Friday Night Fun and Culture: Judy Collins

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A Supreme Violation

From The New York Times:

Republicans want to ram Kavanaugh through no matter how many women object.

By Michelle Goldberg
Oct. 4, 2018

In the end, it didn’t really matter how many women begged them not to do this, how many times women said slow down, stop, please, no. As of this writing, it seems inevitable that Republicans in the Senate are going to shove Brett Kavanaugh down our throats. According to polls, a majority of American women believe that Christine Blasey Ford told the truth when she said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her. But the United States Senate is run by Republican men, and thanks to them, Kavanaugh will most likely soon be on the Supreme Court, deciding, among other things, how much control women will be permitted over our own bodies.

The restarted F.B.I. background check that seemed, a week ago, like a merciful concession to decency has instead been a cover-up. Agents didn’t even question Blasey or Kavanaugh. It’s not clear if they interviewed any of the more than 20 corroborating witnesses named by Deborah Ramirez, who claimed a drunken, aggressive Kavanaugh thrust his genitals into her face when they were students at Yale. The New Yorker reported that witnesses who tried to contact the F.B.I. were ignored; some ended up submitting unsolicited statements to the bureau.

Ultimately, according to the White House, the F.B.I. interviewed a total of nine people in its new review. Based on what they said, Republican leaders have declared that Blasey’s story remains uncorroborated. They’ve made plans for a procedural vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation on Friday, and expect a floor vote on Saturday.

The behavior of Senate Republicans is not particularly surprising. Time and again, they’ve clucked disapprovingly about Donald Trump’s vulgarity while eagerly carrying out his agenda. What has truly shaken me is the zeal with which Republican officeholders and conservative commentators, some of whom I’d thought better of, have come to Kavanaugh’s defense. Something in the spectacle of a highly credentialed Republican man nearly being denied his life’s goal on nothing but the word of a couple of women has brought out the inner Trump in a lot of people.

Conservatives will say that they’re protecting an innocent man unfairly accused, not standing up for white male impunity as a principle. They either don’t believe Blasey, or they think that, in the absence of further proof, Kavanaugh should be given the benefit of the doubt, which in this case means a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. They think they’re the ones who are being fair and judicious. “One side is standing on evidence,” tweeted Commentary’s Noah Rothman. “The other on intuition and sentiment.”

In fact, both sides are standing on intuition — about who is credible, and which sorts of stories ring true. Evaluating what Blasey said — and what Ramirez has reportedly said, since she wasn’t called to testify — is necessarily subjective. But there is clear, substantial evidence that Kavanaugh has not been truthful throughout this process. Conservatives, in their anger, won’t reckon honestly with this evidence.

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The Matthew Shepard murder — 20 years later

Twenty years later and nearly every week.  Actually were it not for dead naming probably every week brings nes of another murder of a trans-woman.  Most often a trans-woman of color, oten a sex worker and therefore her life deemed less valuable.

When will murders of trans-women create the same wave of outrage that the murder of Matthew Sheppard create.  When will plays be written.  When will people become aware of the daily acts of violence both physical and emotional that trans-folks endure in our daily lives.

From The Dallas Voice:

David Webb
Oct 5, 2018

Small, effeminate, friendly and probably gullible, the attractive, blond 19-year-old teenager with the engaging smile never stood a chance when two maniacal thugs targeted him that night 20 years ago for robbery and worse in a crime that would rock a city, a state and the nation.

This month — October 2018 — marks the 20th anniversary of the murder of Matthew Shepard, a former University of Wyoming college student who became the face of anti-LGBTQ hate crime after the news of his grisly murder in 1998 spread internationally.

But while he never knew anything about the controversy surrounding him in his last few last days of life, he truly did not die in vain.

The city of Laramie and the University of Wyoming are preparing to commemorate the anniversary of the openly-gay student’s death with a series of events, includinge a performance of “Considering Matthew Shepard” by Grammy-winning choral group Conspirare at Laramie High School Theater Oct. 6, the anniversary of the day Shepard was found, tied like a scarecrow to a fence and barely alive.

In announcing the plans, Laramie Mayor Andi Summerville said the international attention drawn to Laramie in the wake of Shepard’s death “rocked this community … absolutely to its fundamental core.” The mayor was 17 at the time of Shepard’s death, and she described the experience of living through that time and revisiting it today as “surreal.”

During the trials of the two men accused of his murder, the world learned that the killers pretended to be gay in order to lure Shepard in and rob him. After meeting him in the college-town bar and enticing him to leave, the men pistol-whipped him, stole his cash and credit cards, tied him to a wooden pasture fence and left him dying in the bitter mountain cold. Shepard died of brain injuries, never having woken from the coma caused by the attack, on Oct. 12, 1998, after six days on life-support.

As Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen notes, Shepard’s death shook the nation alert to the reality of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes. Cohen’s organization is the pre-eminent chronicler of hate crimes and hate groups in the U.S.

“Just as the murder of Emmett Till [a 14-year-old black youth who was pistol-whipped, mutilated and tossed in a river in Mississippi in 1955] awakened America to the reality of racial violence, so the murder of Matthew Shepard awakened our country to the reality of violence against the LGBTQ community,” Cohen said of the importance of Shepard’s case.
Like Till, whose killers got an acquittal from an all-white jury despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary because Till had allegedly insulted a white woman, Shepard in death inspired a revolution in attitudes toward anti-LGBTQ discrimination and violence.

The outrage spawned by Till’s death among blacks and sympathetic whites precipitated the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott four months after his funeral. Similarly, Shepard posthumously became an icon, and the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. (a black man killed by three white supremacists in Jasper, Texas, in June 1998) Hate Crime Act was passed by Congress in 2009, 11 years after the two men’s murders.

The Matthew Shepard Foundation, with the support of his parents, Judy and Dennis, keeps the story and the lesson to be learned from his death alive today. After his murder, the Tectonic Theater Project in New York City went to Laramie to learn about the impact of the crime on the city. The group created The Laramie Project, a play about the heinous anti-LGBTQ hate crime.

The foundation bearing the victim’s name funds the presentation of the play across America, and the nonprofit group provides ongoing media resources and other information services to combat anti-LGBTQ hate crimes.

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The New Smear Against Transgender Men

From Slate:

Anti-trans advocates claim we’re weak and gullible—like girls.


This post is part of Outward, Slate’s home for coverage of LGBTQ life, thought, and culture. Read more here.

Until recently, most attacks on the transgender community attempted to stoke fears of transgender women. By portraying trans women as unnaturally and dangerously masculine—imposters at best and sexual predators at worst—anti–trans rights groups have sought to drum up opposition to trans people in public bathrooms and use anti-trans sentiment as a wedge against Democrats. Trans men have proved more difficult to demonize, since cis men don’t generally fear men with a transition history in their bathrooms or locker rooms. So, for the most part, they have been ignored.

This indifference is starting to change. Anti-trans propagandists have begun to focus more on trans men and boys—perhaps in reaction to the success in court of transgender boys like Gavin Grimm, Ashton Whitaker, and Max Brennan, each of whom won the right to equal treatment at school. But rather than painting trans men as predators, anti-trans activists portray us as victims, led astray by peers and fundamentally incapable of knowing our own minds.

Ironically, the attitude that trans men are really damaged, naïve, easily led women seems to have begun on websites with an ostensibly feminist ethos, such as 4thWaveNow and Transgender Trend. It subsequently crossed into the mainstream with the publication of a paper by Lisa Littman of Brown University in August. Littman studied the attitudes and beliefs of parents who frequented anti-trans websites and had a child between the ages of 11 and 27 who, they believed, had falsely claimed to be transgender. A total of 82.8 percent of these parents reported that their child was assigned female at birth. And although Littman referred to the children as adolescents and young adults, or AYAs, she repeatedly quoted parents who use female pronouns and refer to them as their daughters. Sympathetic media accounts have echoed this language, referring to the kids under discussion as daughters and girls, and echoing the parents’ belief that media and peers who promote trans acceptance are turning these “daughters” into trans men.

“If your teenage daughter suddenly declares herself transgender, should you assume she’s mature enough to make decisions that will permanently affect her health, fertility, and future?” fretted Jillian Kay Melchior in the Wall Street Journal in one typical response on the right. In another, the Economist’s article on Littman’s research concluded with a warning that “squashing research risks injuring the health of an unknown number of troubled adolescent girls.”

We’ve learned that no matter how young trans girls are, they’re never too young or too vulnerable for the anti-trans camp to portray them as dangerous and predatory, too much of a risk to cis girls to be treated with dignity and respect. Now, it seems, no matter how old transgender men are—remember, Littman’s study included an adult of 27 years old!—we’re not old enough to make health decisions for ourselves, or know our own minds. This creepy suggestion of susceptibility to peer influence in trans boys suggests that trans men must not be allowed to access medical treatment for gender dysphoria and that any act of advocacy on behalf of trans youth has the power to poison young minds, turning weak-willed girls into trans boys.

That is incredibly dangerous and also sexist as hell. The stereotype that women are unable to reason or know their own minds isn’t new. It was used to reject women’s suffrage, on the basis that it was useless to give to women the vote, since they’d only vote however their husbands told them to. (By this logic, married men had two votes, an unfair advantage over single men.) Women were kept from the workplace under the theory that their biological and emotional weakness made them unsuited for labor, and arguments about women’s emotional instability were used to prevent them from seeking public office. Now, these same stereotypes about the dimness of women have been repurposed to suggest that transgender men shouldn’t be believed when we speak about the truths of our own lives and that we must be protected at all costs from the freedom to determine our own paths.

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A Woman Can Never Be Likable Enough

From The Nation:

From an early age, we’re taught to please men. What if we got angry instead?

By Katha Pollitt
October 2, 2018

I really thought we had come farther. Even Barbie says it: Girls can do anything. After all, we now hold the majority of bachelors’ degrees, occupy half the seats in medical schools and law schools, run businesses and universities, and sit in Congress. There are even three of us on the Supreme Court. But if you ask why men still run the world, the answer you’ll get back isn’t sexual harassment, male violence, or discrimination—the mere mention of which is deeply unfair, to men. The explanation instead is still some variation of the one Lisa Belkin gave in The New York Times Magazine in 2003, when she profiled a bunch of Yale alumnae who had given up their big-time jobs to become stay-at-home wives: because we don’t want to. We’d rather be moms and have work-life balance and do yoga and make cookies. Remember how outraged people pretended to be when Hillary Clinton said she would rather practice her profession, which was law, than bake cookies? Those damn cookies. It’s not the baking that matters, it’s that you feel you have to do it: to be a good woman, to prove that even if you’re a brain surgeon you’re still just a mom at heart.

These are the rules of The Patriarchy that the #MeToo movement has exposed: the education, extracurriculars, service projects, credentials—they were never what being a girl was all about. Being a girl is about pleasing men: What they think of you and want from you and how you negotiate that in a world that does not want to hear about the darker side of what that can mean. You can be a world-class athlete, like those Olympic gymnasts, and still be molested by your doctor—and nothing will be done about it for years. You can be fantastically talented and lose your career if you don’t play along with Harvey Weinstein or Les Moonves. You can get a unionized factory job with decent pay and still be groped and insulted by both your boss and your fellow workers. You can get straight As and a great job and still feel you have to give your date a blow job because he expects it, and it just seems simpler that way—and maybe safer, too. You wouldn’t want him to think you were a tease or a bitch. Because from the moment you were born, you were told in a thousand ways that men liking you was the real measure of your value in the world. And without even realizing you were doing it, you learned to make yourself likable. To attract men, to disarm them, to manage them, to comfort them.

This for me is the meaning of the Senate Judiciary Committee testimony by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Whatever else a woman is—a PhD, a mother, a victim of a sex crime—the most important thing is that she be likable: attractive, relatable, unthreatening, nice. And Dr. Ford was so nice! Pretty—but not too pretty—educated, upper middle class, white, with glasses and a husband and kids and a house. She was just emotional enough—not detached, not “hysterical”—to conform to expectations about what a woman should look like when she tells the truth about being assaulted. She tried so hard to put those old reptiles on the committee at ease: joking in a self-deprecating way about her craving for caffeine, explaining the brain science behind her memories, as if they were all in the classroom together trying to figure out why a woman might remember that the two men assaulting her had laughed, but not remember how she got home that day.

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This Is the Only Story Now

From Common Dreams:

by Abby Zimet,
Wednesday, October 03, 2018

More and more sentient beings are now abandoning the Kavanaugh debacle. Over 650 law professors have condemned his “lack of judicial temperament” – aka dry-drunk shrieking, crying and attacking his questioners – as disqualifying for any court position, also any job at Burger King. Also bailing are former law clerks and law school classmates, a former roommate who slams his “contempt for the truth” and pointedly notes, “We are deciding if a man is suited to judge others,” and Brookings fellow Benjamin Wittes, who initially praised ole Bart as “a thoroughly decent and honorable person (and) not a liar,” but recently decried his testimony as “an unprecedentedly partisan outburst…which was raw, undisguised, naked, and conspiratorial,” also disqualifying. And over 600 female Yale alumnae signed a letter of support for Deborah Ramirez and Christine Ford, citing their “shared experience” of Yale’s misogyny.

On Wednesday, the National Council of Churches, representing over 40 million people and 38 Christian denominations, also called for his nomination to be withdrawn, citing his behavior and “political record.” And a new poll found opposition to him has grown by 4 points – a number likely larger now that the Times’ unearthed a crude letter to his bros on their plans for 1982’s Beach Week in which he sounds like every other jerky entitled high school boy wanting to get laid, never mind all that ostensible church-going and service-project-boasting. “I think we are unanimous that any girls we can get to stay there are welcomed with open…” he sneers. Later, he helpfully suggests someone should “warn the neighbors that we’re loud, obnoxious drunks, with prolific pukers among us.”

The fact the public tide is turning against a right-wing hack who’s also an entitled asshole, a serial liar and a blackout sexual assaulter is welcome news. It may or may not have any bearing on the outcome. And it still barely makes a dent in our ongoing horror and rage at Tuesday’s abomination that was our vile pig of a “president” mocking a sexual assault survivor as his mindless, enabling buffoons guffawed. We know we’ve seen many low points, but Jesus. Those ugly, braying faces. In their acquiescence they are the guilty bystanders everywhere – the good Germans, the lynching apologists, the white racists who defiantly insist all lives matter, the lackeys and bootlickers without whom Trump would not survive.

But he does. There he stood, writes Charles Pierce, a “hopeless, vicious buffoon” and a searing snapshot of “where we are as a nation at this moment in history,” the end result of a civic disengagement that has “allowed our republic to fall into the hands of a sociopath…an empty man who feels nothing but his own imaginary greatness, and who cannot find in himself the decency simply to shut the fuck up.” Still, writes Connie Schultz of the ugly scene and cackling crowds, “Millions of women are not fooled.” On “these men screeching like neutered roosters (in) their animosity and privilege,” she says, We have known men like this all our lives. They are as common as mud after a hard rain. Our memories are long, our resolve unshakable…We will prevail. And we will vote.”

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