Link roundup: September 2017

I used to call this monthly feature a “linkspam”, but after some consideration I am now calling it a link roundup.  But whatever, it’s the same thing.

How an Ad Campaign Made Lesbians Fall in Love with Subaru – This is a very interesting article discussing one of the first ever queer-targeted ad campaigns.  What surprised me the most is that Subaru used subtle gay-coding that straight audiences usually missed, but this was not because they wanted to hide their intentions.  Subaru was open about it, and it was widely discussed in major newspapers.  Rather, they used coded messages because market research said that lesbian audiences liked it better that way.  Of course, I’m not sure that market research would extend to today.

Is there a “Gay Agenda” in Hip Hop? (video) – Music critic Anthony Fantano answers a question from a fan. I did not know this was a serious question that people asked. Apparently some of the barriers in hip hop have been breaking down, allowing more space for openly gay and bisexual rappers. This seems significant, especially given that hip-hop/R&B is the most consumed genre of music in the US.  Of course, it doesn’t constitute a “gay agenda” in hip hop.

BTW, I don’t really listen to hip hop, but if any of you do, here’s an example song, enjoy.  (content note: video depicts blood, lyrics talk about suicide and other violence.)

Damsels in Distress vs Distressed Dudes in Jin Yong stories (also see part 2) – Sara discusses the analogue of the distressed damsel trope in the Chinese genre of Wuxia.  It seems that when male characters rescue damsels in distress, the male characters are usually regarded with suspicion.  When female characters rescue distressed dudes, the female characters tend to get fridged afterwards in order to provide motivation for the male characters.  It’s still kind of sexist but it’s a different variety of sexism from western fiction.

An expert on Antifa explains the group – Regardless of how you feel about Antifa or black bloc protestors, this is a plain informative interview, explaining some of their perspectives.  Thanks to commenter Pierce R. Butler for pointing it out.

Keep Cutting – Sunk Cost Fallacy and Game Development (video) – Even if you don’t have any interest in video games, I have to say this is the best explanation of sunk cost that I’ve ever seen.

Being Labeled A ‘Bad Survivor’ Showed Me That Callout Culture Needs To Change – Found via Shiv.  The article starts with an anecdote about someone who sought to criticize someone who had sexually assaulted them.  Someone else in their community took that and turned it into concrete calls for violence against the perpetrator, and called the author a “bad survivor” for not supporting them.  The article draws a connection to callout culture, although I mostly think of this as a problem specific to sexual violence.  People have a really hard time understanding that victims/survivors do not always want harsh punishments for their perpetrators, and that calls for harsh punishments actually scare us off from telling anyone.  All I really wanted for my perpetrator is for someone who is not me to take him aside and explain to him how he hurt people.

Social constructionism in sex – Shiv explains how even if sex is bimodally distributed, drawing a dichotomy is still a social construction.

That reminds me of a rant I have about how electrons are actually socially constructed, and there isn’t a meaningful sense in which they have distinct identities.  I think only the physicists in the audience would get it though.

Polyamory 201: “Monogamous for the right person” – So, I’m linking this because I completely disagree with Miri–for once.  My very limited experience with polyamory was with someone who basically said he’d be monogamous for the right person.  And I agree that this attitude doesn’t seem to lend itself to a healthy committed relationship.  But we weren’t in a committed relationship, so what’s the problem?  It would not have bothered me if he cut it off to be monogamous with someone else, and it didn’t bother him when I cut it off to be monogamous with someone else.

Miri says about this, “That’s not polyamory. That’s casual dating.”  I completely disagree.  This is a false dichotomy between committed relationships and dating.  There has been plenty of discussion of relationships that do not uphold commitment as the highest ideal (e.g.).


  1. says

    I have a fair bit of experience with polyamory (I was in the Kerista commune for a couple of years). I read the article, and I think Miri’s point is more subtle. I agree with her take on the specific context (the “poly” guy with two girlfriends who’s willing to be monogamous for the right person), where something goes thud instead of ding to my ear as well as hers.

    I don’t think Miri is drawing a sharp dichotomy between committed relationships and dating. Indeed, I don’t know what she thinks about that, because she’s not really specific. I think there’s definitely a spectrum, and it is a spectrum with extremes.

    Generally speaking, poly people invented the poly* terms to talk about relationships with more than one person toward the more committed end of the spectrum, rejecting the social norm that commitment or “seriousness” is strongly correlated with monogamy, i.e. if you’re not monogamous, you cannot be serious or committed. Casual dating with more than one person was already a more-or-less accepted social norm, so poly people didn’t see any need for differentiation there. (I’ve been out of contact with poly people for a while, so things may have changed since then.)

    Miri draws a specific distinction between “monogamous for the right person” and people (such as myself) who do not have a strong preference between monogamy and polyamory. She (and the original advice givers, and I) detect not a lack of preference but a fishy-smelling power game. We might of course be mistaken, but we are drawing a different distinction, I think (I’m certain about only myself), than a commitment-casual dichotomy.

  2. says

    I think where I’m disagreeing with Miri isn’t her main point, but a tangential point. I agree that in the examples she described, it sounds like “monogamous for the right person” was an inappropriate sort of power game. The part where I disagreed is where apparently she could not think of any examples where it would not be a power game.

    I agree that the invention of poly terms was motivated by the rejection of certain norms, including the association of commitment with monogamy. But poly terms have been around for a while, so it stands to reason that other people using them are motivated by different things. The article I linked comes from an aromantic spectrum perspective, and is part of a tradition of trying to break down the constituent parts of a relationship, because people aren’t sure if they even want all of those constituent parts. One of the norms that gets called into question is the association of commitment with “seriousness”. For example, if you have a relationship that involves a lot of intimacy, time investment, and priority, that sure is a thing even if it involves limited amount of commitment.

  3. says

    The part where I disagreed is where apparently she could not think of any examples where it would not be a power game.

    I’m not sure I agree. She’s referring not to just “monogamy for the right person” which is fine, but to “I’m poly, but I would be monogamous for the right person.” I think that’s straight up bullshit. The norms are just too different to say that. The poly norm is (well, was, back in the day) that saying, “I’m poly,” meant that my other relationships would not (or were at least very unlikely to; shit happens, rama rama) affect my relationship with you. “But I would be monogamous for the right person,” contradicts that norm. Both norms are fine by themselves, but the juxtaposition seems too contradictory to be sincere.

    One of the norms that gets called into question is the association of commitment with “seriousness”.

    I concur, but “commitment” is a pretty vague term on its own. It can stand in 1-1 for seriousness, or it can mean something more specific. For example, in Kerista, the commitment was specifically a declaration of “a current intention of lifetime involvement.”

    I can definitely differentiate that idea as applied to my students for example. My relationships with them are serious, i.e. they have a high degree of at least time investment and priority (and possibly a degree of intellectual intimacy), but any commitment in the Keristan sense definitely runs out at the end of the semester.

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