Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday roundup

In Latin America, voters appreciate the gains against inequality but are moving on from leftist governments.

Abortion restrictions in Texas are making desparate girls and women even more so.

Frank Bruni thought-experiments how we would react to Trump's antics were he a woman. A couple of commenters have thoughts about his popularity, among other things. The best comment on other things:
I see a lot of (unsurprising) comments here placing the responsibility on women to be more vigilant about possible assailants. Believe me when I tell you that we are already vigilant, we are already exhausted from being vigilant, and we are tired of telling you about how vigilant we are.
My heart goes out to this woman who wants to change herself, and although I can't fully appreciate her experience, I want to urge her to eschew the knife.

My heart goes out to Jennifer Garner--this poignant interview really gives you a sense of what she's going through.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Saturday roundup

Egypt's judiciary is a joke.

Have you been wondering whether and how IAEA can verify the nuclear provisions of the Iran agreement? Read this.

There's a way to help Flint without creating new problems from plastic bottles.

There's a way to support sustainable palm oil.

Dudes: you don't need to eat meat.

Placebos are nothing to sneeze at.

This article on the normalization of violence against women and entitlement to women's bodies is excellent overall but also reminded me of RM. Particularly how he cried when I balked at the foot massage he tried to give me, as if I was the one who was supposed to feel bad.

Oh, shirtless shamers.

It's Single Ladies' week in honor of Rebecca Traister's new book on single women. Here are some excerpts from the first column.
Today’s women are, for the most part, not abstaining from or delaying marriage to prove a point about equality. They are doing it because they have internalized assumptions that just a half-century ago would have seemed radical: that it’s okay for them not to be married; that they are whole people able to live full professional, economic, social, sexual, and parental lives on their own if they don’t happen to meet a person to whom they want to legally bind themselves. The most radical of feminist ideas—the disestablishment of marriage — has been so widely embraced as to have become habit, drained of its political intent but ever-more potent insofar as it has refashioned the course of average female life...
Remaining unmarried through some portion of early adulthood, especially for college-educated women, is intimately linked with making money. The “Knot Yet Report,” published in 2013, revealed that a college-educated woman who delays marriage until her 30s will earn $18,000 more per year than an equivalently educated woman who marries in her 20s...
The notion that what the powerful, growing population of unmarried American women needs from the government is a husband (or a gynecologist, as was the case with one horrifying 2013 Koch-funded anti-Obamacare ad that featured a grotesque Uncle Sam popping up leeringly from a pelvic exam) is of course problematic. It reduces all relationships women have to marital, sexual, hetero ones and suggests that they are, by nature, dependent beings, in search of someone—if not a ­husband then an elected official or a set of public policies — to support or care for them.
Whether or not single women are looking for government to create a “hubby state” for them, what is certainly true is that their (white) male counterparts have long enjoyed the fruits of a related “wifey state,” in which the government has supported (white) male independence in a variety of ways. It’s hard for us to recognize this, since it has been the norm for so long — and here, it’s useful to recall Elizabeth Warren’s stirring “You didn’t build that” speech, in which she pointed out that “there is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody.”
Men, especially married wealthy white men, have for generations relied on government assistance. It’s the government that has historically supported white men’s home and business ownership through grants, loans, incentives, and tax breaks. It has allowed them to accrue wealth and offered them shortcuts and bonuses for passing it down to their children. Government established white men’s right to vote, and thus exert control over the government, at the nation’s founding and has protected their enfranchisement since. It has also bolstered the economic and professional prospects of men by depressing the economic prospects of women. In other words, by failing to offer women equivalent economic and civic protections, thus helping to create conditions whereby they were forced to be dependent on those men, the government established a gendered class of laborers who took low-paying or unpaid jobs doing the domestic and child-care work that further enabled men to dominate public spheres.
 and the second:
For whatever reason, the most productive, passionate, and self-actualized people I knew (or admired from afar) had spent large portions of their lives alone. Women, in particular, seemed to blossom personally and professionally when their attentions were directed not toward their spouses or offspring, but themselves. For a certain type of creative, highly sensitive soul, I believed, singledom was a feature, not a bug.

What mustache? I don't even see a mustache, although I agree with the overall premise that women can be expected to look plastic rather than human, so much so that flickers of humanness can come through as flaws.

Humanities matter. I'm not just saying that because I took a lot of French literature and turned out okay.
Although it's hard to imagine not offering housing to a relative, Carolyn is spot on: the first rule of asking favors is being willing to take no for an answer

Friday, February 19, 2016


I made the mistake of checking Evan Marc Katz's blog and stumbled upon his post on MRAs, in which he pretty much punts to an even more offensive post on MRAs on another blog. Neither post whole-heartedly endorses MRAs, but both fail to condemn them for the dens of misogyny and entitlement that they are. I've seen men--in GQ, for example, and Dr. Nerdlove himself on his blog--condemn MRAs in no uncertain terms, while acknowledging that things can be tough for a guy but (emphasis on this part) there's no excuse to hate women, objectify them, and feel entitled to their attention or bodies. EMK and his offensive buddy--I will link to neither--reverse the emphasis and take the position that, MRAs are coming from a reasonable place but just take it too far. The buddy goes as far as to praise specific, infamous MRAs--including a proud rapist who has been banned from certain countries. He also notes--and EMK not only fails to critique this point but merely softens it--that feminists are fat and ugly. This observation wasn't just dropped in gratuitously; it was part of his analogy (i.e., MRAs are angry and misguided because they're unwilling to face certain truths--particularly about the traits that make them unattractive to women--just like feminists are angry because they're ugly and unwilling to accept the fact that it matters).
There are many potential places to take this nonsense, but most of them are not worth my time. What I'm going to do is throw his own argument back at him--in response to a different argument of his. Specifically, in several instances on his blog, this guy (and EMK on his) goes on about how men are just not interested in a woman's mind. Men do not care how smart women are; men are not the least bit interested in women's brains, at all. They. just. couldn't. care. less.

But who are these men who are so uninterested in our minds? Could it be men who are, themselves, intellectually lacking? By which I don't necessarily mean that they're unintelligent, per se; just that they're not particularly interested in intellectual things?

Because every man that I've ever dated has been super-interested in my mind. He's been more than happy to talk about ideas and discuss intellectual issues. The man I'm dating now, especially, is very interested in ideas and very much attracted to me for my intellectualism. It means a lot to both of us that we're interested in the same things and able to discuss them on a meaningful level. I don't think I could ever date someone who wasn't interested in my mind, even if that means not dating anyone at all. I fully realize how lucky I am in this respect.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Quick Wednesday roundup

Even when animal research is 'justifiable' as necessary, it doesn't make it 'ethical.'

Livestock is an environmental disaster.

Vegan food has come a long way, but in any case, if you want to reduce your participation in a cruel, unsustainable food system but you're eschewing vegan food because it's not perfect, you're just making excuses.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day ramble

Jumping off from this morning's roundup:
Pair all that with finding love being about luck (and not preparation for opportunities).

In any case, I wholeheartedly agree with these two pieces celebrating singledom and rejecting the myth of the other 'half,' because you're already whole.
The writer of one of the latter links--perhaps Laurie Penny--talks about how she partly felt the need to not be single before she could write what she did about celebrating singlehood. Although I've never refrained from at least accepting singlehood myself, part of that resonated. Being coupled shields you, maybe, from perceptions of defensiveness and denial/delusion on the part of people who can't appreciate singledom for itself.

Valentine's Day roundup

A heart-wrenching piece on faith--particularly the prosperity gospel--when one is dying.
Blessed is a loaded term because it blurs the distinction between two very different categories: gift and reward. It can be a term of pure gratitude. “Thank you, God. I could not have secured this for myself.” But it can also imply that it was deserved. “Thank you, me. For being the kind of person who gets it right.” It is a perfect word for an American society that says it believes the American dream is based on hard work, not luck.
If Oprah could eliminate a single word, it would be “luck.” “Nothing about my life is lucky,” she argued on her cable show. “Nothing. A lot of grace. A lot of blessings. A lot of divine order. But I don’t believe in luck. For me luck is preparation meeting the moment of opportunity.”
And as a scholar, I can say that our society is steeped in a culture of facile reasoning. What goes around comes around. Karma is a bitch. And God is always, for some reason, going around closing doors and opening windows. God is super into that.

Pair all that with finding love being about luck (and not preparation for opportunities).

Personally, I'm in the middle of these polar views: luck matters, but you can also (sometimes) make your own, prepare for opportunities, and position yourself for opportunities. Sometimes that doesn't get you anywhere, but sometimes it does.

In any case, I wholeheartedly agree with these two pieces celebrating singledom and rejecting the myth of the other 'half,' because you're already whole.

Last week I posted an article about another myth: that of 'the lazy girl.' Pair (or reconcile) it with this piece on 'resting on pretty.'
And in a world that increasingly values the production of beauty and the labor of beauty over beauty in and of itself—a world where a 27-minute YouTube tutorial on natural brows and contouring can rack up more than a million views—that truly is a crime.

Madeleine Albright makes some good points, including the one about how representation matters.

The French spirit of protest.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sunday roundup

What if we wrote about male scientists the way we wrote about female scientists?

Men have bitchy resting face as much as women, but we notice it more on women because there's an expectation of smiling.

The Facebook motherhood "challenge" is the smuggest thing ever.

This is beautiful and Ask Polly is a national treasure.

But I also deserved someone who appreciated regular, flawed human beings who sometimes have jawline zits and feel unwieldy negative emotions. I could handle those things. I could handle imperfections and self-doubt and bad haircuts and financial uncertainty in someone else, so I deserved someone who wouldn't take me at my worst moment and say, "Your inability to remain the perfect, sexy badass makes me less attracted to you." I didn't know this about myself then, though. I didn't recognize that I was actually pretty forgiving and flexible with men; I was okay with the fact that all men have flaws, so I deserved the same attitude in return. BUT — important! — I wasn't okay with my own flaws, so I figured no one else should be, either...
You need to know that even if you get older and develop a love of rom-coms and a stomach problem that eliminates whiskey from your diet, even if you gain a few pounds and no longer feel motivated to entertain self-centered men, even if horror movies start to depress you and you struggle to get it up for a night on the town, even if your jawline pimples turn into a full-blown, treatment-resistant acne and your hair turns gray and you can't deliver dirty jokes to a drunk crowd the way you used to, you will still be good enough. You will still matter. You can turn into a cookie-cutter girl or even less than that — that average, lumpy, rapidly aging kind of woman who's currently beneath your contempt — and you will still be worthy of love.
Women who work hard to be better than other women suffer a lot. They don't actually need to be upbraided for it. They're already struggling enough. So I'm not saying NEVER EVER PUT YOURSELF ABOVE OTHER WOMEN, SISTER. What I'm saying is that when you try to set yourself apart from other people IN GENERAL, in your own mind, in order to soothe yourself and tell yourself that things will work out just fine for you, in order to reassure yourself that you're sexier and better than the desperate cookie-cutter girls you see out at bars, it doesn't actually make things any easier for you. It makes things harder. When you choose to love yourself for superficial reasons, you teach other people to love you for superficial reasons. And when you reject yourself and scold yourself for things that are beyond your control, you degrade your own ability to show up and enjoy your life. You hate your own humanity. You reject yourself for being a fucking mortal.

Oh I love this, too:
These Lazy Girl guides admittedly offer much the same set of lessons women's publications have been peddling for decades, and they generally follow long-established formulas: Assemble some obvious facts, add a couple genuinely insightful tidbits, lay it all out in an attractive way...
The whole thing smacks of the "cool girl,” to use Gillian Flynn’s description of conspicuous, attractive female chillness. The allure of the effortless reigns supreme online, where it’s easy to chase each other around in circles about who’s faking and who actually doesn't give a fuck (see the debate around the You Did Not Eat That Instagram account) and to applaud the occasional admission of a constructed identity. The only real conclusion that falls out of all this mess is that, still, effort is never cool.