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Archive for the ‘misogyny’ Category

Do you remember this article from a couple of years back? It was big in the media for a few days. Want to fight climate change? Have fewer children.

Having a child contributes some thirty times as much to warming the planet as the next closest action an individual can take: living without a car.

 

Climate change impact of having a child: each one adds 58.6 tons of CO2 equivalents per year. Using a car adds 2.4 tCO2e per year.

 

 

And yet, amidst all the discussion of air travel and bicycling and electric vehicles, there’s a ban on mentioning population control.

Another example I came across recently was in a very encouraging article about greening the Sahel in Africa.

… {Farmers had a] cheap, effective way to regreen the Sahel. They did so by using simple water harvesting techniques and protecting trees that emerged naturally on their farms.

Garrity recalls walking through farms in Niger, fields of grains like millet and sorghum stretching to the sun planted around trees, anywhere from a handful to 80 per acre. “In most cases, the trees are in random locations because they sprouted and the farmer protected them and let them grow,” he says. [Depending on species] [t]he trees can be cut for fuel… They can be pruned for livestock fodder. Their leaves and fruit are nutritious.

One tree, Faidherbia albida, goes dormant during the wet season when most trees grow. When the rains begin, the trees defoliate, dropping leaves that fertilize the soil. Because they have dropped their leaves, the trees do not shade crops during the growing season. Their value had long been recognized by farmers….

[But] “He laments that work is moving too slowly. With the Sahel’s population doubling in 20 years, Reij says regreening needs to be finished within 10 to 15 years.”

He makes it sound as if this doubling is a great force beyond human influence, like a solar storm or a meteor strike. It’s not. It’s merely human reproduction. We’re helpless only because the subject is so untouchable it can’t even be said out loud.

What’s up with that?

I think the answer lies in the two possible trajectories to control births.

One is coercive. China’s one child policy is perhaps the most famous recent example. Since women are the ones giving birth, you have to control women. You punish them if they have too many children. You enforce abortions on mothers. Or, if you’re a Nazi in the 1930s who wants lots of blond babies and no browner ones, you try to enforce a eugenics program on women. You sterilize gypsies or the disabled or Jews while giving “your” women the option to be incubators or nothing.

All those methods involve hideously totalitarian pre-emption of individual choice and body autonomy (like the supporters of forced pregnancy, but we’re more used to them so it doesn’t feel as outlandish). But on the bright side, they don’t require any changes to misogynist and patriarchal social systems.

The other trajectory is to give women control over their own reproduction. Wherever that is done, birth rates drop dramatically. They may not fall all the way to replacement levels, but they get much closer than any other method. Giving women control works, it works sustainably and long term.

But.

But it deprives society of its main tool to control all aspects of women’s lives. Your reliable producers of the next generation, your unpaid domestic servants and nannies and handholders and caregivers, gradually find other things to do with their lives. Members of the upper caste might have to do their own dishes. Your whole system falls apart.

And therein lies the rub. All our current problems are made much worse by overpopulation. Dealing with that requires treating women like human beings. Which gives the patriarchy the vapors.

So suddenly respect for medieval religions and medieval cultures make it impossible to promote birth control. They might be offended!

There’s not the same action-limiting respect when it comes to things that serve the caste system. Porn is all over the place even though the Pope disapproves. But breastfeeding is too avantgarde for the delicate sensibilities of men on Facebook. Nor is there ever equivalent concern that women object to being erased.

The discrepancy has a name. Sady Doyle wrote about it almost three years ago, Trump, Putin, Assange, and the politics of sexism. Supposedly all three are exponents of radically different systems, and yet they have a lizard brain-level understanding that they’re on the same side. Her focus is social and political effects, but the same allergy to anything kind or well-meaning is everywhere.

Recently, reactionaries have made The Misogyny of Climate Deniers obvious by their revolting comments against a 16 year old who’s done nothing except use the full weight of all the evidence to disagree with them.

The connection has to do with a sense of group identity under threat, … both by developing gender equality—Hultman pointed specifically to the shock some men felt at the #MeToo movement—and now climate activism’s challenge to their way of life, male reactionaries motivated by right-wing nationalism, anti-feminism, and climate denialism increasingly overlap, the three reactions feeding off of one another. … Climate change used to be a bipartisan concern, the first Bush senior presidency famously promising to tackle global warming. But as conservative male mockery of Thunberg and others shows, climate politics has quickly become the next big battle in the culture war—on a global scale.

Misogyny isn’t the only motivation of reactionaries. There’s greed and garden variety hatred in there, too, but misogyny is the core. It’s misogyny, not greed or racism or ordinary hatred, that makes men fear weakness more than anything. And fear of weakness is what ties together the worst of what they do.

They think strong man governments are a good idea. They like guns and “defence” — war, really, so long as somebody else dies in it. Peace is only tolerable “through strength.” The reactionaries are against anything that doesn’t shout big power. They like nukes because gigawatts! dangerous! The truth is that even building a new gigawatt nuke every two months from 2010 till 2050 would solve only a small part of climate change and energy needs. Meanwhile renewables could provide all our energy by 2050 for a fraction of the cost and without radioactive waste. But distributed power, whether that’s rooftop solar or real democracy, strikes reactionaries as la-la limp-wristed hippie crap. Likewise, restraint against environmental destruction is pathetic weakness in the face of hard choices.

And weakness is the worst thing you can show. They (“They”) come and take your man card away. It’s the only thing that gave you any standing and it’s gone.

That is a future so horrible it’s worth burning the world down to avoid it. It must never be spoken lest saying its name calls it forth.

Crossposted from Acid Test.

It looks like you won’t have a problem finding a place to get your feet on the street today…and after today.

#StopTheBans Actions

This Tuesday, May 21st at noon local time at statehouses, town squares, and courthouses across the nation–with other events throughout the week–we will show up to speak out and fight back against this unconstitutional attempt to gut Roe and punish women.

Plan an action or RSVP to one near you now. We’ll send you more information on tips to make the most of your event.

As Our Girl Hillary said at the Women in the World Summit in 2012:

“We need to be as fearless as the women whose stories you have applauded, as committed as the dissidents and the activists you have heard from, as audacious as those who start movements for peace when all seems lost.”

This is an open thread.

The talk about fetal personhood bills, and especially Lauren Kelley’s point about the activists turning a health issue into a criminal one, got me thinking. So much so that I actually wrote her some feedback, which now, I guess, I’m going to turn into an open letter of feedback. (There’s a whole series in the NYTimes, a newspaper I’m terminally annoyed with, so I have most of this secondhand from public twitter feeds.)

Pregnancy is a health issue if women are people.

But they really can’t be people to those pushing fetal personhood. If women were actual humans in their minds, the pro-fetus crowd would know that personhood does not mean a guaranteed right to erase women.

After all, if an adult man is about to die for lack of a kidney transplant, we don’t send tissue-typing trucks to roam the streets until a match is found for him and the required spare kidney is extracted. Yet it’s a parallel case. A person (everyone agrees an adult man is a person) will die unless he can use another person’s kidney. If you wanted an exactly parallel case, the healthy person would be drafted to dialyse his blood for nine months. We don’t do that either.

That’s for the simple reason that the counterparty really is a person in that example. In the case of pregnancy, it’s necessarily a woman which somehow makes everything different.

But it isn’t. The only thing that’s different is that plenty of people are not used to thinking of women as actual human beings. They’re brood mares first, humans, maybe, second.

The real assumptions behind all this are important because they determine the ground on which you argue. Remember the old Roe v Wade days and the anti-choicers calling themselves “pro-life”? The size of the joke on us is becoming clearer by the day. At the time too few wanted to hear that accepting bogus terminology ceded the high ground before we’d even begun to fight. Now here we are, pleading for our lives, not our rights.

We need to be as clear as we can about the real terms of the argument. This isn’t really about anyone’s health. If it was, we’d have had those tissue-typing vans driving around ever since organ transplantation was feasible. This isn’t even about whether fetuses are persons. It’s about whether women are persons.

Have you all seen this video of Lady Gaga on Stephen Colbert’s show? It’s gone viral. For the words about the Kavanaugh confirmation, start around 3 minutes in.

A bell rang deep within me when Gaga said that trauma changes the brain; that the brain puts the pain in a box and shuts it, so we can survive. I realized that, since the day Drumpf stole the Presidency, I have been living with the pain of that day, and that box, while shut, has had some leaks.

Since November 8, 2016, I have lost some of my sparkle, my joie de vivre. My writing has become more direct, more bland, more generic. Satire is impossible; nothing is more absurd than the fantasy world the Republicans are trying to force down our throats. The plays I used to write don’t come out any more, as I have trouble finding humor in almost anything.

My brain functions more slowly now…I struggle to form sentences quickly and speak smoothly, as I used to. I lose focus at work, because my full heart isn’t in it. I am more prone to depression, to tears, to anxiety.

I’m a natural extrovert; yet, I’ve become more retiring, more reluctant to meet new people. I’m afraid any new person I meet may have voted for the Mango Moron, and I just don’t want people like that in my life. I don’t want to speak to them; I don’t want to sympathize with them; I don’t want to hear their excuses for voting for a racist, misogynist, authoritarian thug.

I have been changed, while the box strained and bulged and the pain and sorrow leaked through.

When the story about Dr. Ford broke, that box opened for me. All the psychic trauma of the past two years came rushing out, along with the memories of my own experiences with threatening men and sexual harassment. Online, I read countless, horrifying stories of women and men, recounting their own #MeToo moments.

Yet as terrible as this was to go through, something unexpected happened after Kavanaugh was confirmed.

I felt better. No, not just better: I felt my brain start to work again. The pall over my emotions lifted. I suddenly realized what was wrong, and that clarity gave me the strength to deal with it.

I was changed again.

Make no mistake, we are living in dreadful times. Drumpf now says he won’t fire Rosenstein. Why should he? Rosenstein helped rig the sham FBI investigation that Flake and Collins used as an excuse to vote for Kavanaugh, and Kavanaugh is the guy Trump thinks will fix any consequences of the Mueller investigation for him and his children. More than that – he will help get all of Drumpf’s dreadful, un-American initiatives past court challenges that have, so far, held them up. The Muslim ban. The transgender ban in the military. Family separation. Babies in jail. Overturning Roe v. Wade. Killing the Affordable Care Act. Deporting legal immigrants back to their “shithole countries.” Etc., etc., etc.

But there’s nothing we can do about that now. We all did everything we could, and we caused a lot of “good trouble,” as John Lewis called it. In the end, the Republicans narrowly managed to elevate their pet sociopath to the Supreme Court.

Now, we focus like lasers on getting out the vote on November 6th. Because if we can get control of Congress, impeachment will be on the table – not just for Drumpf, but for Kavanaugh.

I’m sharp, I’m feeling everything, and I’m ready to work hard for the #BlueTsunami.

How about you?

This is an open thread.

Getty Images photo Ford.jpg

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

I must confess that watching the Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh testimonies left me feeling hopeless. I don’t know if I’ve felt this depressed since election night and inauguration. What we saw was such a horrific display of partisanship from Republicans, such naked thirst for power, such terrifying absence of decency, that I don’t know if we can ever truly recover from where we are now. And, frankly, the weak performance of Democrats against Kavanaugh revealed that we don’t have strong leadership. Yes, there may be flashes of it here and there, but in the second half of the day Democrats surrendered all control to Republicans. Lindsey Graham goes on a full frontal attack on Democrats and their only response was Cory Booker calling Graham his friend. Every Republican attacked Diane Feinstein. And Democrats remained silent. Democrats kept hammering on about the FBI investigation: important yes, but the point was made already and repeatedly, and anyone who mentioned it after Dick Durbin drew blood by getting Kavanaugh to fall speechless on the subject was wasting time. They let so many things fall through the cracks because they harped on that single issue. They also kept quoting Kavanaugh’s former roommate who said he saw Kavanaugh get very drunk many times: yes, we heard it and Kavanaugh dismissed that story pretty easily. Yet they kept returning to it Kavanaugh swatted them away just as easily each time. It was a waste of time.

Democrats should have pursued Rachel Mitchell’s questions about the July 1st party on Kavanaugh’s calendar – which perfectly matches Dr. Ford’s description of the party where she was assaulted, including the guest list and the timeframe where she ran into Mike Judge in a grocery store approximately 6 weeks later. The Republican prosecutor seemed to accidentally stumble on the actual date of the party where Ford was attacked! She had Kavanaugh read the first and last names of all his friends who were going to attend this party. The names match everyone Ford names, including the man Kavanaugh’s friends tried to pin the assault on (but who denied any involvement in a letter to the judiciary committee.) The date of the party – July 1st – also matches Ford’s story that she ran into Mike Judge in a grocery store approximately 6 weeks later. But because she wasn’t sure when the party was, knowing when Judge worked in the store would help. Well, Mike Judge wrote in his book that worked in that grocery store in August of that year. It matches perfectly the time-frame Ford laid out. A party Kavanaugh attended, the guest list of friends that matches Ford’s list of those present, and the 6 weeks before seeing the eye-witness in a store. Rachel Mitchell – intentionally or not (probably not) – laid this out for Democrats. Democrats did nothing with this information. As soon as Mitchell asked these questions about the July 1st party, Grassley called for a recess. They returned and Graham went for the Democrats’ jugular. Mitchell was not heard from again. Every Republican after that went for the same jugular. And Democrats did nothing. They didn’t fight back, they did not pursue the line of questioning that quite literally may reveal the date – on Kavanaugh’s own calendar – of the party where Ford was assaulted.  The hearings ended as a disaster for Democrats.

Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony was astonishing. With strength and courage she arrived to tell the truth. And she did. What was striking about her answers is that she didn’t try to be right. She knew there were gaps in her story, she willingly acknowledged the limitations of memory. Contrast this with every Kavanaugh testimony: in his desire to be right and perfect, Kavanaugh lies. He lies easily and repeatedly. Republicans don’t care that Kavanaugh has committed perjury numerous times already. But we know that he has. And we know that Dr. Ford has not. This extraordinary woman has upended her entire life – the persecution of Dr. Ford will continue forever – because she wanted to do what is right. She faced the lions and went in. She did it for all of us. She said that her greatest fear is that she would do all this, put her family and herself through hell and it would not matter. She is probably right, that Kavanaugh will still be appointed to the Supreme Court. But her testimony matters. It matters to countless women and men who have been abused and who have been too afraid to speak up. People who have blamed themselves for the attacks. Christine Blasey Ford showed us that sometimes we must do what is right, even when we know it may not make the difference we seek in the moment. Dr. Ford and her courage do not exist in a vacuum. She has already changed the lives of countless victims of sexual abuse. May she take some comfort in that. And may we all hope to have that kind of courage.

“Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

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