What a Witch Hunt Looks Like

We were talking about witch hunts in the comments to my recent post on lynching and the use of the language of lynching. I said that it’s important that witch hunts threaten more than one’s reputation and that witch hunters use evidence or tests that are not logically connected to the supposed conclusion of witchcraft (among other criteria). To illustrate what we’re actually talking about, I thought we should not stay abstract about witch hunts any more than we were abstract about lynching: and if you haven’t read that post, it’s not abstract at all. That post cannot be more disturbing because of All The Racism, and this one is potentially less disturbing only because of the lack of pictures.

That said, in a world that includes witch hunting, it is important to discuss it honestly, to understand what a witch hunt actually does, what witch hunters actually do. It is every bit as important to understand witch hunting as it is to understand lynching. So, if you’re ready, I give you two short illustrations of witch hunting from the perspective of a victim and from the perspective of a perpetrator.

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Where Are You From?

They say the US is a nation of immigrants, but I find the number of people born outside Canada who currently live in Canada and who make their way into my social circle to be much higher than the persons born outside the US who made it into my social circle while I was in the US. It’s anecdotal, of course, but “Where are you from?” seems to be somewhat less stigmatizing, somewhat less othering than in the US.

Not that it’s not stigmatizing. Not that it’s not othering. Just… 21% less. Like the Canadian dollar, eh?

On the other hand, because so many people are immigrants, the question seems to get asked even more up here. So I wonder if this cartoon from the Nib illustrates a problem that is less hurtful overall. I’m not sure it’s even answerable, but if anyone can stop the racist villains who persistently other the people I like and love and just kinda know, it’s for damn sure the Yellow Power Ranger. Don’t believe me? Then take it from Shing Yin Khor:


Go read the rest of Shing Yin Khor’s cartoon at the Nib. It’s sooooo worth it.

Hold My Beer: Sean Spicer Edition

Best Twitter response to racist, ignorant Sean Spicer’s callousness and othering?

The close-to-perfect tweet by Joe Walsh @WalshFreedom gets us nearly there:

@pepsi and @united: There’s no way anyone could have a worse PR nightmare than what we had.

Sean Spicer: Hold up. I got this.

But it could have been note-perfect if only it had ended

Sean Spicer: Hold my beer.

Oh, but wait!

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On the Corner: Postscript to a Beginning

Taking nothing away from the importance of the post on the birth of intersectionality, it was both a bit long, and it was focussed more on what Kimberlé Crenshaw thought than my thinking about her thoughts. There are some nuggets that I think are important, things that we will need to remember as we continue to explore Intersectionality. But I think they are best placed in this separate PostScript:

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Keep It Up, Assholes


Just a shout out to Jessica Valenti for this wonderful (though three years old) response to Twits:

To People on Twitter calling me a whore:

Being called a ‘slut’ as a young person is part of the reason I became an activist. So keep it up, assholes: every time you call a girl a whore, a feminist gets her wings.

Of course, that only happens if a wing producing-allele is present in a girl’s local population, so let’s keep spreading feathery, free-flying thoughts, shall we?



Modeling Gender & Sex Without a False Middle

There have been many attempts to create a model that simplifies gender, sex, and sexuality enough to easily communicate important concepts without either simplifying it so much that the concepts are lost altogether. Now that we know something about social models, let’s look at a model I shared some time back on Pharyngula’s (now obsolete) Thunderdome.

The model came up in response to the suggestion of the Genderbread Person as a teaching model. As I noted then in other words, the metaphor is not the concept, so all models will fail to communicate some aspects important to a concept. The question is whether there is a better metaphor available. As a teacher or someone attempting to articulate a concept, the responsibility is still on you to know the limits of the metaphor and be able to address questions, ambiguities, and extensions. If you aren’t aware of a metaphor’s limits and able to address them longhand, using any model is risky. If you are, any model is adequate, but the models that minimize those longhand conversations are better than ones that only somewhat reduce them.

It’s with this in mind that (many years ago) I abandoned the Genderbread Person and adopted a different model, one that permits a shorthand visual model to combat multiple myths at the same time.

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