Category Archives: Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book

Among this week’s accomplishments: removing multi-legged things from the house

One reason TYG is glad to have me around is that when things with too many legs show up, she can have me remove them. Like these two:So that’s two accomplishments unlocked this week.

Writing wise it was a very good week. I wrapped up my Leaf articles for the month Sunday and Monday, then spent the rest of the week working on Alien Visitors. Well, mostly: I finished my proofing of Chapter Nine of Undead Sexist Cliches which means I’m just about done. It hasn’t sunk in yet, though.

I got a lot of writing done for Alien Visitors which has me feeling much better about the book’s progress. Still much to do — almost too much — but for the first time in a while it looks manageable. With the end of October in sight, it’s only a couple more months to work on it — rushed months, but then it’ll be done.

Wisp slept in at night the entire week, which meant she was with me every morning. Nevertheless I managed to regain part of my schedule and get all my exercising done this week, plus long walks with Trixie. Exercise is probably what I need most, so this is good.  And other than one night, she was happy to sleep until I got up, instead of waking me up for petting.

May September go this well!

#SFWApro.

 

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Another productive week without craziness

—So a good week, but not terribly exciting to write about. Next week I have a root canal and an unrelated doctor’s appointment so that may change.

I wrapped up my Leaf writing for July on Monday.

To my pleasant surprise I finished the last chapter and the afterword of Undead Sexist Cliches. In my head, I’m tentatively setting a publication date in early November, which allows me to think about publicity and promotion and stuff (more on this later). Of course, I have a shit-ton to do on Alien Visitors which has a firm deadline at the end of October, so I still wonder if it’s possible. But if I commit, I’ll have to deliver.

Speaking of Alien Visitors, I did a thorough rewrite on the introduction and a good second draft of the chapter on alien invaders (focus: the George Pal and Spielberg War of the Worlds). Being able to look at them and say that yes, people will actually find this interesting, is a huge booster. Much to do yet, though.

And of course, I watched movies and TV for the book. Memorably, but not pleasurably the Day the Earth Stood Still knockoff Cosmic Man (1959) –— which is still more watchable than the Keanu Reaves remake of Day. And then Atomic Submarine (1960)I suffer for my art.

#SFWApro. All rights to posters remain with current holder.

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Lack of empathy, lack of logic: Warren Farrell’s “The Myth of Male Power”

The cover of Warren Farrell’s The Myth of Male Power (uncredited art, as far as I could see) sums up his belief men are powerless in the face of a “genetic celebrity,” AKA an attractive woman. He’s wrong about that, as he is about much else.

The book isn’t all bad. As I said last week, unlike many critiques of feminism Farrell doesn’t assume old gender roles are the goal, or that they’re fixed and unchanging. He doesn’t think men are made for violence, and he believes they can be good caregivers and stay-at-home dads. He realizes shattering gender stereotypes is good for both sexes. And that prison rape is not a funny thing or a form of justice.

All of which makes me appreciate why it’s so tempting to just hate your enemies as monsters: it’s much simpler. It’s like seeing Mona Charen, who’s big on the buyer’s remorse rape-apologist bullshit, condemning Republicans for supporting Donald Trump and Roy Moore. It’s unsettling to realize someone I despise isn’t all bad.

That said, this book gives me plenty to despise. Farrell starts from illogical premises and then builds badly (not to mention including bad statistics and untrue statements). For example, he claims men are genetically hardwired to be women’s protectors, and women to crave protectors for mates). This is a paleofantasy, an assumption that as society is this way, it must be in our genes. Like most such assumptions, there’s no science to back it up. As philosopher Daniel Dennett once said, our ancestors often chose to live in caves but we don’t have a cave-dwelling gene.

Nevertheless, Farrell explains all kinds of things based on his assumption. Boys bully each other to test their fitness as protectors. Polygamy exists to protect women from winding up monogamously married to a poor man. Workplace gender discrimination protects married women by ensuring their husbands have fewer competitors at work. Men die in war to protect women. In Farrell’s eyes, society doesn’t oppress women, it cherishes them.

Farrell also believes our biological imperative is for man to aggressively pursue women while women keep saying no; eventually the man overwhelms her resistance and she surrenders happily, knowing she has a strong mate who’ll fight for her. In other words, no means yes. Farrell doesn’t literally say every no means yes but he comes close. He claims, for example, that sexual harassment suits mean “yes” — the woman doesn’t want him to give up pursuing her, she’s still just testing him. Besides, if women look attractive at work, obviously they’re open to hooking up (and marrying and quitting, so the boss is totally justified in firing good-looking women).

This leads into another flaw, Farrell’s complete lack of empathy for women. In writing about dating and relationships, he thinks both men and women should be willing to ask the other out, pay for dinner if they ask, etc., which is reasonable enough. But he focuses almost entirely on the male side, the pain and discomfort of being rejected by a genetic celebrity. He ignores that most women aren’t sexy, any more than men, and that the mating dance is just as agonizing for women, if not more so. As Laurie Penny says, “I was taught to fear being a whore or a loser if I answered, never mind asked myself. Sex isn’t an achievement for a young girl. It’s something we’re supposed to embody so other people can consume us, and if we fail at that, what are we even for?” Farrell seems to think the problem is women enjoying their power and making men come to them, not that society — and a fair number of men — often treat them like shit for not doing womanhood right.

And that leads into his utterly loathsome views of rape and harassment. For Farrell it’s men who suffer: men have to take the initiative in sex and relationships but if they’re not a good lover or they “initiate at the wrong time,” suddenly it’s rape! They have to ask the woman out but if she’s a coworker and she isn’t interested, bam, he’s a harasser (asking a colleague out once, assuming you’re not in authority over her, is not usually enough to cause harassment). Feminists have “taught” women to sue for date rape but nobody’s taught men to sue if women say yes, then change their mind which is just as traumatic (no, it isn’t).

Stranger rape, that’s bad, but date rapists are just dudes who “initiated badly” or weren’t good lovers. And yet as soon as they make their innocent mistake, blammo, a woman can ruin them. She feels buyer’s remorse, or she just lies — Farrell’s convinced there are huge numbers of false rape charges out there. The FBI doesn’t think so, but federal statistics are unreliable: as far as the FBI knows, we could have no false charges, or we could have 100 percent (the FBI can state as a fact we do not have 100 percent fake rape charges).

 

 

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Strangely enough, the guest puppies made me more productive, sort of

With Lily and Tito visiting, and TYG having her own stuff to deal with, I really couldn’t go anywhere last weekend other than the grocery store and the library. So I watched lots of movies for Alien Visitors. I did more of that the first couple of days this week, then settled in to writing on the book. The result was that I ended up with like nine hours of overtime. Which I still track even though I almost never run under-time. Still, knowing I’m not sitting on my butt gives me a certain peace of mind.

After the dogs left I set to work on writing the book. I did some great work on the introduction but as usual didn’t get as far as I liked. Dog care, lack of sleep, occasional errands, in short the usual distractions.

I squeezed in a bunch of Leafs the end of the week and I started the rewrite of Chapter Nine of Undead Sexist Cliches. This chapter deals with the concept of the sexual marketplace — specifically the idea women are selling sex (whether for cash, love, gifts or marriage), men are buying and that women “giving it away” undercuts the rightful order of things.

And that’s pretty much it. As I’m working on so few projects these days, these posts just get shorter and shorter. But that’s better than having some long catastrophe I have to explain, right?

For visuals, here’s a shot I took from inside the Plush One’s cage, up next to the built-in cupboard. We finally took the cage down today.

#SFWApro.

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Undead Sexist Cliche: Let’s kill women to compensate for the male war dead!

As I said last week, I really hated buying Warren Farrell’s The Myth of Male Power because it put money in his pocket, but it has proven a wise decision. While he’s got one or two good things to say — unlike a lot of people I cover in Undead Sexist Cliches, he doesn’t believe men are innately violent or that we can’t be nurturing — his efforts to both-sides feminism (men and women are both oppressed! Women hurt men as badly as men hurt women!) are a mess of bullshit.

I’ll get into that when I’ve finished the whole book, but today I want to focus on one particular point. In discussing how men and only men have to register for the draft, Farrell asks how we’d feel if the president suddenly announced “Since 1.2 million American men have been killed in war, as part of my new program for equality, we will draft only women until 1.2 million American women have been killed in war.”

No, he’s not making a serious proposal, he’s just using this to dramatize how men, in his view, are oppressed and feminists don’t care. He complains, for example, that feminists offered women greater freedom without calling for greater responsibilities — notice how NOW didn’t call for 18-year-old girls to be drafted like men? Feminists think women are oppressed but it’s only men who die in wars or fighting to create empires.

Even given that Farrell’s not serious, his proposal creeps me out. It’s the equivalent of BLM saying they’ll stop protesting when they see one white cop shot for every innocent black person killed by a cop. Even if BLM were just doing it to dramatize injustice, it would feel very wrong. So does Farrell.

That aside, his fixation on the draft is a good example of how tottyheaded his thinking is. I’m in complete agreement that both men and women (and the nonbinary) should register as long as selective service exists. However registration hasn’t turned into a draft in the past forty years, not even when our military was straining to cope with the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations. Farrellis correct that the government could order all registered men report for induction, but it doesn’t seem likely. Nor does his link between a men-only draft and prison rape make a lick of sense.

He complains that Margaret Thatcher was exempt from the UK draft but didn’t get judged for it the way Bill Clinton and Dan Quayle did. It’s hard to see Thatcher not being eligible is equivalent to consciously avoiding the draft; if Clinton had been pilloried just for not enlisting, the argument would make more sense (Obama didn’t serve and didn’t get much crap about it). Then again, W avoided the draft and was largely held up as a fighter pilot war hero manly man while decorated veteran John Kerry was branded a weasel who faked his own injuries. Farrell couldn’t have known that in 1993 when his book came out, but he could have acknowledged it in the updated introduction.

Farrell’s point isn’t just the draft/registration, it’s the general principle that fighting and dying in a war shouldn’t be a measure of manhood. No argument here (though from reading a lot of military history, I think there’s a lot more to war and being a soldier). But Farrell twists the argument to the breaking point to fit his theme, that society oppresses men to protect women. Men die in wars so that women can be safe. Men die in colonial wars so that their country’s economy will grow and families can afford to raise children. Men — not women!

Farrell had no way of knowing that women in 2021 would be able to join the military and serve in combat roles (something some women have done throughout history). Even in 1993, though, his argument is bullshit (as We Hunted the Mammoth has pointed out discussing male body counts). Our military casualties in Vietnam were overwhelmingly (not entirely) male but thousands of Vietnamese women died along with their men. Women died in the Rape of Nanking. They died in the London Blitz. They died in empire building: the warriors in America’s Indian Wars may have been male but Native American women died in the millions along with their men.

And how is this feminism’s fault? The American males-only draft was the work of a government dominated by men (and no, the primary motive was not to protect America’s women). The same government excluded women from serving in combat — it wasn’t until the Spanish-American War that women had any role in the U.S. military. Feminists didn’t push for women to be drafted; they did, however support the Equal Rights Amendment which would have mandated a gender-neutral draft (antifeminist women hated the idea). Feminists  have a long history of opposing the draft for men and supporting the rights of women to serve in combat roles (though some feminists saw this as caving into the military-industrial complex or worried about military service putting women under the control of men).

Betty Friedan saw the potential for what Farrell claims feminists neglected, the chance to redefine masculinity: if both genders are fighters, violence no longer defines manhood. TYG’s comment when I mentioned Farrell’s idea was that she’d be delighted with a women-only draft. A generation or two where women got heavily trained in how to fight and use weapons and men didn’t? Works for her.

I suspect both these thoughts are among the reasons right-wingers hate women in the military, like Ted Cruz freaking out that women soldiers can’t win against Russia’s manly essence. The last thing he wants in the world is women who are tougher and stronger than he’ll ever be.

Like I said, I’ll be back with more on the book in a later post.

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My week, demolished by dogs (Wisp helped too)

Having Tuesday sucked up by doctor visits was only part of the distractions from writing this week.

It started Saturday night, July 3. Some clodpates decided to launch fireworks to celebrate Independence Day Eve and Plushie freaked out. He crawled across the bed and began licking at my face for comfort, which is not so comfortable for me — I kept having to shift to avoid getting my mouth or my ears licked (ick!). And he wanted to jump off the bed, which would be bad for his ongoing recovery (more on which soon).

Sunday night, July 4, there were, of course, more fireworks and more of a freakout. My writing day Monday was ultra-groggy; I’d scheduled eight Leaf articles for myself and only finished six. Catching up took more time out of the rest of my week (I try for 10 a week. It covers my share of the bills handily).

Monday night, as I mentioned in this morning’s post, Wisp kept waking me up. Tuesday and Wednesday I just didn’t sleep well. Part of that is that the endodontist gave me antibiotics (there’s a slight infection around the site of my future root canal) and my mind keeps prodding me to get up at 3 AM so I take them on a regular schedule (it’s a four times a day thing), then I can’t get back to sleep.

Then Thursday, a friend called with a problem. They’d previously asked about us dog-sitting Lily and Tito as we’d done before, but for a longer stretch, Thursday to Tuesday (the dogs have never been boarded so the owners don’t want to do that if they can avoid it). Then they’d found someone who could house-sit with the dogs, so we didn’t have to get involved. Thursday their house-sitter got slapped with an emergency and it was too late to either take the dogs or board them, so could we … And of course we said yes. Needless to say, having two more dogs slows my work down to a crawl. Plus our weekly session with our dogs at the dog rehab place took much longer than anticipated. So Thursday was a wash as far as anything involving thinking. Today was too.

At least they’re awfully cute, sweet dogs though.

I did manage to read over Chapter Nine of Undead Sexist Cliches preparatory to rewriting it. I posted on Atomic Junkshop about the obscure Superman villain Zha-Vam (“Say his name and even Superman shakes!”) I got my ten Leafs done for the week, and watched a lot of movies for Alien Visitors. Didn’t get much writing done, though and I really need to. But there’s only so much that can be done when multiple dogs clamor for attention.

#SFWApro.

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With the year half over …

I’ve had a consistent run of completing 50 percent of my goals each month. And it happened once again for June. Writing went well, though (as usual) nowhere near as fast as I wanted. Lots of little goals didn’t get done but I kept up my exercise and (reasonably) healthy eating goals.

This week went well. My relatively new rule of not counting time spent on email or blogging as writing time really does allow me to get more done. And I don’t feel guilty if I plow through a lot of email. Both these things are good.

I rewrote the Alien Invasions chapter of Alien Visitors and put in a bunch of time breaking down my list of movies decade by decade, to see if I can spot any trends. Nothing concrete yet, but I’ll blog about it when I think of something. And, of course, I watched movies. Leaf was on hiatus most of the week so I had extra time (I’ll be back on that beat starting Monday, or maybe Sunday). I also need to rein in how much stuff I try to do during movies. Sure, lots of them are minor and not really deserving of close attention. Even so, they may spark some insight, but not if I let myself get consumed by blogging or reading the news. I used to be able to double-focus, but not so much now. And switching from close-up computer range eye use to staring at the TV creates quite a strain.

I finished rewriting the abortion/birth control chapter of Undead Sexist Cliches. Now it’s just Chapter Nine (and the conclusion), then indexing, spell-checking, researching a couple of point that need clarifying …and (ugh) rereading Warren Farrel’s The Myth of Male Power. The $17 used copy I ordered vanished in the mail (I got a refund today). As every copy I can find is at least $30, I sold out and bought the Kindle edition for $8. I dislike anything that sends royalties his way, but …

For visual appeal, here’s a photo I took of the spare bedroom window early Thursday, when it’s only lit by the back porch floodlights. It came out much better than most of my darkness photos do.#SFWApro.

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Productive work but was it the right work?

Yes and no. I prioritized work on Alien Visitors but I wound up watching more movies and doing less than writing on the book than I should have.

The week started off with Trixie deciding to get up early to spend time with me. Which got more complicated than usual as Wisp decided to come in and spend time with me. Attempting to handle both of them, keep Trixie out of Wisp’s tuna (Trixie’s stomach usually gets upset after), break up any possible fights — well, I couldn’t get my usual exercises and stretching done. So I pushed that until later in the day and watched movies or TV for the book while I did my physical stuff. That kept me working, but it did not get the writing done. I did complete a rough rewrite of the introduction but I need to do a lot more next week.

I also got my Leaf articles done and proofed Chapter Eight of Undead Sexist Cliches while I was sitting in Plushie’s cage. It’s  too awkward to bring my computer into the cage, but he needed the company.

So not quite the best use of my time, but I did put it to use. And I learned something from the movies, even the crappy ones. So it’s a win, I think. Plus I spent this morning having tea with my friend HJ Frederick, catching up and enjoying real world interactions.

For an illustration, here’s some flowers from the neighborhood.#SFWApro.

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Undead Sexist of the Day: Matt Walsh

I despise right-wing religious pundit Matt Walsh as a raging misogynist. But to give him credit, he has called out religious conservatives who claim that Trump is a modern-day King David, a flawed man doing great things for God. As Walsh points out, the prophets of Israel confronted David about his moral failings, after which David repented. Trump’s court prophets refuse to call him out and Trump ain’t repenting any of his sins. That’s not an easy stance to take in the right-wing world.

When it comes to writing about women, however, Walsh is repellent. According to Walsh, the reason women feel horrible after date rape isn’t because they’ve been raped, it’s because they’re a slut. They feel bad because they had sex before marriage, which means the man used them as a “glorified masturbatory aid” (a version of the buyers’ remorse take on rape I blogged about a while back). So clearly, the solution is to bring back premarital chastity so women won’t wake up regretting the slutty sex they just had.

This is bullshit. Premarital relations can be warm and supportive; spouses can commit rape. Men still raped back when premarital sex was a big taboo; the Southern Baptist Conference, which is solidly on the no-sex-before-marriage side nevertheless is rife with rape and assault. Walsh is like a lot of religious conservatives who freak out about date rape not because it’s coercive but because it’s sex. Oh, he also believes that even a 12-year-old rape victim must bear the child, because otherwise there’d be no evidence of the crime. Does he not realize that a 12-year-old being pregnant is proof of a crime in itself?

Walsh is a complementarian and a firm believer that men and women are not equal — well, in the eyes of god, but the supposed inherent differences between the genders make equality impossible. His killer argument: “A guy who beats his wife is no worse than a guy who gets into a shoving match with his buddy, right?” Dude, if you’re beating up your friend, that’s wrong; if you’re using “shoving match” to refer to something light-hearted, well that’s not the same as beating your wife at all.

(I will pause her and note that saying Walsh is a misogynist does not mean he doesn’t love his wife. Just as some antifeminist women insist every woman who’s not them should stay home and pop out babies, misogynist men can love their wives, daughters and mothers and think about them differently from the rest of womankind).

When the National Guard and other responders were out rescuing people during 2017’s Hurricane Harvey, Walsh tweeted out photos of the men saying that this is what women want, and what they should want: “Woman cradles and protects child. Man carries and protects both. This is how it ought to be, despite what your gender studies professor says.” Of course in the real world, some women are soldiers, National Guard members and first responders, but Walsh would rather ignore that in favor of believing only men can be heroes. And that all women want big, strapping men to protect them, which is bullshit too; if that’s what TYG wanted, I’d still be single. So would Walsh because he doesn’t look any more the macho man of action than I do.

Walsh endorses the Pence Rule because he believes there’s no reason men and women should ever hang out: “What’s the appropriate reason for a married person to go out for a meal alone with a member of the other sex (outside of family)?” I don’t know, because they like each other platonically? Because they need to talk about work? Because they’re mutual fans of luchador films or Surrealist art and their spouses aren’t? And if it’s work-related, there are all kinds of reasons men and women might need to talk. I agree with Sheryl Sandburg, if the boss doesn’t want to meet privately with women, they shouldn’t meet privately with anyone. Otherwise it’s a serious handicap for women in their careers (I suspect Walsh sees that as a feature, not a bug).

Walsh is not quite as horrible as Warren Farrell, but he’s bad enough.

 

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The rules of the moderator are arbitrary, capricious and final

That’s how a friend of mine sums up his moderating in trivia quizzes he runs for Mensa. If you want to know my policies for moderating comments, that sounds about right. I don’t have a set of rules — I’ve never really needed one as I get few comments — but I have no qualms about blocking if I think someone’s out of bounds.

Which is relevant because I blocked what I suspect was my first troll — particularly as after I blocked him, he found me on Twitter to continue haranguing me (I blocked him there too) What set him off was my post on Warren Farrell. As you can see in the comments, he corrected (and no, I don’t consider corrections to be trolling) my statement Warren Farrell said 90 percent of rape cases were fake. What he actually said was that anywhere from zero to 100 percent of rape accusations could be lies (I’ve ordered a used copy of one of Farrell’s books to confirm this is accurate). I corrected the post accordingly because saying 100 percent of rape accusations might be lies is just as damning.

Guess what, that didn’t suit the commenter either. He objected that Farrel is totally not saying all rape cases could be false. The guy simply means that we have no accurate data, absolutely none, on the rate of false accusations so we can’t say for certain. Which is a lie, because we do have data, though as it sets the rate low, Farrell may not believe it. And sorry commenter, saying we can’t be sure any rape accusations are true is saying that 100 percent could be false. Which is also a lie because we know that for a fact. We have confessions. We have videotapes. We have DNA evidence. We have convictions. It’s true innocent people are convicted of crimes they don’t commit, and that people have been coerced into false confessions, but that’s true of murder, assault and other crimes too. There’s no reason to assume it’s an issue with rape and no other crime, unless you object to rapists being punished.

Keep in mind Farrel’s not even talking about false convictions or imprisonment, only about accusations. It’s as if being falsely accused of rape is, in itself, a bigger problem than, say, being on death row when you’re innocent or being shot by a cop when you’re innocent (his website says the real issue with so many black men in prison isn’t racism but too many single-parent households). As I’ve written before, some people who shrug off most injustices in the legal system think false rape accusations are uniquely, horribly awful. Pundit Ron Hart, for instance, has written that worrying about putting innocent people to death is a “liberal knee-jerk reaction” but accusing an innocent man of rape is intolerable (he also lies about the details of Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation).

My commenter also objected that when Farrell says that no means yes, he doesn’t mean all no’s are yeses. But I didn’t claim that he did, only that he has said if a woman’s French kissing while saying no to sex, maybe she doesn’t want you to respect her no. That’s horrifying enough. So is Farrell’s view that a woman who says no to a coworker wants him to keep harassing her. That Farrell doesn’t specifically say every single woman who says no means yes doesn’t mitigate his words.

I’ve argued with rape apologist trolls before on FB, and I have very little patience with them. Whatever I say, they deny or twist. And I either have to respond or leave someone’s excuses for rapists sitting unchallenged on my wall. So now I block rape apologists there (I’ve extended this to anti-Semites too). Same in this case. I’m quite sure we’d still be posting back and forth and he’d still be insisting I was besmearing the name of a good man.

I may have to develop a formal policy some day. But for now, I’m good with it.

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