Ladies and jerks

An internet age ago (Timeliness is a lot to ask of me—my lunch breaks are only so long!) Senator Arlen Specter said this to Representative Michelle Bachmann when the two were talking over each other during a radio interview:

Now wait a minute! Don’t interrupt me, I didn’t interrupt you. Act like a lady.

Yeah, gross, obviously. And over at Broadsheet, Tracy Clark-Flory makes this perfectly valid point:

Many women interpret “act like a lady” to mean “know your place, little girl.” This comes from spending a lifetime being instructed in various ways to sit back politely, speak up only when called upon and defer to the male ego.

But “act like a lady” is more pernicious than that. It sets up a dichotomy between the “right way” and “wrong ways” to be a woman. The concept is ridiculous on its face—all women are real women—and it’s intensely limiting and therefore misogynist without further elaboration, but all that much more so when you realize there’s no similar proscription for men—”Act like a gentleman” is only ever said to toddler boys being told to let a girl go ahead of them on the slide. Good men are… well, they’re just called “good men,” but almost never gentlemen. Bad men are assholes, jerks, bastards, and lowlifes, but never not men. No one ever tells them they’re doing manhood wrong; no one ever threatens to revoke the status of “gentleman” from a man who annoys them.

And that’s exactly what this is: a threat. Ladies are treated as nearly human, and ladies are afforded special protection from all those dirtbags, creeps, cads, and sons-of-bitches out there, as well as from swearing, raised voices, and the burdens of intellectual endeavor. All those not-ladies? Those women? Well, without a man to protect them, without the deference accorded to ladies, they’re vulnerable to all kinds of repellent exploitations, and no man would sully his reputation by being seen to intercede with a reprobate, malefactor, thug, or weasel on behalf of some dirty, amoral, impertinent bitch.

Specter is threatening to revoke Bachmann’s status as a lady, leaving her open to attack—from him and from others—with the strong implication that she will deserve whatever she gets. And I’m not just talking about having her political views mocked in the press. Ladyhood is set up as a status vital to the survival of women, that is granted, very rarely, by men of power, and can be revoked by any man for any reason at any time.

To tell a woman to act like a lady is not merely patronizing and dismissive, it is an overt reminder of women’s lower status in society and the fact that women require men’s assent to achieve anything and for men to behave in a “gentlemanly” manner at all times to avoid everything from social rejection to physical violence.


Roundup: Reasons my mood matches the weather

For those not in Boston, the description that suits both is “foul.”

  • This tidbit on the front page of the Boston Globe‘s website:
  • Cuts reached, Times does not foresee closing Globe
    With the 23 percent pay cut imposed on members of the Boston Newspaper Guild, the paper’s owner, the New York Times Co., said today it has achieved the savings it needs and doesn’t foresee shutting down the paper.

    Now, of course I’m happy that the Globe won’t be closing. But I was never really afraid that it would be closing, because this same little melodrama plays out every year or two. Each time, the Times Co. tell the unions that if they don’t make big sacrifices, the paper will shut down and everyone will lose their jobs. And yet even though the company almost never gets the full amount of concessions it was asking for, the paper miraculously continues to publish! Why, it’s almost as if the parent company were exaggerating the paper’s financial distress in order to cheat employees and weaken the unions! But that can’t be, because corporations are fundamentally ethical and have come to recognize the important role unions play in today’s business world.

  • Dr. Tiller’s clinic is closing permanently. It’s hardly surprising, as there are few people trained to do the procedures Dr. Tiller performed, and, thanks to terrorists like Scott Roeder, fewer still willing to perform them, but part of me was hoping that something amazing would happen to allow the clinic to carry on its vital mission. But in real life, terrorists often win.
  • This dude’s “My Brief Life as a Woman” article. He was prescribed Lupron, which suppresses sex hormones, as part of his treatment for prostate cancer and discovered that the drug induced in him a state similar to menopause. From this he “confirm[ed] my lifelong sense that the world of women is hormonal and mysterious,” including such difficulties as uncontrollable food cravings and weeping jags brought on by nothing in particular. It’s not worth going into any depth about this, but let me briefly enumerate the assumptions required to make this article possible:
    1. His problems were all caused by hormone fluctuations, none from the side effects of Lupron itself, even though I hear it’s a pretty powerful drug.
    2. The symptoms produced by testosterone withdrawal in men in no way vary from those produced by estrogen withdrawal (menopause) in women.
    3. Menopause, far from being a relatively brief transitional phase between two much longer, more stable phases in a woman’s life, is pretty much the state of all women, all the time.
    4. Despite being in a constant state of hormonal change (…is that even possible?) for decades on end, women have developed no strategies for coping with the effects of these fluctuations and are completely at their mercy.
    5. Men experience no hormone fluctuations similar to those of the menstrual cycle or menopause in women that would alter their moods or produce physical changes.
  • I saw this cartoon on the front page of Slate the other day:
    For those who can’t see the image, Osama bin Laden is in a cave reading a newspaper with the headline “Obama Reaches Out to Muslims” and declaring “And we’ll be reaching out to Christians.”
    Ha ha ha! Get it? It’s funny! It’s totally funny! Don’t you get it? It’s funny because A) America is a Christian nation, and attacks on America—even those directed at international symbols of secular concepts and institutions like finance/capitalism and the U.S. government/democracy—are properly understood as attacks on Christianity and Christians, for it is our official national religion with which Muslim extremists take issue, B) the primary purpose of Obama’s Cairo speech was to combat terrorism, C) giving speeches is all the Obama administration is doing to combat terrorism, and D) making a public gesture of basic respect for the 1.5 billion members of the world’s second-largest religion would do nothing at all to prevent terrorism and might even encourage it! Now you get, it right? I shouldn’t even bother typing anymore, because surely you are now laughing too hard to read this through your tears of mirth!

It’s that time of the election cycle again…

Yes, Obama’s first 100 days ended about five minutes ago, but the 2012 campaign has already begun. This unwelcome news was forced upon my consciousness, which had been dutifully trying to ignore it for weeks now, during an afternoon perusal of the Boston Globe‘s homepage. There I saw, under some much less interesting news about former Mass House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi’s indictment for being more than usually corrupt, the following two headlines in close proximity to one another: “Romney takes Obama bashing to CNN, ‘Today Show’” and “Minn. Governor Pawlenty won’t seek third term.”

Two inescapable conclusions must be drawn from each of these. From the first, I conclude that Mitt Romney will never, ever stop annoying the shit out of me, and that that annoying fucker is running for president. Still. Again. Some more. From the second, I conclude that Tim Pawlenty is also running for president, and that Al Franken is screwed. Y’see, now that he’s set his sights on the White House, Pawlenty no longer has to pretend he gives a shit what Minnesota voters think, and he has every motivation to do things that empower or curry favor with Republicans, and refusing to certify Franken’s election does both. So unless the Minnesota Supreme Court rules not only that Coleman has no grounds to continue contesting the election, but also that Pawlenty must certify Franken immediately, the junior Senator from Minnesota probably won’t be seated before Congress breaks for the summer. And with a judicial nominee to filibuster, you can bet the party leadership would be extremely grateful to anyone who could hold the Dems to 59 seats.

We’ll have a gay old time

I will never apologize for my open homer-ism about life in New England, especially when it seems like every week my home region gives me another reason to cheerlead.

AUGUSTA, Maine—State Sen. Dennis Damon is introducing a bill to end the prohibition on gay marriage in Maine. House Republican Josh Tardy, meanwhile, is proposing to bolster the state law restricting marriage to one man and one woman by making it a constitutional amendment.

The dueling proposals ensure that gay marriage will be hotly debated this legislative session.

As it stands, Maine has a domestic partnership registry that’s open to gay couples. But that’s not enough for gay marriage supporters. Damon says it’s time to “fully end discrimination in Maine.”

Gay marriage is being debated elsewhere in the region.

In New Hampshire, a bill’s been submitted to replace the term “civil union” with “marriage” in the state’s 1-year-old civil union law. Vermont, the first state to recognize same-sex couples with its civil unions law, is now likely to consider a gay marriage bill.

Tardy’s competing bill is admittedly depressing, but I think Damon’s has a fighting chance. Maine is more Republican than the rest of New England, but that’s mostly due to fiscal conservativism. If you want to help things along, you can email Senator Damon to tell him you support his measure or (politely!*) ask Representative Tardy not to enshrine bigotry in the state constitution. Obviously this is especially important for constituents, but even if you’re not a Mainer it’s still valuable to let those on the side of equality know they’re not alone, and let those trying to legislate hate know that their bigotry won’t be condoned.

If things go well, marriage equality could be the status quo in five out of six New England states by the end of the year. What’s up with you laggers in Rhode Island? Get with the program!

*I say “politely” because although I know outrage over this issue is absolutely warranted, feeding someone’s fantasy that they’re a persecuted crusader for an unpopular moral right just encourages them to never accept defeat.

Hey, remember me?

Ginger snaps and coffeeI’m sorry for my long silence. Life is stressful for me right now, so I’ve been doing what I always do when I’m stressed: alternately baking and hiding under the bed. All this baking and consuming of ginger snaps (Pictured at right. Tip: Use them as biscotti!), lemon squares, lacy oatmeal sandwich cookies, snickerdoodles, and tiny soufflés, among other things, has left very little time for writing.

But even from under my bed, I cannot entirely escape blogging, as evidenced by the fact that I keep Taboo-ing blog fodder.

Like the story of this massive creepazoid, a serial groper of young girls on public transportation. One quick-thinking high schooler snapped a photo of him with her cell phone camera and, after learning from friends that she was far from his only victim, turned it over to the police. He was tracked down quickly and, even more amazingly, actually convicted. If only he’d been sentenced to more than 25 hours of community service and 2 years’ probation my joy would be complete.

And this story in Slate, wherein the openly Catholic author trumps up the danger of Catholic hospitals closing should President Obama do anything so radical as ratify the Freedom of Choice Act, thereby codifying Roe v. Wade and protecting it somewhat from the current sustained attacks by people who really don’t like it when women control their own internal organs. After noting that many Catholic hospitals are in low-income, under-served communities, she argues against the passage of FOCA as if it should be obvious to all readers that the group threatening to shut down hospitals for the needy—which, by the by, are staffed and run primarily by lay-people—so that no woman should receive complete medical care on their watch is indisputably in the right, and that the group attempting to protect the rights of half the population to decide upon their medical care without the help of the Nosy Nancy down the street are clearly the assholes.

And my deep ambivalence over Hillary Clinton’s acceptance of the Secretary of State position. I’m sure she’ll do a great job, but I was really looking forward to having her as Senate Majority Leader, and now I fear we may be stuck with several more years of Harry Reid’s asshattery.

Clearly there’s nothing for it but to attempt to post semi-regularly again, even if it’s only quick hits and food porn.

One day

I don’t even know what to say right now.

I’m sick of writing about, reading about, talking about, thinking about this election, and yet I cannot get enough of it. I’m so glad it’ll finally be over; I’m so scared it’ll finally be over.

I’m planning to spend the day in a baking frenzy, ostensibly to prepare for the results-watching party I’m having tomorrow, but really to calm my nerves and keep myself from obsessively reloading FiveThirtyEight, hoping for reassurance that the Republicans can’t possibly steal this one.

Tonight I’m going to try to do some last-minute phone banking against Prop 8. But there’s really not much left to say or do. Just this: Make sure you know where your polling place is, tell your boss you’ll be missing work, and get to the polls tomorrow.

Spreading the rage around

What the fuck, Wingnuts? Were you all asleep through 5th-grade civics?

I speak, of course, of this “Obama is a Communist” meme going around because he said his tax plan would “spread the wealth around.” Well, DUH! So would McCain’s. So would Ron Fucking Paul’s.

It’s a tax plan! Tax plans, by definition, redistribute wealth. The only questions we’re actually debating here are whose wealth, how much of it, and where it goes. Not whether or not any wealth is taken from one person or group and given to another. Redistributing wealth is the primary function of the government. And not just in Jesus-y wasteful “feed the poor, heal the sick” way us namby-pamby liberals talk about, but in the “pay … Debts and provide for the common Defence” way the Constitution talks about. Redistributing wealth is in fact the first power the Constitution grants Congress. To question whether, rather than how, wealth should be redistributed is to question whether people should be ruled by governments at all.

So the real question, my friends, is not whether Democrats are Communists, but whether Republicans are Anarchists.