#mencallmethings: "There is just no way you're having sex"

Tweeted by @sbstl_mo in response to a tweet I made yesterday about the birth control debate:

“@GretaChristina ain’t no freakin way you need to take birth control. There is just no way you’re having sex.”


Because when I’m commenting about a question of public policy related to health care, my sexual attractiveness or lack thereof is what renders my ideas relevant or irrelevant.

And, of course, the fact that @sbstl_mo doesn’t find me sexually attractive means nobody else does or ever will.

Oh, and since the question will probably come up: Here’s the tweet this was responding to, which was something I re-tweeted (although for some reason, Twitter isn’t showing who I re-tweeted it from, and now I can’t remember):

“ATTENTION MORONS: YOU are NOT being asked to pay for my birth control … MY INSURANCE COMPANY who I pay TO INSURE ME is being TOLD to do it”

#mencallmethings: "There is just no way you're having sex"

Social Control: Why Heaven is Evil

It’s just now occurring to me, way later than it should have:

Heaven is almost as evil a doctrine as Hell.

I’ve written before on how profoundly screwed-up the doctrine of Hell is. I’ve written about how wildly disproportionate it is to give infinite punishment for finite sins. I’ve written about what a lousy form of punishment it is, since it’s permanent so you don’t have any chance to learn from it, and it’s invisible so others can’t learn from your example. I’ve written about how it makes such a powerfully insidious form of social control: how the threat of infinite, infinitely terrible punishment will make people do just about anything to avoid it.

But a guest post by Christina on the WWJTD? blog is making me realize: Heaven is almost as evil a doctrine as Hell is. Worse, in some ways. And for much the same reasons.

Christina’s post took the form of a short poem, which I’ll just quote here in full since it’s short:

Eternal Reward

Will you walk
down the hall, down the stairs
across the street to fetch me a newspaper
and a soda?
I’ll buy you a soda too.
How about five bucks
to go with your soda.
The reward goes up
you’re more likely
to do what I ask.
It’s a simple exchange.
yet at some point
The reward I offer
is impossible.

When you offer people a reward, they’re more likely to do what you ask them to. And the bigger the reward, the more likely it is that they’ll say Yes. If I really don’t feel like going across the street to get you a soda, I might not do it for five bucks — but I’m more likely to do it for ten. I’ll almost certainly do it for twenty. Damn sure I’ll do it for a hundred.

Of course, the more that’s being asked, the more you have to offer to get people to do it. I’d go across the street and get you a soda for five bucks — but to get me to go clear across town and buy you this special soda that they only have in this one store, you’re going to have to do a lot better than five bucks. If we’re very close friends and you’re having a bad day and this special soda is the one thing that would cheer you up, I might do it out of the goodness of my heart… but in general, offering a bigger reward is how you get people to do bigger and better things for you.

You see where I’m going with this, right? Continue reading “Social Control: Why Heaven is Evil”

Social Control: Why Heaven is Evil

Caturday: The Full-On Assault

I realize I’ve been slacking a bit lately on my cat blogging duties. I told myself that I had good excuses: I’ve been writing a book, getting ready for the Reason Rally, staying caught up on Project Runway All Stars. (Go, Mondo!)

But a few weeks ago, Crommunist threw down the gauntlet. He dared — DARED, I tell you — to bring the hate to cats, cat owners, and people who post about cats on the Internet.

This. Will. Not. Stand.

I have, as I said, been a bit distracted lately, with finishing my book and preparing for the Reason Rally, and other matters that are clearly of lesser import. But now, now that I have a moment to catch my breath, I am taking on this challenge with a full-on assault.

Brace yourself for a barrage of kitten cuteness. Crommunist, prepare to be boarded!

Continue reading “Caturday: The Full-On Assault”

Caturday: The Full-On Assault

Kitteh Bellies!

I’m seriously slammed right now, going over final corrections on Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things that Piss Off the Godless. Don’t have time to write a proper blog post. So instead, I’m giving my readers what I know they most want anyway:


I know. It’s almost nauseating how cute they are. Between Talisker sprawled out on her back, and Comet draping her paw over her sister’s neck, and the ridiculous tangle of back paws and tails at the bottom of the photo? Not to mention the pink jellybean toes? It’s like a freaking Hallmark Card around here. Disgusting. It’s a good thing none of you are here to listen to us talk to them. You’d go into a diabetic coma.

Kitteh Bellies!

Rush Limbaugh, Free Speech, and How Gloria Allred is Being a Jerk

You’ve almost certainly heard about the Rush Limbuagh kerfuffle, in which the talk radio personality spent several days excoriating law student Sandra Fluke for testifying on Capitol Hill about employer-paid health insurance and contraception, and called her (among many, many other things) a “slut” and a “prostitute.” You may not yet have head that the well-known feminist lawyer Gloria Allred has requested that Limbaugh be prosecuted — for violating an obscure Florida statute, stating that anyone who “speaks of and concerning any woman, married or unmarried, falsely and maliciously imputing to her a want of chastity” is guilty of a first degree misdemeanor.

My response to Allred: You have got to be fucking kidding me.

This is a bad idea from just about every angle I look at it. It’s a bad idea legally. It’s a bad idea politically/ pragmatically. It’s a bad idea from a feminist perspective. It’s a bad idea from a sexual politics perspective. And it’s a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea morally.

It’s a bad idea legally because it’s a gross violation of the First Amendment. If it doesn’t get smacked down like a bad, bad dog by every court it encounters, I will be very surprised indeed.

It’s a bad idea politically/ pragmatically because it will be seen by the right, and by opponents of feminism, as a hypocritical attempt to silence free speech simply because someone doesn’t like the content. Hell, I see it that way. And I’m a left-wing feminist.

It’s a bad idea from a feminist perspective because it furthers the notion that, in the rough-and-tumble of the marketplace of ideas, women are shrinking violets who can dish it out but can’t take it.

It’s a bad idea from a sexual politics perspective because it furthers the notion that calling a woman’s chastity called into question is an especially terrible crime, worthy of its own statute. And that is bullshit on sixteen different levels. The very fact that this statute makes it a crime specifically to impugne a woman’s chastity, and says nothing of a man’s chastity, should have been a red flag to Allred. She should be campaigning against this statute’s very existence. The idea of a feminist lawyer calling for this law to be enforced makes my skin crawl.

And it’s a bad idea morally because we don’t silence free speech simply because we don’t like its content. Period. As I wrote in my defense of the recent Supreme Court decision about Fred Phelps: The First Amendment, and the right to the free expression of political ideas, is one of most crucial cornerstones of our democracy. We should not be looking for loopholes in it. Our default assumption should always, always, always be that speech should be free, unless there is a tremendously compelling reason to limit it.

If Sandra Fluke genuinely thinks that her reputation and character were defamed by Rush Limbaugh, she should sue him for libel. (I think it’s unlikely that she’d win — she made herself into a public figure when she testified before Congress, and the libels laws about public figures are looser than they are about private citizens — but IANAL, and I don’t know enough about libel laws to say for sure.) But the fact that this law about impugning a woman’s chastity is still on the books? It’s a joke at best and a travesty at worst. And it is beneath Allred, or anyone who genuinely cares about law and the guiding principles behind it, to attempt to use it just to hurt someone we don’t like.

Explaining her call for Limbaugh’s prosecution on this “impugning a woman’s chastity” statute, Allred said: “He needs to face the consequences of his conduct in every way that is meaningful.” I agree. But this is not meaningful. This is meaningless. This is laughable. This is absurd on every level. It is beneath us.

Rush Limbaugh, Free Speech, and How Gloria Allred is Being a Jerk

Comment Policy – An Update

I have just made some updates to my comment policy. Please take note of the following additions.


1: Be respectful of other commenters in this blog. No personal insults; no namecalling; no flame wars.

In comment threads in this blog, I encourage lively dissension and debate. I do not, however, accept personal insults aimed at other commenters. I am fine with vigorous and even snarky critiques of ideas and behavior — but when that crosses the line into personal insults, I stop being fine. “That’s a stupid idea” is okay (I’d personally prefer it if you worded it differently, and if your critiques of ideas consistently takes that tone I might ask you to dial it back, but just by itself it won’t get you banned). “You’re stupid” is not okay.

UPDATE: Actually — I’m going to amend this. I’d personally MUCH prefer it if you don’t use personally insulting rhetoric aimed at ideas. I’m not going to absolutely rule it out — yet — but I’m going to VERY STRONGLY request that you not do it. If someone is being infuriating, please take the high road. Be the bigger person. Find the pleasures of skillfully disemboweling someone with icy politeness. And do not play the “But they said it first!” game. Do not assume that, because someone else was insulting first, therefore it’s okay for you to be insulting back. Do not escalate things. Dial things back.

UPDATE: 9: Do not behave atrociously in other blogs. If you are barely walking the line of acceptable behavior in this blog — but you have a pattern of foul, demeaning, sexist/ racist/ etc., insulting, violently threatening, or otherwise reprehensible behavior in other blogs — you will be banned from this one, with no second chance, and no warning.

UPDATE: 10. Don’t be an asshole. If you are barely walking the line of acceptable behavior in this blog, but you are consistently being unpleasant, nasty, snide, sarcastic, nitpicky, assuming the worst possible intentions, or otherwise just generally being an asshole — towards other commenters, or towards me — you will be banned from this blog. If I’m feeling generous, I’ll give you a warning first — but I make no promises in that regard. If the entire tone of a conversation is going south, and it’s clear to me that you’re the one making it go south, you’re gone.


Please respect my comment policy, and my right to have one. Thank you.

Comment Policy – An Update

Fashion Friday: Brightly Colored and Patterned Tights

I used to love brightly colored and patterned tights. I had a drawer full of them: pink and purple and bright blue, with planets and stars or blue skies and clouds or psychedelic op-art patterns. Putting them on made me feel happy and exuberant and full of life. I especially loved them because I was fat, and I was self-conscious about a lot of my body… but I was totally happy with my legs, and loved showing them off and calling attention to them.

Then as I got older, brightly colored and patterned tights started feeling not quite right. In the metaphorical language of fashion and style, brightly colored and patterned tights are very much a youthful statement: they read either as “nine year old girl” or as “quirky, free-spirited young woman.” When I started getting older and started wanting my style to be less kooky and wild, and more elegant and put-together, they didn’t really fit in. It’s one thing to wear hot pink tights, or psychedelic op-art tights, or tights with blue skies and clouds on them, when I was twenty-five. Once I got into my forties, it started seeming… I don’t know. Like I was trying too hard. Like I wasn’t accepting and loving my age, and was trying to look younger than I was.

But this made me sad. I loved brightly colored and patterned tights. They’re playful and cheerful and idiosyncratic — qualities I enjoy, and want to express in my style. Plus they were one of my signatures, a big part of my fashion identity. I was sad to let them go.

And I recently had an epiphany about how to make them work with my current wardrobe and style.

That epiphany: Knee-length skirts and knee-high boots.

If I wear brightly colored or patterned tights with a fairly short skirt and with regular shoes or ankle boots, the tights take up a lot of visual real estate. They become the entire focus of the outfit. “Wow, those are some interesting tights you’ve got there!” But if I wear them with a skirt that comes to just above the knee, and with boots that come to just below the knee… all of a sudden, the tights aren’t the main story. They add just a little splash, a few inches of color and/or pattern, to an otherwise elegant and put-together outfit.

And sometimes, that little splash of color or pattern is just what I need. I have about eighty jillion pairs of black boots that come to my knee or just below the knee (I wear knee-high boots a lot). I have about eighty jillion black or gray skirts that come to just above the knee. It’s a good look for me. But it can be a bit of a boring look. Especially if I’ve already run through all my colorful and/or patterned tops, and they’re all in the wash. If I wear a black or gray skirt and a black or gray top and black boots — and I have a wild splash of blue and purple and green psychedelia just at the knee — it bridges that gap between “kooky free spirit” and “elegantly put-together,” in a way that makes me very happy, and that feels very much like me.

So I want to hear, especially from the other middle-aged folks out there: What are your thoughts on brightly colored and/or patterned tights? And are there other youthful items in your wardrobe that you’ve found creative ways to reclaim, in a way that works with your age?

Fashion Friday: Brightly Colored and Patterned Tights

Iranians in Iran join Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar

From Maryam Namazie’s blog:

Young members of the Worker-communist Party of Iran who live in Iran have joined the scream! Since they would be executed for this act, their faces are covered with slogans saying ‘Long Live Women’s Freedom’, ‘No to Hejab’, ‘No to Islamic Reaction’, and ‘No to Gender Discrimination’. They have printed the calendar and pasted it behind them.

The full-sized photo is at Maryam’s blog.

I am now so humbled and proud to be part of this project, I can’t put it into words. The extremely minor risk I took with being in this calendar pales in comparison to the risk these folks are taking. Knowing that my picture is one of the ones posted up there behind them… I don’t have words.

Iranians in Iran join Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar

What I Learned From the Latest #mencallmethings Discussion

I recently blogged here about an incident in which a publicity poster for one of my speaking events got tagged with graffiti calling me “the ugliest of all atheists!” (Or, to be more accurate, “the ugliest of all athiests!”)

I would have thought that my position on this — “It’s bad to criticize women’s ideas by attacking their personal appearance” — was fairly uncontroversial. And for the most part, it was: most people participating in the discussion, including most men, agreed. But I got more pushback on this position that I expected. And I learned a number of interesting things in that conversation, which I thought I should share. Continue reading “What I Learned From the Latest #mencallmethings Discussion”

What I Learned From the Latest #mencallmethings Discussion

Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar is Here — and I'm In It!

The Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar is here — and I’m in it!

Today – 8 March 2012 International Women’s Day – the Nude Photo Revolutionaries Calendar is being launched in homage to Egyptian atheist, student and blogger Aliaa Magda Elmahdy who posted a nude photo of herself, announcing the post on Twitter under the hashtag, #NudePhotoRevolutionary.

The calendar is the idea of campaigner Maryam Namazie to support Aliaa Magda Elmahdy and join her ‘screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy’.

Namazie says: ‘What with Islamism and the religious right being obsessed with women’s bodies and demanding that we be veiled, bound, and gagged, nudity breaks taboos and is an important form of resistance.’

The calendar is designed by SlutWalk Co-founder Toronto, Sonya JF Barnett who says: ‘I felt that women needed to stand in solidarity with Aliaa. It takes a lot of guts to do what she did, and the backlash is always expected and can quite hurtful. She needed to know that there are others like her, willing to push the envelope to express outrage.’

Others who join the ‘scream’ include mother and daughter Anne Baker and Poppy Wilson St James, teacher Luisa Batista, We are Atheism Founder Amanda Brown, atheist bloggers Greta Christina and Emily Dietle, FEMEN activist Alena Magelat, photographer Mallorie Nasrallah, actress Cleo Powell, freethinker Nina Sankari, writer Saskia Vogel, and Maja Wolna. The women are photographed by Julian Baker, Adam Brown, Grzegorz Brzezicki, Lucy Fox-Bohan, Agnieszka Hodowana, Ben Hopper, N. Maxwell Lander, Mallorie Nasrallah, Mark Neurdenburg, Vitaliy Pavlenko, and Michael Rosen.

The women in the calendar stand firm in solidarity with Aliaa Magda Elmahdy and the countless women across the world who are denied basic rights, freedoms and dignity. You can join the ‘Scream’ on Facebook and on Twitter under the hashtag #NudePhotoRevolutionary.

The calendar is available for purchase, with proceeds going towards supporting women’s rights and free expression. You can also download a PDF.

For more details, visit Maryam Namazie’s blog.

Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar is Here — and I'm In It!