Sunday, February 7, 2016

Lena Dunham is leaving Twitter

Didn't she already do that a couple years ago?

Either way, The Girls star is formally leaving Twitter until it becomes a "safe space" for women.

Women aren't uniquely targeted online (famous men receieve death threats too), but the harrassment of women is gendered. And that is a problem, but not one solved by putting more restrictions on speech.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Snowflakes and the Social Justice Movement

He's about two years too late, but that it's Bill Browning making the observation this time that the activist left has gone too far is a pretty big deal given his sympathies to the social justice movement:
The progressive movement is suffering from the unseen blizzard of Special Snowflake Syndrome. A trend toward valuing the individual over the common good has resulted in unintended consequences. Pressured by academia, our method of organizing has gone from an assembly of individuals working together for the common good to a group of free spirits celebrating our collective individuality. Outside of academia, reality tells us that 108 billion people have lived on earth. You’re not that special, snowflake. “Intersectionality” is celebrated as a new theory involving separate personal identities instead of recognized as the age-old wisdom of making allies based on mutual interests. “Microaggressions” require mega responses completely out of proportion to any perceived slight. Our movement has become martyrs without a cause. Instead of viewing the world as a place that needs fixed, the new breed of activist only sees it as broken.
It's a little disingenuous to blame a trend of valuing "individuality" over group goals, given that what these activits identify with isn't their own specialness, per se, but their position on various axes of power. The more disempowered you can claim to be, the louder you can be expected to scream. Unoriginal, but but healthty to see someone so far to the left making the claim this time.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

More on Identity, Authenticity, and Disclosure

This post on identity vs. autheticity courtesy Third Way Trans is the long-read of the week:
Another problem with group identities is that they can result in a loss of individuality. Connecting with a group and being a part of a group can be such a good feeling, especially if it is a group of people that reflects parts of oneself that have not been reflected before. A lot of my own impulse to transition 20 years ago arose in part from my encounter with the community. It felt so good to encounter people that shared the same feelings about gender that I did, as my gender feelings felt like a deep secret that I would never share with anyone and did not share with anyone “real”. Talking to people who had the same feelings and could relate to my experience was so great. I do think it played a role in my adopting the transgender identity. I am not saying that I adopted this identity due to peer pressure, as the reason I adopted this identity also related to the deeply held feelings that I had. It is rather the intersection between my deep feelings ,and the group that led to my development of this identity. I think this is true of most identities, they are the intersection between biological factors, temprament, and social identity. Cross-gender feelings exists in all cultures but how they are expressed is different depending on cultures. In one culture one might be considered a shaman, in another an abomination, in another a transsexual. Cultures and subcultures say these feelings mean certain cultural identities and the ultimate expression lies at the intersection between the cultural ideas and the internal feelings.
Although the post is about gender dysphoria, a lot of this can be applied to other identities, or things that have have been refashioned as identities in the past generation or so. In a very short time, I've felt as though I've gone from being defined by what I know, what I believe, what I think, to where I place on various axes of power. The former can onlt be reasoned as a result of my "privilege." And while it's important to break down those systems that grant power to some but not to others, individuals aren't institutions of power.

Coincidentally, Dan Six from Psych Central wrote about the danger in using mental illness as identity:
We take on these labels as badges of honor or, in my case, ways to hold ourselves back. We cease to be human beings living with an illness and start to be illnesses living with a human being. Do you see the difference? Who’s running the show? You or your illness? I think this blog post is for me today. To let you know, and to remind myself, that we all have days that we succumb to the label. But, we need to remind ourselves, daily that we are not our label. We are not: addict, borderline, bipolar, depression, schizophrenic, cutter, anxiety. We are people: husbands, daughters, friends, wives, sisters, brothers, fathers, mothers, etc. More importantly, we are: Bill, Dan, Jane, Ashley, Ralph, Jordan, whatever your name may be. You are a person with an illness, NOT an illness with a person. Don’t let society fool you, don’t let your doctors fool you, and more importantly, don’t let your mind fool you. You are an individual and you have the final say.
Just yesterday, I saw a headline at a popular ladyblog that thrives on personal narratives of suffering detail ing the author's "identity" as a bulimic. That's a dangerous road to go down, particularly for eating disorders. When disorder is thethered to one's sense of self,  the disease is much harder to treat. I don't talk about my medical history online at all. Not because I'm ashamed, but because it's no one's business, and I hope I have more to offer than that. Unfortunately, it's becoming not only acceptable, but expected, for a woman to "disclose" her suffering like it's some crime. It's scandalous and we consume it like pornography.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Tumblrization of Everything

Despite my initial reservations, I'm back on Tumblr. I'd been away from it for over a year due to computer issues that needed to be resolved first and the apathy that comes with years of feeling forced to nurtue everyone's "feels." Despite its being a hub of hardline social justice activism, I like the platform. I joined Tumblr way back in 2008, before it was known for being THE site for online activism. I liked "curating the web" aspect of it. Things go viral pretty quickly, and it's easier to find your niche than on a standalone blog. But damn, when did it get so fucking hard?

I find interesting things that challenge the current ideology, that I think should be promoted even when, nay, especially when, they are contrarian or dangerous. I save them for the relatively anonymity of this blog that no one reads. And it's frustrating as hell.

For the past few months I've been lurking at a gender critical site that yes, can be bigoted or cruel, but overwhelmingly, the posts are thoughtful and willing to question some what has been taken for granted on the left. And a large chuck of the comments are posted anonymously. That is sad. I see links to sites I used to comment on or read without commenting and nod along, wishing these kinds of criticial discussiosn could happen on Tumblr, where there are likely a lot of people staying silent for fear of being stalked or doxxed or just bullied. I have questions, too, like AFAB people who suddenly, as a prominent feminist blogger who shall remain nameless did, decide that they are not women but genderqueer or agender. How to they respond to sexism? I "identify" as a women, but only in relation to sexism. Meaning, I feel like a woman when it's pointed out to me that I am, and what that means is that I am less intelligent, less capable, lesser. I'm pretty sure this is a common experience, but for those who "opt-out" of femaleness, what does this even mean to you? I think this is a pretty valid question, but one I'm sure on a larger platform would get me tossed into the TERF pile.

I support someone's right to identify however they please. I'm not in your skin. But I also support the right to reject ideology, even if feelings get hurt.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The right and PC

Why is it that so many on the right have a problem with this? Is it because they think “bimbo,” “n***er,” “k**e,” “wop,” “beaner,” and other slurs are appropriate for everyday conversation? -- Mark E. Anderson for The Daily Kos
No. Most people on the right don't think it's appropriate to pepper casual conversation with as many slurs that will fit a single tweet. What people on the right and the left are arguing against are the hardline tactics progressives (and this is one area where liberals and progressives really need to be separated) take policing speech: labeling certain opinions as completely off-limits, words being refashioned as "violence," deplatforming those who fail to fall in lockstep, going after some nobody's employer because they said something idiotic on their Facebook page, etc. These are all valid concerns and certainly not limited to right-wing rednecks who think "they're takin' away mu' FREEDOM!" (Oh look, a stereotype.)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Self-care or infantilizing women?

I found this link on Advice Goddess the other day. The comments were disappointing, though preditable. I have a few issues with narrative surrounding self-care. (Can't you see how careful I'm being here.) One big one is that being able to practice "self-care" is a huge entitlement itself. Not only do most women -- and I'm talking the vast swath of women who exist outside the feminist blog world -- lack the resources or time to perform self-care, they don't even have the concept of it. Juggling two jobs? Trying to take care of aging parents and children on a budget so tight that you have to choose between eating and electricity? Self-care is a fucking fantasy! The truth is self-care isn't a reality for most women.

And puppy rooms and coloring books are infantilizing, but if they what work for you, great . It should be okay to hold these two contrasting opinions in your head at the same time.