Tag Archives: Federalist

Undead Sexist Cliche: Patriarchy knows what women want

Since second-wave feminism launched back in the 1960s, sexists and misogynists have insisted that they don’t oppose feminism because they’re sexist or misogynist, gosh no. They fight it because it can’t give women what they truly want — marriage and life as a stay-at-home mom. Because that’s what all women want, right? And if they don’t, well, they’re not real women.

The difference between sexists and misogynists — I agree it’s slight — is that sexists sincerely believe that women want it that way. Misogynists don’t really care: if you don’t want life as a Handmaid, they’ll force it on you anyway. For example neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin gives lip service to knowing best — “What gives women happiness is marriage and being submissive to a man” but he goes on to add that “obviously, they don’t do that voluntarily. You’re not going to have a woman voluntarily submit to you; you have to force her. That’s the reality.” No, that’s being a shitty, vicious human being — but Anglin’s a neo-Nazi so we know he is.

Similarly, LGM flags two articles claiming that women going back to the home would be best for them and for America: one, from American Conservative, worries about women (I’m fairly sure it means white women) not breeding enough; another, from The Federalist, approves Trump saying he’ll pass laws to ensure schools are “celebrating the nuclear family, the positive roles of mothers and fathers, and the differences between men and women.” While the focus is trans issues, it’s The Federalist, which defends Roy Moore hitting on teenage girls and denying abortions for ectopic pregnancies) so I imagine they interpret that in the most patriarchal light.

Like I said, this is a familiar vein. Anti-feminists have been complaining for years that women really want to be 1950s style stay-at-home moms, it’s just the feminists blinded the silly sheeple with their Jedi mind tricks. And women totally should not go to college because they’ll end up becoming unfit for marriage. And dammit, women need men in their lives to dominate and boss them around.

Of course, lots of women who lived through those 1950s patriarchal marriages walked out or renegotiated the rules as soon as they had the opportunity; Schlafly, a professional activist and attorney, did so herself. So does her niece Suzanne Venker, an enthusiast for women who aren’t her staying home and letting men be the boss.

There’s nothing wrong with a woman who chooses to stay home with the kids. Ideally she’s doing it because she enjoys that as a life path, not because the mass of sexism in her workplace makes it the easier choice. But even so, it is a legitimate choice. Telling all women they’ll be happier is condescending at best, like pretending women have the real power in society. At worst it’s just a lie, an excuse to fit women into someone’s preferred vision of society without considering what they want.

What they want matters. Women are not means to an end, any more than men. Anyone who makes them a means is on the wrong side.

Undead Sexist Cliches is available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. Cover by Kemp Ward, all rights remain with current holders.

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Forced birthers: if you can get pregnant, God demands you do so!

In May, two men writing for the popular evangelical website The Stream warned that “maternal sovereignty”—the “right to refuse motherhood”—is so dangerous and “deadly” a notion that “rational women” who abort “for calculated reasons” should be placed in “short but mandatory psychiatric custody.‘” As Charlotte Shane writes at the link, these dudes aren’t outliers in the forced-birth movement: at its heart, it’s built around the belief that women have no right not to be pregnant. Nor any rights, period, compared to the fetus — women, as I’ve mentioned before, are aquariums.

The Federalist has printed multiple articles discussing how women refusing to get pregnant are making a terrible mistake. Matt Walsh thinks the very idea of contraception treats pregnancy as a health issue rather than celebrating the power of women to give birth (never mind that it does, indeed, come with lots of health issues). Despite lies about how the Dobbs decision doesn’t threaten birth control access, they are coming for our contraception (gay marriage too). Why wouldn’t they, when they hate the idea of women having premarital sex without consequences.

In other misogynist news:

“If, in a given day, twenty such fetuses are flushed into the Town’s wastewater treatment systems, it would be the equivalent of a shredded forearm or foot being passed through the system” — a bullshit claim one pro-choice group used against a proposed new Planned Parenthood clinic.

For years Texas pushed a disastrously ineffective abstinence-only education program on students. I’m pleased they’re finally discussing contraceptives in class too.

State Rep. Neal Collins said he was horrified to learn how the state’s abortion restrictions affected women. Faced with a worse bill, however — no rape or incest exemption — he didn’t vote against it, he simply abstained. Way to go!

The University of Idaho says if any of its staff or teachers do or say anything that might be construed as promoting abortion, they face possible jail time and a bar from state employment.

Forced birthers have claimed for years that they oppose punishing women who get abortions. This has always been a lie. I doubt we’ll hear the movement object to Pen. gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano supporting murder charges against women who get abortions.

The FBI recently took anti-abortion activist Mark Houck into custody for injuring a 74-year-old abortion-clinic escort. Franklin Graham, who was fine with Brett Kavanaugh committing assault claims the FBI sent a SWAT team to arrest Houck, which the FBI denies.

While Graham is a lying, immoral snake, it’s possible the SWAT team accounts are right — using SWAT teams when there’s little justification is a common thing. But Graham painting Houck as a godly man who should never have been arrested at all is nonsense, just another iteration of the right-wing belief (as expressed by some of the 1/6 coup group) that police are supposed to arrest other people, not them! I doubt a SWAT team dealing with a liberal activist or any of the unmarked police vans snatching people off the Portland streets a few years ago would upset Graham at all.

The Republican war on women getting non-abortion medical treatment continues apace.

In more general misogynist news

I wrote a lot about the incels in Undead Sexist Cliches. They haven’t gotten any less misogynistic.




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The Tennessee child-marriage bill

You may have heard that a new bill the Tennessee legislature is considering would eliminate the minimum age of marriage now in the state statutes. Up until 2018, the minimum age could be waived by a judge if the guardians approved; in 2000, there were over 1,000 Tennesseean girls 16 and 17 who got married, in one case to a 26-year-0ld. (the numbers are a lot lower in recent years). The 2018 bill set an absolute floor of 17, and the partner couldn’t be more than four years older.

Tennessee is not unique. Way underage marriage happens much more than you might think. It’s a way to control girls’ sexuality, and to keep them under a man’s control, a father-to-husband pipeline that gives them no chance to experience independence. For many religious conservatives, being exposed to the wider world without male control is a bad thing. A lot of conservatives are cool with statutory rape victims marrying their rapist.

In a detailed analysis, Snopes points out the bill was not primarily written to allow child marriage. The primary purpose of the original bill was to eliminate marriage licenses in favor of private contracts registered with the state; contracts which could only be between a heterosexual couple. So an end run around gay marriage, though I can’t see it as a viable alternative when the lawsuits hit (then again, with the current Supreme Court …). The revised bill now inconsideration simply sets up the common-law contract marriage as an option; I assume they’ll try killing licenses down the road.

The new system inherits a lot of restrictions applied to marriage licenses, such as not getting married if you’re already hitched, not marrying your sibling, etc. … but it omits any age limit. Snopes accepts the bills’ sponsors’ statements this was just an error. Given that having a set age limit is such a recent innovation there, I’m skeptical.

While it’s easy to focus on the hypocrisy when Republicans are pretending to be so very, very concerned about protecting kids from “groomers,” this would be a bad bill even if they weren’t hypocrites. And even if their prime directive were protecting kids, Don’t Say Gay — which is spreading from Florida to other states and then more — would be bad. And at least one of the stories DeSantis tells to justify it — a school district decided on its own initiative to classify a girl as a trans boy and treat them accordingly — is a lie. They’re treating anything that acknowledges kids can be gay as grooming.

But they think it’s a political winner so we have hacks like Mollie Hemingway the Federalist declaring that Mitt Romney voting for Justice Jackson to join SCOTUS makes him pro-pedophile. And the general freakout over Disney. And even if it fails, they’ll keep at it, because culture war is all they’re competent at.


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The Federalist: older men marrying teenagers is sound family planning!

I wouldn’t say the online magazine The Federalist is the worst right-wing website out there — the competition is stiff, after all — but they are an abominable mess of misogyny and stupidity (which is why none of the links are direct, though you can get to the magazine if you click through). It’s kind of black-humored funny that the magazine declared trans rights as a war on women when they’re so committed to waging one themselves.

They published an article by Georgi Boorman suggesting abortion isn’t necessary in cases of ectopic pregnancy, which is wrong. Boorman admitted as much later but seriously, that’s a very basic fact on the subject. She should never have made the mistake in the first place, no matter how devoted to the forced-birth cause she is.

Of course Amy Otto topped her with an article about that familiar undead sexist cliche, single women having sex destroys the world. It includes the phrase ““[Women] held a majority of the cards in sexual relationships and, facing a royal flush, decided to fold.” Um, nobody can beat a royal flush so folding is the only option. And contrary to Otto, women have never held all the cards in sex (click at the link for my critique).

We have Nicole Russell’s piece from 2015 gushing about how manly Paul Ryan looks with his beard, and how women need manly men to take charge of them more than they need independence. “Men who fail to embrace their masculinity are as bad as chauvinists who wield it like a weapon” No, they’re not.

The magazine’s senior editor, Mollie Hemingway, claims that women’s enthusiasm for 50 Shades of Grey proves feminism has failed and women secretly crave for men to dominate them (are we seeing a theme here?). Maybe they’d “prefer to be in a loving committed relationship with a dude than get successively better office jobs on the way to the corner office.” Strange how this hasn’t discouraged Hemingway from working her way up to the editorial suite.

From earlier this year, we have their accusation Jane Austen is getting cancelled! You will be shocked this is also a lie. More recently, we have one of their editors, Joy Pullman, writing that getting vaccinated against COVID is pagan — Christians should do without and trust God to protect them (as Pullman’s not advocating we give up all vaccines, safety belts and fire alarms, I presume she’s completely insincere and churning out propaganda for the cause).

Then there’s DC McAlister’s argument that women should make love to their husbands even when they don’t want to (which Jesus and John Wayne showed me is a common belief in the religious right — your husband’s reward for supporting you is sex whenever he wants it!).

But what got this article going was going down one of those Internet rabbit-holes and discovering a 2017 Federalist post by Baptist university professor Tully Borland, arguing that Roy Moore’s habit of (allegedly) sexually harassing teens when he was in his forties doesn’t make him a bad person (for the record, it’s far from the only problem I have with Moore). After all, if you want a large family, you need to start when the girl’s young, right? And to afford a large family, the man needs money which usually means being wealthy, right? Besides, everyone thought it was normal back then, why are we applying modern standards to the past!

No, we aren’t. As someone who was alive back in the late 1970s, I would have thought this was creepy as shit. Particularly if Roy was actively harassing the girls as they claim. I don’t think I’m alone — hell, Borland says he’d have assaulted Moore if it was his daughter (apparently other men’s daughters are fair game).

This piece actually generated some criticism outside left-wing blogs (I doubt many other people are aware of the Federalist outside the right-wing/forced birth/misogynist base) so co-founder Ben Domenech responded with a ton of cliches: isn’t it important to understand why people support Moore despite the charges? Sure, he personally thinks Moore’s a perv and didn’t agree with the article but “we publish the things we think make valuable contributions to the public debate, and represent the views of voters.”

First off, Borland wasn’t doing the equivalent of a “Trump safari,” telling us what Alabama voters think. He’s arguing that they should be voting for Moore. It’s a call for support not a deep dive. Second, even if Domenech doesn’t support Moore (it’s the Federalist. He could easily be lying) he obviously thinks “support the guy who sexual harasses teens” makes “valuable contributions to the public debate.” I don’t believe he’d say the same if I’d submitted a “why Christians should support Hilary Clinton” pitch back in 2016. I doubt he’ll ever run an article explaining why the majority of Americans favor the right to abortion unless the explanation is … Satan!

Third, according to the NYT link in the first paragraph of this post, one of the magazine’s major backers is Dick Uihlein who supported and donated to Roy Moore. So I’m not sure Domenech’s decision to run this piece was purely in the spirit of enlightening the public. But “we have to pay off the money men” doesn’t sound as cool as “free speech!”

Out of the crooked timber of The Federalist, no straight thing was ever made.


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Impeachment is triggering Republicans

Admittedly it doesn’t take much to low-life rich brat turned Trump toady Rep. Gaetz, who stormed into the hearing rooms with a flock of other Republicans on the grounds not discussing possibly classified diplomatic material in public is an eeevil plot (being open to scrutiny does not, of course, mean support for anyone in the Executive Branch answering questions). He’s like the Spartans in 300! Except, of course, that Gaetz and his fellows are, as New Republic points out, full of shit:

“Holding the hearings behind closed doors in a SCIF—a secure room designed for discussing classified information—makes sense when questioning diplomats about national-security matters. (It also makes it harder for witnesses to coordinate their testimony.) House Republicans aren’t being denied access to the sessions. So long as they sit on the relevant committees, they can and have participated in the inquiry. Nor is any of this novel. Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News legal analyst, noted on Thursday that Democrats were operating under rules established by former Speaker John Boehner in 2015. Under those same rules, House Republicans held multiple closed-door hearings to depose witnesses during the congressional Benghazi investigations.”

At the NR link, Matt Ford speculates this is Trump pushing legislators to show their love for him, which will have the added benefit that the senators condemning impeachment now will look worse voting for it later. Though for the Representatives who stormed the hearing, I doubt Trump has to push much: here’s their story.

The real issue, of course, is that for some reason this scandal seems to be sticking. Maybe because it’s relatively clear-cut: Congress approved money for the Ukraine, Trump held it up to pressure the Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s kid. So naturally they’re running around like cockroaches exposed to the light. And squealing about how impeachment violates the will of the people (which Republicans are trying to silence) Mollie Hemingway, the editor-in-chief of The Federalist (a woman who once complained women who aren’t her should stop trying to get the corner office and stay home to make babies) likewise freaks out that impeachment means government “exists to do the bidding of an unelected cabal of unelected, taxpayer-funded bureaucrats and smug partisans of the corporate media.” Well, the people spoke in 2016 and picked Clinton, but Hemingway’s A-OK with that.

Likewise pseudo-historian David Barton suddenly discovered there’s no grounds for impeaching Trump. Kevin D. Williamson has likewise changed his previous view that it’s good the Constitution is anti-democratic. And speaking of the Constitution, some right-wingers are showing their devotion to Constitutional norms by claiming an acquittal in the Senate should entitle Trump to run for a third term.

They’re scared, which is good. It won’t get Trump impeached, but it might hurt them in the fall. One reason they’re pushing to restrict voting even further (Gaetz literaly objects to counting every vote), and possibly looking at Tulsi Gabbard as a third-party spoiler (more on that here) Feeling scared they might lose is a piss-poor compensation for the pain they’ve inflicted on this country but I’ll take the partial win.

To end on a light note, my friend Jon Maki mocks the belief that Trump’s a macho badass.

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Pundits begging us to mock them

Remember Kevin Williamson? The right-wing twerp currently seething with outrage that Atlantic denied him a columnist slot just because he says women who get abortions should be executed? Ed Kilgore of New York asked Williamson what punishment he really believes appropriate. Williamson’s response? Duck the question because it’s an evil liberal trap!!! No, it’s a valid question, Williamson just doesn’t want to answer. Oh, he also whines that offered to air his views in an essay for New York, for free, but the liberal fascists said no, having  seen “as much on the subject of your views on this matter as we want to publish.”

That’s not a first world problem, that’s a first-world right-wing bullshit artist problem.

*I can’t comment on Jonah Goldberg’s new book, having not even read an excerpt but I have read David Brooks’ gushing column about what a game-changer it will be (given Goldberg’s body of work, I’m unconvinced). According to Brooks, Goldberg’s thesis is that 300 years ago, Europe adopted (and America embraced) the belief that “each person is to be judged and respected on account of their own merits, not the class or caste of their ancestors.” And this worldview, which gave us democracy, equality and capitalism, lasted until the left got into identity politics, the right reacted and now we’re sliding back into tribalism. As noted at the link and in comments, any book that argues America treated all races and genders equally until social justice warriors started demanding identity politics is bullshit.

Brooks adds Goldberg’s only mistake is missing that the real problem isn’t tribalism but Brooks’ personal bugaboo, too much individualism! Brooks has always been nostalgic for the days of traditional morality, when white, male Protestants imposed a social order on everyone else, individual choice be damned. As Echidne of the Snakes says, why doesn’t he just move to Saudi Arabia where that kind of top-down social order is still a thing? As a couple of people noted in comments, it’s very easy to believe that even a rigged system is meritocratic — just assume that by definition, white men are more meritorious.

Over at Harper’s, an editor says he was fired  for opposing a Katie Roiphe piece on the #metoo movement. As LGM says, a piece commissioned to be contrarian (everyone things fighting sexual harassment is good — let’s say it isn’t!) rather than a serious investigative piece was probably a bad idea in the first place. Particularly from Katie Roiphe.

And then we have The Federalist. California is considering a bill to ban gay-conversion therapy. Conservative fake news claims the state will ban the Bible, Snopes says no — so Snopes is fake fact-checking right! A Federalist pundit argues that while, no, obviously it’s not going to ban the Bible, but you can’t tell gays “Jesus can make you straight!” (this being The Federalist, I wouldn’t trust that to be accurate) and that’s exactly the same thing!

Oh, and for bonus annoyance, Charlie Rose, having lost his TV show due to charges of sexual harassment has proposed a new talk show where he’ll talk to powerful men accused of harassment. No way that could go wrong.

And for double bonus, annoyance, the very serious journalists horribly offended over Michelle Wolf’s routine at the White House Correspondents’ dinner.

To compensate for subjecting you to all that, here’s Mr. Squirrel trying to get into our bird feeder and failing.


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