British Feminism: I Want ma Nanny and ma Cleaner!!!!

The state of British mainstream feminism has long been abysmal. All the major players seem to be massive transphobes, there’s court cases about people’s desire to abuse trans people and overall it has the feeling that they’re actually just in favour of them not being bothered by anything than a movement for women from all backgrounds and histories. And never was that White Feminist Approach demonstrated better than this week, when Owen Jones gently suggested that if you have a cleaner, you should pay them to stay at home, because the UK is only second to the US when it comes to Covid 19, with packed public transport posing a major risk for commuters. In case you don’t know who he is, Owen Jones is a British labour activist, a gay dude (this will be important later), a journalist, an antifascist and if that wasn’t bad enough, his major crime is being an ally to trans people. This turned into a furious row on Twitter with the who is who of White British Feminism* descending on him like it was judgement day with at least two published articles to follow.

Twitter screenshot

 

Owen Jones: Declaring something simple doesn’t make it so: if someone can afford a cleaner, they should be paying them to stay at home and doing their own cleaning – they ‘ve certainly got the time to do it, otherwise they are a shockingly selfish human being.

Sarah Ditum: I don’t have more time in lockdown, I have less because I’m sharing my workspace with two teens and and another adult. There’s more dirt, because of the more people [sic]. the cleaning is killing me and this is a bad take.

 

Now, if Ditum had stopped after the first sentence she might have had a point: Corona parents are terribly stressed out because suddenly you’re a teacher for different age groups, have to cook all the meals the family would usually have at school/work and all of that while doing your job in home office. And there are good and valuable conversations about care work and the roll back on gender roles right now. Sarah isn’t part of them. Presumably exhaustion from cleaning. I don’t want to sound like supermummy, but I have two kids and a job as well and my husband is away during the week and so far cleaning hasn’t killed me. Mostly because I ignore it. It’s ok, I chose the flooring with having “how well does it hide dirt” in mind (very well).

Owen suggests that she might actually do something about the division of care work in her home:

Owen Jones: Get your teenagers to clean – we operated a rota system growing up to distribute daily household chores – and don’t force mostly low paid women to risk their health or even lives because that’s extremely selfish behaviour?

Sarah Ditum: Get my teenagers to clean? Declaring something simple doesn’t make it so

Remember, this is somebody who regularly claims that parents are making their children trans because, well, who knows. And hey, I kind of agree, making my teen do her chores certainly doesn’t have a fun tax added, but I’m in the business of raising competent adults who can look after themselves so yes, she still has to empty the dishwasher. We have a sort of clock with their pics on it. Occasionally my husband threatens to take the laundry that hasn’t been put away back to his place and he only washes whatever is in the hamper. But not Sarah Ditum’s poor children (what happened to the husband?)! I think I met a couple of Sarahs in parent teacher talks.

Me: Your son doesn’t do his tasks, only does what he wants and gets very angry when he’s reprimanded.

Mother: He’s never like this at home!

Me: What chores does he have to do at home?

Mother: Chores? My son doesn’t have to do any chores!

If that wasn’t bad enough, her pal Janice Turner chimes in:

 

Twitter screenshot

Owen Jones: I have a twin sister and two elder brothers: we were all expected to do housework from the age of 11, using a daily rota system dividing up chores. I don’t understand why teenagers cannot be expected to do this?

Sounds sensible, doesn’t it? It’s not like those “we used to hop 15 miles through the snow on one foot” pieces of commentary, just a simple memory from a not too long ago childhood. You’re a family, you stick together, you live together, you take responsibility. Apparently for Janice Turner, mother to two teenage sons and supposedly married to a full grown ass man suggesting that your teens do chores is misogyny:

Janice Turner: Free online parenting and household management classes from a childless mansplainer. Mothers thank you for your service, Owen.

Now, apart from the homophobic dog whistle about a “childless man”, mothers are invoked. Welcome to the cult of true motherhood, as evidenced in the next tweet.

Janice Turner: Be great if Owen addressed the reason most families have cleaners. Not lazy bitches “with time on their hands” or crap mothers who won’t draw up rotas for teenage kids. But men. Men don’t do their share. Instead of hating on women tell the dude to pick up a fucking mop.

You mean like Mr. Ditum and Mr. Turner? Because both women are married to afaict able bodied men who are perfectly capable of picking up a fucking mop, as are their teenagers, three of them being of the male persuasion. When are they supposed to learn how to pick up a mop? But as I said, that’s work. Getting a teenager to do something is no task for the lilly-livered, I can tell you, nor is it to have those complicated conversations about the division of housework with your male partner. Turner’s solution: Make another woman come in and do it. That’s how your teenage sons learn responsibility and equality. Because according to her, most families have cleaners. Probably even her cleaner. While she is cleaning other people’s houses, somebody else is cleaning hers. Actually it’s just a big fucking pyramid scheme where we pass around the same 100 bucks to pay each other to clean our houses. This goes well past “middle class privilege” and takes it well into “colonial times erasure of all women who are not part of the ruling class” territory.  It reminds me of the heroines of Jane Austen novels (I love Jane Austen novels): they struggle with financial hardship and consider themselves poor because they can only employ two or three servants.

Caroline Criado Perez, another UK feminist (her dad was the CEO of Safeway, if you need to guess her economic background), teetering on the brink of an epiphany:

Twitter screenshot

Right, where’s the Mr Ditum, Mr Ditum junior, Mr Turner, Mr Turner junior and Mr Turner junior shaped gap in the analysis?

You’d think it couldn’t get any worse, would you? I’m sorry…

Twitter screenshot

Again, Owen Jones agrees: men should pick up the tab instead of making other women risk their lives. Reasonable, or????

Owen Jones: Men should be shamed into doing their fair share of housework: couldn’t agree more.

But forcing largely low paid women, who also have to juggle their low paid work with unpaid household labour –  to risk the health and lives of themselves and their families is disgraceful.

Janice Turner: No one is “forcing” them. People are making arrangementsso their cleaners are safe, providing gloves, anti-bac and staying out of the house whilst they are there. Believe it or not[,] many people, even cleaners, actually want to return to work. It makes them feel useful and normal.

I’m sorry if your jaw is hurting from the impact with the floor, but I did kinda warn you. Remember these people are also huge SWERFS (Sex Work Excluding (Radical) Feminists) who claim that all sex workers are forced into sex work and in need of rescue. When it’s their carpets, suddenly economic force is no longer a thing. Also, Janice, antibacterial shit isn’t any good when talking about a virus. But that’s just the running up to the “Arbeit macht frei” finale at the end of the tweet. Didn’t you know, people who employ cleaners aren’t exploiting usually racialised labour. No, they’re actually doing those women a favour because what sense of worth would they have without the approval of a white woman who keeps mispronouncing their name?

Also, you’re not staying out of the house for the benefit of the cleaner, you’re doing it because that person just had to commute to your place which potentially exposed them to Covid 19.

But we’re still missing some players. Here I present Julie Bindel with an especially interesting take:

Twitter screenshot

Julie Bindel: I can only assume that abny male socialist giving instructions to women about the ethics of having a cleaner chooses not to consume pornography. After all, the women abused in the porn trade have their exploited ‘labour’ to the most extreme degree. [sic]

 

Julie Bindel is a political lesbian, aka somebody who is not actually that much into women but just not into men, who claims that bisexuality is a fake hobby for straight women, and who is here accusing a gay man of exploiting women in the production of porn he may or may not watch. It can’t get any more bizarre than this. Maybe it’s her own apparently confused ideas about sexual orientation that are showing. Does she think that gay men are actually political homosexuals because while they actually fancy women they just don’t want to have any kind of relationship with them because they’re secretly all MGTOW misogynists?

I’ve taken you on quite ride, and it should have a worthy finale, so here it is:

Twitter screenshot

 

Sarah Ditum: Yep that would be a good way to deal with this, if I had a cleaner. But I don’t, I’m just knackered and deeply irritated by Owen’s presumption that everyone has a bunch of free time at the moment

Plot twist: Sarah Ditum doesn’t have a cleaner, but she is willing to lay down the lives of other people’s cleaners for your right to a clean kitchen. But she has since gone on (presumably well paid) record stating that she will get one as soon as she can, because she really doesn’t want to negotiate housework with her household, who are simultaneously grown ass adults and teenagers and who still leave peanutbutter smudges on door handles like toddlers. But instead of calling that piggy back, she’d rather yell at some other woman to clean up that mess.

 

*There are decent British feminists worth that name, somehow they don’t seem to get that many columns and newspaper slots…

 

 

** The author of this text has written it while repeatedly helping her kid with her homework, doing a WhatsApp English class and making the kid empty the dishwasher. Don’t you fucking dare to accuse me of not knowing how busy these times are.

YouTube Video: I Was the Fastest Girl in America, Until I Joined Nike

I have a hate-hate relationship with all professional sports*, especially with zero-sum competitions. Apparently even that IMO shitty environment can be made even shittier for women by men who have no clue but wield a lot of power.

This video spoke to me for some reason.

*In short, they are unhealthy and they more often than not foster self-harm, tribalism, and abuse.

Creeped Out: the Price of Being a Woman in Public

Yesterday was Pokémon Go Community Day. For those of you who don’t play the game, that’s a day when  a specific Pokémon appears a lot during a three hour period, often in a special colour as well and with an exclusive attack. In short, a day when we meet our friends and spend the day together, catching Pokémon and then having good food and fun together. I went with them for part of the time (I was out for a full two hours, I’m so happy and proud) and quite at the start, the following happened:

I was standing there with my two phones (yes, completely normal for Pokémon players as well), when some random dude approached me:

“Young lady, you’re pretty backwards, even I am more advanced in my usage than you!”

Now, first of all, no strange man in such a situation calls a 40 years old woman “young lady” as a compliment. He was berating me and trying to remind me of my place. Second: I have no clue what he was even getting at. He had obviously no clue what I was doing, but of course thought that he was entitled to explain it to me. I looked up from my phones:

“Excuse me?”

He continued:

“Yes, you gotta tell your phone what to do don’t you know…”

At this point I gasp interrupted him:

“Could you please leave me alone?”

Of course he reacted like any old white guy reacts when being told to leave a woman alone, he started to rant:

“I’m entitled to have an opinion! Am I no longer entitled to have an opinion or what?”

I answered that yes, he’s entitled to have an opinion, he’s just not entitled to my company, so he needs to leave me alone. He repeated something about this being a free country and so on and grumbling left me alone. This happened because now my friends and family, who’d been standing all over the place catching their own Pokémon had by now gathered around me to support me. We’re all pretty sure that this would have gone very differently if I’d been on my own.

I’m pretty sure all women here have had similar experiences. Such harassment has nothing to do with “looks” since I’m a fat middle aged lady. It has nothing to do with “being helpful”, because I obviously didn’t need or want any help. It’s got to do with male entitlement to the public sphere, where women are only allowed on condition of putting up with such shit. And it also shows how this entitlement is framed in terms of human rights and especially the ever favourite “freedom of speech”. That guy thought it was his right to keep bothering and lecturing me, while me telling him to get lost was akin to China mowing down protestors with tanks or something.

The Woman with Lapislazuli in her Teeth

I’ve had this tab open for ages because I really wanted to share this story with you, which is cool and sad atb the same time, as it shows how modern notions of society have clouded the vision on the past.

What Anita Radini noticed under the microscope was the blue—a brilliant blue that seemed so unnatural, so out of place in the 1,000-year-old dental tartar she was gently dissolving in weak acid.

It was ultramarine, she would later learn, a pigment that a millennium ago could only have come from lapis lazuli originating in a single region of Afghanistan. This blue was once worth its weight in gold. It was used, most notably, to give the Virgin Mary’s robes their striking color in centuries of artwork. And the teeth that were embedded with this blue likely belonged to a scribe or painter of medieval manuscripts.

Who was that person? A woman, first of all. According to radiocarbon dating, she lived around 997 to 1162, and she was buried at a women’s monastery in Dalheim, Germany. And so these embedded blue particles in her teeth illuminate a forgotten history of medieval manuscripts: Not just monks made them. In the medieval ages, nuns also produced the famously laborious and beautiful books. And some of these women must have been very good, if they were using pigment as precious and rare as ultramarine.

Read the whole story here.

Racialization of Muslims

In the light of the Christchurch terrorist attack, I think it is appropriate to try to put to rest, on this blog at least, the “Islam is not a race” argument so often thrown around in atheist circles. I admit to making this clueless blunder in the past as well, and really meaning it. But when arguing with actual unapologetic racists I had to point out some realities to them – like that Roma people are not in fact different race from Europeans, because we both stem from common and fairly recent Indo-European stock. And like that Arabs and Jews are also not different races from each other – and are not a different race from Europeans for the same reasons as Roma people are. That has made me to realize that racism is not, at least not only, what I thought it is, and that islamophobia is a real thing, alhtough the word itself can be used disingenuously (like any other word).

When I see a hijab (or a cross or any other overt religious symbol), I see a person being shackled by the throes of superstition, but still a person no fundamentaly different from you or I. But when a racist sees a hijab, they also do see an “other” in a very fundamental sense. Because to them race is not actually about biology (because biology does not support any form of racism) but about politics of power that merely uses biology and science in general to construct post hoc and ad hoc arguments for holding onto or acquiring said political power.

For the rest of the argument I give word to Philosophy Tube, who has made two excellent videos explaining the process of racialization of human groups and the whats, why’s and how’s behind it.

International Women’s Day

March 8 is International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is #BalanceforBetter.

A balanced world is a better world. How can you help forge a more gender-balanced world?
Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.

There are events worldwide to celebrate the day and I encourage you to check the site International Women’s Day to see what’s happening in your area. They have a search feature by country and city so plug-in and see what’s up. The site also has a wealth of resources and they’re hosting an international photo competition.

The world is still a dangerous place for women and there is much work to be done before that will change. International Women’s Day is a chance for us all to stand up and say we want a better world; a world where women are paid on parity with men, where access to birth control and abortion services are freely available, where rape is regarded as violent assault and no woman ever is accused of “asking for it.” Every woman I know has a story of inequality or harassment or worse. Let’s change that so that the stories of the next generation reflect a world where people are judged by the content of their character, not the content of their underpants.

Sex, Torture and the Nazis

Well, if you came here for sex, or torture, or Nazis, I am not sorry to disappoint you. I just stole that title from the CBC article featured in this post.

Instead, I want to talk about Norm Eastman. For someone whose art was so ubiquitous, there is surprisingly little information to find – some sources even label him an American artist. He is, however, Canadian – the CBC story is fairly short, but it provides interesting insight into an artist whose art is simultaneously recognizable and somehow obscure. I think part of this obscurity is due to the perceived anonymity of many cover artists, especially those working in pulp fiction (that is, not ‘literature’, according to… someone). Well, perhaps with time, notoriety – or at least, recognition – eventually follows:

Few people would have guessed that shy, unassuming Norm Eastman — born in St. Stephen [New Brunswick] and trained at Mount Allison University — was one of the top illustrators fuelling the fantasies of a generation of young men.

“We used to hide those illustrations under the bed or in the closet,” said Jane Eastman, Norm’s wife of 27 years.

“He thought it was funny. Norm probably was the most moral person I’ve ever known, he really was. It was a matter of being able to afford a loaf of bread and peanut butter to eat.”

Times sure do change. In 2019, original Norman Eastman illustrations can sell to collectors for as much as $15,000.

But how Eastman’s bodice-ripping illustrations made it from small-town New Brunswick into the hands of millions of readers is a story that remains, for the most part, untold.

Pause here, because I would like to point out that Eastman was certainly talented – I particularly like this one, one of his early self-portraits:

Portrait of the artist as a young man: a self-portrait in oils Norm Eastman painted in 1952 as his final project in the fine arts program at Mount Allison University. (Submitted by Owens Art Gallery ) From the CBC link.

I like his feel for light and shadow, all those detailed accents and reflections. His style here reminds me of someone well-known, but I can’t for the life of me say who. Anyway, moving on:

In 1958, Eastman brought his portfolio to the iconic U.S. artist Norman Rockwell, who said Eastman’s art was “of very high quality” and encouraged him to move to the United States.

Eastman took Rockwell’s advice — and in 1959 moved to New York City, where he rented a studio in an badly heated, roach-infested warehouse. Breaking into the publishing scene was slow going.

“He was very poor in New York,” his wife said. “It was really, really poor living.”

He got his first big break drawing for men’s magazines — but the subject matter was fairly predictable.

“They wanted beautiful girls, big bosoms and torture,” Jane said. “But never show the girl grimacing. She’s always got to be pretty.”

That last line there. How tenacious these ideas can be.

[Read more…]

When you don’t have enough hands or faces to palm.

American politics have a serious side effect of headaches from shaking them or facepalming constantly over here in continental Europe (made worse by the weeping over the Brits), but sometimes it’s just bizarre.

Have you heard about that big scandal involving Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

Well, hold on fast, because these revelations will break your heart. When she was a teenager, she danced and had friends.

Here is America’s favorite commie know-it-all acting like the clueless nitwit she is…
…High School video of “Sandy” Ocasio-Cortez @AoDespair

And then there’s Elizabeth Warren. Did you know what she did? She drank beer on Instagram!

I hope I have now thoroughly ruined your new year with these groundbreaking revelations of human women doing normal human things.

 

Maybe he should have grabbed her by the pussy instead?

By now you have probably heard of The Incident. Depending on whether you’re a decent human being or a Republican, the actual incident is that the White House tried to forcefully remove the mic of a journalist because they didn’t like what he said and then banned him from the White House, or the real incident is Jim Acosta “laying his hands” on a young intern (who is, by pure coincidence female, white, young and pretty).

Sarah Sanders has tweeted about it several times, stressing the “disrespect” towards the “young woman” and “young women” working in the administration, mimicking feminist language and concerns for the treatment of (young) (professional) women at the hands of older men.

She also shared a clip showing him making a “chopping motion” towards her arm. Only that the video came straight from Infowars (and we all know how much those people care about women) and has a few curious differences to the original:

The intern’s reach for the mic is slowed down, and the “chop” motion is accelerated. Here’s an annotated side by side comparison:

Further analysis: video is absolutely doctored. You can see the edit when the clips are side by side and slowed down to quarter speed. See for yourself:

 The dishonesty of the Trump Administration knows no limits, as shown again, but let me make one thing clear: Even if Acosta had made a “chopping motion” he wouldn’t be the one who’s wrong here. He was talking, she tried to physically remove the mic, very eager to please her betters. She was the one making aggressive moves towards him. And also: fuck you, white women who sell out on basically everybody to lick spittle and get the rewards of being the chill girls of the Trump Administration. You work hard to remove women’s* right to their own bodies. You work double time to disenfranchise black women. You work extra time to rip babies out of their mothers’ arms and lock them in cages. And you all work for a man who is proud of sexually assaulting women. You don’t get to talk about respectful treatment of women.
*and others capable of gestation.

Women’s Suffrage Mapped.

Click for full size.

Click for full size. Map created by Cuba Holidays.

The map above shows when women got the right to vote in each country around the world.

2018 marks the centenary of Women’s suffrage in the UK and even then only with several restrictions (had to be over the age of 30 and meet property qualifications).

You can read much more (with links) at Brilliant Maps: Women’s Suffrage Mapped: The Year Women Got The Vote By Country.

Tennessee Republicans: War on Women.

Rep. Bill Dunn (AP/Getty/Photo Montage by Salon).

Rep. Bill Dunn (AP/Getty/Photo Montage by Salon).

Tennessee rethugs have come up with a new way to shame and oppress women, forcibly reminding all women that their only function in life is to be a silent vessel for babies.

Last week, the Republican-controlled Tennessee state Senate passed a bill to erect the “Tennessee Monument to Unborn Children, In Memory of the Victims of Abortion: Babies, Women, and Men” on the capitol grounds, near memorials to victims of slavery and the Holocaust. A similar bill has passed the state house, and it’s likely that the state’s Republican governor, Bill Haslam, will sign this legislation into law.

[…]

“Both of these monuments that are already here recognize that atrocities occurred because human beings were treated as less than human,” state Rep. Bill Dunn (R) said in March. “In both cases, the vulnerable and defenseless were subjected to the will of the powerful.”

“The taking of the life of a baby in the womb is related to this brand of inhumanity,” Dunn added.

[…]

It’s critical to understand that the intended “memorial” does not memorialize any actual people. Babies are not harmed by abortion, because babies only exist after a pregnancy is completed. Men are not victimized by abortion, because men do not have any rights over women’s bodies that can be violated. And women are not victims of abortion either, since it’s a process they choose for themselves and one that research suggests is generally the right decision for those who make it.

Tennessee Republicans are doing more than insulting women. They’re minimizing the seriousness of slavery and the Holocaust by suggesting that the millions of real victims of these atrocities are no more important than the imaginary victims of abortion.

The timing of this memorial to fake victims is noteworthy. This is all happening during an ongoing war over memorials to the Confederacy and the Ku Klux Klan, which Tennessee progressives have been trying to take down and Tennessee Republicans are trying to preserve.

There isn’t the least bit of subtlety in this latest move to stomp women back into their “proper place”. It’s disgusting and beyond wrong, and this is what conservatives, especially christian conservatives have come to, a complete caricature of lunatics running the asylum. In the year 2018, women are still viewed and treated as property, public and private, as well as mental simpletons who couldn’t possibly make decisions for themselves. This is the viewpoint of the regressive lunkheads in Tennessee, who will use any means to make sure women know they are property, and that it’s best left to men to decide what’s best for any given woman.

Amanda Marcotte at Salon has the full story.

Abstinence Only. Again.

Attribution: PittNews/CC.

Attribution: PittNews/CC.

Several years ago, David Wiley, a professor of health education at Texas State University, was discussing human papillomavirus in one of his classes. The virus, known as HPV, is the most common sexually-transmitted disease. Often it is harmless and infected individuals aren’t even aware they have it. But it can also cause cancer, including of the cervix.

Wiley was discussing all of this with his students — the different types of HPV, the connection between HPV and cervical cancer, and its prevalence; “you know, just an intro, lower-level course,” he recently recalled — when a male student raised his hand with an earnest question: What was his risk of contracting cervical cancer?

“And I don’t know what’s sadder,” Wiley told The Intercept, “that he asked that question or that really nobody in the classroom even laughed because they didn’t know either.”

[…]

The federal government began funding so-called Abstinence-Only Until Marriage programs in 1981 as a way to encourage “chastity” and “self-discipline.” Since then, the feds have poured more than $2 billion into this strategy — commonly known as “ab-only” — without any proven positive effects, like delaying sexual activity or avoiding unintended pregnancy. In recent years, that funding had been in decline, in part because research — and practical experiences like Wiley’s — shows that the programs do not work. But in an ironic twist, they’re now making a comeback. Trump, an alleged serial adulterer who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and has been accused of such behavior close to two dozen times, has asked that abstinence funding be increased. And in the budget deal he signed last month, he got his wish, enough to bring total spending on abstinence up to $100 million for 2018.

[…]

Under Obama, funding for ab-only programs decreased as new emphasis was placed on using science to develop evidence-based sexuality and reproductive education strategies. But the Trump administration is trying to reverse course. Along with the return to Bush-era funding levels to push the ab-only message, Trump has appointed anti-abortion, anti-birth control, and pro-ab-only advocates to positions within the Department of Health and Human Services and has yanked funding for a successful evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention strategy.

[…]

Among the biggest proponents of ab-only programs — and their rebranding — is Valerie Huber, a Trump appointee to HHS. Huber started her career promoting ab-only programs in her son’s school before moving on to manage the ab-only program at the Ohio Department of Health. She became the president of the National Abstinence Education Association in 2007. (The advocacy organization has also rebranded itself. It’s now known as Ascend.) Huber acknowledges that the term “sexual-risk avoidance” was taken from public health, but insists it was appropriately chosen. “I bristle at the terminology ‘abstinence only,’ because our programs are so holistic,” she told Focus on the Family’s magazine “Citizen,” and address “a whole battery of different topics that surround a young person’s decision whether to have sex or not.”

This is, of course, exceedingly bad news. If you’re a parent who prefers their child to be prepared and safe, best to tackle comprehensive sex-ed at home, or an outside of school class. This will affect some states much more than others, so it’s important to find out just what the sex-ed in your child’s school is like. Ab-only also cuts out all queer students, and teaches girls that being assaulted or raped is their fault, emphasising dress and behaviour.

The Intercept has an in-depth article about this mess, recommended reading.  As the Tiny Tyrant has a vested interest in giving the lunatic evangelicals whatever they want, and they want a whole lot, you might want to have a click over to Religious Dispatches to read about Project Blitz. That’s enough to scare anyone silly.