October 03, 2014
UNM Sexually Harrasses Its Own Students
The University of New Mexico can’t decide whether it supports or opposes free speech on campus, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
The civil-liberties group called out the university as its “speech code of the month” Wednesday, highlighting its sexual harassment policy, which says:“[e]xamples of sexual harassment which shall not be tolerated” include “suggestive” letters, notes, or invitations. The policy also prohibits “displaying sexually suggestive or derogatory objects, pictures, cartoons, or posters,” albeit with the vague disclaimer that such displays will be “evaluated for appropriateness such as art displayed in museums … .”
This is a hoot, becauseAccording to The College Fix, this week, September 29–Oct 2 is “Sex Week” at UNM—a weeklong series of programs for students including “Negotiating Successful Threesomes,” “O-Face Oral” and “BJs and Beyond.” Sex Week is sponsored in part by the university’s Women’s Resource Center. Sex Week also violates the university’s own speech codes, since even the titles of the workshops—and thus any Sex Week promotional materials—are “sexually suggestive.”
And the school gave a spirited defense of Sex Week, pointing to its Freedom of Expression and Dissent policy, which says the “appropriate response” to speech that is “offensive, even abhorrent,” and causes “discomfort” is “speech expressing opposing ideas and continued dialogue, not curtailment of speech.”
Loosely translated from the original Phrench that last bit means, "When we do it, it's a joyous celebration of freedom and sexuality. When you do it, it's grossly offensive behavior." You know, like... this sort of thing:
The women’s magazine Cosmopolitan — famous for articles about fashion and makeup — published an article Wednesday attacking Republicans for a political ad spoofing “Say Yes to the Dress,” a reality TV show about women choosing wedding dresses.
“Is this the most condescending political ad ever?” was the title of the article written by Cosmopolitan senior political writer Jill Filipovic.
Filipovic was not happy with the theme of the video, which she mocked, sarcastically claiming, “It’s for ladies, and ladies love marriage and dress!”
Remember, she writes for a website whose current headlines include “Celebrities wearing things!” and “How to create the perfect date-night makeup.”
But it turns out Cosmopolitan is no stranger to parody videos, either. As National Republican Congressional Committee TV and Radio Director Mollie Young noted on Twitter, just one week prior to Filipovic’s article, comedian Megan MacKay posted on the magazine's site a similarly themed parody about makeup and voting.
MacKay sought to tell readers why young, unmarried women should vote in the midterm elections, and threw in “a few makeup tips along the way.”
Why, oh why won't anyone take women seriously???? Sometimes, the parody just writes itself.
June 07, 2013
Drugs vs. Standards
Sacre bleu!!!! We may have to stop making fun of the Phrench:
From the time their children are born, French parents provide them with a firm cadre—the word means "frame" or "structure." Children are not allowed, for example, to snack whenever they want. Mealtimes are at four specific times of the day. French children learn to wait patiently for meals, rather than eating snack foods whenever they feel like it. French babies, too, are expected to conform to limits set by parents and not by their crying selves. French parents let their babies "cry it out" if they are not sleeping through the night at the age of four months.
French parents, Druckerman observes, love their children just as much as American parents. They give them piano lessons, take them to sports practice, and encourage them to make the most of their talents. But French parents have a different philosophy of discipline. Consistently enforced limits, in the French view, make children feel safe and secure. Clear limits, they believe, actually make a child feel happier and safer—something that is congruent with my own experience as both a therapist and a parent. Finally, French parents believe that hearing the word "no" rescues children from the "tyranny of their own desires." And spanking, when used judiciously, is not considered child abuse in France.
As a therapist who works with children, it makes perfect sense to me that French children don't need medications to control their behavior because they learn self-control early in their lives. The children grow up in families in which the rules are well-understood, and a clear family hierarchy is firmly in place. In French families, as Druckerman describes them, parents are firmly in charge of their kids—instead of the American family style, in which the situation is all too often vice versa.
We have never understood the idea that children can't control themselves. Assuming they're not sick, overtired, or ravenously hungry, even very small children are quite capable of behaving themselves from a very young age.
The thing is, self restraint is a skill like any other. Which means they need considerable practice before they'll be any good at it.
April 29, 2013
Parents, Please Get Over Yourselves
The Blog Princess has been much distracted of late with work insanity and the joyous rites of home ownership: the driveway resurfacing, the whole house power wash, the spring yard cleanup and mulching (you will no doubt be relieved to hear that she narrowly avoided the despicable practice of Volcano Mulching).
Suck Such delights have left little time or energy for boring the assembled villainry into stunned silence with her inane meanderings.
So you can only imagine the bitter glee with which she viewed the latest dispatch from the Narcissistic-Obsessive-Compulsive Parenting crowd. Having successfully convinced most of the country that spanking - a punishment our parents, grandparents, and peers mysteriously survived with no visible signs of Deep Psychological Damage (unless one counts that whole distasteful kitten torturing episode in the second grade... or the human body parts neatly stowed in that oversized freezer tucked under the basement stairs... or the inexplicable addiction to reality TV) - inevitably leads to the ravaging of obscure Asian nations in a manner reminiscent of Genghis Khan, the smart set have now set their minds to eliminating the scourge of time outs:
So there I was last week, perusing a preschool parent handbook, when I stumbled across a curious anti-timeout policy. “Time-out is not an effective form of discipline,” the packet explained. “This focuses on the negative and alienates the child.”
I felt an immediate pang of guilt. I’ve given my almost-2-year-old a handful of timeouts—defined as a brief time away from rewarding stimuli like toys, parents, and friends—for hitting the dog, throwing rocks, and standing on chairs. A few Google searches later, I learned that proponents of attachment parenting advise against timeouts because the interventions give kids “the feeling of being rejected by their parents.” This backlash isn’t even that new—Child magazine published (and Parents magazine republished) an article in 2003 called “Why Time-Out Is Out.”
Have my attempts to raise a good little boy scarred him for life? Or are these anti-punishment policies way overprotective and perhaps even harmful?
Some psychologists do believe that if you practice good “positive discipline” techniques, by stating facts rather than demands, using distraction to steer kids away from danger, and working out solutions as a family, you shouldn’t need timeouts, or at least not very often. And timeouts can be ineffective, psychologically damaging, and make behavioral problems worse. But that’s not because they are inherently dangerous; it’s because so many parents and teachers misunderstand how they should be done. Indeed, plenty of research suggests that timeouts are safe and useful when parents employ them properly and in the right situations. For instance, evidence-based parenting programs, including the internationally implemented Triple-P Positive Parenting Program, recommend timeouts, and such programs have found that the interventions successfully reduce misbehaviors as well as the risk that children will suffer from psychological issues like anxiety and depression. And in its guidance statement on effective discipline, the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that “ignoring, removing, or withholding parent attention to decrease the frequency or intensity of undesirable behaviors” is “especially important in promoting positive child behavior.”
"Pre-school parent handbook"?
When did preschool - hardly a complex endeavor at the best of times - become so complicated that it requires an operating manual? This is the kind of detail that makes us feel like a superannuated geezer who has outlived everyone who might understand the world we grew up in. In our day (she said, brandishing the sternly wagging finger of Age-ist opprobrium), preschools did not have handbooks because the popular consensus held that they were a good way for Junior to ease into the world beyond home for a few hours a week and for Mom to get more done around the house or spend some quality time with younger children. We didn't expect our little darlings to memorize ancient Ghazals in the original Urdu or be exposed to differential Calculus. Rules were fairly simple: no biting or kicking, and no kids still in diapers. Oh, and if your child caused problems or you didn't pay your bill, he or she would be banned for life... or at least until he or she turned 5 and attained the right to attend free public schools.
Having been blessed with progeny in 1979, the Princess entered the estate of motherhood with her head filled with all kinds of romantic nonsense about parenting. Having #1 son at home with a midwife was quickly shot down by the spousal unit, but we found one of the few hospitals in our area that "did Lamaze", signed up for 24 hour rooming in, and gave birth while in the lotus position whilst enveloped in peaceful prana.
OK, that's a total lie.
We did do Lamaze and rooming in (but did not go Full Leboyer, mostly because no one in Norfolk, Virginia had the slightest idea what that was). And the Princess embraced on demand nursing and envisioned parenting as a gentle interlude, during which she would calmly guide her offspring through the vicissitudes of daily life armed with nothing more than sweet reason and an inexhaustible supply of patience.
As it turned out, Number One Son hadn't been reading the same parenting books as his mother.
The red headed little beastie displayed an alarming ignorance of the latest theories on How Children Learn, rudely preferring rigid feeding routines (shudder!) and violating every precept of enlightened child rearing put forth by older and wiser souls. As it turned out, toddlers aren't terribly interested in sweet reason. They'd rather eat the dirt out of Mommy's house plants and pull the TV over on themselves than memorize Baby Einstein flash cards.
And so we improvised.
By the time Number Two Son came along, we had attained the ripe old age of 23. Number One Son had pushed every button, ridden every piece of tippable furniture to the ground at least once, and memorized all the words to The Night Before Christmas and several age-appropriate childhood dittys. The hell with all those parenting books written by so-called experts - we were ready to write our own book. Unfortunately, Number Two Son wasn't a big fan of our hard won parenting philosophy. If you're beginning to sense a trend here, a neatly stuffed marmoset is on its way to you by parcel post.
Number Two Son pretty much confounded every insight his parents had gained from parenting Number One Son. As so it remained during the entire time Heckle and Jeckle were growing up - if Heckle reacted one way, Jeckle could be counted upon to react in the opposite manner. Unless, of course, his parents had counted on him to do this. In that case, the rulebook went out the window and he triangulated.
Having reached the other side, its hard to figure out how much influence parenting style has on children. After 34 years of marriage, I'm still amazed at how often one or the other of us instinctively reacts to disputes in a manner that clearly echoes the very different parenting styles of our own parents. On the otter heiny, I never cease to be amazed at how different my grown sons are from one another. It's almost as though they were raised in different families, under different rules.
I find most modern parenting practices to be no more sensible than the ones I absorbed and then rejected when it became apparent they would not survive contact with the reality that children have their own personalities and agendas. They're not little blank slates, eagerly waiting for our scribbles. What disturbs me most, though, is the idea that children are delicate snowflakes who must never be allowed to experience pressure, disapproval, anger, rejection, failure.
These things are all part of life and if parents have one overarching goal, it is to prepare children to navigate a world in which the vast majority of people they meet have no special affection or regard for them. It's a world in which they will have to compete for jobs, for mates, for resources that are neither infinite nor inexhaustible. Sending children out into such a world with the misguided notion that every person is entitled to unconditional approval and affection (or equal income regardless of the choices they make) seems more an act of cruelty than of love.
What produces such delusional thinking?
April 11, 2013
Knowing the Editorial Staff's oft professed adoration of all things pachydermal, you totally knew we'd be covering this shocking story:
A reward from multiple sources is being offered in the drive-by shooting of an Asian elephant with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
A total of $21,250 is being offered for information leading to the conviction of the responsible person or persons responsible for shooting and injuring the female elephant named Carol on Tuesday while she was in an enclosure outside the BancorpSouth Arena in downtown Tupelo.
The circus has offered $10,000 toward the reward. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the animal-rights group PETA each pitched in $5,000. Crime Stoppers of North Mississippi contributed $1,000 and $250 is coming from former 1st District U.S. Rep. Travis Childers.
Good on them. The pachyderm is a noble and underappreciated beast. Once we got over our outrage at the callous attack on poor Carol the Elephant, we couldn't help thinking of another elephant story:
October 17, 2012
Thought for the Day
A study conducted by Harvard Medical School psychiatrist George Valliant showed that people who “projected,” or blamed others for their misfortunes, were much less able to adjust to the changing events in their lives… In another study, conducted by psychiatrist Leslie Phillips at Worcester State Hospital, it was found that the more people fell into the pattern of blaming others for their problems, the worse off they became in dealing with their life in general.
Explains a lot, doesn't it?
May 31, 2012
On the 8th Day, God Created Roommates!
The above graphic exploded on Facebook this weekend. It shows how many minimum wage hours a worker needs to work in order to be able to afford a two-bedroom unit at “Fair Market Rent” in any given state. The FMR is a figure determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The numbers don’t show any discernible trend aside from perhaps 1) states with high cost of living/rent such as NY, NJ, DC, MD require the most man hours and 2) the minimum wage is too low. The latter, of course, is the point of this graphic.
In what universe is being able to afford a two bedroom apartment some sort of human right?
The Editorial Staff have read a lot of dumb things over the years, but this may well represent the absolute pinnacle of poorly reasoned appeals to emotion. When our two sons graduated from college, they moved out and rented apartments. Son #1 had a full time job and shared his first apartment with another FT worker: his wife.
Son #1 wanted to live in an expensive area. He had several roommates, all with full time jobs.
Our first apartment in the DC area was a one bedroom. It had three occupants: myself, my husband, and our 15 month old son. He slept in a walk in closet. Rents were lower for apartments located farther away from work, but with only one car we decided that the convenience factor outweighed the extra expense.
The idea that anyone is owed his or her own apartment (one they don't have to share with anyone else, which would seem to obviate the need for that 2nd bedroom by the way) is just stunning.
Get a roommate, move to a cheaper area, or get a better job. Sometimes it really is that simple.
April 24, 2012
The media have invented a new class of victims: the underemployed. I guess if everyone's entitled to the well remunerated job of their dreams, it might seem unbearably oppressive to have to start at the bottom like your parents did. Don Surber isn't buying it:
As the Associated Press reported: “While there’s strong demand in science, education and health fields, arts and humanities flounder. Median wages for those with bachelor’s degrees are down from 2000, hit by technological changes that are eliminating mid-level jobs such as bank tellers. Most future job openings are projected to be in lower-skilled positions such as home health aides, who can provide personalized attention as the U.S. population ages.”
Recessions happen. Blame government. Blame business. Blame sunspot activity. My wife and I paid 19½% interest on our home in the mid-1980s. We survived. So will this generation.
Perhaps "underemployed" is the new, "near poor". This is what happens when poor is redefined to mean, "I have a job, a place to live, and food to eat but my next door neighbor has more than I do... therefore social injustice has occurred."
My first job after graduating from college as an adult with some work history was a consulting engagement I worked for free. My husband loaded soda trucks and filled vending machines and set up audio visual displays before going to Marine OCS in 1981.
How were you oppressed by the Evillest 1% in your youth? Share your tales of running capitalist pig-dog oppression in the comments section.
April 19, 2012
Comparative Advantage and Our Terribly Unfair, Sexist Economy
In the Atlantic, Marty Nemko makes the argument that our economy is biased against men:
The 77-cents-on-the-dollars statistic is calculated in a way that is biased against men. For example, while among all physicians, men earn more than women, men are more likely to be in specialties requiring longer training, high-stress, and irregular hours, for example, surgery and cardiology. In contrast, women are more likely to be pediatricians. Despite that bias, across all careers, surveys report that childless women under 30 make more than men. More than 90 percent of workplace deaths, military deaths, and severe workplace injuries (e.g., amputations, black lung disease) occur to men. Such dangerous work justify higher pay for men.
Visit American workplaces, especially major corporations, and you'll find that anti-men practices are not only tolerated but routinely imposed by employers. Women but not men are encouraged to form committees and caucuses to advance their sex's causes in the workplace, often at men's expense. Examples:
• Mentor programs for women only
• Special training for women only
• Fast-track-to-executive position for women only
In honest conversation, most people will agree that, on average, men are more often willing to do the things it takes to get promoted, for example, to make time to take advanced technical courses by forgoing recreation such as sports or shopping. Men are more likely to be willing to move to a God-forsaken place (Montgomery, Alabama, anyone?) for a promotion, and, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to work longer hours.
Now isn't that just like a man?
Seriously, I'm willing to stipulate that there's a very large grain of truth in most of the things Nemko complains about. On the other hand, I've worked for employers in 10 states and have never run into a single mentorship, training, or fast-track-to-executive program limited to women. In fact, it's safe to say that I've never encountered any formal or informal group or practice that limited its membership or benefits to women and I'm pretty sure the reverse is true as well.
Is there bias against men in many areas of the workplace? Sure, but then there is bias against women in other areas. In the aggregate, men and women have different interests and strengths and thus, different comparative advantages in the job market. I'm going to resist the temptation to counter each of Nemko's examples with heart wrenching stories of how terribly, horribly unfair life can be for working women because I believe his arguments should be considered on their merits without playing tit for tat, IYKWIMAITYD.
I have no real quarrel with the argument that government shouldn't be placing its finger on gender balancing scale. Mere contemplation of the long list of well intended social engineering debacles the government has thrown taxpayer dollars at over the last few decades is enough to send Powerless Men and the Helpless Women They Oppress Simply By Existing straight for the nearest liquor cabinet. In the 1960s, Congress decided to "help" poor black families and after millions of redistributed tax dollars and decades of angst-ridden navel gazing we got 70% illegitimacy rates and dysfunctional homes for our pains. This kind of change makes the status quo look downright utopian by comparison.
Over 4 decades of Warring on Poverty with nary an exit date or strategy in sight is less an advertisement for the efficacy of the Nanny State than an object lesson in the power of unintended consequences. What's missing in all of this hand wringing and selective anecdotary is any respect for the resiliency of the human spirit.
50 years ago, the shoe was most definitely on the other foot with regard to workplace gender bias. Women who wanted to work struggled with significant disadvantages in an environment where men controlled most powerful positions in industry, the legal system, and government. Feminism has managed to narrow the achievement gap between men and women and - in some cases - has actually flipped the balance.
On the right, bashing feminists has become de rigeur and to be fair, some of the loonier radical feminists make the temptation nearly impossible to resist. But like any knee-jerk reaction, reflexive feminist bashing begins to sound like responsive prayers during 11 o'clock morning prayer:
"Lord, for eyeless shrimp blindly bumbling about in oceans the Obamessiah promised to heal, we pray."
"Deliver us from man-hating FemiNazis and their Hateful, Man-hating Hatitudinous Ways!"
"...for 15 year old boys whose beautiful and natural right to consequence free sex has been harshed by nightmare visions of Planned Parenthood v. Casey..."
"Deliver us from man-hating FemiNazis and their Hateful, Man-hating Hatitudinous Ways!"
"...for women, chained to their desks by oppressive feminist anti-stereotypes..."
"O God of our
Fathers Proudly Genderless Forebears, deliver us from man-hating FemiNazis and their Hateful, Man-hating Hatitudinous Ways!"
Life is unfair to so many people in so many ways. Do you have an idea for fixing all of this that doesn't involve more government and more taxes and more unintended consequences? Great. Let's hear it.
Now excuse me while I make my own damned sandwich :p
April 14, 2012
Another Day, Another Victim: Perverse Conservatism Edition
James Taranto is upset. Very upset. It seems that teenaged boys are in serious danger of behaving responsibly, and [I'll bet you never saw this one coming] feminists are to blame:
An odd recent New York Times op-ed by sociologist Amy Schalet touts the rise of, as the headline puts it, "Caring, Romantic American Boys." Schalet, who studied American high school sophomores (along with Dutch ones) for a forthcoming book, reports that "boys [are] behaving more 'like girls' in terms of when they lose their virginity," by which she means they "are becoming more careful and more romantic about their first sexual experiences."
Maybe her book will flesh out that claim, but in her op-ed the boys sound downright terrified: "American boys often said sex could end their life as they knew it. After a condom broke, one worried: 'I could be screwed for the rest of my life.' Another boy said he did not want to have sex yet for fear of becoming a father before his time."
If you're anything like this mother of two grown sons, you may well be confused. I know I am, because during the many talks I had with my sons during their teen years, the one point I tried to drive home to them is that sex isn't a game. It's an adult activity with adult consequences. If you fail to use birth control (or if, as happened to this author, you did use birth control but it fails) you will find yourself, as I did at the ripe old age of 19, sitting in a doctor's office as he tells you that you are now the proud carrier of a human life. "Life as you know it" will indeed end.
Taranto's disquiet is even more bizarre when you stop to realize that the boys he wants to free from the onerous responsibility of thinking about real world consequences are only 15-17 years old. Oh, the humanity! I'm not sure I care to live in a world where 15-17 year old boys can't have consequence free sex any more. Should this destructive trend catch on, we are in serious danger of living in a society where people actually think before acting. Or worse, take responsibility for their own behavior!
Question for the ages: didn't conservatives used to think personal responsibility was a good thing for everyone? Or is it only some people who should act responsibly? This seems to be a central theme in Taranto's writing of late. In an earlier column, he identifies a particularly nasty trend: females who want to be educated and productive members of society:
As Charles Murray shows in his new book, "Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010," marriage has declined much less sharply among the educated and affluent than among the so-called working class. But it has still declined, and it can be expected to decline more absent a reversal of the trend toward greater female education and accomplishment.
How can this disturbing trend of education and achievement be reversed before it destroys us all? Tellingly, Taranto doesn't say. Perhaps women could voluntarily limit themselves, so as not to unfairly outshine males who have chosen not to show up for the game? Implicit in Taranto's arguments is a refrain that underlies the Left's inequality narrative: people who work harder, achieve more, or outearn others have done something vaguely wrong and unfair. When inequality happens, the onus is not on low achievers to aim higher or work harder. Rather, it is the high achievers who must level the playing field by lowering their goals and sharing their ill gotten gains with the ambition-challenged.
Once you accept this perverse formulation, it seems only natural that the solution to the problem of "overachieving" females is for them to lower their sights and allow the disheartened men they are victimizing to catch up.
By conflating fear of consequences with fear of girls or sex itself (they're not the same thing) Taranto manages to make rational and responsible decision-making look like pathology. But just in case you still think the world would be a better place if teenagers considered the consequences of their actions and learned to control their sex drives (a technique called "abstinence"), Taranto has another shocker for you:
At the same time, there is good reason for males (men as well as boys) to be more fearful of sex than females. Contemporary reproductive technology and law place all the burden for unwanted pregnancy on them.
All the burden? In what universe do bearing, supporting, and raising a child, or having an abortion, (these are the consequences of unplanned pregnancy for females) constitute "none of the burden"? Let's take his arguments point by point:
Between the pill and abortion, women have complete control over the reproductive process. They can avoid or end any unwanted pregnancy, and the man involved has no say in the matter.
If we accept that 100% of the responsibility for preventing pregnancy rests with the woman, this might be true. But it takes two people to make a baby, and both can use birth control. Only by ignoring the ability to use condoms (which, in the case of unmarried men and women, happens to be the ONLY way to prevent transmission of STDs) can one say that men have "no control".
In Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), the U.S. Supreme Court went so far as to hold that a married woman has the constitutional right to abort her husband's child without even telling him.
Is Taranto seriously suggesting that teenagers, who aren't known for thinking about even obvious consequences like pregnancy or STDs, are factoring the outcome of Planned Parenthood v. Casey into their decision making process? Our public schools must be in better shape than I thought.
A woman's "reproductive rights" also include the right to carry a pregnancy to term.
How can we fix this gender injustice? Perhaps teenaged boys who choose not to use birth control could sue to force their partners to have abortions... you know, to make things more "fair"? One expects to see this kind of consequence shifting rhetoric from the Obama administration. To see it in the Wall Street Journal is mind boggling.
The crucial point here is that while the decision belongs entirely to her, in the event that a child is born the law assigns financial responsibility to the male involved.
Actually, though one would never know it from his essay, the law assigns financial responsibility to BOTH parents.
That is what the boy in her study means when he worries about being "screwed for the rest of my life." Short of sterilization, the only way for a male to be sure of avoiding this fate is to abstain from sex.
It's hard to tell where Taranto is coming from here. A young woman who becomes pregnant and keeps the child is hardly getting off scot-free. Her life will be irrevocably changed. Not only will she bear financial responsibility (hopefully shared, though Taranto seems to think this terribly unfair) for a child, but she will have to raise the child.
The invisible character in this drama is the unborn child. Perhaps "it" would be better off just being aborted? It seems presumptuous of the unborn to expect both parents to share some belated responsibility for an act that changed not one, but three lives. The cheeky things.
One thing is certain in all of this: responsibility is dangerous. But worse, it may well be contagious:
Since most people agree that teenagers should abstain from sex anyway, isn't the trend Schalet notes a healthy one? Not necessarily. After all, if adults abstain from sex too, mankind is doomed:
Taranto has us there: a society of responsible adults strikes us as something greatly to be feared. If such a thing were to come to pass, who would need government bailouts and intrusive social engineering programs?
Update: Welcome, Michelle Malkin readers!
March 16, 2012
Women As Helpless Victims
At the beginning of this week I wrote about the disturbing embrace by some on the right of the "men as helpless victims" meme.
My point, in that post, is that it's problematic when conservatives use arguments that run counter to their professed beliefs to score rhetorical points. There's a way to point out the hypocrisy of your opponents, and it's fairly simple: apply their arguments to a situation where, if we all played by their rules, the outcome would be unacceptable to them. Then point out that if you only support Policy X when it favors your team, you don't really support Policy X. What you really support, is any policy that allows you to win.
The affirmative action for men suggestion in the "Men as Victims" fails on two counts:
1. Conservatives have always argued that affirmative action doesn't really help the intended beneficiaries. But more importantly,
2. Suggesting that liberals are hypocritical for not extending affirmative action to men when that happens to be exactly what they're doing just makes you look ignorant. And arguably, stupid.
Over at Firebrand Blog, Elise skillfully points out exactly what is wrong with the victim narrative in Sandra Fluke's testimony. Fluke has been relentlessly criticized on the right for a lot of things she didn't actually say. Such willfully ignorant exaggerations and distortions make it far too easy to dismiss legitimate objections to what she did say. Responding to Fluke's parade of heart rending anecdotes, Elise deftly exposes what should have been seen as an inherently self refuting narrative: women as smart, liberated, fully equal adults who - despite being admitted to an elite law school - apparently cannot decipher an insurance policy or (even more amusingly, considering the skills required of a licensed attorney) advocate for their own legal rights:
She is powerless to force the pharmacist to give her something she can’t pay for. She is powerless to force her insurance company to pay for something for which it did not contract and she did not pay. She is powerless to force Georgetown to offer a different insurance policy.
However, she was not powerless to read and understand the conditions of the insurance policy she signed up for. She was not powerless to choose a school other than Georgetown, one which would offer the kind of insurance that is so crucial to her. She was not powerless to understand that Georgetown’s insurance policy would not cover birth control pills and decide to postpone attending for a year while working at a crummy job and living in a crummy apartment with three roommates so she could save enough money to cover expenses when she did attend Georgetown.
Furthermore, she is not powerless to decide to refrain from sex until she can afford birth control pills. She is not powerless to do research on whether there are cheaper forms of contraception, perhaps even cheaper birth control pills. She is not powerless to ask her sexual partner (or partners - it is absolutely none of my business whether we’re talking singular or plural) to provide some form of contraception or to chip in for her purchase of birth control pills. And she is not powerless to leave school and take a job which will allow her to purchase items she wants to purchase.
To say, “Women like her have no choice but to go without contraception” is to make an intelligent, ambitious, hard-working, disciplined adult into a helpless pawn in life. I’m extremely uncomfortable with the idea that women have stopped waiting to be rescued by Prince Charming, only to begin waiting to be rescued by Uncle Sam. How about if we rescue ourselves? Or, better yet, let’s stop thinking that the very state of being female means we need to be rescued by anyone or anything. Instead, let’s start thinking in terms of what options we have, of making our own decisions and living with them, of taking care of ourselves. It’s like Fluke is living in some bizarre version of a 1950’s sitcom where wifey can’t take care of herself financially and must cajole hubby into doing so. Not everything retro is good.
If young women at an elite law school aren't smart or capable enough to read an insurance policy or negotiate with and defend their own rights, what client in his or her right mind would hire a female attorney to navigate the American legal system on their behalf?
Fluke's victim narrative directly undercuts the image she wants us to have of women as smart, independent, and fully capable. If you care about whether your cause is gaining traction with the public, making arguments that directly undermine it is probably not the best way to be the change you seek.