Joe Biden See No Boundaries

Much discussed in certain circles of the internet the past month or two has been Democratic presidential nomination candidate Joe Biden’s long history of zooming past boundaries without even acknowledging that they might be there. The debate has been weirdly complicated by some people who insist that, since they themselves would have gladly consented to the touching Biden initiated with them without asking that somehow never asking is a reasonable choice on his part. “If I wanted a back rub,” their argument begins, “but other people don’t want a back rub, how in the world is Biden supposed to know who wants him to walk up behind them and rub their shoulders and who doesn’t?”

How indeed.

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That’s what I thought: Senators don’t care about sexual assault, but they might about perjury

I’ve been talking for the last few days about how I consider Kavanaugh’s likely history of sexual assault to be disqualifying, but that his perjury potentially foreshadows even greater threats to justice in SCOTUS, and also that it is more likely to cause Senators to vote against his confirmation.

Jeff Flake (R-I don’t give a shit) has now affirmed exactly that latter view on 60 Minutes when he and Chris Coons were interviewed together. From RawStory describing and quoting from the interview:

In an interview beside Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), the two men also agreed that there’s no way they’ll be comfortable confirming if Kavanaugh was found to have lied.

“Nomination’s over?” they were asked.

“I would think so,” Coons said at the close of their interview.

“Yeah,” Flake agree.

I think it’s pathetic that so many Senators think that credible allegations of rape and sexual assault should not even be investigated, but there you are. The real hope for stopping the nomination is making sure the FBI seriously investigates the accuracy of his testimony.

Don’t stop talking about the sexual assault, but the next time you call your senator, make sure you also mention Kavanaugh’s plentiful perjuries.

 

Horrible Jokes

So my best friend and I were having a conversation sparked by that most recent post of mine. We were discussing whether it was acceptable, even as a cathartic joke, to talk about burning (fictional and/or non-specific) people and scattering their ashes on the wind. We concluded that it could be acceptable in some contexts. But that brought up another joke, that was subtly different:

Q: How many men does it take to wallpaper a bedroom?

A: Only one if you slice him thin enough.

Now, my best friend is actually the same person who first told me this joke 20 years ago, so I was a bit surprised to hear her say that this joke was never acceptable. She went so far as to say she should never have told it. On the other hand, I think it’s completely unacceptable to tell such a joke for laughs in any public context you could find in Canada today – and likewise in any public context you could find in the US today – but that when she first heard it in the 1980s the context was sufficiently different that it could be (and was) acceptable in at least some contexts. Where she first heard it was during an ongoing anti-war protest. It was a women-only camp that was set up to protest and to monitor activity related to the Pershing II missiles (nuclear tipped missiles with a range that shifted during development and production, but was ultimately ~1000 miles or 1500-1800 km) designed to be deployed in Europe. Everyone at the camp being seriously committed to non-violence contributed, I believe, to the context that made the joke acceptable in the time and place originally told. It also matters (to me, anyway) that “humor” about violence against women was still not merely acceptable, but financially rewarded. this is, after all, long after “To the moon, Alice,” and still before Andrew Dice Clay would sell out venues to thousands of people eager to hear “jokes” like:

I give [women] what they want. Pull their hair, rap ’em in the head a few times, say all the little things they want to hear, like ‘Fuck, pig, howl, skank.

Emphasis added.

For me, although the discussion at the peace camp wasn’t this context, the joke would also have been acceptable when told in a way that was designed to provoke a reaction (“hey, that ain’t fair to men!”) and then to use that reaction to make society better (“But you accept that unfairness from men comedians … if you interrupt and question this joke, are you going to interrupt and question misogynist jokes?”).

Although there is certainly a wealth of sexist/misogynist humor out there, I think there’s enough of a new social context for us to leverage other arguments or employ other tactics to fight what still exists. There’s simply less need for a “slice ’em thin enough” joke to make the point. While the possibility of telling such jokes for catharsis still exists, I don’t believe that telling them publicly (including in almost any manner using the internet) is necessary for such catharsis. I think it’s good if people don’t tell such jokes for cathartic laughs in private with their best friends, but if people conduct themselves well publicly, I won’t condemn them for using humor privately for reasons such as catharsis that would not be acceptable publicly.*1

I make a distinction between this joke and the “people who make me angry” joke in the previous post because the previous post’s joke targeted “the people that inspire my rage” where “my” is a pronoun standing in for a particular, but fictional, person. Thus the targets are specific, but undefined. The targets of the wallpaper joke are non-specific, but well defined (all men). There’s much more reason and justification, then, for some individuals hearing the wallpaper joke to believe that they devalued, that they are socially or psychologically injured by the joke. Nor do I think it saves the wallpaper joke that men benefit from sexism. It’s arguable, but I think in the 1980s men’s privilege and the context of misogynist humor might very well have saved the joke. Today? No.

What do you think? If told in the comedy club nearest you (as a joke, not dissected for its social meaning and effects and morality), would the wallpaper joke be acceptable? Could it ever possibly be? Would it matter if it was a special event night (e.g. “feminist humor night” where the violence and sexual prejudice of the joke are more likely to be interpreted ironically)? What about the burning/scattering the ashes joke? Would it be acceptable at your local comedy club? Could it ever be?

Although I find the latter much more acceptable than the former, I’d love to hear any disagreement.


*1: The reason I don’t think it’s a good idea even privately is that I think it reinforces certain types of thinking, which then makes harmful actions more likely later when one reenters public space. In theory it’s possible to tell jokes that target people based on gender or race or dis/ability in private while behaving generously and without prejudice in public. In practice, I don’t think it’s possible. But since without telepathy it would be impossible to know about the private jokes and (more importantly) impossible to know exactly what role private jokes played in shaping public behavior, I’d rather focus my criticism on the unacceptable public behavior.

Happy Juneteenth

Portland has an awkward history of Pride overlapping with Juneteenth, and this year it happened again. If you had a choice of going to a Pride celebration or a Juneteenth celebration but couldn’t be a part of both, which would you attend? Why?

For me it’s a bit academic, living in Canada where Juneteenth isn’t celebrated (for obvious reasons) and Pride is on a different weekend anyway. But it’s still a chance to look at important issues of how we prioritize our lives and the causes that we value. I think right now I’d prioritize Juneteenth if for no other reason than the Canadian kids have been to lots of Prides and zero Juneteenths, but it would get harder to answer if we’d been to both the same number of times.

Want to Celebrate Rape? Don’t Do It In My Comments.

My settings require the first comment by any commenter to be approved, regardless of content. I approve most of the comments that reach me, and then folks’ comments are almost always automatically approved thereafter unless they trip the spam trap. The exceptions are rare, and so far they’ve always end up approved after I read them. Because of that, I’ve never yet needed to create a specific comment policy. Today though, in response to the Aaron Persky post, someone decided to wish rape on someone else in a comment:

guilty in a forcible rape for which he served 3 months? i devoutly hope his white ass is no longer virgin. and the judge should be deeply deeply ashamed. i wonder how he can look his daughter or grand daughters in the eye. for shame. for you too. the job is bad at his job. he needs to be fired, which in an instance like this, is a recall. bye felicia! [emphasis added – cd]

I understand the outrage. I obviously share it. Here at Pervert Justice, though, wishing rape on someone will get your comments circular-filed every single time.

 

Since Rosa Parks Wasn’t Rosa Parks, Who Was? Irene Bad-Ass Morgan, That’s Who

Over on Pharyngula, a discussion has been started about the propriety of using “accomplice” as a better word to describe the people that we have sometimes described as “allies” when discussing people that are not targeted by a specific form of oppression but nonetheless choose to work against it.

I started to write a comment over there about why I believe accomplice is appropriate, but it ended up becoming a treatise*1 about a woman named Irene Morgan*2. I decided that the thread shouldn’t be cluttered by a comment quite as long as I was writing, but that Morgan deserved better than cutting that treatise short. So I’ve moved it to Pervert Justice as a post for your reading pleasure.

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Competing Interests

I swear, I find it amazing that they even half know what they’re saying, but they do. They know exactly what they’re saying, and for some bizarre reason they think it speaks well of them and their religion.

Who am I babbling about, you wonder? After all, that statement might be true of any number of persons, maybe even all of us at different points in time. So who, given the human ability to spout nonsense with confidence, might have done so to such a degree that Crip Dyke would be moved to post? Shocker: it isn’t anyone from the Trump administration.

This time.

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Jeffrey Lord, Sacked: AKA Correcting Someone’s Spelling Is Genocide

For those who don’t know, CNN has terminated their contract with commentator Jeffrey Lord. CNN itself describes the termination as directly in response to Lord tweeting “Sieg Heil” at a progressive who asked that Lord’s recent American Spectator article mentioning him be revised to spell his name correctly.

Media Matters, not a disinterested party (though neither is CNN) described the run-up to the tweet this way:

On August 10, the American Spectator published an attack piece by Jeffrey Lord against Media Matters. The screed lashed out at what Lord describes as “Media Matters Fascists.” Lord then tweeted the article to Media Matters President Angelo Carusone. When Carusone pointed out that his name was misspelled in the headline of the piece, Lord responded with the Nazi salute “Sieg Heil!”

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