This is where the personal stuff goes, along with some things I find important. For wordy musings, rants, discussions and opinions, you're in the right place. For anything else, hit the links below.
I want to note that the way the sex binary looks like it’s present throughout the animal world is that white scientists have a terrible habit of labeling everything “male” or “female” even when it makes no sense.
Like, by any reasonable metric, bees have three sexes: drone, queen, and worker. Workers are only labelled female because someone couldn’t abide the idea of something not being either one or the other.
And before someone calls “genetics” there are many species where both sexes have the exact same genetics, and even many where individuals can change reproductive capacity at will, and scientists suddenly have no problem calling the ones who grow eggs “female” even though they were “male” two weeks ago.
Some species of mammals reproduce asexually. They have only one sex. It is still called “female” because it makes babies even though one might reasonably ask why even make the distinction when every single individual makes babies just the same.
Interesting, but uh…what the heck does the “whiteness” of the scientists have to do with anything (“white scientists have a terrible habit”)? What does that even mean? Like, are only the scientists with pasty pale skin the ones who are hung up on two animal genders? But all the Scientists of Color are like, “Nah man, those crazy white scientists and their binary gender labels, they don’t know what they’re talking about.”
I wrote a post a while back about how some people are very good at getting away with doing intentionally creepy things by passing themselves off as just ~awkward~.
Recently, I noticed a particular pattern that plays out. While creeps can be any gender, there’s a gendered pattern by which creepy men get other men to help them be creepy:
- A guy runs over the boundaries of women constantly
- He makes them very uncomfortable and creeped out
- But he doesn’t do that to guys, and
- He doesn’t talk to guys about it in an unambiguous way, and
- When he does it in front of guys, he finds a way to make it look deniable
- And then some women complain to a man, maybe even a man in charge who is supposed to be responsible for preventing abuse in a space
- and he has no idea what they are talking about, since he’s never the target or witness
- And he’s had a lot of pleasant interactions with that guy
- So he sympathizes with him, and thinks he must mean well but be have trouble with social skills
- And then takes no action to get him to stop or to protect women
- And so the group stays a place that is safe for predatory men, but not for the women they target
- Mary, Jill, and Susan: Bill, Bob’s been making all of us really uncomfortable. He’s been sitting way too close, making innuendo after everything we say, and making excuses to touch us.
- Bill: Wow, I’m surprised to hear that. Bob’s a nice guy, but he’s a little awkward. I’m sure he doesn’t mean anything by it. I’m not comfortable accusing him of something so serious from my position of authority.
What went wrong here?
- Bill assumed that, if Bob was actually doing something wrong, he would have noticed.
- Bill didn’t think he needed to listen to the women who were telling him about Bob’s creepy actions. He didn’t take seriously the possibility that they were right.
- Bill assumed that women who were uncomfortable with Bob must be at fault; that they must be judging him too harshly or not understanding his awkwardness
- Bill told women that he didn’t think that several women complaining about a guy was sufficient reason to think something was wrong
- Bill assumed that innocently awkward men should not be confronted about inadvertantly creepy things they do, but rather women should shut up and let them be creepy
A rule of thumb for men:
- If several women come to you saying that a man is being creepy towards them, assume that they are seeing something you aren’t
- Listen to them about what they tell you
- If you like the guy and have no idea what they’re talking about, that means that what he is doing is *not* innocent awkwardness.
- If it was innocent awkwardness, he wouldn’t know how to hide it from other men
- Men who are actually just awkward and bad at understanding boundaries also make *other men* uncomfortable
- If a man is only making women uncomfortable but not men, that probably means he’s doing it on purpose
- Take that possibility seriously, and listen to what women tell you about men
tl;dr If you are a man, other men in your circle who are nice to you are creepy towards women. Don’t assume that if something was wrong that you would have noticed; creepy men are good at finding the lines of what other men will tolerate. Listen to women. They know better than you do whether a man is being creepy and threatening towards women; if they think something is wrong, listen and find out why. Don’t tolerate give predatory dudes who are nice to you cover to keep hurting women.
So an average adult human is supposed to drink 2 litres of water a day to stay healthy, not a lot of people do that but for the sake of the math here let’s say you do. If your tap water is so shady you refuse to drink it, that means you burn through two $2.50 one litre bottles of water a day, which amounts to $5. A friend of mine using a portable filter intended to clean 1000 litres of water (I’m not sure what quality of water was used to get that number) said in practical application she got about two months of heavy duty use camping in an area where the water is so thick with decomposing plant matter it’s green and opaque
Assuming in this active, athletic summer camping situation she is also drinking her two litres of water every day, it means her filter cleaned about 120 litres of totally raw and untreated muddy lake water for $20. That same amount of bottled water would run you $300 at $2.50 per litre bottle, so using a filter to treat the dirty water instead of resorting to bottles saved her $280, a hundred and twenty plastic bottles, and 240 litres of wasted water in the “three litres of water to produce one litre of bottled water" exchange.
Bottled water companies are completely devastating California, if you don’t trust your tap water please, please invest in a filter, carry a reusable bottle with you, you will save so much money and help keep California wet enough to continue providing the rest of the country with the produce they grow here.
Leonard Nimoy, explaining how Spock dealt with prejudice aimed at his Vulcan-human parentage in response to a letter from a mixed-race girl struggling with real-world racism. (via finallyfrontiered)
If you claim to be a feminist and you shame girls for wanting to do traditional things like take their husband’s last name or be a house wife then you are doing it all completely wrong.
Feminism isn’t an elite group who defeats gender norms, it’s a group who accepts ALL women’s choices.
I think this is a deeply flawed way of looking at the world.
Now, I have talked about Ferguson, and I’ve talked about Gaza. (In fact, I’ve been writing and talking about Israel and Palestine for more than a decade.) But there are many important problems facing the world that I haven’t talked about: I haven’t talked much about the civil war in South Sudan, or the epidemic of suicide among American military personnel, or the persecution of Muslim Rohingya people in Myanmar.
Is that okay? Is it okay for me to talk about, say, racism in football and lowering infant mortality in Ethiopia? Or must we all agree to discuss only whatever is currently the ascendant news story? Is it disrespectful to Ferguson protesters to talk about continued political oppression in Egypt now that we are no longer reblogging images of the protests in Tahrir Square? I think this is a false choice: If you are talking about Ferguson and I am talking about Ethiopian health care, neither of us is hurting the other.
I think the challenge for activists and philanthropists online is in paying sustained attention, not over days or weeks but over years and decades. And I worry that when we turn our attention constantly from one outrage to another we end up not investing the time and work to facilitate actual change. We say “THE WORLD IS WATCHING,” and it is…until it isn’t. We’ve seen this again and again in Gaza and the West Bank. We’re seeing it in Iran. We’re seeing it in South Sudan. And we’re seeing it in the U.S., from net neutrality to Katrina recovery.
The truth is, these problems are complicated, and when the outrage passes we’re left with big and tangled and nuanced problems. I feel that too often that’s when we stop paying attention, because it gets really hard and there’s always a shiny new problem somewhere else that’s merely outrageous. I hope you’re paying attention to Ferguson in five years, anon, and I hope I am, too. I also hope I’m paying attention to child death in Ethiopia. I don’t think these things are mutually exclusive.
I really don’t want to minimize the effectiveness of online activism, because I know that it works: To use a personal example, I’ve learned a TON from the LGBT+ and sexual assault survivor communities in recent years online. People on tumblr make fun of me for apologizing all the time, but I apologize all the time because I am learning all the time, and every day I’m like, “Oh, man, Current Me has realized that Previous Me was so wrong about this!”
But we can only learn when we can listen. And when you call me a hypocrite for talking about X instead of talking about Y, it makes it really hard to listen.
At times, online discourse to me feels like we just sit in a circle screaming at each other until people get their feelings hurt and withdraw from the conversation, which leaves us with ever-smaller echo chambers, until finally we’re left only with those who entirely agree with us. I don’t think that’s how the overall worldwide level of suck gets decreased.
I might be wrong, of course. I often am. But I think we have to find ways to embrace nuance and complexity online. It’s hard—very, very hard—to make the most generous, most accepting, most forgiving assumptions about others. But I also really do think it’s the best way forward.
Or must we all agree to discuss only whatever is currently the ascendant news story?
I think the challenge for activists and philanthropists online is in paying sustained attention, not over days or weeks but over years and decades. And I worry that when we turn our attention constantly from one outrage to another we end up not investing the time and work to facilitate actual change. We say “THE WORLD IS WATCHING,” and it is…until it isn’t.
The truth is, these problems are complicated, and when the outrage passes we’re left with big and tangled and nuanced problems. I feel that too often that’s when we stop paying attention, because it gets really hard and there’s always a shiny new problem somewhere else that’s merely outrageous.
Just wanted to highlight some things people need to think about more often.