Carbonated Wit

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Policing Appearances

About a month ago, Pat Robertson said a terrible thing, and the internet was like “Whoa, Look What That Jerk Said!”

What he said is basically that it’s women’s fault when their husbands drink or cheat, because the women have gotten ugly and sloppy in their dress.

The Internet is totally right to call this guy out for saying such a terrible thing.

But you know what?

In a lot of places, I see comments about how ugly Robertson is. Check out how ugly he is, who is he to talk? For instance, here, at about 2 minutes in.

Sure, it’s an easy shot. We love hypocrisy, right? But the problem is not that an ugly dude is telling women to be pretty for their husbands (lest their husbands become alcoholics or divorce them). It wouldn’t be okay if a handsome dude was telling women to be pretty for their husbands. The problem is not who’s saying it, the problem is what’s being said.

The thing that is the problem is called “appearance policing” and it is about socially requiring people to look a certain way in order to qualify for certain social benefits, such as basic respect from a spouse. Or an employer, or a shopkeeper, or whoever. Leggings aren’t pants is the same thing (even if I passionately hate the use of leggings as pants).

When we go off and say “Yeah, what a terrible thing to say and what an ugly dude who said it!” we are doing the SAME THING AS ROBERTSON. We are saying that the problem is with what he looks like, not with what he said. We are playing into his hands, agreeing with his basic assertion that a person’s appearance determines what value they should have.

And really, what he looks like is perfectly fine old white guy. There’s nothing wrong with his appearance — not that it matters, it really doesn’t. But it just makes it worse, because the problem isn’t even that he’s some essence of ugly, it’s just that he’s old.

It’s not okay to police the appearance of old guys, calling them ugly for being old, even if they’re assholes. Even if they’re Pat Robertson, professional asshole.

Call him a sexist asshole. Call him wrong. Say how angry you are that this old fucker is going on as if he knows something about you and your marriage and how it’s all your fault that your husband is an abusive alcoholic. That’s all totally legit.

Just leave his looks out of it.

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On Politics

Yay, most of the electoral results today.

I hope against hope that the republican party will examine itself and discover why it is having so much difficulty fielding national candidates. For all that party’s effectiveness at controlling messages and maintaining unification (some of which is certainly the result of bullying and hostage-holding behavior from elements of the party), and the party’s clear willingness to do, well, just about anything to gain and retain power, it still had an anybody-but-Romney primary… and ended up with Romney anyway.

Democrats and independents are picking up votes from moderate republicans who are uncomfortable with the current party’s policies and behaviors. So… Republican powers that be, what will you do about it?

I have clear preferences about the kind of values that should be jettisoned from American political party platforms in the 21st century. I am being nonspecific here, because it ain’t my party; a healthy 21st century Republican party would clearly still be a party I would strongly oppose. I do not believe that the party as it stands is a party interested in the best for America, though; I do not think there is goodwill and commitment to reasonable governance.

My state voted out possibly the last moderate Republican in the Senate. I’m thrilled to have Warren instead of Brown; he ran on a platform of “vote the man not the party” but even a moderate republican these days votes party lines when it matters and everyone knows it.

I hope the republican party shivers itself apart enough that reasonable people can start to take leadership again. I mean, come on. Colin Powell came out for a Democrat. How broken is the GOP when Colin Freaking Powell crossed party lines?

My hard-right republican family members are heartbroken. They are legitimately terrified. They are not bad people, particularly, and their politics have often confused me. But I know their feeling; they are afraid. They feel threatened.
I can’t explain to them that actually this president is pretty damn centrist and hardly a leftwing nutjob. I don’t know if they think he’s passing policies he’s not, or if they think the left is actually what he’s doing, or a combination of both. I happen to think it’s fearmongering and misrepresentation, and I am happy in myself knowing that this president is still probably better for their actual interests than their preference. (arrogant much? Yes, sometimes I am. But none of them are ridiculously rich.)

My parents always said that people got conservative as they got older because they started getting things to conserve. I suspect it’s also about not keeping up with the times, too. But I have gotten more and more lefty, more interested in personal freedom and respect, more interested in life without coercion, and more interested in compassion.

But anyway: Republicans, look to your house, why did you end up with Romney? What can you do about it? Do you like the tea party and fox news?