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!


Occasional Link Roundup

One of these again!

1. Cassy has written this amazing guide for partners of sexual assault survivors. Even if you’re not one (that you know of), you should read it. Unfortunately, as prevalent as sexual assault is among all genders, you never really know when this advice will come in useful.

2. My friend Sarah on how to talk to people with chronic illnesses (including, but not limited to, mental illnesses). Apparently I’m in an advice-y mood today.

3. Think atheists “shove” atheism “down people’s throats”? Read this.

4. On depressive thoughts, and how they’re a “mind trick.” “Something to remember: when your brain invents stories of things to feel bad about and tells you they’re the cause of the bad feelings, the truth is often that the bad feelings are the cause of the stories.”

5. Another one of those really touching posts about depression.

6. A sex-positive defense of porn.

7. Cliff Pervocracy wrote this great advice column on how to deal with people who act like you owe it to them to make yourself look pretty.

8. Natalie Reed on how cisgender feminists can help include trans* people and perspectives in feminism. But, as usual with her pieces, it’s about so much more than that.

9. Andrew had some very relevant criticism of Skepticon, and there’s a great response from one of the organizers in the comments.

10. Dr. Nerdlove debunks some tired myths about women and casual sex. “In other words: in a culture of slut-shaming, blaming rape victims for their own assault, increasing restrictions on contraception and abortion, a man has to be pretty impressive to make it worth a woman’s time for a fling.”

11. On emotions and their supposed “irrationality.” “What many people who dismiss emotions fail to recognize is that emotions are an extremely important source of information, and are often a way to analyze information very quickly in order to motivate necessary action. In this way, emotions are actually very rational much of the time. Sometimes they come to the wrong conclusion, and sometimes their logic fails, but at root they operate in a logical way: they take an input, analyze how it affects us, and react to protect us.”

Feel free to link to your own writing in the comments section!

Occasional Link Roundup

1. Free speech is not freedom from responsibility.

2. Kate writes about dancing and eating disorders (TW).

3. Sexual assault prevention tips that actually work! Oldie but goodie.

4. On Reddit admins’ choice to condone racism: “Free speech is about not being prosecuted by your government for expressing your views. A private company is not obliged to give platforms to racists in the name of free speech. If a private company willingly gives a platform to racists, then they should be prepared to have their reputation suffer accordingly.”

5. On being a survivor of sexual assault in the skeptical/atheist movement, and dealing with the constant demands to “prove” that you were “really” assaulted.

6. A blogger writes a letter to zir teenage self called, “Dear Teenage Self: You Have Depression.” It resonated with me a lot.

7. On the ludicrous notion that being trans* is “selfish” or “vain.

8. An explanation of Schrodinger’s Rapist, for those who still don’t get it.

9. The meaning of suffering is to fix it. “The fact of the matter is, debating why evil exists in the world of an all good, all powerful creator being makes for interesting philosophy, but does nothing to actually help those people that are the victims of evil.”

10. This one’s mine! My post on making fun of male rape victims was republished on the Good Men Project.

Feel free to promote your own stuff in the comments!

Occasional Link Roundup

I’ve finally been reading again! So here you go.

1. My friend Michael on why evangelical Christianity fails to appeal to him: “I do not feel broken. I do not feel particularly sinful. I do not feel lost. Your savior is of no use to me, because I do not need to be saved. Your meditative “self-actualization” is of no use to me, because I know who I am.”

2. Clarissa explains why trying to psychoanalyze politicians is a waste of time. (Also, for all you armchair psychologists–it’s impossible to diagnose someone you haven’t met and spoken to.)

3. On the terminology of pro-life and pro-choice movements, and why both words are actually inaccurate.

4. People who clearly don’t understand disability are concerned that people fake needing a wheelchair to get through airport security faster. Best comment: “I’d seriously much rather have someone cut in line than have someone who’s in pain be denied a wheelchair, charged extra for it, or assumed to be cheating.”

5. Why you should vote no on Minnesota’s Same-Sex Marriage Amendment (if you live in Minnesota, that is). I’m proud to know the person who wrote this: “Vote no, because there’s no such thing as gay marriage. There is only a legal covenant of care between consenting adults, who may or may not be together forever, who may or may not have children (which may or may not be related to them), who may or may not be of the same gender, and who may or may not be of the same sex.”

6. Two fascinating recent pieces on Role/Reboot drew some very interesting analogies. One was between the narrative of men as “weak” and that of Muslims as “weak.” The other was between letting boys ignore girls’ boundaries when they’re little and letting men ignore women’s boundaries when they’re older. Of course, Analogies Are Imperfect™, but the articles are fascinating.

7. Lisa Wade on what’s wrong with hookup culture. Hint: it’s not the fact that women are having casual sex; it’s the fact that sexism permeates it (as it does everything else in our society, of course).

8. On boundaries in relationships, and how they can be emotional, not just physical.

9. Bridget Gaudette on how having sex and enjoying it led her to abandon religion. Fascinating.

10. Atheism that concerns itself with social justice is great. End of story.

11. And, finally, a beautiful piece on overcoming social anxiety.

Occasional Link Roundup

Oh look, one of these!

1. Reasons why victim-blaming via “safety patrol” is silly and wrong. My favorite is the first one: “Real life is not a horror movie where it’s permissible yell at the screen ‘DON’T GO DOWN INTO THE BASEMENT, YOU STUPID BITCH! THE BAD GUY IS DOWN THERE! FUCK! FUUUUUUCK!'”

2. On the three purposes universities are expected to serve, and how one of those is starting to take over–to the detriment of the university system as a whole.

3. My friend Kate wrote this post (and this follow-up) about how to be a good friend to someone with a mental illness. I might be biased because I contributed, but still, lots of great advice here.

4. Rush Limbaugh discusses a study showing that men’s penises have decreased slightly in size over the past fifty years, and, naturally, blames Evil Feminism. Because, you know, the factors cited by the researchers themselves–weight gain, smoking, pollution, etc.–couldn’t possibly have contributed.

5. A hilarious analysis of a conservative columnist’s pathetic attempts to shame people who have sex before marriage and who–get this–choose to consume alcohol at their weddings. Oh heavens no.

6. On cats and MRAs. This is worth it, believe me.

7. Is having an “atheists-only” policy for dating discriminatory? Nope! Personally, I’m open to dating progressive religious folks, but I find that I have so much more in common with atheists.

8. Captain Awkward’s sad and brilliant post about harassment on public transportation.

9. Why women don’t always say “no.” Some of us are used to that “no” being ignored, anyway.

10. Slate has been promoting the crap out of its own editor Hanna Rosin’s (supposedly crappy) new book, The End of Men, publishing seven non-critical pieces about it in six days. Goodbye, journalistic ethics.

11. On the charge that atheists are actually just as “extreme” as fundamentalist religious folks. Nah.

That’s it for now. Feel free to promote your own stuff!

Occasional Link Roundup

This is my occasional link roundup, in which I occasionally post links to things I like. Feel free to link to something you’ve written recently in the comments!

1. Ever wondered what the manic phase of bipolar disorder feels like? Read this.

2. Attachment parenting might be harmful to mothers’ mental health. It always gave me a weird feeling. “What is especially sad is that self-evident things like ‘mothers are human beings,’ ‘having a life outside of child-rearing is necessary for maternal well-being,’ ‘there is nothing that makes a mother a more capable parent than a father’ still need to be proven by research.”

3. So, a bunch of crap went down in the atheist blogosphere this past week–or at least, in my corner of it. A lot of people seem to disagree that a concern for social justice has any place within atheism. My friend Andrew has this take on it, and another atheist blogger, Zach, wrote this: “I want a new atheist movement that actually cares about people. An atheist movement that will look at the way religion poisons our views on gender, race, or sexuality and actively tries to combat that. I want an atheist movement that will reach out help other people, regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, ability, education, wealth, visibility, or even religion.”

4. And speaking of the atheist movement, here’s an example of racism within it.

5. A great post about misconceptions about demisexuality. I’ve wanted to write about this for a while, but it seems like few things bring out nasty comments quite like this subject does.

6. An analysis of the media’s portrayal of Jennifer Aniston as perpetually pitiful. Never really thought about this before, but it’s fascinating.

7. A takedown of one man’s sexist blog post, in which he obsesses about an Australian Olympic athlete because she’s so “sweet” and “feminine”–you know, unlike the rest of us bitches. I’m not linking to the original piece because I don’t want to give him pageviews, but this post quotes heavily.

8. What anti-feminists don’t understand. “Then one day, women stopped telling men what they wanted to hear. They asked what they were without us – or, at least, without our definitions. Men never stopped to ask the same thing, and when they sort-of did, they returned too readily to rhetoric of supremacy and strength. Anti-feminists are so caught up in being the victim that they never consider positive identity formation to be a goal, or even a possibility.”

9. And, on a similar note, what people who call themselves “equalists” don’t understand. “As for the “equalists”, if they truly wanted to take a neutral stance on the gender roles, they could start by not always attacking feminists – while, at the same time, rushing towards the defence of the men’s rights movement.”

10. Kids who sleep later do better in school, but schools don’t seem to be interested in addressing this.

11. Mara Glatzel, a blogger I admire, on why she writes.

12. Why it matters that we now have our first out pansexual politician.

13. A really touching post about sexual assault, friendship, and recovery. TW.

14. And on a similar note, post of the week goes to my friend Cassy, who wrote this heartbreaking four-part narrative about her experiences with sexual assault, abuse, mental illness, and recovery. Huge trigger warning on this, so please watch out. But if you can, read it.


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Occasional Link Roundup

So, I think that at this point I can officially stop pretending that I do my link roundups on Sundays, or that I do them weekly. So this will now be rebranded the Occasional Link Roundup(tm) and I will do it whenever the hell I please.

Also, feel free to self-promote in the comments!

Here we go!

1. Why you should talk about going to therapy. I love this post so much. “If you broke your leg, you’d go to an orthopedist to get it put into a cast. If you needed a root canal, you’d see a dentist. So why if your brain is not doing what it’s supposed to are you chastised for seeking professional help? And for casually talking about doing so?”

2. A female Olympic weightlifter responds to men who bash her appearance and her choice of sport. “[W]e don’t lift weights in order to look hot, especially for the likes of men like that. What makes them think that we even WANT them to find us attractive? If you do, thanks very much, we’re flattered. But if you don’t, why do you really need to voice this opinion in the first place, and what makes you think we actually give a toss that you, personally, do not find us attractive?”

3. Tumblr, a blogging platform that I otherwise really like, has allegedly been ignoring instances of racial hate speech–but not other kinds.

4. You know those terrible man-hating quotes that feminists are always purported to have said? Well, many of them are completely fake.

5. On threats against women online, and why they’re misogynistic.

6. Why “tolerance” doesn’t have to mean tolerating hate and bigotry. “‘Toleration’ is not a principle of universal acceptance of all thought and conduct, but rather a restriction on which thought and conduct will be accepted in any given sphere of debate, whether it be in the public forum of the United States or in the high school classroom….Toleration is merely the principle that, in civilized discourse, neither speakers nor states can silence, disregard, or punish speakers based on arbitrary criteria or life circumstances.

7. Advice for people who don’t drink. I do drink, actually, but little enough compared to most college students that this still applies to me very well.

8. An analysis of a pro-skinniness forum’s attacks on model Kate Upton. Incidentally, this forum links to this blog, because someone posted a link to it there. I hope they stick around, by the way. Maybe they’ll learn something about not letting your weight and appearance dictate your sense of self-worth.

9. A great post about how people come to social justice blogs just to rant about how offensive and terrible they find our ideas. Why not just move along?

10. This is my favorite: how a middle-aged white guy became a feminist.

11. No, just kidding, this is my favorite. Calling someone a bigot does not make you a bigot.

Sunday Link Roundup

I haven’t been doing much reading lately because I’ve had no internet in my apartment. But it’s back! And so’s my weekly link roundup.

1. Clarisse Thorn writes about an example of rape in the pickup artist community. Pretty harrowing.

2. Turns out Amelia Earhart had an open marriage! Here’s a letter she wrote to her husband, George Putnam, about it.

3. Of course some idiot has to blame the Aurora shootings on the fact that Americans should “place a higher value on God.”

4. Zinnia Jones, on people who claim to support gay rights but insist on eating at Chick-Fil-A anyway. (I also wrote about this a little while ago.)

5. Natalie Reed wrote this lengthy (but worthwhile) post on trigger warnings. I haven’t used one on this blog until my most recent post, but I may reconsider.

6. On labels. This blog is about demisexuality specifically, but the points this post makes apply to any “nonstandard” label that someone may choose to describe themselves with.

7. How to learn not to be a racist. Required reading, this.

8. You don’t have to understand someone and their experience in order to be respectful. It’s similar to this piece that I wrote a while back, but takes a slightly different angle.

Sunday Link Roundup

Hey people! Once again I’m pretending that it is still, in fact, Sunday. (Maybe I should just change this to the “Monday Link Roundup”…)

1. “Times When I Feel Jewish.” This is the story of my life.

2. On anti-science and why it fails.This article especially makes a brilliant critique of liberals who claim that science is “Western” and therefore “oppressive.”

3. My friend Kate takes down that ridiculous book The Secret that was all the rage a few years back. No, just because you wish really really hard for something to happen does not mean that it will. How was this ever a bestseller?

4. On things no one will ever say to a man. “Men will never be asked the question, “Can you have it all?” because it’s implied that they already do. Their penis entitles them to the life cake and eating it too. They have a monopoly on “All.”  They invented “All.””

5. I must confess I did not have the energy to read all the responses to the by-now-infamous Atlantic “Can Women Have it All” piece, but here’s the one I did read. It’s about federally mandated paid maternity leave, and how women in 178 countries–but not the United States–have it.

6. On how our political discourse promotes fear-mongering.

7. On the stereotype of Asians as the “model minority” and why it’s wrong despite being “positive.”

8. Most people involved in social justice are familiar with what’s known as the “tone argument.” Here’s an interesting and nuanced view of it.

9. How fashion “rules” encourage hiding bodies that fall outside of our standards for beauty.

10. On Alice Walker’s refusal to publish her book about racism in Israel because of Israeli “apartheid.” “If Walker were really interested in battling the alleged racist tendencies among the Israelis, one would think that she’d want her anti-racist book to become as widely known among the people of Israel as possible. I have to wonder how barring access to an anti-racist piece of fiction is supposed to stop people from racist practices.”

11. And, finally, the best webcomic about depression you will ever read.

And the Crap Post of the Week Award goes to this gem from College Candy. (Really, Psychology Today and College Candy) should probably be off-limits for this award since that makes it too easy.) The writer has been taking advice from her friends about dating and one of them told her a little-known Rule: you can only text a guy once for every two texts he sends you, and call him once for every three times he calls you.

She writes, “Correct me if I’m wrong (which I know you guys will!), but the air of mystery disappears if I’m doing all of the texting and calling, right? He’s not worried about what I’m doing or how my day went or if he’s on my mind, because I’m basically telling him.”

Naturally, it didn’t work. Despite all the fairly sexist babble about men being “clueless” and “oblivious,” trust me, they can tell girls who play these inane games and follow “Rules” apart from those who don’t, and they stay away.

Also, as a side note, unless your friend is Marilyn Monroe, I’d take her dating advice with a grain of salt. This includes me, folks.

Have a lovely week!