A metaobservation on misogyny

I know this fact hasn’t escaped most of the regulars here, but I just thought I’d note it formally.

1) PZ posts a remembrance of the 14 women killed and 10 injured by the misogynistic murderer responsible for the École Polytechnique massacre that took place 23 years ago today, and points out that the hatred that motivated the murderer is still all too common.

2) 12 comments in, the thread becomes about whether the particular rhetorical trope PZ used to point out the continued existence of misogyny was fair to misogynists, and is no longer about remembering the massacre victims.

There was a briefly popular bon mot that went around a few months back along the lines of “Every online discussion of feminism proves the necessity of feminism.”  Add this to the pile.

In June I put together a hastily designed infographic and posted it to Facebook, where it has since gotten redistributed. It’s about the best, concisest way I can think of to convey how I feel about people one thread over complaining that PZ is being MEEEEEEN.

It’s worth noting that when I first posted it in June I spent the next couple days arguing with people quibbling — not over the facts represented, but whether I was trying to imply that being a woman in a relationship with a man was more dangerous than being a soldier. Or similar diversionary arguments. (No one objected to the design, which I sure as hell wish I’d thought through more clearly. But it’s escaped into the wild now, so oh well.)

Odd are that every one of those 11,766 women murdered — and of course that number has grown since June — was killed by someone who heard, and incorporated, anti-woman talk pretty much identical to the crap whose expression is being defended one thread down as “not the same as killing women.”

Yeah, you’re right: hate speech against individual women based on their gender isn’t the same as being a mass murderer. But it feeds those who commit the murders. And when you post online, or shoot the misogynistic shit in a bar, or complain “all in fun” among friends, they are listening to you, and deciding that you’ve got their backs.

And when you essentially march into a memorial service to complain about that fact, you’re saying the victims aren’t as important as your right to deny the consequences of your actions.

Never forget

Today is the 23rd anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.

The killer, 25-year-old Marc Lépine, was armed with a legally obtained Mini-14 rifle and a hunting knife: he had earlier told a shopkeeper he was going after "small game". Lépine had previously been denied admission to the École Polytechnique and had been upset, it later transpired, about women working in positions traditionally occupied by men. Before he opened fire, Lépine shouted: "You’re all a bunch of feminists, and I hate feminists!" One student, Nathalie Provost, protested: "I’m not feminist, I have never fought against men." Lépine shot her anyway.

The gunman then moved through the college corridors, the cafeteria, and another classroom, specifically targeting women to shoot. By the time Lépine turned the gun on himself, 14 women were dead and another 10 were injured. Four men were hurt unintentionally in the crossfire.

I remember following the events of that day intently, horrified that there are people who will kill women simply because they are women. And these anonymous monsters on the internet who shriek affrontedly about women and feminists and moan that any feminist allies are ‘manginas’ — to me, every one of them has the name Marc Lépine, and is just hiding it in shame and fear and hatred and cowardice.

Since it was mentioned in the comments, here are the names of the murdered women:

Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student
Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student
Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student
Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department
Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student
Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student
Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student
Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student

Irresponsible slacker

And he doesn’t even live in Washington state, so he can’t use dope as an excuse! Or maybe it’s a hint that after the passage of the liberal marijuana laws, he’s moving to Seattle. Sean Carroll has announced that he’s leaving his site on Discover and moving back to Preposterous Universe, so update your blogrolls. His excuse is that he’s happiest with the least personal responsibility, which I think is code for ordering a pizza and putting a Lord of the Rings marathon on the DVD player.

Which I’m down with, man. High five!

Another reason to love Washington state

They now have a law encouraging tolerance of marijuana.

Police spokesman Jonah Spangenthal-Lee wrote on the SPD Blotter that officers will be advising people to take their weed inside.

Or as Spangenthal-Lee put it: "The police department believes that, under state law, you may responsibly get baked, order some pizzas and enjoy a ‘Lord of the Rings’ marathon in the privacy of your own home, if you want to."

OMG. That sounds soooo good right now. I should fly back home for Christmas.

I am proud to be a native of Washington state

The King County Administration Building opened just after midnight last night to start issuing marriage licenses under the new marriage equality law.

“Tonight you are making history,” said Executive Constantine to the first group of couples at a special midnight ceremony. “Not only our legislators but the people of this state have said every person is entitled to equal treatment. This advances our law in the state of Washington, and brings us one step closer to that first ‘self-evident’ truth announced by our nation’s founders: That all are created equal.”

In the ceremony at the King County Recorder’s Office, the Executive administered the oath and signed the marriage licenses for 11 same-sex couples recommended by community leaders. The first license he signed was for Jane Abbott Lighty and Pete-e Petersen of West Seattle, a couple who co-founded the Seattle Women’s Chorus and who will be getting married during a Seattle Men’s Chorus concert on Dec. 9.

That was the initial announcement. It’s now up to hundreds of same-sex couples. Follow @kcnews on Twitter if you want a bit of a lift — they’re updating regularly with announcements and stats from King County.

I grew up there! And it feels good to say so!

Feminism isn’t about being a more prolific baby maker — it’s about fulfilling your potential as a human being

Oh no! Ross Douthat is dismayed because we aren’t having enough babies!

The retreat from child rearing is, at some level, a symptom of late-modern exhaustion — a decadence that first arose in the West but now haunts rich societies around the globe. It’s a spirit that privileges the present over the future, chooses stagnation over innovation, prefers what already exists over what might be. It embraces the comforts and pleasures of modernity, while shrugging off the basic sacrifices that built our civilization in the first place.

Have you ever noticed how conservatives always just look at population numbers and naively assume that bigger is better? Yet at the same time that they’re whining about needing more babies to keep ahead of the competition, they’re complaining about all those welfare queens pumping out babies (out of wedlock, no less!) while sucking at the public teat. You’d think that sometime they’d be able to bring those two misbegotten concepts together in their head and realize that maybe the problem isn’t how many babies your country has, but what you do with them. That maybe the Duggars aren’t the model for a progressive, rational, technological society that we’re looking for.

Maybe the best solution is to have fewer children but invest more in making their lives productive and happy — quality, rather than quantity.

I don’t call that decadence. People have fewer babies when they do all the things Douthat praises: they are thinking and planning for the future better, they are investing in a better life, and they are preferring a new world where women have other purposes than living as incubators and diaper-changing machines.

There’s also the economic argument, which I would have thought a Republican would love. Not having babies isn’t decadence, it’s sound and conservative fiscal planning.

I agree that this is a problem with decadence. But the decadent thing is having children, not remaining kid-free.

Last year, the Department of Agriculture estimated a middle-income couple spent $12,290 to $14,320 a year per child. More recently, the Times’ Nadia Taha published her calculations of how much it would cost her and her husband to have a child: A safer apartment. A better health-insurance plan. Lost wages. College. Total lifetime tab? $1.8 million.

How is it, again, that not having babies is the decadent choice?

But no. Instead, Douthat is playing the pious faux-feminist game.

Can it really be that having achieved so much independence and autonomy and professional success, today’s Western women have no moral interest in seeing that as many women are born into the possibility of similar opportunities tomorrow? Is the feminist revolution such a fragile thing that it requires outright population decline to fulfill its goals, and is female advancement really incompatible with the goal of a modestly above-replacement birthrate? Indeed, isn’t it just possible that a modern culture that celebrated the moral component of childrearing more fully would end up serving certain feminist ends, rather than undermining them — by making public policy more friendly to work-life balance, by putting more cultural pressure on men to be involved fathers rather than slackers and deadbeat dads, and so on?

Wait. So you’re a feminist. And according to Douthat, you’re living in something approaching the feminist utopia. So now, instead of living your ideals and maximizing the opportunities for your small set of beloved children, you should instead begin feeling your uterus quiver with desire to squirt out more babies? For some reason, I’m picturing the queen monster from Aliens with its gigantic egg-factory abdomen writhing in peristalsis as Douthat’s version of a feminist ideal. Yes, they shall spew out hordes of feminist minions who will take over the world!!!

By the way, as one of those liberals who does celebrate the moral component of childrearing, I would argue that an important component of that involves valuing individual children more, taking more time and care for each one, respecting their desires for autonomy more, and not rushing to just make more. There’s a responsibility involved in parenting, and it is not served by greater volume.

It also kind of makes me sick to see a religious conservative like Douthat trying to make an argument for something he desires, more babies, by claiming it will promote something his ilk generally oppose — liberal and progressive improvements in public policy. It’s just too dishonest.