this culture you speak of

"You heinous bitch."

“You heinous bitch.”

Earlier this year, I read an essay called Shining a Light on Cutoff Culture. It’s almost four thousand words long and before I was halfway through, my shoulders were drawn up around my ears and my head was vibrating with ill-defined rage. Fortunately, Captain Awkward chose to tackle it on her blog and helped me pinpoint exactly why this essay made me so deeply uncomfortable. It took me a long time to sort my thoughts out on this one, but here is my letter to the man who wrote that essay.

Dear Jeff,

You claim to be trying to shine on a light the dangers of cutoff culture. But here is the thing.

Most women do not live in a cutoff culture. Far from it. Let me tell you a bit about the kind of culture women live in when it comes to dating, relationships and sex. Your essay extrapolated from an example from your own personal experience, so I’ll give you one from mine:

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link farm #11: bumper crop

Manfeels Park is the best pun that was ever stretched to its logical conclusion.

Manfeels Park is the best pun that was ever stretched to its logical conclusion.

Hi pals! It’s been a while since I’ve updated, because things were very crazy at work, and then I was on holidays, and then I had roughly seven draft posts kind of halfway ready to go and just got paralysed and overwhelmed and decided I needed to lie down because blogging that’s just how it goes. Anyway. Here are some recent and not-so-recent articles I found equally entertaining and enlightening in the past month!

Patriarchy in action: the New York Times rewrites history Reclusive Leftist neatly busts open the myth that women have never invented anything or contributed to scientific advancement, then smashes it with a sledgehammar and throws the shards of patriarchal bullshit into the roaring furnace of common fucking sense.

Georgia Salpa, Catholic Guilt and Ireland’s Weird Misogyny The awesome Roisin Kiberd examines Ireland’s specific brand of “kitsch misogyny” as it manifests in Irish Models (not to be confused with models who happen to be Irish) “who occupy an uneasy cultural space between nation’s sweethearts and national joke.”

Women Who are Ambivalent about Women Against Women Against Feminism The Bloggess succinctly and hilariously sums up my feelings about that silly Tumblr that people thought meant the end of feminism or some bullshit.

Harassment by Robot Hugs Congratulations, you have found the only comic you will ever need for explaining the dynamics of sexual harassment to any well-meaning but otherwise obtuse men in your life.

Patriarchy’s Magic Trick: How Anything Perceived As Women’s Work Immediately Sheds Its Value Any idea why “medical doctor” is one of the lowest paid professions in Russia? Go on, have a guess…

No one is paying for my birth control but me A lot of people in the US are wringing their hands over employers having to “pay for birth control” for their slutty slutty female employees. That is to say, a lot of people in the US don’t seem to understand how their own incredibly fucked up health insurance system works.

All lead actors in The Gods of Egypt will be white because of course they will. But it doesn’t matter! Because race doesn’t matter! As long as all the main characters are white! This article is also a pretty good rundown of some of the more egregious cases of whitewashing in Hollywood’s recent history.

It’s The 24th Century, Shouldn’t We Have Fucked Up The Patriarchy More Than This By Now? Isn’t weird that science fiction can conceive of literally almost anything except a world without patriarchal norms? Also, is not taking your husband’s last name really an act of patriarchal subversion if “your” last name also inevitably comes from your father or your grandfather?

Manfeels Park is a webcomic that finds comments from real “hurt and confused men with Very Important Things To Explain”… and turns them into conversations between Jane Austen characters. And why yes, it is my new favourite thing on the Internet ever, in case you had to ask.

How to be Polite An entertaining and thoughtful personal essay on the “stubborn power of politeness”. As someone who is usually quite polite, but occasionally not polite AT ALL – and as a woman, which means my bog-standard politeness is often interpreted as a) a sign that I am a doormat or b) an invitation to touch my leg – it gave me a lot to think about.

an intersectional feminist metaphor

At St. Hockeysticks School for Aggressive Young Women, Arts subjects are terribly underfunded and their problems largely ignored by management. The department heads meet to discuss what can be done about this unjust state of affairs.

Art: The arts in this school are terribly underfunded!

Music: I agree, it’s a shocking state of affairs.

Theatre: We must do something about it.

Music: The orchestra needs more instruments! I think we should campaign for more instruments.

Art: Well, yes, that is a problem, but also my classes have been trying to get by on the same tube of Titanium White all term.

Theatre: And there may not be a school play at all this year unless the bake sale next week is a major hit.

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elliot rodger and the logical conclusion

Let's just get this out the way now, yeah?

Let’s just get this out the way now, shall we?

Right. Elliot Rodger and the Isla Vista shootings. Within hours of the story breaking, a number of friends and readers got in touch asking if I was going to write a reaction piece. After five minutes on my newsfeed and on Twitter, I was overwhelmed by exhaustion. That was my dominant emotion. Not anger, not frustration, not sorrow. Just numbing here-we-go-again exhaustion. After half an hour, I did not want to write about this. And watching the conversations pick up speed and the comments roll in – the justifications, the derails, the rationalizations, the outright defenses – made it all feel even more hopeless.

But then I spoke to my sister, who reminded me why it’s important to keep writing and that even if it feels repetitive, these things can’t be said too many times. So thanks, Lars. Also, many of these points are hers or riffing on hers.

And now, in no particular order, my thoughts:

1. There exists a sub-section of men who literally cannot sit through a discussion of structural misogyny without receiving constant and emphatic reassurance that no one is accusing them personally of being a misogynist. This is a derail and an attempt to shut down debate. Because, to quote Sometimes, it’s just a cigar:

“Suppose you disagree with women about whether rape is part of the structure of our society, used to reinforce patriarchy. Do you make that debate possible by standing on your wounded pride, and just insisting that the debate must start with a disclaimer that says you’re not a rapist? Forgive me, but that’s nothing more than narcissism.”

The conviction that you have never participated or been complicit in structural misogyny is dubious to say the least, no matter what your gender. But even if you are resolute that you, personally, have managed to transcend the system you were born and raised in and now stand as a shining beacon of gender equity outside the mire of patriarchy? Good for you, but structural misogyny still exists and we still need to have a conversation about it. If you think you have nothing to learn, go play elsewhere on the internet.

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link farm #10: easter easter

The Intensive Step-By-Step Guide to Relaxing is exactly what you need to this weekend

The Intensive Step-By-Step Guide to Relaxing is exactly what you need to enjoy this Easter weekend to the fullest

In other news, here’s a small sample of the some of the Internet I have been enjoying this week!

Dissent Unheard Of Ashe Dryden unpacks some of the techniques typically used to silence people who speak up to promote and protect diversity. Focused on the tech sector, but applicable pretty much anywhere.

Why we should give free money to everyone Turns out the best way to spend money on the poor might be to give money to the poor. Unconvinced? Read this great article by Rutger Bregman of Decorrespondent about consistent success of basic income experiments.

My Breakup with Exercise This personal account from Leah of Talkin’ Reckless is a really good reminder that everything in moderation – including exercise – is the best way to live a sustainable healthy and happy life.

We’re not here for your inspiration A reminder from Stella Young that disabled people don’t exist to put your problems in perspective, nor to illustrate your cloying motivational posters. Most of them are just trying to get through the day, just like their able-bodied counterparts, and no matter what Scott Hamilton says, they don’t owe you a good attitude.

These Female “Privileges” Suck It’s no secret that I’m a fan of a good takedown, and this one from Sophieologie is a particularly satisfying annihilation of Thought Catalog’s latest puerile listicle. Sidenote: does anyone else feel sad that the once-useful concept of privilege is now deployed solely for the purpose of mudslinging, by people who have no idea what it actually means?

Glamour and Glitter, Fashion and Fame! And A Bunch of Dudes In Charge A live action Jem and the Holograms movie, you say? YAY! A creative team entirely composed of dudes and the original (female) creator entirely shut out from the process, you say? Less yay. Kitty of Red Lemonade explains. With GIFs.

The Body Is Not Gender: Laura Jane Grace Of Against Me! Interviewed Lovely thought-provoking interview with the lead singer of Against Me! about her transition process, her deeply personal new record and the reactions from her fans.

Your Map is Racist Q. When is a map racist? A. When Greenland is as big as Africa and the equator has mysteriously shifted downwards so we can see more of Europe.

On Colbert and White Racial Satire: We Don’t Need It In the wake of the #CancelColbert tweetstorm, Mia McKenzie cuts through the bullshit (as usual) and asks: what exactly white racial satire is doing for people of colour, and is it really more helpful than harmful?

RELAXING: AN INTENSIVE STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE “You probably think of relaxation as an unattainable dream, if not just a myth altogether. Adhere to this guide with precision and get ready to experience the most rigorous relaxation of your life!

“The Only Moral Abortion is My Abortion” A fascinating series of accounts from physicians and counselors who have provided abortions to anti-choice women; in some cases, women who turned up to picket the clinic the day after the procedure.

because history or something, part I

He's probably pissed off because Ygritte is far too sassy for a lady living in Ye Olde Generic Medievale Tymes

The King of the Ice Zombies also has a lot of opinions about historical accuracy in fantasy.

OK, Internet. New Game of Thrones just started, and I know we’re all very excited.[1] Before the deluge of internet commentary really begins, I think this is an appropriate moment to have a chat about the relationship between fiction and history, and more specifically the relationship between the fantasy genre and the specific periods of Euro-centric history from which it tends to borrow heavily. I have a lot of thoughts on this subject, so this will be a three part series. Starting with Part I, which asks the question: What do we mean by historical accuracy?

It’s a tale as old as the Internet. Someone writes an article about a book/film/game/ interpretative shadow-puppet musical from the fantasy genre and says, “Hey, I really like this thing, but I would like it more if the women were not being sexually assaulted quite so constantly and the brown people were not costumed entirely in Generic Tribal Chic.” And then, without fail, a deeply indignant nerd type will pop his head over the parapet of the comment box and let forth his ancient war cry: “BUT HISTOOOOOOORY THEREFORE YOUR ARGUMENT IS INVAAAAAALID!!!”

It may seem like I’m overstating for effect here, but this exact exchange just happened on a recent post from Media Diversified. Shane Thomas made some excellent (and, at this stage, well-worn) points about Game of Thrones and its race problems. This attracted the attention of one intrepid commenter, who didn’t bother to read the whole post but nonetheless left a long comment – equal parts condescending and clueless – which boiled down to, “The Mongols existed at some point, therefore Game of Thrones can’t be racist.” In his response, Thomas acknowledges that he is aware that history is indeed a thing, but the fact that history is extremely racist does not give a modern TV show set in a fictional world a free pass to also be racist.

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link farm #9: variety bag

Twitch Plays Pokémon was basically the logical conclusion of the Internet.

Twitch Plays Pokémon was basically the logical conclusion of the Internet. source: kotaku

Hi everyone! The fields of the link farm have lain fallow for a while, but they shall be all the more fertile for it and a new crop of feminism shall grow strong and abundant in the furrows of this newly-ploughed metaphor.

That is to say, the draft email where I keep interesting links (Iol, what are bookmarks) has become nothing short of unwieldy, so here’s a bumper crop of stuff I read recently (or not so recently) that I found thought-provoking. All of it is articles. In no particular order:

The Twitching of Democracy Could Twitch Plays Pokémon hold the answer to reinvigorating our broken systems of democracy? I have no idea, but fortunately my friend Tadhg decided to grapple with that very question in his latest blog post.

Rage Doesn’t Exist in a Vacuum Women in general, and feminists in particular, are often accused of overreacting or being excessively angry in response to relatively innocuous things. Kameron Hurley does a great job of explaining that a) seemingly isolated incidents are often “blown out of proportion” precisely because they are not isolated incidents and b) anger is actually a necessary tool for changing the status quo.

What, So I Can’t Even Act Like My Subordinate Coworkers Only Have Their Jobs Because They’re Hot Anymore? In case you are unfamiliar with Bad Advisor, she scours Internet advice columns for the most bizarre and clueless of questions and then responds with exactly what the Letter Writer wanted to hear. It’s all gold, but this is particularly on point. Warning: unprecedented levels of snark.

Should “potential fathers” have any say in abortion? A thorny issue, but this is why I love reading Aoife O’Riordan on reproductive rights; she brings a level on incisiveness and clarity that I would never arrive at on my own and her conclusions always center the needs of the pregnant person above all else. And as a fellow native of a country where abortion is illegal except in the most extenuating of circumstances, her insight is valuable to me on a personal and political level.

Bi-Erasure and The Diary of a Young Girl Anne Frank may not have identified as bisexual, but the fact that her diary was originally scrubbed of homoerotic material prior to publishing is symptomatic of a society that is still profoundly uncomfortable with fluid sexuality. Solomon Wong illustrates how this relates to modern bi-erasure and why young bi people need more mainstream narratives that acknowledge their existence.

Lupita Nyong'o as mohawked Storm is the best fancast ever. (source: Geek Outside)

Lupita Nyong’o as mohawked Storm is the best fancast ever. source: Geek Outsider

Bros before Rogues Nicholas DiSabatino asks if the X-Men franchise – despite reams of excellent source material – is getting steadily worse at portraying women as well-rounded characters… or indeed, portraying them at all. (Hint: Yes.)

Why Marketers Fear The Female Geek  Disruptive innovation is one of my favourite marketing concepts. It basically means ripping up the rule book and throwing all the data out the window in order to capture (or recapture) a brand new market through bold and original strategies. And this, argues Anjin Anhut, is exactly what videogame companies need to do if they want access to the wallets of the fifty percent of the population they’ve been systematically alienating for the past few decades.

The Night I Kissed A Rapist In this simple personal account, Jan DeVry explores her firsthand experience of discovering that a rapist can be a well-liked, charismatic man with whom you have strong chemistry.

Seeming Female: Gender in Digital Space So at this point we all know that Fake Geek Girl is largely a myth, the fever dream of an adult nerd with a subconscious desire to punish all women for that one time a hot girl ignored him at summer camp. But the always excellent Foz Meadows posits an interesting theory: what if she does exist? What if she exists and what if she is a literal invention of male gamers? “What if the respective myths of the Fake Geek Girl and Fake Gamer Girl are actively being perpetuated, not through the whore-user predations of evil ladies, but because a cynical, sexist subset of male geeks are using stereotypical, strawman portrayals of women to manipulate their peers?” It sounds far-fetched, but the numbers add up and the performance of gender in digital spaces is a strange and elusive beast.