And now, for a Very Important Message…

…from a very self-righteously indignant dude:

Uh, dude? That’s not a fedora, that’s a trilby. Get your hats straight! And if you’re that irrationally angry about a silly little hat (which, I note, you’re not wearing very well either — either match it to your suit or GTFO), well…who are you to lecture anyone who makes fun of your “class, not swag” d-bag headgear?

(Also, stop with the frantic in-and-out zooming. You’re making me queasy. Pick a focus and stick to it. And for fuck’s sake, learn to hold your camera horizontally, so you don’t get those idiotic black bars down the side, rookie.)

PS: According to David Futrelle, the above video is comedy. Could have fooled me, but oh well. I was already laughing anyway.

Lebensborn, Israeli style?

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Nazi officers overseeing the baptism of a baby of the Lebensborn program. Germany, 1936. Photographer unknown. Source: German Bundesarchiv, via Wikimedia Commons.

That not-so-fine line between “Never Again” and “It’s not fascism when WE do it!” just got blurred yet again. This time, it’s by Israeli sperm-bank users, who are unconsciously copying a particularly dark chapter in German history:

Whereas the norm for women has usually been to find an intelligent Israeli male who’s also, as our love columnist Andria Kaplan would say, “tall, dark and handsome,” an Israeli sperm bank has noted that the new trend is for sperm donated by Israeli combat soldiers, former or present.

While having been active in the IDF seems to be the requisite, you get bonus points if you’ve served in a combat unit.

Ynet reported the news Sunday, after Rambam Medical Center noted the increase in requests for samples from IDF soldiers from women seeking insemination treatment.

“Women build for themselves an ideal profile and picture of who the future father of their children will be,” said Dina Amnipour, Director at the Ramban sperm bank laboratory.

That’s courtesy of the totally-not-ironically named Shalom Life (shalom means peace in Hebrew, remember?), which also celebrates the IDF’s totally-not-indiscriminate killing of Gaza’s Palestinian civilians, fully a quarter of them children. (I’ve totally not got my tongue planted firmly in cheek, here.)

Now, from the Jewish Virtual Library, a reality check, and a reminder of what this all reminds ME of:

“Lebensborn” translates to “wellspring of life” or “fountain or life.” The Lebensborn project was one of most secret and terrifying Nazi projects. Heinrich Himmler founded the Lebensborn project on December 12, 1935, the same year the Nuremberg Laws outlawed intermarriage with Jews and others who were deemed inferior. For decades, Germany’s birthrate was decreasing. Himmler’s goal was to reverse the decline and increase the Germanic/Nordic population of Germany to 120 million. Himmler encouraged SS and Wermacht officers to have children with Aryan women. He believed Lebensborn children would grow up to lead a Nazi-Aryan nation.

The purpose of this society (Registered Society Lebensborn – Lebensborn Eingetragener Verein) was to offer to young girls who were deemed “racially pure” the possibility to give birth to a child in secret. The child was then given to the SS organization which took charge in the child’s education and adoption. Both mother and father needed to pass a “racial purity” test. Blond hair and blue eyes were preferred, and family lineage had to be traced back at least three generations. Of all the women who applied, only 40 percent passed the racial purity test and were granted admission to the Lebensborn program. The majority of mothers were unmarried, 57.6 percent until 1939, and about 70 percent by 1940.

In the beginning, the Lebensborn were taken to SS nurseries. But in order to create a “super-race,” the SS transformed these nurseries into “meeting places” for “racially pure” German women who wanted to meet and have children with SS officers. The children born in the Lebensborn nurseries were then taken by the SS. Lebensborn provided support for expectant mothers, we or unwed, by providing a home and the means to have their children in safety and comfort.

It’s worth noting that this hush-hush program was condemned, and that it ultimately failed, on the grounds of immorality. Not because eugenics was in and of itself immoral (it would take a few more decades for THAT unsavory truth to finally dawn on the world), but because this program overtly encouraged unmarried women to have sex, typically with married men. The men in question were all selected from the ranks of the Nazi military hierarchy; fanaticism and “correct” physical traits were the selection criteria. The result was a spate of illicit affairs that created embarrassment for the men’s existing families, while leaving the other women and their children in poverty and disgrace, with no place else to turn, when the war ended.

Anni-Frid Lyngstad, better known as Frida of ABBA fame, was one of the unhappy children of that program. Her mother became pregnant by a married German army officer in Norway during the dying days of the war. Frida and her mother faced years of shame, and finally had to move to Sweden, as a result of all the cruel gossip and post-war revanchism. (It’s also worth noting that Frida, with her beautiful dark auburn hair, does NOT fit the Nazi ideal of an “Aryan” Nordic blonde. Nor, for that matter, do most Germans, including myself.)

Sperm banks were not yet a thing in the 1930s, if only because the technology to run them had yet to be developed. But if they had been, then the “immorality” question could have been skirted with ease, all in the interests of developing a super-race of super-soldiers for the Thousand-Year Reich. It probably wouldn’t even have mattered if the mothers were complete virgins. In fact, knowing how purity-obsessed the Nazi ideologues were, those prospective Blessed Virgins would likely have been the most highly prized breeders of all.

Just one more thing to think about when you blindly praise the morality of The Most Moral Army in the World™.

Multiple choice quiz time!

1. Please study this photo of a non-routine traffic stop:

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The above man will survive this encounter because:

a) he’s white

b) the pigs are black

c) the pigs are actual pigs, not cops. And calling cops “pigs” is an insult to actual pigs.

d) all of the above.

The reason I posted this, of course, can be found by simply googling “Ferguson”. Or following this tweeterhash, if you have the stomach.

The “most moral army in world” shits all over Gaza. Literally.

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Israeli troops may have (momentarily) withdrawn from the Gaza Strip, but they haven’t really left it. Traces of them still cling to everything they’ve occupied, and not in a good way:

When Ahmed Owedat returned to his home 18 days after Israeli soldiers took it over in the middle of the night, he was greeted with an overpowering stench.

He picked through the wreckage of his possessions thrown from upstairs windows to find that the departing troops had left a number of messages. One came from piles of faeces on his tiled floors and in wastepaper baskets, and a plastic bottle filled with urine.

If that was not clear enough, the words “Fuck Hamas” had been carved into a concrete wall in the staircase. “Burn Gaza down” and “Good Arab = dead Arab” were engraved on a coffee table. The star of David was drawn in blue in a bedroom.

[...]

A handful of plastic chairs had their seats ripped open, through which the occupying soldiers defecated, he said. Gaping holes had been blown in four ground-floor external walls, and there was damage from shelling to the top floor. There, in the living room, diagrams had been drawn on the walls, showing buildings and palm trees in the village, with figures that Owedat thought represented their distance from the border.

“I have no money to fix this,” he said, claiming that his life savings of $10,000 (£6,000) were missing from his apartment. But at least it could be repaired, he acknowledged, gesturing through the broken glass at a wasteland stretching towards the Israel-Gaza border 3km away. “Every house between here and there has been destroyed.”

Charming. Didn’t any of their mothers toilet-train these little terrorists? Couldn’t they at least find a bathroom to do their business in? Did they wash their hands afterwards, or just wipe them down on the curtains? And where were their superior officers when these bandits robbed Ahmed of his life savings? Sucking hummus made by settlers in the Occupied Territories off their thumbs, no doubt.

Yeah, these guys have all the maturity of a diaper-dragging two-year-old. It’s a wonder they can hold a rifle straight. Doesn’t give me much confidence in their ability to wage “surgical” strikes if they can’t even clean up after themselves. Or be trusted to leave a cash stash where they found it. Land is not the only thing these guys are in the business of stealing, it seems.

And how does this “most moral army in the world” treat the children of Gaza? Like this:

Half an hour’s drive north, a similar picture was found at Beit Hanoun girls’ school, taken over by the IDF following the ground operation. Broken glass and rubble littered the floors and stairs. Tables and desks were covered in the abandoned detritus of an occupying army: hardened bread rolls, empty tins of hummus, desiccated olives, cans of energy drinks, bullet casings. Flies buzzed around the rotting food.

Here too, said the school’s caretaker, Fayez, who didn’t want to give his full name, soldiers had defecated in bins and cardboard boxes, and urinated in water bottles. “You will be fucked here” and “Don’t forget it’s time for you to die” were chalked in English on blackboards.

The Guardian notes that the new school year is slated to begin in a little over two weeks. Not much time to repair the damage and clean up the mess, in other words. Assuming that Israel doesn’t start bombing all over again, and smash that school to rubble this time, those girls will be seeing that those “moral” Israeli soldiers are all slobbering for the chance to rape and kill them. And they’ll also be smelling the lingering stench of their ordure.

The Guardian also notes that “The Israel Defence Forces did not respond to a request for comment.” Could it because they haven’t yet made up a hasbaratic “explanation” for why their brave, brave boys felt compelled to shit all over innocent people’s homes and schools?

Golly, talk about leading by example. Yep, that squeaky-clean “only democracy in the Middle East” is sure adept at persuading those barbarous Arabs of its nobility and virtue!

It was 100 years ago today…

Canada’s part in World War I began at the same time as Britain’s: on August 4, 1914, when the latter declared war on Germany after what was considered an “insufficient” response by Germany to a British order not to violate Belgium’s neutrality by passing through it en route to France, against whom Germany had declared war just the previous day.

Contrary to Sir Robert Borden’s claims that it was a war “not for lust of conquest, not for greed of possessions”, it was very much a clash of imperial interests. One has only to look at how many of the key players in the whole ungodly mess were emperors, and how many of them had recently annexed territory that wasn’t theirs (Austria-Hungary), or were claiming to “defend” the same, with an eye to annexing it themselves (Romanov Russia). And one has only to look at how many key players lost their emperors around the war’s end to realize that imperialism-disguised-as-honor was a load of bullshit that the common folk of those lands were no longer buying.

And Canada? Well, we’re still wrestling with that one. We’re no longer “Children of Empire”, a phrase that fell out of fashion after the end of the second world war — a war made inevitable by the unsettled animosities of the first, and especially by the ruinous conditions of the Treaty of Versailles. But back then, according to official accounts, “our boys” were all gung-ho for king and (distant, overseas) country. There was the usual clichéd appeal to honor and glory on this side of the Atlantic, and Anglo-Canadian enlistees were quick to sign on. (Non-Anglo immigrants and their sons, not so much. Especially not those who happened to be German. Perhaps because theirs was a kind of third-class citizenship to begin with, and because on top of this bigotry, they faced a lot of persecution from snobby twits with English names, and so felt, with justification, that the glorious British imperial cause was not worth dying for? Oh, probably.)

And speaking of clichéd appeals, if you were to have a drinking game based on the use of the word “gallant” (often in conjunction with “little Serbia”) in news and propaganda of the day, you’d have died of alcohol poisoning. The British Empire actually couldn’t have cared less about “gallant little” Serbia back in 1908, when it was first annexed by Kaiser Franz Josef. It was just some barbarous little backwater in the Balkans, its annexation largely ignored for a full five years. And it quickly fell by the wayside in the clash of imperialists, aside from its usefulness as a propagandist’s talking point. After all, you couldn’t sell imperial wars as a “noble cause” if you didn’t have a gallant little thing to squabble over, now, could you?

When I was 18 and obsessively devouring Rilla of Ingleside, a sequel to the Anne of Green Gables books (Rilla being the youngest daughter of Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe), I was blown away by all the noble turns of phrase in the passages describing the war. Those phrases, I now know, were not actually the author’s own, but were simply passed along without analysis or criticism. Although L.M. Montgomery was supportive of the war effort in her capacity as a dutiful Presbyterian minister’s wife, she privately agonized and suffered many doubts. Knowing where those howlers come from might not lessen my enjoyment of the overall story (which is, after all, just that of a teenage girl at home, looking on in helpless frustration and fear as her brothers, school chums and boyfriend get caught up in all this imperial background noise), but it kills my willingness to believe that there was anything at all noble about the war. The hearts of the boys and young men who went, yes, they were noble. As were the hearts of the families, friends and girls they left behind. But the emperor-kings and the countries they squabbled over, with no regard whatsoever for the millions of lives their imperialism would cost? Ugh. The wartime saying “lions led by donkeys” is most applicable here.

And frankly, the sheer brutality of the trenches, the barbed wire, the machine guns and the gas-shells is the very opposite of nobility and gallantry, and the destroyer of both. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) got its first official mentions in those days, when it was known as “shell shock” — a bit of a misnomer, since there was a lot more than just shelling to demoralize and destroy the minds of soldiers and civilian casualties alike.

Propaganda initiatives also played a devastating role in the barbarity, ushering in the modern era of psychological warfare. One of the most ignoble of these was the White Feather campaign, in which the “manhood” of those reluctant to enlist and fight was impugned, and women were brainwashed (by a British admiral, no less) into doing the impugning. (The irony of a big, brave man of the elites sending women to do his warmongering work of calling frightened lower-class boys sissies should not be lost on anyone. Neither should that of upper-class suffragists being man-talked into abandoning their work of campaigning for the vote in order to promote a most undemocratic, sexist and classist imperial war!)

While World War I may have given Canada an opportunity to prove its collective mettle (especially at Vimy Ridge, where Canadians notably triumphed after British and French forces both failed), I tend now to regard it as an opportunity largely lost. This country could have gone the same way as Germany and Russia in throwing off the yoke of royalty and empire, and it still has not. And we have been dragged into every bloody mess our “commonwealth” overlords have made ever since. In that sense, the real fight hasn’t ended yet…even now, 100 years after the first time we got dragooned into one of Britain’s imperial disasters. Our democracy and institutions are poorer for it.

Where our collective mettle has done much more for us, it has tended to be in peacetime, at home, and with challenges to the human-rights abuses of our colonial elites. The patriation of our constitution in 1982, along with the attachment of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, was the real marker of our coming of age. And yet our so-called government will not honor or even recognize it, preferring instead to point back to the myth of Vimy Ridge while trampling human rights here and now. We still have so much work to do on this front, and it won’t be glamorous. No bugles will call us to this battle from “sad shires”, only the increasingly atomized and isolated voices of the powerless. And I fear that they will not be heard.

I am bracing myself for a fresh onslaught of “patriotic” tripe about how we “came into our own” 100 years ago when we answered a distant foreign call to war in the affirmative, instead of standing up in opposition to it, like a country that has truly come of age. Once I used to believe the noble lie; no longer. And I’m not holding my breath for much in the way of serious analysis. If there is one thing that “noble” and “gallant” propaganda does very well, it is to drown out all criticism of empires and the twits who run them.

The ironies of the Venezuelan opposition, part 54

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Behold, a white horse. And a pale rider.

Good morning, and welcome to today’s installment of VenOpIronía. Today, we have a very special guest from Miami, where all the flotsam and jetsam of corrupt and failed Latin American right-wing political hackery has a funny way of washing ashore. Please give it up for yet another failed Venezuelan presidential candidate…this one having the unfortunate honor of being the first man to lose the presidential elections to Chavecito himself:

Henrique Salas Römer, ex-governor of the state of Carabobo and fugitive from Venezuelan justice, stated in an interview on a Miami channel that the “Exit” was a movement dreamed up by Leopoldo López, whom he called erratic and politically hasty.

Salas also confirmed that Henrique Capriles Radonski, if he had won the presidential elections, would not have been able to efficiently govern the country, and relegated the most minimal commentary to María Corina Machado, whom he only referred to as a “special” person. In Salas Römer’s words, political inexperience and bad time management have taken their toll on these three personages.

“Capriles is behind the wave, and it overthrew Leopoldo, and María Corina is a very special being,” was the ex-governor’s observation in describing the current situation of the most renowned directors of the the MUD.

Of Capriles, Salas says that he “was lucky, because he has been very fortunate in political life in not having won”, because he would not have been able to accurately exercise the presidency. That would have provoked the immediate loss of his followers and the confidence of an important sector of the citizenry in the opposition.

Salas Römer explained that the “Exit” was Leopoldo López’s initiative. “He took it because there was something which was called “La Movida” (The Happening)…They [Machado and López] were switching from one day to the next, changing the term “La Movida” to “La Salida” (The Exit), which I consider to have been a bit hasty.”

Finally, the fugitive Salas reiterated that he had no part in “The Exit”, as an extremist and radical movement, although he was in agreement with the protest as a means of opposition to the Bolivarian Revolution.

There is no doubt that Leopoldo López, national director of the terrorist cells of Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) is growing more isolated every day in the Venezuelan political panorama.

Translation mine.

You’ll notice in the picture at that top that Salas is mounted on a white horse. That was taken in 1998, during his flopped presidential campaign against Chavecito. Salas is trying hard to look, if not exactly youthful (to compete with handsome young Chavecito, who was quite the hottie in ’98), then at least macho and still relevant. Unfortunately for him, the gambit didn’t pay off. For one thing, a chubby old man waving his cowboy hat on a white horse is still just a chubby old man on a horse. For another, the horse’s name was Frijolito (Little Bean) — not exactly a dignified name for a great leader’s trusty steed. And last but certainly not least, Frijolito — sorry, Salas — was already tainted by virtue of being a member of the old Venezuelan political establishment. The same that the Bolivarian Revolution was then on the verge of sweeping out for good. But Salas, bless his heart, was blissfully unaware that Venezuelan politics had moved beyond clownish, superficial displays by then. And just as blissfully unaware that being a member of the political establishment was not enough to get the vote anymore. On the contrary, it was working against him, as he found out during his trouncing at the polls later that year.

That’s why it’s ironic and hilarious to hear him criticizing these young whippersnappers. All of them are just as much products of the old Punto Fijo/Fourth Republic political establishment as Salas himself, and all of them, no doubt, want the same things as he: an end to all this pesky socialism, and progress, and rich people like themselves being made to pay their taxes, and so on. Salas isn’t objecting to their silly anti-progressive agenda, but rather to their haste. As though a great leap backward could be accomplished by plodding. He’s totally clueless to the fact that these leaders all failed not just by being “hasty” (or “special”, in the case of that specialest of snowflakes Maricori), but because they are all right-wing, and because Venezuela is sick and tired of their shit. Sick of old-order politics-as-usual, in which votes were bought with cans of paint and bags of groceries in the poor neighborhoods; sicker still of neo-fascist putschism, and 24/7/365 hatemongering, violence and death. And sickest of all when it comes to all these talking heads bla-bla-blathering away, proposing “movements” and “happenings” and “exits” that are never going to get off the ground, no matter how many people have to die on either side. For them, Henrique Salas Römer is just a reanimated political corpse, and one that should have been buried long ago. The fact that he has to go to Miami to be taken seriously by a talk-show host should tell you all you need to know.

Honestly, Frijolito the horse stands a better chance of being taken seriously as an opposition political candidate. If he weren’t already tainted by an unfortunate association with Salas’s ass, that is.

Oh, for the love of muff…

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Portrait of Ms. Ruby May, Standing, by Leena McCall. Medium: Oil on canvas.

Can you see what’s wrong with this picture? I can’t.

I hear that it was deemed “pornographic and disgusting”, which I’m sure would come as a laugh to anyone who’s actually seen disgusting pornography (and I have). I have to wonder at the delicate sensibilities of the fuddy-duddies who thought this was too much, while allowing another portrait — fully nude, but more conventionally posed — to pass. (And by “conventionally posed”, I mean with the woman model as passive object of the male gaze.)

Perhaps the problem with this is that Ms. Ruby May has what appear to be henna tattoos, draped like tendrils over her shoulders and collarbones. Perhaps it’s the fact that she’s half-dressed in turn-of-the-last-century drag. Heavens to Betsy, a woman in a vest and knickers! (And no, British readers, that’s not an undershirt and panties, that’s vest as in gentleman’s waistcoat, and knickers as in bockers.) Perhaps it’s the fact that she’s wearing a watch-chain, another masculine touch underscoring the drag sensibility of the whole. Or maybe it’s that pipe (an obvious prop, since there’s no perfumed smoke curling daintily from its bowl.)

No, no, that can’t be it. What is it, then?

Oh my gawd, her pants are undone. And what is that I see peeking out? Why, the lady has pubes! Oh noes!

As everybody knows by now, female pubes are a terrible scourge and a menace to society. They must be scraped away, torn out at the roots, and the roots killed with fire, lest they ever sprout again. As everybody knows, lady-pubes allowed to run rampant will molest little boys. And kill babies!

The only thing worse than the scourge of lady-pubes is the terrible curse of the Elderly Vagina. And if we allow women to proudly possess pubes, even if we don’t all go around showing them off as Ms. Ruby does here — why, what’s next? Will we also be proud of our nether hairs when they turn silver — or, in the case of us natural redheads, purest snowy white?

Oh, the horror. Female self-esteem! The HORROR.

No, no, we can’t have a woman proudly showing her pubes. Not even if she’s painted by Gustav Klimt himself.

Oh wait, that’s allowed. Klimt was a man! It’s quite all right for men to paint women in a sexual context. Those who did so a century ago to public outrage and opprobrium are now revered as Great Artists. But for another woman to do so, as Leena McCall has done? Dangerous! Why, just look at that thing. The woman isn’t passively subjecting herself (and her unshorn crotch) to the male gaze, but actively looking back out at us! And worse yet, she’s doing so with a challenging glint in her eye. A glint that is equal parts “hey, sailor” and “fuck you”. Or, if you want to get all stuffy about it, a look that says both come-hither and go-thither.

No, we can’t have a woman undressing us with her eyes, and perhaps contemptuously withering us with that same sexy gaze. It’s too much like she’s looking right through us, and finding us lacking. Lacking in courage for not being able to handle the sight of a set of female genitalia not artificially made to resemble those of a harmless, helpless newborn baby girl. Lacking in the wit to understand what we are seeing. Lacking in the visionary guts to realize that women can, and MUST, have sexual agency, the right to say yea or nay, I-want-you or I-want-you-not, as we will. Lacking, in short, the understanding that a woman is more than a body, and that she is not just some consumable object, but a person in her own right, and as much so as any man. She has will. She has desires. And why should she not have the explicit right to express all that?

Why doesn’t she, already?

Well, here’s why: We live in gormless times. We have never seen the virgin/whore dichotomy quite so polarized as it is today. Even the Victorian era has nothing on the present. On the one hand, we have every kind of porn, depicting every depraved thing people can do unto one another, with literally no holds barred (including the death-grip on the throat, usually of a woman). On the other, we have something ickier, creepier, more spiritually deadening, and more depraved still: purity balls, where fathers take on the role of surrogate husband to virginal girls, and pledge to “cover” them until they can pass them off, presumably while still virginal, to a suitable real husband. We have Rush Limbaugh slut-shaming Sandra Fluke because that shameless hussy dared to put in a good word for birth-control pills, between fistfuls of OxyContin and Viagra — and nary a word about himself jetting off to sex tours in the Dominican Republic, where child prostitutes are dirt cheap and nauseously easy to find. These guys are all running around with total impunity, ordering women to do as they say, not as they do. And, under protest, we let them. Be it in porn or in purity culture, women are both infantilized and objectified, passed around like bongs at a party, and above all, NEVER allowed to be sexual on their own terms. It is always at the whim of a man, whether a creepy photographer like Terry Richardson (and a creepy businessman like Dov Charney), or a porn director…or the “priesthood holder” of the house, dear ol’ dad himself.

That may be why Ms. Ruby is dressed in old-fashioned men’s clothing, but only halfway. And why the sight of her standing there with undone trousers and no perceptible shame is so “pornographic” and horrifying in this supposedly so much more open day and age — when all of us, if we are honest, will readily admit that we’ve seen a whole lot worse.

The ironies of the Venezuelan opposition, part 53

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“United to push Venezuela along the road to destruction…” That looks about right, eh?

Howdy, folks, and welcome back to VenOpIronía!

Yes, I realize it’s been quiet on this front here lately. Mainly because the oppos have failed in their latest bid for a coup d’état, and the embarrassed silence from them has been deafening…until now. Yup, Majunche’s back, sorta…or at least, he’s back to shooting off his mouth. And what just popped out is doubly humiliating, not just for him, but for Prettyboy Leo and MariCori, ha ha:

The governor of the state of Miranda, and twice-failed opposition presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski, has declared that the project to put an end to the Bolivarian Republic, called “La Salida” (The Exit), proposed by María Corina Machado and Leopoldo López, is a failure.

“The opposition lost,” Capriles said, underscoring the contradictions and confirming the internal divisions in the MUD coalition.

The opposition ex-leader recognized that the so-called “Exit” was rejected by 89% of Venezuelans, according to surveys. This, according to Capriles, could only benefit the Maduro government.

“The only one benefiting was the ruling [PSUV] party…in places where the people are in need, they fear the opposition discourse, they believe it wants to set the country on fire,” Capriles said.

However, it is a public and published fact that the governor of Miranda took part in political rallies in favor of López’s radical proposal, accompanied by López’s wife, Lilian Tintori, and speaking alongside María Corina Machado of the need to emphatically warn the national executive, especially President Nicolás Maduro. His famous phrase was “I will make Miraflores [Palace] tremble”, spoken on Francisco de Miranda Avenue, at the Unicentro el Marqués shopping centre, before a public debate between opposition leaders and the political high command of the Revolution.

Translation mine.

Yup, nothing like the solidarity and unity of the aptly named MUD coalition. When all you’ve got to tie you together is an urge to divide and conquer, you shouldn’t be too surprised when the divided and conquered party turns out to be yours.

Ah well. Maybe another good ol’-fashioned racist lynching will serve to rally the opposition troops. When they get done shivving each other from behind, that is.

Come see me eat nipples!

Y’okay. Now that we’ve got the silliness out of our systems (and the deliberately bad English translations of Bollywood dance numbers), let’s talk a bit about nipples.

Perhaps you’ve seen the Tata Top, and heard of #FreeTheNipple? Yeah, boobs are in the news again. And it’s all because female mammaries are (a) sexualized, and (b) CENSORED.

Oh yeah, and also because (b) is a direct outgrowth of (a). And vice versa.

And because the Puritans are dead, but small-p puritanism still lives in the US, and Canada too, by extension. Even though it’s legal for women to go topless up here, and has been for decades, most of us won’t do it unless we’re strictly among people we love and trust.

And some of us — me, for instance — won’t even do it in our own backyards.

Granted, I have sound health reasons for not taking advantage of our liberal clothing laws. I’m a natural redhead, and that means fair skin that burns easily. I don’t tan for shit, and I don’t want skin cancer, either. So when it gets hot, I tend to run for cover. And let my big, baggy ol’ t-shirts be my shady tents, especially if it’s too hot for bras.

But even if sunburn weren’t an issue, I’d still be reluctant to go out in a bikini top. Never mind one that’s cleverly colored (and printed) to look like bare breasts.

Now, why do you suppose that is?

Well, for starters, I’m very well endowed. Not bragging, but not ashamed of what I’ve got either. I love my bazookas, even though they complicate my life no end.

And yes, they do complicate it. I’ve been sexually harassed even while fully clothed. By strangers. By acquaintances. By people I thought I could trust. And this has been going on for as long as I’ve had boobs at all. Even tiny, barely-budding ones, at the age of 10. Know what that means? It means that for the past 36 years, I’ve been covering up in a vain and useless attempt to ward off unwanted attention, comments, grabs, and general grossness.

It’s like me having boobs gives random guys some kind of licence to get all yucky with ‘em. And that’s why I can’t have a simple, uncomplicated, happy affection for my gazongas.

And it’s not just me. In fact, it’s not even just women who’ve had to face this sort of creepy censorious/sexualized treatment of their bodies. As Scout Willis found out, men once had to fight for the right to go shirtless in public on hot days. And I recall reading that in Spain, during the Franco dictatorship, newspapers had to hire photo-retouchers just to paint undershirts on prizefighters in the sports section, lest Spanish ladies have their modesty offended by the sight of — gasp! — male nipples.

Well, my modesty isn’t offended by the sight of a man’s bare chest. I’ll gladly look at attractive ones, and even think to myself that cool dude so-and-so sure looks hot with his shirt off. I like guys; love them, even. So why should my modesty be affected by the sight of one running around half naked?

In fact, as I’ve pointed out before, what some call “modesty” is nothing more than our right not to be sexually molested. It exists no matter what we wear, how we act, or where we go. But by putting the onus on women to “keep modest” so as not to be molested, it puts the burden on the wrong person. If I could be harassed (as in fact I was) while wearing a puffy coat, baggy jeans, and Doc Martens — and not a speck of makeup — then clearly what I’m wearing or not wearing is not the issue. (For the record, I’ve also been left strangely unmolested while wearing miniskirts.) The blame should be on the harasser, not the harassed. And since I didn’t harass myself, but guys harassed me — gee, you don’t suppose maybe guys could do with a bit of educating, do you?

Nah, of course not. Men are all perfect. Rape culture doesn’t apply to them. Their bodies aren’t sexualized like ours are. It’s we women who have to cover up, worry about how we look, and second-guess ourselves constantly. We have to do it all for them, so they never have to do it for themselves.

And that, pardon the expression, really chafes my tits.

So, here’s my radical thought for the day: Guys, remember that your forefathers had to fight for the right to walk around half-naked where others could see them. And remember, too, that even though your right to seminudity is fully legal and unremarkable, hordes of women aren’t running after you, catcalling you and pawing your body, no matter how effin’ gorgeous it is. There’s a reason for that: We got Nice Girl training. We are taught from an early age not to be rude, forward and unmannerly. But more than that, we know how gross we’d feel if someone did that to us. And we don’t view you as our property. We don’t think you’re there for us to just wipe ourselves on. We think you have a right to be left in peace — to not be touched unless you make it clear that you want us touching you.

And if you reciprocate, and stop making such an idiotic fuss about our boobs, you might in fact be making this world a much better — and cooler — place.

No, of COURSE misogyny is not a problem anymore. Silly ladies!

misogyny-hamster.jpg

Awwww. Isn’t that a cute widdle hammy-wamster? It sure is. A pity that what it stands for isn’t nearly so adorable.

Yes, folks, I’m talking about misogyny today. The M-word. The one that half the population fears, and the other half doesn’t seem to know exists.

The half of the population that fears it isn’t all women. Some lucky ladies are so privileged that they can’t even see misogyny, much less how it affects them, how narrowly it circumscribes every aspect of their lives. The half that fears it is a mixed bag of genders, but what we have that the other half doesn’t is the wits to recognize the monster behind that cute widdle fuzzy golden face. And to dread it, knowing that we are up for one helluva fight.

What must it be like to live on the other side? The privileged side, the one that doesn’t even see the problem? The side that is mostly, but not all, male? The side that has internalized misogyny so the boys will like them better?

Well, here are some clues.

How about the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons, who don’t seem to see a problem if a religious doctor privileges private “conscience” over a woman’s basic human right to complete medical care? Ontario is a big province, and not all of us live in cities where, if one doctor refuses to treat us, we can simply flip through the vast phone book until we find another who will. In rural and northern areas, women often have to travel many miles just to see a doctor at all. What happens if that doctor is one of those who say “Nope, I don’t do abortions or birth control, because God won’t love me if I do”? Where else do you go, when you have to get on a small airplane and fly hundreds of miles south just to see THAT useless halfwit?

Why, you just go home, to your kitchen, like a good little lady. Stay barefoot and pregnant and out of sight. That’s where you go.

But wait, that’s how it is for the half of us with the wits to know and fear misogyny. We’re still trying to figure out how that other half lives. The kind that says we belong in concentration camps and that only a few of us should be kept alive, in semi-starvation, for breeding purposes. Can’t forget about them, can we? After all, they dominate our world, whether we realize it or not.

Oh yeah…about that concentration-camps thing. Did you know Elliot Rodger’s grandfather was among the first to photograph the victims of Bergen-Belsen? I only found that out today, while looking for links to insert in the above paragraph. But wow, that’s one helluva clue. I can see through this that to live on the other side is to be possessed of a very twisted and minimal sense of human decency…and no sense of irony whatsofuckingEVER.

And for those who think there’s no connection between a young suicidal megalomaniac, Nazi death camps, and doctors who refuse to treat women as fully adult, autonomous human beings, capable of making their own medical decisions and with a right to expect doctors to abide by them, let me remind you here and now that the Nazis didn’t believe in abortion either. And that they rewarded women for bearing lots of children, Quiverfull-style.

My own paternal grandmother got a Mother’s Cross for having four children — and the irony of that hit home when my grandpa dared to complain about how Germany had gone to shit since the Nazis were in power. He got called up on the carpet by the Gestapo, and the first words out of the officer’s mouth were “Sie haben vier Kinder…” (“You have four children…”)

It was a straight-up death threat. The Gestapo man was saying, in not so many words, that if my grandpa wanted his four acceptably-German children to live, he’d better shut the fuck up about the Nazis. If he’d made good on that threat, my dad would not be here today, and neither would I.

And, mind you, these were the same Nazis who set up “life camps” for unwed mothers to spawn the next generation of “pure”, “Aryan” denizens of the “Thousand-Year Reich”.

I’m sorry, I’m not doing a very good job at all of getting how these misogynists think, am I? It’s all hurting my poor widdle lady-brain. And so early in the morning, too.

Guess I’d better toddle off to my kitchen and start cooking lunch, now.