Find me at CONvergence and SSA East

Ashley

Picture courtesy Amy Davis Roth

Hello all

I will be speaking at both CONvergence and SSA East, and I’m getting an awful lot of stage time! This is a preview for anyone interested.

CONvergence

You can start looking out for me at about 1pm Friday at CONvergence.

FRIDAY, July 4th

5pm Paranormal Romance vs Urban Fantasy

With the popularity of paranormal romance, has romance become a fixture in most urban fantasy to a degree? What about the combo of romance, action, and magic keeps drawing readers? What’s out there for readers who want less kissing and more butt-kicking? Panelists: Ashley F. Miller, Cetius d’Raven (mod), Emma Bull, Melissa Olson, Rory Ni Coileain

7pm Coming Out Atheist

Join us to discuss what it’s like to come out as an atheist in various parts of the country, with different religious backgrounds, and the intersection for many of us with coming out in other ways, such as in sexual orientation and gender identity. Panelists: Ashley F. Miller, Heina Dadabhoy, PZ Myers, Debbie Goddard, Brianne Bilyeu

SATURDAY, July 5th

11am Evolution of Disney Princesses

They started out helpless (Snow White), and now they’re shooting arrows. What changed, and why? Panelists: Ashley F. Miller, Kathryn Sullivan, Michelle Farley, Windy Bowlsby, Madeleine Rowe, Greg Guler

SUNDAY, July 6th

9:30am Skepchick and FreethoughtBlog Readings

In room 2201

11am Protofeminists in Shakespeare

Shakespeare portrayed several intelligent, independent, and self-aware women–Juliet, Lady Macbeth, Katharine, Beatrice, Viola, Rosalind. We’ll discuss the problematic and the remarkably (for the era) fleshed-out aspects of their representation. Panelists: Elizabeth Bear, Ashley F. Miller, Greg Weisman, Joseph Erickson, Alexandra Howes

12:30pm Loving Problematic Media

Social justice doesn’t have to ruin your fun! We’ll discuss ways to be a literate fan of problematic media, from reality TV to video games, recognizing (rather than rationalizing) its problems, and still finding ways to enjoy it without getting defensive. Panelists: Rebecca Watson, Ashley F. Miller, Emily Finke, Courtney Caldwell, Amanda Marcotte

I will be leaving for the airport as soon as there are no more people with questions for me after this panel.

 

 

SSAEast

I will be at SSAEast for the entire program, I’m speaking in one of the 45 minute slots in union.

SUNDAY, July 13th

10:30am Feminism, Atheism, and Welcoming Women to Your Group

Introduction to “Redneckaissance: Honey Boo Boo, Tumblr, and the Stereotype of Poor White Trash”

As you may have noticed I have been somewhat absent from these parts of late, because I have been working on my dissertation proposal for my study of Honey Boo Boo and Tumblr.  I have finally finished the proposal and will defend it next week, at which point I will hopefully be cleared to write the second half, which is the actual independent research.  I thought I would share with you the opening of the dissertation.  As you may have guessed, working more than full time and writing a dissertation leaves little time for blogging, but I thought I’d take advantage of my week of breathing room and the fact that I have actually written something.  Enjoy.

Mama June on a waterslide honey boo boo

“Who knew television audiences would be completely enthralled with a Southern family acting out every stereotype of “redneck” on Here Comes Honey Boo Boo…” – Alison F. Slade[1]

My first realization that Here Comes Honey Boo Boo had become a complex discursive phenomenon came with the appearance of an image from the show in my social media feeds.  In this animated image, June Shannon, the overweight matriarch of the show, careens down a water slide in her bathing suit with joy on her face.  This image became popular on Tumblr, with hundreds of reblogs, and spread elsewhere online.[2]  Most of the previous discourse I had encountered around the show was negative and focused on how “trashy” the show was, but, in my social media feeds, people praised the show for fat acceptance of “real” bodies and embraced June’s joy.  There were still negative comments about the show but they were complicated by people claiming identity with her around one of the same signifiers, her weight, that was used to mock her and call her “white trash.”

This study seeks to explore how online content creators engage with television stereotypes online.  Specifically, this study seeks to understand the ways in which online content that is created using a reality television show as source material supports, undermines, and interacts with the tropes of the white trash stereotype.  It also seeks to discover how online content creators participate in the construction of meaning using the show.

In particular, this study will examine a selection of Tumblr posts about Here Comes Honey Boo Boo for the ways in which online content creators uphold, undermine, and “play with” white trash stereotypes. The goal is to gain insight into online content creators’ participation in television culture and its use of the white trash stereotype as well as into how they use Tumblr to communicate. This research uses discourse analysis to examine the Tumblr content created with, around, and about the show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

In seeking to explore this phenomenon, the study addresses the following research questions: How do Tumblr users use Here Comes Honey Boo Boo in discourse explicitly and implicity about race, class, gender, sexuality, and geography?  What are these discourses?  How do these discourses adopt, negotiate, or resist common U.S. stereotypes of “white trash” and “rednecks?” How does the online audience’s role as a secondary content creator change meaning and discourse around and about the show?  Honey Boo Boo represents a unique intersection of poor, white, fat, southern, LGBT-allied, and female-dominated social actors, positioning the show along the power axes respectively of class, race, weight, geography, sexuality, and gender.  This dissertation attempts to understand Tumblr discourse about the show through the framework of intersectional theory. Intersectional theory assumes that social categories of race, class, and gender are intertwined and together constitute identity and describe power relationships. How do these axes of power interact in online discourse?  The study is an attempt to understand the online content creator’s role in creating meaning around a show that relies heavily on negative stereotypes.

Although Here Comes Honey Boo Boo debuted only two years ago, it has already been the subject of scholarly interest.  As a popular reality television show dependent on stereotypes of rural Southerners, it has offered scholars rich ground to explore those stereotypes.  Bevie Tyo examined the redneck stereotype within the show, doing a cultural value analysis of the problematic representation of the main characters and noting that the show was constructed to use those stereotypes for entertainment.[3]  Similarly, Ariel Miller did a quantitative content analysis of the show, alongside Duck Dynasty and Buckwild, to explore the construction of Southern identity on reality television and the frequency with which the shows used stereotypes.[4]  Unsurprisingly, these studies showed heavy reliance on negative stereotypes about “rednecks” and “white trash.”

But scholarship on the show has not exclusively focused on the negatives.  Scholars like Geoffrey Parkes and May Friedman have pushed back against a simplistic understanding of the show as merely exploitative of Southern stereotypes, suggesting instead that it also serves as a site of resistance.[5]  The show includes radical acceptance of fat bodies, female empowerment, and queer individuals in addition to the stereotypes about rednecks.  The show also offers resistance to issues of class expectations and, in that way, serves, at least partially, as a site of resistance against the Southern stereotypes it uses.[6]

Closer to this study’s interest, Andre Cavalcante has done a discourse analysis of the Facebook fan page of the show.[7]  Reality television and social media have been intertwined over the past decade. For example, reality television is dependent on social media for generating interest and in voting on competition shows, and social media frequently focuses on television as a source of conversation topic.  Social media has allowed audiences to interact much more closely with television while reality television has encouraged a sense of intimacy for audiences. These two phenomena have led to the creation of fascinating sites of discourse around reality shows.[8]  The tension between the resistance that Parkes and Freidman note and the dependency on exploitative stereotypes that Tyo and Miller observe is revealed in the attitudes and language used by the commenters on the Facebook page.[9]  Audiences use “the Thompson family and their show as reasons to debate the ‘proper’ and moral parameters of self, family, society and nation.”[10]

This intersection between stereotypes, power structures, identity formation, mass media, social media, reality television, and queer intersectional feminism is exactly where I want to situate my research. These studies help problematize the idea of representation issues in television, especially the relationship between what is presented on screen as the reality of the people’s lives and “actual reality,” and add to the body of feminist and critical television studies.  Cavalcante even extends this research into online social media spaces, where there has been less analysis of stereotypes, by locating his discourse analysis in the medium of Facebook. This study wishes to add to that scholarship by focusing on an area of social media that has been under-studied—Tumblr and the image macro—and that offers new insights into the stereotypes and resistance to cultural expectations while also offering insight into the cutting edge of online communications.



[1] Alison F. Slade, Amber J. Narro, and Burton P. Buchanan, eds., Reality Television: Oddities of Culture (Lexington Books, 2014), vii.

[2] “Chasingapril,” accessed May 12, 2014, http://aprilloveslies.tumblr.com/post/38232075183/http-whrt-it-rjyqn0; “Community Post: 25 Crazy Mama June GIFs,” BuzzFeed Community, October 2, 2012, http://www.buzzfeed.com/hyvesredactie/25-crazy-mama-june-gifs-7j5s.

[3] Bevie Tyo, “Coming to Appreciate the Redneck Stereotype: A Value Analysis of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” (California Polytechnic State University, 2013), http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1144&context=comssp.

[4] Ariel Miller, “The Construction of Southern Identity Through Reality TV: A Content Analysis of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Duck Dynasty and Buckwild,” Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications 4, no. 2 (2013), http://www.studentpulse.com/articles/824/4/the-construction-of-southern-identity-through-reality-tv-a-content-analysis-of-here-comes-honey-boo-boo-duck-dynasty-and-buckwild.

[5] May Friedman, “Here Comes a Lot of Judgment: Honey Boo Boo as a Site of Reclamation and Resistance,” The Journal of Popular Television 2, no. 1 (April 1, 2014): 77–95, doi:10.1386/jptv.2.1.77_1; Geoff Parkes, “He’s Gonna Be a Little Gay: Redneckognising the Queer American Family in Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” in Proceedings of the 4th Annual International Popular Culture Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference (PopCAANZ 2013) (University of Southern Queensland, 2013), 138–46, http://eprints.usq.edu.au/23932/.

[6] Friedman, “Here Comes a Lot of Judgment.”

[7] Andre Cavalcante, “You Better ‘Redneckognize’!: Deploying the Discourses of Realness, Social Defiance, and Happiness to Defend Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on Facebook,” in Reality Television: Oddities of Culture, ed. Alison F. Slade, Amber J. Narro, and Burton P. Buchanan (Lexington Books, 2014).

[8] Beverley Skeggs and Helen Wood, “The Labour of Transformation and Circuits of Value ‘around’reality Television,” Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 22, no. 4 (2008): 565.

[9] Cavalcante, “You Better ‘Redneckognize’!: Deploying the Discourses of Realness, Social Defiance, and Happiness to Defend Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on Facebook.”

[10] Ibid., 42.

Women Protagonists in YA: A List and Resources

akata-witch-by-nnedi-okorafor

This is a work in progress, any feedback from the audience/readers will be incorporated into the list.  I am especially interested in finding any good works about female friendship.  Here is a wonderful tumblr devoted to diversity in YA.  Here is a wonderfully comprehensive list of protagonists of color in YA and another specifically looking at SF and fantasy.

Akata Witch – Nnedi Okorafor

I cannot recommend this book enough.  It deals with being an outsider on multiple levels — because of looks, because of talents, because of being a girl in a patriarchal society, and because of culture.  It’s about an albino girl in Nigeria, who was born in America and spent years there before being brought back to Nigeria with her family.  She discovers that she has magic powers.  Imagine Harry Potter, but based entirely on Nigerian culture.  I’ve not read Nnedi Okorafor’s other work, but I am going to as soon as I can.  The beautiful art above is from the cover of this novel.

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

While this book does have a love triangle in it, it is otherwise a fantastic dystopian novel with a female lead.  Katniss is smart and driven by her desire to help her family and herself.  She can be quite selfish and uninterested in the feelings of others.  These flaws make her far more interesting than many women in YA novels and far from a passive participant in the events.  She is also written with olive skin and dark hair, which many interpret as being a person of color but, at the very least, is resistant to the blonde haired, blue eyed tradition.

His Dark Materials Trilogy – Philip Pullman

These books are really fascinating from an atheist perspective, but also just a really good fantasy story.  The lead character is a pre-pubescent girl who is an expert liar.  Her journey is fascinating.  The book is also notable for the importance and fundamental goodness of the Gyptian people (based on Gypsies) to the storyline.

Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson

This is an incredible book about a girl who is outcast from her high school because she called the cops when she was at a party.  She called the cops because she had been raped, but she is unable to talk about it.  In fact, she doesn’t speak much at all.  The book is about her coping with what happened to her and learning to be herself again.  It was made into a completely watchable movie starring Kristen Stewart pre-Twilight.

Princess Academy – Shannon Hale

I am a sucker for books about princesses, especially if they’re princesses who buck the trend and do something totally unusual like have opinions and fight battles and refuse to get married.  The lead character of this book is a young woman who feels like an outcast and, in the end, does not want the prince and doesn’t get him.  The book is really about the importance of education for women and the role of one’s home and family.

Tiffany Aching Series – Terry Pratchett

My reviews of Tiffany Aching books are here and here.  I love Terry Pratchett, I hope some day to write something I enjoy as much as Terry Pratchett books.  Tiffany Aching is a marvelous lead.  Her first book is the most compelling, but I really wish that someone would turn Tiffany Aching into a TV series.  It’s like a pre-teen Buffy.

Equal Rites – Terry Pratchett

My review from a couple years ago: Third in the Discworld series and by far my favorite of them all.  This introduces Granny Weatherwax, who is my favorite Pratchett character, followed closely by Death.  Pratchett’s greatest skill as a writer, in my opinion, is that none of his characters are particularly attractive and they all have terrible flaws, but you like them and they never get over their flaws.  People don’t become pretty, or overcome their inherent selfishness or cowardice, they’re just regular people.

Harriet the Spy – Louise Fitzhugh

This is one of my favorite books. She also seems to be on the spectrum as well — she’s very into routine and order and not good at empathizing with others.  I tried to watch the movie version again recently and was unable to get through it, so stick to the book I think.  Many people read Harriet and her friends as queer as well.  I personally see far more traits of autism than indications of any kind of sexuality.

Enchanted Forest Chronicles – Patricia C. Wrede

This is a brilliant series about a princess who doesn’t want to be a princess and has no interest in boring princes trying to rescue her.  She runs away to live with a dragon because that’s much more interesting.  And the dragons are much more into gender equality than humans, teaching some interesting lessons about the roles of men and women.

Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine

Despite the terrible movie, the book is actually a really good examination of societal expectations of women.  I really like Gail Carson Levine’s writing style, but her books are fairly short on people of color.

Coraline – Neil Gaiman

I love Neil Gaiman, and the character of Coraline is great.  The story is not my favorite, I thought The Graveyard Book, which was similar in tone, was a much better read.  If you like YA horror, however, you can’t get a much better character than Coraline.

 

On My To-Read

Divergent – Veronica Roth

Fault in Our Stars – John Green

Books by Tamora Pierce, not sure which

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black

Ash – Malinda Lo

Liar – Justine Larbalestier

Chaos – Nalo Hopkinson

Half-World – Hiromi Goto

Eon – Alison Goodman

Book of 1000 Days – Shannon Hale

TMI Review – Softcups / Complaining about my period

Taken From Naamah_Darling's Livejournal This is a post all about uteruses and the havoc they play.  Really it’s mostly about my uterus.  So, for some people, that may be too much information and, hey, that’s fine, just stop reading.  Because I intend to pull no punches.  Maybe I’ll throw in a picture of a flower or something.  But seriously, don’t read this if you’re going to be all like, “Ew, lady parts” or “Ashley is gross.”

Yesterday I had a long, involved conversation on Facebook about whether it was feminist to complain about your period or if it was buying into patriarchal notions of… something.  The conclusion was basically that hating your period is A-OK.  Which is good because I really hate my period.  It’s also fairly subversive to not be embarrassed of your basic bodily function, so I’m claiming it as feminist.  Look — it happens, it’s pretty gross, but it actually means my body is working, so hurray.  So take that, reviewing Softcups is my feminist FU to people who are bothered by my ladyparts.  SHAZAM.

FeminismVaginaBolt

I take Seasonale continuously, but every 4 months or so, I suffer from breakthrough bleeding that’s pretty heavy and will only stop if I relent and have a full period.  Basically I have to make a choice between continuous bleeding that’s relatively painless but never stops or 5 days of excruciating pain and massive quantities of blood that will ultimately stem the flow.  Hooray my body.

elevator

Supposedly the fact that I’m on birth control makes my periods not as heavy and not as painful.  I don’t remember them ever feeling worse than they do now, though, so I am skeptical of this supposed beneficial side effect.  It does mean that I have them less frequently, though, so that’s a relief.  If you’ve ever had a period then you know that the methods for taking care of them are fairly medieval — plug it up or wear some gauze.  Science has not made major advances in this field.

Ranging from ineffective to might as well shove a hand towel up there

Ranging from ineffective to might as well shove a hand towel up there

Pads are basically like wearing a diaper.  They are messy, especially if you have hair down there, and they are incredibly uncomfortable.  Then there are tampons.  If, like me, you have wildly varying days of super heavy uterine explosion and not too much going on down there, tampons can be difficult.  You have to predict your level of flow and, if you go super heavy in protection when you’re actually producing super light, it creates this crazy uncomfortable dry, scratchy vagina sensation that doesn’t go away for a while.  And I already have ridiculous sensitive, in need of hypoallergenic everything skin.  Not pleasant.  Oh, also they can kill you.

So a few years ago, I longed to branch out from my uncomfortable period solutions and tried Instead, which are now known as Softcup.  I was afraid of Diva Cups because reusing them seemed unsanitary but I was fascinated by the idea of a solution that didn’t involve absorption.  So I tried out Softcup and have never looked back.

softcup

In addition to the plus of no dry vagina and not wearing a diaper, there are other benefits.

When I have my period, I tend to need to use the bathroom a lot.  Cramps just make everything seem to move down there.  When I wear a tampon that usually means I just have to change the tampon every time I pee.  The physics of making that not happen are difficult and unreliable and I’m a little too OCD for that.  Changing your tampon every two hours is expensive and uncomfortable and also you’re not really supposed to flush them apparently, and that’s weird too.

With Softcups I just leave it up in there for 12 hours.  Sometimes there’s some leakage when I pee or poop, but it goes back into place on its own.  The only bad thing is that it does create a little bit of internal pressure which can require a little extra pressure when expelling waste, on either side.

You can wear them when you’re being intimate — though it’s good to warn people.  And also to have a fresh one to avoid leaks.  You can wear them swimming.  They’re also great if, like me, you’ve got the problem of there is no pad or tampon strong enough to get you through a full night on your worst nights.

I also can’t feel it at all when it’s inside, which is miles better than pads or tampons.

The bad: They can leak — it’s a good idea to wear a panty liner with them, especially on heavy days.

They are hard to find.  I went to four stores in DC before finding them.  CVS carries them, but I have been to CVSs that didn’t have any in stock.  It’s terrible to be starting your period without supplies and not know where to get them.  Especially if your period is super unpredictable like mine.  There’s supposedly a reusable one, where it’s one cup per period, but I can’t find it anywhere.

Taking them out can be kind of gross — but then, if you’re following the directions with tampons or using pads, those are pretty gross too.  Your hands will probably get bloody, though you can use gloves if you like.

Here's that promised picture of a flower

Here’s that promised picture of a flower

It’s OK to shoot hookers in Texas — but only if it’s dark outside

texasgunsIt’s hard to imagine, without knowing the story, how someone could shoot a woman in the back of the head and then, quite literally, get away with murder.  Actually, it’s pretty hard to believe when you do know the story because that is what has just happened in Texas.

Ezekiel Gilbert hired a woman from Craigslist to be his escort and, after having spent the time he paid for in his apartment with him, she left.  But they hadn’t had sex, so Gilbert wanted his money back.  Instead, the woman got into her car and he shot her multiple times.  She was paralyzed and ultimately died from her wounds and he was charged with the murder.

His defense said that it is perfectly legal because of the “nighttime theft” rule in Texas which states that it’s OK “to use deadly force to recover property during a nighttime theft.”  Now, he’d paid the woman she claimed for the time and he claimed for the sex, so it was really a dispute over whether he was getting what he paid for.  But instead of, say, suing or claiming fraud, he decided to shoot a woman with no weapons in the back because he didn’t get what he wanted from her escorting.  And he got away with it.

Here’s what I wonder.  Would any of this have happened if having sex for money was legal?

This is a big problem with underground, illegal economies.  When you pay for a special massage or escort service, sex isn’t clearly, necessarily in the cards.  Because, legally, it can’t be.  There’s no way that, if he’d sued her for not having sex with him, he would have won.  But, somehow, his understanding that there would be sex is enough justification for him to convince the jury that he was just trying to get money he’d been duped out of giving away because he had the expectation of getting laid.

Can you imagine a circumstance under which someone shot their dealer for not giving them the right kind of drugs?  Like the dealer sold the guy some perfectly legal version of pot, therefore the guy buying shot the dealer because he was expecting marijuana and then a court said, well, you didn’t like what you paid for, so it was fair to shoot the guy for not giving you what you really wanted.  There was an exchange of goods and services — you just thought you were getting something else for your money.

If prostitution (or drugs for that matter) was legal, there would be consumer protection, clarity in advertising, and protection for those selling the services. But apparently the only consumer protection now is to just shoot someone if they’re taking advantage of you.  Because your foolishness in falling for their scheme means that death for them is the appropriate action to take.  At least, according to juries in Texas.

Taking it Personally: Privilege and Women in Secularism

Illustration by Tom Gauld for The Guardian

Illustration by Tom Gauld for The Guardian

There is a tendency for people to take criticism of ideas personally.  It’s true of all people, though I noticed it particularly this weekend at the Women in Secularism conference.  People also have a bad habit of criticizing individuals rather than their ideas.  I do not claim freedom from this tendency, although I do work very hard to try to be clear in that distinction.  I do not like the speech that Ron Lindsay used to open the conference with, but this doesn’t mean that I do not like Ron Lindsay.  I don’t know him, he is quite probably a pretty cool guy generally speaking.

Of course, I am not the only person who took umbrage at his opening speech.  I wasn’t particularly upset by it, I just felt it was wrongheaded as an opening speech for this event in particular and demonstrated poor understanding of the cultural theory behind the terms of “privilege” and the intent of “shut up and listen.”   I think it’s inappropriate to use the opening speech to criticize the conference goals rather than introduce it. I also think that the way he talked about critical theory indicated a lack of familiarity with the scholarship on the subject and the power dynamics at play. At best it was terrible tone deafness which was then exacerbated by his position of power in the organization, his race and gender and socioeconomic status, and the fact that he was giving the opening address not a lecture.

I also agreed with Rebecca Watson that it was particularly bad for these apparent misunderstandings to be delivered by a wealthy white man who was part of the organization in charge of the Women in Secularism conference.  In other words, it was a poorly expressed, poorly timed message delivered by exactly the wrong person for the message.maiself

For stating that, I have been accused of being sexist, of having it out for men, for having it out for Ron Lindsay, of quote-mining, of being dismissive, of shutting down dialogue by calling people names, and just good old “fuck you” and “fuck off” from strangers. I am dogmatic and hateful and trying to tear people down.

Rebecca Watson has also gotten this kind of response, but far more intense, for level-headed criticism of the talk.  In response, Ron Lindsay felt the need to make it about how Rebecca Watson is a Bad Person.  (At least further accusations of quote-mining will be justified by the use of quotes):

Rebecca Watson inhabits an alternate universe.  At least that is the most charitable explanation I can provide for her recent smear.  Watson has posted comments on my opening talk at Women in Secularism 2.  It may be the most intellectually dishonest piece of writing since the last communique issued by North Korea.

Perhaps Watson was too busy tweeting about how “strange” it was to have a “white man” open the conference to pay attention to what I was actually saying

I’m just glad Watson didn’t notify security: “white man loose on stage, white man loose on stage!”

There are also places where it continues to be clear that he doesn’t understand the “shut up and listen” suggestion, but at least those aren’t unnecessary and unprofessional attacks on someone who has criticized something he said.

Now I’d like to offer some advice to Ron Lindsay: Shut up and listen.

  • Shut up because you’re just making this more and more of a PR disaster.
  • Shut up because you’re hurting Melody Hensley and the amazing event she put together.
  • Shut up because if you’re so busy coming up with ways to defend yourself, you’re failing to understand why people are upset.
  • Shut up because it is so very clear that you are not listening.
  • Shut up because you can’t talk and listen at the same time.
  • Listen to what other people in your organization have to say.
  • Listen to what other people in the cause have to say.
  • Listen to women and men who are upset about the opening speech.
  • Listen to criticism of what you said and remember that it’s not about who you are as a person, but the argument that you’ve made.
  • Listen because it’s the right thing to do.

I appreciate that there are those who somehow think that this “shut up and listen” thing means don’t use critical thinking, but it’s actually about defensiveness.  People always take things personally.  When someone says, “You’ve got privilege,” most of us want to yell, “I worked really hard to get what I’ve got.”  And most of us have worked really hard, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t privileged — learning to see the privilege is difficult, and to see it we’ve got to be willing to shut up for a little while and recognize the possibility that there are things that we didn’t know before.  In other words, if you’re not prepared to just listen for a little while, you’re going to spend the entire time trying to prove someone wrong instead of considering the possibility that they may have a point.

Ron Lindsay presents this as a war where either you “believe reason and evidence should ultimately guide our discussions, or you think they should be held hostage to identity politics.”  This negates the possibility that this is a fight between factions who think that reason and evidence point to the necessity of identity politics and those who refuse to listen.

Ashley Speaking in Chapel Hill Next Monday

If you are in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area and like Freethought Blogs and/or me and/or the topic of social justice movements and religion, then have I got good news for you!

I will be speaking at UNC-CH for their SSA (Secular Student Alliance) and SAGA (Sexuality and Gender Alliance) groups.

Monday, February 11, 2013
6:30pm until 8:30pm
Murphey 116, UNC

“Come out to hear Ashley Miller, a writer and tv/film editor, speak about religion’s interaction with women’s, gay, and minority rights, both the costs and benefits of religion to individuals in those groups, and how atheism as a movement has failed to be as strong an ally as they can be and how we can change that.

SSA and SAGA members are welcome to join us with Ashley for dinner before the event! “

A couple of things

1. Here is a brilliant post summarizing the treatment that many women in the secular movement have faced in the last several years and the negative effects of that treatment.

http://www.secularwoman.org/opportunity_%20and_%20access_freethought

It’s a great piece, I am only jealous that I did not write it.

2. If you scroll down the page a bit until you get to Events — right above that is a place where you can donate money to FreethoughtBlogs.  As you may or may not know, everyone here blogs because they love it and tries to make time for it between their day job(s), school, and real life.  But, if you’d like to support FtB, and don’t feel obligated, I’m just pointing it out, there are some options to do so in the sidebar.

Two things, there you go.

Link Miscellany: -isms and -ists

Excellent things that other people wrote!

Fighting childhood cancer and the awful Stanislaw Burzynski at the same time!

With your help, the Skeptics for the Protection of Cancer Patients plan to [raise] at least $30,000 by [Burzynski’s] birthday, then challenging the Burzynski Clinic to match whatever they raise, with the total amount going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to support legitimate cancer research and science-based care, even for children who can’t afford it (a novel concept for Burzynski, who charges $30,000 just for one person to enter his “clinical trial” of antineoplaston therapy, a trial that has conveniently been in the preliminary stages for more than 30 years).

For more information and patient tales about the horrors and lies perpetuated by this clinic, peruse The OTHER Burzynski Patient Group.

Trickle Down Feminism:

The stakes are clear. Domestic workers, home care workers, nurses, and other largely female contingents must organize their workplaces or the work that most women do will continue to be undervalued, virtually unregulated, and precarious. The deunionization that has left about 88 percent of American workers without unions will drag the rest of us down as well.

And yet for much of mainstream feminist discourse, it’s as if the economy hasn’t shifted, or as if there’s nothing about it worth examining from the standpoint of gender.

Five polyamory myths debunked. (Credit to Brendan)

Racism within white feminist spaces. Let’s stop that, yeah? (via Andrew)

Nico Lang at WBEZ on transphobia in The Observer. Also the inimitable Lindy West.

Amanda Marcotte is coming to Northwestern. Pbthhh! (Unless you live in Chicago; then you should come!)

Rape prevention aimed at rapists works. It’s terribly shocking, I know. And, it just takes a few clicks to get permission to print out and use the ad campaign yourself!

Robert Bork, scariest almost Supreme Court Justice, dead at 85

bork-timeRobert Bork, the intensely conservative failed Supreme Court nominee from 1987, has passed away after a heart ailment. Bork was a sort of bogeyman from the right, destroyed by Joe Biden in the senate hearings for his nomination for being absolutely insane and who Mitt Romney made head of his judiciary appointments in an attempt to gain conservative credibility.

Thanks to the failure of the Bork nomination, we got Kennedy, who will occasionally vote in favor of things like equality and gay rights.  He is, in fact, our best hope that the court will overturn DOMA and Prop 8.  So, the borking of Robert Bork was quite fateful.

From my speech about the war on women earlier this year:

The Supreme Court has four justices over 70 and Mitt Romney’s chair of judiciary appointments is Robert Bork.

Robert Bork, the man Reagan failed to get on the Supreme Court 15 years ago.  Robert Bork who doesn’t believe in the right to contraception, much less abortion, who thinks discriminating against women is QUOTE “not possible”, who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  I know who I don’t want putting people on our already too anti-woman court.

The thing about Bork, though, is that he was very smart and very funny. I actually have a lot of respect for his intellect, but it’s hard to respect someone who fought for Nixon during Watergate and would repeal equal rights laws if he had the opportunity — and he very nearly did have the opportunity.

More here: http://www.startribune.com/nation/184098181.html?refer=y