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I had the opportunity a couple weeks ago to attend a session held by a local anti-trafficking group, during which I heard the most wonderful speaker, Benjamin Santamaria. He spoke less about what his organization does, and more about the issue overall, and the culture under which this problem has been permitted to flourish.

Human trafficking is a terrible problem; it’s hard to know how many people are trafficked every year, but women and children are particularly vulnerable to trafficking for sex as well as domestic slavery. Victims generally are stolen or sold from less developed nations and taken to wealthy western countries for these purposes, or are held within their own country or a neighbouring country and used by wealthy westerners who come to less developed countries for the purposes of sex tourism. It seems a lot of trafficked persons have family situations that make them vulnerable, from extreme poverty to abuse to orphanism. These are often people that are vulnerable because nobody is looking for them; they are disappeared and nobody knows.

Ben talked a lot about white western culture as a culture of domination. [this particularly incensed the young woman I was attending the talk with, for typical white liberal “white people shouldn’t have to feel guilty for what our ancestors did” reasons, but that’s not really what I want to talk about just yet; please keep it in mind for later, however.] He spoke of “white is right” attitudes, about how white settlers on this continent felt they conquered the indigenous populations who were already here (they didn’t), and that gave them the right to [attempt to] obliterate indigenous culture, language, and spirituality, replacing them with the laws, language, and religion of the white homeland (didn’t do that, either, but not for lack of trying – for the indomitable spirit of indigenous peoples). He spoke about the continuation of those attitudes in the here and now, and the richness that is missed by shutting ourselves off from learning from other cultures. He spoke about a lack of sprituality the dominance of religion can bring. He spoke about the soullessness of capitalism, the attitude that everything can and should be commodified – even human beings, human lives.

but, while this is a large problem that takes place at a societal level, Ben was careful to offer a solution. He expressed that the solution of public policies and international treaties was important, but that the underlying attitudes of individual people are what will really matter most.

hold on.

We spend a lot of time here and on other forums talking about patriarchy, white supremacy, heteronormativity, capitalism as being overarching structures, a “culture not a conspiracy.” We say, “we’re not talking about YOU as an individual; we’re talking about your default position within relations of power that are larger than just you, don’t take it personally, try to see yourself and your position as one within the matrix.”

Well, it hit home to me, listening to Ben speak, that this is true, but it also isn’t the end of the story.

Going back to how the woman I was sitting with was infuriated by Ben’s slam against white culture. She was completely and utterly pissed off by this, ranted on afterward about how white people have a culture too, and it’s just as important as other cultures, and how other cultures can’t be so great really because after all, look at how they treat their women. [yup, seriously. this is a woman who has done a lot of international development work. just goes to show you, I guess…]

I felt none of that righteous anger toward him for saying such things. I was nodding along with him! I wasn’t offended by anything he said about white people at all! Why is that? I thought about it for a while. At first, I just felt like, “well, he’s not talking about ME.” Not in a pin-a-rose-on-my-nose, I’m-not-a-racist way, but more in a culture-not-conspiracy kind of way. but then, that wasn’t quite it, either.

What Ben was talking about was individual responsibility. He was talking about how these attitudes are ingrained in the fabric of our society, but that we are individually responsible to and capable of unravelling ourselves from that fabric. He described a lot of things that we could do, individually, to change how we felt and believed some of the underlying attitudes that make human trafficking possible, that make it possible for people to be bought and sold on a global marketplace and used like they mean nothing.

He spoke about spirituality – not religion, not dogma, but spirituality. Belief that everyone has a soul, a spirit, a spiritual life that needs nourishment, that needs fulfilment. He spoke about sexism, and how men must not force women to do or be what we don’t want to do or be, but allow us to develop into our own beings, support us, get the hell out of our way. He talked about the mistreatment of the animals we use, from labour to entertainment to food. He talked about racism, and the belief held so dear by so many that white culture is dominant because it is superior. He spoke about capitalism, the commodification of everything under the sun – the land, the water, the sun itself – and how screwed up that is, because the earth is for everyone, it can nourish all of us, and yet we scramble to get our little tiny piece of it all for ourselves. He spoke about not buying these things, not buying into the capitalism matrix, not buying goods from countries where humans are trafficked, not watching TV, not watching CNN.

And you know? yeah. I felt myself nodding, moved by this message. YES! We are, individually, responsible for the attitudes and beliefs that we hold. We can only, ourselves, change those attitudes and beliefs. And that is the difference. When we work to achieve attitudes of love for others, of spirituality, of equality, of harmony with the world around us – that is when the guilt fades, that is when the righteous anger dissipates.

I know I’m not perfect. I know that my placement within the social stratification system of this country, this culture, gives me unearned privileges that I can’t exactly back out of. But. I know that I am trying. I know that in my heart, I am moving from those negative, overarching, dominant and dominating atittudes, maybe a little everyday, as an individual person. And so, I know he wasn’t talking about ME.

I say this not to hold myself up as a shining example of light, or for congratulatory backslaps and praise. I say this because it clicked a little deeper for me that day.

We ARE individually responsible, within this culture of domination. We must be HELD individually responsible for atrocities that happen to others, because OUR ATTITUDES OF DOMINATION have led to, have supported, have made possible, those atrocities. It’s not about guilt. It’s about movement. It’s about change. It’s about evolution. It’s about revolution.

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I am remiss to do this, but the infamous PUA thread is not loading properly anymore due to the abundance of comments. I am hereby closing comments on that thread, and opening this one to continue the discussion.

On that note, I received an email from a reader named Gary. Here’s part of what he had to say:

I read your stuff about PUA’s and how they are teaching men such horrible things […]   I am so glad and appreciative for what you wrote, I was beginning to think I was being dumb for not following these guys teachings, but I am glad I didn’t.  See how they play upon a man’s fears and desires? […] I treat women with respect and as human beings. I value their opinions, their thoughts,etc. The best part is when you meet someone and treat her well and she respects that and expects that ie-doesn’t take yuo for granted. Its not sex focused like these asshats preach. So the sexual tension builds naturally between both  people over time. It seems like it is so bad, that women are confused a bit when a guy like me approaches them to chat. It’s like I get murdered by assumptions. […] I only want one woman, but getting women here to see that is hard. I am not the typical nice guy who is scared to approach,etc. I am confident and nice and genuine, but my god, I have such a hard time. I am not bitter toward women, I am bitter toward these PUA’s who are ruining it for us and for all of you. [emphasis, of course, added; edited for privacy’s sake.]

Gary, thank you for writing.

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Yes, this is late. I was working an 11 hour shift on Friday, and when I got home I basically had a bath and fell asleep in front of the TV.

A recent report estimates stay at home mothers are doing the work of 10 different jobs (housekeeper, cook, day care center teacher, laundry machine operator, van driver, facilities manager, janitor, computer operator, chief executive officer and psychologist), work on average a 92 hour week (that’s 52 hours of overtime), and all this work, if it was paid, would be worth $138,095 USD a year. Women who work outside the home full-time would be paid an extra $85,939 for their domestic labour.

And instead, they are paid $0.

Now, I dunno about all those jobs – some of these (like psychologist, early childhood educator, and CEO) require a lot of formal education that many stay at home moms just don’t have (hat tip: DBB, who has a very different view on this than I do). Some of these I think are pretty accurate: laundry, cook (DBB didn’t like this one because he thinks it’s based on “chef” and that people who cook at restaurants don’t get paid to feed themselves, which is bogus because I know for a fact that many people who work at restaurants eat there for free everyday, sometimes twice a day, and also it really depends where they get their figures for this salary, because not all cooks are chefs with formal culinary training) driving, facilities manager – these all sound about right to me. Also, I think they could have added personal shopper and personal stylist in there, considering that most parents who stay at home end up doing all this sort of work as well.

However, I do want to talk about this a little bit. First of all, the report is framed as “stay at home MOTHERS” rather than “stay at home PARENTS” – which is reflective of reality in the majority of cases but doesn’t exactly help matters. There is nothing about any of these jobs that are gender-specific – just as there is nothing about ANY job that is gender-specific. More men are staying at home with their young children, and that leaves them out of the equation here. But I do wonder if stay at home DADS would be worth more money, seeing as men still get paid more for the same job as women. Just a small, tongue in cheek point, but perhaps one that shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Which brings me to my second point: none of these jobs are gender-specific, but many of them, and certainly all of them together under the name “stay at home mother” are naturalized as female jobs. Cooking and cleaning and childcare and laundry are all still seen as women’s work, and the argument is that women are “naturally” better at these things than men, because women have something inherent about them that makes them well-suited to this kind of labour (whether paid or unpaid).

 

But the main point I want to discuss is how domestic labour, the work of reproduction, is left out of the capitalist economy of production. Production work is the only work that is assigned a value in the capitalist system, but reproduction work is considered to be very different. It is considered to be a duty, an obligation, and thus undeserving of pay – a labour of love. This is work that we are supposed to be happy to do, to be grateful to do, in the name of our families and despite deep personal sacrifice, and doing that work is supposed to be fulfilling in and of itself. Indeed, this is work that is inherent to women, work that women are born to do. And so, many balk at the idea of assigning it a monetary value. That just seems so callous, so “unnatural”. By assigning this loving labour a value, a price, it suggests that perhaps this work is not “natural”, that these workers are not happy and grateful and fulfilled to do it, that perhaps the personal sacrifice is not made willingly.

But, truth be told, this is a heavy expectation. Every job has value to someone, and raising the next generation of people is a pretty important one, I think, on a broad social level. It’s time to start recognizing that mothering is a job, it is work, and it is difficult. Recognizing the “labour” part doesn’t automatically negate the “love” part – it simply gives credit where credit is way overdue.

And so, I support this report, despite my hesitations with a few of the items included. I support it in principle because I do not believe any role should be naturalized, nor should anyone be made to feel like they must play a role to be a “real” woman (or man). This report helps to identify institutionalized gender essentialism, and I’m all for breaking that shit apart.

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I thought I’d post a paper I recently wrote about the link between environmental protection and population control, and how population control practices and policies are bad for women of colour. I wish I had had more space to really delve into things a bit further, but this was only a 6 page assignment.

 

Population Control & Environmental Protection: Misplaced Coercion

Population control programs in less-developed countries have often been implemented under the guise of environmental protection and to the detriment of indigenous people, as part of a global campaign of environmental racism. I will argue that this practice is unethical and coercive, and that what is really required is for developed countries to reduce their own consumption of global resources.

In 1968, Paul Ehrlich’sbook, The Population Bomb, set off a maelstrom of debate and panic among scholars and the general public alike. Ehrlich argued that the environment was in distress due to unrestricted population growth, and that if left unchecked, the earth’s resources would be exhausted. In a supporting article, Ehrlich urged developed countries to spend resources on programs aimed at family planning (Ehrlich, 1971: 14). Garrett Hardin argued that the population-environment crisis is a “tragedy of the commons” where some are taking more than their fair share of the earth’s resources by having too many children, and that this will lead to environmental destruction. (Hardin, 1971: 67; Hardin 1974) His solution is conceptually simple: “If we want to keep the rest of our freedoms we must restrict the freedom to breed” (Hardin, 1971: 67). While neither explicitly cite less-developed countries as the source of the over-population problem, the implicit meaning is clear: societies where having many children is the norm (not developed countries) are responsible for environmental destruction, and population control programs must be implemented there.

The idea that population growth, if left unrestricted, would cause environmental devastation for the entire world was quite influential during the 1970s and 80s. Indebtedness by less-developed countries to Western “benefactors” was growing, and structural adjustment policies became the main option for continued aid – and came to include population control policies. In 1986, the World Bank reported “The current objective of population control programs is to curb population growth in developing countries” (World Bank, 1986, in Pillai & Wang, 1995: 12, emphasis added). In Senegal, the World Bank required that the government adopt a population control policy as a condition for receiving SAP loans (Banderage, 1999: 65). Population control programs have relied heavily on contraception funded and provided by Western government-sponsored organizations such as USAID, UNFPA, and the World Bank, and the U.S. government has consistently been the largest donor for population control programs in less-developed countries (Pillai & Wang, 1999: 12, 46; Banderage, 1999: 65).

The “disaster ethic” held by Ehrlich and Hardin focuses on ends rather than means. Ehrlich wrote, “[T]he price of personal freedom in making childbearing decisions may be the destruction of the world” (Ehrlich, in Banderage, 1999: 37). This model associates overpopulation with everything from women’s subordination to environmental destruction, and blames the victims: “the primary targets of programs were women’s bodies” (Silliman, 1995: 256). Population control programs have become equated with primarily female fertility reduction policies (Pillai & Wang, 1999: 46), and have historically been implemented only in less-developed countries, poor communities of colour in developed countries, and populations such as the physically and mentally disabled, where poverty is wide-spread and basic needs are not met due to social inequalities. The preferred methods of population control programs are long-term or permanent methods controlled by family planning authorities and clinic personnel, not by the women themselves (Silliman, 1995: 256).  These programs have often been coercive, involving uninformed and non-consensual implementation of sterilization and long-term pregnancy-avoidance products such as Norplant, Depo-Provera, and IUDs, and reproductive technologies considered unsafe, untested, and unapproved or banned in developed countries (Wangari, 2002: 306-307).

Sterilization accounts for 45% of contraception in developing countries, and extraordinarily high sterilization rates exist in some countries: 85.5% in Nepal, 69.7% in India, 66.1% in the Dominican Republic, 49.2% in China, 47.9% in Sri Lanka, 44% in Brazil, 41.3% in Thailand, and 37.7% in Mexico (Banderage, 1999: 68). Furthermore, although vasectomy is a far less complicated procedure, “female sterilization is the most favored method of family planners and the most widely used method of fertility control in the world,” and abuse and coercion is not uncommon (Banderage, 1999: 69). Highly unethical methods such as monetary incentives for sterilization “acceptors” and providers, punitive measures for those refusing sterilization, the requirement of a sterilization certificate for employment, lack of informed consent, and even direct force have been used against women and men in less-developed countries in order to reduce birth rates (Banderage, 1999: 71-80). In some instances, sterilization took place in non-sterile and unsanitary conditions and post-operative care was minimal to non-existent, as in Bangladesh, and India, where “speed doctors” perform some 300-500 female sterilization laparoscopies in mass sterilization camps (Banderage, 1999: 72, 77). In China, whose population policy is to achieve negative population growth, eugenic sterilization of mentally disabled and Tibetan women combines with a coercive set of incentives and disincentives in their infamous one-child policy (Banderage, 1999: 78-79). Non-surgical methods of female contraception, such as oral contraceptives, IUDs, Norplant, and Depo-Provera, have been administered in less-developed countries even when they had been banned or untested in developed countries. Esther Wangari writes, “This is blunt racism against the people of colour. Their bodies and their families become nothing but testing and dumping grounds for the new and banned reproductive technologies of the West” (Wangari, 2002: 308).

Meanwhile, developed countries continue to over-consume, directing their attentions to resources in less-developed countries. Large Western-owned corporations exploit heavy debt burdens experienced by less-developed countries to make resource extraction deals for timber, oil, and mining products in less-developed countries. Less-developed countries desperate to increase exports and repay loans are at the mercy of corporations eager to plunder third-world resources: “In a rush to lay claim to valuable resources, foreign companies destroy the local environment and endanger the cultural and often physical survival of the indigenous people who populate it” (Weissman, 1993: 188).

There is reason to be deeply suspicious of the deployment of reproductive technologies in less-developed countries by Western development organizations, while simultaneously, structural adjustment policies restrict economic development and allow for the depletion of third-world resources by Western corporations (Wangari, 2002: 302).  Social and cultural factors are not considered by population control programs; for example, failure to bear children can lead to ostracization and brutality for women, and for poor families in less-developed countries, children are economic assets and not liabilities (Banderage, 1999: 159-160). Each child adds only marginal cost, but the economic return on the labour they provide for their families is far greater. The environmental problems faced by the world are not caused by the poor in less-developed countries; the poor are as much victims as the environment, and are scapegoats for the real culprit: unequal distribution of power, wealth, control of resources, and overconsumption in the global population (Banderage, 1999: 187; Wangari 2002: 306).

Afffluent lifestyles in developed countries pose a serious threat to the global ecosystem. Developed countries are responsible for consuming the majority of the world’s animal meat – and subsequently 40% of the world’s grain used to feed livestock; own the majority of the world’s automobiles –a major producer of greenhouse gas emissions contributing to global warming; and account for approximately 75% of the world’s raw materials and energy use (Banderage, 1999: 229-232). Furthermore, “although industrialized nations in the North are responsible overwhelmingly for production of greenhouse gases, the effects are global; some of the worst effects are felt in some of the poorest countries” (Banderage, 1999: 233).

The real population problem does not lie with less-developed countries, but in the population of the developed countries who are consuming resources at an alarming rate. Yet, these populations have not been targeted on the same scale for consumption reduction as less-developed countries have been for population control and fertility reduction, which have been justified in the name of environmental and resource protection. This apparent discrepancy comes from the fact that “the rich contribute to market expansion through their profligate consumption, while the poor, who lack purchasing power, are superfluous to capitalist growth” (Banderage, 1999: 234).

In conclusion, less-developed countries are being blamed for environmental destruction and resource consumption, and are being coercively and unethically targeted with contraceptive measures aimed at population/fertility reduction, the subjects of which are overwhelmingly poor women of colour, while the real culprits are overconsumptive populations in developed countries. The solution to the problem of environmental degradation, then, does not lie with population control policies implemented in less-developed countries. The solution to the problem of global environmental degradation must target the source: unequal distribution of power, wealth, control of resources, and overconsumption in the global population. Esther Wangari writes, “It is Western countries, it appears to me, that need ‘family consumption planning clinics’” (Wangari, 2002: 306, 308). I couldn’t agree more.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. Bandarage, Asoka (1997). Women, Population, and Global Crisis: A Political- Economic Analysis. London UK: Zed Books.
  2. Ehrlich, Paul (1971). “The Population Crisis: Where We Stand” in Population, Environment & People, ed. Noël Hinrichs. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company. 8-16.
  3. Hardin, Garrett (1971). “Population, Pollution, and Political Systems” in Population, Environment & People, ed. Noël Hinrichs. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company. 59-68.
  4. Pillai, Vijayan K. and Wang, Guang-zhen (1999). Women’s Reproductive Rights in Developing Countries. Aldershot UK and Brookfield, VE: Ashgate Publishing.
  5. Silliman, Jael M. (1995). “Ethics, Family Planning, Status of Women, and the Environment” in Population, Consumption, and the Environment: Religious and Secular Responses, ed. Harold Coward. Albany NY: State Unniversity of New York Press. 251-261.
  6. Wangari, Esther (2002). “Reproductive Technologies: A Third World Feminist Perspective” in Feminist Post-Development Thought: Rethinking Modernity, Postcolonialism and Representation. London UK: Zed Books. 298-312.
  7. Weissman, Robert (1993). “Corporate Plundering of Third-World Resources” in Toxic Struggles: The Theory and Practice of Environmental Justice, ed. Richard Hofrichter. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers. 186-196.

Thoughts, folks?

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in a couple weeks, I will be participating in a video conference with the head of the IMF. We’ve been asked to put together a list of questions for him to answer. I have a couple questions already, but I thought I would ask you:

What would YOU ask the head of the IMF if you had the chance?

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seriously. Sam sent me a link to this article, in Aussie online mag The Age, which is all about these men who earn their living teaching other men to be smarmy in bars and other social events. I post it as fair warning to women: men are willing to pay someone to teach them how to trick you into thinking they are charming so they can get into your pants. And some men are willing to take that money.

Wellington has taken at least a dozen phone numbers tonight, but he has no intention of using them. Tonight’s about business, not pleasure: it is his job to teach men the art of seduction. He is a professional pick-up artist.

“At a very young age I learnt that I liked these soft, curvy, nice-smelling things called girls,” Wellington says. “So I started to teach men how to be better in their presence.” That’s putting it mildly. [emphasis mine]

Wellington and his friend James Marshall run a business called The Natural, offering weekend workshops in seduction. These cover skills such as body language, conversation, presentation and “touch training”. Two days of intensive, one-on-one tuition costs $880.

So, these guys think they are teaching men how to be “natural” with women. It couldn’t be that they’re teaching men how to be sleazy and dishonest? Why is it that teaching men to be confident with women is automatically about tricking women into thinking the man is something he’s not – smooth, suave, charming? Then again, the whole thing is about performance – gender is one big long performance, an imitation that really has no original in the first place, and why shouldn’t we just learn to be different at it? I dunno, maybe because nothing is honest in this world anymore! Nobody knows how to be honest with one another! At least, not when it comes to sex. Here’s more:

“What we’ve got now is a big generation of closet heterosexuals being quite asexual in their approach to women. They become their best friend, but their own worst enemies. I call it ‘Best Friend Syndrome’.” Marshall calls such men “moths”.


“Hovering around the light, banging their heads against it occasionally,” he says. “People occasionally say to me ‘you guys are womanisers, this is a sleazy thing to be teaching’. And I say, ‘well, what I think the most sleazy thing is pretending to be a girl’s friend for three years waiting for a moment of vulnerability’.”

Marshall and Wellington aren’t alone in their belief that men are now sexually neutered and need to regroup. [emphasis mine]

Oh yeah, men are ‘sexually neutered’ in our society. Everything from advertising to movies to TV to music to fashion treats women like objects to be used for male sexual graitification, objects that couldn’t possibly have a sexuality of their own to express, but men are ‘sexually neutered’ – sure, I’ll buy that. When monkeys fly out of my ass.

Get ready, girls. This is how they do it. Memorize this shit, so you know exactly what to watch out for (for the record, the guys in this article don’t teach this method, they teach one that they claim is more ‘direct’ – this method comes from asshats in California who run a similar woman-tricking business):

“Indirect gaming” is counterintuitive. Don’t talk to the “hot babe” (HB) or “super hot babe” (SHB) you’re interested in; talk to her friend and look like you’re having a great time. Next try a “neg” — a backhanded compliment to show the woman you are indifferent to her beauty.

(“Beautiful nails — are they real?”; “Nice dress — I saw it on another girl just a minute ago.”)

Once the HB’s interest is piqued, you could lead her up a “yes ladder”, asking questions that require an obvious affirmative answer. (“Can I ask you a question?” leads to “Are you adventurous?” leads to “Can you prove it?”).

Gross, right? Treat her a little bit like shit, then she’ll like you and think you’re clever and charming. Women, learn these methods well. Don’t get sucked in.

[One man] has a different agenda; he has paid for wingmen services, but will not say with whom. He refuses any form of identification, but is at pains to explain that he is no Average Frustrated Chump.

“In the year or so I’ve been in the Lair I’ve approached probably 10,000 women and slept with about 100.” But he says there was a problem with the “quality of women”; the wingmen services allowed him to zero in on better “targets”. [emphasis mine]

“Sarah” is that sort of target.

She believes she uncovered a pick-up artist on a date last year. “We were at a bar just talking and it became quite obvious that this guy had a method,” she says. “He was very smooth, very attentive, very focused on the conversation like there was no one else in the room.

“But when I challenged him he was quite honest with me — he told me how he has a particular way of picking up women, that he usually picks them up just for sex, that he would never go for somebody who’s not a ‘9’ or a ’10’ on a scale of 1-10.

“He said to me ‘you’re not a 9 or a 10 but, I don’t know, I was intrigued’.”

A classic “neg”, but Sarah wasn’t biting. So the PUA went for broke and suggested to Sarah that she might like a slot on his “sexual roster”.

“I pulled away and said ‘sorry, I don’t go on people’s rosters’. I’m single and I’m thinking to myself, ‘is this what I’m out there facing’? I’m hoping to God I don’t come across them too often.”

Sarah says the revelation of pick-up strategies made her feel physically ill.

“There’s no serendipity or consideration for the other person’s feelings. It was just so male-centric and one-sided that I was just absolutely disgusted.

“I feel like we’re saturating ourselves with the desire to be with somebody and not actually just going out and living our life and being open and giving ourselves a chance. And the pool of respectable gentlemen is narrowing.”

Three cheers for Sarah! God, the ego of these men – “quality targets”? Jesus. Where is there any room for honesty, for authentic feeling (beyond sexual arousal)? With all the trickery going on here, we only distance ourselves further from the chance for anything genuine at all. Didn’t these people see “Hitch”?

Wellington and Marshall heartily disagree. They say their “direct” method eschews the Jedi mind tricks and ridiculous aliases of the “indirect” school.


“It is ‘natural game’ and it’s direct,” Marshall says. “Being honest; showing that you think they’re attractive; showing that you admire them; or showing your intentions straight off.

It’s not about the opener, not through what you say — it’s just how you’re feeling inside and how you’re expressing that.”

Note: these ‘direct’ moves include things like how to stand, when and where to touch a woman (on the arm, the on the small of the back), and *exactly what to say*. Yeah. Real “natural.”

So, this is what we’re dealing with out there in the world of hetero dating. Predators teaching men to be predators. And getting paid very well to do it. Maybe I’ll start a business of my own, and I’ll call myself a date doctor, and instead of teaching men sleazy tricks to get into a woman’s pants, I’ll teach them how to actually treat women with respect. But, oh, wait – a business like that won’t make any money! The ones that make money are the ones that teach men to trick women. Because apparently, some men would rather learn how to trick a woman than learn how to be respectful and genuine.

[Sam, muchos gracias.]

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I received this email yesterday from one Catherine Conover, associate editor at New Moon magazine. They’re spearheading a campaign to get young women across america writing letters to congress about the things that they feel are important politically. Here’s what Catherine had to say:

Dear Thinking Girl:

I thought you might be interested in the efforts of a group of girls ages 8-14 are undertaking to bring girls’ voices to Congress. The Girls Editorial Board of New Moon Magazine is urging girls everywhere to write to Congress before March 1, 2007. For more info, please see the press release below and our “Letter to Congress” website, www.newmoon.org/congress. Also, please check out one girl’s response to President Bush’s Jan. 10th address.

Any help you can provide in getting the word out would be greatly appreciated!

Best,

Catherine Conover
Associate Editor & Communications Coordinator

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Girls Across the Nation Write to Congress
New Moon Leads Campaign

DULUTH, Minn. (January 2007) – Instead of asking for submissions to the magazine, the Girls Editorial Board of New Moon: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams is asking girls to send them letters to Congress. The Girls Editorial Board plans to bring girls’ voices to Congress this spring.

“This is an exciting movement,” said former Girls Editorial Board member Clare Dougan, 15. “Girls across the country have a chance to be one united voice.”

The 14 girls on the New Moon’s Board already published their own letter to Congress-the January/February 2007 issue of New Moon Magazine. Themed “Letter to Congress,” the issue features contributions from 67 girls from around the nation. The girls write about the political issues that
affect their lives, addressing everything from animal rights to the war in Iraq.

The Girls Editorial Board hopes their “Letter to Congress” will inspire thousands of girls to write their OWN letters to Congress. Girls can go to www.newmoon.org/congress to find out who represents them in Congress,get letter-writing tips, and download special postcards. New Moon will collect girls’ letters to Congress through March 1, 2007.

The Girls Editorial Board hopes to hand-deliver the letters they collect-along with copies of the magazine-to every member of Congress later this spring. They’ll ask Congress members to read the issue and respond to girls’ concerns.

“It’s exciting that Congress is (hopefully!) going to hear what we have
to say!” said Girls Editorial Board member Selene Emad-Syring, age 12.

Celebrating 14 years of publication, New Moon is a six-time winner of a
prestigious Parents’ Choice Foundation Gold Award for “Best Children’s
Magazine” and 2006 winner of the Golden Lamp Award from the Associationof Educational Publishers. New Moon’s Girls Editorial Board-a revolvinggroup of girls ages 8-14-chooses the theme, articles, artwork and coverdesign for each issue. Girls from around the world contribute 80 percentof the magazine’s content.

How great is that? I for one LOVE IT. I’ll keep my eye on this to see what issues young girls are concerned about. Getting girls thinking about political issues, and getting involved in the political process, is a wonderful thing. Girls need a voice in a society where they are growing up amongst all sorts of increasing pressures that detract from their girlhood and train them to be certain ways.

On that note, I want to refer readers to Packaging Girlhood, a wonderful blog that discusses the patriarchal-capitalist manipulation of young girls, based around the book of the same name. It’s super – great deconstructive analysis of marketing campaigns and products aimed at young girls.

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