Postcards from the culture wars

Christ could throw a punch.”

“Unquestionably, Big Mountain Jesus is a religious symbol commonly associated with one form of religion.”

“Life is difficult enough for most people without having a gaggle of pampered nags shouting, ‘You’re not doing it right!’

“It seems the Catholic bishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, has been paying for insurance for some of his employees that covers abortions and contraceptives.”

“Conservative frequently treat the Constitution the same way they treat the Bible. They want to prooftext, and it you can’t prooftext then it’s not in the document.”

The people the Republicans should reach out to are the white votes.”

“I’m going to be real honest with you — the Republican Party doesn’t want black people to vote.”

Don’t excuse or minimize this behavior; don’t remind me that you don’t participate; don’t play the ‘what about the men’ card.”

“The next time you hear that I am upset for how I was treated on the street, don’t just offer up words that say it’s okay. Get angry like I am and vow to help change our society.”

“This translates to 20 percent of homeless women citing domestic violence as the primary reason for homelessness, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.”

“I would like to offer Ross a brief guide to the ways in which women and their vaginas are not like cars and laptops.”

“The misogynist longing for female death isn’t even really subtextual at this point, but right there on the surface. And if you won’t choose death, well, they’ll choose it for you.”

I’m sad that she doesn’t understand.”

“How, pray tell, is allowing low-income women of color non-judgmental access to birth control more dangerous than a group of terrorists who would burn a cross on my lawn?”

“And that is the face of the pro-life movement, folks …”

We don’t need more women as CEOs.”

“Complementarians put women into a mold they were never obligated to fill.”

If I’m a vegetarian and I eat 2,000 hamburgers in the name of vegetarianism, I’m still not a ‘vegetarian extremist,’ because I just did something that’s against the whole concept of being a vegetarian.”

It hurts.”

“Now shut up and post up, sinner.”


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  • Huitzil

    Why is sexual harassment more important to worry about than other forms? Because it fits into the threat narrative of brutish men harming pure women. That is all. Sexual harassment, solely because it is seen as an action by men (who are agents) against women (who are victims), becomes inflated in importance, so that every instance of it is of dire severity, something nobody should have to put up with, no matter how minor; all other forms of harassment are ignored and outside perception.

    Why should “a man brushed my leg in a way I didn’t like” be something I give a shit about, much less something I am shamed into acting upon? Because it’s sexual harassment? Hey, you know what happened to me in school? I was beaten regularly by boys and publicly humiliated and degraded by girls. A boy grabbed your breasts until you yelled for him to stop? People I had never met before at a fucking summer camp held me down and tried to smother me with a pillow while I screamed for help. Someone offered to “let” you give him a blow job? The prospect of going out with me was regularly used as a “dare” by girls, who had to “ask me out” to fulfill it, in public, laughing uproariously at the notion that someone like me was worthy of attention. Men whistle at you and call out “Heyyyy, ladies!”? How many times have you been mugged, or just jumped by people who wanted to beat your ass for the fun of beating your ass?

    Why are your experiences all important enough to gain you sympathy while mine will be invariably used to mock me? Why is that not indicative of a larger social problem but your experiences are? Because, and only because, your experiences fit the threat narrative you have constructed, and your confirmation bias latches onto them and ignores everything else. Men sexually proposition and demean women, men physically harm men, women undermine and isolate women, and women humiliate or make sexual demands of men. But the threat narrative is men threatening women, so only that first behavior can be seen as a pervasive problem, only that first problem can be seen AT ALL.

    You aren’t entitled to my fucking emotional support. If you come to me crying that those brutish men said sexual comments in ways you didn’t like and it threatened your pure, virtuous, victimized femininity, the only reason I am going to say “Well, men aren’t all like that” is so you’ll go away and stop complaining to me without having to get involved in emotionally supporting you. And because I know you’ll just start yelling at me if I say what I am really thinking, which is “Men antagonized by other men are being beaten, men antagonized by women are either being publicly humiliated or coerced into doing things for her under the threat that she’ll turn others against him, women antagonized by other women are being sabotaged and having their relationships destroyed. And you want me to care the most about someone whistling at you. Grow the fuck up.”

  • All of the above have happened to me as well. They and routine crushing of my self-esteem, abuses by my parents, betrayal of my faith and other incidents led to my becoming a literal sociopath, diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder.

    Oddly enough, I’ve still come to the conclusion that women are specifically targeted for certain types of abuse by men and that they deserve a measure of respect and trust. What’s your excuse for being an asshole?

  • Okay, at this point? All you seem to be doing is lashing out at everyone here under the guise of falling into the “Mens’ Rights Activists” train of dismissing the problem of systemic socially acceptable misbehavior against women by men.

    It should be noted that it is often the very same man who’s all “Hey! Stop telling me you hate men!” who turns around and generalizes about women the way he thinks the woman is generalizing about men:

    “Bitches are all permanently on PMS.”

    “Why do women always act so touchy-feely?”

    “Buy a girl an expensive diamond ring, that’ll shut her up.”

    “Ladder theory.”

    and so on.

  • themunck

    *Looks up ‘ladder theory’. Uses it to store opinions he’s previously simply stored under ‘blatant sexism’*
    Well, at least I have a name for it now…

  • Huitzil

    The “systematic socially acceptable behavior against women by men” is the LEAST socially acceptable of the four types of gender-based antagonism, but we’re supposed to care about it EVEN MORE than we already do, even though we already care about it more than the other three? Why? Because it fits the threat narrative and the other three do not. That is all.

    Also, it should be noted that you’re not even just generalizing men, you are just imagining reasons why I am worthy of dismissal in order to dismiss me. Your accusation is based on, literally, nothing more than the fact that you dislike me and disagree with me, so therefore, misogynistic comments can be fabricated and ascribed to me.

  • The “systematic socially acceptable behavior against women by men” is
    the LEAST socially acceptable of the four types of gender-based

    You would think, but the fact is there have been surveys that suggest that as long as you don’t use the word “rape”, quite a sizable fraction of men will admit to doing things that violated the consent of a woman, or would do such things.

    So yes, there is still widespread structural reinforcement of the attitude that a man is expected to push into a woman’s comfort zone because she “really means yes when she says no” or because she’s “been giving mixed signals”, so just be pushy and she’ll cave in for good.

    And of course I dislike you. Your spleen-venting is really quite repellent.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Citations needed.

  • Huitzil

    Which “quite a sizable fraction”? The last study I saw that was not obviously and hilariously biased to the point of uselessness said six percent. Which is not a sizable fraction at all!

  • EllieMurasaki

    That rather depends on what the baseline is supposed to be. Since the baseline of human decency includes ‘don’t be a rapist’, six percent of men being unaware that things they have done include rape is horrifyingly large.

  • Huitzil

    Shifting goalposts. At first it is “sizable fraction”, when this is challenged, it collapses with no acknowledgment it ever existed, to “any percentage is too high”. Any percentage of men who would harm women is too high, of course. The percentage of men who would harm men, women who would harm women, or women who would harm men were not even brought up in the study because nobody gives a shit about victimization that doesn’t fit their threat narrative; the absence of people looking into these narratively-inconvenient numbers is then used as evidence they must not exist or be notable at all. “I don’t want to consider the possibility that the same or higher proportion of women would disregard male lack of consent, so the issue doesn’t exist, now let’s focus on how everything is about how male agents harm female victims, always and forever” is not an argument.

  • Yeah. It’s some kind of dumb-assed precursor to the “friend zone” meme.

    I mean, when it starts out with “It also covers such topics as why women sometimes just want to be friends but men always want sex.” you know it totally buys into the smorgasbord of preconceived sexist notions about how men and women think.

    (and speaking as a man, it’s rather unflattering to be thought of as a walking permanent erection.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m not Invisible Neutrino. Therefore, when I assert a thing that does not necessarily comport with what Invisible Neutrino asserted, no goalposts are being shifted.

  • Carstonio

    I’ll let others here explain how mistaken you are about sexual harassment, since I’ve never experienced it. I went through the same mistreatment you did. In high school I spent every night in my room because the mistreatment had left me anxious around other people, particularly other males. But I never viewed myself as being in a contest to see who was the most persecuted. Instead, I concluded that no one should have to be mistreated that way. Very sad that your anger isn’t directed where it belongs, which is at people who mistreat others.

  • Amtep

    That she’ll run is part of my prediction :)
    I guess I should bookmark this post for 2016.

  • Amtep

    It would be nice but I don’t think there’s any chance of that. The winner-takes-all election system just isn’t stable at more than two parties. Multiple parties would be a temporary situation; the smallest ones will disappear until there are two left, and then the remaining two will move to the center and have almost identical platforms. There’s some fancy math to prove this but it doesn’t fit in this comment box ;)

    Of course, that’s only a long term trend; in the short term, interesting things can happen. And in the REALLY long term, any system is bound to be overturned sometime.

  • *cough* Canada *cough*

    Not a two-party system

    Uses First Past The Post

  • themunck

    Then consider this a hope to remove the [expletive deleted] winner takes all system? I never understood why the heck people have decided to needs to remain. Gore won the freaking popular vote, for Cthulhu’s sake! Why insist on a system where the most votes do not, in fact, determine the winner?

  • Amtep

    It’s not? I admit I don’t know much about Canada :) But wikipedia (“Elections in Canada”) actually links to “Two-party system” when it says the same two parties have taken turns governing since 1867 until an upset in 2011.

  • Amtep

    I think that for a true change you need to go to a proportional system, such as the parliamentary systems in Europe where the seats in parliament are distributed according to the results of the national vote and the administration is created by an alliance of parties that together have more than 50%. This would be a big shift though, since it would mean the elected positions would no longer represent geographical constituencies. (I do know of hybrid systems where the national vote is divided among the parties, but the party members that fill the seats have to be drawn from the regions where people voted for them)

  • themunck

    Indeed. My home country (Denmark) has such a hybrid system, and quite frankly, I find it superior to the American model :/

  • themunck

    *sighs* And here I had happily repressed the memory of that thread. :/

  • FearlessSon

    Well, I try to adopt a Fred-like optimism about the motivations of those with whom I disagree. Trying to think of my fellow citizens as something other than tyrannical monsters is the reality I prefer, and what I would hope separates me from the extreme rhetoric of the kind the Tea Party has been spouting.

    I will concede that there are some pretty bad things going on strategically for the Republican party in a lot of states. But I think that for a lot of the rank-and-file this is less about malice than it is about (sometimes willful) invisibility privilege. They are well off enough that they can comfortably ignore the situation of those less well off, and thus they feel no sympathy for them.

    Of course, a corollary of Hanlon’s Razor is that any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

    Then again, I may be showing a little privilege myself here. Growing up in and living in one of the more liberal parts of the country, most of the conservatives I meet kind of have to be moderate to get any traction at all.

  • FearlessSon

    I think that will actually be healthier for the Republican party and the United States in general if they do split. The third party might snag a few local victories, but the Republicans would actually have a shot at the White House again and would need to become more moderate and more open to compromise to actually make it.

    The third party, meanwhile, would falter at the national level. The most extreme parties always do.

  • Lori

    I’m related to some of those rank-and-file and personally know plenty of others. They’re more than just privilege-blind.

  • David S.

    So does the US. First past the post is one of the chief causes of a two-party system.

  • caryjamesbond

    As far as I can tell,your entire line of argument, including your rant above, boils down to “some people are shitheads.” Which, yes they are. And that sucks.

    I don’t know where your claims are coming from, that somehow sexual harassment is *MORE* socially unacceptable than other claims you make.

    Lets break it down:

    Men are violent towards other men- jumping them, mugging them, etc. etc.

    If I get jumped tomorrow, or mugged, I can go into a police station with a reasonable assurance that they won’t blame it on me, ask what I was wearing. The only exceptions to this might be if me, a clearly middle class white boy, was in certain neighborhoods that middle class white boys only enter to buy drugs, and even then, they’d be more likely to hunt down my assailants than those a woman raped by a friend in her bedroom.

    Women are violent towards men-controlling them with social threats.

    I’m sure somewhere in the world there are women who seek to use that sort of thing to control some guys because, hey, 7 billion people, everything happens to someone sooner or later. If I were, as a white man stuck in that situation, and were to accuse her of, essentially, being a controlling golddigger just after my money, NO ONE WOULD QUESTION THAT. Because “Controlling golddigger just after your money” is a common social trope about women.

    Women are violent towards women-bullying, assault, etc.

    Actually, you have something of a point there. However, in the recent past, a lot more focus has been put on female/female bullying. Not perfect, obviously, but it is no longer unimaginable to school administrators, nor is it AS likely to be dismissed as “mean girls” or some such.

    Tl;dr- as a white dude, I can confidently say that women being assaulted is NOT the top priority for any sort of official body. My being assaulted, however, is.

  • themunck

    I wish I could share your belief that they would, but in my own experiance about extreme parties…look the People’s Party of Denmark. Or the Party for Freedom in the Nederlands. :/

  • AnonaMiss

    The prospect of going out with me was regularly used as a “dare” by girls, who had to “ask me out” to fulfill it, in public, laughing uproariously at the notion that someone like me was worthy of attention.

    Oh noooo how dare the wimmins have been so mean to you, men would never do something like-

    Oh wait some dudes did that to me my entire freshman year of high school. And it only stopped because I changed schools (for unrelated reasons). Shock – a girl so hideous that dudes didn’t want to go out with her! And laugh at the very thought, to her face!

    Why are your experiences all important enough to gain you sympathy while mine will be invariably used to mock me?

    Sure is a lot of sympathy people get for being victims of sexual harrassment and assault. Why, in that Steubenville case, the victim got so much sympathy that the rapists had no chance of getting away with slaps on the wrist, especially given that they uploaded the evidence to the internet to brag about it. News networks all over the country were demonizing her attackers, you have no idea.

    Sarcasm aside, you won’t find anyone mocking you for being the victim of assaults here. The idea that being assaulted makes you less of a man – the way people shame assault victims into keeping their mouths shut – it sucks, man, it really does. Third wave feminism is against that. If you ever decide to get out there and do some anti-assault-culture activism, talk to some feminist, gay, and anti-bullying activists and I’m sure they’ll be happy to help give you the knowledge and tools you need to get that started. Actually, that’s just basic anti-bullying activism extended to the adult world, so they’d probably be your best starting place.

    Of course, nobody’s ever going to insinuate that you secretly wanted to be thrown to the ground and have your face bashed into the pavement. Or tell you that you’re obviously lying, because you aren’t pretty enough, so who would assault you? No one’s ever insinuated that a dude will never be able to find love because he got his face stomped once, or that a dude should gay-marry the guy who stomped his face, because who else will ever want him? And of course, a guy is never going to be forced into bearing the child of the guy who stomped his face, who he then has to see every couple weeks for the rest of his life because of visitation rights…

    So, you know. It might be a good idea not to whine about how feminists are trying to take away public attention that should rightfully be on your problems. People might think you were an asshole.

  • caryjamesbond

    The electoral system, as I always have to explain, makes a whole ton of sense… 1790. When you want people from Maine to Kentucky to Alabama to be voting, AND you’ve got no freaking roads or telegraphs, the electoral system works quite nicely.

    The problem with changing it is, I would guess in rough order:

    There is a LOT of effort sunk into keeping it this way. A LOT of experts on gaming the system get paid a lot of money every four years.

    It would mess up campaigns like WOAH- and no politician wants to actually have to pay attention to all those goddamned one electoral vote states.

    No one really wants to mess with it, because it mostly works and we’re a little scared of what they’ll come up with to replace it.

  • AnonaMiss

    Oh hey, it’s Paul Durant! I remember that name.

    Shame he’s sullying Nahuatl with his new screenname.

  • David S.

    But the thing is, a two party system moderates that. Splitting the votes by party gives the parties supported by 5% of the population 5% of the representation, instead of the 0% a winner take all system would give them.

  • David S.

    Why would they have to pay attention to those one electoral vote states anyway? There’s no votes there. The big difference would be heavily populated areas that lean one way or the other so hard it doesn’t matter; Republicans would have to go to New York and Democrats to Texas, because adding a million votes there would actually matter.

  • themunck

    Oh? In my mind, it can amplify them as well, if they rise to the top of one of the parties. The republicans and democrats both represent a lot of values the majority of their voters do not support, in effect giving some positions far more power than they would have in a multi-party system.

  • caryjamesbond

    On the contrary, it’d lead to a locking down of your base to an even greater extent. The dakotas and montana are going against me anyway, so I can either travel all over hell and gone to get a few extra votes, or stay home and try to convince a million new yorkers that have never voted that today is the day.

    Otoh, republicans, who have no foothold in most cities, would spend their time running around hell and gone getting their base fired up.

    So, yeah-it’d probably favor Dems, actually, to get ridof it, since our base tends to be urban and therefore more easily accessible.

  • Counterargument: Sizable blocs of NDP and Bloc Quebecois seats.

  • Counterargument: Sizable blocs of NDP and Bloc Quebecois seats in previous elections.

  • Lorehead

    If her plan stood a chance of working in the real world, Oregon would be a deep red state now. A lot of white people are disgusted by them.

    I’ve changed my mind and now think it’s too late to save the Republican party. When the realignment shakes out, there will still be two major parties unless the election rules have drastically changed by constitutional amendment. But neither of those parties will be called the Republican party.

    It’s now inevitable that some Republicans with microphones are going to try this strategy, and tepid criticism from the Establishment won’t matter. Like Todd Akin, the people blowing up outreach will set the tone. It’s much too late to start trying to repair the burnt bridges now. They’re going to offend so many people that the brand will become unelectable outside the Bible Belt. Eventually, the Democratic party will split, my guess is with the left wing walking out on the next neoliberal centrist after Hillary Rodham Clinton.

  • Lorehead

    Parliamentary systems can have regional parties that contest seats in different parts of the country and form coalitions to govern. (There’s no reason Elizabeth Warren and Max Baucus need to both call themselves Democrats when Bernie Sanders and Angus King don’t.) Because America, instead of the run-off system everyone else who’s seen our example uses instead, has a presidential election system that is broken in every sense of the word, a race with three truly viable candidates would be a slow-motion train wreck. If nobody got a majority of the electoral vote, the election would get thrown into the House under a bizarre and senseless set of rules.

  • Lorehead

    She hasn’t announced one way or the other. Personally, I think you don’t publicly say things like, “I would like to see whether I can get untired,” unless you really mean them.

  • Lorehead

    A determination to keep the Republicans from getting back into power is the only thing keeping the Democratic party together now. You might have a blue-green split in the one-party states that still gets behind a single presidential candidate just to keep another fiasco from happening in the electoral college like it did in 2000.

  • Turcano
  • I’m inclined to agree with Rhubarbarian and Llira — you should probably give this guy the metaphorical boot. You need someone who has your back concerning sexual assault, coercion, etc.

  • banancat

    So, I know you have the best intentions, but as someone who has witnessed numerous abusive relationships, I think it’s less helpful than you realize. Whether she dumped him is not relevant to this issue. He may or may not abusive but is clearly behaving wrongly. And yet, it’s still all on him to behave better, not on her to make him behave better by teaching him a lesson. And if she didn’t dump him and he continues to treat her badly, it’s still not her fault for not dumping him after this incident. As much as I would love to see all the good people just give up on the bad ones and cut them out of our collective lives, real life is a bit more complicated than that and it’s not up to anyone else to tell someone who she should stop dating.

  • banancat

    I don’t think the Republican party will collapse that easily. They’ll continue to lose popular support, but their power is concentrated among the most privileged and powerful groups. They’ll counter their dwindling popularity by disenfranchising groups that tend to vote Democractic. I think they’ll face enough opposition to these sleazy methods that they won’t actually win the presidency, but they will loose by a close enough margin to pretend they’re still relevant, and then they’ll continue to make gains in local elections through their dirty means and exert their power there, even if that power is nothing more than obstructing Democrats.

    I think they are making a futile attempt and will eventually die out (fairly literally as their key demographic gets older and older) if they don’t have some kind of massive overhaul. But much like a cranky toddler protesting bed time, they will put up as much of a fight as they can muster on the way down.

  • I’m… honestly not seeing a “it’s wrong for you not to dump him” vibe here. Baby_Raptor shared some of her personal life with us and solicited some feedback. If she says, “No, this guy has enough positive qualities to make up for this,” I don’t think anyone here is going to say, “No, you’re wrong!” or “Don’t blame me if this turns out badly.”

    (And I do hope this doesn’t turn into another, “How dare you say this!” “Well, how dare you say that!” shouting match.)

  • banancat

    Let me just share my little experience of harassment. I have lived in several cities and visited many more, and for whatever reason, the culture in Philadelphia is very harassment-prone. Not the worst I’ve experienced, but pretty consistent. To the point that when I use public transit, I expect to get harassed and expend mental energy trying to decide how to avoid it.

    I now live in a Philly suburb and last Friday I went into the city to meet up with some friends. I took the regional rail in, and got off at a station, intending to walk to the bar from there. Sure enough, some guy feigned being lost, acted really weird when I stated the obvious that he was where he intended to be and he needed to only walk up the stairs, and then tried to sidle up next to me to look at my phone when I pretended to be busy. I’ve dealt with this frequently enough that I stopped caring about being polite and just walked away. When I got to the door leading outside, I realized I would be better served by getting on the subway that passed through the station I was already at. But that would require me going back downstairs and possibly encountering the creeper again. I seriously considered just walking in the rain for 2 miles. I don’t know what ultimately decided it, but I did end up going back and he wasn’t there.

    I have encountered analogous situations literally dozens of times. I can think of only one occasion on Philly transit that I didn’t encounter a creeper. But that night, for some reason, for the very first time I realized how outrageous this is. I had become so used to it that I had internalized it. But I realized that I shouldn’t have to face this type of thing every time I just want to go somewhere. I shouldn’t have to decide between walking in the rain or potentially being molested.

    So yeah, most men don’t do it. But enough do that I encounter it on a routine basis. So any men who are reading this, please look out for those men and tell them to cut it out.

  • banancat

    I know it isn’t intended to come off that way, but honestly the whole thing is a tangent and he was wrong whether she ends up dumping him or not. I’ve known so many people with manipulative or abusive partners, and it has never been productive to tell the person that the partner doesn’t deserve a relationship. What has helped is telling the person they they don’t deserve to be treated badly.

  • Lorehead

    I’m very sorry you have to go through that. The difficulty with your suggestion is that they don’t ever do it in front of me. In fact, I was shocked when women told me what was going on behind my back.

  • Lorehead

    I predict that, when it happens, the collapse will be rapid. As you say, the most privileged and powerful groups are behind them—but the smart money really wants to win and can just as easily buy off the Democrats. If Chris Christie and Susan Collins announced that they were leaving the party tomorrow, the Republican party in the Northeast and the West Coast would, in practical terms, no longer exist. (They keep a few safe House seats, but that’s it.) And if they can’t get elected president as a Republican, why shouldn’t they? Angus King proved that an independent with name recognition can win a senate seat in Maine. One could certainly win in New Jersey. Indeed, if they, Michael Bloomberg and Lincoln Chafee came up with a new label for themselves, you’d have a north-south split. Why tie yourself to the regional permanent minority party of old rural straight white southern Christian men?