Occasional Link Roundup

Hello! It’s been quite a while since I last did one of these, so it’s going to be quite long and include some slightly-older links. Such is life.

Speaking of life, it’s been pretty busy/weird. I moved to New York, started grad school, started my field placement (all social work students do it three days a week), met a bunch of people, did a bunch of things, and discovered the joys of going grocery shopping and carrying bags on the subway and standing with them for half an hour and then hauling them up to my fourth-floor walkup. You know.

At just under three weeks, I’m still a very very new New Yorker, and it shows when I show up late to basically every social gathering because I can’t Brooklyn or because I neglected to check the subway service advisories. Or when I try to pay with my credit card when half the places here only take cash. Or when I don’t realize that I shouldn’t have bought so many groceries at a time because I’d have to carry them on the subway and stand with them for half an hour and then haul them up to my fourth-floor walkup.

But considering what a dramatic change in my life this was (biggest move since I immigrated to the United States 16 years ago, fuck yeah!), I’m sort of dealing? I love it here so much. I love that today I went to a feminist group meeting and tomorrow I’m going to a thing called Nerd Nite which has lectures and live music and booze and on Saturday I’m hanging out with one of my best friends and on Sunday I’m checking out more bookstores and on Monday I’m meeting with the other leaders of another feminist group and on Tuesday I’m going to see this ridiculously cool-looking play about Gary Kasparov and Deep Blue. I could keep going but I don’t want to make you guys too jealous.

And on top of all that, I get to see stuff like this and this and this and this and this, and eat stuff like this.

Life is good. Hard and busy and stressful but so good.

On to the links!

1. Cliff talks about changing her name from a very feminine one to a gender neutral/male-ish one, and discovering how differently she was treated online:

I used to think people called me irresponsible, dirty, immoral, or speculated about me having diseases because I wrote about having multiple partners.

Then I changed my name from Holly to Cliff.

2. Libby Anne discusses atheist men who want to “save” women from religiously-motivated sexism:

Far too many atheists appear to think that so long as they’re not religious, they surely can’t be sexist. This is wrong. Very wrong. Sexism does not cease at the church door. If a male atheist wants to attempt to deconvert women by focusing on the sexism imbedded in many religions, he needs to make sure that he’s not engaging in sexism himself, and he darned well better be ready to address his own sexism if it is pointed out to him.

3. Tauriq explains that asking to be called what you’d prefer to be called is not “censorship” or “political correctness”:

To claim “censorship” over “compassion”, PC over politeness, is to only reinforce that you don’t actually care about language and, therefore, the other person; it’s to continue weaving the cocoon of solipsism that’s being pointed out, preventing you from actually acknowledging someone that’s not you or like you. This doesn’t mean unnecessary censorship or policing of words or phrases doesn’t exist: mockery of religion, politics and ideas – even monarchy – resulting in bans or firing is problematic.

But it’s fallacious, black-and-white thinking to claim that any time, anyone requests you not say or refrain from saying something it’s censorship: This shows you don’t recognise nuance in a complicated world; you fail to acknowledge that different things require different responses even if they appear – at first glance – the same.

4. Lisa Wade examines some gendered American Apparel advertisements side-by-side and uncovers some hilariously sad differences.

5. Tressie writes about Miley Cyrus and the use and abuse of Black women’s bodies by white women (and men):

I am no real threat to white women’s desirability. Thus, white women have no problem cheering their husbands and boyfriends as they touch me on the dance floor. I am never seriously a contender for acceptable partner and mate for the white men who ask if their buddy can put his face in my cleavage. I am the thrill of a roller coaster with safety bars: all adrenaline but never any risk of falling to the ground.

6. Jane Doe, MD on Twitter talks about the shame many women feel about their genitals and how it has harmful consequences for their health.

7. Ian may have left FtB, but he’s still off being awesome elsewhere:

Identifying as “a skeptic” does not somehow mean that all the things you do, all of the heuristics you use when arriving at conclusions, are magically imbued with skepticy power. Your brain is not better because you have chosen to affix a label to yourself. If anything, the use of a label in the place of a behaviour suggests a brain that is less engaged, not more. The moment that you stopped questioning your own assumptions, the second you abandoned the premise that you might be wrong about something, the instant you precluded from yourself the possibility that you are prone to the same errors that everyone else is, that’s when you stopped being “a skeptic”.

You are “a skeptic” right up until the point when you stop acting like one.

(By the way, I wrote something very similar [before Ian wrote this, I might add] that you might also enjoy, in case you haven’t read it yet.)

8. Alex thinks you should stop asking people for “coffee”:

The popularity of “coffee” stems, I think, from that ambiguity. It serves as both euphemism and get-out clause, putting dating or sex on the table with plausible deniability – ask to hook up, and your neck is on the line; ask them for coffee, and rejection can be parried with face-saving statements that you “didn’t mean it like that”.

[…]The trouble is, that ambiguity puts the other person‘s neck on the line. Inviting someone neither to dating or sex, nor a social event, but to something which could usually mean either places on them the burden of interpretation; of negotiating correctly an advance chosen for its disclarity.

9. Mitchell has produced a very useful guide for Freeze Peach Warriors and Brave Heroes who have been blocked on Twitter:

Second, remember that though these violations of our rights are serious, the powers that be have, in reality, only erected a proverbial Maginot line against truth and justice. Blocked on the Internet? Remember that you can still employ an army of sock puppets to do your truthy bidding! Those people in the park don’t want to hear your speech about the merits of Men’s Rights Activism? Follow them when they try to leave! Don’t stop until you’ve made sure they’ve heard everything you have to say! Family down the street doesn’t want to listen to your doorstep speech about Jesus how feminism is keeping us down? Look up all of their online accounts and make sure they can’t go two minutes without being bombarded by the free exchange of ideas!

10. The Belle Jar on being a woman writer:

When a man says flattering things about your writing, you will always be left wondering whether it is your work that interests him, or the fact that you are young, conventionally attractive and female. Most frequently it will be the former, but still, you can never shake off the fear that you are not so much talented as you are naïve and pretty. You often feel as if you are only valuable in so much as men desire to fuck you.

11. Ultra Orthodox Jewish sects in New York City have a scary amount of political influence, as Adam discusses.

12. Franklin tackles the common but ridiculous assertion that feminist men are just fakin’ it to get laid:

I don’t quite get what’s going on in the head of some guy who thinks pretending to be feminist is a ploy to get laid, but I have to assume that a guy who thinks that, probably doesn’t think women are very smart. If someone pretends to think women are people, but doesn’t actually think women are people, I suspect the ploy would be revealed rather quickly. Probably some time between appetizers and the main course, and certainly well before any clothes come off. I really don’t think it’s possible to pretend to be feminist, at least not for any length of time longer than a dinner conversation.

13. Paul Fidalgo has some of the most lyrical writing ever. Read this piece about sleep.

14. Ginny wrote a great post about anger: how it can be both useful and not useful for social change, and how, ultimately, expressing anger isn’t always about social change:

But all of that is about anger as a tactic, anger as a tool for change, and that’s only part of the story. The other piece of it is anger as simple self-expression: oppressed people have many, many reasons to be angry, and telling them to curb their anger and express themselves in a way that’s polite and acceptable to those who are profiting from the system that oppresses them — well, many words have been written on how wrong that is, and I agree with them. Anger is only sometimes, and only partly, about creating social change; it’s also about letting the damage be real, and be heard. It’s not about me at all; it’s about letting someone who’s been hurt just fucking react honestly to that hurt.

15. Aoife explains why you should stop accusing every homophobic person of being a closeted queer person:

But when you say that the loudest homophobes are closeted LGBT folks, you erase the fact that the vast, vast majority of homophobia doesn’t come from closeted people. It comes from straight people. Casual, everyday homophobia overwhelmingly comes from straight people (and yes, by the way, I know that all of you aren’t like that). The vast majority of people who vote against marriage equality are straight. The vast majority of the people who draft gender recognition legislation that enshrines gatekeeping, divorce, diagnoses and compulsory surgery are cis. The people who think that knowing we even exist should be kept from kids, because we’re too ‘confusing’? Mostly straight and cis. The people who treat us ever-so-slightly differently, who tokenise us, who judge us by how closely we conform to stereotypes? Mostly straight and cis. And, yeah, most of the people who brainwash, reject and demonise us are straight and cis too.

. This post by Melissa McEwan wins every award ever.

I am advised, by people who imagine that rape prevention is the responsibility of potential victims and survivors, that I must be careful what I wear, how I wear it, how I carry yourself, where I walk, when I walk there, with whom I walk, whom I trust, what I do, where I do it, with whom I do it, what I drink, how much I drink, whether I make eye contact, if I’m alone, if I’m with a stranger, if I’m in a group, if I’m in a group of strangers, if it’s dark, if the area is unfamiliar, if I’m carrying something, how I carry it, what kind of shoes I’m wearing in case I have to run, what kind of purse I carry, what jewelry I wear, what time it is, what street it is, what environment it is, how many people I sleep with, what kind of people I sleep with, who my friends are, to whom I give my number, who’s around when the delivery guy comes, to get an apartment or condo or house where I can see who’s at the door before they can see me, to check before I open the door to the delivery guy, to own a dog or a dog-sound-making machine, to get a roommate, to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch my back always be aware of my surroundings and never let my guard down for a moment lest I be sexually assaulted and if I am and didn’t follow all the rules it’s my fault, which I already know firsthand from having been raped and seeing about 1 in 6 of my female friends and about 1 in 10 of my male friends going through it and getting victim-blamed, at least once and frequently more.

I am persistently terrorized by the ever-present possibility of sexual assault that I am tasked with preventing and the knowledge, the first-hand knowledge branded into my memory like a scar that never quite heals from the sizzle of the iron that left it, that if I am harmed, there will likely be no one there to advocate for justice on my behalf, no matter how loudly I shout nor how deeply I dig my own fingernails into my skin to escape the agony of injustice and neglect for a blissful moment of self-directed pain.

I fear being hurt again, and I fear being a failure at surviving.

This fear is part of the backdrop of my womanhood.

What good things have you read or written lately? Share them here!

Occasional Link Roundup

Occasional Link Roundup

Much travel = little writing. Sorry!

First of all, Chana Messinger and I will be on Google+ at 7 PM Eastern tonight talking about Jewish atheism and our experiences with it. You’ll be able to find the stream here once it starts, but it’ll also be saved to YouTube afterward. Although we’ve been planning to do this for a while (like, a year), we figured this would be a good time because it’ll give people some background for understanding this whole hullabaloo with the Freedom From Religion Foundation and Ohio’s planned Holocaust memorial. So, watch that!

Second, I should also warn you that for the next few weeks my life is going to consist largely of packing, crying a lot, and moving to New York, so if posts continue to be rare, that’s what’s going on. It’s difficult for me to think about Big Issues when my mind’s completely choked up with questions like, How the fuck will I pay for all of this? When the fuck will I ever see my friends and family again? Where the fuck is the fucking laundromat/coffee shop/bookstore? What the fuck am I supposed to eat? Who the fuck are all these people I’m meeting? Why the fuck is this so hard? You know.

So wish me luck.

Here’s some stuff to read/do.

1. Ben Blanchard, a dear friend of mine and a fantastic activist, is spending a year abroad for a research/service trip called the Pathfinders Project (you might remember it from their FtBCon panel). He needs help funding his trip, and you should help him if you can!

2. If you still have some spare funds left over after that, consider donating them to Skepticon. Of all eight secular cons I’ve been at so far, that one was undoubtedly the most fun and it’s also free!

3. The Thinking Asexual has an amazing post about a concept called the “physical touch escalator“: the idea that a certain type of touch must necessarily lead to the “next” type of touch:

The physical touch escalator is based on the premise that each form or level of touch on the spectrum automatically and undoubtedly implies a progression to the next form or level, usually beginning somewhere after “nonromantic/casual hugs.” Therefore, if you enthusiastically engage in one type of nonsexual, affectionate touch with someone, you are expected to eventually engage in whatever physical act comes after it on the spectrum—and keep going until you eventually reach penetrative sex.

If you don’t want to share Touch C with a person, then you better not agree to share Touch B, and if you go through with Touch C, you’re implying that you’re interested in Touch D, etc. The nonsexual forms of physical affection are only means to a sexual end, their main value the potential for sex that they carry by default.

4. Captain Awkward talks about red flags when job-hunting–for job seekers, not employers. Although few of us are in a position to be picky about the jobs we accept, this is still really useful for knowing what you’re getting into.

What personalities are involved? Look at their social media activity if you can find it. Don’t stalk them or follow them if you weren’t already or feel like you have to read every Tweet, but, is the overall picture that emerges a good one? Do you know people or have interests in common? Is their username Wh1tePr1de666 and do their tweets contain a lot of un-ironic uses of “misandry?” There’s a weird etiquette thing where everyone pretends that they aren’t looking at this stuff, but they’ll almost certainly be Googling you. Google or Bing! them right back.

5. I’ve been posting a lot on Facebook about the erosion of LGBTQ rights in Russia, but I haven’t really written about it here. Will has a post about it and why he’s boycotting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi:

A few days ago, it was reported that Neo-Nazi Russian nationalists have been using a popular social networking site to lure LGBT teens (particularly gay male teens) into traps and then torture them. Of course, the teens have no protection because of the law recently signed by Putin, so these fucking assholes are making videos of the attacks and posting them online. In the video at that link [warning: it is a graphic video], a teen from Moscow who was lured through the social media site is bullied, tortured, and doused with urine in public and in broad daylight. These are not attacks that are happening in alleyways at night.

The Russian government has also arrested and detained gay-rights activists, including four Dutch activists who were attending a human rights seminar at a summer camp. One lawmaker has called for the public flogging of gay people, as well as their “re-education.”

There is a very real and present danger for queer people in Russia.

6. Lucia writes (amazingly) about the way women are “renamed” by street harassment–called names like “sexy” and “baby” rather than their actual names.

These names—adjectives or nouns turned into imposed identities—have been hurled at me from across the street, whispered into my ear by abusive individuals, or spoken to me by men who were little more than acquaintances and wanted only to sleep with me or objectify me. I was no longer myself, but was being claimed, written on, territorialized by the naming practices of street harassment and male entitlement. And it didn’t just stop there. The re-naming of women is often followed by attempts to solicit sexual favours, to imply sexual availability, to taunt, terrify, and to try and tell women that they are nameless, faceless, and powerless.

7. Leopard discusses the exotification of Asian women:

Have a wander round any online dating site or Internet forum discussing Asian women, and you’ll notice that one of the most attractive things about Asian women, according to white men, is our apparent ability to “treat our man right”. But what does “right” entail? Well, to put it simply, “treating a man right” is to treat him as superior. Time and time again, Asian women are lauded for our supposedly meek and gentle natures, for our submissive attitudes, for our rejection of feminist values. (Hah!) Through their fetishisation and racist assumptions about Asian women, they reveal their attitudes towards relations with women in general: one should be quiet and meek, contented with a subordinate status, and eager to serve.

8. Paul Fidalgo is a really great writer. This is a short piece about how he learned about death as a kid and how his son is learning about it now.

9. Dan explains the hypocrisy of people who claim that abusive words are “free speech” but then condemn those who criticize those words:

Unbelievably, for all their adamant explicit insistence on everyone’s freedom to say whatever one wants, they don’t think that complaining about insults is the sort of free speech that should never be criticized. One is allowed to engage in any kind of silencing, bullying speech, unless that silencing speech takes the form of “don’t bully people”. Then suddenly their hypocritical free speech absolutism reaches its limits and they tell others what kinds of speech not to engage in.

10. Thomas has a great nuanced take on the newest Anthony Weiner/Carlos Danger fiasco:

I don’t think the faithfulness of politicians is entirely a private matter.  I don’t need or want my political leaders to be monogamous; I don’t care if they are.  But I do want to know if they can be trusted.  When they say what they intend to do, we as voters often feel like we’re going to be played for suckers by unscrupulous self-servers who run for office largely for personal self-aggrandizement.  Because we usually are.  But one really material way to know if that’s what’s going to happen is whether the politician in question remains true to the people who they know best and have the longest, closest relationship with.  That’s often their spouses.  I don’t care that they promise monogamy, but if they do and ignore that promise, I hold it against them.

The problem is that public profession of monogamy is about as mandatory as public profession of religiosity.  Those political couples with more flexible arrangements, and there are surely some, won’t tell us.  There would be a serious political cost, because the world doesn’t share my values.

11. The Belle Jar Blog has a great rant about women who claim they’re “not that girl.”

12. Why it’s extremely annoying and counterproductive when men dismiss feminist writing with “yeah well not all men are like that”:

Having to point out that not every man exhibits explicitly harmful behavior allows for oppression to continue because having to say “some men do harmful things” gives oppressors peace of mind.  It reassures them, falsely, that only a small portion of men behave in a way that is detrimental to the liberation of groups outside of white men (so, most people).  It reassures them that said white men don’t have to critique their own behavior or think long and hard about why their shitty behavior is damaging to everyone else.

13. Zinnia wrote a really important post about the representation of trans women in the media and the tropes that comedies and documentaries succumb to:

When we point out the myriad shortcomings of most representations of trans people, we’re often asked what could improve this. What would constitute a truly positive representation of trans people in the media, when even the most apparently compassionate approaches are still almost irredeemably toxic?

I don’t believe such a thing is currently possible. When I go about my daily life, I don’t want to be the subject of lazy and hateful jokes, and I also don’t want my existence to serve as someone’s teachable moment. I want normalcy. We want to be able to live without being treated as either freaks to laugh at or zoo exhibits to learn about. We want to be human fucking beings. We want the normalcy of being left alone as others are — and this normalcy is precisely what society won’t allow us to have right now.

What have you read/written lately?

Occasional Link Roundup

Occasional Link Roundup

So I spent this past weekend at CONvergence in Minnesota, getting chased by a lifesize Dalek, going to panels on cool science stuff such as animal penises, consuming geeky drinks, and hanging out with awesome people. I have a few days to recover from that before I go to Columbus this weekend for the SSA annual conference, where I’m giving a talk about the importance of secular sex education in schools. There will be a video up later this summer if you want to see it!

Here’s some stuff to read.

1. Just kidding, not really a thing to read, but. You’ve probably heard of FtBCon already. It’s July 19-21. You should like our page on Facebook and RSVP attending to our event if you’re going! I’m moderating a panel on sex and skepticism, but we’ll be officially announcing all the panels soon.

2. Sister Outsider (@feministgriote on Twitter) explains why and how you should donate your used clothing to domestic violence/homeless shelters, not to places like Goodwill.

3. s.e. smith explains why it’s useful to think of yourself as a person who could potentially rape someone. It may sound unreasonable, but give it a read:

Recognising that each of us has a capacity to push too far, and probing that ability within yourself, is important if you’re going to be sexually active. Because if you truly do want to be respectful of your partners, not raping them is rather key to that, and ‘not raping’ is not always a simple, clear, easy act; you have to start by acknowledging that you have the capacity to override another person’s consent, and that your intentions in the encounter don’t matter when it comes to the outcome. If your desire was to have a mutually enjoyable fun time and your partner did not have fun, perhaps felt pressured or uncomfortable, it may not necessarily have been rape, depending on how your partner felt, but it definitely wasn’t what you set out to accomplish.

4. On people who tell those considering abortion to “just have the baby”:

To say “Just have the baby” is to say “Just risk a prolonged illness, surgery, and the loss of your income when you have a lot of new expenses.” It’s to tell someone casually that they should sign up for the possibility of experiencing more physical pain and agony than they thought a person could live through, and maybe having a great deal of it continue for days, weeks, months, possibly even years.

5. Ed discusses some research that suggests that racial privilege and bias is embedded in our healthcare system (surprise surprise):

To put it another way, these results indicate that there is a medical cost to be placed upon the perception of one’s color. The whiter you appear, the more likely you are to reach out for preventive healthcare and the more comfortable you’ll feel about it when physically inside the doctor’s office.

6. Heina discusses the idea, often espoused by pickup artists, that if someone says “no” to sex, you should respect that but only for a little while and then try again later:

It’s hard to say “yes” to anything at all when you know that a single “yes” you issue can be taken to be a “yes” to anything and everything at all. More frighteningly, it’s hard to say yes when you know that any “no” you issue, even one as dramatic and clear as a “STOP”, “GET AWAY FROM ME,” or a shove, would be taken seriously. That’s the world in which we live and it sucks. It sucks for women and for men. I’d like to imagine we can build a better world than one where straight men and straight women are pitted against each other in some kind of epic battle where one side thinks the other doesn’t want them while the other feels it has to constantly fend off unwanted advances.

7. Ten ways to know that feminism might not be for you. Read all of this; it’s brilliant.

I know that I’ve pointed out a ton of things that people do that are unfeminist, but the flip side of this is that there’s no one way to be a feminist.

You can be a feminist and be married. You can be a feminist and be single. You can be a feminist and have kids. You can be a feminist and be childless. You can be a feminist and take your partner’s last name. You can be a feminist and keep your last name. You can be a feminist and breastfeed. You can be a feminist and formula-feed. You can be a feminist and work outside the home. You can be a feminist and stay home with your kids.

You can be a feminist in a box. You can be a feminist with a fox. You can be a feminist in a house. You can be a feminist with a mouse.

8. This is a few-months-old article by Dr. Nerdlove about getting a “yes” rather than just trying to avoid a “no” when it comes to sex:

The idea of enthusiastic consent is all about making sure that your partner is genuinely into having sex… that you are getting clear and unambiguous signals that he or she wants to fuck. It’s the difference between “Dear God I want to fuck you right now” and “Yeah… I guess, whatever” when they really mean “no”. Similarly, a partner who is simply not resisting but otherwise not saying anything is not giving enthusiastic consent. It’s about more than just needing to get off – because that’s easy enough to do on your own – but having an experience with your partner. It makes sex about the two (or more…) of you rather than one person using the other as a sex toy that can occasionally help move boxes and dust the window sills.

9. When people talk about sexual harassment, they’re often told that perhaps the men who women consider “creepy” are just autistic and it’s ableist to accuse them of being creepy. This post addresses that claim and a few of the problematic aspects of it:

In the context of harassment, though, the possibility of neurodivergence is almost solely deployed in order to protect men and absolve them of responsibility for inappropriate and harmful behavior – based on the intensely ableist, patronizing, and incorrect, but nonetheless potent and common, assumption that an ASD would render the man either incapable of acting appropriately or requiring/deserving of protection from any consequences for invasive or harassing actions. Meanwhile, women are assumed to be not only capable of, but actively responsible for, either giving up their boundaries or enforcing them in a way that protects the feelings and dignity of the person who is violating them. The possible impact of neurology or disability on their own methods of handling the situation is not considered. As a result, “But what if he’s autistic?” leaves the neurodivergent woman doubly burdened, both by a male-privileging culture which excuses misbehavior and protects harassers in any way possible including baseless speculations on neurology, and by the erasure and denial of her own experiences as a disabled woman.

10. Thought Catalog has an excellent piece on how to actually pick up women.

Stop saying the words “friend zone.” Stop believing in the existence of a “friend zone.” Stop acting as though being friends with women is some kind of hellish existence you wouldn’t have to endure if only you had game. That’s insulting as hell, and it sorts women into two categories: friends and people you fuck. You know what a girlfriend is? A really good friend who you also have sex with.

Stop saying the words “alpha male.” Stop believing in the existence of “alpha males.” This is not the Sahara or the tundra. You are not a lion or a stag. You are not competing with other men for the right to have sex with the best women. If you act like you are, neither men nor women are going to want to hang out with you.

11. Ana Mardoll has an amazing, heartbreaking piece about the fight for reproductive rights in Texas.

I don’t use birth control because I would dearly like a baby. But I don’t want one so badly that I want to die. Or to be disabled for life even worse than I already am. Or to bear one that has no chance at life, and is doomed only to a short, painful death. Or to bear a potential rapist’s child just because he didn’t wear a condom and I found out too late that the pregnancy wasn’t a result of my and my husband’s attempts at conception.

Now today, thanks to the Republicans in the Texas legislature and senate, I have to make a decision. I have to decide whether the hope I’ve been clinging to is worth more than the fear they’ve imposed on me. And if I decide that I can’t live with the fear, then I have to figure out how to become sterilized, how to convince doctors to let me do so despite my relatively young age, how to get my insurance to cover the procedure, how to pursue sterilization in ways that don’t conflict with my current disability or my medications.

And I have to give up my hope.

12. Being in the closet (about polyamory, in this case, but also about anything) isn’t just about you; it also affects your partners and relationships.

Unless your closet is strictly about what you choose to say (or not), it probably entails expectations of your partners or metamours. You may be requiring them to conceal or obscure the nature of their relationship with you, or with metamours, in all or some contexts — perhaps regardless of the depth or duration of your connection. You may be requiring them to refrain from making casual statements or forego common acknowledgements that people in escalator-style relationships take for granted. You may even be expecting them to lie, or to avoid going certain places or talking to certain people. You may be asking for a lot.

13. If you think that women being afraid of you on the street is systemic misandry, you’re wrong.

This didn’t happen because we’re keeping men down. It happened because men, more often than not, lead a relatively consequence-free life when it comes to harassing and abusing women, be they mothers, wives, daughters, or strangers on the street. When men hurt women, they tend to get away with it. That’s the overwhelming truth of the matter — our society favors men.

Self-promote or signal-boost in the comments!

Occasional Link Roundup

Occasional Link Roundup

Well, I’ve just graduated from college (here are my reflections on that, if you’re interested and missed it). I haven’t done of these for a while, so there are a lot of great pieces here. Hopefully by the time you’re done reading them I’ll have stopped feeling so weird about being an alumna (askdfa;lksfja;lsdfjsf) and will be ready to write again.

1. If you only read one of these things: Over on Culturally Disoriented, there’s a piece about the “family members, friends, neighbors” approach to mental illness advocacy, as exemplified by President Obama at the National Conference on Mental Health. It is so difficult to pick out just one quote from this, but here you go:

Note the construction of the sentence: “We all know somebody – a family member, a friend, a neighbor – who has struggled with mental illness.” The person with mental illness here is always someone else. They are always removed from ourselves. They are the people we help, the people we are sad for, the people we want to save. The people who are sick, the people who are hurting, the people with the problems – they are categorically not us. They are other.

2. Once again people have been whining that the term “cisgender” is “offensive.” Maeve explains why they’re wrong:

The main reason I’m offended by the constant questioning of ‘cis’ and people calling it an abusive term, is that it suggests that when we talk about gender, cisgender people are automatically ‘normal’, and transgender people are to be singled out. It posits cisgenderism as the default. As many homo- and bisexual people have said over the years to heterosexual people: you’re not normal, you’re just common.

3. I’m not the only one writing about Northwestern and depression lately. There’s a beautiful and sad piece on Sherman Ave by Ali Parr, a classmate I unfortunately do not know:

It’s easy to feel insignificant in a school this size. To feel like what you’re doing doesn’t matter, because someone else is doing it better. We are constantly competing and comparing ourselves to others, and feeling like shit in the process. I am pleading with you to stop. Stop comparing yourself to others. They think differently, they move differently, they look differently. They are different. The differences, and what we do with them, are what make humans amazing creatures. We each have something unique to share, and we each have the chance to impact others’ lives more than we know. But individuality means nothing without the support of other individuals. We need to nurture each other, to encourage, to talk. We need to not be afraid to openly and freely discuss issues. To not be afraid. We need to ask for help. To help others ask for help. We need to look out for each other.

4. s.e. talks about medical decisions and how harmful it is when people are forced to make them based on cost:

Because we live in a system where people have to hold fundraisers for basic medical treatment, and where people have to refuse advisable and possibly necessary care because they know they can’t afford it. Where a 65 year old man in hospital after a serious medical event refuses a glass of juice because he’s afraid the hospital will charge him $4 for it, and that will be $4 more on a medical bill that will run into the tens and possibly hundreds of thousands. Patients focusing on costs, of course, are going to be experiencing high levels of stress at a time when they should be focused on recovery, but telling them not to think about the expense, to ‘focus on getting well,’ is ludicrous, because what happens after they get well? If they damn the costs and go for the ‘best’ care available, they may well lose everything.

5. Chally on heteronormativity and scripts:

Heteronormativity isn’t just about the presumption that everyone is heterosexual. The expectation that boys woo girls feeds into your mind the expectation that relationships are necessary for fulfilment, and you are less than if you are not having particular kinds of sex with a particular, and a particular kind of, person at particular intervals. It’s about what Lauren Berlant calls the love plot, in which love is produced as a generic text enabling society to interpret your life as following certain conventions. It’s not about what you want, it’s about what you’re supposed to want. You’re not encouraged to think about what you want in relationships, if anything, so much as you are encouraged to fit a script. Heteronormativity messes things up for everyone, straight people included.

6. Chana thinks I’m good at arguing! And so, in this case, was Richard Dawkins.

7. Mia McKenzie discusses the myth that there is such a thing as a shared “female experience”:

Despite these and a hundred other examples, the myth of shared female experience prevails. Why? Well, the easy answer is that because “women” are so vulnerable to so many different injustices, even if that vulnerability is vastly different from one group to another, lumping us all in together gives us a louder voice and more power to change things. Even if that’s true, the downside of all this lumping together is significant. Because it allows the people with the loudest voices within the group to always be dominating the conversation. And because those voices rarely, if ever, even understand the experiences of the less-heard members of the group, not only can they not speak for them (which they shouldn’t be doing anyway), they can rarely even understand the importance of making space for them to speak for themselves.

8. A great piece satirizing the “friend zone”:

I must say that I find this really unfair. I mean, I’m a nice girl. I have a lot to offer as a friend, like not being a douchebag and stuff. But males just don’t want to be friends with nice girls like me. They can’t help it, I guess; it’s just how they’re wired, biologically. Evolution conditioned our male hominid ancestors to seek nice girls as mates and form friendship bonds only with the other dudes that they hunted mammoths with. It’s true—I know this because I studied hominids in my fifth-grade science class.

9. Crommunist discusses how to distinguish Islamophobia from legitimate criticism of Islam:

The final typical error I commonly see from critics of Islam is where one group or individual is held up as the type specimen for all Muslims. Videos of a disgusting sermon preached by an imam will make the rounds on Facebook, or a crime committed in a Muslim country will hit r/atheism, and every atheist watching will begin to concernedly cluck their tongues and regurgitate shopworn lines about ‘Muslims’. These same atheists, meanwhile, will vigorously (and accurately) point out that prominent atheistic mass-murderers do not represent all atheists or even most atheists (or even many atheists).

10. On children, who are not your property:

How many times do you see parents/people violate children’s boundaries like this every day? Children are tickled (when they’ve expressed displeasure at it) they are taunted and teased and disregarded when they express emotions or “embarass” their parents. We send the message loud and clear from a very early age that children have no rights to their own bodies and they do not have the right to their emotions. The message is:

“What happens to you, and what you feel, does not matter.”

11. For people who are still confused about what censorship means, Erin explains:

Applying pressure to a private business that has condoned, promoted or not taken a position against hate speech against women is not censorship, it’s activism. Our lives are increasingly defined by corporations and their policies. Telling an advertiser to stop objectifying women isn’t censorship, it’s applying consumer demand within the free market. Telling a business to stop sponsoring a show that calls women sluts for using basic birth control — nearly every woman in this country at some point in her life — isn’t censorship, it’s assisting them and other consumers in allocating their dollars wisely. Telling a user-dependent website to stop tolerating rape imagery isn’t censorship, it’s an uprising within the user community for the purpose of adjusting community standards to those that are safer for everyone. Private corporations are free to ignore the activism, and they are also free to do the right thing. When given sufficient nudge they often do, because women are important consumers.

12. Robby defends the concept of women-only groups (he’s talking about secular groups specifically, but this really applies to everything):

But some forms of exclusion can be OK, even if others are not. A group that excludes women is not equivalent to one that excludes men, for the simple reason that we live in a culture that heavily privileges men over women. Creating events that increase the autonomy of men at the expense of women reinforces that disparity, whereas creating events that increase the autonomy of women at the expense of men does not, and may even erode certain inequalities.

13. Jason discusses strawman conceptions of privilege, and defends the term:

Today, as I write this, I have done a number of things that are expressions of my privilege. I used electricity, all day long. I’m writing on a laptop computer, as I often do well into the night. I did groceries, and I did not go hungry. I ate very well. I did some chores around the house. I took a hot bath. I breathed clean air. I drank clean water. I took my omeprazole on time, reminded by my smartphone. Hell, I walked from point A to point B and didn’t get shot at, not even once. All of these things are little luxuries, so commonplace in my life that I am not conscious of them most of the time. They are all expressions of privilege.

That doesn’t mean I have to feel particularly guilty about being white, straight, male, middle-class, living in an area of the world that is not war- or gang-torn. Being conscious of these privileges, and working to reduce inequalities for others when I see ways to do so, is so integrated into my being now — after years of having my consciousness raised in such manners — that I consider it a moral imperative. As a person with a fully-functioning sense of empathy, I truly feel pained when I see people in circumstances that disadvantage them, even ones I don’t experience personally. I might never fully grasp the scope of their own pain, but that doesn’t exempt me from recognizing that pain and because I have a working sense of empathy, wanting to reduce it.

14. Over an Autostraddle, an incredible piece about one woman’s perspective on street harassment as a butch:

There is something strange about the street harassment I receive as a butch in that it is often terrifying and extremely triggering, but something about it makes me feel justified. I am glad these men see me as a threat. I’m glad I’m being read in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable and violent and all the things I fear with every fiber of my being, because even though I know firsthand what terrible things that humans can do to other humans, I’m proud of igniting that in someone who recognized me as queer. It makes me feel like I’m succeeding at my genderqueer identity, at my butch identity, in my masculinity. I’m glad I unnerve that man. I want to thank him for making my nose bloody, just like I want to thank the man who hit me in the face at the bar and the one who called me a “fucking bulldagger” when I stepped between him and his girlfriend.

Hit me, I want to say to them even when my skeleton is quivering with the fear of the familiar and the fatal. I fucking dare you, I want to say. I feel goddamned alive.

15. Keely wrote a really sad and poignant post about leaving her PhD program:

It’s kind of like being broken up with by a person I knew was bad for me. I loved them, cared about them, want them in my life–but I also knew that being fully committed to them was making me miserable, was going to kill me if I kept going the way I was going. I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to resolve the issues that were making me miserable– I was unlikely to ever remake academic culture to be more respectful of work-life balance, to learn to healthily run on less sleep/time for self care, to be willing to brave the insane competition for jobs and for grant money that is the result of a national research budget that doesn’t even keep up with inflation. I knew I was probably going to have to make my graceful exit eventually, because I couldn’t change science enough to tolerate me and my needs, and because I couldn’t suffer thanklessly forever.

16. Chelsea explains how privilege blinds us:

Here’s the deal. If somebody of a different gender than yours says gender matters in a situation, it probably matters. Just because you don’t see something (yet) doesn’t mean it isn’t there, and all your condescending, laughing, and scare-quoting will neither help you see it nor make what I see disappear. If lots of people with some common experience that you lack – a gender, an ethnicity, whatever – are all upset by something you don’t even see, chances are better that you’re facing the wrong way than that it simply doesn’t exist.

17. Ferrett does some equations involving assholes:

That was Stage One of my incipient Asshole Theory: Assholes will consume a certain number of other people.  Whether it’s Russell booking planes for guests or a dazzling troll in some forum who raises good points, an asshole will cause some percentage of your crowd to go “Fuck this.”  And the first stage in Asshole Theory is that you must place a value upon the asshole, and then figure out how many people s/he is worth losing.

18. Laurie says all of my thoughts–all of them–about beauty:

Rather than fighting for every woman’s right to feel beautiful, I would like to see the return of a kind of feminism that tells women and girls everywhere that maybe it’s all right not to be pretty and perfectly well behaved. That maybe women who are plain, or large, or old, or differently abled, or who simply don’t give a damn what they look like because they’re too busy saving the world or rearranging their sock drawer, have as much right to take up space as anyone else.

I think if we want to take care of the next generation of girls we should reassure them that power, strength and character are more important than beauty and always will be, and that even if they aren’t thin and pretty, they are still worthy of respect. That feeling is the birthright of men everywhere. It’s about time we claimed it for ourselves.

What have you read or written lately? Leave links in the comments.

Occasional Link Roundup

Occasional Link Roundup

It’s finally WiS2 weekend! Kate, Jason, and I will be taking turns liveblogging everything, so check our blogs if you want to follow along. If you’re going, I hope to see you there!


1. Greta points out the hypocrisy of expecting religious communities to “police their own” while not doing the same within our own communities. This is a must-read:

I don’t give a shit about the common ground I share with these people. The common ground of “we both don’t believe in God” is a whole lot less important to me than our differences: the difference that they think it’s okay to call women cunts and I do not, the difference that they think I should be ignored because I’m ugly or a whore and I do not; the difference that they think it’s okay to persistently harass and threaten people and I do not; the difference that they think it’s okay to hack into my private email lists and I do not; the difference that they hope I get raped and I do not; the difference that they want me to fuck myself with a knife and I do not. And I have serious problems with the expectation that I should set aside these differences, and focus on our common ground of having concluded that God doesn’t exist… and that I’m not being a good team player if I don’t.

2. We had a bit of a controversy on campus around Cinco de Mayo–the student government wrote a long email trying to tell students not to be culturally appropriative in their celebrations, but they mostly failed to get the point across. My friend Mauricio does a much better job:

At this point someone might object: “But we wear ‘Irish’ costumes every St. Patrick’s Day, and there seems to be nothing wrong with that.” This objection brings up the second important feature of the case of the Native costume. The American soldiers and the captured Natives are not on equal ground—the Americans are in a position of power. It is this power differential that makes the mocking offensive. To see this, imagine a friend mocking one of your mannerisms, and then imagine a professor doing the same in front of the whole class. Clearly the second is much more humiliating, simply because this person holds a kind of power over you that the friend does not. The Irish haven’t been an oppressed minority in the US for a century, which is what makes St. Patrick’s Day celebrations ok. They are on equal grounds with the people celebrating.

3. Scott Alexander shows that you can, in fact, study prejudice and discrimination empirically and rigorously.

4. A writer at the Crunk Feminist Collective talks about Beyonce’s daughter, Blue Ivy, and the politics of Black women’s hair:

I don’t know if it is internalized racism as much as it is internalized standards of beauty within black communities that makes this so commonplace.  Well that and an obsession with blackgirl hair that is tamed, in order, slicked down on the sides, wrapped around in braids or covered in curls.  We don’t seem to know what to do with blackgirls whose hair is left to do what it will, with baby hairs flying with wild abandon and little afros sticking out every which-a-way.  We want black women’s hair to be “fixed” in the same way we want them to be “fixed” (and “right”–whatever that means).  And blackgirls are no exception.  They are not protected from the harsh judgments about our hair that we oftentimes received ourselves.

5. Over at the Belle Jar, a discussion of the deadly factory collapse in Bangladesh and why the solution is not as simple as refusing to buy “cheap” clothing:

There are a lot of problems with these types of statements. For one thing, the price of a piece of clothing is not at all indicative of the working conditions of its manufacturer. For another, implying (or outright saying) that there is something morally wrong with paying ten dollars for a t-shirt is incredibly classist. And finally, saying stuff like this shows a serious lack of understanding about how the garment industry works.

6. Ania explains how abusers use the promise of “dialogue” to perpetrate more abuse:

 You cut them off, except cutting them off doesn’t give you any peace. They manage to get in touch with you through someone else. Someone they have convinced that they want to talk to resolve things. The person urges you to make up with them. After all family is family and it is not good to be divisive. You want to agree; you want to hope that this time finally you can have an honest discussion about everything that has gone wrong, on how their actions have made you feel. You want this to be over. You want your anxiety to end, and go back to talking about the things you both care about instead of being called names. But you also remember the last time they promised to work things out, when the dialogue ended up being nothing more than an excuse to yell at you some more. To tear you down just a little bit further. So you ask for a show of good faith; something small, but something to show that they are sincere. Or maybe something not that small, but something that has to be done for any resolution to take place. But they aren’t willing to make that sacrifice. Because it is not about resolution, it is about further abuse. It is about getting the chance to yell at you and abuse you further, but in a new location; a location, where if you don’t show up, you are accused of being the unreasonable one.

7. Jason talks about Danny Brown, the rapper who was recently sexually assaulted while performing:

I lay the blame for all the pain experienced by Brown in dealing with the consequences of his assaulter’s actions, squarely at the feet of the power dynamics of privilege at play. That same power dynamic disadvantages women who are raped by men, and practically ensures that the comparatively few men who are raped by women, like Brown, will probably never see real justice. They’re forced to play it off like it’s no big deal. They’re forced to accept that they don’t get to choose what happens to their dick, by whom, and when. They get to taste in one small way what it’s like to be a woman in a rape culture, and some of these male rape victims even internalize the fucked up narrative that you should be thankful that someone is willing to suck your dick — that you should take it as a compliment, or as something to be cheered on, and never, ever get to say “that was fucked up”, on penalty of having a swarm of self-appointed gender police attack you for stepping out of line.

8. This is a bit older, but it’s very applicable for this weekend: Emily Finke explains that harassment and abuse of women is not just an internet thing:

If you think that inappropriate comments and requests for sex are an internet thing, you’ve never tried to stop a coworker or boss from hitting on you repeatedly, or a head of security, or the guy at the convenience store across the street.

If you think that being shouted at and asked to show people your tits just because you present as a woman only happens in chat rooms and online games, you’ve never walked past a frat house, or, unfortunately, through the main thoroughfares of either university I’ve attended.

If you think unasked for commentary on a woman’s looks only happens because girls post pictures on internet forums (which probably means they’re asking for it), you’ve never been at a bus stop, or the city square, or a mall, or… well, anywhere, really.

If you think insecure men trying to drive women out of activism only happens in online male-dominated communities, you’ve never paid attention politics. Or Fox. Or CNN, sadly.

9. That “Fitch the Homeless” thing is really, really icky. Here’s why:

The big deal comes in when homeless people are being exploited to prove a point. Many homeless people are already widely disenfranchised and lacking a platform to be heard or to get access to the resources they need. By attempting to make a brand look bad by associating it with homelessness, the message is that homeless people are so gross, dirty, shameful (insert negative attribute here) that by associating the brand with these types of people, we are really making the brand look shitty, because these people are so shitty! get it? It’s all such a laugh! This type of “activism” is a farce. It contributes to and propagates a culture wherein homeless people can be used as props to further an agenda.

10. According to this blogger, a “practicality troll” is “one who blames young people for their own economic misfortune, on the grounds that they chose an impractical education or career path,” and their narrative of financially troubled young people has become dominant:

I am one of the lucky ones….But I have friends who are suffering. They are being bounced around between unpaid internships, or desperately sending out resumes, or stuck working in underpaid fast-food jobs when they have master’s degrees. It’s nasty out there, and for baby boomers with secure pensions to shrug their shoulders and say that we should have been more shrewd with our career planning when we were seventeen and there was no recession and everybody was telling us to follow our passions is not just wrong; it’s also insulting. It’s a deliberate attack on unemployed and underemployed young people, aimed at implicating us in our own misfortune and diverting attention away from political choices that are needlessly exacerbating the recession. That this wrong and hurtful narrative has been accepted by the media and political elites is a big, big problem.

11. An excellent Geek Feminism post on organizational structure, majority rule, and injustice:

Majority rule is, then, a problem because majorities often opt to keep minorities in their place for the benefit of the majority. And yes, a group made up of entirely people who see themselves as good and ethical can and will deny basic rights, respect and dignity to people based on gender, sexuality, ability, race, class, and other axes of oppression. The world might be different someday, but we can’t get there by pretending we are there.

Self-promote in the comments and enjoy WiS2 if you’re going!

Occasional Link Roundup

Occasional Link Roundup

What a week. Three midterms, one awful and demoralizing bout of writer’s block, two 80-degree days, and one slightly-viral post. Go forth and read!

1. First and most importantly, we have a new blogger on the network! Her name is Yemisi Ilesanmi and her blog’s tagline is “Proudly Feminist, Proudly Bisexual, Proudly Atheist.” Go welcome her!

2. Dan Fincke is offering affordable online philosophy classes for those who want to be able to tell their Nietzsche from their Heidegger (among other things). Learn more here and sign up here if you’re interested. I’d totally do it if I weren’t brokedy-broke.

3. Speaking of Dan, I found this slightly older post of his that hit me right in the feels:

So, I never stop loving any of the women I loved. I rarely think about most of them. I almost never think of getting back with them. I don’t pine for them. My love for them never disrupts my next relationships or makes me love a new person with any less rapturous infatuation or commitment. But I’ll always love them. I love loving them. I love remembering them and what they meant to me. I love having people who when I think about them, I can find their uniqueness still mesmerizing in a way that never completely wears off. I love that there are people that I can think about and always have this twinge of fascination, however muted with time and distance.

4. Another one for the slightly more moneyed among us: A group of fantastic student activists, including one from my university, are putting together this campaign to teach college students about their Title IX rights, especially as they pertain to survivors of sexual assault. This is really important and there are about three weeks left to donate. It’s called Know Your IX. Check it out.

5. Orlando on rape prevention (this went super-duper viral when I posted it on Tumblr, so trust me, you want to read it):

If owning a gun and knowing how to use it worked, the military would be the safest place for a woman. It’s not.

If women covering up their bodies worked, Afghanistan would have a lower rate of sexual assault than Polynesia. It doesn’t.

If not drinking alcohol worked, children would not be raped. They are.

If your advice to a woman to avoid rape is to be the most modestly dressed, soberest and first to go home, you may as well add “so the rapist will choose someone else”.

6. Jessamyn at Geek Feminism discusses the psychological concept of delayed gratification and uses a recent study to brilliantly show how socioeconomic circumstances can influence human psychology:

The experiment was conceived to study self-control, but there have been several follow-up studies that seemed to indicate correlations between how long the children could hold out on the marshmallow task and their subsequent competence, SAT scores, and brain activity in regions related to control and addiction. In short, people often refer to the marshmallow task study to support claims that willpower at a young age predicts success later in life.

But the assumption there is that waiting is the optimal, if most difficult, strategy. Because sure, waiting for an additional reward could show self-control and the ability to look ahead, when the children think they can trust their environment.

7. Ally says that consent is much more simple than some people seem to think it is:

If you do something to someone’s intimate bits (or with your intimate bits) which you know s/he has not consented to or is unable to consent to at that moment, you are committing an act of sexual assault or rape.

There. That’s it. In practice this means that if s/he says “I’ll do this but I won’t do that” it means you have consent to do this but not do that. If s/he says “I’ll put this here but I’m not having it there” then you have consent to put it here but not put it there. If s/he says “I’ll do this but only if you wear that” then you have consent to do this, if and only if you are wearing that. (I’m mostly thinking of condoms here, but I guess the same principle applies to the pirate outfit. Whatever pushes your boat, you’re still the skipper.) If you ignore this very simple principle, and proceed with an act which your partner has not consented to, you are committing an act of sexual assault or rape.  Oh, and if you do ever find yourself uttering words along the lines of “I’ll do it if I want” then – BIG FUCKING CLUE – you’re a rapist.

8. Chana thinks you should stop FAPing. Wait, let her explain:

What all these people have in common is that when they see a discussion going on about a particular topic, they seem to think to themselves “I know an argument about that topic!” and then proceed to give it, whether or not it’s appropriate or relevant. FAPers see making their argument as so important that it doesn’t matter whether it adds to the discussion or not.

(FAP stands for “fixed action pattern,” by the way.)

9. Mitchell talks about “You can be anything you want!“:

First, as with all, “You can do it if you really try”, messages, saying these types of things implies that if you don’t reach particular goals, it’s because you didn’t try hard enough. While it may be true that there are people who could have been astronauts if they just studied a little harder, that’s certainly not the case for everyone who ever wanted to be an astronaut and didn’t make it. Plenty of people who may have dreamed of being astronauts probably have mental or physical limitations that prevent it from being possible. Plenty of others were probably raised in contexts where they didn’t have access to an educational system sufficient to the task of preparing someone to pursue a career as an astronaut. Others still may have had the pursuit of that particular goal derailed by debt, traumatic life events, personal disasters, natural disasters, etc. The simple reality is that not everyone can be an astronaut, and it’s not just because everyone who doesn’t make it is lazy.

10. Lauren Divito at Bitchtopia gives some advice to men’s advice columns:

I recently came across this gem from AskMen.com: “Top 10: Subtle Ways To Tell Her She’s Getting Fat.”  Not only does this article perpetuate the idea that fat bodies—and fat women’s bodies in particular—are unacceptable, but it doesn’t do straight men any favors, either. If it’s not clear enough from the ratings (87% feeling “furious,” and only 2% feeling like “a better man”) then allow me to spell this out for you: these kinds of articles suck.

[…]No woman’s body type makes her deserving of emotional abuse.  I don’t care if you don’t find a certain body type attractive; you’re allowed to have preferences.  However, that does not give you the right to try to make a woman feel bad about her body.  People should be allowed to feel confident about themselves at any size.  If your girlfriend is happy with her fat self, don’t try to change her.

11. Ozy makes a good case for studying snail sex and dispels the myth that researching arcane subjects is the reason we’re fucked financially right now:

The government is not loads in debt because they have spent a lot of money on research about animal fucking. The government spends most of its money on Social Security, the Department of Defense, and “Unemployment/Welfare/Other Mandatory Spending.” The Department of Animal Fucking Research was, unfortunately, too small to show up on the pie chart.

12. Heina on “fauxminism“:

While trying to set up a One True Feminist or Feminism would be problematic (not to mention blatantly fallacious), if feminism really were just about supporting individual women’s choices, then it would simply be called “female individualism.” While choice is an important part of feminism, it is far from the only part, especially in a world where those doing the talking about feminism often have more choices available to them than those they would criticize.

Feminism, then, does not equal blind support for all women and all of their choices, but working towards a world where more and more women have more and more agency in their lives — a world where women who aren’t hot, extraordinarily talented, Republicans, mothers, assigned female at birth, powerful, or able to look sexy while kicking someone’s ass are still able to be people, too.

13. Wes at Polyskeptic writes about skeptical monogamy and gives a bunch of reasons why skeptics may choose it:

Most people feel sexual or romantic desire for more than one person. However, not everybody does. A couple who approached their relationship skeptically could easily conclude that they were only interested in each other. However, the difference between this and your garden-variety monogamy is that skeptical monogamy (or what Shaun calls accidental monogamy) would not have rules against outside sexual or romantic connections. They just wouldn’t happen, because neither party would be interested. A skeptical couple, however, will know they cannot predict their future desires (especially many years in advance), so a skeptically monogamous couple will not make long-term plans or rules that are dependent upon their desires remaining only for one another.

14. Emily Fincke wrote this amazing piece on sensationalism in the news. Don’t just read the excerpt. Read all of it.

Your false suspense. Your overly-produced segments featuring concerned blonde ladies in news rooms in front of footage of carnage. Your suspenseful music and pre-commercial teasers. Your “shocking breakthroughs” and “exclusive information (which may or may not be correct)”.

You take our human concern and pervert it. You make our desire to know what’s going on and turn us into peeping toms. You take the human interests and make them into reality tv performers.

[…]Until you figure this out, news. I’m going to continue to continue to get my news from brilliant reporters like Seth Mnookin and Taylor Dobbs. I’m going to continue turning to the brilliant group of journalists, both fledgeling and veteran, both professional and amateur, whom I follow on twitter. I will continue to get my morning news from NPR and my evening news from BBC world. I will not be watching your overly-produced reality porn. I will not be giving your sponsors eyes. I will not be falling prey to the messages you send about who are the *correct* people to be afraid of. I will not be absorbing your biases and your messages of fear and hatred. I will not buy into your manufactroversies, and I will not hound innocent young men because they fit the profile you want me to suspect.

Go give me ideas for my blogothon on Sunday, post your own links in the comments, and have a great weekend!

Occasional Link Roundup

Occasional Link Roundup

Blogging’s been slow lately because I’m back at school, taking five classes, and consistently failing to get enough alone quiet introvert time. So here’s some stuff to read that’s not me.

1. Mia McKenzie responds to “Accidental Racist”:

There is nothing “accidental” about making a bee-line for a Black boy because he looks suspicious to you. That is some George Zimmerman shit. That is some very usual, very run-of-the-mill, is-happening-all the-time somewhere, straight-up racist shit. And you know what else it is? It is a CHOICE. While you may not have complete control over what you feel when you are confronted by something that makes you uncomfortable (for whatever ingrained racist reason it does), you certainly have a choice about what actions you take. And harassing a kid because he’s Black and his pants are sagged is a bad choice. A racist choice. Just like wearing a confederate flag on your t-shirt is a choice, Brad Paisley. If you know what the flag is and what it represents and you still put it on your body and walk around in it and get in front of a camera wearing it, that’s not an accident. You didn’t trip over the corner of the rug and fall into the shirt. You made a choice. A really, really racist one.

2. Steven gives examples of logical fallacies that aren’t always fallacies:

The problem with rejecting all arguments from authority is that we run the risk of falling into anti-intellectualism or becoming self-important know-it-alls. The fact is, there are people who know shit that you don’t know. I can read about medicine all damn day, but if an M.D. tells me I got it wrong, it may be reasonable to ask for a second opinion, but it is not reasonable to utterly reject their opinion as an mere argument from authority.

3. Ozy is absolutely brilliant on the subject of medicalizing neurodiversity:

I personally know one person who was on meds to the point that he didn’t have feelings for a decade, and another person who says if she hadn’t started meds when she did she’d be dead, so I’m pretty aware that this is a complicated situation. Psychiatric medications can have nasty side effects; some of them are addictive; some of them may or may not just be placebos; they’re often very expensive.

But you know what? If an adult who is not hurting anyone has decided, in consultation with their psychiatrist, that their life is better with meds than without them– it is not your job to police them. Other people’s emotional health? None of your business! If your life is more fulfilling with occasional periods of depression, that’s your business, but you do not get to subject other people to depression because you like it, any more than I get to subject people to pineapple-and-olives pizza because I like it.

4. Mandolin discusses the idea of referring to criticism as a “witch hunt,” “lynch mob,” or “crucifixion”:

Criticism (especially in a social justice context) is often described as assault, a witch hunt, a lynch mob, or a crucifixion….they are all attempts to silence criticism by comparing it to a violent, unacceptable act….The use of the terms witch hunts and lynch mobs (or mobs in general) also implies that the criticism is not being offered in good faith, and certainly not with thoughtfulness, deliberation or sincerity. Instead, it implies that the criticism is the result of a mass delusion. It implies that there is nothing to criticize at all–that the very nature of what is being criticized is superstition–since witches don’t exist and lynched victims are innocent. It implies that the only goal of criticism is bloodletting, that it will only be satisfied by burning stakes, pressing stones, or hung corpses.

5. Another great list of tips for getting through depression:

12) Any “friend” who resolutely believes that your depression is because you’re lazy, because you’re not trying hard enough, who blames you for not bootstrapping out of it- that friend needs to be cut off. Polite (#2) is one thing, but there is a limit. You don’t have to explain, you can just not respond. You feel badly enough, you don’t need their “assistance”.

6. Thomas explains why consent education (or the oft-maligned “teaching rapists not to rape”) is important, even if many rapists cannot, in fact, be taught not to rape:

Even if you believe, as I do, that the predators are not confused and can’t be educated, there are two good reasons to believe that consent education can make the climate better.  First, because there are rapists who are not that small percentage of predators.  Second, the predators absolutely depend on what I call the Social License to Operate, the climate that explains away or excuses what they do in certain circumstances, calls it not rape, calls it the survivor’s fault, minimizes it and lets him get away with it.  Without that, the rapists can’t do it over and over because they’d get caught, excluded from their social circles, disciplined by commanding officers or expelled from campus, and they’d either have to stop or end up in prison.

7. Over on Thought Catalog, a fantastic piece of satire about Jon Hamm and his infamous penis:

As a famous person/role model, Jon Hamm needs to be conscious of how he presents himself in the public eye. There are thousands of young men across the country who look up to him. Maybe this kind of salacious pants-wearing fashion is fine for an adult, but what about the children? Do we really want America’s boys parading their dongs around like some kind of back-alley Chinatown meat market? I for one do not.

8. Foz has some great advice on writing characters with marginalized identities that you do not share:

As important as it is to acknowledge the oppression experienced by non-privileged groups in the real world and to incorporate that into your writing, it’s also important to write POC/QUILTBAG characters whose narrative arcs aren’t defined by the obstacles they face because of who they are. This doesn’t mean writing such characters to be interchangeable with privileged characters, as that’s just another form of erasure; rather, it means letting them have the same kind of adventures and primary focus as privileged characters, but without compromising or eliding their identities.

9. Probably PZ’s best post yet. You’ll just have to see it for yourself.

10. On getting rid of the idea that silence is “sexy”:

We’ve gotten the idea from movies and magazines that silence is sexy.  Ultimate romance means fireworks and fairy dust sprinkling down from the heavens and instilling in us some magical intuition where both people suddenly just know what the other wants.  Speaking out loud in full sentences would break the rhythm, ruining the mystical thrill of the spontaneous moment.  And GOD FORBID you ask permission to do anything.  I mean, come on, major boner killer.

11. Think Les Mis makes a good case for criminalizing sex work? You might be wrong:

It is nonsensical to call Fantine a sex trafficking victim, as sex trafficking requires a sex trafficker.  Fantine does not have a pimp of any sort; third-party coercion is not a part of this story. Even if Fantine had a coercive pimp, it would still be glossing over important issues to attribute all of Fantine’s suffering to him.  This is a story about the criminalization of poverty, as well as poverty itself. Fantine most definitely does not want to enter the sex trade and does not enjoy her experiences there. But this is actually not synonymous with sex trafficking. But exploitative work conditions are not synonymous with trafficking. Her unhappiness does not justify arresting her, or driving her business further underground by arresting her clients, and making her already dire situation worse.

12. Scott on getting into polyamory:

I can’t even get angry with people who say polyamory is incompatible with true love. They’re just empirically wrong, like someone who remarks confidently that hippos have six legs. They’re not evil or even deluded. They just obviously haven’t seen any hippos. You don’t really want to argue with them so much as take them to a zoo, after which you are confident they will realize their mistake.

13. Cliff answers that age-old question, “How can you be a feminist and do BDSM?

For one thing, a whole lot of those arguments could apply to plain ol’ sex.  It can be used as a weapon of, and an excuse for, horrific abuse?  People are sometimes unintentionally harmed doing it?  It’s horrible when done nonconsensually?  There are some really awful people who are into it?  A lot of the narratives around it are sexist, hetero/cisnormative, body-policing, and glamorize unsafe and questionably consensual activities?  The industries that sell media and services related to it are often nightmarishly exploitative?  I don’t want to deny or minimize the fact that all these things happen in BDSM.  I just don’t think it’s any worse in kink than in sex.

14. Autumn writes about fashion “rules” and how women use them to manage the stigma associated with their bodies:

If your body type is coded in a particular way, you’ve got a whole other set of stigma to deal with*. As Phoebe Maltz Bovy pointed out during her guest stint here, “[S]tyle and build have a way of getting mixed up, as though a woman chooses to have ‘curves’ on account of preferring to look sexy, or somehow magically scraps them if her preferred look is understated chic.” A woman with small breasts and narrow hips has more freedom to wear low-cut tops in professional situations without raising eyebrows, because there’s less stigma to manage. A woman in an F-cup bra with hourglass curves? Not so much. Witness the case of Debralee Lorenzana, the Citibank employee who was fired for distracting the male employees with her wardrobe—which, on a woman without Lorenzana’s figure, would be utterly unremarkable, and, more to the point, unquestionably work-appropriate. Her failure, as it were, lay not in her clothes but in not “properly” managing the stigma that her figure brought.

Written anything good lately? Share it in the comments!

Occasional Link Roundup

Occasional Link Roundup

I’m on spring break! I get to read a lot! Enjoy.

1. Chavisory talks about emotional discussions:

It took me a long time to learn that almost whenever someone tells you that you’re being “too emotional,” what they mean is that you are being perfectly appropriately emotional about something that they simply don’t want to have to acknowledge or think about.  That being emotional is not a disqualification from argument.  Being emotional is human.

Un-emotionality is not the equivalent of having a rational argument, or a reliable indicator that someone does.  It is not the same as having a grasp of facts or science or of the actual conditions under discussion.

2. Kaoru takes one for the team and fact-checks A Voice For Men:

The MRM has some legitimate concerns, but they will ultimately fail to have any sort of major impact on them because they are more concerned with trolling feminists than actually addressing the systematic problems that result in what they’re concerned about. That, and those legitimate problems are buried beneath pointless garbage like how unfair it is that sometimes they have to take paternity tests.

3. Mia McKenzie on the Steubenville verdict:

​I, unlike many people reacting to today’s verdict, am not just thrilled to death that two 16-year-old boys are going to jail. What they did was terrible. There is no excuse. They have to be two seriously fucked-up kids to have done what they did. But what I know for damn sure is that jail does not fix broken people. It only breaks them harder.

The fact is that once these boys enter the prison system, even ​in juvenile detention, chances are that they will return to it. It will, with little doubt, fuck them up more than they are already fucked-up. They will not likely emerge from prison as two well-adjusted men who respect women and understand that sexual assault against them is not okay. That’s not what prison does for people.

4. Patrick explains one of the ways in which Dan Savage misunderstands and promotes harmful stereotypes about bisexuality, and connects it to the ongoing debate in Minnesota about marriage equality:

Biphobia in the queer community legitimizes homophobia in the dominant culture. Kicking out the bisexuals doesn’t help you, it hurts you. Telling half of the LGBT population that they don’t belong just shrinks our numbers and takes power away from all of us. Biphobia by leaders in the gay and lesbian communities allows straight haters to use biphobia as a wedge to divide us – and these people are experts at using wedges.

5. Janet D. Stemwedel has one of the best takes on the PyCon incident that I’ve seen:

There has been the predictable dissection of Adria Richards’ every blog post, tweet, and professional utterance prior to this event, with the apparent intention of demonstrating that she has engaged in jokes about sex organs herself, or that she has a history of looking for things to get mad about, or she’s just mean, and who is she to be calling other people out for bad behavior?

This has to be the least persuasive tu quoque I’ve seen all year.

If identifying problematic behavior in a community is something that can only be done by perfect people — people who have never sinned themselves, who have never pissed anyone off, who emerged from the womb incapable of engaging in bad behavior themselves — then we are screwed.


6. Leopard writes about the stereotype that women need to be “spoiled” and “pampered”:

An extremely pervasive idea exists in society— that women are to be pampered, especially by the men in their lives. Everywhere you look, adverts for flowers, chocolates and jewellery encourage men to ‘pamper her’, ‘spoil her’, ‘indulge her’, and even on International Women’s Day yesterday, which originated in 1909 to promote gender equality, my Facebook feed was full of friends and acquaintances talking about what they, or someone else had done for IWD, which usually boiled down to (you guessed it) giving/receiving flowers, chocolates or cards, stripping the day of all political meaning.

7. Kate Harding says extremely sensible things about feminist women who change their names when they get married:

Look, you’re a feminist who, in this particular case, made the non-feminist choice. That’s all. I assume it was the right choice for you, or you wouldn’t have done it, and that’s fine! But feminism is not, in fact, all about choosing your choice. It is mostly about recognizing when things are fucked up for women at the societal level, and talking about that, and trying to change it. So sometimes, even when a decision is right for you, you still need to recognize that you made that decision within a social context that overwhelmingly supports your choice, and punishes women who make a different one.

8. That Monsanto Protection Act everyone’s been up in arms about? Not really a thing. Although we should absolutely keep criticizing the shit out of Monsanto.

9. Captain Awkward gives a bunch of great advice to someone who wants to be less negative and critical:

There’s this fallacy that “authenticity” always means talking about things with the most negative, critical eye.  Not sharing every opinion that you have does not equal “being fake” or “lying.” Every dinner party doesn’t have to turn into a Platonic discussion of What is the Good?

10. I’ve just discovered this brilliant blog about asexuality and found this slightly older post about the concept of “platonic love”:

The “romantic-sexual/platonic” love dichotomy leaves no room for the real emotional nuances people experience in their attachments, and I think that it often causes us to live with simplified relationships not because we want to or because we have simple desires and feelings but because we have no experience, cultural context, or language to accommodate a complex social life or set of relationships. This is why language is so important. This is why words and labels matter. How can you have the kind of relationships you want with anyone, if you don’t even have the words to accurately express how you feel?

11. Keely writes about the sex-negative messages she received as a teenager and how they may have contributed to an unhealthy relationship she had:

if the background noise of my life at 16 or 17 or 18 had contained the kind of overt positive messaging about feminism and boundaries and consent, the kind of messaging that I am trying to spread around in my little bubble and that I am seeing more and more of all the time…. that would have mattered. It may not have changed everything–my bad relationship became toxic for a variety of reasons, and sex was only one of them. But it still would have taken that much less time to shake the toxic beliefs that helped keep me with him.

12. Elyse criticizes the “love your body” narrative:

But here’s the thing… It’s okay to not love my body. It’s okay to not even like my body. They’re my feelings and it’s my body and I will use those feelings to feel however I want to about my body. I don’t need you to tell me how to feel.

We don’t have to find ourselves beautiful. Beauty is not the one thing that makes us and our bodies worth loving. We don’t have to distort an already fucked-up definition of beauty, and pretend we fit into it, just to feel like we are people worthy of being loved.

13. Ana Mardoll explains why she doesn’t call herself a feminist offline:

I live in a community where I have on more than one occasion been forced to haul out the words “because my husband doesn’t like me to” in order to get out of situations where I was being bullied and pressured into doing things that I didn’t feel comfortable doing. After saying firmly and repeatedly that I didn’t want to do these things, that I wouldn’t do these things, and that I didn’t feel comfortable being repeatedly asked to do these things — all to no avail — I dragged out the magic words that I hate-hate-hate to use. “My husband doesn’t like me to” is the mantra that evaporates every objection in my community; a protective cloak that I resent being forced to wear by a community that considers my own consent to be meaningless even as it values my husband’s consent not for who he is but for what he represents.

14. If the atheist group on Kiva reaches 25,000 members by Sunday, it’ll get $10,000 in matching loans! Signing up is free and you get $25 to loan out just for joining. More details at Crommunist’s. Do it! There’s literally no excuse not to. 🙂

Occasional Link Roundup

Occasional Link Roundup

First, updates from Miri’s Grad School Saga: it’s over! I’m going to Columbia University next year, which means my very very long-awaited move to New York City is happening in less than six months. Needless to say, I AM EXCITED. If any of you live there, you should let me know! I plan to get involved with CFI-NY and whatever else is there, so you’ll probably see me around. 🙂

Now, links:

1. Ania Bula is raising money for a book about her experiences with chronic illness as a skeptic. There are eight days left to contribute money; please consider it if you have some to spare!

Chronic illness is an invitation for everyone to comment: either with regards to a cause, a treatment, or otherwise. Suddenly, everyone’s aunt is an expert and everyone’s fad diet a cure. You wade through a constant stream of ignorance and lies, in a desperate attempt to find peace and a stop to pain. In my years  living with both disorders I have been faith healed, poked, prodded, stuffed with powders and magic potions, and now is my opportunity to tell everyone about it.

2. Kate writes about how therapists are trained in the U.S. and what’s wrong with it:

I want budding counselors to begin their education by learning about ALL kinds of people and systems. I want to stop assuming that living in the world gives you enough life experience to counsel anyone. Because you know who can afford to go to college for two degrees, who are encouraged and supported in doing so? Mostly privileged people. Do you know who we’re really bad at providing mental health services for? The underprivileged.

3. Nico Lang responds to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ piece about “the good racist people” and reiterates that bigotry is not necessarily borne out of anger and hatred:

No one thinks of themselves as a bigot. They don’t look in the mirror and say, “I hate gay people. I am a homophobe.” Those women didn’t hate me. They loved me so much that they didn’t want me to stay the way I was. They didn’t want me to experience an eternity of damnation. They wanted to save me, just like my mother did. My mother didn’t want me to come home crying or have to stay up late with me because I was too scared to go to school the next day. She didn’t want the world to break my heart at such a young age, and it was too hard to ask everyone around me to change. So she asked me to change and broke my heart her own way. I was the one being punished again for not understanding what being different meant.

4. Beckie discusses Reeva Steenkamp’s murder and how most of the media coverage of it focused on her killer, Oscar Pistorius, and his achievements:

Of course, Pistorius must be considered innocent until proven guilty; nevertheless, the focus on the athlete as victim in the case is misplaced. Whatever anguish the former hero might be feeling, it is Steenkamp who is the victim. Many articles on the subject seem to be treating her death merely as an addendum to the story of Pistorius’ trial and the demise of his sparkling reputation. She in mentioned only in passing: as collateral damage in the fall of a sporting great.

5. Ozy suggests that education could be improved if we taught less stuff.

6. Foz makes the case for public breastfeeding:

Because at the end of the day, while having children is certainly a choice, our insistence on categorising the decision as a mere affectation of lifestyle – as though, if parenthood were to suddenly drop out of vogue like 70s decor or the poodle perm, we’d all just move on to shoulder pads and rollerblading instead – is a blinkered refusal to acknowledge its necessity. It might be an ugly, dirty job as far as some are concerned; but like rubbish collection and sewage maintenance, we still need someone to do it. Allowing for the inevitable, ongoing presence of children in public – and, as a consequence, admitting that their best interests must are also the best interests of society – doesn’t mean you have to worship at the altar of parenthood. Rather, it’s simply an acknowledgement that public spaces are shared spaces, and that sometimes, our personal comfort levels are going to be transgressed or trumped by the rights and needs of others.

7. Why Yahoo’s recent ban on telecommuting matters for women, parents, and people with disabilities.

This is a feminist issue because women, no matter their economic status, are expected to have flexible schedules. Men, on the other hand, are expected to have rigid, 9-5 type jobs that they just couldn’t possibly take a day off from. Society is structured so that women are expected to leave early when a child falls ill at school or pushes the school swing-hog off the swing set and gets suspended for the day. Anyone who is or knows a mother knows the hell moms get for having to take off, but fewer people recognize that we set up this structure by not allowing people to telecommute or by ridiculing the male parent into pressuring Mom to take care of it. If we allowed for one or two days a week of telecommuting in fields where this is reasonable, then we might have a chance of breaking down that structure.

8. Ally Fogg has some reflections on anger and feminism:

Anger is not incompatible with compassion and empathy, it is often the product of them. Indeed, unless it is tempered with compassion and empathy, anger can easily be misdirected into fascism and hatred. When I despair of debates on gender (which is often) it is usually because those involved, on either or both sides, have found their anger but lost their compassion. That is a dangerous mix.

9. An anonymous Harvard student wrote a heartbreaking piece in their school newspaper about living with schizophrenia and being unable to get adequate treatment:

What they never tell you about schizophrenia is that you never really believe it, internalize it, identify with it. Mornings are agonizing because every day in the haze of waking up I briefly remember all over again who I am and what I have lost. I remember the friends that I am terrified will see me differently if I tell them; I remember that on my bad days I scare people in class and on the subway; I remember that the academic career for which I had worked is now improbable. I remember that the measure of success for too many of my days will be that I have not killed myself.

Self-promote and all that! (Links to specific posts work better than links to entire blogs.)

Occasional Link Roundup

Occasional Link Roundup

First of all, news! Thanks to the incredible generosity of Marcus Ranum, a frequent commenter on FtB, I’m going to Women in Secularism 2 for free! If you’re going too, you should find me there and say hi.

While I’m on the subject of things I’m going to, I’m also going to SkepTech in the Twin Cities on April 5-7. You should find me and say hi there too.

In terms of the rest of my life, I’m about to turn 22 and start hearing back from grad schools. Dunno how I feel about either of those things right now. 😛

On to the links.

1. Paul explains the importance of (sometimes) just shutting up and listening:

It is natural for anyone, especially skepto-atheists, to become hung up on a point of fact, particularly when it colors how we are seen, when an interpretation of words reflects on us as people. When called out for saying something or for holding an opinion that seems to reveal a lack of sensitivity, a social ignorance, or an over-abundance of privilege, it stings, and our obvious recourse is to counter the accusation (or the polite consciousness-raising) with more words. An additional three or four paragraphs, surely, will clear this whole mess up.

Has it ever?

2. Collin discusses free speech and the “right not to be offended” and makes a ton of really excellent points:

There is no right not to be offended, but this platitude, when used as a rhetorical conversation-stopper, is nothing more than a red herring*. In the same sense that you dohave a right to uncritically accept shallow falsehoods or commit logical fallacies, you also have a right to cause offense. However, if you wish to be a rationalist, you should not mindlessly exercise these rights, and you should especially not use them as a pretext for intellectual dishonesty.

3. Captain Awkward settles the question of whether or not men and women can be friends. (Spoiler alert: yes.)

When I was growing up, my mom fell into this trap, big time even though she is an amazing, driven, brilliant, career-minded feminist who brooks no crap from anyone. She was hyper-vigilant and worried about any time I spent with boys. Even though I played on a nearly all-male soccer team. Even though men made up more than half our family, not to mention being half of everyone on the planet so, not actually avoidable. I was not allowed to invite male friends over, or go to their houses, and the question was always “Will there be boys there?” She would say “It’s not that I don’t trust you, I just don’t trust them,” or “You never know what might happen” or “You don’t want to get a reputation.” I wanted to know – WHAT? WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN?

4. Cliff discusses negotiating relationships; this is an extremely useful post. I can’t even pull a quote out because it’s all that good.

5. Jadehawk explains why a recent piece on sex work from Feministe is wrong. Also impossible to pull a quote from since it’s a point-by-point rebuttal.

6. A writer for Yale University’s feminist magazine discusses veganism and privilege:

I have access to produce, to grains and nuts, to soy and specialty “health” products; a family and community that value or at least tolerate that decision. Because I am able to eat vegan, I do. In my experience, being a vegan (if it is economically and nutritionally feasible) is easier than being a feminist. In my diet I can draw very clear lines for myself, which requires only that I obey a habit at each meal. In contrast, responsible feminism requires the mental exercise of regularly throwing off the patriarchy’s kyriarchy’s hold.

7. Ferrett points out how important it is to differentiate between being attracted to people physically and being attracted to their personality, and how most people don’t really think about this difference:

Look, I’m not saying never to boink a really pretty person who you don’t get along with. Do!  Safely!  Consensually!  Exorbitantly!  But the danger is in trying to transform that single-serving friendship into a relationship.  And you do that by fabricating bits of their personality that don’t actually exist, which is never a good idea.

8. Lore Sjöberg from Wired discusses the Nice Guy phenomenon:

Now, I hear some of you complaining “women always say they want a nice guy.” I know lots of women — I’m even related to a few — and I can’t say I’ve ever heard any of them say that. I can’t prove it, but this sounds like one of those things stand-up comedians say about women and everyone else just repeats. I’ve also never known a woman who cries when she breaks a nail — although I’ve known a few who swear like a 15-year-old sailor in jail — and I’ve never had a woman ask me if her outfit made her look fat unless she actually wanted and subsequently appreciated my opinion. So either I’ve stumbled upon a secret trove of women who aren’t passive-aggressive sob machines, or you need to stop mistaking Dane Cook routines for peer-reviewed sociological studies.

9. Why “agreeing to disagree” is wrong in the context of religious debates:

Christianity is a privileged class in this country, and at many times throughout history (including today) its religious leaders have been guilty of oppressing people whose humanity (as found in their religion or lack thereof, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, etc.) they haven’t understood. This has happened in nearly every generation in which Christianity has existed– and in every case, there has always been some faction of people who said, “Those who wish to use scripture to marginalize others are entitled to their opinion.”

I can’t say that anymore. Even if it’s popular. Even if it’s politically correct. Even if it’s touted as the “peaceful” thing to do.

10. It may take a few rereads to understand what this piece is trying to say, but it’s well worth a read if you’re interested in alternative sexuality and relationship models:

your poly is only politicaly relevant to me if…

[…]you do not pit your partners, hookups, or love interests against each other by being shady and shitty about communication — especially if you are masculine-identified

[…]you do not dismiss your partners’ jealousies, insecurities, or negative feelings as just them being “jealous” or “too emotional” or “not really getting it.” you don’t blame or shame people for their emotions.

[…]you do not dismiss others’ concerns about you being possibly disrespectful or misogynistic as them not being radical or sex-positive enough.

11. Greta discuses high heels and feminism:

I don’t have an objection to high heels.

I have an objection to women being pressured into wearing high heels. I have an objection to the idea that you have to wear high heels to be beautiful or sexy or feminine. I have an objection to the fashion trends that make it almost impossible for a woman to be reallydressy without high heels. I have a powerful objection to any expectation or demand whatsoever that women wear high heels in the workplace. I have a powerful objection to any social or economic pressures that make wearing high heels necessary for women to advance in their careers, or that give women who do wear high heels a career advantage over women who don’t.

12. Kaoru describes learning to understand the meaning of Schrodinger’s Rapist:

I was very briefly Schrodinger’s Rapist earlier this week. I knew my intentions, but the woman I spoke to did not, and while I have never done nor ever will do such a thing, I accept that we live in a culture where it’s not worth taking that risk. As a decent human being, I backed off to make another human being more comfortable because it was literally the very least I could do. This random woman wasn’t “making herself a victim,” she was avoiding being made a victim in the best way she could, which means eternal vigilance.

13. Post of the week! How to keep moving forward, even when your brain hates you:

Help someone else. Specifically, lend someone your skill in something you are good at.  Yes, you will feel warm and fuzzy for your good deed, and maybe that warm and fuzzy will quiet the SAD! part of your brain down. But more than that, this is about reminding yourself that you are capable and useful. Often our own tasks take on so much importance that they just seem impossible, and you can almost convince yourself that your brain just doesn’t work anymore.  Putting your mind to work on a problem with low stakes for you–someone else’s problem–will show you it still functions.

Remember to promote your own stuff in the comments! But keep in mind that it works much better when you link to a specific post you wrote, not to your entire blog. I’m sure your entire blog is wonderful, but few of us have time to go read the entire archives. 🙂

Occasional Link Roundup