Thursday, August 20, 2015

Women Pass Ranger Program: Internet Misogynists Flip Out

Perhaps you've read about the 2 Army lieutenants who have become the first women to graduate from the US Army's Ranger program, a physically- and mentally-intense training course from which women have historically been excluded.

I've read several articles about this and have of course noted the misogynistic whinging in various comment sections.  Hilariously, the US Army has addressed some of the misogyny directly to those oh-so--courageous purveyors of misogynistic attacks on Internet.

I've noted before that those who identify with toxic masculinity define themselves largely by what they are not: women. In their minds, women and men are "opposites" in which men are supreme and women are …. not.

They take great pride in the activities which are, they claim, "inherently" "male," and if women end up engaging in these activities, these men view the activities as having become  imbued with the taint femininity.  "Women ruin everything," they bawl, as they see women too showing interest in things like sports, military, science fiction, comedy, geekdom, and other interests and activities that some men try to stake out as No Girls Allowed Land.

Thus, the comments by such men, in relation to the Rangers issue, fall into predictable categories:

  • The system was somehow rigged to help the women pass, because no woman could actually pass on the same terms as men. This claim allows the man to continue believing that there are still Important Things that men can do that women cannot (In truth, the women passed the same standards as the men); 
  • If it is admitted that the women passed on the same terms as men, their femininity is called into question by mocking their appearance and calling them "manly." While the man may concede that the woman did the thing that men do, he implies that she's not a real woman and therefore it doesn't count;
  • The man gripes about "political correctness" and "social experiments." By uttering these meaningless phrases, the man believes he can magically waive away the accomplishment as though it didn't happen and isn't a thing that exists in reality, but rather is Social Justice Warrior fabrication.
All of these attempt to preserve the man's masculine identity As A Man (and not a woman).

Although, then there's my personal favorite:

The man who was concern trolling about male Rangers having to share humvees with "menstruating females."  Dude,  I'm gonna stop you right there.  If a man isn't tough enough to be around a menstruating person, that guy probably isn't tough enough to be a fucking Army Ranger, which might also mean that the Army has bigger problems, yeah?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Equality Opponents Try to Keep Debate Alive

I haven't paid much attention to National Organization for [Male-Female] Marriage (NOM) since June's US Supreme Court marriage equality victory.

I keep the NOM blog in my newsfeed and occasionally scroll through its headlines, however.

Recently, I saw them promoting a new book by equality opponent Ryan T. Anderson, called Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom (I'm not linking to it, but it can be found easily enough). Released July 14, it's touted as the "first book to respond to" the Obergefell decision.

From its description, the point of the book seems to be to keep the marriage equality debate alive by informing people about what marriage "really" is and, of course, the threats posed to society by the acceptance of same-sex marriage.

How sad.

First and foremost, I have no idea if Anderson truly wrote the book as a "response" to the Supreme Court decision. I'll just say that whipping out a book in a mere 2 weeks seems quite fast.  How much "new ground" has been covered?  For that matter, how much new ground can even be covered in the conversation any more anywhere?

One fawning review states:
It is simply a must read all around. Anderson presents a well-researched and well-rounded argument for the continued importance of both traditional marriage and the strong protection of religious liberty. And he does all of this while being eminently respectful to those on the opposite side of the issue. Anderson’s work is the polar opposite of “hateful,” “bigoted,” or “homophobic.” It is a prime example of the Christian imperative to “speak the truth in love.”
Oh boy. Here we go again.

The notion that we, supporters of equality, just haven't listened, really really listened, to the intellectual, un-bigoted, and civil reasons for opposing equality and that if we just give it an honest-to-goodness chance always strikes me as…. really insular.  Have new arguments against equality, that no one has ever heard before, been invented in a matter of 2 weeks?

I mean, the conversation has been public and prominent, particularly since it was used as a wedge issue in the 2004 US presidential election.  The "civil" arguments generally go along these lines:

  • Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and the purpose of marriage is to unite these complementary beings;
  • Marriage is for heterosexual "responsible procreation"; 
  • Same-sex couples cannot procreate together, therefore there is no reason for them to marry;
  • Marriage was created by "God" and/or is a thing that exists in nature like, say, a flower or a tree and it's not for "man" to define and change it;
  • Calling same-sex marriage marriage devalues it for couples who are actually married;
  • Every child needs a mother and a father;
  • Same-sex marriage turns children into commodities;
  • Children raised by their married heterosexual parents do best (insert discredited study);
  • Acceptance of same-sex marriage will lead to acceptance of other forms of marriage and/or polyamorous relationships;
  • Religious people shouldn't have to "participate" in "gay marriage" by baking them cakes or taking their photos; 
  • The Gay Mob is oppressing people who don't agree with LGBT rights, therefore LGBT people should not have equal rights.
  • Religious people in general don't like living in a society knowing that LGBT people have equal rights. It is oppressive to them.

That about cover it?

Unfortunately, a key strategic failing of the movement against equality is that it allowed some of the most obviously bigoted voices - including politicians, preachers, and lay folk -  to dominate for so long, as these voices spoke to the rank bigotry of many US homophobes.  Indeed, it has been only recently, with their loss imminent, that equality opponents have toned it down and begun trying to popularize their so-called civil reasons against marriage equality, with an early apparently-earnest attempt by David Blankenhorn's 2007 publication of The Future of Marriage.

I think what equality opponents keep overlooking is that their position cannot be made prettier by painting "civil" reasons over a fundamentally uncivil proposition.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Trump As a Mirror

I know that people in my social circles, most liberal and progressive, have been joking about the Republican Primary "clown car" debate last week and I agree to an extent.

But, I also think it's sad that Donald Trump, who during the debate "joked" about calling Rosie O'Donnell various misogynistic and fat-hating slurs, has been leading the polls among Republicans right now. I believe his popularity is mostly explained by him reflecting the unapologetically misogynistic, angry, and privileged petulance of (probably) millions of people.

Like conservative Supreme Court Justice Scalia, this is a man whose political popularity seems to stem from the "non-politically correct" bumper sticker "zingers" he brings to the public discourse, rather than for thoughtful examination of complex issues - a certain, "I'm just telling it like it is, folks" smugness that is neither as brave or smart as it purports to be.

We are worse off for it.

I'd also like to note that both Scalia and Trump are men (obvs) and that I often find their rhetoric to be highly emotional, snarky, and devoid of intellectual reasoning - a charge often leveled at women.

Now, imagine the reverse of Trump: a zinger-throwing, non-conventionally-attractive, angry, uncivil, misandrist woman polling at 25% of Democrat voters.  An interesting thought experiment only because it is so obviously unrealistic, which therefore illustrates the male privilege and misogyny alive and well in US culture.