Links for November 3rd through November 5th

Maternity Leave as a Feminist Flashpoint
…my vision of more flexible workplace policies that would allow us all to be healthier, less crazed people has very little to do with some kind of quid pro quo with my child-bearing sisters. While I will admit to occasionally being annoyed when one workplace colleague on Facebook (who gave birth a few months ago) posts statuses like, ‘hmm, soap opera or nap?’ I’m mature enough to recognize that my twinges of jealousy in no way negate that she probably spent three months locked indoors with no adult conversation for her pains, and also, like, pushed a watermelon out of her hoo-ha. Which! Annoying as my job is, I did not do. So probably she’s entitled to more quality Price is Right time than I am.[...] First of all, while I am totally on the moms’ sides here as detailed above, I can’t help but feel, viscerally, devalued in this debate. This has a lot to do with how parental leave tends to get framed as a ‘women’’” issue – as though it were of universal concern to us. This is of course a second-order question – in some sense it is a women’s issue because it affects a large number of women, and that needs to be enough, a lot of the time. [...]And of course I find all too often that maternity leave has become the sum total of ‘women’s issues’ in the workplace. At my own workplace, for example, the women’s committee spends almost all of its time talking abou how to balance motherhood and career. On Meet the Press this weekend, parenthood was discussed as the major feature of womanhood without much challenge. Other issues – sexual harassment, coping strategies for mansplainers and male silencing techniques (which I think are HUGELY important if women are to become equals and yet are almost never addressed) – are treated as less important, less crucial to womanhood in the workplace. [...] I do think, for a variety of reasons that are no fault of their own, mothers are valued in a way that single, childless women are not. Motherhood is viewed as definitionally selfless, when I think, in fact, it is more complicated than that, and I think most women know that, but I don’t know how to get beyond this place where women continue to clutch at their roles as parents. To make it central to female identity. Obviously one of the solutions is to have men become more involved in parenthood, granted equal leave – I am personally of the opinion that nothing will be better for women than the day when men are expected to share equally in the care of progeny. But then, as far as the childless go, we are still at square one. We [the childless] are still [seen as] the people missing some fundamentally human feature.
Helpful Terms, Unhelpful Tips?
We got a nifty link from reader Hill Rat yesterday (thanks, brah) that’s right in my wheelhouse: its about a research project focusing on gender bias, particularly as it relates to the academy.First, check out this Gender Bias Bingo Card. Not funny, like the original Anti-Feminist Bingo Card, but worth a gander. The card sums up the four major patterns of bias that this Center for Work-Life Law at the University of California at Hastings has identified: Prove it Again, Gender Wars, Double Binds, and the Maternal Wall [...]If you wander around the site, you can see concepts explained, watch role-plays, take a quiz, and watch short clips of women offering ‘strategies’ of varying helpfulness. [...]It seems a leetle 101 to me (especially for what appear to be women a generation older than I), but I suppose that’s still necessary, even at the university, which I like to think of as something of a haven from the wall-to-wall sexism you might find in a less (generally speaking) liberal working environment. One of the contributors made a good point that the university tenure system actually works against women, because sexist dinosaurs will stick around until they’re forced to leave,and their attitudes can set the tone for an entire department.
What Happened and Why?
Nate Silver quickly covers the various elections on Tuesday. Re the Maine defeat for marriage equality:
…I think I’ll need to look whether the urban-rural divide is a significant factor in a state in addition to its religiosity: Maine is secular, but rural. At the end of the day, it may have been too much to ask of a state to vote to approve gay marriage in an election where gay marriage itself was the headline issue on the ballot. Although the enthusiasm gap is very probably narrowing, feelings about gay marriage have traditionally been much stronger on the right than the left, and that’s what gets people up off the couch in off-year elections.I certainly don’t think the No on 1 campaign can be blamed; by every indication, they ran a tip-top operation whereas the Yes on 1 folks were amateurish. But this may not be an issue where the campaign itself matters very much; people have pretty strong feelings about the gay marriage issue and are not typically open to persuasion. There’s going to be an effort by many on the left to blame Barack Obama for his lack of leadership on gay rights issues; I think the criticism is correct on its face, but I don’t know how much it has to do with the defeat in Maine. A more popular Democratic governor, for instance, who had been a bit quicker on the trigger in his support of gay marriage, might have helped more.
Independent Voters and Empty Explanations
Nate Silver takes other pundits to school:Why did Democrats lose in Virginia and New Jersey on Tuesday? Because independent voters moved against them, say the pundits.This is true, insofar as it goes [...] But it doesn’t really tell us very much. It’s a lot like saying: the Yankees won the Game 6 last night because they scored more runs than the Phillies. Or: the unemployment rate went up because there were fewer jobs. [...] in politics, it’s not the proximate cause we’re interested in but the ultimate one. [...] what caused the independents to move against the Democrats? That’s what we’re really interested in…
The Happiness Hat
Behold Lauren McCarthy’s amazing Happiness Hat. It’s knitted hat that digs a spike into the back of your head when it senses that you’re not smiling. [Video embedded.]It’s amazingly creepy and perturbing. I was reminded of how women in particular are often expected to smile or look actively happy. But further than that, a sort of relentless pressure for self-improvement. McCarthy’s video of the Happiness Hat didn’t make me think, ‘Oh, if I smile more I might be happier’. Instead it reminded me of the concept of hegemony as ‘the gun inside your head’. Police your thoughts… or else your conscience will prick you – along with the scary hat spike!
Quote of the Day
[Trigger warning.]“Battered Presidents Syndrome: It’s like Battered Wives Syndrome, except President Obama is the bride with the black eye and Ayatollah Khameini is the abusive husband. And Obama keeps coming back for more.”—Michael Goldfarb, online editor for the conservative rag The Weekly Standard.Oh HELL no.
Fabulous
Steve Martin & Alec Baldwin to Host the Oscars.For a moment there, I thought there wouldn’t be a misogynist asshole involved, but luckily they were able to secure someone who called his then-11-year-old daughter “a rude, thoughtless little pig” who doesn’t have “brains” or “decency,” and then “joked” two years later (on Letterman’s show, ahem)…
Made In Iran
“Not one thing was marked Made in Iran. Know why? Because most trade with Iran is prohibited. So why include this mendacious little moment in the commercial? Aside from trying to connect with racist, jingoistic douchnozzles who may be your target audience?”
Mental Health Coverage Makes Economic Sense
“A study of an individual employer-based insurance policy found that the savings from decreasing coverage of mental health were entirely canceled out by increased physical health costs. Additionally, untreated behavioral health problems create significant costs for employers in terms of short-term disability absences.”
Jie Qi loves to make things
“Jie Qi is majoring in mechanical engineering at Columbia University, and as her website says, she loves to make things. [...] I love how hardware hacking can be so beautiful. I’ll bet that’s not the first thing some people think of when they think of neat hardware projects, but I’ve seen a lot of really lovely things out there. Feel free to show off your own stuff in the comments: complete, incomplete, or even not quite started.”
earlgreytea68: THE GREAT STORY OF WHY AIRTRAN IS MADE OF ENORMOUS FAIL
“The woman who sat next to me on the connecting flight out of Atlanta had started her day, hours earlier, in Charlotte. She, too, had been told weather was the issue, although she’d been told weather in Atlanta. She said she’d been doing a survey, and every passenger had been told weather, but the weather seemed to drift around the country, never really in the same location twice.”
And the Healthcare Reform Disaster Continues…
‘…a little-noticed provision in the healthcare overhaul bill would require insurers to consider covering Christian Science prayer treatments as medical expenses.’ [...]
Anyone here want their tax dollars to fund gay conversion therapy? Yeah, me neither. [...]

I can’t even begin to imagine the clusterfuck this would create. And, frankly, I’m none too pleased knowing that insurance companies deny experimental (“unproven”) treatment all the time, even when the procedures are known to be effective, on the basis they just haven’t yet been done enough. (There’s a snake eating its tail for you: We can’t approve it because it’s not been done enough yet!) But in the event this passes, they’ll be compelled to pay for scientifically unsound procedures for patients, who, if their claim is denied, have a constitutional basis on which to challenge the denial: Freedom of religion.

Elsewhere, Amanda Marcotte observes,
It’s not just the immediate issue of paying for Christian Scientists to do nothing, because while that’s offensive to thrift and decency, it’s not really all that expensive. It’s also that this sort of thing opens the door to all sorts of charlatans who charge a lot more than $20 a pop to do nothing, using what amounts to magical arguments about healing. “Religious or spiritual” healing is a nice way to dress up the claim that you’re going to be healed by some sort of supernatural cause outside of science. If you’re going to allow that prayer is a form of healing you’re willing to finance, then where do you draw the line?

How Could a Feminist Even CONSIDER Not Voting Democratic?!
“My vote is mine, and I’ve always used it to vote Dem, but I’m getting pretty goddamn tired of giving my vote to a party whose members are reluctant to give their votes to me.”
The mystery of the right wing freakout becomes a bit more clear
This is why the mantra for Republicans has been ‘god, guns, and gays’—all three are actually about one thing, maintaining not just a specific image of masculinity, but suggesting those who fit it are better than everyone else. [...]They’re getting nuttier because time is demonstrating that their argument—which boils down to arguing they deserve power because they’re more competent—is being disproven, and they don’t have a back-up plan.
Recommended Reading for November 4
Disability and Loss
If you are born differently abled, the state of your body is absolutely normal to you but if you come to this identity after being fully abled, it is a loss.

Torchwood 2×11: Adrift
Do not start with ‘but she’s not mad, she’s autistic’. This is not the moment for comparing isms and/or deciding that neurological disabilities deserve more or less stigma than psychiatric ones. For the moment, please, let’s lump them all in the same category, under ‘things causing one to be locked in a loony bin so that no one has to see us’.
This episode disrespects people like Amanda. Do not argue that it’s different because this is a special <b>space</b> madness that doesn’t follow the normal rules of psychiatry or neurology. It’s not, it’s playing on the same tropes human beings have been playing with since madness was <b>invented</b>. They made it a special space madness so they had an excuse to drag out those tropes and wallow in them without conflicting with contemporary knowledge of the realities of mental illness, post-traumatic stress, etc.

hughcasey: Evil Paleontologists Plan To Wipe Out One-Third Of All Dinosaur Species!
rm: I hate my stupid celiac disease
“It’s not important. And it’s not a big deal. I’m sitting here eating a nice little lunch, in fact. But today I really hate my disease, and I’m blogging about it, because even for a no big deal chronic illness, I think it’s important to for people to know how the background noise feels.”
Reclamation: thoughts from a fat hairy uppity lame bitch
“This post started with me suggesting a FAQ on reclamation for the “Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog” blog: “But there’s a whole feminist magazine called Bitch and a book called The Ethical Slut, so why can’t I call you a slutty bitch?” I tried to write a one-paragraph answer, but things snowballed a little. Here’s my attempt at answering; I welcome yours, and have put in a few questions at the end.”