first fig

my candle burns at both ends…

Category: Are you kidding me

Weekly Anti-Woman Wacko

It’s that time again, time for me to highlight an anti-woman wacko who made news this week.

I read an op-ed in the New York Times earlier this week that was so full of chauvinism, cultural imperialism and xenophobia it made me sick to my stomach. Jean-Francois Cope is the president of a major French political party and the mayor of Meaux. During his career he was also the Minister of the Budget and the spokesperson for the French government. Cope is an influential leader in France but unfortunately he uses that influence to trample on the rights of Muslim women.

For those who don’t know, a number of European countries and cities have passed, or are in the process of passing laws that would prohibit women from wearing face veils such as the burqa or niqab in public. The justification for such a law is that “[the face covering] is a mask, a mask worn at all times, making identification or participation in economic and social life virtually impossible.”

Except that women who wear burqas do participate in economic and social life. Several months ago I took a crochet class from one of the local yarn stores. Two of my classmates were young girls, both wearing hair & face coverings. They participated like all the other members of the class, they were affable and funny young women and did not seem at all hindered by the fact that most of their face was covered. Women all over the world go to school, shop for groceries and contribute to society all while wearing veils.

Cope then goes onto say that the burqa is a safety risk:

This face covering poses a serious safety problem at a time when security cameras play an important role in the protection of public order. An armed robbery recently committed in the Paris suburbs by criminals dressed in burqas provided an unfortunate confirmation of this fact. As a mayor, I cannot guarantee the protection of the residents for whom I am responsible if masked people are allowed to run about.

The fallacy in this type of argument is astounding. Since one person wore a burqa to commit armed robbery it must follow that everyone wearing a burqa will commit armed robbery.

You’re probably saying to yourself, “c’mon, mraynes, no person in their right mind would think that Muslim women are like criminals just because they wear a face veil.” But wait for it…

The visibility of the face in the public sphere has always been a public safety requirement. It was so obvious that until now it did not need to be enshrined in law. But the increase in women wearing the niqab, like that of the ski mask favored by criminals, changes that. We must therefore adjust our law, without waiting for the phenomenon to spread.

Yep, he just made the argument that women in niqabs might be criminals. I’m also really looking forward to the new legislation the French National Assembly will propose…banning the ski mask.

And it just gets worse.
How can you establish a relationship with a person who, by hiding a smile or a glance — those universal signs of our common humanity — refuses to exist in the eyes of others?…But the niqab and burqa represent a refusal to exist as a person in the eyes of others. The person who wears one is no longer identifiable; she is a shadow among others, lacking individuality, avoiding responsibility.
I really have no words for how wrong this is. A woman in a burqa has no humanity? Because this man cannot gaze upon her face she has no individuality and so she ceases to exist? Really? And I love that instead of acknowledging his own bias against this Muslim dress, instead of acknowledging his own failure in seeing the humanity in another human being when they wear a burqa or nijab, he instead blames the woman. Yes, this covered woman makes you see her as non-human. Yes, that makes sense.

There are so many problematic things in this editorial. For example, saying that this isn’t religious discrimination. Because you know, so many non-Muslim French women are walking down the street in burqas. And then there’s the title, “Tearing Away the Veil”. I think really helps Cope in his assertion that this is a benevolent law that will uphold “the dignity of women.” As a woman, I can confirm that my dignity doesn’t at all suffer when men or laws tear pieces of my clothing off my body.

One of Cope’s more cogent arguments is that “[i]ndividual liberty is vital, but individuals, like communities, must accept compromises that are indispensable to living together, in the name of certain principles that are essential to the common good.” I agree, part of peacefully living in society is compromising with our neighbors. But it is not compromise if one party is forced to give something up without receiving anything in return. So what will Muslim women be gaining in return for giving up their religious and cultural custom?

It speaks volumes that Cope does not provide one way in which this law will benefit Muslim women. Rather, it proves that the health, happiness and rights of women were not the first priority in drafting this legislation. It is ironic that French leaders believe that the burqa ban will increase the visibility, responsibility and dignity of Muslim women. In reality, this ban will further push Muslim women to the margins of society. Yes, there will be some women who choose to take the burqa off but there will be just as many who are cloistered in their homes, unable to leave because of their religious and cultural beliefs. So what, exactly, is making these women invisible?

I have to say at this point that I hate the idea of the burqa and nijab. I think they are horrible customs based on the oppression of women. That being said, it is not my right, or anybody else’s to dictate how another woman worships her god.

The law that Jean-Francois Cope is proposing is just as repressive and misogynistic as the veil itself. Both the burqa and burqa ban are tools of patriarchal institutions, making women invisible and denying them the right to choose. We like to get up on our Western high-horse and proclaim our enlightened thinking, our commitment to equal rights for women. But oppression is oppression whether it comes in the form of clothing or laws that deny the right of women to control their own bodies.

Random thought…by mraynes

Was it painful for Mrs. Incredible, a.k.a. Elastigirl, to give birth?

Dear Readers

I’m sorry I have been slacking on this blog recently, it has been a crazy couple of weeks. Here are my excuses:

First- we went on vacation to New Mexico where I had very little access to the internet.

Second- mr. mraynes graduated and so now he is dr. mraynes.

Third- we had all sorts of family in town and my attention was diverted.

Fourth- the IT department blocked most of the internet so I can’t update or even read from

Fifth- I have had writer’s block.

Sixth- and anxiety.

Are those good enough? Am I forgiven? I promise that I have a couple of really great posts floating around in my mind, including a suprising weekly wacko. Just bear with me until I get my act together. Until then, here’s a poem that I love.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~Mary Oliver

Weekly Anti-Woman Wacko: Hopeful Edition

I got an interesting response to my post “Hope in Feminist Sisterhood” over at the Exponent from somebody calling themselves Holder86:

Mormon feminism? Why does it have to always be about women? Why can’t there
be Masculinism? Feminism is what women use to feel superior to men. There is no
need to be superior. Accept that men and women have different roles for a
reason. Mom’s and Dad’s. Dad works and Mum looks after the children. This is the
Mormon Culture. You can’t change the culture. You don’t like the culture then be
a feminist in another religion. There are many talks by Apostles about how there
is to be no feminism in the Mormon Church. Leave political beliefs to politics
and leave religion to religion. Be a feminist in politics if you want some
action but not in a religion…especially the Mormon one.

My first reaction was, “What? Are you kidding me?” I truly think that Mr. Holder86 was just trying to stir the pot and bring to boil the feminist blood. Seriously, who thinks like this anymore? Normally I don’t respond to people like Holder because, what’s the point? But then mr. mraynes made this excellent point that bears repeating here:

I guess holder86 has highlighted the uselessness of the term feminism. It’s
not useless because of its ideals, but because of the way a few have used it at
times to push a female superiority agenda. And the word itself does smack of
such a doctrine. But that is not its true aim!

Holder86, were I to extend your logic to its conclusion, I could argue that
our church does in fact practice “Masculinism”, better known as patriarchy. Men
run this church, especially its public face. I mean, it is 2009 and TWO women
share talks at General Conference alongside dozens of men. Am I the only one who
finds this ridiculous, especially when we already have an entire session devoted
to the priesthood? Couldn’t we at least hear from one woman at each of the four
general sessions?

At its core, feminism is no different than the set of teachings we call the
Gospel of Jesus Christ. Feminism, like the Gospel, espouses the fundamental
(spiritual) equality (rather than equivalence) of all souls, both male and
female. We all have the same value in the eyes of our divine Parents and
especially our Savior. All deserve love, respect, and happiness.

This is why I have called this week’s anti-woman wacko the hopeful edition because men like mr. mraynes exist and are thinking and saying things like this.

I think these two comments present an interesting illustration as to what is going on in the church today. Holder on the one hand, takes the traditional point of view and thinks that feminism is damaging and sinful, at least in a religious context. He believes that Mormon culture is just as true as Mormon doctrine and any questioning of that culture is an affront to our way of life. Unfortunately for Holder, those who hold his opinion are dying out. His understanding of marriage and the relationship between men and women is rich in its immaturity and lacks a complex world view.

Times are changing and I would venture to say that a large part of the church cannot follow the “Dad works and Mum looks after the children” paradigm, especially now in this time of economic crisis. In fact the apostles themselves have distanced themselves from this paradigm by using the convenient word, “primarily.” The previous paradigm was stifled in immaturity; women remained dependent and men were trapped in a dogmatic system. So yes, I believe culture can change; culture is no excuse for not becoming all that we can be. We are here on this earth to become like our Heavenly Parents and any step towards equality is a step towards them. The apostles and prophets are nothing, if not pragmatic and they understand that most men and women today expect equality. The fact that they have endorsed this kind of existence says to me that our leaders now expect men to be more mature and women more assertive. Though they may not explicitly use the word feminism, the apostles have increasingly turned to the rhetoric of equal partnership and shared housekeeping/childrearing responsibilities…all of which are primary tenants of feminism.

Mr. mraynes, on the other hand, recognizes the potential danger of feminism (like any ideology, it can be taken too far) but realizes that the true ideal of the word is something that is very much backed up by our doctrine and by the leaders of our church. You can find the gospel mr. mraynes espouses in our scriptures and in the words of our prophets. There are more and more men who recognize that there are inequities in our church structure and are open to ideas on how to make it better (mr. mraynes came up with a fantastic idea!). And there are more and more men like my husband who truly do want to be equal to women…Who want to be equally present in the home and to fully share in beauty and complexity of life with their partner. The good news that I see in this illustration is that it is men like my husband, feminist men, who are going to rise up and make the changes with women by their sides.

Over the next couple of weeks I would like to explore ways in which men can join the fight for true equality between the sexes. And to Holder86 and the other anti-woman wackos like him, you might want to start swimming because there is a tidal wave coming.

Weekly Anti-Woman Wacko: Vintage Postcard Edition

I’m tired. It has been an such an emotionally exhausting week that I couldn’t bear to write about another wacko. So instead I have provided some vintage anti-woman, Italian postcards for your viewing “pleasure”.

Lovely, huh? Well these little beauties are selling for $18 a piece at several anti-woman websites which I won’t link to. Misogyny is alive and well, people!

Weekly Anti-Woman Wacko

I don’t have a ton of time today as I’m headed off to a Mormon feminist retreat in Southern California, but I couldn’t leave with out nominating my weekly wacko. As I’m in a hurry I’ve picked a video for you all to watch, I think it’s pretty self-explanatory as to why this is my pick for weekly wacko.

This makes me so insanely angry that I can barely even talk about it. It really would be nice to live in a country where women were trusted and allowed to make informed decisions on their own behalf. The fact that we are not only goes to show how far we have to go in order for women to have true equality in this country.

For better analysis into Personhood USA, see here.

God’s Wrath Completly Satisfied (or Karma): A Two Scene Dramady

Scene One: A woman walks out of trendy salon basking in the relaxation of being pampered for two hours. Just as the relaxation is going to her head, the woman is approached by an earnest young man.

Earnest Young Man: Do you know what “the gospel” means?

Woman: (The woman answers but looks unsure as to where the conversation will go) Yes…?

Earnest Young Man: It means the good news. (The Earnest Young Man hands the woman a card.) Do you believe in Jesus Christ?

Woman: Yes.

Earnest Young Man: That’s awesome! And do you believe the only way back to God is through Jesus Christ?

Woman: Ummm…Yes.

Earnest Young Man: And do you believe that all those who do not believe in Jesus Christ will be condemned to hell and suffer eternal torture? (Earnest Young Man is becoming orgasmic with anticipation.)

Woman: No.

Earnest Young Man: (Looking completely crestfallen.) But that is in the scriptures, how can you not believe that?

Woman: Because I believe in a God of love and mercy. I do not believe in a god that gets pleasure from the suffering of his children.

Earnest Young Man: And who taught you that?

Woman: Nobody needed to teach me that (taking umbrage with the young man’s patronizing tone). I have felt the truthfulness of God’s love for myself. But if you’re wondering if I belong to a church, yes, I am a Mormon.

Earnest Young Man: Oh really? (Looking as if he has just been introduced to Satan himself). Do you know that Mormons aren’t Christian?

Woman: I know that you believe that and I am ok with that. I also know that, regardless of what you think or believe, I am a Christian.

Earnest Young Man: I know you are not a Christian because you do not believe in the word of God. The scriptures tell us that we are all born enemies to God and none of us is good. Because of this, God will pour out his wrath on the day of judgement, which is coming! God provided Jesus Christ to be the propitiation for our sins. Do you know what propitiation means (using patronizing tone again)? The reason Jesus is our propitiation is that while he was hanging on the tree, God poured out his wrath and fury on His son. It pleased God to crush His son and to unleash His justice on Christ. Jesus is now sitting on the right hand of God until He returns with vengeance on all who disobeyed the gospel. That is scripture!

Woman: That is your interpretation of Scripture. I have a different interpretation. I have a knowledge of God’s goodness, God’s love and mercy. You cannot convince me that it is wrong. I am glad you have a faith that brings you peace, my faith brings me peace as well. Now I have to get home to my babies.

Earnest Young Man: Are you leading them down the road of hell too?

(The woman rolls her eyes and smiles to herself as she walks away.)

End of Scene

Scene Two: The woman walks through the door to her home and is greeted by her husband. He looks at her adoringly and lovingly touches her hair to examine the new cut.

Husband: Your hair looks great! Did the stylist thin it out?

Woman: Yes, she told me that I have more hair than anyone she has ever seen.

Husband: Yeah, it was kind of like a red, furry monster was growing out of your head and eating your face. Is that why it took so long?

Woman: (the woman ignores her husband’s quip about her previous hairstyle.) No, I was getting condemned to hell by a street preacher. (The woman hands her husband the card.)

Husband: Oh, fun! (Husband looks at the card.) This is completely incomprehensible. It’s worse than a legal document.

(He flips the card over.) Hmmm, ironic that they misspelled “completely”.

Woman: (Woman takes the card from her husband and looks at it intently.) I guess God’s wrath is only nine-tenths satisfied.

End of Scene

Weekly Anti-Woman Wacko[s]: St. Patrick’s Day Edition

The Irish Times recently published a charming op-ed piece by Newton Emerson entitled, “Working Women Almost Certainly Caused the Credit Crunch.” Here are a few highlights:

The answer to all our problems is staring us in the face…Does the woman
in your life really need a job?…

Of course there will always be a place in the world of business for
exceptional women. Women also have an important role to play in jobs that
are too demeaning for men, like teaching. But the general employment
of women is another matter. Indeed, working women almost certainly caused
the credit crunch by bringing a second income into the average household,
pushing property prices up to unsustainable levels…

It would be ludicrous to suggest that women should be sacked purely to give
men their jobs…In many cases, their jobs should be abolished as well…

While the economic case for fewer women in the workforce is irrefutable, we
should also acknowledge the social advantages. Women make the majority of
spending decisions in Irish households and make almost all of the
purchases. They are far more likely than men to regard shopping as a
leisure activity…In short, women were the driving force behind the greed,
consumerism and materialism…and it was female employment that funded their oestrogen-crazed acquisitiveness.

Pretty funny, huh? No? Well it was supposed to be. Apparently this was a satire piece taking aim at the chauvinist media. The problem was that nobody got it.

The article quickly went viral and set off a firestorm. There was an account of this article being forwarded three hundred times in the space of a couple of hours around one large company that employed most men. Reportedly, these men viewed the article in a positive light.

As you might expect, women were none to happy about this op-ed. Hundreds of women sent in angry letters to the editor only to receive a curt letter back informing them that the piece was satire, along with a suggestion that they develop a sense of humor.

After reading through Newton Emerson’s essay several times, I can see that it is satire, it is bad satire but, satire nonetheless. However, the reason people didn’t get it was because there was no clear target, the piece was just too broad. Satire is not funny if it is overly believable. I picked this piece as an illustration of a weekly wacko because there is no cognitive dissonance in believing that a person could hold this kind of opinion.

Women have historically been blamed for the downfalls of society. We can start with Mother Eve and wind our way through the annals of history to today where working women are blamed for everything from increased juvenile delinquency to childhood obesity. (I heard that one over the pulpit).

So yes, I can understand how this unfunny piece of satire was misunderstood; it hit too close to home to the bullsh*t that working women have to put up with everyday. Is it not enough that working women have to face their own guilt every morning they walk out the door, do we really have to blame them for all of societies ills?

Shame on Mr. Emerson for being a horrible satirist. Shame on the Irish Times for exploiting pervasive and pernicious sexism. And shame on any man or woman who truly thinks that all of society’s problems will be solved the moment we kick women out of the workforce. You are all my weekly wackos.

Weekly Anti-Woman Wacko

I am instituting a new weekly feature: The Weekly Anti-Woman Wacko.

I can’t tell you the number of times I have been told that the feminist movement is no longer relevant because now women can open bank accounts, work outside the home, get abortions and supposedly receive equal protection under the law. I can’t even begin to tell people how far from the truth this is. So from now on, I will be posting weekly examples of why feminism is still relevant and desperately needed.

Drum-roll please. This week’s anti-woman wacko goes to…Mark Belling.

For those of you who don’t know Mark Belling, he has a right-wing talk radio show in Milwaukee. Belling is known for his outrageous and often incindiary antics, including the use of a racial epithet that got him suspended from the airwaves for a week. I can’t say anymore about him without feeling the need to take a shower, so I think I will just let Mr. Belling speak for himself.

“Without regard to what you think about women who get off by behaving like sows by pulling out their you-know-what in front of everybody else in the world and letting their babies start sucking, whatever you think about that, you don’t have the express it so crudely, well why not? It’s a crude practice, given how adamant some of these sows are, that’s an appropriate term, isn’t it? It’’s what a pig does and it does it in public, right? I mean, I don’t, I – hehehehe…”

And my mother wonders why I despise talk radio? Anti-woman rhetoric doesn’t just hurt feminists; it hurts all women and, in this case, babies. Free speech is important but hateful ignorance only has power if there are people willingly listening and agreeing. This bozo wouldn’t have a radio show if there weren’t people out there who believed that breastfeeding women and babies are more like barnyard animals than human beings.

So Mr. Mark Belling, thanks for being our inaugural weekly wacko and…stay classy.

h/t to Feministing for the quote. You can listen to this lovely little vignette here.

Can I whine for a minute?

I am still feeling burned out. Last week I really wanted to write on my blog every day but every time I went to go post, I felt a wave of immense tiredness wash over my body.

Things are really hard right now. My job is depressing and apparently I have compassion fatigue. It’s no wonder when none of the women I work with can get jobs, no longer have access to subsidized childcare and have had their cash benefits cut by 30%. All of this means that none of these poor women and children will be able to be self-sufficient and obtain safe housing. It isn’t fair. Also, mr.mraynes and the kids are sick. I am now feeling sick. The economy sucks, effectively limiting the job prospects of mr.mraynes. And there just doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

What’s a feminist girl to do? (other than be incredibly grateful for a loving, supportive family, a secure job and a comfortable life)…Why, eat her body weight in carbs in a futile effort to self-soothe. Here is what I ate yesterday:

  • 1 bowl of organic chocolate grahm cereal
  • 1 doughnut
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1 brownie
  • 2 large scoops of cheesy funeral potatos
  • 1 bowl of chili
  • 1 bag of fruit snacks
  • 1 rice crispy treat
  • 3 chocolate kisses
  • 6 dinner rolls
  • 1 New York strip steak
  • 1 sweet potato w/ caramel sauce and marshmellows
  • 1 ice cream sandwhich

When I gave tihs list to mr. mraynes, he looked at me with horror in his eyes and suggested that I not get on the bathroom scale anytime soon.

I’m still resolved to post more frequently but I’m thinking about lowering my standards of what is post-worthy. So, any tips in dealing with pre- spring, bad economy doldrums? Also, I am taking requests for post topics.