Open Thread with Royle’s Pika

This month an adorable Ochotona roylei from Tungnath, Rudraprayag district, Uttarkhand state, India features for our Open Thread. Please natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything* you like over the next month or so.

a small and cute rodent-like animal sits on a rock

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 our Open Threads, 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 | 16 Comments

White men with guns

White cis Christian men with guns are simply too big a threat to the rest of us. They gun down black church-goers. They shoot up Planned Parenthood, injuring several cops (and still get taken alive, because apparently that’s not as big a threat as a 12-year-old black kid with a toy gun). They kill people for no discernible reason. When they have badges, and even when they don’t, they kill unarmed black men and women. They kill waitresses for asking them not to smoke. They kill random people because they can’t get laid. They shoot up their schools. They kill their own children and former wives. And then members of that group, that same group, white cis Christian men who are pro-gun, have the balls to publicly question the morality and motives of other people.

And I’m so tired of it. I’m tired of following these news stories. I’m tired of getting minute-by-minute news on Twitter. I’m tired of seeing innocent people turned into hashtags. But if white, Christian, pro-gun, cis men can go on TV and question the integrity of Syrian refugees and US Muslims on the basis of nothing rational whatsoever, if France feels justified using its state of emergency to police environmental groups, then I feel perfectly justified here in calling white Christian men with guns out as the menace they are. Because they exist at the perfect intersection of a number of self-satisfied, entitled, rage-filled streets, and they do these things and then their brethren have the nerve to call the rest of us irrational, emotional, dangerous, subhuman.

And somehow in movies and on TV, we still pretend they’re the good guys. It’s sickening. I’ve always been anti-gun. And I know some regular commenters on this site have always argued strongly for the importance of gun ownership. I’m beginning to think they’re right. Guns aren’t the problem. White cis Christian men having them is the problem.

Fair warning: I’m going to completely wipe any comment accusing me of reverse racism, misandry, cisphobia, or any such imaginary nonsense. I’m tired and angry. You don’t like this characterization? Then reign in the men who keep making the news.

Posted in Crime, Terrorism | 1 Comment

Day of Thanksgiving/Mourning

Tomorrow, many people in the U.S. will gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, a sanitized version of a fictionalized account of an encounter between English settlers and the Wampanoag people already living on the land that was being “settled” that was the beginning of centuries of murder, abuse, and outright genocide. And while being thankful for what you have is good, celebrating it by dressing children up in construction-paper feathers and decorating with dried “maize” is a not-good, and in fact bad, way of doing it.

Tomorrow in Plymouth, Massachusetts — home of that first cross-cultural dinner party — a National Day of Mourning, organized by the United American Indians of New England, will draw attention to historical and current attitudes, treatments, and issues facing Native Americans.

The event has happened since the early 1970s, when Frank James, a Wampanoag leader, was barred from giving a speech that portrayed Europeans unfavorably at an event celebrating the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival.

“There’s nothing wrong with having a meal with friends and family, and I would say especially for many of us where our families have survived genocide, it’s so important for us to be able to sit down with each other and be grateful that we have food and to enjoy spending time with each other,” said Mahtowin Munro, a co-leader of United American Indians of New England, the group that organizes the event, who has attended every year since the 1980s.

“The real underlying issue is the mythology; there’s a view that we’re this big melting pot country, or there’s a view that the Natives and the Pilgrims lived happily ever after and the Native people just evaporated into the woods or something to make way for the Pilgrims and all of the other aspects of the European invasion,” she continued. “All around the country, schools continue to dress up their children in little Pilgrim and Indian costumes and the Indians welcome the Pilgrims and they all sit down together and everybody says ‘Isn’t that cute, that’s so nice.’ That’s not at all what happened.”

(James was not only not allowed to given his original prepared speech but was, in fact, given a different, far fluffier speech to deliver; he declined to do so and thus was not allowed to speak.)

Following the event, many attendees will stay for a feast planned by the event organizers, and some will go home for Thanksgiving/day-of-giving-thanks dinner with their family.

Ramona Peters, a tribal historic preservation officer for the Mashpee Wampanoag, said that highlighting the horrific treatment of Native Americans won’t stop her tribe from having a celebration to give thanks — something it did long before the Pilgrims arrived and does multiple times each year, not just on the day recognized as Thanksgiving.

The celebration started on the weekend before the holiday, with some Wampanoag going to church dressed in regalia to pray and then to a traditional fire where members of the tribe can gather to give thanks for the season — an event that can last multiple days.

While Peters said that she’s angry at the way that Native Americans were treated, she’s proud that the United States has a holiday to give thanks.

“As far as actually extending friendliness, I don’t want to be embarrassed or ashamed of that as a Wampanoag person,” she said. “It’s part of our culture and we had been that way long before they arrived and we still are.”

Additionally: Oglala Lakota Tim Giago writes about the reality of Thanksgiving for many Native Americans in the Rapid City Journal. Adrienne Keene at Native Appropriations addresses the impact of reducing indigenous cultures into an “Indian” costume. And Julian Brave NoiseCat writes about issues facing Native Americans “beyond mascots and casinos.”

Posted in Holidays & Celebrations, Race & Ethnicity, Racism | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

REVIEW: The New Order (2014)

After months in development hell, the first instalment of our feminist game review series has arrived! Was it worth the wait, and work? We hope so, but we ask you to judge – after all, we’ll be uploading stuff like this for the next few months, and we’d prefer it not suck. Just be forewarned this first episode involves Nazism, robots, ableist prejudice and Jewish mysticism, with a large helping of assault rifles…


OVERVIEW ► released in Q1 2014, “Wolfenstein: The New Order” portrays an alternate timeline where Nazis won WW2, resulting in a global Nazi empire. upon its release, the game received widespread acclaim not only for its polished gameplay, but also the depth of its narrative and characters. unlike most WW2 games that ignore the role of Nazism and racism, “The New Order” frankly portrays Nazi ideology and its human impact. whilst the hero, B.J., may resemble a typical beefcake male, he works alongside characters from different backgrounds, races and genders. this unexpectedly varied cast helps “The New Order” to engage with themes rarely seen in videogames, such as racism, ableism and anti-Semitism. in an industry often criticised for lazy ideas, “The New Order” shows how giving visibility to traditionally ignored groups can improve gaming.

VISIBILITY ► whilst a white, male hero might not seem too inspired, B.J.’s reaction to Jewish artefacts and Hebrew indicate he too is Jewish, a rarity in games. B.J.’s closest ally is Anya. far from being a sex object, Anya is a former PhD student who becomes a vital part of the underground resistance. female villains such as Nazi officer Frau are also depicted, though the game thankfully avoids the trope of “bad girls” as sexualised seductresses. less depicted are people of colour, due to the game’s Nazi setting. still, such characters have moments that help to individualise their identities. the game also engages with ableism, through the depiction of characters with disabilities and the impact of Nazism on their lives as a result. such characters aren’t window dressing or helpless victims to be rescued. rather, they take significant and active roles in shaping the narrative.

AGENCY ► the game’s narrative revolves around B.J., but his success depends on his allies, most of whom get ample time to shine despite their circumstances. B.J.’s friend Caroline commands the resistance. despite being paraplegic and female, she is depicted as skilled in leading her group to victories. Caroline later uses advanced tech to augment her mobility. but the game makes sure to demonstrate she is as capable before upgrading as after. people of colour are also depicted, albeit with less agency. one character is an African ex-soldier, yet spends half his time literally sitting around. unlike most WW2 games, religion is central to “The New Order”. B.J. realises the Nazis won WW2 by stealing technology from an ancient Jewish sect. though Jews as hoarders of power is an old stereotype, “The New Order” engages it in ways that actually help to humanise its Jewish characters.

PROGRESS ► whilst it excels in depicting characters from different backgrounds, “The New Order” is far from the first game to bring depth to its narrative. “Half-Life 2” from 2004 is one recognisable influence, depicting a dystopia where people from all walks of life must cooperate to resist genocide. “The New Order” makes clear its characters are more than mere tokenism. the game’s ending suggests they will be central to future sequels. the game is also part of a broader trend in gaming today, of including characters with whom women and minority gamers can relate and identify. this marriage of gameplay with compelling narrative is one reason “The New Order” has received over 45 nominations and awards since release. in the end, “The New Order” demonstrates how studios can benefit from having more empowering female and minority roles in their games.

Generally, if a game offers strong commentary on certain issues, we’ll focus more on those strengths than on its flaws. For “Wolfenstein: The New Order”, for instance, we could have criticised the lack of LGBT representation, but since it does a damn fine job with addressing racism and ableism, we focused on those issues instead.

(On the other hand, if a game had no strengths, we wouldn’t hesitate to shred it for failing in every regard, including the LGBT regard.)

For those interested in the behind-the-scenes, we wrote on Tumblr about project decisions we made along the way, driven by YouTube’s hostility as a space for women in general and feminism in particular. For those wondering how that hostility drove our design, here are some relevant bits…

…we knew that despite gaming being a statistically female-dominated hobby… Straight White Boys™ still consider gaming to be their domain… The most common attack levelled at gamer girls who critique games is that girls aren’t “real” gamers – they’re filthy casuals, not hardcore fanatics with the encyclopaedic knowledge of gaming and technology that men enjoy, and thus any insight gamer girls have to offer is illegitimate…

For personal credibility, we made the decision to *not* have an onscreen persona that could be attacked – thus forcing critics to attack us over substance, not style… we don’t do facecams, which means critics have no angle to attack our hair, makeup or other inconsequentialities…

For gaming credibility, we played our games at their highest default difficulties… If you’re female and thinking of delving into YouTube’s gaming sphere, consider doing the same. In fact, we consider this important enough that we developed a companion series, SLOW MOTION KILLS, for the sole purpose of showing off leftover footage demonstrating our gaming prowess…

Oh, right – this review series has a companion series, for haters who question our gamer-ness. To show how elite we are, we crammed all the kills from our footage into a slow-motion montage of French music and bullet ballets. If your younger brother’s sole interest in games is in the carnage, rest assured we’ve covered his needs…

Meanwhile, look out for our next instalment in a few weeks. If you’re curious as to which title we’ll cover next, here’s a hint: crowbar.

Posted in Entertainment, Popular Culture | 9 Comments

Betty Peters hates Common Core, PowerPoint, and “counting up”

Alabama School Board member Betty Peters really, really hates Common Core. Like, a lot. A lot. No, seriously, you really can’t appreciate how much she hates Common Core. And it’s because the homosexualists are trying to make our sons wear outfits, and do math in stupid ways that didn’t get us to the moon, and the SPLC and their PowerPoint presentations full of charts, and we have to stand up for our children.

“I understand Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi are the three Southern states targeted by the radical, left, homosexualists to change our students’ perspective,” Peters said. “We have gone past gay, lesbian and bi-sexual and we’re now into gender fluid spectrum.”


“The Southern Poverty Law Center is going to be developing your children or grandchild or neighbors’ children into little social activists for social justice, as they define it, or else transgender stuff,” Peters said, as she distributed a coloring book sheet with pictures of a variety of clothing items.

“This is part of teaching tolerance for transgenderism to four to eight year olds,” Peters said. “The students are given color crayons and two handouts. They students are supposed to color the photos of the clothes they want to wear.

“You will notice these are called outfits,” Peters said. “I have never asked my son or my husband what ‘outfit’ they are going to wear. This is just crazy. I think all this stuff is mainly written by whacky feminists.[“]


“As I said when I first campaigned and I’ve said it every time since, we need to get back to the basics: Reading, writing and arithmetic from first grade on,” Peters said. “We need to be teaching the ‘c’ part which is Christian values, not Muslim values, not transgender values. We need to be teaching the old Biblical values.[“]


“Our nation has gone to Gomorrah and it’s up to us to turn it around,” she said referring to one of two ancient cities near the Dead Sea that were cited in the Bible as being destroyed by God as a punishment for the wickedness of their inhabitants. “There are enough voters out there who think like we do and we have just got to take our children back.

“Stand up. Don’t be afraid of upsetting the school. The schools cannot exist without students. It’s your responsibility to shield your child and preserve his or her innocence as long as you can,” Peters said. “They’re growing up way too fast and it’s not good.”

Yeah, that’s why Alabama public education ranks 45th in the country, and U.S. students are solidly lukewarm on an international scale: outfits and “counting up.” Won’t someone think of the children?

Posted in Education, Gender, Trans | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Q&A: Why Girls Join ISIS?

In our final instalment, we somehow ended up talking with a 12-year-old about Muslim women’s role in geopolitical affairs. And shockingly, it did not turn out horribly



SKiDROW: Hello, I’m SKiDROW.

TK-576: And I’m TK.

SKiDROW: What are we doing today?

TK-576: You’re recording me talking about myself.

SKiDROW: Yeah, because you say such baffling things that your mates deserve to hear.

TK-576: Well, I like talking when I’m relaxing.

SKiDROW: Killing people in CoD helps you to relax?

TK-576: That, and talking about girls.

SKiDROW: Well, we can talk about girls’ makeup again.

TK-576: Nah, I’d rather we talk about something manly, like zombies or ISIS.

SKiDROW: You think ISIS is manly?

TK-576: It’s definitely a manlier topic than makeup.

SKiDROW: I guess that’s technically true.

TK-576: I just don’t understand how no one’s beaten ISIS.

SKiDROW: Hey, ISIS is popular. Folks around the world keep joining, sometimes even women.

TK-576: Women must have crazy reasons for joining.

SKiDROW: What are those reasons, you think?

TK-576: Well, ISIS does lots of killing. I guess ISIS women are into that kind of stuff.

SKiDROW: Is killing the only thing ISIS does?

TK-576: That’s mostly what I see on TV.

SKiDROW: I’m sure ISIS does other things, like governing the new country they have.

TK-576: ISIS has a country?

SKiDROW: They created a country, the Islamic State.

TK-576: The Islamic State, huh?

SKiDROW: Yeah.

TK-576: That sounds boring. It’s like Montana calling itself the White People State.

SKiDROW: Well, if you got a country, you do have to do the boring job of running it.

TK-576: By killing enemies?

SKiDROW: By making sure stuff like water and electricity work. You don’t only kill people.

TK-576: So if ISIS has a country, women who join ISIS are really moving to a new country.

SKiDROW: They think they’re starting fresh lives in a new society, like early Pilgrims in America.

TK-576: Yeah, if the Pilgrims had assault rifles.

SKiDROW: Well, not all Pilgrims were into ethnic cleansing.

TK-576: So anyway, ISIS women want a new life.

SKiDROW: Yeah, killing is not always their main interest, even if they are moving to a war zone.

TK-576: They must not like their old countries, if they’re fine with moving to a war zone.

SKiDROW: I don’t think folks join ISIS if they like their old countries.

TK-576: What countries are they from that are so crappy?

SKiDROW: A lot of them are from Iraq.

TK-576: Oh, yeah. That place is definitely crappy.

SKiDROW: The way their Shiite leaders keep screwing over the Sunnis probably isn’t helping.

TK-576: Did you just use the S word?

SKiDROW: I said Shiites and Sunnis. They’re like Catholics and Protestants who don’t get along.

TK-576: Yeah, Grandma says Catholics and Protestants love killing each other.

SKiDROW: Well, in Iraq, most leaders are Shiites, since the U.S. military put them in charge.

TK-576: Are they racist against Sunnis?

SKiDROW: After the U.S. left, the Shiite government kicked out thousands of Sunnis, including soldiers.

TK-576: So unemployed soldiers joined ISIS?

SKiDROW: If your country’s army basically fires you, ISIS begins to look like a good alternative.

TK-576: Hmm, I can see that Iraq discriminating against those guys was a bad idea.

SKiDROW: That’s why ISIS is good at killing. They have qualified soldiers leading them.

TK-576: Does ISIS really need women if they’re fighting everyone all the time?

SKiDROW: ISIS needs people. They’re fighting to grow their country, and they need women for that.

TK-576: Imagine if black folks get sick of being killed by police and start their own ISIS.

SKiDROW: Well, if anyone thinks we’re wrong on women and ISIS, leave comments below.

TK-576: Hmm. This was a downer, all this talk of killing.

SKiDROW: Hey, your game’s almost over.

TK-576: Hold on, let me nuke everyone first.

If you found this miniseries to be a cringe-worthy wreck, don’t worry – we’re already moving onto our next project, which we’ll finally have a chance to unveil on Feministe on Saturday. After being stuck in development hell for so long that even our parents were starting to dismiss our project as vapourware, we look forward to being able to show off what we’ve been doing for the past few months.

Stay tuned!

“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 Religion, Terrorism, War | Tagged | 9 Comments

Speaking of women and pain…

…turns out, anesthesiologists now say yes, women and anyone else giving birth can eat during labor. Apparently, making sure one has access to nutrients when engaging in difficult physical activity can actually be beneficial! Who could have imagined?

It wouldn’t have made any difference to me–when I was lying on the table waiting for my C-section, I threw up everything in my stomach anyway (pity the poor med student who had to hold the bucket for me; oh, fuck that–pity me), because there’s something terrifying about lying down, unable to move, knowing people are about to slice you open and gut you, even if you know it’s for the best of all reasons and they are only trying to help you. And because my situation was high-risk, I don’t know if this would’ve applied to me even if I hadn’t had to have had a C-section, but it’s good to know for regular pregnancy and labor.

The linked press release talks about advances in anesthesia, but also notes those advances are decades old–using epidurals and spinal blocks rather than anesthesia given in a mask over nose and mouth. So, you know, it’s about time the medical wisdom caught up.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Women’s pain, who cares?

This article in the Atlantic, about how medical professionals take women’s pain significantly less seriously than men’s, is interesting. It combines a quite chilling personal story with statistics. For instance, did you know that in the US, men wait an average of 49 minutes before receiving painkiller for acute abdominal pain while women wait an average of 65 minutes? I didn’t. The author also links to this 2001 paper, “The Girl Who Cried Pain,” about systemic sexism in pain management. Apparently, even though evidence suggests that women are more sensitive to pain than men, we’re less likely to be prescribed painkillers and more likely to be prescribed, wait for it, sedatives. Because the ladies, we’re crazy, you know (pejorative association intended)–we make shit up. It’s all in our pretty little heads.

And if it’s like this for white women, well, I’d lay money it’s worse for black women. We know that according to this ABC article and this study at CHoP, black and Latino children receive pain medication significantly less frequently than their white peers reporting the same symptoms. Do we think it’s any better for black and Latino women once they reach adulthood?

There’s nothing virtuous about suffering. There’s no reason to suffer if you don’t have to. But this country is obsessed with people faking pain to get drugs. And as we all know, some of us are considered less trustworthy about our own experiences than others.

Posted in General | 7 Comments

Q&A: Why Girls Wear Leggings?

We tried talking with a younger sibling about something sexism-related, before the sexist conditioning of secondary school could infect his young mind. But perhaps we were too late



SKiDROW: Hello, SKiDROW here.

TK-576: And this is TK.

SKiDROW: How’s the weather outside, mate?

TK-576: According to our window, it’s sunny and nice.

SKiDROW: Yet here we are indoors, killing people in videogames.

TK-576: Well, this is our bonding time, right?

SKiDROW: You got anything you’d like to talk about as we bond over killing?

TK-576: Actually I’ve been wondering why girls wear gym clothes like leggings to school.

SKiDROW: Did you say leggings?

TK-576: I see girls wearing them at school, even when there’s no gym class.

SKiDROW: Well, why do you think girls wear leggings?

TK-576: I don’t know, maybe to keep them warm? Personally I think they look ridiculous.

SKiDROW: I imagine people in general wear clothes because they’re comfortable.

TK-576: Well, you can wear comfortable things that don’t look ridiculous.

SKiDROW: Okay. Why do you think guys wear muscle shirts?

TK-576: Muscle shirts? You mean shirts without sleeves?

SKiDROW: Yeah, I think Americans call them wife-beaters.

TK-576: Well, guys who wear sleeveless muscle shirts are trying to showcase their muscles.

SKiDROW: So when you wear shirts without sleeves, it’s to show off your muscles?

TK-576: Well, no. For me, shirts without sleeves feel cooler on hot days.

SKiDROW: Okay. Guys wear muscle shirts to stay cool. Girls wear leggings to stay warm.

TK-576: Yeah, but shirts and leggings are different.

SKiDROW: How so? Are leggings more distracting?

TK-576: Yes, lots.


TK-576: Leggings make the shapes of girls’ bodies distracting.

SKiDROW: So when Mum wears leggings during yoga, she’s distracting you?

TK-576: No, but when girls at school wear them, they’re distracting.

SKiDROW: Well, aren’t girls just as distracted when guys wear muscle shirts?

TK-576: Girls aren’t as easily distracted, though.

SKiDROW: So when a guy sees girls in leggings, he can’t pay attention to his maths class?

TK-576: Correct, that’s how the world works.

SKiDROW: I’m not sure, mate. That sounds like a double standard.

TK-576: How so?

SKiDROW: Well, you said girls shouldn’t wear leggings because they distract boys.

TK-576: I said it makes their bodies distracting.

SKiDROW: So why are you okay with guys wearing muscle shirts?

TK-576: What do you mean?

SKiDROW: Don’t girls find muscle shirts distracting, the way guys find leggings distracting?

TK-576: I don’t think girls are distracted by guys’ clothing the way guys are distracted by girls’ clothing.

SKiDROW: I’m pretty sure you’ve never met a K-pop fan, then.

TK-576: Oh God, why are you bringing them up?

SKiDROW: Well, girl fans definitely fawn over which male K-pop stars dress the hottest.

TK-576: Okay, some girls are into guys’ clothing, but guys are still more distracted by girls’ clothing

SKiDROW: By your logic, women should avoid going to college, because they cause campus rape.

TK-576: What? How?

SKiDROW: Well, heterosexual guys are likelier to commit rape if girls are around, right?

TK-576: Yeah, what’s your point?

SKiDROW: So by your logic, we should ban girls from college, so they don’t distract guys into raping.

TK-576: Hmm. Yeah, I can see how that logic is racist.

SKiDROW: You mean sexist.

TK-576: You know what I meant.

SKiDROW: Do you see now why blaming girls’ clothing for distracting you is ridiculous?

TK-576: I said their leggings distract guys. I didn’t say they distract me specifically.

SKiDROW: Sure. Anyway, if anyone disagrees with my brother’s logic, leave comments below.

TK-576: I still think leggings are ridiculous. They don’t look thick enough to keep you warm.

SKiDROW: Shouldn’t you pay more attention to who you’re killing in your game?

TK-576: I’m preparing to nuke everyone on this map anyway.

Still trying to comprehend why American parents think boys are preferable to girls.

“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 Beauty, Body image | Tagged | 8 Comments

Every time Tina Healy comes out to her mom, it’s great

Tina Healy, a disability support worker and an advocate for Gender Diversity Australia, came out as transgender three and a half years ago. But she comes out to her mother every few weeks — her mother has Alzheimer’s, and her dementia started developing two years ago, around the time Healy first came out to her. Healy visits her mother every few weeks, and every time she does, she comes out again, and every time she does, she gets the “same, beautiful” response.

“When I told her I was a woman, she just looked at me and said, ‘Oh, what do you know? I’ve got a beautiful new daughter!” Healy said. “I started to cry, and she pulled me to her shoulder and said ‘Cry it out, dear. Cry it out.’ My partner at the time cried as well.”

Healy added that after crying, her mother, who used to be a “beautiful seamstress,” then said, ‘Well, now you’re going to need some new clothes! What do you need?”

Posted in GLBTQ, Trans | 8 Comments

Q&A: Why Girls Need Makeup?

How old is the youngest human to post or comment on Feministe? Jill was somewhere in her twenties when she started this blog. Some of our mates were teens when they began commenting here. But today’s post likely takes the cake – for involving a 12-year-old boy pontificating on gender in society. We’re not making this up



SKiDROW: Greetings, this is SKiDROW.

TK-576: And I’m TK.

SKiDROW: Today I’m recording some of the baffling things my 12-year-old brother says when we’re together.

TK-576: Yeah, I’m playing MW2 Domination right now, trying to earn a Tactical Nuke.

SKiDROW: That’s how he normally talks, by the way.

TK-576: Well, what else can we talk about?

SKiDROW: Well, you do have interesting views on girls. Tell me, what do you think of girls’ makeup?

TK-576: You mean why do girls wear makeup?

SKiDROW: Sure, let’s talk about that.

TK-576: Well, I guess it’s a way to hide yeast infections and acne on their faces.

SKiDROW: Hold on, did you say yeast infections?

TK-576: Yeah, and acne.

SKiDROW: How would someone’s face get a yeast infection? Is that even possible?

TK-576: Yeah, I heard it in a commercial. It happens when you sweat a lot.

SKiDROW: I think you’re mixing it up with something else you saw on TV.

TK-576: Look, that’s just what I heard.

SKiDROW: Okay, back to reality. Why do you think girls wear makeup?

TK-576: Well, I guess to hide their acne, and because they don’t want their real faces to show.

SKiDROW: So girls wear makeup to hide their unattractiveness?

TK-576: I guess you can say that. I don’t think straight guys like ugly women.

SKiDROW: But if women wear makeup to please men, why do men think makeup is shallow?

TK-576: What do you mean?

SKiDROW: Meaning why do men find women shallow for wearing makeup, if women wear makeup to please men?

TK-576: Well, I guess if women wear makeup because men expect them to, you should blame society.

SKiDROW: Okay.

TK-576: But if girls wear makeup to make themselves feel better, that’s pretty shallow.

SKiDROW: Wait, so girls are shallow if they wear makeup for themselves?

TK-576: No, I’m saying they’re shallow if they think they look ugly without makeup.

SKiDROW: So if women wear makeup when men don’t force them to, they’re being shallow?

TK-576: I’m just saying women shouldn’t need makeup. They’re beautiful the way they are.

SKiDROW: I don’t know, mate. That sounds a bit simplistic.

TK-576: How?

SKiDROW: Well, a lot of girls wear makeup so they can keep their jobs.

TK-576: Wait, some jobs require makeup?

SKiDROW: Yeah, like waitressing. You need to wear makeup if you want to be tipped better by customers.

TK-576: I guess that makes sense.

SKiDROW: Okay, so to recap, what are the main reasons you think girls wear makeup?

TK-576: One, because society makes them wear makeup. Two, because it makes them feel better.

SKiDROW: Okay.

TK-576: And three, because it helps them to lose virginity.

SKiDROW: Did you say virginity?

TK-576: Yeah.

SKiDROW: How does makeup affect one’s virginity?

TK-576: Well, if you want guys to sleep with you, makeup is one way to get their attention.

SKiDROW: Okay, so how do you know if a girl is wearing makeup to feel good, or if she’s trying to get some?

TK-576: I don’t know. I guess you can ask?

SKiDROW: You mean like getting consent?

TK-576: I don’t know what that means.

SKiDROW: Well, when we upload this video, we’ll see who agrees with you about makeup.

TK-576: I have a girlfriend, so I should be correct about this girl stuff.

SKiDROW: Hold on, a girlfriend?

TK-576: Yeah, she lives in Florida.

SKiDROW: Florida. You know how many scammers live out in Florida?

TK-576: Actually my girlfriend’s pretty nice.

SKiDROW: Did you meet her when you were playing MW2 online?

TK-576: We voice-chatted once and yeah, she’s a girl.

SKiDROW: Does this girl know she’s your girlfriend?

TK-576: Can we talk about this next time?

SKiDROW: Okay. Folks, if you disagree with my brother, leave scathing comments for him down below.

TK-576: Oh, and guys, don’t discriminate against girls who don’t wear makeup.

SKiDROW: By the way, your game is almost over.

TK-576: I know, let me end this video with a Tactical Nuke.

This weekend we plan to launch the first instalment of our winter series, the one involving feminist videogame reviews. Since our editor’s younger brother was instrumental in helping out, in return we agreed to help him with whatever project idea he came up with – the catch being that it needed to be gender-related. This is what he came up with (including the title, that self-deprecating bugger).

If you find the above exchange to be excruciating, don’t worry, we have only three episodes total to burn through, before the weekend arrives and we move onto better things. And if the above exchange causes you to fear for the future of our generation… well, we can’t dispute you on that point.

On the upside, he did agree to do an episode on… why women join ISIS? So stay tuned.

“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 Beauty, Body image | Tagged | 8 Comments

Hundredth verse, same as the first: Talking mental health after mass shootings

We’re now almost four weeks out from the shooting at an Oregon community college that killed nine people and injured ten more, and we know what that means: We can now stop “caring about mental health care” without guilt. Time heals all weaknesses in the mental health system, and while it becomes a subject under great scrutiny whenever a gunman commits a mass shooting — particularly when discussions start straying toward the subject of gun control — the passage of time, and the accompanying passage of fear, washes away those concerns pretty effectively. (Until the next shooting, of course.)

And the reason this happens isn’t because we manage to effectively address all of our problems in the interim. It happens because discussions purportedly focused on Improving Mental Health Care are actually all about Protecting The Good People From The Crazies. Not the same thing at all. The former comes from a place of compassion, and the latter comes from a place of fear, and we, as a society, don’t give two shits about acting compassionately when we’re afraid. (And then, when our immediate, acute fear of The Crazies has faded, we don’t give two shits about acting at all.)

“Improving mental health care,” for the purpose of ongoing discussions, means identifying the dangerous crazies and making sure they make it onto a national registry so no one will sell guns to them. Period. That’s the strategy. It doesn’t mean actually encouraging people to seek care when they need it — people may, in fact, be more likely to opt out of any activity that gets them added to a national registry of cray-crays that will follow them everywhere they go. It doesn’t mean removing the stigma surrounding mental illness — when we only ever discuss mental illness in the context of murderous rampages, it creates a pretty solid impression that all people with mental illnesses are rampaging murderers. And it doesn’t mean improving access to mental health care — training more mental health professionals, funding community and long-term care resources, and cracking down on illegal discrimination by insurance companies doesn’t keep guns out of the hands of crazies. Yes, that stuff saves lives, but not the lives that, like, matter or anything. No Guns For Crazies is about as far as we need to go.

And turning the entire focus to mental health is a fantastically handy diversion, because the subject is so complex and shrouded in so much stigma that, fuck the medical community, “mental health” can mean pretty much whatever we want it to mean. We’re a big fan of ex post facto diagnoses, the tautological proclamation that obviously this person was mentally ill, because a person would have to be mentally ill to do such a thing. We don’t want to accept that a person could be sane, “normal” and also really angry. Hateful. Greedy. Ignorant. Bigoted. Self-centered. Raised in an environment of fundamentalist absolutism. Raised in an environment of violence. Entitled — to personal success, to attention from women, to public affirmation. Not any one by itself, but rather deadly combinations and perfect storms of things at which we don’t bat an eye when they’re at the center of wars or terrorism, but which have to have some exotic explanation when they’re coming from someone who looks like us.

Dylann Roof, to the disappointment of many, didn’t have a history of mental illness — he was a white supremacist with substance abuse issues and access to guns. Timothy McVeigh, who of course killed with a bomb rather than a gun, was sane and paranoid and vengeful and angry and wanted to make a statement. George Sodini, who killed four people and injured nine more at an LA Fitness in 2009 — remember him? No? — wasn’t mentally ill, he was a loner and a misogynist and a textbook Nice GuyTM. (Would that we could screen for those.)

No one ever talks about screening for substance abuse or relationship stress or a history of violence, or assembling a National Victims of Bullying Registry, to make sure that none of those people has access to firearms — and those are much more reliable predictors of gun violence. There will never be a box marked “Yes, I’m an angry, paranoid white man” on an application for a firearm permit. Nor will there ever be widespread claims concern about better care to make them less dangerous to the public.

The statistics are so quoted so often that you’d think it would be accepted as common knowledge by now: People with mental illnesses are vastly more likely to be the victims of violence than perpetrators, and even those who are most prone to violence — people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression — account for a minor percentage of overall gun violence (rarely directly related to symptoms of their disorder). A mentally ill person with a gun in his hand is far more likely to turn it on himself than anyone else. But suddenly people start caring (“caring”) about mental health when they fear for their own safety. And they care about it with solutions (“solutions”) that cause more problems than they’re solving.

I get it. I do. I’m not sitting here grinding my teeth about the subject because nothing is actually being done to improve mental health care in the U.S. — that’s certainly nothing new, and the teeth reserved for that particular grinding are pretty much nubs at this point. At this point, the only thing worth grinding teeth about is accuracy, saying you’re talking about one thing when really you’re talking about another — saying you’re concerned about mental health care when you’re really just worried about Protecting The Good People From The Crazies. So while ideally, we’d actually be discussing real, substantive change so that people can have access to, and can feel safe accessing, the mental health care that they need, at the very least let’s try to keep ourselves honest about when we aren’t discussing that. Which, when mass shootings are in the news, is pretty much always.

Posted in Crime, Health, Law | Tagged , | 7 Comments