Mexico! 🎉

(via e-mail breaking news alert):

Mexico decriminalizes abortion, a dramatic step in the world’s second-biggest Catholic country

The [Mexican] Supreme Court’s decision makes Mexico the most populous country in Latin America to permit the procedure. The ruling comes as Texas, just across the border, tightens restrictions. The decision reflects activism by a powerful feminist movement, as well as concern about women dying or suffering harm from illegal abortions.

Read more [@ WaPo]

While this Republicans (politicians and citizens alike) become more like the Taliban every day, a “powerful feminist movement” in Mexico has succeeded in moving the needle in the opposite direction. And they did so by centering those who are dying and being maimed by illegal abortions – a terrible price to pay for the living to obtain the basic human right to bodily autonomy.

But it’s just not “civil” to discuss such ugliness in polite society! We simply must keep the discourse around abortion rights calm, reasoned and as removed from reality as possible, as we sit around discussing abstract concepts like “choice” over tea. Because that’s really been working so well for us! [/snark]

Wasn’t I just ranting about this very thing on Sunday? Why, yes! Yes I was!

And I said:

The only thing “civil” attempts at persuasion accomplish is allowing sadistic misogynists to continue pretending that picture [of Geraldine Santoro taken in 1964 by police who found her dead after a botched attempt at self-aborting] does not capture exactly what they are doing.

I wonder how many (more) unnecessary deaths and senseless maimings it will take for U.S. Republicans to reverse course? It seems we will also need a powerful feminist movement. More powerful, even, than the Catholic Church in Mexico.

Anybody got one of those lying around?

Sunday funnies.

 

Top: photo of GOP activist Deanna Lorraine, with quote beneath "God Does Not Want Us Wearing Masks... If you have a mask on, it means you actually don't trust God. You don't have faith." Beneath, a cleseup photo of the face of Patrick Stewart/"Captain Picard" squinting with confusion, with overlaid large block letter text, "BUT YOU'RE THE SAME PEOPLE WHO NEED A RIFLE TO PICK UP GROCERIES"

Ya gotta laugh. Or, you know, cry. Either way, there is something very, very wrong and/or hilarious about the conservative mind.

 

Reddit post by u/henke: "Last week one of my art teachers suggested I 'dial down the feminism.' Today I showed him my newest piece: (image of a stainless steel panel labeled Dial Down the Feminism' with a single round tuning knob. To the left it reads 'COMPLICIT IN MY OWN DEHUMANIZATION' and to the right it reads "RAGING FEMINISM."

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

-Iris Vander Pluym, Art Critic.

__________

Tweet by @amy_istrying: "I'm disgusted every time someone does a gender reveal and it's a gender I already know about, what kind of reveal is that"

❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

EXACTLY, Amy. I’m pretty sure that people who do gender reveals are conservative, at least with respect to sex role stereotypes. And those kinds of ideas never seem to travel alone. In other words: eew!

I think if I’d ever had a kid, I might have done a gender reveal just to fuck with the conservatives in my family. I’d make a multi-layer red velvet cake, with each layer consisting of a few different colors of batter roughly swirled together, just like I did for my sister’s birthday that one time. (If I can find a pic I’ll post it later.)

When I’d cut into it, every slice would have a rainbow of colors in it, at which point I’d announce “It’s a gender! Or maybe agender! Who the fuck cares and what the fuck is wrong with you people?”

[CUE: music, disco lighting and ecologically-friendly rainbow confetti.

FtB Mothers Day Anthology: Mothers and Mom.

Mothers Day has utterly confounded me as far back as I can remember. During my childhood years, spent unhappily suffocating in lily-white, middle-class, conservative suburbia, I was continually struck by the jarring disparities between mothers I met in public, at school, at friends’ homes and, especially, those that dominated TV screens and supermarket magazines in the 1970s and ’80s, and the woman I knew as “Mom.” For better and for worse, Mom shared next to nothing with mothers. The contrast was so striking in fact, it occurred to me on more than one occasion that I might be born from another species altogether.

[Read more…]

Conservatives still ruining everything: Turkey edition.

[CONTENT NOTE: graphic descriptions of violence against women including murder.]

[via The Guardian*/Beril Eski and agencies]

A rally to mark International Women’s day in Istanbul where protesters demanded government commitment to the European accord on violence against women. Photograph: Bülent Kılıç/AFP/Getty ImagesA rally to mark International Women’s day in Istanbul where protesters demanded government commitment to the European accord on violence against women. Photograph: Bülent Kılıç/AFP/Getty Images

__________

Protests as Turkey pulls out of treaty to protect women

 

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Erasure: Women in STEM and Your Liberal Media.

One of these things is not like the other:

Two news feed headlines. 1- New York Times: "Nobel Prize in Chemistry Awarded to 2 Scientists for Work on Genome Editing" and 2- Washington Post: "Nobel Prize in chemistry awarded to two women who developed CRISPR, the revolutionary gene-editing tool"The difference is equally apparent in the summary blurbs from NYT and WaPo:

From this morning’s New York Times email briefing:

Two scientists, one from France and one from the U.S., were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. They discovered a tool that allows researchers to change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with high precision.

From The Washington Post breaking news alert:

University of California at Berkeley biochemist Jennifer A. Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, a French scientist, were awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday for their work developing CRISPR, which is contributing to new cancer therapies and helping to cure inherited diseases.

Listen up, motherfucking New York Times. Feminism does not mean erasing gender. Just like equality in the broader sense does not mean erasing human diversity. Erasure is not a neutral act in a world where women are systematically denied opportunities to advance their careers, particularly in STEM, and face institutional bias (and worse) as they try.

It would be different if people of all genders enjoyed full equality across the board. But until that happy day comes when women (and minorities!) in roles and professions historically and visibly dominated by (white! cis! able-bodied! het!) men are equally commonplace and visible, their representation in these contexts is vitally important for everyone to see.

And yes, for those keeping score at home, this is reason number 6,858,945 I hate The New York Times. But not to worry! I ain’t goin’ soft on ya! I still hate The Washington Post, too! Both of them get it right a lot of the time, which only makes this all the more infuriating because it proves they are perfectly capable of doing so. And getting it right sometimes hardly exonerates them for all the times they get it very, very wrong.

‘Twas Ever Thus: U.S. Women 100 Years Post-Suffrage.

Uh-oh! Must be a day that ends in Y! The New York Times is pissing me right off.*

Today’s email briefing starts with a splashy paean to the U.S. women’s suffrage movement. The 19th Amendment, which granted (some) women voting rights, was enacted on this date one hundred years ago.

The email piece naturally links to recent Times articles on women’s suffrage and related topics. As usual, their failure to connect the blazing red dots of our history – history they themselves reported – does a criminal disservice to readers. And as usual, what they don’t deliver is at least as damaging as the disinformation they do.

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Multicellularity, male privilege and also I need $10 million.

I watched the vid of my colleagues here at FtB, Matt Herron of Fierce Roller and PZ Myers of Tentacly Overlord infamy, discussing some very cool science-y stuff about the evolution of multicellularity. One of the most interesting takeaways for me is that it had long been thought that evolving multicellularity would be an exceedingly rare and difficult jump to make. But it has been discovered, only in the last five to ten years, that this is actually relatively easy and common:

Matt (@3:51): I think there’s been sort of a natural assumption that it has to be difficult. And maybe it is difficult to evolve a complex multicellular organism, with lots and lots of cell types and tissues and maybe even organs, because that hasn’t happened very many times. But Rick Grossberg has a paper where he argues basically what we’ve found, which is that at least the initial steps towards a multicellular lifestyle really aren’t that difficult. It’s happened lots of times that we know of, at least a couple of dozen times, and probably more because in a lot of cases these things don’t leave any fossil record. It is surprising, compared to what people thought five or ten years ago, that multicellularity evolves so easily, but now we’ve seen it in several of these experiments. And in a lot of cases it happens within just a few hundred generations.

OMG cool, right?

Then they touch on the intersection of philosophy and biology, and specifically the question of what exactly constitutes an individual organism, as opposed to, say, a colony of creatures that appear to function as one. I don’t know about you, but this kind of stuff really gets my beanie spinning. I am reminded of my unfortunate encounter with a species known as Physalia physalis, a.k.a. the “floating terror,” a.k.a. the Atlantic Portuguese man o’ war, which I would henceforth (and forevermore) refer to as a “sea squirrel.” Despite its similarity in appearance to the common jellyfish—an individual multicellular organism that will also sting the everloving shit out of you if given a chance—it turns out that the Sea Squirrel™ is actually something very different:

[T]he Portuguese man o’ war is not a jellyfish but a siphonophore, which, unlike jellyfish, is not actually a single multicellular organism, but a colonial organism made up of specialized individual animals called zooids or polyps. These polyps are attached to one another and physiologically integrated to the extent that they are unable to survive independently, and therefore have to work together and function like a so-called individual animal.

Mind: blown.

These weird little fuckers are carnivorous, wielding their wickedly venomous tentacles to paralyze prey (e.g. small fish), and to inflict upon barefoot beachwalkers excruciating pain even after they are long dead (the sea squirrels, not the beachwalkers).

Detached tentacles and dead specimens (including those that wash up on shore) can sting just as painfully as the live organism in the water and may remain potent for hours or even days after the death of the organism or the detachment of the tentacle.

And I would be remiss if I did not mention an interesting cephalopod angle here. Blanket octopuses are immune to sea squirrel venom, which is an amazing enough trick to evolve. But these cephalopods go waaaaaay beyond that: they rip the venomous tentacles right off of those critters (hopefully while mocking them mercilessly), and then they carry the tentacles around with them to wield as weapons for defensive (and possibly offensive) purposes. Now that is some serious next level shit, blanket octopuses! I mean, can you just picture that? Because I sure can!

Octopus Wielding Sea Squirrel™ Tentacles Against Douchefish.
©Iris Vander Pluym
8′ x 11′
(oil on canvas)
$10,000,000.00

But! I digress. As beanie-spinning as all of this clearly is (as evidenced by the foregoing blather), it has absolutely nothing to do with the subject of this post.

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