Thursday, February 4, 2016

Of Brick Walls and Glass Ceilings

Melissa McEwan of Shakesville wasn’t always a Hillary Clinton supporter, but now she makes her case.

Not a perfect person. Not even a perfect candidate. I am not distressed by people who have legitimate criticisms of Hillary Clinton and some of the policies she has advocated; I share those criticisms.

What is distressing to me is that I see little evidence of that person in the public narratives about Hillary Clinton. Not everyone has the time nor the desire to deep-dive into documents the way that I have. If I hadn’t had a professional reason to do so, I may not have done it myself.

I may have—and did, before I was obliged otherwise—relied on what I learned about Hillary Clinton from the media.

Which, as it turns out, is deeply corrupted by pervasive misogyny.

The subtle misogyny of double-standards that mean she can’t win (even when she does), and the overt misogyny of turning her into a monster, a gross caricature of a ruthlessly ambitious villain who will stop at nothing in her voracious quest for ever more power.

This is a view held, and promulgated, by people who have a vested interest in stopping Hillary Clinton, or anyone who espouses even the most rudimentary progressive agenda. People who have long been watchers of and/or participants in the political process, who are old enough and sophisticated enough to know better.

It is also a view held by a startlingly large number of younger people, whose misperceptions are somewhat understandable, given that the ubiquitous campaign of misogyny-based dehumanization of Hillary Clinton has been around longer than they have been alive.

Many observations have been made about the fact that Bernie Sanders polls significantly better than Clinton among young people. (Specifically, young white people.) And I think there are a number of reasons for that, but chief among them is that, as my friend Kate noted, “Twenty-five-year-olds have literally never lived in a time where there weren’t whispers (or nationally televised shouts) about Hillary Clinton’s evil schemes.”

Young people, and people of any age who are newer participants in the political process, are coming to politics at a time when literally decades of demonstrably unfounded smears against Hillary Clinton—or “The Clintons”—have become cemented as historical fact.

I am old enough, and have been an engaged political nerd long enough, to remember Rush Limbaugh’s 1990’s TV show, back when he was busily coining misogynist slurs like “feminazi.” And now I see left-leaning Clinton opponents using those phrases, and invoking the unsubstantiable lore about her aggressive dishonesty and villainy invented by Limbaugh and his cohorts, as though they are something other than the fever dreams of intractably misogynist dirtbags with a nefarious agenda.


It has taken me years to find the real Hillary Clinton behind a brick wall of impenetrable misogyny.

And this is the reality with which we all need to reckon: A brick wall is infinitely more difficult to shatter than a glass ceiling.

I have said this before and I daresay I will be obliged to say it again: I have not been a reflexive defender (or supporter) of Hillary Clinton the politician. I have made criticisms of her campaigning and her policy. I expect to continue to make them, because I have significant points of disagreement with some of her positions and because she makes mistakes.

I have, however, I will openly admit, become a reflexive defender (and supporter) of Hillary Clinton the person. Certainly, it is partly out of self-interest, because I am myself demeaned and caricatured by misogyny, and because I want to see more female representation in politics and don’t want enormous hurdles standing in their way.

But mostly it is because it profoundly grieves me to see the way she is treated.

It hurts my heart—and it angers me—to have uncovered a person who cares, if imperfectly, so deeply about other people and observe the many ways in which she has been turned into a monster. It is intolerable.

And I flatly refuse to abide the rank dehumanization of Hillary Clinton in silence.

This is not the first time that a candidate who would otherwise be seen as a reasonable, normal human being turned into a caricature or a demon because of some irrelevant feature; say the color of his skin, perhaps.  What’s even worse is when it happens at the hands of those who would normally be allies.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Short Takes

Veto Bait — Senate passes repeal of Obamacare and defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Pentagon opens all combat roles to women.

Massey Energy executive gets convicted on minor charges.

Putin accuses Turkish leaders of being on the take from ISIS oil sales.

Oy: Republican candidates pander to Jewish supporters.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What Is It With Jeb! and Women?

Via Politico:

Jeb Bush attacked Planned Parenthood on Tuesday, doubling down on his assertion that the organization should not receive any federal funding because it’s not actually tackling women’s health issues.

“I, for one, don’t think Planned Parenthood ought to get a penny though, and that’s the difference because they’re not actually doing women’s health issues,” the Republican presidential candidate said.

Yeah, because breast and cervical cancer screening and contraception have nothing whatsoever to do with women’s health issues.

Can you imagine what deep shit he’d be in if women voted?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

More GOP Outreach To The Womenfolk

Another fine example of how the Republican Party is striving to connect with women voters.

During an interview on Tuesday with religious conservatives, Mr. Bush suggested that the federal government has overfunded women’s health.

“I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues,” Mr. Bush said at a Southern Baptist Convention event in Nashville.

Amid a storm of Democratic mockery, Mr. Bush backtracked within a few hours, saying he had misspoken.

Oh, really?  Do tell.

Failing to provide or fund services such as cancer screening, contraception, or yes, even abortions touch the lives of women, obviously, but they also impact their families, their co-workers, and anyone who cares for a person’s health

But here’s a far better elucidation of the issue from someone far more eloquent than me.  Take it away, Sen. Warren.

I’d like to think that this kind of mindset from Mr. Bush, no matter how much back-tracking he does, will crater his campaign, but knowing the GOP and their base of misogynists, especially when it comes to reproductive rights, he’ll probably see a bump up in the polls.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The New $10 Bill

The Treasury announced that it will redesign the $10 bill by 2020 and it will have a portrait of a woman on it.

The next generation of currency will revolve around the theme of democracy. The first note, the new $10, will feature a notable woman. In keeping with that theme, it’s important that you make your voice heard. Use #TheNew10 to tell us your ideas, symbols, designs or any other feedback that can inform the Secretary as he considers options for the $10 redesign.

Who would you put?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

For the Ladies

The GOP outreach to the women voters of America continues with a double-barreled shot across their bow.

First it’s that fountain of punchlines, Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) who turns the gun on his fellow “Republican females” whose objection to draconian abortion laws disappointed him.

“Most of the conference was 100 percent in favor of the bill that was going to be brought to the floor. Some of us were wishing that there would not be any exceptions because it was going to be 20 weeks — no abortions after 20 weeks — when the evidence is clear those babies feel,” Gohmert said on a conference call that included pastor E.W. Jackson, according to a recording published by Raw Story.

Gohmert then said that Republican women split the caucus by opposing the language on the rape exception. He said that opposition to the bill should have been voiced before the legislation made it to the House floor.

“I’m told that they’re still going to bring it back, but because there was such division among our Republican females, they pulled the bill that day,” he said. “And that was extremely unfortunate, and it sent the entirely wrong message.”

The wrong message is, apparently, that women have the right to control their own bodies.

And then there’s the paragon of virtue and clean living Mike Huckabee, who is shocked, shocked, I tell you, to hear women use language that is better suited to a Ted Nugent concert.

Huckabee was discussing his trouble adapting to the “hotbed of the New York culture” on Friday during an interview on the Des Moines-based “Mickelson in the Morning” show.

Until January, Huckabee had commuted to Manhattan to host a weekly Fox News talk show, and he said that working in New York City was like visiting “a different planet.”

“In the South, in the Midwest, here in Iowa, you would not have people who would just throw the f-bomb and use gratuitous profanity in a professional setting,” Huckabee said. “In New York, not only do the men do it, but the women do it!”

“This would be considered totally inappropriate to say these things in front of a woman,” he added. “And for a woman to say them in a professional setting — we would only assume that this is a very — as we would say in the South, that’s just trashy!”

Here’s a video of Mr. Huckabee’s reaction:

Aunt Pittypat 01-20-15

I can think of any number of women who might have some “trashy” things to say to Gov. Huckabee, but I’m afraid that his delicate nature — not to mention certain parts of his anatomy — couldn’t handle it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Their Level Isn’t The Problem

The Republican outreach to women continues, this time lead by women:

A group of conservative women, mostly members of the Republican Study Committee, met Friday to discuss issues facing women today and how the GOP can better explain how its policies could help.

“The problem here is not necessarily conservative policy, it’s our messaging,” Kim Strassel, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal who was moderating the panel said.

And the panelists agreed.

“We just don’t do a very good job of talking about [GOP policies] sometimes,” said Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota.

“We have got to do a better job of [telling stories], whether it’s talking about social issues or whether it’s talking about the financial issues and the jobs and the economy,” said Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee.

“It’s how we are able to articulate ourselves – make sure we get the point across that we care,” said Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina.


As for connecting to women specifically, Ellmers drove it home with a line that, had there been liberals in the audience, would have made the news.

“We need our male colleagues to understand that if you can bring it down to a woman’s level and what everything that she is balancing in her life — that’s the way to go,” Ellmers said. (Emphasis added.)

Um… if you think you’re not doing a good job of connecting with women, maybe it’s because being patronizing and reinforcing 19th century misogynistic stereotypes by women themselves isn’t helping.

HT to Melissa.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Dear Mr. Will

An OB/GYN who is also a rape survivor replies to George F. Will’s rancid column on the “coveted status” of being sexually assaulted.

There is no woman who I have ever met personally or as an OB/GYN who thinks that surviving a rape confers some sort of privilege. I am genuinely curious if you interviewed a few young women hoping to earn their college rape badge or is that just a conclusion you reached looking at the issue of sexual assault through the myopic lens of misogyny?

Come spend a day in my clinic Mr. Will. Come see how the scars of rape linger even decades later.

There is no survivor privilege, just survivors.

Wrap your bow tie around that one, George.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Keep It Up

First Rand Paul, now Joe Scarborough.

“If Hillary Clinton attacks the Republican Party’s handling of women, and treatment of women and disrespect for women, and suggests they’re misogynists et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, it does seem to be a fair question to ask right now, a few years out, does the media have a responsibility to say, ‘Well, let’s see what happened when you were in the White House, and how women were treated when you were in the governor’s mansion and the White House?’ Is that fair?” the ‘Morning Joe’ host asked Monday morning, as quoted by Mediaite.

The more Republican men talk about women and the more they try to pin the behavior of the husband on the wife, the closer they get to the event horizon of the black hole of political oblivion.

So just keep talking, Republicans.

Monday, January 27, 2014

News Flash: President Clinton Cheated on Wife

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has some breaking news.

The Democrats, one of their big issues they have concocted says the Republicans are committing a war on women. One of the workplace laws and rules that I think are good is that bosses shouldn’t prey on young interns in their office. And I think really the media seems to be — have given President Clinton a pass on this.

He took advantage of a girl that was 20 years old and an intern in his office. There is no excuse for that. And that is predatory behavior, and it should, it should be something, we shouldn’t want to associate with people who would take advantage of a young girl in his office.  This isn’t having an affair. I mean, this isn’t me saying, “Oh, he’s had an affair, we shouldn’t talk to him.” Someone who takes advantage of a young girl in their office, I mean, really, and then they have the gall to stand up and say Republicans are having a war on women? So yes, I think it’s a factor.

Wait a minute; Bill Clinton cheated on his wife with an intern?  How come we’re just hearing about this now?  Why didn’t the Republicans do something about it at the time?

Seriously, if the Republicans think they can win the war for women by attacking Hillary Clinton for her husband’s behavior, let them go forth and see how that works.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sex Fiends

What is it with Republicans and sex?  Yesterday we got an earful from former Gov. Mike Huckabee on how the Democrats keep women in the party by paying for their contraception because of their roaring libidos — project much, Mr. Huckabee?  Then there’s genius Rep. Louis Gohmert claiming that the government “lures” single women into “servitude” with all the goodies you get from being on welfare, and we all know what he means by “servitude” — wink, wink, nudge nudge.

Of course the moment you mention anything about gay rights or marriage equality, you get a whole bunch of wingers carrying on about gay sex and what those icky people what to in the privacy of their own homes.

It is as if there is no other issue facing single women other than where to get free birth control pills or there’s nothing going on in a gay couple’s life but a big orgy.  How about pay equity?  How about equal access to health coverage?  How about not treating women solely as vessels for childbearing without any control over their own bodies?  How about equal rights for married couples based on their commitment and legal obligations?  How about the hundreds of other issues that straight white males like Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Gohmert take for granted that are routinely curtailed or just denied to women or the LGBT community and it has nothing whatsoever to do with their genitalia or what they do with them?

Grow up, people.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

No Submissions Please

One more shining example of GOP outreach: Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) has a book out that tells wives to submit to their husbands.

“The wife is to voluntarily submit, just as the husband is to lovingly lead and sacrifice,” he writes, citing the Bible. “The husband’s part is to show up during the times of deep stress, take the leadership role and be accountable for the outcome, blaming no one else.”

Pearce, who is Baptist, emphasizes repeatedly in the chapter that submission doesn’t mean inferiority but rather that husbands and wives play different roles. He also says it doesn’t mean his wife doesn’t have a say in major decisions.

“The wife’s submission is not a matter of superior versus inferior; rather, it is self-imposed as a matter of obedience to the Lord and of love for her husband,” he writes.

And they wonder why they’re not getting women — and the men who reject this medieval view of matrimony — to vote for them.

This is also one of the reasons the GOP is anti-abortion.  To many of them it goes without saying that women should not have control over their own bodies or be allowed to make decisions about their reproductive health.  They’re not supposed to; the bible says so.

I don’t know Mr. Pearce, and I don’t know his wife, and it’s not my place to comment on his marriage.  Every marriage is different and defined by the people in it and the bond they share, and unless it’s clearly abusive and non-consensual, it’s nobody else’s business as to what goes on in it.  Funny — and by that I mean pathetic — how Mr. Pearce and many of his colleagues won’t grant other people that courtesy.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

More GOP Outreach

This time it’s Haley Barbour going for the women voters.

Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) shrugged off the latest accusations against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration (R) on Monday by saying they were being made by a “lady mayor.”

Barbour was responding to allegations from Hoboken, N.J. Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who accused Christie aides of threatening to withhold Hurricane Sandy relief aid from the city unless the mayor approved a real estate project favored by Christie.

Barbour, a mentor of Christie’s, was asked in an interview with CNN if the accusation hinted at the type of culture within the Christie administration.

“No, I’ll tell you what it gives me concern about, that the news media is willing to leap at any farfetched story with the basis in fact is unbelievable,” Barbour said in an interview with CNN on Monday. “This is a lady mayor who asked for $127 million of hazard mitigation money from the governor to give that to her from the federal money. When the state was only receiving in its entirety $300 million.”

And to show their appreciation for his support, Gov. Christie’s office posted the comments on YouTube.  That’s because the white privileged men really need to explain to everyone else why they should be in charge.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bully For You

One of the more interesting takes from the Chris Christie bridge story is that a number of his supporters actually like it — despite his assurances otherwise, including his press conference pronouncement “I am not a bully” — that Mr. Christie has a reputation as a bully.  They think that it’s a way to get things done, and they have a lot of examples in their corner to back it up: Rush Limbaugh comes to mind.  So does George W. Bush and his enabler/handler Dick Cheney.

To be an effective bully, it helps to have some backup, usually some bootlickers who either agree with them in spirit or who go along in order to avoid being the next target.  “Right, boss; we’ll show those pansy-ass libtards who’s in charge, right boss?”

One of the better examples of this lick-spittle enabling was seen this last weekend on Fox News Sunday where Britt Hume defended Mr. Christie for not only being a tough guy, but for standing up against the “feminization” of the news media.

During a panel discussion on the Fox News show Media Buzz, host Howard Kurtz asked if Christie’s “bully image” was hurting him after his administration was accused for closing part of the busiest bridge in the world to hurt his political opponents.

“I have to say that in this sort of feminized atmosphere in which we exist today, guys who are masculine and muscular like that in their private conduct and are kind of old-fashioned tough guys run some risks,” Hume opined.

“Feminized!” Fox News contributor Lauren Ashburn gasped.

“Atmosphere,” Hume nodded. “By which I mean that men today have learned the lesson the hard way that if you act like kind of an old-fashioned guy’s guy, you’re in constant danger of slipping out and saying something that’s going to get you in trouble and make you look like a sexist or make you look like you seem thuggish or whatever. That’s the atmosphere in which we operate.”

“This guy is very much an old-fashioned masculine, muscular guy,” he added. “And there are political risks associated with that. Maybe it shouldn’t be, but that’s how it is.”

I’m going to let the softball of whether or not Mr. Christie is “muscular” go by and focus more on the statement that calling out people for being bullies has somehow “feminized” the “atmosphere.”  It’s as if being a decent human being to other people and getting along with them without threatening to beat the shit out of them was some kind of assault on Mr. Christie’s — and by transference, Mr. Hume’s — manhood.  Or to put it more bluntly, being polite and accommodating is a threat to your penis.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out when Hillary Clinton takes the stage.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Girl Talk

The GOP outreach to women marches on.

As Republican candidates figure out how to best win over women voters, Iowa GOP Senate candidate Mark Jacobs thinks he has the answer: appeal to their emotions.

In an interview Sunday with WHO-TV in Des Moines, host Dave Price asked Jacobs what the “biggest difference between men and women” is, in terms of reaching out to them as voters.

“I think you have to connect with women on an emotional level,” said Jacobs. “And with a wife of 25 years and an 18-year-old daughter, I’ve had a lot of coaching on that.”

Yeah, forget all the stuff about pay equity or reproductive rights; they don’t understand all that kind of talk.  Oh, and be sure to catch them at the right time of the month, too.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

All Dolled Up

The GOP’s new meme is that it’s the Democrats who have declared war on women.

Five different Republican committees this morning released a joint memo pushing back on the “Democrats’ War on Women” messaging to highlight the sex scandals of a group of Democratic men and argue that Democrats are hypocrites who only care about women when it is politically convenient.

That message was efficiently stomped on yesterday by Erik Erikson:

Erick Erickson is the insecure frat-boy id of the Republican Party. Oh, sure, party leaders wring their hands about their problem with women voters, but deep down, we’re all “Abortion Barbie” to a whole lot of them. Only Erickson is creepy enough to say so.

In case you missed it: Erickson — last seen freaking out over women as breadwinners, and being schooled by Fox host Megyn Kelly — apparently had a panic attack today over Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, and decided to call her “Abortion Barbie.” That’s clever, and likely to do his party as much good with women as when Rush Limbaugh decided to call Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.”

But Erickson’s outburst comes in a week when Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus melted down over CNN and NBC plans for a Hillary Clinton miniseries, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell got so rattled by Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes that he disrespected her by attacking her dad, as though the girl in the race didn’t matter enough to engage directly.

Not that I would ever encourage any kind of misogynistic attack from anyone, but I can’t help but think that this sort of talk and action does nothing but help both the Democrats and women.  The more this kind of school-yard bullying goes on, the more people — men and women — will be repulsed by it and vote for someone who is not affiliated with a party that treats women as either sex objects or property to be governed by the menfolk who know better.

Add to that the dissing of the Latinos, the African-Americans, the LGBTQ’s, the poor, and the disabled, it makes you wonder who is left for the Republicans to alienate?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Reading

Two Judges — Andrew Cohen at The Atlantic profiles the two GOP-appointed judges whose rulings brought DOMA and Prop 8 to the doors of the Supreme Court.

I don’t know about you, but for me, the run-up to next week’s Supreme Court same-sex marriage arguments now has the feel of an endless Super Bowl pregame show. The analysis, the speculation, the sidebars, the color, the posturing, the winks and nods to insiders, the profiles — it just goes on and on, when all anyone really wants is for the arguments to occur, and to be done with, and for the justices to render their decisions the last week of June. That, and for Beyonce to sing the anthem when the justices enter the chamber Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Supporters of same-sex marriage have virtually all the legal, political and cultural momentum going into the arguments over California’s Proposition 8 (Tuesday) and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (Wednesday). Justice Anthony Kennedy, who will almost certainly determine the outcome of both cases, therefore has plenty of cover to do what many suspect he wants to do, which is to protect same-sex couples in whole or in part from the discrimination inherent in both the state initiative and the federal statute. It would be very surprising if he did not so rule.

So on the eve of the start of what promises to be a dramatic week in the history of the Court, and also in the history of the gay rights movement in America, and because I cannot think of anything else to mention that someone smarter than me hasn’t already covered, I just want to remind everyone waiting for the sanctification to begin that it was two Republican-appointed federal trial judges, at opposite ends of the country, who got all of this rolling three years ago with rulings that vitiated both the legal and factual rationales behind these dubious measures.

Judge Joseph Tauro

On the East Coast, it was U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro, the Nixon appointee, the revered son of a revered Massachusetts Supreme Court justice, who declared in July 2010 that “no fairly conceivable set of facts” could justify the classification of marriage contained in Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. If this section of the statute really is doomed, it was this ruling, from a judge who now has served 41 years on the bench, that marked the beginning of the end of the heart of the law.


Judge Vaughn Walker

On the West Coast, it was the now-retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, an appointee of George H.W. Bush, who first struck down Proposition 8 — and also exposed the paucity of the arguments once made on its behalf. At one point during the Proposition 8 trial, without a trace of irony, Judge Walker asked Charles Cooper, the lead attorney opposed to same-sex marriage: “Seven million Californians, 70 judges, and this long history that you described. Why did you present but one witness on the subject?” Cooper had no good answer. He still doesn’t.


Although both men have played an enormous role in shaping the legal and political history of these two cases, and thus the history of same-sex marriage itself, it is unlikely that the work of either will be identified (much less discussed) during oral arguments next week. Unfortunately, there is only one former trial judge on the current Court — Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who presided in New York. The rest of the justices rarely express interest in the trial record, especially where, as here, the core questions are ones of constitutional law.

But before we all move on to whatever comes next for same-sex marriage in America, we ought to pause to remember what has come before. Two Republican judges, two senior-status members of the federal judiciary, directly confronted one of the most divisive social issues of our time. They issued clear and direct rulings that swept away one myth after another about same-sex marriage and the legislative and societal rationales against it. And, in doing so, they gave constitutional cover to the executive branch to alter its course.

The Supreme Court may disagree with the assessments of Judge Tauro and Judge Walker — at least three justices in Washington almost certainly will — but that won’t change what we already have seen with our own eyes. Judge Tauro explained why the DOMA is indefensible. Judge Walker explained why Proposition 8 is unjust and unequal. Each in his own way did, in other words, precisely what we hope and expect our life-tenured federal judges to do when the whims and caprices of the majority are turned loose upon a distinct and vulnerable minority.

Final Judgment — George Packer of The New Yorker on Iraq.

The week of the invasion, I was in Ivory Coast, on assignment for this magazine to report on a civil war. In fact, I was travelling through rebel-held territory near the Liberian border with Mike Kamber, whom I had just met, and with whom I spent many hours driving over dirt roads through hair-raising checkpoints guarded by drunk or stoned or just zoned-out teen-agers with Kalashnikovs. But we kept discussing the other war, the one that the rest of the world was waiting for. I think we both were anxious to finish up our reporting in West Africa and head to the Middle East. An overwhelming tide of history was about to wash over Iraq.

The decade between that fateful week and the present moment has telescoped, compressed down to a single, terrible judgment: the war was a disaster for Iraq and the U.S. alike. It was conceived in deceit and born in hubris, a historic folly that took the American eye off Al Qaeda and the Taliban, while shattering Iraq into a million bloody pieces. When the last American troops departed a little over a year ago, there was no sense on this side of triumph or satisfaction–nothing but sadness and relief. Iraq, meanwhile, remains a dramatically violent country. Its politics are oriented toward Iran and the broader Shiite side of a looming regional war. After two trillion dollars, thousands of American lives, and over a hundred thousand Iraqi lives, there is so little U.S. influence that we can’t get the government of Iraq to interdict Iranian weapons shipped across its territory to arm the soldiers of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Iraq has rejected the organ transplant and gone its own way. I imagine that there are far fewer American traces left in Baghdad than there were in Saigon after 1975.

No Safe Spaces — Mary Elizabeth Williams in Salon on how women aren’t safe in social media.

The wheels of justice turn slowly – unless you’re talking about the court of social media. There, the past few days have been an object lesson in instant payback – mostly aimed at females who’ve had the audacity to speak up.

The week started with the arrests of two Steubenville girls after the guilty verdicts in the rape case against two local teenage football players. As the Cleveland Plain Dealer explained, “The 16-year-old is charged with one misdemeanor count of aggravated menacing for threatening the life of the victim on Twitter. The 15-year-old is charged with one misdemeanor count of menacing for threatening bodily harm to the victim on Facebook.” The threats against the victim were merely the latest ugly attacks in a case that was, from its beginning, about the devastating power of online community’s hostility toward girls and women.

Then, in a remarkably familiar-feeling case in Connecticut, a 13-year-old girl who’d accused two local football players of sexual assault found herself the target of online harassment. Writing in the Register Citizen, Jessica Glenza chronicled the outpouring of anger toward the young “whore” whose “snitching” was “ruining the lives” of the boys involved. As one observer mused on Twitter, “I wanna know why there’s no punishment for young hoes.”

And then, for the grand finale capping off the week, there was the crapstorm unleashed after Adria Richards tweeted a photograph of the men she claimed were making explicit and offensive comments during a recent conference. The tweet set off an explosive chain of overreaction, one that led to the firing of a PlayHaven developer and then, inevitably, an outpouring of wrath aimed at Richards.


At its best, social media illuminates aggression and injustice – Steubenville surely would have played out very differently were it not for the loathsome virtual trail the participants left in their wake. But the mob mentality of “punish the bitch,” a pattern that shows up again and again and again with sickening predictability, is real and it’s got to change. This week, the bullies, feeling offended about rape and sexism, went on the attack. And the bullies won.

Doonesbury — What sells.

Friday, March 8, 2013