When women tell us men how unhappy they are, our job is to listen, not to try to fix everything. What matters is empathy, not problem solving.
Here is a video that illustrates the principle.
My apologies to all those who saw this about half a year ago, which is often how these things work, and my thanks to 6000, which is where I first encountered it. Says 6000:
If my wife sees this, I’m dead. So let’s keep it between ourselves, ok?
So, commenters, try not to shout.
My main comment is that the still shot that introduces the video, and the title of the video, both give the game away. But maybe they have to, to get the video noticed.
The Guardian wished to host a debate on the question ‘Is there a gay gene?’
In the spirit of modern scientific enquiry, the experts to whom the newspaper turned in order to examine this question were Julie Bindel, a freelance journalist and political activist, and Paul Burston a journalist and author of the novel The Gay Divorcee.
I have little knowledge and no very strong opinion on the question. We will find out one day and I suspect the answer will be complex. No strong opinion, but I was gripped by their debate. Not because of their insights into genetics, obviously. Their examination of their own memories and feelings as gay people, though unable to provide an answer to the question of whether there is a gene for homsexuality, did at least provide two “survey responses”, so to speak, to the broad question of whether homosexuality is inborn or acquired, a question which might well be partly answerable by self examination by homosexuals. Correction, one survey response. Julie Bindel just said that people cannot remember being babies. I did not see the relevance of this.
She also seemed to resent any attempt to have the question she was there to debate researched by anyone who might actually be able to answer it, judging by the scare quotes she put around “cause” and “condition” in the second paragraph of her article. (‘And despite the obsession of some scientists to find a “cause” for our “condition”…‘) She felt all that was her gig, I suppose.
No, what really fascinated me about this debate was the the assumption shared by both that the way to determine what is true is to decide which hypothesis best advances their political goals. Even that was interpreted in a narrow, tactical sense, and in a shape determined by their opponents. Bindel writes,
So when people say “If being gay was a choice then why would we choose to live a life where oppression, violence and discrimination are inevitabilities?”, I say to them so is being a feminist in countries where sexism exists, but they still exist and persevere. It is about wanting to be part of creating a better world.
Some gay people might feel that finding a gay gene might diminish prevalent homophobia, but this is naive. Racism has not diminished because we know that blackness or whiteness is genetic.
What concerns me is that, all too often, people who claim that homosexuality is a choice are the same people who stand in the way of lesbian and gay equality. If it’s a choice, they argue, then we only have ourselves to blame.
Proof by Aspiration. Disproof by Bad Company. Ms Bindel and Mr Burston may oppose each other, but both have understood the spirit of the age.
Should the word “rape” in the American term “statutory rape” be replaced with some other word?
I would argue in favour of replacement that it diminishes the perceived magnitude of the crime of rape in the ordinary sense (“rape rape” to use Whoopi Goldberg’s term, or “legitimate rape” to use Todd Akin’s) to use the same word for those cases of statutory rape where consent was present, or arguably present. It also makes calm discussion and clear thinking about the complex issue of consent much harder.
Incidentally, I think that most of the criticism that both Goldberg and Akin got for using the terms they did was unjust. They both deserved criticism for making public pronouncements about subjects of which they knew next to nothing. Goldberg apparently did not know that Polanski’s crime was indeed a particularly vile coercive rape of a minor. I suspect that she assumed that talented people from her own social milieu did not do that sort of thing. Akin had the silly belief that women’s bodies have the power to prevent conception by an act of will. However I do not think for a moment that when he said “legitimate” rape he meant that there were circumstances where rape should be permitted, and I do not think that those howling for his head really believe he meant that either. He just used the wrong word. He should have said “coercive rape” – but the very fact that people need to hunt around for a term that gets that across, and get into trouble when they get it wrong, is why I think the term of law should be renamed.
I am not arguing against the existence of such laws, although no doubt many of them could do with adjustment. I am told the term does not exist in English or Scottish law but it has certainly soaked into British public discourse, muddying the waters.
From an auctioneers’ website:
lot no 305
A silver rectangular medallion, London 1977, applied with ‘WE FIX’D IT FOR JIM’ and ‘NATIONAL VALA 1977′, 4.2cm high, with a suspension loop, on a belcher link chain, the ring catch stamped ‘STER’
The National Viewers’ And Listeners’ Association (National VALA) was founded by Mary Whitehouse, CBE (1910-2001) in 1965.
Provenance: From the estate of Sir Jimmy Savile. OBE, KCSG, LLD (1926-2011)
It would be ridiculous to attempt to extract some moral from the existence of a medallion apparently issued by the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association, 1970s campaigners against obscenity, particularly obscenity on the BBC, and the late Jimmy Savile, 1970s BBC DJ and TV host, now alleged (credibly alleged, despite the inevitable swarm of bandwagoneers) to have been a sexual predator with no regard for gender, age, vulnerability or consent. Any competent hack could whip up two think-pieces with mutually exclusive morals in one hour flat and bank his cheques from the Mail and the Guardian in the morning.
It was just an odd thing I found on the internet.
Just to add to the oddity, the auction was held in Saviles Hall. It is no longer possible to Google for the origin of that name.
The medallion went for £220, somewhat below the estimate. Wonder what it’s worth now?
Yes, I think I am avoiding talking about the Savile case. You can remedy that below. The case, as opposed to the medallion, throws up so many questions and points for discussion that I was hard put to keep the number of categories for this post under half a dozen. Please bear the laws of libel in mind if referring to living persons.
What a fabulously confident and ingenuous-seeming political narcissist Ms. Fluke is. She really does think—and her party apparently thinks—that in a spending crisis with trillions in debt and many in need, in a nation in existential doubt as to its standing and purpose, in a time when parents struggle to buy the good sneakers for the kids so they’re not embarrassed at school . . . that in that nation the great issue of the day, and the appropriate focus of our concern, is making other people pay for her birth-control pills. That’s not a stand, it’s a non sequitur. She is not, as Rush Limbaugh oafishly, bullyingly said, a slut. She is a ninny, a narcissist and a fool.
- Peggy Noonan.
My own prediction: Obama’s finished.
David Cameron, who clearly does not have enough to do, has pledged to consult on campaigners’ proposals to force internet service providers to block porn by default. I am against the proposals because of the force. I also agree with Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group that non-porn will get blocked by mistake. There will likely be other technical problems. And it will make the perceived problem it is trying to solve worse because parents will have a false sense of security while savvy children figure out how to work around the filters. And I am not convinced that porn harms children.
But mostly I want the government to stop messing with my internet.
Stanley Fish is rightly getting a lot of heat in the internet for his brazen assertion that it is okay to adopt double standards in terms of the kind of language used to describe women so long as the person using such terms holds the “right” views and is, in some more general sense, on the side of the intellectual “good guys”.
David Henderson, over at EconBlog, has what I think is the most devastating take-down of this character, all the more devastating for doing so in measured tones. The associated comment thread is well worth reading also.
“Might is right”. For heaven’s sake.
I have pretty much ignored the Weiner Dong flap as I am not much fussed about how the man gets laid. Whether he is true to his wife, a kinky netizen or as much a womanizer as some of my musician friends of old does not much matter to me. His political stands would be equally obnoxious to me whether he be Saint Weiner or an alley cat guitarist. However, I could not pass up this brilliant little bit of poetic license from the always humorous Iowahawk which Taylor Dinerman pointed out to me.
`My name is Weinermandius, Dong of Dongs:
Look on my junk, ye mighty, and despair!’
As oft saith Glenn Reynolds, “Read the whole thing.”
I have been following this minor scandal via Instapundit. This to make clear that I am engaged in the study of American political culture, rather than wallowing in trivial scandal like wot you might of thought.
There are two things I don’t understand.
In this video (excellent snark by Real Clear Politics: they have chosen the perfect excerpt to present without comment), the question and answer go thus:
WOLF BLITZER, CNN: “Have you ever taken a picture like this of yourself?”
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D-NY): “I can tell you this, that there are — I have photographs. I don’t know what photographs are out there in the world of me. I don’t know what have been manipulated and doctored and we’re going to try to find out what happened. But the most important reason I want to find out what happened is to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. Obviously somebody got access to my account. That’s bad. They sent a picture that makes fun of the name Weiner. I get it. Touche.”
The first thing I will briefly pretend not to understand while actually understanding perfectly, as do you, is why he does not simply answer “No”.
The second thing I truly don’t understand is why he does not simply answer “Yes”.
Times have changed. It is traditional to say at this juncture, “I am not a prude, but…” . I am a prude and proud of it. I wish times had not changed (for one thing, a whole branch of humour is being rendered obsolete now that there is no need for coded language), but changed they have. Emailing pictures of one’s wedding tackle to persons of the opposite sex really is not that unusual. Sixth formers and bored secretaries get into trouble for it every week. Fumble-fingers hitting the “Send” button with the wrong email address in the little box – or the wrong group of addresses – really is not that unusual either.
My advice in this situation has to be “man up”.
So, Ken Clarke hamfistedly but correctly says there are degrees of seriousness in rape and the law reflects this – and causes great outrage. Not just from the avowedly feminist Guardian either. The Sun says he’s a danger to women, no less.
Interestingly, both the the Guardian’s and the Sun’s commenters seem to take a more nuanced view than their respective papers. As they should. Clarke was attempting to make a valid distinction. Sure, he messed it up, particularly when he appeared to confuse date rape and statutory rape, but of course there are degrees of seriousness in rape as in any other crime. To say that is not to say that any form of rape is trivial. Whoopi Goldberg’s much derided comment that Roman Polanksi was not guilty of “rape rape” was not outrageous because she attempted to distinguish between statutory and actual rape, but because Polanski had committed rape rape.
It distresses me that so many of those who seek to help to rape victims seem to act all the time as if they were a politician on the radio. By this I mean that they have always ready in their heads one idea, one sound bite, that they must express. Nothing must detract from that message; no ifs, no buts, no side issues. I agree entirely with the One Idea in this case: all rape is serious. But when one sees what trouble a real politician on the radio got into for merely touching upon the reasons for a sliding scale of sentences one also sees why most politicians try so hard to stick with the pre-prepared One Idea. Meanwhile Lara Williams in the Guardian (linked to above), a woman whose real-life experience of helping rape victims would lead one to hope that her views were rooted in observation, comes out with the sort of mindlessly simplified slogans that have given politicians a bad name:
Through distinguishing “serious” and “less serious” rape, Clarke assumed a perverse gradient of suffering, a warped taxonomy of perceived victimisation.
No one actually believes that. If called upon in court to state what impact a particular rape had had on a particular victim, I have no doubt that this writer would recoil in horror from saying, “Oh, the usual. All rapes have the same impact. All rapes are equally bad.” Yet that is the logical implication of what she has written. She is not the only such commenter. It is sad to see obviously intelligent and compassionate people with so little faith in the public that they make themselves believe that the only way to put forward a true idea – all rape is bad – is to coarsen it into falsehood.
There was a time when the cry of liberals everywhere was that the State should keep out of the bedroom – no longer.
Andrew Brown of the Guardian has written an article entitled Why the Cornish hotel ruling should worry conservative Christians.
I think it should worry any person who in any aspect of his or her life is a minority or who might one day be part of a minority.
A law you like is passed; it coerces those you dislike. You rejoice, you “liberals”. But the wheel turns. You do not have to die old in order to live long enough to see what was once persecuted tolerated and what was once tolerated persecuted.