Pop Goes The Political Culture Week of April 30
By Rebekah Kuschmider, MPU Co-Host
We here at MPU are hard at work analyzing the serious news of the week. With all the research we’re doing on based on the happenings in the (shoddy) defense of Donald Trump by his various attorneys, we are all basically qualified to practice law in our various states. In fact, we might be more qualified than Rudy Giuliani who seems to have forgotten the part of client defense where you don’t confess to your client’s misdeeds on tv.
Meanwhile, there are a zillion other things happening in the news that won’t make it on to the podcast. Here’s some of the news that’s not fit to ‘cast!
Scouts, Not Boys: Conservative Twitter is is quite outraged that the Boy Scouts are dropping the word “boy” from their program name starting next year. This name change follows on the heels of a decision in 2017 to allow girls to join Scouts. The organization name will remain unchanged, as will the name Cub Scouts. But the signature program for middle and high school kids will be called Scouts BSA. I’m sure everyone will just shorten that to Scouts…the same way many of us currently involved in scouting talk about the organization now. I’ve had a kid in a Cub Scout troop for several years and I’m not sure I ever use the words “cub” or “boy” when I talk about it. I also only say the word scout when I talk about the Daisy Girl Scout Troop I lead. So this branding change won’t affect me.
But for people who make their living generating outrage on Twitter, this is tantamount to a Handmaid’s Tale situation for boys, wherein they will be oppressed by the loss of the moniker Boy Scout and they are suggesting that full gender based subjugation is clearly the most logical and likely outcome. Just look at what Twitter shock jock Matt Walsh has to say about it.
I won't let my son anywhere near the "Scouts." I want him to grow into a man, not a whimpering, pathetic, effeminate weakling, which is all the Scouts organization embodies at this point. What a disgrace and an embarrassment.
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) May 2, 2018
I hope he and his son find refuge in an extracurricular activity free of whimpering and femininity.
As for my family, my son will continue on his Scouting path and my daughter and I will continue on ours. I think there are a lot of good reasons to allow girls into the entity-formerly-known-as-Boy-Scouts. I especially see boys benefitting from interacting with girls who have been given leadership positions in Scout activities. I will welcome girls into our pack with open arms and plenty of snacks for long hikes. However, for reasons best kept to myself, I have decided that is not the best path for me and my daughter. She needs something different and Girl Scouts is the place for her.
Different families, different choices. ‘Murica.
Patriarchy, Locked and Loaded: The laziest joke in the world is the one where a dad threatens his daughter’s date with a gun so he won’t do anything untoward while they’re out. Because teen boys are SO HORNY HA HA HA! And teen girls are SO SUSCEPTIBLE TO PRESSURE HA HA HA! No teenagers have ANY SELF CONTROL OR AGENCY OVER THEIR ACTIONS HA HA HA. So dads need to RESORT TO THREATS AND VIOLENCE TO CONTROL THEM HA HA HA.
A Georgia gubernatorial candidate is taking that to an illogical conclusion in a new ad where he answers questions about his political platform from his daughter’s boyfriend. He holds a shotgun the whole time and ends the ad by pointing it at the teen and saying something about respecting his daughter and the second amendment. Ostensibly, this ad shows that the candidate stands for family values and Second Amendment rights and he has a great sense of humor because see how he turned it all into standard joke about over protective dads? HA HA HA VIOLENCE AND PATRIARCHY ARE FUNNY!
I see it as a man who stands for controlling women by force. He uses threats of violence to establish his dominion over the body of a woman in his household. He withholds his permission for other men to assert a claim over her body. He demonstrates that he has no trust in the motives of men and he doesn’t acknowledge the autonomy of women.
Is that the kind of guy you would want as a governor? I wouldn’t.
Speaking of patriarchy: While we’re on the subject, we should turn our attention to New York Times columnist Ross Douthat who is very, very concerned about the plight of “incels”. As you might recall, the incel community rocketed to fame last month when one of its members used a van to plow down a bunch of pedestrians in Toronto. This was revenge for not being able to sleep with women as hot as the women as he wanted to sleep with.
I’m not joking. There are entire online communities dedicated to being mad about hot girls choosing to have sex with someone else. For more on incels, read this very good but very disturbing piece by Talia Lavin in the Village Voice.
After these events, Ross Douthat took to his keyboard to ponder how changing sexual norms have left some people lonely and depressed. This would be an interesting topic for an academic discussion about the effects of isolation on the human psyche but Douthat decided to make it about the redistribution of sex and suggest methods for making sure the poor incels can get some nookie. He talks about a lot of stuff but basically lands on sex robots as the solution for these guys because sex is so stinking important and they really must have it.
I am 44 years old and my whole life I have listened to conservative culture warriors tell me the circumstances under which I am allowed to have sex. The overwhelming message from the right side of aisle is that I, and other women, need to wait until marriage and, ideally, forgo birth control because sex is meant to make babies. No other reason. Women have been told over and over again to accept a celibate life if those conditions are not met. Women have been shamed every which way for rejecting those conditions and having sex for their own pleasure.
That was the conservative line and they were sticking to it, sexual revolution or no sexual revolution. Until now, apparently.
Now there are guys – white guys, even – who can’t get laid and Ross Douthat is all “THIS INJUSTICE CANNOT STAND! SEX ROBOTS FOR EVERYONE!”
The subtext of all of this is that a certain segment of the male population has seen a centuries-old privilege go down the toilet and they don’t know how to cope. For much of Western history, men were basically issued a wife, with whom they could have all the sex they wanted. Maybe they didn’t get a choice of wife, if this was an arranged marriage situation, or maybe their choices were limited by class structure or the bride price they could afford, but they got a wife and they got sex.
Women did not get these choices. Women were chattel, handed off from father to husband and told to have the sex their husband wanted them to have.
In the modern era of reliable birth control and financial independence for women, the balance has tipped. Both men and women have other choices now and sex ideally happens by mutual consent. That means that it is possible that you will go through points in life where no one will consent to have sex with you. That sucks when it happens but it’s better than returning to a social structure wherein 50% of the population’s consent was effectively erased from sexual negotiations. We will not go back.
Yes, there needs to be attention paid to social and sexual isolation in the modern era but it needs to be a holistic study that deals with all the different kinds of isolation we face. It cannot be solved by issuing white guys sex robots. Sorry, Ross. You missed the bigger picture.
— Caspar Salmon (@CasparSalmon) May 3, 2018
God, no: Finally things came to a head in the weird battle between House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Chaplain Patrick R. Conroy.
As we discussed on last week’s More Perfect Union Podcast, the Speaker asked for the Chaplain’s resignation and the Chaplain gave it to him. The whispers behind the scene were that Ryan was mad at Conroy for a prayer he gave prior to the tax bill vote in which he said “May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all.” It was taken as criticism of the bill.
Ryan claimed that was not the case and in fact the firing was due to Father Conroy providing insufficient pastoral care to Members of Congress, something that was news to the Chaplain. He had not received such complains about his performance.
Usually if you screw up at work, your boss talks to you and asks you to fix the issue before firing you. Paul Ryan is evidently not that kind of boss.
In fact, he’s not the Chaplain’s boss at all and doesn’t actually have the authority to fire him as it turns out. The Chaplain is an elected position, voted on by the Members of the House. This is the same way the Speaker is chosen, actually. The Speaker isn’t the Chaplain’s supervisor and he can’t summarily fire the guy just because he wants to.
Father Conroy found this out and rescinded his resignation and said he planned to stay in his role until the end of the year, which would also make the end of the 115th Congress and the end of his elected term.
Remind us all to try telling Paul Ryan no more often. That might be the thing that derails his crusade to cut social safety net programs.
There’s lots more to talk about this week and talk we will on the next More Perfect Union podcast. Look for it to drop next week!