Carina Vogt’s twofold victory

So, women can’t ski-jump, eh? Tell that to this awesome German, who’s as good as any man…and proved it yesterday:

Insanity! For the first time in Olympic history, women were allowed to ski-jump. And then a German police officer candidate won the gold! 22-year-old Carina Vogt of Schwäbisch-Gmünd wasn’t even a favorite. She was even happier after her two jumps, of 97 and 103 metres.

Nobody could grasp it. Carina Vogt landed the best jump, with 103 metres, on her first run. Even commentator Dieter Thoma forgot himself: “Lick me!” hollered the former ski-jumping champ into the microphone, and from there on in, couldn’t stop grinning. He didn’t have to, either, because after the strong-nerved policewoman’s second jump, the leaderboard showed what no one had expected: Gold for Germany!

Even the winner was in a state of shock. As the first reporters stuck their microphones under Carina Vogt’s nose, she could only cry. It was a big, surprising win, and that in more ways than one.

“This is a great moment for equal rights,” said ARD sports host Gerhard Delling of the first ladies’ ski-jumping event in Olympic history. Then a short report showed how hard the women had fought to be there on the jumping-ramp. In 2009 they had even sued the International Olympic Committee for discrimination, because the men’s federation didn’t want to let the women jump at the 2010 Olympic winter games in Vancouver.

In Sochi, things were finally ready. The only sad notes: Those who had fought against the IOC four years ago for women’s ski-jumping, landed in last place. World champion Sarah Hendrickson of the USA was battling a torn knee ligament; her countrywoman Lindsey Van had bad luck with the wind. And the German, Ulrike Gässler, who also took part in the protest, was weakened by the flu.

Carina Vogt knows how much she owes these pioneers: “Before me, two generations of female ski-jumpers brought the sport to where it is today.” Yesterday, she did them all proud.

Translation mine.

Meanwhile, even as history was being made in his own country, some Russian backwardnik was saying this. Guess he never heard that women’s uteri don’t dislodge that easily.

And that a good pair of ovaries can take you more than a tenth of a kilometre through the air.

If “misandry” were a real thing…

Shyness: not a human rights violation.

wongene-daniel-kim

Sorry, Men’s Rightsers. If you were hoping to make a test case for your ideology out of this guy, the facts of the matter have just made a hash out of it:

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed a complaint by University of Toronto student Wongene Daniel Kim, who accused his professor of discriminating against him as a male when she docked him marks for not coming to class because he was too shy to be the only guy.

The second-year health science major arrived at the opening of a Women and Gender Studies course for which he had signed up in the fall of 2012 — “It had spaces left and fit into my timetable” — only to discover a room full of women and nary a man in sight.

“I felt anxiety; I didn’t expect it would be all women and it was a small classroom and about 40 women were sort of sitting in a semicircle and the thought of spending two hours every week sitting there for the next four months was overwhelming,” said Kim, 20, adding he manages a part-time job with women because there are also other men.

“I’m generally a shy person, especially around women, and it would have been a burden if I had had to choose a group for group work.”

He didn’t stay for class — that day, or ever — but continued in the course and asked Professor Sarah Trimble to waive the 15 per cent of the mark earned by class participation and attendance.

She refused.

Which is only fair. Everyone is expected to do the same work; a gender-based pass for Kim wouldn’t have been fair to his classmates.

In other words: The work women have done over the past few decades to eliminate sex-based discrimination hasn’t created a situation of reverse discrimination; it has created, rather, a level playing field, where men and women are expected to work together no matter the gender ratio, and where marks are based on how well they do, not on what reproductive plumbing they have.

So far, so good. But then this happened:

Kim got poor marks on assignments and ended up failing the course, which he said he found frustrating after spending the money on course materials.

He asked Trimble to reconsider his mark. When she refused, he complained to the Human Rights Tribunal that she was penalizing him because he was male.

Which, clearly, was NOT the case. Class attendance counted for 15% of the mark — no exceptions.

And if he was being discriminated against on account of gender, why was there not a sign on the door reading “NO MEN”? Or a marker on the course calendar indicating “Female students only”?

Oh yeah, that’s right: because THAT would have been sex discrimination. And that would be, if not outright illegal, certainly unethical.

Kim said he had been unaware how poorly he was doing until it was too late because Trimble didn’t post marks on the course website. She handed assignments back in class.

“We live in a digital era, why couldn’t she have posted the marks online?” Kim said in an interview. “I believe if you want to attract more males to these courses, you have to work with them. My request for accommodation was reasonable.”

Except that no one else was asking for special accommodations; everyone else was happy to comply with the course requirements, and didn’t find them at all unreasonable.

Given all the whining from the “manosphere” about how women are always expecting special treatment (with lowered expectations, natch), it’s hilarious and ironic that when someone does demand just that on the basis of sex, it turns out to be a male. And he’s suffering from the very affliction that supposedly makes women too delicate to live in a man’s world: shyness.

“The applicant has not satisfied me that his claimed discomfort in a classroom of women requires accommodation under the (Ontario Human Rights) Code,” wrote adjudicator Mary Truemner. “He admitted that his discomfort is based on his own ‘individual preference’ as a shy person . . . and stated he thought they (the women) would not be willing to interact with him because of his gender.”

This was “merely speculation as he never gave the class, or the women, a chance,” wrote Truemner, vice-chair of the tribunal.

Kim had no evidence of being “excluded, disadvantaged or treated unequally on the basis of” his gender, she said.

This is true. Kim was the only person keeping Kim from attending on the basis of gender.

I can attest that classroom participation was actually a great help in overcoming my own once crippling shyness. Many third-year classes were small seminar-style courses, in which the big, anonymous lecture hall of the first and second years was gone, and the students and prof all just sat around a square of tables, discussing things like Old Norse sagas and Beowulf. Despite the initial linguistic challenges (imagine having to learn two new languages in one year!), I found that I was finally in my element. After that, I was able to speak up anywhere, without stage fright.

Here’s another salient point: I also availed myself of the university’s counselling service. That’s what it’s there for: to help troubled students before they’re forced to drop out. I got tested, found out that introversion is natural and normal, and that you can learn to live with it, and yes, even succeed with it. And I did.

It’s a matter of being able to distinguish between the political and the personal. And to not hide behind the one when the other is the real issue.

In this case, there was no discrimination on the basis of sex. Kim didn’t recognize in time that his own shyness was tripping him up. Maybe next time, he’ll seek help. It’s a lot easier to go in for a few counselling sessions than it is to sit through the ignominy of a failed human-rights complaint, when all’s said.

L’affaire Hollande: What “sophistication” costs a woman

Bit of mood music, maestra:

Zut alors! You think François Hollande is in hot water, thanks to his affair with an actress? Bof. He’s doing just fine. His consequences, personal and political, will be minimal, thanks to his adroit cowardice, and especially his gender. But for the women? Well, that’s another story…as EMMA’s Alice Schwarzer writes:

We feminists have fundamentally questioned marriage and advised women against it. At least earlier, when marriage placed men at a judicial advantage, and women at a disadvantage. Now we have to ask if we shouldn’t in fact urgently advise women to marry, at least in some cases. For example, in the case of the French president, François Hollande, 59, and his life companion, Valérie Trierweiler, 48.

What happened?

On January 11, the French gossip magazine, Closer, revealed that the president was having an affair with Julie Gayet, 41. In the meantime, we know that the story has been going on for over two years. The president would meet with the actress in an apartment a few hundred metres from the Elysée Palace. He would ride there on the back of a motor scooter, hanging on to his bodyguard, whom he sometimes ordered to leave croissants at the door in the mornings. Spicy extra detail: The apartment belongs to an actor who is currently in jail due to his connections to the Corsican Mafia.

On January 13, the tabloid, Le Parisien, revealed that Trierweiler had been hospitalized for a “nervous breakdown”. But just two days later, she made it known that she was ready to forgive him. He, however, remained silent, and only visited her sickbed days later.

The rumors of the affair had been running for months through Paris. But she seemed totally caught off guard. The president and his première dame had just come off a state visit to Brazil in December, she in high heels and Frenchly elegant, as well as spending Christmas and New Year’s Eve together. But now Hollande was telling the anxiously waiting nation that he would speak of the matter on February 11. Other than that, the president forbade every question, even at his big new year’s press conference, regarding his “private” life.

Private life? Trierweiler, a journalist by profession, was by no means living privately as the life-companion of the president. At the beginning of Hollande’s presidency, in May 2012, she gave up her career, except for her column in Paris Match, and acted as First Lady to the nation: state visits, receptions, opening daycare centres, honorary postings. For that, she had an office in the Elysée Palace, a budget, and several staffers.

Thanks to the president’s overt affair, all of that has been called into question. Who is Valérie Trierweiler? A mistress. One of several. She is not even Madame Hollande, unlike Mme. Chirac or Mme. Mitterrand. There was plenty of gossip over the affairs of both those presidents as well. But at least their wives were the social and legitimate wives at their men’s side. Even Mitterrand, who supported a second family for decades — with taxes, right down to the rent money and riding lessons for his out-of-wedlock daughter — never called his wife Danielle into question.

But what place does an abandoned mistress have, when her man takes a new mistress? And when the new one, as in this case, is even more popular than the old one, the highly unpopular Trierweiler? Unpopular, because she was often openly nasty to her predecessor. That was the well-known politician, Ségolène Royal, with whom Hollande had lived for 25 years and had four children. With her, too, he was not married.

When Hollande’s affair with Trierweiler became public in 2007, during Royal’s presidential campaign of all times (and surely this was not a coincidence) — that time, too, the then life companion was quickly prepared to forgive him. Royal went even further: She asked Hollande to marry her, with cameras rolling. After 25 years. And what did he do? Remained silent. But shortly thereafter, he spoke. The lover told journalists that Valérie Trierweiler was “the love of my life”. After 25 years with Royal, and four children together.

Hollande and Royal met as students. They are both close to 60 nowadays. 40 years ago, they were 20, and inspired by the May 1968 uprising and the women’s movement. Both are socialists, and Royal a noted feminist. Two modern people, who considered it unnecessary to marry. Just as Hollande later never thought of it either, with Trierweiler. Which now, as he will probably leave her, turns out to be downright practical. For him. He ends a relationship without any documented connection — and she falls into nothingness.

Valérie Trierweiler has just been released from hospital. It’s said that she will go to a spa, she needs “rest”. How convenient for Hollande. Because on February 11, he’s going on a state visit to the Obamas, where the modern French couple was already expected. Surely he won’t be able to take Julie Gayet along to the White House. Not yet.

What a man-drama! Die Welt‘s correspondent in France, Sascha Lehnartz, hit the nail on the head. He wrote: “Please try to imagine the following situation: Angela Merkel has been carrying on for months with [actor] Götz George…and three to five times a week, incognito, rides a moped from the Chancellor’s office to an apartment in Moabit, rented to Bushido. Sometimes she would bring her lover poppy-seed buns from the Chancellery’s own bakery. Joachim Sauer found it out on Friday through an article in the Super-Illu, and is now lying in the neurological department of the Charité with a nervous breakdown. And on Tuesday, Angela Merkel gave an international press conference, in which she said that the minimum wage is a great thing. That, roughly, is the current situation in France. Parbleu.

In actual fact, such stories can’t be turned around. A female head of state, who would never comport herself thus, would have to step down, because everyone would say that she had lost her marbles. But a male head of state who acts that way, according to 77 percent of all French(wo)men, well, that’s just “his private matter”. And they don’t even seem to ask the question whether someone who is so half-hearted and conflict-shy about his love life would not act the same way at his job, as president.

What conclusions are to be drawn from all this? What could one have advised Valérie Trierweiler to do at the beginning of the relationship? To that, there are two contradictory answers. The first one: Get married! The second: Remain strictly autonomous, like Joachim Sauer, the German chancellor’s husband.

The personal is political. So goes one of the most famous slogans of the women’s movement. It has been much misunderstood. In times of rampant exposition, some think that it means that women as well as men should make their private life public. No, it means just what we have just seen in the Hollande/Trierweiler case: The disenfranchisement of women plays itself out even in so-called private life. And that is not the personal problem of the woman in question, but that of all of society.

Translation mine.

Is getting married the feminist thing to do, then? Maybe not in and of itself. But yes, in the case of a prominent and public couple, who are in the spotlight and presumably have a lot of property as well as reputations at stake, it’s a different matter. Especially if, like Valérie Trierweiler, you are actually working in the official capacity of first lady of the land, and not in your original trade (journalism, in her case.) If that’s the way it’s going to be, then yes, marriage is the better way to go.

Whether a first couple has to be “traditional” about it is another matter. When the current president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, married his long-time common-law partner, Cilia Flores (they have a grown son together), it was couched as a patriotic act. They wanted to “strengthen the Venezuelan family”, so they said. They decided to set an example and make a statement about their love. And so they got married…not in white, not in church, but in their everyday clothes and at a registry office in Caracas, with their friend the mayor officiating. Flores is now known as “First Combatant”, not “First Lady”. As a long-time politician and former national-assembly president herself, she has quietly redefined the role of a female politician and political spouse simultaneously. And as a feminist and a strong woman in her own right, she will brook no scandal…and no disenfranchisement on any level. Her comportment during the putsch of 2002 made that clear: Flores, driven into hiding along with several other prominent Bolivarian members of parliament, released a video of herself even as the drama was still unfolding, vehemently protesting the coup and vowing to return at the first moment. Which she did, even though passing through streets potentially filled with unknown assassins and snipers posed a risk to her very life.

How different it is for Madame Trierweiler! She entered her political career (for that is what it is) on the wrong foot, displacing a popular and long-time partner with whom Hollande had four children. She humiliated Ségolène Royal publicly, forcing the latter to propose marriage on camera…and be rejected in the most cowardly manner. She triumphed off her rival’s tragedy. It must have been a heady moment, back when it was all amour fou and making youppi.

And now what’s gone around, has come around. She has gone from being the Other Woman, to being the woman about to get left for yet another Other Woman. And she doesn’t even have the small dignity of a legal marriage to protect her. She gave up everything she was doing…for this. As unsympathetic as she comes off for what she did to Ségo and her four kids, one can’t help pitying her a bit now. Her reputation, already shaky, is in tatters. And so’s her career, which will remain on hold until she regains her health. Who knows when, if or how she will bounce back? The workplace is not kind to middle-aged women re-entering it. Or even women well under middle age; just ask anyone who took time out from her career to be a stay-home mother. A few years can change everything, and bosses are fickle.

But I don’t suppose any of that matters very much to M. Hollande. He already showed what he was made of earlier, with his unceremonious dumping of his partner of a quarter-century. Once more, he conforms to an established pattern. Tant pis.

What has me scratching my head, though, is the blasé attitude toward all this in France. I guess, to a populace jaded with the tax-supported mistress and children of Mitterand, or the way Nicolas Sarkozy, mid-presidency, divorced his femme for a former supermodel (and mistress to Mick Jagger), or the whoremongering, maid-assaulting antics of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, this all must look a bit, well, routine. But there is a growing feminist current in France, as well, and they can’t be unaware of the legal implications of an unmarried couple in this unusual, and very awkward, position. Certainly they can no longer shrug off the sexist implications.

In Canada, this union would be considered a common-law marriage, since Hollande and Trierweiler have been living together for more than three years. As a de facto spouse, Valérie Trierweiler could sue, if not for divorce, then for half of his property, to ensure that she is not left wholly destitute by this sudden abandonment. She would need it, too, if she is unable to work at the moment, as appears to be the case.

Taking mistresses may be practically a marital tradition in France; the term “French marriage” was coined for situations where a couple stays married, but one or both still may have assignations on the side. Unfortunately, it appears that there aren’t sufficient provisions in French law here for a mistress who is married in all but name, and who gave up everything for her lover’s career. Not only is the situation awkward in that there is an unmarried first couple, but if he leaves her, it appears that he can make a complete getaway on his motor scooter, unscathed…and she is left scrambling to pick up the pieces of her very publicly shattered life.

Yes, the personal is political, even in modern France. And amatory “sophistication” comes with its own price, one paid in much more than just heart’s blood. Sadly, the women in François Hollande’s life have found out just how little recourse they truly have, and how steeply the deck is stacked against them.

This just in…

winner-winner

Literary talent: We (meaning Canadian women) haz it…

Canadian author Alice Munro has won the prestigious Nobel Prize for literature.

The Swedish Academy announced the decision Thursday, calling the 82-year-old author from Wingham, Ont., a “master of the contemporary short story.”

She is the first Canadian-based writer, and the 13th woman to receive the award.

[...]

Speaking to CTV’s Canada AM, Munro’s publisher Doug Gibson read a statement on her behalf.

“I am amazed and very grateful. I am a particularly glad that winning this award will please so many Canadians. I’m happy that this will bring more attention to Canadian writing,” Munro said in the statement.

Gibson said the decorated author, who won the Man Booker International Prize in 2009, is adored by fans worldwide for her short stories about “ordinary Canadian people.”

“Here we have a world prize being won by someone who writes about housewives in Vancouver, booksellers in Victoria, bean farmers in Huron County and accountants and teachers and librarians –ordinary Canadian people, and she turns it into magic,” he said.

Gibson said that when he first started working with Munro in 1976, she was under “terrible pressure” to “get serious” and write a novel.

“I said ‘Alice, they’re all wrong. You’re a short story writer… you’re a sprinter, not a marathon runner, so keep writing short stories,’” he said, adding that he offered to continue publishing any of her short story collections.

“That was 1976 and it’s worked out not too badly.”

I’ll say.

BTW, Alice Munro is also a mighty fine novelist, when she gets the urge to be. Her Lives of Girls and Women is a gem, and wholeheartedly recommended reading around here. A worthier Canadian candidate I could not think of, in any case, and I am over the moon for her.

Meanwhile, David Gilmour, that toughener of young stomachs, that eminent apostle of short fiction and the serious heterosexual middle-aged male libido at U of T, did not make the Giller shortlist. He could not be reached for comment.

An open letter to David Gilmour, plus a partial reading list

small-things-penis

Dear David Gilmour:

May I call you Dave? Because, by your own admission, you’re not really a prof, seeing as you don’t have a Ph.D. and your “teaching” experience comes courtesy of TV, that not-at-all-superficial-or-unidimensional medium that makes everybody feel like they’re on a first-name basis with everyone else…

Anyhow, Dave, it’s come to my attention that you “don’t love women writers”. To me, that’s perilously close to saying you don’t love women period, but maybe that’s just because I’m one of those silly irrational easily dismissible creatures, and my antennae are always out for slights to my sex. I guess it’s only natural that a sad, less-accomplished-than-he’d-once-hoped-to-be, middle-aged man would feel that way about anything outside his ken, which of course is sad, less-accomplished-than-they’d-once-hoped-to-be, middle-aged men. And that’s why you only “teach” (note the quotes, there for a reason) poopy old white guys like yourself, and tell students looking for a greater diversity in literary voices to “go down the hall”.

I’m really not sure what U of T was thinking when they hired you, Dave, any more than I’m sure what it is about you that made the Giller Prize committee long-list your book (the title of another of yours alone reeks of a soul steeped in dust and mothballs). I never really heard of you till now, but there you are, opining that No True Literary Greatness Can Ever Come of Woman (Except Maybe That One Short Story By Virginia Woolf, Which Is Just Good Enough). I guess as long as that mind-set prevails, it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. I can only pray that it doesn’t prevail at U of T or the Giller Prize committee.

So, Dave, I guess what I’m really trying to say here is, dang, you need to get out more. Abandon your stuffy little niche. Let your mind travel a bit. Permit the fresh winds of elsewhere to blow the cobwebs, the dustbunnies, and the stink of mothballs off your soul. Get some cliteracy! Any damn fool can idolize “serious heterosexual guys” (and a great many damn fools do). You want to be truly outstanding? Quit trying to tell time (and literary merit) by that pitiable thing in your pants, and start reading outside your box.

In honor of Banned Books Week, I propose that you begin with Toni Morrison. She’s under fire in her own home state of Ohio, for her breakout masterpiece, The Bluest Eye. I’m sure you’ll perk up a bit when you hear why it was banned: for “pornography” (actually, a horrific description of incest). And, I suspect, in truth, for tackling racism dead-on.

Once you’re done that, you can branch out a little more, to Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. Again, it’s been proposed for banning because of “pornography” — incest again, plus unwanted pregnancy, plus marital rape, plus some same-sex love between two black women. Since you have no problem with the more prurient and disgusting aspects of white middle-aged sad-sack dudes and their “sexuality”, Dave, I’m sure you can swallow this with a modicum of effort. (It’s no worse than reading about geezers sexually brutalizing their students and feeding on their menstrual blood, surely.)

And then there’s The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan. I thought I’d throw that in there since you said you didn’t love Chinese writers, either. Don’t worry, she’s Chinese-American, and she writes in perfect English. You’ll have no difficulty following her.

And for something truly out of this world (and way out of your league, Dave), there’s Ursula K. Le Guin. Yes, that’s right, a sci-fi/fantasy author! Everything she writes is so achingly good that I’d buy it sight unseen, but two of her books particularly stand out for me: The Lathe of Heaven, and The Dispossessed. Both are masterpieces of language, imagery and structure, and will make you weep with envy. I guarandamntee it.

And to bring you back to Earth again, and that old bugaboo, the Western Canon…there are the Brontë sisters. Emily, Anne and Charlotte, who wrote under the androgynous pseudonyms of Ellis, Acton and Currer Bell, respectively, of whom nobody expected anything because they were “just girls” — and who, incidentally, outshone their “brilliant” brother, Branwell, who drowned all his early promise in booze and died a failure. And Mary Anne Evans, better known to the world as George Eliot, who put her britches on and showed the menfolks a thing or two about how to write a great English novel. Ahem: SEVERAL great English novels. And hell, even prim little Jane Austen is an unargued master of the form. What about her?

And finally, here in Canada: I can’t believe you haven’t read the two great Margarets, Laurence and Atwood. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the final installment of the MaddAddam trilogy. And what about Carol Shields? Chopped liver to you, Dave? Pity. She was a gem, and if you want to know how middle-aged and older women view their sexuality, perhaps you should read The Stone Diaries. And let’s not forget the non-white Canadian greats: Joy Kogawa, Nalo Hopkinson…I could go on and on. But, like I said, this is only a partial reading list.

There are so many books you don’t know about, Dave, because you’re too busy navel-gazing (and by “navel-gazing”, I mean twiddling your schlong). Hopefully these will get you started, and if you have any latent curiosity left, you will keep reading women after you’re done with these. Who knows, they might even get you to stop obsessing about the sad plight of your literary heroes, that bitter waste of an Angry Young Man who only grew into a Nasty Old Fart. Great books by women will make a new (and dare I say, much improved) man of you.

Never underestimate the rejuvenative powers of getting over yourself, Dave. And don’t worry, it’s never too late to start. We women know that one from lived experience.

Happy reading,

‘Bina.

PS: You’re all wrong about Truman Capote, too. You are NOT the only person to teach him at university level; I distinctly recall In Cold Blood being assigned in my Great Reporting class at the Ryerson University School of Journalism, by a terrific old prof with a strong Scots accent, whose name unfortunately escapes me. One thing I do recall is that he wasn’t you.

Whose fault is it?

In India, it’s WOMEN!

In the US, it’s WOMEN!

Impotence: Laura Sessions Stepp (of Unhooked fame) wrote in The Washington Post that young women’s feeling empowered to initiate sex was causing a scourge of impotence among college-aged men: “According to surveys, young women are now as likely as young men to have sex and by countless reports are also as likely to initiate sex, taking away from males the age-old, erotic power of the chase….. One can argue that a young woman speaking her mind is a sign of equality. “That’s a good thing,” says [teacher Robin] Sawyer, father of four daughters. “But for some guys, it has come at a price.” Because if there’s one thing that kills straight guys’ boners, it’s girls that want to have to sex with them.

Crime: Concerned Women for America, the anti-feminist organization, believes that feminism is behind the increase of incarcerated women. According to CWA’s then-president Wendy Wright, feminism made a grave error in promoting women’s autonomy: “Such ideology, which often encourages women to feel that ‘they don’t need to be dependent on a husband and they shouldn’t have to depend on their family,’ could be leading women into these kinds of activities ‘where they’re forced to fend for themselves,’ Wright says.” Hear that ladies? Husbands don’t just take out the trash, they keep you out of jail!

Mass Shootings: It’s not just women in the workplace that’s behind mass shootings, it’s “feminized” schools. According to Charlotte Allen in National Review Online, the murder of twenty children at Sandy Hook Elementary School can be traced back to the lack of men around : “There was not a single adult male on the school premises when the shooting occurred…. There didn’t even seem to be a male janitor to heave his bucket at Adam Lanza’s knees. [A] feminized setting is a setting in which helpless passivity is the norm.” Guns don’t kill people, feminized settings kill people.

Traffic & Environmental Decline: Women are so selfish, with their wanting to work outside the home. Don’t they know they’re single handedly ruining the environment? According to Jack Cashill—a writer who just put out a book, If I Had a Son: Race, Guns and the Railroading of George Zimmerman (ahem) — feminism is bad for the environment. Or, as he writes, “Equal pay for equal work also means equal commutes.” Cashill continues by saying that stay-at-home moms “save the state’s highway infrastructure from meltdown, especially since a ‘nanny’ often drives to the working mom’s house, putting three cars on the road where otherwise one would do. Homeschooling moms further ease the strain on the ecosystem by keeping their kids off the road.” The less you gals leave home, the better off the earth will be!

Anthony Weiner: You may have thought that the only person responsible in the Anthony Weiner sexting controversy was Weiner himself—how shortsighted of you! Thankfully, Fox News set the record straight and pointing to the real culprit: feminism. You see, feminists made it easy for slutty, slutty girls to go on the Internet and entice men into sin. Because birth control.

Gee, isn’t it nice to know that women on this side of the world have so much in common with our sisters on the other side of the world? And what they have most in common, is how much they both need to fight.

Rape culture? WHAT rape culture?

dont-rape

I don’t see anything here

The trial for a University of Toronto architecture professor charged with sexual assault nearly two years ago began Thursday.

James Andrew Payne was charged on Dec. 10, 2011 with one count of sexual assault. Payne, 53, denies any wrongdoing.

The complainant, a 21-year-old woman, says she was sexually assaulted in her apartment near Dundas St. W. and Dovercourt Rd. at around midnight on a Saturday evening.

A report from swabs of the complainant’s body identify Payne’s DNA. The issue, the Crown said, is one of consent.

The complainant, “is saying she does not remember consenting … she doesn’t recall inviting him up,” said the Crown.

[...]

A university spokesperson would not explain university policy on faculty reporting criminal charges.

Experts told education reporter Kris Rushowy that while faculty contracts do not usually require criminal charges to be reported, the university code of conduct may.

…or here

For the nearly 400 Saint Mary’s University students participating in a chant about rape during their orientation week it was more about the rhyme than the words, according to the student union president.

But Jared Perry told reporters Thursday that he now knows repeating the chant celebrating non-consensual sex with underage girls was wrong.

This is his second year as president. He said he has been repeating the chant since he first came to the Halifax university in 2009 – and never thought anything about it. He has never received any complaints about it.

His attitude changed quickly after a video of the Labour Day event surfaced this week and sparked a huge controversy both on and off campus. In less than 24 hours there have been apologies from student leaders and university administrators and investigations. Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter called it “disturbing.”

Mr. Perry characterizes being involved in this incident as “the biggest mistake I have made throughout my university career and probably in my life. … I feel terrible about it.” Although there have been some calls for him to resign his position, he said he will not.

or here

“SMU boys, we like them young,” the students can be heard singing at the start of the video.

The chant includes the phrases: “Y is for your sister,” “U is for underage,” and “N is for no consent.”

It was performed by student leaders in front of about 300 first-year-students on Monday.

…do you?

If you really don’t see it, go back and read it again, and this time pay attention to the italics I added.

It really IS so nice to know that nothing has changed in any substantial way since I was that age. Profs still feel entitled to pursue students half their age; older students sing “funny” songs about rape to younger students (some of them under legal age), right during Frosh Week. Yeah, WHAT rape culture?

Never mind that there are rules in place prohibiting the poisoning of the educational atmosphere with, among other things, SEXISM. The university culture is less concerned with enforcing its own rules, it seems, than in perpetuating the age-old tradition of the older man preying on the younger woman (or GIRL), with sexual entitlement an obvious perk of the process.

We already know all the lyrics to THAT song, don’t we? Hell, we’ve seen the video, too. The “girls” are always younger and always wearing less than the guys. With remarkably little variation in all respects, except maybe the tune, it’s always the same old song. Sing along, or you’ll be called a humorless feminist bitch and the boys will never like you again!

Of course, the fact that “sex” of this ilk often ends in a nervous breakdown (or worse) is the dirty little secret of rape culture. Girls are taught from an early age to blame themselves for drawing male attention, however unwanted. No matter how hard you try to ward it off, it just keeps on coming. Not only can you not escape it, you get blamed for getting hit with it. You are always too “mature” for your age, too pretty, too whatever. You can’t catch a break.

It’s not enough to say “just don’t sing along if you don’t feel like it”. That just puts a further onus on the victims. It’s Frosh Week, dammit. This is a time for getting acquainted, not alienated. Nobody should have to avoid school, or orientation-week activities, due to a toxic climate of rape culture! So why do we so often demand that they do just that — or learn to override their own discomfiture?

The answer, in a word, is POWER.

Those who wield the most power over others see their own privilege the least, and take it most for granted. They have doctorates, and they often have tenure. Of course they will give nothing up without a fight. Meanwhile, those who need to fight them are in the weakest position to begin with. It’s a waste of money to quit school before you can even start classes. And students can ill afford that, now more than ever. Tuition rates have exploded; student loan debts are crippling. Capitalism has made higher education an ever harder privilege to afford. Is it any wonder, then, that frosh — especially females, who already face a world of lowered earning power by virtue of their gender — are cowed into going along, getting along, and singing along?

Until orientation week becomes about actual orientation, and not just perpetuating a disorienting “tradition” of power imbalance, don’t expect that song to change. Don’t expect to see anything there but more rape culture. And until someone yanks the needle up and smashes that record, that song is just going to keep on playing.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit and the German Greens’ pedophile problem

cohn-bendit-perv

“I stand for sex with children! How about you?”

Meet Daniel Cohn-Bendit. He’s a long-standing, high-ranking member of the German Green Party, as well as the Green faction chief in the Europarliament. And he’s also a major component of its Achilles’ heel: the pedophile contingent, which during the 1970s and ’80s was active in trying to wipe out two paragraphs of German criminal law, specifically those dealing with “sex” between adults and children. You’ll notice I put the word in quotation marks. There’s a good reason for that. You’ll see it soon enough, if you don’t already. Meanwhile, let’s talk a bit more about Herr Cohn-Bendit and the ever-spreading toxic stain he is.

For the past week or so there’s been hard talk about bombing Syria. Bashar al-Assad stands accused of using sarin gas on his own people. Evidence now points to the so-called Syrian rebels, who have al-Qaida ties and are financed and armed by the Saudis and the US. They are a most unsavory bunch. But since Bashar is the designated scapegoat in certain pro-war circles, that’s all been swept under the rug. And in a twist of very strange irony, one of those sweepers is Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who gave an interview to Der Spiegel in which he too beats the war drums, and rails against the “cheap anti-Americanism” of those opposed. It’s not the first time he’s done so, either; right there in the first lines of the interview, Cohn-Bendit shows himself to be the greenest warhawk in Germany:

SPIEGEL ONLINE: You were the first Green to call for western military action in the Yugoslavian war [over Kosovo]. Now the Syrian dictator, Assad, has very probably used chemical weapons against his own people. Can the west take that without a military response?

Cohn-Bendit: Assad has overstepped a symbolic boundary. That has to be avenged. But the reaction of the west must be embedded in a political strategy.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Are you against a punitive action that shows Assad that he has overstepped a red line?

Cohn-Bendit: A punitive action without political strategy would be wrong. But the west has to mobilize militarily. As a prerequisite — either for a military strike or to force a cease-fire and end the bloodshed.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Should Germany also take part in that militarily?

Cohn-Bendit: Yes, the federal government should participate in preparation for a military action with other EU countries.

Translation mine.

I find his phraseology extremely interesting: “overstepped a symbolic boundary”. They accuse Assad of genocide without concrete proof (and the hard evidence, embarrassingly, points the other way), so of course the boundary is merely “symbolic”. Meanwhile, in his own past, Daniel Cohn-Bendit repeatedly overstepped a very real boundary, and remains unpunished for it to this day.

“When a little girl of five or five and a half years old starts to undress you, that’s fantastic. It’s fantastic because it’s a game, an absolutely erotic-manic game.”

With this sentence on a French talk show in 1982, Daniel Cohn-Bendit wanted to provoke the public, in order to stand in the light he regarded so highly, that of the taboo-breaker. He didn’t quite succeed. None of the other guests in the program reacted with any recognizable upset, no one wanted to rein in the chubby-cheeked thug. Even in the press you never read any critical commentaries afterward. The public reacted quite similarly seven years before on the stunning, meanwhile famous-infamous passages from Cohn-Bendit’s “Le Grand Bazar” — not at all.

And why? Among French intellectuals, calls for punishment-free sex with children and adolescents fell on fertile ground. It was “another time”, as Le Monde wrote, somewhat shamefacedly, years later. Eve this reputable paper gave considerable leeway in the 1970s to the pedophilic circles, while the left-republican Libération attested to a “genuine social mission” in sex with children, as historian Anne-Claude Ambroise-Rendu noted in retrospect.

When, in January 1977, three men were facing trial over charges of sexual crimes against 13- and 14-year old children, various intellectuals, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Louis Aragon, Catherine Millet, André Glucksmann, Jack Lang, and Sarkozy’s future foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, declared solidarity with them. That was just “the times”, and thus, Cohn-Bendit too is trying to exculpate his then declarations: “The sexual debate knew nothing of sexual abuse.” The sexual-freedom impetus sailed in the years after 1968 in the lee of disappointment over the missing political revolution. So the prophets of fundamental change settled on self-reform, on pedagogy, on the emancipation of individuals from the pressures of a bygone, clerical and bigotry-soured class society. That was the jargon of the day. As always in times of deep political disappointment, the hopes fell on the not-yet-corrupted mindset of youth, now even that of children. Pedophilic affection advanced in the ferment of everyday upheaval, coexistence, and liberating love. So it was in France. Thus they experienced it, most particularly, in the Netherlands. And thus did a part of the German “New Left” also develop.

Translation mine.

Here’s the interview (not embeddable, sorry), in French with German subtitles, where Cohn-Bendit raves to his host, Paul Guth, about sex with children. He sounds pretty stoned, which stands to reason; he also brags that he ate hash brownies a short time before he went on air. (The Greens were also in favor of legalizing soft drugs.) Apparently the dope not only loosened his tongue, it got him to proudly reveal things most people would keep a deathly silence about, even if they were not personally ashamed of having done them. That is, most people who’ve actually perpetrated child sexual abuse. Not he! He seems to revel in having done not only that, but in bragging about it.

But here’s the thing: This man truly doesn’t see that what he did there WAS abuse, just because no physical force was involved. His definition of what’s abusive is remarkably narrow, and takes no account of what happens years down the line, when sexually abused children become emotionally disturbed adults. So convinced is he that what he did was not wrong that he even tried to get the laws against it struck off the books in the name of the Sexual Revolution.

And for a while there, it looked as if Germany might go his way. Alice Schwarzer, editor-in-chief and publisher of EMMA, Germany’s leading feminist magazine, knows the dark side of Daniel Cohn-Bendit all too well. She has been watching him and his ilk for decades now, presciently warning of the dangers of their plans, and she recounts:

It was the Greens who, at their second party congress in 1980, were already debating the striking-down of Paragraph 176, which levied punishment for sex with children under 14 years of age, as well as that of Paragraph 174, against sexual abuse of minor wards of the state.

[...]

On the basis of §176, which punished child sexual abuse with up to 10 years’ imprisonment, according to Der Spiegel, some 20-25,000 perpetrators a year were sentenced. Considering that this is just the tip of the iceberg — because most child victims are too confused, intimidated or dependent to fight back — then you get an idea of the magnitude of the crime.

Even non-pedophilic men — that is, those whose desire is not compulsively fixated on prepubescent children — were already frequenting the “kiddie stroll” of Zoo Station [in Berlin], or flying to Thailand or Mexico, in order to buy children even more cheaply there. The women at home had become just too inconvenient — and the children were not so available anymore.

Translation mine.

I caught the tail end of those “revolutionary” but in fact counter-revolutionary times when I started reading grown-up German magazines around age 12 or so. I even read Christiane F.’s now famous “Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo” (“We Children of Zoo Station”), a firsthand account of teenage prostitution and heroin addiction on the streets of West Berlin, published in two parts in the magazine Stern. (It was later republished in book form.) It was a harrowing read. A lot of the words were unfamiliar to me, but the meaning was clear enough. I was appalled that anyone would do such things to helpless children, especially girls not much older than I was. If I ever had to credit any cautionary tale with keeping me off drugs and out of trouble, that’s the one. (Amazingly, Christiane F. is still alive, and in 2008 she gave this interview at age 45. This despite a decades-long battle with addiction and HIV. She finally got off heroin in 1993, and she has a teenage son whom she credits with giving her the strength to do so. My hat is off to her; she is a survivor in the fullest sense of the word.)

The idea that anyone would want to normalize and legalize sex, and specifically commercialized sex, with children of any age, is appalling. The realization that more than one prominent German Green who did advocate for just that is still on the loose and sitting in the Europarliament? Disgusting. And the fact that this monster is squatting there, beating the drums for war against Syria? Well, let’s just say that even I don’t have a bad enough word for it in my extensive vocabulary. In no sense does Daniel Cohn-Bendit have any moral right to condemn other countries or their politicians. What he’s done in Germany, and to Germany, is bad enough without him dragging the country into yet another horrific war. And if the Greens care about being electable, they’d do well to jettison him…and all his fellow Old Greens who beat the drums for legalized pedophilia, back in “another time”.

A few random thoughts on women’s sexuality

laura-restrepo-quote

“Feminine psychology is at times twisted: They have created in us the conviction that all the bad things in the world are lying in wait, trying to sneak in on us from between our legs.”

–Laura Restrepo, Colombian writer.

Lupita Domínguez sent me that quote this morning, so muchas gracias, hermana. She also asked what I think of it, and since I realized my reply would probably be too long for Facebook, here it is:

I have a hunch Laura Restrepo is being a bit sarcastic and mocking here, and she’s quite right. Not all the bad things in the world are trying to get into us ladies from between the legs. Some of them are trying to get into us via our eyes, ears, noses, mouths, hands, and hearts. Some are trying to get into us via our wallets. Some are trying to get into us via the media and the Internet. Some are trying to get into us via bad, simplistic books expounding all kinds of inane theories. There are a great many ways for trouble to find us, and sex is just one. So to reduce all female psychology to “what lies between the legs” is insulting and belittling, to say the least. We are more than just a vagina and a pair of breasts, and so is what’s on our minds.

Of course, there are guys out there who think we should be reduced in this fashion, and the more so, the better. They think our minds don’t matter, and that we should quit worrying about what we put into them, and turn them strictly to catering to Teh Menz. They’re calling themselves Men’s Rights Activists — oh, pardon me, Men’s Human Rights Activists, now. As though men have not been the only ones fully recognized as human throughout, oh, only all of human history. And their “human rights” activism seems to be take the form of things like this:

mra-activism

Yup, Man of the Year material right there.

I think what this guy’s really trying to say here is “You’re not supposed to like books, and you’re not supposed to write them, you’re just supposed to be a convenient hole for me to plug into. I’m the one who’s supposed to like books! I’m the one who’s supposed to write them! How dare you usurp my privileges!”

Reductio ad absurdum, anyone?

And then there’s Miley Cyrus’s performance from the other night. Those who say critics are only “slut-shaming” her are missing the point. What she did there was not so much expressing her own sexuality, but rather faithfully enacting a cartoonish exaggeration of what men assume women’s sexuality to be: a submissive pose, wiggling a tiny heinie, ever ready to be penetrated by all comers. Again, reductio ad absurdum. Plus a creepy Pedobear-ish costume, which at some point gets removed to reveal what is NOT real skin, but rubbery plastic with no nipples, no labia, no pubic hair — in short, nothing that actual women have. “Female Sexuality” à la Barbie. And this weirdly puerile sex show is supposed to be Miley’s signal that she’s a woman now? Whoopdefuckingdoo!

Of course, I might be missing some element of irony here. If she was actually sending up this whole cartoonish image of what female sexuality is supposed to be, according to men, media and porn, then I may have to rethink Miley altogether, and give her some credit for being a wry social commentator, and not just a performer making bank at a pretty damn douchey gig. That wagging tongue ought to have been planted firmly in cheek, rather than hanging out for all the world to gawp at like Gene Simmons’s ugly appendage. But I don’t think this was actually the case, more’s the pity. It could have been a great performance if there had only been some indication that this was a joke on rape culture, and that nobody is really like this, or should be. But there was no punchline. Instead, it was meant to be taken exactly for what it appeared to be: a young woman casting aside “girlhood” (symbolized by teddy bears) and embracing “womanhood” (symbolized by fake nudity, submissive pose, and grinding her ass on a fully-clothed, and very sleazy, Robin Thicke.)

It all reconfirms everything Laura Restrepo was saying: Everything seems to be waiting to crawl in on us through our vaginas. We are limited to the roles they compel us to play: virgin, mother, whore. Nothing else about us exists. Miley isn’t expressing her own sexuality (she still has a long way to go in discovering that, since she’s just 20); she’s expressing how our culture sees all female sexuality, and by extension, all females. And the fact that she combined twerking with teddy bears (very icky teddy bears) seems to suggest that we are nothing but sex toys, and that our sexual objectification starts very young. Especially black women, who seem to get appropriated along with everything else when it comes to “empowered” upper-class white women’s ostensibly de-Disnified “sexuality”.

The fact that sexual evils aren’t the only ones besetting us is conveniently swept aside by the sexualized narrative. Most women are dealing with economic disadvantages tailored to gender lines. Every day, that deck gets stacked against us a bit further. We’re still only paid, on average, 70 cents to a man’s dollar, our clothes cost more than men’s, and we’re supposed to buy more of them to keep up with the Joneses. There’s even talk of charging women higher health insurance premiums in the States, “because they have breasts”. We’re facing sanctions against abortion that are more restrictive than what prevailed in Victorian times. And student loan debts are leaving young people, women especially, financially crippled before their careers even begin.

And good luck trying to dig your way out of the financial hole without resorting to stripping or prostitution; those are the two most lucrative professions for women, and you can bet the pimps are taking note; in Germany they and the state have conspired between them to make sure the women get it coming and going. Brothels charge low flat rates for all the sexual servicing a client demands, no limits. And women who work there are expected to fork over not only a heavy percentage of their direct earnings (supposedly, to defray the cost of living in such a dump), but taxes to the state as well. And since a lot of them come from the poorest parts of Eastern Europe and are supporting families, well…you can do the math. Poverty prostitution actually has its own word in German: Armutsprostitution. Most prostitutes in Germany are not Germans; they are not free-spirited Happy Hookers doing it for love of sex, either, but impoverished immigrants who have run out of options — and in many cases, are trafficked as well. Their problems began long before they started working in the sex trade; money, not sex, is the way the ills of the world have crept up on them. Worst of all, many of them don’t make it out alive, and any dreams they had of better lives and meaningful work in non-sex professions have been yanked out from under them.

It seems to be only a matter of time before all of us find that our wallets are the main conduit between us and a similar fate. Lupita, who sent me that quote, knows it already, since need drove a lot of her friends from the Mexican nightclubs into stripping and prostitution. When I translated her book, one thing that leapt out at me was how many of them were forced into it by their own families. They are paying for their children’s food and clothing, their siblings’ educations, and their mothers’ houses. And they have to do so by taking money from strange men for acts that are often undignified.

And the worst indignity of all is that they have to deal with this double standard every day, every night, and pretend that it’s normal, and that they like it. The client gets to keep his suit on; the woman gets naked, or very nearly so. The power imbalance could not be more obvious. And neither is the twisting of psychology that says, on the one hand, that women’s bodies are “dirty”…but which, on the other hand, expects us to use them, and not our minds, to make the only living we are allowed to make, and to pretend that we are merely “exploring our sexuality”. We’re not supposed to be doctors, lawyers, astronauts, scientists or politicians, ever; when we grow up, we’re supposed to be either wives or whores. Y punto.

Reductio doesn’t get more ad absurdum than that, does it?