Weekend Open Thread

Please natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything you like with this week’s thread-loving host, Zoë.

A black and tan dog's face with white patches rests peacefully on some balls of multicoloured knitting wool

Zoë and the Yarn by Allison Stillwell, on Flickr (CCL)

e.g. 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?


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About tigtog

tigtog blogs a lot elsewhere, but here on Feministe she mostly does the tech support and feeds the giraffe. tigtog tweets in irregular flurries @vivsmythe.
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92 Responses to Weekend Open Thread

  1. GallingGalla says:

    I just got done reading “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin DeBecker. Yeah, I know, years too late (and about 4 years after I first thought of reading it). I have mixed feelings about it, though I’m not really clear yet on what made me uncomfortable. Maybe part of it is a kind of sexism that masquerades as the good guy looking out for the best interests of women. Maybe part of it is his assumption that only women are targeted for violence (as if gay men aren’t targeted, for example.) Maybe it’s his assumption that all relationships are straight ones and how casually he erases QUILTBAG folks. Maybe it’s his cozy relationship with law enforcement and his failure to acknowledge that police are in many ways a part of the problem (whether through direct violence against women or failure to take women’s reporting of sexual assault seriously).

    • dawnofthenerds says:

      His chapter on domestic violence is also pretty victim blamey. He actually says if you’re hit once, you’re a victim; twice, you’re a volunteer.

    • PeggyLuWho says:

      I am currently reading the same book. My trainer loaned it to me. The part that was helpful was the “stop talking yourself out of your feelings because you don’t want people to think you’re paranoid” bit. However, there are some problematic bits, too.

      • Bagelsan says:

        Yeah, that was the message I took away from the book and I’ve found it really helpful. The rest was kind of skimmable. And personally I don’t have a problem with a book dealing only with heterosexual male-on-female violence because there’s a limit to how much a book can address, but I think it would be excellent to have more offerings that do focus on other groups and types of violence.

  2. mxe354 says:

    I’m reading The Sexual Contract by Carole Pateman. It’s pretty good so far. I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in feminist political science.

    And I’ve been listening to a lot of Hall & Oates, Duran Duran, and Van Halen these days. Weird mix, but I like it.

    • Marksman2000 says:

      Can’t go wrong with those three. You must be an eighties child.

      • mxe354 says:

        Nope. I was born in 1994. I became fond of 80s music because my family used to listen to it all the time when I was a child. It’s not just nostalgia that makes me so fond of it, though; I also think there’s just something special about 80s music. Not sure what it is. And I say that as someone who appreciates music from the 60s to now.

  3. I desperately want to write a novella. Or two. I’m terrified and utterly convinced that I’d never be able to handle it and I’m an awful writer.

    • No harm in trying, right?

    • PeggyLuWho says:

      Write a first draft, and just accept the fact that it’s going to suck. First drafts are supposed to suck. Then see how you feel about revising. Most people rewrite better stuff, because the initial pressure to get it all on the page is gone.

    • SophiaBlue says:

      Hey, I guess we’re sisters in writing-terror!

      I think what people were saying to me last week makes a lot of sense. You’re writing almost certainly will be bad at first, but that’s OK because you can make it better. It’s a lot easier to improve the writing that’s in front of you than to try and fix it in your head.

    • EG says:

      Mac, I’ve been reading your writing for over a year now, and I always look forward to what you have to say and your way of saying it! I feel utterly confident in telling you that you are not an awful writer, and that in fact, you are an awesome writer. So tell your inner self-hating critic that EG says to shut it and let you write in peace!

    • Marksman2000 says:

      There’s no such thing as writing, there’s only re-writing.

      You have to give yourself something to work with, so you have to put something down on the page…

      Might as well get started!

    • Yonah says:

      I’m writing one too. I’ve found that obsessing over what is “good” and “bad” ends up being uninteresting and that sort of evaluation is too vulnerable to both ego and insecurity. Also, it’s very hard for many people to refrain from conflating it with “Am I good or bad?”

      To me, a much more helpful question is “What is this communicating?” (And how, and to whom?) Is it what you want, or not? Does it serve the story, or is it really part of something else? How so? etc. Operating in that mindset can make it easier to work criticism, to drop what needs to be dropped, and to share work without a sad phenomenon I see among many of my (esp. female) friends at least, which is a feeling of obligation to self-flagellate like crazy before letting anyone see.

    • Marni says:

      Just concentrate on what you want to say and let it drivel out in the form of very rough notes. Then you can expand it into a first draft, and work from there.

    • PeggyLuWho says:

      I’m up to 2,000 words. I’m trying to focus on small goals. 500 words at a time.

      How’s yours coming along, Mac? Sophia?

      I love that we have a little Feministe writers’ circle going. We can encourage/egg each other on.

  4. BabyRaptor says:

    Dragging myself through A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson. It’s the last book of the Wheel of Time series.

    I love the series as a whole, but I’ve not been a fan of Sanderson’s contributions. And the book is just sooo slow. My roommate has already finished it, and is chomping at the bit to discuss it with me, but I just can’t really get into it.

    • dawnofthenerds says:

      I need to start that soon, it’s sitting beside my bed. I’m pretty excited to finally see how it ends, as I’ve been reading the series since I was about 15.

    • Denise Winters says:

      I plan to start soon but intend to wait until my 7 hour bus ride that is coming up. I have heard that it was a fast read and I am surprised, and kinda disappointed, it comes in at under 1,000 pages. I have loved the books and the ending is going to be a major point in the last two years of my reading life. I even liked the ones that were 7-10 with the exception of the first part of 7 and most of 10. With 10, I enjoyed the writing but the plot progressed so little given that it was mostly a lot of the characters complaining and staring in a certain direction. Okay, I even liked 7-9.

    • Andie says:

      My boyfriend is reading this right now as well. Seems to be enjoying it.

  5. PeggyLuWho says:

    I just wrote another 1,100 words in my first draft of my novel while listening to Indie Dance Radio on Pandora. Before that I balanced my checkbook. Exciting times in the life of a single person.

    • PrettyAmiable says:

      Haha, I’ve never balanced a checkbook but just realized I should probably do that now. I’ve been spending beyond my means this last month. And I’m doing dishes and heading into work for a few hours today. I can relate to you on the boring single person thing. I might go to a party tonight! That’s exciting.

  6. Alexandra says:

    Hey-o, Feministe. I’ve been reading about John Ruskin tonight (inspired, believe it or not, by the earlier post about labiaplasty). Ruskin is famous both as a Victorian art critic and for his famously awful marriage and subsequent annulment; the story goes that he was so horrified to discover, on his wedding night, that women have pubic hair, he was unable to consummate the marriage. Supposedly, Ruskin had so idealized women based on greco-roman statuary that the idea that women might not be entirely smooth and hairless filled him with revulsion and fear. He also went on to fall in love with a 10 year old (whose parents disapproved) – creepy as heck.

    What this got me thinking about was, when did Western culture shift from thinking of women as sex-crazed, essentially dissipated creatures which needed to be confined to house and home to keep them from sullying their virtue, to thinking of women as essentially modest, chaste creatures who only engage in sex for the sake of marriage and children? Important caveats, of course – some women were always cast as a “sexual class”, whether they were prostituted women, or enslaved women, or even the romanticized peasant woman (milkmaids etc).

    I just look back to Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Tale/Prologue, which is incredibly bawdy and explicitly sexual, and which has a 40-year-old woman who has had four marriages proudly crying out, Bring on the Fifth! I mean, she’s literally cast as a woman who was married to an old man at 13 and who got her revenge by sexing him to death – and who won a battle with her fourth husband, after he struck her in an argument, convincing him to give her sovereignty in their marriage. She is a primal life force, but she is also distinctly of a higher class than some of the other people in the Canterbury Tales, like the Miller, say (though she is not noble, like the Knight, who tells a chivalric tale about chaste princesses immediately spoofed by the aforementioned Miller).

    I cannot think of equally bawdy passages in Shakespeare’s plays (though many of his sonnets qualify), though certainly the relationships between Beatrice and Benedick, or Rosalind and Orlando, are relationships of intellectual equality and sparkle.

    Even Jane Austen, who did not write about sex, or marriage to any great extent beyond courtship, wrote in a time of far looser sexual mores than the Victorian period – notable, for instance, are the absence of chaperones during many of the interactions between unmarried young people. No one is in the room (or the house) when Darcy proposes to Elizabeth the first time; the unmarried Anne Elliot travels to a “bad” part of town alone to visit her sick friend, etc etc.

    Even into the beginnings of the 19th century (Regency in England) women’s clothing was often cut so low that the nipple would be exposed.

    Somehow the Victorians began to equate women’s chastity with covering the body, and with an absence of sexuality… IDGI.

    • EG says:

      I cannot think of equally bawdy passages in Shakespeare’s plays

      Try Antony and Cleopatra: “Oh happy horse, to bear the weight of Antony!” There’s a book out there, rather old at this point but whatever, called “Shakespeare’s Bawdy” that may help as well!

      • Aydan says:

        Or Romeo and Juliet, “Flesh, flesh, how art thou fishified!” which immediately precedes a discussion of the venereal disease Romeo has supposedly picked up by having so much sex.

    • Aydan says:

      And come to think of it, Much Ado About Nothing is itself a pun about vaginas, and it seems like every time I rewatch a version I pick up on a new penis joke.

  7. PrettyAmiable says:

    This month, for the first time since I was sexually assaulted in late 2008, I completely recognized the woman who peered out of the mirror at me. I’m not overwhelmingly angry anymore. I’m not scared anymore. I’m me.

    I feel like this might be controversial, and I do not speak for any survivor other than myself, but I’ve always hated it whenever I talked about my assault and been told that I’m brave. There was nothing about that experience that defined me, and if I hear it in relation to how I’ve healed, it seems like a misapplication of the term since I’ve likely had access to resources that other victims haven’t enjoyed. It doesn’t make them less “brave” or less anything. And I honestly think it was this complete rejection in recent weeks that has led to me coming to myself.

    Cool stuff, from my perspective!

    • moviemaedchen says:

      I hear you, totally. While I can see how claiming a position as ‘brave’ or ‘strong’ might be helpful or even necessary for some individuals in the aftermath of rape or assault (and I fully support them doing whatever they need to for themselves), I hate the social model of ‘the brave survivor.’ I feel it shames those who, for whatever reason, don’t find that that model fits them. It tells victims that they *have* to be ‘strong’ and denies them the right to acknowledge their own suffering. It also, yes, imposes a hierarchy on victims who already get varying levels of care and support.

      It can also be used, as you point out, to suggest that the experience necessarily defines that person, which ick. I’m not defined as a person by my experience of assault; it’s just something that happened to me. And it’s a short step away from victim-blaming, also ick.

      All of which is to say, I agree. And I am glad to hear that you’ve had this positive development. *offers a celebratory beverage, if you like*

    • Alexandra says:

      Congrats. As a fellow survivor, I totally hear you about “brave” – the assault was a thing that happened to me, an awful thing, and I don’t want it to become a defining moment in my life story.

    • PeggyLuWho says:

      I hear you. That shit pisses me off, too.

      I actually had the man who abused me for 17 years tell me once that I should thank him, because what he had done to me and what I lived through had made me a stronger person. Yeah, fuck that shit.

      • EG says:

        I actually had the man who abused me for 17 years tell me once that I should thank him, because what he had done to me and what I lived through had made me a stronger person.

        OH FUCK HIM.

      • Bagelsan says:

        Huh, now I’d like to find ways to make him a stronger person. I’ll bet his pain tolerance isn’t as high as it could be!

      • PeggyLuWho says:

        Yeah, so you could see how anything that sort of echos that sentiment or the one that PrettyAmiable was discussing would elicit a string of swear words, unintelligible fits and starts of sentences, and blind rage. I mean, I guess I get people’s desire for there to be some kind of “bright side”, but there is no fucking bright side. I did not gain anything out of that experience. Except some fucking PTSD.

        If I’m strong now, then I must have been pretty damn strong before all that, for a little kid. And something tells me that PrettyAmiable has always been pretty damn brave.

        PrettyAmiable – I’m glad you’re feeling better. Keep keeping on.

  8. Angel H. says:

    I was listening to Tupac’s “Keep Ya Head Up” on a national radio program last week. As many times as I’ve heard this song, I just now realized that there was a pro-choice line in it:

    “And since a man can’t make [a baby]
    He has no right to tell a woman when a where to create one…”

    I know I shouldn’t be surprised, considering he was raised by Afeni Shakur. But it was still awesome to hear that played on a national broadcast.

  9. mxe354 says:

    Also, today I learned that most of my friends have no idea what privilege is and think that the phrase “Check your privilege” is a silence tactic used to make privileged people feel bad. People these days… V_V

    • PrettyAmiable says:

      …and think that the phrase “Check your privilege” is a silence tactic used to make privileged people feel bad.

      I’m actually okay with this. If they hear, “shut up, you’re being a jerk,” I feel like that’s fair. I think people just don’t want to be told their voice is irrelevant ever, and can be incredibly delicate when they aren’t used to being silenced instead of silencing.

      • mxe354 says:

        I guess I wasn’t clear enough. I’m talking about making privileged people feel bad because they are privileged. Many of them think the phrase means they should be ashamed of being male, white, straight, etc.

  10. Donna L says:

    Apropos of nothing in particular, I spent a couple of hours earlier today in the company of a completely adorable 14-month old child, the son of a friend of a friend. It reminded me of just how much I love babies and toddlers, and how rewarding it is to have one smile at me (he did! several times! and even tried to give me a half-eaten cookie!) and also of how very much I’ve missed them. It’s been 20 years (since my son was about 2) since I’ve had the chance to spend more than a few minutes with one, and that makes me incredibly sad. Whether or not my son ever has children, I think I need to find a way to fill that need more than once every two decades. Because I’ve realized that I miss it at least as much as — and perhaps more than — I do being in a romantic relationship. (Which has also been quite scarce for me over the last 20 years!)

    • Donna L says:

      I hasten to add that being with my son at all ages has been amazing and wonderful; as many parents say, he just became even more lovable as every year went by. But there’s something about babies and tiny children that makes my heart melt, and I wish I could have that too, at least once in a while.

      • miga says:

        I saw an adorable baby on the subway today. Seriously, this little one should have been in commercials. I was overcome.

    • EG says:

      The first few years after I moved back to NYC were childless, and it really had a huge impact on my life. It was hard. The arrival of my godson made everything more joyous for me. So I understand.

    • Dee says:

      Totally get that. Felt that way in grad school and decided to volunteer at a program for infants and toddlers that are “at risk” (developmentally delayed, financially insecure families, in state custody). It was once a week and it was so awesome. I had really missed babies.

  11. Aydan says:

    I’ve been reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I’ve been disappointed with the classism and faintly sexist nostalgia of some of his other work, so I was pleasantly surprised to get something of substance from this one. (I haven’t finished it, though, and the classism and nostalgia might make more of a come back at the end.)

  12. miga says:

    So I burned through my crazy-party Miga phase really fast. Two weeks of running around in bars kissing people and getting free drinks and now I’m tired. I can see how it’s fun, but it’s not me.

    I also wrote a letter to my best friend, who lives on the other side of the world, and told her more than I’ve told anyone except my therapist about my rape. It made for a really shitty Friday night, but after I finished the letter I actually felt somewhat better. I don’t know if it was dissociation or finally pushing through the pain instead of hiding, but as I typed those last few words the horrible knot in my stomach went away. I had a migraine and an upset stomach a few hours later, but I think overall I really am improving.

    I also called my little sister and she told me she’s slightly suicidal. And I’m still really lonely and still miss my ex~ I love him and we’re still good friends but every time I get angry at him it’s like pressing on a bruise. Ugh.

  13. I went to the National Theatre Company production of War Horse that’s playing in Melbourne yesterday. Wonderful play, much more powerful than Spielberg’s film – and I liked the film. The whole design fits with the pared-down Handspring Company puppets, with no sets, just the occasional isolated door, or people holding laths to represent fences, and light and backshots (not sure if that’s the word) of black and white sketches to represent scenery. Really, really recommend it.

    I’m reading Kerry Greenwood’s Trick or Treat for the umpteenth time, and snippets from History Today, National Geographic, Scientific American and the Big Issue magazines here and there, and thinking I really need to get back to my knitting, hot weather or no!

    • miga says:

      I’ve heard about war horse- I really wanted to see it! A friend of a friend used to be the horse’s head on Broadway- apparently the puppetry really takes a toll on the actors. I don’t know about unions in Australia, but the actor’s unions in the US are really good–the production was required to hire masseuses to work on the actors in between shows.

      • I hope our unions are up to the mark! I was thinking during the show what a hard job the puppetry is. The head controller has their arms extended up so much of the time, and I don’t suppose that head is lightweight, though they’re not taking its full weight. They’re on stage most of the time, too. And the body controllers don’t just have the weight of the puppet, they have to be able to take the weight of the actors springing onto the horses’ backs as well. It’s one hell of a job, and they do it so well!

      • moviemaedchen says:

        Apparently I need to stop looking at computer screens for today, because I originally read

        I don’t know about unions in Australia

        as

        I don’t know about unicorns in Australia.

        Sigh.

      • I now have an image of a unicorn wearing a hat with corks hanging off the brim.

        Which is a pretty cool image. :D

    • JBL55 says:

      I highly recommend the book. I think the movie was based on the play, but there are definite differences between the movie and the book.

    • Am I right in thinking the book was told from Joey’s perspective? I got that impression during the video of the making of the play, where they talked about the difficulty of tranlating it from book to stage.

  14. miga says:

    Neeeever mind. You can delete this one since it’s stuck too. No need for duplicates.

  15. konkonsn says:

    I finally finished Batman: Under the Hood. It was a dozen times funnier than its movie counterpart (I shouldn’t like Blackmask, but his dialogue really made some of the best parts of the book). Unfortunately, it was also not as sentimental as the movie; the movie made me feel a lot of sympathy for Jason Todd and sparked my interest in him as a character. He was more of the typical comic villain here (but that may also be because the story was more centered in universe than as a stand-alone).

    Anyway, it was definitely worth buying.

    • dawnofthenerds says:

      I loved that movie, though Batman’s definitely not my favourite superhero. Sounds like I should read the book too, thanks!

  16. I just started reading Zadie Smith’s NW and I’m excited for it! It’s my first Zadie Smith book.

    In other news I am breaking out like woah, but that’s not as interesting. Also my asthma has been acting up! Does anyone else have asthma so we can gather in a circle and sympathy-wheeze at each other?

  17. wanttobeanon says:

    I just finished Moby Dick and god it was boring. I can’t remember if I actually read it in college or just read the Cliff notes, but I read the whole thing this time and good lord. I’ve been told that it’s not considered to be that racist for its time, because the overt racism is sort of frowned upon by the tone of the narrative, but it struck me as SO RACIST. And also deeply boring unless you’re really into descriptions of whale oil and hunting. I usually read a book of that length in a handful of evenings before bed. This one took a couple months because most times I opened it and read a few pages, I got sleepy immediately. Great for my insomnia.

    • Donna L says:

      I have tried to read Moby Dick half a dozen times in the last 40 years, and have never gotten past the excruciating chapter on ceteology. Snore.

      • Donna L says:

        I wonder why my very brief comment agreeing with you about the stultifyingly boring nature of that book went into moderation. Perhaps because of the second half of the title?

      • PeggyLuWho says:

        This is really encouraging my inner 12-year-old. It’s taking all I got to contain zir.

      • Donna L says:

        [redacted]

      • Donna L says:

        I just submitted a comment consisting solely of that word, and it did go into moderation. So I guess I have my explanation.

      • tigtog says:

        Empirical experimentation rules!

      • I just submitted a comment consisting solely of that word,

        This is cracking me up.

      • PeggyLuWho says:

        I suddenly want to name my first born or next pet Redacted.

      • wanttobeanon says:

        I felt like I needed to read it, because it’s in the house and I have been buying way too many books lately (can’t get to the library), and because it is a classic and I was an English major. I guess it was worth it for the quick and easy inducement to sleep. But you’re not missing anything. The titular whale doesn’t show up until the last few pages, the rest is a hardcore snoozefest.

      • Donna L says:

        I did read the Classic Comic Book version when I was 8 or 9, and liked it quite a bit. Much more than the book itself!

    • Ok good, cause I tried to read it and got like two pages in and just went “nope, sorry” and I thought I was a literary failure.

      • wanttobeanon says:

        I remember being excited to read it in school, because of the famous first line and the whole adventure at sea thing. Yeah… not so much.

      • wanttobeanon says:

        *(At first, I mean. Once I actually cracked open the book, all illusions were destroyed.)

  18. That NYT article now has a challenger for worst article of the year. (MASSIVE TW: sexual assault in a medical setting and a rape “joke” as the lede.)

    • FUCK. >_< That was stomach-turning.

      • And, as of this posting, it’s still there despite drawing attention from some news aggregators and what I assume must be an avalanche of calls and e-mails from disgusted readers (strangely, there don’t seem to be any comments on any columns, despite the Star having a depressingly typical comment environment).

    • Ginjoint says:

      Auditorydamage, that was sickening. I emailed the writer of the article, Rosie DiManno, and told her so. Here’s her email: rdimann@thestar.ca. (Notice that even though her name ends with an “O”, it’s not included in her email address.) I also sent the email to the city desk (city@thestar.ca) and the public editor (publiced@thestar.ca).

      Here’s what I said:

      Rosie,
      The first line of your column about the victims of the rapist anesthesiologist Doodnaught (“She lost a womb but gained a penis”) is absolutely vile. Is that supposed to be some kind of joke?! Are you trying to be clever? Because really, with that one line, you’re not only mocking the victims but assaulting them again, albeit in a different way.

      I can’t…I cannot believe you thought that was at all professional, appropriate, or even remotely sensitive to the victims. Where the hell is your brain, exactly? Your judgment? For that matter, where the hell is your conscience?!

      There’s so much more I want to say, but I don’t want this to letter to devolve into a series of profane comments. So I’ll sign off. But I’ll say this: you took a topic that was sickening to begin with (not your fault, I know that) and made it one thousand times worse with a mere eight words. And re-harmed people who have already been horribly victimised at the same time! Well done!

      [redacted].

      – Ginjoint

  19. dawnofthenerds says:

    I’m finally working my way through the Silmarillion, and I’m pleasantly surprised by the variety of stories and roles for women in the book. Still far from feminist, very male centered, very prone to damsels in distress, and racist as FUCK!!! but it did have several narratives where women had a great deal of agency. Also, finally really getting into Classic Doctor Who while I knit my scarf :D

    • I’m pleasantly surprised by the variety of stories and roles for women in the book.

      This is what happens when Guy Badass Gavriel Awesome Kay writes from others’ writers’ notes.

      Still far from feminist, very male centered, very prone to damsels in distress, and racist as FUCK!!!

      This is sadly what happens when Guy Badass Gavriel Awesome Kay is required to write what’s in others’ writers’ notes.

      • dawnofthenerds says:

        Ooh, thanks! I did not know that. That would explain why the characterization seemed way more deft than Tolkein usually manages. I will add Guy Gavriel Kay to my to-read list.

      • OMG if you haven’t read Kay before, DO IT DO IT DO IT. The Fionavar Tapestry (and its sorta-sequel Ysabel), which is his only high-fantasy work, is what LoTR wants to be when it grows up. The rest is mostly historical-ish fantastical fiction. My personal favourites are the Fionavar books, and The Lions of Al-Rassan (which I’ve actually read very few times because it’s rather like volunteering to have your heart ripped out and fed to you very gently). A Song For Arbonne is also a really good start to his works.

  20. PeggyLuWho says:

    Just won my soccer match. And the Niners are going to the Superbowl. Hooray sport!

  21. Kristen J. says:

    Work. Work. Work. Chi doesn’t even wait for me to come home any more and Mr. Kristen has taken to visiting me in the office just to hang out. I need a new job.

  22. April says:

    I’m reading Rebel Cities by David Harvey for a book club I just joined that we call “neoliberalism and its discontents,” which is a funny name that I love.

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