Stuff to Read

RED SEX, BLUE SEX. Evangelical teens and sexual activity. Margaret Talbot looks at sexual activity in red states and blue states, and the ideologies behind it. It’s a fascinating read.

WHAT CAN I DO? Amanda on how able-bodied people can help to create accessible solutions for disabled people.

THE MOMIFICATION OF MICHELLE OBAMA. Rebecca Traister is one of my favorite feminist writers, and she nails it in this article. What I particularly like about it is that it’s not over-simplified — she recognizes that the media has a hand in shaping Michelle’s image, but that Michelle herself is a smart woman and presents a certain face to the world (and makes certain choices). Traister also recognizes that Michelle, like all of us, is caught in a world that makes conflicting demands on women, and especially on working mothers — to be the perfect mom, entirely selfless and dedicated 100% to your children, while still working just as hard (or harder) than the guys in the office. Of course, women rarely have the built-in support system that working men have (that is, a wife).

NO SENSE OF IRONY. Nancy on why it’s not ok to support Proposition 8 and then hide behind the Constitution. Yes, you have your right to free speech and your right to vote, and you can use that right to take away civil rights from other people. But then you don’t get to whine when those other people use their First Amendment rights to call you a jackass and boycott your business. Best line: “No sense of irony, straight guys. But hearing them play the you’re-the-real-bigot-for-punishing-me-for-exercising-my-right-to-free-speech card just got on my last gay nerve.”

NEW MEDIA, SAME OLD STORY: Women’s voices are muted on the Huffington Post. Just a tiny PSA: HuffPo does accept submissions. I know a lot of you are great writers, so consider submitting more formal blog posts to them. The best way to get it on the front page is to have some sort of news hook — make it relevant to the events of today, and make it something that will get people talking.

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH ESSAY CONTEST. Write about reproductive health, win a trip to DC.

BATTLE FOR THE BRAINS. Why playing the dumb card failed the GOP.


THE BARRIER THAT DIDN’T FALL. Women report discrimination and inequality at work, at home and in the media. Men don’t seem to notice, even while almost 40% of them say that a male is “naturally more suited” to carrying out the duties of the presidency.

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6 comments for “Stuff to Read

  1. Thomas
    November 18, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    From the first link, Red Sex, Blue Sex:

    Regnerus’s survey, the teen-agers who espouse this new morality are tolerant of premarital sex (and of contraception and abortion) but are themselves cautious about pursuing it. Regnerus writes, “They are interested in remaining free from the burden of teenage pregnancy and the sorrows and embarrassments of sexually transmitted diseases. They perceive a bright future for themselves, one with college, advanced degrees, a career, and a family. Simply put, too much seems at stake. Sexual intercourse is not worth the risks.” These are the kids who tend to score high on measures of “strategic orientation”–how analytical, methodical, and fact-seeking they are when making decisions. Because these teen-agers see abstinence as unrealistic, they are not opposed in principle to sex before marriage–just careful about it. Accordingly, they might delay intercourse in favor of oral sex, not because they cherish the idea of remaining “technical virgins” but because they assess it as a safer option. “Solidly middle- or upper-middle-class adolescents have considerable socioeconomic and educational expectations, courtesy of their parents and their communities’ lifestyles,” Regnerus writes. “They are happy with their direction, generally not rebellious, tend to get along with their parents, and have few moral qualms about expressing their nascent sexuality.” They might have loved Ellen Page in “Juno,” but in real life they’d see having a baby at the wrong time as a tragic derailment of their life plans. For this group, Regnerus says, unprotected sex has become “a moral issue like smoking or driving a car without a seatbelt. It’s not just unwise anymore; it’s wrong.”

    (Emphasis supplied.)

    I think this is important. Feminists should not cede the field on values; instead, we ought to articulate a set of values. We have them. And, expressed well, I think our values will appear both more realistic and more appealing to many parents and teens who don’t identify as feminists: values like open communication; affirmative consent; respect for one’s partners; and a duty of prudent conduct.

    (If I had time, I would try to articulate what I think those things mean. That would take more time than I have now.)

  2. DAS
    November 18, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    The values issue is tricky, though. Isn’t part of the rejection of social liberalism by “red state” types partially a judgement of “we are not of sufficient socio-economic standing to ‘afford’ upper-middle class values”? A lot of socially conservative rhetoric (coupled as it often is with anti-government spending rhetoric) really does boil down to — “you red state folk are already struggling economically — can you really afford social liberalism?”

    As a liberal of a somewhat religious bent, I am all for we liberals doing a better job of arguing how our views represent a system of values, a system that indeed can have a religious basis. However, I think we also need to be careful to emphasize that adoption of liberal values is something that will benefit those who are not yet in the middle class: i.e. that civil rights, etc., are not zero-sum sorts of things but rather synergistic. We need to convince people who feel they can’t afford the upper-middle class values of liberalism that, on the contrary, the political consequences of liberal values and greater acceptance of, e.g., non-traditional lifestyles will synergistically help those who have so-called traditional lifestyles (but who are not so well off).

  3. Ex-Republican
    November 19, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    The article from the Economist is very telling in my mind. I used to identify myself as a pro-choice Republican before changing my registration to Independent. My intellectual coming of age was Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, Mises’ Human Action and other works of the Austrian Economics School. I also admired Nozick, Hume, Mill and a number of of the limited government philosophers.

    I still think the case for limited government is well within the academic, philosophical and intellectual tradition.

    I don’t recognize this current version of the Republican Party. The hostility toward science is obscenely troubling. The fact that most of the Republican candidates for President do not believe in evolution is frightening. I think it isn’t a stretch to say that Calvin Coolidge and Barry Goldwater wouldn’t recognize today’s Republican Party.

  4. Thomas
    November 19, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    ER, libertarian-leaning folks who do not buy the socially conservative agenda or the crony-capitalist reality that underlies the Gramm wing’s actual agenda are rare, and have been completely used.

    The conservative “stool” has three legs, none of which appeal to someone steeped in the small government tradition: the hawk wing, who reduce individual rights at home and expand government for empire-building abroad; the Gramm (of Gordon Gecko) wing, who are essentially a lobby for big business, and who want government small and weak not in service of liberty but so that it can more easily be manipulated to their competetive advantage; and what Lee Atwater called the “extra chromosome set,” the social conservatives that even the conservative movement has often been embarrassed of, and who affirmatively want government in the bedroom, banning things that offend them and bankrolling programs to communicate their views.

    There is no place for real small-government conservatives in the American political system for the forseeable future. The left doesn’t want you, and the right won’t accept you unless you’re willing to help justify everything they do and then bite your tongue when they betray your principles.

    Really, you have three options. (1) try to form a third party, on a Perotist model, in the center. I don’t think this is practically possible, but it is theoretically possible. (2) try to form a coalition to take back the Republican party. That would require siding with one or even two of the legs of the stool and ganging up to throw some folks out of their positions in the party. This is possible, and probably the right thing, but it will consign the Republican Party to the wilderness for a generation. (3) give up.

    The natural alliance, of course, is the Gramm-style crony capitalists and the hawks. But it isn’t clear that without either the Southern Strategy of racist fearmongering or faith-based culture war these groups can capture a majority of voters.

    That’s how I see it.

  5. Morningstar
    November 19, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    “(1) try to form a third party, on a Perotist model, in the center. I don’t think this is practically possible, but it is theoretically possible. (2) try to form a coalition to take back the Republican party. That would require siding with one or even two of the legs of the stool and ganging up to throw some folks out of their positions in the party. This is possible, and probably the right thing, but it will consign the Republican Party to the wilderness for a generation. (3) give up.”

    i took option “3”, but i actually feel fine about it. it’s the choice of two big governments, but i’d rather have the government spend that money at home for everyday people rather than on wars and military corporations.

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