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Gonna Go Back In Time: Wisconsin’s Legalized Sexism
c is for cat

It’s ok. You guys can tell me.

We all secretly went back in time, right?

That’s the only way I can get my head around Wisconsin’s repeal of their Equal Pay Act on the argument that “Money is more important to men”, piled on top of the birth control “debate” and Georgia passing legislation based on the idea that women are anatomically and ethically identical to pigs and cows. We fell through a time vortex and it’s 1959 and half of the twentieth century didn’t happen.

That is, of course, what Scott Walker and the rest of the charming gentlemen who are signing these grotesque reversions into law without mandate or recourse want. Hey, if we take away their birth control and don’t pay them for work, everything will go back to the way it was when pwecious Scotty was a kid and women will just stay at home and back cookies for everyone. Yay! No one will be gay anymore and America will drink its milk and be big and strong and we won’t have to worry about recycling and breast cancer (ew breasts!) and unwhite people and that rock n’ roll music the kids listen to. We can law it all away.

Yeah. And fuck you, too. And fuck you to everyone who told me to stop swearing about this on Twitter last night. WE SHOULD ALL BE SWEARING. We should all be laying down so much shit that fucking roses grow on Twitter. WE SHOULD CARE ABOUT THIS AT LEAST AS MUCH AS WE CARED ABOUT SOPA. Funny how I don’t see anyone shutting down portions of the Internet in protest, though. I mean, it’s only women. The headline on Reddit about this is: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill that prohibits workers from collecting damages in employment discrimination cases.” No outrage, no commentary, just a link. No mention of Walker’s contention that women don’t work as hard, aren’t “go go go” like men, and shouldn’t be paid as much. Women not even mentioned, despite being the clear and stated target of the legislation. Why get upset? Should be fine!

After all, there’s no war on women. The Republicans promise there isn’t. Just because the massive portion of their efforts are bent toward reducing the rights and freedoms of a single group within the American population doesn’t mean it’s a war. Not like the War on Drugs is a war. After all, drugs are bad and need to be controlled or else society will fall apart. Just like the ladies. This is just Good, Small Government. Why, next week, they’ll be repealing the Equal Pay for Caterpillars Act.

The conservatives are at least partly right: birth control and equal pay (somewhat equal, anyway) were the great victories of first and second wave feminism. They are trying everything in their power to take those things away, in the hopes that it’ll activate a Time Turner that will erase the source of those changes as well as the changes themselves. They say we are pigs, they say we don’t need any silly pin money, they say these things and they should be embarrassed, they should be ashamed at what just came out of their mouths, but no one is shaming them. The news treats it like a simple partisan debate. Point for blue, point for red. But no matter what young folks might say, these men know we’re not in a post-sexist or post-racist culture, that they can rely on old, ugly misogyny and the reluctance to stand up for women’s rights that has tinted gender relations in this country for pretty much ever to lube their legislation up nice and slick. When women are outraged, you don’t have to listen, after all. Bitches be crazy.

I know Walker will almost certainly be recalled in November. Doesn’t really matter–he’s fiat’d this into law and there’s an inertia there. I’ve heard rumors that Walker is a top candidate for the GOP VP slot, so don’t get smug in the knowledge that he’s going away. I shouldn’t be surprised, you shouldn’t be surprised–but we should all be terrified. And angry.

I’ve seen a lot of people saying things like “only in the US” and “America is crazy” and “thank god I don’t live there” flitting around, both here and on my gendered online discourse post. (And I want to thank the BSFA for proving my point, that the sexist jackasses, they live everywhere.) And I want to say: knock it off. First of all, no matter how much we like to take credit for things, Americans did not invent sexism. I promise, it could not “only happen in the US.” Many countries, if not all of them, have huge gender problems and many of those are boiling over with regressive assholes in power. And since the UK, Canada, and Australia are all having trouble with conservatives in their government pissing in the punchbowl, I wouldn’t get too excited about your immunity to this kind of crap.

But more importantly–stop thinking you’re special and it can never happen in your country. That is how America got like this in the first place. By thinking we were special, specially liberated and enlightened and awesome and only those other lamer countries had problems. That arrogance allows us to continue to let everything circle the drain, because we’re the best and OBVIOUSLY we’re not really sexist and stuff, it’ll get fixed, don’t worry. Our system can’t have been redesigned to let a few people destroy our economy–we have the best economy! USA! Everything’s fine! GROWTH 4EVAH.

I hate that shit. I know you hate that shit. So stop telling me Americans are so weird and where you live this could never happen. It could. If you’re not vigilant, like we haven’t been, it will.

Doesn’t mean I know what vigilance looks like. I’ve been told not to call myself a feminist my whole life, well before the current skirmishes. I’ve seen vast swathes of young women grow up couching every sentence defending their right to exist in “I’m not a feminist, but…” Because feminists are bad and they hate men and they’re ugly. But I’ve also been told: well, obviously you’re not serious about marriage if you don’t take your husband’s name, if you must be pro-choice make sure you insist that you could never make that choice for yourself, don’t make the first move or boys will think you’re a slut (also you will be a slut), you can have a full time job but don’t think that means you get to slack off on cooking, cleaning, and childrearing, you lazy baby-hungry girl. Men work so hard. They shouldn’t have to worry about the home. After all, you’re just naturally better at cleaning–men just don’t see clutter like you do!

But everything’s fine in America now and all feminism should worry about are the poor ladies living in the Middle East so why are you complaining that you only get 80 cents to the male dollar? YOU GOT 80 CENTS, BITCH, AREN’T YOU HAPPY?

So yeah. I feel fucking miserable and helpless. The fact is that our system is only loosely democratic at this point. We vote nationally on a President and that’s it. We as citizens have no recourse when executive branches decide to get all War on Caterpillars on our asses, and it’s been made abundantly clear that not one fuck is given about organized protest at that level of government.

This is why Wikipedia shut down to protest SOPA. Because that’s all we have, really. Disrupt commerce and consumer culture. But I just can’t see that kind of concentrated action happening in defense of women, no matter how much what happens to us happens to the whole culture. Go ahead: take our birth control and our jobs and call us pigs, tell us to obey the Catholic Church’s most panicked and regressive ideas whether or not we are Catholic. Take our humanity and wipe Congress’s asses with it.

But don’t you dare take away smoothly torrenting Mad Men episodes. How else will we get new ideas for how the country should look?

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

What you said resonates so strongly with me. I've been feeling this panicky sense of disbelief about all the crap legislation passing across the country. Seems like there is some crazy nostalgia for the "good" old days. Why do people think that just because they can see the past through a selective memory filter it was somehow better for anyone? I'm almost ready to believe that conservatives cleverly engineered the collapse in the housing market so that values could go down so that two incomes will no longer be needed to afford a house anymore so that they can point to this and say magnanimously, "See, ladies, you don't have to worry your little heads about working out of the home anymore."

I <3 you so much.

Well said. I really wish WisCon had the ability to move out of the state until these problems are fixed. As long as this ass clown and his cronies are in power, I hate giving Wisconsin our money.

I really, really hope Wiscon is planning some panels about this kind of thing/sexualized dystopias. It's an activist con. They should, you know, activate.

And since the UK and Australia are both having trouble with conservatives in their government pissing in the punchbowl, I wouldn’t get to excited about your immunity to this kind of crap.

Canada too. Blargh.

But don’t you dare take away smoothly torrenting Mad Men episodes. How else will we get new ideas for how the country should look?

Oh man the bitter chortling this provoked.

Edited at 2012-04-09 07:17 pm (UTC)

Wow. I love your icon :)

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Word. And fuck them all.

It's really hard to figure out what's an effective way of protesting anymore, with the massive *LALALACANTHEARYOU* in the face of protest. It was made abundantly clear that public dissent has no effect on government anymore when the war on Iraq started, so I can't really convince myself that joining a march on anything is an effective use of time. Given the freewheeling use of pepper spray these days, it seems more likely to be personally harmful than politically helpful, and that's my least favorite quadrant in the risk/gain 2x2 grid.

Yep, I was in those protests, I remember. And I remember the crushing disappointment and cynicism that rained down on my soul when I realized it didn't matter one bit. I supported OWS, but I knew it wouldn't matter.

Not much lobbying time was spent on stopping this

I found a link to a report about the elimination of compensatory and punitive damages for acts of employment discrimination or unfair honesty or genetic testing bill.

It has some good info on the front page. But the really interesting information needs another click or two. The box on the left, that says TEXT includes the full text of the law, including the sponsors. The one on the right that says COST AND HOURS has a report of the full amount of time spent by lobbying organizations to thwart this law.
Two hundred and forty-eight hours.

And of those hours, three (3. Cue holy hand grenades) were spent by an organization that opposed the law. The remaining two hundred forty-five were spent by people who think it's just dandy to discriminate with impunity.

Wisconsin votes FOR unfairness.
And we, the people, spent only three hours trying to stop that.

"I feel fucking miserable and helpless." Politically, abso-fuckin-lutely. I've never been in more depths of despair for the future than I am right now, simply because despite all the Occupy's and the SOPA protests, there's still this giant inertia engine that stumbles forward on the road to stupid. And I can't see it getting better.

there's still this giant inertia engine that stumbles forward on the road to stupid

It's terrifying.

I've tweeted multiple times this weekend re: my desire to punch Scott Walker in the nuts. Not that he's the root of all this, of course, but he's a particularly turgid head of the hydra.

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I agree. So much. I cannot for the life of me figure out what the fuck is up here! What is with the war on humanity? I, too, feel like we've gone back in time and I, too, feel helpless. It's horrible! Grrr....

(I know, I'm so incoherent...SO ANGRY!!!)

Am I right in saying that the Equal Pay law that's been repealed also covered inequality on grounds of race, dis/ability, sexual orientation, age, religion and other factors? D:

You are in fact correct. I see no evidence Walker even knows that, though--all his rhetoric was about removing equal pay for women.

Thank you for writing this. As always it was brilliant and on point and broke it apart the way it needs to be broken.

Personally, I refuse to give up, I refuse to despair and I refuse to give up the fight. I will demonstrate, I will curse this shit out, and if needs be, put my body on the line. I have to. My daughters deserve better. And I remember that it wasn't all skittles and beer for the suffragettes. I had just hoped that that level of defiance was no longer necessary.

Apparently it is.

So. Color me motherfucking defiant.

A nationwide work-strike or a day of silence on the Internet. I could get behind either. All women and allied men could just drop out of society for a day or two and see how well things run. 'Oh, sorry, Senator, we've got a cameraman, but no one's running sound today.'

I am so in the mood for a general strike. And I think we are beyond needing one.

Plus Texas took away women's healthcare that was federally subsidized because they hate Planned Parenthood. </p>

I'm convinced I need to put my skirt and pearls back on, tie my apron to maximize my assets, and pray we can burn our bras again soon.

I agree with all of this, though I don't really have any idea what to do about it either.

I've probably been guilty of the US-bashing, though. This sort of reactionary craziness is more prominent in the US at the moment, and certainly the religious right is stronger there, but that does not, by any means, mean that it can't happen elsewhere, or even that there aren't signs of it starting elsewhere already. The rest of us really can't afford to get complacent about this...

And she's completely right that our complacency (on the right AND the left, the latter of which has been focusing increasingly outward these days) got us where we are. Wherever you're from, stay loud, stay angry, and stay involved.

One of the things that is so astonishing about this is, women are raising the next generation. Women are now the largest group enrolled in college. This is condemning the next generation of the middle and blue-collar classes to sub-standard money flow.

When my mother told me she'd never vote for a Republican again because of something in their platform, I wasn't quite ready to go that far, because in TX sometimes I have to vote in the Republican primary. That allows me to vote for a stupid, racist white male to keep the absolutely imbecile white males out of office.

No more. As long as the Republicans represent this lunacy, I can't vote for them. Even if this means I cannot vote to decide on judges anymore (the Repubs control the judicial branch in Texas, too.) And voting machines make write-in candidates very complicated!

I can refuse to vote Republican. I can sign petitions, I can send people links about things like the sneaky attack on equal pay. But I agree that protesting is useless (as our attempt to stop the Iraq War proved. Bush/Cheney wanted that war, and they got it.) So what can we do next?

How can we convince conservative women that taking away their daughters' right to birth control and equal pay is not going to land them a Donna Reed existence? This may be our only hope -- a landslide pushing the Republicans out of office. And we must do it against a monstrous tide of cash.

The lack of people doing anything is such a problem! I don't even know how or when it started. I hear Republicans bus old people to the polls to vote for them but what do the people who actually WANT freedom do? You're right- where are the protesters? Where are the marches on Washington? Where are the young women who give a crap?

There have been marches. Young women do give a crap. The government isn't under obligation to change action because of the presence of literal kids on their lawn and they don't.

I am so LIVID about the whole thing. And I LIVE in Wisconsin!

Not to imply that you said anything of the sort, but the ONLY commentary I see about it is people saying things like, "Wisconsin should break off from the States." It's even in some of the comments here. And that also ticks me off! WE IN WISCONSIN DON'T LIKE IT ANY MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE. Maybe instead of clumping everyone in a state together just because they happen to live there, just maybe we should actually DO SOMETHING about it. We've signed the petitions. Our rallies got on national news numerous times. We still have rallies. But you know what? We need SUPPORT. So, honestly. (Mini-rant in your comments done. For now.)

But you're exactly right. He'll be recalled in November, but it's not the last we'll see of him. He's not even the only one doing this insane bullcrap. He's just the tip of the iceberg. And that TERRIFIES me.

Edited at 2012-04-09 07:56 pm (UTC)

Thank you - Bits of that have been bouncing around in my head for a while, but I couldn't form a cogent paragraph about it. My chunk of Wisconsin did not vote for this, and we vote regularly.

Your last two posts have hit home so hard. They also overlapped with a completely unrelated (but gender involved) blow up in a part of the webcomics community and all in all, the last few days have made part of me want to throw up its hands and go "that's it, I'm done," and hunker down with books and alcohol until the world ends.

Most of me, however, is screaming and kicking up a fuss and having really emotionally engaging (and satisfying) discussions with my partner. I've been able to point him at your last two posts because they say what I'd want to say. Now he's finally starting to understand why I occasionally want to grab him and go "this is your damned gender! Look at it! Do you see what's happening?! Now fucking help me fix it!".

So...thanks. You're awesome. :)

I live in Wisconsin and I agree...the work force treats women badly, especially those who have no work experience or have disabilities/mood disorders/or problems. So as an end result, they either don't hire you or pay you less. This is why I'm on SSI. I couldn't get hired anywhere because of my speech impediment and other disabilities that I was born with and I had no choice but to fall into that trap for income. Now the only way I could get out of this is if I went to college for something that pays well enough so I can drop SSI for good. But that option seems pretty doubtful as I don't know what to do with my life... It sucks. It really sucks. At least I can say that I tried.

Thank you. And thank you for tweeting about the Arizona bill.

Thank you for being vocal, for not letting people forget.

I used to roll my eyes a bit when people talked about how bad the Tories (UK) and GOP (US) were - I mean, I've seen conservative rule before and while it wasn't nice, I could not understand that level of _terror_.

Now we're two years into conservative rule in Britain, and the Tories are dismantling this country at a frightening rate - killing public services, wholesale heritage destruction, putting half a million people out of work, slashing benefits, dismantling the health service... and they have three years yet to go.

While meanwhile, merrily, the GOP are slashing women's rights left, right, and centre and looking the other way for each and every racist killing.

As someone quoted to me today: if you're not angry, you're not paying attention.

For serious. You gotta wonder just what the fuck they think they're doing. For a while I thought it was the last dying attempts of a few old white men to turn back the clock on a world to which they long lost all relevance... But it's grown so generalized. Are they trying to trigger a global uprising? What's to be gained from that?

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The thing about this that terrifies me the MOST is that I am sitting in an office job pushing paper as it were, like so many other people out there, when the world is change, while we sleep in many cases, and NO ONE even knows these things are going on. They slip through the cracks and no matter how hard I try in reading these things myself and forwarding them and doing those things, I know the majority of people don't know and don't care.

Well said. For everyone who thinks voting doesn't matter, well that's one way the GOP gets in.

Fuck 'em. And yes, keep telling the bastards that we won't put up with their crap!

Shit like this is why I don't entirely buy the Pub/Lib line that all badwrongstuff is because of big government. Sure, yeah, ok, when the Feds screw things up they can do so -royally-. But on the other hand, the only recourse you have when part of the country (or just its elected/appointed government) is reactionary or just plain insane is the rest of the country giving them a big message through the Feds -- because in the end, as long as the country isn't -actually- broken, the feds answer to us.

I'm hoping that things will get better in Wisconsin (and that not too many awful things will happen before they do).

In a mostly unrelated (and less directly important) note, I'm also pissed off at the moment about Patterson's "updated" version of the Flint Heart -- which is decidedly not updated enough. The Flint Heart in this book has 4 bearers in this book -- and -all- of them are males who are married to gentle women, each hurt horribly by their husband's turn into callous ambition. Oh, and then there's the fairy king (who is stern, powerful, and largely uncompromising) and the fairy queen (who knew--full of mercy and similar feelings)! Hello, Pattersons--1910 called, and they want their book back; meanwhile, if you're going to update something for the 21st century, it would be nice if you actually updated the things that needed updating, like not ramming 1910s ideas of sexual mores and roles down the throats of modern kids! The worst thing here is that the writing is itself delightful; if they'd just gotten rid of the outdated gender roles it would have been a great updating!

"And fuck you to everyone who told me to stop swearing about this on Twitter last night."

srsly. what the fuck was that bullshit anyway?!?!?

Someone said I had a potty mouth and they were getting the soap! WHAT THE FUCK.


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