Menu:

 
Picture
We all know higher education is inherently left-wing. Professors drive Volvos and subscribe to the New Statesman, and students flirt with homosexuality while performing in experimental theatre productions put on in their friends' loft spaces.

Or so I always thought.

I spent much of the day reading articles about Michele Bachmann, the Republican presidential candidate with the plasticized face and unshakeable Christian values. Much is made of the fact that she is a lawyer, and so must be marginally more intelligent than a shoe-horn. I wondered whether law school had obliged her to at least feign the appearance of critical thought. 

And then I discovered what I should already have realized: if you're Christian and don't want to mix with heathens or Volvos or women's studies majors, you don't have to. You can, like Bachmann, attend Coburn Law School at Oral Roberts University, an "interdenominational, Bible-based, and Holy Spirit-led" institution in Oklahoma. Or, like her husband, a Christian counselor, you can attend Regent University (founded by Pat Robertson) and become educated and insightful enough to say things like this when discussing homosexuality: "Barbarians need to be educated, they need to be disciplined, and just because someone feels it or thinks it, doesn't mean we need to go down that road."

Bachmann was profoundly influenced by a Presbyterian minister named Francis Schaeffer, who argued, according to journalist Michelle Goldberg, that "our entire perception of reality depends on our worldview, and that only those with the right one can understand the true nature of things". Which is sad, when you think about it, because that means people with the wrong worldview will find it difficult to adopt the right one, because what they see will always be skewed by their wrongness.  And people with the right one can always discount the opinions of those who disagree with them because they are grounded in a flawed worldview. 

Of course, that's what I do with Michele Bachmann's opinions. I can only conclude that the habit of smug self-assurance can also be learned at godless institutions of higher learning. 


Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.


 
 
Picture
And the difference is in the paycheck.
I might not know very much about U.S. law, but ignorance has never before stopped me from commenting authoritatively and at length about anything, so I find myself with a number of things to say about the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to throw out a huge sex-discrimination lawsuit against Walmart.

First of all (and most importantly): is Walmart single? I know that corporations are treated as people under the law. I know that they are now allowed to make unlimited campaign contributions because of how free speech is and how much democracy flourishes, so it's not crazy to think they're entitled to a romantic life.

And what upstanding, self-respecting, feminine woman would not want to go steady with Walmart? Walmart was being taking to court by seemingly billions and billions of women upset only because they were being treated like ladies. Sure, says journalist Liza Featherstone, women "earn less than their male counterparts in nearly every position at the company", and female supervisors often make less money than the male employees they're being paid not very much to supervise, but that's just because, as one store manager explained, men "are working as the heads of their households, while women are just working for the sake of working." I couldn't have put it better! Women work to have extra money to buy lipstick and decorative baubles. As another Walmart employee stated, men "are here to make a career and women aren't. Retail is for housewives who just need to earn extra money."  How true, on both counts! I certainly associate Walmart with men hungry for career advancement and women not desperate for money to feed their families. 

So it's pretty clear that Walmart would make a good boyfriend, the kind of boyfriend who would let me work to buy myself some handbags and potted plants, but count on me mostly for my home-building, hearth-tending skills.

Antonin Scalia, though, has placed an obstacle in my romantic path. Although generally I think of him as both fair-minded and good-looking, he has made a serious misstep in this case. He claims that Walmart has not instituted any discriminatory practices, and that the company should not be blamed for allowing their managers the freedom to behave in a discriminatory fashion. 

So a corporation is a person, and yet it is not one bit like a person. It has the right to speak freely as though it is a person, but is suddenly not a person with agency and accountability when its employees rush about insulting and mistreating people. I mean, I'd like to hook up with Walmart because it wouldn't expect me take on unladylike responsibilities, or at least would not pay me an unladylike amount to take them on, but I wouldn't be comfortable knowing that every time we had a fight, Walmart could just say that it wasn't at fault and some semi-autonomous network of middle-managers was to blame. 

So I'll have to set my sights on some other   promising potential beau. I'm looking at you, Scalia. I'm willing to become incorporated if that's what it will take to get your attention.

Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.


POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.

 
 
Picture
"What a coincidence! I, too, am a lesbian blogger."
I was shocked and saddened when it came out that Eliot Spitzer had been keeping condom-less company with a young prostitute. Not so much because I find it difficult to believe that people who are politically like-minded pay young women for sex, but because I have always liked to believe that awkward, nerdy people don't pay women for sex. It's one thing when overgrown frat boys or smooth-haired reverends turn out to be secret perverts, but when vaguely unfortunate, intelligent men who look like ungainly flightless birds turn out to be secret perverts, I find it disappointing.

Then the Weiner dropped, and I found myself nostalgic for the wholesomeness of the Spitzer scandal. Spitzer had sex. With a professional. And at least tried to do so discreetly. An old-timey, old-fashioned kind of scandal. Weiner, another funny-looking, articulate Democrat, was pathologically and self-destructively devoted to showing strange women his penis via The Twitter, and The Facebook. The whole thing was disconcerting and unpleasant.

And then the Gay Girl from Damascus was both un-gayed and un-girled, and I found myself nostalgic for Weiner. Amina Arraf, who claimed to be Syrian-American, lesbian, and real, turned out to be a Medieval Studies grad student from Georgia named Tom MacMaster. When it was reported that Amina had been kidnapped by the government, people started to look into her and to not be able to find her and MacMaster was unmasked. Even more bizarrely, one of MacMaster's "victims", Paula Brooks, founding editor of lesbian news site Lez Get Real, then turned out to be a male construction worker from Ohio. NPR's headline summarizes the situation admirably: "Another Supposedly Lesbian Blogger Turns Out to Be a Man."

It's the sympathetic teen girls trying to convince other teen girls they meet online to meet for real in deserted parking lots who are supposed to turn out to be older men in disguise, not the lesbian bloggers.

When Weiner weinered, I missed the innocent, straightforward salaciousness of the Spitzer scandal. But when Amina and Paula turned out to be Tom and Bill, I found myself missing the innocent, straightforwardly compulsive, exhibitionist perviness of Weiner. He's dishonest, manipulative, messed-up and free with his privates, but sexual misbehaviour is reassuringly familiar. I am apparently more confounded by men wanting to represent and speak for communities of women who love other women by pretending to be women who love other women than by men who want to show strangers what's inside their pants.

I'm sure something will now happen that will make me yearn for the days when straight men just pretended to be lesbians. Maybe Spitzer and Weiner will turn out to be lesbian bloggers in disguise. 


Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.


 
 
Picture
Finally! I have been very concerned that repressive and reductive gender stereotypes may be losing their hold on our cultural imagination. Thankfully, two older, intellectual, inexplicably confident men have decided to prove that it's still possible to think of women as overly sentimental, funny-bone-less wombs.

The novelist V.S. Naipaul has had the good sense to say what everyone is, of course, always thinking: women can't write for shit. I mean, they are physically capable of writing, but their work will inevitably deal with the fripperies and insignificant sentimental fluffinesses of a Woman's Life. As Naipaul notes: "I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me." Their writing is formed, deformed, by their "sentimentality, the narrow view of the world". And "inevitably for a woman," he continues, sensing he's on to a good thing here, "she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too."

And then there's Christopher Hitchens, whom I've made a point of disliking for many years. He has produced one of the most skin-crawlingly smug, offensive, condescending articles in recent memory. Entitled "Why Women Aren't Funny", the article asserts that women naturally aren't funny, that if they accidentally happen to be funny, they are generally "hefty, or dykey, or Jewish" (although as we all know, "Jewish humor, boiling as it is with angst and self-deprecation, is almost masculine by definition"), that "women, bless their tender hearts, would prefer that life be fair, and even sweet, rather than the sordid mess it actually is" (unlike all men), that "women do not find their own physical decay and absurdity to be [...] riotously amusing" (as, apparently all men do), that "for women, reproduction is, if not the only thing, certainly the main thing. Apart from giving them a very different attitude to filth and embarrassment, it also imbues them with the kind of seriousness and solemnity at which men can only goggle." For women, then, "the question of funniness is essentially a secondary one. They are innately aware of a higher calling that is no laughing matter." 

Although he claimed earlier that women (if I'm following his argument correctly and not distracted by my urge to let loose upon him a mob of hefty, dykey, infertile Jewish women) aren't funny partly because they prefer life to be sweet and not gross and depressing, he now appears to be asserting that they're unfunny for the opposite reason: because they are always aware of the fragility and tragedies of human life and are terrified of losing the tiny child that contributed to making them not funny in the first place. 

As he comments, "One tiny snuffle that turns into a wheeze, one little cut that goes septic, one pathetically small coffin, and the woman's universe is left in ashes and ruin. Try being funny about that, if you like. Oscar Wilde was the only person ever to make a decent joke about the death of an infant, and that infant was fictional, and Wilde was (although twice a father) a queer." I'm not entirely sure what he's getting at with the "queer" bit. Are queers more or less likely to mourn children? Are they more or less likely to be funny? 

Hitchens' article boasts more irresponsible, over-generalized statements and unsupported claims than...Bernie Madoff's resume (not funny)...a science class in Texas (not funny)...an interview with V.S. Naipaul (not funny, but totally true).

If only I didn't have female reproductive organs and therefore see no humour in filth, embarrassment, and the increasingly pendulous folds of my aging body, I might be able to pull off of comic gem like this one from Hitchens:

"Be your gender what it may, you will certainly have heard the following from a female friend who is enumerating the charms of a new (male) squeeze: 'He's really quite cute, and he's kind to my friends, and he knows all kinds of stuff, and he's so funny … ' (If you yourself are a guy, and you know the man in question, you will often have said to yourself, 'Funny? He wouldn't know a joke if it came served on a bed of lettuce with sauce béarnaise.')"

Hilarious! If I didn't believe in his thesis from the very beginning, I certainly did after I clapped eyes on that sauce crack. 

Hitchens, while discussing well-known progressive writer Rudyard Kipling, refers to the "great masculine equivalent to childbirth, which is warfare." Which is odd, because I always thought, because so many male authors said so, that the great masculine equivalent to childbirth was the production of Great Thoughts or Great Works of Art. A man's novel is his child. A man's painting is his child. A man's philosophical musings are his children...etc...etc... And I have to say that if that is the case, both Naipaul and Hitchens have managed to produce some astonishingly unattractive, sickly, aggravating kids. I anxiously await that tiny snuffle turning into a wheeze, that tiny cut going septic, so that I can put these articles in pathetically small coffins and go off and make a whole lot of jokes about shit.


Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.


 
 
Picture
Some exciting news about women's rights and women's issues from around the world! 

Egypt
The Egyptian military is now conceding that "virginity checks" were conducted on women rounded up after a March 9 protest in Tahrir Square (a month after Mubarak stepped down). They continue to deny that the female protestors were beaten, subjected to electric shocks, and strip-searched (as is alleged by Amnesty International), but acknowledge that virginity checks were carried out so that those rounded up could not later claim to have been raped by the security forces. 


Russia
Conservative politicians in Russia are trying to introduce legislation that would restrict access to abortions. The legislation would put a stop to free abortions at government-run clinics and require women to have a prescription in order to get the morning-after pill. Most encouragingly, women wanting abortions would have to get the permission of their spouses, or, if they are underage, from their parents. More on how encouraging this is later.

United States
Lest you think it's only women in foreign countries who are fortunate enough to have thoughtful decision-makers thinking and making decisions about their rights...

Kansas State Representative Pete DeGraaf recently made some innovative suggestions about how women should go about planning for future rapes.

DeGraaf doesn't think insurance companies should cover abortion in their general plans even in cases of rape or incest. Instead, he thinks women should be able to buy "abortion-only" policies. When Rep. Barbara Bollier unaccountably raised some objections to this suggestion, the House was treated to the following exchange: 

DeGraaf: "We do need to plan ahead, don't we, in life?"

Bollier: "And so women need to plan ahead for issues that they have no control over with pregnancy?"

DeGraaf: "I have a spare tire on my car. I also have life insurance. I have a lot of things that I plan ahead for."


DeGraaf later claimed his comments were taken out of context, and added that people wouldn't need the coverage if they weren't predisposed to killing their children, which certainly suggests that whatever context he's actually using, it's even worse than the one his earlier comments were taken out of. 

Don't be alarmed!
These news items might make you feel depressed, or discouraged, or extremely angry. But all of them also suggest ways in which women can grow and improve, if we're prepared to learn from their example.

Egypt: teaches women that they should be demure, modest, and virginal, just in case they're ripped out of a political demonstration and violated.

Russia: teaches women that marriages should be built on a strong foundation of open communication, because if they get pregnant, they'll need to get their husband's approval to have an abortion.

U.S.A: teaches women to assess future risk and prudently plan for the future. 

Really, the ultra-religious, right-wing, pro-life lobby is just trying to create a new generation of modest, communicative, farsighted women. 

Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.