The XX Factor
What Women Really Think

Sept. 28 2015 3:42 PM

Why Hillary Clinton Called Xi Jinping “Shameless”

China doesn’t have the greatest record on women’s rights—a fact that Chinese President Xi Jinping was probably hoping to obscure when he offered himself as co-host of a United Nations summit focused on the issue. But Hillary Clinton called him out on the hypocrisy. “Xi hosting a meeting on women’s rights at the UN while persecuting feminists? Shameless,” she tweeted on Sunday night.

The hashtag #Freethe20 refers to 20 female activists imprisoned around the world. The ongoing U.N. conference marks the 20th anniversary of the landmark conference on women’s rights that took place in Beijing in 1995; the U.S., ever mindful of the awkwardness of having close allies with poor human rights records, wants to emphasize that China hasn’t lived up to its promises on women’s issues. Over the last month, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power has released the name of one imprisoned female activist each day. Three of the women she selected are Chinese:

• Wang Yu was a commercial lawyer until she was assaulted a train station in 2008—and she, not the men who beat her, went to jail for two years. After witnessing the abuse of prisoners firsthand, she became one of her country's most prominent human rights lawyers. Last spring, she defended five feminists, whose public awareness campaign against sexual harassment was prosecuted as a “disturbance.” In July, she was arrested.

Gao Yu, a longtime journalist, has been in and out of prison for her work since 1989. Most recently, she was arrested in 2014 for sharing a Communist Party directive with foreign media. Human rights groups have petitioned for Gao's parole, arguing that, at 71, she's in fragile health.

Liu Xia is a poet and artist, and a founding member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, which promotes freedom of expression. Her husband, Liu Xiaobo, is the famous human rights activist and political prisoner; she was placed under house arrest in 2010, after the announcement that he had been awarded a Nobel Prize.

Sunday night, China’s state media was quick to publish two indignant op-eds in response to Clinton's barb: one in English, one in Chinese. Both accused Clinton of modeling her remarks on those of Donald Trump, who has leveraged his criticism of the country into votes. “Perhaps, Hillary's e-mail scandal has dealt a heavy blow to her, and she is trying to get back in the game by directing people's attention to China,” the English op-ed insinuated.

The Chinese version got a little more creative. "It looks like Hillary is in a panicked frenzy, her eyes have turned red. ... She has started to copy Trump's speaking style and allowed herself to become a fierce big mouth,” it wrote, according to the BBC’s translation.

Like the Chinese government, Clinton has reason to mark the Beijing conference’s anniversary: When she was there 20 years ago, she delivered her now-famous “women’s rights are human rights” speech. Along with a “Women for Hillary” ad that features Lena Dunham, chastising Xi seems to be Clinton's way of marking the occasion.

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Sept. 28 2015 12:44 PM

Australia to Chris Brown: You’re Not Welcome Here

Australia has denied famed abuser Chris Brown’s visa application on character grounds, which stands to prevent him from giving scheduled performances in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth. When Brown pleaded guilty to felony assault and making criminal threats against Rihanna in 2009, he dodged jail time in favor of probation, counseling, and community service. Those who called for a harsher sentence can count this weekend’s news as some evidence that his punishment didn't end there.

Though Brown has toured in Australia twice since his 2009 conviction, in 2011 and 2012, the country has since cracked down on foreign abusers of women. In February, Australia denied entry to boxer Floyd Mayweather, who has been convicted of battery against his female partners on several occasions. Late last year, the country revoked the visa of Swiss-born, U.S.-based “pick up artist” Julien Blanc and refused a temporary visa request from Dan Bilzerian, a poker player and Instagram degenerate who’d been videotaped appearing to kick a woman in the head.

“People need to understand if you are going to commit domestic violence and then you want to travel around the world, there are going to be countries that say to you, ‘You cannot come in because you are not of the character we expect in Australia,’ ” said Minister for Employment and Minister for Women Michaelia Cash of her recommendation to the immigration minister to reject Brown’s application.

Several other countries have character or morality stipulations in their visa codes, though they’re often applied with ample room for discretion. Paris Hilton was turned away at a Japanese airport because of a drug conviction. Martha Stewart was refused entry into the U.K. for her criminal activity. Russia denied a visa to Selena Gomez, forcing her to cancel two shows, on the mere threat from activists who were lobbying Gomez to speak out against the country’s anti-gay laws at her concerts in St. Petersburg and Moscow. 

The U.S. has denied entry to pop stars like Boy George, who’d been charged with false imprisonment of a sex worker in London; M.I.A., whose public comments and lyrics were interpreted as potential terrorist threats; and Amy Winehouse, who couldn’t accept her 2008 Grammy in person due to drug charges. Even a simple drug habit is enough to keep a potential visitor from crossing the U.S. border: People with multiple criminal convictions on their records, including those involving “moral turpitude,” such as spousal abuse and rape, can apply for an entry waiver. Drug abusers, like spies and Nazis, cannot.

Australia automatically bans any visa applicant who’s been sentenced to a year or more in prison for one crime, or a total of more than two years for multiple crimes. Brown didn’t pass that preset threshold, making Australia’s Brown embargo a bold statement to other nations on the severity of his crimes, which include a second assault conviction for attacking a man outside a Washington hotel.

Brown has 28 days to appeal the immigration minister’s decision. A statement posted on a Ticketek, where tickets for his Australian shows went on sale earlier Monday, indicates that his management might take that route: “We … have faith that a decision will be made with the full consideration of his continued personal growth, on-going philanthropic endeavours and desire to perform for his fans.” Whether or not Brown actually poses a threat to the Australian population—who could consider his continued violent behavior to decide for themselves—the country’s stand against intimate-partner violence sends a clear message to other abusers: Your right to travel the world is not absolute.

Sept. 28 2015 12:33 PM

Obama’s Comments on Sexism Are a Guns-Akimbo Rhetorical Moment

President Obama gave a speech at the U.N. on Sunday addressing what he sees as the major obstacles to ending world poverty. “It's my seventh year of addressing the General Assembly, and I tend to be more blunt,” he explained. “Along with the gray hair, I'm becoming more likely to speak my mind.” He proceeded to do just that on topic like climate change and inequality. 

But perhaps his best moment was when he was discussing the evils of sexism. “One of the best indicators of whether a country will succeed is how it treats its women,” he said. “And I have to say I do not have patience for the excuse of, ‘Well, we have our own ways of doing things.’ ”

“We understand that there is a long tradition in every society of discriminating against women,” he added. “But that’s not an excuse.”

It was a guns akimbo rhetorical moment. With one hand, Obama fired upon those who try to reframe sexism as a liberal value by calling it multiculturalism; with the other, he fired upon his conservative detractors, who paint him as some kind of sleeper agent who is out to undermine our liberal democracy and replace it with sharia law.

In other words, it was the latest in a series of DGAF moves that have characterized Obama's presidency in the post-midterm last quarter.

The most recent of these was just a couple of weeks ago, when he jumped in on the social media storm of anger following the arrest of a 14-year-old Muslim high school student for bringing a clock to his Irving, Texas, high school. (This bit of shade at paranoid conservatives only became funnier once a clock-truther movement, led by the Irving mayor, inevitably started to form.) Or there was the time that Obama said the N-word on Marc Maron's podcast. “Racism, we are not cured of it. And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public,” he said, all casual like he didn't know what the reaction would be. It's impossible to believe he didn't know he was baiting Fox News to accuse him of being the real racist for saying a naughty—which they then went ahead and did. Indeed, Obama has enjoyed reminding America that he knows all the curse words. “After the midterm elections, my advisers asked me, ‘Mr. President, do you have a bucket list?’ ” he joked during his White House Correspondents Dinner speech. “And I said, ‘Well, I have something that rhymes with bucket list,’ ” he said, listing a whole bunch of DGAF achievements, such as taking executive action on immigration and climate change as well as finally normalizing trade and travel relations with Cuba. 

Some of my favorite Obama DGAF moments have been, unlike his U.N. speech, apolitical ones. I, for one, admire his willingness to stick it to the haters who go into irrational fits every time they see someone using a selfie stick. But my personal favorite DGAF moment might be the time he posed with Girl Scouts wearing a tiara on his head, showing that this Obama does not care if you laugh at him while he's wearing silly headgear. Months before the hashtag #MasculinitySoFragile, Obama was happy to show the world an image of actual male confidence, in all its pink sparkly glory. 

Sept. 25 2015 8:59 PM

Don’t Be Fooled Into Thinking Welch’s Fruit Snacks Are Any Healthier Than Candy

I’m always on the hunt for healthy, portable snacks for my kids. Real fruit is great, but I’ve found four-day-old, half-mashed bananas at the bottom of my purse one too many times. So when I see prepackaged snacks at the grocery store such as Welch’s Fruit Snacks, which tout they are made with real fruit, are chock full of vitamins, and contain no preservatives, I’m tempted to buy 42 boxes and call it a day.

Sept. 25 2015 3:16 PM

What We Know (and Don’t Know) About the Rape Investigation of the Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane 

Chicago Blackhawks player Patrick Kane is currently under investigation for allegedly raping a woman at his Hamburg, New York, home. Meanwhile, he is preparing for the upcoming NHL season at his team’s training camp. But the twists keep coming: Just today, the Erie County district attorney called claims of evidence tampering by the alleged victim's mother an “elaborate hoax.” Haven't kept up with the story? Here are the facts.

What we know:

  • On Aug. 1, Kane, 26, and a male friend were partying at SkyBar in downtown Buffalo when they met up with the alleged victim and her female friend.

  • Thomas English, a lieutenant with the Buffalo police who’s worked as a personal driver for Kane for five years, took at least part of that night’s shift off for personal leave. English drove Kane, Kane's friend, the alleged victim, and her friend to Kane’s Hamburg home early in the morning of Aug. 2.

  • The alleged victim says that, at Kane’s house, she walked into a room by herself. Kane followed and, she says, overpowered and raped her.

  • Following the alleged assault, the victim left Kane’s home, called her brother, and visited a local hospital for a rape examination, where she presented with a scratched leg and bitemarks on both of her shoulders. She filed a report with the Hamburg police.

  • Four sources close to the case told the Buffalo News that the rape kit revealed Kane’s DNA under the alleged victim’s fingernails and on her shoulders, but not in her genital area. At least one other person’s DNA, the sources said, was found in her genital region.

  • This Wednesday, Sept. 23, the alleged victim’s mother said she found the evidence bag from her rape kit torn open on her doorstep, which would indicate tampering and a breach of the chain of custody. But the Erie County Commissioner of Public Service claims that all evidence, including the rape kit, is still in its original packaging with the police department. Last night, the alleged victim's lawyer, Thomas Eoannou—who’d called whomever dropped off the rape kit a “good Samaritan”—announced that he was resigning as her counsel on suspicion that the mother had made up some parts of her story. “I lack the confidence in the story that was told to me. I looked into it, and it’s my ethical obligation to withdraw,” he said. Today, the Erie County district attorney said the alleged victim's mother concocted the story as an “elaborate hoax.”

  • In a press conference last week, Kane, who signed with the Blackhawks for eight years and $84 million last year, apologized for the “distraction” that the allegations have caused his fans, teammates, family, and the “incredible organization” that is the NHL.

  • Ditto team captain Jonathan Toews, who called the investigation a “nonfactor” in the Blackhawks training. “You support your teammate or teammates who are maybe going through a rough patch,” he said.

  • Kane’s lawyer, Paul J. Cambria, has represented him before: In 2009, the hockey player was charged with two counts of felony second-degree robbery and criminal mischief after punching out a cab driver who couldn’t make change and stealing back his cash.

  • The NHL collective bargaining agreement gives NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman the authority to suspend him with pay during the investigation, but Bettman says he prefers to “watch the process play out." 

What we don’t know

  • If the alleged victim and her friend knew Kane and/or his friend.

  • What happened at SkyBar. The bar’s owner, Mark Croce, says he saw a woman “hanging all over” Kane that night before following him out of the bar with her friend. “It was almost like she stationed herself near him and was keeping other women away from him,” Croce said. (Friends and co-workers of the alleged victim say that Kane had planned on hosting a big Stanley Cup party at SkyBar before canceling it after the allegations arose.) “[The victim blaming] has been devastating to my client,” said Eoannou. “This is a classic example of why victims don’t come forward in rape cases.”

  • Who suggested the trip to Kane’s house. A friend of the alleged victim told the Buffalo News that the other female friend at SkyBar wanted to go with Kane, and the alleged victim didn’t want her to go alone. English says the alleged victim wanted to go, and convinced her friend to tag along.

  • Whether, as some sources have said, the first grand jury hearing was canceled because Kane and the alleged victim were discussing a settlement, or whether the prosecutors just didn't have enough evidence to bring the case forward.

Sept. 25 2015 11:34 AM

In the End, Maybe John Boehner Just Didn’t Love Fetuses Enough

At the end of October, John Boehner will resign from Congress. The dominant theory is that far-right conservatives pressured him to leave over his unwillingness to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood funding. Dead babies, a dead career, plus the pope—no wonder the guy was so emotional Thursday morning.

Boehner is not a fair-weather pro-lifer by any means. As the New York Times reports, his record is as fetus-fixated as any:

In one of his first moves as speaker, Mr. Boehner fought to end funding for abortions in the District of Columbia against a reluctant White House in the first near-shutdown standoff. He played a major role in forging the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which the House passed this year, and has a 100 percent anti-abortion voting record.

But in recent weeks, the speaker of the House has rankled his erstwhile allies with what they consider a lack of resolve. Back in 2011, too, he refused to put the country’s basic government functions on the chopping block to make a symbolic stand against Planned Parenthood. “The goal here again is to cut spending and keep the government open,” he told the Christian Broadcasting Network. “ ... What we want to do here is win the war not just win a battle and there will be an opportunity sometime in order to win the big war and we're looking for that opportunity.”

In his statements about the recent leaked, heavily manipulated videos that claimed to show Planned Parenthood selling baby parts, Boehner has tried to be both a fierce advocate for forced-birth politics and a smart, rational legislator. “I could talk about the video but I think I’d vomit trying to talk about it. It’s disgusting,” he said at a press conference. He called on President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to denounce Planned Parenthood's supposed dead-baby market, but proposed a measured way forward. “I want the committees to do their investigation. I want them to do their hearings. And, once they have, then we'll decide what's the proper course of action.”

But if Boehner truly believes that Planned Parenthood is killing babies and selling their body parts, that abortion is a genocide sweeping our nation, why wouldn’t he sacrifice the functioning of the U.S. government to stop it? “When an organization monetizes an unborn child—and with the cavalier attitude portrayed in this horrific video—we must all act,” he said in a written statement. In the mind of a ride-or-die pro-lifer, that kind of talk, without the government shutdown to back it up, rings false, and rightfully so.

It’s kind of sad, actually, that a legislator can do everything right by the anti-choice lobby short of the nuclear option and still not be radical enough to keep his job. Even if shutting down the U.S. government bullied the rest of Congress into surrendering on Planned Parenthood, cutting its funding wouldn’t even directly affect its ability to perform abortions—the organization only uses federal funds for its nonabortion services, such as contraception, HIV testing, and cancer screenings.

Who loves fetuses enough to take Boehner’s place? House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, one of Boehner’s potential successors, was an original co-sponsor of the 2011 No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, so that’s nice. But he appears to share Boehner's wariness about a government shutdown. The cool thing about Congress is that members of the House can vote for anyone—politician, private citizen, whomever—to take up the gavel. Our vote is for Lila Rose, pro-life pop star and persistent purveyor of abortion sting videos, as the safest choice.

Sept. 24 2015 4:07 PM

Men Are More Likely to Text During Meetings and Take Naps at Work

The “manterruption”—an unwelcome interjection from a man while a woman is speaking—is commonplace in the co-ed workplace, but its origins remain hazy. Can these men not hear the hushed utterances from the delicate mouths of womankind? Could be. Or, according to a new survey, they might not be paying attention at all.

The poll, commissioned by California-based video-conferencing company Highfive, asked 1,200 office workers about their workday distractions. Far more men than women reported doing nonwork-related activities during meetings. Men were more likely to send texts (36 percent of men vs. 25 percent of women), check personal emails (27 vs. 17 percent), browse the Internet (27 vs. 17 percent), and check on their fantasy sports teams (11 vs. 5 percent). They send around six texts, emails, or Snapchats during the average meeting, while women send around four. Laptop use may be part of the problem—55 percent of men bring them to meetings, while only 33 percent of women do.

While men’s biggest complaint about video conferencing was that poor connection could lead to a slow or frozen picture, women were most concerned about being seen on camera—not surprising in an office culture that still judges women by their appearances before their accomplishments.

But at least women remain alert on the job. When men aren’t totally checked out during meetings, they’re far away in dreamland: Of the survey respondents who copped to taking naps in office conference rooms, 64 percent were men. Though that doesn’t necessarily bode well for company productivity, there’s at least one upside: At least sleeping men can’t manterrupt.

Sept. 24 2015 1:42 PM

Women Don’t Always Want the Jobs at the Top, and That’s OK

In progressive discussions of the gender gap in business leadership, there’s something of a third rail: the idea that maybe, just maybe, women don’t want the jobs at the top. The numbers are so dire—less than 5 percent of CEOs and less than 15 percent of executive officers at Fortune 500 companies are women—that suggesting that women prefer it that way feels like a cop-out.

But a new set of reports from Harvard Business School offers data that won’t be put in a corner. In Harvard Business Review, two of the researchers write that they found that “men and women have different preferences when it comes to achieving high-level positions in the workplace. More specifically, the life goals and outcomes that men and women associate with professional advancement are different.”

In one study that asked 800 working people to list up to 25 “core life goals” (for example: “being in a committed relationship, keeping up with sports, being organized, or attaining power or status”), women named more goals than men, and a smaller proportion of them had to do with power. In another study, when asked to imagine a promotion in their current organization, women anticipated more negative outcomes (stress, burden of responsibility, time sacrifice) than men. A third study showed that while there is no significant difference between the career heights women and men think they can attain—a heartening discovery—men rank their ideal position as slightly higher on the ladder than women.

These findings add another nuance to the already complex set of circumstances thought to bring about gender inequity in business. From Harvard Business Review:

The previous explanations for gender imbalance in high places have been twofold. Some scholars argue that institutional barriers are the key culprit. For example, research has found that people view women as less competent than men and lacking in leadership potential, and partly because of these perceptions, women encounter greater challenges to or skepticism of their ideas and abilities at work.
Other scholars believe the gender imbalance exists primarily due to innate differences in men’s and women’s perceptions, decisions, and behaviors. For example, research has found that men are more likely than women to engage in dominant or aggressive behaviors, to initiate negotiations, and to self-select into competitive environments — behaviors likely to facilitate professional advancement.

Indeed, it seems like every potential source of the power gap but preference has been thoroughly explored. Business Insider published six editorials on the subject in 2012: One chalked the gap up to women embracing their role as child-bearers who will always be the ones to stay home with kids. One said women didn’t want to make waves by pushing for promotions or raises. Another advised women to wait—progress takes time, and millennials don’t see gender in the same way their forebears do. Two of the authors wrote that women have more empathy or “Gaia values” than men—qualities that aren’t yet explicitly valued in the workplace, though they should be. Not one posited that women don’t always want the high-pressure, high-responsibility, high-demand seats at the top.

There’s a prevailing feeling in some feminist circles that we’ve all got to stick to the black-and-white party line because so much is at stake, especially since those who’d dismiss claims of discrimination will grasp onto anything within reach to support their flimsy case. The men’s rights movement, for instance, has championed the idea that power is a burden, not a reward, which comes into play in some of these new Harvard studies. We’ve seen a similar impulse in mainstream gay-rights rhetoric, too. The “born this way” paradigm of queerness has been levied at the expense of any other, more nuanced understanding of sexuality; queer people like Cynthia Nixon, who’s described her sexuality as something of a choice, are seen as a threat to a narrative that asks legislators to protect our rights simply because we can’t help who we are.

But oppression is complicated, and people are, too. This is a both-and situation, not an either-or; one explanation of gender inequity being true does not make the other not true. There are plenty of well-documented external barriers to women rising in the workplace—little things like getting disproportionately negative performance reviews and not being hired in the first place—but women’s preferences, which are deeply informed by things like imposter syndrome and socialization toward family care, are just as relevant. The root cause of self-fulfillment for all women is best served by a discussion of all factors of inequality, not just the most convenient ones. 

Sept. 24 2015 1:37 PM

Carly Fiorina’s New Video Proves She Misled Viewers During the Debate

During last week's Republican debate on CNN, Carly Fiorina memorably described watching a video featuring "a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain." The problem is that no one can find this scene as described in any of the Planned Parenthood "sting" videos made by the Center for Medical Progress, which we all presume is what Fiorina was talking about. 

But despite this, Fiorina has been aggressively arguing that she did too see it. This week, a PAC tried to back her up, releasing a video meant to prove it, but no dice. 

You get a shot of a fetus that is moving slightly on a table, labeled "Courtesy of Grantham Collection & Center for Bio-Ethical Reform." You get another shot of a fetus in someone's hand. You get a woman telling a story about how she was in a room when someone was talking about procuring brains. But there is not and continues to be no scene capturing people, presumably Planned Parenthood employees, standing over a kicking fetus and saying they want to keep it alive to "harvest its brain." If such footage existed, Fiorina and the CMP would produce it.

That they haven't might be because the images weren't filmed by CMP. One comes from the Grantham Collection, an anti-choice organization that goes so far as to intimidate women with pictures of syringes, which, as we all know, you never need encounter if you bring a pregnancy to term. There's no actual reason to believe these images are from an abortion; they could very well be from a stillbirth, as OB-GYN Jen Gunter explained on her blog. One of them is definitely from a stillbirth.

If you want to be generous to Fiorina, you could say she misremembered what she saw. But that doesn't explain why she doubled down when her error was pointed out. "False memory" is no longer a viable excuse. 

Fiorina's defensiveness is not a good look, but it's hard not to feel a twinge of pity for her. After all, every single Republican in the race flagrantly lies about Planned Parenthood. Ted Cruz falsely claimed they confessed to "multiple felonies." Jeb Bush falsely claimed that Planned Parenthood is "not actually doing women's health issues." Marco Rubio said that Planned Parenthood "created an incentive for people not just to look forward to having more abortions, but being able to sell that fetal tissue," as if women were bringing in fetuses and exchanging them for cash. The conspiracy theories are getting more complex and bizarre by the minute.

In this atmosphere, Fiorina must feel like she's being unfairly singled out unfairly. She of sort saw something that looked like the scene she described, if you squint and hum 99 Bottles of Beer really loudly while watching the video. She only 90 percent lied, unlike some of her colleagues, who went all the way.

Sept. 24 2015 11:39 AM

You Have Neither Lived Nor Died Until You Have Read a Sex Scene Written by Morrissey

Morrissey’s first novel, List of the Lost, about a men’s relay track team in 1970s Boston, is out in a retro Penguin edition today in the U.K. and is already No. 1 in “Gothic Romance” on Amazon. It’s also inspired the worst reviews … for anything … ever? Here’s the Guardian: “It is an unpolished turd of a book, the stale excrement of Morrissey’s imagination.” It comes as no surprise that the famously prickly Morrissey might wish the public to eat his shit, but one would assume that it would be at least bakery-fresh.

Facing such opprobrium (and this after the general praise bestowed on his Autobiography two years ago), can Morrissey now really claim, as he once did in song, that he “know[s] how Joan of Arc felt?” Are we burning his turds at the stake without due process? Let us linger for a moment over a representative passage. Here, this single sentence will do:

Eliza and Ezra rolled together into the one giggling snowball of full-figured copulation, screaming and shouting as they playfully bit and pulled at each other in a dangerous and clamorous rollercoaster coil of sexually violent rotation with Eliza’s breasts barrel-rolled across Ezra’s howling mouth and the pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation extenuating his excitement as it smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza’s body except for the otherwise central zone.

If it is the role of great literature to provoke questions, then this passage succeeds wildly:

• Why is copulation a snowball? Why not any other type of ball? (An exercise ball?) Is it a snowball so that it can melt, thereby demonstrating the hot sexy force of the copulation? Or if copulation is itself a snowball, is it a frigid, mutually unsatisfying kind of copulation—a sort of diffident thrusting unto disappointment and eventual death?

• Does Morrissey invoke the ostensibly tired and clichéd image of a “roller coaster” in subliminal tribute to the spectacular erotic treasury of roller coaster thrill elements, including the Butterfly Inversion, the Camelback, and the Cobra Roll, all of which summon distinct variations on “sexually violent rotation”?

• How does a pair of breasts perform a “barrel roll” without detaching from a woman’s body? In conjuring this anatomically impossible image, is Morrissey subtly satirizing the poetic form of blason—identified with the likes of Petrarch and Shakespeare—in which a male poet attempts to praise his lady love by itemizing her physical features, but only succeeds in objectifying her and atomizing her being, to the point that, yes, her breasts could perform a barrel roll—or maybe even a Cuban 8, a rolling scissors, or a Hammerhead

• In stating that Ezra’s erection (“bulbous salutation”) caused him to feel anguish (“the pained frenzy”), and thus mitigated or made forgivable his desire (“extenuating his excitement”), does Morrissey critique or embody Puritanical modes of equating lust with shame? In other words, in this passage, are we taking the point of view of Ezra’s bulbous salutation, the narrator’s bulbous salutation, or Morrissey’s bulbous salutation?

• Is Eliza’s “otherwise central zone” her vagina?

• Has Morrissey ever had sex?