1. Greta points out the hypocrisy of expecting religious communities to “police their own” while not doing the same within our own communities. This is a must-read:
I don’t give a shit about the common ground I share with these people. The common ground of “we both don’t believe in God” is a whole lot less important to me than our differences: the difference that they think it’s okay to call women cunts and I do not, the difference that they think I should be ignored because I’m ugly or a whore and I do not; the difference that they think it’s okay to persistently harass and threaten people and I do not; the difference that they think it’s okay to hack into my private email lists and I do not; the difference that they hope I get raped and I do not; the difference that they want me to fuck myself with a knife and I do not. And I have serious problems with the expectation that I should set aside these differences, and focus on our common ground of having concluded that God doesn’t exist… and that I’m not being a good team player if I don’t.
2. We had a bit of a controversy on campus around Cinco de Mayo–the student government wrote a long email trying to tell students not to be culturally appropriative in their celebrations, but they mostly failed to get the point across. My friend Mauricio does a much better job:
At this point someone might object: “But we wear ‘Irish’ costumes every St. Patrick’s Day, and there seems to be nothing wrong with that.” This objection brings up the second important feature of the case of the Native costume. The American soldiers and the captured Natives are not on equal ground—the Americans are in a position of power. It is this power differential that makes the mocking offensive. To see this, imagine a friend mocking one of your mannerisms, and then imagine a professor doing the same in front of the whole class. Clearly the second is much more humiliating, simply because this person holds a kind of power over you that the friend does not. The Irish haven’t been an oppressed minority in the US for a century, which is what makes St. Patrick’s Day celebrations ok. They are on equal grounds with the people celebrating.
4. A writer at the Crunk Feminist Collective talks about Beyonce’s daughter, Blue Ivy, and the politics of Black women’s hair:
I don’t know if it is internalized racism as much as it is internalized standards of beauty within black communities that makes this so commonplace. Well that and an obsession with blackgirl hair that is tamed, in order, slicked down on the sides, wrapped around in braids or covered in curls. We don’t seem to know what to do with blackgirls whose hair is left to do what it will, with baby hairs flying with wild abandon and little afros sticking out every which-a-way. We want black women’s hair to be “fixed” in the same way we want them to be “fixed” (and “right”–whatever that means). And blackgirls are no exception. They are not protected from the harsh judgments about our hair that we oftentimes received ourselves.
There are a lot of problems with these types of statements. For one thing, the price of a piece of clothing is not at all indicative of the working conditions of its manufacturer. For another, implying (or outright saying) that there is something morally wrong with paying ten dollars for a t-shirt is incredibly classist. And finally, saying stuff like this shows a serious lack of understanding about how the garment industry works.
6. Ania explains how abusers use the promise of “dialogue” to perpetrate more abuse:
You cut them off, except cutting them off doesn’t give you any peace. They manage to get in touch with you through someone else. Someone they have convinced that they want to talk to resolve things. The person urges you to make up with them. After all family is family and it is not good to be divisive. You want to agree; you want to hope that this time finally you can have an honest discussion about everything that has gone wrong, on how their actions have made you feel. You want this to be over. You want your anxiety to end, and go back to talking about the things you both care about instead of being called names. But you also remember the last time they promised to work things out, when the dialogue ended up being nothing more than an excuse to yell at you some more. To tear you down just a little bit further. So you ask for a show of good faith; something small, but something to show that they are sincere. Or maybe something not that small, but something that has to be done for any resolution to take place. But they aren’t willing to make that sacrifice. Because it is not about resolution, it is about further abuse. It is about getting the chance to yell at you and abuse you further, but in a new location; a location, where if you don’t show up, you are accused of being the unreasonable one.
7. Jason talks about Danny Brown, the rapper who was recently sexually assaulted while performing:
I lay the blame for all the pain experienced by Brown in dealing with the consequences of his assaulter’s actions, squarely at the feet of the power dynamics of privilege at play. That same power dynamic disadvantages women who are raped by men, and practically ensures that the comparatively few men who are raped by women, like Brown, will probably never see real justice. They’re forced to play it off like it’s no big deal. They’re forced to accept that they don’t get to choose what happens to their dick, by whom, and when. They get to taste in one small way what it’s like to be a woman in a rape culture, and some of these male rape victims even internalize the fucked up narrative that you should be thankful that someone is willing to suck your dick — that you should take it as a compliment, or as something to be cheered on, and never, ever get to say “that was fucked up”, on penalty of having a swarm of self-appointed gender police attack you for stepping out of line.
8. This is a bit older, but it’s very applicable for this weekend: Emily Finke explains that harassment and abuse of women is not just an internet thing:
If you think that inappropriate comments and requests for sex are an internet thing, you’ve never tried to stop a coworker or boss from hitting on you repeatedly, or a head of security, or the guy at the convenience store across the street.
If you think that being shouted at and asked to show people your tits just because you present as a woman only happens in chat rooms and online games, you’ve never walked past a frat house, or, unfortunately, through the main thoroughfares of either university I’ve attended.
If you think unasked for commentary on a woman’s looks only happens because girls post pictures on internet forums (which probably means they’re asking for it), you’ve never been at a bus stop, or the city square, or a mall, or… well, anywhere, really.
If you think insecure men trying to drive women out of activism only happens in online male-dominated communities, you’ve never paid attention politics. Or Fox. Or CNN, sadly.
9. That “Fitch the Homeless” thing is really, really icky. Here’s why:
The big deal comes in when homeless people are being exploited to prove a point. Many homeless people are already widely disenfranchised and lacking a platform to be heard or to get access to the resources they need. By attempting to make a brand look bad by associating it with homelessness, the message is that homeless people are so gross, dirty, shameful (insert negative attribute here) that by associating the brand with these types of people, we are really making the brand look shitty, because these people are so shitty! get it? It’s all such a laugh! This type of “activism” is a farce. It contributes to and propagates a culture wherein homeless people can be used as props to further an agenda.
10. According to this blogger, a “practicality troll” is “one who blames young people for their own economic misfortune, on the grounds that they chose an impractical education or career path,” and their narrative of financially troubled young people has become dominant:
I am one of the lucky ones….But I have friends who are suffering. They are being bounced around between unpaid internships, or desperately sending out resumes, or stuck working in underpaid fast-food jobs when they have master’s degrees. It’s nasty out there, and for baby boomers with secure pensions to shrug their shoulders and say that we should have been more shrewd with our career planning when we were seventeen and there was no recession and everybody was telling us to follow our passions is not just wrong; it’s also insulting. It’s a deliberate attack on unemployed and underemployed young people, aimed at implicating us in our own misfortune and diverting attention away from political choices that are needlessly exacerbating the recession. That this wrong and hurtful narrative has been accepted by the media and political elites is a big, big problem.
Majority rule is, then, a problem because majorities often opt to keep minorities in their place for the benefit of the majority. And yes, a group made up of entirely people who see themselves as good and ethical can and will deny basic rights, respect and dignity to people based on gender, sexuality, ability, race, class, and other axes of oppression. The world might be different someday, but we can’t get there by pretending we are there.
Self-promote in the comments and enjoy WiS2 if you’re going!