Guest post: In a way ordinary empathetic identification doesn’t explain

Guest post by Josh Spokes.

I have some thoughts on femininity, women, and my relationship to these as a gay man. For months I’ve stewed on this topic wondering how to express it. This may or may not be an elegant exposition. It’s also full of “I” statements, which is tedious and unfortunate. I know no other way to make it clear my subject is my own impressions, not generalizing statements about what other people ought to do or be motivated by.


1. As a man I’m never going to grok what it is to live as a woman. Please know that nothing I write is meant to suggest or imply that.

2. This is not a cookie-seeking project; I’m not going for Best Man Feminist merit badges.

Violence against and denigration of women has always been viscerally emotional for me. It affects me in nearly the same way that my horror of homophobia and anti-gay violence does. Misogyny so upsets me that I worry I sometimes look like that guy who’s SUPER INTO FEMINISM in a way that’s annoying or invites skepticism. [Read more…]


And this is part of the unsavory mix:


Emery Emery @emeryemeryii May 20
Excited that @michaelshermer has been added to the #TAM2015 lineup. Never give in to unsubstantiated slander.

“Never give in to unsubstantiated slander” here must mean ignore multiple accounts by women of various forms of skeevy behavior, including non-consensual sex. It must mean ignore corroboration by witnesses. It must mean ignore what James Randi said himself. It must mean ignore all of that as “unsubstantiated,” in order to include the subject of all those accounts. Ignore what all those women say, because they don’t count; only the Important Thought-Leader Men count.

The old boys-will-be-boys canard

In Duggar-world, girls and women “tempt” men and boys, and “defraud” them with their sexual allure. In the real world…girls and women “tempt” men and boys, because they’re sluts and boys just wanna have fun.

Amanda Marcotte has the story.

20 middle and high school aged boys have been accused of participating in an electronic “trading card” ring involving nude photos of female students. Reading the coverage of it, it becomes immediately clear how these boys got their overblown sense of entitlement: Their parents and community have rushed forward to support the boys for their invasion of privacy —and have demanded, instead, that the girls be criminalized for being such alluring little temptresses. [Read more…]

“I’ve just heard that he misbehaved himself with the women”

What was it that James Randi said about Michael Shermer? Oh yes…

Shermer’s reputation really does precede him, and it predates the recent wave of attention given to sex crimes and sexual harassment. I reached the movement’s grand old man, 86-year-old James Randi, by telephone, at his house in Florida. Randi is no longer involved in his foundation’s daily operations, but he remains its chair, and he is a legend of the movement, famously not fooled by anybody. He seems not to be naïve about Shermer — although he’s not so troubled by him, either.

“Shermer has been a bad boy on occasion — I do know that,” Randi told me. “I have told him that if I get many more complaints from people I have reason to believe, that I am going to have to limit his attendance at the conference.

“His reply,” Randi continued, “is he had a bit too much to drink and he doesn’t remember. I don’t know — I’ve never been drunk in my life. It’s an unfortunate thing … I haven’t seen him doing that. But I get the word from people in the organization that he has to be under better control. If he had gotten violent, I’d have him out of there immediately. I’ve just heard that he misbehaved himself with the women, which I guess is what men do when they are drunk.”

Shermer has just been added to the lineup at this year’s TAM.

I have friends who bought non-refundable plane tickets and booked hotel rooms on the understanding that Shermer was not on the roster at this year’s TAM. They are not happy.

But hey, no biggy. He never got violent.

Mansplaining: The Statue

No doubt you’ve all seen this by now –

Cathy de la Cruz ‏@SadDiego
A friend spotted this in Texas: #Mansplaining The Statue.

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But look closely if you haven’t already. It’s not just that he’s looming, it’s not just that he has her pinned, it’s not just that he’s talking and she’s gazing upward wondering why he won’t stop – it’s that she’s radically out of proportion to him. She’s from another species, or rather, a different set of dolls. You know how when you were a kid you had dolls that were different sizes? And sometimes when you wanted to have a large cast you would make them interact despite the size disparity? It’s like that. She is weirdly, grotesquely smaller than he is.

Never mind. I’m sure their children will be fine.

No accident

More on that how we got here subject. From last month, Emily Badger on how Baltimore got to be the way it is. It wasn’t accidental; it wasn’t just people making choices in accordance with good libertarian principle; it was systematic and deliberate and done by one set of people to another set of people who had less power.

Just a few years ago, Wells Fargo agreed to pay millions of dollars to Baltimore and its residents to settle a landmark lawsuit brought by the city claiming the bank unfairly steered minorities who wanted to own homes into subprime mortgages. Before that, there was the crack epidemic of the 1990s and the rise of mass incarceration and the decline of good industrial jobs in the 1980s.

And before that? From 1951 to 1971, 80 to 90 percent of the 25,000 families displaced in Baltimore to build new highways, schools and housing projects were black. Their neighborhoods, already disinvested and deemed dispensable, were sliced into pieces, the parks where their children played bulldozed.

And before that — now if we go way back — there was redlining, the earlier corollary to subprime lending in which banks refused to lend at all in neighborhoods that federally backed officials had identified as having “undesirable racial concentrations.”

[Read more…]

Laws such as those on blasphemy, obscenity and sedition

India has been suppressing free speech since Modi was elected.

Human rights activists have called on India to reform or repeal laws that threaten free expression in the world’s largest democracy and muzzle charities such as environmental group Greenpeace.

Some laws are not only silencing marginal voices but are also fuelling graft, a report by PEN International, a London-based group of writers promoting freedom of speech, and the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto said.

Win-win – shut down weirdos and make sure the money keeps flowing.

Other laws in India such as those on blasphemy, obscenity and sedition have allowed groups or individuals to silence one another, said the report.

For example, Aseem Trivedi, a prominent anti-corruption campaigner, was arrested in Mumbai in 2012 under sedition laws after a complaint was lodged against him for publishing a series of cartoons that satirised India’s national symbols.

Remember the attack on Wendy Doniger’s book? India doesn’t have a great record on this.

In a country where it is highly dangerous to criticise Islam

From Reporters Without Borders:

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) supports the launch of the online cartoon magazine Black and White: Strokes of Resistance (B&W) by the Indian cartoonist Aseem Trivedi and hails his campaign for the release of the jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, which is highlighted in the first issue.

In January this year, Trivedi announced he planned to launch a magazine of cartoons in tribute to Charlie Hebdo. His first campaign is in support of Badawi…

What a good project.

Trivedi is waging his fight for freedom of expression and information in a country where it is highly dangerous to criticise Islam. The subject of religion remains sensitive for journalists and bloggers.Some religious groups come out with threats and aggressive condemnations, which their members then attempt to carry out arbitrarily while the authorities turn a blind eye.

[Read more…]

Senior catholic figures have gathered to discuss family issues

Another cardinal shares his wisdom with us.

A leading Vatican cardinal has given an interview in which he says parents should not allow their children to have contact with gay people who engage in ‘wrong, evil’ and ‘intrinsically disordered’ relationships.

This is how religion fucks people up. They obsess over completely wrong, empty, arbitrary, meaningless categories of “wrong” while ignoring or protecting or promoting actual harms. There just isn’t anything “wrong” or “evil” or “intrinsically disordered” about same-sex relationships. There just isn’t. There never has been. It’s a made-up thing.

Also? I know I’ve said this a million times – but the cardinal is a high-up in an organization that has been protecting people who rape children for many decades – probably its entire history, in fact. [Read more…]