Glamour’s love advice is a big ol’ Don’t

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This cartoon has been around for a while, but unfortunately, not nearly as long as Glamour magazine’s recommendations on How To Make A Man Fall For You:

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I won’t bother with a point-for-point analysis; that would be giving this drivel a lot more taking seriously than it actually deserves. This bag of warmed-over chestnuts from the 1950s can basically be boiled down to three simple things: Feeding, Fucking, and Faking. Not only does it make men out to be painfully simple-minded (misandry!), it also makes women look and feel like idiots — not least when they bother to follow such risible advice.

Leaving aside the dubious ethics of trying to “make” a man fall in love with you, will this “advice” even work in the long run? Spoiler: NOPE. Anything this cheesy and shallow is bound to wear on one after a while, and when the pretence drops, can the “love” be far behind? What’s so wrong with just being oneself…or, as these cute Cuban guys would put it, baring one’s soul and acting like how you really feel?

Authenticity: what a concept!

I’m guessing that Glamour, which has been dumbed down in recent years and is steadily growing dumber (which is why I no longer buy or read it with any regularity), also hasn’t heard of how mercilessly feminists on the tweeter recently savaged a similarly outdated list of “flirting” tips that appeared in Bravo, a German women’s mag with the same intelligence deficits as its cousin from across the pond. Well, just for that, they got their own tweeter-savaging, en anglais. Maybe they should take a gentle hint from what Bravo did in response to said savaging: namely, pull the article down and replace it with a humble apology for the unacceptable content.

Oh for the day when ladymags simply refuse to publish such eye-bugging bullshit at all anymore. Not only because it insults the considerable intelligence of their target readership, but also that of the men they love. That day, it seems, is still a long time coming. What to do while you wait?

One could write letters to the editors, taking them to task for the magazine’s decline, and pray that they’re brave enough to publish those. One could also vote with one’s wallet and simply refuse to buy any rag which doesn’t take its readership seriously as something other than an incidental source of revenue. Hell, there’s no reason why one can’t do both!

In the meantime, the best thing Glamour has going for it is — I shit you not — the “Dos and Don’ts” feature on the next-to-last page. That’s where the latest fashions get dissected. It’s honest-to-Goddess educational; one learns how to wear them right, or how not to wear them, EVER. It’s good for a cheap chuckle — and it might just keep one from becoming a fashion victim if one does one’s due diligence.

In the case of romantic fashion (which apparently hasn’t changed a lacquered hair since the days of Eisenhower), the above list is one big fat hairy old Don’t.

Why it’s never “too soon” to talk about gun violence — or racism, or misogyny

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Every time there’s a gun massacre somewhere in the United States, every time there’s an occasion for them to finally start addressing the gun-crime connection, this happens: Right on cue, the NRA rolls out its paid-off bottom-feeder of the moment — invariably, some Republican politician or other — to announce that it’s “too soon” to talk about guns. And boom! Just like that, debate is shut down. Effectively censored until the next time there’s a massacre, only to be censored again.

And again.

And AGAIN.

When nine black people were murdered in their church in Charleston, South Carolina, that was a great occasion to debate how the hell someone like Dylann Roof — white, racist, with expressed ties to other racists and fascists — could get his hands on a gun. It was absolutely striking how easy it was for someone like him to enter a black church, armed and loaded for bear, and gun down black people, seemingly at random (but not really, because he most certainly selected his targets by race).

But right after it happened, it was Too Soon to talk about that. Too Soon to talk about racism. Too Soon to talk about guns. And for damn sure it was Too Soon to address the fact that this young guy was a terrorist with fascist sympathies and some downright arcane racist ties. No, better to just portray him as “mentally ill” and a “lone wolf”. That way, no one would have to question the many social structures that supported Dylann Roof in his homicidal plotting. And no one would have to address them, either.

And now the bodies from that month-ago massacre are all buried, the immediate shock of mass grief has somewhat abated — and STILL it’s Too Soon to talk about that. Or so we’re told.

And now, just a few days ago, another shooter entered another peaceful space down south, killed a bunch of people who were just in that theatre in Lafayette, Louisiana, to watch a movie, not shoot it out barrel to barrel with a gunman. For inevitably, it was a gunman — again white, again racist, again with fascist ties. This one, on top of all else, was a raving misogynist. And all his victims were women.

Oh sure, they were randomly chosen — he didn’t have his sights on anyone in particular — but they were all, just the same, selected in a non-random manner: namely, by gender. Because they were female, and had come to take in a movie starring a famous female comedian whose main schtick is sexual promiscuity, they were scum in the eyes of John Russell “Rusty” Houser. And so they had to die.

But of course, it’s Too Soon to talk about THAT, too.

In the United States of Amnesia, there have been as many mass shootings this year as there have been days in this year. No wonder it’s always Too Soon to talk about gun massacres. Not a day goes by that there isn’t one happening somewhere in that country.

And because it’s always Too Soon, the common denominators of all those seemingly unrelated “isolated incidents” (was there ever such a callously fraudulent phrase?) will never be addressed. Bigotry in all its various guises: that’s one. Lust for power: that’s another. The ultimate one is, of course, the too-easy availability of guns, the culture built around “freedom” as conveyed by guns, the way every problem looks like a target at the firing range when the only thing you’re allowed to do about anything is, you guessed it, to carry a gun.

That’s why no one’s talking about the shocking gun-crime statistics in the United States. They’d rather blame Mexicans (who apparently all belong to drug cartels, don’tcha know) for their high gun crime rates, their high gun murder rates, and even their high gun suicide rates. Anything but point the finger at the real crime cartel: the NRA, an industry lobby group whose sole reason for existence is to gin up panic and hysteria over all manner of Others — women, non-whites, LGBT+ people, foreigners — so that the dominant social class, namely native-born white cis-het Amurrican men, will have all the reasons they need to stock up on lotsa guns ‘n’ ammo.

Oh sure, there are also armed women (most of whom are white, cis-het, blah-blah). And armed minority members (not all of whom are necessarily in gangs). But let’s face it: The NRA’s target market (pun fully intended) is that very specific band of white men, the same that commits the bulk of massacres. And the reason for that is not hard to guess, either: They are the very group whose monopoly on power is eroding under the efforts of women, minorities, LGBT+ folk, and foreign immigrants of all kinds. They are taught to fear what will happen if All Those Other People get too uppity. They are being pushed to “defend themselves” against All Those Other People. It stands to reason that they will do all in their power to maintain the old monopoly, or die trying.

And their power IS eroding, but it’s not for the reasons they’ve been led to believe. It’s because they’re all working harder, and getting less and less to show for it. In that sense, white cis-het Amurrican males are just like everyone they have been carefully taught to hate. But since they can’t fight capitalism (and won’t, because it’s the dominant ideology which they were carefully indoctrinated to believe in as surely as if it were God), about all they can do when confronted with the futility of their lives is get a gun and start popping off a pitiful few “random” targets which may reflect their own cluster of bigotries, but who have nothing to do with their real problems. Which is why, as far as the gun lobby is concerned, they are sitting ducks. When a gun’s the only power you can still reliably get your hands on, by God, you just go get your hands on a gun, son.

So people are dying in droves for an illusion of power that their killers will do anything to maintain. An illusion of white supremacy, male supremacy, cis-het “Christian” (note the quotes) supremacy. Whatever your delusion, the gun lobby is more than happy to sell you an illusion — and a quick-fix false solution. It doesn’t matter to the NRA how many blacks, women, LGBT+ folk, etc., are dropping dead. All that matters is that gun sales keep going up, up, UP. Capitalism is king, y’all! King and God and government all rolled into one.

That’s why we keep hearing so many inane bullshit “solutions” being pushed by the NRA and their lackeys. The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun — remember that? Since criminals carry guns, the best thing to do is push guns into the hands of law-abiders and enable them to carry those guns wherever and however they like. Concealed carry! Open carry! Carrying in a bar, a church, a store, a movie theatre. Any place where a bad guy could be packing, there must the good guys pack also.

The only problem with the “good guy with a gun” trope is that there’s no proof at all that it works, but ample proof that it fails. There has has been a massacre for every day in 2015. Good guys with guns have been conspicuously MIA from the scene every time. Turns out, the only guys packing and pulling and shooting in all those instances…were the bad guys.

And the worst part is, those bad guys thought they were the good guys. Dylann Roof thought he was cleaning up the scourge of those danged uppity blacks. Rusty Houser no doubt thought he was cleaning up a scourge, too, namely women. And the fact that both littered the Internet with their intentions before carrying them out should not be overlooked, either. Both men were operating under the presumption that they were “taking out the trash” — the “trash” being innocent people, complete strangers, those who hadn’t transgressed against them in any way, except to accidentally embody something that the bad guys were dead set against.

And their legal right to carry, no doubt, was all the justification either one needed. Might makes right, and guns make might — so runs the myth. In a South dominated by the Castle Doctrine, these guys no doubt felt they were just “standing their ground” against the respective phantom menaces that posed such a danger to the unearned power and privilege — however limited, however illusory — that they felt was their birthright.

But of course, it’s always Too Soon to say that, isn’t it?

No. It is never too soon. In fact, by the time the massacre has happened — yet another massacre, yet another day — it is already far too late. This is a debate that should have been settled long ago, in favor of the right to life of those who don’t have powers and privileges, however paltry, to defend at the point of a gun. Because in the final analysis, a society is only as good as how it treats its least powerful, least privileged, and least defended members. Where guns and gun ownership are privileged over people, gun massacres are not only more likely, they are inevitable. And those with an eye to seizing power, via terrorist coups, will not stop trying to do so as long as they can get their hands on a gun.

Old “flirting” tips still suck after all these years

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Where do I sign up?

Yes, the Anti-Flirt Club was a real thing…back in the 1920s, when cars were beginning to take over the roads from horses and buggies, and motorized mashers were routinely pushing their luck with young women to whom they “chivalrously” offered lifts. Alice Reighly and her anti-flirt gang set out to protect their younger sisters from stranger (and not-so-stranger) danger by warning them against any behavior that might encourage unwanted attentions.

But while this club (and the antiquated, victim-blamey social code it perpetuated, albeit with good intentions) is now a thing of the largely forgotten past, some “flirting” tips which must be from at least as long ago are still au courant, at least according to one German girls’ magazine, ridiculed by EMMA:

Yesterday, about 4 p.m., EMMA conference. On the table, a printed list of 100 flirting tips for women, from Bravo.de. Title: “How to make boys notice you: 100 tips for a knockout aura”.

For women over 30, it was an unexpected trip back in time. Take Flirting Tip #20, for example: “Stumble into your crush. Apologize profusely. He’ll find you totally cute, because you’re such a little klutz.”

Such, pardon me, bullshit has been in Bravo (and Bravo Girl) since forever. Even the tip about dreamily twirling a strand of one’s hair (“It’s girly and sweet!”) seems somehow familiar.

“I’ll write ten points on how Bravo has screwed up youth, in hindsight, for women like me”, proposes Colleague #1, born in 1980.

“Why all the fuss? Nobody reads Bravo anymore,” says Colleague #2, who still remembers the magazine from the 1970s.

Even our intern, who at 18 is closer in age to Bravo’s target group than any EMMA editor, shrugs her shoulders indifferently and says, “We used to read it” — in her case, an eternity of some four years ago. “Mostly it was boys buying Bravo, so they could look at the pictures of naked girls.”

Aha. Even there, it seems, nothing’s changed.

Briefly, for people under 25, who grew up with the Internet and smartphones: Way back, before the invention of the World Wide Web, and looooong before there was Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat, even before MySpace and StudiVZ, young people read a leaflet of crumply paper, in which many a, shall we say, imaginative article about stars and starlets appeared, which were popular among teenagers (along with autograph cards and life-sized posters). As well as pages and pages of kitchen-psychological life advice (“Psycho-test: How self-confident do you appear?”). And extensively illustrated sex tips. Voilà, Bravo.

Today, the magazine is fighting against a dwindling readership. Colleague #2 is right: Nobody really reads it anymore. The 100 flirting tips are actually yesterday’s news: They’ve been online since the beginning of July, unnoticed. Why, is clear: Young people today would rather run their own YouTube channel, and some are so successful at it that they can even interview the Chancellor herself, as a guy who calls himself LeFloid recently did.

But just a few hours after the conference, the Internet buzzed. The hashtag #flirtennachbravo (#FlirtingAccordingToBravo) trended on Twitter. Outrage over the 100 tips even made it to the homepage of the freemail service Gmx.de — in other words, even reaching people who don’t read news, but who will read e-mails. Above all, women made fun of the list: “Rules 1-99: Bend yourself out of shape to get boys to like you. Only then are you worth anything. Rule 100: Be yourself. YOLO”, tweeted one. “Essence of #flirtennachbravo tips: Submissiveness and conformity. The ’70s want their magazine back,” writes another. Or: “Steal your parents’ car and run it into that sweet boy. Then you can visit him the next day in the hospital.”

Bravo hasn’t gotten this much attention in years. Why all the fuss?

Two answers come to mind. First: Sooner or later, women realize, with a mixture of shame and rage, the amount of manipulation that lurks in such articles. But that won’t stop them from reading more of these articles. We can see that in the broad market for women’s magazines, online and print, that all do nothing but what Bravo has done with this list: train women to be creatures who want to please men, and must.

Of course, this message comes with the advice: Be natural and be yourself. Which is why even 12-year-olds start to optimize their bodies. Because, as the logic holds: A woman is only herself when she is as flexible and beautiful as the current beauty ideal — and she’ll get there with the lipstick from Page 12, the dress from Page 30, and the diet from Page 56. Or, as Bravo would say: “Wear an orange or peach-colored scarf around your neck. That makes your complexion glow and makes you look more attractive” (Flirting Tip #43).

Secondly: In the meantime, women are using the Internet very successfully to defend themselves against such sex-role clichés. And above all, to present counter-examples.

The current shitstorm also arises from a third cause: For days, the Net has been buzzing, not about the lovely Bravo list, but about hot, hot hotpants. Under the hashtag #hotpantsverbot, all of Germany is debating whether it’s prudish or appropriate for the director of a vocational school in Horb-Altheim to bring in a dress code for her school. The Bravo list is just a sideshow.

The main show is, no doubt about it, the female body in itself, which is being discussed over and over again, whether it’s about hotpants or flirting tips. And as is so often the case, here again there are only two poles in the discussion: Women should be modest and pleasing. Or: Women should be (but now reallytrulyfinallysupervoluntarily) sexy. Madonna and whore. What women are never allowed to do: Simply be.

Meanwhile, Bravo has taken down the 100 tips. The magazine writes: “Last week, we published an article on the subject ‘100 tips for a knockout aura’, which has been the cause for discussion by some of you, but in particular the media public. We were criticized for painting a backward picture of women. In fact, some of the tips are absolutely unfortunate, and on the whole, the report doesn’t meet the quality standards that we ourselves have set. For this, we would like to expressly apologize.”

It’s a small victory.

Translation mine. Links as in original.

A victory, indeed. And one that could only have happened with today’s communication technology and networks. How I wish the Internet had existed when I was a confused young thing. Oh, what fun I’d have had hashtagging all the idiocy that came my way. Here’s a small sampling:

I think I saw “tips” just like those on The Brady Bunch, once. Or was it The Partridge Family? It’s hard to remember. I was just a kid. It was like 40 years ago, and I’m an Old. But the show did demonstrate how silly such tips were, because they always backfired spectacularly on the poor girl who tried to implement them. The take-home message: This “advice” is outdated and dumb. And if you try to use it, you’ll look outdated and dumb, too.

And then, just when you’d think some progress had been made, I saw the exact same crap in the teen magazines I read in the 1980s…all the while shaking my little messy head (no doubt ratty from all that ditzy hair-twirling, which is a disgusting nervous habit, not “girly and sweet”), and wondering how on Earth this “advice” (which smelled of 1950s-vintage mothballs) was supposed to be practical. Because it was all so blatantly contradictory: Be yourself, guys like natural women! Here, go on this crash diet to fit into this hot outfit! No, wait: Boys like ’em curvy, so eat those two scoops of ice cream and don’t worry about it! But don’t overdo the burgers and fries. You are what you eat! You wouldn’t want to turn into a cow or a greasy potato, would you?

I swear, I read reams of that. Wish I still had those rags, if only so I could scan a few representative pages and show ’em to you. It was a mind-fuck, kiddies.

Also, I think I’ve actually tried Bravo Tip #20. Inadvertently, mind you, since I really AM a little klutz, and I used to get discombobulated (and still sometimes do) at the mere sight of L’Amour Du Jour. Unfortunately, I don’t recall him finding it cute at all. Most likely, he thought I was an idiot. As did I. (That may have been the only real thing he and I ever had in common. Damn!)

And while I really do look good in peach, and must confess I do own quite a few scarves that color, I’ve never worn it just to flirt. Mostly, I wore it because I liked it, and liked how I looked in it, and how it made me feel: warm, cozy, quietly confident, and for once, MYSELF. Yes, that’s right: I WORE IT FOR MYSELF, AND NOT SOME DAMN DUMB DUDE. (Sorry for the ALL FUCKING CAPS SHOUTING, but it had to be said out loud.)

Oh yeah: Speaking of damn dumb dudes, here’s something else from the ol’ Eighties memory bank: Thirteen-year-old me had the (cough) privilege of having one boy I had a minor crush on at the time tell me that he didn’t know why I bothered with makeup, because he didn’t like it. As though I was doing it for HIM. No, Jim, it wasn’t for YOU. It was for ME. Dabbing different colors on one’s face is a surprisingly introspective, meditative art for some of us. It’s our own private theatre, and we do it for the fun of seeing what new persona emerges in the mirror, not to rouse (or kill) your stupid boner.

(And, in case you’re wondering: No, I didn’t like Jim anymore after he gave me that little unsolicited bit of “advice”. Not even hardly. I felt nothing for him after that but a sickly mixture of pity and contempt. Sucks to be you, Jim.)

And this was just the first time. There were others. I kept running afoul of “Jim”, in one form or another, all through high school, university, journalism school, and so on. Maybe it’s just as well I had no tweeter back then; there were way too many guys to put on blast, and who has the time for that? I was too busy trying to unfuck my head every time they’d messed with it. I’ve given up all hope of finding out at what precise age they outgrow it. I suspect they never do, because no one ever tells them to. I certainly never could, because I could never rehinge my jaw in time; the sheer force of the gobsmack is too great. Always, always it amazes me how dim a technically very bright, adult guy can be when confronted with a female person who doesn’t live up to his petty expectations.

It’s like they all revert to the mental age of 13; probably because by that age, they’ve already been programmed by propaganda to think of us as Lesser Beings. It’s not their hormones talking; it’s their training. Little boys get taught early and often to think of females as lesser, if they think of them at all. And they get shitty advice on how to deal with us, too. Fathers pass it on to sons, men’s mags pass it on to readers (who are usually boys hitting puberty and looking for something to wank to), and on and on it goes in an endless vicious loop. And just at the age where they’re starting to think of girls as something other than cootie-ridden pink things, BLAMMO! — out comes all that ingrained sexism in one rude, cutting “opinion” that no one asked for. GIGO has never held more true.

Pity no one ever teaches boys that opening their big yaps and letting ‘er rip can instantly kill any liking or respect a girl might have for them. Maybe boys’ and men’s mags should carry articles on that sometime, instead of all the vapid fap-fodder they print that’s not fit to wipe one’s ass with.

And yeah, how about just letting women and girls simply BE? Not to do, be, wear things, etc. AT some male or other, but to do, be and wear things to please no one but our own fine selves?

Clearly, that all is too much to ask. Only boys are allowed to simply be (and boys will be boys, don’tcha know). Girls have to be…well, whatever boys want them to be. Which has no clear definition but, it seems, is anything but themselves. And has been since time out of mind…

Maybe it’s time to resurrect the old Anti-Flirt Club. This time with a new purpose: not to slut-shame or morally panic young women into acting more modestly in the vain hope that all those bounders and cads would stop getting the wrong idea (because they get those wrong ideas from other men, not women), but to teach the guys that the gals don’t exist just for their use and pleasure. That girls and women are people, and no matter what they look like, or do, they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. And that when you treat them right, good things happen. Things like true friendships, honest communication, and the sense that love and life are collaborative adventures, not a messy brawl in which there can only be one victor.

Think it would catch on?

Of knockout drops and pudding pops: The “respectability” of Bill Cosby

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Isn’t this old Bloom County ‘toon prescient? Because yes, there is finally a black man in the White House, and sure ‘nough, he’s a conservative — and fuck all those racist idiot ratbastards who claim he’s a socialist from Kenya. They know nothing about Kenya. Or socialism. (BTW, Bloom County is FINALLY coming back to the newspapers this year, presumably to make hay off Donald Trump’s toupée. Yay!)

Anyhow. Black conservatism, a.k.a. Respectability Politics, is what I came here to rant about this fine morning. And yes, Bill Cosby figures prominently in all that.

About ten years ago, you see, Bill Cosby said something about black kids needing to dress better and act more respectable, so all the totally-not-racist white people would finally start treating them as human beings, instead of the filthy animals they’ve long been made out to be — first under slavery, then Jim Crow, and most recently, drug policing. That latter, by the way, is what spawned the sloppy-pants trend in the first place.

It’s called “sagging” now, but originally it was called jailing, and it all began when black kids started being rounded up en masse and sent to jail for extended periods — often for the kind of simple, small-scale marijuana possession that would get a richer — ahem, more respectable — white kid let off with a warning. In the jails, you’re stripped of anything you might want to hang yourself with, be it belts, shoelaces, or what have you. So you have no choice but to slop around in baggy pants hanging off your skinny hips, and unlaced sneakers too big for your feet. The fashion became an ironic commentary on the futility and stupidity of trying to be “respectable” when nobody respected you, just on the basis of your color alone.

And then Bill Cosby came out with that whole “pull up your pants” shit. Like he hadn’t even been paying attention to what was going on while black kids were being decimated by crack cocaine (which the CIA, by the way, actively allowed to come in, because those cuddly Nicaraguan “Contras” who trafficked the stuff just needed some love!)

It was a stupid thing to say, and it was precisely the sort of thing one would expect of someone who couldn’t bring himself to say the R-word, because those same oh-so-conservative white folks who made the bad drug laws (and let the bad drugs into the ghettoes) had, after all, bankrolled him. And how could Bill denounce something that had basically made him who he is? Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima are fictional figures, based on the old plantation stereotypes of happy, respectable “house negroes”, but Bill Cosby was the real, present-day thing, and he made a lot of boodle pushing Jell-O Pudding Pops. Chocolate AND vanilla!

And now we know that the entire time he was preaching Respectability and shit, Bill Cosby was, in fact, pushing illegal drugs himself. Onto women. Black women, white women, didn’t make no nevermind to ol’ Bill. He liked both chocolate AND vanilla, and he preferred them all to be unconscious when he did…well, whatever it was he did to them that none of them can remember a thing of after he fed them alcohol laced with knockout drops.

When you get dozens of women all describing remarkably similar patterns of behavior, you know something is hinky in Huxtable Manor. You’d think that the word of at least 50 different women would be enough to send him up Shit Creek, but no. Nothing less than an admission of guilt — to buying Quaaludes under seven prescriptions! — was enough to finally convince respectable (cough) folks that yes, Bill Cosby DID rape all those women whom nobody believed.

What’s really shameful was how he got away with such blatant abuse for decades. Even now, Bill Cosby is still not in jail. Because, as Cee Lo Green said, it ain’t rape if you can’t remember shit. Right?

WRONG.

It IS rape when the victim can’t remember what happened between that funky-tasting drink he kept urging her to have (and which she didn’t actually want), and waking up sore between her legs the next morning while he hung around her naked self in his bathrobe, looking all weirdly smug. It is, by definition, rape — because she did not consent to being penetrated. The very fact that her assailant had to administer drugs to make her pliable ought to be a huge red flag.

But the proponents of Respectability are especially hard on women, be they chocolate or vanilla. You can’t prove anything! they say. She took that drink willingly! That means she consented to sex! Women don’t accept drinks from men unless they want to — and if they do, that makes them filthy sluts whom you should never believe!

Wrong again. Wrong, wrong, wrongity-wrong WRONG.

Taking a drink of alcohol — especially one that’s been drugged and urged upon you by a man with ulterior motives — is NOT consent. Only the word “yes”, freely and consciously given, is consent. Only if a man asks if you want to have sex, and you say you do, is it consent. There is nothing difficult or complicated or “grey” about this, people. Anything outside of that simple, clear band is coercion, and that makes these creepy encounters rape. By definition.

But even now, the proponents of Respectability are still trying to spin this to make their misogyny (and their misogynoir) look normal. You see some mighty strange things at the corner of Racist and Sexist, including old married ladies who, even knowing that their husbands have done wrong, still defend him as though their own lives depended on his innocence. Yes, Camille Cosby, I’m talking about YOU here. Being his business manager, as well as his wife, no doubt gives you a stake in his “respectable” image…and also makes you complicit in his crimes, when all’s said. After all, covering up a crime is a crime in itself.

Bill Cosby is no Trayvon Martin. He’s no Emmett Till, either. There is no need to defend him in the name of black kids who couldn’t defend themselves. He is perfectly capable of sticking up for himself if he so pleases. Nobody’s lynching him for crimes he did not commit. He’s still walking free, and still making money off his public appearances, where he routinely tells unfunny “jokes” about how to get women to “have sex with” you by drugging them. And it seems that he will go right on doing so until a warrant goes out for his arrest — or someone flings rotten tomatoes and makes them stick, whichever comes first. Money, and the appearance of respectability it confers, goes a long way toward excusing just about anything, you see. And he’s still making it by the bucketful. In his sleep, even.

Yes, I do believe it is finally okay to loathe Bill Cosby and his fucking pudding pops. And all the racism and sexism that he’s perpetuated in the name of Respectability, too.

“Behind closed doors”: How domestic violence led to a rampage in Austria

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Another day, another rampage, another vigil. This time, it’s in the downtown pedestrian zone of Graz, where a young man drove at full speed into a crowd…on purpose. What lurks behind such “senseless” violence? EMMA investigated, and found the following:

Just imagining it puts a lump in one’s throat. On a summer day around 12 noon in the middle of Graz, a man flooring it at 150 km/h in a pedestrian zone kills three people. Exactly where passersby stroll and people sit at café tables. He just mows them down with his green SUV, adults and children alike.

Then he gets out and attacks a couple with a knife. Gets back in, and races on through the inner city. Three people die immediately, 36 are injured, some of them clinging to life. “The inner city is like an open wound. It will take a long time to heal,” says Austrian minister of the Interior, Johanna Mikl-Leitner.

The man in question is a 26-year-old truck driver. He grew up near Graz, after leaving war-torn Bosnia with his family as a small boy. He is believed to have suffered a psychotic break on the day in question, according to authorities. But at the same time, he must have planned his crime exactly. Otherwise it would be impossible to explain how he could have backed up for such a distance with his SUV before he hit the gas and then raced toward the people and chased them down in a targeted manner. Psychologist Salvatore Giacomuzzi, of the University of Innsbruck, speaks of “ice-cold calculation”.

The Bosnian man who drove his green SUV into the pedestrian zone is now sitting in the Jakomini jail in Graz. His process has just begun; until now, he was impossible to talk to. So we still know very little.

In the report of the rampage in the Styrian capital city there is, however, another detail that brings a lump to one’s throat. But the fear, in this case, creeps up rather slowly. When local police director Josef Klamminger speaks of a “relationship crime”. The 26-year-old has already previously “shown himself to be violent”. But not in public; behind closed doors at home. In May, he was charged with violence against his wife and two sons in their home. Even before that, the police had been called to the scene several times. Once, the police confiscated a rifle. The wife, according to various media, has fled with the children to Bosnia. According to other press reports, the wife was arrested and interrogated in Graz on Sunday, but had known nothing of her husband’s plans. She had filed for divorce some time ago.

A man very injured in his pride, who is capable of driving his SUV at 150 into a pedestrian zone — what could he be capable of doing behind closed doors, where no one can see him?

Of course, such a rampage doesn’t just create a nationwide shock, but a wave of sympathy for the victims and their loved ones, too. Of course such rampages are followed by expert analyses over violence in general, and the question of what could drive a 26-year-old to do such a thing, and how it could be prevented in future.

But just as naturally, precisely because of its details, this case should become an occasion to talk about a form of violence that, even in 2015, is blanketed in silence and in this case, is directly connected: Domestic violence. Which happens every day, without anyone knowing about it. Which unleashes no national shock or public mourning. Even though thousands, if not millions, are affected by it. All the women, who fall victim to the terrorism of their boyfriends and husbands each and every day: rampagers behind closed doors.

In Austria, on average, an estimated 30 women are killed by their (ex-)husbands or (ex-)boyfriends every year. “Often, the murder is the terrible climax of a long history of violence, and usually, the murderers make their crimes known ahead of time,” according to the Austrian Women’s Help Line Against Violence in their yearly report from 2014. The femicides are “just the tip of the iceberg; the level of reported violence against women is very high and the number of unreported crimes is presumably much higher still.” Of the more than 8,000 callers to the hotline that year, 7,000 were female.

Meanwhile, the Agency of the European Union for Basic Rights found in a Europe-wide study that every fifth Austrian woman over the age of 15 falls victim to physical or sexual violence. Every tenth one suffers violence from a partner or ex-partner. In Germany, it’s no better: Every third woman falls victim to physical or sexual assault, every fifth one within or after the breakup of a relationship. Germany represents the European average with those figures. And this too is in the report: The majority of these victims don’t report partner violence to the police or an aid organization.

Even rampages, according to recent history, are all too often motivated by hatred toward (strong) women. Two examples among many: In Montréal, Québec, in 1989, Marc Lépine opened fire on female students in an engineering school with the words: “I hate feminists!” 25 years later, in Santa Barbara, California, mass killer Elliot Rodger wrote, before his rampage: “I’m the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman….I will attack the very girls who represent everything I hate in the female gender: The hottest sorority of UCSB.”

Such statements, so far, are not known in Graz. But looking at the depressing details of that rampage, one question keeps coming up: How can we get large violent outbreaks under control, when we ignore the small ones so criminally? It’s not surprising that violence that goes on unhindered for months or years behind closed doors can explode, can at some point break out on a larger stage — such as the downtown core of Graz. Above all, when the lightning rod suddenly disappears. For the wife of the rampager of Graz has dared to do something, that most victims of domestic violence take a long time to do, if at all: She escaped from her tormentor.

Translation mine.

So we can see a number of layers of social trouble at work here. Domestic violence as precursor to violent rampages in the street; the lingering mental torments of the Balkan wars in survivors; the shockingly high number of assaults on women by intimate male partners in both Austria and Germany (and remember, these countries represent the European median for inter-partner violence of this nature); and the prevalence, throughout the world, of spoiled, entitled males exacting a gory “revenge” on women when they don’t get their way, be it in work or in love.

Most significant, for me, is the fact that this man (and presumably, his wife as well) is a survivor of the Bosnian conflict. In the Balkans, violence against women was a weapon of war, and a grotesque means of “ethnic cleansing”. Raping a woman on the enemy side, leaving her pregnant with an enemy’s child — this happened thousands of times. It’s a trauma that has marked and scarred women and girls from the 1990s to this day. Yet as traumatic as it is for the female survivors, none of them to date has gone on a violent rampage. It’s always been their partners. Why?

Could it be, maybe, the fact that their “manhood” was somehow offended by all the mass assaults on “their” women — a reproach against their “failure” to “defend” their “honor” properly? And that ever since that time, they’ve been trying to “get their manhood back” by taking out their rage and controlling impulses on the women, rather than dealing with the unresolved pain of that time in a more constructive manner?

If that’s the case, then it’s little wonder that this one ran amuck when his wife left him. When she escaped his violent, bullying control, she stripped him of what was left of his perceived “manhood”.

The only really surprising thing, in the end, is that this hasn’t happened more often. It’s not as if there’s any lack of motives, means or opportunity. Machismo and sexism are global problems. And that’s why trying to prevent individual rampages like this will probably fail; society is failing to tackle the root causes of male rage and vengefulness. Instead, it’s putting the onus and the blame on women, when it should be teaching men to stop viewing women as “property” that is “ruined” by another man’s hand. Until we collectively make machismo, rage and violence obsolete, we can only expect more of the same.

Posted in Balkan Yogurt, Bullies, Confessions of a Bad German, Isn't That Illegal?, Law-Law Land, Men Who Just Don't Get It, Uppity Wimmin. Comments Off on “Behind closed doors”: How domestic violence led to a rampage in Austria »

German women take on brothel ads

brothel-ad

Karina Alteweier, a physician assistant in Leverkusen, Germany, points out an example of the kind of advertising she’s fighting in her city. Right next to it, a children’s musical is advertised. The brothel’s name, address, and other details are blocked out, but you can see that a day pass to enter the premises costs 55 euros. That’s dirt cheap, considering what it costs the women and girls who are typically imported from Eastern Europe to service those places (because there are not many German women who would freely contemplate such a job). EMMA interviewed Karina about what she does when she sees such ads…which, by the way, are illegal according to the local vice code.

EMMA: Frau Alteweier, you’ve been fighting for years against brothel advertising in your city. You’ve even gone to the complaint department of the mayor’s office.

KA: Exactly. I informed them there that according to Paragraphs 119 and 120 of the vice code, advertising for brothels is not allowed.

EMMA: How did you get involved against brothel advertising?

KA: One morning in 2011, on my way to work, I saw a huge billboard for the megabrothel “Pascha”, in Köln. My head exploded. I can’t accept that prostitution gets advertised as if it were ice cream — as if it were the most normal thing in the world. For me, as a woman, that’s discriminatory. And what image of women does that give our young people? I’m the mother of a 21-year-old son, and it’s horrific for me to imagine him going to a bordello. When I asked him about it, he got mad and said, “Mama, how can you think such a thing?”

And moreover, what effect must such an ad have on the victims of sexual abuse? For a woman who was abused as a child or a teenager, it must be like a slap in the face to see the sexual availability of women being advertised so casually.

EMMA: What did you do?

KA: I complained everywhere. I even called the police. There, they were very cranky and downright rude. And at the company that rents the ad space, an employee waved me off: “What’s the matter with you, that’s a chic photo!” So I went to the city offices, where there’s always an open ear for me. I also turned to the press. They reported it in a big, critical way. Some of the ads also hung along a school route, and mothers protested against that as well. Then the ads disappeared.

EMMA: The Pascha ads haven’t appeared again since then. But now there’s a megabrothel in Erkrath advertising for some time with the headline “100 Girls”.

KA: It all started with small flyers pasted up on bridges. I also complained about that to the city. So then the city put up signs in various places: “No advertising!” Meanwhile, this brothel has been putting up huge billboards. I counted them. Here in Leverkusen alone, there are at least ten. So then I called the city offices and had those ads taken down too, but it took three weeks. So my complaints have almost always had results.

EMMA: But that’s not enough for you.

KA: No. I don’t want to have to complain again and again every time there’s an ad. I want the city to make clear that it won’t tolerate any brothel advertising, and that ad space must not be rented to brothels in the first place. For that reason, on May 11, I wrote another letter of complaint to the city and asked to make use of my right to speak to the complaint department.

EMMA: How did the department react?

KA: Before the session, they sent me back a letter saying that there is a “changed understanding on the part of the public regarding prostitution”, and that one would have to deal with the advertising on a “case by case” basis. For instance, one would have to see if there were hints of “forced” prostitution, or “prostitution of minors”. As if they would write that on their billboards! Also, there are other cities, like for example Bremen, that don’t allow any brothel advertising at all.

EMMA: How did the complaint department respond to that?

KA: I told them again that advertising for prostitution is illegal, and then read them the corresponding paragraphs. I also told them that I know many people in my area who are not at all tolerant of prostitution, and don’t find this brothel advertising acceptable at all. But some of the department members didn’t listen to me at all, and just talked amongst themselves. They didn’t want to discuss it, either. After my presentation, they decided to keep things as they were. Luckily, a lady from the press was sitting next to me. She was disgusted at their ignorance and offered to write an article about this consultation.

EMMA: Meanwhile, you have the support of equality commissioner Sabine Rusch-Witthorn.

KA: She accompanied me to the sitting at my request, and plans to keep going with the topic.

EMMA: You too?

KA: Naturally! I have so much support. My chief physician and my colleagues all share my opinion completely. Whenever they read an article on the matter in the paper, they say: “You’re completely right, we see it that way too!” And there are always lots of supportive letters from the readers. That affirms and encourages me, naturally. I’m sticking with it; I can’t do otherwise. Every time I see such an ad, my motor starts running again.

Translation mine.

Karina’s battle is uphill, and little wonder: Germany’s bordellos bring in billions of euros a year in gross revenue. There are nearly half a million women in prostitution there, most of them foreigners. It’s a vicious circle: Legalization creates normalization; normalization creates demand; demand spurs traffickers to increase the supply of prostituted persons from out of country; more supply, more normalization; more normalization, more money!

And as long as the brothel operators pay their taxes and the police don’t get too many calls about violence on the premises (even though it happens, and far more often than is mentioned in the media), the city authorities don’t much care what goes on in there. It takes nothing less than the most flagrant human rights abuses, disease outbreaks, and accusations of human trafficking that stick before a bordello gets shuttered. The money apparently matters more than the well-being of the girls, who are typically under 20 and speak little German (or English) beyond what it takes to reel off a price list and negotiate a transaction. It’s a situation where abuse isn’t a glitch, it’s a feature.

And if you think it’s any safer in brothels than it is on the street, read Rebecca Mott’s interview here and find out why pro-prostitution campaigners are so eager to push the “indoors = harm reduction” meme. You’ll see it has a lot less to do with prostituted people’s safety than it does with lack of accountability, and the abusers’ and exploiters’ ability to get away with everything (up to and including murder). Off the street is out of sight, and out of sight is out of mind…or so the pimp lobby reckons.

Of course, as brazen as they are, they reckoned without the likes of Karina and her colleagues, who aren’t fooled by all this defensive, dismissive talk of a “changed morality” in Germany. It’s a bald-faced lie that all German women support prostitution, seeing it as an “escape valve” for “dangerous impulses” that would otherwise lead to rape. Rape is still happening, and in fact is more rampant than ever; unprostituted women are now afraid to walk through red-light districts because drunken brothel patrons often accost them on the street! (Normalization creates demand, remember?)

It’s also a lie that the country is better and happier since prostitution was legalized in 2001. It might be richer in some small parts, thanks to horny foreigners on sex tours, but that’s not an improvement! The wealth is not trickling down. Most prostitutes are desperately poor when they enter, and no better off when they exit. Women are still being assaulted, abused and murdered, and many of them are in prostitution when it happens. The closed doors of the brothel conceal a multitude of crimes against humanity. And the spillover from that reaches onto the streets, too…where prostitution hasn’t exactly abated, either.

These activists, however, know their local laws and are disgusted with the blatant abuses going on under their noses. And they will not stop opposing the pimps’ efforts to turn a profit at everyone else’s expense. Even those with no children to worry about can figure out for themselves what it must feel like to someone who was sexually abused at an early age to see acts similar to those committed against her being “legally” advertised for sale…on a billboard, a wall, or a city bus. To such individuals, the city authorities’ reluctance to step in and stop it must feel like a whole fresh round of abuse.

A few random thoughts about race and gender (and religion, guns and terrorism)

whoever-fights-monsters

Ahem. For the past week or so, my mind’s been getting messed with by people who are idiots when it comes to race and gender. Not all of them the usual suspects of FUX Snooze, either. So I’ll beg your pardon pre-emptively if I ramble or explode along the way.

Where to begin?

Well, I’ve unfriended some Facebook friends, and been unfriended too — and all of these ex-friends and un-friends had one thing in common: They staunchly refuse to get a grasp on what gender actually means. They claim it’s a binary (actually, it’s a spectrum), and are trying to erase it and replace it with an actual binary called, merely, SEX. Only two options available: Male and Female, assigned at birth, immutable. Intersex people, if acknowledged at all, are only grudgingly done so (mostly as “rare exceptions” — awful white of you, sisters.) They thus stubbornly refuse to accept trans women as women. They even believe, absurdly, that trans women are part of some Men’s Rights plot to infiltrate and eliminate all women’s spaces with the wave of a willy. Uh, no. Actual MRAs, like themselves, are all “ewwww, trannies ICKY!” Ironic, no? They claim to stand up for the most oppressed, but actually, they are the meanest kids on the feminist playground when it comes to women who get killed for being trans as well as women, and they are perversely proud of that.

Several of my friends have been viciously purged, too. All for the same reason. And yet, these women call themselves radical feminists. The most sisterly of the whole feminist sisterhood! Whoopee!

What could be so radical, or so feminist, about excluding an entire category of women from consideration AS WOMEN, simply by falling back on the (false) binary sex assigned to those women at birth, I do not know. I do know that they are incredibly hostile to even the slightest challenge to their simplistic received wisdoms (which all seem to come from some very outdated and elaborately stupid books of theory) and that their skins are so thin that the merest poke of intruding reality makes them explode.

They’re also downright snarky about trans women’s allegedly “fake” gender (which is actually their real one, coming out from behind a lifelong wall of the very toxic masculinity that self-styled radfems ironically claim to be trying to dismantle). And snotty as hell about “women’s lived experiences” (completely ignoring the actual lived experiences of a woman who has been forced by society to occupy the body and mannerisms of a man). Apparently, you’re not a real woman to them unless you were born with the full standard set of female parts — because, in their rigid, sex-essentialistic binary view of things, only those girls born with proper girly bits have the requisite “female energy”.

Oddly, these same “radicals” glorify good ol’ apple-pie motherhood as one of those “lived experiences”, chock-full of “female energy” that all “real” women allegedly share. Which is ironic coming from them, after all the decades feminists have spent campaigning for birth control, body autonomy, abortion rights, and the right to forego motherhood altogether if one so chooses. (Guess I’m a fake woman for going on the Pill, and later having my tubes tied, and choosing to be the mother of nothing except maybe creativity and cats. Thanks so much for all that validation of my lived experiences, sisters.)

Most ironic of all, they’re vying so hard to be lefter-than-left and feminister-than-feminist that they’ve somehow come out on the far right. They’re so transphobic — oh sorry, “gender-critical” — that they actually get their “scientific information” about trans women from Lifesite, one of the most unscientific, anti-woman sites there is. Some are so scared of people taking hormones for therapeutic purposes (ahem, irregular periods here) that they’re even now campaigning against the Pill, and again relying on odious anti-choice sites from the Religious Reich (which are full of outdated and false information) to make their “scientific” case for them. Incidentally, a lot of tinfoil-hatted MRAs share their pharmacophobia (because drugs are “emasculating”, natch!) with this particular brand of “feminist”. Ironies, like bigotries, tend to cluster!

I’ve lost count of the number of far-right articles and websites I’ve seen them toss at others in their desperation to beat back real, radical social change. In addition to the Religious Reich misogyny of Lifesite, there was Alex Jones’s Infowars, which hurls shit at feminists every chance its flying-monkey crew get. I’ve even seen VDare — a notorious white-supremacist siteused to back up their transphobia. (I guess I shouldn’t be so shocked, in retrospect; this same bunch of so-called radical feminists also bristled against the phrase “white feminism”, which was coined to make clear that we’ve still got a long way to go on matters of racial equality, justice, and liberation from all manner of racism. Now why would they not welcome a reminder of THAT?)

In short, these former friends won’t be missed, at least from where I sit. On the contrary, my Facebook feed smells fresher without their ideological dungheaps on it.

What really clinched the decision to unfriend, for me, was a spate of ideological diarrhea which takes a remarkably similar line about race, trying (and failing) to tie it in to the gender mess somehow. And all of it was prompted by the outing of Rachel Dolezal, the white professor and former Spokane NAACP leader who claimed to be black. This was followed by a lot of smug “gotcha” spitballing about how, if racial identity could not be faked, then why wasn’t that also true of gender? Why wasn’t anyone screaming about Caitlyn — oh sorry, “Bruce” Jenner having the temerity to pass “himself” off as a woman? (Coming from people who pooh-pooh all talk of intersectionality, this issue-mixing is downright rich.)

Of course, as usual, they own-goaled themselves. While they were all so busy chasing their tails around their own little misguided interpretations of gender (and, no doubt, batting away all well-earned charges of their own unexamined racism), they completely ignored what any genuine radical feminist, white or otherwise, should be aware of in the Dolezal case: the fact that Rachel Dolezal’s white biological parents were also religious home-schoolers of a strict (and horribly abusive) kind. That her own biological brother was a molester and a racist, and no doubt protected, much like the notoriously transphobic Josh Duggar, by those same abusive parents. The same who later piped up just to out Rachel as fake-black when some hate mail she allegedly received was being investigated by the authorities. Not to excuse any of the wrong (and possibly illegal) things she has done, but let me just say this: If those were my parents, I’d be tripping all over myself to get them the hell out of my life, too. So yeah, I’m not a bit surprised that Rachel Dolezal tried to disown them in the most radical way she could think of (and indeed, in a radical way most of us would NEVER think of): by trying to pass as a person of another color.

And neither am I surprised that the awfully white “radfems” of my acquaintance again missed the point, and sided with what really are all of feminism’s sworn enemies. By sniping at trans people’s cross-gender “passing” and taking cheap shots at “transracialism” (which is not a thing, much less one related to transgenderism), they pretty much convinced me that they are nobody’s friends. When your “gender-critical” viewpoint on trans people and abused women starts to smell just like the overt bigotries of ‘winger idiots like Keith Fucking Ablow and Michelle Fucking Duggar, or tinfoil hatters like Alex Fucking Jones, I don’t even want to be in the same room with you. You’re not a radical; you’re not a feminist; you’re not anywhere on the left anymore. Take off your false “radical feminist” identity, and fuck off. You may as well cop to being a far-right woman-hating racist, because that is the group you have joined forces with.

And if that is your ideology, then maybe you should heartily approve of what Dylann Storm Roof has done in Charleston. He invaded a historic black church. He shot blacks. He killed blacks. Most of them were women. And he did it because, to paraphrase what he himself said, black men rape white women. How killing black women is supposed to stop interracial rape, I don’t know. His imagination is a drug-addled pornographic fever swamp of antebellum southern racism. No doubt he was hoping for some kind of “racial holy war” to break out in the wake of his terrorist deed, and for more gun-toting whites to go on more anti-black purges. He has three Confederate flags on his South Carolina licence plate, and two flags from colonial, white-rule Southern Africa on his jacket. (I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if his browser history, like that of my so-called radfem acquaintances, shows a lot of visits to Christian right and white supremacist sites. Politics, strange bedfellows, etc.!)

And if you don’t want to endorse his actions, you might do well to sit down, wake up, knock off the defensive jibber-jabber, stop looking to far-right extremism for your justifications, and finally face all the oppressive -isms and -phobias you’ve internalized so very well. Have you forgotten that these systems were put there to keep women and non-white people in “their” place, which is squarely under the bootheels of white men? Have you forgotten that just like trans women are doing now, lesbians and black women have had to fight for inclusion as women and feminists, and that the movement is better for having them in it? Need I remind you, sisters, that it won’t lift ANY women up when you throw other women under that ol’ bus?

If the best you can do to back up your so-called radical feminism is to flail your arms and spout viewpoints identical to those of the most reactionary, racist, and antifeminist of all conservatives, you’re not just doing intersectionality wrong; you’re doing radicalism and feminism both wrong. And if you want to do it right, you need to fight that sexist, racist, transphobic bigot in yourself. Otherwise, you’ll end up losing a lot more than just a slew of friends who have, collectively, gotten sick of your shit.

Happy Juneteenth, BTW.

Puerto Ricans march for independence, again

puerto-rican-demo

“Independence NOW!” reads the banner that headed up this march through the smoking hot streets of San Juan. And, with UN debate on the matter now less than a week away, it appears that this issue is coming to a head:

In a massive demonstration that took place in the streets o the capital, San Juan, thousands of Puerto Ricans protested against the United States and demanded their country’s independence after 117 years of colonial oppression.

[…]

This popular demonstration took place for the second year in a row, and comes just one week before the case of Puerto Rico will be debated in an audience with the Decolonization Committee of the United Nations.

The proponents of the case in the UN decolonization forum consider that the support offered by countries such as Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua is not the only key part in the presentation, which is to take place on June 22, but that it is also crucial to add other supports from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

Independence movements called for unity, and ratified their commitment to the cause. They also celebrated the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in the re-establishment of diplomatic ties with the US, an event which the demonstrators believe will strengthen the independence struggle of Puerto Rico.

After decades of struggle, this march for Puerto Rico’s independence once again brought together diverse political and social sectors, who advocate an end to colonialism and call for the full sovereignty of a territory which for 117 years has been under control of the United States.

Translation mine.

This also comes less than a week after some Menz Rightzer idiot from the US called for his crackpot co-religionists to move to an island to get away from the evils of feminism and the imminent takeover of their country by nasty-wasty wimminzez. The island in question? Puerto Rico.

Somehow, I get the impression that the Puerto Ricans won’t be ceding these guys a third of their country. If what Filiberto Ojeda Ríos says in the clip at the opening of this Calle 13 video is any indication, the MRAs and MGTOW factions won’t be welcomed with open arms, but arms of a very different nature:

“How is it possible that we could permit invaders to disrupt the peace of our home? They’re meddling in our homes and are in fact attacking us in the way they intend to attack us. I have no intention of allowing them to do that. Not because I’m the bravest man in the world. It’s a question of dignity and honor.”

Filiberto died bravely ten years ago at the hands of the FBI, but the people of Puerto Rico have taken up the struggle in his wake. And as he says at the video’s close: Que viva Puerto Rico LIBRE. ¡Hasta la victoria siempre!

Posted in Cuba, Libre (de los Yanquis), Men Who Just Don't Get It, Puerto Rico, Gente Pobre, The United States of Amnesia, Uppity Wimmin. Comments Off on Puerto Ricans march for independence, again »

Quotable: Meryl Streep on losing patience

Posted in Quotable Notables, Uppity Wimmin. Comments Off on Quotable: Meryl Streep on losing patience »

The Harper Legacy: empty monuments, nothing for native women

mother-canada

Meet “Mother Canada”. If you’ve never heard of her, you’re not alone. She’s a figment of Harpocratic imagination, with no real basis in Canadian culture or history. And she’s supposedly meant to honor the veterans and the dead of World War II. But those whom she’s meant to please aren’t so impressed:

“It’s vulgar and ostentatious. It doesn’t do anything for veterans or definitely not for the people who are dead,” says Valerie Bird, a 93-year-old Second World War veteran.

And environmental experts are even less enthused:

“It will be a huge scientific loss to the whole Canadian scientific community if this project goes ahead.”

The statue by the Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation, dubbed Mother Canada, would be 30 metres high and feature a woman with her arms outstretched toward Europe. The plan also includes parking for 300 vehicles, a restaurant, souvenir shop and an interpretive centre.

Howard said the complex isn’t compatible with Parks Canada’s mandate to preserve and protect the land for future generations. He believes it will deter visitors who are attracted to the region and the Cabot Trail for its geography and natural beauty.

“It will go right over the most precious part of the geological formation,” he says. “There’s nothing like it in national parks before. They’ll do a lot of damage by Christmas, unless we stand up now.”

But hey, guess who loves it? Yup, Cons with a fetish for war…and European immigration:

Lewis MacKenzie, a retired major-general, is one of the prominent backers of the project. He said the location is ideal because it may have been one of the last parts of Canada seen by people leaving for the First World War and the Second World War, and one of the first seen upon their return.

“The design, when you see it, is extremely attractive,” he said. “It’s extremely welcoming not only to the souls of those interred abroad, but also for new Canadians. If it’s a spot for reflection, I can’t think of a better one.”

And what about new Canadians coming from Africa, Asia, Oceania, the US, Latin America and the Caribbean? What monuments do they get to see, beyond the arrivals centre of whatever airport they flew in through? Will there be a replica of this statue on every baggage carousel, or what? Somehow, I just can’t see any Mother Canada figures facing west or south. Apparently, people from those directions are less likely to be white, and since we didn’t fight on their behalf during the world wars, but only for England, well…sorry, folks, you just don’t count.

But don’t feel too bad. You’re not the only ones who don’t count for Harpo & Co.:

Federal Conservatives have suggested they will reject calls from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for both a public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and Canada’s implementation of a landmark United Nations document on First Nations’ rights.

On Tuesday, the TRC released a long-awaited report on the shameful legacy of the residential school system. The push for a national inquiry and adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People were both included among 94 wide-ranging recommendations.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has previously ruled out taking both actions and, in question period, hinted its position was unlikely to change.

[…]

Canada was the only country to flag objections about the declaration at a special UN General Assembly meeting in September. Ottawa expressed concern at the time over legal wording that could be construed as giving a possible “veto for aboriginal groups.”

Last month, Conservatives also voted down a private member’s bill from Cree NDP MP Romeo Saganash — a residential school survivor — that sought to align Canadian law with the declaration.

So there you go. Native Canadians, especially missing and murdered women (who were often sold in human trafficking and prostitution) get nothing. No monument, no public inquiry, and certainly no say in what gets done about the injustices done to them over many decades. Nothing. Nada. Bupkus. Zippo. Zilch. Nothing but empty words of “apology” from Harpo, and an even emptier “I already said it, what more do you want?”

And this even though an indigenous child’s chances of dying horribly in residential school were roughly equal to a Canadian servicemember’s odds of dying in World War II, which “Mother Canada” is meant to commemorate.

So, there’s the Harper Legacy in a nutshell. You’ll get hideous monuments to war and Europeanism, and even to the “victims of Communism”. But if you don’t fit Harpo’s narrow, racist definition of a “real Canadian”, you get bugger-all. And a tanked economy, too.

Mother Canada really ought to turn Harpo over her knee and spank him. Too bad she’s not his real mom, eh?

Posted in Canadian Counterpunch, Environmentally Ill, Isn't It Ironic?, Isn't That Racist?, Not So Compassionate Conservatism, Teh Injunz, Uppity Wimmin. Comments Off on The Harper Legacy: empty monuments, nothing for native women »