No, not Ian McEwan!


I love his books. But there he goes, getting all naive and narrow:

Novelist Ian McEwan recently summed up the impulse to see two categories: “Call me old-fashioned,” he told an audience, “but I tend to think of people with penises as men.”

I’m 9 years younger than McEwan, which I guess makes me one of those young whippersnappers. I’m still kind of peeved at this tendency to ascribe certain regressive views to entire generations, as if old people get excused from simple humanity, and are all done with learning and growing. I’m not planning on turning into a simple-minded fool in the next few years (not that it can’t happen!).

But right now I can say I don’t think like Ian McEwan.

I tend not to think about people’s penises, or lack thereof.

I’ve met thousands of people, and so far, none of them have introduced themselves by showing me their genitals. I don’t think that would be a particularly helpful revelation, anyway; I’ve found a bit of conversation to be far more revealing.

I tend not to characterize people into one of two groups by the degree of enlargement of their embryonic genital tubercle, either. That seems a kind of crude and useless taxonomy. In general, lumping humanity into men on one side and women on the other seems like a useless distinction that ignores a tremendous amount of nuance.

I’m going to start thinking of people in terms of their blood groups. I really should start hanging out with more type O people, in case there is a tragic accident and I need a transfusion. I’m incompatible with those A and B people, and those ABs, just forget it. But at least I’ve divided humanity into four arbitrary subsets, rather than a mere two.

Call me old-fashioned, but I tend to think of type O people as potential blood donors.

That’s not dehumanizing, is it?

Same-sex marriage kills babies

At least that’s what the Heritage Foundation says. It’s going to kill 900,000 babies.

On the surface, abortion and same-sex marriage may seem unrelated. However, as explained in an amicus brief of 100 scholars of marriage, filed in the pending Supreme Court marriage cases and summarized here, the two are closely linked in a short and simple causal chain that the Supreme Court would be wise not to set in motion.

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There is more evidence that ex-wrestling coaches will molest your children, than that transgender people will

Ah, Republican hypocrisy. Ripe and pungent, flowing everywhere. While they’re flailing across the land to gin up a new moral panic over transgender people needing to pee, they’re also rushing to defend a convicted child molester who was one of their own. Dennis Hastert, form speaker, is guilty of sexually abusing children when he was a wrestling coach, and is about to be sentenced. His pals have written letters begging for leniency, and those letters have been made public, because the judge refused to accept them unless they were made openly.

So here’s the verminous Tom DeLay:

So I know his heart and have seen it up close and personal. We all have our flaws, but Dennis Hastert has very few. He is a good man that loves the lord. He gets his integrity and values from Him. He doesn’t deserve what he is going through. I ask that you consider the man that is before you and give him leniency where you can.

So we get a heavy dose of Christian hypocrisy, too. If Hastert gets his integrity and values from Him, that really puts an insidious twist on Matthew 19:14 (Suffer the little children to come unto me).

I also have to ask: do transgender men and women deserve what they go through?

Change is entirely natural

What a surprise — once upon a time, way back when we lived in Pennsylvania, I voted for Harris Wofford for the senate. He lost. He was defeated by Rick Santorum. I haven’t heard much about him since we moved out west to Minnesota.

I’ve now learned that his wife died in 1996, 20 years ago, and a few years later, he started dating again. He’s been in a long-term relationship ever since, and is now, at age 90, planning to get married, to Matthew Charlton. No big deal; he loved his wife, Clare, sadly lost her to leukemia, and found new love with a same-sex partner.

Too often, our society seeks to label people by pinning them on the wall — straight, gay or in between. I don’t categorize myself based on the gender of those I love. I had a half-century of marriage with a wonderful woman, and now am lucky for a second time to have found happiness.

I thought that was wonderful. You love a person, not just the sex of the body they inhabit. And hey, you can keep romance alive into your 90s? Good news!

Infantilization and brutality


Jezebel does it again. They’ve gone rummaging through film archives and compiled a collection of clips that expose the mainstream attitude towards women: they are like children, and deserve to be spanked by a strong man.

With the camera rolling or not, stories coming from Hollywood studios presented a consistent message that spankings were a healthy part of a woman’s life. At the same time, all across America women were getting spanked by their husbands—and taking them to court.

To many American women, a spanking was the fruit not of charming adoration but domestic tyranny. Sometimes these spankings were precipitated by violent behavior on the part of the wife—but just as often it was for her failure to be a docile servant.

It got me wondering…was there ever a scene in an old movie in which a man gets rude or uppity or deserving of discipline, and another man grabs him, flings him over his knee, and starts walloping his butt with a hairbrush? Ever? And wouldn’t the public have been horrified at the impropriety of such a scene, with all its implications of ownership, disrespect and disregard, and sexuality?

Toxic gallantry


This afternoon I’m giving a talk on how evolution, and fundamentally, the naturalistic fallacy, is abused all over the place, and then I find this open letter to the various heroines of recent movies, and I just want gak all over it. Not only does this guy call on bad biology to defend his traditionally misogynistic position, but he’s a fundie Christian who believes humans were created by a deity, so he doesn’t even accept the biology he’s misusing.

I know the whole world is ladling on the adoration for your brave contributions to modern womanhood. However, you are behaving, all of you, in ways that do not befit your sex or glorify God. Frankly, and I’m sorry to have to say this, I really am, many of you look ridiculous. Your friends and family and fans may not laugh at you. But the angels do and history will. What you’re doing might be good politics (of a sort), but it’s bad biology, bad theology, and bad storytelling. It lies about who you are as a woman and how God made you. And it makes for lousy movies and TV.

Okay, that’s the nastiest part. Now let me explain.

Let’s talk about biology first, who you are as a woman.

The most obvious things are the hardest to defend. You can write whole textbooks proving something unseen and unexpected like gravity or photosynthesis. But how do you prove the existence of Mt. Everest besides saying “Look, there it is?”

That’s why I feel dumb saying this, but:

Women are the weaker sex. They may be the smarter sex, they are often the wiser sex, they’re probably the more industrious sex, they’re definitely the prettier sex. But they’re also the weaker sex.

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Guys who make me embarrassed to be a guy

Stop it. Just stop it. I’m usually quite happy to be male — it’s an incredibly lucky sex to be, and I’m chockful of hormones that joyfully confirm all of my biases — but then there are these other guys that are so stupid about it that I become uncomfortable. We should all be happy with who we are, and it’s not women who make me squirm, it’s the members of my own sex who do everything so badly. And there have been some terrible examples lately.

  • Men who think women owe them sex. Like this terrible story of a man who didn’t get the sex he wanted on a date. Don’t you know, he spent $30 on tolls?


    It’s her decision, full stop. Don’t argue. And when you go on that kind of entitled rant, it just confirms how right her decision was.

  • Here’s another brand of obliviousness: a man wants his mother to be in the delivery room when his wife gives birth. His mother is apparently very critical and demanding, and his wife put her foot down and said no, so he went…running to Reddit to get advice on how to overrule her?

    You know you’ve got problems when you think Reddit is a good source for relationship advice. You ought to know you’re really screwed up when even the Reddit community is nearly unanimous in declaring that you’re a clueless doofus and you need to respect your wife’s wishes.

  • MRAs. Enough said.

We wuv you so much, Governor McCrory!

The Minnesota GOP is just as backward and ignorant as the GOP in any southern state. They recently tried to pass one of those awful bathroom bill that are the hot new fad among regressives; it got killed, fortunately. But we still got to listen to some prudish whining about safety (because transgender people are dangerous) and privacy (because peering at crotches is standard behavior in the bathroom), and lots of accusations that transgender people are the real bullies here. Watch the parade of bigots here:

They got their dreams of slapping down transgender men and women crushed, so the 35 Republican Minnesotans wrote a letter to McCrory of North Carolina telling him how much they liked him and wanted to follow his ideas.

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