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At least three young people were treated at a local hospital Thursday when a police officer working the hallways at Jack Robey Junior High School in Pine Bluff Arkansas pepper-sprayed a group of students returning from lunch.

School superintendent Jerry Payne told the Associated Press that the officer used the spray because, in AP’s paraphrase, “students weren’t getting to class quickly enough.”

One mother, a volunteer at the school, says her daughter’s face swelled up as a result of a severe allergic reaction to the spray, requiring her to be hospitalized for several hours.

The Pine Bluff Police Department has issued no statement on the incident, which took place four days ago. A local television station has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the officer’s Use of Force Report.

April 2013 Update | A federal judge this week ordered the Obama administration to end its opposition to over-the-counter Plan B. In response, White House press secretary Jay Carney reiterated the administration’s position.

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February 2012 | President Obama’s daughters are just thirteen and ten, but the guy just can’t stop talking about the possibility they’ll be romantically inclined someday, and about how much that fact freaks him out.

Just yesterday, when he was visiting the Master Lock factory in Wisconsin, Obama joked that the company’s industrial “super locks” might “come in handy” for him as “the father of two girls who are soon to be in high school.” For now, he added, he’s “counting on the fact that when they go to school there are men with guns with them.”


And this isn’t the only time he’s made that kind of joke.

Two years ago, at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, he told the Jonas Brothers  that his daughters were “huge fans.” He then warned the singing group not to “get any ideas” because he controls an arsenal of predator drones.

Last year, speaking at a Tennessee high school’s commencement, he noted that the school’s principal’s daughter had chosen to go to a different school because she “was worried that the boys would be afraid to talk to her if her mom was lurking in the hallways.” Because of this, he said, he’d decided to announce that his “next job will be principal at Sasha and Malia’s high school — and then I’ll be president of their college.”

A few months later a reporter, noting that he’d given the girls a puppy when he first won the presidency, asked what he’d get them if he won re-election. He replied that he’d “be getting them a continuation of Secret Service so that when boys want to start dating them, they are going to be surrounded by men with guns.”

These jokes are freaking creepy. Set aside the fact that Obama’s predator drones are estimated to have killed more than a hundred innocent children. Set aside the fact that Obama was joking about three men aged seventeen, twenty, and twenty-two “getting ideas” about girls who were then eight and eleven years old. Set aside the inappropriateness of a father meddling in the romantic decisions of his college age kids. (And set aside as well the casual, ugly assertion that his daughters will be interested in, and only interested in, “boys.”)

The biggest problem with all these jokes is that at their core they’re not really jokes.

When the Obama administration overruled the FDA’s scientists and policymakers on expanding morning-after pill access for teenagers last December, he said he endorsed the decision “as the father of two daughters,” and claimed that “most parents” would agree with him. Though he claimed that the decision was based on the possibility of “a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old” being able to “buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could end up having an adverse effect … alongside bubble gum or batteries,” the fact is that drugstores are filled with over-the-counter medications far more dangerous than Plan B, any one of which any ten-year-old can buy without restriction.

What makes the morning-after pill different is that it allows teenage girls to take control of their own sexual decisions and those decisions’ consequences. The mentality that says that “most parents” would want to deprive their daughters of that agency is the mentality that assumes that most parents fantasize about being the gatekeeper of who their daughters talk to in high school and college. It’s a mentality that jokes about using violence and the threat of violence to keep your daughters from becoming sexually active.

These jokes aren’t benign. With them, the president is normalizing a patriarchal, sexist, adversarial take on parenthood — and on fathering daughters specifically. (It’s not an accident that Michelle Obama doesn’t make these jokes, or that she instead jokes approvingly about her daughters’ crushes on the Secret Service agents who protect them.)

If Obama’s children were sons, he wouldn’t be talking about using industrial super locks on them when they got to high school. He wouldn’t be musing about his plans to keep his kids from talking to girls when they got to college. He wouldn’t be threatening Selena Gomez with predator drones. He just wouldn’t.

Being the father of daughters is complicated. It can be difficult. But a father’s job is to help his daughter to develop a strong, healthy sense of her own desires and her own boundaries, and the confidence to express them. A father’s job is to teach his daughter that she can and should be brave, and fearless, and take risks. A father’s job is to let his daughter know that he’s got her back. A father’s job is to let her know that what she’s going through is normal, and appropriate, and isn’t going to be a barrier to him continuing to be there for her. His job is to make it clear that his desire to protect her and keep her safe doesn’t mean that she needs to sneak around behind his back, to make it clear that she doesn’t need to stay a child forever, that she can and should and must go out and explore the world for herself.

I suspect Obama is a pretty good dad. But his blind spot on this stuff is doing real harm to other people’s daughters, and quite possibly his own.

He should cut it the hell out.

There’s lots of important stuff in the AAUW’s new report on sexual harassment in American high schools and middle schools, but I do want to highlight one small finding that hasn’t yet drawn much attention.

The study asked students to identify which kinds of kids were at highest risk for harassment. Ranking second on the list, chosen by 41% of respondents, was “girls who are very pretty.” Fourth on the list, chosen by 32%, was “girls who are not very pretty or not very feminine.”


Oh, and first on the list? “Girls whose bodies are really developed, more than other girls.”

Last? “Boys who are good looking.”

Sexual harassment is misogyny. That’s what it is.

At last night’s CNN/Tea Party Republican presidential debate, Texas governor Rick Perry was slammed for his 2007 support of a state program vaccinating girls against Human Papilloma Virus — a sexually-transmitted virus that can lead to cervical cancer.

In the debate itself Michele Bachman described the vaccine as a “government injection,” and Perry’s decision as “a violation of a liberty interest.” She also accused Perry, whose chief of staff was a former lobbyist for vaccine manufacturer Merck Pharmaceutical, of pushing the program as payback for campaign donations from Merck.

But after the debate, in a CNN interview, she took it to a really weird place.

One objection to the HPV vaccine is the idea that it might encourage promiscuity by reducing the risks of sexual activity. In her interview, for whatever reason, Bachmann chose to hint at this objection rather than state it openly, and the result was a truly bizarre depiction of mandatory vaccination as — and there’s really no other way to put this — Uncle Sam raping your daughters with needles.

Here. Look:

“When you have innocent little 12-year-old girls,” she said, “that are being forced to have a government injection into their body — this is a liberty interest that violates the most deepest personal part of a little child. … A little girl doesn’t get a do over — once they have that vaccination in their body, once it causes its damage, that little girl doesn’t have a chance to go back.”

That’s just … wow. I don’t … I can’t …

Update | When I first posted this, I was gobsmacked by the language itself — the use of such heavily loaded molestation imagery to describe a non-invasive, voluntary medical procedure. But a little while ago a friend reposted it on Facebook, and two friends of his quickly commented to point out something else.

You know what, if anything in this discussion, “violates the most deepest personal part” of you? You know what “causes its damage,” and doesn’t give you “a chance to go back”?

Cervical cancer.

Second Update | I’ve asked the women who commented on my friend’s Facebook page for permission to repost their notes, and they’ve graciously given it. They sum this all up far better than I could:

Jeannette Elizabeth: “Someone should maybe describe for Bachmann, in intimate detail, the violation of lying in a hospital room, knees shaking, legs spread wide, having cancerous cells scraped from one’s cervix.”

Melinda Kersha McDonald: “I couldn’t agree with Jeanette more. I’ve been there and done that. I have scars that can’t be seen and complcations that will haunt me for the rest of my life. This vaccine could have saved me from that. Making cancer a thing of the past can never be a bad thing.”

When the brouhaha over the Psychology Today “Why Black Women Are Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women” article broke, I wrote a quick blogpost pointing out some of author Satoshi Kanazawa’s most ludicrous, obvious mistakes. But now someone with a bit more competency has gone back to look at the actual data Kanazawa used, and discovered that the problems with his “study” go much deeper.

Much, much deeper.

Basically, Kanazawa completely misrepresented the data. His source material just flatly doesn’t say what he says it says.

Here’s the deal. Kanazawa drew his conclusions on the relative attractiveness of black women from the “Add Health” study, a long-term survey of American adolescents. He claimed that the study showed — proved — that black women were less attractive than women of other races. But that’s not the case.

The attractiveness “data” is itself suspect, for one thing. It consists of the subjective judgments of interviewers who were asked to rate their interviewees’ appearance. There’s no effort in the numbers to control for the interviewers’ (unstated) ethnicity, no protocol for their judgments, no reason to believe that their conclusions are in any way representative. It’s just their opinion, and different interviewers reached dramatically different conclusions about the same interviewees’ attractiveness.

Let me underscore that last bit. According to a review of the original data, most of the difference in attractiveness between individuals in the study can be explained by different interviewers “grading” the same interviewee differently.

But it gets worse.

This study is, as I noted above, a study of American adolescents, tracked through early adulthood. And though Kanazawa portrayed his article as a study of the attractiveness of adults, the samples he used included children as young as twelve. He based the majority of his conclusions on data on the youngest two groups, who had an average age of just sixteen.

Still with me? It gets even worse.

Kanazawa admitted that the supposed difference in attractiveness was less in “Wave III” than in “Wave I” and “Wave II,” though he actively concealed the fact that Waves I and II weren’t adults at all. (He labeled the relevant charts “Wave I: Men,” “Wave II: Men,” “Wave I: Women,” and “Wave II: Women,” even though the vast majority of those subjects were teenagers and pre-teens.)

What he didn’t admit was that there’s a Wave IV.

Wave IV, it turns out, is the only wave composed entirely of adults. And an analysis of the Wave IV data shows that it doesn’t support Kanazawa’s thesis.

At all.

In Wave IV there is no difference between the perceived attractiveness of the black women and that of the other ethnic groups examined.


At all.

And again, I want to underscore something. Wave IV is composed of the same interviewees as the previous waves. So what the data really shows is that some (presumptively white) interviewers thought that the black adolescent girls in the study were a little less cute than the white, Asian, or Native American girls.

But when interviewers went back and spoke to the same women as adults, that “attractiveness gap” disappeared. Completely.

This isn’t just shoddy statistics. This isn’t just crap reporting. This isn’t just incompetence. It’s scholarly malfeasance.

It’s fraud.

About This Blog

n7772graysmall is the work of Angus Johnston, a historian and advocate of American student organizing.

To contact Angus, click here. For more about him, check out
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