Thursday, April 5, 2012

Politics, Women, and Online Commenters: Why I Need a 'Faith in Humanity' Screen

I have a defect. I can't stop reading online comments. I know that they're going to make me feel horrible, squint at my computer screen, and question whether life even has meaning, but I do it anyway.

You know how Gmail has that optional "Beer Goggles" feature that makes you answer math questions before you send an email in the middle of the night? I'd like someone to create a "Faith in Humanity" screen for me. Whenever I scroll to the bottom of an article and get to the comments section, I want this to pop up:

Wouldn't you rather go look at some pictures of kittens? Seriously. It's not too late.

Or this:

The world is full of beautiful things. Wouldn't you rather go for a walk?
Or even:

Brick Wall
Save yourself some time. Headaches fade; disgust with humanity does not. 
I'm not even kidding. Someone make that for me, please. 

But until then, I'm stuck with this affliction: the illogical and masochistic need to scroll down and see how the (mostly) anonymous world has weighed in on a news story. 

Today, this affliction brought me face to face with completely unapologetic sexism. See, there was this story, just a little blurb really, about Obama giving his opinion that women should be allowed into Augusta, the all-male home of the Masters golf tournament. 

This came up because the new CEO of IBM, Virginia Rometty, was not invited to be a member like her four predecessors. Obama's spokesperson didn't say that it should be illegal to keep Rometty and other people who were unfortunate enough to have vaginas out of the exclusive club, just that it the President's "personal opinion" that women should be admitted and that we are "kind of long past the time when women should be excluded from anything." Simple enough, right?

Then you scroll down. 

More Cute Baby Animals Melting Your Heart
STOP! Let's sing some songs. Frolic in the sunshine. Rainbows! Puppies! Cookies! 

Rich 777 had this to say:
Obama:  You left wing socialist:  you need to keep your noxe out of other people's business.  If one doesn't want a women in his club then it is none of your business.  Maybe you should fly around in your helicopter and beautiful plane and sleep.  You are no diffeent than Hitler and his dividing the country and listing czars to run things and destroy what is good.
That's right, Obama! You are no different (or "diffeent") than Hitler!  Letting women golf?! What kind of nonsense will you come up with next? An oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever! 

mtyler3866 just wants us all to get along:
Our president is dumb as dirt and needs to "think" about running the country instead of worrying about an :ALL MALE" golf club.  I have had enough of mixing the sexes.  Women and men are different!  Just that simple.  I really loathe all the women sports announcers and intrusion on male arenas of life.  The same for men that are involved with women sports and such.  Viva la difference!! don't speak french.  Why can't we just all get along!
Really. If only our "dumb as dirt" president could see things this clearly, life would be much simpler. 

But the comments that interested me the most were the ones that suggested Obama is only making these remarks as some sort of political pandering to those silly women voters, you know that crazy minority voting bloc that makes up half of the population and more than half of the voters. A group that is polling largely in favor of Obama (by 20 points in the latest polls).   

insureguy weighed in on Obama's political pandering:
Let's see now...If I can get women into Augusta, they should vote for me. He's pathetic !!
As did dcrick: 
HMMM, lets see if I can sucker a few more women to vote for me by letting my spokes kid say I told him I personnaly think women should be allowed to join Augusta. What a bunch of crap. he will do and say anything, just make stuff up and say it is a fact.
And FanFollow:
UNGABUNGA....he is touching this issue because he doesn't know what else to do. Its the only way he can stay relevant. He doesn't know about having a job and running a business. He has never held one nor does he understand how to do his job. Obama, stick to what you were hired to do if that is at all possible. Your are a complete waste in the office of president.. You fooled a lot of people with your rhetoric the first time so maybe not again. Your numbers are as high as they are because too many people just like you want the government dime and are afraid if you get voted out they will lose their check. Thats the way you want it because thats the way you were raised and thats the way the people around you influenced you. This is a private club that sets their own rules not you....get it!! 
But this sentiment that women are being "suckered" into voting for Obama by his suave and calculated political savvy isn't limited to Fox Sports message boards. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus had some words about the media "fiction" about the GOP's problem with women:
“If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we’d have problems with caterpillars,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” airing this weekend. “It’s a fiction.”
I guess that's just about the only tactic to take here, though.  

I truly don't think that every conservative voter is against women, but it's definitely become a focal point that can't be ignored. Members of the GOP have spent their energy on trying to force medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound bills through several states and all-male panels determining the availability of birth control while Rush Limbaugh (who Rahm Emanuel has called "the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican party") went on a three-day rant to vilify a young woman trying to exercise her right to be heard as a "slut" while insisting that he should get to watch her filmed sex acts because she thinks insurance should cover her birth control. 

Meanwhile, Rick Santorum, potential Republican presidential candidate, has said that women are too "emotional" for combat and contraception is "a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be" while a major supporter of his SuperPAC thinks that all women need to do is stick some Bayer aspirin between their knees to prevent pregnancy. On top of that, Mitt Romney, the candidate in the lead for the Republican candidacy, went out of his way to clarify that he does support the (now-dead, thankfully) Blunt Amendment that would allow employees to deny coverage of medical services they did not morally agree with, an amendment originally aimed at birth control.  

So I guess it is easier to pretend that the media is spinning this out of control instead of directly addressing this clear pattern of attack on women and women's rights. But I'm not buying it, and I bet a whole lot of other women and men who support women aren't either. 

If the GOP has a problem with women, it's deserved and of their own making. If Obama is being "opportunistic" in his decision to make it clear that he does not see women as second-class citizens, well, who gave him the chance to take that opportunity? Furthermore, if there weren't so many people like my commenting friends above who thought that the idea that treating men and women equally was just so ridiculous (like Hitler, remember!), Obama wouldn't be able to take this "opportunity." 


  1. Wow, ridiculous! I wish there was a filter for ignorance...some comments enrage me !

  2. Yeah, I usually don't read "comments" unless I am in the mood to see people act stupid. For some reason people who leave comments are usually trolls or are the worst examples of humanity (except in cases like this where people actually know the author and commentators). The fact is "reasonable person + audience + annonymity = f**ktard."

    1. But if all it takes is anonymity and an audience, were they ever really reasonable people to begin with? That's the part that worries me.