Extended Forecast: Shit-storm

I started to write a post about Roseanne Barr’s racist as fuck tweets and Disney/ABC’s horrible decision not to fire her racist ass immediately. But then there’s other news, such as Trump’s ridiculous lies this morning about the Mueller team trying to throw the midterms to the Democrats, the Supreme Court decision that will allow wingnut states to drive more abortion providers out of practice and the new report about the death toll of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico: 4,645 killed. And it’s barely past noon.

I want another long weekend to begin right now. Open thread.



The Invisible Hand in the “Sexual Marketplace”

The first person the Santa Fe shooter killed was a 16-year-old girl who had refused to go out with him, according to the victim’s mother. Most of the victims were women and girls, including an exchange student from Pakistan who was due to go home next month, and two teachers.

Since the shooter chickened out on his suicide plan, maybe some explanation for his actions will be forthcoming. But online and offline misogynists think they’ve already figured it out:

It’s a mystery, Mark, but maybe I can explain. What Mark here describes as the “destabilization of the sexual marketplace” is what I call women’s freedom to function in society as a fully realized human beings.

Just a scant few generations ago, the Invisible Hand of the “sexual marketplace” grabbed women by the pussy like a metaphorical Trump and traded us between fathers, husbands and other male “protectors” like a commodity. If love, respect and companionship entered into the bargain, it was usually luck rather than the objective of the transaction.

Women disrupted that marketplace by claiming their own agency. The men who are “hard hit” by that need to examine why they have to rely on coercion to get laid. Or they could use their not-so-invisible hand to jerk off. Really, guys, this shouldn’t be our fucking problem.



Turncoats in the Battle for Women’s Equality Demand a Purple Heart

Wingnuts are among the most entitled creatures on the planet. They meep endlessly about made-up oppression like the persecution of white Christian men, even though white Christian men have always been the most powerful group in the country. They feel entitled to validation by Hollywood elites and whine unceasingly about being disrespected by writers, artists, musicians, actors, etc.

But for my money, no wingnut entitlement is quite so annoying as the demand that feminists circle the wagons around a conservative woman who has spent her entire career helping powerful men denigrate and oppress women. Even if she’s legitimately a victim of sexism, it takes some goddamned nerve for a conservative woman to demand that the sisterhood kiss her boo-boo when she’s busily advancing a sexist goon’s agenda. She should at least have the fucking decency to accept the terms she’s trying to impose on the rest of us.

Making such demands based on a lie about sexism is even more galling. The latter spectacle has been on display all week, with liars and/or idiots misunderstanding a comic’s routine and shrieking like scalded wombats about a nonexistent insult to Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ looks at the WHCA dinner. Here’s a sample of an annoying demand for women to circle the wagons from another lying Trump mouthpiece:

Talia Lavin on Twitter wasn’t having any of Conway’s bullshit, and the multi-tweet smack-down response (rendered below in paragraph form) is a thing of beauty that not only vaporizes Conway’s dumb comment but gets to the heart of what feminism is with uncommon clarity:

no. you don’t get to work your entire life against women’s rights and advancement, work for the most poisonously anti-woman admin in modern memory, and then turn around and beg for faux-feminist solidarity.

Feminism means something. It is NOT a sugar-spun cloak of girl power. It’s not a pink ribbon on an expensive coat. It is a fight to be free. It is a liberation struggle and the wages of losing are death or worse. You don’t get to make me forget that. I will never forget that.

I will fight against anyone, male or female, who does not want me to be free. I will fight against anyone who wants womanhood to be a punishment. I will fight for my flesh and my blood and my soul to be free until I die.

Too many people think feminism is decorative, a sugar pill to be bottled and sold at a markup. I grew up in a religion that gender-segregated during prayer, that taught me my body was dirty and my mind inferior. I left. Feminism gave me that strength.

I have been raped and assaulted and groped and beaten, and I have had an easy life. So many women are suffering. So many are not free. And this is because of systems of power, political and social, that feminism’s white-hot core seeks to burn down.

We have to claim it. We have to own it. Feminism isn’t easy or simple. You can’t buy it and you’re not born into it because you’re female. You have to choose it. You have to take the power yourself. No one will give it to you.

A-fucking-men. Had the comedian at the WHCA dinner actually insulted Sanders’ appearance, feminists would have spoken up, even though Sanders, Conway, et al, are enablers and apologists for the grotesque sexist nightmare in the Oval Office. But their speaking up wouldn’t be what Lavin rightly calls “faux-feminist solidarity,” and it wouldn’t be out of any sense of obligation to those particular women; it would be part of the larger struggle for recognition of our full humanity. That battle goes on, regardless of the turncoat status of Sanders, Conway and every idiotic woman who voted for Trump.



Just When You Thought They Couldn’t Get Skeevier…

My son, for reasons known best to himself, has taken to watching old Jon Stewart clips, and this morning he was watching a long one, a sit down between Steward and Bill O’Reilly.

Stewart comes off as the smarter, more moral one in the particular bit I saw, but I told my kid I still hated the whole premise.  Stewart was normalizing a monster — even giving him a little bit of his own thoughtfulness as cover.  It wasn’t news back then that O’Reilly was a stone racist and a grotesque boss, a harassing womanizer dragging a tail of NDAs behind him.

But while I watched a true PGO came to me: the GOP obviously has no monopoly on men who are assholes to women, but it does seem to have more than its share, or rather the share you’d expect, given both specific ideology* , and the broader authoritarianism that both depends on and breeds the certainty that to be white and male is to have the right to f**k — and f**k with — the women who are their due.

Hence Porter and Farenthold and Moore and a magazine writer who thinks mere lethal injection is too good for the wanton harlots who choose to have an abortion — and the male-led magazine that thought such views were “provocative” — until it became clear just how provoked the intended gallows-bound (and their friends) had become.  And of course, hence the omphalos of modern Republican moral degeneracy, the Shitgibbon himself.

But I have to say, the latest entrant into the GOP-Sleazebag sweepstakes actually managed to surprise even my jaded self.  Meet Mr. Benjamin Sparks:

A Las Vegas political adviser who worked on national campaigns and high-profile Nevada races sexually enslaved and battered his ex-fiancée before police responded to a domestic dispute, the woman told the Review-Journal.

The 46-year-old woman provided copies of emails, text messages and a signed contract laying out her duties as a “slave in training” to Benjamin Sparks.

Sparks isn’t some small-time local operative.  He was a 2012 Romney spokesperson, and worked for Goggle-Eyed Homunculus Scott Walker during the recall campaign.  And he really, really doesn’t like the idea of female autonomy:

According to emails, documents and text messages obtained by the Review-Journal, Sparks and his ex-fiancée signed a five-page contract stating that she would be his “slave and property.”…

Her specified duties were what you might expect, given that starting point and then escalated to the point of rupture. (Go to the link if you want the details.)

“Slave and property.” Dwell on that phrase.  I’ll wait.

Not All Republicans would be a true statement.  But too much Republican rhetoric, policy and conviction rests on a view of women that taken to pathological extremes, ends with Benjamin Sparks putting down on paper his belief that a woman could be chattel.

There are all kinds of reasons these shandes and goniffs need to get their asses handed to them this November. This is one. A big one.

Open this thread can be.

ETA: Several commenters have pointed out that consensual relations between adults aren’t the problem, and they’re right (as always, IMHO). The issue here for me is the way Sparks took what appears to have been one stage of initial consent and translated that into a one-off permission that gave him the right actually to treat his partner as property.

*Anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-non-discriminatory-treatment in work and society politics that are all underpinned by the conviction that women can’t be allowed to have full agency over their own bodies and their own decisions.

Image: J. Collier, Three grotesque old men with awful teeth pointing and grimacing at each other, 1810. (Via Wellcome Images.)



Steel Cage Breath Match (Open Thread)

So, Joe Biden was in Miami yesterday, speaking at an event to raise awareness about sexual assault on campus, and he said High School Joe Biden would have whipped High School Donald Trump’s ass for disrespecting women. Here’s the quote, via NBC Channel 2:

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday told an audience at the University of Miami that he would have “beat the hell out” of President Trump in high school for comments he has made about women.

“A guy who ended up becoming our national leader said, ‘I can grab a woman anywhere and she likes it,'” Biden said, according to ABC News. “They asked me if I’d like to debate this gentleman, and I said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.'”

“I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms my whole life. I’m a pretty damn good athlete.”

He added, “Any guy that talked that way was usually the fattest, ugliest S.O.B. in the room.”

I like Biden, but I wish he hadn’t gone there.

This morning, Trump responded to Biden’s remarks via Twitter in exactly the manner you’d expect:

Maybe Anti-Cyberbullying Czar Melania Trump can weigh in here?

There’s no equivalence between Trump and Biden on women. Biden has his flaws and has made serious mistakes (Anita Hill), but his heart is generally in the right place. He’s just a few years older than my dad, who also has old-fashioned views on chivalry: “Don’t bother reporting a sexual harasser to HR, honey — tell me, and I’ll beat the living shit out of him.”

Trump is a sociopathic pig who sees women as objects to be used and controlled, which is infinitely worse. But there’s an objectification and lack of agency in the Biden and Dad-style impulse to protect women too. That’s part of the problem.

Alyssa Rosenberg at The Post wrote a column that outlines why Biden’s remarks were unhelpful. I recommend the whole thing, but here’s the concluding paragraph:

There’s no question that Trump’s policies and nasty, sexist behavior can do real damage to women. But the best way to fight Trump isn’t for Biden to remind us how tough he was in high school. It’s for the former vice president, and everyone else, to get behind the women who are standing up to Trump.

Yeah, what she said.



Another very fine person…

Trump finally commented on the Porter situation (The Post):

“We wish him well; he worked very hard,” Trump said to a small group of reporters at the White House, providing his first public comments on the topic. “We found out about it recently, and I was surprised by it, but we certainly wish him well, and it’s a tough time for him. He did a very good job when he was in the White House, and we hope he has a wonderful career, and he will have a great career ahead of him. But it was very sad when we heard about it, and certainly he’s also very sad now. He also, as you probably know, says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent, so you have to talk to him about that, but we absolutely wish him well. He did a very good job when he was at the White House.”

It was “very sad.” Porter is “very sad.” But Porter did a “very good job” and has a “great career ahead of him,” because who wouldn’t want to hire a serial domestic abuser?

I get tired of saying it, but it’s true: Having that sexist sack of shit in the White House is a daily degradation, a wound that never really heals. But what’s even sadder than unemployed Porter is that it’s all so utterly unsurprising.

Of course Trump isn’t capable of expressing pro forma concern for the actual victims. Of course it did not occur to him to condemn domestic violence in general terms. In Trump’s mind, women are inferior creatures — it’s been clear for decades he believes this — and tens of millions of Americans, including millions of white women, are okay with that.



There Needs to Be a Reckoning

A simultaneously fascinating and horrible piece in Vanity Fair on the last days of Harvey Weinstein that includes this gem:

But as Weinstein saw that his time and his options were running out, he began to scramble. And as revealed here for the first time, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Weinstein and a coterie of loyalists—according to a dozen current and former T.W.C. employees and Weinstein advisers, as well as the initial findings of an internal company investigation—would allegedly spend his last days at the company searching for and trying to delete documents; absconding with others; surveilling ex-employees’ online communications; and seeking to discover who, in the end, had orchestrated his downfall.

Imagine being such a horrible person that you wake up in the morning with the goal of destroying people to defend a serial rapist. A few people are named (Frank Gil), but before this is all over, there needs to be a real reckoning. WHo were the people who brought these women to his hotel knowing what he would do to them? Who were the people who cleaned up the messes? All of them need to be named, shamed, and prosecuted where applicable.