In defense of the sanctimonious women's studies set || First feminist blog on the internet

Ten people didn’t die in Santa Fe because a girl “spurned” a boy

A screenshot of a Reuters headline reading "Spurned advances provoked Texas school shooting, victim's mother says"
Nope.

Screenshot of headline from the New Zealand Herald reading "Spurned advances from Dimitrios Pagourtzis provoked Texas shooting, says mother of girl killed"
Also nope.

Screenshot of Los Angeles Times headline reading "Texas school shooter killed girl who turned down his advances and embarrassed him in class, mother says"
Another nope.

Collage of screenshotted headlines from news outlets: from SBS News, "Spurned advances spark Texas shooting"; from WVOM, "Spurned Advances May Have Provoked Suspect in Santa Fe, Texas School Shooting"; from the National Post, "Student charged with 10 murders had been publicly rejected by his first victim before massacre"; and from KHOU, "Verify: Did Santa Fe shooting suspect target a love interest?"
Nope, fucking nope, nope, and are you kidding me with this “love interest” bullshit?

Last week’s school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, didn’t happen because a girl “spurned” Dimitrios Pagourtzis. It didn’t happen because she “humiliated” him or “embarrassed” him in front of the class. It was neither “sparked” nor “provoked.”

The headline is not that a girl rejected him. The headline is that Pagourtzis harassed her for four months before going on his killing spree.

Shana Fisher had every right to do what she is said to have done. After a reported four months of increasingly aggressive harassment, Fisher finally resorted to one of the only options left: bringing the attention of their classmates to the matter as a deterrent. Any woman who’s ever stood up in a bar and said loudly, “No, I don’t want to go anywhere with you, so stop asking” knows what that’s like and, frankly, how scary it can be.

It should be noted that the claim, made by Fisher’s mother, has not been corroborated by other students, and that Pagourtzis himself has denied it. But none of that has kept the media from framing it as the impetus for the attack. It ignores Pagourtzis’s agency in the entire thing, makes it sound like regardless of any horrendous tendencies on his part, he might have kept it together if only Fisher hadn’t “humiliated” him. And it reduces the issue to a single embarrassing event, and not a months-long history of harassment during which he had plenty of chances to understand that his advances were unwelcome.

This is why women don’t speak up. This is why we try to let guys down gently when what we really want to do is tell them to fuck directly off. This is why “we need to teach girls to say no” so very much misses the point and puts the responsibility on the victims of harassment. Whether or not Fisher’s mother is right about her daughter’s experience, it’s one that is seen over and over and over and over again. Just ask the family of Maren Sanchez, whom Christopher Plaskon stabbed to death after she turned down his prom invitation.

There is nothing a woman can do that warrants a mass shooting. There are men who feel entitled to a woman’s attention and react with anger when they don’t get it. There are men who don’t respect women enough to accept “no” when they hear it. There are men who have been taught that anger and violence are the only acceptably “manly” responses to emotions like disappointment and embarrassment. There are men with a history of violence and easy access to firearms. But there is no high-school Helen with a face that can launch a thousand bullets.

This kind of reporting is actively harmful. It conveys a message that this is the price of telling a guy “no.” It tells women that preventing violence against them is their responsibility. It tells the world that preventing violence against women is women’s responsibility. And in this case, it puts the entire shooting on Shana Fisher’s shoulders: like #WalkUpNotOut, the shooting wouldn’t have happened if she’d just been nicer.

Women standing up for ourselves doesn’t “spark” or “spur” anything, and it sure as hell doesn’t “provoke” a man to murder ten people. No one was responsible for the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School but Dimitrios Pagourtzis. Whatever his motivation, whatever and whoever enabled him to commit this crime, one girl saying “no” didn’t launch a damn thing.

Yeah, that looks better.

Because We Need It: Bad stock photos

Dark-haired woman in white bra and panties sitting on bed with open laptop
When we say freelance copywriters don’t wear pants, we aren’t mentioning everything else we don’t wear. (Photo credit depositphotos)

Sometimes, life is hard, and the world is unpleasant, and you just need a smile. Now people are showing how bad stock photos go beyond women laughing alone with salad. There are also #BadStockPhotosOfMyJob, and they can get… pretty bad. (Or… pretty spicy.)

I will offer my runner-up for bad copywriter stock photography.

Young woman in jeans and plaid shirt uses laptop while sitting on the edge of a rooftop

If you aren’t copywriting on the edge, you aren’t really copywriting.

How not to make a feminist music video

Side-by-side comparison of a shot from Childish Gambino's "This Is America" as he guns down a black gospel choir, next to the corresponding shot from Nicole Arbour's "Women's Edit" that shows a bunch of cheerleaders holding a giant check
Same, right? They’re basically the same.

Normally, I put this at the end, but seriously, who cares what I have to say? – C

Required Reading

Blue Telusma at The Grio, “White woman tried to colonize Donald Glovers’ ‘This is America’ and her trash video is everything wrong with white feminism”

Kaitlyn D’Onofrio at DiversityInc, “A White Woman’s ‘Feminist’ Remake of ‘This Is America’ Is an Epic Fail”

Melinda Fakuade at The Outline, “You Don’t Need to Remake ‘This Is America'”

Malinda Janay at Blavity, “Alleged Comedian Desecrates Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’ With White Feminism In God-Awful Remake”

Childish Gambino (known to his parents as Donald Glover) broke the Internet May 5 with the release of his music video, “This Is America.” It’s a nuanced and incredibly layered commentary about the experiences black people face in the U.S., from gun violence to police brutalization to commercialization of culture.

YouTube… person Nicole Arbour jumped on that video and created the “Women’s Edit” (not linked here) that no one has been asking for. Piggybacking off of the original’s popularity, she strips away the aforementioned nuance and layers, smears some lip gloss on it, and has no idea why she isn’t getting rave reviews.

Arbour encourages everyone to “create their own version of this video,” and… don’t do that. But if you decide to make your own original, non-appropriative feminist video, here are some tips for making it not completely shit.

1. Be talented. Which really should go without saying.

2. Don’t half-ass it. ‘Bino’s vastly superior video has chaos and violence in the background as he and schoolchildren entertainingly perform a carefully curated series of dance moves and a hooded figure on a white horse gallops by. Arbour’s version, released barely a week later, has her forcefully grabbing her own titties while shouting “These are my titties!”

3. Understand scale. At the beginning, ‘Bino shoots a guy in the head, then carefully places the gun on a scarlet cloth as the body falls to the ground. Arbour sneers and takes a picture of a woman breastfeeding. Not that sneering at women breastfeeding in public is a good thing. It’s just not, you know, gun violence. And then there’s, like, everything else in the entire video.

4. Understand metaphor. One of the things that makes the original “This Is America” so powerful is that every single element means something. Arbour matches ‘Bino’s minstrel-like poses with Rosie the Riveter, and replaces dance moves that reference Nigerian dance, minstrelsy, and pop culture with crotch-thrusting, hypersexualized women dancers. One of the most striking fails is Arbour’s take on the sequence where ‘Bino sings and dances along with a gospel choir, then grabs a semiautomatic rifle and guns them down. At the same point in Arbour’s video, a bunch of cheerleaders jump around with a big-ass check. You’d almost think Arbour has no idea what any of the video means and doesn’t care because look! It’s a thing I can take! Thanks for meticulously crafting a powerful video for me to steal and shit on, Childish Gambino.

7. Understand eugh. “If I were a guy, you wouldn’t be asking yourself, ‘I wonder who wrote that?'” Oh, just shut up.

And the big number 8. Let other people have their thing. The world is not crying out for your shit. The conversation does not have to be about you all the time. Discussion of the oppression and struggles experienced by black people — including black women, Nic — is not a jumping-off point for you to talk about your own problems. Do you sit by a friend’s hospital bed and say, “Remember when I sprained my ankle last spring?” (Well, yeah, Nicole probably does.)

The problem isn’t that the feminist issues Arbour is addressing aren’t important. It’s that drawing a parallel between life-or-death concerns and a selection of issues that are comparatively (comparatively) superficial is trivializing. The effect is, “Oh, you think getting murdered in your church by a white supremacist is bad? Try being an underpaid cheerleader.”

And for that matter, if you want to look at feminist issues, how about the fact that the black woman at the beginning of the video nursing her baby faced a maternal mortality rate three times that of a white mother? That the guy roofie-ing the woman almost certainly won’t get prosecuted, and the rape kit probably won’t even be processed. (And it’s still not something that needs to be overlaid onto “This Is America.”) Hell, even SNL’s “Welcome to Hell” is more effective, because it applies a catchy and ironic sugar-pop glaze to the reasons women have to carry weapons and travel in groups for physical safety, and also it’s original and entertaining and doesn’t appropriate someone else’s powerful, meaningful, and deeply considered work of art and social commentary.

So that’s how you make a feminist music video: Make your own video. Don’t hijack someone else’s because you’re too lazy and entitled to do anything else, and because “[their] shit is just cooler.” Don’t be awful, is my point. It’s too late for Nicole Arbour. It doesn’t have to be too late for you.

Millionth verse, same as the first 999,999: White lady calls the cops

Yale student Sarah Braasch uses the camera on her phone after calling the police to report a black student napping in the dorm common room
“Hello, 911? There’s a black woman asleep in my dorm common room, surrounded by the accouterments of a college student, and I need you to send the police right away. … Yes, I am Sarah Braasch. Please hurry.”

Y’all, we just went over this.

Do not call the cops on people of color because they’re at your park and you don’t want them there.

A white woman called the police on a black family at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California, last month while they were setting up for a day at the park.

Their crime, according to the unidentified woman, was barbecuing in one of the park’s designated barbecue zones using a charcoal grill.

[…]

[Grill-user Onsayo] Abram told the San Francisco Chronicle the woman began arguing with him about his grill being illegal while he was setting it up.

“I proceed to tell her, ‘Hey, there’s not a posted sign. I believe I’m in the correct area. Go on about your day and leave me alone,'” Abram told the newspaper. “So she said, ‘No, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I’m gonna need you to shut this down, or I’m gonna call the police.'”

Lake Merritt has six designated barbecue zones — three that permit charcoal grills and three designated for “non-charcoal portable grills,” according to the Oakland city website. The family was in a barbecue-designated area, but had a charcoal grill in a “non-charcoal” zone.

[…]

“Why are you so bent out of shape over them being here?” [barbecue attendee Michelle] Snider asked the woman, as heard in the video below.

“Because it causes extra money from our city to do things when children get injured because of improperly disposed coals,” the woman replied.

Eventually, the woman walked to meet police officers at a nearby convenience store and began to cry, saying she was being harassed. Snider followed her to the police, asking for the woman to return a card that she says the woman took from her.

(Bonus points for strategic deployment of White Lady Tears.)

If they’re in a grilling area but not that kind of grilling area, don’t call the cops on them. If you aren’t the actual Barbecue Grill Police, don’t call the actual cops on them. And if you’re the one being the asshole, definitely don’t call the cops on them.

Do not call the cops on them because they’re in your dorm and you don’t want them there.

In what is becoming an all-too familiar episode, a black Yale University graduate student was interrogated by campus police officers early Tuesday after a white student found her sleeping in a common room of their dorm and called police.

[…]

According to [student Lolade] Siyonbola, she was working on a paper in the Hall of Graduate Studies when she fell asleep in a common room. Another female student came in, turned on the lights and told her, “You’re not supposed to be sleeping here. I’m going to call the police.”

Siyonbola pulled out her phone and recorded 54 seconds of a hallway encounter with the unidentified student, who told her, “I have every right to call the police. You cannot sleep in that room.”

After two white police officers arrived and began questioning her in a stairwell, Siyonbola posted 17 minutes of their encounter to Facebook Live.

When Siyonbola asked them about the complaint, one officer said, “She called us (and) said there’s somebody who appeared they weren’t … where they were supposed to be.”

The 34-year-old grad student in African studies unlocked her dorm-room door in front of police to show that she lived there, but they still asked for her ID. “You’re in a Yale building and we need to make sure that you belong here,” the other officer told her.

After some hesitation, Siyonbola handed her ID over. “I really don’t know if there’s a justification for you actually being in the building,” she told the officers, saying she needed to get back to working on her paper.

[…]

The officers in the dorm admonished the student who called police, saying Siyonbola had every right to be present, according to Kimberly Goff-Crews, Yale’s vice president for Student Life.

If they’re asleep, surrounded by papers and a computer, in the common room of a dorm — which might be one of the world’s least efficient ways to gain access to a college dorm for nefarious purposes, if that’s what you think they’re up to — and doing something that college students have done pretty much for as long as there have been colleges, don’t call the cops on them.

Except there wasn’t any chance of that not happening, because Sarah Braasch — the Yale philosophy doctoral student who raised the alarm — has a history of not liking black people in her dorm. Back in February, she called the cops on fellow student Reneson Jean-Louis for the crime of black-in-dorm-being. He was in the Dorm of Doom to attend a meeting with, in fact, Lolade Siyonbola. He actually rode the elevator to the 12th floor with Braasch, found himself lost, and asked Braasch for directions to the Common Room of Doom, which she had just exited. So she blocked the door, harangued him, told him he didn’t belong there and was making her uncomfortable, and then fucked off to call the cops.

Fun facts about Sarah Braasch: She already has two engineering degrees, a law degree, and a master’s degree in philosophy (to “to address the sub-human legal status of the world’s women at the source, the philosophical foundations of law”) and is now working on her philosophy Ph.D. She once won a middle-school debate about slavery by arguing that some enslaved people liked being enslaved. She is “to address the sub-human legal status of the world’s women at the source, the philosophical foundations of law” who supports banning burqas. She is opposed to hate crime legislation. And she refers to her time as a Jehovah’s Witness as slavery, saying, “I was a slave who extolled the virtues of being a slave. I was a slave who insisted that I had chosen slavery of my own free will, of my own volition,” but Sal, I thought you said choosing slavery was a good thing?

So confusing, Sarah.

So now we have #NappingWhileBlack and #CookingOutWhileBlack to add to #WaitingWhileBlack and #ShoppingWhileBlack and #GolfingWhileBlack and #WorkingOutWhileBlack and #NotWavingWhileBlack, so I guess it’s a good thing Twitter bumped its character limit up to 280. Either Yale police are going to have to start asking, “Is this Sarah Braasch?” every time a woman calls to report a black person breathing her oxygen, or while women, you’re going to have to stop calling the cops on people of color. Or both! You know what, let’s go with both.

Quick Hit: Henrietta Lacks is being honored in the National Portrait Gallery

More than six decades after Henrietta Lacks died from cervical cancer as doctors performed research on cells taken from her without her consent, she’d being honored with a painting in the National Portrait Gallery. The painting recognizes her life, the significance of the “immortal” cells stolen from her, and the nature of the violation against her

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery recognizes the life of Henrietta Lacks with the installation of a 2017 portrait by Kadir Nelson. The painting will be installed on the museum’s presentation wall on the first floor Tuesday, May 15. The portrait was jointly acquired by the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture as a gift from Nelson and the JKBN Group LLC, and will be shared by the two museums. The artwork will be on view at the Portrait Gallery through Nov. 4.

[…]

Lacks (1920 – 1951), whose great-great-grandmother was an enslaved person, lost her life to cervical cancer at age 31. During her treatment, doctors took cells from her body and discovered they lived long lives and reproduced indefinitely in test tubes. These “immortal” HeLa cells have since contributed to over 10,000 medical patents, aiding research and benefiting patients with polio, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease and other conditions.

[…]

Commissioned by HBO, Nelson used visual elements to convey Lacks’ legacy. The wallpaper features the “Flower of Life,” a symbol of immortality; the flowers on her dress recall images of cell structures; and two missing buttons allude to the cells taken from her body without permission.

Dear white women, please stop calling the cops on black people

Black-and-white, 1950s-style image of a scared, blonde, white woman on the phone
“Hello, 911? There’s a black man standing in front of my store, and I need you to send the police right away. … Yes, I am a racist. Please hurry.” (Photo credit Everett Collection/Shutterstock)

Dear white women,

From one white woman to another: Please stop calling the cops on people of color.

Do not call the cops on them because they’re in your coffee shop and you don’t want them there.

On April 12, [Rashon] Nelson and [Donte] Robinson arrived 10 minutes early for a business meeting at a Starbucks in the Center City neighborhood of Philadelphia and wound up leaving the location in handcuffs. Upon arriving, Nelson asked whether he could use the restroom, and was told by a white manager that the restrooms were only for paying customers.

“And I just left it at that,” Nelson told “Good Morning America” last month.

After Nelson returned to the table where Robinson was sitting, the manager approached them to ask whether she could help get them drinks or water.

Two minutes later, she called the police to report “two gentlemen in my cafe that are refusing to make a purchase or leave.” Officers arrived a few minutes later. Robinson recalled thinking that “they can’t be here for us.”

Nelson told “Good Morning America” that the police told him and Robinson that they had to leave without any discussion. They were then arrested, and Robinson said they were not read any rights or told why they were being arrested.

If they aren’t doing anything wrong, and they’re doing the same thing all the white people are doing, don’t call the cops on them.

Do not call the cops on them because they’re on your golf course and you don’t want them there.

Five African American women say a golf course in Pennsylvania called the cops on them because they were golfing too slow.

[…]

Ojo told police the women were golfing slow because they were “rusty.” But she didn’t think they were holding up other golfers.

One man in the group of golfers behind Ojo’s backed up the assertion.

The man, Jerry Higgens. told police he thought it was unusual the women’s group had five golfers instead of the standard four. But, he said, their speed “did not slow his group down in any way.”

[…]

But Steve Chronister, who co-owns the course, told police the women weren’t meeting the time guidelines, and delaying tee times for other golfers.

He called 911 twice.

If they aren’t being aggressive or threatening or violent, and all they’re doing is the same thing all the white people are doing, don’t call the cops on them.

Do not call the cops on them because they’re in your store and you don’t want them there.

Mekhi Lee, Eric Rogers and Dirone Taylor were shopping at the Nordstrom Rack on Thursday when they noticed store employees closely eyeing them and following them through the aisles. Lee has just completed his freshman year of college and was with his longtime friends, Taylor and Rogers, who were shopping for prom.

[St. Louis NAACP President Adolphus] Pruitt said that one of the men wanted to try on a shirt, so he removed his hat to do so. The store employees kept following the men, Pruitt said, so they decided to leave.

Shortly after, the man who had tried on the shirt realized he left his hat in the store, so the three of them went back. That’s when they were approached by an elderly white woman who had also been shopping.

“Now they’re confronted by an elderly white woman in the store who says to them, ‘Would your parents and grandparents be proud of what you’re doing?’ ” Pruitt said. The woman also referred to them as “a bunch of bums,” according to Pruitt.

[…]

While the men were paying for their items, they heard staff employees say they were calling the police. Pruitt said the men left the store and waited for the police to arrive.

When they did, the officers said they had been alerted to three black men who were shoplifting. The men showed the police their receipts and let them search their bags, Pruitt said.

If they aren’t actually shoplifting, and they aren’t interfering with fellow shoppers, and they aren’t doing anything harmful to the merchandise, don’t call the cops on them.

Do not call the cops on them because they’re in your gym and you don’t want them there.

In the Facebook post, [Tshyrad] Oates said he signed in under the four-day guest pass to work out with a friend, a current member who was already at the gym. About 30 minutes later, the employee who signed Oates in told him he had to leave or pay, Oates wrote.

Oates wrote that he reminded the employee that he had already signed in with her, using the guest pass.

Unaware that a manager had signed in Oates’ workout partner, the employee said Oates’ workout partner was the one who didn’t pay, Oates wrote. Oates’ workout partner told the employee that he was an active member but his gym tag was in his locker, Oates wrote.

As Oates and his friend continued working out, two police officers arrived and questioned the two men about their memberships, Oates wrote.

Oates explained to them about his guest pass, and his workout partner rescanned his gym tag, according the Facebook post.

They resumed working out and 10 minutes later a manager told the two men to leave, according to Oates.

Oates said they told the manager they didn’t do anything wrong.

He said other police officers soon arrived and also asked the two men to leave.

If they’ve checked in and paid, and reminded you that they paid, and they say they’re a member, and for the love of God all they’re doing is working out, don’t call the cops on them.

Do not call the cops on them because they’re shy.

For the two Native American brothers, Colorado State University was their dream school.

But when they showed up for a campus tour, a parent of another prospective student called the police on them because they apparently made her “nervous,” the school said.

Friday, the university’s police released the audio of the 911 call in which the parent reports 19-year-old Thomas Kanewakeron Gray and 17-year-old Lloyd Skanahwati Gray. She says their behavior is odd and that they’re wearing “black clothing.” The school also released footage of officers pulling the teens out of the group to question them.

[…]

When the police confirmed the brothers were part of the tour, they let them rejoin the group. But by that time, the tour had moved on, the school said.

If their only sins are dressing like a teenager, being reluctant to talk to a total stranger when she starts asking them pointed questions, and giving answers that you perceive as lies just ’cause, don’t call the cops on them.

Do not call the cops on them because they didn’t wave back at you when you waved at them.

At first, Kelly Fyffe-Marshall’s stay in Rialto, California, was ending pretty normally. She and her four friends — three of them black women — checked out of their Airbnb rental and dragged their luggage to their vehicle.

Then things got weird.

Seven police cars showed up. The neighborhood was seemingly locked down.

Then things got scary.

The police told Fyffe-Marshall and her friends to put their hands in the air, and then informed them a helicopter was tracking them.

[…]

Fyffe-Marshall, a filmmaker, detailed her experience in a Facebook post that caught fire this past weekend.

“A neighbor across the street saw 3 black people packing luggage into their car and assumed we were stealing from the house. She then called the police,” Fyffe-Marshall wrote. “At first we joked about the misunderstanding and took photos and videos along the way. About 20 minutes into this misunderstanding it escalated almost instantly.”

If all they’re doing is loading suitcases into their car — seriously, if all they did was not wave at your entitled ass — don’t call the cops on them.

Police encounters for people of color aren’t the same as they are for white people. They’re not just an inconvenience. They aren’t just something they roll their eyes about and get over.

The police aren’t your personal security guards. They aren’t there to get people to leave, or to get them to settle down and behave, or to scare them straight. They aren’t there to check up on people you find scary on account of them being extremely tan. They aren’t there to indulge your racist wiggins. The police are there to arrest people. If you call the cops on a black person, you’re calling for someone to arrest them, whether you intend to or not. (I’m looking at you, Starbucks manager.) You don’t call the cops on a black person in pursuit of an “amicable [fucking] result.”

If your victim is lucky, all they’ll be is traumatized by the encounter. Maybe, like Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, they’ll be forced to stand in the street with police cars surrounding them and police helicopters overhead. Maybe, like Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, they’ll spend time in jail before being released when it’s concluded that they did nothing whatsoever wrong. Maybe they’ll sit in jail until they lose their job. Maybe they’ll end up wrongfully convicted of a crime. Maybe they’ll end up dead.

You’re nervous or uncomfortable or “sick to your stomach.” They’re afraid for their life or, potentially, actually dead.

You know when little Jaxxon was acting up and you marched him up to a police officer and told him that if he didn’t start behaving, the officer was going to arrest him? This is not like that. This is someone who could end up hurt, arrested, or dead because you don’t think a black person could afford to live in your neighborhood or shop at your store, or you don’t think a shy Native American kid in a heavy metal sweatshirt belongs on your campus tour. Suck it up. There’s stuff that’s more important than your discomfort — for instance, human lives, and human dignity.

If you feel call-the-cops threatened by two men sitting while not drinking coffee, or three women putting suitcases in a car, that is your problem. Don’t make it theirs. Because if it’s theirs, it will be a hell of a lot worse.

Required Reading

Jenn M. Jackson, Calling the Police on Black People Can Put Them in Danger

Karen Attiah, “Calling the police on black people isn’t a Starbucks problem. It’s an America problem.”

Monique Judge, “Starbucks Witness: Implicit Bias Exists and White People Need to Speak Up When They See It”

The “redistribution of sex” is rape

Evan Rachel Woods as Dolores Abernathy in Westworld, holding a gun on an aggressor offscreen
“Someone said something about a rebellion?”

The redistribution of sex is rape.

That’s because sex isn’t a commodity. Even commercial sex isn’t a commodity. Sex, of both the amateur and the professional variety, is an activity performed by people, and the only way to “redistribute” it is to compel someone to perform it when they otherwise wouldn’t. And compelling a person to perform sex when they don’t want to is…

If you’re thinking, “Wow, what an obvious point. We shouldn’t even have to talk about this,” you’re right. It’s ludicrous. The thought that, say, it should be presented as a harmless but intriguing thought experiment by a George Mason University economist and a New York Times op-ed columnist is absurd.

And yet.

Two weeks ago in Toronto, Alek Minassian drove a rental van into a crowd of people, killing 10 and injuring 14 others. He’d written on Facebook, “The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!” Some might read that and think, “Wow, that is some fucked up shit, and maybe we need to be paying more attention to this group of people who believe they’re entitled to sex from the women of their choosing.”

But if you’re GMU economist Robin Hanson, you read it and think, “Sounds valid. Since being involuntarily celibate is essentially like being impoverished, the obvious answer is to get these guys the sex they want. How can we get women to fuck them, so they won’t kill again?” And if you’re NYT columnist Ross Douthat, you read that and think, “Sounds legit. Definitely worthy of consideration.”

The problem is that no, being “involuntarily celibate” — “unable to get laid,” for the rest of us — isn’t the same as living in poverty, and “redistributing sex” isn’t worthy of consideration because it’s rape.

I want to make the distinction between sex and sexual gratification, because they are distinct. The former requires two (or more) willing participants, and the latter can be a solo affair. Redistributing sexual gratification is no problem — universal healthcare and subsidized pocket tooties should take care of it. And you know what? I’m all for it. Checkups and sex toys for all! (Caperton for President 2020.)

But sexual gratification isn’t what the incels are on about. They aren’t complaining because they can’t get off — they’re complaining because they can’t get it on. And specifically, they’re complaining because they can’t get it on with the women with whom they want to do so. They want to fuck “Stacys” — hot chicks — and are horribly, unfairly put-upon because said Stacys want to sleep with “Chads” instead. The only sexual partners they want are the status symbols.

And that’s just one reason that sex workers or Douthat’s proposed sex robots aren’t an answer to the problem. A sex robot is just a super-advanced, interactive version of a Fleshlight (or, of course, the classic dominant-hand-and-a-bottle-of-lotion). If all a guy wants is a woman-shaped figure to make ecstatic noises as he pounds away at it, even though he couldn’t find the clitoris if it lit up and played music (note: On the LS-model ‘bots, it lights up and plays music), a sexbot would be fine. But that’s not what these guys want. They don’t just want the sexual gratification — they want status. Neither a paid sex worker nor a non-sentient sex robot carries the prestige of an honest-to-God Stacy, and if Stacys are who the Chads are fucking, then nothing short of a Stacy will do.

Discussing redistribution of sex as a thought experiment is tricky enough because it validates the idea that sex is something that can be considered separate from the people who are having it. Discussing it in this context is straight-up gross because it validates the idea that “incels” really are being moved to violence because they’re pathetic, lonely figures longing for a woman’s touch and not creepy, dangerous fonts of toxic masculinity who feel entitled to the vagina of their choice presented without complaint. A man murders people with a van, while celebrating a man who murdered people with knives and guns, and the discussion immediately goes to, “How can we get women to have sex with guys like this?” Because instead of working these men through their dangerous sexual entitlement, it’s better just to indulge them in it, as if throwing women under the bus is better than letting them be mowed down with a van. (Required reading: Vivian Kane at The Mary Sue discussing the “Incel Rebellion” as misogynist terrorism.)

To be clear: Plenty of people go without sex for long periods of time, voluntarily or involuntarily, without turning to resentment and/or violence. Plenty of people long for sex with someone they can’t have sex with, say gosh what a pity, and go have sex with someone else. Plenty of people have friends-with-benefits hookups to take the edge off. Plenty of people make eye contact with the only other person in the bar right before the lights go up at two in the morning and think, “Eh, I guess you’ll do.” Only incels turn it into a movement laced with hatred and violence. And then, somehow, the Robin Hansons and Ross Douthats of the world are, like, “We shall be their champions,” even as the bodies of their victims aren’t yet in the ground.

Sex can’t be “redistributed” without coercion because at some point, the person on the other end is going to say no. The government can hand out money-and-plastic-surgery grants until every incel in the country is basically a slightly richer Hemsworth brother, and there will be women — paid and unpaid — who will not want to fuck them. And it is their right to not fuck them. Because for all that incels believe women are only motivated by money and looks, there’s also a thing called personal agency that can’t be legislated.

Sex is not a commodity. Women are not a commodity. Sex workers are not a commodity. Women’s agency is not a commodity. And if Robin Hanson and Ross Douthat want to pretend it is, they can go fuck themselves. That is a redistribution of sex I can get behind.

Thanks for fixating on eyeshadow, and other observations about the WHCD

Comedian Michelle Wolf delivers her monologue from the podium at the White House Correspondents' Dinner
“Hey, did you hear the one about the presidential administration that’s already done irreparable harm to the very concept of truth?”

I can only imagine that the White House Correspondents’ Association’s vetting process went as far as “Oh, look, a cute curly redhead!” when they chose Michelle Wolf to provide the entertainment at their annual dinner Saturday night. She delivered what was, all told, a pretty tame monologue for her, taking jabs at the current presidential administration as is customary for comedians at the White House Correspondents Dinner, and… and? A lot of it was crass and kind of tacky and pretty much entirely true, which is I think is what bothered them so much. The criticism, however, came out in the form of “I don’t mind a joke, but going after Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ appearance crossed the line!” which is fun because she didn’t actually do that. (She said three words even remotely related to Sanders’ appearance, and one of them was “perfect.”) But I guess it’s easier than responding directly to Wolf’s legitimate criticisms of the current media environment.

A few comments on her WHCD monologue:

1. Wolf didn’t have enough relative power in that room to “bully” anyone but the waitstaff, so quit whining, snowflakes.

2. By my count, she said 175 words about Sarah Huckabee Sanders, but judging by the media response, “perfect” and “smoky” and “eye” are the only ones that made it into the microphone.

3. Apparently no one understands how desirable and well-nigh-unattainable a perfect smoky eye really is.

4. If Wolf really was trying to slam Sanders’ appearance, she wouldn’t have made an eyeshadow joke and an Aunt Lydia joke in the same set. It doesn’t work. I mean, watch the show.

5. Did anyone else read her “softball team” comment as kind of homophobic? No one else seems to have objected to it, so maybe I’m seeing stereotypical lesbian tropes when they’re not there. Or maybe people are so busy defending a straight, cis, white woman with the power of the White House behind her that they didn’t pay attention to anything else.

6. Wolf did body-shame Chris Christie, and I legitimately do believe it was out of line.

7. TBH, I thought Wolf’s monologue was only about two-thirds funny, but not because it was offensive — I just thought some of the jokes were kind of weak. The Kellyanne Conway/tree bit was pretty generic, and since Mike Pence has supported electroshock therapy for LGBT kids and enabled an HIV outbreak in his home state, it seems odd to go with abortion for that section. Just my opinion.

8. Admittedly, Wolf had a job of work coming up with jokes about the current administration, because absolutely nothing about the past fourteen months has been funny. ICE is tearing families apart left and right, sometimes using arguably unconstitutional tactics. Protective policies for LGBT people are crumbling. Our national debt is skyrocketing. The West Wing has basically become a revolving door for accused criminals (including a man of “true integrity and honor” and domestic violence). And let’s not forget the administration’s constant attacks on the press who happen to be gathered right there in the banquet hall, but let’s bring the lols, Michelle, all right?

In light of that, here are a few jokes, free of charge, that cannot be argued to have anything to do with anyone’s appearance:

“Isn’t it wacky how Kellyanne Conway always addresses Chris Cuomo as ‘Christopher’? What a scamp! It’s because he gives her such a free platform to spread the administration’s lies largely unchecked that they’re pretty much besties now!”

“Has anyone noticed that when Sarah Sanders says ‘listen,’ everything that comes after that is unmitigated bullshit? Ha! Better stick with peddling misinformation from behind the podium, Sarah, because there’s no way you’re going to have a successful poker career with that tell!”

(I’m also available for weddings and bar mitzvahs.)

9. Media, if you don’t want to be called out for sucking, you should suck less. I’m sorry that what is usually a roast of the current administration turned on you at the end, but… everything Wolf said about you was right. You helped create Trump. In 2016, you broadcast entire campaign rallies for free because he was so entertaining, and now you’re 24-hour porn stars, quartets of pundits shouting over each other so you can’t understand a word, Trump campaign rallies (still, like he ever says anything new or honest at those events), and talk show appearances that end with the phrase “your new book will be coming out.”

You accept “the president has no statement about that” or “I think our position on that is clear” and fail to follow up on blatant lies during press briefings as if the press secretary’s one job isn’t to provide information to the press. A relationship that is meant to be adversarial has become one of back-scratching because that’s the price of access, which should in and of itself be a story, as should be the real significance of the White House’s contempt for the free press, but we can’t be bothered with that right now because Pickle wants to mow the lawn or whatthehellever.

I know the WHCD is supposed to be a night of self-celebration, to “offer a unifying message about our common commitment to a vigorous and free press” (per WHCA president Margaret Talev). It sort of makes me wonder why you keep inviting political comedians to provide the entertainment if your entire goal for the evening is to eat rubber chicken and exchange shoulder massages in a Hilton ballroom. If you want to do that kind of thing without criticism, you need to keep it all in-house, because pretty much no one else thinks you’re doing a stellar job. (Seriously, you should have done more research before you got her to do this.)

10. Flint still doesn’t have clean water.

Quick Hit: Bill Cosby’s finally going to jail — but for how long?

Bill Cosby is guilty. (Not that we didn’t know that already.)

Yesterday, a jury found Cosby guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault against his accuser, Andrea Constand. While it isn’t a ruling on the other 59 women who have accused him of assault, there is a degree of vindication: We told you he’s a rapist, motherfuckers.

The convictions could result in a prison sentence of up to 30 years, as handed down during his as-yet-unscheduled sentencing hearing. That said, because of course, his sentence could end up being much shorter — or nonexistent. Cosby’s team is already preparing an appeal of the verdict.

Based on his conviction this week on three assault charges, comedian and TV star Bill Cosby could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

But legal experts said the 80-year-old certainly will spend less time than that behind bars, and there’s a very real possibility that he may not ever be incarcerated.

Why? Well, it’s mostly to do with his defense team’s plan to appeal the guilty verdict — likely on the grounds that the decision to allow five other accusers to testify in the trial unfairly prejudiced the jury.
Cosby’s attorney, Tom Mesereau, will probably ask the court that his client be given home confinement during the appeal, which could take months or even years, CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson said.

Even if he does end up in prison, there’s no telling how long he’ll stay there.

Though Cosby faces a maximum of 30 years in prison, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele indicated he would not press for that sentence.

“He was convicted of three counts of (indecent assault), so technically that would be up to 30 years. However, we have to look at a merger of those counts to determine what the final maximum will be,” Steele said.

Legal analyst Areva Martin said the judge’s rulings so far suggest he will give Cosby a much reduced sentence.

“I think the fact that the judge yesterday allowed him to walk out of that courtroom, did not remand him immediately to jail, gives us a sense about what this judge is likely to do when he gets to the sentencing hearing,” she said.

“He will be able to take into consideration Cosby’s age, the status of his health, the philanthropic work that he’s done over the last several decades, the fact that this is his first criminal conviction — all of those will be factors that the judge can take into consideration when sentencing him.”
A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.

He’s been a very good boy, y’all. And even when you drug and sexually assault a woman (or, potentially, 60 women), that’s what matters.

Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s reproductive rights

A female doctor in a lab coat sits with a female patient, looking at a clipboard
“I’m required by state law not to tell you that all of this is complete horseshit.”

Women aren’t stupid.

(I mean, on average.)

Over time, we’ve begun to vote, work, sign for our own credit cards, and helm blockbuster movies and society hasn’t collapsed under the weight of our unfettered ignorance. Certainly, given accurate information to work with, we’re capable of making decisions about our own bodies. We’re capable of deciding if we want to have kids, when we want to have kids, and how many kids we want to have.

And that is precisely why so many groups lie their little asses off when the subject of reproductive health arises: because they want to be the ones making the decisions. They don’t like the choices we’re making for ourselves — particularly when it comes to our reproductive health — and because we can no longer legally be leg-shackled to the fridge making horrible things out of Jell-O, they have to resort to manipulation.

If that sounds a little hyperbolic, that’s… because it’s my writing style. But it’s also real. When women are given accurate information about their health and are allowed to use it, they make good decisions and life gets better. But if you have a different agenda, manipulating that information is the way to go.

Straight-up lies

Crisis pregnancy centers’ business model hinges on lying to women. Many pretend to be medical facilities, even going so far as to dress their staff in lab coats to lure in pregnant women who are in need of actual medical advice. And the “medical advice” is usually more lies, falsely linking abortion to depression, breast cancer, and infertility. They frequently set up shop close to actual, legitimate reproductive health centers to intercept women — one CPC in New York is located across the street from a Planned Parenthood clinic and has a banner saying, “Plan Your Parenthood.”

If your services really are beneficial to women — the best choice they can make during a really difficult time in their life — you should be able to sell them on their merits. If the success of your business relies wholly on actively deceiving women in crisis, you are the worst kind of scum.

Of course, the big winner in the “liar” category has to be our own government. In 26 states, doctors are legally required to recite a litany of misinformation to their patients in the name of informed consent. A lot of it echoes the lies told by CPCs (breast cancer, infertility, depression) with some new classics like PTSD, “post-abortion syndrome,” and fetal pain.(The newest hit? Four states have passed a law requiring doctors to tell women about an untested and scientifically unsound procedure that purports to reverse medical abortions.) Usually, the lies are told at the beginning of a 24- or 48-hour waiting period to give pregnant women time to stew over the bullshit provided by their trusted doctor, in the hope that they’ll be scared away from the procedure.

Some doctors do their best to mislead their patients as little as possible, peppering their monologues with “the state requires me to tell you” and “there’s no scientific evidence” and “the thing I have the most problem having to tell you.” But some states are determined to deliver nothing but unvarnished lies to pregnant women — a Planned Parenthood clinic in South Dakota, for instance, was found in violation of informed consent laws for providing too much information. How much is too much? The clinic prefaced the mandated lies with the phrase “Politicians in the state of South Dakota require us to tell you.”

Physicians, to whom we’re supposed to be able to go for medical guidance, and who promise to first do no harm, are required to lie to their trusting patients or risk legal action.

Lies by omission

When it’s not outright lying, it’s withholding information. In the U.S., 26 states mandate abstinence-only or abstinence-plus sex education. (“Abstinence plus” means that contraception can be mentioned, but the curriculum is mostly passing an unwrapped candy bar around the classroom and telling girls not to be sluts.) Eleven states require abstinence-only sex ed (which really calls for scare quotes at that point — “sex ed”). Only 13 states give teenagers the comprehensive information they need — and deserve — about their own bodies.

Abstinence-only education doesn’t reduce the rates of teen pregnancies or STIs. It doesn’t even reduce the number of teenagers prematurely gettin’ down. All it does is make sure that when said kids eventually start doin’ it, they don’t know how to do it safely.

The next part gets even more depressing, so I’m going to warm you up with this video of a Mississippi teacher teaching students the safest way to put on a… sock.

Don’t forget to pinch the air out of the tip of the… sock before rolling it on.

Arguably the most pernicious example of this is the Global Gag Rule (also known as the Mexico City Policy). The Global Gag Rule prevents the U.S. from providing global health assistance to any NGO that so much as mentions abortion to patients. Not just providing abortions — acknowledging them at all. If, for instance, a teenage girl comes in with pregnancy complications (the second leading cause of death for adolescents 15 to 19 worldwide), her doctor can’t even acknowledge that terminating her pregnancy is something that exists.

Under previous incarnations of the rule, clinics have had to reduce staff, reduce services, or close altogether. So if the girl doesn’t die from her complications, she’ll die because all the local healthcare providers shut down for lack of funding. But at least she didn’t get an abortion, right?

Actual, true things that aren’t lies

Here are some actual facts that people are omitting and flat-out lying about:

If you can’t sell your message by its merits and have to resort to misleading, equivocating, misdirecting, omitting, and flat-out lying, your message is shit. If you are comfortable misleading, equivocating, misdirecting, omitting, and flat-out lying to women — and teenagers, and people of all genders and ages in developing countries — you are shit. If you’re willing to leave teenagers in the dark so they can go off and do risky stuff because no one told them the truth, you’re shit. If you’re an elected official and you’re comfortable lying to your constituents because that’s the best way to control their bodies, you’re shit.

Be honest. Show integrity. Have a spine. Be a marginally decent human being. Tell the truth.