The Patriarchs Are Falling. The Patriarchy Is Stronger Than Ever.

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/28/opinion/sunday/patriarchy-feminism-metoo.html

It would be easy to end 2017 with the impression that, whatever its afflictions, it was at least a game-changing year for feminism.

“The Female Revolution Is Here” and could “Smash Patriarchy at Its Core,” social and mainstream media headlines declared. “We are blowing the whistle on the prime directive of the master/slave relationship between women and men.” “This is the end of patriarchy” — this from Forbes! — “the male domination of humanity.” Twitter, the newsstand and the street concur: This year witnessed a transformational moment in American sexual politics.

Surely the results of the #MeToo phenomenon are worthy. It’s a seriously good thing Harvey Weinstein is gone and that the potential Harvey Weinsteins will think twice or thrice or a thousand times before harassing women whose fortunes they control. But “the end of patriarchy”? Look around.

This month, President Trump signed into law a tax bill that throws a bomb at women. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act systematically guts benefits that support women who need support the most: It means an end to personal and dependent exemptions (a disaster for minimum-wage workers, nearly two-thirds of whom are women). An expiration date for child-care tax credits and a denial of such credits for immigrant children without Social Security cards. An end to the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. And, barely avoided, thanks to Democrats’ objections: an enshrinement of “fetal personhood” in the form of college savings accounts for unborn children, a sly grenade lobbed at legal abortion.

Not to mention that Republican congressmen plan to pay down the enormous federal deficit the bill will incur by slashing entitlements that, again, are critical to women: Medicaid (covering nearly half the births in the nation and 75 percent of family planning), Medicare (more than half of beneficiaries 65 and older — and two-thirds of those 85 and older — are women) and so on.

And that’s on top of all the other Trump administration insults: reviving the global gag rule on abortion, suspending tracking of the gender wage gap, deep-sixing the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order and much more.

Which leads me to wonder, if we get rid of a handful of Harveys while losing essential rights and protections for millions of women, are we really winning this thing? How is this female calamity happening in the midst of the Female Revolution? An answer may lie in a schism that has haunted women’s protest for 150 years.

American women’s activism has historically taken two forms. One is an expression of direct anger at the ways individual men use and abuse us. It’s righteous outrage against the unambiguous enemy with a visible face, the male predator who feeds on our vulnerability and relishes our humiliation. Mr. Weinstein’s face is the devil’s face du jour, and the #MeToo campaign fits squarely in this camp. The other form is less spectacular but as essential: It’s fighting the ways the world is structurally engineered against women. Tied to that fight is the difficult and ambiguous labor of building an equitable system within which women have the wherewithal and power to lead full lives.

The clarion cry against individual male predation and the push for broader gender equality may seem part and parcel, especially now. When Donald Trump is the titular head of the machine, it’s tempting to imagine that the machine itself has orange hair — and that to defeat Harvey Weinstein is to win. But the patriarchy is bigger than the patriarch.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/28/opinion/sunday/patriarchy-feminism-metoo.html

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Guns and the left

From The Outline:  https://theoutline.com/post/2399/guns-and-the-left?zd=

Some leftists are rejecting the Democratic Party’s stance on firearm regulation.

Gaby Del Valle
Oct.16, 2017

When anti-racist protesters held a demonstration against the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in August, their protest was protected by an informal militia of 20 rifle-toting leftists who surrounded the perimeter of Justice Park. “It’s a deterrent,” Kevin Smith, a member of a leftist gun club who was part of the informal security detail, told the Colorado Springs Independent. “There were people there who wanted to come over and start [fights] with people, but they saw us and stayed across the street.”

As Democrats and Republicans debate gun control in the wake of last week’s shooting in Las Vegas, which left 59 dead and more than 500 injured, some socialists and other leftists are rejecting the Democratic Party’s call for stricter regulation of firearms. The result has been a fraught intra-leftist gun debate that raises questions about the efficacy of gun control, as well as the roles racial and economic justice should play in curbing gun violence.

“I would describe myself as a pro-gun socialist,” Courtney Caldwell, told The Outline. Caldwell, an active member of the Denton, Texas chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, doesn’t quite fit the profile of the average gun owner: white, male, high-income, and over the age of 55, according to a 2015 Columbia University study published in the journal Injury Prevention. For her, gun ownership is a fundamental part of her leftist identity. “Guns are a necessary form of self-defense so long as there is an oppressive, racist state that exists to uphold white supremacy,” Caldwell said. This doesn’t just mean self-defense in the traditional sense — defending one’s body from harm — but also the collective defense of marginalized communities.

Several leftist pro-gun organizations are committed to doing just that. There’s Redneck Revolt, a self-described anti-racist, anti-capitalist grassroots organization that seeks to build solidarity between the white working class and people of color. Founded in 2016, the organization has more than 40 chapters across the country. In addition to providing security at protests, Redneck Revolt relies on counter-recruitment — reclaiming gun culture from white conservatives as a way of reaching out to working-class gun owners who feel alienated from mainstream liberal politics. The Dallas-based Huey P. Newton Gun Club, established in 2013 and named after the founder of the Black Panther Party, was formed in response to right-wing gun advocacy groups in the region. In 2015, the group’s founder Charles Goodson told Vice magazine he wanted his organization to become the “black alternative to the NRA.” But Goodson’s gun club focuses on more than just individual gun ownership. That same year, the club staged its first openly-armed patrol in a predominately black Dallas neighborhood where police killed a young black man in 2012. “No longer will we let the pigs slaughter our brothers and sisters and not say a damn thing about it! Black power! Black power! Black power!” the rally’s leader shouted.

Joe Prince, a law student and black leftist living in Washington D.C., defined his community’s relationship connection to guns as “complex.”

“The relationship is not a loving one, to say the least,” Prince told The Outline. He isn’t a gun-owner himself — “I think guns are terrible. I never want to own a gun,” he said — but understands the appeal gun-ownership has for people of color, and for leftists of color in particular. “Martin Luther King, Jr. owned guns,” Prince said. “He spoke frequently about how much he didn’t like guns, about how nonviolence is the way forward for civil rights, but at the same time he had people with shotguns protecting him so he would be able to live to make those speeches.”

Continue reading at:  https://theoutline.com/post/2399/guns-and-the-left?zd=

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The Uncanny, Frightening Ways That Trump’s America Mirrors Hitler’s Germany

From Alternet:  https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/how-democracy-dies

Even the usually restrained Barack Obama warns Americans we’re slipping dangerously close to authoritarianism.

By Thom Hartmann
December 11, 2017

President Obama has come right out and said it: “You have to tend to this garden of democracy, otherwise things can fall apart fairly quickly. And we’ve seen societies where that happens.”

Yes, he invoked Nazi Germany, adding, “Now, presumably, there was a ballroom in Vienna in the late 1920s or ’30s that looked and seemed as if it ― filled with the music and art and literature and the science that was emerging ― would continue into perpetuity. And then 60 million people died. And the entire world was plunged into chaos.”

It was a shocking reminder of Milton Mayer and his seminal work, They Thought They Were Free, first published back in 1955 by the University of Chicago Press.

Shortly after World War II, Mayer, an American journalist and college instructor, went to Germany and befriended a small group of 10 “ordinary Germans” who had lived and worked through the war, and interviewed them in depth.

Mayer’s burning question was, “How does something like Nazi Germany happen?”

What he learned was every bit as shocking as President Obama drawing the same parallels. He wrote, presciently, “Now I see a little better how Nazism overcame Germany – not by attack from without or by subversion from within, but with a whoop and a holler. It was what most Germans wanted – or, under pressure of combined reality and illusion, came to want. They wanted it; they got it; and they liked it.

“I came home a little bit afraid for my country, afraid of what it might want, and get, and like, under combined pressure of reality and illusion. I felt – and feel – that it was not German Man that I met, but Man. He happened to be in Germany under certain conditions. He might be here under certain conditions. He might, under certain conditions, be I.

“If I – and my countrymen – ever succumbed to that concatenation of conditions, no Constitution, no laws, no police, and certainly no army would be able to protect us from harm.”

Mayer tells the story largely through the words of the Germans he got to know during his year in Germany after the war.  One, a college professor, told him:

“What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security….

“This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.

Continue reading at:  https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/how-democracy-dies

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27% of California adolescents say they are viewed as gender nonconforming, study finds

But what does that mean?  I was around during the period of time when the Cockettes to Andy Warhol Superstars and David Bowie as well as the New York Dolls were messing with the trappings of corporate gender.  Hair Bands in semi gender fuck drag.  Is this what they are talking about when they say “gender nonconforming”?  Clothes are clothes.  Make-up is make-up?  Just because one is labeled for men and one for women is pretty fucking meaningless.

Or are they talking about the internal sense of self?

In a world of bloviating academics who coin words left and right one would think someone could come up with more specific terms for the various aspects that are currently called “gender” than what we presently have.

For example 50 years ago we differentiated between “Core Gender Identity” for that sense of self and “gender roles” for the social.  We also felt freer to use the word sex as in “transsexual”.

From UCLA Newsroom: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/27-of-california-adolescents-are-gender-nonconforming-study-finds

The survey measures youths’ perceptions of how they are seen by their student peers

Rachel Dowd
December 13, 2017

A new UCLA study finds that 27 percent, or 796,000, of California’s youth, ages 12 to 17, report they are viewed by others as gender nonconforming at school.

The study also assessed differences in mental health among gender nonconforming youth and gender conforming youth in the state, and found no significant difference in the rates of lifetime suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts between gender nonconforming youth and their gender conforming peers. However, gender nonconforming youth were more than twice as likely to have experienced psychological distress in the past year.

“The data show that more than one in four California youth express their gender in ways that go against the dominant stereotypes,” said lead author Bianca D.M. Wilson, the Rabbi Barbara Zacky Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute. “However, the heightened psychological distress we see among gender nonconforming youth indicates that we must continue to educate parents, schools and communities on the mental health needs of these young people and reduce known risk factors, such as bullying and bias.”

The study, released by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, analyzed data collected from nearly 1,600 California households in the 2015-2016 California Health Interview Survey. It is the first time this survey has included questions about gender expression among teens.

Gender nonconforming refers to people whose behaviors and appearance defy the dominant cultural and societal stereotypes of their gender. The health interview survey measured gender expression by asking adolescents how they thought people at school viewed their physical expressions of femininity and masculinity. Youth who reported that people at school saw them as equally masculine and feminine were categorized as “androgynous.” Girls who thought they were seen as mostly or very masculine and boys who thought they were seen as mostly or very feminine were categorized as “highly gender nonconforming.”

Key findings of the study include:

  • 27 percent, or 796,000, of California’s youth, ages 12 to 17, report they are viewed by others as gender nonconforming at school, including 6.2 percent who are highly gender nonconforming and 20.8 percent who are androgynous.
  • Highly gender nonconforming, androgynous and gender conforming youth do not statistically differ in rates of lifetime suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.
  • As a group, both highly gender nonconforming and androgynous youth reported higher levels of psychological distress compared to their gender-conforming peers.

The finding that gender nonconforming youth in California do not have higher rates of suicide differs from the findings of some previous research. The study co-authors suggest that the variation in findings may be due to sample-size limitations of this study or possibly to the state’s supportive policies for gender nonconforming people. California is one of several states that expressly prohibit bullying and discrimination against gender nonconforming people in schools and public accommodations, among other arenas.

Continue reading at: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/27-of-california-adolescents-are-gender-nonconforming-study-finds

Creation Festival Founder Arrested for Alleged Child Molestation

From Christianity Today:  http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2017/december/creation-festival-founder-arrested-for-child-molestation.html

Pastor Harry Thomas, leader of America’s largest Christian music fest, suspended by church over eight criminal charges.

Kate Shellnutt
December 08, 2017

The man who launched America’s largest and longest-running Christian music festival has been “indefinitely suspended” from the ministry and his church following his arrest Wednesday on charges of child molestation.

Harry L. Thomas, founder of the Creation Festival and senior pastor of Come Alive New Testament Church in Medford, New Jersey, has been accused of sexually assaulting four children over a 16-year period between 1999 and 2015.

The church stated that the alleged misconduct was “unrelated” to his leadership.

Thomas, 74, has been charged with one count of aggravated sexual assault, three counts of sexual assault, and four counts of endangering the welfare of children, according to the prosecutor’s office in Burlington County, New Jersey, where Thomas lives and where his church is located.

Authorities have refrained from releasing further details in order to protect the identity of the victims.

“All persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law,” stated the prosecutor’s office. It noted that Thomas was “being treated at a medical facility” while a case was prepared for “possible indictment” by a grand jury.

“It is with deep regret and saddened hearts that the Elders and Trustees of Come Alive New Testament Church have indefinitely suspended Pastor Harry Thomas from all leadership positions with the church, festival, and all associated ministries,” the ministry said in a statement to media Thursday.

“While the allegations are unrelated to his roles in these ministries, leadership has determined this to be the proper course of action at this time until there can be a full investigation,” stated church leaders. “It is requested that all pray for the parties involved and refrain from speculation regarding the circumstances.”

Following the arrest, the staff and history pages of Come Alive’s website, which chronicled Thomas’s involvement in the church since its founding in 1983, were no longer accesssible.

Continue reading at:   http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2017/december/creation-festival-founder-arrested-for-child-molestation.html

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A trans review of 2017: the year of transgender moral panic

From The Conversation:  https://theconversation.com/a-trans-review-of-2017-the-year-of-transgender-moral-panic-89272

December 27, 2017

Three years ago, 2014 was hailed as “the transgender tipping point” – a year when trans people became more visible and better understood. Sadly, looking back on 2017, it seems it was the year of a transgender moral panic.

In the first half of the year, every few weeks seemed to bring another news story invoking public concern about trans issues. A documentary about the treatment of trans and gender questioning kids in Canada kicked off public debates which continued all year. Legal tussles over transgender bathroom rights in the US prompted anxiety and a return to stereotypes of trans people as perpetrators of violence, rather than more commonly victims of it.

In August,the US president, Donald Trump, attempted to ban trans people from serving in the US military – though the move was blocked by a federal judge in October. In the UK, there was furore over trans women’s identities, gender-neutral children’s clothing, the existence of non-binary people, and more. Campaign groups such as Trans Media Watch and All About Trans were constantly fire-fighting the latest wave of media myths and misinformation.

It became an even tougher time to be trans in the final few months of 2017. Since October, an anti-trans article has appeared in the UK press virtually every day – two or three on some days. Several commentators have documented this media onslaught.

In a recent gender training session for an LGBT charity, I asked attendees to come up with all the news stories about trans they could remember from the past month or so. They filled an entire sheet of flipchart paper in minutes, and still came up with more, virtually all of them negative.

Moral panic

A moral panic is the process of arousing social concern over an issue. Moral panics often involve scapegoating a particular group as the “evil” responsible for a range of societal ills.

The current storm around trans people bears all the hallmarks of a moral panic. Trans people are blamed for a number of – often contradictory – harms. In 2017, these included corrupting children, changing the English language and threatening free speech, violence against women and seeking to both dismantle and reinforce problematic gender norms.

Continue reading at:  https://theconversation.com/a-trans-review-of-2017-the-year-of-transgender-moral-panic-89272

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Evangelical Christianity Is Facing a Political Crisis: It Will Need More Than a Makeover

From Alternet:  https://www.alternet.org/belief/evangelical-christianity-facing-political-crisis-it-will-need-more-makeover

The Christian faith was the real loser in the Roy Moore campaign.

By Valerie Tarico
December 29, 2017

Ok, evangelicals do have a brand problem—but they also have a major product problem.

Bible-believing born-again Christians, aka evangelicals, have had a brand problem since Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority sold the born-again movement to the Republican party in exchange for political power a generation ago, forging the religious right.

The Republican party has been using Christianity’s good name to cover bad deeds ever since, all the while tapping evangelical media empires and churches as communications and organizing platforms to bring ordinary believers along with the merger. Having become true-believers themselves, Evangelical leaders have offered themselves up as trusted messengers for this New-and-Improved political gospel project.

And it has worked.

Born-again Christians haven’t given up their core beliefs: that the Bible is the literally perfect word of God, Jesus died for their sins, and folks who don’t accept this gift will burn forever in Hell. Rather, most white evangelicals (and a number of blacks and Hispanics) have appended parts of the Republican policy agenda and the underlying conceptual framework to this list. Religious beliefs and political beliefs have become, for many evangelicals, indistinguishable objects of devotion, beyond question. Political tribe and religious tribe now have the same boundaries.

When I outlined evangelicalism’s brand problem in early 2016, few of us had any idea how bad it could get. Now the world associates the term Evangelical with the Trump election—over 80 percent of evangelicals gave him their vote—and with the candidacy of theocrat, Roy Moore, who despite credible allegations that he pursued and pawed young teens while an assistant district attorney, received comparable support from white Alabama evangelicals.

In the aftermath of Moore’s campaign and (merciful) defeat, the minority of Evangelical Christians who found him horrifying are doing some public soul searching—well, except not really. Many recognize only the brand problem and are, more than anything, simply scrambling to get away from the term evangelical itself. “After Trump and Moore, some evangelicals are finding their own label too toxic to use,” reports the Washington Post.  “The term feels irreversibly tainted,” agrees evangelical author Jen Hatmaker.

Jemar Tisby is president of a faith-based media company catering to black evangelicals, but he says that “It’s counterproductive to identify as evangelical. . . . What’s happened with evangelicalism is, it has become so conflated with Republican politics, that you can’t tell where Christianity ends and partisanship begins.”

At Wheaton College, my old alma mater, the executive director of the Billy Graham Center, Ed Stetzer, said, “I don’t want ‘evangelical’ to mean people who supported candidates with significant and credible accusations against them. If evangelical means that, it has serious ramifications for the work of Christians and churches.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.alternet.org/belief/evangelical-christianity-facing-political-crisis-it-will-need-more-makeover

 

 

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