#ShePersisted: Mitch McConnell silences Elizabeth Warren, but not the guys

Mitch McConnell “red-carded” Elizabeth Warren for reading from Coretta Scott King’s 1986 letter about Jeff Sessions’ unfitness for a judicial nomination. A short while later, two male senators read from it, too, and that was just absolutely totally fine and dandy with ol’ Mitch. Senator Mark Udall read the whole letter, and Senator Jeff Merkley read excerpts.

Note that this parliamentary maneuver was extremely rare, a very odd move, and with it Warren was stripped of the right to speak about Jeff Sessions at all.

Possible explanations:

  1. Mitch McConnell is one of those men who is so infuriated and threatened by the existence of smart women that he can’t think straight and just lashes out like a wounded squirrel. Any smart woman can tell you about these men, especially women smart enough to be Harvard professors. These women prove that the myths about white male supremacy are just bad jokes, not anything white men can rely on to get through life.
  2. McConnell wants to help Warren win the presidency in 2020, or at least win again her senate seat in 2018, by making her a martyr and civil rights hero in one act of bullying. (Seems unlikely.)
  3. McConnell thought he was preventing Warren from looking like a hero by reading the letter publicly, but is too stupid to realize Warren would immediately get on Facebook Live with her fans to read the letter and call Rachel Maddow, and the press would then report it even more widely than if she’d read it on the Senate floor, because of all the drama and sexism.
  4. The GOP is especially terrified of Warren. Maybe they’ve already done opposition research on her and couldn’t find anything. (Without opposition research on Clinton, they’d have had nothing to give sexist uneducated white males an excuse to vote against Hillary other than, “Ugh, she’s a woman.”)

Of course, more than one of these could be true. McConnell could be threatened by smart women and too stupid to realize he was making Warren a martyr. I can’t help but wonder about #4. But if they thought they were hurting her cause, they weren’t.

Men without college express territorial sexism months after voting Trump

Bustle just reported that a poll found that half of Americans feel the law should require women to take their husband’s names after getting married to them. But it gets worse.

What’s more, researcher Emily Shafer made even more startling discoveries than this during the course of her study. The most common reason participants gave for believing that a woman should change her last name is that she should prioritize her marriage and family ahead of herself. In particular, men with less education say this is a must and believe that a woman who does not take her husband’s last name is not as committed to their marriage. These same men also said that the husband would be more justified in filing for divorce if the wife works too much, by the way.

Now, “men with less education” is one of the groups that pushed Trump over to victory:

These results are every bit as striking: Clinton lost ground relative to Obama in 47 of the 50 counties — she did an average of 11 percentage points worse, in fact. These are really the places that won Donald Trump the presidency, especially given that a fair number of them are in swing states such as Ohio and North Carolina.

And this overlap between uneducated males who voted for Trump and uneducated males who think their wives need to take their names or, I dunno, go to jail isn’t the first hint we’ve had that America’s sexism is why it chose Trump over a woman:

Specifically, the researchers conclude that racism and sexism explain most of Trump’s enormous electoral advantage with non-college-educated white Americans, the group that arguably gave Trump the election… For sexism, they evaluated someone’s hostile sexism — which, through several questions, gauges hostile attitudes toward women.

And then there’s the pre-election prediction which proved true. Hostility toward women is one of the strongest predictors of Trump support:

While it might not seem surprising now that Trump has galvanized sexists, their findings suggest that sexism played a much bigger role in his rise than most people realized or wanted to imagine.

Hostile sexism correlates with ideas like women don’t have any real problems, they’re just hypersensitive, can’t take a joke, and want special favors. And, of course, that feminists seek to topple the Great White Man from his natural position of “God-given” rule over all the other inferior humans He created for unknown reasons.

Now: tell me again how sexism played little to no role in last year’s election. Tell me again how we’re in a post-sexist society and feminism isn’t necessary. Tell me again how I’m being unnecessarily negative toward men. Tell me again how I’m the problem.

What the Protestors Hope to Achieve

As huge protests continue around the US, daily since the election was called, some people are angry. Some say they are sore losers. Some insist, inexplicably, that these are the very people who didn’t vote and are now upset. Some snark that the protestors should go find jobs or something better to do. Those people are not worth my digital ink.

For those of you who just don’t quite understand, but would like to:

What the protestors are hoping to accomplish

  • The one flaw of democracy is that sometimes a majority wants something that will harm a minority. See also: slavery. Protest is one way for a minority to create public awareness about their plight. That’s why the framers were careful to enshrine the right to public assembly and people speaking their minds.
  • Protests show just how many people care passionately enough to assemble, march and shout all day about an issue.
  • Politics is not a team sport, and it’s not “game over” after the election is done. You can participate in democracy in many ways other than voting, and this is one of them.
  • Protesters find like-minded people and network so that later on, they can do even more effective work to ensure they will not be left out, or worse.
  • Demonstrations show the entire world that not all of its most powerful nation backs policies of racism, misogyny, hate, and foreign policy that’s strikingly similar to Putin’s.
  • Per Sunless Nick in comments, they also “serve as a reminder that it’s Clinton, not Trump, who won the popular vote.” She got 2.8 million more votes.
  • Per Craig Johnson in comments, protests also remind people that they are not alone. That we don’t need to be so afraid.
  • Protests look a little like ground troops on the move, just without the guns. This reminds the powers that be that we have fought wars over civil rights before, and no one wants things to get that far again.

What American White Men Just Admitted to the World

The next time somebody interrupts your legitimate complaints about a man to chide you, “Now, now, not all men are that way”, you can remind them that in 2016, 63% of white American men told us they are.

In order to vote for Trump, there are a couple of things you have to believe. At a bare minimum, you have to choose not to believe the women who said Trump did indeed sexually assault them. Including the particularly credibly People reporter Natasha Stoynoff, who is backed by a couple of co-workers from her magazine who say she told them about it at the time. You just have to ignore that, and convince yourself she is a liar.

But what about the 53% of white women who voted for Trump, you may wonder? Same thing. I’ve said all my life that most white women are anti-feminist, or at least not willing to get behind other women when there’s a man involved. All my life, I’ve been told that’s anti-feminist of me to say. Get a clue, people. A lot of white women like the world just the way it is, and I’m not going to try to psychoanalyze them. It doesn’t matter.

Going forward, you might reconsider the advice I’ve been handing out forever that progressive types don’t like to hear. It’s time to identify your enemies, establish a border, and don’t let them wag one finger past it. You don’t have to be as hateful about it as they are. But it’s time to stop thinking you can peacefully persuade these people to see the world differently. They don’t want to. Just forget about them.

It’s time to come together, those of us who want a different, better world. Leave everybody else in the dust.

And for goodness’ sake, stop telling women ,”Not all men are that way.” They just told us most of them are. And they are free at any point in the future to let us know they have changed.

Barb from Stranger Things, we hardly knew ye

This post contains spoilers about Barb from Stranger Things. You have been warned. If you wonder why a character who got about 6 minutes of screen time has generated so much buzz on the internet, read on.


Relating to Barb

Finally, here was a true geeky girl in a TV show, and that’s a rare thing. Barb wasn’t the usual TV smart girl who also happens to look like a Victoria’s Secret model. She was a true geek who, on a conventional scale of beauty, rated as somewhere around average. Like Penelope Garcia on Criminal Minds, Barb wasn’t going to take off her glasses and suddenly turn out to be the cutest girl in school. She was smart and sensible, and an extremely loyal friend to Nancy.

The unceremonious ending

Unfortunately, the answer turned out to be “nowhere.” Suddenly, Barb got taken by the monster. I thought at first maybe she’d still be alive like Will, and she’d end up helping somehow. Alas, no. She was just dead.

Worse than that, she was hardly missed. When she didn’t show up at school the next day, her mother cheerfully told Nancy not to worry. It’s not clear that anyone ever filed a missing persons report. I actually thought this might be a plot point, because Barb didn’t fit any of the stereotypes of a kid likely to disappear on a party binge for a few days and then wander back home. Had her mother given her a reason to run away? Was there something bad happening at home?

No. Apparently, it’s just that Barb died and nobody noticed. Thanks a lot for that meta-message, Duffer brothers (the writers). I know we geeky girls with average looks are invisible to lots of guys, but you might be surprised to know many of us actually have parents who love us. Who would notice if we went missing. Who would call the police and struggle to convince them we have not just wandered off of our own accord. And here’s a real shock, guys: many of us even survive childhood and marry very happily. I know, right?

To be fair, there are hints that Nancy cared. Maybe the writers overestimated how clear they were being on that point. The problem is that Nancy was way too busy with all this weirdness to show us how the loss of Barb was impacting her. Barb’s disappearance consistently stayed on the backburner.

Too little, too late

Barb’s car is found at a bus station, and that’s taken as confirmation that she ran away – but more importantly, it’s confirmation that conspiring forces are trying to hide something. No one seems particularly concerned about Barb. No one thinks this is out of character. Parents have been known to spend years trying to find a runaway child, even if without suspecting foul play. But not this case. Not for Barb.

I tried to imagine what the writers were thinking- what they may have imagined they were putting across. The Duffer brothers made a number of “80s nostalgia” mistakes (The Smiths, appear in a mix tape made a year before their debut album hit the US, for example). Just watching the show, I knew they were too young to actually recall the 80s, and I was right – they were born in 1984. Perhaps they imagine the 80s as a time when all parents were so not-helicoptery that they didn’t care if their kids caught a bus to parts unknown. But the reality was: free range parenting meant trusting your kid to go somewhere and come back safely on their own. It did not mean kids disappeared and parents thought, “Hmm, wonder what’s on TV?”

Eventually, we learn that Barb has been dead ever since the night of the party, shortly after we first met her. This gets some brief sadness in response, but nothing like we saw at Will’s funeral. If her family grieved, or there was a funeral, we never heard about it. And that’s not too much to ask – just a brief cutaway to a funeral and crying parents to let us know somebody cared that this promising young woman had died.