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Clarification and Meeting this morning on Women’s Reproductive Rights

The comment thread from the last post evolved into a discussion on whether the Democrats are going to try to ram another historic candidate down our throats in 2016 and whether her iconic status is sufficient reason to vote for her. The answer to that is yes and maybe.  I have a couple of things to say about this, assuming that you’re interested.

1.) You should only vote for the best candidate.  That candidate, in my humble opinion, should possess a combination of characteristics based on experience, knowledge, ability to convey his or her message and another quality that Winston Churchill was said to possess.  That is, a “built in gyroscope”, or a worldview that orients the bearer regardless of circumstances.  One might call it morality or ethics or scientific method or a mix of all of these things.  This quality may have something to do with the internal vs instrumental motivations that were described in a recent NYTimes Op/Ed.  In other words, ambition and desire for external rewards make a bad president if they are not balanced by an internal drive to shape the country to one’s worldview.  You can draw your own conclusions about what that says about our current resident of the oval office.

2.) I absolutely do believe that the country needs to elect a female as president.  That is because a woman will have a worldview that is distinct from her 40 something predecessors and this worldview is going to be important to the majority of the population of this country who also happen to be women. I think women have a right to demand this. However, we have seen from the present president that that might not mean diddly-squat without those internal motivations mentioned above.  It isn’t enough to want to be number one.  You need to have a plan for doing stuff once you get there.  So, once again, being a woman, though extremely desirable to about a zillion of us, is not the most important thing ever.  She has to want to be there for a very specific reason.

Now, I realize that there are people out there who could give a flying fig about the concerns of women and find it all a big yawn.  You know who you are.  And you don’t want to get pressured to vote for a woman like you were pressured to vote for Obama.  I completely understand the desire to not get pressured.  It’s like being forced to vote for homecoming queen because a certain clique of people have decided that they are going to pick the winner for you and they have some teachable, schlocky, sentimental rationale for doing it when really it all comes down to who their friends are or money or both.  I get that.  And Obama has not really improved the lives of African Americans so you have to wonder why he gets so much support from them and why he was sold as such a great civil rights leader and cherry on the top of the civil rights movement.  Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof and, in my opinion, it wasn’t there.  What was there was a billion dollar Charlotte’s Web campaign.  Terrific pig, maybe, but not a terrific Martin Luther King Jr. whole hog.  Let’s not kid ourselves.

But your boredom with women candidates and their urgent concerns coupled with your insistence that a certain female candidate jump even higher bars than any other male candidate on earth has ever had to do just plain pisses me off.  And, frankly, I’m tired of hearing your lame excuses as to why you won’t vote for “that woman”.  Come to think of it, I might not vote for “that woman” either if she doesn’t turn her fricking gyroscope on soon and start making her worldview known, whether the masters of the universe like it or not.  But that’s not the point.  If it turns out that “that woman” is the absolute best candidate we have, I expect you to get behind her. Not because she is a woman but because you may not find anyone better, male or female, that is able to get close enough to the top to command the kind of money to actually, you know, run.

If you’re going to hold her to a particular vote, hold all of the candidates accountable for the same votes.  If you’re going to whine about campaign fund raising, do the same for all of the candidates.  If you’re going to expect certain levels and types of experience from her, expect it from all of the other candidates.  |female candidates| = |male candidates| Don’t single women politicians out for special expectations because that just comes off looking sexist and neanderthal and ornery and not worth any of my time to read about.  In short, stop being a jerk.

Ok, I’m done.  You get my point.  Don’t do it again.

***************************************

The Senate is holding a hearing on:

S.1696, The Women’s Health Protection Act

It starts in about 10 minutes.  Probably on C-Span.  I’ll link to it when I find it.  Could be interesting.

Update: Well, here’s the link.   Not sure when this is going to air.

Compare and Contrast: A little consistency

Bayeaux Tapestry: Cleric slaps Aelfgyva. It’s just tradition.

So, I read this the other day at Eschaton:

Obama Administration: Defense of Marriage Act is Unconstitutional

             BRIEF FOR THE UNITED STATES ON THE MERITS

Marriage is, of course, a vitally important institution, and one supported by the federal government through benefits and other programs that rely on marital status. An interest in preserving marriage as limited to heterosexual persons, however, does not justify Section 3. Tradition, no matter how long established, cannot by itself justify a discriminatory law under equal protection principles.

Then, I remembered that it was only about two weeks ago that the White House did THIS:

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Friday proposed yet another compromise to address strenuous objections from religious organizations about a policy requiring health insurance plans to provide free contraceptives, but the change did not end the political furor or legal fight over the issue.

The proposal could expand the number of groups that do not need to pay directly for birth control coverage, encompassing not only churches and other religious organizations, but also some religiously affiliated hospitals, universities and social service agencies. Health insurance companies would pay for the coverage.

The latest proposed change is the third in the last 15 months, all announced on Fridays, as President Obama has struggled to balance women’s rights, health care and religious liberty. Legal experts said the fight could end up in the Supreme Court.

Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said the proposal would guarantee free coverage of birth control “while respecting religious concerns.”

Now, I am delighted that the LGBT community’s argument that traditional marriage is just “traditional” is getting the recognition it deserves.  That tradition is usually based on religious principles that many of us don’t subscribe to and in actuality, those religious principles undermine marriage and family integrity.

But I can’t for the life of me figure out why women are so damn powerless with the Obama administration and why the argument “Tradition, no matter how long established, cannot by itself justify a discriminatory law under equal protection principles” gets no traction with the White House when applied to over half the Americans in this country .  Tradition is destiny for women in Obama’s America.

Where is NOW now that their Feminist in Chief is traditionalizing the religious role of women in American society?  And why are people like Culture of Truth mum on that subject?

Just askin’.

Why questions

Why does Adam Davidson even have a recurring Sunday column in the NYTimes?

Why are there so few women opinion makers and so many male opinion makers who go on to become pompous gasbags on Sunday morning talk shows?  Why do I get the feeling that when MoDo dies or retires, she’ll be replaced by someone like Kevin Drum?

Why do I get the feeling that the lack of female voices in major media outlets has to do with the fact that they are unlikely to identify with the villagers?  Why are the villagers so much like the Taliban in their repression of women in the public forum?

***********************

Why do otherwise smart bloggers make a big f&*(ing deal about re-electing an African-American president when it was clear that the re-elected dude’s whole campaign revolved around making giant leaps of hyperbolic meme planting about how evil his opponent was while simultaneously re-inforcing learned helplessness to make sure his own disgusted base didn’t defect to third parties?  Why doesn’t this blogger see that many people felt they didn’t have a choice and it had nothing to do with melanocyte density?  Why doesn’t the blogger understand that if the disgusted had a choice they would have ditched the dude even if he had been the first purple skinned president in history?   Why doesn’t he understand that this is not a triumphant moment but an indication of the feeling of impotence in the electorate?  And why doesn’t the blogger admit that the ability to “win” a nomination and have a series of unfortunate events lead to winning an election is no guarantee that the candidate will be anything more than an inexperienced, mediocre, banker sycophantic president who is a notoriously poor negotiator, even in his second term?  Why won’t the left shut up about Obama because going on about racism and politics is about as out-of-touch with everyday living conditions as it is possible to get and the rest of the electorate, even the ones on their side, is starting to resent it?

Why doesn’t the blogger understand that it is even less possible now for an intelligent, left of center female to win the presidency than it was 4 years ago and that it will probably never happen in my lifetime because Obama’s campaign showed how to take out the female competition?

Why doesn’t the blogger understand that there were/are dozens of women who were more qualified to be president and had years more legislative experience than Obama and they were never even considered by the Democratic party?  Why do we just assume that they wouldn’t have been better presidents than Obama?  Why do I get the feeling that the next conservative grand bargaineer that the Democrats try to rush through will be a woman and the meme machine will say “It’s her time!” and everyone will jump on the bandwagon and inadvertently elect another Reagan lover?

Why do most left blogosphere bloggers act like no damage was done to women by the hateful way women candidates were treated in 2008?  Why are they living in la-la land about how women’s standing has been set back?  Why are they so fucking clueless?

Why do I get the feeling that Democrats are as dumb as a box of rocks?

Men do not mentor women

Obama Aides Drinking Beer Shirtless in Local DC Bar 2010

The NYTimes has an article on the front page about the dearth of women in the senior positions of the Obama administration.  The paper tries to make it sound like it’s on a par with the Clinton administration but far, far better than the Bush administration.  I love how they keep trying to rewrite history.  We remember how Clinton kept nominating women to the Attorney General’s office until he got one that didn’t have a nanny problem.  And then there was Madeleine Albright.  She was a first.  Then came Ruth Bader Ginsburg, only the second woman on the Supreme Court.  And Joycelyn Elders.  Who could forget her?  It was Bill Clinton who hired Brooksley Born, even if she was overruled by Summers, Geithner and Rubin.  And who could forget his most important advisor on health care reform, Hillary Rodham Clinton?

So, what is the NYTimes saying?  “At least they’re not as bad as the last guy” is not a winning message, IMHO.  Ahh, here’s a possible answer:

Interviews with current and former members of the administration, both men and women, suggested that there was no single reason for the discrepancy, and several repeatedly spoke of the administration’s internal commitment to diversity and gender equity.

But several said that the “pipeline” of candidates appeared to be one problem. They said it seemed that more men than women were put forward or put their names forward for jobs. In part, that might be a result of the persistence of historical discrepancies: men have traditionally dominated fields of government service like finance, security and defense.

Oh, my!  That sounds insurmountable!  What’s a president to do if he only gets recommendations that are male?  He simply cannot change the status quo.  It is impossible.

Bullshit.

Of COURSE men are going to put other men in the pipeline.  It is human nature for people to be comfortable with people who are most like themselves.  In this case, having a penis is extremely important.  Don’t ask me how it is important.  It just is.  Apparently there are urinary challenges to overcome or circle jerks where women are genitally challenged.  Who knows what initiation rites one must undergo to get into the pipeline?  Maybe it’s a matter of being tall enough to play center forward.  Or being able to get onto the greens at the right country club.  Whatever it is, it has nothing to do with the job.  It just has to do with a certain comfort level, to be able to sound important and have that sound acknowledged, to be able to swear without fear, to be able to take one’s shirt off when playing billiards at the local bar.

You know, guy stuff.  Men do not mentor women.  I have never seen it in a professional setting.  Let me think….  Nope, I can’t think of a single instance when men mentored women in the chemistry field.  Sometimes, women were hired to management positions and then the men around them bitched and moaned about how unqualified they were but I never witnessed one woman chosen from her male colleagues who was nurtured and forwarded for a management position by a senior male.

The president *could* just say, “your list must consist of as many females as males”.  We might expect him to set an example or be proactive but I guess that’s just too much to ask of this president.  He might force his team to come up with female names.  That might make the people making recommendations to form a professional relationship with some females, whether they liked it or not.  And that might get females into the pipeline.  As it is, since all of the candidates are male, half of these guys are going to be below average.  Are the candidate pickers trying to say that there are absolutely NO women who are better than the average guy to fill these positions?  Oh, wait, that was a Larry Summers idea.  See Brookesley Born reference above.

I would try harder if I were the president.  There’s really no excuse at this point.

Obama fans have a lot to answer for when women stagnate and regress for eight straight years under a “Democratic” president.  Does the end still justify the means?  One might reasonably argue that in 1993 and 1996, women were just starting to percolate through the system.  But 20 years later, there’s really no good excuse anymore.  As Dina Refki, executive director of Women in Government said in the article:

Experts on women in government suggested that more transparency might help equalize the gender ratio as well. “We know that to bring that level of leadership to 50 percent, we have to make a deliberate effort to find women and appoint them to that level,” said Dina Refki, the executive director of the Center for Women in Government and Civil Society at the University at Albany. “Most of the time that deliberate effort isn’t made.”

Has there been anything close to a deliberate effort made?  This mother of two daughters says, “definitely not”.

Let’s examine Obama’s remarks on women’s issues on Tuesday, shall we?

Thanks for coming out tonight, ladies

I see that there are number of bloggers who are falling all over themselves trying to make it sound like Obama’s comments on women were somehow better than Romney’s “binders full of women” memorable moment.  Disclaimer: I don’t like Romney, not planning to vote for him, think Republicans in general are full of s^&* and think that if you vote for a Republican instead of a third party candidate because you are still pissed about 2008, you need to have your head examined.  If you’re still angry and disappointed with the Democrats for giving us a non-Democrat for president, vote third party. It’s the only way to get through to the assholes.  You’re doomed no matter whether you vote for Obama or Romney in 2012, let’s just be honest about that.  Ok, disclaimer out of the way…

I knew it was coming.  The minute the question came about how the candidates intended to rectify inequalities in the workplace for women, I could picture the robotic elf in Obama’s brain reaching for Lilly Ledbetter. That automaton was planted there by Plouffe or Axelrod as the thing that THEY think is the surefire solution to placating the ladies, like we can’t trust our lying eyes when we look at our (non-existent) paychecks. Yeah, mansplain Lilly Ledbetter to them again.  Once again, we heard about how it was the *first* thing he signed when he was in office.  He made it sound like he fought for it, gave passionate speeches in support of it, twisted Joe Lieberman’s arm, threatened, cajoled, pled, begged the recalcitrant House Democrats to vote for it for the sake of his old, uncomplaining granny.

But no, that is not what happened was it?  The truth is that Lilly Ledbetter fell into his lap.  It was the first thing he signed because it was almost the first thing on his desk after he took the oath of office.  And THAT, Ladies and Gentlemen, is where Obama stopped doing anything for women.  Signing Lilly Ledbetter, that law that allows women to pursue a claim of pay discrimination without time limits was the first and last thing he did to correct inequity in the workplace.

Lilly Ledbetter was a consequence free vote for legislators.  You may have the right to still file a lawsuit but to do it means you need to ask human resources for the salary information and what woman in her right mind is going to do that?  Did Lilly Ledbetter make it mandatory for companies to post that information for everyone to see without identifying themselevs by asking and risking retribution or poor performance evaluations?  So, Lilly Ledbetter does not put the law on womens’ side after all.  It’s very limited and you’d have to be nuts to risk your job to put it to use.  Employers have nothing to fear.  Just ask the thousands of Walmart female employees who have been protesting gender inequality for years and lost another case as recently as yesterday. There was another more important bill on paycheck fairness that never passed and as far as I know, Obama’s attitude was “meh”.  The bill failed to pass the Senate this past June.  Please note that the Democrats are in the majority in the Senate and even though they no longer have a filibuster proof majority like they did in 2009-2010 when passing the Paycheck Fairness act would have been easier, they still have enough votes to make obstructing it very painful for the Republicans.  The Democrats didn’t do it and I can’t remember Obama marching down to Capital Hill to make life difficult for anyone who didn’t get onboard.  Wake me when Obama puts as much energy into that as preserving a banker’s bonus.  By golly, if Congress threatened to take away a bonus, you can bet your ass Geithner and the bank lobby would snuff that initiative out toot sweet but fairness for more than half the country’s population?  Nope.  Not a problem.  If he isn’t screaming bloody murder about the Paycheck Fairness act before the election, then I think we can just forget about Obama having any intention of addressing gender inequalities.

Integrity means putting your actions at the service of your words.  Obama didn’t.

What Obama did say during Tuesday night’s debate was the same STUPID personal story about how his granny was stiffed by her own employer and didn’t complain.  This seems to be a bit of a pattern with the Obamas.  If you ask for justice and fairness, you’re a whiner.  Michelle told us about how teachers worked for free in bankrupt school districts.  They didn’t complain about not having the means to feed their own kids, they just did their patriotic duty.  Isn’t that special?  It reminded me of the patriotic sacrifice of thousands of banking vice presidents, analysts and associates who, at Obama’s request, gave up their bonuses to save the taxpayers money and as an apology for wrecking the economy.  Oh, wait, that didn’t happen. But women will be expected to sacrifice without complaint in the workplace because I didn’t hear Obama once say that he intended to do anything about the persistent problem of gender inequality.  He said nothing about the Paycheck Fairness bill, he didn’t say anything about the EEOC fanning out to workplaces where there have been complaints filed in order to conduct statistical studies and presenting the employers with a compliance order or a fine in order to get their asses straightened out.  He didn’t have a policy at all like the one we might have heard from a female candidate from his own party.

It was a pathetic answer.  It was a non-answer.  It. Did. Not. Work. For. Me.  And I doubt that many professional women were satisfied with it even if a lot of clueless male bloggers were.  Neither candidate intended to use the law to make sure that women were paid as well as men for the same job.  There was no suggestion that parental leave would be adjusted so that neither parent would be penalized for taking it.  There was no concern over how many fewer women have jobs during this little Depression compared to men.  It’s like they were completely unaware of these problems.

Then there is the accusation from many women in the Obama administration that the White House was a “hostile work environment” for women staffers and appointees.  The man is a hypocrite if ever there was one when it comes to women and the workplace and as far as I can tell, he has no intention of using his power to enforce existing laws or push for new ones.  Indeed, if he is elected, what incentive will there be for him to do anything for women at all?

This election is about giving voters a choice and choices have to do with deciding who is better.  There are many reasons why we should reject Romney, the most significant one being that he is a Republican and Republicans have a recent history of being reactionary assholes when it comes to women.  Ironically, Democrats *also* have a recent history of being reactionary assholes when it comes to women, Lilly Ledbetter notwithstanding.  And by the way, how long did it take for Obama to rescind the Bush Conscience Rule?  Trick question! As far as I know, it’s still on the books.  It has simply been amended. (I take that back.  He finally got around to rescinding it last year.  No, I was right the first time.  It was only “revised”, not rescinded.  Jeez, you would have thought that rescinding it would have been the first thing he did for women after taking office since it didn’t require a Congressional vote.  You would think it would be a no-brainer for him but you would be wrong.)

In this election, I have no reason to vote for either candidate and Obama didn’t give me one on Tuesday night to vote for him.  Obama has not differentiated himself on women’s issues compared to Romney and it is too late to cram.  All nighters will not help him now, well, at least not with me or many other women who got the shaft since 2008.  So, don’t try so hard, left blogosphere.  What do women have to gain from you cheering for Obama? You and I know that Obama offers nothing to women in terms of advocacy or enforcement.  Why not just tell the truth?  Your guy is pathetic on just about everything that’s important to you but you’re scared shitless of what will happen if the Republicans eek out victories in Congress and the White House. But you have been unable or unwilling to make him do anything for you.  He and his backers think they have beaten you and you’re still carrying water for him.  Doesn’t that imply that you’re working for your enemies?

Oh, and one final thing.  Obama made a last desperate attempt to redeem himself with his constituency on the Libya disaster by taking responsibility, praising Hillary and then turning around in the next sentence and saying, “She works for me”.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.  There was the old cock on the walk, stomping all over Hillary, making her look like a weak subordinate woman who not only didn’t have the right to claim responsibility but who he did a great favor by offering her the consolation prize of Secretary of State.  As far as womens’ issues are concerned, he is a dispassionate, unconcerned lightweight compared to her and it is painfully obvious to everyone by now, Naomi Wolf included, that he is not Christmas and New Years and Hannukah or a cape-crusading super feminist.  All that machismo posturing is not a winning formula to me.  But it’s still important to him make sure everyone knows that he beat that bitch. That move right there said all I needed to know about which gender he was reaching out, or reaching around, to keep at that moment and during this election season.

It wasn’t the ladies.

Gender Bias in the Hard Sciences? No Duh

Madame Marie Curie- 2 time Nobel winner

Here’s the bad news:

Despite efforts to recruit and retain more women, a stark gender disparity persists within academic science. Abundant research has demonstrated gender bias in many demographic groups, but has yet to experimentally investigate whether science faculty exhibit a bias against female students that could contribute to the gender disparity in academic science. In a randomized double-blind study (n = 127), science faculty from research-intensive universities rated the application materials of a student—who was randomly assigned either a male or female name—for a laboratory manager position. Faculty participants rated the male applicant as signifi- cantly more competent and hireable than the (identical) female applicant. These participants also selected a higher starting salary and offered more career mentoring to the male applicant. The gender of the faculty participants did not affect responses, such that female and male faculty were equally likely to exhibit bias against the female student. Mediation analyses indicated that the female student was less likely to be hired because she was viewed as less competent. We also assessed faculty participants’ preexist- ing subtle bias against women using a standard instrument and found that preexisting subtle bias against women played a moder- ating role, such that subtle bias against women was associated with less support for the female student, but was unrelated to reactions to the male student. These results suggest that interven- tions addressing faculty gender bias might advance the goal of increasing the participation of women in science.

I disagree with the premise in the first sentence after the abstract that there is a severe shortage of scientists that is going to worsen by the end of the decade.  That simply isn’t true.  What *is* true is that there will be a shortage of scientists who want to keep doing work in the sciences for minimum wage, which is where industry wants to take us.  Industry can keep whining about the lack of labor but what it really wants is cheap labor that it can lay off at will and underpay and as I  have said before, smart people tend to steer away from that kind of work.  If they make enough money, they can do science as a hobby, like D. E. Shaw.  But I digress.

Pick any woman working in the hard sciences, academic or industrial setting, and they will all of them tell you some personal horror story.  I myself know of several:

  • The female chemist who was hired to be a group manager.  I heard non-stop snippy comments from her male subordinants about how she was just a quota.  Her qualifications were nothing special.  She was taking the place of a more qualified male chemist.  No, they didn’t have anyone in mind specifically.  Just in general.  Since she was the ONLY woman at her level, I could never figure out why the guys felt they needed 100% of those positions all to themselves.  They couldn’t even fork over one position to a qualified woman?  Were we supposed to be running, some kind of affirmative action program for white male chemists because 90% representation at the managerial level was unacceptably low?  Are white male chemists some kind of protected group?  This was just after she took her position, so I could never figure out how they made the decision so quickly that she wasn’t worthy.  My interactions with her pretty good.  I liked the way she communicated.  It was low key but very focussed.  And she was pretty smart and asked the right questions.  She got to the heart of the matter without a lot of bullshit.  So, whatever those guys were seeing, I totally missed. Anyway, after a few years, she left the company and went elsewhere.   I still occasionally run into the guys who worked for her and while I consider them my friends, I think they were totally unfair to this woman.  They’re still grumbling about having had to work for her for no particular reason that I can tell.  There were a lot of male managers who they readily admit were worse in terms of expertise and managerial ability.  We laugh about a horror show they were, but for some reason, no one says they shouldn’t have had a crack at a managerial position. They feel quite differently about this female manager for no tangible reason.  It’s like, “I’d work for a woman but not that woman”.  But in actuality, they can’t think of a single woman they’d want to work for.  Go figure.
  • The female supervisor who got pushed out of the way for a male supervisor who schmoozed his way to the top and undermined her at every opportunity, in front of her direct reports and behind her back.  There were witnesses to the out in front behavior and behind closed doors behavior. She got very little credit for the mountains of work she did.  Having worked with her closely, I know she was very smart and actually knew the science.  The man who replaced her was a lot more political and connected.
  • The guys who steal projects from women, usurp their authority, have meetings with her collaborators behind her back and then accuse them of being “out of the loop” and “not up to date” afterwards.  That is extremely successful.  Those guys get promotions.  Well, it’s a cutthroat world and the number of jobs are shrinking.  It’s every man for himself.
  • When there are positions available, they go to men.  When there are promotions, they go to men.  Sometimes the same man, over and over and over again.  That is why some departments have very few women in them.  Women remain junior for much longer and do not get mentored.  When it is time to cut staff, the junior people get the ax.  Voile! No more women.
  • Women get graded on their behavior.  They are always told to not be too pushy.  But if they back off too much, they can’t get their work done.  Then, they are told to be more assertive.  So, they try that, but they’re told it’s not assertive in the “right” way.  You’re either “not a team player and too aggressive” or “ineffective”.  Your success depends on your ability to walk on eggshells.  What does this have to do with the actual science?  Nada.  But if the guys don’t want to play with you, and these days when there are fewer and fewer jobs, they have a lot of incentives to make your contributions look insignificant, it’s exceptionally easy for them to pull out the behavioral critique to put you in your place.  They wouldn’t get away with that with a man because men in science are perceived to be more competent and pushy behavior in a man is seen as a good thing.

The GOOD news is that this should be a somewhat more tractable problem to solve in the sciences because scientists have a greater respect for actual data.  If you collect enough data and take enough measurements and show correlations and present this information in a seminar with enough numbers and charts and graphs, they might start treating it like a problem that needs to be solved.  It could be another project.

There is also the possibility of using diversity and sensitivity training to work through why men have their crazy ass attitudes to women who are just trying to do their jobs.  For instance, men who have stay at home wives who do not work are probably the worst bosses for women.  That’s not to say that they are mean or slavedrivers.  It’s just that they see the world through a traditional male-female point of view.  A man who works for such a boss is going to be seen as more needful of promotions and raises because the boss with a stay at home wife identifies with a male’s traditional responsibility.  But he may not be able to identify with his female direct reports and their responsibilities.  Show that boss enough papers and studies in respectable peer reviewed journals and he may be easier to re-educate.  This might not be the case with the guy who runs the accounting department (well, not right away), but scientists should be more responsive when they see all conditions and parameters tweaked and analyzed.

Well, anyway, that’s the way they handle gender bias in Finland.  They have a department that analyses workplaces where there are allegations of gender bias and they measure EVERYTHING.  That is where the truth lies.  It is not a “he said-she said” problem.  That’s too subjective and rarely works unless someone leaves a smoking email or is caught on tape. But absolutely everything can be measured.  It’s a much fairer, more objective way of finding the truth. Your attitudes and conditioning lead you to do certain things, write certain things, order your environment a certain way.  You can count the number of times male colleagues respond to a female colleague’s emails and phone calls, what meetings she is invited to, how many time she is responded to during those meetings, who is talking while she is presenting and for how long, how many times is she interrupted, how close her workspace is to positions of importance, how much space she has in square feet.  You can search performance reviews for words that describe behavior instead of competence and outcome. Do the same for male reports, compare and contrast. If there is gender bias in the data, it will be hard to ignore.

If Obama were really the feminist icon he’s supposed to be, he’d order the EEOC to apply the statistical analysis model to ferret out the truth instead of putting all the burden on women plaintiffs. I’m not holding my breath.  But it COULD happen.  If women file a complaint against a company or managers, the burden should be on the company to prove it isn’t true.  Submit to a statistical analysis and see what turns up.  Men like statistics, right? Women could develop a new appreciation for them as well.  The goal is not to punish but to make people accountable for their behavior whether they are aware of it or not.  Of course, repeat offenders should be punished but this method is more likely to figure out what it is they’re being punished for.

Hmmmm, maybe what we really need is a very powerful woman and true feminist icon to advocate for this kind of thing once she leaves public office.  {{hint, hint}}

Anyway, the study comes as no surprise.  I haven’t read the PNAS paper all the way through yet.  (How nice that PNAS is offering this one gratis.) This study won’t be the last you’ll be hearing about this.  That’s because women are starting to realize that they can make math and numbers work for them.  They just need access to the data.

What Does Cardinal Timothy Dolan think about UNEMPLOYMENT?

Hey, did you hear the one about the Catholic bishop who is going to give a closing prayer at BOTH party conventions this year?*

Ladies? How do you feel about this? Remember back in 2008 when you climbed aboard the Obama bandwagon because he made you feel so creative and young and hot?

What has he done for you lately? Did he banish the Bush Conscience Rule or merely attenuate it? Did he stand up for your rights in the health care bill or capitulate to the Bart Stupaks because a *win* for him was more important that a loss for you?

Did he do anything about your unemployment problem in the he-covery? You know, the one where he thought it jobs should be manly man jobs so a guy could feel good about himself? Remember this blurb from Ron Suskind’s Confidence Men about where the pathetically inadequate stimulus money for jobs would go?:

That was where the jobs would be: nurse’s aides, companions to infirm seniors, hospital orderlies. The group bandied about ideas for how to channel job-seeking men into this growth industry. A need in one area filling a need in another. Interlocking problems, interlocking solutions. The Holy Grail of systemic change.

But Obama shook his head.

“Look, these are guys,” he said. “A lot of them see health care, being nurse’s aides, as women’s work. They need to do something that fits with how they define themselves as men.”

As the room chewed over the non-PC phrase “women’s work,” trying to square the senator’s point with their analytical models, [Alan] Krueger—who was chief economist at the Department of Labor in the mid-1990s at the tender age of thirty-four—sat there silently, thinking that in all his years ofstudying men and muscle, he had never used that term. But Obama was right. Krueger wondered how his latest research on happiness and well-being might take into account what Obama had put his finger on: that work is identity, that men like to build, to have something to show for their sweat and toil.

“Infrastructure,” he blurted out. “Rebuilding infrastructure.”

Obama nodded and smiled, seeing it instantly. “Now we’re talking. . . . Okay, let’s think about how that would work as a real centerpiece…. Don’t even get me started about potholed highways and collapsing bridges,” Obama said….

And just like that, a policy to repair the nation’s infrastructure was born. The federal government, in partnership with the private sector, would call upon the underemployed men of America to rebuild the country, and in doing so restore their pride.

;

Did he pay any attention to the women in his inner circle who told him to ask for more money in the stimulus and at least $100 billion for a jobs program? Did he care about YOUR pride? Economic needs? Kids you need to support?

No, he did not. By the way, read Confidence Men if you have a chance. If the last 4 years haven’t turned you off your kibble with Obama, that book will definitely do it.

Having Cardinal Dolan at the convention is what I would call a swift kick in the teeth. You’ve already decided that the Democrats are going to save you from the Republicans draconian crackdown on reproductive rights so Obama’s campaign has now written you off the list of voters he has to work for. Jeez, did you get ANYTHING in exchange for your vote or did they just scare the pants off you?

So, now that Obama has you in his win column, he can ignore you and go for the anti-abortion Catholics. Do you think they’re just going to give him their votes for nothing? They’re not stupid, you know.

Next time you have a chance to vote for a competent woman, give it more than a few seconds thought before some dude talks you out of it.

*Um, are we also going to get a moment of encouragement from the non-believers or don’t they count?  What about it, Democrats?  Are non-believers citizens who also deserve respect or is it just politically expedient to stuff them in a closet and tell them to be quiet?

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is putting up this billboard in two places in Charlotte as well as one place in Tampa:

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In the meantime, I’ve got other things to do. And here’s something a little bit different. Misschievous, a Canadian-Swiss youtuber, now living in Switzerland, has lost a lot of weight in the past year by cutting out almost all carbs from her diet. Here she presents three different lunches, lower in carbs but not carb free, that look delicious. If you want even fewer carbs, leave out the wrap and honey. Enjoy:

The Democrats don’t have the Wimmins’ vote all locked up?

I think you girls are overreacting

How can that be??  I thought the Republicans went to war on us and everything so that we’d *have* to go running to the Democrats for shelter.  What’s that you say?  Women aren’t doing well in this little Depression and Obama deliberately ignored their employment situation in order to cater to the men?  Or could it be that the confirmed reports that women in the Obama White House said they were working in a “hostile working environment” have made women distrustful of Obama?  It got so bad they had to take their complaints to Valerie Jarrett who set up a dinner between them and the president where he patted them on the head and did nothing.  IIRC, Jarrett arranged baby showers and chicks’ nights, just the kind of thing to make them feel important and that their expertise was valued while the president took the guys on golf outings where the real work got done.

Oh, wait, the NYTimes article says it’s *single* women who are the most ambivalent about Obama.  Well, I can vouch for that.  If you’re a single mom and you lose your job, there’s not a whole lot you can fall back on.  You’re pretty much left to the tattered social safety net.  Um, we’d much rather have jobs, preferably in our old professions, not as the flag bearers on some road construction crew.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not what we have years of experience doing.  But unfortunately, the money to boost employment went to construction projects because we didn’t want to upset the mens folk.  And anyway, according to Christina Romer, Obama’s chief economic advisor who was roundly ignored by the all guys all the time White House, the amount of money to fund employment projects was woefully inadequate.  Romer suggested that a paltry $100 billion would go a long way to put millions of Americans back to work but Obama ignored her.  And besides, Obama didn’t ask for enough money in the regular fiscal stimulus package so, you know, tough noogies ladies.  Why aren’t you married??

Speaking of married women, I worked with several who were the primary breadwinners for their houses.  Yep, their husbands had part time jobs, at best.  It really sucked for those women when they lost their technically and educationally demanding STEM jobs, forcing their families into a panic situation.  Of course, this happens to men whose wives don’t work as well but in their case, the road back to employment is easier.  Men benefit from the old boys’ network and guys just help guys, know what I mean?  I’m sure you do.

So, there you go.  Democrats are not pulling the ladies in like they were hoping.  Republicans are alienating them as well.  They think women are getting unnecessarily bent out of shape over the whole abortion and contraception stuff.  You can almost hear Republicans rolling their eyes.  It sounds just like the Democrats rolling their eyes over womens’ economic issues.

Both parties deserve to lose this year.

********************************

Ahhh, this is more pleasant.  Patricia McBride and Mikail Barishnikov dance Tchaikovsky with choreography by Ballanchine. (McBride was a Ballanchine dancer, Barishnikov was not but he’s brilliant here anyway)  It’s so hard to find good Ballanchine choreography on youtube I’d almost forgotten how deliciously light it is.  Ballanchine is known for quick, technical footwork.  This ballet doesn’t have a whole lot of that but there’s still more of a modern edge to it.  I can remember the first time I saw an ABT ballet after being soaked in Ballanchine for years and thinking that ABT was slow and involved a lot more posing and acting.  Ballanchine got rid of a lot of grace notes and got down to the business of movement.

Here’s the recent Bolshoi version of the same pas.  It’s just different.  The extension is grander and it’s absolutely lovely but the last variation seems a lot less dangerous and thrilling as far as I’m concerned.

If you’re motivated, you can sync the ballets and watch them together.  Then, you’ll see that you can fake a lot of dancing with loveliness.

Saudi American Values

Death of a Princess was a docudrama that was released in 1980, two years after the execution of Saudi Princess Misha’al for adultery.  You can watch the movie on youtube where it has been broken into parts.

Up until the year the film was released, most people living in Saudi Arabia didn’t know the details of what had occurred, even though the execution was carried out in public.  The documentary filmmaker, Anthony Thomas, was only able to ferret out the truth by speaking to a few people in Saudi Arabia who knew the royal family personally.  There were many strange details about the execution that didn’t make sense.  For one thing, judicial executions usually happen in a particular square.  There’s a formality about it.  But in this case, the execution of the princess and her boyfriend happened in a parking lot that had been hastily prepared with a pile of sand.

Thomas finally did get to the bottom of this story and when the movie was released, it caused quite a stir in Saudi Arabia where copies of it had to be smuggled in.  People identified with this girl who chose to live a free life for a few days, something most Saudis only dream about.  In 2005, the PBS program Frontline looked back at that movie and the controversy surrounding it.  As with most things Frontline does, there is a thorough cache of supplementary material including interviews with journalists, cultural experts and activists.

The interview with Ali Al-Ahmed is particularly enlightening.  Remember that this interview happened in 2005, back in the Bush era when Condoleeza Rice was Secretary of State.  But what he says about how the Saudis conspire with conservative religious fanatics to keep the public’s eye away from what is really going on in their country is very relevant today here in America.  We have learned from the Saudis.  Here is a piece of the interview:

You wrote that, in fact, women to some extent are the line in the sand between modernization or remaining a medieval kingdom.

It’s true. You cannot really go forward and progress as a society when 50 percent of your population are oppressed. And it is the tipping point. This is the line you have to cross. It’s the frontier we have to conquer in order to tell ourselves we are walking straight.

This is, to me, like a man walking with half his body paralyzed. This is our society, a paralyzed society, because half of it is not moving, and the other half is trying to move. But we are dragged back by [the fact that] half the society is paralyzed, and this is not going to change internally. External help must be offered, especially from the United States.

Is the United States playing that role?

The U.S. has one thing in its mind, which is [its] interest. And I think it has been harmful for the U.S. There is no harm that the United States can do to itself by encouraging — not forcing, encouraging — one of its closest allies to allow women their freedom. It’s not against Saudi culture or society to have women attain these freedoms that I talked about. It is against the government’s policy, yes, but it’s not against the culture or the religion of that society.

And the U.S. has not been vocal. And this is the last country in the world besides Kuwait where women cannot vote. This is the last country in the world where women cannot drive and cannot attain these freedoms that I spoke about. And it is very easily done if this is a priority. I asked a U.S. official recently about it: “Have you ever had a program to encourage the Saudi government to allow women more freedom or to improve their status?” And the answer was, “No.”

Because?

“It was not important to us.” And I said that “Well, I think I’ve started to rethink my appreciation of a democratic system.” If a democratic government [or] society does not think it’s important to have its own values protected and promoted to its own friends, then there is something wrong with these values.

The role of women in Saudi Arabia is in some ways a concession to the religious conservatives who are so important in propping up the royal family, correct?

The religious conservatives in Saudi Arabia consider women one of their most important issues. They are obsessively concerned with women. The royal family uses these extremists to suppress society and to preoccupy them with fictitious issues, from “How long is your beard?” [to] “Can I say ‘bye-bye’?” I’m not kidding — “Can I say ‘bye-bye’? Is it OK to say ‘bye-bye’ instead of ‘salaam’? Is my robe longer or shorter?”

So they figure out that if you make women an issue, then you have 50 percent [of] society paralyzed and part of the other half concerned, obsessed about suppressing the 50 percent. … The conservatives of Saudi Arabia feel the need to control society and guide it, and they use women as a means to control that society. And that pleases the royals, who would like a society that’s obsessed with long beards and short robes rather than a society focused on equal rights, democracy, human rights and education and so on.

Has 9/11 changed that?

Absolutely it did. Society has now realized it has been fooled all along, and the religious conservatives are nothing but a tool in the hands of the royal family to suppress society. At the end of the day, the same people who issued fatwas against elections turned 180 degrees and said, “Oh, elections are good.” Two years before they said, “Elections are evil; they are imitations of the infidels.” The Saudi government decided to have limited elections; then suddenly it became a good thing. They figured out the game, and I think more people are figuring out the game, and the religious conservatives very soon will have very little influence in the country.

So what’s the game?

The game is, “We are doing this to protect our religion, to protect you.” … They don’t think democracy means you will participate. They equate democracy with sexual promiscuity, with rapes. That’s why, as long as society is obsessed with women and the fact that they have to be covered and suppressed, then we won’t have a democratic society, a society that’s looking for participation in government.

It puts the recently renewed battle over contraceptives in a whole new light, doesn’t it?  And now we have people fighting in state legislatures over whether it is proper to say the word VAGINA in public.  The hits and obsessive battles over trivialities are coming fast and furiously now.  I don’t think we will start making women wear veils but in a very short period of time, the religious conservatives have successfully taken women back to the 60′s.  It’s hard to believe that my daughters will have *less* freedom than I did and that we are reintroducing shame and restrictions.  But this has happened in countries like Iran and Afghanistan where the ruling mullahs rejected modernity for women after a period of relaxation of strict tribal rules when bare faces and miniskirts flourished.

It’s seems futile to point out to American religious conservatives that they are being used to suppress democracy in this country but that appears to be what is happening. I see the mission of the Catholic bishops and the “religious freedom” meme in a whole new light.  I also see *both* parties conspiring to distract the public with attacks on women.  None of this is really that surprising.  It’s just strange to see it distilled as succinctly as Al-Ahmed has done.

Prove me wrong, Democrats. Why don’t you come right out and say what’s going on? Let’s hear Obama get up and make a truly significant, meaningful, emotional “Reverend Wright-esque” speech in defense of American women.  Let’s see him lay out to the American public what the game is, pledge to stop playing it and challenge the other side to stop too.

Remember, national women’s groups are meeting in Baltimore at the end of June.  I challenge them to demand that both parties stop using women as a distraction and route to suppress democracy in this country.  They should refrain from endorsing ANY candidate for president until they get a firm committment from both parties to stop using women and to tell the religious nutcases and Catholic bishops to back the fuck off.

This is not a game and we’re not going to play it.

Remember the Ladies?

So, now that the left is having another litte orgasm over suspension of deportation of DREAMers, let’s reflect a bit on what all of this means.

First it was the LGBT community that threatened to withhold money and that choked some (ultimately meaningless) words from Barack Obama about same sex marriage.  Don’t get me wrong, he should have said this back in 2008 when he was a candidate because it was the right thing to do, instead of winking to his more evangelical constituents that he opposed it.  But it doesn’t really matter because the outcome is zero sum.  There’s a brief blip of feeling really good about the guy until you realize that he has no intention of doing anything about it.  It will be up to the states to discriminate or not and he’s cool with that.

Then came the hispanic community demanding compassion for the families he’s breaking up and bright students whose lives he is ruining with the disastrous and aggressive deportations.  Those students in many cases had no choice in the matter when they came to live here as children.  For all intents and purposes, they’re American except that they weren’t born here.  If I were king, I’d have found a way to naturalize them by now.  That would be the Christian thing to do.  All Obama has done is kinda sorta said they won’t be deported but there are no guarantees.

We are hearing more and more stories that one of the reasons he has been so ineffective at getting legislation through is that he doesn’t like the political process where you have to go around and ask people to do things for you or you have to hold things over their head and threaten them.  Obama just doesn’t like face to face interactions.  It’s not his thing.  Maybe he should have stuck to writing autobiographies and dispensed with the detestable politicking.  It’s never too late to reconsider…

So, who’s left? Ahhh, yes, we haven’t heard from the women yet.

WHY haven’t we heard from the women??  Have they not sought an audience with the Lightbringer?  If they have, did they get one? Why haven’t we read about that? With the latest outrage in Michigan, where female legislators are forbidden from even saying the word VAGINA, one can only imagine that Obama must be determined to stride the halls of the White House to meet with representatives of women’s groups to assure them that This. Will. Not. Stand!  And yet… {{crickets}}

You know, women are not really a special interest group.  We’re more than half of the population.  We’re getting attacked in a way that will affect our ability to work effectively and that will impact our economic situation.  And what affects the economic situation of more than half of the country should be something that is pretty high in Obama’s priority list.  But the strange silence of women and the even stranger silence of Obama on women, is downright spooky.

I’ve noticed that the National Organization for Women is having their annual convention in Baltimore on June 29- July 1.  They will be discussing the War on Women, which suggests to me that they have already bought into the Democratic framework and have decided to hide behind Barack Obama’s skinny legs for protection against those meany Republicans.

This is pathetic.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so disgusted in my life.

Unlike the LGBT and hispanic community, women outrank ALL of the supplicant groups.  They shouldn’t be grumbling that Obama gave them a half an hour of his time and acted like a pissy little prince.  They should make HIM come to THEM.  The frostiness should be coming from their side until he gets down on his knees and kisses their asses.

Reclusive Leftist wrote a post four years ago called Archimedes Lever about the power of women to shape elections.  They can demand just about anything they want and get it but they almost never do.  Like Dorothy, they have no idea that their ruby slippers are capable of transporting them home.  They have always had this power.

This is not as hard as you think, ladies.  All you have to do is demand representation and justice for your sex- now.  Not in a couple of months, not next year, and not with some ineffectual mouthing of words with indefinite content that have no power behind them.

Sure, there will be a bunch of Democrats and pundits who will ask whether it is wise to ask for so much in this bad economy.  Guess what, YOU are the economy and if you don’t get what you want, you should pick up your ball and go home.  There is no point in playing with people who do not see you as their equals and who do not think they have to work for your vote.  Sure it will be tough to fight every single battle all over again.  It looks like we’re going to have to do that anyway, apparently without any help from Democrats.  It’s been done before and the elderly conservative obstacles who fanatically vote for Republicans over abortion won’t be around much longer.  The Republican’s electoral chances are waning and they know it.  That’s why they stepped it up this year.  But we’ve always known the evil in the Republican party.  It’s in the Democratic party where the evil needs to be ferreted out and exposed to sunlight.

Don’t underestimate your power.  Rahm Emannuel, Steny Hoyer and all of the other bastards in the Democratic party can’t match it.  They can be all macho and tell you no and you can tell them to go fuck themselves in November. It will make them weak in the knees. If they’re not going to do anything for you, the Republicans have won anyway and as I’ve said, the Republicans are on their way out.  You can figure out how to use your votes more constructively.

Use your lever and see what happens.  The Democrats are in a tight spot. Let me spell it out for you: The Democrats entire electoral strategy, and that which they are pinning their hopes this year, depends on women staying on their side. In fact, you might almost say that all of the new laws enacted against women this year play right into their hands.  At this point, they have no reason to try to curtail any of them.  All they have to do is nothing and they will look good in comparison.  But if you ever decide that’s not good enough for you, they’re going to start shitting their pants.  You can get anything and anyone you want this year.  Now is the time to ask for everything.

Let this be the summer that they will Remember the Ladies.

MAY 7, 1776
ABIGAIL ADAMS TO JOHN ADAMS

        “I cannot say that I think you are very generous to the ladies; for, whilst you are proclaiming peace and good-will to men, emancipating all nations, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over wives.

        “But you must remember that arbitrary power is like most other things which are very hard, very liable to be broken; and, notwithstanding all your wise laws and maxims, we have it in our power, not only to free ourselves, but to subdue our masters, and without violence, throw both your natural and legal authority at our feet.”

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