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Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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30 Responses

  1. Alon Levy
    Alon Levy February 17, 2007 at 11:38 pm |

    you can’t say she’s not funny

    She’s funny, in the same sense other niche polemicists are funny. The parallels between radical leftists like her and radical rightists are too ubiquitous to be coincidental.

  2. j
    j February 17, 2007 at 11:59 pm |

    No, Twisty is definitely funnier than any radical rightist I’ve ever read.

    The website is hilarious.

  3. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne February 18, 2007 at 12:32 am |

    I can kinda-sorta-almost see continuing to let the guy who’s been performing as Chief Illiniwek for the past 20 years or so to keep on doing it until he finally retired this week. But it’s more, “Oh, let the poor old man keep his job,” than any rational feeling. And I think the decision to let the mascot end after his retirement was absolutely the right one.

    But, hey, I graduated from a school where they ride a horse around the stadium after every touchdown, so I’m sure PETA will be on our ass about that one any day now.

  4. exangelena
    exangelena February 18, 2007 at 1:05 am |

    Well, maybe it makes me a radical leftist (although I identify as a political moderate) and I don’t agree with everything she says, but as a woman and a feminist, I love the way that Twisty points out how degrading and damaging that “everyday” femininity can be.
    About #6, how is that any different than a right-winger citing horrible things that a few extremist Muslims do – like stoning women to death, committing suicide bombings, murdering journalists, etc. – and then saying that their religion is the most horrible in the world? In all organized religions, we should have cause for concern with their more violent and dangerous practices, but be careful not to tar millions of people with the actions of a radical minority.

    And about #7, maybe that is true for black and Hispanic women, but for Asian women, the standards of thinness are, in my experience, even stricter than for white women. With a lot of Asians, a size 4-6 is considered fat, whereas for white women it is fairly desirable (unless you’re Nicole Richie, that is).

  5. Henry
    Henry February 18, 2007 at 2:08 am |

    I kind of figured “curves” are more accepted in black women because black men like ‘em. That whole stereotype of black men liking girls with big asses is pretty much true in my experience, at least with the majority of the ones I know. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I know plenty of white guys that are the same, they just don’t talk about it as much.

  6. Tara
    Tara February 18, 2007 at 2:31 am |

    I remember local criticism over the Chief Illiniwek mascot in the early 1990s. I’m amazed that they’re finally ending it (thank god). Mascots are another case, I think, where it is important and difficult for many people to see past their own investments (and not be defensive or self-serving) and see how others perceive a symbol (how they are offended, reminded of their second-class citizenship or complete outsiderness, etc.) I’m glad this change happened.

    About the Wash Post piece on black women and body image, I think it has become commonplace, in academic, public policy, and popular discussions, to state that black women are more accepting of their bodies and have higher self-esteem. Cultural reasons often get cited to explain this. I wonder if this is true. It seems like it’s a ‘positive’ stereotype, but I’m not so sure — about its capturing the ‘truth’ of social reality and about whether it might reinforce black females once again not being an object of concern or study.

  7. bean
    bean February 18, 2007 at 8:55 am |

    thanks for the link, jill, and for rounding up some really interesting stuff.

  8. exangelena
    exangelena February 18, 2007 at 11:16 am |

    Henry – I think what’s different in this case is that these black and Hispanic women are being accepted as larger by the mostly white men and women in the entertainment and fashion industry – the same ones who promote emaciated fashion models and actresses, called Kate Winslet fat, and claim that the slender Scarlett Johansson and Catherine Zeta Jones are “voluptuous” – not only within their communities.

  9. Tony
    Tony February 18, 2007 at 1:39 pm |

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar?

  10. shannon
    shannon February 18, 2007 at 1:45 pm |

    Blackamazon rants a bit about that WP article in this post.

  11. Kyra
    Kyra February 18, 2007 at 2:58 pm |

    I don’t understand why it’s so difficult to grasp how the Indian Mascot thing is offensive, no matter how supposedly tasteful the mascot’s dress and performance is. Chris makes the apt comparison to minstrel shows, which were justified as respectful nods to black culture. I’ll further point out that minstrel shows were part of a multi-pronged attempt to justify slavery (and then segregation)

    Well, having had managed to miss grasping it myself for far too long (read: long enough to open my mouth about it, thank Goddess only once), I have to say that what you said about the minstrel shows’ use in justifying slavery and segregation point out why it’s hard to get—they wouldn’t have been used to justify slavery and segregation if they weren’t useful in justifying slavery and segregation.

    They created an idealized image that white people could feel good about, and could expand society-wide; it gave the appearance of respect and pleasantness and gave people something to focus on that covered up the vivid injustices of real life.

    The society of the oppressors is not made up solely of die-hard racists—it has a huge percentage of people who don’t hate, in their hearts, the people being oppressed; people who, if they looked, without the rose-colored glasses that society teaches them to look through, would recognize injustice and oppression for what it is. For the oppression to continue, these people must be kept complacent, and the minstrel shows were a good for doing this, perpetuating the fiction that the oppression in question was not oppression but necessary, and good, and, here’s the kicker: unoppressive.

    They perpetuated the idea that no defense against oppression was needed—that the situation was ideal. Above and beyond the deliberate blindness that people were taught—the technique of “othering” the oppressed group so as not to be affected by their suffering—the minstrel shows discredited that suffering, dismissed it, as nothing more than the little things like everybody deals with, in amongst a contented life, rather than a chronic and significant misery caused by systematic oppression.

    Therefore, the otherwise-decent white person who might grow uncomfortable seeing human suffering amongst the black population (who couldn’t dismiss them as “not like me” enough to completely turn off her empathy), could take solace in the vision created by the minstrel shows—convincing herself that the problem doesn’t exist, rather than confronting the reality of how much is fundamentally wrong with her entire society.

    This has been done with much more success and pervasiveness with gender—the male domination of society has stood tall and strong for centuries because it has so perfectly given its oppressions the illusions of not only legitimacy but idealism—they have integrated it with love and kindness and happiness so well that half the time the oppressed aren’t even aware of being oppressed. This is how the Equal Rights Amendment failed, for example; this is why so many people—so many women—claim feminism is no longer necessary, as in centuries and decades past they claimed in similar numbers that it wasn’t necessary, period.

    The key to successful oppression is painting a picture of ideals, so that the people decent enough fight for what’s right instead fall into thinking that nothing is wrong.

    The Native American mascots do the same thing on a smaller scale—they create a pleasant and fun image of Native culture that has the appearance of being respectful—and people easily take the path of least resistance and enjoy the show, and pat themselves on the back at the same time for their “respect” of Native American culture.

    That’s why it’s so difficult to grasp. It’s not obvious. It’s not obvious because it’s tailor-made to shift one’s perception the opposite way. It’s not obvious because that’s the whole point.

  12. zuzu
    zuzu February 18, 2007 at 6:44 pm |

    That, and he didn’t require a church to do good deeds.

  13. exangelena
    exangelena February 18, 2007 at 7:34 pm |

    Jill – what about someone like Ayaan Hirsi Ali? She is someone who was raised Muslim and who suffered terribly in childhood and as a young adult. Or Donna Hughes and Phyllis Chesler who are feminists but see radical Islam as a threat to women’s rights? I’ve seen the blogads for Because They Hate, an anti-Muslim book being promoted by conservative websites, but it isn’t written by a pundit watching the Middle East conflict from an armchair, but by someone who lived through war in the Middle East.
    I don’t agree with their views on Islam at all, but I wouldn’t lump them in with the 101st Fighting Keyboardists.

  14. exangelena
    exangelena February 18, 2007 at 7:40 pm |

    Particularly in Europe, there are some liberals of a similar viewpoint to the man in the Salon article, who see Islam’s cultural conservatism as a threat to gay rights and feminism.

  15. Bloix
    Bloix February 19, 2007 at 1:01 am |

    Mascots are scary animals, objects, and… Indians. And occasionally representatives of long-dead cultures which have been mythologized for their strength in war (i.e., the Spartans).

    Yeah, right. Like Steelers, Brewers, Packers, Oilers, Flyers, Whalers and Mariners. Also Athletics, Dodgers, 76’ers, 49’ers, Trailblazers, Rangers, Yankees, Senators, Saints, Patriots, Celtics, Islanders, Texans, Canucks, and Canadiens. Not to mention Cowboys.

    Oh- also Aggies, Boilermakers, Cavaliers, Hilltoppers, Hoosiers, Minutemen, Mountaineers, Northmen, Pilgrims, Pioneers, Rebels, Rivermen, Scots, Swedes, and Yeomen.

    You do fine cultural criticism, but you don’t know shit about sports, do you?

  16. exangelena
    exangelena February 19, 2007 at 1:04 am |

    Yeah, everything seems a lot clearer now :)

  17. Ataralas
    Ataralas February 19, 2007 at 9:47 am |

    Bloix, don’t forget how scary the might Cardinal is. Or the Blue Jay, Penguin, or Duck. Or those fighting Metropolitans and Twins and Padres.

    Jill, yes, Indian mascots are problematic in many ways. But there are also good examples, such as the FSU Semioles, where the Seminole governing bodies approved of the images and use of their name and the tribes have beneficial relationships to the schools. (e.g. there are scholarship programs directed towards Seminole students.) It appears that the UofI didn’t fit into this model, and so perhaps it was good to drop the mascot. But mascots can be complicated.

    Also, as a lifelong mainline Protestant (who is also a scientest and a queer), it’s nice to see some honest writing about being a Christian in a progressive context. It’s certainly not easy to walk the balance between recognizing how those of your faith have hurt your friends and colleagues and yet being authentic and open about your own faith and faith communities.

  18. Bloix
    Bloix February 19, 2007 at 12:16 pm |

    I did forget the Padres. Also the Fighting Irish. And how ’bout those Mud Hens- my 2nd favorite team name of all time. My favorite of course is my own Terrapins – Fear the Turtle, as we like to say. (The Duck is different- he’s Mighty.) What Jill doesn’t get, of course, is that lots of traditional mascot names are about local pride. My guess is she doesn’t like sports – it’s just a lot of organized brawling to her.

  19. Heraclitus
    Heraclitus February 19, 2007 at 1:35 pm |

    Probably Jill just isn’t a half-literate moron with no grasp of history, whose enormous sense of entitlement is inversely proportional to her actual intelligence.

  20. Veronica
    Veronica February 19, 2007 at 3:21 pm |

    The fact is, in many, many cases, black women are accepting and proud of their curves. I’m one of them. Few women I know actually want to be rail-thin, and the ones that are naturally slim often talk about finding ways to “put more meat on their bones.” Sure, there’s a historical context to black women being sexualized, but that’s removed from the fact that women of color have learned to love themselves in a society where many don’t accept them.

  21. Bloix
    Bloix February 19, 2007 at 5:28 pm |

    I do not like racism. Well, bully for you. But a little beside the point, isnt it? You make an argument. I point out that it’s flawed. You call me a body part. Along with disliking racism, you seem to dislike being made fun of for a howler of an error. Or maybe you were remembering your classics class, where you studied how the ancient and fearsome Steelers fought their fabled wars against the warlike Packers and their allies the Bills. The point is, Jill, that there are lots of team names that evoke local pride, and lots of them are about kinds of people. Sometimes they’re even ethnic- Celtics, Vikings, Fighting Irish, Canucks. So it’s not obvious that all Indian names are racist.

  22. Tony
    Tony February 19, 2007 at 9:36 pm |

    What about the Cleveland Browns?

  23. Ataralas
    Ataralas February 19, 2007 at 10:48 pm |

    The Browns were named for their first coach, Paul Brown. No, really. The St. Louis Browns (now Cardinals) were named for their socks, in a similar manner to the Red Sox and the White Sox.

    I think, Jill, that it’s not just a small part of the argument. I think all of the teams listed show that mascots are drawn from a huge range of sources, from professions, to animals, to colors, to ethnic groups, to things I don’t even know how to classify (Metropolitans? Nationals?). And so, at least to me, there’s not necessarily a “violent” stereotype inherent in mascots; they tend to echo something interesting or notable about a region or a team.

    Perhaps I also feel, because of the locational nature of many team names/mascots, there’s some difference between say, the UofI Illini and the FSU Seminoles vs. the Cleveland Indians and the Atlanta Braves, the latter two being very generic, but the former two being very specific. And also a difference between the Seminoles, who have given explicit permission to use their name, and the Illiniwek, who as far as I know, haven’t said anything on the matter.

    And if naming the team of the state university of Illinois the Illini isn’t ok, then should we rename the state of Illinois? As far as I can tell, very few of the Illiniwek are extant, some scattered in Ohio, some in Oklahoma. (Now, that, for sure, is a crime!)

    Should we rename the state of Indiana?

  24. Bloix
    Bloix February 21, 2007 at 9:26 am |

    I thought we were talking about the Ilini. Redskins is racist. Indians is too close to the line and the cartoon mascot is amazingly offensive. Braves and Chiefs are okay – they’re like Knights or Cavaliers. Same with Illini and Seminoles. I don’t see a problem.

  25. DataShade
    DataShade February 22, 2007 at 1:09 am |

    I’m sorry, but the whole mascot thing is way off-base and overblown. maybe when you said “scary animals, objects, and ‘Indians,'” you didn’t intend for the adjective “scary” to be commutative over the rest of the list. But you didn’t put out any outrage for the not-always-pugilistic Fighting Irish, or those poor Hoosiers, Steelers, and 49er’s, no one’s taken up the burden of the oppressed Red or White Sox, etc.

    Also, the whole “minstrel show” thing seems almost deliberately conflated and combatitive. Wikipedia puts the first recorded North American game of baseball in the same year as the Trail of Tears, so you’d probably have to waterboard me to convince me that freakin’ MASCOTS had anything to do with anti-Indian sentiment. If you wanted to tell me it was cheaper to steal land from the indians than pay to sharecrop for America’s early near-feudal landowners, I’d believe that (which of course only heightens the irony of Andrew “White Male Suffrage” Jackson’s harsh anti-indian policies; he was all for empowering poor non-landowners, but also continued the proud tradition of fucking the red man to make farms for poor previously-non-landowning men).

    Anyway, I grew up in a school system named after one of the surviving Native American nations, I’ve studied under Robert Warrior, I *like* studying Native American history and I resent what my nation did to these people in the past, so you’re welcome to try to say I don’t understand where the outrage is coming from. But, I’m Polish and Italian, my initials spell out “MOB,” and I heard a polak joke a day from the time I started Kindergarten until the time I topped 6 feet. I COULD try to piss up a rope every time someone makes a bad show about La Cosa Nostra, or calls someone a wiseguy, does a bad Marlon Brando impersonation, etc. Instead, I just carry my squirtgun around the Monday after Easter and tell people not to fuck with my cultural heritage.

  26. Chris Clarke
    Chris Clarke February 22, 2007 at 7:56 pm |

    Everyone in this thread who’s Native American, raise your hand.

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