Monthly Archives: September 2014

In which I grumpily disagree with everyone on Emma Watson’s UN Speech

For those of you living under a rock, Emma Watson gave a speech to the UN a few days ago to launch the #HeForShe campaign, which is intended to get men to help eliminate sexism:

I mentioned that I’m grumpy (and overworked), right?

This speech has been called a “game changer.”  Sorry, folks, it’s not.  It’s a speech, which is not worth a damn unless it is followed up by action.  Bush’s Ground Zero speech on 9/11 was a game-changer because it was backed up by the greatest military in the history of the world. Emma Watson’s UN speech is as much a “game changer” as was Obama’s speech after the Arizona shooting.  (If you don’t remember what I’m talking about, you’re making my point.  A brief refresher: after Gabby Giffords was shot and Obama made some allegedly amazing speech, people asked if it would change the course of his very Presidency. For about a week, there was wall-to-wall media coverage about how this speech would ‘transform’ his ailing tenure in Washington.  Turns out, it didn’t change his Presidency, because a good Presidency requires so much more than a cute speech.) Watson’s speech belongs in the same category: lovely, inspirational, not gonna change a damn thing.

Moving along to the content of the speech: let’s not conflate the minor issues that Western women face (i.e. small pay gaps, wolf whistles, ageism, etc.) with having some freak chop off your head or cut off your clitoris.  Both sets of issues fall under the umbrella of “sexism,” but only in the same way that failing to recycle a soda can and the Exxon-Valdez oil spill are both “pollution.”

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Lessons Learned the Easy Way

In August of 2010, I made my TV debut on Emily Rooney’s “Greater Boston” show.  About four hours before show time, I was invited on to talk about the Fourteenth Amendment (specifically, repealing birthright citizenship). I read up on the subject for about three and a half hours, got myself into a suit, and went into Brighton.  The show was not aired live, but was taped straight through: Emily asked us (myself, a BC Law professor, and an immigration advocate) questions, we answered, we debated, and then the whole thing went on air at 7 pm.

That, my friends, is the easy way to not look like a complete idiot on TV. Anyone who watched that segment had context for our statements: anything we said was in response to a query or something someone else said. Even if she were so inclined, Emily Rooney couldn’t harass us by asking the same question five ways and then putting the worst answer on the show; no one could cut out the ten logical, articulate answers and leave in the one bumbling reply. What was on the screen in your home was what happened in studio.

Contrast with the Daily Show’s infamously bad treatment of conservatives and Megan McArdle’s commentary on ethical reporting:

There is no ethical reason that a reporter requires the ability to ask you questions without having those questions recorded. The reason they don’t want unedited audio is that you might release it and be revealed as a normal decent person, rather than a horrible fool. [….]

Seriously, don’t go on “The Daily Show.” They control the format, the questions and the editing process. There is no way you can win. Your purpose is to look like an idiot on the show, and they have all the tools they need to make sure you fulfill that purpose.

Like Megan McArdle, I recommend against going on The Daily Show.  But I also recommend against going on any television show that does heavy editing, does not tell you in advance who your co-panelists are, or is otherwise out to screw you.  I’ve been asked tough but fair questions on TV, and I’ve been asked tough and unfair questions. At least it’s all been live or taped and then played straight through.

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In the ongoing cultural war, the Right is full of doves

Recently, I saw a comment to the effect of “Matt Walsh’s blog has millions of readers, and he writes about nothing but culture.”  By “culture,” I don’t mean art and music; he writes about marriage, family, abortion, religion, and the culture wars.  An audience hungry for someone to take a stand against progressivism eats it up.

That is a lesson that even HotAir commenters miss.  In this piece about why #GamerGate matters (hat tip), many conservatives complain that gaming doesn’t matter, people should go outside and have fun, or games weren’t big in the military or whatever. (A word on #GamerGate: I asked the twitter-verse to explain #Gamergate to me in a few tweets.  I received several very polite, rational, thoughtful replies from gamer men.  For a group of angry misogynists, they sure do seem to respect everyone.)

Let me explain something to the Right: in a world wherein a person can buy a week’s worth of groceries for seven hours of minimum-wage work, leisure activities and culture matter in how our society operates. You can squawk all day about how this activity or that activity aren’t important to you and therefore don’t matter, but that will just enable the progressive Left to take over that terrain.

Sarjex on HotAir put it best:

58% of the entire American populace are not nerdboys living in Momma’s basement. The gaming demographic is HUGE. This is the next cultural battle that’s going to be waged and for the most part gamers have done well in roaring back at the Borgishness of leftie political correctness and feminism as victimism.

Can we have our side NOT 3 monkey ourselves and pretend this is cultural turf not worth defending? We ceded Hollywood. We ceded high academia. We ceded public schools. We ceded journalism. The attitude is “Well, turn off your tv, haw haw haw…” “who really needs college, yuk yuk yuk”, “well, who reads newspapers, derp de derp” … and then we gape and look around and wonder what happened to the country.


I don’t even play video games and I recognize this.

Conservatives look at Rotherdam and understand what went wrong, but then look at Gamergate and get all self-righteous about playing outside or getting out of mom’s basement.  Hello, it’s the same type of problem: ceding cultural ground means that people will change your culture in ways you don’t like.  And again, when you can buy a week’s worth of groceries for seven hours of minimum wage work (rather than working seven days a week on a farm to not starve), the culture of leisure activities plays an important role in the culture of our country.

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Jessica Valenti’s self-promoting misogyny

In a victory for women, CBS Sports now has an all-women sports TV show.  In this show, women aren’t talking about hair or nails, nor are they aren’t cute accessories to men talking about sports. They are talking sports with the same knowledge and enthusiasm that men talk sports.  In normal-people land, this is what feminism is all about.

Self-proclaimed feminist, actual misogynist, Jessica Valenti opposes this show. She writes,

“But creating separate spaces for women’s ideas and commentary isn’t equity: it’s table scraps. [….] But until we have the same number of women and people of color creating all media – as commentators, producers, writers, photographers, editors and sources – gender-specific ghettos will be a band-aid, not a solution.”

That’s a little rich coming from a woman whose degrees are in Women’s  and Gender Studies and whose work is almost exclusively in that area. If there were ever a deliberately-created female ghetto, it is that academic discipline. Women in sports commentary is revolutionary; women studying “women’s issues” is old news.

If you actually want equality, get out of Women’s Studies, get out of screaming about the need for taxpayer-funded abortion and boss-funded birth control, study economics or international relations or engineering, comment on sports with the same insight that men do, play some sports, and get out there into traditionally-male spaces. Whining about how it’s not “feminist” to have an all-women’s sports programme is just laughable – and misogynistic.

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