Archive for the ‘gender’ Category

This isn’t so much a post as it is a short rant.  About – what else? – the 2008 presidential race.

I understand that after the last eight years, we’re all starving for change.  Us Web 2.0 people probably feel that more than most, because we see how fast the world is changing every single day, and we’ve had a chance to experience that and be a part of it ourselves.

I like Obama.  I really do.  I appreciate what he stands for and what he does.

But why, internet folks, is this spilling over into hatred of Hillary Clinton?

Out of the first ten results I get by searching “Clinton” in Facebook Groups, six are ANTI-Clinton groups, including the first three.  The most disgusting of them all is the third, “Hillary Clinton: Stop Running for President and Make Me a Sandwich,” with 33,731 members at this time of posting.  Its description: “Dedicated to keeping Hillary Clinton out of the Oval Office and in the kitchen.”

Do you know how sick I feel when I look at that, as a girl with high aspirations?  What kind of a world can I look forward to when I graduate, where a woman campaigning for the highest office in America is mocked for it and told to get back in her kitchen?

I could shrug it off more easily if it weren’t one of the top three groups to come up when I search her name on Facebook.  The top result, “Stop Hillary Clinton,” has 788,487 members, and gives no reason on the group’s page for hating her.

It’s not just the conservatives that join these kinds of groups.  “Stop Hillary Clinton” claims to be bi-partisan on the front page.  Digg, which is from my experience mostly liberal, has not dugg one pro-Clinton item to the front page in the last month.  I see at least half a dozen anti-Clinton items come in every day, while the top ten list is always filled with praises for Obama.  In the comments on the anti-Clinton items, anyone that makes a positive comment on her behalf is dugg down into the negative hundreds.  Digg, and similar online communities, have such a staunch pro-Obama/anti-Clinton stance that it’s dangerous for your reputation on those sites to dare support or even defend Hillary Clinton.  Most disturbing, misogynistic comments are the norm.

I like Obama, really.  If he became president I couldn’t complain, and if he follows through with what he’s promised it could be an inspiring four – or eight – years.

But the anti-Clinton bent that some of Obama’s supporters have been taking online, especially the misogynistic anti-Clinton bent, and especially on Digg, is frankly disturbing.  Not to mention distressing, to me at least, who has to see good, liberal-minded people taking to bashing a female candidate simply because she’s female, and not Obama.

I feel the same way about Obama as I do about Jesus.  Great guy, good message, but his more extreme followers are freaking me out.  If you support Obama, good for you.  Myself – he’s not my cup of tea.  I have my own reasons for it that I’ve devoted a lot of time and thought to.  If he’s elected and does a great job in office, I’ll be the first to change my mind.

So please support Obama (or McCain) as much as you want, but keep it clean, and not misogynistic.  Digg and Facebook seem to have a problem with that.

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Earlier today, when going through my RSS feeds, I stumbled upon an old post from the mental_floss blogs about bedtime storybooks with strong political agendas. The two main culprits are a couple of books (one from each side, appropriately) titled “Why Mommy is a Democrat” and “Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed!”

Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed!
Clearly there’s a problem here. “Why Mommy is a Democrat” is clearly targeted at the Pre-K crowd; the simplicity of the text (some of which is reproduced here), the characters and art style, and the subject of each page look like they’re intended for very young children.

From what I can gather on the Amazon page of “Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed!”, this one is aimed at older, elementary school readers. The characters are grade school children who open a lemonade stand and have a dream that they live in “Liberaland”, where caricatures of famous Democrats come and take half the profits of their lemonade stand, demand that they take down a picture of Jesus and stop praying, and give away broccoli with every cup of lemonade.

“Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed!” really disturbs me, more than “Why Mommy is a Democrat”, even though the latter is aimed at a much lower (more impressionable?) age group, and not because of my political leaning (goes both ways anyway). The political agenda behind “Why Mommy is a Democrat” is to teach toddlers the good things about Democrats. However, the political agenda behind “Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed!” teaches children to hate liberals. “Why Mommy is a Democrat” doesn’t directly teach the kids to hate the opposition… “Help! Mom!” does. By looking at only the bad aspects of the liberals, it teaches kids intolerance before they know their right from their left – both meanings.

Whether someone is liberal or conservative doesn’t matter – I don’t think anyone should try and indoctrinate their kids from a young age by preaching hatred and intolerance of the opposition.

More upsetting than the existence of these books is the comments left on their Amazon pages. Here are the comments left on the “Help! Mom” book, just because these are more upsetting than the ones on “Why Mommy is a Democrat”. As you can see, they alternate between 5-star and 1-star reviews, with a little more than half praising it as the light in a world gone mad and the other 45% or so claiming it’s propaganda. The comments from the 5-star reviewers scare me: “Need to teach them the difference between conservatives & liberals when they are young!” (yes, from a very heavily biased children’s book)… “It has my five year old asking us questions about liberals which we are more than happy to answer.” (Hate to hear what those “answers” would be.)

Worse yet, read the comments left to 1-star reviews.

A 1-star review said this:

We need wider understanding, cooperation and critical thinking in coming generations if America is not to be torn apart and self-destruct for the most banal and avoidable of behavior patterns. This book is completely counter to such goals and is probably driven as much by a desire to make profit via sensationalism and controversy as it is the desire by adults to further their own selfish, myopic inflexibility at the expense of clean, bright, trusting little minds. Such behavior by adults not only sets a horrible example, it is pathetic and cowardly.”

And a couple of the responses to that particular review:

Liberals are easy to predict. This book teaches children a conservative point of view and this infuriates liberals. They only want your children exposed the ideas of the left wing Marxist agenda. Because liberals can’t debate the facts and their point of view is many times irrational they just call it ‘hate speech’. They say that it is ‘dividing America’ or they refer to it as ‘brainwashing’…”

“Great another Bin Laden supporter in our midst.”

If this was an isolated incident I could understand… but the entire review section of this book’s page on Amazon is littered with the exact same bigotry – on both sides of the spectrum.

Democrats have done stupid things and can believe stupid things. Republicans have also done stupid things and can also believe stupid things. As a society, we really need to move on. It’s an old message that you can hear anywhere, and it won’t make much difference complaining about it here, but it needs to get through somehow.

In my last ‘Weekend Reading’, I linked to an article that I found on Digg: Sick Children, Working Moms. It was about how some working mothers had to send their sick kids to school because staying home to take care of them could mean losing their job. Digg has a very large gender imbalance, so it wasn’t surprising that the consensus among the commenters was that there should always be a dad so the mom can stay home – and that’s not always a bad thing.

Then one woman came on and said this: I’ve had to stay home with my kids many times. Hell, I was out for a week at Christmas because of some awful flu they caught. I actually did end up getting “laid off” a month later. But I got a better job in a much more family friendly company. Do I *have* to work? Not really. We’d get by fine if I stayed at home with the kids. But would I be happy? No. I enjoy my work. Don’t minimize me by telling me it’s my “responsibility” to sit at home with my kids while my husband brings home the proverbial bacon. It’s insulting.”

…To which I one-hundred percent agree. As a female who genuinely enjoys being out in the world and working myself, I would die inside if someone forced me to be a stay at home mom all my life. I have interests far beyond cooking and cleaning, and it is also insulting to me that culturally I shouldn’t have kids and a job at the same time – while my theoretical husband would have to bear no such stigma. Some women may enjoy not having to work; great for them, but I’m not among them. Things are certainly changing, but the replies to the comment above, like the intolerant replies to the reviews of “Help! Mom!”, are very disheartening:

I’m sorry you feel minimized and insulted over the thought of raising your children.”

“Get back in the kitchen where YOU belong and make me a sandwich. Oh, and cut the crust off it while you’re at it. Notice I said YOU, not women, but YOU.” (<- notice the failed attempt to not sound sexist)

“The floors in the kitchen need a good scrubbing, laundry needs to be washed and folded, the vacuum needs to be run, the toilet could use a good cleaning, and dinner needs to be made. *enjoy* your work.”

If the last two are jokes, I don’t think they’re very funny.

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Since I left the last ‘Weekend Reading’ until mid-week, this one has only a few days’ worth of links.  I believe these ones date back to… last Wednesday?  Anyway, enjoy this week’s very short list!

Best of the Week – Religion: Blind Faith (Washington Post)
Some disturbing information about religious literacy in the US here – for the most Christian nation in the world, I find this horrifying.  For instance, cited in the article is that less than half of Americans know that Genesis is the first book of the Bible, that only half can name even one of the Gospels, and a little over 10% think that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.  The title of this article is very fitting – what are all these people following?

Psychology: This is Your Life (and How You Tell It) (New York Times)
How you view and retell memories says a lot about you, and can have substantial impact on your thoughts about them.  Sad and embarrassing memories viewed and recalled in the third person can actually seem less sad and embarrassing, and the people who recall them that way seem to have apparently learned more from them.

Software/Advice: Firefox Keyboard Shortcut to Retrieve Lost Tabs
The BEST Firefox tip I’ve ever heard.  It happens so often to me: I start closing down unused tabs, and accidentally delete one that I really needed.  Pressing Command+Shift+T (Ctrl+Shift+T for us Microsoft slaves) will bring back any tab you just closed.  No more accidentally deleting the wrong tabs!

Gender/Psychology: Girls do badly at math when told boys do better (Reuters)
A study from the University of Chicago shows that when girls are told that their male counterparts are naturally better at math, they start doing badly on tests.  This was also shown to impact achievement in whatever tests or classes they took directly afterwards, and was not limited to just mathematics.

Coffee: Understanding Coffee People
Coffee can be a link category all on its own, who says it can’t?  I found this accidentally through Google hunting for myself (you know you’ve done it).  These are descriptions of a few distinct “coffee types”… the Addict, the Snob, the Teenager (proud to say I’m not one of them in this context), etc.  Which one are you?  (I’m the Addict – I like my coffee bitter, black, and lots of it.)

Nostalgia: 15 (Painfully) Unforgettable Cartoon Theme Songs
Ahhh, pre-Y2K cartoons… how I miss that blurry quality that I thought was so awesome as a kid.  To think there are kids today growing up without classics like the Looney Tunes.  This is a list of 15 memorable cartoon themes (YouTubed and embedded!) from the 80s and 90s.  (Some of these I can just barely remember, and some I didn’t even realize had stopped airing. I miss the 90s… I made a Mister Rogers joke to some kids I know and they just gave me blank looks.  I shouldn’t have to feel that old yet.)

That’s it for this week!

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