And it’s not even my birthday!

[CONTENT NOTE: misogyny including slurs, racism, violence against logic, incoherence, banality, Nazis, sex toys.]

I had almost forgotten about this, what with all my squirrel monitoring duties and sofa painting and suchlike. But buried in my inbox was a gift from the WordPress gods in the form of two consecutive auto-moderated comments, written in response to a post I wrote back in July about the harms of benevolent sexism, and purporting to offer “an opposing viewpoint.”

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Conservatives ruining everything as usual, this time in Michigan.

[CONTENT NOTE: sexual harassment, assault and rape.]

Well this is an interesting story:

The battle over Michigan State University’s women-only lounge began with a rival school’s male professor.

Mark Perry, who teaches economics at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus, had stumbled upon a news story about the 91-year-old room in MSU’s sprawling student union. “They’d written about what a great space this is for women,” Perry said. “They can go in and take a nap and not be worried about being bothered.”

So a d00d professor at a different college read about this great space for women at MSU, a place where they can relax and study without worry of being harassed by—let’s be clear here—men. And he said to himself, “Wow, I’m so glad for the women of MSU. I wonder how I can help institute the same thing here at University of Michigan?”

Hahaha. I’m just kidding.

He figured it couldn’t be legal. Banning men from a taxpayer-funded study area, Perry thought, could violate Title IX, a federal law meant to protect gender equality on college campuses. So he contacted the school. Nothing changed. He sent a complaint to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights in June, but the department would not accept it because Perry had not personally endured discrimination.

Professor Perry’s Civil Rights™ were totally being violated at a different university where he neither attended nor worked. Won’t someone think of the discrimination this man did not endure?

Then a writer for conservative news site The Daily Caller highlighted his grievance in a July 12 story.

His grievance, people. This poor man was aggrieved! And nobody cared…except for one heroic blogger at The Daily Commode.

Perry, who blogs about financial issues for the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think [sic] tank, followed up with a post of his own the next day: “Is it really legal for a public university to blatantly violate the civil rights of 50% of its student body?”

Next up from the nutty professor: “Is it really legal for a public university to blatantly violate the civil rights of 50% of its student body by prohibiting men in women’s locker rooms and showers?”

Two days later, MSU quietly shuttered the women-only lounge.

Female students promptly revolted.

Alyssa Maturen, 19, had just switched dormitories to live closer to the lounge, where she studied at least three times weekly. The sophomore marine biology major preferred the option to MSU’s gender-neutral places, where, she said, male students have interrupted work to ask her out.

She created a petition on July 18, writing, “Together we can take back our lounge.” By Wednesday, nearly 5,000 people had signed it.

“I’m signing because as a male, I’ve never felt threatened in a public space in my life, but every woman I know has,” one student commented on the Change.org petition. “I’ve never had to worry about people staring at me or coming up to me and forcing conversation on me while I’m trying to study, but every female college student I know has.”

“I myself have specifically used the women’s study lounge when initially going to the co-ed area to study, but then was harassed by a male student especially late in the evening, which continued even once I told him that I couldn’t talk and had to get my work done,” wrote another.

“I’m signing this because I use this space and it is one of the few areas that I feel safe,” wrote another.

WHAT?! Safe spaces are for “coddling students who can’t handle the real world.” If you find you need a safe space on a college campus, you need to “leave, go home, hug your teddy & suck your thumb until ready for university.” OBVIOUSLY.

Let’s just take a look at the “real world” at MSU, shall we?

Close to 25 percent of female undergraduate students at Michigan State University have been sexually assaulted and 12 percent have been victims of attempted or completed rape, according to a survey conducted by MSU and the Association of American Universities.

Of female students surveyed, 24.8 percent experienced completed or attempted nonconsensual penetration or sexual touching involving physical force or incapacitation…Of female MSU students raped through physical force, 71.9 percent did not report the incident.

Well golly. That’s ONE IN FOUR. But why would women not report their violent rapes? How can we blame help victims if they won’t even do us the courtesy of coming forward?! Hmmm

The U.S. Department of Education determined Michigan State University did not do enough to investigate two Title IX complaints and had a poor process for dealing with sexual assault accusations.

In a report released [in September 2015], federal investigators said MSU’s process for dealing with sexual assault complaints was not compliant with Title IX regulations. Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex.

“Its failure to address complaints of sexual harassment and sexual violence in a prompt and equitable manner caused and may have contributed to a continuation of a sexually hostile environment for numerous students and staff on campus during the years covered by [the Office of Civil Rights]’s investigation, 2009 to 2014,” the report stated.

O.o

Alyssa Maturen’s petition to reopen the women’s study lounge also notes that the “lounge was a space where sexual assault victims could go and feel safe, a space away from their attacker.” I mean, what kind of world do we live in where we can just violate the civil rights of harassers and rapists willy-nilly? All men must have access to every space, including—nay, especially!—those where women victims of sexual assault and harassment seek refuge. To ban men from a single room is the exact same thing as denying them access to educational opportunities on the basis of sex! This is nothing short of persecution at its most egregious, people. MISANDRY!!!11!!

Some faculty members don’t think Title IX belongs in the discussion.

“It’s disturbing and troubling to see Title IX invoked in this manner,” said Lisa Schwartzman, associate chair and graduate program director of MSU’s philosophy department. “The Women’s Lounge is the one women-only space on campus. The claim that its very existence denies men access to an equal education is absurd.”

Perry disagrees. The Flint professor notes that women now outpace men in college enrollment and degree attainment…You can make a case that men need more help than women on certain dimensions,” he said. “Men are the ones that have fallen behind on college campuses.”

Now I’m just spitballin’ here, but maybe if there weren’t so many entitled creeps among them, men as a group would have better academic outcomes? It seems like it would be kind of difficult to disturb, harass or sexually assault ONE IN FOUR women while simultaneously focusing on one’s coursework.

Title IX was passed in 1972, stating that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Still, Adaku Onyeka-Crawford, counsel for education at the National Women’s Law Center, said Title IX has allowed for single-sex housing and single-sex facilities.

Not to mention single-sex sports programs. I guess none of the colleges that receive federal funding has an all-male football team. Who knew? Hopefully someone will come along soon and mansplain to me how the existence of a women’s locker room study lounge interferes in any way with the educational programs, activities or opportunities available to men at MSU. Well, except for the constitutionally guaranteed opportunity to harass women everywhere at all times. That’s the civil right that’s really important here. Not, say, a woman’s right (under Title IX or otherwise) to access educational programs, activities or opportunities at a university without being constantly preyed upon by entitled douchebros.

Of course, conservatives hate Title IX; they are uniformly opposed to equality in principle. Shutting down the women’s lounge is typical of their transparent and petty “gotcha!” game, wherein they pretend to care about gender equality while perfectly demonstrating that their views are exactly opposite. I doubt I need to remind anyone here that these are the same assholes who want to strictly segregate everyone based on their biological sex in public restrooms, FFS.

If we lived in a world where equality existed, women would not require separate spaces to avoid harm by men. But we do not live in that world. Here in the real world, safe spaces for women are needed to mitigate gender inequality. Not because women are weak (they are not) or need to be coddled (they do not) but because they can sometimes use, you know, a break from gendered harassment and abuse in order to fucking read a textbook.

Alyssa Maturen’s petition to reopen the women’s lounge is here if you’re inclined to sign and share it.

Here’s a suggestion: if men are such fragile incompetents that they simply cannot take advantage of all the educational opportunities and activities at a publicly funded college if they are denied access to the women’s study lounge, maybe they need to leave, go home, hug their teddies and suck their thumbs until ready for university.

Oh, and one more thing.

Michigan State was one of more than 100 schools being investigated for similar Title IX complaints. Among them was the University of Michigan; the report from that investigation has yet to be issued.

I’m sure with such exemplary professors as Mark Perry running around, the University of Michigan has absolutely nothing to worry about.

Jerry Coyne at BHA 2016—Part 3: Yes and hahaha no.

UPDATE: WordPress apparently black holed a few of sentences re: Purvi Patel (and some formatting tags). I fixed it—I think.

(Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.)

[CONTENT NOTE: While this post contains no graphic descriptions or images of violence, it does mention: rape, sexual assault and violent abuse, including against children; mental illness including suicidal ideation; hostility to consent, bodily autonomy and agency; sex- and gender-based discrimination.]

To briefly recap: While atheist Big Willie Jerry Coyne is notoriously prone to poo flinging, he also said some very interesting things in his Darwin Day lecture at the British Humanist Association (and elsewhere). I transcribed a few sections of his talk because I’d like to have a handy link to it to help shut down the font of incoherent nonsense that is conservative movement atheism. I also thought some readers here just might (a) find some of this talk as worthwhile as I do (see Part 1), and/or (b) enjoy my documenting Coyne’s insulting, dismissive, nearly comical obliviousness to his privilege (Part 2).

Part 3 focuses on a section of the Q&A wherein Coyne manages both to say some more really cool stuff, and then go into full mansplain-to-the-feminists mode and pull a classic Dear Muslima.

CAUTION:
POO FLINGING AHEAD.

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Jerry Coyne at BHA 2016—Part 1: YES!

In February Jerry Coyne delivered the British Humanist Association’s annual Darwin Day Lecture in London. For those unfamiliar, Coyne is an evolutionary biologist, a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, and the author of Why Evolution is True (which I have read) and Faith vs Fact (which I have not). He is a fierce critic of creationism and a fiery proponent of atheism; he blogs prolifically about these and other topics at Why Evolution Is True.

I genuinely like Jerry Coyne. He comes across as knowledgeable and affable, the kind of person I’d really enjoy sitting next to at a dinner party. Of course that doesn’t mean I agree with him all of the time, and in fact his annoying propensity to shit all over straw feminists is fucking exasperating (more on that in Part 2), as is his comical obliviousness to his own privilege (more on that later too).

But hey, nobody’s perfect. We can all decide for ourselves who we will expose ourselves to, on which topic(s) and under what circumstances. For example, Richard Dawkins is dead to me, barring his (highly unlikely) resurrection into a state of semi-self-awareness minimally capable of basic human decency and rationality. On the other hand, when a good friend recommends Jerry Coyne’s Darwin Day Lecture to me, I might be inclined to put on my (metaphorical) biohazard suit so as not to get splattered with (metaphorical) shit, and check it out. Those with less privilege are always making such calls: suit up and wade into the muck, or maybe sit this one out. Otherwise we would consistently miss out on some interesting and useful knowledge, and worse, we would hardly ever go to any dinner parties at all.

I get the Spidey-Sense that anyone reading this who is in some marginalized group(s)—i.e., not white, male, straight, cis-, able, etc.—is nodding along with me, because microaggressions are A Thing to which those privileged along these axes tend to remain haplessly oblivious. So I completely respect your making a different call about paying any attention whatsoever to Coyne (or Dawkins or anyone else).

But I found (some of) Coyne’s lecture, entitled Evolution and atheism: best friends forever?, fascinating. Moreover, he provides support for my point in this post, namely that:

there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that a robust welfare state (especially quality universal single-payer health care) decreases religiosity, while economic insecurity (with respect to wages, housing, food, etc.) increases it. See, e.g., Phil Zuckerman’s book “Society Without God.” Fiscal conservatism in the form of [American Atheists president] Dave Silverman’s “small government, low taxes, a free market” is entirely antithetical to taking the path most likely to get us to the very outcome he seeks: the death of religion.

I transcribed portions of Coyne’s lecture because I think readers may be genuinely infotained by it, but mainly because I’d like to have an easy link to it in order to help shut down the font of incoherent nonsense that is conservative movement atheism. In case it helps you decide whether to continue reading: I do not allow Coyne’s aforementioned (metaphorical) poo flinging in these portions of the transcript to stand unrebutted, and in any case no poo is flung in Part 1.

Tl;dr:

TRIGGER WARNING: Jerry Coyne.
(especially Part 2.)

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Dear men: read this stuff kthx.

Dear beloved men:

Yes, I know you’re a liberal, feminist guy. You totally get it! You really do. For example, you regularly read my blog because you like what I have to say about various and sundry issues that shape our shared world.

But there is something you don’t get. You can never get it, not really. Because the world we share frequently looks very different through the eyes of women. Note that this doesn’t mean you see the world more objectively and women (or others) less so, nor vice versa. It means that, although we inhabit the very same spaces and travel the same paths, our experiences are objectively different.

Think of it this way: if you’re white in the USA, you probably do not live in fear of police, whereas if you’re black you do (for very good reasons that I’m sure I don’t have to explain to readers here). Your educational experience in public school settings is likely to be drastically different, from the physical infrastructure, access to quality materials and technology, to what happens if you get in trouble. I cannot ever really understand what it is like to experience the world as a person of color does. While we all inhabit a culture that reinforces white supremacy in a million ways 24/7/365—such that even very young black children internalize it—I cannot know what that experience is like as a person of color.

But that fact should not stop me from listening to, learning from and empathizing with people of color. Indeed, as someone with a conscience and a desire to make our world a better place, it demands it. It also demands that I leverage my white privilege to right the wrongs of racism, because people of color cannot.

I’m sure you can see where this is going: the same principle is at work with sexism. Like racism, it is not always blatant; much of it operates below the level of conscious awareness. This is why I need you—yes, you, my dear d00d—to listen to, learn from and empathize with women, and to leverage your male privilege to right the wrongs of sexism, because women cannot.

To that end, here are things I want you to read:

Why Women Smile at Men Who Sexually Harass Us. Olsen, H.B., Medium (Feb. 2016).

The White Knight Delusion. Wilkinson, A., The Baffler (Feb. 2016).

Abortion ban linked to dangerous miscarriages at Catholic hospital, report claims. Redden, M., The Guardian (Feb. 2016).

Buzzfeed Writer Harassed off Twitter for Urging “Not-White, Not-Male” Writers to Pitch to Buzzfeed Canada. Cox, C., The Mary Sue (Feb. 2016).

This Facebook post by Harper Honey (shared with permission):

Trust Your Gut! Sara, M., Femnasty (Feb. 2016).

Not a Nice Story. Darcy (Guest Post), Love Joy Feminism/Patheos (Feb. 2015).

The remarkably different answers men and women give when asked who’s the smartest in the class. Paquette, D., Washington Post (Feb. 2016).

Conservative Trolls Have Been Suggesting Men Go into Women’s Restrooms to Help Legislators Discriminate Against Trans People. Brownstone, S., The Stranger (Feb. 2016).

NYPD Really Wants You To Know They’re Cracking Down On Subway Perverts. Chung, J., Gothamist (Feb. 2016).

__________

When you read these things, you will notice that women inhabit a very different world than you do. We are not safe from gendered harassment, abuse and violence; not on crowded subway trains or at quiet bus stops, alone or with friends, at our jobs, in the toy aisle at Target, on the street, at small dinner parties, in public restrooms, on Twitter, in our own homes, in fucking hospitals. We cannot escape our gender and bias against it. We are routinely demeaned, diminished and degraded in virtually every facet of our lives, from cradle to grave, in countless ways, both blatant and perniciously, infuriatingly subtle. Most of us learn from a very young age that we can never, ever really let our guard down among men—nor, frankly, among women (and others) who support, consciously or otherwise, the individuals, institutions and cultural practices that perpetuate male privilege. Some of us may have made a devil’s bargain, but it is not an inherently irrational choice. I’m not sure it is a choice at all, at least for some.

And you will also surely have noticed that all of those links are from February alone. I made no special effort to seek these stories out; they were sprinkled among literally dozens of open tabs in my browser. It was only when I went to compile a link roundup last week that I realized how many they were in number.

Was that too big an ask of me, that you read all of ^that stuff? Well, consider your privilege: you can look away from any or all of it, any time. You can ignore all of it, without much risk (if any) to your career or your mental health or your physical safety or your life. We cannot. Ever. That’s why I want you to read it—all of it—even (especially) if you don’t want to: to give you some glimmer of what it is like for us to exist in this world. I am asking you to listen to, learn from and empathize with women, and to leverage your own privilege to right the wrongs of sexism.

Here is what that might look like:

Learn to see it for what it is. I’ve written before in some depth about microaggressions, and studies that reveal (a) microaggressions may be more harmful than overt bigotry, (b) racism, sexism, other -isms are mainly perpetuated due to unconscious bias, and (c) it is extraordinarily difficult to get (presumably well-meaning) people to realize they are acting in an unfairly biased manner. I won’t rehash all of that in detail here. But there are other behaviors that you might pay attention to. For instance, while you personally do not harass, abuse or rape women, people you know almost certainly do. These are not strangers hiding in the bushes: they are your fathers and brothers and sons, your friends and co-workers, admired professional colleagues and community members in good standing, who “would never do anything like that.” But don’t take my word for it: they will tell you so themselves. The d00d cracking “jokes” about physically/sexually assaulting women, or making “funny” quips about women as intellectually inferior, untrustworthy, manipulable, sex objects, obstacles to be overcome, etc., is telling you exactly how he thinks of us, and treats us whenever he can get away with it.

Call it out when you see it. Sexist and predatory men take your laughter, however insincere, as validation. They take your silence as validation. They take shitty beer commercials that objectify women as evidence that their views are valid and the norm. One thing that can help change the culture in which unconscious biases flourish and predatory weasels operate with impunity is men shutting that shit down. In social situations: “Not cool, d00d.” “Wow, not funny.” “Did you just grab that woman’s ass? That is seriously messed up.” “What the fucking fuck is wrong with you, you fucking fuck?” In work and school situations: “Yes we heard you the first time Bob, but now we’d all really like to hear what Cynthia has to say.” “Rani just made that suggestion Malcolm, I’m glad you agree with her.” You see, when we do this, we are abrasive, oversensitive, humorless feminazis who cannot take a joke OBVIOUSLY. We need you to do it.

Believe us. When we tell you this shit is happening, all the fucking time, know that we’re not “playing the victim.” FYI: there is no reward for being a victim, much less one that somehow makes it worth being victimized in the first place.

You, my beloved men, are not “the enemy,” so much as the systems that uphold your privilege at the expense of ours is the enemy. I am asking for your help in dismantling them. Interrupting them. Burning them the fuck down.

Just as racism is whites’ problem to solve, sexism is yours.

You’re creative, and resourceful. I know you can and will find ways to disrupt and smash this shit to pieces. It might even turn out to be fun, if a little uncomfortable at first.

Thanks for your consideration.

Have a nice day.

palacehappyface

The banishment of John, Part 3.

[CONTENT NOTE: xenophobia, bigotry, Islamophobia, eliminationism, misogyny and a whole bunch of other horrible shit.]

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

This is the last installment.

Part 2 left off in the middle of my meticulous dismemberment of John Miller’s final, terrible comment, at which point he had finished addressing commenter khms (who responded to him beautifully here, as did Rotary Wing here). John now turns to address Your Humble Monarch™ directly. But before I finishing dissecting this specimen, please allow me to reiterate some important points to bear in mind.

NOTE 1: There is virtually never any point in deploying reason and evidence to argue with conservatives. They are by definition not terribly rational people, and thus neither reason nor facts are likely to penetrate their reality distortion fields enough to sway them in the direction of understanding or accepting reality—and in fact, a backfire effect may occur. There are, however, at least two reasons to make an exception to this rule. The first is for the infotainment of others, such as lurkers, bystanders, captive dinner guests, fellow bar flies, Loyal Readers™, young and impressionable children, etc. The second exception is for the pleasure to be found in the sharpening of one’s (rhetorical) fangs, whether in preparation for the aforementioned audiences or for the sheer enjoyment of it in its own right. I leave it to Loyal Readers™ to discern under which caveat(s) this particular exercise falls.

NOTE 2: Because I quote from John’s final comment in addition to material from elsewhere, in order to avoid any (highly unlikely) confusion as to who is doing the talking here I have taken the liberty of making all quotes from John’s text the color of shit.

Shall we?

__________

Iris, I would have described the core values of Western culture as democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech, equality for women and girls coupled the right to an education and the right to marry who they choose, freedom from institutionalized paedophilia and genital mutilation, the separation of powers …

It is absolutely adorable that John thinks the US is a democracy, or that the permanent power factions in DC  (i.e. the deep state) value the concept of democracy for anything other than the ease with which they can exploit it.

It is super sweet that John thinks the rule of law operates here.

It is positively precious that John thinks “freedom of speech” is a cherished principle in these United States.

It is particularly priceless that John thinks equality for women and girls is now,
or has ever been, a defining feature of Western society.

It is deliciously delightful that John sees Western civilization as a beacon of freedom from institutionalized paedophilia, rather than practically being defined by it.

It is seriously stunning that John believes routine genital mutilation is somehow unique to Muslim cultures.

And it is really remarkable that John views the separation of powers as A Thing That Exists—except, of course, in the sense of powers being separated from We, the People.

__________

These values need to be cherished and protected.

I seem to recall “freedom of religion” being a cherished and protected value of this much-touted Western culture. I guess I must have made that up, because it’s missing from John’s list of “core values of Western culture.”

__________

I don’t know why you’d continue to live in a society that was ‘patriarchal, imperialist, racist, colonialist’.

Really? Aww, come on! That’s an easy one! TO MAKE IT BETTER. Funny thing about that, though: the biggest obstacle to making progress on any of these fronts is people like John, whose willful ignorance magically allows them to see themselves, their uninformed and toxic views and the evil that results as somehow benevolent, despite all evidence to the contrary.

A real conundrum.

__________

Come to Australia, we don’t have many patriarchs, imperialists, racists or colonists, we’re more laid back here.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Good one! See, e.g., the entire fucking history of Australia. [h/t Rotary Wing.]

On a related note, I now wish to demonstrate for Loyal Readers™ my astonishing psychic abilities: without having ever met John, interviewed him (or others about him), researched into his background, seen a picture of him, or indeed learned anything at all about him except through his comments here, I am willing to bet the entire Palace Treasury that in addition to being a (cisgender) male, John is also white, straight and Australian-born.

TA-DA!  My mad clairvoyant skillz simply cannot be explained away by guessing that:

  • John doesn’t see racism in Australia, because he has never been, and likely will never be, oppressed in any way because of his race.

I AM FUCKING AMAZING AMIRITE.

__________

We’re more interested in football, cricket and tennis.

How nice for John and his friends. Some people would loooooove to be interested in those things, but they’re kinda busy with other things. Things like fleeing violent conflicts and keeping themselves and their children alive.

By the way, it turns out that the Aussies are interested in a few other things, too.

__________

If you come to Canberra I’ll show you around.

I appreciate the offer, but…

You’ll meet some fair dinkum, true blue, dinky di, fun-loving Aussies.

I have no idea what any of that means. But if it means “people who are like John,” I (dis)respectfully decline.

__________

When people come to Australia they don’t have to sign up to a set of values that those born her are inculcated with from birth. We take our way of life for granted, until we see how Muslims come in, live in enclaves and start to run their own societies.

Wow, it sure is a mystery why Muslims immigrants to Australia might wish to live in enclaves.

SPOILER ALERT! It’s… people like John.

__________

It’s costing Australian governments billions of dollars beefing up security arrangements to second guess would be terrorists. Yep, welcome to the new Australia.

It’s a real shame the Australian government is so cash-strapped and has nothing better to spend money on. Besides directly creating the conditions that lead to Islamic terrorism and mass migrations of Muslims in the first place, OBVIOUSLY.

__________

I believe Western nations need to have a document that sets out some of the cultural rules.

Gosh, I wonder what exactly these “cultural rules” might be, how they might be enforced in a diverse society, and who will enforce them. Are they anything like, you know, “laws”?

If people don’t like them they can go somewhere else.

For example, to prison? I must be off my game, because I sort of agree with John here.*

*Except we all know that by “cultural rules” John doesn’t mean laws. He means something else entirely, more along the lines of an Official Real Australian™ Dress Code For Women, as we shall see.

__________

People then have a choice, fit in or ship out. Wearing headgear is the ultimate symbol of not wanting to fit in to the society that’s welcomed them. In the 1920’s Kemal Ataturk got rid of the head gear, thus liberating Muslim women.

That John thinks he can simultaneously write comments like the one we’re addressing here, and also claim to be part of a society that welcomes Muslims, is…um, interesting. And by now it will surprise no one that John is just as WRONG about Atatürk getting rid of “the head gear” as he is about everything else:

Even though he personally promoted modern dress for women, Mustafa Kemal [Atatürk] never made specific reference to women’s clothing in the law, as he believed that women would adapt to the new clothing styles of their own free will. He was frequently photographed on public business with his wife Lâtife Uşaklıgil, who covered her head in accordance with Islamic tradition. He was also frequently photographed on public business with women wearing modern Western clothes. But it was Atatürk’s adopted daughters, Sabiha Gökçen and Afet İnan, who provided the real role model for the Turkish women of the future. He wrote: “The religious covering of women will not cause difficultyThis simple style [of headcovering] is not in conflict with the morals and manners of our society.

[emphasis mine.]

Yes, John is oddly obsessed with superficial conformity to (arbitrary) local dress codes, especially for women. I was momentarily curious as to whether John would have similar objections to Orthodox Jewish men in black hats and curls. Or to nuns wearing habits. Or to Sikhs wearing turbans. Or to Hindus wearing bindis on their foreheads and other traditional garb. Or ooh! OOH! To priests wearing collars! Now I personally think priest collars should not just be permitted but actively encouraged, because (a) it makes them stand out such that I can easily avoid or engage with priests as I see fit, and (b) I’ve always had a serious fetish for hawt priests. WIN-WIN.

australianorthodoxjews

Australian Orthodox Jewish men with the head gear.”
FIT IN OR SHIP OUT, JEWS!

carmelitenunsaustralia

Australian Carmelite nuns with “the head gear,”
plus some d00ds.
FIT IN OR SHIP OUT, NUNS!

australiansikhsprayervigil

Australian Sikhs, some with “the head gear,”at a prayer vigil for a mass murder at a Sikh temple by a white supremacist in Oak Creek, Wisconsin (USA).
FIT IN OR SHIP OUT, SIKHS!

australianhindus

Australian Hindus.
FIT IN OR SHIP OUT, HINDUS!

robgaleaaustralianpriest

Fr. Rob Galea, Catholic priest in Australia.
OMFG *swoon*
Don’t worry, sweetheart! If mean old John tells you to “FIT IN OR SHIP OUT!” you just come right over here and sit by me. :D

But then suddenly I remembered that I don’t give a fuck what John thinks, as long as he thinks it somewhere else.

However for the record: the people pictured here are just as “Australian” as John is. Whatever that even means.

__________

These days the sisterhood thinks it’s smart to encourage Muslim women to wear what ever they like – not recognising the symbolism.

Okay, I’ve been around the Interwebz a time or two, so please allow me to translate John’s drivel for you. By “the sisterhood,” John means his warped caricature of feminists, i.e., a group of humans which (a) includes no men and no Muslims, (b) has no understanding of misogyny, especially Islamic-flavored misogyny, and (c) lacks John’s in-depth and comprehensive understanding of culture and symbolism.

… as opposed to, say, John having no fucking clue what women in virtually every culture in the world including his own must navigate just to survive.

Interestingly, actual feminists want a world where everyone—and yes, “everyone” even includes Muslim women!— is free and encouraged to wear whatever the fuck they want.

And, until it is safe for everyone to choose to wear whatever the fuck they want without oppression resulting, everyone needs to STFU about whether, when and where it is appropriate for Muslim women to wear “the head gearbecause we do not live in that fucking world goddammit.

Seriously, do people even think for one second about the choice they want some of the most oppressed people in the world—immigrant Muslim women of color—to make here? Be shunned by your family and everyone you know in the religious community to which you belong, or, apparently, be judged and demonized by the Johns of the (supposedly “free”…) wider society?

palacefuckyou

Please accept this hearty Palace FUCK YOU.

__________

When ever you see a woman wearing a burka, hijab or scarf you know they’re both the victim and perpetrator of misogyny on a grand scale.

OMG YOU GUYS! John has figured out the solution to misogyny! And it’s so simple, I cannot believe we didn’t think of it before! It’s… people like John policing what women wear! Fit in or ship out, bitchez! And for good measure, blaming the women of a persecuted religious minority—many of whom are also women of color in predominately white (and white supremacist) societies—for perpetrating their own oppression, if for whatever reason they do not conform strictly to local, provincial standards of dress. (Hey, I wonder if the dress standards John espouses are gender neutral. I’m just kidding! LOL! I crack myself up.)

____________

Incidentally, this is how I picture John dressing:

johnswear

Note in particular the lack of “the head gear,” such lack being customary and characteristic of Real Australians™.

All of this^ he is (and damn well ought to be) 100% free to wear, no matter how repulsive I or anyone else may find his personal style or reasons for presenting himself the way he does.

Everyone should have that freedom.

THE END.

__________

Wherefore, and in Due Consideration of All of the Foregoing Acts of Unrepentant Conservatism, Which Having Been Finally Exhausted of All Explanatory and/or Entertainment Value, Let It Be Known Throughout the Land That

John Miller

is Hereby Forever Banished to

All of the Other Places on the Internet
(Most of Which By the Way are Generally Not as Reality-Based and Fun as This One.)

__________

banishmentjohnmiller

__________

Let us rejoice, for John Miller’s odious stench shall ne’er again befoul this Palace!

CHEERS.

red&whitewinecheers

The banishment of John, Part 2.

[CONTENT NOTE: xenophobia, bigotry, Islamophobia and a whole bunch of other horrible shit.]

Part 1 is here.

We last left off in November, at the point in our story where commenter khms and I responded to (yet another one of) John Miller’s terrible comments. Having thought—nay, hoped—this was the end of it, I was surprised to see that John recently responded to us. And now khms has responded to him beautifully, and you should go read that; as has Rotary Wing, and you should go read that too, if for no other reason than to see two sparkling specimens of civil, mockery-free, reality-based rebuttals to John’s bigoted, vicious, fact-free conservative noise.

But now it’s my turn. And I plan to relish dismembering the horrifying shitshow that is the mind of John Miller, conservative—for the very last time.

NOTE: It is always worth remembering that there is virtually never any point in deploying reason and evidence to argue with conservatives. They are by definition not terribly rational people, and thus neither facts nor reason will sway them in the direction of accepting reality—in fact, the opposite effect is just as likely to occur. There are, however, two important exceptions to the utter pointlessness of engaging with conservatives. The first is for the infotainment of other people, such as lurkers, bystanders, captive dinner guests, fellow bar flies, beloved Loyal Readers™, etc. The second is for the pleasure to be found in sharpening one’s own rhetorical fangs, either to prepare for the aforementioned audience, or for the sheer enjoyment of it in its own right. I leave it to Loyal Readers™ to determine under which caveat(s) this particular exercise falls.

NOTE 2: Because I quote from John’s final comment as well as material from elsewhere, in order to avoid any (highly unlikely) confusion as to who is doing the talking, I have taken the liberty of making all quotes from John’s text the color of shit.

__________

First, let us all behold with awe and wonder John’s retort in its entirety:

KHMS, been to Marseilles, Paris, London or Bradford recently? Watched TV or read a newspaper? Half the children born in France and Britain are born as Muslims – despite them being (around) 5% of the population. The second language in Marseilles? French. The first, Arabic.

Many of the Muslims in these communities have little respect for the cultures to which they have chosen to live. They want to destroy them and turn them into the shitholes from whence they have come.

They have high levels of welfare dependence, they breed like rabbits. If they don’t take over countries with the Kalashnikov or the suicide bomb they’ll certainly do it with the pork sword.

The freedoms that have attracted these people to Europe are the very freedoms that are under threat. America seems to have missed out on the Muslim onslaught. Australia hasn’t, having excepted anyone and everyone who chose to come her by boat over the last five years.

KHMS, go spend a week In Marseilles, London, Paris and Bradford, then report back.

Iris, I would have described the core values of Western culture as democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech, equality for women and girls coupled the right to an education and the right to marry who they choose, freedom from institutionalized paedophilia and genital mutilation, the separation of powers … These values need to be cherished and protected. I don’t know why you’d continue to live in a society that was ‘patriarchal, imperialist, racist, colonialist’. Come to Australia, we don’t have many patriarchs, imperialists, racists or colonists, we’re more laid back here. We’re more interested in football, cricket and tennis. If you come to Canberra I’ll show you around. You’ll meet some fair dinkum, true blue, dinky di, fun-loving Aussies.

When people come to Australia they don’t have to sign up to a set of values that those born her are inculcated with from birth. We take our way of life for granted, until we see how Muslims come in, live in enclaves and start to run their own societies. It’s costing Australian governments billions of dollars beefing up security arrangements to second guess would be terrorists. Yep, welcome to the new Australia.

I believe Western nations need to have a document that sets out some of the cultural rules. If people don’t like them they can go somewhere else. People then have a choice, fit in or ship out.

Wearing headgear is the ultimate symbol of not wanting to fit in to the society that’s welcomed them. In the 1920’s Kemal Ataturk got rid of the head gear, thus liberating Muslim women. These days the sisterhood thinks it’s smart to encourage Muslim women to wear what ever they like – not recognising the symbolism.

When ever you see a woman wearing a burka, hijab or scarf you know they’re both the victim and perpetrator of misogyny on a grand scale.

Well then. Shall we begin?

KHMS, been to Marseilles, Paris, London or Bradford recently? Watched TV or read a newspaper? Half the children born in France and Britain are born as Muslims – despite them being (around) 5% of the population.

BZZZT. I don’t know what TV John’s watching or newspapers he’s reading (though I have my suspicions!), but these birthrate claims are simply false. As in, WRONG:

Around the world, the global average Muslim family size has fallen from 4.3 children per family in 1995 to 2.9 in 2010, and is expected to fall below the population-growth rate, and converge with Western family sizes, by mid-century.

Muslims in France and Germany are now having only 2.2 children per family, barely above the national average. And while Pakistani immigrants in Britain have 3.5 children each, their British-born daughters have only 2.5. Across Europe, the difference between the Muslim and non-Muslim fertility rate has fallen from 0.7 to 0.4, and is headed toward a continent-wide convergence.

__________

The second language in Marseilles? French. The first, Arabic.

OMG THESE MUSLIM IMMIGRANTS SPEAK A FOREIGN LANGUAGE!!!11!!!! Even if this is true, it is not the slightest bit alarming in any way. You know how I know? I know because there are many, many cities and towns in the United States where the primary language spoken is not English. In the state of California, 43.8% of people over 5 years old speak a language other than English at home, and that figure rises to over 90% in cities and towns across that state. (And that’s to say nothing of enormous, heavily populated ethnic-minority and immigrant neighborhoods that make up large swaths of California’s major cities, like Los Angeles and San Francisco.) And guess what? No one except conservatives gives a shit. Well, the rest of us care because we want non-English speaking immigrants and their children to have access to the resources they need to learn basic English proficiency. And unlike John, we all understand that immigrant populations acquire English fluency by the second generation (frequently accompanied by the loss of fluency in their family language, unfortunately).

__________

Many of the Muslims in these communities have little respect for the cultures to which they have chosen to live. They want to destroy them and turn them into the shitholes from whence they have come.

WRONG:

Actually, Muslims change their cultural views dramatically when they emigrate. For example, 62% of American Muslims say that “a way can be found for the state of Israel to exist so that the rights of Palestinians are addressed” — a rate barely lower than that of average Americans (67%), and vastly ahead of the miniscule response among Middle Eastern Muslims — for whom between 20% and 40% agreed with that statement.

Similarly, 39% of American Muslims and 47% of German Muslims say they tolerate homosexuality, compared to single-figure responses in most Islamic countries — and those rates are rising with each immigrant generation. On these important questions, Muslim immigrants are converging with Western values fast.

__________

They have high levels of welfare dependence,

Actually, it is true that immigrants generally have significantly higher levels of welfare use than native-born US citizens. Much of that gap is accounted for by lower education levels, language barriers and other factors leading to lower pay among some of our largest immigrant populations. But! It is also true that immigrant households generally are significantly more likely to have workers than native households:

Of legal immigrant households, 85 percent had one or more workers, as did 95 percent of illegal immigrant households and 76 percent of native households.

If those two facts seem contradictory, consider that welfare as it currently exists in the US is designed to supplement low-wage workers, among whom there is a disproportionate share of immigrants.

But we were talking about Muslims specifically. It is much more difficult to find data on US welfare use and religious affiliation—at least if we discount sources like Breitbart, World News Daily, Eagle Forum and other right-wing propaganda outlets best known for distortion levels that would have made Jimi Hendrix scream in pain and then set himself on fire instead of his guitar. Also, the US census does not ask questions about religion, so it is difficult to determine how many Muslims there are and where. But there are some things we do know that have a bearing on Muslims and their (alleged) uniquely high levels of welfare dependence.

Muslim Americans have income levels that match the US public. Immigrant Muslims are slightly more affluent than native-born Muslims: 41% of all Muslim Americans and 45% of immigrant Muslims report annual household income levels of $50,000 or higher, compared to the national average of 44%. Among high-income earners, 19% of immigrant Muslims claim annual household incomes of $100,000 or higher, compared to the U.S. average of 17 %. This is likely due to the strong concentration of Muslims in professional, managerial, and technical fields, especially in information technology, education, medicine, law, and the corporate world.*
*[Text excerpted from Strengthening America: The Civic and Political Integration of Muslim Americans, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, © 2007; Statistical data excerpted from Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream, Pew Research Center, May 22, 2007; via the U.S. State Department.]

Muslim Americans are highly educated. “[40%] of Muslims say they have a college degree, making them the second most highly educated religious group surveyed after Jews (61 percent), compared with 29 percent of Americans overall who say they have a college degree, according to Gallup [PDF]. That carries across gender lines, with Muslim females being the second-most educated religious group in the country, after Jewish females.”

Sadly, because he is a proud, card-carrying math illiterate, John will not understand any of that.

__________

they breed like rabbits.

WRONG.

__________

If they don’t take over countries with the Kalashnikov or the suicide bomb

If that’s their plan, they really better step up their game over here.

__________

they’ll certainly do it with the pork sword.

WRONG.

_________

The freedoms that have attracted these people to Europe are the very freedoms that are under threat.

Perhaps Muslim immigrants are attracted to the “freedom” of living in a place that isn’t being occupied, bombed, destroyed, exploited and/or otherwise destabilized by Western governments and their agents? Or “freedom” from violent Islamists created, armed and empowered by the West? I mean, even John can probably grok the fact that by far, most victims of Muslim terrorism are other Muslims.

Or maybe not.  :|

The freedoms under threat in Europe are the same freedoms under threat in the US—not from Muslims, mind you, but from conservatives, who currently allow Muslims to be used as a convenient pretext for radically undermining democracy, civil rights and the rule of law—a.k.a. freedom. See, e.g., mass surveillance, mass incarceration, police militarization, illegal wars, press freedom erosion, lawless drone assassinations and elite immunity from large-scale crimes, just off the top of my head.

But somehow I doubt those are the freedoms John worries about. No, apparently there are other, Very Important FREEDOMS™ under imminent threat from small and politically powerless populations of Muslims.

__________

America seems to have missed out on the Muslim onslaught.

Not for long: they’re among the fastest growing immigrant groups to the US. And, once again, no one cares except conservatives. Because the rest of us know we are a nation with a long history of immigration (and colonization—a topic for another time), and we know that immigrants assimilate within a few generations. But more to the point, there isn’t exactly an “onslaught” in Europe, either:

In fact, we now have several large-scale projections based on population-growth trends and immigration rates which show that the Muslim populations of Europe are growing increasingly slowly and that by the middle of this century — even if immigration rates are not reduced — the proportion of Muslims in Europe will probably peak somewhere short of 10% (it is currently around 7%). By that point, Muslims will have family sizes and age profiles not that different from Europe in general.

And what if it’s even double that? Say, 20%? Immigrants assimilate—unless shitweasels like John see to it that they cannot, of course.

__________

Australia hasn’t, having excepted [sic] anyone and everyone who chose to come her  [sic] by boat over the last five years.

WRONG. And that’s a real bang-up job you guys are doing over there, too. Goddamn paragons of human rights, to which we can all only hope to aspire!

Jeezus.

__________

KHMS, go spend a week In Marseilles, London, Paris and Bradford, then report back.

Sounds fantastic! Hey khms, if you go let me know when and where you’ll be and I’ll try to come meet up with you. And while we’re having a ball touring around some of the great cities of Europe, John will go spend a week investigating Australian immigration policy (including its history of white European immigration and its present-day immigrant detention centres) and report back to us.

I AM SURE.

__________

Stay tuned for Part 3.

palacehappyface

CPD in Asheville: a case study.

[CONTENT NOTE: misogyny, sexual assault “joke”, hostility to consent]

Last September a story out of Asheville made the rounds in the Twittoblogoverse about two d00ds who ran a coffee shop there. For those unacquainted, Asheville is an arty, foodie, decidedly liberal bastion, a colorful little gem of a town set in the gorgeous hills of Western North Carolina. Anyway, by day these d00ds, Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens, were Members in Good Standing of the tight-knit, progressive Asheville community—but by night they moonlighted as pickup artists, and bragged about their exploits with local women in humiliating detail on podcasts, a website/blog and a Twitter feed. To be clear: the sexcapades were consensual. Well, at least some of them were, anyway: in one podcast, Owens muses about fucking a woman while she was a patient in a hospital. He refers to her, charmingly, “the two-vagina’d beast,” and then says:

“Hospital sex is weird, when she’s drugged,” he says. “It’s strange, but it’s really cool.”

“Could she give consent?” Rutledge asks. “Could she give consent, Jay?”

Owens then laughs while saying, “Uh oh. That’s my bad. That is my bad.”

“You might’ve violated some California laws,” Rutledge says. “Good thing we don’t live in California.”

HAHAHA. Good thing! Whew!

But even if all of their encounters were indeed consensual, the descriptions they gave of their partners were dehumanizing, objectifying, cruel and vile, obviously steeped in the misogynist manosphere and reeking of rape culture. (You can easily google them if you wish, but I won’t be posting quotes here.) Kayla Bott, a local video store manager, told the Asheville Citizen-Times, “The problem is not sleeping with people or talking about it. The problem is using women as things to boost your own ego. This is an act of dehumanizing women for self-aggrandizement and that is not a good reason or way to improve your own self esteem.” And while none of it was likely illegal, the women’s lives and relationships have suffered in the aftermath.

My friend (and self-proclaimed Loyal Subject™) SJ lives in the environs of Asheville, and we discussed the story back when it first blew up. My observation at the time was that the only thing remarkable about the story—and it was, and remains, truly remarkable—is that the community rallied around the women. There were boycotts, protests, rallies, petitions. “These are literally the women of the community that we live with,” Bott said. “These are our friends. These are our loved ones. These are our neighbors. There are mothers. We are taking this situation personally, and we are supportive of the women of the community.”

Fast forward a few months to 2016: Rachel Monroe did a follow-up on the story for New York magazine, which SJ just sent to me. I couldn’t help being struck by all the glaring symptoms of Conservative Personality Disorder (CPD) on display by Rutledge (Owens did not participate in the story), and in particular the interesting course such an afflicted individual’s life took in Asheville. Conservatives are deeply, hopelessly conformist after all; so what happens when their community’s norms embody progressive views of women’s sexual freedom and sexual morality? Well, as it turns out you still get exploitation, entitlement and abuse—except that instead of manifesting in the realms of business or government or “traditional” marriage, they manifest in dating.

Putting aside the explicit misogyny in Rutledge’s proclamations, here are some of the CPD flags from the new article (my comments in red):

Jared’s blog posts offered dating tips, braggy descriptions of sexual encounters [superficiality: braggart], angry venting about women who’d flaked on him [entitlement: feels inherently deserving of others’ time and energy], and pseudointellectual analysis of gender relations [limited dimensionality of thought: highly motivated to eliminate cognitive ambiguity by reducing complex real-world phenomena to discrete dualities]

a list of his sexual conquests, evaluated with a numerical score that ranked each woman’s face, body, and personality, as well as a brief description. [superficiality: fixation on appearance as an indicator of identity and character; boundary violations: outright rejection of others’ rights to privacy and personal autonomy]

“There are few things that give me more sadistic pleasure than witnessing the ever-increasing neuroses of a woman hitting the wall,” he tweeted. (“Hitting the wall” is manosphere-speak for aging.) [sadism]

“All of my life I have looked for certainty and attempted to make sense of the world,” he said. [limited dimensionality of thought: anxious and unnerved by cognitive ambiguity, and highly motivated to eliminate it by reducing complex real-world phenomena to discrete dualities.] That search for an explanatory framework led him to the manosphere, where his tendency toward judgment was amplified and given direction. “It’s like a rut in your brain. I’ve had this my whole life, in different arenas. Anger and judgment. Road rage or being mad at a customer who annoyed me. The actual thing to fix is why do I feel the need to — mentally or verbally or on Twitter — punish someone with words because they slighted me. The root of it is the need to judge the world because it doesn’t meet my expectation.” [entitlement: arrogant; self-righteousness: judgmental, hypercritical, scornful and disdainful of  out-group “others”; emotionality: easily triggered outbursts; authoritarianism: punishment oriented]

he majored in philosophy and confidently told atheist friends they were going to hell. [irrationality: hyper-religiousness pervading all social interactions; self-righteousness: judgmental, pompousness]

[Rutledge’s comments in the next paragraphs on Game exemplify amorality: markedly unconcerned with the welfare or suffering of others, exploitative, Machiavellian]
 “I didn’t write those blog posts or tweets for women,” he said. “I wrote them for men. I wrote them for other men in this corner of the internet to validate me and make me feel good.” [entitlement: narcissistic]

the men issued ham-fisted apologies (Jared: “Most of my life I’ve struggled with insecurities around dating”; [self-righteousness: inability to sincerely apologize for personal wrongdoing]

But, said Jared, “Nobody reached out to us to say, ‘What do you need to heal, to be better men?’ [^#^%&^%&!!! DEAR GOD WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE POOR MEN?! Priorities!]

Okay, this is where I point out that the tiny number of narcissists who do go into therapy (usually at a major crisis point, at the ultimatum of others, or ordered by a judge) learn this from it: how to deploy in a calculated fashion its concepts and buzzwords to their own advantage. Quelle surprise

“If you’re going to say you’re a loving, supportive community and then just kick out everybody that does something fucked up — I think that’s wrong,” Jared told me. “You don’t get to say, ‘We’re loving and supportive and inclusive’ and not put in the work to be that. ” [Hahaha no. They didn’t kick out “everybody,” they kicked out a pretender and betrayer who deeply shattered a tight-knit community’s trust. That’s what healthy communities do. People who have been used and betrayed are not obligated to forgive, love, support or include those who have used and betrayed them (entitlement much?). Also, Jared didn’t just “do something fucked up,” he did it over and over and over, continuously bragging about his exploits on the internet, and after being caught and called on it is still making it all about him. Unbelievable. Except, no, not really. stunted self-awareness: insistence that self-created problems are entirely the fault of others or of circumstances beyond one’s control, minimization and rationalization of one’s harmful behavior toward others.]

He admitted repeatedly that what he did was wrong: “I used fucking nasty language. I used hurtful and violent language. I shared things I should never have shared about lovers and I objectified women and broke them down to box scores in a way that is objectifying and gross.” [Translation: I’m sorry I got caught saying what I really think about women.]

Still, having spent weeks in the depths of self-examination, he wondered when he’ll be able to reemerge in town as the new, humbled version of himself — and on what terms. [WHOLE WEEKS! “In the depths of self-examination!” This man has suffered enough, people.] 

I asked him if he still wanted to follow the plan he’d written about in his pre-reflection-and-repentance era: fuck around as much as possible until age 38, then marry a 24- or 25-year-old. “Yeah,” he said without hesitation. “Derek Jeter’s doing it.” I must have looked incredulous. “It’s kind of a double standard, right?” he said. “Because everyone’s okay with him doing it, nobody has a problem with that.”

“Why do you want to marry a 25-year-old?” I asked.

“Hotness, absolutely,” he said.

[Can’t you see he’s a totally changed man! HE’S JUST LIKE DEREK JETER! JFC. stunted self-awareness: superficiality; entitlement; + probably several more, but I’m too grossed out to be bothered.]

“I’m open to new information always. I think that’s where I got off the mark a little bit with this. I thought I had the answer — but the answers I thought I had hurt a lot of people and hurt me.” [Especially ME. Me, me, me. What about me, huh?]

If anything, [the women betrayed by Jared] said, it was Jared who wasn’t able to take the sex casually. Now they know that when a woman turned him down or canceled a date or otherwise didn’t live up to his expectations, he lashed out online. [stunted self-awareness: inability to recognize blatant hypocrisy in self, emotionality: temperamental, easily triggered outbursts; entitlement: believes he is inherently deserving of others’ time and energy]

When I asked her about Jared’s attempts to become a better man and be reaccepted by the community, she sighed and looked sad. “There needs to be time for the community to heal, and time for the healing within them … They needed a lot of growth.” [He’s already spent WEEKS in the depths of self-examination! Gosh, women are so selfish and bitter, amirite?]

Well that was a fun exercise. If nothing else, we see once again that atheists—our friend Jared here is an atheist—are just as capable of being misogynist conservative doucheweasels as Bible berserkers, Talmud toadies and Qur’an connoiseurs.

SJ helpfully suggested that I add some indication of just how incredibly ugly the manosphere is. If you want to learn about it in all its glorious grotesquery, I highly recommend reading We Hunted The Mammoth. David Futrelle not only tracks its terrible inhabitants, but mocks them—sublimely.

SJ also adds:

These are our sons and brothers and fellow citizens who pass for normal. These are the kind of people we are…at least a whole fucking large percentage of us.

Misogyny is the rule, not the exception.

Fuck this ugly, fucking conservative country.

^What SJ said.

How To Be a Minimally Decent Human Being 101.

[CONTENT NOTE: racism, sexism, other -isms. names have been changed.]

Longtime Loyal Readers™ may recall that once upon a time, I was a legal secretary. I toiled for years at NYC law firms—and, with apologies to my veteran friends—for what we in the staff ranks called “combat pay.”

The gig pays much better than average in part because it requires a specific skill set that includes fluency in legalese (and esoteric dialects thereof), software proficiency across the entire MS Office suite, superhuman abilities in deciphering truly horrendous writing (“make the edits I wrote with the giant green Sharpie and the smeary red Flair pen, but not the ones in pencil or blue fountain pen ink, plus add the purple crayon edits but only the ones circled with the orange highlighter not the yellow one”), and so much more. But let’s face it: that job pays well because lawyers.

lawyereditsLawyer Edits*
by Iris Vander Pluym
oil on canvas
8½ feet by 11 feet
$10,000,000

Lawyers are the butt of many a nasty joke, and I can assure you this is justifiably so. Quite. Although firm cultures vary and some are better than others, they all were (and still are) strictly dominated by an Old Boys Club. This manifests in various ways, the most obvious being that the biggest rainmakers, their favored protégés and those in firm management with real power are overwhelmingly, indeed almost exclusively, white men. Thus it should surprise no one—and it will not in fact surprise people of color, women and other minorities—to learn that I regularly witnessed sexism and racism (and etc.-isms) more times than I can count. Just off the top of my head:

  • At a group meeting of attorneys that included only one woman, who was not among the most junior people in the room, she is the one asked to get coffee for everyone while the men get down to work.
  • Male lawyers routinely entertaining firm clients at strip clubs on the company dime, thereby effectively blocking client access to their female colleagues.
  • Being expected to cover for men’s extramarital affairs: once after a close call, one Big Willie told me that if his wife ever found out about his mistress it would cost me my job.
  • Male partners regularly returning from lunch completely smashed and saying all kinds of inappropriate shit to the staff, like telling my black co-worker who had a gift-boxed liquor bottle on her desk, “Whoa Yvonne! I didn’t know you were easy! Heh-heh-heh,” and then continuing to “flirt” with her until finally giving up and staggering into his opulent corner office.
  • Senior male attorneys becoming bitterly exasperated because a female subordinate left to pick up her sick child from school, when they themselves had never missed a single second of work in their entire careers due to childcare responsibilities: they had wives and nannies for that.

Most of this crap naturally went unreported; it was clear that except in the most egregious cases, little if anything would ever be done beyond a Very Stern Talking To™, followed by some hearty back slapping and then perhaps some scotch and cigars. But raising such issues could impact the career of the troublesome, humorless and oversensitive tattletale, if not the perpetrator. Only once do I recall anyone receiving serious consequences for inappropriate behavior: it was a senior associate attorney who constantly stared at women’s breasts when he talked to them, although he looked men right in the eyes. It was so flagrant that even d00d lawyers noticed it (Oh man, what’s up with that Dave guy staring at you ladies’ chests?”). After many complaints from women—plus the apparently required corroboration from men that this was (a) really happening and (b) disturbing to them—someone finally gave Dave the Very Stern Talking To™ and told him to knock it off. He didn’t, and eventually got fired. (I just googled him: he’s still practicing law, at a firm where women make up about 15% of the attorneys.)

Also—and this is not just my observation—the kinds of (male) lawyers who go into private practice, especially litigators, tend to be preening, vicious, chest-pounding apes alpha types: domineering, entitled, quick to anger, narcissistic. Many are verbally abusive to those they consider beneath them—which, at the end of the day, is pretty much everyone.

Still, over the course of all that time spent in the trenches cubicles, I met a handful of truly wonderful and extraordinary people, some of whom became very close friends. Including, as fate would have it, My Amazing Lover™. I point this out because a recent conversation led me to write this very post.

PARTNER: I have a mandatory diversity training class tomorrow at one.

IRIS: You could probably teach it.

PARTNER: It seems like they’re always scheduled after some incident happens, not before. More like law firm CYA than “hey, we really want to be more inclusive and here’s how we can do it.

IRIS: Sounds about right. So who failed How To Be a Minimally Decent Human Being 101 this time?

PARTNER: [White male partner.] Apparently he told a black secretary who just had her hair done in short braids that she looked like Buckwheat. 

IRIS: Jeezus fucking Christ.

PARTNER: Yeah.

IRIS: Just imagine the kind of fantastic bubble you have to maintain for yourself in order to live and work in Manhattan, and feel free to say that. To a black woman. At her job.

PARTNER: Yeah.

IRIS: Well you enjoy your How To Be a Minimally Decent Human Being 101 Class tomorrow, my love. I hope they bring in a nice catered lunch at least. And I hope it’s all ethnic foods.

[The next evening.]

IRIS: How’d it go?

PARTNER: It was terrible. Really poorly done.

IRIS: Oh no!

PARTNER: I went in hoping to learn something, even if some of my partners probably wouldn’t. For one thing about half the time was taken up by one of my partners who just wouldn’t shut up. He kept interrupting, and talking over people.

IRIS: Let me guess—it was a white d00d.

PARTNER: Why yes it was.

IRIS: And the presenter didn’t put a stop to that? That’s just…bad presenter skills. You have to politely shut that shit down as soon as it starts, maybe repeat yourself once, and then escalate your tactics if necessary—you sure as hell don’t allow it to continue.

PARTNER: They were two women law professors, and they used a lot of jargon and buzzwords that went right over most people’s heads.

IRIS: Like what?

PARTNER: Like “microaggressions.”

IRIS: Very important concept. Did they define them, and show you the research about what happens to people as a result?

PARTNER: Not really. There was a one-page handout with some examples. You’re not supposed to tell women they look pretty, or ask Asians for help with math, things like that. But, we never discussed it. It was as if they were talking to a class that was already familiar with it, so it just seemed…mostly incoherent. And the microaggression thing is just one example. It went on and on like that.

IRIS: Holy shit. What a wasted opportunity. The very people in that room are the people who most need to hear and understand this stuff. Did they cover heterosexism? Or gender? Like trans antagonism?

PARTNER: Nope.

IRIS: WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK.

PARTNER: Yep.

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This epic failure bugs me for many reasons, mainly the enormous waste of an exceptionally rare opportunity. Then there’s the fact that when this sort of education is done badly it risks backfiring, and people end up more closed off to learning than open to it. I started thinking about how I might engage that particular audience in a discussion about diversity. I mean besides making that one d00d STFU 4EVAH, obviously. I might even turn him into a teachable moment, by asking everyone to just imagine a woman (or a person of color) constantly interrupting the presenters, talking over everyone else and expecting to be the center of attention at a presentation about diversity. Nine out of ten times (and I think I’m being generous here…) the person who does those things in a diverse group is going to be a white man. Maybe we can all ask ourselves why that is.

I perused the Palace Library and came up with a few resources I would tap into with respect to discussing microaggressions, which seems to me as good a place to start as any.

1. This Psychology Today article. It’s a decent 101-level explanation of microaggressions that summarizes key research findings:

  • although they may appear insignificant or trivial, studies reveal that microaggressions may be more harmful than overtly bigoted words and actions.
  • microaggressions have been found to:
    (a) affect mental health
    (b) create a hostile, invalidating work or school climate
    (c) perpetuate stereotype threat
    (d) create physical health problems
    (e) saturate society with cues that signal devaluation of the group
    (f) lower work productivity and problem solving abilities
    (g) be partially responsible for creating inequities in education, employment and health care
  • most people harbor unconscious biases and prejudices.

2. The Tumblr Microaggressions. There are so many excellent examples here it would be hard to pick just a few, but I would include some of the images from a photography project dealing with racist microaggressions by Kiyun and her friends at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus:

normalblackreallyfromcarrieunderwoodeyes2. This 2 page pdf entitled Making the Invisible Visible: Gender Microaggressions (via the University of New Hampshire). It looks like a handout from a (good) presentation. Ostensibly focused on gender, it’s a nice primer on microaggressions generally.

4. As I was thinking about all of this, right on cue came a very interesting article from The Atlantic: The Odds That a Panel Would ‘Randomly’ Be All Men Are Astronomical. Mathematician Greg Martin worked out the odds that speaker panels at tech conferences would be all (or overwhelmingly) men: next to zero. Martin concludes that “any such conference without any female speakers must have come into being in a system that does not treat gender fairly.” He attributes this effect not to deliberate sexism or misogyny, but to unconscious bias. He also notes “how truly dismissive and defensive people get when gender disparity is pointed out.” Martin hopes his work can counter the stubborn illusion of meritocracy with a reality check—or as Lauren Bacon puts it, “Greg has found a way to use the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house.”

Other findings that cannot so easily be explained away by those who may prefer to remain in denial about how human culture and human brains work:

5. This is probably a bit advanced for a 101-level presentation, but perhaps it would be worth including either as a handout, or on a list of suggested further reading: White Fragility. DiAngelo, R., International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, Vol 3 (3) (2011). (pdf) If you haven’t seen it, it is a beautifully written, jargon-free academic paper that has received heavy traction in social justice circles since it was published. It occurred to me when I first read it that one could do a search-&-replace with sexist (or heterosexist or virtually any other axis of privilege) terms and the analysis would be just as powerful, interesting and accurate. Really an excellent read. From the intro:

I am a white woman. I am standing beside a black woman. We are facing a group of white people who are seated in front of us. We are in their workplace, and have been hired by their employer to lead them in a dialogue about race. The room is filled with tension and charged with hostility. I have just presented a definition of racism that includes the acknowledgment that whites hold social and institutional power over people of color. A white man is pounding his fist on the table. His face is red and he is furious. As he pounds he yells, “White people have been discriminated against for 25 years! A white person can’t get a job anymore!” I look around the room and see 40 employed people, all white. There are no people of color in this workplace. Something is happening here, and it isn’t based in the racial reality of the workplace. I am feeling unnerved by this man’s disconnection with that reality, and his lack of sensitivity to the impact this is having on my co-facilitator, the only person of color in the room. Why is this white man so angry? Why is he being so careless about the impact of his anger? Why are all the other white people either sitting in silent agreement with him or tuning out? We have, after all, only articulated a definition of racism.

Now that I think about it, opening a presentation with this story or something similar (along the lines of “unfortunately this is what we often hear whenever we talk about these issues with audiences like this one…”) could potentially tamp down this reaction in the first place.

It seems to me that microaggressions would make a very good starting point for a discussion about diversity, before launching into some broader concepts like privilege and intersectionality, and ultimately discussing effective ways to leverage some of these principles in the real world. I wouldn’t expect to have much of an impact in an hour and a half session; for one thing this stuff takes time to process, especially if you’ve never been exposed to it before. And of course there are some people who will never, ever be reached—they’re too closed-minded (fragile?) to tolerate even a hint that their behavior is ever anything less that unimpeachable at all times (despite evidence to the contrary). I have to admit I find it darkly funny that if we take the research findings seriously, my presentation would have the most impact if the person giving it is were a white, straight, fit, able-bodied, heterosexual male. But I do think a reasonable goal would be to get some peoples’ gears turning, such that they take better care with what they do and say, and begin to notice problems and issues that they did not see before. This is especially important, because once you see privilege operating, it becomes difficult to unsee it. I know from my own experience that this awareness is only the start of a personal journey. It will take many, many personal journeys to make meaningful progress.

But if there are people who genuinely want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem—and I believe that there are—they have to start dealing with reality somewhere, sometime. That means they have to be willing to confront facts and ideas that will almost certainly make them uncomfortable and defensive. I figure they may as well start with the kick-ass slides and handouts I would make for my (hypothetical**) awesome and wildly infotaining diversity presentation. I am the fucking Priestess of PowerPoint™. FYI.

Look, I drew a bobblehead of Sam Harris. In PowerPoint. For no reason.

harrisbobbleheadHahaha. I crack myself up.

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*You probably think I’m kidding, or at least heavily exaggerating with the image of that draft markup. Nope.

**I’m semi-seriously considering putting something like this together. Thoughts?