Weekly Open Thread with Downward Tiger

A tiger stretching in what looks very like a downward dog yoga pose is this week’s host. Please natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything* you like over this weekend and throughout the week.

A fully grown tiger on a timber platform. Its forelegs are extended down and forwards so that its head is almost on the ground, while its haunches are elevated high.

TIger in Downward Dog pose | source: doyouyoga.com

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.


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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.
This entry was posted in Life, Politics, Popular Culture, The Cultural Canon and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to Weekly Open Thread with Downward Tiger

  1. trans_commie says:

    Some good things have happened this week. I started reading Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin, and her writing is excellent. It’s probably the most frightening and triggering feminist book I have ever read, but Dworkin’s analyses of sex as the embodiment of male supremacy are spot-on. Nowhere does she say that all heterosexual PIV intercourse is rape. In fact, she even argues that women also perpetuate male supremacist norms that maintain the status of intercourse as a physical form of power over women. A far cry from the MRA claim that she thinks men and only men are the enemy. I’ve also heard that she was one of the few trans-woman-friendly radical feminists of the 2nd wave, but I’ve heard conflicting stories about that. Regardless of whether she was transmisogynistic, I find her work valuable and insightful.

    The other good thing is that my therapist has confirmed that she is willing to write me a letter of recommendation so I can start HRT (or at least make it easier for me to access hormones in the future). I’m super excited. I know I won’t be able to start HRT right away, and I haven’t even received the letter yet, but I’m glad I have finally made one step closer to feeling less dysphoric and more authentic. The main barriers in the way now are money and coming out to the rest of my family. Now I just need to push myself to finally come out to other family members and get it over with.

    • tigtog says:

      trans_commie, I’m very glad to know that you’re settling into your new home so well and finding the support you deserve. Good for you!

    • someGuy says:

      You might find this old blog post over at Womanist Musings to be worth reading. The poster discussed Dworkin’s early views on trans* folks. The follow up discussion is also worth reading.

  2. Donna L says:

    Ally, I’ll repeat the response I posted to your second paragraph in last week’s Open Thread:

    That’s wonderful news. How very exciting. I remember what I felt like when I realized that I would be starting to do that soon, after having wanted to for so long.

    As for Dworkin, she was as trans-friendly (at least on a superficial level), and as accepting of the need to transition, as any feminist of her time. I believe, however, that she fell into the school of belief that “in the feminist utopia, there will no longer be a need for trans women to transition,” which obviously is far from what I would consider being truly accepting, and doesn’t really show a great deal of understanding of transness.

    I agree with you that it’s nonsensical to say that she believed (or ever argued) that PIV inherently = rape. She was no Witchwind, or whatever the name was of the person who wrote that awful blog post some months ago!

  3. kittehserf says:

    If yoga classes had tigers demonstrating the moves I’d sign up in an instant.

    Has anyone else had the experience of having to make a new CV after years in the same job, and having their brain go AUGH NO bzzzzztcrackle when they look at the template? I should be doing one today but oy, I hate hate hate doing CVs, especially after so long.

    … I think I’ll go on knitting and tooling around on the ‘net instead.

  4. tigtog says:

    I’ve just been invited to host/moderate a discussion panel next week following the performance of a new historical play about the Mancini sisters, because the dramaturge knows that I am a huge history nerd as well as having some performance/MC experience, so I am well chuffed! Really looking forward to it.

  5. Donna L says:

    OK, I have a long comment in moderation (which is still only part of what I wanted to say), so I’ll break it up. (To Tigtog or any other moderator: there’s no point taking the long comment out of moderation if the shorter ones make it through.)

    So I assume that anyone who keeps track even a little bit of “trans issues in the news” probably heard about the controversy over the transphobia reflected in the episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, on LOGO, two weeks ago, when they did a segment called “Female or S**-M****” (it rhymes! so clever!) showing the contestants photos of parts of women’s bodies and asking them to guess whether they were real women or the other kind. There was, of course, a major outcry by trans women and their allies, with a lot of “lighten up”; “you’re too sensitive” pushback from many gay men and other fans of the show.

    This was really nothing knew for RuPaul (who does not identify as trans, by the way; he’s a gay man), given the pun every week “You’ve Got S**-Mail!” that introduces part of the show, and his refusal for years to stop using the “T” word — including complaining once when someone publicly apologized for having used it, and saying “if it were me, I would have just said ‘f***k off, t****y.”

    I understand, but don’t agree with, the argument that the T word has its roots in drag culture so it’s OK for drag queens (and anyone else) to use. My position has always been that it’s historically a slur against trans women, and if anyone wants to “reclaim” it for themselves, fine, but nobody has the right to tell other people it’s OK to use it.

    • Donna L says:

      “nothin new.” I hate when I do that kind of thing!

      • Donna L says:

        “nothing new.” Geez.

      • Donna L says:

        And by the way, the segment I’m talking about was not just trans-misogynistic, but had plenty of plain old garden-variety misogynism, too.

      • ldouglas says:

        I understand, but don’t agree with, the argument that the T word has its roots in drag culture so it’s OK for drag queens (and anyone else) to use.

        Yeah, this. I agree that the idea drag culture is inherently misogynistic/transphobic is silly, but I think that (largely because of the inaccurate conflation of trans* people and crossdressing people in pop culture) people who engage in it have a heightened burden to avoid crossing into transphobia.

        Not sure I’m expressing that well, but it just seems like a situation where there’s a higher possibility of creating/supporting transphobic images/narratives/ideologies than normal.

        Also wide open to the possibility I’m way off base.

    • Andie says:

      I’m of the opinion (putting aside, of course, trans men and women who wish to reclaim it for themselves) that that particular term is only ever appropriate in the context of automobile repair.

      • ollie says:

        That’s interesting, Andie – I understood that trans men using / ‘reclaiming’ tr**** is pretty unacceptable, due to its history of being used to castigate / police trans women and other dmab gender non-conforming folks. As far as I know it’s rarely used to refer to trans men or dfab folk, so we shouldn’t really be ‘reclaiming’ (co-opting) it for our own use. Any trans women here have thoughts on that?

      • Donna L says:

        I agree with you, and I am glad that there are a lot of trans men who understand why it isn’t really their word to reclaim. (I gather that some years ago, it had become fairly common for trans men to refer to themselves and other trans men as t****ies; I remember that for gay trans men there was a term “t****y-f*g” that was in use for a while. I don’t know if it still is.)

      • Andie says:

        Hmm. Didn’t know that. Fair enough.

      • trans_commie says:

        I don’t think “t*****” is for trans men to reclaim, either. In fact, I can’t think of a single transphobic slur that isn’t aimed solely at trans women and other DMAB non-binary folks. “S**m***”, “h*-s**”, “l*****”, and even the slurs ostensibly reserved for cross-dressing men are used against trans women. (“Cross-dresser” is often used against trans women in order to erase their identity.) “Trap” is another example of a transphobic slur being used only for trans women – it literally centers around men’s repulsion of trans women who “look like real women.”

      • ollie says:

        That’s a good point, trans_commie. To be fair, much transphobia – dare I say, almost all? – is actually specifically transmisogyny. There is little hatred aimed at ftm and other dfab genderfucks (although plenty of confusion / condescension / ridicule). The really dangerous stuff is all directed almost exclusively at trans women and non-binary dmab people.

    • Natalie says:

      I’d curious to see if any of the trans alums of the show (I’m trying to think here, Carmen and then there was one other girl right?) would step out and give an opinion. I watch every week and cringed when I saw that segment. I’ve always been a huge RuPaul fan, but I really don’t think it’s appropriate for him to be using that word – he is a gay man who does drag, not a transwoman, what gives him the right to use it?

      • Donna L says:

        Besides Carmen, there’s been Sonique, Monica Beverly Hillz, Stacey Lane Matthews, and Kenya Michaels. So five in all, that I know of. But no, none of them has said anything. To the extent they still make a living doing drag, I can’t imagine that being negative about RuPaul would be good for their careers.

      • Donna L says:

        Natalie, I’m happy to say that Carmen Carrera has spoken out on Facebook. This was her comment:

        https://www.facebook.com/carmencarrerafans/posts/679959392050537?stream_ref=10

        Some of you guys asked me to make a comment so here it goes…
        Although I am certain RuPaul’s Drag Race didn’t mean to be offensive, let this be a learning experience. I think the show has opened up and educated the minds of many people who were ignorant to the world of drag and has made equality and respect a possibility for those involved, not only as equal beings but as phenomenal artists. There has always been a huge presence of trans artists in the drag scene. “Shemale” is an incredibly offensive term, and this whole business about if you can tell whether a woman is biological or not is getting kind of old. We live in a new world where understanding and acceptance are on the rise. Drag Race should be a little smarter about the terms they use and comprehend the fight for respect trans people are facing every minute of today. They should use their platform to educate their viewers truthfully on all facets of drag performance art. ‪#‎SheHasSpok
        en‬

        See also this story on the Advocate, including Carmen’s response to a vicious comment someone made:

        http://www.advocate.com/politics/transgender/2014/04/01/carmen-carrera-slams-idrag-racei-over-transphobic-slur

      • Donna L says:

        I need to go lie down — 90% of the comments towards her a either completely obtuse or nasty or both. And these are people who were supposed to be her “fans.”

  6. Donna L says:

    But no such argument can even be made for “s**-m*** — which has nothing to do with drag culture, and has always been a word associated with trans women, either as an insult or as a word associated with sex work and pornography. It’s not RuPaul’s word to reclaim.

    Anyway, most of the major LGBT rights organizations spoke out immediately, except for GLAAD. Which was surprising, since they usually do speak out right away against homophobia in the media. And since Jenny Boylan is now the co-chair of GLAAD, and there are other well-known trans people on the board, like Christina Kahrl of ESPN. Finally the other day, Jenny came out and explained that GLAAD has been working behind the scenes with the producers of Drag Race (including RuPaul himself), and with LOGO, the self-described LGBT television network.

  7. karak says:

    I cut off a bunch of my hair and dyed some of it pink.

    I’ve cut off my hair a few times before, but it usually happens once every five years, and then I grow it very, very long, because I feel “safer” with this huge, thick mass of brunette hair to protect me from the world.

    Cutting my hair from my waist to barely below my shoulders was very frightening. I also got the underlayer dyed pink, and doing anything permanent to personal appearance is something I’ve always avoided.

    I think I’m really happy with it? I’m excited by how I look and how my friends have responded to it. But I had a moment of pretty intense grief when I realized that my hair was short enough that I couldn’t do the long, elaborate braids and plaits I used to. (Which is funny, because the reason I cut so much off was because I wanted to be able to do more short, cute styles, and I was sick of nothing but low ponytails and braids!!)

    For some people, hair is just hair–no different from a shirt or a pair of shoes, easily changed. For me, hair was a stable point of identity, like my eyes or my skin, and changing it feels really radical.

    How do you feel about your hair?

    • tigtog says:

      I identify pretty strongly with my long hair, even though for half the year I wear it up nearly all the time because of Sydney’s heat. I like the convenience of it – I brush it morning and night, put it up, and that’s it – done, no spray or curlers or other faffing about (just a small amount of anti-frizz rub through for my fine fly-aways). Then in winter I let it fall and sometimes do a few more creative things with how it frames my face. When the stars align, I can look rather like Cousin It from the back, which I like.

      The last time I cut it short was over a decade ago, as part of a charity fundraiser for cancer – I went to a number 1 buzzcut and when it got a little length I briefly went platinum blonde just because I’d never ever done it and I knew I’d never be brave enough to do it once my hair grew long again. That bright blonde didn’t really suit me, but it was fun for a while.

    • kittehserf says:

      I’ve never felt as strongly as you describe about my hair, karak, possibly because it’s only in recent years (and I’m 50) that I’ve got haircuts making the most of it. I might have felt much more like you did if I also had such long, thick hair (envy envy envy).

      It has always been important to me, but not perhaps in such a visceral way; certainly not in a protective sense. I’ve always wanted long hair, ever since childhood when I wasn’t allowed to, and envied my sister her long brunette hair. Mine was mousy and got dyed the minute I had the funds to do it. Also permed, for a while, because it never would curl enough, and by my teens I wanted long curly hair because cavaliers.

      It’s been dyed for decades now, left long when it should really have had layers, then been cut into a 1920s bob for a while, now finally cut into layers for thickness and settled at a bit past shoulder-length. I’ve never been into putting it up because I don’t think it flatters me at all; the most I’ll do is put the back into a clip on really hot days.

      Essentially I’ve wanted it to look like Mr K’s hair most of my life, and only in the last few years have I had a hairdresser with the nous to do it properly, and explain why such-and-such a cut will do this and not that.

    • Angel H. says:

      I’ve been really torn about my hair lately. I have super-thick, ultra kinky-curly, 4c++++++ hair. It’s so thick that as an afro it’s about 1-1/4 inch thick, but when its straightened or in plaits it reaches just past my shoulders. (Picture a Slinky; yep, that’s about right.)

      I’ve tried keeping it natural for a couple of years, but I was never really happy with it. I get migraines already, so if I tried to wrestle with that mess into a halfway-decent style, it would take a lot of time and I would end up in a lot of pain. I ended up getting a relaxer and it was so easy to just brush it back and go. But, of course, I got teased by coworkers and family members for going back to that “creamy crack”.

      Now, I’m overdue for a retouch, and I can’t believe that I’m actually feeling kinda guilty for not letting it just grow out!

  8. Donna L says:

    So today, the following article quoting the show’s producers and LOGO finally appeared on NewNowNext:

    Today, the show’s executive producers released a statement:

    “We delight in celebrating every color in the LGBT rainbow. When it comes to the movement of our trans sisters and trans brothers, we are newly sensitized and more committed than ever to help spread love, acceptance and understanding,” said RuPaul Charles, Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, Tom Campbell, Steven Corfe and Mandy Salangsang.

    Logo said, “We have heard the concerns around this segment. We are committed to sharing a diverse range of trans stories across all of our screens and look forward to featuring positive and groundbreaking stories of trans people in the future.”

    So, basically, not even a faux-pology, never mind an apology. Sad trombone. GLAAD’s attempt to make the best of this, as the culmination of its behind-the-scene efforts, can be found at http://www.glaad.org/blog/dialogue-makes-difference-update-rupauls-drag-race

  9. Donna L says:

    OK, I give up trying to quote Jenny Boylan’s statement, and will just link to it. She came out with her individual comment, not on GLAAD’s behalf, on her own blog, at http://www.jenniferboylan.net/2014/03/29/what-a-drag-a-few-words-about-rupaul-and-trans-representation-in-media/.

    I know Jenny, and think she was doing her best to be positive and still express disappointment at the non-apology. One thing that she did say was: I’m cheered by the statement LOGO made that they will be airing stories, in the future, that shows the complexities of all kinds of trans peoples’ lives. I look forward to seeing those shows. More important to me is a commitment LOGO made that is not reflected in their public statement—- that they are not going to using the word “t——“ on any of their programming again, going forward. It will be GLAAD’s responsibility to hold them to their word. They’ve also committed to putting an end to other anti-trans language on their network.

    I hope she’s right.

  10. Donna L says:

    I just posted my own comment, both on Facebook and at Jenny’s blog, where it’s still in moderation:

    Thanks for your efforts, Jenny, as disappointing and discouraging as I found LOGO’s statement to be. This was the most LOGO was willing to say after almost two weeks? It didn’t even rise to the standard level of faux-pology! I am somewhat heartened by the news that LOGO has, at least privately, committed to not using the T word going forward. I wonder about the s**-m*** word, which is just as bad. When people watch the next new episode of Drag Race on Monday evening, will they still hear “you’ve got s**-mail!”? Or will it be cut out of the broadcast, something that I have no doubt they could do if they really wanted to?

    I won’t hold my breath!

  11. Donna L says:

    More from my comment:

    And I am someone who generally enjoys the show, and loves to talk about it every week with my 23-year old gay son, and took him to see show alumnae Latrice Royale and Dida Ritz at a gay bar in Chicago the night he graduated from the U of C two years ago to celebrate, and is well aware that there are many trans women who’ve gotten their start doing drag., and have met drag queens who consider themselves trans. And I don’t for a moment consider drag to be inherently misogynistic or trans-misogynistic. (I’m frankly amazed when trans women make the latter claim, since it’s exactly what transphobes say about us.)

    Nor, obviously, do I agree for a moment with the homophobic comments that some trans women make about “cis gay men,” or the belief some seem to have that most gay men are transphobic. I can attest that that I haven’t seen anything remotely suggesting that’s true for gay men around my son’s age, at least among those I’ve met — even the ones he hasn’t told about my history!

    But what just happened? It was horrible — as my son agrees completely, and called on the phone to tell me about 30 seconds after that episode ended (he has always been a wonderful ally to me and other trans people, in the same way that I’ve always tried to be for him — and the failure to apologize is pretty much unforgivable.

    • Donna L says:

      Finally, again to tigtog: please don’t bother taking out of moderation the four comments of mine about this that are now in moderation. I managed to get enough through in the end!

      • tigtog says:

        FYI, it’s a 3000-character limit, Donna. Maybe using a text-editor for composition would help you to keep under the limit for longer comments?

      • Donna L says:

        Thanks, tigtog. Now that I know that, in the future I will! (I don’t think it’s ever been mentioned before that going above a certain character limit sends comments into moderation automatically. I always thought it had something to do with the number of words and/or paragraphs and/or block quotes.)

  12. tigtog says:

    I’m horrified by the news out of Bartlesvlle, Oklahoma regarding the only hospital in town, having been purchased by a Catholic health organisation last year, telling the town’s Ob-Gyns that their admitting privileges will be revoked if they prescribe contraceptives (except for non-birth-control treatments).

    When contacted Friday, JPMC officials referred the E-E to Cheena Pazzo, director of St. John Health System Community and Physician Relations.

    Pazzo offered the following statement via email:

    “Consistent with all Catholic health care organizations, St. John Health System operates in accordance with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Facilities.”

    At the time of this publication, there has been no response to questions presented to Pazzo regarding whether the policy is in place at all Ascension Health facilities, if contraceptives can be prescribed for uses other than birth control or whether the policy is effective immediately.

    According to online reports, Ascension Health owns more than 113,000 facilities and has 150,000 associations with more than 1,500 locations in 22 states and the District of Columbia. The company was established in November 1999 and is headquartered in St. Louis, Mo.

    The company has published literature indicating it is decidedly against anything that would cause the death of a fetus.

    • Echo Zen says:

      I’m surprised this hasn’t gotten more press coverage. Granted it’s common for medical groups bought out by Catholic systems to drop women’s healthcare after buyout, but this is the first time such a brazen directive has been issued on this scale. My guess is misogynist leaders are feeling emboldened by Hobby Lobby’s Supreme Court case looking good (due to key justices believing birth control is the same as abortion and thus should be exempted from normal equality statutes). :-/

  13. kittehserf says:

    I’ve finally finished my striped skirt! It looks felted in this pic, but isn’t; it’s just stocking stitch with the purl side out in a rough Noro yarn.

    I scored the belt for $2 at a Brotherhood shop – win!

    http://i.imgur.com/v9WUFP9.png

  14. pheenobarbidoll says:

    Has anyone heard from Mac? She just disappeared from here.

    • PrettyAmiable says:

      I’d just been thinking about her too. One of the last threads she participated in was the anti-trigger warnings thread – I kind of figured she was just over it. I really hope it wasn’t anything more serious :(

    • Donna L says:

      I was thinking exactly the same thing, just last night. I think she said she was “out” at some point recently, but I thought it was just about the particular thread, in which someone was being very critical of her commenting. I hope it’s not more than that.

    • trans_commie says:

      If it means anything, I can tell mac reads my journal from time to time (DreamWidth profiles include a section that lists the latest read entries, and this morning she read my latest entry according to the reading list). So I know she’s still around somewhere on the internet. Perhaps piny’s comment convinced her to stay away from this place for a while until she learns to engage with people in ways that aren’t upsetting/triggering to people like piny, who stated that they stayed away from the Feministe comment section just because of mac. I hope she comes back soon.

    • Andie says:

      Honestly? I hadn’t noticed, mostly because it seems that comments as a whole have slowed to a crawl.

  15. PrettyAmiable says:

    Another day, another news story where mental illness is used as a scapegoat for a preventable tragedy in the US.

    If you’re not aware, there was a shooting on an army base yesterday (where a fairly famous massacre had occurred about five years ago). The suspect then shot and killed himself, so as happens with these tragedies, no one will ever get an answer to why this happened.

    So the media will make one up! You know what makes a good tagline? Vet with PTSD goes on rampage because of his crazy. Oh, he doesn’t have a PTSD diagnosis? Let’s throw in a line about how long it takes t o get diagnosed for PTSD. (Sidebar – I don’t know anyone who has seen a shrink for a diagnosis who wasn’t immediately affirmed that what they were experiencing was PTSD, but I obviously have a limited sample set).

    Did you know that the vast bulk of massacres in the US are committed by random white guys? and most people who develop PTSD are women? It’s almost like we should take a look at what our culture says about conflict resolution rather than fear-mongering about PTSD.

    But what

  16. tigtog says:

    Don’t you just love how the bill in Louisiana requiring abortion clinic doctors to have admitting privileges in a local hospital (when the administrators of those local hospitals can and mostly will refuse to grant these admitting privileges for their own political reasons) is framed as “a bill to protect women”?

    Catholic News Agency: La. House passes abortion clinic regulations to protect women

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