The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘Women’ Category

Hello Widdershins! What a week. As usual, the Beltway press was salivating and the pundits were putting debt default countdown clocks on every show because McConnell Said The Republicans Wouldn’t Vote to Raise the Debt Ceiling OMG! We’re all going to dieeeeeeeee!

But that didn’t happen, mainly because the Democrats threatened to nuke the filibuster. Apparently, McConnell didn’t think Manchin and Sinema would withstand the pressure from the rest of the caucus, who all want to do SOMETHING about the 60-vote rule, in this very dire situation. McTurtle blinked, and 11 Republicans voted to raise the debt ceiling. And some members of his own Party are shaking their heads. Lady Lindsey, Ted Cruz and (of course!) der Drumpfenfuhrer are calling it capitulation. On the Democratic side, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer mildly and rightfully criticized all Republicans for bringing the U.S. to the point of financial ruin to try to win some pathetic partisan advantage. [Thanks for facepalming behind him, Joe Manchin – I don’t even have words at this point.]

Upon receiving bad reviews from the left and the right, McTurtle went on offense to try to make himself look less weak. In an embarrassing letter to President Biden, he sputtered in hypocritical fauxrage, lambasting Schumer and making hollow threats. Yeah Mitch, we know. You’re very powerful. Do you need some warm milk?

“[Schumer’s] tantrum encapsulated and escalated a pattern of angry incompetence from Senator Schumer … this childish behavior only further alienated the Republican members who helped facilitate this short-term patch. It has poisoned the well even further.”

Democrats argue it was McConnell who poisoned the well by refusing to co-operate with raising the debt limit, a step they took repeatedly with Donald Trump in power. Experts say a US default would be catastrophic for the global economy.

McConnell insisted: “In light of Senator Schumer’s hysterics and my grave concerns about the ways that another vast, reckless, partisan spending bill would hurt Americans and help China, I will not be a party to any future effort to mitigate the consequences of Democratic mismanagement.”

This is, of course, complete Kentucky Derby horse pucky. I’m sure you all know this, but I feel compelled to point out that all of the spending McConnell claims to be upset about has already been authorized! Indeed, $7T of it came from the maladministration of The Former Guy, and even if the Democrats hadn’t passed ANY spending bills in 2021, the ceiling would still have to be raised. This means that trying to prevent the debt ceiling from being raised doesn’t have any impact on future Democratic spending. At all.

The way this went down proves that the Rethugs are indeed terrified that the Democrats will alter the filibuster in some way, robbing them of any power whatsoever, and that McTurtle, despite all the ink and screen time the pundits give him, is not immune to that threat.

Let’s see what happens when the codification of Roe v. Wade, passed on a party line vote in the House in late September, comes before the Senate. Will the Democrats have the same energy to protect these existential threats to the health of hundreds of millions of Americans, as they did to protect existential threats to the economy? Will they finally nuke the filibuster?

When women’s rights are on the table, McConnell is armed with thousands of years of white supremacy on his side to defeat them. The Beltway press and punditry are already saying the House bill has no chance in the Senate. I sincerely hope they’re wrong, again.

Open thread, as always. DYB, this musical selection is for you!

Good Weekend Widdershins!

From the past few weeks of live hearings on the soon to be impeached mango moron, aka El caudillo del mar-a-lago (h/t to Charles Pierce) one thing we have seen has been the appearances and testimonies of very strong and self-assured women.  From the appearance of Fiona Hill, to Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, to Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan, and even to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Don’t mess with me) we’ve seen images of strong, intelligent, and professional women.  Women who had no problems taking on the insulting clowns on the Republican side during those hearings.

Let’s take a look at some songs about confident, self-assured women.

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This has been a short post Widdershins because this is college football championship weekend.  Not only is it the SEC championship game between LSU and Georgia, there are championship games for the Big 12, Big 10, the ACC and other conference championship games.  In other words, I’m going to get carpal tunnel from hitting the clicker so much.  Oh and I put fresh batteries in it too.

Allons les Tigres!

Open thread of course.

 

One of the side effects of all the discussion around including transwomen in women’s sports has been the regular repetition that women are slower and weaker and can’t compete with the male-bodied. I wanted to add a biologist’s view on that and then mention something I saw about ultramarathoners.

So I’ll start with women being smaller, weaker, and all the rest.

When I was young and foolish I once asked my biology teacher why it was that way. It seems to cause nothing but problems. She pointed out that female physiology and anatomy puts its first priority on producing the next generation. Take for instance menstruation. If you have that level of internal bleeding in any other organ, male or female, you’re in the emergency room. Women’s physiology can withstand it to the extent that some women can even run marathons at the same time.

Males, on the other hand, expend very little physical capital in producing the next generation. In nature’s cold calculations, that means they’re expendable. You don’t need very many of them and you’ll still have a next generation. The tribes that survived the most were the ones where males used that expendability in the service of the tribe: they did the dangerous jobs of defense against other people and wild animals. Obviously, for that task, you’ll last longer if you’re big, fast and strong.

But wouldn’t women last longer too, by the same logic, if they were big and fast and strong? No, for a very simple reason. All that muscle and large skeleton and higher basal metabolism takes calories to maintain. For most of human history, calories were in short supply.

A pregnant or nursing woman with male athletic abilities would have a physiology that required way more calories per day, on the order of over 4000, instead of the 3000 or so she needs if she’s woman-sized. Interestingly enough, athletic men have caloric requirements of around 3000 too.

So the system as evolution worked it out for us is that both sexes have similar peak needs and can survive under similar conditions. Some of the peak work they do differs, but the overall requirements are the same. That allows them to live together in groups, which has lots of survival value itself, instead of living like two different species that have different requirements.

As for the problems caused by strength differences, it’s worth remembering that from an evolutionary standpoint, no tribe would last very long if the bear-fighters in it decided to use their strength to damage the next generation instead of help it. Hurting the mothers of it does exactly that. Evolutionary biologists call that reduction in offspring “reducing evolutionary fitness,” and a very small reduction is enough to wipe out a species.

Misogyny is a luxury available only to rich species.

Point 1 is that women push their bodies and physical abilities to a level like that of elite athletes, with the difference that most women do childbirth and nursing, but plenty of men don’t put large demands on their bodies at all. The weakness people keep yammering on about is pretty much limited to a few specific activities that men excel in.

Point 2 is that the usual solution to significant differences in sporting ability is to segregate the participants into different classes. There are youth leagues and seniors’ events. There are eight (8!) classes in boxing separated by approximately eight pounds, just a bit over three and a half kilos. And there are men’s sports and women’s. Only in the latter case do some people claim that large differences in bone and muscle mass don’t matter. They’ve decided only testosterone levels must approach those found in women. That’s particularly odd given that, for instance, in a sport like boxing fighters will try to dehydrate themselves to pass as a lower weight class and then have the advantage of an extra few pounds of mass (not muscle, just water) during the fight itself.

It’s actually more than odd since scholarships, prize money, or college tuition can be at stake. Taking those away from women on grounds that aren’t applied in any male classes of sport smacks of misogyny.

And, last, point 3. The much-ballyhooed business of being weaker. Turns out that’s not true in some very demanding sports. Are women better ultra-endurance athletes than men? asks Sophie Williams.

“He [Dr Nicholas Tiller, a senior lecturer in applied physiology at Sheffield Hallam University] said that in ultra-endurance races, athletes are never working close to their maximum capacity. It is much more about peripheral conditioning, oxygen efficiency and mental toughness.” …

Fiona Oakes, an ultra-marathon runner and holder of four world records [said,]

“Certainly from when I’ve done races, women manage themselves in a completely different way,” she told the BBC.

Let’s see … tougher, better able to cope with emotions, more stamina … not your usual definition of “weaker,” is it?

Sometimes — well, all the time — I dream of a better world in which we’ve dropped all the stupid boxes nobody really fits in anyway. Instead we’re in awe of the amazing diversity of strengths we have.

Fiona Kolbinger, winner, 2019 Transcontinental Race

Fiona Kolbinger, whose day job is cancer research, wins the 4000km 2019 Transcontinental (Europe) Race 10 hours ahead of the guy in second place. (Photographer unknown)

 

[This started as a comment on a post about this topic. It’s since expanded.]

Good afternoon Widdershins

 

I had a different post in mind for the weekend, but yeah, fuck that.  And no, it wasn’t going to be a GoT thing.

No, after this week it’s time to let your musical voices come out in anger!  Shout it out.

I’ll put up a few songs but I fully expect y’all to provide lots of them yourselves.

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AND LAST:

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Open thread of course but hope you’ll add some of your own in the comments.

 

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Courtesy of Wikipedia

Something really inspiring happened yesterday, Widdershins. It answered a question for me: Why did Cecile Richards, one of the most effective leaders Planned Parenthood has ever had, resign from the organization?

She had to partner with Alicia Garza and Ai-jen Poo to form an exciting new women’s organization, called SuperMajority!!! (Okay, the exclamation points are mine. I am just so excited!) Yes, anyone can join, regardless of gender. You just have to believe in the mission.

In an apparent reference to the #MeToo movement, the organization, which describes itself as multiracial and intergenerational, said that “in the past two years, we’ve seen what happens when women mobilize. But while “women are on the cusp of becoming the most powerful force in America,” Supermajority’s co-founders say that to “fundamentally transform this country” women must work together.

To help further that goal, the group’s leaders say their organization will provide on-the-ground training to help women advocates “get and stay informed on issues that affect their lives,” in addition to creating a “women’s agenda” that will put women’s issues first, “from economic equity and opportunity, to dignity and safety on the job, to keeping families and communities safe.”

While Supermajority’s aim is to push politicians to adopt a “women’s new deal,” as Richards told The Associated Press in a recent interview, the group is not expected to endorse individual candidates.

A “women’s new deal!” Oh, yes, PLEASE!!!

I remember way, way back in our PUMA days, when I suggested that a new Women’s Party should be formed. I wrote:

So let’s review. The Democrats make appropriate noises about women, but don’t follow through when push comes to shove. The Republicans are so backwards as to be laughable.

Isn’t it time we had our own Party, ladies?

I am tired of hearing that the interests of 51% of the population are not important enough to focus on. I am tired of hearing that we should shut up and vote Democrat because they are the lesser of two evils. I am tired of seeing *ssh0les like Obama get away with breaking his promise to pass FOCA first thing and sell out our reproductive rights to pass a bill the Supreme Court will most likely overturn. I am tired of seeing mindless monsters like Jesse Lee Peterson being given airtime by Defenders of the Hateful, Faux News. I am tired of the religiously insane trying to pass laws that will humiliate and kill our sisters.

It will f*cking kill me to vote D on Election Day, even though I won’t be voting for Obama at the top of the ticket. I am frankly weary of the crapulence of the PFKAD. I want a Party that represents women and puts our equality FIRST, that won’t be distracted by the latest shiny object. One Party, one goal: Pass the ERA! Fight for women’s equality in every aspect of our lives. That is what we women need now.

I’m not sure why it’s taken so long for women to wake up. Maybe women got too complacent with Obama at the helm, naively believing their rights would never be threatened again. Maybe we all “knew” that Hillary would win in 2016, so we thought we didn’t need to mobilize separately. But once the giant pile of orange slime slithered his way into the White House, maybe that was the catalyst we needed. The Resistance, MeToo, OnwardTogether…and now this amazing new organization!

After the horrors of the past few years, it seems unbelievable that anything good could come out of our long national nightmare. The latest attack on a temple in San Diego, killing one heroic woman and wounding others, is just one of the many hate crimes inspired by Der Drumpfenfuhrer and his Nazi minions. But maybe if we women (and all genders who support us!) do band together, we can finally turn this country in the direction it so desperately needs to go.

This is an open thread.


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