Posts Tagged ‘women’s rights’

Well, I’m doing that thing where authors look at the year before and be hopeful about the year to come. And I have to say, 2016 was not the easiest year to deal with. Even the people who called 2015 shitty say 2016 was worse. Many people we cared about, from celebrities to icons to just ordinary loved ones, died. The world was rocked by a number of incidents, big and small, that showed that hate and prejudice is still alive and well in many countries one would consider tolerant (let alone the openly-intolerant countries). Groups like ISIS, and events like Brexit and the American presidential election left people the world over confused and terrified about the future. Illnesses and conflicts and starvation raged, and people suffered.

And movies that were supposed to be great, like Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad, and Ghostbusters, either were terrible or didn’t make the money they should’ve (stuff like that bums me out).

Yeah, this year has been tough. But there have been some amazing things, good things, that have happened this year. We have comedians like Trevor Noah and Jon Oliver and Samantha Bee, who are using their platforms to educate people about existing issues and even find ways to do some good. Thousands of refugees from war-torn Syria and other areas have found homes in more stable countries, and have started rebuilding their lives. Celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Watson are using their fame to fight for issues like feminism and equal pay. Hollywood is putting out more movies and TV shows that reflect their viewers, including black-ish, Speechless, and the Fast & Furious movies, to name a few, and while there are still missteps here and there, this shows that the makers of our media care about our opinions. And we nearly had our first female president! It didn’t happen, and it would’ve been cool if it did, but it still shows how far this country has come in terms of women’s rights. And the world got Tape Face from America’s Got Talent. I swear, I could watch his video every day, he’s so clever with the visual gags!

But wait, there’s more! This from YouTube and Vine star Thomas Saunders on reasons to smile:

God, that’s a lot of good, isn’t it? I wish he would’ve added Lucifer on that TV show listing though. That show makes my day!

On a more personal level, 2016 actually went pretty well for me. Yeah, all the nasty stuff I mentioned up above bummed me out, but there were many good things this past year. For one, my mother got married to her partner of several years, which was made possible by the 2015 Supreme Court ruling allowing gay marriage nationwide. That was a blast, and something I was glad to see finally pass. My mother and stepmother are so happy together, and I’m glad they get to be together in the eyes of the law as well.

Around that time, I got offered a couple of jobs/internships! One of them was here in Columbus, and it translated into a full position that I’m still working at right now. It’s a great job, where I’m promoting diversity in my organization with an office full of good people, and getting great pay and benefits while I do it.

In addition, my job has allowed me to move out of my dad’s house and into my own apartment, and even to buy new furniture and a new laptop. I’m paying all my bills on time and still have money to save, which is huge for me! And if things continue to go as they are, who knows? I could even get a cat or save up for a dream vacation to the UK and Ireland! I would love for those to happen.

My sciatica has improved! Yes, for those of you who don’t know, I have sciatica, a condition in which a nerve in the back is squished by spinal discs, causing severe pain in one leg and the lower back. I’ve had this since some time around graduation, but over the summer and through fall and beginning of winter, I started doing some new exercises and other stuff to improve my condition. At the time I’m writing this, I feel only mild discomfort, and sometimes not even that. By next summer, I could be completely cured of it!

This got published!

This got published!

But that’s not all. I released a new book, Video Rage, back in June, and it’s finally started to get some reviews! In addition, nearly all of my books have received new reviews this yer, and more people are discovering them every day. Heck, even my coworkers are reading my books! And on the social media side of things, my blog has grown, accruing nearly 900 subscribers, and passing the five-thousand like milestone. And pretty soon, I’ll be passing the fifty-thousand views milestones. One of my posts actually went kind of viral, garnering over nine-hundred views in the first five weeks of being published, and receiving more views since then.

But there’s more! I started the final book in the Reborn City series, and as of the most recent chapter, I’m a sixth of the way through the book! I could have it released sometime next year! I’ve also written several short stories, and I’ve had some great ideas, both for stories and for strategies to make sure more people discover and read my books. I can’t wait to put some of these to work.

Look folks, this has been a tough year. But for everything I’ve said above, and stuff I haven’t said, it’s been a pretty good one too. And while a lot about 2017 looks scary, we can do a lot to make it a great year. It’ll take some work, but we can make 2017 suck less than 2016 did (I can even post about some of my ideas on how to do just that in another post if you guys want), and to achieve all that we ream.

So will I make a thousand followers? Will I publish another novel and some short stories? Will I get an agent or a contract with a publishing company? Will I get a cat or that vacation? Will we cure AIDS, or improve education, or save the environment? Will the new American president be good at his job? I can’t say with any certainty. But it’s what I hope for. And if not, I’ll do all I can to improve that situation.

Happy New Year, my Followers of Fear. May 2017 bless you and leave you with plenty of reason to smile.

Advertisements

Today, the Supreme Court declared gay marriage bans unconstitutional in a 5-4 decision, making the United States of America the 25th nation or territory to legalize same-sex marriage.The atmosphere has been jubilant all over the country. Today I was running errands downtown and I saw people getting married in a lovely plaza next to a fountain, couples coming together to be wed in holy matrimony. It was all sponsored by one of the pro-gay rights groups, with pastors and cakes and photographers all on stand by. It was so beautiful.

And why shouldn’t it be? Today, like suffragettes at the beginning of the 20th century and like African-Americans in the 1960s, LGBT community and their allies have reached an important and historic milestone, one that affirms all LGBT individuals who’ve ever felt less than good enough or unwanted from the country or society or from the world that we are human, that we are worthy of being full individuals under the law. This is a great moment for all LGBT Americans.

Of course, this is nowhere near the final victory, just as the Nineteenth Amendment wasn’t the final victory in the cause for women’s rights, nor were the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 the final victories for African Americans. We as a nation still have a long way to go as a country before we can say there is any final victory. There is much that still needs to be done. In the short term, we have to ensure that those who are free to marry now can marry. Some state legislatures will try to make it difficult by including religious exemptions for clerks, or putting the whole business of marriage solely in the hands of clergy, or even saying the state can resist laws or rulings from the federal government that the state finds immoral or against the state’s best interest, whatever that means. The LGBT community and their allies will have to make sure that these sort of extreme measures don’t come to pass, and if they do, that they’re fought with the ferocity of tigers.

Celebrations over the Supreme Court decision today. Oh, what a wonderful day it is.

As for the long term, we need to create and foster a more inclusive atmosphere and culture nationwide. In many states it is still legal to fire someone if they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. In some places being LGBT or perceived as such can lead to harassment, assault, stalking, discrimination, persecution, and even death. Teens in junior high and high schools all over the nation are bullied every day for the way they were born or suffer in silence, afraid that if they allow themselves to be who they are, they will they will suffer more. Some lose everyone they love when they come out. Others will be forced to go to camps or some other form of “therapy” to make them “normal”.

This has to stop. As a nation that calls itself a land of opportunity and prosperity, we need to make it so that LGBT individuals within our borders can live in happiness and safety, to feel comfortable in their own skins and to go down the street without fear of being targeted for how they were born. That is what, in the long term, the LGBT community will pursue in this nation.

For now though, it is Friday. It is the weekend. And it’s still June, the month considered lucky for weddings (though in Ohio it’s also famous for rain and humidity). This weekend there will be celebrations of love, joy, matrimony. Couples will be legally wed in the eyes of the law, families will be brought together in happiness and health. Let us celebrate and love.

On Monday, as we usually do, we will get to work. But we will go to work with renewed purpose.

For what i would like to say to the naysayers and haters on this historic day, see my new post at From The Voice Of Common Sense.

This really interesting article was posted on the Huffington Post the other day. This article, which you can read in full here, discusses how many schools in India are implementing gender studies classes at public schools across India, thanks to cooperation between the Indian government and advocacy organizations. The goal of this, according to the organizers of these programs, is to get students thinking hard about how gender roles affect them and make some changes for the better. Maybe even bring down the  rates of domestic violence.

And so far the programs seem to be working, according to 15-year-old Shakir Parvez Shaikh:

“We talk about how boys and girls are equal as human beings, but how we treat girls differently,” he told Reuters. “For example, girls are not allowed to play cricket or watch as much television as boys because they have to do housework or because it is not safe outside for them. I didn’t realize before … I think it’s unfair.”

A lot of activists see these programs as one answer to a very sad problem. According to the National Crime Record Bureau,  India saw a nearly 27 percent rise in 2013 in reported gender violence, including rape, sexual harassment, and other related crimes. And for many the 2012 gang rape and murder of a woman on a bus in India is still pretty fresh in their minds. This has helped to spur the creation of these programs, which might help today’s youth see things in a different perspective and cut down on instances of institutionalized sexism, gender discrimination, and domestic violence.

When I read this article, two thoughts went through my mind. The first was that it was good that so many teens, boys and girls, were being exposed to these classes. With statistics like the ones cited above, these programs could bring down that rate significantly and help to foster a more egalitarian society. And then I thought, “Why can’t we have that here in the United States?”

And then I marveled at how we didn’t have any of those programs in the United States. Generally speaking, gender studies courses are normally only taught at the university level, which means that students might never be exposed to these ideas in the midst of taking science and literature courses. The concepts of feminism and gender equality do sometimes come up in high school or middle school settings, but they are usually in the backdrop of English literature or history classes, and they may not always be given the attention they deserve.

Current statistics suggest that 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be victims of sexual assault, though those numbers may be potentially higher due to under-reported. Women still earn only 70 cents for every dollar a man earns, and in fields such as business, politics or STEM, women may face people who believe that women aren’t suited to those fields, that they are only promoted due to their looks or sex rather than their ability, and trying to be assertive is considered “bitchy”. On the flip side, men frequently under-report domestic or sexual abuse and are expected to be tough, virile and sometimes violent to show their masculinity. If you aren’t those, if you’re not depositing your DNA in as many women as possible, then you’re seen as less as a  men, something I see as absurd.

All these reasons and more are why perhaps gender studies courses should be taught in middle and high schools in America. Getting today’s teenagers to engage in these issues may bring down rates of domestic violence, reduce sexism in the workplace, and perhaps get Americans to stop treating the word “feminism” like a swear word. It seems to be working in India anyway, so why not try it over here in the States?

What would it take to get such a program in schools?

Now, I’m no teacher or education major and my formal training in gender studies consists of one class in my first term here at Ohio State (though I’ve informally found ways to expand my training). But even if I’m not, that doesn’t mean I can’t at least get the ball rolling or start a conversation. So tell me, if you’re reading this, have a background in education, gender studies, or anything else that could possibly relate to this, what would it take to create these sort of programs and implement them in a school system? What sort of course materials would be needed? And what sort of obstacles would such a program face? I’d love to hear what you have to say, as well as your thoughts on what I’m suggesting and if it’s at all possible.*

I know that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to change society rapidly or get rid of a prejudice or stereotype. But at the very least that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. If anything, it means we should try harder to eliminate it, looking at every available option. And perhaps this can be one of them.

*However, if you use the comments section to be hateful or say really mean things, I will not approve the comments. We don’t need any of that here on this blog. I’ve already gotten plenty of that from Second Amendment and anti-circumcision advocates. Not really interested in seeing that again.

I went to a certain event on campus this evening, but I arrived not realizing that while the event is advertised as happening at a certain time, it only really starts much later (a part of me actually knew that, but the part of me that’s a total freak for being on time or missing something won out in the end). The library being nearby, I decided to pop in and check my email before I decided to go home or not. When I logged onto WordPress though, I saw a notification that I had a comment. I checked, and it was from a post I’d commented on a while back.

The post itself had been from a woman who was relating her experiences being sexually assaulted in the work environment, and how several other women she’d worked with had been in the same situation, and the owners of her workplace had tried to sweep it under the rug for the sake of business and for the attackers’ families’ sakes! Naturally, I was upset when I read that post. Sexual assault is a horrific thing that happens to so many people, mainly women but men as well. And what’s just as upsetting to me is not only the act of rape itself, but those who try to cover it up or downplay it or make it seem likes it not a big deal. This sort of conduct not only adds insult to injury to the victims, but it also sends a message, that rape is okay, that the attacker can go on doing whatever because it’s not a big deal, that if we make it into a big deal than it is then innocent people will get hurt and besides, it’s only one measly person who had a bad experience, right?

So I commented on the post. Since so many women had been attacked at this place, I suggested that maybe they band together and bring to the workplace a class-action suit or something, because sexual assault and covering up for it is illegal and a disgusting act to boot. That comment got a few likes during the preceding week or two after I’d read it, but the post got a lot more! Comments, likes, new stories coming out, stories of tragedy and stories of support. One newspaper even did a story on the place, so I’m assuming that got something rolling. At the very least, that place is seeing a lot less business than it had prior to so many women coming out.

Of course, not all of the people commenting have been supportive. The comment I got was from some woman with a generic sounding name. She basically said that while sexual assault was a crime, so was lying about it. That’s it. Lying about sexual assault was a crime.

Now, I’ve seen this sort of behavior before, and I know not to comment lest I end up getting attacked. Heck, I wrote an article on this very subject a while back, so I didn’t want to be a hypocrite by getting confrontational. But I was curious. Maybe because it was supposed to be a woman who commented, maybe it was the subject matter, maybe it was because I was kind of bored and I didn’t want to walk back to my apartment just yet. But I wanted to know who this person was.

So I clicked on the article to familiarize myself with it again. I also viewed my comment in full, as well as the reply comment. And then I started looking through the comment feed, seeing if anyone else had gotten any comments from this person. Sure enough, there were more than a few comments from this person on other people’s comments and they all had a similar message:

  1. Rape doesn’t happen
  2. The women who say they were attacked at this place weren’t attacked. Whatever happened there, they wanted it.
  3. Any woman who says that they were attacked is lying for attention or some other cockamamie reason and they’re the ones being sexist and cruel by calling supposedly innocent men rapists.

Very curious now, I clicked on the person’s username to see their blog. All I got was a bland background. No blog posts at all. Not even a post saying, “Hi, this is my first post. I’m hoping for good things while I write about so-and-so a subject. Please support me and follow me.” I checked the About page as well. Not a single thing.

At this point, any doubt I have has flown out the window. And while I’m not certain if this is someone who’s personally connected to the case and the workplace in question, or just someone who generally feels that they’re being assaulted as a man (yes, I say a man, because based on the language used by this person they’re probably male) by feminists with too much power and really without hacking skills, of which I’m lacking, there’s no real way to find out. But it does tell me something. That whoever this is feels threatened by women who speak out and feminists in general and will go to great lengths to stop it.

As if there weren’t enough obstacles making it seem like a bad idea to victims to speak out. On university campuses, some of which have really bad sexual assault rates, college administrators have mishandled assault cases, expelling or blaming victims and protecting rapists with light or no sentences at all. U Va recently got into trouble for this, and even my dear Ohio State has gotten into a lot of trouble over this. In the justice system, the system that’s supposed to protect us, there are cops, judges, and many more who will say that rape isn’t a big deal or victimhood is a status to be desired or that the victim knew what they were getting into, or that rape has to be “legitimate”. Some of this is even said by politicians at the highest levels of government. And when women speak out, they can face ridicule or disbelief by strangers, acquaintances, or even their friends and family. If their case gets to court, they risk being attacked by lawyers on the stand and disbelieved by juries. There’s a chance the rapist goes free and they have to live with that every day.

In other words, there’s a great fear, and a legitimate fear too, that speaking out will only make things worse.

And it’s the people like my wayward commenter, someone who seems determined to shut up victims and women in general, who are making the situation worse. There seems to be a great terror among certain sections of the population that giving women any sort of equality or power is akin to castrating all men and forcing them to live in a dystopian society where men are slaves to power-hungry lesbian dominatrices. That is simply not true. Feminists (of which I am one) only want women to have the same economic, social, and political rights as men, without taking away men’s rights. But there are those who believe it, and will go to great lengths to make sure women are afraid to speak out or seek equality.

Last month, feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian was sent a threatening letter by a man who claimed that feminists had ruined his life and that if she spoke at Utah State University, he would commit a mass shooting at the event. Because of Utah’s ultra-relaxed gun atmosphere, Ms. Sarkeesian had to cancel the event lest she risk her life and the lives of others. What does Ms. Sarkeesian talk about? Her latest videos, articles, and appearances tend to talk about how women are objectified in video games and seen less as actual people and more as sex objects or devices that (often violently) advance the game’s story.

Violence is a common threat from people who don’t want women speaking out. And while the actual incidences of violence are low, these threats, plus the threat of ridicule, of becoming a punchline in a joke, of being called a money-grubbing slut or a power-hungry feminazi man-hater, makes it much more difficult for many women to speak out. No one wants that sort of attention on them, and for victims of assault, it’s even harder to come out when facing all that.

So what is there to do about it? Well, I’m doing it right now: I’m fighting back. I’m writing an article that exposes what is happening and pushes back against it. And I’m letting people who have been attacked and that are afraid to come out that I’ve got their back. Yes, I’m a man, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe women should be equal in society. Far from it. I’m willing to fight alongside the many women out there who demand to be treated equally and with respect in the world towards men.

So know this, folks. If you’re a woman and/or you’ve been assaulted, know that I support you and I’m there for you. And for those who still think that men are under threat by these women, I’m so sorry you feel this way, but it’s not true and some day I hope you come to this realization.

Thank you, and goodnight, Followers of Fear and everyone else.

I’m a feminist. I believe that women should be given equal treatment to men financially, politically, and socially. I believe this won’t disenfranchise men, but instead make women equal partners to men. In fact, men such as myself can be ardent feminists, and there are plenty of them out there. I also believe that there are people who dislike feminism because of ignorance or prejudice. And I believe that those who actively work to dissuade people from identifying feminism or tear down some of the movement’s tenets and beliefs are doing a lot more harm than good. Normally I ignore what is said, but occasionally something is so blatantly wrong or harmful to women that I have to speak up.

So when I read what Rush Limbaugh said today and then heard it for myself, I couldn’t keep quiet. Normally I ignore what Mr. Limbaugh says. Since the Sandra Fluke debacle two years ago, I’ve actually been surprised that he’s still on the air, let alone that he hasn’t learned from his mistakes or maybe hired someone to edit what he plans to say before he says it. But today might be the worst thing he’s said since he talked about Ms. Fluke.

I couldn’t embed the audio of the clip in question onto this post (if you’d like to hear it yourself, you can check out the Huffington Post article where I first read about it), so I’m talking about it here. In short, Mr. Limbaugh said that he finds the idea of “No” means “No” ridiculous.  He says:

How many of you guys in your own experience with women have learned that ‘no’ means ‘yes’ if you know how to spot it?…It used to be used as a cliche.

So under this definition of consent, when a woman says “no”, it really means “yes” under certain circumstances (and I bet to a guy like Mr. Limbaugh, there are few, if any, circumstances where “no” actually means “no”). A guy just has to “spot” it. I’m just wondering, how exactly do you spot the signs that a woman is actually saying “yes” underneath the resounding “no”? Enlighten me.

And if you think about it, this definition could extend not just to women. Perhaps a young child is actually saying yes to being touched inappropriately, even if they’re being touched by a parent or other relative. And according to Mr. Limbaugh’s definition of consent, if a gay man comes onto him or any other man and the second man says no, the gay man is allowed to go on if they believe “the signs” are there telling them to go on.* It’s uncomfortable to think about, but it could happen.

*I’m not actually insinuating that anyone does or should do this, be they straight or gay men, relatives of a child, or anything else. I’m just trying to put this in the context that Mr. Limbaugh outlines and make sense of the implications.

Also notice how Mr. Limbaugh asks for the opinions of the male listeners of his show, but not the female listeners. Why doesn’t Mr. Limbaugh ask about the female listeners’ experiences? I’m sure some of them have quite the stories to tell. According to the website of the Rape, Abuse, And Incest National Network, about 1 in 6 women are the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetimes. 1 in 33 men suffer the same sort of attacks, and 15% of children under the age of 12 are vulnerable to rape or sexual assault. Victims of sexual assault are three times more likely to suffer from depression, four times more likely to suffer from PTSD and/or consider suicide, and 13 and 26 times more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs, respectively. A third of them get pregnant from their ordeals. How many of these women said “no” and that was ignored or interpreted as meaning “yes”? And how many of them listen to the Rush Limbaugh Show?

Mr. Limbaugh also quotes from the student handbook at Ohio State University** on what constitutes consent. Well, actually he isn’t quoting, exactly. Only a small bit of what he says is actually from the Student Code of Conduct (which you can read here). I have no idea where he’s getting this stuff about the thirteen-year-olds consenting to sex. But beyond all that, the point Mr. Limbaugh is trying to make is that all these requirements for having consent is too much and actually getting in the way of romance and seduction. I don’t have the most experience in this, but if you ask me, when two consenting partners are very much in love, care deeply about the other, and want to make each other happy, then all this stuff Mr. Limbaugh believes gets in the way of romance and seduction becomes unnecessary. The couple know each other well enough to know what is safe, what is crossing a boundary, and how to make sure both of them have an enjoyable sexual experience.

And for couples who aren’t at that point yet, perhaps they don’t need to ask permission to do every single thing. But it is common sense to discuss with your partner what you consider safe sexual territory, and to pay attention to what your partner is telling you, verbally or non-verbally. If your partner says no, doesn’t matter if you or your partner are male, female, or some other third gender. No means no, under ALL circumstances.

Mr. Limbaugh makes it seem like you have to go through a maze to have sex, but I don’t think that’s actually the case.

**For future reference, would you please not use my alma mater in your program? It’s not a very good example at the moment, anyway: sad as I am to admit, OSU’s marching band is under investigation for fostering an atmosphere of sexual assault, and there are other investigations occurring as well, last I checked. I still love this school and I’m not proud of what’s happened here, but you can’t fight your demons if you don’t admit to them, so I’m putting them out there.

So Mr. Limbaugh may feel that there are exceptions to the No rule and all those requirements for consent are a bit too much for your average man looking for sex. But with sexual assault so prevalent in our nation, I feel having these things pointed out to us is a good thing. Not only does it make us aware of a problem that needs to be combated, but following these rules helps to make our country safer for all, and helps to eliminate a very terrible problem.

Mr. Limbaugh does make one very good point, and that is we need to change how we teach our boys. I agree, but I think we need to change how we teach our girls too, and maybe how we approach sex in general. Men should be taught that there is nothing wrong with wanting to have sex, provided you are educated about both the benefits and the consequences of sex, particularly unsafe, forced or alternative forms of sex. And girls should be taught about their bodies, all that comes with sex, and that there is nothing they should be ashamed of when it comes to their bodies or their sexuality, no mater what anyone says. And above all, it should be stressed that no one owns your body but you, and you should decide what can and cannot be done with it.

Mr. Limbaugh, I hope what you’ve said today gets talked about by a variety of people. I hope that you make the newsrounds for your comments, because what you said is hurtful and shameful and trivializes a major problem. And perhaps after what you’ve said, there can be some constructive change to stop this ongoing epidemic of sexual assault in our nation. I would very much like to say that.

And Mr. Limbaugh, perhaps after this latest incdent, you might take steps to avoid saying such hurtful and despicable things on your program. And if that’s not possible, then maybe it’d be better for a lot of people (and I say this with all the sensitivity I can muster in such a situation) if you would kindly shut up.

This morning I woke up to a very interesting article, about a female volleyball player who was being criticized for “being too beautiful to play”. Sabina Altynbekova of the the women’s under-19 volleyball team of Khazakstan, has come under fire recently because her looks are too distracting. At a tournament in Taiwan, fans becae infatuated with her, and caused an Internet sensation that’s spread to the rest of the globe, with videos of her doing the simplest things gaining hundreds of thousands of views. As her coach, Nurlan Sadikov*, said to the press, “It is impossible to work like this. The crowd behaves like there is only one player in the championship.”

Sabina Altynbekova before a game.

*Just in case you can’t figure it out from the name, Sadikov is male.

If the photo I’ve attached to this post doesn’t make it obvious, Ms. Altynbekova is a very beautiful young lady. in fact, if I were standing right in front of her right now and I thought I had even a sliver of a chance, I’d ask her out. However, what irritates me isn’t that she’s pretty. It’s that she’s being criticized for it.

For years, female athletes have been held to a much different standard to their male counterparts. Males athletes have to be able to stay athletic and be good at the games they play. At the same time, the female players are expected to be athletic, good at their sport of choice, and feminine. In intervies, men are asked about what they do to stay good at the game, where they see themselves and their teams going this year, and what they hope to do if and when they retire. Heck they might even get a question about politics or religion. The women get asked about how they stay fit or what they look like in a bikini or if they have boyfriends or plans to marry and have kids.

And when a man has huge legions of screaming fans, regardless of sex, it’s considered a plus, that they’re the epitome of manhood and that’s just something that comes with the game. Apparently when women like Ms. Altynbekova have that problem, it’s considered a distraction and takes awa from the game and the players. To a female athlete, her status as woman means she must be held to a different standard. She must be pretty, but not too pretty, good at the game but not too good and let it not be suggested that how good she is should be the thing we focus on, lest we give women the idea they are just as good as their male compatriots. Otherwise, she is neither an athlete nor a woman.

Even a guy who is unable to care about sports outside of Buckeye football like me finds this treatment appalling. And you know what else? This attitude isn’t anything new. In fact, one could even say this attitude that the sports industry has towards women–that they are inferior, and only as good as their ovaries and what they must do to get men and children–has been going on since the ancient Greeks, when women were barred from the Olympics and all participating were required to play naked to make sure this was an all-boys club.

It’s no coincidence these figures are male.

And this is just the tip of the problem. There is all sorts of denigration of women in the sports industry, from constant jokes about women’s sports teams being wastes of times unless someone flashes a side boob or that they should waitress instead to the emphasis that women can never be as good as men at sports (considering my stepmom taught me how to play soccer and softball in our backyard, I’ll disagree on that one), and moreover, they shouldn’t.

Occasionally this spills over to the realms of domestic abuse. In May, Ravens’ running back plead not guilty to aggravated assault after being arrested for beating his fiancee and dragging her unconscious body out of an elevator by the armpits three months previously. What did the NFL do about this? They gave him a two game suspension from playing football. You read that right. He’s not allowed to play for the Ravens for two games.

Stephen A. Smith, whose comments have caused a huge storm among viewers.

The suspension, as expected, has caused a flurry of controversy. Unfortunately, some of that controversy has been less than helpful. Stephen Smith, a commentator from ESPN’s “First Take”, said last Friday on the show that women should be aware of “the elements of provocation”, basically saying that women are partly to cause for the abuse they suffer, which is what their abusers would want them to believe. He apologized for it on Monday, saying that it was the most “egregious error of his career”, but the fact is, when he said that women were partly to blame for their abuse, he said it to millions of men across the nation. Some of whom may see it as justification for their own abusive ways and would have shrugged off the apology as something Smith’s bosses or the liberal media or whatever wanted him to say.

At least Keith Olbermann over on ESPN2 had the right idea of it. As he said on a recent segment of his show:

“By some tiny amount each one of those things lowers the level of basic human respect for women in sports. And sooner or later, there are so many tiny amounts that the level of basic human respect is gone altogether…Eventually after all the b-words and ho comments and penis remarks and nudity demands and waitress jokes, the most powerful national sports league in the world can then get away with suspending a wife-beater for just two games.”

Olbermann speaks the truth. And luckily there are ways to fight against this sexist attitude in the sports industry, and in other places as well where sexism pervades. First, we can stop with the comments that put women down, saying that they’re inferior or bad athletes or that they focus on being pretty. At the same time, we should focus on not giving power to the myth that men, in order to be men, have to be strong, dominant, and sometimes even violent. This idea turns men into monsters, not men, and we should work to stop it.

And the best way to do that is to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. One of the ways we can show that is to be an example to other men and women. Show that you are not that kind of guy by being respectful to women, by outright saying that these harmful jokes and stereotypes aren’t funny or okay and also teach those who can be changed and taught the right way to go about things. It’s not much, but it’s a start.

What do you think of these problems in the sports industries and other places? What do you recommend to fix them?

I know I’m a little late to this conversation (though I did post a lengthy message on my Facebook page when it first happened) and I would’ve written a blog post about this sooner, but I’ve been busy with other work. Well, better late than never. Besides, Jon Stewart managed to make some jokes on it last night, so I can do it tonight.

There used to be a time when religious liberty meant that you could go to church ro synagogue in peace and without fear of ridicule or attack. Where your religion didn’t bar you from certain neighborhoods or trades. Where you didn’t have to wear a yellow star, and you didn’t suddenly have to leave country or convert in order to avoid death and suffering.

When the hell did it change that a couple of people could make decisions about the health of thousands of women?

As noted above, a lot has already been said about the Hobby Lobby case. However, I’m going to go over it because I find the majority ruling of the Supreme Court simply infuriating.

First off, Hobby Lobby says that it doesn’t want the federal government to force them to hand women employees birth control. Um, the people who will be handing birth control over will be the pharmacist. The insurance company your company uses will actually be paying for it, drawing on the money every employee puts into the company insurance policy to pay for the birth control. So basically everyone who’s on Hobby Lobby’s health insurance policy would be paying for the birth control. The fact that only a few people at the top can decide what everyone is paying for in their health insurance worries me somewhat.

Second, the owners of Hobby Lobby are objecting to contraceptive pills that “cause abortion”. Most fertilized eggs actually self-abort and don’t embed themselves in the uterine wall, so maybe you want to protest whatever mechanism causes that? Also, the pills that “cause abortion” actually a bit of a mystery, as scientists aren’t sure how they prevent pregnancies. So maybe you might want to figure that out before you start a lawsuit? Especially since you still cover Viagra and vasectomies, the latter of which basically makes the testicles useless and gives seed nowhere to go to procreate. I think the Biblical term for that is “spilling seed”.

Continuing on with this, I’m not so sure Hobby Lobby actually objects to birth control pills, as some of the companies, trust funds, and other financial mechanisms its owners have fingers in actually hold stakes in pharmaceutical companies that produce these very pills that are being protested. Is it really protesting on religious grounds to provide abortion pills? Or is it something about not having to pay for a product you already own?

And I’m really worried about this decision, which opens up some serious floodgates for lawsuits. The term “closely-held corporation” is a pretty loose definition. Already we’ve seen evangelical colleges asking to be exempt, and other companies as well that one wouldn’t normally think of as “closely-held companies”. Under the loose definition though, they might.

And if religious liberty can be used as an excuse to get out of covering contraception or other “objectionable” medical practices, what’s next? Catholics are against all forms of contraception. Jehovah’s Witnesses are against blood transfusions. Scientologists are against psychiatry. Christian Scientists generally don’t like traditional medicine. And what about objecting to other things based on religious belief? Other laws? What if a family bakery that got incorporated decides not to make a wedding cake for a gay couple because they believe it’s a decadent lifestyle? What if a print shop refuses to print flyers for an event hosted by the local Wiccan community because they won’t “help witches and Satanists”? As Justice Ginsburg said in her dissent, it’s a slippery slope.

All in all, I’m really troubled by the implications of this decision, besides the fact that a few people, mostly older white men, are getting away with making medical decisions for thousands and thousands of women and thinking that is okay. It’s already hard enough to purchase safe, affordable birth control, and some people need the help of an insurance company to afford it. Some of these women aren’t even taking birth control medications to avoid getting pregnant! Birth control medication is good for regulating menstrual cycles, prevent endometriosis, reduce the pain of cramps or migraines, and even fight acne! Most women actually take the pill for multiple reasons, studies find.

And they can’t just go looking for another job that offers birth control on the insurance plan. Some women can’t afford to leave a job because it’s all they have. The job market is still rather difficult these days, and leaving a job to look for one that might offer the right insurance isn’t exactly like walking through a park. In fact, it could lead some families to financial ruin.

Now that I think about it, most of the women who will be most affected by this decision will be women in the lower-middle, working, and poverty-stricken classes. Meanwhile, the rich can still easily afford birth control should they desire it, or own the companies that produce birth control. This si not just starting to resemble a new battle in the war on women, but also a form of class warfare and keeping the lower classes in their place. And I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s thought this.

What say you on the Hobby Lobby case? Where do you see this going in terms of consequences?

(Be aware I will be screening comments. So if I get the kind of comments from people who can’t bear any opinion but their own, it won’t show up on this blog)