Notes and Comment Blog

La plume de mon spuncle

Oct 4th, 2016 4:43 pm | By

There’s a thing called The 519 Church Street Community Centre which has Queer Parenting Programs. There is, naturally, a guide to language. To inclusive language, that is. The kind that includes everyone by carefully avoiding words like woman and sister.

Pregnancy and Birth

Pregnant person

Person who gives or gave birth / Birthing Parent

Pregnancy Leave (vs Maternity Leave)

Parental Leave (vs Paternity Leave)

Carrier Mortality (vs Maternal Mortality)

Carrier mortality. You have to pause to savor that one. They be “inclusive” by hiding the fact that it’s women who die in childbirth. Carrier mortality. Women might as well be incubators.

But eventually it gets funny.


Sparkle (an older beloved one, e.g. vs Auntie or Uncle)

Sparkling (a younger beloved one)

Spuncle (a known sperm donor in the child’s life: sperm + uncle)

Spauntie (female-identified partner of a Spuncle)

Grand Spuncle / Grand Sparkle (parent/s of the Spuncle)

Spuncle. Spuncle. Spuncle.

The last great days

Oct 4th, 2016 10:57 am | By

Bill McKibben says it’s worse than we thought just last week or so.

Scientists say that to have even a two-thirds chance of staying below a global increase of two degrees Celsius, we can release 800 gigatons more CO2 into the atmosphere. But the Rystad data shows coal mines and oil and gas wells currently in operation worldwide contain 942 gigatons worth of CO2. So the math problem is simple, and it goes like this:

942 > 800

“What we found is that if you burn up all the carbon that’s in the currently operating fields and mines, you’re already above two degrees,” says Stephen Kretzmann, OCI’s executive director.

And two degrees is no longer the red line anyway.

Two degrees Celsius used to be the red line. But scientists now believe the upper limit is much lower. We’ve already raised the world’s temperature by one degree—enough to melt almost half the ice in the Arctic, kill off huge swaths of the world’s coral, and unleash lethal floods and drought. July and August tied for the hottest months ever recorded on our planet, and scientists think they were almost certainly the hottest in the history of human civilization.

In some places it approached too hot for humans to survive.

So last year, when the world’s leaders met in Paris, they set a new number: Every effort, they said, would be made to keep the global temperature rise to less than 1.5 degrees. And to have even a 50–50 chance of meeting that goal, we can only release about 353 gigatons more CO2. So let’s do the math again:

942 > 353

A lot greater. To have just a break-even chance of meeting that 1.5 degree goal we solemnly set in Paris, we’ll need to close all of the coal mines and some of the oil and gas fields we’re currently operating long before they’re exhausted.

And…it won’t happen.

Oligarchy in America

Oct 4th, 2016 9:57 am | By

Jane Mayer wrote in the New Yorker yesterday about Trump the oligarch.

Now, with the Times reporting that congressionally crafted loopholes for real-estate magnates could have enabled Trump to legally evade all income taxes for eighteen years, while earning as much as fifty million dollars a year, we have a perfect example of how oligarchic interests have made inroads in the United States. The question now is whether the American public favors this trend.

One definition of an oligarch, according to the Northwestern University political scientist Jeffrey A. Winters, the author of “Oligarchy,” is an individual with enough money to employ the protection of what he calls the “wealth defense industry.” Oligarchs worldwide face threats of different kinds, but in the U.S. the greatest threat is from redistribution—which is achieved by the state imposing progressive income taxes. So the “wealth defense industry” in America—sophisticated accountants, consultants, lawyers, lobbyists, and think-tank apologists—is uniquely focussed on carving out tax loopholes for its rich clients.

Result: the 1%.

The defense of tax avoidance by Trump and his surrogates may be a particularly hard sell in light of his relentless trash-talking of America’s roads, airports, schools, military, and other publicly financed projects. “Our country’s becoming a Third World country!” Trump reiterated at a rally in Manheim, Pennsylvania, on Saturday night. If so, voters might fairly say, as Hillary Clinton did at last week’s debate, “Maybe because you haven’t paid any federal income tax for a lot of years.”

During that debate, Trump’s best line of attack was to hit Clinton for having been involved in politics for thirty years while so many problems have festered. But the same point could be made about him. For decades, Trump has been part of the private sector that has used its wealth and power to carve out tax loopholes for its own self-interest. This may be acceptable in Russia, and other oligarchic parts of the world, but whether it’s O.K. in America, too, is now on the ballot next month.

Among other things.

But no, they talk, they give interviews

Oct 4th, 2016 9:08 am | By

The Columbia Journalism Review interviewed Claudio Gatti yesterday.

What’s your response to those who say she’s entitled to her privacy? That she’s not a mafia boss or politician, but just a writer of fiction?

No, she’s not. But she’s a major public figure. Do you know who the Italian minister of the economy is?


Do you know who the CEO of the Italian oil company is?


But you do know who Elena Ferrante is. What I’m saying is, the biggest mystery about Italy from outside Italy is, “Who is Elena Ferrante?” It is a major issue, not that I made it such. When readers buy books by the millions, they have a legitimate desire to know more about who wrote the book. I’m not saying that; Sandra Ozzola said and wrote that.

Point comprehensively missed. The issue about politicians and CEOs and mafia bosses isn’t whether or not we know who they are without looking it up, it’s the power they have. They have real, material power; novelists don’t. That’s the relevant difference when it comes to the right to remain anonymous.

It doesn’t matter how big the mystery is. The size of a mystery doesn’t determine our right to know its solution.

There’s the already-notorious Trump-impersonation:

Do you have any regrets about doing this story?

Absolutely not. None whatsoever. All the people that hate me for what I wrote are bad people, and I don’t mind the fact that they hate me.

The likeness is uncanny.

What about her personal preference to remain private? 

It is her personal preference; we know that. But then if it is, you don’t fuel the frenzy with Frantumaglia, you just say “I’m sorry, I’m not giving interviews.” But no, they talk, they give interviews, they write a fictional autobiographical book, and then they say, “I want to keep my privacy.”

Right, and if you don’t want to be raped, you stay home with the doors locked. You don’t fuel the frenzy by going out, you just stay inside with the curtains closed. But no, they go out, they walk around, they talk and laugh, and then they say, “I don’t want to have sex with you.”

Explain to me how knowing that Elena Ferrante is Anita Raja would change anything for readers. I really don’t get it. Why would it change anything? People read the books because they are fascinated by them. I don’t see what argument she could have to claim that she needed to be out of the public eye to write fiction. She had no reason to hide anything. I’ve proven that there is no autobiographical information in any of her books. How can the ability of Ferrante to capture the inner lives of women in any way require her to be shielded from the public sphere?

It doesn’t matter. It’s not for Gatti or any of us to decide that for her. It’s not our decision to make. There is no law or rule against writing books anonymously, and it is just bullying to out people against their clearly stated wishes. Gatti does not get to substitute his judgment for hers on a question of her right to be anonymous.

“Newsworthy” is not a justification

Oct 4th, 2016 8:24 am | By

Emily Nussbaum tweeted

A wise and balanced Ferrante-take corrective by @NoreenMalone, which I agree with 95%:

and linked to Malone’s article, Elena Ferrante’s ‘Unmasking’ Wasn’t the End of the World.

Sigh. Yeah great, but nobody said it was the end of the world. Why do we have to be “balanced” about everything anyway? Why is “balance” necessary in this case? Why can’t we say authors have a right to be anonymous if they want to, and journalists have no duty or responsibility or obligation whatsoever to strip them of that right and that anonymity, and that it’s that much more ugly and domineering when it’s a man stripping a woman? Why is it “unbalanced” to say that?

Malone’s piece is annoyingly dismissive.

Gatti’s logic here is not exactly airtight, and does have an unfortunate whiff of “she was asking for it.” But Ferrante’s true biography had long been an object of interest in newspapers and magazines…Despite her anonymity, Ferrante has given plenty of interviews,especially recently. If the pseudonym allowed us to encounter her work in a specific way initially, the status of the work has changed in the last several years: Enormous success comes with burdens as well as benefits, but it certainly makes her identity more newsworthy than it was when she first started writing under a pseudonym.

What the hell does “newsworthy” mean? Other than “people are interested in it”? People are interested in lots of things that they have no right to know more about. Again: having a desire does not create a right to have that desire satisfied. I realize that’s a terribly “unbalanced” claim, but I’m sticking to it. Curiosity about other people is all but universal, but that doesn’t translate to some universal duty to make everything public. It doesn’t matter that Ferrante’s identity was “newsworthy”; it was still hers to keep to herself if she chose.

According to the current conventional wisdom, the exposé was a kind of emotional violence, both against the writer and the readers; further, goes this thinking, there is a particular roughness inherent to a male reporter unmasking a female author who has asked for privacy. The New Yorker’s Twitter account uses the language of consent: “In his apparent unmasking of Ferrante — the journalist does not explain why he felt free to take her ‘no’ as his ‘yes.’” As does Charlotte Shane, a writer and co-founder of TigerBee Press, who tweeted, “Leave it to a goddamn man to decide that the tremendous gift that is Elena Ferrante’s writing needs to repaid with senseless violation.” In The Guardian, Suzanne Moore writes that “those who love Ferrante’s work are appalled, partly of course because she writes so well about the ways in which men humiliate women.”

How is that “the conventional wisdom”? Yes a lot of us thought it and said it, but that doesn’t make it the conventional wisdom. I’m not sure it’s particularly “balanced” of Malone to call it that.

It is true that, thanks to the searing portrait of male cruelty her novels paint, the mere mention of Ferrante’s name might get many of us in the mood to discuss a generalized terribleness of men. And yet this all seems to me both an almost-insulting underestimation of the fortitude of the author, and a severe overestimation of the harm that might be done by connecting universally praised work to its actual creator.

That’s not your decision to make. It’s not ours. It certainly isn’t Claudio Gatti’s. It’s not anyone’s but Ferrante’s. “Consent,” anyone? I don’t find Malone’s callous dismissal the least bit “balanced”; I think it’s quite warped.

They broke my mic

Oct 3rd, 2016 6:12 pm | By

Alec Baldwin does Trump on Saturday Night Live.


Gatti thinks he knows better

Oct 3rd, 2016 5:40 pm | By

Deborah Orr has a blistering piece on the privacy-stripping of Elsa Ferrante. Orr is a massive fan of Ferrante’s work, has interviewed her, and is a contributor to “the new edition of Frantumaglia, a collection of writings by and about Ferrante that particularly seems to irk Gatti.”

But here’s the thing. I do not give a stuff who Ferrante “really” is. If I have a right to know, as Gatti argues, I don’t wish to exercise it. Gatti, as far as I’m concerned, has violated my right not to know, while Ferrante protected it. I was more than willing to play my small part in giving this writer the space she needed to write as she does, and gratefully accept my reward – her books and the pleasure they give to me. I abhor the fact that this man, and those who published his speculations, rode roughshod over that perfectly satisfactory contract between writer and reader.

And the writer’s stated wishes over more than two decades, with zero public interest reason to do so.

[S]uccessful women are still expected to account for their ability to balance work and home. A female foreign correspondent will be expected to account for the fact that she has to leave her children behind. A female prime minister will still face insinuations that she hasn’t fully experienced life as a woman’s life should be experienced, because she hasn’t had children. This is the way in which Gatti thinks Ferrante should be held to account – checked over, to see if her creative life is a suitable match to her domestic life. Successful women can’t “have it all”, goes the mantra. We must be allowed to inspect this woman, to ensure that she hasn’t managed it. With men like Gatti in the world, it’s perfectly understandable that a person might want to avoid all that nasty, sinister scrutiny.

Damn right. We don’t want men like him in our faces, and hiding is one way to avoid them.

Gatti thinks he knows better than the people who know and care for the individual that Ferrante inhabits. I very much doubt that he does. The future impact that his intervention could have on Ferrante’s creativity appears not to have figured in his calculations. That’s how much he really cares about Ferrante’s readers and their rights.

He cares about himself and his ability to tell an admired woman who’s in charge.

Listening to Gatti on Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday morning, as he attempted to justify his vast, self-righteous intrusion, I was struck by how strongly he seemed to feel that people should be punished for their success, that somehow, by failing to subject her private self to public scrutiny, Ferrante was pulling a fast one. (The truth, I imagine, is more likely to be that he wants what she’s got, and can’t see why she should eschew the personal inconveniences that he would gladly embrace in her shoes.)

Gatti now seems to find it unfair that a woman may have chosen to write herself out of her own writing, largely, one suspects, because such self-effacement is alien to him. I daresay he would not be able to comprehend the stitching of a patchwork quilt, just for the sake of making beauty. If you want to work, achieve money and acclaim, then play by our rules. That seems to be Gatti’s horrible message. Ferrante’s writing is suffused with explorations of how aggressive and damaging to women such attitudes are. No wonder he wants to damage her back.

No doubt Ferrante didn’t actually want men telling her what she should really be writing about, as Gatti presumes to. Why would anyone want to be told that they were doing something bad and disrespectful by failing to write about their mother and her family? The obligation to write about and talk about her own family, and be defined at least in part by a terrible past, seems to me like something else that Ferrante would have wanted to free herself from. Gatti, however, has exercised his own perceived right to put Ferrante back where he can keep an eye on her. It is a terrible and ghastly violation.

It only makes me more furious as the day goes on. We just can’t be allowed to get on with doing our work in our own way.

Random man decides what rights Elena Ferrante can have

Oct 3rd, 2016 5:00 pm | By

The LA Times on the assault on Elena Ferrante’s privacy.

Ferrante had closely guarded her secret. The author specifically said — in her rare interviews — that she treasured her anonymity.

And that should be her right. Authors don’t have to tell us anything about themselves. Not one thing.

Gatti’s article was met with outrage by many in the literary community, including Roxane Gay, Ruth Franklin, Philip Gourevitch and Pamela Paul, decrying the journalist’s exposure of Ferrante’s true identity.

Rob Spillman, the editor and cofounder of the literary magazine Tin House, called Gatti’s report “immoral” and “unethical” and suggested that readers consider canceling their subscriptions to the New York Review of Books.

It is highly immoral and unethical and the NYRB should never have published it. Doing so is a punch in the face to all their writers, and to their readers too.

Gatti defended his report to the Guardian, asserting that “she and her publisher seemed not only to have fed public interest in her true identity but to have challenged critics and journalists to go behind the lies. She told us that she finds them ‘healthy.’ As a journalist, I don’t. In fact, it is my job to expose them.”

No it is not, you self-righteous shit. It is not your job to strip away the anonymity of people who want to be anonymous unless they are using that anonymity to do harm.

Gatti told the Guardian, “I believe that by announcing that she would lie on her own ‘autobiographical’ essay, Ferrante has in a way relinquished her right to disappear behind her books and let them live and grow while their author remained unknown.”

Spoken like a rapist. Spoken like a man who thinks he has the right to ignore the stated, explicit, fervent wishes of a woman who writes novels, and strip off her pseudonym as he would strip off her clothes before raping her.

The notion that Ferrante and her work are public property

Oct 3rd, 2016 12:29 pm | By

Stig Abell at the TLS on why the TLS wouldn’t have named Elena Ferrante:

His piece bears all the hallmarks – the signs, the stretch marks – of his effortful need to explain away what on the surface might seem a needless intrusion into a fellow writer’s privacy. He wants us to be convinced of the notion that Ferrante and her work are public property: the books are a “sensational success”; despite her anonymity, she has become an “oddly public figure” (a description where “oddly” can reasonably be translated as “not a”); she wrote a book arrogantly “purporting in part to outline her family background”, offering “crumbs of information designed to satisfy her readers’ appetite for a personal story”; her identity will “assist us in gaining insight into her novels”; and so on.

She was asking for it; she was dressed like a slut; she’s a prude who needs loosening up; she should have stayed home; she loved it; she’s a bitch.

I am the editor of the Times Literary Supplement, one of very few titles that is analogous to the New York Review of Books. So it is reasonable to ask: if Gatti had come to the TLS, would we have published him?

The answer, I believe, is no.  We would have been tempted, of course. A solution to a genuine literary conundrum does not arise often. It would make people talk about the TLSand bring them to our website. Of course it would.

But I write this surrounded by people who have devoted their lives to the world of books and authors, because they believe it is worthwhile and civilized. We would have discussed the piece, and I think we would have asked: what good does this do Elena Ferrante; what good does this do the TLS; what good does this do the world at large?  The answer is, resoundingly, too little on all counts.

Or even more simply they could have discussed the piece and observed that Ferrante clearly does not want to be outed and allowed that to settle the matter.

I, too, would have been uneasy about the gender politics of all this.  Ferrante has talked about “male power, whether violently or delicately imposed, still bent on subordinating us”, and – while I am sure this was neither the motivation of Gatti or the NYRB – there is the regrettable, sulphurous whiff of a female artist being “mansplained” here.  We may never know all of the reasons for Ferrante’s desired anonymity, but it is dangerous to assume they are simple and straightforward.

I wonder how he’s sure this was the motivation of neither Gatti nor the NYRB. I’m certainly not sure of that – in fact I think it was Gatti’s motivation at least. (The NYRB can’t really have a motivation, being a periodical, not a person.) I think it was part of Gatti’s motivation and I think it’s way more than a whiff. A man deliberately brushing aside a woman’s long and often stated determination to remain anonymous? More than a whiff, and more than mansplaining, too. Stripping in public, at the very least.

Oh well, it’s only a woman.

It must provide certain documents

Oct 3rd, 2016 12:07 pm | By

The Times has more on Trump’s little difference of opinion with the New York state AG.

Mr. Trump’s foundation has come under increasing scrutiny amid questions about his fulfillment of large charitable pledges and his lack of financial support in recent years.

The foundation’s compliance with the rules that govern nonprofit groups has also been a concern. The New York Times reported last month that Mr. Trump’s foundation does not show up on the charity registers in many states and The Washington Post subsequently reported that the foundation did not have the certification necessary to solicit money in New York.

Well he’s a very busy man. Very busy. So many women to insult, so many contractors to cheat, so many lies to tell. I’m sure he simply overlooked the certification thingy.

Mr. Schneiderman’s office is investigating Mr. Trump’s foundation to determine if it is in compliance with state laws, including how it spends its money.

In the letter, his office provided notice to Mr. Trump’s foundation that within 15 days it must provide certain documents required to be filed by organizations that solicit contributions, including audited financial statements and annual financial reports. It also must file any “delinquent reports” for past years within that time frame.

Uhhh oh. 15 days to file reports for past years? That sounds like a tall order. But maybe he has them on file and just forgot to send them year after year?

Or could it be that the reason he never registered is because he didn’t want to be audited and that’s because…

Oh no surely not.

As though yet another man had stripped a woman naked

Oct 3rd, 2016 11:17 am | By

Bina Shah just posted a brilliant piece on the outing of Elsa Ferrante. She discovered the novels this summer and was smitten.

“Reading” doesn’t describe what I did; “devoured” is the better word. I couldn’t put the novel down until I was at the last page, and then I immediately picked up the next one, like a chain smoker who wants the next cigarette before the first one is even finished (Here’s my Dawn article about the series, if you want to know more).

She didn’t care that she didn’t know Ferrante’s real identity, but other people did.

Particularly men, who claimed that perhaps the author was actually a man, because how could a woman write so well and so evocatively about violence, poverty, and politics?

Oh good god.

That’s why Mary Ann Evans wrote as George Eliot: so that she could write about big subject without men saying she was getting everything wrong.

Shah quotes Ferrante on her reasons for liking to be anonymous, and her threat to stop writing if anyone outed her, and cites her dismay on reading last night that an anyone had done just that.

To what end? Is she Donald Trump that her tax statements had to be searched out and leaked?

No she is not! Writers are not automatically public people, and they don’t owe it to anyone to be public. It’s none of our damn business.

Shah wonders if Gatti felt he’d struck a blow for truth.

It didn’t feel that way to me. To me, it felt as though yet another man had stripped a woman naked and paraded her around, the way they do in villages in rural Pakistan when an insult to a family or tribe or man’s honor has been perceived. The village elders decree that the only way to avenge that honor is to take a woman from the offending party or family, strip her, shave her head, and make her walk in front of everyone.

We’ll bring Ferrante down to size, is what it feels like.

Exactly. It does feel like a man publicly stripping a woman.

Trump’s fraud has caught up with him

Oct 3rd, 2016 11:00 am | By

A brief interlude in my fulminations at the outing of Ferrante – yes that’s going to be continuing for a bit – to share the breaking news that a judge has ordered Trump’s “foundation” to stop soliciting donations.

The New York attorney general has notified Donald Trump that his charitable foundation is violating state law — by soliciting donations without proper certification — and ordered Trump’s charity to stop its fundraising immediately, the attorney general’s office said Monday.

James Sheehan, head of the attorney general’s charities bureau, sent the “notice of violation” to the Donald J. Trump Foundation on Friday, according to a copy of the notice provided by the press office of state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D).

The night before that, The Washington Post reported that Trump’s charity had been soliciting donations from other people without being properly registered in New York state.

Now why would he fail to register his foundation? Hmm.

But the Trump Foundation never registered under article 7A of New York’s Executive Law, as is required for any charity soliciting more than $25,000 a year from the public. One important consequence: Trump’s foundation avoided rigorous outside audits, which New York law requires of larger charities that ask the public for money.

Ah. Maybe he didn’t want to be audited. I wonder why that might be.

Schneiderman ordered the Trump Foundation to supply the state, within 15 days, with all the legal paperwork required of charities that solicit money from the public.

In addition, Sheehan ordered that Trump’s foundation provide all the financial audit reports it should have provided in prior years, when it raised money without legal permission. He said that if Trump’s foundation did not stop its fundraising and file the proper paperwork, that would be considered “a continuing fraud upon the people of New York.”


She felt she had gained a space of her own

Oct 3rd, 2016 10:50 am | By

Ruth Spencer at the Guardian compiles a collection of observations by Elsa Ferrante on why she wants to be anonymous.

“The wish to remove oneself from all forms of social pressure or obligation. Not to feel tied down to what could become one’s public image. To concentrate exclusively and with complete freedom on writing and its strategies.” – The Guardian

“I’m still very interested in testifying against the self-promotion ­obsessively ­imposed by the media. This demand for self-promotion diminishes the ­actual work of art, whatever that art may be, and it has become universal. The media simply can’t discuss a work of literature without pointing to some writer-hero. And yet there is no work of literature that is not the fruit of tradition, of many skills, of a sort of collective intelligence. We wrongfully diminish this collective intelligence when we insist on there being a single protagonist ­behind every work of art. The individual person is, of course, necessary, but I’m not talking about the individual—I’m talking about a manufactured image.” Paris Review

“I simply decided once and for all, over 20 years ago, to liberate myself from the anxiety of notoriety and the urge to be a part of that circle of successful people, those who believe they have won who-knows-what. This was an important step for me. Today I feel, thanks to this decision, that I have gained a space of my own, a space that is free, where I feel active and present. To relinquish it would be very painful.” Vanity Fair

Over twenty years ago. It’s been working for her all that time, yet now a nosy guy and the male editor of the NYRB felt entitled to break it.

“More than 20 years ago I felt the burden of exposing myself in public. I wanted to detach myself from the finished story. I wanted the books to assert themselves without my patronage. This choice created a small polemic in the media, whose logic is aimed at inventing protagonists while ignoring the quality of the work, so that it seems natural that bad or mediocre books by someone who has a reputation in the media deserve more attention than books that might be of higher quality but were written by someone who is no one. But today, what counts most for me is to preserve a creative space that seems full of possibilities, including technical ones. The structural absence of the author affects the writing in a way that I’d like to continue to explore.” The New York Times

But Gatti and Silver said no, you can’t, we won’t let you.

“As far as I know, my readers do not despair at all. I receive letters of support for my little battle in favor of the centrality of the work. Evidently, for those who love literature, the books are enough.” Vanity Fair

Oh, readers, and the author – who cares what they think. Strip her naked!

She writes so well about the ways men humiliate women

Oct 3rd, 2016 10:20 am | By

Suzanne Moore is disgusted at the violation of Elena Ferrante’s privacy by a loathsome man and the NYRB.

It does not matter who she really is. She is not accountable to us in any way. Oh, but apparently she must be treated like a fraud or a criminal or dodgy celeb and stripped of her privacy …

An appalling, pompous private investigator claims to have found her through examining the financial and real estate records of a translator who lives in Rome. This literary doxxing by this self-appointed arbiter of “truth” is a nasty violation. Claudio Gatti has no right to unmask this author. His excuse is that because Ferrante had said she may “lie on occasion”, she has relinquished the right to disappear behind her books. He goes as far as to suggest that this woman’s husband writes her books. Who is this man with no grasp of literature, imagination or respect for privacy who says politicians should not lie and therefore he can do this to a bestselling author? He is just an idiotic bin rummager. And what is the New York Review of Books doing publishing this detritus?

What indeed? What were they thinking?

And why is it that men like Gatti (and like Trump) are so incapable of noticing how rapey it is to abuse women in this way?

Those who love Ferrante’s work are appalled, partly of course because she writes so well about the ways in which men humiliate women. “Male power, whether violently or delicately imposed, is still bent on subordinating us.” Indeed.

That. Exactly that. It’s infuriating.

We just think that this kind of journalism is disgusting

Oct 3rd, 2016 9:15 am | By

A woman novelist writes under a pseudonym. Her books sell. One of them is nominated for the Booker. So what has to happen next? A man has to rip away her pseudonymity, that’s what. The New York Review of Books, of all publications, has to help him do it by publishing his sleuthing work.

An Italian journalist who published the true identity of the “anonymous” author Elena Ferrante has said he did so because she is “a public figure”.

Claudio Gatti published a story in the New York Review of Books outing the author, who writes under a pseudonym, as Italian translator Anita Raja.

He said: “Millions of [Ferrante’s] books are bought by readers.

“In a way I think readers have the right to know something about the person who created the work.”

Bullshit. We may have the desire to know something about the writer, but a desire is not automatically a right. Just because we’re curious doesn’t mean we get to satisfy our curiosity, any more than Claudio Gatti’s throbbing erection would mean he gets to rape Elena Ferrante. His “justification” is just another “show us yer tits!”

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he added: “I did it because she was a very much public figure.”

Bullshit again. A pseudonymous novelist is not a public figure. Some kinds of public figure should not hide their identities: people in government, banking, lobbying, corporations, that sort of thing – people who have real power over us. But novelists? Please.

Ferrante’s biography on the [Man Booker] Prize’s website reads: “Elena Ferrante was born in Naples. This is all we know about her… [she] has stayed resolutely out of public view.”

And that is her business, and not ours.

Gatti said he was able to identify her by the significant payments that had been made to her by the company, which appeared proportionate to the success of Ferrante’s books.

On Sunday evening, Sandro Ferri, Ferrante’s publisher and one of the few people who is known to know her identity, criticised Mr Gatti’s story.

In an interview with The Guardian, Mr Ferri did not deny Mr Gatti had correctly identified the author.

“We just think that this kind of journalism is disgusting,” he said. “Searching in the wallet of a writer who has just decided not to be public.”

It is disgusting, and it’s especially disgusting when it’s a man doing it to a woman. It’s a very ugly power play, and it’s all too rapey.

Several high-profile authors have also spoken out against the decision to publish the author’s real name.

Jojo Moyes's tweet

JoJo Moyes, the author of Me Before You, was one of the writers to criticise the journalist in a series of tweets.

“Maybe Elena Ferrante has very good reasons to write under a pseudonym. It’s not our ‘right’ to know her,” Moyes tweeted.

Indeed it’s not.

Another writer who has spoken out is Bina Shah, who said what I was thinking:

Didn’t Elena Ferrante have the right to her anonymity? Another woman stripped naked, metaphorically, by a man.


Salman Rushdie said on Facebook that all writers should do the I am Spartacus thing. I am Elsa Ferrante.

Guest post: It’s back to reinforcing our mind-forged manacles

Oct 2nd, 2016 5:29 pm | By

Originally a comment by Seth on It means whatever you want it to mean, darling.

Shit like this makes me despair. I’ve spent most of my politically conscious life believing that the endgame of gender politics was removing the notion of gender entirely—breaking that all-too-human need to categorise things that’s resulted in certain behaviours being considered ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’. In my vision of society, it shouldn’t *matter* if some people who grow beards like to wear earrings and dress in pink and be in touch with their emotions (in fact all people should do more of the latter), and it shouldn’t *matter* that some people who lactate prefer to be firefighters or lumberjacks, and none of that should keep people from being assertive or self-confident or pursuing any skill or career that interests them. I always thought your plumbing should have about as much to do with your worth as a person as your eye and hair colour or your navel’s status as an innie or an outie.

But no; we live in a world now where well-meaning progressive people with beards and penises say they’re ‘femme’ if they’re sensitive and kind instead of being hyper-aggressive assholes, and where well-meaning progressive people with vaginas who don’t like pink or dresses or the thought of being homebody prom queens say they’re ‘transmasculine’. Instead of building a world where they can just be people, to live and die by their own auspices, we’re building a world where they’re—where we’re—all judged by the same old impossible standards that nobody’s ever been able to live up to.

It would be so much easier on everyone if we just broke the standards and let people express themselves however they wanted. But that’s not how our pattern-seeking brains work, I guess, so it’s back to reinforcing our mind-forged manacles.

Fascista Americano

Oct 2nd, 2016 5:23 pm | By

Latino Rebels reports:

Mexican Literary Magazine Just Published the Most Powerful Trump Cover Ever

Leave it to a Mexican literary magazine to boldly go where few media outlets in the United States have gone. Here is what Letras Libres 

tweeted on Wednesday night:

Every inch a fascist.

Gender sucks!

Oct 2nd, 2016 5:09 pm | By

Gender sucks!

I am an adult human female. I do not identify as cis. I am not cis. I am a woman trying to fight with every fibre of my being against everything that my “gender identity” tells me to be. Woman as defined by society is not my gender identity. My gender identity is fuck this oppressive bullshit, and let me be a human fucking being.

Unfaithful man sneers at woman married to unfaithful man

Oct 2nd, 2016 12:14 pm | By

Trump is still attacking Clinton because her husband fucked around without telling her, as if that were her fault.

Donald J. Trump suggested during a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday that Hillary Clinton was not “loyal” to her husband, former President Bill Clinton, an insinuation about their relationship that plunged the 2016 presidential race further into a personal battle.

Mr. Trump told the crowd in Lancaster County, about 70 miles west of Philadelphia, that Mrs. Clinton’s only loyalty was to her donors and herself. He added: “I don’t even think she’s loyal to Bill, you want to know the truth. And really, folks, really, why should she be, right?”

Trump fucked around on his first wife. No doubt he considers that her fault as opposed to his.

For Mr. Trump, who is trailing badly in polls with women, the new attack on Mrs. Clinton is a risky strategy. At the rally, he also repeated his criticism from the debate that Mrs. Clinton lacked the stamina to be president, a comment that many women viewed as sexist.

To make his point, he mocked her stumble at a memorial event on Sept. 11, when she left early with what her doctor described as a bout of pneumonia. He swooned back and forth at his lectern and then walked away from it, pretending to lurch forward.

“Here’s a woman, she’s supposed to fight all of these different things, and she can’t make it 15 feet to her car,” Mr. Trump said. “Give me a break.”

The Times includes a video clip of his mockery, which shows the contempt with which he said and did that. The man is a loathsome piece of scum.

Not the fun kind

Oct 2nd, 2016 11:30 am | By

After revisiting the nonsense of “femmes” and how much better they are than those horrible people called “women,” we need Meghan Murphy on our need to be braver.

We live in a time wherein basic feminist ideas have become unspeakable, while anti-feminist slurs and smears are widely accepted and even celebrated by those who claim to be social justice activists and progressives.

Regardless of the risks, I cannot, in good faith, support the neoliberal, individualistic notion of “gender identity”  — not as a feminist who understands how patriarchy came to be and continues to prevail or as a leftist who understands how systems of power work. I do not wish to be silent in the face of regressive and anti-feminist discourse, because I know that my silence does not help empower other women to speak out. I do not wish to abandon my sisters who have already suffered immensely for speaking out.

And another thing: it’s only getting worse.

As feminists, what we really are doing is working towards an end to gender — a thing that was invented and imposed in order to naturalize the sex class hierarchy that positions men as dominant and women as subordinate. One has to ask how progressive it is, from a feminist perspective, to accept the notion that gender is both real and innate — a thing that one can be born with, as this is precisely the tactic used historically by men to defend the idea that women should not be permitted to vote, work outside the home, or hold positions of power in society. Women were constructed as naturally “feminine,” which meant we were too emotional, irrational, and weak to engage in the public sphere as men did. Men, by contrast, were said to be more suited for public office and to hold positions of power as they were innately assertive, rational, unemotional, and tough.

Are we, as feminists (and as a society) really comfortable moving backwards in this way, by accepting gender roles (which exist only to naturalize and enforce sexism) as innate rather than socially constructed?

And then dressing them up as “femme” and pouring scorn on actual women for not being hip enough to “identify” as “femme” instead of just being a tedious boring afab woman.

It’s time to put our fear aside. Here is what I have learned about feminism (the real kind of feminism — not liberalism, not queer politics, not pro-capitalist rhetoric centered around personal feelings of “empowerment”): Regardless of what we do or say, as radical feminists, we are persecuted, smeared, and silenced. This happens because we stand up for women, hold men accountable, and criticize patriarchy unapologetically. We are called “SWERF,” “TERF,” “whorephobic,” “femmephobic,” “transphobic,” “anti-sex,” “moralistic prudes,” and so on, not because we are terrified of trans people, prostituted women, and sexuality, or because our politics are centered around “excluding” particular individuals (unless, of course, those individuals are anti-feminist — then yes, you will likely feel “excluded” by feminism), but because these terms and slurs effectively silence and exclude us. We are no-platformed and blackballed, discredited at any opportunity, to the point that others cannot associate with us, support us, or share any of our work (regardless of the content of said work), lest they too be tarred with the same brush.

Been there. Got the Tshirt.

You can call us whatever you like, because we know what you really mean: Feminist. Not the fun kind.

Anti-feminists are winning and will continue to win so long as we stay silent. They will continue to claim the identity of “feminist” while smearing and vilifying movement women. Leftist men will continue to proudly call us anti-feminist names and censor our work, comforted by the support and silence of these “queer activists,” “sex worker rights activists,” and liberal feminists — people who have shown themselves as traitors to women and whose politics consist of inventing new words to disguise male supremacy and violence against women. It’s up to us to speak out and to stand by our sisters, despite the repercussions.

Because by god nobody else will.