‘Bout time the dictionary caught up

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who had already won many of our hearts by being the first publicly atheist leader of a major English-speaking nation, really proved her mettle among those on our side of the Great Rift last week-ish when she delivered this speech in Parliament, seizing on Opposition leader Tony Abbott’s hypocritical attempts to paint HER as a misogynist.

(old link, which is region-locked: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfo3SGIiSE0 )

But then, because she’s a damned important public figure using the word “misogyny” the way it is commonly understood by feminists for at least thirty years, e.g. to mean “conscious or unconscious systematic biases or bigotries against women” rather than “tooth-gnashing caricatures of Yosemite Sam screaming ‘Ah hate those wimminz!’”, the public discussion has had an interesting side-effect. Since this discussion largely centred around the meaning of the word, and since the antifeminist quarters’ main defense against the charge is dumbfounded astonishment that anyone would ever mistake them for someone with a “hatred” of women, this has led to something practically unheard-of in recent times: a dictionary stepping in to settle the argument.

In our favour.

Pardon me if I crow a bit.
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Another girl that committed suicide is posthumously bullied for teh lulz

Another fifteen year old girl named Amanda — this time not Todd, but Cummings — killed herself after bullying, depression and a bad break-up. And people claiming to be from 4chan and 9gag (the most odious among 4chan’s numbers often use them as a scapegoat) are, again, swarming to make her family’s life post-suicide miserable, according to Jezebel.

According to the Staten Island Advance, Amanda was bullied in life as well as in death. Her parents say that her classmates and peers taunted her, and that she’d recently broken up with her boyfriend before she stepped in the path of a city bus. She spent 6 days after that in a hospital before succumbing to her injuries.

From every possible angle you look at it, that story is a rainbow of awful— for the girl who felt driven to suicide, for her family and loved ones, and for a community in general. Hell, I’m sure the driver of the bus feels like shit as well. For 4chan, though, this was the perfect opportunity to unite around the common cause of digitally harassing Amanda’s surviving family.

I don’t even understand how this is funny. Sure, maybe losing yourself into a mob mentality is fun — I don’t know, I’ve never tried it, though I’ve certainly seen a lot of self-righteousness amongst the folks who witch-hunt and swarm FtBloggers just for being FtBloggers, never mind for actually holding people to account for their actions. But how much reprogramming do you have to endure before you consider it fun, noble, laudable, and hilarious, to hurt someone’s family? How much reprogramming before empathy for grieving relatives is completely subsumed by the pursuit for your personal lulz? Why can’t you do something productive, like making fun of the real monsters who gain political power to ruin your lives, or people who bully children until they kill themselves?

I know some among you within the loose-knit group Anonymous have done exactly this, attacking oppressive political regimes, hunting down people who abuse small animals, even trying to find Amanda Todd’s bullies and “dox” them. So I know you’re not a uniform collective of shitheels. But it boggles me that there are so many shitheels among you. How — and WHY — did intentionally breaking your sense of empathy, the only thing that makes us truly human, become so commonplace? And why is it so uniformly young kids with every privilege for whom this intentional empathy-dectomy is such sport?

Mock The Movie: Rabid Grannies transcript

Sick wife, work still ridiculous, almost completely out of resources again. Ow. Transcript below the fold. Will edit in the subtitle files after I get some rest.

Movie was exactly what I’ve come to expect from Troma. Not completely horrible — too self-mocking to classify as horrible. Lots of senseless deaths and hammy acting and cheesy effects. Lots of self-awareness. Made it rather difficult to mock, in fact. The self-mocking ones are like that.
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Some pinkification I can live with… for now

A while back, someone on Twitter pointed me to this GoldieBlox Kickstarter project, excited that finally, someone was doing something to get young girls interested in engineering. In amongst the glut of male-targeted building toys like K’nex and Erector Sets and LEGO, there’s hardly any such thing for girls. None of these toys are inherently boy-oriented (so long as you omit the obvious pun), but all of them are always always ALWAYS advertised for boys with special playsets to build things that boys are enculturated to like, like cars and helicopters and space ships.

There’s often a girls version that is pink, because girls simply aren’t picking up those “boys’ toys”. This offering involves princesses and ponies and none of the things boys “like”. Look at K’nex’ Tinkertoy offering for girls, with its uniquely colored blocks and princess figurines. Or LEGO’s foray which makes the minifigs “pretty” and all the blocks pastel and designed so you can make a French cafe.

These attempts at girlifying this class of toys — let’s call them engineering toys — are often quite maddening in the face of this culture, that has since the turn of the last century wholly entrenched rigid gender roles from the Victorian era. In this culture, where once we looked like we were actually coming out of the woods when LEGO produced ads for their unisex product that were absolutely wonderful and starred little girls as often as little boys, all doing the same things — but have evidently since backslid to an enormous degree. In this culture, where even three year olds can grok the transparent gendered marketing.

So I can totally see why some might lash out at yet another example of pinkification to try to get girls interested in engineering.

But in the case of GoldieBlox, I can live with it.
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Cyber-bullying kills again

Amanda Todd, a thirteen-year-old girl in Maple Ridge, BC, was flattered and cajoled and coerced into flashing someone while playing around with friends on webcam. Someone took a screenshot — apparently they didn’t vet who was on that webcam chat very well. But they were young, and stupid, and there’s a damn good reason the age of consent is as high as it is in most places — because children don’t always have the maturity or intellect to provide informed consent.

A year later, Amanda received a message from someone on Facebook that she didn’t know, who demanded a private show or they’d send the picture to everyone she knew. They knew a good deal about her life — her parents’ names, her friends, her school. She ignored or rebuffed the blackmail demand. That Christmas, police came to her house at 4am to inform them that the picture existed and was spread around to a large number of people — very likely everyone at her school. Someone among the recipients must have had a conscience and reported the incident to the police.

Amanda became depressed and developed anxiety problems. All her friends started treating her horribly; she was left with nobody to lean on. She started self-harming. She moved to another city to escape the embarassment, and dabbled in drugs and alcohol. She became involved with a boy; the boy turns out to have had a girlfriend, who threw her to the ground and punched her repeatedly while other kids filmed it. They posted the video on Facebook, and declared that nobody liked Amanda and they hoped she saw their taunting and committed suicide.
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Install the OpenDyslexia font and tell us how it works for you

I’m interested in doing a little science experiment. I’ve read that a commercial font designed by a dyslexic university student apparently didn’t help reading speed, but does help with certain classes of reading errors. Readers of any Freethought Blogs would certainly classify as folks who read a lot on the internet (yeah, yeah, get the “because you talk too much” jokes out of the way now). So, if there are any dyslexics among our readership — and I’m sure there are — I’d like to collect your anecdata on how a similar, open-sourced (read: free) font helps or hinders your reading.

Font demo of OpenDyslexic

A demo of the font provides a good example, in case you’re skeptical about how well this will work in practice. You can download the font for free from this page, because as an open-source project, it is community-driven rather than profit-oriented. Made by dyslexic users, for dyslexic users.

So, if you are dyslexic, and you’d like to participate in giving this font a trial run, I’d love to hear your stories — success or otherwise. FtBloggers primarily generate text, as opposed to other media, and many if not most of our bloggers are interested in accessibility (by extension of being interested in how privilege intersects with our various struggles). So I’d like to know, from people who might benefit from this, if it’s worth my campaigning to get a custom theme based on this font for FtB. The fact that the studies of the commercial offerings are less than ironclad makes me wonder if it’s worth our time.

Mock The Movie: Rabid Grannies

Holy crap, I almost missed that today’s Mock The Movie day. In two hours, we will hunker down, stock up on tea and liniment and bundt cake and hope to weather the impending Zombie Granny Invasion.

This Thursday, October 11, we will be picking up a Belgian gem that will deliver what so many of our movies only promise: The cartoonishly graphic slaughter of despicable people. Seriously, we’re told no one survives the Rabid Grannies. Watch with us on YouTube.

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The context that fails to justify “some girls rape easy”

Trigger warning for rape culture justification, gaslighting, and bitches be lyin’.

Paul Ryan has really picked a winner to back in Wisconsin, where State Rep Roger Rivard (R, natch) has been strongly criticized for having claimed that his father told him that “some girls rape easy” — a stern warning from father to son that women who get pregnant after premarital sex will turn around and claim to be raped. He was upset that he was taken out of context, so he provided more context to make it all better.

On Wednesday, Rivard told the Journal Sentinel the article did not provide full context of his comments and that his father’s exact words had been slightly different from how they appeared in the Chetek Alert.

He told the Journal Sentinel that his father had advised him not to have premarital sex, and he took that seriously.

“He also told me one thing, ‘If you do (have premarital sex), just remember, consensual sex can turn into rape in an awful hurry,’ ” Rivard said. “Because all of a sudden a young lady gets pregnant and the parents are madder than a wet hen and she’s not going to say, ‘Oh, yeah, I was part of the program.’ All that she has to say or the parents have to say is it was rape because she’s underage. And he just said, ‘Remember, Roger, if you go down that road, some girls,’ he said, ‘they rape so easy.’

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