Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Well, Ms Rybody, it’s funny that you should ask this for, truly, this has become the biggest fashion question – possibly even the only fashion question – in not just the world, but the entire cosmos. For anyone who might have missed it, last week there was some dinky story about a probe landing on a comet for the first time ever. I know what you’re thinking: “Probe, schmobe, get to the real issue here – what was one of the scientists wearing?!?!?!?” Glad to be of service! The project scientist, Dr Matt Taylor, appeared on TV wearing a shirt patterned with images of semi-clothed women that I assume (not being an expert in either of these fields) reference video games and heavy metal albums. Cue internet rage! Everything that followed was utterly predictable, but not especially edifying. The story went through the five cycles of internet rage: initial amusement; astonishment; outrage; backlash to the outrage; humiliated apology. First, our attention was drawn to the shirt via some sniggering tweets; this was swiftly followed by shock and its usual accompaniment, outrage, with some women suggesting the shirt reflected a sexism at the heart of the science community. As generally happens when a subject takes a feminist turn on the internet, the idiots then turned up, with various lowlifes telling the women who expressed displeasure at the shirt to go kill themselves. (This is not an exaggeration, and there is no need to give these toerags further attention in today’s discussion.)
Just as a simple error on the part of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s driver led to the start of the first world war, so this stupid shirt sparked the beginning of World War Shirt. The scientist knew he had to respond and so, during what I am told by youngsters is called a “Google Hangout”, Dr Smith issued a tearful apology for his shirt. Rumours that the offending shirt, stiff with dried salty tears, has been spotted in Dr Smith’s local charity shop have yet to be confirmed.
Look, I didn’t especially like his shirt, but I also don’t think one can expect much more of a heavily inked dude with a well-established penchant for bad T-shirts. As a cursory search on Google Images (hard research here, people!) proves, this one, while not in the best of taste, was clearly part of that tendency. Yes, it’s an embarrassing shirt and yes, it was a stupid shirt to wear on international TV. But the man is – classic batty scientist cliche – so absentminded that, according to his sister, he regularly loses his car in car parks. So if Taylor committed any crime, it was a crime of bad taste and stupidity rather than burn-him-at-the-stake sexism.
And, well said conclusion:
I totally understand why some women were offended by Taylor’s shirt, and I especially understand the frustration felt by female scientists who feel marginalised enough in their profession without high-profile men wearing shirts featuring half-naked women. But I can’t help but feel that outrage would be better spent on complaining about how few women were present in the control room for the probe landing. There are so many signifiers of sexism in the world and – I believe (again, not an expert in this field) – the science world that to attack a man for his shirt feels a little bit like fussing at a leaky tap when the whole house is under a tidal wave. Some people online have suggested that Taylor’s shirt proves he is a misogynist, or that he sees women purely as sex objects, or that he revels in marginalising them. Personally, if I saw a male colleague wearing that shirt, my reaction would be amazement that a grown man has the fashion taste of a 13-year-old. There is a difference – and I concede, the difference may be fuzzy in some cases – between enjoying the weird fantasy-world depiction of women, and seeing actual women as sex objects. Taylor has the right to wear whatever pig-ugly shirt he likes, and people have the right to be outraged by it. But when that outrage leads to a grown man weeping on TV, perhaps we all need to ask if this outrage is proportionate. My God, I’m a fashion bitch and even I don’t want to make anyone cry over my comments about their clothes.
Monday, November 17, 2014
“The phone call. The phone call," sighed Allison Strange. "There’s always that one call that you never expect to get.”
On Sept. 6, 2011, the caller ID showed her son's cell phone, but the voice on the other end wasn't Josh. Her son had been arrested for rape.
Josh Strange avoided prosecution, but he did face the justice of Auburn University, where he was a sophomore. Under federal civil rights law, colleges and universities have to conduct their own investigations into sexual assault reports, separate from a criminal one. And after a 99-minute hearing, the discipline committee – chaired by a university librarian – reached its decision.
“Josh was as white as a piece of notebook paper, and just looked like he had been punched in the stomach,” remembered Allison Strange, who was outside the hearing room. “I walked up and I looked, and Josh said, ‘Mom, I’m gone. They don’t want me here anymore. I can’t stay. They’ve expelled me.’”
In the aftermath, Allison and Josh Strange formed the group Families Advocating for Campus Equality that pushes for universities to get out of the business of adjudicating sexual assault cases. Allison Strange wants those cases to be left to the criminal justice system, and she says you only need to look at her son's case to understand why.
Friday, November 14, 2014
Amusing story with bits of cross-cultural illumination:
Call them stretch jeans, jeggings, ex-girlfriend jeans or what not - we're talking about men in tights. Tight jeans that is. While some men gasp in horror at the idea of wrapping their legs in stretch, others embrace the comfort the new trend provides. FashionUnited wanted to know how men like their jeans and did a bit of research.
First, there's the assumption that jeans have to be 'manly' – rugged, tough, weathered, worn for men, are adjectives that come to mind when thinking of jeans for me, as epitomized by pop icons like the quintessential cowboy John Wayne, rebel James Dean or the working class heroes that rock legends like Bruce Springsteen likes to sing about. Now picture them in a pair of skin-tight jeans instead of the rigid version. It's quite a stretch, isn't it (pun intended)?
"We may name it a Male Law, or Macho law," he said.
From the UK Express:
MEN who have children by different women should be PAID by the government for increasing the population, claimed a Russian MP.
The new "Macho Law", which was proposed by Valeriy Seleznyov, could see men that have a string of children with different women paid an unspecified amount to help cover child costs.
The MP wants to extend a system that is already in place in Russia - where woman can claim "maternity capital allowances" of around £6,500 when they have more than one child.
He went on to explain that the amount granted from the "Macho Law" could then be used to help cover property and education costs.
"Some men have several children from different women, each of whom is not eligible for the 'maternity capital programme, as some of them have only one child, and others can be married to another man," he explained.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Thus writes a NYT reporter regarding quarterback Tony Romo (he of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys) who has suffered genuinely painful injuries but feels pressure to play.
Romo is a terrific fourth-quarter quarterback, a warrior in the beloved military argot of the N.F.L. He has played with torn ligaments and broken bones and come back early from many injuries.
He walked out stiffly to meet the press Thursday morning. “I mean, it’s sore,” he said. “It’s not a comfortable feeling.”
Then he added, “Just normal stuff.”
He was lying. I called Dr. Frederick Azar, an orthopedic surgeon who is the team physician for the Memphis Grizzlies of the N.B.A. and president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
“Romo’s still in the inflammatory stage; it takes three to four weeks just to calm the nerves and muscles down,” Azar said. “If he thinks he can go, O.K., but he’s going to be in a lot of pain.”
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
TBT from last year's post:
Veteran's Day raises conflicting responses from feminists. While it is a day to honor lives given in service, it is also a day that reminds us of women’s historical exclusion from power, opportunities and benefits. Women’s exclusion from the military and advantageous combat positions has had the trickle-down effect of denying them the ancillary veterans’ benefits of GI-bill education, family support, small business loans, and healthcare. Veterans’ preferences in employment, home loans, problem-solving courts, and treatment programs disparately advantage men to significant economic benefit. Even now as women seek these military opportunities, they are only tokenly being “tested” for combat roles, reminded that there "will be no lowering of standards." As if that's required. And as if the standard itself is not male defined.
For reading on gendered implications of veterans, see:
Personnel Administration v. Feeney, 442 U.S. 256 (1979).
Monday, November 10, 2014
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
From the New Republic (also contains a video feed):
In an interview with NPR earlier this fall, pre-school teacher Glen Peters recounted, “They couldn't find the bathroom code for the men's bathroom, so I actually had to go to the women's room while someone stood guard outside the bathroom. I knew at that moment that I was a bit of a unicorn.” Peters is part of the small cohort of males teaching pre-school nationally; in fact, barely 2 percent of early education teachers are men, according to 2012 labor statistics. And with universal pre-K taking center stage in our country’s most populous city, the absence of male influence at this stage of development is getting increased scrutiny.
Steven Antonelli, currently the director for Bank Street Head Start, has spent more than two decades working in early childhood education and has experienced first-hand the challenges men in this field face. In an interview with New Republic executive editor Greg Veis, Antonelli considers these hurdles and the importance of early childhood education.
Friday, October 24, 2014
To identify a certain set of skills associated with manliness is always to traffic perilously in either incoherence or comedy, or both. (This is not to suggest that there are no virtues associated with manliness; courage, obviously, is chief among them according to societal convention.)
The Art of Manliness blog has a collection of "Manly Skills." It is not clear whether these purported skills are meant to be offered in the spirit of farce or earnestness; some are, I know, meant to be the former, but others aren't clear. Men, we are told, should know how to paddle a canoe, how to fake levitate, do Brazilian jujitsu, split wood with an ax, and make the world's best paper airplanes.
The litany of skills leads me to ask if manliness itself doesn't straddle the line between the comical and the earnest.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Amanda Marcotte, Slate, South Carolina Says "Stand Your Ground" Law Doesn't Apply to Abused Women
South Carolina has an expansive "stand your ground" law that paves the way for someone to get immunity from prosecution by declaring that they killed another person in self-defense. Liberals have been critical of these laws, arguing that they make it far too easy for violent people to deliberately provoke or escalate confrontations and then avoid prosecution when things get out of hand. (There is some proof that such laws correlate with a rise in the murder rate.) There are also concerns that the laws are unfairly applied, due to massive racial disparities in who successfully invokes "stand your ground" to avoid punishment. Now comes a reason for women to be especially worried.
In South Carolina, prosecutors are trying to argue that a woman's right to stand her ground in a domestic dispute is less than a man's right to stand his ground with some stranger he's gotten into a fight with. Andrew Knapp at the Charleston Post and Courier—which has been aggressively covering the issue of domestic violence in recent months—reports that three North Charleston women have been "charged with murder during the past two years after stabbing a boyfriend or a roommate she said attacked her," despite the existence of the state's strong "stand your ground" law.
[h/t Molly McBurney]
We recently blogged here about legal scholarship on this issue. In this article, Professor Mary Anne Franks argues:
This two-track system of self-defense — Battered Women’s Syndrome for women and Stand Your Ground for men — has far-reaching implications outside of the courtroom. Battered Women’s Syndrome sends the legal and social message that women should retreat even from their own homes in the face of objective, repeated harm to their bodies; Stand Your Ground sends the legal and social message that men can advance against strangers anywhere on the basis of vague, subjective perceptions of threats.
Monday, October 20, 2014
The story is old (two years, now), but intriguing, and I haven't found any news to indicate a change in policy.
One Qantas passenger said he felt he had been branded a "kiddie fiddler" after he was asked to move away from a young girl.
Daniel McCluskie, a nurse who had been seated next to a 10-year-old girl, said he was left humiliated and paranoid after a flight attendant asked him to swap seats with a woman passenger.
"After the plane had taken off, the air hostess thanked the woman that had moved but not me, which kind of hurt me," he said. "It appeared I was in the wrong, because it seemed I had this sign I couldn't see above my head that said 'child molester' or 'kiddie fiddler' whereas she did the gracious thing and moved to protect the greater good of the child."
Qantas said its policy was consistent with other airlines but it rarely asked passengers to swap seats after boarding.
Hold on, though:
But one woman, Susan Lyons, a 67-year-old grandmother, said male passengers "should be whooping for joy" at the opportunity to avoid enduring a flight next to unaccompanied children.
"Be thankful you are blokes," she said in a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald. "Pity the lady who was hoping for a quiet flight that had to swap seats with you."
Friday, October 17, 2014
Like every other matriculating student at Wellesley, which is just west of Boston, Timothy Boatwright was raised a girl and checked “female” when he applied. Though he had told his high-school friends that he was transgender, he did not reveal that on his application, in part because his mother helped him with it, and he didn’t want her to know. Besides, he told me, “it seemed awkward to write an application essay for a women’s college on why you were not a woman.” Like many trans students, he chose a women’s college because it seemed safer physically and psychologically.
Last spring, as a sophomore, Timothy decided to run for a seat on the student-government cabinet, the highest position that an openly trans student had ever sought at Wellesley. The post he sought was multicultural affairs coordinator, or “MAC,” responsible for promoting “a culture of diversity” among students and staff and faculty members. Along with Timothy, three women of color indicated their intent to run for the seat. But when they dropped out for various unrelated reasons before the race really began, he was alone on the ballot. An anonymous lobbying effort began on Facebook, pushing students to vote “abstain.” Enough “abstains” would deny Timothy the minimum number of votes Wellesley required, forcing a new election for the seat and providing an opportunity for other candidates to come forward. The “Campaign to Abstain” argument was simple: Of all the people at a multiethnic women’s college who could hold the school’s “diversity” seat, the least fitting one was a white man.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
In the New Republic, the EIC of Cosmpolitan said:
I think that women's lives are multilayered. I have no problem understanding that women are interested in mascara and the Middle East. Men are allowed to talk about sports relentlessly and yet we still take them seriously. I don't understand why women can't talk about fashion, or sex, or love, or wanting more money and not be taken as seriously as men.
Friday, October 3, 2014
Thus reads an interesting blog post from the Good Men Project. An excerpt:
Last night I was searching the Internet for a video on “women abusing men” to run here on The Good Men Project. Not only were there just a few actual hits, most of which I’d already seen, but I also found that most of the results that did come up were for men abusing women. Even though I typed “men” first, Google found more results for the reversed phrase, indicating the huge imbalance of available online material. And yet, recent statistics confirm that men represent approximately 40% of the victims in cases of abuse.
Sunday, September 28, 2014
We all know this. These days, men often hug other men; even guys who aren't really friends will do this. The Bro Hug, it has come to be known. It has, arguably, overtaken handshakes.
Commentary from the NYT:
[One theory for the B.H.] comes from Mark McCormack, a British sociologist, who has suggested that our increased hugginess is attributable to declining homophobia. In March, Dr. McCormack and his colleague Eric Anderson published in the journal Men and Masculinities a study of 40 college-age male heterosexual British athletes. Ninety-three percent of the young men said that, more than mere hugging, they had spooned or cuddled with a male friend.
One of the study’s participants said of his male friend, Connor: “I happily rest my head on Connor’s shoulder when lying on the couch or hold him in bed. We have a bromance where we are very comfortable around each other.”
That the decreased stigma about being gay may inspire people to be more physically affectionate — particularly heterosexual male athletes, a demographic not known for being cuddlesome — is a lovely thing. As are wanted hugs. But the ripple effect of this new liberation may sometimes prove unmooring.
I suspect there is something deeply regional and class-based about the Bro Hug.....
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Presenters on US cable channel Fox News cracked a series of sexist jokes after reporting that a female pilot from the UAE had taken part in a bombing mission of Isis targets in Syria, describing her as “boobs on the ground”.
One presenter, Kimberly Guilfoyle, tried to pay tribute to Major Mariam al-Mansouri, 35, one of four UAE fighter pilots to take part in the operation. “Hey, Isis, you were bombed by a woman,” she said. “Very exciting, a woman doing this … I hope that hurt extra bad because in some Arab countries women can’t even drive.”
She continued: “Major Mariam al-Mansouri is who did this. Remarkable, very excited. I wish it was an American pilot. I’ll take a woman doing this any day to them.”
But after the segment, co-host Greg Gutfeld interrupted Guilfoyle, mocking the pilot. “The problem is after she bombed it she couldn’t park it,” he said. Another presenter, Eric Bolling, joined in, asking: “Would that be considered boobs on the ground or no?” The conversation between panellists, which was broadcast on Wednesday, was part of discussion show The Five on Fox News.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
A new studey mentioned in the WSJ Blog:
Here’s another sign why too much testosterone at the top might not be good for business.
Research has shown that, by nature or nurture, facial masculinity is associated with a slew of behaviors in men that range from increased aggression to a penchant for risk taking. Some economists decided to see what having a masculine-looking man at the helm of a company might mean.
Yuping Jia at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, with Laurence van Lent and Yachang Zeng at Tilburg University, collected pictures of 1,136 male chief executives at companies in the S&P 1500, and used a facial-structure metric to gauge how masculine each one’s face was.
Check out the results.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
In the NYT. An exceprt:
I was engulfed in an irrepressible rage. Everything in me was churning and pumping and boiling. All reason and restraint were lost to it. I was about to do something I wouldn’t be able to undo. Bullets and blood and death. I gave myself over to the idea.
The scene from the night when I was 7 years old kept replaying in my mind: waking up to him pushed up behind me, his arms locked around me, my underwear down around my thighs. The weight of the guilt and grieving that followed. The years of the bullying designed to keep me from telling — and the years of questioning my role in his betrayal.
I jumped in the car, grabbed the gun from under the car seat. It was a .22 with a long black barrel and a wooden grip, the gun my mother had insisted I take with me to college, “just in case.”
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
A story by Michael Cassidiy, Boston College Law, from WBUR (the Boston NPR station). The introduction:
The current spotlight on campus sexual assault will no doubt raise awareness among college students of their legal rights and obligations. One hopes that it will also hold universities accountable for the social cultures they tolerate, if not create, on their own campuses. But difficult conversations about sexual responsibility need to be raised well before our children head off to college. As a law professor who has taught rape for more than a decade, and as a father of teenage boys, I believe that if we want to change behavior, we need to train young men to recognize sexual assault when it occurs and to internalize norms against it. Our conversations about rape need to start in our homes, at our dining room tables.
Sunday, August 17, 2014