It makes the head spin

Tell me honestly — how are the state prison systems supposed to deal with the following true scenario?

The person at issue was born a man, and started taking hormones to feminize his appearance. At some point, he committed a crime and ended up in California’s state prison system. He continued to be given access to those hormones while in prison but, because he still had male genitalia (i.e., no surgery), he was assigned to a men’s prison. While in prison, he “initially was in a consensual sexual relationship with [his] cellmate in violation of prison policy, did not report specific rape claims and refused offers to be moved to a different cell. Once []he made it clear [his] cellmate was sexually assaulting [him] and prison staff found strangulation marks on [his] neck, []he was removed to protective custody, the state maintains.”

As a result of the assaults committed against him by his former cell mate, the person at the heart of this story is now suing the California prison system (and, by extension, the California taxpayers) for an undisclosed sum of money. Here is how the AP story opens, and please note that the person at issue, although biologically male, with a full set of male equipment, is referred to throughout using feminine pronouns:

Alexis Giraldo was born as a man and takes hormones to feminize her appearance, a fact she says prison officials didn’t care about even as her male cellmate repeatedly raped and beat her.

Giraldo is suing the state prison system and several guards over the state’s policy of assigning inmates like her to men’s or women’s prisons depending on whether they have had a sex change.

“Prisons are violent places, and male prisons are especially violent places,” said Greg Walston, a lawyer who took Giraldo’s for free and asked a jury this week for unspecified damages. “You take that boiling cauldron and you put one woman in there — which is exactly what happened here — and it’s like throwing a fresh piece of meat into a lion’s cage.”

Giraldo, 30, claims Folsom State Prison guards ignored her complaints and returned her to the same cell until she was assaulted again, then placed in protective custody and moved to another facility.

Giraldo is suing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for emotional distress and violating her constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. She has asked Superior Court Judge Ellen Chaitin to order prison officials to come up with a new system for housing transgender inmates.

Several counties in California, including San Francisco, have created separate units specifically for transgender prisoners. But like other states and the federal Bureau of Prisons, California assigns inmates to prisons based on their genitalia rather than physical appearance.

Biological men who dress and act like women but have not had sex reassignment surgery can be assigned to a psychiatric prison like the one to which Giraldo eventually transferred or the general population of a regular men’s prison.

This story really bothered me, because so many of the lines that define ordinary biology, ordinary sexual identity, and ordinary common sense are blurred.  I’ve got a whole bunch of questions, and you can answer them at your leisure, since I’ll be traveling tomorrow and won’t be able to blog:

1.  Why is a prisoner wearing long hair, girlie clothes and make-up in the first place?  (See the picture in the AP story for my take on the hair and make-up.)  Why not just prison orange and a short haircut, with no make-up?  Isn’t part of the punishment of prison to remove your chance to indulge in individual self-decoration?

2.  Why is Giraldo referred to as “she” and “her”?  Giraldo can take as many hormones as he wants, but he still has external male genitalia and lacks internal female plumbing.  I’m willing to concede that, once you have the surgery and look entirely like a woman from the outside, you’ve made the shift from one gender to another, but should a pill’s effect (breasts, less body hair and a higher voice) be sufficient to justify a news report that makes it sound as if a woman somehow wandered into a men’s prison facility?

3.  I assume the taxpayer’s are paying for Giraldo’s hormones.  I may be wrong, of course, but if I’m right, why are we?

Although you wouldn’t guess it to read this, I’m sympathetic to men and women who were born with the wrong wash of hormones.  In my years as a parent, I’ve known both boys and girls whose hormonal make-up, from the toddler phase up, was completely out of synch with their body’s sex.  Nevertheless, they were still boys, albeit feminized, or still girls, albeit masculinized.

Having said all this, if the state’s version of the story is true, the state stepped in as soon as it knew something was wrong, and rescued a very peculiar, mixed-up person from an untenable situation.  And if the inmate’s story is true, the state certainly waited too long to step in and correct the situation.  And no matter which story is true, I don’t like the way the news report keeps referring to Giraldo using feminine pronouns.

Misogyny in cyberspace?

Phibian, blogging at CDR Salamander, picked up on something I’d missed entirely: the claim that the blogosphere is a haven for misogynists. I don’t know how I could have missed this because, according to Phibian, the august Washington Post, almost two months ago, opined on the subject:

A female freelance writer who blogged about the pornography industry was threatened with rape. A single mother who blogged about “the daily ins and outs of being a mom” was threatened by a cyber-stalker who claimed that she beat her son and that he had her under surveillance. Kathy Sierra, who won a large following by blogging about designing software that makes people happy, became a target of anonymous online attacks that included photos of her with a noose around her neck and a muzzle over her mouth.

As women gain visibility in the blogosphere, they are targets of sexual harassment and threats. Men are harassed too, and lack of civility is an abiding problem on the Web. But women, who make up about half the online community, are singled out in more starkly sexually threatening terms — a trend that was first evident in chat rooms in the early 1990s and is now moving to the blogosphere, experts and bloggers said.

***

Joan Walsh, editor in chief of the online magazine Salon, said that since the letters section of her site was automated a year and a half ago, “it’s been hard to ignore that the criticisms of women writers are much more brutal and vicious than those about men.”

Arianna Huffington, whose Huffington Post site is among the most prominent of blogs founded by women, said anonymity online has allowed “a lot of those dark prejudices towards women to surface.” Her site takes a “zero tolerance” policy toward abusive and excessively foul language, and employs moderators “24/7” to filter the comments, she said.

***

Some female bloggers say their colleagues just need thicker skin. Columnist Michelle Malkin, who blogs about politics and culture, said she sympathizes with Sierra but has chided the bloggers expressing outrage now. “First, where have y’all been? For several years, the unhinged Internet underworld has been documented here,” she wrote, reposting a comment on her site that called for the “torture, rape, murder” of her family.

Report the serious threats to law enforcement, she urged. And above all: “Keep blogging. Don’t cut and run.”

But Herring said Malkin is in a minority. “There’s a whole bunch of women who are being intimidated,” she said. They include academics, professional programmers and other women normally unafraid to speak their minds.

I think the WaPo is right.  There is a lot of misogyny in cyberspace. There’s also a lot of anti-Semitism, anti-Christianism, homophobia, heterophobia, racism, anti-Conservatism, anti-Progressivism, and just about any other anti you can think of. There is no doubt that many people, writing with the freedom of anonymity, are going to express some of the deeper, darker thoughts that they would normally keep locked away in a face to face situation. Thus, while someone might say to your face, “I think you’re wrong to oppose same sex marriage,” that same person, hiding behind an anonymous email or comment, may well add “you disgusting, slime eating homophobe; I wish you’d die” as the final salutation to that same message.

In other words, I think Phibian had it right when he told his daughters:

[T]he Internet is just like a very large city. You have many great and wonderful things out there, but you also have some of the worst things man can think up. Evil lurks there – and you aren’t going out there without me being with you.

Incidentally, I have to say that I’ve never received threatening or sexually explicit comments at my blog, something for which I’m very grateful.  Certainly some people have disagreed with me, and done so strongly.  I’ve deleted three posts in almost as many years because they simply had too many obscenities for me to tolerate.  I flatter myself that those who come here, whether they agree or disagree, are trying to the best of their abilities to touch upon the merits — and when you’re talking about the merits, there really isn’t room for personal attacks.  Even those who like me least, and who fall back most on ad hominem attacks, level their worst slings and arrows at my political views, and not at my sex.

Ultimately, Michelle Malkin is right.  You have to have a certain toughness to tolerate the freedom of expression the internet gives to its users. And, just as the attackers hide behind their anonymity, the bloggers can too — I certainly have.  Lastly, it’s useful to know that the traditional legal process does give some protection to those whose attackers are genuinely threatening.  Blogger Lee Kaplan, who became the victim of a very frightening cyberstalke0r who set up a Blogger site aimed at harassing him, pursued the matter aggressively and won in court.  Kaplin is now pushing to have internet service providers act more aggressively to block those who threaten physical violence or who create situations conducive to physical violence.  As a lawyer, I would say that site providers would be wise to do as Kaplan asks.  Certainly (and God forbid), if any person is ever actually hurt by an internet stalker, and if the service provider knew of that stalker, I think the provider would be a sitting duck for a multimillion dollar lawsuit.

Men are not gatherers

If you walk into my neighborhood grocery store at about 5:30 or 6:00 in the evening, about half the shoppers are men. What’s so funny about these men is that, without fail, most of them are on the cell phone. It’s obvious that their wives or girlfriends asked them to pick something up on the way home from work, and that they’re receiving detailed, at-the-scene instructions for this mission. Most of them have expressions that are part blank, part frightened. “Gathering,” as opposed to “hunting,” is manifestly not a natural role for them. And it turns out that I’m not alone in my observation. Someone’s actually done a study that backs me up:

So, this guy walked into a grocery store … and got completely overwhelmed.

U.S. men are doing more and more grocery shopping, both for themselves and their families, but retailers are still not doing much to make the trip any more enticing, retail consultants and industry experts said.

“Men do represent a large part of grocery shopping dollars and they aren’t being very well accommodated … sales are being lost,” Mandy Putnam, vice president at consulting firm TNS Retail Forward said.

In a recent report titled “Men in Grocery Stores,” Putnam said that men shop inefficiently, which leads to missed sales for retailers.

Many men have difficulty finding items, forego buying rather than risk purchasing a substitute for an item on the grocery list and hesitate to ask for help if they can’t find an item, Putnam said in her report.

“They never ask for help, except maybe from the butcher, but they always say they never had problems finding anything when the cashier at the register asks,” she said.

***

Unlike women, men tend to hone in on the specific thing they want to buy instead of surveying the entire aisle, consultants said. That can be a problem for manufacturers and retailers trying to promote new products that are the life-blood of packaged food companies.

“They were great at picking out the stuff that they bought before. It’s the new stuff, or something new and different that a manufacturer is trying to promote, that they have trouble with,” said Putnam, who walked along with men as they shopped as part of her study.

Men also tend to bristle at the overwhelming number of choices in grocery aisles, with the cereal aisle being one prime example, Putnam said.

“One guy I thought was going to have a nervous breakdown in the cereal aisle,” Putnam said, adding that this man, in his early 30s, worked the night shift as a police officer in a dicey part of town and was otherwise used to stressful situations.

Mr. Bookworm still hasn’t recovered from his last trip to the grocery store, a trip that left him so flustered that, when he finally left the store, he inadvertently abandoned his groceries, something he discovered only when a clerk came racing out after him.

A sex obsessed society

I have a dear friend who has proven over the years to be remarkably prescient. As you may recall, on April 19, 1995, a bomb exploded at Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, killing 168 innocents. The airwaves were instantly filled with talking heads, all chattering about Islamic terrorism.

Unusually for the blather that normally emanates from the talking heads, it wasn’t at all unreasonable for them to do so. This was only two years after the first attack on the World Trade Center and 12 years after the Beirut bombing that killed 241 American military personnel (as well as dozens of French military personnel). Oklahoma City looked like more of the same.

My friend, however, immediately said that the bombing was the work of home grown terrorists. He didn’t say this because he was in any way connected with these homegrown terrorists. He’s an ultra-Republican Jewish man who is as far removed from those terrorists as it’s possible to imagine. Instead, he said it because he’s a voracious reader, and is skilled at interpreting what he reads. Being aware of the animus these home grown nut jobs were expressing in the wake of Waco, his first conclusion was that the two events — Waco and Oklahoma City — were connected. He was right, of course.

But this isn’t a post about Oklahoma City. It’s just a set-up to tell you how smart my friend is. So I took him very seriously during a conversation shortly after 9/11 when we were talking about Islamists. I don’t remember what led up to it, but I distinctly remember him telling me that the intense hatred the Islamists feel towards the West all boils down to women. He argued convincingly that the Islamists are absolutely terrified that Western influences will break the choke hold they have on their women. That is, they’re not afraid that Westernism will increase their crime rates, or change their architecture, or mess with their traditions. Their overriding fear is that their women will be unveiled and become free to live as independent human beings, with intelligence and aspirations extending far beyond the burqa and harem.

My friend spoke based on his huge fund of knowledge, and his often startling ability to synthesize information. Dr. Sanity now makes the same point based upon her psychiatric experience. It began when Dr. Sanity received a couple of emails that attacked her ideas, not on substantive grounds, but on the ground that she, a woman, can’t possibly be expected to have an intelligent opinion. She used those attacks as a springboard to analyze the Muslim culture’s peculiar and scary obsession with and fear of women:

If there was ever in history a better example of the paranoid fear of female sexuality [than Islam], I can’t think of it. You don’t have to be much of an expert on Islam or Muslim culture to be able to observe that it has evolved into a societal structure whose primary purpose is to contain and manage female sexuality.

This containment has not only become a key aspect of the worship of their god; but it also is a key factor in individual personality development; as well as the main pollutant of all possible social interactions within the culture.

The men of Islam are obsessed with sex beyond even the wildest imaginings of the Western male’s mind. And the obsession is far from healthy and even further from reality.

We frequently joke about men’s preoccupation with sex and female body parts in the West, but our fascination with “T&A” is nothing when you consider that the Muslim world is literally consumed by female sexuality and with their fear of it. It is ironic that both Muslim men and women are under the mistaken impression that Western society is oversexualized compared to them, when in fact, it is practically impossible to be more obsessed with sexual matters than they are in Muslim communities.

Dr. Sanity points out that the Islamists aren’t subtle in demonstrating this overriding fear:

Enormous effort goes into veiling women, dressing women modestly, silencing women, covering women’s bodies, punishing women, controlling women, reviling women, humiliating women, beating women, subjugating women, avoiding the dishonor of women, keeping women uneducated, policing women, infantilizing women–in short, dehumanizing women in every way possible — all under the guise of “protecting” and “honoring” them as they relegate them to animal-like status.

From there, Dr. Sanity explains the Orwellian dimension that has Islamic women being horribly abused, but convinced that this abuse is for their own benefit:

The women in this misogynistic Islam are brainwashed from birth into thinking that this cultural preoccupation somehow is necessary and that it “liberates” them in some bizarre manner.

Amazingly, this medieval culture has grasped the fundamentals of both Orwellian and postmodern rhetorical rationalizations, that are so prominent in certain intellectual quarters within our own culture! I have heard the canned rationalizations coming from their lips of muslim women myself; and they all claim that it frees them from having to be “sexual objects.”

For all that the above packs a punch, it’s just the starting point. Dr. Sanity has a lot more to say on the subject, including a long discussion about how this horribly perverted view of women is a never ending petri dish for emotionally disturbed children, boys and girls, who grow up to become dysfunctional, violent, misogynist adults.

Incidentally, there’s a flip side to the sexual obsession that characterizes the Muslim view of women. Any culture that views women as such temptresses that they must be completely obliterated is also a culture that has a very low view of its men. We in the West expect that our men will be able to control their sexual urges. And for all that college campuses like to characterize all men as potential rapists, the fact is that Western men are spectacularly good at keeping a rein on their sexuality. I know that when I walk the streets of my community, I will not be verbally harassed or physically assaulted, and I know that this is due to the fact that the vast, way vast, majority of men I come in contact with are civilized beings who will not give in to their baser instincts.

Muslim culture has no such respect for its men. Just as it assumes all women are vile sexual temptresses, so too does it assume that all men are animals, incapable of exercising even a modicum of self-control when their hormones are triggered. That’s a pretty dismal view of mankind, reducing men to the level of animals. And considering that even dogs can be trained to control their impulses, it’s amazing how low on the evolutionary scale Islamic men have chosen to rank themselves.

Hat tip: Flopping Aces

Catch the masterful understatement….

This is not the whole article, just the beginning, but I had to stop reading and start blogging after the last sentence quoted below (which I’ve emphasized), because I was laughing so uncontrollably:

At the zenith of its popularity, a class called Variations in Human Sexuality drew 600 to 800 students per semester at San Francisco State University. In exchange for credits toward graduation, enrollees watched S&M bondage techniques, got the lowdown on sex reassignment surgery and crowded the aisle to watch well-rounded porn star Nina Hartley in the flesh.

A practitioner of bestiality might describe his relationship with his dogs. A heterosexual cross-dresser might take the stage in Size 10 heels and a sequined gown. Or, on occasion, Hartley would moon the classroom.

From 1980 to 2003, the class’ instructor, author and psychologist John De Cecco, sat Yoda-like while students considered the full spectrum of variant sexuality. Sexual acts were never performed in class, which was held in the McKenna Theatre to accommodate the huge enrollment. Nudity occurred just once, when an actor and actress performed a scene from a play about AIDS.

And yet, some of De Cecco’s psychology department colleagues found the class distasteful.

Of course, if I were the parent of a 20 year student taking that class, I might not be laughing so hard, right?

Incidentally, here is a little more information about this Professor of Debauchery:

De Cecco (pronounced duh-CHECK-o), is 82 now, a bit physically diminished but vigorous in his curiosities. He edits the Journal of Homosexuality, an academic peer-review journal that comes out eight times per year; is a member and sponsor of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Historical Society; and still finds huge fascination in the subject of sex — its practices, its permutations, in particular the windows it provides into the human psyche.

But sex is more than an abstraction — it’s also an active pursuit. De Cecco doesn’t date, per se, but frequents Polk Street, where he cruises for male hustlers and goes to Kimo’s, a bar that caters to older men and rent boys. Most of the men he hires are in their 20s or early 30s, often homeless or living in fleabag hotels. Many of them use crystal meth or heroin.

It’s the pursuit, the mystery of the man as yet unattained, unconquered, that motivates him. “It’s going out on the street and seeing who’s there, who’s available, and meeting someone about whom you know nothing. And just having this very intimate act with a stranger. … It’s partly the unpredictability of what’s going to happen.”

What De Cecco does with his own time and money is fine.  I do question, however, his sitting in front of a classroom, at taxpayers’ expense, using his time to normalize the abnormal for the benefit of our youth.

What’s in a name?

My son asked me how Valentine’s Day began. I explained that, a long time ago, there was a man named Valentine who was known for his kindness to young couples who wished to get married (and he may have given doweries to poor girls so they could marry). He was also a Christian who died for his faith. When he was made a Saint, February 14 became his “Saint’s Day.” Every year, on that day, when people thought of him, they also remembered how he helped bring about marriages. St. Valentine eventually became associated with love, and the cards, chocolates and flowers soon followed. (You can read these and other theories about the holiday’s origins here and here.)

Valentine’s Day, sadly, isn’t what it used to be. While the little kids are still handing out cheesy cards to their classmates and eating candy hearts, big girls across America are castigating rape and having love-ins with their own vaginas. St. Valentine would be rolling in his grave.

All is not lost, however. As an antidote to the paranoid “Take Back The Night” feminist approach to love and romance — a view that equates all men with rapists — the Independent Women’s Forum has launched it’s “Take Back The Date” campaign, an idea aimed at re-romanticizing Valentine’s Day:

Take Back the Date is an IWF initiative to reclaim Valentine’s Day from radical feminists on campus who use a day of love and romance to promote vulgar and promiscuous behavior through activities like The Vagina Monologues.

This isn’t just about demanding flowers and candy from men. Instead, as I understand it, it’s about elevating both men and women to a higher plane of conduct that’s not just about random hooking up (read: “casual sex”) and date rape. Instead, it’s about respect, attraction and romance, old-fashioned ideas that might look pretty darn good to young people immersed in the sterile, hostile, demeaning world of modern college dating.

So, if you are in college or know someone who is, maybe it’s time to remind yourself or your friends what Valentine’s Day is really about.

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Sad and creepy, but is it news?

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of a story out of England, which documents how a hospice patient in a Nun-run hospice got help from the hospice to obtain a prostitute so he wouldn’t die a virgin:

A young disabled man who receives care for his life-limiting illness at a hospice run by a nun spoke yesterday of his decision to use a prostitute to experience sex before he dies.

Sister Frances Dominica gave her support to 22-year-old Nick Wallis, who was born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Sufferers usually die by their thirties.
Mr Wallis told staff at the Douglas House hospice in Oxford that he wanted to experience sexual intercourse. He explained that he had hoped to form an intimate and loving relationship with a woman, but his disability had acted as a barrier.

He told The Daily Telegraph: “It was a decision two years in the making and I discussed it with my carers and my parents. Telling my mother and father was the hardest part, but in the end they gave me their support.

“There are many aspects of life that an able-bodied person takes for granted but from which I am excluded.

“I had hoped to form a relationship when I went to university, but it didn’t happen. I had to recognise that if was to experience sex I would have to pay for it out of my savings. My mind was made up before I discussed it with anyone else.”

The hospice staff, after taking advice from a solicitor, the clergy and health care professionals, decided to help him.

“I found an advert from a sex worker in a magazine for the disabled,” said Mr Wallis. “The initial contact was by email and then by phone.”

It was arranged for the prostitute to visit his home in Northampton. “My parents went out,” he said.

“It was not emotionally fulfilling, but the lady was very pleasant and very understanding. I do not know whether I would do it again. I would much rather find a girlfriend, but I have to be realistic.”

The young man’s situation is incredibly sad, and I can certainly understand his wish to participate at least once before he dies in a basic and pleasurable human activity. Nevertheless, the way in which his encounter occurred strikes me as both sad and sordid, and I find the press’s involvement in the entire thing inexplicable, to say the least. What do you think?

By the way, speaking of youthful sex out of England, am I the only one unimpressed by Daniel Radcliffe’s immature little chest? I prefer my men looking a little, well, a little more manly. This is almost certainly a good thing, since I’m old enough to be Radcliffe’s mother and it would be rather revolting if I were oogling him lasciviously. Incidentally, I have to say I’m incredibly surprised that there aren’t clauses in the Harry Potter crews’ contracts preventing them from engaging in activities that are at odds with their franchise images.

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