Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Moving the goal posts.

Olbermann looks at and hold the president to his words.

Compare January Bush to August Bush. How he's grown, how he's changed.

One Good Move has the video.

Forgot the link.

Gray Rape

There has been quite a stir started by a Cosmopolitan article claiming that their is a gray rape, the rape that isn't...kind of like a unicorn riding a dragon...a total myth and figment of ones imaginination.


The myth of "gray rape"

I've heard that the latest issue of Cosmopolitan magazine has an article about "gray rape." Which, let's remember, is a total fucking myth.

And not-so-shockingly, the piece is written by
Laura Sessions Stepp--not exactly a bastion of feminism.

I've gotten several emails from sexual assault and intimate partner violence activists who are incredibly upset about the article--not only because it gives credence to the idea that rape is somehow a "gray" area, but because of the media play the article (and idea) seems to be getting.

One activist even told me that she was asked to go on a morning show to discuss the article, and when she explained that there was no such thing as "gray rape" recognized in the field--they cut her from the segment.

More to come when I pick up the magazine, but in the meantime read these great pieces on sexual assault by
Courtney Martin and Jaclyn Friedman to clear
your mind of Stepp's bullshit.

Call it what it is.
Moe at Jezebel writes:

[T]his one time about nine years ago I got locked out of my house and went home with some vaguely smarmy hair-product using type from my ex-boyfriend's frat. I
had slept with maybe two or three guys prior to that -- it was the summer between sophomore and junior year of college -- so when he, after about a half hour of fooling around, put on a condom I was like, "Whooooah, what are you doing?" But I'd had two forties and I kept drifting in and out of consciousness -- my tolerance, obviously, wasn't what it is today -- and I woke up to find him sticking it in. I'd said 'no' a bunch of times and when I came to I just froze, stopped, turned over and slept. In the morning I chewed him out (by informing him I wasn't putting him on "my list" -- oh no she didn't!) and after that he kissed my ass so liberally I thought he might have learned from it.

In other words, he raped her.

Jezebel readers kindly pointed this out in comments. Moe responds,

Well, yes, technically it was, but I can empathize with the desire to find a word to differentiate it from the type of rape that, you know, actually SCARS you. I always used "date rape" before.
"Date rape" is still rape, only the rapist is someone you know. It's still a crime.

Moe also says, "Sigh. It's a personal story, and that's how I dealt."

Calling it what it is -- RAPE -- doesn't mean you have to have a specific reaction to it. No one is requiring you to be traumatized. In fact, I'm really happy to hear that this experience didn't seem to cause her much pain. But the definition of rape doesn't change depending on how you feel afterward. Rape is a nonconsensual sexual act. "That time you fucked that guy you didn't really want to fuck" is a better description of consensual sex that you later regret. (Which, of course, isn't rape.)

This is why the Cosmo article and the whole Laura Sessions Stepp "gray rape" concept are such bad news. It creates a new category that suggests it's not-quite-rape if you say "no" while drunk, or you say "no" to intercourse after you've said "yes" to making out. To not straight-up call it rape diminishes it and excuses it. It goes from a crime to simply impolite or bad behavior.

I think it's possible to call a crime a crime without assuming a "victim" role. As Shakes writes, "to be a survivor of rape does not have to mean shame and brokenness and guilt, that it is brave, not weak, to say, plainly: "I was raped.""

A blast from the Laura Sessions Stepp past

Thanks to Scott for reminding me that gray-rape enthusiast Laura Sessions Stepp is the same person who argued in The Washington Post last year that girls who like sex make dudes limp. Seriously.

So a little retro Feministing for you:

Apparently women who like sex too much are responsible for a scourge of impotence among college men.

The Washington Post reports on the problem of younger men experiencing erectile dysfunction, which is supposedly caused in part by young women initiating sex.

According to surveys, young women are now as likely as young men to have sex and by countless reports are also as likely to initiate sex, taking away from males the age-old, erotic power of the chase.

"I know lots of girls for whom nothing is off limits," says Helen Czapary, a junior at the University of Maryland. "The pressure on the guys is a huge deal."
But it’s not just women’s horniness that’s a huge turnoff, it’s our damned opinions too:

One can argue that a young woman speaking her mind is a sign of equality. "That's a good thing," says [teacher Robin] Sawyer, father of four daughters. "But for some guys, it has come at a price. It's turned into ED in men you normally wouldn't think would have ED."
Equality is the enemy of boners. Now I get it. Traister also did a great piece tearing Stepp down, "Do loose chicks sink dicks?" Heh.

So according to Stepp, women who like sex not only are responsible for their "gray rapes," but are also causing a scourge of limp dicks. Jeez, she gets better every day!

"Gray rape," cont'd...

Over at Jezebel, Moe responds to my post:

Gray rape, if you think about it, is an ideal term to describe a topic about which I am so conflicted. it evokes the notion of "shades of gray," which is to say, the nuance without which empathy would not be possible. I forgave my gray rapist or date rapist or whatever a long time ago, much longer ago than I would have if I had felt myself that night to be in the presence of the OMG PURE EVIL that would be required to commit the sorts of things I'd been used to calling rape in the past. It is a loaded and powerful term, after all, and I derive no empowerment from using it to characterize his offense.
Ok, I'll repeat myself and say that the definition of rape does not change depending on its empowering/disempowering effect on the people involved, or whether they choose to use the word "rape." And rape isn't something that's committed only by guys who are OMG PURE EVIL. Even if 99% of the time he's an upstanding citizen and all-around awesome dude, but he still wouldn't listen that one time when you said "no," he's still a rapist -- and it's still rape.

A Jezebel commenter writes,

Just like we have manslaughter, vs. 2nd or 1st degree murder, there are many different forms and levels of sexual assault.
I concede that there are different kinds of rapes (in that the circumstances vary), but I don't believe that "worse" or "better" rapes. Sure, we have degrees of murder. But there has never been any question in modern society that it is a crime to kill another person. However, feminists had to work damn hard to get courts and society to recognize that rape is a crime. (Clearly, that battle is still being fought.) So introducing "degrees" of rape has the effect of diminishing the idea that it's a crime. Period.

I do feel slightly more conflicted about the appropriate legal response to situations in which women (drunk or not) may not want to have sexual contact with someone, but also do not say "no," push back, or make any other outward indication that they are opposed. (This doesn't apply to the situation Moe described, in which she said "NO" several times and he continued anyway.) But in the end, I keep coming back to the idea that we need to strongly advocate for the idea of enthusiastic consent, and make that the standard.

Putting our differences on "gray rape" aside, Moe and I can totally agree that "emosogynist" is an incredibly useful term. And I echo her call for more conversation about your personal experiences with rape -- no matter what you choose to call it.

Spanking it out...Christian Edition

Wife-Spanking 101: Neither parody nor porn

(via Spare Room, thanks to Lindsay for the link.)

What if your wife, even after graduating the prestigious homemaking course at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a degree in ladylike submission, still won't behave? Uber-conservative Christian patriarchs everywhere now have a solution!

Give her a good spanking. For how to incorporate this into your marriage, see the "Christian Domestic Discipline" site. Unlike the Baptists for Brownback campaign Jen wrote about awhile ago, this site appears to be legit. Not a parody.

A Christian Domestic Discipline marriage is one that is set up according to Biblical standards; that is, the husband is the authority in the household. The wife is submissive to her husband as is fit in the Lord and her husband loves her as himself. He has the ultimate authority in his household, but it is tempered with the knowledge that he must answer to God for his actions and decisions. He has the authority to spank his wife for punishment, but in real CDD marriages this is taken very seriously and usually happens only rarely. CDD is so much more than just spanking. It is the husband loving the wife enough to guide and teach her, and the wife loving the husband enough to follow his leadership. A Christian marriage embodies true romance and a Christian man a true hero.
This is billed as completely consensual, with it made clear that "the husband has authority to spank the wife. The wife does not have authority to spank her husband." The site was created by wife-spankers who were sick of stumbling upon porn when they searched for other like-minded folks online. Lest you become confused that the CDD site is a BDSM site with a Christian spin, they're sure to reiterate that this is about adhering to Biblical gender roles -- not about sexual pleasure. Unless you get off on asserting your patriarchy by slapping your property wife. Not an unheard-of phenomenon, as the site acknowledges:

Though we recognize by its very nature this subject can be erotic, we will keep this website as clean and wholesome as possible. However, we will not seek to deny the erotic nature of some CDD marriages as we believe it is a natural consequence of following God's plan. After all, He created eroticism to be enjoyed inside a Christian marriage.
But what if sometimes your wife doesn't want to be spanked? Well, let's not use an inconvenient phrase like "domestic violence" or "spousal abuse." Nah, "non-consensual CDD" would be more appropriate, really. And the site basically says that it's a man's god-given right to hit his wife, even if those pesky laws against domestic violence get in the way.

Non-consensual CDD:

Though we believe the Bible gives a husband the authority to use spanking as one tool in enforcing his authority in the home with or without his wife's permission, in today's world we recognize the legality that mandates that all CDD must be consensual. Therefore we will do not condone nonconsensual CDD as a rule.
How progressive of them!

Lynn at Broadsheet delved into the blogs linked on the site, which are just so sad. One blogger, a woman named Debbie, has decided having her husband hit her is a cheap and effective weight-loss strategy. She recounts being beaten for accidentally leaving the stove burner on, and writes, "I felt my stomach drop when I saw my husband bring out a heavy belt." She continues,

I am not abused nor capable of being abused. I imagine that if one of you raging feminist find yourself beaten by a man you had better hope Leah or I (or someone of like mind) comes along to beat the stuffing out of him for you. I know I'm capable and from reading I sort of believe Leah is as well. My submission is quite voluntary.
I'm not saying all wife-spanking is analogous to domestic abuse. The blogs and the site make clear that this is a lifestyle chosen (how freely chosen is another question...) by women themselves. One writes on the site, "We practice CDD-lite in our home as it is a concept that I have brought to my husband and one that he is still getting comfortable with."
Of course, that's less disturbing than "non-consensual CDD," but still thoroughly depressing. As Lynn writes, "violence at home -- 'consensual' or otherwise -- is by no means unique to these particular fundamentalists; abusers and victims can find plenty of justification for their actions without distorting Scripture." And I agree with her that seeing it put in such plain terms on this site and in these blogs is really, really troubling.

On a much, much lighter note, the site also features a store... which sells crotchless pantaloons.


For the traditionalist Christian who's not quite into Frederick's of Hollywood, but finds the Laura Ingalls Wilder look totally hot.

Feministing's Weekly Feminist Reader 08/26

Weekly Feminist Reader

The head of the civil rights division of the Justice Department has resigned.

NFL punishes dog-abusers, but not domestic abusers.

Not your typical "topless car wash."

Why we need to restore funding to the UNFPA.

Can TV really empower women?

Women aren't getting good information on how -- and what it means -- to stop getting a monthly period.

Feminism once again declared dead! (This time by a "high priestess.")

Has the internet really been "feminized"? I mean, we're still talking about serious misogyny here.

A new study illuminates (again) gender bias in science and academia.

Time on soaring birth control prices on campus.

Remembering writer, feminist, activist Grace Paley.

Via in comments, a fascinating breakdown of the different types of "gazes" women are posed to give in magazine spreads and advertisements.

Time for the female urinal?

Women only seem to make the cover of fashion magazines. The political/newsweeklies, not so much.


Planned Parenthood does a whole hell of a lot to help young mothers to be, and to help inform communities about personal health...obviously they must pay.

Planned Parenthood is coming to get you...

Ah, it's always nice when the mainstream media quotes totally inaccurate information about women's health.

Media Matters in Colorado recently released some very interesting information about how the Denver Post and Associated Press covered a story on Planned Parenthood building a new clinic in Denver where they allowed an anti-choice crazy to quote that the organization "get[s] young girls hooked on their birth control pills, which don't work."

This reminds me of the bizarre FDA memo which said the distribution of Plan B could result in EC sex cults. Because those hormones just feel too damn good! Sigh. And let's not forget the most important part of this quote wasn't criticized or questioned by either newsource: that birth control pills don't work. (Which is obviously not the case.)

And the bullshit just keeps coming. The beginning of the claim by Colorado Right to Life VP Leslie Hanks tells us to "face it, they're in the business to kill babies for profit," which the entire Post article seems to be framed around. Um wait, but isn't Planned Parenthood a NON-for-profit organization? Hmmmmm...

In other words, this person managed to use the whole "drugs, money and murder" bit to whet the mainstream media's appetite and make Planned Parenthood look like some sort of organized crime cartel. Apparently Planning IS Power! Mwahahaha! Heh.

Check out Feministe and Pandagon for more.

It is true because someone told us and wrote it on a pamplet.

Anti-choice journalism at its best

What better way to gain support for your cause than make shit up?

The Times Online has literally one of the worst reported, anti-choice pieces of nonsense I've seen in a while.
Amnesty International risks alienating some of its high-profile rock star backers in the row over its decision to support women’s access to abortion.

The group has been accused of “duping” the singers Christina Aguilera and Avril Lavigne [by the organization Rock for Life], who have both made statements against abortion and are among contributors to an Amnesty CD released to raise money for survivors of the atrocities in Darfur.

And what are these "statements" against abortion that Aguilera and Lavigne made?
But Aguilera, 26, is a devout American Catholic. She is reportedly expecting her first child and has taken part in a television show in which she interviewed a teenager who had kept her baby rather than have an abortion.

Lavigne, 22, is a French-Canadian from a tight-knit Christian family. Her song Keep Holding On is the backing track to a pro-life video on YouTube that declares “abortion is murder”.

So because Lavigne's song is used in some random YouTube video, an anti-choice organization can say she's "pro-life?" Same with Aguilera interviewing a teenage mom? Kudos on the reporting. Seriously.

Note: I have no idea what the musicians' personal views on choice are, but it's ridiculously clear that these reporters, and Rock for Life, are reaching in order to push their anti-choice crap.

UPDATE: Keen commenter Megan points out that Aguilera was actually involved in the March for Womens' Lives. So...yeah.

Sometimes you have to read a piece twice and then go check the claims. Because,..sometimes you can't rely on the journalist to check the claims they print...Sad. This is a really obvious bit of advertisement journalism.

I can feel sorry for these Republicans, but only so much.

First one gets caught going to a service (Vitter), now a guy is looking for airport perks (I had no idea stuff like that was happening at the Minneapolis airport!). They are sad lonely guys. They seem to want something that they can't get at home, or won't seek. I feel sorry for them. The guy is either gay or bisexual. He should be able to go out and either experiment or live his life. But, as a conservative Republican, he needs to go out and attack gays. So he can't be who he is apparently is. Same with Rev. Haggard. If these guys had been honest, and not attacked people just like them, they could have had more normalcy. But then they would not have power...and their religious and conservative upbringing guaranteed that the feeling that emerged as they grew up were things they would and do despise and hate, which means they despise and hate themselves.

That is just sad.

But the fact is these guys attacked homosexuals, with a zeal. They mocked and tore down those who had affairs. It is just two-faced, it is duplicity. As long as the affairs, the gayness, the abortions, the cash under the table, the long as it stays in the back alleys...all is well. And that is what deserves scorn. That is what deserves coverage. That is what needs to be considered. All this corruption, suppressed homosexuality, and hidden needs...Guys?

For more Hypocritical Republicans:
Paul Krugman A Socialist Plot
Suppose, for a moment, that the Heritage Foundation were to put out a press release attacking the liberal view that even children whose parents could afford to send them to private school should be entitled to free government-run education.

They'd have a point: many American families with middle-class incomes do send their kids to school at public expense, so taxpayers without school-age children subsidize families that do. And the effect is to displace the private sector: if public schools weren't available, many families would pay for private schools instead.

So let's end this un-American system and make education what it should be - a matter of individual responsibility and private enterprise. Oh, and we shouldn't have any government mandates that force children to get educated, either. As a Republican presidential candidate might say, the future of America's education system lies in free-market solutions, not socialist models.

O.K., in case you're wondering, I haven't lost my mind, I'm drawing an analogy. The real Heritage press release, titled "The Middle-Class Welfare Kid Next Door," is an attack on proposals to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Such an expansion, says Heritage, will "displace private insurance with government-sponsored health care coverage."

And Rudy Giuliani's call for "free-market solutions, not socialist models" was about health care, not education.

But thinking about how we'd react if they said the same things about education helps dispel the fog of obfuscation right-wingers use to obscure the true nature of their position on children's health.

The truth is that there's no difference in principle between saying that every American child is entitled to an education and saying that every American child is entitled to adequate health care. It's just a matter of historical accident that we think of access to free K-12 education as a basic right, but consider having the government pay children's medical bills "welfare," with all the negative connotations that go with that term.

And conservative opposition to giving every child in this country access to health care is, in a fundamental sense, un-American. . .

More comedy from the Bush Admin

Well, the ship is emptying faster and faster now. It must be really hard for Bush to play, but their are plenty of people in Washington eager to jump into Bush's now empty lap. Like a sitcom on its last legs, with the cast quitting, their is always some idiot looking for a few minutes of TV limelight. has a top 10 list of Alberto Gonzales. Watch his top flubs and logic impaired statements.

Monday, August 13, 2007

On the out.

What's this?

Tommy Thompson is out of the race? He really was the last to know.

And now who is leaving town?

Karl Rove?

It would be nice to think he is slipping off in defeat...but he wouldn't be the first one out of Washington to keep their hand in and be ready to come back in, or to continue to work in the background. We'll have to wait and see.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Behe on Colbert

ID booster Michael Behe was on Stephen Colbert's show. He is a mainstay of the Discovery Institute, in it's quest to discredit and dismantle ungodly science.

He loves to write books about the failure that is evolution. You know cells are complex. They have machines and computer codes. It is a sad tale of a man desperate not to see a long history of events that led to us. He came up with analogizes comparing the cell to mechanics. Then he turns around and treats them like mechanics. In case you got lost there, like Behe, cells are not mechanical. So the irreducible complexity bit is just sad. He, in the interview, seems to see ID and himself in the roles of Einstein, Relativity, and Hawkings. He had the new and better ideas. Granted he has no science backing him, just rhetoric. But why should that stop his Faith...I mean research...What research?

The Colbert Report is not the best place to see the flaws in Behe's thinking laid out. He is too in character, playing the neocon christofascist, to really go after a guy like this. But, surprisingly, Colbert actually zinged him and got him some in the process.

But every time he goes out, and he gets around the country to eager audiences, I just wish there was someone in the audience to take him to task. It happens too rarely.