Weinstein Made Us Pay Attention. What Next?

[Content Note: Rape culture; descriptions of sexual assault at links.]

Lauren Holly is the latest actor to publicly disclose having been assaulted by Harvey Weinstein. At the link is a description of what happened, which is very similar to stories other women have shared. And then comes this:

After leaving the hotel, Holly went to a previously planned dinner with other Hollywood notables, who, when she explained why she arrived distraught, said that since Weinstein hadn't raped or assaulted her, she should "keep [her] mouth shut because it's Harvey Weinstein."
That, too, is something a number of the now more than 30 women who have reported being assaulted by Weinstein have reported: Being admonished to silence with some variation on that's just who Harvey is.

That so many people were willing to protect him is probably why Weinstein, according to TMZ, believes this entire thing is just a temporary setback: "Our Weinstein sources say he knows he's 'momentarily toxic' but thinks with a little time, writers and actors will seek him out again because of his track record."

That's partly sheer hubris, but it's undoubtedly also partly the fact that Weinstein knows as well as anyone, and better than most, that Hollywood loves a good redemption story. Rape accusations haven't stopped people from working with Roman Polanski or Woody Allen. A rape conviction hasn't stopped people from working with Mike Tyson. The open secret about Louis C.K. isn't stopping people from working with him. The repeated known violence and rumors of even more didn't halt Charlie Sheen's career. And the list goes on. In a direct line to the White House.

If Weinstein doesn't find work again, he will be a notable exception.

It's hard to imagine that after dozens of women have come forward with harrowing stories of being assaulted by Weinstein that there could even be a chance of his working again. But there is.

Because there are powerful men who think he's getting a raw deal.

Because as much as rape apologists love to claim that rape allegations ruin men's lives, they don't — because there are always people keen to make sure that doesn't happen.

And because one of the key facilitators of the rape culture is institutional forgetting.

It's unfathomable that after this moment, in which so many women and men, including stars like Reese Witherspoon and Terry Crews and America Ferrera, have shared stories of having survived sexual abuse in their lives, that things could just go back to "normal." That we could, collectively, just go back to not talking about the scourge of sexual violence that tears through lives and families and communities, leaving (literally) untold wreckage in its wake. That we could just carry on and not do something.

But we have had moments like this before. We have had clarion calls to disclosure, and hashtags, and marches, and days of amplifying the voices of survivors, and days of sustained attention on a prolific predator and his many victims.

We have been here before. Over and over.

Then, inevitably, people's attention drifts to other things. The outrage fades. Survivors just go back to quietly surviving.

The stories about Harvey Weinstein collapse into a tiny factoid that lingers in the back of people's minds. Just another guy who turned about to be a creep that they vaguely recall hearing about once upon a time.

We should do better than that. We must. What comes next has to be different this time.

That depends on all of us resolving to make this matter in a sustained way. Instead of just gawking at the destruction Weinstein caused and then wandering away. Again.

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Here Are Two Things to Read About Hillary Clinton

Hello. I am so tired of Donald Trump. It is an exhaustion like I have never known. If you feel like I do (and I bet you do!), then the opportunity to read something, anything, about someone likeable and admirable is enormously welcome.

And all the better when that someone is Hillary Clinton.

So here are two things to read about Hillary Clinton this morning!

1. Sirena Bergman at the Independent: Last Night, I Saw Hillary Clinton – Every Young Woman I Told Was Excited and Every Middle-Aged Man Asked Why I'd Bother.

In a one-off event at London's Southbank Centre, the doyenne of US politics spoke candidly about everything from those godforsaken emails to how we can fight endemic societal sexism.

She didn't say much you won't already have heard if you've listened to any of the myriad interviews she's been giving while promoting her book about the 2016 election campaign, the poignantly titled What Happened. But in those 90 minutes I spent in the audience, furiously taking notes and revelling in the buzzing atmosphere, I saw for the first time that she shouldn't just have won that election because she was the voters' rightful choice, or because of the sickening alternative that came to be, but because the passion and awe she can inspire with the faintest of smiles or by answering the driest of questions is unparalleled.
2. Sarah Ferguson at ABC News Australia: Hillary Clinton: How Losing to Donald Trump Changed Her.
In loss, Hillary Clinton is more candid than we are accustomed to in politicians.

That doesn't mean a wholesale acceptance of the errors she made, campaigning decisions in the swing states, or her failings as a candidate, but how many politicians at that level have written a sentence like this?

"I have come to terms with the fact that a lot of people — millions and millions of people — decided they just didn't like me. Imagine what that feels like. It hurts. And it's a hard thing to accept. But there's no getting around it," she said.
I like her. I believe I always will.

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Open Thread

Hosted by a turquoise sofa. Have a seat and chat.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker WeWantPie: "Which one of your favorite novels, movies, or TV shows would you like to be a character in (either one already present, or a new one), and, if you were, how would you be different from the other characters? Would you challenge them, support them, oppose them, or something else?"

Writes WeWantPie: "Me, as a diehard Lostie, I'd want to be an additional fuselage survivor/castaway on Lost. But I'd be a lefty-progressive 'Conservative' Jewish rabbi (quotation marks meant to emphasize the fact that Conservative Judaism is a religious denomination and does not indicate the political inclination of its congregants, who in the US tend overwhelmingly lefty-progressive). Overall, I loved the religious elements of Lost, but I thought it would have been much, much richer if there had been a Jewish element/perspective in the mix with Locke (as the non-denominational mystic) and Mr. Eko (as the penitent Catholic)."

That is a great question and a very interesting answer! My brain is seized trying to figure out if I'd rather be a character in the Star Wars universe or in Pawnee, Indiana.

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The Monday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by goldenrod.

Recommended Reading:

Natalie Degraffinried: [Content Note: Rape culture; misogynoir] I Have Been Raped by Far Nicer Men Than You

TLC: Groundbreaking Legislation to Honor Dignity of Transgender People in Prison Is Signed into Law by Governor Brown

Katie Mitchell: [CN: Racism; misogyny; appropriation; reproductive coercion] An Open Letter to the White Protester Outside the Abortion Clinic Who Told Me "Black Lives Matter"

Ryan F. Mandelbaum: Colliding Neutron Star Discovery Could Solve This Mystery About Our Expanding Universe

Marykate Jasper: Sorry, Jimmy Fallon, You Don't Get to Take It Easy on Trump Because You "Don't Really Even Care That Much About Politics"

Sameer Rao: Kumail Nanjiani Tells Racists to "Do the Research" in SNL Opener

Angry Asian Man: In Which Fred Armisen Discovers He Is Actually Korean

Monica Roberts: New Black Panther Movie Trailer

Leave your links and recommendations in comments. Self-promotion welcome and encouraged!

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What I'm Listening To



P!nk: What About Us | From Saturday Night Live, 10/14/17.

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I Write Letters

[Content Note: Rape culture.]

Dear James Corden:

I see that you are "truly sorry" for telling a bunch of Harvey Weinstein rape jokes at the amfAR Gala, and that offending people "was never [your] intention."

Oh.

As someone who was not offended but contemptuous when I read your rape jokes, I'm ostensibly one of the people to whom you're apologizing.

And I don't accept.

I don't accept because it is not a meaningful apology, but the same regurgitated insufficiency that countless comics have made before you: It wasn't your intent; you were trying to shame rapists not victims; you think sexual violence is terrible of course; you are so, so sorry if anyone was offended.

And I don't accept it because it isn't the apology I want. I neither want nor need you to apologize to me for the feelings I have about your garbage jokes. What I want is for you to apologize for coasting through life not giving a fuck about survivors of sexual violence.

I know you don't want to apologize for that, because it's much uglier than just telling a few inappropriate jokes — and probably because you don't believe it's even true.

But let me assure you that it is.

Even if you care about women you know personally who have survived sexual violence, and even if you care in some abstract way about the absolute plague of sexual harassment and assault against women, you don't care and haven't cared enough to internalize that it's fucking disgusting to make casual rape jokes about a sexual predator, no less in the middle of women coming forward — even before all his victims who want to be known have made themselves known.

And honestly, James, if we're being honest, even you have to admit that's a very, very low bar. The "don't make rape jokes" bar.

And what makes me angry that you can't even manage to pass that bar is that I don't have the luxury of not understanding that the jokes you told aren't funny. I haven't managed to slide through life not understanding that people are hurt and triggered and angered and made deeply sad (all very different things than "offended") by rape jokes.

I have a category for "rape jokes" in which this is the 95th entry. Can you imagine that, James? Can you imagine how very different our lives are that you "didn't know" how troubling your jokes would be to many survivors (and our allies), while this is the 95th time I have published an entry about how rape jokes are not merely upsetting but function to uphold the rape culture?

Can you imagine for a moment what it feels like to be a woman who has survived being sexually assaulted multiple times, including being violently raped by someone I trusted; who publicly disclosed that history only to have it horrifically used against her; who has dedicated 1/3 of her life to advocacating for the dismantling of the rape culture, at a steep personal cost; who carries with her the story of every survivor about whom she's written; who does this work, became an activist, to try to give meaning to a thing that happened to me which I cannot bear to be meaningless; who knows that my experience is hardly unique, which makes it somehow even more painful?

Can you imagine this life of mine and then have to hear men over and over tell flippant jokes and say cruel things and then apologize for offending me while simultaneously lecturing me that it wasn't their intent and assuring me they totally care that sexual violence is a serious problem?

Not serious enough that you didn't know that rape jokes are shit, though. Right?

Fuck your apology, James Corden. I don't accept it. You're not even apologizing for the right thing. If you want to give me a meaningful apology, then it needs to be this: I'm sorry I didn't know. That I never listened. That I never heard. That I traded on the luxury afforded to me by my privilege. That I never stopped to contemplate what life is like for the women about whose sexual assaults I was joking, not even as I composed jokes about them.

I am all outta fucks for anyone who remains blissfully ignorant while virtually every woman on the entire planet — and an enormous number of men and genderqueer folks — have been sexually abused.

Apologize for the absolutely breathtaking indecency of that ignorance, or just shut the fuck up.

Sincerely,
Liss

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Trump Still Failing Puerto Rico

This afternoon, Donald Trump answered some questions in the Rose Garden during an absurd press conference that Eastsidekate insightfully described thus:


The entire thing was a depressing spectacle, for all the usual reasons — and for the continuing outrage that is Trump's disposition toward the people of Puerto Rico, who continue to struggle mightily just to survive.

Puerto Rico is very tough because of the fact it's an island, but it's also tough because, as you know, it was in very poor shape before the hurricanes ever hit. Their electrical grid was destroyed before the hurricanes got there; it was in very bad shape, was not working, was in bankruptcy, owed nine billion dollars, and then, on top of that, the hurricane came.

Now, you're gonna have to build a whole new electrical plant system. We're not talking about generators. You know, we moved — Puerto Rico now has more generators, I believe, than any — anyplace in the world. There are generators all over the place. The fact is, their electrical system was in horrible shape before, and even worse shape after.

So we are working right now — as you know relief funds were just approved, or are in the process of being approved by, uh, by Congress, and that includes Texas, by the way, that includes Florida, and it also includes Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, et. cetera.

But, but — it was in really bad shape before. We have done — I will say this: We have done, we have done — [reporter asks something inaudible] Well, we've delivered tremendous amounts of water. Then what you have to do is you have to have distribution of the water, but by the people on the island.

So we have massive amounts of water; we have massive amounts of food. But they have to distribute the food — and they have to do this — they have to distribute the food to the people of the island.

So what we've done is, we now actually have military distributing food! Something that's really — they shouldn't have to be doing.

But if you look at the governor — who's a good man, by the way — but you look at the governor of Puerto Rico. He himself has said we've done an outstanding job, and most people have said we've done an outstanding job.

But Puerto Rico's a very tough one. [calls for next question]
That Puerto Rico's infrastructure was in desperate need of improvements before the hurricane does not mitigate the United States federal government's responsibility. To the absolute contrary, it demands even more urgent assistance.

Further, Trump continues to make it sound as though Puerto Rico was a failing hellscape before the double-barreled devastation of two back-to-back hurricanes — and while it is true that Puerto Rico needed major infrastructure upgrades, the picture Trump is drawing is wildly inaccurate.

That is not conjecture: I visited Puerto Rico earlier this year. And what I can tell you is that he is lying.

As usual.

If you can afford to donate to Puerto Rico relief efforts, and would like to, please visit Somos One Voice.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat and Matilda the Fuzzy Sealpoint Cat lying on dining room chairs, while Olivia the White Farm Cat lies on the floor below the dining room table
Break for a nap during the latest Cat Convention.

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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We Resist: Day 270

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: This Is Nazi Sh1t. And by Fannie: We Walk Together: Thoughts on the Women's Convention.

Ashley Parker and Greg Jaffe at the Washington Post: Inside the 'Adult Daycare Center': How Aides Try to Control and Coerce Trump. "Some Trump aides spend a significant part of their time devising ways to rein in and control the impetuous president, angling to avoid outbursts that might work against him, according to interviews with 18 aides, confidants and outside advisers, most of whom insisted on anonymity to speak candidly." Apart from the bullshit that is having a president who needs to be managed in this way because he's got the temperament of a dumpster fire, think of the taxpayer money being wasted paying the salaries of aides who use most of their time being handlers for a petulant tyrant.

Speaking of which: Donald Trump is blowing up the Iran deal because he is certain that Iran is not complying with its requirements, despite the fact that everyone else believes that they are. Maybe he genuinely (if unaccountably) believes that he knows something everyone else doesn't, which would be in keeping with his usual megalomania, but I suspect it's more likely the pronouncement is simply the easiest pretext to justify his decision to blow up a deal struck by President Obama. [Content Note: Video autoplays at link.] In any case, John Oliver had an excellent segment on this mess last night.

[CN: Bigotry] And as a terrible reminder of how fucked we are even if by some stroke of good fortune Trump is no longer president:


Like, it doesn't even include the name "Glenda Ritz." It does, however, include [CN: Homophobia] this horrendous passage, highlighted by Andy Towle:
"Trump thinks Pence is great," Bannon told me. But, according to a longtime associate, Trump also likes to "let Pence know who's boss." A staff member from Trump's campaign recalls him mocking Pence's religiosity. He said that, when people met with Trump after stopping by Pence's office, Trump would ask them, "Did Mike make you pray?" Two sources also recalled Trump needling Pence about his views on abortion and homosexuality. During a meeting with a legal scholar, Trump belittled Pence's determination to overturn Roe v. Wade. The legal scholar had said that, if the Supreme Court did so, many states would likely legalize abortion on their own. "You see?" Trump asked Pence. "You've wasted all this time and energy on it, and it's not going to end abortion anyway." When the conversation turned to gay rights, Trump motioned toward Pence and joked, "Don't ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!"
If that's even a figure of speech at all, it's just barely one. Because we are being governed by truly awful human beings.

On that note! Tarini Parti and Alexis Levinson at BuzzFeed: No One Knows What Steve Bannon's "War" Will Actually Look Like. "As the GOP appears to be on the verge of another civil war and reports of Bannon's 2018 plans dominate headlines, the big question Republicans are still trying to figure out is: Beyond a photo op, what does Bannon's support actually mean for Grimm and several other candidates he is backing? Asked that question directly, a close Bannon ally responded: 'It's actually still TBD.'" Sure. But we have a pretty good idea of what it will look like, given the Breitbart politics and funding from conservative extremists like the Mercers. And we're already getting a gander at the familiar strategies he is likely to employ, cough.

* * *

A bunch of concerning foreign policy stuff today, starting with North Korea:


[CN: Video may autoplay at link] And in Austria. Angela Dewan, Atika Shubert, Nadine Schmidt, and Laura Goehler at CNN report: "Sebastian Kurz, a 31-year-old conservative, is set to become the next chancellor of Austria and Europe's youngest leader, though he will likely need to form a coalition to rule, early results from Sunday's election show. The People's Party (OVP), which Kurz has led since May, is widely expected to form an alliance with the Freedom Party (FPO), putting the far right in an Austrian governing coalition for the first time in more than 10 years."

[CN: Terrorism; injury and death] And in Somalia. Jason Burke at the Guardian reports:
The death toll in the bombing that hit the centre of Mogadishu on Saturday continues to rise, with more than 300 people now believed to have been killed and hundreds more seriously injured.

The scale of the loss makes the attack, which involved a truck packed with several hundred kilograms of military-grade and homemade explosives, one of the most lethal terrorist acts anywhere in the world for many years.

On Monday morning, Somalia's information minister announced that 276 people had died in the attack with at least 300 people injured. Within hours, however, Abdikadir Abdirahman, the director of Amin ambulances, said his service had confirmed that 300 people died in the blast.

"The death toll will still be higher because some people are still missing," Abdirahman told Reuters.

More victims continue to be dug from the rubble spread over an area hundreds of metres wide in the centre of the city.

Rescue workers said a definitive death toll may never be established because the intense heat generated by the blast meant the remains of many people would not be found.

...The bomb, which is thought to have targeted Somalia's foreign ministry, was concealed in a truck and exploded near a hotel, demolishing the building and several others.

Sources close to the Somali government said the truck had been stopped at a checkpoint and was about to be searched when the driver suddenly accelerated. It crashed through a barrier, then exploded. This ignited a fuel tanker parked nearby, creating a massive fireball.

Witnesses described bewildered families wandering among the rubble and wrecked vehicles, looking for missing relatives. Bodies were carried from the scene on makeshift stretchers made of blankets, as people tried to dig through the debris with their hands.

"There's nothing I can say. We have lost everything," said Zainab Sharif, a mother of four who lost her husband in the attack. She sat outside a hospital where he was pronounced dead after doctors tried for hours to save him from an arterial injury.

Muna Haj, 36, said: "Today, I lost my son who was dear to me. The oppressors have taken his life away from him. I hate them. May Allah give patience to all families who lost their loved ones in that tragic blast."
Absolutely heartbreaking. I take up space in solidarity with the people of Mogadishu, who have my grief, my anger, my condolences, and my support.

And a major story out of Iraq, which is getting shockingly little attention in the U.S. press:


I highly recommend both stories linked in those tweets to understand what's going on, and continues to unfold, as civilians have begun to flee Kirkuk. Fucking hell.

And finally, in Ireland, care of climate change: "Three people have been killed as tropical storm Ophelia batters Ireland with winds of more than 100mph. ...At least 360,000 electricity customers are without power amid scores of reports of fallen trees and power lines. The network operator warned that the majority of those already affected would be without power tonight and 5% to 10% could be without electricity for up to 10 days. Northern Ireland was also affected, with 18,000 customers suffering a loss of power, including the Stormont parliament. The force of Ophelia was such that it blew roofs of buildings in Cork. Douglas Community school saw the roof of its gym ripped off and the roof of Cork City football club’s stadium collapsed. A gust of 118mph was recorded off the coast of Ireland. ...Parts of the UK were covered by an eerie red/orange sky. Experts said the hue was caused by Hurricane Ophelia dragging in tropical air and dust from the Sahara."

It's incredibly important to bear in mind that extreme weather events are also political events — because they are intensified by climate change, about which governments make political decisions that can accelerate or decelerate its effects.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

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We Walk Together: Thoughts on the Women's Convention

The week after the Women's March in January 2017, I wrote that participating in what was the largest protest in US history gave me my first small glimmer of hope since the 2016 election.

Despite our differences, I believe more than ever that it's vitally important for the left, by which I mean both Clinton and Sanders progressives, to unite against the Republican Administration.

1) On "Relitigating the Primaries"

Many commentators, with a weary exasperation, have begun framing all disagreements on the left as a relitigation of the 2016 primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. I question that framing. Many of the conflicts that were prominent during the primary are longstanding disagreements that the left has been litigating for decades.

Even going back to just the 1960s, those on the left were debating pragmatism vs. idealism and critiquing misogyny, racism, and homophobia within leftist political movements. In the 1980s, radical feminist Andrea Dworkin argued that misogyny and rape culture on the left helps push women into rightwing movements. (She's right). Black feminists, such as bell hooks, have critiqued the marginalization of non-white feminist voices. (Also right). Trans feminists, like Julia Serano, have critiqued trans-exclusionary radical feminism. (Also right). Just within my political blogging lifetime, I have been in conflict with some of the cis white gay men in the LGBT rights movement who center, and direct the bulk of community resources towards, the concerns most affecting them.

The introduction of a Democratic Primary between a pragmatic progressive white woman and an idealist progressive white man was bound to both reignite these conflicts and bring them to a wider audience.

I don't claim to be unbiased, but I try to always be fair-minded. I am a progressive feminist who supported Hillary Clinton in both the primary and general elections. From this perspective, I believe Bernie Sanders ran a campaign which, at best, allowed cultural misogyny to do a lot of heavy lifting against Hillary Clinton (and her supporters) and that falsely presented the resolution of economic inequality as a means of universal liberation. Since the election, at a most dangerous moment for marginalized populations, Sanders has also at times gaslit us about the very existence of bigotry in the United States.

These conflicts are also not new, on the left.

And, as a matter of conflict resolution, conflicts aren't usually resolved by demanding that people stop talking about them. Telling people who have been wronged, even if you don't think they actually have been, to get over something doesn't make them get over it. It makes them feel gaslit, silenced, and erased. Oftentimes, the people being scolded to shut up are people who are already marginalized in some way. Going forward, telling people who bring up legitimate concerns that they need to "stop re-litigating the primary" needs to stop.

2) On Misogyny

That brings me to misogyny.

I woke up on November 9, 2016, fearing that the electoral college win of Donald Trump was the beginning of the end of women's rights in the US. I hoped then, and still hope, that that is not the case. But that was my fear, nonetheless.

The reasons we marched in January 2017 were varied, but given the role that misogyny played in the 2016 election and that an admitted sexual predator won the electoral vote, many of us marched quite specifically to offer a massive show of resistance to both misogyny and rape culture. Remember: many people wore the pink "pussy" hats* in direct response to the released Access Hollywood tape in which Donald Trump admitted to grabbing women's genitals without their consent. (*And yes, "not all pussies are pink, and not all women have pussies").

If we marched only for the reasons of opposing misogyny and rape culture, those would have been reasons enough for the largest protest in US history. But, many of us also marched in support of the admirably-progressive Women's March platform.

You might also remember that a song went viral during this march. The title of this song was "Quiet," the lyrics of which were an attempt to shed light on many women's feelings about how they don't have a voice that is heard or respected in the current political climate.


Flash forward to September 2017. Hillary Clinton has written a book about the 2016 election. Despite the fact that many people, especially women, want to hear what she has to say, as evidenced by the fact that it's a best-seller, commentators and pundits across the political spectrum have found various ways of telling her to shut up and go away.

Now, it's October 2017.  Harvey Weinstein has been revealed as a serial sexual predator, something which was apparently an "open secret" for decades in Hollywood. As Melissa McEwan, who has written extensively about rape culture for more than a decade, noted:
"The reason [Weinstein's predation] was allowed to go on for so long is because powerful men retaining their power is more important than women's safety or peace or self-worth or very lives, and it's unfathomably easy to protect those men because the purveyors of the rape culture have cultivated and nurture an impenetrable culture of disbelief, used to silence and discredit and revictimize survivors."
Also, October 2017: political commentators across the political spectrum are finding various ways of trying to hold Hillary Clinton responsible for the horrendous actions of a man.

For those following the "wins" for rape culture, the recurring theme here is the silencing of women and holding women responsible for men's garbage behavior. So, in addition to the daily atrocities of the Republican Administration, 2017 has shaped up to be a real dose of diarrhea sauce on a shit sandwich.

3) On the Women's Convention and Bernie Sanders

For months, I have been following, mostly via Twitter, the announcements made about the upcoming Women's Convention in Detroit 2017. It sounded like something I would be interested in, given how meaningful the Women's March was to me. I also recently read Marjorie Spruill's Divided We Stand, about the (politically-divided) National Women's Conference in 1977, and knew that this conference could be historic.

Yet, because panel and speaker details only came out very recently and because of pre-existing financial, work, and caregiving obligations, I doubted I'd be able to attend. I nonetheless looked forward to hearing reports about it.

Last week, like many, I was disappointed to see the Women's March tweet an embedded USA Today article that announced Bernie Sanders as the deliverer of "an opening-night speech" for the conference:


To me, this tweet and the embedded article suggested a sort of center-stage role for Bernie.

Women absolutely need male allies. But, given the full context of Bernie, Hillary, the 2016 election, the predator in the Oval Office, and the political climate in which women are silenced daily for speaking political and personal truths, this stung. It would have stung if any man had been put in this role, but Bernie ("would have won") Sanders in particular was salt in the wound. Also, for the record, I think Hillary Clinton would have been a divisive choice for this particular event, given the ongoing divide between Sanders and Clinton progressives. Having one without the other, even if both were invited, lent the appearance of taking sides in the divide.

Thus, a Twitter backlash began.

As Clinton progressives expressed disappointment and outrage, some prominent people on the Bernie left began tweeting about how "stupid" the outrage was. Jane O'Meara Sanders suggested we were being reverse sexist against Bernie. Another said those complaining were "neoliberal feminists." Bernie himself, who accepted the invite, has been completely silent.

A few hours after the Bernie announcement, someone tweeting on behalf of the Women's March offered a subsequent tweet linking to a full listing of the speakers (the vast majority of which are women), but that seemed to make things worse. The optics were that, for awhile, the Twitter feed was showing a stand-alone, center-stage-like announcement expressing excitement for Bernie Sanders and then a subsequent tweet bundling all the women together, unnamed, into one tweet, as if to say: Bernie, and as an afterthought, a bunch of women!

The feed then later included a retweet by one of the organizers, Tamika Mallory, stating that Maxine Waters was actually the "headliner" and claimed that this had been announced "weeks ago," although I was not able to find a previous announcement referring specifically to Waters as the "headliner." The feed then began retweeting articles and tweets supportive of the organizers' decision and dismissive of those who were upset. (Mashable: "The outrage about the Women's Convention is missing one key point.")

Watching it unfold, it felt like gaslighting. It also felt like more of the attacks that women on the Clinton left have been subjected to for the past two years: implications that we are hysterical, that we aren't true progressives, that we only care about stupid things, and that we need to shut up and let the real left — led by a white man — take over.

And also, this: I have had an ongoing, until now, unspoken fear that the Women's March organizers might be trying to channel the resurgent feminist energy from the March into support for Bernie Sanders, a man whose evidence for having engaged feminist thought is, as Aphra noted over the weekend, lacking.

Nonetheless, two days after the Sanders announcement, someone from the Women's March tweeted an apology that, in my opinion, is good.

The apology acknowledged the hurt and confusion that the announcement had caused and clarified that Bernie was not occupying a central role at the event. While I still think it would be difficult for someone of Bernie's stature, particularly as a white man, to not take up too much space at a women's event, had this statement been the initial response, I think at least some of the anger and disappointment could have been avoided.

More to the point, events that spark larger conversations about the divides on the left will, in our current political environment, happen very fast and on social media. Yet, we have to keep these conversations on the left going, as difficult as it sometimes is. And, as I wrote in January 2017:
"I am grateful to the women who organized the March on Washington, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour. I acknowledge their work even as I disagree with the decision to not list Hillary Clinton's name as one of women who has inspired the March, even as the website used Clinton's "Women's Rights Are Human Rights" quote without attribution."
My point here is not that we quietly endure or overlook attacks, harassment, or rape threats from those on the left (or anywhere else). I freely block or mute people on Twitter who I see engaging unconstructively or abusing others. I want to be clear about that.

But, we on the left sometimes have a tendency to portray people as "ruined forever" for making human mistakes or sometimes showing (what we believe to be) bad judgment. Meanwhile, flawed men are granted chance after chance after chance in the public sphere, thus retaining their power.

We have a lot of work ahead of us, both within the left and looking outward at resisting the Republican Administration. We walk together, Clinton and Sanders progressives, but there are no guarantees the path will always be an easy one.

[Update: The mainstream media feeds into the divide, as they have today, tweeting text that erroneously states that Bernie is headlining the Convention:


The article itself is a good illustration of a longstanding divide on the left, about the extent to which marginalized populations should talk about their marginalization in favor of talking about purportedly more universal issues, like class. I think y'all know where I stand on that.]

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Today in Rape Culture: This Isn't Helping

[Content Note: Rape culture; rape apologia; rape jokes.]

Mayim Bialik, star of the '80s sitcom Blossom and one of the leads in the current sitcom The Big Bang Theory, authored a spectacularly unhelpful op-ed for the New York Times on being a feminist who doesn't fit the kyriarchetypical beauty standards favored by the entertainment industry, suggesting it has protected her from sexual assault.

And while defenders of this piece have argued that Bialik is speaking only for herself, that is patently not the case:

I still make choices every day as a 41-year-old actress that I think of as self-protecting and wise. I have decided that my sexual self is best reserved for private situations with those I am most intimate with. I dress modestly. I don't act flirtatiously with men as a policy.

I am entirely aware that these types of choices might feel oppressive to many young feminists. Women should be able to wear whatever they want. They should be able to flirt however they want with whomever they want. Why are we the ones who have to police our behavior?

In a perfect world, women should be free to act however they want. But our world isn't perfect. Nothing — absolutely nothing — excuses men for assaulting or abusing women. But we can't be naïve about the culture we live in.
That is some victim-blaming horseshit, engaging multiple harmful tropes that uphold the rape culture.

1. That sexual assault is a compliment. It is not:
Fetishizing rape, regarding it as primarily about sexual attraction, recasts rapists as sexually frustrated men, or oversexed men, or men who simply can't control themselves when they see an attractive woman. Rapists are not merely men with heightened libidos...

And so there are men who believe that sexual aggression is always flattering, which creates in many of them a weird sort of dichotomy of coexisting notions—that rape is immoral, but aggressive sexuality is flattering, so rape must be, too—and what results from it are men who don't themselves rape, but tend to regard men who do as little more than overly aggressive lotharios. (Sex as the ends, not the means.) And thusly, rape becomes something that only happens to "pretty girls," whose suffering ought to be mitigated by the knowledge that the crime was really a compliment.
2. That what one wears can function as rape prevention. It cannot:
Left to my own devices, I never would have been raped. The rapist was really the key component to the whole thing. I was sober; hardly scantily clad (another phrase appearing once in the article), I was wearing sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt; I was at home; my sexual history was, literally, nonexistent—I was a virgin; I struggled; I said no. There have been times since when I have been walking home, alone, after a few drinks, wearing something that might have shown a bit of leg or cleavage, and I wasn't raped. The difference was not in what I was doing. The difference was the presence of a rapist.

Enough blaming the victim. Enough.
3. That avoiding rape is just about making good choices. It is not:
That's the thing about rapists, you see. They rape people. They rape people who are strong and people who are weak, people who are smart and people who are dumb, people who fight back and people who submit just to get it over with, people who are sluts and people who are prudes, people who rich and people who are poor, people who are tall and people who are short, people who are fat and people who are thin, people who are blind and people who are sighted, people who are deaf and people who can hear, people of every race and shape and size and ability and circumstance. The only thing that the victim of every rapist shares in common is bad fucking luck.

Quite literally, the only thing a person can do to avoid being raped is never be in the same room as a rapist. Since they don't announce themselves or wear signs or glow purple, that's not a very reasonable expectation, is it?
I understand, really I do, the impulse to suggest that women can control whether they are raped by adjusting their wardrobes and behaviors. But let me borrow Bialik's own words: We can't be naïve about the culture we live in. Women who never flirted with men or wore revealing clothing are raped every fucking day. And that includes "ugly" women, who are raped by men with access to "beautiful" women.

I will note here that none of us, including Bialik, except Harvey Weinstein know his every victim. The women who have come forward have some measure of safety by virtue of their notoriety. I don't believe it's reasonable to assume such a prolific predator only assaulted beautiful actors; I do believe it's reasonable to consider that he also assaulted women outside the industry who had the misfortune of coming into his orbit, e.g. service workers, particularly given that his preferred lair of choice was hotels.

The very premise that Weinstein only assaulted certain women because of the way they look elides the possibility that he has other victims, with less influence. And that is a very dangerous and despicable game to be playing, in order to crow about one's own moral virtue and implicitly shame women who don't share those values.

If Bialik is genuinely concerned about the rape culture in the entertainment industry, there are countless ways in which she could have better directed that instinct. Which is only part of the reason that I suspect she's not. There's also the fact that the sitcom for which she's making around half a million dollars per episode has routinely used hostility to consent as a defining feature of its male characters.

Jonathan McIntosh recently published a video (with transcript at link) in which he desconstructs the "adorkable misogyny" of The Big Bang Theory, in which he notes: "Adorkable misogyny is presented as just another socially awkward personality quirk. As something that's perhaps deserving of an eye-roll, or an exasperated look or maybe some lighthearted chiding but never something to be taken seriously or seriously challenged. At its core, the Adorkable Misogynist is built around the old axiom that 'boys will be boys.' And what that phrase really means is, 'boys will be sexist' or 'boys will be creepy stalkers who sexually harass women,' as the case may be."

Or assault them: For example, in Season 9, their friend and perennial sad-sack Stewart confessed, to audience laughter, to installing a camera in his comic book store to spy on breastfeeding customers. To state the obvious, how those fictitious women dressed or interacted with Stewart wouldn't have protected them against his predation.

Bialik is making huge sums of money starring in a sitcom that upholds the rape culture. In fact, in Season 11, she was paid to deliver a laugh-line that is essentially the very argument she makes in her piece: "I passed out at a frat party and woke up with more clothes on."

She claims her words were taken out of context, but, the truth is, the closer the context gets scrutinized, the worse her words actually look. Positioning oneself as an anti-rape advocate while raking in millions of dollars every year telling rape jokes that look exactly like the victim-blaming shit you write for the Times is not "feminism." It's being part of the problem.

[Related Reading: On Harassment and the Marking of Visible Womanhood.]

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This Is Nazi Sh1t

I don't know what purpose it would serve not to be as blunt about this stuff as possible, so let's be frank: This clip of former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka at the Values Voter Summit is straight-up Nazi shit:

The Left has no idea how much more damage we can do to them as private citizens, as people unfettered by being part of the U.S. government. And as you can see, from the campaigning I did for Judge Moore, and Steve [Bannon] as well, we have begun! [applause]
So, as you may recall, when Steve Bannon was "fired," and lots of folks were cheering about getting the Nazis out of the White House, I noted like the killjoy I am that it wasn't a firing, but a freeing — as Bannon would be able to be a much more effective propagandist outside the White House. I also said Gorka would be next, for the same reason, and so he was.

Now here we are. And Gorka is explicitly confirming that they are using their visibility and the influence with which they were empowered by being elevated in Donald Trump's White House to do even more "damage" to progressives and our values than they could have done if they'd remained employed by the federal government.

Yet doing every bit of it on behalf of the president.

Chilling.

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Open Thread

image of a purple sofa

Hosted by a purple sofa. Have a seat and chat.

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The Virtual Pub Is Open

image of a pub Photoshopped to be named 'The Beloved Community Pub'
[Explanations: lol your fat. pathetic anger bread. hey your gay.]

Belly up to the bar,
and be in this space together.

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The Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by pillows.

Recommended Reading:

Your Fat Friend: [Content Note: Fat hatred; abuse] A Letter from the Fat Person on Your Flight

Katherine Cross: [CN: White supremacy; misogyny; trans hatred; abuse] We Warned You About Milo and You're Still Not Listening

Imani Jackson: [CN: Appropriation; transmisogynoir] Netflix's Marsha P. Johnson Film Rocked by Allegations of Uncredited Use of Black Trans Woman's Work

Kenrya Rankin: [CN: Slavery; racism; disablism; exploitation] White Man Indicted for Enslaving Black Man with Cognitive Deficits

Charline Jao: [CN: Rape culture] James Van Der Beek Opens Up About Experiencing Sexual Harassment from "Older, Powerful Men"

Addy Baird: This Is the Pro-Trump Propaganda Being Quietly Broadcast on Local Stations Across the Country

Dellisen Larsson: My Friend's Dog's Way of Communicating Is Making Me Laugh

Leave your links and recommendations in comments. Self-promotion welcome and encouraged!

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What I'm Listening To



a-ha: Take on Me | Acoustic. Live From MTV Unplugged. Giske / 2017

Goddamn, that is heartbreakingly lovely. And Morten Harket can still hit all the high notes. Wow. Wow.

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Quote of the Day

"I think we're in the best place we've ever been as a party."—Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel. (In case you're wondering if there's any relation, yes, she's Mitt Romney's niece.)

Now, obviously, this cheerful bullshit is what party chairs are paid to slop out for the press' consumption on the regular. So, on the one hand, it's entirely expected and not especially notable that Romney McDaniel would say this.

On the other hand, Donald Trump is destroying the country and imperiling the entire planet. When you read leaks and hear murmurs about how gosh darn tootin' angry the Republican Party is at their loathed president, remember that they aren't doing anything about it, and that the chair of the RNC says her party is "in the best place we've ever been."

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Matilda the Fuzzy Sealpoint Cat and Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt lying at the top of the stairs
Chilling.

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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We Resist: Day 267

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: Trump Axes Crucial Healthcare Subsidies and Northern California Wildfires Thread.

[Content Note: Bigotry; Christian supremacy; authoritarianism] Today, Donald Trump was the first ever sitting president to speak at the Values Voter Summit, sponsored by the Family Research Council, which is designated by the SPLC as a hate group. During his address, he said, "The times are changing back again," and ominously promised, "We are stopping, cold, the attacks on Judeo-Christian values." To an extended ovation, he declared: "It's families and the church, not the government, who know how to create loving communities. We don't worship government; we worship god."

Utterly chilling. He might as well have just come out and literally said: "The time to crush marginalized people with impunity has arrived."

* * *

Craig Timberg and Elizabeth Dwoskin at the Washington Post: Facebook Takes Down Data and Thousands of Posts, Obscuring Reach of Russian Disinformation.
Social media analyst Jonathan Albright got a call from Facebook the day after he published research last week showing that the reach of the Russian disinformation campaign was almost certainly larger than the company had disclosed. While the company had said 10 million people read Russian-bought ads, Albright had data suggesting that the audience was at least double that — and maybe much more — if ordinary free Facebook posts were measured as well.

Albright welcomed the chat with three company officials. But he was not pleased to discover that they had done more than talk about their concerns regarding his research. They also had scrubbed from the Internet nearly everything — thousands of Facebook posts and the related data — that had made the work possible.

Never again would he or any other researcher be able to run the kind of analysis he had done just days earlier.
Josh Meyer at Politico: Twitter Deleted Data Potentially Crucial to Russia Probes.
Twitter has deleted tweets and other user data of potentially irreplaceable value to investigators probing Russia's suspected manipulation of the social media platform during the 2016 election, according to current and former government cybersecurity officials.

Federal investigators now believe Twitter was one of Russia's most potent weapons in its efforts to promote Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, the officials say, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

...Many U.S. investigators believe that their best hope for identifying who was behind these operations, how they collaborated with each other and their suspected links to the Kremlin lies buried within the mountains of data accumulated in recent years by Twitter.

By analyzing Twitter data over time, investigators could establish what one U.S. government cybersecurity consultant described as "pattern of life behavior," determining when Russian influence operations began, and how they "were trying to nudge the narrative in a certain direction."

"So if you have access to all this, you can basically see when botnets appeared and disappeared, and how they shaped narrative around certain events," said the analyst, who could not speak for attribution given company policy.

But a substantial amount of valuable information held by Twitter is lost for good, according to the cybersecurity analysts and other current and former U.S. officials.
Welp. That's quite a coincidence.

In case I'm not laying the sarcasm on thick enough, I don't believe that's a coincidence.

What I believe is what I've been saying ever since all of this shit began trickling out 18 months ago: This is the end of a coup that's been in the works for a very long time. None of this is a coincidence. It's not as straightforward as "Russia just figured out how to exploit this shit." I'm afraid it's much more sinister than that.

If we had a functional government, I'd suggest they look into Facebook's and Twitter's investors. But we don't.

Which, you know, was the whole point.

Oh well. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

* * *

Stephanie Kirchgaessner at the Guardian: Flynn Ally Sought Help from 'Dark Web' in Covert Clinton Email Investigation.
A close associate of Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn arranged a covert investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server when she was secretary of state, and through intermediaries turned to a person with knowledge of the "dark web" for help.

...Flynn is personally and ideologically linked to Barbara Ledeen, a longtime conservative activist who works for the Republican senator Chuck Grassley on the Senate judiciary committee – which is now investigating alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Ledeen's husband, Michael Ledeen, is also a confidant of Flynn, and co-authored a book with him last year.

...According to interview notes released by the FBI last year, Ledeen decided in 2015 to launch her own investigation into Clinton's use of the server. At the time, she was a staffer on the Senate judiciary committee.

...She sought out the help of an unnamed defense contractor and also turned to Newt Gingrich, the former Republican speaker of the House, for help. According to the FBI notes, Gingrich "wanted to speak to others about the project" and asked Judicial Watch, the conservative activist group, for financial assistance.

Judicial Watch allegedly turned to another, unnamed, contractor who was familiar with the "deep web and dark web," according to the FBI files. The parties were concerned about what they would do if they came across any emails that contained classified information. According to the FBI investigation, the project was later halted.

The incident and web of relationships is important for two reasons.

First, because Ledeen is the second person with ties to Flynn who allegedly sought to investigate Clinton's use of a private server in an unofficial capacity.

...Ledeen's involvement is also important because she works on the Senate judiciary committee, which is conducting an investigation into the Trump campaign. Her family's relationship with Flynn raises questions about whether Ledeen could be wielding influence over the investigation.
I don't even have fucking words. Besides these: Bob Mueller had better be drawing up subpoenas for Newt Gingrich right fucking now, if he hasn't already.

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Kara Scannell at CNN: Background Check Chief Has 'Never Seen' Mistakes and Omissions at Level of Jared Kushner Forms. "Charles Phalen, the director of the National Background Investigations Bureau, a newly created division within the Office of Personnel Management, made the comment in response to a question during a House subcommittee oversight hearing. ...Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois asked Phalen, 'can you recall if there has ever been an applicant having to submit four addenda detailing over 100 errors and omissions being able to maintain their security clearance once those errors and omission have been identified?' Phalen said he has not seen 'the breadth' of all applications 'but I have never seen that level of mistakes.'" Revoke their security clearances now, for crying out loud.

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Tony Cook at the IndyStar: As Trump Slams Media, an Indiana Lawmaker Has Drafted a Bill to License Journalists. "An Indiana lawmaker has drafted a bill that would require professional journalists to be licensed by state police. [Rep. Jim Lucas'] proposal would require professional journalists to submit an application to the Indiana State Police. Journalists would be fingerprinted as part of the process and would have to pay a $75 fee for a lifetime license. Those with felony or domestic battery convictions would be prohibited from getting a license. The proposal is almost an exact copy of Indiana's law requiring a license to carry a handgun, which Lucas has tried to repeal unsuccessfully for several years." This fucking guy.

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Cristina Marcos at the Hill: 69 Republicans Vote Against Aid for Puerto Rico, Other Disaster Sites. "Legislation to provide $36.5 billion in aid for communities affected by recent wildfires and hurricanes, including Puerto Rico, secured widespread support in the House on Thursday save for 69 Republicans. The votes in opposition included many members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, who believe government spending should not add to the deficit." Fuck each and every one of them.

[CN: Trans hatred] Christine Grimaldi at Rewire: Democrats Call Trump's Bluff on Transgender Military Ban.
Congressional Democrats are pressuring U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis to admit what, if anything, he knew about [Donald] Trump's transgender military ban prior to the commander-in-chief's bombshell announcements via Twitter.

Trump claimed he consulted with his "Generals and military experts" before his July 26 Twitter proclamation. But military officials contradicted Trump, saying that the move came as a surprise to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and to Mattis, who was on vacation and reportedly given just a day's notice. Now, 115 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are calling Trump's bluff, requesting "access to any letters, emails, telephone transcripts, meeting logs and minutes, or other materials that document such requests."

"We seek information to discover the proof of where and when the Pentagon advised the President that this was the best idea for our country," Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), the leader of the effort, said in a statement accompanying the group's letter to Mattis. "If there is proof then we can evaluate that, if there is no proof then the President lied to the American people once again."
A+ idea. Not that it will matter, because Trump is a nightmare monster overseeing an administration of sociopaths. But it's good to know the Democrats are still making an effort to do the right thing, anyway. To give them fuel for their continued resistance, it might be nice to contact Rep. McEachin and say thank you for continuing to spend time being creative and clever and passionate on behalf of the people who elected them.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

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