Laugh at the outrage over âsexy seahorsesâ â but thereâs nothing funny about conservatives trying to rewrite history
Conservatives triggered by sexy seahorses
As we all know, there is nothing rightwingers love more than free speech and nothing they detest more than âcancel cultureâ. People should be able to say whatever they like without fear of censorship, conservatives are constantly squealing. Except, of course, if those people happen to be saying things they donât agree with. In which case: silence them immediately and ban their books!
The latest absurd example of conservative cancel culture comes to us courtesy of Moms for Liberty, a rightwing advocacy group who are trying to dictate what books Tennessee public school kids can read. I donât know if any of these moms own a dictionary, but they might want to look up the definition of âlibertyâ. And then they might want to change their name to Moms for Thought Control.
The moms have been very methodical: theyâve sent the Tennessee department of education a detailed spreadsheet outlining their complaints about the books being foisted on their children. It makes for unintentionally hilarious reading. A book about Galileo is âanti-churchâ. A book about seahorses contains too many details about the mating rituals of seahorses. A book about Native Americans is âdivisiveâ and âpaints white people in negative lightâ. A book about Ruby Bridges, the first Black child to integrate an all-white public elementary school, is âdivisiveâ. (Racists love using the word âdivisiveâ, have you noticed? How dare you bring up slavery and segregation! Youâre being divisive!) A book about Greek mythology is a little too âgraphic and scaryâ. A book about Martin Luther King contains âphotographs of political violenceâ. The whole thing reads like the unhinged ravings of a book club from hell.
There are, of course, pushy parents everywhere. If Moms for Liberty were just a fringe group of overly-involved mothers their beef with the Tennessee department of education wouldnât really matter. Alas, their attempts to rejig the Tennessee curriculum is part of a much wider effort to rewrite American history. Over the past year, US conservatives have become obsessed with âcritical race theoryâ (CRT); Media Matters recently noted that Fox News has mentioned the phrase more than 1,900 times in less than four months. None of the people raving about CRT are actually able to explain what the academic concept means; to them it just means anything that is less than complimentary about white people. Which, they reckon, they should be illegal. At least eight Republican states (including Tennessee) have introduced laws restricting how race can be taught in public schools this year; the Brookings Institute notes that nearly 20 additional states have introduced or plan to introduce similar legislation. The Moms for Liberty spreadsheet was compiled shortly after Tennessee banned teachers from teaching anything that instructs that âan individual, by virtue of the individualâs race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciouslyâ. The spreadsheet points out books that the group thinks violate this law.
Far from being a kooky fringe group, Moms for Liberty are part of a very well-coordinated culture war. Whether itâs abortion or CRT, the playbook is always the same. The rightwing media whips up outrage; deliberately vague laws are passed off the back of that outrage; advocacy groups diligently weaponize these laws at a local level. âWe are seeing what appear to be coordinated efforts to challenge books, not purely based on the content of the individual book, but based on the fact that they teach history from a particular viewpoint,â an executive from the National Coalition Against Censorship, told the Daily Beast. âWeâre also seeing entire lists of books being challenged, as opposed to individual titles.â
So whatâs the moral to this story? Essentially, itâs that you shouldnât underestimate the right. Itâs very easy to laugh at a bunch of rightwing moms clutching their pearls over sexy seahorses â but thereâs nothing funny about the systemic, organised way in which conservatives are trying to rewrite history and restrict freedom of speech.
Male CEOs get paid more when they have deeper, âmanlyâ voices
A new study has found that the lower your voice, the higher your compensation. The researchers analyzed voice samples from male CEOs and found that a one standard deviation increase in âvocal masculinityâ was associated with a 6.6% increase in total pay. Why? Probably because weâve evolved to associate deep voices with strength. Margaret Thatcher was well aware of this: she took elocution lessons to make her voice sound lower. And we all know about Elizabeth Holmesâs baritone.
Are women safe on London streets?
A few months ago Sarah Everard was murdered while walking home from a friendâs in London. Her death ignited a national outcry about violence against women. Thatâs been revived following the tragic death of 28-year-old Sabina Ness, who was killed while walking the five minutes from her London house to a pub last Friday evening. While Ness is now in the headlines, thereâs been criticism at how little attention the case initially received. âWhen Black and minoritised women are killed, our society looks away,â the co-founder of Our Streets Now said.
New study will explore impact of space travel on female body
There is a massive data gap in this area which scientists are now trying to fill. In order to do this theyâre wrapping some brave volunteers in a cotton sheet and waterproof tarp then suspending them in an immersion tank with only their arms and heads left out.
India opens doors for women to attend elite military academy
Indiaâs supreme court has set a deadline for women to be admitted to the prestigious National Defence Academy. While this is being celebrated, I have a hard time viewing more female soldiers as progress of any kind. Bombs that are dropped by women are still bombs!
A Mexican television host who famously proposed to Tom Brady in a wedding dress is reportedly on the run for allegedly embezzling $146m
I would 100% watch a movie based on that New York Post headline.
The week in panda-archy
Tired of Tinder? Bored of Bumble? Prefer to sit at home alone on the couch with Netflix rather than bother with dating? Pandas know how you feel. A new study has found that if a panda finds a comfy spot to hang out in, they donât bother leaving it to try and find a mate. While pandas are no longer endangered, researchers are worried that their low libidos and lazy ways may be the death of them.
Arwa Mahdawiâs new book, Strong Female Lead, is available for pre-order.