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Dec 31 2012

Occasional Link Roundup

Hello! I’m spending this week in my favorite city in the world, New York, so writing might be even slower than it has been lately. (For some reason I do better when I’m on the strict schedule that I have during school.)

Happy New Year and enjoy this awesome writing.

1. A bit late, but this conversation needs to continue: on how we exclude people with mental illnesses from our dialogue and why that needs to stop:

By excluding people with mental illnesses from the conversation, and privileging the voices of those who see mental illness as something terrifying, we are dehumanizing people with mental illnesses. They are not even worth trying to understand. They’re just a problem to be solved, a fear to be controlled.

2. On a polyamory blog, but relevant to everyone: let’s stop claiming that people we’re not attracted to are “disgusting”:

Can we all, please, stop using terms of disgust for people to whom we are not sexually attracted?

[...]Let’s say that, oh, people with brown hair aren’t attractive to you. It does not make people who have brown hair offensive or disgusting. It just means that they have brown hair and that isn’t your thing. It’s okay that it’s not your thing.

It’s not okay to get indignant because someone has the temerity not to be attractive to you.

Like curvy chicks? That’s cool. It’s not cool to snark the skinny ones just because that ain’t your thang.

Gay male? Cool. But freaking out about how disgusting pussy is? Gimme a break.

3. Ozy Frantz explains the need to distinguish between unhealthy relationships and abusive relationships

I think there should be space to say that a relationship is unhealthy without saying that it’s abusive. I like “unhealthy.” It doesn’t imply judgment; it reminds us that there are a lot of situations where no one is clearly at fault but everyone is unhappy. And you know what? Just because it’s not abusive does not mean that it’s okay.

[...]I’d also like to give permission to people in unhappy relationships to end their relationships. I think a lot of us tend to assume that we can only end relationships, or certain kinds of relationships like marriages or family, if People are doing Wrong Things. But if a relationship makes you miserable, you don’t have to stay in it. Not wanting to be in a relationship with someone is enough reason not to be in a relationship with them.

4. Why Autism Speaks does not really speak for autistic people. If you’ve ever worked with or donated to this organization, which is fairly likely given how ubiquitous it is, give this a read:

My existence is not tragic. I do not deserve people’s pity. I am not merely a burden on society, and I do not necessarily seek a “cure.” I don’t claim that my life is perfect, but I do think that there are both benefits and drawbacks to being autistic, and to “cure” me would be to fundamentally alter my psyche to the point that I would no longer exist in any recognizable fashion. All I ask for is equitable treatment and the right to access the services I need in order to live the best life possible.

5. Schools often put students with very different needs, such as ESL (English as a second language) students and those with developmental disabilities, into the same classes. s.e. smith explains why this is wrong:

There’s a strong desire to standardise education in the United States, to make it one-size-fits-all, to promote a single unified theory of educational experience and methodology, and it just doesn’t work. Different student needs are not a bad thing, something to be punished, something to medicate students for in order to force them to conform. They’re just needs, and they need to be identified and addressed rather than shoved under the table and ignored.

6. Kaoru writes about how our culture has created “hierarchies” of traits: certain body types are “better,” certain sexual orientations are “better.”

If we want to see more justice in the world, if we want a world in which people are more widely accepted, then we must stop attaching moral judgment to descriptive qualities. How a person looks, their hobbies, their orientation, their skillsets, and a whole host of other qualities have no effect of the quality of a person, and setting up normative ideals does nothing but encourage us to assume a person’s abilities in absence of evidence.

7. Autumn Whitefield-Madrano shares some fascinating thoughts on beauty, infidelity, and being the “other woman“:

In tales of infidelity, we overlook a central fact: Two people share another. She and I already had two things in common—the man himself, and being the kind of women who would pique his interest. In another time, another place, another life, our begrudging sisterhood could have been sisterwives. We would live together, create a home together, prepare food together. I might braid her hair. And secretly, each of us would worry that the other would forever be more alluring to him, therefore—in my grief-stricken, abjectly depressed reasoning of the time—more alluring to all men, everywhere. How could I not be fascinated by her? I looked her up. She was beautiful.

8. There’s a new website where people can catalog triggering material in movies so that you can check before you go see one. As someone who once spent at least ten minutes reflexively hiding behind a bag of popcorn in a movie theater and trying to stop hyperventilating, I would’ve appreciated this. It’s still very new, so if you’re so inclined, please help build it. Anyone can contribute.

9. Ozy Frantz (again) discusses drunk sex and rape, and why activists’ claims that a drunk person cannot give consent so often fall on deaf ears:

Now, you could make the case that there are lots of people who have sex while stupid-drunk and don’t feel raped in the morning. This is very reasonable. Personally, I think of it similarly to the way I think of someone initiating sex with someone while sleeping: there’s a chance the person will consent to it, in which case no harm no foul, but you still shouldn’t do it without clearing it with them first, because if they don’t consent you just raped them. Also there’s the concern that two severely intoxicated people could have sex and end up raping each other, which seems like a weird result? But then you need mens rea to rape someone, which you clearly don’t have if you’re that drunk, so I suppose you’d end up with two rape survivors and no rapist.

10. Crommunist pointed me to this excellent post after he read my previous post about romanticizing unhealthy relationships; it’s on a very similar subject. This writer describes learning how to criticize pop culture in a gender studies class and discusses how pervasive and insidious these narratives can be, and why it’s important to criticize them:

I get that it’s exhausting to pick shit apart looking for flaws. I get that it’s exhausting to see other people picking shit apart looking flaws. I get that it’s hard to see something you love get lambasted, or tarred with a brush you’d rather not think about, or called bad names. I get that it feels like things are being ruined, like people are looking for things to hate, like people are taking things too seriously. I even get that, as much as we’d like to pretend otherwise, it can feel like a personal attack to see a piece of media we’re attached to get put through the wringer.

[...]But consuming media critically is a skill, and in an age where media is more prevalent than ever before, it’s a skill worth having. It’s a skill worth having because you are going to continue to be exposed to media, and it is going to continue to attempt to manipulate you. It’s a skill worth having because it makes itless difficult to see people talking shit about things you like, not more.

11. Greta Christina responds to some of the ridiculous victim-blaming in the wake of the rapes in India:

Rape victims get blamed when they resist… and when they don’t.

When rape victims don’t resist, people ask them, “Why didn’t you fight back? Why didn’t you scream for help? if only you’d fought back, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.”

And when rape victims do resist, people — such as Anita Shukla — ask them, “Why did you fight back? Why did you scream for help? You only made it worse.”

So how about this. Hear me out, I know this is a little out there, but just for a wild change of pace, let’s try this instead: “If these six men hadn’t raped and beaten her, she would not have lost her intestine. If these six men hadn’t raped and beaten her, she would not have died.”

Just brilliant.

3 comments

  1. 1
    Gretchen

    Regarding unhealthy relationships in media, especially kids’ movies– a few months ago I watched Peter Pan with my two nieces. That movie really should be called Women Are Jealous Bitches. Practically every female character in the film goes into a jealous rage at some point, all over Peter Pan, and in at least one case it nearly gets everyone killed.

    I was horrified. But you know what? As uncomfortable as it made me, I don’t actually think my nieces internalized that. At least, I don’t think we should assume that these messages are.

  2. 2
    smrnda

    Great links! As a person with a pretty severe mental illness (schizoaffective disorder) but also someone who has been totally functional without a relapse for many years, I actually try to make sure to tell lots of people I know about how I several times get hospitalized for actual hallucinations (both visual, auditory and tactile) and how a switch of meds and a few lifestyle changes actually worked. I’ve always done this because people still have this idea that if someone has a mental illness is either totally incapable of functioning or is dangerous and unstable.

    In lots of ways mental illness gets appropriated – movies about ‘mental illness’ usually try to advance the idea that ‘mental illness’ is either dangerous, comical, or else ‘mental illness’ is about society using a label to pathologize divergent behavior.

    I loved how the post on that discussed that families are often NOT the best advocates for the mentally ill. I mean, a lot of people’s mental health issues are made worse by their families, who often want to see the mentally ill person as a case of isolated sickness in the family, not someone who the family might actually be hurting and making worse.

    I’m also all about 10. People pretend that vapid pop culture can’t possibly have a big effect on how people see the world (the same defense is made of commercials) but they do have an effect, and even if it was weak our constant immersion is going to give them an influence.

  3. 3
    catlover

    #4: Autistic people who don’t want a “cure” because they are just fine the way they are. They are very fortunate not to be afflicted with the huge problems many autistic people have. It is wonderful for those who are very high-fuctioning, but what about those who aren’t? Many cannot even communicate at all, and have meltdowns like a neurotypical two-year-old, even as adults. Some have sensory sensitivities that make it very hard for them to handle being around anyone who is chewing food, for instance. These neurodiverse folks who are not high-functioning have very difficult lives that would be much easier if they did not have autism. But even some high-functioning autistic adults seem unable to understand life from an adult perspective, and have periodic meltdowns because of that. They seem never to be able to grow up and handle problems with the understanding and maturity of a neurotypical adult. I know this from painful personal experience, for a close relative is a high-functioning autistic, and I know another autistic young adult who has a lot of trouble even communicating and controlling her impulses. This young woman will never be able to support herself and will always need a lot of help. And I worry a lot about what my relative will do after his parents pass away. Neither of these people can manage on their own, and this terrifies their parents.. My relative is a wonderful person when he is not ranting about something or melting down, and is a happy and wise and helpful person. But those positive qualities are *not* because he is autistic, but ins spite of it. So, yes, we *do* need a cure for autism, if one can ever be found — and the sooner, the better. My dear relative would be much *more* himself without the autism. And with the sad lack of suitable social and support services for autistic folks, such autistic people face a future that is very very scary for them and for their families.

    #10: The media: Young people may not be aware of the nasty realities behind what the media chooses to publicize and the way it states things. Hilary Clinton was right: there *is* a vast, right-wing conspiracy among the media. Nasty wealthy people like the Koch brothers have been quietly buying up media outlets for a long time — and they are not the only right-wing super-rich people who have been doing this. Fox News is just the most obvious example of this — they have lied repeatedly in their news reports. It is very *good* to criticize and analyze the media, for only then will a person be able to see the biases in the media, and then be able to think for themself.

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