Sunday, March 29, 2015

Camo NaNoWriMo: April 2015

Sign up now.

I set my word count at 30,000 instead of the usual 50,000, and I'm editing an existing piece of writing rather than starting a new one. I have three full WIPs that need finishing, plus a dozen or so short stories that could be cleaned up. I'm good at starting, not so good at finishing, and terrible at editing.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Are professors afraid now of challenging students?

This is an interesting read. Not because of what it says, which, looking around the internet, is a pretty common think piece fodder, but because it's coming from someone currently in academia instead of the relative safety of a mainstream publication:
Personally, liberal students scare the shit out of me. I know how to get conservative students to question their beliefs and confront awful truths, and I know that, should one of these conservative students make a facebook page calling me a communist or else seek to formally protest my liberal lies, the university would have my back. I would not get fired for pissing off a Republican, so long as I did so respectfully, and so long as it happened in the course of legitimate classroom instruction.
First off, this isn't a new complaint. Off the top of my head Daphne Patai's's Professing Feminism or Todd Gitlin's The Twilight of Common Dreams, both written twenty years ago, are part of a tradition of liberals criticizing the "illiberalism" of the progressive, activist left. The intersection of politics and academia are also nothing new, though social media has added an authoritarian twist. Freddie Deboer blames job insecurity as a contributing factor, but where in the past some small transgression would have stayed on campus, now a disgruntled student can turn to Twitter and Facebook and broadcast it to a larger audience. Colleges are forced to go into damage control mode. This is obvious. So obvious that it's barely merits mentioning.

But with articles like this one making the rounds weekly, the left needs to start paying attention to the bigger culture that says it's okay, even desirable, to punish someone for having the wrong ideas. It's baffling to me that someone would defend authoritarian tactics that get people fired over tone-deaf tweets, that shout down speakers who criticize the police state as "rape apologists," and that no-platform those whose ideas are supposedly so harmful they can't be said in polite company.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Links & Bits: 3/27/15

It's official. No third season for Looking.

Drag Race's Jinkx Monsoon responds to the charge that drag is akin to blackface; misogyny

Fabulous ladies with fabulous white streaks

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Scary ideas and safe spaces

This is so ridiculous, I was convinced it was satire:
The safe space, Ms. Byron explained, was intended to give people who might find comments “troubling” or “triggering,” a place to recuperate. The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma. Emma Hall, a junior, rape survivor and “sexual assault peer educator” who helped set up the room and worked in it during the debate, estimates that a couple of dozen people used it. At one point she went to the lecture hall — it was packed — but after a while, she had to return to the safe space. “I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs,” Ms. Hall said.
Even if, as Phoebe and Amanda posit (and I'm inclined to agree), there is no real epidemic of infantilizing  college students, the fear of offense is real, and in a climate where an innocuous mistake can become a meme, potentially costing someone a job, the concern is understandable. The Brown example is so beyond the pale, it merits ridicule. Play-Doh? Puppy videos? Are you sure this isn't an Onion headline?

Mocking aside, what Hall said about being bombarded by viewpoints that go against her "dearly and closely held beliefs," illustrates what a lot of people -- okay, older people -- have been saying about millennials being too coddled for college. Honestly, I don't believe this to be true about twenty-somethings en mass, but there have been too many examples lately of college students thinking that it's their right to be protected from words. Not slurs, not harassment, but differing viewpoints. Granted, a rape survivor, particularly a recent one, might be in a more perilous position, but why not just skip the speech if you know it's going to be triggering? When did college become a substitute for therapy?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Raising girls to be feminists

MHP had a segment on Sunday's show about raising girls to be feminists. Personally, I think girls should be raised to be independent thinkers and not indoctrinated into any ideology, and if that leads to some sort of feminist awakening, okay then.

Obviously, raising feminist daughters isn't akin to indoctrinating them into a cult, but I can see how this could backfire, dissuading choices that aren't "empowering" enough, or banning barbies and princess play. That only breeds resentment.

My introduction to feminism came piecemeal. Neither my mother nor my grandmother self-identified as feminists. (My grandmother openly disdained feminism, but as a woman who grew up poor with no opportunities beyond working as a waitress on in a factory, and one for whom staying home and raising children was a relative luxury, I don't blame her.) I have no idea where I first heard the word "feminist," but I had a library card, and as a girl who wasn't into girl things, I was interested in gender roles and society, though I probably couldn't put a name to it yet. I read a lot of disparate writers in the 90s -- Camille Paglia, Katie Roiphe, bell hooks, Naomi Wolf, Susan Faludi, Christina Sommers, Nancy Friday -- that fell under the umbrella of "feminism," and only as an adult did I realize some of these were the "wrong" feminists to be reading. (If you've spent any time in academic or online feminism, you can tell which were the wrong ones.) But I'm glad I did because it gave me more than a singular perspective. I know one thing: had feminism been "offered" to be, either explicitly or covertly, I would have resisted.

This is an odd post for me to write, as I'm still unsure of whether I should call myself a feminist or not. By most standards, I'm too much of a contrarian, too unable to toe the party line, but if you pare it down to a simple statement of should women be free to create their lives however they see fit, of course I am. And I think a part of that is not starting little girls (and why only the girls?) on a "proper" feminist education.