Thursday, December 26, 2013

Wrung Out

"It's a woman's prerogative to change her mind."  (unattributed quote, 17th c.?)

Friday, December 20, 2013

I Learn Something New Every Damn Day

Heather N., "evil feminist from space," has clued me in to Do Not Link, a service that allows bloggers to reference "objectionable" or "dubious" sites without rewarding those sites with countable page views.  It looks very easy to use.  Now that's a tool that anyone monitoring the manosphere can use!  (For a little more information on how to use, I refer you to skeptical blogger Tim Farley's post.)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Vienna Teng

I can't think of the last time I heard and watched something as lovely as this video by Vienna Teng.  She was in Seattle last month and I'm kicking myself cuz I missed the show.

Quack Quack Quack

If there is one thing that jacks the jaws of Angry White Guys more than feminists, it's the gays.  Which can make libertines like Roosh rather strange bedfellows with the Christian Taliban.  Or loveable rednecks like the "Duck Dynasty" clan:
The last defenders of "freeze peach?"  
Daily reminder: you are not allowed to criticize homosexuals if you want to retain your employment.

That's not exactly true.  You are probably safe in criticizing an individual homosexual on any number of grounds.  What you are not safe in doing (anymore) is criticizing homosexuality itself (unless your place of employment is, say, the Westboro Baptist Church). 

Of course Roosh is referring to the scandal du jour around Phil Robertson's "suspension" by A & E from the "Duck Dynasty" reality show.

My Facebook page was peppered today with posts from Tea Party "friends" outraged at this infringement of free speech.  So I forced myself to read what it was that Daddy Duck actually said.  The message was remarkably incoherent given its brevity:

It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.
So essentially he states his preference for vaginas versus anuses as receptacles for his manly part, which is fair enough... and also because of "sin" and "logic," which is... oh, never mind.

The point is, as me old departed mom was wont to say, "A chacun a son gout," said the old lady as she kissed the cow. And really, who watches "Duck Dynasty" but the folks who are apt to share Mr. Robertson's point of view?  But apparently A & E decided blatant homophobia no longer flies on what passes for "mainstream entertainment" these days, even on a vehicle as shamelessly low-brow as "Duck Dynasty."  Here in America, we love our white trash freaks, but we like 'em cute and affable, like the ineffable Honey Boo-Boo herself.

Kudos to Roosh for doing the right thing and reminding his impressionable readers that homophobic, sexist, transphobic, and racist remarks are likely to cause them to lose their jobs, and that the "manosphere" is, purtroppo, not "the real world" in which the vast majority of us working stiffs must function.

Hey Fat Chick!

My only concessions to vanity these days are (1) having my hair professionally colored on a strict monthly regime, and (2) biweekly manicures to maintain my "perfect" acrylic nails.  I blame the cross dressing circle I sometimes hang out with for the latter indulgence.  Their nails always look fabulous:  I know one cross dressing engineer who sprays his press-ons with model enamel and an air gun.  (Their wigs, sadly, are another story.)  For all I poke fun at the cross-dressers, who sometimes represent to me "the worst of both worlds", they have taught me a lot about how to perform my gender.  (And I knew that I had overdone my makeup when I was identified as a cross dresser in a gay bar once.)

It's not that I've become indifferent to fashion.  I love pretty clothes.  It's simply that I enjoy seeing them on other people as much as wearing them myself.  Maybe that's a function of my age.  As we get older, and our youthful beauty inevitably wanes, we turn outward, away from the mirror.  So we take up gardening, painting, photography, and other hobbies that invite us to look beyond ourselves for visual pleasure.
Iris Apfel, 90-year-old New York fashion icon
Unless we're Iris Apfel, that is.
When I was younger, it was an ongoing challenge for me to find fashionable clothing that fit, even though I was only a size 16-18 in college.  In high school, it wasn't being fat that held me back socially so much as not having the proper clothes to wear for dances and sports.  As a result, I learned to configure "uniforms" that basically consisted of jerseys and jeans, or black knit pants and blazers that could have doubled as kevlar armor.  I managed to look presentable (albeit a bit matronly), but dressing remained a chore, never a pleasurable means of self-expression.

That's why I find the young "fatshionistas" (of widely varying degrees of girth) on blogs like Hey Fat Chick fun to follow.  Most of their get-ups would not be "age appropriate" for me (i.e., too too short), but sometimes I get ideas about what I could wear, and where I could obtain such items. And I'm always inspired by their gumption, their joyful defiance, their refusal to be repressed, ignored, or "shamed."

A young fat woman nowadays has an array of choices that would have boggled my mind thirty years ago.  (Unfortunately it is also true that unless she lives in a large city, she still must shop primarily online, which requires its own skill set.) And although I am not a "fat apologist" by any means, I celebrate that young women of all sizes can enjoy dressing in ways that exercise their creativity and make them feel good in their own skins. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Giving Matt Forney a Break

I'm feeling remorseful about my treatment of Matt Forney after an exchange with a gal on "Jezebel" who knew him in high school.

This guy went to my high school. It actually makes me laugh when I read this stuff because the image he creates for himself is SO HILARIOUSLY FAR from reality. I remember him as an overweight, pants up to his boobs, trombone player who ran to class like a duck and couldn't look any attractive girl in the eye. 

and also this:

It is pretty sad when I think about it. I'm not sure he was ever categorically bullied but he was certainly socially excluded in school. I'd be surprised to learn he had any friends. If he actually believes any of what he writes, it will be because for years he recognized what other people saw him as, a band geek that looked 12 when he was 17. A weirdo who could never get a girl's attention, an outsider. Even calling himself "the most hated man on the internet" is telling, everything he writes is a cry for acknowledgment. He doesn't care if you hate him as long as you see him! It's a way for him to collect some personal power that he hasn't owned his whole life. I'd be curious to know what his family life was like...

My heart cracks a little to know that at seventeen, he looked twelve.  And now at 25, he looks forty.  Has this guy ever caught a break in the looks department?  The only compensation for premature balding is that when he actually is forty, he probably won't look much different.

Of course, I wouldn't have seen her comments if he hadn't linked to them on his own twitter feed.  But that's the perverse rationale of these would-be provocateurs:  there's no such thing as "bad" attention.  Indeed, they seem to find it highly stimulating.

Her words threw into sharp relief the pain that drives guys like Matt Forney.  Not for the first time, I feel remorse for mocking him.  You see, I can empathize with the high school reject he was.  I hated high school too.  I wasn't bullied, or a social pariah, but I was a perennial outsider who attended four schools in three years.  Somehow, despite skipping as much class as I attended, I managed to graduate, most likely because I had made myself so "invisible" that my teachers never noticed I was missing.  I would be amazed if any of my graduating class could even recall my name or face.  What sustained me, as I drifted through late adolescence in a kind of fugue state, was the conviction that everything would change once I got to college and my "real" life began.  (Yes, I had my own "It Gets Better" campaign running through my head long before Dan Savage dreamed that mantra up.)

Do any of us completely recover from the trauma of early social rejection?  It certainly shapes our personalities, for better or worse (and, unfortunately, as Forney demonstrates, usually worse).  Forney himself once described me as someone suffering from "narcissistic injury" and I thought, Yeah, well, right back at ya, kid!  I'm honestly not sure what that bit of psychoanalytical jargon even means, but maybe he was right.  I don't know; I don't care.  I am older than guys like Matt, and I ought to be wiser.  And more compassionate.

I think again of the epiphany Lindy West experienced when she saw Forney's former "vlog" on Youtube (now removed).  Although she doesn't refer to him by name, it is obvious she is referring to this particular "troll" when she explains how she realized, while watching it, that there was nothing he could say that could hurt her worse than the hurt he himself lives every day.  And of course she is absolutely right.

Only losers obsess over the past. Fuck what you were like as a teenager; what are you doing NOW? THAT is what defines who you are.

True enough, but when what you are doing now is widely viewed as destructive, people are apt to scrutinize your formative years in an effort to identify the source of your pathology.  And what Matt seems to be doing now is playing out a script that was written in his own troubled and not-so-distant adolescence.

Damn, life is sad, isn't it?  And complicated too.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I defy anyone who has ever loved -- or who has ever wanted to love or be loved -- not to be profoundly moved by this young man's story:

This simple heartfelt video upload on Youtube inspired the documentary Bridegroom, which has been shortlisted as one of the best of 2013.  It makes an emotionally powerful case for giving gay couples the right to marry.

Of course, if there is one group that the New Misogynists fear and loathe more than "feminists", it's teh gayz.  (And teh tranz. And anyone else who is not hetero-normative according to Old Testament standards.)

It makes sense, in a way.  Variances in gender identity and orientation really mess with their most cherished core delusions about their rightful position in the world, about the very nature of human nature.  It's not surprising, either, that they have come up with various flimsy theories to explain male homosexuality which lay the blame on modern women (their unseemly bids for dominance, their nasty hypergamous ways).  Roosh, predictably, has posited that American men turn gay because of a lack of attractive, available female partners.  

It seems at first a stunningly weak theory given the scores of historical heart-throbs who had to hide their homosexuality lest they disappoint their legions of female fans (Richard the Lion-Hearted, Rock Hudson, Rudolf Nureyev, and Dirk Bogarde spring immediately to this female mind).  
Dirk Bogarde (sigh!)
However, while I was living in the middle east, I talked to a number of men who cited the strict sexual segregation of those societies to "explain" the undeniable existence of homosexuality.  And certainly people (and other animals) that would otherwise seek heterosexual pair bondings will make certain... accommodations... in captivity.  Still, it's hard to make the case that 21st century western societies, with their slutty, liberated women, are driving men into each other's arms.
In a conversation Roosh reports, he asks a gay man whether he "pitches" or "catches."  For a guy with Roosh's cultural baggage heritage, this is a crucial distinction, because in Iran and Turkey, the one who penetrates is perceived as "less gay" than the one who is penetrated, and that is because he is assuming the dominant, "masculine" role.  In other words, it's not the sexual act that defines one's sexuality, but the role one performs in said sexual act.  The "active" player maintains his masculinity, whereas the "passive" one forfeits his, and is thereby degraded ("feminized").  (This dogged insistence on gender-determined roles also helps explain why the Iranian government offers gay males the option of sexual reassignment surgery as an alternative to hanging.)  One of the lessons I learned from spending twenty years in the near and middle east was how culture shapes our very definition of what "homosexuality" means.

Lately, it seems that Roosh has been ramping up his anti-gay rhetoric, lauding the homophobic policies of Putin and the promotion of horrific anti-gay thuggery in the former Soviet Union.  This is just one way that the New Misogynists are oblivious to the way the global winds are blowing in favor of increased tolerance.

It's only been one year since Washington passed marriage equity, yet it's already hard for me to remember when gay colleagues were chary of mentioning their partners at work.  Watching the documentary Bridegroom this afternoon reminded me there's still a road to travel, but all the squawking and flailing of the "manosphere" or other far right reactionary groups will not stop the acceptance of gay civil rights.  And in that small way, at least, the world is becoming a better place.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Seduce and Destroy!

I'm among those who believe "Magnolia" is a great movie, not least of which is due to the incredible performance Tom Cruise gives as the toxic, emotionally crippled PUA guru, Frank T. J. Mackie.  Made in 1999, it still holds up well, and certainly Cruise has not had a role that rivals it since.  Also, the soundtrack by Aimee Mann is awesome.  You can watch the entire film on Youtube if you haven't seen it.  (Someone should have told Roosh this was a cautionary tale, not an instructional video!)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Lies the New Misogynists Tell Each Other

in my experience self identifying as a feminist correlates very strongly with liking to get choked during sex

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Becoming a Vegetarian Despite PETA

I've been following PZ Myers for a few months and you'll see he's on my blog list under Pharyngula.  He's an atheist, whereas I would put myself in the agnostic camp, so I don't always agree with his hard line against theists.  He's a scientist as well, so I don't always understand the science he's describing, but I find the topics interesting nevertheless.  I admire his energy, intellectual vigor, honesty, and courage in being able to see the "heart" of many an issue, and to stand up for what he believes, even when it means criticizing powerful voices in his own community, or people he identifies as friends. 

So I felt myself in good company when he announced that he is embracing a vegan diet after reading a recent Rolling Stone expose of the meat industry.  I myself had come to the same resolve as a result of reading the same article with its accompanying film.

Like Myers and a gazillion other anxious liberals, I had been cutting back on meat consumption while wrestling with the moral implications of all my consumer choices.  Over the past couple of years, I have experimented with meat-free recipes and meat substitutes.  I have been buying organic milk and cage-free eggs even though it's hard, given my budget, to resist the incredibly cheap alternatives.  I've read The Omnivore's Dilemma and Animal Liberation and watched scores of documentaries on the subject.

I'm not sure why that particular article has motivated me to finally commit myself, if not fully to veganism, but at least to no longer eating or wearing the flesh of mammals.  And this motivation is not based on particular concerns for my own health, but because this is one fairly easy thing I can do to reduce the suffering of sentient beings. 

A couple of years ago I watched a documentary, the name of which I cannot remember, which was so graphic and horrifying in its depiction of the fate of animals used in research labs that I immediately dashed off a check to PETA for $200 (a significant sum for me).  Unfortunately, within a few days I had cause to bitterly regret my impulsive largesse, as PETA came forward with its notorious "Save the Whales" campaign.

The purpose of these billboards was to "fat shame" women into becoming vegans by persuading them that vegans are never fat.  This is patently untrue.  I've met a number of chubby observant Hindus, for example.  It's perfectly possible to consume enough calories to get fat with an abundance of nuts and grains, and one of my personal concerns about giving up animal flesh is that I find when I don't get plenty of protein, my "sweet tooth" takes over.

Aside from being utter twaddle, the PETA campaign's chief objective was to humiliate fat women.  The billboards were erected near beaches in Florida and California: at least one woman commented that seeing it had caused her to cancel a planned outing to the ocean with her kids, which is terribly sad.  But that is what "fat shaming" does.  It effectively discourages fat people from participating in social activities most likely to promote their physical and psychological health.  Ask any fat woman how she is received when she enters an athletic club (hell, ask me!): she is either given the "stink eye" by customers who find her appearance offensive, or she is condescended to in the most demeaning manner.  That's why people who justify "fat shaming" by claiming "concern" for others' "health" are pernicious liars, hypocrites of the worst sort.

For me, the humiliation of PETA's "Save the Whales" campaign was double, for I realized I had just thrown a wad of hard-earned cash at an outfit that had absolutely no respect for me.  In other words, I had unwittingly paid for my own humiliation.

PETA soon dismantled the campaign and apologized, but the damage to my end was done.  I had learned to dislike PETA, a disdain that persists to this day.  I couldn't get my money back, but I did insist they drop me from their membership roll.  And although I'm a fan of Joan Jett and Chrissie Hynde, my admiration for them has been, frankly, tainted by their endorsement of PETA.  I try not to look at PETA ads in magazines.  When I can't avoid seeing one, I'm always nauseated by their blatant objectification of women's bodies. 

I'm not surprised that PETA has started a new campaign that is every bit as stupid and offensive, with assertions that are not only medically unproven, but are, in fact, simply another heaping helping of "fat shaming" with a light pseudo-scientific dressing.  And that is a shame because promoting the ethical treatment of animals is important for many valid reasons.  I am fairly certain that no fat person has been coerced into turning "vegan" because some vain-glorious, celebrity-studded ad campaign "shamed" her into it.

I give small amounts of money as I am able to local animal rescue and shelter organizations where I can witness firsthand the positive results of my charity.  Now that I've learned the Humane Society is really trying to help shine a spotlight on abuses in factory farming, I'm going to shoot them some support too.  

When will PETA learn that they are turning off more people than they are winning?  I'm beginning to think that PETA is just about promoting PETA...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Get Groupies By Blogging!

Giving female fans a face for their fantasies.
This week Matt Forney teaches readers how to "get groupies by blogging."  No, really.  By following Matt's seven easy steps, any man can "enjoy a rock star life." 

You see, women are "hardwired to mate with winners" and nothing signals "conquering hero" better than a soft, goofy-looking guy who makes almost no money and sits in front of a computer most of the day cranking out vitriol while deluding himself that playing in "a crappy local band" makes him a professional musician.  See, we live in such a celebrity-crazed culture that it isn't necessary to be good at something: it's only necessary that one has a recognizable name: like, say, "Matt Forney".

Matt refers to a girl that once "not only made me breakfast, but insisted on doing my dishes, vacuuming out my living room, and dumping Drano in my toilet."  I have little doubt this happened to Matt, but he refers to the incident so often (always with the telling Drano detail), it's obvious it was a fairly singular event in his life.  Furthermore, what he takes as a girl being "suppliant" I take as a girl feeling sorry for him.  At any rate, it's not a very erotic memory, is it?  I mean, how bad does a toilet have to get to call for Drano?

Of course, Matt lays down certain caveats.  First, "most groupies reside in the middle of the attractiveness spectrum."  Really?  So Kate Hudson-as-Penny Lane was just a Hollywood fantasy after all?

Second, groupies don't make good long-term girlfriends because they are all "ho's" ("ho's," let it be noted, who occasionally provide fanatically high levels of housekeeping service).  

Third, geography is a major "cockblocker" for bloggers, since potential groupies tend to be dispersed around the world of Matt's imagination.  Easy to see why that presents a serious obstacle for a guy like Matt, who relies on hitch-hiking to get across the country.

Once he has responsibly forewarned his readers, Matt gets down to the business of getting girls by building blogs.  See, if Matt knows anything, it's how to get women's attention.  Apparently women on the internet like blogs about game, self-improvement (i.e., weight lifting), and punk rock because those interests make a man look "cool."  "Unacceptable topics include politics, video games and anything that makes you look angry, bitter, or nerdy."  (It's almost hard to type that last quote because even my fingers are laughing so hard.)

Then there is the matter of style.  Bloggers who attract groupies "convey strength, confidence, and mastery," just like Matt.  On the other hand, indulging in a "negative, carping tone" a la Paul Elam is the kiss of death.  Girls want winners, not whiners!  Writers like Matt himself, who project "unapologetic masculinity... establishing ourselves as dominant men who put women in their place."  Don't squander logic and reason on the likes of women, and instead engage their erotic imaginations by describing "hot" sexual encounters.  Look at the success of 50 Shades of Grey -- how difficult can it be?

But, wait, there's more!  Read Aristotle's Rhetoric (I'll put that on my reading list immediately) for the fundamentals.  Find your own voice -- but make sure that voice is deep and commanding.  Blog regularly (alternate, perhaps, with lifting?).  Network with other bloggers (cuz "no man is an island" yadda yadda yadda).  Oh, and by the way, please buy Matt's e-book on the subject (of course!).

Curiously, Matt claims it is "absolutely vital" for bloggers to post pictures of themselves.  I say this is curious advice from Matt because as far as I know, there are only two photos of Matt in the public domain, and they are only used by bloggers like me who want to mock him.  In fact, Matt took down his old "vlog" because Youtubers made such relentless fun of his, uhm, less-than-dominant presentation.

Finally, Matt cautions would-be rock stars bloggers who dream of following in his trail-blazing footsteps to "be patient."  This isn't going to happen overnight (or probably ever), but when your manosphere blog takes off, it will all be worth it.  One day you too will lie back on your satin upholstered, circular bed, like the returned king you were destined to be, and "bask in the attention of your lady fans."

Friday, December 6, 2013

Happy First Wedding Anniversary!

My boss mentioned this morning that she and her wife are planning a belated honeymoon in Hawaii over Christmas, the lucky dogs!  Some balmy weather and sunshine sounds mighty good to me right now.  We're experiencing a cold snap.  Instead of the usual unflagging drizzle, the temperatures have been plunging into the teens overnight.  

It has been a year today that Washington State has recognized marriage equality.

A year ago, my girlfriend and I helped celebrate by attending a public wedding reception at the Paramount Theater downtown.   I don't think I've ever been in the middle of such a deliriously happy crowd before.  The open (free) bar and trays of delicious donated cupcakes certainly contributed to the festive spirit.

My girlfriend and I haven't talked about getting married yet, but now that she is "legally" a woman, I'm sure we both recognized how passage of this law affects our relationship too.

I am fortunate to live in Washington, the state where I was born and raised and plan someday to retire and die -- despite our gloomy weather, insane traffic congestion, and occasional earthquakes. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Feeding the Beast

A Facebook friend posted today a link to some new Fox-promoted lie about Obamacare with the comment, "I'm always surprised people continue to believe this stuff."  I was surprised that she was surprised.  After all, she is a successful psychologist who specializes in treating addiction. More than most, she should understand that "believing" is not what drives the audiences of Fox and other media outlets that rely on people's insatiable appetites for outrage.  The fact is, most of us enjoy being outraged.  It's fun to get mad.  Anger makes us feel strong.  It motivates us.  That's because anger releases a cascade of stimulating hormones that make us feel more alert ("alive") and energetic.  No wonder many of us get addicted to these powerful mind-altering chemicals that we can manufacture ourselves, right in our own heads, in the privacy and convenience of our own homes.  (And by "us," I mean "me" because, being of the XX persuasion, I am hopelessly solipsistic.) 

There have been a number of articles about "feeding the beast" of public outrage, and I expect to see more about this as people start to feel trapped in cycles of frustration and helplessness that are relieved temporarily by experiencing a dose of righteous anger, only to result in a "crash" -- that is, until the next scandal engages our attention and pumps us full of adrenaline once more.  It's exhausting, though, isn't it?

There is a lot of anger addiction in my family, and I am an anger addict myself.  I was taught to fuel myself with my own anger the way other people are taught to use coffee, as a routine stimulant in response to fatigue, fear, stress or any event that I find excessively taxing.  That doesn't mean I walk around in a state of simmering rage or am prone to public melt-downs.  But it does mean I can be rather unpleasant to be around when I am girding my loins for battle with some unpleasant or tiresome task such as cleaning the house or tackling a mountain of paperwork.  I have long been conscious of how I manipulate my own brain chemistry in order to energize myself with a goodly dose of anger.

Ironically, by feeding the anger beast I often wind up depleting my reserves.  Instead of actually harnessing that anger to effect real change (such as actually re-grouting the tub), I pursue the "high" like the junkie I am, seeking more "hits" of outrage.  For better or worse, like everyone else I live in a media-rich environment where there are endless opportunities to divert myself, and endless opportunities to be outraged.

I suppose this came to mind today when I found myself idly peeking at Matt Forney's twitter feed instead of cleaning the bird's cage.  Yesterday, he had tweeted something about me, to the effect that reading my blog was "like watching a nervous breakdown in slo-mo" and that I should really be put on "suicide watch."  Both comments made me laugh, and I wasn't offended by either.  To be honest, I wanted to see if he had tweeted anything more about me!  ("Vanity, thy name is woman!")  Instead, he was on an entirely different toot, courting new sources of outrage by virtually dancing on the grave of Nelson Mandela.

Forney's post about why girls need less (or was it more?) self-esteem has already faded from collective memory.  These things seem to have a half-life of about two weeks. Now he is left with the unenviable task of keeping attention on himself with nothing but his internet connection, smartphone, and nastiest impulses to help him.

Not for the first time I am thinking that in terms of grinding, mind-numbing, thankless vocations, the endless pursuit of internet notoriety must be the worst.  And it isn't even like "trolling for a living" fetches up much of a "living."  One of my mild but persistent obsessions is trying to figure out how a guy like Forney manages to stay as porky well-fed as he does.  I can only speculate that even though he's long since dropped out of college, his mom is still sending him "care packages."  (Or is it that, in the words of Shakespeare, anger is his meat and he sups upon himself?)

When I first stumbled into the "manosphere" I couldn't believe my eyes.  I would never have guessed how many Angry White Men were out there.  I felt compelled to read boatloads of these blogs in an effort to grasp the depth and breadth of it, to accept that the resurgence of a "new" misogyny was real.  I started with Roosh (hence the name of the blog), but soon discovered he was only one of many men who really, really hate women and don't hesitate to express that fear & loathing with shockingly contemptuous and even violent imagery (from safely behind their keyboards of course).  And they had fans too, and many of those readers had their own tiny terrible blogs and tiny furious twitter feeds.

I'll admit that these guys (and a few of these gals) scared me.  I hate to admit that because that's exactly what they want to do: to control women by playing on their fears.  And then I got very angry, which is a natural coping mechanism, because anger makes the fear manageable.    

OK, I now see this New Misogyny really is a thing in our world (not in my own small "real" world, mind you, where I have never met -- or at least never had reason to recognize -- any guys like this).  I've entertained my worst fears about what it represents, and have come to the conclusion that it does not represent a serious social threat, at least in its current incarnation.  

So what's my excuse for continuing to immerse myself in the toxic morass that constitutes the "manosphere"?  Is there a 12 Step program for people like me, who are addicted to feeding their own internet-fueled anger?  And what are the salient differences between "people like me" and "people like them" anyway?  In terms of our respective anger addictions, it seems very few.

It strikes me that on some small level I have been engaging in a symbiotic relationship with the manosphere bloggers, a sort of "dance of anger" in which we take turns outraging each other.  Maybe there is more in common between, say, Matt Forney and me than meets the eye.  Like many dysfunctional relationships, we are each getting some pay-off, feeding some addictive and self-destructive need.

Anyway, enough about Rush Limbaugh-wannabe Matt Forney for now (and in a reasonable universe, enough about Rush Limbaugh and Matt Forney forever.)  Time to watch once more "The Marriage of Maria Braun" (yes, I'm still on my WWII Germany kick) and pull my Christmas lights out of the attic because God forbid I be the only house on my cul-de-sac without lights on it.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Involuntary Celibacy and Me; or TMI

One of the themes of the manosphere is that "sex" is a commodity that women control and men will go to any lengths to obtain.  Women use "sex" to manipulate men and get them to do their bidding, or else cruelly deny men whom they capriciously deem unworthy.  Men, on the other hand, require sex to be fully masculine.  It is their biological imperative to pollinate every fresh flower they see; it is to attract potential hotties that they are driven to labor, to achieve, to acquire.  For example, according to at least one "incel" (see previous post), JFK did not become a senator and then a president in order to please his striving father, or even to fulfill his own ambition for power; he was driven by his innate need for nooky.

It strikes me that both men and women share a tendency to blame the other gender for their own base impulses or thwarted desires.  One thing that women don't generally do, however, is feel "entitled" to the sexual services of men.

Now, I know the Angry Guys will say that is because women, just by virtue of having vaginas, can have all the sex they could wish for.  But that isn't exactly true.  Sure, even a flabby old crone like me knows of at least one notoriously seedy bar in my area where I could find a fuck buddy in ten minutes flat (make that five if I were buying).  I could find a partner for most of these incel guys at the same place, if they would just ratchet down adjust their expectations of what it is they believe they "deserve" -- just a mite.

I know a lot of women who are lonely and horny, who spend many nights yearning and burning, writhing alone in their beds, listening to vintage Sarah McLachlan and gnashing their teeth.  I know how that feels:  I have been one of them myself.

I have had several periods of "involuntary celibacy".  One of these periods lasted nearly five years, which, by anyone's reckoning, is a long dry spell.  It followed a seven year relationship with a man who had finally put me out of my misery broken up with me by announcing on the phone he was marrying someone else.  I was devastated, alternately in denial (spinning fantasies of winning him back) and suicidal (cuz that would show him).  It was a period of extreme depression and social isolation punctuated with bursts of manic, impulsive activity:  I moved several times, started and abandoned three different jobs. 

I had gained a lot of weight, and was living in rural Colorado, where I hardly ever met anyone, much less any eligible bachelors.  Still, I was a young lady with a high libido.  This was in the late eighties, the burgeoning era of internet dating, and I was among the first to try to hook up that way.  There were long, passionate e-mail exchanges with a bipolar lad in Canada and a slightly demented elderly gentleman in California, but to no avail.   

This was back when I still identified myself as straight, although even if I had realized I was in fact "hetero-flexible," I doubt it would have improved my plight.  Looking back, eighty percent of the problem was that I was functioning under a dark cloud of depression, practically exuding desperation, and obviously needed therapy (which I eventually got) even more than a roll in the hay.

This was also the period that I discovered pornography erotica and mail order, uhm, marital aids.  So it wasn't a complete waste...

A friend who was in similar straits used to joke that if she could order a man like a pizza, she would have tipped generously.  We joked about taking up horseback riding, about telephone poles, about the gnawing hunger to be taken, to be well and truly fucked, to be royally rogered while we thrust our noses into some random stranger's hairy armpit and inhaled his musky pheromones. 

We were, to put it bluntly, mad with unrequited lust.

I even thought about hiring a male prostitute.  (This was, after all, the decade book-ended by "American Gigolo" and "My Own Private Idaho", so the concept of men commodifying their sexuality had become a thing.)  I had no idea how to procure one, however, especially in my dusty little town snuggled high in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Even if I had stumbled upon Richard Gere (or even better, Brad Pitt) in some cowboy bar, I couldn't yet un-bundle my desire for sex from my desire to be desired.  And I don't think these angry male "incels" or frustrated PUAs are much different.  Whether male or female, we look to sex with a partner to provide confirmation of our own desirability. 

I broke my five year record as soon as I had moved to a larger city and found a career that (at least temporarily) I enjoyed and which put me in contact with a broader array of like-minded people.  In fact, I proceeded to make up for lost time by having a string of casual encounters colorful off-color adventures that I immortalized in another blog.  

Now I am an old(ish) woman.  My circumstances and needs are quite different.  I haven't had penetrative sex for a number of years, and I don't miss it.  Yet I can still remember the pain and frustration of my own days of involuntary celibacy, and sympathize with those men (and women) who rail against it.  

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Unknown Soldier

Taking advantage of the mini-break surrounding Thanksgiving, I further indulged my obsession with Nazi war crimes by watching "The Unknown Soldier," a documentary by Michael Veerhoeven that explores the reaction of the German public to the Wehrmacht Exhibitions that have toured that country in the past two decades. 

The point of the exhibition was to prove that the regular German Army played a huge and ongoing role in the extermination of the Jews, especially on the Eastern Front, i.e., Ukraine.  We forget that many of the Jews were not killed in death camp gas chambers, but were herded into ghettos (often established off the main streets of towns with hastily erected barbed wire), from which they were periodically, methodically, and openly marched through the towns to open pits or gullies a couple of kilometers away, and shot.  It is estimated that 100,000 Jews were disposed of at Babi Yar alone.  

The magnitude of these numbers always beleaguers my imagination.  When I lived in Grand Junction, there were 35,000 residents, and it seemed like a pretty big town to me (x 3? in one pit?)  

And much of this action was carried out by rank and file German soldiers.  Indeed it could not have happened without their direct involvement.  And their full and enthusiastic participation could not have been engaged unless they themselves were acting out their own ingrained anti-Semitic belief system.

The evidence of their involvement takes many forms, but most compellingly, in snapshots taken by the soldiers themselves and later lovingly preserved in family photo albums: "Grandpa's Service."  I was reminded of the shock that the Abu Ghraib photos caused, not only because they provided horrific evidence of war crimes by American soldiers (and American female soldiers at that!), but because the pictures had been taken and distributed so freely and joyfully.

The culpability of the common German soldier is not what I was taught in grade school, and it certainly came as a shock to Germans of my generation, whose fathers and grandfathers had been exonerated after the war.  Not surprising, then, that the Exhibit triggered protests, not only by neo-Nazi thugs, but by ordinary middle class Germans and even a few very elderly veterans themselves. 

I found the details of the documentary riveting.  For example, in one brief film clip, a German Red Cross nurse tenderly secures a blanket around a naked elderly Jew's shoulders as she calmly directs him into a mobile gas chamber... 

But the segment that made the greatest impression on me was the research that had been done on the fate of soldiers who refused to participate in the genocide: not a single one who refused to shoot Jews was disciplined in any way, much less court-martialed.  In other words, the soldiers of conscience -- and there were a few, there always are a few good people! -- suffered no negative consequences whatsoever as a result. Which puts the lie to the commonly cited belief that taking a moral stand always meant risking martyrdom.  In other words, the soldiers that shot Jews did so because they wanted to (or at least didn't mind doing so), and the soldiers that didn't shoot Jews did so because they didn't want to.

I hope German historians will continue to seek out and reward, if only posthumously, those individuals.  Because if there are important lessons to be learned by examining why, and how, people commit heinous acts, there are even more important lessons to be learned by examining why, and how, people resist evil.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Angry White Guys

Russell Brand recently remarked "We have more in common with the people we're bombing than the people we're bombing them for."

That quote has been rattling around in my head the last week or so, and I re-quoted it once more to my friends as we sat around the table after we had consumed our Thanksgiving feast, supplemented with a great deal of wine, yesterday.  Talk had turned to the Tea Party, and for some reason it seemed apt to muse upon the ways we have more in common with the people we imagine are our enemies than we do with the powers that be who are really running the show.

I actually know a Tea Partier or two (although neither, thankfully, was present at the table yesterday).  One is a childhood playmate who lives in a cabin in the Tetons.  I haven't seen her since I was eleven years old, and doubt I ever will see her in the flesh again, but we reconnected via Facebook as people do these days, and have been reading each other's posts ever since.  We even had a short, rather awkward chat late one night.  I'm really surprised she hasn't un-friended me by now because I'm sure it has become painfully apparent that we are diametrically opposed on just about any social or political issue there is.   

Lately she's been "sharing" a lot from a Facebook page called American White History Month, which has, as its banner, the slogan "Never apologize for being white!"  For some reason that slogan strikes me as pretty hilarious.  I've never felt I needed to apologize for being white even when, as I was on this particular Thanksgiving, I am surrounded by black and Latina women.  I mean, isn't that part of white privilege?  I hardly ever have to think about race at all!  (At least as it affects me personally.)

The reason I don't un-friend her is because I rather fancy having a small window, via Facebook, on an entirely different way of perceiving the world.  I rather relish being reminded that, if my mother hadn't fled her tiny Mormon hometown at the age of seventeen, I could be that woman myself: a woman who admonishes others to respect the flag and "put the Christ back into Christmas", who hates homosexuals and loves her grandchildren with equal passion, who posts recipes of rich desserts at least twice a day, and who recently shot an elk through her kitchen window while cleaning up after supper.   In a way, she is living my heritage, that of a very devout, albeit very bigoted, modern day frontier woman.

I don't un-friend her because I need to remind myself where I come from -- my own personal white American history -- and how far from "other", in fact, the members of the radical right are to me.

After finishing Michael Kimmel's book, Angry White Men, I am feeling a resurgence of compassion and connection to this corner of humanity as well.   Blame it on the holiday season, perhaps.  These angry white men, with their sense of "aggrieved entitlement," and their woefully misdirected anger, and their nostalgia for a patriarchy that is dismantling under their very feet -- these men are part of my heritage too.  And I'm beginning to feel guilty about making fun of them and shaming them and calling them morons.

Because making fun of these guys is beginning to feel like poking at caged bears.  Or bull fighting.  In other words, it doesn't seem like a fair fight because these guys can't win.  They certainly can't win an intellectual argument, they're on the wrong side of history, and they aren't smart enough to figure out how they are being played.  They are being encouraged (and encouraging one another) to believe "the problem" is immigration, feminism, or affirmative action, or just plain lack of nooky.  The source of their troubles, in other words, is always the class one or two rungs down the ladder.

"Divide and conquer," one of my friends said, as we soberly picked at our pie, and imagined a day when the angry white guys would wake up and smell the coffee.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Lost German Girl

I am currently reading Hitler's Furies, which examines the role German women played in the killing machine of the Third Reich.  Perhaps the greatest revelation is how few of them were held accountable for their murderous and sometimes sadistic deeds, and how even after the war, German justice was reluctant to credit the testimony of Jewish survivors against these women.  The few women who were actually brought to trial lied blatantly about what and where they had been; they tried to pin their crimes on their husbands or lovers; they were pregnant at the time (and therefore, for some reason, incapable of shooting Jews in the forest like rabbits); they "forgot" where they were or what they were doing; they were just following orders. They returned to civilian life, some of them in the very same occupations they had held while they were committing their most cold-blooded crimes (i.e., nursing).  

Perhaps it doesn't matter.  They're mostly all dead now, these Germans of my parents' generation, or else very, very old.

I am not a World War II buff by any stretch.  What fascinates me is human cruelty, and identifying the social and psychological circumstances in which human cruelty emerges and flourishes.  Women's capacity for violence has, until recently, been overlooked.  They are seen either as victims or in thrall to a dark masculine force, rather than as people who participate in murder or genocide willingly, even enthusiastically, in service of their own ambition or sadistic pleasure.

On a related note, I cannot quite shake my fascination with "the lost German girl" who was filmed during the evacuation of Germans from Czechoslovakia in 1945.  She has been beaten, and seems exhausted and disoriented.  She is wearing military trousers and braces that seem to fit her too well to have been discarded by a male soldier.  She is clutching a deck of cards (or a bible? or a stack of worthless currency? or identification papers?). She has never been identified, and -- assuming she survived -- probably never wished to be.

A case has been made over at another blog that the photograph below is of the girl in the film, and, having compared the images over and over, I am also persuaded that they are the same person. The photograph is of an as-yet unnamed German woman who was serving in some capacity in the Wehrmacht apparatus in Czechoslovakia. (On the other hand, "the lost German girl" captured on film may simply have been one of millions of ethnic Germans expelled from various countries during this period.) 


It's difficult, watching the film clip, not to feel great compassion for the young woman, who, with her loose, blonde, blood-caked hair, snug jumper, somewhat cynical expression, and meandering gait, appears to be utterly contemporary.  And yet I am also haunted by what she has done, the choices she has made that have brought her to this dark place along a sunny stretch of highway.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

On Men Hitting Women

I'm in the middle of reading Michael Kimmel's Angry White Men, which David Futrelle recently reviewed.  I'm getting a lot out of it; it's especially interesting to read about the phenomenon of domestic violence from a male, rather than a female, perspective.  For example, Kimmel points out that men use violence at home in an attempt to restore control they have already lost.  This is a slightly different angle than feminists take, who typically recognize a fairly simplistic strong male perpetrator / weak female victim dynamic, but it resonates deeply with my own experience.

Not that I've ever been in a relationship in which a man struck me.  Well, let me say that once a man I was living with slapped me across the face, hard enough to make my ear ring, but the relationship was pretty much over (I was in the process of finding my own apartment) when it happened, and I recall being quite stunned -- like, Are you fucking kidding me?   I simply turned around and walked away, and he didn't pursue until later in the evening, when he began to scream at me from the bottom of the stairwell (because I had announced I was turning off the utilities in the house, which were in my name).  In the midst of his tantrum, he suddenly fell and clutched his chest.  "I'm having a heart attack!" he cried dramatically.  

I calmly watched him writhe and moan from the top of the stairs as he lay in a fetal position.  I wondered how long I would need to wait before I called 911, in order to make sure he was really dead.  He stopped twitching, and became quiet.  After two carefully counted minutes, I decided to leave the house for a while, hoping to return a few hours later to find him cold where he lay at the bottom of the stairwell.

It didn't turn out that way, of course.  As far as I know, he's still very much alive.  The last I heard from him was when he sent me an invitation to his wedding a few months later.  He sent it to let me know he knew where I lived, to remind me that he still had some "control" in our relationship.  I just laughed and tossed it in the trash.  I wasn't afraid of him at that point.  I reckoned that if he had given in to his impulse to kill me, he would have bludgeoned me as I slept in the house we had shared.  In fact, I had always found him ridiculously, contemptibly weak, and he recognized that, which is why he hated me as much as he did. 

This is probably the worst story I can tell on myself.  Friends never fail to express shock and dismay at my cold-hearted behavior.  I'll admit I enjoy telling the story too because of others' reaction.  I suppose it's an indirect way to let them know about the darkest part of my personality.  So now you know why the pseudonym "La Strega" fits me so well; it's not just because I am "bewitching."

I didn't come from a family where men struck women.  My father never hit my mother.  Neither of my grandfathers ever hit my grandmothers.  It's impossible to imagine.  And it's not because these women couldn't be maddening, manipulative, and mean to their men.  It's because I came from a family where being a man was all about being in control, and obviously, a man who has to resort to violence is a man who has allowed his emotions to rule, and has thereby forfeited the perfect control which is his masculine responsibility.  

Neither did my father or either of my grandfathers ever strike their children, or even threaten to.  They never had to, not because we were always good, but because they had so much power in our family that no one dared to challenge their authority.  My father was, in our home, God.  He was, as Joseph Kennedy's daughter described him, "the architect of our lives."  Challenging the authority of my father would have been like dismantling the navigational system of a ship.  It would have been a terrifying, suicidal act of defiance.  And not because he would have punished us, but because, without Daddy, we had nothing.

In my family, it was the women (my mother, her mother, us girls) who were allowed free rein to express their emotions.  Emotional expression was the avenue by which women, not men, communicated.  My mother occasionally spanked us; more often, she threatened to by striking the walls with a wooden spoon, or throwing books and other objects.  Funnily, we were much less afraid of her than we were of our father.  Her lack of self-restraint simply reminded us of how relatively powerless she was.  It confirmed the contempt we already held for her because she was so dependent on our father.  We had already learned that violent displays are the desperate resort of the impotent.

I'm talking physical violence of course.  True, my father never raised a hand toward anyone in his life, and yet his words could eviscerate his opponents.  He hardly ever yelled; it was when he went quiet that the hairs on your arms would start to rise in apprehension. 

And to this day, I am extremely sensitive, and vulnerable, to sarcasm.  And also, truth be told, quite adept at being verbally cruel.

But Kimmel's position about the true power dynamic between violent men and their wives and girlfriends has helped me understand one of the problems I faced as a domestic violence advocate: my lack of true empathy for the female victims.  I just couldn't understand how a woman person could continue to "love" a partner who used violence: not because it was dangerous or painful, but because anyone who "loses it" physically puts himself in a "one down" position.  And why would anyone want to hitch her wagon to that?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Daw Da Hiya

I love Iggy Pop.  And I loved Ofra Haza.  I had no idea, until a commenter informed me tonight, that they had done a duet together.  Ofra Haza was an Israeli singer of Yemeni birth who enjoyed enormous professional success but had a rather sad personal life.  She contracted HIV from her husband and died of AIDS-related pneumonia within a couple of years of her marriage.  The disclosure of the cause of her death shocked the Israeli public, for whom she had been an icon of chastity and purity.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Roosh Rallies the Troops! (And Bans Me Again)

Today, Roosh trumpets into the void: "It's time to start delivering death blows to feminists!" 

Ladies who tweet, beware: Roosh and his most fervent disciple Matt Forney are already all over you like flies on shit.  They post the most inflammatory crap they can summon in their overheated imaginations.  (The topic du jour was why girls with eating disorders make the best victims of "game").  Then they sit back and trawl Twitter to harvest the oh-so-predictable outrage.  Anyone who links to a Roosh's (or Matt Forney's) name or their sites gets immediately "retweeted" and perhaps even treated to a special in-person "appearance" from Roosh (or Forney) himself.  In Roosh's case, he will poke around in the girl's twitter account, blog, or whatever else he can find, post a picture of the girl if one is available, and then invite his readers to wank off to her image ("Would you fornicate?").  Classy, huh?  Of course, most of the victims could not care less and quickly disengage from (or block) their would-be tormenter.  I mean, being targeted by Roosh is kinda gross, kinda like stepping in dog feces, but a typical girl wipes her feet and soldiers on...  It's not like most women are unfamiliar with this sort of uninvited attention / abuse.

But Roosh, at least, has wearied of this particular game.  After one female student in the UK blew him off on twitter last night, he spent several hours composing a new screed, this time upping the stakes in the Battle of the Sexes that he and his flying monkeys are fighting (entirely in their own minds).

"We have reached a level of influence that ignoring us is no longer an effective means of attack.  By leaving us alone for so long, they gave us the needed time to carefully optimize our belief system and recruit committed soldiers to the cause."

Well, uhm, actually, I think the problem may be that people have not yet figured out that the "manosphere" is one big trolling operation, and that leaving these trolls alone is probably the only way to shut them up.  Most people are more bemused than alarmed when Roosh pops out of their twitter woodwork.  Once they've figured out who he is, he is summarily blocked:  Ah! a person of no importance at all to anyone.

I have no idea what it means "to carefully optimize our belief system."  And frankly, after a day of marking student essays, my brain is too fried to even try to decipher this.

"An attack last year from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a formidable adversary with millions of dollars in resources, strengthened us more than hurt. We overcame them like a dog scratching away a flea."

Well, it's true the SPLC took some heat for its creation of a list of "misogynists" to keep an eye on; some folks thought they were trivializing their mission by bothering to include rape-apologists like Roosh and Paul Elam.  Personally, I am reassured that at least one social justice group (mostly thanks to the unflagging efforts of  David Futrelle) are monitoring these guys.  Personally, I consider these guys and their followers to be hate groups, pure 'n' simple, straight up.  And it's no coincidence that manosphere blogs tend to be fertile ground for racists, homophobes, and conspiracy nuts of all stripes.

(Also, forgive me, but Roosh is seriously underestimating the power of fleas.  As the owner of four dogs, I can attest that none of them has been able to "scratch away" the problem, and at this point I should seriously consider investing in Frontline or Advantage stocks.)

"Even when they cherry pick quotes of [sic] context, the intelligent man (who I cater to) can easily see through the distortions by doing his own research.  He's just a couple of clicks away from learning that media portrayals are dishonest and one-sided."

Cherry pick what quotes?  Distortions of what?  Media portrayals of what?  And if idle googling is your idea of "research"....  Well, suffice to say there is a reason we uptight academics don't allow students to use wikipedia as a legitimate source for academic papers.

Actually, the saddest bit of the passage above is Roosh's cynical claim that he "caters to the intelligent man."  Even Roosh knows, on some level, that his followers are a horde of sub-literates whom he manipulates and exploits in an attempt to maintain his own pathetic "lifestyle" -- a lifestyle that consists primarily of living in cheap sublets, hanging out in internet coffee bars, and preying on Ukrainian teenagers.

"We won't change the minds of most women, and we won't convert the most die-hard of white knights, but the most powerful of their upcoming attacks will have the main result of converting more men over to our side."

OK, women are, what -- like, 52% of the U.S. population?  Now add in the "die hard white knights" (I assume this will include most of the husbands, fathers, brothers, lovers, sons, friends, allies, and colleagues of said women?)  What are you left with now?  A veritable handful of pathetic sods and wankers who can't get girlfriends because they are socially inept?  Wow, I'm quaking in my boots, man!

"They're damned if they come after us and damned if they don't, due to the antifragile construction of our network. This suggests that a tipping point has been reached and it no longer matters what they do, because our ideas have already pollinated mainstream society."

Oh, dear.  When Nessim Talib recently complimented Roosh's summary of his book (via Twitter), I knew it was gonna go to poor Roosh's head.  (And the fact that Talib was roundly laughed at by his Twitter cronies as a result seems to have escaped Roosh entirely). 

And as for the word "pollinated"... yuck, can this idiot produce one single post that doesn't reference his own spooge? 

"We're at the point where we have enough musculature that we can pick up the big stone off the ground... through one simple action:  holding our enemies responsible for their words."

As evidence, Roosh points to the fact that many "mainstream outlets" have chosen to kill comments sections entirely rather than host streams of feminist outrage vs. anti-feminist rhetoric. And yeah, I'm impressed with your new "musculature."  Now, instead of looking like "a noodle-armed terrorist," you look like "a defined biceps-armed terrorist."

"Seeing these comments is a good sign, but it doesn't go far enough.  The next step is to hold them responsible for the rest of their lives." 

 Roosh proceeds to hatch his diabolic, moustache-twirling scheme of world domination by explaining how the "manospherians" can ruin (ruin, I tell you!) the lives of "feminists" by tweaking Google searches.  In other words, make sure any search for a "man-hating" blogger or journalist results in a link to some manosphere blogger's evisceration of her "reputation."  There, that will teach 'em a lesson!

"The views of every female hatemonger must be preserved in Google" so that "future employers... know of her belief system."

Projection, much? I mean, here is a guy who has admitted that, if he were to do it all over again, would NOT have revealed his true identity online.  I am sure James C. Weidmann (aka "Roissy") who was unwillingly outed (and subsequently terminated from his job) would concur.  Old farts Paul Elam, a former "addictions counselor" and Bill Price (whom who I understand is a former car salesman) had little in the way of "careers" to lose to start out with. 

"It's fun to lash out at them on Twitter, [but] we must also choose a more permanent and Google-able medium to create a historical record of their behavior." 

Well, I'm not sure what is more pathetic here:  Roosh's idea that "Google" will some day stand as the "historical record," or that any person who stands up against hate groups has anything to fear from either future employers or history itself.  

Seriously.  I use a pseudonym for my blogging and online activity, not because I fear being outed to my employer (whom I am fairly certain could not care less about anything I have ever posted), but because I am just a teensy bit paranoid of nut jobs (like the partially hinged, moronic commentators of Roosh's blogs) showing up at my doorstep or workplace unannounced, AK-7s in hand.

If the sort of "activism" that Roosh is promoting ( = inflammatory posts followed by online harassment) succeeds at anything, it is convincing many people that there continues to be a need for "feminism" at all... 

Because here is the thing:  Until recently, I would not have identified myself first and foremost as a "feminist."  That is to say, until the past couple of years, I took feminism for granted.  Of course, I supported the principles of feminism: equal opportunity, equal responsibility, regardless of gender.  I just figured that those principles had become so deeply embedded and interwoven into the fabric of western culture that I no longer had to pay attention.  The battles had been fought and won by the generation who came of age a decade before me, and my "job" was to just carry these on.  

Frankly, the emergence of the New Misogynists changed all that.  I am no longer complacent, and suddenly the historical struggles of feminism -- all the way back to Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin -- have become fresh, compelling, and relevant to me.  And for that, I suppose, I can thank the gentlemen of the "manosphere."

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Suffragettes

When I was a child, my image of the early 20th century Suffragettes was based on watching Glynis Johns as Mrs. Banks in the 1965 movie "Mary Poppins."

In other words, they were silly, blowsy middle aged ladies in corsets and ridiculous hats, strutting around, smashing windows, chaining themselves to iron gates, and blithely neglecting their domestic responsibilities.  (Never fear, by the end of "Mary Poppins", Mrs. Banks has seen the error of her ways.)

However, the resurgence of the New Misogynists -- many of whom would frankly like to return to a pre-suffrage America -- has made me more curious about, and appreciative of, the ladies of the Suffrage Movement. 

You can watch Hilary Swank and Frances O'Connor in an HBO movie, Iron Jawed Angels", playing the respective roles of Alice Paul and Lucy Burns.

By the end of the film, both women have endured relentless mockery, betrayal by the competing "old guard" women's party, the corruption of law enforcement and congress, incarceration as political prisoners, beatings and torture. The scenes depicting forced feedings are particularly horrifying.  Ultimately, of course, Paul and the single plank National Woman's Party triumphed:  The 19th Amendment granted American women the right to vote in 1920.  

"Iron Jawed Angels" is not a great film.  I must admit I'm not a huge fan of Swank's onscreen persona; she always reminds me of a camp counselor with her toothy grin and endless, intense enthusiasm.  I'm also getting a bit tired of seeing Anjelica Huston cast as "the villainess."  And I found the use of contemporary songs in the sound track a distracting anachronism.  There is an entirely unnecessary "love interest" of course -- I guess so the audience won't assume Burns and Paul, quel horreur, were lesbian lovers?  However, the movie is fairly unique in its telling of an important and seldom-taught piece of history, and it reminds those of us who have been following the New Misogynists what a return to "the good old days" would look like.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Spete Tells It Like It Is

Over on, a guy who goes by "spete" (that is, I assume it's a guy) posted the following comment, immediately garnering many "likes" and positive comments from a handful of female readers:

Men's Rights Activism is one of those things that sounds reasonable in theory and is a complete fucking disaster in practice, kind of like Communism. In theory sure, someone should probably keep an eye out for every group, including this one particular group that has been in charge of pretty much everything for the entirety of human civilization. Just because their group has had the vast majority of political and social power throughout history doesn't mean that individual men might not be getting screwed over from time to time, it sounds perfectly reasonable to have someone looking out for their interests too.

Unfortunately in practice it's just a collection of the craziest, bitterest, stupidest, most batshit groin-grabbingly bonkers hateful misogynist assholes that can be found on the internet who spend 100% of their time alternating between poor pitiful me sobbing and screaming about what horrible bitches all women everywhere are. These guys are a hemorrhoid on the puckered anus of the internet. Even furries are a less embarrassing community than those mutants.

Another male commenter, GiovanniBattistaFidanza, professes bewilderment at the MRA phenom:

What are these guys whining about? Like 99% of all my interactions with women have been fine. They're pretty accommodating, they seem mostly friendly, even when I'm off my face. The only time I've had any stink-eye thrown my way was when I was being horrible a.k.a. hilarious. Women pose absolutely zero threat to me, and it's not the worst thing in the world having a few around every so often.

Reading these comments gives me hope...