Open Thread

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Blog Note

I'm aware of the image issue. It's a problem on Photobucket's end, as I already pay for their most robust plan, and I have contacted them regarding the fuck-up, but they have yet to respond. My apologies for the inconvenience.

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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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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Cynthia Fee: "Theme from The Golden Girls"

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Daily Dose of Cute

Video Description: Zelly the Black and Tan Mutt stands in the garden, looking around for flies to chase. Dudley the Greyhound comes trotting down the garden path, then looks around with silly ears, then yawn dramatically. He spies a flying bug of some sort, and goes after it. It disappears into the greenery, so he runs down the path, Zelda in tow, to wait on the other side of the garden for it to come out. Because dogs don't understand how bugs work.

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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Quote of the Day

[CN: extreme hostility to autonomy, violence]

Rep. Lynn Watchmann (R-Eprehensible), author of HB 125, Ohio's "Heartbeat Bill":

“I would remind you the real war on women are the abortionists, the slayers of those young babies, the young girls in the mother’s womb who take their lives. That is the real war on women.” , in response to the idea that the bill is part of a war on women.

You see, in 2011 Ohio Watchmann attempted to pass the now infamous "Heartbeat Bill". Back then the GOP even scheduled two embyro "witnesses" to "testify" for the bill (it didn't quite work as planned). Eventually the legislation stalled in the Ohio Senate after passing the House. Last November, Senate President Tom Niehaus said the bill may get "another look" and that "a substitute bill is being prepared".

That substitute bill is now being reintroduced.

In addition to the fetal heartbeat test, State Rep. Christina Hagan said the new bill mandates inspections of abortion clinics.

“We will now have inspectors in our abortion clinics to ensure that the regulations we’re putting in place, as far as fetal heartbeat detection goes, are being held up,” Hagan said.

This time around, Hagan said the bill also includes a commission to study ways to improve adoption in Ohio.
As with before, Ohio Right to Life does not support this legislation.


Hey Watchmann:

Detecting cardiac activity does not a viable pregnancy make. For one. Your asinine legislation is unconstitutional. Shut up.

Also? Effectively banning--because that's what this would do--a legal, necessary medical procedure because you don't like it is, in fact, a hostile act of aggression against the autonomy and agency of anyone who wants and needs to access it. You spouting off that it isn't is such disingenuous bullshit that I'm almost surprised you weren't struck by lightening on the spot by the universe-at-large for sheer offensive lying asshattery.

And you want to talk "abortionists" and war, you willfully ignorant fuck? Ok, let's do that.

Just yesterday a federal judge ruled that threatening people who provide health care via doing abortion procedures is, in fact, just fine.

From 1977 to 2011, there have been:

218 arsons and bombings
99 attempted arson or bombing
656 bomb threats
191 incidents of assault and battery
420 death threats
4 kidnappings
15,062 incidents of hate mail or hate phone calls

Last year in 2012: a Pensacola, FL, clinic was burned down, a Wisconsin clinic was attacked with homemade bomb, two clinics in Georgia were set on fire, a clinic in Louisiana was set ablaze. Those are "just" the fires.

Dr. David Gunn was murdered in 1993.
In 1993, Dr. Tiller was shot but not killed.
In 1994, Dr. John Bayard Britton and his escort, James H. Barrett, were assassinated.
In 1994, Dr. Garson Romalis was shot but not killed.
In 1995, Dr. Hugh Short was shot and killed.
In 1997, Dr. Jack Fainman was shot but not killed, the shooter was a suspect in an unnamed NY physician's murder
In 1998, Dr. Barnett Slepian is shot and killed. His murderer, James Koop, was the suspect in 1997's shooting of Dr. Fainman and the other unnamed doctor.
In 2009, Dr. Tiller was shot, again, and killed.

In 1994, Shannon Lowney and Leanne Nichols were shot and killed at clinics in MA.
In 1998, Officer Robert Sanderson was killed during a clinic bombing and nurse Emily Lyon was severely injured.

More about the violence faced by health care providers: here and also here.

So, Lynn Watchmann, your hyperbolic jackassery is not only flat out factually wrong, it's an offensive, disgustingly dramatic and saccharine call-to-arms to anti-choicers. It's dangerous. And you know it.

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She Strongly Suspects

[CN: Harassment]

Her friend tells her that she's scared. And angry. And triggered. And paranoid. Because she is experiencing the thing that happens to women when they challenge the men who terrorize women online.

She and her friend are very much alike, in a lot of ways. But she has been challenging the men who terrorize women online for much longer, since dinosaurs still roamed the earth. She writes something to her friend.

She makes the usual caveat about everyone being different, but says she will say these things anyway because of the important ways in which they are the same. And then she tells her friend that the first couple of times, of the many times, the countless times, she has been under siege, not just in the regular every-day-is-a-battle kind of way, but in a Something Specific Is Happening and Here Comes the Onslaught way, she was as triggered and paranoid as her friend is now.

And then, she says, after a few times, she wasn't anymore.

She tells her friend that she STRONGLY SUSPECTS if her friend gets through this (and she will, because she is who she is), she will come out the other side better prepared for when it happens again, and it will, because this is the nature of being a woman who challenge the men who terrorize women online.

It will happen again. And again. And again and again.

She tells her friend that, eventually, you will be angry and scared and angry and also angry, but you won't be so triggered and won't feel so paranoid. And part of you will think, rightly, that it's suuuuuuper fucked up that you can become inured to being terrorized, and part of you will think, rightly, that it is profound evidence of your humanity, because if there is one thing that is true about humans, it is that we are adaptable, that we survive.

She says: "I bet that doesn't feel possible, or even desirable, right now, but."

She observes, frankly, that the truth is, when what happens to women who challenge the men who terrorize women online happens, what you feel doesn't affect the outcome. Whether you are scared or angry or defiant or indifferent doesn't matter.

She tells her friend that she STRONGLY SUSPECTS she will also, someday, get to a place where, unfathomably, she gives herself permission to not be triggered and it actually happens, because it's such a crucial part of your self-care.

She tells her friend that she realizes none of that matters in this moment, except perhaps the validation that her friend is not overreaction—not that her friend needs to be told for it to be true, but both of them know that validation matters, sometimes. Especially when you are a woman who challenges the men who terrorize women online.

None of it matters in this moment, she says, but she sort of wishes she'd had someone who could have drawn her a picture of a possible future where she wasn't constantly fucking terrified in a physical shaky way when she first experienced what happens to women who challenge the men who terrorize women online, because she legit expected she would get worse and worse until she shook herself into dust.

But she hasn't.

She has gotten better.

Her friend says thank you. Her friend tells her she has spent most of the day wondering if she will ever be herself again. Her friend is comforted by knowing that there's this other possible future, which she couldn't even imagine.

They agree that they will Talk About This, that they will make it an invitation to the women who are watching what happens to women who challenge the men who terrorize women online, and who are making decisions about whether they will speak, or whether they will be silent.

No one is obliged to speak. (And no one is obliged to keep speaking once they start, as if walking the fuck away is not an option. It is an option, and self-care is not defeat.) But, they think, everyone has the right to make the decision about whether to speak, or to keep speaking, knowing what might happen. Not just the things done by the men who terrorize women online. But the things that might happen inside yourself, and inside the safety of friendships with titans.

[Previously: She Was Gonna.]

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Friday Blogaround

Today's Blogaround is brought to you by one word: plastics.

Suey Park: Tim Wise, informed by Tim Wise

Jamilah King: ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’ and the History of Black Work at the White House

Sarah Yang: Paper-thin e-skin responds to touch, holds promise for sensory robotics and interactive environments

The Daily Fusion: Wireless Devices That Harvest Energy out of Thin Air Developed

David Szondy: Scientists developing Bluetooth tooth that spies on your oral habits. Twenty-four/seven monitoring of our eating and drinking habits? What could possibly go wrong?

Souri Somphanith: Crisis in the Late Bronze Age Triggered by Environmental Change

Ed Yong: When Our Microbes Chat, Dangerous Germs Are Eavesdropping

Ben Zimmer: Frances Brooke, destroyer of English (not literally)

Angry Asian Man: Stop the Deportation of Gurmukh Singh

Reminder: Ada Lovelace day is October 15 this year.

Erica B.: Review: Vogue 1305 | The 'End of Summer' White Maxi Dress!

Julia Emmanuele: The World According to Julia Child: Her 10 Best Bon Mots

Please feel free to leave your links in comments below.

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Today in Anti-Choice Terrorism

[Content Note: Terroristic threats.]

A federal judge has ruled that threatening doctors who perform abortions is free speech:

A federal judge ruled Thursday that an anti-abortion extremist's threatening letter to a Wichita, KS Doctor is protected under the First Amendment and does not constitute as "true threat."

In 2011, the Department of Justice filed a civil lawsuit against Angel Dillard for writing to Mila Means, a doctor who planned to start offering abortion services, telling her that she would have to start checking under her car every day for explosives. The Justice Department accused Dillard of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), a law protecting abortion clinics.

Although Dr. Means testified in court that she felt threated by the letter and had undertaken several security measures in response, U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten ruled that the government failed to prove that actual violence against Dr. Means was likely or imminent.

Dillard has been associated with anti-abortion groups in Kansas. In July 2009, Dillard confirmed she had corresponded with Scott Roeder, then in a Wichita jail awaiting trial for the murder of Wichita abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. Dillard told the Associated Press, "With one move, (Roeder) was accomplish what we had not been able to do...So he followed his convictions and I admire that."
Dillard's letter to Dr. Means included [ad begins playing automatically at link] the ominous warning that "thousands of people from across the nation were scrutinizing Means' background and would know 'your habits and routines'."
"They know where you shop, who your friends are, what you drive, where you live," the letter said. "You will be checking under your car every day — because maybe today is the day someone places an explosive under it."
Free speech.

I have received emails from people (not Angel Dillard) associated with the anti-choice movement with very similar language about scrutinizing my daily behavior. Occasionally accompanied by my home address or pictures of my house. This is the backdrop against which women who advocate for women do our work. And it is considered totally acceptable.

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In The News

Here is some stuff in the news today!

[Content Note: Sexual violence; hostility to agency] The National Women's Law Center has issued a report documenting "abortion restrictions that have been introduced and enacted at the state and federal levels in the first six months of 2013 and that fail to protect women [and other people with uteri] who are pregnant due to rape."

California Republican Representative Tom McClintock doesn't believe that white collar crime on Wall Street exists. "For a criminal practice there has to be a gun. It's pretty simple." Ha ha WHUT. Republicans are geniuses.

[CN: Racism; anti-immigration rhetoric] Speaking of geniuses, RNC Chair Reince Priebus says that Mitt Romney's campaign was "racist" and "horrific." Just kidding. He actually said that Republican Iowa Representative Steve King's comments on immigration were "racist" and "horrific," but they were the same things Mitt Romney said! Priebus: "Using the word 'self-deportation'—it's a horrific comment to make. I don't think it has anything to do with our party. When someone makes those comments, obviously, it's racist." Whoooooops! King, who is a garbage nightmare, also said that undocumented immigrants have "calves the size of cantaloupes" so they can haul "75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."

President Obama is putting solar panels back on the White House. Take that, Ronald Reagan!

Do you want to know where Area 51 is? Well, here's a declassified map! Now you know. Was that more or less exciting than you expected? Exactly as exciting as you expected? Tell us in comments! Or don't! Life is short. Do whatever makes you happy.

Gina Carano wants a Wonder Woman movie, and she wants it done right. Yes, ma'am!

Meet the olinguito, the first mammalian carnivore species to be newly identified in the Americas in 35 years!

Here is a story about a shar pei who adopted a kitten rescued from a parking lot. No YOU'RE crying!

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Hiring Diversity 101

by Shaker tarian, a female engineer who has worked in places that cared about diversity, and places where she was the only female engineer for miles. She cares about diversity a lot.

[Content Note: Discussion of marginalization in the workplace.]

The contents of this 101 will be entirely familiar to most of Shakesville, but if you are like me, you have probably also had one biebillion arguments that start with a clue-deprived person saying: "We don't need affirmative action anymore / I'm not *ist, I just want to hire the best applicant for the job" and so forth. In which case I thought it'd be kind of nice to stack a bunch of the counterarguments and evidence in one place for handy reference purposes.

Why Would You Care About Workplace Diversity?

It'd be nice if we could halt this right here with "Because it's the right thing thing to do" and then we could all go wander off for tea and scones, but sadly, no.

So, for people who need a more compelling reason than decency...

You want a diverse workplace because we live in a diverse society. If you're making a product, you want to have people working on the product design who accurately represent and/or advocate for the needs of the entirety of your target audience. (And spoiler alert! People from marginalized population are more inclined to be aware of and advocate for their community's needs than people not from that population!) Creative teams comprised entirely of straight white able-bodied cis men tend to overlook, for instance, the needs of people with disabilities.

In the United States, for example: 8.8% of the population identifies themselves as having vision impairment/low vision needs. If you're building a technology for a universal audience, that's 8.8% of your target audience that you are automatically writing off if you fail to make that technology accessible for people with vision impairments.

Seems pretty silly to decide arbitrarily that you just don't want almost 9% of the possible money you could be making. If you're a global company, this obviously gets a lot more critical, as there are many more communities with disparate needs. Of course, not all members of a given marginalized group will have the exact same needs, which means that you do not want to solve this problem with tokenism: "Okay, we have our POC, our Woman, and our Gay; we're all set!"

Also, if your entire board of directors and the visible face of your company is made of straight white cis men, you are telling a whole bunch of potential employees that your company isn't going to be interested in them. This diminishes the quality of the talent pool you're working from, which has a measurable impact on company performance. Cornell's Glass Ceiling Commission report is a little dated, but, if anything, the situation has become more critical—both because demographics are shifting, and also because you're increasingly unlikely to be able to assume your audience is local.

How Do You Create a Diverse Set of Employees?

This tends to be the annoying whine part of the discussion, with a whole lot of hand-wringing over "But there just aren't any good nonwhite / female / disabled applicants! Women aren't as good at math / science / engineering because BIOLOGY!" et cetera ad nausaeum. What to do?

If you have no visible marginalized people in your company, then, no, you are probably not going to have very many marginalized applicants showing up at your door, because why would I want to work somewhere that doesn't want people like me? (Which is rarely recognized as a safety issue by people who don't give a shit about diversity, but is certainly a safety assessment that marginalized people make.) Or where, even if I get in, it looks suspiciously likely that my voice isn't going to be heard? This is where you go RECRUITING. Do you actually have marginalized employees, but they're not getting promoted into visible positions? Might wanna take a look at that. Actively seek out underrepresented voices (resources like Historically Black Colleges and Universities are all over the intertubes) and then go find the people and explain why, despite the current monolith, you plan to do better and ensure they're treated fairly and their input and time has value. (Oh, yeah, and then follow through with that. If you're not planning on offering competitive salary and benefits, GIVE UP AND GO AWAY.)

Speaking of benefits! Family medical leave and parental leave have demonstrable effects on employee retention. (See for example here and here and here.) Funnily enough, this also serves as a response to the aggravating "But if I hire women they'll get pregnant and then have to take time off work or quit" argument. Why, yes, if you successfully hire women and then treat them like shit, you will have problems keeping them!

Suppose that you've managed to fix enough of the above problems that you're now sitting with a stack of resumes that includes a diverse pool of applicants. This is usually where the "I just want to hire the best man for the job" garbage shows up; I find it amusing that it's even usually phrased that way, and then five seconds of blank stare and disgusted look later, sometimes you get a conciliatory "....or woman" tacked on there.

First off, even if your human resources department is entirely made of third-generation social justice activists, unconscious bias happens. Screen the resumes, and before having them evaluated for technical content, remove obvious identifying data. (Name, gender references, addresses.) This isn't perfect, because education history often unhides ethnic background, but it's far better than nothing. Luckily, this process contains its own effectiveness check. You can review the percentage of marginalized candidates that make it to a first interview before and after implementing this change, and then if you actually live in the magic unicorn pony fairyland where *ist biases have been eliminated, you'll just see no change! Neat!

At least we're having a national conversation on racism and sexism in the workforce, even if way too much airspace gets taken up by the There Isn't Any, Neener Neener crowd. The same conversation for people with disabilities is a little thin on the ground, although some resources do exist. This should maybe get its whole own post, because I've seen this handled from Horrifically Awful to Well, You're Kind of Making an Effort to everything in between. Pretending people with disabilities don't exist seems to be a distressingly common non-answer. Some of the things I've seen done well: Making sure that your physical plant isn't itself a barrier to access, having a procedure in place for interviewing people with visual impairments (do you have screen reader software? does your hiring process normally require, say, describing a technical problem on a whiteboard? do you have an alternate if that's not going to work?), making sure that you have sign language interpreters or captioning systems available. What about people with mobility issues? Having a policy on hand for allowing people to interview and/or work from home, at least some of the time, dramatically improves the quality of life for your disabled employees, and opens up a whole other pool of potential recruits.

How Do You Keep Your Employees from Marginalized Populations? (Actually These Are Pretty Good Tips for Keeping All Your Employees)

So, you have a bright shiny newly diversified employee pool. Maintaining this happy state requires some additional work. Hopefully in the year of our lord Jesus Jones 2013, your workplace already has a strong written anti-harassment policy, with a reporting mechanism that does not require the person reporting to go to their direct supervisor and an enforcement strategy that's actually used. (*cough* Bob Filner *cough*). This should be the absolute bare minimum for basic human decency. Better: Hold regular anonymous surveys to document whether your space is as welcoming to all of your employees as it could be, or if you've got a missing stair somewhere. Keep data: Are your marginalized employees receiving raises and promotion reviews at different rates? If so, why?

What's important to your employees? (Hint: People are different, and so you actually have to ask instead of just assuming one size fits all.) Maybe someone would like more family medical leave instead of a raise. Maybe someone else really wants to get company sponsorship for something in zir community. Depending on your state of operation, not all employees are not going to be allowed to marry their partners, so not everyone will be in need of unmarried partner benefits. Oh, and naturally these things are going to change with time, so you'll want to keep asking, and listen to the answers you get.

I've been working in science and engineering for a little over two decades, and like most of us living in the good ol' boys club, I have a laundry list of Doin' It Rong examples. My first job out of grad school involved working with a whole lot of ex-Air Force Academy types. I do not think they were actively trying to make me feel unwelcome; they "just" weren't used to thinking about what their words and actions would look like to me, or to any other woman in the building. I started habitually going through grant proposals and other docs and doing a global search-and-replace for "man-hours" to "person-hours". ("Oh, we didn't mean anything by it, it's just accepted usage, why are you so hostile?" "Perhaps because your assumption that 'person' and 'man' are the same thing tells me that you do not want me working on this project?") Or giving a technical presentation at a conference and having one of the attendees ask me to go fetch coffee. Hi, the coffee pot is like RIGHT THERE. Or the classic: Presenting an idea at a meeting, where it gets ignored, until five minutes later when a white dood reiterates it, and suddenly it is the best idea evar. (I eventually caved on that one and just found a white male colleague willing to play megaphone to whom I could pass post-it notes during meetings so we could save time.)

And then there's one of my favorites, if only because I've been getting funny story mileage out of it for years and years: The facility we were in was located in an extremely warm climate, and the dress code for the engineering staff was fairly casual. During the hottest weeks of summer, "casual" tended to slowly degrade, and eventually my boss sent out a "dress code reminder" email banning open-toed shoes. So I responded to the email with a couple of pictures of my closed-toe shoe options and asked if he'd rather I wear the combat boots or the hiking boots with the sundress? So the policy got revised: apparently he was not trying to ban women's sandals, he was trying to ban "ugly men's feet."

Someone's forgotten the First Rule of Holes, and also, that's a pretty breathtaking display of forgetting that there are women in the building, and also? What was that again about feminists hating men?

There's a pretty obvious question about how, say, a POC would have fared in this particular environment, which I can't answer definitively as there weren't any. HMMMM.

Of course, even getting to the point of being alienated in an engineering workplace requires making it through the education process to get there. Which brings its own set of "challenges"; my building in grad school mysteriously lacked women's restrooms. What's that? That would be discriminatory? In their magnanimity one of the men's restrooms got relabeled "unisex". Yay? Except that it was not one of the ones with a locking door, and they left the urinals in place. AWKWARD.

Unisex restrooms are actually a good idea for being inclusive of genderqueer people, but implementing them as "here's the space for men, and here's the space for men where everybody else can come in, too," or "here's the space for men, and here's the space for not-men" is not the way to do it.

Being an inclusive environment that does not drive away members of marginalized communities starts at "don't harass people, and don't tolerate harassment you see," but there's a long distance between just not supporting active discrimination and making an environment welcoming. It starts with welcoming more people in the door, and then requires actively seeking their opinions, wants, needs, and then listening to them when they tell you. And maybe treating people like people instead of afterthoughts or window dressing. That would be good.

[Note: Please feel welcome to leave links to more pro-diversity educational materials and other resources in the comments, because the links herein are definitely not exhaustive!]

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Barton Gellman for the Washington Post: "NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, audit finds." 2,776 times, to be exact.

The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.

Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.

So much for that whole "None of the revelations show that government has actually abused these powers" thing, eh, Mr. President?

Go see Digby for more.

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Open Thread

Hosted by Conky 3000, who is ready to assist you.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker bandit_queen: "I love hearing about people's favorite books, but I never have time to read them all, so I'd love to know everyone's favorite line/passage from a book." So: What is your favorite line or passage from a book (or play, or novella, or short story, etc.)?

[Shakespeare's sister] lives in you and in me, and in many other women who are not here tonight, for they are washing up the dishes and putting the children to bed. But she lives; for great poets do not die; they are continuing presences; they need only the opportunity to walk among us in the flesh. This opportunity, as I think, is now coming within your power to give her. For my belief is that if we live another century or so—I am talking of the common life which is the real life and not of the little separate lives which we live as individuals—and have five hundred a year each of us and rooms of our own; if we have the habit of freedom and the courage to write exactly what we think; if we escape a little from the common sitting room and see human beings not always in their relation to each other but in relation to reality; and the sky, too, and the trees or whatever it may be in themselves; if we look past Milton's bogey, for no human being should shut out the view; if we face the fact, for it is a fact, that there is no arm to cling to, but that we go alone and that our relation is to the world of reality and not only to the world of men and women, then the opportunity will come and the dead poet who was Shakespeare's sister will put on the body which she has laid down. Drawing her life from the lives of the unknown who were her forerunners, as her brother did before her, she will be born. As for her coming without that preparation, without that effort on our part, without that determination that when she is born again she shall find it possible to live and write her poetry, that we cannot expect, for that would be impossible. But I maintain that she would come if we worked for her, and that so to work, even in poverty and obscurity, is worth while.

—Virginia Woolf, concluding her essay "A Room of One's Own."
That always, always, makes me cry.

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She Was Gonna

[Content Note: Harassment; violence; misogyny.]

She was gonna write this thing about how she is tired, exhausted to her very bones, to the fibers of her marrow, of men who want to hurt women. Not even the men who hurt women because of their ignorance, their privilege, their insensitivity, the luxury of not having to even identify the harm they cause. The men whose intent (that important word! the word that dictates every receipt of her emotions, and whether she is allowed to feel them!) is malicious. The men who actively desire to hurt women. To scare us. To silence us. To make us bleed.

She was gonna write it. She started to write it. And then she stopped.

She stared at the words on the screen, and she thought about how, if she wrote it, if she finished those words and published it and let minutes pass, the men whose intent is malicious would respond. In the way that they do.

She was gonna talk about them, but then she thought about how talking about them is an invocation.

So she didn't.

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Chris Christie Continues to Be Great

If I were in the business of writing news that reflexively pandered to a false objectivity and fetishized kyriarchetypical patriarchs as paragons of humanity, I would describe Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as "pugnacious," but because I am in the business of Shakesville, I describe him as "a belligerent, bloviating, aggressively unpleasant asshole."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie planted himself firmly in the Republican Party's establishment wing Thursday with a pugnacious speech calling on his party to focus on pragmatism rather than ideology and crippling internal debates.

"We are not a debating society," Christie told a lunchtime audience at the Republican National Committees summer meeting in Boston. "We are a political operation that needs to win."

..."I am in this business to win. I don't know why you are in it. I am in this to win," Christie said at the RNC luncheon.

"I think we have some folks who believe that our job is to be college professors," he said. "Now college professors are fine I guess. Being a college professor, they basically spout out ideas that nobody does anything about. For our ideas to matter we have to win. Because if we don't win, we don't govern. And if we don't govern all we do is shout to the wind. And so I am going to do anything I need to do to win."

..."We need to stop navel gazing. There's nothing wrong with our principles. We need to focus on winning again. There's too much at stake for this to be an academic exercise. We need to win and govern with authority and courage."
What a neat party full of neat people!

Once upon a time, I thought I might be a college professor someday, but then I was all, "Fuck that! NOT ENOUGH WINNING!"

(Seriously, did Chris Christie just call his party too thoughtful? Ha ha good one.)

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Julia Child: The Remix

Yesterday would have been Julia Child's 100th birthday, in honor of which PBS Digital Studios released the following "Keep On Cooking" Remix. Bon appétit!

[Video Description: Julia Child, an older white woman, is shown talking directly to the camera. "What makes a great chef?" she asks. "Well, training and technique, of course! Plus a great love of food, a generous personality, and the ability to invent hot chocolate truffles." House music kicks in with auto-tuned "lyrics" of Julia Child talking about making chocolate truffles and other delicious foods, over video clips from her old cooking show.]

(h/t AP)

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelly the Black and Tan Mutt sitting on the ottoman with her front paws crossed, looking cute
Zelly: The Zelliest of All the Bellies.

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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Dear Cardinal Dolan: I am Not Disposable

[Content note: anti-agency rhetoric, religious oppression, misogyny]

Dear Cardinal Timothy Dolan:

I see that you have been speaking to the Knights of Columbus on social justice issues. Specifically, you framed this in terms of "the tendency to 'discard' society's marginalized, including immigrants."

So why did you discard me?

In case you don't recall doing this, let me refresh your memory:

During the Knights' 131st convention in San Antonio, Texas, Cardinal Dolan referred to Pope Francis' notion of the “globalization of indifference,” saying this can be seen in how modern society has become a “culture of throwing away.”

“We discard things, from the baby in the womb to our elders, to the immigrant, to the refugee, to the sick, to the poor, to the unemployed,” he told CNA on Aug. 6.

See that? By rendering pregnant people completely invisible in your list, in favor of the "baby in the womb," you do the very damn thing you decry.

You discarded me, and every other uterus-having person on earth.

Cardinal Dolan, I am not a womb. And I am not yours to dispose.

I am a collection of many parts, your Grace. I have hands for holding, arms to embrace with, feet to stand on, legs for running. With my ears I hear, with my tongue I taste, with my eyes I see, and with my brain I think. With all my body, I do many different things. I am all of its parts, and all of its parts are mine.

If I become pregnant, it is my body--not yours--which bears the risks of that pregnancy. It is me--not you--who must weigh the physical concerns, the mental toll, the healthcare costs, and all the short- and long-term effects of that entire process. It is me -- not you--who decides if I will attempt to have a child, or whether I will not. And it is me who must continually evaluate and re-evaluate those choices again and again throughout the entire pregnancy, as my body and my conditions are changing. It is me. Me. Not you.

And I (just like every other uterus-bearing person you presume to own) am not disposable.

So perhaps before you start spreading the commendable message of protecting marginalized people from being "discarded," you might take a look in your own trash bin. It's getting pretty crowded in here.

Not yours,


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When Social Media CEOs Abet Stalking

[Content Note: Stalking]

Warning! A serious, and not remotely joking note upfront: If you reply to this story, either in the comments here or on Twitter, you may be stalked by a known stalker. Please consider your self-care first and foremost. 

I am a survivor of online stalking.

I don't talk about that much online because when online stalking is one of your triggers, talking about it online feels like hanging out a sign inviting people to hurt you. It'd be like posting a link to my email address, another link to icanhascheezburger, and mentioning off-handedly that I'm triggered by pictures of cats. I wouldn't deserve what happened next, but that doesn't make the fallout any less predictable. I know that simply existing on the internet as a woman means some people will try to cause me harm, so I try to navigate online spaces in ways which don't divulge certain triggers.

Online stalking is serious. It ruins lives. It ends lives. People die from online stalking. It's not a joke or silly or funny or harmless.

An anonymous account on the internet, a person who goes by the name of "ElevatorGate" -- which is in itself a reference to an incident where a prominent female atheist was propositioned in an elevator in a way which made her feel uncomfortable and possibly even unsafe -- has been abusing the social media tool Storify in order to stalk and harass women, especially trans women, online. And Storify has not only failed to take this abuse seriously, but has also chosen to abet his abuse in harmful and egregious ways.

Let me back up. Yesterday I would have breathlessly told you that Storify was a valuable tool for compiling social media information. Twitter activism is powerful and meaningful, but Twitter makes it very difficult to compile lists of tweets (it's a 5-click process, at best, via Twitter). And Twitter also has a 3,200-search-limit on tweets: your 3,201th tweet, as well as every tweet before it, doesn't display in your Twitter account. That means that the only way I can access, for example, my filibuster tweets is via a laborious tweet-compilation process which Storify makes infinitely easier.

That's when people are using it properly. ElevatorGate has been instead using the Storify tool to obsessively compile the tweets of women he is stalking. Not tweets about activism or public events, or the sorts of things Storify is theoretically to be used for, but tweets about their favorite foods, about their daily lives, about their cat pictures. (I'm not going to link to examples of this and further victimize the women involved; suffice to say that I've looked through some of the 6,700+ Storifys in his profile.) He then uses the Storify "email notification" tool to spam the women he stalks with just that little daily notice that, hey, he's watching them. Every tweet they make. And storing those tweets up forever and ever without their consent.

Including tweets which, taken in the aggregate, could be used by anyone online to identify or locate or dox these women. 

Several wonderful activists on Twitter who I follow have been speaking to Storify asking them to ban this user and delete his account. They have noted also that the Storify TOS must be updated to address people who use this valuable tool for stalking purposes. The Storify people have not been unresponsive, but they have (wrongly) seized on the belief that the real problem here is the "email notification" abuse and not the stalking behavior characterizing the compilations of this user. The Storify team alerted one of the activists that they had warned the stalker about his usage of the notification process and limited his ability to send notifications, though not his ability to continue to Storify.

[Note: These tweets shared with the consent of @brassiest, @hubbit, and @colorlessblue.]

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Joshua Ledet: "Imagine"

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"Women’s free speech is under attack."

[Content Note: Harassment; threats of violence; misogyny; racism; silencing.]

Recently, I was interviewed by Kelly Diels for a piece she was writing for Salon about internet harassment of female writers. The piece is now available here, and it gives just a peek into the personal cost of being a woman writing online, and exposes the fallacy about the legal recourse we are presumed to have.

I'm not even going to excerpt it. Just go read the whole thing.


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In The News

Here is some stuff in the news today!

[Content Note: Harassment; racism; misogyny.] Here is Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) talking about the hashtag she started, #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, and how it has illuminated that "feminism as a global movement...has failed at one of the most basic [global responsibilities]: it has not been welcoming to all women, or even their communities."

Good News: "The California Supreme Court refused Wednesday to revive Proposition 8, ending the last remaining legal challenge to same-sex marriage in the state."

[CN: Sexual assualt] In May, President Obama said that sexual offenders in the military ought to be "prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged," and now lawyers in dozens of military assault cases have filed motions that his "words as commander in chief amounted to 'unlawful command influence,' tainting trials and creating unfair circumstances for clients as a result," which has resulted in some judges dismissing charges against accused rapists because the President has made it impossible for them to have a fair trial. In an effort to combat this bullshit, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has "sent out a directive" that I trust reads: "The President was making a political statement. Stop using his expressed desire to hold rapists accountable to NOT HOLD RAPISTS ACCOUNTABLE, you fucking assholes."

[CN: Rape culture; misogyny] Russell Simmons' YouTube channel released a completely horrendo video that suggests (for fun! because it's so ha ha hilarious!) Harriet Tubman sexually blackmailed her master "into letting her run the Underground Railroad." There has been great discussion about this on Twitter this morning. Go see, for a start: @NanticokeNDN, @mychalsmith, @NewBlackWoman, @carolynedgar, @Blackamazon, and @OHTheMaryD.

[CN: Death; political oppression] Egypt's Health Ministry reports that more than 500 people have been killed and nearly 4,000 injured in crackdowns on supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi.

The GOP is scared that if Hillary Clinton runs for president and is immediately anointed her party's nominee (why does everyone think this will happen? that was supposed to happen last time, and HI PRESIDENT OBAMA!), it will be terrible for them, because they have so many people who want to run in their party. Yes, a long primary can be bad for an eventual nominee (Mitt Romney), but it can also be good for an eventual nominee (Barack Obama). I think the Republicans' bigger problem is that they have a lot of people who want to run and ALL OF THEM ARE TERRIBLE.

Do you want Bryan Cranston to play Lex Luthor? Do you not care who plays Lex Luthor? I BARELY CARE who plays Lex Luthor, but if Bryan Cranston were playing Lex Luthor, I would care a nearly imperceptible smidgeon more!

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Racism.]

"I don't think there is objective evidence that we're precluding African-Americans from voting any longer."—Preeminent white supremacist fantasist and Republican Senator Rand Paul.

I bet Rand Paul's definition of "objective evidence" is very subjective!

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[Content Note: Misogyny; gender essentialism; war.]

From the "I pander to women by asserting they're better than men, but still obviously think they're less than men, ha ha, what am I—a FEMINIST?!" files:

Morning Joe guest and advertising executive Donny Deutsch quickly found himself in the deep end of a discussion on Hillary Clinton and gender Wednesday morning, when he argued that while a female president would promote a more [pacifistic] foreign policy, she would be hamstrung by male opponents who would exploit her less aggressive agenda—a thesis the rest of the panel strongly rebuked.

Deutsch was responding to a piece by Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker, which argued that a Clinton presidency would promote women’s constructive role in society, in turn encouraging internal reforms in hostile nations.

"There's only one challenge in it," Deutsch said. "Problem: we have a woman, but our enemies are still on the opposite side of the equation. I don't think the al Qaedas of the world are going to be headed by women, so it falls apart a little bit. Women plus women equals a win to me. Women and still men on the other side of the table? Theoretically the world would be a better place with women running it. It doesn't solve the problem."

..."If you have two women down to negotiate something, it's going to get done without bullets," Deutsch said. "On our side of the equation, we solve it, but there's a world that's still century behind in our evolutionary state or progressive state in how we feel about women."

"I'm trying to decide whether to ask you to explain yourself," Mika Brzezinski said.

"I'm talking in this idealistic utopian place of women getting together and making the world a better place, which I agree with," Deutsch explaind. "The problem is what we've learned throughout history is unanswered aggression breeds more aggression. So we're going to tack on this more maternal—"

"Be careful!" [Alex Wagner] warned.
I don't think the al Qaedas of the world are going to be headed by women. WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUCK. This guy.

There is so much wrong with this calculation that I hardly know where to begin, and I'll leave it to you to address ALL THE MANY WAYS IT IS WRONG in comments, but I will briefly note that the most objectionable thing about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a politician is her foreign policy positions. She, like every other Democratic candidate in my lifetime (and of course all the Republicans), is hell and gone more hawkish than I am. The thought that she would have a more pacifistic foreign policy than the men in her party is absurd.

In fact, if she were elected and were not aggressively militaristic to prove that women aren't weaker commanders-in-chief, it would probably only be because the country has such pervasive war exhaustion. In any other time, I would fully expect Clinton to be more hawkish in office than the rest of her party. And they're not exactly doves.

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Open Thread

Hosted by Number Six.

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Question of the Day

We've done this one before, but not for awhile... What is your favorite spice?

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Below is a video of a woman named Christina Bianco singing the 80s hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart" as 19 different famous female singers. I don't know what else to say about it than that. She is an amazing impressionist and it is awesome! The end.

Video Description: Christina Bianco, a woman who appears to be white, sings "Total Eclipse of the Heart" to a piano accompaniment onstage at a club with a live audience. She sings in the styles of: Adele, Cher, Judy Garland, Patti LuPone, Kristin Chenoweth, Edith Piaf, Bette Midler, Julie Andrews, Liza Minnelli, Bernadette Peters, Gwen Stefani, Zooey Deschanel, Britney Spears, Shakira, Alanis Morissette, Norah Jones, Christina Aguilera, Celine Dion, and Barbra Streisand.


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Wednesday Blogaround

Today's blogaround brought to you by dysfunctional university registration software.

Imani: Kal Penn? You Racist, Bro? [CN: racism]

M. Sophia: “Burka Avenger”: Pakistan’s Middle Class Gets a Feminist Cartoon [CN: colonialism, religious oppression, misogyny]

Jill: Looking for Help With Rape Threats on Xbox Live? Prepare to be Frustrated [CN: Rape culture]

Aerogram Editors: Uh-Oh: The Pentagon Considers Well-Traveled, Broke Indian American Women Threats [CN:Racism, misogyny]

Mychal: #Solidarityisforwhitewomen, #Blackpowerisforblackmen, but Many are Still Brave [CN: white supremacy, misogyny]

Rachel: Wadjda and the Saudi Women Fighting Oppression from Within [CN: misogyny, religious oppression, colonialism]

Francesca: Remixing the Canadian Narrative: Hip-Hop as Public History [CN: Racist erasure]

Indian Country Today Media Staff: Navajo Warriors: Today is National Navajo Code Talkers Day

David: Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and the War that Changed Poetry Forever [CN: death]

Please feel free to leave your links in comments below.

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Pentagon Extends Benefits to Same-Sex Married Couples

Good news from the Pentagon:

The Pentagon will extend to legally married same-sex couples the same privileges and programs that are provided to legally married heterosexual couples, including benefits tied to health care, housing, and family separation allowance, compensation paid to military members when their dependents can't live with them at their permanent duty station.

...On Tuesday, a senior official told NBC News that service members who are stationed in one of the 37 states where same-sex marriage is illegal will be offered up to 10 days of leave so they can travel to one of the 13 states, plus the District of Columbia, that grant same-sex marriage licenses.

Wednesday's announcement made no specific mention of the 10 days of leave, but did say, "We recognize that same-sex military couples who are not stationed in a jurisdiction that permits same-sex marriage would have to travel to another jurisdiction to marry. That is why the department will implement policies to allow military personnel in such a relationship non-chargeable leave for the purpose of travelling to a jurisdiction where such a marriage may occur."

Woot! Good news for Darrell Revels and Dylan Kirchner, and the many other servicemembers in same-sex marriages or relationships. Unfortunately, questions do remain in other areas, such as spousal benefits for veterans in same-sex marriages. Feel free to discuss all aspects of these developments in comments.

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Silencing and Intimidation of Women of Color at 'Men Against Sexism' Conference

by Emi Koyama

[Content Note: Racism, misogyny, harassment, bullying, silencing, gaslighting.]

Last week I attended the Forging Justice conference in Detroit, which was jointly sponsored by National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS) and HAVEN, a domestic violence and sexual assault agency in Oakland County, Michigan.

I was initially confused to be invited to a conference that was also called "38th National Conference on Men & Masculinities" since my activist and professional work have always centered on women, but I accepted the invitation to participate in the opening plenary on intersectionality and feminism after finding out that HAVEN handled the bulk of programming, while NOMAS took care of the bulk of fundraising. It helped that one of my friends knew Cristy Cardinal, who was HAVEN's conference programming chair. The other panelists for the opening plenary were Kristie Dotson of Michigan State University and Jessica Luther of Flyover Feminism.

I started my presentation by quoting Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarashina: "Fuck that word 'intersectionality,' but, you know, be it." I felt that this quote was very apt for this panel, because "intersectionality" has become a fancy buzzword among rather privileged academic feminists and others, eclipsing the fact that intersectionality is and has always been a lived reality of many people who struggle against multiple oppressions whether or not they use or even know the term.

My presentation, which along with other highlights from the conference is now available on HAVEN's Ustream channel, focused on how the mainstream anti-trafficking discourse promotes further surveillance and criminalization of already marginalized communities as the primary and often only solution to the problem of violence and exploitation experienced by youth and adults in the sex trade. I argued how such an approach ignores realities of people who are actually in the sex trade (due to any combination of choice, circumstances, or coercion), and harm the very people they are intended to help. At minimum, I believe, an intersectional analysis would require us to start from the acknowledgement that the state is a problematic institution, a source of violence against women of color and many others, that cannot be intrinsically relied on.

After the panel was over, Cristy from HAVEN came up to me and told me something shocking: minutes if not seconds before the panel was to begin, two white male co-chairs of NOMAS told her that the live-streaming of the panel would be turned off for my presentation after two other panelists spoke. She also told me that the men had indicated that, depending on what I say, they were prepared to step in and interrupt my presentation on the spot. Cristy said, "I'm sorry. I want to be transparent about what happened and accountable to you as a white feminist and a host of the conference. I wish I could do something different, but we didn't even have the time to have a discussion about this." Meanwhile on Twitter, people watching the live-streaming were confused as to what had just happened, because the streaming was abruptly terminated without any explanation.

News of what happened had spread by the next morning, and most of the women participating in the conference (and at least one man, the youngest and newest national council member of NOMAS) were furious about the censorship and threat. We were told that NOMAS would hold a "listening session" to hear community voices about the incident after the evening panel by the members of NOMAS national council. "They don't seem to think there was anything wrong with the decision," I was told by some of the women who spoke with the NOMAS leadership. "I don't know if you want to be there or say anything, but let us know how we can support you."

I did go to the panel, as did seven or eight women who showed up in solidarity. The panel of NOMAS national council members went on for almost two hours, each of them congratulating how they are so grateful for such a wonderful and supportive pro-feminist men's community that holds itself and other men accountable, while the women sat there quietly waiting for our chance to actually hold them accountable.

The last speaker was NOMAS co-founder Robert Brannon, who currently heads Pornography, Prostitution and Trafficking task group of NOMAS. During his speech about the harms of pornography and prostitution on women and children, he angrily began ranting about me--not using my name, but clearly referring to me and my writings, which I was distributing at the conference:

I deeply regret that at this conference, printed materials have been distributed stating that this average entry age of fourteen is just a "myth," and also stating that pimps are not controlling abusers, but friends, mentors, partners, and protectors. As a social scientist well-versed in both survey and experimental methodology, who has read empirical studies in details, I can assure you that the early entry age of fourteen is no myth at all.
Contrary to what Brannon said, responsible social scientists understand that "good estimates are hard to find, and good data are harder yet" in areas such as this, though the average age of 12-14 (as anti-prostitution activists often claim) is almost certainly "statistically impossible." And Brannon clearly distorted my argument when he claimed that I consider pimps "friends, mentors, partners, and protectors": what I have actually written was that friends and others close to people who trade sex are often targeted by the law enforcement as "pimps," leading to further isolation, which of course make us more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

Worst of all, Brannon and other members of NOMAS did not bother to ask any questions at my presentation, or approach me privately to discuss their concerns or disagreements; they just censored my presentation, threatened to interrupt and shut it down, and talked disparagingly about me, not with me, as if I did not belong in the feminist conversations over issues that directly affect me and my community.

After Brannon finished his talk, NOMAS national co-chair Moshe Rozdzial concluded the panel:
...No conference on issues of oppression is without bumps. Anytime you have an intersection, there is a possibility of accidents and mistakes. There have been few issues and concerns that have been brought to our attention and we want to address those... So, um, we would like to invite anybody who would like to communicate with us and process with us any concerns to join us immediately after this panel to do so. Otherwise, we'll see you at the evening program tonight.
With this, several NOMAS council members stood up and began walking toward the door, as did some of the men in the audience, but women started shouting at the panel, questioning what happened to the "listening session." Still, NOMAS chairs continued to feign ignorance: "Um, sure, some folks have walked out already, but if you've got some questions or discussion points, sure, I'd love to do that now." NOMAS panel did not even acknowledge what the issue was until Jessica Luther finally screamed, "WHY DID YOU CENSOR EMI???" despite the fact we had all waited in our seats for two hours for an opportunity to address the problem, as we had been promised.

Finally confronted by a group of women, Rozdzial gave this explanation:
So I just want to give a little history right now. We have never streamed any of our sessions before, ever. All of our conferences are in-house. Everything we do is essentially under our vetting and our approval. So we have no history of what happens to our materials that go out of our sessions, our conferences, and what that would look like in the world. We have a certain analysis, feminist analysis you have heard today, and so we became concerned that there was information that was possibly going to give very different analysis to what we believe in that may be harmful. [...]

So do you want to know exactly how the situation happened? Allen [Corben] and I, as co-chairs of NOMAS, when we saw the materials that disturbed not just us, but other people came to us about it, we went to Cristy who told us that Emi was concerned about having her information be livecast. So it was kind of like mutual place where we can, if Emi was concerned about being livecast, and we have concerns about it being livecast, we asked Cristy to not broadcast this.
Where do we even start? Rozdzial seems to think that he and other men of NOMAS get to define what feminism is, and censor women--in this instance, a survivor and a woman of color with first-hand experiences in the sex trade--because, apparently, women who disagree with NOMAS are not feminists. He also fabricates mutuality and consent where none existed, like any rapist who is confronted about violating another person without their consent, while blaming Cristy in the process.

Jessica, Melissa McEwan of Shakesville, and other fierce women kept pushing NOMAS leadership on and on until NOMAS co-chairs (but not Brannon) were forced to apologize for how their actions were harmful not just to me, but to other women who still had to present at the conference knowing that they could be targeted the same way, as well as to women of HAVEN who had worked hard to put on this conference without receiving the respect and deference they deserved.

After the panel, Rozdzial and Corben came over to personally apologize to me. But when I heard them say "We are sorry about what happened; we should have thought about how it makes us look bad," indicating that they were more concerned about damages to the credibility of their organization than about the pain and suffering they caused to me and other women participating in the conference, I did not want to talk to them any more. So I asked for their business cards, and promised to get in touch at a later date.

Meanwhile, Brannon, clearly angry from all the women challenging him and his colleagues, rushed toward the only other (as far as I know) woman of color in the room, activist Lauren Chief Elk of Save Wįyąbi Project, who had given a wonderful keynote speech in the morning. Standing extremely close to her with his hands raised, violating her personal space, he kept telling her that she was wrong to criticize racism within first-wave feminism and suggesting that he knew more about her people and culture than she did because he has read history books, much the same way he acted as if his "social science" background made him an expert about sex trade over someone who has actual lived experiences in it.

When those of us still in the room realized Brannon's menacing behavior toward Lauren, we stepped in and had him escorted out of the room. Jessica and Melissa demanded that Brannon not be allowed to return to the conference, to which a national council member of NOMAS replied, "I can make that happen."

Yet on the final day of the three-day conference, Brannon showed up at the conference, and was promptly escorted back to his room by NOMAS members upon HAVEN's request. Cristy, sitting at the registration table across from the main elevator, promised to keep a close eye on the elevator so that he wouldn't be able to come to the conference again (the entire conference was held in a small area on the basement level of the hotel).

But of course he came yet another time, after being escorted out twice by other men of NOMAS. I first noticed Brannon walking out of the big room that was set up for massages and other healing practices. The room had doors at each end of the room, which allowed someone to bypass the area monitored by Cristy and other women at the registration desk. He walked directly toward me, and began speaking to me, smirking, "so it looks like I caused some trouble." "CRISTY!!!" I screamed for help. Cristy and others rushed over, and NOMAS members once again ejected him.

As a survivor, I experience triggers frequently. I know that, most of the time, I feel scared about the situation or people because of something that has happened in the past, and that there usually is not an actual danger to myself. So for the last two days, despite the fact I felt scared and could not stop feeling shaky or sleep for more than two or three hours each night, I kept trying to tell myself that nobody was going to actually harm me.

After the third time Brannon violated boundaries of women like me, Lauren, and others, however, I was no longer certain that my scared feelings were just feelings: women know that someone that angry and out of control is capable of doing the unthinkable. So I decided to pack up and leave the conference hours before I had originally planned to do so. I had a NOMAS volunteer escort me for my safety until the hotel shuttle came to pick me up—I've been to many conferences where my opinions were not necessarily popular, but this was the first time I required a bodyguard.

To be honest, I never expected this conference to be that great. I have had enough unpleasant interactions with "feminist men" in the past, especially cis white men (which NOMAS mostly, although not exclusively, is), and never trusted them as a group. But I did not expect my experience at the conference to be this horrible: is this really what feminist and pro-feminist men do in the name of feminism? But once I disregarded their self-identification as feminists or pro-feminists, all the irony was lost: they are just bunch of racist, sexist, white men.

On the other hand, I met many wonderful women who truly had my back. We recognized racism, misogyny, and manipulative, controlling, or gaslighting/crazymaking behaviors for what they were, and understood that it was not just an attack on me, or on Lauren, but an attack on all of us as well as on the entire movement. I am truly grateful for how Cristy and other members of HAVEN brought together so many wonderful women to present, and stood up with us.

After leaving the conference earlier than I had planned, I took Amtrak to Chicago to attend the closing ceremony of Young Women's Empowerment Project (YWEP), a grass-roots peer-led organization by and for girls and young women (mostly women of color, with a substantial proportion of trans women of color among them) in the street economies, particularly in the sex trade. The organization had announced its closure earlier this year after twelve years of empowering street youth, under an increasingly hostile environment that reduced its ability to raise funds and to support youth being targeted by the mainstream anti-trafficking policies that rely on surveillance and criminalization.

For me, this past week has been such an emotional roller-coaster: I went through fear from being targeted, silenced, and menaced by white male "feminist allies" of NOMAS, excitement at finding solidarity with other wonderful women at the conference, absolute sense of acceptance and community with YWEP members and its adult allies, and deep and overwhelming sadness that set in as I reflected on the demise of a community that had been, for the past twelve years, the only family that many street youth ever had.

I believe that the two events I witnessed are related, not just in the sense men like Brannon supports policies that lead to further targeting of YWEP youth. The link is that men who view themselves as feminists or pro-feminists but treat women in controlling, manipulative, and paternalistic ways are just like many "anti-trafficking" activists that want to "rescue" youth in the sex trade by arresting them and institutionalizing them involuntarily. It almost seems that they want to regard the targets of their "rescue"--be it abused women or street youth or whatever--to be voiceless, so that they can speak over us; they want to infantilize us as innocent and incapacitated or brainwashed victims so that they can ignore our autonomy.

I am home now, and Brannon and others cannot hurt me anymore. But I don't know where the YWEP youth will go to now, and worry that they will experience more violence and exploitation in part because of the policies that he and other anti-prostitution activists promote. Brannon, whose pattern of abusive behaviors have been documented since at least 1992, continues to serve not just as the Pornography, Prostitution and Trafficking task group leader of NOMAS, but also as a co-chair of National Organization for Women, New York State chapter's Task Force on Trafficking, Pornography and Prostitution.

I am beyond furious that people who claim to be allies to women and to people in the sex trade continue to act this way, or implicitly endorse them by passively tolerating others who act this way. Like "intersectionality," "accountability" should not be just a buzzword people utter for brownie points: indeed, fuck that word "accountability," but, you know, be it.

(Please read the list of demands to NOMAS that women who attended Forging Justice came up with, and support our effort. Please also support Young Women's Empowerment Project raise money to help its youth leadership move on to next chapters of their lives.)

Emi Koyama is a multi-issue social justice activist and writer synthesizing feminist, Asian, survivor, dyke, queer, sex worker, intersex, genderqueer, and crip politics, as these factors, while not a complete descriptor of who she is, all impacted her life. She puts "emi" back in feminism at

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List of Demands to NOMAS (National Organization for Men Against Sexism) from Women of #forgingjustice.

We are women who participated in Forging Justice conference as speakers, attendees, organizers, and volunteers. We witnessed a series of extremely troubling incidents during the conference involving members of NOMAS national council, as Emi has reported in a separate article, and we would like to make following demands.

1. Acknowledge that NOMAS chairs wrongly censored (on livestream) a speaker who had been invited by HAVEN to participate in this conference, and threatened to step in and interrupt her presentation, thereby harming the integrity of both the speaker and HAVEN which had selected her as an important voice in our movement.

2. Acknowledge that by unilaterally making the decision to censor a speaker minutes before the panel rather than discussing its concerns with HAVEN or with the speaker, NOMAS chairs undermined its partnership with HAVEN, and by extension its part in the larger movement against violence against women, which must be women- and survivor-centered.

3. Acknowledge that NOMAS chairs wrongly characterized the censored speaker as un-feminist and "harmful" as a justification for the censorship, as if "pro-feminist" men could monopolize the definition of feminism.

4. Acknowledge that NOMAS chairs initially claimed, falsely, that there was a "mutual" agreement not to live-stream the presentation, when the decision was made unilaterally by the co-chairs, which resembles how rapists often claim that their criminal violation was consensual.

5. Acknowledge that NOMAS founder and council member Robert Brannon exhibited a pattern of abusive behaviors, including: attacking an invited speaker publicly by mischaracterizing her work, using his position as a white male social scientist to ridicule and dismiss activists speaking from their own lived experiences and that of their communities, and menacing a woman of color speaker by violating her personal space and another by sneaking around to approach her after being expelled from the conference twice already.

6. Acknowledge that other members of NOMAS national council have been aware of the pattern of abusive behaviors Brannon exhibited since at least 1992 and yet have failed to hold him accountable, or to practice "bystander intervention" while he publicly attacked a speaker during the NOMAS panel. Hold him accountable now.

7. Ensure that NOMAS will be transparent about what happened this year to any potential future co-sponsors of NOMAS conferences as well as all potential speakers so that they can make an informed decision as to whether or not to participate. Make plans to ensure the safety of speakers as well as all women attending any future conferences.

8. Issue a letter (or letters) of genuine apology to Emi, Lauren, HAVEN, and to the larger community that spells out in detail what went wrong, why they were wrong, and what NOMAS will do to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. These letters should be posted on NOMAS' website and included in its newsletter (electronic or otherwise).

9. Establish internal policies, procedures, and trainings that specifically address the intimidation and abuse tactics shown by members of NOMAS national council during the 2013 conference in order to hold national council members accountable before women are forced to intervene, or requiring women to continually intervene.

10. In the next conference of NOMAS, dedicate a plenary panel to represent the voices it has actively censored, namely, women in or with histories in the sex trade and analysis on violence and exploitation facing their communities. The perspective agreeing with NOMAS' particular analysis can be part of the conversation, but it cannot be the only voice represented in the panel, because hand-picking a "poster child" that one happens to agree with is not the same as being ally to members of marginalized communities. Be transparent about the incidents that took place this year, ensure the safety of the speakers, and compensate them well for their valuable contribution. We can help NOMAS find speakers, assuming that our demands are met.

We expect your response by September 1st, 2013. If our demands are not met to our satisfaction, we will use our personal, professional, activist, and social media networks to ensure that no feminist organization will co-sponsor another conference with NOMAS or collaborate in any other projects with NOMAS.

Amanda Levitt (@FatBodyPolitics,
Cristy Cardinal (@masculine_lady; Program Director, Prevention Education, HAVEN)
Ellen Taraskiewicz (@notsaintellen,
Emi Koyama (@emikoyama,
Jessica Luther (@scATX,
Kathryn Kucyk (Prevention Educator, HAVEN)
Kristie Dotson (Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Michigan State University)
Lauren Chief Elk (@chiefelk, Save Wįyąbi Project)
Leah Taraskiewicz (@leah_tea; Prevention Educator, HAVEN)
Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz,

Addendum by Cristy Cardinal of HAVEN, the lead conference organizer:

I am very sorry for participating in silencing Emi Koyama at Forging Justice.

When I was approached by Moshe and Allen to not broadcast Emi's portion of the panel, I co-signed their white supremacy by agreeing to cut off the livestream. I also told them that Emi had expressed concerns about having her words shared in that way on the event Facebook page, giving them fuel to manufacture Emi's consent. I could have said no, and I didn't. Regardless of the situation, environment or my own socialization, I could've said no and I didn't.

I will not make excuses, or explain how I felt. Such words have little meaning. I will own that white supremacy is hard to resist, even for those of us with tender and caring hearts who work to center the lives of marginalized folks. I fucked up, and was not vigilant enough of my own behavior.

In an effort to be accountable, I have done the following to this point:

1. Directed our tech folks to record Emi's talk so that it could be broadcast later.

2. Immediately after her talk, I told Emi what happened, being very direct about what I said and did in the process. I also apologized and asked her what she would like to see happen. I told her that I would proceed as she wished, and that I couldn't guarantee an outcome, but that I could guarantee action.

3. Offered to pay for Emi to leave the conference at her convenience, desire or need rather than the time originally scheduled.

4. Organized other women and a few men at the conference to show support for Emi and to publicly ask them for accountability.

5. When NOMAS council members individually and collectively asked me what they could do to be accountable, I told them that the list of demands would come from Emi with my support.

Additionally, I resolve to signal boost Emi's demands, as well as her recounting of the events at Forging Justice so that folks can hear her lived experience. I resolve to leverage my resources as a white woman with institutional power to support Emi in whatever way she wants. Most importantly, I am approaching my accountability as an ongoing process rather than something I am finished with because I wrote this statement and shared it. I resolve to do what it takes to demonstrate accountability to Emi and the other women of Forging Justice, including my colleagues at HAVEN.

Cristy S. Cardinal

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Olivia the White Farm Cat sleeping on the arm of the sofa, looking very fluffy
Fluffy cat is fluffy.

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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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Aretha Franklin: "Respect"

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In The News

Here are some things in the news today!

[Content Note: Harassment; racism] Sarah Mirk at Bitch Media: We Need to Talk About Hugo, Race, and Feminism.

[CN: Gendered violence; descriptions of violence] Former Afghanistan MP Noor Zia Atmar, one of the first female members of parliament and an outspoken leader for women's rights in the country, has requested asylum after fleeing from her abusive husband.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker has won the Democratic Senate primary in New Jersey.

[CN: Racism] 92-year-old Rosanell Eaton is, along with several other people and civil rights groups, suing the state of North Carolina over its newly passed voting laws, which are really voter suppression laws. Eaton, at age 21, "became one of the first African Americans in her county registered to vote, after successfully completing a literacy test that required her to recite the preamble to the Constitution." Now 71 years later, she's facing a new potential disenfranchisement, as she may not qualify for a voter ID card now required to vote.

Ms. Eaton's story is uncannily reminiscent of the experience of Dorothy Cooper of Tennessee, which we discussed in 2011.

Do you want to read the cutest story about MM2 2nd class Jerrel Revels proposing to his boyfriend on Pier 31 at the Naval Submarine Base after six months aboard the USS New Mexico? I don't see why you wouldn't! It's adorable!

[CN: Misogyny] Even women working in the highest, most profligately compensated executive positions at S&P 500 corporations are making 18% less than their male counterparts.

[CN: Guns] A firearms instructor accidentally shot a student while teaching a gun-safety class.

This is a real headline in the world: Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie Narrowly Avoid Airplane Run-In. Phew!

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I Am Having a Hard Time with the World Right Now

[Content Note: Gendered violence; guns; terrorism.]

Someone is targeting women in Waukegan, IL, and shooting them with a BB gun:

In north suburban Waukegan, someone is shooting a BB gun or pellet gun at women.

Six women have been targeted so far. Investigators say all but one of the victims was female, and the one man who was hit was with a group of women.

Police say some of the victims have had to go to the hospital. One person was struck in the face. Another woman who was targeted was visibly pregnant.

Photos released by Waukegan police show some of the injuries sustained by the female victims, the BBs or pellets piercing the skin.

"We do believe them to be very serious injuries, and the potential for extraordinary injuries is very apparent," said Sgt. Cory Kelly, Waukegan Police Dept.

Police say at least half a dozen incidents have been reported in various parts of Waukegan. And though investigators won't say where they've occurred, all the victims were struck near intersections while on foot.

The news was alarming to the many out for a stroll Tuesday.

"It's just scary. All we're trying to do is get a little exercise done and enjoy the nice weather out in the sun," said Jami Imroth, Waukegan resident.
All we're trying to do is live our lives, but instead we're being terrorized by some asshole who thinks it's hilarious to shoot women like we're prey.

I don't know how the women and man who have been hit will feel about this, long-term. How it will affect them, if at all. But I hope they get the support they need. I imagine there's going to be a lot of "what's the big deal; it's only a BB gun," and I suspect there already is, which is why that police sergeant is talking about how these are serious injuries. The mindfuck of knowing you were stalked and targeted because you're a woman can be a pretty serious injury, too.

I wish them safety and peace. And I hope there are no more victims.

Iain and I were married at the Waukegan courthouse. Which makes this feel close. The other day, a man was shot at the gas station I always use, right near my house. The gun culture is starting to feel a lot like the terrorist culture, at least to this member of the no-gun culture.

[H/T to Jordan.]

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Limes Are Assholes

moving image of a white puppy licking a lime and then attacking it in a very hilarious way

Actually, I really like limes. But I have my own Rosebud lime. SO DO WE ALL.

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Open Thread

Hosted by Kryten.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker skirt: "What is one cheap thing you cannot get enough of? (Earrings!)"

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...a white dude named Bryan Goldberg has just raised $6.5 million to start a "feminist" website.

Isn't it time for a women's publication that puts world news and politics alongside beauty tips? What about a site that takes an introspective look at the celebrity world, while also having a lot of fun covering it? How about a site that offers career advice and book reviews, while also reporting on fashion trends and popular memes?

I don't care how awesome Bryan Goldberg is (or isn't) or how well (or badly) he uses that $6.5 million. The point is: A feminist woman who wanted to launch an explicitly feminist online space would never get that kind of funding.

In other news, I am fundraising for Shakesville.

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Please Support Shakesville

teaspoon icon This is, for those who have requested it, your bi-monthly reminder to donate to Shakesville and an important fundraiser to keep Shakesville going.

If you have appreciated being able to tune into Shakesville for coverage of reproductive rights battles, for trial coverage, for getting distilled news about politics or other news, for recaps of your favorite show, or for whatever else you appreciate at Shakesville, whether it's the moderation, the community in Open Threads, Film Corner, video transcripts, the blogarounds, or anything else, please remember that Shakesville is run exclusively on donations. I would certainly appreciate your support, if you can afford to chip in. The donation link is in the sidebar to the right. Or click here.

[Further explanation of fundraising is here. Please note that I don't want anyone to feel obliged to contribute financially, especially if money is tight. Aside from valuing feminist work, the other goal of fundraising is so Iain and I don't have to struggle on behalf of the blog, and I don't want anyone else to struggle themselves in exchange. There is a big enough readership that neither should have to happen.]

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[Content Note: Misogyny; appropriation; sexual violence.]

I think it's supercool that the New York Times' Frank Bruni was able to find a white dude who is a professor AND a comic to talk to for a piece on "Tackling the Roots of Rape." He's so good at saying the things that feminist and womanist women have been saying for longer than he has been alive!

I am so glad that all of our free labor has gotten him a book deal and an interview in the Times! Good for him!

ETA. Maybe he said ALL KINDS of awesome stuff about women who laid this groundwork during the interview, and we will never know! That is definitely possible in an infinite universe! In any case, my ire is really with the Times, and Bruni, who think it's cool to feature a piece about antirape advocacy on the op-ed page with no reference to female advocates and no indication that the singular white male subject is not the progenitor of these concepts.

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