Open Thread with Bear Photobomb

Three women in Victorian dress pose for a photo with a bear

Agatha was just about damned finished with Bruno goofing off during the photo shoot

Three Victorian women and a bear feature for this week’s Open Thread. Please natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything* you like over this weekend and throughout the 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 | 178 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 , | 6 Comments

Q&A: Talking to a Hot Guy?

Male geeks may think dating is easier for women, but any woman who’s endured modern dating hell will likely disagree. Partly the problem is mathematical – when women outnumber men, men have the leverage to set the terms. But then there are those girl geeks who really challenge themselves, gunning for guys they find “hotter” than themselves. This week’s episode lays out our tips for girls trying to flip gender scripts (with the usual transcript below)…

PROBLEM

male geeks often have trouble with talking to girls they like. but girls can be just as insecure too.
recently a gamer girl asked us for advice, on talking to a guy she thought was “hotter” than herself.

SOLUTION

at our weekly LAN party, we thought up 5 tips for boosting her confidence in the face of such hotness.

JENNIFER H.

“he might be hot, but don’t let it bother you. use his hotness to gauge his own interest in you first.”
“hot guys are more likely to be snooty. so if he’s polite when you talk to him, that’s good news.”
“if he acts like he’s superior to you, you’ll know he’s a prick. dodge that goddamn bullet.”

CIARA M.

“to be honest, most guys prefer a relatable partner over a hot one who sounds stupid in public.”
“to get a hot guy’s attention, target his brain. talk about his favourite videogames, films and stuff.”
“most guys are into some geek stuff. he’ll be nicely surprised to learn you like the same stuff too.”

BRYNNE C.

“hetero males often can’t discern flirting from friendliness. to reduce headaches, be upfront with him.”
“don’t make a big deal out of it. just casually mention in the middle of chatting that you’re interested in him.”
“he won’t be creeped out, because most guys aren’t afraid that a girl is secretly a rapist-predator.”

KATRINA R.

“if he make jokes at your expense when he talks to you, run away. life’s too short for that crap.”
“even if he’s hot, it doesn’t entitle him to be offensive. don’t lower your standards for hot guys.”
“if he wouldn’t insult his own family or posse, he shouldn’t act any differently with you, or anyone.”

MELISSA A.

“sure, everyone wants someone attractive. but in the end, guys want compatibility as much as hotness.”
“guys come for the graphics, but stay for the gameplay. focus on who you are first, not your looks.”
“if he’s worth your time, he’ll evaluate all parts of you. hold him to that same standard too.”

Have your own suggestions? Post away in the comments.

In the meantime, we’re definitely listening to your feedback. This series is a sort of dry run, for something interesting we’ll launch later this year – perhaps a year-long season of feminist game reviews? If so, you heard it here first.

“Q&A” is an on-going effort to bring more original content to Feministe, via conversations with other feminists. If you wish to send hate mail, please direct to the Republican Rape Caucus.

Posted in Dating, relationships | 8 Comments

Quick hit: We Bought a Huge Effing House, and Now We Can’t Afford More Kids

An Elle Decor essayist has come out with a horrible confession: She and her husband sacrificed a child to buy their dream home.

(How awesome would it be if that were the actual story? “Our realtor didn’t mention the fiery, bottomless hellpit in the basement into which we have to throw a small child at the peak of the new moon to keep our mortgage rate low. She said it was a walk-in wine closet.”)

Really, what happened was that they planned responsibly and ate canned food and shopped consignment until they could afford their “luxury dream home.” Only now have they realized that they want a sibling for their two sons but can’t afford one without lifestyle changes. Her uterus literally aches for a third kid, but they’ve priced themselves out of the three-kid market, and now all they’re left with is the fully-loaded luxury home of their dreams, several dogs, a fenced yard, a riding lawnmower, an annual family vacation to their timeshare, and two healthy, happy children with a happy-to-stay-at-home mom. With an achy uterus. #TheStruggleIsReal.

Sometimes, I can see us living in a smaller, older home somewhere, selling this one, and adjusting to accommodate life with a third child in a home that is definitely anything but a dream, but then I overhear our boys having a blast playing in our big, beautiful, safe backyard, or listen to their laughter billowing out of the colorful playroom space we have created and designed just for them, and I know this was always meant to be our forever home. This is the American dream and we are in it, living it, every day, just the four of us.

With that said, the sacrifice has been made. Because we live in this dream home, we can only afford to have two children. It’s our quiet sacrifice but it’s also our beautiful life, well-earned and fully-lived.

Posted in Class, Domesticity, Parenthood | Tagged | 8 Comments

Quick hit: Misty Copeland has been named principal dancer at ABT

Ballerina Misty Copeland (she who was too old and had the wrong feet, legs, turnout, torso, and bust to even start training as a ballet dancer at age 13) has been named a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre — the first African-American woman to rise to that position in the company’s nearly 80-year history.

“I had moments of doubting myself, and wanting to quit, because I didn’t know that there would be a future for an African-American woman to make it to this level,” Ms. Copeland said at a news conference at the Metropolitan Opera House on Tuesday afternoon. “At the same time, it made me so hungry to push through, to carry the next generation. So it’s not me up here — and I’m constantly saying that — it’s everyone that came before me that got me to this position.”

[…]

Over the past year, whenever Ms. Copeland, 32, danced leading roles with Ballet Theater, her performances became events, drawing large, diverse, enthusiastic crowds to cheer her on at the Metropolitan Opera House, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. After she starred in “Swan Lake” with Ballet Theater last week — becoming the first African-American to do so with the company at the Met — the crowd of autograph-seekers was so large that it had to be moved away from the cramped area outside the stage door.

Posted in Art, Body image, Race & Ethnicity, The Cultural Canon | 1 Comment

Catholic bigots are not alone! in new coming-out video

As coming-out videos go, it’s a heartbreaker. It’s pretty moving. They’ve got the style right on: black and white, sentimental music, earnest testimonies delivered straight to the camera. A little bit of tearfulness at the back of the throat, because seriously, it’s hard to come out. It’s hard to be honest with people when you don’t know how they’re going to react, that they’re not going to judge you. It’s scary putting yourself out there and saying, “Listen, I trust you to take this part of me, this vulnerable piece of me that I’m putting in your hands, and still love me once you know the truth. The truth, that I am…

… A CATHOLIC WHO’S AGAINST SAME-SEX MARRIAGE.”

It’s a coming-out video from Catholics who are against same-sex marriage.

Words fail me.

And they know exactly what they’re doing, too: It’s not until you’re nearly a minute in that they finally reveal that being nervous that people won’t welcome them, that feeling like society already thinks they’re weird, that you wonder who you can really be open with, that you’ve tried to change — that they’re talking about being opposed to marriage equality. Fifty-four seconds they hold out, keeping everything specifically vague and emotional, before they spring on you that they’ve co-opted this particular style of earnest confessional for an anti-marriage-equality message.

I honestly don’t think it’s a parody, either, that they’re trying to be funny. I think they’re seriously trying to make connections. “See, LQBT folk? You know how hard it is to be yourself in society, worrying that you’ll be judged and disowned and assaulted and murdered and oppressed because of who you are and who you love? It’s just like that for Catholics who are afraid that people won’t like us once they know how intolerant we are!” “Bigoted” is a big word. And the only way to break down barriers… sniff… is to get to know us. Us Catholics who don’t think you deserve basic rights, because you aren’t like us. And who don’t want to let you in on our precious rite because — sniff — you’re gross and into butt stuff. And to all you other Catholics who are afraid of being persecuted for your bigoted beliefs? You’re not alone.

Whew. Bet that felt good to get off your chests, right? You… are not… alone.

Fuck my life.

One at a time, people walk in and sit against a plain white background, facing the camera. WOMAN 1. MAN 4. WOMAN 2. Quiet piano music is sentimental, a little bit tentative, a little bit hopeful. Our people are as well.

WOMAN 1. I am a little bit nervous about people, um, kind of hearing that I’m this way and then thinking, “Oh, well,” you know, “she’s not welcome here.”

MAN 1 [chuckling]. I would say I’m different. We’re all different.

MAN 2. Most people probably think I’m already weird anyway, I mean, so I don’t think society’s impression of me is going to change drastically based on one or two discoveries that come to light after this video.

MAN 3. Pretty scary, you know? You — you wonder, how many people can I really, truly, honestly be open with?

W2 [dabbing at tears]. I’ve tried to change this before, but… it’s too important to me.

The music’s starting to pick up, just a little.

W1. I actually think marriage is between a man and a woman.

M2. I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.

M4. I already have an idea of what marriage should be. That will never change.

M2. At the end of the day, I think we don’t need to truly be ashamed of how we really feel about things, so… so be you.

M4. No one should be looked down upon. No one should be suppressed, or no one’s views should be suppressed.

M3. I know a lot of people who are gay. I have friends who are gay, I don’t fear them, you know? They’re wonderful people. I love them. What I do feel insecure about is speaking from the heart. And being really open and honest about what I believe.

M2. I mean, I love my friends. Several of them happen to be gay. How would it not be the case that — that the ever-loving Creator, who gave us everything we have, doesn’t love us?

The music’s picking up a little bit more, now with a touch of strings coming in.

M1. Where’s that balance, you know? Where can you say, “No, I’m not going to be a part of this?” but still respect someone?

M3. “Bigoted” is a huge word that gets thrown around. It’s just not true.

M4. You cannot have a society of hatred, or a society of bigotry.

M2. I happen to know what marriage is, and I don’t see how it could change.

W1. The best way to kind of break down all these barriers — [choked up] sorry — is to just get to know people one on one.

W2. [Tearfully] You’re not alone. [Over solemn, tearful shots of the other speakers] You’re not alone. You’re not… alone.

The music swells dramatically as we, too, are moved to tears along with the speakers, and then the final art card:

Speak truth with love.

Catholicvote.org Education Fund

Posted in GLBTQ, Media & Media Literacy, Religion | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Look at them ladies, trying to do science: 2 of 2

Moving on! Just a couple of weeks ago, Nobel Prize-winning scientist Tim Hunt let the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul, South Korea, in on the secret of successful science, and it’s get them skirts out of the lab. Not out of research entirely of course — just into their own, segregated lab, because of the possibility for hot lab bench lovin’. “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls,” he reportedly said (in a speech that was tragically unrecorded, but which took place in front of a big crowd of people who agree that yeah, he totally said that). “You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them, they cry!”

Bitches, amiright?

But again, he doesn’t want to stand in the way of their research — that’s why he wants them to have their own labs, so everyone can get their work done without worrying about the romance. And the crying.

Lest you think that poor Dr. Hunt is being slandered, and that his remarks are being mischaracterized, he assured BBC Radio 4 that while he was “really sorry that [he] said what [he] said,” but that he “did mean” part of his remarks and that he was “just trying to be honest.” Again: You try to be honest, and bitches cry. (This, and their lack of male co-authors on their research manuscripts, is why women will never truly succeed in scientific fields.) He told the interviewer that he had, in fact, fallen in love with people in his lab, and that people had fallen in love with him (primo catch that he is), and that it’s “disruptive to science.”

Hunt resigned his teaching position at University College London and his position on the European Research Council. In the meantime, female scientists took to Twitter to express their displeasure. Astrophysicist Sarah Tuttle gave ‘er in a series of tweets criticizing his “backwards, draconian, and inappropriate” attitudes.

Every one of her tweets on the subject is worth reading. Possibly out loud, as a monologue, with swelling music and applause afterward, if you can arrange it.

Also readable, although slightly less monologuable, are the female scientists who tweeted pictures of themselves on the job, apologizing for being #distractinglysexy. (And yes, before your boner starts writing any notes, I’m sure that a woman in a Hazmat bunny suit can, in fact, be desperately sexy. They’re just going for an effect here.)

(Whatever you do, don’t check out the SkyNews debate between Dr. Emily Grossman and smug bastard Milo Yiannopoulos in which he says that “the science is very much still out” on the question of whether men’s brains are better suited to science than women’s; argues that women are actually “structurally advantaged,” not disadvantaged, in science; argues that if Hunt’s comments discouraged you from a career in science, “um, how committed were you really in the first place…?”; throws in some bizarre comment about how gay people can “basically get away with murder” and can be “bitchy” and “nobody complains”; and says that none of this is a big deal because if Hunt was your granddad at dinner, no one would even notice what he said; and then commenters deluge Dr. Grossman with sexism, antisemitism, bad science, and suggestions that she get back in the kitchen, the existence of which Yiannopoulos denies, saying it’s “right out of the damsel in distress playbook.” Don’t watch that. Just stop after the #distractinglysexy tweets.)

Posted in Education, Sex | Tagged | 2 Comments

Look at them ladies, trying to do science: 1 of 2

This isn’t particularly new, but I couldn’t let it go un-commented-upon because… I guess because I’m a masochist?

Cranking it back to April: Two female scientists had a manuscript (about, interestingly enough, the effect of gender bias on job prospects in scientific fields) rejected by the journal PLOS ONE. The anonymous peer reviewer’s suggestion to bring their manuscript up to par?

It would probably also be beneficial to find one or two male biologists to work with (or at least obtain internal peer review from, but better yet as active co-authors), in order to serve as a possible check against interpretations that may sometimes be drifting too far away from empirical evidence into ideologically biased assumptions.

Authors Dr. Fiona Ingleby, a research fellow at the University of Sussex, and Dr. Megan Head, an evolutionary biologist doing postdoc research at the Australian National University, are not, in fact, men. Either of them. And because of that, the conclusions drawn in their study — that men have better job prospects moving into postdoctoral jobs in science — are automatically questionable. i mean, imagine all of the holes a male colleague could have poked in their methodology! Dr. Ingleby helpfully tweeted excerpts from the rejection letter, I’m guessing to spare other female researchers the trouble she encountered:

… perhaps it is not so surprising that on average male doctoral students co-author one more paper than female doctoral students, just as, on average, male doctoral students can probably run a mile race a bit faster than female doctoral students.

… …

As unappealing as this may be to consider, another possible explanation would be that on average the first-authored papers of men are published in better journals than those of women, either because of bias at the journal or because the papers are indeed of a better quality, on average … And it might well be that on average men publish in better journals … simply because men, perhaps, on average work more hours per week, due to marginally better health and stamina.

Well, if Drs. Ingleby and Head hadn’t, on average, appreciated the way bias may, on average, prevent women’s work from being included, on average, in better journals, they sure as hell get it now. On average. PLOS ONE apologized shortly after the offense came to light and later announced that the peer reviewer in question had been removed from their database, that the researchers’ paper would be given a fresh review from a fresh editor, and that the academic editor who handled the manuscript has been asked to step down from the board. No news yet on the outcome of the re-review, but I bet they have some good ideas for the subject of their next paper.

Posted in Education, Sex | Tagged | Leave a comment

Love Wins: Same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court passed down its ruling on the question of same-sex marriage: By a 5-4 decision, states are required to license same-sex marriages and to honor marriages of same-sex couples from other states. Their ruling in Obergfell v. Hodges calls on the Fourteenth Amendment’s preservation of fundamental liberties and equal protection for all citizens.

Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion, joined by justices Ginsberg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, saying:

(1) The history of marriage as a union between two persons of the opposite sex marks the beginning of these cases. To the respondents, it would demean a timeless institution if marriage were extended to same-sex couples. But the petitioners, far from seeking to devalue marriage, seek it for themselves because of their respect — and need — for its privileges and responsibilities, as illustrated by the petitioners’ own experiences.

(2) The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change. Changes, such as the decline of arranged marriages and the abandonment of the law of coverture, have worked deep transformations in the structure of marriage, affecting aspects of marriage once viewed as essential. These new insights have strengthened, not weakened, the institution. Changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations.

[…]

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

Update: In Georgia, Fulton County (Atlanta area) will be holding a mass wedding ceremony at 1:00 Eastern. The probate court there began issuing licenses minutes after the ruling came in.

In Alabama, marriage licenses are being issued as well. Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Callie Granade ruled that the state’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional but delayed it from taking effect pending the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the matter. Now that it’s official, the Jefferson County (Birmingham area) probate court has begun issuing marriage licenses, and couples are preparing to be married all over town. Couples who married during Alabama’s brief period of legality in February are celebrating that their marriages are now officially and unambiguously legal.

In Texas, Travis County (Austin area) clerks began issuing licenses immediately after the decision (in contradiction of orders from the state Attorney General) and will be offering extended office hours through July 4 to accommodate demand. “Decision Day” events are being held across the state.

Posted in GLBTQ, Law, Marriage | 3 Comments

Confederate battle flags are coming down — in some places

In the wake of last week’s shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, one theme has come up repeatedly: that white supremacist terrorist Dylann Roof often surrounded himself with the Confederate battle flag, that even the license plate on his getaway car had the emblem, and that as he murdered nine people, the flag flew in a place of honor next to South Carolina’s state house.

Days after the shooting, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state house. This was a reversal for Haley, who argued vehemently against the removal of the flag during last year’s campaign for re-election. It’s also a reversal for Sen. Lindsey Graham, who said last week that the flag is “part of who we are” and now calls for removal of the flag as “another step towards healing and recognition.” The state legislature’s official session ended at the beginning of this month, but they’ve remained sitting to resolve a budget issue, and Haley has said that she’ll call them back during the summer, if necessary, to get the flag down, since that’s what it will take.

A bill in 2000 by the South Carolina General Assembly — the South Carolina Heritage Act — in response to lobbying by civil rights activists, removed the huge Confederate flag from the dome of the Capitol. However, the bill also decreed that the flag — 52 inches square, including the white border, because it’s important that such things be legislated — be flown at the Confederate Soldiers’ Monument on the state house grounds. And neither that flag, nor any other Confederate flag, nor any “monument, marker, memorial, school, or street named in honor of the Confederacy or the civil rights movement” on state property can be “removed, changed, or renamed” without a two-thirds vote from the General Assembly. And, indeed, when the U.S. and South Carolina flags were lowered to half mast in remembrance of those killed at Emanuel AME, the Confederate flag stayed where it was next to the state house. Padlocked in place.

And that’s why, in a move that might shock a lot of people, one of the first Southern states to actually get the flag off of the flagpole was… Alabama. This morning, without fanfare, the Confederate battle flag was removed from a memorial on the state capitol grounds. Gov. Robert Bentley, who gave the order to have it removed, says he checked to make sure his order was clear with state policy before giving the go-ahead, and says, “This is the right thing to do.”

(Shortly after the flag — and three other Civil War-era flags — was removed, a protester from the Sons of Confederate Veterans showed up with his own Confederate flag. He called the removal a “violation of Confederate history” and “a violation of [his] heritage.”)

In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal said Tuesday that he would call for a redesign of the state’s specialty Sons of Confederate Veterans tag, which was first issued in February of last year. He says the new design will remove the big image of the flag that covered the entire plate and leave only the smaller image that’s on the plate on top of the big one, because God forbid you should get in a pinch and find yourself without redundant Confederate flags. The announcement came about half an hour after he announced that he wouldn’t support changes to the plate, saying that his “position hasn’t changed” since he opposed such changes during last year’s election campaign. Georgia removed the image of the Confederate flag from its state flag in 2001, because again, redundant flaggage is important.

Governors in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Maryland have all announced plans to change or remove similar license plates in their state. Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina governors have expressed no plans to keep or remove theirs, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal punted on the question.

In Mississippi, a moveon.org petition is calling for the removal of the Confederate emblem from the Mississippi state flag. Their flag had used the emblem since 1894, but it was officially adopted in 2001, possibly to make sure they would never find themselves like Georgia with just the one flag on their flag. Former Gov. Haley Barbour said that the Confederate emblem on Mississippi’s flag was different from emblems on other flags, because the flag has been in place for more than 100 years and was not “stimulated by the Civil Rights movement,” which of course makes all the difference when you’re a black person in Mississippi looking up at your state flag. State legislators, however, are increasingly of the opinion that the flag needs to change anyway. Says state Sen. Kenny Jones, “In 2001, the conversation centered around the flag being disrespectful and appalling to African-Americans, but at the same time it was about the heritage to the white community. Now, the conversation is different. Now it’s about how this symbol represents hatred, violence and bigotry. Now it’s about what can we do to make our state more progressive but in a bipartisan way.”

Of course, we can’t lull ourselves into the belief that removing the flag will actually eliminate racism — as observed in, for instance, Texas, which denied a Confederate flag license plate to the Sons of Confederate Veterans in 2009 but also watched a cop kneel on the back of a 14-year-old black girl in a bikini at a pool party just a few weeks ago, so maybe some work is still needed there. Dylann Roof probably would have still murdered nine black people in a church whether or not his getaway car had a Confederate flag license plate, and the KKK will still have a flag to rally under even when it’s no longer flying in front of the South Carolina state house. And removing the institutional racism symbolized by the flag doesn’t change voter ID laws, legislative redistricting, or police violence, which take a lot more nuance, empathy, and cooperation than pulling down 2,700 square inches of fabric.

But an accomplishment is an accomplishment, a milestone is a milestone, and removing an emblem of violence, bigotry, and division from the official standard representing states full of actual people is an unquestionably good thing. Whether you personally see it as an issue of heritage or an issue of hatred, you should be able to accept that asking people to stand proudly under a flag overtly representing the battle to enslave their ancestors is out of line. That state governments are only now starting to address that fact, that it took racist murders in a church to get the ball rolling, is shameful, but it’s better late than never. The people of Alabama and South Carolina will soon learn, as so many people in other states have done, that grits will still taste good, cicadas will still sound good, Saturdays in the fall will still be a lousy time for a wedding, and beloved ancestors will remain beloved long after the Confederate battle flag is no longer state sanctioned. And as a bonus, a huge red square with a huge blue X on it is a pretty handy way of identifying people you probably want to avoid. So good job, y’all, and don’t stop quite yet.

Posted in Racism, Terrorism | Tagged , | 22 Comments

White supremacist murders nine people at Emanuel AME Church in an act of terrorism

On Wednesday, a shooter entered Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and killed nine people during a weekly Bible study. Emanuel, like so many other black churches, has been the target of racial violence in the past — most famously, it was burned to the ground in 1822 in retribution for a planned slave revolt — and no matter what people might like to convince themselves, it was again this week. It wasn’t about religion, it wasn’t about politics. It wasn’t, to any extent that authorities can determine, about any one individual. It was about hatred. The alleged killer, known and open white supremacist Dylann Roof, sat with his victims for an hour that night in Bible study, and then stood up and opened fire, saying to one man, “No, you’ve raped our women, and you are taking over the country … I have to do what I have to do.” And then killed him.

That was Tywanza Sanders, a recent Allen University graduate who jumped in front of his aunt, Susie Jackson, to shield her when the shooting started. They both died alongside the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, senior pastor at Emanuel and a South Carolina state senator; Emanuel pastors Rev. Daniel Simmons and Myra Thompson; high school girls track coach Sharon Coleman-Singleton; public library employee Cynthia Hurd; longtime church member Ethel Lance; and retired community program development director Depayne Middleton Doctor. Those are not the only victims at “Mother Emanuel” — families mourn, and a community will never be the same — but they’re the ones who were killed.

In the Washington Post, Anthea Butler writes about the media’s treatment of the shooting, and others like it, not as an act of terrorism but as the action of one tragic figure. (“We don’t know his mental condition,” one MSNBC anchor pointed out, and he was found with a pill bottle possibly filled with a drug used to treat opiate addiction, so of course we have to give him that, and how many other outs can we find to make him soft and sympathetic? Let’s workshop.) Senator Lindsey Graham dismissed Roof as “just one of those whacked-out kids,” just a “young man who was obviously twisted.” White supremacists took to the Internet yesterday hoping that the killings weren’t motivated by race but by religion or anything else, so there you go, deniers, you’re in good company. (The link goes safely to the Huffington Post, but trigger warning there for GAAAAH.)

Dylann Roof might well have had a mental illness. (We don’t know for sure one way or the other, but of course we’re going to give him the benefit of the doubt, because it’s much easier to demonize people with mental illnesses than to accept that sane people do evil things.) Plenty of people do and still manage to not post hatred on Facebook, terrorize communities, and take lives. For that matter, we know that the vast majority of people who commit violence don’t have mental illnesses, and people with mental illnesses are far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators.

And for that matter, society rarely if ever speculates about the mental health of dark-skinned terrorists who commit atrocities within the U.S. They’re just terrorists. They’re straight-up evil. They belong to a hateful religion, they’re enemy combatants, they hate us for our freedoms. White people die in terrorist attacks and at the hands of “thugs,” and brown people die in “parking disputes,” and tragedies. They die in “unfathomable” acts.

Dylann Roof was a terrorist. He was a white supremacist. He told the police that he went to Emanuel that day to start a race war. He planned his attack at length, purchased his weapon, and sat quietly for an hour before attacking, reloading five times as he did. As he was leaving the church, he asked one of the three survivors if he’d shot her, and when she said no, he said, “I’m not going to kill you, I’m going to spare you, so you can tell them what happened.” In an AME church, 193 years and one day after the planned Vesey slave revolt, 150 years minus two days after Juneteenth, as the Confederate flag flew over the South Carolina state house, Dylann Roof killed nine people who had welcomed him into their church not just because he hated their skin but because he hated the people to which they belonged. It was a hate crime intended to leave a community, a whole country, in a state of terror. And yes, it was absolutely a tragedy, but it’s a tragedy with far deeper meaning than just one whacked-out kid of indeterminate mental state.

Posted in Racism, Terrorism | 32 Comments

Q&A: Talking to a Gamer Girl?

Romance is tough enough, but when one hails from a culture notorious for misogyny and entitlement, sometimes refreshers on the basics of dating are necessary. So when one bloke asked us for advice on talking to gamer girls, we did what any supportive friend would do – we circulated his question amongst our geek feminist friends, seeking unfiltered input on how to level up one’s social skills. The result was this video, though for speed readers we’ve included an equally amusing transcript…

PROBLEM

gamer girls are “hot”. but how to talk to one before asking her out is a question as age-old as geekdom.
one guy sent this exact question to us recently. we opted to forward it to our gamer girl mates on campus.

SOLUTION

later at our weekly LAN party, they came up with 5 tips for how to talk to a gamer girl without messing up.

JENNIFER H.

“you may find a girl gamer attractive, but don’t talk to her just because you want access to her vagina.”
“talk to her because you’re interested in her ideas and stuff. we know when your penis is doing the talking.”
“if you just want to mate with her, talk with her anyway so she realises you think she’s a walking sex doll.”

CIARA M.

“don’t step into her personal space or block her way whilst talking to her. you’ll look like a major creep.”
“she might not object. but most women learn to act polite to avoid angering men, to avoid being raped.”
“if unsure, ask if she’s comfortable with the space you’re taking up. respect builds trust for later. hint, hint.”

BRYNNE C.

“no sex jokes. nothing kills the mood like asking a girl if you can run sniffers to see if her ports are open.”
“avoid talking down to her, or assuming pink is her favourite colour. treat a girl gamer with respect.”
“show interest in what interests her and she’ll more likely do the same for you. she may even like you.”

KATRINA R.

“if she needs to go, don’t offer to go with her unless she asks. you’ll sound like a sex offender otherwise.”
“plan to friend her online? let her know beforehand. girls get many friend requests from strange men.”
“and keep your Twitter free of rape threats against women, unless the girl you like supports #gamergate.”

MELISSA A.

“look, gamer girls are people. they’ll talk with you more if you talk with them about smart, interesting things.”
“it won’t guarantee a gamer girl will like you. but it’ll improve your odds, by approximately 900 per cent.”
“learn to carry conversations that inspire our attention, and you shall be as strong as Obi-Wan.”

Have your own suggestions? Post away in the comments.

And don’t worry that we’re focusing only on the concerns of cisgender men. All genders are pretty bad at this relationship business, as we’re certain future instalments will reveal.

“Q&A” is an on-going effort to bring more original content to Feministe, via conversations with other feminists. If you wish to send hate mail, please direct to the Republican Rape Caucus.

Posted in Dating, relationships | 55 Comments

Kids, consent, and hugging Grandma whether you want to or not

When it comes to kids and hugs, I fall strongly, strongly on the side of “only if they want to.” I’m a hugger under many circumstances, and the U.S. Deep South certainly encourages it. That said, I’m not an indiscriminate hugger, and even as an adult woman I resent being expected to submit to hugs when I don’t want to as a condition of friendliness, or because the hugger is old/”harmless”/etc.

I remember when a friend’s daughter got her first lesson about inappropriate touching at school. (This was an actual, sit-down-with-the-preschoolers talk, not a traumatizing object lesson, thank God.) Her mother told me the girl had been instructing pretty much everyone she’d seen for the past several days, “You can’t touch my body.” And, in fact, the next time she came into the room, she told me matter-of-factly that I can’t touch her body, which I’m perfectly fine with. And I loved it. Not just because it was adorable to see a four-year-old delivering that kind of solemn instruction, but that a) she’d gotten that information at all, and b) she had no compunctions about asserting her bodily autonomy with anyone, regardless of circumstances.

My great-grandmother (God rest her) detested being hugged. She was tiny and physically kind of fragile, plus she was in her eighties at that point and reasonably didn’t feel that she should really be required to do much of anything. Newcomers were instructed that instead of hugging, they would bow, “like businessmen in Japan.” Occasionally, her cane was brandished to reinforce the message. And everyone would have a chuckle about the eccentric old lady but honor her request.

So it would appear that you have to make it into your eighties before people start really respecting your authority over your own body (if even then). That’s a lot of time to be expected to put up with unwelcome touching.

The really frustrating thing to me is parents who won’t even let you respect their kids’ bodily integrity. The ones who respond to “It’s really okay, she doesn’t have to hug me” with “No, she has to learn to be polite.” No, seriously, I want no part in teaching your kid that she has to submit to being touched whether she wants to or not, and that allowing someone to put their hands on you is an issue of politeness. And at Everyday Feminism, James St. James outlines seven specific reasons why Your Child Should Never Be Forced to Hug Anyone. (Trigger warning at the link for sexual violence against children.)

1. It Teaches Your Child That They Don’t Have Control Over Their Own Bodies

[…]

2. It Implies That You (Or Adults in General) Have the Right to Touch Your Child How They Want, When They Want

[…]

3. It Tells Them That Relatives Can’t Be Abusers

[…]

4. It Disregards Your Child’s Comfort Zone

[…]

5. It Risks Dismantling Their Natural, Healthy Sense of Stranger Danger

[…]

6. It Ignores Any Important, Subtle Cues Your Child Is Trying to Tell You

[…]

7. It Sends the Message That Hugging (Or Physical Contact in General) Is the Only Way to Show Affection or Appreciation for Another Person

In short, forcing a kid to hug or kiss someone they don’t want to hug or kiss isn’t just annoying and disrespectful to them — it’s dangerous, teaching them that they don’t have control over their own bodies and that being touched against their will is something they’re expected to just accept if it’s a family member or friend. It teaches them to turn off the part of their brain that says, “This doesn’t feel right,” in favor of the part that says, “Adults I trust say I’m supposed to let this happen, because it’s okay.”

A blog post by Katie Hetter (lengthy, reasoned, and research-heavy) offers similar reasoning — that teaching that touching is a required element of politeness, and that it’s the only acceptable way of showing affection, and that reluctance to touch someone is a sign of rudeness and not a host of other concerns, endangers their ability to exert agency when the situation isn’t as simple as greeting Grandma. And she points out that there are plenty of ways for a kid to politely acknowledge a person’s arrival or departure and demonstrate respect with a handshake or even no physical contact at all.

My friend’s daughter was, particularly when she was little, extremely shy and physically withdrawn around new people, and the first time she ran up to me and gave me a hug was kind of momentous — because she was doing it voluntarily and exuberantly, and because she’d become comfortable enough around me that she wanted to do it. But even if she’d never done it, I wouldn’t have taken it personally, because sometimes a person just doesn’t want to hug you. If her mother (who was very attentive and aware of her daughter’s emotional state) wasn’t concerned, I wasn’t concerned. It was exciting enough to get the occasional high-five from her. Maybe we would have even worked our way up to bowing.

Posted in Parenthood, Rape Culture, relationships | 13 Comments