit disproportionate amounts of violence.

Not that men's feelings are invalid. It's just that, well, I guess in my scheme of things, keeping women and children safe from male violence outweighs this project of making sure men feel okay about gender-based disparities in violence.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Ignorance of Non-Feminists, Part Whatever

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, James Taranto has a go at explaining "the left's deranged hatred" of Sarah Palin.

First off, he uses the royal we throughout his piece, and that annoys me. He is the only author in the byline, so it's not clear who else he is speaking for.

Thus, he begins by claiming that leftists hate Palin because "in their view, she has risen above her station" and that "we" (meaning Taranto and the folksy folks he's speaking for?), identify with her because "we have been on the receiving end of similar disdain" for not attending an elite university, as "our high school diploma is a GED."

This leftists-are-elitists bit chaps my ass to no end. Politically, I lean toward the left, but I grew up in a blue-collar single-parent home and put myself through college and law school. Isn't that the American Dream or some shit? Nope. Not when you're a progressive. When you're a progressive who has dared to rise above her station in life you're a frakking leftist elitist.

Taranto continues his opinion piece by gendering the conversation. Non-feminist conservatives do this basically every time they talk about Palin, as they suddenly remember that gender issues are a thing in our society. He opines:

"This unhinged hatred of Palin comes mostly from women."


And his evidence for this is....? Oh. He doesn't have any. I guess this falls into the "a man said it, we believe it, that settles it" category of information.

Then, to explain why women hate Palin so much, he produces some messages he received from one of his Woman Friends who "generously" let Taranto and Co. quote it for this piece. She opines:

"[Women] blame [Palin] for everything, and the jealousy/resentment factor is so clear and primal. I've never seen anything like it."

So, that settles it then? James Taranto's Woman Friend who is the Official Spokeswoman For All Women just confirmed that women hate Palin because we're jealous of her. Alrighty then.

Despite Woman Friend's Spokeswoman status, Taranto, speaking from his unique and royal male viewpoint, proceeds to tell us what's really up:

"We'd say this goes beyond mere jealousy. For many liberal women, Palin threatens their sexual identity, which is bound up with their politics in a way that it is not for any other group (possibly excepting gays, though that is unrelated to today's topic).

An important strand of contemporary liberalism is feminism. As a label, 'feminist' is passé; outside the academic fever swamps, you will find few women below Social Security age who embrace it."

Bwahahahahahahahaha! He just- oh- oh, "an important strand." Hahahahaha. He really thinks- "of contemporary liberalism" hohohoho "is feminism." Ahem.


I think, for people who don't follow feminism at all, their biggest mistake is in confusing the sexual revolution for a feminist one. Although I undoubtedly believe feminism is very important, it is pretty clear that "contemporary liberalism" does not. See also, "Liberalism's Woman Problem."

I think, also, for people who don't follow feminism, their second biggest mistake is in believing that only women's studies professors are willing to self-identify as feminists these days. I mean, the fact that folks so casually, ignorantly, and quickly dismiss the whole entire feminist blogosphere and its readers demonstrates how not "important" feminism is to "contemporary liberalism" (and conservatism, natch).

Taranto then tries to play gotcha with feminist criticisms of Sarah Palin's stance on abortion.

"It used to be a trope for liberal interviewers to try to unmask hypocrisy by asking antiabortion politicians--male ones, of course--what they would do if their single teen daughters got pregnant. It's a rude question, but Palin, whose 17-year-old daughter's pregnancy coincided with Mom's introduction to the nation, answered it in real life....

More important, why is Bristol Palin's decision to carry her child to term any of this [critic's] business? Those who claim to be champions of privacy and choice need to do some serious soul-searching if they have so much trouble tolerating the private choices of others."


You know how, like, if you're a woman and you say something, sometimes people ignore it. But then, like, if a man says the exact same thing 5 minutes later everyone's all, "OMG, what a brilliant idea!" Well, people who pay attention to feminism, sort of know that Taranto's "gotcha" is a conversation that's already been had. But, nothing like a man getting a forum in the Wall Street Journal to recycle it, eh?

And so we meet again, Automatically Authoritatve Male Voice.

We are not amused.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Picking and Choosing, Again

[TW: Sexual prejudice]

Oh. Fun. Another one of these articles. From a Christian blogger:

"For the Christian, there has to be nothing more painful than knowing that a family member is struggling with or living defiantly in a lifestyle contrary to God’s moral laws. Whether it be drugs, addictions, sexual immorality of all kinds and various other offenses against God. It’s extremely painful for all involved."

Okay. So drugs, addictions, and sexual immorality. Like.... incest, sexual assault, and adultery, right? Nah. I know you know what's coming:

"I recently received an email from a reader of my blog desperate for answers in how to cope with her daughter who is a lesbian. This reader has done the best she could in raising a child up in a godly home. But circumstances beyond her control have led her daughter to choose the lesbian lifestyle. What shall she do?"

You see this attitude a lot among Christians. The concern seems to be less directed at the lesbian daughter (LD) and more toward the family members who must endure living with her. Enough about the person living a marginalized existence because of her Christian family's intolerance of her, let's talk some more about the Christian Family Members and how they can avoid feeling guilty for their intolerant behavior.

Anyway, surely, since this person is doling out advice via the internets, she is probably a counselor or therapist or a.... oh, erm, oh:

"After watching my aunt deal with my lesbian cousin, I’ve learned a lot how one can successfully cope with an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgendered) family member while not losing one’s heart, hope and mind in the process."

And that makes this commentator an expert on family relations and sexual identity how, again?

She continues, her advice being the trusty standby of praying, seeking out the opinions of other Christians who hold similar anti-gay views, and making sure the LD knows that the family loves her, it's her homosexuality they hate. The expert also takes the common tactic of quoting Bible verses. After all, dear readers, it's important that the El Gee Bee Tee family member knows "you love them, but you stand with God's word that says that homosexuality is a sin." For, that belief isn't just the Christian's "personal opinion," but "God's" opinion. As proof of this, the expert cites Romans 1:26-27:

"For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due."

"Their women," eh? "The natural use of the woman," huh? I wonder what that would be.

Anyway, it's too bad that our expert doesn't cite the rest of this particular section of her holy book. But that's okay, because I think I remember how this one ends. It says:

"Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."

Does our expert stand with "god's word" here, too?

I mean, it wouldn't be her opinion, after all, that El Gee Bee Tee people deserved to die, it would be "god's."

Friday, January 21, 2011

Because Going Without Make-up Is Only Natural For Men

Confession time: I subscribe to the WorldNetDaily email alerts. Wahoo!

What can I say, I like to be apprised of the conspiracy theories and gold-buying schemes the far right is buying into these days. Check out a section of one recent email alert:


That's right. Immediately following an US Weekly-esque link urging readers to "get a load of" Katy Perry without makeup, presumably because ohmigod WorldNetDaily writers find a woman less attractive without her lady costume on, is a link to the "Daily Blessing" where readers can receive some Christian inspiration.

Because misogyny is so loving and kind and devout and just like Jesus. Don't you all remember that part in the New Testament where Jesus was like, "Yo Mary, are you really not going to put lipstick on?"

(Maybe conservatives are still pissed that Katy Perry wrote that song that has "lesbian undertones"?)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Odds 'N Ends

1. Writing in The New York Times, Nicole Hardy recounts her travails as an "independent woman" within Mormonism.

Namely, the combination of her desire to not have children, to have a professional life, and to remain chaste until marriage in accordance with Mormon doctrine left her "trapped in an adolescence." While non-Mormon men weren't interested in "being thrust back into the eighth grade" into a sexless relationship, Mormon men resented her ability to take care of herself, their church teaching them that it is a man's job to be "the provider."

She ends up rejecting Mormon doctrine and finds solace in the unlikeliest (for her) places.

2. Over at Isis' place, she writes of an email she received about a student at UC Davis who learned of an interesting grading technique a professor in the Veterinary School was contemplating using on a student who had just given birth and was set to be out of class for a period of time.

Long story short: The professor in question seemed to think it was acceptable to put the student's grade up for a class vote. Then, hyper-defensive students in the class began commenting at Isis' blog to vetsplain that it wasn't sexism or anything and that it's WRONG of Isis to "gossip" about their school.

Other folks noted that the school has an attendance policy, and so giving a woman who has just given birth anything other than a 0 in the class would be giving her a special right.

And so we meet again, Equality Feminism.

If men don't need something (or don't think they need something), nobody gets it.

3. Last week, the US Supreme Court refused to hear Roy Den Hollander's attempted continuation of his lawsuit arguing that "ladies' nights" at bars and clubs are a violation of men's constitutional rights under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.

Justice Scalia was probably very pleased with this refusal, since it's so obvious that the 14th Amendment doesn't even prohibit sex discrimination and all.

But seriously, long story short: Yes, ladies nights are discriminatory against men, even if their purpose is to attract women for the benefit of heterosexual male patrons. However, the 14th Amendment applies to state entities, which a bar is not. Thus, ladies' nights are not unconstitutional discrimination.

Hollander is just a man with an admitted vendetta against feminism who nonetheless seems to think he is Very Hot Stuff, using women in their capacity as sex objects to affirm his manhood and prowess. He boasts:

'“When I go to a club and I’m looking at some young babe, I do not have malice in my heart,' he said. 'When some great looking 20-year-old babe is walking down the street, it is not malice in my heart that I’m feeling.'

Mr. Den Hollander refused to reveal his age because it might hurt his chances picking up younger women at bars. He said he looks younger than his true age and that 'I want to continue to exploit the infinite capacity of females to delude themselves.'”

I think he thinks he is a reaction to feminism. In reality, feminism is a reaction to men like him.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lessons In Feminism From Non-Feminists

Within an article about some women who are nostalgic for a pre-second wave era in which they didn't live, one woman who has chosen to live a semi-retro lifestyle explains:

"I also think it's OK to be sexy for your husband and bake a cake, though I know a lot of women will hate me for saying it. You don't have to be standing at the front door in lingerie, but dressing up for him and making his favourite dinner is just another way of saying, 'I love you and I respect you.'"

It's just weird, because I'm leafing through my Feminist Manual For Acceptable Lady Living and I'm not finding the mandate wherein women aren't allowed to be sexy for their partners or bake cakes.

But seriously, I can somewhat understand the reaction. Upon encountering some non-feminist women on the internet, I'm certain I'm not alone in being the recipient of an unprovoked hyper-defensive rant about how it's their CHOICE to stay at home and their RIGHT to love their babies and HOW DARE I judge them for that because they ARE HAPPY they REALLY REALLY ARE.

And I'm like, "Whoa, all I said was that I'm a feminist."

I do get why women who are stay-at-home mothers might feel judged, frankly because some feminists do judge them. But, it's sad to me when women, especially, are so misinformed as to what feminism is and isn't and who is and isn't judging them for which choices. Feeling judged for being a stay-at-home mom suddenly becomes feeling judged for loving men, and having children, and liking to cook, and doing housework, and wearing make-up and feminism suddenly becomes a monolithic thing where every feminist in the whole entire world basically hates women now too (in addition to hating men, of course).

It's as though these women get their information about feminism not from actual feminists, but from the Concerned Women For America, Rush Limbaugh, or other purveyors of anti-feminist propaganda that hold it to be a self-evident truth that feminism is this big caricatured movement.

And so, from the feminist proposition that women can be more than housewives and more than sex objects for men, some women hear feminism telling women they must be more. From the feminist critique that society doesn't value women or women's work, some women hear feminism telling women that they and their work are without value.

Sadly, what often gets overlooked in these hyper-defensive statements like those of Ms. I Love Being Sexy For My Husband, is that more often than not, it isn't feminists who are hating and judging women. It's everybody else. But I suppose they get a free pass to do so.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Meaning of Marriage: It Can Be An Art Project

A gay man and a heterosexual woman have married, as part of a "university art project." Despite their nuptials, they both say they will continue to date other people.

I highlight cases like these, where people subvert the marriage-exists-for-procreation argument, from time to time to point out how mendacious it is for "marriage defenders" to claim that marriage is and always has been an institution for one man and one woman to create and then raise their biological children together.

The truth is, marriage means different things for different people. For some it is about companionship. For others it is about financial security. And yes, for some, it is indeed about creating and then raising children. It can be about all of these things or none of them.

In this particular case, marriage is not being used for "responsible procreation" at all. And, because procreation is not a legal requirement of marriage despite the "marriage defense" insistence that it's the very core of marriage, these art students are allowed to marry and call it an art project. Indeed, the wife in this marriage has no intention of having procreative sex with her new hubby and will, instead, have potentially-procreative sex with men who are not her husband. Rather than ensuring responsible procreation, at least as "marriage defenders" define it, we see here that legal marriage is actually an impediment to it.

As an interesting twist, despite the fact that you often hear the anti-gay set insist that gay people should Just Marry Members of the Other Sex If They Want To Get Married So Badly, it has been amusing to watch them now add But but but, this isn't what we meant! What we meant was, gay people have to marry and also have sex with people of the other sex! They can't just live together! As the director of a group called "Christian Voice" opines:

"Marriage is not an art project, it is the life-long union of man and woman and part of that is the sexual act, which is there for companionship and the raising of children."

Got it.

It's almost like these anti-gay folks don't know that there's a word for "having sex with" people you don't want to have sex with. Yet another admission that puts my opinion of "traditional marriage," as defined by anti-gay folks, in the shitter.

Monday, January 17, 2011


A fellow named Dusty has exposed the core values of a certain strain of MRA-ism. Yes, it's true that his strange article purports to explain to his brethren "The Core Values of Feminism," but it is apparent upon inspection that, like many an anti-feminist, patriarchy-serving claim, this article is one ginormous reversal.

Now, were I to suggest that the deficiencies within Dusty's article were attributable to deficiencies within the male brain (as Dusty no doubt would, to women, were our situations reversed), I would be inaccurately and insultingly generalizing the attributes of one specimen of the male sex to all members. Likewise for the MRA movement as a whole. Thus, the criticisms herein are aimed only at Dusty's particular article and the many commenters who evidenced a similar ignorance of feminism who nonetheless popped up to bask in the glow of what they believe to be Dusty's brilliant smackdown of feminism.

Preliminaries out of the way, let us now observe how Dusty makes many claims about feminism, women, and the female brain but does not feel compelled to support these claims with evidence. His article reads like those many MRA commenters who chime in here in Fannie's Room to offer only a "you're wrong" or "you hate men," without offering evidence, as though because a man said it, that settles it, we believe it.

Go ahead. Read.

You will notice as just one example of Dusty's Big Claims About the Sexes:

"The female brain scans differently. When doing both A and B, the female brain lights up over a bigger, more general area. Some would say that women use more of their brains than men. I suggest that this functional ambiguity makes the female brain slightly less decisive. One who is not decisive does not have a tendency to act. This could explain why men took charge of history- that and physical strength. It could also explain why so many women seem to find postmodernist drivel so appealing- with its fuzziness, its hatred of measurement and data and facts, etc."

Here, Dusty makes claims about the inherent nature of the female brain, claims he does not support with a citation to a study, photos of said brain scans, or even a Wikipedia article he might have authored. I guess we'll just take Dusty at his word. He's probably a neuroscientist, what with his male brain and all.

Dusty seems likewise unfamiliar with the concept of Constructing an Argument. As just one example, Dusty says that it's a core feminist value for:

"Men [to be] de facto servants of women. All social customs (such as dating and courtship, clothing, and etiquette) and all laws with regards to marriage, divorce, child custody, child and spousal abuse, reproductive rights, rape, assault, murder, and sexual harassment should reflect this inferior status."

Here, he states a conclusion, that we feminists want the legal system to reflect men's status as servants to women (as if! in my femtopia it will be robots who serve their human overlords). But, Dusty does not provide supporting argumentation as to how feminists want "all laws" having anything to do with family and gender relations to reflect men's inferior status. Indeed, like this example, you will notice that many of his Big Conclusions about feminism's "core values" are structures utterly bereft of building blocks, undercutting his own argument that the male brain is inherently good at discrete, non-rambly tasks.

These flaws are sadly typical of internet discourse. Many MRAs want to believe that they understand feminism well enough to render accurate summaries or critiques of it, but more often than not, they fail miserably in demonstrating even a 101 level understanding of the topic. Unfortunately, it is a rare venue where like-minded fellow travelers point out such glaring flaws in the pieces of their political allies. Indeed, at the MRA site to which Dusty posts, unpopular comments expressing dissenting and/or critical views are quickly and often voted "down" to be rendered less visible to other readers.

However, it's when noting that contradictions and reversals that Dusty's piece becomes, not a sorry observation of unwarranted overconfidence, but genuinely revelatory. In deigning to explain what feminism is, Dusty has unintentionally explained what MRA-ism is, at least to him. Observe.

On the one hand, Dusty claims that one of feminism's core values is marked by "paranoia, belief in conspiracy, and alienation." He later claims:

"Men and women traditionally needed each other in order to have children. A man’s sperm met a woman’s egg, and the process that results in life began. With the advent of cloning, reproduction without sperm (parthenogenesis) will create a situation in which men will need a woman to carry a pregnancy to term, but women won’t need a man’s sperm to become pregnant. Men will need women, but women won’t need men, rendering males obsolete. This is something that feminists are clamoring for."

LMAO. If feminists were so loudly and insistently trying to eradicate men from humanity, one would think Dusty could have pulled up a quote or three of actual feminists "clamoring for" that. But hey, no bigs. It's probably just one of those commonsensical truths about feminism. (Echoed further by one of his blogging brethren in an entire, and frankly really disturbing, article devoted to the FeMiNiSt CoNsPiRaCy here).

Then, he claims, without evidence (did I mention that whole "without evidence" thing is a big recurring theme for Dusty?) that feminists believe "Women are morally, spiritually, psychologically, and biologically superior to men." Yet, he began his piece by asserting:

"Brain scans show that the average male brain is highly compartmentalized when performing certain functions. When doing A, part A lights up. When doing B, part B lights up. It’s as though every part of a man’s brain has its respective job that it does extremely well and that is all it does.

Could this division of labor in the male brain give us clues as to how men came up with science and mathematics? We all know that there are no such things as the number 2 or an inch or a foot, but yet some guy drew an arbitrary line in the dirt somewhere and now we have things such as measurement, physics, mathematics, engineering- oh, and don’t forget civilization!"

OMG, you guys! It's almost like Dusty's saying that men are naturally and inherently superior to women, what with their creation of All Of Civilization with absolutely No Help At All from women. The hilarity continues when Dusty claims, without being intentionally ironical:

"Feminists and women in general are so verbally gifted that they convince others and even themselves that their opinions are literally true."

It's almost like Dusty doesn't know that he's written an entire article, which falls decidedly into the Making Shit Up Bucket of Bozo the Clown's Grand Prize Game, trying to convince himself and his readers that his opinions about feminism, brains, men, and women are literally true. Likewise, he claims:

"If facts don’t motivate women to join their cause, feminists make things up to stoke female anger."

If the inconvenient fact that feminists aren't responsible for the vast majority of what ails MRAs doesn't motivate men to join their cause, it quickly becomes apparent that some MRAs make outrageously insulting claims about feminists and our so-called "core values" to stoke the flames of male anger in order to justify male supremacy and woman-hating.

Friday, January 14, 2011

United They Stand

[TW: Sexual assault, harassment]

Feminism and "women's issues," in case you had any doubt, are seen by many men within politics as special interests that drag down their male-dominated movements. This is true of the left and the right. (And also the "center," however that happens to be defined at any given moment in time.)

Despite how men feel about the suckiness, or not, of Wikileaks and Assange's role in it, many of them are quite certain that the so-called feminazi fury which has been aimed at Julian Assange and/or the sexual misconduct allegations leveled against him are, quite simply, bullshit. Men of all political stripes, those who are not feminists anyway, unite around this self-evident-to-them truth.

On the far left, David Walsh, writing for the World Socialist Web Site, claims:

"The sexual assault charges against Assange in Sweden are part of an orchestrated effort to divert public attention from the content of the WikiLeaks exposures—the duplicity, hypocrisy and criminality of American and world imperialism—and bury the important revelations in a pile of scandalous garbage. [Nation writer Katha] Pollitt has eagerly lent a hand to that effort.

Such a development was predictable, given the history of the journalist and the publication, but that does not make it any less reprehensible… or educational. The arguments employed by Pollitt shed further light on the politically rotten character of contemporary feminism and identity politics generally."

Okay. Feminists are actively working for the man. At best, we're just useful idiots to a capitalistic machine we don't fully understand. Got it.

On the left, Keith Olbermann (in)famously took his Twitter and went home after feminist blogger Sady Doyle criticized him for downplaying the accusations leveled against Assange. Olbermann then re-tweeted a source that claimed that one of Assange's "'rape'" (sarcasticquotes retained from original Tweet) accusers has "CIA ties."

Okay. Feminists are too dumb to realize we're perpetuating a CIA plot. Got it.

On the right, The Other McCain mocks the "feminist meltdown" regarding Assange and gets quite aroused over the "fatwa of feminist fury" that was unleashed upon Assange-bailer-outer Michael Moore, who acted like a rape apologist (before ultimately apologizing.)

McCain then asserts that feminists are part of "the Left," just like Assange, his accusers, and the ones making death threats against his accusers. Got it.

In sum, feminism, as defined by men who pay little attention to feminism and see it as a movement largely irrelevant to their More Important Concerns, is a leftwing, rightwing, corporate, CIA, and government phenomenon. All at once.

Our days are busy.

In reality, feminism, defined as liberating all people from gender role stereotyping, stopping the devaluation of femininity, and dismantling rape culture, threatens men who see such liberation, stopping, and dismantling as a zero-sum game that dismantles only male privileges and supremacy. To such men, who of course can hold political persuasions of any type, feminism is a monstrous bogeyman into which they pour their anxieties about impending male losses in a post-feminist world.

These men seek liberation from corporations, the government, capitalism, leftwing ideology, commies, rightwingers, homophobia, welfare queens, religion, and basically anything other than one of the most, if not the most pervasive and enduring prisons of all- the notion that the gender binary tells us everything we need to know about each "half" of the human race.

Thus, every now and then, you will see such men set aside their differences and unite around the unspoken principle that there is nothing More Important in the world than maintaining male supremacy. This revelation is Assange's most disturbing, and certain to be overlooked, leak of all.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Gold Rings and Hand Grenades

[TW: Violence]

Now, this article, entitled "'Feminism' in Gaza: Women Train as Suicide Bombers," is bizarre. It begins:

"'Terrorist feminists' in Hamas-controlled Gaza are training to be suicide bombers and to shoot machine guns to kill Israelis."

While also disturbing, I say this article is bizarre because the article uses quotations to call these women "terrorist feminists," but nowhere does the journalist indicate who is calling them that or why their actions are particularly "feminist." The article continues, offering only this sort-of explanation as to how the women are "feminists":

"The women said they see nothing unusual in fighting alongside men because women also serve in the 'Zionist' army. One woman wore gold rings on one hand while holding a hand grenade in the other."

Based only on what's presented in the article, I gather that the journalist is calling these women "terrorist feminists" solely because they are women doing something, in this case terrorism, that is stereotypically masculine. Yet, if female terrorists are feminists, what are male terrorists?

Within the answer to this question lies the biggest pitfall of so-called equality feminism.

When a society that constantly denigrates femininity defines feminism as "equality between men and women," stereotypically feminine traits, like caring and nonviolence, are rejected as inferior while stereotypically masculine traits, such as domination and violence, are upheld and viewed as the default and universally human. So, rather than dismantling violent patriarchal values, some see it as a feminist success story for women to do anything a man can do, even if it is suicide bombing.

When this happens, anti-feminists, such as the author of this particular cited piece, note with glee what "feminism" has wrought for women, the implication being that we need to get our asses back into the kitchen and STFU because obviously this shows us ladies that we didn't realize how good we had it there.

In one sense, these female terrorists are breaking down the gender binary by demonstrating that, despite their pretty shiny lady rings, they are capable of the stereotypically-masculine endeavor of inflicting great violence upon others. Those who insist that certain traits are inherently male or inherently female, essentialist thinking that is seen among some feminists and anti-feminists alike, would do well to remember these women.

Indeed, Riane Eisner has aptly noted that the dominator gender stereotypes, these violent values that women are expected to assimilate themselves into in a so-called post-feminist world, are learned.

Yet, it is sometimes overlooked that just as women are imprisoned within the gender binary and are not allowed to be fully-human, neither are men. Within the alleged universality of manhood, it is therefore forgotten that being a man is a particular, rather than a general, experience. The unstated assumption is that how men learn to be is how people just inherently are.

If, unlike men, female terrorists are by definition feminists and their gender is notable when referring to them, it is implied that men who kill are only fulfilling their natural god-given role as members of the murderer class. It means that men who kill cannot be expected to do better because violence is a fundamental part of what men are, an unflattering and frightening definition of manhood that too many nonetheless embrace.

Equality means that, if killers are what men are, killers are what women must become because what men are is what "people" are.

Is that really our feminist struggle?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


[TW: Violence]

Some say that if we cannot improve upon silence, we should not speak.

It is difficult for me to know what to say during times of great tragedies. I inevitably feel incredible sadness, anger, and fear. I struggle between walking the middle path of not speaking when I am feeling these emotions while also not completely disconnecting from these emotions, compartmentalizing them, and then tucking them away where I don't have to feel them.

Yet are not sadness, anger, and fear the roots of many acts of violence?

Those who are wiser than I have noted that practicing nonviolence is first of all to become nonviolence.

In October 2006, a man entered an Amish Schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, took 10 girls hostage, and began shooting them, ultimately killing 5 before committing suicide. What happened next was something unfathomable to our mainstream American society. Hours after the shooting, members of the Nickel Mines Amish community forgave the shooter and began to care for his family. Scholars on the Amish who have written a book about this incident note:

"In a world where faith often justifies and magnifies revenge, and in a nation where some Christians use scripture to fuel retaliation, the Amish response was indeed a surprise. Regardless of the details of the Nickel Mines story, one message rings clear: religion was not used to justify rage and revenge but to inspire goodness, forgiveness, and grace. And that is the big lesson for the rest of us regardless of our faith or nationality."

I am not an expert in Amish theology, but I have to think that on some level this Amish grace is grounded in the understanding that peace cannot happen unless we acknowledge the roots of violence within each of us.

Those who possess this basic awareness understand that we do not "pray for peace," as Glenn Beck has, by juxtaposing that call with smirking images of ourselves holding guns.

Those who are committed to peace do not use their large platforms to put politicians in their metaphorical "crosshairs" for not espousing the correct religiously-motivated political ideas, as Sarah Palin has, and then wipe their hands of all responsibility when real live people put real live politicians in their real live crosshairs.

And, if we, as a nation, were truly committed to being non-violent, rather than just sometimes being sad about violence when it happens, we would begin to do "the very hard work of trying to change a culture that glorifies and embraces violence as entertainment, and views violence as an appropriate and effective response to the things that bother us."

But we don't.

Instead, those who are committed to non-violence are ridiculed as "pussies" and men are constructed as being inherently interested in kicking ass and utilizing the implements of violence, a conception of masculinity that is further justified by macho man-made religions.

Rhetorical and physical violence is not limited to those on the right, although it is much worse on the right. Lacking awareness at best and intentionally advocating violence at worst, we are a nation comprised of individuals who fetishize tribalism and domination. Starting with the first binary, we quickly learn that everything else exists on a similar polarity culminating in the realization that there is "us" and there are "them."

We forget that in joy and suffering we are all the same.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Just A Marriage Advocacy Group

In an article about the dimmed prospect of LGBT progress now that Republicans have taken control of the House, look how a recent Boston Globe article presented one of the nation's most virulently anti-gay organizations:

"Americans for Truth, an Illinois-based advocacy group for heterosexual marriage, is hailing the new Republican majority control in the House as a huge victory that it hopes will put the brakes on further progress toward what it calls 'taxpayer-funded homosexuality.'

'My hunch is the Republicans will try to avoid these issues; they won’t allow them to progress,’' said Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth." (Emphasis added)

First of all the full name of the organization is Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH), a moniker which underscores its president's singular fixation on opposing Everything Gay and its perpetuation of misinformation and stereotypes about homosexuality and LGBT people.

The mission of this organization is oh-so-much more than mere advocacy "for heterosexual marriage." If any organization deserves its place in the Southern Poverty Law Center's (SPLC) list of anti-gay hate groups, it is AFTAH.

Peter LaBarbera, as anyone who pays the least bit of attention to LGBT issues knows, is a long-time foe of LGBT rights and equality and has allied himself with notorious anti-gay Holocaust revionist Scott Lively. His organization, as the SPLC notes, has utilized the discredited anti-gay "research" of Paul Cameron and tries, without much apparent success, to host "Truth Academies" to spread the "truth" about how evil and unnatural homosexuality is. Even a cursory visit to the organization's website reveals a bizarre obsession, replete with undercover "exposes," with homosexuality and with gay male subcultures and sex practices in particular.

Is AFTAH really the "other side" of the same-sex marriage debate, as this Boston Globe article suggests?

If so, I wonder how all of those civil, nice "marriage defenders," like the 7 million definitely-not-bigoted California folks who voted for Prop 8, feel about Peter LaBarbera being the symbol for... them.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Not Curious Enough

[TW: Somewhat graphic discussion of sexual assault laws and hypothetical scenarios involving children]

In the UK, a 15-year-old boy, without his parent's knowledge, donated his sperm to his aunt's same-sex partner. Elizabeth Marquardt, hyperventilating at the Family Scholars Blog, seems to want the lesbians prosecuted for child rape. She writes:

"Just curious, what are the child rape laws in the UK? Can a 15 year old legally give consent to participate in an act that impregnates an adult woman?"

Marquardt says she's curious, but the family scholar is apparently not curious enough to take two minutes to google "UK rape laws" to answer her own question, instead letting that heinous insinuation hang out there on the anti-same-sex-marriage-leaning blog she contributes to.

Nonetheless, I would agree with Marquardt's sentiment that it is morally repugnant for the couple in question to have used the sperm of a minor to impregnate a woman. Despite being physiologically capable of impregnating a woman, a 15-year-old boy may not be fully prepared to deal with knowing he has a biological child in the world he will not raise. In addition, problematic power dynamics exist in an aunt-nephew relationship that smack of coercion, no matter how freely a gift like that may appear to be given.

Intriguing, albeit disturbing, legal questions can be raised about this case, questions that many a criminal law or torts professor might like to include in a final exam hypothetical. However, whether this case constitutes "child rape" is not one of them and, indeed, cheapens the very phrase.

As a US attorney who is not an expert in UK law I nonetheless quickly learned that rape in the UK constitutes, to paraphrase, the non-consensual penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person by a penis. That is, in the UK, only a person with a penis can commit the crime of rape. I don't agree with that definition, but that is the definition of rape in the UK.

The UK also has the crime of "causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent," but that too requires penetration (by "anything"). There is no indiciation that that occurred in this particular case.

Had the women provided the boy with pornography to masturbate to, they could potentially be charged with "causing a child to watch a sex act."

Had the women watched the boy masturbate, they could potentially be charged with "voyeurism."

Had one of the women had intercourse with him that would constitute statutory rape, or "sexual activity with a child."

But, there is no indication that the women did any of these things.

So, when Marquardt asks whether a 15-year-old boy can "give consent to participate in an act that impregnates an adult woman," the "act" she would be referring to is a 15-year-old boy masturbating by himself, an act which is not a crime.

Any civil or criminal legal wrong would likely be grounded in the act of (a) the boy giving the women his sperm and/or (b) the women accepting it. Perhaps a better question would be whether it constitutes theft for adults to utilize the sperm of a minor and, if not, whether that should be made a crime.

But "child rape"? No. And that the women involved happen to be lesbians does not change that. I mean, isn't that what Marquardt's hyperbole is at least partially about?

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Different Kind of Crime

[TW: Sexual assault, harassment]

Feminist Naomi Wolf is advocating an end to anonymous rape accusations, arguing that such accusations are unethical and ultimately damaging to women.

There is much to unpack in her piece, but we can examine the key flaw by examining this paragraph:

"Feminists have long argued that rape must be treated like any other crime. But in no other crime are accusers' identities hidden. Treating rape differently serves only to maintain its mischaracterisation as a 'different' kind of crime, loaded with cultural baggage."

It's one of the oldest "gotchas" in the anti-feminist playbook to use the concept of "equal treatment" against women. One of the bases of our legal system rests in treating likes alike and unalikes unalike. Thus, Wolf asserts that a crime is a crime is a crime; they are all alike and isn't that what the feminists wanted all along, to be treated just like men?

Well, ok. But the thing is, rape is a different kind of crime. To categorize it as a crime just like any other elides these distinctions which justify different treatment. What Wolf minimizes as "cultural baggage" is that:

Unlike burglarly or murder or carjacking, women are 5 times as likely as men to be raped (PDF) and it is almost always men who are the rapist (PDF).

Unlike burglarly or murder or carjacking, the majority of rapes (60%) are never reported to the police.

Unlike burglarly or murder or carjacking, rape culture narratives tell us that the survivors of rape asked for it, are lying about it, agreed to it, deserved it, and/or liked it. These narratives are both widely believed and help explain the preceding statistic regarding the non-reportage of rapes.

Rape is different because rape culture narratives tell us that the mass rape of women as a weapon of war is a "women's rights" issue, rather than a human rights one, because unlike more readily-recognizable (that is, masculinized) human rights violations like water-boarding, rape happens mostly to women.

Rape is different because rape culture narratives put the onus for rape prevention on women while also telling women that such empowerment is dangerous because men might be harmed by our newfound skills.

Rape is different because rape culture narratives tell us that men are entitled to sexual access to women and it is a violation of men's rights to put limits upon that access. Indeed, hell can unleash no fury like that which is unleashed upon women, feminists, and feminist bloggers who question that access. And so, Melissa at Shakesville writes:

"I'll simply note that [Wolf's] premise is intrinsically flawed as it's based on the erroneous assumption that we shield accusers because of some antiquated notion that rape is shameful. We do not. We shield accusers because survivors are routinely revictimized by rape apologists."

Item: When Keith Olbermann shared the link to the name of one of Julian Assange's accusers with his 166,533 Twitter followers, he not only contributed to the receipt of death threats by Assange's accusers, but to the receipt of death and rape threats of the STFU-because-women's-"pussies"-belong-to-men type targeting feminist bloggers who criticized Olbermann's actions.

Until all of the above circumstances change, it would be unwarranted, unwise, and unsafe to follow Wolf's brand of rape-is-just-like-any-other crime equality feminism which mandates that if men don't need something like anonymity in rape accusations (or don't imagine they will ever need it), then nobody gets it.*

*Tip o' the beret to Catharine MacKinnon.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Odds 'N Ends

1. Writing in Religion Dispatches, Eugene McMullan observes that the Catholic Church hierarchy's No Girls Allowed Club is comprised of bullies whose focus on retaining power continues to render the institution ever-more irrelevant. Meanwhile, the National Coalition of American Nuns has been willing to publicly criticize and counter the bishops', whom the nuns aptly note have a "record low" credibility on sexual matters, silence regarding LGBT bullying and their active political opposition to same-sex marriage:

"...[T]he authorized opinion of the institutional Church can be an outdated, inadequate guide [to morality]—especially when it comes to issues that the Church’s theoretically-celibate ruling caste does not really understand because they lack the wisdom born of mature experience.

Nuns may not always have the expertise the bishops lack, but they do have the hearts of the people, and the vast wisdom accumulated through their work in schools, hospitals, clinics, and shelters. While the bishops busy themselves with governing the institution, and 'managing' the sex abuse crisis, nuns save lives and, arguably—in a time of scandal—the reputation of the church itself."

Bishops consider themselves to be the official spokesmen of the Catholic Church and do not grant this authority to nuns.

Anyone else love to see the nuns jump off the sinking ship and start a church of their own? I'd totally join that. You know, if they also stopped worshipping a deity and stuff.

2. Echidne talks about MRAs. And counters their oft-heard laundry list of facts that prove there is a Feminist Conspiracy Against Men. She concludes:

"What always strikes me as odd about the most fervent MRA guys is how very focused they are not on men's rights but on the return of a complete patriarchy where women would have few rights. The position of the most extreme type of MRAs can be summarized as 'Heel, bitch.' That there are so many of that type makes it hard for me to take the rest of the MRAs seriously."

For me, what I always come back to is, okay, so MRAs cite all of these statistics about How Awful Things Are For Men. Yet, nowhere did they (or can they) demonstrate that feminism is to blame for, say, the fact that men have more on-the-job fatalities than women or that men are most combat casualities in war. But rather than addressing the causes of these statistics and acknowledging that patriarchy is responsible, most MRAs instead focus their efforts on "demolishing feminism."

It makes no fucking sense and leads me to conclude that many of these guys just really fucking hate women.

3. The American Bar Association is warning prospective law students about the (non)value of attending law school. (PDF). This is a good thing. Unless you're going for free, attending law school is not the wisest way to "sit out a recession."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Prop 8 Update

The Prop 8 saga continues. Yesterday, the 9th Circuit sent the Prop 8 (aka Perry v. Schwarzenegger) case back to the California Supreme Court to answer the question of whether the backers of Prop 8 have "standing" to defend its constitutionality given that the Attorney General has refused to defend the measure (PDF).

The 9th Circuit has framed the "standing" issue as a matter of state law and, so this question falls under the purview of the California Supreme Court, which is the highest authority in the land on California state law. (Isn't Federalism fun?) I have discussed the standing issue here before, but basically if the Prop 8 backers are found not to have standing, the federal appeal would be dismissed and the constitutionality of Prop 8 would not be decided on the merits.

I'm not an expert in California law, and the precedent on this exact standing issue is slim to nil anyway, but the tone of the brief seemed to set up an argument that the Prop 8 backers do have standing. Beginning on page 10, the Court discusses how in California "all political power is inherent in the people" and how the initiative process "is one of the most precious rights of our democratic process." Further, as a "fundamental right," no political figure, such as a governor or attorney general, has veto power over an initiative. Thus, the question raised is whether such a figure can effectively "veto" an initiative by refusing to defend it. I think framing the question in that way basically gives us the answer, at least in the 9th Circuit's opinion.

The 9th Circuit seems to want to hold that the Prop 8 backers do have standing, but they also seem unwilling to usurp the authority of the California Supreme Court in making that determination.

Predictions aside, I will turn to my hopes for how this case will turn out.

I want the Prop 8 backers to be found to have standing to defend their discriminatory measure. If the California Supreme Court were to find that they have no standing, we would be forced to endure endless rounds of THEY TOOK AWAY OUR RIGHT TO VOTE bleating from the anti-gay set. Not only that, as much as I loathe Prop 8 and much of the bigoted, fear-mongering motivations behind it, people did vote for it and, accordingly, it should see its day in court. Where it can then be smacked the fuck down. On its unconstitutional merits.

Hopey changey!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

UConn Breaks Record, Man Writes Uninspired Critique Of Hub-ub

Congratulations to the UConn women's basketball team for winning their 89th game in a row and thereby breaking the NCAA record for consecutive wins!

Not surprisingly, many male commentators have already been quick to dismiss this accomplishment, calling it an inauthentic record because it was achieved by a woman's team which, being composed of women, is therefore supposedly comprised of less-skilled players than a men's team.

Minimizing female athletes' accomplishments is a standard reflex of many male sportsfans and writers. Whether Jenny Finch is striking out Albert Pujols, a woman is beating a male bowling champion, or a woman is beating men in an extreme long-distance run, the but but buts of insecure masculinity and manhood come out in full force. But, they scream, baseball players aren't used to pitching delivery in softball. But, bowling and running aren't even real sports, they yell. But, any sport in which a woman can beat a man isn't really a real sport at all!

How quick men are to define women's athletic accomplishments out of their sportsdom when it is revealed that men aren't actually automatically better than women at everything.

And so we come to minimizers of UConn's latest achievement. Mark Potash beats his chest and bleats "sorry folks":

"Here’s a news flash for [UConn coach] Auriemma: You’re not chasing UCLA’s record of 88 consecutive victories under John Wooden. You didn’t tie it and you’re not going to break it. That’s a men’s basketball record. You coach a women’s team. A women’s team can’t break a men’s record any more than a men’s team can break a women’s record."


But here's the thing.

In NCAA basketball, it is by far the norm for men's teams, scores, and records to be presented in the sports media as the default. The NCAA tournament, for instance, refers to the men's touranment. That is a given. If anyone's talking about the women's tournament, it's almost always qualified as the NCAA women's tournament. Indeed, this NCAA record book (PDF) deigns to present "Division I Records," but actually only lists Division I men's records. This "About" NCAA Division I Record Book site including lists of the winningest coaches, the top coaches, the winningest teams, the scoring leaders, and a myriad of other basketball statistics, but is really only about men's NCAA basketball records.

In this way, is men's basketball presented as general NCAA basketball, the more important and authentic division, the division whose records and statistics therefore both encompass and trump all women's records.

But folks like Potash always seem to want it both ways.

When the sports media presents the NCAA as though it only consists of male athletes, these folks' explanations and "news flashes" about the existence of women's teams are nowhere to be found. Yet, for purposes of making male sporting superiority explicit, whenever a woman or a women's team breaks a men's record, men like Potash dare to chime in to tell us, as if we don't already fucking know, that the NCAA has both a men's division and a women's division, each with their own separate record books.

The real pisser, of course, is that these guys aren't making this observation because they see anything wrong with men's sports being the default or with men's records being widely viewed as being better than women's records, but because they really really want everyone to know that women's records are different, and by different they mean crappier, than men's. They either ignore or highlight difference whenever doing one or the other serves the interest of perpetuating male supremacy.

Potash continues, stroking the manly sports ego:

"[UConn coach] Auriemma should be happy that established media are buying the idea that UConn is breaking UCLA’s record and giving him a soapbox to whine about the lack of respect women’s basketball receives in the sporting world.

Women’s basketball gets what it deserves. Probably more than it deserves if you include a professional league that is attached to the NBA like an oxygen machine.

It’s not as popular as men’s basketball because it’s neither as good nor as entertaining. All you have to do is watch five minutes of a women’s game to know that."

Really, Potash? It hardly falls into the Inspirational Sportswriting Bucket of Rare and Incredibly Brave Feats to rip on women's sports. When such paragons of sporting obectivity known as "male sports fans who bash female athletes" aren't ignoring us, they're readily and easily found sexifying us or trying to take us down a few notches just to make sure we know our rightful place in the big scheme of things.

Aptly, he ends with some high-fives to his buds in the super -duper boys' club:

"But if Geno wants to continue the charade of breaking the men’s record, he’s going to have to start playing some men’s teams. I think he knows how ugly that would get. There are probably 10 high school teams in the city that could beat the Connecticut women.

The UConn women vs. the Simeon boys, now that’s a game people of all genders would pay to see. If Geno Auriemma thinks there were a lot of reporters to watch his team win No. 88, there would be twice as many or more to see him play the Simeon boys. It’s all about entertainment."

Bring it. That cocksure sentiment worked out really well for Bobby Riggs.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Agenda of a Concerned Hockey Dad

You know how when you watch TV football show Friday Night Lights you always sit there thinking that the football boosters, comprised of dad-ly Texas high school football has-beens, wield an inordinate amount of power in their town and really need to get lives that don't revolve around the sporting dramas of teenage boys?


I had that same sense when I came across this article about a lawyer hockey dad who called a parent's meeting and drafted an agenda to discuss the Very Important Issue of how he had noticed that the only girl on his son's Pee-Wee hockey team just wasn't very good and sometimes almost saw the boys' pee-pees in the locker room.

From the article:

"The Thornhill lawyer drafted the agenda which included this item: 'Kayla Watkins — Player Ability Limitations and Suggested Options.' 'It is now 14 games into the season and I have noticed that Kayla’s play has not improved,' the agenda reads. 'It is at the point where many of the team members do not want to play on this team if this situation is not addressed....

If Kayla is NOT amenable to the above options, the coach should find Kayla a new team to play on — commensurate to her skill level — for the balance of the season,' the agenda reads.

Atis also raised concerns about Kayla changing in the same locker-room as the boys, stating, 'there have been many ‘near miss’ incidents where the boys have almost been exposed to Kayla.'”

The girl's coach, for the record, wanted her to remain on the team:

“There’s always complaints from parents about ice time but I’ve never seen an issue where it has gone this far before,” he said. “I don’t know what they were trying to accomplish. It’s not an individual player losing a game. She made mistakes but so did others on the team. We’ve been the same since she left.”

The girl, who is 12 (12!), quit the team over this controversy. After learning of the hockey dad's agenda against her, she was humiliated and felt as though the other parents would have been "watching every move" she made on the ice.

Two things.

One, apparently I missed the Lawyering For Douchebags seminar they teach in law school where legal professionals learn that it's of the utmost importance to make use of one's legal skillz for purposes of embarrassing pre-teen girls into quitting sonny boy's hockey team.

And two, I don't know what this girl's level of skill is and how it compares to those of her former teammates. Obviously I've never seen them play. However, the lengths the hockey dad went to to address this "issue," that he brought her gender into it via LoCkErRoOm PaNiC (OOOGA BOOGA wieners!), and that the situation was addressed more harshly than other similar complaints does suggest that the real issue here was that some boys on the team, or at least some over-involved dads, didn't want a boys team to have to endure being tainted by The Girl.

It's an early lesson that girls learn.

It's a shame this young athlete learned had to learn, just as I did, perhaps you did, and countless others did as well, that due to the suckiness of ourselves, we learn, it isn't fair to expect boys to do well if they have to do important things with us.