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Are Boys the Target of a Feminist Gendercide Campaign?

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Last week social media jumped on the story of a woman who supposedly decided to have a late-term abortion specifically because she found out she was having a boy. Based on a near-anonymous comment posted on an Internet forum, the story is highly questionable at best. Nevertheless, both pro- and anti-abortion advocates pounced on the missive. The dialogue generated took on a life of its own, inspiring the following comment from feminist site Jezebel:

“The virality of this story is sort of a nice reminder about confirmation bias: when something fits our preferred narrative just a little too snugly, it’s probably time for skepticism,” wrote Jezebel’s Anna Merlan.

How, exactly, does gendercide “fit our narrative” in the West, especially in relation to boys?

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What Does It Really Mean to Be ‘Like A Girl’?

Thursday, February 5th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Self-dubbed “meninists” have gone on defense after a Superbowl commercial inspired women to proclaim to the world the power of being #LikeAGirl. Ironically, the sexism inherent in their response pales in comparison to the gender bias expressed in defense of the commercial. Once again, gender feminists out themselves as a group bent on erasing gender, specifically female gender, from American culture. The problem is that they are so bloody brainwashed in indoctrination that they don’t even realize they’re doing it.

In an attempt to defend the pride a woman should take in acting #LikeAGirl, gender feminists only manage to uphold the notion that women are weak and oppressed and need public approval in order to be “empowered.” Moreover, in order to gain that much sought-after public approval, women must take on androgynous appearances, hobbies or careers that require them to leave their femininity at home under lock and key.

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Whatever Happened to a Hint of Sex?

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

A few days ago a friend of mine who loves and lives vintage shared this gem from HuffPo showing a series of modern-day “pin-up” pics paired with the argument that “every body is gorgeous.” The pin-ups, all retro-themed, featured a varying number of body shapes and types in clever poses and even cleverer clothing designed to hint at sex. Because sex, good sex, ultimately relies on stimulating the human imagination. Bad sex, on the other hand, has everything to do with telling the mind what to think instead of letting it take the hint. Which is why sex today, quite frankly, stinks.

Play the body-positive feminist angle of the photos all you want. What really makes these photos awesome is that they are a reminder of a time when sex was a hint and women were in control of exactly how far they went with the nudge, the wink, the euphemism, and the nudity. Contemporary feminists love to argue that being completely naked in public is the ultimate proclamation of sexual power, because they cannot comprehend the unspoken language of sex. Anything that isn’t laid out clearly in a multi-part contract is somehow an inconclusive sexual assault. No wonder they love gays and lust after drag queens. These are the only demographics still allowed to speak the unspoken language of glamour and inference. The shaggy-haired, pantsuited crew wishes they could be that comfortable in a sparkling evening gown and heels.

The truth is, contemporary feminists don’t know how to handle the power that comes with the clothes. Naked they get. Naked comes with a contract and court protection. The resulting shock value, best left to celebrities on red carpets protected by the lens of the camera, is especially defended and praised. Second-wave theorists once decried cinema’s voyeuristic male gaze. Now they taunt it openly, flashing breasts and bottoms to the point of sheer boredom, arguing that familiarity with the naked figure will somehow both grant women ownership of their bodies and tame evil male lust. (Tell that one to the booming porn industry.)

No one is more adept at the naked game than Miley Cyrus, Disney’s good girl-gone-bad who has apparently decided to challenge Lena Dunham at her own flesh-revealing game. Her latest shoot for V magazine wasn’t a shoot, per se, as much as a catalog of naked Polaroids (the Insta-variety no doubt) snapped by a friend while on her latest tour. Compare her nude antics to original Disney bad girl Annette Funicello, who ignored Disney’s advice and dared to bare her navel in a two-piece for a series of bikini beach movies in the 1960s. Funicello’s legacy is that of teen sex symbol. Miley’s on the other hand is that of teen slut.

In the Slut Walk era, Miley is just another bare-breasted woman in the crowd of feminists bent on denying psychology and biology through visual over-stimulation and court-protected denial of responsibility for inevitable consequences. As Camille Paglia so smartly comments to the pro-slut crowd:

Don’t call yourself a slut unless you are prepared to live and defend yourself like one.  My creed is street-smart feminism, alert, wary, and militant—the harsh survival code of streetwalkers and drag queens.  Sex is a force of nature, not just a social construct.  Monsters stalk its midnight realm.  Too many overprotected middle-class girls have a dangerously naive view of the world.  They fail to see the animality and primitivism of sex, historically controlled by traditions of religion and morality now steadily dissolving in the West.

The sexual revolution won by my 1960s generation was a two-edged sword.  Our liberation has burdened our successors with too many sexual choices too early.  Their flesh-baring daily dress is a sex mime to whose arousing signals they seem blind.  Only in a police state, and not even there, will women be totally safe on the streets.  Honorable men do not rape.  But protests and parades cannot create honor.

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Contemporary feminism isn’t just about nudity. Its ancient, paganesque obsession with body image puts more demands on a woman’s body than the simple shedding of attire. Ancient Jews who desired to fit in with their Greek overlords painfully reversed their circumcisions. Today’s women go to great lengths to emasculate their otherwise feminine figures to do what, exactly? Pursue a level of strength biologically and psychologically associated with the male gender? Or carve a comfortable trans-niche of their own, not quite glam like the drag divas but not nearly as boring as the Hillaryesque powersuit crowd?

Whether it’s female body building or superhero chic, flat abs, four-packed and more, are now the ultimate pursuit in female happiness. Women once considered themselves liberated from the forced flat abs of the corset generation. Now they’re demanding their own bodies do the work of the whale bones. Cinched in tight, these picture-perfect bodies eliminate the belly pouch made famous in elegant female art for centuries. (The un-tightened belly pouch that also makes the round ligament pain common in an expanding pregnant belly easier to bear.) Goodbye, Botticelli’s bellies and all the promise of fertility within, hello flat abs and the emasculated figures that come with them.

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Hyper-muscular demands on a feminine physique can have more than just an aesthetic effect on their womanhood:

A Norwegian population-based survey of nearly 4,000 women under 45 found a clear link between exercise intensity and fertility. Women who were active most days were more than three times more likely to have fertility problems than inactive women. And those who exercised to the point of exhaustion were more than twice as likely to be infertile than those who engaged in less strenuous activities, according to results published in Human Reproduction.

It is the great irony of flat abs and nude figures that women, who claim to possess a greater hold over their own sexuality, are in fact rendering themselves powerless over their own sex. Whether they are work-out freaks who reduce their chances of becoming mothers or women insisting that baring it all isn’t an invitation to a dangerous sexual encounter, contemporary feminism has crafted a cadre of goddesses willing to sacrifice themselves on the altar of so-called liberation. The only thing they’ve been liberated from is the one thing they’re after: Being thought of as sexy.

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The Plan to Take Back Feminism in 2015

Thursday, January 1st, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Take one look at Mic’s list of feminist triumphs for 2014 and you’ll get the feeling that most of us have over the course of this rather petty year: American feminism doesn’t know what to do with itself. Sure, it pays lip service to international women with its only PC figurehead, Malala Yousafzai, taking the list’s lead. And yes, the editors made sure to include a proportional number of women of color on the list, even if they included Ferguson protestors, leading one to ask why the feminist movement would want to associate itself with the kind of race riots we haven’t seen in this nation in nearly 50 years. But when your greatest triumphs include hashtag activism, conquering “manspreading,” and harassing Bill Cosby over decades-old alleged rape accusations, you illustrate how pathetic you’ve become.

A few of these so-called feminist triumphs were listed among the top feminist fiascos of 2014 in the L.A. Times, along with some real head-hanging, shame-filled moments stretching from #ShirtStorm to #BanBossy. One item on the list, however, strikes a sobering note: Rotherham. The complete lack of American feminist response to the sex trafficking of women in this British town for over two decades should be enough to shame feminists into pursuing a new direction in 2015. Feminism as a biblically grounded, non-sectarian movement for women’s independence can once again play a vital role in American and global culture, as long as its gaze is redirected from the navel to the critical issues facing women today.

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4 Fallacies Killing Feminism

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson, two wannabe-famous New York twenty somethings, teamed up to talk sex via their “running soap opera,” “almost reality TV show” podcast Guys We F*cked. Broadcasting under the “anti-slut shaming” banner makes Guys We F*cked appealing to the contemporary feminists at Salon who never turn down the chance to normalize twisted sexuality. Salon assistant editor Jenny Kutner sat down with the comedy duo more commonly known as “Sorry About Last Night” who, as they enter season 2 of their famed podcast, are looking to crowdsource funds from fans while noting that their careers are “…getting better because of the podcast, which is really exciting.”

Performing an editorial feat, Kutner defines the duo’s narcissism as “comedy with a purpose” in her attempt to define the two as feminists. In doing so, the assistant editor at Salon exposes exactly why contemporary feminism is failing 21st century women: Today’s feminists have worked to sever feminism from its historical roots as a biblically-grounded movement for women’s independence. What they’re replacing it with, a “social media feminism” as artist and feminist April Bey has dubbed it, is a mere mask for narcissistic, death-obsessed, goddess worship.

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Feminists Don’t Want Privacy, They Want Approval

Saturday, November 1st, 2014 - by Leslie Loftis

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Much will be written on Katha Pollitt’s “abortion is normal” movement. I’m sure I will write more on it later after I at least read some of the book. But for the moment, here’s one thing that caught my eye in her introductory article in The Nation:

Roe v. Wade gave women a kind of existential freedom that is not always welcome—indeed, is sometimes quite painful—but that has become part of what women are.

One thing Roe v. Wade didn’t do, though, was make abortion private.

…Justice Harry Blackmun’s majority opinion in Roe v. Wade was all about privacy, but the most private parts of a woman’s body and the most private decisions she will ever make have never been more public.

And why is that? She seems to blame terrible conservatives and their abortion-clinic regulations, which is a tenuous claim. Why wouldn’t those like Pollitt who want abortion accessible for women to be able to use as they see fit prioritize safe clinics? The regulations are about safety, which of course restricts access. Even if abortion is completely normalized, it’s not as simple as, for instance, trips to the health spa.

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The Feminist Lesson in Mom’s Night Out

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Twenty-four percent of married couple families with children under 15 have a stay-at-home mom. Ninety-nine percent of stay-at-home moms in the movies get a really bad rap. Search “Best Movie Moms” and you’ll get lists that include Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment, Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, Shelly Duvall in The Shining, and more than a few mentions of Psycho. The majority of movie mothers are either widowed or divorced, careerists or working class, alcoholics or impregnated by UFOs. The closest you’ll get to a stay-at-home mom in post-1940s cinema is Kathleen Turner playing the psychotic Serial Mom or Michael Keaton taking on the role so his wife can pursue her career in Mr. Mom.

In fact, outside of Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side there hasn’t been a truly admirable middle-class, white, stay-at-home mother on the silver screen in over 50 years. Which is probably why Mom’s Night Out received such a negative critical reception when it premiered last spring. We have been acculturated out of believing in the power and purpose of stay-at-home moms. Yet, the criticisms leveled at Mom’s Night Out for its “depressingly regressive” spirit and “archaic notions of gender roles” were not applied to a similar film about a stay-at-home mom released only two years prior. This Is 40 received mixed reviews, but praise for yielding “…some of [Judd] Apatow’s most personal observations yet on the feelings for husbands, wives, parents, and children that we categorize as love.”

So, what made This Is 40 palatable in a way that Mom’s Night Out wasn’t? Is there, perhaps, a culturally acceptable way to be a stay-at-home mom?

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How to Win (and Lose) on the Life Issue

Saturday, October 25th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard
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In his endorsement interview with the Plain Dealer, Ohio Governor John Kasich joined Democrat Ed FitzGerald, and Green Party candidate Anita Rios (who decided to run after she lost her job at an abortion clinic) to discuss issues relevant to the campaign, including abortion, with the newspaper’s editorial board.

Kasich, said to be considering a bid for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, says he is pro-life and has taken some steps since he became governor to regulate abortion in the state. He has closed unsafe abortion clinics, beefed up health code regulations for all abortion clinics, and directed state funding to crisis pregnancy centers. Critics complain that he has ignored the “heartbeat bill” that would ban abortions in the state once a baby’s heartbeat can be detected by ultrasound. They also say the governor hasn’t taken any other steps in the direction of actually banning abortion rather than just regulating it.

All of the political maneuvering and legislative issues aside, I think it’s important to consider how we talk about the issue of abortion, whether it’s on the campaign trail or in our in our daily lives among our friends whom we wish to convince that unborn children deserve to be protected and valued.

Earlier this year I wrote “How Republicans Should Talk About Women’s Issues for Ohio Conservative Review. This advice is not exclusive to Republicans, but applies to anyone who wants to effectively communicate the importance of the life issue:

When accused of denying women “reproductive services” we must reframe that issue to express our alarm that a baby is being denied life. While there is a certain radical segment of the population that will continue to oppose us, the tide is turning in the direction of the right to life for the unborn. A recent Quinnipiac poll found most Americans support some restrictions on abortion. A total of 55 percent want a 20-week limit on the procedure and only 23% of women believe abortion should be legal in all cases. When a candidate is asked why he wants to deny a woman the right to “control her body,” he should passionately advocate for the right of a baby to live — citing scientific facts about heartbeats and fingernails and brain waves. He should pull a 3-D ultrasound picture of his child or grandchild out of his suit pocket and ask how a compassionate, just society could tolerate destroying tiny people with little arms and legs. Refuse to accept the narrative that this is only about the rights of the woman. Unapologetically defend the personhood, and therefore the liberty, of unborn children. The truth of the humanity of the unborn is so inconvenient that many will cease asking about the issue if we insist on discussing the personhood of those babies and the tragedy of their deaths.

This should be a no-brainer for candidates who say they are pro-life. The science is settled, as they say, that those flailing arms and legs we peer at on the ultrasound monitor belong to a living human being. No sane, cognizant person can look at a 3-D ultrasound picture and say, “That’s just a blob of tissue” and deny the reality of the life contained within the mother’s womb.

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What 2 Retired Whores Can Teach Slut-Walk Feminists

Monday, October 20th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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A story about two old Jewish ladies is making the rounds in the Jewish press, but not for the reasons you may think. Sure, they’re bubbes. They’re children of a Holocaust survivor to boot. But the real reason they’re attracting so much attention is that they happen to be retired professional whores.

Dutch twins Louise and Martine Fokkens (probably not their real last name, since “Fokken” is a Dutch term for “old whore”) have become international celebrities since the 2011 release of their biographical documentary Meet the Fokkens. Women’s magazines like Cosmo picked up on their story shortly after the film’s release, publishing quick little details like:

Louise and Martine (mothers of four and three respectively) became prostitutes before the age of 20 in order to escape violent relationships.

It’s an interpretation that, at best, qualifies as a half-truth. Louise was forced into the sex trade by an abusive husband. Martine, however, became a prostitute out of spite:

Martine followed her sister into the trade, working first as a cleaning lady at brothels before she began turning tricks herself. “I was angry at how everybody around us shunned Louise,” Martine said. “I did it out of spite, really.”

Both women eventually divorced their husbands, whom they now describe as “a couple of pimps.” But they continued working in the district “because that had become our lives,” Louise said.

“Our life in the business became a source of pride, a sport of sorts,” Louise added.

In retrospect, both women say they regret becoming prostitutes.

Reading their story, one can’t help but wonder if mainstream feminist advocates for slut walks and “Yes Means Yes” legislation would condemn the pair for regretting the life they chose. After all, their body, their choice, right? They took control of their bad marriages, divorced the husbands they referred to as “pimps” and chose, fully of their own volition, to remain in the sex trade after their exes were fully out of the picture. Martine and Louise, it would seem, are the originators of the Slut Walk.

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Would Free Contraceptives Reduce Teen Pregnancies and Abortions?

Sunday, October 5th, 2014 - by Theodore Dalrymple

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One of the more extraordinary experiences of my medical career was injecting rural African women with a long-term contraceptive in a Catholic mission hospital under a portrait of Pope Paul VI. The contraceptive was handed to me by an aged Swiss nun who was otherwise deeply orthodox, but who recognized that worn-out women who had already had ten children were in danger of their lives if they had any more. I refrained from remarking on the paradox: I had already learned that there is more to life than intellectual consistency.

In the west, of course, the problem of unwanted pregnancy is different: it arises mainly among teenagers of what used to be called the lower classes. Pregnancy rates among the latter in the United States are among the highest in the western world. According to a paper in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, such pregnancies cost the United States $10 billion a year: to me a suspiciously round figure, especially as it includes the cost of education foregone by the pregnant girls. Perhaps I am a cynic, but I am not altogether so sanguine about the economic value of modern education. Be that as it may, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has set a goal of reducing teenage pregnancy by 20 percent between 2009 and 2015.

An experiment conducted in St Louis provided 1404 girls aged between 14 and 19 with free contraceptive advice and free long-acting contraceptive devices to see whether such provision would reduce the rate of unwanted pregnancy among them. The comparison group was that of similar girls in the rest of the United States who were not included in the experiment.

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11 Disturbing Things I’ve Learned About the ‘Freebirth’ Movement

Thursday, August 14th, 2014 - by Bethany Mandel

Being an enthusiastic natural birth proponent, I’m a member of a good number of Facebook groups for moms interested in natural birth. In one of the home birth groups I’m a member of, women began to discuss having an “unassisted birth” also known as a “freebirth.” My interest piqued by craziness on the Internet, I did a quick Google search (don’t look at the Wikipedia page if you’re at work or around wandering eyes). An unassisted birth is just what it sounds like: a birth, usually at home, alone or with one’s partner, not attended by a professional midwife or doctor. If you’re thinking “Boy, that sounds dangerous!” you’re right. A leading blogger of the “Freebirth” movement in Australia, Janet Fraser, buried her stillborn baby girl in 2009. The baby in all likelihood would have been born totally healthy had she had a home birth attended by a licensed midwife or in a hospital with a doctor and nurses present. The death spurred an inquest in which the coroner concluded “the child had died because the only people she had elected to be present at the birth – her partner and her best friend – could not deal with the complications of a cord entanglement.” That birth story, which happened in March 2009, has never appeared on the Joyous Birth website, still run by Fraser.

This case is an extreme example of members of this movement of women who, for any number of reasons, plan to have their children without the assistance of medical professionals. Being an super professional journalist absolute voyeur, I joined every Facebook group I could find on Unassisted Birth to give you insight into these women and their motivations. Here are some things I learned, in list form, of course:

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1. Money is a factor.

Not surprisingly, many women in the group explain that they are having an unassisted birth because they cannot afford to have a midwife attendant at their home birth. Most home birth midwives’ services aren’t covered by insurance and none are covered by Medicaid, leaving women with the choice of a hospital birth or an unattended one. Others state that they have no medical insurance, which would make an out -of-pocket hospital birth astronomically expensive for even a middle class family. The United States is the most costly place to give place in the world, with the average vaginal birth clocking in at $30,000 and the average c-section costing $50,000.

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7 Things to NEVER Say to a Full-Term Pregnant Woman

Sunday, August 10th, 2014 - by Megan Fox

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As I sit here, 3 days shy of the due date of my third child, I have had time to reflect on all that really annoys me about this last stage of pregnancy. Chief among them is the stupid things people say. Yes, some of you people are people I love, but I’m allowed to be grouchy. Someone is literally sitting on my last nerve causing my right leg to be numb most of the time. There are lots of things you don’t say to pregnant women like “Hey, you’re not really eating for two!” or “You look tired,” but nothing rankles more than when in the last days of pregnancy people seem to lose their sensitivity controls. The following are things I’ve heard in the last week that make me want to high five someone… in the face.

7. “Enjoy this time. You’re going to miss it.”

I did enjoy this pregnancy and that ended about one month ago. The belly was fun, the cute maternity shirts were fun (back when they fit me). I enjoyed walking back then, I sort of remember what that was like to get out and stroll about without pain and constant fear of a jab to the cervix at an inopportune time that almost sends me to my knees weeping. But at about 8 months along all of that became a distant memory. There’s absolutely nothing I’m going to miss about being 40 weeks pregnant. Every fetal movement is painful and most of the time it’s excruciating; strangers look at me with their finger on the 911 button because I’ve just cried out in public and grabbed my extended belly and they think I’m in labor. Nope, not labor, just a future martial-arts expert kicking the crap out of my spleen.

But thanks for the concern.

I’m not going to miss having to pull myself into the car in three deliberate maneuvers trying not to aggravate the round ligament pain flare-ups. (If you don’t know what that is, just thank God and move on.) I will not miss the searing heartburn and acid reflux that no amount of antacid will quench and that wake me up literally gagging for air every hour every night. I will not miss the constant trips to the bathroom only to find out there’s nothing in my bladder, just someone on it. I will not miss dropping things I care about on the ground and leaving them there to avoid having to bend over to fetch them. Goodbye iPhone. That’s what insurance is for. I will not miss crying for no reason while chopping vegetables and having to explain to my children why Mommy is sobbing. “I DON’T KNOW, OK?? You people cry whenever you want, why can’t I?”

Please stop telling me I am going to miss this time. It makes me want to throw things at your head.

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Reality TV’s 10 Biggest Lies About America

Sunday, July 6th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

10. Americans are all obese.

From the messy buildup in the fat folds of Mama June’s neck (affectionately known to her children as “neck crud”) to Honey’s proclivity for bathing in mayonnaise, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo embodies the myth that everyone in America weighs a minimum of 300 pounds. One of the best episodes involves Mama June dumping a 5 pound bag of sugar into 2 gallons of lemon juice in order to make homemade lemonade. For the record, 64% of Americans are not obese. But with shows like HHere Comes Honey Boo Boo, The Biggest Loser, Extreme Weight Loss, Shedding for the Wedding, Thintervention, Dance Your A** Off, Celebrity Fit Club, I Used To Be Fat, and Ruby, we’re just a bunch of big, fat Americans.

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Jane the Virgin: The CW’s Take on ‘Immaculate’ Conception

Sunday, June 1st, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

The CW is planning to add Jane the Virgin to its fall lineup. Based on a Venezuelan telenovela of the same name, Jane the Virgin is about an intentionally virginal girl who is “accidentally artificially inseminated” by her OB-GYN:

Jane stars Gina Rodriguez (Filly Brown) as a hard-working, devout Latina who is kind of hoping her boyfriend proposes — though she’s a little worried he’ll get down on one knee so she’ll finally agree to do the deed. When a mix-up at the OB-GYN leads to that artificial insemination plot line, Jane must choose whether to keep the baby — and whether to let the handsome father into her life.

Aside from containing a number of Spanish stereotypes, including the paranoid grandmother putting the fear of God into her pre-teen daughter (“Once you lose your virginity, you can never go back!“) to a cast of overtly sexualized Latinas, the show appears to be a platform for some long overdue, serious conversation regarding abortion. However, the show sounds eerily like one of the most famously influential and revered plot lines in the West’s repertoire, leaving one to wonder how a primarily Protestant audience might handle a story that’s been a hit in a Catholic country.

When it comes to the primarily pathetic representation of Latinas on television (does Sofia Vergara have to do it all?) at least Jane the Virgin appears to lack the typical trashiness of Devious Maids.

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The #1 Reason We Watch Call the Midwife

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

This past Sunday, American audiences finally had their chance to wave goodbye to Nurse Jenny Lee, the lead character in the famed Masterpiece series Call the Midwife. However sad it may be, the departure of the show’s Hollywood-bound lead actress Jessica Raine was, ironically, in no way a traumatic one.

Most American shows die when their lead actor disappears. Dan Stevens’ untimely departure from Downton Abbey still enrages fans over a year later. Yet, while Nurse Jenny Lee will be a much missed character, fans are far from outraged at her departure. Perhaps this is because Call the Midwife was never just about Jennifer (Lee) Worth, but about the many lives she encountered and a profession that is finally being given the credit it so sorely deserves. But there is more to the massive success of what began as a 6-episode BBC show about nursing in mid-century London’s bombed-out East End than giving credit where credit is due.

In an era of roughshod marketing tactics and semiotic overload, Call the Midwife, with its pure, heartfelt approach to the vicissitudes of life, is therapeutic television. We are a desensitized audience: No one cries when a pregnant mother is stabbed to death on Game of Thrones. Yet, everyone, including the burly guys on set, shed a tear at every birth on Call the Midwife. We are treated to an East End rife with chamber pots, not sexy chamber maids, and yet audiences are drawn to the show in droves. We love the midwives, even when they are dressed in habits and wimples; they are the ideal face of medicine, mother, and God in an era when we’ve been taught to doubt all three. Like a nurse checking our pulse, Call the Midwife reminds us that we are human after all, and perhaps not as sick as we’ve been led to believe.

And yet, while TV execs struggle with sex and violence in the name of Tweet power, they remain blind to Call the Midwife’s axiom for success: There is powerful endurance in simple truth. Call the Midwife will survive without the character of Jenny Lee because the show has embraced Jennifer Worth’s own mystical sense of timelessness. It is the stuff that fueled her memoirs of both London’s East End and her time as a nurse caring for the dying. Brilliantly captured in the season finale, this sense of the eternal in both life and death is what makes Call the Midwife a healing balm of a show and transcendental television in its finest form. Forget bloody battles and wild, nameless sex. Call the Midwife empowers its audience with the strength to face, not escape, life’s pressures, and the faith to believe that while “weeping may happen for a night, joy breaks forth in the morning.”

Now and then in life, love catches you unawares, illuminating the dark corners of your mind, and filling them with radiance. Once in a while you are faced with a beauty and a joy that takes your soul, all unprepared, by assault.

Jennifer Worth

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Why Women (and Men) Need Biblical Feminism

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

"He hit me so hard I actually saw stars." - Lisa De Pasquale, in an excerpt from page 23 of Finding Mr. Righteous on her alcoholic, atheist boyfriend Chris...

David, in your last response in our ongoing dialogue about Lisa De Pasquale’s new book Finding Mr. Righteous, you cited another disturbing passage from the book (shown above) and paired it with some of your own relationship experiences:

Some of the women I dated would shift the foreplay into one disturbing realm or another, either incorporating pain and degradation into how they treated me or requesting I act that way toward them. Never was it just “for fun” or “to be kinky” or to “spice things up”– always behind these outward expressions some inner emotional wounds ached, unhealed by a spiritual practice.

Or rather, as it turns out, the sex and the pain was their substitute for a religion. …The main takeaway that I’ve gotten from Paglia, supplemented by additional reading from books like A History of Sexual Customs and James C. Bennett and Michael Lotus’s America 3.0, is that throughout human history the Judeo-Christian conception of monogamous marriage is actually the “deviant,” unnatural way to live. History shows that the more “normal” way for both men and women to treat each other is the same way animals do in the wild — as disposable meat. Humans’ default setting is not to love just one person forever. When we do we are rising above our nature; do I go too far that Love itself is not natural?

David, I must congratulate you on your epiphany. You have discovered a truth that many in the mainstream Bible-believing sphere have tried to avoid for years: Those who put their faith in the Bible are the cultural deviants. How hilarious is it that a self-proclaimed atheist can state this so clearly? Then again, one of the reasons Paglia has been blacklisted by liberals is that she is so willing to discuss the difference between pagan and Godly behaviors. Liberals, especially the Marxists in the bunch, long ago learned that it’s much easier to behave badly when you do it under the guise of being Godly. In this case, Paglia’s too honest for her own good.

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Obama’s America: Abortion Deserts Across the Country

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard
The Daily Beast

The Daily Beast

The Daily Beast reports:

There is a nearly 1,200-mile-wide desert of abortion providers stretching from the western border of Idaho to the eastern borders of North and South Dakota. Across this five-state expanse, the total number of cities that offer any form of abortion access can be counted on just two hands. Montana used to be an oasis in that abortion desert, with four clinics in four different cities offering both surgical and medication abortion options, but not anymore.

Montana has gone from four surgical abortion centers in the last year to two in the wake of dedicated abortion provider Dr. Susan Wicklund’s recent retirement.

Even more troubling to the Daily Beast:

Between 2010 and 2013, one in 10 clinics closed across the country—and that was before Texas’s HB 2 began to go into effect, which will close another 20.

Emily Likins, communications director at the Blue Mountain Clinic in Billings, Montana (one of the state’s two remaining abortion providers) said, “We are busy here, and so overbooked. We are short on equipment, short on space, short on providers and short on nurses.”

Well that sounds really safe, doesn’t it? Are the butcheries having that much difficulty finding people to work for them?

She said they have to tell women, ‘We’re sorry, but we can’t get you in this week, and you’re only 9 weeks so we can wait until you are 10.’ We hate doing that,” Likins said. “We don’t want to force people to walk around pregnant when they don’t want to be.”

Not for one extra minute!  (But really, what difference does it make? They can charge more for the late-term jobs.)

The article notes that more than 100 bills limiting access to abortion have passed in multiple states since 2011. Many of these laws have been aimed at increasing the safety of abortion clinics in the wake of the horrific conditions discovered at Kermit Gosnell’s clinic in Philadelphia.

Despite the legislative victories for those who support the sanctity of life, the Daily Beast warns that they may be short-lived. “For states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Wisconsin, the only thing standing between losing most or all of their clinics are court orders blocking bills from being enforced.”

Because finding a sympathetic judge is way easier than winning legislative battles.

If that fails, maybe Michelle Obama can make adopting abortion deserts her new project for President Obama’s second term. Roadside stands anyone?

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Governments’ Desperate Efforts to Encourage Childbirth

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

Countries in a demographic crash are getting into the babymaking business, often with rather hilarious results. In Denmark, a racy new ad campaign offers an incentive for couples to get pregnant. The Danish birthrate is about 10 per 1,000 residents in 2013, which is not so much a lack of babies as a demographic plane crash. This mildly racy Danish ad offers an incentive of three years of free diapers to couples who get pregnant while on vacation.

In Russia where the birthrate is a terribly low 1.61, Valdimir Putin established cash payments for mothers who have three or more children, assuring them of daycare for their tots so they can “continue in their professional life.”

Japan’s abysmal birth rate has led to only 17 million children in a country of 126 million. The Japanese government is trying a rather pathetic campaign that insists that “It’s fun to have babies!” For Japan, it may be too late to come back from self-extinction.

Germany, Italy, Singapore, and over a hundred other countries all face a birth rate so low that they, too, will cease to exist if their populations don’t start reproducing. Twenty-two Muslim countries and territories have declines in fertility of 50% or more, so the declining birthrate is not entirely a Western problem. China famously instituted a one-child program in 1979 and their fertility rate is now 1.55, well below replacement rate.

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NPR Vs. Girl Scout Cookies

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Look. Just go ahead and ban all the things. Except the things that we used to call evil and sins and that were obviously pretty harmful. Keep them. Ban the rest.

It’s a pretty bold move to blast Girl Scout cookies, those precious sugary treats whose limited run from late winter to early spring is just about over for the year.

But a few brave voices argue it’s no longer all that delightful to see little girls peddling packaged cookies, or to buy them in the name of supporting the community. (And no, this is not an April Fools’ joke.)

To some doctors and parents, the tradition increasingly feels out of step with the uncomfortable public health realities of our day.

“The problem is that selling high-fat sugar-laden cookies to an increasingly calorie-addicted populace is no longer congruent with [the Girl Scouts' aim to make the world a better place].” That’s what John Mandrola, a heart doctor in Louisville, Ky., on his blog in March. (He also blogs for Medscape/Cardiology.)

The sentiment was echoed by Diane Hartman, a writer and editor in Denver, who penned an indignant in the Denver Post, “Why are we letting Girl Scouts sell these fattening cookies?”

Exactly. Preach it, sister. Why are we allowing some people to do things that we personally disapprove, except those things that used to be taboo, which are a-ok now? Just ban all the things. Flip the script. Bring the hammer of gubmint down on them all.

Because, concern, and feelings, and all that crap.

See these two girls? They’re minions of evil, er, if we still believed in evil. Which hardly anyone does anymore.

girl-scouts-cookies

Seems to me, one thing evil would do if it existed would be to divide people and distract them over stupid little stuff with no moral content, while really big issues carrying vast implications just slip past with no moral discussion whatsoever.

That would be a clever strategy.

h/t Althouse, who seems to be taking this nonsense seriously, and Ace, who is in in a proper full rant mode.

*****

 Cross-posted from the PJ Tatler

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Is It True That 50 Years Ago Christians Didn’t Care About Abortion?

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

Dr[1]. Francis Schaeffer (1)

Jamelle Bouie argued in Slate recently that “Conservative evangelicals didn’t always care much about abortion or contraception.” Bouie’s article relies largely on the memoir of Jonathan Dudley, who claimed that evangelicals were mostly pro-choice from the 1960s until the rise of the religious right in politics in the 1980s:

It took the organizational might of Falwell and his “Moral Majority”—as well as evangelical anti-abortion figures such as Francis Schaeffer—to galvanize evangelicals around other “culture war” issues such as feminism, homosexuality, and school prayer. This in turn led to alliances with largely Catholic organizations like the National Right to Life Committee.

At First Things Dale M. Coulter concedes that there was a shift in Christian thought on the issues of abortion and contraception beginning in the 1960s but disagrees with the conclusion that Christians were historically absent from debates about the morality of abortion throughout history and in the decades leading up to the 1980s. Coulter cites the concerns over severe birth defects during the time that thalidomide was administered to expectant mothers, concerns over population control and the perception that these were “Catholic” issues as reasons for some of the lax views on abortion during that time, but gives numerous examples of Christians who were vocal opponents. ”This lax view,” Coulter says, “was not universally held even at the time.”

Coulter says Dudley does not take into account contextual factors in history or the history of Christian thought on the issues. “To say Evangelicals were latecomers to opposing abortion represents a selective reading of history, and a false one,” Coulter argues.

He does, however, agree with Bouie that Schaeffer’s 1983 book, Whatever Happened to the Human Race? (written with Dr. C. Everett Koop) was a “catalyst for a return to a staunchly pro-life position” in evangelical Christian thought.

Schaeffer, a philosopher, theologian, and pastor, helped to lead Christian thought back to the traditional view that life is sacred.  He made his case through spiritual, legal, and intellectual arguments, framing the issue of abortion within the context of human rights, and contrasting the naturalistic worldview to a theistic view that affirmed the dignity of the unborn and their right to life. Schaeffer wrote,

“If man is not made in the image of God, nothing, then, stands in the way of inhumanity. There is no good reason why mankind should be perceived as special. Human life is cheapened.”

In a video series based on the book, Schaeffer makes the case for the rights of the unborn and their connection to the larger human community:

Abortion is not only a religious issue, it is a human issue. The fate of the unborn is the fate of the human race. We are all one human family and thus, when the rights of any part of that human family are denied it’s of concern to all of us. What is involved here is the very essence of what true freedom and true rights are all about. Life is sacred — the first, and most precious gift that God gives us…the term ‘abortion on demand’ is a euphemism  for man playing God.

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What Happens to America’s Aborted Babies?

Friday, March 28th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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Warning: graphic descriptions below.

Most of us shared a collective gasp last week when news broke that aborted babies in the UK were incinerated and, in some cases, used to heat hospitals. Mike McNally wrote,

It’s emerged that several National Health Service (NHS) trusts in the UK have been routinely burning the bodies of aborted babies as “clinical waste,” and that in at least two cases the remains were used to heat hospitals – an example of ruthless efficiency if ever there was one. This is what happens when the progressive left’s culture of death meets the heartless bureaucracy of socialized healthcare.

This, of course, has led many to wonder what happens to American babies after they’re aborted. Is the way they are treated upon their demise in the United States any less gruesome than the way they are disposed of across the pond?

Sadly, in our country, aborted babies are treated like trash—medical waste—and they are commonly incinerated. In some cases, the remains are dumped in landfills with other “solid waste” or ground up and dumped into sanitary sewers.

Laws vary by state. California requires that “pathology waste,” which includes recognizable anatomical parts or human tissue specimens, “must be treated by incineration.” New Mexico requires either incineration or interment. In Ohio the law simply says that “products of conception…shall be disposed of in a humane manner,” whatever that means, since “humane” is not defined in the statute.

Texas offers several options for disposal of “tissues or fetuses” (not for the squeamish):

1  Incineration followed by deposition of the residue in a sanitary landfill;

2. Grinding and discharging to a sanitary sewer system;

3. Interment;

4. Steam disinfection followed by interment;

5. Moist heat disinfection followed by deposition in a sanitary landfill;

6. Chlorine disinfection/maceration followed by deposition in a sanitary landfill; or

7. An approved alternate treatment process, provided that the process renders the item as unrecognizable, followed by deposition in a sanitary landfill.

Dear God, what kind of country have we become? Surely we have lost our national soul when our laws can speak in such sanitary and pragmatic terms about the bodies of tiny human beings using words like “grinding,” “maceration” and rendering them “unrecognizable” so they can be deposited into a “sanitary landfill.”

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The Girls Season Finale: Second-Guessing Steinem Feminists

Friday, March 28th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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If there’s one refreshing thing to be said of the season finale of Girls, it’s that Lena Dunham is not a stereotypical feminist after all.

The series finale of Girls opens with Hannah bumping into Adam’s looney sister who is now living with her equally nutty downstairs neighbor, Laird. Newly returned from a hippie commune, the pair are expecting their first child. Hannah asks and is granted permission to touch Caroline’s womb, which she does so with an expression of both doubt and awe. In the next scene, Hannah walks into her own apartment and she touches her own womb in absent-minded contemplation. She is then quickly distracted by an acceptance letter to graduate school in Iowa.

In her typical selfish fashion, Hannah presents her grad school acceptance to Adam minutes before his Broadway premiere. If it wasn’t so sweetly presented you’d think it was a vengeful move. Consequently, Adam feels that his performance has been thrown off. As a result, their relationship goes into full meltdown at the stage door after the show. Adam is outraged that Hannah presented her success to him before he went live: “Why can’t anything ever be easy with you?” he questions angrily.

The well played plot point mirrored Shoshanna’s own struggle at Ray’s rejection. “If memory serves, you’re the one who jettisoned me a while ago,” Ray comments before Shoshanna interjects, ”I want you back,” explaining, “I made a mistake…this entire year of freedom was just f-ing stupid…you make me want to be the best version of myself, and I just want to pretend that I was never not your girlfriend before.” “You pushed me forward in a lot of ways and I’m eternally grateful for that,” Ray explains before finishing with, “but right now, we’re in two different places with very, very, very different goals.”

In the post-episode commentary, Dunham focused on the idea that “relationships aren’t easy,” but the full impact is smarter than that: The episode that begins with the announcement of a pregnancy ends with Hannah’s excited expectations for what Iowa may bring. Embracing second wave feminist legacy, Dunham’s pregnancy metaphor introduces the next battle in the Children versus Career war, questioning the point of male/female sexual relationships.

Rupert Holmes once penned a beautiful line regarding two characters parting in the series Remember WENN: “This is what happens to love when people are in love.” Love is more than a sexual high, a status symbol, or a comfort zone. Love is required work, firstly on the part of one’s self. In their me-driven environment, second wave feminists created the idea that a romantic relationship, not unlike a commune, is nothing more than the temporal cohabitation of two individuals with shared interests. That ideology gave birth to the “Selfie Generation” of which Hannah Horvath is Queen.

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You Can’t Wish Away the Fertility Gap

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

Jill Knapp begs us to “Please Stop Asking Me When I’m Going to Have Children.”

Being that I am still a newly-wed and have just moved to a new city, I am in no rush to have a kid. This is an unacceptable answer to a lot of people. The constant reminders that your clock is ticking and that you don’t want to be confused for your child’s grandparents when they grow up are not making us move any faster. Having children is a big responsibility.

What Jill doesn’t understand is that her fertility is not subject to whim or wishful thinking. Her chances of getting pregnant decline rapidly after 30. By age 40, less than 5 out of every 100 women will be successful at conception. When the Jills of this world decide they want children at 36 or 38 or 42, they enter a long, often fruitless quest for safe pregnancy and childbirth.

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Men achieve fertility at 12 years old and can father children all the way to 96. Women have a narrow fertility window of around 16 to 40. That’s a fertility gap of up to fifty years!

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6 Reasons Why The Good Wife Trumps House of Cards

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014 - by David Forsmark

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Here is your one and only warning: I am going to discuss some House of Cards plot points from season two. But don’t write and say I spoiled the show for you. The writers did that.

While the first season of House of Cards was hardly realistic, the plotting–especially the moves of its main character, Congressman Frank Underwood–was adroit and fascinating.

But in season two Frank Underwood has gone from being an amoral scheming man of unquenchable ambition to a monster with fewer human feelings than Tony Soprano—much fewer.  Unlike Breaking Bad, where we saw a man’s gradual slide from compromising with evil to embracing it, House of Cards lurched into full-blown sociopathy with jarring fashion.

So if you tuned back in to House of Cards this season looking for moments of sheer brilliance like Frank Underwood’s eulogy at the funeral of the girl who drove off the road while texting about the giant-peach water tower—with its mix of pathos, compassion and, yes, self-interest–you will be severely disappointed.

Instead, we are treated to an impenetrable plot about Chinese trade negotiations and illegal campaign finance, and the way Frank is going to use it to undermine the president since he is next in line. But nearly everything about this plot is not how it would, or could, happen in real life—and is weirdly confusing and obvious at the same time.

Worst of all, the House of Cards’ ideological slip is showing, with a complete nonsensical portrait of a “Tea Party” senator who votes “no” on the biggest entitlement reform since entitlements were invented because… well, just because he’s an idiot.

This is in sharp contrast to the CBS legal/political drama The Good Wife. Most of the campaign events and media kerfuffles make sense—as does the public’s reaction to them.  You can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys (or the smart guys from the stupid guys) by their ideology (although extreme leftists like a global warming obsessed federal judge are generally the kookiest characters).

But best of all, good people can do less than admirable things they shouldn’t in the heat of the moment, while antagonists are not always evil or stupid, they are just on the other side of the issue. Though sometimes they are evil or stupid.

Kind of like life outside the political bubble.

Oh yeah, and here’s how every Eliot Spitzer/Anthony Weiner/Mark Sanford press conference should end:

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