The data’s starting to come in. And despite its being watered down from what it should have been (single payer is my preference), the Affordable Care Act is working to get more people insured in our country. Which is, you know, what it’s supposed to do.
Let’s face it: it’s not easy to talk about men’s issues. First, there’s the fact that women pretty-much objectively have it worse . Second, there’s the fact that most men would rather silently power through their problems than talk about them – as if manliness alone could stop prostate cancer in its tracks. Third there’s the annoying habit of so-called men’s rights activists to turn every discussion on the subject into a cesspool of misogyny.
But make no mistake: there are some issues in our modern world that disproportionately affect men, and our male-dominated media is almost strangely silent on them. I’m talking things like:
It’s no secret that men lead more violent lives than women. We’re more likely to be murdered, more likely to be both the perpetrators and victims of violent crime, more likely to join gangs and more likely to get our asses thrown in jail. In fact, the only areas where women are more-likely to be victims of violence than men—domestic abuse and sexual assault—are in categories where the perpetrators are frequently male. In other words, violence so completely permeates every aspect of our lives that it winds up damaging everyone, regardless of gender. So what’s going on?
Well, it’s almost certainly rooted in childhood. Boys are more likely to be beaten at school than girls, and parents are far more likely to encourage fights between boys. Think about it: if one of your earliest experiences is being told to punch that kid who insulted you, it’s no great leap to imagine you’d reach adulthood thinking violence was the right response to, well, everything. And since our culture loves to reward aggression—in the boardroom, on the sports field, in the military—it’s easy to see why unlearning that lesson might be next to impossible.
Depression itself isn’t solely a men’s issue. It affects people at all points on the social scale and can destroy your life no matter what chromosomes you have. In fact, a UK study went as far to suggest that women are slightly more likely to suffer anxiety or depression than men, so you might be wondering why the hell I included it here. The answer is as simple as it is saddening: men absolutely suck at handling mental illness.
No joke. Whereas women are likely to seek help for mental problems, we men are absolute experts at pretending there’s nothing wrong – even if we’re dying inside. And that’s a major problem, because not getting help can lead down a very dark path indeed. Right now, suicide is the single biggest killer of young men in Britain, with America not far behind. To put it bluntly, if you’re young and have a penis you’re more likely to kill yourself than you are be killed by someone else – even in an active warzone. Read that again: the biggest killer of our troops in Afghanistan is not bombs, gunfire or terrorism. It’s suicide. By rights this should be a national scandal. But because of our dumb ideas of masculinity no-one even wants to talk about it – and young lives continue to be wasted.
We (hopefully) all know by now that neither gender is more innately intelligent than the other. So what would you expect to see if you looked at graduation rates across the country? A level playing field? Not quite.
Studies show a vast gender gap opening up in education; but not in the way your sexist great-grandpa would have supposed. In pretty much all measures of attainment, we men are trailing women by an embarrassing margin. Sixty percent of all Bachelor’s degrees in America are held by women with similar numbers in Britain. While this is great for the sisterhood, it leads to some shocking social consequences. The youth unemployment rate for black male dropouts, for example, now stands at over fifty percent, a number so large it’s unreal. So what’s causing this destructive trend?
Well, you can put that down to our good old masculine expectations again. According to the LA Times, only about half of all boys expect to work in well-paid professional jobs when they grow up, compared to nearly three quarters of girls. In other words, we’re somehow teaching young boys that either learning is ‘girl’s stuff’, or that there’s no point in being aspirational. Either way, it’s a hell of dumb lesson.
You’ve probably heard of the gender pay gap. It’s basically a polite way of saying our society is screwed up—paying one set of earners more than the other, based on nothing but the shape of their genitals. Currently, women earn on average only eighty percent of what men do, so it can be tempting to cheer when you hear the trend is reversing. Until you realize what that actually means.
By analyzing the pay of workers in 147 of the biggest US cities, researchers discovered that unmarried, childless women under 30 are now making eight percent more their male equivalents. In Atlanta and Memphis, they were making a staggering twenty percent more; with New York women not far behind with an extra seventeen percent. The main reason for this is the education gap we just talked about – women as a group are more qualified, so are therefore entitled to earn more. The sane response would be for the mainstream media to use this story as a way of focusing attention on boys’ saddening lack of aspiration, with the aim of creating an equally-educated and paid society. Instead it’s largely being ignored by everyone but angry ‘men’s rights’ types, which isn’t helping at all.
It’s a depressing fact of life that some people get off on controlling others. Since life is horrible, this often translates to marriages where one partner physically or emotionally abuses the other. Usually, the victims are women and the abusers male – hence the existence of women’s shelters and charities and so on.
Thankfully, decades of effort has made women more aware of their existence and removed the stigma of seeking help. The same cannot be said for men’s shelters.
The Guardian recently revealed that forty percent of all UK domestic violence victims are male. In America, the numbers are almost as bad. Shockingly, more married men were victims of abuse than women in 2012 – yet men’s shelters remain almost non-existent. In the UK, for example, there are 33 beds available in the whole country, compared with 4,000 for women. Worst of all, (male) police officers are often unsympathetic to abuse victims, leading to a frighteningly-low conviction rate, even by domestic violence standards. For a whole host of stupid reasons, our culture continues to see men who are abused by women as pathetic, unmanly and even undeserving of sympathy. And that needs to change, because victims are victims, no matter who they are.
The trouble with writing an article like this is that it can all too easily sound like a boring men v. women polemic. So when I open this section by saying that breast cancer research attracts more funding than any other kind, be aware that I mean that I mean that in a good way. Breast cancer is a killer, pure and simple, and I don’t think a penny spent on research into beating it should be spent elsewhere. However, it would be nice to see an equal amount being raised for prostate cancer research, especially considering the risks involved are nearly-identical.
Honestly: according to the National Cancer Institute, one in eight women will get breast cancer in their lifetimes, while one in seven men will get prostate cancer. But, unlike breast cancer, no-one has yet been brave enough to start a media discussion about prostate cancer; meaning the idea of, say, doing a fun-run to raise money for research is still considered kinda weird. There’s literally no reason for this state of affairs to exist, and yet it does. Why? Who the hell knows.
If you want to hear a shockingly bizarre statistic, they don’t come much more shocking or bizarre than this: men account for ninety three percent of all workplace deaths in America. Ninety three percent. That’s such a disproportionate number that it shouldn’t be possible even by accident—especially considering women work forty three percent of all hours worked each year. This isn’t a cherry-picked piece of data either: this article from way back in 1995 reports similar numbers.
Obviously, most of this is to do with blue-collar men tending to work the most-dangerous jobs. Fishermen, loggers and truck drivers have the highest fatality rates in the country, followed by airline pilots and flight engineers. But the fact remains that being male makes you more-likely to die in the workplace; a strange and unsettling fact that goes almost entirely unreported.
In 2007, a survey carried out by the US mayors’ congress found that nearly seventy percent of American homeless people were men. As a ratio that’s absurd. And guess what? In other countries it’s even worse: a random survey in Amsterdam placed the percentage of homeless who were male at a stupefying eighty eight percent. Even in countries with a smaller gender gap, like Australia, men still account for over fifty percent of the general homeless population. And once you’re out on the streets, the gender gap only gets worse. According to a Danish report, homeless men die an average of five years earlier than homeless women. How such a massive difference is even possible I don’t know. But for a whole host of reasons, each one probably more stupid than the last, men are statistically more likely to wind up on the streets and die earlier once they get there. And the media responds by doing its best to never even mention this problem.
A century or so ago, women basically didn’t have rights. Husbands could rape their wives, beat them and refuse them access to their children. So we men are a heck of a long way from having things as bad as our great-great grandmothers. But it’s a disturbing fact that bias has slipped in to the modern family court system, and it’s not doing anyone any favors.
In 2008, Newsweek noted that women win sole-custody battles five out of six times. As family law attorney David Pisarra recently pointed out in the Huffington Post, the reason for this is a basic sexism on the part of conservative male judges—who tend to still think women should be at home with the children while men are out earning money. This leads to a strange state of affairs where men are often automatically considered to be a bad parent, even in cases where they’re demonstrably not.
Now, I’m not saying that there are no bad fathers. Or that divorce automatically results in fatherless kids: surveys suggest most couples are fine dividing up visitation rights by themselves. However, we should be looking to chase out ANY bias we see in the court system—no matter how small. Otherwise we don’t have real equality.
Of all the problems I’ve mentioned above, none is so damaging to men as our own notions of masculinity. For all internet commenters like to claim feminism is holding men back and turning us into victims, the reality is we’re doing a perfectly good job of it ourselves. As fathers, we teach boys to lash out instead of restrain themselves. As a culture we teach men to hide their emotions even if it kills them. As a society we teach boys to aim low and not educate themselves for a well-paying job. And look where that’s got us: prone to suicide, prone to homelessness, often unable to see our kids and unwilling to confront violence with anything but more violence. As the journalist Ally Fogg recently said:
“The truth is that even if every single feminist of every single flavour abandoned feminism today and went back to bed with a good book for the rest of her life, it would make barely a jot of difference to the real and significant problems facing men.”
And, until we find a way to separate those good parts of traditional masculinity from the absurdly-damaging ones, this will always be the case.
I believe that if you call yourself pro-life, you better damn well take care of the living. There, I said it. But Texas’ attacks on Planned Parenthood and its refusal to take Medicaid money have left women not only without the option to terminate their pregnancies, it’s left them with hardly any care at all. Gov. Rick Perry might be standing by his principles, but his constituents are just plain getting stood up.
WASHINGTON — Major Stephen Snyder-Hill found himself at the center of the national debate over the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” when he was booed by audience members at a a September 2011 Republican presidential debate when he asked about the change that allows him now to serve his country and talk openly about his husband, Joshua.
Two years later, in a sign of the changed landscape for same-sex couples, Stephen and Joshua Snyder-Hill went to the Defense Supply Center, Columbus, or DSCC, in Ohio on Tuesday — where Joshua became “official,” as Stephen put it, and received his spousal military ID card on the first day the cards were available to same-sex spouses.
“I’ve been in the military for 24 years. I was pre-‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ during and after. It’s just been a really long fight, I think, for [same-sex couples’] military families to be able to get the same protection that other soldiers’ families get,” Stephen Snyder-Hill told BuzzFeed Tuesday afternoon. “I mean, we’ve had times when we’ve had family days, things that just beat down your morale because you just feel like you’re not the same or you’re not equal or you’re not protected as well. And I think that now, we’re pretty much equal.”
The U.S. military began recognizing married same-sex couples Tuesday, and one of the key changes allows service members’ same-sex spouses to obtain a spousal military ID card. The card provides access to bases and services provided by the military to military families, and, before Tuesday, it was available only to opposite-sex spouses.
Before June, when the Supreme Court struck down the ban on the federal government recognizing same-sex couples’ marriages, the military had at first refused equal recognition and then announced it would prepare “domestic partner” ID cards. With the ruling, however, the Pentagon changed course, announcing that full marital recognition would be forthcoming.
Tuesday it arrived, and Stephen and Joshua Snyder-Hill were among the first to take advantage of the change — although both pointed to the fact that, off base, their home state of Ohio does not recognize their marriage.
“It’s weird, because today was when the reality is finally hitting. We’ve been watching it gradually change … It’s one of those instances where, I didn’t even get excited for the moment because you don’t know what it’s going to be like. You kind of have reservations about whether it’s actually going to happen. You saw some of the posts about different places in Texas saying they wouldn’t be able to recognize it,” Joshua said of the Texas National Guard’s notice, reported by The Washington Blade, that relying on Texas law it would not be recognizing same-sex spouses despite the Pentagon’s change in policy.
“You don’t know how the people are going to react to you. There’s this weird kind of suspicion as to whether it’s actually going to happen, even though it’s all over and you see it and it’s moving in the right direction. It just didn’t feel real until the guy handed me the card.”
The couple’s day began early on Tuesday, as Joshua told BuzzFeed on Tuesday.
“We found out, actually, that they had just changed the hours this week to 6:15 in the morning, so we literally pulled up to the office at 6:15 this morning. So, that very, very dark picture is because, yes, it was pretty early,” he said.
“I even got to work on time. I was able to go home, have a cup of coffee and still come to work and be there on time.”
“The guy was really nice. He was just chatting with us, kinda made fun of us for our hyphenated name — talked about how long it was. He was really nice, couldn’t have been sweeter,” Joshua said.
“I think it finally hit me when I got to work, because I sat down and I realized, ‘Holy cow,’ I was reading some of the posts people were putting, and I was reading the post that Stephen put, which was basically, ‘How interesting is it to think that, technically, we have more rights and more protection and more respect on a military base than we do the minute we kinda step into our own home.’”
“I think for a lot of people that have such respect for the Army and the military and our service members, it kind of opens the door immediately to a pretty obvious lack of respect that we still have,” Joshua said.
“People may have this kind of arbitrary view when it comes to how they feel about somebody who’s LGBT being in the Army, but the minute they actually put a person to that situation, the whole story changes. The whole reason why I think we continue to progress forward is because more people tell their story.”
Stephen, from his perspective, said, “It feels so good to fight for rights that you actually are taking now. As soldiers, gay people have been fighting for rights that we haven’t been able to have for years,” noting the “bittersweet” fact that, despite the military recognition, Ohio does not recognize his marriage.
To that, Joshua said, “This is a pretty big story now. We have soldiers that could be deployed to states that don’t observe their marriage. So, somebody is from New York and gets forced to come to Ohio for whatever different service they may need to do. Suddenly, they go from having all of the protections that they normally would have as a married couple to suddenly being stripped down to nothing the minute they leave their base.
“How right does that sound to anybody? It starts to open the door to a real conversation as to why this needs to be fixed.”
What was the first thing they said to each other after getting Joshua’s ID card?
“Stephen says, ‘Finally, I can just send you there alone.’ We go to the little mart there, that has groceries and different things and now, it was kind of a joke, ‘Now I can just send you all alone; I don’t need to be your escort when you go to the base,’ which was kind of cool,” Joshua said.
“It’s just the little things that you think about, but they’re kind of significant, kind of a neat victory. It’s the weirdest thing to see that kind of stuff come to fruition and then suddenly realize you still don’t have a lot at home.”
“Deployment was a big thing,” Joshua said. “When Stephen was over in Iraq, I remember two or three times when a mortar would go off when we would be on Skype, and it’s the scariest thing. It’s one of the reasons I became such an activist is because I thought, ‘What happens if he does get hurt or he does get killed? I have no idea where I sit.’”
Of emergency leave that other service members were granted for spousal emergencies at home, Stephen said of the time during his last deployment, “We weren’t guaranteed any of that stuff. If I go to be deployed [now], I can’t tell you how much of a relief that causes me not to have to worry about that kind of stuff so I can focus on my mission — which is what it should be the whole time.”
Joshua agreed, saying, “Today it’s going to be a huge, huge difference. The insecurities that we had. With ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ gone, now we can say goodbye to each other. And now, we know that if something goes wrong, we’re going to get the respect that we deserve.”
Celebrating the news on Facebook, Joshua wrote Tuesday morning, “Today was my last day of being recognized as a visitor by the military, now I am a spouse.”
But, noting the incomplete nature of the protections granted to him and Stephen as Ohioans, he added, “Maybe someday the State of Ohio will pay me that same respect.”
WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee as soon as next week could insert new protections for same-sex couples into bipartisan immigration reform legislation quickly making its way through the chamber — injecting another contentious social issue into the already heated immigration debate.
Although the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators did not include language allowing Americans in same-sex relationships to sponsor their foreign partner for a green card in the base bill, Democratic lawmakers and aides alike said its inclusion during the committee markup, which begins next week, appears likely.
“I expect that it would be an amendment that could be adopted by the committee. … I hope it will receive a majority vote in the committee,” Judiciary Committee member Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Tuesday.
Although Chairman Patrick Leahy is expected to offer the amendment, at least officially his office insists no final decision has been made.
“The Chairman believes that equality and family unification need to be a part of this legislation but he has not decided his amendment strategy yet,” a Judiciary Committee aide told BuzzFeed. “All amendments must be filed by next Tuesday night (the 7th) at 5 p.m. Then members will decide what to offer in the Committee mark ups.”
But staff for Democrats on the committee said a vote on the amendment, similar to language in the Uniting American Families Act, is likely a foregone conclusion.
“Frankly, the bill getting out of committee without the Uniting American Families language isn’t really a possibility we’ve considered,” said Ian Koski, a spokesman for Sen. Chris Coons, who also serves on the committee. Spokespersons for two other members of the committee, Sens. Al Franken and Sheldon Whitehouse, also voiced support for the provision.
The base immigration reform bill introduced by the Gang of Eight earlier this month did not include such protections, but LGBT advocates said at the time that they were hopeful such a measure would be added to the bill in committee. The Defense of Marriage Act’s prohibition on the federal government recognizing same-sex couples’ marriages mean that requests by such couples for green cards are not granted and have been denied in the past.
The measure to allow same-sex couples to be eligible for green cards has been introduced as the Uniting American Families Act for the past several sessions of Congress, and its absence from the base bill drew only muted criticism from supporters of the measure’s inclusion at the time.
Assuming Leahy does introduce the amendment, it is all but certain to be accepted. “This Judiciary Committee has a strong and consistent record on matters of equality and we expect that this amendment will have equally strong support,” Koski said.
All 10 of the Democratic members on the committee have expressed support for marriage equality and are considered reliable votes in favor of LGBT equality measures.
One Democratic aide, however, said the decision of whether the amendment will be offered and voted upon in committee once deliberations on the bill begin May 9 is up to Leahy.
A possible reason for Democrats’ desire to keep from stating their plans unambiguously is the nature of the delicate coalition attempting to move immigration reform forward.
Sen. Jeff Flake — a Republican member of the Gang of Eight who also is on the Judiciary Committee — put the issue front and center in a statement provided to BuzzFeed. “There’s a reason that this language wasn’t included in the Gang of Eight’s bill — it’s a deal breaker for most Republicans. Finding consensus on immigration legislation is tough enough without opening the bill up to social issues,” Flake said in the statement.
If the provision ends up being added into the bill, Republicans could be given an attempt to remove the provision on the floor, but it almost definitely would fail. At that point, the question would be whether Senate Republicans otherwise inclined to vote for the bill would be willing to give up those political gains in order to eliminate the potential for a gay-rights gain in the immigration reform bill.
Even if included in the Senate bill, the measure likely would not find its way into any House version of immigration reform, which would either lead to a conference committee or a situation similar to that faced by the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization, when House Republicans balked at a more inclusive Senate version in the last session of Congress but relented and passed the Senate version earlier this year.
But Blumenthal dismissed that notion that the same-sex provisions could end up being a deal breaker. “There’s no justification for that result. My hope is that Republicans who may be talking about this provision being a deal breaker will reconsider,” Blumenthal said.
WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Tuesday that the military was prepared to take action in Syria after intelligence showed that the Assad regime may have used chemical weapons, but that he isn’t convinced military intervention would produce the desired outcome.
“Whether the military effect would produce the kind of outcome that not just members of Congress but all of us would desire — which is an end to the violence, some kind of political reconciliation among the parties and a stable Syria — that’s the reason I’ve been cautious, is the right word, about the application of the military instrument of power, because it’s not clear to me that it would produce that outcome,” Dempsey said at a lunch with reporters.
“That said, options are ready,” Dempsey said. “If either it becomes clear to me, or I’m ordered to do, so we will act.”
Dempsey, who just returned from a 10-day trip abroad to Asia, declined to specifically address what President Obama said on Tuesday about whether or not the United States will intervene in Syria; “I won’t go into detail about what those options might be,” for possible intervention, Obama said at a press conference. But Dempsey said that the military’s posture on the issue has not changed.
“Nothing I’ve heard in the last week or so has changed anything about the actions we’re taking in the military,” Dempsey said. “We’ve been planning and we’ve been developing options. We’re looking to determine whether these options remain valid as the conditions change.”
Dempsey warned that the Syrian situation isn’t quite analogous to Libya just before the fall of Moammar Qaddafi, because of the Syrian army’s superior air force.
“The air defense picture in Libya was dramatically different than it is in Syria,” Dempsey said. “In Syria there are five times more air defense systems, some of which are high end air defense systems. The US military has the capability to defeat that system, but it would be a greater challenge, take longer, and require more resources.”
Dempsey sounded cautious about implementing the no-fly zone for which some members of Congress such as John McCain have argued, saying that there were several disadvantages to doing so.
“To be effective, a no-fly zone would have to have several elements,” Dempsey said. “We would have to knock down some of the integrated air defense system of an adversary.”
“They could in fact take exception to the fact that we were enaciting a no-fly zone and then act outside of their borders,” he said.
“We’re kind of the victims of our own success,” he said. “We’ve made the very difficult look very manageable for a very long time.”
Dempsey said he didn’t recall when the initial intelligence about chemical weapons being possibly used by the Assad regime became available, and couldn’t specify what the physiological samples were composed of. Like Obama, he said that the chain of custody on the weapons hadn’t yet been established.
He didn’t say whether the “red line” in Syria been crossed.
“I don’t set red lines,” Dempsey said. But, “I’m a member of the National Security Council so I do have the opportunity to express my personal judgments as these issues evolve.”
1. These days, the Obama administration is experiencing some of the coldest relations with Russia in decades.
But it wasn’t always this way.
2. In 1995, Russia’s first president, Boris Yeltsin visited New York to give a speech at the United Nations.
3. While in NYC, Yeltsin met with President Clinton and the two really hit it off. Media at the time predicted the meeting would be a disaster.
4. At a press conference after the meeting, Yeltsin, speaking directly to the press, mentioned the doom and gloom predictions.
This got Clinton chuckling.
5. He said to the journalists: “What you were writing was that today’s meeting with President Bill Clinton was going to be a disaster.”
6. “Well, now for the first time, I can tell you that you’re a disaster. “
10. And Yeltsin started cracking up when Clinton gave him a bro-hug.
11. And then they both started crying.
12. And this is how they left the stage:
13. And everyone left the press conference happy about the U.S.A. and Russia, except this guard.
14. If you have one miunute, you should watch this video to feel better about the world:
15. And Obama says:
Another section of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s 2012 book Government Bullies appears to be plagiarized from an article by a think tank scholar, as well as a section of a speech copied from a conservative chain email.
As BuzzFeed previously reported, parts of the book were plagiarized from a variety of sources, including the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute and a Forbes article.
As was the case with other instances, Paul includes a link to the work in his book’s footnotes, but does not note that the language itself was taken from the source.
Here’s Cato scholar Timothy Sandefur of the Pacific Legal Foundation in Regulation Magazine in an article on wetlands.
Congress enacts broadly worded statutes threatening devastating penalties for vaguely worded violations—and leaves administrative officials the discretion to fill in the details.
And here’s how Paul wrote it:
Congress enacts broadly worded statutes threatening devastating penalties for vaguely worded violations— and leaves administrative officials to then muddy the law through drawn-out litigation with the discretion to fill in the details.
Here’s how a line appeared in a conservative chain email dating back to 2003 about a billion dollars:
A billion seconds ago it was 1959. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive. A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age. A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet. A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes.
Here’s how Paul delivered it in floor remarks on Social Security:
A billion seconds, ago I was in high school. A billion minutes ago, Jesus was alive. A billion hours ago, we were in the Stone Age. But a billion dollars ago at the rate the government spends it, was only a few minutes ago.
The book’s publisher, Center Street, said Tuesday it will update future printings to include attributions to the Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute.
“We are informed that the material used from the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute was used with permission, which was indicated in the source notes at the end of the book,” said Rolf Zettersten, the senior vice president and publisher of Center Street. “To avoid any future misunderstanding, future printings will include the attribution in the narrative.”
The Kentucky senator’s office said this week they will implement a new “approval process” to ensure proper citation in the future.