Archive for the ‘Rights’ Category

I hate the home school movement sometimes   Leave a comment

Anti-authoritarian leftist snob confession #2.
I secretly hate the homeschool movement. It is not, in fact, all sunshine and gumdrops, and some people in it desperately need more accountability. (1.) So many of the good ones are so freakin’ self righteous about it. (2.) Some home schooled kids are dumb and ill behaved (3.) A surprising number of parents home school because they are paranoid, delusional, psychotic, lazy, abusive or some combination of the five.

Let me be clear.  I was home schooled.  My daughter was home schooled for the first few years of her school career and will be again (at least partially) in the future. I am not anti-home school. HOWEVER, I sometimes hate the movement.  I puts forward this idea that parents are always the best guardians of their kid’s interests.  Some parents are all the time. Many parents are most of the time, but there are people out there who are simply too immature, unhealthy, or stupid to make all the decisions homeschooling requires.  Those people need the accountability that public school allows, and because of the feel good, pro-parent clap trap the movement publishes, they think that homeschooling is a good idea for them.

I grew up with a lot of home schoolers.  Many of them have gone on to start their own businesses or get college degrees.  They are life-long learners, with great life outlooks and ethical mindsets.  However, what the movement doesn’t seem to want to talk about is some of my other home schooled acquaintances over the years.  Many of the home schooling parents I knew were home schooling their kids because they thought that only by home schooling them could they keep them from getting laid before they got married, and protect them from the Russians/New World Order/Federal government/Satan/Whoever-the-big-bad-was-that-week.  Their sexual obsession combined with their political and religious paranoia was passed on to their children as a lot of weirdness that continues to haunt those kids as adults.

I’ve known “unschooled” kids who were as sharp as tacks and witty conversationalists to boot, but I’ve also known parents that “unschooled” their kids because they were literally too lazy to get their ass out of bed and get their kids to school.  I’ve known functionally illiterate kids, kids that didn’t know any math you couldn’t learn off a flash card, kids whose understanding of world history stopped in 1957 and included only subjects starting with B, C, N, R, and XYZ (because that was the publishing date of the incomplete set of World Book Encyclopedias their parents got at a garage sale), 16 year olds who didn’t know where babies came from, and 18 year olds with 6th grade educations because their parents decided that was enough.

That is to say nothing of the kids I knew who parents beat the living hell out of them, and they had no mandatory reporter (like a school teacher) that they had regular daily contact with.  Kids that got punched through walls, kids that were ordered to beat their siblings or their dad would beat them worse, and one 16 year old that actually recognized that she was painfully stupid and had no social skills so she got a boob job the day she turned 18 so she could snag a rich guy.

Yes, there are kids like that in the public school too, but I’ve never met a parent who moralizes for hours about how awesome the public schools are, or how parents who really care send their kids to public school.  I’ve also never met a parent whose kids are are public school who tries to tell me that their teachers know best and no government oversight is needed. But I have been moralized at length, told homeschooling is the best option, told that any accountability is a government take over, etc. etc., etc. by otherwise mainstream, healthy home schooling parents.

Home schoolers: I support you.  I support your rights.  But the utopianization of home school families has to stop…for everybody’s benefit.

 

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The Patriarchy from the one of the most privileged men on earth   Leave a comment

When I first stared studying feminism, the way some feminist authors wrote confused the hell out of me, so this is me trying to explain a feminist concept in really simple words.  Apparently these things seem to confuse some other men too. Observe this little Q and A from yahoo answers:

Q. What is the Patriarchy anyway?

A. “Evil patriarchy” is a lie that feminists made up and use as propaganda to justify hatred against men & boys.

Huh…well that’s total bullshit.  Let’s try the aptly named iblamethepatriarchy.com

Patriarchy, which invisibly persists as the world’s most popular social order, is a really bad scene based on an oppressive paradigm fetishizing dominance and submission. Benefits in this culture of domination are accrued according to a rigid hierarchy at the top of which are rich honky adult males and at the bottom of which are poor female children of color. Within this hierarchy, women, regardless of race or any other status markers, constitute a sub-human sex class. I Blame the Patriarchy endeavors to expose to feminist scrutiny and critique the many schemes and gambits — legislation, adjudication, media, medicine, culture, religion, Oprah, tradition, etc — through which the dominant culture controls the sex class and sustains the global humanitarian crisis that has ensued as a result of its ceaseless violence.

Having read feminist bloggers for a couple years now, I get exactly what she is saying, and I agree.  However, for your average working class stiff, that style of prose can be a little thick. I think what’s happening is that feminists are social technicians, mechanics for the machine of society, if you will, and they tend to write like it.  Shop manuals don’t say “take out the doohicky by the wuttzit under that big round thing” because the whole point of manual is to give you precise instruction.  That requires a lot jargon.   There’s two problems though.

(1.) A lot of people think that feminist are at least peripherally motivated to make the world a better place.  Most people with a messianic mission put huge amounts of effort it making their pitch as lucid to beginners as possible so they can pick up more converts.  Feminism mostly doesn’t worry about that.  Feminism101 is great spot for that sort of thing, but IBTP says right on the about page “I Blame The Patriarchy is intended for advanced patriarchy-blamers. It is not a feminist primer.”  Jeez.  What’s up with that? Why doesn’t the author want you to get it?  If your a man, you’re probably thinking something to the effect of “If this is so damn important, why isn’t somebody helping figure out what the hell they are saying?”  (More on that later).

(2.) It immediately pisses you off, for several reason.  For starters, You can’t recall ever “fetishizing dominance and submission” and you don’t think women are “sub-human”.  Also, you just lost your job, you’re in debt up to your eyeballs and your piece of crap car is getting reposed.  If you have a spot in this rigid hierarchy that puts you at the top, why do you keep getting screwed?

So let me offer you my very simple explanation of the Patriarchy…

Q. You know how you work your ass off to make a better life for yourself, and maybe for your wife and kids too, and she got the kids in the divorce and you are paying for it, and you never seem to get ahead, and everything sucks?

A. That’s the Patriarchy.

Wasn’t that incredibly easy? Don’t you see why they get pissed of at the Patriarchy? Aren’t you on their side now?

Q. Buh, buh, buh, but, what about all that stuff about women?

A.  Ok, pretend you play major league baseball. You and your team are kidnapped by some kind of murderous, eccentric millionaire and taken to his private island, where you have to play football against the hometeam, a top rated NFL team, to survive.  Even though every single one of you is an elite athlete, you will lose everyday because you have to play football, even if the rules are enforced totally fairly on both teams.  In other words, even if the rules of the game are enforced fairly, those rules disproportionately harm those who the game wasn’t made for.  Everything the Patriarchy does to hurt you, hurts a woman in your place more, because it’s not her ‘game’.

Q. But why?

A.  That’s the stuff about hierarchy.   If you are rich, white, man your sort of the top rated NFL team in that example, the further you move from that, harder it is to compete.  A rich white woman probably has an easier time of the game than a poor white man, but  poor black man has it harder than poor white woman.   The absolute bottom of the food chain is a disabled black girl.  This is not my opinion, if you don’t believe me look at the statistics for every measure of quality of life, like likelihood of abuse or arrest for a noncriminal activity.

Q. But how?

A. Because money is power, and 400 people own more than 50% of the wealth on earth.  To put that in perspective, 0.0000000005% owns 50% of the planet, and 99.99999995% own the other 50%.  They make the rules, and they are all white males. (Again, look this up if you don’t believe me)  In creating a system that keeps their kids in the top 5* 10^-8 of society,  they created a hierarchy, and it goes like this (1.) Parentage (2.) Sex (3.) Race (4.) Age (5.) Sexual inclination (6.) Gender (7.) Ability.   I honestly don’t think they put the poor, female, black, 14 year old, gay, transgender, and disabled person on the bottom…it just worked out that way.  They fight hard to stay on the top and someone else has to stay on the bottom.  If they didn’t fight to keep the hierarchy, they could lose everything, so fuck the other billions.  The whole damn system from top to bottom is broken, because that tiny fraction of the population cannot possibly make good decisions for everyone else.

Q. But how am I’m benefiting from the Patriarchy?

A. Not as much as you want and far too much at the same time.  You are correct that you are not a member of the illuminati of something, and you probably don’t have nearly the easy ride you might if you were farther up the food chain, but the fact is, you DO have privilege. Your position in society is better than it would be without it, and someone else’s (problem a woman, probably not white, and probably not in American) is worse.

Finally, I said I would answer why feminists don’t seem to take their messianic role to men very seriously.  Their messianic role isn’t to men.  It’s to women, hence the term…feminism.  The Patriarchy sucks for everybody, but it sucks much harder for women.  Over the years a lot of men have shown up in feminism and thought that what feminism was really missing more men…ie, that the problem with feminism is that it wasn’t Patriarchal enough.  I’ve found that if you support feminists because they are right, they are very positive and helpful, and you support them because you think you should get a cookie for being a man who supports feminism, they are quite dismissive.   It’s that “I should get a cookie” mindset that really pisses them off.  They tend to see it as symptomatic of that privilege I mentioned earlier…because it is.  Why should you get a cookie for thinking they should have the same opportunities you should?

Let me add a final one:
Q: But aren’t you writing this at least in part to get the approval of feminists?
A. Yup.  But I don’t think I’m entitled to it.  Privilege is thinking you should get something  just because.  I work on not behaving like an entitled ass whenever possible.

Andrej’s body is not controversial   Leave a comment

I’ve tried off and on through the last couple days to form some cohesive thoughts about a man named Andrej Pejic. He is a model brought to my attention by a friend after reading my last post.

He is seen to be very beautiful.  For sake of honesty, I have to say “seen” not because I can’t appreciate male beauty (I can) but simply, my tastes lie elsewhere, and I have to take other people’s word for it.   To me, there is something disturbingly callow and insipid about runway model, but if nothing else, I can see the statuesqueness of his face, and recognize that while my standard goes more towards Peter Paul Ruben’s, Andrej’s delicate shoulders do have a certain grace.

Something horrifying to me, however, is the how often his name is linked to the term “controversy” or “controversial”. If you google “andrej pejic controversy” you will find about 100,000 links.  Now many of these will simply make statements something like “Andrej Pejic was in a controversial advertisement.”   Since “advertisement” is the object of the controversy, that’s not really a big deal.  Controversy is a synonym of argument, and every advertisement makes (overtly or covertly) several statements or messages, any of which are open to argument.  But if you look very deeply into these things, you will find that a bit of linguistic slight of hand is taking place, and that while some of the articles are truly saying that controversy seems to follow Andrej, others are flat-out saying Andrej is a controversy.

If a person’s body is the message, then what is the counter message?  When existence is the point of an argument, what is the logical counterpoint?   I think the argument made by his body is “I also exist” and the counterpoint is “No, you don’t.”  Now there are two ways you can challenge an argument. You can bring facts, figures, notes, and evidence, and you can reason it out like equals, or you can just silence the arguer.  When technology has made it so the message can go out and echo long after the arguer has spoken, a simple gag in the mouth has to be replaced with censorship, and Andrej’s image has been censored.  Barns and Nobel blacked out a book cover that displayed Andrej’s pretty face and bare chest, saying “Well, people might have thought he was a woman.”

It’s an interesting case of censorship, because it was not the depiction of some vile act that was blocked, but a man standing in an open shirt.  Andrej’s argument “I also exist” was censored admittedly because B&N did not think their customers would enjoy the argument that human being who doesn’t fit socially constructed gender roles even exists.  But that’s only how you censor an image. If the existence of a person is the argument, how do you censor the existence of a person?

Observe: The Homosexual Agenda. you will see that the Christian Right’s nauseating concept of the gay agenda is based entirely on censorship of existence.  They don’t so much have a problem with gays existing, per say.  They have problem with the argument “I also exist” that a gay person’s existence proves, and they demand that gayness, as a way of being, be censored.  Consider the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy,  the essential argument of which was “It’s OK to be gay as long as you hide it and lie about it.”  Or the now infamous “Don’t say ‘Gay’ bill” in Tenesse, the purpose of which was to “bar schools from presenting any prepared material or lessons about homosexuality to students before high school.”   Returning to more to gender matters, there is the case of the Macy’s employee who said “There are no transgenders in the world.” (Which must come as rather a surprise to the +100 million transgendered people on earth.) and refused to let a transgendered shopper use the changing room. But, you see, she doesn’t like their argument of “I also exist”, so she simply refutes it and expands on it, “No you don’t, and no one like you does out of 6.8 billion people.”

As Beth Ditto once noted about being a gay, fat, female rockstar…sometimes, something as simple as existing is all the message you need to piss people off, and in fact the only message you need at all.

A perspective on disability   Leave a comment

A story

So, I have a disability:  I can’t run 60 mph, and snow and rain slows me down even further, but luckily I have really great piece of adaptive hardware (A Volvo V70) that allows me to have a normal life.  Of course, since I can’t afford one of the better power chairs (Like a Ford Expedition or a M1 Abrams tank), I’m almost totally dependent on the government to provide me an infrastructure that my mostly-smooth-surface Volvo can handle.   Again, fortunately for me, there is a fantastic infrastructure available.  I can use my adaptive device almost everywhere.  There’s hundreds of thousands of miles of paved trails that are designated for people who share this disability.  In fact, normal people, without the same adaptive equipment aren’t even allowed to use OUR infrastructure so there is more room for us, and the unique needs of our power chairs.

Yesterday it snowed, and the city didn’t clear the hill by my house, making it a slippery, icy mess.  All my similarly disabled friends were infuriated by how we were following our civic duty and paying taxes, but the city wasn’t following it’s civic duty and maintaining the infrastructure that allows all of us disabled people to use the different parts of the city.  This is fairly rare.  Usually the city really takes us into consideration with everything it does.  It never builds a park unless we can get to it, and it regularly improves the infrastructure so that I and all my disabled friends to get to more places.  A lot of people have a similar disability, in that they can’t carry up to 40 tons of cargo.  Almost identical infrastructure is needed for their adaptive equipment (Peterbuilts and Macs and such), and every effort is made to make sure they can get to all the stores around town.  For them we make paths a little wider, a little stronger, and parking a little bigger.  For both groups, service centers and refueling centers for our adaptive devices are among the commonest of all businesses.  Truly, we live in a great world for disabled people.

A truth

A disability is a limitation, and a car really does correct your limitations.  You can’t run 60 mph, and you can’t carry hundreds of pounds of stuff.  A car really is an adaptive device that lets you do those things.  Without roads, your car is useless.  You are 100% dependent on the government to provide an infrastructure that makes it possible to use your adaptive device.  I have never heard anyone complain about everyone’s taxes going to build an infrastructure for this particular disability.  If a bridge is needed to cross a tiny creek that separates two business districts, no one even ponders telling car owners to buck up, no one ponders telling the business owners to build it themselves, and no one bulks at putting the infrastructure costs of their adaptive equipment on society.

A question 

Why do people think it’s right to build a publicly supported infrastructure for their inability to be a car, but wrong to build a publicly supported infrastructure for other’s inability to walk?

A man on feminism   Leave a comment

So here I’ve been chipping away at understanding feminism.

Let me start by saying that I support feminism, even when I don’t have 100% agreement with individual feminists.  There are feminists out there that are batshit insane.  There is no Matriarch of Feminism, lording (ladying?) over the Grand Universal Church of Feminism.  As such there is no catechism, and no way to kick people out who violate the non-existent standards.   So, some feminists, like the people who think that maleness itself is a form of rape, are nucking futz.  But feminism is why my wife can vote and I dont know anyone working harder to make the world a better place for my daughter.

Sometimes I think the whole movement is wrong in a way  too.  It seems to be tainted with Marxism.  Marx said some brilliant things, and do think it is fair to say that the Soviets were not the best example of Marxism that anyone ever thought of.  Sometimes I hear things they say, and like religious people, I respect the direction, if not the execution of their beliefs.  The catch is, the position of women in the US is horrible.  Everything that makes life rough for anyone in the US, lack of a social net, taxes, healthcare, etc…it’s all worse for women.  That’s not my opinion, it’s solid facts that you can look up for yourself.  So even when the feminists are nuts, their nuttiness pushes the whole of American society closer to a better world for women.  Since most men love some women, that’s a better world for everybody.

But I do have 3 pieces of (unsolicited advice).  I offer this not only to feminist, but literally all leftists, it just applies most directly to feminists.  Note also, feminists, that I’m not saying with this little list, that any of the systemic problems that these put back in YOUR individual laps aren’t real systemic problems.  They are real. They are systemic, and top-down change will be required.  But I just want to talk about some of the bottom-up things we can do while we are waiting for the top down-change.

(1.) Don’t buy crap you don’t need.

This is huge.  One of the big top-down changes that I hear about is media.  We need to control the media better because it’s controlling us.  They say that they are just giving us what we want, but they are insidiously poisoning our minds with with materialism and a corrosive body image.  And I agree. So I don’t buy crap. Ever. Don’t buy gossip rags. Don’t buy fashion mags. Don’t buy porn (lord knows there is enough out there free).  Think TV is corrupting your soul? Stop watching.  Think the news is giving you biased crap?  Stop watching it.  There are numerous overseas, English-language news outlets.  Use those.

(2.) Don’t have sex with misogynists.

Please, please, please stop having sex with men who treat you like shit.  The demand for sexual experiences excedes the supply.  I promise you, if handsome, rich misogynists can’t get laid, and goofy looking, poor, feminists can, douche bags of the world will quickly convert to feminists.  We have a society where sex is power…go on strike.

(3.) Treat people the way you want to be treated.

Yelling at guys for telling rape jokes to strangers is awesome. Keep doing that, because it needs to be said.  Please, though, don’t say things like “Heterosexual intercourse is the pure, formalized expression of contempt for women’s bodies.”  (Andrea Dworkin).  I don’t want to be lumped into a giant group of violent criminals.  I bet no one wants to be told that that because they belong to a group they must have value X, or behavior Y.   It can be truish, if you say it right like “White men, in general, make more than anyone one in the US.”  That’s a fact!  But please take the time to not say that every white man makes more than everyone else, because (1.) its a stupid lie, (2.) it’s bigoted, (3.) It’s not something you would want done to you…don’t do it to others.