Watch for the award-winning feminist filmmaker's new documentary

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Quote of the Day

"If you have no solutions in mind and don't want to meet and dialogue and only want to protest, then it looks like you're interested in ego, not in creating change." -- Mark Segal, Philadelphia Gay News

Monday, October 17, 2016

Flyers have appeared all over Penn saying, "GET OFF THAT F&IN PHONE!" But I fear most of those at whom the message is aimed won't see it.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

A Rapturous Day in New York

My Friday was devoted to attending the very first screening anywhere of Cassie Jaye's new documentary on the Men's Rights Movement, The Red Pill.

I was one of only five in the audience if I counted right, of whom two were Jaye's mother and producer, Nena Jaye, and her stepfather, whom I got to meet before the movie started. Shortly afterward I got to meet Cassie herself.

The day tickets became available, I'd purchased one for the premiere screening at 1:15; by the time I learned there'd be a Q&A with Jaye and guests after the 6:15 showing, it was sold out. Fortunately, the management let me attend anyway once that screening was over.

There was a pretty interesting, if too brief, discussion in the theater, though it could have been more interesting if more than one feminist (Michael Kimmel) had agreed to be on the panel. But lots more discussion occurred informally afterward, and I got to meet a bunch of people, in particular some I'd known/known about for a couple years but only via Internet -- including Alison Tieman, comics artist and creator of Honey Badger Radio, whom I adore on account of her courage, her intelligence, and her compassion.

Before leaving the theater for the last time, I purchased an 11"x17" movie poster on which I subsequently got her autograph and those of Cassie and Nena Jaye, Paul Elam, and Karen Straughan, as well as a promotional T-shirt. I also presented Alison with the big handmade pink heart I'd waved when she'd appeared on the screen, which she liked.

Jaye, guests, and a number of attendees repaired to a hotel dining lounge to continue the conversing and socializing, which was quite stimulating, giving me the opportunity to discuss thoughts and experiences I hadn't had the occasion to previously, and to learn those of others. Because people didn't decide to go to bed til after midnight, it was too late for me to catch the last affordable non-reserved bus back to Philly that night, so I had to wait for one leaving at 7 am. Consequently I suspect I'm too tired to do justice to the film with a review at the moment, and will have to return to that later. For now, it will suffice to say that I was highly impressed and strongly recommend it.

Linked below, Jaye shows the poster outside the cinema the day before it opened.


Thursday, October 06, 2016

Mass Action Stops a Bad Bill in Poland

The Polish people have fended off a draconian abortion bill through mass action:


Apparently there wasn't very widespread awareness of this action here: I wore black in solidarity as many in Poland were doing, but I didn't see more than the usual number of people dressed that way, and received no comments about it.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Selective Service: "Extend It or End It?" Is a False Dichotomy

The latest newsletter from Courage to Resist, a group that builds support for military resisters, features a graphic captioned, "Do not extend draft registration to women. End war registration for everyone!" I submitted this comment under a related post on their Facebook page:

I noticed your graphic about this in the latest newsletter and wish to comment. "Extend it or end it?" is a false dichotomy.

Years ago I worked with an anti-militarist resource center called Stop the Pentagon/Serve the People or Project STP. One of the co-directors, Harold Jordan (now with ACLUPA), told me how during the Vietnam era, he and like-minded activists had opposed the college deferment on the grounds that it amounted to an exemption for white, middle-class men. I couldn't deny the logic of that.

And in fact, such men's susceptibility to the draft, even ameliorated somewhat by the deferment, was doubtless a big factor in the scale of the antiwar movement. The US rulers' reliance since then on an all-volunteer force has allowed them to continue their militarism and imperialism with much less popular opposition. Likewise, women's susceptibility to the draft would contribute greatly to public questioning of the law, especially given how women's lives tend to be viewed as more precious. It would compel many women to introspect about their values in a way they haven't previously had occasion to.

Rather than counterpose ending the female exemption against ending the Selective Service system, we should welcome the former proposal as something that may help pave the way for the latter.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Good Cause, Muddled Argument

The first item in the Philadelpia Gay News LGBTQ Youth Supplement is an essay titled "The case for gender-neutral bathrooms in Philadelphia high schools." The argument is less persuasive than it might be because of the author's insistence on trying to frame it in ideological terms that don't really fit, as I argue in the letter-to-the-editor below.

Matthew Zarenkiewicz advocated for a good position in his recent article, but muddled the argument by trying to conform it to ideology bearing little relation to reality.

He claims current practices are "derived from misogyny, heterosexism and homophobia," yet fails to specify how. It's true the main objects of traditionalist fears are (transgender) women. But they're feared not
because they're women but, on the contrary, because they're perceived to be men.

For comparison, consider another story in the news recently: the way some airlines discriminate against men by forbidding them, but not women, to sit next to unaccompanied minors (http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/14/travel/unaccompanied-children-flights/index.html). If you peruse this story, you'll find no mention at all of gay, bisexual, or transgender people, and women figure only as perpetrators, not victims of discrimination. Yet the underlying issue here is in fact the same as with resistance to gender-neutral bathrooms: namely, the bigoted view of male sexuality as inherently predatory. Zarenkiewicz does mention this attitude in his piece, but fails to name it. It has a name, but its name isn't misogyny, homophobia, or transphobia -- it's MISANDRY. Learn the word, folks!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Urge Your University to Preserve Due Process

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE) is urging its supporters to write their alma maters about the worrying trend toward so-called "victim-centered investigations." I've written a letter to Penn's President Gutman laying out the case against this approach:

I am very concerned about the threat to due process rights and the presumption of innocence posed by the trend toward so-called "victim-centered" investigations, primarily being promoted in connection with accusations of sexual assault on college and university campuses.

By substituting partiality toward the accuser -- even to the point of deliberately refraining from gathering evidence in some circumstances -- this approach not only increases the likelihood of false convictions, but ultimately can only undermine the public's confidence in judicial processes, and make it more skeptical even of true accusations.

Indeed, inasmuch as the push for this approach is mostly restricted to the context of sexual assault investigations, it could end up making the public even less willing to believe these allegations than those of other crimes.

Please commit Penn to maintaining neutral fact-finding as the standard for all its judicial processes.