Occasional Link Roundup

It’s finally WiS2 weekend! Kate, Jason, and I will be taking turns liveblogging everything, so check our blogs if you want to follow along. If you’re going, I hope to see you there!

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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.

3. Scott Alexander shows that you can, in fact, study prejudice and discrimination empirically and rigorously.

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.

5. Over at the Belle Jar, a discussion of the deadly factory collapse in Bangladesh and why the solution is not as simple as refusing to buy “cheap” clothing:

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.

11. An excellent Geek Feminism post on organizational structure, majority rule, and injustice:

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!

Occasional Link Roundup

What a week. Three midterms, one awful and demoralizing bout of writer’s block, two 80-degree days, and one slightly-viral post. Go forth and read!

1. First and most importantly, we have a new blogger on the network! Her name is Yemisi Ilesanmi and her blog’s tagline is “Proudly Feminist, Proudly Bisexual, Proudly Atheist.” Go welcome her!

2. Dan Fincke is offering affordable online philosophy classes for those who want to be able to tell their Nietzsche from their Heidegger (among other things). Learn more here and sign up here if you’re interested. I’d totally do it if I weren’t brokedy-broke.

3. Speaking of Dan, I found this slightly older post of his that hit me right in the feels:

So, I never stop loving any of the women I loved. I rarely think about most of them. I almost never think of getting back with them. I don’t pine for them. My love for them never disrupts my next relationships or makes me love a new person with any less rapturous infatuation or commitment. But I’ll always love them. I love loving them. I love remembering them and what they meant to me. I love having people who when I think about them, I can find their uniqueness still mesmerizing in a way that never completely wears off. I love that there are people that I can think about and always have this twinge of fascination, however muted with time and distance.

4. Another one for the slightly more moneyed among us: A group of fantastic student activists, including one from my university, are putting together this campaign to teach college students about their Title IX rights, especially as they pertain to survivors of sexual assault. This is really important and there are about three weeks left to donate. It’s called Know Your IX. Check it out.

5. Orlando on rape prevention (this went super-duper viral when I posted it on Tumblr, so trust me, you want to read it):

If owning a gun and knowing how to use it worked, the military would be the safest place for a woman. It’s not.

If women covering up their bodies worked, Afghanistan would have a lower rate of sexual assault than Polynesia. It doesn’t.

If not drinking alcohol worked, children would not be raped. They are.

If your advice to a woman to avoid rape is to be the most modestly dressed, soberest and first to go home, you may as well add “so the rapist will choose someone else”.

6. Jessamyn at Geek Feminism discusses the psychological concept of delayed gratification and uses a recent study to brilliantly show how socioeconomic circumstances can influence human psychology:

The experiment was conceived to study self-control, but there have been several follow-up studies that seemed to indicate correlations between how long the children could hold out on the marshmallow task and their subsequent competence, SAT scores, and brain activity in regions related to control and addiction. In short, people often refer to the marshmallow task study to support claims that willpower at a young age predicts success later in life.

But the assumption there is that waiting is the optimal, if most difficult, strategy. Because sure, waiting for an additional reward could show self-control and the ability to look ahead, when the children think they can trust their environment.

7. Ally says that consent is much more simple than some people seem to think it is:

If you do something to someone’s intimate bits (or with your intimate bits) which you know s/he has not consented to or is unable to consent to at that moment, you are committing an act of sexual assault or rape.

There. That’s it. In practice this means that if s/he says “I’ll do this but I won’t do that” it means you have consent to do this but not do that. If s/he says “I’ll put this here but I’m not having it there” then you have consent to put it here but not put it there. If s/he says “I’ll do this but only if you wear that” then you have consent to do this, if and only if you are wearing that. (I’m mostly thinking of condoms here, but I guess the same principle applies to the pirate outfit. Whatever pushes your boat, you’re still the skipper.) If you ignore this very simple principle, and proceed with an act which your partner has not consented to, you are committing an act of sexual assault or rape.  Oh, and if you do ever find yourself uttering words along the lines of “I’ll do it if I want” then – BIG FUCKING CLUE – you’re a rapist.

8. Chana thinks you should stop FAPing. Wait, let her explain:

What all these people have in common is that when they see a discussion going on about a particular topic, they seem to think to themselves “I know an argument about that topic!” and then proceed to give it, whether or not it’s appropriate or relevant. FAPers see making their argument as so important that it doesn’t matter whether it adds to the discussion or not.

(FAP stands for “fixed action pattern,” by the way.)

9. Mitchell talks about “You can be anything you want!“:

First, as with all, “You can do it if you really try”, messages, saying these types of things implies that if you don’t reach particular goals, it’s because you didn’t try hard enough. While it may be true that there are people who could have been astronauts if they just studied a little harder, that’s certainly not the case for everyone who ever wanted to be an astronaut and didn’t make it. Plenty of people who may have dreamed of being astronauts probably have mental or physical limitations that prevent it from being possible. Plenty of others were probably raised in contexts where they didn’t have access to an educational system sufficient to the task of preparing someone to pursue a career as an astronaut. Others still may have had the pursuit of that particular goal derailed by debt, traumatic life events, personal disasters, natural disasters, etc. The simple reality is that not everyone can be an astronaut, and it’s not just because everyone who doesn’t make it is lazy.

10. Lauren Divito at Bitchtopia gives some advice to men’s advice columns:

I recently came across this gem from AskMen.com: “Top 10: Subtle Ways To Tell Her She’s Getting Fat.”  Not only does this article perpetuate the idea that fat bodies—and fat women’s bodies in particular—are unacceptable, but it doesn’t do straight men any favors, either. If it’s not clear enough from the ratings (87% feeling “furious,” and only 2% feeling like “a better man”) then allow me to spell this out for you: these kinds of articles suck.

[...]No woman’s body type makes her deserving of emotional abuse.  I don’t care if you don’t find a certain body type attractive; you’re allowed to have preferences.  However, that does not give you the right to try to make a woman feel bad about her body.  People should be allowed to feel confident about themselves at any size.  If your girlfriend is happy with her fat self, don’t try to change her.

11. Ozy makes a good case for studying snail sex and dispels the myth that researching arcane subjects is the reason we’re fucked financially right now:

The government is not loads in debt because they have spent a lot of money on research about animal fucking. The government spends most of its money on Social Security, the Department of Defense, and “Unemployment/Welfare/Other Mandatory Spending.” The Department of Animal Fucking Research was, unfortunately, too small to show up on the pie chart.

12. Heina on “fauxminism“:

While trying to set up a One True Feminist or Feminism would be problematic (not to mention blatantly fallacious), if feminism really were just about supporting individual women’s choices, then it would simply be called “female individualism.” While choice is an important part of feminism, it is far from the only part, especially in a world where those doing the talking about feminism often have more choices available to them than those they would criticize.

Feminism, then, does not equal blind support for all women and all of their choices, but working towards a world where more and more women have more and more agency in their lives — a world where women who aren’t hot, extraordinarily talented, Republicans, mothers, assigned female at birth, powerful, or able to look sexy while kicking someone’s ass are still able to be people, too.

13. Wes at Polyskeptic writes about skeptical monogamy and gives a bunch of reasons why skeptics may choose it:

Most people feel sexual or romantic desire for more than one person. However, not everybody does. A couple who approached their relationship skeptically could easily conclude that they were only interested in each other. However, the difference between this and your garden-variety monogamy is that skeptical monogamy (or what Shaun calls accidental monogamy) would not have rules against outside sexual or romantic connections. They just wouldn’t happen, because neither party would be interested. A skeptical couple, however, will know they cannot predict their future desires (especially many years in advance), so a skeptically monogamous couple will not make long-term plans or rules that are dependent upon their desires remaining only for one another.

14. Emily Fincke wrote this amazing piece on sensationalism in the news. Don’t just read the excerpt. Read all of it.

Your false suspense. Your overly-produced segments featuring concerned blonde ladies in news rooms in front of footage of carnage. Your suspenseful music and pre-commercial teasers. Your “shocking breakthroughs” and “exclusive information (which may or may not be correct)”.

You take our human concern and pervert it. You make our desire to know what’s going on and turn us into peeping toms. You take the human interests and make them into reality tv performers.

[...]Until you figure this out, news. I’m going to continue to continue to get my news from brilliant reporters like Seth Mnookin and Taylor Dobbs. I’m going to continue turning to the brilliant group of journalists, both fledgeling and veteran, both professional and amateur, whom I follow on twitter. I will continue to get my morning news from NPR and my evening news from BBC world. I will not be watching your overly-produced reality porn. I will not be giving your sponsors eyes. I will not be falling prey to the messages you send about who are the *correct* people to be afraid of. I will not be absorbing your biases and your messages of fear and hatred. I will not buy into your manufactroversies, and I will not hound innocent young men because they fit the profile you want me to suspect.

Go give me ideas for my blogothon on Sunday, post your own links in the comments, and have a great weekend!

Occasional Link Roundup

Blogging’s been slow lately because I’m back at school, taking five classes, and consistently failing to get enough alone quiet introvert time. So here’s some stuff to read that’s not me.

1. Mia McKenzie responds to “Accidental Racist”:

There is nothing “accidental” about making a bee-line for a Black boy because he looks suspicious to you. That is some George Zimmerman shit. That is some very usual, very run-of-the-mill, is-happening-all the-time somewhere, straight-up racist shit. And you know what else it is? It is a CHOICE. While you may not have complete control over what you feel when you are confronted by something that makes you uncomfortable (for whatever ingrained racist reason it does), you certainly have a choice about what actions you take. And harassing a kid because he’s Black and his pants are sagged is a bad choice. A racist choice. Just like wearing a confederate flag on your t-shirt is a choice, Brad Paisley. If you know what the flag is and what it represents and you still put it on your body and walk around in it and get in front of a camera wearing it, that’s not an accident. You didn’t trip over the corner of the rug and fall into the shirt. You made a choice. A really, really racist one.

2. Steven gives examples of logical fallacies that aren’t always fallacies:

The problem with rejecting all arguments from authority is that we run the risk of falling into anti-intellectualism or becoming self-important know-it-alls. The fact is, there are people who know shit that you don’t know. I can read about medicine all damn day, but if an M.D. tells me I got it wrong, it may be reasonable to ask for a second opinion, but it is not reasonable to utterly reject their opinion as an mere argument from authority.

3. Ozy is absolutely brilliant on the subject of medicalizing neurodiversity:

I personally know one person who was on meds to the point that he didn’t have feelings for a decade, and another person who says if she hadn’t started meds when she did she’d be dead, so I’m pretty aware that this is a complicated situation. Psychiatric medications can have nasty side effects; some of them are addictive; some of them may or may not just be placebos; they’re often very expensive.

But you know what? If an adult who is not hurting anyone has decided, in consultation with their psychiatrist, that their life is better with meds than without them– it is not your job to police them. Other people’s emotional health? None of your business! If your life is more fulfilling with occasional periods of depression, that’s your business, but you do not get to subject other people to depression because you like it, any more than I get to subject people to pineapple-and-olives pizza because I like it.

4. Mandolin discusses the idea of referring to criticism as a “witch hunt,” “lynch mob,” or “crucifixion”:

Criticism (especially in a social justice context) is often described as assault, a witch hunt, a lynch mob, or a crucifixion….they are all attempts to silence criticism by comparing it to a violent, unacceptable act….The use of the terms witch hunts and lynch mobs (or mobs in general) also implies that the criticism is not being offered in good faith, and certainly not with thoughtfulness, deliberation or sincerity. Instead, it implies that the criticism is the result of a mass delusion. It implies that there is nothing to criticize at all–that the very nature of what is being criticized is superstition–since witches don’t exist and lynched victims are innocent. It implies that the only goal of criticism is bloodletting, that it will only be satisfied by burning stakes, pressing stones, or hung corpses.

5. Another great list of tips for getting through depression:

12) Any “friend” who resolutely believes that your depression is because you’re lazy, because you’re not trying hard enough, who blames you for not bootstrapping out of it- that friend needs to be cut off. Polite (#2) is one thing, but there is a limit. You don’t have to explain, you can just not respond. You feel badly enough, you don’t need their “assistance”.

6. Thomas explains why consent education (or the oft-maligned “teaching rapists not to rape”) is important, even if many rapists cannot, in fact, be taught not to rape:

Even if you believe, as I do, that the predators are not confused and can’t be educated, there are two good reasons to believe that consent education can make the climate better.  First, because there are rapists who are not that small percentage of predators.  Second, the predators absolutely depend on what I call the Social License to Operate, the climate that explains away or excuses what they do in certain circumstances, calls it not rape, calls it the survivor’s fault, minimizes it and lets him get away with it.  Without that, the rapists can’t do it over and over because they’d get caught, excluded from their social circles, disciplined by commanding officers or expelled from campus, and they’d either have to stop or end up in prison.

7. Over on Thought Catalog, a fantastic piece of satire about Jon Hamm and his infamous penis:

As a famous person/role model, Jon Hamm needs to be conscious of how he presents himself in the public eye. There are thousands of young men across the country who look up to him. Maybe this kind of salacious pants-wearing fashion is fine for an adult, but what about the children? Do we really want America’s boys parading their dongs around like some kind of back-alley Chinatown meat market? I for one do not.

8. Foz has some great advice on writing characters with marginalized identities that you do not share:

As important as it is to acknowledge the oppression experienced by non-privileged groups in the real world and to incorporate that into your writing, it’s also important to write POC/QUILTBAG characters whose narrative arcs aren’t defined by the obstacles they face because of who they are. This doesn’t mean writing such characters to be interchangeable with privileged characters, as that’s just another form of erasure; rather, it means letting them have the same kind of adventures and primary focus as privileged characters, but without compromising or eliding their identities.

9. Probably PZ’s best post yet. You’ll just have to see it for yourself.

10. On getting rid of the idea that silence is “sexy”:

We’ve gotten the idea from movies and magazines that silence is sexy.  Ultimate romance means fireworks and fairy dust sprinkling down from the heavens and instilling in us some magical intuition where both people suddenly just know what the other wants.  Speaking out loud in full sentences would break the rhythm, ruining the mystical thrill of the spontaneous moment.  And GOD FORBID you ask permission to do anything.  I mean, come on, major boner killer.

11. Think Les Mis makes a good case for criminalizing sex work? You might be wrong:

It is nonsensical to call Fantine a sex trafficking victim, as sex trafficking requires a sex trafficker.  Fantine does not have a pimp of any sort; third-party coercion is not a part of this story. Even if Fantine had a coercive pimp, it would still be glossing over important issues to attribute all of Fantine’s suffering to him.  This is a story about the criminalization of poverty, as well as poverty itself. Fantine most definitely does not want to enter the sex trade and does not enjoy her experiences there. But this is actually not synonymous with sex trafficking. But exploitative work conditions are not synonymous with trafficking. Her unhappiness does not justify arresting her, or driving her business further underground by arresting her clients, and making her already dire situation worse.

12. Scott on getting into polyamory:

I can’t even get angry with people who say polyamory is incompatible with true love. They’re just empirically wrong, like someone who remarks confidently that hippos have six legs. They’re not evil or even deluded. They just obviously haven’t seen any hippos. You don’t really want to argue with them so much as take them to a zoo, after which you are confident they will realize their mistake.

13. Cliff answers that age-old question, “How can you be a feminist and do BDSM?

For one thing, a whole lot of those arguments could apply to plain ol’ sex.  It can be used as a weapon of, and an excuse for, horrific abuse?  People are sometimes unintentionally harmed doing it?  It’s horrible when done nonconsensually?  There are some really awful people who are into it?  A lot of the narratives around it are sexist, hetero/cisnormative, body-policing, and glamorize unsafe and questionably consensual activities?  The industries that sell media and services related to it are often nightmarishly exploitative?  I don’t want to deny or minimize the fact that all these things happen in BDSM.  I just don’t think it’s any worse in kink than in sex.

14. Autumn writes about fashion “rules” and how women use them to manage the stigma associated with their bodies:

If your body type is coded in a particular way, you’ve got a whole other set of stigma to deal with*. As Phoebe Maltz Bovy pointed out during her guest stint here, “[S]tyle and build have a way of getting mixed up, as though a woman chooses to have ‘curves’ on account of preferring to look sexy, or somehow magically scraps them if her preferred look is understated chic.” A woman with small breasts and narrow hips has more freedom to wear low-cut tops in professional situations without raising eyebrows, because there’s less stigma to manage. A woman in an F-cup bra with hourglass curves? Not so much. Witness the case of Debralee Lorenzana, the Citibank employee who was fired for distracting the male employees with her wardrobe—which, on a woman without Lorenzana’s figure, would be utterly unremarkable, and, more to the point, unquestionably work-appropriate. Her failure, as it were, lay not in her clothes but in not “properly” managing the stigma that her figure brought.

Written anything good lately? Share it in the comments!

Occasional Link Roundup

I’m on spring break! I get to read a lot! Enjoy.

1. Chavisory talks about emotional discussions:

It took me a long time to learn that almost whenever someone tells you that you’re being “too emotional,” what they mean is that you are being perfectly appropriately emotional about something that they simply don’t want to have to acknowledge or think about.  That being emotional is not a disqualification from argument.  Being emotional is human.

Un-emotionality is not the equivalent of having a rational argument, or a reliable indicator that someone does.  It is not the same as having a grasp of facts or science or of the actual conditions under discussion.

2. Kaoru takes one for the team and fact-checks A Voice For Men:

The MRM has some legitimate concerns, but they will ultimately fail to have any sort of major impact on them because they are more concerned with trolling feminists than actually addressing the systematic problems that result in what they’re concerned about. That, and those legitimate problems are buried beneath pointless garbage like how unfair it is that sometimes they have to take paternity tests.

3. Mia McKenzie on the Steubenville verdict:

​I, unlike many people reacting to today’s verdict, am not just thrilled to death that two 16-year-old boys are going to jail. What they did was terrible. There is no excuse. They have to be two seriously fucked-up kids to have done what they did. But what I know for damn sure is that jail does not fix broken people. It only breaks them harder.

The fact is that once these boys enter the prison system, even ​in juvenile detention, chances are that they will return to it. It will, with little doubt, fuck them up more than they are already fucked-up. They will not likely emerge from prison as two well-adjusted men who respect women and understand that sexual assault against them is not okay. That’s not what prison does for people.

4. Patrick explains one of the ways in which Dan Savage misunderstands and promotes harmful stereotypes about bisexuality, and connects it to the ongoing debate in Minnesota about marriage equality:

Biphobia in the queer community legitimizes homophobia in the dominant culture. Kicking out the bisexuals doesn’t help you, it hurts you. Telling half of the LGBT population that they don’t belong just shrinks our numbers and takes power away from all of us. Biphobia by leaders in the gay and lesbian communities allows straight haters to use biphobia as a wedge to divide us – and these people are experts at using wedges.

5. Janet D. Stemwedel has one of the best takes on the PyCon incident that I’ve seen:

There has been the predictable dissection of Adria Richards’ every blog post, tweet, and professional utterance prior to this event, with the apparent intention of demonstrating that she has engaged in jokes about sex organs herself, or that she has a history of looking for things to get mad about, or she’s just mean, and who is she to be calling other people out for bad behavior?

This has to be the least persuasive tu quoque I’ve seen all year.

If identifying problematic behavior in a community is something that can only be done by perfect people — people who have never sinned themselves, who have never pissed anyone off, who emerged from the womb incapable of engaging in bad behavior themselves — then we are screwed.

 

6. Leopard writes about the stereotype that women need to be “spoiled” and “pampered”:

An extremely pervasive idea exists in society— that women are to be pampered, especially by the men in their lives. Everywhere you look, adverts for flowers, chocolates and jewellery encourage men to ‘pamper her’, ‘spoil her’, ‘indulge her’, and even on International Women’s Day yesterday, which originated in 1909 to promote gender equality, my Facebook feed was full of friends and acquaintances talking about what they, or someone else had done for IWD, which usually boiled down to (you guessed it) giving/receiving flowers, chocolates or cards, stripping the day of all political meaning.

7. Kate Harding says extremely sensible things about feminist women who change their names when they get married:

Look, you’re a feminist who, in this particular case, made the non-feminist choice. That’s all. I assume it was the right choice for you, or you wouldn’t have done it, and that’s fine! But feminism is not, in fact, all about choosing your choice. It is mostly about recognizing when things are fucked up for women at the societal level, and talking about that, and trying to change it. So sometimes, even when a decision is right for you, you still need to recognize that you made that decision within a social context that overwhelmingly supports your choice, and punishes women who make a different one.

8. That Monsanto Protection Act everyone’s been up in arms about? Not really a thing. Although we should absolutely keep criticizing the shit out of Monsanto.

9. Captain Awkward gives a bunch of great advice to someone who wants to be less negative and critical:

There’s this fallacy that “authenticity” always means talking about things with the most negative, critical eye.  Not sharing every opinion that you have does not equal “being fake” or “lying.” Every dinner party doesn’t have to turn into a Platonic discussion of What is the Good?

10. I’ve just discovered this brilliant blog about asexuality and found this slightly older post about the concept of “platonic love”:

The “romantic-sexual/platonic” love dichotomy leaves no room for the real emotional nuances people experience in their attachments, and I think that it often causes us to live with simplified relationships not because we want to or because we have simple desires and feelings but because we have no experience, cultural context, or language to accommodate a complex social life or set of relationships. This is why language is so important. This is why words and labels matter. How can you have the kind of relationships you want with anyone, if you don’t even have the words to accurately express how you feel?

11. Keely writes about the sex-negative messages she received as a teenager and how they may have contributed to an unhealthy relationship she had:

if the background noise of my life at 16 or 17 or 18 had contained the kind of overt positive messaging about feminism and boundaries and consent, the kind of messaging that I am trying to spread around in my little bubble and that I am seeing more and more of all the time…. that would have mattered. It may not have changed everything–my bad relationship became toxic for a variety of reasons, and sex was only one of them. But it still would have taken that much less time to shake the toxic beliefs that helped keep me with him.

12. Elyse criticizes the “love your body” narrative:

But here’s the thing… It’s okay to not love my body. It’s okay to not even like my body. They’re my feelings and it’s my body and I will use those feelings to feel however I want to about my body. I don’t need you to tell me how to feel.

We don’t have to find ourselves beautiful. Beauty is not the one thing that makes us and our bodies worth loving. We don’t have to distort an already fucked-up definition of beauty, and pretend we fit into it, just to feel like we are people worthy of being loved.

13. Ana Mardoll explains why she doesn’t call herself a feminist offline:

I live in a community where I have on more than one occasion been forced to haul out the words “because my husband doesn’t like me to” in order to get out of situations where I was being bullied and pressured into doing things that I didn’t feel comfortable doing. After saying firmly and repeatedly that I didn’t want to do these things, that I wouldn’t do these things, and that I didn’t feel comfortable being repeatedly asked to do these things — all to no avail — I dragged out the magic words that I hate-hate-hate to use. “My husband doesn’t like me to” is the mantra that evaporates every objection in my community; a protective cloak that I resent being forced to wear by a community that considers my own consent to be meaningless even as it values my husband’s consent not for who he is but for what he represents.

14. If the atheist group on Kiva reaches 25,000 members by Sunday, it’ll get $10,000 in matching loans! Signing up is free and you get $25 to loan out just for joining. More details at Crommunist’s. Do it! There’s literally no excuse not to. :)

Occasional Link Roundup

First, updates from Miri’s Grad School Saga: it’s over! I’m going to Columbia University next year, which means my very very long-awaited move to New York City is happening in less than six months. Needless to say, I AM EXCITED. If any of you live there, you should let me know! I plan to get involved with CFI-NY and whatever else is there, so you’ll probably see me around. :)

Now, links:

1. Ania Bula is raising money for a book about her experiences with chronic illness as a skeptic. There are eight days left to contribute money; please consider it if you have some to spare!

Chronic illness is an invitation for everyone to comment: either with regards to a cause, a treatment, or otherwise. Suddenly, everyone’s aunt is an expert and everyone’s fad diet a cure. You wade through a constant stream of ignorance and lies, in a desperate attempt to find peace and a stop to pain. In my years  living with both disorders I have been faith healed, poked, prodded, stuffed with powders and magic potions, and now is my opportunity to tell everyone about it.

2. Kate writes about how therapists are trained in the U.S. and what’s wrong with it:

I want budding counselors to begin their education by learning about ALL kinds of people and systems. I want to stop assuming that living in the world gives you enough life experience to counsel anyone. Because you know who can afford to go to college for two degrees, who are encouraged and supported in doing so? Mostly privileged people. Do you know who we’re really bad at providing mental health services for? The underprivileged.

3. Nico Lang responds to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ piece about “the good racist people” and reiterates that bigotry is not necessarily borne out of anger and hatred:

No one thinks of themselves as a bigot. They don’t look in the mirror and say, “I hate gay people. I am a homophobe.” Those women didn’t hate me. They loved me so much that they didn’t want me to stay the way I was. They didn’t want me to experience an eternity of damnation. They wanted to save me, just like my mother did. My mother didn’t want me to come home crying or have to stay up late with me because I was too scared to go to school the next day. She didn’t want the world to break my heart at such a young age, and it was too hard to ask everyone around me to change. So she asked me to change and broke my heart her own way. I was the one being punished again for not understanding what being different meant.

4. Beckie discusses Reeva Steenkamp’s murder and how most of the media coverage of it focused on her killer, Oscar Pistorius, and his achievements:

Of course, Pistorius must be considered innocent until proven guilty; nevertheless, the focus on the athlete as victim in the case is misplaced. Whatever anguish the former hero might be feeling, it is Steenkamp who is the victim. Many articles on the subject seem to be treating her death merely as an addendum to the story of Pistorius’ trial and the demise of his sparkling reputation. She in mentioned only in passing: as collateral damage in the fall of a sporting great.

5. Ozy suggests that education could be improved if we taught less stuff.

6. Foz makes the case for public breastfeeding:

Because at the end of the day, while having children is certainly a choice, our insistence on categorising the decision as a mere affectation of lifestyle – as though, if parenthood were to suddenly drop out of vogue like 70s decor or the poodle perm, we’d all just move on to shoulder pads and rollerblading instead – is a blinkered refusal to acknowledge its necessity. It might be an ugly, dirty job as far as some are concerned; but like rubbish collection and sewage maintenance, we still need someone to do it. Allowing for the inevitable, ongoing presence of children in public – and, as a consequence, admitting that their best interests must are also the best interests of society – doesn’t mean you have to worship at the altar of parenthood. Rather, it’s simply an acknowledgement that public spaces are shared spaces, and that sometimes, our personal comfort levels are going to be transgressed or trumped by the rights and needs of others.

7. Why Yahoo’s recent ban on telecommuting matters for women, parents, and people with disabilities.

This is a feminist issue because women, no matter their economic status, are expected to have flexible schedules. Men, on the other hand, are expected to have rigid, 9-5 type jobs that they just couldn’t possibly take a day off from. Society is structured so that women are expected to leave early when a child falls ill at school or pushes the school swing-hog off the swing set and gets suspended for the day. Anyone who is or knows a mother knows the hell moms get for having to take off, but fewer people recognize that we set up this structure by not allowing people to telecommute or by ridiculing the male parent into pressuring Mom to take care of it. If we allowed for one or two days a week of telecommuting in fields where this is reasonable, then we might have a chance of breaking down that structure.

8. Ally Fogg has some reflections on anger and feminism:

Anger is not incompatible with compassion and empathy, it is often the product of them. Indeed, unless it is tempered with compassion and empathy, anger can easily be misdirected into fascism and hatred. When I despair of debates on gender (which is often) it is usually because those involved, on either or both sides, have found their anger but lost their compassion. That is a dangerous mix.

9. An anonymous Harvard student wrote a heartbreaking piece in their school newspaper about living with schizophrenia and being unable to get adequate treatment:

What they never tell you about schizophrenia is that you never really believe it, internalize it, identify with it. Mornings are agonizing because every day in the haze of waking up I briefly remember all over again who I am and what I have lost. I remember the friends that I am terrified will see me differently if I tell them; I remember that on my bad days I scare people in class and on the subway; I remember that the academic career for which I had worked is now improbable. I remember that the measure of success for too many of my days will be that I have not killed myself.

Self-promote and all that! (Links to specific posts work better than links to entire blogs.)

Occasional Link Roundup

First of all, news! Thanks to the incredible generosity of Marcus Ranum, a frequent commenter on FtB, I’m going to Women in Secularism 2 for free! If you’re going too, you should find me there and say hi.

While I’m on the subject of things I’m going to, I’m also going to SkepTech in the Twin Cities on April 5-7. You should find me and say hi there too.

In terms of the rest of my life, I’m about to turn 22 and start hearing back from grad schools. Dunno how I feel about either of those things right now. :P

On to the links.

1. Paul explains the importance of (sometimes) just shutting up and listening:

It is natural for anyone, especially skepto-atheists, to become hung up on a point of fact, particularly when it colors how we are seen, when an interpretation of words reflects on us as people. When called out for saying something or for holding an opinion that seems to reveal a lack of sensitivity, a social ignorance, or an over-abundance of privilege, it stings, and our obvious recourse is to counter the accusation (or the polite consciousness-raising) with more words. An additional three or four paragraphs, surely, will clear this whole mess up.

Has it ever?

2. Collin discusses free speech and the “right not to be offended” and makes a ton of really excellent points:

There is no right not to be offended, but this platitude, when used as a rhetorical conversation-stopper, is nothing more than a red herring*. In the same sense that you dohave a right to uncritically accept shallow falsehoods or commit logical fallacies, you also have a right to cause offense. However, if you wish to be a rationalist, you should not mindlessly exercise these rights, and you should especially not use them as a pretext for intellectual dishonesty.

3. Captain Awkward settles the question of whether or not men and women can be friends. (Spoiler alert: yes.)

When I was growing up, my mom fell into this trap, big time even though she is an amazing, driven, brilliant, career-minded feminist who brooks no crap from anyone. She was hyper-vigilant and worried about any time I spent with boys. Even though I played on a nearly all-male soccer team. Even though men made up more than half our family, not to mention being half of everyone on the planet so, not actually avoidable. I was not allowed to invite male friends over, or go to their houses, and the question was always “Will there be boys there?” She would say “It’s not that I don’t trust you, I just don’t trust them,” or “You never know what might happen” or “You don’t want to get a reputation.” I wanted to know – WHAT? WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN?

4. Cliff discusses negotiating relationships; this is an extremely useful post. I can’t even pull a quote out because it’s all that good.

5. Jadehawk explains why a recent piece on sex work from Feministe is wrong. Also impossible to pull a quote from since it’s a point-by-point rebuttal.

6. A writer for Yale University’s feminist magazine discusses veganism and privilege:

I have access to produce, to grains and nuts, to soy and specialty “health” products; a family and community that value or at least tolerate that decision. Because I am able to eat vegan, I do. In my experience, being a vegan (if it is economically and nutritionally feasible) is easier than being a feminist. In my diet I can draw very clear lines for myself, which requires only that I obey a habit at each meal. In contrast, responsible feminism requires the mental exercise of regularly throwing off the patriarchy’s kyriarchy’s hold.

7. Ferrett points out how important it is to differentiate between being attracted to people physically and being attracted to their personality, and how most people don’t really think about this difference:

Look, I’m not saying never to boink a really pretty person who you don’t get along with. Do!  Safely!  Consensually!  Exorbitantly!  But the danger is in trying to transform that single-serving friendship into a relationship.  And you do that by fabricating bits of their personality that don’t actually exist, which is never a good idea.

8. Lore Sjöberg from Wired discusses the Nice Guy phenomenon:

Now, I hear some of you complaining “women always say they want a nice guy.” I know lots of women — I’m even related to a few — and I can’t say I’ve ever heard any of them say that. I can’t prove it, but this sounds like one of those things stand-up comedians say about women and everyone else just repeats. I’ve also never known a woman who cries when she breaks a nail — although I’ve known a few who swear like a 15-year-old sailor in jail — and I’ve never had a woman ask me if her outfit made her look fat unless she actually wanted and subsequently appreciated my opinion. So either I’ve stumbled upon a secret trove of women who aren’t passive-aggressive sob machines, or you need to stop mistaking Dane Cook routines for peer-reviewed sociological studies.

9. Why “agreeing to disagree” is wrong in the context of religious debates:

Christianity is a privileged class in this country, and at many times throughout history (including today) its religious leaders have been guilty of oppressing people whose humanity (as found in their religion or lack thereof, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, etc.) they haven’t understood. This has happened in nearly every generation in which Christianity has existed– and in every case, there has always been some faction of people who said, “Those who wish to use scripture to marginalize others are entitled to their opinion.”

I can’t say that anymore. Even if it’s popular. Even if it’s politically correct. Even if it’s touted as the “peaceful” thing to do.

10. It may take a few rereads to understand what this piece is trying to say, but it’s well worth a read if you’re interested in alternative sexuality and relationship models:

your poly is only politicaly relevant to me if…

[...]you do not pit your partners, hookups, or love interests against each other by being shady and shitty about communication — especially if you are masculine-identified

[...]you do not dismiss your partners’ jealousies, insecurities, or negative feelings as just them being “jealous” or “too emotional” or “not really getting it.” you don’t blame or shame people for their emotions.

[...]you do not dismiss others’ concerns about you being possibly disrespectful or misogynistic as them not being radical or sex-positive enough.

11. Greta discuses high heels and feminism:

I don’t have an objection to high heels.

I have an objection to women being pressured into wearing high heels. I have an objection to the idea that you have to wear high heels to be beautiful or sexy or feminine. I have an objection to the fashion trends that make it almost impossible for a woman to be reallydressy without high heels. I have a powerful objection to any expectation or demand whatsoever that women wear high heels in the workplace. I have a powerful objection to any social or economic pressures that make wearing high heels necessary for women to advance in their careers, or that give women who do wear high heels a career advantage over women who don’t.

12. Kaoru describes learning to understand the meaning of Schrodinger’s Rapist:

I was very briefly Schrodinger’s Rapist earlier this week. I knew my intentions, but the woman I spoke to did not, and while I have never done nor ever will do such a thing, I accept that we live in a culture where it’s not worth taking that risk. As a decent human being, I backed off to make another human being more comfortable because it was literally the very least I could do. This random woman wasn’t “making herself a victim,” she was avoiding being made a victim in the best way she could, which means eternal vigilance.

13. Post of the week! How to keep moving forward, even when your brain hates you:

Help someone else. Specifically, lend someone your skill in something you are good at.  Yes, you will feel warm and fuzzy for your good deed, and maybe that warm and fuzzy will quiet the SAD! part of your brain down. But more than that, this is about reminding yourself that you are capable and useful. Often our own tasks take on so much importance that they just seem impossible, and you can almost convince yourself that your brain just doesn’t work anymore.  Putting your mind to work on a problem with low stakes for you–someone else’s problem–will show you it still functions.

Remember to promote your own stuff in the comments! But keep in mind that it works much better when you link to a specific post you wrote, not to your entire blog. I’m sure your entire blog is wonderful, but few of us have time to go read the entire archives. :)

Occasional Link Roundup

Alright, I’ve been sick AND doing 5,000 7 grad school apps, so some of these links are actually from 2012. Ugh, embarrassing.

Before I get started, a couple things:

1. Promote your own stuff in the comments! Seriously, I want to see what you all write. (Update: but not the way the first commenter did!)

2. I’m starting to slowly switch my name from Miriam to Miri, which I vastly prefer. I haven’t changed it here on FtB yet, but if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you’ve probably noticed. I don’t care what people call me, but this is just so people aren’t all like WHO THE HELL IS MIRI once I change it here.

3. If, very very hypothetically speaking, I started a podcast with a fellow progressive skeptic atheist friend and basically covered the same sorts of stuff I cover on this blog in a casual, conversational style, perhaps once or twice a month, what might be a good hypothetical name for it? (I suck at names.)

Now, on to the links!

1. Cliff explains what’s wrong with how (and what) we teach teenagers about sex:

God we fuck up teenagers’ heads.  We tell them that biological conditions are moral punishments and then we get all shocked when they don’t practice rational risk management of biological conditions.  We teach them “sex is super desirable and all the cool kids do it, and it’s hideously shameful and will destroy your life” and we wonder why they act an eensy bit neurotic about it.  If you tried to design a system for making sexually active kids confused and unsafe, you couldn’t do much better than the American media and school system.

2. Amanda Marcotte (who I just got to see speak here at Northwestern yay!) tackles the myth that rape is an “accident” that happens when there’s alcohol and women wake up and “decide” it wasn’t actually consensual. She suggests an alternate explanation for the prevalence of this myth (TW):

There is a man who really likes raping women. It gets him off, the power and control he has, as well as the fear in her eyes as she realizes yes, this is really going to happen. He enjoys doing this as often as he can….So he attacks drunk women. He may even ply them with alcohol to get them drunker. He does this for two reasons: 1) They are easier to overpower and 2) No one believes them because they were drinking. After the rape, if the victim says she was raped, all you have to do is refer to the Legend of the Accidental Rapist, and everyone will rally to support you while dismissing the victim for being a sloppy drunk and a hysterical bitch who is too hopped up on feminist horseshit to think properly.

 

3. Sarah at Girls Like Giants wrote about Kristen Stewart cheating on Robert Pattinson and why this particular bit of celeb gossip is important:

Bella would never cheat on Edward, Twilight fans cried, which was exactly the point. Bella is a paper-thin construction of virginal white womanhood, albeit one with frankly sexual impulses, so obviously she would never cheat on her true love. She’s supposed to give everything up for him. But Stewart, whatever her star text, is also a human being with a life of her own. She’s not duty-bound to follow anyone’s plot.

4. Patrick usually writes about bisexuality, but this time he wrote a beautiful and deeply sad piece about losing his home, a reminder that the personal is political.

It’s not home anymore. Now it’s just a house. And I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve been ripped off. That it was stolen because someone looked at a balance sheet and said “We’ll have a better profit next quarter if we sell this one to an investor for cash for a quarter of the amount we’d get over the next 25 years of mortgage payments.”

5. Ozy provides a clear and helpful description of what it’s like to have borderline personality disorder, a diagnosis that is often stigmatized and derided even by psychologists.

Like a lot of borderlines, I’m bad at the concept that people still exist when they’re not in contact with me. I forget people when they’re not around. If I have things that belong to someone, I can remember them, which is why I tend to collect presents that people I love have given me. I’m also bad at the concept that people can be things other than “perfect paragons whose feet I should kiss” and “scum of the earth.” You’re perfect if you love me, and you’re scum if you might leave.

6. Eric responds to that December NYT article about poor college students:

It reeks of an “aw shucks, that’s a shame, things should be different, we should do more to help” attitude, but nobody dares to truly question the broader environment that allowed the story’s events to take place. Nobody questions a system that every decision maker in America came through, but which only works for 20%-40% of the country. Nobody questions a system that’s supposed to be the key American vehicle for social mobility, but which often has a sticker price of $150,000.

7. Ed from The Heresy Club talks about Satoshi Kanazawa (yes, that guy), who now claims that he’s not an atheist because atheists are meanies or something.

It’s little more than the same drivel about equating a person’s beliefs to the person himself. Yes, our beliefs, religious or not, do shape our sense of identity. Yes, we tend to take any challenge of those beliefs as a personal attack. And yes, sometimes people can be outright dicks to other people over challenging those beliefs. But that’s all it ever is, a challenge. Not a stoning, not a prison sentence, not even an inquisition.

8. Marc David Barnhill, a cool-seeming dude I hadn’t heard of until he wrote this piece, explains why he’s attending Women In Secularism 2 this May (which I also hope to attend but moneyz):

A lot has happened in the last year, some of it wonderfully inspiring and much of it dismayingly ugly. One of the things about privilege is that an ally can choose to withdraw from the struggle when burnout or shocked sensibilities request it. Not everyone has this option. It’s an option I was too easily prepared to exercise.

So thank you, guy with the sophomoric, nearly clever parody account. Thanks for a gentle reminder just when I needed it. I’ll make it work. I’m going. Not that I’m needed there, not that I’ll be directly involved or that my presence will in any significant way help anyone or even be noticed.

9. Finally, if you only read one thing from this list, read this. A commenter at Stephanie’s explained the enormous difference she made in his life and in the life of a woman he was involved with. It’s short, so I won’t spoil it. Just read it.

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.

Occasional Link Roundup

It’s been a tough week. Here, read some great things.

1. Patrick has a fantastic post about being an ally–both to female-identified feminists and to the queer community. “There is a role for male-identified people in feminism. Many hands makes light work. There’s a 500-ton stone block sitting on the neck of half of humanity. It’s our job to lift it, and if we all chip in, we can do it, even though it seems impossible from here. But what we cannot do is all direct how the lifting should be accomplished. The person whose neck it is on is the person who should be signaling the lift, calling the shots, their own voices being heard.”

2. Cliff Pervocracy on the dangers of assuming that what you see in your immediate surroundings is “normal” or “the way things should be.” “It’s easy to look around your little corner of the world, and the bits of patchy evidence you get from other places, and think that you know how the world is. It’s easy to conclude on the most threadbare evidence that you’re hideously abnormal or that the suffering you’re enduring or causing is normal.”

3. Gretchen thinks that prospective parents who know that they will disown their children for being gay or for loving someone of another race should seriously consider not having children. “If there is a ‘type’ that you would disown your adult child for being in love with, do that child and the rest of the world a favor and don’t reproduce. Because you never know.”

4. Sarah explains why Hermione from Harry Potter is awesome and compares her to a few female activists she knows–including me. :P

5. This is old–like, extremely old–but in this post John Scalzi describes what being poor is really like, and it should be required reading. “Being poor is thinking $8 an hour is a really good deal. Being poor is relying on people who don’t give a damn about you. Being poor is an overnight shift under florescent lights. Being poor is finding the letter your mom wrote to your dad, begging him for the child support. Being poor is a bathtub you have to empty into the toilet.”

6. Figleaf offers a great rebuttal to those nonsense metaphors about virginity being like unchewed gum or unwilted roses or whatever. 

7. I keep hearing arguments like “I can’t be a misogynist; I love women!” or “I can’t be a homophobe; I hate the sin but love the sinner.” Does it matter? Not really, because hate is not a prerequisite for bigotry.

8. This is not new, but it’s a great analogy for how depression and neurotransmitters work that’ll hopefully clear up some confusion about “chemical imbalances.”

9. This poly writer argues that there’s nothing wrong with helping someone who’s in a monogamous relationship cheat. It’s a compelling article, but I ultimately disagree. Yes, the problem isn’t the sex that you and this person are having; the problem is that they are deceiving their partner. However, personally, if I were propositioned by someone who would be cheating, I would feel that 1) their partner would not consider me blameless, and their feelings matter; and 2) a better thing to do would be to encourage them to either ask their partner for an open relationship or resolve whatever issues are causing them to want to cheat (even if that means leaving the partner). If you’re so inclined, read this and let me know what you think.

10. Aoife writes about being kind to ourselves as skeptics and atheists when we have those little moments in which we believe in “silly” things. “I feel that it is essential that we are as compassionate as we are honest. That compassion, if it is to be truly genuine, needs to be extended to our selves as well as to others. When I let a part of my brain feel (not believe) that my departed loved ones still somehow exist, I’m not denying reality. I still know that they are not….But allowing a little conscious cognitive dissonance into my mind is a comfort. It’s a way to let my mind bring those memories to life….A way to get back to sleep in the middle of the night.”

11. Here are two great pieces explaining the controversy surrounding the Good Men Project and their rape apologism. I’ve had a piece published there before (that’s how you know it’s not all bad! :P) but I can’t abide by this.

12. My friend Brendan writes about systemic violence and the misconceptions surrounding the Sandy Hook shooting. “When we fail to discuss the toxic aspects of our society as violent tragedies occur, we are passive. When we allow students and faculty to carry firearms into our institutions of higher learning, we are acquiescent. And when we wake up the following morning only having mourned and not discussed systemic violence, we are silent. So if anyone tells you to be silent in the face of gun violence, tell them they are wrong.”

13. Why we need to talk about gender and mass shootings. “We need to take a close look at male culture, and ask ourselves what lessons we teach young boys about what it means to be a man. We need to question the link between masculinity and power, between masculinity and dominance….Most of all, we need to address the crisis in male emotional health, and ask ourselves why crying, expressing love, fear, or hurt, are emotional outlets that are denied to most men and boys.”

14. Paul, my fellow FtB newbie, wrote this piece about going through therapy after being brutally attacked. His honesty is touching and beautiful. Thank you for sharing this, Paul.

That’s it for now. As always, please share links to stuff you’ve written recently if you’d like to!

Occasional Link Roundup

New readers: an “Occasional Link Roundup” is when I periodically link to awesome blog posts I’ve recently come across. I tried in vain to do this on a particular day of the week and/or with some sort of regularity, but failed. Now I just do it whenever the hell I want to, hence the name.

Also, you can self-promote in the comments section!

1. The TV show Grey’s Anatomy is a guilty pleasure of mine, but this blog post critiques its approach to disability and mental illness brilliantly.

2. Cassy wrote this account of being harassed on the El. Trigger warning for street harassment. “If you can read this anecdote and still not acknowledge the necessity of feminism, then you have lost the plot entirely. I can’t tell you how often I’m told by men to relax while they attempt to ensnare me, that I don’t know better than they do with regards to a woman’s place in the world, that I should take sexual harassment as a compliment rather than as a privileged affront to my gender, that I’m making a big fuss over nothing if I recoil at the greedy hands of a stranger.”

3. And in response to that, Chana discussed the only appropriate way to respond to a personal story about sexual harassment or assault, and how not to respond.

4. Why labels for sexual orientation/gender identity/relationship style can be really useful.

5. Tips for men who want to be conscious of consent. “In propositioning people, I try to be aware of the effects of rape culture. I know that if I proposition someone for something, and they’re not interested, they have to try to intuit how I’ll respond to rejection. Will I take it gracefully? Will I be an asshole? Will I become belligerent? Not knowing can be scary. What I try to do, insofar as it is possible, is to remove that ambiguity. I try to make it as obvious as I can that I can and will take no for an answer, and to make it as easy as I possibly can for someone to say no.”

6. A writer with depression responds to people who find her mental illness irritating. “I know I’m not much fun to be around right now. I may even be irritating. But making me feel bad about feeling bad isn’t going to make me feel any better.”

7. In defense of polyamory as an orientation rather than simply a lifestyle choice, which is what Dan Savage believes. “A gay man might possess the physical capability of having sexual intercourse with a woman, but what that ignores is that man might not be capable of being happy in a sexual relationship with a woman. It will probably feel on some level deeply unsatisfying, if not downright unnatural….The same is true of polyamorous relationships. I could no more be happy in a monogamous relationship than I could be in a relationship with another man; such a relationship would feel, on a basic level that seems to have nothing to do with conscious choice, deeply unnatural, constricting, and wrong to me.”

8. A definition of sexual objectification. Some of the advertisements shown here are a bit disturbing, just a warning.

9. David Futrelle writes about MRAbot2000, the most hilarious Reddit account I’ve ever seen.

10. How to be a male ally. Just brilliant.

Feel free to self-promote!