With New York legalizing gay marriage, more and more children will be exposed to same-sex couples (much to the chagrin of conservatives). Here is great video of one little boy's reaction to seeing his first gay couple -- watch how he figures things out:

 

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Cory Gardner Cites Nonexistent Entity as a Supporter of His Contraception Proposal

Rep. Gardner produced an advertisement citing the “American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists”—which does not exist—as a backer of his proposal to sell contraception over-the-counter.

An advertisement arriving in Colorado mailboxes this week promotes Republican senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s proposal to make “birth control available over-the-counter to adults without a prescription.”

“Cory would ensure women would be able to get the medicine that they need over the counter and around-the-clock, saving you time and improving your life,” the mailer states.

The ad continues:

Supported by the American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Cory’s proposal would make oral contraception: Less expensive — about the price of Aspirin; More convenient — helping women obtain The Pill on their own schedule without an appointment; More accessible — ensures women in underserved urban and rural areas have greater ability to obtain The Pill.

The American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, however, appears to be a nonexistent entity.

A Google search for the “American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists” returns references to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

After seeing the Gardner mailer, Kate Connors, ACOG Media Relations Director, told RH Reality Check via email, “For all I know, there is an AAOG out there, somewhere, but it has certainly never come to my attention. I dare say that the mailer’s reference to it is an error.”

Connors said that it was also an “error” for Gardner to suggest that “we have supported his proposal.”

Connors pointed to a September 9 ACOG statement that over-the-counter sale of contraception is a long-term goal, not a proposal it supports currently.

“We feel strongly, however, that [over-the-counter] access to contraceptives should be part of a broader dialogue about improving women’s health care, preventing unintended pregnancies, and increasing use of contraception, including long-acting reversible contraception (LARC),” said ACOG President John C. Jennings in a statement posted on the organization’s website. “Over-the-counter access should not be used as a political tool by candidates or by elected officials.”

The mailer was marked with the logo of “Cory Gardner for Senate” and included the URL for the candidate’s official campaign website. Gardner is facing U.S. Sen. Mark Udall in what is widely considered a toss-up race, and one that could determine control of the Senate.

A person who answered the phone at Gardner’s campaign office insisted a reporter send an email seeking clarification about the mailer. Gardner’s office did not reply via email.

“Although it poses few risks and would make the pill cheaper,” states Gardner’s mailer, “Udall continues to keep bureaucrats between you and your health-care plan. … Udall will not fight for Colorado’s women.”

“But we need cost-free, insured coverage for birth control, and that needs to include IUDs,” Connor wrote. “And don’t forget that all of the Congressional candidate proposals in the world won’t make birth control available over the counter, because it hasn’t been approved by the FDA.”

Politifact.com, in a September 8 analysis, judged Gardner’s claim about the pill being cheaper if sold over-the-counter as “mostly false,” in light of various uncertainties as well as the fact that, under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies cannot charge policy holders a co-pay for preventive health care, including contraception.

Pro-choice organizations are wary of Gardner’s plan.

“We can’t trust what Congressman Gardner says about putting birth control over the counter, because he doesn’t understand the real-life implications for women,” Cathy Alderman, vice president for public affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, told RH Reality Check. “Women need to be able to talk to medical professionals about what birth control they need. A carte blanche over-the-counter approach doesn’t take that into consideration.”

Alderman added that Gardner’s proposal is not allowed under Affordable Care Act, which prohibits over-the-counter medicines from being covered by insurance plans. So under current policy, birth control that’s now available without a co-pay for most women under the ACA would cost $600 or more per year.

Image: Cory Gardner / YouTube

The post Cory Gardner Cites Nonexistent Entity as a Supporter of His Contraception Proposal appeared first on RH Reality Check.


RH Reality Check's picture

Cory Gardner Cites Nonexistent Entity as a Supporter of His Contraception Proposal

Rep. Gardner produced an advertisement citing the “American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists”—which does not exist—as a backer of his proposal to sell contraception over-the-counter.

An advertisement arriving in Colorado mailboxes this week promotes Republican senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s proposal to make “birth control available over-the-counter to adults without a prescription.”

“Cory would ensure women would be able to get the medicine that they need over the counter and around-the-clock, saving you time and improving your life,” the mailer states.

The ad continues:

Supported by the American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Cory’s proposal would make oral contraception: Less expensive — about the price of Aspirin; More convenient — helping women obtain The Pill on their own schedule without an appointment; More accessible — ensures women in underserved urban and rural areas have greater ability to obtain The Pill.

The American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, however, appears to be a nonexistent entity.

A Google search for the “American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists” returns references to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

After seeing the Gardner mailer, Kate Connors, ACOG Media Relations Director, told RH Reality Check via email, “For all I know, there is an AAOG out there, somewhere, but it has certainly never come to my attention. I dare say that the mailer’s reference to it is an error.”

Connors said that it was also an “error” for Gardner to suggest that “we have supported his proposal.”

Connors pointed to a September 9 ACOG statement that over-the-counter sale of contraception is a long-term goal, not a proposal it supports currently.

“We feel strongly, however, that [over-the-counter] access to contraceptives should be part of a broader dialogue about improving women’s health care, preventing unintended pregnancies, and increasing use of contraception, including long-acting reversible contraception (LARC),” said ACOG President John C. Jennings in a statement posted on the organization’s website. “Over-the-counter access should not be used as a political tool by candidates or by elected officials.”

The mailer was marked with the logo of “Cory Gardner for Senate” and included the URL for the candidate’s official campaign website. Gardner is facing U.S. Sen. Mark Udall in what is widely considered a toss-up race, and one that could determine control of the Senate.

A person who answered the phone at Gardner’s campaign office insisted a reporter send an email seeking clarification about the mailer. Gardner’s office did not reply via email.

“Although it poses few risks and would make the pill cheaper,” states Gardner’s mailer, “Udall continues to keep bureaucrats between you and your health-care plan. … Udall will not fight for Colorado’s women.”

“But we need cost-free, insured coverage for birth control, and that needs to include IUDs,” Connor wrote. “And don’t forget that all of the Congressional candidate proposals in the world won’t make birth control available over the counter, because it hasn’t been approved by the FDA.”

Politifact.com, in a September 8 analysis, judged Gardner’s claim about the pill being cheaper if sold over-the-counter as “mostly false,” in light of various uncertainties as well as the fact that, under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies cannot charge policy holders a co-pay for preventive health care, including contraception.

Pro-choice organizations are wary of Gardner’s plan.

“We can’t trust what Congressman Gardner says about putting birth control over the counter, because he doesn’t understand the real-life implications for women,” Cathy Alderman, vice president for public affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, told RH Reality Check. “Women need to be able to talk to medical professionals about what birth control they need. A carte blanche over-the-counter approach doesn’t take that into consideration.”

Alderman added that Gardner’s proposal is not allowed under Affordable Care Act, which prohibits over-the-counter medicines from being covered by insurance plans. So under current policy, birth control that’s now available without a co-pay for most women under the ACA would cost $600 or more per year.

Image: Cory Gardner / YouTube

The post Cory Gardner Cites Nonexistent Entity as a Supporter of His Contraception Proposal appeared first on RH Reality Check.


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Number of Women in the Running To Be Next Attorney General

With the announcement of Eric Holder’s departure as attorney general has come the inevitable speculation over who his replacement might be. Much of that speculation is credibly pointing toward a female candidate.

Charles Ogletree, a longtime friend of Holder and a onetime Harvard teacher and mentor of Barack and Michelle Obama, repeatedly used the word “she” when referring to Holder’s potential replacement in an interview with MSNBC on Saturday.

“I’m not gonna put her name out,” Ogletree said. “We’ll just see what happens, because I don’t want her to not be able to be confirmed by the Senate.”

Some of the most frequently mentioned names have been male: Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who said on Thursday that the job is “not one for me right now”; Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who defended the Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court; and Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, who is already known for busting Wall Street fraud and who would be the first Indian-American attorney general if picked.

There have also been plenty of female names floated as potential candidates.

Former Homeland Security secretary and current president of the University of California Janet Napolitano is one. There was considerable buzz around Kamala Harris, California’s attorney general, but she has said that she intends to stay in California. Other names include Loretta Lynch, another U.S. attorney in New York; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who has said she has no interest; and former White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler.

Harris would have been an historic choice, the first female attorney general with African-American or South Asian ancestry.

Another potential history maker in the position would be Jenny Durkan, who recently stepped down as the U.S. attorney in Seattle and who is openly lesbian.

LGBT advocacy groups are rooting for her, and Durkan seemingly hasn’t ruled out taking the position; her spokesperson said it would “not be appropriate” to comment on the speculation.

Durkan would also be a noteworthy pick because she has done extensive work on police accountability and civil rights, key issues for Holder, especially in the wake of police clashes with Ferguson, Missouri, residents.

The White House hasn’t given any indication of who the nominee could be or when the announcement might be made. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who will have a key role in confirming a nominee, is urging the president to act soon, and says that picking a new attorney general should not be a partisan issue. 

A New York Times review found that since the Carter administration, the Senate has taken an average of 18 days to confirm an attorney general nominee once the White House has officially submitted one, and 42 days between the president’s first public announcement of a nominee’s name and the final confirmation.

The earliest Obama could officially submit a nominee would be November 12, which would mean a confirmation date of November 30 if this is a typical nomination process.

Whether this process will be average remains to be seen, since it will be a politically contentious nomination.

If Democrats lose the Senate in the November midterm elections, they could still confirm a new attorney general before the year is out. Republicans, who were strongly opposed to Holder, won’t be pleased to retake the Senate only to have the power of confirming Holder’s replacement mostly out of their hands. Since Democrats made a significant change to Senate rules this year that ended the filibuster for nominations like this one, a simple majority is all it would take.

Republicans could still delay the process by up to a month, though—three weeks in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and a week on the Senate floor.

Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), said Monday that confirming a nominee during the lame-duck session would “take a lot of oxygen out of the air” and “poison the well even further.”

Cornyn did, however, indicate that he could support Kathryn Ruemmler for the position.

The post Number of Women in the Running To Be Next Attorney General appeared first on RH Reality Check.


RH Reality Check's picture

Number of Women in the Running To Be Next Attorney General

With the announcement of Eric Holder’s departure as attorney general has come the inevitable speculation over who his replacement might be. Much of that speculation is credibly pointing toward a female candidate.

Charles Ogletree, a longtime friend of Holder and a onetime Harvard teacher and mentor of Barack and Michelle Obama, repeatedly used the word “she” when referring to Holder’s potential replacement in an interview with MSNBC on Saturday.

“I’m not gonna put her name out,” Ogletree said. “We’ll just see what happens, because I don’t want her to not be able to be confirmed by the Senate.”

Some of the most frequently mentioned names have been male: Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who said on Thursday that the job is “not one for me right now”; Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who defended the Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court; and Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, who is already known for busting Wall Street fraud and who would be the first Indian-American attorney general if picked.

There have also been plenty of female names floated as potential candidates.

Former Homeland Security secretary and current president of the University of California Janet Napolitano is one. There was considerable buzz around Kamala Harris, California’s attorney general, but she has said that she intends to stay in California. Other names include Loretta Lynch, another U.S. attorney in New York; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who has said she has no interest; and former White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler.

Harris would have been an historic choice, the first female attorney general with African-American or South Asian ancestry.

Another potential history maker in the position would be Jenny Durkan, who recently stepped down as the U.S. attorney in Seattle and who is openly lesbian.

LGBT advocacy groups are rooting for her, and Durkan seemingly hasn’t ruled out taking the position; her spokesperson said it would “not be appropriate” to comment on the speculation.

Durkan would also be a noteworthy pick because she has done extensive work on police accountability and civil rights, key issues for Holder, especially in the wake of police clashes with Ferguson, Missouri, residents.

The White House hasn’t given any indication of who the nominee could be or when the announcement might be made. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who will have a key role in confirming a nominee, is urging the president to act soon, and says that picking a new attorney general should not be a partisan issue. 

A New York Times review found that since the Carter administration, the Senate has taken an average of 18 days to confirm an attorney general nominee once the White House has officially submitted one, and 42 days between the president’s first public announcement of a nominee’s name and the final confirmation.

The earliest Obama could officially submit a nominee would be November 12, which would mean a confirmation date of November 30 if this is a typical nomination process.

Whether this process will be average remains to be seen, since it will be a politically contentious nomination.

If Democrats lose the Senate in the November midterm elections, they could still confirm a new attorney general before the year is out. Republicans, who were strongly opposed to Holder, won’t be pleased to retake the Senate only to have the power of confirming Holder’s replacement mostly out of their hands. Since Democrats made a significant change to Senate rules this year that ended the filibuster for nominations like this one, a simple majority is all it would take.

Republicans could still delay the process by up to a month, though—three weeks in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and a week on the Senate floor.

Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), said Monday that confirming a nominee during the lame-duck session would “take a lot of oxygen out of the air” and “poison the well even further.”

Cornyn did, however, indicate that he could support Kathryn Ruemmler for the position.

The post Number of Women in the Running To Be Next Attorney General appeared first on RH Reality Check.


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MRAs for Jesus: A Look Inside the Christian ‘Manosphere’

cross

When I wrote an article for The Frisky about my journey into sexual experience and losing my virginity, I knew that it would garner some criticism. But I don’t think any amount of research could have prepared me for the level of vitriol I provoked from one group in particular: Christian masculinists, who apparently spend much of their time online lambasting modern men and women for not adhering to biblically based gender roles. As blatantly sexist as their views are, though, their arguments are often eerily similar to those espoused by mainstream conservative evangelicals.

“Slutting Made Her a Better Christian,” read the title of one post on a popular personal blog linking to my piece. Another site declared me a “false prophet” and warned that I was a “wolf in the pen.” Still more commenters showed up in my Twitter mentions, informing me that because I’d broken a “blood covenant,” another blood sacrifice—presumably my own—would be necessary to atone for my deeds. In their eyes, I was a “slut,” a “whore,” and a “temple prostitute,” as well as a “liar,” and a “deceived, wicked jezebel,” all for having the gall to fool around with someone on a loveseat before I was married to them.

These were just a few of the responses I received from Christian masculinists, part of the loosely amalgamated corner of the Internet known by its own denizens as the “manosphere.” The manosphere consists of several groups, the most visible of which are “men’s rights activists,” or MRAs. Though they overlap in complicated and variegated fashions, they have one thing in common: a disillusionment with women in general, and by extension, feminism.

In this regard, Christian masculinists are no exception. Members of their community, which seems to have formed in the comments sections of several popular blogs, believe that feminism has destroyed the church and that modern Christian men too willingly submit to female leadership. Many of these users post as anonymously as they can manage in this day and age, but references made to various preferences and ideologues indicate that there is a strong probability that most of them are white, straight, and cisgender. Several prominent masculinist bloggers are single men in their late 20s, angry with the fact that they have not yet found a partner; still more, however, are fathers who are either divorced or struggling with existing marriages.

Evidently in response to these personal woes, masculinists have fused manosphere rhetoric with what they see as “biblical” gender roles to envision a hierarchical, patriarchal ideal world. As far as many are concerned, society’s problems—which include war, famine, pestilence, high divorce rates, and anything else they find objectionable—are the result of people walking away from God’s plan for their lives, in which men are leaders and women are followers.

Therefore, much like the rest of the manosphere, they believe the “feminization” of men is largely to blame for what they regard as civilization’s collapse. In a 42-page blog post called “The Misandry Bubble,” published on the Futurist blog and regarded as a manifesto by many in the movement, a user who goes by “The Fifth Horseman” writes:

[The devaluing of men leads to] the normalization of single motherhood (obviously with taxpayer subsidies), despite the reality that most single mothers are not victims, but merely women who rode a carousel of men with reckless abandon. This, in turn, leads to fatherless young men growing up being told that natural male behavior is wrong, and feminization is normal. It also leads to women being deceived outright about the realities of the sexual market, where media attempts to normalize single motherhood … rather than portrayed as the undesirable conditions they are [sic].

While the majority of the manosphere relies on evolutionary psychology to justify humans’ allegedly “natural” gender roles, Christian masculinists believe that women are obligated by the Bible to fulfill these responsibilities.

So in order to prevent certain doom, humans must adhere to a few specific theological tenets. Christians, women in particular, should remain virgins until marriage. Women have a duty to follow their husband’s direction and to defer to him in all decisions. A woman’s main priority is to be the caretaker of the home. Gender is immutable and deterministic: If you are assigned female at birth, you must live with this burden of motherhood and servanthood. These decrees, though especially important for Christians, are not restricted to churchgoers alone.

When women do not conform to such expectations, masculinists claim, they’re defying God’s will and prompting societal downfall. Therefore, women who take charge of their own bodies and fight for the independence to be seen as fully functioning human beings must have been taken in by “politically correct” feminist culture.

As one commenter on my post on The Frisky put it [emphasis original]:

The problem is the fact that we have a feminist culture and a feminist legal system that encourages that particular bad trait among women, and then rewards women when they succumb to it. Sadly, the churches, which ought to stand firm against this nonsense in the culture, is failing at the task of even policing it in their own pews.

Essentially, because modern feminism discourages automatic submission to men, women have begun to expect to be treated with respect and authority. Using this logic, Christian masculinists largely interpret sex-positivity—including having sex before marriage—as symbolic of female agency as a whole. And in turn, they see this as a path to sin. For example, another commenter wrote in response to my article:

Women’s entitlement mentality [toward sex] is insatiable, and no doubt related to their rejection of all authority in their lives, including God’s authority. Women want it all, they want it now; amoral, with no conception of consequences of actions, cause and effect. This is why I still find it difficult to believe that women love to submit to the ‘Alpha’ man; if they do, it has nothing to do with their respect for, and need of authority. Women do not even realize they need authority/discipline in their lives.

“Alpha,” which refers to a ranking system of men by Greek letters, is a term common to the manosphere. Like in mythologized wolf packs, alphas are the top dogs: the most desirable of all men. Betas, meanwhile, have to fight for scraps of female attention. Most masculinists don’t consider themselves alphas; they think of themselves as betas. But if society were in its right positioning, they suggest, women wouldn’t go after the physically attractive, sexually appealing alphas, because they would see the value of beta men. These beta men would then become “alphas” based on their desirability.

Women who do not “save” themselves for betas and who do not readily concede to men, then, must be disparaged as liars and harpies before being cast aside as devilish temptresses. As such, even their supposed repentance and redemption is nearly always viewed with suspicion.

To understand the range of issues masculinists crusade against as evident departures from God, it is useful to examine one of the most popular personal blogs in the ‘sphere. The writer of the blog in question, who goes by the pseudonym “Dalrock,” claims in his bio that he is a “happily married father in a post-feminist world.” Numerous other blogs continuously cite his work, indicating that he is as close as this loose collective gets to having a leader. In addition to using his platform to rail against marriage counseling, divorce rates, and the feminist influence in “choice addiction” (his term), Dalrock discusses how “understanding women better has only increased my empathy for them.” He supports such a statement by arguing that his wife feels “more loved” since he began his journey into the Christian masculinism.

And yet, his empathy and love for women takes the form of regularly calling them “sluts” and “whores” and talking about all the ways in which they, as a gender, are built to be deceptive and must thus be ruled by men. He advises his audience, too, to act in what he deems to be a correct fashion, and to avoid behavior that might be construed as “weak”:

Also keep in mind that if you truly love your wife you will want to understand how to make her feel loved. If you are selfishly hung up on retaining a childish fantasy about women, you can’t understand her well enough to understand what she craves from you. That she is much more likely to be craving decisive leadership from you than fawning footrubs shouldn’t be a problem unless you are in a very unhealthy mental place as a man.

These kinds of assertions often prompt praise among Dalrock’s readers: Numerous commenters chime in with their own stories (if married) and fantasies (if unmarried) of how women supposedly react to strength and shows of power.

One would think that such a view of women would be checked simply by the idea that identifying as Christian means that we are part of a Body, with one God. Moreover, the Bible explicitly calls Christian brothers to respect their sisters. That seems to be hugely overruled, however, by masculinists’ so-called distress that sisters aren’t doing the same for their brothers.

As extreme as Christian masculinists’ views may seem in terms of bald-faced misogyny, though, the things they write could probably be found on most theologically conservative bookshelves. Indeed, after months of reading their work as part of my ongoing research into Christian visions of femininity and masculinity, I’ve found that the masculinists’ ideas about men and women line up quite neatly with ongoing discussions of purity, virginity, and womanhood within the evangelical church.

Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll, for example—currently disgraced by financial scandal—built his once-thriving empire on the message that men today are being feminized and that they have forgotten what it means to be masculine. Evangelical conservative thought leaders Denny Burk, John Piper, Albert Mohler, Douglas Wilson, and Owen Strachan have all, at one time or another, lamented the failure of modern men and women to fulfill their respective biblical roles as dominant providers and submissive nurturers. The increase in marrying ages, the falling procreation rates for young couples, and the higher rates of cohabitation and divorce are all causes for concern among theologically conservative evangelicals, just as they are cause for concern amongst Christian masculinists.

Even the justifications for many of these stances are oddly alike in nature. For instance, Christian masculinists frequently refer to the “alpha widow.” The term refers to slutty (read: any woman who has sex outside of marriage) women who do get married to the aforementioned “beta males.” If they are an “alpha widow,” they will forever be haunted by the alphas they’d bedded in the past. They are “widowed” by their previous sexual experiences, thus making it impossible for the average beta male to satisfy her as a lover. Since most of these men consider themselves beta males, they take a woman enjoying herself with an alpha as a personal affront. Masculinists point to this sort of phenomenon as the reason for many divorces and marital dissatisfaction—women are sluts who are left forever unable to be satisfied when they do marry.

This argument, naturally, comes coupled with arguments about how women are liars, failures, and forever duped by the promises of feminism. Again, though, its foundation is consistent with popular conservative narratives. One of the many reasons to save yourself for marriage, given in Christian relationship books like And the Bride Wore White or Captivating, is that past loves will be a point of juxtaposition for future relationships. Purity culture warns people off of premarital sex for fear of comparisons down the line; the manosphere takes it just one step further, using those hypothetical comparisons as a reason to condemn women.

In the same vein, many of the societal “solutions” floated by masculinists are also popular within mainstream conservative circles. One Christian masculinist from Canada, who calls himself “The Free Northerner,” explains that prioritizing purity at all costs is to the detriment of marriage—so men and women should just head to the altar already. “People should not be waiting until their late 20s or 30s to get married and suffer under some perverse form of purity. They should be getting married young and having good, natural, enjoyable sex with their spouses while young,” he writes on his blog.

Similarly, in 2009, one of the top Christian-focused magazines in the business, Christianity Today, had a cover story by (discredited) researcher Mark Regnerus called “The Case for Early Marriage.” Regnerus makes many of the same arguments we find Christian masculinists making—early marriage preserves purity, creates ample opportunities for children, and allows man and woman to grow together rather than coming together as established independent adults. In reality, this advice is sociologically a bad idea, as early age of marriage is a major factor in higher divorce rates.

Indeed, it seems the Christian masculinist movement of 2014 is covering many of the same topics as conservative Christians. The only real difference is that you won’t catch evangelical leaders calling a woman a slut in public, although some express deep vitriol in private, as testimonies from former church members explain.

Conservative Christians need to confront the extremes to which their movement has been taken and the things that are being said in the name of their God. Conservative Christianity and the Christian manosphere have different intentions—supporters of the former ostensibly just want to put the world back on track, while those of the latter are using their theology to fuel explicit hate for women. But their conclusions are all too often identical: the condemnation of women who make their own choices, who own themselves, and who refuse to be taken as merely a body fulfilling a role. Both result in the treatment of women as objects, as interchangeable cogs in the machinery of a social and religious narrative. One is just more honest about it.

Image: cross on Shutterstock

The post MRAs for Jesus: A Look Inside the Christian ‘Manosphere’ appeared first on RH Reality Check.


RH Reality Check's picture

MRAs for Jesus: A Look Inside the Christian ‘Manosphere’

cross

When I wrote an article for The Frisky about my journey into sexual experience and losing my virginity, I knew that it would garner some criticism. But I don’t think any amount of research could have prepared me for the level of vitriol I provoked from one group in particular: Christian masculinists, who apparently spend much of their time online lambasting modern men and women for not adhering to biblically based gender roles. As blatantly sexist as their views are, though, their arguments are often eerily similar to those espoused by mainstream conservative evangelicals.

“Slutting Made Her a Better Christian,” read the title of one post on a popular personal blog linking to my piece. Another site declared me a “false prophet” and warned that I was a “wolf in the pen.” Still more commenters showed up in my Twitter mentions, informing me that because I’d broken a “blood covenant,” another blood sacrifice—presumably my own—would be necessary to atone for my deeds. In their eyes, I was a “slut,” a “whore,” and a “temple prostitute,” as well as a “liar,” and a “deceived, wicked jezebel,” all for having the gall to fool around with someone on a loveseat before I was married to them.

These were just a few of the responses I received from Christian masculinists, part of the loosely amalgamated corner of the Internet known by its own denizens as the “manosphere.” The manosphere consists of several groups, the most visible of which are “men’s rights activists,” or MRAs. Though they overlap in complicated and variegated fashions, they have one thing in common: a disillusionment with women in general, and by extension, feminism.

In this regard, Christian masculinists are no exception. Members of their community, which seems to have formed in the comments sections of several popular blogs, believe that feminism has destroyed the church and that modern Christian men too willingly submit to female leadership. Many of these users post as anonymously as they can manage in this day and age, but references made to various preferences and ideologues indicate that there is a strong probability that most of them are white, straight, and cisgender. Several prominent masculinist bloggers are single men in their late 20s, angry with the fact that they have not yet found a partner; still more, however, are fathers who are either divorced or struggling with existing marriages.

Evidently in response to these personal woes, masculinists have fused manosphere rhetoric with what they see as “biblical” gender roles to envision a hierarchical, patriarchal ideal world. As far as many are concerned, society’s problems—which include war, famine, pestilence, high divorce rates, and anything else they find objectionable—are the result of people walking away from God’s plan for their lives, in which men are leaders and women are followers.

Therefore, much like the rest of the manosphere, they believe the “feminization” of men is largely to blame for what they regard as civilization’s collapse. In a 42-page blog post called “The Misandry Bubble,” published on the Futurist blog and regarded as a manifesto by many in the movement, a user who goes by “The Fifth Horseman” writes:

[The devaluing of men leads to] the normalization of single motherhood (obviously with taxpayer subsidies), despite the reality that most single mothers are not victims, but merely women who rode a carousel of men with reckless abandon. This, in turn, leads to fatherless young men growing up being told that natural male behavior is wrong, and feminization is normal. It also leads to women being deceived outright about the realities of the sexual market, where media attempts to normalize single motherhood … rather than portrayed as the undesirable conditions they are [sic].

While the majority of the manosphere relies on evolutionary psychology to justify humans’ allegedly “natural” gender roles, Christian masculinists believe that women are obligated by the Bible to fulfill these responsibilities.

So in order to prevent certain doom, humans must adhere to a few specific theological tenets. Christians, women in particular, should remain virgins until marriage. Women have a duty to follow their husband’s direction and to defer to him in all decisions. A woman’s main priority is to be the caretaker of the home. Gender is immutable and deterministic: If you are assigned female at birth, you must live with this burden of motherhood and servanthood. These decrees, though especially important for Christians, are not restricted to churchgoers alone.

When women do not conform to such expectations, masculinists claim, they’re defying God’s will and prompting societal downfall. Therefore, women who take charge of their own bodies and fight for the independence to be seen as fully functioning human beings must have been taken in by “politically correct” feminist culture.

As one commenter on my post on The Frisky put it [emphasis original]:

The problem is the fact that we have a feminist culture and a feminist legal system that encourages that particular bad trait among women, and then rewards women when they succumb to it. Sadly, the churches, which ought to stand firm against this nonsense in the culture, is failing at the task of even policing it in their own pews.

Essentially, because modern feminism discourages automatic submission to men, women have begun to expect to be treated with respect and authority. Using this logic, Christian masculinists largely interpret sex-positivity—including having sex before marriage—as symbolic of female agency as a whole. And in turn, they see this as a path to sin. For example, another commenter wrote in response to my article:

Women’s entitlement mentality [toward sex] is insatiable, and no doubt related to their rejection of all authority in their lives, including God’s authority. Women want it all, they want it now; amoral, with no conception of consequences of actions, cause and effect. This is why I still find it difficult to believe that women love to submit to the ‘Alpha’ man; if they do, it has nothing to do with their respect for, and need of authority. Women do not even realize they need authority/discipline in their lives.

“Alpha,” which refers to a ranking system of men by Greek letters, is a term common to the manosphere. Like in mythologized wolf packs, alphas are the top dogs: the most desirable of all men. Betas, meanwhile, have to fight for scraps of female attention. Most masculinists don’t consider themselves alphas; they think of themselves as betas. But if society were in its right positioning, they suggest, women wouldn’t go after the physically attractive, sexually appealing alphas, because they would see the value of beta men. These beta men would then become “alphas” based on their desirability.

Women who do not “save” themselves for betas and who do not readily concede to men, then, must be disparaged as liars and harpies before being cast aside as devilish temptresses. As such, even their supposed repentance and redemption is nearly always viewed with suspicion.

To understand the range of issues masculinists crusade against as evident departures from God, it is useful to examine one of the most popular personal blogs in the ‘sphere. The writer of the blog in question, who goes by the pseudonym “Dalrock,” claims in his bio that he is a “happily married father in a post-feminist world.” Numerous other blogs continuously cite his work, indicating that he is as close as this loose collective gets to having a leader. In addition to using his platform to rail against marriage counseling, divorce rates, and the feminist influence in “choice addiction” (his term), Dalrock discusses how “understanding women better has only increased my empathy for them.” He supports such a statement by arguing that his wife feels “more loved” since he began his journey into the Christian masculinism.

And yet, his empathy and love for women takes the form of regularly calling them “sluts” and “whores” and talking about all the ways in which they, as a gender, are built to be deceptive and must thus be ruled by men. He advises his audience, too, to act in what he deems to be a correct fashion, and to avoid behavior that might be construed as “weak”:

Also keep in mind that if you truly love your wife you will want to understand how to make her feel loved. If you are selfishly hung up on retaining a childish fantasy about women, you can’t understand her well enough to understand what she craves from you. That she is much more likely to be craving decisive leadership from you than fawning footrubs shouldn’t be a problem unless you are in a very unhealthy mental place as a man.

These kinds of assertions often prompt praise among Dalrock’s readers: Numerous commenters chime in with their own stories (if married) and fantasies (if unmarried) of how women supposedly react to strength and shows of power.

One would think that such a view of women would be checked simply by the idea that identifying as Christian means that we are part of a Body, with one God. Moreover, the Bible explicitly calls Christian brothers to respect their sisters. That seems to be hugely overruled, however, by masculinists’ so-called distress that sisters aren’t doing the same for their brothers.

As extreme as Christian masculinists’ views may seem in terms of bald-faced misogyny, though, the things they write could probably be found on most theologically conservative bookshelves. Indeed, after months of reading their work as part of my ongoing research into Christian visions of femininity and masculinity, I’ve found that the masculinists’ ideas about men and women line up quite neatly with ongoing discussions of purity, virginity, and womanhood within the evangelical church.

Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll, for example—currently disgraced by financial scandal—built his once-thriving empire on the message that men today are being feminized and that they have forgotten what it means to be masculine. Evangelical conservative thought leaders Denny Burk, John Piper, Albert Mohler, Douglas Wilson, and Owen Strachan have all, at one time or another, lamented the failure of modern men and women to fulfill their respective biblical roles as dominant providers and submissive nurturers. The increase in marrying ages, the falling procreation rates for young couples, and the higher rates of cohabitation and divorce are all causes for concern among theologically conservative evangelicals, just as they are cause for concern amongst Christian masculinists.

Even the justifications for many of these stances are oddly alike in nature. For instance, Christian masculinists frequently refer to the “alpha widow.” The term refers to slutty (read: any woman who has sex outside of marriage) women who do get married to the aforementioned “beta males.” If they are an “alpha widow,” they will forever be haunted by the alphas they’d bedded in the past. They are “widowed” by their previous sexual experiences, thus making it impossible for the average beta male to satisfy her as a lover. Since most of these men consider themselves beta males, they take a woman enjoying herself with an alpha as a personal affront. Masculinists point to this sort of phenomenon as the reason for many divorces and marital dissatisfaction—women are sluts who are left forever unable to be satisfied when they do marry.

This argument, naturally, comes coupled with arguments about how women are liars, failures, and forever duped by the promises of feminism. Again, though, its foundation is consistent with popular conservative narratives. One of the many reasons to save yourself for marriage, given in Christian relationship books like And the Bride Wore White or Captivating, is that past loves will be a point of juxtaposition for future relationships. Purity culture warns people off of premarital sex for fear of comparisons down the line; the manosphere takes it just one step further, using those hypothetical comparisons as a reason to condemn women.

In the same vein, many of the societal “solutions” floated by masculinists are also popular within mainstream conservative circles. One Christian masculinist from Canada, who calls himself “The Free Northerner,” explains that prioritizing purity at all costs is to the detriment of marriage—so men and women should just head to the altar already. “People should not be waiting until their late 20s or 30s to get married and suffer under some perverse form of purity. They should be getting married young and having good, natural, enjoyable sex with their spouses while young,” he writes on his blog.

Similarly, in 2009, one of the top Christian-focused magazines in the business, Christianity Today, had a cover story by (discredited) researcher Mark Regnerus called “The Case for Early Marriage.” Regnerus makes many of the same arguments we find Christian masculinists making—early marriage preserves purity, creates ample opportunities for children, and allows man and woman to grow together rather than coming together as established independent adults. In reality, this advice is sociologically a bad idea, as early age of marriage is a major factor in higher divorce rates.

Indeed, it seems the Christian masculinist movement of 2014 is covering many of the same topics as conservative Christians. The only real difference is that you won’t catch evangelical leaders calling a woman a slut in public, although some express deep vitriol in private, as testimonies from former church members explain.

Conservative Christians need to confront the extremes to which their movement has been taken and the things that are being said in the name of their God. Conservative Christianity and the Christian manosphere have different intentions—supporters of the former ostensibly just want to put the world back on track, while those of the latter are using their theology to fuel explicit hate for women. But their conclusions are all too often identical: the condemnation of women who make their own choices, who own themselves, and who refuse to be taken as merely a body fulfilling a role. Both result in the treatment of women as objects, as interchangeable cogs in the machinery of a social and religious narrative. One is just more honest about it.

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The post MRAs for Jesus: A Look Inside the Christian ‘Manosphere’ appeared first on RH Reality Check.


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Study: Medicaid Benefits Don’t Guarantee Health-Care Access

Having health insurance is not enough to ensure reliable access to care, despite the flood of new Medicaid enrollees under the Affordable Care Act.

Having health insurance is not enough to ensure reliable access to care, despite the flood of new Medicaid enrollees under the Affordable Care Act, according to a report released Tuesday by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The report found not only that rules on health-care access vary drastically from state to state—and continue to leave many patients out of care’s reach—but that violations of these rules go largely undetected, unfixed, and unpunished.

Federal regulators charged with overseeing state Medicaid programs don’t assess whether or not state standards ensure adequate access to care, calling into question whether these standards are effective.

Medicaid, the federal and state jointly-run health-care program, is the source of health insurance and coverage for almost 70 million low-income people in the United States.

And following the expansion of Medicaid under the ACA, the number of people turning to public insurance has swelled: the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that by 2018, an additional 18 million people will get insurance through Medicaid, and a total of one in four Americans will receive the government benefit by 2016.

Though some broad Medicaid rules are determined by the federal government, including rules related to standards of access to providers, most of the specifics are left for states to decide.

The most common state standards set limits on distance, wait time, and the number of providers, but the specific standards vary between states. Thirty two states, for example, establish limitations on the maximum distance or time Medicaid enrollees have to travel for an appointment.

In Arizona, standards require a primary care provider within five miles of patients. In Utah, that distance is 45 miles. Many states also set limits on the amount of time a patient must wait for an appointment, ranging from ten days in California to 45 days in Minnesota.

The third most common standard is on the ratio of providers to Medicaid beneficiaries, and that ranges from one provider for every 100 enrollees in Wisconsin, to one for every 2,000 in California.

Though it may seem obvious that states with shorter wait time requirements have better access to care, it’s unclear whether, for example, California’s one to 2,000 provider-to-patient ratio constitutes adequate access at all, according to the report. That’s because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal agency charged with reviewing state access standards, does not look at whether the standards are “adequate to ensure access to care” in their reviews, according to the Department of Health and Human Services’ report.

The report found that states aren’t doing a good enough job of determining when violations of the standards have occurred. Of the 33 states examined by the report, only 11 found any violations in a four-year period, and only six states imposed sanctions in response to the violations.

The solution? Strengthen federal oversight of state standards and compliance measures, says the report.

Marilyn Tavenner, an administrator for CMS, has responded to the report, saying she generally agrees with the report’s findings.

“We are considering options to set forth CMS’ expectations for network access standards and expect to address this issue through the development of additional guidance to states,” Tavenner said.

State access standards are not the only obstacles facing low-income Americans seeking health insurance. As RH Reality Check reported, backlogs in the processing of Medicaid applications have left eligible people in limbo and confused about their status.

Image: Shutterstock

The post Study: Medicaid Benefits Don’t Guarantee Health-Care Access appeared first on RH Reality Check.


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Study: Medicaid Benefits Don’t Guarantee Health-Care Access

Having health insurance is not enough to ensure reliable access to care, despite the flood of new Medicaid enrollees under the Affordable Care Act.

Having health insurance is not enough to ensure reliable access to care, despite the flood of new Medicaid enrollees under the Affordable Care Act, according to a report released Tuesday by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The report found not only that rules on health-care access vary drastically from state to state—and continue to leave many patients out of care’s reach—but that violations of these rules go largely undetected, unfixed, and unpunished.

Federal regulators charged with overseeing state Medicaid programs don’t assess whether or not state standards ensure adequate access to care, calling into question whether these standards are effective.

Medicaid, the federal and state jointly-run health-care program, is the source of health insurance and coverage for almost 70 million low-income people in the United States.

And following the expansion of Medicaid under the ACA, the number of people turning to public insurance has swelled: the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that by 2018, an additional 18 million people will get insurance through Medicaid, and a total of one in four Americans will receive the government benefit by 2016.

Though some broad Medicaid rules are determined by the federal government, including rules related to standards of access to providers, most of the specifics are left for states to decide.

The most common state standards set limits on distance, wait time, and the number of providers, but the specific standards vary between states. Thirty two states, for example, establish limitations on the maximum distance or time Medicaid enrollees have to travel for an appointment.

In Arizona, standards require a primary care provider within five miles of patients. In Utah, that distance is 45 miles. Many states also set limits on the amount of time a patient must wait for an appointment, ranging from ten days in California to 45 days in Minnesota.

The third most common standard is on the ratio of providers to Medicaid beneficiaries, and that ranges from one provider for every 100 enrollees in Wisconsin, to one for every 2,000 in California.

Though it may seem obvious that states with shorter wait time requirements have better access to care, it’s unclear whether, for example, California’s one to 2,000 provider-to-patient ratio constitutes adequate access at all, according to the report. That’s because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal agency charged with reviewing state access standards, does not look at whether the standards are “adequate to ensure access to care” in their reviews, according to the Department of Health and Human Services’ report.

The report found that states aren’t doing a good enough job of determining when violations of the standards have occurred. Of the 33 states examined by the report, only 11 found any violations in a four-year period, and only six states imposed sanctions in response to the violations.

The solution? Strengthen federal oversight of state standards and compliance measures, says the report.

Marilyn Tavenner, an administrator for CMS, has responded to the report, saying she generally agrees with the report’s findings.

“We are considering options to set forth CMS’ expectations for network access standards and expect to address this issue through the development of additional guidance to states,” Tavenner said.

State access standards are not the only obstacles facing low-income Americans seeking health insurance. As RH Reality Check reported, backlogs in the processing of Medicaid applications have left eligible people in limbo and confused about their status.

Image: Shutterstock

The post Study: Medicaid Benefits Don’t Guarantee Health-Care Access appeared first on RH Reality Check.


RH Reality Check's picture

Study: Medicaid Benefits Don’t Guarantee Health-Care Access