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.


Hey, Nicolas Sarkozy, !@#$ You!

You’d think the French Left would be all over this and would rip Sarko a new one. Especially regarding this monumental and yet oft-repeated piece of BS:

"Religion had an "irreplaceable role in the formation of the human conscience" and ethics."

ASA Meeting – Day 1

Things that suck:

  • Having one’s flight delayed for 2 hours because of a big time thunderstorm in Chicago
  • Being seated on the plane next to a big guy (so, no armrest separation possible) who progressively opens his legs wider and wider… guys, keep your goddamn legs together and stop encroaching on women’s already drastically limited legspace, ok?
  • Being surrounded by people who must think their disgusting habits have to be shared in public (picking one’s nose, chewing gum with one goddamn mouth open and making a lot of slushy noice, manicuring oneself by opening one’s mouth really wide and shoving half one’s big finger in there)… seriously, I wish there were 2 economy cabins: one of normal people like me, who just read, rest and have their Ipods on. And then one for families with kids and people with gross habits… a sealed and soundproof cabin for them… heck, different flights altogether.
  • Being then 2 hours late at one’s destination so that I missed the plenary session of the day with ASA President Arne Kalleberg, Christopher Jencks, Bob Kuttner (of the American Prospect… these guys must love the ASA cuz they always show up), and Donna Shalala…. !@#$… it looked like a great discussion with a great topic: "Reinventing the American Dream" in the context of globalization, neo-liberalism and increasing inequalities.
  • Attending a Marxist Section while sleep deprived… and what a panel: Stanley Aronowitz, Douglas Kellner (blog) (the other guys, not so great)… the topic: the future of the Frankfurt School after Adorno… (following quote about Adorno at the link should be the motto for PB2.0: "In order to become a better society, we need to overcome this basic problem of communication. We need to speak the Truth, not our own personal truth. We need to rid our discussions of the stereotypes, the advertisements, the put-downs, and especially the lies. In doing so, we will be able to discuss what is really important: the ideas.") great but geez, I do NOT like psychoanalysis. There, I’ve said it!
  • Having 4 session that look interesting all scheduled at 2:30pm, and none at 4:30pm (although helps with the sleep deprivation thing).
  • Forgetting to get utensils at the Indian fast food where I bought dinner… I shall not reveal what I used as forks, knives and spoon to eat my basmati rice and palak paneer.

Things that DO NOT suck

Parents and Witch Doctors can be Deadly


buttonApril 25th 2008 is World Malaria Day. So, to mark the occasion, we have this little gem from the Independent:

“The treasures hidden deep in the jungles of Sierra Leone are powerful. Potions cooked up from bits of bark in bubbling vats genuinely have healing properties. But they can also kill, and this is why medical charities are going into battle with the witch doctors of the west African country. Take malaria, which kills more than a million people every year – more than 90 per cent of them in Africa. Today, World Malaria Day, nearly 3,000 children will die. On average, the impact of the illness slows economic growth rates by more than a percentage point: another thing that Sierra Leone, the world’s least-developed country, could do without.”

The problem is that malaria medications can be expensive and sometimes useless (because of drug resistance) and that health clinics in Africa are few and far between. So what do you do when you or your children get it? My new age colleagues (as in “people used to be able to cure everything with natural remedies before the pharmaceutical industry ruined everything” kind of people) notwithstanding, these herbal bush remedies can be deadly.

“MSF is training villagers to give speedy, free malaria tests and treatment in 200 villages across the south of the country. Even in the hot, hilly capital Freetown, there are painted sheets stretched across roadsides depicting a range of illnesses that native doctors can “treat”– from malaria to being attacked by a winged gremlin. Their pharmacies include potions, leaves, bits of bark and tree. “We have so many of these quacks and they don’t know the job properly,” said one villager volunteering with the MSF scheme.”

How about everybody coughs up some money for bed nets to poor people? That would be a good idea. It is cheap and it eliminates 90% of cases of malaria when used properly.

Ok, we’re done with quacks, now, let me get to the deadly stupidity of parents, this time, via the BBC,

“A new vaccine for girls to prevent cervical cancer was rejected by 20% of parents during a trial, a study says. The jab, being rolled out in the UK this year, has proved controversial as it works by making girls immune to a sexually transmitted infection. Most parents did not give reasons for refusing, although a tiny number cited fears about promoting sexual behaviour. The Manchester University researchers said increased publicity about the benefits would allay fears.”

And here I thought that kind of stupidity was limited to religious nuts and conservatives here. At least we were spared the anti-vaccination argument, that’s something. When hundreds of lives could be saved every year, there is no discussion. Vaccination should be mandatory, no discussion, no exceptions.

No Paris-Dakar Rally… Aww, What a Shame

From the BBC,

“The 2008 Dakar Rally has been cancelled because of safety concerns in the African republic of Mauritania.”

Let me say, for the record, I don’t give a damn. It irks me when wealthy Westerners use Africa as their personal playground. Let them have their damn rally in Europe and see how the locals love it when they have hundreds of speeding cars, motorcycles and trucks drive by at supersonic speed with no concerns for the the people or the environment.