All entries by this author

Bangladesh: Freethinkers vs. Assassins

May 5th, 2016 | By Tasneem Khalil

He reached into his rucksack and said with a smile, “I have something for you.” I extended my hand and took the gift. A small book, 96 pages – a Bengali translation of Am I a Monkey?: Six Big Questions About Evolution by the Spanish-American evolutionary biologist and philosopher Fransico J Ayala. I looked at the illustration on the cover: a sad ape evolving into a human.

One of the translators of the book, Ananta Bijoy Das, was hacked to death by machete-wielding assassins in May 2015, outside his home in Sylhet, north-eastern Bangladesh. The other translator, Siddhartha Dhar, was standing in front of me, somewhere in Stockholm. A few months after the murder of his friend and mentor, Siddhartha … Read the rest

Being good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollar

May 5th, 2016 12:53 pm | By

The Governor of Wisconsin is really terrible. The worst. He likes to inflict harm on people who lack money.

Governor Scott Walker on Wednesday, May 4th approved a rule requiring certain Wisconsinites receiving unemployment insurance benefits to pass a drug test.

“This new rule brings us one step closer to moving Wisconsinites from government dependence to true independence,” Governor Walker said in a statement issued to FOX6 News.

Insurance is not dependence. Unemployment insurance is funded by workers and employers, and it’s insurance, so there shouldn’t be pointless bullying hurdles to getting it. Scott Walker is a bad man.

According to Governor Walker’s office, by being good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollar and fighting fraud and abuse, Wisconsin

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The Lord said get in the truck and leave

May 5th, 2016 12:08 pm | By

A pretty incident by the side of the road in South Carolina.

A tow truck driver refused to a help a customer stranded on Interstate 26 in Asheville on Monday.

“Something came over me, I think the Lord came to me, and he just said get in the truck and leave,” said Ken Shupe of Shupee Max Towing in Traveler’s Rest, S.C.. “And when I got in my truck, you know, I was so proud, because I felt like I finally drew a line in the sand and stood up for what I believed.”

Huh. It takes some hard thinking to come up with a reason for leaving someone stranded on a freeway that could make a person proud. … Read the rest

Guest post: If it made some effort to actually tie it back to women

May 5th, 2016 11:48 am | By

Originally a comment by Freemage on This toxic cloud is called.

The odd thing is, to me, that this would be easier to take seriously if it didn’t try to be quite so dramatic about the situation, and it might fit in a site called Everyday Feminism if it made some effort to actually tie it back to women specifically.

The constant push for fictional characters to end up in monogamous relationships with their ‘one true love’ is annoying to folks who have no desire for such a relationship; this annoyance rises to the level of a micro-aggression when it’s accompanied by ‘proof’ in the narrative that anyone who claims to be happy alone (say, because their career is … Read the rest

Jump a little higher

May 5th, 2016 11:20 am | By

This is where the public ownership of women’s reproductive capacities gets you: a girl of 12 in Queensland had to jump through hoops for weeks to get the abortion she wanted all along. If she hadn’t jumped correctly apparently they would have said no – and a girl of 12 would have been forced to push out a baby she didn’t want to push out.

A 12-year-old Australian girl with a history of suicide attempts was forced to seek a judge’s approval to end an unwanted pregnancy under strict abortion laws.

The girl gained a Queensland supreme court order allowing her to have an abortion after a month dealing with a string of medical, mental health and child safety professionals,

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The taboo word

May 5th, 2016 5:51 am | By

From the abstract of an article in Contraception Journal, What women seek from a pregnancy resource center:

Twenty-nine states enable taxpayer funding to go to pregnancy resource centers (PRCs, often called crisis pregnancy centers), which are usually antiabortion organizations that aim to dissuade women from abortion. Some abortion rights advocates have called for the elimination of PRCs. However, we know little about why women visit PRCs.

We analyzed deidentified intake survey data from first-time clients to a secular, all-options PRC located in Indiana between July and December 2015 on their reason(s) for seeking services, material resources provided and content of any peer counseling…

Clients went there mostly for free diapers and baby clothes.


PRC clients largely sought parenting,

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Who is Afraid of Atheism in 21st Century Kenya?

May 4th, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

Recent reports from both local and international media have highlighted strains between a small atheist group, Atheists in Kenya (AIK) and mainly christian religious organisations in the country. These reports have focused mainly on the controversies surrounding the efforts of the group to gain local recognition and be registered under the Kenyan law. This move has elicited opposition from religious organisations and state officials. In this piece, I argue that these controversies, though understandable, are completely unnecessary and unhelpful to the nation of Kenya. The hostile reactions that the registration of AIK has generated are clear indicators of intolerance, fear and fanaticism. This is highly unexpected of a democratic Kenya that claims to uphold the rights and freedoms of its … Read the rest

Everyday Applied Intersectional Feminism That Ignores Women

May 4th, 2016 4:51 pm | By

What, a couple of you asked on my latest post about Everyday Feminism, does this have to do with feminism, and why can’t they talk about feminism? It’s because they’re too InterSectional to talk about feminism, but I thought I might as well find their About page to see how they explain it themselves.

Everyday Feminism is an educational platform for personal and social liberation. Our mission is to help people dismantle everyday violence, discrimination, and marginalization through applied intersectional feminism and to create a world where self-determination and loving communities are social norms through compassionate activism.

There it is right there – they’re intersectional, so that’s why they talk about everything but feminism more than they talk about … Read the rest

He was unaccountably surprised when she didn’t immediately concede his points

May 4th, 2016 4:17 pm | By

Adam Lee has some thoughts on Maryam Namazie’s encounter with Sam Harris on his podcast a few weeks ago.

While I agree with Harris on some things, I’ve often criticized his views on Islam – especially his indefensible beliefs about profiling – and I was hoping she’d give him a dose of perspective.

She offered him a dose of perspective, but he’s way too convinced that he already knows everything to listen to other people, especially not women. In short, he rejected her offer. For two hours he rejected it.

I got the impression that Namazie was treating it as a debate, whereas Harris didn’t think of it that way. However, his insistence on “correcting” some allegedly wrong ideas she

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Clothing, behavior, and personal appearance

May 4th, 2016 11:48 am | By

Speaking of identity – some of my friends have been trying to pin down exactly what “gender identity” is supposed to mean: whether there is a universally accepted, objective meaning for the term, and whether it makes any sense.

One elucidation that was offered is from Planned Parenthood, and it sounded odd, so I took a look.

PP elucidates on its Gender/Gender Identity page.

What Is Gender? What Is Gender Identity?

Each person has a sex, a gender, and a gender identity. These are all aspects of your sexuality. They are all about who you are, and they are all different, but related.

Sex is biological. It includes our genetic makeup, our hormones, and our body parts, especially our

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This toxic cloud is called

May 4th, 2016 11:15 am | By

Everyday Feminism is such good comic value.

One of its new roads on the Great Map of Intersections is aromantic, “an orientation comprised of a complete lack of romantic interest, behaviors, and relationships.”

Aromanticitude of course has its corresponding Enemy.

The truth is that we’ve all been living under a cloud – choking on it – and hardly anyone else seems to notice it. It’s insidious, and it’s made a complete mockery of friendship and other forms of intimacy outside of romantic entanglements.

It’s so bad that even in the non-monogamous community, aros (a shorter name for aromantic people) are looked at strangely.

This toxic cloud is called amatonormativity – and it’s terribly harmful.

Called by whom? According to … Read the rest

Why aren’t more teenage girls out on the playing fields?

May 3rd, 2016 5:07 pm | By

Girls, puberty, bodies – what could possibly go wrong? Jan Hoffman at the New York Times reports on one thing:

So why aren’t more teenage girls out on the playing fields?

Research shows that girls tend to start dropping out of sports and skipping gym classes around the onset of puberty, a sharp decline not mirrored by adolescent boys.

A recent study in The Journal of Adolescent Health found a surprisingly common reason: developing breasts, and girls’ attitudes about them.

Is it surprisingly? Not if you are a girl or a woman, and you know what it’s like to develop breasts.

In a survey of 2,089 English schoolgirls ages 11 to 18, nearly three-quarters listed at least one breast-related

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Out of concerns for security

May 3rd, 2016 3:56 pm | By

The New York Times:

A doctor who performs abortions at a hospital in Washington [DC] filed a federal civil rights complaint on Monday, charging that the hospital had violated the law by forbidding her, out of concerns for security, to speak publicly in defense of abortion and its role in health care.

The doctor, Diane J. Horvath-Cosper, 37, an obstetrician and gynecologist, has in recent years emerged as a public advocate, urging abortion providers not to shrink before threats. Last December, her complaint says, officials of the MedStar Washington Hospital Center imposed what she described as a “gag order,” but what the officials termed a sensible precaution against anti-abortion violence.

You can see why they would want to do … Read the rest


May 3rd, 2016 2:56 pm | By

What’s the difference between identifying as and being?

I’m not sure I know, myself. I don’t think I use the verb “identify as” very much. I guess I would use it if there were some kind of ambiguity or doubt or complication? Like, someone who grew up in the US but moved to the UK or vice versa – I could make sense of people saying, in that context, “I identify as [American/British] now because it’s been long enough” or alternatively “I still identify as [British/American] because it seems to be ineradicable.”

So “identify as” implies a certain level of will, of choice, of change or adoption or declaration, or else of failure to accomplish it. Yes? Whereas being doesn’t, … Read the rest

A reason why people haven’t listened to what’s on our minds since the day we were born

May 3rd, 2016 11:47 am | By

Glosswitch has some thoughts on women as empty space.

Writing for Glamour magazine, Juno Dawson defends the right of trans women not to have to talk about their genitals: “This isn’t a coquettish fan dance where I’m trying to tease and conceal, it’s just that by not talking about my genitals, you might have to listen to what’s on my mind.” Fair enough, although somewhat naïve when one considers that for female people, assumptions made on the basis of our genitals have been a reason why people haven’t listened to what’s on our minds since the day we were born. This isn’t just a case of mindless objectification; it’s a process of sex class categorisation, and it’s one we

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Playing into the hands of

May 2nd, 2016 4:43 pm | By

More from Orwell, As I Please – this time from June 9 1944, just three days after the invasion started but he doesn’t mention it. (Nothing surprising in that, there was plenty of mention of it elsewhere.)

A phrase much used in political circles in this country is ‘playing into the hands of’. It is a sort of charm or incantation to silence uncomfortable truths. When you are told that by saying this, that or the other you are ‘playing into the hands of some sinister enemy, you know that it is your duty to shut up immediately.

For example, if you say anything damaging about British imperialism, you are playing into the hands of Dr Goebbels. If you

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The lakes mirror the fells and valleys

May 2nd, 2016 3:15 pm | By

Maureen alerted me to Sian Cain’s Guardian article about Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere Journal.

William and Dorothy Wordsworth moved to Grasmere in 1799, living in Dove Cottage until 1808. Dorothy’s journals document their quiet existence: daily walks, afternoons with mutton pies, William’s headaches. The siblings composed poems and letters as they walked through miles of hills and thickets; on occasion visited by friends like Walter Scott, Thomas de Quincey, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In a 1797 letter, Coleridge described Dorothy’s taste as “a perfect electrometer — it bends, protrudes, and draws in at subtlest beauties and most recondite faults.” Consider her description of daffodils near Gowbarrow Park:

I never saw daffodils so beautiful. They grew about the mossy stones about and

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You do less harm by dropping bombs on people than by calling them “Huns”

May 2nd, 2016 12:47 pm | By

I was reading some of Orwell’s As I Please columns from Tribune this morning, and the one for August 4 1944 grabbed my attention in a big way.

Apropos of saturation bombing, a correspondent who disagreed with me very strongly added that he was by no means a pacifist. He recognized, he said, that ‘the Hun had got to be beaten’. He merely objected to the barbarous methods that we are now using.

Now, it seems to me that you do less harm by dropping bombs on people than by calling them ‘Huns’. Obviously one does not want to inflict death and wounds if it can be avoided, but I cannot feel that mere killing is all-important. We shall all

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Not a harmless tic

May 2nd, 2016 11:43 am | By

Molly Worthen objects to the substitution of “I feel” for “I think.” She’s not just picking a nit.

The imperfect data that linguists have collected indicates that “I feel like” became more common toward the end of the last century. In North American English, it seems to have become a synonym for “I think” or “I believe” only in the last decade or so. Languages constantly evolve, and curmudgeons like me are always taking umbrage at some new idiom. But make no mistake: “I feel like” is not a harmless tic. George Orwell put the point simply: “If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” The phrase says a great deal about our muddled ideas about reason, emotion and

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To demonstrate a moral counterweight

May 2nd, 2016 11:06 am | By

Jacques Rousseau – who pointed out that story about Ntokozo Qwabe’s gloating triumph over a restaurant server to me – has some inconvenient observations on the reaction to Qwabe’s gloat.

First, what that reaction was:

Sihle Ngobese (SN) visited the restaurant, found the waitress – Ashleigh Shultz (AS) – and gave her the tip that the RMF table could (and should, unless they received terrible service) have given her, were it not for the fact that they objectified this woman as a placeholder for white oppression, despite knowing nothing about her, her politics, or her financial circumstances. (Something they of course should have been aware of is the likelihood that, as a waitress, she and some hypothetical intersectional movement

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