Politics

The Problem With Perfectionist Conservatism, Part I of II

Kayla Sue wrote a post a couple months ago talking about “a disturbing movement within the [pro-life] movement that is strongly anti-contraception.”  What she doesn’t get into is how much deeper it goes and why it exists in the first place – there’s a lot going on in the background and below the surface that most visibly manifests this way, and I think it’s worth taking the time to understand where it’s all coming from.

My background, in a nutshell – I was raised a conservative Catholic, I’m still Catholic, and I had a few very messy years in early adulthood.  So I’m fairly familiar with conservative thought and Catholic apologetics, but I’ve had the experience of challenging a lot of my assumptions, sifting through to see what’s bullshit and what holds up.  I’ve worked on seeing what works for me, what works for other people, what doesn’t seem to work for anyone, and occasionally what seems to work for most people.

Now, once you’ve established what’s true and good and beautiful at an individual level, you still have to decide what works for public policy.  And while you have to keep in mind that the way you see the world is not the only way to see the world, I agree with Archbishop Chaput that “A healthy democracy depends on people of conviction working hard to advance their ideas in the public square – respectfully and peacefully, but vigorously and without apologies.”  Unfortunately, this means that for many issues there is realistically no such thing as “live and let live.”

Meet the Perfectionist Conservative

When I say “perfectionist conservative” I am referring to the conservative that is shooting for the moon, social policy-wise.  They want no same-sex marriage, no divorce, no birth control, no abortions, no sex outside of marriage, no single parents and NOTHING LESS IS ACCEPTABLE.  They are unable to prioritize; they want it all at once.  In no way does this represent all conservatives, but as Kayla Sue noted, there’s a bunch out there.  So let me take you inside the mind of a perfectionist conservative, beginning with some baseline concepts:

Human nature – Human nature is corrupt.  Without external constraints, humans will descend into ugliness.  But we need people to behave to minimize the negative impact on innocents such as children.  To get people to behave, we need to make the consequences of bad behavior unpleasant so people will not do those things.  We also need to make unfortunate circumstances unpleasant so people will be sufficiently motivated to do something about it.  Everything is seen through this punitive lens.

Feeding into this, I think, is the way many perfectionist conservatives were raised as children.  Many will wax poetic about how their parents were successful at controlling their behavior with the constant threat of a spanking.  For their own good, of course.  So all they can conceive of for social policy is an environment of punitive control that should be put into place for everyone else’s good, too.

Theology of the Body – Shorthand for the grand unified theory of how our bodies relate to our souls, and based on that, how we should treat our bodies.  Based on a series of talks by St. JPII.  Note: It’s actually on my reading / blogging list because I keep getting referred back to this body of work in my struggles to understand and accept Catholic teaching on sex and birth control.  Widely assumed that if everyone everywhere followed the guidance of Theology of the Body, various social issues would go away.  Specifics include:

  • Sex – An acceptable activity only for married couples so that children have a safe place and stable household to grow up in. Leads to a lot of smug attitude from married conservatives, with an undercurrent of “nah nah ni boo boo” whenever they talk about how people shouldn’t be having sex if they’re not married.  Also leads to a lot of hostility in abstinent single men who are being eaten alive with jealousy that other people are having more fun than they are.  Anyone who has sex outside of marriage is a slave to lust and is party to an inherently abusive relationship, both with their own bodies and with the other person.  Even if you have sex with your fiancée a half-hour before your wedding.  Purity culture addendum: Men have sex because they “need” it; women have sex because they are trying to trick men into loving them.  So women need to deny men the satisfaction of their “need” in order to wrest a commitment (i.e. marriage) out of them in order to satisfy their own need for love.  It’s just the way men and women are; no use denying biology.
  • Birth control – Enables people to have sex outside of marriage without the “consequences” of children. Also enables married couples to continue to selfishly use each other for lustful purposes without the consequences of children.  Note: All that being said, I have to think that the long-term effects of all of us dumping hormones into our bodies en masse cannot be benign.  It would be nice if we collectively could maybe not assume that turning our bloodstreams into artificially-created hormone rivers is necessary and normal.  It would also be nice if young women could go to the doctor for things unrelated to reproduction without being pressured into taking a prescription for birth control pills.

Marriage – the basis for the family, the building block of society.  We need to encourage strong marriage … by making it supremely unpleasant to be in anything other than a monogamous, heterosexual marriage.  And we need to make it difficult / impossible to divorce, because people only divorce for selfish reasons.  Also, if people do “need” a divorce because of abuse, they need to prove it in court.  Because abusers always leave a neat trail of evidence, and if they don’t then it’s not really abuse anyway.  Also, abuse victims should be able to clearly and logically piece together their stories in a sequential fashion, because trauma isn’t a thing.  If they can’t tell a clear, logical, sequential story in which they reacted to every stimulus like a “reasonable person,” it’s not because of the way trauma messes with your brain; it just means they are lying.  Marriage is also a ticket out of poverty, and we will prove it by trotting out statistics of how middle class and rich people behave and make the logical leap that poor people can become like middle class and rich people by behaving like them, but only in ways that we care about, such as marriage.  Note: No word on whether you can magically lift yourself out of poverty by buying a yacht and a vacation home in the Hamptons.

Family – the building block of society.  We need to encourage strong families … by making it supremely unpleasant to be in anything other than a nuclear family.

Self-denial – Life is not about what you want and it is childish to use “but I want it” as an argument for anything.  We need to be better than the animals and master self-denial and self-control.  Note: A fair point, but too often used as a crutch.  By itself carries no weight, even though it is often treated like it does.

Right to life – the foundation for every other human right.  Liberty, bodily autonomy, equal protection under the law – none of those have any meaning without the right to life as an inviolable foundation.  Touches a lot of specific issues, but for today we are only roping in:

  • Abortion – This is the only issue that is actually a matter of life and death.

Why the inability to prioritize?

You will notice that at the end of a very long section detailing the perfectionist conservative’s opinions on all the things that are wrong with society, there is one small sentence on abortion – the only issue that is actually a matter of life and death.  But that’s not good enough for the perfectionist conservative – they want it all.  At once.  Right now.

I mentioned earlier that one of the defining characteristics of the perfectionist conservative is the seeming inability to prioritize one issue over another, and I think I see two reasons for this:

  • Cultural blend – not so long ago, American culture and Christianity were very intertwined. They still are, but not to the extent they used to be.  Even so, this is why you see a lot of people falling back on Christian theology to explain their recommendations for social policy.  They are unable to separate what every Christian optimally ought to practice with what you can reasonably expect people from a variety of backgrounds to conform to.  So you ask the perfectionist conservative what his non-negotiables are for social policy and he says, “All of them.”
  • Perfect is the enemy of the good – the perfectionist conservative believes that ALL of their pet issues need to be addressed RIGHT NOW or any remaining permissiveness will once again rot society to the core. After all, with the very future of Western Civilization™ at stake, one simply cannot negotiate with terrorists. Note: I give them points for realizing that things are connected to causes, but then I take those points back away for refusing to listen to what actual problems and actual causes are.

 

In Part II we will talk about how the perfectionist conservative sees various social ills, how they want to fix them, where they are wrong, and where they are right.

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How to talk to gay people (a primer)

Opening

Firstly, say hello.  Similar to straight people, most gay people begin their conversations with a greeting.  Common variants are “hello,” “hi,” “yo,” or very rarely, “greetings and salutations.”

Before you proceed, check for eye contact.  Eye contact is a common signal among gay people that a conversation has begun.  If you have not succeeded in making eye contact, DO NOT PROCEED.  As a conversation for gay people is an encounter involving two or more people (i.e. more than just you), you have no conversation if you have failed to gain their attention.  Don’t take it personally and simply try again another time, just like you would treat a missed connection with a straight person.

Next steps

Next, you may ask any of several small-talk type questions, such as “How do you know (insert mutual friend here)?” Or “How long are you visiting the area?” or even “What lovely weekend weather we had!  Were you able to get outside?”  Most gay people are reasonably well-versed in social customs, in a proportion likely similar to straight people.  That’s why they are called “social customs,” because people who are members of society are generally aware of them.  Even gay members of society.

Caution: Similar to straight relationships, gay relationships may be complex or a sensitive subject, so it may be a bit forward to ask directly about their partner or their family. Instead, share a comment or a story about your own significant other and if they want to share, they will respond in kind. You may then follow up with more specific questions about their family.

Caution: As with many straight people, politics and religion are generally not good topics for small talk.  Even if you think you’re safe with a comment like, “How ‘bout that Supreme Court marriage decision?  I bet you’re super excited!” be aware that, like straight people, gay people have nuanced and complicated views.  Respect their depth and diversity of thought just as you would a straight person’s thoughts.

After that, anything goes! Be sure to explore in more depth any shared interests or other things you have in common. You may already know how to do this from the conversations you have had with straight people.

Conclusion

Finally, say goodbye before you go. Similar to straight people, gay people like their conversations to have a definite end.

TL/DR: You talk to a gay person the same way you talk to a straight person.

Bonus guide: How to talk to transgender people – Go back to the beginning of this post.  Replace every usage of “gay” with “transgender.”

TL/DR: You talk to a transgender person the same way you talk to a straight person.

Note: This silliness inspired by a piece advising us all on how to convert “the gays” to Christianity.  The piece was titled “How to talk to the gays,” and this post was the first place my brain went.

Why abortion is even a thing

This post is not a direct answer to Broadblogs’s comment on my previous post, but it is inspired by her comment.  She blogs about feminism and gender relations here.

I have noticed that there tend to be a few distinct issues that tend to get blended together when people discuss abortion, and I wanted to take the time to break them out a bit.  Let me begin with a caveat that I’m speaking very generally here, so I’m not going to be able to cover all cases, all situations, or all people.

Generally speaking, abortion happens because of unplanned pregnancy.  How does that happen?

What causes unplanned pregnancy

  • Primarily people having sex. Consensual or otherwise.
  • Lack of contraception access. Usually this is where the blame for abortion gets pinned, but strictly speaking a lack of contraception (plus people having sex) only leads to unplanned pregnancies.  I don’t so much mean logistical access, since contraception really is widely available; rather, I’m referring to cultural access.  Since I made up the term (so far as I know) I’ll explain: a lack of cultural access would be, for example, a young woman who didn’t get anything resembling real sex ed, who might have heard of birth control but might not really know what the various risks and failure rates are for various methods.  All the logistical access in the world won’t fix the cultural access issues, unfortunately.
  • Contraception failure (plus people having sex).

So you have an unplanned pregnancy.  Congratulations!  Now what?  Are you going to keep it?  Let someone adopt it?  Abort it?

What causes abortion

  • Pro-lifers shaming women for being single moms.
  • Pro-choicers shaming women for being stupid enough to get pregnant.
  • Coercion from partners / parents / others.
  • Individual choice for reasons ranging from the serious to the trivial. Yes, some women do choose abortion for trivial reasons; there will always be people who make serious choices for trivial reasons, especially if there’s no particular obstacle to that specific choice.
  • A culture that is generally not very welcoming to new life, even in the best of circumstances. How many families struggle to make it work even when they get pregnant on purpose with a very wanted child?  The struggle is magnified the further you get from this ideal.

All that being said, abortion still wouldn’t be a thing without a very widespread but very incorrect assumption, which brings me to –

What enables abortion

  • The belief that the right to life does not begin for humans until …. ? Depending on which pro-choice person you are talking to, the right to life does not begin until the 12th week of pregnancy, the 20th week, the 36th week, the day of birth (as long as some part of the baby is inside the mother), a few weeks postpartum, or at a particular point I didn’t mention.

Science makes it abundantly clear that a new individual begins to be present at conception; at that point there is a genetically unique individual that has never existed before in the history of the world and will never exist again.  No other bright line exists for when the right to life begins, and no other point in development makes a logical bright line.

If this fact were universally recognized, and assuming we all agree that it’s wrong to forcibly end someone’s life, elective abortion would become unacceptable and virtually disappear.  The average person would no more choose abortion than they would choose to kill their toddler.  Of course there would still be medically necessary abortions, because even when you recognize that you have two patients in front of you, sometimes you simply can’t save at least one of them, but those abortions would no longer be of the hack-n-slash variety.

How do we reduce abortion?

The thought process that enables abortions is frankly the easiest thing to address, but even that is very difficult in practice for a wide variety of reasons, probably primarily the fact that all of the causes of abortion are still present.  This impacts the general willingness to listen, as important as it is to continue to spread the word on this front.

Although I have seen some progress in pro-lifers fixing their attitudes toward single parents, unfortunately women are still generally in the position of having to give pro-lifers AND pro-choicers the finger when they say, “No, abortion is unacceptable and I won’t do it.  Period.”

My abortion story

In honor of the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision today, I am going to share my abortion story.

When I was 20 years old, I was finally starting to find my groove and enjoy life.  I had left my sheltered upbringing in semi-rural Iowa, joined the Air Force, and was living in Hawai’i.  I was in the best shape of my life, I had a bikini for every day of the week, and I was having a lot of fun, if-ya-know-whaddamean.

My days were filled with work, hiking, going to the beach, working out, and reading.  My evenings were filled with dates, dinner with friends, and whatever I wanted to do.  I almost never slept alone.  Mainly because I didn’t want to.

After a few months of this I managed to settle down and have an actual boyfriend.  Tall and black, he had grown up in New York City and we had a lot of stories to trade.  It was good!  As much fun as I had been having, I was starting to get a little tired of the chaos.  So it was nice to have some stability.

One morning on one of my gym days I got up like usual to go to the gym.  Fifteen minutes into my workout I started feeling nauseous.  Really nauseous.  It was so bad I couldn’t keep going; so I left.  I called my boyfriend just to chat and tell him what happened.  And out of the blue, he said: “I think you’re pregnant.”  I was like – what?!  No.  No way.  We use a condom EVERY time.  There’s no way I’m pregnant.  “I think you’re pregnant,” he repeats.  No.  Not possible.

But the thought was planted and wouldn’t go away so off I go to the store for a pregnancy test.  On my way in I puke in a garbage can outside.  Gross.  I hate puking.  I get home, pee on the stick, and sit on the phone with him while watching the test.  One pink line – okay, the test is working, so far so good.  Then I start to see it very faintly but slowly getting stronger – “Oh God.  Oh God.  I see it – I see two pink lines.”

He was ecstatic!  Huh, what?!  That was not what I was expecting.  Um – hold on.  This doesn’t feel real at all.  There is NO WAY I could be pregnant.  But there are those two pink lines.  He was ecstatic!  I shook my head in confusion.

Okay then – I’m pregnant.  Yup.

This brought a whole new set of concerns to our relationship.  We figured out within the next couple weeks that although we both loved to watch football, go hiking, go spend time browsing bookstores, thinking and talking about whatever conversation is inspired by the books …. Despite all this, we were not meant to be married.  Every conversation we had about possibly getting married and raising the baby together ended in tears on my end.  It didn’t take long before we decided to go our separate ways.  I went to my 6-week appointment alone.

I knew that I had no idea how to take care of a baby; hell, I didn’t even like kids.  On top of that, it was made clear to me in no uncertain terms that I should not have this baby.  From coworkers to acquaintances to relatives to the lawyer I called for child support advice, in no particular order:

“How far along are you?  You have options, you know – have you considered an abortion?”

“Why would you have a baby?  You’re not ready.”

“But … you’re not with the father.  I don’t understand why you’re doing this to yourself.”

“You’re bringing a MIXED RACE baby into the world?  There are places where their life would be in DANGER?  How could you do that?”

“You should think about what you’re doing to this family – I don’t want a black baby in the family.”

“If you become a single mother you will ALWAYS be poor.  And you will NEVER get out.”

“You’ll never get married – a good man doesn’t want a woman with a child.  Especially not a black child.  Men just aren’t any good with children that aren’t theirs.”

“I see it all the time – you’ll go from boyfriend to boyfriend, and one of them will end up abusing your child – maybe even killing them.”

“If you become a single mother, your baby will grow up poor and not finish high school and probably get into drugs – it’s a vicious cycle.  Why are you getting upset?  I only said he’ll PROBABLY use drugs, not that he DEFINITELY will.”

According to everyone, who of course only had the best interests of my baby in mind:

  • I wasn’t ready
  • I was irresponsible
  • I was 20, single, and wasn’t staying with the father
  • The father was black, so the child would be mixed race
  • I hadn’t finished college yet.

It was all perfectly clear.  I checked all the boxes of the perfect candidate – I was supposed to have an abortion.

But I didn’t.

My abortion story is that I didn’t have one.

That baby is now a beautiful 11-year-old girl.

And you know what?  We’re not poor.  We’re not homeless.  I finished college and have a great career.  I married a great guy who loves her like his own.  We’re not any of the things I was told we definitely would be if I didn’t have an abortion.  See, there’s this thing called free will, and with my free will I made choices to set me and her up for the future the best way I can.  There is NO such thing as a pre-determined outcome.

So if you are in a situation like I was, and you have condescending people telling you to “just do what’s BEST for your child” and reminding you that you have “options,” just smile to yourself, knowing that they are full of shit.  They really are.  And I’m the proof.

It’s a woman’s world, apparently

I read a few related things lately, and some thoughts started rolling around.  Just so you get a sense of the overall sentiment that I’m responding to, the things I read are here, here, here, and here.  I’ll cherry-pick some quotes at the end, but first some general thoughts –

So it seems that for thousands of years, people (male and female) basically trudged about their business because we collectively lacked the spare time to contemplate how we each got a raw deal in the social order.  Then women started to speak up.  Now whether this was because women got the worse end of the deal or because women can communicate better – not a debate I want to have right now.  The fact remains that feminism happened.  “Pardon me, sir, but wouldn’t it be jolly good if I could own property in my own name?  While you’re at it, it would be really awesome if I had access to the same employment opportunities men do so I have an option to get my children and myself out of an abusive marriage without starving to death.  And if you’re feeling REALLY generous, you can start judging me on my capabilities as an individual rather than what’s between my legs.”

So there were some sputters and starts and even today there is STILL some resistance to these basic ideas, but by and large women got what they needed.  And women also got affirmation and encouragement for however they wanted to express their femininity – whether it be with lace and fake nails or short hair and weightlifting. (I’m oversimplifying because I don’t want to write another 300 pages.  And if you’re honest with yourself, you don’t want to read another 300 pages, either. )

And men didn’t get that encouragement – it was presumed that men didn’t need any affirmation.  After all, they were the default.  And the default isn’t ignored, per se – it’s taken for granted.  The default doesn’t get recognition or affirmation for being the default.

Also, they never asked for it.  The age-old stereotype of men being dismissive of their wives’ feelings and neglectful of their wives’ needs … now men are talking about how THEY have dismissed feelings and neglected needs, too.  How does it feel?  Do men take this as a lesson in how to be a better human being?  “Gee, maybe women have a point about needing affirmation and maybe I should not be a jerk because now I know how it feels.  And maybe I should be a grownup and ask for what I need.”  Some men take it that way, but other men react like “Women are eeeevil!  How dare they get their needs met!  What about meeeeee?”

So – are men getting what they need?  Some men don’t think so.  The world has become too “feminized.”  Men need to be MEN!  Masculinity is GREAT!  Men have NEEDS!  And oh by the way feminism is EVIL because it ignores and diminishes the needs of MEN!

Slow down – let’s back up a bit.  The whole point of feminism was that women are not all the same;  women have different interests and abilities and should have the freedom to pursue them and should be paid the same as a man doing the same work.  But the idea behind the emangelists(*) is that in the most important ways, men ARE all the same.  That’s a big reason there’s such a huge disconnect between feminists and emangelists – women fought for the right to be seen as individuals instead of a monolithic bloc and now men are fighting for the right to be seen as a monolithic bloc.  Do you see why this doesn’t make a lot of sense to feminists?

Maybe we should do a better job of affirming EVERYONE in a way that recognizes their contribution as individuals and allows them to own their unique masculine or feminine identity.  Susie being the breadwinner for her family is a valid expression of her femininity just as Johnny being the stay-at-home parent is a valid expression of his masculinity.  Samantha is “woman enough” being a professional bodybuilder and Jack is “man enough” being a nurse.

Sure, men can be valiant conquerors with majestic beards and BIG MUSCLES – if that’s how you want to be a man, so be it.  What you don’t get to do, though, is pretend that YOUR masculinity is the ONLY way to be masculine.  You ALSO don’t get to advocate a return to the “good old days” and dismiss the very real problems of a system where women don’t have the same legal rights and recourse as men do.  You don’t get to pretend that your needs and priorities are hard-wired in and universal to males as a whole.  ASK for what you need and find a spouse / companion / group of friends that provide those things.  And turn around and provide what your spouse / companion / group of friends need, too.

(*) I’m speaking of the best, most genuine, intellectually honest representations of both feminism and men’s rights.  But because men’s rights is inextricably linked with extremism in my mind, I’m going to refer to it as “emangelization” after one of the sites I linked to – New Emangelization.  Also because it’s a catchy-sounding name.


Now to the cherry-picking:

From Cardinal Burke:

The Church becomes very feminized. …The activities in the parish and even the liturgy have been influenced by women and have become so feminine in many places that men do not want to get involved.  Men are often reluctant to become active in the Church. The feminized environment and the lack of the Church’s effort to engage men has led many men to simply opt out.

Last I checked, there was still a dude in fancy liturgical vestments oh, I dunno, acting in persona Christi and saying the Mass.  And that’s not nothing!

But to Cardinal Burke’s actual point, there’s a pretty detailed post and discussion of this on a scale broader than the Catholic Church over here on patheos.  When I think of my own parish, there are a lot of women involved as religious ed teachers (of which I am one). But I think that probably has more to do with how gender roles still work in our society as opposed to a “feminization” of the Church.

Of the women who are teaching, the vast majority of them are retired / stay-at-home parents / work part-time, so they have MUCH more flexibility with their time. Relatively few of us women have full-time work and still volunteer. But of the men who volunteer, ALL of them have full-time work and still volunteer; there are probably an equal number of men and women who have full-time work and still volunteer.

So to me, the irony is that the solution to the “problem” of “feminization” is more feminism – free men and women from the constraints of gender roles and you will likely have a different gender distribution.

Also from Cardinal Burke:

The introduction of girl servers also led many boys to abandon altar service. Young boys don’t want to do things with girls. It’s just natural. The girls were also very good at altar service. So many boys drifted away over time.

A couple of things are going on here – first, I think there’s a lot of assumptions here about what is “natural” and universal and what is encouraged.  Even as a kid in elementary school, I got along better with the boys than the girls.  I played soccer and kickball with the boys at recess, and I read He-Man books with the boys during free time.  My involvement in these activities didn’t seem to bother the boys at all, and they certainly didn’t “drift away” over time.  Second, there’s an idea that because the girls do something better than the boys, the boys become discouraged and give up.  Why?  I thought Men™ liked challenge and competition and liked to conquer things?  Why wouldn’t the boys let the girls’ skill inspire them to get better?  So clearly we’re a little fuzzy on what, exactly, the universal nature of Men™ is, if such a thing exists (which I don’t think it does).

Again from Cardinal Burke:

Men are facing great temptations, particularly, as I mentioned due to pornography and confusion about sexuality and desperately need to be taught how to battle these temptations in Christ.

As a former teenage girl, I can tell you that a teenage girl’s sex drive is all-consuming and makes it VERY difficult to do anything productive some days.  But the message I got from church and the other pro-purity materials that got passed around my circle was that women don’t have sex drives.  Not really – women might THINK they want sex, but they REALLY want love.  But because men have SUCH a sex drive, it’s up to the girls to protect the boys from themselves through modesty and through always having to be on guard and always having to be the ones to say “no” to sex.

It’s all well and good to say that men are “facing great temptations,” but even now the “great temptations” that women face are COMPLETELY ignored and dismissed with a “Oh you just don’t UNDERSTAND.  Men have it SO much worse.”  Purity messaging hasn’t really changed at all in the last 20 years.

So I have to protect the boys from themselves but I get to wrangle my sex drive on my own without even an acknowledgment that it exists?  Color me unimpressed.

More Cardinal Burke:

Everyone understands that women have and can be abused by men. Men who abuse women are not true men, but false men who have violated their own manly character by being abusive to women.

You don’t get to dismiss the possibility of domestic violence with a verbal wave of your hand.  For some of us, domestic violence is a reality we lived through, and the ONLY reason we are alive and successful today is because of the “radical feminism” that pushes for things like equal pay for equal work, daycare assistance programs, and women’s resource centers.

Yes – women’s resource centers.  If you have more obligations put on you, you need more help.  Statistically, if a woman is abusive, the man leaves with little to no ill effects; he goes and gets another place to live with the uninterrupted income from the job that he had all along and generally moves on with his life.  When a man is abusive, the woman is left destitute.  Oh – and she has to take care of the kids, too.  So she needs to feed them, and she needs to secure childcare, and she needs a place to live -and all that requires money that doesn’t have.  Child support (when you can collect it) generally doesn’t even begin to close the gap.

When we say things like “structuralized sexism,” we’re not trying to be mean.  All we’re saying is the Way Things Are™ set up by men back when it was ONLY men’s priorities that mattered and there was ONLY ONE WAY to be a man works very well for men (duh).  That’s why there’s no men’s resource centers – the whole world is your men’s resource center.

And one more from Cardinal Burke:

We have to be very clear with men about purity, chastity, modesty and even the way men dress and present themselves. Men’s behaviors and dress matter, for it affects how they relate to the world and it affects the culture. Men need to dress and act like men in a way that is respectful to themselves, to women and to children.

YES!!! Did you see that?!!! Cardinal Burke just said that MEN need to be modest, too!!!  I’m so glad to see someone FINALLY say that men need to be modest and it’s not just women!!!!  I’m sorry, am I using too many exclamation points?!!!!

From the comments on the Breitbart articles (here and here):

Women are horrible!  I’ve had so many awful experiences with women who expected the world from me and didn’t give anything in return!  Today’s women are worthless.  I’m done with women!  And some bitter, angry feminist will probably come along and call me a ‘whining man-baby’ for speaking the truth!

(A mixture of paraphrasing and combining sentences from several different comments, but the general idea from multiple people is captured fairly.)

“Whining man-baby” – you know how you get that label?  By whining like a baby when you’re a grown-ass man.  So you had a bad experience with a woman or two – good for you!  Welcome to life, where sometimes people are assholes.  Now grow up and get a grip on yourself.  If I were to take a page from your book, I would be ranting and raving about how ALL men are horrible just because I was married to ONE man that was horrible.  What if I came on here and whined about how ALL men are sociopathic assholes that would let their wives and children freeze to death?  ALL men create secret bank accounts and yank money away from their stay-at-home spouses so that they have no money for food?  ALL men throw dishes and glasses around the house when the food you make isn’t exactly what they like – and then the nicks in the drywall are YOUR fault?  ALL men unhook the phone before they start shoving you around so you can’t call for help?  What if I came here and started whining because ALL men are just like my experience with ONE man?  Hmmm?

Fortunately, I’m smarter than that.  You know that spiel about judging people as individuals and not what’s between their legs?  Yeah – I actually practice what I preach there – imagine that!

In closing, 

– There are multiple, varied, valid ways to be manly.

– There are multiple, varied, valid ways to be womanly.

– Assuming “feminization” is a problem, the way to fix it is more feminism.

– Ask for what YOU need.  You have no basis for assuming that what YOU need is what ALL men / women need.  If you do that, you would be wrong.

– Men, women are assholes sometimes.  I’m sorry you’ve been through that, but get over it.  If you don’t want to be lumped in with all the asshole men out there, don’t lump all women in with all the asshole women out there.  Goose, meet gander.  I trust you’ll get along.

Agree?  Tell me in the comments.  Disagree?  Keep it to yourself.  Just kidding!  Tell me that, too – nicely, please.

Cartoon Roundup: Veteran’s Day 2014

Hi everyone – Happy Veteran’s Day!  An extra big thank you to all combat veterans – my thoughts and prayers are with all of you especially today.

I saw some really good cartoons for today, but I wanted to start with this –

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Yup – that’s what Google looks like today!  I will admit that it makes me a little nostalgic because the Air Force girl standing in for the letter “L” actually looks a lot like how I looked in uniform.

Yup you read that right – yours truly spent three whole years in the Air Force, which technically makes me a veteran.  But to be honest I don’t think I deserve the title.  I sat in a bunker with headphones and didn’t see a day of combat; my life was never actually in danger.  When I think of someone who has earned the title “veteran” I think of these gentlemen –

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They are the ones who have truly earned today’s traditional social nicety –

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Speaking of which, I read an interesting opinion on that phrase, “Thank you for your service.”  I was never sure what to say in response, especially since there are SO many people who deserve thanks for their service and their sacrifice before I do.  But I finally found the right response – “The honor was mine.”  Because that’s how I feel – every day it was a privilege to don the uniform and symbolically become a part of our indomitable national defense machine.

In no particular order –

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Just a couple images I thought were cool.  As someone who appreciates the military traditions of saluting the flag and other gestures of respect toward our national symbols, I like the image of Uncle Sam (and symbolically the whole country) turning the tables and saluting the veterans.

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I picked this one just because it’s clearly a non-white soldier.  I didn’t see too many cartoons recognizing the racial diversity of our armed forces, so I had to grab this one.

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A cynical juxtoposition of how we celebrate Veteran’s Day vs. what a significant number of veterans have to actually put up with.

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And to finish it off – ever since I was introduced to the poem in middle school, I can’t read the poem In Flanders Fields without tearing up.

And on that note, I wish I could think of a graceful way to close, but instead I’ll just say to all the veterans out there – Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your service!

Why The Men’s Rights Movement Is Garbage

Men’s rights must-read

The Belle Jar

I need to take a moment here to talk about the Men’s Rights Movement, because there seems to be some confusion. Actually, there seems to be a whole lot of confusion.

Over the past little while, I’ve had a number of people challenge me on calling out men’s rights activists (hereafter referred to as MRAs). “But men are oppressed too,” people say. “Feminism is sexist, and it teaches men that masculinity is wrong.” “Straight, white men aren’t allowed to be proud of themselves anymore.” “If you believe in equality, then you should want men to have the same type of activism as women.” “Everyone is entitled to their opinion.”

First of all, yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion. But let’s not pretend that all opinions are created equal – some are based on fact, and some are total bullshit. Like, I could tell you that I believe that vaccines…

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