Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday

Promote yourself.


Netiquette reminders:

  • Want to recommend someone else’s writing instead? Try the latest signal-boosting thread.
  • we expect Content Notes as a courtesy to our readers for problematic content in linked posts and/or their comment threads (a habit of posting only triggering/disparaging links may annoy the Giraffe (you really don’t want to annoy the Giraffe)), Content Notes are not needed if your post title is already descriptive of problematic content.
  • extended discussion of self-promotion links on this thread is counter-productive for the intended signal-boosting –  the idea is for the promoted sites to get more traffic.  If it’s a side-discussion that would be off-topic/unwelcome/distressing on the other site, take it to #spillover after leaving a note on this thread redirecting others there.
Posted in General | Tagged , | 15 Comments

Open Thread with Strelitzia

This Strelitzia flower (commonly known as “Bird of Paradise” flowers) features for this week’s Open Thread. Please natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything* you like over this weekend and throughout the week.

photo of a single Strelitzia flower spike with vivid orange and blue petals

“Bird of Paradise – what a lovely flower!” | By Frank Kovalchek from Anchorage, Alaska, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

So, what have you been up to? What would you rather be up to? What’s been awesome/awful?
Reading? Watching? Making? Meeting?
What has [insert awesome inspiration/fave fansquee/guilty pleasure/dastardly ne’er-do-well/threat to all civilised life on the planet du jour] been up to?


* Netiquette footnotes:
* There is no off-topic on the Weekly Open Thread, but consider whether your comment would be on-topic on any recent thread and thus better belongs there.
* If your comment touches on topics known to generally result in thread-jacking, you will be expected to take the discussion to #spillover instead of overshadowing the social/circuit-breaking aspects of this thread.

Posted in Life, Politics, Popular Culture, The Cultural Canon | Tagged | 34 Comments

Spillover #27

A red "Keep Calm" poster with the caption KEEP CALM AND STAY ON TOPICComments on our 26th #spillover thread are about to close, so it’s time for a new one. Some reminders:

  1. #spillover is part of our comment moderation system for keeping other threads on-topic. It is intended as a constructive space for tangential discussions which are veering off-topic on other threads. This is part of our blog netiquette, which has the general goal of making it as simple as possible for commentors to find discussions focussed on topics of particular interest without entirely stifling worthwhile tangents of sorta-related or general interest. #spillover is also a space for those ongoing/endless disagreements and 101 issues that just keep on popping up.
  2. Commentors are encouraged to respect the topic of each post and be proactive regarding inevitable thread-drift in long threads: we hope that commentors will cheerfully volunteer to take off-topic responses into #spillover so that each post’s discussion gets room to breathe and tangents can be indulged in a room of their own.

More detailed outline/guidelines were laid out on Spillover #1.
The Moderator Team will enforce topicality where necessary, and off-topic commentors who ignore invitations from others to take their tangents to #spillover are one of the reasons commentors might consider sending the moderators a giraffe alert.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

Want to do something for Autism Awareness Month?

This series of tweets from @twoscooters sums up the major division in autism activism – the parents of autistic children not listening to the opinions of adults living with autism based on their own life experiences, and too many media and medical organisations siding with those parents:


[Embedded image-text transcript: “LAPD officers who shot unarmed man with autism awarded millions in discrimination lawsuit”]

Listen to the voices of those who have lived autism from the inside, just for a change.

Posted in Health, relationships | Tagged , , | 34 Comments

So apparently this is a thing: wearing a hijab for Lent

ICYDK: Lent is the six-week period between Ash Wednesday (the day after Mardi Gras, which is of course the last day of debauchery and excess before the start of Lent) and Easter in many wings of Christianity. It’s supposed to be a time of prayer and repentance in preparation for the Big E, and many Christians commit to fasting and/or the sacrifice of certain luxuries to better appreciate the temptation and the suffering of Jesus and his sacrifice (or something. Stories vary). This can come in the form of giving up alcohol or a favorite snack food, kicking a bad habit, praying more, doing volunteer work, or… other stuff, apparently.

Jessey Eagan, a white Christian woman living in Peoria, Illinois, told the Christian Post that she is wearing the hijab for 40 days so that she can “love other people who are friends, strangers and enemies.” Eagan has taken to documenting her journey on #40DaysOfHijab; she has also given multiple interviews to national news sites about what she’s learned so far. Eagan’s troubling attempt to promote diversity also includes using makeup to “darken” her complexion before going “out into the community.”

(Eagan has since said that she does not, in fact, intend to darken her complexion.) Eagan records her experiences over the 40 days of Lent on her blog; reactions from Muslim women have varied. Read breakdowns of the dangers and limitations of “hijab tourism” by Nashwa Khan at RH Reality Check:

Thousands of Muslim women who live in the United States wear the hijab and face discrimination because of it—yet non-Muslim women are praised and heralded for donning it for a single day or month. This approach diminishes the experiences of Muslim women and reinforces the idea that stories from their perspective are not as valuable as stories from non-marginalized people. It strips us of autonomy while not authentically showing our nuanced and multiple truths. In turn, incorrect myths or stereotypes about Muslim people are perpetuated, because we are not given the platforms to speak up for ourselves.

[…]

That said, you also do not have to wear the hijab to face oppression as a Muslim in the West. Efforts like Eagan’s effectively limit the Muslim female experience to those wearing hijab, and the hijab itself to a simple piece of cloth. In reality, the hijab is a complex and multifaceted aspect of Muslim faith that has changed meaning for many Muslims over the years.

And Ala Ahmad at the Daily Dot:

While well-meaning, these examples show that more weight is given to privileged outsiders while ignoring the voices of members of these communities who can speak first-hand to their own struggles. After Lent, Eagan will no longer be a “Muslim,” [white journalist John Howard] Griffin’s skin changed back into its former white complexion, and Banksy eventually left Gaza.

However, Muslim women’s identities aren’t an experiment, and it does them no favors to offer them solidarity while implicitly reinforcing their own marginalization.

Posted in Race & Ethnicity, Religion | Tagged , | 153 Comments

Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday

Promote yourself.


Netiquette reminders:

  • Want to recommend someone else’s writing instead? Try the latest signal-boosting thread.
  • we expect Content Notes as a courtesy to our readers for problematic content in linked posts and/or their comment threads (a habit of posting only triggering/disparaging links may annoy the Giraffe (you really don’t want to annoy the Giraffe)), Content Notes are not needed if your post title is already descriptive of problematic content.
  • extended discussion of self-promotion links on this thread is counter-productive for the intended signal-boosting –  the idea is for the promoted sites to get more traffic.  If it’s a side-discussion that would be off-topic/unwelcome/distressing on the other site, take it to #spillover after leaving a note on this thread redirecting others there.
Posted in General | Tagged , | 15 Comments

Open Thread with Temple Dragon

This brilliantly coloured dragon on the roof of Longshan Temple in Taiwan features for this week’s Open Thread. Please natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything* you like over this weekend and throughout the week.

a dragon sculpture made from hundreds of brightly coloured ceramic tiles on the corner of a temple roof

By WikiLaurent (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

So, what have you been up to? What would you rather be up to? What’s been awesome/awful?
Reading? Watching? Making? Meeting?
What has [insert awesome inspiration/fave fansquee/guilty pleasure/dastardly ne’er-do-well/threat to all civilised life on the planet du jour] been up to?


* Netiquette footnotes:
* There is no off-topic on the Weekly Open Thread, but consider whether your comment would be on-topic on any recent thread and thus better belongs there.
* If your comment touches on topics known to generally result in thread-jacking, you will be expected to take the discussion to #spillover instead of overshadowing the social/circuit-breaking aspects of this thread.

Posted in Life, Politics, Popular Culture, The Cultural Canon | Tagged | 10 Comments

Open Thread with Tagetes flower

A close-up photo of a Marigold (Tagetes) flower features for this week’s Open Thread. Please natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything* you like over this weekend and throughout the week.

A close photo of a marigold with petals that are rusty orange at the centre and golden yellow at the edges

By Tracy Ducasse from North Brookfield, Massachusetts, USA (flickr.com) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

So, what have you been up to? What would you rather be up to? What’s been awesome/awful?
Reading? Watching? Making? Meeting?
What has [insert awesome inspiration/fave fansquee/guilty pleasure/dastardly ne’er-do-well/threat to all civilised life on the planet du jour] been up to?


* Netiquette footnotes:
* There is no off-topic on the Weekly Open Thread, but consider whether your comment would be on-topic on any recent thread and thus better belongs there.
* If your comment touches on topics known to generally result in thread-jacking, you will be expected to take the discussion to #spillover instead of overshadowing the social/circuit-breaking aspects of this thread.

Posted in Life, Politics, Popular Culture, The Cultural Canon | Tagged | 108 Comments

Open Thread with Pi

Pi Day celebrations feature for this week’s Open Thread. Please natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything* you like over this weekend and throughout the week.

Pi pie2

Pi-Pie By GJ [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

So, what have you been up to? What would you rather be up to? What’s been awesome/awful?
Reading? Watching? Making? Meeting?
What has [insert awesome inspiration/fave fansquee/guilty pleasure/dastardly ne’er-do-well/threat to all civilised life on the planet du jour] been up to?


* Netiquette footnotes:
* There is no off-topic on the Weekly Open Thread, but consider whether your comment would be on-topic on any recent thread and thus better belongs there.
* If your comment touches on topics known to generally result in thread-jacking, you will be expected to take the discussion to #spillover instead of overshadowing the social/circuit-breaking aspects of this thread.

Posted in Life, Politics, Popular Culture, The Cultural Canon | Tagged | 38 Comments

When the world seems lousy, remember that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has a Dissenting Collar

In an interview for Yahoo News, Katie Couric took a tour of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s closet and checked out her lacy collars, and I’m cool with that.

In fact, Ginsburg does have a collection of jabots (collars) she wears to spice up her boring, black judicial robes (as one does). She has everyday jabots, a Majority Opinion jabot (crocheted yellow and cream with crystals) for those times when she’s announcing a majority opinion in court, and a blue and white one for sleeping one off during the Statue of the Union address.

Her awesomest jabot of all, of course, is her Dissenting Collar, which is black with gold embroidery and faceted stones and, as Ginsburg told Couric, “looks fitting for dissent.”

Now, normally, I’d be kind of pissed about an interviewer asking a highly accomplished, respected professional woman about her accessories — it falls alongside “how do you balance your children and your work life?” and “how do you stay so fit?” on the list of Questions No One Has Ever Asked Samuel Alito.

But this is a woman who not only collects collars to spice up her robes but assigns them different roles in her everyday life, so it can be argued that, like Madeleine Albright’s lapel pins, this isn’t so much an issue of those women and their accessories, amiright? as of a respected public figure showing off a part of her life that’s obviously meaningful to her. Plus, I like the idea that despite the pressure placed on women in “men’s fields” — particularly fields like law — to remain as undecorated as humanly possible to avoid looking frivolous or giiiiirly, she’s comfortable throwing major jewelry on top of her robe because screw you, I’m Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and I’ve got a hand-embroidered Ass-Whuppin’ jabot in my closet just waiting for you.

And I like the idea that when she was delivering this opinion:

The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would override significant interests of the corporations’ employees and covered dependents. It would deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ belief access to contraceptive coverage that the ACA would otherwise secure. … In sum, with respect to free exercise claims no less than free speech claims, “[y]our right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.”

[…]

Importantly, the decisions whether to claim benefits under the plans are made not by Hobby Lobby or Conestoga, but by the covered employees and dependents, in consultation with their health care providers. … Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby’s or Conestoga’s plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman’s autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults.

Even if one were to conclude that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga meet the substantial burden requirement, the Government has shown that the contraceptive coverage for which the ACA provides furthers compelling interests in public health and women’s well being. Those interests are concrete, specific, and demonstrated by a wealth of empirical evidence.

[…]

Today’s cases, the Court concludes, are “concerned solely with the contraceptive mandate. Our decisions should not be understood to hold that an insurance-coverage mandate must necessarily fail if it conflicts with an employer’s religious beliefs. Other coverage requirements, such as immunizations, may be supported by different interests (for example, the need to combat the spread of infectious diseases) and may involve different arguments about the least restrictive means of providing them.” … But the Court has assumed, for RFRA purposes, that the interest in women’s health and well being is compelling and has come up with no means adequate to serve that interest, the one motivating Congress to adopt the Women’s Health Amendment.

she was probably wearing a collar that looks like something Sif would wear during a party scene in a Thor movie.

(Justice Ginsburg also, she says, has a collection of Notorious RGB t-shirts, which I’m assuming she’s wearing under her robe while she’s wearing her Dissenting Collar on top.)

Posted in Feminism, Fun, Work | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Terry Pratchett, RIP

Terry Pratchett, a kind man and wonderful writer, died this morning. He had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s in 2007.

His work was brilliant. When I was writing my dissertation, which became my first book, about feminist revisions of fairy tales and classical myth, I loaned Witches Abroad, a novel about fairy tales, but really about stories and how important it is not to let them control us, to my advisor. She gave it back to me the following day and said she’d had to put it down after ten pages, because reading it was too much like being inside my head. My head. I first read Terry Pratchett when I was…10, first read Witches Abroad when I was 15. That’s how much his writing and philosophy have shaped me–reading my favorite of his books was too much, for my advisor, like being inside my head. And I don’t think I could ever receive a greater compliment.

Why is his death, the death of a white, male satirist and fantasy writer, worthy of note on a feminist blog? More than one reason, but let me begin with his books about witches.

When I assigned Witches Abroad, a novel about a coven of three witches, two elderly and one young(ish), a student once said to me “I kept waiting for Magrat [the young witch] to do something, to take action–it took me forever to realize that she wasn’t the protagonist! The book isn’t about her!” No, it’s not. How many books do you know that are about, that center, old women, particularly powerful old women? How many books that feature as the driving relationships, relationships between old women, conflict between two [spoiler] elderly sisters, and the love between two elderly best friends (another reason I love the books–is there any doubt that Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg are the most important people in each other’s lives? Nanny Ogg has buried three husbands, and doesn’t seem to miss ’em, but when Granny depends on her, she hustles)? Pratchett wrote several. For Pratchett, we did not stop existing, did not stop being worthy of story and development and complexity, when we got old. Indeed, Granny Weatherwax, in a confrontation with the Queen of the Fairies in Lords and Ladies specifically rejects the notion of staying young (and therefore beautiful) forever:

“That’s the thing about witchcraft,” she said. “It doesn’t exactly keep you young, but you do stay old for longer. Whereas you, of course, do not age,” she added….”And, my lady, old I may be, and hag I may be, but stupid I ain’t….You know I never entered your circle. I could see where it led. So I had to learn. All my life. The hard way. And the hard way’s pretty hard, but not so hard as the easy way. I learned….[Y]ou know nothing, madam, nothing. What don’t die can’t live. What don’t live can’t change. What don’t change can’t learn. The smallest creature that dies in the grass knows more than you. You’re right. I’m older. You’ve lived longer than me but I’m older than you. And better’n you. And, madam, that ain’t hard.”

In We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, about the Rwandan genocide, Philip Gourevitch argues that power, put simply, is the ability to force other people to live and die in your story of them, that Hutu Power created a narrative in which Tutsis had to be killed, and forced Rwandans to live and die in that narrative. Those kinds of stories surround us–about black people, about Jews, about women, about all of us–and we all live within them and fight them as best we can. Witches Abroad is about not falling for stories, even powerful ones, even seductive ones, not letting stories control you, not letting yourself become just a cardboard character. And that is a political message. You can change stories, if you know them well enough. You don’t have to follow the path that a reigning ideology has laid out for you. Not that it’s easy to buck that system–stories fight back, well, we all know that. But you can, and you must, because otherwise you are made less than human. And importantly, Pratchett tells us, you can’t do it just by wishing.

And Pratchett wrote Hogfather, about the importance of the stories we tell ourselves, the lies, the non-physical truths, about the existence of justice, about belief in those stories and how important that is. But even in Hogfather, there are some stories you don’t put up with–The Little Match Girl, for instance. In Pratchett’s version, the entity currently playing the part of Father Christmas shows up and saves her from freezing to death, because that story is harmful bullshit. And we get to make that call–in fact, we have to make that call. It’s our responsibility as thinking human beings. It’s what makes us thinking human beings.

So yes, I think Pratchett deserves a memorial on a feminist website. Because we fight those stories every day, and we try to make new ones out of the old ones we have lying around, and Pratchett shows us that not only do we have to, but that age does not have to stop us, that we can get more powerful and more important as we become old women, not less.

Posted in Literature | Tagged , | 22 Comments

GOP presidential hopeful apologizes for attributing homosexuality to prison rape

[Content note for rape]

Ben Carson, Republican presidential hopeful and an actual brain surgeon, has apologized for an assertion in a CNN interview that homosexuality is obviously a choice because of prison rape.

During the interview Wednesday morning, when Carson was asked by Chris Cuomo whether being gay is a choice, he replied: “Absolutely.”

“Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question,” Carson said.

Yes, Dr. Carson. In hundreds of thousands of cases, something did happen while they were in there. But “and that’s when I decided to be gay” is not the thing that happened.

Carson, once portrayed by Cuba Gooding, Jr., in a TV movie about his medical career, has since said that his “choice of language does not reflect fully [his] heart on gay issues,” and that he doesn’t pretend to know how people come to their sexual orientation. He also asserted that no definitive studies have determined whether people are born into a specific sexual orientation (although he didn’t mention the extensive research indicating that “decided to be gay in prison” isn’t it). He told Sean Hannity in a radio interview that he won’t be talking about gay rights anymore (because “every time [he’s] gaining momentum, the liberal press says, let’s talk about gay rights — and [he’s] just not going to fall for that anymore”).

This is probably for the best, since an attempt to talk about homosexuality in 2013 resulted in him linking homosexuality to bestiality and NAMBLA, and his book, America the Beautiful, posits that, since marriage is a sacred institution, it “should not be degraded by allowing every other type of relationship to be made equivalent to it.”

Immediately prior to his completely scientifically valid statement on the origins of sexual orientation, Carson was placing fifth in a national poll for the Republic presidential nomination, behind Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, and Mike Huckabee.

Posted in GLBTQ, Law, Politics, Sexual Assault | Tagged , | 30 Comments