Things to Read

Six conservative female bloggers on dating. A few observations: Conservative female bloggers dislike arrogance and over-confidence. They do like chivalry, which liberalism and feminism has apparently been trying to kill (weirdly, I still get the door held for me on occasion). They dislike “wimpy” guys (which is apparently defined as “not having a gun”). But the answers are interesting, and certainly differ from woman to woman — something that in itself flies in the face of a lot of conservative talking points about “what women want” and how all chicks dig “real men.” My favorite responses are from Karol, who I met about a year ago and who is really smart and bad-ass (but then, I tend to like uppity broads, even the right-wing ones), and Dawn, who I think is totally wrong, but who has clearly thought out these issues and come up with a cohesive and intelligent view.

Speaking of dudes and dating, CNN has an article on Japanese “geisha guys,” who hang out with Japanese businesswomen and serve as pretty accessories. There is no mention of sex, which is weird — if the article were about female geishas, I’d imagine sex would come in. That said, I’m pretty sure the whole thing is just one more of those “Japan is so weird!!!” articles, which is why it’s light on actual reporting. Thanks to Fauzia for the link.

Can porn and feminism coexist? A very interesting article that doesn’t re-hash the same tired arguments.

From a Saudi website — Want to keep your maid? Pamper her. And by “pamper” the author actually just means “don’t abuse.” Nice.

Jeff Jacoby is a moron. His article is about sex-selective abortion, and the conclusion is “it’s bad.” Someone give this man a Nobel prize. He further argues that parents in backwards oriental lands (like China or India) “may have rational reasons for preferring a son,” but parents in the USA would never have any reason for sex-selective abortion. Because apparently girls and boys are totally equally valued in this country. He doesn’t seem to offer any solution, and he refuses to recognize that there may be reasons (albeit offensive ones) for sex-selective abortions in the United States. As a conservative, he’d rather just put his head in the sand and rail against feminists and brown people (who are the only ones who have sex-selective abortions, of course) instead of strategizing solutions beyond “make abortion illegal.” Although he does want to know “what kind of feminist would it be who could contemplate the use of abortion to eliminate ever-greater numbers of girls, and not cry out in horror?” Apparently “crying out in horror” is the ideal solution, as opposed to agitating for gender equality — you know, what feminists actually do.

Chris Matthews is a ridiculous asshole
. Thanks to Kyle for the link.

The Kenyan rape crisis is re-opening the debate on abortion. From the same publication: Kenyan men are deciding that Kenyan women are too uppity, and so they’re pursuing Ugandan women instead. Sound familiar? Apparently MRAs have gone international.

Top Bush advisers approved “enhanced interrogation” techniques. In other words, it was the guys at the top who sanctioned torture. Disgusting.


Everyone is freaking out about pregnant men. I get why it’s a story — it’s the man-bites-dog phenomenon. What I fail to understand is why people are so upset and offended. Women get pregnant and have babies all the time; why does it offend our sensibilities so deeply when a man does it? And why do so many commenters at AlterNet feel the incredibly strong urge to point out that Thomas Beatie isn’t really a man? My personal favorite is the Trans Police: “Only genuine transsexual people undertake the painful one way street that takes us as far along the journey from one physical sex to the other as is scientifically possible . People like Thomas Beatty who chose not to take that journey define themselves by that choice as NOT transsexual. In short genuine transsexual people MUST if at all possible change our bodies to match our brains.” Well, I’m glad someone is doing the hard work of drawing lines around who is a “genuine” transsexual and who’s not. Best to keep the not-“genuine” trans folks on the margins of every group, no? My other favorite argument is that the Beattie child is going to suffer — and so apparently the solution is to spread more ignorance and hatred and simply tell ‘different’ people not to reproduce. Genius. But I think the most frustrating thing about the situation is that this family’s reality is being held up for argument, as if they were political issues or theories instead of real people with real experiences.

Something fun: A “Road” Scholar copy edits America. Love it.

Twisty reviews Amanda’s book. And the book is indeed awesome. I’ll hopefully be writing a review soon, and my Q&A with Amanda will be going up on AlterNet next week. In the meantime, buy her book.

Gender and U.S. Bases in Asia-Pacific. I’ll just copy their description:

The power dynamics of militarism in the Asia-Pacific region rely on dominance and subordination. These hierarchical relationships, shaped by gender, can be seen in U.S. military exploitation of host communities, its abuse and contamination of land and water, and the exploitation of women and children through the sex industry, sexual violence, and rape. Women’s bodies, the land, and indigenous communities are all feminized, treated as dispensable and temporary. What is constructed as “civilized, white, male, western, and rational” is held superior to what is defined as “primitive, non-white, female, non-western, and irrational.” Nations and U.S. territories within the Asia-Pacific region are treated as inferiors with limited sovereignty or agency in relation to U.S. foreign policy interests that go hand-in-hand with this racist/sexist ideology.

A really fascinating article. Thanks to Josh for the link.

Virgin clubs are full of judgmental prigs? Who knew!


Another KBR employee is raped by American contractors
. And another. They have no legal recourse.

Crisis pregnancy centers lie and manipulate women. One woman tells the story of her visit to a CPC.

The shortage of abortion providers is a crucial issue. Luckily, RH Reality Check is covering it.

Veronica has great coverage of Dr. Susan Wicklund, the author of a recent book about reproductive choice. Check out the videos.

Girls, leadership, and the new face of the Girl Scouts. I’d be curious to hear all of your thoughts on this one. My parents wouldn’t let me join the Girl Scouts as a kid because (1) the Boy Scouts ban on gay troop leaders, and (2) my parents were under the impression that the Girl Scouts just made brownies and sewed things all day. As I understand it, though, the Girl Scouts are separate from the Boy Scouts rules, and lots of now-feminist women had very affirming and progressive experiences as Scouts.

The recent raid on a polygamous compound in Texas has everyone talking about polygamy and religious extremism. (Thanks to Jan for the link). “Everyone,” that is, except right-wing nuts who aren’t willing to admit that religious fundamentalism is an issue everywhere. Because whaddaya know — polygamy is all wrapped up in “traditional marriage.” And it was those crazy liberals who re-defined marriage to give women greater leverage and more rights.

Slut-shaming in two parts. First: Letting girls go to college — and not sequestering them away — is ruining society. Second: Single mothers are destroying society, at the encouragement of feminism. The take-away: Society would be way less destroyed if it weren’t for women fucking everything up. Thanks to Ms. C for the links.



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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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30 Responses to Things to Read

  1. L-K says:

    Interesting section of articles, Jill. Although I’m not too sure why you are surprised that the geisha article does not mention sex, since geishas are not sex workers, contrary to popular belief here in the US. Actually, the first geishas were males.

  2. L-K says:

    Oops, I should have kept “geisha” as just “geisha,” not “geishas.” There’s no plural nouns in Japanese.

  3. exholt says:

    Speaking of dudes and dating, CNN has an article on Japanese “geisha guys,” who hang out with Japanese businesswomen and serve as pretty accessories. There is no mention of sex, which is weird — if the article were about female geishas, I’d imagine sex would come in. That said, I’m pretty sure the whole thing is just one more of those “Japan is so weird!!!” articles, which is why it’s light on actual reporting. Thanks to Fauzia for the link.

    Though I have not read enough about the history of the Geisha to know the veracity of either side, I have heard arguments in both my undergrad Japanese history courses and a lot of over-the-top manga/anime fans in school and at conventions that Geisha does not necessarily equal prostitute and associating with one does not necessarily mean one is out for sex.

    I am dubious of these claims myself, but I would prepare for the possible tirades from Japanophiles and manga/anime fans who will argue that associating sex with the Geisha is a common misinterpretation by non-Japanese, especially Westerners who misunderstand that aspect of Japanese society/culture through their Western gaze.

    My doubts about these claims is derived from the fact that everyone I’ve met who advanced such arguments tended to be White dudes who cannot tolerate anyone casting aspersions on their visualizations of a culture they are supposedly interested in.

  4. exholt says:

    Slut-shaming in two parts. First: Letting girls go to college — and not sequestering them away — is ruining society.

    The arguments cited above to discourage women from attending universities would have been laughed out of town in the Chinese/Taiwanese society my parents generation grew up in…dwindling number of rural traditionalists excepted. Due to the severe poverty and the perception of urgency due to the poor economic and technological state of their society in the ’40s to ’60s, nearly every family/student who felt they even had a remote chance at getting into college took it as it was not only a ticket out of poverty, but the best way to rapidly gain social status in a society where being educated was highly esteemed. Moreover, as admission was solely determined by passing the extremely competitive national college examination given by the Republic’s education department, untoward influence from wealth and political connections was severely curtailed.

  5. L-K says:

    Oops, noticed another error: “selection,” instead of “section.” Sh*t, that’s what I get for typing before coffee.

  6. Jill says:

    Interesting section of articles, Jill. Although I’m not too sure why you are surprised that the geisha article does not mention sex, since geishas are not sex workers, contrary to popular belief here in the US. Actually, the first geishas were males.

    Well, right, but as you said, in the U.S., geishas are always imaged as sex workers — at least when they’re women. So I was surprised to not see any recognition of that. I don’t think it’s a bad thing — good to separate geishas from sex workers if they aren’t actually sex workers — but it struck me that when females are the consumers, sex often gets taken out of the equation.

  7. Danakitty says:

    The last article about men and women cohabitating in apartments made me laugh. So am I in danger of “having my brains fall out” because I grew up with four brothers? Since my parents moved to a smaller house and I ended up sharing a bedroom with one of my brothers, am I in more danger of getting an STD?

    Even now, I prefer to live with guys over girls, and living with the BF has been the best experience I’ve ever had… and I’ve lived with three women, all alone, and of course, guys growing up.

    Easy solution: If someone doesn’t want to live with the opposite gender, let them check off a little box saying “same-sex only roommate(s).” No need for the conservatives to follow their kids to college and force everyone there to follow the same rules.

  8. ol cranky says:

    but parents in the USA would never have any reason for sex-selective abortion

    well, actually, some (albeit few) parents in the US may not only have a reason to consider sex-selective abortion, they may have a legitimate reason. There are some genetic disorders that are X linked and, if the mother was a carrier for a significant one, the couple may consider terminating a pregnancy for a male child. . .

  9. SoE says:

    Sure, gender-blind student accomodation is very common in Europe and has been for some time now. Probably explains why this continent is morally bancrupt… But then French women don’t shave and German men always wear white socks in sandals so no risk of having rampant sex there. (end of irony)

    To the pregnant male debate: Many people think vagina=woman and don’t even understand that removing ones reproductive organs is not a prerequisite for a legal sex change. While they might acknowledge that transsexual people exist they still cling to “born in the wrong body” which includes a full change. That someone might keep his vagina (or penis) and still feel like a real man (or woman) is apparently unbelievable. Also the wish to have your “own biological” children is probably seen as a privilege, a sex change requires you to give up.
    Just imagine what would happen if they split up…

  10. Lala says:

    Just chiming in to reiterate that geisha were/are not sex workers. Geisha means artist (loosely translated). The tradition of becoming geisha is actually kind of feminist – centuries ago, women in Japan were forbidden to participate in the theater arts. Becoming geisha was a way for women who wanted to be artists (playing shamisen, dancing, etc) to practice their craft legally. Geisha are entertainers, who are paid for their entertainment, not their sexual services. Sex should never be expected in return for patronage.
    The common belief in the West that geisha are prostitutes is usually attributed to the American occupation of Japan after WWII. Sex workers often dressed in kimono with white face paint like geisha do, and the servicemen didn’t know the difference between the two groups of women. So they called sex workers “geisha girls.”
    As for the article- the host club phenom is not so new. It follows in the much more ubiquitous wake of the hostess club. Salarymen have been going to hostess clubs and paying for women to flirt with them for years. Hostesses and hosts are different from geisha, though. They don’t go through the same training, and they don’t have the same skills or habits (ie, dress and makeup). Also plus, I’m pretty sure the $ in the article was supposed to be Yen. $50,000 a night is outrageous, but $5,000 a night makes sense.
    If you’re interested in Japan’s sex-for-sale culture, and host/hostess clubs, I recommend Pink Box – Inside Japan’s Sex Clubs. I read it and was pretty fascinated.
    So, that’s all from a female Japanophile, I guess. :)

  11. Lisa says:

    The Girl Scouts are actually a totally separate organization from the Boy Scouts, although Juliette Gordon Low based them on the same principles as the Boy Scouts. And GSUSA has allowed and affirmed lesbian troop leaders and scouts at least since I joined over twenty years ago.

    My impression is that girls can have a really widely varying experience in the Scouts even within the same service unit (the smallest organization of Scouts over the troop level) – my troop, for example, was known for being into wilderness survival camping, hiking, and all that Scouting jazz that people imagine is just a Boy Scout thing, but there was another troop for girls my age in our service unit that was definitely all about crafts and cooking and so on, and I’ve heard stories from other women about wanting to camp and being taught to make doilies instead. The actual activities that every troop participates in are largely up to the leaders, so it can be sort of luck of the draw whether you find one that matches your own interests.

    The Girl Scouts do have a ton of great programs to encourage and mentor girls to be leaders, though – I tell all my friends with daughters to encourage them to sign up.

  12. harlemjd says:

    I also think that co-ed dorm rooms (as opposed to co-ed dorm buildings or co-ed suites) sound like a horrible idea, but because they seem likely to lead to an increase in sexual assault. I really couldn’t care less about consentual sex between roommates. I agree that GLBT students need safe living environments, but wouldn’t more suite-style dorms (individual bedrooms with shared common areas) be a better solution?

    SoE – I don’t know where you went to school, but dorms at my European school (U of Munich) were co-ed by suite, not by room. Each student had his or her own tiny bedroom with a lock on the door. That’s very different from what’s being described here.

  13. Calixti says:

    I agree that GLBT students need safe living environments, but wouldn’t more suite-style dorms (individual bedrooms with shared common areas) be a better solution?

    No.

    At my school, at least, suites are only available to upperclassmen, and priority goes to fifth-years down. They’re also hideously expensive, and located so far away from all the academic buildings that you need a bus to get from suite to class. Furthermore, first-years are REQUIRED to live in the dorms, and while single rooms are an option, they’re limited in number, more expensive, and go to handicapped students first.

    Also, why are males and females rooming together more likely to increase the sexual assault rate, but not, say, homosexuals rooming with straight people? Furthermore, that argument is stupid if you’re not going to use it against mixed-sex floors too; what’s to stop someone bent on sexual assault to just walk into someone’s unlocked room and assault them while they’re doing homework?

    Personally, I’d RATHER room with a guy, because all the straight girls I’ve spoken to say they’d be “uncomfortable” rooming with me because I’m a lesbian. After my last roommate moved out (pre-op transguy, still legally female and required to room with a female because of that), Housing tried to room me with eleven different girls. Every one of them saw the rainbow bracelet on my wrist, asked about my sexuality, then decided their current situation was just fine, really.

    And what about students outside the gender binary? The Boston Globe article referenced is here: http://www.boston.com/news/education/higher/articles/2008/04/02/just_roommates
    I linked a friend of mine to it (neutrois), and my friend cried after reading the article, because it tells of at least one school asking a student’s gender identity and what pronoun they prefer; this friend had previously despaired over their gender identity ever being recognised on any official level. What about my ex-roommate’s trans girlfriend, who’s rooming with a guy because she’s still legally male and has no choice, a guy who makes her extremely uncomfortable because of his total disregard for her identity? What about the trans candidate for student body vice-president, who is able to room with females because she’s legally female, but has to deal with her roommates being “uncomfortable” when they find out about her past? They have no other options, and even suites and apartments don’t give them a choice of roommates, so they’re stuck with who’s assigned the the same suite or apartment they are.

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  15. exholt says:

    I also think that co-ed dorm rooms (as opposed to co-ed dorm buildings or co-ed suites) sound like a horrible idea, but because they seem likely to lead to an increase in sexual assault. I really couldn’t care less about consentual sex between roommates. I agree that GLBT students need safe living environments, but wouldn’t more suite-style dorms (individual bedrooms with shared common areas) be a better solution?

    Though my alma mater has had “co-ed dorm rooms” since at least the ’90s, those rooms are effectively split into two rooms with a wall and door with lock for the inner room and a second door to exit/enter the room. Moreover, we’ve also had co-ed bathrooms for about as long in many dorms.

    Contrary to the most horrifying parental fears, however, students have to voluntarily choose to have a co-ed roommate and live in dorms with “co-ed rooms”….and co-ed bathrooms do include the option for anyone who does not want anyone of the opposite gender in the bathroom at the same time to put up a ready made sign with a swiveling arrow to signify (Female only/Male only/co-ed).

    When I was in China in the late ’90s, dorms were gender segregated by building. There were “female” dorm buildings and “male” dorm buildings with security guards usually stationed to prevent students/anyone of the opposite gender from entering without prior approval from the school. In many ways, this along with heaping 6-8 students into one no frills bunk-straddled dorm room the size of a small American double is not too different from student life during my parents’ generation in the ’50s/’60s.

  16. exholt says:

    wouldn’t more suite-style dorms (individual bedrooms with shared common areas) be a better solution?

    Yes, they would be….but American colleges/universities are both too cheap and too taken with the idea that forcing multiple students to live/sleep in the same room is a great educational experience.* Though some schools have built up such dorms for certain upper-class/grad students, I would be shocked if they scrapped quad/triple/double dorms completely in favor of suite-style dorms.

    * Personally, this is a crock as I know of few instances outside of the military and some professional settings where a higher bureaucracy randomly assigns/forces adults to live together in the same room with little/no input from the individuals concerned.

  17. Cecily says:

    I’m with you, exholt. The whole one-room two-people things needs to be scrapped. It made me feel like an animal in a zoo; I could never. Just. Be. Left. Alone.

  18. denelian says:

    ya know, i am kinda (theoretically) mad at the trans-man for getting rid of one my favorite arguments about abortion.*
    (to a guy who wants his significant other to keep a prgnancy) “You willing to carry it for 9 months and go through labor? if not, then shut the hell up”

    ah, well – now we have PROOF that a man can do it, and we can now make THEM carry all the babies if they love them so much!

    seriously, i do NOT understand why we still don’t have a viable way to gestate outside of the body yet…

    *this is very tongue in cheek. when i first saw the newsstory, like a week ago, all i could do was cheer and call my mom, who is an O.B. nurse practicioner, and would LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE to have his case… wish i could recommend them to each other, actually, but she’s in CA and isn’t able to practice much at the moment, she needs more back surgery. but, she would love it.

  19. exholt says:

    I’m with you, exholt. The whole one-room two-people things needs to be scrapped. It made me feel like an animal in a zoo; I could never. Just. Be. Left. Alone.

    You’ve got that right. With few exceptions, it seems housing offices at most universities/colleges my high school classmates and I ended up at went out of their way to pair up roommates who were so different in their personalities/lifestyles that personality conflicts were all but inevitable.

    *Hint*: Pairing up seriously studious students with a drug/alcohol addled party animal/connoisseur of blasted music, etc is a seriously bad idea.

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  21. mike says:

    My mom worked for one of those pregnancy crisis centers, for a while, because she believed it was to help women – but they actually started to require her to attend church regularly, after a while, which needless to say puts their intentions in a suspicious light pretty much right away. It’s sick when organizations prey on and manipulate the most vulnerable under the guise of ‘helping’.

  22. ChrisR says:

    Top Bush advisers approved “enhanced interrogation” techniques. In other words, it was the guys at the top who sanctioned torture. Disgusting.

    Can we please have a war crimes trial?

    Aggressive war, torture, murder of civilians–what else do we need?

  23. prefer not to say says:

    The six conservative women on dating was very interesting. Thanks for including a piece that shows conservatives to be as varied in their personalities and approaches as feminists are.

  24. EoL says:

    Hosts and hostesses (sorry to beat the dead horse, but–like geisha, they’re also not sex workers, just paid to flirt and talk and be pretty) aren’t a new thing. If I walk down to kabukicho I can see dozens of establishments with boards advertising their menus of men and women you can buy for the night. Generally at these establishments, any sex trade is strictly under the table. But it surprises me how many people get the wrong idea. A coworker of mine kept going on about how she and her sister were approached by “man-whores,” and she was sure that all hosts and hostesses were actually prostitutes. (Even after I told her many times that no, they’re not. At least, not in a strict money-for-sex sense.) Then she was convinced that they were only for gay men. (Nooooo …)

    I’ve been tempted to go to a host club just to see what it’s like, but I don’t really want to pay $50 to enter/join, plus drinks, plus whatever the prettyboy costs per hour …

  25. luzzleanne says:

    Seconding the statement about Girl Scout activities depending on the troop and on the limits set by the meeting place. My group in elementary school did focus a lot on crafts, cooking, and singing, largely because we were stationed in the school caffeteria and couldn’t do much else besides. The more permanent group in middle school, which was stationed in a church community center did a lot of volunteer work and, for some reason, almost extracurricular education: cultural studies, biology and anatomy, the kinds of things that would fit in with what you were learning at school, but wouldn’t necessarily be part of the curriculum. All of my camp experiences were pretty wilderness training intensive, regardless of the “theme” for that year (one of which was rock climbing, so take from that what you will).

    On an interesting side note, my mother rigorously refused to donate to the Boy Scouts as long as she lived, not out of any political principles, but simply because of the way they fundraised. It angered her to no end that when the Girl Scouts needed money they would sell the traditional candy and cookies, hold private bake sales, make crafts to sell, etc., and when the Boy Scouts needed money they asked for donations from parents and former members. It made her so mad that the girls had to work for their money while the boys essentially had theirs handed to them; I’d never seen her quite so peeved by the basic unfairness of anything else.

    Why yes, my mother is the reason I’m a feminist. Why do you ask?

  26. Elizabeth says:

    Re: Girl Scouts

    Girl Scouts of America does not (and I don’t think ever has) ban atheist or gay leaders or members. However, activities vary widely from troop to troop. The first troop I joined, all we did was color and watch “Just Say No To Drugs” videos. Then I moved to a different town and the troop was much more active. We did volunteer work, went to theater productions, went horseback riding, and were encouraged to look through the handbook and start our own projects for badges. There was a psychology/sociology one I was totally into. We also did some hiking and a camping trip.

  27. Katherine says:

    God, the idea of sharing a room with someone at college is awful! I also think it is US specific. Any other Europeans care to chime in? In the UK at least, Halls of Residence (translation – dorms?) have individual bedrooms with shared kitchens and bathrooms usually, although each individual room will usually have its own washbasin. At my particular college, there were suites – i.e. two bedrooms and a shared living room, but they were only for third year students who had decided to share one.

  28. exholt says:

    God, the idea of sharing a room with someone at college is awful! I also think it is US specific.

    Not just in the US, I’m afraid. In the Republic of China(Taiwan) of the ’50s-’60s and mainland Chinese dorms at least in the late 90’s, 6-8 students would be piled into one bunk-straddled room with one table and a chest for each student to place his/her belongings. It is understandable in their case because nearly all universities are government sponsored/administered…and economic circumstances until recently would not permit them to provide students more space.

    Comparatively speaking, colleges/universities in the US cannot credibly claim poor economic circumstances to the same extent…especially the elite private institutions.

  29. Linda says:

    The Saudi “pamper your maid” link, by the way, doesn’t work.

  30. Lauredhel says:

    God, the idea of sharing a room with someone at college is awful! I also think it is US specific. Any other Europeans care to chime in?

    I’m not European, but in the Australian residential colleges I’ve been in, all the bedrooms are single, typically sharing a kitchenette/lounge area and bathrooms between 4-8 students.

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