Wingnut history: The anti-sex revolution

Like a high schooler blathering about Nietzsche, right-wingers who attempt to appeal to feminism will invariably get it wrong:

The Obama campaign has repeatedly appealed to women as if the feminist movement never happened – that is, as a monolith who can’t get sex and reproduction off the brain.

Yes, remember how, before feminism, women were constantly flaunting their sexuality? And how the greatest achievement of feminism was to teach them to be more modest and ladylike?

The ultimate absurdity here, of course, is that if feminism had never happened, Obama wouldn’t bother appealing to women at all, what with their not being able to vote and all that. But now they can, and if they feel compelled to vote based, in part or whole, on policies that will affect their uteruses (uteri?), that makes them responsible, not retrograde.

I’d sure as hell vote against a party that wanted to impede my ability to get healthcare for my dong, but nobody’s threatening to do that because I’m a dude.

Gearbox Software: We’re not sexist, but women suck at games and also graphic rape is badass

This story’s over a month old, so for that and other reasons I’m not going to go on a rant about it. The fuckupery here should be self-evident. The story, as briefly as possible, is this:

[T]he Mechromancer skill tree that helps video game newcomers is formally called Best Friends Forever. But Borderlands 2 lead designer John Hemingway referred to it numerous times as “girlfriend mode”.

Borderlands 2, just so we’re on the same page, is developed by Gearbox Software. Gearbox Software, just so we’re on the same page, is also responsible for this:

Duke Nukem Forever box coverSo I’m seeing a trend here. John Hemingway was not actually personally involved in the production of Duke Nukem Forever, but the fact remains that Gearbox seems to foster a disturbing tolerance of misogyny.

But as with white people in matters of race, you can’t really be sexist if you just say you’re not:

“There is no universe where Hemingway is a sexist,” Pitchford added.

Yes, yes there is: this universe. But don’t worry, some of his best friends are black women:

“All the women at Gearbox would beat his and anyone else’s ass.”

Rape culture: alive and well

Via LGM, this disgusting tale:

Prosecutors contended that [Officer Evans] drank eight beers and then drove himself to the Green Room, where he flashed his badge in an attempt to get into a concert for free. While inside, he walked up behind the victim, who was a friend of a friend, put his hand up her skirt and then ran his fingers across her genitals.

When bouncers threw him out, Evans told them he was a cop and they would be arrested.

The 43-year-old former Arizona Department of Public Safety officer was facing between six months and 2 1/2 years in prison, but the crime was eligible for probation. He will not be required to register as a sex offender, according to the sentence.

The judge said she considered the defendant’s lack of a criminal record and strong community support in her sentencing.

She also advised the victim to be more vigilant.

The judge sentencing Evans, Coconino County Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Hatch, said she hoped both the defendant and the victim would take lessons away from the case.

Bad things can happen in bars, Hatch told the victim, adding that other people might be more intoxicated than she was.

“If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you,” Hatch said.

You, Judge Hatch, are an asshole.

What exactly is the idea in the minds of these patriarchal shits? That no woman should ever go to a bar? That a woman who wants to socialize and enjoy herself outside of a book club or some other approved-for-ladies activity deserves to be sexually assaulted?

And as usual, it’s only when a woman gets sexually assaulted or raped that people start lecturing about all the things she did wrong to put herself in that position. Nobody ever goes easy on murderers just because the murder victim should have known that bad things happen at places that Puritans feel queasy about.

Anyway, fuck you, Judge Hatch. You’re an asshole.

A lot of people seem to have questions about their assholes

It takes some serious skill and imagination, but it’s possible to run an entire regularly-updated blog based around answering a single question, in much the same way that the entire four-year run of Battlestar Galactica was centered around answering the question, “How gratingly annoying can a cast of formerly likeable characters become in a mere four years?”

Such is the way with Yo, Should I Dump This Asshole? People ask. She answers. And she’s always right, as evinced here:

Anonymous asked: He seems normal but his facebook lists Atlas Shrugged as one of his favorite books. Should I give him a chance?

No.

Two girls, one Cupp

Quote of the decade:

[W]hile liberal women may praise Ann for (at least) getting herself an education, where is the praise for Ann’s best decision of all — to marry well?

(h/t Digby)

Bonus:

But as I sit in a cramped New York apartment, surrounded by bills, drowning in a sea of deadlines, the conventional life of a stay-at-home mother actually sounds pretty nice.

So wait, I’m confused, is being a stay-at-home mom hard work, or is it basically an extended vacation? Make up your mind, conservatives! At any rate, the notion that it’s Republicans who respect and value the hard work of stay-at-home moms rather falls apart when people like Cupp are constantly jabbering about how awful feminists are for expecting women to be able to handle the rigors and challenges of, y’know, everyday working life. “Bills?! Deadlines?! Argh, it’s just too much for my uterus! I should have gotten married and let my husband handle all this!”

Stay-at-home moms are lazy, unless they’re rich Republicans

I’ve written before (though not nearly enough) about the ease with which Republican ideology moves from one fundamental, self-evident truth that all Real Americans embrace to a new, entirely contradictory fundamental, self-evident truth that all Real Americans embrace, without a hint of self-awareness on the part of the GOP’s pundits and politicians.

The essence of the thing is simply that David Javerbaum’s Quantum Romney is actually a major underpinning of the modern GOP. Certainly Romney is the apotheosis of the quantum wingnut, the Kwisatz Haderach – he who can believe many worldviews at once – to which decades of ideological breeding and social engineering having aspired. But the ability to believe, with conviction, whatever is most politically convenient at the moment is hardly his exclusive domain.

This time, the Republican bandwagon makes its whiplash-inducing 180 on the issue of stay-at-home moms. The motivator, of course, is the Hilary Rosen spat, in which (as most of you know) Rosen stated that Ann Romney has “never worked a day in her life.” Rosen’s ambiguity was unfortunate, because her actual point, that Ann Romney has never in her entire life had to worry about earning a paycheck to feed herself or her family, is entirely correct. Republicans latched onto the broader, admittedly reasonable interpretation that Rosen was dismissing Ann Romney’s many years of child-rearing.

So, as Republicans are wont to do when dealing with Democrats, they immediately took the exact opposite position with no regard for how it related to their formerly stated ideological tenets. And so you have:

There’s so, so much wrong with this whole thing, starting with the fact that Barack Obama has absolutely no connection with Hilary Rosen and had nothing to do with her comments about Ann Romney. But these are conservatives we’re talking about; they’re not big on nuance.

But Fred Clark really hits the mark on why this campaign, coming from the GOP, is so hilariously galling:

The “welfare reform” passed during the Clinton administration was based on the idea that welfare recipients would be required to work.

Welfare reform was billed as the end of the free ride for all those lazy moms sitting at home doing nothing except raising their kids and cashing their AFDC checks. The new law replaced the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children with TANF — Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. And TANF meant those lazy moms were going to have to earn that assistance.

Those of us who objected to this new law at the time argued that, actually, those moms already were doing work — they were raising their kids. This objection got slapped down by, among others, the Republican Party, which insisted at the time that raising kids wasn’t real work and didn’t count.

But that incredible screeching of tires you hear isn’t the Republican Party Line Car turning away from their platform of 16 years ago. Oh no, that car can turn on a dime, a dime four months wide, no less:

Romney and allies cried that Democrats had declared “war on moms” after a Democratic strategist said Romney’s wife hadn’t worked a day in her life. Romney’s camp said this meant Democrats don’t value stay at home moms and motherhood, while they believe that women who stay home are doing real work.

But for every Romney action, there is an equal and opposite Romney reaction, and this morning, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes dug up a video of Romney from just January in which the Republican presidential candidate said he wanted to require women who receive welfare to work outside the home, even if their children are very young. He told a New Hampshire audience:

“I wanted to increase the work requirement,” said Romney. “I said, for instance, that even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, ‘Well that’s heartless.’ And I said, ‘No, no, I’m willing to spend more giving day care to allow those parents to go back to work. It’ll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.”

As digby said, “It sounds as though he believes that being a wealthy stay at home mom is a full time career while being a poor stay at home mom is undignified and lazy.”

This fits neatly into one of those bedrocks of Republican ideology, the ones that don’t whip about in the wind – namely, that having little money is a sign that you’re lazy, while having lots of money is a sign that you’re hard-working. The fact that this is no way correlates with reality has never stopped Republicans from believing it, and it’s not going to stop them now.

Old white guy doesn’t approve of your sex life, news at 11

CNN has run yet another entry in the “people are having enjoyable sex, better sound the death knell of civilization” genre of op-ed. I was actually surprised that this one wasn’t written by a woman – don’t get me wrong, I don’t think women are any likelier than men to feel this way. But the media loves running op-eds by prudish women, often women who identify as feminist solely so they can concern troll about how maybe all this sexual freedom is just downright bad for women, who propagate the notion that women don’t actually enjoy sex.

William Bennett

Pictured: The lovechild of Andy Griffith and William Shatner

But no, this one is written by an old white man, namely William Bennett. Now, I thought we as a society had moved beyond caring about what old white men think about our sex lives, but then, I suppose that hope was quashed when the GOP and the media decided that the opinions of a bunch of old white male virgins should have any impact on legislation concerning women’s reproductive healthcare.

The op-ed as a whole is a dizzying and deeply confused mixture of sex-negative buzzwords, beginning with the well-worn condemnation of “hookup culture” (and the accompanying finger-wagging at college-age women for letting men take advantage of them like that, don’t you know you’re supposed to demand a suburban house and two kids and a life of housewifery in exchange for sex?) and quickly spiraling into a Kubrickian wormhole of flashing colors and rants about BDSM until suddenly you’re in a hotel room and you’re not entirely sure how you got from there to here.

The op-ed seems to have been sparked by something he read Maureen Dowd (of course) say about that really awful new book that everyone with a taste for tacky literature is reading, 50 Shades of Grey.

Dowd cites the remarkable success of the trilogy among Generation X women — the contemporaries, allies and beneficiaries of the modern feminist movement. And yet, the narrative flies in the face of women’s progress.

This is one of the red flags that tells you a person isn’t actually interested in ushering in a post-patriarchal era of liberation from gender oppression, but just using superficial feminist language to concern troll about what women are doing with all this freedom we’re so magnanimously giving them. There’s no distinction in such a person’s mind between “woman” and “feminist.” Suddenly all women, especially all young women, are held accountable for the goals and direction of feminism.

It’s akin to getting angry at a completely random black person that there’s a BET but no WET. Because obviously every single black person had a hand in the creation of BET and endorses it.

For example, a contract that the girl signs with the man stipulates that “the Dominant may flog, spank, whip or corporally punish the Submissive as he sees fit, for purposes of discipline, for his own personal enjoyment or for any other reason, which he is not obliged to provide.”

Oh, so it’s BDSM that he’s hyperventilating so much about. Funny, I thought we were talking about “hookup culture” as a whole. At any rate, while I don’t partake in BDSM myself, the kinky-ass agreement described in this paragraph appears to be entirely consensual, so I’m having trouble getting worked up over it.

If this is progress for women, what would regression look like?

I’m glad you asked! Regression, to answer your question, would look like the man being able to “flog, spank, whip or corporally punish the Submissive as he sees fit, for purposes of discipline, for his own personal enjoyment or for any other reason” without the woman’s prior consent. Are we clear now? Good.

Bruni goes on to grapple with Dunham’s loveless sex scenes and wonders whether today’s onslaught of pornography and easy sex has desensitized men to the point where they view women, to recall the words of an earlier day, only as objects.

Pornography? Maybe. Not a can of worms I intend to open right now. Easy sex? Hardly. Women have faced systematic objectification for the entirety of human civilization. They still face it today. The existence of casual sex neither contributes to nor reduces this problem.

But really all this is especially rich coming from someone who (as we’ll see later on in the column, though I assure you it won’t come as a surprise) cleaves to the patriarchal view of sex as something that women have to hold onto for their future husband. That is objectification. Believing that casual sex necessarily debases women is objectification. Believing that their sexual purity is so central to their value that to have sex with a woman outside of marriage is to sully her is objectification, and that is the position you are advancing, Mr. Bennett.

A person’s sexuality (if they have one) is part of their personhood. It’s only part, and it’s not an essential part – unless they choose to make it so – and certainly to value a woman’s sexual desirability or availability over anything else about her is objectification. But to merely acknowledge and address and interact with that sexuality, if she so desires that you do, without denying the rest of her personhood, is not objectification. And it’s very irritating to see the way conservative misogynists have latched onto the term to advance their incredibly objectifying, patriarchal vision of family values while pretending that they’re the real feminists.

Even the act of sex itself is boring to some men unless it is ratcheted up in some strange, deviant fashion — all at the expense of the thoroughly humiliated and debased woman.

Wait, what just happened? Are we now proceeding from the assumption that all of hookup culture consists of BDSM sex? BDSM is probably the best-known kink out there, but it’s still a niche. Bennett’s point seems to have gone off the rails.

As Bruni asked: Is this what feminism fought for? In the 1970s we were told to respect women, treat them as more than sexual objects and treat their humanity the same as ours. Is any of this still true today?

Yes, it is true, in that I can have casual sex with a woman without regarding her as a “slut” or in any way “damaged.” Which is more than you can say, Mr. Bennett.

Take note that this disheartening and dismal tableau of modern liberated sex comes not from pro-family conservatives, who have been condemning this turn in our culture for some time, but from two stars of the liberal commentariat.

Oh good lord, no. No. Just no. Maureen Dowd and Frank Bruni are not “stars of the liberal commentariat.” Sure, they’re on the New York Times‘s payroll, but so is Ross Douthat. Dowd is one of those faux-liberal, faux-feminist concern trolls I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post. And Bruni is just… well, he’s just kind of an inoffensive guy who’s well below theTimes’s purported quality. But you can say that about 2/3 of their editorial board these days. Liberal stars? Neither of them qualify, sorry.

The end of Bennett’s column is the real howler, though:

Is there no alternative to the “Red Room of Pain” and Dunham’s demoralizing sexual encounters?

Absolutely! Consensual, mutually enjoyable sexual encounters with whomever you want, as frequently or rarely as you want, with as few or as many partners as you want!

Yes, there is.

Oh good, I’m glad we agree.

In an enfoldment of immeasurable cares in a real and true love, there is immeasurable intimacy too, including a richly satisfying sexual intimacy that finds no equal or parallel in a callous and casual hookup culture.

It is worth pointing out that this desideratum — deep sexual satisfaction — is found most often, as has been empirically verified over and over again, in what is often called, derisively, traditional marriage.

Or… not.

Well, there you have it, folks: Your two options are marital sex or kinky BDSM sex that’s only enjoyable for the man. There is no other way to have sex.

Rush Limbaugh should be asking ME for sex tapes!

If I wanted a vasectomy right now, you know how much I would have to pay for it? $0. Seriously, I checked with my insurance provider and everything. My current healthcare package, which I receive as part of my compensation from my employer, covers 100% of the cost of a vasectomy. Why aren’t Republicans in Congress gravely concerned about this? Why should my employer be forced to pay for me to have the ability to rut like an animal without any concern for the consequences?

Could it be because I have a penis rather than a vagina?

A letter to the president

No, this is not one of those goofy “an open letter to President Obama” posts. I’m pretty sure Obama doesn’t read my blog. (If you do, though, hi! I loved your work in The American President! Wait, that was Michael Douglas.) I’m just reposting a short email that I sent to Obama. I’m not under the impression that the letter will be read by the president himself, but I do think that if the Administration receives enough indications of support over its recent reproductive healthcare coverage decision, it’ll hopefully (hopefully) be emboldened to continue doing the right thing in the future. With that in mind I encourage you to send your own letter. Mine:

I’m writing this message because I hope that if President Obama sees the outpouring of support and appreciation for his recent decision regarding women’s reproductive health coverage, he’ll be confident that he’s made the right choice and will continue to do so in the future.

The president gained a lot of my respect with his decision, and turned a reluctant supporter into an enthusiastic one. I look forward to his second term. Thanks again for doing the right thing and not caving to hypocrites who use the Bible as a cover for their own misogyny.

1) Boobs 2) ??? 3) Death

I get that it’s totally cliche and well-understood to point out that teen slasher movies, of the Friday the 13th and Halloween variety, seem to have a disturbing fascination with punishing young women for having sex. But there’s a side to this trend that I don’t think has been discussed quite as much, and is frankly even more disturbing to me.

While it’s annoying on a certain level that you can watch Nancy’s friend having sex in A Nightmare on Elm Street and literally just know that she’s about to die, there’s also a certain endearing quality to the way your old-school teen slasher movies tried to preach Sunday School morality even as they gleefully ripped people to pieces. It’s not forgivable or, needless to say, persuasive, but it’s amusing in much the same way that your cranky old grandfather is amusing.

But the dull predictability of sexy female deaths in B-movies up to the present day has long since worn out its welcome. And the side to this trend that I was referring to, the one that bothers me far more than it amuses me (because as to the latter, it doesn’t), is that modern B-movies seem determined to convince us that not only will psychopathic serial killers target young women who are ostensibly sluts, but that the very forces of nature themselves conspire to punish women for such crimes as necking, bathing, and not being entirely dressed. Observe:

boobs=death

 

So basically, even piranhas, crocodiles, and, uh, ghosts target women who commit the crime of not keeping their breasts under wraps at all times. I wouldn’t be inferring any kind of social commentary from this trend if it weren’t so depressingly predictable. And the fact that the women so often die while naked sure seems to suggest that the death and gore are an integral part of the porn. I think our culture gets off not only on seeing boobs, but on punishing women for letting them.

As an antidote, I recommend Teeth, a movie that punishes men for being rapists and douchebags rather than women for having bodies.