Feminism, Freedom, poetry, Politics, Spain, Uncategorized, War, We The People

The Partisan

Her smile inspires her fellow partisans and her community

She throws caution to the wind

so as to watch their spirits soar

When Fascists questioned her commitment

she let her carbine counterclaim

She looks out over Barcelona

her city

From the top of the highest tower

survaying a land riven by

passions and politics

But beyond this tumultuous horizon

there is a glint of light

beginning to peak through

the gathered clouds

and so she smiles

and goes about her revolution

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Feminism, Philosophy, Sexuality, Uncategorized

An Immodest Proposal

The main issue I have with the so called “modesty” movement, is that even when it is ostensibly about “women choosing to be modest” for their own reasons, there is an unspoken undercurrent of judgement and shaming. For what is one if one is not “modest”? One is immodest. And if someone is labeled or considered, even by default, immodest, shaming, violence, punishment, and ostracization are tacitly approved of against the person. It is a subtle way of upholding patriarchal cultural norms, and an insidious on at that, because it turns the “decision” to impose an arbitrary morality into one ostensibly made by the women herself. Even the word, modesty, and the accompanying concept and activities that expected in regards to it, are assumed to be set in stone, a certain set of inherent values. The assumption is made that modesty is inherently the act of covering oneself up, specifically the parts of the body that MEN have traditionally deemed there purview to either view, sexualize, control, or shame.

There is no such thing as “natural” modesty, or an inherent human modesty in regards to sartorial choices, it is all begging the question, with the answer being “there is something inherently shameful about the female form, something that one can “choose” to decide to cover up and hide in order to possess some sort of aura of inherent goodness or purity. It is reverse objectification, and sexual violence by stealth, making women into willing accomplices to the continuation of the idea that the female form is special in its potential for physical and moral corruption. Women are told that their “beauty” is better and more morally “celebrated” by “respecting” it with arbitrary, and male gaze focused, garment coverings/veils, as though beauty was something objectively enhanced or degraded by the use or non-use of a certain prescribed accoutrements.

Modesty, in and of itself, is assumed a priori to mean a form of veiling, modifying, distracting from the physical and the female, which underlines the assumption that there is something inherent to the female form that makes it “more beautiful”, more “worth protecting”, more “pure” than the male form. Hence there is no equal movement to compel men to “make the choice to be modest”, at least not with the same subtle shaming and prodding that women face. Modesty itself is a concept that must be discarded if we are to ever live in a truly equal society, at least the idea of modesty that assumes certain arbitrary parts of the human female form are to be hidden or de-emphasized.

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Activism, Feminism

My Little Brother, The Gamer

Not My Little Brother haha

Not My Little Brother haha

My little brother loves video games. He loves them A LOT. He has a gamecube, both Wii’s, pretty much every gameboy you can think of and plays some games online. He is a voracious reader, online video watcher, and reader. He knows more about the inner workings and corporate politics of the Nintendo company then most industry journalists do. He grew up with four siblings and a mom who loved video games, played them often and as a family. He is very good at them. VERY. All in all he is a remarkable little guy. My brother always tells me what he learns about the history of gaming, especially from videos he watches on youtube. It seems like every time I visit him he has something new to tell me about a game I grew up with! Mind you, this kid is barely older than the Obama administration and he lectures me, brilliantly, on the history of game companies going back to Atari. He’s a video game savant! He is also a genuinely kind and friendly kid. He makes friends with the kids in his class who are made fun of or marginalized, not out of pity but because he genuinely connects and loves them. He is create and he tries to understand the “adult” world of ideas and history and politics. He told me once how he didn’t understand why so many of the boys in his class considered being gay or being feminine or a girl was a bad thing. He was utterly baffled by this and it was so refreshing to see such lack of prejudice and cruelty in his eyes. This is because he is a good guy, but also because he has three very accomplished older sisters and a mom, all of whom are strongly feminist and constantly teach him to respect all people and to understand the privilege his skin color and his gender give him. He understands this and he does not take it like so many “adults” do, as an indictment of all men or a condemnation of the male gender itself. He always asks me questions about the world and why people think the way they do and why so many treat people so badly. Sometimes I have answers with him. Other times I can only wonder with him why so many people, men especially, seem to think that the entire world revolves around their prejudices and needs. It is amazing how much more mature and intelligent my little brother is than the so called “men” who claim the gaming culture as their own and who try so hard to make women, LGBTQ people, and feminist men feel unwelcome. My little brother likes to play video games. He doesn’t care if he plays with a boy, a girl or anyone else. He just likes to play. He doesn’t care if games become more friendly to the concerns of women and minorities, and by that I mean it makes no difference to him because a game is just a game. Whatever makes people feel happy and safe and is fun is all that matters to him. He does notice when women are treated badly in games and you can tell that he is not a big fan of the super violent games. I think this is a part of his kind personality and also how he was raised. He tends to like puzzle games, building games, racing games, and turn based games and RPGs. The exception is Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo. He sure does like to beat my butt at that game. My brother does not whine about games other people want to create or play that might “not be fun” or are “too artistic” or “weird”. He is content to play the games he likes and to let people enjoy the games that engage them. He does not judge a person based on the games they play. He is probably the most tolerant and open-minded person I know and he is only getting more so as he gets older and wiser. He is going to make someone a very happy wife or husband or boyfriend someday and that makes me very happy. Most important of all he does not let games define who he is or how he feel about the world. He does not care if someone tells him his favorite game is “stupid” or “bad”. He just likes to play games. That is enough for him. You’d think that would be enough for the supposed men out there who rage against women, journalists, and feminists for “destroying their culture”. My brother knows that games are not his to own and control. They are just games. He likes to play games. That is enough for him. My little brother, and thousands and thousands of little guys and gals like him, are the reasons why the gaming world is only going to get better, and the gamer gate embarrassment will someday be forgotten. They just want to play games.

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Atheism, Religion

Why Richard Dawkins & the New Atheists Do No Speak For Me

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There is no “Atheist Movement”, there are only people who lives without the need for, or a belief in, a deity or “supernatural power” and who seek reason and peace. Movement “A”theists (and they desperately want that capital A) only seek to empower themselves and to find a place in the existing power structure. They want the same influence that Christians have had in the halls of power, the Universities and the boardrooms for generations and they are willing to cater to the worst impulses of their followers to achieve this.

Case in point, Richard Dawkins. Richard Dawkins, PhD, the biologist and scientific educator, has played his part in making atheists respectful and taken seriously by the establishment in Western cultural and governmental institutions. His scientific theories are interesting and have added much to the popular understanding of science. Richard Dawkins the man however, the leader of an atheist “movement”, is another matter entirely. He is just another in a long line of powerful, elite, rich white men who have decided that the gravitas granted them by their standing and education gives them the the right to pontificate on everything from torture to date rape. Richard Dawkins twitter (@RichardDawkins) is filled with “logic” based analyses of pretty much anything and everything that pops into his head.

Oddly enough this has recently been rape. He goes on about how terrible it is that men who rape women when they are drunk and cannot remember the whole incident have their “lives ruined”. He goes on about how date rape is not as serious as violent stranger rape and is generally an ass to anyone who would try to get him to see how his “logic” is anything but when applied to such a complex and painful topic as sexual assault. It is not so much the content of what he says, which is bad enough, but the fact that he feels that his position in popular culture and the New Atheist movement gives him the right to act as a moral arbiter of issues that will never affect him as a powerful rich white heterosexual man. It is the sort of privilege that he does not recognize he possesses and in fact does not even recognize as privilege. This is no different than the mindset of many men in various other movements, be they Christian, Jewish, Islamic or any number of secular fields.

Dawkins has made Ayaan Hirsi Ali in particular, and anti-Islamism in general, one of his pet causes. He has tended to attack and shame any atheists or secular group that has any problem with Mrs. Hirsi Ali’s anti-Muslim and Western Imperial apologist tendencies. This recent tweet shows how he takes his position of authority rather too seriously, to the point of almost seeming to “excommunicate” secular groups that do not toe the Anti-Islamic line:

“Inviting a speaker [like Ayaan Hirsi Ali] is not “disrespecting” anybody. I, however, hereby disrespect Yale Atheists, Humanists & Agnostics” (https://twitter.com/RichardDawkins/status/511279615844048896

Dawkins seems to have little time for feminists unless they are explicitly anti-religious or anti-Islamic. The fact that Mrs. Ali is the partner of fellow white pro-Western Imperialism master of the Universe Niall Ferguson may have something to do with his affinity for her cause.

Dawkins has also defended and played apologist for philosopher and New Atheist fixture Sam Harris. Harris has some interesting things to say in the fields of philosophy and neuro-biology but his views on Muslims and civil rights are troubling to say the least. Mr. Harris has stated that

“torture may be an ethical necessity in our war on terror”, (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/in-defense-of-torture_b_8993.html

Mr. Harris has also posed extensive thought experiments about the nature of torture in a crisis that have more in common with a plot from the show 24 then anything approaching reality or scientific understanding of torture. Mr. Dawkins has not been shy in his defense of Mr. Harris, a man who believes as he does that Islam in general is a threat to the “West” and secular society. This sort of support for the apologists for big government programs that violate civil liberties is troubling and betrays a sense of moral superiority that is troubling and odd in someone who wishes to reject the power and influence of religion in public life. The New Atheists, including the late Christopher Hitchens and his defense of the brutal US/UK invasion of Iraq, seem to have an affinity for Neo-Liberal and Neo-Conservative policies, especially regarding the so called “war on terrorism”. It leads me to wonder if they realize that they are defending the institutions that are most infiltrated and influenced by the same messianic and power-based religious ideology they attack in other forums? Writer and moral philosopher Chris Hedges had this to say about the New Atheists

“I was stunned at how the very chauvinism and bigotry and intolerance that they condemn in the Christian Right they embrace under the guise of atheism […] they also create a binary worldview of us and them.” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMcd_yWL2DM]

When reason and logic are used in furtherance of the same goals that are espoused by the religious, cultural and governmental powers that be then it may be time to question if what these men are trying to popularize is in fact free-thought at all, or merely another way for the powerful to couch their ideology, misogyny and power aims in a new and more up-to-date form of moral apologia. People who seek out an alternative to the dogmatic, chauvinistic, misogynist and violent religious sects that dominate the world do not need more heavy-handed and morally superior musings from men who benefit, knowingly or not, from the privilege they make their bones attacking. Why do atheists need leaders at all? Why can’t we have a community of freethinking, privilege defying, open-hearted people who do not wish to impose a secular religion of unquestionable “logic”? Why must the same rich white faces keep on telling us what is in our own interest? These are questions we must all struggle with and find our own answers to.

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Atheism, Feminism

Towards A Feminist Atheism

femfem

I will start this post with a few simple statements of fact: society is and has long been misogynistic and many people within that society are personally misogynistic to one degree or another, knowingly or not. Atheists are part of that society, and the Atheist movement is a part of society…therefore some elements of the Atheist movement, and some individual atheists, will be misogynistic. It is not an condemnation of a movement of which I am a proud part to point out this fact.

I was not always as aware of misogyny and feminism as I am not, and I am nowhere near close to the end of my education on the topic. I can say that growing up with three incredibly intelligent and independent minded sisters and a very feminist father and an incredibly supportive and liberal mother really shaped my views of women, men, and society. I grew up without knowledge of patriarchal religion and I was never taught that being gay or trans* was in anyway different from my own sexuality. I was unschooled (i.e. I directed my own education at home with the help and support of my parents) until I started attending community college classes at the age of 16 so it was not until then that I even realized that people had a PROBLEM with other people’s sexuality. It had just never been something that seemed to me as a “difference”. People love. That is what I was taught. I know now how lucky I was to be raised this way, that most people do not get to go their entire childhood without encountering damaging hate of differences in people. I also know now how very naive I was. I think m autism had part in this…I tend to see people as uniform unless I really get to know them. It is literally almost impossible FOR me to see difference sometimes! That is one thing about my autism that I do like

I am now married to a wonderful, intelligent, gorgeous feminist atheist woman. She has also opened my eyes as to how women are viewed, and abused, in society. She is a pin-up model so I have seen firsthand how people, especially men who claim to be “open-minded” try to shame her for daring to be proud of her body and to take control of her sexuality. Her strength in the face of this sort of judgement, even at times from her own very conservative Catholic family, is inspiring to me and has moved me to look into more about feminism and issues of justice for women and for the rest of society.

I am a feminist not just because of the women in my life but because of myself, my own feelings, and the men in the world who are degraded and poisoned by patriarchal views. We raise boys to be rough and stupid and dense and to ignore their feelings and the feelings of others. We assume that any man who can express his emotions, admits when he is in pain, or stands up for women is a “pussy”. We also tell our young boys and men that gay, bi, and trans* men cannot, by definition, be masculine or strong and that masculinity is the ability to dominate and control others through physical power and manipulation. Women are the focus and the chief targets of the controlling grip of patriarchal mechanisms but both women AND men are the walking wounded; many men do not even understand how much their own minds and emotions have been hampered, even crippled by the social disease that is misogyny.

A case in point: the backlash against atheist blogger and activist Rebecca Watson when she dared to tell her story about being sexually harassed by a man (an atheist man) at a conference. Many male atheists, including one of the self-important “patron saints” of the “New” Atheism, Dr. Richard Dawkins, attacked her as essentially a whiner and  other claimed she was undermining the Atheist cause (whatever that may be) by DARING to suggest that any freethinker could be a misogynist. Dawkins even suggested it was NATURAL that women will be constantly harassed, propositioned and given unwanted physical attention in public, even at a place where the participants declare their moral superiority to Religious misogynists. Skepchick blogger Sarah Moglia even reported that Dawkins threw a temper tantrum and blacked-balled Watson from speaking at the popular Atheist conference The Reason Rally! ( http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2013/09/05/richard-dawkins-blackballed-rebecca-watson%EF%BB%BF-from-speaking-at-the-reason-rally/)

Needless to say Rebecca Watson (and many others who do not have her fame or name recognition) fought back and stood her ground and in her case she become a leading voice in the Atheist community. This was after hundreds of rape threats, death threats, and insults online and in person. The idea that Atheism somehow inoculates men against being misogynistic is absurd and dangerous: it causes freethinkers to believe in a sense of moral superiority that is unearned and also causes the real issues facing women in the Atheist community to be ignored, laughed at or dismissed. We claim to be better than the senseless, reason-free hate and prejudice of the religious world. That claim is made laughable and impotent if we continue to ignore the problem of patriarchal ideas and misogynistic tendencies within the Atheist movement.

In my own personal experience, mostly in the Atheist groups I am part of online, I am constantly seeing some men, not all by any means, attack and belittle women who dare raise issues about patriarchy or who even use the word feminism. It is as though some atheist men think of themselves as beyond such petty concerns. I believe the truth is that when a woman brings up issues of misogyny and feminism it scares some men and forces them to confront the prejudices within themselves that they want to, need to, believe they do hold. Atheism is not served by believing that atheist are a priori morally superior in all issues or beyond the prejudices that infest and poison society as a whole. One of the major Atheist groups I was once a part of on Facebook, AANR (Atheists, Agnostics, & Non-Religious) is positively FILLED with people who harass women, degrade them, demand nude photos and even actively proposition them through messages and in person. Women were often ridiculed or appreciated only for the physical attributes that these men found desirable. There was even a supposedly “tongue and cheek” meme on the site where if someone brought up an issue, especially women, they would be confronted with this not too subtle misogynistic threat: TOGTFO. What does that mean? “[show us your] Tits Or Get The Fuck Out”. This misogyny was one of the reasons I left what was once the largest atheist related group online. This sort of vile misogyny is not limited to AANR buy any means; all around the internet and in groups in the real world, women are gaslighted, harassed, sexually objectified and taken less seriously just because of their gender. This has got to stop.

I am writing this not because I think I am immune to misogyny or patriarchal thinking. I am not. I am sure I have abused my privilege in the past and I probably will in the future. But at least I am aware of my own failings and want to overcome them. I want all atheists, men and women, to overcome this issue too. We are a remarkable community of intelligent, activist, largely kind and empathetic people who can have an enormous influence on society for the better if we choose to. Far too many atheist men have bought into the easy moral capitulation that is the MRA movement. NO MORE. Let’s decide that we are NOT yet past the demons that haunt the rest of society. Let us instead aim to lead by example and try and take on misogyny and patriarchy as a unified and progressive movement. We can create a better future for all of us. Feminist Atheism should not be a bad word.

NO MORE shaming women

NO MORE using slurs against women

NO MORE dismissing the concerns of women because they are women

NO MORE assuming that we are morally superior by virtue of our atheism

NO MORE using atheist groups, meetups, and conferences as a way to try and get sex from women

NO MORE supporting atheist luminaries like Richard Dawkins who refuse to confront their own prejudice

NO MORE treating feminism, patriarchy, and misogyny like they are four letter words

No. More.

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Feminism

MRAs: Weak People Who Hate

The MRA Delusion Personified

The MRA Delusion Personified

I was making my rounds of the internet cesspool tonight (I like to keep abreast of what is going on in the camps of my ideological enemies) and came across a few posts on a Men’s Rights Movement site that I will not name but that shares a name with a famous Fantasy Film (Peter Jackson should sue them for defaming the name of his magnificent creation) that made me stop in my tracks and literally laugh out loud.

First though, a quick aside. What is the “Men’s Rights Movement”? I’m glad you asked. The Men’s Rights Movement is the latest permutation of the ever present “community” (for lack of a better term) of men who enjoy to whine to each other about their lack of getting sex, their acumen at writing wikipedia sourced nonsense whose hilarious premises were articulated much more creatively by Rush Limbaugh 15 years ago, and their general fear of anything that would expose them as the scared, spineless insecure-in-their-own-skin-and-masculinity schlubs that they really are. Or in other words they are Tim Allen’s character on Home Improvement only better at Call of Duty and with more ‘roid rage (at least the ones who do not weigh 345 lbs after taking a dump).

But back to the point

I found two articles on the MRA website that caught my attention, much in the same way a freshly laid turd on a marble floor will catch your attention, and I was moved to respond on here because I love intelligently trolling fools. The first article was written by someone who calls himself “Roosh” whose Napoleon complex has reached the stage where he is growing epaulettes out of his shoulders. This piece of work has convinced himself he is the leader of a movement of abused and misunderstood men who are only trying to reclaim the “inherent” rights as men. Here is an actual quote that was not, I swear to Jebus, was not written by the Onion

“This is not the time to make a stand. Conditions are not ripe for an open-air battle. Instead we must continue finding men who already lean red pill instead of trying to convert blue pillers [sic]. There are many men in gaming and bodybuilding spheres that would be open to our message”

Another brief aside: the “red pill/blue pill” dichotomy on display here is a blatant rip off (and simplification to the point of inanity) of the plot device used in The Matrix films to visualize a choice between self-delusion and “the Real” (if you want to get all Lacan about it…and I love to). Roosh has turned this concept into a “with or against us” black and white moral choice that marks the distinction between “real men” (i.e. men who agree with his arguments) and “betas”, or, anyone who respects women as equals or do not see getting sex through manipulation as a goal worth striving for. Suffice it to say he has a good time tenderizing that particular deceased equine. “Roosh” is a decent writer, by the often sketchy standards of internet blogging, and he at least tries to remain consistent with his own ideological rhetoric, and he seems to see himself as the leader of a “movement”, a government under siege that may one day strike out against the boogieman he has created i.e. the rest of secular civil society.

I think you can see where this is going…this group is pretty much a space for men to engage in philosophical and political mutual masturbation. Nothing can prove their arguments wrong because their ideas are priori correct and confirmed by their own particular biases that they carry from hating and fearing a world that is slowly becoming less hostile to the interests of women. It is the same sort of mentality displayed by modern day Randian Libertarians and Austrian School economic cultists: if I cannot do exactly what I want, when I want to, how I want to and without any consideration for the needs and concerns of other individuals and the rest of society then I am being “repressed” and “persecuted”. There is nothing new here besides the novel popular culture inspired ideological language and internet savvy. Evidence against their points of view is discounted as “feminist propaganda” because it is evidence against them, and the less an argument is taken seriously by the rest of society is confirmation of its truth. This is pretty much the conspiracy theory mindset…which brings us to the second article in question.

In the wake of Elliot Rodger’s entitlement and misogyny fueled shooting spree in California the media, twitter, and the blogosphere took a second look (or even a first look in the case of the mainstream media) at the MRA world and how it fuels the resentment and pathetic desires of men who feel they have lost their privileged place as masters of the universe. Scores of essays, posts, and interview segments were devoted to tearing apart the arguments of the MRAs, with a special emphasis on “Roosh” and his toadies. The MRA responded predictably to being called out on their bullshit by closing ranks and setting up a wall of cognitive dissonance that would keep their opinions safe from the facts and from better constructed arguments. Self-delusion only survives in a vacuum; as soon as it is exposed to outside opinions self-doubt rushes to fill the void and the illusion of power and potency collapses. This why people with strange or wild opinions often speak only to each other and dismiss on its face all attempts by opposing forces to engage and debate. Call it the Faux News Paradox: the more convinced you are of your own rightness the less you are able to deal with other opinions that contradict your point of view and the more you retreat into your own delusion.

This process is on display in the second article, a conspiracy theory piece, written by someone who goes by “Samson Lamont” that tries to “disprove” the objective reality of the shootings in California. If reality does not fit the delusion, reject reality. The article itself is badly written and a retread of the sort of Alex Jones-esque “false flag” circular reasoning that can be easily debunked by Occam’s Razor and 5 minutes of research on somewhere other than chat rooms.  I mention the article at all because of this unblemished Freudian gem, which I will now quote in full (you have been warned)

“Anyone who’s watched Elliot Rodger’s pathetic videos and read his manifesto can see that he’s playing a character to some extent.  I’m not saying that he doesn’t have issues, but his delusions of grandeur are so over the top that it just rings false.  It’s like watching a bad audition for a D-list movie serial killer from someone who can’t act for shit.  You get the feeling that some Hollywood scriptwriter just created a character based on the “loser” template that feminists apply to all the members of our little community.  Socially impotent, whiny loser that’s addicted to World of Warcraft and can’t get pussy blames all of his problems on women and wants to kill them all due to his own inadequacies.”

There is more projection in that paragraph then there was at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival. Just let that soak in for a moment…If I TRIED I could I could not come up with a better example of psychological projection. Clearly these “men” are riddled with self-doubt and fear and it is tempting to ignore them completely as just another bunch of fools being “wrong on the internet”. Remember though that Elliot Rodgers bought into this sort of bilge and acted on it and that small, insular, self-deluded movements have been and continue to pose dangers to society and individuals. Let’s laugh at them but also keep an eye on them…a self-deluding idiot with a gun can still do a lot of damage. Just ask the families of the 6 victims of Elliot Rodger’s fragile ego.

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Conservatism, Conservatives, Criticism, GOP

An All in Good Fun Discussion of Erick Erickson

Erick_Erickson_by_Gage_Skidmore-460x307

By now I am sure you have seen various interviews with media commentator and professional clown porn director Erick Erickson (I am only speculating about the clown porn but I like to err on the side of caution)

Good ol’ Erick Just wanted to let the world know that wives should make their goddamn husbands a sammich right damn now because…because male baboons have bigger rear ends than female baboons…or something. I would really love to see Mr. Erickson shrunk down to the size of an insect so as to be able to give his “males are more powerful in nature” speech to a female praying mantis. “You see, the book of Acts states that women…hey…why are you eating my head? You are supposed to be subservi–”

Megyn Kelly of Fox News totally, completely and UTTERLY owned the balls of both Erickson and Lou “Smile, You’re on To Catch A Predator” Dobbs (yes, that Lou Dobbs). If you haven’t seen this beat-down I highly suggest you look it up…or i could just post it down here!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/31/megyn-kelly-erick-erickson-lou-dobbs_n_3367571.html

To be fair to Lou and Erick (and Juan Williams who was yukking it up with them on Fox News) their intellectual level is not quite up to the standard of a Megyn Kelly (who, full disclosure, is one of the few coherent, if not always correct, people on Fox); they are more the “dare me to have that 7th shot of Red Stag” type of public intellectuals.

Erickson has of course tried to back-pedal without actually moving an inch, but that is just his usual game. Whine about people whining about him and blame those damn pansy boys and feminazis on the left for not “understanding” his great white christian male angst complex. He has even taken to crying havoc and releasing the hounds of social networking: he responded to a tweet of mine today by messaging me back and reassuring me that “his wife and his sisters” agree with his misogynistic and and pseudo-scientific babble. Some one is intellectually desperate when they have to appeal to the “see, some of my greatest supporters are women/black people/latino day laborers” argument. Just another name to add to the “this is why our country is an enormous laughingstock” list. Goodnight and good luck…

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