Notes and Comment Blog

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.

Women steal everything

Oct 2nd, 2016 10:49 am | By

Like a leopard going back to a rotting carcass, I’m going back to that “Roundtable” on what we mean when we talk about femme, even though I said yesterday I couldn’t stand any more of it. Maybe if I just limit myself to the parts where the awesome femmes throw shit at women, I can get through it.

In my experience, many cis women of all ages feel that my identity as a non-binary femme somehow invalidates theirs. Lots of people like to consider themselves radical without actually being able to make any space for people coming from a different place. My experience of femininity is linked to empathy and understanding that to be feminine is to be less safe in this world, so I understand the need to have spaces that are exclusionary out of respect for our right to protect and value ourselves. But there is a large community of feminists who are misleading in terms of how inclusive they’re actually willing to be.

But being “inclusive” isn’t the goal, nor should it be. Black Lives Matter isn’t required to be “inclusive” of white people in the sense of including them as Black. Feminism shouldn’t be required to be “inclusive” of people who aren’t women. Feminism is about women. We’re allowed to say that.

On the idea that an older generation of people think only women should claim the word femme: I’m afraid I don’t even get that argument, possibly because I’m not super smart but also possibly because that argument is bananas? Cis men are described as “butch,” so does that invalidate an entire self-identified group within lesbian history? No? They get to keep that one? It’s almost like the femme identity… is invisible. Sorry. No, kidding, but I think femme has always been relevant. I don’t think we’re reinventing or reclaiming the word, I just think it’s not been seen.

Right. Nobody saw anything until last week. Feminists never had a clue about any of this until people born after 1999 explained it to them.

The word femme, for myself specifically, is a departure from traditional femininity. I see femme as the rebellious teenage daughter of femininity. Femme is the process of taking the feminine words that were placed in my body, words like “soft, weak, quiet” and transforming them into: “wild, loud, confident.”

No, that would be “feminism” actually.

Femme invisibility is still very real, and extremely difficult to navigate. And I do think that a lot of it has to do less so with any sort of purposeful femme erasure in queer communities (although that is extremely prevalent), and much more to do with the fact that it’s an identity being co-opted by folks who aren’t queer. I think a lot of our discussions around femme invisibility in queer spaces center around masculinity, and those are valid and important discussions, but I’d love to see the conversation change and try to look at the ways our identities have been taken by straight (white) women who want cool points.

Bingo! Women fuck up everything. Cunts.

And that’s the last one – the “Roundtable” wasn’t as long as I thought.

After reading this I have even less idea than I did before why Sincere Kirabo thought it was a good idea for him to say that Women in Secularism is about women and femmes. Femmes appear to despise women, and reject all identification with them, so why would Women in Secularism be about women and femmes? It’s like saying Black Lives Matter is about black people and racists. It’s about saying that and calling it inclusive.

It never stops amazing me how willing and eager people are to treat women as an evil oppressor class.

Another fine bishop

Oct 2nd, 2016 9:53 am | By

It’s Trump’s world, and we have to live in it.

A GOP candidate for Kentucky’s state house was caught posting racist images of the Obamas — and his defense was that “Facebook’s entertaining.”

Dan Johnson, who is also the bishop of the Heart of Fire Church in Louisville, KY, posted and shared at least two photos of the Obamas portrayed as apes. A sign in front of his church reads: “Jesus and this church are not politically correct.”

Right. It’s “politically correct” to refrain from publishing photoshops of people as chimpanzees.

Johnson went on to insist that the offensive posts are the norm for presidents throughout history and, therefore, not racist.

“I looked this up. There has been no president that hasn’t had that scrutiny. Not one. I think it would be racist not to do the same for President Obama as we’ve done for every other president,” he said.

Oh yes, it would definitely be racist not to publish photoshops of the Obamas as chimpanzees.

Trump world.

He knew we could use the tax code to protect him

Oct 2nd, 2016 8:43 am | By

Somebody sent the NY Times three pages from Trump’s 1995 tax returns. You’ll want to go to the source, if you haven’t already, because it has all the documents and the extras.

Donald J. Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, records obtained by The New York Times show.

The 1995 tax records, never before disclosed, reveal the extraordinary tax benefits that Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, derived from the financial wreckage he left behind in the early 1990s through mismanagement of three Atlantic City casinos, his ill-fated foray into the airline business and his ill-timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.

Tax experts hired by The Times to analyze Mr. Trump’s 1995 records said that tax rules especially advantageous to wealthy filers would have allowed Mr. Trump to use his $916 million loss to cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income over an 18-year period.

So if you’re rich enough, you can take a big gamble (or three or five) and if it fails, you get to make tax payers pay for a chunk of it. Seems legit. Why wouldn’t tax payers want to fund casinos and luxury hotels?

“He has a vast benefit from his destruction” in the early 1990s, said one of the experts, Joel Rosenfeld, an assistant professor at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate. Mr. Rosenfeld offered this description of what he would advise a client who came to him with a tax return like Mr. Trump’s: “Do you realize you can create $916 million in income without paying a nickel in taxes?”

Mr. Trump declined to comment on the documents. Instead, the campaign released a statement that neither challenged nor confirmed the $916 million loss.

“Mr. Trump is a highly-skilled businessman who has a fiduciary responsibility to his business, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required,” the statement said. “That being said, Mr. Trump has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes, sales and excise taxes, real estate taxes, city taxes, state taxes, employee taxes and federal taxes.”

The statement continued, “Mr. Trump knows the tax code far better than anyone who has ever run for President and he is the only one that knows how to fix it.”

Right. By the same token, Trump knows how to cheat people and avoid paying them for work they do or products they create, so he’ll be brilliant at infuriating anyone who tries to deal with him, like, you know, heads of state around the world.

The Times underlines that it’s all legal. The tax codes allow him to do that, and his accountant knows how to make it happen.

But if Mr. Trump lacked a sophisticated understanding of the tax code, and if he rarely showed any interest in the details behind various tax strategies, Mr. Mitnick said he clearly grasped the critical role taxes would play in helping him build wealth. “He knew we could use the tax code to protect him,” Mr. Mitnick said.

According to Mr. Mitnick, Mr. Trump’s use of net operating losses was no different from that of his other wealthy clients. “This may have had a couple extra digits compared to someone else’s operation, but they all benefited in the same way,” he said, pointing to the $916 million loss on Mr. Trump’s tax returns.

In “The Art of the Deal,” his 1987 best-selling book, Mr. Trump referred to Mr. Mitnick as “my accountant” — although he misspelled his name. Mr. Trump described consulting with Mr. Mitnick on the tax implications of deals he was contemplating and seeking his advice on how new federal tax regulations might affect real estate write-offs.

Mr. Mitnick, though, said there were times when even he, for all his years helping wealthy New Yorkers navigate the tax code, found it difficult to face the incongruity of his work for Mr. Trump. He felt keenly aware that Mr. Trump was living a life of unimaginable luxury thanks in part to Mr. Mitnick’s ability to relieve him of the burden of paying taxes like everyone else.

But he did it anyway. I’m reminded of Holly Hunter in Broadcast News – “But at least I feel bad about it, folks.”

It means whatever you want it to mean, darling

Oct 1st, 2016 5:26 pm | By

So, Sincere “women and femmes” Kirabo included a link for the “femmes” part: a link to What We Mean When We Say “Femme”: A Roundtable. So let’s read it. It’s guaranteed to put us off our dinner, but let’s read it anyway. It’s from July, so not too out of date yet.

Femmes. We live in different places. We’re different ages. We have different gender identities. Some of us are people of color, some of us are white. In this representative sample, we are Autostraddle writers, or artists, or musicians, or educators, or all of these things. The only thing we have in common is that we’re queer and that, in our own deeply personal way, we breathe life into the word femme.

So the word is meaningless. It doesn’t name anything, because of the infinite (and oh so impressive) variety of femmes. Femmes have “different gender identities” but they’re all femme – can you make sense of that?

Come on. “Femme” is French for women; it’s a subset of lesbians; it means girly, or feminine. Except – wait! – it means that but in a special, new, complicated, thrilling, woke, correct, impressive, don’t you wish you were as cool as we are way.

When did supposedly leftist politics become so entangled in personal vanity and peacocking? When did it become just a way of saying “I’m special and you’re not”?

This shit is about as left-wing as Bonwit Teller.

But like so many other differences, we don’t agree on what the word femme means to us. This is the beauty of gender fluidity. We live in a world where it is totally possible to claim the same word as someone else and completely disagree on what the word means.

It means everything! And nothing! It means so everything and nothing that we can have round tables about it, and bore each other senseless discussing it!

But above all, it means we get to tell women how fucking conservative and useless they are, and to get out of our way.

There are people today who are angry, they think that only women should call themselves femme. They think that if you’re not a lesbian or bisexual woman and you’re calling yourself femme, you’re contributing to an erasure or appropriation of the history of lesbian and bisexual women. These people are talking in a really binary way. In my observation, it seems to be a generational thing. But the people who are most affected by these opinions are trans women or transfeminine people, and I feel like if trans women and transfeminine people are telling you that you’re doing something fucked up, cis women should listen to that.

Of course you do. That’s the whole point, isn’t it – telling women they’re wrong, and fucked up, and the wrong generation, and just generally awful, and should shut up or better yet go away and die. And it’s so radical and woke and wonderful to say that. It’s the best political idea ever.

On the idea that an older generation of people think only women should claim the word femme: I’m 36 years old and I find that kind of restriction on “femme” to be abhorrent and willfully cruel. No femme friends of mine — and I’m lucky that they are numerous — believe anything like that, and many of them are my age and older still. If they did, I’d dump them on the spot! The “erasure of lesbian history” narrative is weak and fearful, that’s all. If it takes you longer than a millisecond to know the answer toDo I want to be weak and fearful or do I want to be kind?, then I haven’t got time for you.

Right? Right? Right? Women are so shitty, aren’t they? They’re just the worst. We all hate them. Femmes are much better than those shitty horrible women people. Ew.

On a more positive note, I think of femme today becoming more inclusive as an acknowledgment of what already was rather than a new reclamation. It always feels new once you realize who you are and choose not to hide it! I’d love it if we all welcomed non-cis femmes into the light with open arms and a friendly “What took ya so long?” knowing full well the answer, and knowing how brave you have to be as a femme in this world.

Yes!!!! Let’s hate and banish all the cis women, and welcome all the non-cis femmes, so that there just won’t even need to be any women any more. They can just do all the cooking and toilet scrubbing, and let the rest of us get on with being awesome and woke.


Damn, that’s only about a tenth of the way down the page. I’m not going to read all this shit.

But that’s where we are now – we’re at the point where people are calling themselves “femme” and shitting on women in the same breath. We’re at the point where people are pretending it’s the height of social justice to do that. We’re at the point where the Social Justice Coordinator of the American Humanist Association (really) rewrites Women in Secularism so that it’s about “women and femmes.” Maybe in a week or two it will be renamed Femmes in Secularism.

Just women

Oct 1st, 2016 12:16 pm | By

Huh. It turns out that Women in Secularism isn’t about women. It’s about “women and femmes.” I have no real idea what that’s supposed to mean, since it obviously doesn’t mean femme lesbians, because they are of course women so there’d be no need for an “and.”

At least, it’s about that according to Sincere Kirabo, who attended the one last weekend. It’s not about that according to CFI, which holds the conference, but hey what do they know.

This past weekend, my colleague Jessica Xiao and I had the honor of attending the Center For Inquiry’s Women In Secularism 4(WIS).

The honor? Attending isn’t an honor. That sounds like having the honor to ride the bus or see a movie. Buying a ticket to something doesn’t confer honor.

Anyway – on to the femmes.

This conference brought together a diverse lineup of speakers—including American Humanist Association President Rebecca Hale—to address both the progress and challenges uniquely related to the lives of women and femmes.

Women and femmes. Women and femmes, when it’s always been women until now. Why isn’t “women” good enough? Why does Sincere Kirabo – a man – feel the need to shove women aside so that they don’t hog their own movement? Why can’t it just be women?

Whether people wish to recognize it or not, events like this exist and are made necessary due to a continued lack of balanced representation within secular circles. Bias has a lot to do with it, of course. As writer Soraya Chemaly noted in her talk focused on the marginalization of women/femmes in society, sexism shapes human knowledge and behavior.

Did she? Did she say that? I don’t know, I wasn’t there and I saw only tweets and Paul Fidalgo’s blog post, but I doubt it. I read Soraya regularly and I don’t recall seeing her talk about “women/femmes” as if that were a thing. If she didn’t, I find it pretty obnoxious of Kirabo to put words in her mouth.

And more directly, I am beyond tired of seeing people hell bent on forcing women to be “inclusive” in the sense of ceasing to talk about women and instead talk about women-and. It’s just more All Lives Matter, but somehow when it’s women being made to do it, it becomes right-on and “progressive.”

I say it’s spinach and I say the hell with it.

Fabulous mighty girl daughter wants to be a firefighter for halloween

Oct 1st, 2016 10:46 am | By

A Mighty Girl:

“my fabulous mighty girl daughter wants to be a firefighter for halloween. because of this, we have had to endure the following from lovely, well-meaning people:

– oh, she wants to be a firefighter? does she have brothers? (no, shockingly, she has thoughts of her own! all by her girl self!)
– while holding ava: hi, where are your firefighter costumes? how old is he? she’s almost 3. what size is he? she’s a 3. does he need a hat? (aaaaarrrrgggh!)
– a firetruck! so cute! do you put your dolls in it? (do you ask boys this question?)
– she’s going to be a fireman? (if she can say ‘firefighter’ at TWO, i’m sure you can, too…)

dear well-meaning world. gender stereotypes suck. and we need feminism more than ever. thanks much for listening to my rant.

– mommy of a little girl who just wants to be whatever she wants to be.”

Kudos to Kim for supporting her Mighty Girl’s interests wherever they take her and thanks for sharing this fantastic picture!

If you’re looking for an empowering costume for your Mighty Girl, our Halloween Costume Guide features 400 options for all ages, infant through adult, on a variety of themes, including many occupational-themed costumes.

If your Mighty Girl likes to pretend to fight fires, you can also find many related toys, including the Fire Truck Pedal Car pictured here, in our “Pretend Play Occupations” section.

And, if you’d like to introduce more gender diversity into your children’s LEGO collection, the Community Minifigures Set includes 22 figures in a variety of community roles, including both male and female firefighters.

A stream of needlessly cruel insults

Oct 1st, 2016 9:47 am | By

The New York Times tries not to laugh at Trump’s Twitterstorm.

The tweets started around 3:20 a.m. on Friday. Inside Trump Tower, a restless figure stirred in the predawn darkness, nursing his grievances and grabbing a device that often lands him in hot water.

On his Android phone, Donald J. Trump began to tap out bursts of digital fury: He mocked Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universe and a popular Latin American actress, as a “con,” the “worst” and “disgusting.”

In a final flourish, before the sun came up, the Republican presidential nominee claimed — without offering any evidence — that she had appeared in a “sex tape.”

It’s ludicrous, and in that sense funny – but it’s also horrifying and not a bit funny. He’s a very powerful rich man, and he doesn’t hesitate to try to harm women he dislikes.

Over the past few days, those instincts have been on vivid display. In quick succession, Mr. Trump has repeated his critique that Ms. Machado gained a “massive amount of weight” after she won the Miss Universe crown in 1996; suggested that former President Bill Clinton’s infidelities are fair game for campaign attacks; and urged his followers to “check out” a sex tape that may not exist. (Ms. Machado appeared in a risqué scene on a reality television show, but fact-checkers have discovered no sex tape.)

Don’t elect a chronic bully to high office. Don’t do it. Step back from the edge.

Yet for close students of Mr. Trump’s career and campaign, it all has a familiar ring. Over the years, he has issued a stream of needlessly cruel and seemingly off-the-cuff insults — both on and off social media — that have inflamed the public. He declared on Twitter that Kim Novak, a reclusive 81-year-old actress at the time, “should sue her plastic surgeon,” sending her into hiding. He derided the appearance of a rival, Carly Fiorina, angering female voters by asking: “Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” And he criticized the mother of a slain American soldier, musing that as a Muslim woman, she was not “allowed” to speak.

Don’t elect a cruel, mean, sadistic bully to high office.

On Friday, Mr. Trump was at it again between 3:20 and 5:30 a.m., issuing a series of indignant messages that mocked Ms. Machado and Mrs. Clinton, who raised the experience of the former beauty queen to hurt Mr. Trump during the debate.

Mrs. Clinton, he wrote “was duped and used by my worst Miss U. Hillary floated her as an “angel” without checking her past, which is terrible!”

A few minutes later, Mr. Trump theorized — again, without offering any evidence — that Mrs. Clinton had helped Ms. Machado become a United States citizen so that the Democratic nominee could mention the beauty queen in the debate to hurt Mr. Trump.

Don’t elect a cruel, mean, sadistic bully who makes up his own reality to high office.

It is unusual for a major party presidential nominee to directly control any online communications, let alone issue provocative, unsubstantiated claims without the filter of a campaign aide.

But Mr. Trump is fixated on Twitter. He has nearly 12 million followers and has reveled in watching his stray thoughts become viral sensations on the social media platform. He has been fond of quoting a fan on Twitter, who described him as “the Ernest Hemingway of a hundred and forty characters.”

[choking with laughter] Does that sound familiar? Does it remind you of anyone? Yes, it does. The two are quite similar in their Twitter habits.

So like a car careening down a highway with no guardrails, Mr. Trump on Friday sent out one message after another. His suggestion of a sex tape featuring Ms. Machado sent his most zealous followers hunting for images. A few of them posted pornographic images of women who they believe resembled Ms. Machado.

Ms. Machado on Friday called Mr. Trump’s online assault “cheap lies with bad intentions” and said that she would not be intimidated.

And millions of dudebros called her names on social media.

Don’t elect a hero of dudebros on social media to high office. Step back from the edge.

He lies. He bullies. He threatens. He calls women names.

Oct 1st, 2016 9:05 am | By

Also? Trump’s persona, his demeanor, his shtick dovetails alarmingly neatly with that of the domestic abuser. I don’t think I’d thought of it exactly that way before, but reading it caused zero surprise. Of course it does.

Or, another way of putting that is simply what I and many others have said often, which is just that he’s a bully. His bully characteristics are blindingly obvious. Naturally a bully and a domestic abuser are going to overlap neatly.

He lies. He bullies. He threatens. He calls women names. And he’s the Republican nominee for president.

Donald Trump and his bombastic, truth-free persona is still baffling to many. But for one select group of people ― survivors of domestic violence ― Trump is immediately and intimately recognizable.

He reminds them of the men who ruined their lives.

“Trump is triggering so many abuse and rape victims including me,” Angel Marie Russell wrote on Facebook after the first presidential debate. “His behavior is almost exact to my abusive exes. It’s terrifying. I can’t even watch him.”

While domestic abuse is often characterized as acts of physical violence, it’s more accurate to understand it as a cluster of specific behavioral tactics that abusers employ to control, intimidate and coerce victims.

Many of the behaviors that Trump exhibited at the first presidential debate were strikingly similar to those used by abusers, said Rus Ervin Funk, a consultant for several domestic violence non-profits who has worked closely with men who batter.

“His efforts to control Ms. Clinton and the dynamics of the debate (through his interrupting, his talking over and more loudly than Ms. Clinton) coupled with his very well-developed ability to evade accountability of any kind certainly reminded me of how men who batter operate,” he said.

And then there’s the gaslighting.

On multiple occasions during the debate, Trump denied saying things that he had said before, such as when he claimed he never supported the Iraq war or said climate change is a hoax, despite clear evidence to the contrary.

This willingness to aggressively deny objective truths is a form of emotional abuse, called “gas-lighting.” Gas-lighting can cause victims to doubt their own memories and perceptions, and make it hard to distinguish fact from fiction.

And this man is wildly popular. That tells us something.

Trump points out that he’s way nastier than Clinton

Oct 1st, 2016 8:35 am | By

Now for that interview in the Times.

Donald J. Trump unleashed a slashing new attack on Hillary Clinton over Bill Clinton’s sexual indiscretions on Friday as he sought to put the Clintons’ relationship at the center of his political argument against her before their next debate.

Hard to believe. A skeevy serially-unfaithful man attacks a woman because her husband is a skeevy serially-unfaithful man. A woman’s faults are hers, and a man’s faults are hers too. Men have a free pass, women are blamed for men’s bad behavior.

In an interview with The New York Times, he also contended that infidelity was “never a problem” during his three marriages, though his first ended in an ugly divorce after Mr. Trump began a relationship with the woman who became his second wife.

Well it wasn’t a problem for him, he means. That’s all that counts, he means. Women are just those skanks that real people fuck until they don’t want to any more, and then they get a new one.

Then he went after Alicia Machado.

Mr. Trump said that Mrs. Clinton, who has portrayed Ms. Machado as a victim of Mr. Trump’s cruel insults, had “made this young lady into a girl scout when she was the exact opposite.” He asserted, without offering any evidence, that Ms. Machado had once participated in a sex tape.

That was the content of his 3 a.m. Twitter rampage the night before, too. He of course never explained how putative participation in a sex tape would make it untrue that Trump insulted and humiliated her and stiffed her on the 10% of profits from advertising she starred in.

He said he was bringing up Mr. Clinton’s infidelities because he thought they would repulse female voters and turn them away from the Clintons, and because he was eager to unsettle Mrs. Clinton in their next two debates and on the campaign trail.

“She’s nasty, but I can be nastier than she ever can be,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump said he believed that his own marital history did not preclude him from waging such an attack. He became involved with Marla Maples while he was still married to his first wife, Ivana, who divorced him in 1991. He married Ms. Maples in 1993; they were divorced in 1999. He married his current wife, Melania, in 2005.

While Mr. Trump has bragged about his sexual exploits over the years, he charged in the interview that Mr. Clinton had numerous indiscretions that “brought shame onto the presidency, and Hillary Clinton was there defending him all along.”

But when asked if he had ever cheated on his wives, Mr. Trump said: “No — I never discuss it. I never discuss it. It was never a problem.”

Narcissistic much?

Mr. Trump’s sharply negative attacks on the Clintons, and on Ms. Machado, pose a significant political risk to his own appeal: Two-thirds of voters already see him unfavorably, according to polls, and he is struggling to win over female voters — including white women, a majority of whom have historically supported the Republican candidate in presidential elections.

Well, attacking a woman for being married to a skeevy serially-unfaithful man should be just the way to win them over.

It can’t get worse, it keeps getting worse

Oct 1st, 2016 8:16 am | By

The horror of Trump only gets worse.

The Guardian takes a look from the safer distance of London:

Donald Trump said on Friday that he would not necessarily accept the results of the presidential election in the event that Hillary Clinton defeated him, reversing his statement four days earlier that he would “absolutely” respect them.

After the first presidential debate on Monday, the Republican nominee told reporters “absolutely I would” honor the results of the election should he lose. In an interview with the New York Times on Friday, he backtracked: “We’re going to have to see. We’re going to see what happens. We’re going to have to see.”

Earlier that day at a rally in Detroit, Trump resurfaced fears of voter fraud and his unsubstantiated complaints of a “rigged” election. He told supporters that voter fraud is “a big, big problem in this country”, although research has found a few dozen potential incidents of in-person voter fraud in 14 years of US elections. He also urged them to “go and watch the polling places and make sure it is on the up and up”.

That is, he urged them to go and try to intimidate voters.

The Republican candidate spent much of the week defending himself against charges of sexism, mostly by attacking Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universe whose story – Trump called her “Miss Piggy” and “an eating machine” – has dominated coverage of his campaign since the debate. On Friday, Trump used Twitter for a predawn rant about Machado, which Clinton called evidence that he was “temperamentally unfit” to lead.

He’s temperamentally unfit to live in adult society without supervision.

I don’t know if we’ll ever come back from this. I think it may have turned us into a sleazy tabloid version of a country.

He was forced to go into hiding

Sep 30th, 2016 5:48 pm | By

Here’s another atheist in Pakistan who could use help.

Aatif is an atheist living in Pakistan, where blasphemy laws carry the death penalty. It is common for street mobs to assault anyone suspected of being insufficiently Islamic. In the face of this reality, Aatif runs an atheist Facebook page. That is how I met him.

His conservative Muslim family has rejected him. He was forced to move away and then to go into hiding. His abusive father and older male relatives have tried to force him into an Islamic reprogramming institute, beating him when he resists.

Though he has a master’s degree in Computer Science, where he now lives he earns barely enough to rent a room and feed himself; he often cannot even afford over-the-counter medicine to treat his health problems.

The GoFundMe.


60 victims

Sep 30th, 2016 12:43 pm | By

Not cool.

The headline: Female molester facing strict release conditions

The story:

A woman convicted of sexually assaulting children will have to reside in a halfway house after completing her sentence due to concerns she is a risk to reoffend.

Jeez, you think, women don’t usually sexually assault children.

According to documents from the Parole Board of Canada dated Sept. 1, Madilyn Harks, who was formerly known as Matthew Ralf Harks, will face a residency condition upon her statutory release.

Oh. So…Madilyn used to be “known as” Matthew.

She will also be required to follow a treatment plan, respect a curfew and follow psychological counselling.

She will be prohibited from having any contact with children under the age of 18 unless supervised by an adult who is aware of her criminal history, and must avoid locations where children may be expected to congregate.

Harks began serving a three-year sentence for sexual assault against a seven-year-old female in April 2007.

She was released in 2010 and began a 10-year long-term supervision order.

At the time of Harks’ offence in 2007, she was on probation following two convictions of sexual assault against two children aged four and five years old.

“You have also admitted to having approximately 60 victims and you estimate having committed 200 offences, with some of those offences being multiple offences against some of your victims,” the parole board stated.

The board noted that in April 2006, Harks was identified in a dangerous offender psychiatric assessment as having an “all encompassing preoccupation with interest in sexually abusing young girls.”

60 victims. 60.

The documents indicate Harks could also be facing charges for three alleged offences that took place recently while she was in custody: assault, unlawful confinement and sexual assault.

Harks is also subject to conditions imposed by the court in March 2014 that prohibit her from attending facilities including daycare centres, school grounds or playgrounds.

She is also banned from using a computer system for the purpose of communicating with a person under the age of 14.

Harks has undergone gender reassignment, and legally changed her name sometime between April 2010 and August 2012.

After that sentence for assaulting a seven-year-old girl.

Fuck this shit.