Ho Ho Ho, Here’s a Stocking Full of Man-Pain

bad-santa-charged-with-groping-18-year-old-woman-dressed-as-elfby Jen Giacalone

It’s hard to say why exactly, perhaps the holidays are making them feel resentful that loads of women are sexually unavailable to them, but the whining, the raging, and the general loutish behavior coming from the MRA camp are audible from the other side of Mount Entitlement this week.

Backing up: for those unfamiliar with the term, MRA’s are “Men’s Rights Activists.”  A sane person can look at the shifts in gender dynamics and put together that along with the expansion of what women are able to do and be, there are some things that are no longer fair to expect of men and that some things need to change.  For example, this page has previously mentioned its support for changes in divorce and family leave law to make it more accommodating to men’s changing roles in the family.

However, MRA pages are mainly dens seething with misogyny (or at least with anger at suffering under the iron fist of misandry), blaming women for all the ills of the world and claiming that men are truly the oppressed gender.  Go ahead, finish banging your head on the desk, I’ll wait.

Amanda Marcotte talks about this in a recent blog post for RH Reality Check.  The MRA community is outraged –outraged!-  at the arrest of Kevin Bollaert, who is facing 31 counts of conspiracy, identity theft, and extortion for running a “revenge porn” site.  It is stifling their free speech, apparently, to not be able to post nude photos of women who broke up with them, along with exes’ personal contact information so that they can be stalked and humiliated.

Goodness, where are my tiny violins?  I need to play the world’s saddest song for these oppressed men who are being told they can’t harass and intimidate women who no longer want to have sex with them.

Meanwhile, back at Occidental College, there’s apparently a rape epidemic, with hundreds of reports flooding into the university’s anonymous sexual assault reporting system.  Oh, wait, don’t worry, it’s actually just a douchebag epidemic.  Hundreds of MRA’s with nothing better to do decided to go and fill out hundreds upon hundreds of obscene (and obscenely false) reports on the college’s anonymous sexual assault online reporting form, in order to scuttle the system.  Why?  Because every woman who claims she’s raped is lying, and destroying resources for survivors is hilarious.

Oh wait, I’m sorry, I mean, because it’s their duty as men to protect the men of Occidental from false accusations of rape, in spite of the fact that the form is not designed to function that way.  How do you even investigate an anonymous rape report?

Really, people.  Even the Community of the Wrongly Accused thought this form was no big deal and that there was no particular reason to try and destroy it.  It’s mainly a tool for the university to figure out how widespread the sexual assault problem is on campus so they can properly allocate resources.  Their blog post about it is a more intellectual, long-form “whatevs.”

Ironically, a favorite tactic that MRA’s often use to try to get feminists to shut up about rape and sexual assault is to cry, “MEN ARE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED BY WOMEN IN EQUAL NUMBERS TO WOMEN ASSAULTED BY MEN!!!”  So, apparently, they don’t want male assault victims to get help either.

Watch out y’all.  The MRA’s have broken into the Schnapps and are marching on your town to claim it for the ManFederacy!



By the time I read the article about Fathers4Justice taking out an ad attempting to publicly shame Kate Winslet because she’s a single mother (“KIDS NEED A FATHER AT CHRISTMAS, KATE.”), I was ready to either smash something or try to raise money to have every last one of these guys checked for brain tumors.  They appear completely undeterred by the whole “not knowing her personally or having Clue One about how she conducts her family life” thing when it comes to telling her how to do it.  Because kids need fathers.  And women need to be told what to do.  By men.  Even when the men have no information on which to base their valuable opinions.

Which goes back to a point I’ve made before:  Most of these MRA’s are not, generally speaking, really that interested in the issues they claim to care about.  They’re just using these thing as cudgels to beat you, the feminist, over the head till you shut up.

Go visit a site for male rape survivors, or an “intactivist” (anti-circumcision) blog, or anyplace where there are people actually working on these causes.  You won’t find much misogyny.  In fact, you’ll probably find a lot of women.

So, ho ho ho, MRA’s.  You can complain and play “pranks” and take out all the nasty ads you want, but women are still going to be living wonderful, fulfilled lives that don’t include you.  So here’s a stocking full of man-pain.  Don’t scarf it all at once or you’ll get a tummy ache.

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Ride With the Nuns on the Bus

MET-AJ-1-NUNS-BUSby Jen Giacalone

Ok, not literally.  But they are the subject of an upcoming documentary film, and you can play a small part.  Let me explain.

If you follow this blog, you know that we love the Nuns on the Bus and their efforts to stand up to the Vatican and create a space in Catholicism for women’s leadership.  They are warriors for the poor, sick, disadvantaged, and downtrodden.  They are radical feminists facing down the Catholic Church, possibly the most patriarchal entity there is; a battle worth waging, and inspiring to even heathen folk like myself.

The film in progress, from Do-Gooder Productions, follows their journey as they stand up for their spiritual convictions.

Where do you come in?  The working title is “Sisters,” but the they’ve been running a contest and asking for people to submit a new title to re-christen it.  You can go do that, here, after you’ve watched the movie trailer.

And then if you want, you can pay a visit to our guest blogger Jamie Utitus’s post from last year that discusses her love for the Sisters and why they are important to feminists of faith, here.

If you want to put the Christ back in Christmas, showing some love and support to these women religious is a great place to start.

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Patriarchy’s Magic Trick: How Anything Perceived As Women’s Work Immediately Sheds Its Value

Crates and Ribbons


The gender wage gap has long been an issue of importance for feminists, and one that consistently finds itself on the UN and government agendas. Despite this, there is a persistent idea among many in mainstream society (mostly men, and some women) that the gender wage gap is simply a myth, that women are paid less on average because of the specific choices that women make in their careers. Everything, they claim, from the industry a woman chooses to establish herself in, to the hours she chooses to work, to her decision to take time off to spend with her children, and so on, leads to lower pay, for reasons, they confidently assure us, that have nothing at all to do with sexism. Now we could delve into, and rebut, these points at length, but in this post, I will focus only on the assertion that the wage gap…

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Making College Campuses SAFER


by Jen Giacalone

There has been an uptick lately in conversations about sexual violence on college campuses, whether it comes in the form of seeking its causes or examining its effects.  While there have been decreases in certain kinds of sexual violence in the general population over the last 10 years or so, the world of higher education has tended to exist in a sequestered little universe all its own, one where the rate of rape and sexual assault has remained largely unchanged.  We all know that drugs and/or drinking is involved in a staggeringly significant portion of college sexual assault.  But teen drinking is part of growing up, is easily as large a problem in itself as sexual assault, and one that is not likely to go away any time soon.  We can pick apart youth drug use, the inhumane behavior of young people towards each other online, and the dubious influence of Robin Thicke, but there’s an obvious culprit that often gets overlooked: university policies.

Just look at the recently-released Campus Accountability Report from SAFER, a non-profit group devoted to helping students and their families push for sexual assault policy changes on their campuses.  The report detailed a study of 299 colleges and universities, and graded them on their sexual assault policies.  The average grade was a C.  The highest was a B+.  Not one school managed an A rating.  A third of these schools did not comply with federal law.  According to Tracey Vitchers, Director of Communications at SAFER, around 25 different institutions in the last year have had violations filed against them of either the Clery Act or Title 9 that were specifically around the issue of sexual assault.

Colleges are supposed to provide an annual report on their crime statistics.  That’s the essence of the Clery Act.  But sexual assaults, stalking, and partner abuse are often not included in these reports, often at the discretion of the schools’ dean, or some other individual or internal disciplinary body that is often more concerned with safeguarding the school’s reputation than providing proper supports for a survivor.  It creates an environment in which a student can piece together that assaulting a classmate will likely not bring much consequence.

When Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act earlier this year, it included the often-overlooked Campus SAVE Act, which creates better minimum standards that colleges have to follow.  It clarifies Clery and Title 9 to ensure greater transparency around the issue of sexual violence on campus.   It requires that students reporting a sexual assault on campus be provided with their rights, assisted in dealing with local law enforcement, and be allowed to make changes in their campus living situation if needed, in order to avoid a hostile environment, to name a few important points.  “They’re kind of being forced to look at their policies and procedures under a hard light to see what they are doing, and what they could be doing better,” says Vitchers.

What SAFER does is offer tools for both students and parents to evaluate and understand the strengths and weaknesses of their own schools’ policies, and then arm them with the information they need to push for improvements.  While there are no “chapters” to this all-volunteer organization, their one paid staff member actually travels around the country offering trainings at universities on how to tackle this issue on campus and get the students prepared to be advocates for themselves.

For example, one common institutional problem is the turnover of the Dean’s job.  Many disciplinary procedures on campuses go through the Dean’s office, but typically a Dean of Students only serves a three or four year term, so every time a new dean comes in, they have to re-learn the policies, procedures and disciplinary processes.  A dean who starts his or her job in July may not be fully prepared to handle an incident that occurs in the first few weeks of school.  But one institution that SAFER has been monitoring is actually hiring a Director of Sexual Violence Intervention & Prevention to bridge that gap.  This is a relatively simple way to address the problem, and likely to be applicable at other institutions.

But SAFER’s mission extends beyond policy change to actually educating students on subjects like consent, and the touchy matter of risk reduction.  Most states do not have real requirements for high school sex education.  High school health classes fail kids because they, at best, teach about the mechanics of safe sex,  but rarely get into the subject of consent and respecting others’ bodies and boundaries.  So very often, when kids are exposed to the conversations that SAFER is promoting on these subjects, they are hearing it for the first time.

There is still a lot of work to do on this issue; misconceptions abound with regard to what a sexual assault looks like, and even who can be a target.  SAFER stresses that the trope of the straight, female victim attacked by the straight, male perpetrator is limited, and ultimately damaging, because it contributes to men and LGBT survivors vastly underreporting their own attacks.  During our conversation, Vitchers cites a JAMA study that actually shows near-parity between young women and young men as perpetrators of sexual aggression when certain types of assault are included in the metric.

College is a time for growth, discovery, and yes, for a lot of kids, drinking and sex.  But we do our youth a disservice if we don’t do everything in our power to make sure that that sex is safe and consensual.  SAFER is out there trying to empower students, parents, and faculty to ensure that the university environment will give them that.  As with so many seismic changes, it has to happen not only in the hearts and minds of those touched by the issue, but in institutional policy prescriptions as well.

For more information or to donate to support their work, visit the SAFER website at:  www.safercampus.org


Fast Food Strike: Tired of Living in McPoverty


by Jen Giacalone

People, I promise you, I really don’t normally have a beef with MSNBC’s Chris Jansing.  She usually does a yeoman’s job (yeo-woman’s?) of covering the news.  But when she was interviewing one of the leaders of the striking fast food workers the other day, I was doing an awful lot of yelling at the television.

“So, a lot of teachers only make $16 an hour,” she asked him,  “what makes you guys feel that you’re worth $15?”

No, Chris, no.  First of all, this plays right into that old Jay Gould chestnut, “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.”  Second of all, it ignores the bigger systemic issue with not only income inequality in general, but the gender-based pay gap and the troubling matter that so many women “choose” to go into low paying fields.  One wonders if the fields pay so little precisely because so many women are drawn to them.

The guest, to his credit I suppose, didn’t get sucked into pitting the value of fast food workers against that of teachers, but he also (frustratingly!) missed the opportunity to point out that, actually, teachers generally also ought to be valued more highly and paid better than they are.

The income inequality in America is getting to be so bad that even that bastion of socialist thought, The Wall Street Journal, is saying, “Hey guys… maybe this keeping all the money for ourselves isn’t such a great idea after all because it’s like, causing instability or something.”  It’s been said, but bears repeating, that if minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since the Johnson administration, minimum wage would be about $20/hr.  Cast in that light, the $15/hr the fast food workers want doesn’t sound like so much.  A girl could pay her own bills on that.  Probably.

But oh, the hue and cry!  And I’m not even talking about from the Stuart Varneys and other Right Wing Business News “spewing-heads” of the world with their disregard/disdain for humanity.  I’m talking about other lower wage workers.  I recently had an argument with a dialysis technician who, in her current job, with something like seven years of experience, does not yet make $15/hr.  And rather than looking at the organizing fast food workers and thinking, “Hey, that’s a good idea,” she looks at them and thinks, “Hey, who are they to think they should get paid more than me for flipping burgers?”  There’s no making the point that maybe the fast food workers getting paid $15/hr is good for her, because it strengthens her case.  She can say to her employers, “Look, the burger flippers at McDonalds are making $15, you have to do better by me or I’m going to leave to go flip burgers at McDonald’s.”

When I pressed her about this, she said, “Well, when I became a dialysis tech, they told us we weren’t going to get rich doing it, it was something we were doing because we loved it.”  Now look, there’s lots of professions you can say that about.  If you are a jazz musician playing in a club, fine.  If you are an anthropology graduate assistant living your dream of studying the mating habits of the wild Bortok Igorot tribesmen of Polynesia, fine.  If you hold people’s lives in your hands… uh, no. You should get paid as if you hold people’s lives in your hands.

There is a systematic undervaluation of professions where women are heavily represented: whether it’s fast food work (skews female by 13% among adult workers), teaching (70% women) or nursing (over 90%), the pay is often not enough to really live comfortably on, or accurately reflect the value of the work.  And we tolerate it.  When I say we, I don’t refer to myself.  I’m fortunate enough to be extraordinarily well paid for what I do.  I mean “we” as women, and “we” as a society.  We say, “That’s the way it is.” In class-obsessed, status-conscious America, people can often be caught in the trap of determining their worth as a person according to what they are paid.  It’s a natural consequence then, that someone looks at a less-skilled job and resents those workers for having the nerve to ask to be paid better.  Case in point, the dialysis tech I was arguing with; but you see this attitude reflected all over social media, even from supposed “progressives.”

It comes to this:  every last low-wage worker, in every industry, should be cheering the fast food strikers, but most especially women in these kinds of underpaid, under-appreciated but deeply vital fields.  It’s the first step to demanding human dignity and, in our class-obsessed society, respect.  Get it together, ladies.  The fast food workers are striking for you, too.

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What to Get My Daughter for Christmas

by Siobhan Carroll, braevehearts blog

And just like that, Christmas is upon us! It’s a bit of a doozie in our house because my oldest daughter’s
birthday falls near thanksgiving, so there are double the presents, double the fun!

Or, double the pink headache.

My daughter has never been a girly girl. She wouldn’t wear dresses between the ages of 2 and 5. She has never cared for dolls or dress-up. She likes art projects, action-based toys, and activity workbooks. Her younger sister loves Spiderman and pirates. So what to get the girl in your life who doesn’t care for princesses in a world of pink and purple sparkle vomit? Here are some suggestions:

For Your Little Engineer:
GoldiBlox has been quite the headliner recently, but allow me to be a hipster for a moment and point out that I knew about it before it was cool. We were Kickstarter donors back when Goldie was a twinkle in Debbie Sterling’s eye. Debbie is a Stanford engineer who wanted to get the next generation of STEM girls started early, and developed this toy to get girls building, testing and creating machines. My girls really enjoy it, but know that for the 5 and under set a grown-up will have to assist. Get in on the ground floor now- SIX additional toys are planned for Christmas 2014 (think carnivals, tree houses, and lighting things up)! $29.99 at GoldieBlox.com

For Your Non-Dressy Dresser:
Trutrain dresse Story: Maeve, my oldest daughter, was about two and half and we were headed to my nieces’ First Communion, which warranted dresses for her and me as well as my other niece, and we were all driving to the church. Out of nowhere, an utterly appalled Maeve yells “Mommy! I don’t have pants on! And YOU don’t have pants on! And Johanna doesn’t have pants on! Daddy, do YOU have pants on?!”. Hilarious and indicative of her attitude toward dresses up until about six months ago.

If your girl likes to be a girl and also likes trucks, dinosaurs and Pi, check out Princess Awesome. Dresses for infants through toddler sizes in patterns with trucks, the periodic table of elements, pirates, dinosaurs
and more. Just check out this little cutie patootie and her train onesie dress. There are some I would like in grown-up sizes!. Princess Awesome is just getting started so not all sizes and patterns are available but please give their site a look and see what might be there for your little conductor or paleontologist! Prices from $18 to $50.

robot t shirtFor Your Girl Who Wants a Regular Old T-shirt:
Another great idea for the girl who isn’t into the pink. Check out these T-shirts and hoodies with cool imagery minus the froufrou embellishment at Girls Will Be. This Eep Op Woot shirt will be under the tree for my 3 year old this year! Prices from $24 to $30 at www.girlswillbehq.com

For The Kid Addicted to Your iPad:
ipad picI don’t feel so bad about it forking over the iPad for some quiet time thanks to Tiggly. This app created specifically for pre-schoolers means they get to play with everyone’s favorite toy while also refining motor skills and learning about shapes and colors. Tiggly comes with four magnetized shapes (circle, triangle, square and star) used in conjunction with three apps (Safari, Stamp, and Draw). Make animals on a farm, penguins with an igloo, or just draw and animate little creatures all your own. Here are my little peanuts playing (quietly!) with Tiggly! Warning: you may not get your iPad back. $29.95 at tiggly.com, also available at Apple stores.

For Your Little Astronaut:
rocketship dollhouseRocketship “Dollhouse”: I love this. Take your traditional dollhouse, combine it with a cool rocketship shape and this is what you get. At $95.00 on Amazon it will make a great joint gift for our girls and the solid construction means it will last until daughter #3 gets her little mitts on it. I might play with this after they go to sleep. Kidcraft Rocketship Playset at Amazon.

I’m very encouraged by the push for gender-neutral toys in the marketplace, and although they make up a small share it is a good sign of things to come. Manufacturers now make things like Tinker Toys and Legos in “girl” colors and styles and I am resisting the urge to purchase those because it is frankly, dumb. There are no girl or boy toys, just toys. And maybe if they just showed a girl playing with plain old Lincoln Logs that would just be enough.

In the meantime I hope you found these suggestions helpful and happy holiday to you all!