A Profile in Avoidance.

The couple with Donald’s daughter Ivanka at the 2004 Met Gala.
By Evan Agostini/Getty Images.

Vanity Fair has an interesting profile of Melania Trump, who, it seems, simply wanted a life of quiet avoidance cushioned by a great deal of money. Interesting reading, but also truly sad, a look at brittle, splintery, unhappy lives.

As the gorgeous wife of a Manhattan billionaire, Melania has had every opportunity to become a fixture on the gala-going benefit circuit. But that would presume an interest in social status or a cause. As Bytner recalls, “She was passionate about . . . Well, I can’t think what she was passionate about.”

[…]

Trump decided not to run in 2012, saying he wasn’t ready to leave the private sector. Four years later, the time had come. Trump’s official story is that he consulted with his family about his decision to run, and they all agreed. A former campaign aide recalls a conversation in which Melania told this aide that she didn’t want Donald to run, because she was terrified he might win. According to another Trump insider, “She never wanted this, and never had any interest.” (Grisham maintains that “Mrs. Trump has always been supportive of all her husband’s endeavors.”) Tolerating his boorishness—that she could do. Repeating a couple of lame sound bites to Joy Behar—fine. But serious campaigning for one’s spouse required far more actual effort.

Melania seemed to do her best to ignore the new reality, on the grounds that she wanted to be home for Barron. Over the course of Trump’s 17-month campaign, she rarely joined her husband at rallies, and the speeches she gave could be counted on one hand. Compare that with Michelle Obama, who spoke all over the country on Barack’s behalf, though she too had young children. During the primaries, Donald made do by re-tweeting a picture of Melania next to an unflattering shot of Heidi Cruz, Ted’s wife, with the caption “The images are worth a thousand words.”

But then he clinched the nomination, and more Melania participation was required—which, alas, did not do her any favors. In February 2016, in an interview with MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski, Melania expounded on illegal immigration, using her personal story as an example of model behavior. “I followed the law . . . . And you should do that. You should not just say, O.K., let me stay here. And whatever happens happens.”

The full article is here.

Oh, Evil Cleavage!

Michael Reagan has decided, in his defense of one Mr. O’Reilly, to focus on … cleavage! Surprised, right? C’mon, no one ever could have guessed that one, no, no. The sheer nerve of women, existing with those inconveniently placed bumps, let alone wearing something low cut. Oooh, the evil.

Conservative commentator Michael Reagan, the son of former president Ronald Reagan, defended Bill O’Reilly this morning over claims that the recently fired Fox News host sexually harassed women.

Reagan, a contributor to the conservative outlet Newsmax, shared posts on Facebook and Twitter insisting that if women wear “low cut dresses,” then men should consider suing “for sexual arousal”

There was a link to that tweet, I removed it as the tweet in question is now gone. It would seem Mr. Reagan got some feedback on that one which he didn’t like.

“If women are going to wear low cut dresses that show cleavage don’t be harassed when we men look. Or shld we sue for sexual arousal?”

Oh, so that’s how it works, women just have to decide we aren’t harassed. Ever. Then everything will be okely dokely!

Another deleted Tweet stated:

Hot Choclare used to be a compliment on your looks today it is called sexual harassment..@oreillyfactor

— Michael Reagan (@ReaganWorld) April 21, 2017

It’s been replaced with this one:

If someone calls u brown sugar because u are in their eyes gorgeous and blk.2 them it’s a compliment 2 U it’s harrassment, then tell them.

Oh, the denseness of someone who absolutely refuses to get the point. What you think about anyone’s appearance, and how it affects your boner has no place at all in any relationship other than a mutually intimate one.

Via RWW.

The Joy of Housing.

Rick Steves gets a hug.

Ricks Steves, author, and well known television travel guru, has his own idea of investing, and that investment hasn’t just grown over the years, it’s helped a tremendous amount of people.

Travel guide guru Rick Steves just gave a $4 million apartment complex to homeless women and kids who need housing.

Steves realized, early on, the importance of affordable housing, during his travel adventures (how else?) as a young man in Europe.

[…]

Twenty years ago, he devised a scheme where he could put my retirement savings not into a bank to get interest, but into cheap apartments that could house struggling neighbors.

“I would retain my capital, my equity would grow as the apartment complex appreciated,” Steves explained on his travel blog. “Rather than collecting rent, my “income” would be the joy of housing otherwise desperate people. I found this a creative, compassionate and more enlightened way to “invest” while retaining my long-term security.”

The 24-unit apartment complex became began housing single moms who were recovering from drug addiction and were now ready to get custody of their children back.

“Imagine the joy of knowing that I could provide a simple two-bedroom apartment for a mom and her kids as she fought to get her life back on track.”

There’s a nice little glow. Steves has now given the complex over to the Y.

Via Raw Story.

Sunday Facepalm: Beastly!

Kevin Swanson is being rather beastly over Beauty and the Beast, and for a different reason than the standard Christian zealot reason of “gay character”. Swanson is concerned with the promotion of inter-species breeding. Yep. Obviously, Mr. Swanson’s knowledge of how that whole breeding business works is deficient, but let’s take a look at La Belle et la Bête by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, published in 1740. The original work was more in line with a novella than a brief tale, and it was for adults, not children.

Villeneuve’s work is more novella than simple tale with its elaborate prose and numerous details, including stories told within stories. Her narrative is far from complete upon the Beast’s transformation into a man. Then we meet his mother and learn his backstory as well as Beauty’s own hidden history, for she is not the true daughter of a merchant, but a princess in disguise herself. All of this combines into an elaborate literary creation, not a traditionally truncated folktale. Villeneuve imagined new material, uniquely her own, while incorporating traditional folklore elements, many of which exist in the version we are most familiar with today. She writes about romantic love and marriage while exploring themes like women’s marital rights, although those themes are somewhat hidden in most English translations of the tale.

Two different English translations of Villeneuve’s tale are presented in this collection. The first one, by Ernest Dowson, was first published in 1908. It is one of the most accurate translations of Villeneuve’s content into English, including elements often changed or omitted in other translations. However, Dowson’s language is less ornate than Villeneuve’s and doesn’t capture the same essence as another favored translation, one by J. R. Planché, first published in 1858.

Planché’s translation includes footnotes by the present editor to show where he modified the text, changes he briefly touches upon in his comments to his Victorian audience. The changes, although small, are far from minor for they change an essential element of the tale. Instead of asking Beauty to marry him each night—a familiar refrain in modern versions of the story—the Beast asks Beauty, “May I sleep with you tonight?”

The question, while risqué, is not merely suggestive or erotic. It implies control and choice for Beauty over her own body and sexuality, something that was not legally hers or that of any woman who was handed over as property in marriage to a husband in centuries past. The Beast is no true beast since he never forces his physical desires upon her despite any rights implied by her presence in his home in what today may be considered a common law marriage, although the construct didn’t exist in Villeneuve’s time.

Another important change is in the Beast’s transformation scene. Beauty finally agrees to sleep with the Beast and marry him in the original Villeneuve. The Beast then sleeps beside her during the night, although no other activities beyond Beauty’s mysterious dreams are described. When she awakens the next morning, a man—one whom she has come to love in her dreams—is sleeping beside her instead of the Beast.

That, and more is from SurLaLune Fairytales. All of the above elevates the tale considerably from the versions which are familiar today, and it’s easy enough to figure out why Disney certainly wouldn’t touch upon such complexities. The Disney version is a simplified tale of love, with the requisite lesson about how appearances are not what matters, don’t judge a book by its cover, and so on. For Mr. Swanson, that’s quite bad enough, as somehow or another, along with the horrible effort to ‘homosexualize’ whole generations, claims the movie promotes ‘Inter-Species Breeding’, oh, the horror!

Swanson said that the movie was an “insidious” effort to “homosexualize the next generation of eight and ten-year-old kids” and ensure that they are “indoctrinated into the homosexual lifestyle.”

“This is how revolutions take place,” he said. “You are in the middle of a cultural revolution in the United States of America. No, this is not the cultural revolution that Mao Tse-tung brought to China; this is a different kind of cultural revolution, but I’m going to say it’s just about as dangerous … though a bit more insidious.”

Oooh, look at that nicely done twist into communism. You can’t have the gay without the commie in the christian version of the gay agenda. From what I understand, a minor character in the movie has a crush on his mean boss. This is hardly a gay version of Beauty and the Beast. (As the commonly known tale has little to do with the original these days, that would be a fun movie!) It’s not as though the current flick has become mandatory, and all people must have their eyelids taped open and have no choice but to watch it.

Even worse, Swanson said, the film is promoting inter-species breeding, which he said Hollywood has been pushing since the days of Star Trek.

“Christians, I don’t believe, can allow for this,” Swanson stated. “Humans are made in the image of God. Humans are assigned a spouse which happens to be a member of the opposite sex. Friends, God’s law forbids it … Christians should not allow for this, man. We cannot allow for humans to interbreed with other species. It’s just wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s confusion, it’s unnatural.”

“We are in some of the most radical, most anti-biblical, the most immoral, the most unethical, the most wicked sexual environment that the world has ever known, right now,” he warned.

Star Trek? Oh my. Does the not very thoughtful Mr. Swanson not know that we don’t have a federation, starships, or zillions of extraterrestials around to get sexy with? Yes, I had one hell of a crush on Mr. Spock when I was 9 years old, it was those ears. Unfortunately for me, there weren’t any neato trips to Vulcan happening. Given the limitations of television back then, and the lack of imagination now, most all the aliens pictured were suitably humanoid, barely distinguishable from the bog standard human. Even so, there’s no inter-species breeding going on in the Star Trek sense.

Humans are assigned a spouse? So all that dating stuff is not necessary? You had better let people know where the ticket center is, so they can grab their god ticket and see who has been all lined up for them. I think the only confusion going on here is in the mind of Mr. Swanson, a steamy mess of muddle. After all, there really isn’t a beast in Beauty and the Beast, he’s a prince in disguise, remember? A human type prince. Everyone gets all human prior to the happily married business.

Via RWW.

And we have a bonus facepalm today, in the form of Rick Wiles, who is now officially unhappy with the Tiny Tyrant over the Syria bombing. Mr. Wiles has now decided that the evil is in the form of Ms. Kushner and her husband:

Wiles went on to compare Ivanka with the daughter of Herod who, in Matthew 14, convinced her father to behead John the Baptist.

“That’s who I think Ivanka Trump is,” Wiles said. “She’s a Kabbala practicing, evil woman whispering evil things in the ear of her father. She’s going to the grave site of an old dead Kabbala practitioner and getting spirits telling her what to do … We have to pray against witchcraft in high places, witchcraft that plans to kill millions of people. … [Ivanka and Jared] are cleaning out the White House to surround President Trump with their Kabbala practitioners, and the only advice he is going to get will be from people who are evil. And the church is letting this happen.”

Oh my, now it’s a Jewish witch in the white house! I think it’s wars and bombs which are killing people, and it’s the Tiny Tyrant’s notion that it’s his military and his toys that are the actual problem.

Via RWW.

Friendship Benches.

Like many simple ideas, friendship benches and grandmothers is an absolutely brilliant one. Zimbabwe has a wealth of people suffering ills, much like every place else on the planet. Mental and emotional difficulties and struggles are stigmatized all over the world, and even when there are abundant resources, many people won’t reach out because of that stigma. Most places don’t have abundant resources, but they do have troubled people who do not want to be stigmatized. So, what to do? There’s a small program in parts of Zimbabwe, where older women receive training, and they spend time on the friendship benches, where people can come and talk them, and be listened to, which I feel is a cure for a great many ills. Most people simply don’t listen, and often, even when someone does, they get awkward and embarrassed because they can’t fix a person’s problem. What gets missed much of the time is that people aren’t necessarily looking for a fix, they simply need someone to listen, someone to care. The Grandmothers are also happy, because they feel needed, rather than lonely and neglected. Friendship benches are an idea which needs to be widespread, all over the world.

The therapy room is a patch of waste ground, and the therapist’s couch a wooden bench under a tree. The therapist is an elderly Zimbabwean woman, in a long brown dress and headscarf.

Her patients call her “Grandmother” when they come along to sit on her bench and discuss their feelings, their depression or other mental health issues.

[…]

The benches are a safe place for people struggling with depression, which in the Shona language is called kufungisisa, “thinking too much”.

It is a world away from conventional approaches to mental healthcare, but the Friendship Bench project has changed the lives of an estimated 27,000 Zimbabweans suffering from depression and other mental disorders.

The grandmothers, all of whom are trained to improve a patient’s ability to cope with mental stress, listen and nod, offering only an occasional word of encouragement.

[…]

“When they first get to the bench, we use an intervention which we call kuvhura pfungwa [opening of the mind]. They sit and talk about their problems. Through that process, the grandmothers enable that patient to select a specific problem to focus on, and they help them through it,” he says.

Through at least six one-on-one sessions with the health workers, the patients are encouraged to speak about their problems and their mental illness.

Traditionally, elderly women play the role of counsellor for younger members of the community. On the bench, however, the grandmothers listen more, and lecture less.

“We used to talk a lot, ‘Do this, do that’. But now we ask them to open up, open their minds and hearts,” says Sheba Khumalo, a grandmother.

The Guardian has the full story.

Trying to Kill Planned Parenthood.

In this Sept. 9, 2015, file photo, Planned Parenthood supporters rally for women’s access to reproductive health care on “National Pink Out Day’’ at Los Angeles City Hall. CREDIT: AP Photo/Nick Ut, File.

Yesterday, the Tiny Tyrant made a move to allow states to punish Planned Parenthood, and people at large, by allowing them to withhold federal funds. This is going to do a great deal of harm, especially in the more regressive states, of which there are too many. This is a direct hit on Title X, which is a devastating blow to healthcare, which the rethugs are all happy about, as they couldn’t come out and just repeal. As usual, poorer people and women will be suffering the most under this new move.

President Donald Trump signed a bill into law on Thursday that would allow states to withhold federal money for family planning services, such as birth control, from Planned Parenthood clinics and other women’s health centers.

The bill is a repeal of an Obama-era regulation that said states couldn’t withhold Title X funding, which covers family planning and preventative care, from organizations just because those organizations also provide abortion care. This bill would roll back that protection, emboldening states to try to restrict such funding.

The Senate passed the bill 51–50 in March, with Vice President Pence casting the tie breaking vote.

Four million people with low incomes rely on Title X for preventative health care. Roughly 1.5 million receive their Title X care at Planned Parenthood.

In practice, what this bill does is open the door for states to restrict these people from choosing certain health care providers — which may be, in many cases, the only health care provider nearby, the one they trust, or the only one that they can afford.

While the bill does not defund Planned Parenthood directly, it is part of a wider GOP attack on the women’s health provider — and will likely encourage further efforts to cut federal funding off from Planned Parenthood.

It is already legally prohibited to use federal funds for abortion care, thanks to the Hyde Amendment. Currently, Planned Parenthood gets federal funding through programs like Title X and Medicaid, which cover STD testing, cancer screenings, birth control access, and other health needs for people who wouldn’t be able to afford them.

In reality, federally defunding Planned Parenthood — as the GOP proposed to do in their failed health care bill  — actually means preventing people who rely on it from accessing health care. And while anti-Planned Parenthood politicians argue that people can go elsewhere, for many low-income and rural women and men, Planned Parenthood clinics are their only option.

Think Progress has the full story.

Bull vs Girl.

Arturo Di Modica holds a model of his Charging Bull sculpture during a news conference Wednesday, April 12, 2017, in New York. CREDIT: AP Photo/Craig Ruttle.

The artist of the Charging Bull sculpture wants the ‘fearless girl’ removed, and so do I.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Di Modica’s attorney Norman Siegel argued that Fearless Girl infringes on Di Modica’s artistic copyright by “changing the creative dynamic” of his original work and ask that it be removed and placed elsewhere in the city:

“Very simply, we request, respectfully, that the Fearless Girl statue be removed. We’re not asking it to be banned… Gender equality is a very serious, substantial issue. It’s permeated throughout our society. For years, civil rights people have fought for gender equality… So that’s a real issue. None of us here today are in any way not proponents of gender equality. But there are issues of copyright and trademark that needed to be and still need to be addressed. So, remove her and place her somewhere else in the city.”

[…]

Fearless Girl is cloying, corporate feminism sponsored by a company that only has three women on its fourteen person board of directors. Only 28 percent of State Street’s senior vice-presidents are women, as are a measly 23 percent of executive vice-presidents. In defense of those stats, the company’s head of public relations told the Huffington Post that those numbers are “better than zero.” Can’t argue with that kind of logic. Who says women are bad at math?

So Fearless Girl is a cutesy signifier that signifies nothing, an accessory for selfies. She doesn’t challenge any preconceived notions about what girls can do or be; girls have long worn skirts and ponytails and played outside. Fearless girls are adored and celebrated in literature, popular culture, and life. It’s once girls become women that all their ambition scans as irritating instead of spunky, as off-putting instead of endearing. The same society that roots for ambition in girls is one that that socially, professionally, and politically punishes ambition in the women those girls will become. It’s women, not girls, who have pesky needs and opinions and goals and sex drives and reproductive organs that make their ambition too problematic to accept.

Oh, I could not possibly agree more. That girl irritated the hell out of me from the start. What, exactly is radical about a young girl in a dress? The image itself is stock straight out of the 1950s, ponytail and flared skirt. Might as well have done her up in a poodle skirt. That aside, my major problem with it was that it was a girl. The protests, the marches, they were about women. Adult women, who in the United States, are still treated as barely above chattel, and who every single day, face a fight over their right to live with the full rights accorded to men. Do we have bodily autonomy? No. Are we paid equal wages? No. Is violence against women taken seriously? No. Is there widespread parental leave and accommodation? No. Are male parents treated the same as female parents? No. Is harassment taken seriously? No. And on it goes. You can idealize girls all you like, you can tell girls they can do anything they like, but what is the point of that when they run smack into the reality of being a woman? And what about the actual reality of growing up girl? It’s not all sweet, rosy, and flying high with ambition as represented. Young girls hit the wall of rooted misogyny very early. Just ask any parent. Parents of boys are just as challenged, as they watch their sons absorbing deep rooted toxic sexism and toxic masculinity. It’s a constant fight, and it’s not one which will get any easier unless we tackle these issues head on, clear-eyed, with a focus on reality.

I don’t really care why the “fearless” girl is removed, as long as she is, and I do take Mr. Di Modica’s point. His art work should not have to suffer at the whim of a piece of marketing fluff straight out of the 1950s. Go away, fearless girl. Give me a call when you’re all grown up.

Full story at Think Progress.

Elvis Gospel Albums, Catheters, Aaaaaaand…

Wow, that will bring in the dollars, won’t it? These are the replacements for all those national brands who fled Bill O’Reilly’s no longer erect ship. It’s sounding more and more likely that Bill’s vacation is going to be permanent, and all I have to say about that is Good Riddance.

Sherman also reports that James Murdoch, the CEO of 21st Century Fox, wants O’Reilly gone. Murdoch forced out longtime Fox News CEO Roger Ailes last summer over allegations of sexual misconduct.

O’Reilly has not addressed the new allegations of sexual harassment on his show. Fox News, with the exception of a lukewarm statement to the New York Times, has also largely remained silent. Silence, however, has not stemmed the controversy.

So far, at least 77 advertisers have publicly announced they will no longer air commercials during O’Reilly’s show. The number of ads on the show has dramatically declined and large national brands have been replaced with ads for Elvis gospel albums and catheters.

Think Progress has the full run down.

Moving on to a remarkable bit of language twisting by none other than Oscar Munoz, who should perhaps hand over the public speaking to someone with more than pieces of silver in their brain:

“We’re not going to put a law enforcement official… to remove a booked, paid, seated passenger,” United Continental Holdings Inc Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz told ABC News on Wednesday morning. “We can’t do that.”

You did do that.

Munoz said the problem resulted from a “system failure” that prevented employees from using “common sense” in the situation and that Dr. David Dao, whom security officers dragged by his hands, on his back, from the cabin before takeoff, was not at fault.

A system failure that prevented employees from using common sense. Right. Perhaps if your corporateness would allow employees to think and problem solve, this little public relations nightmare of yours wouldn’t have happened in the first place. I think everyone knows where to place the blame, Mr. Munoz, and it appears that the only “system” which failed is you.

Via Raw Story.

Acts of Defiance.

Image: Charlotte Cooper, CC-BY.

Maryland is leading an action which is poised to be picked up by lawmakers across the country. The federal de-funding of Planned Parenthood clinics is not sitting well with constituents far and wide, and they are making their voices known.

Every dollar that the Trump administration takes away from Planned Parenthood in Maryland will be replaced by state funds (about $2.7M), which will save about $6 for every dollar it puts in, because when women are in charge of their own fertility, they don’t end up raising kids they can’t afford.

State lawmakers across the USA are planning to follow suit. Maryland’s Republican state governor Larry Hogan didn’t even try to veto the bill, having seen what happened when federal Republicans tried to take away health care — and women are disproportionately willing to rise up to fight for their rights.

Boing Boing has the story.

Wrap My Hijab!

Mona Haydar, a Syrian Muslim-American poet and activist, released her first-ever single and rap music video in honor of the world’s first-ever Muslim Women’s Day on Mar 27 … all while she’s pregnant.

Given the current rise of Islamophobia around the world, Haydar wanted to fight the hate. And what better way to do that than with music?

“This song is a party,” Haydar wrote in a Facebook post.

After the song went live, some people began shaming Haydar and the other hijabis in the video for having fun, as they sing and dance away.

“So even if you hate it – I still wrap my hijab!” the lyrics say in anticipation of the hateful remarks.

But, Haydar did not let the hate ruin the moment, and instead kept on celebrating.

You can read more here. I think it’s a grand song!

Pres. Pussy Grabber Declares April To Be…

Hundreds of thousands of women marched on Washington to protest Donald Trump’s presidency. CREDIT: AP Photo/Alex Brandon.

Hundreds of thousands of women marched on Washington to protest Donald Trump’s presidency. CREDIT: AP Photo/Alex Brandon.

National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month! Yep, you read that one correctly. If the Tiny Tyrant was remotely intelligent, I’d be very suspicious. He isn’t remotely intelligent though, and apparently he’s untouchable when it comes to irony poisoning. He’s also not doing anything remotely new. April has been Sexual Assault Awareness month since 2001. So, we basically have a known bullshit move on the part of Donnie. He picks up something that’s already in place, ignores the decades of hard work put in, so he can pretend he’s oh so great, and lookit, I’m doing something presidential! Don’t swallow the shit. This is not Donnie doing something right, this is Donnie grabbing onto the coattails of others, for the sole purpose of feeding his monstrous ego.

Nearly six months after tapes were released of him bragging about sexually assaulting women, Donald Trump declared on Friday that April is officially National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

Citing the 300,000 people who are sexually assaulted or raped every year, Trump also proclaimed that his administration — specifically the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice — is stepping up to assist victims and prevent future attacks.

The bulk of his proclamation is a series of platitudes rather than a substantive plan to address rampant sexual violence and rape culture. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reportedly been told to establish a crime reduction and public safety task force to “develop strategies to reduce crime and propose new legislation to fill gaps in existing laws.” Trump also noted the importance of speaking out against sexual violence among peers, “mobilizing men and boys as allies in preventing sexual and relationship violence,” and showing women and children more respect.

:chokes, sputter: Excuse me? Nice talk there, to be sure, and as for standing up and doing the right thing, you’re going to turn yourself in over the rape and sexual assaults you committed, right?

“Together, we can and must protect our loved ones, families, campuses, and communities from the devastating and pervasive effects of sexual assault,” he said. “In the face of sexual violence, we must commit to providing meaningful support and services for victims and survivors in the United States and around the world.”

That might have warmed the black cockles of my heart, coming from anyone else. From the Tiny Tyrant? No, no. How in the fuck could anyone take that at face value from a man who views women as chattel, as a commodity, along with convenient holes just walking around, free for the grabbing? As for respecting women, oh please. The Tiny Tyrant has a long record of demeaning and disrespecting women.

But it’s difficult to take this proclamation seriously, coming from a man who was filmed suggesting celebrities “can do anything” to women — such as “grab them by the pussy” — and who has a long, documented history of the type of misogyny that allows sexual violence to thrive. He routinely reduces women’s worth to their looks, implying that women who have publicly accused him of assault are too unattractive for their stories to be true. “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you. Man, you don’t know, that would not be my first choice,” he said during a campaign rally. On the campaign trail, Trump also argued that women who are sexually harassed at work should quit, shortly before hiring serial sexual harasser Roger Ailes.

It’s also hard to treat seriously Trump’s plan to protect victims in the U.S. and worldwide. His proposed budget threatens funding to uphold the federal Violence Against Women Act and bolster support for survivors. One of his first acts as President was to reinstate the global gag rule, gutting foreign aid to much-needed health service providers if they offer abortions — the very types of providers who assist survivors of sexual violence.

Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, also donated to FIRE, a group that purportedly fights for individual’s freedom on school campuses and allegations of sexual assault. The group once wrote:

“Unfortunately, much of the feminist ‘war on rape’ has conflated sexual assault with muddled, often alcohol-fueled, sexual encounters that involve miscommunication, perhaps bad behavior, but no criminal coercion. As a result, the drunken hookups all too common on today’s campuses can lead to devastating charges and penalties.

Full story at Think Progress.

The Penis Seat.

Men using Mexico City’s metro trains got a shock when they sat down on a seat featuring a lifelike penis.

Campaigners against sexual violence placed the seat, which is moulded in the shape of a male body – complete with genitals, on public transport in a drive designed to show men the difficulties women face every day.

A note on the floor in front of the seat read: “It’s uncomfortable to sit here, but that’s nothing compared to the sexual violence suffered by women on their commute.”

A video promoting the stunt has been watched some 800,000 times on YouTube and is part of a UN Women campaign, alongside the Mexico City government, to tackle the problem of sexual assault.

In it, men can be seen leaping straight back up after trying to sit in the seat. Bemused, confused and disgusted expressions are seen on passengers’ faces as they catch sight of the moulding.

Mexico City moved in 2000 to make the first three carriages of metro trains women-only all day because of a surge in complaints about harassment, but it appears the problem remains.

This is a great idea, because it drives home the problem of harassment in a very real way, not only with the seat, but as you can see later in the video, the camera screens at the station were focusing in on men’s arses, much to their consternation and alarm. As a woman, it’s quite easy to laugh about the reaction of the men, because we spend whole lifetimes putting up with such shit, and it is always a difficult task to get the depth of the problem through to men. Here’s hoping this campaign does get more men to understand.

Holly Kearl, founder of the Stop Street Harassment campaign in the US, told the BBC: “Too often initiatives around women’s safety focus on what women should or should not do, so it is refreshing to see a creative campaign aimed at men.”

On YouTube, the reaction was not universally positive.

One angry male commenter condemned the video as “misandrist” and said it accused an “entire gender” over the actions of an “idiotic and uneducated percentage”.

A woman wrote under the video: “These misandrist campaigns make me angry. To other women I say, ‘Don’t you have sons, fathers or partners? Do you agree with generalising and demonising the male sex in this way?’”

As there has been little done to diminish centuries worth of generalising and demonising women, I’d say when that sort of shit stops, we can stop targeting those who commit the highest levels of harassment. Why is is alright to continue on with the “don’t do this! don’t do that!” garbage women and girls get from day one? Why is it not alright to target harassers and rapists? Those campaigns actually work. And the standard disclaimer: No, not all men harass, assault, or rape. All men do know other men who do those things. All men know other men who are sexist assholes, who tell very nasty jokes about women, who complain constantly about how evil women are, so it’s okay to do this or that, and so on. And the probability is very high that most men don’t tackle all those other men about that sort of stuff. Until men stand up to other men, we won’t get far.

Full story here.