It gets so much worse than that, Dr. Hampikian.

In a random fit of “What brought that on?”, the New York Times has run an op-ed from Greg Hampikian about how the entire male sex is becoming increasingly irrelevant to human life. Being a professor of both Biology and Criminal Justice, Dr. Hampikian gives us both the physiological:

Then, at some point, your father spent a few minutes close by, but then left. A little while later, you encountered some very odd tiny cells that he had shed. They did not merge with you, or give you any cell membranes or nutrients — just an infinitesimally small packet of DNA, less than one-millionth of your mass.

Over the next nine months, you stole minerals from your mother’s bones and oxygen from her blood, and you received all your nutrition, energy and immune protection from her. By the time you were born your mother had contributed six to eight pounds of your weight. Then as a parting gift, she swathed you in billions of bacteria from her birth canal and groin that continue to protect your skin, digestive system and general health. In contrast, your father’s 3.3 picograms of DNA comes out to less than one pound of male contribution since the beginning of Homo sapiens 107 billion babies ago.

The hand-wringing about infinitesimal mass is a red herring; no matter how tiny in terms of body weight contributed, children nevertheless walk around with approximately 50% of their fathers’ DNA. The irony to that figure is that, since the X chromosome is bigger than the Y, boys actually get fewer genes from their fathers than do girls, but I digress. We might as well be talking about how much my Lion OS weighs down my MacBook.

That said, his point is taken, and his perspective is appreciated, that once the sperm has been procured, all the biological work of making a human being falls on the mother. And since we now have frozen sperm and other ARTs, women don’t really need to deal with men if our goal is to make more of ourselves. This is not exactly a new idea, and yet somehow, most women are still actively heterosexual.

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There is no safety in numbers for women in Cairo.

Via Ophelia Benson, a protest against sexual assault in Cairo turned to shit when a mob of men attacked the marchers. Benson asks,

What is the matter with them? What the hell is their point – that assaulting women is good? That women’s wish not to be assaulted is evil and deserving of punishment in the form of assault?

Yes, I think that about covers it. I think the assaulting men wished to convey the message that women who ask not to be assaulted are evil and will be punished with more assault. We don’t want them thinking they own their lives and get to leave the house whenever they want. Soon they might start thinking they’re actual human beings, or something.


American Nuns > Vatican

I think it’s time for a new schism.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an umbrella organization which involves 80% of U.S. Catholic sisters, is having the hammer brought down on it by the Vatican for not being a pack of bigoted assholes. I wish that were an exaggeration:

The Vatican’s assessment, issued on Wednesday, said that members of the group, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, had challenged church teaching on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood, and promoted “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

Yeah, I’ll bet they say things like, “A mother of four should not be left to die of pregnancy-related causes.”

The sisters were also reprimanded for making public statements that “disagree with or challenge the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals.” During the debate over the health care overhaul in 2010, American bishops came out in opposition to the health plan, but dozens of sisters, many of whom belong to the Leadership Conference, signed a statement supporting it — support that provided crucial cover for the Obama administration in the battle over health care.

Yep. Women who support universal health care need to STFU, while old guys in fancy robes, who would rather let Americans die by the millions of preventable causes than tolerate birth control coverage, are the “authentic teachers of faith and morals.”

“I’m stunned,” said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby founded by sisters. Her group was also cited in the Vatican document, along with the Leadership Conference, for focusing its work too much on poverty and economic injustice, while keeping “silent” on abortion and same-sex marriage.

Oh, yes. Oh fucking yes. The nuns care too much about alleviating poverty, and not enough about demonizing gays or attacking women who think they get to control their reproduction.

Oddly enough, I don’t even recall Jesus saying anything about homosexuality or abortion. This is the guy who hung out with a bunch of single men and a woman of ill-repute. He did, however, have some strong opinions about how we treat the poor.

Sisters, you all are so much cooler than your church. Break away from those ridiculous bigots. Start your own religion: the Church of Actually Giving a Shit About Humanity. All the Catholics who are horrified at the Church for their homophobia, misogyny and support of child-raping priests but who keep making noises about “social justice” and “ritual” will have a better place to give their money and time. The ones who want their religion to be more focused on persecuting gays, letting pregnant women die, and preaching against using condoms to prevent the spread of HIV, can fend for themselves.

You’re better than they are, and they’re not even trying to hide how threatened they are by that. Let those assholes rot.

Wisconsin state Rep. Don Pridemore hates women. Hates ’em.

The background is that a couple of state legislators in Wisconsin are sponsoring a bill that would focus on single parents in educational campaigns about child abuse. It does not, as the headline says, “label single parenthood as child abuse,” but it does take a good idea (public awareness of child abuse) and turn it into an offensive waste of public funds by dragging the communication in a direction that will do nothing to decrease child abuse but quite a lot to increase demonization of single parents.

This is what we’re dealing with:

Section 1. 48.982 (2) (g) 2. of the statutes is amended to read:
48.982 (2) (g) 2. Promote statewide educational and public awareness campaigns and materials for the purpose of developing public awareness of the problems of child abuse and neglect. In promoting those campaigns and materials, the board shall emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.

WTF, Retreat at Twin Lakes?

The “suspicious” person who was shot and killed by the neighborhood watch captain was a 17-year-old boy who had just bought some candy for his younger brother.

Chief Bill Lee of the Sanford Police Department on Thursday evening said the account given by Martin’s family and attorney is correct, that Zimmerman saw the young man walking home from the store. He said that Zimmerman did indeed call 911 and report a suspicious person, and that he was told not to follow him.

“For some reason he felt that Trayvon, the way that he was walking or appeared seemed suspicious to him,” Lee said. “He called this in and at one part of this initial call [the dispatcher] recommends him not to follow Trayvon. A police officer is on the way at that point.”

Lee said that Zimmerman instead followed Martin.

“I believe that Mr. Zimmerman was trying to, by his account, find an address to give the officers and also trying to keep Trayvon in eyesight.”

Zimmerman told the police that Martin noticed that he was being followed and asked, “what’s your problem?”

That’s when a physical confrontation ensued, Lee said. And moments later, Martin was shot.

Lee said that Zimmerman has a legal permit to carry the weapon used in the shooting, and that he told police that he shot Martin in self-defense.

I guess the lesson here is that if you’re an African-American teenager whose father lives in a gated community, do not go to visit your father at his home. If you must visit your father, do not think about leaving the house after dark. You will be considered “suspicious,” you may be followed, and if you argue about being put under this scrutiny, you may be shot. The shooter will continue to be in charge of the neighborhood watch, and he will be allowed to continue carrying a loaded gun. Your presence in the neighborhood will be considered “out of place” and will accordingly be reported.


The bruised and battered elephant in the emergency room.

There is a new study in Pediatrics by Dr. John Leventhal of Yale University on child abuse in the U.S.; it’s not a comprehensive study of all abused children, only the cases that end up requiring hospitalization due to severity of injuries. Cassie Murdoch at Jezebel rounds up coverage of the study, and shares with us that such injuries include, but are not limited to:

For the most part, children arrived with abusive head trauma, fractures, burns, abdominal injuries and bruises. Their hospitalizations cost the U.S. about $73.8 million and lasted almost twice as long compared to children who were hospitalized with other kinds of injuries.

Dr. Leventhal offers us further insight into the context of abuse:

Based on data from the 2006 Kids’ Inpatient Database, the last such numbers available, Leventhal’s team found that six out of every 100,000 children under 18 were hospitalized with injuries ranging from burns to wounds to brain injuries and bone fractures.

The children spent an average of one week in the hospital; 300 of them died.

The rate of abuse was highest among children under one, particularly if they were covered by Medicaid, the government’s health insurance for the poor. One out of every 752 of those infants landed in the hospital due to maltreatment.

“Medicaid is just a marker of poverty, and poverty leads to stress,” said Leventhal, who is the medical director of the Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital Child Abuse Program.

Last year, a study from four U.S. states showed a clear spike in abusive brain injuries following the financial crash in late 2007, a finding researchers chalked up to the added pressure on parents.

In that study, too, toddlers appeared to be at higher risk. That led researchers to suggest the maltreatment might have been triggered by crying.

Brain injuries in children do not spike following a financial crash for no reason. One may conclude from Dr. Leventhal’s data that child abuse is for the most part not a matter of parents being horrible inhuman monsters, but of parents being overwhelmed. What might be done about this?

So Dr. Leventhal proposes we act to stop abuse in the same way we’ve worked to stop SIDS: “We need a national campaign related to child abuse where every parent is reminded that kids can get injured.” Another probably even more effective option would be to send public health workers to do home visits with new parents to offer support and advice, a practice that is already common in a lot of European countries.

I don’t disagree with either of those ideas, but I have something else to suggest.

It makes me really angry to know that there are so many parents who are so unprepared and stressed out that they can’t deal with a crying infant without pummeling the poor baby, and yet we still have to fight so hard for our right to control our fertility. There is something seriously fucked up about a widespread cultural movement that says our nation really needs more babies born to people who aren’t ready for babies but has nothing to offer in how to take better care of the kids we have.

Want to prevent child abuse? There’s no substitute for family planning.

He ran into my knife ten times!

Anna North at Jezebel shares the details of Candice Smith’s frankly fascinating account of the events that led up to her being fired for committing statutory rape on a 14-year-old boy at the group home where she worked.

In Ms. Smith’s own words:

I treated these kids like my own children. Then one of them forced himself on me.

I was thunderstruck at the time. Horrified. How could this broken, hurt child have betrayed all the trust and love I’d given to him? How would I ever be able to tell anyone? Shocked and terrified of losing my job and freedom, I told no one. […] I should have, because it happened again. And again. And again. And again. For three months this child forced himself on me, demanded I bring him cigarettes and alcohol, that I hand over my credit cards (I managed to get him to take money instead). He threatened me constantly, said he would “make me sorry,” “make all my money disappear.” He told me he’d steal my car, told me he thought about how much he wanted to kill me… and I just disappeared.

North continues:

Then, she says, “the kid soured on me — I wouldn’t give a report that another kid had “tried to kill him” because that wasn’t the case — and because I didn’t give this kid his way, he said we’d been having ‘consensual sex.'”

If you just read that and are now thinking her story doesn’t pass the smell test, you’re not alone. You’re in very numerous company.

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Guilty of having a working uterus

The Guardian outlines some of the ways a woman in various parts of America can be charged with murder:

Gibbs became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby’s death – they charged her with the “depraved-heart murder” of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.

She failed to prevent pregnancy while addicted to cocaine and then she failed to quit cocaine while pregnant. Ergo, the stillbirth of her child must be seen not as a tragic, spontaneous physiological event, but as a crime that earns her a life sentence.

Bei Bei Shuai, 34, has spent the past three months in a prison cell in Indianapolis charged with murdering her baby. On 23 December she tried to commit suicide by taking rat poison after her boyfriend abandoned her.

Shuai was rushed to hospital and survived, but she was 33 weeks pregnant and her baby, to whom she gave birth a week after the suicide attempt and whom she called Angel, died after four days. In March Shuai was charged with murder and attempted foeticide and she has been in custody since without the offer of bail.

If you’re pregnant in Indiana, you’d better not have any mental health problems. This is also the state which is now trying its darnedest to defund Planned Parenthood, so really, just try not to have a working uterus in Indiana unless your life is totally stable and baby-ready.

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Racism * (male insecurity + womb control) = Dennis Prager

There is just so, incredibly much stupid here that I can’t even hope to take it all on at once. Truthticker listened to Dennis Prager say this so that we don’t have to:

The welfare state corrupts family life. Even many democrats have acknowledged the horrific consequences of the welfare state on the black community. It has rendered vast numbers of black males unnecessary to black females who have looked to the state to support them and their children (and the more children, the more state support) rather than to their husbands. In effect, these women took the state as their husband. Whereas in the past, women sought out men for financial support, the welfare state enables women to stay single and get support from the government.

It’s like a whole pack of little Stupid goblins are all trying to jump into my brain at once, but they don’t all fit through the door so they’re stuck and I don’t know which one to let in first.

Jesse Taylor at Pandagon has already dealt with at least a couple of the little beasties:

It’s a painful phenomenon, this glut of well-employed men yearning to take care of their children but barred by the overwhelming appeal of several hundred dollars a month in temporary benefits.

So, there’s that. There’s also the little goblin of Welfare Dependency Doesn’t Happen to White Folks (its alter ego is But It’s Different When Black Folks Do It), its snot-nosed little brother They’re Having More Kids to Get More Welfare, their cousin It’s Black Women’s Fault When Black Men Don’t Stick Around, and their Pied Piper of Stupid figure, Everything Would Be Fine If Men Controlled the Family.

While all those little demons fight to be the first one though the door, I’m going to focus on this yearning for the good old days when women sought out men for financial support. Prager seems awfully invested in the idea that women should be financially dependent on men, first and foremost. The idea that maybe some women would like to be able to provide for themselves and their kids on their own power, or that they might like to pursue and develop relationships with men because they love the men as individuals, just doesn’t come into the picture. Either women need men to pay the bills, or we just shun them altogether. Running through all this yearning for the good old days when single mothers and their kids were left to starve, of course, is the assumption that it’s not a valid family unless there’s a man in charge. It all adds up to this idea that “the black community” (because they all march in perfect lockstep) would be so much better off if the government would just let those uppity bitches and their bastard spawn starve.