Women Are Turning Away From Religion

Great news:

Since 1991, the percentage of women attending church during a typical week has decreased by 11 percentage points to 44 percent, the Barna Group reported Monday (Aug. 1).
Sunday school and volunteering among women also has diminished. Two decades ago, half of all women read the Bible in a typical week — other than at religious events. Now 40 percent do.
The survey also found a marked stepping away from congregations: a 17 percentage increase in the number of women who have become “unchurched.” “For years, many church leaders have understood that ‘as go women, so goes the American church,'” wrote Barna Group founder George Barna, on his website. “Looking at the trends over the past 20 years, and especially those related to the beliefs and behavior of women, you might conclude that things are not going well for conventional Christian churches.”

I hope that women are finally catching on to the sad truth that the Fundamentalists only see us as baby-incubators who should give birth, breastfeed and shut up.

I strongly believe that women will be a lot happier if, instead of the Sunday service where they will be told how inferior they are to men, they’ll just get extra sleep, read a book, take a long bath, sunbathe, or blog about how hateful organized religions have always been towards women.

Let’s hope this wonderful trend continues!

Feminism and Capitalism

“Why don’t we hear more feminist voices criticizing capitalism?” a reader asks.

“Because there is no feminism without capitalism,” is my answer.

Before I explain why I say that, I want to clarify my definitions of both capitalism and feminism.

Capitalism is an economic system in which the means of production are privately owned and operated for profit, usually in competitive markets.

Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women.

I took both definitions from Wikipedia to make our lives easier with simple, unencumbered, unemotional definitions.

Women have historically been subjected to men for two physiological reasons:

1. Women are smaller physically and can be overpowered by the greater physical force of men.

2. Women are limited by the birth cycle. If you spend your entire life pregnant, giving birth, nursing, pregnant, giving birth, and so on, this will put you in a position of dependence towards somebody who is not similarly limited.

This is all explained in detail and beautifully by the great Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex.

Now, capitalism is a system where your physical bulk becomes completely and utterly irrelevant. A tiny, feeble, bed-ridden person can easily be the master of 10,000 giants who will follow the small person’s every command. This isn’t the feudal system where brute force rules everything and everyone. In capitalism, money becomes the decisive factor. As a result, the smaller size and the lesser physical strength of women becomes completely irrelevant. The liberatory potential of this is huge.

In a similar way, capitalism frees women from the dependence on the birth cycle. As a system driven by profit above all, it comes to fulfill the huge demand for birth control. Capitalism is always driven by competition. Which is why any product that is in demand, that can be potentially sold to a big enough group of people, will keep getting developed, improved, and offered for consumption. Birth control, formula, breast pumps, day cares, nurseries, etc. have all liberated women from depending on their physiology.

It is no coincidence that feminism and capitalism developed at the same time and at a similar pace. If the capitalism hadn’t come into existence, I am convinced that we would still see the feudal society where women had to be hidden and closely guarded or be raped routinely.

This is a topic where I welcome all kinds of disagreement because I want to see whether and how this argument can be taken apart.

Just Give Me the Exact Text of the Comment

I really love blogs that end every other post with a long explanation of what people should write in the comments. Like this one:

Commenters are strictly prohibited from criticizing each other, auditing other commenters’ choices, questioning other commenters’ circumstances, or offering advice, unless it is explicitly solicited. You are being invited to talk about your own experiences, not stand in judgment of anyone else’s.

And this one from the same blog:

By way of reminder: Comments that try to suss out what changes, exactly, were made, and even comments noting that, for example, the removal of laugh lines because they are ZOMG wrinkles actually robs a face of its character or humanity, are welcome. Discussions of how “she looks prettier/hotter/better in the candid picture” and associated commentary (which would certainly make me feel like shit if I were the person being discussed) are not. So please comment in keeping with the series’ intent, implicit in which is the question: If no one can ever be beautiful enough, then to what end is the pursuit of an elusive perfection?

I think one could streamline the whole process by publishing a list of accepted comments which readers could simply copy-paste into the comment box. Those of us who have read Ilf and Petrov’s The Golden Calf are now peeing themselves with laughter.

Through the Eyes of a Stranger: Sprinkling Madness

Please look at the mini-ravine in the photo. At night, there are 6 sprinklers servicing it. Three sprinklers on one side and three more on the other. Of course, the water rolls down immediately and the ravine is just as yellow and ugly as the unsprinkled patch of grass right next to it.

I would understand it if the sprinkles watered a flower-bed or a vegetable garden. Understanding lawn-sprinkling is harder for me but I’m willing to accept that this is a cultural heritage of the British who worship their lawns.

This mini-ravine, however, is a mystery to me. Why would anybody want to waste crazy amounts of fresh water every night to water this useless, ugly little space? This can serve no practical purpose.

Am I missing something?

Anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, Part III

What the veterans discovered when they came back from the war wasn’t just the poverty, the hunger and the destruction. They also came back to a country that had changed completely between 1941 and 1945. The former idealism, the faith in the revolution, communism, fraternity and equality were dead and gone. Profound cynicism and materialism set in. A very visible elite was formed that consisted of people who had connections and could get objects of luxury and trade them for other objects of luxury. The last generation of party leaders who took a tram to work was the pre-war one. The new generation led truly princely lifestyles. (This is something that would never change. Today, their grandchildren are the political leaders and the owners of the supposedly post-Soviet Russia.)

Understandably, the popular discontent was growing. People realized that even though they had won the war, all they had to come home to was misery and back-breaking labor that would only enrich the lucky few. Stalin needed to channel this massive unhappiness somewhere. As usual, he didn’t invent anything new but simply copied one of the people he admired the most in the world: Hitler.

The remedy took. People remembered how comforting it was to hate those greedy, nasty, scheming Jews and popular anti-Semitism grew.

There was another reason why Stalin encouraged anti-Semitism, though. There is ample evidence that at the time right before his death he was preparing to unleash World War III. Of course, he couldn’t initiate a nuclear conflict and expect the downtrodden of the world to support him. He needed to provoke his greatest enemy, the United States. I strongly believe that public trials of Jews  and mass deportations were planned specifically to provoke the United States into doing something that would justify the entrance of the USSR into a global nuclear conflict.

After Stalin’s death, anti-Semitism remained the daily reality both on the popular and on the institutional levels until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Nowadays, I don’t think that anti-Semitism is much of an issue in the FSU countries for the simple reason that most Jews left.

This concludes this series of posts. I will now accept questions and comments on how well I explain complex facts of history. 🙂

Anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, Part II

In 1945, Soviet Union defeated the Nazi Germany and liberated the surviving Jews from the concentration camps. Soviet Jews had participated in the war effort heroically, in every capacity imaginable.

Three years later, a vicious anti-Semitic campaign was unleashed within the country against the Soviet Jews. If Stalin hadn’t died (or had been killed, which is far more probable), Soviet Jews would have been deported to Siberia. This was a very doable plan for Stalin, since he had already deported several nations to Siberia in their entirety. The deportations were going to be preceded by 1937-style trials over prominent Jews. The first such trial was going to be one where famous Jewish doctors would be condemned to death for, supposedly, organizing the murders of the Communist leaders of the Soviet Union, starting with Lenin and Gorky.

Many people believe even today that this anti-Semitic revival was a result of Stalin’s personal dislike for Jews. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no evidence that Stalin ever relied on personal sympathies or lack thereof in any of his crucial decisions. Let’s remember that he played the key role in the creation of the State of Israel. Besides, he collaborated with Jews in his government for decades. It’s very hard to believe that one day he just woke up and decided to entertain some long-held grudge against Jews all of a sudden.

Just like everything else he did, Stalin’s anti-Semitic policies served very practical purposes. On the one hand, anti-Semitism was what the country needed to vent the grievances caused by the war. During the war, many people crossed the Soviet borders for the first time in their lives. My Ukrainian grandfather was from a small village that had been ravaged by the Soviet policies aimed at destroying the Ukrainian agriculture. He walked across the entire Eastern and Central Europe with his regiment. And that was when he discovered that Soviet propaganda had been lying to him his entire life. Polish and German farmers lived incomparably better and richer lifestyles than he on the most fertile soil in Europe, in Ukraine. Even after the destruction of the war, it was obvious that he was a pauper compared to these “poor victims of capitalist greed.”

There were millions of soldiers and prisoners of war who came back with such stories. Many of them were sent to the concentration camps. Stalin couldn’t jail every single war veteran, however.

(To be continued. . . )

Free Birth Control from Obama

This is really cool:

Health insurance plans must cover birth control as preventive care for women, with no copays, the Obama administration said Monday in a decision with far-reaching implications for health care as well as social mores.

The requirement is part of a broad expansion of coverage for women’s preventive care under President Barack Obama’s health care law. Also to be covered without copays are breast pumps for nursing mothers, an annual “well-woman” physical, screening for the virus that causes cervical cancer and for diabetes during pregnancy, counseling on domestic violence, and other services. . .  The new requirements will take effect Jan. 1, 2013, in most cases. Tens of millions of women are expected to gain coverage initially, and that number is likely to grow with time.

So let’s not rush to condemn Obama outright. He is doing some important things. Unless you are convinced that a Republican president will not overturn these measures, then, please, don’t say that it doesn’t matter who wins the 2012 elections.

This one measure will do more for lowering the rates of abortion than decades of anti-choice screechings.

I Wonder If Chomsky. . .

. . . has been following the recent events in the US Congress and whether he still feels that the Tea Partiers can be recruited for massive support of progressive causes (the video has been removed by YouTube, but it’s clear from the comments what it was about.) A year ago, I said the following:

There is this huge delusion on the Left that there is a way of connecting with some of these people [Tea Partiers] and getting them on our side. Now Chomsky is participating in that delusion as well. But I don’t think that strategy will work. It never has before.

Everybody was trying to persuade me that Tea Partiers are the movement of the disadvantaged and the unemployed who have a huge potential of coming to support a Liberal agenda.

Today, the representatives elected by those same Tea Partiers have destroyed what this country still had left of its welfare system.

Now, was I right or was I completely right?

A Sad Evolution of a Former Feminist

It isn’t easy to understand a writer who tells you that “Bachmann can summon the spirit of McCarthy to raise the equally bizarre specter of socialism’s tentacles.” A spirit that raises a specter is too convoluted an image for my liking.

It is equally difficult to decipher the writings of somebody who believes that the Tea Party movement and feminism have a natural affinity because

the core of feminism is individual choice and freedom, and it is these strains that are being sounded now more by the Tea Party movement than by the left. . . Feminism is philosophically as much in harmony with conservative, and especially libertarian, values – and in some ways even more so.

But the most frustrating thing of all is seeing how a formerly brilliant feminist journalist has degenerated into a semi-literate, bumbling defender of the “true feminism” of Palin and Bachmann. This is precisely what happened to Naomi Wolf. You can find her most recent exercise in celebrating the supposedly feminist Thatcher, Palin and Bachmann here.

Servant Mentality

Crowds of people in my blogroll are peeing themselves with delight over the following list of instructions an unnamed important person sent to his or her future collaborator:

This isn’t all. The list continues, and you can see it in its entirety here.

I have known poverty and the hopelessness it brings. However, I can absolutely promise you that I would never ever consider working with an individual who’d disrespect me to the point of handing me such a list. There is no amount of money – not a million, not a billion, not a trillion dollars – that I would accept for spending even a day in the same room with this neurotic.

People who are gushing over how much they admire the “no-bullshit author” of the list should get out a dictionary and find the definition of the words “dignity” and “self-respect.”