Question of the Day

What's the last experience you had that you delayed out of fear or dread or just expecting to hate it, but ended up being a pleasant experience?

Could be anything, from seeing the dentist to skydiving.

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So, this happened last night on So You Think You Can Dance, and I just loved it so much, and I thought I'd share it here for anyone who also loved it and wants to talk about it, or for anyone who doesn't watch the show might enjoy it:

Video Description: Seven young men dressed in matching dark blue wrap garments on their lower bodies, and decorated with smudgy blue paint on their shoulders, perform Travis Wall choreography to Beck's "Wave." They come together in a group, and then move apart, and then come back together, undulating like water. They move in unison, then individually, then in unison again. One of them is thrown above their heads, and flies forward, to be caught by others. At the end, they slowly fall forward off the stage, in a curving row, one by one.

* * *

In the segment before the performance, Travis Wall said (paraphrasing from memory) he thought it would be good for viewers to see boys dance like this. By which I assume he meant: Supportively, emotionally, cooperatively. And I agree.

* * *

The top seven girls also performed a Mandy Moore choreography last night, and they danced it beautifully. It just didn't feel quite as moving to me, to watch young women dancing to Evanescene's "My Immortal," which is a woman singing about a relationship. That's not a criticism of the dancers. It just wasn't of as much interest to me.

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Photo of the Day

image of about a dozen dolphins surfing the blue waves
From the Telegraph's Pictures of the Day for 31 July 2014: A pod of dolphins surf a wave in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa. [Stan Blumberg/Barcroft Media]
Love. They are so resplendently graceful.

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Hell Yes

[Content Note: Animal abuse; guns.]

GOP 'betraying mascot' elephant, animal activists say:

More than 75,000 people have signed a petition protesting the Republican-backed Lawful Ivory Protection Act, which the animal rights activists say would encourage elephant poaching by establishing a market for ivory trade in the U.S.

Now, activists are pointing out the ivory irony.

"For years, the GOP has proudly held up the elephant as a mascot for their party — but when it comes to protecting these gentle giants, it seems Republican lawmakers are willing to betray this majestic animal," the petition says.

...The GOP bill comes in response to a new rule from the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) that bans the trade of all ivory, including ivory that was obtained legally decades ago before rules against poaching elephants came about.

That means that antique guns and musical instruments that were made with ivory at a time when it was fashionable in the 19th and early 20th centuries could no longer be sold, even though the owners could still pass them on to family members.

Republicans say it is unfair to retrospectively ban the sale of antique items contain legally acquired ivory, but the FWS and many animal rights activists argue even demand for antique items encourages poachers to continue killing elephants and "undermines the attempt to crack down on the demand for poached, illegal ivory."

...But this comes as little comfort to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), sponsor of the Lawful Ivory Protection Act, who last week warned the Obama administration may be trying to "take away our guns" with the ivory ban.

The petition notes: "The lives of elephants are so much more important than the ability of collectors to buy and sell antique firearms," but of course nothing—nothing—is more important than guns.

Meanwhile, note the breathtaking mendacity that Alexander is arguing this legislation is a backdoor attempt to "take away our guns" when the legislation is specifically about selling those guns.

Tell ya what, conservatives—you go ahead and keep your ivory fucking guns (nobody tell them they were going to get to, anyway) in exchange for giving up your elephant logo. I've even designed a brand new one for you, which I offer you free of charge.

image of the GOP logo reimagined as a dinosaur

Use it in good health, bozos.

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[Content Note: Surveillance.]

"CIA improperly accessed Senate computers, agency finds." Whoooooops!

CIA employees improperly accessed computers used by the Senate Intelligence Committee to compile a report on the agency's now defunct detention and interrogation program, an internal CIA investigation has determined.

Findings of the investigation by the CIA Inspector General's Office "include a judgment that some CIA employees acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached between SSCI (Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) and the CIA in 2009," CIA spokesman Dean Boyd said in a statement.
Well. That's sure a nice way of putting it.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Matilda the Fuzzy Sealpoint Cat lying in a red faux leather chair
This is Matilda's chair, and don't even think you're gonna be able to sit here.

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

Los del Rio: "Macarena"

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Human rights violation] Wow: "Environmental activists from West Virginia on Wednesday delivered more than 1,000 gallons of bottled water to residents of Detroit, where more than 15,000 of the city's poorest people have had their water shut off... Bill DePaulo, with Keeper of the Mountains Foundation, drove a U-Haul truck to carry 1,080 gallons of water paid for by donations from West Virginians [many of whom still aren't drinking the water from their own taps after a coal processing chemical spill in January]. He arrived on Wednesday morning at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, one of four water distribution centers in the city, giving out about 300 gallons in just a few hours. ...'To come from West Virginia and to drive a truck with tons of water in it and to come up here and help folks is a pure act of love and solidarity,' said Detroit community activist Maureen Taylor. 'This is what America is. This is what we are.'"

[CN: Rape; violence; reproductive coercion; anti-immigrant sentiment] Jack Jenkins and Esther Yu-Hsi Lee have a powerful piece at Think Progress profiling one of the many asylum-seeking undocumented immigrants arriving in the US: "Meet Carolina, Who Brought Her Daughters 1,500 Miles to the U.S. So They Wouldn't Be Raped." It is tough but important reading.

[CN: Anti-immigrant sentiment; racism; hostility to consent] In one of the grossest examples of how Republicans are willing to exploit and further harmpeople like Carolina and her daughters, Rep. Michele Bachmann is peddling a gross theory, based on a thoroughly mendacious interpretation of the medical care of a child, that undocumented and unaccompanied children "fleeing violence in Central America who have come in large numbers to the southern U.S. border: they are future victims of a liberal plot to use unwilling children for medical experiments." Utterly contemptible.

[CN: Illness] Sierra Leone has declared a state of emergency following the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola, which has killed 729 people in West Africa so far. "The outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever, for which there is no known cure, began in the forests of remote eastern Guinea in February [and has claimed lives in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone] but Sierra Leone now has the highest number of cases."

[CN: Misogyny] US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg basically says that the male justices can't sufficiently empathize with women.

NEAT HEADLINE! "Books test market for Hillary Clinton hostility." Let's roll out some shit smearing a prominent woman for the explicit purpose of measuring people's hostility toward her. Cool books, bro.

And finally: Here is just a terrific video compilation of dogs sleeping. Oh dogs.

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Today in Rape Culture

[Content Note: Sexual violence; rape apologia.]

One of the most pernicious lies people tell in asserting there is no such thing as "rape culture" is this: Everyone agrees that rape is terrible.

After RAINN made their absurd statement earlier this year undermining the notion of the rape culture, Caroline Kitchens wrote a piece for Time, titled "It's Time to End 'Rape Culture' Hysteria," which included a passage that is perfectly indicative of this lie:

In January, the White House asserted that we need to combat campus rape by "[changing] a culture of passivity and tolerance in this country, which too often allows this type of violence to persist."

Tolerance for rape? Rape is a horrific crime, and rapists are despised. We have strict laws that Americans want to see enforced. Though rape is certainly a serious problem, there's no evidence that it's considered a cultural norm. Twenty-first century America does not have a rape culture; what we have is an out-of-control lobby leading the public and our educational and political leaders down the wrong path. Rape-culture theory is doing little to help victims, but its power to poison the minds of young women and lead to hostile environments for innocent males is immense.
Rapists are despised.

Well, some rapists are. Especially the ones who hew closely to the Law & Order: SVU central casting description of a swarthy monster who jumps out the bushes to prey on innocent, beautiful strangers.

But rapists who look like—or literally are—the boy next door, rapists who are boyfriends and husbands and fathers, or girlfriends and wives and mothers, or bosses or classmates or free speech heroes or film stars or admired athletes, or even just good-looking, they're not as likely to be despised. Or even believed to be rapists at all.

Roman Polanski gets awards. Woody Allen has stars lining up to be in his pictures. And Mike Tyson, a man who was not merely accused of rape, but who was tried and convicted and served time for raping Desiree Washington, gets a biopic made of his life starring an Academy Award winner:
Having already played the corner man to one of the greatest boxers of all-time, Jamie Foxx looks ready to get back in the ring to portray one of the most recognizable boxers and sports figures of this generation.

Sources tell Variety that Foxx is attached to play Mike Tyson in an untitled biopic that Terence Winter is set to pen. Rick Yorn, who is Foxx's manager, is shepherding the project and will produce.

The package is still coming together and is currently without a studio, but once the final details are ironed out and it is presented to the market, it shouldn't be hard to interest a distributor.
Of course it shouldn't.

The piece goes on to call Tyson "one of the most polarizing figures in sports" with "a rough around-the-edges personality," before briefly mentioning that, in the 1990s, his "life began to spin out of control, including a six-year stint in prison after being found guilty of rape."

He also "made headlines" when he "bit off part of [Evander] Holyfield's ear." His history of domestic violence, and subsequent rape charges, are not mentioned.

"In recent years," we are told, "he has kept out of trouble."

Some rapists are despised. And some rapists are rehabilitated. By which I mean: Their crimes both forgiven and all but forgotten, in order that they may be adored once again.

Mike Tyson will forever be an interesting figure in terms of the rape culture, and the narrative that we all condemn rape and despise rapists, because he is notable for having been convicted of the crime. There's no wiggle room for rape apologists to say, "He hasn't been convicted of anything." He has. Yet despite the conceit that convictions will silence apologists, Tyson's conviction hasn't.

To the contrary, he's still not even regarded as "a rapist," but a man whose life spun out of control, including having to serve time for being found guilty of rape. Just one of many reckless mistakes he made. Oopsy.

We need to get honest about this. Not all rapists are despised. And that is, from where I'm sitting, pretty damning evidence of a culture that tolerates rape, just as long as it's committed by someone we want to like.

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[Content Note: Homophobia.]

I don't even know:

A "social media strategist" for a Utah school serving foreign students said he was fired after his school's owner reprimanded him for the allegedly gay connotations of a blog post concerning homophones, the Salt Lake City Tribune reported.

"People at this level of English may see the 'homo' side and think it has something to do with gay sex." the owner, Clarke Woodger, allegedly told Tim Torkildson while firing him last week.

Torkildson reportedly was hired as a teacher at Nomen Global Language Center in Provo this past April 1 before being re-assigned to handle the school's social media. Torkildson gave his account of the meeting with Woodger on his personal blog.

"I'm letting you go because I can't trust you," Woodger allegedly said. "This blog about homophones was the last straw. Now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality."

Woodger also allegedly complained that he didn't know what homophones — words that sound identical while having different meanings and spellings — were, and that it was the kind of "advanced stuff" Nomen did not teach its students. He also accused Torkildson of not being reliable enough to continue working for the school.

"I never have any idea what you're going to do next. I can't run my business that way," Woodger said, according to Torkildson. "You'd probably make a great college professor, but since you don't have a degree you'll never get that kind of work. I would advise you to try something clerical, where you'll be closely supervised and have immediate goals at all times. That's the only kind of job you'll ever succeed at."
So, the owner of a school which teaches English as a second language doesn't know what homophones are, and thus assumes that everyone else will not know what they are, despite the whole point of the post being to explain what they are, and believes that people who see it will associate their school with "gay sex."

Okay. Well, for the record, if I saw a post about homophones, I would not have presumed your school was associated with "gay sex," but having seen that you fired someone for writing about homophones and that the owner of the school doesn't even know what they are, I do presume your school is stupid and run by a jackass.

Which, I can only guess, given this reaction, is preferable to being thought of as tolerant.


Once upon a time, I taught an ESL conversation class, and I had a major homo agenda. Not only did I teach homophones, but also homonyms.

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Dr. Willie Parker

[Content Note: War on agency; class warfare; racism; religion; descriptions of abortion.]

Esquire has a profile on Dr. Willie Parker, a doctor who flies into Mississippi from out of state in order to provide abortions at the state's last standing abortion clinic, which the state is trying to close down: "The Abortion Ministry of Dr. Willie Parker."

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

Thank you, Dr. Parker, for what you do.

[H/T to Robin Marty.]

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Open Thread

image of an orangutan lying in the grass beside an orange tabby cat, whose chin is wresting on the orangutan's hand

Hosted by an orangutan and an orange tabby cat.

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Question of the Day

When was the last time you went swimming?

As always, "Never" or "I don't like swimming" are perfectly cromulent answers. I'm also aware that there are people who have traumatic experiences with water/swimming, or body policing/swimwear, and those are on topic; just be sure to use content notes as applicable.

I think the last time I went swimming was last summer at a local community pool. I can't believe it's almost August and I haven't made it over there once yet this year. Boo! I need to make that shit happen.

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Fat Fashion

This is your semi-regular thread in which fat women can share pix, make recommendations for clothes they love, ask questions of other fat women about where to locate certain plus-size items, share info about sales, talk about what jeans cut at what retailer best fits their body shapes, discuss how to accessorize neutral colored suits, share stories of going bare-armed for the first time, brag about a cool fashion moment, whatever.

image of me standing outside in a blacktop lot, wearing a camel faux leather jacket, a grey sequined tank, dark-wash 'skinny' jeans, and grey ankle boots
Out on a recent date night.

The only even remotely recent purchase in that shot is the jacket, which I got during a great sale online at Maurices. It's still available for purchase here. The sequined tank I got at Avenue a million years ago; the jeans I got at Torrid sometime last year; and the grey ankle boots I got from Naturalizer, probably two years ago.

All four of those places are currently having online sales or specials right now, hence using this picture!

A lot of online joints that sell plus-size clothes are having good summer sales right now. ModCloth is having a terrific 70% off sale. Simply Be has a code you can use for 25% off your first purchase there. Roaman's is having their annual summer blow-out sale.

Are any of your favorite places offering great deals at the moment? If so, spread the word!

Naturally, comments don't have to be restricted to talking about sales. The usual happy shares, advice solicitation, complaints, whatever, are all on-topic, as ever.

Have at it in comments! Please remember to make fat women of all sizes, especially women who find themselves regularly sizing out of standard plus-size lines, welcome in this conversation, and pass no judgment on fat women who want to and/or feel obliged, for any reason, to conform to beauty standards. And please make sure if you're soliciting advice, you make it clear you're seeking suggestions—and please be considerate not to offer unsolicited advice. Sometimes people just need to complain and want solidarity, not solutions.

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They're Not Laughing with You...

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

Earlier this week, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said in a speech that women should not "laugh in public" in order to demonstrate sufficient chastity:

"A man should be moral but women should be moral as well, they should know what is decent and what is not decent," Arinc said in a speech on Monday, in the western Bursa region for the Bayram holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.

"She should not laugh loudly in front of all the world and should preserve her decency at all times," he added.
He also said: "Chastity is so important. She will not laugh in public."

And in what has to be my favorite pushback campaigns of all time, women in Turkey (and women of Turkish extraction living elsewhere) have taken to social media to post audio of themselves laughing and pictures of themselves smiling: "There have been more than 300,000 tweets using the term "kahkaha"—the Turkish word for "laughter"—and on the hashtags "Resist Laughter" (#direnkahkaha) and "Resist Woman" (#direnkadin)."


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Quote of the Day

"Stop being mad all the time. Stop just hatin' all the time. Let's get some work done."—President Barack Obama, addressing Congressional Republicans who are threatening to sue him over his use of executive actions.

1. The Republicans are such mendacious fucks. They constantly obstruct the President's and the Democratic Party's legislative measures, and then they accuse the President of overreach when he's left with no option but to get things done via executive order.

2. I love it, LOVE IT, when President Obama shit-talks the GOP.

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The Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by falsettos.

Recommended Reading:

Kath: [Content Note: Harassment; abuse; stalking; misogyny; fat hatred] It's Time for Us All to Break the Silence

Aoife: [CN: Transmisogyny; cissexism; violence; objectification] America's Got Abjection: The Trans Subject as Sacrifice, from Stage to Street

Jess: [CN: Violence; exploitation] On Ray Rice's Suspension and Whom the NFL Cares About

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

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On the Renisha McBride Case

[Content Note: Murder; guns; racism.]

The trial of Theodore Wafer, the white man who shot and killed Renisha McBride, a 19-year-old black woman who sought help at his front door following a car accident, is now underway.

Over at the Black Youth Project, former prosecutor and founder of Debbie Hines writes about the steep uphill battle to secure justice (and I encourage you to read the whole thing, because I'm excerpting just a small bit of a great piece here):

As a former prosecutor, I'd like to think that justice will prevail for Renisha McBride who was seeking help following a car accident when she was shot and killed. As a woman of color, I have my lingering doubts. The trial began for the man accused of murdering Renisha McBride, who knocked on his door in the early morning hours of November 2, 2013. Instead of helping her, Theodore Wafer came to his locked door and shot her in the face. The undisputed facts are really quite simple. But in the criminal justice system, a case involving a black woman victim and a white male defendant will be anything but simple.

...What really bothers me is the fact that Renisha McBride will be on trial along with Wafer.

...Defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter argued before Judge Dana Hathaway, "our defense is blown to pieces if you don't allow me to argue to the jury that she could have been up to no good."
Got that? The defense doesn't have a way to defend their client's actions because Judge Hathaway "denied the defense attorneys' request to present social media photos of McBride posing with an apparent gun and marijuana."

Does this sound familiar? It should. Because that was the exact same shit that George Zimmerman's defense pulled at his trial for murdering Trayvon Martin.

Even though Judge Hathaway denied Wafer's defense team these particular ways of putting McBride on trial, they are still endeavoring to put her on trial all the same. McBride was intoxicated at the time of the accident and at the time she came to Wafer's door.

Clearly, this is not a justification for being murdered by a fearful man who literally shot first and called police afterwards.

Let us hope the jury doesn't buy this reprehensible victim-blaming that the defense is presenting as justification for their client's murderous instincts.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound sitting on the loveseat with his ears up in funny positions

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

Minnie Riperton & Peabo Bryson, "Here We Go"

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Misogynoir; domestic violence; guns] This week is the Standing Our Ground Week of Action in support of Marissa Alexander. You can find and/or organize local actions here.

[CN: War; death] In Israel and Gaza: "Israeli missiles slammed into a second United Nations school packed with sheltering Gazan refugees Wednesday, killing at least 16 people and wounding more than 90 others during a period of heavy bombardment of the besieged enclave. The attack preceded a temporary, limited and unilateral cease-fire imposed by Israel. ...More than 200,000 displaced Palestinians, many heeding Israeli evacuation warnings, have taken shelter in U.N. schools and buildings across the besieged territory. The U.N. said it had communicated to the Israeli military 17 times prior to Wednesday's attack, including once just hours before the fatal shelling, that thousands of internally displaced Palestinians had sought refuge in the school." Again I will note that the cavernous disproportion of this offensive cannot be ignored.

[CN: War on agency; misogyny] Hobby Lobby continues to be terrific: "When a very pregnant Felicia Allen applied for medical leave from her job at Hobby Lobby three years ago, one might think that the company best known for denying its employees insurance coverage of certain contraceptives—on the false grounds that they cause abortions—would show equal concern for helping one of its employees when she learned she was pregnant. Instead, Allen says the self-professed evangelical Christian arts-and-crafts chain fired her and then tried to prevent her from accessing unemployment benefits."

[CN: War on agency; reference to Satanism] Welp: "The Satanic Temple—a faith community that describes itself as facilitating 'the communication and mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty' [and a group that 'falls somewhere between satire, performance art, and activism']—has launched a new campaign seeking a religious exemption to certain anti-abortion laws that attempt to dissuade women from ending a pregnancy. The group says they have deeply held beliefs about bodily autonomy and scientific accuracy, and those beliefs are violated by state-level 'informed consent' laws that rely on misleading information about abortion risks. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, the Satanists point out, it strengthens their own quest to opt out of laws related to women's health care that go against their religious liberty. 'Because of the respect the Court has given to religious beliefs, and the fact that our our beliefs are based on best available knowledge, we expect that our belief in the illegitimacy of state­ mandated 'informational' material is enough to exempt us, and those who hold our beliefs, from having to receive them,' a spokesperson for the organization said in a statement."

In good news: "Control of Detroit's massive municipal water department, which has been widely criticized by the United Nations and others for widespread service shutoffs to thousands of customers, has been returned to the mayor's office. The move comes a week after the department said it would temporarily suspend shutoffs for customers who were 60 days or more behind on bills for 15 days, and a few months ahead of the expected handoff of financial control of the bankrupt city from a state-appointed manager back to Detroit's elected leaders."

[CN: Wildfires. Video may begin to play automatically at link.] Damn: "A wildfire raging in and around Yosemite National Park swelled to more than five and a half square miles despite hundreds more personnel being sent to tackle the blaze." In addition to displacing people and doing millions of dollars of property damage, the fire is also threatening Yosemite's Giant Sequoias.

[CN: Animal injury, but with a happy ending] And finally! Joanie and Chachi, a stray pitbull and her companion, a little chihuahua with an injured eye whom she carried around in her mouth, were rescued from their grim and treacherous existence. And in the happiest ending ever, they found a forever home—together. ♥

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On Women in Tech

[Content Note: Misogyny; sexual harassment; gender essentialism.]

There's a good piece by Issie Lapowsky over at Wired about the challenges, including straight-up harassment, that women in tech face when searching for funding. It starts with this anecdote:

Shortly after Kathryn Tucker started RedRover, an app that showcases local events for kids, she pitched the idea to an angel investor at a New York tech event. But it didn't go over well. When she finished her pitch, the investor said he didn't invest in women.

When she asked why, he told her. "I don't like the way women think," he said. "They haven't mastered linear thinking." To prove his point, he explained that his wife could never prioritize her to-do lists properly. And then, as if he was trying to compliment her, he told Tucker she was different. "You're more male," he said.

Tucker didn't need to hear any more. "I said, 'Thanks very much,' walked out, and never spoke to him again."
This, in the year of our lord Jesus Jones two thousand and fourteen.

The piece notes that "all of the women interviewed for this story have found investors who they say have been wholly supportive throughout the process," which is terrific. Full-stop.

But I also note that all of the women pictured are young, thin, pretty women who appear to be white. Would women of color, out trans women, out gay women, fat women, older women, women with disabilities have survived the harassment and gone on to eventually secure funding, too? Who are the women who failed to secure funding, for reasons other than having an uninvestable product?

That is at least as important a story.

As we observe over and over in this space, if only the most privileged women are succeeding, even in spite of contemptible harassment, that's not an indication that at least some opportunities exist for all women.

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Open Thread

image of a cluster of onyx stones

Hosted by onyx.

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Question of the Day

What's for dinner? Or whatever the next meal of the day is in your part of the world.

I'm planning on making a salad with grilled chicken. Which is our super boring summer routine, but it's easy and tasty, so yay!

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Film Corner: Mad Max

[Content Note: Violence.]

Below, the trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road, starring a bright young upstart named Tom Hardy as the titular character, and Charlize Theron as Furiosa:

I'm sorry. I will not be able to provide a transcript because I am dead of swoon.

Just kidding! Here's the transcript:
A man stands in a desert, silhouetted against endless sand, beside a rusty car. Dry blowing wind. Voices making 911 emergency calls and reporting news about water and gas shortages, resulting in violence as people fight for resources. A lizard runs across a rock behind the man. In voiceover, he says, "My name is Max. My world is fire and blood." Wow, he sounds fun!

He gets in the rustbucket and drives away, only to be followed by a bunch of hooligans in a topless jeep and a rusted-out VW bug, accompanied by dudes on motorcycles. Watch out, Max!

Sand fireworks? I don't know.

They catch up to Max and his car flips over. Oh no! He tries to crawl away, but they get him. He's their prisoner now, and they're mean to him. They make him walk and shave off his long hair and tattoo his back. Because their world is fire and blood and being super terrible.

Sand. Dystopian cars like you'd definitely expect to see in a Mad Max movie. Bald Charlize Theron looking like a badass. Sand. Crashing cars. Bad people. Sand. Cars. Motorcycles. Rocks. Crashing cars. Weird lady-children? In white robes. On the sand.

So many dystopian vehicles and sand! Furiosa is definitely going to save Max. So he can save everyone, I bet! Good thing she's supposed to get her own movie after this one. You know what they say—ladies first, except in film franchises!

Jumping! Sand! Explosions! Lightning! Sand! Cars! Weapons! Sand! Spikes! Fighting! Driving! I am not giving this transcript short shrift. It is big-time montagery of all the things you would for sure find in a DIY Mad Max Kit.

Charlize Theron's face! Tom Hardy's face! Those are some terrific faces, right there!

Fighting! Sand! Cars! Explosions! Chasing! Being chased! SAND! CARS! "What's your name?" Furiosa asks Mad Max. He looks at her. The logo for MAD MAX comes onscreen. Coming in 2015.
I predict that this movie will get dreadful reviews, and that I will love it very much. The end.

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Follow-Up on What Has Been Happening

[Content Note: Abuse; harassment. This post is being published with the input of the moderators.]

In the day since I posted a detailed account of the activities of a hate site targeting Shakesville and the members of this community and anyone associated with me, we have received an overwhelming outpouring of support and love, for which I am immensely grateful. Thank you, so very much, to everyone who has taken time to stand with us—whether publicly or privately.

Literally hundreds of people have said in comments here and on Twitter that they do not want false concerns for their "safety" to be used as justification for harassing me, the contributors and mods, the commenters, my colleagues, and Iain.

But the response from the hate site has been to double-down and wildly spin cockamamie defenses of their vile harassment.

Among their justifications for the continued harassment are:

1. Their site is the only way to give me "feedback." Nope. (I'll come back to that.)

2. I don't understand humor. Actually, I do. I do question, however, whether they understand irony, given their position of policing my feminism while wielding classic antifeminist tropes like the Humorless Feminist at me, in defense of harassment and abuse of me and everyone about whom I care.

3. They're not trying to silence me. Good luck convincing anyone without a destructive agenda of the veracity of that ludicrous claim, when right in your mission statement is: "The fact is, her time needs to be finished."

4. That it isn't harassment because they aren't coming to our inboxes and on Twitter, and the site has nothing to do with our getting harassing, abusive, and threatening comments, emails, tweets, phone calls, etc.

This is grade-A unadulterated horseshit.

As I said in comments, no one can know what's in our inboxes. And, as more evidence of their knowing exactly the kind of person I really am, they know that I won't publish the names of people harassing me and expose them to retributive harm, so I can't push back on their claim that none of the people affiliated with that site have emailed me aside from saying: They have.

I have received countless emails that include favorable quotes from, screen caps of, and/or links to that site, admonishing me to read it, followed by all manner of bullshit, including very occasionally threats. Some of the Shakesville moderators have received similar emails.

Members of that site have also publicly come at me on Twitter. That they choose to ignore it, or claim it "doesn't count" because it wasn't the site administrator hirself, is indicative of how their defense is a constantly moving target.

If they say, "No one has come at you on Twitter," and I am able to point to people having come at me on Twitter, the defense then becomes, "No one who runs the site did it." And if I then make the point that the site is nonetheless clearly inciting harassment they claim it doesn't, then they resort to speculation it must be MRAs or 4¢han or someone trying to discredit them.

Sure it is.

That the site administrator and members of an obsessive hate site can express shock or disbelief that the result of running such a site is people harassing me via email and social media is an absurd and harmful lack of the most basic accountability.

They routinely dehumanize me and assert that I "must be stopped," and then have the fucking audacity to feign surprise when people treat me like I'm a monster who has to be stopped.

The site administrator encourages members of hir site to stir shit at Shakesville, calling it "great justice," and then imagines that hir readership, admittedly and openly a collection of people with an axe to grind, contains that shit-stirring only to my comments section, but never comes after me via my publicly posted email address or public Twitter account?

That is a profound denial of the harm zie is inciting against me.

Of course that is happening. Of course it is.

And the people doing it are positively braying about their affiliation with the hate site. I'm not making guesses. They are proud of it.

But I'm meant to believe, in contravention of all reason, that people like MRAs, who also have a beef with me, are trying to discredit a hate site that targets me? That defies logic.

Everyone is a liar. I'm a liar, the moderators are liars, the people who email me are liars. Everyone just lies all the time—except the people who are running an obsessive hate site.

Sounds legit.

5. I'm "abusive" for having banned people for violations of my clearly stated commenting policy and because I didn't respond to some emails, so I deserve it.

Again, and I cannot emphasize this enough, if all that was happening at that site was criticism of the commenting policy and moderation decisions, and/or people commiserating about how terrible Shakesville is, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

I don't agree that it's "abusive" to push back against and/or ban someone for behaving in my space in a way I find objectionable. Virtually every single online space with a comments section draws boundaries around what constitutes acceptable commenting; mine are much tighter than most other spaces, but that doesn't make them "abusive."

I also don't agree that it's "abusive" to fail to respond to every single email I receive. Especially since my posted Email Policy clearly states that I won't: "I simply can't respond to everyone anymore; be aware that reaching out with an expectation that I will respond, and/or respond in precisely the way you want, is not good faith."

Sometimes I don't respond to emails because I miss them, or because I don't have time, or any number of reasons including because there's something about them that sends up a red flag—and, given that there are people justifying their participation in a hate site by my having failed to respond to their email(s), it seems like my instincts to not reply to some of these folks were pretty solid.

But, sure, other people are free to say these decisions are "abusive." The thing is: That's not all they're doing.

6. If I don't like it, I don't have to read it, just like I say about Shakesville.

Firstly, let me underscore, again, that they openly state they want me to read the site. See their justification at #1, which claims that the site is for providing me with "feedback." On the one hand, it's specifically designed for my edification; on the other, I should just ignore it.

And, again, when I was failing to give it the attention they felt it deserved, in an escalation entirely typical of abusers, they starting coming at people I love, in order to force me to pay attention.

To then turn around and try to claim that I should just ignore them is rank dishonesty.

Secondly, whoooooops one of these things is not like the other.

I am not writing a site dedicated to obsessively documenting and fucking with someone's life. The site administrator of the hate site, however, is running a site on which people are allowed to state, as fact and unchallenged, that I am breaking the law. On which my husband's employment information is posted for an audience primed to fuck with us. On which they coordinate troublemaking at my website, my livelihood, with the explicit goal of shutting me down.

Even if all of us who have been targeted could simply choose not to read their "critiques," there is so much stuff posted at the hate site that goes well beyond any "critique" and into territory that could have meaningful consequences for my personal and professional lives.

7. Which brings us to their primary justification for the continued harassment and abuse of people even tenuously associated with this space: It's just criticism.

Bullshit. Bullshit.

They are defending their continued harassment and abuse by saying that what I consider harassment and abuse, everyone else considers "criticism."

But vast amounts of what is posted at the hate site is demonstrably not "criticism."

Not Criticism: "The fact is, her time needs to be finished."

Not Criticism: Positing all kinds of absurd and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about me. See, here's the thing—for something to be valid criticism, there has to be evidence of the thing you're criticizing.

Not Criticism: Deliberately misnaming me to annoy and dehumanize me.

Not Criticism: Orchestrated trolling of my website.

Not Criticism: Stalking my husband—or even mentioning him, as he has nothing to do with the management or moderation of this site.

Not Criticism: Saying that I abuse my husband. Speculating about my marriage at all. That I talk about my marriage on the blog does not make it "fair game."

Not Criticism: Talking about doing violence to one of the people I love most in the world.

Not Criticism: Harassing my colleagues, friends, and family. Tracking down their personal or professional websites in order to find things to use against me/them. Posting lies about them. Intimidating them. Policing the nature of our relationships. Calling them, and me, liars about their own disabilities. Diagnosing them, and me, with mental illnesses.

Not Criticism: Policing every aspect of my personal life.

Not Criticism: Obsessing over how much money I make, whether I pay taxes, how I spend my money, and accusing me of breaking employment and tax laws.

Not Criticism: Saying that my house is filthy. Asking the person who claims to have viewed my filthy home to provide photographic evidence.

Not Criticism: Accusing me of lying about my cat being tiny to get attention. Speculating about how I abuse my dog.

Not Criticism: Debating whether it's acceptable to mock me for being fat.

Not Criticism: Commenting negatively on my tattoos. (Seriously, I don't care what you think of them, but that is not criticism of my work.)

I could go on (and on and on and on), but I think my point is pretty evident. The assertion that the only thing that happens in that space is "criticism" of my/our work, of the content and moderation at Shakesville, is an indefensible misrepresentation of the site's actual content.

I frankly don't think that I'm the one who's confused about what the definition of "criticism" is.

* * *

People have asked me what they can do to help, and the truth is that the best thing anyone can do, as long as they feel safe doing it, is continue to cast sunlight on what's being done to me, to the moderators, to Iain, to this community.

I would not ask anyone to put themselves on this group's radar on my behalf, because here I am talking about what they do to people who associate with me.

But for those who want to help, and feel safe doing so, talk about it. Push back. My profound thanks to my friends and colleagues who have written supportive pieces. (I will link some of them for everyone to see, as soon as I've gotten consent to share them in this space.)

And, for those who want to help, but don't feel safe pushing back publicly, your quiet support is meaningful. Thank you for the emails.

Thank you to anyone who has communicated, in any way: This is wrong.

UPDATE: This piece by my friend Kath, also known as Fat Heffalump, is amazing. And I am sharing it with her permission. Thank you, Kath. ♥

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Daily Dose of Cute

close-up image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt, sleeping on the chaise with the tip of her tongue hanging out
Zelly, just snoozing with her tongue out. Like ya do.

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

Michael Franti: "Life Is Better with You"

(Yeah, I know. I post this all the time. But that's because IT'S TERRIFIC!)

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President Obama Considers Move on Immigration

[Content Note: Anti-immigrationism.]

President Obama is reportedly mulling a massive move on immigration ahead of the mid-term elections in November, which would "grant work permits to potentially millions of immigrants who are in this country illegally, allowing them to stay in the United States without threat of deportation."

That sounds terrific, although there's a caveat: "Advocates would like to see deferred action made available to anyone who would have been eligible for eventual citizenship under a comprehensive immigration bill the Senate passed last year, which would be around 9 million people. But Obama told them in a meeting a month ago to 'right-size' expectations, even as he pledged to be aggressive in steps he does take."

Hmm. Well.

So how might he make the distinction regarding to which undocumented immigrants to extend some sort of legal residency? "That's led advocates to focus on other populations Obama might address, including parents or legal guardians of U.S. citizen children (around 3.8 million people as of 2009, according to an analysis by Pew Research's Hispanic Trends Project) and parents or legal guardians of DACA recipients (perhaps 500,000 to 1 million people, according to the Fair Immigration Reform Movement)."

So starting with keeping families together. Though, of course, that may exclude, say, an aunt or uncle who is part of a family but not a parent. It sure ain't perfect.

Anyway, a lot of options are apparently being considered. We'll see what proposals emerge.

One thing about which we can be almost certain, however:

Such a large-scale move on immigration could scramble election-year politics and lead some conservative Republicans to push for impeachment proceedings against President Barack Obama, a prospect White House officials have openly discussed.
Of course.

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Here Is Some Good News

A federal appeals court has ruled Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional:

A federal appeals court on Monday struck down Virginia's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, saying that withholding the fundamental right to marry from gay couples is a new form of "segregation" that the Constitution cannot abide.

The 2-to-1 decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, based in Richmond, upheld a lower court's decision and extended an extraordinary winning streak in the federal courts for proponents of same-sex marriage.

Legal challenges to state bans filed systematically nationwide have prevailed in every test since the Supreme Court in June 2013 struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Two federal appeals courts have now said the bans are unconstitutional. The Supreme Court probably will have to make the final determination and could consider the issue as soon as next year.

...The 4th Circuit covers Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Of those states, only Maryland allows same-sex couples to marry.

There are challenges in the other states, and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) announced after the ruling that his office will cease its "vigorous" defense of the state's ban.

"It's time to stop making arguments we will lose and instead move forward" to a final resolution at the Supreme Court, he said.
Yes, true. It's time to stop making arguments you will lose, and also time to stop making arguments that are fundamentally indecent, whether you would win or lose with them in court.

There is no compelling reason to reject marriage equality. Preserving straight privilege is not a compelling reason. Privileging religious doctrine (which by the way conflicts with other religious doctrine supportive of same-sex marriage) to which millions of USians don't subscribe is not a compelling reason. Homophobia is not a compelling reason.

It's unjustifiable. And the courts are finally starting to agree.

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Open Thread

image of three Otterhounds, large shaggy dogs, the middle one of which is shaking hir head

Hosted by Otterhounds.

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This Is What Has Been Happening

[Content Note: Abuse; harassment.]

Over the past week, I have been talking to the contributors and moderators, as well as to Iain, to decide how to best to approach this situation. This post is being published with their consent and input.

I have written previously about the abuse and harassment I've faced as a result of doing this job. But I've never spoken directly about the most active hate site, an outgrowth of another now-defunct hate site, the members of which have, for years, been obsessively documenting everything that happens at Shakesville.

The people who run and participate in this site are largely disgruntled former commenters, some of whom left on their own after I disappointed them in some way, and some of whom were banned after violating the commenting policy. There are, increasingly, participants at the site who have never even engaged at Shakesville, but just find some satisfaction in participating in a space dedicated to the explicit purpose of destroying this community.

screen cap of a page from the hate site labeled 'Stop Listening to Melissa McEwan' to which I've added a graphic highlighting a quote reading: 'The fact is, her time needs to be finished. No more invitations to Femfest. No more quotes in mainstream media. Done. Find something else Melissa. Maybe recaps since that's the majority of your content when you're not being snide and nasty.'
[Screen cap with pull quote added by me.]

They explicitly want to chase me out of my space, offline, and want me to have no opportunities to make a living doing what I've done for the last ten years of my life. They want this community to cease to exist because they don't like me and the commenting policy, and don't care what destroying it would mean for the people to whom this community means something.

The hate site operates under the auspices of warning people—namely, you, the active commenters, whom they routinely deride as too stupid or gullible to "save" yourselves from me—away from this community, where they assert people are "abused," the examples of which are inevitably people being held accountable for violations of the clearly stated commenting policy.

But, despite their preposterous claims to be engaging in legitimate criticism to prevent abuse, they in fact engage in egregious harassment and abuse themselves—of me, of the contributors and moderators, of Iain, and, increasingly, of commenters.

What constitutes "legitimate criticism" is, for example, a thread with 472 comments debating whether it's acceptable to mock me for being fat and/or not understanding how my own body works.

What constitutes "legitimate criticism" is, as other examples, a thread discussing wanting to slap Deeky in the face, or discussing how Ana Mardoll is like a "cat lady" who will be eaten by her cats when she dies, or tracking down a WordPress test site I was using to explore alternative commenting options and then spinning wild conspiracy theories about what I was really up to.

What constitutes "legitimate criticism" is, as but one more example of literally hundreds, routinely referring to me as "Liz," because I objected to being misnamed in comments here. The stated purpose is to try to harm me. It's also a simple way of dehumanizing me: I am not Melissa McEwan, a real person, but Liz, a cartoonish version of me wholly invented by people who are making an existential attack on me and this space.

"Legitimate criticism" is their pretense for engaging in rank abuse and the dissemination of ludicrous conspiracy theories and lies, often posted by anonymous submitters, of whom are required no proof or substantiation of their claims.

Relentlessly, members of the hate site propose and promulgate all sorts of conspiracy theories and straight-up lies about me and the moderators, including but not limited to: That I am a cult leader; that I'm not invested in this community beyond whatever capacity I have to exploit it for personal gain; that I trick people into becoming moderators by feigning friendships with them; that a moderator repeatedly emailed a commenter to harass her; that I have created multiple identities to sockpuppet at this and other sites; that Ana Mardoll and I am the same person; that I have invented Iain; that I abuse Iain; that my marriage is a sham; that I live in filth; that Iain makes so much money I don't need to work; that I make lots of money; that I make no money; that I pay no income taxes; that I do not have health problems; that I do have mental problems aside those from which I've disclosed; that I am a compulsive liar; that I am lying about Sophie being tiny to get attention; that I abuse Zelly because she is "fat."

None of these things are true. I certainly don't imagine that I will convince anyone who is inclined to believe any of this garbage; the reason I am sharing this truncated list of absurdity is simply to delineate the unfathomable and varied scope of the desperate, unethical, irrational attacks that have been levied in an attempt to discredit me and anyone associated with me, without the merest shred of honesty or decency.

They aren't even consistent in their wild accusations. If one attack doesn't work (Iain is a figment of my imagination), then on to the next one (I abuse my husband), without even the slightest hesitation at the promotion of demonstrably incompatible theories.

Truth is irrelevant, when the point is simply destruction.

All of this was ignorable, as long as it was contained to being directed at me. In truth, I have never even visited the site (and I have no plans to do so). Trusted friends have kept me abreast of the goings-on, repeatedly urging me not to look at the site myself, as I've got enough abuse to process from other sources, and instead alerting me when there was something they thought I'd want to know, such as orchestrated trolling of Shakesville. All of the linked screen captures included for sample documentation in this piece have been taken by others, who were concerned for me, themselves, and/or the members of this community. I had, unfortunately, a vast store of screen captures of abuse from which to select the few provided examples.

In spite of the insistent assertion made by the administrators and participants at the site that I am a voracious narcissist who only cares for myself (the sort of person who would care immensely if untrue things were being said about them), I have cultivated over the years of doing this work a keen capacity to ignore bullshit being said about me.

I do not and cannot ignore when people decide to go after people about whom I care, in order to get to me.

There is no better evidence that, in reality, the people who inhabit the hate site know exactly who I really am than the fact that when coming after me wasn't working, they went after the people I love.

They know that I am a person who cares profoundly about other people's safety, and they have endeavored to exploit that.

They now obsessively document the contributions of all the writers and moderators to this space, including what they do in their own spaces, if they blog elsewhere. Portly Dyke, who hasn't been active on the site for years, as she's now the primary caretaker of her elderly parents, is still a target. Her professional blog has been scrutinized and discussed, despite the fact that it has nothing to do with Shakesville. When I don't give them enough fodder for obsessive discussion and documentation, they go after Ana Mardoll:

screen cap of a page from the hate site labeled 'An Ana Mardoll Break' to which I've added a graphic highlighting a quote reading: 'Since Liz isn't giving me a whole lot to work with this week I thought I'd have a peeksy over at Ana's place and see what all this Twilight business is about. Much like the Wendy Davis transcript, Ana is trudging on doing the [lord's crossed out] feminist's work and recapping the Meyers masterpiece.'
[Screen cap with pull quote added by me.]

Just her association with me makes her "fair game."

They have posted vicious personal smears against the contributors and moderators, told flat-out lies about them, mischaracterized our relationships, and demeaned them in innumerable ways.

Those words, that one sentence, cannot begin to encapsulate the breadth of hostility which has been unleashed against the moderators of this space, under the ludicrous claim of preventing abuse.

In one entirely typical instance, the site administrator justified their torrents of abuse against me by saying that people like Ana Mardoll don't understand how dangerous Shakesville is, and that she needs to have her wrongheadedness pointed out to her so that she might realize Shakesville isn't a safe space for her. That post was sandwiched in between two posts harassing Ana Mardoll.

Consistently, they justify abuse of me with claims of protecting Ana, for example, then engage in wild speculation about Ana's mental health and physical disability.

They have found Iain's LinkedIn profile and posted screen shots of it, and have discussed where he works, what he does for a living, and how much he might make. After his profile was posted, he got a flurry of contact requests from people he doesn't know, hoping to exploit his one bit of online presence, which has nothing to do with Shakesville, in order to get access to our personal lives.

A former contributor to this space, whom I once invited into my home, used my having trusted her with access to our personal lives to give verisimilitude to her tall tales of having seen in person our filthy home and my emotional abuse of Iain.

All of this is treated as truth.

Further, former commenters to this space, to some of whom I've given considerable amounts of my time and concern to help them in some personal or professional way, participate there—bitterly resentful of having been banned for repeated violations of the safe space, which only meant as much to them as it protected them, and nobody else. Naturally, they aren't inclined to share stories of Liss, who cared about them, but gleefully pile on the abuse of Liz, who is a cartoonish effigy of me. There are breathtaking betrayals out of nothing but sheer vengeance, and it has made me deeply reluctant to be as open with strangers in need as I used to be.

To make the obvious point, there could not be more compelling evidence that we made the right moderating decisions regarding these former commenters than the quality of the content at that site.

They demonstrate in every conceivable way that they are hostile to the ideas, central to the space here, of consent for boundaries and harm mitigation.

Their harassment does not stay contained at the site. It comes to me via Twitter and my inbox. When I take time off, I get calls from numbers I don't recognize, so I can't get a moment's peace. Threatening messages have been left on my voicemail, or, sometimes, just maniacal laughter, so as not to break any laws. Other writers/online activists have reported to me receiving communications admonishing them not to have anything to do with me.

And, of course, it comes to this space. Their primary beef, which I'm certain they would dispute but is evidenced in every obsessive documentation of the moderation here and the detailing of how they were "abused" by me and/or the moderators, is that I draw and defend boundaries in my own space.

So it is no surprise that they are deeply hostile to those boundaries, and have no interest in engaging here in good faith.

It is the opposite of good faith to coordinate and orchestrate shit-stirring, then come over here and do it, then run back there to complain bitterly when we moderate those comments in exactly the way they know we're going to moderate it.

They operate within this space with the goal of forcing our moderation to become tighter and tighter, and then, having been the cause of ever tighter moderation, they accuse us of being "abusive."

The pitiful irony is that they use some of the very same rules of participation at their hate site that we do here:

screen cap of a comments section from the hate site, in which one commenter is taking the admin to task: '…you believe what she's saying and explicitly state your biases. Saying that it's because fat shaming might happen is pretty weak' and the admin responding: 'Okay so anyway, no. This isn't up for discussion…'

The breathtaking hypocrisy: If I set off-topic something that I don't want debated in my space, I'm "abusive." But there, it's just eminently reasonable moderation.

(For the record, I believe anyone has the right to set off-topic in their own space whatever they want. My contention is that the same right is not afforded to me, without fear of harassment in response.)

And their "borrowing" from Shakesville does not end there, naturally. After positing a conspiracy theory about how I use the Open Threads as a sort of gateway drug to recruit sycophants to my cult, they started posting Open Threads of their own. After complaining about Shaker Gourmet threads, they started posting food threads of their own. The site admin hosts threads inviting people to share how they found their way to the space, just as I have done many times. They mock me for posting content like kitty videos, and then post kitty videos. They even use a variation on the teaspoon concept in their tagline: "Knocking down Shakesville 3/4 cup at a time."

In a nod to the possessive and projective nature of stalking, they ape me even as they claim to despise me, and they imagine me to be capable and desirous of doing the very things they do: Lying, sock-puppeting, infiltrating their space to stir shit.

But, unlike me, they are not remotely concerned with the safety of other people.

Once more, if they had contained their harassment and abuse to their space, and the direction of its trajectory toward me, I would not be writing this piece.

But they came after people I loved: They decided that, because they hate me and the policies of this space, anyone associated with me is fair game.

And they justify posting dishonest, unethical, abusive harassment of the moderators, my husband, and commenters by claiming to be concerned about them, about you. They actively harm people, and then claim to be doing it out of concern.

To state the obvious: No one is required to read this space, and no one who reads it is required to participate in comments. All anyone has to do to avoid the monster that is Melissa McEwan and her cult of abusive moderators is not read Shakesville and/or not follow me on Twitter.

I haven't written for an external publication in years. I have done a total of three on-site speaking engagements in a decade. My sphere of influence is limited to people who seek me out.

I am fully cognizant of the fact that Shakesville isn't for everyone. And the way most people deal with finding Shakesville disagreeable for any one of a number of reasons is simply not reading it.

Not that anything could justify this sort of harassment, but that underlines the point that this is an existential attack on me and this entire community. The administrators and participants of the hate site don't like me, and instead of simply ignoring Shakesville, they seek its complete annihilation.

When I take time off, and they believe it's because I'm on the verge of quitting, they celebrate.

The past week, I have been thinking long and hard about how I can continue to run this space, when I know that anyone affiliated me will be considered fair game. I cannot begin to convey the guilt and the hurt and the rage I feel that the moderators have been harassed and abused as a result of their association with me; and that which I feel because commenters are targeted as a result of their participation in this community.

And, to state the obvious, I am angry that I am being harassed and abused, too.

I have been desperately looking for a way through this, because I don't want to quit. I don't want to lose my community; I don't want to close a community that means so much to so many people; I don't want to give up on the space into which I've put so much energy; I don't want to lose my livelihood.

But I also don't want to keep it at the expense of people being harmed.

So: I have been working with my colleagues, my friends, to try to find a way to move forward while protecting people as best I can.

To that end: We are making some changes to the moderation policy. In addition to changing some members of the moderating team, moderators will now be doing moderation under anonymous moderator accounts. (Except for me. I will still be moderating under my own name.)

We have always wanted to have complete transparency regarding moderation in this space, but I have to weigh transparency against the safety of the moderators. All I can do is assure you that these changes are not being made because we want to make them, nor because we want to be anything less than transparent.

If you're angry about these changes, well, so am I. That anger is best directed at the people who forced us to make them.

I want to make it very clear that I have made no attempt to get their site shut down, and I am not imploring anyone to engage with them, and certainly not exhorting anyone to harass them in response.

If you feel obliged to do something, then you can leave a comment below saying, in no uncertain terms, that you do not consent to be harassed and that you do not want false professions of concern for your well-being to be used as a justification for abuse against me, the moderators, my colleagues, Iain, other commenters, and anyone else they see fit to harass because of their association, no matter how tenuous, with Shakesville.

I have no illusions about what will happen once this is published: The harassment will escalate.

But I am not intending to start a war.

(Or, perhaps more accurately, I am not intending to respond in kind to the one-sided war currently underway.)

To the contrary: What I am doing is shining a spotlight on what is being done to me, to the moderators, to commenters, to my colleagues, and to my husband. I am stating, bluntly, that we are being harmed. I am doing the best that I can to protect and defend the people I love, and myself, and I am staking a claim to my own space.

I needed to tell you what was happening, so that you know what we're up against and so that you can be fully informed—I can't stop them from screen-capping your comments and saying stupid things about you; I can't even stop them from going after my husband.

And I needed to tell you because I need the support of my community.

I also want to say this plainly: The moderators of this space are some of the most incredibly decent people I have ever known. They don't deserve this. None of us do. And this damnable lie that the moderators are sycophants who capitulate to me cannot go unaddressed: Every single moderator is part of the moderating team specifically because, in part, they are willing to challenge me, because they expect more of me.

Fuck anyone who wants to hurt them, or my husband, or you, because they don't like me.

That is not criticism. That is harassment; it is exploitation; it is abuse.

And it needs to stop.

[Commenting Guidelines: I am not going to allow any kind of "debate" about whether this abuse toward us is: 1. Justifiable; 2. Not abuse. Any comment even remotely along those lines will be deleted. And the only people who are going to have a problem with that, or try to classify it as "shutting down criticism" or some other bullshit that elides criticism and abuse are not the same thing, are the very people who don't engage here in good faith, and I don't give the tiniest fuck about accommodating them. And, frankly, I don't think any reasonable person, after reading all of the above, will begrudge me the absolute right to keep this shit out of my space.]

NOTE: There is a follow-up post here.

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Blog Note

I'm taking a few days off. See you soon.

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Open Thread

images of words like 'whoosh!' and 'bang!' and 'thunk!' in comic book styling

Hosted by onomatopoeia.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker BlueJean: "What's your most memorable scene from a movie from the past ten years? Not your favorite movie, necessarily, but the scene that comes to your mind most often."

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Photo of the Day

image of a protestor in Detroit holding up a handwritten sign reading: THIRSTY FOR JUSTICE.

Jon Swaine:
When the coast is clear, and the trucks from the contractor shutting off water for the city of Detroit have rolled away, the men with water keys come.

They offer residents whose supply has just been shut off a tempting deal. For $20, they will use their tools to turn the water main back on immediately, and illegally, sparing the household the agonising days spent without showering, cooking or flushing that have already been endured by at least 16,000 of their neighbours so far this year.

It is only the most desperate action being taken in response to the beleaguered city's aggressive campaign to recoup $89m in overdue water bills by abruptly cutting the supplies of people behind on their payments. Amid growing anger, Detroit officials agreed in court on Monday to a two-week pause, to allow poor customers to come forward and show that they genuinely cannot afford to pay. But then the shutoffs will resume.

"You're going to do what you have to do to get water back on in your home," said Valerie Blakely, a community organiser and mother of five whose overdue bill stands at more than $1,000. "As far as I'm concerned, what the city is doing is the illegal activity. You're not going to come and put us in a life-or-death situation and not have us act like we are fighting for our own survival."
Read the whole thing here.

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Gov. Rick Perry to Deploy National Guard to Border

[Content Note: Anti-immigrationism; racism; militarization.]

Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry has announced that he is sending National Guard troops to the US border to stop the inflow of undocumented immigrants, including a large number of children:

The governor's office confirmed this morning that Rick Perry will order 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas border to beef up patrols in South Texas.

...Perry called the troops a "force multiplier" that would help DPS and other law enforcement officials deal with criminal activity by those entering the country illegally.

The guard troops will be embedded with state troopers and other law enforcement because they cannot legally detain someone on their own authority.

...He gave no indication where the funding for the operation would come from, instead saying that he hoped the federal government would eventually reimburse the state for the $12 million monthly cost of calling up the Guard.
Perry says he refuses to "stand idly by while American citizens are attacked" and that "the price of inaction is too high for Texans to pay," but this hyperbole doesn't reflect what's actually happening, which is a "small uptick in crime along the border."

The local law enforcement tasked with navigating crime along the border does not share Perry's alarm:
But sheriffs along the border said they have not been consulted and question the wisdom of sending military personnel who are not authorized to stop, question or arrest anyone.

"At this time, a lot of people do things for political reasons. I don't know that it helps," said Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio.

Lucio said deputies, police and the U.S. Border Patrol work well together and that they have been able to handle the small uptick in crime along the border.

"I don't know what good they can do," Lucio said of military personnel. "I need people who I can hire who know the community, the language and who can help."

Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra also told the McAllen Monitor that the Guard troops can't make arrests and he didn't know what their objective would be.

"The National Guard — they're trained in warfare; they're not trained in law enforcement,” he said. "I need to find out what their actual role is going to be, but I think the money would be better spent giving local law enforcement more funds."

..."You just can't come out here and be a police officer," Lucio said, adding that he is concerned at the move to militarize the border.

"Eventually, they might get into trouble," he said of the Guard. "They're trained for different things."
Emphases mine.

This is political posturing, and it will come at the expense of people's safety and lives.

Imagine how many people "who know the community, the language and who can help" could be hired for $12 million monthly. So many people! Imagine if Governor Rick Perry actually listened to the people who are on the ground, and gave them the funding they need to better do the jobs they know best how to do.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt lying on the stairs beside Olivia the White Farm Cat, who's curled up on top of Iain's black workbag
Two good girls: Zelly guards the stairs and Olivia keeps Iain's bag warm over the weekend.

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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The Monday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by summer.

Recommended Reading:

Carla: [CN: Misogynoir; murder] Trial for Man Who Murdered Renisha McBride Begins Today

Trudy: [CN: Misogynoir; murder] Remember Renisha McBride and That Imperfect Black Women's Lives Also Matter

David: [CN: Class warfare] Raising the Minimum Wage Creates More Jobs

Nina: [CN: Harassment; war on agency] Massachusetts Senate Introduces Bill Responding to Supreme Court Buffer Zone Ruling

Jim: [CN: Homophobia] Indiana Woman Claims Water Park Kicked Her Out Because She's Gay

BYP: [CN: Racism; vandalism] Tuskegee Airmen Statues Vandalized in Chicago

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

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Des'ree: "You Gotta Be"

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Quote of the Day

"America's federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people. I'm going to do what I can with the authority I have to act."—President Barack Obama, during remarks at the White House before he signed "an executive order banning workplace discrimination against millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors and the federal government. The executive order has two parts: It makes it illegal to fire or harass employees of federal contractors based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and it explicitly bans discrimination against transgender employees of the federal government."

He did not include a provision in his executive order exempting discrimination on the basis of religious belief.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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So This Happened

[Content Note: Hostility to consent.]

There is an organization called "Help a Reporter Out," known as HARO, to which reporters seeking sources can post queries.

This morning, someone who is a member of HARO (and who has given me hir consent to republish this anonymously) sent me the following listing zie found at the site:

screen cap of email sent to listserv reading: 'Subject: HARO on social justice activism | 21) Summary: Social Justice Activism and Psychology | Category: General | Email: | Media Outlet: Anonymous | Deadline: 7:00 AM EST - 21 July | Query: I am working on a piece about the toxicity of online (and offline) social justice figures and groups (think: Shakesville, [Hug0 $chwyz3r]). If you are familiar with some of the many abuses committed in the name of social justice and specialize in psychology, I would love to talk to you. The piece is being published on a well-known news and opinion website. | Requirements: Psychologist'

So, basically, someone is seeking a psychologist to quote in order to do a write-up on Shakesville, in which I'll evidently be compared to Hug0 $chwyz3r and psychoanalyzed by someone who doesn't even know me, for a "well-known news and opinion site."

I don't know who the person is planning to write this piece, nor do I know what site intends to publish it.

What I do know is that I have not given my permission to be profiled, and I certainly have not consented to let a psychologist who does not even know me publicly diagnose me and/or discuss me.

One of the things that I and the other moderators of this space do not allow is armchair diagnosis of other people. We don't do it on the main page, and we don't allow it in comments. That is rank disablist garbage. There is a particular irony that someone writing a piece on "the many abuses committed in the name of social justice" would engage in an abusive behavior that is not allowed in the space I manage in order to accuse me of "toxicity" and "abuse."

As a side note, HARO includes in its "Rules" section the following: "5. Be excellent to each other. Violating any of the above rules will result in a first time warning, and upon a second violation, being banned from the service. HARO works on mutual trust and support."

I guess that doesn't apply to the people on whom their members are seeking to write hit pieces.

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: War; death] In Israel and Gaza: "The Palestinian death toll in an Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip rose above 500 on Monday as the army said it had killed 10 militants who tunnelled into Israel, while Gazan officials said an Israeli tank shelled a hospital, killing civilians. A day after he was caught by an open microphone saying sarcastically that the Israeli assault was 'a hell of a pinpoint operation,' U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Cairo to try to secure an end to the two-week conflict." Hamas killed 13 Israeli solders on Sunday, and the Israeli military killed, in addition to the militants, "28 members of a single family at the southern end" of the Gaza Strip, while, at Al-Aqsa hospital, "four people were killed and 70 wounded when an Israeli tank shell slammed into the third floor, housing operating theatres and an intensive care unit, the Health Ministry said. The Israeli military, which has accused Hamas militants of firing rockets from the grounds of Gaza hospitals and seeking refuge there, had no immediate comment." President Barack Obama has called for an "immediate ceasefire." Which doesn't look likely to happen.

[CN: War; downed plane; death] The war in Ukraine is hindering the investigation and recovery of Flight 17: "As Dutch forensic experts arrived at the scene of the Malaysia Airlines crash on Monday and promised that the train being loaded with the victims' bodies would be moved before the end of the day, heavy fighting broke out between the Ukrainian army and rebels on the outskirts of Donetsk, the main regional city and the hub of the insurgency." Fuck.

[CN: Disablism; death penalty] A study by researchers Robert J. Smith, Sophie Cull, and ZoĆ« Robinson has found that a "majority of the 100 executed inmates examined" for their research "had 'a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder or psychosis.' Yet, because of an oddity in the Supreme Court’s death penalty cases, it is typically constitutional under existing precedents to execute people with these illnesses." In fact, "the overwhelming majority of executed offenders had intellectual and psychological deficits that rivaled—and sometimes outpaced—those associated with intellectual disability and juvenile status."

[CN: Misogyny] Nathan Rabin, the writer who coined the phrase "manic pixie dream girl," regrets having coined it. I dunno. I feel like it was a useful description for a misogynist trope, and it's not really his fault that people took it and used it in a misogynist way to demean female characters as opposed to the people who wrote them. (And, sometimes, real women.)

[CN: War on agency; reproductive coercion] This may be one of the worst things you read today, or ever: "Men have a right and a role in the abortion issue." Basically, this dude thinks their role is reproductive coercion, and definitely not advocating for reproductive rights and protected choice. One word: "MENistry." Yikes.

RIP James Garner. His films and TV roles played such a huge part in my childhood. His death feels so weirdly personal, the way celebrity deaths sometimes do. I feel very sad.

And finally! Smudge the Cat defended his five-year-old guardian from bullies and is a HERO. Yay Smudge! WHO'S A GOOD KITTY CAT? YOU ARE!!!

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Debra Harrell Update

[Content Note: Criminalization of need; rape culture; racism; classism.]

Last week, I wrote about Debra Harrell, the mother who was arrested after allowing her nine-year-old daughter to play in a nearby park while she was working at McDonald's.

teaspoon icon There is a fundraiser for Debra Harrell here, for those of you who were interested in donating.

teaspoon icon Also: There is a petition here, to the Director of Public Safety of North Augusta and the Acting State Director of the South Carolina Department of Social Services, requesting charges be dropped against Harrell.

Two other things:

1. @prisonculture reported over the weekend that McDonald's has terminated Debra Harrell's employment. So, basically, McDonald's fired someone because they don't pay her enough to afford childcare.

2. I've been thinking about this incident a lot in the last week, and how the decision to criminalize a mother's decision to let her child go to a highly populated public park, with a mobile phone, is deeply rooted in narratives of the rape culture, because sexual assault is the primary thing people fear happening to an "unattended" child.

But there are children sexually abused in daycare, or by babysitters. Even when those babysitters are family members. There are children sexually abused by their own parents. It's simply not realistic, at all, to assume that Debra Harrell's daughter was in more danger because she was playing in a public park than if she'd been in the care of another adult.

And it's frankly not right to suggest that any parent is capable of making sure no harm comes to their child(ren), ever. Obviously there are parents who are truly neglectful, but this simply isn't one of those cases.

All reason gets tossed aside like rubbish in discussions of child safety, but the truth is that the best way to make kids genuinely unsafe is to make sure they can't trust adults if or when they are in actual danger.

If you teach children that other adults who think something is wrong are inclined to call the police, which results in your mom being arrested and losing her job while you're put in foster care, those kids are not going to seek help from other adults, if even they really need it.

So, you know, congratulations to the Concerned Citizens who cared so much for this child's welfare that they got her forcibly removed from her mother and undermined her ability to seek help when she actually needs it.

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Class Warfare

Is Not: Dirty socialists who advocate for the wealthiest nation in the history of the planet to provide to its every citizen access to basic human necessities including a livable wage.

Is: Reprehensible shitlords of undiluted privilege who feel oppressed by our resistance to their claimed right to bask forever unbothered in the shimmering, golden glow of their gloriously gilded bootstraps.

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Open Thread

image of an ocelot in close-up

Hosted by an ocelot.

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Open Thread

image of a vintage Nintendo console

Hosted by the Nintendo Family Computer.

This week's Open Threads have been brought to you by the letter N.

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Open Thread

image of three Newfoundland dogs: three big, hairy, adorable dogs, two of them black and one of them brown

Hosted by Newfoundlands.

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