Advice on relationships

Melinda Thielbar has written some advice to young women. It’s an excellent article, and excellent advice about doing what’s right for YOU instead of what someone else thinks you should do. I highly recommend it to everyone, whether they are young women, young men, old women, old men, or something in between.

But there’s one line that I would like to dispute, and that is “A relationship with the right person is not work.”

All relationships are work, whether they are romantic relationships or friendships or vendor/client relationships or “other person who uses the same gym that I use” relationships. (That last relationship is called “polite society”, sometimes known by its other name, “not being a complete asswipe.”) The key is finding the balance between the work and the relationship. Pretending that if it’s “right” it’ll be effortless is just setting people up to fail– there will always be differences to work out and compromises to make.

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Rush Limbaugh vs. Sandra Fluke

When I first heard that Rush Limbaugh had called someone a “slut” I thought “So?  Rush Limbaugh is a blowhard, who cares what he thinks?”  Of course, that’s only half true, because a lot of people care what he thinks.  More importantly, a lot of people listen to what he says.

I did my best to avoid this story, but as it got posted to Facebook more and more, Limbaugh’s quote “What does it say about the college co-ed Susan [sic] Fluke who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex” bubbled up to the top.

I was immediately intrigued.   I imagined a belligerent co-ed, loudly and argumentatively stating that without access to healthcare that would cover her contraception, she would demand that any sexual partner pay her in advance for the cost of an abortion and/or raising a child.  Presumably, this fee would be waived if the partner in question could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he could not possibly get her pregnant.  (Presumably, this proof would be self-evident if the partner in question was female.)  I went searching for the exact text of her testimony before Congress.  I was pretty sure that when read in context it would turn out to be satirical, ala Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal.  Still, I would have been happy to spread the text around, adding my own “You go, girl!” to it.

You can imagine my dismay when I found the text of Fluke’s proposed testimony and later confirmed via the YouTube video of the actual testimony that she didn’t go wildly off-script and made only minor changes to her phrasing.  Her statements included some specific details about the sorts of reasons why women might want to take birth control pills that don’t involve preventing birth (a particularly hot-button topic for me, since I also have polycystic ovarian syndrome, and was not sexually active the first time I was prescribed birth control pills).  She even makes a point that the health insurance that she receives through the university she attends is subsidized by that university by exactly zero dollars– so no taxpayer dollars would go towards paying for contraception for someone on that plan.

Faced with complaints about his comments, Rush Limbaugh apologized to Ms. Fluke, both for insulting her in a wildly inappropriate manner and also for not checking out the facts of the story he was reporting on before ranting about it.  Of course you’re right, I’m totally joking.  He did no such thing.  Instead, he called all the criticism a ‘conniption fit’ and ‘hilarious’.  He then upped his attack briefly to include ALL women at Georgetown University, stating that Georgetown should establish a “Wilt Chamberlain scholarship … exclusively for women.” (source: same link as above)

Sandra Fluke’s sexual activity never actually came up in her Congressional testimony, so I don’t know if she’s a slut, a virgin, monogamous within a committed relationship, or what.  There are no facts to support any of those claims.  The only fact that we have at all is that she is a past president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice.  Some might say that the desire for “reproductive justice” must mean she has sex, but that’s not necessarily a truism– for example, I am interested in and concerned about justice and equality for all races and sexual identities, yet I am white and straight.  I had a tubal ligation nearly three years ago and am no longer concerned about my own unwanted pregnancies, but I am still concerned about the current political landscape and how it affects other women’s ability to control their own reproduction.

So what do we have here?  A popular media personality totally makes up a story,  When critics complain that there’s no basis to the story, he doubles down and makes up even more bullshit to go with the story.  Then, and this is my favorite part, he spins the whole thing into a “Democratic plot” to “create a new welfare program” (source: same link as above, just a few more ‘videos’ down).

What terrifies me most of all is that there will be some people who believe Limbaugh completely.  If there weren’t, he wouldn’t still be on the air.

Blogging sites and the impression of authenticy

WordPress is not my favorite blogging site, but there’s a weird attitude that says “if you use certain sites that were trendy in the past and are no longer trendy, you will not be taken seriously.”  It doesn’t seem to matter that I sat down and made a list of criteria that I wanted in a blog and then found the site that offered me the most of those criteria.

Since I prefer that people judging my writing do so on the basis of the writing and the ideas expressed therein, instead of on the site the words were posted on, I’m here, at least for the things I want to say publicly.