Nature is an ecoterrorist!

Archive for the ‘Media Stupidity’ Category

Carnival of Male Privilege #2: Counter-Accusations

Today’s topic is: Counter-Accusations

Scene: As with last week’s edition, we’ll use our characters Vince (a man) and Marisa (a woman). Both are white. They enjoy a platonic friendship that largely revolves around talking politics and enjoying each other’s company—let’s say they’re into progressive politics right now. However, Marisa is becoming increasingly uncomfortable with Vince’s company because of his habit of using sexist comments to deride female politicians he disagrees with.

So she brings it up with him, telling him that making sexist remarks isn’t okay no matter even if it’s directed at an “acceptable” target.

What Vince does in response is berate her. He tells her that it’s racist to defend these women because the group they’re politically affiliated with has a history of working against racial equality and that Marisa, as someone who believes in anti-racist politics, should know better.

Effect: Shaming, Silencing.

Method:

– Marisa has been positioned by Vince as the oppressor—by claiming that her criticism of him amounts to bigotry itself, because he was making sexist comments about racist women.

– Marisa has also been mortified; maybe publicly, maybe just in front of Vince—but the trick is that she still gives a damn about what Vince thinks of her, even though male privilege makes him essentially immune to really, seriously caring about what she thinks of him. Gathering the courage to confront Vince has backfired in a humiliating way, and Marisa has been emotionally incapacitated with confusion, shock and shame from being misunderstood so badly.

– Vince normalized and invisibilized sexist comments as not real oppression because they’re only important outside of the context of racism. Racism is a real concern, but sexism is only if his target didn’t do something to “deserve” it.

– He also perpetuated a form of rape culture—that some women “ask for it” or otherwise do something to deserve gendered oppression, with racism as the justification. That is, if a woman is racist or oppressive in a way displeasing to men, she deserves whatever slurs and gendered violence come her way.

– Marisa’s concerns have been more than just invalidated—they’ve been vilified by the claim that her motives are not just impure, but outright bigoted. This is also underscored by the unspoken threat that if she continues pressing the issue, Vince will determine that she is racist.

Discussion: Vince believes that when women violate a standard of “ethics” he may or may not live up to himself, his own motives in degrading them become unassailable. Even though he wouldn’t ever use racist stereotypes or suggestions to degrade a Black man who disagreed with him, a white woman is fair game. Marisa’s challenged his power and ability to engage in misogyny against what he sees as an “acceptable target,” so he’s come up with what is essentially a completely irrelevant argument—Marisa wasn’t saying those women were right; she was saying Vince was wrong for saying that kind of shit. The accusation of racism is a shield—putting the burden for action and reflection back on her so that he can retain the privilege of not having to think seriously about the fact that he is privileged, and changing his behavior to suit.

That is to say, he’s willing to use his supposed antiracism to “cover his dick” so he can appear to be speaking for magnanimous or altruistic reasons—he’s fighting for racial equality, bitch!—when really he’s just defending his privilege. They’re nothing more than tokens for him—Get Out Of Privilege Free tokens, interchangeable and useful only insofar as they allow him to continue behaving like a douche. If Marisa had been talking about veganism, Vince would have just as shamelessly brought up the Inuit to call her racist with—not because he actually values the Inuit (because if he valued indigenous peoples, why would he bring them up and ignore the many hundreds of other native peoples who do not live the way they do?), but because they justify him continuing to do whatever the fuck he wants.

Marisa has no way out of the minefield except to admit that she was wrong—and that Vince was right, which was the plan all along. If she argues, she’ll only solidify his concept of her as racist, and he will be viewed as reliable for any of their mutual friends that he decides to spout off to, whereas the opposite would not be true. If Marisa said that Vince was racist instead, the response would be, “No—he’s just not that kind of guy.”

So, Marisa’s fucked. Again. Sorry, Marisa.

Subsets: Well You Just Don’t Like [insert] People; You’re Such A Bitch, Can’t You See He’s Suffering?; We Have More Important Things To Worry About; Why Don’t You Do Something For This Acceptable Group Instead; NO U.

What You Should Say So You Don’t Ask Me, “Well, What Do You Want Me To Say (You Unreasonable Bitch)?”: Try, “Okay. I didn’t know it could be interpreted that way. What have I been saying?”

News: Nature is Awesome, Humans Intent on Short-Term Gain (Still)

In animals and nature news today, another species of beetle native to the UK has been discovered. It’s a rove beetle with an average length of 6.5mm (i.e. pretty damn small). A handful of new beetle species are identified each year in the region, which doesn’t include other species of insects and animals. I find a great many people who insist that we know a whole fuckin’ lot about animals, which usually provides the basis for their assertion that we know non-human animals are inferior to us, but this just isn’t true. (And it doesn’t help when you repeat basic inaccuracies like, “bees aren’t animals, they’re insects!”)

Out of a scale of everything there is to know about humans, the knowledge humanity possesses accounts for probably one millionth of one percent. I say “probably,” because we know so little about ourselves—even separate parts of the body, like the circulatory system—that it is basically impossible to estimate unless you’re using my scale (which is extremely practical but widely ignored and/or denied).

For example: did you even know there were 1,500 varieties of potatoes in existence? (I did. Plants are awesome.) There are also over 600 varieties of mangos… although they are quickly being destroyed by global agriculture, capitalism, and… hey! Carnism.

When you include everything else in the world… well, dudes, our knowledge is basically the equivalent of a single single atom among all the atoms in all the molecules of every material thing in the world.

However, we do have some knowledge by trial-and-error—not passive knowledge (that something is), but active knowledge: what happens when you do something. Actually, humans have such a long history of fucking up that we have a massive repository of straight-up facts for what will happen if you try to fuck with the world around you… This is being stolidly ignored in the UK; to reduce tuberculosis rates in farmed cows, farmers want to shoot badgers.

Aside from the outstanding evidence that “pest management” is a bad fucking idea, shooting badgers actually increases the spread of TB outside of the immediate area because of the upset to their social networks, so any badgers that foraged nearby will range farther instead of remaining in the area. No, of course that doesn’t imply badgers feel so strongly about others in their social networks dying that they will actively avoid the area—that would be sentimental and obvious reasonable evolutionarily sound anthropomorphism.

Apparently, it’s a better idea to fuck up another animals’ social system than it is to simply eliminate the problem by not farming cows. Because if you did that, nature wins! And nature is an ecoterrorist.

That’s officially my new tagline.

News: Italian PM Berlusconi Shameless, What Else is New?

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi refuses to step down from his position because hey, he only actively sought out women to use as property, because what are women there for if not to titillate men? Something so decorative couldn’t be intended for anything other than decoration, amirite guize?

He’s also accused of buying underage girls, which is probably very much true, but the woman in question says it’s not true. She’s Moroccan to boot—which probably means more if you’re aware of the massive racism alive and well in Italy. But what makes it worse is her own story, as told here. [TW for rape, abuse.] You know, just in case you were inclined to believe that there is such a thing as a happy beginning for pros.

It is not a mistake that in Italy, where the Catholic Church is headquartered, which is still all-male and still notoriously conservative and anti-woman, it isn’t illegal for a man to pay for “sex.” It’s not a coincidence that Italy is still one of the most conservative Western European countries, and that it’s still a hotbed for fascism. It’s not a mistake that even though more women have college degrees than men, less than half of all women are employed, and they aren’t abstaining because of choice. It’s not a mistake that in Italy, the largely male parliament voted against an investigation of his home for evidence for a prosecution. It’s not a mistake that in Italy, fetuses are more precious than women. It’s not a mistake that women in Italy are divided into two groups: housewives and veline (“showgirls”), and it’s not a mistake that both of those groups are property—for the benefit of, enjoyment of, and entertainment of men. It’s not a mistake that being treated as if he did something wrong by using women as property is taken as an attack on Italy itself by the megalomaniacal Berlusconi, but it’s not attacking women to make them into fucking playthings.

It’s not a coincidence that the extremely-Catholic Italy gave the world Mussolini and is still fascist and corrupt, but the similarly extremely-Catholic Spain was anarchist against those Italian fascists, and that they were one of the first nations in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. These things are connected. Sexism, heteronormativity, anarchism fighting against fascism, capitalism, individualism, prostitution, male entitlement. These things are written spray-painted on the wall of history. You ignore these things at your own peril.

From an article I linked earlier:

Decades after a feminist movement helped bring significant changes, including legal abortion and divorce, some argue that Italian women are worse off today than in the past. “It’s as if we’ve gone backwards since the ’70s,” said Antonella Giacobbe, 55, as she attended a recent meeting in Rome of Filomena, a women’s advocacy group.

And:

Women’s rights have gone backwards under the Taliban militia’s rule in Afghanistan in the past 12 months, with tougher restrictions on their employment and no perceptible change to the defacto ban on education.

And every feminist woman I have ever met, saying the same thing. “I feel like we’re moving backwards.”

This is not a mistake. It’s not a coincidence.

It’s so fucking overwhelming.

News: U.S. Economy Bleeding Dry is “Recovery”

The economic world for rich white men is lovely and sunny right now; rose-colored lenses are blooming everywhere. If you don’t want to step out of your carriage to smell them, they’re giving them out down at the country club. All in a day’s needs to make everything seem better than it really is.

There are some quite reasonable explanations for what’s actually happening.

First, we’ve laid off so many people that we’ve flatlined: the U.S. economy is at a plateau and cannot easily cut workers past this point.

Second, it’s the spring holiday season—temporary workers are being hired for Valentine’s, Easter and the slew of other holidays until the end of May, but will likely not be retained.

Third, jobless benefits have been cut for many, many long-term unemployed USians. Unless there are literally around 400,000 new unemployment claims every month—which would suggest that the economy’s hemorrhaging instead of recovering—the decline is easily accounted for by the defeated and the hopeless.

Why are capitalists so fucking desperate about this? It’s getting ridiculous now—every four days, they’ve been screaming, “The economy’s recovering! The economy’s recovering!” as if that’ll make it true. (Then again, that might actually be what they’re attempting to do—while forgetting altogether that the economy is at a crisis point because they’ve sucked the working/paying classes dry.) Humming a cheerful tune about how it’ll all be alright does not make it so, especially if you personally are invested in the social/financial climate that fucked everything up in the first place.

I am so fucking tired of these articles and speeches from rich white men about how the economy is getting better, or worse, or whatever. Where are the articles from people who had to move back in with their parents, and how their hair is falling out and they’re getting ulcers from the emotional abuse, but they don’t have any health insurance to take care of it? I want to see articles from people talking about how the hip-hip-hoorayism of economists makes them more depressed and anxious and less able to search for a job, because now it’s their fault—the economy’s recovering, after all, so it must be just them! Articles about how people are getting fucked over by their employers but they can’t complain or do anything about it because then they’d lose their job, and how that’s a bigger threat than simply having to deal with it.

I want to read articles in the mainstream press in which capitalism is not assumed as the default state of the world, like it just is so you can’t question it or make it better. I want to read articles questioning how the fuck USians can live with themselves when every action of theirs supports a system that chooses some people to succeed beyond necessity and reason at the expense of many, many more who will be condemned to starve, freeze and die of thirst, beaten by teenagers and cops.

It may be nice and validating to the economists to crow about how everything’s going to be just fine, but it’s not. For so many people, it won’t be alright.

It’s unacceptable to support a system in which so many people are set up to be losers just because you do not lose—because you don’t have to fear starving to death, freezing, dying of thirst, being beaten by the cops and being treated like you’re filth. Because that’s what you think you’re supporting the system against; this is what you’ve been told is the alternative to capitalism, and you fucking cowards just sit there when people get hurt because you’re too stupid and too lazy to think that, gee, maybe the people who benefit from this system have a reason to scare me about the alternatives—maybe they enforce this reality on the “losers” of capitalism so that they can scare me into thinking that this is what it’d be like all the time if my benevolent overlords weren’t here to protect me with their Invisible Hand.

Optimism, when it ignores the plight of those suffering, does nothing more than prolong that suffering. Sitting with your thumb up your ass, passively waiting for the economy to recover—like the rich somehow aren’t in control of who lives and dies by capitalism—is privileged as hell. It’s unethical. It’s wrong to pretend you have no control when, in fact, you do. These people weren’t hired by the Invisible Hand; they were hired by people, and they were fired the same way.

It stands to reason that you should hold those people accountable instead of blaming it on some mystical force.

(Original U.S. Department of Labor weekly stats page here.)

ETA: Actually, a little bit of extra sleuthing turned up the fact that yes, actually, the “new jobless benefit claims” refer to actual first-time unemployment benefit applicants. So 396,000 new claims every week is… recovery… ?

Well, fuck that backwards noise. Welcome to the new world. I’m gonna water the plants now. Oranges, anyone?

News: Lysistrata Stunt Suggested in Belgium, Retracted

I hesitated in writing about this. I didn’t know what to say. This article left a bad taste in my mouth, but I couldn’t quite articulate it—I still don’t know if I can, at least adequately. But I’m going to take a whack at it nevertheless.

The partners of Belgian politicians are being urged to go on a sex strike until a government is formed.

The country had general elections last June but parties have so far been unable to form a governing coalition. …

“I call on the spouses of all negotiators to withold sex until a deal is reached,” said Ms Temmerman in an article for a Belgian newspaper. “Have no more sex until the new administration is posing on the steps of the Palace.”

And I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that sex is still being used as a bartering tool and a weapon—on the State level, no less. Clearly, using sex as leverage in a transaction or bargain doesn’t impact women at all, nor does the idea put them in danger whatsoever. After all, it’s not like one of the historical traditions of marriage itself is to toss your wife aside when she stops putting out, or when you no longer find yourself wanting to fuck her.

Via the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which does extensive surveys of parliaments (legislative branches to you Yanks) including collecting data on women in government, I’ve found that roughly 38% of their government is made up of women—36% in their Senate and 39% in their House of Representatives. So, even a country that said OH NO YOU DINT to the Vatican is still strongly skewed towards men at the legislative level. Double that because the person who initially put it forth got the idea from fucking Kenya, where it’s even worse.

It’s fucking disheartening. A lot of my reaction came from—and still does, even though the Senator who made the suggestion says it was a joke—the fact that even now, women’s primary power is expected to be in manipulating powerful men. It always has been—re: Lysistrata—and then men have the gall to mock and deride women for being so manipulative, those fucking bitches, look at how much power they have over us from eliciting boners!

Why is this “progressive” country still, even today, able to “joke” about sex being used as a weapon? It has been, by men, against women—whether literally, via rape, slut-shaming and sexual harassment… or as indictment, because women have historically been forced to use sex as bartering goods for survival, by men. Get on the ball, Belgium.

On slightly lesser note, this is creeping me out, because David Cameron’s speech had a similar line in it:

“What Belgium is experiencing is a foretaste of the challenges that Europe itself is facing, because you have a prosperous north and a less prosperous south. Over the last decade they’ve really been separating themselves so they don’t have a unifying national identity,” said Heather Conley, director of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

… I’m getting uncomfortable images of fascism because this is coming up everywhere, in these words. I do not like what that’s foretelling at all.

Breaking News: Cop Sexually Assaults Woman, Media Calls it “Sex”

A British cop has been jailed for sexually assaulting a woman while on duty. Then he did it again once he was off-duty, just for good measure.

Which is more than U.S. cops get—I imagine that when some guy in the DPD does this, they throw him a congratulations party—but nevertheless, the case is still being referred to as “sex on duty.”

As far as I’ve been able to parse out, he went to this woman’s address on behalf of a “concern for welfare” call. The articles basically say jack shit about her at all. Fortunately, via Copwatch, I found that the “concern for welfare” call involved the woman being at risk of suicide. He went to “make sure she was safe” and ended up sexually assaulting her. I specifically say “sexually assault” because, repeatedly, the articles say he abused his position. That seems pretty clear-cut to me.

As you may have surmised, I have a serious problem with the way this is being reported, or I’d just have left it at “rar cops rar.”

1. Even though the freaking other cops said it was an “abuse of his position” and that he “took advantage of the situation,” it’s still being reported as sex, because the media has an anaphylactic allergy to rape, apparently.

Seriously?

If he took advantage and abused his power, then there was someone on the receiving end of it. But we never hear about her, ever—they throw around words like it was never done to anyone. Did he sexually assault someone, or did he masturbate? The utter lack of any mention of the victim strongly suggests that people basically think it’s more of the latter than it is the former.

Basically, the only way you could ever possibly see this as “sex” is if she “seduced” him. But dude, this is like, rule number one—unless you’re already in a relationship, boinking after someone tells you they want to kill themselves is a horrible fucking idea, right up there with “fucking the bereaved,” and consent is definitely up in the air. But more than the tastelessness of screwing around on the job, even if she did “seduce” him, is…

2. Why would having sex with her be this enormously horrible thing if it wasn’t sexual assault?

You get fired for having sex on the job. You get jailed for sexually assaulting someone on the job, especially when it has been made abundantly clear that the person you’re “having sex with” is not within four miles of their right mind, let alone capable of consent. Suicide distress calls—even “cries for help”—are made by people who are having serious emotional problems and do not feel that they are capable of making the right decision.

Also, I’m considering whether she started to go through with it and I’m getting seriously squicked out by the idea.

3. How unstable does a woman have to be before she’s considered to be nonconsenting?

Do you have to be drooling and catatonic or something? Because in the line of “gestures I am going to take as meaningful consent,” having someone threatening to slit their wrists and then wanting me to, uh, have sex with them is not exactly a top priority. Hell, it’s barely coherent.

4. Throughout all of this, the woman—hello, victim here, people—is rendered completely invisible. She was “had sex with,” although it’s abundantly clear that she was sexually assaulted. No mention of whether she’s okay. I’m assuming she was still alive when he came back off-duty. I don’t expect her name for obvious reasons, but I do expect a little goddamn concern for someone who is, for all intents and purposes, the victim.

Because when Michael Fletcher “abused his position and took advantage of the situation,” he wasn’t just doing it to the air.

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