More on Harvey Weinstein

Commenter Stephen K responds well to my previous post on Harvey Weinstein:

Contra our host’s idea that this will be big, I think it will blow over. Nothing will happen. None of Weinstein’s (former) fans and enablers will change their views (at most they will go a bit quiet for a while, until they can change the subject). Hollywood will use this as the opportunity to bravely make films about sexual abuse in which they bravely depict conservative/ traditionalist men as abusers. These films will be highly praised as topical and (of course) brave. It is a matter of days, if not hours, before someone writes an article explaining that “the Weinstein scandal is all the more reason why we must redouble our resistance to the misogynistic regime of Trump” which will get retweeted a million times. We have seen it all before.

I agree with this of course, mainly because it is already happening. Today Newsweek asks:

Who hates women most? Pence, Trump, or Weinstein?

And there was some woman on the BBC this morning whose take on the whole thing was that misogyny is everywhere and needs to be rooted out, presumably to the benefit of women like her who, if her remarks were any guide, would be out of her intellectual depth sweeping floors in the local chippy.

As Stephen says, we’ve been here before, and sleaze in Hollywood is nothing new. There is a reason why actresses are the butt of crude jokes involving bishops and seen as one rung above prostitutes, and why no self-respecting father would let his young daughter anywhere near a film studio let alone the hotel room of a fat, greasy producer. You’ll note that books are filled with stories of women who ran away from home to seek fame and fortune in Hollywood, and didn’t let their parents know where they were going.

However, back then actresses were not pretending to be the conscience of the nation as they now are. Had an actress in a previous era attempted the sort of self-righteous posturing Meryl Streep engaged in at the last Oscars, the laughter of the men in the room would have been heard around the world. Actors like DiCaprio would have fared no better, either. One of the things Friends got spot on was portraying Joey Tribbiani as actors are: nice looking, good at speaking words someone else has written, but otherwise rather dim. The Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! made the same point as well.

But actors and actresses spouting political nonsense wouldn’t matter so much had the Democrats not wholeheartedly embraced them and taken their vacuous endorsements seriously. At times it looked as though Democrats with ambitions of high office were taking their leads from air-headed celebrities, seemingly star-struck in their company.

But even that wouldn’t matter so much had the Democrats not made women’s rights, sexual assaults, and misogyny a central issue on which to attack their political enemies. But they have, and now any criticism coming from liberals on the subject can be countered by simply saying “Here’s a pic of you and Weinstein, and you knew full well what he was like.” Sure, they will say that Trump and Pence and everyone else are just as bad, but all that does is put them on the same footing and liberals can’t fight from there. Without a moral high-ground to posture from, liberals can barely muster an argument.

Following Trump’s win, the Democrats have lurched even further towards the loony-left end of the political spectrum, with centrists (assuming there are any left) ceding the floor to nutters like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. Worse, Hillary simply won’t shut up and go away and nor will Obama, making it impossible for anyone sensible to rally the handful of sane Democrats left and mount a challenge for the 2020 election. Although it’s tempting to believe that all female Democrat voters are deranged lesbians or single women in Brooklyn who own a lot of cats, there are plenty of normal women who vote that way too. I’m sure a good portion of these will be appalled at the hypocrisy and enablement of sexual abuse that is on display here, and won’t be persuaded by the excuses and whataboutism pouring forth from those compromised. These women will have been put off voting for Trump because he’s a sexist pig, and that portion who don’t put politics above absolutely everything else will be pretty unhappy that their own party is behaving the same way or worse.

What the Democrats need is a proper house-cleaning that gets rid of the Clintons once and for all, puts the Obama era behind them and drags the party back into the realm of electability leaving Warren and her ilk ranting harmlessly from the sidelines. That means tackling some of the issues that drove people to vote for Trump – jobs, immigration, terrorism – but also getting shot of the lunatics that stop these issues being talked about. The Democrats will always need the media but they can be tempered; they don’t need batshit insane Hollywood celebrities with failed marriages, bad tattoos, and cocaine habits.

On this blog it was Bardon (who else?) who asked:

I think the question is why now, and why was it the NYT that took down this Godfather at the top of the power structure?

My guess would be that a faction in the Democrat party looking to move it towards the centre has decided to use Weinstein’s abuse of women to strip the Clinton and Obama factions of credibility, clearing the way for them to take charge. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the NYT has played their role, having been approached by this new faction well in advance of the interview that started the ball rolling. Let’s see if they run any articles calling for “reforms” or “pages to be turned” and “new eras to be embraced” by the Democrat party in the coming weeks and months.

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On Harvey Weinstein

I have a feeling that this Harvey Weinstein story is going to be huge. It’s not that he was a sleazy Hollywood producer with a well-worn casting casting couch; that sort of stuff has been going on for ages. Nor is it that lots of people around him knew it was going on but covered it up; that too has been going on for ages. It’s more to do with who covered it up.

Since as far back as I can remember, Hollywood in general, and particularly famous actors and actresses, have been fully supportive of liberal, progressive politics and openly hostile to Republicans and conservatism. They worshipped at the feet of Barack Obama and went into meltdown over the election of Donald Trump. They have portrayed themselves as the moral arbiters of the nation, leading the way into a progressive new world by adopting every trendy cause going: Leonardo DiCaprio on global warming, Mark Ruffalo on fracking, Shia LeBeouf on anti-Trump, God knows how many actresses turning up in support of Planned Parenthood and other feminist-driven organisations. This culminated with Meryl Streep’s excruciating Oscar speech in which she positioned Hollywood celebrities like her as the shining beacons of hope in a country which would otherwise be nothing but ignorant white men watching football.

The Democrats, of course, have welcomed this unquestioning support for years, happy to hob-nob with Hollywood stars at swanky parties in New York and LA and receive millions in campaign donations along the way. Hollywood, Democrats, and liberal politics have become so intertwined it is almost impossible to separate the two. Also entangled in the whole lot is the media, which is largely the publicity arm of the Democratic party, and hence also firmly in bed with the Hollywood moguls. When Trump ran for president, everyone on the left – Democrats, the media, and Hollywood stars – lined up to condemn his misogyny and ill-treatment of women when the Access Hollywood tape (several years old) was mysteriously leaked at a crucial point in his campaign. This triggered the feminist-driven anti-Trump movement which after his election organised huge protest marches in support of women’s rights which they claimed were being eradicated under an administration which wasn’t even a week old. Several prominent Hollywood celebrities spoke at these highly-political marches, more attended, and the media gave them fawning coverage.

Now it appears that these same people have not only been close friends with a serial sexual predator, but they have been actively covering up his activities for years. The dyke was breached when Ashley Judd spoke to the New York Times about Weinstein’s behaviour towards her early in her career. Ironically, Judd subjected the masses to an unhinged political rant at the Washington Women’s March last January; one wonders why she chose to attack Trump – who she’s probably never met – than lodge a complaint about the man who actually abused her. I’ll get to the answer later.

Since then, the floodgates have opened. Several more prominent actresses have come forward with tales of abuse at the hands of Weinstein and with it dozens of pictures of actors, celebrities, and Democrat politicians cosying up to him while showering him with accolades. This would be less damaging were everyone in the dark as to what he was up to, but evidence is pouring in that his demands for sexual favours from young women was Hollywood’s worst kept secret. It was so widely known that Seth MacFarlane even joked about it at the 2013 Oscars, and everyone laughed.

It’s hardly surprising that few of these young women came forward to report him, and tempting though it is to point out that Judd only went to the papers once her career was over and her money earned, it is unfair. Yesterday an audio recording emerged of an encounter between actress/model Ambra Gutierrez and Weinstein. The conversation was recorded as part of an NYPD sting operation into Weinstein’s behaviour, and Gutierrez – who had been groped by Weinstein the day before – made the recording on their behalf. Weinstein admits on tape to inappropriate behaviour the day before, but the New York District Attorney – one Cyrus Vance Jr – decided to quash the case. If police recordings weren’t enough to bring about meaningful intervention into Weinstein’s behaviour, the mere word of a young woman wasn’t going to. As a measure of Weinstein’s clout, I read an anecdote on Twitter last week regarding an incident that took place at a very public event in New York. Some reporter had upset Weinstein and he grabbed him around the neck and basically threw him down some steps. Despite the dozens of photographers and cameramen around, not a single shot of the incident was published: nobody would dare.

Of course, covering up is one thing, actively defending the guy another. According to today’s Independent:

It’s been alleged by The Wrap founder Sharon Waxman that she investigated the accusations of sexual misconduct against Weinstein 13 years ago while reporting for The New York Times in 2004.

She claims this piece was cut from the paper due to both The Weinstein Company’s presence as an advertiser and alleged meddling by major Hollywood players including Matt Damon and Russell Crowe.

We also have this report from the New York Times which really doesn’t make Brad Pitt look too good after his then-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow was propositioned by Weinstein:

She refused his advances, she said, and confided in Brad Pitt, her boyfriend at the time. Mr. Pitt confronted Mr. Weinstein, and soon after, the producer warned her not to tell anyone else about his come-on. “I thought he was going to fire me,” she said.

So Pitt knew about Weinstein since the time of this incident, which would have been around 1994, and said nothing. However, skeptics might point out that Paltrow wasn’t so traumatised that she couldn’t work with Weinstein afterwards in her defining role in Shakespeare in Love. Also in the NYT piece comes news that Weinstein also made unwanted advances on Angelina Jolie.

Okay, here’s the thing: I can understand why a young, unknown actress might not speak up about Weinstein, but Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow? Why are they only coming public with it now? Jolie has been one of the most powerful people in Hollywood for years, and Paltrow has been famous enough to brush off Weinstein for at least as long. Why did they not speak up sooner? And while we’re on the subject, why  haven’t these right-on Hollywood men responded to the Guardian‘s request for a comment:

The Guardian contacted more than 20 male actors and directors who have worked with the movie mogul over the years, some of whom have projects with Weinstein. All declined to comment or did not respond to inquiries about the accusations that the producer sexually harassed women over a period of nearly three decades.

The list of industry figures thus far remaining silent includes a number of male directors, such as the Oscar-nominated Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, the Hateful Eight) and David O Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter, Flirting With Disaster), who have both made numerous movies with Weinstein.

The liberal film-maker Michael Moore, currently working with Weinstein on a documentary about Donald Trump, also did not respond to a request for comment.

Here’s why. Firstly, nobody gives a shit about one another in these circles. Actors and actresses by nature are narcissistic, selfish assholes and would happily stab one another in the back to get ahead. Ditto Democrats and most of the media. That vicious, vindictive, nastiness that is ever-present among public figures who champion liberal politics – particularly celebrities – doesn’t simply disappear once they’re around friends. They don’t have any friends, just people they can use for now. I see Weinstein’s wife has just decided to leave him, as if she had no idea what he was like before. The directors of his company have fired him only because the public found out about his behaviour, not because they did. Paltrow and Jolie and all the other long-term, highly-protected A-listers are speaking out because as of this week it became the smart thing to do reputation and career-wise. Before that, they were happy to stay silent as women were abused and propositioned just as they had been when younger. So much for female solidarity.

The second reason is politics. For all the talk about Republican and right-wing misogyny, nine times out of ten any public figure caught abusing women in America will be a Democrat or one of their chief supporters. The notable exception is Donald Trump, but sharp-eyed observers will point out that he was a big pal of the Democrats throughout the entire period any bad behaviour was alleged to have taken place (and I wrote about his supposedly excusing sexual assault here). Only once he turned Republican did his misogyny become an issue. One thing this unfolding story about Weinstein will prove once and for all is that Democrats, liberals and their media lackeys will ignore, accept, and defend all manner of disgusting, sexually-abusive behaviour from men provided their politics conform with theirs. We could mention Roman Polanski, or Antony Weiner, or Bill Clinton; provided they are on the liberal, Democrat side of politics, anything is acceptable. But if you’re a Republican and you say you wouldn’t have dinner alone with a woman who wasn’t your wife, the liberal establishment goes into hysterics about misogyny and marches in protest, accusing you of “attacking women”.

I don’t know why Judd finally broke ranks and spoke to the NYT, but now the cat is out of the bag even his politics can’t save him (although some are trying, and others are rapidly backtracking). The liberal mouthpieces have now smelled blood in the water, a chance to take down an old, white guy, polish their third-wave feminist credentials, and push the narrative than women everywhere are subject daily to horrific sexual exploitation by male bosses. Presumably they think nobody will notice they covered it up for years purely because he helped their careers and espoused the right politics.

Commenter Phil B asked me yesterday why I continued to fisk the nonsense that Laurie Penny writes, and this is my answer. In yesterday’s post I commented on how she is happy to remain friends with somebody with a history of sexually assaulting women because she approves of his politics. In the post the day before I recalled how she allowed her rapist to get close to her because “he was a fun-loving, left-leaning chap who was friends with a number of strong, feminist women” she admired. Yet Laurie has decided that it is ordinary, decent, conservative men that are the problem – just as Hollywood celebrities, Democrats, and liberals say it is.

This Harvey Weinstein story is not just about Hollywood, it goes to the very heart of left-liberal politics from the top to the very bottom, and you can be sure he’s not the only one behaving like this. Other names will come out in due course, all with a similar history. This is why I think it will be too big to shove under the carpet.

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The Company One Keeps

Oh, happy days! Laurie Penny has given us over four-thousand words on the subject of consent:

The first thing you need to understand about consent is that consent is not, strictly speaking, a thing. Not in the same way that teleportation isn’t a thing. Consent is not a thing because it is not an item, nor a possession. Consent is not an object you can hold in your hand.

I think our award-winning journalist has discovered the abstract noun. Either that, or she’s being paid by the word.

I believe that a great many men and boys don’t understand this.

I believe this says more about the sort of men and boys Laurie associates with than anything else. And right on cue:

So, I’ve got this friend with a shady past. He’s a clever and conscientious person who grew up in the patriarchy, and he knows that he’s done things which may not have been criminal but have hurt people, and by people he means women. My friend has hurt women, and he doesn’t know what to do about that now, and from time to time we talk about it. That’s how it happened that, a few weeks ago, halfway through an effervescent confession in a coffee shop, the following words came out of his mouth: “Technically, I don’t think I’ve raped anyone.”

So Laurie has a friend who goes around hurting women and must resort to technicalities when assuring people he’s not a rapist. Little wonder she thinks men don’t understand consent very well if this fellow is typical of her circle of male friends.

“Technically, I haven’t raped anyone.” What did he mean, technically? My friend went on to describe how, over years of drinking and shagging around before he got sober, he considers it a matter of luck rather than pride that he has never, to his knowledge, committed serious sexual assault.

Sounds like a lovely chap.

The fact is that, like any number of men growing up in the last decade, his concept of consent could have been written in crayon. Sex was something you persuaded women to let you do to them, and if they weren’t passed out, saying no, or actively trying to throw you off, you were probably fine.

Oh, isn’t that neat! Laurie has a friend who behaves like a complete scumbag, and casually assumes all men must be like him.

That technically, of course, is not just something one hears from men.

That could be because most men don’t conduct themselves in the manner of borderline rapists.

You hear that same technically, in a different key, from girls and grown women who don’t want to think of the things that happened to them that way, even though the fact that those things happened to them, with or without their say-so, is the whole problem.

Like when they say “technically” they didn’t have sex because the deed took place on holiday where “it doesn’t count”? I’ve yet to hear a woman use the term “technically” to muddy the waters after a rape or sexual assault on her person.

We learn, just as men do, that our instincts about what we feel and experience are not to be trusted. We learn that our desire is dangerous and so we tamp it down until we no longer recognize the difference between wanting and being wanted. We learn that our sexuality is contemptible and so we crush it; we become alienated from our own bodies.

I have a feeling this “we” is operating in a small pond indeed.

I’ve told myself before that technically, this or that person committed no crime, so technically, I’ve got no reason to feel used like a human spittoon, and technically I did invite him back to my house, so technically, I should have expected nothing less, and technically, there’s no reason to be angry and upset, because really, what is female sexuality but a set of technicalities to be overcome?

I have no doubt whatsoever that Laurie has told herself this, but quite what it has to do with ordinary men and women isn’t clear.

The problem is that technically isn’t good enough.

Something you could have perhaps mentioned to your friend.

“At least I didn’t actively assault anyone” is not a gold standard for sexual morality, and it never was.

You’re preaching to the choir, honey. How about you tell this to the men you hang out with?

Of course, we have to start somewhere, and “try not to rape anyone” is as good a place as any, but it can’t end there. Our standards for decent sexual and social behavior should not be defined purely by what is likely to get us publicly shamed or put in prison, because we are not toddlers, and we can do better.

Says the self-declared polyamorist who believes the traditional family should be destroyed.

This is what consent culture means….It means adjusting our ideas of dating and sexuality beyond the process of prying a grudging “yes” out of another human being.

There’s more projection here than a plank with a hard-on. Laurie simply assumes that everyone’s dating experience is as miserable as hers.

Ideally you want them to say it again, and again, and mean it every time. Not just because it’s hotter that way, although it absolutely is; consent doesn’t have to be sexy to be centrally important.

This may be true, for certain people’s values of “ideally” and “hotter”. Alas, I’m not one of those people.

But because when you get down to it, sexuality should not be about arguing over what you can get away with and still call consensual.

Hands up all sane individuals who think it is?

But there are a great many simple ideas that we are taught not to understand and a great many more that we choose not to understand when our self-image as decent human beings is at stake, and that’s where a lot of men and boys I know are at right now. Bewildered.

Again, Laurie tells us her male friends and acquaintances don’t know what consensual sex is. Where’s she hanging out, San Quentin?

So let’s talk about getting away with it. Let’s talk about what happens in a society where women’s bodies are contested commodities for men to fight over. Let’s talk about rape culture.

Yes let’s. We can start with your pals.

The naming and shaming of rape culture has been one of the most important feminist interventions of recent years, and one of the most controversial and misunderstood.

By shaming she means remaining friends with dodgy men who technically aren’t rapists.

“Rape culture” does not imply a society in which rape is routine, although it remains unconscionably common.

It certainly seems that way in Laurie’s social circles, and now we know why.

Rape culture describes the process whereby rape and sexual assault are normalized and excused, the process whereby women’s sexual agency is continuously denied and women and girls are expected to be afraid of rape and to guard against it, the process whereby men are assumed to have the erotic self-control of a gibbon with a sweetie jar of Viagra, creatures who ought to be applauded for not flinging turds everywhere rather than encouraged to apply critical thinking.

In other words, it’s a cartoonish fiction dreamed up by deranged feminists.

I have never understood why more men aren’t offended by this assumption…

/Facepalm

I sincerely believe that a staggering proportion of straight and bisexual men are working with some ingrained assumptions about sex and sexuality that they have not fully analyzed.

Thank heavens Laurie wouldn’t work with “ingrained assumptions about sex and sexuality” when writing a piece, eh?

I’m sorry, I give up here. There’s another 2,500 words of this and it’s only getting worse. Having skimmed it, she seems to have given her rapey pal a free pass and decided to lecture the rest of us instead. As the latest revelations about Harvey Weinstein show, there’s nothing lefty feminists like more than hanging out with douchebags while condemning all men as violent, sexual predators.

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Passion versus Affectation

Following on from the subject of yesterday’s post on the status of men and its attraction to women, it is common knowledge that many decisions a man makes in life are to increase his status such that he can attract a suitable partner. In short, a man will study so he can get a good job which will bring in a decent salary meaning he can buy a nice house and car, and women will find him attractive. For middle-class westerners, this is pretty much how it works. For other parts of the world, and among other classes or ethnicities, the incentives are very different and hence you get different outcomes. I noticed in Russia that the ease with which young men can get a very pretty girlfriend removes the incentive for a lot of them to behave well. Why make any effort when you’re getting laid anyway?

So while it’s well known that men naturally seek to increase their status and hence their attractiveness to women, what is often missed is that this does not apply beyond certain basics, e.g. getting an education, holding down a job, and not getting too fat. There is a whole industry out there giving lifestyle advice to men who wish to raise their status: wear these clothes, buy this car, start using that product, learn to do this or that. Much of this might work for young men who haven’t quite found their way in life, but as you get older (and you start having proper conversations with women) you realise how superficial much of this is.

For example, I had someone tell me recently that every man should know how to mix at least one cocktail, so he can impress girls when they come over for dinner. Now that’s probably not bad advice – knowing how to mix a cocktail is a handy skill – but it’s going to make absolutely no difference to what a woman thinks of a man (and if it does, she’s probably bad news). Another chap I know took up salsa dancing because he reckoned women like men who can dance. Others learn a song or two on the guitar because they want to serenade women they bring home from clubs.

Have you seen the problem yet? Women are not impressed by a man’s ability to mix a cocktail, or to dance, or to play an instrument (or to cook, or to speak a language) per se, they are attracted to the passion that drove the man to develop those skills to begin with. They look at a dancer and see the passion he has for it, the drive and determination in his body language, and realise how much effort he must have put in to develop such a skill, and they’re attracted to that. Someone who has no passion for dancing but took lessons and learned a few moves in order to attract women is going to look a lot different from a guy who’s doing it for real, and this will be abundantly clear to all those looking on. Similarly, if a fellow has developed an interest in cocktail mixing of his own accord and uses his skills to entertain women, they’ll be more impressed than if he’s learned one or two recipes just to make himself look cool.

Perhaps learning a few superficial tricks is useful for a man in his twenties, especially considering he’s hanging around women without much experience, but men over 30 taking such advice is a bit sad. Does anyone seriously think women will be impressed by a guy going to opera not out of love for the genre, but because he thinks it makes him look sophisticated? Or someone who’s learned to play poker just so he can tell women he plays poker? Because you can be sure she’ll be able to tell the difference. I’ve noticed that if you show a woman a particular skill or interest, the first thing she does is start asking questions, i.e. why, where, how and with whom did you learn it. She asks this because she wants to see the passion behind the skill – the actual skill isn’t particularly relevant at that stage – and if there’s no passion she’ll see straight through you. Genuine passion is extremely hard to fake, particularly for obscure interests such as bluegrass music. And nobody learns the banjo or songs with titles such as “Oh, Dem Golden Slippers” to impress women anyway.

So whenever you read advice along the lines of “real men do X” or “every man should know how to Y” you can safely dismiss it as a shallow affectation aimed at men who think they’ve grown up but haven’t. Real men follow whatever weird passion they have naturally, and women will love them for it.

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Relative Status

Fellow blogger Adam Piggott writes the following on the subject of whether middle-aged men can pick up much younger women:

However, as I have already stated this all depends on whether or not you have made a man of yourself. What does this entail?

– You have kept yourself in excellent shape with a regular strength training regime.

– You are financially successful.

– You have philosophical depth.

The last point means that you are well rounded and knowledgeable. You have interests, hobbies, and worldly pursuits. You dress and carry yourself well. You can hold your drink as well as hold a conversation.

This is true in a superficial sense and undoubtedly applies to much of the world normal people inhabit, but I don’t think it paints the whole picture. What women are seeking in a man is status, and while financial success and the ability to hold a proper conversation are status markers in some (or even most) circles, they are wholly unnecessary in others.

As regular readers will know, I unwittingly got myself tangled up with an artsy-type in the front-end of last year who had moved from Moscow to America when she was 21, and by 23 was married to a man in his forties (primarily to get a residency visa, but she was attracted to him to some degree). I charitably assumed this chap was some alpha-male banker who prowled the swanky bars of Manhattan in a custom-made suit generously buying women drinks from his six or seven figure salary. Turns out he was a polyamorous hippy who drank too much, couldn’t keep a job for any length of time, and didn’t have two cents to rub together. When I saw his photo I saw a man a head shorter than her and  looking like a taxi driver who works nights.

So what explained her choice? This took me a while to figure out, but I got there in the end. Now this woman had obvious self-esteem and daddy issues she was trying to address, and shortly after arriving in New York she fell into the artsy, Burning Man, hippy scene and adopted it wholesale. This involved a lot of drinking, drugs, and partying with all manner of weirdos and losers, and within this particular group her future husband would have enjoyed a certain status. If nothing else, as a long-term resident of New York with his own place he’d have been able to score drugs more easily than her. The guy who hung around the school gates flogging weed did well with the hot girls too, for the same reasons. The fact that the guy my friend married was by most measures a complete loser didn’t matter because he had a status among his immediate peers and within the group she found herself in. Status is relative, not absolute, and it is this which young women seek in a man.

Of course, this means certain men will deliberately insert themselves in such groups often for the purpose of seeking out those younger women (we’re talking age and availability, not quality here). I have written about this before in response to a Laurie Penny piece:

Why do I get the impression that this individual is not half as normal and decent as Penny is letting us believe. At a guess, I would say he is a slimy fucker of the first water who hangs around lefty circles hoping to get into the knickers of women, usually much younger and with low self-esteem and few morals, throwing out leftist and feminist platitudes to get himself accepted with no further scrutiny. Penny, at nineteen years of age, ought to have stayed well away from him even if she didn’t think he was a rapist.

As Laurie herself says:

He was in his early thirties, a well-liked and well-respected member of a social circle of which I am no longer a part,  a fun-loving, left-leaning chap who was friends with a number of strong, feminist women I admired.  I was nineteen. I admired him too.

Like I said, status is relative. Adam’s criteria are probably accurate if you’re a normal chap seeking a level-headed, sensible woman but there are plenty of other types out there – on both sides.

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California’s HIV Laws

I think by now everyone knows Californians are batshit insane, but this still surprised me:

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Friday that lowers from a felony to a misdemeanor the crime of knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV without disclosing the infection.

“Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals,” Wiener said in a statement. “HIV should be treated like all other serious infectious diseases, and that’s what SB 239 does.”

Supporters of the change said the current law requires an intent to transmit HIV to justify a felony, but others noted cases have been prosecuted where there was no physical contact, so there was an argument intent was lacking.

I think what makes HIV different is that it is one of a very few transmittable diseases which is absolutely incurable and results in the death of the recipient in every instance (yes, the anti-retroviral drugs prolong life almost indefinitely nowadays, but without these death is 100% certain; nobody has so far proved immune or recovered on their own).

HIV has been the only communicable disease for which exposure is a felony under California law. The current law, Wiener argued, may convince people not to be tested for HIV, because without a test they cannot be charged with a felony if they expose a partner to the infection.

This says something about the assumed morality of Californians: they would prefer to infect a partner with a deadly, incurable disease than risk being charged with a felony. And the idea that requiring carriers of this deadly, incurable disease to disclose their condition to partners is “treating them like criminals” is a rather interesting interpretation. Presumably the rights of Californians to not be infected with HIV by irresponsible, immoral partners are subordinate to the feelings of those carrying the disease.

The measure also applies to those who give blood without telling the blood bank that they are HIV-positive.

This is stupid, but probably not as serious as it sounds. I have been told that blood banks screen for HIV in batches, meaning people’s blood is combined and the whole lot tested. If it comes up positive they have to bin the whole batch, which would mean the clean blood mixed up in it is wasted. It’s unlikely HIV-infected blood will get through these days: while false positives are common in HIV testing, I understand false negatives are unheard of. Still, that this law is necessary shows there are people out there willing to give blood while knowingly infected with HIV who have a problem disclosing it.

California, eh?

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Middle-Class Snobbery

Rob makes the following remark in the comments at Tim Worstall’s:

It is the classic upper middle-class disdain and snobbery for everyone else.

A couple of years back I realised that this middle-class snobbery is what drives so much social and political campaigning these days. Probably the best example is the campaign to reduce sugar in people’s diets – for their own good, of course. It is always fizzy drinks and sugary snacks that get cited, never fancy desserts. This is because it’s the plebs who eat the former, whereas the working classes don’t order profiteroles in metropolitan eateries nor buy Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks. Rarely is disdain for the lower-classes more stark than a multi-millionaire mascot of Sainsbury’s criticising children’s pack lunches and school meals for being unhealthy and causing obesity, while flogging pricey recipe books which cause Tate & Lyle’s share price to shoot up with every release.

The middle-classes seeking to restrict or outlaw food which the lower-classes enjoy is merely a variation of the vicar’s wife lecturing the poor on good housekeeping. But at least the vicar’s wife probably did keep her own house in order. Can the same be said for today’s modern food-puritans? Well, they’ll be sure to tell you that little Tarquin only eats organic apples and Mummy makes sure he gets only ethically-sourced kumquat juice, but I bet in reality the little shit is the one who chooses what he eats, when, and how much. So sure, the lower-classes might sit around a bucket of KFC but the mothers are unlikely to have nightly debates with their toddler who is “a fussy eater” and hence “simply won’t eat” bread unless it has Nutella on, and I doubt you see brats throwing tantrums in the aisles of Iceland over what’s for dinner like you do in Waitrose.

I’d be a lot more forgiving of middle-class snobbery if they showed some self-awareness once in a while.

(Just for Theo: sure, not all the middle-classes are food-puritans; but all the snobbish food-puritans are middle-class, and they’re driven by class-snobbery.)

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Trigger Warnings in Books

Via someone I follow on Twitter who is quite possibly mentally ill comes trigger-warnings in books:

I’m not sure what a reader is supposed to do here. Do they simply skip the chapters in question, in which case they are either missing something important or the chapters shouldn’t have been included in the first place? Or do they line up a row of multi-coloured prescription pills and brace for impact as the offending chapter nears? Perhaps they’d be better off reading something else altogether.

And 40 chapters in a book that size? Actually, I’ve checked Amazon and it’s 43 chapters in a book with 312 pages. A new chapter every 7 pages. Not surprising it comes with a warning.

My own book, which is currently with an agent who will hopefully point me towards a decent editor, will not come with any such warnings. Although I am quite certain it will piss a lot of people off, particularly women with sympathetic leanings towards deranged, third-wave feminism. As one author I know responded to criticism of his book:

“Oh, I don’t care if you liked it, hell I don’t even care if you read it. I just wanted you to buy it!”

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The NRA Responds

From the BBC:

The National Rifle Association has called for “additional regulations” on bump-stocks, a rapid fire device used by the Las Vegas massacre gunman.

The group said: “Devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”

Republicans have said they would consider banning the tool, despite years of resisting any gun control.

Lawmakers plan to hold hearings and consider a bill to outlaw the device.

The NRA called on Thursday for regulators to “immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law”.

This is odd. Before the echoes of the shots had ceased ringing around the buildings that line the Las Vegas strip, reputable newspapers and reporters were confidently telling us the NRA would vociferously oppose any attempts to change existing gun legislation. Could it be they were talking shite?

The NRA’s strategy for responding to the Las Vegas mass-shooting is now coming into focus.

By recommending that an executive branch agency conduct a review of the legality of bump stock devices, the extremely influential gun rights lobby is seeking to direct efforts towards administrative, not legislative, solutions.

This is BBC speak for: the NRA is actually responding in a calm, mature, and responsible manner that we didn’t expect, so we now need to resort to semantics to downplay it as much as possible to avoid us looking foolish.

If Congress were to start drafting new laws, the process may be more difficult for the NRA to control.

The NRA has called for additional regulations. Apparently these are wildly different from new laws.

Democrats, who have been clamouring for the opportunity to debate new gun-control laws, could have their chance. Republican congressional leadership may try to clamp down on the proceedings, but there’s a chance other proposals -like limits on magazine capacity, military-style rifle features and new background check requirements – could come up for consideration.

Ah, so the NRA wants to regulate or ban the precise equipment used in the shootings, whereas the Democrats simply want to use the incident to ram through firearm restrictions which are wholly unrelated. Is that it?

These types of provisions are popular with the public at large but vigorously opposed by the NRA and their supporters in Congress.

As if the NRA is ten guys in a dingy backroom instead of a body representing 5 million members of that same public at large.

The White House and many congressional Republicans are pledging to have a “conversation” about the issue and “look into” the details. That, for the moment, is a far cry from action.

The NRA is now suggesting an alternative route.

There appears to be at least one adult in the room, and it isn’t the media.

In the same statement the NRA urged Congress to pass their longstanding pet proposal to expand gun rights nationwide, so-called right-to-carry reciprocity.

The lobby group wants gun-owners with concealed-carry permits from one state to be allowed to take their weapons into any other US state, even if it has stricter firearms limits.

I presume the gay lobby is fully supportive of this proposal? This is the argument they used prior to the SCOTUS ruling to get states where gay marriage was illegal to recognise their marriage from permissive states.

A bill to ban bump-stocks was submitted to the US Senate on Wednesday by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein.

I bet she’d never even heard the term before Monday, and I’d bet even more she couldn’t competently describe what one is or how it works at the time she submitted the bill.

One of the most popular manufacturers of bump-stocks, Slide Fire, said they had sold out “due to extreme high demands” since the Las Vegas shooting.

And that’s the problem in a nutshell. A running joke during the Obama years was that his portrait adorned the walls of gun shops beneath the words “Salesman of the Year”, meaning his continual threats to enforce stricter gun controls caused millions of Americans to go and buy more guns and especially ammunition. I read an account the other day of guys complaining they couldn’t buy their standard few dozen rounds of ammunition because all the stores had been cleaned out by people stockpiling. America is awash with guns and ammunition, and now it appears bump stocks also. These things are not biodegradable, and confiscating them will be nigh-on impossible. And even if these devices were all destroyed, somebody would come up with a legal work-around within days. That might be why the NRA is happy to see them regulated or banned: it won’t make any difference to its members.

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Jimmy Kimmel’s Crocodile Tears

A day or two after the massacre in Las Vegas, American talk show host Jimmy Kimmel went on stage with a passionate plea to “do something”. Political commentator Ben Shapiro took issue with this, and made a video dissecting Kimmel’s words. Below is Shapiro’s video which includes clips of Kimmel speaking. I’m not going to ask anyone to watch the whole thing unless they’re really interested, but please look at it between 1:10 and 2:30.

Shapiro says he believes Kimmel is sincere, but I think he’s being rather generous: to me it looks like bad acting, hamming it up for the camera.

Since I’ve been living in Paris there have been two gun-massacres: Charlie Hebdo and the Bataclan Theatre. Both were shocking and induced a numb, almost surreal atmosphere in the place but neither reduced me to tears. Now Kimmel was raised in Las Vegas since the age of nine, but still, I don’t think news of a shooting in Pembroke would have me blubbering in the office. Now if Kimmel lost close friends and acquaintances in the attacks, I would understand. I’d also understand if he was there at the time: the trauma of being involved in these things can reduce ordinary people to a gibbering wreck. Now perhaps Kimmel listened to or read the accounts of the survivors just before walking on stage: they can be both harrowing and heartbreaking, even decades after an event, but even then I doubt they’d make him cry in the middle of doing his job.

That’s not to say men don’t get emotional. I lost my best friend last year and talking about him still brings me out in tears, that’s just the way it is. And I occasionally find myself choking up at a particularly moving scene from a film or book: the writers of the Toy Story sequels had an exceptional talent for this. A scene where Woody’s horse is told he can’t go with his master is emotional manipulation on a scale that ought to banned outright. My point is not that men don’t get emotional, it’s that men don’t get all teary over the murder of people they don’t know and didn’t witness. Women might, but then women cry over damned near anything. Men, when faced with news of a terrorist attack or mass murder, get angry not upset. They want to go out and exact a terrible revenge, not weep in public. Kimmel has gone on stage without deciding whether he wants to be upset or angry which suggests he’s neither, he just wants to score political points and virtue-signal.

Earlier this year Kimmel’s newborn son received life-saving medical treatment, which he used as the basis of his opposition to the Trump administration’s healthcare reforms:

During his opening monologue on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Monday, host Jimmy Kimmel cried openly.

His eyes welled up first, as he described the recent birth of his weeks-old son. And then Kimmel struggled to speak, as he recounted how, within hours of Billy’s birth, a nurse noticed that he was purple and whisked him away for observation.

“Now more doctors and nurses and equipment come in, and it’s a terrifying thing,” Kimmel said, the emotion obvious in his voice. “My wife is back in the recovery room, she has no idea what’s going on, and I’m standing in a room full of worried-looking people—kind of like right now.” The team discovered Billy had a congenital heart defect. He was rushed into emergency surgery.

Now it is perfectly normal for a man to get emotional and cry when talking about the near-death of his newborn son. Whether it is appropriate to do so on national television in order to make a political point is less certain. I’d say no, frankly. That sort of stuff should be kept private unless specifically related to the subject at hand, and especially not wielded as a political club.

I reckon after the episode about his son, Kimmel thought it made him look better – more “passionate”, “vulnerable”, and “human” – and so he’s decided to make it his shtick. Now it might be popular among women and the legions of rather wet men that inhabit the modern west, but most men ought to be retching over the back of the sofa at this performance. I wanted to slap his silly face and tell him to pull himself together. Men don’t cry over this sort of thing, and if they do – well, God help us.

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