Category Archives: Undead sexist cliches

Sexism costs money

Reading and listening to accounts of women dealing with sexism at work shows how much. Hours spent on problems because they don’t listen to the woman’s view. Talking over the women and prolonging work when listening would wrap things up faster. Delegating crappy jobs to the women that don’t make use of their abilities.

As one of my friends said, what if this went onto the balance sheet? All the work-hours that could have been saved, all the projects that aren’t finished on time because the woman’s cleaning up for someone else’s mistakes. Not to mention talented women who quit because they’ve had enough dealing with sexists and/or harassers. It adds up. In some stories I’ve heard over the years, probably a lot of money.

To say nothing of lawsuits. Fox had to pay $90 million to settle a shareholder lawsuit over sexual harassment at the news channel. They’ve paid more to women who’ve sued over harassment from Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly.

If that were tallied up and actually quantified for investors, that would be one hell of an incentive for businesses to treat women better.

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In other news, it’s still a sick sad world

A world where Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis explains those two people Kyle Rittenhouse allegedly shot and killed had it coming. And a church truck bringing water and snack for protesters is seized by the cops because, reasons.

Where some people would sooner have a white-run America than democracy. For example, this guy.

Another reason it’s a sick, sad world is that cops get a legal shield against being investigated or punished for wrongdoing that nobody else does. An appeals court, however, has removed protections for journalists and legal observers in Portland.

Another is that Republican moderates really are a dying breed.

People really are drinking bleach to cure the Trump Virus. Spoiler: it doesn’t work.

The Republican presidential candidate “is an entitled coastal elitist, an easily triggered snowflake who plays the victim card and constantly elevates feelings over thinking. Trump is a big spending, Constitution-disregarding, dictator-coddling, traditional values-disdaining, identity politics-embracing, cancel culture-advocating craver of safe spaces. There’s nothing Trump resembles so much as a stereotype of left wingers” But that doesn’t stop bad Republican arguments why he’s awesome.

Betsy DeVos pushed new college rules for handling sexual assault. They don’t look effective: colleges can’t take action over off-campus incidents and it takes a lot of harassment before a college has to respond. DeVos is a rape apologist, I’m sure this is intentional.

The Washington Redskins name has been controversial. Management’s treatment of women is awful too.

Fred Clark points out the scandal isn’t what’s illegal but what’s acceptable. Crooked religious conservative Ralph Reed, for example, remains in good standing.

Trump and his toadies are still working to stop voting by mail.

Many people on FB have told me Trump is the one who can stop the violence! Actually he’s in favor of some of it.

And they’ve been freaking out over Dems Are Socialists for a century now. Always wrong, never giving up. And continuing to whine that Democratic votes shouldn’t count.

I’m repeatedly told on Facebook that Democrat run cities and states are a living hell of lawlessness, but that’s not true.

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Marrying young and starting a baby boom: Homeward Bound

Amazon recommended HOMEWARD BOUND: American Families in the Cold War Era by Elaine Tyler May to me when I was searching for research books for Alien Visitors. It’s no good for that but it’s a much better book than Welcome to Mars and a good resource for Undead Sexist Cliches.

While a lot of conservatives hold up the 1950s as the embodiment of traditional America, May shows it was actually an anomaly, an era when women married younger than ever before (there was a shit ton of teen sex going on but much of it was within the bounds of wedlock), stayed home and produced enough children to launch the baby boom. Women with professional training declared homemaking and motherhood would be their careers and threw themselves into it with a vengeance. Working moms who neglected their kids (it was assumed all working moms neglected their kids) created juvenile delinquents; moms who were too devoted to their kids created homosexual wimps (there was no winning; one woman quoted snarks that “the poor mother has been made to replace God in her omnipotence.”). Women who got college educations didn’t have enough kids, threatening social stability (a lot of the “stupid people outbreed smart people” rhetoric of the era was specifically focused on smart women not prioritizing babymaking).

May see the 1950s dream life of a house in the suburbs, kids, a stay-at-home wife and a great sex life as stemming from multiple sources. A good life with lots of consumer goods embodied American superiority over communism; where the USSR held up its women as proud professionals and workers, Americans exalted the feminine delicacy of stay at home moms. Strong families were the basis of a strong stable society. Getting women married young kept them from having premarital sex. And general conformist pressure encouraged everyone to go along: if you weren’t happy as a stay-at-home mom or a father commuting to a demanding, soul-crushing job, the solution was Valium or psychoanalysis, not questioning the system.

May points out that some women really did find this a satisfactory deal; others found it the best they could do given the circumstances and the lack of opportunity for professional careers. An old survey of married women is a major part of the book, as the women discuss what’s good and bad about their loves. Some of them said the comfortable life, great kids and standing in the community (being single was definitely not cool) were worth it, but they describe the downsides — husbands who belittle their opinions, drinkers, adulterers, boredom — in sad tones that make this era a lot less utopian than traditional-values conservatives want to imagine it.

This being the 20th anniversary edition, May looks at the post-9/11 world and finds many similarities to the Cold War (drawing on Susan Faludi’s excellent The Terror Dream). But the heart of the book is its portrayal of the 1950s; among other things, the acceptance of teen marriage gives a whole new meaning to teen love in romance comics.

#SFWApro. Cover design by Nicole Caputo, photograph by Dmitri Kessel (amazingly I actually met one of the women in it, a few years ago, though I didn’t know it at the time). Comics cover probably by Dick Giordano.

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“How can you judge a young man for what he did five years ago?” is not a good defense.

So when 19-year-old Aaron Coleman was a tween he acquired a nude photo of a 13-year-old classmate. He threatened to share it around her family and friends if she didn’t give him more photos. She refused; he shared.

After Coleman won a Democratic primary for the Kansas House, this came to light, along with a stalking incident and him harassing a young woman to the point she attempted suicide. Coleman dropped out of the race, then changed his mind, complaining — as did some of his supporters — that given his strong progressive positions (Medicare for All!) feminists are insane to attack him. Do they want Republicans to win? How can we ever change the status quo if feminists eat their own like this?

Inevitably this has generated more support for Coleman from people showing “himpathy” and demanding (as LGM calls it) “dude process”: He was 13 and everyone knows 13 year olds have poor judgment. Is one foolish mistake going to hang over his head forever? Where is the path to redemption? He tried to apologize (his victims have blocked him on FB so he couldn’t reach them) and he admits his behavior was bad — doesn’t that count for something?

As Lindsay Beyerstein says, “his life is being ruined” is not the issue here. Losing the election or stepping down in the face of these revelations (nobody has demanded the party end his run for office) isn’t ruin, it’s just … not getting to hold elected office. And no, the fact he’s progressive doesn’t obligate feminists or anyone else to support him. Feminists went through this with Democratic Sen. Al Franken and New York AG Eric Schneiderman, both of whom lost their positions because of allegations of past harassment incidents (Schneiderman’s being far, far nastier). In both cases there were people who thought they were too valuable to the party — why not let this slide? I’m glad there was no sliding.

And I’m glad they called out Coleman. What he’s doing was not a case of “boys will be boys” — yes, teenagers do stupid, irresponsible things, but that’s not the case here. Coleman wasn’t sneaking into the girls’ locker room to get a peek (which is not good either, admittedly); what he did was vicious bullying and harassment. Coleman admits he was a “sick and troubled boy” and I don’t doubt that’s true, but it’s not a justification or an excuse, no more than admitting “I have a bad temper” excuses having a bad temper. With the dark times running 12 to 14, that’s a period just five years back. At least Brett Kavanaugh (who also got the Just Teenage Horseplay defense) was 20 years older than when he assaulted Christine Blasey Ford. Of course, both teenage boys and adults busted for rapes they just committed get the “you can’t ruin their life!” defense so I’m not sure time is relevant.

And it’s debatable whether Coleman has, in fact repented. He acknowledges he did some bad shit, which is good (and he really does acknowledge it, which a lot of these creeps don’t) … but then again, he also dismisses some of his harassing ways as “only digital,” as if that didn’t hurt. And his complaint about the circular firing squad is clearly saying criticizing his behavior is unreasonable. Plus his ex claims he choked her during an argument and that was just within the past year.

Contrary to some of the articles, I don’t think the victims have to forgive him for him to redeem himself; forgiveness and redemption are twinned but separate processes. I have no idea what redemption would look like (as I discuss here). But I don’t think Coleman’s redeemed himself yet, except by the standards of dude process.

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It’s the centennial of women’s suffrage—

Though as Vox points out, the history of women getting the vote is a messy one, with white suffragettes prioritizing their own right to vote over women (and men) of color (while not mentioned in the article, that cut both ways: black activists during Reconstruction were willing to back off support for women’s right to vote as a compromise toward securing their own). And of course, getting the vote didn’t end sexism —

Roy Edroso points out how the women of “the Squad” have been crushing their primary opponents but the media portray them as barely surviving. And while the initial attacks on Kamala Harris are mostly about race, they’re also going with She’s a Slut. While that’s a classic approach to squashing women, I have a feeling the party of confessed sexual harasser, adulterer and lover of porn stars Donald Trump will not be able to make an effective attack out of someone else’s sexual errors. Though Rush Limbaugh, of course, is trying.

Jordan Hester was a star bar manager in the Raleigh NC restaurant scene. This Indy piece says he was also a chronic abuser and rapist. The story has some depressingly familiar traits: women who aren’t at first willing to call it rape, a guy with a general fondness for dominating women, friendly gestures that turn nasty.

A Monica Hesse piece discusses how conservatives feel entitled to judge women’s clothes, abortions or their sex life but suddenly decide they’re not going to dictate and be all big government when it comes to masks: “You might believe that abortion is murder, but you cannot say that it is contagious and airborne, something you can catch or transmit unknowingly to others. You cannot argue that, upon choosing to have an abortion, a pregnant person walks into a grocery store and infects 50 other innocent shoppers with abortion. As clever and self-righteous as anti-maskers may believe themselves to be, public health concerns are completely different from individual medical procedures. But if that’s the comparison that anti-mask folks want to make — fine. Prepare to be judged and harangued the way women are for seeking abortions. And prepare to deserve it, because unlike what goes on inside a Planned Parenthood clinic, public health actually is the business of the public.”

Want to keep Internet misogynists at a distance? Tattoos work. But they remain convinced women who say they’re lonely are really getting lots of sex.

Some conservatives argue that as most women fail strength tests for the infantry or special forces, that proves women don’t belong there. A military captain makes the counter-argument that this proves women who pass deserve to fight. And as he says, if lots more women were passing, there’d be loud complaints about how the tests had obviously been made too easy.

Another look at Isaac Asimov, professed feminist and self-confessed dirty old man.

A woman with three kids by three different men is a right-wing nightmare (ditto a black man with three different kids by three different mothers). This white guy, however, brags about getting three women pregnant because he doesn’t like condoms.

By now Rep. Ocasia-Cortez’s slap down of colleague Ted Yoho for calling her a “fucking bitch” is old news. But this is still a good article on A-OC’s response and Yoho’s faux-pology that he insulted her because he loves his country. The Cut looks at how NYT portrays this as some elaborate media-manipulation by Ocasia-Cortez, for example putting quotes around ‘accosted and publicly ridiculed’ as if that was an interpretation rather than a fact.

“While it is a husband’s God-given right to use spanking as a form of discipline on his wife (with or without her consent), a husband should be wise in regard to the hostile culture we live in.” just part of a horrible article on the God-given right of husbands to enslave their wives.

The United States has pushed for the rights of women overseas in the past. Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thinks the only rights we should care about are property and religious freedom. I’ll bet money that won’t include the freedom of the right to abortion, birth control, or religion other than right-wing Christianity.

Donald Trump’s proof he’s the women’s choice for president: He’s pardoning Susan B. Anthony! Which is not a bad thing, but it’s nothing that’s going to redeem him or make him less of a sexist and rapist, either.

 

 

 

 

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The Pat Savage syndrome

One of the points Tim Hanley makes in his Batgirl and Beyond is that in the Silver Age Batwoman, Batgirl I (Betty Kane) and Batgirl II (Barbara Gordon whom you’re probably all familiar with) were all shown to be competent, but still constantly sidelined. Reading I Died Yesterday this month has me thinking how I’ve often seen that trope, and it definitely applies to Doc’s cousin Patricia Savage.

When we first meet Pat in Brand of the Werewolf, she’s 18 years old, just lost her father and is determined to figure out the mystery behind his death. She can shoot, fight and track and has the same taste for adventure her cousin does. When she shows up in New York in Fear Cay, she tells Doc that after the previous adventure, life in the Canadian wilderness is just too dull. When the bad guys target a young woman, Pat trades places and lets them kidnap her instead. She admits later it was more excitement than she’d anticipated, but she’s up for the gig. By the following book, Death in Silver, she’s opened Patricia, Incorporated, her New York beauty salon/health spa which charges skyhigh prices (I Died Yesterday says Pat’s ruthless about turning away potential clients, thereby reassuring people she’s exclusive enough to be worth paying through the nose). And whenever she can, cutting herself in on Doc’s adventures.

It’s understandable Doc’s never very enthused about this. He’s in his thirties, Pat’s barely an adult; as he says in The Feathered Octopus, he knows she could hold her own with his team but he doesn’t want his last living relative risking her neck. It doesn’t change the fact that she is sidelined even in the stories she appears in; I Died Yesterday is one of the few that really shows her capable, and even there Doc’s conducting himself like a jerk to discourage her. It’s the kind of trick Ricky Ricardo might play on Lucy, if they’d been PIs. And it’s not unique; while one WW II book mentioned Doc recruiting Pat because his regular resources are stretched so thin, Violent Night has him using US spies to scare her off the case (it doesn’t work). Given he’s supposed to be hunting down Hitler, it’s a remarkable waste of resources. Pat almost never gets to shine, though both Millennium’s and Dynamite’s Doc Savage comics made it a point to give her more action.

Pat’s hardly unique. I’ve seen lots of books and movies where they establish the female lead is competent and capable, but then treat her as just the love interest. Or assume that no matter how competent or professional she is, all she really wants is to land a man; once she does that, forget her career! Or simply assume she’s just not good enough. I read a sequel in the 1970s to Robert E. Howard’s stories of mercenary Dark Agnes and it ends with this tough, capable warrior woman going all weak at the knees — good thing there’s a man around to hold her close and tell her everything’s okay (it makes me appreciate why Sigourney Weaver said she was so glad they never put a scene like that into Aliens). It’s an equivalent of sorts to the hot mess approach to writing women: show that no matter how tough, capable or adventurous she is, she’s not really going to be the hero Because our culture tells us that’s a a man’s job!

#SFWApro. Covers by Carmine Infantino, James Bama and Walter Swenson, all rights remain with current holders.

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Undead sexist cliche: feminists should do their own housework

So in a lengthy discussion elsewhere online, one commenter volunteered the opinion that “some white women might not be as keen on sharing that space with women of color, either (see the suffrage an earlier feminist movements), as their feminism and its gains must necessarily involve the subjugation of black and brown women. Can’t have the nanny/housekeeper/babysitter pools drying up. Can we?” I didn’t get a chance to respond before comments closed.

This is not the first time I’ve run into the argument that feminists build their careers on the backs of working-class/WOC who assume responsibility for cooking/cleaning/babycare and that this is bad. Caitlin Flanagan, for example, was complaining a couple of decades back that for career women, “Scrubbing the toilet bowl is a bit of nastiness that can be fobbed off on anyone poor and luckless enough to qualify for no better employment.” As Echidne points out, this is amazingly hypocritical from someone who by her own admission elsewhere employs a full domestic staff, never changes sheets and let her nanny attend to the kids’ diarrhea.

Flanagan also assumes that housework is by definition bad, an occupation only taken by the “poor and luckless” and therefore its inherently exploitative. Writer Sally Howard reaches a similar conclusion in an article from March: she tried paying her cleaning person well (said cleaner was very happy) but felt she was still demeaning her, implying by hiring her that she (Howard) was too good to clean the toilets herself.

I tend to see these arguments as a variation on older jokes about women who hire housekeepers even when they’re stay-at-home moms: what’s with that? As Echidne, again, says, they all hinge on the assumption that women should clean their own homes. And that finding someone else to do it “necessarily involves the subjugation of black and brown women” who are poor and desperate (one reason I’m not linking to the source is that not having had a chance to respond, I can’t be certain I’m interpreting the quote fairly). But as Howard points out, paying someone good money is an option, so finding domestic staff doesn’t require subjugation.

I admit it’s quite possible some of the cleaners wouldn’t take the jobs if they had an alternative: lots of people hate this kind of job. One of the reasons some immigrants gave for moving the American colonies that while life might be hard, it was better than going into domestic service. It’s quite possible the cleaners wouldn’t take the jobs if they had a better alternative but that’s true of many jobs such as farm work or customer service (not that all people hate customer service but I’ve known people who did feel working retail was beneath them). I’ve often wondered whether we’d see huge gaps in the economy if everyone was free to do jobs they wanted (and were qualified for) — though I’ve also heard people say they’re happy with a job that doesn’t demand anything beyond a few hours of grunt work a day. Though either way, we’re not likely to find out any time soon.

And as Echidne says (and Howard too) it’s not like this is some unique evil perpetrated by feminists alone. Men hire housekeepers. Businesses hire cleaning staff. If cleaning is inherently exploitative, then it’s a society wide issue and everyone has a vested interest in keeping the pool of help stocked. And of course, much of modern American capitalism is built around the assumption that men can work long hours because there’s a woman to take care of the cleaning, cooking and kids, only it’s the man’s wife and she’s doing it for nothing. Which is what Howard, Flanagan (quite hypocritically) and possibly the commenter seem to think is fair. The commenter doesn’t seem to see feminists getting their husband or kids to contribute is a solution; Flanagan flatly rules that out as unworkable.

I agree the system is imperfect. But arguing that feminists are hypocrites if they hire housekeepers is just a variation of the “you say you criticize capitalism but you buy things!” school of purity.

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Political default settings

So right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro recently announced he was giving up sports because it’s getting too political with all those athletes taking the knee during the anthem. Which as LGM points out, ignores that playing the national anthem is political too. But Shapiro doesn’t notice (assuming he’s sincere, which I do not assume) because that kind of politics is a default setting, something taken for granted. It’s an unmarked category, something that’s treated as normal and unremarkable: “if you had asked a lawyer in 1960 to name three characteristics that every current Supreme Court justice shared, it’s very likely the lawyer would not have mentioned either race or gender. In other words, we notice characteristics we don’t expect to see much more than characteristics we assume will be present.”

The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, for instance, said prior to the 2016 election that he didn’t want Clinton in office because America didn’t need two “demographically significant” presidents in a row. In his eyes, putting in a white man had no demographic significance; it was an unmarked category. Columnist Suzanne Fields once complained that the American Psychological Association had stopped  classifying homosexuality as a disease not for science because of modern cultural assumptions gay is okay (which she disagrees with). The possibility earlier generations assuming homosexuals were mentally ill was also a response to cultural assumptions did not occur to her, or if it did she kept silent about it.

Then we have the rants of various right-wing SF authors that they’re tired of political Social Justice Warrior novels where Earth conquering alien races is treated like a bad thing. The good old days when Earth empires were perfectly acceptable? No, that wasn’t political at all.

Part of what freaks out 21st century conservatives is that things that were unmarked back when I was born are now marked categories. Having a white male in the Oval Office isn’t just a fact of life, it’s a choice, just like a black or female president. While male characters still dominate action fiction and specfic, people are now conscious that writing about white men is just as much a choice (which some men think is the only right choice). And that raises the uncomfortable (for many people) possibility that even if they’ve worked hard for what they got, they still benefited from being white and male. Conservatives hate being called on it; more liberal people may not want to think they’ve benefited from the oppression of others (I certainly don’t). As a friend of mine said, it’s like learning your family fortune came from blood money.

Much easier to imagine the social hierarchy of the 1950s or the 1920s was a natural one: reserving the Ivy League for white men or favoring white men in jobs was meritocracy in action, not affirmative action for white people.

At least, that’s what some people tell themselves.

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Before Roe v. Wade and the limits of research

BEFORE ROE V. WADE: Voices That Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court’s Ruling by Linda Greenhouse and Reva B. Siegel collects various speeches, articles, legislative statements and amicus curae briefs on the title topic. It’s a good addition to my reading for Undead Sexist Cliches but also shows there’s a point at which to stop researching.

The goal of the authors was to capture the period now 50 years gone when abortion was illegal in much of the country, activist groups helped arrange abortions (if you had the money, flying to Japan was one option) and reformers began to speak up. The debate over making moderate reforms was surprisingly different in the late 1960s, focusing on the right of doctors to give medical advice or the need to reduce population growth; it was only with feminism’s boom in the 1970s that the rights of women became the dominant issue.

On the right, nobody but Catholics focused on the life or rights of the fetus.For Phyllis Schlafly the issue was feminism: abortion was just part of the women’s libbers tricking women into giving up their god-given roles as mothers. Other conservatives saw abortion as a sign of society becoming more permissive about sex, which is why the Nixon campaign denounced McGovern (whose views on the topic weren’t very different) as the pro-permissive candidate of “amnesty, acid and abortion.” Nixon staffer Pat Buchanan (who would rant about feminism’s evils many times in his later career as a pundit) saw opposing abortion as a tactical move, a way to peel off Catholic working-class voters from the Democrats. It wasn’t until the end of the decade that “abortion is murder!” became the rallying cry of choice.

The authors conclude with an appendix in which they argue that contrary to some theories, the Supreme Court’s Roe decision did not spark a massive backlash against abortion rights which wouldn’t have happened if state legislatures had made the decision. At the start of the decade, several legislatures did liberalize their abortion laws, then the mostly Catholic opposition got organized and stopped further attempts. Unlike most pro-choicers, anti-abortion voters were single-issue focused, willing to vote against an otherwise favorable candidate on that basis alone.

This provided some useful context to my book’s chapter on anti-abortion cliches but not so much that I couldn’t have done without it. Which is my point about the limits of research: it’s not that I couldn’t learn more from other books, but I’m not going to learn so much that it’s worth the time to read them. I’m not sure it was worth the time for this one, though I did find it interesting (you can download it yourself for free, from a legit site, if you want). Seeking absolute knowledge is futile; at some point you’ve just got to jump in and start (and finish) writing. And with Undead Sexist Cliches, I think I’m there.

#SFWApro.

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Women are not means to an end. They are ends in themselves

It was Immanuel Kant who said that people are not means to an end, they are ends in themselves. In other words, not tools. Not cannon fodder. Not just supporting characters who have to subordinate their needs to the protagonist’s personal arc. And in the case of women (I do not know that Kant would see it this way but I do) not just baby making machines.

By contrast we have the view that the prime duty of women is to serve men. We shouldn’t allow women’s equality because it destroys men. We should redistribute women like we do tax money. Sexist pundit Dennis Prager thinks women’s sexual desire is irrelevant to their duty to put out “Why do we assume that it is terribly irresponsible for a man to refuse to go to work because he is not in the mood, but a woman can — indeed, ought to — refuse sex because she is not in the mood?” Right-winger DC McAlister similar argues that if the man’s horny, the woman’s duty is to make love, whether she wants to or not. If that’s a typical view, small wonder so many conservatives think marital rape should be legal. I have yet to see these misogynists argue the reverse — if she wants it and he doesn’t, he has a duty to finger, tongue or sex-toy her to orgasm. Her wishes are negligible, what matters is that the husband get off. And yet right-wingers argue that it’s premarital sex that objectifies women …

Similarly, there’s the sense that the decision to have babies shouldn’t depend on whether a woman wants one, only on whether society needs one. Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, for instance, declares that a woman’s womb is “OUR WOMB — that’s right, it doesn’t belong to her, it belongs to the males in her society.” He’s speaking specifically about white women having interracial babies but it’s just as applicable in other situations. Claims women have to pop out babies to keep up the population or the white population. Alt.right male supremacist Sacco Vandal, for example, declares “we have to strip females of suffrage and most if not all political, legal, and economic power …Our men need harems, and the members of those harems need to be baby factories.” Similarly white nationalist F. Roger Devlin  condemns feminism because it offers women choices other than getting married and breeding more white babies (sorry, too rushed to link to everything).

“When you get a birth rate less than 2 percent, that society is disappearing, and it’s being replaced by folks that come behind them and immigrate, don’t wish to assimilate into that society and they do believe in having children.” — Florida State Rep. Dennis Baxley on how we need to ban abortion to keep our native-born (again) population up. Delaware State Rep. Rep. Richard Collins says he opposes abortion because “Our birthrate is way, way below replacement [levels]. You know, we are just not having enough babies.” Pastor Hans Fiene says women and men being friends distracts them from getting married and making babies for America.

Of course this comes from the same wing freaking out that Obamacare makes insurance ob/gyn coverage standard. They don’t simply want women to stay home, barefoot and pregnant, they don’t give a crap that it’s increasingly hard to do, even in a two-parent household. I’ve heard arguments that since college education correlates with smaller families, maybe governments should make college harder to get into. None of these male supremacists ever suggest better legal protection for pregnant workers. Better day care. Better pay. Better parental leave. Laws that ensure the rights of the fetus don’t cancel out the mother’s. It’s always the stick, never the carrot.

There’s no guarantee that if we did offer carrots, women would have more babies. Even countries with much more parent-friendly policies than ours still have low birth rates. But the solution, contrary to Vandal and Devlin, isn’t to take away women’s rights, it’s to figure out alternative paths.

What would it take to keep the economy going if the native-born population dwindles? More immigration would do it, but that’s unthinkable to the right wing these days. What about automation? I’ve heard scary predictions how many jobs will go away over the next twenty years; maybe we actually don’t need as big a population to run the economy. And there must be ways we can finance an effective government with fewer taxpayers.

But the people who fuss about the lack of babies aren’t going to be into any solutions that require not treating women as means to an end. They can’t stomach them being anything else.

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