Notes and Comment Blog

Self-reliant corn syrup farmers

Aug 24th, 2016 10:51 am | By

Rush Limbaugh has spied a new danger.

Here’s how it works. “Rural America happens to be largely conservative. Rural America is made up of self-reliant, rugged individualist types,” explains Limbaugh. (Farmers are “self-reliant” because, even though their sector is technically the recipient of heavy federal subsidies, they are overwhelmingly white.) Obama has a plan to attack them:

They are trying to bust up one of the last geographically conservative regions in the country; that’s rural America … So here comes the Obama Regime with a bunch of federal money and they’re waving it around, and all you gotta do to get it is be a lesbian and want to be a farmer and they’ll set you up … apparently enough money it make it happen, and the objective here is to attack rural states.

Oh no, not…lesbian farmers!! How will we ever survive?

They’ll get rid of all the bulls, you know, and that will mean no milk, and that will mean no cheese. No cheese. I can’t stop shivering.

It’s a simple shift

Aug 24th, 2016 10:19 am | By

Britni de la Cretaz’s ludicrous piece in The Atlantic made me curious about her, so I found another article by her on Trevor MacDonald, this one for Rewire last May. It is, if anything, even worse.

In his new parenting memoir, Trevor MacDonald talks about pregnancy and breastfeeding as a trans man—and why we must dislodge the idea that bearing children is only women’s labor.

No, we mustn’t. That’s not something we need to dislodge. For one thing, it’s not true, and for another thing, women are not The Powerful Caste that we need to dislodge. If Trevor MacDonald wants to live as a man, fine, go ahead. If he wants us all to pretend that men bear children, he can fuck right off.

That was the subhead. Here’s the opening paragraph:

Pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding are acts often associated with womanhood. We talk about pregnant women and nursing mothers, but this language—which depends on the male-female gender binary—seems inadequate as trans and nonbinary folks are increasingly visible in the parenting sphere.

Nonsense. Pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding are not “acts often associated with womanhood” – that’s a fatuous way to put it. Skirts, giggles, gossip are among the items “often associated with womanhood” because they’re social; pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding are not in that category. No, “this language” does not seem at all inadequate. (Also, what is this insistence on trans “folks” – what is the allergy to the word “people” when trans issues are on the table? Except of course when the subject is abortion rights, which pregnant “people” need.)

By sharing his experiences and documenting the many challenges he faced as a man who planned to give birth and nurse his baby, MacDonald asks readers to reconsider everything they think they know about what it means to be a gestational parent. By the end of the book, readers come away understanding that despite a person’s gender, pregnancy and nursing are universal experiences and valid regardless of how they happen. MacDonald’s voice is an important and necessary one in the birthing community, and there are surely many more people out there like him.

No. Pregnancy and nursing are not universal experiences. Saying it doesn’t make it true, and it’s not true.

Rewire: You talk a lot about struggling to find literature that you related to because pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding are typically only associated with women—and motherhood. Can you tell me about the kind of language you’d like to see used to talk about these experiences and why it’s important?

Trevor MacDonald: I think I was a bit naive at first when I was reading those materials. I felt like, “If only the authors knew, I’m sure they would have used different language. They just didn’t know about people like me.” And that’s definitely been the case for some of those authors. Many are starting to change language and using words like “parents” or “pregnant people.” It’s a simple shift, really.

Yeah, kids! It’s easy to erase women! Just stop saying the word – talk about pregnant people instead. (Not pregnant folks. No no, that would be vulgar.) Except when you need to blame women of course; then you have to say the word.

Where I was naive, though, is that there are some people who really don’t want to use inclusive language. Ina May Gaskin is one. I had read her book [Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth] during my first pregnancy and had been so inspired by her writing, and the birth stories are so valuable and needed. I was so hungry for information about what others had experienced. I love that book so dearly, and to realize she really was opposed to including gender-diverse people in her writing was really upsetting. [Gaskin signed this open letter by Woman-Centered Midwifery, a group of “gender-critical” midwives who believe that biological sex determines gender and were concerned about the Midwives Alliance of North America’s use of gender-neutral language to talk about pregnancy and birth.]

Erasing women isn’t “inclusive.” Erasing women from pregnancy and reproductive rights is the opposite of “inclusive.” Trans men should not be campaigning to erase women. It’s revolting.

War at the university

Aug 24th, 2016 9:52 am | By

The American University in Kabul is being attacked, the BBC reports.

A large explosion has been heard and students barricaded inside rooms in the building say they can hear gunfire close by.

The emergency hospital says it has received five injured people from the scene so far.

Police have described it as a “complex attack” and have deployed special forces.

Some people have escaped, some are trapped inside.

Student Ahmad Mukhtar told the BBC that he was 100m (320ft) away from the university’s main entrance when he heard “six or 10” shots and a “huge” blast.

The explosion created so much light that it momentarily lit up the surrounding area, he said.

Then there were was more firing inside the campus. He added that he had also heard students shouting.

“I climbed a six-metre wall to escape,” Ahmad said.

Another student told the AFP he was trapped with other students.

Massoud Hossaini tweets:

To be continued.


Unwelcoming to men

Aug 24th, 2016 8:24 am | By

The Atlantic has an extraordinarily ridiculous piece about trans men who have babies and breast feed them, and (this is the ridiculous part) the resulting need to stop talking about pregnancy and breast feeding as something that women do.

The writer is someone called Britni De La Cretaz, who calls herself Britni De La Cretaz, Writer on Facebook.

[Trevor] MacDonald began blogging about chestfeeding from his home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and soon discovered a whole community of transmasculine people around the world in the same boat, looking for guidance. For trans men and transmasculine folks, putting a baby to their chest to suckle can lead to complicated feelings about their gender. Many lactation support services are available for “nursing mothers,” which sounds unwelcoming to men and non-binary individuals.

But lactation support services are for nursing mothers. It strikes me as very “unwelcoming” to women for trans men to object to the word “mothers.” Lactation support services are not for men, because men don’t lactate. Some trans men do, but that’s not a good reason to delete women from the discourse about nursing.

So what can be done? Kribbe feels that one of the most important points of this research is urging care providers to be especially attentive to the terms they use. Part of that, she says, starts with the kind of education that obstetricians, midwives, and lactation counselors receive, but another part involves providers being willing to educate themselves about terminology that is gender neutral, as opposed to the gendered-female language that currently dominates lactation support. Even acknowledging that the need for change exists in the first place is an important step, the researchers contend.

There. That. Don’t do that. Don’t agitate to remove women from discussions of pregnancy and childbirth and nursing – and abortion rights and contraception. That’s the All Lives Matter version of trans activism, and it stinks.

In response to whether or not there were any questions about providing lactation support to transmasculine or non-binary individuals on the exam to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Sara Blair Lake, the executive director of the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, offered a content outline, which shows that the gendered language “maternal” and “mother” is still common, as opposed to the neutral terminology like “parent.” Meanwhile, Melissa Cole, an Oregon-based International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, said in an email that, to her knowledge, there aren’t educational requirements for IBCLCs about how to support transmasculine folks who want to nurse their babies, and that she has received no such training. Cole, who has not yet provided lactation support to a trans person in her practice, wishes she could receive more formal education around inclusive language so she can provide better care.

Maybe it’s just not an issue. Ever think of that? Maybe trans men should just be able to grasp that the vast majority of people affected by pregnancy are women, and that women are not the dominant sex around here, and that it’s not cool to try to get them removed even from areas that affect them the most profoundly. Maybe they should be appalled at themselves, wanting to shove women out of the way.

The comments are uniformly scathing.

And you keep half

Aug 23rd, 2016 6:18 pm | By

And now for something nice, instead. A colleague and friend reminisces about Oliver Sacks.

A year ago, I lost my best friend, Oliver Sacks. For many years, each week, Oliver and I would cruise north on the West Side bike path at sunrise. Alone, our bicycles a few inches apart, we spoke about everything and anything, but mostly about interesting patients, natural history, and food. His voice was soft, and I struggled to hear his words. But his volume and pedalling cadence always accelerated when the massive TRUMP PLACE buildings appeared to our right. He detested the giant protuberances that unpleasantly punctuated the view from our bike seats, and often cursed them.


Instead, he looked forward to passing by the Seventy-ninth Street Boat Basin, which reminded him of his City Island days. There, he had a housekeeper who, once a week, would make a beef stew for him and divide it into seven daily portions. One day, when the portions began to decline in size, Oliver asked, “Did the price of beef go up? I will give you more.” His housekeeper sheepishly admitted to pilfering some stew; she could not afford it for herself. “Then I will give you money for eight pounds instead of four, and you keep half.”

That makes up for a lot of what I’ve been reading today.

He would have been crushed by the rise of Donald Trump and the electoral success of Brexit. Intolerance and fear-mongering, he knew, are rudders that steer societies in dangerous directions. Oliver knew life from the other side: a gay man in a straight society; a doctor who cared for people, not patients; a finder of strength among the infirm. His moral compass pointed to tolerance and kindness. Nearly a decade ago, departing the Havana airport after a swim trip, he was asked if he might donate some clothing for those in need. He told me that he handed over his entire suitcase, and left with his satchel of books, a journal, a magnifying glass, and a few odds and ends, because someone probably needed the rest of his things more than he did.

As he did in Havana, Oliver left us everything he had to give, a treasure of lessons. Care and have empathy for those who are different or less fortunate. Have fun and love often. Find wonder and beauty. Know gratitude.

Yes; all those things.

Church to patient: no treatment for you

Aug 23rd, 2016 5:43 pm | By

This is very bad too. A woman bleeding and in pain from a dislodged IUD is turned away by her doctor because of the bishops.

Melanie Jones arrived for her doctor’s appointment bleeding and in pain. Jones, 28, who lives in the Chicago area, had slipped in her bathroom, and suspected the fall had dislodged her copper intrauterine device (IUD).

Her doctor confirmed the IUD was dislodged and had to be removed. But the doctor said she would be unable to remove the IUD, citing Catholic restrictions followed by Mercy Hospital and Medical Center and providers within its system.

Wait, what, had Jones gone to a church to get medical treatment?

No, of course she hadn’t. She’d gone to her doctor.

The doctor left Jones to confer with colleagues, before returning to confirm that her “hands [were] tied,” according to two complaints filed by the ACLU of Illinois. Not only could she not help her, the doctor said, but no one in Jones’ health insurance network could remove the IUD, because all of them followed similar restrictions. Mercy, like many Catholic providers, follows directives issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that restrict access to an array of services, including abortion care, tubal ligations, and contraception.

“Directive” from bishops saying what medical care people can’t have. From bishops. Religious personnel should have no say whatsoever in what medical care people can’t have.

“She told Ms. Jones that that process [of switching networks] would take her a month, and that she should feel fortunate because sometimes switching networks takes up to six months or even a year,” the ACLU of Illinois wrote in a pair of complaints filed in late June.

Jones hadn’t even realized her health-care network was Catholic.

Let alone that it would refuse to treat a medical problem connected to her contraception.

Jones left her doctor’s office, still in pain and bleeding. Her options were limited. She couldn’t afford a $1,000 trip to the emergency room, and an urgent care facility was out of the question since her Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois insurance policy would only cover treatment within her network—and she had just been told that her entire network followed Catholic restrictions.

Her insurance was good only within her network, and she couldn’t get the needed treatment within that network. This is not right.

Jones, on the advice of a friend, contacted the ACLU of Illinois. Attorneys there advised Jones to call her insurance company and demand they expedite her network change. After five hours of phone calls, Jones was able to see a doctor who removed her IUD, five days after her initial appointment and almost two weeks after she fell in the bathroom.

Before the IUD was removed, Jones suffered from cramps she compared to those she felt after the IUD was first placed, severe enough that she medicated herself to cope with the pain.

All because the god damn bishops say No. God damn religious fanatic bishops who won’t ever be writhing in pain because a dislodged IUD is poking them in the innards say NO to women in that situation. It makes me want to smash a few altars.

A barrage of racist abuse

Aug 23rd, 2016 5:10 pm | By

God damn it.

The Guardian:

A black British woman who was chosen to tweet from the @ireland account for a week has been subjected to a barrage of racist abuse, forcing her to take a break from Twitter.

Michelle Marie took over the account – which is curated by a different Twitter user in Ireland each week – on Monday. She introduced herself as a mother, blogger and plus-size model.

Originally from Oxford in England, she wrote she had settled in Ireland and “it has my heart”.

However, just hours after taking [she took] over the profile – which is followed by nearly 40,000 people – the abuse began.

And Twitter did nothing, as always. “Free speech” – unless it’s someone famous getting abused.

After “8hrs of non-stop hate” she said she was hurt, shocked and appalled but promised she would try again tomorrow.

Marie told the Guardian that the experience had been upsetting.

“I’m saddened that such extreme racism and vitriol is still rife. I am fortunate that experiencing this level of hate is a rarity, but for too many it’s a daily reality,” she said.

No nice things.

The dick pic and the quest for intimacy

Aug 23rd, 2016 4:40 pm | By

A much-needed video appeared yesterday, apparently via Alain de Botton and definitely via The School of LifeThe Dick Pic. You may think sending dick pics nobody asked for is not a very thoughtful hobby, but have you thought about it deeply enough? The School of Life is here to help.

It’s pretty painful to watch, what with the pretentious narrator and all, but it’s an essay as well as a video, so we’re in luck.

The Dick Picture is one of the least well-regarded of contemporary genres. To many, the idea of a man sending an acquaintance a picture of his penis sounds the height of idiotic self-regard and arrogance. Who, after all, would be interested – let alone turned on? It seems a fitting occasion to mock and laugh heartily.

Sigh. Have you spotted what the writer (de Botton?) left out? Have you wondered what happened to the all-important variable? It’s whether or not the recipient wants the dick pic. If the dick pic is invited, I don’t think it is idiotic self-regard and arrogance, it’s just lovers being lovers. But if it’s not invited? It’s all that and worse. But whatever imbecile wrote this thing seems to have entirely forgotten about that aspect. Which is sort of the whole problem, isn’t it…

Clearly, there are ways of sending images of one’s genitals to other people that may go seriously wrong. But there can also be quite important and benign aspects to this apparently crude and alarming phenomenon, dynamics that tells us about what lies at the heart of our sexuality and our search for intimacy.

Not if it’s uninvited there aren’t. If it is invited, there’s no need for this ridiculous essay, and if it’s not, this ridiculous essay is a pile of shit.

We get Dürer painting his in a self-portrait. Great; no problem. Then we get ludicrous commentary.

To make a dick pick isn’t typically about arrogance: it’s an exercise in vulnerability. Other people may laugh. That is what makes the act such a gamble and, when it goes right, a symbol of closeness. Like all men, Dürer knew perfectly well that many people would find his radical self-portrait acutely embarrassing. But, just like many of his modern day successors, Dürer was searching for a kind of friendship through an undefended act of revelation. He wasn’t making an assertion of potency; he was creating a noteworthy new avenue for rejection – in the name of honesty.

But he wasn’t presenting it to people uninvited. He didn’t go knocking on people’s doors and hold the portrait up when they opened. A single self-portrait isn’t the same as a dick pic tweeted to women who didn’t request it.

It is certainly possible to be too proud of one’s penis, and attempt to show it to others out of a desire to shock and humiliate. But for the overwhelming majority of men, this is not remotely what is at stake. The sending of a dick pic stems from a wish to reveal one’s deeper, more sincere self without any of the normal requirements for secrecy and shame. It is precisely because the penis is an area of such potential disgust and ridicule that its calculated revelation belongs to a trajectory of closeness, in which social inhibitions are finally and courageously lowered.

It’s as if women just didn’t exist at all, isn’t it. No need to think about whether or not they asked for these dick pics, no need to ask them how they feel about uninvited dick pics, no need to take them into account in any way.

Honey, sweetie, missy

Aug 23rd, 2016 3:28 pm | By

A couple of weeks ago the New York Times on Facebook invited female attorneys to respond to their story on the ABA’s effort to get sexist remarks out of the courtroom. Many did. A sampling:

  • I have been an attorney in Colorado for 17 years and in late December 2015, in an attorney’s fees hearing in federal court for a case we won in July 2015, the federal judge said, on the record, that my job in the trial (by the way I was the only female portion of my trial team and there were no females on the opposing trial team), “could have been done by a legal secretary” (Note I was second chair). In that 5-day federal jury trial, I helped pick the jury, argued 2 motions (and won one), did the direct testimony of the client and the redirect of him, worked hard with the judge and opposing counsel “after hours” for 2 nights on jury instructions and drafted cross examinations with my first chair. So yes, sexism is alive and well here but I guess at least I wasn’t called, “Honey.”
  • I have been fortunate working in Oregon for the Oregon DOJ. That said, I have been called a soccer mom, sweetie, honey and to “calm down” over the last almost 30 years.
  • During a deposition, opposing counsel responded to me in an off-the-record discussion by saying “That’s a big word for such a little girl.” I was too astounded to respond. A judge once said he liked my braid and followed up by asking “Can I pull it?” Irecoiled but couldn’t really say anything because I have to appear in front of him often. I get sweetie, gorgeous, and honey all the time (not just by male attorneys,either, but older women are guilty of it, too). This is in New York.
  • The day of my first trial, Defense counsel told me in chambers that he was “glad he could be my first.” Then he and the male judge laughed as I squirmed in my chair. I have been called honey, sweetie, missy, and been told I am too young and pretty to be an attorney. I am also regularly mistaken for a non-attorney in the courtroom, even when I’m dressed in a full suit, carrying a briefcase, and in an area reserved for attorneys.
  • I have been casually asked (on the record) if I have children and what does my husband think about my working? I have also several times been mistaken for the court reporter or a paralegal instead of lead attorney.
  • I have a Spanish last name, so three times a judge assumed I could translate and asked me to do it on the record. Then, I have received the “sweetheart,” “young lady” meant in a degrading way, and the “honey” when I was once a law clerk. Often, I receive comments from opposing counsel based on the fact that I am young. Apparently, being young means you cannot interpret the court rules or cases.

That’s a small sample. It makes interesting reading.


Guest post: Feminism has never been about being popular

Aug 23rd, 2016 2:51 pm | By

Originally a comment by ZugTheMegasaurus on All the while insisting we call them “feminist”.

The only thing that seemed to survive this push to destigmatize feminism is the word itself. People wanted so badly for “feminism” to not trigger this negative knee-jerk reaction, but they only succeeded by making it a toothless word that no one feels a need to react to.

It’s not that I don’t understand. I’m also irritated by people assuming all sorts of stupid shit about feminism and feminists. But I can also understand that feminism is, by its very nature, going to upset a lot of people. I can understand that it is not something that everyone is going to embrace, or even see reason for embracing. A lot of women, Kim Kardashian included, have found a comfortable place for themselves in things the way they are. They have found a way to make the patriarchal status quo work for them, and in that light, I think it’s entirely obvious why those people would not be especially enthusiastic about any ideology/viewpoint that wouldn’t include those opportunities.

A lot of us who embrace feminism aren’t in that category. We haven’t found a comfortable place in that system, and more importantly, we don’t want to. We don’t understand how anybody would be, and we have a hard time believing women who say they are; I think that’s where a lot of this push to say “every woman is a feminist, even if you think you’re not” comes from. It’s this insistence that somebody just can’t believe something harmful about themselves and their role in the world, so they must just be confused about what they believe.

But I’m willing to admit that I might just not get it. That’s certainly been the explanation in the back of my head for, say, my entire life. I don’t get wanting to be a wife and mother (I gag a little bit just typing it, FFS). I don’t get thinking that I should defer to someone else for no reason other than my sex/gender. I don’t get accepting someone else’s explanation of who and what I am. But a lot of people do, and that’s okay. It is okay that those people are not feminists; it is okay that beliefs that would be devastating for me are actually positive for them. I still hope that those beliefs are going to disappear from the face of the earth one day, but I can acknowledge that I’m in the minority on that one.

I can be a feminist, and I can still support the many, many women who are not. Not by trying to convert them or by broadening the definition of “feminist” to fit them in, but simply by understanding that they are the ones who will reap the benefits of feminism, not feminism as a label or personal identity, but feminism as a movement of women’s liberation from patriarchy. And even then, if they cursed feminism and feminists to their dying breath, that would be just fine too. Feminism has never been about being popular, and it never will be, no matter how many people would prefer it to be about silly t-shirts and hashtags. It’s not for everyone, and that’s okay.

15,053 left within four days

Aug 23rd, 2016 12:27 pm | By

So it turns out that if you give people the opportunity to opt out of a religion they were “born” into, they take it.

Norway’s state chuch lost more than 15,000 followers in four days after launching an online registration system allowing people to opt in or out.

The Lutheran Church is the country’s largest, with nearly three-quarters of the population registered as members.

Nearly three-quarters of the population – in highly secular Norway. How could that statistic not be an artifact of churchy overcounting?

But officials revealed that many instead used the new process to do the opposite, with 10,854 people de-enrolling from the church in the 24 hours after the launch of the website on 15 August. A total of 15,053 left within four days.

The leading Bishop of the Norwegian churches, Helga Haugland Byfuglien, said: “We were prepared for a significant number of resignations and have great respect for the individual’s choice.

“These signals we take seriously. Our task will be to pass on the Christian message and to convey the important role the church can have in people’s lives.”

Sure, it can. But “important role” doesn’t necessarily mean “in a good way.” Churches can have important roles in people’s lives by making them miserable or by suppressing all their hopes and ambitions and making them feel like inferior beings. There’s that, and there’s also the fact that other institutions and ways of thinking and being can also have important roles in people’s lives – and usually without the coercive aspects of religious institutions. Secular groups and outlooks have the advantage of not claiming to have an all-powerful supernatural being running the show.

“No girls attending our school are allowed to study and get a degree”

Aug 23rd, 2016 6:01 am | By

God hates women who get higher education.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish rabbis have banned women from going to university, The Independent has learned.

The strict Satmar sect issued the decree, seen by The Independent, warning that university education for women is “dangerous”. Written in Yiddish, the decree warns: “It has lately become the new trend that girls and married women are pursuing degrees in special education. Some attend classes and others online. And so we’d like to let their parents know that it is against the Torah.

“We will be very strict about this. No girls attending our school are allowed to study and get a degree. It is dangerous. Girls who will not abide will be forced to leave our school. Also, we will not give any jobs or teaching position in the school to girls who’ve been to college or have a degree.”

Dangerous for girls but not for boys? Why? Presumably because it would threaten the goddy arrangement by which men are the bosses and women are their inferiors who are required to obey and shut up about it – but the Indy doesn’t quote that part so maybe it’s not there. But that certainly is the implication. You can’t have a rule of that kind independent of the hierarchical implications. You could imagine an alternative world in which only inferiors have to get higher education, and superiors are free to skip it – but that’s not this world. In this world, forbidding Xs to get an education both says that Xs are inferior and does its best to make Xs inferior. It’s a relic, that way of thinking, an evil destructive relic.

Also, notice that they employ teachers who have no higher education – that they rule out teachers who do have higher education if those teachers are women. They insist on ignorant teachers to teach the girls (because obviously the only reason they have female teachers at all is to teach those worthless creatures, the girls). Girls can’t go to university, and they can’t even have university-taught teachers. Wham bam.

The decree was issued from the sect’s base in New York and will apply to followers of the faith group around the world.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews follow a pre-enlightenment interpretation of traditional Judaism and discourage interaction with the modern or secular world.

“There are probably other factors at play, but, ultimately, the results are devastating. Because people from similar communities are not provided with a foundational primary education, they cannot pursue higher education nor careers. When one does not have access to education, career opportunities are out of reach. It forces one to stay within the community as everyone’s personal lives are tied up with their professional lives as well.”

Like the Amish. Amish parents (fathers, that is) are allowed to pull their children out of school at 14 (cf Yoder v Wisconsin, one of the worst Supreme Court rulings in recent history), and the Amish are notoriously forced to stay within “the community.”

Dr Jonathan Romain, Rabbi of Maidenhead Synagogue and chair of the Accord Coalition which links religious and secular groups to promote inclusive education, told The Independent: “There is much to admired about the ultra-Orthodox, including the Satmar group, who are a very law-abiding community. However, their choice to separate themselves from much of the world around them is not a view shared by many other Jews, who see no problem with being both rooted in Jewish identity and integrated into wider society.

“Going to university is an experience to be valued, for both men and women, whom we regard as fully equal and who should have the same opportunities in education and the workplace. Limiting such abilities is a cause for regret.”

Or to put it another way, it’s a disgusting violation of human rights.

Ada just meant “Hello mate”

Aug 22nd, 2016 5:36 pm | By

Edinburgh SA is in the news again.

EUSA’s controversial LGBT+ officer Ada Wells is in hot water once again, after tweeting: “I sure hope more police die today”.

Ada, whose Twitter account has been private after a variety of controversies saw them in the public eye, followed the tweet with the hashtag #acab – an anti-police acronym standing for ‘all coppers are bastards’.


Ada said it again a week later.

Ada, whose full title is EUSA’s LGBT+ Liberation Group Convenor, has previously been extremely outspoken on LGBT+ matters.  Ada, who is trans and prefers to be called ‘they’, labelled women with vaginas as ‘cuntscum’, a remark that shocked members of the LGBT+ community in Edinburgh, the very people Ada is supposed to represent.

But “cunt” is not misogynist in the UK, we’re always told.

Ada has also called women who refuse to have sex with a penis transphobes, and has advocated for them to be expelled from the University of Edinburgh.

At last year’s student council meeting on whether to force EUSA to back a boycott, divestment, and sanctions policy over Israel-Palestine, Ada tried to get Imogen Wilson, one of the sabbatical officers at the time, thrown out of the meeting, for shaking her head.

Kids today, eh?

All the while insisting we call them “feminist”

Aug 22nd, 2016 4:28 pm | By

Meghan Murphy is amused by people who insist that Kim Kardashian really is a feminist even though she says she isn’t.

At this point, it’s basically illegal for celebrities not to call themselves feminist, even if they really hate feminism, so naturally dozens of hot takes were published over the past week explaining that actually Kim, you are feminist even if you say you aren’t and even if you think the idea of “women’s liberation” is totally ick.

Through said hot takes I’ve deduced that Kim understands why people might assume she is a feminist, writing, “I work hard, I make my own money, I’m comfortable and confident in my own skin, and I encourage women to be open and honest about their sexuality, and to embrace their beauty and their bodies.”

Well now slow down there, Kim – you don’t really mean you encourage women to embrace their beauty and their bodies – not women as such, women in general, women as in all women – you mean the ones who are in fact beautiful. You don’t want ugly women cluttering up the place embracing their bodies.

This is actually unintentionally pointed. The reason internet feminism is so insistent that Kim K is a feminist just like themmmm is because they have chipped away everything political and radical about feminism in order to turn it into merely a label someone can choose to wear. (I mean, how hard is it to just put on a t-shirt! Guys! Guys. Please just put on this t-shirt? You can wipe your jizzy hand on it after you’re done watching Latina Teen Gangbang IV!) We needn’t care about patriarchy and other systems of power that marginalize women, we must simply like sex (especially with men!) and we must feel “confident in [our] own skin” and “embrace our bodies”  in patriarchily-approved ways like by posting selfies of our objectified asses on the internet.

If we’re beautiful enough. Don’t go doing that shit if you’re ugly!

But more to the point, as Meghan says: that’s not what feminism is about. Nor is it about everyone.

Tellingly, what really pissed off America’s liberal feminists is Kim’s definition of feminism. She writes:

“For me, a feminist is someone who advocates for the civil and social rights and liberties of all people, regardless of their gender; anyone who believes that women should have the same choices and opportunities as men when it comes to education and employment, their bodies and their lifestyles.”

She goes on to say:

“It’s not about he, she, gay, straight, black, white. The fight for equality is about all human beings being treated equally — regardless of gender, sexuality or ethnicity.”

Ha no. The fight for equality is about that, sure, but feminism is not, and feminism is no more about equality for evrybuddy than Black Lives Matter is about all lives mattering. As Meghan says, if feminism were about evrybuddy, why would it be called feminism?

A writer at fbomb points out that “the feminist label” has been “stigmatized” for years (and that Kim’s not helping by distancing herself from it). While this is true, the solution adopted by celebrities, mainstream media, and liberal feminists has been to depoliticize the word and water down the message rather than to actually be brave, and stand up for women regardless of that “stigma.” I mean, feminists are hated for a reason — and that reason is our message and our fight. The solution to opposition is not to cave and to cater to patriarchal, capitalist ideologies, selling our message in a way that placates our enemies — it’s to push back.

Quite. Feminism isn’t “being nicer to people” or “loving your body” or “empowerment through selfies.” It isn’t universally popular, and being universally popular isn’t its goal.

While Marcie Bianco at Quartz claims Kardashian is contradicting herself by saying she supports “women’s rights,” “equality,” and “women’s empowerment” but isn’t a feminist, she’s not. She knows full-well that she doesn’t want to be part of the feminist movement and she doesn’t support it’s goals. To her, “empowering women” just means she supports women’s right to, like, make money and get naked. She wants women to be free to do stuff (All sorts of stuff!), but doesn’t actually want to name or address the reasons why women are treated differently in this world and are dehumanized on the regular. Kim’s just being honest with herself and with the world, which is more than I can say for most of our liberal overlords who push sexual harassment and porn culture as “empowerment,” all the while insisting we call them “feminist.”

Kim’s a Kimmist. Let her go.

Choudary’s connections

Aug 22nd, 2016 3:59 pm | By

Well at least it’s clear that Anjem Choudary was in no sense a joke. The Daily Express reports that Scotland Yard wanted to arrest him for years but MI5 said no.

Counter terror officers believed they had enough evidence to build a case against the radical Islamic State sympathiser but were reportedly blocked from doing so because he was a vital part of MI5’s ongoing investigation.

Serious questions were raised as to why Choudary was allowed to continue spreading his Islamist poison across Britain for more than 20 years, but now a counter terror source has said MI5 were responsible.

Following his conviction of inviting support for ISIS it emerged Choudary was involved in at least 15 terror plots dating back as far as 2001.

Police also believe he has connections to around 500 of the 850 young British Muslims who have left the country to join-up with ISIS jihadis.

You can see how he would be a useful source of information, but you can also see how he was, not to put too fine a point on it, dangerous.

Raffaello Pantucci, a terrorism expert at the Royal United Services Institute, said: “Intelligence officers have to generate leads somewhere, so if you have got a kind of honeypot that is Anjem Choudary and every nutter in the UK is gravitating towards him and from there you just trail them and follow them, you can see how it’s doing your job for you in some ways.

“There is undoubtedly an element of security folk who work in the intelligence side who would probably see this as something that is potentially quite useful.”

Well yeah.

I’m seeing headlines saying he’ll be in solitary when he is banged up, so that he won’t be able to share his wisdom with the other prisoners.

4, 4, 7, 7, 9, 9, 10, 11, 11, 11…

Aug 22nd, 2016 9:54 am | By

Another one. Deutsche Welle reports:

Turkish President Erdogan has said the suicide bomber who attacked a wedding party in southeastern Turkey was a child as young as 12 years old. More than 50 people were killed in the blast – Turkey’s deadliest this year.

Nearly half of the victims were children too.

The explosion happened among people who were dancing at the wedding party.

The BBC:

One woman lost four children in the attack, the Haberturk newspaper reported. Emine Arhan told the title “if it wasn’t for my only surviving child, I would have killed myself”.

Another victim was a nine-year-old girl who had stayed on at the party to see the bride after her parents had left, according to the Vatan newspaper.

A disproportionately large number of women and children were killed in the attack because it targeted henna night, a part of the celebration attended mainly by women and children, says BBC Monitoring’s Turkey analyst Pinar Sevinclidir.

Officials gave no details of the victims, but in a tweet, New York Times reporter Ceylan Yeginsu listed the ages of those identified so far.

Tweet by Ceylan Yeginsu

Like getting chewed

Aug 21st, 2016 5:32 pm | By

Amanda Hess at Slate on Elizabeth Smart three years ago:

When Smart spoke at a Johns Hopkins University panel last week, she explained one of the factors deterring her from escaping her attacker: She felt so worthless after being raped that she felt unfit to return to her society, which had communicated some hard and fast rules about premarital sexual contact.

“I remember in school one time, I had a teacher who was talking about abstinence,” Smart told the panel. “And she said, ‘Imagine you’re a stick of gum. When you engage in sex, that’s like getting chewed. And if you do that lots of times, you’re going to become an old piece of gum, and who is going to want you after that?’ Well, that’s terrible. No one should ever say that. But for me, I thought, ‘I’m that chewed-up piece of gum.’ Nobody re-chews a piece of gum. You throw it away. And that’s how easy it is to feel you no longer have worth. Your life no longer has value.”

Why escape if people are going to think you’re just a dirty used rag?

As Jessica Valenti points out, the chewing gum analogy is a typical tactic employed by abstinence-only advocates to try to scare teenagers away from having sex. And while stunts like those are often delivered to coed groups, the messaging falls harder on girls: If one person is the gum, the other person chews.

Girls are the receptacle; the receptacle is what gets dirty. Girls are basically toilets. Boys get cleaner by having sex, and girls get dirtier.

As Smart’s story shows, administering broad sexual shaming to children can have disastrous effects for victims of assault. The same goes for all of the other “tips” that put the onus on the victim to prevent rape. When we instruct teenagers to dress modestly, abstain from alcohol, never go out alone, and certainly never engage in sex, we’re not actually helping them prevent rape—but we are telling them that when they are victimized, they are partially to blame. Sex educators can’t equip children to escape horrific crimes like the ones committed against Elizabeth Smart. But they can help build a society that refuses to compound the psychological effects of those crimes by shaming victims before the abductor even breaks in.

Let’s do that.


The g-word

Aug 21st, 2016 3:33 pm | By

How We Shun Now:

A public post about the naked Trump statue and whether it’s a good idea or not drew some comments.

There’s been an argument raging for years about what level of verbal anger or aggression or hostility or contempt is acceptable in internet discussions. There’s a lot of disagreement.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that calling people garbage is not acceptable. Calling people garbage over and over and over and over again is really not acceptable.

You’re a long way from whippets and sodomy

Aug 21st, 2016 2:52 pm | By

As a companion piece to the one about lesbian taco shells and queer consensual hot dog rolls:

Stop appropriating “Daddy”.

It’s like striking gold without even leaving the desk.

Take Daddy out of your straight vanilla discourse.

“Daddy” has deep fucking roots in places you have no fucking clue about.




Justin Bieber will never be “Daddy AF”. Get off Instagram.

Ain’t it great to live at this moment?

A new way to shout “witch”

Aug 21st, 2016 12:18 pm | By

Amanda Marcotte picks up on a new and, of course, revolting theme in Trump’s campaign: the evil of ambitious white women who neglect to have ten children and thus hand the world over to the teeming Hordes of Color.

Donald Trump has a new obsession: comparing Hillary Clinton to Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany. During a Monday speech, Trump denounced the “massive immigration” to Germany under Merkel, for which he blames crime rising “to levels that no one thought would they would ever see.” He followed up this speech with press releases and a hashtag aimed at equating Clinton and Merkel.

The choice is an odd one on its surface because most Americans don’t have an opinion about Merkel, even when they know who she is. But as Alice Ollstein of Think Progress persuasively argued on Wednesday, the meme makes more sense when one considers that white supremacists definitely know who Merkel is, because they hate her:

To white nationalist communities that fervently support Trump, Merkel has been a popular villain. Sites like the Daily Stormer, the White Genocide Project, American Renaissance, and The White Resister have posted constantly about her since the Syrian refugee crisis began escalating earlier this year. They have accused her of making a “deliberate attempt to turn Germany from a majority White country into a minority White country.” They have called her a “crazy childless bitch,” an “anti-White traitor,” and “a patron saint of terrorists.” They have asked, in articles about Merkel, “Why would you allow a woman to run a country, unless you were doing it as a joke?”

So I guess Trump’s people, browsing through these wholesome materials, suggested the Merkel-Clinton theme by way of responsibly terrifying all the racist men out there. Seems legit.

If blatant white supremacy is not acceptable in mainstream conservative circles, opposition to feminism is completely standard on the right. By mainstreaming this “white genocide” hysteria in terms that focus less on immigration and more on attacking “Western” women for having too much ambition and too few children, these arguments have made their way into respectable conservative circles.

“A new genre of declinist literature, ranging from anxious to apocalyptic, has appeared to warn of the coming population implosion and the loss of Europe to more fertile, faithful Muslims,” Michelle Goldberg wrote in her 2010 book “The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World.” She cites Mark Steyn’s “America Alone” and Pat Buchanan’s “The Death of the West” as books that raise the alarm about “Westerners” and their supposedly low birth rates. Both books focus heavily on blaming women for this purported decline.

Well they have to blame women, don’t they. Men can’t have the babies! Plus women are such selfish bitches anyway.

It’s impossible to know what Trump is thinking, but the campaign’s clear cooperation in putting out this message through press releases and tweets suggests this “Clinton=Merkel” narrative is very intentional. As ambitious women who haven’t had many children — Merkel has none and Clinton only has one — they make easy villains for those who fret about “white genocide” or “demographic winter.”

Trump is as usual playing with fire here. But the wider conservative movement shares the blame. For years now, mainstream conservatives, including Romney, have been elevating this theory that feminism is undermining the republic by discouraging breeding.

Women are also to blame for global warming, because we use too much electricity washing all those diapers.