Bari Weiss | Real Time with Bill Maher

Celebrate Your Kid’s Transition. Don’t Grieve It.

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/18/opinion/sunday/gender-transition-death-grief.html

We didn’t die.

By

Shortly before my gender assignment surgery in 2002, my father told me that he was grieving the loss of his first-born son. My first impulse was to comfort him. We talked about his feelings one afternoon and I reassured him that he wasn’t losing me. I thought this was my duty; after all, he had supported my transition, defending me against bigoted relatives (even as he stumbled over my pronouns and told me I needed to be less argumentative if I planned to live as a woman).

Still, I counted myself lucky that he and other members of my immediate family didn’t reject me, which an estimated 50 percent of trans people have experienced. So I listened, even as his words were tough for me to hear. He lamented that I could no longer bring honor to our Filipino family or be his rightful heir — gender expectations I couldn’t fulfill and had grown to resent.

It was also hard to listen to because I was dealing with the losses of real relationships of my own: my then-partner, close friends, work colleagues. But I couldn’t tell him or the rest of my family this because I didn’t want to lose their tenuous support.

I’ve heard other trans people tell similar stories of absorbing their loved ones’ grief, of seeing the depiction of such grief in media, of having the eerie feeling that they are providing solace to people who mourned as though they had died.

There was the trans man whose parents continued to display pictures of him as a beautiful girl all around their house, or the trans woman who described how her transition was a celebration for her but was a funeral for her wife. There are personal essays, podcast episodes and articles that focus on the reactions of spouses, partners and family members of trans people grieving over their transitions.

What is often left unspoken is that a trans person is expected to provide emotional support through this grieving process. My father has repeatedly said I should always be grateful he supported me when other parents wouldn’t. Yet I’ve come to find it deeply unfair that trans people are often left with the burden of assuaging their loved ones’ grief.

Not only does this expectation posit that being transgender is a trans person’s fault, but it also fails to account for the fact that transitioning is likely to be many times more difficult for the trans person than for any loved one. Most important, grief as a reaction to transition is a form of transphobia; it reduces a person’s very being to their gender, and reveals that a loved one cares more about a phantom image than for the trans person they supposedly love, who is right in front of them.

We often have to tolerate these expressions of grief, knowing well that we would not receive the same level of empathy for our struggles, because we live in a world that affirms the feelings of cisgender people while rejecting our own.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/18/opinion/sunday/gender-transition-death-grief.html

Smashing the patriarchy: why there’s nothing natural about male supremacy

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/nov/02/smashing-the-patriarchy-why-theres-nothing-natural-about-male-supremacy

Psychologists such as Jordan Peterson argue patriarchal society is the ‘natural order’, but it is a relatively new development.


Sat 2 Nov 2019

Fathers are happier, less stressed and less tired than mothers, finds a study from the American Time Use Survey. Not unrelated, surely, is the regular report that mothers do more housework and childcare than fathers, even when both parents work full time. When the primary breadwinner is the mother versus the father, she also shoulders the mental load of family management, being three times more likely to handle and schedule their activities, appointments, holidays and gatherings, organise the family finances and take care of home maintenance, according to Slate, the US website. (Men, incidentally, are twice as likely as women to think household chores are divided equally.) In spite of their outsized contributions, full-time working mothers also feel more guilt than full-time working fathers about the negative impact on their children of working. One argument that is often used to explain the anxiety that working mothers experience is that it – and many other social ills – is the result of men and women not living “as nature intended”. This school of thought suggests that men are naturally the dominant ones, whereas women are naturally homemakers.

But the patriarchy is not the “natural” human state. It is, though, very real, often a question of life or death. At least 126 million women and girls around the world are “missing” due to sex-selective abortions, infanticide or neglect, according to United Nations Population Fund figures. Women in some countries have so little power they are essentially infantilised, unable to travel, drive, even show their faces, without male permission. In Britain, with its equality legislation, two women are killed each week by a male partner, and the violence begins in girlhood: it was reported last month that one in 16 US girls was forced into their first experience of sex. The best-paid jobs are mainly held by men; the unpaid labour mainly falls to women. Globally, 82% of ministerial positions are held by men. Whole fields of expertise are predominantly male, such as physical sciences (and women garner less recognition for their contributions – they have received just 2.77% of the Nobel prizes for sciences).

According to a variety of high-profile figures (mainly male, mainly psychologists), bolstered by professorships and no shortage of disciples, there are important biological reasons for why men and women have different roles and status in our society. Steven Pinker, for instance, has argued that men prefer to work with “things”, whereas women prefer to work with “people”. This, he said, explains why more women work in the (low-paid) charity and healthcare sector, rather than getting PhDs in science. According to Pinker, “The occupation that fits best with the ‘people’ end of the continuum is director of a community services organisation. The occupations that fit best with the ‘things’ end are physicist, chemist, mathematician, computer programmer, and biologist.”

Others deny societal sexism even exists, insisting that the gender roles we see are based on cognitive differences – spoiler: men are more intelligent. “The people who hold that our culture is an oppressive patriarchy, they don’t want to admit that the current hierarchy might be predicated on competence,” Jordan Peterson has said, for instance. His reasoning suggests that women would be happier not railing against it but instead observing their traditional gender roles. Such theories have been demolished by a range of scholars, including neuroscientist Gina Rippon and psychologist Cordelia Fine.

There are certainly biological differences between men and women, from their sexual anatomy to hormones. Yet even this isn’t as clear cut as it seems. For instance, around one in 50 people may be “intersex” with some sort of atypical chromosomal or hormonal feature – that’s about the same as the proportion of redheads. Men’s brains are on the whole slightly larger than women’s, and scans reveal some differences in the size and connectedness of specific brain regions, such as the hippocampus, in large samples of men and women.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/nov/02/smashing-the-patriarchy-why-theres-nothing-natural-about-male-supremacy

Our Hitler, Our Nazis

From Political Orphans:  https://www.politicalorphans.com/our-hitler-our-nazis/

By

Back in the earliest days of the Internet, Mike Godwin made a pithy observation. “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” In other words, if an argument lasts long enough someone will eventually make a reference to Hitler. It came to be known as Godwin’s Law.

This tendency to use Nazi references as a terminal point in an argument was first observed by Leo Strauss back in 1953. He called it reductio ad Hitlerum. Anything with the most tendentious connection to the Nazis was tainted by contact, without regard to merit. If Hitler used a toothbrush, then dental hygiene must be suspect. This created an almost irresistible urge in a debate setting to compare an opponent to Hitler. Nazi comparisons were so overused that they became a joke.

Times have changed and no one’s laughing anymore. In August 2017, Mike Godwin, the father of Godwin’s Law, sent this Tweet:

Mike Godwin

 @sfmnemonic
By all means, compare these shitheads to Nazis. Again and again. I’m with you.

Comparisons between present-day politics and the fascism of the mid-20th century are no longer abstract or esoteric. Liberal democracies are facing an existential threat from a new generation of authoritarians borrowing old, discredited ideas. But is it accurate to characterize that threat as “fascist,” and if so, why does it matter? Is Trump our Hitler and are his followers our Nazis, and what response would that conclusion require?

Reaching a sincere and persuasive answer to this question has to start with a set of standards. First we must establish a definition for fascism, of which Nazism is merely our most familiar manifestation, then compare it to our regime. To do so we have to perform some translation across time and cultures. As Robert Paxton, one of our premier modern scholars of fascism explained, new waves of fascists don’t just “dust off their swastikas.” The movement evolves to adapt to changing circumstances. Finally, we must ask the most harrowing question of all, what do the results of this comparison mean for us?

What is Fascism?

According to historian Robert Paxton, “Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victim-hood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”

A search for fascist exemplars usually starts with Mussolini or Hitler, but the earliest roots of the movement are found in the US, starting in the Reconstruction Era South and continuing with our later anti-immigrant hysterias. The Nazis borrowed their race laws almost word for word from Jim Crow Laws in the Southern states. In Mein Kampf, Hitler praised America’s race-based immigration exclusions that barred entry to “inferior” races:

Continue reading at:  https://www.politicalorphans.com/our-hitler-our-nazis/

A Gay Man Was Sentenced to Die By a Jury Tainted with Antigay Bias.

Tell me again how I am wrong to call right wing Christians and Republicans Nazi scum.

From Lambda Legal:  https://www.lambdalegal.org/blog/20191105_lambda-legal-decries-rhines-execution?fbclid=IwAR0vYt82mFzf6_DI_TtoBGIjHDTnr-UMt_MJbODJuA-bKz3wn8OXGnczsHo

By Lambda Legal
November 5, 2019

Last night, Charles Rhines, a South Dakota gay man, was put to death by lethal injection after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a final motion that would have allowed Rhines to bring new evidence to the Court showing that antigay bias may have motivated the jury to sentence him to death. Recently, it was discovered that jurors suggested that sentencing Mr. Rhines to life in prison with other men would be “sending him where he wants to go.”

Following the news of Rhines’s tragic execution, Ethan Rice, Lambda Legal Fair Courts Project Senior Attorney, made the following statement:

“No person in our society should be put to death. Cases where bias is a factor in jury decision-making show exactly why the death penalty is unjust and should not be maintained in our society.

“Mr. Rhines’s case represents one of the most extreme forms anti-LGBT bias can take. It’s evident that the he was sentenced to death because he was a gay man. We are deeply troubled that the court chose not to review his case today when it is clear that the constitutional right to a fair trial must include whether jury deliberations involved bias.

“If our legal system allows antigay bias in jury deliberations, the integrity of our entire court system is undermined. The death penalty is an irreversible and harsh misuse of government power. When it is applied in a biased manner, courts should take every possible opportunity to correct that wrong. In this case, no court has ever reviewed the evidence of antigay bias that occurred during jury deliberations in Mr. Rhines’s sentencing.”

Richard Saenz, Senior Attorney and the Criminal Justice and Police Misconduct Strategist:

“Lambda Legal opposes the death penalty precisely because we deal with the legal system’s fallibility and the effects of bias on court decisions every day. We are saddened by Charles Rhines’s death, and we will continue to fight for fair courts, push for more safeguards in the legal system to preserve the courts and weed out jury bias and discrimination against LGBT people and everyone living with HIV.”

Background

Last year, Lambda Legal and five other civil rights organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief following the discovery of comments from jurors suggesting that sentencing Mr. Rhines to life in prison with other men would be “sending him where he wants to go.”

The brief provided information about the long and painful history of discrimination against lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in the United States and asked the court to issues a certificate of appealability to Mr. Rhines to allow him to present evidence of juror bias.”

The ‘Glass Floor’ Is Keeping America’s Richest Idiots At The Top

From Huffington Post:  https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-glass-floor-is-keeping-americas-richest-idiots-at-the-top_n_5d9fb1c9e4b06ddfc516e076

Elites are finding more ways to ensure that their children never run out of chances to fail.

By Michael Hobbes
October 13, 2019

In 2014, Zach Dell launched a dating app called Thread. It was nearly identical to Tinder: Users created a profile, uploaded photos and swiped through potential matches.

The only twist on the formula was that Thread was restricted to university students and explicitly designed to produce relationships rather than hookups. The app’s tagline was “Stay Classy.”

Zach Dell is the son of billionaire tech magnate Michael Dell. Though he told reporters that he wasn’t relying on family money, Thread’s early investors included a number of his father’s friends, including Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

The app failed almost instantly. Perhaps the number of monogamy-seeking students just wasn’t large enough, or capping users at 10 matches per day limited the app’s addictiveness. It could also have been the mismatch between Thread’s chaste motto and its user experience. Users got just 70 characters to describe themselves on their profiles. Most of them resorted to catchphrases like “Hook ’em” and “Netflix is life.”

After Thread went bust, Dell moved into philanthropy with a startup called Sqwatt, which promised to deliver “low-cost sanitation solutions for the developing world.” Aside from an empty website and a promotional video with fewer than 100 views, the effort seems to have disappeared.

And yet, despite helming two failed ventures and having little work experience beyond an internship at a financial services company created to manage his father’s fortune, things seem to be working out for Zach Dell. According to his LinkedIn profile, he is now an analyst for the private equity firm Blackstone. He is 22.

America has a social mobility problem. Children born in 1940 had a 90% chance of earning more than their parents. For children born in 1984, the odds were 50-50.

Most accounts of this trend focus on the breakdown of upward mobility: It’s getting harder for the poor to become rich. But equally important is the decline of downward mobility: The rich, regardless of their intelligence, are becoming more likely to stay that way.

There’s a lot of talent being wasted because it’s not able to rise, but there’s also a lot of relatively untalented people who aren’t falling and end up occupying positions they shouldn’t,” said Richard Reeves, a Brookings Institution researcher and the author of “Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It.

According to research carried out by Reeves and others, the likelihood of the rich passing their status down to their children — “stickiness,” in economist-speak — has surpassed the likelihood of poor children remaining poor.

Continue reading at:  https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-glass-floor-is-keeping-americas-richest-idiots-at-the-top_n_5d9fb1c9e4b06ddfc516e076