Open Thread with Toppled Pole

This highway-blocking blown-down power pole that happened just down the road from me features for this week’s Open Thread. Please natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything* you like over this weekend and throughout the week.

Hours of traffic blocked during the severe storms that hit the coast of New South Wales this week

Hours of traffic blocked during the severe storms that hit the coast of New South Wales this week

So, what have you been up to? What would you rather be up to? What’s been awesome/awful?
Reading? Watching? Making? Meeting?
What has [insert awesome inspiration/fave fansquee/guilty pleasure/dastardly ne’er-do-well/threat to all civilised life on the planet du jour] been up to?

* Netiquette footnotes:
* There is no off-topic on the Weekly Open Thread, but consider whether your comment would be on-topic on any recent thread and thus better belongs there.
* If your comment touches on topics known to generally result in thread-jacking, you will be expected to take the discussion to #spillover instead of overshadowing the social/circuit-breaking aspects of this thread.

Posted in Life, Politics, Popular Culture, The Cultural Canon | Tagged | 46 Comments

Let’s Victim-Blame Women for Elliot Rodger’s Murders!

Note: This post was written a year ago, the week of the 2014 Isla Vista killings. Due to miscommunication, it was never posted – but one year later seems an opportune time to reflect on how much – and little – the public dialogue around misogyny has changed, since Elliot Rodger’s disgraceful killstreak…

For Fox News viewers, the preeminent question amongst conservatives is whether Elliot Rodger’s hatred of women who wouldn’t date him was actually a sign that he was gay. For everyone else living in reality, it’s a symptom of more pressing issues – like America’s culture of male entitlement, where men feel they deserve attention and sex from women because gender roles say so. Yep, everyone knows men deserve sex and attention, and if women refuse to give it, they have nobody to blame but themselves for violence they endure as a result.

We could be talking about women on Twitter being threatened with rape for voicing their opinions, or harassed in public for walking whilst female, or assaulted at parties by athletes who know their universities will obstruct any investigations to protect their image. That’s not news to women, who everyday inhabit a world where #NotAllMen violate women, but #YesAllWomen understand they must always guard themselves from being violated by men – because women know if they speak out about being victims, they’ll face relentless victim-blaming for somehow bringing violence on themselves.

You shouldn’t have spoken up online. You shouldn’t have worn your comfortable summer clothing in public. You shouldn’t have drunken with your male classmates at that party. To those who claim women just need more education about the dangers of being in public whilst female… what the hell woman hasn’t heard her whole life that she needs to regulate her behaviour to avoid being attacked? And if we’re willing to waste so much time on a message women have heard since forever, why can’t we spend more time on teaching boys to respect and protect their women peers? Oh, right… that would just embolden girls to think they have a right to be around men without fear of harm. Can’t have that!

But not far from where we attend school, Elliot Rodger just gunned down 6 people because he didn’t like that “blonde sluts” wouldn’t sleep with him. And despite attempts by the usual male suspects to whitewash this as an isolated case of “mental illness”, the next day another man opened fire on 3 girls because… they refused to have sex with him? But hey, that bloke was obviously “mentally ill” too. Can’t imagine what our culture of male entitlement has to do with it… no, ma’am, none at all!

In the face of such senseless violence, surely society would draw the line on victim-blaming here. Surely they’d know better than to blame women for somehow provoking men into violence against women. Besides, what could women have done to prevent this?

Well, our esteemed victim-blaming lobby begs to differ.

Some responses were predictable, like those from PUAs or men’s rights activists. As one renowned writer proclaimed, “more people will die unless you give men sexual options.” Yeah, because everyone knows girls are to blame when they’re murdered for refusing to sleep with men. None of this is surprising, and personally I’m more offended they failed to show greater originality than an Onion article. Their responses merit no serious analysis.

No, what’s more troubling is the victim-blaming that media establishments have levelled at women, for failing to appease men who turn violent. The more puerile scapegoating has revolved around Rodger’s supposed childhood crush, who he cites in his manifesto as an “evil *****” who “teased and ridiculed” him into bloodlust. We won’t name this girl because enough tabloids have done so already, plastering her Facebook bikini pictures across pages with headlines like “KILLER CRUSH” or “Schoolgirl blamed by Rodger for hatred of women doesn’t remember him”.

Gosh, what a *****, unable to even remember the boy she tormented into a killer! Why doesn’t she remember? Perhaps it has to do with the fact that she was… 10 years old? Yeah, a 10-year-old was totally guilty of provoking Rodger’s hatred of women.* Meanwhile the media are giving credence to that premise, running photos of the “stunning blonde” for viewers to ogle. The underlying message: Could you control yourself if this blonde tease blew you off?

Other outlets have chosen to blame no woman in particular, instead charging women in general with destroying… chivalry. Hey, everyone knows chivalry in the old days forced men to be nice to women, so they wouldn’t rape or murder them or anything! “Society used to expect men to open doors, protect their families… But chivalry is dead.” Obviously men didn’t rape or murder women back in the old days, until those dirty feminists came along and began passing laws against sexual assault and domestic violence. That makes total sense.

But the most laughable attempt at victim-blaming women comes from Fox News, attacking women who… support the women who were murdered. Because did you know anti-violence allies are denigrating the victims by standing in solidarity with them, via #YesAllWomen? “This issue is not about women… I think it’s kind of insulting for women to go on Twitter and talk about how them getting hit on in the bar is equal to being shot in the street, because it’s not.”

Whew, we’re glad she cleared that up! Being harassed or threatened after saying “no” is nothing more than getting hit on, it has nothing to do with violence against women! Nor does rape culture enable or embolden men who assault women for refusing to sleep with them. I can’t imagine how Rodger’s 141-page manifesto about punishing women who wouldn’t sleep with him has anything to do with this conversation!

Yeah, right.

Victim-blamers will always exist, but what matters is how credibly society takes them. Decades ago, ideas like rape culture and victim-blaming weren’t even part of the national dialogue. Now we see these ideas openly discussed in mainstream media coverage of sexual assault. The coverage might not always be intelligent, but the social climate is shifting to one where notorious rape apologists now paint themselves as brave truth-tellers when trying to pin the responsibility for rape prevention on victims rather than perpetrators.

This is a lifesaving shift in the national conversation. Lifesaving in the sense that loss of life is now wasted less on victim-blaming, and more on stimulating change. And that’s the hope which has to sustain us beyond #NotOneMore.

* Evidence exists that bullying played a substantial role in shaping Rodger’s hostile worldview. Given how often bullying is linked to these shootings, this should come as a surprise to nobody on this damn planet.

Posted in Gender, Rape Culture | 7 Comments

Shockingly, Game of Thrones is all about rape, again, still

[Trigger warning for rape and sadistic violence]

SPOILER ALERT for Game of Thrones S5, E6, to the extent that it hasn’t been spoiled already.

Recently, on Game of Thrones: Because we couldn’t figure out that Ramsay Bolton is a twisted sadist just from watching him hunt women for sport and systematically dismantle a human being over a lengthy period of time; and because we couldn’t figure out that Sansa Stark’s life sucks immeasurably just based on, frankly, everything that’s happened to her since her father’s head lost contact with his body; we got to watch Ramsay rape Sansa on their wedding night. Except cutting away to see Theon’s/Reek’s reaction as it happened, because in the end, her violation is all about his feelings. Viewers who didn’t stop watching the show after Jaime (arguably) raped Cersei in S4 E3, or after just about any other occasion that the show used sexual assault to illustrate that “this chick’s life sucks” or “this dude is a bad guy,” were unsurprised.

And curiously enough (gosh!), some people took issue with it. Like The Mary Sue, which will no longer be following the show.

Before we dive into why we felt this was a choice which would cause us to stop promoting the show, allow us to say something very important: rape is not a necessary plot device. Really think about that before shouting “creative freedom” in our direction, please.

The show has creators. They make the choices. They chose to use rape as a plot device. Again.

In this particular instance, rape is not necessary to Sansa’s character development (she’s already overcome abusive violence at the hands of men); it is not necessary to establish Ramsay as a bad guy (we already know he is); it is not necessary to prove “how bad things were for women” (Game of Thrones exists in a fictional universe, and we already know it’s exceptionally patriarchal). Rape here, like in all instances, is not a necessary story-driving device.

Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson also found the scene gratuitous.

Horrible because this rape scene undercuts all the agency that’s been growing in Sansa since the end of last season. She was at the height of her power earlier in the episode when, stripped back down to her red-headed Tully roots, she told Myranda in no uncertain terms that Winterfell was her home and she would not be intimidated. It’s right in line with the Game of Thrones approach to storytelling that Sansa would have the rug pulled out from under her. (Have we forgotten Oberyn so soon?) But did it really have to be rape that brought her low? Is that really the only horror Game of Thrones can imagine visiting on its female characters?

I’d never advocate that Game of Thrones (or any work of fiction) shy away from edgy plots out of fear of pushback or controversy. But edgy plots should always accomplish something above pure titillation or shock value and what, exactly, was accomplished here? Allen said in an interview that this story would position Ramsay as “the new Joffrey in town, and then probably me followed closely after that.” But haven’t we had ample time to understand the depths of Ramsay’s depravity? If, best case scenario, Sansa and Theon (and probably Brienne and Pod) band together to take down Ramsay over the next few episodes, did we really need this rape scene to drive that engine? I think most audiences would have been happy with Sansa as avenging angel without subjecting her to a rape. After all, these are the people who killed her family.

At Salon, Sonia Saraiya distinguishes the image of Sansa Stark as a survivor from the show’s apparent insistence on making her an object:

But the scene in “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” undercuts Sansa’s agency in what is happening to her. She is a player in this game of thrones, as evidenced by her icy grace as she walks to the godswood, accompanied by no one except the foster-brother who betrayed her family; to her regal put-down of the besotted servant girl who tries to scare her out of marrying Ramsay. She’s had a devil’s choice, between one kind of hell and another, but she did choose. When Ramsay orders her to undress, she begins to do so. Her fear gets the best of her for a minute. But then when Ramsay rips open her dress, though she’s terrified, she doesn’t resist. She is maintaining her own composure; she is owning her own dreadful choice, insofar as anything she can do in this terrible situation is a choice. But then the scene stops depicting her. Her sobs become the score for someone else’s story. The episode loses sight, literally, of who she is; furthermore, and more damning, it seems to take from her, in this most vulnerable moment, the only thing that she truly has.

My guess is that the show’s creators were attempting to salvage some of Sansa’s dignity — or, more cynically, their own; they’ve heard a lot from viewers about gratuitous female nudity and/or torture porn. (I noticed the actors involved were already prepared, Monday morning, to make the publicity rounds defending the scene.) But they mis-stepped again; focusing on Theon in that crucial moment stripped Sansa of even more of her dignity. Perhaps I seem like an unfair critic, arguing that this scene didn’t do it right, and that scene didn’t either. But rape isn’t a simple or easy topic; it should be really goddamn hard to get right on screen.

It’s not completely out of place for such a violation to take place in the Game of Thrones universe — even in real-life Earth history and present, it’s been a crime reserved for demeaning and exerting power over women and men who are perceived as needing to be put in their place, or as objects lying around waiting to be acted upon. But to the writers and producers of Game of Thrones, it’s also a tool — an incredibly lazy tool — to show that someone is extra! Super! Bad! Khal Drogo, early in his marriage to Daenerys? Savage (until she tamed him, of course. With, in part, consensual sex)! The mutinying members of the Night’s Watch at Craster’s Keep? Bad! Joffrey? Super bad! Like, bad with a crossbow bad! Jaime starting to look too sympathetic as a character? Bam! Rape! (To the extent that cast and crew are willing to identify it as such.)

It’s not just gratuitous and misogynistic, it’s lazy writing. If, in a horrible and brutal world where characters are stabbed and shot and flogged and imprisoned and exiled and burned alive and dismembered and skinned, your go-to for victimizing female characters and demonizing male ones is welp, time for another rape, you’re a bad writer. However the show runners explain their conscious decisions to show this face and hide this other one, and move the camera here and let us hear these sounds, and to tell this story in this way, it’s undermined by the fact that their choice to deploy rape for this purpose is just one more in a long chain of same. Game of Thrones doesn’t take rape lightly — indeed, it takes sexual violence as seriously as so many of the other atrocities it visits upon its characters. You can tell, because they default to it over and over and over again, as the go-to tool, the hammer for which everything is a nail. It’s gross, it’s unnecessary, and above all, it’s tiresome.

Posted in Literature, Popular Culture, Sexual Assault | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Apologies, Explanations, and Temporary Sign-Off

Trigger warning: pregnancy-related health emergencies

Hello all,

I’m really, really sorry I dropped off the face of the earth. I didn’t mean to. At first it was just an unfortunate concatenation of events (somebody should organize an F/SF con called CONcatenation, don’t you think?)–the site went down for a few days, I went away to a conference, etc. This happened right around the time I hit the third trimester, and the third trimester of pregnancy was really kicking my ass: I was going to sleep at 8 or 9 in the evening, even after taking a two-hour nap in the afternoon (I know, tough life, your hearts go out to me). I was starting to re-organize my routine and had hopes of getting on top of shit when this week just blew the legs out from under me.

On Monday, I experienced a very frightening placental abruption–it was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever gone through, there was so much blood. I had to go straight to the hospital, and while I and the baby are all right and eventually the bleeding subsided, they’re keeping me here until I deliver the baby. We’re hoping I make it to early June, which will be 37 weeks, so that the baby will be full-term. That’s not so far away, after all, so I have hopes that there will be no further incident. You’d think that being here would give me all the time in the world to catch up on stuff, but what I’m finding is that I’m so emotionally exhausted and changeable day by day (one day I’m fine and perky; the next I’m literally shaking as I think about how frightening Monday was; then I’m fine again; then I’m weeping and homesick) that I just can’t focus well enough even to read the news and essays I need to read to write a decent post, let alone write one. So I’m capitulating. I will try to start posting again in mid-July or so, provided all goes well (knock wood).

I am grateful for any number of things–there’s sheer luck: I wasn’t taking care of my godchildren when the bleeding started, so I could get directly into a cab without having to worry about childcare; it was 11 in the morning, so there was literally no traffic. I have an amazing doctor who’s affiliated with an excellent hospital, so I am very grateful to be here, and I’m very grateful that they’re keeping me here, because I’m in Brooklyn and the hospital is quite far away, and of course the fear about going home would be what if it happens again and I can’t get there in time? The person I was with when it started and the taxi driver who came to pick me up were both wonderful. And of course, I am in a good position vis-a-vis insurance, which is a sick and barbaric feature of this country that anybody should have to think about it during an emergency, but there it is, we do, and I didn’t have to think about it–I could just go straight to the hospital. I have family and friends coming to see me every day.

People talk about how bored I must be in the hospital for weeks, but I am welcoming the boredom: it is infinitely preferable to the fear.

Another thing I’m grateful for is that I was rejected by the Brooklyn Birthing Center. I volunteered at a birthing center about fifteen years ago, and have always been intrigued by feminist ideas of “reclaiming” childbirth. When I found out I was pregnant, I called the Brooklyn Birthing Center, told them a little about the pregnancy, my age, and the medications I was on and asked if they would take me on, and they said, with barely a pause “Absolutely not.” I was irritated at the time, but clearly they were taking my health much more seriously than I was, and because they stuck to the straight and narrow in their protocols, I’m at a world-class hospital with a doctor I know and like and have a good relationship with. I kind of want to send them a thank-you note. My best friend says this is why she doesn’t trust birthing centers; I said it makes me trust that one even more, because they knew to say no to me. Just an anecdote.

Anyway, I’m sorry for my absence, I miss the convos here very much. I hope to see you all again, so to speak, in a couple months.

Posted in Blogging, Health, Life, Medicine, Parenthood | 19 Comments

Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday

Promote yourself. (Or somebody else.)

Netiquette reminders:

  • we expect Content Notes as a courtesy to our readers for problematic content in linked posts and/or their comment threads (a habit of posting only triggering/disparaging links may annoy the Giraffe (you really don’t want to annoy the Giraffe)), Content Notes are not needed if your post title is already descriptive of problematic content.
  • extended discussion of self-promotion links on this thread is counter-productive for the intended signal-boosting –  the idea is for the promoted sites to get more traffic.  If it’s a side-discussion that would be off-topic/unwelcome/distressing on the other site, take it to #spillover after leaving a note on this thread redirecting others there.
Posted in General | Tagged , | 9 Comments

In which Caperton indulges in a moment of feminism-adjacent (if that) nerd rage

[Content note: Very little, if anything, to do with feminism, and everything to do with Caperton taking self-indulgent advantage of an available forum]

You’ll have to pardon me for a moment, because a significant facet of my childhood has been mishandled much in the manner of a 19th century Spanish fresco. And yes, the imperfect yet beautiful original is the Jem cartoon, and yes, the nightmare-inducing Hodor-Jesus restoration is the Jem and the Holograms live-action movie.

According to the trailer, Jerrica Benton is a camera-shy high school student who becomes YouTube famous for a video of her playing a song she wrote, predictably leaked worldwide by her sister Kimber, leading to an out-of-nowhere record deal from The Biggest Record Company in the World. And then they all go to the Big City to rehash the plot of Josie and the Pussycats, minus the campy self-awareness, to the close-harmony strains of a One Direction song.

So here comes the nerd rage. Are you ready? Brace.

JERRICA BENTON IS A WOMAN WHO OWNS HER OWN RECORD COMPANY. Her band? The Holograms? Known as “The Holograms” because THEIR SECRET IDENTITIES ARE CREATED USING HOLOGRAMS. GENERATED BY A SUPERCOMPUTER. PROJECTED FROM JERRICA’S EARRINGS. EARRING HOLOGRAMS. And the show wasn’t about egos and infighting — it was about four (successful, supportive, ethnically diverse) young women coming together to… solve crimes, or something, I don’t know, it was a long time ago, but they were all in it together. With EARRING HOLOGRAMS.

(As compared to a movie helmed by a team of dudes who didn’t even consult the actual creator of the actual show at any point during production. I predict that if it ends up failing at the box office, it’ll be blamed on the moviegoing public’s lack of interest in female protagonists.)

Realistically, is there any way to create a live-action movie in 2015 that involves supercomputer earrings and holographic rock bands and isn’t completely over the top and ridiculous? Probably not, no. So you don’t try. You make your heartwarming story of a stage-frightened young woman exploring her sense of self in a social media-driven world, and you call it Hannah Montana. If you wouldn’t make an Iron Man movie in which Tony Stark finds and restores a red-and-gold ’68 Camaro and drives it across the Southwest as he tries to find his own identity in the overwhelming shadow of his late father, then keep your damned hands off of my beloved childhood cartoon.

/nerd rage

(We now return you to our regularly scheduled actual feminist programming.)

Posted in Movies | 22 Comments

Guest Post: Mother’s Day, unpaid and unrecognized care work, and penalizing motherhood

Guest Blogger: Greetings from UN Women! As you know, this weekend more than 80 countries in the world will be celebrating Mother’s Day. Laura Turquet, Progress of the World’s Women Report Manager, has prepared a piece that links the commemoration with the recently launched Progress report.

Mother’s day will be marked this Sunday in more than 80 countries worldwide, from Anguilla to Zimbabwe. The origins of this day vary, but in the USA, it was established by Anna Jarvis in 1908, in honour of her mother, Ann Jarvis, a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. Today, it is an occasion to recognize and celebrate the role of mothers in giving and sustaining each of our lives.

Beyond this one day, when mothers receive cards and flowers as tokens of appreciation from their families, this is also a moment to look at how societies and economies recognize and reward the work of mothers, and women more broadly.

As UN Women’s report, Progress of the World’s Women documents, women have become more visible in the paid economy in recent years in many countries. However, women’s other work, their unpaid work to produce and sustain families, which is no less valuable, is typically unrecognized and invisible. Globally women do two and a half times more unpaid care and domestic work as men. When paid and unpaid work is combined, in most countries, women work longer hours than men.

If women stopped doing unpaid care work, if they stopped having children, nurturing them, and rounding them into productive and creative human beings, there would be no labour force and the global economy would grind to a halt. If women and families stopped caring for older people, or those that need extra support, not only would our public services collapse under the strain, but our societies would be harsher and crueler places to live.

In the USA, unpaid childcare services (overwhelmingly provided by women) are valued at $3.2 trillion, which is equivalent to 20 per cent of the total value of GDP.

Given this staggering contribution to our economies and societies, one would think that women would be rewarded for their paid and unpaid work. The opposite is true. Globally, women are paid 24 per cent less than men. Women tend to be clustered into a narrow set of lowly occupations, jobs which are often under-valued precisely because they mirror the work that women do unpaid (cleaning, catering and caring, for example).

And when they become mothers, women are penalized yet further: in a range of countries, when it comes to pay, there is a ‘motherhood penalty’, which results to even wider gender inequalities. In the USA, for example, unmarried women earn 96 cents to an unmarried man’s dollar, but married women with at least one child earn 76 cents to the married father’s dollar.

Women’s lower pay and lower employment rates translate into huge cumulative income gaps over their lifetimes. In Germany, for example, women can expect to earn 49 per cent less than men over their lifetimes. The ‘motherhood’ penalty has implications for women for the rest of their lives: lower pay and more years out of paid work to care for children, means lower pension contributions, and higher rates of poverty in older age. In the EU, older women are 37 per cent more likely to live in poverty, than older men.

With women working longer hours and being paid less, it is any wonder that some are opting out of the labour market altogether? Latest figures for the USA show that labour force participation rates for women aged 25-54, the time when they are most likely to have children, have declined from 77 per cent to 74 per cent since 2000. The USA is the only OECD country that does not provide paid maternity leave at national level (some states make their own provisions). With prohibitively high childcare costs and little public support, trying to combine paid and unpaid work becomes impossible for many women, especially those on low incomes.

By contrast, women’s employment is increasing in countries that provide proper support for working families. The employment rates of mothers in EU countries that provide the most comprehensive support for families – paid parental leave, childcare services, flexible working policies – are 84 per cent, 21 percentage points higher than in those that provide the least support. The countries with the best policies also tend to include incentives for fathers to do their fair share of caring, challenging gender stereotypes that care work is a job for women only.

When the G20 met in Australia last year, they set a target to close the 25 percentage point gender gap in labour force participation by 2025 (25 by 25). Global leaders recognized that gaps in women’s employment are holding back economic growth and prosperity. These gaps also hold back women’s opportunities, wellbeing and economic independence.

Progress of the World’s Women shows that it is possible to close these gender gaps, in both rich and poor countries, with the right mix of economic and social policies. The evidence is abundant and the solutions are clear: stop penalizing women for having children, and start recognizing and supporting women’s unpaid care work.

Now that would be a mother’s day really worth celebrating.

Posted in General | 5 Comments

Quick hit: Driskell v. Teh Gheys et al

(Y’all, I tried so hard to come up with a pun using “class-action lawsuit,” and I got nothing. Please feel free to leave your suggestions in comments.)

Nebraska woman Sylvia Ann Driskell is suing every Homosexual (a.k.a. Gay) in the whole world for breaking “religious and moral laws.” There now exists a lawsuit on the books called Driskell v. Homosexuals. We live in a world where that lawsuit exists.

Driskell identifies herself as “ambassador” for “God and His Son, Jesus Christ” (hereinafter referred to as Plaintiff), suing “Homosexuals, Their Given Name Homosexuals, Their Alias Gay.” Her seven-page, handwritten petition doesn’t quote any court cases, but it does quote Webster’s Dictionary and the Bible, so you know she’s for serious. Her contention is “that homosexuality is a sin and that they the homosexuals know it is a sin to live a life of homosexuality. Why else would they have been hiding in a closet.” (You can’t handle the truth.)

As of press time, neither God, nor His Son Jesus Christ, nor Homosexuals was available for comment.

Posted in GLBTQ, Law, Religion | Tagged | 15 Comments

One Alabama lawmaker proposes just getting the courts out of the marriage business

For everyone who’s been feeling that government has no place in the whole “marriage” thing to begin with: An Alabama state senator agrees with you. You may recall Alabama’s recent (brief) entry into the 21st century earlier this year when Alabama (briefly) legalized same-sex marriage before un-legalizing it, during which state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore ordered his probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

With that event in mind, Republican Sen. Greg Albritton has proposed Senate Bill 377 to “bring order out of chaos,” he says. Under the proposed law, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in April, the probate’s office would no longer issue marriage licenses — in fact, couples wouldn’t need licenses at all to get married. Civil recognition would come in the form of a contract witnessed by two adults and recorded by the probate’s office and the Office of Vital Statistics as a marriage.

“The sanctity of marriage cannot be sanctified by the government of men,” Albritton says.

Marriage sanctity notwithstanding, the new, non-bigoted-probate-judge-centric procedure would be open to good Christians and heathens alike, and when same-sex marriage is ultimately de-un-legalized, the procedure will remain exactly the same.

A similar (on the surface) bill passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives in March, but as a specifically targeted shot at same-sex marriage, the state ban on which was overturned last year. HB 1125, currently before the state senate, puts marriage entirely in the hands of the clergy, requiring court clerks to issue certificates of marriage signed by “a preacher, minister, priest, rabbi, or ecclesiastical dignitary of a recognized assembly.” (Heathen types can file an affidavit of common law marriage.)

“[Same-sex couples and atheists] don’t have a spiritual basis for a marriage and don’t want to have a clergy member or a priest or someone involved in the spiritual aspect, then they can file an affidavit of common-law marriage,” says bill sponsor state Rep. Todd Russ. (He also told new station KFOR, “You know, in the early days, the king actually went before the priest to ask for marriage. Somehow along the way we’ve changed it to where we have to ask the government before we go to the priest to be married, and now we have problems.”)

In contrast, the proposed Alabama law wouldn’t require the involvement of clergy at all. Marriage contracts would just need to be witnessed by two adults, be they clergy or laity or attorneys or itinerant circus clowns 18 or older. Actual fancy-pants solemnizations (or lack thereof) would be at the couple’s discretion.

To be clear: The new law still wouldn’t address some of the most pressing issues surrounding marriage equality in states that don’t honor it — adoption, inheritance, and hospital visitation and medical decisions, for instance, among many others. Alabama courts have yet to nullify the same-sex marriages that were performed during Alabama’s brief period of modernity, so in theory, those couples remain married, although that theory hasn’t been tested yet. The U.S. Supreme Court is set to make a ruling on state bans in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee in late June, which may or may not have an impact on Alabama’s ban, depending largely on the specific wording of the ruling and whether or not Roy Moore continues to be a butthole, which is likely. So there’s that. Further updates as events warrant.

Posted in GLBTQ, Law, Marriage | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday

Promote yourself.

Netiquette reminders:

  • Want to recommend someone else’s writing instead? Try the latest signal-boosting thread.
  • we expect Content Notes as a courtesy to our readers for problematic content in linked posts and/or their comment threads (a habit of posting only triggering/disparaging links may annoy the Giraffe (you really don’t want to annoy the Giraffe)), Content Notes are not needed if your post title is already descriptive of problematic content.
  • extended discussion of self-promotion links on this thread is counter-productive for the intended signal-boosting –  the idea is for the promoted sites to get more traffic.  If it’s a side-discussion that would be off-topic/unwelcome/distressing on the other site, take it to #spillover after leaving a note on this thread redirecting others there.
Posted in General | Tagged , | 11 Comments

The pressing question of Scarlett Johansson’s underwear

In honor of today’s U.S. release of Avengers: Age of Ultron (since we don’t do sequel numbers now, just subheads), I thought I’d share an interview with Scarlett Johansson about the nuances of her character, the Black Widow, in light of her backstory as an orphan, trafficked as a young child, brainwashed and forced into service but now using the skills that were imposed upon her for an arguably, but not entirely, noble cause.

J/K! It’s about whether or not she can wear underwear under her tight costume, courtesy of Extra interviewer Jerry Penacoli. Because the public has a right to know. And while this is a video of a female celebrity being asked an inappropriate, intrusive question by a representative of a national entertainment news franchise, I like to think of it also as a commentary on the human condition. Because who among us hasn’t encountered the guy who…

… thinks there might be a polite, appropriate way to ask us about your underpants in a professional setting?

JERRY PENACOLI. Now, were you able to wear undergarments with your —

SCARLETT JOHANSSON. You’re, like, the fifth person to ask me that today.

JP. Well, no, because —

SJ. What is going on? What — since when did people start asking each other about — in interviews about their underwear?

JP. No! No, because it is such a skintight — Here’s why.

SJ. I’ll leave it up to your imagination. Okay?

JP. See? Is that…

SJ. Whatever you feel I should be wearing — or not wearing under that costume is what I…

And then he tries to convince you you’re silly for being offended?

JP. This is not — It — It — Well…

SJ. Well?

JP. Is it inappropriate?

SJ. To ask somebody what kind of underpants they wear?

JP. I didn’t ask you what kind.

SJ. You just asked me if I was wearing any.

JP. Could you. Could you.

JEREMY RENNER. No, what do you wear under underneath?

JP. Could you. Like, what do you wear underneath something like that?

SJ. Overalls.

JP. Do you wear clothes?

SJ. You wear dungarees. You can’t wear clothes under it. It’s like a — it’s like a wetsuit.

And then thinks he’s all clever and has caught you out?

JP. Okay.

SJ. Practically.

JP. Okay. So you answered my question.

SJ. Well, I don’t know. Maybe it’s a little bit more than a wetsuit. Was I wearing underwear? I mean, gosh. I mean, ask Joss.

And then reveals that he asked your boss about your underpants?

JP. I did! I did ask him, and he said —

SJ. You asked Joss what kind of underwear he wears?

JP. No! No, no! I asked —

SJ. What kind of interview is this?!

(Okay, that one might be a little less universal.)

And then finally, he gives up on your underpants and just starts talking with your male companion about “man” stuff?

JP. This is the movie that people have been waiting for. Because anybody who has seen any of the other Marvel films, now this is sort of like the — you know, it’s, it’s the culmination.

SJ. It’s the grandaddy.

JP. It’s the grandaddy! Right?

JR. The movie’s so darn big that you don’t even — You just hope you, like, just do your part.

SJ. I understand you — you got hurt pretty badly, though. How’d you do that?

JR. Fighting her.

JP. Oh!

JR. And I hurt myself.

SJ. I think I also —

JR. I think, like, my bowstring got caught in my belt, or something, and I twisted my neck wrong… It was really…

SJ. When you, like, dislocate a shoulder taking off your socks.

JP. So you didn’t hurt him.

JR. No, she didn’t hurt me. [to Johansson] Yeah, exactly.

SJ. It’s really, like, not a good story at all.

JP. Twisting your neck, or you…

JR. Yeah, totally.

JP. Oh, man.

“Oh, man” is one way of putting it.

Posted in Celebrity, Feminism, Movies | 1 Comment

Problems with commenting

WordPress has pushed out a lot of security updates recently, and one of these appears to have broken our commenting template, hiding the “Submit” button so that none of your comments are coming through.

I’m going to change the main Feministe theme temporarily to a standard WordPress template until they’ve sorted out all these security updates, and then I’ll make the site look all familiar again.

Posted in Admin | Tagged | 4 Comments

Links: In, around, and about Baltimore (Updated 5/1)

[Content note for police violence]

Update: Today, Baltimore chief prosecutor Marilyn Mosby announced that Freddie Gray’s death has been ruled a homicide and his detention and arrest ruled illegal. The six officers involved in his arrest are charged with (assortedly) offenses including involuntary manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter (gross and criminal), second degree assault, false imprisonment, misconduct in office, and, for the driver of the van, second degree depraved heart murder. Warrants have been issued for all.

Previously: In the wake of Freddie Gray’s death from injuries mysteriously sustained while in police custody two weeks ago, and following his funeral yesterday, people in Baltimore have protested — some of it peaceful, much of it, as of Monday afternoon, violent, and with staggering consequence. Now, as the community comes back out into their neighborhoods, peaceful protesters continue to gather to voice their frustrations, and a lot of other people have things to say, too.

At The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about calls for calm in the protests in Baltimore.

What specifically was the crime here? What particular threat did Freddie Gray pose? Why is mere eye contact and then running worthy of detention at the hands of the state? Why is Freddie Gray dead?

The people now calling for nonviolence are not prepared to answer these questions. Many of them are charged with enforcing the very policies that led to Gray’s death, and yet they can offer no rational justification for Gray’s death and so they appeal for calm. But there was no official appeal for calm when Gray was being arrested. There was no appeal for calm when Jerriel Lyles was assaulted. (“The blow was so heavy. My eyes swelled up. Blood was dripping down my nose and out my eye.”) There was no claim for nonviolence on behalf of Venus Green. (“Bitch, you ain’t no better than any of the other old black bitches I have locked up.”) There was no plea for peace on behalf of Starr Brown. (“They slammed me down on my face,” Brown added, her voice cracking. “The skin was gone on my face.”)

Edward Bowser writes for about the Martin Luther King quote frequently repeated in the past couple of days, that “riot is the language of the unheard.”

The quote was lifted from a CBS interview with Mike Wallace on Sept. 27, 1966, in which King discussed a vocal minority of protesters who saw violence as the only means to battle civil unrest. King empathized with their pain, explaining to America that a riot is, indeed, the language of those without a voice.

Fifty years later, the unheard are speaking out again.

For decades, Baltimore has been a deeply segregated city, with much of the rioting confined to a neighborhood where a third of families live in poverty. They’ve struggled in silence. The family and supporters of Freddie Gray can relate to that frustration – for weeks, they’ve patiently waited for answers in Gray’s death.

No indictment. No explanation. Seemingly no compassion from law enforcement. Nothing but silence.

True to King’s words, the unheard are now speaking in brutal fashion.

But there’s much more to King’s 1966 interview, which begins with these words:

“I will never change in my basic idea that nonviolence is the most potent weapon available to the Negro in his struggle for freedom and justice. I think for the Negro to turn to violence would be both impractical and immoral.”

The Huffington Post’s Julia Craven talks with WGN radio about her observations from the ground. At HuffPo, she recounts how the rioting started in Baltimore, and continues to give a view from the community in Baltimore via Twitter.

Posted in Crime, Law, Racism | Tagged , , | 6 Comments