Is sexual harassment really difficult to understand?

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/06/sexual-harassment-consent-metropolitan-liberal-men

The idea of consent is not a ‘metropolitan’ or liberal concept yet it seems to confuse some men. They should check themselves and listen


Monday 6 November 2017

Don’t sexually harass women in the workplace. It’s clearly a big ask, isn’t it? For certain kinds of men, this appears to be an imposition that confuses them terribly. How are they to know how to make passes at women? Surely everyone understands that making a pass is not like raping someone? No, they are just being men – watching porn, sexting teenagers, saying lewd things to colleagues. Banter innit? They are the kind of men no woman wants to get in a lift with, the type for whom the acronym NSIT (Not Safe in Taxis) was invented. Do these creeps ever wonder why?

They shouldn’t worry too much. The Today programme, Have I Got News for You and Newsnight are still dominated by sniggering men who would hate to muddle a minor “indiscretion” with a major one. When Jo Brand calmly told a panel of public school boys and Paul Merton that repeated low-level sexual harassment wore women down, for a moment they were silenced – but only for a moment.

Up pops David Goodhart – Etonian, thinktanker, categoriser of people into Anywheres and Somewheres – to inform us on Twitter that the “inability to distinguish hand on knee/sleazebag behaviour from rape/serious intimidation is typical of ideological (metropolitan) thinking”. Okey-dokey. Who exactly is unable to distinguish this? Men? Women? The police? People who live in cities? We can of course distinguish, especially perhaps those of us who have experienced it – and we tend to see it on a continuum. Men who don’t require consent or who get off on making women feel uncomfortable make us both fearful and compromised in the workplace. This applies as much in an out-of-town superstore as it does in Westminster.

So for Goodhart to conjure up this bizarre metropolitan elite argument to shore up male privilege shows just how fragile these old forms of masculinity are currently feeling. The idea that outside metropolitan areas it is apparently OK to behave as a lech is deeply insulting and untrue.

If by “metropolitan” he means progressive – and this is part of his general attack on the liberal tribe who have lost touch with reality – Goodhart would be endorsing a reality that is inherently sexist and arguing that abhorrent attitudes are fundamentally unchangeable.

Away from Goodhart, there is battalion of vocal wronged men who think of women as fantasists; and in expressing that, they reveal more than we may wish to know about them. Such poor souls are wounded not by the metropolitan elite or liberal values, but by the visible refutation of their own ideology, which assumes that an entitlement to power means unquestioned sexual entitlement too.

Why is it so difficult for them? They are often, it has to be said, of a certain age. Years ago one man in Westminster told me that his attitude to sex was “throw enough mud against the wall and some of it sticks”. Pity us walls.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/06/sexual-harassment-consent-metropolitan-liberal-men

The death of Christianity in the U.S.

From The Baptist News:  https://baptistnews.com/article/death-christianity-u-s/#.WiYOOYgUmUn


November 13, 2017

Christianity has died in the hands of Evangelicals. Evangelicalism ceased being a religious faith tradition following Jesus’ teachings concerning justice for the betterment of humanity when it made a Faustian bargain for the sake of political influence. The beauty of the gospel message — of love, of peace and of fraternity — has been murdered by the ambitions of Trumpish flimflammers who have sold their souls for expediency. No greater proof is needed of the death of Christianity than the rush to defend a child molester in order to maintain a majority in the U.S. Senate.

Evangelicals have constructed an exclusive interpretation which fuses and confuses white supremacy with salvation. Only those from the dominant culture, along with their supposed inferiors who with colonized minds embrace assimilation, can be saved. But their salvation damns Jesus. To save Jesus from those claiming to be his heirs, we must wrench him from the hands of those who use him as a façade from which to hide their phobias — their fear of blacks, their fear of the undocumented, their fear of Muslims, their fear of everything queer.

Evangelicalism has ceased to be a faith perspective rooted on Jesus the Christ and has become a political movement whose beliefs repudiate all Jesus advocated. A message of hate permeates their pronouncements, evident in sulphurous proclamations like the Nashville Statement, which elevates centuries of sexual dysfunctionalities since the days of Augustine by imposing them upon Holy Writ. They condemn as sin those who express love outside the evangelical anti-body straight jacket.

Evangelicalism’s unholy marriage to the Prosperity Gospel justifies multi-millionaire bilkers wearing holy vestments made of sheep’s clothing who discovered being profiteers rather than prophets delivers an earthly security never promised by the One in whose name they slaughter those who are hungry, thirsty and naked, and the alien among them. Christianity at a profit is an abomination before all that is Holy. From their gilded pedestals erected in white centers of wealth and power, they gaslight all to believe they are the ones being persecuted because of their faith.

Evangelicalism’s embrace of a new age of ignorance, blames homosexuality for Harvey’s rage rather than considering the scientific consequences climate change has on the number of increasing storms of greater and greater ferocity. To ignore the damage caused to God’s creation so the few can profit in raping Mother Earth causes celebrations in the fiery pits of Gehenna.

Evangelicalism forsakes holding a sexual predator, an adulterer, a liar and a racist accountable, instead serving as a shield against those who question POTUS’ immorality because of some warped reincarnation of Cyrus. Laying holy hands upon the incarnation of the very vices Jesus condemned to advance a political agenda — instead of rebuking and chastising in loving prayer — has prostituted the gospel in exchange for the victory of a Supreme Court pick.

Evangelicalism either remained silent or actually supported Charlottesville goose steppers because they protect their white privilege with the doublespeak of preserving heritage, leading them to equate opponents of fascist movements with the purveyors of hatred. Jesus has yet recovered from the vomiting induced by the Christian defenders of torch-wielding white nationalists calling for “blood-and-soil.”

The Evangelicals’ Jesus is satanic, and those who hustle this demon are “false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve” (2 Cor. 11:13-15, NIV).

You might wonder if my condemnation is too harsh. It is not, for the Spirit of the Lord has convicted me to shout from the mountaintop how God’s precious children are being devoured by the hatred and bigotry of those who have positioned themselves as the voice of God in America.

As a young man, I walked down the sawdust aisle at a Southern Baptist church and gave my heart to Jesus. Besides offering my broken heart, I also gave my mind to understanding God, and my arm to procuring God’s call for justice. I have always considered myself to be an evangelical, but I can no longer allow my name to be tarnished by that political party masquerading as Christian. Like many women and men of good will who still struggle to believe, but not in the evangelical political agenda, I too no longer want or wish to be associated with an ideology responsible for tearing humanity apart. But if you, dear reader, still cling to a hate-mongering ideology, may I humbly suggest you get saved.

Women, we should stop gaslighting ourselves and trust our instincts

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/20/women-sexual-harassment-gaslighting-instincts

Instincts are difficult to describe but easy to know. If we’re feeling unnerved, the very least we can do is listen to those inner voices


Friday 20 October 2017

Aside from the words “massage”, “bathrobe” and “undressed”, there’s another theme that recurs in the allegations – more than 50 of them – against Harvey Weinstein: many of the women felt uneasy as soon as they met him. The sickening allegations have reminded me just how important it is that we trust our instincts.

If you don’t get to the bottom of this piece, please remember this crucial caveat: I am not placing one iota of blame on the women whose trust was abused – the responsibility for that will always lie with the person who did the abusing.

In the case of Harvey Weinstein, and so many others, the choice about whether to ignore our instincts is distorted to the point of being almost meaningless. The women’s decisions were deeply affected by the fact that their entire careers could rest on this man – a fact Weinstein knew how to play all too well.

That’s what power does. It doesn’t just affect the choices we have available to us, it affects the way we choose between them.

But on those rare moments where we can choose; where we’re deciding whether or not to go for a second date, whether or not to share a ride, and when there’s that voice within us saying “that guy seems like a bit of a creep”, we should listen, rather than heeding the million other voices that say “you’ve got no reason to think that” or “he doesn’t seem so bad” or “stop being crazy”.

We should stop gaslighting ourselves.

Instincts are difficult to describe but easy to know. I’ve shaken hands with men and seen a look in their eye that makes my throat dry up. I’ve sat beside men on trains and felt their legs a fraction of an inch closer than they needed to be. I’ve paid for things and had men touch my hands as I place my money down on the counter. We often feel utterly paralysed in those moments. You can’t stop meeting men, riding trains or paying for things. And to speak up would be to expose yourself to ridicule, to show yourself as a monster who has lost their mind to paranoia.

The very least we can do in those situations, the absolute bare minimum, is to listen to those inner voices.

We can have so little information available to us when we meet someone new. Rather than saying “I don’t want to read too much into that”, we should trust that the little signs are revealing of something bigger.

This is about unlearning a lesson that is good in one classroom but not in another. Yes, we should be generous; yes, we should give people a second chance – but not when it comes to our mental and physical safety. It’s just not worth it.

Today Abbie Hoffman Would Have been 81 Years Old

I met Abbie on several occasions in the years between 1967 and 1969.

The world would be a better place if he, Jerry Rubin, Huey Newton, John Lennon and other 1960s leaders were still around instead of the Frat Boy Draft Dodging Scum like Trump.

From Kinky Friedman,  Texas singer, song writer, author and former gubernatorial candidate

A special message from the Kinkster:

I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Jewish troublemakers. And Abbie Hoffman was one of the best! I got to know him during the years of 1974 to 1980, when he was a fugitive on the run from the feds, often topping the FBI’s most wanted list. I’ve always believed that the drug charges against Abbie were totally trumped-up. In truth, he was only guilty of one crime, but it was the crime that is never forgiven: poking fun at authority.

Abbie was a colorful, fun-loving, political prankster, highly adept at skewering the establishment, which, God knows, seems forever in need of being skewered. Abbie hid out at my place in Chappaqua long before Bill and Hillary got there. We shot about a million games of pool, with Abbie losing very few indeed. Later, I harbored my famous fugitive at our family’s ranch, a summer camp for kids, in Texas. We spent the winter playing chess, riding donkeys, and trying to figure out how the world had gotten so screwed-up. A year later, Abbie crashed with me in Hollywood and introduced me to another guy whom he sometimes hid out with, Jack Nicholson.

In the end it seemed as if Abbie had become like the character in the Billy Joe Shaver song, “Cursed to be born a serious soul/ Nobody takes seriously.” The question remains, of course, why would anybody harbor a high-level fugitive in the first place? Perhaps it was the way of my people. Perhaps I liked living dangerously. Perhaps I just liked Abbie. Perhaps I was following Charles Bukowski’s advice, “Run with the hunted.” Perhaps.

I’m writing this today on Abbie’s birthday, November 30th. He would’ve been eighty-one years old if life had been just a little bit different. But it never is. If you want to know more about Abbie, I suppose you could google him. While you’re at it, you could also google Moses and Jesus. After all, they were three good Jewish boys who got in a little trouble with the government.

Happy birthday, Dear Abbie. Wherever you are.

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Ken Burns’ New Vietnam War Series Teaches a Flawed, Misleading Lesson

From Alternet:  https://www.alternet.org/burns-wrong-lessons

The new film distorts what scholars, veterans and antiwar activists alike know about the war and its aftermath.

By Jerry Lembcke
September 19, 2017

When Karl Marlantes takes the screen during the new PBS film series The Vietnam War, he says coming home was nearly as traumatic as the war itself. Later, he describes being assaulted by protesters at the airport, invoking the image of spat-on Vietnam veterans, an image that Los Angeles Times editorial writer Michael McGough said in 2012 was based on a myth. An edifying myth, McGough called it, but still a myth.

With The Vietnam War, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick have created a film that rehashes some old, tired tropes. In doing so, they distort what soldiers, veterans, and antiwar activists alike know about the war and its aftermath, especially inside the United States.

In their May 29 New York Times op-ed advertisement for the series, Burns and Novick give a lofty rationale for their film. Succumbing to another cliché, they claim it is about healing. But the discourse of healing misleads as much as it informs, presupposing a prewar America that was a seamless unity, where everyone got along. As sociologist Keith Beattie showed in his 1998 book The Scar That Binds: American Culture and the Vietnam War, that America was mythical. The real one was already torn by racism and McCarthyism, and frayed by modern technology. Domestic class conflict and racial and gender anxieties, too, continued right through the war, as the historian Milton Bates pointed out in his 1996 book The Wars We Took to Vietnam.

That fractured America was complicit in its going to war, not simply a passive victim of it. Burns and Novick intentionally exclude scholars like Beattie and Bates, however. “No historians or other expert talking heads” mar their film, they told the Times’s reviewer Jennifer Schuessler. “Instead,” Schuessler reports matter-of-factly, their “79 onscreen interviews give the ground-up view of the war from the mostly ordinary people who lived through it.”

Ground-up views are susceptible, especially after 40 years, to the very myths they are supposed to belie. Memories that are 40 years old are too influenced by movies, novels, newspapers, and television—or those dreaded historians—to count for documentation. Lawyers, judges, and courts concluded years ago that eyewitness accounts of crimes that are only hours old are unreliable—so, 40 years? Or 50? In the hands of filmmakers, however, such accounts are too easily and too often used as a veneer to manage viewer perceptions.1 Here Burns and Novick offer false equivalences, or “balance” in journalistic parlance. In promoting healing instead of the search for truth, The Vietnam War offers misleading comforts.

The contradictions of The Vietnam War pile up from the start. Its creators might claim a ground-up view—and the film does give us lot of grunt-level footage, like Marines in rice paddies and GIs jumping out of helicopters—but the prevailing interpretations of these scenes come from elites. Some of these notables would be better cast into confessional booths than onto PBS screens, too. For example, John Negroponte, a prominent interpreter in the film, used diplomatic appointments as cover for covert activities over a half-century of US-engineered (or –attempted) regime-change operations.

Just over 30 years old when he began his Vietnam assignment, Negroponte developed a reputation as a “hardliner” in negotiations to end the war in Vietnam, once breaking with his superior officer Henry Kissinger for making too many concessions to communist North Vietnam. Later in his life, he took lessons from Vietnam to America’s adventures across the world. As ambassador to Honduras between 1981 and 1985, Negroponte built the small and friendly nation into a bustling military platform for cross-border operations against the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua; when popular opposition to the US military presence in Honduras arose, he enabled and covered for the murderous death squads of General Gustavo Álvarez Martínez, a graduate of the U.S. Army School of the Americas. As a delegate to the United Nations in the early 2000s, he helped sell the invasion of Iraq on the false claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Once characterized by journalist Stephen Kinzer as “a great fabulist,” Negroponte’s prominence in The Vietnam War will have viewers of many political stripes scratching their heads.

Continue reading at:  https://www.alternet.org/burns-wrong-lessons

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Fresh trans myths of 2017: “rapid onset gender dysphoria”

From Gender Analysis:  https://genderanalysis.net/2017/07/fresh-trans-myths-of-2017-rapid-onset-gender-dysphoria/

Zinnia Jones
July 1, 2017

If, like me, you make a habit of trawling through the darker side of opinion pieces on trans issues, you might have come across a peculiar new term: “rapid onset gender dysphoria”. This supposedly recent occurrence is described by the National Review, the right-wing Alliance Defending Freedom, Robert Stacy McCain, and others as a phenomenon of teenagers “suddenly” coming out, sometimes “in groups”, after “total immersion” in social media related to transitioning. Even a recent article in The Stranger made reference to this alleged trend:

Increased visibility and societal acceptance are also logical explanations for the perceived growth in the trans population: More people are aware it’s an option now. But, as a study published this year in the Journal of Adolescent Health notes, parents have begun reporting “a rapid onset of gender dysphoria” in adolescents and teens who are “part of a peer group where one, multiple, or even all friends have developed gender dysphoria and come out as transgender during the same time frame.”

If researchers have potentially discovered a previously unknown type of gender dysphoria, this would certainly be a fascinating development. There’s just one problem: there is no evidence to suggest that this is any kind of distinct clinical entity. The various features of this purported phenomenon can already be explained within existing models and currently available evidence. And more than that, it appears that the very concept could have originated with a specific group of transphobic activists.

Let’s take a closer look at the “study published this year in the Journal of Adolescent Health”. As the full study does not appear to have been released yet, only a poster abstract is available in the February 2017 issue (Littman, 2017). The study is introduced as follows:

Parents online are observed reporting their children experiencing a rapid onset of gender dysphoria appearing for the first time during or after puberty. They describe this development occurring in the context of being part of a peer group where one, multiple, or even all friends have developed gender dysphoria and come out as transgender during the same timeframe and/or an increase in social media/internet use.

Obviously, “parents online” encompasses a rather large portion of the population, and further details on what distinguishes this particular group of parents and their online activity would certainly help to clarify this phenomenon. However, the occurrence of “gender dysphoria appearing for the first time during or after puberty”, as well as the surprise of parents, is already widely recognized in literature, to the extent that it is explicitly mentioned in the DSM-5’s description of gender dysphoria (American Psychiatric Association, 2013):

Late-onset gender dysphoria occurs around puberty or much later in life. Some of these individuals report having had a desire to be of the other gender in childhood that was not expressed verbally to others. Others do not recall any signs of childhood gender dysphoria. For adolescent males with late-onset gender dysphoria, parents often report surprise because they did not see signs of gender dysphoria during childhood.

The study’s abstract also does not provide definitions that would delineate a “rapid” appearance of gender dysphoria from a “non-rapid” appearance: how fast is rapid? Its methods have an additional weakness – only parents were surveyed, and not the children allegedly experiencing this “rapid onset”.

Continue reading at:  https://genderanalysis.net/2017/07/fresh-trans-myths-of-2017-rapid-onset-gender-dysphoria/

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Trump is Finished | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann

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