A Terrible Calculus of Toxic Masculinity

When men in my life get pumped over pro football, systemic shit like what is outlined here is all I can think of. Short version: if a violent man is good enough at a sport, thereby bringing in the big $$$, his gendered violence can, with the help of professional PR types, be glossed over.

Propagating toxic masculinity for the $$$ is inexcusable. And literally deadly. But when men I care about continue to support it, I wonder if there is something I could do to help them experience empathy, since my words alone are clearly not enough. In an effort to help men understand what it feels like, I’ve tried to think of a popular cultural tradition where women’s aggressiveness is publicly celebrated while often accompanied by violent acts towards men and children that are then excused because $$$.

Still can’t think of one, but taking suggestions. Also possibly looking to join??

Male Senator from Wisconsin Is Expert On Women’s Natural Stupidity & Sneakiness

Wisconsin State Senator Glenn GrothmanWisconsin state senator Glenn Grothman is an unusually intelligent man. And we both know that men are usually intelligent.

How intelligent is he? Let me count the ways.

1. He authored a bill to label single parenthood “a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.” 31% of children in his state live in single parent homes.

2. He blames single parenthood on “the choice of the women”.

3. He identifies the government of making the “single motherhood lifestyle” desirable. (What about single fathers? Well, they’re men, so there’s no need to criticize them.)

4. He illuminates that women actually don’t have unplanned pregnancies. They just lie and say the pregnancies were unplanned. Because they’re women. Lying’s what they do.

5. He draws the fine line that women are dumb enough not to know that it’s hard to be a single parent, but smart enough to have a country-wide conspiracy to lie about their covertly-planned unplanned pregnancies for reasons that they have as of yet not revealed. No word yet on single fathers or the baby daddies of these nefarious single mothers. Which is probably because these smart-stupid single ladies have found a way to reproduce that doesn’t even involve men, meaning that we are only a short journey away from a dystopian future of feminazi fascism and male slavery.

Why do I think I hear the infamous welfare queen lurking behind his words?

Genital Mutilation at Cornell University

Dan Savage reports:

Dr. Dix Poppas

A pediatric urologist at Cornell—Dix Poppas—has been operating on little girls with what he judges to be oversized clitorises, cutting away important clitoral tissues, and then stitching the glans to what remains of the shaft.
At annual visits after the surgery, while a parent watches, Poppas touches the daughter’s surgically shortened clitoris with a cotton-tip applicator and/or with a “vibratory device,” and the girl is asked to report to Poppas how strongly she feels him touching her clitoris. Using the vibrator, he also touches her on her inner thigh, her labia minora, and the introitus of her vagina, asking her to report, on a scale of 0 (no sensation) to 5 (maximum), how strongly she feels the touch…. Poppas has indicated in this article and elsewhere that ideally he seeks to conduct annual exams with these girls….

I believe all genital mutilation/cutting/circumcision/surgery performed on children is wrong. This is for two related reasons. The first is consent- a child or infant cannot understand the reasons for and consequences of genital surgery. Any surgery that is not medically necessary, and genital surgery is rarely medically necessary, should not be performed without the individual’s consent. Unless a major bodily function is impeded by the formation of the genitals, the surgery is cosmetic. The second is that this surgery may have long-lasting and deep-rooted effects for the infant or child, and so cannot in good conscience be performed without the individuals consent.

Intersex SymbolSome people are born with genitals that may seem “too big” or “too small” by the parents’ standards or in the opinion of the family’s physician. This is natural variation. There are plenty of genetic situations that can cause a person’s genitals to appear different than what we consider “the norm”. When a person’s genitals don’t neatly fall into what we expect a “woman’s” or a “man’s” to look like, that person is intersex. There is no way to tell by looking at an intersex baby’s genitals whether that baby will grow up to identify as a woman, man, both or neither. There is also no way to tell from genitals whether a person will grow up to be L, G, B, T or Q. The Intersex Society of North America estimates that about 1% of the population is born with “bodies [that] differ from standard male or female”.

That means that reshaping a baby’s genitals to fit a preconceived notion of what a girl or a boy “should” look like is not only likely to harm sexual/sensual function in adulthood, but also may result in the parents and physician guessing wrong and reshaping the child’s genitals into the “wrong” sex. Our sex and gender identification is not formed only by outside society… see As Nature Made Him.

In the article above, Dan Savage is correct in identifying clitoris-reduction surgery on infants as based on sexism and homophobia. Since we do not know whether all children described as having a large clitoris will identify as girls/women in adulthood, I cannot say that this is specifically “female” genital mutilation, but more broadly genital mutilation.

All non-medically-necessary genital surgery is cosmetic. And do we have any good reason to perform cosmetic, permanent surgery on a non-consenting child’s genitals? My stance is “no”. Some circumcision of boys and girls is done by religious dictate: because a holy text mandates it, or because it purportedly helps ensure virginity, etc. Other circumcision is done to fit the child into a cultural idea of what a “woman” or a “man” should look like. It is prescriptive… we see a baby as nature made hir, and we decide god or nature made a mistake that a human must correct.

But why must it be “corrected”? What is there to correct, exactly, when no major bodily function is impeded? Parents and doctors who perpetuate cosmetic genital surgery are allowing their own fears and limitations regarding sex, gender, and sexuality to play out physically upon the body of their child, a child whose very existence makes them fear for the rectitude of their dearly held social categories. Is it right to make a child suffer for life so that the parent and doctor can avoid hard questions and self-examination?

Some will always, inevitably say, “well it is too hard on the child to be raised intersex/with ambiguous genitals/ambiguous gender”. Why is it hard? Because society is sexist and homophobic, believes viscerally in a culturally-moderated gender binary, and people can be narrow-minded about these issues. Is the potential meanness of others, the potential bias against diversity, enough to perform cosmetic surgery? Why is it so hard for the parents to follow their child’s lead, to leave paths open and allow their child to pick one? I suspect that the parents are more worried about themselves, the potential explaining they may have to do, than about the highly touted danger of allowing the child to make hir own decision.

The situation that Dan Savage describes above only takes this human rights violation farther. Farther than even your average person is comfortable with, I think. To draw out the process of forcing a young body into a man-made sex mold for years, with close and constant medical intervention, is cruel and unusual torture. Parents who allow this are gravely remiss in watching out for their children’s best interests. They are also probably deeply misinformed by the “experts” into whose hands they have fallen. And the doctors—and doctor Dix Poppas particularly—are committing deep ethical breeches that I believe are egregious enough to be human rights violations.

Discuss infant genital surgery in comments, if you will. Slurs and insults not tolerated.

Kein Geschlecht Oder Viele

This sign is held by activists in Germany and says: "No Gender/Sex or Many". Source

“A So-Far-Unheard-of Insolence”

Oh lord.

The hierarchy of the Catholic Church cannot find anything more useful to do than to repeatedly and publicly proclaim their complete moral bankruptcy.

For example, did you know that the real victim of all these pedophilia scandals isn’t the child assaultees but the Catholic Church that harbored the perpetrators and hushed up the raped children? Yes indeed, the victims’ complaints against Catholic child rapists are actually analogous to what the Holocaust did to the Jews.

What, does that sound crAzY? Well, I didn’t make it up.

From the AP:

Pope Benedict XVI’s personal preacher on Friday likened accusations against the pope and the Catholic church in the sex abuse scandal to “collective violence” suffered by the Jews.

Reaction from Jewish groups and victims of clerical sex abuse ranged from skepticism to fury.

The Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa said in a Good Friday homily with the pope listening in St. Peter’s Basilica that a Jewish friend wrote to him, …[saying] “The use of stereotypes, the passing from personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt remind me of the more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism.”

Oh yes he did.

Stephan Kramer, general-secretary of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, said Cantalamessa’s remarks were “a so-far-unheard-of insolence.”

“It is repulsive, obscene and most of all offensive toward all abuse victims as well as to all the victims of the Holocaust,” Kramer said. “So far I haven’t seen St. Peter burning, nor were there outbursts of violence against Catholic priests. I’m without words. The Vatican is now trying to turn the perpetrators into victims.”

Minor details. Oh, but one more minor detail:

Italian prosecutor Pietro Forno said that once investigations have gotten under way, church officials have never tried to interfere or hinder the probes. But he added, “In the many years that I have dealt with this, never — and I stress, never — have I received a single complaint from bishops, or priests. And that’s a bit odd.”

Haha! HILARIOUS! Just don’t try to turn such details into a Holocaust on the mostly clear reputations of pedophile priests! You anti-catholic jerk!

Word to the Catholic hierarchy: when it turns out that hundreds of your authority figures have committed thousands of instances of abuse upon children, it is not time to defend your reputation. That is the most callous, wrong-headed, and immoral response possible, as it implies that you are the victim, unjustly compelled to admit to your own crimes by those uncouth and bullying rape survivors. The childhood rape survivors are not the bad guys here.

No, proper responses would include: 1. public acknowledgment of a system that promotes rape culture, 2. unqualified apology and reparations to the victims, 3. an honest assessment of the rape culture in the Catholic hierarchy by a disinterested outside investigator including recommendations for improvement, 4. publicly and in good faith making significant changes in the system to eliminate rape culture, 5. being the first body, and not the last, to bring child abusing priests to the proper authorities, and 6. continuing to address and assess the situation proactively going into the future.

Did I list anything about “defending reputations”? No I did not. Blaming the gheyz? Covering up abuse? Protecting abusing priests? Calling accusations of abuse analogous to the Holocaust? NO.

We need to see sincere and proactive action now. Heel-dragging on this matter is criminal.

Who Not to Give Martyr Status To

1. White “nationalists”

2. Cult members

It will only lead to tears, I promise.

I have recently become aware of the case of the White Pride Mom from Winnipeg, thanks to Womanist Musings.

The Winnipeg Mother, who cannot be identified to protect her kids, has a house full of swastikas and other harmless ‘White Pride’ items (she claims she is not a white supremacist, simply proud of her white heritage). She sent one of her kids to school two days in a row with a swastika drawn on her arm. Teachers alerted the authorities and now the Winnipeg Mother’s children have been taken away, and her visitation rights revoked.

“They’ve made me more dedicated, more aware of the political oppression that we suffer in the country just trying to fight for freedom of speech for anyone.”

Alrighty, so I don’t really think what is at issue is freedom of speech here. Just as you can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater, you can’t publicly support genocide against a group of people (drawing swastikas on one’s daughter’s arm, for example). In both cases, the safety of a large number of people comes before your ‘freedom of speech’.

What is at issue is a parent’s right to her children, which I believe to be one of the most fundamental rights in life. Clearly, Canada cannot start a trend of taking children away from their parents based on their parents’ beliefs, unless the children are in danger of physical harm. This is a) unenforceable, b) a rather scary power for a government to have, and c) probably illegal.

Oh, and d) the only real effect this action will have is to rally the forces of white nationalist hate around the Winnipeg Mother.

The Aryan Guard is planning another rally in Calgary next month. The mother said she will take the opportunity to raise money for her legal defence.

Helmut-Harry Loewen, who teaches sociology at the University of Winnipeg and is an anti-racism activist, said the organization of these various groups is in a bit of a tatters and they need this kind of case to mobilize.

“Clearly, leaders of the movement have identified her as potentially useful for their ultimate aims and she’s playing along with it,” he said.

Nooooooo!!! This is the opposite of what any reasonable person would want. It will only make white nationalists seem like an oppressed minority, give martyr status to this woman, and create a rallying point for hate groups.

For similar reasons, I was extremely dismayed when Texas authorities decided to take custody of 439 children from a Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints compound. They had a tip that child abuse had occurred at the YFZ Ranch (it turned out to be a hoax). Based on what I will call pervasive dislike of the FLDS Church, the decision was made to simply take all children away from their parents, instead of locating the person who had reported abuse toward herself.

This action was a) ineffective at solving the supposed problem, b) an extremely disturbing abuse of power by the government, c) definitely illegal, and d) only further entrenched the FLDS community against opening themselves up to the wider world and respecting secular authority. And again, I believe it violated the FLDS parents’ fundamental right to their children, a right which should only be breached in the gravest of cases where very convincing proof of abuse exists.

Common dislike towards a certain group or community should not be enough for them to be treated in a manner where their fundamental rights are breached. The effect will be to prove their disdain for the wider world and government authority founded, to provide a rallying point for the group, and to make them further entrenched in their questionable beliefs. In addition, we can never be sure when according to current standards, a group we feel part of will become the object of common dislike and be subject to breaches of fundamental rights. No need to start that trend now.