Friday, January 23, 2015

Is Consistency the Hobgoblin of Little Minds? On the Death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

The hobgoblin reference is to Ralph Waldo Emerson.  It's also a reference to Western attitudes, both political and journalistic, to the extreme Wahhabi sect of Islam.  When the Saudi government pushes it on the rest of the world (by funding mosques and by sending preachers to those mosques) there's not much loud criticism.  But when the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) decides to use it as a blueprint to create its own nightmare world there's much loud criticism.

The difference is in oil, my sweetings.  Sadly, this suggests to me that if ISIS ever gets hold of enough oil resources, whatever president the US has then will hold hands with their leaders.

It's true that the late king Abdullah did push for certain minor improvements in the position of women.  But women in Saudi Arabia are still unable to drive themselves, are still subject to the custodianship and rule of their male relatives, and as far as my research has been able to prove anything, the only creative addition* ISIS has introduced to their version of the Wahhabi teachings is the idea of taking slaves (as long as they don't have one of the three Abrahamic religions), selling them to the highest bidder in legal slave auctions and justifying rape of female slaves as just appropriate use of war booty.

The rules about chopping off the hands of thieves, the rules about killing those suspected of homosexual activity and the rules about stoning adulterers**, those are all practiced not only in the Islamic State but also in Saudi Arabia (and a few other countries).

I'm welcoming any reforms that Saudi Arabia can carry out towards greater human rights, of course, just as I feel great urgency about getting rid of the "values" that ISIS is touting.  Any reform is better than none, and I also understand that resistance to reform inside Saudi Arabia is a powerful force and hard to fight.  Still, we cannot remember that half the population there (women) have far fewer rights and much less freedom than the other half.  Neither should we forget that the rulers in the country are not democratically.
*Crucifixion as punishment (or as a way to display a corpse after death) may be another innovation by ISIS
**Women appear to be the victims of stoning more frequently than men, by the way.

Potential Moms and Painkillers! Today's Study Popularization.

If you ovulate you are a potential mom.  Indeed, you can be regarded as one if you are a woman between the ages of fifteen and forty-four!   It doesn't matter one whit if you are not going to become pregnant any time soon (or ever).  You are still a potential mom.

And perhaps you should just take any serious pain you have, without mega-strength painkillers.

Here's a story about all that with the headline:

Potential moms using painkillers, study finds

That means women between the ages of fifteen and forty-five, and the painkillers the headline refers to are opioid painkillers, such as Vicodin and OxyContin.  Those can cause birth defects in a fetus.

But how does that relate to women in that age group who are not pregnant or not planning to become pregnant?

Well, my dears, here's the answer:

Previous studies of opioid use during pregnancy suggest that the medicines could increase risk of major defects of the baby’s brain and spine, heart and abdominal wall.
But this is the first time that the CDC has looked into opioid painkillers specifically among women of child-bearing age, which is important because many pregnancies aren’t recognized until well after the first few weeks, and half of all U.S. pregnancies are unplanned, officials said.

Emphasis mine.

The study summary I discuss here gives not one single recommendation for all those "potential moms" out there.  It's hard not to read it as implying that pain is something "potential moms" should just bear bravely, or at least seriously consider that alternative.

I got carried away a bit thinking about all the stuff "potential moms" aka women do.  They might drink (gasp!), they might ski downhill at a rapid rate, they might dance all night through!  Perhaps all women of the fertile ages should be moved into protected housing where their diet and lifestyles could be controlled?

The CDC's own summary on the study is quite a bit saner.  It recommends this:

“Women, who are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, should discuss with their health care professional the risks and benefits for any medication they are taking or considering.” said Coleen Boyle, Ph.D., MS.Hyg., Director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. “This new information underscores the importance of responsible prescribing, especially of opioids, for women of child bearing age.”

But to return to that bolded bit in the above quote:

It's based on an interesting flaw in how that statistic is used.  That half of all US pregnancies are unplanned does NOT mean that half of all pregnancies of every US woman are unplanned.  In particular, it doesn't take into account the difference between women who use contraception and women who do not use contraception.

Here's the Guttmacher Institute on that distinction:

To repeat from the graph:  The two-thirds of women at risk of unintended pregnancy who practice contraception consistently and correctly account for only 5% of unintended pregnancies.

I'm not quite certain why that distinction is so seldom made in these types of studies.  If it was made, angry Echidne wouldn't have to keep going all haywire* over the same stuff.

This distinction also matters, because now health care providers can ask women in the fertile age categories whether they practice birth control or not, and they can also tell the women who are prescribed opioid painkillers to be very careful not to get pregnant.


*I've tried to figure out why I get so angry with the particular flavor of the pieces which use the "half of all pregnancies are unplanned" in this manner.  The reasons are  1)  that the assumption takes away all agency from women in the fertile age category (it doesn't matter what the women themselves do, pregnancy just "happens") and 2) that there is often a sense in these articles that fertile women really are just temporarily empty fetus aquaria rather than full human beings.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Huckabee on Theocracy

Huckabee is going to toss his hat in the presidential ring, I read.  It would have been a lot harder to write sarcasm without his presence so I'm grateful.  mm.

He's a man of God, Mike is.  He is going to run on the divine side:

"We cannot survive as a republic if we do not become, once again, a God-centered nation that understands that our laws do not come from man, they come from God," he said on the show "Life Today."
When Huckabee added that he wasn't demanding a theocracy, host James Robison said, "We have a theocracy right now. It's a secular theocracy."
"That's it!" Huckabee said, describing the current political order as "humanistic, secular, atheistic, even antagonistic toward Christian faith."
I need to take out my brain and vacuum it before returning it to its nest, what with the idea of something called secular theocracy. 

But what is the difference between theocracy and "understanding that our laws do not come from man [sic], they come from God?"  Please someone tell me.

I have difficulty with the extremist Islamic ideas (ISIS) of how a country is run as a theocracy, and I have difficulty with Huckabee's version, too.  Many years ago:
 ...former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee forcefully defended an earlier statement backing the biblical admonition that wives should submit to their husbands.
"I'm not the least bit ashamed of my faith or the doctrines of it," Huckabee said. "I don't try to impose that as a governor, and I wouldn't impose it as a president. But I certainly am going to practice it unashamedly.... "
He went on to explain that the Bible also commands husbands to submit to their wives and that marriage requires each spouse to give 100 percent to the other.

That's gobbledegook, that idea of mutual submission, based on the Bible.  But if you grant Huckabee his god ideas, it would suggest that in the past he wasn't going to use those to run the country.  How can you both have theocracy and not have theocracy?

The real problem, naturally, is that nobody truly knows how a divine power would rule a country (well, you could ask me about my rules).  What we have instead are writings by human beings who lived thousands of years ago and who lived inside a society which looks very different from many societies existing today.  Adulterous women were stoned, men had absolute rule over their families, homosexuality was a crime punishable by death and so on.  That the writers or recorders believed all this to be the will of god doesn't prove that it is.

But those are the writings the extremist literalists and fundamentalists attribute to gods in all religions today. Thus, Huckabee is a brother under the skin with those who planned the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq.  Granted, he's a much kinder and gentler brother, but he uses similar books as his guide to what should be.

The difficulty with that approach is pretty obvious for the rest of us:  How do you debate issues with someone who believes that he speaks for God? 

More On The No-Go Zones in Europe

Have you noticed that the debate about the Muslim no-go zones in Europe tends to take the final form of YES, THEY EXIST! NO, THEY DO NOT!   Rinse and repeat.

That isn't terribly helpful.  Neither is the invitation to go and see whether they exist or not, given that most of us cannot hop into our private jets and organize extensive visits of the world.  Why does it seem to be so hard to delve into the next layer and look at evidence which might point either way?  Or towards something more complicated?

I did a little bit of that work, starting with the assertion about 55 Swedish no-go zones (mostly because I can read a little Swedish).  This quote refers to it:

That night, on Anderson Cooper’s program, the concept crept again into the conversation, as retired CIA officer Gary Berntsen told the host, “Anderson, the Europeans and the French in particular have problems that are the result of also 751 ‘no-go zones’ in France where you have Islamic communities that have formed councils that are managing these areas. And the police don’t go in. If you look at Sweden there are 55 ‘no-go zones’ there. You know, firefighters or ambulance drivers go in there and they’re attacked. Their vehicles are lit on fire, their tires are slashed, and the Europeans have not pushed back against this. They can’t surveil people inside the ‘no-go zones’ if they get and go in there,” said the analyst, who called the zones “enclaves that are completely separated from the government.”

The idea of 55 Swedish "no-go zones" comes from a report by the Swedish police.  The report itself does NOT use the term "no-go zones" and as far as I can see it says nothing about religion. either, or about religious councils which are supposed to run the areas.

Instead, the report is about criminal networks (mostly dealing in narcotics) and loose criminal gangs in certain areas, and the power of those gangs.  Crimes are not often reported to the police, parked police cars are sometimes attacked, rocks are thrown at police and firefighters and it's difficult to find witnesses for crimes.  The one reference to alternative governments in the report refers to the criminal gangs themselves as being in power in a few areas, via the use of fear and threats in the local communities.   But the report also states that most areas do not fall under the concept of a "parallel society."

Could those 55 areas have a high percentage of Muslim immigrants?  That's possible, given that crime tends to hide in poorer areas and immigrants mostly begin as poor and are therefore more likely to settle into higher crime areas.  It's probably also the case that immigrants are among those criminal networks or run at least some of them.

But are those areas run as some type of miniature caliphates?  I found no evidence of that.  Note, however,  that it's not unknown for religious minorities to try to control the area in which they live.

What's the point of what I wrote here?  That crime might be what the idea of the so-called "no-go zones" are about, and that any "parallel societies" would be more tied to crime lords than mullahs, say.   Still, it is obviously important to avoid segregation along religious lines, especially when it coincides with economic and social segregation.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

On Rabbits, Contraception, the Pope And Climate Change

Is this serendipity again?  I read a pretty depressing article about the likely consequences of climate change the other day.   Then I read what Pope Francis thinks of birth control.

The first article made me think about the possible solutions to what's happening to our little space ship Earth.

Many solutions to combat human-caused climate change are nearly impossible, because either people don't believe in climate change or have decided to feast until the Day of Demise or people want the countries that didn't get to feast a chance to do so, too, even if that speeds up the Day of Demise.  And then there are those who think we could work this out just fine if everyone agreed to an austere lifestyle with no computers and not much food etc.

I'm exaggerating, of course.  But there's something about human beings which make those self-assumed austerity solutions extremely unlikely.  The best solution to me seems to have a lot fewer people on earth in the long-run.  It might happen, in any case, because of the coming resource wars (which may already have begun).   But we could also carry out that solution by at least making sure that people don't have to have children they don't want to have in the first place.  Birth control, you know. 

A smaller total number of human beings would have a less damaging impact on earth and would also be able to have a higher material lifestyle, on average.  Other animals would have more space, too.

But what do I know, sigh.  The Pope obviously knows better, because he told his flock to be more open to life.  That's Pope-speak about not using contraception:

After discussing various threats to the family, including “a lack of openness to life,” he deviated briefly from his prepared remarks, transitioning from English to his native Spanish in order to speak from the heart about the subject.

“I think of Blessed Paul VI,” he said. “In a moment of that challenge of the growth of populations, he had the strength to defend openness to life.”

In 1968, Pope Paul VI released the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which upheld Catholic teaching on sexuality and the immorality of artificial contraception, predicting the negative consequences that would result from a cultural acceptance of birth control.

“He knew the difficulties that families experience, and that’s why in his encyclical, he expressed compassion for particular cases. And he taught professors to be particularly compassionate with particular cases,” Pope Francis said.

“But he went further. He looked to the peoples beyond. He saw the lack and the problem that it could cause families in the future. Paul VI was courageous. He was a good pastor, and he warned his sheep about the wolves that were approaching, and from the heavens he blesses us today.”

So it goes.  Though later Francis clarified that he didn't mean to advocate that Catholics should breed like rabbits.

Weird and fascinating stuff.  Not logical, but then very little about the recent world events looks logical to me. 

And notice all the animals in those pope-quotes?  Sheep, wolves, rabbits!  The types I worry about when it comes to climate change.  Serendipity, I say.  It would most likely be a better basis for writing than trying to make some sense of stuff.

The No-Go Muslim Zones of Europe

You may have read about these.  They are supposed to be areas where shariah law rules and where non-Muslims cannot enter safely.  The idea has been sprouted in the fevered minds of US conservatives, beginning with an "expert" Fox News had on who argued that the UK city of Birmingham is such a no-go zone.  He and the Fox News later apologized for the misinformation he spread.  Now the Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, continues with  similar arguments:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) struggled to substantiate his claims that European cities have been taken over by Muslim extremists during an interview with CNN correspondent Max Foster on Monday in London. Jindal stood by the charge even as other prominent conservatives admitted that the allegations had no factual basis.
“There are neighborhoods where women don’t feel comfortable going in without veils that is wrong, we all know there are neighborhoods where police are less likely to go into,” Jindal said, referring to so-called “no-go” zones or areas that are too dangerous for non-Muslims to enter. The claim has echoed throughout conservative media in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Foster challenged the assertion repeatedly, explaining that, “you need to have sort of proper facts to back that up.” “I’ve lived here a long time,” he said. “I don’t know of any no-go zones for non-Muslims.”

It's all fun and games.  I tried to research this and found claims on various European anti-immigration sites, but none of them provide proper links to any evidence, just to opinions or statements that someone tried to create a shariah police force in Germany or that the Swedish police uses backup before going into some Muslim-majority areas with high crime rates.  The has more.

The only reason I write about this is that I do get the sense in all the debate about Islamic terrorism etcetera of an empty cavity just below whatever the day's arguments might be.  Or an ideological cavity of some type.  That cavity is then filled up with factoids or pseudo-theories.  It happens on both sides of the debate, by the way, though this does not make it a case of "both sides do it."  Rather, it makes it a case of "nobody seems to have the evidence."

Maybe it's simply the fact that when I follow up almost any argument presented in those debates I come up dry or end up as uninformed as I was at the beginning of the debate.  Hard survey data, hard data on religious utterings etc.  is not available at all, and so much of the data I find is on sites which are clearly not aiming at a neutral search for facts. 

The Arc Of Justice. Thoughts After the MLK Day.

Martin Luther King Jr. has given us many famous quotes.  This is one of them:

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

It can console and comfort people when times are bad.  But moral universe has no arc whatsoever if people don't push it forwards.  That's also a useful reminder.   I think today might be the time when racial justice will be sought and won in the US justice system, because so many people are working for it and because public opinion is getting more informed.  

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Good News on The Saudi Blogger Raif Badawi


The activist sentenced to 1,000 lashes in Saudi Arabia underwent his first flogging despite the country’s Supreme Court being ordered to review the case, his wife has told the Telegraph.
Raif Badawi, 31, was due to undergo the second of 20 rounds of 50 lashes on Friday morning, a week after receiving the first in a public ceremony which was condemned worldwide.
Doctors ordered a postponement, saying the wounds from the first round had not yet had time to heal, giving rise to hopes that Saudi Arabia might be bowing to international pressure over the case.
But Ensaf Haidar, Mr Badawi’s wife who is now in self-imposed exile in Canada with the couple’s three children, said there was no sign yet of leniency.

Keep up the international pressure!

It's not clear if the lashes will be given anyway.  But the reason for the current suspension is international opposition.  I get that this clashes with the Saudi opposition to the international opposition.  But blogging is not a crime.  Lashing and imprisoning a blogger should be.

Digby writes about that odd illogical treatment of Saudi Arabia by Western leaders.  Well, it's not odd because it's caused by oil greed.  But it certainly is illogical.  The Islamic State, for example, clearly has its roots in the Wahhabi sect of Islam, and that is the sect Saudi Arabia exports.  Then it plans to but fences around its own country.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Busy Beavers of Uterus Legislation

That would be the Republicans in the US Congress.  The new Congress hasn't been open for business very long, but the House and the Senate already have at least six proposals about the proper ownership and use of uteri.

I glanced through those six proposed acts and found, to my great delight, that at least two of them were sponsored by Senator David Vitter (R) of Louisiana.  Yes, the man famous for the prostitution scandal.  I have to work hard to get my head around the idea that Senator Vitter can view the area around uteri as both his general playground and the area in which values about "unborn babies" should be determined by Republican principles.

The two proposed acts on which I have something useful to say are HR 36 and S 50.  The former states this:

Short Friday Posts 1/16/2015: On Female Circumcision, The End of Vagina Monologues (?) And Paid Sick Leave as Giveaways

1.  This is a very moving first-person essay on female circumcision or genital mutilation, depending on which term you prefer.

2.  Mount Holyoke College no longer performs Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues which had been an annual tradition.  The reason?  Focusing on vaginas is not inclusive:

...the argument is premised on the idea that a) not all women have vaginas, and b) some men do have vaginas, because some trans individuals identify and live as a different gender than they were born without getting genital reconstructive surgery. Ergo, a trans women is a woman, full stop, but she may have a penis. A trans man is a man, full stop, but he may have a vagina. Fine. I get that. I'm cool with that. And, regardless, it doesn't matter if I'm cool with it, because how other people define their genders/bodies/sexualities is none of my concern. If you are a woman without a vagina, neat; there is totally room for all of our experiences in this great big, crazy world.

Yet I am a woman with a vagina, and this becomes an area of my concern when people start saying that I shouldn't reference or acknowlege that—that it's in fact bad and intolerant so 20th century to even speak about it. The fact that some trans women don't have vaginas doesn't negate the fact that the vast majority of women do. And now, in the name of feminism, "female-validating talk about vaginas is now forbidden," as one anonymous writer on a Mount Holyoke messageboard put it. "That's so misogynistic under the guise of ‘progress.'"

That's a topic which will certainly get you into pretzel arguments!  I'm not at all certain that any trans man could get cis men convinced that talking about penises is not acceptable when it comes to defining men.

I agree with the author of that Reason piece in that talking about vaginas is in one sense pretty inclusive (as the vast, vast majority of women do happen to have them and as most of the oppression and control of women is based on those women having vaginas), while not talking about vaginas is pretty much patriarchy as it used to be (should you wish to use that word), whatever the good intentions are.

This is one example where views of oppressions appear to clash, and the reason is the lack of nuances.  It's not necessary for the word "vagina" to be erased for trans women to be covered by the term "women" or for feminism to stretch large enough to cover the needs of both cis women and trans women.  

The global debate on women's reproductive issues is pretty undeveloped, by the way.  We are nowhere near the time when talk about vaginas would somehow no longer be needed in the non-pornographic sense.  The pornographers will go on talking about vaginas in any case.

3.  On Fox News, Stuart Varney defines paid sick leave and parental leave as giveaways.*  Both he and the interviewer focus on who is to pay for such leave.  Varney says it's taxpayers for the parental leave proposal for federal workers and employers for the general proposal of one week of paid sick leave for all workers.

The framing is that the audience of the program consists of those who pay for this, not those who both pay for this and receive the benefits.  But surely the audience of Fox News also consists of those tax payers who cover the corporate takeaways?  Who pay more taxes because of the many and various deductions corporations are entitled to?

In any case the actual burden of paying some labor-related cost is divided between the employers and employees in differing proportions depending on the characteristics of the relevant labor market.

As the linked story explains, other developed countries in fact do have those horrible giveaways.  The US is competing unfairly, one might say, by refusing to have the same types of benefits which are regarded as normal elsewhere.

I like to think of benefits of this sort as just a part of the total compensation package.  Many jobs have retirement benefits, right?  They are ultimately just like wages.  The difference with paid sick leave, say, is that it somewhat reduces the risks the employees face because of causes such as illness.  And as the Media Matters article points out, it's often the poorest of workers who have the least of this type of insurance.

The Fox people worry about people taking the sick leave even when they are not sick, as a form of extra vacation time.  There's a fairly easy way to limit that tendency, and that is to require a note from a health care professional for the money to be paid.  That's what other countries do, I think.
*Added later:  An interview worth reading in this context.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The New Pew Survey of Women And Leadership

You can read it here.  Surveys of this type don't really say very much unless they are put in perspective by repeated surveys over time.  That's because they are snap shots of one point in time and because the answers also depend on what else is happening at that time.

To take an example, the survey asked the respondents whether they personally hope to see a woman as the president of the United States over their lifetimes.  This is how the answers looked:

The problem with that question is pretty obvious.  The name "Hillary Clinton" hovers in the background and the fact that the Republicans don't have any female candidate with the same chances of succeeding will inform the answers.

But I turned all sad noticing that the only group of respondents in that picture where the majority would like to see a female president in their lifetimes consists of Democratic women.   Most people are pretty comfortable with the idea that women in power are about as rare as black swans.  Which suggests that the way the MRAs tell women are running the whole world isn't exactly what is really happening.  And feminism has a long workday (generations, my sweetings) ahead of it.

Still, many of the other answers in the survey are encouraging.  In interpreting surveys of this type it's important to remember various types of response biases (especially telling people what they wish to hear), but it's also important to keep in mind that many of the answers will reflect social stereotypes, norms and mores.  Those change very very slowly.

And as expected, men who vote Republican are most likely to think that all the necessary gender work has already been done:

Republican men (54%) say the country has made the changes needed to give men and women equality in the workplace. By contrast about two-thirds (66%) of Republican women say more changes are needed. Even larger majorities of Democratic and independent women and Democratic men agree that gender parity is still a work in progress.
 That's especially interesting given that the survey asks questions about the best time for women to have children if they wish to become leaders and what with the absence of maternity leave of any reasonable amount or the expectation that mothers should be the ones responsible for children.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sam Brownback Might Have To Raise Taxes!!!

Run for your lives, because the sky has turned pink.  Brownback never saw a tax he didn't want to cut.  As the Governor of Kansas he got to put his daft ideas into practice.  The outcome?

On Monday, the state's legislature will take on the daunting task of trying to find hundreds of millions of dollars to balance the state's budget, which is facing a shortfall of $280 million for this fiscal year.
A big reason for the predicament, experts say: Some of the largest tax cuts in the state's history, signed into law in 2012 by Governor Sam Brownback.
One of the biggest cuts: The profits of small businesses and partnerships were made tax-exempt.
Tax policy experts like Joseph Henchman of the Tax Foundation suspect this change is a key reason for the state's unexpectedly large revenue shortfall. One concern is that other companies not eligible for the 0% tax rate may be trying to reorganize themselves so they, too, get the tax break.
The tax-cut package was supposed to boost the Kansas economy and small businesses. Problem is, that hasn't happened. At least not yet, although the effects of tax cuts can take years to materialize.

Mmm.  And pink unicorns might also be found one day.

So Kansas is now the Great Experiment in what happens when taxes are cut to the bone, and Brownback (the Free-Market-Obligatory-Religion prophet) might actually have to raise taxes back a bit.

Though even now he is considering cutting more spending:

One of Brownback's proposals for cutting this year's shortfall is to reduce the state's contributions to the public employee pension fund for the next six months, a controversial move especially considering that the state pension plan is already underfunded. 

What's behind all this weirdness?  Brownback's 2012 tax cuts:

The 2012 cuts were among the largest ever enacted by a state, reducing the top tax bracket by 25 percent and eliminating all taxes on business profits that are reported on individual income returns. (No other state has ever eliminated all taxes on these pass-through businesses.) The cuts were arrogantly promoted by Mr. Brownback with the same disproven theory that Republicans have employed for decades: There will be no loss of revenue because of all the economic growth!

The lesson in all this?  You need to study economics before deciding on some weird theory, based on free-market gods flying around.  It scares me that so many politicians have a religious attitude to something that consists of theories, evidence and arguments.

On the other hand, though I feel sad about the citizens of Kansas, these problems couldn't have happened to a more appropriate man.

Be Invisible. Be silent.

That's one of the rules of most fundamentalist religions when it comes to women:  The ideal woman will not be seen or heard.  Instead, she will obey the commands of whoever is declared her owner/guardian.

You can verify the truth of that assertion by a little bit of thinking.

I was reminded of this rule when I read about an ultra-orthodox Israeli newspaper amending the pictures of world leaders in the Paris protest march (that took place after the murders of people at a comic newspaper, a Kosher store and one policewoman out in the streets).  This is the original picture:

And this is what it becomes when the women become invisible (note that they are not even allowed to leave gaps):

Finally, here's a Twitter response to that photo-shopping.  I apologize for not yet finding the creator of that picture which simply removes all men from the (staged) picture:

Alas and alack, there is no matriarchal religion which would have enough power to photo-shop men out of pictures (not implying that this would happen in a matriarchal religion).  But the last picture is also enlightening.  Note how few people remain if only female world leaders counted.

When Women Rule Everything

Cardinal Raymond Burke (whom Pope Francis has demoted) has given an interview.  It tells us the reasons why men shun the Catholic Church.  It's because women rule it:

Some snippets:

Cardinal Raymond Burke said in an interview with website “The New Emangelism: Drawing Men to Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church” that the church needs to return to its male-centered roots and stop catering to “women’s issues” in order to regain its once robust standing in the world.

“I think there has been a great confusion with regard to the specific vocation of men in marriage and of men in general in the Church during the past 50 years or so,” Burke told The New Emangelism (TNE) in an interview published Monday. “It’s due to a number of factors, but the radical feminism which has assaulted the Church and society since the 1960s has left men very marginalized.”
“Unfortunately, the radical feminist movement strongly influenced the Church,” Cardinal Burke complained, “leading the Church to constantly address women’s issues at the expense of addressing critical issues important to men; the importance of the father, whether in the union of marriage or not; the importance of a father to children; the importance of fatherhood for priests; the critical impact of a manly character; the emphasis on the particular gifts that God gives to men for the good of the whole society.”
“The goodness and importance of men became very obscured,” he said, and that needs to change.
Women and their needs have not only decimated the church, he said, but the institution of marriage as well.
“I recall in the mid-1970’s, young men telling me that they were, in a certain way, frightened by marriage because of the radicalizing and self-focused attitudes of women that were emerging at that time,” he recalled. “These young men were concerned that entering a marriage would simply not work because of a constant and insistent demanding of rights for women. These divisions between women and men have gotten worse since then.”
Worst of all, he said, the church took a “fluffy,” womanly attitude toward sexuality.
“Making things worse, there was a very fluffy, superficial kind of catechetical approach to the question of human sexuality and the nature of the marital relationship,” he said, which has led to sexual anarchy, the abundant availability of pornography, homosexuality and child sex abuse.

Delicious!  Irresistibly funny, because it is so upside-down!  Cardinal Burke is so far in some other reality (perhaps in the world of hyenas?) that I cannot stop laughing.

But I'm not writing this post just to ridicule a cardinal of a very patriarchal church for believing that his church has been taken over by the radical feminists cabal when in actual fact women are not allowed to be priests, women are not allowed to have any real power in the church and contraception and abortion are banned with the aim of keeping all women at home while also maximizing the number of new little Catholics.

Well, yes, I am.  Honestly, this guy lives in a cloud-cuckoo-land.  No amount of female subjugation would make him satisfied, I suspect.  And did you notice that the female concept of sexuality is "fluffy" (pink ribbons around the genitals?) but nevertheless has resulted (according to Burke) in the crime of child sex abuse???

The gall.  So the men inside the church who were pederasts would not have been pederasts if some non-fluffy male concept of sexuality had reigned?  What would that be?  Having intercourse while boxing?  Or something more sinister.

This must be the most astonishing explanation for child sex abuse I've ever heard.  To fluffy a view of sexuality??!!

The second point (other than ridiculing Burke) of this post is how much it reminds me of some more extreme MRA creeds which assert that what men's rights really mean is the right for men to rule as overlords of women and the right to get respected for that.  Many of those creeds also begin with the assumption that the current society is run by a small number of radical feminists* (with frightening fangs and impossible powers, all aimed at killing off men), and that the proper rights of men (to be overlords) have been utterly stripped away.  Therefore, the status quo is seen as oppression of men.  Well, perhaps not in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan, but in almost all other countries.  That's why we have had an unbroken chain of radical feminist female presidents and commanders of the military and popes and stateswomen and so on.

*That radical feminism has always been a fairly small part of feminism and has had very little impact on religious and other institutions is irrelevant in both the case of Burke and the case of some MRA types.  That's because they paint any movements aiming for gender equality as a radical feminist takeover movement.  Indeed, I suspect that they know this and that the terminology is carefully selected.