My Thanksgiving Rant – Gender Edition (With Profanity)

This …

… got me riled up.

This is what it’s all about:

“The revelation in the news yesterday of an IMF proposal to lower the income tax rate of Irish women returning to the workforce by five percentage points, was greeted with bemusement swiftly followed by derision.

A number of angry men were quick to cry foul, branding the initiative “sexist”. One popular daytime radio presenter described it as a “tax cut for the girls” and went so far as to speculate that any additional take-home pay resulting from what he branded a “sexist law” would be spent on “shopping and hair”.”

Here goes: why does any measure that might benefit women be systematically have to also benefit everybody else in order to be seen as legitimate? Why isn’t it enough that it benefits women? How many pages have we read stating that educating girls in the periphery would is great because it benefits society as a whole? Isn’t educating girls a good in and of itself? Do we ever ask these questions for policies that mostly benefit men?

I mean, look at the article above: an inequality exists that benefits men, then a measure is proposed to correct it and it’s called “sexist”, then a columnist has then to justify it as “no, really, it’s ok, it won’t just benefit women, it will benefit everybody.” Because benefiting women is considered just not enough, not legitimate.

When Tenured Radical discussed the importance of women’s colleges, commenter flooded the comment section arguing that these womanly concerns were elitist and that class / race issues needed to be resolved FIRST, then, only then, would tackling gender issues be a legitimate concern.

Screw it, I say:

Educating girls everywhere in the world is a good thing in itself.

Reducing all kinds of gender inequalities is a good thing in itself.

Empowering women with their bodies through reproductive freedom is a good thing in itself.

These things do benefit society as a whole. But they would be no less good and legitimate if they benefited women and girls exclusively.

The flip side of this, of course, is that women-only suffering and exploitation and exclusion tend to be ignored and not dealt with as seriously.

Example the first (Women the human mules of Congo’s gold mines):

Women of Congo

And that’s on top of the mass rapes that these women have to endure.

Example the second:

“An Indian village has banned unmarried women from using mobile phones for fear they will arrange forbidden marriages that are often punished by death, a local official said today.

The Lank village council decided unmarried boys could use mobile phones, but only under parental supervision, said one council member, Satish Tyagi. Local women’s rights group criticised the measure as backward and unfair.

Marriages between members of the same clan are forbidden under Hindu custom in some parts of northern India, where unions are traditionally arranged by families. In conservative rural areas, families sometimes mete out extreme punishments, including “honour killings”, for those who violate marriage taboos. In some cases, village councils themselves have ordered the punishments, though police often intervene to stop them.

The Lank village council feared young men and women were secretly calling one another to arrange to elope.

Last month, 34 couples eloped in Muzaffarnagar district, where Lank is located, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, police said. Among the couples who did so, eight “honour killings” have been reported in the past month, police said.

“Three girls were beheaded by the male members of their family after they eloped,” said the police assistant director general, Brij Lal, in the state capital of Lucknow.”

So, angry dudes in Ireland: THIS (above) is sexist. Reducing gender inequalities is not. And until I hear you guys complain about all the large and small forms of sexism that women endure around the world, day in and day out, F!@# Off!

Could it Be…

That some formerly contrarian sociologist has been engaging in a little bit of famewhoring… after all, calling a course “sociology of fame” is less likely to attract public media attention than invoking the name of a hot celebrity.

No link, after all, this sociologist was virulently against public sociology.

Random Notes From Watching The Grammys on Mute

  • Apparently, apart from Green Day, there is no more rock music made in the US.
  • Only commercial hip hop and country matter.
  • Whatever passes for pop is so bad that it has to be surrounded by ridiculous, over the top, gimmicks (SWAT teams, robots, etc.).
  • Obviously, one has to turn to the European musical scene to find some decent power pop (didn’t Weezer have a pretty good album out this year? Why, yes, yes they did!)

Or, I’m getting old and cranky, which is entirely possible.


Society of Sociopaths

The whole health care fiasco has certainly revealed the nastiness of a segment of the American society. And yes, they may be bought and bussed to town hall meetings by big industry groups, but that does not change the fact of the existence of infantile Randoids and just plain ignoramuses who think they own nothing to the government and should not pay taxes. Basically, these are people who do not see a need for the social contract and do not have a sense of being part of society. The only community these people seem to recognize is their family or religious / political in-group. As much as they bandy copies of the Constitution around, they lack a sense of collectivity and keep themselves busy defining themselves narrowly as the only “real” Americans and everyone else as anti-American.

It also seems that most of the behavior seen on TV (I know, I know) is (pardon me the pop Freud) id-driven: rage that can hardly contain itself, absent logic and contradictory stances, mob behavior.

What I see in this is the absolute triumph of neo-liberal philosophy boiled down to infantile elements (and I would argue that the extreme religiosity of the American society fosters such infantilism of thinking in black and white) to be shouted out at public events. Politicians on that side of the political spectrum have played on, when not actively promoted, such mob behavior. It has all come at the expense of knowledge of political ideas (be they conservative or liberal or else) and have filled that void with a combination of extreme individualism (slightly extended to family) and religious fundamentalism which leads to a form of sociopathy that is toxic to civil society.

When these two elements are combined, they replace political ideas with a moralizing and punitive outlook on policy: public policy should sanction and punish deviant behavior: don’t let the sluts get away with their sluttitude through contraception or abortion, don’t let the gays be gay, no health care for fatties and other people with disgusting behavior and so on and so forth. No government assistance for all these freaks, only for the “good” people, and even them can be taken care of by their neighbors or Christian charity.

The reference to charity has the neat benefit of not only pretending to be kind but hides the fact that in a charitable relationship, the donor can set criteria as to whom to help and make demands on recipients (stop smoking, give up your child for adoption, etc). In this view then, truth does not matter. Reality does not matter. What replaces it is a thoroughly moralized view of the world where everything and anything is assessed based on its acceptability to the moral standards based on a nonexistent substance and simple binary oppositions and a catastrophic view of the world (not surprising from people who believe in the Rapture and anxiously await it).

No one should be surprised by this in a society awash in childish religiosity (has anyone forgotten such TV gems as Touched By an Angel and pretty much everything made-for-TV movie on the Hallmarks channel?), refusal of the most basic scientific tenets. If you don’t believe in evolution but believe in black helicopters, it is not a big leap to believe in death panels. Childish religiosity fosters not just ignorance of internal matters but also of other realities of the world, such as the well-functioning health care systems that other developed nations enjoy and how social democracy produces healthy societies without fear of God.

In combination with extreme individualism, this produces a very structurally violent society leading to high levels of interpersonal violence and punitive policies targeted as undesirable categories. Indeed, what is often deplored by such mobs is the fact that some people are NO LONGER being punished for their deviance, or at least less stigmatized (such as single mothers and LGBTs). The laments of political correctness simply mean the frustration of no longer being able to stigmatize perceived deviants through discourse and action.

The aforementioned ignorance is also on display by the lack of awareness of what the government does, exactly. Anyone stating that the government does nothing because they are self-sufficient should be told that they can no longer do the following:

  • Turn on the tap to get water… buy all your water (drinking, washing, showering) in plastic bottles
  • Flush… find another “individual” mechanism to get rid of your waste
  • Flick the switch to get electricity… buy your own private generator
  • Use the roads
  • Use the US dollar… use IOUs with merchants, see how that works out
  • Enjoy public parks
  • Use only private systems for education and health care (and even those should get their own water, power, etc…)

Better yet, get to a state and secede as Governor Perry suggested a while back, as a remedy against the evils of federal monies. Once you’ve seceded, then the US government should do the following:

  • Cut that state off the power grid
  • Cut that state off the water mains
  • Destroy of the interstate highways that criss-cross the state along with rail tracks
  • Destroy all other infrastructure such as bridges, power plants, water sanitation plants, etc.
  • Impose taxes and tariffs on trade with the state, if that state wishes to acquire foreign currencies (such as the US $$) and see if any non-state company will do business with the state
  • Require visas from state denizens if they wish to come to the US and make sure these bastards don’t come illegally
  • Remove all public schools, colleges and universities and public health care facilities
  • Close all government offices

And when the state’s population is plagued by dysentery and lives in the dark  and the cold with no Internet access or cable or satellite (but guns!), they can smoke signal the UN to receive humanitarian aid, to which the UN should reply “F!@#$ you!”.

Alternative Medical Quackery

Read the whole thing , it is well worth it. There are never enough articles debunking alternative medicines and their false promises. It shows that the alternative medical industry is neither medicine not alternative but big business with massive profits to be made.

And when these folks don’t get their way and have their claims challenged?

Hmm… how revealing… they produce legal threats, not evidence.

That guy should not have made the Guardian mad: in addition to Goldacre article, Sarah Boseley goes into the gory details of the promotion of vitamins to cure AIDS (how is that not criminal?) with a video on the same topic. They also provide a biography of Rath.

What an appalling story.

I should mention that the best site of debunking the claims of alternative medical practitioners is Quackwatch (an article from there on Rath).

The Obama Fan Base: Misogynistic Sociopaths

Case in point (I am not linking directly to that vile place, you can follow the link from Corrente,) these lovely comments:

"At the end of WWII, all the French whores who serviced the Germans were rounded up. Their heads were shaved, and they were tarred and feathered.

At the end of a war, the victorious side settles its debts. If you helped, you get a reward. If you did not help, you are in serious trouble.
Posted by dataguy"

"I like the shaven head and tar and feathering idea for Clintonistas!!
Posted by Mandy"

But they’re not misogynistic at all, no no no. And note hateful either. And the rest of the comments are similar. I did not cherry pick, the rest is just as disgusting. I have nothing in common with these people. They are not progressive. They are not liberal.

And for those who would suggest that these are supporters, not Obama himself, let me say this: he encouraged this behavior during the primary because it benefited him. He engaged in it himself. He opened that Pandora’s box.

If a politician attracted the membership of the KKK, we (liberals, progressives) would not even consider supporting him.

If a politician attracts misogynistic sociopaths… you can finish the sentence yourselves.

Idiots Getting What They Deserve – Pamplona Edition

See this?


I’m rooting for the bull here. So, stories like this, in the Independent, do not move me one bit. Anyone who gets hurt in this barbaric "tradition" deserves what they get because this is what they came for. And I can’t understand why the Red Cross even bothers… let these idiots get themselves to the hospital.

And we all know what happened to the animals, right? They all get invariably killed each afternoon.

Slaveholder Gets 11-year Sentence

Here’s to people getting their comeuppance. Enslaving others is one of the most heinous crimes that I can think of. Via the BBC:

"A wealthy New York woman has been sentenced to 11 years in jail for keeping two Indonesian women as slaves. Varsha Mahender Sabhnani, 46, and her husband Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani, 51, kept them as slaves and abused them physically and psychologically. The couple had been found guilty on 12 charges in December, including involuntary servitude, harbouring aliens and forced labour.

Mr Sabhnani is to be sentenced later on Friday and may get a shorter term.

In addition to prison, his Indian-born wife was fined $25,000 (£12,600).

"I just want to say that I love my children very much," she told the federal court in Central Islip, on New York state’s Long Island, as two of her grown children looked on.

"I was brought to this earth to help people who are in need."

Her husband wept as his wife’s sentence was announced."

Aww, that is just so sad… until one discovers what they actually did to the women they brought in as housekeepers:

"The wealthy couple, who run a perfume business and have four children, had brought the women to their large house to work as housekeepers, and forced them to work up to 18 hours a day. The couple were arrested after one of the women was found wandering the streets dressed in only trousers and a towel. (…)

[Prosecutors] described how the two Indonesian women had been punished for misbehaviour such as sleeping late and stealing food from the dustbin to supplement their meagre meals.

The women said they had been beaten with brooms and umbrellas, slashed with knives, made to take freezing showers and climb stairs repeatedly.

One said she had been forced to eat several hot chillies and then her own vomit.

US District Judge Arthur Spatt called the testimony "eye-opening, to say the least – that things like that go on in our country".

He postponed a decision on the amount of back pay owed to the two women. Prosecutors have suggested they were due more than $1.1m.

Lawyers for the accused had argued that the housekeepers practised witchcraft and may have abused themselves."

Oh sure. Please, give me a break. Actually, this description of slavery in the housekeeping business is fairly typical. I guess slaveholders lack imagination when it comes to mistreating their slaves. Anyone familiar with Kevin Bales’s books and work would recognize all the "symptoms" of this situation. It is clearly modern slavery.

The worst part of it is that these people are wealthy. They could perfectly afford to pay market wages for housekeepers and nannies and whatever other services they need. Of course, that would mean having to treat their employees according to the labor codes of this country… which I guess is an inconvenience, better to have slaves.

FTS As always, shameless plug to Free The Slaves. And as Kevin Bales himself stated in the comments of a previous post:

"One of the interesting things about people in slavery is how much they really want a chance to work for themselves and, though it may sound strange to people in the rich North, to become consumers. It is just that for them consumption means three meals a day instead of one, school for their kids, and a chance to live without constant fear. Slavery is a horrible violation of human rights, but once people are out of slavery they really need a chance to build up that minimum of income for a decent life, a chance to learn, and a chance to become citizens. Remarkably the average cost of helping someone in slavery to achieve that level of human dignity is only about $400 – or about $11 billion to end slavery forever – a tiny tiny fraction of the wealth you describe in your post.

For more about how we will end slavery and how much it will cost, see my book Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves. "

Let me add that all proceeds go to helping slaves.

Also check out the videos at Free The Slaves’s Youtube Channel.

The Depressing Headline of the Day

Via The New York Times:

"11-Year-Old Victim to Be Allowed Abortion"

Yup, this is a story out of Romania and it is truly horrifying:

"The government has ruled that a pregnant 11-year-old who was raped by a relative can have an abortion in Romania. Twenty Christian Orthodox church groups have threatened to press charges if the government allows the girl, who is 21 weeks pregnant, to have an abortion in the country, where abortions are illegal beyond 14 weeks of pregnancy unless the woman’s life is endangered. But Theodora Bertzi, a Labor Ministry official and a member of the committee that ruled on the case, said the government had to respect the rights of the child, who told doctors that she had been raped by her 19-year-old uncle. He has disappeared. The position of the church groups was in contrast to the official stand of the Romanian Orthodox Church, which said the decision should be left to the family."

Considering, this abortion (if it does take place) is the least bad possible outcome for the girl. This case illustrates how abortion can actually be a social good. This girl should not have been raped, victim of incest and ended up pregnant. There was only one way to partially correct this: let her have an abortion. Forcing her to go through the pregnancy and to become a mother against her will would only be one more form of victimization.

As for these religious groups? Why don’t they go after the man who raped her? Why don’t they campaign against child rape and incest? Because it seems to me they’ve got too much time on their hands. It is nice to see that the  Church decided to butt out of that one, although it should be noted that it stated that decision should be up to the family, not the girl.

Boycott AP

So, the Associated Press decided to piss off the bloggers by starting to charge fees for quotations in posts or comments by the word. Fine, I was very rarely citing from them anyway but now, I definitely won’t and I hope other boycott them as well.

Boycott AP

Updated : Patrick Nielsen Hayden treats this news with the appropriate amount of snark and contempt it deserves.

The Rovification of the Media and the So-called Progressive Blogosphere

Anyone, with a functioning brain not demented by Clinton Derangement Syndrome, can see that she is making a matter of fact statement: some primaries go all the way to June. Could she have put it better? Yes, probably. But it does not matter for the media and the so-called progressive blogosphere. Both have decided to engage in character assassination (I am using this expression on purpose) and to distort beyond recognition everything that Senator Clinton will say. We might as well get used to it.

Except the loser in this will not be Senator Clinton. It is the media (whose credibility was already shot after their cheerleading of the Bush administration in the run-up to the war in Iraq) and the so-called progressive blogosphere who was supposed to provide the critical political and media analysis that the mainstream corporate media no longer providing. Liberal bloggers not affected by the rabid hatred of Senator Clinton will have to ask themselves where the blogosphere goes from here.

There is no question that a line was crossed yesterday, by the media and the so-called progressive blogosphere. Personally, it has put me on the fence: if Senator Obama becomes the nominee, do I take a break from politics until November or do I actively campaign against him?

And I would also include in this hall of shame the Democratic National Committee who has had its collective thumb on the scale for Senator Obama, as well as anyone involved in the Democratic party leadership. They are actively complicit in the character assassination and blatant misogyny and race-baiting used against Senator Clinton.

So, what do we know now?

Senator Obama, the DNC, the Obama Fan Base have alienated more and more of the Clinton voters, who happen to be the core of the Democratic voting block.

Senator Obama has benefited from the free help from the media, the so-called progressive blogs and all levels of the Democratic party

But these advantages are not enough: Senator Obama cannot have competition, so, Why Won’t the Stupid Bitch Quit already and not behave like the Glenn Close character in Fatal Attraction? Because Senator Obama has never faced a competitive campaign. He and his teams always managed to get rid of competitors one way or the other BEFORE having to compete. And as for his senatorial race, he faced demented carpetbagging Alan Keyes… a hamster would have won that Senate seat.

Oh, and let’s look at one of the lamest excuses ever: with Senator Clinton still in the race, Senator Obama cannot focus on Senator McCain and therefore, Senator Clinton is damaging him. Because, apparently, Senator Obama cannot multi-task… but that’s ok, multi-tasking is not something potential presidents of the United States need. Besides, we already know he’s bored with campaigning and with policy wonkery.

And besides, accepting Senator Obama’s inability to multi-task just for the sake of discussion, you know who could be fighting Senator McCain: the fucking Democratic party! Instead of rigging the game for Senator Obama, they could be taking potshots (oops, can I type that? Will I be accused of inciting murder??) at Senator McCain’s positions and record. They could be fighting the "independent maverick" BS.

So, I guess this primary has been a learning experience for me and many others. I have not given up. I am still fighting for Hillary. She deserves it and I will not fail her.

What I have learned is that Senator Obama is not a progressive politician, he does not represent anything new in politics, he is not an ally to women nor a promoter of women’s rights.

The Democratic party is taking women for granted at its own peril. And guess what, blackmailing us with Roe v. Wade does not work anymore. You know why? Because with a Democratic-dominated Congress, there is no reason to allow a single anti-choice judge to be appointed… if the Democratic leadership had any spine (a big "if" to be sure).

The so-called progressive blogosphere has shown its true colors and they ain’t pretty: misogyny, mob behavior, mass hysteria, character assassination, disloyalty to progressive and liberal principles and I am being kind.

The new democratic party that Senator Obama wants to own and control quasi-exclusively is one with a very narrow and exclusive base, after the abuse, insult and ultimate rejection of the core Democratic base. Core Democratic voters and supporters have now to find a new political structure for themselves because if Senator Obama has his way, this is no longer a party where women, working class folks, and generally anyone unprivileged are welcome.

There is still time to stop this insanity and I hope that there are still some adults who can read electoral data at the DNC, rather than go with groupthink and crowd behavior and just the cheer cravenness of the ATM and coolness that Senator Obama represents.

The only legitimate and viable candidate at this point is Senator Clinton and her supporters and voters are no longer in the mood for consolation prize (VP slot) and have seen the Unity shtick for what it is: a shtick, like everything else Obama, it’s all style and no substance. And once you get past the inspirational / revivalist style that makes teenagers swoon, there is a pretty nasty core of contempt for "the rubes" and "the dry pussy demographic" and "the women’s studies set" or whatever.

Yesterday, you (and we all know who "you" are) crossed a line. But every time you stoop lower than we thought you ever could, you just strengthen our resolve. We will not let you push Senator Clinton out of this race. She will win (hopefully) or she will bow out gracefully, in which case, you’re on your own for the rest of the campaign.

And don’t bother guilt-tripping us. You made that bed, you now lie in it.

Patriarchy in All Shapes and Forms – Only Old Men Count

Considering my previous post, this is both sexist, stupid and enraging:

“A Chilean mayor is to hand out free potency pills to older people in his municipality near the capital Santiago. Mayor Gonzalo Navarette Munoz says he wants to improve their quality of life by giving them free access to Viagra. He will give men aged 60 or over in the working-class suburb of Lo Prado the chance to get their potency pills courtesy of the taxpayer. He says he was inspired by complaints from older patients about their poor sex lives while working as a doctor. “This is about giving our elderly population a better quality of life,” he told Chile’s national press. Mr Navarette says that within the next few days physicians will start dispensing the drugs at their surgeries and his office will pick up the bill. (…) He intends to hand out Viagra four times a month to every man who asks for it and passes a medical.”

Note how “older people” and “patients” and “elderly population” actually means older men. Because, obviously, the good mayor has no good ideas to improve the quality of life of older women. They are simply non-existent in this scheme.

This is a common device through which dominant group maintain their privileged position: by being treated not as a specific category with specific categorical interests (as older men, whose supposed interest is to increase their sexual potency, because, apparently, their quality of life depends on it), but as a generic category (“our elderly population”), representative of everybody in the category. So, doing what is in the interest of a specific group (older men) becomes synonymous with doing what is in the interest of the entire population (“older people”).

I’m betting no one has bothered to ask what older women want to improve their quality of life. And I’m not sure that a bunch of geezers with permanent boners would be the answer.