Evolution Stops Here

May. 26th, 2016 08:53 am
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Posted by Dave Hingsburger

I am disappointed in myself.

In my defence I was tired.

But, I know that this is never a reason and always an excuse.


I was tired.

We were driving home on a hot day. Traffic had been really, really slow. We finally got to a point where we were moving more quickly and, with the windows down, the air felt wonderful and cool. We stopped at a stop light. A handsome man in a convertible looked over toward us and spotted me, he immediately turned to his girlfriend, the both looked, she glanced away quickly, embarrassed that I had seen her, he broke into laughter.

Now, I know.

It's his behaviour that is the issue.

He has no right to pointed and purposely laugh at or ridicule another person.

But, I didn't focus on his behaviour. I looked at him. Really looked at him. At that face that I thought was handsome. I scanned for flaws. I found them. I focused on them. In my mind I called him all sorts of names because of those facial flaws, flaws not immediately evident, but clearly there. I was vicious. And I felt better.

I want to evolve past the impulse to cruelty and meanness.

I want to be the person that notices behaviour and comments on behaviour, not someone who looks for ways to hurt back.

I don't want to immediately attack.

I want my mind to be more disciplined.

I want my mind to be able to react to cruelty in ways other than cruelty.

But I'm not there yet.

Give me time.
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Posted by April Stevens

By Tony Perrottet (Guest Contributor)

Today’s oenophiles have to consider the possibility that their valuable wine bottles may be corked, oxidized, “maderized” (ruined due to over-heating), re-fermented (gone fizzy in the bottle) or sullied by a contaminant.

Things were much easier in 16th century Italy: You could just blame the witches. It was commonly believed that after their satanic midnight Sabbath parties witches had the nasty habit of invading a village’s wine cellars and sullying the vats with their urine or excrement. This, needless to say, did nothing for a wine’s bouquet. Thousands of European women were being burned at the stake for their evil powers, but somehow the problem could not be controlled.

The situation was better if you happened to live in northern Italy’s alpine province of Friuli on the border with Austria (still a fine wine-producing region), because there dwelt a team of occult heroes: the benandanti, or Good Walkers, a revered group of men who practiced white magic for the protection of local vintners. These specialists were identified at birth – they emerged from the womb with their faces wrapped in the caul or amniotic membrane – and as they grew up, they were instilled with a sense of sacred duty. By adulthood, a Good Walker would regularly slip into a deep, trance-like sleep, when his spirits could leave his body and sally forth to do battle with the witches. Not only would these spirits protect the wine in the cellars, they saved the annual crops from devastation and stopped witches from sucking the blood from infants or stealing souls from the innocent. Often,
these supernatural wine regulators returned from their moonlit journeys victorious; at other times they woke up exhausted and defeated.

Around 1575, the Inquisition grew suspicious of these strange men, but after many extended interviews, investigators decided to class their gifts as “benign magic” rather than satanic, and no executions were ever carried out. Perhaps, like many a gout-ridden cleric of the period, they too were connoisseurs of the grape.

Further Reading: Ginzburg, Carlo, The Night Battles: Witchcraft & Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth & Seventeenth Centuries, (London, 1966).

Image: Courtesy of MSNBC

Tony Perrottet is author of Napoleon’s Privates: 2,500 Years of History Unzipped, The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games, and Pagan Holiday: On the Trail of Ancient Roman Tourists, among others. He can be found at TonyPerrottet.com.

This post first appeared on Wonders & Marvels in September 2009.

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Posted by chinookjargon

Annie Zíxtkʷu York said, in “Thompson Ethnobotany” and the “Thompson River Salish Dictionary”:

Highbush Cranberry

kʷúkʷns  ‘highbush cranberry’ is a Chinook Jargon loan into this southern interior BC language.

This is new to me.  Any ideas of its etymology?

There are a number of other words labeled as Chinuk Wawa loans in the TRS dictionary, as I recall, that are as puzzling as this.



Scenes from the class war (5.25)

May. 25th, 2016 08:37 pm
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Posted by Fred Clark

"But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?"
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Does it irritate you to walk through first class on your way to the economy seats? Do those smug faces, sipping complimentary champagne, annoy you? Do you wonder, perhaps involuntarily and against your better self, what makes those passenger so special? So much better than you? Does it make you want to break stuff?

If so, you’re not alone!

New research by a pair of business and resource management scholars discovered that “air rage” was more common on airplanes that have a first class cabin than those that don’t and even more common if economy passengers boarded the plane through that cabin, such that class-divided passengers came into close proximity.

The investigators, business and organization scholars Katherine DeCelles and Michael Norton, call it “physical” and “situational inequality.” The former is when hierarchies are built into the environment, like CEOs in gorgeous, high-windowed corner offices and workers in dull cubicles. Situational inequality refers to degrees to which this hierarchy is made plain, as in whether workers have to walk by CEO offices to get to their cubicles. Airplanes with first class cabins are an example of physical inequality and if the economy class has to walk through them to board, that’s an example of high situational inequality.

DeCelles and Norton posited that both types of inequality would be associated with “antisocial behavior”: belligerence, illegal drug use, excessive intoxication, sexual misconduct, etc. Creatively, they used several years of records of onboard air rage incidents from a large airline, correlating incidents with the design of the airplane and boarding procedures.

They found that physical inequality was correlated with increased rates of air rage among people in the economy class and situational economy with air rage among people in both classes. By a lot, in fact. The presence of a first class cabin appeared to increase air rage among the economy class almost 4 times. For comparison, the increase was equivalent to that caused by a 9.5 hour take-off delay. Irritating, indeed.

Boarding through first class was correlated with another 2.18 times increase in air rage among the economy class and a stunning 11.86 times increase among those in first class. I always wondered if first class passengers felt chagrined, embarrassed, or disturbed by the marching through of the airplane’s second- and third-class citizens. Well, there’s a pretty heavy-handed hint.

DeCelles and Norton observe that recent changes in airline practices have increased the likelihood of passengers experiencing both types of inequality and that administrators and their on the ground representatives — flight attendants — should expect incidences of air rage to increase apace.

Lisa Wade is a professor at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. Find her on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

(View original at https://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

Elephant in the City

May. 25th, 2016 10:14 am
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Posted by Velouria

Meeting up with a friend in Derry for lunch yesterday, I was struck by the number of cyclists out and about. On the path by the river especially, they whizzed past us with merry abandon - a blur of fluttering garments and large wicker baskets... Wait, what! Wicker baskets?

While cycling in Derry has certainly been on the rise for these past few years, it hadn't quite normalised to the point of everyday clothes and full-on wicker basket mode last time I checked. So what bikes exactly were these? When yet another mystery rider went by, I turned to face the path and recognised it immediately: an Elephant Bike!

So excited I was to find out where these bicycles came from, that I took drastic measures... I followed one of them through the streets. And it led me where else, but to the city's Guild Hall. Ooh this conspiracy ran deep!

With some trepidation, I entered the grandiose structure and found myself in an echoey chamber with carved oak walls and stained glass windows.

"Just what is this wicker-basketness all about?" I asked the helpful gentleman at the desk, in hopes he would not think me insane. The answer made my day.

Turns out, the Derry City Council has organised a scheme to get bicycles for their staff, enabling them to run errands by bike during the work day. How wonderful is that? The programme was launched on the 16th of April, so it's a fairly new development. It was lovely to see them in use already.

In addition to a small fleet at the Guild Hall for government employees, more Elephant Bikes are available at the Tourism Office for the general public. They can be rented by the hour or by the day at very reasonable rates. Considering that Derry has no bike share programme, this is most excellent news for anyone who wants to visit the city and travel around by bicycle.

But to backtrack a tad, what are these bicycles exactly?

Elephant Bike (not to be confused with the custom framebuilder Elephant in the US) is a UK charity initiative. It collects decommissioned Royal Mail bicycles, refurbishes them for civilian use, then resells them within the UK. And for every bicycle sold locally, another one is donated to a social enterprise in Malawi through the Krizevac Project. I have a policy of not promoting causes and charities here, and so I mention all this solely in the context of describing the bicycle. But if you are interested to learn more, please do visit the Krizevac Project and have a look for yourself.

Elephant Bikes begin life as postal bicycles for the Royal Mail, handbuilt by Pashley Cycles in Stratford-upon-Avon (I featured one of these here earlier - albeit an older model). After about 10 years in circulation, the postal bikes are taken out of commission. And it is this decommissioned stock that Elephant has collected - some 20,000 units in all.

Those machines that are deemed salvageable are then sent to be worked on by inmates in a local young offenders prison, where they are stripped of parts and paint, as part of a skill-building initiative. The framesets are then powdercoated, and finally re-assembled in-house with a mix of new and refurbished parts.

The bicycle, in its finished state, looks so shiny and new and pretty, it is difficult to see it as refurbished, or decommissioned, or as a charity project. It looks like a gorgeous, heavy-duty transport bike that anyone looking for a capable sturdy machine would be happy to own. And happily own it they can - for the price of £250.

You read that correctly: pay £250 for what is essentially a Pashley Mailstar/ Pronto with custom paint. Oh, and free postage within Great Britain. With the Pashley Pronto model still very much in production, consider that new ones retail at £650. Its charitable function aside, the Elephant Bike is an amazing bargain. And did I mention the pretty colours? They are available in sage (shown), turquoise, or olive. And in a selection of two unisex frame sizes (18" or 22"). You can buy online, and current wait time is 3 weeks.

The build is a fairly simple one: 3-speed hub gearing, trigger shifter, hub brakes, steel cranks, padded saddle with quick release for easy resizing. The wheels are 26" rear and 24" front, with puncture resistant 1¾" tyres.

Accessories included mudguards, a double-legged kickstand, and a bell. There is no dynamo lighting. However, the original fork-mounted headlight bracket remains for affixing a battery light.

The long rear rack is rated for 20kg of weight. The frame-mounted front carrier and basket (available in wicker or as a black plastic crate) are rated for 20kg of weight as well, and can be purchased as an additional accessory for a further £30.

Never having ridden a Pashley Pronto of this era before, I was achingly curious to try the Elephant Bike. Understandably though, the Derry City Council staff were kind of skeptical of me ("Which publication did you say you were with again, Miss?.."). Still, I was allowed to pedal around the square while remaining within eyesight. And, you know what? This thing is delightful. I am serious: Delightful! The thick blocky tubes and welded construction certainly look industrial in comparison to, say, the Pashley Princess. But it is zippy and responsive as heck - so much so, that seeing postmen sprinting up the hills of Letterkenny on these things (An Post used the same machine for their postal bikes) now strikes me as distinctly less implausible. The small front wheel + frame-mounted front carry system is right up my alley, too. As is the low stepover and low bottom bracket. My favourite-handling Pashley of the ones I have tried to date.

Later, I had a chat on the phone with Terry Richards of Elephant Bike (an exceedingly pleasant man to talk to) and learned some interesting things about their future plans. For instance, they hope that the wicker baskets - which are sourced now from a mass production facility - will soon be made in Malawi by hand.  They are also working on an in-house pannier design to fit the long rear racks, and that too shall be made in Malawi.

Finally, and this is only an idea at the moment, but some of the older (read: lugged and vintagey) postal bikes, if enough of them are gathered up in a salvageable state, might eventually get refurbished as well, and sold as a limited edition batch of perhaps 100 bikes maximum (the current production bikes are a limited run of 5,000).  I suspect there might be quite a lot of interest in that!

We also discussed the bikes' availability. For reasons to do with insurance policies, at the moment Elephant Bikes can only be posted within the UK (within GB at no cost, and to Northern Ireland for a small surcharge). But if you live elsewhere and want one, it is not impossible to obtain it - if you know someone with a UK address who'd be willing to forward it to you (remember that shipping to them would be free, so you'd only have to pay the one-time postage). You could even ask a UK bike shop to undertake this task for you, in the process encouraging them to become an Elephant Bike dealer!

In the course of a month, the presence of Elephant Bikes in Derry has changed the city's velo-landscape visibly, and that to me is very exciting. Visitors - whether locals in the city for the day, or tourists from afar - can now cycle about the place easily. And it's nice to see that, when given the opportunity, they do indeed cycle about the place. Derry is fantastic to explore by bike.

I hope to see more of these lovely machines, everywhere, until all the discarded postal bikes are brought back to life and put to good use. With thanks to the Derry City Council for trusting me with this bike, I wish them the best of luck with their employee cycling initiative. And I wish Elephant Bike folks all the best of luck with their charity work. For a complete picture set of the bike I rode, see here. And visit Elephant Bike online to learn more.

Not Up Lifting

May. 25th, 2016 07:21 am
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Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Sometimes, even I, am astonished.

Let me tell you what happened. It will take some explaining.

We have three elevators in our apartment building. At certain times of day, the demand for them is very high. I suppose every building like it has 'rush hours' and mine is no different.

Joe and I arrived into an empty lobby, we pushed the button for the elevator and when it arrived, two people got off. Joe held the door for them and I turned my chair around. Joe is now on the elevator holding the 'open door' button. The lobby quickly filled up.

I know these elevators in relationship to my chair and other passengers. I know that the one I'm getting on will hold three passengers and me as the fourth. Since there was a crowd, I said, while I'm in position to simply back on to the elevator, "There's space for two more if anyone would like." Two people said 'Great," and got on.

Then the others, seeing my position, bolted behind me and filled up the elevator. Joe stepped off because I need his help with the elevators and clearly I wasn't getting on that one. Someone took Joe's space and the door closed with me still sitting in position to pull back on to the elevator.

I called out, "What the hell happened?" just before the door closed.

Joe said that the first two people who got on look shocked and dismayed that my space was clearly taken by those who bolted to get on. He felt for them.

I kind of don't any more.

Being shocked and dismayed by the treatment of one person by another or a group, simply isn't enough. They could have spoken up. They could have said something.

But they didn't.

I suppose it did happen fast. I was taken aback by the swift moving river of people that bolted by me for the elevator. So, maybe they were too. I don't know.

But, I'm concerned that we are becoming people who think that being concerned is enough.

Say something.

Do something.

Act up. (to borrow from a movement I really admired)

In the end, we got home. But, I think much differently now, about my home.

And wonder, do I have neighbours, or do I simply have people who live near me.
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

I was supposed to learn what "Neoliberalism" means back in the early 1990s, in seminary. Alas, I stopped reading that book on page 51 when I came across the author's example of the epitome of all that Neoliberalism opposed. That turned out to be, well, me.

Journal 5-24-16

May. 24th, 2016 10:54 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed

As affirmations go, "I have not yet failed" is probably never gonna compete with "All will be well and all will be well and all manner of things will be well" but some days it's the one that really resonates.

Big. White. More beads.

May. 24th, 2016 07:23 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

The big white thing (with more beads) has really started to get to me – and I’m sure it’s starting to get to you… I have here photographed it in different place than I did all of last week to try and drive the excitement up, but no matter what I do, it is still big and white and I’d say it was unending, but I know it has to have an end.

onpianoshawl 2016-05-24

This thing has to be done by Meg’s wedding day, which is June the 20th. Yes, I know exactly how soon that is, and yes, I am freaking out. About a million important things have to happen between then and now, including important appointments, dinners, family commitments, training for the rally, working on the committee, keeping the house clean enough that the cat doesn’t get stuck to the floor (I am keeping the bar so low there) the Strung Along June Retreat, writing, somewhere in there I think I’d like to speak to Joe, remember Father’s Day and celebrate six family Birthdays and without fail, I have to finish this shawl.

I am just starting the border, which means that I have 46 rows to go.

onpianoshawldet 2016-05-24

The wedding is in 28 days, but the shawl needs to be done at least 3 days before the wedding for the purposes of blocking. and that means that I have 25 days. That should mean that as long as I do two rows a day, I’ll be just fine. Here’s the thing – two rows a day doesn’t sound like much – but the rows are really freaking long right now (and they’re only getting longer – I add four stitches every right side row, so more than 100 more are in the offing) and those rows are slow going, with all the beads and whatnot. Not only that, but with the beads and the chart and frankly, how white it all is, this isn’t exactly the sort of project I can do on the subway or as I’m walking down the street – not only am I really sure I can’t manage the beads on the go, I’m pretty sure that’s how you end up drunk and sobbing in a corner because there’s gum stuck to a wedding shawl or you snagged the thing on an escalator.  I have to sit still and knit, and it’s not my best thing. I’m better at knitting in restaurants, meetings and on buses. I knit a lot in a day, but it’s a bit here and a bit there and this shawl simply has more set-up and takedown than a sock. (By the way I am almost finished another pair of socks.)

This is all a rather fussy way of saying that I think two rows a day is going to be really hard, and maybe unrealistic, and… I’m freaking out a little. Two rows. I just need to knit two rows. Or Four. Four would be better.

I’m just going to go cancel my dentist appointment.

(PS. Spit Splice. That’s how I joined.  I pulled about 5cm of one ply of yarn out of each end of the two ply to reduce the bulk, and overlapped those two single plies. Then I applied a little “moisture” and then rubbed them together until they felted, and then gave it a little tug to be sure.  The join is imperceptible. Even I can’t find it now that I’m a few rows past. It worked really well. I didn’t just overlap because I hate the double-thick spot that always shows – especially in lace, and I didn’t do the Russian join because I felt like the yarn didn’t have appropriate ply twist for it, and it would have still been bulky. So there you have it, spit splice to the rescue.)

[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Taking a cue from sociologists, The Nightly Show has started a segment called the “Super Depressing Deep Dive.” In the five minute segment I’ve embedded below, they explain that we’ve known that lead was highly toxic since 1904, but the US didn’t ban lead paint until 1978 and lead pipes even later. Why not?

Looking at the evidence piling up, the League of Nations encouraged all nations to stop the use of lead paint in 1922, but the United States didn’t sign on. They deferred to the industry — the Lead Industries Association and the National Paint, Varnish, and Lacquer Association — who successfully lobbied the federal government. Not only did the US decline to ban the substance, in 1938 the government actually mandated that lead paint be used in housing projects for poor people, putting the lead industries profits above the health of poor children.

The industry also fought warning labels, criticized the science, sued at least one source — a television show — for telling the truth about lead, and blamed the victim, claiming that the real problem was “uneducable Negro and Puerto Rican” parents who failed to adequately protect their children. They even dispensed pro-lead propaganda directly to kids, like in this page from a free children’s book distributed by a paint company in which a pair of rubber boots say to the child (bottom right):

You knew when we were moulded
The man who made us said
We’re strong and tough and lively
Because in us there’s lead.


Because of the disproportionate impact on the poor and racial minorities, the Black Panthers made fighting lead paint a part of their mission and their work ultimately contributed to the banning of lead paint in 1978 and pipes in the 1980s. By that time, though, the damage was done. Lead pipes are still in the ground and lead paint continues to be a serious threat in poor neighborhoods, doing irreparable damage to the lives of poor children and the communities they are a part of.

Lisa Wade is a professor at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. Find her on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

(View original at https://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

Many-Legged Horrors

May. 24th, 2016 05:00 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed
So I was in bed last night reading on my iPad, with the lights off, and Kevin was asleep next to me with Sergei the cat curled up in the crook of his arm, as is Sergei's wont.

Something tickled my elbow. I assumed, because of my position, that it was Sergei's tail, and ignored it.

It tickled me again. I absently brushed at Sergei to get his tail out of the way, and realized that Sergei was curled up in Full Meatloaf and his tail was nowhere near me.

My brain executed a remarkable series of calculations in a very short period of time, involving what it must be, to be so...large...and then that I should under no circumstances swat at it because that would cause it to bite, and then that leaping out of bed would result in the monster being somewhere in the bed with sleeping Kevin and Sergei and Sergei might try to attack it and get bitten.

I have been bitten by this sort of beast before. It is agonizing and it lasts for days, like a hot wire being dragged through your skin.

The centipede--for such it was--wandered off my arm and into the blankets.

"Aunnggh?" he said from the depths of sleep.
"Kevin! Wake up, now!"
"What? What?"
"There's a centipede in the bed! A big one! You have to roll out of bed and grab the cat!"

Only a few phrases will bring one from a dead sleep to instant consciousness, but there's a centipede in the bed is among them.

Like a precision drill team, we rolled out of the bed. The centipede, a sizable Florida Blue in the two-inches-and-some-change range, flailed around the blankets in multi-legged wrath. (Centipedes don't get frightened, they just get angry.)

Kevin dropped a rudely awakened Sergei onto the floor, grabbed for his glasses, and went into the bathroom while I kept watch on the centipede. He returned with toilet paper. It is nearly impossible to stop a centipede with toilet paper--it's hard enough just to beat one to death with a shoe or a shampoo bottle--but you can at least grab it and keep it occupied for five seconds to get it to the toilet and send it to a watery grave.

And then it was somewhere in the septic tank, and we both slowly climbed back into bed. I considered shaving my head so that every touch of hair on my shoulder did not send me into shrieking horror. I considered shaving the cats. I considered burning the house and moving to a new house that had never had centipedes, or at least the bed, which was now a centipede bed and not a human bed.

And that is why I did not sleep well last night.

Petitions, Change and the R Word.

May. 24th, 2016 08:32 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

So, again, there's an entertainer, this time a comedian, who is using vile and hateful words in a routine about people with intellectual disabilities. I saw this several weeks ago, alerted to it by someone on Facebook and when I watched it I was sickened and felt immediately hopeless. I found the petition, signed the petition, and moved on. Then I received a message asking me specifically to blog about this comedian and give my take on his routine and his use of the word. I don't write blogs on command, and I need to be clear no demand was made but I felt the pressure of the request combined with the sense that I should do something.

I have nothing new to say.

I've said it all before.

I know that he knows that the word is offensive, his defense is something akin to 'but it's comedy' and with that the suggestion that we should all just lighten up. But here's the thing, he knows. I know he knows. Ruby and Sadie knew that name calling and mocking people was wrong when they were three. So. He knows. He's making a choice. And, he's making a name for himself at the same time. I'm frustrated because I don't want my protest or our upset to advance his career and if you look him up, that's what seems to be happening.

So. He knows what he's doing. And. It's working.

Some people are so desperate for fame and fortune that they don't mind engaging in behaviour that children would be sent to the corner for. He's one of those. His vile routine is vile. He knows it, we know it and this blog ain't gonna make one bit of difference.

But, in the end, it wasn't his routine that left me feeling hopeless. I felt all sorts of things, anger, disgust and incredulity at the level of hateful ignorance spewed, but I didn't feel hopeless. What left me feeling hopeless was the audience. They were laughing. Some of them were laughing, hard.

And that, my friends, is our fault.

I took a stand against the r-word a very long time ago. I knew it as a hurtful word because of the work that I did in abuse prevention training. I've had that workshop stopped over and over again to find the audience of people with disabilities wanted to talk about bullying and they wanted name calling considered as abuse and the 'r word' as hate. They've been clear from the get go. A long while ago, in 2003 the BBC did a poll which asked people with disabilities what was the most offensive word used in relation to disability and, even then, the 'r word' was number one. So, it's been a long while the people with disabilities have identified what's considered offensive language. When a people state that certain words are hurtful and hateful, I figure the only response is to listen.

Now, back to the audience laughing.

I'm betting that every single one of them has in their social circles, those who have disabilities, those who parent people with disabilities, those who are siblings of people with disabilities, those who work with people who have disabilities ... I'll bet. Those people they know, that's us folks. That's the length and breadth of the disability community.

Why aren't we using our voice and our power? Why aren't we talking to friends and family and, everyone we can, about respectful language? Why aren't we raising our voice when strangers use hateful words within our hearing? Why aren't we making it clear that words hit, like a fist?

Let him spout his hateful routine.

Our job is to stop the laughter.

Our job is to create audiences that won't accept bigotry and hate as humour.

Our job is to speak up, speak out and speak clearly.

Yes, sign the petition.

But I worry about these damn petitions, even though I think they are important, but I worry that people will think that they've done now. Petition is signed, contribution made.

No first sign the petition and then petition others to change how they use language and change how they respond to language and change how they react to hate.

I'll tell you this, no on in my social circle would ever use the 'r word' around me. Never. Most of them wouldn't have anyway but some have learned, from me, that the word hurts and, because of that, they've stopped. We can all do that.

It'll take time.

But let's take his audience from him.

That's the most powerful thing we can do.
[syndicated profile] muslimahmedia_feed

Posted by sobia

Last month, Beyonce released her latest visual album, Lemonade. And the responses have been numerous.

On CBC’s q, Naila Keleta-Mae called it masterful and discussed the legacy that Beyonce is creating. Courtney Lee listed the lessons about Black womanhood she sees, over at Sojourner, and the presence of God and Christianity in the album, over at Women in Theology. At The Guardian, Ijeoma Oluo writes about how the album is about much more than infidelity and Jay Z. Rather, she states, the album is about “the love that black women have – the love that threatens to kill us, makes us crazy and makes us stronger than we should ever have to be” while Brentin Mock over at CityLab explains the “porch-front politics” of the album. Miriam Bale speaks of the Black feminism of the album. And Evelyn from the Internets summed up her thoughts, and the album, in this video. These were just a few responses among many.

As a non-Black Muslim woman I am not going to dissect this album. In fact, I’m not really talking about the album at all, or Beyonce even. The album was made for Black women and is for them to speak about, write about, and discuss. Here, I share and discuss some questions I have in relation to certain discourses which are common in Muslim communities when it comes to sex, sexuality, and women – questions which arise from my being both a Muslim woman and a feminist. In this piece I find myself thinking out loud about the Muslim community when it comes to issues of women’s sexuality and sexual expression.

Question 1: Are Beyonce’s music and videos too sexual and thus offensive?

It is common in Muslim communities that when it comes to women, modesty (often defined in a very particular and rigid way) in clothing and discretion and secrecy in regard to sexuality are promoted as virtues. Those assumed to be violating these virtues are judged to be poor Muslims having the same type of eye-rolling childish disgust for God that a rebellious teenager might have for their out-of-touch, oh-so-boring parents. This is why this question pops into my mind.  Especially since in Beyonce’s videos the clothing of the women, the dance moves, and sometimes the scenes depicted do often have a sexualized component to them.

An image from Beyonce's visual album Lemonade. Via The Independent.

An image from Beyonce’s visual album Lemonade. Via The Independent.

However, how do we, as Muslim feminists, then incorporate the feminist values of bodily autonomy, sexual independence, freedom of choice, and freedom of expression – especially for marginalized women – into the conversation? How do we challenge traditional Islamic ideas of sexualization and objectification (i.e. the more a woman covers the less she is objectified) when the traditional, Islamic definitions of these constructs are so linked to faithful practice for so many Muslims? In other words, if most Muslims view a “covered-up” woman as a good Muslim, dutifully following God’s orders, while viewing a Muslim woman in “revealing” clothing as actively defying God, then how do we change that view without also challenging tenets of faith?

But then, shouldn’t we be challenging these tenets of faith that correlate a woman’s piety and worth with her clothing? After all, such correlations are oppressive. They are misogynistic. They do feed victim-blaming. They do place the burden of morality on the shoulders of women, and only women. They do reduce a Muslim woman’s faith to the cloth covering her body, despite that fact that we know our faith is about SO MUCH MORE than that. So much more.

Public sexual expression is viewed as offensive within many, if not most, Muslim communities. Yet, being able to choose one’s own method of sexual expression can often be a form of empowerment, especially for marginalized women. How do we, then, create space, safe space, for that within our communities while respecting our traditions?

Question 2: Do we need to protect our children from the sexual images in her videos?

I get it. Parents do need to monitor what their children watch. Children are impressionable and the complexity of the many images they come across in the media will be difficult for them to comprehend appropriately. As someone who does not have children, I cannot tell parents how to parent. (Even if I had children I wouldn’t do that.) I will, however, say that considering it is very difficult to hide sexualized images from children, Muslim parents need to ask themselves, explicitly, how they will explain such images when their children see them. They should have answers prepared that will not perpetuate the objectification and dehumanization of women and girls. They should have answers prepared that will teach boys to respect women regardless of their clothing. They should have answers that will not result in children being ashamed of their genitals or curves, rather answers that will encourage them to be comfortable with and respect their bodies.

They should also have answers that will not perpetuate dangerous, racist tropes about the bodies of Black women. Considering the pervasiveness of racism among non-Black Muslims toward Black Muslims, and considering we’re talking about Beyonce’s work (and the political implications of her work for Black people) in this post, this one is really important.  

Question  3: Should Beyonce should be promoted to Muslim girls as someone to admire?

Beyonce’s feminism is well known, though not everyone is convinced, including Black women. bell hooks recently criticized Lemonade as a project in which “violence is made to look sexy and eroticized” while other feminists of colour debated and discussed hooks’ argument. Although her expression of feminism has been critiqued and questioned, some young Muslim women have embraced her as feminist. Lemonade has been hailed a Black feminist album, all about and for Black women. Her recent work is political, speaking on issue of race and gender. Yet, in light of questions s 1 and 2 I wonder if many Muslims (as well as others) will not recognize her contributions to the discourses on social justice.  

I understand that feminism itself is a difficult thing to define. Personally, my opinion on feminists is the same as my opinion on Muslims – if someone says they are, then they are. Others can’t kick them out of the club because others don’t agree with their beliefs. But I find myself very uncomfortable with those who dismiss her messages, and her power, because they are hung up on her sexual expression.

Female leadership and autonomy within the Muslim community face a lot of opposition and antagonism. Patriarchal interpretations of the texts have meant male leaders have always tried to control Muslim women, and the messaging Muslim women receive regarding their own roles and rights. Muslim women re-interpreting texts and/or providing guidance, leadership, and inspiration to young Muslims has disrupted that male-centric narrative, prompting a backlash at times from some Muslim men. Though, to be fair, while some women leaders have often been rejected by many Muslim men, others have been accepted.*

If Muslim women can receive a negative response, non-Muslim women who may inspire Muslim women will no doubt face opposition for their influence. More so, if they dress provocatively and challenge traditional ideas on sexual expression. But then that leaves me thinking about the kind of opposition a Muslim woman who simultaneously challenges systems of patriarchy as well as traditional ideas on sexual expression would receive. Will our Muslim communities accept those Muslim women as role models who challenge traditional dress codes by engaging in overt forms of sexual expression? Will a Muslim woman’s sexuality always be so top-of-mind that her fights for social justice and equity will be drowned out in comparison? Will a Muslim woman who wears short shorts while protesting injustice be seen as lacking inspirational character because of her clothing?

My conclusion?

I have too many questions. How do we, or can we, incorporate sexual inclusion and safety while maintaining traditional and mainstream Islamic ideas on sexuality? Should we challenge these traditional ideas? Can we as a Muslim community work hard to stop the perpetuation of misogyny? Will our Muslim communities accept the leadership of women who challenge traditional ideas of sexuality?

And, who thought Beyonce could be a catalyst for these discussions?

*I recognize that there are racial implications in this discussion of who is an acceptable leader in the Muslim community. It was outside the scope of this piece to discuss them, and the race of who non-Black Muslims accept as leader is intertwined with gender.

[syndicated profile] tanehisicoates_feed

Posted by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I finished the first volume of Alan Moore’s  Swamp Thing earlier this week. I don’t think I’ve ever read a more compelling—or sadder—opening issue of a comic book.  This right here is all TNC-bait defined:

Swamp Thing #20. Pencils: Denis Day. Colors: Tatjana Wood.

In case this is hard to see, the words read as follows:

Frame #1

“I had to come, Arcane.”

“I had to be sure.”

Frame #2

“Oh, I know I saw your ship falling and burning. I know I saw it..Drop like a wounded sun...exploding beyond the mountains. I know you that you couldn’t have survived.”

“But I didn’t...hear the rattle in your windpipe. I didn’t see….the glaze crawl over your eyes. I didn’t see the body, Arcane...”

Frame #3

“...And I learned that if you don’t see the body...”

“...then the rotten stuff...just keeps coming back.”

For me, the best thing about writing comics is how it takes me back to everything I loved about writing poetry. The game of spacing and efficiency is so challenging and so important. Moore proves himself a master of both here—in three frames he gives you something of Swamp Thing’s compulsions and loneliness. There’s a progressive, forward energy in the first lines—“I had to come, Arcane”—that leaves us wondering what, specifically, could be so important that he had to come. And then the answer slowly dribbles out an air-ship “falling and burning” dropping “like a wounded sun...exploding beyond the mountains,” the angsty feeling, native to the marvelous world of comics, of thinking an antagonist dead but not hearing “the rattle in [their] windpipe,” not seeing “the glaze crawl over [their] eyes,” of never seeing “the body.”

Read On »

[syndicated profile] tnc_atlantic_feed

Posted by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I finished the first volume of Alan Moore’s  Swamp Thing earlier this week. I don’t think I’ve ever read a more compelling—or sadder—opening issue of a comic book.  This right here is all TNC-bait defined:

Swamp Thing #20. Pencils: Denis Day. Colors: Tatjana Wood.

In case this is hard to see, the words read as follows:

Frame #1

“I had to come, Arcane.”

“I had to be sure.”

Frame #2

“Oh, I know I saw your ship falling and burning. I know I saw it..Drop like a wounded sun...exploding beyond the mountains. I know you that you couldn’t have survived.”

“But I didn’t...hear the rattle in your windpipe. I didn’t see….the glaze crawl over your eyes. I didn’t see the body, Arcane...”

Frame #3

“...And I learned that if you don’t see the body...”

“...then the rotten stuff...just keeps coming back.”

For me, the best thing about writing comics is how it takes me back to everything I loved about writing poetry. The game of spacing and efficiency is so challenging and so important. Moore proves himself a master of both here—in three frames he gives you something of Swamp Thing’s compulsions and loneliness. There’s a progressive, forward energy in the first lines—“I had to come, Arcane”—that leaves us wondering what, specifically, could be so important that he had to come. And then the answer slowly dribbles out an air-ship “falling and burning” dropping “like a wounded sun...exploding beyond the mountains,” the angsty feeling, native to the marvelous world of comics, of thinking an antagonist dead but not hearing “the rattle in [their] windpipe,” not seeing “the glaze crawl over [their] eyes,” of never seeing “the body.”

Read On »

NRA: A grief ignored

May. 23rd, 2016 09:51 pm
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

As the lone church elder presiding over the viewing of his late friend Bruce Barnes, Rayford Steele has the opportunity to minister to a congregation racked with grief. But that's boring. So instead, "Rayford let his mind wander" and he and the authors ignore the grieving in order to awkwardly cram in some strange exposition.

Tor.com question

May. 23rd, 2016 01:26 pm
[syndicated profile] lois_mcmaster_bujold_feed
So, I've been checking in now and then with the Vorkosigan Reread series over on Tor.com --


In the last couple of weeks, the posts have stopped showing the comments section. Has anyone else experienced this? Any idea what's causing the glitch?

Puzzled, L.

posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on May, 23
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Until as late as the 1950s, there was no widely accepted set of terms that referred to whether people were attracted to the same or the other sex. Same-sex sexual activity happened, and people knew that, but it was thought of as a behavior, not an identity. It was believed that people had sex with same-sex others not because they were constitutionally different, but because they gave in to an urge they were supposed to resist. People who never indulged homosexual desires weren’t considered straight; they were simply morally upright.

Today our sexual object choices are generally believed to reflect more than a feeling; they are part of who we are: as a static, essential identity, one that it inborn and unchanging. And we have a plethora of language to describe one’s “sexual orientation”: asexual, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, polysexual, demisexual, and more. It has been, as Michel Foucault put it, “a multiplication of sexualities.”

Undoubtedly, this has value. These words, for example, give a name to feelings that have in recent history been difficult to understand. They also enable sexual minorities to find community and organize. If they can come together under the same label, they can join together for self-care and the promotion of social change.

These labels, though — and the belief in sexual orientation as an identity instead of just a behavior — also create their own voids of possibility. It’s significantly less possible today, for example, for a person to feel sexual urges for someone unexpected and dismiss them as irrelevant to their essential self. Because sexual orientation is an identity, those feelings jump start an identity crisis. If a person has those feelings, it’s difficult these days to shrug them off (but see Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men). Once one comes to embrace an identity, then all sexual urges that conflict with it must be repressed or explained away, lest the person undergo yet another identity crisis that results in yet another label.

This train of thought was inspired by this anonymous secret sent into the Post Secret project:


“Even though I’m a gay man,” he says, “I still sometimes think about women’s breasts.” I AM, he says, a GAY MAN. It is something he is, essential and unchanging. Yet he has a feeling that doesn’t obey his identity: an interest in women’s breasts. So, “even though” he is gay, he finds himself distracted by something about the female body. It is a conundrum, a identity problem, even a secret that he perhaps confesses only anonymously. To be open about it would be to call into question who he and others think he is, to embark on a crisis.

But none of this is at all necessary. It is only because we’ve decided that our sexual urges should be translated into an identity that thinking about women’s breasts seems incompatible with a primary orientation toward men. In a world of no labels at all, one in which sexual orientation is not an idea that we acknowledge, people’s sexual urges would be nothing more than that. And if that world was free of homophobia and heterocentrism, then we would act or not act on whichever urges we felt as we wished. It wouldn’t be a thing.

Most people think that the multiplication of sexualities is a good thing. From this point of view, language that can describe our urges, however imperfectly, makes those urges more visible and normalized, especially if we can make a case that they are inborn and unchanging, just a part of who we are. I don’t disagree.

But I see advantages, too, to a different system in which we don’t use any labels at all, where the object of one’s sexual attraction is an irrelevant detail or, at least, just one of the many, many, many things that come together to make someone sexy to us. In this world, we would be no more surprised to find ourselves attracted to a man one day and a woman the next than a construction worker one day and a lawyer the next, or a tall person one day and a short one the next, or an extrovert one day and an introvert the next. It would be just part of the messy, complicated, ever-shifting, works in mysterious ways thing that is the chemistry of sexual attraction. Nobody would have to have angst about it, seek support for it, defend it, or confess it as a secret. We would just… be.

Maybe the idea of sexual orientation was critical to the Gay Liberation movement’s goals of normalizing same-sex love and attraction, but I wonder if sexual liberation in the long run would be better served by abandoning the concept altogether. Perhaps a real sexual utopia doesn’t fetishize privilege genitals as the one true determinant of our sexualities. Maybe it simply puts them in their rightful place as tools for pleasure and reproduction, but not the end-all and be-all of who we are.

Lisa Wade is a professor at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. Find her on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

(View original at https://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

The Abandoned Abandon

May. 23rd, 2016 12:51 pm
[syndicated profile] lovelybike_feed

Posted by Velouria

The plan was fairly modest: to cycle from Derry city to the village of Gortahork in Donegal. On paper the route is not an especially difficult one: less than 60 miles, with 3,000ft of climbing. So what has been holding me back from making the trip all this time, even as I would sigh wistfully at the thought of doing it "soon"?

The region itself is daunting. With mountain-framed swathes of bogland and nowhere to shelter for miles and miles, Western Donegal is a harsh, temperamental place, that makes rural County Derry feel tame and cuddly by comparison. I've cycled lots in the area since moving here and know it fairly well by now. But most of the rides I do are loops, or figure 8s, or various other shapes that keep me close enough to home at any given moment. If only psychologically, a 60 mile trip in a straight line would feel quite different.

Which brings me to another point - the main point, probably - that I am more than a little embarrassed to admit: It has been a while since I've cycled any notable distance on my own. I blame it on having friends and a husband who, increasingly, enjoy keeping me company on two wheels. Because, wonderful as that is, somewhere along the line my sense of independence has dulled. I now get "lonely," when I go out on the bike by myself - an emotion I never used to experience. More worryingly, I've noticed myself questioning my very ability to handle cycle rides on my own (but what if something happens?), putting them off until such a time that someone else could join me.

This weekend, though I'd decided this had to end. The forecast looked decent. The distance was manageable. I had a prototype roadbike on my hands that needed testing and a friend whom I wanted to see on her birthday. That morning I woke up to blue skies and balmy air, got dressed, and set off.

Alas I did not get far. Just outside Derry an outburst of rain, sudden and violent, sent me scrambling off the bike to hide under a bridge, to avoid getting drenched. But I remained optimistic. We've had a few days with short and heavy bursts of rain like this, and I've learned it is best to wait them out and keep dry - they pass quickly enough. So at first, I waited under the bridge sticking my head out now and again to check the sky. But the more I waited, the more it started to look as if the rain was't passing. It seemed to only be getting worse.

I checked my phone for the live weather report in hopes it would contradict what my eyes were seeing. But the former forecast of cloudy/ 12mph winds was now replaced with thunderstorms / 19mph winds. Feeling betrayed by the weather, I wanted to write a strongly worded letter. No, I wanted to shout at it, to shame it, to make it feel guilty. Demand that it keep its promises.

My phone was now buzzing with text messages.

thinking of you and a bit worried...
weather's turned crap!

listen, conditions have changed: 
strong winds, storms; I suggest abandon.

Well, there was my mistake, I thought: telling people my plans! Did I secretly want to be dissuaded from doing this ride? Has it really come to that?

The temperature dropped and my teeth began to chatter - in rhythm, it seemed, with my waves of frustration.

Just then a crowd of club cyclists, dripping wet as if they'd emerged from a swimming pool, ducked under the bridge beside me. Once they had finished swearing and wringing out their jerseys, the mobile phones came out. Spouses were phoned for a rescue.

Somehow seeing them do this was the last straw, and I knew that I too would have to abandon my plans. I decided to make a run for the cafe across the road, have some breakfast, then brace myself for the soaking and make my way back.

The cafe - which I'd never been to before - was fancier inside than I had imagined, with leisurely sit-down service rather than ordering at the till. With nothing to do while waiting for my food I took advantage of the wifi and looked over the weather again on my phone, just to be sure. Derry: severe thunderstorms. Damn it.

But as I poked at my Eggs Benedict and black pudding, I suddenly had a thought which I immediately felt stupid for not having earlier.

What about my destination? And the points along the way? With renewed vigor I scrolled through the latest forecasts.

Gortahork: partly cloudy, chances of showers after 5pm
Dunlewy: cloudy, chances of showers after 5pm
Letterkenny: cloudy, chances of showers after 2 pm.
Newtown Cunningham: showers.

Right. So if I could tolerate cycling in pretty severe rain to start with, chances were it would taper off after mile 10 and end altogether after mile 20.

I gave this some thought. I had nothing to prove, and certainly if I wanted to turn back I could. It was just me after all, not some organised event. On the other hand, if it was only rain - no lightning, hail, or locusts - where was the harm? It wasn't as if I'd never gotten soaked on a bike before. And so, energised by the food and two cups of coffee, I abandoned my decision to abandon.

From the moment I resolved to push on, I tried not to think about it too much. Here's the bike. There's the road. Point it west. Go!

It's true what they say: You get used to cycling in the rain. Even in severe rain. Even with no mudguards. Even without proper rain gear. Sure it feels strange at first, to have streams of water running down your face and to feel yourself drenched to the bone. But after a while it just becomes the new normal. I promise!

As my tyres hissed through running water and a massive headwind assailed me, I relaxed and told myself reassuringly: The stuff that is happening now? It is already happening! Conditions can't get any worse and I'm doing just fine. (This, of course, I knew perfectly well wasn't true: The weather, like life itself, could always get worse in new and inventive ways. But just then I chose to forget this fact for the sake of my sanity.)

To counteract the temperature drop I increased my pedaling cadence, and this worked surprisingly well to keep me reasonably comfortable in my soaked wool/lycra layers along the rolling terrain.

I climbed out of Derry via the backroads toward Newtown Cunningham, immediately crossing the North/South border (identifiable only by the road signs changing from miles to kilometers). I then descended to join the main road to Letterkenny - a dual carriageway with high speed traffic, which was the part of my route I had been most nervous about. However, in weather like this the main road proved rather fabulous: an uninterrupted super-wide shoulder meant that cars were now passing within several feet, rather than several inches of me. Somewhere on my right, I knew, was Lough Swilly - obscured now by all the waterfall action and cloud cover, yet somehow still sensed out there, beyond the flow of multi-lane traffic. The miles flew by as I pedaled alongside its imagined banks. And before I knew it I was nearly in Letterkenny.

Now, as anybody local will tell you, the industrial sprawl nightmare that is the town of Letterkenny - aside from being one of the least scenic places in Donegal - is a horror to navigate in any vehicle. Aclutter with misleadingly signposted roundabouts, logic-defying one way roads, and aggressive drivers grown deranged by circling the place endlessly due to both of the former, a cyclist would do best to avoid Letterkenny like the plague. Unfortunately this is quite difficult, as practically every route through Donegal wants to take you directly through it.

Nevertheless there does exist a "secret" backroad. It skirts Letterkenny coyly, approaching here, retreating there, without ever going directly through it; a tree-lined paradise with exactly zero roundabouts and hardly any car traffic. You do pay for this with a bit (okay, kind of a lot) of climbing. But the height gain also means that you get a surprisingly lovely view of the town from a vantage point that somehow actually manages to make it look nice.

Thus bypassing civilisation entirely, I continued along the back roads through Church Hill, to the Glenveagh National Park. Somewhere along the way the rain had stopped, and I hadn't even noticed. When I finally did notice, it was almost with regret. We had grown to be friends, the rain and I; it had kept me company. Was that a crazy thought? At mile 30 it was really far too early to be raving.

An aside on milage in Ireland: As I have mentioned a few times before, there is something about the roads' surface here that makes them noticeably more effortful to cycle on than, say, paved American roads. One experienced cyclist I know who rides in both New England and Ireland regularly, reckons you have to mentally add 50% to the Irish milage to calculate "equivalent American milage." So in other words, cycling 40 miles in Ireland feels like cycling 60 paved miles in the US. Cycling 60 miles in Ireland feels equivalent to 90 miles in the US. And so on. In my own experience, this is fairly accurate. So, if you are planning a cycle tour here and are trying to get a sense of what kind of distances you'll feel comfortable doing, just be aware of this.

Around this point I began to grow a little tired on the stretch of backroads to the Glenveagh National park - a continuous climb through (the name should have tipped me off) Church Hill. It was then I realised that I hadn't actually paused to rest the entire ride. So finally I stopped and took a little break on the side of the road and sent some texts to let people know I was doing fine. After that I was good as new. The only real discomfort I was having, was that my shorts, having gotten thoroughly wet in the rain, were chafing a bit. But otherwise I was grand. It was all coming back to me now - what it was like, to do this - to go off on my own into uncharted territory, with no one's company for reassurance. It was "me," this kind of trip. More so than the social ride, the club ride, the organised brevet, even the lovely couple rides I had grown so fondly attached to. It was this lone, explorative type of ride that drew me into cycling in the first place.

As you travel west through Donegal, the Glenveagh National Park is where it really begins. It being: the bogs, the mountains, the vastness, the isolation. The general heathery peaty mossyness with zero buildings or even people as far as the eye can see in any direction. The miles upon miles where there is nothing to indicate to the eye that you are actually moving. Once they appear in sight, the two iconic mountains become quite important here - the pointy, quartz-tipped Errigal and the lumpy, flat-top Muckish. They act as orienting markers, and the eye hangs on to them for comfort, for anchoring.

My mind wiped clean by this landscape, I felt in a strange sense renewed as I prepared to climb the Muckish Gap - a stunning, winding backroad along the edge of this steep-sided mountain. This road would take me finally to the coast, to Falcarragh and Gortahork, via what is known as the Bridge of Tears - a place where, in centuries past, emigrants out of Ireland would pause to say their final good-byes to family, before persisting in their long and tedious trek to the nearest seaport. Whenever I pass this bridge, in the reverse direction, and usually on a bicycle, I am always conscious of being the opposite: an immigrant, coming in rather than wanting out.

And just why do I like it here anyway? I don't know, except that I do. I like even the harshness of it. Even the wind and the rain. Even (especially) the bog.

I found it interesting to learn that in Irish the word "bog" means soft. It's a nice word that gives the boggy landscape a positive connotation. Relaxing and gentle, not menacing. Pliable, not tyrannical. Inviting, not dirty.

In the final stretch, I mulled this over, thinking how happy I felt to not have abandoned my plans to do this ride on my own after all. Can every harshness be reframed as a softness, I wondered? Every pain as just a different type of sensation? Maybe not. But sometimes it is worth it, to try.


May. 23rd, 2016 02:06 pm
[syndicated profile] wonders_and_marvels_feed

Posted by PamelaToler

By Pamela Toler (Regular Contributor)


Juggernaut cart in Bangalore, India, ca. 1870. Image courtesy of Leiden University Library

In the twelfth century, an Indian ruler built an important temple at Puri, in modern Orissa, where the Hindu god Krishna was worshiped in the form of Jagannatha (Lord of the World). The most important of the annual festivals associated with the Jagannatha temple was the Chariot Festival. The god’s image was placed in a highly decorated wagon and taken on procession from the temple to the country house of the god. The wagon was so heavy that it takes hundreds of worshipers to move it. The procession was accompanied by thousands of pilgrims, who crowd around the wagon. Between the crush of the crowd and the weight of the wagon, accidents were common. Occasionally an ecstatic pilgrim threw himself under the wagon’s wheels.

Quiet devotions by individual worshipers don’t make much of a story. Huge crowds and an inexorable wagon that crushes worshipers under its wheels? The stuff that travelers’ tales are made of. As early as the 14th century, European travelers in India were fascinated by the story of the Chariot Festival, and the worshipers who “cast themselves under the chariot, so that its wheels may go over them, saying that they desire to die for their god.” (Friar Odoric, c 1321. Just to give an example.)

In the nineteenth century, more than one responsible British official checked the Orissa province records and reported that the instances of death by chariot wheel were greatly exaggerated. It didn’t do any good. The story of the chariot of Jagannatha had become a metaphorical juggernaut, capable of crushing mere facts beneath its wheels.

Always Becoming

May. 23rd, 2016 07:48 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Image description: A line drawing of a smart phone showing the scores I predict for the game this evening, Cavs 101 and Raptors 123

It's odd that people expect you to be who they think you are, all the time, without variation. Let me tell you something that happened yesterday and then go on to the bigger point. I was chatting with someone during the Raptors game and apologized, telling them that I was going to occasionally check the score of the game as we talked. We were just chatting, it wasn't a meeting or anything, and in my apology I acknowledge that I never do this, I don't like it when other people do it, but I was going to do it anyways.

The issue that arose wasn't about my rude behaviour in checking my phone for the score, it was that I was interested in the score at all. The person I was chatting with said, "But you don't like sports." I acknowledged that this was true, I don't watch sports games. "So, then you like sports now, when did that change?" I looked up at the semi angry tone, and said, "It hasn't changed, I don't like or watch sports, I just want to know what the score is. I'm keeping track." Ice came into the conversation. Again, not about my using the phone but what I was using it for. I asked, "Does it bother you that I'm keeping track of the score?" I was told, "I just didn't know you liked sports now." It was hard keeping my voice level, "I don't like sports, I don't follow them. I'm not doing this because I'm a fan of the Raptors, I'm doing it because I'm a fan of Toronto. This has the city excited, I want to join in, it's my city too, I hope they do really well." "Well, the Dave I used to know would never be interested in the score of a game."


I let it go, changed the subject and, yes, stopped checking the score.

I have thought a lot recently, as I'm getting older, that I don't want to be hemmed in by how others see me and what others have come to expect of me, except for things like manners and politeness and other good things like that, and I don't want to be hemmed in by how I see myself and what I have come to expect of me. I want to continually surprise myself, with myself. I don't want to grow old and stagnant, I want to keep thinking and acting and doing and I want a lifetime of forever becoming.

So, I ran into someone who reads my blog yesterday, and I did the day before to but that's another story for another time, and after chatting for a bit, they said, "I have to say, you aren't like I expected at all." I said, "Oh, dear, I hope you aren't disappointed." The said, to my shock, "Well, I kind of am."


What do you say to that.

They thought I'd be funnier and I'd be deeper (how can you be deep in a momentary interaction of introduction) and somehow more profound. Shit. You know in real life, I speak words that come at the moment, on the blog I write words that I think about. There's a difference.

I want to be different this time next year. I want to see the world differently. I want my heart to have been well exercised and be able to stretch to encompass more of the world. I want to have laughed more, I never want, as I have tragically seen, my laughter to rust inside me.

So if we run into each other, expect a very ordinary man, who does things in a very ordinary way and a man who loves the very extraordinary ordinariness of life. Please don't expect 'Dave' the creature that this blog implies I am.


Let me check the scores of the game tonight.

Go Raptors!

Sea Otter Uses a Rock to Open a Shell

May. 23rd, 2016 10:43 am
[syndicated profile] daily_otter_feed

Posted by Daily Otter

Sea Otter Uses a Rock to Open a Shell

Via Ingrid Taylar, who writes, “You can see s/he is holding the shell in the front paws, and when I took this shot, was smashing it over and over against the stones.”

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Posted by nicole

One of the rare books I didn’t read in French first (and as such cannot vouch for the translation), Asma Lamrabet’s Women in the Qu’ran: An Emancipatory Reading is a short (just under 170 pages) and uplifting read.  The book is definitely an interesting contribution to scholarship on women in Islam, and i found it quite digestible and enjoyable.

I have neither the scholarship in Islam nor the mastery of language to offer any in-depth criticism of Ms. Lamrabet’s exegesis or analysis, and I don’t think this review should be about that anyway.  The tone of the book is such that it can be read by a broad audience (so kudos to the translator for that), and the length of the book is such that I don’t think it is meant to be a definitive work on anything; rather, this book is a starting point for discussion(s).  So if you are looking for me to confirm or deny her explanations of the Qu’ran, I am not going to do that, because it is not my place and not really the goal of this review

So as a simple casual reader and a (Muslim) woman, I was already drawn in by the introduction, Especially given that this book was first published in French (and would presumably be read by a French/Francophone audience), I loved how the tone was set right in the introduction: Ms. Lamrabet talks about the status of women in Islam, making a distinction between interpretations coming from a “rigid, conservative Islamic approach” and a “Western, Islamophobic and ethnocentric approach.”  Yes please.

Then there was a sly clap back aimed at the media and their darlings who talk about/for Muslim women, where she points out (page 6),

“it is sad to note that Muslim women who are rebelling against the alleged ‘diktats’ of the religion are those the most heard and given the greatest amount of airtime…this is not surprising in and of itself, since the only acceptable or even expected critique in Western circles today is that which challenges the Islamic tradition.”  

Tell me more, Ms. Lamrabet, tell me more.

The introductory chapter, “In the Beginning” tells the story of Adam and Eve, with the author pointing out that the language of the Adam and Eve story is not gendered and states on page 12 that there is “ no qu’ranic affirmation which specifies that the Adam of this initial creation was male and even less that Eve was drawn from one of his ribs!” This is a change from the more historically accepted accounts of Eve being created from Adam’s rib, for example.

After the introduction, the book is divided into two large sections: “When the Qu’ran Speaks of Women” and “When the Qu’ran Speaks to Women.” These sections are then divided into smaller sections telling stories of or about women in the Qu’ran.

Section One is divided out into stories of Balqis (the Queen of Sheba), Sarah and Hagar, Umm Musa and Asiah, and Maryam.  Of these, I especially loved Ms. Lamrabet’s analysis of Balqis. How did we get from having a powerful female leader like Balqis thousands of years ago to women being denied even political participation today? On page 28, Ms. Lamrabet notes,

“The description which the Qur’an makes of this woman head of state is in and of itself an undeniable refutation of all the allegations of the hyper-emotionalism of women who are said to reason less well than men due to the hyperemotivity of their personality and who, according to the same logic, cannot lead, politically speaking, an entire people!”

In Section Two, Ms. Lamrabet goes through occasions in the Qu’ran which involve: “Responding to feminist demands”, “Encouraging women’s social preparation”, “Female political refugees”, “The political participation of women” and “When God listens to the secrets of a woman.”  Of these I enjoyed a point made in the section regarding women’s social participation (page 105):

“Islamic history is replete with stories which illustrate the Muslim community at the time of the Prophet was a community of men and women and that they worked together side by side for the good of all, without losing themselves in secondary considerations.”

She develops this in the next paragraph:

“How have we arrived today at the point of developing impulses for separation between the sexes in all social congregations, in the name of Islam, and imagining extraordinary strategies to separate feminine and masculine spaces with the objective of proving that the social act in itself is very Islamic? We obsessively hold to appearances when what should actually be Islamic is our behavior towards one another.”

Preach.  I have a major problem with gender norms being used to control or stop women’s behavior, as if we are the ones who need to be behaving “more.” How can we reconcile platitudes about Muslim women being given their rights with these same men using so-called Islamic tradition to shut us down by not even allowing us to sit at the table?

Cover of Women in the Qu'ran. Via Kube Publishing.

Cover of Women in the Qu’ran. Via Kube Publishing.

The conclusion left me with something else along the same lines to think about that really stood out (page 161): “How could the earliest Muslim women have acceded to these spaces of freedom, of knowledge and power, fourteen centuries ago when today they are forbidden access to these same spaces in the name of this same Islam?” This is something I have wondered about in the past, often times upon hearing the stories of Aisha and Khadija. Aisha had an obvious place amongst men which modern Muslim women do not always enjoy.  I felt this again reading the story of Balqis in the first half of the book. If these are our female Muslim role models, then why are we being told today not to occupy the very spaces they did and that wanting that kind of role for ourselves is in itself unIslamic? Surely there is a middle ground between rejecting orthodoxy and rejecting Islam in order to reclaim our place.

In closing, I liked this book and thought it was a fun, thought-provoking read. If you are a woman, like me, who is tired of people coming up with the whole “Islam gave women all their rights” argument (which Ms. Lamrabet addresses at several points throughout the book) to shut things down when practice says otherwise, this book will cheer you up. Some criticisms exist of Ms. Lambrabet either avoiding or glossing over problematic topics in the Islamic tradition (like polygamy, although I think she has been reasonably clear on that topic in a number of sources), or of her methodology being weak. As such, people looking for drier or deeper subject matter may be disappointed, but as I mentioned above, I don’t think the endgame of this book is to change the world but rather to start a discussion on the place of women in our religion beyond platitudes of “Islam gave women their rights, what more can you ask for?”  And Women in the Qu’ran is a good place to start that discussion.  

A copy of this book was graciously provided by Kube Publishing for consideration.  

5-22-16 Journal

May. 22nd, 2016 09:42 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed

I am starting to suspect that I am staring down the barrel of a plague. Woo.

At The Intersection

May. 22nd, 2016 06:02 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Image Description: A drawing of a construction tunnel on a sidewalk with the words 'D'ANGER ZONE' written in red capital letters  inside the space created by construction materials.
We were in one of those construction tunnels. They are hell for me. They make the sidewalk so narrow, and though there is room for me on one side and you on the other, many non-disabled people, for the most part, are terrible at seeing space the same way I do, the same way many disabled people do. They get terrified faces, stop and plaster themselves against the side. None of it is necessary. If they walked normally, we'd pass with no problem. So, when Joe and I are approaching one, he says, go ahead and I'll meet you on the other side. I enter and go as quickly as I can to get through.

This time, going quickly was not an option. An elderly woman, a very small woman, was walking with a walker. She was very, very, very slow. Slow.  She would lift her walker with effort, move it ahead by a half an inch or so and then set it down and take the step. Then, she'd take a breath, and do it all over again. It was labourious and have I said, slow. I understand what it is to be rushed and what it is to be seen as in the way. I am working to become someone who learns from the life I live. It's interesting that when I listen to life's lessons almost all of them end with 'and be a bit more gentle and kind.' I'm not sure why I need this lesson over and over again, but apparently I do. So I roll behind her, leaving enough space for her not to feel me pressing down on her, and wait for an opportunity to pass.

Oh, and I can pass. Because. There's. Enough. Room. For. Two. People.

The opportunity to pass comes and I pull out and as I'm passing her I hear her voice call out to me. Not in surprise or terror at my use of space, but for my attention. I turn to her. She looks distraught. I pause. We are now blocking the pathway but, miraculously, at that moment there is she and me an Joe who was catching up to where we were. "I wonder if you could ride behind me until I'm out of this," at the word 'this' she waved her hand around indicating the construction tunnel, "people swarm past me, they frighten me, I've nearly been knocked over. I felt safe with you behind me. Would you mind?"

"No," I said.

She walked a few steps forward, there were people now, lots of them, the light had changed, approaching. I got in behind her. Those behind me were bubbling with frustration, because everyone needs to be everywhere but where they are right now. My being there kept her safe from those coming south because they were misjudging my size and creating more space. Those coming from behind couldn't get near her, couldn't flow by her, knock her over, frighten her. It was easy to feel the danger she was in, I felt their anger build up, and for the first time in my life, saw that 90% of danger was made up with anger. Being small. Being slow. And being a woman. I've noticed that woman, too, often have to fight to own space.

As I rode behind her I thought about the courage it would take for her to do what she's doing. She was clearly very aware of the 'rush' epidemic that has our nation in its grip. She would obviously know that she would be stepping, slowly, into the middle of a fast moving stream. And even so, she was there. Going where she needed to go, going at the pace which she was able to go, living the life that she had to live, knowing how she'd be seen and the dangers caused by the frustration and self importance of others.

And she was there.

In her community.


We neared the end of the tunnel. She slowly picked her way down the curb cut and suddenly we were out. She looked to me to thank me, I thanked her for her thank you, I no longer brush thank you's away, they are important words and should be acknowledged not denied.  She said that she'd felt safe for the whole rest of the way. I said that I was glad that I was able to make it safe for her. She reached out and touched my shoulder and said something terribly kind to me. The words touched me and made me cry.

We parted at the curb to the sidewalk on the other side of the street. I'd stayed beside her, partly to have our goodbye conversation but also to ensure that she was safely delivered on the other side. People were flowing like an angry river out of the tunnel and were jostling to get by us.

I left enriched.

I carry the gift of her words in my heart.

She may walk slowly, but she is a woman with deep wisdom. She may be seen as a hindrance by those rushing by. They don't see her. They see a thing in their way. They see something to get by. They see an impediment to their progress. They are wrong. She is, if anything, an amazing opportunity.

Ahoy hoy!

May. 21st, 2016 07:50 pm
[syndicated profile] forget_what_did_feed

Posted by John Finnemore

This week I was honoured to make my first appearance on Radio 4's comedy warhorse Just A Minute, now in its astonishing 75th series, and which I've listened to and enjoyed all my life. It was enormous fun, and the regulars were very kind to me.

Here it is on iPlayer , for the next three weeks or so.  


“Shadow” in Chinuk Wawa

May. 21st, 2016 04:44 pm
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Posted by chinookjargon

From time to time I’ve wondered how to say “shadow” in the Jargon.

chinook shadow

I haven’t found it in the best dictionary, the one from Grand Ronde.

Some authorities have included “shade” and “shadow” as senses of the generic term púlakli (night/dark) in their dictionaries.

Thanks to Samuel V Johnson’s 1978 dissertation, I located the phrase kawkwah ecta for “shadow” from page 24 of John Booth Good’s 1880 booklet.  That literally means “it’s like something” (kákwa íkta in Grand Ronde spelling).  I can imagine this expression working okay in context, where you’d point at the shadow…

But come on:)

I always sensed there ought to be an easy way to achieve a more precise expression.

I found it!

Pus iaka kuli kopa oihat, tilikom
When he would travel along the road, people 

lolo klaska sik tilikom wik saia kopa kah iaka
would bring their sick folks near to where he 

kuli, pus iaka “shado, iaka son cim”
was going along, so his “shadow” [as they say in English], his shadow 

chako kopa klaska pi mamuk kopit klaska sik.
would fall on them and end their sickness.

— Kamloops Wawa #143 (August 1896), page 182

So there you have it: son cim, or in Grand Ronde writing, sán-t’sə́m.  Literally “sun mark”.  Shadow.  Works, eh?

Add this to your dictionary.

I Am A Stranger

May. 21st, 2016 07:54 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Image Description: Drawing of a person in a wheelchair holding a sign reading 'out of order' and underneath is the caption '? answering machine'
Dear Public,

I am a stranger, not a curiosity.

Yesterday I had wheeled myself, without assistance, from a table deep in the back of the food court at a mall to the accessible washroom and from there out through the doors and into the parking lot, I was approaching our car. Now, let me be clear, I saw other people around me. I'm not sure you did, your eyes being only for me and all. I saw a young man with a baby, squirming and crying in his arms, trying to balance the child and the bags he was carrying as he made his way to his car. He walked right by you. I saw a woman, who must have had a shopping explosion, carrying bags and bags and bags of stuff, try to answer her phone as she too made her way to her car. She walked right by you too. You said nothing to them. Nothing. Not a word. But me, you head straight for me like a geek seeking missile. You stop, your eyes which had not left me since you spotted me, trying to smile at me, and in a voice used for a child who has gotten an A on his report card, you said, "And did you push yourself all the way from the mall all by yourself?" I said, which is my response now to strangers who push themselves in on my world, "I'm a stranger, why are you talking to me?" The question threw her off, "Because I care," she answered. I said, "No you don't, you are treating me like a fair ground curiosity, please leave me alone."

Here's something weird, she thought I was rude.

I am a stranger, not a curiosity.

Two days ago, arriving for a meeting, someone passing by stops me and says, "I hope you don't mind me asking, but ..." this is never a good start for a conversation. I said, "I'll answer that now, yes, I do." He didn't stop, he just treated my interjection as a meaningless interruption of  his train of thought. "No, but I'd really like to know why you don't wear shoes." I looked at him and gave him my, "I'm a stranger, why are you talking to me?" I didn't see him rushing around to women teetering on high heel shoes asking them why they wear them, or over to the older guy wearing socks and sandals (I don't care what you say, I think that's a fine look) and asking him why he's wearing those. Why is he selecting me? Well the answer is clear isn't it. "I'm just curious," he said. I said, "I think it's rude to ask strangers personal questions."

Here's something weird, he thought I was rude.

Disabled people do not exist to be education machines for the general public. We aren't like ATMs scattered about where you can push a button and then ask a wildly inappropriate and personal questions. We are people who are unknown to you. So look away and keep your questions to yourself. I don't care if you really want to know. This question answering maching is out of order for questions that are out of order.

I'm not telling you my weight.

I'm not telling you my diagnosis.

I'm not telling you the drugs I take.

I'm not telling you my life expectancy.

I'm not telling you if my penis still works.

I'm not telling you how I let it get so bad.

I'm not telling you ... shit.

I'm a stranger. I'm not a curiosity. I am out doing stuff I want to do. Let me get about it. Don't interrupt my day with questions that you would never ask anyone else.

I'm not speaking for all disabled people, some may feel differently about questions like this ... but for me, if I'm out doing something, involved in my world and in my relationships, let me be.

Apply your curiosity to something more worthy of your attention like, maybe, why you stare at and interrogate disabled people.

Maybe if there was a pony

May. 20th, 2016 08:08 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

I can see now that in terms of blog material, this shawl is going to be a problem. There’s precious little I can do to make it interesting, short of it catching fire or me making a huge mistake (both totally possible, but haven’t happened yet – at least to this project) and all I can really say about it is white. Bigger. More beads.

biggermorebeads 2016-05-20

See? White. Bigger. More beads. In the next 24 hours I’ll bust out the second ball of yarn and have to make a decision about how to join it in – I suppose I can try to make that exciting. Russian join? Spit splice? The drama! The intrigue! Which will I choose! Tune in Monday to see how I did it. (Yeah. I know. I didn’t excite me either.)  Well, here. Let me show you something big and purple to distract you from something big and white.

purplething 2016-05-20

Voila. The worlds top knitwear model came home long enough to hoist my finished Purless.

purpledet 2016-05-20

In the end it turned out that I wasn’t two skeins sad about Prince, but I was about 1.5 skeins of bereft. (The yarn was Shalimar Yarn’s Breathless in Byzantium, and it was delicious) I embiggened the pattern a little bit, doing one more repeat of the fetching triangles before (more or less) going back to the pattern as Romi wrote it. (Towards the end I sort of did my own thing when it came to the short rows, because I had my own unique number of stitches, but It looks like hers.)

purplethingwhole 2016-05-20

It’s soft and so cozy and now that it’s blocked and photographed, the weather has finally warmed up here in Toronto, and there’s absolutely no need for it what so ever. (My apologies to the rest of the city, I forgot that’s how it worked. I would have finished it ages ago if I thought it could have done something about the snow.) I’ll tuck it away for the fall, or maybe even for Christmas, since now that I’m over the terrible shock of Prince’s death, I remember that I don’t really wear purple. (The world’s top knitwear model looks great in it though. Thanks Sam.)

Thanks too for your warm welcome to fundraising season over here… the lot of you are amazing, as always, and Team Knit is well on its way. Let’s celebrate early, with the first round of Karmic Balancing Gifts- there’s so many I’m going to have to really stay on it. (Don’t know how it works? Well, you can read yesterdays post, and that should help. Essentially, you help Team Knit (That’s me, Ken, Pato and Cameron – with honourable mention to Val and Heather) reach our goals for PWA, and then the other knitters send you a present maybe, because you’re awesome and so are they.) Ready to start with the presents? Sure you are.

Melissa is generously sending out four sets of snagless stitch markers from Prairie Dye Studio. One set each for Debra, Jennifer K, Helen G and Andrea D, and they’ll each be allowed to chose from all her beauties.

Prairiedyesnagless 2016-05-20

Ann has a wonderful gift that will be going from her stash to Leanne W’s.

tiliyarn 2016-05-20

It’s three skeins of Tilli Tomas Fil de la Mer yarn.  It’s DK weight, 70% silk 30% plant fiber, 140 yards/ 50 gram skein.  The colorway is Gloximia – a perfect present for spring. Thanks for parting with it Ann.

Jaala from Knitcircus has Over the Rainbow Gradient Stripes! Each “matching socks set” includes two cakes dyed to match exactly – down to the stitch. Her gift  includes a Medium Matching Socks Set (300yds total) in Greatest of Ease fingering, 75% Superwash Merino wool, 25% nylon, and she’s including Amy’s Favorite Top-Down Socks pattern pdf.

overtherainbow 2016-05-20

Jaala will be sending that to the very lucky Sue G.  (I almost ordered everything when I clicked on that link. Careful.)
Dani, longtime friend of the show and proprietress over at KSC Designs has two beautiful pieces. A box bag that will be making its way to Tracey H.

danilarge 2016-05-20

and a beautiful needle roll that I really hope Chris I loves.

danineedleroll 2016-05-20

There we go – eight gifts, I’ve emailed all the lucky knitters,  and we’re just getting started. Please take a few moments over the weekend to think of us. Team Knit will be out in force – Cameron and I are the assigned sweeps for the Sunday ride. Wish us fair weather and a tailwind. We could use it.

[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed
Running out the door to the airport, so only one tweak today!

May put this one to bed--I'm fairly happy with the design, though I may wake in the night screaming "THE BEE! THE BEE!"

Anyway, see y'all on the other side of this literacy festival...

Is the “Mrs. Degree” Dead?

May. 20th, 2016 03:28 pm
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Laura Hamilton PhD

TSP_Assigned_pbk_978-0-393-28445-4Assigned: Life with Gender is a new anthology featuring blog posts by a wide range of sociologists writing at The Society Pages and elsewhere. To celebrate, we’re re-posting four of the essays as this month’s “flashback Fridays.” Enjoy! And to learn more about this anthology, a companion to Wade and Ferree’s Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, please click here.


Is the “Mrs. Degree” Dead?, by Laura Hamilton, PhD

In 1998 I was a first-year student at DePauw University, a small liberal arts college in Indiana. A floor-mate of mine, with whom I hung out occasionally, told me over lunch that she was at college primarily to find a “good husband.” I nearly choked on my sandwich. I had assumed that the notion of the “Mrs. Degree” was a relic of my parents’ era—if not my grandparents’. Surely it had gone the way of the home economics major and women’s dormitory curfews.

Photo via clemsonunivlibrary flickr creative commons

Years later, I — along with my co-director, Elizabeth A. Armstrong — would embark on a five year ethnographic and longitudinal study of a dormitory floor of women at a public flagship in the Midwest. As part of my dissertation, I also interviewed the women’s parents. What I found brought me back to my first year of college. A subset of parents wanted their daughters to be “cookie-baking moms”—not successful lawyers, doctors, or businesswomen. They espoused gender complementarity—a cultural model of how women should achieve economic security that relied on a co-constructed pairing of traditional femininity and masculinity. That is, men were to be economic providers and women supportive homemakers. This was a revised “Mrs.” Degree, in the sense that marriage during college, or even right after, was not desirable. College women were to build the traits and social networks that would hopefully land them a successful husband eventually, but it was assumed best to wait until men had proven themselves in the labor market before entering a marriage.

This was not the only cultural model to which women on the floor were exposed. In fact, those coming in primed for complementarity were in the minority. However, as I show in my article, “The Revised MRS: Gender Complementarity at College,” far more women left college leaning toward gender complementarity than their previous gender socialization suggested. Something was happening on the college campus — where women were, ironically, out-achieving men — that shifted them toward performing an affluent, white, and heterosexual femininity, marked by an emphasis on appearance, accommodation to men, and a bubbly personality.

I argue that gender complementarity is not just a characteristic of individual women, but is actually encouraged by the institutional and interactional features of the typical, four-year, public state school. Midwest U, like other schools of its kind, builds a social and academic infrastructure well-suited to high-paying, out-of-state students interested in partying. The predominately white Greek system — a historically gender-, class-, and racially-segregated institution — enjoys prominence on campus. An array of “easy” majors, geared toward characteristics developed outside of the classroom, allow women to leverage personality, looks, and social skills in the academic sphere. These supports make it possible for peer cultures in which gender complementarity is paramount to thrive. Women who want to belong and make friends find it hard — if not impossible — to avoid the influence of the dominant social scene on campus, located in fraternities and Greek-oriented bars.

This structure of campus life is not incidental. In recent years, cuts to state and federal support for higher education have led mid-tier public institutions like Midwest U to cater to the socially-oriented and out-of-state students who arrive with gender complementarity interests. These class-based processes have implications for the type of social and academic climate that all students find upon arriving at Midwest University.

The problem is, however, that most women need to accrue the skills and credentials that translate into a solid career. An institution supporting gender complementarity does them a serious disservice — potentially contributing to gendered differences in pay after college. The situation is particularly problematic for students not from the richest of families: Affluent women espousing complementarity form the type of networks that give them reasonable hope of rescue by a high-credentialed spouse, and heavy parental support means that they can afford to be in big cities where they mix and mingle with the “right” men. Women from less affluent backgrounds lack these resources, and are often reliant on their own human capital to make it after college.

The gradual shift from higher education as a public good — funded heavily by the state — to a private commodity — for sale to the highest bidder — has significantly stalled not only progress toward class equality, but certain forms of gender equality as well. Change is going to require unlinking the solvency of organizations like Midwest U from the interests of those can afford, and thus demand, an exclusionary and highly gendered social experience.

Laura T. Hamilton, PhD is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of California, Merced. Her recently published article, “The Revised MRS: Gender Complementarity at College,” appears in the April 2014 issue of Gender & Society; this post originally appeared at their blog. She is the author of Parenting to a Degree: How Family Matter’s for College Women’s Success and, with Elizabeth Armstrong, Paying for the Party: How Colleges Maintain Inequality.

(View original at https://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

Almost 70

May. 20th, 2016 03:19 pm
[syndicated profile] advancedstyle_feed

Posted by ari

G63A9404  “My mama will be 70 in October. She always says, “Be your authentic self”. She loved dressing for work in the boardroom and putting a look together, but now that she is retired she’s enjoying taking more risks in fashion and having fun with it.” -Amanda Dolanof Spark Pretty on her mother’s fashion choices.

The post Almost 70 appeared first on Advanced Style.


May. 20th, 2016 08:05 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Yesterday I went to a presentation wherein I knew, going in, that the audience would be made up from people from a variety of different service sector, each serving different people with differing programs and services. I'm not used to these kinds of meetings, typically I go to meetings where everyone in the audience does different versions of the same thing. I was looking forward to it but, as I'm a presenter, I wondered about those who would be addressing such a diverse audience. How were they going to get around the complex issue of language.

We spend a lot of time talking about language in the disability community and the disability sector. Just recently on Facebook I participated with a comment in a discussion about person first language - a topic that never seems to go away. People are quite impassioned about their feelings and, I believe, have a right to be. Language frames how we see ourselves and can influence how others see, feel or react to who we are. So, I wondered, and worried a bit, about how these presenters were going to build a frame big enough for their presentation such that we were all included.

For me, as a disabled person, I think I react to language in a visceral rather than intellectual way. I know I can't hide my reaction when people use language that diminishes or language that dismisses. I also worried that the presenters may do what I've seen others do, use some elaborate construction of words with a 'wink wink' to the audience that communicates, 'look at the silly means we have to go to to be politically correct.'
 That drives me wild. Or, alternately, use respectful words but trip over them so often so as to communicate, 'Hey, I'm using this here because I have to, I don't talk like this normally.' So, I went in with worries.

But, I had no reason to. From the outset the presenters all used really inclusive language and used it in a natural way. I heard terms I'd never heard before, remember this was to a very, very, diverse audience, like 'equity seeking groups' or 'populations facing multiple barriers.' Now, I'm not suggesting for a moment that I'm going to start using these terms, because I'm not, I don't need to, I will continue to use terms that reflect the work I do and the life I live, and those are terms around disability. What I am suggesting is that it is possible when speaking to be conscious to use language in a way that both conveys meaning and compassion at the same time.

I'll tell you the language used reflected the entire presentation. There was a care and gentleness there about the whole thing, even the technical parts, they really wanted their audience to understand, feel supported and feel valued. It started with language that cared and it ended with behaviour that reflected that care.

People go on and on about politically correct language. I don't get it. I found their language accurate and compassionate, they used it naturally, they used it carefully, shouldn't that always be the case?

All to say, I went to a meeting yesterday and felt cared about just because of how the presenters spoke about people.


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