May all your Christmases be stereotypes

Why Santa’s reindeer must be female.

Santa Claus may be white or not, according to taste, prejudice or marketing strategy. But here’s bad news for Megyn Kelly. The exploited reindeer that have drawn Santa’s sleigh through the busy Christmas night are necessarily reinhind, that is if they have proper antlers.
From an unnamed correspondent of Victor Mair at Language Log:

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, while both male and female deer grow antlers in the summer each year, male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November to mid-December.

Female reindeer retain their antlers until after they give birth in the spring. Therefore, according to EVERY historical rendition depicting Santa’s reindeer, EVERY single one of them, from Rudolph to Blitzen, had to be a girl.

We should have known … ONLY women would be able to drag a fat man in a red velvet suit all around the world in one night and not get lost!

Small-town heartland values

Maryville, MO, in the middle of farm country about 50 miles north of St. Joseph, is acting out a collective schweinerei that deserves national attention. With the apparent approval of their community leaders, this upstanding bunch of curdled Babbitts have served up all the teenage girls in town as sexual toys, like a box of candy, to louts who entertain the good people playing football. Young men who amuse themselves raping girls can expect no more than a hiccup on the path to greener pastures in college, happy lives, and the warm embrace of their neighbors. If the girls (or their parents and families) have some other idea, they are liable to vigilante vengeance. Community values, and like that; the nail that sticks up gets driven away and its house burned to the ground.

Nice place, Maryville. Nice folks, with solid values: if we didn’t have a winning football team, we might have a whole generation of young men with bad character!  Shirley Jackson, would that thou werst living at this hour.

Normal Barbies

An artist makes a normal Barbie.

A footnote to Lowry Heussler´s post on anorexic fashion models. The Daily Mail of all places has a little gallery of images from an experiment by graphic artist Nikolay Lamm. He made a Barbie with the observed average proportions of 19-year old (presumably American) girls:

To me – and I have no reason to think my tastes in the matter are outliers – the normal Barbie is considerably more attractive. Would you, straight male reader, prefer the anorexic official Barbie, with her stringy arms and thighs, giraffe neck, and reproductively dangerous pelvis?

That doesn´t matter, unlike the possible effect on the younger girls who play with Barbies.

Lamm asks a very good question:

People argue that a toy can’t do any harm.
However, if we criticise skinny models, we should at least be open to the possibility that Barbie may negatively influence young girls as well.
Furthermore, a realistically proportioned Barbie actually looks pretty good in the pictures I produced.
So, if there’s even a small chance of Barbie in its present form negatively influencing girls, and if Barbie looks good as an average sized woman in America. What’s stopping Mattel from making one?

Poverty, Meet Cash Transfers

In my guise as The Nonprofiteer, I suggest that the solution to poverty might be money.

dorothea lange depression era photographs 13

Alert the media.  No, really.

Senior Voters as Women

Women’s issues may be an increasingly important factor in determining which politicians appeal to senior citizens

My maternal grandmother was the pluperfect Pittsburgh Republican. She believed in God (quietly), small government, thrift, self-sufficiency and Mellon Bank, where she worked for 35 years. If further GOP cred were needed, she had it from her cousin being Senator John Heinz. But then J. Danforth Quayle came unbidden into her political life.

When Quayle asserted that a pregnant little girl who was raped by her father should not be allowed to have an abortion, my grandmother didn’t exactly “go apes**t”, because the strongest curse word that gentle and dignified woman ever uttered was “pshaw”. But the incident had a profound effect, leading her to turn her back on George H.W. Bush even though he nearly perfectly mirrored her political views. President Bush had chosen “that horrible man” to be the vice-president of her country and that was not in her eyes forgivable.

My grandmother would not have used the term but she was a feminist of her generation, believing that there should be no infringements on women’s decisions about career, marriage, divorce, sex and childbearing. Such sentiments only become more prevalent in subsequent generations of American women.

I suspect that changes in attitudes among and about women are not being weighed sufficiently in analyses of senior citizens’ voting patterns, which tend to lump all seniors together, for example by assuming that the elderly’s only political interests are Social Security and Medicare. Senior citizens comprise a higher proportion of women than any other age group, and female senior citizens vote at higher rates than any other demographic group. It therefore seems plausible that as feminist attitudes have become broadly accepted among older women (even if they do not call themselves feminists) this may introduce new dynamics into voting patterns among the elderly, particularly as a number of male politicians seem to have a hard time shutting up about “legitimate rape”, divinely intended pregnancy from rape and mandatory vaginal ultrasounds.

Untier of Knots?

A prediction that Pope Francis will move on clerical celibacy.

Wonkette points to Pope Francis breaking a tradition by washing the feet of two young women prisoners in the nice Maundy Thursday rite he shares (in a bowdlerised dry form) with Queen Elizabeth II. Wonkette doesn’t draw any conclusions, but I think it’s another straw in the wind.

Line up the other data points.

  • The young Jorge Bergoglio had an major adolescent crush on a girl, Amalia Damonte, now 76. Later as a seminarian he fell for another girl seen at a dance. He seems to have sublimated desire on the positive route of troubadour idealisation rather than the more typical fearful misogyny.
  • He is close to the Orthodox and the Eastern Catholic churches that sprung from them. He had a formative friendship with a saintly Ukrainian Catholic priest, Stefan Czmil, and speaks Ukrainian. These traditions – including those in communion with Rome – allow married parish clergy, but not bishops. (The term “Uniate” is no longer PC: you learn something every day from Wikipedia.)
  • His statement as cardinal on clerical celibacy was a defence of the current Catholic line, couched in notably lukewarm and conditional language:

    For the moment, I am in favor of maintaining celibacy, with all its pros and cons, because we have ten centuries of good experiences rather than failures. What happens is that the scandals have an immediate impact. Tradition has weight and validity

    Francis clearly doesn’t find the idea of priestly sex icky.

  • He is a Jesuit, skilled in threading doctrinal and practical needles, and a devotee of a rather sweet cult of Mary Untier of Knots. The founding image is a second-rate piece of German baroque:
    But the idea is from the estimable and first rate anti-Gnostic Church Father St Irenaeus of Lyons, whose theodicy is still the best Christian product on the market. It’s a comparatively sunny and optimistic approach to human dilemmas, and suggests a Yankee can-do spirit in the new Pope.

I’ll bet that this papacy will see movement on clerical celibacy, perhaps involving supervision of married priests by Eastern Catholic bishops, or an expanded married diaconate. The Virgin Mary has her deknotting work cut out though.

[Easter morning update]
The new Pope’s Easter homily is another straw in the wind. H/t and text from TPM. It’s impeccably orthodox and conventional doctrinally. But choosing to emphasise that according to Luke the first witnesses to the Resurrection were women?

A Sobering View of Valentine’s Day

It being Valentine’s Day today, I suppose it’s as good a time as any to think about healthy and unhealthy relationships. In that vein, I give a brief overview below the fold of some recent developments in European domestic violence perpetrator rehabilitation.

Continue reading “A Sobering View of Valentine’s Day”

Shooting the Messenger: Brent Musburger

Apparently Brent Musburger is in all kinds of hot water because of comments he made during last night’s BCS championship game.  When I read that it involved remarks about the Crimson Tide quarterback’s girlfriend, I really braced for something awful.

The subject was not Alabama’s 42-14 victory, but comments made during the game by the ESPN play-by-play announcer Brent Musburger regarding the girlfriend of Alabama quarterback A J McCarron. In the first quarter, ESPN showed McCarron’s girlfriend, Katherine Webb, who was sitting near his parents. Musburger called the 23-year-old Webb, a former Miss Alabama, a “lovely lady” and “beautiful,” and said to his broadcast partner, Kirk Herbstreit, a former quarterback at Ohio State, “You quarterbacks get all the good-looking women.”

“A J’s doing some things right,” Herbstreit replied. Musburger, 73, then said, “If you’re a youngster in Alabama, start getting the football out and throw it around the backyard with Pop.”

That’s it?  He says that a former Miss Alabama is a beautiful woman, that quarterbacks always get the girl, and that that is an incentive to be a football player?  I could understand an outcry if, say, the girlfriend was a Rhodes Scholar or a theoretical physicist or even a law student.  But she’s a former Miss Friggin’ Alabama.

That’s part of the culture of college football and of beauty pageants.  Jocks get the girl.  The pretty ones are Miss Whatever. Guys do what they can to date Miss Whatever.

And because of that, you might well say, “That’s right.  It’s the culture.  And that culture sucks and is demeaning to women and emphasizes idiotic masculine tropes.”  Fair enough.  I basically agree: I think pageants are dumb, and I am coming around to Mike O’Hare’s view that football is, too.

But it seems a little silly to me to blame Musburger for this.  Yes, I know: he’s reinforcing the culture yadda yadda yadda.  But don’t attack the messenger for a bigger — and really, a more important, and more controversial, and more radical point.  People aren’t attacking Musburger for going “over the line,” even if they say they are.  They are taking on college football.  They are taking a massive entertainment and financial juggernaut.  And they should.  But go after the big boys, so to speak.  Musburger is well-paid for what he does and obviously can take care of himself.  But he’s a cog in this stuff.  ESPN has apologized for Musburger’s comments and has said that he “went too far”, but why in the world was Webb on the screen to begin with?  ESPN like all networks is avoiding its own complicity in what is going on here.

Should we boycott Discover Cards for sponsoring the game?  Or FedEx for sponsoring the stadium?  Or all the other sponsors, and the NCAA itself?  Maybe we should.  But then focus on them.  Getting outraged at Musburger seems to me to be sort of cheap and safe way to avoid really making the critique that ought to be made.

UPDATE:  I don’t know why the comments have been disabled for this post, but am trying to fix it.

UPDATE UPDATE: Comments now back on.  Fire away.