That Feminist Life

Dear Judy Finnigan,ITV and Sheffield United,

This is regarding your comments/sympathy for Ched Evans that appeared on the talk show.

I am sure you have heard this before but let me explain and ask you a few things-

Causing bodily harm

You said “he did not cause any bodily harm”. Isn’t the act of rape itself an act of violating someone’s physical boundaries and causing them physical and mental harm?

I am not sure if you are aware but may be you must dig deeper about the mental trauma that any victim has ever gone through. Especially if their rapist has a celebrity status which makes the victim vulnerable to secondary victimization and a target of his fans and followers. Rape is violence. Period.

If by ‘causing bodily harm’ you meant raped by an iron rod or hanged on a tree to death (as happened in India) then…

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A Little More Sauce

The phrase “white privilege” is one that rubs a lot of white people the wrong way. It can trigger something in them that shuts down conversation or at least makes them very defensive. (Especially those who grew up relatively less privileged than other folks around them). And I’ve seen more than once where this happens and the next move in the conversation is for the person who brought up white privilege to say, “The reason you’re getting defensive is because you’re feeling the discomfort of having your privilege exposed.”

I’m sure that’s true sometimes. And I’m sure there are a lot of people, white and otherwise, who can attest to a kind of a-ha moment or paradigm shift where they “got” what privilege means and they did realize they had been getting defensive because they were uncomfortable at having their privilege exposed. But I would guess that more often than…

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That Feminist Life

It began when I met my friends, a married couple for coffee.


Hey Adam, did you see this news about Maryam Mirzakhani?

No, what is it about?”

“Well, she is a professor at Stanford University, now the first woman ever to win the Fields Medal, the highest honor possible for a mathematician and she is from your country!” I boasted as I shared her photograph on my phone.

After a moment he said, “She doesn’t look very pretty”.

My brows creased instantly “what do you mean? This is not a beauty contest. This is the highest honor in an academic field”.

He casually responded “Well, yeah but for a woman it is more important to be pretty and sexy.”

At this point I pause and ponder. This is a man who loves his wife, helps her equally with household chores, provides for her…

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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Public domain image.

**UPDATE** The news outlets are reporting that Eric Cantor lost his primary today. Unfortunately, Dave Brat may be worse than Cantor was, because he’s a Tea Party candidate, but he won’t have the clout that Cantor had.

Most of us are familiar with Eric Cantor, because he’s one of the more prominent members of the House GOP, and one of the biggest faces of GOP obstructionism in Congress. He’s the majority leader, and serves Virginia’s 7th congressional district. He also faces a Tea Party primary next week on the 10th, which promises to be interesting, mostly because Cantor’s district is unhappy with his performance. The 7th district is a conservative stronghold in the swing state.

To many people in that district, and across the country, Cantor is a symbol of all that’s wrong with Washington. He’s definitely a symbol of obstructionism; he was one of the architects of the 2011 debt ceiling showdown, which led to the first-ever reduction in the U.S.’s credit rating.

When it came to the 2013 government shutdown, Cantor played cheerleader to Senate Republicans, telling them to stand strong, and not back down. His fellow Virginia colleagues got on his case about that, saying that he prevented lawmakers from voting on any bills that might end the shutdown. Jim Moran and Gerry Connolly, both Democrats, blasted Cantor because they believed the shutdown hurt Virginia more than just about anybody else. One-third of the state’s population is made up of federal employees, many of whom were furloughed, and all of whom went unpaid for that time.

Cantor said that the GOP was not “the party of ‘no,'” but rather, the party of principled opposition. That was in response to their opposition to Obama’s stimulus package, but “principled opposition” they most certainly are not. Standing on principles is one thing. Digging in your heels to make a point, even if means that you hurt millions of people, isn’t “principled opposition.” What they do, and what Cantor supports and engages in is out-and-out obstructionism.

But he apparently doesn’t obstruct enough. His primary opponent, David Brat, is upset that Cantor voted yes on H.R. 2775, which is the bill that ended last October’s shutdown. The Tea Party as a whole is angry at him for that, because they wanted him to dig his heels in and keep the government closed down until they got what they wanted (which was a full defunding of the Affordable Care Act). So, at least when it comes to obstruction, Brat is not a better candidate than Cantor, although he wouldn’t have Cantor’s seniority and influence if he got elected.

What the Tea Party needs to learn is that we need a Congress full of Republicans and Democrats that are willing to work with the each other, instead of these childish, “We’re not budging until we get what we want. And if the effects if our obstruction hurt the people now, too bad. They’ll thank us later.” Compromise must be the name of the game, and we need people in office who not only understand that, but can also get their constituents to understand that as well. Neither Cantor nor his opponent are capable of that.

Since Cantor’s district is such a conservative stronghold, it’s unlikely that any Democrat will hold office there anytime soon. But, people of the 7th District, it’s time to find someone who is willing to work with the opposition, and not someone who will continue to obstruct. Cantor has a history of obstruction, and his opponent has lambasted him for “giving in” on that obstruction.


Congressman Steve King of Iowa. Public domain image.

Iowa Representative Steve King is another one of those that’s capable of making the most stupid comments. His derogatory words about immigrants have made national headlines, and he’s one of the most anti-immigrant people in Congress. But more than that, his voting record indicates an anti-middle class and anti-worker position, which seems to be quite typical of the right.

While immigration itself is not one of the make-or-break issues at the moment, it is still important. But what’s more important is that many of Steve King’s comments show a severe lack of understanding about immigration, whether legal or otherwise. It also shows a deeper tendency towards racism, particularly against Latinos. He can’t be trusted to be objective and logical when it comes to discussing immigration, or other issues where racism is involved, with an attitude like that.

Of course, lack of understanding about the ins and outs of a particular issue is nothing new in Washington. That’s a big part of the problem with economic issues, also; most of them can’t pass Economics 101 at most universities, and most of them don’t care to learn. They have an agenda to push, and knowing something about economics, immigration, violence, or whatever, might (gasp) contradict that agenda. So let’s look at some of Steve King’s positions on other issues, too.

He’s one of the people who wants to allow companies to pay in comp time instead of overtime. With our wages getting pulled down by the likes of Walmart and the fast food industry, many people depend on overtime pay to make ends meet. Giving them comp time in lieu of overtime pay doesn’t do anything for motivation or morale, and is only a means to improve the bottom line of employers who want to exploit their workers instead of use their workers as the assets they are.

He also voted no on restricting employer influence on unions. One of the things countries with no minimum wage laws have is strong collective bargaining, however, Steve King neither supports unions, nor raising the minimum wage. He doesn’t support protecting the average worker.

As far as job creation goes, he’s a believer in trickle-down economics, which doesn’t work, and has never worked. Steve King and his ilk have to learn that, in order to stimulate job growth, they have to stimulate demand. Being anti-middle class and anti-worker will never stimulate demand, because it’ll prevent the people most likely to spend their money from actually spending it.

He thinks marriage equality is a path to socialism. You’ve got to just love the Republicans that throw that word around to try and scare the people. Socialism emphasizes collective ownership of a country’s means of production. It also emphasizes equality, yes, but in terms of making the person who produces the least equal to the person who produces the most. Steve King, however, thinks marriage equality is a socialist agenda to undermine “the foundations of individual rights and liberties.” There’s nothing about marriage equality that is socialist.

The Tea Party is a major problem, and Steve King represents those problems, but not the people. Iowa’s primaries are on June 3, but King is running for the GOP nomination unopposed. When November comes, get rid of him, Iowa.

Congressman Tim Huelskamp, of Kansas’ first district, has a long record of opposition towards, well, anything with common sense. He’s anti-environment, anti-common man, anti-LGBT, and anti-choice, among other things. His stance and voting record indicate that he’s so far to the right on a lot of issues that it’s presents a problem.

Perhaps, however, his biggest problem is that he wants to identify the constitutionality of every bill before Congress, according to On the Issues. However, he was among those who wanted to impeach Attorney General Eric Holder for refusing to enforce DOMA. Here’s the problem with that: If a law is unconstitutional, the government actually has a duty to refuse to enforce it, once they become aware of that fact. It’s not like the Justice Department just suddenly decided it didn’t want to do its job anymore. It’s not unheard of for lawmakers and enforcers to look deeper into an existing law when public opinion on an issue begins to shift, and when new facts come to light. At the time, cases challenging DOMA were heading towards the Supreme Court, and it was looking more likely that they would strike DOMA down. From a Constitutional point of view, it actually makes a little bit of sense for Holder to refuse to continue enforcing DOMA when he did.

So Huelskamp wants laws to be constitutional, but he wants to impeach those who refuse to enforce unconstitutional laws, because he thinks they’re supposed to enforce the law no matter what. What this really shows is that his idea of what is and is not constitutional is heavily biased towards his own ideology. It’s not based on an understanding of the Constitution.

To add to that, he supported making the first weekend in May “Ten Commandments Weekend,” which further muddies the picture of what he considers “constitutional.” That’s not constitutional in any way, shape or form, unless we’re going to officially designate other weekends for recognizing the main tenets of other religions. It’s highly doubtful that members of the Tea Party movement would be willing to allow that, though.

Even better than that, though, is that he wants Chief Justice Roberts to stick to his Catholic roots in deciding the Hobby Lobby case. According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, he said:

“I issue a strong challenge to Chief Justice Roberts to honor his Catholic roots and convictions,” said Huelskamp, a Kansas Republican. “As a fellow Catholic, I hope that Justice Roberts would choose to protect the first principle of the First Amendment — the hallowed freedom of conscience.”

And this man, who actually wants the chief justice of the highest court in the land, the court whose sole job is to interpret the Constitution, to follow religious teachings when deciding that case?

Huelskamp is facing a primary challenge in August, from conservative Alan LaPolice. LaPolice seems to be willing to work with others and reach compromises to best serve the interests of Kansas’ first district. While LaPolice’s positions on many issues leave much to be desired, he believes in compromise, which means he might not engage in the obstructionism that the Tea Party has become so famous for. That quality in a politician, regardless of party, is always a plus.

There might also be a Democratic challenger in November, so Huelskamp, if he makes it past the primary, isn’t likely to run unopposed like he did in 2012. LaPolice is working hard to get Huelskamp out in the primary, though. So, people of the 1st district in Kansas, if you’re voting in the Republican primary, vote for LaPolice instead of Huelskamp. Huelskamp is part of the problem in Congress. He’s not the solution, and he seriously needs to go.

Paul_Broun_Congressional_PortraitCongressman Paul Broun, of Georgia’s 10th district, isn’t running for re-election this year per se. He’s running for the Senate seat currently held by Saxby Chambliss, who is retiring. Broun is a Republican and member of the Tea Party Caucus, and, perhaps most disturbing, he’s vowed to only vote for Senate bills that follow biblical law.

Why is that disturbing? Because he actually believes that separation of church and state is a mistaken idea, which is at strong odds with the First Amendment. This man is a true theocrat, and that’s dangerous for the ideals of freedom we hold so dear. In a speech on the House floor last year, he said the founding fathers were “Bible-believing Christians,” who thought that, “every aspect of life should follow the dictates of God’s inerrant word. That’s what I believe in. That’s what we should all believe in.”

If you go through history, the Puritans set about to establish a nation free of religious persecution, though they did try to establish their colonial governments as Christian. But the Puritans weren’t our Founding Fathers. The Founding Fathers, the ones who drafted the U.S. Constitution, drafted it as a secular document. In fact, it doesn’t even make one mention of the word “creator” as the Declaration of Independence does. The only reason the Declaration uses the word “creator” is because evolution wasn’t around yet; there was no other way to explain man’s existence at the time.

He also wants to designate the first weekend in May as “Ten Commandments Weekend.” In fact, he actually co-sponsored a bill in the House for that purpose, which is a very, very blatant violation of the First Amendment. Establishing that is tantamount to establishing a religion here.

Yet Paul Broun accuses members of Congress and President Obama of not following our Constitution. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Paul Broun said:

“I think my role is to uphold support and defend our Constitution. […] The Constitution I uphold and defend is the one I carry in my pocket all the time, the U.S. Constitution. I don’t know what Constitution that other members of Congress uphold, but it’s not this one. I think the only Constitution that Barack Obama upholds is the Soviet constitution, not this one. He has no concept of this one, though he claimed to be a constitutional lawyer.”

So this man follows the Constitution, except for one of the most fundamental parts of it. Or, put another way, this man believes his role is to uphold, support, and defend the Constitution, except the parts he doesn’t personally agree with.

He also believes that evolution, embryology and the Big Bang Theory are “lies straight from the pit of hell.” This man is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, a place nobody with his belief system should be.

Basically, Paul Broun is one of our most dangerous theocrats, and would be a liability to the U.S. as a senator, the same way that people like Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul are. Georgia, do not elect this man to the Senate. There’s no room in Congress for theocrats like Paul Broun.

**UPDATE** May 20, 8:10 p.m. CDT: Paul Broun trails Jack Kingston, David Perdue and Karen Handel. With 17% of the precincts reporting, he’s in a dismal fourth place with just 11.4% of the vote.

**2ND UPDATE* May 20, 11:20 p.m. CDT: Paul Broun has fallen to fifth place in his primary, carrying less than 10% of the vote. There are 95% of Georgia’s precincts reporting now.

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