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The trailer for the FSoG movie is out, and here's my mini-review.  (And one more thought on it.)  I have a weird mix of glee and sorrow that they're making a movie out of this.  I am looking forward to it being so-bad-it's-good, a Showgirls for our time--but I'm also terrified that it's going to give millions of people the idea that BDSM is "abuse but they're perverts so it's okay."  I don't want that.

Based on the trailer, it seems like it will be very faithful to the book, which might work in my favor.  The audience consensus might end up being "wow, when you see this stuff actually acted out it's miserable," and then the whole thing will sink beneath the murky waves from which it arose.  I can hope.

Anyway, we still have four chapters left in this book.  Let's get slogging.  As a reminder, when we left off, THE EMAIL WAS COMING FROM INSIDE THE BAR!!!

Content warnings for this chapter:  Emotional abuse, do I even have to say it?  Stalking, bigtime. Weirdness around drinking.  Child molestation, molestation apologism, and implied (?) physical child abuse.  Period sex.

Also, this is another long-ass entry.
I glance nervously around the bar but cannot see him. “Ana, what is it? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” “It’s Christian, he’s here.” “What? Really?” She glances around the bar too. I have neglected to mention Christian’s stalker tendencies to my mom.
"There are certain things about our relationship that sound like abuse, so I can't ever tell other people because they might think it was abuse, which it's not, but it's important I watch my words because if he thought I was calling him an abuser he might really do something awful."  That's one of your classic warning signs.

(If I sound sardonic, it's only because I've lived it.  Hell hath no fury like an abuser who trusted you with their little secret.)
His bright gray eyes are shining with – anger? Tension? His mouth is set in a grim line, jaw tense. Oh holy shit… no.
"Hooray, my lover's come to surprise me while I'm on vacation!  Look at his smile!  He's coming in for a big hug!  Oh, I'm so happy we can vacation together, we'll have so much fun!"--a purely hypothetical book I would much rather be reading.
He turns to greet my mom. “Mrs. Adams, I am delighted to meet you.” How does he know her name? He gives her the heart-stopping, Christian Grey patented, full-blown-no-prisoners-taken smile. She doesn’t have a hope. My mother’s lower jaw practically hits the table. Jeez, get a grip Mom. She takes his proffered hand and they shake. My mother hasn’t replied. Oh, complete dumbfounded speechlessness is genetic – I had no idea. “Christian,” she manages finally, breathlessly. He smiles knowingly at her, his gray eyes twinkling.
What the hell?  She saw him rage-glaring at her daughter like five seconds ago.

Although maybe she missed that, which makes this even creepier.
Crap – Is he mad? Maybe the Mrs. Robinson comments? Or the fact that I am on my third, soon to be fourth Cosmo?
Every time I think Gorp RaisinNut can't get any more controlling... he gets angry that his girlfriend might have had one too many drinks while she was 3000 miles away from him.

This is one of those "not actually a dominant" things, too.  Like, correct me if I'm wrong, but he never gave her any kind of order about how much she was allowed to drink.  (And when they're together he's usually pouring wine down her throat as fast as he can.)  He just gets all glarey when she breaks the imaginary rule in his head that he never told her about.  She can't win.

There's nothing wrong with playing that way if it's consensual, but I'd classify it more as "emotional sadism", "mindfuck," or "humiliation" than as dominance as I usually understand it.
He reaches over, takes my hand, and squeezes it gently, running his thumb across my knuckles to and fro… and I feel the familiar pull. The electric charge zapping beneath my skin under the gentle pressure from his thumb, firing into my blood stream and pulsing around my body, heating everything in its path.
I glance quickly at Mom who is staring at Christian… yes staring! Stop it Mom. As if he’s some exotic creature, never seen before. I mean, I know I’ve never had a boyfriend, and Christian only qualifies as such for ease of reference – but is it so unbelievable that I could attract a man? This man? Yes, frankly – look at him – my subconscious snaps. Oh, shut up! Who invited you to the party? I scowl at my mom – but she doesn’t seem to notice.
Ana, I'm pretty sure your mom is staring at him because he flew from Seattle to Georgia unannounced to glare and paw possessively at her daughter.

Also, wow--that grammar--sentence structure--was there an editor?--wow.
“I don’t want to interrupt the time you have with your mother. I’ll have a quick drink and then retire. I have work to do,” he states earnestly.
Even if this weren't a milk-spittingly outrageous lie, "earnestly" still wouldn't be the right word.
The waiter arrives with our drinks. “Hendricks, sir,” he says with a triumphant flourish.
"Et voila!  It is... a moderately priced gin!  TA-DAAA!"
“Anastasia, your mother will be back shortly. I’m not comfortable talking about this ["Mrs. Robinson"] now. Later maybe. If you don’t want me here, I have a plane on stand-by at Hilton Head. I can go.” He’s angry with me… no.
"I flew across the country to see you, but hey, no pressure."

It would be so great if she told him to go, though.  Really so great.  Taking people at their word is a powerful tool against passive-aggression, and there's a great satisfaction to be found in resisting the pressure to say "oh, no, please don't go" and instead saying "Wonderful!  I'm so glad you gave me this choice. Call your plane."

(It's on standby?  Like the crew are actually in it poised to leave at any moment?  Being on Dash BlitzDance's air crew must be exasperating. Especially since Hilton Head is a good long way from Savannah.)

Ace Rimmer then gets into a long conversation about "Mrs. Robinson"--which I'm not going to quote much of because it's in that trademark "lots of pained, snippy questions and answers" conversational style I love so much--where he basically says that they're still friends and business partners, and she's not a child molester because he says so.
“I think of her as a child molester, Christian.” I hold my breath waiting for his reaction. Christian blanches. “That’s very judgmental. It wasn’t like that,” he whispers, shocked.
So.  On the one hand, survivors react differently.  It is not immoral or Failing At Feminism or anything else for a survivor to decide how to feel about what was done to them.  If an adult doesn't interpret their experience as molestation, I am very uncomfortable running in and telling them that they're wrong about their own life.

However, Ructabunde Quisquilian is not a real person.  He's a character and the author is the one who decided he should forgive his abuser, and that's not such a simple situation.  In a book with more subtle characterizations, this might be an illustration of "survivors don't always stick to the script."  In this one, I'm worried it really is "hey, sometimes kids don't mind being molested."

...You know, this erotic romance novel really didn't need a child molestation side plot. We could've avoided all of this and been much happier.
Christian sips his drink, watching me closely, his expression guarded. What is he thinking? Did he love her? I think if he did, I will lose it, big time. “Well ladies, I shall leave you to your evening.” No… no… he can’t leave me hanging like this.
Well, what did you expect?  It's not like Mr. Fancy RichPants is going to go home with you and sleep on the futon in the guest bedroom.  So he goes to a hotel room for the night.  You'll live.

I don't like being too harsh on Ana, but she does a whole lot of complaining in this chapter about how they've been apart for two whole days and she's dying for lack of his touch and oh my gosh Ana, you're not a stalker but you might have some minor cling issues of your own.
“Well strike me down with a feather, Ana. He’s a catch. I don’t know what’s going on between you two though. I think you need to talk to each other. Phew – the UST in here, it’s unbearable.” She fans herself theatrically.
Whoa.  Ana's mom ships them.  Whoa.  Weird.

Ana's mom gives Ana a long speech about how obviously she (Ana) is super in love with Christian Bale and all they need to do is talk their problems out, and more or less demands her daughter go up to his hotel room and maybe stay the night.

Holy shit, Ana's mom, way to sell your daughter out when she's very visibly uncomfortable and also this guy just stalked her for 3000 miles.
He’s in a suite, like the one at the Heathman. The furnishings here are ultra modern, very now. All muted dark purples and golds with bronze starbursts on the walls. Christian walks over to dark wood unit and pulls open a door to reveal a mini-bar. He indicates that I should help myself, then wanders into the bedroom.
Either it's "ultra modern, very now" or it's purple and gold and bronze starbursts.  It's not both.  (The Savannah hotel isn't named, but the Heathman is a real place and its suites are mostly cream and gray.)

For someone who was growling at her for her drinking earlier, he sure was quick to go right back to encouraging her to get drunk as soon as it serves his purposes.
“You were so mad at me,” he breathes. “Yes.” “I don’t remember anyone but my family ever being mad at me. I like it.”
The only proper response to "you're so cute when you're angry" is "then right now I'm fucking adorable."
He runs the tips of fingers down my cheek. Oh my, his proximity, his delicious Christian smell. We’re supposed to be talking, but my heart is pounding, my blood singing as it courses through my body, desire, pooling, unfurling… everywhere.
This is concerning.  Maybe you should lay down for a little bit until your heart rate stabilizes and we've dealt with those pools of singing blood.
“Are you bleeding?” He continues to kiss me. Holy Fuck. Does nothing slip by him? “Yes,” I whisper, embarrassed. “Do you have cramps?” “No.” I flush . Jeez… He stops and looks down at me. “Did you take your pill?” “Yes.” How mortifying is this?
Very mortifying.  Not because she has her period--that's just nature--but because of how incredibly weird he's being about it.  Like, my partner will ask me if I have cramps, but that's because he'll give me Advil if I am.  Men O'Rrhagia here seems to just be asking lots of questions because he wants to make her cringe.
He takes my hand and leads me into the bedroom. It’s dominated by a super-king size bed with elaborate drapes. But we don’t stop there. He takes me into the bathroom which is two rooms, all aquamarines and white limestone. It’s huge – In the second room a sunken bath, big enough for four people with stone steps that lead into it, is slowly filling with water. Steam rises gently above the foam, and I notice a stone seat all the way round.
Summary of this passage:

He squeezes my nipples between our thumbs, pulling gently so that they elongate further. I watch in fascination at the wanton creature writhing in front of me.
I once had a contest with Rowdy to see who could get further in reading a FSoG sex scene while hooked up to a speech jammer.  I highly recommend this as a form of "it's 3 AM and nothing seems like a bad idea anymore" entertainment.
He guides my hands down the sides of my body, past my waist to my hips, and across to my pubic hair. He slides his leg in between mine, pushing my feet further apart, widening my stance, and runs my hands over my sex, one hand at a time in turn, setting up a rhythm. It is so erotic. Truly I am a marionette and he is the master puppeteer.
Oh God it's just so beautiful.
He reaches between my legs and pulls on the blue string… what! And… a gently pulls my tampon out and tosses it into the nearby toilet. Holy fuck. Sweet mother of all… Jeez.
They should've sent a poet.
He uncurls from around me, placing me on the floor as he makes to stand. As he does, I notice again the small, round, white scars on his chest. They are not chicken pox, I muse absentmindedly. Grace said he was hardly affected. Holy shit… they must be burns. Burns from what? I blanch at the realization, shock and revulsion coursing through me. From cigarettes? Mrs. Robinson, his birth mother, who? Who did this to him? Maybe there’s a reasonable explanation, and I’m over-reacting – wild hope blossoms in my chest – hope that I am wrong.
In the real world, some spotty burn scars could mean anything from "grease explosion in the kitchen" to "really bad medication reaction."  But in this ultra-simplified world where all things are plot relevant at all times, of course it'll turn out to be from all the horrible trauma that made him into a kinkster.  (I'm guessing birth mother, because she's a cartoon evil woman, whereas Mrs. Robinson is being played unnervingly close to "society just doesn't understand.")

Man, E.L. James really had fun with this guy's history.  "Trust fund baby or tragic deprived past?  Let's do both!"
“I would probably have gone the way of my birth mother, had it not been for Mrs. Robinson.” Oh! I blink at him. Crack addict or whore? Possibly both?
Wow, real sensitive reaction there, Ana.
“She loved me in a way I found… acceptable,” he adds with a shrug. What the hell does that mean? “Acceptable?” I whisper. “Yes.” He stares intently at me. “She distracted me from the destructive path I found myself following. It’s very hard to grow up in a perfect family when you’re not perfect.”
You know what?  I can kind of buy this.  For all the Cullens are nice and rich and... rich and nice, I can see them not being well equipped to care for an adopted son with trauma and abandonment issues and disgracefully unrefined table manners.  And I can see him feeling pretty alienated in his adolescence if people at the country club are getting all "the poor dear is from a disadvantaged background, you know" on him.

It doesn't excuse Mrs. Robinson's behavior and it doesn't excuse how he goes on to treat Ana.  But it does give a pretty relatable explanation for why it might've been easy for someone outside the family to seduce him with a "I'm the only one who really understands you" story.

Anyway, then they have about twelve more rounds of Ana asking variations on "do you like her more than me?" and E. Edward Grey saying stuff that works out to "no, but you should still feel jealous."  They go back and forth for a while before settling back into their usual groove: pressuring Ana to do BDSM.
“You can always safe-word, Anastasia. Don’t forget that. And, as long as you follow the rules, which fulfill a deep need in me for control and to keep you safe, then perhaps we can find a way forward.”
This is one of those paragraphs that's great if you just imagine that it has anything to do with the rest of the book.

Just use your safeword and follow the rules and it'll go great for you!  What do you mean, nobody ever actually gave you a safeword or a workable set of rules?  Pointing that out is topping from the bottom and I won't have any of it.
“Why do you need to control me?” “Because it satisfies a need in me that wasn’t met in my formative years.” “So it’s a form of therapy?” “I’ve not thought of it like that, but yes, I suppose it is.” This I can understand. This will help.
Ergh.  No.  BDSM is not an illness nor is it a therapy.  (And it sure as hell isn't both, because how would that even work.)  BDSM can be therapeutic in some ways, but that isn't more important than the need to play safely and consensually, and it isn't ethical to use people for therapy without their knowledge.

Anyway, this seems to imply that the need that wasn't met in his formative years was to get everything he wanted whenever he demanded it.  So, um, poor dear.

They fuck some more in the bathtub and it's pretty standard.  He calls her "baby" a lot.  Not much to say about this except that it's pleasant and consensual (as consensual as things can be when we all know how it would go if Ana said no to him).  Which just makes me worry when the next shoe is going to drop.
And I come, my orgasm ripping through me, a turbulent, passionate, apogee that devours me whole.
If you're playing the home game, that's five metaphors in sixteen words!  Ms. James may have just set a regional record!
“What do you want to do?” he asks. 
He smiles. 
“About what?” 
“What stuff?” 
“What about me?”
This is why I don't copy most of their conversations.  They're so guarded and tight-lipped with each other, even their pillow talk reminds me of those scary notices on Armed Forces Radio about how if you're captured you should only give your name, rank, and serial number.

Whenever they talk, you get the whole page but you only need the left three inches.
“All submissives in training, when I was training. There are places in and around Seattle that one can go and practice. Learn to do what I do,” he says.
HEY!  NO!  PARTY FOUL!  You do not get to mention the CSPC in this book!

The CSPC ("The Wet Spot") is the Seattle playspace where I began my kink career.  (Which is very different from "being in training."  I mean, they provided a space, safety guidelines, and occasional classes.  They weren't, like, putting me through organized Submission Exercises until I earned my black hankie.)  It's a very nice space and resource for the community and I don't want it even being mentioned in this book, much less reduced to some sort of weird Sub Training Facility.

Ah well.  Odds are E.L. James didn't actually mean the CSPC, because:
Doylist - That would've required research.  Easier to handwave and just say "there's places."
Watsonian - The CSPC has standards of behavior and would've kicked out a creeper like Kidney BoneThrust five minutes into his first party.
What? “Oh.” I blink at him. “Yep, I’ve paid for sex, Anastasia.”
Okay, they'd better not mean the CSPC, because I am absolutely certain the CSPC does not provide rent-a-sub services.

Not a lot of places do, really.  Professional subs exist, but as far as I know, they're a lot less common than pro-doms, and very unlikely to have sex with their clients.  (EDIT: Some pro-subs do have sex with their clients.)

Sex and sex work do happen in a lot of BDSM spaces, but the main purpose of the spaces is for kinky people to mingle and play.  They're not like... whatever E.L. James thinks they're like.  They're not places you can drop in and book the next available sub you want to practice angry sex on.
“You didn’t wear your panties to meet my parents.” “Did that shock you?” “Yes.”
She didn't wear her panties because you'd stolen them and wouldn't give them back, dick.  Way to get all "whoa, that sure was wild of you" about something you forced her to do.

The rest of this chapter isn't half bad, though.  (It's all bad! OHOHOHO!)  Ana and Yeasty PottleDeep have something resembling emotional intimacy--he coughs up some actual details about his life and emotions, and she says she enjoys some of the BDSM stuff they do, and asks for more.

It's all a lot of E.L. James going "Ana had some character development where she became more open to BDSM.  She did.  Right back there.  You must've missed it."  But at least it means a break in the overt abuse, and I'll take that however I can get it.

Happy Birthday, Sociological Images!

Jul. 24th, 2014 09:48 pm
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

We’re 7 years old today!  To celebrate, here’s a picture of seven capybaras.

1 (2) - Copy

Thanks to everyone who has visited over the last seven years!  This is our 5,226th post and I can hardly believe it.  Ready to charge on for another!

Here are some highlights from the last year. The blog never ceases to surprise!

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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

We’re having some work done

Jul. 24th, 2014 07:30 pm
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Hey, so, Patheos is upgrading our WordPress and some tech stuff to improve load times, etc. That starts today at 4 p.m. EST and should be (fingers crossed) done by tomorrow at 11 a.m.

In the meantime, I can’t post, schedule posts or log in to WordPress lest I derail and delay the process.

Basically, this kind of situation:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Disqus will still work though (for usual Disqus-equivalent meanings of the word “work”), so feel free to continue visiting and talking amongst yourselves.

Regular/irregular posting will resume here tomorrow afternoon.


A good joke can change the world

Jul. 24th, 2014 07:12 pm
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Click here to view the embedded video.

I have always believed that a good joke can change the world.

Now we have proof that it’s true: Office Space helped rid the world of ‘flair.’”

“About four years after Office Space came out, T.G.I. Fridays got rid of all that [button] flair, because people would come in and make cracks about it,” [Mike] Judge recently told Deadline. “One of my ADs asked once at the restaurant why their flair was missing and they said they removed it because of that movie Office Space. So, maybe I made the world a better place.” Indeed, now a chastened, more mature T.G.I Fridays no longer forces its waiters to talk about their flair, instead allowing them — and their grateful patrons — a side order of dignity to go with their bacon mac ‘n’ cheese bites.

Granted, in the grand scheme of things, the fact that waitstaff at chain restaurants were required to don “flair” in an aggressive display of mandatory cheer and (literally) uniform individuality was not one of the gravest injustices besetting humanity.

Still, though, the end of such demeaning work requirements does, as Judge says, help make “the world a better place.” Thousands of people stuck in lousy dead-end jobs now have slightly less-lousy dead-end jobs.


But let’s not get lost in the particulars of this case, what’s important here is the confirmation of the general principle: A good joke really can change the world.

We have other examples that this is true but we don’t always notice them because the effect of good jokes usually tends to be defensive. The craftspeople at some of our finest joke workshops (the guilds of Stewart, Colbert, Onion, Toast, Silverman, etc.) expend a lot of energy playing a kind of whack-a-mole game in which prophylactic jokes prevent the world from getting worse. That’s a harder thing to identify or measure, but the effect is real.

Consider, for example, that in 2009, the possibility of President Sarah Palin did not seem wholly preposterous the way it does today. That was the work of thousands of jokes — some perfectly crafted, some kind of sloppy and off-target. The cumulative effect of all those jokes helped to make the world a better place — or to prevent it from getting worse in one particular way, which amounts to something like the same thing.

The relatively modest achievement of Judge’s Office Space joke is a reminder that this isn’t easy. Judge crafted a precise and devastating joke and then was able to deliver that joke through an expensive, high-profile platform. Alas, most of us do not have access to such platforms, and we can’t hire someone as skilled and popular as Jennifer Aniston to ensure that our jokes are so perfectly delivered.

But pay attention to Judge’s description of the process that unfolded over time. It took several years from the release of Office Space before the last buttons were removed and partial dignity was restored to these workers. And it wasn’t solely because of Judge and Aniston — it was due to thousands of people all over the country repeating and embellishing and riffing on the original joke.

It takes a village. The good news is that we now have powerful new technology  and new tools for disseminating the best jokes — Twitter and other social media. Our best jokes can now be spread, amplified, applied and reapplied with great cumulative power.

Even so, could even the best jokes ever manage to eliminate something more serious than the indignity of “flair”? Could even a perfect joke ever hope to make a difference when it comes to serious, pervasive, enduring structural injustices like patriarchy, plutocracy or racism?

We’ll never know unless we try.

Here’s John Oliver, doing his part, attacking the obscene injustice of American mass incarceration with what might really be one of the most potentially powerful weapons we have — a bunch of good jokes:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Randomly on a Thursday

Jul. 24th, 2014 05:20 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

1. No word yet on the sock. It could be that this story will end sadly, but not for lack of effort in the knitting community, and I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel great about us.

2. The bike rally leaves Sunday. I have just spent a few minutes quietly at my desk trying to work out if what I feel is excitement or terror.  It might be both.  The weather forecast for next week looks really dodgy. So far it’s calling for rain every day, and while I might be able to get my head around riding in the rain (not really – it sucks) I can’t tell you how opposed I am to camping in the rain, and actually, it’s the idea of doing both of those things for days on end that really makes me take a deep breath.

3. I am trying to change the forecast with my mind.

4. I might be making it worse.

5. I totally think I can finish these socks before I go.  I’m so totally in love with them that I have forgiven the toe all its transgressions.

starrycomingalong 2014-07-24

I ended up just changing the rate of decrease in them, and I think it’s actually pretty good.

6. I still have to plan my rally knitting. There isn’t much time to knit while we’re riding, but it makes me feel better to have it with me, and if it’s going to rain as much as they’re predicting, Jen and I could be spending our evenings huddled in our tent, knitting like mad.

7. Want some presents? Sure you do.

Gwen, over at Petitchoufleur Knits, has a digital and print copy of her clever (and versatile) patterns Oliver and Olivia going out to Abigail N.

olivia 2014-07-24 oliver 2014-07-24

It’s going to be a nice day for Sara N! She’s the lucky recipient of a gift from Helen, who has this beautiful yarn for her.

helensblues 2014-07-24

It’s two skeins of Terrra – Woad Light, and a co-coordinating skein of Knitpicks Stroll fingering – to use doubled with the Terra for a beautiful scarf.

Heather at Wolowik Ranch has an amazing roving that’s looking for a new home.

wolowikranch 2014-07-24

It’s 4oz of hand-dyed merino, and guess who’s going to love it? Mya MG!

Kim C is going to be delighted.  She’s the lucky winner of a gift from Janelle at the Eclectic Closet.

janellecowlhat 2014-07-24

It’s a beautiful kit for her Fossetta Hat and Cowl set. She’s including both patterns, and 4 skeins of Lang Yak Yarn.  Lucky Kim!

Three cheers for Jeffi at Shantiknits, (right here in Ontario) she’s got this gorgeous skein of hand-dyed sock yarn to give away.

shantiknits 2014-07-24

It’s right up my alley, but I’m thrilled to see it go to Margaret W.

A few last gifts (for today – there’s so much more coming) and these come from our good friend Lucy Neatby. Lucy’s offering up three digital copies of her book,   A Little Book of BIG Holes for Hand-knitters  (I LOVE this book.)

bigholebooks 2014-07-24

I hope it makes Nancy S, Charlotte D and Tara G very happy.

Lucy’s also giving away one more amazing prize.  A virtual library of ALL SIXTEEN of her DVDs. 

knittinggems 2014-07-24

I’m lucky enough to own almost all of them, and I swear that no matter how accomplished a knitter Donna W is, they’re going to learn a ton.

Finally, I want to tell you about an email that I got.  An incredibly generous knitter who would like to remain anonymous, has made an offer that just about broke my heart with its loveliness. Beginning tonight, at 7pm EST, she will match the first 10 donations made to my pledge page. (If you’ve lost track of where that is, it’s here.)

This would be a generous and staggering gift at any amount, but get this. She’s willing to match up to a total of (take a deep breath) $5000.

If you, or anyone you know was considering a donation, tonight at 7pm would be an amazing time to do it. Thanks so much for all that you do, and for all your donations, of any size.  I’m overwhelmed with the amazingness of all of this, and it will give me a reason to take heart while I ride in the rain.  It’s totally worth it. Thank you.

One Knock for Yes, Two for No

Jul. 24th, 2014 12:00 pm
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Posted by Holly Tucker

By Saundra Mitchell (Guest Contributor)

Mrs. Fish and the Misses Fox: the original mediums of the mysterious noises at Rochester Western, N.Y.

Mrs. Fish and the Misses Fox: the original mediums of the mysterious noises at Rochester Western, N.Y.

It’s too simple to say that Spiritualism was popular in the 19th century because it was an excuse to behave badly, but it was certainly born from bad behavior.

It was 1848, in Hydesville, New York when the Fox Sisters started “hearing” strange rappings at night. Their house had a reputation for being haunted, and teens Kate and Margaret went along – asking spirits questions, which were answered by knocks and pops. Furniture moved, and the girls had fits they attributed to Mr. Splithoof, the devil.

This could have been a new Salem – Ann Putnam Jr. and Mercy Lewis’ accusations started out much the same way in 1692. But America had changed in the intervening century and a half. Puritanism had been replaced with Evangelicalism – and this time, it wasn’t unopposed.

In 1692, the initial, fervent explanation for the girls’ behavior was witchcraft. But in 1848, medicine understood that typhus was a disease, not a wasting due to too much night air. Messages could be carried spectrally, but scientifically, across telegraph wires. Science crashed against religion, and people wanted to reconcile both.

So when ghosts started knocking in Hydesville, and religion alone couldn’t answer, scientific method stepped in. What was the weight of a soul? You could put the dying on a scale, or you could ask the spirits themselves.

Thus began a movement that swept the western world from the 1840s to the 1920s – sparked by a moment of youthful rebellion. Kate and Margaret Fox were bouncing an apple on the floor when they were supposed to be in bed.

When caught, they told their mother the sound must have been spirits…and she believed.

Saundra Mitchell is the author of The Vespertine, a young adult novel set in Baltimore, 1889 at the height of the Spiritualism craze. She is an Edgar and Pushcart nominee, and a big fan of girls behaving badly.


This post first appeared at Wonders & Marvels on 1 September 2011.

The Vespertine

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30 Days of Kink: Days 18 & 19!

Jul. 24th, 2014 02:49 am
[syndicated profile] pervocracy_feed
Day 18: Any kinky/BDSM pet peeves?  If so, what are they?
Most of the things I dislike about kink rise above the level of "pet peeves," like the fact that we as a community still lack a workable consensus action plan for what we do when we find out that one of our buddies might have committed physical and/or sexual assault.  That's not really an "aw man, this has anchovies on it"-level complaint.

But for a pettier peeve--you know what, I'm going to say the color black.  Like, there's nothing wrong with black clothing or black toys or black dungeon walls or black website backgrounds.  But goodness there are a lot of them.  It gets monotonous, and sometimes has a really cheesy "kink is spooky like Halloween, boo!" feeling to it.  I own green and blue rope, a gray flogger, and wear various colors to parties, because sometimes I'm not Halloween, dammit.

(I also own a shit-ton of black stuff, for reasons ranging from "that was the only color I could get it in" to "I'm not actually that much of a brave iconoclast and sometimes I kind of like being Halloween.")

Day 19: Any unexpected ways kink has improved your life?  If so, what are they?
It's inspired me to do a lot of writing which has, in turn, vastly improved my life. I also met Rowdy at a kink event, and knowing him has improved my life tremendously, because he's a wonderful partner and I completely love him and he has cute freckles.

But honestly, the main way kink has improved my life is... that I get to do kink.  I enjoy it so much more than I first thought I would, and in so many different ways.  It's an integral part of my romantic and sexual life. Which makes this question a little like asking "how has chocolate cake improved your life?"  Oh, I can think of stuff like "it looks nice on my table, I hear it has antioxidants or something" if I have to, but the real answer is because it's chocolate cake.

Maybe the biggest unexpected way kink has improved my life is that I've learned different and much better ways of looking at consent.  Because while kink definitely isn't a magical consent haven, the kink community has popularized some pretty cool concepts around negotiation, safewords, limits, the idea that agreeing to one thing is not agreeing to everything, and the idea that who you are does not imply what you're willing to do.  Even when I'm not doing kink, these are useful.  It's helped me to structure my statements about what I want based on what I want, not on what I think I'm allowed to ask for.  It's helped me put trust in my own limits.

I have not purchased an extended warranty since I started doing kink.
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Roger Ebert’s movie glossary defines an Idiot Plot as “Any plot containing problems that would be solved instantly if all of the characters were not idiots.” Hemant Mehta eyes the trailer for Christian-brand comedy The Virgins and doubts that an Idiot Plot can be redeemed simply by attributing the characters’ idiocy to religious devotion.

Click here to view the embedded video.

“I grow restless,” Ebert said, when the misunderstandings driving a plot “could be ended by words that the screenplay refuses to allow [the characters] to utter.”

This was less of a pitfall in Shakespeare’s day, and even up through Victorian times, when convoluted and capricious mores and manners were understood to prevent those characters from uttering those words. The characters in Pride and Prejudice were constrained by social norms that no longer hold sway. So for that same plot to work in Bridget Jones’ Diary, the characters have to be constrained by something else — some limitations within themselves. Thus Elizabeth Bennett comes across as a smart, capable person who is prevented from being fully honest — to others or to herself — by the stifling rules, roles and expectations of class, gender and manners that shaped her life and her time. Bridget Jones, facing fewer such external rules, just comes across as neurotic and indecisive.

The essence of a romantic comedy is pretty simple: Introduce two characters who belong together, then contrive to keep them apart for about 90 minutes. Again, this is trickier now than it was in Austen’s or Shakespeare’s time. A lot of contemporary romantic comedies are annoying because the only obstacle they can imagine to keep their heroes apart is a kind of mutual immaturity. That serves the need of the plot, but it makes the couple less likable, which means we don’t care as much when they finally get together in the end.

One solution is to find a contemporary setting that still involves something like the kind of stifling social constraints in a Jane Austen novel. That’s what Ang Lee did with The Wedding Banquetwhich, like The Virgins, is more of a farce than a romantic comedy. The complications and misunderstandings that drive the plot in Lee’s story could all be cleared up with just a few honest words from the protagonists. But they can’t say those words — not because an arbitrary “Idiot Plot” screenplay prevents them, but because the story involves a closeted gay man in New York and a visit from his ultra-traditional Taiwanese parents.

Matthew Wilson may be trying something similar with The Virgins. Wilson is a white evangelical, a graduate of Biola University, so he’s intimately familiar with the mores, rules and expectations that govern white evangelical purity culture. That purity culture provides more than enough constraints and complications to construct a satisfying romantic comedy or romantic farce. The rules and expectations of purity culture are exactly the sort of thing that can prevent characters from uttering the words that would otherwise clear up all the misunderstandings driving the plot, thus ending the movie in the first act.

But that only works when — as in Austen — the characters are also critical of those cultural rules and expectations. If they’re not critical of them, but just blindly accept them, then, well, they look like idiots and we’re back to an Idiot Plot. This is where Much Ado About Nothing goes wrong. The Claudio/Hero subplot is driven by something very similar to white evangelical purity culture. Claudio accepts that purity culture uncritically, which makes him seem as villainous as Don John and makes it difficult for the audience to be happy for him in the end (or to be happy for Hero, who surely deserved better than that judgmental idiot Claudio).

I haven’t seen The Virgins, so I don’t know if it falls into that same trap — utilizing the constraints of purity culture to drive the plot without ever critiquing that culture, and thereby falling back into Idiot Plot territory. But the trailer leads me to suspect that is the case. (As Hemant wrote, “Maybe they should stop trying to make everything perfect and just jump each other on the porch of that locked house.”)

There’s another aspect of white evangelical culture that makes it hostile territory for this kind of farce. “Maybe we’re not supposed to stay here tonight,” the virgin wife says at one point in the trailer for The Virgins. She’s referring to divine intent — to an abiding assumption of God’s micromanagerial providence. This is related to the way evangelicals pray for a good parking space, or sometimes interpret the consequences of our own actions as divine will. That religious outlook doesn’t seem compatible with the kind of farce involving “wild adventures” on “one crazy night.”

“Why are you doing this?” the virgin groom says later in the trailer for, directing that question upwards, to God. I was reminded of a similar cry to the heavens, from Griffin Dunne in Martin Scorsese’s wild-night farce After Hours.

“What do you want from me? What have I done?” Dunne cries out, kneeling as though in prayer.

That works in After Hours because Dunne’s prayer isn’t directed toward the providential God of white evangelicalism. It is directed, instead, toward New York City itself. New York is the kind of cruel, capricious and unresponsive god you need if you’re writing a farce. The benevolent, attentive God of white evangelical piety shouldn’t be allowing such a farce to play out. Trying to write a farce with that kind of God in it is like trying to write a thriller in which everyone has cellphones with reliable connections and the police are always responsive, cooperative and competent.

The trailer for The Virgins makes it clear that Matthew Wilson has a good eye for capturing the nuances of white evangelical culture. Whether or not he’s also able to critique the assumptions of that culture will mean the difference between this being a workable story or an Idiot Plot.

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Posted by Fred Clark

Amy @ Watch Keep highlights a rare story of a local church responding appropriately to finding an abuser on its payroll.

John Sluder was an associate pastor at Believers Church in Auburn, Alabama:

His arrest in May got him kicked out of the church where he had been for 30 years.  Lee County Sheriff’s detectives say the two adult victims came forward in April to report they were abused in the early 1990′s.

… [Attorney Ben] Hand represents Believers Church where his father is the pastor. Hand says the church was stunned, then angry, when Sluder was arrested by Lee County, after two adult victims revealed Sluder had molested them on several occasions in the early 1990′s when they were 8 and 9 years old.

“Every child, including my own daughter that has had contact with him has been questioned to make sure there are no other potential victims out there,” said Hand.

… ”He was told if he came on church property, he would be arrested from trespassing and was forbidden from every returning to Believers Church. His bond was lowered from $100,000 to $25,000 and that is a nominal bond, and we have recommended that nobody make that bond. He needs to be there,” said Hand.

… ”The full extent of the law needs to be handed down. And we have to do everything we can to protect these kids ant they need to know they are safe and that society will come to their defense,” said Hand.

Amy contrasts this response by Believers Church with the image-control, stonewalling and circling of the wagons she more often encounters in her work with SNAP (the Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests):

Tears for the victims. Anger at the perpetrator. This is a refreshing response from a church who gets it. It’s not about them. It’s about the kids harmed by one of their own. But they don’t protect their own image and shun and silence these kids, now adults, who though it took a long time, bravely came forward to report the harm done to them. Kids will be safer now, and other possible victims of Sluder will know they are not alone and perhaps have the courage to come forward as well, begin to heal and protect others.

Those first two sentences cut to the heart of the matter: “Tears for the victims. Anger at the perpetrator.” That provides the basis for a very simple test for whether we’re opposing evil or abetting it. Who are we angry at? Who are we crying for?

That, I think, captures what’s so horrifyingly upside-down about the story Madeleine Baran documents in her four-part investigative report for Minnesota Public Radio, “Betrayed by Silence: How three archbishops hid the truth.”

This a remarkable example of the craft of journalism — Baran and her team did their homework, and she writes beautifully even when the subject matter is deeply disturbing. It’s a long read, and it’s depressing, enraging and unsettling, but you should read it all anyway.

Chapter One: It all began in Lafayette

Chapter Two: The church protects its own

Chapter Three: Archbishop makes vow, breaks it

Chapter Four: Cover-up unravels from the inside

The two-sentence summary of all that Baran documents is simply the opposite of what Amy wrote at Watch Keep: Tears for the perpetrators. Anger at the victims.

Time after time, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis failed that test, abetting evil instead of opposing it, directing their tears, and their anger, at the wrong people.

Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis. Photo by Jennifer Simonson, Minnesota Public Radio.


The Knit Signal

Jul. 23rd, 2014 03:23 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

This morning, at approximately 9:56 am, an email was received by this reporter from Ron Miskin. Although this informant is involved with The Buffalo Wool Co, this email didn’t concern bison in the slightest, which was odd and slightly disappointing, but he’s a nice man, so I read on.  Ron was writing to relate a tragic story, and pleading (Ok fine,  he was just asking) me to consider making public a sock crisis out of Oklahoma.

Approximately 21 hours ago, a very nice knitter named Britt was travelling through Oklahoma City airport when she spotted a single hand knit, self striping sock on the floor. Recognising its worth instantly, Britt retrieved the sock and somehow managed to convince the airport to make an announcement.  As we can all imagine, trying to explain why this sock was worth more than a regular sock would have been accomplished at great risk to Britt’s reputation, and she has my profound respect for pressing on though what must have been a period of time in which she was regarded as absolutely nuttier than a home made granola bar.

reinactment 2014-07-23

(This photo is from a dramatic reenactment of the airport sock crisis. This is not the actual sock, and that’s my kitchen floor, rather than an airport. The real sock is probably different. This is just one that I had handy and any resemblance to any really lost sock is purely coincidental.)

Unfortunately for the knitter who’s dropped the sock, nobody responded to the announcement, and Britt (again, at great peril to her reputation) somehow convinced the airport that a single sock was an object of great value, and must go into the lost and found. (I will pause here to allow you once again, to imagine this conversation and feel respect for Britt grow in your heart.

This single completed sock now resides in the lost and found box at the Oklahoma City airport, alone, unloved and likely, deeply misunderstood. Somewhere, a knitter is opening his or her knitting bag, pulling out the nearly completed second sock, and is staring, shocked into the empty knitting bag, and thinking “Are you *&^!ing kidding me?” while wondering where in their travels the sock was lost to them.  Our task? To reach that knitter, and tell them to take heart. Their sock has been found, and it is waiting for them, because out of the thousands of people who wandered through the Oklahoma City airport that day, their sock was lucky enough to encounter someone who knew what it was, knew what it would mean to lose it, and rescued it. Cheers Britt. You’re a good egg.

In case that sock is your sock,  the link to Britt’s original Ravelry post is here.

[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Conspicuous consumption refers to the practice of ostentatiously displaying of high status objects.  Think very expensive purses and watches.  In the last few decades, as concern for the environment has become increasingly en vogue, it has become a marker of status to care for the earth.  Accordingly, people now engage in conspicuous conservation, the ostentatious display of objects that mark a person as eco-friendly.

Driving a Prius and putting solar panels on visible roof lines, even if they aren’t the sunniest, are two well-documented examples.  Those “litter removal sponsored by” signs on freeways are an example we’ve featured, as are these shoes that make it appear that the wearer helped clean up the oil spill in the gulf, even though they didn’t.

Well, welcome to the opposite: conspicuous pollution.


Elizabeth Kulze, writing at Vocativ, explains:

In small towns across America, manly men are customizing their jacked-up diesel trucks to intentionally emit giant plumes of toxic smoke every time they rev their engines. They call it “rollin’ coal”…

It’s a thing. Google it!


This is not just a handful of guys.  Kulze links to “an entire subculture” on Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram. “It’s just fun,” one coal roller says. “Just driving and blowing smoke and having a good time.”

It isn’t just fun, though. It’s a way for these men — mostly white, working class, rural men — to send an intrusive and nasty message to people they don’t like. According to this video, that includes Prius drivers, cops, women, tailgaters, and people in vulnerable positions. “City boys” and “liberals” are also targeted:

Kulze reports that it costs anywhere between $1,000 and $5,000 to modify a pickup to do this, which is why the phenomenon resonates with conspicuous consumption and conservation.  It’s an expensive and public way to claim an identity that the owner wants to project.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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

Really I'm Fine

Jul. 23rd, 2014 07:16 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

" For a few seconds, or maybe a minute, I hated being me and I hated being disabled and I hated needing what I needed."

This line, written a few days ago, expressed a keenly felt moment because of a situation out of my control. I've received little reaction in the comment section of my blog to what was written but have, since then, been receiving emails, at least twice a day. The emails break down into two categories: some are worried about me; others are worried by disappointed in me - feeling my 'disability pride' stance is a sham. Both types of emails come from people who I don't actually know and who, even at a distance, care for me.

This morning, I thought it was time to address that sentiment.

I don't think having moments of self loathing (which I stated earlier in the same article) or having moments where a certain aspect of one's body, one's ability, one's personality is hated says anything about a person except that they are human.

It was a moment.

I've had moments like that before and I will again.

Just like someone who might live happy and well as an extremely tall person can have moments when they just hate the constant jokes or inconveniences. It's a moment. It happens.

And it happens over everything ... I hate it when I get so loud at a party; I hate it when I can't work up the courage to talk to someone at a party; I hate it when I get nervous and fumble my words; I hate it when I speak too quickly.

I don't think that non-disabled people get to have moments of like that and we don't. I don't think it's fair that their statements mean what the mean and ours are laden with extra meaning as those who hear slather prejudice on our words like thick marmalade on toast.

I said it.

I meant it.

It's over now.

Still disabled, still proud, still going strong.

|Moments are just moment.


I'm OK.

Mending the Scars of World War I

Jul. 23rd, 2014 05:01 am
[syndicated profile] wonders_and_marvels_feed

Posted by Jack El-Hai

by Jack El-Hai (Wonders & Marvels contributor)

With copper, foil, and paint, a little-known American sculptor saved scores of World War I soldiers from a faceless future.

A facially mutilated French soldier without his mask...

A facially mutilated French soldier without his mask…

…and with it.

…and with it.

In the final months of 1917, groups of wounded soldiers began arriving at an artist’s studio on Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs in the Latin Quarter of Paris. Moving haltingly and sometimes guided by helpers, they entered a courtyard filled with statues, climbed five flights, and found themselves in a large room illuminated by tall windows and banks of skylights. Their host was an imposing American with high cheekbones and pinned-back hair, a 39-year-old Bostonian named Anna Coleman Ladd.

As the men laughed and smoked, Ladd examined them. She studied their shot-off jaws, missing noses, and scarred and empty eye sockets. Doctors could not restore these soldiers to handsomeness, or even to ordinariness. But as a sculptor, Ladd could apply talents that the doctors lacked. She could make new faces—masks—for the men, beautifully crafting them of copper, metallic foil, and paint. And wearing their prosthetic masks, the soldiers could return to the families, fiancées, and friends they had been afraid to allow in their unsightly presence.

The volunteer work of this intrepid artist has vanished from our memory of World War I. During the year and a half she spent directing the work of the Red Cross Studio for Portrait Masks—a division of the French Bureau for Reeducation of the Mutilated—Ladd saved nearly 100 French soldiers, as well as several of other nationalities and civilians, from the deep isolation of disfigurement.

Conceiving the prosthetic mask

Some months earlier, Francis Derwent Wood, an artist initially assigned to wash dishes in a London hospital, noticed the distress of facially mutilated British soldiers and decided to do something about it. He developed a technique of packing facial wounds with cotton wool, creating a plaster mask that fit the soldier’s skin, and then building a clay model of a healed face. Wood took a cast of the clay model and, using an electrotyping process, deposited on it a thin layer of silver. In the end, he had a lightweight and well-fitting metal mask that, when skillfully painted and attached with a ribbon or spectacles earpieces, hid the ugly wounds of battle and offered a more presentable face.

Not long after, Ladd made the Atlantic crossing herself. By November 1917 she had patrolled the front line hospitals for suitable patients and opened her own portrait mask studio in Paris. She intended to improve on Wood’s technique. Using photographs of the soldier taken before his injury, or working from verbal descriptions if no photo was available, she sculpted a close duplication of the man’s undamaged features on a plaster cast. From that, she produced a mask of gutta-percha, a natural latex collected from evergreen trees. Hanging this mask in a copper bath infused with electric current resulted in the creation of a thin, light, metallic mask that she painted with an enamel concoction of her own invention to match the soldier’s skin tone. “If the wounded man was blind, the mask would be equipped with artificial eyes,” Ladd told a reporter years later. “Eyelashes, eyebrows, and even mustaches were affixed in the masks. They were light and durable. The masks will last a lifetime.”

Masks restored hope

In 1932 the French government belatedly paid tribute to her war work by making her a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor—an award she received only because a French diplomat admired one of her sculptures on exhibit in Italy and decided to research her career. None of her masks seems to have survived to the present day; some may have been buried with their owners, and Ladd apparently destroyed others. Her modesty about her war work probably contributed to the quickness with which her accomplishments disappeared from memory. When she died in 1939 in Montecito, Calif., the public knew her as a minor sculptor if they knew her at all, but a handful of French soldiers realized that they owed her their happiness.

Further reading: 

Alexander, Caroline. “Faces of War.” Smithsonian, February 2007.

Biernoff, Suzannah. “The Rhetoric of Disfigurement in First World War Britain.” Social History of Medicine, November 25, 2011.

Romm, Sharon and Judith Zacher. “Anna Coleman Ladd: Maker of Masks for the Facially Mutilated.” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 70, July 1982.

(This post was previously published in different form in The History Channel Magazine.)

[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by spam-spam

  •  how to recruit a diverse team | the evolving ultrasaurus: “There is no quick fix to diversity hiring. The easiest way to hire for diversity is to start with diversity — to start when you add the second person on your team — but if you reading this post, you likely have an imbalanced or homogeneous team. I’ve primarily written this for all-white or all-male teams in tech.”
  • The Problem With Science| Shakesville: “This doesn’t speak well of one of the industry’s leading publications. It also doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence (which, as I’ve already explained, I’m short on) that the folks making or breaking careers by deciding which papers are “sexy” enough to publish are going to have the professionalism to ground their decisions in something other than a creepy desire to excite their presumed readership of straight white cis guys.”
  • A handy template for online trolls: “It has come to my attention that you are [a person of color/woman/ LGBTQ/differently abled/immigrant] and you have posted an online essay suggesting that your situation in life is somehow challenging because of a circumstance relating to people who are not in your condition. As an Internet commenter, it is my mouse-driven duty to anonymously respond to your post. I’m not sure what would happen if I failed to do so, but I saw what happened when they stopped pushing the button in LOST so I will not take any chances.”
  • No More “Put A Skirt On It” | molly.is/saying: “Good news: the next time you draw a person or create a user avatar, you have an opportunity to fight the sexist patriarchal bullshit! Like many instances of patriarchy-smashing, it’s not actually that hard once you get the principles down. Here are 2 simple rules to keep you on track.”
  • Ninja Pizza Girl and The Thorny Tangle of Girlhood | Apple Cider Mage: “The crux of it is Jason Stark, the head of Disparity Games, relating precisely how and why Ninja Pizza Girl came to be. He talks about how the concept came straight from his childrens’ mouths but more importantly he  also describes the stumbles in his own assumptions about not only game design but also about his daughters’ growing vulnerability as they move into teen-hood and beyond. It was a bit of insight that I found intriguing, not so much as a gamer, but rather as a woman.”
  • Opinion: Selena Deckelmann on Portland tech’s gender divide | Portland Business Journal: “I was surprised and horrified to discover every woman in tech I knew had similar, and, disturbingly, far worse stories than mine. Many of these women, successful in tech and making good money, supported families and could not just quit and find another job in the small job market in Portland. Sure, they could move to another city — but with kids, spouses with jobs or in school, these decisions are rarely simple.”
  • Feminism and (Un)Hacking | Journal of Peer Production: CFP for articles on feminism and hacker/makerspaces: “With this special issue of the Journal of Peer Production, we hope to delve more deeply into these critiques to imagine new forms of feminist technical praxis that redefine these practices and/or open up new ones. How can we problematize hacking, tinkering, geeking and making through feminist theories and epistemologies? How do these practices, in fact, change when we begin to consider them through a feminist prism? Can we envision new horizons of practice and possibility through a feminist critique?”
  • San Fran tech types: what you need to know to move to Oakland | Live Work Oakland: “I’d like these young dudes coming to my town to actually see ALL the people coming up in tech in Oakland around me–the many Black, Latino, queer, female, and trans folks who, like all of us, show up in so many different ages, styles, and sizes, but who have a place, just like the white bros do. And  if these new folks coming into Oakland can’t see the folks who are already here, can’t change, I’d like them to just get the F* out of the way and take one of those corporate buses right back to where they came from .”
  • Meanwhile, in an alternate universe… | Infotropism: Read Skud’s take on what google+’s announcement re: pseudonyms SHOULD have been.
  • Canceling TRUCEConf | TRUCEConf: Trust, Respect, Unity, Compassion, and Equality: “I would say that it’s with a heavy heart that I am canceling this conference, if it weren’t for the sense of relief that comes with this announcement. I have struggled with this for long enough. The time has come to let it go.” (We covered TRUCEConf back in November 2013.)
  • “Pay a heavy price for it” | rosefox: “That’s the Frenkel story. He’s supposed to pay a price for getting what he wanted–the opportunity to harass a couple of women–but all he loses is four years of Wiscon. However, anyone who doesn’t want to be around harassers loses Wiscon forever.” (See also: the Chair of the Harassment Policy Committee responds to feedback about this decision, and more general thoughts on harassment at conferences from Publishers Weekly’s Genreville: What Conventions Are and Aren’t.)
  • Free Online Game Simulates Coming Out Experience | GLBT News: “The game is based on Case’s own coming out process, and it allows the player to choose a variety of conversational choices throughout the storyline. Characters remember what you have said, and they constantly refer back to choices that were made previously in the game. The games tagline is “a half-true game about half-truths.” The game has three endings, but like it promises at the very beginning, there are no easy or clean results. Everything is messy…just like the coming out process itself.”
  • Black Girls Hunger for Heroes, Too: A Black Feminist Conversation on Fantasy Fiction for Teens | Bitch Media: “What happens when two great black women fiction writers get together to talk about race in young adult literature? That’s exactly what happens in the conversation below, where  Zetta Elliott, a black feminist writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels, and stories for children, and award-winning Haitian-American speculative fiction writer Ibi Aanu Zoboi decided to discuss current young adult sci-fi. “

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Quickly, and standing up

Jul. 22nd, 2014 08:31 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Hi guys, this is a driveby blogging, since I spent the day riding and hunting up the bits and pieces that I need to camp for the nights ahead of me. (Have I ever mentioned the camping? It’s not my favourite part of the rally.) Now I’ve got a little time left over in my day, and our good man Pato is coming over to help me adjust my new bike seat. (It’s not good people, not good. Hopefully Pato can fix it. He’s handy like that.)  If I hustle through that, I’ll have a nice evening ahead of me, with some knitting in it, and I can’t sacrifice that, or I’ll be screaming in the street.  (The pressure might be getting to me a little.)

Still, seemed like a good time for more presents, and behold!

From Caroline over at Wool For Brains, we have this lovely handwoven project bag.

Carolinebag 2014-07-22

I know, handwoven! I know that Mother Seraphima will love it. (Not that a nuns Karma was ever in doubt, but how lovely to see her name come up!)

Last year Christina won a pretty skein of yarn, and so this year she’s paying it forward, a lovely skein of merino/rayon/nylon handdyed (by her two little hands) sock yarn

christineyarn 2014-07-22

and she’ll be sending that along to Sue P.

Deb Moran, designer of the fab pattern for these socks Roadtrip to Rhinebeck

roadtripRB 2014-07-22

would like to make five knitters days a little nicer, so she’ll be sending digital copies to Bethany A, Jen K, Edie S, Sarah G and Allison R.

Next up, well  just hold onto your socks. (On the needles, or otherwise.)  Liz S has taken full leave of her senses, and in an incredible display of love and generosity, is offering up the most amazing chunk of her stash.  Three cheers for Liz!

Cascade 220 Superwash -  4 skeins, going out to Suzanne T.
cascade220super 2014-07-22
Cascade Pima Silk -  13 skeins going out to Chris M.

cascadepima 2014-07-22

Debbie Bliss Eco Aran – 5 skeins, going off to the email that starts with Redvan.

debbiblissecoaran 2014-07-22

Debbie Bliss Eco – 5 skeins headed straight to Michelle F.

debbieblisseco 2014-07-22

Queensland Super Aussie -  8 skeins, going out to Allison C.

queensland 2014-07-22

100% Wool (hot pink yarn)  4 skeins for Michelle E.
bulkywoolpink  2014-07-22
Berroco Linsey 8 skeins for Michelle B.

linsey 2014-07-22

Cascade 128 Superwash 2 skeins for Vicki K.

cascade128 2014-07-22

Rowan Truesilk 3 skeins for Nancy R.

rowantruesilk  2014-07-22
Valley Yarns Southwick, 13 skeins for Katie D!

valleysouthwick 2014-07-22

Once again, thanks so much to everyone who’s participating.  It’s an amazing thing, what’s happening.  Everyone on our little family team is a top fundraiser, and they’re getting there one little bit at a time, and we are all so grateful. In case you’ve somehow missed what we’re doing, we’re riding Toronto to Montreal (leaving Sunday, yikes) in support of the People with Aids Foundation.  If you make a donation to anyone on our little team:







and then send an email to me at Stephanie@yarnharlot.ca with “Enter me” as the subject line, and give me your address, and whether or not you’d like to be in it for spinning gifts, or just knitting, then you’re in for the draws, and there’s a lot (and I mean, a lot) left to give away!

See you tomorrow. I’m off to knit and ice my arse.

[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Ken Ham is deeply confused about the Bible. We already knew that, but we just learned that it’s even worse than we thought.

Ham has always been confused about what the Bible was written for (he thinks it’s a science textbook). It turns out he’s also confused about who the Bible was written for.

Ken Ham doesn’t realize that the Bible is a book for humans from Earth. Here is Ham’s explanation for why he says there can be no other intelligent life in the universe:

Ken Ham explains to Elliott that his new friend is not descended from Adam and therefore must burn in Hell.

There can’t be other intelligent beings in outer space because of the meaning of the gospel. You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation. One day, the whole universe will be judged by fire, and there will be a new heavens and earth. God’s Son stepped into history to be Jesus Christ, the “Godman,” to be our relative, and to be the perfect sacrifice for sin — the Savior of mankind.

Jesus did not become the “GodKlingon” or the “GodMartian”! Only descendants of Adam can be saved. God’s Son remains the “Godman” as our Savior. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that we see the Father through the Son (and we see the Son through His Word). To suggest that aliens could respond to the gospel is just totally wrong.

An understanding of the gospel makes it clear that salvation through Christ is only for the Adamic race — human beings who are all descendants of Adam.

Ken Ham thus disagrees with Pope Francis, who recently said he would gladly baptize an extraterrestrial alien who sought to join the church. More than that, Ham also takes issue with Don Bluth — since Ham’s argument also means that No Dogs Go to Heaven.

Ham is partly right — the Bible speaks primarily of redemption for the human race – for those of us who are part of what Ham redundantly* calls “the Adamic race — human beings who are all descendants of Adam.”

But that’s not because we humans are alone in the universe. And it’s not because only humans can be or have been loved by God.

Humans from Earth are central to the story in the human’s Bible because that Bible was written by and for humans from Earth. This is our story. It’s a human medium expressing human truths for humans.

We humans from Earth have our story, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only story. It doesn’t mean that stories from Earth are the only stories, and it doesn’t mean that ours is the only story on Earth.

Consider the lilies of the field — whatever their story is, it’s different from ours. Jesus was sure that God loves them, but beyond that we couldn’t even begin to speculate about what the relationship between lilies and God might be. Lily stories, whatever they might be, would have to be conveyed in lily-specific mediums that are not accessible to us.

But that’s OK, because those lily stories are also none of our business.

Neither are the stories (whatever they might be) of the people (whoever they might be) who live on (or within, or above, or between) distant planets in distant galaxies. It’s fascinating to ponder what such people might be like and what their stories might be — do they have their own scriptures? Do they have their own story of God-become-flesh? — but we don’t need to know their stories any more than they need to know ours.

Perhaps one day we’ll meet them and they will be able to share their story with us and we will be able to share our story with them. Or perhaps we will meet them and be unable to do so.

That’s the case with most of our terrestrial neighbors. Willow, my beloved Yorkie-poo friend, is curled up by my feet as I write this. We share many things, but her story and her relationship to God — whatever that may be – will never be something I can know or understand.

A while back, James McGrath linked to this “Concept Art Writing Prompt” at i09, “The Missionary Seeks an Alien Convert,” a playful illustration by Eric Wilkerson.

Ken Ham would hate that picture.

Ham would also assume that the “missionary” must be the white-robed human. But I think Wilkerson’s picture is far more interesting if we take that human on the right to be the potential “alien convert.”

Maybe the man on the right is pleading with the missionary to allow him to convert and be saved, but the missionary — a fundamentalist who believes in a literal reading of her holy scriptures — is sadly informing him that only descendants of Xyloth the First Mother can be saved. Her Bible, after all, makes no mention of humans from Earth.

Click here to view the embedded video.

* The name Adam means humankind. So Ham’s phrase means something like “the human race race — human beings who are all descendants of human beings.”

Turtles, Turtles, Everywhere

Jul. 22nd, 2014 03:23 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed

So for those of you not on Twitter, Turtle-Bob made a triumphant return last week, all patched up (though with a scar) and was duly released in the garden. (The rehabber informs me that Turtle-Bob is a girl, incidentally. Also, when I arrived to pick up the turtle, I was handed a bottle and drafted to bottle-feed a fawn. Needless to say, I did not resist terribly hard.)


You can see the scar and the lump there--they had to drain the cyst repeatedly, so she'll probably always have some kind of lump, but it no longer looks like she's got another head.

Now, box turtles are nearly invisible when they're in leaf-litter or mulch, so I have no idea where Turtle-Bob got to--she could still be lurking in the garden, she could be in the next county, I have no way of knowing. We commend her to whatever saint watches over small box turtles and hope she lives to a ripe old age, and of course I'll be delighted if I trip over her again in the garden.

This morning, however, as I strolled down the path, I nearly stumbled over ANOTHER box turtle, this one twice the size of Turtle-Bob. He was, for a box turtle, very large, and not terribly impressed by humans. (He looked at me, I looked at him, neither of us retreated.)

It's been very cloudy for the last few days, and I know they navigate by the sun and sometimes wander afield when it's cloudy, so he may have trundled off his territory and into the garden--or this may BE his territory, for all I know, although given that adult boxes have come through before, that could mean that a couple are sharing this particular chunk of their range. I have no idea if they do that. It'd be considered a food-rich environment, I suspect--veggies to raid, worms and slugs to nosh, lots of mushrooms--but this requires an insight into box-turtle behavior I lack.

He most definitely did NOT come in through the chain link though--he wouldn't fit--so he had to come in under one of the two gates with a gap. Or he lives here full-time and I just haven't had a good look at him before because, as previously stated, box turtles can become damn near invisible.

[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

This year tens of thousands of Central American children, fleeing violence and poverty, have been arriving in the U.S. seeking refuge.  It’s a stunning story that has been covered widely in the media and Americans’ opinions about immigration have taken a hit.

The Pew Research Center collected data regarding American leniency toward undocumented immigrants in February and July, before and after media coverage of this crisis began.  The results show that members of all political parties, on average, are less inclined to allow “immigrants living in U.S. who meet certain requirements” to stay legally (see far right column).

The strongest opponents are Republicans and members of the Tea Party.  These groups were more opposed to enabling undocumented immigrants to stay legally to begin with and they showed the greatest change in response to this new crisis.


Republicans and Independents are also more likely than Democrats to think that we should speed up the deportation process, even if it means deporting children who are eligible for asylum.


Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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

[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

The Rev. Canon Susan Russell, who blogs at An Inch at a Time, wound up changing her plans for the weekend when she was invited to attend Monday’s White House signing ceremony for President Obama’s executive order prohibiting LGBT employment discrimination for government contractors. Russell was one of many religious leaders present at the ceremony.

Obama’s executive order simply amends the existing policy prohibiting contractors from employment discrimination on the basis of race, creed, sex, color or national origin to also prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. As Jonathan Capehart summarizes:

President Johnson was the first to use an executive order to protect federal contractors. In 1965, he signed Executive Order 11246 that banned discrimination based on race, creed, color or national origin. He amended it in 1967 to include protection based on sex. Then, [President George W.] Bush added a religious exemption to the Johnson order in 2002 that allows religiously affiliated contractors to use religion as a factor in hiring.

The religious exemption carved out by Bush — and left intact by Obama — applies only to faith-based agencies. What it means is that if, for example, the Mennonite Central Committee were contracted to assist with disaster relief, they would not be regarded as violating the prohibition against employment discrimination on the basis of creed due to their preference for hiring Mennonites (rather than Orthodox Jews, Catholics, Pagans, atheists or Episcopalians). But the MCC would still be prohibited from employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color or national origin.

Bush’s exemption is, in other words, more like Hosanna Tabor than like Hobby Lobby. It says that religious organizations may preserve their religious identity through religious preference in hiring, not that religious claims can provide a blanket exemption from laws applicable to everyone else.

Photo by Man vyi via Wikimedia Commons.

President Obama’s executive order did not add any new religious exemption for religious groups who might claim that their religious convictions compel them to discriminate on the basis of race. That would have been unfair, disastrously undermining equal protection under the law when it comes to race.

President Obama’s executive order did not add any new religious exemption for religious groups who might claim that their religious convictions compel them to discriminate on the basis of sex. That would have been unfair, disastrously undermining equal protection under the law when it comes to sex.

President Obama’s executive order did not add any new religious exemption for religious groups who might claim that their religious convictions compel them to discriminate on the basis of color. That would have been unfair, disastrously undermining equal protection under the law when it comes to color.

President Obama’s executive order did not add any new religious exemption for religious groups who might claim that their religious convictions compel them to discriminate on the basis of national origin. That would have been unfair, disastrously undermining equal protection under the law when it comes to national origin.

And yet, it seems that some were hoping or expecting that President Obama’s executive order would add a new religious exemption for religious groups who claim that their religious convictions compel them to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Obama did not do that. That would have been unfair, disastrously undermining equal protection under the law when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity.

But apparently a handful of religious leaders were worried that Obama’s extension of protection against discrimination was — what did Dr. King’s correspondents call it? — unwise and untimely. A small group of these folks, spearheaded by Jim Wallis, fretted that Obama’s action was not “well-timed” and drafted a letter urging a more cautious, piecemeal approach, accommodating a more gradual pace of change by carving out the kind of “religious exemption” that was never permitted when it comes to race, sex, creed, color or national origin:

“We believe that change in our churches is necessary in regard to welcoming LGBT persons and are committed to working on that,” stated the draft of the letter obtained by BuzzFeed. “But we believe that government action in making those changes would be very counter-productive to our goals of change.”

Happily, even the organizers of this letter eventually realized that last sentence didn’t make much sense (logically, legally, morally or grammatically) and this letter was never sent.

That such a letter was drafted and almost sent, though, is being portrayed as evidence of some new split between “gay-rights and faith groups on the left.” That’s how Molly Ball described it for The Atlantic, but Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches can’t find any evidence to support the existence of such a rift. Sure, there’s the same split there’s always been between gay-rights and some faith groups on the right, but Ball’s claim of disgruntled religious progressives, as Posner says, “has slim, if any evidence to support it. In fact, there is overwhelming evidence against it.”

Posner notes that Ball’s description relies heavily on the response to Obama’s executive order by a group called Third Way. That name might just be a clue that this group isn’t really representative of “the left”:

Ball’s first piece of evidence is a quote from the centrist think tank Third Way, long a player in efforts to find “common ground” on hot button culture war issues, an effort that in the area of LGBT rights, at least, has been rapidly sidelined. Mystifyingly, Ball — who I must add here is a reporter I have long admired — describes Third Way’s “research and activism on gay marriage” as “instrumental to that cause’s mainstream acceptance.” (If anyone can point me to evidence that description is true, I’m all ears.)

The name of that Very Serious think tank reminds me of Alan Bean’s recent sardonic observation that the church always seems to seek — and find — a “third way” when it comes to matters of justice:

Logically, the churches of the segregated South had to decide whether to accept or reject the civil rights movement.  Instead, denominational officials crafted tepid resolutions affirming Brown v. Board of Education or the Voting Rights Act and calling for racial harmony.  Contrary-minded congregations (and they were legion) were not drummed out of the denomination for refusing to open their churches to African American Christians.  SBC pastors weren’t forced to sign off on racial equality to remain in good standing.

Instead, the SBC, with other evangelical denominations in the South, adopted a Third Way approach in which the subject of race was avoided whenever possible, ostensibly in the interest of keeping the focus where it belonged – on saving souls.

… When moral issues are hotly contested there will always be three ways (at the very least): traditional, progressive and uncomfortable.

It was to that Third-Way third group — the uncomfortable — that Dr. King wrote in the epistle referenced above, “I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.”

Susan Russell also offers an invitation to the uncomfortable. Sarah Posner caught up with her at that White House signing ceremony and asked about her response to the trepidation expressed in Jim Wallis’ uncomfortable letter asking for a brand new religious exemption to permit discrimination.

“I think it’s delightful that Jim Wallis has decided to come along,” Russell said, “and he’s welcome along the 21st century train towards making liberty and justice for all actually mean all.”

That’s either a gracious and magnanimous invitation or else she’s really twisting the blade. Maybe both. Both may be appropriate.



Jul. 22nd, 2014 07:56 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Yesterday I noticed a coffee and tea shop that looked both lovely and cosy, I suggested to a very willing Joe, that we head in. The ramp up was unusual because it was built with a curve in it and the railings were like you'd see around widow's peaks at the top of old houses. I managed the curve and then the turn. We got into the building just fine. We ordered our tea and then were given the option of sitting up front near where most customers were sitting or in the sitting area in the back.

We went to the back. There were tables and chairs and sofas and a sense of calm and quiet. Gregorian chant played quietly in the background, and we sipped our tea and chatted about the events in the day. It had been a good day because I'd had a good audience, all 200 or them, who made me feel welcome and who listened with interest and asked questions with passion. It felt good. So we chatted about the day and the conversations had.

We chatted through our day off, the one between lectures, and what we would do. Ideas came and went, slowly a set of plans began to form. Soon our cups were empty and we were on our way. We told them how much we enjoyed this little oasis in our day and we were invited back. It's already on our plan so we said we'd see them again.

On the way out, we encountered a problem. The ramp worked fine for turning up and right, it wasn't doing well with turning left and down. My back wheels simply clearing the space. I was full of calm from the music and from the gunpowder tea, so I tried a few times, finally managing it. Had I been in a different mood or a rush, this could have been disaster. But the place had been peaceful, we had been made welcome, we left well suited for the challenges that would come.

An Oasis in my day. 

I need more.

The Celestial Sphere

Jul. 22nd, 2014 06:15 am
[syndicated profile] wonders_and_marvels_feed

Posted by Miranda Nesler

By Sylvia Sumira (Guest Contributor)

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 11.28.35 AMCelestial and Terrestrial Globes

When one thinks of a globe, what usually comes to mind is a sphere showing the earth. But in the past, celestial globes were just as important as terrestrial ones. In fact, celestial globes, that is, those showing the visible stars, pre-dated terrestrial globes. Though the ancient Greeks postulated that the earth was a sphere as long ago as the sixth century BC, the first record of a globe being made refers to a celestial sphere made by Eudoxus of Cnidus in the fourth century BC.

Early Globes and the Farnese Atlas

The earliest surviving globe dates from around 150 AD and is known as the Farnese Atlas. It is a carved marble celestial globe which depicts the figure of Atlas carrying the sphere of the Heavens on his shoulders. Constellations were devised as an aid to remembering and pin-pointing the positions of the stars. We still use the constellations formed in ancient times. Forty-eight classical Greek constellations were recognized by Claudius Ptolemy (c. 90-168 AD) whose main works, the Geographia, a description of the known world, and the Almagest, a treatise on astronomy, became vital reference works for the creative thinkers in late 15th and 16th century Europe. This was also the time when exploration of the world took off and as sailors from Europe travelled ever farther south, they saw stars which are not visible from northern latitudes. Astronomers compiled new star catalogues from observations by sailors and new constellations were invented, many of which survive today. For example, Crux (the Southern Cross) was first described by Amerigo Vespucci (after whom America was named) in 1503. Other constellations came and went: Renne (the Reindeer) was formed in 1736 by the astronomer Pierre Charles Lemonnier and appeared briefly on globes, but did not survive for long. If one looks closely at the southern hemisphere of celestial globes made after 1760, nestled in amongst the older constellations of animals and birds, one can see Microscopium (the Microscope), Telescopium (the Telescope), and other instruments and tools of the Age of the Enlightenment, all invented by the French astronomer Nicolas de Lacaille after cataloguing the southern stars in the 1750s.

So, the pattern of stars in the sky may be constant but how we organize them into constellations has evolved over time. Now there are eighty-eight ‘official’ constellations – at least for the time being.


Sylvia Sumira is an independent conservator specializing in printed globes. She worked in globe conservation at the National 

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 11.21.21 AMMaritime Museum, Greenwich, London for several years and spent a period of study at the Austrian National Library in Vienna before setting up her own studio. She carries out work for museums, libraries and private clients. Her book ‘Globes – 4oo Years of Exploration, Navigation and Power’ has recently been published by the University of Chicago Press.


Wonders & Marvels is thrilled to be able to give away three (3) copies of Sylvia Sumira’s GLOBES! To enter, please subscribe to our Book Giveaways here!“Book Club” subscribers will also receive updates on all upcoming giveaways.

The entry period ends 11:59pm EST on July 31.

(Currently, we can only ship to winners in the US)


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[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by Tim Chevalier

[Content warning: sexual objectification.]

Obie Fernandez is the author of The Rails Way, the editor of Addison-Wesley’s Professional Ruby Series, and a co-founder and CTO of Javelin, a startup that builds “tools and services to help you change your world”.

Fernandez also, apparently, can’t talk about technology without reminding everybody that he has, on some occasion or another, had sex. Despite being a CTO, he also apparently doesn’t know that the Internet doesn’t have an erase button — which goes to show you that extremely poor judgment doesn’t stop you from getting copious VC funding for your company, if you’re male.

A screenshot of a tweet from Obie Fernandez, which he later deleted

Fernandez’s Twitter bio declares, “Author, Programmer, Dad”. Usually (certainly not always, I’m aware!) being a dad implies that you have had sex at least once. But it’s so important for Fernandez to remind us that he has had sex — with people of multiple ages — that he also has to inject tortured sexual analogies into what could have been a perfectly benign programming language flame war.

At 8:36 PM tonight (in my time zone, anyway, Fernandez tweeted, “still not sure exactly what I’m supposed to apologize for other than being a bit crass about 20-year old people.”

By 9:11 PM, Fernandez had evidently thought about it deeply and carefully enough to issue a retraction. I guess the “lean startup” approach is so powerful that its adherents can go from sneering at their critics (including a risible attempt to backjustify his sexism with an appeal to pansexuality — folks, we’ve been over that already) to heartfelt apology in less than 40 minutes. (I fear that his apology may not be entirely heartfelt, though, as he quickly moved on to declaring that he’s “not a sexist” and attempting to pay for his blunder by citing all the women he hires.)

Readers of this blog are aware that one asshat in tech would have little effect on his own, if he were indeed an isolated case. They are equally aware that Fernandez is no anomaly of asshaberdashery. I think the hapless Fernandez is providing us with a valuable lesson: the message to “not feed the trolls” is a dangerous one. While any given individual absolutely can and should disengage with trolls when necessary to protect their physical and mental health, engaging with them can have value. Judging from his Twitter avatar, Mr. Fernandez is at least 30 years old. That makes 30 years or more in which not a single person in his life has told him that the world generally does not need to know that he has done a sex. Perhaps his demeanor makes them afraid to challenge him. Perhaps they don’t think it’s worth the time. Who knows? But at one point in his life, one presumes that he was impressionable — one knows that he’s impressionable, since nobody acts like he does unless they get rewarded for it. Rewarded with laughs, with buddy-buddy slaps on the back from fellow bros, with congratulations on how delightfully politically incorrect he is, with 1.5 million dollars of venture capital money from the likes of Mark Suster, Eric Ries, and 500 Startups.

Back when I was first dabbling in Usenet in the mid-1990s, it was conventional wisdom that trolls were usually children sitting at a computer in their mothers’ basements. That, in other words, they had no real power other than the ability to rustle a few jimmies for a moment. It’s 2014 now, and some of those children have grown up and become technology executives — people with hiring and firing power, with a lot of control over a big part of the economy. If the adults in the room had spent a bit more time trying to socialize those children (because clearly, they weren’t getting it from their parents) and less time stating their troll-starving prowess, perhaps we would be able to attend a conference without hearing about some guy’s crotch.

Postscript: On Twitter, Matt Adereth pointed out this 2005 blog post from Fernandez:

I didn’t particularly like Ruby the first time I met her. I thought she was interesting, but a few months later (to my surprise) something changed. I started seeing her appealing qualities. My friends really spoke highly of Ruby, so we started spending time together. The love affair began in February 2005 and about a month later, things started getting pretty bad with my wife, Java. Even when I was doing Java, I couldn’t stop thinking of Ruby and how much better she is for me.

So it looks like Mr. Fernandez has been unnecessarily sexualizing technical discussions for fun and profit for quite some time. As Adereth observed, it also looks like Fernandez’s use of the “who said I was talking about women?” derailing tactic is entirely disingenuous.

Never punch down

Jul. 21st, 2014 06:40 pm
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Never punch down. Never be afraid to punch up.

Or we can state those affirmatively: Punch up. Reach down.

That covers about 94 percent of being a decent person. And if you get that right, the other 6 percent will probably take care of itself.

Here’s a bunch of other people saying the same thing.

• George Orwell on Charles Dickens:

Where he is Christian is in his quasi-instinctive siding with the oppressed against the oppressors. As a matter of course he is on the side of the underdog, always and everywhere.

• Joy Bennett, “Defending the Powerful Is Not Our Mission”

Defending the powerful, the visible, the ones with plenty of resources, is exactly the opposite of what God tells us to do.

It’s a recurring theme throughout the prophets and the wisdom literature. We serve a God who rescues the weak, protects the defenseless, cares for the poor and orphan and widow. And God tells us to do the same.

• Molly Ivins, “Lyin’ Bully”

The kind of humor Rush Limbaugh uses troubles me deeply, because I have spent much of my professional life making fun of politicians. I believe it is a great American tradition and should be encouraged. We should all laugh more at our elected officials — it’s good for us and good for them. So what right do I have to object because Limbaugh makes fun of different pols than I do?

I object because he consistently targets dead people, little girls, and the homeless — none of whom are in a particularly good position to answer back. Satire is a weapon, and it can be quite cruel. It has historically been the weapon of powerless people aimed at the powerful. When you use satire against powerless people, as Limbaugh does, it is not only cruel, it’s profoundly vulgar.

• Kaoru, “Punching Up”

Punching down is a concept in which you’re assumed to have a measurable level of power and you’re looking for a fight. Now, you can either go after the big guy who might hurt you, or go after the little guy who has absolutely no shot. Either way, you’ve picked a fight, but one fight is remarkably more noble and worthwhile than the other. Going after the big guy, punching up, is an act of nobility. Going after the little guy, punching down, is an act of bullying.

• Rebekah Mays, “Why I Stopped Laughing at the Bed Intruder Song”

Humor, when it’s directed at a person, takes away some of that person’s power. If the person is weak or vulnerable, it’s the exact opposite of compassion to laugh at that person – it’s cruelty.

But change the object of ridicule and it’s a completely different story. Humiliating people or organizations who are misusing their power is a potent way to lessen, or even stop, their oppressive behavior.

• Catie Wilkins, for “Stand Up, Not Punch Down”

Comedy is about taking down the bullies. Traditionally in a carnivalesque way, the lowly, marginalized people would get to have their say and ridicule those with power: The fool is King for a day. … The whole thing falls apart when comedians kick down, and attack the most vulnerable members of society. It’s lazy and hack to use derogatory slurs instead of punch-lines, and not in the original spirit of comedy.

[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Let me revisit what I’m trying to say in the previous post — “Without justice, we’re not reading the same book.” Tony Jones points toward something similar in his recent discussion of Matthew Vines’ book God and the Gay Christian:

Vines’s book is oddly lacking in autobiography. He briefly recounts the day that he came out to his parents — “my dad’s worst day” — but then gets right to his argument that long-term, monogamous, same-sex relationships are not contrary to the Bible because they’re never mentioned in the Bible.

Vines’s father plays a large role in the book. Vines the younger repeatedly tells how his father changed his mind on this verse or that view based on the study that the two undertook together. Although it’s clear that Matthew’s orientation was the impetus for the project, he never suggests that his own attempt to live as a holistic person or his father’s love for his son had any effect on changing either of their minds. They cast their stance as a totally intellectual decision: they studied the Bible and changed their minds. This book, Matthew hopes, will do the same for many others.

I share Tony’s doubt that this process happened the way Vines says (and, I think, genuinely believes) it did. White evangelicals imagine that they’re reading the Bible and then making ”totally intellectual decisions.” That’s not how humans work. Vulcans make “totally intellectual decisions.” Humans almost never do. For humans, the presence or absence of love is never irrelevant.

Without love, without being influenced by love, no human can ever “study the Bible and change their mind.”

“If I understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith … but do not have love, I am nothing.”

If that strikes you as a radical hermeneutical claim, you’re right. But it’s also exactly what the Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13. That’s not just something pretty to be read at weddings or an ethical plea for everybody to be more nice. Paul is talking about epistemology — he says that without love we are incapable of knowing. Incapable of knowing God, knowing others, knowing ourselves, knowing anything. Without love, Paul says, what we think we understand or know amounts to “nothing.”

Or, in other words, love changes our minds. It is the change in our minds that makes changing our minds possible. Love is not an alternative to making “intellectual decisions,” it is the basis — the starting point — for any intellectual decision. Vines’ dad was only able to “study the Bible and change his mind” because he loved his son.

The important thing, my point here, is that both halves of that are true. Love was what enabled this man to “change his mind.” But also love was the only reason this man was able to study the Bible.

Revelation comes with reconciliation, or it doesn’t come at all.

[syndicated profile] aqueductpress_feed

Posted by Timmi Duchamp

Call for Materials

Aqueduct Press is seeking submissions that engage with WisCon 38 (2014) and its programming.  (You need not have attended WisCon in order to submit a piece for this anthology.)  We are especially interested in material on the themes of intersections and alliances (although we will consider other responses to the convention). 

We find ourselves considering what it means to live at the intersections of various identities, some of them more privileged than others.  We ask how we can function as good allies to each other in often challenging situations.  We’re living through an intense time of social change, and a variety of questions arise as we have these often difficult conversations about feminism, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and more.  Among them are questions about what leads to positive social change and how best to effect such change in our communities. 

We may be in conflict with one another about optimal tactics, yet we share the same goals for positive social progress and a healthy, safe, and welcoming community.  In conversation with each other, we hope this volume will help elucidate some of these difficult but necessary questions.  Passion is welcome, and nuance, even more so.

This will be a mixed-genre volume:  essays, short fiction, poetry, art, comics, are all welcome.  Preferred word length is variable, but ideally 1000 – 5000 words for prose.  We offer contributor’s copies and a nominal payment.  We are also looking for cover artwork, for which we can offer $100.

Submission deadline is October 15, 2014.  E-mail submissions to mohanraj@mamohanraj.com, with the subject line WISCON SUB:  [title].  You may submit up to 3 items.  You may submit in multiple genres if desired.

Mary Anne Mohanraj, Editor

I think they have a calendar

Jul. 21st, 2014 05:09 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

We have squirrel problems. I know I’ve mentioned this. I even wrote a story about one particular furred lunatic in Yarn Harlot.  That one stole fleece and yarn, and generally had a wool fetish that was a wonder to behold.  Anything I put out there to dry, he was off with – right up until Rams and Presbytera invented the squirrel deterrent system way back in 2007.  (I still use that. Works a treat – although it could also be that the squirrel in question has passed from this earth to his eternal wool laden reward. Squirrels still try to get into my yarn and wool, but not with the fearless aggression of the squirrel of 2007-2009. That little arsehole was legend.)

The trouble doesn’t end with the yarn though, and I dare say that out of everything the squirrels have screwed with over the years, the wool and yarn (while being the most enraging and deeply personal of the attacks) has been the least expensive. These insensitive members of the order rodentia have ruined wiring, chewed multiple holes in our roof so that they can nest in our attic, stripped shingles off the porch for no reason other than their own entertainment, and have taken to crapping in just about the most offensive spots in my garden.  They are completely unafraid of all humans, simply can’t be scared off of any part of the urban landscape and while you’d expect their wool fetish to endear them to me, It doesn’t.  Far from feeling a sense of camaraderie or understanding for a little mammal just trying to keep warm in the harsh Canadian winter, I have always felt that the squirrels attacks on my person and property were personal.

Joe, who hates squirrels as much as I do, does occasionally try to talk me down. The squirrels are, he maintains, simply trying to do what we do.  They just want to have a nice home, keep warm, get enough to eat, have a nice family… they’re just being… squirrels. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing loving or generous in his heart for them. He just thinks that when a squirrel rips a hole in your roof and gives birth in your insulation, that they’re running on instinct, not making a personal attack on us based on who we are as people. This doesn’t stop him from calling them names while we write the cheque to the roofer, but you dig where I’m going. (For the record, if I was a roofer, I would LOVE squirrels.  I would have a squirrel stencil on the side of my new car that the squirrels bought for me when they chewed through another twelve roofs. I would feed them bon-bons off my porch and sit around with my electrician friends toasting chewed through wiring in attics and making plans to go to the Bahamas together. I would be talking about how we could encourage Toronto’s squirrel population. In short, if I were a Toronto roofer, the only animal I would love more than squirrels is freakin’ raccoons.)

Up until now, I’ve felt a little bit like Joe was right.  I mean, I like wool, they like wool, I like to be warm, they like to be warm… their existence probably isn’t the attack on my personhood that it feels like.  I shouldn’t take it so personally, you know what I mean? Sure.  Then yesterday morning I headed outside to go on the last official training ride of this year.  The bike rally rolls out on Sunday, and I think we’re ready.  I had my bike tuned up a couple of weeks ago, because really, there’s nothing worse than a broken bike on the road, and you want to make sure that everything is in good working order, but on the other hand, you don’t want to make any last minute changes to the bike.

I pulled my bike out of the little roofed bike spot in the back, and put my hand on the seat to turn it.

eatenseat 2014-07-21

THE %^&*&^%$#ing SQUIRRELS HAVE EATEN MY BIKE SEAT. Took a big freaking chunk out of it, and they ate my seat-bag too.  Just gnawed it the freak up, and scratched the hell out of the inner tube that was in there, and let me be clear, that’s all that was in there. Bike repair stuff.  Not bike repair stuff smeared with peanut butter, and my seat wasn’t sprayed with the pheromones of another squirrel in heat, and there is no reason, my friends, no damned reason at all for a squirrel to EAT YOUR BICYCLE SEAT.  That’s not squirrels being squirrels. That’s not instinct.  There’s nothing in wreaking my bike that supports the betterment of that squirrels life, unless we include his personal satisfaction.

eatenseatbag 2014-07-21

That, my friends, was personal.  More than that, it was rather mean, and disturbingly prescient. My bike has been outside all summer. All spring and summer. Every day.  There’s been ample opportunity to eat my freakin’ seat if the urge was there. Did they? No- no, they waited. Biding their time, lingering by the bike and whispering to each other “Wait… not yet. Be patient. We must not eat the seat until no time at all remains to break in another saddle before the rally. Restraint, my brethren.  Soon we eat the seat.”

Freakin’ squirrels.

[syndicated profile] pervocracy_feed
Home stretch, you guys.  And a tough stretch it is.  This chapter is almost entirely composed of emails.  Here's that bug-eyed guy graphic again.

It's originally meant to illustrate "how can I ever live up to this sexy, sexy book?"  I have to assume he'd opened it to a section that wasn't forty pages of grouchy emails.

Content warnings for this chapter: Do I have to say emotional abuse?  You know there's emotional abuse.  Jealousy.  Stalking, SO MUCH STALKING.  Homophobia.  Physical abuse.  Kidnapping.  Slut-shaming.  Child molestation.  Excessive drinking.  And other sexy romantic things.

Also, this chapter (and hence this entry) is loooong.  FYI.

I am manicured, massaged, and I’ve had two glasses of champagne. The First Class lounge has many redeeming features. [...] 
I open up my MacBook, hoping to test the theory that it works anywhere on the planet.
...I'm pretty sure it's going to work.

(Yeah, yeah, what she means is probably "it has a 3G modem that works on many networks," but since the lounge almost certainly has wifi, it's kind of pointless right now.)
From: Anastasia Steele 
Subject: Over-Extravagant Gestures 
Date: May 30 2011 21:53 
To: Christian Grey 
Dear Mr. Grey 
What really alarms me is how you knew which flight I was on. Your stalking knows no bounds. Let’s hope that Dr. Flynn is back from vacation. I have had a manicure, a back massage, and two glasses of champagne – a very nice start to my vacation. Thank you. 
I'm only doing this once because it would be incredibly ponderous to repeat it every time, but this is what every email in the book looks like.  For dozens of pages.  LITERATURE.

Anyway, Ana's right, it is very alarming.  Airlines don't give out "X is on Y flight" information, specifically because of how common stalking is.  But of course Buster SharkPants is Just That Powerful, and there's nothing sexier than a rich guy throwing his weight around until people let him get away with breaking important security rules.

As for Dr. Flynn (Saw ClampSpline's therapist), even in the unlikely event he's competent and not just being paid to say "you're wonderful, change nothing" over and over, he's only going to help with things his patient describes as problems.  Since I'm sure Axe BodySpray will characterize things as "I try so hard but my relationship is troubled" instead of "I stalk my girlfriend when I can't beat her," there's not much Dr. Flynn can do.
[email from Übel BöseKopf:] Who was massaging your back? [...]
Aha! Pay back time. Our flight has been called so I shall email him from the plane. It will be safer. I almost hug myself with mischievous glee.
This super powerful and confident dominant has turned into my mother circa 1999, yelling "were there boys at this party?!?"  And Ana's characterization is running right off the rails.  She's terrified of the guy, but once again she's all "tee hee I'm so naughty" about baiting him.  I don't get this.  Maybe it's an attempt to take back some power, to make her tormentor ridiculous?  Or does she want to set him off because it's better than not knowing what the next blow-up will be about?

I suppose the in-universe explanation is that she wants to set him off because she loves his punishments, but that would sell better if she wasn't always crying about how much she hates his punishments.
Dear Sir, A very pleasant young man massaged my back. Yes. Very pleasant indeed. I wouldn’t have encountered Jean-Paul in the ordinary departure lounge – so thank you again for that treat. [...][email ends][...] Oh, he’s going to flip out – and I shall be airborne and out of reach. Serves him right. If I’d been in the ordinary departure lounge then Jean-Paul wouldn’t have gotten his hands on me. He was a very nice young man, in a blonde, perma-tanned way – honestly, who has a tan in Seattle? It’s just so wrong. I think he was gay – but I’ll just keep that detail to myself.
Okay, "serves him right," so she... wants to make him angry as revenge for buying her an unwanted first-class upgrade, even though she knows he'll take it out on her later, she feels it's worth it to upset him. This sounds like the most superfantastical relationship ever.

I'm sure she knew Jean-Paul was gay because of the way he kept calling her "girrrllfriend" and flipping his wrist at her, because I've seen Chick Tracts with less lazily offensive characterization than this book.

It's also lazy of the author to make him gay, because hey, what if Jean-Paul was straight?  What if he was straight and gave her a purely professional massage and that was something Dowel BentRod just had to deal with?  News flash: sometimes your partner will encounter people who could be attracted to them.  I'll wait here while you recover your monocle.
“Miss Steele, you’ll need to stow your laptop for take-off,” the over-made-up flight attendant says politely. [...] She hands me a soft blanket and pillow, showing her perfect teeth.
Was that really necessary?  For chrissakes, Buff Wonderful isn't even here, and still every woman onscreen has to be a caricatured sexual threat?
The plane jolts as it pulls away from its stand, and I breathe a sigh of relief but feel a faint tingle of disappointment too… no Christian for four days. I take a sneak peek at my BlackBerry.  [email:] Dear Miss Steele, I know what you’re trying to do – and trust me – you’ve succeeded. Next time you’ll be in the cargo hold, bound and gagged in a crate.
ANA!  You're supposed to be in airplane mode!  You shut that off right now, young lady!

Anyway, ha ha, those threats of physical violence sure are hilarious from the guy who's repeatedly been physically violent to her!
Holy crap. That’s the problem with Christian’s humor – I can be never be sure if he’s joking or if he’s seriously angry. I suspect on this occasion he’s seriously angry. Surreptitiously, so the flight attendant can’t see, I type a reply under the blanket. [...] You see – I have no idea if you’re joking – and if you’re not – then I think I’ll stay in Georgia. Crates are a hard limit for me. Sorry I made you mad. Tell me you forgive me.
Once again, I don't know Ana's deal here.  Like, she set out to make him angry, and now she's really shocked that he's angry?  I don't want to criticize her too much, though.  She's a little inconsistent sometimes.  He's threatening to throw her in a box because she got a massage.  I think he's the problem here.
To: Christian Grey: [...] I like traveling first class, it’s so much more civilized than coach. So thank you. I mean it – and I did enjoy the massage from Jean Paul. He was very gay.
My sympathies are still with Ana, because she's the one suffering the abuse, but man, some days she is not an easy person to like.
You were right when you said I didn’t have a submissive bone in my body… and I agree with you now. Having said that, I want to be with you, and if that’s what I have to do, I would like to try, but I think I’ll suck at it and end up black and blue – and I don’t relish that idea at all.
This whole "you're not a submissive" thing is... it's entirely correct.  She's not.  That's fine.  Most people aren't.  This is a fact, not a problem.

The weird thing is that Dirk HardWood isn't even trying to make her into a submissive.  In another BDSM novel, this is where "I will train you in submission until you love it" would come in, but in this one, he sits on his ass and complains about her not being submissive.  His training method is to pout until she trains herself with zero guidance or support.

You know, for all his talk about being the Domliest Dominant Who Ever Dominated, he's kind of lacking in actual... domination.  I mean, that means different things in different relationships, but my general idea of a dom is someone who gives orders and enjoys receiving service.  Goofus BreakWhip here isn't really doing that.  He hardly ever gives Ana clear, achievable orders.  There's sort of the implicit orders of "put up with all the crap I do to you" and "never interact with another heterosexual man", but beyond that?  Even if Ana were a super enthusiastic submissive, he's not giving her much to work with.
My mother lounges beside me in a ridiculously large floppy sun hat and Jackie O shades, sipping a Coke of her own. We are on Tybee Island Beach, just three blocks from home. She holds my hand. My fatigue has waned, and as I soak up the sun, I feel comfortable, safe, and warm. For the first time in forever, I start to relax.
Every time Ana is in a safe place, we get another one of those "E.L. James, how could you not know what you were writing?" moments, because she seems very happy in Georgia.  Way, way happier than she ever is when she's around her supposed lover.  This is sort of the opposite of how romance works.

After some lying in the sun not being completely miserable, Ana checks her email again.  It's an enormous, multi-page, wall-to-wall "you don't understaaaaand me" whine from Smurf ChopSticks, so I'll try and spare you and only quote bits.
I am annoyed that as soon as you put some distance between us, you communicate openly and honestly with me. Why can’t you do that when we’re together?
Well, probably because every time she does, you threaten or outright beat her for it.  Just a guess.
I apologize for frightening you. I find the thought of instilling fear in you abhorrent.

Do you really think I’d let you travel in the hold? I offered you my private jet for heaven’s sake.
Ah, the old "swing your fist at them and then yell 'why are you flinching? you think I'd punch you? imagine how that makes me feel!'" game.  Always a favorite of... super sexy romantic heroes, yes, that's definitely how that sentence ends.
What I think you fail to realize is that in Dom/sub relationships it is the sub that has all the power. That’s you. I’ll repeat this – you are the one with all the power. Not I. In the boathouse you said no. I can’t touch you if you say no – that’s why we have an agreement – what you will and won’t do. If we try things and you don’t like them, we can revise the agreement. It’s up to you – not me.

Everything he's saying here is great, if we ignore the minor detail that it has absolutely nothing to do with his behavior in the entire book up to this point.

Yeah, she said no in the boathouse--and he said "since you don't want to be spanked you have to let me fuck you."  (Then threatened to spank her anyway.)  That's not "I can't touch you if you say no."  That's "I will slightly modify how I touch you if you say no.  If I feel like it."
I want to share my lifestyle with you. I have never wanted anything so much. Frankly I’m in awe of you, that one so innocent would be willing to try.
What does that mean?  Everyone who does BDSM is a newcomer when they start.  Are we all awe-inspiring?  I mean, I know I am, but...

...but the actual implication here is that he's in awe that a nice girl wants to do BDSM, instead of the dirty sluts who are usually into it.
I will endeavor to keep an open mind, and I shall try and give you the space you need and stay away from you while you are in Georgia. [Ana's reaction:] He’s going to try and stay away! Does this mean he might fail to stay away?
Well shit, she's getting pretty good at this game.
“Now that’s an impressive piece of technology.” [Ana's mom] points to my laptop. Oh crap. “Oh… this?” I strive for casual, surprised nonchalance. Will Mom notice? She seems to have grown more astute since I acquired a ‘boyfriend’. “Christian lent it to me. I think I could pilot the space shuttle with it, but I just use it for emails and Internet access.” 
Really it’s nothing. Eyeing me suspiciously, she sits down on the bed and tucks a stray lock of hair behind my ear. “Has he emailed you?” Oh double crap. “Yeah.” My nonchalance is wearing thin, and I flush. “Perhaps he’s missing you, huh?” “I hope so, Mom.” “What does he say?” Oh triple crap.
We're up to triple crap here.  This is serious business, this... um, telling your mom that your boyfriend lent you a laptop so you can email him.  Not quite sure why this is such a tense conversation.

Maybe because the next thing that happens is Ana and Methyl MerCaptan have incredibly drawn-out, hilariously bad email sex.  IN THEIR SUBJECT LINES.  THIS IS A THING THAT HAPPENS.
From: Anastasia Steele Subject: Panting Date: May 31 2011 19:33 [...]
From: Christian Grey Subject: Groaning Date: May 31 2011 16:35
oh my sweet goodness

After dinner, they email again, and what with the email headers and their tendency to speak in frustrated questions and clipped answers, this means that an utterly inane "how was your dinner?" conversation stretches over four pages.

Jack SteelCrank mentions he had an old friend over for dinner, and Ana decides that this must mean his molester "Mrs. Robinson," which sounds like sort of an unreasonable jump until you realize he's never mentioned having any other friends.  As per usual, Ana has a jealousy freak-out, because that's obviously the reasonable way to respond to molestation.  ("Molestation" is a word Ana explicitly uses, by the way, so that's not just my interpretation.)
I struggle out of bed and fire the mean machine up again. I am on a mission. I drum my fingers impatiently waiting for the blue screen to appear. I hit Google images and enter ‘Christian Grey’ into the search engine. [...] Then, on the third page, there’s a picture of me, with him, at my graduation. His only picture with a woman, and it’s me. Holy cow! I’m on Google!
Holy cow!  Everyone is "on Google"!  Google is a Panopticon!

Anyway, after copious amounts of angst over anything and everything, Ana goes to the bar with her mom and starts tossing back Cosmopolitans to drown her "my boyfriend was molested, poor me" sorrows.

Man, there is a lot of drinking in this book.  Fuzz WhaleFeet first kidnaps Ana when she's staggering drunk, then feeds her tons of alcohol every time they talk, explicitly saying it's because when she's drunk she's more open to BDSM.  When she tries to order a soda, he insists she gets wine instead.  Then when she's away from him, she relaxes with a few more drinks.

She emails Brunt FussThud again from the bar, because of course she does, and after some snippy back-and-forths about "Mrs. Robinson" (wasn't the guy in The Graduate like 21, anyway?), he sends this:
To: Anastasia Steele 
This is not something I wish to discuss via email. How many Cosmopolitans are you going to drink? 
Christian Grey CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. 
Holy fuck, he’s here.
Oh Jesus Christ Ana RUN.

Solicitation on flipping the script

Jul. 21st, 2014 03:00 pm
[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by Guest Blogger

This is a guest post by April Wright. April is a graduate student in evolutionary biology at the University of Texas at Austin. When she’s not crunching data at her computer, she teaches courses for novice biologists so they can learn some computation. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, gaming, running with her dogs and spending time in the kitchen. You can get ahold of her at her website or Twitter.

So I wrote a blog post that went a little bit viral the other day. And a lot of people have asked in the past couple days what can be done to improve the atmosphere at programming meetings. I’ve been chewing on that pretty substantially.

I’ve had a lot of good discussions over the past couple days (help yourself to warm fuzzies here).

Reader bioatmosphere made a very good point in the comments, pulled out below:

The burden to fix things shouldn’t be on you just because you’re experiencing them

She’s right, of course. And that reminded me of this post by Cate Huston, which closes with a section called “Changing the Conversation”. I’ll copy the crucial bit (do read the whole thing, though) below:

Are you doing meaningful work?

Do you feel appreciated?

Do you feel respected?

And I’m going to tack on one more:

Do you feel like you’re part of something?

Because I think that’s what really got me: I felt like I was part of something, then I didn’t. It’s not just being snubbed that hurts, it’s a sense of loss of a community I kinda thought I fit with.

Since I have some ears bent towards me for a bit: People who feel integrated in communities and happy at meetings, what about it? What about these communities and meetings that makes you feel appreciated? Or respected? Or part of something? And what could you do to help someone else feel that?

Get at me via whatever channel preferred. [Mod note: while we normally do not encourage anonymous comments, they are acceptable on this post. Please note that your IP address will be logged, but is only visible to blog administrators.]

Border Fences Make Unequal Neighbors

Jul. 21st, 2014 02:00 pm
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Philip Cohen

There is one similarity between the Israel/Gaza crisis and the U.S. unaccompanied child immigrant crisis: National borders enforcing social inequality. When unequal populations are separated, the disparity creates social pressure at the border. The stronger the pressure, the greater the military force needed to maintain the separation.

To get a conservative estimate of the pressure at the Israel/Gaza border, I compared some numbers for Israel versus Gaza and the West Bank combined, from the World Bank (here’s a recent rundown of living conditions in Gaza specifically). I call that conservative because things are worse in Gaza than in the West Bank.

Then, just as demographic wishful thinking, I calculated what the single-state solution would look like on the day you opened the borders between Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. I added country percentiles showing how each state ranks on the world scale (click to enlarge).


Israel’s per capita income is 6.2-times greater, its life expectancy is 6 years longer, its fertility rate is a quarter lower, and its age structure is reversed. Together, the Palestinian territories have a little more than half the Israeli population (living on less than 30% of the land). That means that combining them all into one country would move both populations’ averages a lot. For example, the new country would be substantially poorer (29% poorer) and younger than Israel, while increasing the national income of Palestinians by 444%. Israelis would fall from the 17th percentile worldwide in income, and the Palestinians would rise from the 69th, to meet at the 25th percentile.

Clearly, the separation keeps poor people away from rich people. Whether it increases or decreases conflict is a matter of debate.


Meanwhile, the USA has its own enforced exclusion of poor people.


Photo of US/Tijuana border by Kordian from Flickr Creative Commons.

The current crisis at the southern border of the USA mostly involves children from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. They don’t actually share a border with the USA, of course, but their region does, and crossing into Mexico seems pretty easy, so it’s the same idea.

To make a parallel comparison to Israel and the West Bank/Gaza, I just used Guatemala, which is larger by population than Honduras and El Salvador combined, and also closest to the USA. The economic gap between the USA and Guatemala is even larger than the Israeli/Palestinian gap. However, because the USA is 21-times larger than Guatemala by population, we could easily absorb the entire Guatemalan population without much damaging our national averages. Per capita income in the USA, for example, would fall only 4%, while rising more than 7-times for Guatemala (click to enlarge):


This simplistic analysis yields a straightforward hypothesis: violence and military force at national borders rises as the income disparity across the border increases. Maybe someone has already tested that.

The demographic solution is obvious: open the borders, release the pressure, and devote resources to improving quality of life and social harmony instead of enforcing inequality. You’re welcome!

Cross-posted at Family Inequality.

Philip N. Cohen is a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park, and writes the blog Family Inequality. You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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

Travelers and Insects

Jul. 21st, 2014 07:37 am
[syndicated profile] wonders_and_marvels_feed

Posted by Elizabeth Goldsmith

Unknown-1By Elizabeth C. Goldsmith (Regular Contributor)

By mid-July, it is possible to take a hike in the mountains of New England without being attacked by swarms of biting insects. As I enjoy my new freedom to stroll around outside even at dusk without having first covered myself with nasty repellents or having to constantly wave my hands rhythmically in front of my face like windshield wipers, I think of some of the travel accounts I have been reading, of 17th-century European voyagers to Louisiana.


Adventures of Choice

My current favorite is a recently discovered memoir by Marc-Antoine Caillot, a clerk for the French Company of the Indies, who made the Atlantic crossing in 1729. He had no experience of ocean voyages, and his memoir describes in lively detail the harrowing experiences that were routine for trans-Atlantic mariners and their passengers: storms at sea, depletion of water and food supplies, seasickness and disease from malnutrition, injuries, encounters with pirate ships, a rebellious crew and a sadistic captain. When his ship the Durance finally reached the Fort of Balize on an island off the Gulf Coast, Caillot and his fellow passengers, suffering from malnutrition and dehydration, were delirious with joy. The captain arranged for fresh water to be brought to the ship which, Caillot writes, was “like the best of wines.” He couldn’t wait to go to shore.

The Problems with Land

Once onshore, though, and after having relieved his hunger with a filling meal of beans and cornmeal, Caillot and some companions, who were being hosted by a plantation owner on the banks of the Mississippi, were ready to collapse into a welcome sleep on solid land. Apparently, up to that point, they had not noticed or been overly pestered by the insect population. “When it was time to go to bed,” he writes, “the only bed we had was a bearskin stretched out on the floor to cover ourselves with in order to protect ourselves from gnats and mosquitoes. In spite of how much I wanted to sleep, it was impossible for me to do so, because of those insects that were devouring us. There were so many of them that we were smashing them on our faces by the fistful.”Unknown

After a few hours of this, Caillot was ready to return to the sea. He borrowed a small boat from his host and headed back out onto the water. Inevitably, he had to continue on his voyage to New Orleans, but he never lost his the wary skepticism of life in the New World that began with his first night among the insects. Once arrived, he attempts in his memoir to faithfully catalogue and illustrate all the new experiences he encounters, including a scientific description of unfamiliar animals and insects.

But in the description of the biting insects, he gets carried away, and has to rein himself in: “As far as insects go, there are great numbers of them, especially mosquitoes, which they call maringouins. Thre are also gnats that are extremely small, and you get covered with them, even in your mouth, eyes, and nose. They bite as fiercely as the maringouin, … I will not speak about a number of other crawling and flying beasts for fear of trying the reader’s patience …”



For further reading:   Marc-Antoine Caillot, A Company Man: The Remarkable French-Atlantic Voyage of a Clerk for the Company of the Indies. New Orleans: The Historic New Orleans Collection, 2013.


[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Chris Tilling points us to Adam Neder’s 2009 book, Participation in Christ.

I appreciate Neder’s subtitle: “An Entry into Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics.” Many readers have found Barth’s huge, dense, multi-volume work to be impenetrable, so if Neder has really found some way in, then we should be grateful to him.

Much of what Tilling shares from Neder is still pretty heavy stuff — immensely Barthy and not easy going. But let me share just one tiny bit from the very first page of Neder’s book:

According to Barth, revelation is not merely the offering and acquisition of information. … It is an event in which God establishes an orderly fellowship between [God] and human beings. “God’s Word means that God speaks,” and since it is God who speaks, to hear [God's] Word is not simply to become aware of [God], but to obediently acknowledge [God] as Lord. Thus revelation is inseparable from reconciliation.

Ah, OK. That, I think, explains a great deal. That’s an insight just maybe even bordering on an epiphany.

Just to be clear, when Barth talks about “God’s Word” and about “revelation,” he doesn’t mean the Bible. He means Jesus Christ. For Barth, the fundies have it backwards. They worship an inerrant Bible that tells them how to understand Jesus. Barth worships Jesus, who tells him how to understand the Bible.

When Neder/Barth tell us that “revelation is inseparable from reconciliation,” they’re talking about reconciliation with God — what we sometimes call transcendent or “vertical” reconciliation. I haven’t read the rest of Neder’s book, so I don’t know if he goes on to argue the same thing in the same terms when it comes to “horizontal” reconciliation — reconciliation with our fellow humans.

But it doesn’t really matter whether or not Neder or Barth makes that argument, because the epistle of 1 John has that covered. That epistle never allows us to separate reconciliation with God from reconciliation with one another. The two things are, in 1 John, identical:

Whoever says, “I am in the light,” while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. …

Martin Luther King Jr. exegetes this passage from 1 John.

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

… God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

“Everyone who loves knows God.” “Whoever does not love does not know God.”

“Revelation is inseparable from reconciliation.”

We invite a world of frustration when we try to separate them — even when we’re just separating them in the hopes of then putting them back together. We get this idea that one will lead to the other — that we can achieve one by means of the other. We want to believe that revelation can somehow produce reconciliation. And so we wind up trying to exegete our way to justice.

I respect the effort and I share the goal. I admire the heroic work of abolitionist Bible scholars like Albert Barnes, I’m humbled by the patient determination of egalitarian writers like Mimi Haddad, and I’m awed by the courage and fortitude of young Matthew Vines as he takes on the clobber texts of anti-gay clobber-textianity They’re fighting for justice and truth. They’re right and they’re on the right side.

But I also can’t help but notice that their approach hasn’t ever really succeeded. We can’t exegete our way to justice because exegesis is an appeal to revelation, and revelation is inseparable from reconciliation. Without reconciliation, revelation cannot be seen or heard or understood.

I suspect that Neder/Barth is on to something there. Revelation — an understanding of the Word of God or of the word of God — cannot lead us to justice because such revelation cannot precede justice. They are inseparable — meaning understanding arrives with justice.

What that suggests, I think, is that folks like Barnes, Haddad and Vines aren’t so much planting the seeds of justice as they are showing us how to reap the fruit of it.*

I don’t think this means the work of biblical scholars isn’t valuable, or that it isn’t necessary. I think it is necessary, but that it can never be sufficient. We will never produce justice as a result of better biblical understanding unless we also produce better biblical understanding as a result of justice.

“Aha!” cry my conservative friends, critics, catechizers, gatekeepers and inquisitors. “Just as we suspected. All this talk of ‘justice’ is an attempt to change the meaning of the Bible.”

Yep. That’s true.

Because if you’re reading the Bible without justice, then whatever meaning you think you’re finding there needs changing.

Everyone who loves knows. Whoever does not love cannot know.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* That’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg distinction, perhaps, since fruits and seeds are also inseparable. And I’m perilously close to undermining my own argument by hinting that reconciliation might precede revelation rather than accompanying it. Plus I’ve likely upset the Barthians by invoking their guy and then two beats later collapsing the transcendent into the immanent, and from what I gather that’s not really how they roll. But bear with me here, I’m in the middle of an almost-epiphany and I’m just trying to get this down and essay it out.

The Rhythm of God's Heart

Jul. 21st, 2014 12:00 am
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Posted by Dave Hingsburger

I was waiting, with the luggage, outside the hotel. Joe was getting the car and I was enjoying being outside in the warm sunshine. Then, she appeared beside me, taking the bench a little to my right. She looked at me and smiled. I smiled back and we both fell into silence.

Over the two days we were at the hotel I saw her quite regularly. She spent most of her time sitting in the lobby or out on the patio. She wore a thin white sweater over a lovely pink blouse and a dark pleated skirt. Whenever Joe and I appeared we felt her watching us. Not with hostility. Not with a deep curiosity. More like just a passing interest in those who also were staying at the hotel.

When she was out on the patio, I found her watching me as I got into the van. I don't much like being watching as I do these things and Joe knows how to easily step into someone's field of vision. I think she knew that we'd found her watching a little intrusive because when Joe moved, she was looking down and reading the Bible that she carried with her at all times. Sometimes it sat in her lap, others on the table beside her. She didn't read it often, it seemed a bit like an old friend just sharing silence with her.

I was startled when she spoke.

"That man, that nice looking man who helps you, is he a relative?"

"No, no, we aren't related," I said.

"Is he a paid companion, then?"

"No, no, he's not. He's my partner, we've been together for 45 years this year." I said not really knowing why I was adding that detail.

"Oh Good!" she said, clasping her hands together in delight the way Granny does in the Sylvester and Tweety cartoons.

"Really?" I asked.

"Oh,yes. I admit I thought you were a couple. You are so kind to each other. I'm so pleased." Her hands fell back on her Bible.

"I must say you've surprised me," I said.

She looked down at the book in her lap and said, "Were you surprised because of my Bible?"

"Frankly, yes," I said.

"I discovered long ago that I had to read the words to the rhythm of God's heart, for me, that is the path to understanding."

She saw the tears in my eyes and reached out and patted my hand.

We returned to silence. When she saw the van pulling up she rose and said, "I'll give you your privacy now." And she was gone, leaving the scent of blessing in the air.
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Posted by Fred Clark

April Bo Wang on why poor communities need fewer heroes; Morgan Guyton on Satan as the original troll; Brian Walsh gives an appropriate answer to the non-question of a junior gatekeeper; Daniel Silliman on a Sunday in Christian America; and a new Tumblr where your big sister has got your back.

April Bo Wang, “When Teachers Romanticize Their Students’ Poverty”

I came to Helena to be a heroine. But a heroine can’t be a good social advocate, because social advocacy is all about the community — not about being at the center of one’s own story. Likewise, a romance that requires a backdrop of continuous strife cannot be a successful social movement, because a successful social movement will eventually eradicate that strife. Nostalgia has no place in progress.

Morgan Guyton, “Exit-trolling: The new tactic in Facebook psychological warfare”


There are two words for the devil in the Bible. Satan, the Hebrew word, means “the accuser” or “the heckler.” Diabolos, the Greek word, is a compound word combining ballo (“to throw”) and dia (“in the midst of”), so basically it means “pot-stirrer.” Knowing the meaning of these two words, I generally assume that any and all unnecessary drama is of Satan (whether Satan is an actual being or an anthropomorphic label for a kind of phenomenon). Online interactions are a place where Satan thrives and proliferates like an evil flesh-eating bacteria …

Trolls are Satan incarnated into human cyber-flesh. A troll is not a permanent type of person, but rather a temporary state of being possessed by a particularly poisonous spirit that makes you diabolate and satan the people you’re interacting with. I suppose some people become permanent trolls over time if they don’t have enough real-life interactions with people they love to counterbalance their toxic online interactions. Trolling is such an interesting phenomenon. I imagine it’s no less addictive than internet pornography and probably has a similar biological trigger that reinforces itself.

Brian Walsh, “Christian Expletives and Public Discourse”

A lot of people in that room were suffering from “Post-Evangelical Stress Disorder.” It was precisely the kind of language, spirituality and evangelical culture that lay behind my interlocutor’s interrogation that had so hurt these folks and had pushed them to the brink of abandoning Christian faith. For these folks the questions and the tone in which they were presented reawakened all the bad memories of an oppressive past.

“So speak and so act as those who are judged by the law of liberty,” James wrote.

Daniel Silliman, “Sam Hose’s Christian America”

One can find, today, pretty much every day, Christians concerned about how America is not a Christian country anymore. Things have changed, times have changed, and America isn’t like it used to be. They don’t mean things like this, though. They’re not thinking about the “Christian America” that was Sam Hose’s America.

All that talk, however, of that imagined idyllic past when Biblical morality was given due deference and Christians had a respected place in the public square is haunted by the Sunday when churchgoers came back from a place called Old Troutman Field with bits of Sam Hose’s chopped-up body.

ibelieveyou | it’snotyourfault, “Welcome! What Are We Doing Here?”

Can we use our collective life experience to be a safe haven for kids who need it? Can we tell stories and answer questions and offer solidarity and resources and maybe break some cycles before they begin? Can we do it with humor and transparency, and without coming across like dorky, hand-wringing moms? After all, so many of us are still those kids. So many of us will always be those kids.

Well, we can try. … We’re just people who’ve been through stuff, and we’re here. Ask us anything.

It’s not your fault. We believe you.


30 Days of Kink: Day 17!

Jul. 20th, 2014 08:49 pm
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Day 17: What misconception about kinky people would you most like to clear up?
I have to pick just one?

I think what I'd most like to clear up is the single image I feel like most people have of kink.  I think there's an idea that all kink is super-serious, heavily sexual, involves both dominance and SM, involves a lot of trappings and props, and is between a man and a woman.  And everyone's got a collar on.  Even the doms.

When... there is no one image of kink.  But here's a couple images I'd like to mix in with the black leather:

- Me, fully clothed, cheerfully folding and sorting Rowdy's laundry.  He hits me afterwards, not as a punishment, but as a reward.

- At a party, a woman demonstrates how she uses a urethral sound on her partner.  She's wearing gloves and using surgical lube.  She's joking around a lot and everyone is laughing, including the guy with the sound in his dick.

- Cuddling with Rowdy, I ask him to bite me, and he does, still cuddling me.

- Kinky people gathering in a mall food court, not to do anything kinky, just to socialize and connect in an atmosphere where they don't have to hide who they are.

- A bondage workshop held in someone's living room.  Some people are clothed and others are in underwear, mostly just for freedom of movement.  People are passing around books with bondage diagrams and instructions and trying them out.  Other people are in the kitchen nibbling on the cookies someone brought.

- A different party.  I went with Rowdy planning to play, but the energy just sort of feels off to us, and we're more tired than we expected, so we just cuddle and watch people play.

- A friend playing as a puppy.  He's not doing anything kinky or sexual, he's just going up to people who pet him and fawn over him, as you do with puppies.

I could go on forever.  I'm still missing lots of stuff here--my experiences are really just one little corner of Kinkland.  But you get the idea.  There's a lot in kink that you don't see in images like this.  I don't want to say "it's not black leather, it's t-shirts," because that's just reductionism in another direction.  It's not black leather; it's black leather and t-shirts and pink latex and nice button-down shirts and people running around with no shirts at all going "wheeeeeeee."

Paint the grace you’re given

Jul. 20th, 2014 06:50 pm
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Posted by Fred Clark

The Sunday afternoon links have landed, including: Furry, cotton-tailed Marxists; why biblical genealogies aren’t as boring as they seem; a Klosely-held Kristian Korporation seeks its religious liberty; you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry; plus a bit of the old houghmagandy.

• Global warming is a Marxist conspiracy says Republican Sen. James Inhofe, and Republican Rep. Louis Gohmert, and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. But they don’t appreciate how vast and huge the conspiracy really is. Even the snowshoe hares are in on it. Those little Marxist, secular-humanist bastards.

• This photograph was taken by photojournalist Buzz Aldrin 45 years ago. That guy really would do whatever it takes to get the shot:

• If an all-volunteer military decreases the sense of shared sacrifice and thereby increases the likelihood of war, Doctor Science says, then ”Don’t bring back the draft, bring back war taxes.” Yes.

• The Gospel of Matthew provides a genealogy of Jesus. So does the Gospel of Luke. These genealogies are not the same. They cannot be harmonized or reconciled — either with one another or with the many other, earlier genealogies elsewhere in the Bible. Plus they really don’t fit well with the general timeline of the story of Israel throughout the Hebrew scriptures.

This largely escapes notice and discussion because genealogies are boring. Good little evangelicals taught to believe in Chicago Inerrancy are spared from a traumatic crisis of faith mainly because their eyes glaze over somewhere around the fifth or sixth “begat.”

Anyway, here’s Paul Davidson on everything you missed about Matthew’s genealogy because you stopped paying attention before you even got to Aminadab. You probably won’t believe me when I tell you it’s fascinating stuff, but it is.

• “He claims that he’s being persecuted for his religious beliefs. ‘We are a conservative Christian group,’ he says. ‘My rights were infringed upon.’”

• I’d never encountered the terms “fadoodling” or “pogue the hone” or “ride below the crupper,” but even centuries after their currency, it’s difficult to imagine a context for their use in which their meaning wouldn’t come across.

• You have a plutocracy? We have a Hulk.

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Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

A blast from the past.  Fred and Barney let their wives do all the work, pull out a pack of Winston’s:

Originally posted in 2008.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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

Sunday favorites

Jul. 20th, 2014 10:20 am
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Posted by Fred Clark

Romans 14:16-18

So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval.

Confusion Reigns

Jul. 20th, 2014 04:25 am
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Posted by Dave Hingsburger

There were about 8 doors into the place. I checked, none had an auto opener. OK, it's difficult but I can get through these doors. My right hand is fully engaged with the controls of the chair, so I need to use my left hand on a right handed door. The steps to get through:

1) With my left hand, take hold of door handle.

2) back up at the same time as pulling the door open.

3) when the door is open as wide as possible, quickly switch left hand from outside handle to bracing the door from the inside.

4) slowly turn chair round

5) back up through the open door, continue to hold door wide open

6) when through let the door slowly close after you, holding it until it's shut.

There were two doors to get through, the second was a little harder than the outside one because there was less space. But I didn't panic, I just slowly did it again. I entered into the lobby backwards. There was a young fellow standing there, having watched the whole process. 

"You are pretty good at that," he said, impressed.

I asked him, nicely, what he was doing at the door.

He tells me it's his job to help people with strollers or with arms full of bags through the door. "I only do this on Saturdays, it our busiest day."

"Your job is to help people with the doors?"

"We are going to get those buttons," he said correctly assuming that I'd know what buttons he meant, "but until then this is what I do for my sift on Saturday."

"And you watched me come in slowly and come in backwards."

"Yeah, it was cool how you did that."

"It never crossed your mind to give me a hand?"

"No, you seemed to have it under control."


I still don't know how to think of this. I did have it under control. I did want help. I'm impressed he didn't just rush to help, but thought he should offer. I didn't like him standing and watching me get through the door as if he was watching a reality show clip.

I don't want help when I don't need it.

I say that all the time.

But sometimes I guess I do.

I'm confused.

The Fall of the House of Graham

Jul. 20th, 2014 03:38 am
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Posted by Fred Clark

Now a certain man had two sons. …

Or, rather, he had a son and a grandson. And the certain man we’re talking about here isn’t just some random guy — this is the Rev. Billy Graham.

Graham was the most prominent mass-evangelist of the 20th century. He’s a super-star preacher — the first Christian minister to be honored with a star on Hollywood’s walk of fame in his capacity as a minister. He’s still a perennial fixture in the Gallup Poll’s annual list of the Most Admired Men in America, as he has been for more than 60 years.

It’s impossible to overstate Graham’s significance and influence within his own subculture of white evangelical Christianity. Historian George Marsden has said that during the 1950s and 1960s, the easiest definition of an evangelical Christian was “anyone who likes Billy Graham.” In the decades since then, Graham — now 95 years old — has been eclipsed by a host of other faces and voices that have come to represent and to speak for white evangelicalism in the way that Graham once did as an individual. But none of them has been able to replace Billy Graham as a single, unifying figure in this infamously amorphous, contentious stream of American Christianity. And none of them has enjoyed the affection and admiration that Graham still enjoys. (Marsden’s choice of verb is telling: People such as Jerry Falwell or James Dobson may have collected impressive numbers of followers, but evangelicals never liked them the way they still like Billy Graham.)

Billy Graham’s ethos has been institutionalized in various forms over the years. He founded Christianity Today magazine, which remains the essential mouthpiece for a certain strain of mainstream white evangelicalism. For the past several decades, Christianity Today has served to loosely define white evangelicalism the way Graham did back in the ’50s and ’60s, except backwards. Back then, an evangelical was, roughly, “anyone who likes Billy Graham.” Nowadays an evangelical is, roughly, “anyone whom Christianity Today likes.”

But CT’s circulation still doesn’t rival that of Decision magazine, the monthly publication of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which is the primary institution now charged with carrying on Billy Graham’s mission and ideals.

The BGEA is now run by Graham’s son, Franklin, a brash culture-warrior who seems to long to be a power-player in partisan politics. Under the leadership of Franklin Graham, the BGEA has taken on a new, belligerent tone: fiercely anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-feminist and “anti-government” (whenever the government is regulating commerce, corporations or the environment, but uncritically pro-government for anything involving genitalia, minority religions or minority groups).

I highlighted this radical change in direction at the BGEA by juxtaposing two recent covers of Decision magazine. The first heralds the organization’s 60th anniversary, harking back to the spirit of Billy Graham and celebrating his all-consuming passion for “Proclaiming Christ to the World.” The second cover — for the current issue — nicely captures the ethos and spirit of BGEA under Franklin Graham’s leadership. It shows a hellish pool of lava with the words “Cowards Destined for the Lake of Fire.” Those “cowards” are, in Franklin’s view, anyone who dares to call themselves a Christian but still fails to wholeheartedly embrace Franklin’s anti-gay, anti-feminist agenda (and his personal role as the authoritative general in charge of the culture war).

“Anyone who likes Billy Graham” will be saddened and angered by the way Franklin has twisted his father’s legacy, attempting to usurp the elder Graham’s fame and moral authority for his own purposes. That’s why I usually refer to him as “Franklin Hophni Phinehas Graham” — citing the two wicked sons of the good priest Eli in the Bible. (Or, if you don’t know that biblical story, “Fredo Graham” works, too.)

Some of us have been publicly complaining about Franklin’s hijacking and derailing of his father’s ministry for many years, but things got more interesting this week when the Rev. Tullian Tchividjian joined the chorus. Tchividjian is a prominent conservative evangelical pastor — senior pastor of the Coral Ridge mega-church in Fort Lauderdale and, until recently, a part of the influential “Gospel Coalition” of conservative Reformed pastors. “Pastor’s Tough Words About the Religious Right and Evangelicalism: ‘Big-Time Damage to the Brand of Christianity,’” reads the headline at The Blaze. (Yes, I’m citing an article from Glenn Beck’s online publication, so this can’t be dismissed as some “liberal spin” on Tchividjian’s comments.):

Pastor Tullian Tchividjian, senior pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, believes that evangelical Christianity has been tarnished by its association with the religious right. …

“I think the impression that most non-evangelicals have is that [evangelicalism is] a political movement — it’s a culturally warring movement,” he said. “Closely associating the core message of the Christian faith with a political ideology has always been a huge mistake.”

… “My take on it having grown up in the evangelical world … the sort of rise of the religious right and its close association between the church and politics has done big-time damage to the brand of Christianity in the public sphere,” he said.

Tchividjian said that if he were to strike up a conversation with a non-believing stranger about the word “evangelical,” he believes the person would likely associate the term with social and political stances, based on overall public perception.

“As important as those things might be to discuss, that’s not the central message of what it means to be an evangelical,” he said. “Historically speaking, evangelicals were good news specialists and because we’ve become so closely aligned with political ideologies and culture warring issues, what’s been lost is the core good news message of the Christian faith.”

Tchividjian doesn’t name any specific names or organizations, so what makes me think that his comments are directed directly at Franklin Graham and his reinvention/dismantling of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association?

Well, because Tchividjian is Franklin Graham’s nephew. He is the grandson of Billy Graham.

And Tullian Tchividjian loves his grandfather. That means he’s included in the category of “anyone who likes Billy Graham” — more so than most people. Ever since he was a child, Tchividjian has been steeped in his grandfather’s outlook — in Billy Graham’s long career as a “good news specialist” and in his deep remorse over his many missteps when, Billy Graham has often said, he became too “closely aligned with political ideologies.” Tchividjian’s language in his comments in The Blaze are as identical to the language of his grandfather Billy as they are antithetical to the language of his uncle Franklin.

My guess is that this is a warning shot. This time, Tchividjian is keeping his comments general and generic. And I’m sure he means what he says in a general, generic way — I’m sure he’s not solely thinking of his uncle Franklin. But it’s inconceivable that Franklin Graham and his misappropriation of the BGEA wasn’t among the foremost examples Tchividjian had in mind in this critique of the “big-time damage” being done to evangelical Christianity by partisan politics and culture warriors.

And I think that if Franklin Graham continues full-steam ahead in the direct he’s going — “Cowards Destined for the Lake of Fire” — then we may soon hear his nephew voicing this critique more specifically, naming names.

Now, I happen to think that Tullian Tchividjian’s prescription for this problem is almost as troublesome as the disease. He wants white evangelicals to return to the a-political pietism his grandfather embodied for so many years — serving as pastors, chaplains and evangelists, but never as prophets. This might be an improvement over the current state of affairs — there’s something to be said for “First, do no harm” — but it presents a false choice between combatants and by-standers. Those are never the only options. If I had to choose between Tullian and his Uncle Fredo, I’d side with the nephew because his sins of omission probably do less damage and harm than Franklin’s sins of commission. But again, that’s a false choice.

Tchividjian’s prescription — “refusing to talk from the pulpit about anything other than the Bible” — is incoherent and impossible in practice, leading to a deformed piety that excludes huge biblical themes and reduces Christian discipleship to the pursuit of studying only those few parts of the Bible that we can talk about without sounding like we’re addressing anything else. I want to come back to that in a later post, to discuss in greater depth and detail why I think the purportedly “a-political” Christianity proposed by Tullian Tchividjian and his grandfather is a huge failure of discipleship.

Here, though, I just want to highlight this growing rift between Billy Graham’s son and his grandson. What’s at stake here is the legacy of Billy Graham, which means that what’s at stake here is, in a sense, the future of white evangelicalism in America.

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There's only 25 chapters in this book.  We're gonna make it.

I have to admit, it's all starting to blur together for me.  In the first part of the book, things were already horrible, but at least they moved a little.  Ana worked, went out with friends, graduated school, moved to a new city.  Now we've entered this vague Timeless Zone where the pacing becomes an undifferentiated dribble of "we had really icky un-fun coercive sex... and then later we had some more."  I don't know the month, much less the day of the week, and the relationship isn't developing one inch past the "I want you to submit to me but I don't actually like you" point we were at a hundred pages ago.  Trying to enjoy this book as a piece of fiction is like trying to paddle a canoe through gravel.

Content warnings for this chapter: Emotional abuse and manipulation, bigtime.  Workplace sexual harassment.  Trying to help an abused friend.  Sparkly GIF.

A glorious Seattle morning greets me – sunshine pouring through the full-height windows and flooding the room with too-bright light.  [...]  I lie back for a moment staring through the windows at the lofty vista of Seattle’s skyline.
Which way do these damn windows point?  If she's at the actual location of Escala, the big "skyline" buildings are south of her, and the sunrise is blocked by First Hill. Even if we say it's an imaginary building with the same name, I still don't know where you can go in Seattle that you're downtown, you can see the skyline, and the sunrise shines straight in your face.

...A half mile offshore on the Bainbridge Island ferry, I guess.
Life in the clouds sure feels unreal. A fantasy – a castle in the air, adrift from the ground, safe from the realities of life – far away from neglect, hunger, and crack-whore mothers. I shudder to think what he went through as a small child, and I understand why he lives here, isolated, surrounded by beautiful, precious works of art – so far removed from where he started… mission statement indeed.
I had a kinda crappy upbringing too, but I'm not a super-billionaire-vampire, so I have to settle for living on the second floor and having some interesting fridge magnets and an xkcd poster.
An elegant middle-aged woman is cleaning in the kitchen area. The sight of her stops me in my tracks. She has short blonde hair and clear blue eyes; she wears a plain white tailored shirt and a navy blue pencil skirt. She smiles broadly when she sees me. “Good morning, Miss Steele. Would you like some breakfast?” Her tone is warm but business like, and I am stunned. Who is this attractive blonde in Christian’s kitchen? [...] “Oh, I’m terribly sorry – I’m Mrs. Jones, Mr. Grey’s housekeeper.”
Oh no, not a blonde woman!  "Blonde woman" is universal shorthand for "sexual competition" and that's terrible!

I'm not sure whether to be baffled by Ana's constant jealousy or sympathetic.  On the one hand, she can't get rid of this guy and he's slowly closing a Darth-Vader-like chokehold on her life--she has a lot of things to fear from him, but him forgetting about her isn't one of them.  Since they met he's constantly been obsessing over her and spending about 90% of his waking life either screwing her or screwing with her.  It's not bloody likely that he'd suddenly forget all about her because his housekeeper is blonde.

But on the other hand, for all that he makes his presence and sexual demands inescapable, he's a master at withholding affection. The simultaneous messages of Biff Tardigrade are "you can't leave me" and "you can't have me."  So, okay, I can't really blame Ana for being insecure, not when she has to live in such a maelstrom of mindfuck.

Do wish she wouldn't focus it all on blonde women, though.
[Darth Sufferable is on the phone talking about Important Manly Business Things]: “Unless that company’s P&L improves, I’m not interested, Ros. We’re not carrying dead weight… I don’t need any more lame excuses… Have Marco call me, it’s shit or bust time...  [...]  “Clear my schedule this morning, but get Bill to call me. I’ll be in at two. I need to talk to Marco this afternoon, that will need at least half an hour…  Schedule Barney and his team in after Marco or maybe tomorrow, and find time for me to see Claude everyday this week…"
It's intentionally written to be incomprehensible and all blur into a bunch of Manly Business Not To Worry Your Little Head About, but man, even in sloppily written half-conversations Colt FootStomp sounds like a horrible CEO.  He swears at his subordinates, he works for about an hour a day, and his idea of management is barking a lot of orders at people and then hanging up.

I mean, I'm not saying it isn't realistic, but it does not serve to endear him to me.
I throw my arms around his neck and my fingers twist in his still damp hair. Pushing my body flush against his, I kiss him back. I want him. My attack takes him by surprise, but after a beat, he responds, a low groan in his throat. His hands slip into my hair and down my back to cup my naked behind, his tongue exploring my mouth. He pulls back, his eyes hooded.
I'm getting confused by the specifics of the "no touching Dick WangPeen" rule.  It obviously doesn't mean no skin contact.  And apparently it doesn't mean no contact that she initiates.  And it doesn't mean she can't put her hands on him.  Except when it does.  I have no idea what definition of "touching" we're working with here, except "whatever he says it is," which is really boring because that's his definition for everything.
“Well, sleep seems to agree with you,” he murmurs. “I suggest you go and have your shower, or I shall lay you across my desk, now.” “I choose the desk,” I whisper recklessly as desire sweeps like adrenaline through my system, waking everything in its path.
And then they have shockingly not-horrible sex.  Both of them explicitly say they want it, Ana (wonder of wonders!) internally admits to wanting it and enjoying it, and Louse GropeGroin doesn't hit her or insult her or do anything else randomly shitty during the act.  It's an actually okay sex scene.

I'm still not turned on--I mean, the writing is like "It’s so raw, so carnal, making me so wanton."--but I am sort of goggling with astonishment.
“You. Are. Mine,” he says, each word a staccato. “Do you understand?” He’s so earnest, so impassioned – a zealot. The force of his plea is so unexpected and disarming. I wonder why he’s feeling like this. “Yes, yours,” I whisper, derailed by his fervor. “Are you sure you have to go to Georgia?” I nod slowly. And in that brief moment, I can see his expression change and the shutters coming down. Abruptly he withdraws, making me wince.
Oh, silly me, thinking for one goddamn second that they were having consensual sex because things were temporarily okay.  It was just another piece of manipulation.  Just another crumb of "maybe we could have the kind of relationship you want" that he dangled out in front of her only so he could immediately snatch it back to punish her.  For wanting to see her own mother.

I've been wrong before, but is there anyone who finds this kind of manipulation sexy?  Is there anyone out there whose BDSM fantasy is "guy who pouts and throws tantrums until I obey him out of exasperated guilt and fear?"  Nothing against you if you're into that and you pursue it consensually, and I mean that.  It's just so far I haven't met anyone who's into that.
“Have you bought your air ticket?” “No, I’ll buy it when I get home – over the Internet.” He leans on his elbow, rubbing his chin. “Do you have the money?” Oh no. “Yes,” I say with mock patience as if I’m talking to a small child.
I'm not going to copy the whole conversation, because it's long and annoying, but the key points are:

1) Every time these two talk it's like pulling teeth.  The rhythm is: pointed question, terse answer, angry question, defensive answer.  It doesn't feel like the way that couples or friends usually talk.  It's the way that teenagers tell their parents that their day at school was fine, okay?

2) Bold ZapFino insists Ana take his private jet (of course he has a private jet) to Georgia, and she declines and says she'll book her own flight.  He then insists Ana tell him where she's applying for jobs, and she refuses.  Since I am an Amazing Book Psychic, I predict with a million percent certainty that Ana will end up on the jet.  The job thing's a little less certain, because it's a toss-up between her working for Gort BaradaNikto, her working in a job that seems independent but turns out to be all about him, or her not working at all because that would just distract her from licking his boots all the time.
How could he mean so much to me in such a short time? He’s got right under my skin… literally.
Christian has ordered me to take my BlackBerry and the Mac. I roll my eyes at the memory of his overbearing bossiness, but I realize now that’s just the way he is. He likes control over everything, including me.
But she doesn't like to be controlled, that's just the way she is, and why doesn't that carry equal weight?  I mean, I know damn well why not, I'm just saying.
A woman with long, black, pre-Raphaelite hair standing by the reception desk distracts me from my introspection. She has the same bohemian, floaty look as the receptionist. She could be in her late thirties, maybe in her forties. It’s so difficult to tell with older women.
So now Ana is at a job interview at some place called Seattle Independent Publishing and it seems pretty unremarkable so far.  So please enjoy this description of "pre-Raphaelite hair" and the fathomless age of a wizened thirty-nine-year-old.
“Have you traveled far?” he asks pleasantly. “No, I’ve recently moved to the Pike Street Market area.”
Pike Place Market!  Pike PLACE!  How can you screw this up?  This is not esoteric local knowledge!

(Side note: I used to work there!  Whoo.)
“So why would you like to intern for us at SIP, Ana?” he asks. He says my name softly and cocks his head to one side, like someone I know – it’s unnerving. [...] “You have a very impressive GPA. What extra-curricular activities did you indulge in at WSU?” Indulge? I blink at him. What an odd choice of word. [...]  “And where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” he asks. With Christian Grey, the thought comes involuntarily into my head.
I realize this isn't a book about job interviews, but for chrissakes, Ana, contain yourself.

We do learn that she was a campus librarian, though, which is kind of cool.  It's one of those precious little scraps of humanizing detail.  I mean, I think the actual librarians on college campuses are professionals with advanced degrees and not moonlighting undergrads, but whatever.  I'm so glad for Ana to do anything interesting with her life.
Jack Hyde asks sharp, intelligent questions, but I’m not thrown – I keep up, and when we discuss my reading preferences and my favorite books, I think I hold my own. Jack, on the other hand, appears to only favor American literature written after 1950. Nothing else. No classics - not even Henry James or Upton Sinclair or F Scott Fitzgerald.
She seems awfully scandalized that a man whose job is publishing contemporary books would like contemporary books.

(And Upton Sinclair?  Really?  I mean, nothing wrong with him I guess, but he's not really a Designated Stuffy Literary Author.  Whatever, I'm sure he just happened to be the second Google hit on "what are some old-timey authors to make my character sound smart and stuff.")

And now we get a conversation between Ana and her friend Kate that's just... well, it's legitimately good, in a way, but... oh, just look at it.
[Ana:] “Incidentally – will you please stop winding Christian up? Your comment about José at dinner yesterday was out of line. He’s a jealous guy. It doesn’t do any good, you know.” 
“Look, if he wasn’t Elliot’s brother I’d have said a lot worse. He’s a real control freak. I don’t know how you stand it. [...] But – if you don’t want me to interfere, I won’t,” [...] “Ana,” she pauses staring at me. “You’re okay, aren’t you? You’re not running to your mother’s to escape?” 
I flush. “No Kate. It was you who said I needed a break.” 
She closes the distance between us and takes my hands – a most un-Kate thing to do. Oh no… tears threaten. “You’re just, I don’t know… different. I hope you’re okay, and whatever issues you’re having with Mr. Moneybags, you can talk to me. And I will try not to wind him up, though frankly it’s like shooting fish in a barrel with him. Look, Ana, if something’s wrong, you will tell me, I won’t judge. I’ll try to understand.”

This is (except for a bit I snipped out where Kate says she was trying to make him jealous so he'd value Ana more, which is terrible, but I forgive her because she's still the best person in this book) a really excellent model for how to talk to a friend who's being abused.  Kate expresses her concerns, but also respects her friend's boundaries.  She understands that her actions could worsen the abuse, so she isn't pushy and doesn't demand that Ana leave, and she ends by saying that she's open to talk no matter what.

The scene is brilliantly handled, except... how could you possibly write this and then deny that you're writing an abusive relationship?  I mean, Kate does everything short of slipping Ana a women's shelter's card, and good for her, but this whole dialogue and the things that made it necessary are not a place that erotic romances should be visiting.
[It's been a few chapters since we had email bickering, so here's Ana:] Dear Sir, The morning was exemplary for me too, in spite of you weirding out on me after the impeccable desk sex. Don’t think I didn’t notice. 
[And here's Crud NoseFlake:] ‘Weirding’ is not a verb and should not be used by anyone who wants to go into publishing. Impeccable? Compared to what, pray tell?
Picking on her grammar (incorrectly) instead of answering the actual issues?  I swear, if you wrote a manual on "how to make a character hateable," you'd leave this one out because it seems too obvious.

And it's dickish beyond all human imagining that his response to "the sex was good" isn't "why thank you, I enjoyed it too," but "pfft, how would you know?"
[Ana, still concerned about blonde women and their man-stealing ways:] Is Mrs. Jones an ex-sub of yours? 
[Burn FlintNugget:] Mrs. Jones is a valued employee. I have never had any relationship with her beyond our professional one. I do not employ anyone I’ve had any sexual relations with. I am shocked that you would think so. The only person I would make an exception to this rule is you – because you are a bright young woman with remarkable negotiating skills.
God what a slime.

Honey, you're fooling yourself if you think "I wouldn't have sex with an employee... except for a very special one" isn't the line he gives everyone.
“Ticket please?” The bored young man behind the desk holds up his hand without looking at me. Mirroring his boredom, I hand over my ticket and my driver’s license as ID. I am hoping for a window seat if at all possible. “Okay, Miss Steele. You’ve been upgraded to first class.” “What?” “Ma’am, if you’d like to go through to the first class lounge and await your flight there.” He seems to have woken up and is beaming at me like I’m the Christmas Fairy and the Easter Bunny rolled into one. “Surely there’s some mistake.” “No, no.” He checks his computer screen again. “Anastasia Steele – upgrade.” He simpers at me.
Of course.  I told you I was psychic.

(The "oh my heavens, a first class passenger, what an honor to be in her presence" thing seems weirdly reminiscent of Left Behind, if you've seen Fred Clark's reading of it.  Fifty Shades has lots of class issues, what with the extended fawning over Snort OinkPig's private helicopter and ginormous penthouse and ultra-luxury everything, but this scene is particularly weird about "someone with money is just the most impressive thing ever.")

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to lose myself in an extended fantasy where Ana gives up her seat to a standby passenger and books herself a new flight--coach class, thank you very much--to Alaska and drops her cellphone in Eklutna Lake and flees for the hills and is safe forever.  Mmmm.  Now that's wish-fulfillment.

No Means Force

Jul. 19th, 2014 05:30 pm
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

We were grabbing a bite of lunch at a small cafe, in a mall, right across from a booth that sold jewelry and where ears could be pierced for a fee. A mother approaches with a little girl of six or seven years old. The little girl is clearly stating that she doesn't want her ears pierced, that's she's afraid of how much it will hurt, that she doesn't like earrings much in the first place. Her protests, her clear 'no' is simply not heard. The mother and two other women, who work the booth, begin chatting and trying to engage the little girl in picking out a pair of earrings. She has to wear a particular kind when the piercing is first done but she could pick out a fun pair for later.

"I don't want my ears pierced."

"I don't want any earrings."

The three adults glance at each other conspiratorially and now the pressure really begins. She will look so nice, all the other girls she knows wear earrings, the pain isn't bad.

She, the child, sees what's coming and starts crying. As the adults up the volume so does she, she's crying and emitting a low wail at the same time. "I DON'T WANT MY EARS PIERCED."

Her mother leans down and speaks to her, quietly but strongly, the only words we could hear were '... embarrassing me.'

We heard, then, two small screams, when the ears were pierced.

Little children learn early and often that 'no doesn't mean no.'

Little children learn early that no one will stand with them, even the two old men looking horrified at the events from the cafeteria.

Little girls learn early and often that their will is not their own.

No means no, yeah, right.

Most often, for kids and others without power, ''no means force."
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Last month I posted data showing that, of all the things that might disqualify someone for public office, being an atheist is tops.  I wrote: “Prejudice against those who say there’s no god is stronger than ageism, homophobia, and sexism.” On average, Americans would rather vote for someone who admitted to smoking pot or had an extramarital affair.

We just don’t like atheists.

But who is “we”?

A survey by the Pew Research Center asked Americans of varying religious affiliations how they felt about each other.  atheists were most disliked by Protestants, especially White evangelicals and Black Protestants (somewhat less so White Mainline Protestants).  Atheists quite liked themselves, and agnostics thought were they were okay. Among other religiously affiliated groups, Jews gave atheists the highest rating.


For what it’s worth, atheists feel warmish toward Jews in return, preferring them to everyone except Buddhists, and they dislike Evangelical Christians almost as much as the Christians dislike them.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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


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