Friday, November 04, 2016

How to Change "Locker-room Talk": Harvard Cancels the Men's Soccer Season

The Harvard men's soccer team produced a "scouting report" of the sexual value of each member of the Harvard women's soccer team.  Again.

This time, Harvard responded by cancelling the rest of the men's soccer season (Harvard was leading in the Ivy League).

When Donald Trump was caught bragging about groping women and getting away with it, this was dismissed as "locker room talk."

Many athletes came forward to say that they never talk that way or hear others talk that way, even in the locker room.

But even if you allow that this kind of callous sexual objectification of real women has been common in locker rooms in the past, we can choose to change the norm.

Harvard is leading the way in showing that "locker-room talk" is wrong, has consequences, and is worth changing.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Democrats Can Come Clean About Their Liberal Religious Motivations

My colleague Ben Knoll and I were interviewed by Bill Goodman, of Kentucky Educational Television, for a podcast on religion and politics.

One development in this election that may shape the future of religion and politics: the explicit articulation of liberal Christian positions by the Democratic candidates.  Hillary Clinton has long said that her politics have been shaped by the Methodist Social Creed, which she learned from her youth group leaders as a teenager.  And Tim Kaine has exemplified Catholic Social Teaching, especially as propagated by Jesuits, all his life.  Both have made their faith, and their religious motivations, central to their story in this campaign.

The Christian ethic of "care for the harmed" has long driven liberal political action.  Usually, though, liberals who are religiously motivated don't say so publicly, for fear of "shoving their religion down other people's throats."  Which is, seemingly paradoxically, one of the defining religious beliefs of religious liberals.

I hope after this election that candidates in both parties will feel equally free to talk about their religious motives and religious conclusions in shaping their policies and commitments.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

What "Keep [Here] Weird" Movements Are For

Starting something new.  Every Tuesday morning, 7:30 - 8:00, I am on WKYB in Danville talking with Archer.  On Tuesdays I will post here at the Gruntled Center on the same topic.

I visited Austin, Texas, last week, to explore the "Keep Austin Weird" movement.  This movement began as an appreciation to the public radio station for promoting distinctive local culture.  It was taken up by independent businesses. That movement has inspired other "Keep [place] Weird" movements in other cities, including Louisville, fostered by local independent business associations.

The "Keep it Weird" movements honor the deep human need to be attached to a place, not just a generic location in space.

"Keep [here] Weird" movements, and other "buy local" campaigns, are also part of a class struggle.  This is a struggle within the upper half of the economic structure between what I call the knowledge class and the corporate class.

The knowledge class defines itself by its mastery of distinctive cultural knowledge.  They find the McDonaldization of everything to be soul-sapping.  

The corporate class defines itself by control of material things.  They find brand names and chains to be reassuring.

"Keep [This Place] Weird" is an assertion by the knowledge class that our distinctive culture is what makes this place worth loving and meaningful out of all the spaces in the world.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

South Korea Shows Women's Rarity Does Not Entail More Respectful Treatment

Some economists think that if women are rare, they will be treated with greater respect.

South Korea tests this hypothesis.  They have an unusual combination of a gross excess of men due to widespread sex-selection abortions twenty and thirty years ago and a very low fertility rate.  This should be the ideal circumstance for men, hoping to marry the rarer women and have children, treating them with greater respect.

Instead, South Korea has among the ugliest gender wars in the world.  The nascent feminist movement has generated an intense and open backlash among men.  This is especially true of unemployed men, as the South Korean economy has been slow to recover at the very time that women are significantly increasing their education and job-seeking.

South Korea - along with similarly situated Japan and Hong Kong - are the rare developed countries in which the female murder rate exceeds the male.  (For comparison, in the U.S. men are murdered more than three times as often as women.) This is because the South Korean domestic violence rate is very high.  Women are safe on the streets from strangers, but at much more risk from boyfriends and (ex-) husbands at home.