The incoherence of race and ethnicity

As I’ve mentioned many times, I hold a lead position on The Ace Community Survey. One of the things we track, is ethnicity/race. Many years of dealing with that nightmare of a section has greatly impressed upon me the complexity and ambiguity of the concepts.

One of the big complications is, we’re an international survey. Well, the survey is in English and recruits from English-speaking online communities, so it tends to be biased towards predominantly White countries and the US in particular. But you know what they say about race being a social construct? The primary consequence is that different cultures have constructed race in different ways. The secondary consequence is that even within a single country there are multiple interacting constructions of race. There’s basically no neutral way to ask about race, nor analyze the results.

So I’m going to talk about the ins and outs of race, drawing upon my experiences with our international (but US-dominated) survey.

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Social Reproduction

In my series discussing capitalism and socialism, I want to discuss another Marxist idea: the social reproduction of labor.  Basically it refers to a collection of social activities needed to maintain a labor pool.  An introductory article (suggested by Coyote) has a good description of how social reproduction occurs:

1. By activities that regenerate the worker outside the production process and allow her to return to it. These include, among a host of others, food, a bed to sleep in, but also care in psychical ways that keep a person whole.

2. By activities that maintain and regenerate non-workers outside the production process–i.e. those who are future or past workers, such as children, adults out of the workforce for whatever reason, be it old age, disability or unemployment.

3. By reproducing fresh workers, meaning childbirth.

It may be noted that social reproduction is essentially unpaid labor, and is disproportionately performed by women.  Thus, social reproduction theory draws a connection between Marxist and feminist theory.

However, I would fault the introductory article for failing to offer any good explanatory narrative.  Why is social reproduction unpaid, as compared to more “ordinary” labor being merely underpaid?  “Capitalism”, “neoliberalism”, and “sexism” don’t cut it as explanations.  So in this post, I’m going to offer a basic explanatory narrative, based on externalized costs.

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Link Roundup: June 2019

Experiencing neither romance nor spirituality – A good comparison between not experiencing romance and not experiencing spirituality.  I have often thought about this comparison myself.  When I considered myself a new atheist, I was constantly annoyed by how much atheists talk about being spiritual.  It’s fine to be spiritual, but it so overemphasized and exaggerated that it felt like a respectability politics tactic, one that failed to acknowledge or validate people who aren’t spiritual.  And it basically blocked any potential conversation about what it’s like to not experience spirituality, in a world that thinks you must.  Being asexual and aromantic spectrum has made me unapologetic about being nonspiritual.

Why books don’t work – The article argues that we don’t absorb information from nonfiction books very well, discusses why, and possible workarounds.  Nonfiction books (and lectures too) are based on a “transmissionism” model of learning: an idea is described, and you learn the idea.  But a better way to learn an idea is by actively engaging with it.  I am wondering how to apply these ideas to improve my own blogging.  Certainly when I blog about an idea, I learn a lot about it because I need to engage with it, but how do I encourage readers to also learn?

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Reject alcohol sponsorship

I cross-posted this article to The Asexual Agenda.

Recently, Budweiser UK announced its “Fly the Flag” campaign, which aims to support LGBT+ diversity by highlighting nine specific groups. For each group, they’re offering money to an associated charity, and are releasing a limited edition cup with a flag design. Based on Twitter engagement, the group that got the most attention is asexuality.

Budweiser also seems to have made further arrangements with asexual activists. They are hosting a three-day asexual event at London Pride, called “Ace of Clubs”. AVEN has described it as an open bar with additional activities. It was spearheaded by UK activist Yasmin Benoit.

There has been quite a flurry in response. Mainstream news articles have nearly uniformly expressed incredulity at asexuality and grey-asexuality–if they discuss it at all. They’re much more interested in discussing the problems with brand support for LGBT groups. In the ace community, some have responded positively, others have not. There are also many responses focused on combating negativity, especially in the Twitter thread.

I take the following viewpoint: sponsorship from alcohol companies is a special kind of bad. AVEN should refuse Budweiser’s donation, and while I’m guessing Ace of Clubs is a done deal, asexuality activists should avoid making such deals in the future.

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Origami: Six intersecting pentagonal prisms

Six intersecting pentagonal prisms

Six intersecting pentagonal prisms, designed by me.

I might be less active this month, so I thought I’d make up for it with an origami model you can dig into.  This model is called “Six Intersecting Pentagonal Prisms” because it’s literally made from six pentagonal prisms.  I’ve got some photos below the fold showing the step by step addition of each pentagonal prism.

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